This latest issue of IAIS Malaysias flagship journal, Islam and Civilisational Renewal (ICR), includes five new substantive articles, all with actionable policy recommendations, in addition to a number of viewpoints and event reports. I am confident readers will agree that our expert contributors have succeeded in crafting a unique body of work, characterised by honest scholarship, depth of learning and originality of thought.
Our lead article, contributed by Muhammad Shahrul Ifwat bin Ishak, a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen (UK), is an exploration of the potential for reform within the Islamic legal tradition. Entitled Considering Maalat as an Approach to Applying Maslahah in Reality, it interrogates classical Muslim jurist Abu Ishaq Ibraham al-Shatibis attempts to harmonise Islamic rulings with their objectives. Al-Shatibi interpreted Islamic law as an instrument for achieving public good maslahah); should any negative consequences result from its implementation, he argued appropriate modifications be made to the law to produce more desirable outcomes. Shahrul Ifwat takes up this perspective as a potential avenue for achieving substantive reform within modern Islamic legal settings, arguing that the flexibility allowed by al-Shatibi would facilitate the implementation of Islamic ideals within a twenty-first century context. Nevertheless, the author cautions that any decision to deviate from established Islamic norms must be justified by rigorous empirical research and left subject to future review. Ideally, it should also be rooted in a collective ijtihad, or creative collaboration between mujtahids (Shariah experts) and specialists drawn from more secular fields of enquiry.