Title:                Maqasid-e-Shari’at

Author:            Prof. Dr. Muhammad Nejatullah Siddiqi

Publisher:        Idara-e-Tahqeeqat-e-Islami, International Islamic University, Islamabad

Maqasid-e-Shari’at (Objectives of Islamic Laws) is a book authored by Prof. Dr. Nejatullah Siddiqi. Prof. Siddiqi hails from India. He is the winner of the King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies. Born in India in 1931, he was educated at Aligarh Muslim University as well as Rampur and Azamgarh.

In this book, Prof. Nejatullah Siddiqi suggests that the way to respond to current challenges and circumstances in Islamic spirit shall utilize broader intellect, experiences and abilities in the Muslim society. In economic, health and scientific matters, experts of these fields also have a role to play in making us understand the implications and effects of the challenges and appropriate response to those challenges. For the experts in these fields, it is important to be well versed in understanding Qur’an to contribute their perspective in such debates. The author emphasizes that such collaboration and exchange shall be looked in positive light.

The author highlights the importance of context in deducing knowledge. Deducing universal ruling shall confirm that whether knowledge was contextual or was it meant to be a universal guideline. Often, the morale may be universal and the way to conduct a particular matter in different time and space may use different ways. For example, method or mechanism to do trading, business and teaching evolves with time, but principle and values of justice, fairness and cooperation are universal.

The author highlights the challenges posed by rapid globalization, proliferation of communications technology, rise of democratic nation states and unprecedented migration that has happened across continents for industry, trade, employment and education. Not every change is evil and necessarily puts faithful population in disadvantageous position. There are positives that can be embraced and there are negatives which shall be identified and appropriately tackled.

The author emphasizes the need to take a broader and comprehensive approach in responding to challenges by taking cue from Maqasid-e-Shari’at in contemporary matters where there is no direct and explicit guidance available from Islamic sources of knowledge. He favours extending the Maqasid-e-Shari’at to include human dignity, basic freedoms, justice, poverty alleviation, social protection, social justice, equitable distribution of wealth and income and finally, global call to action and cooperation to ensure achievement of these aims.

For Islamic finance, the respected author suggests that product development in Islamic finance shall take a broader perspective rather than just taking the perspective of major sponsors. Taking a narrower commercial perspective, some liquidity management products may get introduced in the system, but if the broad implication on macroeconomy, society and equitable distribution of income and wealth are given consideration, then the product development would tend to focus more on egalitarian and inclusive modes of finance, such as Mudarabah and Musharakah. Understanding benefits and costs of commercial products from the social, macroeconomic and developmental standpoint would be better understood if economists and social scientists are also engaged in the process and discourse. The noted scholar also cautions that understanding benefits and costs requires careful analysis from the perspective of many stakeholders who may be dispersed in time and space. The author wishes to see strong coordination and collaboration in future to usher an appropriate collective response that has positive implications for the society at large, both at present and in future.

The book provides an engaging discussion on contemporary discourses and the author presents examples to illustrate his thoughts. It is an interesting read for anyone interested in understanding Islamic perspective and response to contemporary realities, issues and challenges.