Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Method of Study in Islam

The following is a translation from the Usul Al-Fiqh masterpiece of the Arabic book “The Islamic Personality -  Volume 1” by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani. Please refer to the original Arabic for accurate meanings. 



The Islamic culture has a method of study, and this method is summarised in three points:

First: That the study should be deep until the matters are correctly comprehended because this culture is conceptually deep rooted and its study requires patience and forbearance. Since culturing oneself with it is an intellectual process which requires mental exertion to comprehend them because it requires the comprehension of its sentences, cognizance of its reality and its linkage with information through which this reality is understood. This is why it is essential to acquire it intellectually. For instance, the Muslim is obliged to adopt his creed through ration and not by unquestioning submission. So, the study of whatever relates to the basis of the creed inevitably requires an intellectual process at the time of study. The Shari’ah rules have been addressed in the Qur’an and hadīth. So, to deduce the Shari’ah rules the use of the intellectual process is imperative. Through it, the problem, the relevant text and its application on the problem is understood. For this the intellectual process is indispensable. Even the layman (‘aammi) who adopts the hukm without knowledge of its evidence needs to understand the problem and understand the hukm which has been brought to solve it so that he does not adopt the hukm which is for a problem other than the problem to which the hukm applies. It is imperative that he utilises the intellectual process. Therefore, to culture oneself with the Islamic culture, whether he is a mujtahid or layman (‘aammi) he must receive the culture intellectually. This will not be possible except through the intellectual process and by exerting of ones utmost.

Second: The student should believe in what he studies so that he acts upon it i.e, he definitely believes the truths he is studying without any doubts creeping in, if it relates to the ‘aqeeda and he should have the least amount of doubt that it applies to the reality if it is from the non-‘aqeeda issues such as rulings and morals, but they must be founded on a basis in which he has a definite belief with no doubt. Whatever the case, belief in what the student adopts from what he studies is a condition, Belief either in what he adopts or in the origin of what he adopts, the adoption of culture in any other manner is not permitted. It is through making the belief the basis of adopting culture that the Islamic culture is found to settle down in an excellent and distinguished manner. It is deep and at the same time stimulating and effective giving the student a blazing energy thereby igniting a fire which devours corruption and emits a light which illuminates the path to well-being. The definite belief in these thoughts ensures a definite linkage which naturally takes place within man, between his reality and the concepts he has about things which are linked to these thoughts in their capacity as meanings about life. So with these thoughts he moves with eagerness and zeal towards action. This extraordinary effect of the culture on people’s minds will take place when the emotions (contained by the thought) move towards the reality because to believe in it constitutes the linkage of emotions with their concepts then the movement (towards action) takes place.

Third: The student should study the process of treating the reality that is comprehended and perceptible, it should not be a study based on theoretical suppositions, such that he describes things as they are in their true form in order to treat it and change it. He should take the existing facts about man, life and universe which he senses or he can sense and study them in order to treat them and give the ruling with regards to them until he can determine his position regarding it in terms of whether to adopt it leave it or have the choice whether to adopt or leave it. Thus, Islam does not allow people to follow theoretical assumptions. For example: What if people live on Mars, how can they fast the month of Ramadhan there? There is no moon there so as to have the month of Ramadhan! Only the person on earth he is subject to the address (khitab) and he must witness the month of Ramadhan and he must fast that month. However, the cloud might prevent the people from seeing the moon so he passes a judgement for this event when it occurs. Hence, the Messenger (saw) said:

صوموا لرؤيته، وأفطروا لرؤيته، فإن غُبِّي عليكم فاكملوا عدة شعبان ثلاثين

When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadhan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwal), stop fasting; and if the sky is overcast (and you can't see It) then regard the crescent (month) of Ramadhan (as of 30 days).’ [Extracted by Bukhari]

 Therefore, it is stipulated in adopting the culture that it be real and not fanciful or theoretical. And that it should be studied in order to act upon it when its reality occurs in his life not for the purpose of knowing its beauty or for the sake of mere intellectual gratification.

This is the method of Islam in study which is an in-depth study and belief in what is arrived at by study or belief in what is being studied and realistically adopting it to apply it in the battlefield of life. If the conditions of the method of study are met then the Muslim who has cultured himself with the Islamic culture will have deep thinking with a sharpened sensitivity and be able to solve lifes problems. This ensures the Muslim naturally follows the path of perfection, willingly and with choice, He will not deviate from it as long as he proceeds according to this method because the Islamic thoughts he adopts from this culture are stimulating, effective, based on reality, true and effective solutions for problems. In addition to setting the one cultured by it aflame with zeal, it gives the Muslim an extraordinary ability to face the problems of life with solutions however great or small, easy or difficult they may be. Thus, a mentality (‘aqliyya) forms within him which can only be content when the mind is convinced and the heart is filled with tranquillity. At the same time an Islamic disposition (nafsiyya) forms within him filled with a belief which is consummate. And through this mentality (‘aqliyya) and disposition (nafsiyya) the person is characterised by excellent qualities which Islam demands from the Muslim and through this mentality (‘aqliyya) and disposition (nafsiyya) he overcomes all the difficulties that stand as obstacles in his way. This is due to what we see in the substance of this Islamic culture in terms of deep and enlightened thoughts and due to them being based on the ‘aqeeda which represents man’s comprehension of his relationship with Allah (swt). So, the Islamic culture is either from Allah (swt) or deduced from that which is from Allah (swt) in terms of the Quran and Sunnah. It has an intellectual aspect in terms of it being a thought, and at the same time it has a spirit (ruh) in terms of realising the relationship with Allah (swt) when he adopts the culture in its capacity as coming from Allah (swt). Thus, it ensures that anyone cultured by it has deep and enlightened thought with a burning, fiery enthusiasm. He sells himself to Allah (swt) in the path of Islam seeking the Good Pleasure of Allah (swt). Also, you will find that the one cultured by the Islamic culture knows what he wants and knows how to solve the problems of life because he has learnt the truth with which he faces the battlefield of life. Thus, he plunges into the trials and tribulations of life. He has been endowed with the best of provisions which is the enlightened thought, taqwa (fear of Allah (swt)), and knowledge which solves all problems. This is the culture which brings together all that is good.

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