Open Letter
To Al-Baghdádí

Response To Daesh (Not ”IS”)

Part 03 - Legal Theory And Language

With over 125 leading ulemas' signatures*

Besides, how could ‘a sword’ affect realms where swords have no effect, such as the heavens, subtle beings and plants? The Prophet Muhammad’s ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) being a mercy to all the worlds cannot possibly be conditional upon his having taken up the sword (at one point in time, for a particular reason and in a particular context). This point is not merely academic. Rather, it reveals the essence of much of what is to follow since it erroneously equates the sword and Divine mercy.

1. Legal theory (usul al-fiqh) and Qur’anic exegesis

With regards to Qur’anic exegesis, and the understanding of Hadith, and issue in legal theory in general, the methodology set forth by God in the Qur’an and the Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) in the Hadith is as follows: to consider everything that has been revealed relating to a particular question in its entirety, without depending on only parts of it, and then to judge—if one is qualified—based on all available scriptural sources.

God (may His Majesty be exalted) says: {… What, do you believe in part of the Book, and disbelieve in part? …} (Al-Baqarah, 2:85); {… they pervert words from their contexts; and they have forgotten a portion of what they were reminded of…} (Al-Ma’idah, 5:13); {… those who have reduced the Recitation, to parts} (Al-Hijr, 15:91). Once all relevant scriptural passages have been gathered, the ‘general’ has to be distinguished from the ‘specific’, and the ‘conditional’ from the ‘unconditional’.

Also, the ‘unequivocal’ passages have to be distinguished from the allegorical ones. Moreover, the reasons and circumstances for revelation (asbab al-nuzul) for all the passages and verses, in addition to all the other hermeneutical conditions that the classical imams have specified, must be understood. Therefore, it is not permissible to quote a verse, or part of a verse, without thoroughly considering and comprehending everything that the Qur’an and Hadith relate about that point.

The reason behind this is that everything in the Qur’an is the Truth, and everything in authentic Hadith is Divinely inspired, so it is not permissible to ignore any part of it. Indeed it is imperative to reconcile all texts, as much as possible, or that there be a clear reason why one text should outweigh another. This is what Imam Shafi’i explains in his Al-Risalah, with a universal consensus among all usul scholars. Imam al-Haramayn, Al-Juwayni, says in Al- Burhan fi Usul Al-Fiqh:

Regarding the qualities of a mufti and the disciplines that he must master: ... it is imperative that the mufti must be a scholar of language, for the Shari’ah is [in] Arabic. ... it is imperative that he be a scholar of syntax and parsing ... it is imperative that he be a scholar of the Qur’an, for the Qur’an is the basis of all rulings ... Knowledge of textual abrogation is indispensable; and the science of the fundamentals of jurisprudence (usul) is the cornerstone of the whole subject ... He should also know the various degrees of proofs and arguments ... as well as their histories. [He should also know] the science of Hadith so that he can distinguish the authentic from the weak; and the acceptable from the apocryphal ... [He should also know] jurisprudence....

Moreover, having ‘legal intuition’ (fiqh al-nafs) is needed: it is the capital of anyone who derives legal rulings ... scholars have summarized all this by saying that a mufti is ‘someone who independently knows all the texts and arguments for legal rulings’. ‘Texts’ refers to mastering language, Qura’nic exegesis and Hadith; while ‘arguments’ indicates mastering legal theory, analogical reasoning of the various kinds, as well as ‘legal intuition’ (fiqh al-nafs).

Al-Ghazali has said similar things in Al-Mustasfa (Vol. 1, p.342), as did Al-Suyuti in Al- Itqan fi Ulum Al-Qur’an (Vol. 4, p.213).

2. Language

As mentioned above, one of the most important pillars of legal theory is the mastery of the Arabic Language. This means mastering Arabic grammar, syntax, morphology, rhetoric, poetry, etymology and Qur’anic exegesis. Without mastery of these disciplines, error will be likely, indeed inevitable. Your declaration of what you have termed ‘the Caliphate’ was under the title ‘This is God’s Promise’. The person who phrased this declaration intended to allude to the verse: { God has promised those of you who believe and perform righteous deeds that He will surely make them successors in the earth, just as He made those who were before them successors, and He will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them, and that He will give them in exchange after their fear security. “They worship Me, without associating anything with Me”. And whoever is ungrateful after that, those, they are the immoral.} (Al-Nur, 24: 55). But it is not permissible to invoke a specific verse from the Qur’an as applying to an event that has occurred 1400 years after the verse was revealed. .-.

[continue with part 04]

(This text has only been slightly edited, some linebreaks, coloring for Quran and hadith, using the title ”Open Letter To Al-Baghdádí” instead of just ”Open Letter”, and the emphasis after ”as it is forbidden to mix”. Ed. Omar KN)

Read the full letter here: Open-Letter-To-Al-Baghdadi [pdf]
Original URL: [ ]

* One of its signatories is Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, from Syria.

Other Links:
CNN: Syrian Scholar, Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, condemns ISIS [ youtube ]

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latest update: 2014-11-27

* living Islam – Islamic Tradition *