Religion and Islamic Studies

A Maqāsidī approach to contemporary application of the Sharī‘ah

This paper explores how Maqāṣid al-Sharī‘ah (higher purposes and intents of Islamic law) could contribute to the application of the Sharī‘ah itself in contemporary Muslim societies and to making the appropriate related juridical policies. The soundness of the application of the Shar‘īah and related policies is subject to the degree of universality and flexibility of the Islamic rulings with changing circumstances, are discussed from various viewpoints in this paper. After a survey of the system of values that Maqāṣid al-Sharī‘ah represent, three methods are explored: (1) differentiating between scripts that are means (wasā’il) to higher ends and scripts that are ends (ahdāf) in their own right, (2) preferring a multi-dimensional understanding for the conciliation of opposing juridical evidence, instead of reductionist methods such as abrogation (naskh) and elimination (tarjīḥ), and (3) achieving a universality of Sharī‘ah across cultures via the consideration of customs (al-‘urf). A number of examples are provided throughout the paper in order to explain the impact of the proposed methods on contemporary Islamic rulings and juridical policies related to them.

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