First of all, let me commend you on maintaining this wonderful site. Even though I was introduced to the works of Islahi and Ghamdi et al a while back, I have only recently applied myself into understanding the framework behind them. What has specifically caught my attention is the description of the sources of Islam and the differences between Sunnah and Hadeeth, their respective status and application.
In the same vain, can you please comment on the “validity and scope” of an usul from fiqh that I would think must have come from the sources of Islam itself. This is an often-cited usul that may be written as:
“When it comes to matters of ‘ibaadaat [acts of devotion], the default ruling in our sharee’ah (as agreed upon by the consensus of our scholars) is that of tahreem [prohibition], unless there is evidence otherwise.
This is contrary to matters of mu’aamalaat/’aadaat [dealings, non-devotional acts], whose default ruling in the Sharee’ah (again, according to the consensus of our scholars) is that of ibaahah [permitted-ness], unless there is evidence otherwise.”
These are not my words but I think that they transmit the meaning clearly. Please, despite your hectic schedule, if you may answer not just by kalaam but by Qur’an and Sunnah then I will be grateful. You may edit this message as you please.
We are glad and thankful to God that you found this website beneficial.
The science of Usool Al-Fiqh or (as some times referred to Usul) is a science that discusses about regulations that should be used in order to derive the directives of religion about religious practices, where possible from religious sources.
Looking at the above definition carefully, it is technically inaccurate to say a regulation of Usool is derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah, this is because there cannot be any deriving from the Qur’an and Sunnah unless there are regulations for deriving things from the Qur;an and Sunnah (otherwise, it will be a loop in the cause and effect relationship).
It is correct that many scholars look into the Qur’an, Sunnah and Hadith to back up some of these regulations. It is however clear that all these regulations are primary and heavily based on human rationality.
Hopefully the above should answer your question about the source of the particular principle or regulation (Asl) of Usool that you referred to. You wanted to see the basis of this rule in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, however (as explained above) the main reason lies in rationality rather than the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
The principle you mentioned can be derived from two rationally correct thoughts:
Where the Shari’ah is silent about an issue, it is up to the Muslims to decide about the issue, if applicable, on the basis of the general spirit of religion and its values and purposes. Where the Shari’ah is not silent about an issue and has given strict rulings about it, then Muslims have no say in changing that ruling under normal circumstances.
One of the main differences between Ibadaat (acts of worship) and Mu’aamalaat (acts of transactions) is that the first pertains to relationship between human being and God while the second pertains to relationship among human beings themselves. It is therefore only natural as well as rational that while the form and features of ritual acts of worship need to be directed by God (to whom these acts are related), not all transactional acts and not all features of transactional acts need directive from God.
Combination of the above two rational thoughts leads to the principle you mentioned.
It is however important to note that this principle just like other principles of the science of Usool, is not a mathematical equation or a physical rule. The extent of the applicability of the rule has to be carefully determined for every case and under each context. In particular it is vital to make sure we appreciate the context and conditions under which there is a ruling and that what is exactly the subject of the ruling.