Lecture for Post-graduate students on 10th December 2000 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.



A. Methodology And Reform

B. Beginnings Of Methodology

C. Methodology In The Ummat

D. Muslim-European Interaction

E. Modern Challenges


2.0 METHODOLOGY FROM THE QURAN, manhaj qur’ani

A. The Qur'an And Knowledge

B. The Tauhidi Paradigm

C. Physical Laws

D. Reason And Empiricism

E. Objectivity



A. Traditional Sciences And The Muslim Mind:

B. Sciences Of The Qur'an, 'Uluum Al Qur'an

C. Sciences Of The Hadith, Uluum Al Hadith

D. Sciences Of The Law, Uluum Al Fiqh


4.0 ISLAMIC CRITIQUE OF THE EMPIRICAL METHOD, naqd al manhaj al tajribi

A. Definition

B. Historical Background

C. Strengths of the empirical methodology

D. Weaknesses In The Use Of The Empirical Methodology




A. Universality Of Islam

B. Tauhid And Causal Relations

C. Characteristics Of The Islamic Methodology

D. Conclusions

E. Future





Study of methodology is rapidly emerging as an important and independent field. Methodology and not content defines a discipline; a discipline cannot be recognized as independent until it evolved a methodology. According to the tauhidi paradigm, there is a methodological framework common to all disciplines since there is unity of knowledge and the source of knowledge is one, Allah. This common methodology can be reached by deep study and reflection of any discipline. Muslim scientists with the tauhidi framework of thought owe a big debt to humanity to discover and describe this methodology.



Muslim history has shown that successful reform movements have always started with reform of knowledge. Movements that were based on purely political or military action with no knowledge reform were not as successful. Knowledge reform requires methodological reform. Reform of the ummah today will have to start from its methodological heritage recast in a contemporary framework, referred to as contemporary Islamic originality, asaalat islamiyyat muasirat, by Dr Abdulhamid Abusulayman.




Science and technology are as old as humanity. The first recorded scientific activity was teaching Adam the names of things. Naming and classification are basics for scientific research and communication. The historical record is silent after that first event. We however know from archaeological evidence that a lot of empirical discoveries were made. Human curiosity and the search for practical solutions to problems of life led to discoveries by empirical observation or trial and error. In this way early man discovered fire, agriculture, animal husbandry, manufacture and use of weapons.



The S&T we have today is a product of human endeavor to which all known civilizations contributed: ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Roman empire, Phoenicia, Persia, China, and India. These societies were the first to develop agriculture and a sedentary life-style. The need to solve practical problems as well as the stability and order that existed in settled communities allowed the development and spread of ideas on S&T.  The beginnings of the empirical methodology can be traced to these communities. Knowledge was able to spread easily because these communities had also developed writing.



During the renaissance or age of enlightenment, the Catholic Church’s suppression of science was rejected. At the same time Muslim science, carrying with it the empirical method, reached Europe through translations or study of Europeans at Muslim universities in Spain and other countries. It is possible but not proved that it was the Muslim influence that triggered the intellectual and knowledge renaissance of Europe which was a pre-cursor to the scientific revolution in Europe of the period 1500-1750 CE. Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the first European to write about the empirical methodology, was repeating ideas and concepts that Muslim scientists had already elaborated. Transfer of the empirical method to Europe was imperfect; the Europeans took the facts but not the tauhidi context. A new European and largely secular context was developed. The empirical method was presented as the source of knowledge par excellence. Other sources of knowledge were rejected especially revelation because of its association with the rejected church. This was an overreaction to the transgressions of the church against science. The experience of the Muslims had shown that the empirical method could be used alongside other sources of knowledge and that it was not anti-religion.




The ummah is proud to have been the first to develop uluum al hadith and ‘ilm al usuul as methodological sciences that ensure correct transmission of text, khabar, distinguishing the right from the wrong, and valid objective interpretation of facts. Tools from these Islamic methodological sciences are comparable to those of the empirical method. Science investigates matter and energy and their uses whereas Islamic methodological sciences investigate revealed text seeking to understand its practical use. The fields of investigation may be different but the intellectual tools used as well the possible methodological biases are similar to a large extent. Both face the challenge of working from incomplete evidence and making general explanatory theory.



Ancient Muslim scientists were encyclopedic being involved in several fields of enquiry at the same time. Research is a type of ijtihad. We are of the opinion that the door to ijtihad has never been closed in the ummah at any epoch. The decrease in scholarly output that occurred at certain epochs in history was more due to lack of new challenges for scholars than to lack of intellectual curiosity. The physical and social environment changed very little between the 4th and 10th centuries of hijra. The period starting with the 13th century has witnessed major changes and challenges and is therefore producing more reformers and thinkers. Innovative intellectual output of the ummah is now on the rise.



Muslims played a crucial role in preserving and improving ancient Greek learning and passing it to Europe just before the scientific revolution at the start of the 16th century CE.  The Umayyad Khalif, Khalid Ibn Yazid, started translations of Greek science and philosophy into Arabic. This effort intensified in the 3rd century AH under the Abassid rulers. Muslims became leaders of science in its various disciplines by correcting defects in Greek science but also making innovative additions of their own.



The golden era of Muslim science was during the early abassid period.  Science in the Muslim world declined after that. In this era the disciplines of astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and chemistry reached their pinnacle. The decline can be dated to (a) the Mongol invasion and sacking of Baghdad (1258 CE) when over a period of 40 years they killed scientists and destroyed books and the expulsion of Muslims scientists and (b) catholic destruction of Muslim institutions of learning and research in Andalusia (1491 CE). By the 14th century AH the ummah was weak in technology and superstition had come back.



There were 3 periods of intense scientific interaction between Europe and the Muslim world: (a) 3-6th centuries AH Greek science was transferred to the Muslim world. The Muslims had a methodological basis that allowed them to make selective absorption and also be able to innovate (b) during the crusades that lasted 8 centuries; the Muslims were intellectually stronger than the Europeans. The Muslims taught and did not find much to learn. Transfer of Muslim science to Europe was limited because of the intense rivalry (c) 13-15th centuries AH the Muslims were only consumers and not producers of S&T because they had lost their methodology and could not make original contributions. Lack of methodological originality led to neglect of pure sciences.




With the start of the 15th century of hijra, calls for a renewal in the ummah were made to develop or transfer technology in a selective, critical and innovative way. Experiences of indiscriminate technology transfer in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and other Muslim countries over the past 50 years have not been wholly successful; they have made the Muslims even more dependent than before.



Methodology built on the Muslim heritage will inspire more R&D than methodology developed in another world-view and is transplanted into the Muslim world. It will at the same time relieve the inferiority complex that afflicts Muslims. The ummah will absorb what is available in S&T. As Roger Garaudy advised this must be selective, critical, and creative. The ummah will also have to develop its methodologies so that it can in its own unique way make innovative additions to the corpus of human knowledge and experience. The ummah cannot achieve technological autonomy or develop an innovative and vigorous indigenous science base if it does not build on an Islamic framework.


2.0 METHODOLOGY FROM THE QURAN, manhaj qur’ani



Qur’anic verses deal with basically 4 concentric themes: (a) the self, nafs  (b) relation with other humans; (c) relation with the ecosystem; (d) relation with the creator. In the temporal dimension the Qur’an deals with the past, the present, and the future. The past and the future are generally subsumed under the concept of the unseen, al ghaib. The Qur’an is a book of general and basic guidance (p. 930 5:15-16, 14:1, 18:1-2, 20:113, 32:3). It is not a textbook for any particular discipline. It is a methodological guideline for the development of science and technology as well as other areas of human knowledge. The Qur’an and sunnat have their wisdom, hikmat, in the scientific tarbiyat of Muslims. There is a hikmat in the Qur’an and sunnat being in generalities and not details. There is hikmah in the Qur'an stating general principles and not going into details. General principles allow flexibility of dealing with new situations that arise because of spatio-temporal variation. There is hikmat in why the companions did not ask the prophet many questions. It was important to concentrate on the basics because the details are variable and cannot be treated with specific rules. There is also hikmat in verses of the Qur’an being validly interpretable in more than one way. It allows flexibility that is a necessity for growth of knowledge. There is hikmat in the revelation of the Qur’an in bits and pieces over a prolonged period of 23 years. The first Muslims had to understand the Qur'an well by applying it to actual practical situations for which specific verses were revealed. Overall the hikmat of the Qur'an is to develop a spirit of enquiry and reflection as the way to scientific facts and understanding of the empirical reality.




Scientific facts in the Qur’an are there for purposes of guidance to aqida and not a substitute for empirical research. The Qur’an encourages humans to study the universe in order to get empirical knowledge. This is achieved by indicating that the universe is large, knowledge is wide in scope, and human knowledge is limited. The field of human endeavor is the seen and not the unseen. It will be a transgression for a human to try to research or deal with the unseen. The Qur’an provides all knowledge of the unseen needed for methodological guidance of empirical study of the world. The Qur’an also provides information to understand uluhiyyat and rububiyyat and their implications in daily practical life. The Qur’an is comprehensive, shumuliyyat al Qur’an. It has to be accepted as a whole (2:85). The reader must understand the changing time-space dimensions as he or she contemplates the Qur’an because the Qur’an is for all places and all eras.



Previous civilizations were condemned for reading and not understanding their revelations (2:78). This is a situation of intellectual blindness. For Muslims the revelation is the start of understanding and knowledge.  Some of the contemporary Muslim weaknesses are attributable to defects in understanding and using the Qur’an. The Qur'an must be put into practice (p. 933 2:213, 4:105, 5:48-49, 6:114, 7:3, 7:170, 7:203, 10:109, 13:37, 16:64, 20:2, 20:99-100, 20:124, 28:87, 39:55, 43:43, 76:23-24). Many Muslim communities today have abandoned the Qur’an, hijr al Qur’an, in that they do not use it as the sole guide of their affairs. Muslim scientific and technological renaissance will require a return to the Qur’an as an inspiration and a methodological guidance. The learning, collection, study, and interpretation of the Qur’an was the start of the methodological and knowledge revolution ushered in by Islam.  This revolution was mainly the liberation of human intellect and will from the clutches of superstition and blind following. This is a continuous revolution that is missed sorely today.




The tauhidi paradigm has the following concepts: one-ness of Allah, unity of creation, unity of truth, unity of knowledge, unity of life, and unity of humanity. The concept of unity is the bedrock for causal relations and a rational predictable universe. Science shows that the complex universe is actually a simple one made up of a few fairly identical building blocks called atoms, sub-atomic particles and molecules. The natural laws that govern the interactions among these particles are simple and are usually written as simple mathematical equations. Under the tauhidi paradigm, wahy and aql are complementary. Since knowledge and truth are a unity, both wahy and aql are searching for the same goal of truth. The tauhidi paradigm also implies an all-embracing aspect, shumuuliyyat. Since everything has the same creator and one source, there must be order and harmony, nidhaam since that creator knows all His creation, ihaatat. Tauhid liberates the human intellect from stagnation, jumuud, dependency, tab’iyat, blind following, taqlid a’ama. It frees the human from being a slave of his own whims and fancies, hiwa al nafs. Tauhid encourages innovation, ibda, by emphasizing the unity of the universe and its wide expanse. Tauhid makes us understand why the Qur’an addresses the whole person and not parts. Tauhid is the final guarantor against methodological biases because the human observing and interpreting natural phenomena is in the same tauhidi frame of reference as the events being studied.




The Qur’an calls for empirical observation of the environment and its interpretation in many verses. Human senses were given their responsibility in this matter with warning against transgression. The Qur’an calls for use of the human intellect in many a verse. It provides actual examples of scientific research in which causal relations between phenomena are unravelled. The principle of causality,  ie a physical phenomenon must have a preceding humanly understandable cause, is very clear in many verses of the Qur’an. The exceptions when the principle is suspended are described; they involve intervention of divine will beyond human understanding like the prophetic miracles or are in the realm of the unseen, ‘ilm al ghaib. Humans can ignore the principle of causality with the consequence of lack of creativity, innovation, and activity and they lapse into a stuporous state of tawaakul. Sunan Allah are of 2 types: those known by Allah alone and those knowable by humans. The sunan in the world of the unseen, ‘aalam al ghaib, are different from those in the world of the seen, a’alam al shahadat; the former are beyond human reach. Ghaib is of two types: haqiiqi or mutlaq, knowable only by Allah,  and idhaafi, or nisbi knowable by some humans.




The Qur’an clearly refers to methodology (Maida:48, An’am:155). The Qur’anic methodology is induction. It was most unfortunate that Muslim scholars, under Greek influence, turned to deductive and neglected inductive reasoning. Most break-throughs in S&T today are a result of inductive processes. Interaction with Greek science did actually hamper methodological development in the ummat for centuries.



The Qur’an calls for the inductive method by ordaining looking at nature. Verses of the universe, ayat kawniyyat, relate directly to human intellect because Allah gave humans the power of intellect and put at their disposal what is in the earths and heavens, taskhiir, and called upon humans to look and investigate. The Qur’an trains the human to observe nature by use of terms such as nadhar and tabassur. Interpretation is emphasized by terms such as: tadabbur, tafakkur, i’itibaar, and tafaquhu. Use of evidential knowledge is emphasized by terms such as bayyinat and burhan. Terms used to condemn tendencies to biased observations are taqliid and dhann. The Qur’anic story about Ibrahim’s search for the truth by observing natural phenomena like the moon and the sun is a good example of formulating and testing a hypothesis by empirical observation.




The concept of istiqimat promotes valid and un-biased research. The Qur’an mentions the straight path, sirat mustaqim (p 100 6:126, 7:16, 11:56, 15:41, 16:76, 20:135, 36:4, 43:43, 43:61, 67:22, 81:28) as leading to success. Allah enjoins following the straight path (p 100 9:7, 10:89, 11:112, 41:6, 42:15; p. 101 6:153, 22:67, 23:73). Those who stick to the straight path are rewarded (p 100-101 41:30-32, 46:13-14, 72:16). Muslims always pray to Allah to guide them to the straight path (p 101 1:6, 2:142, 2:213, 3:101, 4:68, 4:175, 5:16, 6:39, 6:87, 6:161, 10:25, 16:121, 19:43, 22:54, 22:67, 24:46, 37:118, 42:52-53, 46:30, 48:2, 48:20). The straight path, istiqamat, is defined by the following measures of central tendency to the golden mean or equilibrium: ’adl (p 794 2:28, 3:21, 4:58, 4:127, 4:135, 5:8, 6:152, 7:29, 11:85, 16:76, 16:90, 17:35, 26:172, 42:15, 49:9, 55:9, 57:25, 65:2), wasatiyyat (p. 1306 2:143, 5:89, 68:28), tawazun,(p. 1172 42:17, 55:7, 57:25),  hikmat (p. 344 2:12, 2:151, 2:231, 2:251, 2:269, 3:48, 3:81, 3:164, 4:54, 9:113, 5:110, 16:125, 17:29, 31:12, 33:34, 38:20, 43:63, 54:5, 62:2), and i’itidaal (   ). The concept of wasatiyyat can be the basis for statistical measures of central tendency; mean, median, and mode; that are the basis of much scientific inference. Istiqamat can also be defined negatively as rejection of what leads to bias such as hiwa al nafs and dhann. The Qur’an came to fight false knowledge that manifests as: usturat (p. 105 6:25, 8:31, 16:24, 23:83, 25:5, 27:68, 46:17, 68:15, 83:13), khurafat (   ), kadhb (p.992 12:18, 16:86, 20:223, 58:2; p. 993 18:5), lahw (p. 1047 15:3, 80:10, 102:1), and wahm (   ). It condemns intellectual stagnation that manifests as taqlid (p. 244 2:170, 5:104, 21:52-54, 26:74-77, 26:136-137, 31:21, 34:43, 37:69-71, 38:7, 43:22-24). It warns against mistakes, khata (p. 453 4:112, 17:31, 28:78, 29:12, 33:5, 55:39, 81:8-9), and forgetting, nisyaan (p. 1218 2:44, 2:106, 2:237, 2:282, 5:135, 5:14, 6:41, 6:44, 7:51, 7:53, 7:165, 9:67, 16:70, 18:57, 18:61, 18:63, 18:73, 19:23, 20:88, 20:115, 20:126, 22:5, 23:110, 25:18, 28:77, 32:14, 36:78, 38:26, 39:8, ?:34, 59:19, 87:6). It warns against diseases of the heart, amradh al qalb, that can color and distort objective observation and interpretation resulting in bias. It teaches practical measures for avoiding mistakes such as insisting on a written record and calling witnesses. It calls for use of evidence by use of the following terms: burhan (p. 190-191 2:111, 3:151, 4:144, 4:174, 6:81, 7:33, 7:71, 10:68, 11:96, 12:17-18, 12:24-28, 12:40, 14:10-11, 18:15, 22:71, 23:45, 23:117, 24:4, 24:13-15, 27:21, 27:64, 28:32, 28:75, 30:35, 37:156, 40:23, 40:35, 40:56, 44:19, 51:38, 52:38, 53:23, 78:6-16), daliil (   ), bayyinat (   ), tathabbut (   ), and sidq (nisa: 83, Hujraat:18), and hujjat  ( ).



Islamic teachings about building and maintaining a civilisation are based on three concepts that will be discussed later in the manual: istikhlaf, taskhir, and isti’imar. Technology is applied science in the practical arena of civilisation building. The concept of ‘ilm nafei underlies the imperative to transform basic knowledge into useful technology.




The traditional Islamic sciences especially fiqh have had a major impact on the Muslim mind all down the centuries and in all parts of the Muslim world. They can even now be a springboard for originality in the evolution of a Muslim methodology. The major sciences or methodological tools discussed below are: ‘ilm al tafsir al ‘ilmi, ‘ilm al tafsir al mawdhu’i,  ‘ilm al nasikh wa al mansuukh, ‘ilm al jarh wa al ta’adiil, ‘ilm naqd al hadith, qiyaas, istihbab, istihsan, istislah, maqasid al sharia, and qawaid al fiqh.


B. SCIENCES OF THE QUR'AN, 'uluum al Qur'an


Tafsir ilmi concentrates on verses of the universe, ayaat al kawn. The scope of tafsir ilmi is empirical implications of the verses for example those that deal with the study of the origin of the universe, shape of the earth, the 7 heavens and earths, life on other planets, and origin of man. There are new and old controversies about the appropriateness of tafsir ‘ilmi. The discipline can be approached in a positive and a negative way. Positively it can help increase iman by revealing the power of the creator. It can also be a source of methodology. Negatively it can be lead to confusion when it is used as showing the scientific miracles of the Qur’an, ijaz ilmi li al Qur’an. Such misuse of tafsir ‘ilmi is due to poor science or poor understanding of the Qur’an as will be discussed in volume 5 of this series. Tafsir ‘ilmi has a parallel in empirical research. It relates to the exercises of data interpretation. The process involved is the same, finding a scientific explanation for given data or information.



Tafsir Maudhui tries to discover and explain the internal consistency in the Qur’an that may not be apparent to the casual reader. It is an intellectual challenge to sort out relations among things. The problem is that it is not static tafsir. New developments in society and technology give rise to new subjects matter that can make us have a different and new look at the Qur’an. The methods of tafsir maudhui  include: looking at a sura as one subject,  and looking for verses on one subject in the whole Qur’an. Tafsir maudhui, like tafsir ‘ilmi, relates to data interpretation. In both tafsir and empirical scientific research an attempt is made to reach conclusions from given data that may sometimes not be complete.



‘Ilm al naskh wa al mansuukh: Naskh is a matter of study in Qur’anic, hadith, and usul al fiqh. There is agreement that Qur’an abrogates Qur’an, that Qur’an abrogates sunnat, and that sunnat abrogates sunnat. There is no agreement on whether sunnat mutawaatirat can abrogate the Qur’an. The Qur’an itself acknowledges naskh (p 56 2:106, 16:101, 22:52, 41:30, 105:3).  Naskh in relation to the Qur’an has 3 meanings: (a) Abrogation of previous revelations and books by the Qur’an. (b) Textual abrogation of verses of the Qur’an like the verse of rajm but with continuation of their practical application. (c) Abrogation of a verse of the Qur’an by a later verse as text, application or authority. The theory of naskh has given rise to a lot of controversies most of them unnecessary. Some scholars assert that it does not exist and reconcile the ‘abrogated’ and ‘abrogating’ verses proving thereby absence of any abrogation. Among those who accept the occurrence of abrogation, there are disputes about which verses were abrogated. Some scholars look at abrogation as making the general particular for example are the verse on the complete ban on alcohol was a more specific command that abrogated an earlier verse that was a more general prohibition in that it forbade prayer only while intoxicated.


Interpretation of naskh: If we take spatio-temporal circumstances into consideration the problem of naskh becomes clearer. Our inclination is to the opinion of scholars who assert the eternal validity of the Qur’an and to explain naskh as a consequence of the revelation of the Qur’an in a dynamic and changing society and over a period of 23 years. Abrogating verses came to address people at a different level of development without necessarily making the abrogated ones invalid. The later verse elaborates or amends the previous one. The first verse could find application in spatio-temporal circumstances comparable to those in which it was revealed. Looking at it from an only legal context has complicated the discourse about naskh. This context requires that only one unique law be operative at a time and the previous laws would be rendered completely useless. The conceptual confusion about naskh can be resolved when this legalistic context is ignored.


Theory of nasakh and scientific progress: The theory of naskh is very relevant to the progress of science in which new discoveries are continually updating previous theories. Abandoned theories still have a grain of truth and can be a correct explanation of phenomena at a certain level. Study of atoms started with the theory that the atom was the smallest indivisible particle of matter. This is still valid when we consider ordinary chemical reactions. Later discoveries of sub-atomic particles revealed that the atom is not the smallest particle but this did not make any changes in the basic concepts of the ordinary chemical reactions. The initial laws of conservation of energy and conservation of mass are valid for routine engineering applications but invalid when nuclear fusion of fission are considered. Newtonian laws of motion are valid  for most ordinary low-speed motion but have to be supplanted by the relativity-based laws when high velocities and accelerations are involved.


C. SCIENCES OF THE HADITH, uluum al hadith


The component of jarh wa al ta’adil most related to empirical science is ‘ilm al rijaal which is unique to the ummat and can be a major contribution to science. A hadith narration is accepted on the condition that the narrator has adaalat (the narrator is a Muslim, adult, not immoral, and has social respectability, muruat the narrator has good memory and accuracy, dhabt. The following contradict adaalat: disbelief, kufr, being a minor, sabiyy, immoral character/conduct, fisq, innovation in religion, mubtadiu, telling lies in ordinary conversation, kadhib fi hadith al naas, and financial benefit from saying hadith. The biographer, muarrikh, writes biographies of men. He looks for the following traits: truthfulness, sidq; reporting literally, lafdh; and not by meaning, ma’ana;, mentioning the source of information; good expression; knowledge of the meanings of words; good overall understanding of all what concerns the subject; and not being influenced by personal whims, hiwa al nafs. The biographer must have personal knowledge of his subject (knowledge, religion, and other attributes). It is important that the character of the investigator be known in order to trust his word.


The modern scientific community has done a good job of policing itself. Other scientists in the same discipline crosscheck research reports before they are published. They try to replicate the methods. This has however not prevented cases of scientific fraud to occur from time to time. The matter may be as serious as ‘cooking’ data or may be less serious like publishing favorable results and hiding the less favorable one thus giving a false picture of the reality. The science of narrators, ‘ilm al rijaal, can be a source of guidance on how to bring up an ethical scientist who can be trusted to tell the truth always. This science protected the ummah from many false hadiths that could have been transmitted.



This branch of hadith science is concerned with building paradigms that will be used in checking whether an individual hadith is valid as well as checking its internal and external consistency. There are basically two approaches (a) Critique of the text, naqd al matn, involves looking for ‘illat in hadith and whether it differs from established and trusted narrators (b) Critique of the chain of transmitters, naqd al sanad, involves: the integrity of the narrator, adalat al raawi, accuracy of the narrator, dhabt al raawi, and continuity of the chain of transmission, ittisaal al sanad. There are several categories of hadith depending on the classification criteria used: good, hasan;, weak, dhaif;, continuous chain, muttasil;, discontinuous chain, munqatiu;, mursal, mu’udhal, mudalas, mawquuf, marfu’u, shaadh, mu’allal. The paradigms of ‘ilm naqd al hadith can be used to inculcate attitudes of critical reading and examination of scientific literature. Such attitudes will ensure that only the most valid and rigorously done scientific work finds acceptance. It will also set up a challenge to scientists who do their best in the full knowledge that the readership is very critical.


D. SCIENCES OF THE LAW, uluum al fiqh


Qiyaas is a type of ijtihad. Qiyaas, or legal syllogism, is a type of systematic reason, ra’ay. Qiyaas is logical deduction or induction from the Qur’an  and sunnat. Dr Sulaiman Daud referred to qiyaas as an Islamic empirical methodology. He analyzed the writings of the following European thinkers on empiricism: Roger Bacon (1214-129 CE), Francis Bacon (1561-1626 CE), David Hume (1711-1776 CE), and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873 CE). He concluded that qiyaas usuuli is in conformity with the modern empirical scientific method. Both qiyaas usuuli and the empirical methodology look for causes, ‘illat. We need to return qiyaas to its simplicity away from the legalistic complexity imposed by the fuqaha. This will be the start of using it to motivate and develop a scientific culture in the ummah. Examples of qiyaas in empirical research are: results of drug trials in animals being applied to humans, and findings on drug toxicity in terminally ill patients being applied to the healthy



Istihbab is continuation of an established law that has not been revoked or rescinded. It is the principle of maintaining the status quo on the basis of accompanying circumstances. The concept of istihbaab is comparable to scientific laws and theories that are considered working explanations or hypotheses until disproved.



Istihsan is acceptance of a rule because of its superior equity on comparison with an already established law. Ahmad Hasan defined it as preferential reasoning, the principle that equitable considerations may override strict analogy. It can also be looked at as ‘unreasoned preference’. Istihsan finds applications in clinical work. Clinicians after many years of experience can gain an intuition that should be respected because in the end it has an empirical basis. They can correctly prefer their intuition to new empirical evidence.



Istislah is to seek a legal ruling by reasoning on the basis of public interest, maslahat. Maslahat mursalat is the basis for istislah. Maslahat mursalat refers to any interest/benefit that falls within the purposes of the lawgiver, maqasid al sharei, and was not mentioned in the law in a specific or generic sense. The concept of istislah can find application in decisions involving choosing one medical technology or treatment modality over another. A less effective technology could be preferred if that is in the public interest.



Ijma is defined as unanimous agreement of the jurists of the community of a particular age on a legal issue. It is infallible. It is not subject to reason. The assumption is that the whole community cannot concur on an error. This is similar to the generally accepted stand that consensus among empirical researchers who have special expertise in their area has authority even if not backed by direct experimental data.



The Discipline of the purposes of the law, ‘Ilm maqasid al shariat: The theory of maqasid provides a high-level or a bird’s eye view of the law from the context of its higher purposes and not the mechanics or details. The 5 purposes of the law, maqasid al sharia, are preservation of:  din, nafs, 'aql, nasl, and maal. These 5 can define the scope and objectives of technology. Maqasid al sharia are more relevant to applied than to basic science. Al Ghazzali and his teacher al Juwayni were pioneers of maqasid al shari’at. Al Shatibi elaborated and systematized al Ghazzali’s ideas. The maqasid theory can transform the Muslim mind from pre-occupation with parts and branches to dealing with the big or large issues, from structures to ends and goals, from taqlid to innovations. Al Shatibi maintained that maqasid were derived from nass by induction, istiqra. The maqasid can provide the Muslim mind with high-level conceptual tools that can be used to understand and use science and technology for overall benefit of humans and the ecosystem.



The Principles of the law, qawaid al fiqhiyyat al kulliyat /al qawaniin al usuliyyat): Al qawaid al fiqhiyyat are simple rules akin to mathematical axioms derived directly from the primary sources of law. They simplify the logical or reasoning operations involved In complex situations. The axioms can be stated and used without having to go through their complicated derivation.


Go to Part II

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. December 2000