Natural Law and the Šarīʿah:: The Enclave of Reason Between Islamic ʾuṣūl al-fiqh and Al-Ghazali’s maqāṣid al-šarīʿah
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Copyright (c) 2023 Roberto Ceolin
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This paper will examine the role played by the faculty of human Reason in Islamic Shariah law in pre-modern times. It is generally accepted that Natural Law played no part in the inception and development of Shariah and that natural morality is alien to the Islamic tradition, which is based mainly on a written religious tradition, namely the Quran, the Sunnah and the Hadiths. However, because law based on Revelation has a limited reach, which becomes more evident as time progresses, Reason may have played some part in the development of the Islamic legal system. In this article, we will see the significance of Reason in Islamic jurisprudence or fiqh and how Al-Ghazali felt the need to design a device called maqāṣid al-šarīʿah in order to bring under control the use of rational thinking in Islamic fiqh system so as not to endanger Sunni orthodox views on how the will of God makes itself manifest to men.
Keywords: Natural Law, Shariah, Islamic Law, Usul al-fiqh, Fiqh, Maqasid, Reason, Revelation, Islam, Al-Ghazali