RNA - The seventh session of a series of sessions on the Islamic Studies, titled “The Civilization-creating Dynamics of the Shiite Jurisprudence” held jointly by Tooba Specific Centre and the Islamic Propagation Centre of Khorasan Razavi province in the conference Hall of Razavi Khorasan Islamic Propagation Centre, and attended by Hujjat al-Islam Ahmad Rahdar, the head of Fotouh Andisheh Institute, and the faculty member of Baqir al-Olum University.
The following is the introduction and analysis of the inherited/successive and advisory approaches of Shiite jurisprudence towards Islamic culture, presented by Hujjat al-Islam Rahdar.
In an environment empty of cultural plurality, a single-version jurisprudence won’t be able to have different plans/solutions for different civilizations, and as civilizations are some complex phenomenon, therefore those knowledge-bases used for the manipulation of such civilizations should also be complex and multi-layered. Through this introduction, the succession within the Shiite jurisprudence can be considered; regarding the existing jurisprudence, some sections as well as some conceptual interpretations of the present jurisprudential succession are available; and each interpretation can provide a solution for a social layer.
There are different types of jurisprudence, including individual, political, social, governmental and civilization-creating ones, and the potentials of each is possible to be discussed. The individual jurisprudence, is the one that applies solely to the individual, and not to the public or a part of the society. It is responsible to interpret the individual affairs, and though Islam is a social religion, almost the majority of the Islamic jurisprudential legacy is focused on the individual. Contradictorily, and despite its social nature, the Islamic jurisprudence in the history has been focused on the individual one.
The cause of the said issue is that Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and their Shiite followers, after the Incident of Saqifa, were removed from the centre of the social and political occasions, and therefore, through a minimal relation, Shia has managed to meet its needs, i.e. individual ones.
Formality of the Sunni Jurisprudential Fatwas
In addition, the formality of the Sunni jurisprudential Fatwas (A fatwā is a nonbinding legal opinion on a point of Islamic law given by a qualified jurist in response to a question posed by a private individual, judge or government) has prevented the few Shiite ultra-individual, political and social attempts from development; and despite producing some interpretations, such products didn’t reach a wide audience, as Shia wasn’t officially recognised and the Sunni jurisprudence solely was allowed to present itself within the society.
In the meantime, the Shiite interpretations, though produced with arrangements within a network, are few and non-structured. And Shia, being far the centre of the Sunni political government and oppressed by the political system in the majority part of the Islamic history, has attempted to step forwards cautiously, and such a caution, being present in almost the majority of the Shiite jurisprudence, has created a heavy shadow of Taqiya (prudence).
Cautious Social Jurisprudence Loses Its Power of Social Engineering
What mentioned has made the Shiite jurisprudence a caution-based jurisprudence, and thus, it exercises caution on the individual axis and such a caution has been expanded into other aspects, including the social and logical.
If a jurisprudent, who is generally cautious on the individual levels, adopts the same approach towards the social dimension, it will definitely renders him lame in social engineering. The individual jurisprudence, despite all its problems, ultimately is a cautious jurisprudent and it has the minimal potentials for creation of a civilization.
Therefore it should be noted that, in accordance with the Shiite ideology concerning the society, the dimension that leads the man towards perfection is his social nature and not its individuality; it means that, the man, in order to attain perfection through the society, is required to have a broad range of social ties. Accordingly, due to the Shiite ideology, perfection is never accessible in a cave, but on street, in Bazar and within the society.
It should also be remembered that, the society is founded on an individual basis, and although there is a social dimension, the individual aspect shouldn’t be neglected, and it is ever present yet minimally. Individual jurisprudence provides the proper means and tools for the attempts made in order to reach a broad range of solutions and to develop some classifications within the society, as it has some effective plans and arrangements in this regard.
Political Jurisprudence Has Focused on the Political Affairs
There is a political type of jurisprudence, for which different definitions have been provided. For instance; it has been regarded by some as the rules and orders issued by a Sultan, it has also been named “Fiqh as-Siasat”, and some has mentioned that the political jurisprudence applies to the actual domination of Islam, and some others have interpreted it as the public order. Nonetheless, the political jurisprudence appears to be a science of communication, and thus, it is not an absolutely pure jurisprudence.
Jurisprudence also deals with the political affair/s, and a political issue, as discussed by political sciences, has a relative and mobile nature. The nature of the political affair stems from the collective wisdom, and thereby, the political jurisprudence has focused on the political affair/s.
On the one hand, the political jurisprudence is a text-oriented science, and although it is political, its main resources include Quran, narrative and Sireh (the practical behaviour of the prophet and his family members). On the other hand, it is custom-based, i.e. the history of the jurisprudence forms a part of, the output and the con/text of the political jurisprudence, and its jurisprudential legacy is utilised by this type of jurisprudence.
The political jurisprudence, besides using the textual resources, is rationalistic, doing some interpretations on the texts through rational methods. The political jurisprudence analyses the political phenomena, and indeed, it deals with political issues.
All Civilizations had Governments
All civilizations have gone with governments, and no civilization has managed to build itself without establishing a government. All civilizations had initially established a government and then gave it a civilization format. Therefore, if a science, claiming to be civilization-creating, is incompatible with government and political affairs, will never be civilization-creating.
The Shiite jurisprudence, due to its focus on the society, is also able to cover this layer, as once the society is dealt with, a social layer applies to the political jurisprudence. And if a jurisprudence desires to create civilization, it should recognise this layer among the multiple layers of the society, as done by the Shiite jurisprudence.
There is another type of jurisprudence, called social, assigning administration of justice to the judge/ruler, it specifically deals with the society and not people, an individual or a group; it has been mentioned by some that, many of the Quranic verses on people are the verses including the rules concerning the social jurisprudence. The rules and principles of the social jurisprudence fall into two categories; a) general rules on the human society, and b) rule specifically concerning the Muslim society. The social jurisprudence on filth, Qisas (retaliation) and negation of committing corruption on the earth.
The jurisprudence of the society (the society of the Muslims), encompasses the principles of enjoining good and forbidding wrong, initial/military combat (Jihad of the Sword), the principle of negation of Domination (of non-Muslims over Muslims) which solely apply to the society of the Muslims. In this regard, some contemporary jurisprudents, such as Muhammad-Javad Mughnia, Muhammad-Baqir Sadr, Sheikh Mahdi Shams ad-Din and late Allamah Fazlollah Nouri have developed some theories of the topics like the jurisprudence of the society.
The jurisprudence of some others like Imam Khomeini developed beyond the social jurisprudence, and the jurisprudence of some others like Allamah Fazlollah were specifically recognised as the social jurisprudence, and they all have produced theories in this regard. Late Sheikh Mahdi Shams ad-Din, instead of “the Guardian of the Islamic Jurist”, devised by Imam khomeini, used “the Guardian of the Society”, and developed a theory on the difference/s of the said expressions.
To be continued...
Prepared and Edited by: Fatemeh Tarzafan