Maqasid at a Glance
The traditional classification of maqasid is represented by three levels of necessity. These include what is essential, what is needed and what enhances. The essential maqasid were defined as those dimensions of the shariah that served to preserve life, faith, intellect, progeny, dignity and wealth. Human welfare is jeopardized when any of these essentials are violated.
Today, the maqasid have been evolved along a number of important lines and research continues into the contribution that different understandings can make to our collective welfare. Modern scholarship has identified general maqasid or those observed throughout the entire body of Islamic law, specific maqasid or those observed throughout a sub-field of Islamic law and partial maqasid or those believed to underlie specific rulings. Today’s conceptions take greater account of larger social units and include such objectives as reform, women’s rights and human rights and dignity.
In their new light, the study and application of maqasid can help us respond to global issues and concerns, evolving from the wisdom behind the rulings to practical plans for reform and renewal. In other words, the maqasid are allowing us to honour Islamic objectives in our efforts to build diverse, constructive and robust communities.
*Extracted with minor edits from Maqasid al-Shariah: A Beginners Guide by Jasser Auda, IIIT: Washington.