Paper presented at the International Forum on Disaster Relief organized at Rizqun International Hotel by the Institute of Medicine Universiti Brunei Darussalam 10-12 July 2006 by Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. MB ChB (MUK), MPH (Harvard), DrPH (Harvard) Professor of Epidemiology and Islamic Medicine EM omarkasule@yahoo.com.


Prioritization of Interventions, tahdiid al awliyyaat, and Communal Obligation, fardh kifayat.



The theory of purposes of the Law, maqasid al shari’at, is used to prioritize disaster management intreventions. The order of priority is: protection of ddiin, hifdh al ddiin; protection of life, hifdh al nafs; protection of progeny, hifdh al nasl; protection of intellect or metal health, hifdh al ‘aql; and conservation of resources, hifdh al maal. Disaster management is a communal obligation, fardh kifayat, for each local community. Each community is obliged by Law to have trained volunteers and basic resources for early intervention (within the first 12 hours) because intervention in the early period has the biggest impact on overall outcome.



1.1 Introduction

Disaster management interventions should be prioritized because of time and resource constraints. The theory of purposes of the Law as expounded by Imaam Abu Ishaaq al Shatibi al Andalusi in his authoritative legal manual al muwafaqaat fi usuul al shari’at asserts that the Law was revealed to fulfill specific underlying purposes that will ensure success in this world and the hereafter. The primary purposes of the Law are classified in order of importance as necessities, dharuraat; needs, hajiyat; and refinements, tahsinaat. The Law will require that disaster management plans to follow the same order of priority. Dharurat are given priority over hajiyaat. Hajiyaat are given priority over tahsinaat.


1.2 Necessities, dharuuraat

The 5 necessities that are generally referred to as maqasid al shariat arranged here in order of importance: religion, diin; life, nafs, the mind, 'aql; progeny, nasl; and property, maal. Disaster management programs follow the same order of priority. Hifdh al din involves the creed, aqidat, and worship, ibadat, as well as other supporting human endeavors. No disaster management intervention should be allowed if it violates public morality. Victims of disasters are in a weak and are vulnerable to external influences. In this connection any disaster relief activities carried out with the aim of proselytizing for any religion, ideology, culture, or way of life are not allowed.


Hifdh al nafs is protection of the body from harm and is the second most important intervention in disaster situations. The third priority is hifdh al nasl which is assured by care for mothers and their children to make sure that the next generation will be healthy and able to continue the human mission on earth. The fourth priority is hifdh al ‘aql which is related to mental health an important consideration in view of the mental stress associated with disaster situations. The fifth priority is hifdh al mal which in essence means careful use of resources during disaster situations because they will be needed for future disasters. Putting resources at the tail end of priorities has great wisdom behind it which is that relief has to be undertaken whatever the cost because human life is a higher priority.


1.3 Needs, haajiyaat

After fulfilling the basic necessities, dharuraat, mentioned above, disaster management interventions can consider haajiyaat. Haajiyaat ensure proper functioning of life by removing discomfort, haraj, that would still exist after addressing the basic necessities. Failure to fulfill haajiyaat does not lead to the same degree of harm to life as failure to fulfill dharuraat. For example providing basic staple food in a disaster situation is dharuraat but the choice of what staple to use in considered among the haajiyaat.

1.4 Refinements, tahsiinaat

After fulfilling the haajiyaat, disaster management may address tahsinaat that aim at achieving a higher level of human dignity and makarim al akhlaq. For example providing the staple food is considered a dharuurat but the etiquette of eating like sitting at a table and using nice plates and cutlery are tahsinaat. It is rare to even consider tahsiinaat in disaster situations.



2.1 Classification of legal injunctions, hukm shara’e, and legal obligations, waajibaat

Hukm shara’e can be classified in three categories: injunctive, hukm takliifi; stipulatory, hukm wadhai; and optional, hukm takhyiiri. Hukm taklifi is primary whereas the other two are secondary to it. Hukm wadhai regulates the performance of actions by control of the causal chain or the pre-actions. Hukm takhyiri provides a choice in which undertaking an act and leaving it are equivalent. Hukm taklifi ordains an action and takes the following forms: obligatory, wajib; recommended, manduub; prohibited, haram; offensive, makruuh; and permitted, mubaah.


2.2 Individual obligations, fardh ‘ain, and collective obligation, fardh kifayat

The definition of the obligatory, wajib, varies in different schools. The shafe’i school considers waajib the same as faradh. Waajib is considered the most important hukm takliifi and is divided into 2 borad categories. Individual obligations, fardh aini, are acts that each adult it required to discharge personally such as seeking health care or taking care of the family. Community obligations are collective obligations, fardh kifayat, on the whole community. Performance of a collective obligation by any member of the community absolves the rest from sin. Disaster management is considered a collective obligation that can be discharged by a small number of community members. Only those with the necessary competence can perform the collective obligations. Those without the competence are not obliged even if they are members of the community.


2.3 Legal obligations in disaster management

In the disaster management situation, disaster preparedness and disaster relief are considered collective obligations. Community leaders must put in place measures for predicting disasters and preventing disasters. Community leaders must also make sure that there are trained volunteers and resources to provide front-line disaster management within the first 6 hours of a disaster because intervention in the early period has the biggest impact on overall outcome. Being a collective obligation, disaster management can be undertaken by members of the community with the relevant expertise. If these few discharge the obligation, the rest of the community is absolved from sin. If they however fail to discharge the obligation the whole community is in a state of sin. The obligation is however individual, fardh ‘ain, for community members with expertise in disaster management.

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. July 2006