Friday Sermon, Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura, 5 October 2012 / 18 Zulkaeddah 1432
Dear blessed jemaah,
Let us have taqwa to Allah s.w.t. Perform all of His commandments. Avoid all of His prohibitions. Hold on tight to the two living legacies of the Prophet s.a.w., that is the Al-Quran and Al-Sunnah.
My dear beloved brothers,
Every thing that happens certainly has their own causes, purposes and specific wisdom behind them. Truly, Allah s.w.t. does not create nor will something in vain. Surely, there is wisdom behind every of Allah’s command and determination. For this reason, in the revelation of the Al-Quran for example, has its own purpose which is a blessing and guidance for all of humankind. Allah says in Surah Yunus, verse 57:
Meaning: “O humankind! There has come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe, a guidance and a Mercy”
Al-Quran aims to provide us with the basic guidance of Islamic Syariah that we require to organize our life in this world. Islamic Syariah is holistic and comprehensive. It does not only relate to matters of jurisprudence and Fiqh, as commonly thought by some people. But it incorporates all aspects of the human life that includes personal, family and societal relationships. Islamic Syariah serves as a compass and a guide for Muslims based on morals, dignity and ethical considerations, as well as to strengthen our spiritual development.
My beloved brothers,
In principle, Islamic Syariah aims to preserve the well being of the individual and society. Islamic laws are established with the objective of defending this exact purpose, to assist in the betterment and perfection of human lives in this world. To understand the purpose of Islamic Syariah, renowned Islamic scholars such as Al-Ghazali, Imam Al-Shatibi, Ibnu Qayyim and Ibnu ‘Ashur have explained and deliberated profoundly on this knowledge of Maqasid Syariah.
But what is ‘Maqasid Syariah’? Why do we need to understand this and what is the benefit to our religious life? Maqasid Syariah is the objective established when deriving laws according to Islamic Syariah. It is a branch of Islamic knowledge that aims to explain the ‘why’s’ to Islamic laws. Understanding and learning the ‘Maqasid’ will increase our appreciation of the teachings of Islam and every of its laws and jurisprudence. It helps us to appreciate the spirit and considerations required to develop a particular ruling. In fact, understanding the ‘Maqasid’ has the potential to help us appreciate the need to abide by the commandments of Allah, while at the same time to give us the understanding of how important it is for us to avoid the prohibitions of Allah s.w.t.
For example, the ‘Maqasid’ provides us with answers to the objectives and purposes of the obligation of prayers, the prohibition of alcohol, and other aspects of Fiqh.
Similarly, we will find that the dimension of ‘Maqasid’ in Islamic Syariah provides the tools of discussion and deliberations by scholars through detailed studies on the verses of Al-Quran and the hadiths of Rasulullah s.a.w. in identifying the wisdom behind every implementation of Syariah of the laws of Allah s.w.t.
Among the essential ‘Maqasid’ that was identified is achieving people’s welfare, and this objective is achieved through mercy and justice. Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jauziyyah explains in his book ‘I’lam Al-Muwaqqi’in’ that the basis and foundation of Islamic Syariah is all about wisdom and achieving people’s welfare in this world and in the hereafter. It is based on the principles of justice and mercy. Therefore, all forms of injustices and oppressions that seek to bring harm and jeopardise the welfare of the people are not part of Islamic Syariah.
The discussion on ‘Maqasid Syariah’ is also aimed to increase our spiritual awareness in appreciating the need to serve Allah. Among the wisdom identified in ‘Maqasid’ is to establish taqwa in the hearts of a righteous servant, and this is the purpose for the commandment of the five daily prayers, the obligation to fast in the month of Ramadan and other good deeds that we perform.
‘Maqasid’ also provides the explanation to the wisdom behind the rules of performing charity or infaq, to do good unto others, to respect our neighbours and to spread compassion. The aim is to maintain social cohesion so that peace and harmony can be preserved. Rasulullah s.a.w. said in a hadith which means: “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honour his neighbour; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honour his guest.” Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim.
My dear beloved jemaah,
The scholars have classified ‘Maqasid’ into three levels of necessity: the basic needs or ‘daruriyaat’, general needs or ‘hajiyaat’ and perfection and luxuries or ‘tahsiniyaat.’ The basic need is the most important need placed by the Syariah upon each individual. This basic need is further classified intointo five things, and that is in the preservation of religion (Deen), life (Nafs), intellect (‘Aql), progeny (Nasb) and property (Ma’al).In discussing this,, Imam Al-Ghazali added one more component to the five, and that is the preservation of honour.
This basic need is an essential element in ensuring the benefit and well-being of humanity. That well-being will be jeopardy if, for example, the intellect or ‘Aql does not function properly. This is the objective behind the prohibition of alcohol and other substances that may impair the sanity and consciousness of our mind. For this same reason, Islam obliges us to seek knowledge. This is consistent with the hadith of Rasulullah s.a.w. which means: “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.” Hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad.
Human benefit or well-being will also be affected if no efforts are taken to ensure the health of the soul or ‘Nafs’ by ensuring the protection of our environment. This is one of the reasons why Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. prohibits all shapes and forms of harm, abuse and destruction to fellow humankind, animals or flora and fauna.
Human’s well-being is also affected if the economic system is not based on social justice. This is one of the reason why Islam prohibits usury, bribery, corruption, gambling and any forms of fraud in financial transactions. Similarly, Islam places importance in protecting one’s progeny or lineage (‘Nasb’). Islam places due concern on this matter and this can be seen through Islamic jurisprudence in promoting marriage, prohibiting adultery (zina), mandating the care and custody of children, payment of maintenance and so on. In fact, the ultimate goal of Syariah is none other than in the protection of the religion, and this need is beyond fulfilling our well-being in this world, but also for the benefit of the hereafter.
My dear blessed jemaah,
Islamic Syariah according to ‘Maqasid’ will certainly increase our understanding of the Islamic Syariah. The treasures and legacies left behind by Islamic scholars in the past must be preserved and continued so that our Islamic Syariah today will remain dynamic, relevant and able to achieve the aims as determined by Allah s.w.t.
May through our understanding of ‘Maqasid’, we will be able to continue to adhere to the teachings of Islam, appreciate the wisdom behind the laws of Allah s.w.t. and become his obedient servants. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.