by Dr. Iznan Tarip

Our current situation is plagued with Muslim leaders with a poor understanding of the religion. This then generates false “covenant” and misguided followership among the Muslim community. To address this, an essential part of the Maqāṣid Methodology project is to raise leaders or “fuqahā” to purify and transform the Islamic education system to realize the true Maqāṣid of the Sharī’ah. As such, leaders need to have strategic Maqāṣid thinking.

Fiqh means deep understanding, intellect, and leadership. It is not merely positional power but leadership lies in one’s knowledge and expertise. One branch of science that contemporary and future leaders need is Maqāṣid thinking, which refers to critical thinking toward achieving the Maqāṣid (objectives or purposes) of the Sharī’ah.

The Maqāṣid methodology thus explicitly proposes that executive development programs for current and future leaders also include strategic Maqāṣid thinking. “Strategic thinking” here refers to the ability to see the whole picture, from the needs of individuals within an organization, an organization’s developmental trajectory, as well as the interconnection with a plethora of external factors. “Maqāṣid thinking” is a specific ability to see the deeper objective or purpose as intended in Islam. It is not only done by the head, but primarily by the heart. The heart is the seat of knowledge and a powerful instrument for deep learning and comprehension. It enables creativity and intuition needed for the ever-evolving landscape. The heart is also geared towards achieving the Maqāṣid of the Sharī’ah, and ultimately, Allah’s pleasure.

Hence, a heart-centered Islamic leadership with strategic Maqāṣid thinking is called for to lead others and mobilize resources to achieve the Maqāṣid of the Sharī’ah. There are several benefits of strategic Maqāṣid thinking for leadership:

1- Clarifying the Islamic philosophy and worldview

The issue that can be seen is that Muslim leaders do not understand Islam in greater depth, assuming that the five pillars are the only obligations. With Maqāṣid thinking, leaders can be equipped with the true meaning of Islam, as revealed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. This leads to holistic strategic development rather than superficial Islamicity.

2- Purpose-driven leadership

Muslim leaders lacking meaningful purpose in life may lead their respective organizations ineffectively overall. This then generates dissatisfaction and eventual separation within the community. Purposeful leadership is needed to ensure effective organizational development connected to the larger picture as envisioned in Islam.

3- Grounded in reality

Another issue that plagues the community is that our Muslim leaders are removed from reality. Caught up in their traditional Islamic studies, translating to current realities is a struggle for many. Maqāṣid thinking challenges and pushes leaders to think critically and strategically, and apply them to improve the community.

4-Informed by strategic lessons from history

Blind imitation of old traditions has led to a weakening of the minds and hearts. Rather, Maqāṣid thinking pushes for a critical examination of history and learning strategies from them.

4-Possess ethics of disagreement

Blind imitation of old traditions has led to a weakening of the minds and hearts. Rather, Maqāṣid thinking pushes for a critical examination of history and learning strategies from them.

5-Unite East and West

The intellectual division between the East and West is still apparent, unfortunately. Many Muslim leaders have not yet mastered the capability to unite the two. Part of the Maqāṣid methodology is to be able to synthesize lessons learned from the East and the West.

6-Unite differing schools of thought

The general Muslim still sees that the differing schools of Islamic jurisprudence or any other schools of thought are “mutually exclusive and even conflictual.” This has led to stunted development in many parts of the Muslim communities around the globe. Maqāṣid thinking enables leaders to weigh differing opinions and find suitable solutions to address contemporary issues.

Executive development programs can then be crafted to develop heart-centered Islamic leadership. The curriculum is not only theory-laden but also experiential and reflexive, engaging heads, hands, and most importantly, hearts. Training sessions can then come in various forms:

Training by the head

  • The foundational Maqāṣid Methodology online class is a great move forward, which can further be supplemented with specific sessions on strategic thinking and strategic Maqāṣid thinking.
  • The class can also be devised for executives who prefer face-to-face sessions with lots of discussions and case studies.
  • Standardization is another potential move with exams to set a stronger quality benchmark.

Training by the hand

  • o Although there are no specific technical skills for strategic Maqāṣid thinking, there are still various pedagogical approach to train the hand.
  • o Hands-on practical and experiential learning are useful pedagogy as an additional dimension to learn about Maqāṣid Methodology and inculcate strategic Maqāṣid thinking.
  • o Retreat and work visits to places that “show” Maqāṣid Methodology is an interesting avenue that can be explored. This can range from historical sites to contemporary organization that attempts the Maqāṣid Methodology in their strategic thinking and operations.

Training by the heart

  • Purification of the heart in terms of inculcating virtues and struggling against vices are ongoing processes within a training session in particular.
  • Specific sessions can focus on virtues and values.
  • Deep reflection can be done individually and/or collectively.

It is imperative that heart-centered Islamic leadership be developed for its many benefits to the Ummah. More attention should be given to the heart, rather than the head and hand. Even with the various training sessions available, the process of developing this leadership is a life-long learning journey. Rather than waiting for training sessions, it is more important to take small steps now. One in particular is the daily reflections by the heart for self-leadership. As we embark on this enduring voyage of self-improvement and spiritual growth, it’s these small yet consistent steps that can help illuminate our path toward achieving the Maqāṣid of the Sharī’ah.


  • J. Auda, Re-Envisioning Islamic Scholarship: Maqasid Methodology as a New Approach” (London: Claritas Books, 2021)
  • Al-Ghazali, A. Ḥ. (2007). ’Ajā’ib al-Qalb (Wonders of the heart) (W. J. Skillie, Trans.). In W. J. Skellie (Ed.), Ihya ulum al-din (Revival of the religious science). Islamic Book Trust.
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