Priorities Within The Sharia


islam-religion-muslim-wallpaper-2Many Muslims are concerned about upholding Islamic laws or the Sharia, but have they ever taken a step back to reflect on the wisdom and objectives behind the revelation of these laws? Islamic scholars have classified the different objectives of Islamic law (maqasid sharia) according to three categories in a descending order of importance: the daruriyyah (the essentials), the hajiyyah (the complementary) and the tahsiniyyah (the desirable or the embellishments).

This relates to the objectives that are essential or a must for the common welfare of humanity. It involves the protection of life, faith, intellect, lineage, and property. These are seen as absolute requirements to the survival and spiritual well-being of individuals, to the extent that their destruction or collapse would precipitate chaos and the demise of normal order in society. The Sharia seeks to protect and promote these essential values, and validates all measures necessary for their preservation and advancement.

This is defined as the actions or benefits that seek to remove any severity and hardship in cases where such severity and hardship do not pose a threat to the survival of normal order. A great number of the rukhsah (concessions), such as the shortening of the prayers andand the forgoing of the fast for those who are sick or travelling, may be classified as hajiyyah. In almost all areas of obligatoryworship, the Sharia has granted such concessions. These concessions are aimed at preventing hardship, the benefit being derived from the permission granted is to lessen an obligatory action or accommodate a temporary inability to perform such action.

This relates to efforts to attain refinement and perfection in human conduct. For example, the Sharia thus encourages cleanliness of the body and attire for the purposes of worship, and recommends, for example, the wearing of perfume when attending the Friday congregational prayer. The Sharia also encourages the giving of charity to those in need, over and above the obligatory charity (zakat).

What do the three categories mean for a lay Muslim like me?
With an appreciation of the various categories of objectives of Islamic laws, we need to reflect if we are prioritizing our efforts appropriately towards what is most important first (i.e., the daruriyyah) or whether we are overly focused on the hajiyyah and the tahsiniyyah that we forget the more important daruriyyah aspects. We need to understand that hajiyyahand tahsiniyyahare pursued to complement the daruriyyah, and NOT FOR THEIR OWN SAKE. We also need to question ourselves if some of the radical Muslim’s obsessions (e.g., killing non-Muslims) are consistent with any of the categories of objectives of Islamic laws.