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Unformatted text preview: to ta'wil. In determining the scope of the 'Amm, reference is made not only to the rules of the language but also to the usage of the people, and should there be a conflict between the two priority is given to the latter. The Arabs normally use words in their general sense. But this statement must be qualified by saying that linguistic usage has many facets. Words are sometimes used in the form of 'Amm but the purpose of the speaker may actually be less than 'Amm or even Khass. The precise scope of the 'Amm has thus to be determined with reference to the conditions of the speaker and the context of the speech. When, for example, a person says that ' honoured the people' or 'I fought the enemy forces', he must surely mean only those whom he met. 'Amm as a rule applies to all that it includes especially when it is used on its own. But when it is used in combination with other words, then there are two possibilities: either the 'Amm remains as before, or it is specified by other words. [46. Shatibi, Muwafaqat, III, 154.] It thus appears that there are three types of 'Amm, which are a follows: Firstly, the 'Amm which is absolutely general, which may be indicated by a prefix in the form of a pronoun. Note for example the Qur'anic ayat, 'there is no living creature on earth [wa ma min dabbatin fi'l-ard] that God does not provide for' (Hud, 11:6); and 'We made everything [kulla shay'in] alive from water' (al-Anbiya', 21:30). In the first ayah, the prefix 'ma min' ('no one', 'no living creature'), and in the second ayah, the word 'kull' (i.e. 'all' or 'every') are expressions which identify the 'Amm. Both of these ayat consist of general propositions which preclude specification of any kind. Hence they remain absolutely general and include all to which they apply without any exception. Secondly, there is the 'Amm which is meant to imply a Khass. This usage of 'Amm is also indicated by evidence which suggests that the 'Amm comprises some but not absolutely all the individuals to whom it could possibly apply. An example of this is the word 'al-nas' ('the people') in the Qur'anic ayah, 'pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by all people who are able to undertake it' (Al-'Imran, 3:97). Here the indications provided by the text imply that children and lunatics or anyone who cannot afford to perform the required duty are not included in the scope of this ayah Thirdly, there is the 'Amm which is not accompanied by either of the foregoing two varieties of indications as to its scope. An example of this is the Qur'anic word almutallaqat ('divorced women') in the text which provides that 'divorced women must observe three courses upon themselves' (al-Baqarah, 2:228). This type of 'Amm is Zahir in respect of its generality, which means that it remains general unless there is evidence to justify specification (takhsis). In this instance, however, there is another Qur'anic ruling which qualifies the general requirement of the waiting period, or 'iddah, that th...
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This note was uploaded on 04/13/2013 for the course ISLAM 101 taught by Professor Islam during the Spring '13 term at Harvey Mudd College.
- Spring '13