“A man of two worlds: West and East, intelligently at ease in both but at peace with neither.”

Dr. Isma’il al-Faruqi’s approach to “Islamization of Knowledge”

Dr. Isma’il al-Faruqi attempted to articulate an Islamic worldview by fortifying it with rational and scientific arguments. In the latter part of his career, he became more and more concerned with the spiritual aspects of Islam. He advocated a radical Islamization of new knowledge. He recognized that the crisis of the modern world was the crisis of knowledge. And this crisis, al-Faruqi thought, could only be cured via a new synthesis of all knowledge in an Islamic epistemological framework. The “Islamization of Knowledge” project, as it was later know, sought to arouse Muslims to become active participants in intellectual life and contribute to it from an Islamic perspective.

Summarizing the approach of Ismail al-Faruqi, Ibrahim Kalin wrote in God, Life and the Cosmos (Ashgate, 2002 p. 60-61):

Ismail [al-]Faruqi’s work known under the rubric of “Islamization of knowledge” is a good example of how the idea of method or methodology (manhaj and manhajiyyah, the Arabic equivalents of method and methodology, which are the most popular words of the proponents of this view) can obscure deeper philosophical issues involved in the current discussions of science. Even though [al-]Faruqi’s project was proposed to Islamize the existing forms of knowledge imported from the West, his focus was exclusively on the humanities, leaving scientific knowledge virtually untouched. This was probably due to his conviction that the body of knowledge generated by modern natural sciences is neutral and as such requires no special attention.

Thus, [al-]Faruqi’s work and that of [International Institute of Islamic Thought] IIIT after his death concentrated on the social sciences and education. This had two important consequences. First, [al-]Faruqi’s important work on Islamization provided his followers with a framework in which knowledge (`ilm) came to be equated with social disciplines, thus ending up in a kind of sociologism. The prototype of [al-]Faruqi’s project is, we may say, the modern social scientist entrusted as arbiter of the traditional `Alim. Second, the exclusion of modern scientific knowledge from the scope of Islamization has led to negligent attitudes, to say the least, toward the secularizing effect of the modern scientific world view. This leaves the Muslim social scientists, the ideal-types of the Islamization program, with no clue as to how to deal with the questions that modern scientific knowledge poses. Furthermore, to take the philosophical foundations of modern, natural sciences for granted is tantamount to reinforcing the dichotomy between the natural and human sciences, a dichotomy whose consequences continue to pose serious challenges to the validity of the forms of knowledge outside the domain of modern physical sciences.

4 Comments for “Dr. Isma’il al-Faruqi’s approach to “Islamization of Knowledge”

  • ABDUL RAZAK MOHD AMIn 8 07 pm 4 Nov
    2010

    aSSALAMUALAIKUM.When I read the book on Western Intellectual tradition twenty years ago I feel the need for Islamization of knowledge sprang to my mind.
    Dr.Ismail Faruqi’s insistence on such project is timely intervention.
    We have to be reminded that Muslims of the present era are on the track of recovery after long slumber of intellectual dormant.The world of Islam must organize a credible institutions compiling all knowledge for the purpose of tracking such derailment of Islamicity.With oil money many Muslim countries are in the right positi
    on to finance such undertaking,God willing.

  • I would like suggestions from you the title of my thesis on Islamic thought or Islamic education

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