Thursday, July 06, 2006

Khallaf on inferring legal rules from Texts -- Part 2: Textual hints and conjoined meanings

This is the continuation of detailed discussion of The First Rule, translation of which was started in the previous posting.

2. Textual Hints (إشارة النص): A textual hint is a meaning that is not immediately apparent from the words, but a conjoined meaning based on the specific words used, even if it is not the meaning intended within the specific textual context. Thus, since this type of meaning is linguistically conjoined but not intended primarily within the linguistic context, it is thus inferred from the text based on hints, rather than explicit statements. The conjoining of such meanings with primary ones may be manifest or hidden, and that is why scholars have noted that understanding textual hints may require careful reflection and much thought (although, sometimes, it can be understood with very little reflection).

As an example, we consider the verse "[the father] for whom the child was born is required to provide for them food and clothing, according to the best conventional norms". The most direct meaning of the Text, and the one intended by its context, establishes that fathers are responsible for feeding and clothing the mothers of their children. Moreover, the text hints that the father is solely responsible for all expenses of his child, and thus the tribal affiliation of the child follows that of his father. It also follows that if he needs it, the father has the right to take from his child's property without compensation to meet his financial needs. Those latter meanings were inferred from the Textual hints, since the use of the letter lam in (على المولود له) establishes that the child belongs to the father, and that -- in turn -- establishes the rest of the rulings. Those meanings are conjoined to the primary meanings because of the specific wording, but they are not intended by the context, and thus they were inferred from Textual hints, rather than direct Textual wording.

As a second example, we consider the verse enumerating those entitled to a share in fay' (war booty taken without fighting): "to the poor immigrants who were expelled from their homes and properties, seeking provision from Allah, and His good pleasure". The Text here hints at the fact that those immigrants have lost ownership of the properties that they left behind, since they were called "poor" (فقراء), which implies that they no longer own property. This also is a meaning that is conjoined to the language, without being an intended meaning in the Textual context.

... [examples from man-made laws]

It is important to be careful when inferring meanings based on Textual hints, restricting such inference to meanings that are conjoined to the Text in a necessary manner. This is to be contrasted to encumbering the Text with meanings that are quite different, and not necessarily conjoined to the words of the Text, which constitutes subversion in understanding the Texts that is quite different from the inferences based on Textual hints discussed here.


In the next installment, we shall continue with the 3rd component of the First Rule: logical inference from the Text (دلالة النص).

3 Comments:

Blogger heraish said...

Peace,

Can you please post the arabic text of the two verses or altertnatively reference them.



"[the father] for whom the child was born is required to provide for them food and clothing, according to the best conventional norms"

"to the poor immigrants who were expelled from their homes and properties, seeking provision from Allah, and His good pleasure

May God reward you for the post.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Mahmoud El-Gamal said...

wa `alaykumu s-Salamu wa raHmatu Allahi wa barakatuh

The two verses are, respectively, [2:233] and [59:8]

wa s-salam,

10:12 PM  
Blogger heraish said...

Peace,

The lessons to be learned I believe is that the true spirit of Islam is to bring morals and ethics to society. This should be done in the most peaceful and tender manner.

All the pious people and sincere scholars aim was to explain the religion in a manner that can be followed by any human being and for that human being would derive benefit from it for himself, his family and the society he lives in.

God knows best.

11:48 PM  

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