Freedom is an objective too.

10/31/2015

"Imām Abū Hāmid al-Ghazālī (d.505AH/1111AC), a prominent and highly respected reformer in the fifth century Hijrah, classified the maqasid into five major categories by stating that:

“The very objective of the Sharī‘ah is to promote the well-being of the people, which lies in safeguarding their faith (dīn), their self (nafs), their intellect (‘aql), their posterity (nasl), and their wealth (māl). Whatever ensures the safeguard of these five serves public interest and is desirable, and whatever hurts them is against public interest and its removal is desirable.”"

 

It's interesting how someone who contributed so significantly to the sufi and non-material Islamic literature, sums up the 'maqasid' in these mostly material elements as a way to safeguard the well-being of humanity. It shows that people strategize and prioritize depending on the needs of their time, which necessitate change, as Muhammad Iqbal says: “I am, as long as I move; not moving, I am not.” If we are moving, then we must keep our teachings in motion with us.


I'm reading the entry of Umer Chapra's work on including freedom as one of the Maqasid Al-Shari'ah. He states that in doing so, we're making them more proactive, stemming from the freedom to nourish, develop, and grow these five elements, rather than the commonly used defensive or reactive nature to 'protect'.

 

Chapra says: "A fifth need of the human self is freedom. Freedom is indispensable for the development of the human personality. Without it he/she may lack the initiative and drive that are necessary for creativity and innovation and, consequently, for human development and well-being. As khalifahs of God, they are subservient to none but Him. Therefore, one of the primary objectives of Muhammad (pbuh) was to relieve mankind of the burdens and chains that have been imposed on them (al-Qur’an, 7:157). Serfdom of any kind, irrespective of whether it is social, political or economic is, therefore, alien to the teachings of Islam. Accordingly, no one, not even the state, has the right to abrogate this freedom and to subject human beings to any kind of bondage or regimentation. It is this teaching, which prompted ‘Umar, the second Caliph, to ask: “Since when have you enslaved people when their mothers gave birth to them as free individuals?”

 

"Therefore, while these [above mentioned by Al-Ghazali] five may be considered as primary (al-asliyyah), others may be referred to as the corollaries (tābi‘ah) of these."

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