Muhammad Shahrour: His Thought and Approach to the Noble Quran: A Critical Reflection*
By: Dr. Medhat Maher EL Leithy**
Tajdīd (renewal) is definitely among the Islamic fundamentals principles and objectives. It is a Divine Law set for the universe and creatures. Thus, Ijtihād (independent reasoning), in terms of pursuing the truth, is a must as it is a way to benefit from our sane mind and sound heart, following the Divine Commandment: “…كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ. ““…Allah thus makes His signs evident to you, that you may reason”(2:242), and avoiding His Condemnation for those who refrain from reflection, deep understanding and reasoning as in,”إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِندَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ” “Indeed, the worst of the treading creatures to Allah are the deaf and dumb- those who do not reason.” (8:22)
The Prophet Muhammad brings good tidings to Muslims by affirming the perpetual renewal of their religion through the centuries. In this regard, he said: “At the beginning of every century Allah will send one who will renew its religion for the Ummah.” (Abu Dawud: 4291), whether the process of renewal is accomplished individually or collectively. The Prophet also encourages Muslims to decisively adopt the way of Ijtihād. In fact, whoever sincerely adopts Ijtihād but reaches a wrong deduction won’t miss the reward, as trying is failing with honor. He said: “When a judge gives a ruling, having tried his best to decide correctly, and is right (in his decision), he will have a double reward; and when he gives a ruling having tried his best to decide correctly, and is wrong (in his decision), he will have a single reward.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari: 7352]. Thus, any Mujtahid who reaches a wrong deduction is pardoned, and yet rewarded.
Obviously, the Ijtihād intended is the true Ijtihād and sincere Tajdīd which require ultimate approaches and appropriate qualifications. There is a key for every door, so whoever has the key can only reach the goal. Thus, Islamic History witnessed the attempts of scholars to adopt two approaches; a comprehensive renewal and a partial reasoning concerning contemporary issues. Consequently, there were many controversial issues and debates, but despite the differences, scholars agree upon the principles and milestones which preserve the essence and fundamentals of Islam and block all the means of manipulation. So, some indisputable conditions are set for Ijtihād in the Islamic sciences. Whereas Tajdīd in medical or architectural sciences is not permissible for the unspecialized, it is more restricted in the field of Islamic sciences which is the cornerstone of life and after-life for individuals, communities and the entire humanity.
In addition, the Ummah (Muslim nation) witnessed years of cultural decline due to the weakness of Tajdīd and Ijtihād. Many of those who adopted the way of Tajdīd and Ijtihād have tried to face this decline and revive the Ummah. Some of them succeeded, while others failed. Yet, the Ummah has been witnessing, since more than a century ago many sincere efforts to encourage Tajdīd in all domains. These efforts have been increasing day after day despite facing tough challenges.
Nevertheless, one of the most terrible threats facing Tajdīd is the insincere advocates who are apart from its true essence. Consequently, they uselessly spread Tajdīd among people. Their work only brings a weak approach and a corrupted outcome.
History witnessed many deviated approaches to the holy Quran by the presence of this group in the past and present. In the past deviating interpretations appeared in a partially approach. Nowadays, there is a call for a comprehensive way of Tajdīd; through amending all the adopted approaches and designing new ones for understanding the revelation, and for deducing doctrines and legislations, in the light of these incomplete, unclear and uncertified approaches. With the contributions of scholars such as, Al-Alusi, Al-Qasimī, Al-Shanqitī, Muhammad Abdu, Rashīd Reda, Ibn Bādis, Al-Taher ibn Ashour, Al-Maraghī, Muhammad Abdullah Draz and others, and the calls for highlighting the miracles of the Quran in the scientific, rhetoric, stylistic, thematic, social and cultural fields, a new approach appears called “the literary approach”. This approach aims to study and analyze the Quran as a “literary text” in the light of some unrecognized and incomplete western literary critical approaches, or to study the Quran as a social and humanitarian (historic) text which can be read and understood in the light of the modern theories of social and humanitarian sciences (sociology, politics, economics, psychology….etc.). These approaches reached their peak during the last third of the twentieth century.
In this context we can consider, the contributions of Muhammad Shahrour, and his approach to the Noble Quran and the Islamic fundamentals as well, a flagrant example for the non-systematic/ unscientific approach to the Noble Quran. Furthermore, he describes himself as “among the pioneer reformers (Mujadideen) after decades of decline, weakness and rigidness…who overturned the concepts and presented, for the first time in the modern age, the keys to understanding the revelation…, and who critically studied many fixed beliefs; especially Usul Al-Fiqh which was set during the first Hijri decades and has no sacredness, as the renewal of Fiqh cannot be achieved without criticizing those fundamentals”.
Who is Dr Muhammad Shahrour? What is his approach to the Noble Quran and its sciences? What are his assumptions, methodology and views?
1- Muhammad Shahrour’s Approach to the Quran and Its Sciences:
Muhammad Deeb Shahrour is one of the contemporary authors who were dedicated to the issue of renewing the contemporary religious discourse concerning the Holy Quran. Thus, he presented a set of views that sparked widespread controversy about his understanding of the Quranic Text and the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition) and their relevant exegetical, jurisprudential and linguistic heritage. In fact, his contribution in the field of the Holy Quran began in 1980 during his stay in Europe at the age of forty-two years old. In fact, he spent most of his life studying architecture, as he received his Ph.D in architecture at this age. His readings on religion and Arabic language at that time were not deep. Lately, he began studying the Arabic language by depending on the thesis of his friend Dr Ja’far dak ul-Bab which is entitled (The Structural Characteristics of the Arabic Language in the Light of the Modern Linguistic Studies) beside the contributions of Aḥmad b. Fāris, Abū ‘Alī al-Fārisī, Tha’lab and some opinions of Ibn Jinnī.
His life in Europe had a great influence on his jurisprudential and intellectual philosophy. In fact, he was influenced by western critical and philosophical approaches. He signaled that he used to join many debates with some groups such as the Marxists. Suffering from confusion after debates discussing religious affairs, he concluded that our religious culture does not provide us with the keys to answer many questions. Like many of those adopting the modern criticism of the heritage and calling for new approaches to the Quran and Sunnah, Shahrour was not interested in explaining his study of this heritage or showing the level of his knowledge concerning any subject he criticized, rejected or even accepted.
In addition, he was keen to hide his affiliation to any school of thought, old or modern. He only referred to the movement of the contemporary reflection on the Holy Quran and scattered few views of Abū ‘Alī Al-Fārisī. That’s why the style of his writings are influenced by Marxism and other western philosophies of natural sciences, especially Darwinian evolution. It is clear for the observer that Shahrour belongs to the movement of the “modernist reflection on the Holy Quran” headed by Amin Al-Khuli. Yet, Shahrour distinguished himself from this movement through two views:
A-Denying the Linguistic Synonymity (each word is unique):
Shahrour understood this Synonymity in a way that leads him to change many canonical Quranic and Islamic terms to coin new meanings, distinguishing himself from the old and contemporary scholars. He composed his own lexicon which cannot be generalized or used to reach other understandings of the Quranic Words.
B-The Mathematical and Formative Approach of the Exegesis (Tafsir) and Legislation:
He adopted this approach instead of the exegetical and jurisprudential rules in understanding the Divine Limits and Rulings, the rules of the permissible and the impermissible and of issuing verdicts and judgment. Aiming to connect with what he called contemporary and modernist values, his conclusions were totally strange to the old and modern Muslim mind.
Under the title of “Contemporary Islamic studies”, he published many books between 1990 and 2016. Furthermore, he edited and republished some of those writings, so they hold different titles.
Second, His Assumptions
In general, the movement adopting the way of contemporary reflection, like Shahrour, mainly depends on the idea of linear chronological progress calling for:
- The invalidity of the traditional approaches to the Holy Quran and introducing Islam.
- The application of the modern approaches (in literature, hermeneutics and natural sciences) to understand the religion and its sciences instead of the out-of-date approaches (!).
- And finally the importance of harmonizing between the religious teachings and the contemporary materialistic and moral outputs in all humanitarian domains.
For the advocates of this movement, those previous statements are deemed as maxims. Thus, Shahrour, and other intellectuals, did not thoroughly study the traditional approaches to prove their invalidity in the modern age. They did not check the validity and efficiency of the modern approaches as well. In addition, they have no interest in presenting an inductive critical vision of western values and their philosophy which they called “contemporary values”.
As previously mentioned, whereas his reflection almost has a distinctive style, he dedicated a book to introduce his principal assumptions. This book entitled Guideline on the Contemporary Reflection on the Quran: Methodology and Terminology (in Arabic) states that:
1-The Verses of the Wise Divine Revelation are a religious text and not a piece of scientific evidence. Thus, it is a persuasive argument for the believers only. In fact, the followers of the Muhammadan message, who believe that the revelation is truly from Allah, should prove the authenticity of those Verses through scientific and rational evidence. It is their primary mission, yet it is an inevitable mission assigned to all humanity. Allah Almighty says:
“فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لا يَعْلَمُونَ”
“So set your face upright towards the religion, turning away from all that is false; (this religion is) the original disposition from Allah upon which He originated mankind. There cannot be any change in Allah’s creation; this is the upright religion, but most of mankind does not know.”(30:30)
2-The scientific, legislative and social history, is entitled to determine the authenticity of the Wise Divine Revelation. We do not have to prove this authenticity only through a saying from a Prophet’s Companions (Saḥābah), Successors (Tābiʻūn) or a Fiqh scholar. Whosoever thoroughly and systematically reads the revelation can prove it.
3-The materialistic existence and its laws are the Words of Allah. In fact, physics, chemistry, geology, biology, astronomy and other sciences are the alphabets of those Words, while Digital and Equations are the mechanisms of those sciences. Such existence is self-sufficient, and does not need any outside elements to be understood. It is neutral and just. Allah Almighty says:“وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقاً وَعَدْلاً” “Thus the Word of your Lord has been completed, in truth and justice.”(6: 115)
4-Since the Wise Divine Revelation is the Speech of Allah, it is inevitably self-sufficient. Like existence, it does not need anything from outside to be understood. This is because we believe that the Creator of this universe is the Sender of this Wise Divine Revelation; Allah Almighty. Hence, the keys to understand the Wise Divine Revelation are not external, but internal (scripture elucidation). Our mission is to search for them.
5-The original ruling on life is permissibility. Allah Almighty alone determines the impermissible. Yet, Allah Almighty commands and forbids, and so did the Prophet. People also can command and forbid. But there is a big difference between prohibition (Taḥreem) and forbiddance (Nahy). Obviously, prohibitions are gathered in the Quran, as they are only fourteen (14). Thus, the verdicts prohibiting other matters are null and invalid. All legislators, except Allah Almighty, starting from the messengers till the legislating institutions are just entitled to command and forbid; as Allah Almighty saysوما أتاكم الرسول فخذوه وما نهاكم عنه فانتهوا”:”
“…And whatever the Messenger brings you—accept it, and whatever he forbids you—abstain from it….”(59: 7).
This is because commanding and forbidding are changeable while the prohibition is everlasting. Thus, the Messenger does not prohibit or permit, he only commands and forbids. In fact, his forbiddance is changeable and can be abrogated because it is humanitarian and not a revelation, and it represents a civil law issued from a superior leader to his society.… In addition, the command to obey him is specified for his contemporaries only.
6-Regarding his prophecy, Muhammad is a fallible Prophet, as Allah Almighty says: “لقد تاب على النبي والمهاجرين والأنصار”
“Allah has very truly granted repentance to the Prophet and the Emigrants and the Supporters… “(9:117).
And as a messenger, he is infallible, as Allah Almighty says:
” يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ”
“O Messenger, proclaim what was sent down to you from your Lord; but if you do not, then you will not have proclaimed His message, for Allah safeguards you from mankind..” (5: 67).
Therefore, Sunnah is divided into two categories: apostolic and prophetic. In fact, the fourteen Divine prohibitions are mentioned in the apostolic Sunnah, as the mission of the messenger was to only convey the Divine Rulings. On the other hand, the second category is the result of his independent reasoning as a prophet and superior leader. Thus, the command to obey him as a proclaimer messenger and a legislating prophet is obligatory in the scope of apostolic Sunnah. In fact, obedience is for the law, not the power. Regarding the apostolic Sunnah, the command to obey him, by following the Divine Legislations, is continuous; extending from his contemporaries to the upcoming generations. Regarding the prophetic Sunnah, the command to obey him is restricted to his contemporaries only.
7-To embrace Islam, one should truly believe in Allah and the Judgment Day….beside doing good deeds. Every person who truly believes in Allah and the Judgment Day and does good deeds is a Muslim regardless of his religious sect. The Wise Revelation names the followers of Muhammad’s religion as “believers” because, besides their belief in Allah and the Judgment Day, they follow the footstep of the Prophet Muhammad in performing the rituals. In fact, the difference between sects is due to their difference in performing their decreed rituals. Any deed performed only by the followers of the Prophet Muhammad reflects their belief in his prophecy such as the performance of the five obligatory prayers, fasting during the month of Ramadan, giving Zakāh and praying funerals. These rituals are among the pillars of faith not the pillars of Islam, and any innovation in them is not accepted.
8- Language is the mechanism of thinking and the way of transmitting the thoughts of the speaker to the addressee. Through communication, the speaker does not intend to deliver the exact meanings of each word separately. Thus, lexical knowledge is not enough to understand any linguistic text. So what about reflecting on the Wise Divine Revelation? In fact, meanings are found within the context and cannot be reached by reflecting on the words out-of-context. For example, the sentence: (The boy definitely ate a red apple) implicitly conveys that apples come in different colors. The Saying of Allah Almighty: “وَالإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَق” …“..and sin and aggression without justification..” (7:33) implicitly conveys that there is a justified sin and aggression, even if the Verse does not explicitly convey this message. In fact, these are called issues which are left undiscussed (Al-Maskout ‘Anhu).
9-Language is the dress of thoughts. Their development is directly proportional. There is a strong bond between language and the human thinking process and even his subconscious. While sleeping, we witness the language of dreams. In fact, the Wise Revelation has the highest level of eloquence which cannot be challenged or achieved. Its eloquence is found in its way of delivering the intended meaning to the audience. It is the only book to achieve perfect harmony with no boring prolongation or vague brevity.
10-Accordingly, the Wise Revelation was sent to develop the Arabic language, by totally abrogating synonymity. In addition, it turned the Arabic language to the level of a complete abstractionism in order to be adaptable to the biggest discoveries. For him, the Preserved Tablet (Al-Lawḥ Al-Maḥfoudh) is not the Clear Record (Al-Imām Al-Mubin), the Scripture (Al-Kitāb) is not the Quran. In addition, the singular form of the Arabic word مِثل (mithl) is different than the dual form مِثلا (mithlā) in the Verse:”للذكر مثل حظّ الأنثيين” “the male is the equivalent of the share of two females” (4:11) For him, The first means that the share of a male is equal to that of two women, while the second means that the share of a male is equal to twice that of two women. Thus, the assumption of the presence of synonymity in the Quran asserts that the Quran is sent as a piece of art like poetry which is normally full of synonymity, fictional tales and imagination. Thus, who claims that the Arabic word camel (Naqah) has fifty (50) synonyms reflects the stage of the primitivity of the language which was before the final abstractionism in the Arabic Language presented by the Wise Revelation. Thus, we do not follow this claim because the Wise Revelation goes beyond it. In addition, the concept of synonymity during the pre-Islamic stage refers to the existence of two words or more expressing the same meaning. This has been abrogated through the Wise Revelation to avoid terminology misinterpretation. But like any language, it is normal to have a word with two or several meanings, as this indicates the development of the language. For example, the Arabic noun نِسَاء (Nisā’) has several meanings. It is the plural form of نَسيء (Nasi’), which means to postpone, and the plural form of امرأة (Imra’ah), which means woman. Similarly, the Arabic noun عَبْد (‘Abd) conveys two opposite meanings; obedience and rebellion. The Arabic noun Amr (أَمْر) also has five (5) meanings. Thus, the intended meaning of each noun is determined according to the context.
11-The Wise Revelation is highly accurate in its composition and meanings. Its accuracy is not less than that of chemistry, physics, medicine and mathematics. This is rational, as we believe that the Creator of this universe, starting from the smallest atom till the largest galaxy, and the Creator of human is the Sender of the Revelation which ultimately portrays accuracy and unity. In fact, each letter and each word has a decreed role. On the other hand, the accuracy level in understanding the wise Revelation nowadays is much higher compared to that reached by the earlier generation, like the universe which is always fixed, but the level of accuracy in studying it nowadays is much higher than before.
12-While interpreting the Verses, we have to hold on the linguistic thread which connect between the form and the context. If the connection between the structure and significance is broken, infinite interpretations will be generated. Our contemporary reflection believe that establishing the pillars of composition and theorization is recent. Applying the theory of Sibawayh, stating that the verb should follow the subject in all its forms (singular, dual, plural), to the Saying of Allah Almighty: “…هَذَانِ خَصْمَانِ اخْتَصَمُوا” “Here are two adversaries who have disputed…” (22:19), can we assume that the Divine Statement is grammatically incorrect according to Sibawayh (*by using the plural verb “اخْتَصَمُوا” with the dual subject “خَصْمَانِ”)?! No, we should assume that Sibawayh did not set his rules depending on what should be set. This is the reason behind the controversies among grammarians concerning many issues….Whosoever reflects on the rules of Arabic grammar and morphology (Naḥw and Ṣarf) will find that they depend on the texts. Thus, the validity of a rule is determined according to the Arabs language. In fact, the text is superior over the rule especially when it is related to the Wise Revelation.
Obviously, Shahrour’s assumptions lead to erroneous conclusions at the top of which are:
1-Negating the existence of any fixed beliefs, such as the major doctrines about Allah, His Messengers, His Scriptures and the Judgment Day besides the indisputably established facts of Islam such as the obligatory prayers, leads to stand on shifting sand, and to live on a state of liquidity.
2-These assumptions are trivial, apart from the essence of the Quran and the understanding of the Divine Legislation. In addition, Shahrour absolutely denies the Sunnah, the second source of Revelation, as he doubted its narrators.
3-Furthermore, Shahrour mainly depended on the variables and indefinite presumptives. This is completely compatible with the modern sciences which have not yet reached the level of consensus and certainty despite its beneficence. Consequently, religion and its fundamentals are interpreted according to one’s whim.
4-His proposal is considered to be an intellectual recklessness under the mask of renewal and Ijtihād. This arouses counterarguments aiming to protect religion.
Third, His Methodology:
As previously mentioned, Shahrour called for the rejection of the traditional approaches to the Holy Quran and its sciences. His goal is to deepen our Quranic understanding in the light of contemporary reflection. Since this is the side of destruction in his project, the side of construction has a special methodology which is based on the modern linguistics and epistemology as follows:
1-Linguistic text can only be understood rationaly.
2-Language is the pot of human thought. This human thought is fallible. This means that the rational connection and the linguistic correctness in the text do not always indicate that it is true. The beauty and strength of the syntactical structure do not also indicate its authenticity. Hence, it is not correct to prove the imitability of the Quran only by claiming that it has different rhetoric styles and tools. Yet, we should, in addition to this, believe that the Quran is authentic and true and that its legislation is applicable and universal.
3-Besides its authenticity; truthfulness and compatibility with reality, natural rules and human nature, the Wise Revelation does not contain any futility or unimportant stories. Every tiny word in the Quran adds a meaning that maybe can’t be understood at the first sight.
4-Understanding the Wise Revelation through pre-Islamic poetry is invalid. This is because the pre-Islamic society had a different cognitive background a social, aesthetic and moral relationships which are reflected through the language used in its poetic heritage… If we limit our understanding of the Quran to the meaning of its vocabulary, we could not assume that modern scientific discoveries prove the authenticity of the Quran. Obviously, societies participate in coining the meanings through the development of their knowledge. Despite its evolution, this development keeps its harmony with the Divine Text; proving its authenticity.
5-The Wise Revelation is self-sufficient. This can be proved through the constancy of the text which means the fixed form of its spoken language (beyond the becoming and process). In fact, no one can comprehensively reach its major and minor issues even if he is a prophet or a messenger. If so, he will be a partner with Allah in His eternal Knowledge Highly Exalted is Allah far above what they describe. Yet, we can gradually reach it through the revolving relative cognitive becoming. We will comprehensively reach the complete and ultimate Quranic interpretation at the Day of Judgment after witnessing the resurrection and the accounting.
6-The Quran is the indirect Divine Speech (Kalām) sent to the Prophet via Gabriel. Some of its Verses represent His direct Speech such as His speech with Moses in the sacred valley: ” “وكلم الله موسى تكليماً.“…And Allah spoke to Moses with (direct) speech.” (4:164). On the Other hand, existence and its regulating rules; cosmic and humanitarian are Allah’s Words. Through understanding Allah’s Words, we understand His Speech, because the authenticity of Allah’s Speech (Divine Messages) appears only through His own Words. So to understand his Speech, we need to study His Words in the cosmic and humanitarian existence with its laws, rules and legislations. Yet, our understanding of these laws and rules is changeable. Therefore, our understanding of Divine Speech is progressive, while Divine Speech is fixed, as it is a sacred text.
7-The Wise Revelation is Guidance for all mankind and Mercy for all realms. It is universal, as it is sent for all humans, not Arabs only, and it is applicable worldwide and not restricted to Arabic societies only. It is also suitable for all eras, not the era of the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions only. Finally, the Wise Revelation has the following two characteristics: (1) Revelation does not contradict reason, and (2) Revelation does not contradict reality.
8- Quran emphasizes materialism which is represented through the principle: (human) knowledge depends on the known, and the information comes from external sources gathered through human senses, revelation (inspiration), etc.. On the other hand, the Divine Knowledge is omniscience. In fact, intellectual abstractionism, which is a blessing from Allah to mankind, is represented through language and the absolute mathematics which precedes physics. This proves that Allah Almighty created everything ex nihilo. This means that the existence of the signifier preceded the signified, and absolute mathematics emphasizes this matter.
9-Humanitarian knowledge depends on two principles: “Identification”, which means to differentiate things from each other, and then “classification” which means to gather them in one model. The heart is the sensory perception and the instinctive human reaction, which provides man with the raw source of thought and reason.
10-The principle of quantity and quality is, for human, the window to the external world. He can start learning about quality then quantity or vice versa.
11-The elements of human knowledge, in the objective world, are matter, dimension, location and movement. These four elements produce the function and development.
12-According to the Wise Revelation, the objective world depends on a principal argument which is the conflict between survival and extinction, in which extinction is always victorious. From this argument, we deduce other arguments in relation to nature, as follows:
A-the intra-contradiction dialectic, as in: “مُّخَلَّقَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ” “…(partly) differentiated and (partly) undifferentiated…” (22: 5),
B-the pair dialectic, which means the exchanging cause and effect, as in:
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْأَزْوَاجَ كُلَّهَا…”“Highly Exalted is He Who created all pairs…” (36: 36).
C-the opposite dialectic (in phenomena or conducts): night and day- immorality and righteousness- guidance and deviation.
13-Freedom is the pillar of human life and the sacred supreme value. It is the essence of servitude to Allah.
Accordingly, Shahrour’s approach arises many dilemmas at the top of which are:
-Depending on weak and unsupported linguistic hypotheses which cannot be described as theories or methodological points. They are scattered phenomenas through which alone no comprehensive and enlightened understanding can be reached. Thus, differentiating between some Quranic terms with no supporting evidence, like his differentiation between the Quran, Scripture (Al-Kitab), Reminder (Adh-Dhikr) and Criterion (Al- Furqan), is just a claim. Most dangerously, there is no reliable method for proving the new significance of the words.
-Depending on reality to evaluate the exegesis. Yet, what is reality?
-Depending on contemporary values to evaluate the exegesis. Yet, what are contemporary values? Who is the determiner of those values and what is his methodology, vision, doctrine or philosophy?
-Depending on rational laws (logic) to evaluate the exegesis. Yet, on which type shall we depend (nominal – abstract – demonstrative)? Is it objective, materialistic or practical logic? On which standard shall we depend to choose among them?
-Depending only on reports and facts of the contemporary natural and biological sciences to evaluate the exegesis: To what extent we are certain about those scientific theories? We see the theory of relativity, the theory of evolution and the big bang which were dominant for one or two centuries, but nowadays they are facing a severe attack? Who is qualified to thoroughly study those sciences to teach us the meaning of the Saying of Allah Almighty:”لِلَّهِ مُلْكُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَمَا فِيهِنَّ” “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever lies in them…” (5: 120)
“…وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَٰكِن لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُم…”or
“…and there is not a thing that does not exalt Him with praise, but you do not comprehend their exaltation…” (17: 44)?
Who is qualified while the majority does not care about faith and the Muslims among them are not well-acquainted with the Quran and its sciences which help in reaching a profound understanding?
-Studying social and humanitarian sciences to evaluate the exegeses of the Verses of legislation and rulings. In fact, this is a broad claim that the specialists, in both the Arab and Muslim worlds, did not announce although their abundance and expertise. In fact, doubting the traditional does not depend on systematic knowledge, information or criticism. Yet, it depends on assumptions which avail nothing against the truth.
Those general points, regardless of the methodology, deduced from Shahrour’s writings, assert that his thought twists religious thinking, by changing the definite and confirming the variable. For him, reality is the key to understanding revelation and not vice versa! He also depended on uncertain humanitarian theories to evaluate the traditional rules whose application did not cause obvious problems, yet its negligence caused many inflictions. In addition, this method is insufficient, as it depends on broad strategies with no specific applicable and testable tools. This guides us to a systematic gap which paves the way for unrestricted hermeneutics and creates an atmosphere of limitless radicalism.
Fourth: Examples of His Views
It’s important now to present further views to help the reader fully understand his thoughts:
A-Tackling the issues of doctrines and the Divine essence, he reached critical conclusions. Speaking about the status of the universe before existence, he said: (One might ask: “What preceded this existent universe? Is it nihility.. or Allah?” I can answer: “both of them”. He might ask again: “This is a duality, isn’t it?” I assume that it is a theological duality, yet it is an ontological monist. We should define nihility through our realization because nihility has no essence or being. If being in itself is Allah, nihility is the pre-Knowledge of Allah.).
B-We should know that people become more aware of the concepts of monotheism and anti-anthropomorphism compared to the previous eras and even the prophetic era. This is because abstractionism progresses with humanity development towards the path of Al-Ḥanyffiyah (change and development). This means that humanity is walking away from the trap of anthropomorphism which leads to unforgivable polytheism. Yet, there is always a risk of being trapped in constancy by setting an ultimate fixed system of customs, legislation or jurisprudence. In fact, this is a hidden polytheism which attributes the traits of constancy and eternity to phenomena although they are pure Divine Traits. This is very critical.
C-Quran does not include abrogating and abrogated Verses, as each Verse builds its own world and each rule revolves in a specific field. In fact, the Saying of Allah Almighty:”مَا نَنسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِّنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا” “Never do We abrogate any sign nor cause it to be forgotten unless We bring one better than it or similar to it…” (2:106), refers to the inter-revelatory abrogation. For example, some prohibitions in Moses’s legislation were allowed later during the era of Jesus, as Allah Almighty says: “وَلِأُحِلَّ لَكُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي حُرِّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ” “….and to make lawful to you some of what was prohibited for you….”(3:50). Later, Muhammad’s message abrogated some rulings of Moses’s, such as the rulings of adultery and sodomy (liwāṭ), and added new rulings such as the rulings of lesbianism (Siḥāq), bequest and inheritance.
D-Sunnah, which includes the utterances, actions and approvals of the Prophet (ﷺ), is not a revelation. Depending on the Saying of Allah Almighty: “وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنْ الْهَوَى، إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى ” “nor does he speak out of whim. It is but a revelation being revealed.” (53: 3-4), to prove the opposite is wrong. In addition, the opinion of some exegetists that the Prophet speaks only out of revelation is just an illusion that cannot stand as supporting evidence. All Prophetic Sayings have only one role which is confirmation. This is because Sunnah includes rulings, and rulings are variable according to time and place so the scholars of Usul agreed upon. The only standard to decide whether to follow or abandon those rulings is their conformity with the Wise Revelation and real life. In fact, Sunnah is the first attempt in the field of Ijtihād and the Prophetic application to materialize the absolute revealed thought. Yet, it is not the last and the only attempt, but it is the first islamization of real life. In fact, Sunnah is the first authentic reflection of the interaction between the Wise Revelation and its contemporary objective world with all its real dimensions with no illusion or imagination.
E-The uprightness and consensus of the Prophet’s Companions are significant for them and their contemporary society. For us, we count on the contemporary scholarly consensus reached through official councils. In fact, alive scholars, who agreed upon a significant issue witnessed during their historical stage, are more capable to understand their problems and to find the suitable cure, without relying on Companions, Successors or previous prominent scholars… Most importantly, any legislation, even the religious one, requires scientific, statistical, social, economic and political data according to the field and objective of the legislation. This is because legislation controls people’s freedom; the most sacred feature of our existence.
F-Nowadays, contemporaries are more knowledgeable of the Quran than the Companions, as the Quran can be only interpreted through modern knowledge. This claim negates any significance of the transmitted narrations of Companions, Successors and prominent scholars, and invalidates their contributions, as if they never exist. In this regard, he added: “There is a difference between Companions living in Makkah and Medinah and the nomadic Arabs in understanding the limits of what Allah has sent down, because the Companions are more civilized than the latter. Similarly, there is a difference between us and the Companions due to the long span of time which is much bigger than the first one. Therefore, we are qualified to understand the limits of what Allah has sent down upon His Messenger more than the contemporaries of the seventh Georgian century. Meanwhile, Muslims have been criticized for “their ignorance of the humanitarian philosophies and their abstain from presenting any creative effective contributions in their scope. In fact, we could not set all human thoughts, starting from the Greeks till nowadays, within the scope of incorrectness or invalidity.”
G-Claiming that our scholars failed to understand the fundamentals of Islam in general and the concept of Sunnah in particular, Shahrour said: “The dilemma of the Islamic literature and Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) is that they failed to deal with the feature which is beneficial in convincing non-Muslims and Muslims that the Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah to all mankind, and that He was sent as a mercy to all realms, and that this messengerhood is universal; valid for all times and places. Ignoring this feature causes the rigidity of the Islamic legislation and hinders us from understanding the pillars of the Shariah and the pure essence of Sunnah. In fact, the concept of Sunnah is also connected with this feature which helps in setting a contemporary flexible concept for the Islamic legislation and the Sunnah and, as a result, setting new pillars for Islamic legislation.
H-Shariah can be only understood in the light of the Dialectical Theory. This specialty is expressed through two principal distinctive Islamic traits which are contradictory. In fact, the dialectical movement between those two contradictory traits has resulted from the internal divergence inside human life domains such as knowledge, sociology and economics. Those two conflicting traits are Istiqamah (straightness) and Al-Ḥanyffiyah (dynamism) which represent the dialectic side of the legislation and as a result its development. Without them, it is impossible to contemporarily understand Islam and truly believe that it is a timeless universal religion…Obviously, the steadiness, strength and superiority of religion resulted from these two traits together (straightness and dynamism), as they are mentioned in the Quran together. Allah Almighty says
قُلْ إِنَّنِي هَدَانِي رَبِّي إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ دِينًا قِيَمًا مِّلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ”
“Say [O Prophet], “Indeed, my Lord has guided me to a straight path, an upright religion, the faith of Abraham, inclining to true faith, and he was not one of those who associate partners with Allah.” (6:161)
One may wonder: “How can the strength of Islam lie on these two conflicting traits? The response is that those two conflicting traits produce hundreds of millions of comprehensive and universal possible choices in the field of legislation and common human behavior, so they cover every single domain in human life everywhere and in all time.
I-Similarly, Shariah cannot be understood except in the light of mathematics. If someone asks: if Al-Ḥanyffiyah (dynamism) is embedded in the nature of existence, what is the straight path (invariants)? To understand this, we should depend on mathematics especially the so-called continuous functions or Newton’s function notation presenting the concept of mathematical analysis. In fact, mathematical analysis is a science which connects a function to one or two variables or more. This connection between the continuous functions takes many forms which can be summed up as follows:
1- Curve Function “Ḥanyf” with a maximum value and a distinctive endpoint among the rest points of the curve.
2-Curve Function “Ḥanyf” with a minimum value only.
3-Curve Function “Ḥanyf” with both maximum and minimum values such as the wave functions. This curve has two distinctive points which are the maximum and minimum points. The first derivative is equal to zero at both ends and the point of inflection, which is the change of slope from maximum to minimum and vice versa; the balance point between the minimum and maximum, in which the second derivative is equal to zero.
4-Straight Function parallel to the X-axis with no maximum or minimum end. Each point is maximum and minimum at the same time.
5-Curve Function with a maxima and minima but asymptotically which means that the curve approaches the straight line and touches it only at infinity.
6-A curve with a positive maximum limit and negative minimum limit.
These functions describe natural phenomena. Regarding the curve functions, their maximum and minimum values have a parallel straight line with a distinctive feature. By reaching the maximum value, it cannot be exceeded. By reaching the minimum value, going below is not possible also. The limits should be maintained if there are two values; maximum and minimum. It reaches it at the infinite with the asymptote and it cannot go below it if the line is straight.
Similarly, Islamic legislation has the same features; curviness and straightness together. This means that it is valid for every place and time; movable within the scope of the limits. This can only be achieved if the Islamic legislation and behavior are built on the concept of limits; straight ends in which the Al-Ḥanyffiyah can be achieved. In fact, Allah Almighty granted us limits only in Um Al-Kitab which are the straight guidelines to Al-Ḥanyffiyah. Allah Almighty calls them the Divine Limits which along with the Criterion (Al-Furqan) form the straight path. I believe that we adopt a worshipping path within these straight limits.
Allah Almighty has granted us all the cases: (1) minimum and maximum limit separately and collectively, (2) straightness (a fixed maximum and minimum limit), (3) asymptote; a line approaches the end (the straight) and is only tangent to it at infinity, and (4) positive maximum limit and negative minimum limit. Thus, we can, now, understand the Verses of the Divine Limits which are the core of the legislation, ethics and worshipping acts. However, there is another distinctive branch in the messengership which is the teachings. Thus, Muhammad’s message consists of the straight path (Limits set in legislation, worshipping acts and ethics (the Criterion) and other teachings which have nothing to do with legislation, worshipping acts or ethics.
Through applying his theory to the Islamic legislation, Shahrour reached many dangerous results among which are:
1-The lower limit:
The lower limit is mentioned in the Verse stating the persons prohibited from intermarriage, as Allah Almighty says:
“And do not marry women whom your fathers had married, except what has already passed. Indeed, that has been an obscenity and loathsome and an evil way. Prohibited for you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters and your (foster) mothers who nursed you and your sisters through nursing and your wives’ mothers and your stepdaughters who are in your guardianship—born of wives with whom you have consummated marriage, but if you have not consummated marriage with them, then no sin is committed by you—and the lawful consorts of your begotten sons and to combine two sisters (in marriage, simultaneously), except what has already passed. Indeed, Allah has always been Oft-Forgiving, Bestowing of mercy.”(4:22-23).
وَلَا تَنكِحُوا مَا نَكَحَ آبَاؤُكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَمَقْتًا وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا • حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُم مِّن نِّسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
Shahrour concluded that Allah Almighty set, through these two Verses the lower limit of prohibition to men on marrying their female relatives. In fact, this prohibition is absolute, as no one is allowed to reduce this limit through independent reasoning. Nevertheless, it is allowed to expand this limit by addition. For example, if medical studies prove that consanguineous marriage, like full cousins marriage, may cause negative impacts on the offspring and inheritance distribution, it is possible to issue a legislation to prohibit this kind of marriage without transgressing the Divine Limits.
2-The Upper limit (Theory of penalties in case of theft and murder):
Commenting on the Verse: “وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُوا أَيْدِيَهُمَا جَزَاءً بِمَا كَسَبَا نَكَالًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ”
“And the male thief and the female thief: cut their hands as a repayment for what they have earned—a deterrent from Allah, for Allah is Almighty, All Wise.”(5: 38),
Shahrour concluded that this Verse shows that the punishment of arm amputation is the upper limit for the thieves. This indicates that it is impermissible to exceed this punishment. Yet, it is possible to mitigate it. Thus, mujtahids can determine, according to the objective conditions, the theft that can call for this maximum punishment, and other that do not call for such punishment, and the punishment of each type of theft.
Similarly, Allah Almighty says:”ولا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إلّا بِالحَقِّ ومَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطانًا فَلا يُسْرِفْ في القَتْلِ إنَّهُ كانَ مَنصُورًا”
“And do not kill the self which Allah has made inviolable, except in the course of justice. And if someone is killed unjustly, We have given authority to his kinsman who seeks retribution, but he should not be excessive in killing; indeed, he is bound to be aided.” (17: 33).
He Almighty also says:
“يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِصَاصُ فِي الْقَتْلَى ۖ الْحُرُّ بِالْحُرِّ وَالْعَبْدُ بِالْعَبْدِ وَالْأُنثَىٰ بِالْأُنثَىٰ ۚ فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَأَدَاءٌ إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ تَخْفِيفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۗ فَمَنِ اعْتَدَىٰ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَهُ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ”
“O you who have attained faith, fair retribution for the murdered has been prescribed upon you: the free for the free, and the bondman for the bondman, and the female for the female. Yet whoever is somewhat pardoned by his brother (in faith), then this shall be adhered to in accordance with what is fair, and the payment back to him should be in a good way. That is lightening from your Lord and mercy. But whoever transgresses after that—then for him is a painful punishment.” (2:178)
Through these Verses, Allah Almighty articulates the maximum punishment for unjust murder which is the death penalty. Thus, He Almighty says: “but he should not be excessive in killing” (17:33) indicating that it is impermissible to set a maximum punishment for the murderer, who commit an unjust homicide, by killing him and his family members. In this regard, Mujtahids should define murders calling for the maximum punishment, which is malice aforethought. On the other hand, there are other murders that do not call for death penalty such as manslaughter and killing in self-defense…etc. In addition, the family of the murdered also may forgive the murderer, as in; فمن عفي له من أخيه شيء فاتباع بالمعروف وأداء اليه بإحسان”“….Yet whoever is somewhat pardoned by his brother (in faith), then this shall be adhered to in accordance with what is fair, and the payment back to him should be in a good way…”(2: 178). This emphasizes that Islam opens the gates of Ijtihād in the theory of penalties in case of murders till the Day of Recompense. Concerning the accidental murder, Islam sets the lower limit of this punishment through:
“وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ أَن يَقْتُلَ مُؤْمِنًا إِلَّا خَطَأً ۚ وَمَن قَتَلَ مُؤْمِنًا خَطَأً فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مُّؤْمِنَةٍ وَدِيَةٌ مُّسَلَّمَةٌ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ إِلَّا أَن يَصَّدَّقُوا ۚ فَإِن كَانَ مِن قَوْمٍ عَدُوٍّ لَّكُمْ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مُّؤْمِنَةٍ ۖ وَإِن كَانَ مِن قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُم مِّيثَاقٌ فَدِيَةٌ مُّسَلَّمَةٌ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ وَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مُّؤْمِنَةٍ ۖ فَمَن لَّمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ شَهْرَيْنِ مُتَتَابِعَيْنِ تَوْبَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا”
“But never should a believer kill another believer, unless accidentally. Yet anyone who accidentally kills a believer, then the (atonement is the) emancipation of a believing slave and a compensation submitted to his family, unless they donate (it). But if he was from a people who are an enemy to you, yet he is a believer, then the emancipation of a believing slave. And if he was from a people between you and whom there is a pledge, then a compensation submitted to his family and the emancipation of a believing slave. And (for) anyone who lacks the means—then the fasting of two consecutive months as a repentance to Allah. And Allah has always been All-Knowing, All Wise.” (4:92)
Here, the lower limit is set in: “…anyone who lacks the means—then the fasting of two consecutive months…” In fact, the emancipation of a slave is set as the lower limit, because it is possible to set a ruling that requires the emancipation of more than one believing slave.
3-The Lower and Upper Limits together
Allah Almighty says:
Allah enjoins you regarding your children: for the male is the equivalent of the share of two females. But if they are women above two, they get two-thirds of what he has left; and if she be one, then to her is the half. And for his parents—each gets one-sixth of what he has left if he has children. Yet if he has no children and his parents inherit (solely) from him, then his mother gets one-third. But if he has siblings, then his mother gets one-sixth, after (fulfilling) any bequest he may bequeath and (paying off) any debt. Your parents and your children—you do not know which are more beneficial to you. (This is) an ordinance from Allah. Indeed, Allah has always been All-Knowing All-Wise. And you get one-half of what your spouses have left if they have no children. Yet if they have children, then you get one-fourth of what they have left, after (fulfilling) any bequest they may bequeath and (paying off) any debt. And they get one-fourth of what you have left if you have no children. Yet if you have children, then they get one-eighth of what you have left, after (fulfilling) any bequest you may bequeath and (paying off) any debt. And if a man or a woman is to be inherited by a non-lineal heir while having a brother or sister, then each of them gets one-sixth. But if they are more than that, then they share one-third, after (fulfilling) any bequest that may be bequeathed and (paying off) any debt, without any harm (to anyone). (This is) an injunction from Allah, for Allah is All-Knowing, Clement. These are the limits of Allah. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger—He enter him into Gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein, and that is the great triumph. But whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and oversteps His limits—He enters him into a fire wherein he abides, and for him is a demeaning punishment.” (4: 11-14)
“يُوصِيكُمُ اللَّهُ فِي أَوْلَادِكُمْ ۖ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ ۚ فَإِن كُنَّ نِسَاءً فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَكَ ۖ وَإِن كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْفُ ۚ وَلِأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِن كَانَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُ وَلَدٌ وَوَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ فَلِأُمِّهِ الثُّلُثُ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلِأُمِّهِ السُّدُسُ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِي بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۗ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ لَا تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعًا ۚ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا • وَلَكُمْ نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ أَزْوَاجُكُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُنَّ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُنَّ وَلَدٌ فَلَكُمُ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْنَ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِينَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۚ وَلَهُنَّ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّكُمْ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَكُمْ وَلَدٌ فَلَهُنَّ الثُّمُنُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُم ۚ مِّن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوصُونَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۗ وَإِن كَانَ رَجُلٌ يُورَثُ كَلَالَةً أَوِ امْرَأَةٌ وَلَهُ أَخٌ أَوْ أُخْتٌ فَلِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ ۚ فَإِن كَانُوا أَكْثَرَ مِن ذَٰلِكَ فَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ فِي الثُّلُثِ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصَىٰ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ غَيْرَ مُضَارٍّ ۚ وَصِيَّةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌ • تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ يُدْخِلْهُ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ • وَمَن يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَهُ يُدْخِلْهُ نَارًا خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَلَهُ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ”
In this regard, Shahrour highlighted the two Divine Phrases: “These are the limits of Allah” and “and oversteps His limits”. Here, moving between the limits of Allah is allowed since the plural form of “limits” indicates the presence of more than two limits. Thus, the act of overstepping intended here is the act of surpassing this limit. Overstepping does not mean that any flexible application is restricted. In addition, in “and oversteps His limits” the pronoun “His” is attributed to Allah Almighty alone, although Allah and His Messenger are mentioned before this phrase in: “But whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and oversteps His limits…”. In this regard, Shahrour concluded that the only One who is entitled to set eternal legislating limits is Allah Almighty and this right is not given to the Prophet, as if Allah Almighty granted him this right He Almighty would say: “and oversteps their limits”. In conclusion, all the Prophetic penalty legislations are temporary.
Furthermore, the limits mentioned in the Verse of inheritance include the upper limit for the male and the lower limit for the female. Accordingly, despite of the difference in the economic burdens distributed among the household, men should carry the main responsibility, while women are discharged. This means that men carry all the financial burden, while women carry none, that’s why men’s share is twice as much as that of a woman. As divinely prescribed, the lower limit for a woman is 33,3% and the upper limit for a man is 66,6%. If we give the man 75% and the woman 25%, we will transgress the Divine Limits prescribed. On the other hand, when allocating 60% for men and 40% for women, then there is no transgression. So, Ijtihād should consider the current historical situation approximating the two shares. This approximation, and even the egalitarian distribution, is valid for some specific inheritance cases or general changing historical situations or both of them. In fact, this approximation requires clear statistical data apart from any emotional bias.
Fifth: What is the influence of Shahrour’s thoughts?
1-Shahrour’s approach to the Quranic words meaning leads people to deviated creeds. For example, if someone argues that the Verses of Inheritance are not included in the Quran, he is right according to Shahrour, and a disbeliever according to all scholars. Similarly, Verses of marriage, divorce and rituals, for him, are included in the foundation of the Scripture “Um Al-Kitab” and are regarded as explicit Verses. They are not equivocal like those discussing the cosmic laws.
2-Adopting the approach of modifying the traditional settled terms, by using a deviated interpretation and twisted meanings, is among the most dangerous threats facing the Ummah. Saying that regulation is a restraint, stability is rigidity and decline, security curtails freedoms and promotes indifference, decency is retrogression, shameless is modernity, authority and management is naturally accompanied by dominance, guardianship encourages gender discrimination, and livelihood and individual profit growth selfishness and greed…etc… all these deviated concepts seem to be trivial but actually, they turn societies upside down.
3-This promotes great scepticism among Muslims, yet all mankind, on account of the effect of misunderstanding the concepts of faith (Imān) and submission (Islam). In fact, such misunderstanding is universally rejected even by the enemies of Islam, because it leads to ambiguity depending on no justification or supporting evidence but one’s whim and radicalism in understating religion, in general, and Quran, in particular.
4- Although Shahrour denied the possibility of abrogating a previous Verse by a later except in some cases, he deactivated the significance of some Verses and Chapters under the pretext that they are outdated. In this regard, he said that the reports about the Messengers, Verses about the expeditions of Badr, Uḥud, Al-Khandaq, Al-Aḥzāb, Tabouk, the conquest of Makkah, and even the Verses of Surat At-Tawbah (Repentance) are historical texts. Thus, no rulings are deduced from those Verses. In fact, they are historical because they have occasions of revelation. The Shahrour’s approach of renewal by studying the Divine text as a historical text (a declaration not legislation) and historicity (human understanding of the Verses of legislation) is a dangerous approach.
5-Whosoever denies the Prophecy of Muhammad is called Muslim yet not regarded as a believer. What are doubts, misconceptions and threats resulting from spreading such claims? Does freedom of speech allow spreading doubts and stirring up troubles?
6-Limiting the infallibility of the Messenger Muhammad to his role as a conveyor messenger and not when he is a legislator (or as Shahrour mentioned, a Mujtahid) is a real deviation, especially with his ambiguous differentiation between being a prophet and being a messenger. By adopting a superficial differentiation, he neglected the intersecting points between them.
7-He wrongly claimed that the Prophet Muhammad was entitled to forbid and not to prohibit, to allow and not to permit, as the mission of setting the prohibited and permissible is not for him. For example, the Prophet allowed Muslims to visit the graves. However, it is not permissible for us, as it was a special license for his contemporaries. It is only permissible because the Quran did not prohibit it. However, when we superficially interpret the Verse,”أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ حَتَّى زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ”“Vying for more distracted you. Until you visited the graves”(103:1-2), we understand that it condemns the grave visitors. Similarly, gossiping is not prohibited because there is no Quranic prohibition but a Prophetic forbiddance. In fact, The Prophetic forbiddance is temporal and not regarded as a final prohibition. Reaching such fake conclusions has resulted from a weak and dogmatic understanding. This is an unsupported argument, as it contradicts the Quranic Verse describing the Prophet: “ومَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى• إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى.”
“Nor does he speaks out of whim. It is but a revelation being revealed.”(53: 3-4). Furthermore, Shahrour set fourteen (14) prohibitions only according to his poor understanding of the Quran.
8-Shahrour attributes ignorance to the whole Ummah, the old and modern generations, and belittles their great contributions to build a civilization and refining people’s minds. For him, they are stupid and narrow-minded who failed to understand the Wise Revelation. In addition, scholars contemporary to Shahrour, living in the age of satellite, information networks, genetic engineering and modern linguistics and, who knowledgeable in the field of modern natural, biological, literary and linguistic sciences, are deemed ignorant! For him, their failure is not in understanding one Verse or Chapter but in understanding the Quran as a whole.
9-Shahrour puts his trust in contemporaries for just being contemporaries, while criticizing and belittling the seventh-century generation (AD) (Prophet’s Companions and their early Successors), amid pure temporal and superficial progress and maturity.
10-The dialectic strategy adopted by Shahrour aims to turn people’s vision towards earthly and religious affairs into a conflictive vision promoting violence and mutual hostility. However, the Islamic vision promotes justice, integration, harmony and goodness and forbids evil and blocks the way to evil means, respectively, as in: “وَالسَّمَاءَ رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ” “And the sky—He raised it and set up the balance” (55:7),
“وَمِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَا زَوْجَيْنِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ”
“And We created all things in pairs, that you may remind yourselves” (51:49),
وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظَاهِرَةً وَبَاطِنَةً”
“…and showered you with His blessings, both manifest and hidden?” (31:20),
“وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّفَسَدَتِ الْأَرْضُ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ”
“…And were it not for Allah repelling some people by means of others, the earth would indeed become corrupted, but Allah is Gracious to all realms.” (2:251).
11-Obviously, Shahrour’s approach promotes dispute, deprivation, restriction, and rigidity more than the creativity, liberation and development he called for. He did not add the new to the old. He also did not select the valid. Instead, he insisted on finding alternatives and burning all the bridges reaching the traditional as if it is an absolute astray, falsehood and darkness. In fact, this is compatible with his condition for Tajdīd: “Renewal can be achieved only by breaking the fundamentals”.
12-Obviously, Shahrour’s writings have almost no old or modern references. He quoted with no citation and argued with no support. His composition is just a set of unsupported views. For him, his mind is his own reference. This cannot be a serious writing.
13-Perhaps, readers criticize Shahrour for his renaming strategy. In fact, he used to abandon common traditional terms with no justification, and exchanged them with new terms. For example, apart from the conventional understanding, he differentiated between the Quran, Scripture (Al-Kitāb), Reminder (Adh-Dhikr), Criterion (Al-Furqān), Foundation of the Scripture (Um Al- Kitāb) and the seven oft-repeated (As-Sab’ Al-Mathāni). For him, the written copy (Muṣḥaf) which includes the speech of Allah Almighty revealed to the Messenger Muhammad is not the Scripture or the Quran, but the Quran is part of it, while the Scripture is another integral part.
Apart from the conventional understanding of the scholars, Shahrour relied on new meanings for some settled terms. This is because he adopted the Abu ‘Ali Al-Fārisī view claiming that there is no synonyms in the Arabic language. Therefore, he denied the existence of synonymity among the terms of the Holy Quran and the Prophetic Tradition, as previously mentioned. In addition, he believed that the Arabic letter Wāw (و) (and) is a conjunction between two different meanings. However, the letter Wāw can be added to convey differences or similarities. Perhaps, it is useful to represent some of his coined definitions.
A- Al-Quran (Quran): is the set of equivocal Verses discussing cosmic laws controlling the whole universe; its stars, planets, earthquakes, winds, springs, rivers, seas…etc, historical and social laws, determining the rise and decline of nations, the unseen past; the creation of the universe and humans and the reports of the previous nations (Quranic stories), and the unseen future; the Hour, Judgment, paradise and hellfire.
B- Al-Kitāb (Scripture): is the set of topics divinely revealed to the Prophet in the form of Verses and Chapters. It includes all that is mentioned in the written copy starting from Surat Al-Fatiḥah to Surat An-Nās. It is known as the Wise Revelation (At-Tanzīl Al-Ḥakīm). The Scripture includes prophethood (the Quran and the seven oft-repeated) and messengership (foundation of the Scripture and its elucidation) and Verses representing the book index. By assuming that the Scripture is the set of the Verses of messengership only, it becomes similar to the meaning of the Scripture according to both Moses and Jesus. For them, Scripture is for legislation only. Accordingly, Muslims nowadays share a common thing with the Jews and Christians which is the name of the people of the Scripture (Ahlul-Kitāb). C-Al-Kitāb Al-Mubin (Clear Book): is the set of the Verses of the Quranic stories including the Muhammadian. This means that it is a set of Verses discussing the past events and stories and the Muhammadian stories.
D-As-Sab’ Al-Mathāni (Seven oft-repeated): It represents Muhammad’s prophethood, which means that it is a part of the Quran. It refers to the disjoined letters of the Arabic alphabet at the beginning of some Quranic Chapters (known as Al-Ḥuruf Al-Muqata’ah) such as: “Alif, Lām, Mim”– “Alif, Lam, Mim, Ṣād“- “Kāf, Hā, Yā, ‘Ayn, Ṣād” – “Ḥā, Meem” – “Ṭā, Seen, Meem”. These letters consist of eleven (11) syllables representing the common sounds in the human language. According to the Sunnah, they are called Jawami’ Al-Kalim (words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning). According to the Scripture, they are called Aḥsan Al-Ḥadith. In fact, the Seven oft-repeated (The seven repeatedly recited Verses), along with the Quran, represent the scripture of prophethood. Through them, the Divine words have gained their miraculous and challenging nature.
E-Al-Furqān (Criterion): includes the tenth commandments of Moses and Muhammad and the Wisdom of Jesus (peace be upon them). It represents the straight path in the Wise Revelation. These (Commandments) are mentioned in Verses No. (151-152) in Surat Al-An’am.
F- Al-Ḥadith (Discourse): narrates the cosmic and humanitarian events of the former ages and the events of the Prophet Muhammad’s era such as expeditions and migration. This type of Verses does not include any rulings or legislation.
G-Adh-Dhikr (Reminder): is the verbally acoustic form by which worship is performed. It includes all the Verses, whether the reciter understands them or not. It is the form which is divinely preserved, as Allah Almighty says: “إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
“Indeed, We—We alone— have bestowed the Reminder from on high, and We will most surely preserve it” (15:9).
H- Ar-Risālah (Messengership) – Um Al-Kitāb and its elucidation: is the Verses including the Verses of the foundation of the Scripture (the explicit Scripture) and its elucidating Verses. In this regard, Allah Almighty says:”الر كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ آيَاتُهُ ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتْ مِن لَّدُنْ حَكِيمٍ خَبِير”
“Alif Lām Ra. A Scripture whose signs were perfected, then detailed, from One Who is All-Wise, All-Aware.” (11:1).
Through this, Muhammad is assigned as a Messenger. The Scripture of messengership, with its definite Verses and elucidation, conveys obedience and disobedience, as Allah Almighty says: “وَأَطِيعُواْ اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُون
“And obey Allah and the Messenger, that you may obtain mercy.” (3:132).
According to the Wise Revelation, it is also called “Kitāb” as a second meaning like the Scriptures of Moses and Jesus.
I-Explicit Verses (Muḥkamāt)- Um Al-Kitāb: represent a part of the messengership. They are the Verses of the foundation of the Scripture, as Allah Almighty says:
“هُوَ الَّذِيَ أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَاب
“…it is He Who sent down upon you the Scripture. Some of its signs are explicit; they are the foundation of the Scripture…” (3:7), which are nineteen (19) Verses….They are definitive and irrefutable, so they are out of the scope of Ijtihād. They discuss the prohibitions, commandments, forbiddances, limits, rituals and values.
J-Ayāt Ṭafṣeel Um Al-Kitāb (Verses of Elucidation of the Foundation of the Scripture): they are a part of the messengerhood. They elucidate the explicit verses, the Verses of Um Al-Kitāb. They are more than 993 Verses with no repetition. In fact, this number is changeable because it resulted from a research that was done for the first time in the history of the Muhammadian messengership. In detail, they elucidate the issues of prohibitions, commandments, forbiddances, limits, rituals and values. Allah Almighty says: “وَلَقَدْ جِئْنَاهُم بِكِتَابٍ فَصَّلْنَاهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ هُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ”
“And most surely, We have given them a Scripture which We have detailed with knowledge—guidance and mercy for people who believe”. (7: 52).
K- Mutshābihāt (Equivocal Verses): are the Verses of the Quran plus the seven oft-repeated Verses. They clarify the cosmic and humanitarian laws which prove the prophethood of Muhammad as Allah Almighty says: “هو الذي أنزل عليك الكتاب منه آيات محكمات هن أم الكتاب وأخر متشابهات”“It is He Who sent down upon you the Scripture. Some of its signs are explicit; they are the foundation of the Scripture…” (3:7).
L-Inzāl: is the process of changing an unperceived matter by human mind to something perceived. For example, the Quran is revealed all at once except for the Verses of the events of the Muhammadian era because they were sent for a certain occasion. Allah Almighty says:
“شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ”
“(It was) the month of Ramadan in which the Recital was sent down as guidance for mankind, and as evident explanations of the guidance and the criterion…”(2:185).
M-Tanzīl (Beyond Perception): is the process of revealing the Quran separately after it was sent down all at once in the month of Ramadan. The events that happened during the Muhammadian era witnessed both the process of Inzāl and Tanzīl, as some Verses were revealed for a specific occasion. For messengership, Inzāl and Tanzīl (the foundation of the scripture and its elucidation) are spontaneous because they are directly revealed from Allah.
N-Al-Ḥarām (Prohibition): is a strict and eternal ruling which has no exemption. Allah Almighty is the only One who is entitled to set prohibitions as it is one of the features of His Sovereignty. In fact, prohibitions curb human attitude. In the message of Moses, they were abundant, as they came in the form of commandments and forbiddances. Later on, they were reduced, in the message of Muhammad, to be only fourteen (14) prohibitions, as previously mentioned.
O-An-Nahi (Forbiddance): is temporal and contrary to the commandment. In fact, the Divine imperatives and forbiddance are fixed, yet, their legislation is changeable, as it depends on human reasoning, circumstances and the knowledge of the societies. Thus, Allah Almighty has assigned the legislation authority to the mission of Ijtihād. For the Divine Forbiddance, Allah Almighty says in Suart An-Nahl (Bees):
“إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاء ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ”
“Indeed, Allah commands to justice and excelling in doing good and bringing (charity) to the relative, and He forbids obscenity and what is deplorable and oppression. He admonishes you, that you may remind yourselves.“(16:90).
For the Prophetic forbiddance, Allah Almighty says:
“وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا.”
“And whatever the Messenger brings you—accept it, and whatever he forbids you—abstain from it.” (59:7).
In addition, forbiddances can be determined through man-made legislations. In fact, Forbiddance does not depend on coercion. If so it will be called banning. For example, the physician advices you to quit smoking, while the government bans smoking in public places.
P-Ādam: is the father of humans, not mankind. The civilized humanitarian history began with Adam. This means that all sane speaking humans belong to Adam’s lineage.
Q-Al’Arsh (Throne): refers to the Divine imperatives, as Allah Almighty says: “ذُو الْعَرْشِ الْمَجِيدُ * فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ “Possessor of the Throne, the Gloriouse, Doer of whatever He wants” (85: 15- 16); connecting between the throne and the Divine Action; prohibitions or imperatives. The throne does not convey any spacial signification, because Allah Almighty is beyond time and space, as He is the Creator of time and space and the Creator of everything and the One who is in control.
R- Al-Kursī (Seat): whereas the throne refers to the Divine prohibitions and imperatives, the Seat refers to the Divine Knowledge, as Allah Almighty says:
“يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ”
“….He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not encompass any of His knowledge except according to what He wills. His knowledge has embraced the heavens and the earth, and their preservation does not fatigue Him, for He is the All-High, the Great.” (2:255). In fact, the throne is connected to the seat, as the prohibitions and imperatives are derived from the knowledge of the One in charge.
S-Ar-Rouḥ (Spirit): is the Knowledge and legislation connected to human. It started at the time of teaching human the names (of everything). It is the first step in building a humanitarian consistent intellect, while the second step is abstractionism. Thus, the revelation is called spirit, as in:
“وَكَذَلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحًا مِّنْ أَمْرِنَا”….
“And thus have We revealed a spirit to you (Muhammad) by Our command… “(42:52), because He revealed knowledge and legislation. Thus, mankind represents the materialistic objective existence of human, while knowledge and legislation represent the conscious humanitarian existence of mankind which is expressed through the language. In fact, language is a pot of thoughts [Human= (objective) Mankind + (subjective) Spirit] and [Spirit= Knowledge + Legislation] with a harmonized linguistic model.
Finally, Shahrour tends to adopt the irregular or the abandoned meaning of the terms in the dictionary, rejecting the traditional (contextual) meaning. Consequently, he differently interpreted the words: Rabahu “ربه”, which means his Lord, and Saleem “سَليم”, which means sound, in the Verse describing the Prophet Ibraheem. Allah Almighty says:
“إِذْ جَاءَ رَبَّهُ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ “He came to his Lord with a sound heart “(37:84).
For him, his lord refers to his father “Āzar“, while Saleem means angry! He also mentioned that the majority wrongly interpret the word Nisā’ نِسَاء”” in the Verse:“زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالْبَنِينَ”….
“Adorned for mankind is the love of desires, such as women and children….” (3: 14) by referring it to women. For him, this word is derived from the Arabic verb نَسَأ ( Nasa’a) which refers to the act of delay. In addition, the Arabic word Nisā’, mentioned in the Verse of guardianship, refers to males and females together as the word Rijāl (رِجَال) means the most effective member without specifying its gender.. The Verse reads:
“الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاء بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُواْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ”
“Men should be constant caretakers of women with what Allah has favored one over the other and with what they spend (for support) from their wealths…” (4: 34)
Shahrour thoughts belong to the modernist western school which depends on modern natural and social sciences to understand the Glorious Quran and Islamic legislation, in particular, and Islam, in general. Shahrour and some of his colleagues sharing the same mindset tend to understand Islam (Quran, Sunnah, heritage, exegesis, fundamentals, jurisprudence, history) in the light of the materialistic philosophy (and its Marxist roots). However, the majority of this school depends only on two levels: the epistemological (major perspectives in a philosophical way) and the methodological (a general critique on the traditional approach and a proposal of other strategies in hermeneutics and exegesis). Shahrour firmly decided to boost his philosophy by moving to the level of application. Thus, he thoroughly studied legislation and rulings and reached radical deductions concerning both major and minor issues. Why? The answer is:
-Shahrour’s deduction lacks the fundamentals of the worldwide common scientific approach which are: selecting the research sources, clarifying arguments and references, avoiding plagiarism, verifying meanings and significations, differentiating between the vocabularies and syntactical compositions, adopting contextual reading, studying the chronological order of the Verses via a clear approach, and differentiating between the original and the subdivision, the definite and the deduced, and the balance and the balanced. Briefly, Shahrour failed to clearly support his opinion. He also refrained from adding supporting evidence, so he fell into the traps of plagiarism.
–Shahrour’s deduction neglects the intellectual context. His ideas are unsystematic. He used to support radical opinions which maybe no one had ever preceded him in raising them. He was attracted to the poles, apart from moderation.
-He completely neglected Islamic sciences scholars, especially the widely recognized scholars and intellectuals adopting moderation. He used to describe old and modern scholars as blockhead, ignorant and fanatical. Decisively, he, as previously mentioned, twisted the concepts and terminologies and attributed ignorance to the whole Ummah in this scope and widened the epistemological split between scientists and intellectuals.
-It is crystal clear that Shahrour promoted a pure western agenda. This is appeared through some concepts contradicting the Islamic fundamentals as follows:
A-Twisting major concepts such as Islam, Quran, Shariah, prophecy and Sunnah.
B-Glorifying the (western) contemporary and making it superior over all the traditional. For him, old is not gold even if it is attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.
C-Believing in the historicity of Quran or some of Its Verses and believing in the relativity of the Sunnah. This means that their reports and legislations are expired; applicable only during the Prophetic era.
D-Manipulating some issues concerning women and family such as:
-Rulings of inheritance especially rulings of female’s inherited share.
-Rulings of marriage, permitting some irregular marriage contracts such as the temporal marriage (Mut’ah), conditioned marriage (misyār) and cohabitation (Khidn).
-Female Muslims and their uniform and Hijab and even male Muslims’ uniform.
-Permitting adoption, allocating for the adoptee a share in inheritance and prohibiting the marriage from the adopted son or brother,
-Prohibiting polygyny, and permitting it only after divorcing the first wife, as man is allowed to have only one wife.
D-Finally, it is preferable, but obligatory, for every person to think, understand and learn. In addition, every person should stay humble in seeking knowledge by sharing his thoughts and findings with others. It is detested to coin alternatives then call others to strictly follow them. He should accept the fact that his ideas are refutable. He should listen, refine and fill the gaps. Obviously, Shahrour, with a forty years’ experience in the field of writing, was slightly affected by others’ criticism and objections. He refused to widen his knowledge whether in the scope of the traditional or the contemporary contributions. In fact, he strictly depended on his own views.
Indeed, the most dangerous threat we are facing from such phenomenon represented in Shahrour is that it attracts the west. It is adopted to hollow out the Islamic religious discourse in the name of renewal by those who belong to groups neglecting the reference and identity of the Arab and Muslim world, and unfortunately trying to destroy its pillars. In addition, we are facing a dilemma which is the devoted efforts to publically promote such thoughts through media and institutions, believing that money and media, unlike writing and publishing, can have better results in this field.
Rehab Jamal Bakri***
* (Quranic Translation: Bridges’ Translation of the Ten Qira’at of the Noble Qur’an. Prophetic Sayings: Sunnah.com).
** PhD in political science, and executive director of the Civilization Center for Studies and Researches.
*** Egyptian Researcher and Translator.