Development studies has so far created a huge intellectual resource, including theories, models and policy prescriptions that have been implemented in most developing economies. However, development theorization has been generally dominated by the western materialist paradigm which is antithetical to the very philosophical foundations of Islam. Muslims, constituting at least a quarter of the world population, mostly live in the less developed economies and are therefore among the largest consumers of these materialist theories. Based on the premises that the Muslim world cannot address its multifarious development challenges by relying only on imported theories and models, and that as important stakeholders in the world, Muslims need to contribute to the global development discourse; this paper presents an Islamic alternative approach to the analysis of development based on the theory of maqasid al-Shari’ah. The paper proposes a maqasid-based development approach which sees development from the perspective of drawing benefit and removing harm, which require promoting things that make life easy, meaningful and prosperous and blocking all means to harm, socio-economic difficulty and underdevelopment. The three-stages development approach focuses on promoting wellbeing through the preservation and enhancement of five essential components; faith, life, intellect, offspring and wealth. The paper submits that maqasid al-Shari’ah is a veritable framework for, inter alia, formulating development policies and prioritizing development projects. The strength of the approach lies in the proper place it accords to faith, spirituality, and moral ethics as trigger mechanisms for sustained moderate development in addition to its emphasis on all-encompassing but moderate material progress. The paper calls for an extensive study of the science of maqasid al-Shari’ah as it pertains to economic development discourse.
Maqasid al-Shari’ah, Economic Development, Theorization