Law & Ethics – Determining the Differences

This was a single lecture delivered by Ustad Soroush Mahallati at Muassaseh Miftah-e Keramat on Wednesday, December 6th, 2023. The topic of the discussion is was differentiating between jurisprudential and ethical propositions, and whether such a distinction is possible or not. In the last few decades, several scholars in Iran have brought up this subject and a few have even published works on it, such as Munasibat-e Fiqh wa Akhlaq written by Shaykh Muhammad Hidayati in which he not only attempts to trace the time era where distinction between these two propositions became prominent but also discusses the inter-relationship of them.

I have not translated the footnotes for this paper. They can be read here in the original Farsi transcript.


Law & Ethics – Determining the Differences

There are seven perspectives to this discussion and inquiry:

  1. Jurisprudential and ethical rulings from the perspective of their subject matter, in that ethics is concerned with human spiritual virtues, while jurisprudence pays attention to human behaviours and actions.
  2. From the perspective of the category of ruling, in that ethics mostly has an advisory aspect, while jurisprudence has a mandatory aspect.
  3. From the perspective of reasoning and justification; ethics is based on rational rulings, while jurisprudence is based on transmitted evidence, and from this perspective, ethics is considered a supra-religious discipline, while jurisprudence is a religious science.
  4. From the perspective of differences in implementation; ethics does not have external enforcement, while jurisprudence, like law, can be enforced.
  5. Ghazali says, there is a distinction from the perspective of the scope of impact; as jurisprudence is considered part of worldly discipline, while ethics is among the disciplines of the hereafter.
  6. From the perspective of intrinsic and instrumental value; ethics has intrinsic desirability because it leads humans to moral virtues and is valuable in itself, while jurisprudence is desirable instrumentally.
  7. From the perspective of these two differing in terms of being real or conventional. In other words, ethics deals with ontological realities, while jurisprudential propositions are conventional and constructed.

My point is not that these cases are proven, but rather that each of these perspectives is debatable; that is, when we talk about the distinction or lack of distinction between jurisprudential and ethical rulings, we must specify in which of these areas the discussion is taking place. In my opinion, we can give an opinion on the distinction or lack of distinction between jurisprudential and ethical rulings only when we conclude on these seven perspectives and perhaps some other perspectives as well. Therefore, we cannot expect to have a clear answer to the necessity or impossibility of distinction before examining these topics. Additionally, the complexity of this issue is because there is still no precise and standard definition of jurisprudence and ethics, and it is because of this ambiguity that the above seven aspects are a necessary prerequisite for clarifying the discussion and the related demarcations of their different areas.

Initially, I intended to briefly introduce the seven perspectives, but it occurred to me that this discussion is extensive and in a brief opportunity, it would cause ambiguity and lack of clarity on one hand, and on the other hand, some issues might not be properly articulated; therefore, I refrained from the initial plan and now, based on the same purpose and order mentioned, I will present some of the topics as time allows, and inevitably, most of these perspectives that I listed will not be discussed for now.

1) The Perspective of Jurisprudential and Ethical Rulings in Terms of the Category of the Rulings

The distinction in terms of the category of ruling, in the last century, is seen in the words of our jurists, and some of our great scholars have sometimes used the expression ‘whether a ruling is jurisprudential or ethical.’ What they mean by this term is whether it is obligatory to have a jurisprudential aspect or is it merely a recommendation to find an ethical aspect. Here, the ethical rulings, which are set against jurisprudential rulings, have non-mandatory aspects. This is a term that, as much as I have researched in the past, I have not found any evidence in the words of jurists or ethicists, but the expression ‘non-mandatory’ is very much used among recent scholars, and what they mean by it is unethical.

For example, the late Aqa Mirza Na’ini, in the discussion of the famous Prophetic narration ‘You and your wealth belong to your father,’ regarding the authority that a father can have over his child’s property, says:

کانت فی مقام حکم اخلاقیّ لا فقهیّ

‘This is an ethical ruling, but not a jurisprudential one.’

He then explains that the intent here is that the Prophet (p) advises children to consider their father as the authority over themselves and their property. However, this statement of the Prophet does not imply a legal command that the child is owned by the father or that the child’s property belongs to the father and he can dispose of it in any way he wants. This is the expression that Mirza Na’ini uses and places ‘ethics’ in contrast to ‘jurisprudence’ in the relationships between father and child.

Another example is a narration from Hisham b. Hakam, where the Imam (a) tells him:

وَ مِنْ‏ بِرِّ الْوَلَدِ بِأَبَوَيْهِ أَنْ لَايَصُومَ تَطَوُّعاً إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ أَبَوَيْه

‘Part of a child’s righteousness towards his parents is that he should not fast voluntarily without their permission.’

One of the instances of being good to one’s parents is that if a child wants to perform optional acts of worship like fasting, praying, or performing Hajj, which are not obligatory, he should have his parents’ permission. But does this mean that if he performs Hajj without the permission of his parents, his Hajj is invalid, his prayer is null, and he has committed a religious violation by obligation?

The late Sayyid Khu’i, in his jurisprudential discussions, has stated that:

و لا بدّ من حمل ذلک علی امر اخلاقیّ ادبیّ فلیست الروایۀ فی مقام بیان حکمٍ شرعیٍ

There is no choice but to predicate this report as a matter of morals and etiquette, and the report is not stating a legal ruling.

We should understand it to mean that it is better and appropriate for a child to consider the situation of his parents even in worship, let alone in other matters.

Positive Impact of Distinction

The examples given imply that sometimes interpreting a command from the Quran and Sunnah as an ethical ruling solves problems and reduces the limitations of considering it a jurisprudential ruling. For instance, if ‘You and your wealth belong to your father’ is interpreted as a jurisprudential ruling, it greatly restricts the child’s freedom, or in the matter of worship, ‘not without the permission of the parents’ creates many limitations; meaning, an ethical interpretation at least removes its obligation and makes it non-mandatory, which still retains encouragement and motivation while not being a mandatory restriction. This is very good and there is no problem if a jurist advocates for such a distinction. If we have this view in interpreting as an ethical matter and delve into some other rulings, it can solve dilemmas without the need to set aside textual evidence.

For example, in matters of husband and wife relations, in the authentic narration of Ibn Sinan, which the late Sahib al-‘Urwah has sometimes brought in his arguments, it is mentioned:

لَيْسَ لِلْمَرْأَةِ مَعَ زَوْجِهَا أَمْرٌ فِي عِتْقٍ وَ لَا صَدَقَةٍ وَ لَا تَدْبِيرٍ وَ لَا هِبَةٍ وَ لَا نَذْرٍ فِي مَالِهَا إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ زَوْجِهَ إِلَّا فِي زَكَاةٍ أَوْ بِرِّ وَالِدَيْهَا أَوْ صِلَةِ قَرَابَتِهَا

‘A married woman does not have the right to free a slave, give charity, make a vow, or give a gift from her property without her husband’s permission, except in the case of Zakat, kindness to her parents, or maintaining ties with her relatives.’

These few cases are exceptions, and of course, there is debate about their nature. One of the interpretations mentioned here is that we should interpret the husband’s permission as an ethical ruling; meaning, there should be such an atmosphere of intimacy between the wife and husband that the wife does not even use her legal and religious rights and privileges, and if she intends to give a gift or present, she discusses it with her husband to see if he agrees or not. This interpretation aims to show the utmost intimacy in the family environment, and of course, adherence to this matter requires evidence; meaning, the discussion is not about interpreting without reason, but when we realize that such a distinction is possible, we cannot use this narration for legal purposes to say that if she disposes of something without permission, her deeds are invalid and not enforceable, or that the woman has sinned.

The late Sayyid Khu’i in his commentary on this issue, states:

ظاهر الصحيحة بقرينة استثناء الحجّ و ما بعده أنّها في مقام بيان الكبرى الكليّة و هي المنع عن تصرّفات الزوجة في مالها إلّا بإذن زوجها، فلا بدّ من حملها على الجهة الأخلاقيّة

‘The apparent meaning of the authentic report, considering the exception of Hajj and what follows in the authentic narration, it is in the context of expressing a general prohibition on a wife’s transactions with her property without her husband’s permission. Therefore, it must be interpreted in an ethical aspect.’

Of course, such examples can be debated, but our discussion is not about the example per se, but rather about the attention to the fact that sometimes we distinguish between an ethical ruling and a jurisprudential ruling, and this distinction is great and there is no problem if someone says that it is an ethical advice, but not obligatory in terms of jurisprudential ruling.

In the issue of women’s covering and hijab, many jurists exempt the face and hands from this ruling and issue a fatwa permitting it. After passing the stage of exceptions of the face and hands from the obligation of covering, we encounter narrations that are strict and suggest absolute covering for women in terms of dress and even beyond that, in their interactions. For example, in Nahj al-Balagha, we find some narrations encouraging women to stay behind the veil, like in the advice to Imam al-Mujtaba (a) in letter 31:

وَ اكْفُفْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ بِحِجَابِكَ إيَّاهُنَّ؛ فَإنَّ شِدَّةَ الْحِجَابِ أَبْقَى عَلَيْهِنَّ وَ لَيْسَ خُرُوجُهُنَّ بِأَشَدَّ مِنْ إدْخَالِكَ مَنْ لَايُوثَقُ بِهِ عَلَيْهِنَّ؛ وَ إنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ أَنْ لَا يَعْرِفْنَ غَيْرَكَ فَافْعَلْ

‘Cover their eyes by keeping them under the veil because strictness of veiling keeps them for long. Their coming out is not worse than your allowing an unreliable man to visit them. If you can manage that they should not know anyone other than you, do so.’

What should be done with such narrations that indicate the less interaction between men and women, the better, and if a woman does not know any strange men at all, it is considered better? The late Shahid Mutahhari states:

‘These are ethical recommendations, and no one is obligated to follow them in terms of a mandatory religious ruling, and no jurist issues a fatwa on them. Of course, this ethical recommendation is considered wise advice and also deemed in the interest of welfare.”

Ayatollah Shubayri Zanjani expressed a similar view when I was studying Kitab al-Nikāḥ under him. We have narrations with different expressions, like:

إِنَّمَا النِّسَاءُ عِيٌ‏ وَ عَوْرَةٌ فَاسْتُرُوا الْعَوْرَةَ بِالْبُيُوت

‘Women are a powerless and a private matter, so cover the private matter with houses,’

Which suggests keeping women at home, but his interpretation there was that this ruling is not obligatory, and a woman leaving the house is not religiously forbidden. These narrations aim to convey an ethical ruling and are not related to mandatory religious obligations. He also stated elsewhere in this context: ‘Ethical recommendations should not be confused with mandatory jurisprudential rulings.’

This is an acceptable matter, although more work is required in order to identify its instances, so that it does not become subjective, where we arbitrarily take whatever we want to the ethical realm and consider it non-mandatory, and whatever we prefer to the jurisprudential realm and declare it mandatory. This matter should be systematic and also have reasoning, but the principle of this distinction in the first place seems inevitable.

Here we face two questions:

1. Why has ethics been reduced to mere recommendations, and when jurists place ethics in contrast to jurisprudence, do they mean it as a suggestion? Can’t there be mandatory rulings in ethics?

The answer is that mandatory rulings are also possible in ethics, and ethical rulings are not always just recommendations but also include obligations. Ethical obligations encompass those that, if not observed, can lead to condemnation or punishment and take on a mandatory aspect. If jurists mean that there is no obligation in ethics at all, this is not acceptable, but, in this context, given the contrast, that is not what they mean; that is, ethical rulings can also be obligatory. So, in examining the words of jurists, this point should be considered. Of course, if we accept that ethical rulings can also be obligatory, then we must explain what is the difference between ethical obligations and jurisprudential obligations?

2. Why and how are some of these rulings reduced from jurisprudential obligation to ethical recommendation, and the obligation is removed from them?

If this matter does not have a clear criterion, it can lead to undesirable outcomes. I am not in a position to diminish the stature of the great scholars, but as an example, I will mention some cases.

Consequences of the First Perspective

In jurisprudence, as mentioned in the Kitab al-Zakat by the late author of al-‘Urwah, it is discussed that when Zakat is due on someone’s personal property, whether it is widespread or specific to certain items, who has the choice to select what is to be given as Zakat, such as wheat, barley, or sheep? The late Sayyid says,

الخیار للمالک لا الساعی و لا الفقیر

‘The choice belongs to the owner, not the tax collector or the poor person entitled to receive it.’

However, jurists, in discussing the evidence for this ruling and why the choice is in the hands of the owner, present various reasons leading to this authentic narration from Imam Sadiq, which is considered a directive from Imam Ali in Nahj al-Balagha, mentioned in letter 25, where it states, ‘Amir al-Mu’minin used to write to whoever he appointed for the collection of zakat and charities…’

The letter continues,

Then salute them and do not be remiss in greeting them, then say to them, “O servants of Allah, the vicegerent of Allah and His caliph has sent me to you to collect from you Allah’s share in your properties. Is there anything of His share in your properties? If so, give it to His vicegerent.” If someone among them says “No”, then do not repeat the demand. If someone speaks to you in the affirmative, then go with him without frightening him, threatening him, pressuring him or oppressing him. Take what he gives you such as gold or silver (coins). If he has cattle or camels do not enter upon them save with his permission, because their major part is his. Therefore, when you get there do not enter upon them like one who has full control over them or in a violent manner. Do not scare any animal, do not tease anyone and do not let the owner feel grieved about anyone. Divide the property into two parts and let the owner choose one. When he has chosen do not object to it. Then divide the remaining into two parts and let him choose one and when he has chosen do not raise any objection.

This is the instruction that Imam Ali (a) gave to the Zakat collectors. Sayyid Radhi, in quoting this instruction, says, ‘We have recorded a few portions of it here to show that he always erected the pillars of right and created examples of justice in all matters, small or big, delicate or serious.

Can it be said that this method of tax collection is an ethical recommendation and should be separated from jurisprudence? How can we do so, considering the context of the statement, its continuity, and the attention given to its implementation? Moreover, it is mentioned in the authentic narration from Imam Sadiq (a) in al-Kafi that he (a) started crying. What kind of tragedy is this that warrants crying? What kind of crying is this when he says, ‘O Burayd, by Allah, no sanctity remains for Allah except that it is violated. Which command has not been neglected? What remains of this world? All these prayers, fasting, Hajj, and Quran recitation were there, this was the visible religion, and religious symbols were everywhere, but the Prophet (p) swore that the Book of Allah is not being followed in this world. Then he said, ‘Nothing of the laws of justice is maintained in this world after the passing away of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s). Nothing of the laws of truth has ever since been followed‘.

Now, if you refer to Kitab al-Zakat by one of the great scholars, may God have mercy on him, continuing the discussion under the words of the late Sayyid, without paying attention to the beginning of Sayyid’s statement, the content of this command, and Imam Sadiq’s crying, he says this is an ethical directive. That is, the government can be Islamic and tear up and discard this order. It means doing what was done during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, which Imam Sadiq (a) cried over, saying that nothing of the religion remains. He means that now, with any language and method, action can be taken. This is not a permanent directive but an ethical one. It does not indicate the obligation to observe it for everyone addressed by it.

You see, initially, we thought that by distinguishing between ethical and jurisprudential rulings, we were solving problems. But now we realize that with this distinction, what problems we are adding and what situations we are creating? A situation where the obligation is removed from just social rulings!

Meritocracy in the Realm of Ethics or Jurisprudence?

Another example is the statement of Amir al-Mu’minin (a) in the Treaty of Malik al-Ashtar regarding judges and the qualities that should be considered in selecting a judge. However, these qualities and conditions are completely absent in our jurisprudence, and no one has mentioned them. Amir al-Mu’minin also said, ‘Choose the most virtuous of your subjects for judging and arbitration.’ Where is this mentioned in jurisprudence? This is a command from the Imam and should form the basis of deriving rulings, leading to the conclusion that a judge should not only be the most knowledgeable but also the most virtuous.

In the discussion of Taqlid, there is no clear textual evidence for superiority and knowledgeability, but here Amir al-Mu’minin has said to choose the most virtuous and deserving, as they will have authority over people’s property, honour, and lives. A single word written by this person can turn people’s lives upside down and lead to executions; therefore, it is not a trivial matter, and the most deserving individuals should be selected. However, this scholar in his discussion says that what the Imam has stated is from ethical rulings and recommendations that have desirability but no obligation in them; meaning, individuals who lack even the minimum qualifications are selected despite the presence of more deserving and qualified individuals.

Initially, after the victory of the revolution, when Imam Khomeini wanted to choose the head of the judicial system, which at that time included the Supreme Court and the Attorney General of the country, the general perception and understanding were that when Imam Khomeini chose Shahid Beheshti, he chose the most virtuous of the candidates; meaning, among all those who were capable of this task, he chose the best available. This was based on a command and should indeed be so, but why do we encounter problems in practice? Because its foundations are not thoroughly examined; that is, some of what we have in our sources plays a fundamental role in reforming society and, in a way, can be said to define the model of an Islamic society based on these characteristics. However, we have considered them ethical, not jurisprudential; that is, we have not deemed them obligatory but merely preferable. By stamping these kinds of directives with an ethical seal, we are removing meritocracy from governance.

The Rights of Muslims Towards Each Other

Another example is the collection of narrations about the rights of brethren, which are diverse and have various expressions, such as ‘helping a believer,’ ‘relieving his distress,’ ‘fulfilling his need,’ and ‘advising him.’ However, one of the scholars in his book of jurisprudence has written that ‘all that is mentioned about the rights of brethren is to be interpreted in ethical terms,’ meaning they are all considered ethical.

The question then is, what is unethical about them? This is because if someone greets you, you must respond to their greeting, as it is obligatory in Sharia, ‘since no one has committed to its obligation in other aspects.’ Why have all these rulings been swept under the rug of ethics, leaving these human relationships, especially among Muslims in an Islamic society and other societies, indistinguishable? What are these rights? Their answer is: These are ethical matters that have no obligation in their realization, and their non-realization is not significantly important and does not diminish a person’s faith or commitment. This is why some criticize the ‘jurisprudential society’ and say that such a society, from an ethical perspective, is minimal.

May God have mercy on Aqa Mohammad Reza Hakimi. I disagree with some of his views, but one of the issues that he repeatedly emphasized (perhaps dozens of times) in his book al-Hayat is that he constantly brings narrations about the living conditions of people, justice, and the like, and then sees that they are not mentioned in jurisprudence, not systematized, and not used as a basis for derivation. Therefore, he says: Why have you included all these narrations in the ethical section? Here, I have noted more than ten instances from his discussions under the narrations that are interpreted as ethical, meaning the obligation is removed from them.

For example, in one place, after quoting some narrations, he says: ‘A large part of Islamic principles and teachings are sidelined as ethical issues.’ Or after quoting a narration in the discussion of hoarding, he writes: ‘Do not turn this teaching and the like into ethical concepts that have no guarantee for their implementation. The Prophet condemned hoarding in this way, and we do not establish any law to prevent hoarding, nor do we fight against those who usurp people’s property in the name of legitimate trade and commerce.

This collection itself merits a serious examination to determine whether we can so easily remove the obligation from these rulings and turn them into recommendations.

2) The Perspective of the Subject Matter of Ethics and Jurisprudence

The second distinction in jurisprudence and ethics arises from the fact that, as some of our great scholars have stated, ethics pertains to internal (spiritual) qualities and dispositions, while jurisprudence focuses on human behaviors and external aspects. Ethics seeks to cultivate ethical virtues and qualities, whereas jurisprudence looks at the external aspect of a person and their actions. The late Aqa Naraqi’s expression in his magnum opus Jami’ al-Sa’adat indicates that he has distinguished between jurisprudence and ethics: ‘The science of ethics is the knowledge of the salvation of the soul and its happiness, and the things that lead to its elevation and perfection, as well as what causes its degradation.’ Then he states: ‘The science of jurisprudence is the knowledge of how to perform acts of worship and transactions,‘ which includes human behaviours in the areas of worship and transactions, telling a person how they should act. With this distinction, the nature of the propositions also becomes entirely different. If we discuss virtues like chastity, courage, honesty, trustworthiness, and other human soul qualities, it is an ethical discussion, but the discussion of behaviours (acts of worship and transactions) falls under the realm of jurisprudence.

Shahid Mutahhari in his collection Introduction to Islamic Sciences states that the entirety of Islamic teachings is divided into three parts: a) Beliefs, i.e., issues and knowledge that need to be recognized, believed in, and have faith in, b) Ethics, i.e., issues and instructions about ‘how to be’ in terms of spiritual qualities and moral traits, such as justice, piety, and courage, c) Jurisprudence, i.e., issues related to action and what actions should be performed and how; including prayers, fasting, marriage, divorce, and inheritance distribution. He then states:

‘The science responsible for the first section is theology; the science that takes care of the second section is called ethics, and the science that is responsible for the third section is known as jurisprudence.”

Critique of the Second Perspective

This is an opinion that has been prevalent among scholars, academics, and our great figures. Here, a couple of points are worth discussing:

  1. Do these spiritual qualities, which these great figures have mentioned and stated to fall within the realm of ethics, reach the level of rational obligation (intellectual necessity) or not?

2) If they reach the level of rational obligation, do rational obligations necessitate Shar’i legal rulings or not?

If we accept that firstly, there is a rational obligation, and secondly, the rational obligation is consistent with Shar’i ruling, the result is that the gap between jurisprudence and ethics is bridged. Indeed, an ethicist talks about ethical virtues and human spiritual perfections, but here too, there is a discussion of a type of obligation that says a person should acquire these perfections and free themselves from destructive traits.

‘Allama Tabatabai has articulated this well in his al-Mizan. His overall view is that jurisprudence provides a foundation for citizens in society to attain ethical virtues and move from practical rulings to ethics. Although ethics, being those spiritual and psychological perfections, does not directly have an external guarantor of implementation, it is indirectly under human control, as these qualities can be acquired and attained through repeated action. Thus, when these qualities become a matter of choice, they can also be subject to obligation. This obligation towards ethical virtues is achieved through obligation towards their foundations and prerequisites. When it becomes subject to obligation, it implies that if someone does not acquire these qualities, they can be held accountable, and the distinction and demarcation here become very minimal.

فإن الأحكام العملية إذا عمل بها و روقبت وتحفظ عليها ساق المجتمع إلى أخلاق وأوصاف مناسبة لها

If the practical rulings are acted upon, observed, and preserved, they lead society to ethics and suitable characteristics for it,’ as ‘Allama says. Practical rulings and what is in jurisprudence, if acted upon, pull society towards ethics. Of course, every behaviour has its corresponding ethics; that is, not every behaviour leads to any kind of ethics. To determine how behaviours are, we can judge and evaluate the behaviour itself and also assess its ethical outcomes to see what the state of ethics is in society and from there deduce what the actions are like.

Anyhow, he continues to say:

These virtuous ethics, even though they are spiritual qualities and cannot be enforced in society as non-voluntary traits without intermediaries – you cannot appoint police for these qualities – they are internal and not under anyone’s control. However, since their realization follows the repetition of actions prescribed by the rulings in society, or the repetition of non-compliance with these actions, the very act of complying with these rulings guarantees their implementation. If someone engages in these actions, it is necessarily a guarantor of implementation and achieving them. Now, if the prerequisites are voluntary, the end goals become voluntary too. Now, the virtues that were mentioned and exemplified, like courage, chastity, and justice as psychological qualities, can be subject to obligation.

He says that it is conceivable to have rational commands related to these virtuous ethics and prohibitions that deter vices, like cowardice, recklessness, lethargy, gluttony, and injustice, and so on. Then he discusses what rational commands are and their nature.

Therefore, firstly: these qualities are under human control; secondly: they have the potential to be obligatory by our intellect to acquire them. Now, what is the problem with these rational obligations accompanying the obligatory jurisprudential Sharia rulings? That is, having obligations both to the actions and to the ethical goals of those actions. And conversely, having mandatory obligations to avoid ethical vices?

Aqa Sha’rani had specific insights and points under the verses and narrations. In his commentary, Rawḍ al-Jinān under the verse from Surah al-Qasas related to the story of Qarun, discusses a matter. It is clear who Qarun is, but if there are people who think like Qarun or aspire to be like him, and Qarun is their role model, the noble verse warns them of punishment for such desires and inclinations. Aqa Sha’rani under this verse states:

The belief of some that ethical issues do not have obligatory or prohibitive aspects is incorrect. Many people say that there is no obligation or prohibition in ethical duties, and this verse refutes them; because if desiring wealth like Qarun’s was not forbidden, then this verse, which says some people have such desires to amass wealth like Qarun, would not imply they deserve divine punishment.

Here, a bridge and connection are established, and based on the initial analysis, jurisprudence and ethics were completely separated; ethics related to the internal and jurisprudence to the external, and ethics were excluded from the realm of command and order in jurisprudence. Based on this foundation, these two are interconnected and fused together.

I conclude the discussion with a point from our esteemed teacher, Ayatollah Shubayri Zanjani. In the jurisprudential discussion of Kitab al-Nikah, there are narrations, one of which is the sahiha of Hafs al-Bakhtari that says:

لَايَنْبَغِي لِلْمَرْأَةِ أَنْ تَنْكَشِفَ بَيْنَ يَدَيِ‏ الْيَهُودِيَّةِ وَ النَّصْرَانِيَّةِ فَإِنَّهُنَّ يَصِفْنَ ذَلِكَ لِأَزْوَاجِهِنَّ

‘It is not appropriate for a Muslim woman to reveal herself in front of Jewish and Christian women because they describe her to their husbands’

As they have no inhibition in recounting and describing the physical characteristics of uncovered Muslim women, which can lead to corruption for Muslim women.

Sayyid Khu’i has a discussion here about the phrase ‘It is not appropriate for a woman’ and whether or not it implies prohibition, which is not our current topic of discussion. However, ultimately, he states that this act is not haram nor even makruh; because this has an ethical advisory aspect to prevent such corruption. Here, our discussion is not about specific cases, but rather my point is about interpreting these texts as guiding toward an ethical matter.

Sayyid Shubayri Zanjani engages with Sayyid Khu’i about why this is considered an ethical ruling and what rationale could be conceived for it. If it is ethical, what prevents it from also being a jurisprudential ruling? Is there a problem with it being ethical and also having a jurisprudential ruling? This is the very matter we were discussing: how is this connection established? Ayatollah Zanjani’s statement and his critique of Ayatollah Khu’i, questioning why if something has an ethical aspect, it cannot also have a jurisprudential ruling, is as follows:

‘Intellect is one of the four sources of jurisprudence, and according to the law of association, the ruling of the intellect reveals the jurisprudential ruling. When the intellect perceives the ugliness of something, for example, considering injustice as reprehensible, it also acquires a jurisprudential prohibition. It should not be said that since the intellect has ruled on the ugliness of injustice, then injustice does not have a jurisprudential prohibition. No, the intellect rules on the ugliness, and then there is also a jurisprudential ruling for injustice, just as it is for causing harm, which the intellect finds reprehensible. Therefore, the advisory nature of a ruling from the perspective of intellect should not be interpreted as negating the jurisprudential ruling; rather, the jurisprudential ruling is concomitant with it.’

What is mentioned in this critique is that if we hypothetically have an intellectual ruling, what prevents it from being the basis for a jurisprudential ruling and reaching a jurisprudential ruling based on the rule of association?

It seems that if we want to discuss the second basis for distinguishing between ethics and jurisprudence, one part of it is whether this basis itself is correct, that is, to confine ethics to the discussion of virtues and to exclude ethical values and propositions from the science of ethics. This exclusive association of ethics with internal virtues and qualities, in my opinion, is not acceptable.

The second point is that even if we discuss internal virtues and speak of vices, these virtues and vices can be the subject of a jurisprudential ruling. Given that their prerequisites are a matter of choice, a person can be obligated to avoid a vice or obliged to acquire a virtue. In this case, the issue of distinction, as initially conceived based on the late Naraghi, does not find a place.

These were briefly two of the seven perspectives mentioned.