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Taking Things Literally

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 3rd February 2012 11:06
By Mufti Abdur Raheem Lajpuri رحمة اللہ علیه

An incident comes to mind about a Persian man who saw his friend being beaten up by a thug. He immediately went on to the scene an held his friend's hands, because of which the poor man was unable to defend himself. Taking advantage of the situation, the thug beat the man up most severely. When someone asked the foolish friend why he had done so, he replied, "Did you not read Shaykh Saadi's poem in which he says, 'When you see your friend in trouble, hold his hand.'" "You fool!" the people cried, "The poem means that you ought to help him when he is in trouble and not to physically hold his hands."

The incident is similar to the one when Mirza Mazhar Jaane Jaan رحمة ﷲ علیه asked his servant, "Bring the flask, but hold the belly when you bring it." By this he meant that the servant should not carry it by the neck because it could break off, but should carry it by the belly. Taking the instruction literally, the servant carried the flask in one hand and held his belly in the other hand. Because he was a sensitive man, Mazhar Jaane Jaan رحمة ﷲ علیه immediately got a headache when he saw this.

This is what happens when statements are taken literally without any understanding and insight. This is exactly what the Ghair Muqallideen of our times are doing when they memorize some Ahadith and lack the proper understanding and perception of its meaning. They then claim that they are Mujtahideen and go a step further to criticize the true Mujtahideen.

They fail to realize that opinions are of two types. The one is that which defies the clear instructions of Allah, which was what Shaitan presented when he said, "You have created me from fire and created him from sand." He therefore reasoned that he was better than Adam علیه السلام and did not want to prostrate. This type of opinion and reasoning is wrong and worthy of condemnation.

The second type of opinion and reasoning is that which does not defy clear commands and is used to elucidate the meanings of the Qur'an and the Ahadith. This type of opinion and reasoning is commendable and it is this that happened to the Sahabah رضی ﷲ عنھم when Rasulullah ﷺ said that they should not perform their 'Asr Salah but at the settlement of the Banu Qurayzah tribe. Now while some Sahabah رضی ﷲ عنھم understood that Rasulullah's ﷺ intention was to emphasize a speedy march, others took the direct meaning, meaning that they should not perform the 'Asr Salah on the road (even if the time was running out). They therefore did not perform their 'Asr Salah until they reached their destination. The first group however employed their faculties of Ijtihad and performed their Salah en route. When this was reported to Rasulullah ﷺ, he did not reprimand either party. The reasoning of the first group did not conflict with the instruction, but was merely an explanation of the same. Allamah Ibn Qayyim رحمة ﷲ علیه stated that this first group was the group of Fuqaha.

See: Following the Imams, Importance of Taqleed and Consensus Upon Following Them -
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