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Home arrow Religion arrow Ethics in Islam: Friendship in the Political Thought of al-Taw??d? and his Contemporaries
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Who is eligible for Sadaqa in society?

The story of the true friendship between al-Sijistanl and Ibn Sayyar not only describes its own reality, but also educates al-Tawhldl’s audience in his vision of the world as expressed in the concept of sadaqa. The text sets its meaning in linking ethics to socio-political circumstances and the different strata in society. To show the societal context in which sadaqa could exist, friendship is discussed in terms of its relationship to different hierarchical forces, presenting a critical view of the moral states of these forces. Unlike Aristotle’s discussions of friendship as a form of relationship among family and others, in which all people participate, al-Tawhldl thinks that sadaqa requires higher moral qualities which not everyone in society possesses.

Endress argues that al-Sijistanl would have been wary of the use of philosophy as more than an object of contemplation.76 Although al-Sijistanl refers to the sublime role of philosophy, there is no clear evidence that he does not believe that philosophy could play a role in reforming society. Al-Tawhldl mentions a discussion by al-Sijistanl which, indeed, takes some interest in society.77 For example, as we have seen, al-Tawhldl certainly reports a view very different to his own concerning the value of philosophic and religious knowledge when al-Sijistanl states:

Philosophy (falsafa) is a right (haqq) but it has nothing to do with religious law (sharia), and religious law is a right (haqq) but it has nothing to do with philosophy. The keeper of religious law is the one who has been sent as a messenger, while the keeper of philosophy is a recipient (mab uthun ilayh). One of them is designated with revelation; while the other is designated with investigating it.78

Since al-Tawhldl believes more strongly than al-Sijistanl in the role of the philosopher in society, he may have developed these ideas further. In any event, the above quote attributed to al-Sijistanl, whether or not it comes from al-Sijistanl, shows how al-Tawhldl’s position differs from that of his teacher.

After establishing that sadaqa cannot, by its very nature, emerge out of desire or fear, al-Sijistanl examines the possibility of its existence among different societal groups, starting from the highest form of power governing society down to the lowest, in order to determine the identity of people eligible to form friendships, and the implications there of for society as a whole.79

 
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