SAFA EDUCATIONAL REFORMS TRUST PAKISTAN 

Muslim Epistemology 
An Analytical Appraisal of  Islamization of Knowledge 
 

By Dr. Muhammad Amin 
9/1/2009 

Published by:

Educational Reforms Trust Pakistan http://www.Safa.edu.pk

 

Muslim Epistemology An Analytical Appraisal of Islamization of Knowledge
Dr. Muhammad Amin Professor & Chair Department of Islamic Thought & Civilization University of Management & Technology, Lahore

Abstract
Epistemology or Islamic concept of knowledge is not merely theoretical but has a close bearing on human thought and behavior in individuals and the society at large. Quran, Hadith and Muslim scholars have attached great importance to Islamic concept of epistemology. In the early days of Islam epistemology flourished in the light of Islamic principles. Later on under the influence of colonial powers and wave of modernity Muslim epistemology lost it identity. Different Muslim scholars presented different views to develop and evolve an education system in the light of Islamic Principles. Hossein Nasr, Al -Attas, Fazlur Rehman ,Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi and Ziauddin Sardar are few of them. According to the writer’s point of view with reference to Muslim epistemology entire knowledge including social sciences and religious studies should be reproduced or reconstructed in the light of Muslim worldview. New disciplines of knowledge should be introduced such as Occidental studies, Muslim Civilizations, Science of personality development and Ummah studies etc. For this purpose practical training of personnel having a truly Islamic mindset is required. Academic planning, theoretical frame work, impressive monograph and organized workshops on reconstruction of existing knowledge in Islamic perspective should be arranged A role model University along with affiliated colleges and schools can serve the purpose. The insightful, well planned step by step process is required to develop an educational system based on Muslim Worldview. For this, entire Ummah should pool its resources, both intellectual and material, and embark upon the project, giving it top priority.

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Muslim Epistemology
An Analytical Appraisal of Islamization of Knowledge (1)
Muslim epistemology means Islamic theory of knowledge or the Islamic concept of knowledge. It discusses nature of knowledge, its sources, objectives and scope, its types and branches, which branch of knowledge is useful and should be acquired, which one is harmful and should better be avoided, what is possible to know, and what is simply not possible to know, how can knowledge be acquired etc.

Importance
The discussion of epistemology is not merely theoretical as it has a close bearing on human thought and behavior in individuals and the society at large. Epistemology, in fact, is the product of the worldview of a society (its concept of man, the universe and the deity).The concept of knowledge in a society gives birth to different disciplines and branches of knowledge, educational philosophy and institutional infra-structure. Education plays a key role in the character building of individuals who in turn make up the society and develop a civilization.

Background
The importance of epistemology should be evident from the fact that the Noble Quran provides detailed guidance in this regard, and the subject also gets high priority in the Ahadith.For instance, Imam Bukhari, in his Sahih, has set the chapter on Ilm (knowledge) immediately after the Book of Revelation and the Book on Iman, and it is an exhaustive study spreaed over sixteen chapters. Similarly, Muslim ulema and scholars, theologians, thinkers and the Sufis (mystics) have attached great importance to knowledge and discussed it at length. (2) Accordingly, Imam Ibne Abdul Barr, Syed Ali Hajveri, Ibne Sina, Imam Ghazali, Ibne Rushd, Ibne Khuldoon, Ibne Arabi, Ibne Taimiyah, Mullah Sadrah, Shah Wali Ullah, Shah Ismail Shaheed, and in the recent past Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi, and Dr. Rafi Uddin have made valuable contribution in this field. (3) Muslim history also bears witness to the fact that the Islamic ideology of life brought about all embracing spiritual, moral and conceptual development of the Muslims during the period of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his companions, and the Muslims made remarkable advancement in every sphere of knowledge, religious, as well as secular including social sciences, technology and natural sciences. However, after about one thousand year, deviation of the Muslims from their worldview coupled with the absence of a proper system of education
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and that the Muslims should evolve their own educational system based on the Islamic worldview and epistemology. The awakened sections in the Muslim society continued their resistance against the oppressive forces and were finally successful in throwing away the yoke of slavery within a century or two. Accordingly. Dr. The Ulema who had succeeded in preserving the religious education to some extent by establishing Madrasas (religious schools) during the colonial rule did not realize their responsibilities in the newly liberated set up and stuck to their old education system which had no room for secular knowledge and disciplines. established this point. Syed Muhammad Al Naquib al-Attas also analyzed Western and Muslim epistemology in detail and came to the conclusion that: 4 . internal dissention and various other factors weakened the Muslim world and they became slaves of the strong Western nations. Rafi Uddin in the recent past. when the turn of events forced the Western nations to concede political freedom to the Muslims. declaring it harmful for the Muslims. after invading the Muslim states. This strategy enable them to create a class of the local Muslims which were Muslim in name but practically loved the Western values and culture in all respects. He also underscored the need for sticking to Muslim epistemology to confront the present day challenges. Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi and Dr.and Tarbiyah. made a critical analysis of the Western epistemology. they were successful in handing over power to the class which had been captivated by the glamour of Western thought and civilization. Iranian scholar. The net result was that the Western concept of life and knowledge remained acceptable in those liberated Muslim states and the educational system introduced by the colonial rules continued except with some cursory changes made under the pressure of religious groups and the general public. Accordingly. Dr. the Western Imperialism wound up the educational system of the Muslims. sayed Hossein Nasr in the USA. they also enslave minds and hearts of the oppressed nations. (5) Views of Al-Attas Malaysian scholar of Arab origin. This was the over all situation for the last three quarters of a century although some Muslim thinkers advocated that an educational system founded on the Western worldview and epistemology did not provide solution to the problems of the Muslim world. especially in the Indian sub continent. Nasr was influenced by Sufism (mysticism) and his views on Muslim epistemology also reflect the same. The writings of Allama Muhammad Iqbal. (4) Consequently. Contemporary Efforts Some Muslim scholars residing in the Western felt the gravity of the situation in early 70s of the last century. replacing it with their own based on the Western worldview and epistemology. the oppressive forces don’t occupy lands only. But as is always the case.

in his book “Islam and Modernity”. complete harmony could not be developed between the Islamic and the Western knowledge because the two are based on two conflicting and contradictory ideologies. mostly without being noticed by others. being a product of the Western epistemology and the Western worldview. did not accept the Muslim disciplines of knowledge in their original form. Dr. can neither find roots in the Muslim society and culture nor can meet its demands. However. It is always influenced by the worldview and the religious. Fazlur Rahman’s View point Eminent Pakistani intellectual. (6) . 5 .It is imperative to make a distinction between the Normative Islam as it is in its original sources and the Historical Islam as it has been passing through different stages of implementation in the Muslim society and as it exists today. who spent his last years in USA. .Any attempt of the Muslim scholars to reform their educational system within the ambit of the Western epistemology would only promote Western values and ideas because the Western knowledge. The Enlightenment Movement of France in the 17th century that laid down the foundations of the modern Western science and technology was essentially influenced by the Muslim epistemology. The Western mind has however been able to exploit skepticism as a constructive force despite its weaknesses and harmful effects. it assimilated that knowledge in its own epistemology. (7) . it may be said.. moral. saved the West from the “negative aspects” of the Muslim epistemology. Fazlur Rahman. social and cultural milieu of the society which it absorbs unconsciously. has discussed the plight of knowledge and education in the Muslim countries along with their efforts for its reconstruction.The Western scientists extensively benefited from the Muslim advancement in knowledge at the initial stage. As a result. the Muslim knowledge came in partial harmony with the Western epistemology and was fused and amalgamated with the Western culture.The Western epistemology is based on skepticism – skepticism that knows no moral values and norms. This dualism and internal conflict of the Western skepticism gave birth to an unending curiosity in the West and the desire to know the unknown. Instead.knowledge is never value-neutral. The Western civilization however. which is the real motive behind all their new discoveries and inventions. His views in brief are as follows: . shaping the disciplines of knowledge according to Western thought and behavior. This process. Dr.

a critical analysis of the epistemological and educational concepts of the Historical Islam should be made to find out its strong as well as weak points before we apply them in the reconstruction of knowledge and education today in Islamic perspective. and are attaching greater importance to political Islam. Rehman opposed the division of knowledge into religious and secular and differs with Al-Ghazali who advocates the superiority of religious studies (revealed knowledge) over the Physical sciences (medicine). (9) . (10) . a fresh understanding of the Holy Quran (in the sense that while giving due importance to the Order of Revelation of the Holy Quran and the enforcement of the Quranic injunctions in the early days. First.Intergration of the Islamic and the modern disciplines of knowledge is essential. and the modern Islamic forces non governmental level too haven’t taken the issue seriously. It goes to the credit of Dr. their study of Islam is superficial and they haven’t done any solid work for the Islamization of knowledge and education. However. (12) Dr. Dr.The challenge at hand is not the Islamization of the Western disciplines of knowledge but to critically analyze the worldview of the Historical Islam in the light of Normative Islam. Fazlur Rehman also made a realistic study of the educational conditions in the Muslim society and the influence of the West on that. This necessitates focusing on the noble Quran as revealed and not as we recite it today (i. both of them couldn’t lead to any alternate and practical approach with reference to Muslim epistemology. the Muslim states so far haven’t realized the need for practical steps in this direction to achieve the desired results. (11) . (8) . and then review the Islamic epistemological thought to reconstruct the Islamic disciplines of knowledge.The above process should be continued in the light of two basic principles. to have presented a comprehensive philosophy 6 . to follow ‘Order of Revelation’ instead of ‘Order of Recitation’). (For instance.An effort should be made to review or rediscover the Historical Islam by analyzing it in the light of the normative Islam. Ismail Raji al-Faruqi. Raji al Faruqi’s Standpoint Although Syed Naquib al-Attas criticized the Western epistemology and Dr. a Palestinian Muslim scholar settled in USA. Secondly. a conscious efforts should be made to discover relevance to the Quranic verses in the present day situations). Accordingly.e.The traditional institutions of religious education as at present have crumbled under the debris of the past while the modern Islamic forces remain completely ignorant of the importance of knowledge and education.

d) Unifying and integrating the modern disciplines of knowledge with the Islamic thought. iv.for the reconstruction of the Muslim epistemology along with a practical framework for Islamization of knowledge. The Muslim Ummah can’t steer out of its present mess unless its education system is revamped and reconstructed. 7 . iii. Around twenty branches of modern social sciences being taught at the University level at present must be reviewed in accordance with the Islamic ideology. This will. (13) 2. Islamic History should be a compulsory subject for every student. Dr. Acquisition of adequate information about every branch of modern knowledge. and e) Establishing the supremacy of the Islamic thought over the modern knowledge. b) Acquisition of the Islamic knowledge. Faruqi’s view in brief are as below: 1. (14) 3. To achieve that. Objectives of Islamization of knowledge are: a) To gain command over modern disciplines of knowledge. Faruqi’s plan incorporates the following steps: i. the duality of the religious and the modern disciplines of knowledge must be abolished and the two should be synthesized to evolve an integrated system of education imbued with the true Islamic spirit.Islamization of the modern knowledge and other objectives mentioned above can be achieved only under a comprehensive. however. Dr. well thought out plan. Detailed study of different disciplines of knowledge and achieving expertise in these. An analytical study of Islamic thought with reference to the problems of the modern age. c) Determining the Islamic viewpoint in regard to every branch of knowledge. be possible only with the Islamization of knowledge in the true Islamic spirit. Acquisition of the Islamic knowledge in its various branches. ii.

Restructuring the modern disciplines of knowledge at the university level in the light of the Islamic thought. It was primarily the result of this movement that international Islamic universities were established in Pakistan and Malaysia. what has been the net result of this exercise? Unfortunately. Manzur Ahmad on the work initiated by Dr. Dr. To answer this question. ix. a known Pakistan born thinker based in the West. Dr. Determining the Islamic standpoint in regard to each and every branch of knowledge. These are as under: 8 . (15) Thus. The question now arises. A study of the problems facing humanity at present. who conceived the idea of Islamization of knowledge. Faruqi not only realized the need for the Islamization of knowledge in the modern era but also gave a plan of action for that. Faruqi. he established an institute called International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in USA and arranged several international conferences (Islamabad in 1989. vi. Ziauddin Sardar According to Ziauddin Sardar. A critical study of the modern knowledge from the Islamic viewpoint. Dr. Unifying the Islamic thought with the modern disciplines of knowledge. Later. Wali Raza Nasr and Dr. vii. Kuala Lumpur in 1986 and Khartoum in 1987). Faruqi has certain flaws in terms of thought and action. and assigned this important task to the Muslim world’s top educationists and thinkers. we would first refer to the views of Mr. An analytical study of the problems facing the Ummah in every sphere of life. did not get the opportunity to implement his plan and hidden forces put him to death considering him and his activities as a threat. Faruqi. while various branches of the IIIT are working in different Muslim countries.v. x. Ziauddin Sardar. xi. xii. the plan conceived by Dr. Publication of the knowledge acquired through the Islamization process. Going still further. we would present our own views in this regard.

the need for the Islamization of the Physical and Natural sciences can’t be underestimated. when a child poses a question. (16) 2. Therefore. Dr. the importance of the social sciences can’t be denied. likings and disliking. Faruqi’s argument that pursuit of knowledge aims at search for the Truth which is One. Can we treat their work as digging out “The Truth”? iv. for instance. Faruqi’s concept of the Unity of the Truth and the Unity of Ilm (knowledge) implying that since Truth is one. Ideologically. During the 20th century. etc. there is no substance in Dr. According to Dr.i. every effort for its attainment ought to be the attainment of the truth. therefore. Theoretically. perception. economic and political structures. Dr. for instance. primarily depends on the advancement of science and technology in the West. now several Western scholars accept that the process of perception is never valueneutral. But hundreds of scientists are presently doing research on weapons of mass destruction. for decoration and beauty. or we get fruit form these…. . ii. it equates with Ilm also being one. there may be more than one correct answers to this query. however an erroneous view because the concept of Allah being the Absolute Truth does not imply that there can’t be more than one Truth in knowledge. may prove to be false tomorrow. that the trees are for providing shade. iii. 9 . (17) 3. such a possibility exists in Physics. the knowledge paradigm of the West in Social and Natural Sciences with reference to objectivity has been the same. is also fallacious as may be probed in day to day life. But it is also an irrefutable fact that the present development in the West which is also greatly affecting the world’s social.an individual does not study facts from a strictly neutral angle as his findings inevitably reflect his ideas.. Faruqi. there can’t be more than one truth in Ilm or knowledge. Hence. For example. and is influenced by the interests and the attitude of the observer: . This is. Majority of the scientists believe that many a thing which we believe as true today. v.etc. what are the trees for? .the ideas. If Ilm is The truth. Allah is The Truth which is One. However. Faruqi has mainly stressed on the Islamization of the social sciences. interests and values of the person engaged in experimentation influence the results of his efforts.

instead of discovering the relevance of Islam to the modern knowledge.). theories. images. with reference to social sciences. the Islamization of knowledge should not begin with the acceptance of the disciplines of knowledge already in existence. to create harmony between two different epistemological paradigms which are based on the conflicting worldviews. images. Such an attempt won’t be the Islamization of the Western knowledge. Every discipline of knowledge is the product of a particular worldview and meets the requirements of a specific culture evolved by that worldview. the Sunnah and the traditions of the Muslims in the field of knowledge provide the basis for the Muslim epistemology. The knowledge paradigms would determine the basic principles. the discipline of Orientalism was evolved after the West subjugated the Muslim state and felt the need of studying Islam and the Muslim societies with the ulterior motive of successfully controlling the Muslim masses and resolving various problems cropping up with that. In this background. it is modern knowledge that needs to be made relevant to Islam and its correctness or otherwise ascertained. it is not possible to Islamize the modern social sciences which have been evolved under the Western epistemological paradigm (perceptions.There fore. Islam is permanent Truth and a reality for all times. linguistic patterns etc. the disciplines of knowledge too are strictly ideological (knowledge based) and behavioral (shaping the human conduct). Therefore. 10 . although it is now necessary to study these in light of the modern realities. because adherents of every paradigm would work within their own paradigm. We must keep in mind that the Holy Quran. In other words. It is impossible. Like the paradigms. and any effort for unification or amalgamation of perceptions. Dr. 5. concepts and values for each discipline of knowledge while the behavioral paradigms would lay down the moral boundaries within which the Muslim scholars would work. Instead. There should be knowledge paradigms as well as behavior paradigms. Faruqi’s suggestion of accepting the Western division of knowledge as such and “establishing the specific relevance of Islam to each area of modern under the domination of the Western worldview. instead it would tantamount to Westernization of Islam. the paradigms of the Islamic epistemology must be formulated first. (18) 4. For instance. theories and linguistic patterns from adherents of one paradigm would be neither understandable nor meaningful to the adherents of the other paradigm.

(19) The disciplines of knowledge formulated by the West after banishing religion and morality. son of the Dr. time and again. (22) . it has not yielded any concrete result from the Islamic view point. while critically analyzing the plan for the Islamization of knowledge under the auspices of Pakistan chapter of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) opines: . take the case of Hard sciences. no knowledge is essentially un-Islamic. the Islamization of the Western knowledge is simply impossible. The task before the Muslim scholars therefore. a young and emerging Muslim scholar in USA. especially Economics. In fact. the whole exercise should be on the basis of the Islamic worldview with special reference to its spiritual aspect which must be brought to lime light. without necessary groundwork on intellectual and practical fronts before establishing different institutions. social sciences as well as the 11 . Consequently. Syed Wali Raza Nasr. the paradigms of Islamic epistemology having firm footing and being functional. (21) .The term Islamization of knowledge’ is incorrect. Instead.Work on the Islamization of knowledge was initiated in different fields. These are simply study of nature to which the Hoy Quran invites the faithful. would create new disciplines of knowledge in accordance with the Islamic worldview. (20) Dr. to meet the needs of the Muslim society. However. Muslim scholars in the past benefited from the knowledge of the other nations through this process and this is the only way to Islamize knowledge even today.both analytical and critical and absorb and assimilate the findings of such study in its own paradigms gibing them a new shape and color of their own in harmony with the Muslim culture.The Islamization of knowledge need not be undertaken apologetically or as a defensive measure. For instance. It gives the impression that there is something un-Islamic that is being brought in line with Islam.Therefore. Wali Raza Dr. Nasr. are meeting the requirements of the Western society and promoting their culture. Therefore. these neither reconcile with the Muslim worldview nor can be absorbed in the same. is to establish the above mentioned two paradigms of the Muslim epistemology (knowledge Paradigm and Behavioral Paradigm) in accordance with the Muslim worldview to undertake the study of the Western knowledge . Hossein. (23) The proper way of Islamization of knowledge would be to study the basic philosophy behind every discipline of knowledge.

does not believe in the dichotomy of religious and secular. Dr. etc. Islam. Besides.(26) 3. soothsaying. The Western concept that the universe is being run on certain basic laws discovery of which is the primary function of knowledge. Manzur Ahmad. the criticism of modernism by some Western thinkers cannot be taken as an argument in support of the veracity of religious perspective of knowledge. in his recent article on educational issues. While Islamization of knowledge is a vague and unpractical project. the idea that the laws of nature have been devised by Almighty Allah is a matter of faith. In other words. The entire endeavor for the Islamization of knowledge is based on the assumption that the knowledge produced by the West in un-Islamic and should thus be Islamized. Islamabad. It is incorrect to divide knowledge into Islamic and un-Islamic. the Islamization of any discipline of knowledge is linked with the Islamic approach and the Islamic outlook and not in its restructuring or revision of its institutional framework. This presumption in itself is wrong. eternal and are not the discovery of the Muslims. There fore. (keeping in mind that these concepts are natural. bringing to fore its basic concepts. the principle of Supply and Demand in Economics). seems to be difficult in the midst of a strong value system founded on the basic concepts of Western philosophy and thought. The whole worldly (secular) knowledge can’t be categorized as un-Islamic. is so solid and viable that it cannot be demolished on intellectual grounds. for instance. otherwise all intellectual and experimental branches of knowledge were always appreciated by the Muslim scholars. Muslim thinkers in the past had categorized as un-Islamic only those branches of knowledge which did not stand to the test of intellect and experiment such as magic.to study these in the light of the Muslim worldview / Islamic perspective determining their role in the Islamic thought and action. made the followings observations on the efforts of Islamization of knowledge: 1. belief in the veracity of our own value system along with a struggle for establishing its dominance may 12 . not an intellectual approach. which too. (24) Dr. nor can the Islamists benefit from that in any manner. Manzur Ahmad Former Vice Chancellor Karachi University and currently the Rector of the International Islamic University. sorcery. (25) 2. in fact.natural sciences. one may endeavor for the Islamization of values and of the self. Besides. . however.

Similarly. what would be the basic guidelines for doing job?. For instance. ‘Ummah Studies’ (History and Geography of Muslim people. but no more suitable in today’s industrialized and global society. Faruqi’s answers to these queries with the difference that we have also proposed Islamization of Education along with the Islamization of knowledge because the educational process alone provide the practical and institutional set up required for the reconstruction of both thought and knowledge. Science and Technology. and not a mere Islamization of modern social sciences. past and present) and ‘Tazkiya-o-Tarbiya (science of personality 13 . a number of questions arise in our mind such as: what is the true nature of the task?. not merely the modern social sciences. any religious value system can’t become compatible with the prevailing moral sensitivities while pressing for the social conditions. There is a vast difference between the two. (27) 4. what methodology should be followed . We have to keep in mind that the Muslim value system requires deeper understanding and restructuring today. In the modern times. the Muslim intellectuals with reference to Muslim epistemology is the ‘Reproduction’ of knowledge (provided this term is correct) and its reconstruction or recasting in a creative manner in the light of Muslim worldview. We would explain our view point in the light of Dr. The goal in the former is the reconstruction of the entire knowledge. All attempts for Islamization of knowledge so far have been a failure in the sense that these have only added to the moral degradation of the Muslims instead of cutting it down. Theoretical Aspect Nature of the job From our point of view. possible and tenable one thousand years ago. Muslim religious studies today must include a comprehensive study of concepts and terminology in Islamic and the Western Thought.a methodology that would be both effective and fruitful. the task before. including religious studies. (28) The Writer’s Viewpoint As we consider the reconstruction of knowledge and education in the Islamic perspective and the contemporary needs. it is imperative to introduce new disciplines such as ‘Muslim Civilization’.lead to confrontation. First.

Then we revert to other thinkers and authors and dig out their observations and writing on the topic.development in Islam). For instance. This reconstruction would involve reshaping of a certain discipline of a social sciences from the view point of Islamic epistemology based on the Islamic worldview. these should be assimilated within the framework of Muslim epistemological domain and accepted as knowledge beneficial for the contemporary Muslim society. a new dimension or something that has not been incorporated in our article. the Physical Sciences. Even in the case of Social sciences. we may add that: the wisdom behind this is that living beings may survive even below the top surface of the lakes and the seas. then this academic development should be critically analyzed and those of its ingredients as are healthy and compatible with the Muslim epistemological. observation and assumptions. should be accepted. In the field of Technology. besides taking into account the requirements of the modern times. a Textile Engineer brought up with an Islamic outlook would not design thin clothing through which body is visible. in Mathematics. we first write down our own view point based on our studies. and a painter with a Muslim mentality would not paint nude pictures. This would required us to keep in view the past Muslim heritage especially the Muslim dominance in the world. in the field of science. Similarly. It we find in their writings some new idea. With that. we do not hesitate in benefiting from that after gibing reference to those authors. It is necessary to provide answer to various misconceptions and questions being raised by the Western intellectual about Islam. the statement “Water has the characteristic to expand when it converts to ice when temperature falls” may be reshaped as “Allah has gifted water with the quality to expand when it coverts to ice as temperature falls”. yet the style of their presentation and expression needs to be reviewed. Again. Likewise.Contents and methodology of teaching Arabic in nonArab Muslim countries needs to be revised. Second. the impact of Western thought and civilization on the Muslim society also needs to be studied from an analytical and critical angle. and so on. though primarily based on observation and experience. When we intend to write on a certain topic. This last segment would entail that if a particular discipline has shown development in an epistemology and worldview other than Islam. and the numerous legal and ideological issues cropping up in result thereof should be discussed in depth. we may include questions on Zakat instead of bank interest. ‘Islamization of the modern concepts’ would only form a part of a large scheme of reconstruction of social sciences. In this 14 . Subsequently. We follow the above methodology in our personal life and have found it practical and useful.

There is no sense in affirming faith in One God without refuting all false gods. but since the Western thought and the Western philosophy rarely come under discussion in our society. resulting in distortion and destruction of the Muslim personality. Therefore. for the development of a personality in a Muslim society. advancement made in a particular field in the past. we should critically analyze the development made by other nations / civilizations in that particular branch of knowledge and then we can decide whether or not to accept something out of that which does not contradict our worldview. epistemology and major themes developed by us in that particular branch of knowledge. Consequently. we should reconstruct various disciplines of knowledge in the light of Islamic thought. Basic Principles Three basic principles should remain before us during the reconstruction of knowledge in the Islamic perspective: 1. the Western epistemology is totally opposed to the Islamic epistemology. we would try to give a comparative study of the both below: 15 . First. One the same premise. The same approach needs to be adopted in the reconstruction of knowledge in Islamic perspective today. our own view point remains dominant in our works though we do benefit others. The Objective The primary objective of knowledge and education is to develop a personality in accordance with the worldview of a society.exercise. this should have been our first point because while entering the fold of Islam. This is a basic principle. Next. while reconstructing knowledge in the light of the Islamic worldview. 2. but also reject and negate it because the Western Worldview is not only different from the Islamic worldview. but in fact it is contradictory to that. Rejection of Western Thought and Civilization In principle. we should not only discard the knowledge based on Western worldview. we first deny all deities and then proclaim our faith in One God or Allah. Similarly. the requirements of the modern times and the homogenous conditions etc. Any compromise or relaxation of this principle is bound to cause mental disharmony and ideological confusion. it is inevitable that its knowledge and education system are based on the Islamic Worldview and Islamic epistemology. the Western knowledge can neither fit in ideological and cultural framework of Muslim society nor can beneficial to it.

unconditionally. 16 . and He is Living. None else is worthy of worship and obedience. Concept of human beings Human beings are humble servants of their Human beings are sovereign and fully Lord who submit to his commandments independent to lead their lives they wish. Goal of Life 4. to earn Allah’s pleasure in the Hereafter. Source The Western Worldview 1. All Powerful and possesses all Authority. 3. The worldly life is an end in itself and is to be given priority over every thing else. economic systems.The Islamic Worldview 1. having nothing to do with the collective life (such as political. messenger. 5. through His apostles. 4. Concept of Deity Mankind has been created by Allah who alone is the Lord. 5. etc). Concept of the Universe Allah is the sole Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and He has vested mankind with limited authority to manipulate in the universe. 2. Concept of the Universe The Universe is the outcome of the natural laws which also regulate its existence. at any cost and in any injunctions on the model set by Allah’s manner in this world. the Sustainer of all creation. Concept of Deity Faith in God is an entirely personal affair for an individual. Human beings enjoy full freedom on the earth and are free to lead their lives in accordance with their sweet will. social. Goal of Life A human being is required to lead his life in Attainment of every success and maximum this world in obedience of the divine worldly pleasure. Sources The divine guidance provided by Allah Human intellect and senses. Concept of human being 2. The life in the Hereafter has priority over the life in this world. 3. Every individual is at liberty to line in the way he likes.

etc. Engineering. 3. Psychology. Sources of knowledge Western Epistemology 1. Objectives of Knowledge 2. to prepare and motivate attainment of maximum pleasures. individuals for worship and obedience of Allah in the worldly life for earning His pleasure in the Hereafter.The revealed knowledge (The Quran and the Sunnah). 2. Branches of Knowledge 3.Disciplines of knowledge mainly based on human intellect and senses (observation and experience) such as Medicine. etc. .Disciplines of knowledge that are based on divine revelation as well as human intellect and senses. for instance. 4. Objectives of Knowledge To know and truly understand the Lord Success in the worldly life and the and the Self. and its implementation. . .Natural / Physical / Hard Sciences . 4.Arts and Humanities . Branches of Knowledge . Purpose of Education a) Various disciplines of worldly knowledge such as: . Purpose of Education To develop personality of individuals Rearing up a human being as a in a way that they become faithful completely free and independent being 17 . sources of knowledge Primary: Divine revelation (The Holy Primary: Human intellect and senses Quran and the Sunnah) (Observation and Experience). such as Economics. role of human intellect and senses.Knowledge related to revelation. Politics. This is a purely personal affair of a human beings and has nothing to do with the collective life.Social Sciences . Secondary: A limited and subordinate Secondary: A cursory role of religion. Agriculture.Technology b) Religious knowledge.The above mentioned differences between the Islamic worldview and the Western worldview naturally lead to opposite and contradictory epistemologies as shown below: Islamic Epistemology 1. Arabic language and Muslim jurisprudence.

after a careful analysis. is neither practicable nor wise. No civilization can survive or progress in isolation. In other words. partly benefit from the knowledge alien to its worldview but it can neither absorb/assimilate that knowledge. Therefore. of achieving success and The comparative study above makes it crystal clear that the Western worldview and the Western epistemology are no only different but totally opposed to the Islamic worldview and Islamic epistemology. The main arguments of this group are (29): 1That the real force behind the rapid development of the West is its advancement in knowledge. therefore. It exploits this knowledge for its benefit and also develops it. and would only makes us a laughing stock. they should consciously reject the Western knowledge and find out their way in an Islamic perspective. yet some Muslim intellectuals differ with this approach. 2The development of knowledge is a continuous process. the process of human development goes on unhindered. On the other hand. Every civilization is the custodian of the knowledge acquired by its predecessor. the idea of the Muslims rejecting the Western knowledge and trying to build up on the basis of the knowledge in the Middle Ages. in order to achieve worldly progress. in the course of reconstruction of the knowledge. It neither knows any limits nor is it the property of someone. (sovereign) capable maximum worldly pleasure. In this way. nor promote it in its totality. the Muslim can’t afford to blindly copy the Western disciplines of knowledge. knowledge is a collective property of mankind and the Muslims too should benefit from the Western knowledge and also contribute to its advancement. A civilization may. the Muslims must acquire Western knowledge.servants of Allah. Eradication of a Misconception Although we have explained in detail our views for rejecting the Western knowledge in the course of reconstruction of Islamic lines. we may submit that every civilization has its roots in a particular worldview and it develops knowledge which is in harmony with its worldview. This careful and limited utilization of other knowledge may involve digesting the relevant knowledge content after 18 . Therefore. and we think there is no harm in examining their view point as well. In reply to these arguments.

Further. The Muslims had adopted this process in the case of the Greek knowledge. for instance. at that time. However. and its ideology was powerful enough to swallow some foreign body.bringing it in harmony with its own epistemology. if they try to absorb the Western knowledge in its original form. Turkey. it would be wrong to believe that as political. the conditions at present are totally different. the Muslim civilization was at its peak. In fact. if Muslims adopt a body of knowledge based on Western worldview and epistemology. they would further go down in the quagmire of decline and degradation. and not Taqleed or blind following. knowledge and education pave way for progress only when these are in harmony with the worldview of the society. has been copying the West for the last seventy years or so. It is. (The Holy Quran furnishes a simile of the cattle swallowing green fodder and supplying human beings with white milk (30). In our opinion. and thus deprived of original thinking and high morals. they already suffer from this malady. Muslims too should focus to seek that knowledge. We may recall that our predecessors ruled major part of the world for about on thousand years without even being familiar with the Western knowledge. The Muslims themselves are cut off from their own worldview.e creative thinking and intellectual sovereignty. giving it a shape and color of its own. and an entirely new look acceptable to its own body of knowledge. they may benefit from the advance Western knowledge within certain limits. Similarly. The minds and hearts of the Muslims have been conquered by a powerful. economic and scientific progress of the West is because of their advancement in knowledge. We believe that if Europe and America today start following a body of knowledge which is based on an alien worldview and epistemology. not dominating. with little again. Having accepted the principle that they have to work within the Islamic worldview and the Islamic epistemology and should consciously reject the conflicting Western worldview and the Western epistemology. they would only reproduce its copy. they would face a decline. It is sunk in the mire of decline. as explained above. therefore. theirs was 19 . Therefore. wrong to presume that by attaining the Western knowledge alone. colonial civilization having an alien worldview. However. the Muslims can march on the path of progress. and undoubtedly. digest the same and reproduce it in a new form and shape. This blind plunge them into confusion leading to destruction of their personality and identity. They need not be browbeaten by the dominant Western thought and civilization but should stick to their own roots. What the Muslims need under these circumstances today is Ijtehad i. The Muslim civilization is oppressed. therefore.

This in because the powerful Western colonialism which had been compelled to grant limited independence to the Muslim states during the twentieth century is ruthlessly against the complete independence of the Muslim states and is conspiring to capture the Muslim states once again. but he had ideological leaning with certain groups having political agenda. is somewhat political in nature yet any such project working on non-political basis had greater chances of success as against the one having open political affiliations. and the people engaged in this exercise should have no links with any political group or party. First Phase: The Worldview This will have three dimensions: 1. And this was long before 9/11 that made the Muslims a symbol of terrorism. suggest that the task of reconstruction of knowledge on Islamic lines should be undertaken purely on non-political basis.the best and the most advanced civilization of their time. we may now discuss the mechanism to achieve the goal. the world power that claims to be the biggest champion of liberty and intellectual freedom. degradation and humility. and this had happened in the USA. We have dealt with this issue in detail in our other writings (31) 3Reconstruction of knowledge must be a Non-Political Agenda We would however. Faruqi was an academician and a non-political figure. Accordingly. No doubt any plan for the intellectual and educational emancipation of the Muslim Ummah and the consequent banishment of the menaces of poverty. In our humble opinion. and is getting positive results. which is working in the field of education on non-political basis and has set up several universities and hundreds of schools in Turkey and other countries. there is no harm in exercising caution. The Procedure Having explained the main features of the task and the basic guidelines for doing the job. No doubt Dr. After Afghanistan and Iraq. The Western Worldview 20 . some “dacoits” may barge into his house and remove him from the scene. some “dacoits” stormed his house one night and put him to death along with his wife. there is every likelihood that if some other Muslim enthusiast ventures to tread this path and tries to break the status quo and bring about a qualitative change. even couple of them in USA. Iran and Pakistan seem to be their next target. Therefore. It would be better if we look at the realities in their true perspective. The Naurasi Movement in Turkey is an example in this respect. the task may be undertaken in four phases. So.

** Analytical study of the Islamic epistemology with its strong points.A Comparative study of the Islamic and Western epistemology. This should include: . materialism. Secularism. 2. highlighting its practicability and superiority over the Western worldview. . Modernism etc.Study of the basic concepts of every discipline of knowledge having its roots in the Western Worldview and the Western epistemology.An analytical study of the Western worldview. the philosophy. . and its superiority over the Western Epistemology. purpose of knowledge. This world require a detailed discussion on Western philosophy. . branches of knowledge etc. along with their theme. principles and intellectual basis on which the edifice of Western thought and civilization stands.) beside different isms such as Humanism. 21 . Reformation. Third Phase: Disciplines of knowledge-preliminary study This would also be a three phased project.Studying the Islamic epistemology and its prominent features in the light of Islamic worldview.Study of the Western epistemology: prominent features of the concept of knowledge emerging from the Western worldview such as sources of knowledge. on the pattern narrated above: . Empiricism etc. A detailed study of the Islamic worldview and its institutions. ideological movements (such as Renaissance. This should comprise: * An analytical study of the Western epistemology and its weaknesses. A comparative study of Western and Islamic worldview. 3. values and institutions.An analysis of the Islamic worldview. highlighting its weak points and shortcomings.We must understand the Western worldview. Enlightenment. Second Phase: Epistemology Three dimensional exercise (as outlined in the Fist Phase) focusing on the following points: .

and the whole effort would have to be linked with quality training and creative research. Along with that. the Western concept of religion along with the Islamic concept of Deen etc. 22 . both in individual and collective life. sex and local conditions etc. Rather. It is hoped that the Reconstruction of Knowledge on the lines suggested above would meet the requirements of Islamic renaissance and challenges of the modern age.A Comparative study of the convergent disciplines of knowledge of both the Western economics and Islamic economics. it is not only more practicable. It will provide the basis for a truly Islamic education system required to build a model Muslim personality capable of discharging its responsibilities. it would be easy to build a comprehensive and grand structure of knowledge on the intellectual and practical foundations in the Islamic perspective. it won’t be difficult to prepare a course of Study for each discipline. but also guarantees better and more effective results as against the solutions given by the Western disciplines. besides achieving real success in this world and in the Hereafter. its would also be better to examine the need. At this stage. . would have to be taken care of as the common sense demands. values and institutions of all the disciplines of knowledge having roots in the Islamic worldview and the Islamic epistemology. to redesign and reorganize its relevant ingredients of making them acceptable to the body of Islam knowledge.Highlighting the basic theme. especially with reference to its advancement in the past with concrete suggestions for its future development to meet the requirements of the modern era. the differences of age. ** An analytical study of every discipline of Islamic knowledge.. scope and possibilities of benefiting from the convergent discipline of the Western knowledge. a categorical admission and indication of the fact that the Islamic knowledge provides better solutions to human problems as compared to the Western knowledge and education. However. Fourth Phase: Preparing Courses of Study for various Disciplines Once a serious and systematic effort is made on the three phases mentioned above. This will have two parts: *An analytical and critical study of every discipline of Western knowledge highlighting its weaknesses and shortcomings.

The impact of the Western civilization on the Muslim society. -A comparative study of the Western thought and its basic concepts.Principles of personality development in the light of Islamic worldview and the Islamic epistemology. its basic concepts.Study of the ideological foundation of the Western civilization. The following may be the salient features of this discipline: . . terminology and institutions. with that of Islamic thought. The Ummah Studies 23 . A new and regular discipline should be introduced for tarbiya of the students and the teachers on Islamic lines and in a coordinated manner.An analysis of Orientalism (West’s study of Islam and the Muslim world). Tazkiya-o-Tarbiya (Sciences of Personality Development) Traditionally. certain books were also prescribed for this purpose. Tekkes) for development and rehabilitation of personality of the grown ups. the following four new disciplines of knowledge are urgently required bedsides the reconstruction of the whole body of knowledge: 1. . In some religious schools and khanqahs.Normative personality. terminology and institutions. they would never realize the need for new disciplines of knowledge in their education system. Keeping in view the requirement of the Muslim society in present era.Need for New Disciplines of Knowledge We believe that if the Muslim continue blind following of the Western knowledge contradictory to Islam. Occidental Studies This new discipline of knowledge should consist of the following major themes: . there were Madrasas for education the children and khanqahs (Zawiya. . 2. normal personality and rehabilitation of a damaged personality in Islam and the Western approach in these spheres. 3.An analysis of the policies and the strategy of the West in regard to Islam and the Muslim world: . in the Muslim world.

Aqidah. as they might not be able to think beyond those. its glorious past and its history & the geography. This should include its ideological foundations. Fiqh. The Muslim Civilization The traditional Islamic disciplines being taught in our educational institutions include the Holy Quran. besides bright chances to its renaissance since its primary sources are intact. It is high time that the Muslims also start studying their civilization. so they would have to be produced and their minds built on correct lines through proper mental. The important features of this planning should be: Training of Workforce Successful implementation of this plan requires personnel having a truly Islamic mindset. 4. comparative study with other civilizations. influence on the world at large. Training of mind will make the trainees understand the nature and the importance of the task so that they work with dedication and conviction. This job can’t be entrusted to all and sundry or the people brought up and educated under the Western worldview and the Western epistemology.The conspiracies of the Western imperialism during the last two hundred years have greatly damaged the concept of Ummah in Muslims. All these topics put together in the right perspective and proper order. Ideological training would equip them with independence of thought for carrying out the task without any influence of the Western thought currently dominating the world. It is just possible that the manpower suitable for this task may not be available in the society. It is now necessary that the new generation of the Muslims is informed of the concept of the Ummah. along with the possible solutions.Kkalam etc. institutions and prominent personalities. its history. cultural expressions. The Work Plan The reconstruction of knowledge on these lines should be carried out in a well planned manner. would prove highly useful no only for the Muslims but also thought provoking for other nations/civilizations. The youth should also be educated about the realities and challenges of the modern age and the problems facing the Muslim Ummah (especially the disunity). because the Western worldview and the Western epistemology are contradictory to the Islamic 24 . Hadith. ideological and practical training.

training. the proposed university would require regular availability of good and capable students. The practical training is required for doing the job in a highly professional manner. Dr. 25 . will not yield positive results unless a new role-model educational institution is established to serve as a beacon of light. However. the output could have been small. text books. whose curriculum. In our humble view. impressive monographs and organized workshops & seminars on the topic of reconstruction of existing knowledge and education. Plainly speaking. in Islamic perspective. (32). However. Faruqi and his friends could have done much better by establishing a university in the private sector. if some one wants to take up the job. students’ tarbiya activities all take place at school level also and provide a complete chain form bottom to top (from grade-1 to Ph. teachers. yet it would have yielded permanent and far reaching results. Creating a Role-Model Academic planning. No doubt. without depending on the governments. introduction of Islamically designed integrated curriculum. Faruqi (and hid colleagues) thought that task of reconstruction of knowledge should be undertaken by the Muslim governments in view of the wide scope of activities involved and heavy finances required for the project. Even today. our national institutions and the Muslim governments are not tailored to support the Islamic agenda and thought. are supervised by the proposed university. Establishment of such a role-model institution requires creative research and academic autonomy which are only available at university level. Further. Such a chain of educational institutions would not only ensure bright future of the proposed university but would also change educational scenario of the country as a whole. Establishment of a University in Private Sector Dr. examinations. This necessitates a next work of affiliated schools. in that case. tarbiya activities etc. this very factor proved to be counter productive.worldview and the Islamic epistemology. establishment of a university in private sector is a must. a university alone may not suffice and a model school (Primary to Secondary) would also be required so that the process of elimination of dichotomy. D) and gives desired results. The ideological gap between the Muslim rulers and the Islam loving masses and religious circles is a bitter reality that can’t be ignored. colleges and Madrasas. theoretical framework.

The core theme of an Islamic oriented teacher training center should be “Be good Muslims yourselves and make students good Muslims”. We surveyed and analyzed knowledge working of many Islamic-oriented educational institutions in the country from this viewpoint and came to know that in spite of best intentions.Along with that. We are not aware of any training center in the country which follows this theme. Therefore.D and having teaching experience from Western would lack the flexibility to adopt a new approach after having reached the height of their profession and would not be beneficial for this scheme. the rules and regulations farmed by the learned mentors of the institution are Islamic and based on 26 . all education must be based on the Holy Quran and wisdom leading to development of personality and building of character on these two principles. most of these failed simply because their managements tried the teachers already available in the market. According to the Holy Quran. knowledge and education are the means of personality development and character building (Tazkiya) (33). Hence the need for teachers training for the proposed model educational institution (from school to university) and its affiliated schools and colleges both before induction and on-the job is absolutely inevitable. Unfortunately. As against this. those few institutions were comparatively successful which recruited fresh talented graduates and trained them according to their needs. due to general decline of the Muslim Ummah. and some alien customs and rites have crept into that. in spite of their ‘quality’ and ‘professionalism’. Islamic history speaks of a broad net work of khanqas and Zawiyas for development and rehabilitation of personality of Muslim individuals. specially designed tarbiya activities for teachers and the students would be necessary to make this educational model a success and result oriented. that institution has also been deteriorated. Even the best education courses designed in Islamic perspective are doomed to fail without good teachers. Students’ Tarbiyah The ultimate goal of the Islamization of knowledge and education cannot be but to produce a personality desired by the society according to its worldview. At present good teachers groomed on true Islamic lines are a scarce commodity and the general lot is West oriented. We happened to know that an International Islamic University gives preference to the teachers possessing Ph. We have some suggestions in this regard which are given below: Teachers Training The teachers play the key role in the success (and failure) of any educational scheme. Nevertheless. liked all other institutions.

it should hold regular weekly meetings to ensure the implementation of the program. prudence and practical experience. As such the entire planning should be done keeping this goal in view which requires that the education system of the entire Ummah should be revised and changed. The ultimate goal of education should be the build up a child as a good Muslim in every respect. But at the level of Muslim society. Work to be done at Ummah Level It should be noted that the goal of reconstruction of knowledge and education at individual level is to enable a Muslim to obey his Lord in this world to seek His pleasure in the Hereafter. This person should be well familiar with the principles of human psychology (or can be assisted by an Islamic-oriented professional psychologist) besides being acquainted with the Islamic teachings / tradition of character building so that he can bring up the students as a balanced personality. The first step in this direction would no doubt be the setting up of a model educational institution (from school up to university level ) in any Muslim country along with all out efforts for reconstruction of knowledge and education in Islamic perspective land then to introduce the system gradually in the Muslim countries. Then. it should contact the parents and make special efforts for reformation and moral rehabilitation of the child (34). Student’s tarbiya being the ultimate goal of all educational activities requires multi dimensional efforts. Similarly. Each educational institution should have a tarbiya net work headed by the Director / Principal / a suitable senior teacher. a suitable student should act as Deputy of the Teachers In charge of tarbiya. In case the team feels problems in the tarbiya of a student. These can be implemented in educational environment for Tazkiya of students with necessary modifications. it should be the main objective of teachers training and it should get due importance in the text books. the educational management should be trained on these lines and a system should be devised to evaluate tarbiya like evaluation of other teaching disciplines. This tarbiya Team should hold meetings before the commencement of the academic year and chalk out a detailed tarbiya program for the next year.wisdom. We are sure that if this project is 27 . in every class. The proposed tarbiya network should have a teacher as tarbiya In charge or mentor for each class (although from the Islamic point of view. every teachers should be a mentor). In fact tarbiya should be the main criteria of the success or failure of the students for promotion to next grade. Later. it should work as a source and tool of renaissance of the Ummah by steering it out of the present degradation. This goal must be reflected in the curriculum.

Ghulam Mustafa Khan. Instead. it would yield good results. and in the words of renowned researcher and Sufi Prof. The sooner it is done. The last Word Eliminating the influence of Western thought civilization on knowledge and education in the Muslim societies and its reconstruction in accordance with Islamic teachings is indeed an uphill task. 28 . the entire Ummah should pool its resources. only Imam Mehdi can accomplish it (35). Dr. both intellectual and material.floated with a non-political agenda in the private sector. and embark on the project. the better it would be. giving it top priority. However. We believe that the job is of immediate nature and we shouldn’t wait for Imam Mehdi for that.

Encounter of Man and Nature. Washington. (The Encyclopedia of Education. P-146. Fazlur.. in this “Islamic Futures”.. London. Al-Attas Muhammad Naquib. Rahman. P-130. Ibid. International Institute of Islamic Thought. 1835 on Indian Education..147 10. P-1137 11. Lahore. see for example: Rosenthal. 1982. Nasr. Islam. Hossein S. primarily based on Ziauddin Sardar’s “Rediscovering the Epistemology of Islam.9. Islam and Modernity. 14. 5.8.. Ibid. see Urdu Encyclopedia of Islam. Lahore. Allen and Unwin. 128. 1968 6. June-Sep 2006. Al-Faruqi. Ibid. Crowell-Collier Education Corporation USA.. 4:570. Ibid. Mansell London. P-141. 9. 2. For details. 8. P. P-134 12. 1976 4. P-30. P-46. 1971.. Ibid. Dr. Islamization of Knowledge-General Principles and work plan. Ibid. 1977 3. Even non-Muslim scholars confess that. 13:42.139 13. knowledge Triumph”. Dr. Secularism and the Philosophy of Future. P-38 29 .. Ismail Raji.References 1. 1982. P-180-200. This is an expanded and revised English version of our Urdu article published in Quarterly Taleemi Zawiyay. 7. Brill Lei den. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press. Punjab University. P-127. 1985. Lord Macaulay’s historic report of February 2.

96 17.15.. Ibid. Islamic Futures. P-41 16. Ziauddin. Ibid. Sardar.. P-95. P-100 30 .