Happiness as an Objective of Shari'ah: Analysing its Operationalisation in Pubic Policy
Keywords:happiness, maqasid al-shari'ah, public policy
Research on happiness has generated much interest in recent years, largely due to the failure of many modern societies to offer a balanced and healthy lifestyle parallel to their rapid material growth. Research has shown that happiness is a more comprehensive indicator of public well-being compared to aggregate-based evaluations (such as GDP, household debt, and so forth). Happiness is also a more holistic and humane measure for informing policymaking decisions, and more likely produce better results. Surveys in Islamic jurisprudence have shown that happiness-in its contemporary conception-is absent from religio-legal mind-sets and considerations. Happiness is somehow overlooked in Islamic jurisprudence, despite numerous references to ‘aspects’ of happiness in the Qur’an and Islamic philosophical and mystical traditions under terms such as falah, farḥah, sacadah, mutmainnah, hayatan ṭayyibah, masruroh and sakinah. This article proposes that happiness be recognised as one of the higher objectives (mmaqasid al-caliyyah) of Shari’ah. Its socioeconomic applications will also be highlighted. It is proposed that Islamic countries readjust their evaluative measures of development and elevate happiness as a core factor for consideration.