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Author Topic: Maqasid Al-Shariah: Purposes of the Islamic Law  (Read 2987 times)

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Maqasid Al-Shariah: Purposes of the Islamic Law
« on: June 18, 2008, 01:31:14 AM »
 :salam:



(Part 1)
 
By  Dr. Jasser Auda

Islamic researcher - UK
 
 

Introduction


Why is giving charity (zakah ) one of Islam's principle 'pillars'? What are the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting the month of Ramadan?


Why is drinking any amount of alcohol a major sin in Islam? What is the link between today's notions of human rights and Islamic law? How can the Islamic law contribute to 'development' and 'civility'?

'Maqasid al-Shariah' are principles that provide answers to the above questions and similar questions about the Islamic law. Maqasid include the wisdoms behind rulings, such as 'enhancing social welfare,' which is one of the wisdoms behind charity, and 'developing consciousness of God,' which is one of the wisdoms behind fasting.

Maqasid are also good ends that the laws aim to achieve by blocking, or opening, certain means. Thus, the Maqasid of 'preserving people's minds and souls' explain the total and strict Islamic ban on alcohol and intoxicants. Maqasid are also the group of divine intents and moral concepts upon which the Islamic law is based, such as, justice, human dignity, free will, magnanimity, facilitation, and social cooperation. Thus, they represent the link between the Islamic law and today's notions of human rights, development, and civility.

What Is Maqasid?

The term 'maqsid' (plural: Maqasid) refers to a purpose, objective, principle, intent, goal, end (Ibn Ashur, a, ii), telos (Greek), finalité (French), or Zweck (German) (Jhering, xxxv). Maqasid of the Islamic law are the objectives/purposes behind Islamic rulings. (Ibn Ashur, b, 183) For a number of Islamic legal theorists, it is an alternative expression to 'people's interests' (masalih ).

Dimensions of Maqasid

Purposes or Maqasid of the Islamic law themselves are classified in various ways, according to a number of dimensions. The following are some of these dimensions:

1- Levels of necessity, which is the traditional classification.
2- Scope of the rulings aiming to achieve purposes.

3- Scope of people included in purposes.

4- Level of universality of the purposes.

Traditional classifications of Maqasid divide them into three 'levels of necessity,' which are necessities (darurat), needs (hajiyat), and luxuries (tahsiniyat ).

Necessities are further classified into what 'preserves one's faith, soul, wealth, mind, and offspring' (Al-Ghazali, 172, Ibn al-Arabi, 5:222, Al-Amidi, 287 ).Some jurists added 'the preservation of honour' to the above five widely popular necessities (Al-Ghazali, 1, 171, Al-Shatibi, 3, 47). These necessities were considered essential matters for human life itself. There is also a general agreement that the preservation of these necessities is the 'objective behind any revealed law' (Al-Shatibi, 5).

Purposes at the level of needs are less essential for human life, and purposes at the level of luxuries are 'beautifying purposes' (tahsiniyat ), in the traditional expression (Al-Shatibi, 17).

According to Al-Shatibi, there is a hierarchy level of necessity, these levels are interrelated. Each level serves and protects the level below. For example, the level of needs acts as a 'shield of protection' to the level of necessities (Al-Shatibi, 151). That is why some scholars preferred to perceive necessities in terms of 'overlapping circles,' rather than a strict hierarchy (Atiyah, 45).

I find the levels of necessity reminiscent of the twentieth century's Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of human (rather than 'divine') objectives or 'basic goals,' which he called, 'hierarchy of needs' (Maslow, a, 370-96). Human needs, according to Maslow, range from basic physiological requirements and safety, to love and esteem, and, finally, 'self-actualisation.'

In 1943, Maslow suggested five levels for these needs. Then, in 1970, he revised his ideas and suggested a seven level hierarchy (Maslow, b, p. 10). The similarity between al-Shatibi's theory and Maslow's theory in terms of the levels of goals is interesting. Moreover, the second version of Maslow's theory reveals another interesting similarity with Islamic 'goal' theories, which is the capacity to evolve.

Islamic theories of goals (Maqasid ) evolved over the centuries, especially in the twentieth century. Contemporary theorists criticised the above traditional classification of necessities for a number of reasons, including the following (Oral Discussion with Sheikh Hassan al-Turabi, Khartoum, Sudan, August, 2006):

1- The scope of traditional Maqasid is the entire Islamic law. However, they fall short to include specific purposes for single scripts/rulings or groups of scripts that cover certain topics or 'chapters' of Islamic law.
2- Traditional Maqasid are concerned with individuals rather than families, societies, and humans, in general.

3- The traditional Maqasid classification did not include the most universal and basic values, such as justice and freedom.

4- Traditional Maqasid were deduced from studying 'legal literature,' rather than the original sources/scripts.

To remedy the above shortcomings, modern scholarship introduced new conceptions and classifications of al-Maqasid by giving consideration to new dimensions. First, considering the scope of rulings they cover, contemporary classifications divide Maqasid into three levels (Jughaim, 26-35):

1- General Maqasid: These Maqasid are observed throughout the entire body of the Islamic law, such as the necessities and needs mentioned above and newly proposed Maqasid, such as 'justice' and 'facilitation.'
2- Specific Maqasid: These Maqasid are observed throughout a certain 'chapter' of the Islamic law, such as the welfare of children in family law, preventing criminals in criminal law, and preventing monopoly in financial transactions law.

3- Partial Maqasid: These Maqasid are the 'intents' behind specific scripts or rulings, such as the intent of discovering the truth in seeking a certain number of witnesses in certain court cases, the intent of alleviating difficulty in allowing an ill and fasting person to break his/her fasting, and the intent of feeding the poor in banning Muslims from storing meat during Eid days.


full article here :


http://www.readingislam.com/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1212394814337&pagename=Zone-English-Discover_Islam%2FDIELayout


Dr. Jasser Auda is the director of al-Maqasid Research Centre in the Philosophy of the Islamic Law (Markaz Derasat Maqasid al-Shari`ah al-Islamiyyah) in London, UK. He is a doctoral candidate in the Theology and Religious Studies Department, University of Wales, UK, where he is writing a thesis on the philosophy of Islamic Law.
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Re: Maqasid Al-Shariah: Purposes of the Islamic Law
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2008, 01:47:05 AM »
 :salam:



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http://www.readingislam.com/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1212394814337&pagename=Zone-English-Discover_Islam%2FDIELayout
Logged
My Father is greater than I.  Bible, John 14:28

Christ will never be proud to reject to be a slave to God ...( 4: 172 )



prepared by faith :)

recitation: http://quran.jalisi.com