“The use of the proofs of the Islamic law (Shari’ah) between the cross-linking method and the deconstruction method”
Dr Ahmad al-Raissouni
As part of the Lecture Series, the Centre for the Study of the Philosophy of Islamic Law commenced its activities for 2022 with a valuable and highly engaging lecture novel in title and archaic in topic, entitled “The use of the proofs of the Islamic law (Shari’ah) between the cross-linking method and the deconstruction method”,
delivered by the erudite Islamic law objectives (maqāṣid) scholar, Dr Ahmad al-Raissouni, President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and member of the Board of Experts of the Centre for the Study of the Philosophy of Islamic Law at Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation. The lecture took place on Wednesday, 26 January 2022, and was hosted online, on the Zoom platform.
The session was chaired by Mr Mohamed Drioueche, Head of Projects & Publications at the Foundation, who welcomed the audience and the lecturer, and introduced the lecturer.
This august scholarly gathering was attended virtually by a large group of scholars and students of knowledge from many parts of the Western, Arab, and Islamic world.
Dr Ahmad al-Raissouni commenced his valuable lecture by explaining the terminology adopted, opening with the term, Islamic law proofs / sources, which encompass everything scholars use in their evidencing, and on which they base rulings and deduced meanings, particularly jurisprudents (fuqahā’) and legal theorists (al-uṣūliyyūn). Sources are the Qur’ān, the Sunnah, juristic consensus (ijmā‘), analogy (qiyās), consideration of valid interest (istiṣlāḥ), juristic preference (istiḥsān), the axioms (qawā‘id) of jurisprudence (fiqh) and legal theory (uṣūl), and intellectual reasoning and sound rational consideration.
Dr al-Raissouni then progressed to discuss ‘cross-linking’ and ‘deconstruction’, which are used in the lecture solely on their etymological basis. He drew attention to ‘cross-linking’ as being a network composed of proofs / sources and axioms, and from intellectual reasoning and empirical experiences, used in juristic consideration. In other words, ‘cross-linking’ is to combine, link, and attach these sources / proofs together, as well as eliciting some from others. These are at scholars’ fingertips; some scholars list and detail them exhaustively, while others are more sparing. These are not disconnected indicants or isolated islands.
Dr Ahmad al-Raissouni pointed out that legal theorists use terms like collating (jam‘), reconciling (tawfīq), or combining (ḍamm) indicants, rather than the term, cross-linking.
The lecturer then proceeded to explain the ‘deconstruction method’, saying that this approach is the exact opposite of ‘cross-linking’, such that sources / proofs are used in piecemeal fashion. Someone may evidence with a single Qur’ān verse (āyah), without considering any others, even if these address the same subject, are related to it, or exert influence upon it, ignoring interest (maṣlaḥah), axioms, and a number of indicants. Thus, if they encounter a single text or tradition, they quickly adopt it, and issue their rulings in that respect, on the basis that this is a religious text, and its pronouncement is mandatory, and nothing more. He added that this deconstructive meaning is described by the Qur’ān, speaking about “those who divide the Qur’ān into little pieces”. The majority of exegesis scholars interpreted this as dividing the Qur’ān into parts (‘aḍūn is derived from a‘ḍā’ or parts), i.e. separated and dispersed. The lecturer warned of the hazards of this deconstructive approach, where its practitioners understand religious texts piecemeal; by deconstructing the Noble Qur’ān into parts, their view of the Qur’ān is not comprehensive, in its complete content, topics, semantics, and unity of outcome. Rather, they pit proofs against one another, or apply some proofs, while neglecting and discarding others; thus falling into contradictions.
Before giving an expanded treatment of proofs, and examining some cases using examples to illustrate the importance of the method of cross-linking proofs, which secure the Legislator’s objective, while also elucidating its fruits, Dr Ahmad al-Raissouni emphasised that the questions to which the cross-linking method must be applied and indicants presented, are those multi-faceted, novel emergent issues that have a present and consequential status, perhaps generating conflict, with special importance needing to be demonstrated, while substantiating the certainty of the Islamic law semantics in that case; thus, all types of indicants are mobilised for the purpose.
After the lecture presentation ended, the guests were given the opportunity to question, discuss, and comment. Dr Wasfi Abu Zayd, Dr Abdul Rahman al-Kelani, Dr Mohamed Awwam, Dr Zainab Abu Ali, and others contributed, further enriching the lecture. Subsequently, Dr Ahmad al-Raissouni responded to the questions and commentaries at the end.
The audience benefited from this pioneering and engaging lecture, and the ensuing discussions, given the new, beneficial opinions presented; the lecturer continuing in his praiseworthy habit of engaging in research, and validation following the soundest approach, and most ideal means to accrue benefits.