The functions of maqasid as-shari’ah and shari’ah-compliance are not identical. The maqasid as-shari’ah is necessarily and sufficiently in agreement with the idea of shari’ah-compliance; but ‘‘shari’ah-compliance’’ as practiced today may not necessarily invoke maqasid as-shari’ah. It has been pointed out loosely that the maqasid as-shari’ah includes the goals of sustaining Islamic belief, self which comprehends progeny, needs which includes property and security, and intellect which includes knowledge, and sustainability of the Islamic community (Shatibi, 1884). There is a close correspondence between Shatibi’s delineation of the maqasid as-shari’ah and those explained by Imam Fakhruddin Razi and Imam Ghazali. This topic was covered earlier while discussing the concept of moral self-actualization in Islam. The comprehensive way of delineating moral development of society in terms of the shari’ah-compliant basket of essentials comprises necessaries (durruriyath), comforts (hajiyyath), and refinements (tahsaniyyath) of Shatibi. Likewise, according to Imam Fakhruddin Razi the moral development regime comprises ubudiyyah (life-sustaining by means of worship). To Imam Ghazali it meant sustaining knowledge and the world system in the light of inner surrender to the conscious oneness. Shah Waliullah joined in the projects of explaining the Islamic worldview as a comprehensive multidisciplinary and multidimensional quest for an integrated approach to real experiences. This experience extended across economics, society, politics, philosophy, science, and belief (ibadah). He focused his project on the Qur’an and the Sunnah to explain the need for the multidimensional approach in the comprehensive development future of Muslims. But he went beyond to universalize the Qur’anic message by launching the translation of the Qur’an into other languages. In so doing, Shah Waliullah introduced a dialectical methodology to the study of worldly phenomenology in the light of Islamic epistemology.
The maqasid as-shari’ah was thus seen as the comprehensive understanding of the Islamic law in addressing the time-bound problems of human societies. Even science as human pursuit was not missed out in this comprehensive structure of socio-scientific development prescription for the Muslim world (ummah). We have seen in this regard, that dynamic basic needs of life were at the center of all development prescriptions of the great learned Qur’anic scholars, the mujtahids, for the rise of the conscious world-nation of Islam (ummah). In such a precept of the maqasid as-shari’ah only, it is possible to realize the essential impact of the Islamic law in life’s overarching and integrative functions. The shari’ah-compliance concept makes objective sense only in such an understanding and application of maqasid as-shari’ah.
The idea of ‘‘shari’ah-compliance’’ is not necessarily that of maqasid as-shari’ah. Most often it is found that shari’ah-compliance as an idea has fell victim to an overly legal-religious interpretation of the shari’ah to specifics taken separately from the overarching general system worldview of Islam. Besides, the tenets of Islamic law became increasingly surrendered to such piecemeal interpretations and applications. The result was a differentiated interpretation (fiqh) of the Islamic law by different Islamic schools. Some of these interpretations have lost legitimacy across changes of events and their complexity in time. Above all, in none of these piecemeal approaches to the shari’ah-compliance concept is the epistemic idea of unity of knowledge and the world-system, the participatory worldview of this conscious oneness and the human future, in place. These greatest precepts are merely expressed in utterance without delivering the functional ontological understanding of the being and becoming of a dynamic sustainable moral development future.
In Ibn Khaldun’s philosophy of history (Mahdi, 1964) we find his immaculate praise of the shari’ah as the ideal law. But at the same time one condescends to Ibn Khaldun’s utter failure in explaining the shari’ah as the comprehensive law of the great overarching system that the Qur’an builds for humankind. In the end, the shari’ah as a systemic worldview of divine code of life and the worldly pursuits did not flourish in the writings of Ibn Khaldun. Ibn Khaldun was devoid of the holistic and multidimensional intellection of history that is found in Shah Waliullah. In modern times, the reawakening of movements for the shari’ah is by and large a political and commercial one. No intellectual emphasis is placed, and Islamic scholars have failed to realize the great overarching meaning of the shari’ah as the systemic holism of human experience, extending beyond society into science as well. We have dwelled on this issue earlier. Here we can point out the futility of the idea of shari’ah compliance mistaken for maqasid as-shari’ah. This remiss has darkened the intellectual acumen on the Muslim frontage of Islamic economics and finance. This demise that continues to ferment the Islamic intellectual growth is once again the fiqhi-basis of interpretation and understanding of the shari’ah. The emphasis has been on the particulars of the shari’ah in respect of specifics, rather than in deriving the particular from the general system worldview of conscious oneness. This kind of intellection ought to be premised on the foundational episteme of Islamic law. Yet the possibility of such a pursuit has drifted to the backbench, with only a detached mention of the maqasid as-shari’ah, rather than the instilling of its functional ontology in the scheme of ‘‘everything.’’
Taqi Usmani’s book (2004) presents the prevalent nature of detachedness of the shari’ah-compliance concept from the Qur’anic holistic overarching worldview of maqasid as-shari’ah. One can note a number of disturbing historical developments and their present days’ consequences on the shari’ah implications in Islamic economics and finance. Firstly, the field of the shari’ah has been restricted to affairs of economics, finance, commerce, and society. The greater implications of the shari’ah in science and the socio-scientific world are nowhere even referred to. Consequently, the common understanding of the shari’ah is not ontologically and analytically grounded on the Tawhidi episteme of conscious oneness. A segmented understanding of the shari’ah is erected by such a dichotomy between Sunnat Allah, the divine law that is impelled to govern the physical universe; and the shari’ah that is made to govern worldly matters (muamalat). Reference to Tawhid as the cardinal axiom of Islamic law being detached, the functional ontology of the Tawhidi worldview in action in relation to the socio-scientific world-system, remains benign. The inner dialectical essence of integrated and complementary development sustainability across the overarching multidimensional domain of intellectual inquiry and positive action as conceived by the great mujtahids has no discernible trace in the prevalent meaning of the Islamic law. Upon this contorted knowledge of the shari’ah, the notion of shari’ah compliance takes its roots. The result is consequential methodological independence between differentiated compartments of the intellectual disciplines. Such a differentiated view has led to the annoyance of de-harmonization between the maqasid as-shari’ah and shari’ah-compliance concepts among differing schools of theology, namely of the pitiful mazhabs. Mazhab has become a means of both dividing Muslims and make the world bereft of intellection in the greatness of Tawhid as the episteme of the maqasid as-shari’ah to the entire world. In the case of legal rules governing the contract and financing of the principal Islamic financing instruments there remain wide differences and no substantial advance in intellection and application.
The greater goal of maqasid as-shari’ah in the light of sustainability in the ummah has failed. In this failed portfolio there is ambivalence toward dynamic life-sustaining regimes of development, poverty alleviation, global networking of Islamic markets and institutions, and a unified determination of structures of ummah transformation, relevant policies, institutions, instruments, and participatory development within an intellectual, and fresh and learning vision of change. But it harkens to the fact that the intellectual capital of Islamic transformation has remained low. Islamic institutions and buyer–seller relations have not included the ways of inducing the moral law in their institutional consciousness. The maqasid as-shari’ah has thus been abandoned in the face of the catchword of shari’ah-compliance. The fuqaha using traditional fiqh analogies have approved of such dissociated bundle of rules for gaining legitimacy. An Islamic transformation has thus failed to realize in essence. Yet such an Islamic conscious change is not in sight through the route of contemporary Islamic economic, financial, social, and socio-scientific thinking.
The overarching and systemic issues underlying the understanding and application of maqasid as-shari’ah invoke a general-system learning model based on the episteme of conscious oneness. The methodology of conscious oneness is conceptualized and applied to all issues and problems of Islamic economics, finance, science and society. This methodological approach has not been understood by the fuqaha and the modernist scholars in the field of Islamic issues of science and muamalat. Contrarily, the dissociated ways of understanding maqasid as-shari’ah by relegating it to traditional fiqhi rules on specific issues has rendered the entire Islamic intellectual enterprise to the whims of divided Islamic schools of thought led by their juristic heads (Imams). Yet the Imams did not pronounce this pursuit at all. It is the latter days fuqaha and Islamic scholars along with institutions such as Islamic banks, Islamic Development Bank, Organization of Islamic Conferences Fiqh Council and the like that have caused such a rift to happen and deepen. The so-called shari’ah- compliant financial instruments today lie in utter disarray.
The fuqaha and Islamic scholars of the latter days have forgotten the most important premise of Islamic intellection in developing maqasid as-shari’ah across overarching domains of ‘‘everything.’’ This area of investigation comprises the way that conceptualization and rules (functional ontology) can be derived and formalized on the basis of the epistemic origin of conscious oneness for the world-system taken up in perpetuity of learning processes in reference to the Tawhidi unity of knowledge. Tawhid has become a mere uttered word, sounded in the backdrop of Islamic intellection. It has not been understood and used as a substantive learning power.
Excerpted from , “ISLAMIC ECONOMICS AND FINANCE – AN EPISTEMOLOGICAL INQUIRY” by Masudul Alam Choudhury