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A Teachers' contextualization of the relationship between Knowledge and

faith in the life and works of Said Nursi and the process of using them to
give meaning and purpose to Man's life.

A paper presented by Prof Yusuf Morales


As every paper has its purpose, this paper aims to discuss in details of how Knowledge
and faith can give meaning, purpose and guidance to a persons life.

The paper discusses the merits, the elements and the essentials in the path of a
believer, it looks from the perspective of a believer in the scales of both knowledge and
wisdom, in the sense, drawing from the Quran, the Sunnah of the Prophet as elucidated in
the life and works of Said Nursi.

The paper realizes that this is not discuss the totality of answers in replying to the
question as to how one renders more purpose and meaning to life by the applicatio of faith
and knowledge but instead realizes that this paper is a mere introductory study into its

One can see that in the light of Modernity and seculatization of the global world, where
ethical and moral values has long gone and had withered, the essential fear that one day, the
world when it has fully bowed down to modernity, secularization and globalization, in the
light of the modern world would lose the morality and the ascendancy to guide people to do
what is right and good.

It also deals with the issues of Islamization and looks at it from a systems approach:
INTEGRATION of faith and learning as a way of improving the quality and purpose of life.

And as such, this paper hopes to show a faint reflection from the treasure trove of the
life,light and works of Said Nursi the answer to using faith and knowledge to give meaning

and purpose to ones life.


Verily man has been created to be the Khalifa of Allah on Earth and has
endowed him with intellectual and creative faculties in order to implement his
wisdom and be his servant. One would be then led to ask, How does one lead to
the understanding the meaning of The Relationship of Knowledge and faith, and
Their Rendering of Existence Meaningful.

As an answer to this, I believe let us find inspiration in the light of the life
and works of Said Nursi, one of the great thinkers and revivers of Islam in today's
world. Allow me to rephrase some words and contextualize them from his writings
and sayings so that we find light and inspiration.

Allow me to mention several famous Ahadith of the Prophet that says, “As
the level of knowledge of a Man increases, his search for for light and faith also
increases .”

The life of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi is a unique example whose service

to the Qur'an and belief this century is indeed one of the shining mementos of
this period.

It is these intellectual heirlooms that he has passed on to his students, to

the Islamic world and to the world as a whole makes it a noble endeavour to seek
and dive into the depths of his works.

Being new to his style of writing and thought, allow me to rephrase and
regurgitate these ideals and concepts and slowly pour into the receptacle of
thought passing through the funnel of my pen so that I may share unto you his
thoughts as I understand it.

“As ones faith increases in relation to ones knowledge, ones certainty and
humility also increases towards his Lord”.

And as such, these sayings of the Prophet has always been manifested in
Said Nursi's writings reflective of the light of knowledge in the treatise of light as
seen in his life,writings, and students.

To determine the relationship between knowledge and faith, we first have to

have a clear conception of what these two concepts mean most especially to the

In simple terms knowledge means "information about something divine or


Knowledge is also defined by the Oxford English Dictionary variously as:

• Expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education;

the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

• What is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information or

• Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

Philosophical debates in general start with Plato's formulation of knowledge
as "justified true belief". There is however no single agreed definition of
knowledge presently, or any prospect of one, and there remain numerous
competing theories.

For the Muslim, knowledge is very crucial to his faith, for Islam emphasizes
the importance of knowledge by the fact that the Islamic revelation started with
the word Iqra' (which means read! Or Recite!).

And the several numbers of times the word 'Ilm' has been mentioned in the
Holy Quran is a manifest of how knowledge and education is important in one's
faith. For the word ilm goes beyond its simple interpretation as "knowledge". It is
an all embracing term covering theory, action, and education.

Knowledge comes under question when the Islamic conception and

interpretations of the world which are the basis of faith are not acceptable,
because it is contrary to rational or scientific principles.

What one must ask is, whether there exist any conception of the world and
interpretation of life which is rational and at the same time fit to be the
infrastructure or building blocks of a particular faith.
I believe obviously not, certainly not the Charles Darwin "Theory of evolution" or
other scientific theory of existence.

The most important angle of this discourse is to see how both knowledge
and faith affect man. You see where knowledge gives man light and power, faith
gives us love, hope, and warmth.

"Seek knowledge even in China". This Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad
(s.l.a.w.s.) shows His eagerness and openness to knowledge no matter who are
the "owners" of this knowledge or the effort required to acquire it. He who
received the Revelation urged His own people in many Hadiths and Qur’anic
verses to devote themselves to the scientific knowledge of the Earth, the living
beings and the heavens as well as knowledge of other cultures. As it is revealed,
investigating the many fields of knowledge is the only way to reading the Signs
(Ayat) of God.

In a sense, Islam embraces all the cultures and ethnic groups as a “meta-
culture” and a “meta-community”, united in their diversity within a common faith
and a common eagerness for knowledge. Paradoxically, Islamic civilisation did not
particularly prosper in its birth place, instead it has blossomed when Muslims
moved to other lands and merged with other cultures and civilisations: i.e. along
the Silk Road, North Africa and southern Europe, especially Andalusia. On the
other hand, the reader of the Qur’an can only be surprised by the many
references to the universe, the heavens and the sun as "signs to those who know"
. The rise of Islam was also the rise of Science and Culture – particularly
Astronomy which reached a state of the art in terms of accurate observations,
mathematical developments and instrumentation. One can only admire the web
of astronomers and mathematicians from Baghdad, along the Silk Road, to China
and India: scholars driven by the "eagerness" for technical and mystical approach
to knowledge. The Prophet Muhammad Himself travelled along the Silk Road.

When they followed the spirit of the Qur’an and the teaching of the Prophet
Muhammad, Muslim scholars revivified the Greek legacy, they embraced
and added their own touch to the Persian civilization as well as Indian and
Chinese cultures and technologies, diluting themselves in the reality they
encountered. Unfortunately crossing swords for the sake of power and

fanatic belief in religious values damaged the Islamic civilization from
outside (during the crusades and the Tatars invasion) and from inside
(fratricide wars or hurub at-tawa’if) .

Resistance to knowledge and scientific investigation emerged within Muslim

groups well before Muslims developed catharsis and resistance to the
"modern western" world as a reaction to the crusades and the many
colonial aggressions. Securing political power by the rulers meant
prohibiting philosophical and scientific investigations. However History has
its own subconscious: as a result of the crusades and expulsion from
Andalusia, Muslim rejection and resistance to Christianity is now associated
with resistance to science and freedom of thought – assumed to be values
of the "enemy" – although they are still "Signs of God for those who know".

This is shown nowadays in the difficulty that the Muslim community has to
be involved in international research programs in Astronomy for instance
(and Science in general) and its resistance to adopt standard international
criteria even for the observation of the moon for religious purpose. The
question that one might ask is how can a wounded civilization emerge from
its wounds and recover its glory in (re)contributing to human knowledge?
Recovering its golden role in developing astronomy at the international
standard might be part of the process of healing the wounded subconscious
of the Muslim community and to restore the damage done to the Islamic
values in the name of a belief of which Islam is innocent. Pseudo scientist
Muslims and theologians alike who are trying to glorify the Qur’an by
making it “the Book of All Sciences” and by developing naive and simplistic
emotional views on the Universe (to compete with modern views) are
digging the tomb of the Islamic civilization and throwing dark veils between
Islam and scientific progress in one hand and Islam and other religions in
the other hand.

Science and the Qur’an:

Study of the different religions, whether monotheist or not, shows that
every religion has its own cosmogony or representation of the universe on
which its transcendent relation to God and nature is based.

In the Old Testament, for instance, the chapter of Genesis defines for once
the world-view of the Christian cosmogony (whether proven right or wrong
by modern science) which has been central not only to the life of the
church through centuries but it was certainly at the base of scientific
methods and representations developed by the modern Christian world,
admittedly or not.

There is no such a specific chapter in the Qur’an but the reader can see
that the Muslim cosmogony is referred to here and there in many Surats
and that it is at the core of the relationship of the believer to God - "The
God of the heavens and the Earth" and “The God of those who are in the
heavens and those who are on Earth”. All the detailed descriptions of the
origin of the universe, its fate and its content are given as "Signs to people
of knowledge and faith" to read the work of God and His power and to
testify for His Creation.

Cosmogony in Islam is not only an attempt to describe the universe, it is

also central to human knowledge. it is the path along which an individual
develops his/her consciousness as being in the world, awareness of the
complexity of the Creation, as well as his/her consciousness in contributing
in human progress: the universe is the ‘place’ where one witnesses the
work of God. The privilege of being "witness" in this world goes through the
capacity of being able to investigate the laws of nature and to reveal the
hidden complexity of the manifested phenomena, not only through
contemplation and prayers .

This is a very special feature of Islam and I think that it is at the basis of
the development of Astronomy at the rise of Islam and during all the

centuries of its golden era: the rise of modern Astronomy is not a simple
revival of Greek or Indian Astronomy by Muslim scholars, but it is bodily
connected to the spiritual inspiration that accompanied the rise of Islam.
The Qor’an does not provide recipes of physical laws or mathematical
solutions, but instead it inspires those who are open to its appeal to
experience the process of contemplation / meditation / philosophical
argumentation / technical measurement / mathematical proof / calculus /
prediction / metaphysical speculation.

For instance the canon texts fix the number and the nature of the prayers,
but they do not tell one how to compute technically the times of the
prayers during the day and over the year. They also say that the motions of
the planets, the moon and the stars are determined with exactitude, but
they do not provide the law behind these motions nor how to compute
them. However it is up to "those who know" to discover these laws and to
develop the methods of how to compute them, as part of the process of
honouring His power and the gift He gave us to witness His power.

Muslims honoured the revealed message when they followed this line of
inspiration and put into practice the transcendental dimension of
knowledge. They were the symbol of a mystical state of being expressing
itself through the empirical cognitive process of scientific knowledge.

Where knowledge helps us make implements and appliances and

accelerates progress, faith helps us to determine the purpose of our efforts and
gives direction to them, while knowledge makes the world a man's world; Faith
makes life the life of humanity. As knowledge truly trains man's temperament,
faith reforms man. Knowledge beautifies reason and thought, while faith
beautifies spirit and feelings. Knowledge harmonizes the world with man and faith
harmonizes man with himself.

It is clear enough how man needs both knowledge and faith for with the
absence of one the result is bound to be catastrophic, as it is always evident in
our modern world how education/knowledge alone does not produce a full fledged
man, scientific training can produce only a unilateral and healthy man and not a
virtuous and multi lateral being.

It is essential that faith and knowledge complement each another. For

absence of faith in knowledge evidently brings about its lack in human aims and
goals. Take a look at Spencer's theory on education for example giving a
definition of education as "bringing man in harmony with his environment".
Clearly enough knowledge makes us familiar with nature, reveals the laws of
nature to us and makes us aware of ourselves. But we must also acknowledge
that an "education that is entirely scientific and materialist can produce nothing
but tools and modern mechanics. It alienates man from beauty and estranges him
form wisdom."1

Faith elevates our desires in addition to helping us in realizing our aims and
objectives, it relieve us from our desires and ideals and puts them on the basis of
love and ethics.

If we take this into consideration in our personal lives we would realize that
faith endeavors to perfect society, free of social and economic inequality, to
prevent self aggrandizement, and amassing wealth and satisfying the lust of
power and wealth, domination of one group over another.

For every individual with both knowledge and faith will consider these vices
and avoid them for it is the combination of knowledge and faith that opens us to
1 Pleasures of Philosophy, P.P 168, 169, New York 1953

humanity and prevent us from individualism. Where they are absent the result is
capitalism, Domination of one group over another.

Although knowledge and faith supplement each other, one cannot exist
without the other. One important point of discourse is the fact that faith should be
identified in the light of knowledge. This saves it from being mixed with myth or
prevents it from being contaminated. That is why Allah (SWT) tells "Tarifuu nii
kabla antaa buduunii" that is know me before you worship me. So the logic is
this: if you don’t know what your faith is all about you tend to miss the reason for
your worship.

People may be misguided from both those on the outside and the inside of
your religious sphere. Without knowledge faith could easily be woven into a web
of blind prejudice, blind faith would lead to extremism, fanaticism, and other
religious and social vices.

The Middle East would be one example,where the existence of religious

knowledge is not perfectly utilized thus bringing about a situation of political and
religious crisis in the region.

We must always remember that knowledge is a sort of implement and its

use depends on the will of man. So only if we have the will to learn, to acquire
knowledge, then we will be able to make the best of it by using it to help us
achieve our objectives and to smoothly travel through the path we choose for
ourselves, whatever that path may be.

In these modern times, there is no denying that science is not enough to

humanize mankind, what is needed for some Scholars is faith ,whether religious
or other wise. Bertrand Russell an influential 19th Century British philosopher puts
it "the work that merely aims at earning income shall not produce good results.
For this purpose one should adopt a profession that implants in the individual a
faith, a purpose and a goal".

The words of another great man in modern science who also acknowledges
the importance of the presence of faith in life by writing "Art reveals beauty; it is
the joy of life. Religion means love; it is the music of life, science means truth and
reason; it is the conscience of mankind. We need all of them – Art and Religion as
well as science"2.

The Dilemna of Islamization of Knowledge .

In the classic tradition that the learned are the heir of the Prophets, to us,
Knowledge was but one of the divine heirlooms of our faith, This has led to a
current trend of what they may call “Islamization of Knowledge” in the quest of
fusing Modern science and Islamic faith.

What we must realize that clearly in contrast to some Christian approaches,

many Muslim scholars were eager to identify themselves as ‘Islamic scholars’ and
to shape their scholarship according to Islamic principles.

This was the nature of our Ulama, as they had tried to fuse knowledge and
faith as the highest manifestation of knowledge.

2George Surton, Six Wings: Men of Science in the Renaissance, P. 218 (London, 1958)

This applied particularly to the clerical scholars who are collectively known
in Arabic as the Ulema, membership of which carries high status within the
Muslim community.

Although the Islamic education movement to Islamise knowledge only

started in the late 1970s, partly as a reaction to the secularisation of education in
Muslim countries.

It was part of a discourse which advocated the Islamisation of various

aspects of society and life. The modern and largely Western inspired education
systems within Muslim countries appeared to divorce learning from spiritual
education and Muslim scholars observed that there was a rift between faith and
intellect and between knowledge based on revelation and knowledge based on
acquired knowledge.

Young men returning to Muslim countries after studying in the West also
appeared to suggest that the secular education they had received was not
beneficial to their faith, as many returned with little respect for Muslim tradition,
preferring instead to follow Western mores.

The educational experience of Muslim minorities in Western countries also

indicated that it was difficult to provide an Islamic education that preserved the
heritage of Islam intact.

The First World Conference of Islamic Education in 1977 identified Western

knowledge as the culprit, since it had divorced itself from spiritual education and
had abandoned its links with revealed knowledge. It was a system that began and
ended with man and which failed to acknowledge the Creator’s role as the source

of all knowledge.

Some wished to disengage completely from Western thought in order to

restore Islam’s autonomy and independence. Others felt that Islam and Muslims
needed to engage with Western ideas.

That Conference wanted to avoid a superficial mix of secular and religious

courses as a way forward. It therefore began with a logical statement of the
nature of man, the purpose and goal of his existence, and the role of education in
helping man to achieve this end

The Islamic Universities League held an international symposium on Islamic

Studies in 2004 at Dundee University in Scotland and set out a framework for the
development of the study of Islam and Muslim civilizations at university level.

The Muslim concept of knowledge ultimately identifies God as the source of

all knowledge. It divides knowledge into two areas: revealed and acquired.
Revealed knowledge is based on the Koran and Sunnah, whilst acquired
knowledge concerns itself with the social, natural and applied sciences.

Acquired knowledge must be in harmony with and enlightened by faith.

Muslim thought has produced a hierarchy of knowledge which begins with
spiritual knowledge followed by moral knowledge, then intellectual disciplines,
imaginative disciplines, and finally physical disciplines. Spiritual and moral
knowledge are ‘givens’, whilst acquired knowledge is gained through the
imaginative disciplines.

No knowledge is conceivable without values and therefore it is unthinkable
in Muslim education to suggest that knowledge is value free or neutral. In Islam
all knowledge is sacred and should be used to counter error, prejudice and self-

The connection between knowledge and the virtues is consequently

important in Islam in order to ensure the balanced growth of the individual in
spirit, intellect, rational self, feelings and senses.

The aim of this education is to infuse faith into the individual and create an
emotional attachment to Islam so that they follow Islamic teaching in their lives.
As Attis (1979: v) states, ‘The aim of Muslim education is the creation of the
“good and righteous man” who worships Allah in the true
sense of the term, builds up the structure of his earthly life according to the
Sharia . . . (Islamic law) and employs it to sub-serve his faith.’ Ashraf (1985: 10)
sums this up when he says, ‘If religion is taught as one of many subjects and not
as the central subject governing the approach to all branches of human
knowledge, one cannot hope to reassert the moral basis of society.’

There are theoretically no limits to the acquisition of knowledge in Islam

and each Muslim has a sacred task to pursue knowledge to his or her best ability.
Nevertheless, with the expansion of knowledge there have appeared conflicting
attitudes within the Muslim community.

Some believe that knowledge pursued for its own sake is meaningless, as
they claim that all knowledge must serve God. There are significant tensions
between reason and revelation. Acquired knowledge should be taught from the

‘Islamic’ point of view. However, in order to do this there was a need to evolve
Islamic concepts of knowledge.

Islamic theology was to provide the worldview for all other branches of
knowledge. Theology was to provide the link to integrate all branches of
knowledge, as each branch is not considered autonomous. Clearly, Muslim
scholars could not practically reject all Western knowledge – the intention was
rather to recast Western knowledge according to Islamic
principles and constructs.

This is a major objective, demanding the full intellectual resources of the

Muslim community, so it is not surprising that it is not well advanced conceptually
and is not without contested status within the Muslim community. The Heads of
State of many Muslim countries formally subscribed to this Islamisation
movement .

Nevertheless, this synthesis of faith and learning has been attempted

before within Muslim education. Arab Muslims, such as al Farabi, Avicenna and
Averroes, did not reject the new knowledge they found in Plato or Aristotle, but
rather they assimilated it. Philosophy and science were not classified as un-
Islamic but rather they were re-constructed and understood according to the
teachings of Islam.

There are many tensions in trying to understand this medieval view of faith
and knowledge and the contemporary interpretations of it. For example, there
appears to be some similarities in Newman’s view to the modern movement
within Islam that seeks to Islamise all secular knowledge. However, like
Newman’s view, the Islamic view of knowledge is underdeveloped in practice.

The debate about the Islamisation of knowledge continues among Muslim
philosophers and educationalists. Some scholars speak of the ‘corruption of
knowledge’ in the West and how this has infiltrated Muslim minds, causing the
‘de-Islamisation of the Muslim mind’.

Some reject the idea that you can simply graft Islamic ideals and norms
onto existing forms of knowledge (Rahman 1982). Rahman argues that it is not
knowledge but its application that is the problem. It is the use of knowledge by
Muslims that makes it bad or good, therefore there is nothing wrong with Western
knowledge, but it is simply misused – by Muslims and Westerners alike. Rahman
believes Islam simply has not kept pace in moral development with technological
advancement and that the West treats religion as irrelevant to large areas of life
and thought and has become thoroughly secular. There is also some
misunderstanding of what Islamisation of knowledge means within the Muslim
community itself.

Choudhary (1993: 18) believes that the Islamic community is ‘confused and
doubtful about the kind of Islamisation direction to take’. Farugi (1982) has
developed a method or approach to the Islamisation of knowledge which seeks to
look at each branch of knowledge or academic discipline in higher education and
redefine it, reorder it, rethink it and reproject it to serve the goals of Islam.

Some consider this to be anti-progress,anti-science and against human

development, whilst others believe that Islamisation is simply code for

Nevertheless, institutes and universities have been established with the
stated aim of the Islamisation of knowledge. Numerous books seek to outline an
alternative (to Western)Muslim methodology that would be capable of responding
to the social and intellectual challenges of modern Islamic societies. However,
Rahman (1982:133) comments that in trying to Islamise knowledge and
education, ‘this aim cannot be really fulfilled unless Muslims effectively perform
the intellectual task of elaborating an Islamic metaphysics on the basis of the
Quran’. Abaza claims that the attempt so far to invest knowledge with Islamic
values has been less than negligible. He also observes that whilst the process has
produced valuable insights, these are often marred by apologetic attitudes.

Bilgrami and Ashraf (1985: 40), working from the Islamic Academy in
Cambridge, England, believe that the ideal Islamic university should not simply
teach Islamic subjects alongside other subjects or establish institutes of Islamic

Rather the aim of the Islamic university is to ‘produce men of higher

knowledge and noble character’ who have been educated in the spiritual, not the
materialistic. They subscribe to the Islamization of knowledge and believe that
the Muslim world requires a unified education system which they claim once
prevailed in Muslim civilization, ‘a synthesis was brought between the rational and
the spiritual approaches by the most learned scholars of the institutions, who had
a complete knowledge of Islam and of modern subjects, and who with their
methodology and personality brought together all knowledge into a united whole,
integrating it with the unity of Truth and reality’. They suggest that this unity and
integration needs to be recaptured by Muslims. Simply providing a theology
faculty in a university does not aid the unity they seek. Bilgrami and Ashraf

(1985: 49)recognize that this is not an easy task for the Muslim community and
will require intensive research and study. They propose that Muslim scholars
begin by preparing a core of knowledge and draw from the metaphysics supplied
by the Quran and Sunnah to formulate a basic Islamic approach tothe social,
natural and applied sciences. This approach seeks to challenge the critical, secular
and analytical outlook of the West by interpreting theories that underlie various
disciplines from an Islamic point of view.

A lot of Scholars are clearly concerned with the negative effects of modern
university education on the ideals and behavior of the young,and they advocate
Islamization of knowledge as a partial remedy. They are careful to insist that this
should not be done in a dogmatic way and that students should be trained to
think for themselves. This is an important point since it would easy for academics
hostile to this approach to become suspicious of institutions that promise
specifically Islamic biology or even promise to give an authentic Islamic view of
every subject or issue in higher education.

They may argue that this method would compromise the intellectual dignity
of various disciplines in the name of religious insight, that it would demand
conformity and not invite a free response, that it would simply transmit
information but not cultivate critical thinking, and that it would be instruction
not education. There is a distinction between teaching students how to think
rather than what to think, but how we think presupposes knowing what to think.
It presupposes some partisan account of the subject matter and whilst being
partisan may slump into narrow indoctrination, it doesn’t have to.

As a point, the Islamization project has not progressed very far beyond
philosophical discussions and that Islamic scholars are only at the
conceptualization stage in formulating Islamic concepts
for all the branches of knowledge. One difficulty they have is that the enterprise
lacks criticism of its own tradition and often simply celebrates everything and
everyone associated with Islam, whilst denigrating the West. The solution is not
to impose on higher education a rigid pattern of knowledge in the name of
Islamization, but rather to confront intelligently the difficulty of agreeing what the
Islamic view of knowledge is. What we can say is that ‘preaching the theory that
there exists an Islamic alternative to every branch of knowledge is not only to
mislead the Muslim public but also to encourage communal suicide’.

There are many Muslim critics of the Islamisation of knowledge movement

and they point to the fact that whilst there have been many critiques of the
movement there have been very little concrete results in terms of an Islamic
curriculum for universities (see Panjwani (2004) for a discussion of how Muslims
differ among themselves on the Islamisation project).

It can appear to be a vague Islamic ideology with empty rhetoric, using a

simplistic approach that fails to take account of historical events. That is why a
Forum on Human Rights in Cairo condemned the whole Islamisation of knowledge
project. Abaza (2002: 197) comments that ‘Islamisation is nothing but the
monopoly of men of religion over scientific production, ending in inquisitions.’
Nevertheless, Muslims continue to see Westernisation as an ideological threat to
their civilisation and something that aids the educational secularisation of their
higher education institutions. The response is to re-Islamize in some way this
hitherto secularising Western-inspired educational project. It could be argued that

secularisation is only possible when it becomes culturally acceptable, and in the
majority of Muslim societies it is not acceptable.

The dilemna was not in the Islamization or the integration of Faith and
knowledge, the dilemna was the process, as it in other places lead to Arabization
and Salafization of knowledge. And as such, the basic process was not merely to
Islamize content of knowledge, but the fusion and integration of both faith and

Bediuzzaman’s understanding and comprehension of science as well his in-

depth study philosophy should be seen in the context of the increasing Western
influence in the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries
and the attacks which were being made on the Qur'an and Islam in the name of
science and materialism, and Positivist philosophy in particular; it was in order to
answer these attacks.

Indeed he may have not used the term Islamization as the term hasnt yet
been coined in his time but the concepts that he progressively wrote in his works
are clear testament to this and his interpretation of Islamization in the guise of

The integration of Faith, Learning and living

The Integration of Faith and Learning

One of the key focuses of our life should be the integration of faith with learning
and living in its teaching and scholarship. Faith, heart, soul, and intellect must
function synergically to empower people of faith and knowledge fully.

Why is the Focus on Integration Important?

1. Students must drive out fear of their minds before they will allow full
development of them. Before they come to the university, many students
have been warned by well-meaning friends, "Do not get so much education
that you lose your faith." There is sometimes an assumed tension or even
conflict between learning and faith. Many academics on secular campuses
appear to believe that faith and learning are incompatible also, to such a
degree that they take it upon themselves to attempt to "liberate" entering
students from their faith.

Faith is often represented by these people as an obstacle to the modern world of

"facts" (by which they often mean secularized interpretations of facts). If we want
our students to love truth and pursue it freely, we must liberate them from this
fear of learning by showing them that learning can strengthen and extend their
faith. They must come to understand that not only does truth belong to God,
meaning that there is no need to fear it, but that the spiritual battle for the
modern world is taking place in a sophisticated intellectual and philosophical
marketplace that requires well trained and well informed minds to engage the

2. When students become aware that the mind (just as with heart and soul)
can be an ally of faith—that they can strengthen their faith by
strengthening their minds—they will see the importance and priority of
mind training and take their academic work more seriously. We must
actively promote the use of reason and intellect in building and as a tool in
the philosophical battles of the modern world.

The more solidly rational and educated is the support for the faith, the stronger
the faith will be and the more powerful the witness will be to an increasingly
educated, skeptical, seeking, needy world.

3. One's faith in relation to learning must be understood not as just an

"added bonus" or appended item to standard scholarship from a secular
worldview, but instead as a more comprehensive and more rational
epistemology than, say naturalism or materialism. Islam, as a knowledge
structure, is a standard of truth, providing an objectively critical approach
for making corrective assessments in scholarship and intellectual work. In
other words, Islam should be an anchor and a touchstone for the analysis of
culture and political structures rather than merely a point of view or another
source of commentary on morals and manners.

The more solidly rational and educated is the support for the faith, the
stronger the faith will be and the more powerful the witness will be to an
increasingly educated, skeptical, seeking, needy world. Islam must therefore be
seen not as a private emotion, not as a co-existing idea with little connection to
reality, not as an "added plus" to an otherwise secular existence, not a balance in
opposition to reason, but as a integrating truth that provides the world with
meaning and coherence.

What does the process of Integration Involve?

Integration itself is embodied in such thinking and processes as

• the inclusion of the whole person—heart, soul, and mind—in all

activities, worship, work, thinking, feeling, studying, deciding, interpreting
• acknowledging the reasonableness and truth of Islam
• recognizing that Islam is not a viewpoint imposed on world
knowledge, but an epistemic foundation (competing with lesser epistemes) that
provides a clarifying platform for engaging all knowledge
• applying the standards and worldview of Islam to thought and
• a call to cultural evaluation by Islamic Values and standards:
• a call to social response
• the understanding of human nature, human value, and human
potential through the light of Quran and Sunnah

A well performed process of integration will have an impact on

• values, choices, decision-making, and ethics by using Islamic

reference points
• meaning, the purpose of events, history, text and the purpose and
goals of life: in other words interpretation or hermeneutics
• views of truth and a reasonable, well-grounded faith versus a blind
• a hierarchy of life: faith as a test of politics and ideology in the secular

Implications of an Integrated Mind

As scholars, we recognize that many fact claims are actually interpretations
imposed on filtered information, and that reigning paradigms are as much the
products of philosophical structures as they are of objective truth or purely
empirical evidence. We also understand that many textbooks and journals contain
claims which come from a perspective that includes various metaphysical
assumptions and philosophical interpretations in conflict with Islamic truth. For
example, some of the claims of naturalism and postmodernist thought are clearly
at odds with what we believe to be more rational explanations.

With integration, the student can recognize that certain aspects of secular
learning are processed through such knowledge filters and interpretive spins, and
that new information must often pass metaphysical litmus tests before being
granted truth status. A highly educated Muslim can expose these practices and
challenge such claims by providing superior alternatives, based on better
evidence, more reasonable interpretations, and revealed truth.

With integration, the believer can more readily endure times of spiritual
dryness that might threaten the emotion-based Muslim. The Muslim supported by
thought and knowledge will be less "prone to wander"

A faithfully integrated heart and mind can discern the difference between
a cultural step forward and a mere click of the ratchet of excess.

What Happens without Integration?

When people do not learn to integrate faith and learning during their
undergraduate years, then it may not occur. In graduate school and professional
life, students may adopt the current paradigms of the field without realizing that
those paradigms include a set of metaphysical assumptions, often naturalistic and
humanistic, that conflict with Islamic truth—not because there is a conflict
between faith and fact but because there is a conflict of worldviews, producing a
conflict of interpretations and assumptions. Not knowing this, the student may
incur a split between faith and mind, with faith weakening as the mind grows
more and more into the subject. Without integration, faith tends to become an
emotional commitment and response, relying exclusively on feelings which can
change more easily than an intellectually grounded and reinforced belief.

Personal feelings are more subject to doubt than intellectual commitment.

Without integration, the students will risk compartmentalizing their faith,

putting it in a box separate from their intellectual and working life. At the worst,
the faith will become merely an emotional outlet, with God becoming a vending
machine: put in a prayer and get out a blessing.

It will become intellectually irrelevant and emotionally useful only as long as

the blessings keep coming. Once God "lets them down," with an unanswered
prayer, their faith will be at risk.

Without integration, students will tend to exhibit a passive acceptance of
current cultural values, lacking an active engagement and response to them,
unable to separate entertainment values from moral and artistic values. Cultures
with unfixed standards of reference move inevitably toward extremes, "pushing
the envelope" without taste or decency.

A faithfully integrated heart and mind can discern the difference between a
cultural step forward and a mere click of the ratchet of excess. Such a one can
recognize that many of the productions of modern culture are not contributing to
a more humane, compassionate world where beauty and truth are celebrated,
and that some entertainment products are harmful to such a vision. By realizing
that, as Marcus Aurelius says, "The soul takes on the color of its ideas," the
integrated person can choose cultural inputs more wisely and therefore be
influenced more positively.

Lifelong Integration

Integration is a process, that must take place every day, because we are
presented with new claims, new facts, new interpretations every day. This
integration, this "faithful intellect," will guide and guard our students not just
while at the university but throughout their journey through the postmodern sea,
where they will face a lifelong barrage of demands for belief, indulgence, and
consumption. Our role as faculty is to give them the tools they can hone and use
both now and in the future.