Fiqh arguments and the Toulmin model of argument

Ever since I read about the Toulmin model of argument, I have wanted to use it as a vehicle for presenting fiqh arguments and, perhaps, explain why the arguments aren’t also apparent to non-specialists.

According to the Toulmin model, an argument consists of the following components:

  • Claim: A statement that something is so.
  • Data: The backing for the claim.
  • Warrant: The link between the claim and the grounds.
  • Backing: Support for the warrant.
  • Modality: The degree of certainty employed in offering the argument.
  • Rebuttal: Exceptions to the initial claim.

Many fiqh arguments have the following form:

“Prayer is wajib because Allah commanded it in the Quran”

which covers the claim and data.

Some arguments add

“…and the default for commands is that they indicate obligation”

which covers the warrant. But this is part is often omitted because readers are expected to have read basic usul al-fiqh, and that is part of the ABCs of usul. And when reading usul, they will mention the reason usulis consider commands to indicate obligation – which covers the backing.

Additionally, usul will also go into the degree of certainty of the sources of law, types of evidence, indicants. and arguments. And that covers the modality.

And fiqh books will often get into alternative positions within and across schools – and that covers the rebuttal.

(n.b. Fiqh books tend to concentrate on the claim and data; the warrant, claim, backing and modality are covered in usul al-fiqh, and readers are expected to be able to bring them to mind. This, in sha Allah, helps explain why a basic knowledge of usul al-fiqh is needed for getting the most benefit from The Evident Memorandum, and help show that the arguments presented within are just the visible tip of the iceberg.)

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