The Principle of Limitation


Ibn Taymiyyah states:

Peoples’ sayings and actions are of two kinds: acts of worship by which their religion is established, and customary practices which are required for day to day living. From the principles of the Sharee’ah we know that acts of worship are those acts which have been prescribed by Allaah or approved by Him; nothing is to be affirmed here except through the Sharee’ah. However, as far as the worldly activities of the people are concerned they are necessary for everyday life. Here the principle is freedom of action; nothing may be restricted in this regards except what Allaah subhaanahu wa ta’ala has restricted. This is the case because commanding and prohibiting are both in the Hands of Allaah. As far as worship is concerned there has to be a command from Him concerning it. Thus, when it requires a command (from Allaah) to establish something, how can we say that something is restricted without His command?

That is why Ahmad bin Hanbal rahimahullaah and other jurists (fuqaha) who base their judgements on ahadith say, “In relation to acts of worship. the principle is tawqeef;” that is to say, nothing can be legislated in this regards except what Allaah Himself has legislated. To do otherwise is to incur the risk of being included in the ayah:

Do they have partners (with Allaah) who have prescribed for them in religion that concerning which Allaah has given no permission? (Soorah Shoorah, Aayah 21)

But as far as living habits are concerned, the principle is freedom because nothing can be restricted in this regards except what Allaah Himself has prohibited. Here, to do otherwise is to be included in the meaning of His saying:

Say : Do you see what Allaah has sent down to you for your sustenance? Yet you have made some part of it halaal and some part haraam. (Soorah Yoosuf, Aayah 59)

Taken from ‘al-Qawa’id al Nuraniyah al Fiqhya’ p.112 -113 of  Ibnu Taymiyyah

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