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Maqasid al-Shariah as Philosophy of Islamic Law: A Systems Approach PDF Print E-mail

Jasser Auda

Why is giving charity (zakah) one of Islam’s principle ‘pillars’? What are the physical and the 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’?

‘Maqasidal-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. Maqasidare 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. This chapter explains what ‘Maqasidal-Shariah’ is and how it could play a fundamental role in the much-needed ‘contemporarisation’ of the Islamic maqasid as philosophy of islamic law. It will introduce traditional and current definitions and classifications of Maqasid, and elaborate on three historical stages that the idea of al-Maqasid went through, namely, the Companions’ era, the schools of law foundational era, and the era between the fifth and eighth Islamic centuries. Finally, recent developments of al-Maqasid terminology will be surveyed, and the relevance and significance of some of the terms will be explained. ‘Maqasid al-Shariah’ is given a fundamental status in this book. Thus, theories and methods of the Islamic law presented throughout the book will be analysed and evaluated based on their agreement with the Maqasid of the Islamic law...click for a full book in pdf