Necessity triggers temporary exceptions – not new norms

The Sacred Law acknowledges that necessity sometimes calls for exceptional rulings; it does not countenance accepting it as a new norm.

If a Muslim community was faced with a situation where pork was the only readily available food, they would accept the need to consume enough to secure immediate survival and hasten the production of lawful nourishment in order to remove the necessity. They would not accept pork as the new norm.

The ruling for pork is established in the Quran. So are the rulings for usury, gambling, looking at members of the opposite sex, foreplay, and precursors to fornication, wearing the hijab, and legal spouses for Muslims.

But while almost no Muslim would accept pork into their diet, too many Muslims are buying into an idea that the necessity around them calls for new norms without feeling any compulsion to remove the necessity and, thus, remedy the situation.

In his Fiqh al-Sira, Dr Ramadan Sayyid al-Buti points out the call certain modernists make that the legal rulings must be changed to accommodate today’s customs. But while they are correct that environment, epoch, place, and the individuals involved do play a role in legal rulings, they are wrong in always assuming that changes in one of those dimensions will always result in more lenient rulings.

The proper response to legal necessities is to accept whatever exception the Sharia affords the situation and to set about removing the necessity. The proper response is not to just accept the situation as is and assimilating it as some form of “new Muslim culture™”.

And Allah knows best.

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