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Maqasid al-Shari'ah and Public Values to Be Protected - Part 1

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam

20 June 2022

In A Pluralistic Society, the Concept of Maqasid Al-Shari’ah (The Highest Goals of the Shariah) Presents Us with a Vast Array of Values and Theories

Main Points:

1.    Common values and common goals that everyone agrees on play a crucial role in the construction of any society.

2.    Shariah-compliant discussions enable people to solve their problems with purity and rationality and to see diversity among themselves as a blessing rather than a disaster.

3.    Shariah calls for strengthening solidarity with others by providing goodness, justice and help.


(This essay is the first of a series of articles on the reformation of Islamic laws based on a new methodology of Maqasid al-Sharia.)

In a pluralistic society, the concept of Maqasid al-Shari’ah (the highest goals of the Shariah) presents us with a vast array of values and theories. Shariah-compliant discussions enable people to solve their problems with purity and rationality and to see diversity among themselves as a blessing rather than a disaster. Therefore, the general title associated with Maqasid and the activities under it aim to develop and propagate the values and general principles that are important elements of social construction.

Common values and common goals that everyone agrees on play a crucial role in the construction of any society. This does not apply to any one community. All human beings have common goals and values in this sense.

The first and foremost thing to be done in anticipation of following Maqasid al-Shari’ah is to develop the above general objectives. All religions, philosophies, and cultures based on civic values may have their own Maqasids. At the same time, there will be common values and common goals that are universally accepted, upheld and propagated by the respective religions and ideologies. That's where we really need to start.

Sadly, the above values and preconceived notions and actions lead to unhealthy competition instead of leading to mutual cooperation and completion. The documents summarize that their mission was to call for 'doing good and forsaking evil' throughout the analysis of the messages brought by the prophets because of this cooperation. Good and evil are ideas that are accepted by all people as one. Therefore, it is very easy to accept it as the basis of all our actions and the standard of cooperation with others. Allah describes the mission of His messengers as "We inspired them to do good" (Al-Ambiya '73). In short, the prophets were commissioned to invite human society to good. In another Qur'anic verse, Allah affirms the same idea by addressing the believers (Al-Hajj 77). The Qur'anic verse (Al-Salah: 7-8) reads in conjunction with this.

In addition to worship such as prayer and fasting, the general expression 'do good' promotes goodness in every sense. The term has a broad meaning that encompasses all the virtues mentioned or not mentioned in the documents, whether small or large.

Many scholars have said that the basis of all the virtues that exist in human society is the intuition or divine revelation. The source of the virtues and values that are practiced even by those who do not accept the divine laws are the divine revelations and the teachings imparted by the prophets in its light.

In this sense, justice is one of the most important common values that we must cultivate and promote in our societies, especially in pluralistic societies. The Qur'an makes it clear that "We sent messengers and gave them the Scripture and the scales to establish justice among the people" (Al-Hadid 25). In this verse, Allah has used the word 'Qist' to refer to justice. The word 'adl' is used a lot in the Qur'an to describe justice. 'Qist' is a value that all people should hold fast to in all contexts. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said about it: The notion of injustice as opposed to this is in no way permissible. The word 'Qist' mentioned in the above verse about justice is not a true Arabic word.

In Sahih al-Bukhari, the word used to refer to Adl in the Roman language is 'Qist'. 'Qist' and Khistwas are words used in countless languages around the world to mean justice, including the English word justice. The essence of ‘Qist’, which is actually used in global languages, is that it refers to justice as global values and concept universally accepted by all the laws of the world. There is no constitution or law that is divine or man-made that does not recognize justice. Denial and denial of justice can be rational, religious or ideological suicide. Not a real Arabic word. In short, justice is a fundamental-global value that applies to all human beings. Every human being has a responsibility to do justice to himself, to those around him, and to his Creator. There is no change in this policy, whether he is acquainted with it or not, whether he follows his path or abandons it. As the culture of justice spreads in the society, the rights of every individual, social security and peace are ensured.

The scriptures make it clear that God will do justice to the animals in the Hereafter tomorrow. That is to say, human beings who raise and care for animals have a responsibility to do justice to them as well. To the extent that each individual has to do justice to his or her own mental and physical needs and desires, as in the case of his children and relatives. This value, which is universally accepted, should be used to spread religion in society.

It can be seen that in the Holy Qur'an, justice and ‘Ihsan’ (An-Nahl 90) are mentioned together. It is a commandment to uphold justice and innocence through Ihsan. The principle of 'obligatory obligation to be acquitted by optional deeds' is often quoted in relation to the rules of Islamic Sharia. This means that a person who is interested in ‘Ihsan’ will naturally show more interest in justice. That is why Allah has stipulated in the above verse that there should be ‘ad’l or justice and even more ‘Ihsan’ in your life. Imam ibn 'Abd al-Salam has written a great book based on this divine verse,' Shajrat al-Ma'rifi wal-Ahwal, wa Salihil aqwal'. In this book, he establishes that all the laws laid down by the Shariah return to justice and ‘Ihsan’. The fulfilment of justice in any sense is done by abiding by the Shariah-commanded commandments and staying away from prohibitions.

‘Ihsan’ is a value that stands for justice. That is why Allah has made it clear that there is no better way to resolve disputes or enmity than Ihsan (Fusswilat 34). The verse makes it clear that Ihsan not only solves the problem between a person and his enemy but also brings them together and makes them friends and helpers.

‘Ihsan’ is a common value that should naturally exist in a society. Moreover, the above verse affirms that Ihsan is the one that must remove the harm and replace it. The Qur'an here gives the principle that you give food to the one who throws stones at you. Through ‘Ihsan’, one can change the mind of the offender and turn evil into good. This is because if ‘Ihsan’ is cultivated, the practitioner of Ihsan himself will reap the harvest. In short, justice and ‘Ihsan’ are common values that enable mutual love and cooperation.

Another divine value that is equally relevant in a pluralistic as well as monolithic society is the protection of the five basic elements of faith, life, intellect, wealth and race. This is the level at which the Islamic Shari'ah and the divine Shari'ah of the past came together. Scholars have noted that this protection has been preserved in all societies throughout history in the community to which the Prophets were commissioned, or the succession of that society. Therefore, it is paramount to address the people in the light of the above five values. We can regard it as the pride of the Islamic intellectual heritage/tradition. It is worth mentioning that the scholars came to them after centuries of deliberation and study.

The protection and defence of these values is a culture that believers must inevitably propagate among themselves and other communities.

These are of particular importance at a time when dangerous lifestyles and ideas that are at odds with faith, race, life are entering the scene and conquering the scene. The same is true for intelligence, wealth, and other factors that need to be protected. Drugs, alcohol, and pornography continue to plague the human mind and intellect. Financial protection is a value that both Muslims and non-Muslims alike must put forward. Everyone has a responsibility to uplift the economic status of the family, community, and nation and to lead the way in economic growth.

The Muslim community needs to be taught that the basis of Islamic philosophy is the protection of these five values. It should be conveyed to the general public that these are values that are held firmly by all religious philosophies in the divine tradition. Since these five values are the basic Maqasids of human life and Islamic Shariah, every deed intentionally performed for their protection - whether it is personal fulfilment of food, money, or procreation - is worship and a good deed that draws one closer to Allah.

Similarly, one of the most important Maqasids in a pluralistic society, which is clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah, is that different sects know each other. Allah has made it clear in Al-Hujurat Chapter (Verse 13) that He created man and woman and divided them into different sects so that they may know and get to know each other. Here, males and females, as well as different races and tribes, are expressions used to denote diversity among human beings. The Maqasid or purpose of all diversity found among human beings is to know, cooperate and help each other. This applies not only to different religions but also to nations. Rather than the purpose of the Shariah,

Shariah calls for strengthening solidarity with others by providing goodness, justice and help. The message of Shariah is that the relationship with any person or sect living on earth should be strong and warm. As its first step, the Muslim community must take the lead in formulating public plans for the protection and propagation of values that are universally accepted by people. They need to plan cultural and political activities and educational activities that will facilitate the implementation of co-operation and mutual cooperation between other communities.


Grace Mubashir is a journalism student at IIMC, Delhi


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