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Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)




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Copyright 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 5th September 2011


Having remained an ardent researcher of Islamic Secondary Sources within the ambit of both modern and classical scholarship, there is nothing I find more intriguing than the 'growth' of directives and narratives into voluminous bodies of work. This is also true of the formation of early Islamic Jurisprudence (legal history) and how in the pursuit of finer details certain general directives and laws subsequently developed into a complex body of knowledge. In time, these tomes of scholarship interpretations would then require the need of appointed 'specialists' to decipher.


However, at the crux of the matter, there is often just a simple commandment.


There is much wisdom in the following verses of the Quran.






"And when Moses said to his people: Indeed God commands you that you should sacrifice a cow. They said: Do you ridicule us? He said: I seek the protection of God from being one of the ignorant"



"They said: Pray to your Lord for us to make it clear to us what she is. Moses said: He says, Indeed she is a cow neither advanced in age nor too young, of middle age between that (and this); so do what you are commanded"



"They said: Pray to your Lord for us to make it clear to us what her colour is. Moses said: He says, Surely she is a yellow cow; bright in her colour, giving delight to the beholders"



"They said: Pray to your Lord for us to make it clear to us what she is. for indeed to us the cows are all alike, and if God pleases we shall surely be guided aright"



"He (Moses) said: He (God) says, Indeed she is a cow not trained to plough the earth, nor does she water the field; sound, without a blemish in her. They said: Now you have brought the truth; so they sacrificed her, though they had not the mind to do (it)"



I sometimes think that amongst the many pearls that can be extracted as wisdom from these verses, nothing is more striking than the desire of the people in question to elicit finer and finer details of a general religious commandment to the point that it became nearly impossible for them to perform.


In a similar way, attempting to elicit such finer details from commandments of scripture serve no other purpose but to detract from the real essence and subtleness of the commandments which always seek to teach the middle way. Many times the directives are of a general purport to be carried out as 'best endeavour' and not in any way designed to impose a burden, to become complicated or to become extreme in their interpretation.





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