Question 43: Assalaamualaykum warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuh
Dear respected Shaykhs
Can you enlighten us about the Maqasid Quran, please?
I was in a restaurant and I heard this man (a well educated professor in a local uni) talked about Quran and that we follow the backward Quran and he follows Maqasid Quran.
Jazaakumullaahu khayran wa BaarakAllaahu feekum
Wassalaamualaykum warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuh
Answer: Assalamu alaikum Sister,
I assume the person was talking about Maqasid Shariah, but he may have called it Maqasid Quran perhaps due to sensitivity of using the word Shariah these days. The term commonly used ofcourse is Maqasid Shariah.
Maqasid Shariah refers to understanding Maqasid (goals and aims) of the various fiqh rulings specifically and of them together. So for example what is the goal in Islam for asking men and women to lower their gaze from looking at member of opposite gender who is not Mahram. This goal intended in Islam is deduced and understood by scholars, example in this case so that men and women do not become attractes to strangers which then contributes to preserving marriages which in turn contributes to continuation of human race.
So Maqasid Shariah involves scholars determining the goals in Islam from each ruling or generally.
This field of study was not there as a separate field of study for centuries in Islam. Initially it was understood and known to scholars as part of fiqh to understand the goals, wisdom and ellah (all 3 are separate things). Scholars about 7 centuries ago began writing it as a chapter within their book or as a small booklet on its own. In less than the last century perhaps, some Muslims started to speak a lot about it for a variety of reasons. One reason was to understand the great purpose in various injunctions in Islam. Another was for valid fiqh appications. But for some it was a way to not follow Islamoc practices in the name of Maqasid Shariah!
Thus some scholars expressed this very aptly that contemporary discourse of ‘Maqasid Shariah is a double edge sword’. Because Maqasid Shariah knowledge can help a scholar of fiqh be better at what he does while it can also be an excuse for someone not wanting to follow Islamic practices to hide behind a false understanding to the name of Maqasid Shariah.
Besides strengthening our Iman from knowledge of far reaching goals to Islamic practices, the best usage of Maqasid shariah, is that it helps a scholar of fiqh to determine whether a new recent issue is halal, haram, etc, when the ruling resembles two different issues. By knowing the goals of each issue in fiqh, when a new issue comes and seems resembling two different similar issues, it helps to see which one it resembles closer, to what extent, under what circumstances and with which criteria/conditions. So the true benefit of Maqasid shariah is in new situations which have no rulings and yet resemble two similar closest cases.It also helps to know in which case exactly a certain fiqh ruling applies, etc.
But the WRONG USE OF Maqasid knowledge (whether of Shariah or Quran) is to claim that we understand the goal of a certain Ruling, then to claim that in our case we can fulfil the same ruling EVEN WITHOUT the way of Quran/Islam, INSTEAD by doing something else. An example of this is to say that we are pious today and more mature as human beings and as such it does not matter if we looked at the members of opposite gender since the goal to not look is to avoid attraction and given that we are mature in the 21st Century, we can look – thus they wrongly claim that they are following the spirit/goal of tue Quran/Islam/Shariah, which is to bot be attracted to a stranger of opposite gender, while the actual prohibition mentioned in the Quran (ie lower gaze from haraam temptation) is now ignored and the prohibited thing is actually done in the name of following the goals/maqasid/spirit instead of the letter!
Another example is what some people have wrongly said that the goal of hijab is similar to that mentioned above and we are mature in todays time and we can achieve the same goal through simply a modest dress that is considered in our time, even if it does not cover the hair!
This is a very wrong approach and wrong use of Maqasid. Because Allah said a statement to be followed as it is said with the choice of words – the LETTERS. If following goals was intended, Allah would have mentioned the goals and wisdom whereas in reality most often Allah mentions what to do and not whu to do it because for one reason that the ‘why’ is something from divine level of wisdom, aims and knowledge and we may grasp some of these goals/wisdom whereas the complete set of them is in many matters way beyond our human level of data availability and processing ability. Thus it is a grave mistake to claim that we have understood the true goals of a matter in Quran/Islam/Shariah and then leave the matter prescribed in the texts and instead following a way of our own to meet those assumed goals.
To sum up, Maqasid is knowledge of goals, a double edged sword indeed, which when used properly helps to strengthen Iman, confidence in Islamic practices, helps a scholar to find rulings and conditions for those rulings for matters which stand between two resembling cases, etc. But the erroneous way to use Maqasid is to claim we know the goal and then stop applying the letter of the text, and isntead come up with our own limited human understanding way to meet those assumed goals or Maqasid! When used in this erroenous way, that pursuit of Maqasid actually removes the Iman and A’amaal (ie deeds in obedience of Allah) from the person’s life.
A very important point to keep in mind is that for a true usage of Maqasid, a person first needs to be a strong well grounded scholar of fiqh and usul fiqh before truly deducing and grasping the goals/maqasid whereas most people who say they are following Maqasid do not even have a scholar level training and qualification in fiqh let alone that of usul (principles of) fiqh. On the other hand, every firmly grounded scholar of fiqh knows maqasid by virtue of what their training and work includes.
This has been very long but I do pray it makes sense to the readers.
And Allah knows best.