The Wisdom Behind the Commands in Islam. Image credit: milkymouse
to the Urdu Edition
Praise belongs to Allah and blessings be on his Messengers.
It is my firm belief that commands of Shari`ah are known to be true from the texts of Shari`ah itself. There is no need to investigate the wisdom behind them in order to obey them. If anyone makes knowledge of the wisdom of a condition for his obedience, he is actually being rebellious to the Holy Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. We may take the example of a king or government, unless he is told why those commands were issued; such a man will be termed a rebel and proceeded against. Then, how can anyone say the same thing for the noble words of the Messenger of Allah? We should have no doubt, therefore that the commands of Shari`ah must be obeyed simply because they are part of the Shari`ah. At the same time, there is no doubt whatsoever that there are points of wisdom and deep significance in those commands. So, though our obedience must not be conditional to awareness of the wisdom and significance, yet it is sometimes helpful to satisfy some inquisitive temperaments to gain insight into the wisdom behind these commands. The firmly believing worshippers do not need to know the background but certain weak minds find that the knowledge is a convincing motivation to submission. (In the present times there is an abundance of people of such a disposition.) It is because of this reason that we find the fine points and deep insight in the writings and sayings of great scholars like Imam Ghazali, Khattabi, Ibn `Abdis Salam and others. Modern education, however has changed the outlook of people and many of them make it a point to investigate the reasons for the commands. Although the true remedy is to discourage them from probing into the wisdom of every command (because sometimes this tendency is harmful too) yet it is known from experience that, except for the sincere students. the common people do not need the advice. This tendency has led some scholars to dwell on this subject and offer their explanation to satisfy the curiosity of the common people. If they had respected the limits of Shari`ah, then they would have considered their efforts enough and not felt it necessary to produce a fresh explanation.
However, most of these efforts showed lack of true knowledge or its application and a plethora of baseless and perverse imagination and application of personal whims. Thus, they trespassed the limits of Shari`ah. I have before me such a book; it is replete with worthless matter and the writer seems bereft of sufficient knowledge. It is very harmful to the layman to read such books so unless he is provided with a correct alternative he cannot be stopped from reading worthless, harmful material. With that in view, I saw the need to provide a collection of topics free from material for the laymen so that those inclined towards knowing the background of various commands of Shari`ah may refer to it now and then. If it may not be a source of profit, it will surely ward off the disadvantages associated with the worthless books. (However, there are some whose nature is to think little of the commands of Allah on realizing the wisdom behind them, or they began to think of them as the essence of the commands so that if there is no wisdom behind it, the command is not liable to be obeyed, or they take them to be the true aim and lose the importance of the commands). We had implied this possibility when we said, this tendency is harmful too. So, those who have the above-described nature must not read the collection I have presented. The collection which I have referred is now in your hands. I have reproduced much of what was sound in to the said book and some of the suggested ideas prompting the well-known commands are not against the principles of Shari`ah and easily digested by common sense. But, all these suggested wisdom behind the directives are not definite and binding, and not the basis of the commands, and not dependable and reliable. They are merely symbolic and suggestive.
Some time before our time Mawlana Shah Waliullah has written on this subject in his book entitled, Hujjat Allah al-Baligah and I have heard that it has been translated (into Urdu) but it is not suitable reading for the common people because it is vague and mystical. Even in our times the book Asrarul-Shari`ah is written by an Egyptian scholar, Ibrahim Aafandi, a senior teacher in Madrasah al-Khadyuyah. It was printed by Mutba` al-Wa`iz, Egypt in 1328AH Another booklet, Risalah Humaydiyah was published before that. Both these are in Arabic[…]If you consult these books at the same time as reading my book you will advance in knowledge. The style of each is different from the other so none of them was considered independent of the other. I have mentioned these books for this reason and also because my book should not be considered as a peerless effort. Even Shah Waliullah has said about his “Hujjat Allah al-Baligah“, that it is not a unique presentation but has its roots in the sayings of the Book and Sunnah. He has presented examples of some of its sources in the Book and Sunnah. I name my book al-Masalih al-`Aqliyyah lil Ahkam an-Naqliyyah. May Allah make it profitable and may he cause it toward off doubts and suspicion about the commands,
Ashraf Ali Thanwi
Thursday 1st Rajab 1334 A.H.
Much of this was adopted from Hujjat Allah al-Baligah, as I found out later on referring to it, and some from our worthy predecessors. I praise Allah that it turned out so.
 That you may derive more benefit I have named some other books too. Al-Inhibat al-Mufidah by myself, al-`Aqal wan-Naql, Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad `Uthmani, Mawa`iz Haft Akhir wa ar-Ruh al-Arwah, Risalah al-Haq, Malatiahizb nine articles.
The Wisdom Behind the Commands of Islam, Sheikh Ashraf `Ali Thanwi