Within the activities of Sharjah’s International Book Fair, the Centre for the Study of the Philosophy of Islamic Law, which is affiliated to Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, organised a public lecture on Saturday 10th November 2012 at the Sharjah Expo Centre. The lecture was delivered by Dr. Ibrahim al-Bayoumi Ghanem and was devoted to his book “The Purposes of Good and the Jurisprudence of Public Interest”, published by the Centre for the Study of the Philosophy of Islamic Law.
The lecture was chaired by Dr. Azzeddine Benzeghiba, Head of Studies, Publication and External Affairs at Juma al-Majid Center for Culture and Heritage and Editor-in-Chief of “Afaq al-Thaqafah wa al-Turath” (Heritage and Cultural Perspectives) magazine, which is published by Juma al-Majid Centre.
At the beginning of the event, Dr. Benzeghiba introduced the lecturer, giving an overview of Dr. Ghanem’s intellectual life as well as a synopsis of the lecture.
In the course of his lecture, Dr. Ghanem focused on the concept of charitable acts in accordance with the teachings of the Qurʾān. He explained that the Qurʾānic concept of charitable acts is one of the means of the objectives of the Islamic law that is geared towards the achievement of common interest. He specified that such achievement would not reach the highest of human pinnacles unless it occurs in what he termed ‘the society of common good’. He indicated that in his understanding of the relevant Qurʾānic statements there is no system equal to Islam as a comprehensive way of life that purports to attain the society of common good. In this sense, common good occupies a central place in Islam’s universal message. Therefore, the nation of Islam, in its Qurʾānic status of “the best nation ever evolved for mankind”, ought to undertake charitable acts and also call for doing good until the whole of mankind eases itself into the realm of good under its comprehensive and equitable Qurʾānic criteria, not according to its deficient, biased, positive, humanistic criteria.
In this respect, Dr. Ghanem pointed out that the criteria of good in the Holy Qurʾān is crystal clear, without any ambiguity, and can be described in two fundamental ways: it is comprehensive and it is the best. Indeed, the reference to doing ‘good deeds’ occurred 188 times in the Holy Qurʾān, eight mentions of which come in the inflected forms of akhyar (‘more good’—i.e. ‘best’), khayrāt (plural of good as a noun, i.e. charitable acts) and khayyira (i.e. ‘good’ in its feminine inflection). These references occurred in many instances in relation to both the daily life of this world and the spiritual life of the hereafter. The lecturer indicated that it was through the analysis of these various occurrences that he came to realise the comprehensiveness of the concept of good as embodied in the Qurʾān.
Before closing his lecture, Dr. Ghanem gave a short summary of the content of his book which is based on three research axes. These are:
1. The issue of ‘the society of common good’ as embodied in the Qurʾānic concept of good. He ended up saying that Muslims do need to evolve a comprehensive theory of the concept of good on the basis of the relevant Qurʾānic statements. Meanwhile, he pointed out that Muslims are also in need of getting acquainted with the characteristics of the society of ‘common good’ in accordance with the Qurʾānic concept of good.
2. The jurisprudential issue of the ‘closing and opening of the doors of pretexts’ (sadd wa fatḥ abwāb al- dhara’i‘). This is one of the deeply-rooted and very influential fundamental issues in Islamic intellectual trends and decision-making processes which are partly connected to the evaluation of ‘the common interest’ and its future repercussions on the individual and collective levels.
3. The question of fardh al-kifaya or ‘sufficiency obligation’ (obligatory act which does not necessarily need to be carried out by all the Muslims as is the case for the opposite fardh ʿain—suffice it that a few Muslims execute it) which, the lecturer explained, is yet another of the fundamental juristic issues that has a strong link with the topic of ‘common good’ under the criteria of Islamic jurisprudence. Indeed, there is a great need to shed light on the actual extent of this issue, to draw attention to its connections with social responsibility and to show how it eventually leads to the achievement of the ‘common good’ in its Qurʾānic-humanist or humanist-Qurʾānic sense.
At the end of the lecture an animated debate took place in the presence of a great number of professors and researchers.*Dr. Ghanem is member of the Board of Experts of the Centre for the Study of the Philosophy of Islamic Law and a professor of Islamic studies at Zayed University. He has published a number of works and studies in the field of the objectives of Islamic law in relation to human and social sciences. Furthermore, Dr. Ghanem has his own deeply critical views vis-à-vis charity work and its purposes.
In view of the importance of this topic, the Centre for the Study of the Philosophy of Islamic Law, which is affiliated to Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, has published this lecture in the form of a book, bearing the same title as the lecture, as part of the Centre’s lecture series. Meanwhile, within the afore mentioned Book Fair activities, the Foundation organised a book signing ceremony for the author. The ceremony took place on Saturday 10th November 2012 and was attended by a number of interested individuals.