Legal Aide

Article excerpt

Legal Aide Imam Shtaibi's Theory of the Higher Objectives and Intents of Islamic Law Ahmad al-Raysuni (trans. Nancy Roberts) 2005. pp. xxxvi+441. PB. $25.00. The International Institute of Islamic Thought, London and Washington

Knowledge of al-maqaasid al-shari'ah (the higher objectives and intents of Islamic law) is a perquisite in any attempt to address and resolve contemporary issues challenging Islamic thought. Indeed such knowledge can help in the process of developing a much needed objectives-based fiqh for minorities and is essential for anyone interested in understanding and appreciating the concept of Divine wisdom underlying Islamic rulings.

With the end of the early Islamic period, Muslim scholars sensed that a rift had begun to emerge between the teachings and principles of Islam and the Muslims' daily reality and practices. They sought to restore the intimate contact between Muslims and the Qur'an through studying the objectives of Islam, the goals underlying the Shari'ah. They made it clear that every ruling in Islam has a function, an aim, a cause (be it explicit or implicit), and an intention. All of these are designed to benefit human beings or to ward off harm or corruption. Scholars showed how these intentions and higher objectives might at times be contained explicitly in the Qur'anic text and the Sunnah, while at other times they may be brought to light based upon scholars' understandings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah within a framework of time and space.

Al-Raysuni's study is a pioneering contribution, presenting a comprehensive theory of the objectives of Islamic Law in its various aspects, as well as a painstaking study of objectives-based thought pioneered by al-Shatibi-recognized as the father of objectives-based jurisprudence. …