Tuesday, July 16, 2024 AD / Muharram 10, 1446 AH
Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani
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Question & Answer

What is the opinion of Allamah Khorasani about Comparison? Furthermore, what is his opinion about Istihsan[1]?

Please pay attention to the following points:

1. The religious laws are nothing except the credibility of lawmaker, and the credibility of lawmaker will not be recognized except by referring to Him and therefore, comparing some of them with some others is not rational; especially considering that on one hand, the law of any matter has been presented in the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Prophet and is preserved with His Caliph and therefore, there is no need to compare a matter with another one, but we only need to ask the Caliph of God on earth, and if it is impossible to ask him at a time, it is because of negligence of the people of that time in providing the arrangements of this work which is not considered as an excuse for them to perform Comparison, and on the other hand, intellect cannot measure the standard of God’s credibility without referring to Him; since for instance, if by citing the verse ﴿يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا أُحِلَّ لَهُمْ ۖ قُلْ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ[2]; “They ask you what is lawful to them. Say, ‘All the good things are lawful to you”, they recognize lawfulness of something by the standard of being good, it is possible that God makes some good things prohibited by other standards such as retribution or examination; as for example He has said: ﴿فَبِظُلْمٍ مِنَ الَّذِينَ هَادُوا حَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ طَيِّبَاتٍ أُحِلَّتْ لَهُمْ وَبِصَدِّهِمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا[3]; “Due to the wrongdoing of those who became Jews, We prohibited them certain good things that were permitted to them earlier, and for their barring many people from the way of God” and has said: ﴿فَلَمَّا فَصَلَ طَالُوتُ بِالْجُنُودِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مُبْتَلِيكُمْ بِنَهَرٍ فَمَنْ شَرِبَ مِنْهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَمَنْ لَمْ يَطْعَمْهُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي إِلَّا مَنِ اغْتَرَفَ غُرْفَةً بِيَدِهِ[4]; “As Saul set out with the troops, he said, ‘Indeed God will test you with a stream, anyone who drinks from it will not belong to me, but those who do not drink from it will belong to me, barring someone who draws a scoop with his hand”, and if by citing the verse ﴿وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ[5]; “And forbids the impure things for them”, consider impurity of something as the standard for its forbiddance, it is possible that God makes some impure things obligatory by other standards such as retribution or examination; as for example He has said: ﴿وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ إِنَّكُمْ ظَلَمْتُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ بِاتِّخَاذِكُمُ الْعِجْلَ فَتُوبُوا إِلَى بَارِئِكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ[6]; “And when Moses said to his people, ‘O my people! You have indeed wronged yourselves by taking up the Calf for worship. Now turn penitently to your Maker, and slay the guilty among your folks” and has said: ﴿فَلَمّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنِّي أَرَى فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنِّي أَذْبَحُكَ فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَى ۚ قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ ۖ سَتَجِدُنِي إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ[7]; “When (Isma’il) was old enough to assist in his endeavor, he said: ‘My son! I see in a dream that I am sacrificing you. See what you think!’ He said: ‘Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If God wishes, you will find me to be patient”! It is clear that forbiddance of good things such as flowing stream, and obligation of impure deeds such as killing own folks and slaughtering the child, are contrary to the standards that can be understood by intellect and therefore, there is no alternative except referring to God to know His laws without Comparison of some of them with the others.

Yes, it is true that whenever God declares a standard of a law as a general major term, it is possible to uphold that law for any matter which definitely has that standard until the arrival of a special reason; because the possibility of existence of a special reason solely, does not require to abolish the general term, but it requires the necessity to search for the special reason and whenever this research is done as much as possible and does not lead to any result, then we can refer to general term, and this is based on the authenticity of the general and the hideousness of punishment without reasoning, and the hideousness of tasking what one is not able to accomplish.

2. Istihsan also is not allowed in recognizing religious laws, based on the above similar reasoning; as God has said: ﴿وَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَى أَنْ تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ[8]; “And it maybe that you dislike something while that is to your benefit and also it maybe that you like something while that is bad for you and God knows and you do not know” and has said: ﴿وَتَحْسَبُونَهُ هَيِّنًا وَهُوَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمٌ[9]; “And you suppose it to be a light matter, while it is a great matter with God”!

↑[1] . [Translator note: Istihsan (اِستِحسان) is an Arabic term and it means “to consider something good or request to make it good” meaning that in order to derive a religious law, one avoids acting based on general terms, and provides a specific to the general that may be contrary to the general law, which seemingly is meant to be a better verdict from the jurist perspective, for that religious matter.]
↑[2] . Al-Ma'idah/ 4
↑[3] . An-Nisa/ 160
↑[4] . Al-Baqarah/ 249
↑[5] . Al-A'raf/ 157
↑[6] . Al-Baqarah/ 54
↑[7] . As-Saffat/ 102
↑[8] . Al-Baqarah/ 216
↑[9] . An-Nur/ 15
The website for the office of Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani The section for answering questions
Sub-questions & answers
Sub-question 1
Author: Abu Hasan Al-Hasani

What is the meaning of Comparison in religion? Is using it in religion generally forbidden or only reasonless Comparison is forbidden?

Answer to
sub-question 1
Date: 2017 November 30

Comparison, in the term of religious scholars, means derivation of the law of a matter from a similar matter because of the similarity between the two matters, which is considered valid by most Islamic sects especially the Hanafi, but according to the Shiite, the Zaheria and many of the Ahl al-Hadith is not valid; because religious laws do not have comparable nature, rather are totally auricular; meaning they are determined only by the lawmaker’s text. Although the people of Comparison cite the lawmaker’s text in order to prove its validity; like the words of God that has said: ﴿لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ[1]; “Indeed, there is certainly a lesson in their stories for those who possess intellect” and has said: ﴿فَاعْتَبِرُوا يَا أُولِي الْأَبْصَارِ[2]; “So take lesson, O you who have insight”; regarding that taking lesson from the predecessors means comparing ourselves with them and deriving our destiny from their destiny because of the similarity of our acts, and this implies the validity of Comparison, but the opponents of Comparison, cite the lawmaker’s text in order to reject its validity; Like the words of God that has said about Satan: ﴿قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ ۖ خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ[3]; “He said I am superior to him, You created me from fire and You created him from clay” and as Pharaoh conveyed, He has said: ﴿أَمْ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْ هَذَا الَّذِي هُوَ مَهِينٌ وَلَا يَكَادُ يُبِينُ[4]; “Or am I better than this man who is nothing and he is not as near to speak clearly”; regarding that He has considered derivation of self-superiority by comparing the fire and clay and greater wealth with lower wealth as a satanic and Pharaoh-like act, and this implies the invalidity of Comparison.

It is hereby understood that in some verses, God obliges the Comparison and in some other verses, He forbids it, and it means that Comparison for Him, is neither absolutely valid nor absolutely rejected, rather it sometimes is valid and sometimes rejected; because sometimes the reason of the law is recognized from His text and it is definite in another matter; Like in a situation that He supposedly has said: “Wine is forbidden; because it is intoxicating” and it turns out that every intoxicating thing is forbidden, although it is not called wine, and accordingly, beer is also forbidden; because it is intoxicating like wine, and this is called “the Comparison in which its reason is investigated[5]” which is often considered valid, but some believe it is out of so called Comparison. Because including beer in the law of wine, is based on the lawmaker’s text and is nothing except conformity to a general on one of its instances and therefore, the above answer about invalidity of Comparison is not with regards to this type; just as sometimes the reason of law is more clear in another matter and therefore, the law is applicable per the former reasoning; like where He has forbidden to say Fie to the parents and has said: ﴿فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ[6]; “Do not say to them, ‘Fie” and it is hereby understood that accursing them, per same former reasoning, is forbidden and therefore, the above answer about invalidity of Comparison is not looking to this type of Comparison which is called “precedence Comparison[7]” either, but sometimes the reason of the law is given from lawmaker’s text or it is not definite in another matter, but there is an utmost conjecture to it; like where He has obliged Zakat for wheat and it is supposed that the reason is its commonality among most people and therefore, obligation of Zakat in rice is also acknowledged; because rice has become very common among people like wheat, and this is called the “the Comparison in which its reason is derived[8]”, which is undoubtedly rejected; because it is based on conjecture and estimation, whereas conjecture and estimation are not valid in Islam; as He has said: ﴿إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ[9]; “They do not follow anything but conjecture and do nothing but estimation”.

Therefore, deriving the law of a matter from another matter’s law, whenever it is based on knowledge of the standard or the reason of the law of the other matter and the knowledge of its existence or its dominance in a matter, is not considered to be an invalid Comparison, but it is Ijtihad in religion and it is investigating Quran and Sunnah, which there is no problem in it; because it is following the knowledge not conjecture, and Quran and Sunnah will be destroyed without that, but whenever it is based on conjecture to the standard or the reason of law of another matter or conjecture to its existence or its dominance in a matter, it is considered to be an invalid Comparison and is not permissible; because it is following conjecture not knowledge, and Quran and Sunnah will be destroyed with that; as God has said: ﴿وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ[10]; “Do not follow what you have no knowledge of” and has said: ﴿نَبِّئُونِي بِعِلْمٍ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ[11]; “Inform Me with knowledge, should you be truthful”.

*For further explanations, refer to the arabic text.
↑[1] . Yusuf/ 111
↑[2] . Al-Hashr/ 2
↑[3] . Sad/ 76
↑[4] . Az-Zukhruf/ 52
↑[5] . قیاس منصوص العلّة
↑[6] . Al-Isra/ 23
↑[7] . قیاس اولویّت
↑[8] . قیاس مستنبط العلّة
↑[9] . Al-An'am/ 116
↑[10] . Al-Isra/ 36
↑[11] . Al-An'am/ 143
The website for the office of Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani The section for answering questions
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