Driving Home a Point

Dr. Walid Ahmad Fitaihi

‘Gap is widening between application of religious regulations and realities of life’Islam is a practical religion that aims to regulate people’s life in the best possible manner. Since its laws are logical, Shariah has in its inner depths a mechanism to adapt to changing times and places.

The Ijtihad (the exercise of personal judgment in arriving at a legal opinion or verdict on a case on the basis of a precedent found in the Qur’an or Sunnah) has been viewed in the past as a tool for achieving consistency between religious regulations and the realities of inevitably changing lifestyles.

The tendency to misinterpret religious texts and the discontinuation of Ijtihad have led us to a situation, in which the gap is widening between the application of religious regulations and the realities of life. The situation has also led to increasing rigidity of fiqh (religious laws) resulting from the extensive application of the principle of “Sadd Al-Dharaei (blocking the means). In the religious terminology “blocking the means” is a tool to prevent evil before it materializes and is often invoked when lawful means is expected to produce an unlawful result.

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While invoking the provisions of “blocking the means” against new situations in modern life, scholars warn believers to be careful. The unfortunate outcome is that the Muslim community is up against countless issues without any logical solutions compatible with religious regulations. The faulty understanding of the Islamic laws blocks adopting a logical and pragmatic legal system that would guarantee the welfare of believers.

The late Egyptian writer Abdul Haleem Abu Shaqqah made an extensive study of the issue of the principle of “blocking” in his voluminous work “Liberation of Women in the Era of the Prophet.”

Abu Shaqqah said in his book that the principle of “blocking the evil” has been carried out with such a zeal that the conditions set by the early Muslim scholars while implementing the principle were neglected

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