Rafed English

No Generality without an Exception

The second reason was given by the ulema of usul ul-fiqh - and if I can explain it to you, then the meaning concerning this verse will become clear.

The ulema say:

"Maa min 'amman illa waqad khussa"

"There is no generality that is without an exception." And this is absolutely right. We are told to fast, but not when we are ruled as traveling, or too sick. There are similar exceptions generality that has no exception. Even this very rule has exceptions. There are some generalities that really have no exceptions and admit none.

The point of this is that some issues refuse to be abrogated, refuse all exceptions. The tone of these generalities is that they can admit no exceptions. For example, in the Quran we are told:

"If you are thankful God is pleased with it." (39:7)

and to this there can never be any exception. It is not possible that there will come a time when a person will be sincerely grateful to God, and God will not be pleased. No. This is not something that in certain circumstances will be any different, unless that person becomes ungrateful.

Similarly concerning abrogation, some verses are such that undamentally abrogation is not applicable to them because the meaning of abrogation is that the abrogated order was a temporary order. This means that certain things do not admit being temporary. If they be, they must always be. Why? Now I will give you an example.

For example, let's take the verse of the Quran which tells us:

"And do not transgress, God loves not the transgressors." (2:190)

This has a generality in regard to individuals and a continuity in regard to time. Is it possible for us to maintain exceptions to this generality? Can we say that God does not like oppressors with the exception of a few? The holiness of divinity on the one hand and the filth of zulm, of injustice and oppression on the other are not two things that go together for us to be able to say that God does not love transgressors with the exception of so and so. This is a generality that admits no exception. This is not like fasting where we say that we must fast unless we are in such and such a condition. As regards fasting it is possible that in a certain state a person must not fast, but zulm is not a thing whereby we can say that in one instance we must be unjust and in another we must not. Wherever there is injustice and oppression, it is wrong and a crime, irrespective of who has committed it. Even if it were the prophets of God who committed it, still it would be blameworthy, and regarded as sin and disobedience. God does not love anyone who is disobedient. We cannot say "except the injustice of His prophets." Even this is unacceptable. Even if the prophets, (may God spare me for the thought) committed sins, they would not be loved by God. The difference between a prophet and others is not that he committed sins and God loves him nevertheless; but that he never commits any sin while others do. This, then, is a generality which admits no exceptions. Concerning the time factor also, the same thing applies. Can it be said that a certain fact pertains to a certain time? That God loves transgressors for a while, but then changes His mind, cancels His original position, and says that thereafter, He loves transgressors? No, this is a thing that admits no abrogation.

We can see how in one of the verses about jihad the Quran says:

"And fight in the way of God with those who are fighting with you and do not transgress, God loves not those who transgress." (2:190)

With those who fight us, with those who have commenced some type of aggression against us, we are to fight. But we are not ourselves to be aggressors. Fighting against aggression is not aggression. But fighting against other than aggression is aggression and not lawful. We are to fight against aggression so as to eliminate aggression; but if we fight against other than aggression then we ourselves become aggressors. This is not something that admits abrogation. It is possible, for example, that permission for jihad and self-defense be withheld for a while in our own best interests, for us to endure and persevere for a while and then, later, the call for jihad is given, meaning that the command to be patient is canceled because it was only for a limited period. The cancellation of this command is because from the very beginning it was meant to be a temporary one.

Adapted from the book: "Jihad; The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran" by: "Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari"

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