For a more careful use of analogies in Islamic practice

Analogies are often used in Islam where and when prophetic examples do not fully fit situations. While a number of broad, classical Shari’a principles are established, in more specific cases, analogies apply.

Among some Islamic communities, the use of analogies by persons advanced in Islamic traditions is largely accepted. At the same time, members of the said communities believe that in order not to commit sin, a Muslim has to be careful throughout.

Analogies made by scholars depend on times with specific characteristics. These do not apply to all settings in today’s Islamic world, much less Western countries. What is more, once an analogy identified, some conclusions are individual interpretations.

In popular belief, the lives of historic and emblematic Muslim personalities after the era of the rightly-guided caliphs, even those other than ‘sahih,’ are viewed as exemplary. But being careful means that one has to follow core principles more than individual interpretations – without mixing up Sira accounts and, then, biographies of ‘heroic’ Muslims perhaps very wrong when they lived. The context of their lives was often different.

Muslims know that being peaceful and forgiving, as mandatory during revelation, are important virtues. In case of doubt, one should, therefore, be reluctant.

Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
7. March 2021

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