Basic Human Needs The Islamic Theory

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Basic Human Needs

The Islamic Theory

Abdulrahman M. Al Sari


Some of the references in this thesis are traditional Arabic books. Since these books were published recently, their printing date does not represent the authors' periods. In order not to confuse the reader when reference is made to these books, the reference date shall be the date of printing, but the dates of birth and death are added between brackets before the traditional scholars' names.

Table of Context

1 Introduction: 4

2 Sharia: 4

2.1 The Origins of Sharia: 5

2.2 Sources of Sharia: 6

2.3 Classification of Shaira Sources: 8

2.4 The Human Role in Sharia: 8

2.5 Fiqh: 8

2.6 Osol Al Fiqh: 10

2.7 Magasid Ash Sharia: 12

3 Concept of Masalih and Mafasid: 13

3.1 Categories of Masalih: 14

3.2 Levels of Masalih: 14

3.2.1 At Takmiliyat (Supplementary Interests): 15

3.3 Interference Between Masalih and Mafasid : 16

3.4 Contradiction of Masalih: 16

3.5 Relationship among levels of Masalih: 16

3.6 Masalih Rules: 17

3.7 Summary of Masalih and Mafasid: 18

4 Sharia Objectives: 19

4.1 Principle and Subsidiary Objectives: 20

4.1.1 Responsibility of Principle and Subsidiary Objectives: 21

4.2 Sharia Overall Objectives: 21

4.2.1 Specific Objectives: 23

4.2.2 Partial Objectives: 23

4.3 The Five Necessities or Basic Human Needs: 23

4.3.1 Preservation of the Basic Needs: 24

4.3.2 Precedence of Needs: 28

4.3.3 The Basic Needs in the Hierarchy of Masalih: 29

4.3.4 Masalih Classification as Positive and Preventative: 31

4.3.5 The Role of the State and the Individual in Preserving the Basic Needs: 33

4.4 Concept of Raf' Al Harj (Elimination of Hardship): 36

4.4.1 Haraj: 36

4.4.2 Mashaqqah: 36

4.4.3 Al Mashaqqah Tajlib At Tayseer (Hardship Brings Ease): 38

4.5 Final Points: 38

4.6 Human Basic Needs and Motivation theories: 40

4.6.1 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 40

4.7 Conclusion: 42

Basic Human Needs

The Islamic Theory

  1. Introduction:

The term, "basic needs" was not used in the traditional terminology of Sharia, but the meaning was expressed within the concept of Magasid Ash Sharia (the intentions of Sharia or Sharia Objectives). As will be noticed later, the overall intention of Sharia is to preserve and protect basic human needs. Magasid Ash Sharia is one of three sciences of Sharia, along with Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Osol Al Fiqh (source methodology in Islamic jurisprudence). It discusses the objectives of Sharia, the basic human needs, the levels of interest and related subjects. Some contemporary scholars refer to this subject as the Nathariyat (The Theory of)1 Magasid Ash Sharia. The following paragraphs will introduce Sharia, its origins and related sciences, and will give a brief of the history of legislation in Sharia in order to introduce the theory of basic needs.
  1. Sharia2:

The Arabic word, "Sharia" has several meanings: religion, way, method and system. It may be used to reflect the whole religion of Islam or the Islamic Law. In Osol Alfiqh (the science concerning the principles of jurisprudence or origin of law), Sharia is defined as, “Allah’s Word related to the obligator's deeds” (Alim, 1994, p.20). On the level of Fiqh, it is defined as, “the practical rules” (Alim, 1994, p.21). The book, Kashaf Alestilahat3 defines it as, “all rules legislated by Allah, directed to his worshippers and revealed by the Prophets, whether associated with practical procedures or beliefs” (Al Yobi, 1998, p.30).

Ibn Taimeya (1263-1328) has defined Sharia as, "all what Allah has enacted, including both the beliefs and deeds," adding, “Sharia is obeying Allah, his holy Prophet , and responsible chiefs.” Also, he stated, “The soul of Sharia is reflected in following the Messengers and showing adherence” (Ibn Tymiyah [1263-1328], 1988, p. 306).

Ash Shatibi (1320-1388) stated, "Legislation is made for the benefit of people in Ajil4 and Aajil as well." These two words can be interpreted as “the present life” and “the Hereafter”, or can also mean “short term” and “long term”. Ibn Ashor (1879-1973) argued very strongly that Sharia was legislated to regulate peoples' actions in this life (in the present and future). He argued that the word Aajil in Ash Shatibi’s expression did not mean the Hereafter, because legislation does not determine peoples' status in the Hereafter (Ibn Ashor, 1999, p. 130).

According to Al-Hasani, the overall meaning of Sharia refers to the Law of Islam that deals with civil interactions (Al Hasani, 1995, p. 281). In this research, this latest definition will be used, except where noted.

    1. The Origins of Sharia:

According to Islam, none save Allah (God) has the right to legislate the rules for mankind. This point is emphasized by an incident in the life of the Prophet Mohammad. A Christian, Oday Bin Hatim, met with the Prophet  while the Prophet  was reading the Qur’anic verse, {They take their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah.}5. Oday said, “Oh Messenger of God, we have never worshipped them.” The Prophet  replied, “Haven’t they legitimized the unlawful and forbid the lawful deeds, and you followed them accordingly?” Oday answered, "Yes." The Prophet  replied, “That is how you worshiped them.” 6

According to Islam, a man cannot dictate what is lawful and what is not. When prophets state what is forbidden and what is not, they only convey God's massage. The role of mankind in Sharia is directed towards interpretation, classification, and implementation. This gives man authority to be resourceful in the application of Sharia but to never overstep his limits as a submissive creature to his Creator.

    1. Sources of Sharia:

The two main sources of Sharia are the Qur’an and Sunnah. According to Islam, Qur’an is the word of God, which was gradually revealed to the Prophet over a period of 23 years. The Prophet then dictated the revelations to some of his companions who were able to read and write. They used to write on leather, shoulder bones, palm tree wood and Likhaf (white, thin and light stones) (Shaban, 1988, p. 50). During the period of the third righteous caliph, Othman (644-658), four copies of the Qur’an were written and sent to different parts of the Islamic World. The Qur’an consists of 114 chapters called surahs. Sunnah7 is the way of life of the Prophet, consisting of his sayings, actions and approvals.

Another source of Sharia is Ijma’. This is the unanimous agreement of the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet) or scholars of a certain period on a rule of Islamic law. This is legitimized by a saying of the Prophet , “My Ummah (nation) cannot come together on perversity.” There are two types of Ijma'. One is Ijma' Sarih (explicit Ijma') where all scholars in a certain period agree clearly on a specific rule. The second is Ijma' Sokoti (silence ijma') where one or more scholars conclude on a rule that is known by their contemporaries and none of them objects (Shaban, 1988, p. 114).

Although not a source, Ijtihad8 is an important tool to deduct rules from Sharia. Ijtihad is defined as a process of reasoning in which one exhausts one’s efforts to one’s full capacity in order to acquire exact or probable knowledge to reach judgment in a given case (Masud, 2000, p. 277). Sharia encouraged Muslims to practice Ijtihad. The Prophet said, “Whoever practices Ijtihad and reaches an incorrect conclusion, he receives a reward; and if his conclusion is correct, he still receives double reward” (Sakhr CD, Encyclopedia of Islamic Juresprudence).

Ijtihad led to other secondary sources, which are Qiyas, Istihsan, Al Maslaha Al Morsalah, Urf, Istishab, Shar' man Gablana (previous prophets' legislations) and Math-hab As Sahabi (opinion of a companion of the Prophet). These secondary sources are explained below.

Qiyas is juristic reasoning, which is defined as the annexation of a case that has no literal evidence to a case that has literal evidence, because the two cases are similar in illah9 (reason) (Khallaf, 1981, p.62). There are four pillars for Qiyas: 1) the original case that has determined a rule (called origin), 2) the analogous case that no text rule has been found for (called branch), 3) the rule of the origin and 4) the illah (reason) (Shaban, 1988, p. 154).

Istihasan is the deviation of a jurist from a direct Qiyas to an indirect Qiyas; or it is a deviation from a general rule to an exceptional rule because of evidence that necessitates such a deviation. For example, it is forbidden for someone to sell what he does not own or that which does not exist, yet jurists agree on accepting the Istisna' for manufacturing contracts. In such contracts, the buyer may pay the value of what he is asking to be manufactured for him before it exists. This is against the general rule of selling and buying only that which exists but is approved by scholars using Istihsan.

Al Maslaha Al Morsalah: means the benefits that suite Sharia rules and are not stipulated as accepted or forbidden.10 This is an important source under which all new needs can be discussed to find the suitable rule for them.

Urf or Adah refers to custom or habit, defined as what people agreed upon, whether by statement or action or abandonment (Khallaf, 1981, p.89). Local traditions, which differ from place to place, are another source of Urf. Most urban development controls in the traditional city such as width of street, right of way and overlooking were created using this source.11

Istishab is the principle of the presumption of the continuity of the legal validity of a rule or practice (Masud, 2000, P.278). If one bought a hunting dog then claimed that the dog was not capable to hunt, his claim would have been accepted until the seller proved the opposite, because the dog is presumably not trained to hunt until proven so. The original status is presumed until the new status is proven.

Shar' Man Gablana literally means the rules of those who came before us. That refers to rules from previous prophets mentioned in Qur’an or Sunnah that have not been superseded by new Islamic rules. Some jurists accept such rules as unconditional references for legislation; others argue that they can be considered only if approved by Qur’an and Sunnah (Khallaf, 1981, p.93-94).

Math-hab As Sahabi is when a companion of the Prophet has stated an opinion in a rule, some jurists, like Abo Hanifa, consider his opinion as a reference. Others consider it as an opinion only that is subject to methodical criticism through Ijtihad (Khallaf, 1981, p.94-96).

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