Limits of Reason—II

Cont'd from previous issue
The hopeless condition of the Organisation that advocates Freedom of Thought
There is a renowned International Organisation known as "Amnesty International", with its Head Office in Paris - France. Sometime ago a research scholar of this organisation visited Pakistan for carrying out a survey. He also called on me for an interview. He began his interview by saying that it was the aim of his organisation to work for the freedom of thought and to secure the freedom of many people who are suffering from torture in prisons on the charge of their freedom of thought and we want to liberate them. This, he said, is an issue about which there is no dispute. He told me that he had been sent to Pakistan to collect the opinions of different classes of people in this country. He wanted to question me also on this subject.

The Survey being carried out today
I inquired from him about the purpose of the survey. He told me that he wanted to collect the opinions of different circles of people in Pakistan on this topic. The following dialogue took place between us:
I: When did you arrive at Karachi?
He: Just this morning.
I: When do you intend to go back?
He: I am leaving for Islamabad the next morning.(This meeting was held at night).
I: How long will you stay in Islamabad?
He: Only one day.
I: You are going to carry out a survey of the opinion of various circles of people in Pakistan after which you shall draw up a report to submit to your Organisation. Will your stay in two or three cities of Pakistan for two or three days be sufficient for your purpose?
He: It is obvious that three days are not sufficient to know the opinions of all sections of the people. I have however, met peoples of different schools of thought. I have come to see you for the same purpose. Kindly favour me with your guidance.
I: How many persons have you met in Karachi?
He: I have met three persons and you are the fourth.
I: You will draw up a report purporting to represent Karachi on the basis of the ideas if these four men only. I doubt about the seriousness of your survey report. Serious research work is not undertaken in this way. I am, therefore, unable to reply to your questions. He attributed his inability to interview more people for shortage of time. Still he insisted on my replies to some of his questions. I told him that I was unable to cooperate with him for such an incomplete survey. On the other hand, I asked him permission to put to him a few questions about the basic concept of his Organisation.
He: In fact I had visited you to put to you a few questions, but if you do not want to entertain my questions you are welcome to put some questions about my Organisation, if you so desire.

Is the Theory of Freedom of thought Absolute?
I said to him: You say that the organisation that has deputed you on this work is a champion of Freedom of thought. This Freedom of thought is indeed very good, but do you believe that it is totally Absolute in its import? Is it without any restrictions to keep it within some limits? He replied that he failed to understand my intention. I explained to him my intention by saying: Is the conception of Freedom of thought so Absolute that man should express himself before others and preach to others and exhort them to follow whatever occurs to him? For example, I feel inclined to think that the capitalists have amassed great wealth, so the poor classes should have the freedom to commit dacoity and rob the capitalists of their wealth and there should be none to stop them from this? I should also propagate this thought of mine among the common people, because the capitalists have amassed this wealth by sucking the blood of the poorer classes. Now tell me if you would support this type of Freedom of thought.

You have no fixed standard or yardstick to determine this Freedom of thought
In reply he told me that he would not support such unbridled Freedom of thought. I told him that hen the conception of Freedom of thought is not absolute, then should you not like that some restrictions should be placed on it? He replied in the affirmative, adding by way of an example, that the Freedom of thought should not allow the commission of violence and tyranny to others. I said: This is your view. Others should also have freedom to personal views about the imposition of restriction on the Freedom of thought according to their views. There is no reason why only your views about the restrictions on the Freedom of Thought should be accepted and those of others rejected. The whole issue boils to this question: What should be these restrictions and who should finally approve or disapprove them? I request you to let me know some universally acceptable standard or yardstick for the adoption of the desirable restrictions.
His answer to this question was: We have never given serious thought to this issue. I said: It is a pity that you belong to such a renowned International Organisation and have come out to carry out a survey on the topic of Freedom of thought, but you have not yet decided as to what should be the limits, scope and jurisdiction of this so-called freedom. This programme of yours cannot be successful without a clear-cut decision on this vital issue. I requested him to furnish me an answer to this question from the literature available with him or after consulting others.

Mankind has no standard (yardstick) other than the Divine Revelation
The gentleman promised to convey to his Organisation my views and furnish to me the relevant literature on the subject. He then took leave of me and thanked me coolly. I have been waiting for his literature or replies to my question to this day. I feel quite sure that he can furnish to me neither replies to my questions nor any universally acceptable literature on this topic till the Day of Judgment. This is because every person will fix a standard of his own choice. There is no one in this world who can propose a standard which is universally applicable. I can assert this without fear of any repudiation that there is no standard or criterion other than the criterion of the Divine Revelations which alone can impose necessary and eternal limits on these ambiguous thoughts and conceptions. Man has no guidance other than the Divine guidance.

It is only the Faith that can serve as a Standard
Just consider the theme of philosophy which studies the relation between law and morality. There is a school of thought which maintains that the law has nothing to do with morality and conception of what is good and what is bad is meaningless. The words, "Should, should not and ought",, etc, are the creation of man's own desire. So, whatever a society adopts is right for it. We have no criterion to decide what is good and what is bad. There is a well known text book on the subject of Jurisprudence in which the following sentence occurs at the end of the discussion on this subject.
Mankind has one thing which can serve as a criterion or standard to determine these things and that is Religion, but Religion belongs to man's Belief which has no place in the secular system of life. That is why we cannot adopt it as a basis.

We have no argument against this evil
There is another example. I have already mentioned that when the Bill of Homosexuality was passed in the British Parliament there was a thump to express clapping joy. Before its passage the Bill was vehemently opposed and it was entrusted to a committee to study and decide whether or not it should be passed. The report of this committee was pu lished and its summary is available in Friedman's famous book, The Legal Theory. According to this summary the committee concluded its report with the following observation:
There is no doubt that this is not good. We have, however, decided that the law should not interfere with the private life of man. As such, in the light of this principle we have no argument against this evil as long as we differentiate between sin and crime. This Bill can be opposed only when we regard sin and crime as being one and the same. There is, therefore, no justification to stop the passage of this Bill.
When we demand the Islamization of the law we, mean to say that the secular system recognises as source of knowledge only the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, etc. and the intellect. We propose that going one step further, it should also adopt the Divine Revelation as a source of knowledge and guidance.

I fail to understand the Reason for this Order
It is an act of folly to reject an injunction on the Divine Revelation (i.e. the Qur'an) on the ground that one is unable to understand the reason behind that injunction, when it becomes clear that the Divine Revelation starts from the place which lies beyond the jurisdiction of the human intellect and understanding. If the human reason could be of help at such a stage, there should have been no need of Revelation. If man could grasp the ins and outs of this injunction through the faculty of his Reason, it was hardly necessary for Almighty Allah to send down Revelations through His Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasakllam).

Science and Technology in the Qur'an and Hadith
This also furnishes reply to another question which often arises among the educated classes. They say that this is the age of science and technology. The entire world has advanced in this field, but our Qur'an and Ahadith do not give us any formula in this field, so that we might learn how to manufacture the Atom and Hydrogen Bombs. For this reason, some people are suffering from an inferiority complex, while the world is reaching the moon and the planet mars, the Divine Revelation and the Traditions are silent on this point.

Science and Technology are experimental subjects
The question can be answered by saying that these subjects lie within the jurisdiction of the human intellect. These are experimental sciences, in which personal efforts and experiments are needed. Almighty Allah has left this branch of knowledge to the human research and experiment. The more a man devotes his energies, research and experiment to this technical work, the more will he go ahead in this field. The Qur'an has been, in fact, revealed for the guidance of humanity in matters which lie beyond the jurisdiction of the human intellect and which the faculty of intellect cannot grasp. Thus, it is the Divine Revelation (Qur'an) that has come to our help in understanding such spiritual and celestial issues.
Thus, the entire philosophy of Islamization of Laws consists in the proposition that we should mould our lives on the Laws of Islam.

The Islamic Laws possess Elasticity
Even after having discussed the truth in the This also furnishes reply to another question which *foregoing pages, a question still arises as to how, in this often arises among the educated classes. They say that this ever-changing world, we can revert to a life-style which is is the age of science and technology. The entire world has fourteen centuries old. How can we apply to the advanced in this field, but our Qur'an and the Ahadith do contemporary conditions of life in the twentieth and not give us any formula in this field, so that we might twenty first centuries. These centuries old principles of learn how to manufacture the Atom and Hydrogen Bombs. our life-styles and its needs are ever-changing? This For this reason some people are suffering from an confusion arises from our ignorance of the Islamic Laws. inferiority complex, while the world is reaching the moon It should be carefully noted that Islam has divided its laws into three parts:
1. Fixed Laws that are based on the final injunctions of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (Traditions and practices of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). These are irrevocable laws incapable of being subjected to any change irrespective of the changes which the world may undergo till the Doomsday.
2. Laws which are capable of being revised and amended through juristic process of Ijtihad (Independent judgment) and Istimbat (Deduction.). They are not based on irrevocable fixed Laws. They do contain the elasticity of the Islamic Laws.
3. These are laws about which the Qur'an as well as the Sunnah are silent and contain no directions. Why is it so? This aspect of the law has been left to the discretion of our intellect and for the jurists to consider and decide. The scope of this part of the law is so wide that in every age and by his effort and independent judgment, man can fill this vacuum to meet the ever-changing needs of the world.

The Injunctions in the first category are incapable of any change till the Day of Judgment
The second category of the laws are capable of being changed and amended through the processes of Ijtihad and Istimbat to meet the ever-changing needs of the times. The laws in the first category can however, undergo no change in any circumstances till the Doomsday. This is because they are based on the nature, sensibility and temperament of man. The human life-style may change, in fact, it is under a continuous process of change, but human nature and temperament cannot change. So these laws, too, cannot be changed.
The Shariah (Islamic Laws), however, allow us to effect changes in the other categories of the laws within the limits imposed by the Islamic Shariah.

Where does Ijtihad start from?
Ijtihad starts from the point where the Fixed law based on the evidence of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, (i.e. the injunctions in the first category) are not available. In places where these Fixed Laws are available it is going beyond one's jurisdiction to apply one's own intellect to take decisions against these Fixed Laws. Such a practice leads to the distortion/corruption of Religion, of which I quote below an example.

The meat of swine, i.e. pork should be lawful
In the Holy Qur'an the eating of pork has been declared to be strictly forbidden. This prohibition is based on an injunction of Divine Revelation. To question on the basis of the intellect as to why pork has been prohibited and made unlawful is an example of using the intellect beyond its jurisdiction. That is why some misguided Intellectuals have gone to the extent of saying: In the days of yore, pigs were very dirty and were raised in very disgusting environments, eating filth and faeces. Nowadays they are bred in highly hygienic farms in very healthy environments. So the injunction which prohibits eating of pork should be repealed. This is using the Intellect beyond its jurisdiction where it is refusing to operate.

What is the difference between Usury and Trade?
Similarly, when usury and interest have been prohibited in the Holy Qur'an, they have become unlawful for all times, whether or not the Intellect is able to grasp the wisdom of this injunction. While quoting the argument of the unbelievers, the Qur'an has said:
إنما بيع مثل ربا
"Trade is just like Usury. Man earns profit from Trading (sale and purchase) and from usury also." (2 275)
Without explaining the difference between trade and usury, the Qur'an gave the following reply to the unbelievers:
و أحل الله البيع و حرم الربا
Allah has allowed trading and prohibited Usury. (Ibid).
Now you have no business to object to this Divine Command, because when Allah has allowed trading, it is lawful; and when He has forbidden usury, it is unlawful. To raise objections to this Divine Command is nothing but using the Intellect beyond its Jurisdiction.

An Event
It is a famous event that once an Indian musician went on the Hajj Pilgrimage. After performing the pilgrimage, while he was going to Madina Munawwarah, he had to pass the nights at the various night stops. When this musician stopped at a place to pass the night, by chance an Arab musician also came there. He was a Bedouin and an untrained musician and did not know how to play on the usual musical instruments. His performance was hopeless and repulsive. When the Indian musician listened to Bedouin performance he said: Now I understand why the Holy Prophet & declared singing and musical performance to be unlawful, because he listened only to the hopeless performance of the Bedouins. If he had listened to my performance, he would not have declared music unlawful. The intention in relating this event is to point out that now-a-days misdirected and wrong thinking are being dubbed as Ijtihad. This is an example of using personal desires within the domain of the Shari bh.

The Ijtihad of present-day thinkers
There is among us a so-called 'thinker'. I mention I him here as a 'thinker' because he is regarded as such in his circle:
و السارق والسارقة فاقطعوا أيديهما
As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands (5.38)
Explaining this verse of the Holy Quran this so-called thinker has said: The word "thief' stands for the capitalists who have established huge industries, the word "hands" stands for industries and "cut off' stands for nationalization of their industries. According to this, the verse means that all the industries of the capitalists should be nationalised to close the door of theft. Note: Thus, according to his "great thinker", Allah has let free the thieves, robbers, dacoits and plunderers to continue their crimes without fear of punishment.

Dr Muhammad Iqbal's opinion about the Ijtilaad (Independent opinion) of this kind
ز اجتہادے علمانے کم نظر
اقتدا با رفتگاں محفوظ تر
To follow in the footsteps of the past learned men are safer than following the Ijtihad of such short-sighted men of today.

The cry for Tajdeed (Renovation)
Dr. Iqbal has said:
ليکن يہ ڈر کہ يہ آزادہ تجديد
مشرق ميں ہے تقليد فرنگی کا بہانہ
The hue and cry being raised for introducing renovation and changes may, it is feared, be only a plea to impose on the East the Western trend of thought and civilization.
It may be mentioned that only the use of the term "Islamisation" as a common slogan will not help at all, unless the philosophy of Islamisation is fully grasped and understood.
خرد نے کہ بھی ديا لا الہ تو کيا حاصل
دل و نگاہ مسلماں نہي تو کچھ بھی نہی
It is no good if a man pronounces the words
Cont'd on page
"Laa ilaaha ... ' by dint of his intellect, unless he becomes a Muslim by his heart and soul, and purity of sight.
Accordingly, the first step towards Islamisation is that we should, with full confidence and belief, full courage, without any favour or fear and apology, be ready to declare openly that if there is any way open to humanity to prosperity and success it is Islamisation and Islamisation alone and nothing else. May Almighty Allah help us to understand this truth rightly and work to implement this. Aameen.
Venue : Jame'masjid Baitul Mukarram, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, Date : Friday, 24th Jan. 1992, After 'Asr Prayers