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Unformatted text preview: ment that the opponents of maslahah have advanced would appear to be specious and self-defeating. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 247 Chapter Fourteen: 'Urf (Custom) As a noun derived from its Arabic root 'arafa (to know), 'urf literally means 'that which is known'. In its primary sense, it is the known as opposed to the unknown, the familiar and customary as opposed to the unfamiliar and strange. `Urf and 'adah are largely synonymous, and the majority of ulema have used them as such. Some observers have, however, distinguished the two, holding that `adah means repetition or recurrent practice, and can be used with regard to both individuals and groups. We refer, for example, to the habits of individuals as their personal `adah. But `urf is not used in this capacity: we do not refer to the personal habits of individuals as their `urf. It is the collective practice of a large number of people that is normally denoted by `urf. The habits of a few or even a substantial minority within a group do not constitute 'urf. [1. Badran, Usul, p. 224; Ziadeh, ' 'Urf and Law ', p. 60; Isma'il, Adillah, p. 389.] 'Urf is defined as 'recurring practices which are acceptable to people of sound nature.' This definition is clear on the point that custom, in order to constitute a valid basis for legal decisions, must be sound and reasonable. Hence recurring practices among some people in which there is no benefit or which partake in prejudice and corruption are excluded from the definition of 'urf. Isma'il, Adillah, p. 388; Badran, Usul, p. 224.] [2. Mahmassani, Falsafah (Ziadeh's trans.), p. 132; `Urf and its derivative, ma'ruf, occur in the Qur'an, and it is the latter of the two which occurs more frequently. Ma'ruf, which literally means 'known' is, in its Qur'anic usage, is equated with good, while its opposite, the munkar, or 'strange', is equated with evil. It is mainly in this sense that 'urf and ma'ruf seem to have been used in the Qur'an. The commentators have generally interpreted ma'ruf in the Qur'an as denoting faith in God and His Messenger, and adherence to God's injunctions. Thus the standard commentary on the Qur'anic phrase ta'muruna bi al-ma'ruf wa tanhawna 'an al-munkar (Al-Imran, 3:110) given by the exegetes is that 'you enjoin belief in God and in His Messenger and enforce His laws, and you forbid disbelief and indulgence in the haram.' 1323-29), IV, 30; Ziadeh, ' 'Urf and Law ', pp. 60-61; Isma'il, Adillah, p. 401.] The same interpretation is given to the term ' 'urf ' in the text which occurs in sura al-A'raf (7:199): `Keep to forgiveness, enjoin `urf [wa'mur bi'l-`urf] and turn away from the ignorant.' According to the exegetes, `urf in this context means fear of God and the observance of His commands and prohibitions. But occasionally, ma'ruf in the Qur'an occurs in the sense of good conduct, kindness and justice, especially when the term is applied to a particular situation. It is only when `urf or ma`ruf is ordered generally without reference to a particular matter, situation or problem that it carries the meaning of a...
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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