Assalaamu alaykum, dear Scholars. Can you please provide a proper definition for the following terms: Maqaasid Ash-Sharee’ah and Thawaabit Ash-Sharee’ah. Your assistance in the matter will be highly appreciated. May Allaah reward you.
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
Maqaasid Ash-Sharee’ah are the overall objectives which the Sharia aims to achieve for people to protect them and benefit them in their worldly matters and the Hereafter, such as the following:
(1) Preservation of Religion
(2) Preservation of Life
(3) Preservation of Wealth
(4) Preservation of the Mind
(5) Preservation of Lineage
Ash-Shaatibi said in Al-Muwaafaqaat, “Legislations have been set up in order to achieve the interests of people in their worldly matters and in their afterlife and to preserve the necessities, the needs, and the improvements.”
Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Among Maqaasid Ash-Sharee’ah is to preserve the (five) fundamental elements which all the Messengers of Allah commanded us to preserve, which are the following: Religion, Life, Mind, Lineage, Wealth, and Honor, and they also include facilitating matters and removing difficulty and hardship.”
Al-Faasi said in his book Maqaasid Ash-Sharee’ah al-Islaamiyyah wa Makaarimuha, “Maqaasid Ash-Sharee’ah means the ultimate objectives of the Islamic Sharia and the secrets (wisdom) which the Law Maker (Allah) has determined for every ruling of the Sharia.”
There are sub-categories for these objectives which we cannot cover in this fatwa.
As regards Thawaabit Ash-Sharee’ah (the fixed principles of the Sharia), then this is the term that generally means the fields that are not open for Ijtihaad (personal reasoning), such as the firm rulings which are evidenced by absolute clear-cut evidence, such as the Pillars of Islam and the Pillars of Eemaan (faith); the fundamentals of creed and acts of worship and the overall objectives of the Sharia; and the morals and values, such as honesty, loyalty and justice. These absolute and clear-cut rulings are firm and fixed, and there is no room for altering them, changing them, or making Ijtihaad about them.
Contrary to the Thawaabit are what is called Mutaghayyiraat (variables), among which are the means and rulings that are based on Ijtihaad, custom, and Al-Masaalih Al-Mursalah (unrestricted interests) and the like; these are different from the Thawaabit as they are subject to Ijtihaad and alteration. It is for this reason that Al-Ghazaali said in Al-Mustasfa, “The matters in which one can make Ijtihaad are every Islamic ruling that has no absolute evidence.”
Ash-Shaatibi said in his book Al-Muwaafaqaat, “The field of Ijtihaad consists of the matters that are probable to be explained in two different ways; the Law Maker's objective is clear in confirming one probability or negating the other, so they neither lean towards negation nor towards confirmation.”
Allah knows best.
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