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On Schacht’s Theory Regarding Shafi’ee and the Role of Hadeeth in Islamic law: Repelling Revisionist Misundertsandings on Hadeeth and Maalik’s Legal Theory of Amaal Ahlul-Medina

Bismillahi ar-Rahman ar-Raheem

Fundamentally, all of the groups of hadeeth rejectionism, from the progressives, modernist, and revisionist, are similarly united in their attempt to discredit hadeeth (the articulation of the sunnah in speech, action, or approval) as being the legal authority in Islam that it has been understood by Muslims for 14 centuries including to the companions. One of the most “academic” of their approaches to fulfill the execution of rendering the second half of the Islamic revelation to Muhammad as obsolete is regarding a study of an orientalist work famously known as Joseph Schacht.

What is known of Schacht, or what Muslim scholarship has derived from his research, is mainly the blunders he has made in what he has deduced as the formulation of fiqh, and hadeeth studies. He has been superbly slaughtered in the field of academics by Shaykh Mustapha al-Adawi.

In this topic for today, we will review some of his deductions regarding Shafi’ee’s fiqh, particularly his “canonization” of hadeeth into Islamic law, mostly, based on his misrepresentation and his errors in how he understands Imaam Maalik’s legal theory. However, my criticism is not really geared towards Schacht himself per se, but to the revisionist who seek to justify their school of thought as Islamic under the blunders of orientalists. Schacht’s words are highlighted in italics for easier material recognition.

Blunder 1:
Let us consider the broad outlines of the reasoning by which we can arrive at the new approach to Islamic traditions which I have in mind. Volume VII of the printed edition of Shafi’i’s Kitab al-Umm contains several treatises in which Shafi’i discusses the doctrines of his predecessors: Iraqians, Medinese, and Syrians. Widely as these ancient schools of law differ amongst themselves, they are agreed on one essential point, which divides them sharply from Shafi’i. According to the ancient schools, traditions from the Prophet as such do not as yet possess an overriding authority;

Schacht here completely reversed what actually happened. What actually happened is that the beginning rift INITIALLY was take up by two main proponents. They were Abu Haneefa and Abu Bakr al-Awzaa’ee, and if any of you know fiqh and usoolul-fiqh, Awzaa’ee, in fact most of the imaams of that time, were schools in and of themselves. So the Islamic world did not have four, it had over a hundred. Layth Bin S’ad was considered among the Imaams greater than Maalik, but thats neither here nor there. What happened was that Awzaa’ee, took on the methodology of what came to be known as ahlul-hadeeth methodology and Abu Haneefa became the emodiment of what became known as Ahlul-ra’i (people of opinion). When this happened, the WHOLE of the Ummah sided with the ahlul-hadeeth methodology and the ONLY ones to have sided with ahlul-ra’i were known as “ashaab Abu Haneefa” and they were depicted by the fuqaha as “the school of kufa” So according to what actually happaned, everyone agreed to the matter that traditions form the prophet was already the over-rding authority. The first to question this came from the ahlul-ra’i. So Schacht actually got it backwards.

How does this relate to revisionist ideals?

Schacht presumes that the normative environment of early Islam was that hadeeth were NOT the authoritative source of law as is professed later on and that Shafi’ee is the one who began this process. What revisionist utilize from this inherent blunder from Schacht is that the”real Islam” is the liberalism that flourished before Shafi’ee “hindered” and “narrowed” Islam into the realm of Hadeeth. The reason why Schacht is wrong, and likewise the revisionist who agree with his theory, is because they ultimately flipped the atmospheric layout of the early Muslim community. In reality, it was Hadeeth that virtually made the early period of Islam. In other words, the period before Shafi’ee where revisionist believe there were elements or it was rife with liberal thought was in actuality the prominence of hadeeth in the thought of early Muslims. All that Shafi’ee did was to codify that already existent methodology because two errors were commited by previous Imaams, albeit minor errors in thought, nevertheless they were not as credible as Shafi’ees code. The two errors were Abu Haneefa’s reliance on ra’i (opinion) more so than textual evidence, and Maalik’s view of the Amaal (actions) of Ahlul-Medina (the Residents of Medina during the era of the companions and the successors). These were acceptable forms of legal theory, but there were inherent flaws in them which will be highlighted later on inshallah on Maalik’s principle of Amaal Ahlul-Medina.
Blunder 2:

It is certain, too, that the great mass of legal traditions which invoke the authority of the Prophet, originated in the time of Shafi’i and later; we can observe this directly by following the successive stages of legal discussion and the ever-increasing number of relevant traditions incorporating gradual refinements

I think it was easy for him to make these blunders because in order to comment accurately on the subject, one not only has to be aquainted with fiqh and usoolul-fiqh, but the various sciences of hadeeth.

the reason for the traditions being compiled to works has nothing to do with sachts theory. Here, his statement implies that the only reason for this phenomenon was due to Shafi’ees doctrine laid in Kitab al-Umm, which is why he made the blunder from two aspects

A.the first blunder is because he fails to, or has not learn the eras of hadeeth compilation. Hadeeth compilation began at the ORDER of the prophet himself which is why the Ummah has agreed among its specialist that the prophet ordering the companions to write hadeeth aborgate the initial order to prohibit from writing them down. The compilation of hadeeth comes in several stages. In the time of the prophet and up until the first century, the compilation of hadeeth were brought in the form of saheefa. That is why we have multitudes of hadeeth books in the form of saheefa early on, but most people who don;t know hadeeth simply do not know that. When Maalik arrives on the scene that is when the jurist (who were also hufaadh) left the saheefa forms of compilation and began to compile musnaads. Everything in this stage became “just copy everything down” and this is how it literally happened. So the compilations of hadeeth actually have a style that sacht fails to present and they are also disconnected from anything of the legal theory. I think one of the fundamentals of sachts blunders is because he seperated between the fuqaha and the traditionalist hadeth masters when in reality, they were all one. Maalik was the Imaam of Hadeeth and the Imaam if legal theory. Shafi’ee was the Imaam of hadeeth and the Imaam of legal theory, Ahmad was the Imaam of hadeeth and the Imaam of legal theory, Awzaa’ee was the Imaam of hadeeth and the imaam of legal theory, Abu Thawr was the Imaam of hadeeth and the imaam of legal theory, Fudayl ibn Iyaad was the Imaam of hadeethand the imaam of legal theory, Ibraheem an-Nakha’ee was the Imaam of Hadeeth and the Imaam of Legal theory, Abu Ubayd al-Qaasim was the Imaam of Hadeeth and an Imaam in legal theory, al-Bukharee was an Imaam of hadeeth and an Imaam of legal theory (Sahih al-Bukharee, a lot of people do not know is a fiqh book). Muslim was an Imaam in Hadeeth and a Imaam of legal theory, so was Abu Saud, an-Nasaa’ee, Tirmidhee, Layth Bin S’ad, Darimee Abu Zurah, Abu Haatim, and the list goes on and on.

B. The second blunder is because he failed to grasp the reason for Shafi’ees al-Umm. The Kitaab al-Umm was to detail how fiqh should be derived. This was a kind of rebuttal of the ahlul-ra’i style of derivation of law, WHY? because the style of ahlul-hadeeth was to examine the rulings of Abu Haneefa and the like and then to find a reason for them whereas the ahlul-hadeeth approach as documented by Shafi’ee (thereby earning the credit for himself by the unaware) was to formulate the principles as the derived law, and then to deduce the rulings from them.

Blunder 3:
It can further be shown that legal traditions from the Prophet began to appear, approximately, in the second quarter of the second century A.H.. This explains why the doctrine of Medina as established by Malik in his Muwatta’, disagrees often with traditions from the Prophet with Medinese isnads, related by Malik himself.

For some reason, Schacth fails to see the actuality of the variance. If one studies the seerah of the sahaba and the beginning of hadeeth oration, an essential point that we come to understand is that not every companion learned the sunnah of the prophet alaihi slatu salam IN FULL. This is why we have many incidents where Umar ibnul-Khattab questioned Abu Musa al-Ash’ari and others because they knew a tradition that everyone knew but he himself did not know because he was not there at the time of narrating from the prophet. So we know, as hadeeth students that the only companion to have learned a great portion of the sunnah was Abu Huraira. Otherwise, Not all of the sahaba were not aware of every hadeth. This is why the ulema say that their perfection was attained because they were complimentary to each other. This is why we find alot in their storied that whenever 2 of them had a dilema, the third person among them had the solution because the third person had a direct hadeeth form the prophet that the other two companions did not know, and all three would act on it.

When one knows this reality, it is also combined with the historical knowledge that when the futuhaat started to happen, the companions became dispersed, and along with them, some of the traditions and practices of the prophet WENT WITH THEM to those places. When this happened, the approach of the scholars of hadeeth was more reasonable than the approach of Maaliks theory of the Medina only concept, because the approach of the rest of the jurists was that we are not to loose a tradition on the basis that the people of medina did not do because they incorperated the historical fact that many of the companions dispersed in the Islamic world.

With that being said, a student of hadeeth and knowledge would know this, but as is natural, Schacht got it wrong, and because he got it wrong, he formulated an impression that these traditions that came from other places like Iraq were actually concepts that came from those peoples rather than the fact that the companions in that area taught the people living in that area something that the companions in medina did not know.

This is why the madhaab of the ahlul-hadeeth compensates for the strengths of each madhaab and synchronizes them from the flaws that they have. So from one angle, Maaliks theory of amal ahlul-madina makes sense, but from another angle it does not make sense. In essence, it is acceptable and can be used, but at the same time, it has flaws which is why his theory was not made as a primal source for judging hadeeth EVEN THOUGH Imaam Maalik was the Imaam of the Ahlul-hadeeth carrying the baton from Abu Bakr al-Awzaa’ee.

All of the above reveals why he made this following blunder

These traditions sometimes express Iraqian doctrines and for this reason alone cannot represent the old Arab customary law of Medina as has been pretended.

anyways to continue

Blunder 4:

This is the first consideration; the second is as follows. In the course of his polemics against the ancient schools of law, Shafi’i continuously reproaches them for relying on traditions from persons other than the Prophet,

I don’t even know for sure that he even represented Shafi’ee’s position correctly when he says he reproached the ancient schools (which he does not define what ancient schools, I think he is referring to the ahlul-hadeeth here).

I’ll have to check this, but if Schacht meant that Shafi’ee reproached the ahlul-hadeeth, I don’t believe  this is sound because the approach of ahlul-hadeeth in using the athar (narrations of other than the prophet) of the companions and the tabi’ieen (successors of the companions) was to visualize the reality of the opinions or rulings of Allah and His Messenger. In other words the athaar were adopted, not as a source, but as an explanatory source for how the source (the law) was applied, and by doing this, it gave the ahlul-hadeeth a more cognitive vision of how the textual reports on law were to be enacted. And from this angle, I highly doubt that Shafi’ee was reproaching the ahlul-hadeeth, which could only mean that when Schacht says “ancient schools” that he is talking about the ahlul-ra’i. But if that is the case, then that is another blunder because the ahlul-ra’i were not so ancient. It is the ahlul-ra’i that came out of the ahlu-hadeeth.

Blunder 5:

Let us consider the broad outlines of the reasoning by which we can arrive at the new approach to Islamic traditions which I have in mind. Volume VII of the printed edition of Shafi’i’s Kitab al-Umm contains several treatises in which Shafi’i discusses the doctrines of his predecessors: Iraqians, Medinese, and Syrians. Widely as these ancient schools of law differ amongst themselves, they are agreed on one essential point, which divides them sharply from Shafi’i. According to the ancient schools, traditions from the Prophet as such do not as yet possess an overriding authority; only Shafi’i, obviously under the influence of the pressure group of traditionists, upholds consistently the doctrine that when there exists a tradition from the Prophet, no other argument is valid. Shaf’i’s work is full of monotonous repetitions of this essential doctrine of his, and it is clear that this doctrine was a startling innovation in his time.

1- The schools of the different cities of Islam base their school of thought to a Sahabi or a group of Sahabis who moved to the city. This basis is not against hadeeth. Why? because in the assumption of the school of that city is this: This Sahabi learned the religion from the prophet, therefore what he decides is based on that knowledge which he learnt from the prophet (pbuh).. That is why the point of Shafii could not be refuted by any of the schools and they all had to abide by his decision somewhat. Why? because he said: Take knowledge directly from the authority and not indirectly from a Sahabi.

2- The Qur’an is with Shafii. The aya “And if you differ in something then return to Allah and his messenger”. So, the Qur’an says that the messenger and Allah is the ultimate arbiter.

Blunder 6:

It is certain, too, that the great mass of legal traditions which invoke the authority of the Prophet, originated in the time of Shafi’i and later; we can observe this directly by following the successive stages of legal discussion and the ever-increasing number of relevant traditions incorporating gradual refinements. It can further be shown that legal traditions from the Prophet began to appear, approximately, in the second quarter of the second century A.H.. This explains why the doctrine of Medina as established by Malik in his Muwatta’, disagrees often with traditions from the Prophet with Medinese isnads, related by Malik himself. These traditions sometimes express Iraqian doctrines and for this reason alone cannot represent the old Arab customary law of Medina as has been pretended.6 They had gained currency in Medina immediately before Malik and are the result of the activity of a pressure group of traditionists, whose alms were the same as those of a corresponding group in Iraq, each group in sometimes successful and sometimes unsuccessful opposition to its local school of law.

1- The first assumption is wrong. There was Zuhri in Medina who basically collected many collections of the hadeeth. Sufian Thawri from Kufa, Sufian in uyayna in Mecca and later in Basra, Layth bin Saad in Egypt and Awzai in Damascus. All where much earlier and precede Shafii.

2- It is a misrepresentation of the Maliki school. The maliki school simply says this:
The works of the people of Medina, at the time of Imam Malik, has a continuous unbroken link to the prophet. Therefore we assume that it best reflects what the prophet did and said.

So, Imam Malik did not distrust Hadeeth. He however, correctly at times, considered that the work of the people of Medina is a stronger hadeeth, than the hadeeth that came to him by mouth, therefore he chose to disregard the hadeeth or limit it’s application.

Here is an example: Imam Malik saw that dogs roam in Medina and go in and out of the Masjid and do their business. So, he considered that dogs are not unclean in opposition to the other schools. Did Malik reject the hadeeth that says that if the dog drinks from a vessel then you have to clean it seven times? No he accepted it and worked with it. However, he limited it’s application to that, while other schools took that application of the hadeeth much further.

3- However, the works of the people of Medina do not become a rule when the action is not something that occurrs frequently. Why? because you cannot assume that the actions of the people of Medina go back to the prophet, unless it is qualified by the elite of those in knowledge from the people of medina.

Correcting the Revisionist Rhetorical Claims to Imaam Maalik’s legal theory on Amaal Ahlul-Medina.

We have already clarified the issue with Shafi’ee. Now it is imperative to clarify the issue with Maalik. In order to make the reader understand the polemic before I continue, what revisionist particularly love about Maalik’s theory of using the actions of the people of Medina as a primary source is that according to their corrupted thought, they assumed that Maalik’s theory is based on a type of hadeeth rejectionism, which is a methodology that they find appeasing. To make it easier to understand, Maalik, according to them, rejected hadeeth based on his own reasoning because they contradicted the people of Medina, because revisionist entirely subject everything to the human reason, so they are particularly fond of this view of theirs that they got from Maalik haphazardly.

However, they are fundamentally,no, rather diabolically wrong. Why? Because since revisionist don;t know anythign about Islam, they have never studied anything about it, what they misunderstood is that Maalik’s methodology was “surrounded” and “quarantined” to be understood that he employed this principle of rejecting hadeeth IF

1. they were isolated (singularly reported) AND

2. if it CONTRADICTED a known practice he got from the people of Medina.

In other words, a hadeeth had to fulfill the above criterion before he would reject the hadeeth. Even if the hadeeth was isolated but did not go against what he knew from the actions of the people of Medina, he would accept it. Secondly, they failed to grasp Maalik’s methodology in total because they do not realize that Imaam Maalik was the Imaam of the Ahlul-Hadeeth. In order to understand Maalik’s legal reasoning for the acceptance of the actions of the people of Medina as an overiding source than other hadeeth, I will highlight some of the explanations presented by Maaliki scholars themselves as they would understand the overall nature of Maalik’s methodology infinitely greater than revisionist who have never studied Islam at all as will be shown below inshallah.

This is what one aspiring revisionist had to say

That is only assumed if the scholars viewed the role of hadith as authoritative, which again is the issue of dispute, which you haven’t answered. The very fact that Shafii criticized him was because of the fact that Malik was not using what Shafii considered as authoritative evidence as binding…

Qaadi ‘Iyaad (Master of the Maaliki school of his time) stated

“If you look straight away at the methods of these Imams and the establishment of their principles in fiqh and ijtihad in the Shari’a, you will find that Malik pursued a clear methodology in respect of these principles and ordered them according to their respective ranks. He put the Book of Allah first and put the traditions with it, placing them before analogy and opinion. He left anything which was not considered probable by reliable men known for their sound knowledge, or when he found that the great majority of the people of Madina did something different and contrary to it. He did not pay any attention to those who interpreted things according to their own opinions: explicitly declared that such rulings were false and baseless.” (Tartib al-Madarik, p. 16)

In relation and confirmation of this methodology of Imaam Maalik, the Imaam of Jarh wa T’adeel Ibn Abi Haatim records in his book “al-Jarh wa T’adeel” the following

Ibn Wahb said: “I heard Maalik being asked about cleaning between the toes during ablution. He said, `The people do not have to do that.’ I did not approach him until the crowd had lessened, when I said to him, `We know of a sunnah about that.’ He said, `What is that?’ I said, `Laith ibn Sa’d, Ibn Lahee’ah and `Amr ibn al-Haarith narrated to us from Yazeed ibn `Amr al-Ma’aafiri from Abu `Abdur-Rahman al-Hubuli from Mustawrid ibn Shaddaad al-Qurashi who said, `I saw the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) rubbing between his toes with his little finger.’ He said, `This hadeeth is sound; I had not heard of it at all until now.’ Afterwards, I heard him being asked about the same thing, on which he ordered cleaning between the toes.”

How does Schacht reconcile between his views and how Maalik’s direct descendants understood their own shaykh’s position.

Abu Zahrah comments between the fiqh of the people of Iraq and the people of Medina. I state this because this orientalist theory regarding their difference is pretty much synonymous with current ideas of  hadeeth rejectionism. Here is a more accurate rendition of the phenomenon that took place between Iraq and medina at that time

“….As we stated, this is not that important. That is also the case with the specification of the ‘amm by single traditions which are supported by something else, as we will clarify when discussing the Sunna. Malik did not adopt this absolutely nor was he the only to adopt it. Indeed ash-Shafi’i adopted it after him and he states that he derived from the fiqh of Malik that the ‘amm can be a probable proof. If its evidence is probable, then the probable single report makes it specific because the probable can specify the probable. As for the Iraqis who state that the ‘amm is unequivocal before its specification, and that when it is specified, it becomes probable and can validly be specified by single reports, they do not put single reports in the rank of the unequivocal ‘amm. It is that which cannot be made khass, and those are matters in which fiqh of the people Madina differs from the fiqh of the people of Iraq. Malik and the Madinans after him state that it is permitted to make the ‘amm specific by single traditions unrestrictedly, and the Iraqis forbid that single traditions specify the ‘amm of the Qur’an before there is specification by something else. By the Madinans we mean those who came after Malik and followed the method of the Madinans like ash-Shafi’i.”

Clarifying Maaliks FORM of rejecting Hadeeth

As is apparent with Sacht’s theory, his preposition for trying to determin Maalik’s methodology is based on the ellucidation that Maalik’s preference was a type of hadeeth rejectionism under the clause that hadeeth were not authoritative.

Anyone who studies anythign from Maalik knows otherwise, but for the sake of argument I will relate the arguments of the specialist of Maalik’s thought to clarify HOW and WHERE was Maalik at in terms of rejecting hadeeth.

In short, What Maalik rejected were single narrations IF they contradicted what was more established hadeeth wise (shariah)

Al-Qarafi said in the Tanqih al-Fusul in the discussion regarding the conflict between single reports and analogy:
Qadi ‘Iyad in at-Tanbihat and Ibn Rushd in al-Muqaddamat report two positions in the Maliki school about giving priority to analogy over the single tradition. The Hanafis also have two positions. The argument behind giving priority to analogy is that it is in harmony with the rules when it entails obtaining benefits or repelling evils while the report which differs from it would prevent that, and so that which is in harmony with the rules is preferred over what opposes them.
The reason for the prohibition (of giving analogy priority over the tradition) is that analogy is derived from the texts and that which is derived is not preferred to its source. As for analogy being derived from the texts, analogy can only be evidence when it is based on texts and thus it is subsidiary to them. Furthermore, that to which the analogy is connected must also be a text, and analogy is dependent on texts from both aspects. The branch cannot be given precedence over its root. If it were given precedence before its root, that would invalidate it. If it invalidates its root, then it itself would be invalid.


Maalik’s Rejection is Quarantined to SINGULAR Reports

In al-Muwafaqat, ash-Shatibi lists a group of questions in which Malik used analogy, benefit, or the general principle and abandoned the single tradition because he thought that the principles which he adopted were definitive or referred to a definitive basis, and the report which he rejected was probabilistic.
1: One example is that Malik rejected the hadith about washing the vessel seven times after it has been licked by a dog, once with earth. Malik said in it, “The hadith has come but I do not know what the truth of it is.” He considers it weak and says, “One eats what it catches so how can its spittle be disliked?” So he derived a definitive principle from the confirmation about eating its game. This is the words of the Almighty, “what is caught for you by hunting animals which you have trained,” (5:4), indicating the purity of its spittle while the hadith indicates its impurity and thus the hadith clashes with the definitive deduction from the Noble Qur’an.

2: He rejected the hadith about limiting the option of cancelling a sale to the meeting which demands that each those who make the contract have the right to cancel the contract as long they have not parted. He said, “There is no specified limit according to us.” (38.38) The reason for rejecting it is that the meeting does not have a known end so that cancellation would have a known period. By consensus the precondition of the option to cancel is invalidated if it does not have a known term, so how can a judgement by the Shari’a affirm a precondition not permitted by the Shari’a. If the option had been permitted for an unknown term, then the precondition of the option would be permitted without limit. Furthermore the hadith with an unknown period would contrast with the rule regarding uncertainty and ignorance which is not affirmed in contracts.

3: He did not accept the tradition “If anyone dies owing fasting, his guardian can fast for him,” nor the report which has come from Ibn ‘Abbas, “A woman came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, ‘Messenger of Allah, my mother has died owing a month’s fast.” He asked, ‘Do you think that if you father left a debt, you would pay it?’ She replied, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘The debt of Allah is more entitled to be paid.’ He related this hadith under hajj and not fasting, and related about vows and fasting. Malik rejected it all and took the rule derived from the Noble Qur’an: “No bearer of a burden can bear the burden of another, and man has nothing but that for which he strives.” (53:37-38)

4: Malik denied the report about overturning the pots in which camels and sheep had been cooked before the division. It is related that camels and sheep from the booty were slaughtered before the division and that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ordered that the pots be overturned and he began to rub the meat in the dirt. Malik rejected the hadith because overturning the pots and rubbing meat in the earth is waste which negates benefit and the ban is enough in to clarify the error of what they did and that they did wrong in what they did. Then they ought to eat what they slaughtered or divide it without overturning the pots nor rubbing it in the earth.

5: Malik did not adopt the hadith, “If anyone fasts Ramadan and follows it with six of Shawwal…” he has He took that position on the basis of the principle of sadd adh-dhara’i’ out of fear that doing it constantly would lead to adding to Ramadan and making that obligatory.

6: Part of that is that suckling does not have a specific minimum of times, like ten or five based on the rule derived from the noble ayat: “Your mothers who suckled you and your sisters by suckling.” Derived from its general nature is that a little and a lot of suckling both make unlawful. The definition of ten or five opposes the general meaning of the ayat, and so suckling applies to both a few and many and does not have a minimum.

7: He rejected the report about the animal whose milk is allowed to collect by not being milked. It is what is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Do not allow the milk of camels and sheep to collect in the udders. If anyone buys it, he has a choice between views after he has milked it. If he wishes, he keeps it, and if he wishes, he returns the animal and a sa’ of dates.”
In one of the two positions of Malik he rejected it and said about it, “It is not in the Muwatta’ and it is not firm.” It contradicts the basis principle of “Revenue is by virtue of responsibility” [ascribed to the Prophet] and because someone who destroys a thing is responsible for its like or its price, and not a fine in the form of another type of food or goods. (al-Muwafaqat, pt. 3, pp. 24-25)