Maqasid is the Arabic word for "goals" or "purposes". In Islamic context, it can refer to the purposes of Islamic faith, zakat (charity tax), pilgrimage or even of the Qur'an's and Sunnah's text.
Surprisingly, not many people are aware of this but in terms of Syariah, there are five Maqasid (foundational goals): these are the preservation of: 1) Religion 2) Life 3) Intellect 4) Honour 5) Property.
al-Maqasid, the book, is a guide to Islam written by Imam Nawawi. It presents the basic teachings of Islam from a traditional perspective. Topics include: Fundamentals of Faith and Sacred Law, Purification, The Prayer (Salat), Zakat, Fasting, the Pilgrimage (Hajj), and more. Famous Fiqh handbooks like al-Maqasid have stood the test of time because of their sheer usefulness. Compact enough to be memorized by students intending to become scholars, al-Maqasid contains hundreds of rulings of personal Islamic law distilled from the most commonly asked and answered questions in schools and mosques from the time of the Prophet (saw) down to Imam Nawawi. This new edition has been appended to include why Muslims follow madhabs, hadiths, the lack of mujtahid Imams and the place of Sufism in Islam. Those using Reliance of the Traveller as a text will find this to be a good overview as well.
It is also known in English as the Manual of Islam and is one of the easier to understand translated works on Islam.
I have just began conducting this course last week and will be doing so for the next 20 weeks. There are many ways to conduct this: I chose to instruct this book from a practical perspective with new presenting issues. My students have been asked to read and think of those issues before attending the weekly class.
I hope in the end, it will benefit those who attends. I pray that I will succeed in planting that seed of faith through this course. The journey is still a long way ahead...