A Critique of the Modern Discourse of Maqāṣid

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2023) | Viewed by 5758

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Guest Editor
Department of Sociology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
Interests: sociology of religion; political Islam; sociolinguistics; religion and sexuality; social change; society and legal change; political economy; society and morality

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Several modern Muslim scholars have found in al-Šāṭibī’s (d. 1388 CE) concept of maqāṣid al-Šarīʿah—a term that refers to the rational objectives of the law—a refuge to centralize human reason in the making of Islamic law. This concept has helped them propose a form of Islam that is modern, progressive, and rational. In this issue, we want to critically examine, first, several modern discourses of maqāṣid in a variety of fields, such as politics, economics, health, family, etc., and second, the Šāṭibī’s concept of maqāṣid in its traditional textual, legal, and social contexts. We raise some critical questions that concern several contradictions within the modern discourses of maqāṣid. For instance, does this discourse ignore the central notion of ghayb? Does it downplay the basic principle of ṭāʿah? Does it contradict the traditional downplaying of the notion of truth in the making of law in traditional Islam? Moreover, we will explore the uṣūlī definitions and distinctions of a number of concepts that have been (con)fused in the modern discourse of maqāṣid, such as sabab, maqṣid, ʿillah, and ḥikmah. The following is a non-exclusive list of potential topics that fall within the general scope of this Special Issue:

  • Al-Maqāṣid in discourses of finance and investments;
  • Al-Maqāṣid in medical discourses;
  • Al-Maqāṣid in politics;
  • Al-Maqāṣid in discourses of radical Islam;
  • Al-Maqāṣid in family, romance, and inheritance;
  • Al-Maqāṣid in initiatives to establish a “new Islamic discourse”;
  • Al-Maqāṣid in the discourse of wasaṭiyyah;
  • Modern anti-Maqāṣid discourses: Salafis and beyond;
  • Al-Maqāṣid in creating positive modern laws;
  • Al-Maqāṣid and the notion of ḥaqq in the making of law;
  • Al-Maqāṣid and the question of ghayb;
  • Al-Maqāṣid and the modern rational God in Islam;
  • Al-Maqāṣid and anti-universal nominalism in Islam;
  • Al-Maqāṣid and al-Naṣṣ: Islamic dialecticism;
  • A critical reading in the lexicon of al-Maqāṣid: sabab, maqṣid, ʿillah and ḥikmah.

If you are interested in contributing to this Special Issue, please send your 250–350-word abstract to [email protected] by February 15th, 2023. Accepted contributors will be notified by February 28th, 2023. The deadline for submitting the final papers for peer review is September 15th, 2023. If you have any questions, please email Mohamed A. Mohamed at [email protected]. Thank you!

Dr. Mohamed Mosaad Abdelaziz Mohamed
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Islam
  • fiqh
  • usul
  • maqasid
  • modernity

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

11 pages, 705 KiB  
Article
“The Maqāṣid Are the Qibla of the Jurists”: A Critical Analysis of Contemporary References to and Usages of Abū Ḥāmid Al-Ghazālī’s Dictum
by Eva Kepplinger
Religions 2024, 15(2), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15020165 - 29 Jan 2024
Viewed by 682
Abstract
Modernity reveals an intense preoccupation with the Intentions of the Sharia (maqāṣid al-sharīʿa) and reflections of premodern scholars on this legal concept. Within contemporary research in this field, the famous scholar Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111), who is counted among the [...] Read more.
Modernity reveals an intense preoccupation with the Intentions of the Sharia (maqāṣid al-sharīʿa) and reflections of premodern scholars on this legal concept. Within contemporary research in this field, the famous scholar Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111), who is counted among the pioneers of premodern contributions to the maqāṣid, occupies a special position. In addition to his general treatment of the maqāṣid, one dictum of his in particular is often referred to in the modern literature on the maqāṣid. The quotation reads: “The maqāṣid are the qibla of the jurists”, which he mentioned in his book Kitāb Ḥaqīqat al-qawlayn and is indicative of the central position of the maqāṣid in al-Ghazālī’s (legal) thought. My investigation of the contemporary, primarily Arabic, literature on the maqāṣid which cites this popular dictum reveals that the quote is used for many reasons and in various contexts; however, a fuller engagement with the quote itself and in the context of al-Ghazālī’s thought, as well as in his book, takes place very rarely, if at all, and even then, it is cursory. In order to embed al-Ghazālī’s dictum in the wider frame of his thought, this article first presents his general maqāṣid-related thought and consequently expounds on it in the context of his book. To better understand the usage of the quote in modern scholarship, the current maqāṣid literature that refers to the dictum is analyzed and categorized, showing how authors deploy it and to what end. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Critique of the Modern Discourse of Maqāṣid)
15 pages, 300 KiB  
Article
Maqāsid al-Sharī‘a in Islamic Finance: A Critical Analysis of Modern Discourses
by Necmeddin Güney
Religions 2024, 15(1), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15010114 - 16 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1397
Abstract
This study delves into the complexities surrounding the determination, interpretation, and application of maqāsid al-sharī‘a within modern Islamic economics and finance. By conducting an extensive review of classical and contemporary literature, this research explores the diverse methods and criteria employed for ascertaining maqāsid [...] Read more.
This study delves into the complexities surrounding the determination, interpretation, and application of maqāsid al-sharī‘a within modern Islamic economics and finance. By conducting an extensive review of classical and contemporary literature, this research explores the diverse methods and criteria employed for ascertaining maqāsid. It critically examines the inherent subjectivity involved in categorizing maqāsid, shedding light on the ambiguity in delineating their boundaries. Additionally, the study scrutinizes the unintended consequences of broader utilization of maqāsid, particularly in transactions such as bay‘ al-‘īnah, and evaluates the risks associated with prioritizing maslaha (utility) over textual evidence. The findings underscore the challenges posed by the subjective nature of maqāsid interpretation, illustrating how diverse perspectives can lead to differing conclusions. They emphasize the potential misuse of maqāsid for legitimizing practices contrary to the core principles of sharia. This research underscores the preservation of legislative intent and advocates a cautious approach to integrating maqāsid al-sharī‘a into Islamic economics and finance. The objective is to strike a balance that upholds Islamic principles. It highlights the essential need for collectively establishing standards for both macro and micro maqāsid and their usage in ijtihād, promoting responsible applications within contemporary Islamic finance for informed and ethical solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Critique of the Modern Discourse of Maqāṣid)
15 pages, 298 KiB  
Article
The Concept of God in Shaping the Use of Maqasid by Historicist Thought in Turkey: The Case of İlhami Güler and Mustafa Öztürk
by Meryem Ozdemir Kardas
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1539; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121539 - 14 Dec 2023
Viewed by 783
Abstract
In the modern era, the importance of Fazlur Rahman’s method of interpreting the Qur’an, which considers the historical dimension of revelation, is significant. Fazlur Rahman advocated renewal, emphasizing the maqasid in response to the new conditions and circumstances introduced by the modern era. [...] Read more.
In the modern era, the importance of Fazlur Rahman’s method of interpreting the Qur’an, which considers the historical dimension of revelation, is significant. Fazlur Rahman advocated renewal, emphasizing the maqasid in response to the new conditions and circumstances introduced by the modern era. Many theologians and thinkers in Turkey have taken note of and reinterpreted this method. In this study, I examine the perspectives of İlhami Güler and Mustafa Öztürk, who adopt a historicist approach to understanding and interpreting the Qur’an. I explore the particular conceptions of God and humans, on which they base their historicist perspective, according to the maqasid concept. I determine that their views on God’s attribute of speech (Kalam) and God’s relationship with time/history significantly shape their conception of God. I attempt to identify the relationship between their drawing of a distinction between word and meaning in the revelation of the Qur’an (lafdh and ma’na), and their efforts to renew Sharia law. Although both thinkers adopt a historicist approach, I highlight how they differ on some issues, especially on the word–meaning issue. Nevertheless, they converge on the idea that revelations are influenced by the human conditions prevailing at their time of emergence. Moving from that proposition, they argue that, today, while preserving the fixed structure of religion, Sharia should be updated in the light of current conditions. I demonstrate how they believe in the idea, especially in the case of Güler, that while God previously changed Sharia, humans should now initiate this change. In this updating activity, maqasid serves as a link binding religion and Sharia together. I suggest that they treat maqasid as a reference point representing the essence of religion (ad-Din) for the renewal of Islamic thought today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Critique of the Modern Discourse of Maqāṣid)
28 pages, 503 KiB  
Article
The Search for Originality within Established Boundaries—Rereading Najm al-Dīn al-Ṭūfī (d. 716/1316) on Public Interest (maṣlaḥa) and the Purpose of the Law
by Serdar Kurnaz
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1522; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121522 - 8 Dec 2023
Viewed by 589
Abstract
With the arrival of the twentieth century, in their legal theory, Muslim scholars began emphasizing public interest (maṣlaḥa) and the objectives (maqāṣid) of the Sharia. This stood often in contrast to the standards of traditional legal theory. To overcome [...] Read more.
With the arrival of the twentieth century, in their legal theory, Muslim scholars began emphasizing public interest (maṣlaḥa) and the objectives (maqāṣid) of the Sharia. This stood often in contrast to the standards of traditional legal theory. To overcome this gap, scholars searched for concepts of premodern scholars, interpreted them in a way that allowed focusing on abstract categories like maṣlaḥa. An often-quoted figure in this regard is Najm al-Dīn al-Ṭūfī (d. 716/1316). In his hadith commentary entitled al-Taʿyīn, al-Ṭūfī developed a legal framework in which he gave precedence to maṣlaḥa over the Quran, Sunna, and Consensus in cases where there are conflicts between these sources concerning the ruling for a given matter. Many contemporary scholars interpret al-Ṭūfī’s concept from a modern perspective. This approach either leads to overemphasizing al-Ṭūfī’s theory or rejecting it entirely. The present study will analyze al-Ṭūfī’s theory of maṣlaḥa within the established premodern epistemological and hermeneutical boundaries that al-Ṭūfī himself accepted. In doing so, it will locate al-Ṭūfī’s conception of maṣlaḥa in its historical context and in relation to al-Ṭūfī’s biography. The study will show that al-Ṭūfī’s theory, regardless of its modern reception, and with all its pitfalls, is an original attempt to find new ways for deriving norms within the boundaries of a well-established legal theory and in a specific historical context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Critique of the Modern Discourse of Maqāṣid)
14 pages, 312 KiB  
Article
Abū Yaʿrub al-Marzūqī and His Critique of the maqāṣid Theory
by Abdessamad Belhaj
Religions 2023, 14(9), 1212; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14091212 - 21 Sep 2023
Viewed by 756
Abstract
The purpose of this essay was to examine and evaluate Abū Yaʿrub al-Marzūqī’s criticism of the maqāṣid theory. Al-Marzūqī is mostly concerned with epistemology and ethics. He contends that the maqāṣid theory is insufficient to assert access to God’s meaning in Islamic law, [...] Read more.
The purpose of this essay was to examine and evaluate Abū Yaʿrub al-Marzūqī’s criticism of the maqāṣid theory. Al-Marzūqī is mostly concerned with epistemology and ethics. He contends that the maqāṣid theory is insufficient to assert access to God’s meaning in Islamic law, since it is based on shaky processes of knowledge, particularly that of ratiocination, taʿlīl. On the other hand, he challenges the maqāṣid jurists’ authority to define the goals of the law in the absence of popular support. Additionally, he charges the maqāṣid jurists with endorsing political authority so that it can utilize the maqāṣid method to defend specific policies in the name of upholding the public interest. His primary claim is that the maqāṣid theory exhibits arbitrariness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Critique of the Modern Discourse of Maqāṣid)
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