Beyond Maṣlaḥah Adab and Islamic Economic Thought
Main Article Content
ethics, al-Ghazali, maqasid, maslahah, adab, Shari'a, economic thought
This paper focuses on maṣlaḥah (benefit or well-being) and adab (righteous behavior or character) as ethically intertwined concepts that are discussed by classical Muslim scholars in relation to the acquisition of wealth (kasb) and overall economic engagement. Particularly in certain works of al-Shaybāni (d. 805), al-Muḥāsibī (d. 857), Ibn Abī al-Dunyā (d. 894), al-Māwardī (d. 1058), and al-Ghazālī (d. 1111), personal piety is closely related to righteous economic behavior under the banner of adab’s moral stipulations. In light of al-Ghazālī’s understanding of economic provision as part of his overall theory of eternal happiness (saʿādah), the concept of maṣlaḥah can be analyzed in the context of adab as an extension of Sharīʿa law. While maṣlaḥah is from a legal standpoint crucial for safeguarding economic activities and preserving wealth, concomitantly, in this paper I treat maṣlaḥah as a derivative of adab and its holistic vision of human nature. In particular, I address what constitutes economic provision as an ethical endeavor in selected classical texts; and how the concept of adab preserves and enhances economic behavior as conceived by classical Muslim scholars.
1 See Sami Al-Daghistani, The Making of Islamic Economic Thought: Islamization, Law,
and Moral Discourses (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022).
2 For more on the comparison between conventional and Islamic economics, see
Waleed Addas, Methodology of Economics: Secular vs. Islamic (Kuala Lumpur:
International Islamic University Malaysia, 2008).
3 Sami Al-Daghistani, “Semiotics of Islamic Law, Maṣlaḥa, and Islamic Economic
Thought,” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 29 (2016): 389–404.
4 Al-Ghazālī, Mustaṣfā min ‘Ilm al-Uṣūl, 4 vols. (Medina: Sharika al-Madīna al-Munawwara
li al-Ṭabā‘at, 2008).
5 See e.g. Qur’an 4:29-30; see also Michael Bonner, “Poverty and Economics in the
Qur’an,” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 35, no. 3 (2005; special issue on
Poverty and Charity: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, ed. Mark Cohen): 391-406.
6 Benedikt Koehler, Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism (Lanham, MD: Lexington
7 Timur Kuran, “The Absence of the Corporation in Islamic Law: Origins and
Persistence,” American Journal of Comparative Law 53 (2005): 785-834.
8 Abdul Azim Islahi, “The Myth of Bryson and Economic Thought in Islam,” Journal
of King Abdulaziz University: Islamic Economics 21, no. 1 (2008): 57-61.
9 On Sharī‘a’s moral law and its cosmological imprint, see Sami al-Daghistani, The
Making of Islamic Economic Thought. On “mystical Shar‘ism” see Wael Hallaq, The
Impossible State (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013).
10 See Qur’an e.g. 4:58, 11:84, 16:76, 43:15, etc.
11 See e.g. Ibn Manzur, Lisān al-‘arab, s.v.
12 For Aristotel’s and Bryson’s influence in Ibn Sīnā’s economic thought, see e.g.
Nurizal Ismail, A Critical Study of Ibn Sina’s Economic Ideas (MA thesis, International
Institute Islamic Thought and Civilization, 2012); Yassine Essid, A Critique of the
Origin of Islamic Economic Thought (New York: E.J. Brill, 1995), 186.
13 The philosophy of economic growth, barter exchange, and other economic mechanisms
were in Islamic tradition embedded in a particular framework that cannot be
simply replicated or reinstalled in the contemporary era, due to the loss of a quintessential
paradigm that has occurred with the onslaught of colonialism and modernity.
For more on the colonial impact on the social, political, and intellectual life in Muslim
societies, see e.g. Wael Hallaq, Sharī‘a (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2009). For more on modern Islamic Economics, see e.g. Muhammad Akram Khan,
What Is Wrong With Islamic Economics? Analysing the Present State and Future Agenda
(Cheltenham, UK; Edward Elgar); Asad Zaman, “Re-Defining Islamic Economics,” in
Basic Concepts, New Thinking and Future Directions in Islamic Economics, eds. Taha
Egri & Necmettin Kizilkaya (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), 58-76.
14 Iqtiṣād from qaṣada, meaning “purpose,” “justice,” “aim,” “direction,” “objective.”
15 See e.g. Adi Setia, “The Restoration of Wealth: Introducing Ibn Abī al-Dunyā’s Iṣlāḥ
al-Māl,” Islamic Sciences 13, no. 2 (2015): 93; idem, “The Meaning of ‘Economy’: Qaṣd,
Iqtiṣād, Tadbīr al-Manzil,” Islamic Sciences 14, no. 1 (2016): 120-121.
16 For al-Shāṭibī, maqāṣid is the attainment of good and prevention from evil, presenting
the core of Sharī‘a’s law. See also al-Ṭūfi’s (d. 1316) account of maqāṣid in
Najm al-Dīn al-Țūfī, Risālat fī Ri’āyat al-Maṣlaḥah, N/A, 1993, 139 as at Mohammad
Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (Cambridge: The Islamic Text
Society, 2005), 242; and ʿIzz al-Dīn Ibn ʿAbd al-Salām, Qawāʿid al-Ahkām fī Maṣālīh
al-Anām (Cairo: Maktabah al-Kulliyāt al-Azhariyyah, 1991).
17 Al-Juwāyni, Kitāb al-Irshād ilā Qawāṭi‘ al-Adilla fī Uṣūl al-I‘tiqād; Al-Juwayni, A Guide
to the Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief, trans. Paul E. Walker (UK: Garnet
Publishing, 2001); Jasser Ouda, Maqāsid al-Sharī‘a (Herndon, VA: IIIT, 2008), 17.
18 Al-Juwāyni, Kitāb al-Irshād, vol. 1, 286-287. Prior to al-Ghazālī and al-Juwaynī,
al-‘Āmirī presented the concepts with which the latter two operated.
19 See for instance al-Ghazālī’s categorization of maqāṣid also in relation to economic
provision and kasb. Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn (Beirut: Dār al-Ma‘rifah, 1982,),
20 Ash‘arīs believe that all human acts are created by God, often invoked through the
following Qur’anic verse 37:96: “While Allah created you and that which you do.”
21 Aḥmad Zakī Mansūr Ḥammād, “Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī’s Juristic Doctrine in
Mustaṣfā min ‘Ilm al-Uṣūl” (Phd diss., University of Chicago, 1987), vol. 1, 17.
23 See e.g. Ahmed El Shamsy, “The Wisdom of God’s Law: Two Theories,” in Islamic
Law in Theory, eds. A. Kevin Reinhart and Robert Gleave (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 31.
24 Abdul Aziz bin Sattam, Sharia and the Concept of Benefit: The Use and Function of
Maslaha in Islamic Jurisprudence (London: I.B.Tauris, 2015).
25 See al-Ghazālī, al-Mustaṣfā, Vol. 1.
26 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 1, 32 as at Sami Al-Daghistani, Ethical Teachings of Abū
Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī: Economics of Happiness (London: Anthem Press, 2021), 70.
27 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 1, 17; see also Vol. 2.
28 See e.g. al-Sulamī, Kitāb Adab al-Suhba, ed. Meir Kister (Jerusalem: Israeli Oriental
Society, 1954); Bernd Radtke, R. Sean O’Fahey, and John O’Kane, “Two Sufi Treaties
of Ahmad Ibn idris,” Oriens 35 (1996): 143-178; Bernd Radtke, Adab al-muluk: Ein
Handbuch zur islamischen Mystik aus dem 4/10. Jahrhundert (Beirut: Beiruter Texte
und Studien, 1991); al-Sarraj, Kitāb al-Luma‘, ed. Kamil Mustafa al-Nihawandi
(Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 2001).
29 For more, see e.g. Armando Salvatore, “Secularity through a ‘Soft Distinction’ in
the Islamic Ecumene? Adab as a Counterpoint to Shari‘a,” Historical Social Research
44, no. 3 (2019): 35-51; Barbara Daly Metcalf, “Introduction,” in Moral Conduct
and Authority: The Place of Adab in South Asian Islam, ed. Barbara Daly Metcalf
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 1-20.
30 The Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1996), s.v. adab, 175. Its naissance is associated
with the writings of Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ (d. 756).
31 See also Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-‘Arab (Qom: Adab al-Hawza, 1984), s.v. adab, 43 f.
32 Salvatore, “Secularity through a ‘Soft Distinction’ in the Islamic Ecumene?” 40.
33 Salvatore, “Secularity through a ‘Soft Distinction’ in the Islamic Ecumene?” 41;
Seeger A. Bonebakker, “Adab and the Concept of Belles-lettres,” in ʻAbbasid Belleslettres,
ed. Julia Ashtian, T. M. Johnstone, J.D. Latham and R. B. Serjeant (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1990), 16-30.
34 See Cathérine Mayeur-Jaouen, ed., Adab and Modernity: A Civilising Process?
(Leiden: Brill, 2019), 31.
35 See e.g. Alexander Knysh, Sufism: A New History of Islamic Mysticism (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2017), Chapter 5; on the definition of adab, see The
Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1996), s.v.
36 Knysh, Sufism, 138.
37 Ibn Khaldūn, Shifā’ al-Sā’il wa Tahdhib al-Masā’il, ed. Muhammad Muti‘ al-Hāfiz
(Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1996).
38 See al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2; al-Ghazālī, Al-Ghazālī on Islamic Guidance, trans.
Muhammad Abul Quasem (Selangor, Malaysia: National University of Malaysia,
39 Al-Sulamī in Knysh, Sufism, 139; see also al-Sulamī, Kitāb Adab al-Suhba, ed. Meir
Kister (Jerusalem: Israeli Oriental Society, 1954).
40 See e.g. Setia, “The Restoration of Wealth,” 82-83.
41 For a detailed account of the nafs and tazkīya in the Qur’an and Islamic intellectual
history, see e.g. Gavin Picken, Spiritual Purification in Islam: The Life and Works of
al-Muḥāsibī (London: Routledge, 2011), 123-167.
42 Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah stated that the nafs can achieve tranquility if it undergoes
the process from doubt to certainty, from ignorance to knowledge of God, from
heedlessness to remembrance of God, from deceit to repentance and truthfulness, and
from boastfulness to submission and humility. In relation to the purification of the
heart, Ibn Taymiyyah states that tazkīya means to make something pure (zakiyyan),
either in essence or in belief. See Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, al-Rūḥ, ed. Muḥammad
ʿAlī al-Qutb and Walīd al-Dhikrā (Beirut: al-Maktabah al-ʿAṣriyyah, 2000), 259; Ibn
Taymiyyah, Majmūʿ Fatāwā Shaykh al-Islām Aḥmad Ibn Taymiyyah (Riyadh: Matābi’
al-Riyāḍ, 1963), Vol. 10; see also Picken, Spiritual Purification in Islam, 138-139, 149.
43 Al-Tirmidhī (d. 869), who as a jurist and a Sufi scholar synthesized Islamic theology,
mysticism, and cosmology, wrote on training the self, holding that one must
voluntary work, seek salvation in the hereafter, fight against lust for power,
and discipline the soul by purifying oneself. The nafs is for al-Tirmidhī the “‘land’
(arḍ) of debauchery, inclined to carnal appetite after carnal appetite and desire after
desire; it does not gain calmness nor does it gain stability. Its actions vary, none
of them resembling the other; one time it is servitude and another it is divinity,
one time it is surrender and another it is domination, one time it is incapacity and
another it is capability. So, if the soul is contented and disciplined, it will become
obedient.” Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Tirmidhī, Nawādir al-Uṣūl (Istanbul: n.p., 1876), 201
as at Picken, Spiritual Purification in Islam, 153. Moreover, for al-Ghazālī, nafs has
two meanings: that of anger, sexual and carnal appetite, which has to be battled,
and that pertaining to human essence and spiritual qualities.
44 Al-Qushayri, Epistle on Sufism, trans. Alexander Knysh (Reading, UK: Garnet
Publishing, 2007), 109.
45 Ibid., 130.
46 Ibid., 131.
47 Ibid., 132.
48 Knysh, Sufism, 170-174.
49 For one of the earliest and most comprehensive Sufi works in the zuhd genre, see Ibn
al-Mubārak, Kitāb al-Zuhd wa al-Raqā’iq (Riyad: Dār al-Mi‘rāj al-Dawliyya, 1990).
Knysh holds that the work praises humility and seclusion, yet it steers away from
an extreme understanding of trust in God (tawakkul). See also Feryal Salem, The
Emergence of Early Sufi Piety and Sunnī Scholasticism (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 105-138.
50 Al-Qushayri, Epistle on Sufism, 134.
51 Qur’an, 53:27.
52 Al-Qushayri, Epistle on Sufism, 134.
53 Ibid., 136.
54 Al-Junayd also stated that it relates to “keeping your hands free from possessions
and your heart from attachment [to this world]” (ibid.).
55 Ibid., 282.
56 Al-Qushayri, Epistle on Sufism, 129 f.
57 Al-Shaybānī, Kitāb al-Kasb (Ḥalab: Maktabah al-Maṭbu‘āt al-Islāmiyyah, 1997).
58 Michael Bonner, “The Kitab al-Kasb attributed to al-Shaybani: Poverty, Surplus,
and the Circulation of Wealth,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 121, no. 3
59 Al-Shaybānī, Kitāb al-Kasb, 70; Adi Setia, “Imam Muḥammad Ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybāni
on Earning a Livelihood,” 105.
60 Al-Shaybānī, Kitāb al-Kasb, 36.
61 Ibid., 71.
62 Idib., 164.
63 Ibid., 135.
64 Ibid., 136.
65 Ibid., 83, 93.
66 “Al-israf wa al-saraf wa al-makhila wa al-tafakhur wa al-takathur.” Michael Bonner,
“The Kitab al-Kasb attributed to al-Shaybani,” 418.
67 See Adi Setia, Kitāb al-Makāsib (The Book of Earnings) by al-Hārith al-Muḥāsibī
(751-857 C.E.) (Kuala Lumpur: IBFIM, 2016).
68 Al-Muḥāsibī, al-Makāsib wa al-Wara‘ (Beirut: Mu’ssasah al-Kutub al-Thaqāfiyyah,
69 Adi Setia, “Al-Muḥāsibī: On Scrupulousness and the Pursuit of Livelihoods: Two
Excerpts from His al-Makāsib wa al-Wara‘,” Islamic Sciences 14, no. 1 (2016): 73.
70 The title bears two names. For more about the background of the book, see Picken,
Spiritual Purification in Islam. For al-Muḥāsibī’s economic analysis, see al-Muḥāsibī,
Kitāb al-Waṣāyā, ed. ʿAbd al-Qādir Aḥmad Aṭā (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyyah,
71 Ibn Abī al-Dunyā, Iṣlāḥ al-Māl (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Kutub al-Thaqāfiyyah, 1993),
72 Ibid., 41.
73 Ibid., 33, 46, 48.
74 Ibid., 100.
75 Ibid., 73.
76 Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāj al-Ṭūsī (d. 988) in Kitāb al-Luma‘ discusses seven maqāmāt
(spiritual stations) that relate to economic activities. The first is tawbah (repentance),
which corresponds to the awareness of the Divine presence in one’s heart (qalb)
and brings about spiritual uplift. The second is wara‘ (watchfulness or abstention),
pertaining to self-reflection and self-restraint. The third is zuhd (renunciation) as
a precaution against worldly endeavors. The fourth is faqr (spiritual poverty) as
denying excessive behavior such as spending, in order to achieve spiritual thrust
and contentment. The fifth is ṣabr (patience) that has to be practiced in trading
activities, which brings about spiritual endurance. The sixth is tawakkul (trust in
God), which means devoting oneself to the higher order, encompassing both ma‘rifa
and ‘amal, while the final station is riḍā’ (pure contentment) as a submission to qaḍā
(fate). Exercising those maqāmāt are essential for attaining what classical scholars
refer to as righteous economic behavior and underlines the importance of moral
attitude toward wealth. Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāj al-Ṭūsī, Kitāb al-Luma‘ fī al-Taṣawwuf,
ed. Reynold Alleyne Nicholson (Leyden: Brill, 1914), 43-52.
77 Al-Māwardī, Adab al-Dīn wa al-Dunyā, 41, 370.
78 Ibid., 211-213.
79 The known ways of earning or makāsib are based on agriculture, animal products,
benefits from trading, and benefits from industry. Ibid., 335.
80 Ibid., 347.
81 Ibid., 352.
82 Ibid., 251-262.
83 Ibid., 180-188.
84 See the English translation al-Ghazālī, The Book of the Proprieties of Earning and
Living, trans. Adi Seita (Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Banking & Finance Institute
85 For a more detailed discussion of al-Ghazālī’s economics, see al-Daghistani, Ethical
Teachings of Abu Hamid al-Ghazālī.
86 Al-Ghazālī, Bidāyat al-Hidāya, 90; al-Ghazālī, The Beginning of Guidance, 54.
87 See al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, Vol. 4.
88 Al-Ghazālī, Bidāyat al-Hidāya, 91-92.
89 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2, 63.
90 Al-Ghazali, The Revival of Religious Sciences, 100; see also al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2.
91 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2, 1.
92 Al-Ghazālī, Bidāyat al-Hidāya, 90.
93 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2, 68.
94 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 3, 231.
95 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2, 1.
96 Al-Ghazālī, Mizān al-‘Amal (Cairo: Dār al-Ma’ārif, 1964), 377.
97 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2; al-Ghazālī, Kimiyā, 474.
98 Ashqar & Wilson, Islamic Economics: A Short History, 248. Money should not be
spent for its own sake: al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 3, 278.
99 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 4, 91.
100 See, for instance, Fawzi M. Najjar, “Siyāsa in Islamic Political Philosophy,”
Islamic Theology and Philosophy: Studies in Honor of George F. Hourani, ed. M.E.
Marmura (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984), 92-110; al-Māwardī,
Aḥkām al-Sulṭāniyya (Cairo: al-Babi al-Halabi, 1973); al-Ghazālī, Nasihat al-Muluk:
al-Ghazali’s Book of Counsel for Kings, trans. F.R.C. Bagley (London: Oxford
University Press, 1964).
101 Armando Salvatore, “The Islamicate Adab Tradition vs. the Islamic Shariʿa, from
Pre-Colonial to Colonial,” Working Paper Series of the HCAS “Multiple Secularities
– Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities,” Leipzig, March 2018, 14.
102 Hallaq, The Impossible State, 67.
103 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2, 10-11, 53, 55.
104 On the discussion about the authorship of Naṣīḥat al-Mulūk, see e.g. Patricia Crone,
“Did al-Ghazālī Write a Mirror for Princes? On the Authorship of Nasīḥat al-Mulūk,”
Jerusalem Studies of Arabic and Islam 10 (1987): 167-197; Carole Hillenbrand, “A
Little-Known Mirror for Princes by al-Ghazālī,” in Words, Texts, and Concepts
Cruising The Mediterranean Sea: Studies on the Sources, Contents and Influences of
Islamic Civilization and Arabic Philosophy and Science: Dedicated to Gerhard Endress
on his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. Gerhard Endress, Arnzen Rüdiger, and J. Thielmann
(Leuven: Peeters, 2004); Ann K.S. Lambton, “The Theory of Kingship in the Nasīḥat
al-Mulūk,” The Islamic Quarterly 1 (1954): 47-55.
105 Al-Ghazālī, Counsel for Kings, ix, xviii.
106 Ibid., xxxviii.
107 Including Abū Yūsuf (d. 798), al-Shaizarī (d. 1193), al-Ghazālī, and Ibn Taymiyyah.
Abū Yūsuf’s Kitāb al-Kharaj, which is essentially a classical text on fiqh, discusses
kharaj (collected taxes), ʿushūr (a tithe payable by Muslims), and ṣadaqāt (alms) in
light of state governance’s fiscal policy while providing advice to rulers based on
religious law. For Abū Yūsuf, the ruler is responsible for the general welfare of the
people. In his letter to the caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd he asserted that providing for the
(general) welfare of the people and preventing forms of hardships constitutes one
of the basic objectives of Islamic governance. This includes also providing social
goods for the development of the economy and fair distribution of income from
taxes. What determines the functioning and executing of such objectives is for him
nested in the moral code of Islamic governance. See e.g., Muhammad Khalid Masud,
“The Doctrine of Siyāsa in Islamic Law,” Recht van de Islam 18 (2001): 3; Abū Yūsuf,
Kitāb al-Kharaj (Beirut: Dār al-Ma‘rifah, 1979), 61, 64; Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharaj,
trans. A. Ben Shemesh (Leiden: Brill, 1969); ‘Abdur Raḥman bin Naṣr Al-Shaizarī,
Aḥkām al-Ḥisbah (Beirut: Dār al-Thaqāfa, n.d.).
108 See e.g. Islahi, Contribution of Muslim Scholars to Economic Thought and Analysis.
109 Al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2, 312. Normal price was considered the market price.
Al-Ghazālī holds a similar view, as with Ibn Hazm (d. 1064), who was one of the
proponents of the imposition of taxes in times when the government is facing
resource deficiencies. For Ibn Hazm, a ruler (in the name of Islamic governance)
should provide what is nowadays called a basic standard of living—food, clothing,
and shelter. To remedy poverty, the ruler has to regulate disproportionate levels
of income, while providing enough to fulfill basic needs. Similar to al-Ghazālī’s
view on good governance is Ibn Taymiyyah’s notion of siyāsah, which is grounded
in the Qur’anic promulgation of faith and good deeds. Islamic governance ought
to act as a trustee in order to facilitate justice in community. A just ruler aims to
eliminate corruption and (political) incompetency, while striving to secure ruler’s
good character. Ibn Taymiyyah holds that ḥisbah must act in accordance with the
Qur’anic statement of promoting the good and forbidding the harmful, who encouraged
one’s active role in economic affairs, while diverting from hoarding of wealth
and food supplies. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya also thought of ḥisbah and siyāsah as
a constitutive part of Sharī‘a. See Qur’an 3:104; al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 4, 72; Ibn
Taymiyyah, Al-Ḥisbah fī al-Islām, 14 (Cairo: Dār al-Sha‘b, 1976); Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya,
Zād al-Ma‘ād (Cairo: Matba‘ah al-Miṣrīyah, n.d.), 15; Ibn Hazm, al-Muhalla
(Cairo: Matba‘ah al-Nahdah, 1347 A.H/1928 A.D.), Vol. 2 and 6.
110 In addition to al-Ghazālī, al-Māwardī believed that the institution of ḥisbah has its
origins in the Qur’an. Even though al-Māwardī did not introduce the concept of
maṣlaḥah in relation to economic thought, his al-Aḥkām al-Sulṭāniyyah explores
siyāsah as governmental ordinances in the function of a religious leader (imām) who
aims at securing and preserving legal matters in the community. A ruler is supposed
to preserve religion, uphold justice, manage wealth, and enforce law fairly, among
other things. The dimension of justice (‘adl) is based on reciprocity between governmental
authority and community and predicated upon creating welfare for oneself
and community. As a founding principle of governance of virtue, justice is associated
with an attitude that ranges between excess and miserliness. See al-Māwardī,
al-Aḥkām al-Sulṭāniyyah (Cairo: al-Babi al-Halabi, 1973), 3-4; Christopher Melchert,
“Māwardī’s Legal Thinking,” Al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā, 23 (2015): 68-86. Texts dealing with
legal matters, such as electing a leader of the community, preserving market functions,
and applying penal codes, are, however, encapsulated in a religious vision of
a community. This is well narrated in al-Māwardī’s Adab al-Dīn wa al-Dunyā. See
al-Māwardī, Adab al-Dīn wa al-Dunyā (Beirut: Dār al-Minhāj, 2013).
111 For more on the notion of unveiling and ethics of happiness, see al-Ghazālī,
Al-Iqtisād fī al-iʿtiqad (Damascus: 2003); al-Ghazālī, Mīzān al-‘Amal (Cairo: Dār
al-Ma‘ārif Press, 1964); al-Ghazālī, Bidāyat al-Hidāya (Beirut: Dār al-Bashar al-Islāmiyya,
2001); al-Ghazālī, The Beginning of Guidance, trans. Abdur-Rahman ibn
Yusuf (Santa Barbara: White Tread Press, 2010).
112 See al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’, Vol. 2.
113 Al-Ghazālī, Bidāyat al-Hidāya, 44; al-Ghazālī, The Beginning of Guidance, 23.