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Unformatted text preview: n to interpretation and ijtihad in the same way as the solitary, or Ahad, Hadith; which means that they are more or less equal in these respects. Furthermore, according to the majority opinion, before implementing a Qur'anic rule one must resort to the Sunnah and ascertain that the ruling in question has not been qualified in any way or given an interpretation on which the text of the Qur'an is not self-evident. [61. See Shatibi, Muwafaqat, IV, 5., see also Siba`i, Al-Sunnah, pp. 378-79.] In response to the assertion that the Sunnah is the arbiter of the Qur'an, it will be noted, as al-Shatibi points out, that this need not interfere with the order of priority in favor of the Qur'an. For in all cases where the Sunnah specifies or qualifies the general or the absolute terms of the Qur'an, the Sunnah in effect explains and interprets the Qur'an. In none of such instances is the Qur'an abandoned in favor of the Sunnah. The word qadiyah (arbiter) in the expression quoted above therefore means mubayyinah (explanatory) and does not imply the priority of the Sunnah over the Qur'an. The textual rulings of the Quran concerning theft and the obligation of zakah have, for example, been qualified by the Sunnah. However, it is only proper to say that in both these cases, the Sunnah elaborates the general rulings of the Qur'an, and it would hardly be accurate to suggest that the Sunnah has introduced anything new or that it seeks to overrule the Qur'an. When an interpreter explains a particular legal text to us, it would hardly be correct to say that we act upon the words of the interpreter without referring to the legal text itself. [62. Shatibi, Muwafaqat, IV, 5.] Furthermore, the explanatory role of the Sunnah in relationship to the Qur'an has been determined by the Qur'an itself, where we read in an address to the Prophet in sura al-Nahl (16:44): 'We have sent down to you the Remembrance so that you may explain to the people what has been revealed to them.' The correct conclusion drawn from this and similar Qur'anic passages is that the Sunnah, being explanatory to the Qur'an, is subordinate to it. [63. Shatibi, Muwafaqat, IV, 6.] Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 61 Is Sunnah an Independent Source? An adequate answer to the question as to whether the Sunnah is a mere supplement to the Qur'an or a source in its own right necessitates an elaboration of the relationship of the Sunnah to the Qur'an in the following three capacities: Firstly, the Sunnah may consist of rules that merely confirm and reiterate the Quran, in which case the rules concerned originate in the Qur'an and are merely corroborated by the Sunnah. The question as to whether the Sunnah is an independent source is basically redundant with regard to matters on which the Sunnah merely confirms the Qur'an, as it is obvious that in such cases the Sunnah is not an independent source. A substantial part of the Sunnah is, in fact, of this variety: all ahadith pertaining to the five pillars of the faith and other such matters like the rights of one's parents...
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