The Maqasid of the Shari`ah: Nuanced Application or Genuine Abuse?

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.

RELATED: The History of Hadīth Rejection: The Roots of Modernist Deviance

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.

RELATED: Ikhtilāf: Debunking Modernist Appeals to an Important Concept

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[1] 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.’[2]

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.’[3]

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.

RELATED: Reviewing Yaqeen Institute: A Source of Certainty or Doubt?

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]

Follow Mufti Abdullah on Twitter: @MuftiAMoolla


  1. Maqāsid Ash-Sharī’ah Between Modernist Thought and Usūlī Thought, Ibrāhīm Muhammad Siddīq
  2. The Modernist Discourse Surrounding Maqāsid Theory: A Critical Study, Dr Sultan Al-‘Umayrī
  3. 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.
  4. Treatise on Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah, Ibn Ashur, Translated by Mohamed El-Tahir El-Mesawi, The International Institute of Islamic Thought
  5. Sūrat āl-‘Imrān: 19
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I agree with The honourable Mufti here (may Allah preserve him) regarding the double standards of closing mosques or forcing social distancing in mosque when there is no such mandatory closure or social distancing in other public places and events which get crowded. I also agree with you (Muslim skeptic team and fans) that things directly mentioned in Quran and hadeeth such as hudood are valid for all times and not barbaric. I’m not arguing or disputing at all regarding these things which are directly explicitly mentioned in Quran+hadeeth. In fact, high-crime regions like Latin America and South Africa could do with a bit of Hudood, since it would massively cut their crime rate by at least half.

However the author here is using the word “sharia” as if sharia is some monolithic rock and there is such thing as only one version of sharia. But the undeniable facts, truth and hard reality on the ground is that sharia is very flexible like clay and it is possible to have more than one correct version of sharia, just as how there is more than one correct med-heb or way to follow islam as a personal religion for personal matters. Apart from things which are directly mentioned in Quran and hadeeth (such as hudood, and 5 pillars including mosque juma), sharia is highly arbitrary and subjective, because there is no such thing as a “One size fits all” version of sharia and “one size fits all” set of laws which are the one and only correct version of sharia that must be forcibly imposed uniformly on everyone everywhere.

There are many Muslim/Islamist factions who each have their own version of sharia, and each one contradicts the other and claim their rival Islamist pro-sharia faction don’t have the “correct” version of sharia. They may even accuse their rival faction of following “fake sharia which is actually secular/liberal man-made laws according to their whims and desires”, because one faction declares ABC to be halal which must be legalized under sharia while XYZ is haram which MUST be criminalized under sharia, meanwhile the other rival faction says the exact opposite by claiming that XYZ is halal so does not have to be criminalized in sharia in a true Islam country. That XYZ could be musical instruments, TV, or many things which are debated if it is halal or haram for women to do.

To prove the point that I’m making, I suggest that Muslim Skeptic learn about an Islamic group called “Majlisul Ulama of South Africa” (let’s abbreviate that to MUSA), or maybe get in contact with them if you can to talk with them about their “everything is haram” worldview. They have been around since the Apartheid era and preaching the same things for decades, which makes them a more credible and legitimate real genuine. You (Muslim skeptic and fans) may think that you are the most Conservative/orthodox and strictest Muslims in the world, but you will be shocked at how ultra-orthodox MUSA is. Here is the list of extra things that Majlisul Ulama declare to be haram (you can verify this by extensively reading their two websites, or better yet, by getting into contact with them or meeting them):

– All photos/videos/TV (idolatry images of humans),
– all sports and games, including football and cricket and chess (“teshebboh Bill cuffar” or imitating infidels)
– all “merry-making”, leisure activities and entertainment, including fireworks (imitating infidels)
– wearing “western” clothes such as suit/tie and T-shirt (imitating infidels)
– clapping (imitating infidels)
– women and even men exposing their elbows in public, laughing loudly, and eating in public (violating haya modesty)
– microphones in mosques, and reading jumma khutbah from iPhone or iPad (bid-ah in Ibaadah),
– Quran competitions (capitalist commercialization of Allah’s book)
– eating with knife+fork, and sitting on chair at table (imitating infidels) instead of sitting cross-legged on floor and eating with hands like the Sunnah.
– women driving cars or horses, going to weddings and graveyards, or doing anything other than home lockdown (since it contradicts the purdah nasheen home isolation lifestyle based on Quran 33:33),
– Any kind of mixed/co-ed or even female-only institutions outside their home (including girl’s schools and madrassahs and colleges, and women-only gyms and swimming pools and salons (because they contradict the purdah-nasheen lifestyle).
– women “prostituting their voices” by speaking in public such as on radio or YouTube like what Mrs Haqiqatjou did who also exposed her hands and eyes (because women’s Aura/Haya modesty includes even their normal spoken voices, hands and eyes, and even their names).
– 100% of ALL vaccines for any disease, because MUSA listened to the conspiracy theory that 100% of ALL vaccines (for any and all diseases) are only harmful and there is no such thing as a good safe vaccine.
– many types of modern medical procedures including blood donations/transfusions, husband-wife IVF, and organ transplants (mutilating human body).

There are many so-called “moderate” Muslims who are the majority population of major cities throughout the Muslim world, and they refuse to accept the Taliban’s harsh cruel draconian version of sharia (which MS and his fans seem to think is the only true correct version of sharia) because these urban moderate Muslims prefer a lighter milder more tolerant version of sharia with far less social restrictions, because they refuse to accept your theory that 100% of all music with instruments is haram which must be a crime, or your theory that Zimmies must be forcibly prevented from building new church/temple in Muslim country, or the Taliban+Da-esh policy that clean-shaven men and bare-headed women must be beaten up and jailed just for refusing to wear beard or burka/hijab. And unlike you (MS) these urban “moderate” Muslims strongly support the right of women to do nearly all the professions and hobbies that men can do (including military and police), in addition to supporting many women who CHOOSE to be (not forced to be) full-time housewife and stay-at-home mother. You have the audacity to call these kind of urban Muslims who don’t want to be as Conservative as you as “modernists” and/or “secular liberal feminists who are changing the deen of Allah to fit in with their whims and desires”. However MUSA have declared almost EVERYTHING to be haram (including many of the things that you MS and Taliban consider halal and often do), to the point that if you compare their (MUSA’s) views to yours, YOU end up looking like the “Westernized woke secular liberal feminist MODERNISTS” because you don’t make haram or criminalize the many things that they do.

Most of the ultra-conservative groups who claim to champion sharia promote the view that “According to sharia, EVERYTHING which is haram in Islam MUST be criminalized in a real true Islam state by jail or whipping or chopping or executing just for doing that thing”. Now bearing that in mind, Imagine a scenario if an armed political group takes over state power in a Muslim country or the future caliphate of Islamistan, and this group agree with all the “everything is haram” worldview of MUSA. In this country, 99.9% of the population are regularly doing things that MUSA have declared haram, such as camera, photo/video, TV, social media use, all sports and games, sitting on chair at table, eating with knife and fork, taking non-covid vaccines, wearing short sleeves, eating in public, girls schools, women driving, mike in mosque, and more. According to MUSA and similar-minded mullahs, ALL these things must be criminalized and punishable with beating up or jail or chopping or execution, because of the theory which you believe in that “everything which is haram in Islam must be a punishable crime in a true Islamic country under true real sharia”. Your own theory (this theory) comes back to haunt you and painfully bite you so hard if a faction who agrees with MUSA’s worldview takes over the power of ruling the country that you live in.

So HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT if you were in this country and the new MUSA-inspired regime of this country then started going on a nationwide wild berserk rampage of arresting, imprisoning, beating up, maybe torturing, and massacring millions of people (including yourself) just because you refuse to declare haram or stop doing all these extra things that MUSA declared haram? Don’t you find this “pure Islamic sharia” regime too oppressive as a result of being too conservative/strict/harsh? So when the self-proclaimed so-called “conservative orthodox” Muslims Iike you (MS and his fans) insist that all those extra things are halal and not haram so must be legalized and not be criminalized in sharia, then the MUSA-inspired regime accuses you of “Changing Allah’s Deen and sunnah/sharia by making haram what Allah made halal, just to fit in your whims and desires and pursue your agenda to mutate islam to fit in with the modernist western secular liberal feminist woke ideology of your western masters that you love so much or worship.” Consequently based on this, they may accuse you of “betraying Islam” and maybe even try to prosecute you for Apostacey (Ridda). THAT IS EXACTLY how the mostly urban “moderate” Muslims (who are less Conservative than you and want the lighter milder tolerant Soft version of sharia) feel, when your ilk accuse them of being “westernized/woke/secular/liberal/feminist/modernists who are changing Allah’s Deen/sunnah/sharia to match their whims and desires and pursue western agenda to deform Islam”. The majority of urban “moderate” Muslims are to you, what you are to more ultra-conservative hardline Islamists like MUSA.

Abu Bakr

Masha Allah, I have to admit this is well written. I really enjoyed reading it.
You know, the modernist ideology is been spread out on social media and I was wondering if it is possible that you already have a lecture delivered about Maqasid Al-Shari-ah, if yes, I would like to have it, and if No. Then I would recommend you spread a lecture specifically on Maqasid Al-Shari-ah.
Even if it is in Arabic.