“What is Maqaasid al Sharia?”
Maqaasid al Sharia is a very essential part of Fiqh. If understood correctly, it becomes a vital tool in making ijtihad. Maqaasid al Shariah should provide a sound interpretation of arriving at a fatwa (Islamic ruling. The objectives of Maqaasid al Sharia is to have the people benefit from it in the Dunyah and the Hereafter. Islamic scholars need to understand Maqasid al Sharia should be studied by students of knowledge, but foremost by scholars of this blessed religion. So you may be asking what is exactly is Maqaasid al Sharia?
Definitions of Maqaasid Al Sharia
Linguistically, qasd (قصد) can be defined as: straightness of a path, moderation in issues, or a determining factor in doing something (to intend to do something).
Examples of the define words are:
1) Straightness of a Path:
“Undertaken by Allah is (to show) the right path, while there are some (paths) that are crooked. Had He so willed, He would have led all of you to the right path.” (Nahl:9)
2) Moderation in Issues:
“And be moderate in your walk, and lower your voice. Surely, the ugliest of voices is the voice of the donkeys.” (Luqmaan: 19)
3) Determining factor when doing something: He intended to explain the lesson.
Sharia means: Deen, Religion, or way of life.
Technically Maqaasid al Sharia, as described by Al Shatibi (rahimahullah) is, “Maqaasid are the ends for whose establishment Sharia has been legislated for the benefit of people” (1)
Significance of Maqaasid al Sharia
One may ask, “What’s the importance of Maqaasid al Sharia?” We reply to him as: Maqaasid Sharia is concerned with the intents and the goals of Islamic Law, to get rulings for the people for their benefits which Allah intended, enriching the Mujtahid with comprehensive knowledge of the religion.
Examples of Maqaasid al Sharia
Some examples of Maqasid al Sharia are:
1) Praying in congregation as to establish the remembrance of Allah
2) Purification of the body in order to establish the prayer or to keep the hygiene of the Muslim intact.
3) Zikaat al Fitr in order to purify your fasting from effects of deficiencies and to provide the poor with food. Etc….
The Origin of Maqaasid al Sharia
Maqaasid Sharia can be found in the Quran, Sunnah, and Ijtihad of the scholars.
1) In the Quran:
Allah says, “I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.” (Dhaariyat: 56) Allah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) here is telling us his objective for creating us.
2) In the Sunnah:
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “A Bedouin stood up and urinated in the Masjid, and the people started shouting. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to them: ‘Leave him alone, and spill a bucket of water over his urine. For you have been sent to make things easy for people, you have not been sent to make things difficult.” (2) So in the hadith it shows the intent behind the Prophet Muhammad (salullahu alaihi was salam) stopping the people from grabbing that Bedouin man. It was to keep the man from contaminating the other parts of the masjid with urine and also to make things easy for the people not hard.
If Maqasid al Shariah isn’t mentioned in the Quran or Sunnah, but the Maqasid al Sharia can be understood. Then the scholars use ijtihad come to explore some Maqasid al Sharia based on authentic methodology, such as the Maqasid al Sharia prohibiting gabbling and usury (riba). The answer for this is to protect the money of the people from exploitation.
In the next article we will look how the categories of Maqasid al Sharia and the five necessities (Dhurriyat al Khamsah) for every person to live happy life.
1) “The Theory of Maqasid” by Shatibi, pg. 7
2) Sunan an-Nasa’ee (Book of Purification) Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 56 (Graded Saheeh)