Beginning with a brief
etymological-lexical analysis of the term, this article investigates the
genesis, meaning, usage, and scope of the principle of maslaha[i] (simply defined as what is
best) in its theological-jurisprudential context. Taking it in a binary
opposition to mafsada (simply translated as what is detrimental or harmful), it
presents maslaha as the ratio legis or purpose of divine legislation (tashri)
or, more precisely, Islamic law/sharia. Drawing on this theological
consideration, it then moves on to the conceptualization of maslaha by Imam
al-Ghazali, Shahīd al-Thāni, and Imam Khomeini. It argues in the light of the
views of these three Muslim jurists that maslaha is directed more at warding
off mafsada to a Muslim state or society than at seeking advantage/benefit
without compromising on ideological, moral, legal, or ethical principles or
tenets of Islam. While showing that the principle of maslaha is not by any
means an ideological Trojan Horse to pursue and further “un-Islamic” interests,
this article then provides a theoretical account of the operationalization and
application of the principle in the domain of foreign policy of Muslim states.
It argues and shows with an example that maslaha–if utilized properly in line
with the essence of Islamic world view—can play a major role in solving a
number of Muslim states’ foreign policy issues and dilemmas as it takes into
account the situational factor or realities (both internal and external) of the
time in the context of the general principles of Islamic jurisprudence and
presents solutions to them.
in Arabic as “مصلحۃ.”When pronounced as a
single word, the circular Tā at its end converts into circular Hā.