An Abridged Shari‘ah Perspective: Obligations to Future Generations

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

﴿رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي * وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي * وَاحْلُلْ
عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي * يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي﴾

The following is an abridgment of my paper Obligations to Future Generations: A Shari‘ah Perspective, published by Tabah Foundation. Please see the original for references and additional details.


Technology and population have advanced to where today’s decisions result in irreversible changes or damages which will be passed on to generations of persons who are not yet born. Do we have any obligation to these future generations? Is there a Shari‘ah-based foundation for such an obligation? If so, what are these obligations? What follows is a brief introduction to the concept of obligations to future generations, a demonstration that the overall objectives of the Shari‘ah (maqaṣid al-sharī‘ah) call for such obligations and suggest particular obligations. It then ends with several observations for Muslim scholars. The full paper covers a wider range of topics and in greater detail, and is available for those who are interested.

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Detailed Counsel

The following was extracted from my translation of Abu ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī’s Detailed Counsel. Each of these counsels is explained in the translation, which—in sha Allah—will be published during 2013.

  • Be mindful of God
  • Prefer obedience and avoid disobedience
  • Do not be distracted away from God

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Collection of Maqasid

The following list of maqāṣid al-sharī‘ah—overarching objectives and purposes of Islam[ic Legislation]—was extracted from Ibn ‘Āshūr’s Maqāṣid al-sharī‘ah. For more information, please consult the Arabic original or its English translation. This list is by no means exhaustive, though it does include the main ones mentioned in the book.

The maqāṣid include:

  • preservation of the order of the world & regulating human conduct
  • preventing our inflicting harm and destruction upon the world
  • preservation of religion, life, the intellect, property, lineage, & dignity

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Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatment

The following was extracted from my translation of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī’s ʿUyūb al-nafs wa adwiyātuhā (Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatment). The entries are listed in the following format:


You can obtain a copy of the book here.

Audio recordings from a course taught in 2004 are available here.

Expecting salvation despite violations
Travel the path of guidance, eat wholesome food, and seek complete protection from God
Comfort by the form of repentance
Adhere to grieving & crying so the nafs does not apply itself to feeling comforted

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