Posted by: admin | February 11, 2008

MS08 – General Principles of the Maqasid

This post will begin our discussion on the actual objectives of the Shari’ah. Before we get down to the details however we will present a high level overview of how the maqasid are classified by the scholars of this science.

Simply put there are three areas of classification:

  1. ad-Darooriyaat (The Essentials)
  2. al-Haajiyaat (The Supportive Needs)
  3. at-Tahseeniyaat (The Embellishments)

This way of classifiying these core principles is agreed upon and accepted by all scholars with the exception of Najm al-Din at-Tufi [d. 716 AH], a rather controversial Hanbali scholar who also claimed that the desire to satisfy the overall maslaha (interest) could override clear texts, a position which is not accepted by consensus and was historically rejected. We will return to al-Tufi and this position in later posts where we shall explore the relationship between the Shari’ah and the modern world.

Here, we will offer a simple definition of each principle before taking each one in turn in subsequent posts Insha Allah:

ad-Darooriyaat (The Essentials)
Translated as the the “essentials,” and defined as meaning ‘those things which are necessary for the establishment of the benefits and interests in both religious and worldly affairs, an absence of which leads to a disordered and incomplete life.

These darooriyaat are essential for the perfection of life in this world and the hereafter. They must all meet the conditions presented in MS05 and are general for all people, regardless of race, gender or religion. In short these essentials are:

  1. ad-Deen (Religion)
  2. al-Nafs (Life)
  3. al-‘Aql (Intellect)
  4. an-Nasl and an-Nasab (Lineage)
  5. al-Maal (Wealth)

These five darooriyaat are as they have been drawn up by scholars through the ages, both classical and contemporary. This list is not however closed and could well be extended by scholars if in their ijtihad (independent legal reasoning) they deem necessary.

For the purposes of this discussion however we will limit our scope to these five. These darooriyaat are not listed above in order of importance. There is an order of preference however which we will look at in MS12 Insha Allah where the topic of discussion will be resolving potential conflicts or apparent contradictions between the darooriyaat.

It can be said that the protection and preservation of these ‘essentials’ is the objective of the Shari’ah and more generally the objective of all legal systems.

al-Haajiyaat (The Supportive Needs)
Translated as the “needs,” and defined as meaning ‘those things which are needed for the protection, establishment and execution of the darooriyaat. They are those things which are not prescribed in isolation, rather in support of the essentials’.

at-Tahseeniyaat (The Embellishments)
Translated as the “embellishements,” and defined as meaning ‘those things which help in the completion of the essentials and whose presence is more preferable than their absence’.

So, in conclusion we can say that the haajiyaat and the tahseeniyaat aid the establishment of the darooriyaat which are the essential foundations for an ordered, civlised and successful life both in this world and the hereafter.

The next post will start by looking at the first of the darootiyaat, ad-Deen (Religion) and will Insha Allah follow the order of topics outlined in this post from hereon in.


  1. so as protection of lineage was a maqsad for prohibition of extra-marital sex, does that make it a haajiyaat objective, sicne that ‘protects’ the ‘lineage’.

    How can the darooriyaat in themselves be objectives of any ahkam, then?

  2. Without wanting to get ahead of myself, as we said the maqasid are broken down into the three categories introduced in this post.

    The core set of these are the darooriyaat and there are laws prescribed for the express purpose of protecting/preserving these. e.g. like you say the encouragement for marriage AND the prohibition of fornication. Both protect lineage from different angles.

    The haajiyaat and tahseeniyaat are groupings of legislation which support the darooriyaat. Continuing the marriage example, all those pieces of legislation which support the establishment of marriage, such as: divorce, ‘idda, khul’ etc would come under the heading of haajiyaat.

    The tahseeniyaat in the same example would be considered those things which polish off the protection of the “daroori,” as it says in the defintion “their presence is preferable to their absence” in our marriage example, the encouragement to have good dealings with family members, in the event of divorce to leave things amicably etc.

    I hope that’s clear, I think this calls for a diagram though!


  3. Salaam

    I think the confusion is in what exactly is the daroriyyah. Is it ‘Lineage’ or ‘Protection of Lineage’?

    If protecting the lineage is itself the daruriyyah then the prohibition of extra-marital sex achieves that. I think Irn Bro is seeing it as ‘lineage’ being the daruriyyah and then since prohibiting extra-marital sex ‘protects’ that then it comes under the haajiyyaat…

    Apologies for the confusing post…

    kind regards

  4. “Lineage” is one of those things deemed essential for human life and going back to the definition of what a daroori is, “…an absence of which leads to an incomplete and disordered life.”

    “Protection of Lineage” is one of the Objectives of the Shari’ah and so there are specific pieces of legislation which are prescribed with the express reason of protecting this. These laws come under the umbrella of laws directly related to darooriyaat.

    So “Lineage” is a daroori, and “Protection of Lineage” is a maqsad.

    The haajiyaat also refer to laws but they don’t in and of themselves achieve the objective, they support the direct legislation and are needed for that purpose.

    So, in the ‘Lineage’ example, Lineage is the daroori, the prohibition of extra-marital sex is a law which directly achieves this objective, so is classified with the daroori itself. As is the requirement of marriage, prohibition of abortion etc. For the daroori of lineage, a haaji would be the condition to have a wali (guardian) at the time of marriage which is “needed” by those laws which directly protect the daroori but in and of itself does not achieve the maqsad.

    Hope that’s a bit clearer… 🙂

  5. Thanks for that Admin…..It is indeed clearer…..

  6. Alhamdulillah and…Phew 🙂

  7. Salam..

    I need a clarification;

    I read somewhere else that:

    Imam Al-Haramayn Al-Juwayni classified the maqasid into the 3 categories of daruriyyah, hajiyyah & tahsiniyyah.

    Ghazali wrote categorically that Shariah pursues to promote & preserve the 5 universal objectives; Faith, Life, Reason(Aql), Progeny/Lineage & Property.

    Each of the universal objectives are protected & promoted by Shariah through the 3 categories of the maqasid., ie For the universal objective of Life: Oxygen would be a daruriyyah, not eating onions/garlic just before praying in a mosque a hajiyyah, and wearing perfume a tahsiniyyah…

    This leads to the concept of priorities in Shariah; a systematic approach taken by the scholar, when faced by a complex problem of finding a solution when benefits seem to contradict each other, a darruriyyah will always take priority over a hajiyyah, after which comes tahsiniyyah.

    For example: When robbed: Either your head or your money (ie either Life or Property); your head is a daruriyyah for Life while money is a Hajiyyah category for Property (lack of $ makes things difficult but not impossible), the obvious choice is of course to save the head..the daruriyyah.

    My question the 5 objectives all fall under the Daruriyyah category, OR, are all of the 5 objectives protected & preserved by the Shariah in accordance to the priorities of the 3 categories?

  8. Salam. Thanks for your comment. Before I answer your question I would like to focus on an important point you raise. That all of us in our daily lives are constantly weighing up priorities trying our best to adhere to that which pleases God and helps us to maintain what the Shari’ah deems as essential, or daroori.

    An important note to make here is that it is the Shari’ah that defines these priorites and any outcome based on weighing up must be based on well defined principles and not just our own desires. e.g. If one has a choice between leaving their work desk for 10 minutes to pray salah (Hifdh al-Deen) or carrying on working and earning a living (Hifdh al-Maal) which one takes priority? The answer to this is found in light of the Shari’ah and for anything more complicated than basic daily decisions would require recourse to a scholar. Insha Allah we will be looking at how to reslove these potential conflicts in a few posts’ time.

    Coming back to your question, it is quite possible to reconclie the two classifications you mention based on a correct definition of the terms.

    Firstly, the Maqasid as a whole are classified into the darooriyaat (which we are going through now), the haajiyaat and the tahseeniyaat.

    Secondly the 5 (or 6) objectives are better termed “essentials” i.e. darooriyaat. What is needed or utilised for their protection and establishment falls under the other two categories, i.e. haajiyaat and tahseeniyaat.

    Hope that helps in clarifying your point Insha Allah.

  9. Salam admin,

    thank you for sharing your knowledge and learning on this wonderful and insightful post. Allow me to join the conversation…as i see more than a year late:)

    The issue of the 5 universals and the 3 categories has been addressed by Gamal Eldin Attiya and Yusuf al-Alim as being based on a confusion between maqasid (aims) and wasa’il (means). What this means it that the 5 universals are not the content of the daruriyat, but rather those aims, which the daruriyat, as well as the hajiyat and tahsiniyat, aim to protect/maintain on respectively different levels of necessity.

    Thus, minimal subsistence, shelter and security are necessary (daruri) to protect life. A more balanced nutrition, comfortable shelter are needed (haji) to maintain life, while health care may be something to complete or round up (tahsin/takmil) the enjoyment of the maqsad “life”.

    The difference between maqasid and wasa’il is further clarified if we keep in mind that this three-fold division is based on a classification of norms (ahkam), undertaken first by al-Juwayni, according to their level of necessity. Thus norms of categorized as daruri are neccessary to protect a maqsad, norms categorized as haji are needed to maintain the maqasad, and norms classified as tahsini are there to perfect the fulfillment of a maqasad. The universals (maqasid) are those “themes” which these norms were thought to protect and maintain.

  10. Seems like you are a real pro. Did ya study about the subject?

  11. […] General Principles of the Maqasid […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: