The application of Maqaasid As-Shariah in achieving the UN SDGs

In simplistic terms, Maqaasid As-Sharia is defined as the “Goals of Shariah”. These encompass the 5 necessities of human existence. The preservation of: faith, life, intellect, lineage and wealth. These objectives have a great resemblance to the UN SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals). The SDGs are defined as “the world we want. They apply to all nations and mean, quite simply, to ensure that no one is left behind.”

Maqaasid As-Shariah involves realising the human well-being by enhancing welfare or benefit (maslaha) of the people on one hand, and preventing harm (mafsadah) on the other. The satisfaction of these needs is a basic human right and has been addressed under the generic term “Maqaasid As-Shariah”.

Although the SDGs have not been developed on a religious basis, most goals are nonetheless aligned with the spirit of Islamic law! Muslims are duty-bound by their religion to ensure the sustenance of the 5 necessities of Maqaasid As-Shariah. This means that the Islamic development is endogenously sustainable since preservation of life is an explicit objective of the Islamic law.

The dimensions of SDGs (the 5Ps) can also be found in Maqaasid As-Sharia as follows: People (Intellect), Planet (lineage), Prosperity (wealth), Partnership (faith) and Peace (life). When we talk about Maqaasid As-Shariah we are really talking about a guiding framework, a value system, the objectives of which are explained from the holy Qur’an. Some of these are referenced below:

  • No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Decent work and economic growth (SDG1, 2 & 8)

[Chapter 16 v 97: “Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision)…”]

  • Good health and well-being (SDG 3), Quality Education (SDG 4), Clean water and Sanitation (SDG 6)

[Chapter 7 V 160: “…Eat of the good things with which we have provided you…”]

  • Gender equality (SDG 5)

[Chapter 49 v 13: “We have created you from a male and a female….Verily the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has at taqwa (piety)…”]

  • Affordable & Clean Energy (SDG 7), Climate Action (SDG 13)

[Chapter 7; V85: ““…and do not mischief the earth after it has been set in order…”]

  • Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure (SDG 9)

[Chapter 13 v 11: “…Verily, Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves …”]

  • Reducing inequality & Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions (SDG 10, 16)

[Chapter 4 v 135: “Stand out firmly for justice…”]

  • Responsible consumption & Production (SDG 12)

[Chapter 7 v 31: “…eat and drink but waste not in extravagance…”]

[Prophetic advice: “The food of one person is sufficient for two, the food of two people suffices for four people and the food of four people suffices for eight”]

  • Sustainable cities & Communities (SDG 11)

[Chapter 8 v 46: “…do not dispute (with one another)…”]

  • Life below Water (SDG 14), Life on Land (SDG 15)

[Chapter 30 v 41: “…Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds)…”]

  • Partnerships for the goals (SDG 17)

[Chapter 5 v2: “…help you one another in virtue, righteousness and piety (common good) but do not help one another in sin and transgression…”]

The UN SDGs are primarily intended for the well-being of human beings. As sustainable development strives for a balanced economy, society and environment, Islam too drives a balance between the 3 to maintain efficient and effective resource usage. If spirituality becomes a way of life upholding timeless moral, ethical and human values, sustainability is certainly assured and Maqaasid As-Shariah to serve as governance framework, guidelines and values.