Fallacies (المغالطات)

The ‘You’re not like Abu Bakr’ Fallacy

The ‘You’re not like Abu Bakr!’ Fallacy

This is a fallacy whereby a person outlaws, declares impermissible or suspends an injunction of the Shariah based on the failure of current Muslims to be like the greatest generation of the Prophet – The Companions (sahabah). The reasoning is something like this:

P1. I know that X is allowed in the Shariah,

P2. But, because you’re not like Companions of the Prophet, you’re going to misapply X.

________

C. Therefore, X should not be allowed.

Response: This is a species of fallacies used by Imams, scholars and researchers to gradually eliminate specific legal rulings of the Qur’an and even the Sunna of the Prophet.* It is similar to what can be called ‘The Angelic Pre-Condition’ Fallacy which implies that implementation of Islamic Law is only possible when people attain a level of personal perfection second only to angelic beings.

What makes this kind of reasoning intellectually suicidal (like all self-defeating fallacies) is how such reasoning would undermine the very basis of the Shariah – or any law for that matter. Taken personally by a maverick individual and you have the beginnings of no religion.

Example: X is a permission/injunction given by Allah in the Qur’an e.g. Jihad, Hudud ordinances, spousal reprimand, polygamy, etc… However, because the Muslims in the present time are not like the Companions in the Prophet’s time (e.g. Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali…), they will fail to implement these injunctions or permissions correctly. Hence, we need to either suspend them or eliminate them.

What underpins this kind of reasoning is lack of confidence in the suitability of the original legal ruling in the prevailing circumstances. This lack of confidence could be because of weak thinking, defeatist thinking, incorrect thinking, political pressures or even misunderstanding of the application and use of Islamic legal evidences. In any case, the root reasoning method is fallacious: one cannot – strictly speaking – make an inference to the suspension or elimination of an Islamic legal ruling based on the inability of Muslims to be like the Companions.

 

*note: they are highly selective of the rulings they choose to circumvent with this kind of reasoning.

s.z.c.

 

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