Consumer Culture and the Question of Identity: A Response Based On Maqasid al-Shari‘ah Theory
Keywords:Consumerism, Identity, Khalifah, Maqasid al-Shari‘ah, ‘Ubudiyyah, Israf, Tabdhir.
Consumerism is a buzzword of the modern lingua-Franka. In the contemporary age, human beings are generally identified as consumers. It refers to the fundamental idea of consumption- tangible and intangible substances, to frame the reference point for modern man to identify himself in terms of what he consumes. In this context, the paper explores the phenomenon of consumerism as an indispensable column of the modern hegemonic order which is neo-liberal, capitalistic and globalized. The paper then highlights the issue of identity crisis vis-à-vis consumer behavior. The paper discusses the fundamentals of Islamic world view vis-à-vis the inter-relationship of the elements of the cosmos and its nature. It delves into the deeper meanings of the Quranic concepts like khilafah, ‘ubudiyyah etc. and their implications on the identity formation of a Muslim and hence the formation of specific behavior. It tries to critically evaluate the tectonic phenomenon of consumerism from the perspective of maqasid al-Shari‘ah (the higher intents of the Islamic law) and finally proposing Islamic viewpoint to ensure civilizational renewal of the humanity, which is more natural and helps to construct a positive relationship with the self and the outer cosmos, coupling the human interests with maqasid al-Shari‘ah. The paper finally offers some policy recommendations to suggest a way towards a reformed engagement with the cosmos as a whole in terms of justice and fairness.
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