Objectives of Shariah

To fulfill its intrinsic goal of achieving benefit and justice, Shariah sets forth certain timeless principles, which deal with the necessary, supplementary, and voluntary realms of human lived experience.

As with any liberties, certain provisions in Shariah open avenues for advancement whereas some are designed to keep people from stepping over the rights of others. In his essay titled “The Objectives of Shariah,” Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, former professor of law at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, explains that Shariah encourages work and trade so that individuals are able to earn a living. Similarly, Shariah urges the pursuit of knowledge and education to ensure the intellectual growth and development of people. On the other hand, theft is punishable because it threatens the inherent right of property. In addition, adultery and alcohol consumption are prohibited because the former violates the sanctity of the family unit and the latter has the potential to impair one’s intellectual capacity, leading to the abuse of other people’s rights.

After securing these necessities, Shariah supplements them by removing hardships. God states in the Quran, “God wants ease for you, not hardship.” (Quran 2:185) He also says, “And He has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.” (Quran 22:78) The permissibly of hunting for food and profit sharing, for instance, are concessions which facilitate human life. Likewise, the prohibition of exploitative or doubtful contracts prevents harm.

Furthermore, God assures, “… if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, then he is guiltless, for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 2:173) This has given rise to the Islamic legal principle, ‘Necessities make the prohibited permissible.’ For instance, fasting during Ramadan is obligatory. Yet, if someone cannot fast due to a medical reason, they may skip the fasts in that month and compensate for them through alternatives outlined in Shariah.

Lastly, after protecting the essential rights of people and granting complementary concessions, Shariah focuses on additional and voluntary factors that enhance and refine life. For instance, fasting outside of Ramadan is added worship which falls under this category. Developing good habits and perfecting one’s interpersonal skills are also extra deeds. Similarly, desires and comforts which beautify life, such as fine clothing, nice furniture, and delicious food, are incorporated here, provided one does not indulge in them at the cost of their physical and spiritual health.

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