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Open Access What We Know about Maʿrūf

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What We Know about Maʿrūf

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Conventionally, Qurʾānic ethics is derived from the Qurʾān and Prophetic ḥadīth, (along with certain rules of application) to form norms of moral conduct—sharīʿah. This paper argues that a study of the term maʿrūf, (meaning literally, “known”) which occurs in three contexts in the Qurʾān, suggests that the Qurʾān itself assumes that revelational knowledge is to be supplemented with conventional moral understandings of what is right and wrong.Aside from one set of usages that seem to mean “candor” in the making of commitments, the emphatic summons to “do the maʿrūf” does not stipulate what that “known” thing is. The implication is that one knows, from social conventions and moral intuitions extrinsic to revelation, what to do. It follows then that “Islamic ethics” ought to be composed of revelational sources, supplemented by the moral knowledge of Muslims at any given time and in any given place.

Affiliations: 1: Dartmouth College a.kevin.reinhart@dartmouth.edu

10.1163/24685542-12340004
/content/journals/10.1163/24685542-12340004
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Conventionally, Qurʾānic ethics is derived from the Qurʾān and Prophetic ḥadīth, (along with certain rules of application) to form norms of moral conduct—sharīʿah. This paper argues that a study of the term maʿrūf, (meaning literally, “known”) which occurs in three contexts in the Qurʾān, suggests that the Qurʾān itself assumes that revelational knowledge is to be supplemented with conventional moral understandings of what is right and wrong.Aside from one set of usages that seem to mean “candor” in the making of commitments, the emphatic summons to “do the maʿrūf” does not stipulate what that “known” thing is. The implication is that one knows, from social conventions and moral intuitions extrinsic to revelation, what to do. It follows then that “Islamic ethics” ought to be composed of revelational sources, supplemented by the moral knowledge of Muslims at any given time and in any given place.

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/content/journals/10.1163/24685542-12340004
2017-07-27
2017-12-15

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