- Published on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 20:38
- Written by Ali Asghar Ridwani
When Allah, the Divine, has not intervened in the meaning of a given word, it means that the Divine Legislator has entrusted the duty of applying the meanings and themes of that word as is deemed relevant according to common parlance, common wisdom and based upon the judgement of pious people who are well-versed in the religious law [shari‘ah].
The term ‘sha‘a’ir of religion’ which has been exhorted and encouraged by Allah belongs to the above-mentioned group. For further clarity, we refer to three important points:
a. Terms which are used in the language of divine law and there is no reason for them to convey and transmit any new meaning apart from their literal meanings, retain their original and literal meanings.
b. If the Divine Legislator has supplied the meaning of a certain word, and has explicitly stipulated the manner of applying it, we must apply that word in the same manner He has stipulated. If Allah has not explicitly stipulated the meaning of a word, we must apply the meaning that is understood according to common practice and common sense.
c. Things exist in two ways: genetically (relating to origin) and contractually. For example, the terms used for most transactions such as buy, sell and rent are forms of contractual existence. Correspondingly, the word sha‘a’ir, which is often combined with words like Allah or religion to form compound words such as sha‘a’irullah (the signs of Allah) or sha‘a’iruddin (the signs of religion), can exist in these two ways. This is due to the fact that the genuine meaning of the word sha‘a’ir is manifestation or propagation, and because the Divine Legislator has not assigned a specific meaning for this word, we must return to the two previous points (a and b above); that is to say, all compound words made from this root word retain their commonly understood meanings and the genuine meaning of such words must be interpreted through religious custom.
On the other hand, since sha‘a’ir of religion indicate other issues, even though they are considered to be intrinsically genetic, sha‘a’ir indicate contractual meanings, not genetic ones.
Consequently, because the Divine Legislator (Allah) has not supplied the meaning of this word, sha‘a’ir, it therefore means what is understood from it by religious parlance.
To put it briefly, we adopt anything which the Divine Legislator has stipulated and apply it in the way He has specified. However, with the passage of time, new instances will appear which are deemed an instance of sha‘a’ir by religious parlance, common wisdom and pious people who are well-versed in divine law.
Therefore, there is no reason to shun acting upon these cases. With all certainty, we include them among the general meanings which denote revering and exalting the signs of Allah.
Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"