Category Archives: Usuul

29 Sep

Lexical and legislative meaning of words

Words have a lexical meaning and a legislative meaning. The word Salaah means to perform specific actions in a specific manner [referred to as prayer] when we talk legislatively. 


However, lexically it simply means to make du'a


When a word has a legislatively meaning, you have a group of scholars who say that the word will always be understood according to the legislative meaning in the Nusuus [texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah] unless there is evidence that it is being used according to its lexical meaning. 


Then you have a group who believe that the word will always be understood according to its lexical meaning unless and until there is evidence that the word is being used in its legislative capacity.


To understand the affect this has when one tries to derive rulings from the texts consider the following hadiith:

al-Tawaaf around the Sacred House is al-Salaah

The group of scholars who hold that the word al-Salaah is to be understood in its lexical capacity until there is evidence to suggest otherwise, will take this word in its lexical meaning which means to make du'a. Hence, according to this group one does not have to have made Wuduu' when one performs al-Tawaaf as Wuduu is not necessary when one makes du'a. 


The group of scholars who say that a word is understood in its legislative meaning until there is evidence to suggest that the word is being used in its lexical capacity will take the word al-Salaah to mean prayer. According to them, you will have to have performed Wuduu before you perform al-Tawaaf because Wuduu is necessary for prayer and al-Tawaaf is prayer. 

al-'inaarah sharH kitaab al-'ishaarah
Page 183

06 Jul

The general specified by the the ‘aql

Specifying the general by means of 'aql [intellect]. 


An example of this can be seen in the following Verse of the Qur'aan:


Allaah is the Creator of everything


The intellect tells us that Allaah did not create Himself.


They have differed as to if the intellect can be considered from among the things which can specify [the general]. Some of the scholars have said it is not from those things which can specify. The reason is because when the intellect shows that something cannot be entered under the generality of a word, then that word was never coined for it [i.e. for that something to be a part of its generality] to begin with. Allaah does not come under the word “thing” in the aforementioned Verse so there is no need to talk about its specification [takhsiis]. 


The majority of scholars say that intellect is from among the things which can specify [the generality of a word]. This is because the word[s] "everything" was coined in the language for the general and includes everything. In this Verse, it is not possible to keep the word upon that generality because intellect dictates that Allaah and His Attributes are not a part of the word.


The effects of this difference of opinion becomes apparent when we discuss those who say that the general prior to have been made specific is definitive proof while after takhsiis [specification] it becomes speculative proof. 


For when you consider intellect to be from among those things which specify, then you consider the general which is specified by it to be speculative proof. 


Some of the Hanafi scholars who have made a distinction between the general which has been specified and the general which is preserved maintain that when the general is specified by 'aql [intellect] it remains definitive proof as long as it is not specified by some other form of evidence.


As for the majority of scholars, if they consider intellect to act as a specifying agent, then the general which has not been specified is of stronger standing as far as evidence goes when compared to the general which has been specified by intellect or other forms of evidence.


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