Maqasid shariah to be foundation of Pakatan Harapan common policy, sec-gen says

Pakatan Harapan’s Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah says the party’s new common policy framework will be based on the ‘maqasid shariah’ concept. ― File pic
Pakatan Harapan’s Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah says the party’s new common policy framework will be based on the ‘maqasid shariah’ concept. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 ― Pakatan Harapan will base its new common policy framework on the “maqasid shariah”, an Islamic concept that seeks to put universal justice and the common good above all else, the opposition bloc's new secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah announced last night.

Speaking at a forum entitled “Maqasid Shariah: A National Agenda?”, the former Umno leader said the focus will be on ensuring good governance and fairness to all regardless of their faith or race, but did not explain in greater detail.

“I think maqasid shariah will be one of the important approaches that we will be using in the context of Pakatan Harapan's common policy framework.

“In fact, it was already there in the Pakatan Rakyat's muafakat rakyat… the maqasid shariah was already there,” Saifuddin told the forum.

Maqasid shariah literally means the higher objective of Islamic laws, which aims to ensure that justice supersedes the objectives of any particular law, whether divine or man-made.

Unlike many of the strict doctrine proposed by conservative Islamists, including PAS, maqasid shariah is a concept that allows for flexibility in the implementation of Shariah or Islamic laws, so as long as the end result is the indiscriminate deliverance of genuine justice.

Other panelists at the forum, Parti Amanah Negara's Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, PKR's young Islamic scholar Wan Ji Wan Hussin and DAP Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari, agreed that the ideals of the maqasid shariah are in fact already shared by humanity.

“Anything that aims to bring goodness and fairness is the real Shariah… it is the real maqasid shariah,” Wan Ji explained.

“If I am to look at the best country [that practices genuine Islam] I would say it’s Sweden,” he added, referring to the Scandinavian nation noted for its equitable socio-economic policies.

The young PKR scholar said the problem with Muslims is their fixation with Islamic terminology as the defining trait of Islam, instead of understanding that the religion promotes universal goodness, be it in the form of Islamic or any other laws.

Zairil, citing his experience of meeting with a key leader of the Tunisian revolution during a DAP trip to the Middle East recently, described how Islamists in the Northern African country believed that Islamic ideals could be delivered through secular laws.

He said Tunisia’s giant Islamist party controls the country’s Parliament after the overthrow of the Ben Ali dictatorship, but had agreed to keep its constitution secular as it felt that as long as the new laws would ensure justice to all Tunisian, it is deemed to be Islamic.

But Zairil said the opposite is seen in a majority of the Islamic world, where a narrow interpretation of Islam by a territorial few have made it a feared religion.

“There is a need to push for a bigger version of Islam, magnanimous, inclusive and certainly not exclusive… Islam should be attractive, it should be attractive to the non-Muslims, but right now as it is non-Muslims are scared of Islamic laws,” he said.

Tunisia has since been recognised as a model modern Islamic state worldwide, Zairil added.

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