Islamization of knowledge

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The phrase Islamization of knowledge has been used in contemporary Islamic philosophy since the later 20th century to refer to attempts to reconcile Islam and modernity, specifically seeking for a way to adopt the scientific method in a way consistent with Islamic ethical norms.[ citation needed ]

Contemporary Islamic philosophy revives some of the trends of medieval Islamic philosophy, notably the tension between Mutazilite and Asharite views of ethics in science and law, and the duty of Muslims and role of Islam in the sociology of knowledge and in forming ethical codes and legal codes, especially the fiqh and rules of jihad. See list of Islamic terms in Arabic for a glossary of key terms used in Islam.

Islam and modernity is a topic of discussion in contemporary sociology of religion. The history of Islam chronicles different interpretations and approaches. Modernity is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon rather than a unified and coherent one. It has historically had different schools of thought moving in many directions.

Scientific method Interplay between observation, experiment and theory in science

The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.

Contents

History

The phrase "Islamisation of knowledge" was first used and proposed by the Malaysian scholar Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas in his book "Islam and Secularism" ISBN   983-99628-6-8 (first published in 1978).

Malaysia Federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the world's 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. In the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, with large numbers of endemic species.

Tan Sri Dr. Syed Muhammad al Naquib bin Ali al-Attas is a Malaysian Muslim philosopher. He is one of the few contemporary scholars who is thoroughly rooted in the traditional Islamic sciences and who is equally competent in theology, philosophy, metaphysics, history, and literature. He is the pioneer in proposing the idea of Islamisation of knowledge. Al-Attas' philosophy and methodology of education have one goal: Islamisation of the mind, body and soul and its effects on the personal and collective life on Muslims as well as others, including the spiritual and physical non-human environment. He is the author of twenty-seven works on various aspects of Islamic thought and civilisation, particularly on Sufism, cosmology, metaphysics, philosophy and Malay language and literature.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

It was also proposed by the Palestinian philosopher Ismail Al-Faruqi, in 1982, in response to what he called "the malaise of the ummah" (faithful). He argued that by using tools, categories, concepts and modes of analysis that originated wholly in the secular West (like Marxism), there was a disconnect between the ecological and social reality of Muslim nations, and worse, a total inability to respect or even notice the violations of ethics of Islam itself. In his view, clashes between traditionalist ulema and reformers seeking to revive Muslim society with modern science and professional categories, were inevitable without the strong ethical constraints that applied to methods of early Muslim philosophy. He proposed therefore to revive those methods, restore ijtihad and integrate scientific method within Islamic limits.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.

Ummah is an Arabic word meaning "community". It is distinguished from Shaʻb which means a nation with common ancestry or geography. Thus, it can be said to be a supra-national community with a common history.

Marxism economic and sociopolitical worldview based on the works of Karl Marx

Marxism is a theory and method of working-class self-emancipation. As a theory, it relies on a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

A significant example of the movement to islamize knowledge is the International Institute of Islamic Thought, based in the US state of Virginia and closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Beyond its academic work, the Institute has been controversial due to its links to terrorist groups.[ citation needed ]

The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) is a privately held non-profit organization. It was founded in 1981 in Pennsylvania, and is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Their main interest is carrying out evidence-based research in advancing education in Muslim Societies and the dissemination of this research through publication and translation, teaching, policy recommendations, and strategic engagements. The International Institute of Islamic Thought was established as a non-profit 501(c)(3) non-denominational organization in the United States in 1981. The headquarters are in Herndon, Virginia.

A body of modern knowledge that had been so "Islamized" would not offend the traditionalists, since it would place ethics before knowledge or curiosity or power, and provide for curtailment of scientific or professional activities that offended those ethics. However, if it were sufficiently broad and integrative to support inquiry across all vital fields including medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology, it would provide ample opportunity for a modern professional class to mentally and economically liberate the Muslim societies. They would ally with, not fight with, the ulema.

Al-Faruqi died in 1986, but his program has already had a profound effect, especially on Islamic economics, which operates under traditional zero-interest, participatory labor-capital structures, and supports stronger community control of land (as in the traditional practices of haram and hima, the equivalent of the modern watershed protection and wilderness reserve laws). These practices were already well on the way to revival before Al-Faruqi's work, however. Islamic banks remain a relatively minor force in world finance.

Islamic economics is a term used to refer to Islamic commercial jurisprudence.

Haram is an Arabic term meaning forbidden. This may refer to: either something sacred to which access is forbidden to the people who are not in a state of purity or who are not initiated into the sacred knowledge; or to an evil thus "sinful action that is forbidden to be done". The term also denotes something "set aside", thus being the Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew concept קודשqadoš, and the concept of sacer in Roman law and religion. In Islamic jurisprudence, haram is used to refer to any act that is forbidden by Allah, and is one of five Islamic commandments that define the morality of human action.

A Hima is defined by the Qur'an as "a private pasture".

There are also debates on Islamic science and what it would mean to do science in a way that reflects the ethical teachings of Islam, and accept direction from the ijma on the priorities of such research.

Ijmāʿ is an Arabic term referring to the consensus or agreement of Islamic scholars on a point of Islamic law. Various schools of thought within Islamic jurisprudence may define this consensus to be that of the first generation of Muslims only; or the consensus of the first three generations of Muslims; or the consensus of the jurists and scholars of the Muslim world, or scholarly consensus; or the consensus of all the Muslim world, both scholars and laymen. Sunni Muslims regard ijmā' as the third fundamental source of Sharia law, after the Qur'an, and the Sunnah. The opposite of ijma is called ikhtilaf.

Al-Faruqi's analysis, called the "Islamization of Knowledge: General Principles and Workplan" remains the primary source for this program. Nasr's work on the congruence between classical Islam and the modern ecology movement is thought by some to be even more fundamental, and to suggest parallels between the ethical constraints that secular activists seek to place on science and technology, and the ethical constraints that Islam sought to place on philosophy and politics. An Islamic ecotheology would then converge with economics and put Islamic pillars under a form of ecological economics, with religious authority backing up sustainable development. This would be a significant first step towards Al-Faruqi's overall program.

Criticism and debate

Critics[ who? ] argue that there are vast differences between the kind of ethics that are applied in the modern labour movement or the anti-globalization movement, for example, and those that would be applied by any believer in the literal interpretation of the Qur'an. Thus, any cooperation of modern ethical reformers and those seeking guidance from classical Islam would be doomed from the start.

There are, however, debates regarding Islamic feminism and ethics of technology wherein secular concerns (like vanity, consumerism, competing for attention, technological one-upmanship, runaway technologies) seem to often echo the terms of reference of a classical critique:

Catholic theology was well integrated with scientific knowledge from the time of Aquinas to the time of Galileo, and that too was a deliberate program. Critics suggest that this also demonstrates the futility of trying to inhibit scientific research with reference to any religious fundamentalism.

In modern times, Pope John Paul II called at times for restraining the sciences to work strictly within a Christian ethical framework, and respect the boundaries between what is known by faith versus reason - his "Fides et Ratio" and "Gospel of Life" make some points in common with Al-Faruqi, calling likewise for strong ethical limits and a curtailment of curiosity or "knowledge for knowledge's sake".

See also

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