Islamic Theory

Islam is a divine law and an inspiration that has been revealed to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), by Allah, and all that is mentioned in both the Qur'an and the purified sunnah, are the absolute facts and the real, scientific laws.

The Holy Qur'an and sunnah are, also, the real law for human life and the personified formula for its realities. So, Islam considers that there is a self-characteristic and description for every subject that deals with human life. Every object of human life, whether it be good and useful, with an interest behind it, to be ultimately achieved in life or that it be bad and evil, with an implied damage behind it which causes corruption and is against the aim of the Islamic law, is addressed in this law's stance of `granting benefits and preventing corruption'.

As a result of this, the Islamic law has taken the responsibility to diagnose a suitable verdict for every subject in life and describe everything with respect to its actual state. So, `the superior opinion' has been nominated as `the accused-error principle', i.e., Allah holds power over every event, and diagnoses the self-evident truth of that subject with regard to the beauty or ugliness, the goodness or wickedness, the benefit or corruption of it.

Diligent research may be either successful in finding out the particular verdict through factual discovery or be mistaken in its conclusions. At this point, the act of the jurist or researcher, in respect to the scientific view, is like the act which is performed by the scientist of medicine, astronomy and physics; a kind of experiment with lawful discovery. Therefore, diligent research is going to be subject to mistakes and may not deal with the reality or even diagnose it.

It is clear, that the subjects of the verdicts are human actions and different human activities and relations. The verdicts have a serious role in correcting and purifying humans, so, the Islamic verdicts, as they are presented in the jurisprudence books and many juristic encyclopedias, have the possibility of containing every minute or great matter concerning human life, in all fields, such as; worship, policy, finance, economy, family, judiciary, land regulation, and labor laws, etc. The jurists have studied Islamic jurisprudence on the basis of four principal categories that contain all human activity, besides the topics of social life and these are as follows:

  1. Worship (ibadat): (prayer, fasting, hajj, zakat, etc.)
  2. Contracts ('oqud): (buying, selling, liability, marriage, etc.)

  3. Unilateral Instigations (iyqa'at): (divorce, vows, oaths, confession, etc.)

  4. Other Laws (ahkam): (retaliation, misappropriation, punishment, etc.)

We should know that everything mentioned in the Qur'an and sunnah is as an actual law, so, it is incorrect to describe it as theory, as the field of Islamic theory is dealing with deduction and diligence.

As a consequence of this, when we use the term `Islamic Theory', it means `the views and interpretations that are reached by the Islamic scholar, in a deligent way, to express or organize a certain case pertaining to the action and human activity', such as; policy, economy, sociology, history, ethics, personal conduct, family ties and, so on.

The theory and verdicts, along with the unchangeable Islamic values that deal with a certain subject, represent the Islamic doctrine in that regard. The collection of views, for example, and diligent, economic principles (i.e., theory) that deal with affairs of distribution, currency, consumption and ownership, in addition, to the other verdicts and stable values (as the taboo of usury and the necessity of justice) which deal with the economic affairs of life for fulfilling economic justice are called `The Islamic Economy Doctrine'. When the laws that are enacted apply to the Islamic Economy Doctrine, it is called `Islamic Political Economics'; with regard to policy, sociology and, so on.

The discoverer of the theory practices a diligent act when he conforms to the research methods and Islamic thinking. If the Islamic researcher wants to restrict the Islamic theory in regard to sociology, policy, psychology, economy, ethics, interpretation of history, and the like, he must collect all the information that is connected with his research in an attempt to help him to form the theory based on the two levels of the scientific research method, which was mentioned before; the general method and the private one, which is connected to that research.

An Applied Example

If the researcher, for example, wants to discover an Islamic theory on the philosophy of ethics and express views on moral actions, he must collect the suitable information and conform to the proper method of moral research, which differs, in many respects, from chemical and physical research. Therefore, the researcher should submit to some steps, as follows:

A. The induction of `Islamic Texts' should work on the basis of the Qur'an and sunnah; likewise, be classified by the researcher, according to their characteristics, as well as, their joint and implicit target within the complete principles. It is, also, necessary for the researcher, in this regard, to view the Islamic and non-Islamic studies by submitting all the said studies to evaluation. B. The induction of human nature and man's psychological status should be undertaken by analyzing his primitive formation and the history of his life by examining his daily social practices, as well as, studying all the conditions involved and taking into consideration the external impacts that influence his behaviour, such as; the effects of environment, and the bodily chemical changes.

C. The reseacher can discover the practical values of human ethics through the experience of mankind, by depending on the induction method via social observation and by studying statistics on the problems, as well as, the social phenomena. To make a clear contrast, a study of the social status of two human societies can be performed and this being: (first) that society which believes in the ethics and abides by them, as in an Islamic society, and (second) that which does not believe in ethics and turns away from them; such as is the case in both Marxist and Capitalist societies.

D. By linking ethics and general philosophy together, in full view of the Islamic mission, with the believable concepts, as their given view is about the human being, life, divine justice and wisdom, in just the same way as is the hidden, primitive, psychological relation between man and his Creator, which is a tie of unconscious trend towards absolute divine perfection, we can, for instance, specify some of the governing bases of the moral theory, in Islam, as follows:

  1. Ethics are deeply affected by heritage, environment, education and acquisition.

  2. There are joint human psychological traits among individuals of the human species, as a whole, which typify the internal tendency in man to commit good or bad, virture or vice, etc.

  3. There are distinguishing characteristics among individuals that differ one from another. As a consequence, people are, also, different due to their own moral ranks.

  4. Man has both ability and capability to change his moral status by way of depending on the philosophical concept of choice and freedom, in Islam, by driving away fatalism, which is against divine justice.

  5. The human self has an unconscious tendency towards absolute perfection and integration, but, it may turn to the way of vice as long as it is corruptly guided to that particular direction; similar to what Allah has said in the Qur'an: "And pointed out to him the two conspicuous ways"( ), and "Surely We have shown him the Way : he may be thankful or unthankful"( ).

  6. The divine, moral ideal (i.e., the 99 attributes of Allah) is the model to be followed in man's life with regard to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) who has said: "Your should all adopt the manners of Allah."???

  7. To agree with the role of instinct by allowing it to have the natural right of satisfaction and it is necessary to submit it to the power of the mind and will.

  8. Observing the role of pain and pleasure affecting human behavior, whether it is psychological or physical. Also, they must be under the control of moral standards and values.

  9. It is impossible for a person; his behaviour, to be educated, ethically, separate from social life in the field of morals, such as; justice, tyranny, anger, puberty, lust, continence, unselfishness and selfishness, which are in the social life, itself. So, Islamic morals will be a social process, not individual ethics, within one aspect only. Thus, research could be performed when it is desired to theorize about a certain case or specify the outlines of a theory in Islamic thought.

Terminology and its Influence on Islamic Thought

Terminology Defined: Terminology means `a word which is used by people of a certain speciality to indicate an identified meaning that may cross someone's mind, first, when the same word has been stated'.

The Islamic mission is characterized as a transformation mission aimed at changing the whole ignorant reality, completely, including thoughts, concepts, creeds, disciplines, laws, values and morals, besides conduct. Moreover, to rebuild all the said issues on the basis of belief, thought, legislation and the divine values. So, it is something usual for that great mission to bear new concepts, ideas, and distinct contents, as well as, being quite natural for it to obtain its own terms and titles that distingush its personality and identity that makes us familiar with its meanings, as well as, its purpose in the fields of belief, morals legislation, politics, economics, social and general cultural thoughts, etc.

Some of those terms are as follows: monotheism, Lord, revelation, Resurrection Day, fasting, ablution, alms tax, prayer, pilgrimage (Hajj), imamate, oppressed people, haughty people, oppressor, Satan, hypocracy, apostasy, unbelief, guardianship, nation, sect, Jihad, martyrdom, succession, Allah's party, satan's party, taboo, unprohibited, missionary labor, enjoying the good and avoiding the bad, substitution, corruption, warrior, promisor, sincere man, pious man, believer, dissolute man, Sharia (Islamic Law), Islam, unseen world, religion, consultation and, so many other terms given by the Holy Qur'an, that are as meanings of private ideas and concepts.

These meanings differ, completely, from those that they had in the pre-Islamic era; which are still found and reserved in the current linguistic dictionaries in line with the heritage of the pre-Islamic Arabs according to their given linguistic meanings, since they have been commonly used by the Arabs with their own conceptions. So, those words have become as private Islamic terms which involve new senses and meanings, in addition to the clear concepts that give expression to the purposes of the Islamic mission. A mission which targets taking part in setting up the thoughts and views held by the Islamic vocation, as well as, aiming at transforming life and making a contemplated, psychological revolution and movement in it.

Of course, these new terms provide people with an idea, and leave a spiritual, psychological and intellectual effect, which paves the way for the Islamic and scientific terms to appear, such as; interpretation, beliefs, jurisprudence, principles, theology, philosophy, hadith science, ethics, philosophy and sociology, policy, finance, etc.

Thus, many Islamic terms have emerged, in all fields of knowledge, art and science, to give expression to Islamic thoughts and concepts introducing the faith, while having control over the orginality and purity of the information acquired and deepening the Islamic senses, as well as, providing a foundation for a distinctive Islamic press.

As for policy, economy, philosphy, psychology, sociology, art and literature, jurisprudence, law and other sciences, as well as, human knowledge, they have their own terminology similar to the existential, material and Marxist beliefs. It is a must for the Islamic writer, thinker, researcher and every Muslim when using the economic, political, scientific and ideological terms, to take benefit, at the same time, from the Islamic terminology that includes the essence of Islam and has the ability to keep the originality of the Islamic thought credible, and protect it from dependence, degradation and distinct identity loss.

Due to the importance of terminology and its idelogical and scientific value in life, the well-known contemporary thinkers and specialists of various philosophies and ideological doctrines have planned the books of terms, dictionaries, encyclopedia and definitions to restrict the identities of certain matters, and to define the concepts according to their own opinions and theories to such a degree that Islamic thinking not be subjected to much danger or have an absence of its own terminology in the contemporary, cultural and ideological fields.

The Islamic scholars have carefully studied vocabularies and terms, for centuries, due to their work with trying to understand the Shari'ah (Islamic Law) and revealing its ideas, together with limiting and expressing the concepts and themes, besides setting up the status of consequences, legal capacities and responsibilities upon them. So, they have divided the vocabularies into fact and metaphor.

Fact is defined as: `a usage of vacabulary with its actual meaning.(9)& Hence, every vocabulary has to indicate a certain meaning such as, water, stone, fasting, contradtiction, vocation, Jihad (holy war), injustice, hypocrisy, instinct, soul, etc. The well-known contemporary clerics ('ulama) of jurisprudence principles have divided `fact' into three parts and they are as follows:

I. The Legal Truth (legal terminology):

It is a word that is used, in particular, by the legislator to indicate a private meaning and is known as an intended, limited fact. Then, it becomes an indication of that private, legal meaning. For example, the word `prayer' had meant supplication (d'ua') in pre-Islamic times, but, when it was used by Islam, the meaning became `worship'. It brings to mind the meaning of `prayer', only, and not supplication, just as the terms fasting, pilgrimage (Hajj), zakat (alms tax), prophecy, etc., had prior meanings. The aforementioned words were used by the Arabs with meanings close to that which was offered by Islam, but they did not have the Qur'anic content. Then, after being used by the Holy Qur'an, they exactly expressed that meaning concerning the legal fact.

It was defined by Al-Shaikh al-Mashkinie as, "A word that is applied and proved by the legislator." So, if it is proved that the legislator has applied a word to a certain meaning - for instance, `prayer' which refers to the manner in which the daily prayers are performed, as well as, the terms `fasting', for an identified period; and `al-zakat (alms)' given to the poor - either by applying those words with regard to those meanings or by using them metaphorically; to become as a fact, later on and through repeated use, then, these words are legally proven fact with regard to their meanings, but, if there is no evidence on applying the words by either of the two methods, it is said that the legislator has not proven the legal fact of those words in conjunction with their meanings.(10)

II. The Linguistic Fact:

This is a word that liguistically stands for a certain meaning, for instance, the words killing, lying, etc. These words are referring to their own actual meanings due to the linguistic form.

III. The Conventional Fact:

It is a must to explain this fact to mention that there are some words that have certain meanings in one language, then, are replaced either by the society or the specialists - like the scientists, politicians, economists, businessmen and handicraftsmen, etc. - to special meanings and, then, are used and referred to in respect to those new concepts. So, they have their own meaning and intent which are quite clearly understood by the society or the specialists and differ in linguistic content than was allocated to them.

The word `policy', for example, due to language, means the `taming and care that is derived from grooming horses', but, becomes known, later on, as a private term used among politicians and society that deals with `the welfare and the running of the affairs of a nation'. In the same light, the analogy of the words' appreciation `and' policy' are used by scientists and in jurisprudence principles, the terminologists and researchers, as a scientific term used in deducing and researching methods. Also, the word `instinct' is derived from planting, and has the same concept as that of every thing being fixed in the ground or the body, but, it is used, here, as a scientific term that means the instinctive powers which have occupied the animal or human body at birth, such as; the instinct of self-love, sex and, so on.

Words are used, traditionally, in two ways, as follows:

A. The Public Tradition (the social tradition): Traditional facts that are derived from the public tradition used in social terms and the utterance is transferred from its linguistic meaning to the private and familiar one.

For instance, let us look at the term `bride' that is used in the society for indicating a woman's status at the time of her wedding and in the beginning of her marriage. The meaning of `bride', in linguistics, is derived from the word `al-Tarees' viz., the action of dwelling in a place over night; hence, the meaning given for `bride' is a person who dwells in a certain place during the night. The word is restricted, by society, with this meaning - due to the similarity between both meanings - which refers to the familiar custom, i.e., the transferring of the bride to the bridegroom's house at night.

B. The Private Tradition: (i.e., a tradition of specialists in science, crafts or art, etc., such as; the scientists of psychology, policy, finance, economy, physics, medicine, philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, trading, militarism, language, etc.) So, there are private terms for every science, art or knowledge used by those who deal with special subjects, to express their ideas and purposes. Hence, the traditional fact means the traditional term which is used by the specialist and social tradition.

In this regard, the well-known contemporary Muslim clerics ('ulama) have prepared the terms and the definitions that declare the understanding and the Islamic view that holds the thought and culture on Islam, thus, they succeeded in keeping the genuine independence of the Islamic thought. Finally, we can reach a principle fact, that is to say, all meanings of words are divided in two parts due to their evidence :

A. Lingustic meaning (i.e., the meaning of a word that is specifed by a linguist).

B. Terminological meaning (i.e., the meaning restricted by linguists, themselves).

As we have declared before, the most important thing that captures our attention, in this research, is the terminological part of the words which includes the legal and traditional terms. The legal term was prepared by the legislator to express special and definite meanings for making his intention of performing and not performing particular acts, as well as, judging the right and wrong - making acts more clearly understood for the listeners, that the concepts and topics not mix together and everything that is acceptable by the legislator becomes more obvious and definite.

Thus, the meaning of the legal and traditional term is limited to us. The legal term is dealing with the Islamic law only due to its limited landmarks, such as; the term for pilgrimage, Jihad (holy struggle), vocation, immigration, repentence, zakat (alms), fasting, prayers, khoms (paying one-fifth), booty, atheism, hypocrisy, sunnah of the Prophet, innovation, guidance, delusion, etc., so that there be little chance for them being exposed to falsification or replaced with another term.

In this way, the terms have remained genuine and pure with regard to their content, but, many of those terms - like guidance, delusion, atheism, hypocrisy, tyrant, arrogance, oppressing, Traditions, innovation and others of ideological, political and social content that have been used by the sacred legislators (the Holy Qur'an and sunnah) - are still not in wide circulation, nor are they expressed among the writers, Islamic thinkers or in the Muslim society, similar to the Islamic terms which have their own evidence suggesting ideology, religion, morals, and society, together with their educational and psychological influences on the Muslim man's personality and conduct.

As a consequence, the absence of those terms, which were replaced by other words, has a great role in decreasing the field of the Islamic culture and awareness, besides, nullifying many concepts, thoughts, and suggestions that those terms enriched. Also, the said absence of terms has taken part in replacing the non-Islamic concepts and thoughts with what the western terms have and is against the spirit and culture of Islam, such as; the use of communistic and capitalistic terms, and other material ones such as these, in the religious, political, lawful and moral fields, etc.

Due to this fact, we are all invited to seek benefit from the legal terms in order to stay with the originality and purity of the Islamic thought; moreover, to circulate the Islamic culture and education on the basis of Islamic concepts, via circulating and publishing the Islamic terms that carry Islamic thoughts and concepts.

In connection with the traditional terms, we should concern ourselves with the traditional terms that pertain to culture and the concepts that have their influence upon man's thinking and behaviour, such as the terms regarding politics and religion, along with the terms of psychology, sociology, economy, jurisprudence, law, general culture, and the like.

The unmixed scientific terms are those which do not belong to ideological doctrine or are not concerned with ideological, religious understanding, such as; the terms used for astronomy, botany, medicine, geometry, and chemistry, etc. In this way, it is possible to infer from the said facts that Muslim thinkers have their own Islamic terms with a characteristic message and ideological significance.

In addition, they have a working and religious sense - whether they have been made by the Holy Qur'an and sunnah (traditions) or by the well-known contemporary clerics ('ulama), Islamic intellectuals and jurisprudents or of that which caused them to be put into circulation throughout the Islamic society, as a way of keeping the cultural and ideological originality in the Islamic society. In general, we can divide the terms, of ideological and doctrinal origin, into three parts:

  1. Terms that hold counter content and thought to Islam; that have been made by the philosophers, theorists, and political-philosophical teachings to declare their thoughts and philosophies, as well as, the terms for historical materialism and dialectical relations, democracy, socialism, and, etc. For example, terms that contain a thought counter to the Islamic spirit, besides the fact that they bring out the anti-Islamic philosophies and theories.

As a consequence of this, we cannot make use of them nor take benefit from them to express our feelings and concepts, because they are neither in harmony with the Islamic thought, with its philosophy and message, nor do they bring out the concepts and thoughts of it. 2. Some terms that have a literal association other than the spirtual one, such as; the terms policy, authority, intellect, soul, instinct, faction, nation, homeland and other such terms of philosophy, economics, jurisprudence, culture, etc.

So, the mentioned terms are common in use among the Muslim thinkers, on the one hand, and on the basis of letter only, among the non-Muslims, on the other hand, but, they both enter into an argument about the meaning and understanding of those terms. For instance, the concepts of policy, authority, mind, instinct, faction, soul, nation, homeland, etc., have their contents in Islam which are different from those in the non-Islamic theories and philosophies. So, the definitions have been made together with books of terms, dictionaries and the encyclopedias to concentrate on their ideas and private culture.

It is suitable, here, to quote what was written by Henry Wales about Baflof's philosophy in his talking about the term `instinct' via explaining its role in the trans-thoughts process and to what degree it is linked with philosophical terminology along with thought and creed, thus: "Some of the unconditional reflexive actions - like the ones just mentioned - are simple reflex actions and some of them seem compound and in successive rings like the immigration of birds that extends for thousands of miles or similar to the complex construction process that is carried out by ants or honeybees building their hive which was traditionally called `instincts'.

In this regard, we quote Baflof, the philosopher, as saying: "We prefer the word denoting reflex action because it throws more light on determinism and it can show us a clear image round the connection between the stimulus with the response and the cause with the effect. The same word used for the reflex action can, also, interpret the meaning of the very interlocking conduct that is represented by the processes of the successive rings, as well as, the mixing of the outcome that is a compound of simple elements in such a manner that the end of one of them can be considered as a stimulus for the beginning of the next one".

So, the word for the reflex action is a decisively limited scientific term and it is possible to submit it to experiment, simplification and exact detailing. This is opposite to the term of `instinct', for it is never exactly limited; moreover, it is replete with unseen vital and metaphysical meanings. But, in respect to Baflof's concept about reflex actions, it is large enough to contain the whole complex construction of the reflexes that may happen as a response. Therefore, so that nothing be left out; to force us to create a particular set of phenomena we use the word `instinct'".(11)

In a word, the whole aspect of animal conduct can be interpreted on the basis of the physiological concept for reflex action and response, to the point where we are compelled to use the term `instinct', which is ambiguous and all-inclusive of everything.

The said presentation has given us the reason behind the change for the term instinct, presented by Baflof, because it contains some concepts that deal with the faith in God, as well as, bringing to light His effect on His creatures.

So, if the term `instinct' has been proved by him and given a natural definition it means that he has proved a divine concept which is against his desire in proving either divine thought or recognizing it.

Hence, he did his best to change this term and replace it with another one for fear that it would lead to divine thoughts or feeling them. In spite of his understanding of the concept of `instinct', due to his point of view, he spared no effort, in this regard, to replace it with another one for fear that it would lead to the concepts of the metaphysical and the unseen.

Another example is suitable to mention, here, and that is the term `policy' which is used, jointly, by the Muslim and non-Muslim thinkers with regard to its verbal aspect. However, the term `policy' has a concept and meaning, in Islam, different from that given by the other political and ideological doctrines.

The Islamic notion is that the term `policy' means `the welfare and managing of the nation's affairs , while, in some other doctrines it means `struggling for power' or `an art of state rule' or in still others it has the meaning of `the art of ruling human societies'. So, what is the real meaning of `policy', when there is a difference between the Islamic thought of `the welfare and running the affairs of the nation' and the view of the other theories, `a struggle for power' or `the art of ruling the state and society'?

Consequently, it is our reponsibility, here, to pay attention to a very serious matter when we have to use these kinds of terms, for they have notions and meanings with regard to the Islamic thinkers different from those of non-Muslims - but, we have made use of these terms in meanings to have the ability to reflect our knowledge and Islamic thoughts.

In respect to these terms, there is nothing that may bring us together with either the non-Muslim ideological aspects or their doctrines except the verbal aspect; apart from the content and meaning.

The notion of the words - instinct, mind, policy, faction, authority, republic, constitution, contradiction and their meanings, in the Islamic view, are all different from those dealing with the non-Muslim doctrines and thoughts. 3. Islamic terms (in letter and spirit), such as; the terms Imamate, inspiration, Satan, fasting, pilgrimage, Zakat (alms), guardianship, hypocrisy, aggressors, Jihad (holy struggle), defence, vocation, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, unbelief, apostasy, arrogance, ally, combat, sunnah, heresy, enemy country, Islamic country, and the like.

The mentioned terms have an Islamic content and thought that are radiant with belief, worship, morals, and faith. Consequently, the replacing of them with other terms means they would be stripped of their religious, educational, and ideological glow and hints; besides, resulting in hiding the lawful signs and responsibilities that they have.

In accordance with the Islamic point of view, many legal verdicts and penal responsibilities, along with lawful and political stances have been based, for example, on the terms - transgressor, apostate, enemy country and Islamic country. The term `aggressor' refers, for instance, to the group that rebelled against the will of the Islamic legal authority. When we call them aggressors it means that because of the verdicts that resulted of them being identified as aggressors, it becomes lawful to prepare to fight them, chase them away and take their property. So, the word `aggressors' comes to the Islamic mind with the meaning of `rebellion', which is against the legal Islamic authority. There is neither term nor description that deals with Islamic law which may replace that term.

Thus, along with the legal or Islamic term, whether it is a legal or conventional one, it is an Islamic necessity that unites with Islamic legislation, thought and education.