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Books and Documents (25 Jul 2015 NewAgeIslam.Com)



The Primacy of Justice in the Qur’an: Essential Message of Islam; Chapter 21 to 25

 

 

 By Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

25 July, 2015

(Published Exclusively On New Age Islam with Permission Of The Authors And Publishers)

21.    On Justice

21.1.       Upholding Of Justice Is a Binding Instruction

The Qur'an commands justice (7:29, 16:90), and places it in the Hurmah (binding) category (6:152/Ch. 19).

“Say: ‘My Lord has commanded justice (Qist), and that you set your whole selves (to Him) at all your prostrations* (in prayer) and call on Him with sincerity of faith. (Remember,) as He (brought you forth) in the beginning, so shall you return (to Him)’” (7:29). *[Lit., ‘places of worship’.]

“God commands justice (‘Adl) and goodness and giving to fellowmen (Qurba), 1 and He forbids the abominable, the evil, and terrorism, and instructs you that you may be mindful” (16:90)

The Qur’an asks people to return honestly, what may be under their trust to their owners, and to judge justly among people (4:58), even if they nurtured any hatred against them (5:8), and to bear witness justly and without any kind of bias or discrimination (4:135).

“God commands you to return (what is under your) trust back to their folk; and to judge with justice (‘Adl), when you judge between people (Nas). Noble indeed is what God instructs you for surely God is Observant and Aware” (4:58).

“You who believe, be upright as witnesses to justice (Qist) before God – even it be against yourselves, or (your) parents or relatives, or whether it concerns the rich, or the poor. God can best protect both. Therefore do not follow (your) whim, lest you detract from justice (‘Adl); and if you swerve, or decline (to do justice), (remember,) God is Informed of what you do” (4:135).

“You who believe, be upright before God as witnesses to justice (Qist), and let not the hatred of any people prompt you to detract from justice (‘Adl). Deal justly: this is nearest to heedfulness (Taqwa); and heed God. Surely God is Informed of what you do” (5:8).

Explanations:

1.       The verse 4:58 calls for dealing justly with all people, regardless of blood, communal, racial or any other ties as underscored by its use of the generic term Nas.

2.       The verse 5:8 from the last revealed Sura, al-Maidah, warns the believers against doing any injustice to a people, they may hate.

21.2.       To Guide Others Truthfully For Justice to Prevail

The Qur’an acknowledges the role of a category of people who are trained to guide the judges by way of truth so that justice prevails (7:159/181).

“And among the people of Moses there is a community who guide (others) in the way of truth and do justice (Ya’dilun) thereby” (7:159).

“Among those that We have created, there is a community who guide (others) in the way of truth and do justice (Ya‘dilun) thereby” (7:181).

21.3.       Criteria of Divine Justice

The Qur’anic pronouncements on the criteria of divine justice (6:160, 28:84)2 are suggestive of the principle of proportionality of crime and punishment that may also hold for worldly affairs.  

“Anyone who brings forth goodness (on the Day of Judgement,) will be rewarded ten times like it, while anyone who brings forth evil shall not be recompensed except with its like; and they will not be wronged” (6:160).

“Whoever brings about good, has an even better reward, while whoever brings about evil - the evildoers are not recompensed but for what they did” (28:84).

21.4.       The Primacy of Justice in the Qur’an

The Qur’anic pronouncements on justice as listed in the foregoing are clear, concise and unambiguous and together establish one of its revolutionary principles. Until the advent of Islam and for centuries to come, the poor and the weak were denied justice while the rich and the mighty enjoyed a privileged form of justice that institutionalized oppression and injustice in human society. The Qur’an abolished all this, and paved the way for the establishment of societies, in which the weakest could take the strongest to the court of law and get justice.

To sum up, and to strengthen our argument with a practical illustration, we quote below one of Caliph Umar’s proclamations directed to his governors (rendering from Arabic/Urdu):3

“Administration of justice is an essential duty after the praise of God. Treat people equally, whether in your immediate presence, or in your court, so that the weak do not despair of justice, and the guilty may not be hopeful of your concession. One who makes a claim requires proving it. One who denies must take an oath. Compromise is permitted, provided it does not turn the Halal (permissible) into Haram (forbidden), and vice versa. If you have to give a decision tomorrow, reflect on it carefully today. If you have doubt on any matter not contained in the Qur'an or the Prophet’s Sunna (example), deeply ponder over it, and take account of similar instances and others’ opinions, and reflect over it logically...”

Notes

1.       As in case of the verse 4:36/Ch. 17.3, the word Qurba has been rendered in its broader connotation as fellowmen.

2.       42:40/Ch. 12.2; 40:40, 53:31. 

3.       Shibli Noumani, al-Faruq, 1898, Karachi reprint 1991, p. 191/192.

[3 reference]

22.    Fraud, Bribery, Cheating Are Forbidden

22.1.       Usurping Others’ Property

The Qur'an forbids the usurping of others’ properties by bribing the authorities (2:188), or by commercial exploitation - even with mutual consent (4:29).

“Do not unjustly consume (Kulu) others’ wealth*, nor try to bribe the authorities with it, that you may viciously but knowingly consume a portion of (other) people’s wealth” (2:188). *[Lit., ‘your wealth among yourselves’]

“You who believe, do not consume (Kulu) others’ wealth* - not even by (Illa) way of trade with mutual consent, and do not kill yourselves for indeed God has been merciful to you (4:29). But whoever does that maliciously and unjustly, We shall soon cause him to endure fire, and that is easy enough for God” (4:30). *[Lit., as in 2:188 above]

Note: The underlined rendering above is based on the Qur’anic usage of the particle illa in the verse 27:11, as advocated by Muhammad Asad.1

The Qur’an also denounces the tendency of wealthy businessmen to take over the business and assets of small stakeholders. This is demonstrated in the story of two disputing brothers who approached the Prophet David climbing the wall of his sanctuary. One of them complained to David that his brother had ninety-nine ewes and wanted to take charge of his sole ewe. David replied that his brother had certainly wronged him by demanding his ewe, and added that so many business associates do indeed treat each other unjustly.2          

22.2.       Tampering Of Weight and Measurement

At the time of the revelation, the economy was based on the barter system, and goods, such as corn, dates, etc. were ‘weighed out’ or ‘measured out’ in exchange of goods and services received. Accordingly, the Qur’an calls for giving full measure, and using correct weights and true scales (6:152/Ch. 19.2; 17:35, 26:181/182, 55:9), and forbids cheating and tampering with scales (83:1-3).

“And give full measure when you measure out, and weigh with straight scales. This is better and fairer in the end” (17:35).

“Give full measure, and be not among cheaters (26:181). Weigh with straight scales (182), and do not diminish the goods of (other) people (by under-weighing them), and do not act wickedly on earth as corruptors (Mufsidin)” (26:183).

“Establish (standard) weights justly and do not tamper the scale (Mizan)*” (55:9). *[The Qur’an also connotes this word with the overall balance of all things in creation,3 and with the criteria of truth and falsehood.4]

 “Woe to the cheaters (83:1) – who demand full (measure) when they receive by measure from people (2) - but when they measure out for them, or weigh for them, cheat (them)” (83:3).

22.3.       Fair Payment for Goods and Services

The Qur’anic commandments to maintaining the integrity of weights, measurements and scales in commercial transactions is aimed at ensuring fair payment for goods and services. However, as with many other social and binding injunctions, Muslim leaders and rulers tend to ignore it to the great detriment of their community. As this is adversely impacting the progress and well being of Islamic societies to this very day, the matter merits further elucidation.    

Throughout the medieval era, Muslim ‘Ulema and intelligentsia, by and large, supported the prevalent feudal system, which was built on low wages for goods produced and services rendered by the common man. This tendency has accentuated in recent times in the Muslim world, resulting from increased supply of labour due to high unemployment levels, contributing to widening income disparity and concomitant social problems in most of Islamic nations.

Ironically, with the turn of the 20th century, the non-Muslim World, and particularly the West, have developed social norms and national laws that guarantee a far better payment for goods and services to their common people than what their counterparts get in the Muslim world. Indeed if making fair payment for goods and services received was to be among the principal criteria of piety or morality, as clearly indicated by the Qur’an, the present day Western society may, on this count, stand highly pious and moral, and the Muslim World, highly impious and immoral.

NOTES

1.  Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’an, Gibraltar 1980, Chap. 4, Note 38.

 2.   38:21-24. While Muslim commentators have cited this story to support an alleged love affair of David with the wife of one of his officers, this work focuses on the clear moral of the story and keeps away from theological speculations.

 3.  55:8.

 4.  42:17, 57:25. [Same as Note 17/Preface]

[4 References]

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23.    Against Usury And Over-Profiteering

23.1.       The Qur’an Forbids Usury (Riba)

The Qur’an uses the term Riba for usury that is, lending money at exorbitant interest rates, as the traditional money-lenders practiced since ancient times. The Qur’an forbids usury (Riba), and advocates fair business practices (2:275/276). It also encourages the believers to write off their outstanding interest against usury (Riba) (2:278), and to remain content with the principle sum (2:279). 

“Those who live off usury (Riba) will never establish themselves, except as those* who are confounded by Satan’s touch. That is because they say ‘trade is like usury (Riba)’. But God has permitted trade, and forbidden (Harramah) usury (Riba). As for anyone who gives up (usury) after receiving instruction from his Lord, let bygone be bygone: his case rests with God. But those who repeat – it is they (who are) the inmates of hellfire, and they will remain there (2:275). (Remember,) God wipes out usury (Riba) and nourishes charity, and God does not love any ungrateful sinners” (2:276). *[Lit., ‘as those are established’]

“You who believe, heed God, write off anything that remains outstanding from usury - if you are indeed believers (2:278). If you do not do so - take notice of war from God and His Messenger, but if you repent – you may (recover) your principal. Do not wrong (others), and you shall not be wronged” (2:279).

23.2.       On Easing Debt Repayment and Writing Off Debt

The Qur’an recognizes that on occasions a debtor may not be able to settle his debt on time, and therefore, it calls for easing terms of payment, or even writing off debts in appropriate cases:

“If someone is in a difficulty, wait until it is easy (for him to repay). But if you treat (your debt) as charity, it would be better for you, if you only knew” (2:280).

23.3.       Qur’anic Notion of Riba

The Qur’an also refers to Riba as a means of getting one’s wealth ‘doubled and multiplied’ (3:130), and forbids amassing wealth at the expense of others (30:39).

“You who believe, do not live off usury (Riba), (and have your wealth) doubled and multiplied, but heed God, that you may succeed” (3:130).

“What you invest in usury (Riba) that it might increase through the wealth of (other) people, does not increase with God; but what you give as Zakat, seeking God’s favour* (increases with God), and it is they who shall have (their reward) multiplied” (30:39). *[Lit., ‘Face’]

23.4.       Is Modern Banking Based On Riba?   

With the advent of modern banking and advanced financial institutions and instruments, there is an ongoing debate whether or not the profit earned as bank interest, and through other financial instruments fall in the Riba (usury) category. Let us seek clarifications from the Qur’an, which is the final authority on all matters.

Firstly, the Qur’an allows Muslims to avail of all lawful things in life, that is, to earn their livelihood lawfully (2:168, 2:172):1

“O People! Avail of (Kulu) all lawful and good things of what is in the earth, and do not follow Satan’s footsteps, for he is an open enemy to you” (2:168).

“You who believe! Avail of (Kulu) the good things We have provided for you, and be grateful to God, if it is (truly) Him that you serve” (2:172).

Secondly, the Qur’an expects the believers to be serious with their business and professional pursuits. Thus, it urges the believers to disperse soon after the Friday congregational prayer in ‘pursuit of God’s bounties’ (Fadlillah) [i.e. to resume normal work for livelihood]. (62:10/Ch. 45.1).

Thirdly, in the Qur’anic world view, humans are appointed as God’s deputy or agent (Khalifah)2 on earth (2:30/Ch. 5.1), and the resources of nature have been placed at their services (31:20, 45:13/ Ch. 10).3

These illustrations clearly indicate that the Qur’an expects humans to engage themselves in lawful business, in trading across lands and seas, and in exploring and harnessing nature through industrial ventures. Thus, it will be fair to say that the Qur’anic message admits of wealth generation, as long it is not attained by exorbitant interest rates on deposits or loans (Riba), or by fraudulent means, or grossly underpaying for goods and services (Ch. 22.3). With this we come to the question, whether the income earned as bank interest falls in the riba category and thus stand unlawful (Haram)? There are two ways to look at it:

1. The modern banking system requires a borrower to pay at a fixed interest rate, regardless of his financial condition or capability, and offers no mechanism for easing terms of loan repayment, or writing off a debt as charity as enjoined by the Qur’an (2:280), and therefore the earning from a bank as interest on deposits stands as Riba, and so it is Haram. Moreover, the purely commercial basis of modern banking enables the rich to become richer at the expense of the poor, lends itself to manipulation by unethical businessmen, and even promotes such unlawful activities as gambling and prostitution, and therefore it conflicts with the Qur’anic world view.

2. Modern banking systems contain provisions for easing loan repayment and writing off debts against liquidity petitions. If these are applied in a just and fair manner, and internal audit mechanism is set in place to avoid fraudulent manipulations by directors, and to curb socially harmful investments, there may be no Qur’anic basis to declare modern banking unlawful (haram). Besides, a bank very often lends depositors’ money for a lawful (Halal) business proposition: the recipients of bank loans include all types and categories of customers - from common citizens, students, farmers, patients and petty traders to businessmen and industrialists of all descriptions, and corporate giants making hospitals, housing complexes, cars, aircrafts etc. So long as such investment is lawful, and does not enable the depositor, or the board members of a bank to multiply their wealth through fraudulent means, it will be no different from that generated by fair trade as permitted by the Qur’an (2:279).

23.5.       The Lawfulness of Modern Banking

The modern banking system acts as the focal point for all trading and commercial activities, which are lawful in Islam. It serves as the main channel for extending an initial advance against an order and for transfer of payments after the execution of an order. It is also the financial service provider and enables a customer to settle his utility bills, taxes and to transfer funds to other accounts. It also advises the customers on investment options and helps them to buy. Thus, modern banking is a multifaceted financial institution that benefits the common man, the investors and promotes trade, commerce and industry at local, national and international levels. Traditional usury, on the other hand, benefited only the moneylenders who charged excessive interest rates to the borrowers. Thus, modern banking system stands miles apart from the traditional institution of usury and may not be paralleled with it.                 

Moreover, the modern banking system is based on paper currency, which is nothing but a promissory instrument, whose ‘real value’ (purchasing power) decreases with time. Therefore, a lender may lawfully take appropriate ‘inflationary adjustment’ from a bank to maintain the real value of his money, and thus keep his wealth intact as permitted by the Qur’an (2:279). It would therefore follow, that recovering appropriate ‘inflationary adjustment’ in the form of an interest against deposits in the present day economic scenario, would not necessarily constitute Riba.

Finally, it may be added that of late some modern banks have adopted Islamic banking based on the Qur’anic principles of profit sharing and flexible debt recovery, and humanity may stand to benefit if this is extended to the poor section of the population, subject to adequate checks and balances.        

Notes

1.       5:4, 5:88, 23:51.

2.       6:165, 27:62, 35:39. [Same as Note 6/Ch. 5]

3.       14:32, 16:12, 67:15. [Note 1/Ch. 10]

[3 References]

24.    On Debt And Contract

24.1.       On the drafting of a commercial contract

The Qur’an expounds a comprehensive protocol on drafting business contracts and commercial transactions in one of its longest passages (2:282/283) that covers the following elements: 

•        Drafting of a contract by the recipient of a loan, or his agent.

•        Witnessing of a contract by two other men, or, if two men are not available, by one man and two women.

•        Putting dates, and stating the contract period on the contract.

•        Exhortation to the witnesses to turn up for testimony when called.

•        Forbidding harassment of a scribe or a witness

•        Permission for hand-to-hand transaction without documentation.

•        Approval of a security against a loan.

•        Responsibility of the trustee to honestly discharge his trust.

The passage is fashioned in terse juristic manner, but the foregoing summary may help in understanding the following rendition without difficulty.     

 “You who believe, whenever you contract a debt for a certain period of time, record it: have a scribe write down justly (the terms agreed) between yourselves. The scribe should not refuse to write - he should write as God has taught him.

Let the borrower dictate (the terms of the contract,) but let him heed God, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it. If the borrower is feeble-minded, or infirm, or unable to dictate, let his guardian dictate justly.

Get the witness of two witnesses from your men. If two men are not (available), then (take) a man and two women from among those, you approve of as witnesses - so that if one of them errs, the other may remind her. Let the witnesses not refuse (to respond) when called on (for evidence).

And be not averse to recording (any transaction), small or large, with its due dates. This is more just before God, more valid as a testimony, and a more likely (way of) to avoiding doubts, except for on-the-spot transaction that you pass around among yourselves, when there is no blame on you if you do not write it.

And have witnesses whenever you engage in trade, and let no scribe or witness be harassed: if you do so, it will be immoral of you. So heed God, for it is God that teaches you. (Remember,) God is Cognizant of everything” (2:282).

“If you are on a journey and cannot find a scribe, a deposit (may suffice) as security.* If one of you should trust the other (with something) - let the trustee return his trust heeding his Lord. And do not hide any testimony, for whoever hides it, is a sinner at heart. (Remember,) God is Cognizant of what you do” (2:283). *[Arabic words for the underlined expression can also be rendered as: ‘pledges (may be taken) by hand.’]

24.2.       Why Two Women To Substitute For One Man For A Witness?

The underlined Qur’anic injunction (2:282) to take two female witnesses for one male witness is often quoted by commentators as an indication or proof of a woman’s lower intellect. Such a conclusion from a single Qur’anic verse is misleading, as the Qur’an maintains its gender neutrality in all other witnessing situations, notably:

•        While handing back properties to orphans as they reach a matured age (4:6/Ch. 31.1).

•        Witnessing a will (5:106-107/Ch. 37).

•        Witnessing an alleged adultery (4:15/Ch. 36.2; 24:4/Ch. 36.4).

•        Witnessing the execution of a divorce (65:2/Ch. 34.2).

Historically, trading has been a predominantly male profession as it involved traveling across hazardous terrains and staying away from homes. Therefore, the general instruction is to take two male witnesses and if two of them are not available then one male and two female witnesses. This poses the question, whether the Qur’anic exceptional witnessing protocol must be regarded as binding for all times. We have to answer this from Qur’anic illustrations, as attempted below.

In the context of the revelation, the Qur’an was addressed to a given people at a given space-time bracket. Therefore, the Qur’anic precepts relating to the material aspects of life, such as employing hunting animals to catch birds (5:4/Ch. 25.2), travelling to the Ka‘ba on lean mounts,1 or employing cavalry2 in combat were specific to the era, and the same conceivably is the case with the witnessing requirement in the market place. But the Qur’an repeatedly asks Muslims to reflect, to reason and to understand, and calls for consultation in running the affairs of the community (3:159, 42:38/Ch. 42.1), and even in family matters (2:233/Ch. 34.5). It is thus clear that the Qur’an did not want the Muslims to stop dead in the track of civilization at the seventh century Arabia. It leaves space for progress – for changing the material and commercial paradigms with time. It was possibly for this reason that “Caliph Umar used to entrust a lady, Shaffa bint ‘Abdullah as an inspector over the market in Medina,”3 while there have been countless female professors and jurists in Islamic history who bestowed academic and juristic credentials to many men under their signatures. Thus if the progress of civilization removes the traditional barriers constraining women’s active participation in commerce, the Qur’anic specific witnessing requirement may be adapted for the changed circumstances. 

Notes

1.       22:27.

2.       8:60.

3.       Extracted from the article, On recognition of women in Islam by Khaled Abou El Fadl, featured on the following web-link:

www.themodernreligion.com/women/recognition.html

[3 references]

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25.    Allowables & Forbidden For Food

25.1.       The Qur’an Abolishes the Prevalent Taboos

In pre-Islamic Arabia, many edible things were either reserved only for men, or prohibited as food by prevalent taboos (Notes 4-6/Ch. 1). The Qur'an revokes these restrictions (6:145, 10:59).

“Say: ‘In all that has been revealed to me, I do not find anything forbidden to eat, if one wants to eat (something), unless it be carrion or blood poured out, or the flesh of the swine – for that is loathsome, or a sinful offering to anyone besides God. But if anyone is compelled (by necessity), without wanting to, or exceeding limits, then indeed your Lord is Most Forgiving and Merciful’” (6:145).

“Say: ‘Do you see, what God has sent down for you as sustenance? But you make (a part) of it forbidden and (a part) lawful?’ Say: ‘Has God given you permission, or you have forged a lie against God” (10:59)?

25.2.       The Qur’an Allows All Lawful and Good Things

The Qur’an connotes the word Akl with ‘eating’ (of food) as well as ‘availing of’ (2:168, 2:172/Ch. 23.4), and ‘consuming’ (2:188/Ch. 22.1). Therefore, its verb form Kulu in the opening part of the verses 2:168 and2:172 (Ch. 23.4), and other complementary verses1 can be rendered as, ‘Eat of,’ and these verses would then read:

“O People! Eat of (Kulu) all lawful and good things of what is in the earth …” (2:168)

“You who believe! Eat of (Kulu) the good things We have provided for you…” (2:172)

Thus, the Qur’an allows as food all lawful (Halal) and good things, including all livestock (except swine) (5:1), what the hunting animals could be trained to catch, including all kinds of birds (5:4), and all marine creatures (5:96):2  

“You who believe, fulfil (your) commitments. The grazing animals are made lawful to you (for food) - except those already announced, but game is unlawful when you are in the state of pilgrimage. Indeed, God commands what He wishes” (5:1).

“They ask you (O Muhammad,) what is lawful for them (as food). Say: ‘Lawful for you are (all) good things. As for those hunting animals, which you have trained by teaching them something of what God has taught you - eat what they catch for you, and mention the name of God over it. Heed God, for God is swift in reckoning’” (5:4)

“All water-game and its (other) eatables3 are lawful provisions for you as well as for the travellers, but land game is forbidden to you when you are in the state of pilgrimage. Heed God, to whom you shall be summoned” (5:96)

Furthermore, by assigning dual meaning (‘Eat of’ and ‘Avail of’) to the word kulu, the Qur’an combines the lawfulness of food with the lawfulness of income. Accordingly, the Prophet’s companions were extremely careful about lawfulness of the method of procurement of what they ate. Thus, there are reports about Abu Bakr and Umar throwing up perfectly halal food items like milk, in revulsion, when they were not convinced of their right to consume it.4

25.3.        Food of the ‘People of the Book’ 

Towards the concluding phase of revelation, the Qur’an declares:

“This day (all) good things are made lawful for you. The food of those to whom Scripture [Book] was given is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them; …” (5:5). [Full verse in Ch. 32.3]

The Qur’an however does not state what category of food of the people of other revealed religions is permissible for the Muslims. Scholars agree that food items consumed as found in nature, such as those of plant origin, milk, fish, eggs etc. are halal for food, irrespective of their producer or grower, as no slaughtering nor any Qur’anic rite is involved in their cultivation or processing. As for the slaughtered animal, there has been a huge debate, and opinions remain divided to this day. However, it is worth noting that the Biblical teaching prohibits swine’s flesh, blood, and dead animal as food, and requires slaughtering of cattle invoking the name of God.5 Therefore the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book (Christian and Jews) could be lawful to the Muslims, if they observed their religious rites.     

25.4.       The Qur’an Forbids Only A Few Things

The Qur’an only forbids carrion, free flowing blood, swine’s flesh, and the meat of cattle consecrated to anyone other than God, or slaughtered without invoking God’s name (2:173, 5:3, 6:118/119).6 It also defines the unnatural circumstances of an animal’s death that would render its meat Haram (unlawful), and prohibits lottery (5:3).

“He has forbidden you carrion, blood, and swine’s flesh, and that which has been consecrated to anyone other than God. But if anyone is compelled, without willful disobedience, or exceeding limits - (there is) no sin upon him. Indeed God is Most Forgiving and Merciful” (2:173).

“Forbidden to you (for food) are carrion, blood, swine’s flesh, and that which has been consecrated to anyone other than God, and that (which has been killed) by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall or by being gored to death; or that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal - unless you (are able to) slaughter it; and that which is slaughtered before an idol, or divided up by drawing lots. (All) that is immoral. …. But if anyone is compelled by hunger, without deliberately sinning, God is indeed Most Forgiving and Merciful” (5:3).

“Eat of that over which God’s name has been invoked, if you believe in His messages (6:118). Why should you not eat (the meat) over which God's name has been invoked when He has explained to you what is forbidden to you, unless (you are) compelled? But there are many who mislead (others) by their whims, without (any) knowledge. Indeed your Lord knows best those who exceed limits” (6:119).

As food likes and dislikes are conditioned by local traditions and availabilities, the Qur’an circumvents local influences in a generic injunction allowing all good things, except those expressly prohibited (7:32): 

“Say: ‘Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) (zinat) of God, which He has brought forth for His servants, and wholesome means of sustenance?’ Say: ‘They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) especially for them on the Day of Judgment.’ Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who know” (7:32).

As Muhammad Asad comments,7 the verse indicates the Qur’an’s disapproval of any self-denial or asceticism that was traditionally associated with piety.

Notes

1.       5:88, 23:51.

2.       16:14, 35:12.

3.       This understandably refers to dead fish, or other marine creatures collected from the beach, or from the bank of a river, lake or pond. - Abul Kalam Azad, Tarjuman al-Qur’an, 1931; reprint New Delhi 1989, Vol.2, p. 670.

4.       Muhammad al-Ghazali, Ihya ul-‘Ulum, Urdu translation by Ahsan Siddiqee, Karachi 1983, Vol.2, p.128.

5.       The Bible, Deuteronomy, Chap. 12-14.

6.       6:121.

7.       Muhammad Asad, Message of the Qur’an, Gibraltar 1980, Chap. 7, Note 24.

[7 references]

Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. KhaledAbou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

URL: http://newageislam.com/books-and-documents/the-primacy-of-justice-in-the-qur’an--essential-message-of-islam;-chapter-21-to-25/d/104027





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