Project Description

The Application of Maqasid al-Shariah in Multicultural Malaysia: Developing Strong Institutions for Interethnic Unity



Studies and writings on maqasid al-shariah cover a diverse array of topics from international relations to human development. Furthermore, studies on the maqasid approach have also focused on Muslim minorities living under non-Muslim authorities with an obvious absence of Islamic laws being part of government’s priority. This study adopts an inverted look at the aforementioned situation: how can Islamic laws be understood in its universal and holistic objectives to allow non-Muslims to live peacefully and confidently under a Muslim-majority government. Malaysia has always been a cauldron of a constitutionally Islamic country with a significant non-Muslim minority witnessing rising Islamisation since the 1980s that was further boosted in the twenty-first century. Discussion on hudud laws, specifically, have created division in society. Based on maqasid al-shariah, societal harmony is an objective that is in line with today’s understanding on human rights. Therefore, using interviews with policymakers in Malaysia, this study hopes to discover whether maqasid al-shariah may provide the path for Malaysians to be able to see one another without suspicion. It was found that policymakers agree in applying the maqasid approach in legislating in a multicultural country such as Malaysia – without specifying it as maqasid al-shariah for fear of upsetting non-Muslims.