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Maqasid al-Sharī‘ah: A Traditional Source for Ensuring Design and Development of Modern Technology for Humanity’s Benefit

Conference paper

Abstract

There is a pressing need in the Muslim world to engage in a broader religious reflection on the nature of modern technology in order to respond to the challenges posed by the contemporary technological paradigm. The understanding of modern technology cannot be restricted to its consequences and uses alone. It is far more pervasive as it conditions our thoughts and shapes our goals and ideals. Given the intellectual, spiritual, social, moral and environmental crises of the contemporary postmodern technological world, it is imperative to assess modern technology from within the Islamic ethical framework and devise an Islamic paradigm for the holistic understanding and development of technology that has the moral robustness as well as practical feasibility to respond to contemporary problems wrought by a spiritually and morally impoverished technology. The maqasid al-sharī‘ah provides such a fruitful resource. Muslims need to revisit their traditional ideas of benefit/good (maṣlaḥah) and use this fundamental religio-ethical concept for developing technology that is beneficial to humankind.

Since modern technology is permeated with its own conception of the good life, the problem in the Islamic context is how human interests (maṣlaḥah) in a religio-legal discourse can deal with the technological set of values. Muslim jurists, when assessing modern technology, often resort to the maxim that paints an optimistic picture of technology in attaining human progress. This leads them mostly to interpret human benefit (maṣlaḥah) within the technological framework and issue fatwas accordingly. This makes them take a particularistic approach toward the fruits of modern technology without considering the effects modern technology may have on Muslim lives. In this article it is proposed that the contextual philosophico-critical evaluation of modern technology is one of the prerequisites for defining what constitutes authentic human interest (maṣlaḥah). This can be done by broadening the scope of the Islamic Objectives (maqasid al-sharī‘ah) to incorporate a critical discourse. This involves a double hermeneutic movement between the Islamic conception of human good (maṣlaḥah) and the contextual appreciation of axiological problems in the technological progress model.

Keywords

Maqāṣid al-Shari‘ah Maqāṣid-oriented technology Maṣlaḥah Modern technology Sadd al-dharā’i‘ 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences and Liberal ArtsInstitute of Business AdministrationKarachiPakistan

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