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How Can I Judge Rulings that I Do Not Understand?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question: How do I deal with rulings in the Sacred Law that do not make sense?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

If there is a conflict between what Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) have taught us and what we deem to be reasonable, then we have two scenarios.

First Category

The first is that there is a difference between our judgment of things and Allah’s judgment. For example, as a Western man has grown up in the West, it sounds strange to me that a man could have four wives. It is not a judgment of morality that I would naturally come up with.

With this first category, we have to concede that we are not able to judge what is in our greatest benefit, but Allah can. He is ‘the Wisest of judges.’ (Qur’an, 95: 8) “Logic” has no role in critiquing what Allah wants us to do. This is not because logic is bad or irrelevant. Rather simply because there is no actual logical contradiction: Allah can ask us to do whatever He so chooses.

A good example of this is His ordering Prophet Abraham (upon whom be peace) to kill his son. While he obviously did not end up doing it, were he to have gone ahead and committed infanticide, he would ultimately have done something good and in keeping with Allah’s command, even though most sane people would see infanticide as evil and “illogical.”

Please see the book In Search of God’s Law by Bernard G. Weiss.

Second Category

The second kind of apparent lack of rationale is that the message in Islamic revelation itself seems simply irrational or illogical. For example, you read the verse ‘And you threw not when you threw.’ (Qur’an 8: 17). One might think, ‘Well either he threw or he did not? How can it be both?’

With this category, we have to ascertain whether there is indeed a logical inconsistency or whether it is just a misunderstanding of the text. Perhaps something is meant only metaphorically or something like that. Logic then has a role in the original interpretation of the text.

Please also see:
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/what-role-should-the-intellect-play-when-seeking-god/

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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