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Maqasid al-Shari'ah and Its Overview

In this analysis, we're discussing an in-depth journey to explore to answer the questions of what is Maqasid al-Shari'ah in Islamic economics and finance in contemporary times. Maqasid al-sharia is the prime objective of IEF. These are the higher objectives and ethical principles that underpin the entire Islamic financial system and it has five fundamental pillars. The five pillars of Maqasid al-Shari’ah are preventing faith, preventing life, preventing intellect, preventing lineage, and preventing property. However, nowadays, the majority of scholars consider that maqasid al-Sharia is classified beyond these 5 pillars by adding one more term known as human dignity.

The pillars of Maqasid al-Shari’ah

1. Preserving Faith (Din): This is the core of Maqasid al-Sharia. Islamic economics and finance aim to ensure that financial activities and transactions are conducted in a way that upholds the principles and values of Islam, fostering a deep connection between spirituality and finance.

2. Preserving Life (Nafs): This is also a broader perspective that reveals preserving life (Nafs). This encompasses ensuring the financial system doesn't harm individuals' physical or mental well-being through exploitative or harmful practices.

3. Preserving Intellect (Aql): The third pillar of Maqasid al-Sharia also emphasizes preserving intellect (Aql). Islamic finance promotes investments and transactions that are rooted in wisdom, knowledge, and ethical reasoning, discouraging speculative and unjust practices.

4. Preserving Lineage (Nasl): This is beyond transactions, preserving lineage (Nasl) holds significance. Islamic economics and finance encourage financial practices that contribute to stable family structures and communities, promoting social cohesion and the well-being of future generations.

5. Preserving Property (Maal): This is the central part of the maqasid al-sharia. This includes safeguarding individuals' wealth and property rights while discouraging theft, fraud, and any unethical means of acquiring wealth.

Similarly, another paramount point related to maqasid al-sharia is human dignity. Human dignity is a fundamental concept that underpins many aspects of the economic and financial system. It referred to as "Karamah" in Islamic terminology, is deeply rooted in the teachings of Islam and is considered a cornerstone of ethical economic behavior. Here's how human dignity is perceived in the context of Islamic economics and finance:

Equal Worth and Value: Islamic economics emphasizes that all human beings, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, or nationality, possess inherent dignity and are equal in the eyes of Allah. This principle underscores that no one should be exploited or treated unfairly in economic transactions.

Social Justice: Islamic finance and economics are built on principles of social justice. Ensuring that people's basic needs are met and that they have access to essential resources, is seen as a way to uphold human dignity. This includes providing for the poor and marginalized through mechanisms like Zakat (charitable giving) and interest-free loans (Qard al-Hasan).

Fair and Ethical Trade: Islamic economics promotes fair and ethical trade practices. Exploitative practices, fraud, and deceit are strictly prohibited, as they go against the dignity of individuals and harm society as a whole.

Economic Participation: Islamic finance encourages economic participation and entrepreneurship. Providing individuals with the opportunity to earn a livelihood and engage in economic activities is seen as a means to uphold their dignity.

Prohibition of Exploitative Practices: Practices that exploit vulnerable individuals, such as usury (Riba), are prohibited in Islamic finance. These practices are considered degrading to human dignity and are seen as unjust.

Consumer Protection: Islamic finance includes provisions for consumer protection, ensuring that consumers are treated fairly and ethically in financial transactions. This safeguards their rights and dignity as consumers.

Ethical Investment: Islamic finance encourages ethical and socially responsible investments. Investors are expected to consider the impact of their investments on society and the environment, aligning with the principle of preserving human dignity.

Debt Relief and Charity: In times of financial distress, Islamic finance allows for debt relief and charity to protect the dignity of individuals who may be struggling financially.

Employment Rights: Labor rights and fair employment practices. Workers should be treated with respect and dignity, and they should receive fair compensation for their work. In essence, human dignity in Islamic economics and finance is a central ethical principle that guides economic behavior and decision-making. It promotes a financial system that respects the worth and rights of every individual, encourages ethical conduct, and strives for social justice and equity, ensuring that all members of society can live with honor and dignity.

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