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A brief essay about Maqasid Shari'ah
by Taqiuddin Hamzah
The Maqasid al-shari’ah or the economic objective of Shari’ah – as consistently derived from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s (p.b.u.h) tradition (Sunnah). In brief, the economic objectives of Shari’ah, or the economic maqasid, is the answer to the question domain of maqasid relates how Shari’ah address vital areas of human socio-economic life in “How does Shari’ah address the overall objective of wellbeing?” It takes the term “wellbeing” to stand for the state of satisfaction of human wants from the socio-economic perspective. The the face of constantly changing modes of livelihood and it is particularly important in coping with the modern industrial world where social values and institutional and technological development to endeavour people to make the best of Allah’s natural endowment on land, sea and open space.
Maqasid comes from an Arab plural word which is “maqsad”, the root word is “qasd” which mean of intuition, aim or objective in an actions. Maqasid, The Arabic root word of Shari’ah is the verb “shara’a”. The literal meaning of “shara’a” is to open upon a street, like to open a door upon a street. In legal term “shara’a” means to make or establish laws. From “shara’a” also comes Shari’ah which in legal term means laws relating to all aspects of human life established by Allah S.W.T for his servants. Maqasid Shari’ah is referred to as the goal or objective to be achieved in an Islamic law. (Mohammad Hashim Kamili, 2009). Maqasid Shari’ah were developed as an independent field of inquiry through seminal contributions of leading Muslim scholars, notably, Al-Ghazali, Al-Izz Ibn Abdelsalam and Al-Shatibi.
Al-Ghazali bring forth the key ingredient of human wellbeing in his book Al-Mustafa: “The very objective of the Shari’ah is to promote the welfare of human beings, which lies in safeguard their Religion (al-din), selves (al-nafs), minds (al-‘aql), progeny (al-nasb), and wealth (al-mal). Whatever ensures and safeguard these five fundamental serves public interest and is desirable. Whatever hurts them is against public interest and its removal is desirable” (Al-Ghazali, (1356/1937) as cited in Chapra, (2000) p.118).
The above key ingredient are the tenets of maqasid shari’ah as elaborated further by al-Shatibi through analysis of Pressing Necessity (daruriyyat), Needs (hajiyyat) and Embellishment (tahsiniyyat). (Mufawaqat, Vol. 21 p. 13). Imam al-Shatibi, defined Maqasid Shari’ah as, “The primary goal of the Shari’ah is to free man from the grip of his own whims, so that he may be the servant of Allah by choice, just as he is His slave (in matters about which he has) no choice.”
In al-Shatibi’s terms, Pressing Necessity (daruriyyat) are the minimal requirements of barely sustainable human livelihood even though hardships can be suffered in their satisfaction. The Role of Needs (hajiyyat) is hence to remove hardship and extend conveniences (tawsi’ah) in the satisfaction of Pressing Necessities whereas Embellishment (tahsiniyyat) introduce further refinement towards excellence in quality. Hence, rather than describing Islamic economic development as a one-off basic needs’ strategy, the maqasid scheme accommodates the idea of ever-changing human wants so long as the process of economic satisfaction remain well governed sequentially and justly in accordance the three-stage development model (daruriyyat, hajiyyat and tahsiniyyat). (ISRA, 2012, p. 39)
Pressing Necessities (daruriyyat) constitute all activities and things that are regarded as absolute requirements to the survival and spiritual well-being of individuals at the barest minimum for an acceptable level of living. Pressing Necessities include the ability to perform the five pillars of Islam, five objectives of Shari’ah and protection of life, ensuring sufficient availability of food, clothing and shelter, education, the right to earn a living, etc. It can be concluded that at this level, one has enough to live but not necessarily to be in some comfort. If they are ignored then coherence and order cannot be established, fasad (chaos and disorder) shall prevail in this world, and there will be obvious loss in the hereafter. Some scholars argued that though the five daruriyyat are essential for human welfare, necessities are not confined to these five maqasid; hence, they proposed additional daruriyyat such as equality, freedom and protection of the environment.
The Role of Needs or Conveniences (hajiyyat) are benefits that remove the severity and hardship that are not vital to preserve the five foundations, but rather, are needed to remove difficulties or impediments in life. Examples include the use and enjoyment of things that man can do without, but with difficulty, such as having a change of clean clothes every day, the use of a car, having a carpet over cement floor, etc.
Embellishment or Refinements (tahsiniyyat) are refer to interests whose realisation leads to refinement and perfection in the customs and conduct of people at all levels of achievement. They are items which change the convenience form to comfort such as having branded and expensive clothes and perfume, the use of a driver and spare cars, numerous golf club memberships, comfortable houses with maids etc.
As conclusion, Maqasid Shari’ah should be able to give us the parameters on how we should make that decision. Muslim jurists did not formulate the Maqasid only for them to apply in making Islamic rulings. It was meant as a philosophy of life that everyone can apply, Muslims or non-Muslims, as the ultimate goal is to eliminate injustice, to share mercy, do away with evil and to have an understanding in the application of knowledge i.e. to have wisdom.
Chapra, M. U. (2000). The Future of Economic Challenge. Leichester: The Islamic Foundation.
ISRA. (2012). Islamic Financial System: Principles & Operation. Kuala Lumpur: International Shari'ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA).
Kulsanofer Syed Thajudeen. (2012). Maqasid al-Shariah is one of the very important Shariah aspects in Islamic Finance. Kuala Lumpur: CIFP.
Mohammad Hashim Kamili. (2009). Maqasid Al-Shariah Made Simple. IIIT, 1.rest and its removal is desirable” (Al-Ghazali, (1356/1937) as cited in Chapra, (2000) p.118).
Pressing Necessities (daruriyyat) constitute all activities and things that are regarded as absolute requirements to the survival and spiritual well-being of individuals at the barest minimum for an acceptable level of living. Pressing Necessities include the ability to perform the five pillars of Islam, five objectives of Shari’ah and protection of life, ensuring sufficient availability of food, clothing and shelter, education, the right to earn a living, etc. It can be concluded that at this level, one has enough to live but not necessarily to be in some comfort. If they are ignored then coherence and order cannot be establ