The Entrance of the Maqasid al-Shariah into Contemporary Muslim Political and Jurisprudential Discourse
The Case of Rashid al-Ghannushi and Ennahda
This short article will discuss recent developments surrounding the emerging Tunisian Constitution, specifically members of the Ennahda party’s suggestion that the Personal Status Act enacted by the former regime should be retained, as it is in accordance with the purposes of the Shariah. The article seeks to contextualise such an approach in relation to its theological bases, specifically the writings of Rashid al-Ghannushi and the highly influential Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It discusses the relationship between what are known as the maqāṣid al-sharīʿah, the intentions and purposes of the Shariah, and its aḥkām, or specific ordinances.
Recent developments and the striking electoral successes enjoyed by Muslim democratic political parties in the wake of successful Arab revolutions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt has seen a renewed focus upon, not only the emerging political and constitutional programs of these parties, but also the theological bases underpinning their respective policies and platforms, which will be the focus of this short article. Whilst these successes have been a source of celebration for many, others have voiced their fears, particular in relation to often poorly-articulated slogans regarding the “application of the Shariah”, “the implementation of Islamic law” or the desire for an “Islamic State”.