Islamization of Knowledge

Islamization of Knowledge

Islamic Perspectives on Theory Building in the Social Sciences

The issue of the relevance of Islam to modem "scientific" thinking is flanked on both sides by extreme positions. On further investigation, however, these positions turn out to reflect certain misconceptions only, perpetuated by certain structural and personal factors that lend themselves readily to systematic analysis and, hopefully, correction. On the one hand, we have legions of Muslim social scientists who still flinch at hearing of attempts to integrate divine revelation with science. Many of them would find the title of this paper problematic, if not outright self-contradictory. What does Islam, or any other religion for that matter, have to do with science or with theory building, they would ask.

The Quest for an Islamic Methodology: The Islamization of Knowledge Project in Its Second Decade

The Islamization of knowledge is one of the dominant themes that continue to preoccupy contemporary Muslim intellectuals. Since Ismail al Faruqi presented this thesis little over a decade ago, numerous papers, monographs, and books have been written on the subject. This paper attempts to examine the progress of the project of Islamization in the last decade by outlining the general framework of Islamization and examining the work of its proponents and critics. Modifications aimed at overcoming the difficulties inherent in the original plan are then proposed.

Reflections into the Spirit of the Islamic Corpus of Knowledge and the Rise of the New Science

There is no question that contemporary western civilization has been dominant in the field of science since the Renaissance. Western scientific superiority is not limited to specific scientific disciplines, but is rather an overall scientific domination covering both the so-called exact and the human-social sciences. Western science is the primary reference for specialists in such areas as physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, economics, psychology, and sociology. It is in this sense that Third World underdevelopment is not only economic, social, and industrial; it also suffers from scientific-cultural underdevelopment, or what we call "The Other Underdevelopment" (Dhaouadi 1988).

The Crisis of Thought and Ijtihad

The Muslim mind experienced a crisis of thought when, during the early centuries of the Islamic era ijtihad began to be viewed as limited to legal matters rather than as a methodology for dealing with all aspects of life. This limited understanding engendered a malaise that allowed taqlid to attain such prominence and respectability that its cancerous, constricting, and irrelevant fiqh spread throughout Muslim life. Had ijtihad retained more of its lexical meaning and creativity, and had fiqh been considered only one of its uses, perhaps Muslims would have overcome many of the problems that confronted them. However, this particularization of ijtihad confined the Muslim mind, and taqlid eventually led to the paralysis of its creative abilities.

Revelation and Political Philosophy: What Is Islamization of Knowledge?

This is a "work in progress" presentation based on research I am now conducting about the development of Islamic political philosophy during the classical period of Islam. My contention is that a better understanding of that tradition puts the current debate about Islamic fundamentalism or resurgence into a new perspective. Behind the sensational, popular demands for greater adherence to the strictures of the revealed law of Islam lies an issue of fundamental importance: how divine revelation is to be understood and interpreted for political guidance. Those who developed Islamic political philosophy spoke directly to this issue and did so in a manner that merits the attention of contemporary Muslim activists, scholars interested in Islam, and thoughtful human beings in general. They thought clearly about the relationship between religious belief and political practice because they addressed the issue directly and without preconceptions. Consequently, whatever our religious and cultural origins, we can benefit greatly from their teaching.

The Methodology of the Islamic Behavioral Sciences

Methodology is the means of formulating the principles that determine the guidelines for various sciences. Or, in other words, it is the system of practices and procedures that, when applied to a specific branch of knowledge, will result in furthering the particulars of that knowledge. The concept of studying methodology is not new. In fact, some trace it back to Plato and Aristotle, who gave it special consideration. Its study has developed to such an extent that it has now become a science in and of itself under the formal title of "methodology." Its content has also become intertwined with the philosophy of the sciences themselves.

Towards a Unified Approach to the Shari'ah and Social Inference

Forging a new methodology capable of analyzing complicated social phenomena on the one hand, and facilitating the derivation of rules and concepts from divine revelation on the other, is one of the paramount concerns of contemporary Islamic scholarship and the sole concern of this paper. In dealing with this concern the paper pursues two main themes. First, an attempt is made to underscore the need for reestablishing revelation as a primary source of social theorizing. Second, a primordial model of a unified methodological approach for analyzing both revealed texts and social phenomena is outlined.

Assumptions Concerning the Social Sciences: A Comparative Perspective

This paper comprises three major sections. The first section discusses modern social assumptions concerning the existence of human beings and their societies. It also explains the impact of these assumptions on organizational theory. The second section explores Islamic assumptions concerning these same two elements and explains a major attribute of Islamic organizations. The third section compares the above-mentioned assumptions of modern social science to those of Islam and illustrates that knowledge-transfer creates its own organizational and social problems.

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