So far, we have come to realize that Allah azza wa jal revealed the Qur’an to reform human conditions; to take people out of ignorance and darkness and into light. To carry out this purpose laws had to be enacted to make sure the system of Islaam was established perfectly and correctly. Last article we talked about two of the four basic principles relating to Qur’anic revelation. We will continue with the last two now.
3) The Realization of Public Welfare
It is essential to talk about something known as naskh (abrogation) in the Qur’an. Relating to certain issues, verses have been abrogated by Allah to manifest the human welfare conditions in Islamic legislation. Allah azza wa jal may have prescribed certain laws which were suitable to a people at a time of its enactment. However, its suitibility may later dissapear and thus require abrogation.
For example, in regards to the issue of mourning periods:
Initially, the mourning period for a widow was one year and the husband had to include in his will provisions for maintenence and housing for the year. She was unable to leave the house and was unable to get re-married during that year. However, later the waiting period was reduced to four months and ten days and the bequest was cancelled.
Why did it change?
It was the custom of the Arabs at the time to confine widows and prevent them from getting re-married for indefinite periods of time (unfortunately this practice still occurs in parts of the world). And during this time they were obliged to wear the worst of clothes. If the waiting period had been reduced to four months and ten days and the permission to leave the house was granted from the get go the Arabs would have found it difficult and and hesitated accepting it. But in the perfect wisdom of Allah, He revealed laws knowing the conditions of the people and thus making it easier for them to adapt to the Islamic system of life. Thus, we see that naskh contained in it great consideration for human conditions and their welfare.
Even though abrogation ended with the death of our beloved sallalahu alayhi wasalam, legislative consideration of human welfare still existed afterwards because Islamic laws were enacted for reasons which were often mentioned to the Companions radhiAllah anhum.
For example, Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun [Surah Baqarah V. 18]
The concept of abrogation is also evident in the sunnah of the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam, for example with the prohibition of visiting grave yards. The Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam said:
“I had forbidden you from visiting graveyards, however, permission has been given to me to visit the grave of my mother. So, visit them, for they do remind one of the next life” [Sahih Muslim]
4) The Realization of Universal Justice
The laws Allah revealed to mankind are general and they are for all of mankind; no distinction between one group or another. Justice is for everyone and it is the job of a true Muslim to provide justice to all people, no matter who they are or what group they belong to.
Of the most beautiful examples of true Islamic justice is found in the seerah of Rasool Allah sallalalahu alayhi wasalam. A women from a very powerful tribe had stolen jewelry and she confessed when the news was brought to the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam. Her tribesmen wasnted to save her from the punishment and from the shame of having the Islamic punishment applied for stealing, so they asked Usaamah ibn Zayd radhiAllah anhu to intercede on her behalf. Usaamah approached the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam to intercede, however upon hearing the words of Usaamah he got very angry and said:
_“Do you dare to intercede in one of Allah’s fixed punishements?” Rasool Allah sallalahu alayhi wasalam then gathered the people together and delivered a sermon in which he said: “The people before you were destroyed because they let the nobles fo when they stone, but applied Allah’s punishments on the weak. By Allah! if my own daughter Faatimah stole I would cut off her hand” [Sahih Muslim]**
SubhanAllah. Look at the justice of our beloved sallalahu alayhi wasalam. We know that he spoke the truth and was not amongst the liars (far away is he from the claims the ignorant make against him) and for him to take that oath is a sign of true Islamic justice, no matter who it is.
Fundamental Fiqh Principles
From the above conditions, scholars have deduced two fundamental fiqh principles:
“If the benefit for which the law was enacted is continuous, then the law is continuous; but if it changed due to a chance in circumstances, the law must also change”
“Precedence is given to the general welfare over the individual welfare, and to the prevention of greater harm over a small one”
However, it is not the place of a layman to decipher if the benefit is still present or if circumstances have changed. This is the place of a scholar and we consult them and take advice from them because surely they are the inheritors of the prophets, we are not.
To conclude this section, Allah revealed verses of the Qur’an taking into consideration four basic principles: to removal of unneccessary difficulties, to reduce the number religious obligations, the realization of public welfare, and the realization of universal justice.