AI-Qiyaas in the Arabic language means measurement and estimation and that is why the measuring instrument is referred to in the Arabic language as miqyaas. However, it means, according to the scholars of Usool al-Fiqh and the Muslim jurists (fuqahaa), a way of evidencing by which a mujtahid draws a ruling from an already established ruling in the text or from an ijmaa because of the similarity between the reasons behind the case with an established ruling and the other case the ruling of which there is a silence about. For instance, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
"The exchange of gold for gold, silver for silver, wheat grain for wheat grain, barley for barley date for date, and salt for salt should be equal to equal and hand to hand. And whoever adds any thing or asks for any addition has taken ribaa"(Bukhari)
The scholars looked at this hadith and they discovered that the prohibition is not on the essence of these mentioned items; rather it is for a reason which if seen in other items would also affect those items. However some said that of gold and silver is because they are jewelry. So other items should also be included in the ruling. Other scholars hold that this is because they are currencies; thus other newly introduced items of currency should also be included in this ruling. As for the other items mentioned in the hadith some jurists said it is because they are eatable and measurable. So they looked for other eatable and measurable items and included them in the hadith. This type of evidencing is what the scholars refer to as qiyaas.
Validity of Qiyaas as Evidence
Almost all the scholars of Islam subscribe to the validity of qiyaas assource of evidence to be used in Shariah matters.However, the dhaahiriyyah (literalists) did not buy this view as they believe that qiyaas should not be used in the Shariah. The most prominent speaker against qiyaas from among the dhaairiyyah is Abu Muhammad Ali ibn Hazm al-Andalusi. However the scholars of Islam who accepts the use of qiyaas recorgnise that qiyaas only benefits preponderant dhann (hypothesis, thought) and not yaqeen (certainty). Similarly they also disagreed among themselves on some details. Insha Allaah, next edition we shall discuss in some details the argument of both the proponents and opponents of qiyaas.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited