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Sunday 3rd of July 2022
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QUESTIONS OF PRACTICAL LAWS OF ISLAM

QUESTIONS OF PRACTICAL LAWS OF ISLAM

Perhaps it would not be out of place to discuss the practical laws of Islam here, for questions have been raised in this relation. For example, it is asked why Sura of al-Fatihah and Sura of at-Tawhid must be recited in undertone in the Dhuhr (Noon) and Asr (Afternoon) –obligatory- Prayers and recited aloud in the Maghrib (Evening) and Eshaa (Night) Prayers. Why are men banned to wear gold rings? Why is it banned to use golden and silver vessels? Why is it religiously unlawful to have the meat of pork? What is the philosophy of Hajj? When does it become necessary to perform the Tayammum (Dry Ablution)? Why is it forbidden for a Muslim to marry two sisters at the same time?

 

Many whys and for what reasons are answered correctly or incorrectly and on many occasions the answers increase the asker’s amazement.

 

NOTE

 

The first and most important requirement of one who asks such questions is his belief in the acknowledged principles of Islam, that is, belief in One God, prophethood, God’s justice, Day of Judgment, and Imamate. In the meantime, the degree of his belief in the aforesaid principles has to be taken into consideration so as to discuss with him the ideology of Islam in case of his imperfect knowledge about it.

 

Evidently, it is waste of time to discuss the secondary precepts of Islam with an unbeliever or someone whose belief is imperfect. How absurd it is to speak about the Ascension of the Holy Prophet (saw) and the moon’s split for him or the life span and occultation of Imam Mahdi (a.s) with a materialist who does not believe in the absolute power of God. To debate with a Twelver[73] who does not firmly believe in the sinlessness of the prophets and Imams is also useless, for he needs to perfect his ideology first. Incidentally, most of the individuals who are skeptic of the practical laws of Islam are those who are weak in their beliefs.

 

THE AIM OF QUESTIONING THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE PRACTICAL LAWS OF ISLAM

 

Generally speaking, questions about the philosophy of the practical laws of Islam are raised for two reasons:

 

To understand the philosophy of the divine laws, and

 

To get more interested in doing religious duties, this is the result of getting to know the philosophy of the divine laws.

 

As for someone who wishes to understand the logic of the divine laws, we should say that he is in error. Such a person needs to perfect his knowledge of the religion, get to know the prophet and the revelation as well as come to realize that the position of a prophet is above that of ordinary human beings.

 

He should, also, realize that what the prophets say do not come from themselves, but they are inspired by the Creator of the heavens and the earth. So, we come to the conclusion that the Holy Book and the religious laws are of the same Source. In other words, it is the All-knowing and All-wise God Who has prescribed what is lawful and what is unlawful and revealed it to the heart of His Messenger.

 

WHY ARE WE IN NEED FOR A DIVINE REVELATION?

 

Since we, human beings, do not have comprehensive knowledge about life and the Afterlife, and since the only One being aware of all the details of the universe is God, we are in need for guidance and religious laws, which is the same as revelation received by the prophets.

 

We have no option but to submit to the religious instructions. To practice the religious duties is to practice what the prophets and God have said. That is to say that I, considering myself as Muslim, obey God and His Messenger not because I have come to know about the philosophy of the religious laws, but I obey Him and His Messenger regardless of the harms and benefits that accompany certain religious acts.

 

WHAT IS RELIGIOUS OBEDIENCE?

 

Mohammad ibn Sinan wrote a letter to Imam Reza (a.s) saying, ‘Some Muslims have the impression that the dos and don’ts in Islam are not based on people’s interest or disadvantages and that there is no reason for them save obedience and devotion to God.’ Responding to this letter, Imam Reza (a.s) wrote:

 

قَد ضَلَّ مِن قال ذلكَ ضَلالاً بَعيداً. وَوجَدْنا المحُرّمَ مِن الأشْياءِ لا حاجَةَ لِلعبادِ إليهِ ووجدناهُ مُفسِداً داعِياً إلى الفَناءِ والهَلاكِ.

 

“Whoever has such impression of the religious precepts is in gross error, for we realize that what Allah has forbidden is not only unnecessary for human life but also it is a source of corruption pushing man to perdition.”

 

Sheikh Saduq, may his soul rest in peace, relates that a person went to Imam Baqir (a.s) asking, ‘Why has God forbidden drinking wine and eating carrion and pork as well as blood?’ The Imam (a.s) answered:

 

إنّ اللهَ تبارَكَ وتعَالى لم يُحَرّمْ ذلكَ على عِبادِهِ وأَحلَّ لهُم ما سِوى ذلكَ مِن رَغبَةٍ في مَا أَحَلَّ لهُم ولا زُهدٍ في مَا حَرّمَهُ عليهِم. ولكِنّه عزّ وجلّ خَلَقَ الخَلقَ فَعلِم ما يَقومُ بهِ أَبدانُهُم وما يُصلِحُهُم فَأَحَلَّهُ لهُم وأَباحَهُ وعَلِمَ ما يَضُرُّهُم فَنَههاهُم عنهُ وحَرّمَهُ عليهِم.

 

“Allah has not made certain things lawful or unlawful because He Himself likes or dislikes them, for neither the lawful nor do the unlawful benefit or harm Him. Since Allah has created man and known what is good or bad for him, He has enjoined or forbidden certain things.”[74]

 

From these sayings of the Imams (a.s) it is inferred that devotion is not strict adherence like an inferior’s obedience to the orders of a superior. Obedience in religion is that when a human being realizes that his intellectual power is limited and that the religious precepts with all their benefits have their source in God’s infinite knowledge, he will naturally feel duty-bound to submit to God’s commandments.

 

The Holy Prophet of Islam (saw) says:

 

يا عِبادَ اللهِ أنتُم كالمَرضَى ورَبُّ العَالمِينَ كالطّبِيبِ، فَصَلاحُ المَرضَى في ما يَعمَلُهُ الطّبِيبُ وتَدبِيرِهِ بِه لا في ما يَشتَهِيهِ المَريضُ ويَقتَرِحُهُ، ألا فَسَلِّموا للهِ  أَمرَهُ تَكُونوا مِن الفَائزِينَ.

 

“O servants of Allah, you are like patients and the Lord of the worlds being like a physician. Therefore, the interest of the patient is in what the physician prescribes for him, not in what he –the patient- likes. Therefore, submit to Allah so as to be delivered.”[75]

 

It is true that the prophets are like us, human being, but they receive divine revelation. Addressing the Holy Prophet (saw), God says:

 

قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَناْ بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ.

 

“Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me. (The Holy Quran; 18:110)”

 

To sum it up, religious obedience is not a blind following devoid of logic, rather it is submission of a human being with limited knowledge to the All-encompassing Authority.

 

As for the second question about the philosophy of the practical laws of Islam, if it is aimed at getting more familiarity with the benefits of God’s commandments, to purify one’s self and society, to ensure a sound economy, to see their compatibility with the scientific researches, to highlight the value of the religious precepts, the sayings of the Imams, the scientific miracles of the Holy Prophet (saw) and the Holy Quran, to add to one’s tranquility and peace of mind, it is welcome! In the Holy Quran, most of the verses express the philosophy of the commandments:

 

يَا أَيُّهَا الّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيامُ... لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

 

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you… so that you many guard (yourselves) against evil. (2:183)”

 

وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ لِذِكْرِي.

 

“… Keep up prayer for My remembrance. (20:14)”

 

فَاسْأَلُوهُنَّ مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ ذَلِكَ أَطْهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمْ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّ.

 

“… And ask of them (women) from behind a curtain; this is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. (33:53)”

 

وَأَذِّنْ فِي النَّاسِ بِالحَجِّ... لِيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ.

 

“And proclaim among men the pilgrimage… that they may witness advantages for them. (22:28)”

 

To sum it up, the necessity to act according to the religious precepts is to follow the divine revelation and not necessarily to understand their philosophy. The value of the acts of worship lies in devotion and man can have devotion when he has no motivation other than pleasing God. Then, he will become a true servant of God:

 

رِجَالٌ لا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلا بَيْعٌ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللهِ.

 

“Men whom neither merchandise nor selling diverts from the remembrance of Allah… (The Holy Quran; 24:37)”

 

The aim of the religion is to make the earthly man ascend to heaven. Being the most perfect religion, Islam has a double vision, that is, it sees both this world and the Hereafter; it cares for the welfare of man and his moral education as well as spiritual perfection.

 

اَلّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ طُوبَى لَهُمْ وَحُسْنُ مَآبٍ.

 

“As for those who believe and do good, a good final state shall be theirs and a goodly return. (The Holy Quran; 13:29)”

 

Now, instead of this discussion and instead of trying to justify all the heavenly laws with scientific theories, we should consolidate the spirit of getting to know God, the prophet, and the Imams in the hearts of the youths. It is only then that the young generation will naturally feel duty-bound to follow the Messenger of God and to obey Him with contentment and will never look for benefits in serving God.

 

فَمَاذَا بَعْدَ الحَقِّ ِإلاّ الضَّلالُ

 

“… What is there after the truth but error? (The Holy Quran; 10:32)”

 

Imam Sajjad (a.s) has said:

 

إِنّ دِينَ اللهِ لا يُصابُ بِالعُقولِ النّاقِصةِ والآراءِ الباطِلَةِ والمَقاييسِ الفاسِدةِ، ولا يُصابُ إلا بالتّسليمِ فَمَنْ سَلَّمَ لنا سَلِمَ ومَن اهتَدى بنا هُدِيَ ومَن دانَ بالقِياسِ والرّأْيِ هَلَكَ ومَن وَجَدَ في نفْسِهِ شَيئاً ممّا نَقولُهُ أو نَقضي به حَرَجاً كَفَرَ بالذي أَنزَلَ السّبْعَ المَثانِي والقُرآنَ العَظيمَ وهُو لا يَعلَمُ.

 

“Surely, the religion of Allah cannot be comprehended with imperfect intellects, wrong opinions, or immoral criteria. Hence, there is no way to get to know the truth of the religion other than submission. Whoever submits to us will be safe from deviation, and whoever is guided in our path will be truly guided. Whoever makes religion with his own conjecture will find perdition and one who is heavy-hearted with our orders has disbelieved in the One Who revealed the Holy Quran.”[76]

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