Imam Al-Shatibi's Theory of The Higher Objectives And Intents of Islamic Law : Maqasid al-Shariah
By Ahmad Al-Raysuni
Introduction By Dr Taha Jabir Al-Alwani
Translated from the Arabic By Nancy Roberts
Publisher : The International Institute of Islamic Thought IBT
About The Book
With the end of the early Islamic period, Muslim scholars came to sense that a rift had begun to emerge between the teachings and, principles of Islam and Muslims' daily reality and practices. The most important means by which scholars ought to restore the intimate contact between Muslims and the Qur'an was to study the objectives of Islam, the causes behind Islamic legal rulings and the intentions and goals underlying the Shariah, or Islamic Law. They made it clear that every legal ruling in Islam has a function which it performs, an aim which it realizes, a cause, be it explicit or implicit, and an intention which it seeks to fulfill, and all of this in order to realise benefit to human beings or to ward off harm or corruption. They showed how these intentions, and higher objectives might at times be contained explicitly in the texts of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, while at other times, scholars might bring them to light by means of independent reasoning (Ijtehad) based on their understanding of the Qur'an and the Sunnah within a framework of time and space.
Al-Raysuni sheds light on al-Shatibi's inductive method, demonstrating both its value and importance. Sound approaches to understanding the Qur'an and Sunnah are promoted in particular by the author's discussion of the issue of ta`lil, that is, the practice of identifying the causes underlying Islamic Law and its rulings.
Imam Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi al-Maliki (d. 790)
Imam Shatibi grew up in Granada Muslim Spain and died in the year 790 Hijri. He is one of the foundational scholars of Usul al-fiqh or methodology of law whose books, like al-Ghazali's, are required reading in that field, he laid great emphasis on the requirement of complete knowledge and erudition in the Arabic language, not merely correct understanding, for those who practice ijtihad. In his book al-Muwafaqat fi usul al-shari`a (The congruences of the sources of the Divine Law) he held that the language of the Qur'an and the Sunna is the key to the comprehension of such scholars, and that the ijtihad of anyone deficient in this respect was unacceptable. Since the opinion of the mujtahid is a hujja or proof for the common person, this degree of authority necessitates direct access to the sources and full competence in
This book represents a pioneering contribution presenting a comprehensive theory of the objectives of Islamic Law in its various aspects, as well as a painstaking study of objectives-based thought as pioneered by the father of objectives-based jurisprudence, Imam Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi; in addition, the author presents us with an important study of al-Shatibi himself which offers a wealth of new, beneficial information about the life, thought and method of this venerable imam.
This volume is an excellent study of the ideas of al-Shatibi presented in an accessible language to help specialists and inform the ordinary interested reader. The author is a notable scholar and the work is a valuable addition to the literature on Islamic Law in the English language. Professor Zaki Badawi, Dean, The Muslim College.
'He grants wisdom to whom He pleases; and he to whom wisdom is granted receives indeed a benefitoverflowing; but none will grasp the Message but men of understanding'
(TM Qur'an 2:269)
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