1.0 THE CONCEPT OF ISLAMIZATION
1.1 DEFINITION OF ISLAMIZATION
of knowledge has become a very popular term and has taken on an identity of its own such that the semantics are debated without
dealing with the underlying concepts. Islamization is a process of recasting the corpus of human knowledge to conform with
the basic tenets of aqidat al tauhid.
1.2 DEFINITION OF ISLAMIC KNOWLEDGE
When we talk about
Islamic or Islamized knowledge we should be careful not to imply that there is knowledge that is not Islamic. All true knowledge
whatever its kind and source is Islamic. Islamic knowledge has no time or space constraints because Islam is universal being
suitable for every place and time.
1.3 BENEFITS OF ISLAMIZATION
is for the benefit of all humanity and not monopolized by Muslims. The main benefit of the Islamization process will be identifying
biases in the application of research methodologies and in the resulting corpus of knowledge. This will be the first step
towards development of universal objective knowledge.
1.4 ISLAMIZATION IS EVOLUTIONARY and NOT REVOLUTIONARY
The process of
Islamization does not call for re-invention of the wheel of knowledge but calls for reform, correction, and re-orientation.
Islamization is an evolutionary and not revolutionary movement. Islamization is a corrective reformative movement.
ISLAMIZATION AND SOCIAL REFORM
knowledge is necessary for islamization and reform of the education system. Islamization of education lays the ground for
the Islamization and reform of society.
HISTORY OF ISLAMIZATION
2.1 EARLY EFFORTS AT ISLAMIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE
The concept of
Islamization of knowledge is not new in Islam. The 2-3rd centuries H witnessed a process of Islamising Greek knowledge
with much enthusiasm. The process was not without its pitfalls that have been recorded in history. Modern scholars working
on Islamization of their disciplines will benefit from the previous experience to avoid repeating many of the past mistakes.
The early Islamisation
process started with astronomical, physical, biological, and mathematical sciences. The process led to the development of
the disciplines of theology, kalaam, and Islamic philosophy, falsafat, as
counterparts to Greek concepts.
The early Muslim
scientists like us today felt the problem of dichotomy of knowledge keenly and tried to bridge the gap with varying success.
They not only tried to Islamize foreign knowledge but also embarked on developing new knowledge through research. However
these efforts could not be continued in the latter part of the abassid era due to general decline of the state.
knowledge was transferred along with Greek philosophy and ideas. These were eventually to cause decline of Muslim scientific
creativity because many did not agree with basic tenets held by Muslims. Greek science was not very experimental and depended
more often on deduction rather than induction. It thus discouraged the scientific tarbiyat
of the Qur’an which emphasized observation of nature as a basis for conclusions. Thus in the initial period there was
scientific growth due to transfer of knowledge. The momentum of scientific advance could however not be maintained because
Greek ideas and philosophy created much confusion in the ummat and could not encourage more rapid growth of empirical knowledge.
2.2 RECENT EFFORTS AT ISLAMIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE
The recent Islamization
movement had its earliest beginnings towards the close of the 14th century H when several Muslim thinkers wrote
about the cultural and intellectual invasion of the ummat promoted by an imposed and foreign education system. The responses
to this invasion varied. Some just rejected the European education system and European sciences altogether. Some Accepted
them whole-heartedly. Some others accepted them with reservations their argument being that they could be de-Europeanised.
The main thrust of the Islamization movement has been to de-europeanize education systems.
2.3 WORLD CONFERENCES ON MUSLIM EDUCATION
The First World
Conference on Islamic Education held in Makka in 1397 H/1977 N was a major event in the Islamization movement. The Conference
succeeded in defining the problem of dichotomy or duality of knowledge and recommended several general approaches to its solution.
Follow-up conferences that elaborated practical approaches to solve the problem were held at Islamabad in 1400 H/1980 N, Dhakka in 1401
H/1981 N, Jakarta in 1402 H/1982 N, and Cairo
in 1985 N. The movement thereafter appeared to lose momentum and a sense of direction until a 6th one in Capetown
in September 1996. The 6th conference was radically different from the previous ones. It had no government representatives
and had a limited agenda: to produce a curriculum for Islamic Schools in South
Africa that would serve as a model for other countries.
2.4 EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
to Islamize knowledge were undertaken in this period. Many Islamic elementary and secondary schools were established with
the aim of making their curricula reflect the teachings of Islam. Islamic universities under the aegis of the Organization
of the Islamic Conference (OIC) were also established in Malaysia, Niger, Uganda, and Islamabad. More private Islamic universities were established in Indonesia,
and other Muslim countries. These were essentially modern universities modeled on the European model within an Islamic context.
They were a step towards solving the problem of dichotomy in the education system. They however could not address the task
fully because the theoretical work needed to define and implement an Islamic epistemology had not been done.
2.5 ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS
were set up to spear-head the Islamization process: The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Virginia,
USA; the Islamic Academy in Cambridge, UK; the Muslim Education Trust of Nigeria; The Muslim Education Trust in UK; and the Iqra International Education Foundation in Chicago,
IIIT was registered
in the US in 1981. It has held many conferences
and published many books to publicize the concept of Islamization. The experience of IIIT illustrates the difficulties and
challenges of Islamization. From its inception, IIIT set itself the task of producing textbooks for the various disciplines
of knowledge that would present the Islamic perspective. The process required mastery of both the European disciplines of
knowledge and the traditional Islamic sciences. This would be followed by a critical analysis of both. The results of the
analysis would be applied to the practical realities in the ummat in order to produce a new synthesis that would be in text-books
used in schools and universities. It was expected that the student who would use the new text-books would develop a new mind-frame
in an intellectual-cultural context that would facilitate solving the ummat’s outstanding problems and to contribute
to growth of human knowledge. This simplified schemata could not be executed easily because there was a lot of preparatory
work that needed to be done. IIIT therefore started by producing books on background material needed to prepare the ground
for the Islamisation project. It held seminars and colloquia to discuss specific issues. A major problem encountered was lack
of intellectual manpower capable of contributing to the project. There are few scholars in the ummat who have enough grasp
of both the classical Islamic and modern European disciplines to be able to make an original contribution. The few who are
available are so busy in day-to-day political and social problems of their countries that they have little time or energy
for scholarly work. The few scholars available for the work do not have direct and day to day contact with the grass-roots
in universities and schools; if they had such contact they would be absorbed in their work that no time would be left for
academic research. The summary of the IIIT’s experience over the period 1981-2000 is that the process of Islamization
is larger and more complicated than had been anticipated.
3.0 ISLAMIZATION BY REFORM OF DISCIPLINES:
3.1 RATIONALE OF STARTING WITH DISCIPLINES
is the most important item on the agenda of the contemporary Islamization movement. Islamization will have to start at the
level of disciplines. This is because knowledge has become so specialized that no effort at general islamization can succeed.
Each discipline has developed its own unique epistemology, methodology, and corpus of knowledge.
of Islamization must start with existing disciplines of knowledge. The alternative of starting from a tabula rasa is not practical and will make the process of Islamization both long and expensive. Such an approach
will relegate the present corpus of human knowledge to the dust-bin of history, an unrealistic alternative. If such an approach
were taken, the Muslims will be busy reconstructing knowledge from its foundations while others are going ahead using available
knowledge with its defects. Muslims would then become victims of a time lag that will be greatly accentuated by the rapid
3.2 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ISLAMIZATION PROCESS
must have the following characteristics: pro-active intellectual effort, academically and methodologically rigorous, objective,
and has practical consequences. A pro-active strategy is not reaction to time or place-bound problems. It has its own vision
and agenda and takes the initiative to achieve them. It has a grand vision and a mission seen in the long-term perspective.
An intellectual approach based on rational grounds is needed and not emotional excitement that does not long. Intellectual
rigor is needed in the analysis of problems and formulation of solutions using a clear and consistent methodology. The Islamization
effort will fail rapidly if it becomes an ivory-tower exercise with no grass-roots support. It must stay in touch and close
to the actual educational problems of the ummat.
3.3 VISION, MISSION, and GOALS OF THE
vision is accelerated growth of objective, universal knowledge that is beneficial to all humanity and allows a harmonious
interaction of humans with their physical, social, and spiritual environment. The practical mission is conceptual transformation
of the paradigms, methodologies, and uses of disciplines of knowledge to conform to tauhid.
The immediate goals are: (a) De-Europeanizing basic paradigms of existing disciplines and thus changing them from being parochial
to being objective and universal. (b) Reconstructing paradigms of disciplines using Islamic universal guidelines. (c) Re-classifying
the various disciplines of knowledge to reflect universal values and the tauhidi perspective. (d) Reforming the methodology
of research to become objective, purposeful, and comprehensive, (e) Encouraging growth of knowledge through research, and
(f) inculcating morally correct application of knowledge
3.4 SCOPE OF ISLAMIZATION
will be initially undertaken in the following three main areas: classification of disciplines, tasniif al ‘uluum;
epistemology, nadhariyat al ma’arifat; and methodology, mahajiyat al ma’arifat.
Classification of disciplines in most universities reflects the European world-view and epistemological assumptions.
Some form of re-classification will be needed to reflect tauhidi assumptions.
An Islamic epistemological
thought must be developed from the Qur’an, the sunnat, and the ummatic intellectual experience over the past 14 centuries.
This can incorporate experiences of other communities even if non-Muslim.
of research must be reformed to remove all sources of bias in the selection of fields of investigation, hypothesis formulation,
data management and analysis, and reporting of scientific findings.
succeed in an ambiance that emphasizes revival of ijtihad and research, motivates
researchers and scientists to excel in knowledge, and inculcates correct attitudes to the use of knowledge especially science
3.4 ROLE OF THE QUR'AN
is very central to the discipline reform process but must be used correctly. The Qur’an is not a text-book of any discipline
although it has data and facts on various disciplines. The Qur’an gives general principles that establish objectivity
and protect against biased research methodology. The Qur’an creates a world-view that encourages research to extend
the frontiers of knowledge and its use for the benefit of the whole universe.Scientists are encouraged to work within these
Qur’anic parameters to expand the frontiers of knowledge through research, basic and applied.
4.0 PRACTICAL STEPS / TASKS OF THE REFORM PROCESS:
4.1 MASTERY OF CLASSICAL ISLAMIC SCIENCES
step is obtaining a good grounding in Islamic methodological sciences of of usul al
fiqh, ulum al Qur’an, ulum al
hadith, and 'uluum al llughat, This is then followed by reading the Qur’an
and sunnat with understanding of the changing time-space dimensions while at the
same time knowing limitations of literal reading and interpretations. This is then followed by clarification of basic epistemological
issues and relations: wahy and aql,
ghaib and shahada, ‘ilm and iman. The
classical disciplines provide an authentic Islamic methodology that can be developed and applied to various disciplines of
knowledge. Mastery of the disciplines does not necessary require that a scientist consencrate a life-time of specialized study
of classical disciplines. What is required is a short, concentrated course of study of the methodological aspects of the classical
disciplines and not the details. Such a course can last 6-12 months depending on the initial level of preparation of the scholar.
4.2 PRIORITIZATION AMONG DISCIPLINES
Due to limited
manpower and material resources, the reform process cannot be undertaken for all disciplines at the same time. Some form of
prioritization will be necessary. Prioritization does not mean marginalization of some disciplines. It is a rational allocation
of manpower and material resources for optimal and rapid results. Disciplines that are more methodological will have to take
first priority followed by disciplines that are closely related to social reform and societal change. The order of priority
for discipline reform: basic natural sciences, applied sciences and technology, social
sciences, humanities, and Islamic sciences. Natural sciences are trend setters both in the field of methodology and social
change. Social sciences will be easier to reform because they have now largely adopted the empirical methodology of the natural
sciences. Humanities need to be recast using the Qur’anic methodology of analyzing the growth and decline of human civilizations
and societies. Islamic sciences became fossilized over the centuries when ijthad
was limited; they need a major revival. They will have to be purged of Hellenic,
Judeo-Christian, and other influences and will have to be rebuilt directly on the basis of the Qur’an and authentic
sunnat. These important sciences will have to be approached taking the time-space
dimension into consideration. Since they represent eternally valid revelation, they must have relevance for each period and
4.3 ISLAMIC CRITIQUE OF THE DISCIPLINES
of basic paradigms of various disciplines involves a critical review of the basic assumptions and concepts in the methodology
of each discipline using criteria of Islamic methodology and Islamic epistemology. The critique should be balanced pointing
out the strengths and weaknesses. It should address the core conceptual issues and avoid being trapped into detailed and sometimes
peripheral issues. A good critique should set out with Islamic paradigms as a bench-mark and then work systematically to analyse
the discipline. The critique should not be undertaken in a cultural or civilizational vacuum. It should be appreciated that
modern disciplines developed in a Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman European environment which is the source of many background
unstated assumptions in each discipline.
4.4 REVIEW OF TEACHING MATERIALS
of existing text-books and teaching materials is undertaken to identify deviations from the tauhidi episteme and the Islamic methodology. This will guide the process of reform by focusing only on areas
in the discipline that are not in conformity with the Islamic paradigms. The review is useful in assessing the scale of the
task ahead. Many enthusiasts of reform were discouraged as soon as they saw that textbooks and other teaching materials were
so many and so voluminous that the task of educational reform can not be achieved in a short time.
4.5 PREPARING INTRODUCTIONS TO DISCIPLINES, MUQADDIMAT AL
of the introduction to the discipline:
first and logical step in the Islamization of a discipline is to write an Islamic introduction to it. This should establish
basic Islamic principles and paradigms that determine and regulate the methodology, content, and teaching of a particular
discipline. The introduction should set out the major epistemological and methodological issues of the discipline to guide
research, teaching, and practical application. Students of the discipline will study the introduction first before embarking
on studying the discipline. The student will in this way have an Islamic orientation to the discipline that will enable him
or her to deal with the discipline in a critical way. He will be able to recognise aspects of the discipline that agree with
the Islamic frame-work and separate them from those that do not. This sets him on the road to new creative thinking that helps
him make original contributions to the discipline from the Islamic perspective. The Introduction to the discipline can therefore
be looked at as a tool to transform a student from an uncritical consumer of knowledge to one who is critically selective.
Ibn Khuldun’s muqaddimat: A parallel can be drawn with the Ibn Khaldun’s
Introduction to History, muqaddimat, which was the first book of his universal History, kitaab al ‘Ibar.
Ibn Khaldun’s work is rightfully called the philosophy of History because it presents generalizing and methodological
concepts that make sense out of the narration of historical events. We can, in other words, say that the muqaddimat
enables a student to understand the study of History. Ibn Khaldun presented a rational/logical, analytical, and encyclopaedic
approach to History. He was original in his thinking and developed new terminology to convey his ideas. He explained how the
physical environment affects the growth of human society from the most primitive to the most sophisticated urban centers.
He explained the determinants of leadership and the political system. He explained the relation between group feeling, ‘asabiyyat,
on one hand and the rise and fall of political dynasties on the other. He explained the rise and fall of civilizations and
the factors that regulate economic and social conditions. The conclusions presented in the muqaddimat was based on
Ibn Khaldun’s wide experience in practical politics as well as his extensive travels in the then known Muslim world.
Ibn Khaldun was a Muslim scholar and many of his ideas were influenced by Islamic precepts. The debate is however still open
whether the muqaddimat can be considered an Islamic Introduction to History or is just an introduction.
is not an administrative effort. It is academic and will progress well if there is cumulation of published research. The research
will generate more interest and will engage academicians and educators in serious debate about the issues of Islamization.
Research can be undertaken on the process of Islamization in its historical form since the 2/3rd centuries of hegira
or its current form to assess the strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities, achievements and failures. Some research
can be conceptual trying to relate Qur’anic concepts of knowledge to actual problems that educators confront on a daily
basis. Some research could take the form of experimental intervention in which selected modules written according to the Islamic
methodology and epistemology are used in class-rooms and an assessment is made of their impact and relative effectiveness.
Establishment of specialized research institutions will be necessary for continued support of the reform process.
4.7 TEACHING MATERIAL
testing of new text-books and other teaching materials is a necessary step towards reform by putting into the hands of teachers
and students reformed material. The process of reform will not achieve its ultimate goal of social reform and societal change
unless it becomes part of the curricula at schools and universities. There are several Muslim education institutions struggling
to provide an Islamically-based education. They all complain of the major handicap of not finding enough material to use in
the class-room. Any material produced will find a ready audience. It is not necessary to wait until such material is perfected.
What is available can be used and can be improved based on feed-back from field experience. Graduates of schools and universities
who have used the teaching material will be a different product from those who went through other curricula and will be the
true pioneers of Islamization when they in turn start researching and teaching.
4.8 APPLIED KNOWLEDGEDeveloping applied knowledge
in science and technology from basic knowledge will be the last stage of the reform process. This is because in the end it
is science and technology that actually lead to changes in society.