AL-MAQASID AL-SHARIAH THE OBJECTIVES OF ISLAMIC LAW Mohammed Hashim Kamali
This essay is presented in five sections. It begins with a general characterisation of Al-Maqasid Al-Shari'ah and a brief examination of its origins in the Qur'an . The essay then proceeds to address the classification of the maqasid and a certain order of priority that is integrated into the structure of this classification. The third section is devoted to the historical development of the theory and science of Al-Maqasid , where the contributions to this branch of the Shari'ah of some of the leading ulema (scholars) are highlighted. The next section looks into the differential approaches the ulema have taken toward the identification of the maqasid . The final section highlights the relevance of Al-Maqasid to Ijtihad and the ways in which the former can enhance the scope and calibre of the latter.
CHARACTERISATION AND TEXTUAL ORIGINS
Al-Maqasid al-Shari'ah , or the Objectives of Islamic Law, is an important and yet somewhat neglected science of the Shari'ah . The Shari'ah generally is predicated on benefits to the individual and the community, and its laws are designed so as to protect these benefits and to facilitate the improvement and perfection of the conditions of human life on earth. The Qur'an is expressive of this when it singles out the most important purpose of the Prophethood of Muhammad (saw): "We have not sent you but as a Mercy to the worlds" (21:107). This can also be seen in the Qur'an 's characterisation of itself as "a healing to the (spiritual) ailments of the hearts" and "a Guidance and Mercy" for the believers and mankind (10:57). This very important objective of Rahmah (Mercy or Compassion), mentioned in these two verses, is further substantiated by other provisions in the Qur'an and Sunnah (the Traditions of the Prophet) that seek to eliminate prejudice, alleviate hardship and establish justice. The laws of the Qur'an and Sunnah also seek to promote co-operation and support within the family and the society at large. The objective of Rahmah , therefore, is most clearly manifested in the realisation of Maslahah (Benefit) in everyday communal life. The ulema have, thus, generally considered Rahmah to be the all-pervasive objective of the Shari'ah , and have, to all intents and purposes, used it synonymously with Maslahah .
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