Actualisation (Taf’il) of the Higher Purposes (Maqasid) of Shariah

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Mohammad Hashim Kamali


The higher purposes, or maqasid, of Shari’ah are applied and actualised through their means (wasa’il). Since the maqasid are not applied directly, they are usually a step further removed from actual practice. For the maqasid to be actualised, the first step would naturally be to identify the maqsad one is having in mind. This would give rise, in turn, to a question as to how is the maqsad or purpose of Shari’ah actually identified, and which method, if any, is used toward that end. The maqasid are divided into several types. According to one of its classifications, they are divided into two types: maqasid of the Lawgiver (maqasid al-Shari’) which are mostly identified by the Shari’ah, and human purposes (maqasid al-mukallaf), which anyone can determine and identify for themselves. The Lawgiver’s purposes are identified in the Qur’an or hadith either directly or by allusion. Sometimes the text makes numerous references to something without actually saying that it is a Lawgiver’s purpose. When all such references are put together, their combined reading concurs on a certain purpose or maqsad. This process in known as induction (istiqra’) which is a generally accepted method for the identification of maqasid. A learned scholar of Shari’ah would know, for instance, that trustworthiness (amanah), truthfulness (sidq), justice, compassion, good character (adab, husn al-khuluq), unity among the faithful (wahah) and God-consciousness (taqwa) are among the maqasid of Shari’ah even if the text does not specifically say so. Istiqra’ partakes in ijtihad, so it would be reasonable to say that maqasid al-shari’ah are identified by the scripture or by ijtihad.

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