Thursday, August 6, 2009

From Misconceptions to Concepts : al-Masalih al-Mursalah and Bid’ah

I. Introduction
Masalih mursalah is the one of the principle in the Islamic jurisprudence. Basically, the idea of masalih al-mursalah is the derivation of the hukm which is not stated in the primary sources of Islamic law but implementing it for the interest of the public. Many people mistakenly understand this concept due to the lack of paying vigilant attention on the application of previous companions and scholars in using this method. Thus, this phenomenon if still cannot be solved proficiently it will become a severe cancer in the public, in which lead to the wrongly exercising this method in the present life.

In the time of companions, the usage of this principle was applied in certain situations, purposively to promote the righteousness in their judge and seeding the harmonies environment for the ummah. When many companions whom memorizing Qur’an died in a war after the prophet (peace be upon him) passed away, Umar started to suggest to Abu Bakar who was the first caliphate at that time, to do the compilation of the Qur’an. Initially, caliphate Abu Bakar refused to accept Umar’s opinion because the prophet (peace be upon him) did not do it during his lifetime. When Allah has promised to protect His holy Book from lost, unfortunately, Abu Bakar accepted this idea after went deeply into this matter, looking its benefits and drawbacks. Afterward, he asked his companions to start for compiling the scattered Qur’an by collecting the verses among the companions. This pure effort still has a value until now, when many people get benefit from it, may Allah blesses them and place them in a heaven.

This situation depicts a significant proof and evidence to validate this method for being applied though the Qur’an does not state anything whether to allow or forbid the action. However, there were some scholars in the past did not recognize this principle for deriving the hukm in Islamic jurisprudence. They gave several points for supporting their arguments, but all of this will be explained in detail later.

The ultimate reason addressing all the related points under this article aim to expose the readers a healthy discussion in which at the end resulting a deep understanding on the issue very well and the author hope that the respected readers will gain some benefits from this short study and later all of you will be able to convey and apply this knowledge in your daily life. This article is a continuation from the previous articles that I wrote before entitle “Jangan Bicara Soal Bid’ah” (in Malay language that being chosen to be published in Majalah I:Desember 2008 ) and “Islamic Economics : Approaches to Bridging the Divergence” where the discussion on Maslahah approaches arises. All the articles wrote with the objective of trying to address the importance of understanding the concepts underlying the terms used in most of the academic discussion.

II. Definition
Maslahah literally means benefit or interest.
[1] When qualified as Maslahah Mursalah it refers to unrestricted public interest. Maslahah Mursalah is synonymous with Istislah which is also called Maslahah Mutlaqah. Imam Al Ghazali thinks Maslahah consists of considerations which secure a benefit or prevent harm. Protection of life, religion, intellect, lineage and property is Maslahah. [2]
On the basis of Maslahah, companions decided to issue currency, to establish prisons and impose Kharaj (agricultural land tax). The Ulama of Usul are in agreement that Istislah is not a proof in respect of devotional matters (Ibadah) and in respect of specific Shariah injunctions, for example, shares of inheritance.
[3] The majority of Ulama maintain that Istislah is a proper ground for legislation. Imam Al-Shatibi points out that this is the purpose of Quranic Ayat No. 107 of sura Al Anbiya that:-

"We have not sent you but as a mercy for all creatures".[Al-Anbiya’ 21:107]

There is support for Maslahah in the Quran in Surah Al-an’am (6:153), in Surah Hajj (22:78) and in Surah Al-Maidah (5:6).

“Verily, this is My way,leading straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His (great) path: thus doth He command you. That they may be righteous.” [Al-an’am 6:153]

“And has imposed no difficulties on your religion” [Al-Hajj 22:78]

“Allah did not wish to place you in difficulties, but to make you clean, and to complete his favor to you that you may be grateful.”[Al-Maidah 5:6]

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ عَنْ مَالِكٍ عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ عَنْ عُرْوَةَ عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ
مَا خُيِّرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بَيْنَ أَمْرَيْنِ إِلَّا اخْتَارَ أَيْسَرَهُمَا مَا لَمْ يَكُنْ فِيهِ إِثْمٌ فَإِذَا كَانَ فِيهِ إِثْمٌ كَانَ أَبْعَدَ النَّاسِ مِنْهُ وَمَا انْتَقَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لِنَفْسِهِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ يُؤْتَى إِلَيْهِ إِلَّا أَنْ تُنْتَهَكَ حُرْمَةُ اللَّهِ فَيَنْتَقِمَ لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

"The Prophet (pbuh) only chose the easier of two alternatives so long as it did not amount to a sin".

أخبرنا عبد الله بن أحمد بن موسى ، قال : حدثنا الحسين بن محمد الذارع ، قال : حدثنا أبو محصن حصين بن نمير ، قال : حدثنا هشام بن حسان ، عن عكرمة ، عن ابن عباس ، قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : « إن الله يحب أن تؤتى رخصه ، كما يحب أن تؤتى عزائمه »

"Allah loves to see that His concessions (rukksah) are observed, just as He loves to see that His strict laws (azaim) are observed".

The above would confirm that no unnecessary harshness is recommended in the enforcement of Ahkam and that the Muslims should avail of the flexibility and concessions of Shariah.

All the Khulafa al-Rashidun acted in pursuance of Maslahah. Abu Bakr (RA) compiled the Quran. Umar (RA) held his officials responsible for abuse of public office. Usman (RA) distributed the authenticated copy of the Quran and destroyed the copies of variant texts. Ali (RA) held the craftsmen and traders responsible for the loss of goods that were placed in their custody.

Maslahah has been upheld by the majority of Ulama. However, strong support for it comes from Imam Malik. But Imam Malik did not using Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah in all aspect but indeed he avoid it absolutely regarding matter in Ibadah and some other matters like Urf (custom) and Muamalat that have Nas which are more accurate.
[4] Maslahah has been divided into three types by Shatibi and some other scholars.[5]

(i) essentials [daruriyyat],
(ii) the complementary [hajjiyat] and
(iii) beautification [tahsiniyaat].

From the point of view of availability or otherwise of textual authority, Maslahah has been further sub-divided into the following:

1. al-Maslahah al-Mutabarah [accredited Maslahah] which has been upheld in the Shariah such as defending the right ownership by penalizing the thief.

2. Maslahah Mursalah is that which has upheld nor nullified by the Shariah such as provision in law in many Muslim countries for documentary evidence to prove marriage or ownership of property.

3. Maslahah Mulgha which has been nullified either explicitly or by indications in Shariah.[7]

To validate Maslahah the following conditions have to be met:
-Maslahah must be genuine,
-Maslahah must be general (Kulliyah) - that is it secures Maslahah for all.
-It must not be in conflict with clear Nass.

In his book "Masalih al Mursalah", Al Tufi maintains that except for Ibadah (devotional matters) or specific Shariah injunctions, Masalih (plural of Maslahah) should take precedence over other proofs.[8] However, this view is not held by majority.

As regards relation among Qiyas, Istihsan and Istislah, it may be stated that Qiyas and Istihsan are essentially based on Illah in the Nasus (hidden or obvious). Law is expanded by Qiyas or Istihsan on the basis of Illah of Nasus. But when law cannot be made on the basis of Nasus or through Qiyas and Istihsan, law is made on the basis of Maslahah or public interest. A group of scholars have seriously disagreed with Maslahah. But they are a minority and their arguments are not very solid.
[9] To meet the new situations in the changing world, Maslalah is a major instrument in the hands of jurists of Islam.

III. Different of definition between scholars

IV. Al-Masalih al-mursalah And Bid’ah
Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah has some similarities and differences with bid’ah that many people confuse and mix them up.
[10] The confusion is not only among the ordinary people but also among some fuqaha’ nowadays. They are naming one matter with two different names and then giving one same example with these two names.[11]For instance, there are people out there saying the compilation of Quran or Hadith is Bid’ah Hasanah and it also called Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah. The right answer is the compilation of the Quran and Hadith are classified as one of the example of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah. Therefore, we could obviously see how important it is knowing both definition and concept clearly to avoid such misconception in concept.

Therefore, before we go further, we should look at these two definitions clearly and try to comprehend it as what the ulama’ of fiqh and usul fiqh understand them. Imam al-Shatibi (mercy be upon him) mentions that linguistically bid'ah (innovation) means 'a newly invented matter'. However, technically it means a newly invented way [beliefs or action] in the religion, resembling with Sharee'ah (prescribed Law), by which the purpose of doing it to excessively worshipping Allah, [but] not being supported by any authentic proof - neither in its foundations, nor in the manner in which it is performed.[12]

As we mentioned earlier the Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah can be defined as public interest. Both of them have no text authentication from Quran and Sunnah. However, bid’ah is prohibited in practicing it but not for al-Masalih al-Mursalahs.

V. Relationship between Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah and Bid’ah
Indeed both Al-Masalih Mursalah and bid’ah are interrelated because both of them are having no specific dalil syara’ upon them. This is among reason why many people confuse and mix them up and saying that things which are under Al-Masalih al-Mursalah as Bid’ah Hasanah.The misunderstanding between the definition and concept of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah and Bid’ah.The confusion has been used as a statement for mubtadi’(ahlul bid’ah) to invent new matters in matter of ibadah that what they think suit with their nafs.The Prophet (PBUH) had warn us regarding this matters that.:-

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الصَّبَّاحِ وَعَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَوْنٍ الْهِلَالِيُّ جَمِيعًا عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ سَعْدٍ قَالَ ابْنُ الصَّبَّاحِ حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ سَعْدِ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ عَوْفٍ حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي عَنْ الْقَاسِمِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَت قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ْ
مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَ

“Whoever invented new way in our matters (which is matters in religion),whatever is not on it, so it is refused”

Al-Masalih al-Mursalah is not a part of bid’ah.And the relationship between masalih that are relevant to the original hukm syara’ is based on certain conditions:-[15]
(i) Whatever approved by syara’ therefore the authenticity is unquestionable.
(ii) Whatever refused by the syara’ therefore it is unacceptable even the refutation is against a healthy mind.
(iii) Besides of these two cases which mean such as general matters that not explained by syara’ whether it accepted or rejected,it can be devided into 2 sub category:-
· In matters which there are Nas explaining the meaning of the practices therefore it is not valid to make any research to the meaning for example research towards the meaning of prohibition to the inheritance to the killer that kill the heir.
· In matters which there are dalil syara’ in general towards the meaning of certain practices without any specific dalil towards it.This is what we called Al-Masalih al-Mursalah.

VI. Differences between Bid’ah and Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah

Bid’ah is different than al-Masalih Al-Mursalah because Al-Masalih Al-mursalah meaning could be understood by aql. However, ibadah (khusus) cannot be understood by aql as a whole such as wudhu’, prostration, taking bath when junub and so forth. Therefore,we could understand that Bid’ah is innovation in ibadah while al-Masalih Al-Mursalah is regarding matters in muamalah only. The worshiper should observance practice worship according to what decided by Allah S.W.T through our beloved Prophet (PBUH) because innovation in ibadah is detestable.

Ibn 'Abbaas (radhi-yallaahu 'anhumaa) said:
“Indeed the most detestable of things to Allaah are the innovations”

Ibn 'Umar (radhi-yallaahu 'anhumaa) said:
“Every innovation is misguidance, even if the people see it as something good”

Therefore it is our responsibilities to go back to the Quran & Sunnah as what command by the Prophet (PBUH).

فَإِنَّ أَصْدَقَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّ أَفْضَلَ الْهَدْيِ هَدْيُ مُحَمَّدٍ وَشَرَّ الْأُمُورِ مُحْدَثَاتُهَا وَكُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ

“Indeed the best statements is Kitabullah (Quran),and the best guidance is Sunnah.and the worse matter would be innovation(Bid’ah) and every Bid’ah is deviate.”

VII. Conclusion
As a conclusion, the important of Al-Masalih Al-Marsalah becomes significant to be practiced in our present life nowadays. However, this concept should not be applied beyond the limitation made by the scholars. Therefore, it is Allah’s bounties that He bestowed upon us with the permissibility of using this method explicitly in deriving the hukm.

With this short study of the concept of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah, hope the respected readers will receive a lot of benefits throughout this articles and able to convey your understanding on this concept towards the others.

Ibn Yusof
6 Ogos 2009/16 Sya’aban 1430
11.32 p.m

[1] The most important element of Imam Al-Shatibi's legacy is his Muwafaqat, a treatise that contributed "immensely towards the making of modernist' conception of Islamic law,particularly the concept of maslaha (bebefit or public interest) which is its central ingrediant."
[Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 15, No. 1/2 (2000 - 2001), pp. 389-392]
[2] Omar. Ismail, Manhaj Aqidah Ahli As-Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Percetakan Hiza,Selangor,Malaysia,1999) p. 367.
[3] Dr. Taufiq Al-Wa’ii, Al-Bid’ah Wa Al-Masalih al-Mursalah, p.242-238,291-298.
[4] Omar. Ismail, Manhaj Aqidah Ahli As-Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Percetakan Hiza,Selangor,Malaysia,1999) p. 362.
[5] This classification of the objectives of Syari’ah and their interpretation is according to Imam Al-Syatibi (RA). For more details see Shatibi:Al-Muwafaqat, Vol. 2 al-Maktaba al-Tijareyya al-Kubra,Cairo:1395 AD /1975 AH, p.8-25.
[6] The details of this classification will be explained futher in the next sub topic which is Types Of Maslaha.
[7] Kamali, M.H.Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (Second Revised Edition), p.271.
[8]Ibid, p.275.
[9]Ibid, p.280.
[10] For more details could see
[11] Omar. Ismail, Manhaj Aqidah Ahli As-Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Percetakan Hiza,Selangor,Malaysia,1999) p. 378.
[12] Imam Al-Syatibi,Kitab al-I’tisom, Vol. 1 p.37.
[13] Bid’ah that are warned by Prophet (PBUH) is Bid’ah technically as what Imam Syatibi define in Kitab Al-I’tisom,not Bid’ah literally.Therefore the focus is more in innovation in ibadah as what mention by Syeikh Yusof Al-Qardhawi in his writings As-Sunnah and al-Bid’ah.
[14] Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari in his Sahih Bukhari ,Kitab al-Sulh hadith no. 2697.
[15] Omar. Ismail, Manhaj Aqidah Ahli As-Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Percetakan Hiza,Selangor,Malaysia,1999) p. 378.

[16]Imam Al-Bayhaqee,As-Sunan Al-Kubraa, Vol. 4,p.316.
[17] Abu Shaamah no. 39
[18] Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim in Sahih Muslim,Kitab Al-Jama’ah,hadith no.867.


Nazrin Hashim said...

Typing Error.

Al-Marsalih Mursalah
Correct: Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah.

Ibn Yusof said...

Jazakallahu khyran kasiro akh atas teguran ejaan yang tidak konsisten. Typo yang tidak disedari walaupun tajuk artikel jelas. :)