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Unformatted text preview: ment are liable to err. While an act may be evaluated by one person as good, another person might say the opposite. We normally say, for example, that honesty is good, but when it is likely to cause the death of an innocent person in the hands of a tyrant, it may be regarded as evil. It is therefore not for the human intellect to determine the values of things, and we cannot say that what the 'aql deems to be good is necessarily good in the sight of God, or that what it considers evil is also evil in His sight. The Ash'arites thus maintain that right and wrong are not determined by reference to the nature of things, or our perception thereof, but are determined as such by God. When the lawgiver permits or demands an act, we know that it is right/good, and when He forbids an act, it is certain that the act in question is wrong/evil. Hence the criterion of right and wrong is shar', not 'aql. According to this view, which is held by the majority of ulema, what the law commands is good and what it forbids is evil. This view is in accord with what is known as the principle of the rule of law (also known as the principle of legality) which establishes that a man is not required to do something or to avoid doing it unless the law has been communicated to him in advance. No-one is either rewarded for an act or punished for an omission unless he knows its status by means of a clear communication. Thus when a person happens to be living in total isolation and has never received the message of the Lawgiver, he is not a mukallaf and deserves neither reward nor punishment. This view quotes in support the Qur'anic proclamation: `And We never punish until We send a messenger' (al-Isra, 17:15), which indicates that reward and punishment are based on the revealed law, not the human intellect. Elsewhere in the Qur'an, we also read, in a reference to the purpose of divine revelation, `[...] so that after the coming of messengers, mankind would have no plea against God' (al-Nisa, 4:165). In yet another place the Qur'an affirms that punishment is imposed only after the people are duly warned but not before: in a reference to the disbelievers, the Qur'an thus proclaims: 'Had We inflicted on them a penalty before this [revelation] they would have said: Our Lord! If only you had sent us a messenger, we would have followed your signs [. . .]' (Ta-Ha, 20:134). Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 297 The Ash'arites maintain the view that the commands of the Lawgiver relate to the conduct of the mukallaf only after the advent of Islam and that prior to this event there is no basis for obligation. Infidelity (kufr) is not haram, nor is faith (lyman) wajib before the revelation actually declares it so. Shawkani, Irshad, p.7. Abu Zahrah, Usul, p.57ff; Khallaf, 'Ilm, p. 97.] Secondly, the Mu'tazilah, that is, the followers of Ibrahim al-Nazzam, have held the view that human intellect can identify the law of God regarding the conduct of the mukallaf even without the mediation of sc...
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