Islamic Thought and Research Methods
The way in which a researcher schedules and performs his research work has its own direct influence on the outcome of the scientific product. Therefore, the research should be built on a solid ground of sound methods and suitable to the subject in question that the researcher probes into. So, the research will be more fruitful and positive, besides leading along the lines of correct and accurate results; with regard to the scientific side; moreover, it helps the discovery and formation of scientific rules and principles.
Elsewhere, the scientific research methods have been defined as follows: `The approach that is utilized by scientists to plan the scientific bases and draw a conclusion about the knowledge obtained in light of those rules.'(2) The method of research has its own influence and plays a great role in the originality of thought, as well as, in the safety of contemplation, information, theories and deduced concepts. Therefore, if the method of research and thinking is not an Islamic one or does not, at least, go along with its tendency, the effects will be too wrong to unite with the Islamic spirit.
The research methods of science and knowledge are in two parts due to their nature:
- All General Methods (logical ones):
These are general approaches, for scientific research, which deal with all science and human knowledge that are in common.
- All Private Methods (technical ones):
They are special styles, for scientific research, which specialize in a certain science such as; history, physics, belief, philosophy, jurisprudence principles, etc. It is obvious that there are some basic principles in common use among all the sciences and human knowledge; that is to say, the whole logical rules that the logic science deals with. Therefore, logic science is defined as follows: `A science for teaching all the other general rules; on the basis of sound thinking'.
It is of great importance, among all the various research, that the joint, scientific thinking methodology commence from the point where any case has seemingly concluded until it can be proved by absolute evidence, and to become a reason for agreeing with the causation principle and justification based on human thinking which follows, naturally, along the path of logical rules. When we use those principles, in a case, (i.e., the logic rule and sound thinking) for scientific research and in every science or any other field of thinking, it means that the researches are being performed due to correct bases and provide fruitful results.
It, also, becomes apparent that every science or knowledge has its own, suitable research, which may be used by the scientists and researchers to deal with a certain subject. So, the research methods that touch on the material sciences, such as: medicine, physics and chemistry is quite different from the one concerning history, sociology, philosophy, belief, etc.
When we prepare to do research into Islamic thought; i.e., the creed, jurisprudence principles, interpretation, policy, economy, sociology, ethics, history and narration; we should first consider the specification of the scientific basis for the research methods to reach a strict, scientific conclusion and that it be sound with regard to the Islamic characteristic. In other words, we should establish, in our mind, that we are going to fulfill two criteria in performing research, theories and Islamic studies as follows:
With Scientism and Realism
With Islamic Originality and Commitment
After this introduction, we will become quite sure, that there are general, scientific principles that combine with all other research and study or scientific theory, whether they are material ones; like physics, medicine, astronomy and chemistry or human ones; such as, economy, ethics, philosophy, creed, sociology, jurisprudence, law, history, etc., in so much as all those sciences have worked, reciprocally, due to key axioms and principles. For instance, the agreement with the causality law and with non-contradiction, as well as, setting aside any case until it can be proved correctly by evidence, etc. Therefore, all the sciences and knowledge would start from those axioms and bases; just like the physical research and belief in a supreme creator, as well as, the other historical, jurisprudential, geometrical, medical studies, etc.
The mentioned fact was approved by many scientists and researchers of natural sciences; as well as, those in the human and divine sciences. Let us put forward some of those views, thus:
As a fact, for the studied sciences, man has used the mechanism idea and it is identified as one of his instruments and means. So, when he talks, for example, about the mechanism of the body, he is going to perform his research on the basis of the causality principle (i.e., a cause and effect principle) that deals with the unity of the universe along with its own order and regulation.
He is as any other human being in undertaking a certain decision or even thinking about matters on the grounds of a causality principle.(3) It leads to no astonishment, if you see that the causality law - which is considered a main principle for understanding the material universe phenomena; and is, also, the only law that has a lead control over the plants and animals, as well as, the human mind - is the same law that leads us to realize the values of the natural, moral law which are built upon justice, mercy, rights, responsibilities and beauty, as it is, itself, the law that leads us to the realization of Allah's existence.(4)
It is appropriate, here, to draw your attention to the deduction method that is used in mathematics, thus: Usually, when dealing with geometry, we can reproduce abundant theories with regard to only a few fundamental truths or those proved suppositions that we agree with, without objection or debate, whatsoever, as to the degree of their correctness. So, at first, the scientists would accept the axioms in line with pursuing their requirements and the results that were caused by them.
For instance, when we approve a certain theory we find that its proof, which goes without saying, finally depends on the axioms or concerns involved. Thus, with regard to Allah's (Exalted be His Name) existence, it is something axiomatic in respect to the philosophical view. Therefore, the deduction, by the help of a few theories, regarding Allah's existence - as in a geometric proving - does not lead to proving the axioms,
but how to start them. So, if there was an agreement between this axiom and those various facts, which we deal with about the cosmos and its law, there would be an evidence on the trueness of the axiom we have chosen...(5) This fact follows thus: The logical principles - which all scientific deductions are based on being taken from either observation or experience - are the same ones that the deduction about proving the existence of the Creator and Administrator has relied on throughout the whole management and wisdom phenomena, that this world is designated with.
Therefore, this deduction is from other scientific ones - i.e., it is inductive in nature - and it is as an application to the general method that is preliminary to the inductive evidence known by us.
So, man is on either one of two sides: He is either refusing the scientific deduction as a whole or agreeing with it by way of giving inductive deduction the same level of value regarding proving the existence of the Maker; the same being given to the scientific deduction. Thus, we have proved that both science and faith are connected at their logical and inductive base and cannot be - due to the logical view of induction - separated.(6)
Here, we can understand that Islamic thought and research methods, in all respects, have shared in all material and natural sciences, as well as, with the general principles, and have been dependent upon them. So, if the Islamic researcher, who intends to study the Islamic creed or discover any theory, for example, in ethics, economy, art, sociology, policy, behaviour, psychology, etc., should act in accordance with the following:
The general principles of logical research methods.
The private principles of that science and, also, knowledge, such as; interpretation, narration and belief. By coordinating the general and private principles, the Islamic researcher will be able to provide himself with a sound method of scientific and investigative research, as well as, being able to plan the Islamic theory and thought on the basis of correct and scientific principles.
The methodology of research and Islamic thought are based on two main topics:
- The approved mental axioms
The true Islamic wholeness and principles, such as; the Qur'anic verses or the correct traditions of the Prophet (s.a.w.), etc. The Islamic thinker and the researcher who delves into human knowledge and sciences on the grounds of Islamic principles would deal with the following themes and aspects:
The study of the human and social reality coupled with the individual's needs in his personal and social life.
Religion (i.e., the Holy Qur'an, the Prophet's traditions and aspects that are elicited from them). The researcher should depend, in his studies, research and theories, on the Islamic view that is mentioned in the Holy Qur'an and the Prophet's traditions which clearly define the scientific fact of human life and its regulation.
When we think, deeply, about these facts and the way they are studied, we shall see that religion is a set of laws, thoughts, values and concepts that organize the direction of thought, self and society, as well as, behaviour.
All Islamic thought, theories and studies, which touch on the social and human reality, work within the limits of the circle of Islamic religion and are due to the principles and contemplated decisions which are determined by this supreme, great religion.
The Islamic scholars have designed the scientific methods, as well as, the ways of research and thinking that lead to Islamic conclusions and committed thoughts. Also, the scholars have used both methods of induction and analogy as instruments for analyzing and deducing ideas and results on an accurate and widespread basis. It is worth mentioning that these two methods (induction and analogy) are in common use on all levels of human material knowledge and sciences. Hereinafter, we would mention some applied examples on the usage of the two (induction and analogy) methods, by the Islamic researcher, to obtain some Islamic concepts as follows:
Induction that relies on the basis of physical observation and experience.
Discovering the carefully considered and scientific conclusion (general law of discovery).
After the process of the general law of discovery has been performed; the stage of employing the analogy method (i.e., the way of applying the general law due to similar, partial states) will take place next.
So, the first step is the induction, as was mentioned before, which is the base method for proving Allah's (glory be to Him) existence; who is the fundamental subject in Islamic thought and, of which, is as follows:
- If we take under discussion the matter of proving Allah's existence, we can see that the proof depends on examining all the particulars of the universe and creatures via observation and experience, and the same induction leads to discovering a principal scientific conclusion called the `causality law', which is used to determine the link between causes and effects (i.e., raison d'etre). So, by applying analogy (the analogy of the world, as a whole,
on the basis of its particulars) we will come to the fact of interpretation of the world's beginning due to that total law (i.e., the causality law), then, we can prove, in this case, that there is only an initial, original cause, in founding the world, that all the other causes have met with and we call this `Allah' (glory be to Him). 2. In addition, the two (analogy and induction) methods are used in belief and mental sciences, on the one hand, and on the other hand, they are employed in the economic sciences theories studies and psychology, as
well as, to find out the psychological and social knowledge and sciences so as to be able to analyze the societal history, human conduct and so on.
If we want to discover, for example, the laws of political economics and interpret the economic phenomena throughout the whole Islamic society (the society that applies the Islamic system as a rule), we would study the relationship law between supply and demand, production and prices, as well as, wages and unemployment, etc.
It is quite useful, here, to study those economic phenomena existing in the Islamic society which apply the Islamic economy theories, for we find ourselves unable to discover the Islamic political economics formulas except under the true Islamic application, because they are as a result of the public situation of the society (i.e., the ethics and Islamic verdicts) which is living under the Islamic system. So, we should consider the movement of the market and factories along with the relationship between the workers and the employers, besides the state of the product,
prices and unemployment, etc., and, then, by our daily observation and experience we will be able to discover the law of analogy, so that later on, we will discover the laws that effect those matters. We, then, specify the formulas of the Islamic political economics through applying both scientific induction and analogy methods.
- To study the Islamic society, for example, to plan a theory for Islamic sociology and search the society and social activities to detect, for instance, the civilized and social alteration; as well as, the development and degradation of the society and civilizations with the Islamic point of view. Therefore, the induction that is set up on the basis of observation and to study the individual, partial and social events is the real way that leads to discovering the sociology laws. So,
in such a discovery attempt, we should study the social status that is widespread in the society and which lives under the Islamic applied social formulas. We should analyze the structure of that society, together with the elements of its composition and formation with regard to the phenomena, the life styles and the relationship that prevail in it, by observation of specific events and practices along with the social relation and phenomena depending on the inductive method which is based on the grounds of observation, experience, statistics, deduction, generalization and analogy. In this way, we can form the skeletal structure and rules of the theory of Islamic sociology on the basis of Islamic views and concepts.
The Employment of Inductive Methods in Islamic Jurisprudence:
Scientific induction and analogy methods have a great deal of active participation in the deduction process. The induction is to pursue several partial states to detect a general rule which is acceptable to be applied in such similar states.
This methodology is applied in all sciences and knowledge, for instance, in medicine, chemistry, physics and language. Also, it is applied in proving Allah's existence, as well as, in jurisprudence and its principles, and likewise, in the Islamic theories; such as, economy, sociology, etc. Our aim in researching belief is to show how the induction and the scientific analogy method has been employed in the jurisprudence, justice, deduction, and Islamic thought theories, as well as, to express its role in forming and building the Islamic theories that are deduced by the Muslim intellectuals and jurists.
Thus, the scientific, methodical task should start with induction. That is to say, the researcher and intellectual should obtain a general rule and law to pursue many states and particular facts, then, he will shift to the analogy stage soon after he has realized the general rule. Therefore, analogy means `the applying of the general rule to all its evidence'.