The pure divine law, i.e., Sharī’ah, as enshrined in the Noble Qur’ān and Blessed Ahādīth bear countless advantages, pearls of wisdom and benefit for those who sincerely accept and adhere to it.
Modernists, on the other hand, apply their hollow thinking methods to scuttle the application of the pure divine law – based on the Noble Qur’ān, Blessed Ahādīth, ‘Ijmā (consensus) of the Muslim Ummah and Qiyās (analogical deduction). Instead of denying the law, i.e., Sharī’ah, they apply the veneer of Islam – calling it ‘Maqāsid’ – upon their base and lowly desires and sugarcoat rulings that conflict with the entire history of Islamic scholarship.
Modernists use their intellect and deficient understanding to determine what contains benefit and what entails harm. In essence, the Maqāsid that are sourced from the pristine and unadulterated texts are being flipped on their head by the Modernists today and are being replaced with ‘Maqāsid’ that clash with the texts that are held with the highest of regard by Muslims worldwide.
The result of this leads to the total abolition of the religion of Islām. This is because once a person loses his faith in the pure Islamic law that he previously accepted and revered (because of Modernist propaganda), he will accept anything and everything thrown at him, especially if it has an Islamic flavor. The Modernist invents a ‘Maslaha’, i.e., a benefit he feels is expedient, and then uses it as the absolute authority, pushing the principles of Fiqh aside and even totally disregarding the consensus of the Muslim Ummah over the centuries.
The Modernist Attack
One of the favorite pastimes of the Modernists is to attack the Hudūd. These legal punishments that are required by Islam are deemed ‘backward’, ‘barbaric’, ‘ancient’, and so on. This propaganda is spewed by especially the “Compassionate” Imams, who have an agenda: to cause Muslims to lose faith in the rest of the Islamic laws.
A recent example that was thrown in our faces is the ‘saving lives’ excuse to close mosques, cancel hajj, cancel Friday prayers, etc., due to a so-called pandemic. Whilst saving lives is Islamic, this has been abused. The agenda: to cause Muslims to abandon the Houses of Allāh Ta’ālā. But countless infectious diseases have existed throughout Muslim history, some diseases far more deadly than covid, yet no mosques were closed, hajj was not canceled, Friday prayer was not shut down en masse. In some parts of the Muslim world, people have not prayed in congregation for two years! All this was justified by appealing to the importance of ‘saving lives’ based on the constantly changing views of so-called health authorities.
If the Compassionate Imams are so concerned about saving lives, did they screen themselves from their spouses at mealtime? Did they separate in their beds, or at least sleep with masks and a divider between them and their beloved partners? Why not? Do they not care about saving lives? Or does saving lives only apply to canceling acts of worship?
This is just one example, but the point remains: The ultimate aim of the Modernists is to abolish the religion of Islam and replace it with a new religion, new forms of worship and a new social structure based on whatever they feel stands as the ‘Higher Objectives of the Sharī’ah’. This is essentially a worship of the self and the subsequent implementation of every whim and desire man has.
Attempts to Abolish Islamic Law by Modernists
Here are some prominent examples of modernists:
First, Abdul Majīd Ash-Sharafī is someone who has placed lots of interest in the Maqāsid theory. He says that the Sharī’ah is living in a crisis with the current modern discourse. He goes on to say that there is no way out of this crisis except by getting rid of all the rulings which do not take the difference of environment time and place into account. He explains that disposal of such rulings, i.e., rulings contrary to modernity, can be done through various means. One of them is:
‘The need to get rid of the disease of adhering to the literal text, especially the Qur’ānic Text, and to give the Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah its due place in the enactment of updated legislation that suits the needs of contemporary society.’
Ash-Sharafī derived a conclusion from his thought process and said:
‘With this under consideration, an opportunity remains open for one to have different interpretations based on the needs of people, and the difference of their environments, times, and cultures’.
By reaching this conclusion, Ash-Sharafī abolishes the necessity of all of the main forms of worship in Islam: Salāh, fasting, Zakāt and Hajj, on the grounds that the Sharī’ah had come for the benefit of the interests of that specific time. Thus, he says:
‘If the Maqāsid brings elevation of the soul and achievement of justice through any other way, then we are not obliged to adhere to the specific legislative rulings of the Sharī’ah.’
Another Modernist, Al-Jābirī criticizes the work of the jurists (Fuqahā’) and says that they were preoccupied with linguistic issues rather than the Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah. In addition, he criticizes the principle used by the jurists which imply that a judgment depends on the presence or absence of a cause. Al-Jābirī calls for this principle to be changed so that the judgment or ruling depends on the presence or absence of the Maslaha (expediency). (We know by now that this expediency is determined by the Modernist himself). He gives the following example: Usury and interest are forbidden in Islam. However, Al-Jābirī permits some of the interest-based transactions and investments, stating that they are allowed because there is ‘no exploitation in them.’
The difference between the traditional scholars – who detailed and explained the Maqāsid based on the Noble Qur’ān and Blessed Ahādīth and the Modernist is that the Modernists use their own Maqāsid as a foundation upon which to twist and turn the laws of Islam according to the time and place. However, Islamic laws have stood the test of time and place for centuries already. What gives the Modernist the credentials and capacity to now wipe out an extremely solid structure and law system as understood by upright righteous scholars with much greater intellectual ability than the Modernist can ever dream of?
Muhammad Tahir Ibn Ashur wrote on the Maqāsid. Concurrently, he did a great disservice to Islam by adding Maqāsid that none before him did. In their foreword to the English translation of his work on Maqāsid, Anas S. Al-Shaikh Ali and Jasser Auda state:
‘But Ibn Ashur’s most significant contribution in this book has been the development of new Maqāsid by coining contemporary terminology that were never formulated in traditional Usūl Al-Fiqh. For example, Ibn Ashur developed the theory of the ‘preservation of lineage’ into ‘the preservation of the family system’, the protection of true belief’ into ‘freedom of beliefs’ etc. He also introduced the concepts of ‘orderliness’, ‘natural disposition’, ‘freedom’, ‘rights’, ‘civility’, and ‘equality’ as Maqāsid in their own right, and upon which the whole Islamic law is based.’
Now, the concepts introduced by Ibn Ashur resonate very strongly with the concepts propagated by Modernist and Deformist scholars today. ‘Freedom’, ‘rights’, ‘equality’ are words we hear practically all the time from the Modernist quarters. What makes it worse is the assertion that the whole of Islamic law is based on these (Modernist Deformist) concepts! We seek the help and protection of Allāh Ta’ālā.
‘Freedom of true belief’ was changed by Ibn Ashur to ‘freedom of beliefs.’ This basically opened the door to freedom of any and every belief system, whereas the Noble Qur’ān is emphatically clear in this regard:
‘Indeed the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves. And whoever disbelieves in the verses of Allah, then indeed, Allah is swift in [taking] account.’
Using Ibn Ashur’s work, Modernists today sing a song about Maqāsid and its great benefit. Yet, the Modernist cannot provide a clear meaning of Maqāsid –- which they abuse in order to prioritize their whims over the pure Divine Word. The loose and corrupt methodology of the Modernists does not cover any detailed explanation and plan of action for the application of their Maqāsid. This essentially places the corpus of the Sharī’ah in the hands of the ignorant and wayward to twist and turn how they want.
The primary motivating factor of the Modernist Maqāsid is protection, preservation and increase of life and wealth. This reeks of the love of worldly wealth and desire to live forever — precisely what the Noble Qur’ān and Blessed Ahādīth warn against.
The clear texts of the Sharī’ah cover expediencies for the body as well as the soul, whereas the Modernist Maqāsid only concentrates on the expediency of the body -– rendering man a spiritually bankrupt being, roaming around aimlessly fulfilling his base desires -– more like an animal in the jungle would.
The Modernists also carefully select the texts that give credibility to their views. This they would term ‘Nuanced Application.’ Now, this one text they find is applied across the board -– to every ruling of the Sharī’ah. This kind of thought is downright dishonest and will lead to significant embarrassment when placed before a genuine scholar who is knowledgeable of the science of Usūl-ul-Fiqh.
The Modernists cannot provide answers when faced with contradictions in their own thought and methodology. They cannot provide an alternative for Hudūd, for example. Yet, even a place where the Hudūd laws exist but are not practically implemented would definitely be a much safer place to live because just the thought of having one’s hand amputated as punishment for theft is a sufficient deterrent for serious crimes. In contrast, jail time does not seem to deter much and, on top of that, brings a significant amount of burden upon the taxpayer, like, to fund the prisons and courts.
Modernists seek to remove the essence and soul of religion from the lives of Muslims. Hence, when a Muslim blurts ‘Maqāsid,’ he or she mostly has no idea what the entire topic is about. The ‘Maqāsid’ that he supposedly understands have replaced the noble and pristine law he held so dearly for so long. This is the fundamental major crime of the Modernist and Compassionate Imams.
What do the Modernists do when the Maqāsid they propagate clash with the Maqāsid of other Modernists? What does the Modernist do when the Maqāsid he made up is no longer compatible with the times and place? Does the Modernist today live comfortably with the thought that after five or ten years, he will be denounced as ‘radical’, ‘barbaric’, and ‘backward’ by the Modernists of that time?
Islam does not change to cater to time and place, the time and place must cater to the laws of Islam. Allāh Ta’ālā says:
يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ
They wish to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths, but Allah will ˹certainly˺ perfect His light, even to the dismay of the disbelievers. [Surat As-Saff: 8]
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- Maqāsid Ash-Sharī’ah Between Modernist Thought and Usūlī Thought, Ibrāhīm Muhammad Siddīq
- The Modernist Discourse Surrounding Maqāsid Theory: A Critical Study, Dr Sultan Al-‘Umayrī
- Muhammad Tahir Ibn Ashur was born in 1879 in Tunis. After his studies in Tunis, he rose to a number of prominent positions and wrote many books. He wrote his work on Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah after meeting Muhammad Abdu – the infamous Egyptian reformist (actually, deformist) and was first published in 1946 in Tunis. After his meeting with Abdu, Ibn Ashur began writing articles on the need for reforming Islamic education, with special emphasis that Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah should occupy a special place in teaching and studying jurisprudence. His cherished aim was to establish Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah as an independent science, under the title of ‘Ilm Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah. ↑
- Treatise on Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah, Ibn Ashur, Translated by Mohamed El-Tahir El-Mesawi, The International Institute of Islamic Thought ↑
- Sūrat āl-‘Imrān: 19 ↑