The shariah and its application
THE SHARIAH AND ITS APPLICATION
From the Book
“…..Let’s take up another aspect of this subject. The idolaters were there in Makkah when the Prophet and his companions lived in the city, and it was the same idolaters who lived in Makkah after the migration of the Prophet up until the conquest of Madinah.
But the policy for dealing with them changed in the second of these two phases.
History shows that the command given in regard to these idolaters in the first phase was simply to warn them by adopting peaceful means: “Arise and warn, call them to the path of their Lord with wisdom.”
According to this injunction, the Prophet and his companions used to visit those people in Makkah and recite to them the verses of da’wah from the Quran.
They used to address their gatherings in these words: “Say there is no God but God and you will earn salvation.”
But after the migration and the conquest of Makkah, the situation changed.
Now chapter nine of the Quran, titled ‘Repentance’, was revealed which conveyed a “declaration of immunity by Allah and His Messenger to the idolaters with whom you have made agreements.”
After the revelation of this chapter, when the time of Hajj (pilgrimage) came, the Prophet sent a delegation of his companions to Makkah to make a public pronouncement of this declaration from God.
From this example we find that when the da’wah or the communication of the message was required in regard to the idolaters, the verses dealing with da’wah were revealed.
In this way, the knowledge of the very order of revelation sufficed to indicate what had to be done and when.
But the position of later-day Muslims is different. Now the state of affairs is that the entire Quran is in our hands in the form of one collected volume, containing both kinds of verses together.
Muslims have, therefore, to discover from their own ijtihad which of the injunctions are addressed to them in the particular set of circumstances in which they find themselves.
This is the test of the later-day Muslims. Their success lies in their ability to discover that particular injunction which is desirable by God in terms of their circumstances.
Their failure lies in their inability to discover this injunction desirable in their changed sets of circumstances.
For instance, in terms of their actual state of affairs, the verses of patience and da’wah are applicable to them, yet they are waging war with other nations by referring to the verses on fighting in the Quran. Such an act on their part amounts to their having failed in the divine test.
This failure is very grave in nature.
This can be likened to a Prophet’s contemporary failing to recognize him as the true Prophet of God.
The deprivation resulting from this failure is very serious while the gain resulting from success in recognizing is very great.
The Secret of Guidance and Ignorance
The Quran states, “By it (the Quran) God causes many to stray and many He leads into the Right Path.” (2:26)
The Quran is, without doubt, a Truth from God. Then why is it that some find guidance from it, while others are lead astray? The chief reason for this difference lies in the difference in reference.
If the Quran is studied with reference to the correct context, the reader will receive guidance.
On the contrary, if the reference is changed, the same Quran will become the cause of people going astray.
Studying the different parts of Quran in the correct perspective is to study them in the light of the traditions of the causes of revelation i.e. to understand the background of the verses.
A number of traditions have been recorded in the books of Hadith and Tafsir that tell us which verse or verses of the Quran were revealed on which particular occasions.
These traditions providing the background are not only conducive to understanding the initial message, but also serve as a reliable guide as regards their correct application in later times in similar situations.
Studying the Quran with reference to the traditions of the causes of revelation does not imply that the Quran was a book of an ephemeral nature.
What is meant is that the initial nature of a command should be properly understood in order to discover its vaster application, so that it may be correctly applied at a later date.
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