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THE INTERDICTION OF THE SPENDTHRIFT (AL-SAFĪH): A HUMAN RIGHTS DEBATE IN CLASSICAL FIQH

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A semantic equivalence between the Qur'ānic terms safīh and mubadhdhir underlies classical Islamic law's interdiction (hajr) of the spendthrift. The Qur'ān, however, is not explicit in endorsing the semantic equivalence of these two terms. To bridge this semantic gap, Muslim jurists exploited an opposition in Arabic usage between safah and rushd, extending the meaning of safīh from "one who lacks judgment" to "one who squanders his wealth". Subsequently, the safīh became the object of disagreement among the Hanafī master jurists: Abū Hanīfa placed a greater value on the sane adult's legal autonomy than on the preservation of his wealth; Abū Yūsuf and al-Shaybānī (together with Mālik, al-Shāfi ī and the Hanbalīs) held for the restriction of the adult prodigal's legal capacity. Ibn Hazm revived Abū Hanīfa's position by undertaking a lexicographical critique of the metaphorical extension of the meaning of safīh and by upholding the Muslim ideal of modest living.

Affiliations: 1: Independent Scholar, Beirut

10.1163/156851900507661
/content/journals/10.1163/156851900507661
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/content/journals/10.1163/156851900507661
2000-10-01
2016-12-08

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