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Unformatted text preview: is to discover the intention of the Lawgiver - or of any person for that matter - from his speech and actions. Interpretation is primarily concerned with the discovery of that which is not self-evident. Thus the object of interpretation in Islamic Law, as in any other law, is to ascertain the intention of the Lawgiver with regard to what has been left unexpressed as a matter of necessary inference from the surrounding circumstances. [1. Cf. Abdur Rahim, Jurisprudence, p. 78.] From the viewpoints of their clarity, scope, and capacity to convey a certain meaning, words have been classified into various types. With reference to their conceptual clarity, the ulema of usul have classified words into the two main categories of 'clear' and 'unclear' words. The main purpose of this division is to identify the extent to which the meaning of a word is made clear or left ambiguous and doubtful. The significance of this classification can be readily observed in the linguistic forms and implications of commands and prohibitions. The task of evaluating the precise purport of a command is greatly facilitated if one is able to ascertain the degree of clarity (or of ambiguity) in which it is conveyed. Thus the manifest (Zahir) and explicit (Nass) are 'clear' words, and yet the jurist may abandon their primary meaning in favour of a different meaning as the context and circumstances may require. Words are also classified, from the viewpoint of their scope, into homonym, general, specific, absolute and qualified. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 84 This classification basically explains the grammatical application of words to concepts: whether a word imparts one or more than one meaning, whether a word is of a specific or general import, and whether the absolute application of a word to its subject matter can be qualified and limited in scope. From the viewpoint of their actual use, such as whether a word is used in its primary, secondary, literal, technical or customary sense, words are once again divided into the two main categories of literal (Haqiqi) and metaphorical (Majazi). The methodology of usul al-fiqh tells us, for example, that commands and prohibitions may not be issued in metaphorical terms as this would introduce uncertainty in their application. And yet there are exceptions to this, such as when the metaphorical becomes the dominant meaning of a word to the point that the literal or original meaning is no longer in use. The strength of a legal rule is to a large extent determined by the language in which it is communicated. To distinguish the clear from the ambiguous and to determine the degrees of clarity/ambiguity in word also helps the jurist in his efforts at resolving instances of conflict in the law. When the mujtahid is engaged in the deduction of rules from indications which often amount to no more than probabilities, some of his conclusions may turn out to be at odds with others. Ijtihad is therefore not only in need of comprehending the langu...
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