Imam al-Shatibi*: The Shari‘ah is Allah’s Best Blessing and Gift to Us

shatibi muwafaqat

“All praise is for Allah, who rescued us from the darkness of ignorance through the illumination of knowledge, and through it He granted us the discernment to avoid falling into erroneous deception. He laid down for us in the sharīa of Muhammad a lofty standard and a manifest guide. This was the best of His abundant blessings that He showered on us and the best of His venerable gifts that He bestowed on us.

We were, before the shining forth of this light, acting haphazardly with our reason pursuing our interests in an unbalanced way. This was due to reason’s weakness in bearing the burden of these interests as well as its involvement with the pressing demands of desire arising within the self, which oscillates equally between these two ends. Thus, we kept placing poison on our ailments in place of medicine, seeking recovery in vain, like a person clutching at water. We continued to float between these two ends in a sea of doubt and greed, groping in our ignorance for a guiding evidence in a jet-black night, desiring results from sterile comparisons, seeking the symptoms of health in an ailing body, and walking prostrate in the belief that we were on the right path. All this continued till such time that pure compulsion appeared in divine decrees themselves. Coerced hands were raised towards the One and Only Subduer and the expectations of those in need were redirected towards Him. When the tongues of circumstances expressed true affirmation and the rule of compulsion was established in the objects of deeds, we recognised the Beneficent Lord and His tremendous kindness, and He showed great kindness to us out of His all embracing favour, for we could not have found a solution without His help nor would we have been guided on our own to the right way. He deemed the excuse of our inability acceptable, creating a hope of forgiveness for our mistakes prior to the sending of Messengers. Allah, the Glorious, has said, “Nor would We visit with Our Wrath until We had sent a messenger (to give warning) [Qur’an 17:15].”

 

He then sent Prophets, peace be upon them, to different nations, each speaking to them in their own tongue, whether Arab or non-Arab, so as to elaborate for them the path of truth for nations in order that they may hold themselves back from the paths to hell.

He made our group, the last yet the foremost, exclusive through the last brick of the hierarchy of the Prophets and the concluding musk perfuming the message (misk al-khitām), Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah. He was an overflowing blessing, a widespread mercy, a far-reaching unlettered wisdom, and a pure Hashimite flower. He sent him to us as a witness, a giver of good news, a warner inviting to God with His permission, and a brilliant lamp. He revealed to him His clear Book in Arabic, a Book that distinguished between doubt and conviction, and which is not affected by falsehood either from the front or from behind. He (the Messenger) elaborated its text in unequivocal terms and expounded its complete message adequately. He (God) enhanced it with the perfume of praise for the Prophet and described him through a unique aroma for He deemed praise for all his morals and traits an attribute of the Qur’an. This way the Prophet (pbuh) became the elaboration of the Qur’an through his words, deeds, and abstentions. The day appeared bright for those with eyes, and guidance was distinguished from guile in the light of the sun without cloud and haze.”

*Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Musa bin Muhammad al-Lakhmi al-Shatibi (d. 790 H/1388 CE) was among the greatest scholars of al-Andalus. He studied with the renowned scholars of Granada and gained expertise in Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr), Hadith, jurisprudence (fiqh), the principles of Islamic law (usūl al-fiqh) as well as Arabic language and grammar. He also wrote treatises on medicine and history.

[Imam al-Shatibi, Al-Muwafaqāt fī Usūl al-Sharī‘a, English translation The Reconciliation of the Fundamentals of Islamic Law, Professor Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Garnet Publishing, Reading, 2011, pp. xxvii to xxviii]

Hat tip for reference: Sidi Ayaz

Qadi ‘Iyad on the Sahabah, the Shari‘ah and Madinah and the Return of Ruling by Islam

Madinah

Qadi ‘Iyad* says in Tartīb al Madārik:

“The Prophet’s Companions supported him in firmly establishing his Shari‘ah during his lifetime and after his death. They succeeded him in protecting it and keeping it in good custody”.

“In numerous revealed texts Allah has indicated explicitly how He granted them excellence above others, commanding that they also be taken as examples to be emulated. And he gave severe warning against following paths other than theirs. He brought them to make their home in Madinah, the homeland of His Revelation, the ultimate refuge of His deen and the place where His Shari‘ah was instituted and established, the land to which His angels came down, the place of the hijra of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, the place in which His book was revealed, the land where the legacy of all His messengers was brought together to live forever, the place where all good was joined together. The cave of iman and wisdom, the golden mine of the Shari‘ah and Sunna, the radiant lamp of guidance by the light of which the regions of the East and West were illuminated. The unending fountainhead of knowledge from which all rivers, valleys and tributaries draw their water.”

“Allah then caused the Companions to be succeeded in each generation by followers of thorough truthfulness and justice.”

And later on in the book, Qadi ‘Iyad mentions this narration:

“From Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, “The one upon whom we ask blessings and peace, said, ‘The Hour shall not take place until Iman returns to take refuge in Madinah just like the snake returning to take refuge in her hole.’ ”Abu Musab al-Zuhri** said regarding this hadith, ‘By Allah! It shall not return and take refuge but among its true followers and its people who establish it completely and properly and who institute in their lives its various precepts and laws, and who have knowledge of its proper interpretation, establishing firmly its rulings by which it judges.’ ”

*Qadi ‘Iyad is ‘Iyad ibn Musa ibn ‘Iyad ibn ‘Imran, Abu al-Fadl al-Yahsubi, born in Sabta (present-day Ceuta, on the Strait of Gibraltar) in 476 H (1083 CE). The Imam of western Muslimdom in hadith and Arabic lexicology, he was a gifted Maliki scholar and author who wrote a number of books in the sciences of hadith, Maliki jurisprudence, and history, though he is best remembered for his two-volume al-Shifa bi ta‘rif huquq al-Mustafa [The cure, in outlining the attributes of the Chosen One], universally acknowledged as among the finest works ever written on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). He was appointed as the judge of Sabta, then Granada, and finally Marrakesh, where he died in 544 H (1149 CE) [Excerpted from Reliance of the Traveller, by Shaykh Nuh Keller, p. 1089]

**He is the learned Scholar and trustworthy hadith Master of Madinah, Abu Musab Ahmad ibn Abi Bakr ibn al-Harith al-Zuhri (152 242 H). He was one of those who narrated the Muwaṭṭa directly from Imam Malik [cf. The Four Imams and their Schools, Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, Muslim Academic Trust, 2007, p. 145]

[Qadi ‘Iyad, ترتيب المدارك وتقريب المسالك لمعرفة أعلام مذهب مالك (Tartīb al madārik wa taqrīb al masālik li ma‘rifat a‘lām madhhab Mālik), quoted in Root Islamic Education, Shaykh Abdalqadir al-Murabit, Madinah Press, Second Edition, London, 1993, pp. 36-37, 53-54]

The Role of the Sultan in Enjoining Right and Forbidding Wrong in Tafsir al-Qurtubi

tafsir qurtubi“Not everyone is capable of carrying out the actions necessary to enjoin right conduct. However, this can be performed effectively by the ruler [Sultan] because he holds the authority to frame laws that will be in accord with the Shari‘ah. As ruler, he has the final word in matters of consequence, such as the legislation of laws, the prosecution of punishable offences and the treatment of prisoners. The role of head of state must be entrusted to an honest, strict, and righteous person since he holds the responsibility of enforcing the dictates of the Shari‘ah in all matters. It is incumbent on the ruler to appoint suitable, powerful and just persons in every city for this purpose. This is because Allah says, “[They are] those who, if We give them power in the land, establish [regular] prayer and give [regular] charity, enjoin right and forbid wrong; with Allah rests the end [and decision] of [all] affairs.” (22:41)”

 

 

[Imam al-Qurtubi, الجامع لأحكام القرآن, vol. 4, p. 47. Translated by Syed Amin Ashraf in Ma‘roof & Munkar, Jalaluddin Umari, International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, 2008 (2nd Revised Edition), p. 119]

Imam al-Qurtubi is Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abu Bakr ibn Farah, Abu ‘Abdullah al-Ansari al-Qurtubi, of Cordova (in present-day Spain). A Maliki scholar and hadith specialist, he was one of the greatest Imams of Qur’anic exegesis, an ascetic who divided his days between worship and writing. Educated in hadith by masters like ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Yahsabi and al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Bakri, we wrote works in the sciences of hadith and tenets of faith, though his enduring contribution is his al-Jami‘ li ahkam al-Qur’an (The Compendium of the Rules of the Qur’an), from which he mainly omitted the stories and histories customary in other commentaries, and recorded instead the legal rulings contained in the Qur’an and how scholars have inferred them, together with the usage of Arabic grammar. Scholars have used it extensively ever since it was written. It is related that Qurtubi disdained airs, and used to walk about in a simple caftan with a plain cap (taqiyya) on his head. He travelled east and settled in Munya Abi al-Khusayb in upper Egypt, where he died in 671H (1273 CE) [Excerpted from Reliance of the Traveller by Shaykh Nuh Keller, p. 1090]