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Maslaha in Contemporary Islamic Legal Theory

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This article investigates the concept of maslaha in contemporary Islamic legal theory. After presenting models of maslaha developed by al-Ghazālī, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, al-Qarāfī, al-Tūfī, and al-Shātibī, I analyze writings on maslaha by leading jurists from the late 13th/19th century to the 1380s/1960s, namely al-Qāsimī, Rashīd Ridā, Mahmasānī, 'Allāl al-Fāsī, Khallāf, and al-Būtī. The findings show that the early reformers tended towards al-Tūfī's expansive understanding of the principle of maslaha in the law-finding process. Later jurisprudents, in contrast, either advocated a holistic approach similar to that of al-Shātibī or espoused a more restrictive use of maslaha like that of al-Ghazālī and al-Rāzī. The way in which jurists employ the principle of maslaha is not random but rather is influenced by education, personal position, and historical environment.


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