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Of Higher Intentions and Lower Expectations

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A Report about a Failed Survey Project on Using Maqāṣid Al-Shari’ah as a Means of Comparative Governance Research

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The author had planned to work on a monograph related to the potential of using the maqāṣid in Islamic jurisprudence, uncoupled from their religious foundations, as a tool for the conversation with secular law and legal thinking, which by and large has shed its own religious roots and proceeded to an ethics-driven approach based on public policy or interest, and/or systemic logical coherence. The premise of the research project was that lawyers largely think the same thoughts and that they use different building blocks to construct rather similar-looking houses. The main instrument of the research was a survey questionnaire with a series of case-based scenarios sent to a number of Islamic scholars to provide the answers to the scenarios from the Shari’ah perspective. The survey failed in its entirety, so the research turned into an attempt to find the reasons for the failure. This paper will set out reflections on why it went wrong.

Affiliations: 1: Chair in Comparative and International Criminal Law, Durham University,


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