An Accepted Orthodox Principle?
by Sh. G. F. Haddad
[The default status of things is indifference until the proof indicates prohibition;
but someone wrote:]
Everything in one's daily life is permissible unless there is a proof to the opposite.
The correct phrasing in the Shafiʿi School is that "The default status of things is indifference until the proof indicates prohibition" (al- aslu fil-ashya'i al-ibahatu hatta yadulla al-dalilu ʿala al-tahrimi) cf. al-Suyuti, Ashbah (Cairo 1998 ed. 1:166). This is the Shafiʿi view. It is also the majority Hanafi view according to Ibn ʿAbidin quoting Sharh Usul al-Pazdawi in his Hashiya (1386H ed. 4:161), although the author of the Durr al-Mukhtar considered that the default status is suspension of the ruling (al-tawaqquf) until the Law decides.
The view of Imam Abu Hanifa himself, Allah be well-pleased with him, was that the reverse is true, the default status of things is prohibition until the proof indicates indifference, and Allah knows best cf. Ibn Nujaym, Ashbah (p. 73-74).
Some Shafiʿis did agree with the view that the default status of things is prohibition, cf. al-ʿImriti (d. 890) in his Nazm Matn al- Waraqat (Dar al-Farfur ed. of Mahalli's Sharh al-Waraqat p. 101):
"The default status of things prior to the Law is prohibition, but not after a legal ruling (says otherwise). and wherever we find no evidence of licitness in the Law, we hold on to the default ruling."
Note, in addition, that even in the view of permissiveness, the term "things" is not inclusive of all matters of "daily life". Another agreed-upon qaʿida among Shafiʿis and Hanbalis (as well as the other Schools) is that "The default status of female pudenda is prohibition" i.e. sexual intercourse (al-aslu fil-abdaʿ al-tahrim) cf. al-Suyuti, Ashbah (1:169), Ibn Muflih, al-Mubdiʿ (Maktab al-Islami ed. 7:247). Only nikah makes it permissible.
To this, the main Hanafi manual Bada'iʿ al-Sana'iʿ (Beirut 1982 ed. 2: 274) adds "lives" as well: "The default status of pudenda and lives is prohibition." The Hanafis also add gold, some even silver cf. Hidaya (4:82).
To this, the Shafiʿis add: "The default status of animals is prohibition until proper immolation is ascertained" cf. Muhadhdhab (Fikr ed. 1:249) and Majmuʿ (Fikr ed. 9:24, 9:72).
Some of them also add property (al-mal) due to the hadith: "Your property and lives are sacrosanct" cf. al-Subki, Ibhaj (ʿIlmiyya ed. 3:168).
So then, in "daily life":
- LIFE is haram by default until capital punishment or jihad, e.g., make it halal;
- PROPERTY is haram by default, until wages, zakat, gifting, a contract of sale, inheritance or the Sultan's booty, e.g., make it halal;
- SEXUAL INTERCOURSE is haram by default, until the contract of nikah or slave ownership make it halal;
- MEATS are haram by default, until (reasonable conjecture of) proper slaughter of certain animals makes them halal (and they differ according to madhhab, the most permissive one being the Maliki).
Everything in worship is haram unless there is a nass to prove otherwise.
In actuality, the proof behind the rule (qaʿida
) that "The basis in things is indifference until the proof indicates prohibition" is a hadith whose context was unquestionably about worship, namely: Should we perform pilgrimage every year? When the questioner kept asking, the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, replied: "Whatever Allah Most High made halal it is halal, and whatever He made haram is haram, and whatever He was silent about, it is a boon (ʿafwun), so accept from Allah the boon He is giving you, for Allah certainly is not going to forget anything."
Furthermore, we were created for worship and "The brain of worship is duʿa" whereupon every Muslim is not only permitted but commanded to do his best in duʿa at all times in every way possible.
To take one instance, both the Holy Qur'an orders us to invoke  all sorts of  abundant  lofty blessings and salutations on the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace (which the Ummah has been trying non-stop to fulfill, Dala'il al-Khayrat being one of the best examples of such excellent innovation) and also the Sunna of the Holy Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, as shown in the saying of Ibn Masʿud: "When you invoke blessings on your Prophet, invoke blessings in the best possible way", then he proceeded to recite an *innovated form* of invocation of blessings. A narration authenticated by al-Mundhiri in the Targhib and al-Busiri in his analysis of Sunan Ibn Majah.
I have cited over a hundred such examples
from the lives of the Salaf in my Sunna Notes II.