Amjad M Mohammed
This study shows that traditional Sharīʿa hermeneutics, through the lens of Ḥanafī legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh) and international law (siyar), inherently possesses the flexibility, relevance and applicability to take into consideration non-state implemented Fiqh or minority-status of Muslims on wide ranging subjects like medicine, politics and finance.
Published as: Muslims in non-Muslim Lands: A Legal Study with Applications (Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 2013).
Arnold Yasin Mol
After World War II the United Nations developed new international law constructs in cooperation with the majority of the world’s nations, which were mainly based on a Western hermeneutic of rights. This international humanistic project provided new anthropological constructs which were seen as compatible or non-compatible, by Muslims or non-Muslims, with Islam. When analyzing these discussions on Islam and human rights discourse into a typology they can provide insights where compatibility and non-compatibility lies, and where possible reinterpretation is needed. Within the typology, two forms of discourses can be discerned: Islamic human rights discourse as the internal Muslim discourse on human rights and the external ‘Islam and human rights’ discourse which emerged together with the modern human rights regimes. By analyzing the different elements of what constitutes Islam and human rights discourse we can derive new understandings and strategies in how to engage a modern Islamic human rights discourse and constitute an Islamic science of human rights (ʿilm al-ḥuqūq) which provides a hermeneutics of continuity between Islam and modern human rights and overcomes both apologetics and othering.
Keywords: Islam and human rights, ḥuqūq Allāh wa-ḥuqūq al-ʿibād, Islamic reform, Islamic jurisprudence, Islam and modernity
Published as: “Islamic Human Rights Discourse and Hermeneutics of Continuity”, Journal of Islamic Ethics (JIE), Volume 3, 2019.
Arnold Yasin Mol
The tafsīr tradition is, as an accumulative and overarching science, a direct reflection of the trends emerging in other Islamic sciences. Exegesis on verses as Q.2:29, which concerned ontological ethics, Q.17:15, which concerned responsibility, and Q.11:117, which concerned worldly punishment, became important markers for Islamic theological typologies. Two important exegetical trends developed surrounding verse Q.11:117: (A) The exegesis of the Muʿtazila, as represented by al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538/1144): God transcends any form of injustice, therefore when He destroys a people it is caused by their own theological injustice i.e., unbelief/idolatry/major sins. (B) The exegesis of the Sunnī orthodox, as represented by the Later Ashʿarī scholars al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210) and al-Bayḍāwī (d. 685/1286): God does not destroy a people for their theological injustice i.e., unbelief/idolatry, but rather provides them respite when they are just towards others. Al-Zamakhsharī and al-Bayḍāwī became central references in the post-classical tafsīr tradition. This is reflected both in the Ottoman curriculum, and in original exegetical works such as by Aḥmad b. Ismaʿīl al-Gūrānī (d. 893/1488), Ibn Kamāl Pāshā (d. 940/1534), Abū al-Suʿūd al-Efendī (d. 982/1574) and Ismāʿīl Ḥaqqī (d. 1127/1715), and supercommentary works by Shaykh Zādah (d. 951/1544), al-Khafājī (d. 1069/1658), and ʿIṣām al-Dīn al-Qūnawī (d. 1195/1781). This paper seeks to discuss how the Ottoman tafsīr tradition engaged the different exegetical approaches to verses such as Q.11:117, and how Māturīdī theology provided the possibility for a unique synthesis of al-Zamakhsharī and al-Bayḍāwī wherein divine respite becomes grounded in divine wisdom and justice.
Published as: “Divine respite in the Ottoman tafsīr tradition: Reconciling exegetical approaches to Q.11:117”, Osmanli‘da ilm-i tefsir, ed. M.T. Boyalik and H. Abaci. (Istanbul: ISAR, 2019), 539-592.
Arnold Yasin Mol
In this analysis we will show how the Islamic tradition constructs a sacred cosmology wherein a sacred space and sacred time are defined. In Sunni Islam only a few sacred spaces on earth exist, the majority belong to the world unseen (ʿālam al- ghayb) and are not accessible for the common human. But when there is a transfer between the seen and unseen world a sacred time is created which is accessible for the whole of creation. The most clear example of the creation of sacred time is Laylat al-Qadr, which is seen as sacred due to the sending down of the Qurʾān and fate (qadar). But as the Qurʾān doesn’t indicate when this night is, intertextual interpretations were constructed which allowed the formation of the dominant opinion it is during the month of Ramaḍān. The uncertainty of when the night is was incorporated into the sacred time of Laylat al-Qadr, whereby searching for the night became just as important as praying in it. In our analysis we will show how for the Islamic exegetical tradition the revelation of the Qurʾān isn’t just a matter of historicity (occasions of revelation) and textual meaning (what and who is addressed), but first of all reflects a sacred cosmology wherein the Qurʾān is transferred from Creator to creation, and then from the unseen world to the seen world. Our analysis will discuss Sunni Kalām positions on the idea of revelation, predestination, and sacred cosmology; Qurʾānic sciences (ʿulūm al-Qurʾān) discussions on when and where the Qurʾān existed within this cosmology; and a translation and analysis of the exegesis of Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī (d. 944 CE) of sūra al-Qadr (S.97).
Published as: “Laylat al-Qadr as Sacred Time: Sacred Cosmology in Sunnī Kalām and Tafsīr”, Islamic Studies Today: Essays in Honor of Andrew Rippin, ed. M. Daneshgar and W. Saleh (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 74-97.