Legal Maxims (qawāʿid fiqhiyya) in Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī’s Jurisprudence and Fatwas

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Ron Shaham

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Subsequent to the crystallization of the legal schools, Muslim jurists felt the need to consolidate the massive corpus of legal opinion in order to aid students and practitioners of the law. The result was legal maxims (qawāʿid fiqhiyya), concise theoretical statements that captured the objectives of the Sharia. An example is al-ḍarar yuzāl (“Harm must be removed”), which is based on the hadith lā ḍarar wa-lā ḍirār. This article analyzes the role of legal maxims in Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī’s (b. 1926 in Egypt) jurisprudence and fatwas, as found in his numerous books and articles. Its preliminary assumption is that Qaraḍāwī uses legal maxims to control and systematize the use of considerations of public welfare (maṣlaḥa), especially in the field of “the jurisprudence of reality” (fiqh al-wāqiʿ). Because this fiqh deals mainly with political topics on which there are hardly any guidelines in scripture, and stems therefore from mostly nontextual benefits (maṣāliḥ mursala), it is an area vulnerable to undisciplined use of utilitarian considerations by jurists. Legal maxims then come in handy when weighing the relevant benefit and harm related to each topic.




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