Islamic Thouhgt and Philosophy

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Islamic Thought And Philosophy

Issues on religious thought and philosophy have been perceived from different perspectives by different religious scholars. The attempt to synthesize between Islam and philosophy has been a difficult task as different scholars from both sides (religion and philosophy) argued for their views. The crux of the matter is that philosophers claimed that one must follow the truth from any source and wherever it leads. Contrariwise, religious scholars provided the set of their principles which they hold to be unchallengeable, unalterable and unquestionable facts. Therefore, in the view of the above contradiction one cannot simultaneously be a philosopher and a true believer.
However, in recent times, the belief of synthesis between religion and philosophy is typically held by most Muslim scholars. So many extrinsic questions required Muslim scholars to incorporate philosophy into their intellectual learning and thinking. Questions like:
 Does God exist? ;
 What is the nature of God? ;
 What is the view of religion towards factual sciences? ;
 Is human being a free agent? ;

To mention little are some of the examples that forced us to philosophy. At this juncture, I would like confess that if not of philosophy that we have adopted the western secularists and atheists would have destroyed our concept of Allah (S.W.T). Moreover, the Qur’an itself contains so many philosophical texts that require us to intellectual analysis and rational thinking which are the main field of philosophy. To make the subject clearer, we may say that we appeal to philosophical arguments in order to prove that our religious set of principles are absolutely true when an unbeliever requires no Qur’anic citation or otherwise. Now we became convinced that application of philosophy in Islam is usually possible.

Islamic And Muslim Thought

Islamic thought can be defined as those set of intellectual products of Muslim scholars for the sake of Islam in an attempt to response to the needs of their time. In other word, Islamic thought are those set of harmonious understanding about the context of Qur’an and Sunnah. Muslim thought on the other hand, are those set of textual explanations of the Muslim scholars on the context of Qur’an and Sunnah, and such explanations were often diverse, alterable and vary from one group of scholars to another. Therefore, the main difference between Islamic and Muslim thought is in the harmony and generality of Islamic thought. In a nut shell, we can say Islamic thought is general and permanent in nature whereas Muslim thought is diverse and temporary in nature.
The early Muslim thought is diametrically based on two dimensions: first is Ilm-Alkalam (Tauheed), which manly deal with theological questions; and the second one is Falsafah (Philosophy) which Muslims inherited from Greek philosophy aiming at reconciling Religion and Reasoning. When the question arose on the issue of ‘Qadar’ Qadariyya emerged and affirmed ‘human free will’. Contrariwise, the Jabarites maintained the belief of Fatalism (predestination). Additionally, in the 2nd century of A.H; Mu’utazilites emerged and maintained their view in:

 Free agency of man;
 No attributes can be ascribed to Allah;
 Knowledge for man’s salvation emanates from his Reason; And that
 Human Reasoning is superior over revelation.

It is therefore, each sect appeal to philosophy in attempt to defend their principles. The specialized areas of Muslim thought are: Tawheed, Fiqh, Sufism, and Philosophy.

The Concept of Islam

Islam is not only a religion that prescribes certain rituals (Ibadaat) for its believers but also is a complete way of human code of conduct and his general activities. Conceptually, Islam has its own philosophy about the world and the creation of man. It fixes the place of man in the world and his relation with Allah (S.W.T). The religion of Islam views mankind equal and the same and that every human is born in nobility. Islam also defines man as passive and weak in his thinking and therefore, he need to be guided for his life success. Thus, Allah (S.W.T) sent his prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) with the guidance of Qur’an. The religion of Islam is unique in its nature. Uniqueness in the sense that it is not named after a person as in case of Christianity, (it was named after prophet Isah/jesus), Buddhism (named after goutama Buddha), and also, it was named after a tribe like Judaism (named after Juda), Hiduism (named after Hindus). Islam is absolutely revealed religion by Allah, the most high, with truth and perfection and it was named so by Him the most high.

The Concept of Islamic Though About the World And Man
Of course, Islam has a perfect and unique view about the universe and man. The universe according to Islam is a creation of Allah (S.W.T) and all that contained therein; and such creation is beyond any mistake, discrepancy, and defect. Allah (S.A.W) says: ´´and verily we have created the universe and the earth, and all that therein between them within six days…´´ (K:38). And Allah say in reference to the perfection of his creation: ´´ You never behold any discrepancy in Allah’s creation…(mulk:3), All that in the universe and earth; the moon, the stars, waters and all subsistence of life were belong to Allah (S.A.W) and he is in charge of their regulation. Allah says: ´´ And we provided therein (on earth) means of subsistence for you: and which you are not afford to provide (for yourselves)`` (hajr:20). And in other verse: ´´And there is not a thing but its (source) of treasure is with us: and we only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures`` (hajr:21)
And man also according to Islamic perspective is a subservient (servant) of Allah created for the purpose of worship. (see Az-zhariya:56). And that man is combination of physique ( jism/body) and spirit (Ruh/soul). The component body of man is to make him integrated to the physical world, able to thrive and worship Allah in happiness. And the component of spirit is to make man affiliated to his lord, Allah (S.W.T). According to Islamic view also, man must struggle for his success in both this world and hereafter with equal endeavour and hard work. Allah says: ´´you should seek for what Allah gave you; and should not forsake your success in this world…´´ (kasas: 77). Prophet (S.A.W) says in his hadith: ´´Do struggle for your world (life) as if you will live forever; and do struggle for your hereafter as if you are going to die tomorrow´´. Human being must be different, while some are true believers others are unbelievers. Every man has the freedom to do right or wrong for himself, but Allah has prescribed the right deeds and enjoins man to observe them; and has prescribed the wrong deeds and enjoins man to abstain from them. Every ma would be held accountable for his deeds: good for good and bad for bad. While good doers will be rewarded with paradise bad doers will be put in a hellfire.
Islamic thought however, is an alternative to western thought about the world and man. Because Islam condemns the concept of free agency of man of the earth; it condemns the concept of man being the good of him. The Islamic also condemned and destroyed the Aristotle theory of the eternity of matters (AL-kaun); because the concept depicted that allah is not the creator of the world. According to Islamic view only allah is eternal (AL-baaq), and that all matters were created and temporal (muhdasaat). Allah says: ´´everything on the earth must vanish and that the supreme of your lord is eternal´´ (Ar-rahman 26-27). This is in short are the major Islamic concept about the creation of man and the world in general, which is true, perfect, authentic, being it divine revealed information from Allah (S.W.T).


Prophet (S.A.W) had lived his life as a stock case of religious information, law, and final criterion of the truth. This means that there was no a contradiction, conflict or argument among the muslim throughout the prophet life.the primary source of shari’ah is qura’an and hadith. Religious and worldly solutions and answers to problem were obtained from the prophet (S.A.W) without any difficulties or differences in opinion.
But after the prophet death, as the companions began to penetrate to near and distant areas, people of different religion, thought, civilization and culture embraced Islam. As a result some various thought and opinion emerged within the fold of Islam particularly on the issues that require analytical concept. Thus, the secondary source of Shari’ah introduced namely: Ijtihad and Ijma’i. and this marked the first phase of the emergence of Muslim thought. The first problematic matter among the Muslim after the prophet (S.A.W) is about the political issue of khilafah which was not clearly specified in the Qur’an or otherwise in the Sunna. Furthermore, as a result of change in the situational affairs from time to time and the rise of certain questions in aspect of Ibadaat and legalistic matters, the science of jurisprudence Fiqh) was thus introduced. Emergence of theological issues also played an important role in the emergence of Muslim thought as we have noticed so far.

Political Thought Of Islam
Islam is a unique religion that constituted the total way of life besides its emphasis on religious rituals (Ibadaat). It also specified the code of conduct of human social life in which features of worship should be reflected. Prophet (S.A.W) is the final model of life whose characters and behaviours must be imitated and emulated in whatsoever circumstances: the fact that he had lived as a religious as well as a political leader made it inseparable between state and Shari’ah. That is to say the verities of God (Islamic laws) must be applied in all human social life: politics, economy, official duties and e.t.c.
Islamic political system is therefore, basically concerned with the application of Islamic laws (Shari’ah) in the state or an organization which will govern all the social life of the people; being it religious, economic or polital. In other word, we can say the Islamic laws must govern the social world of man; being it community or state in general. We can perceive that in Islamic concept the issue of secularism does not even arise. So, Islamic political system based on the following three principles:
i- Tauheed (oneness of Allah);
ii- Risalah (prophethood); and
iii- Khilafah (chaliphateship)

i- Tauheed:- This states that Allah alone worthy of worship and alone in his kingdom (mulk) and unique in his attribute and therefore no partner in whatever sense could be ascribed to Him the most high. All things in this universe none is acquired by us in our effort but they are the bounties of Allah (S.W.T) and that all power and authority is belong to Him. This in clear terms indicates the absolute sovereignty of Allah (S.W.T) in his kingdom. In view of this we negate the political sovereignty of human being, individually or collectively. No one can claim sovereignty as we all live interdependently and the sovereign one must be independent who requires no support no assistance and no place to live. Indeed, this is Allah the most high and his laws must be implemented.
ii- Risalat (Prophethood)-: this is the medium through which we receive the laws of GOD. And this laws could be drived from the tow cources:
a-: Qura’n: the book in which GOD. Has expounded his laws.
b-: Hadith: the authoritative interpretation and explanation of the book of GOD by the prophet (S.A.W).
the broad principles on which the system of human life should be based on have been stated in the book of allah. And the prophet (S.A.W) in accordance with the intention of the divine revelation set up for us a model of the system of life by principally implementing the laws of GOD and providing necessary details where required. The combination of this tow element, according to Islamic terminology, is called SHARI’AH (Islamic constitution) which is independent and superior over any manmade constitution. In general, there is a specific purpose for man’s existence on the earth; this is to worship and observe the laws of GOD.
(3) Khilafah (Vicegeracy) -: the special role connecting man to this creator is subservience and worship. Thus the meaning of worship must be very wide as it extends beyond mere rituals (prayer, fasting, zakkat e.t.c.) into all social activities of man. Allah does not only call upon us to perform primary rituals but also his injunctions must regulate all the aspect of life through a vicegeracy (khilafat). Human is nothing but a vicegerent of Allah on the earth and his primary duty is to worship, implement and observe the laws of God: Allah says in the Qur’an: ´´I will create a vicegerent on earth´´ (Bakara: 30).
Therefore, this viceroy on the earth constitutes the wide range of man’s activities and in fact it requires the implementation of Allah’s laws and order which is in accordance with the divine book and Sunnah. Thus, it became clear that the meaning of worship is much more comprehensive than mere rituals. The role of viceroy is definitely an integral part of the meaning of worship.

Features of Islamic Political System
A state is said to be Islamic when its political system is based on three basic principles of taw heed, Risalah, and khilafah. The Qur’an clearly states in not more than one place that the aim and purpose of Islamic state is to enforce the qualities of purity, goodness, virtue, success, and prosperity which Allah wants to flourish in the life people. And that all kinds of exploitation, injustice, and disorder which are ruinous for the world and detrimental to the life of his creatures, must be suppressed and prevented. Thus the following are the main features of Islamic state:
i-the system of Islamic state must be based on the principle of tauheed, Risalah, and khilafah.
ii- in Islamic state all individuals are equal in the sight of Allah, therefore must be treated equally.
iii- the right of citizenship is based on individual Islamization (being a Muslim) irrespective of his place of birth, race, colour, or class.
iv- a non-Muslim also has a right in Muslim state, such class were known as Dhimme (the covenant). This system had existed in the life of prophet (S.A.W) at Medina.
The Qur’anic verse that specifies the real Islamic democracy is the saying of Allah: “indeed Allah commands justice doing of good, and liberality to kin, and forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: he instructs you that you may receive admonition. (Hajar: 90).
This verse clearly indicates the real democracy in Islam. According to one of the theme of the verse is that all acts of justice, generosity, consideration to poor, impartiality before the law e.t.c must e enforced in every Islam state. And that all acts of oppression, exploitation, injustice, and fraud must be suppressed and exterminated from the earth.

The Supremacy Of Islamic Constitution
The Quranic verse (s) which clarifies the supremacy of Islamic constitution and total submission to Allah’s law is the saying of Allah: “We have sent a scripture to you in truth confirmation that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge among them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires: to each among you we have prescribed a law (constitution) and an open way of life…” (mai’dah: 48).
And also, the single Quranic verse that supports and emphasizes the superiority and effectiveness of Islamic way of life, and condemns any other man-made constitution contrast to that of Allah (S.A.W.) is His saying: “Do they then seek after a judgment of ignorance? Who is the best judger than Allah (S.W.T) for the people of faith? (ma’idah: 50).
This single verse indicates that Allah is the best law-maker and that his commandment must be implemented. Any other laws that of His are ruinous and detrimental to the people. For Allah knows best for His people

Islamic Economic System
Islamic is an entire way of life, and Allah’s guidance extends into all areas of our life. Islam has given detailed regulations for our economics life, which is balanced and fair. Muslims are to recognize that wealth, earnings, and material goods are the property of Allah and we are merely his trustees. Allah says: “So you should feed from that (Wealth) we entrusted to you….” (Hashr:7). The principle of Islamic economy aims at establishing a just and fair society wherein everyone will live responsibly and honestly.

Concept And Definition Of Economic System Of Islam
Islamic economic system can be defined as the application of Islamic law to economic activity either where Islamic rule is force and Islamic system may created; or where it is not Muslim seek to integrate Islamic tenets into a non-Islamic economic system. The payment of zakaat, sadaqah, and the system of jizyah, khums, baitul-mal, are among the traditional approach of Islamic economy. The theory of Islamic economy based on uplifting the deprived masses, a major role for the state in matters such as circulation and equitable distribution of wealth among the people. Islamic approach to economy will generally describe the system as being neither socialistic nor capitalistic, but a third way with none of the drawbacks of other system. Islamic economy forbids usury (ribah), Muslim are mot be deal interest. Allah says: “Those who devour usury will not stand….Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury…” (Bakara:275). Moreover it is unlawful to hoard food and other basic necessities. A Muslim should be responsible in spending money, extravagance is strongly discouraged. Muslims are encouraged to give constantly in charity. In short, Islamic economy is the only salvation of world problem pf poverty. Michael Bonne confessed that by saying “economy of poverty has prevailed in Islam…. Under this system God’s guidance made sure the flow of money and goods was “purified” by being channeled from those who had much of it to those who had little by encouraging charity zakat and discouraging interest on loans (usury/riba).

The Fundamental Principle Of Islamic Economy
(1) All the wealth belongs to Allah (S.W.T). Allah says: ‘And you should give to them out of Allah’s wealth which bestowed upon you. (Nur:33).
(2) The community is the trustee of wealth. Allah says: “And you should feed from the wealth of Allah entrusted to you...” (Hadid:7).
(3) Hoarding of wealth is prohibited. Allah says; “All those who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the cause of Allah, so (you prophet) notify them of a painful doom….here is what you hoarded for yourselves.” (Taubah:34-35).
(4) Circulation of wealth is a duty. Allah says; “What Allah has turned over to His messenger from those communities belong to Allah and His messenger (i.e the central Authority)- and to families, orphans, those who have no means of earning their livelihood…Nowise will not be in such manner of going round among rich of you. (Hashr: 7).
Circulation of wealth in Islamic economy is that wealth or benefits must not concentrate among few rich of the society. And that it is unlawful to hoard wealth while needy people are present. Allah says; “But nay! Behold, it is a raging fire, eager to roast. It calls him who turned and fled, and hoarded wealth and withheld it” (Lail: 15-18).And also, in other verse “woe unto very slander, fault-finder! Whose effort revolves around gathering wealth and counting it (as safe guard)”. (Hamazah:1-2).

Islam Condemns Capitalism
Islam is an alternative to capitalism therefore condemned and destroyed it. Because the theory is based on the concept that economics is that which examines man’s need; which are unlimited and how to satisfy these unlimited needs. The system depends upon the separation of the creator from life’s affair. The concept of freedom plays major role in the capitalistic ideology.
The Islamic economic system however, is derived from the only source that is capable of satisfying the needs of everyone. The source of this rule is our creator. It is forbidden to for a man to satisfy his unlimited needs. Islam also destroys the theory of globalization, Marxism, socialism and communism.

Some Modern Muslim Scholars Of Economy And Their Works
1. Mahmud Taleqani- “Islam And Property” (1951).
2. Mahmud Baqir Al-sadr- “Our economics” (1961).
3. Abul-hassan bani sadr- “The economy of divine harmony” (1978).
4. Habibullah peyman- “Some interpretations of property, right, capital and labour from Islamic perspectives” (1978).
Some List of Muslim Philosophers
(2) Ibn Sina (980-1037C.E) - a Persian and Muslim philosopher and scientist.
(3) Ibn Rushd (1128-1198C.E) - the great philosopher of his time.
(4) Arab AL-kindi (800-873C.E) - the first Arab-muslim philosopher.
(5) AL-farabi (870-950C.E) – the philosopher, scientist and expert in languages.
(6) ImamAL-ghazzali (1058-1128C.E) – the extra ordinary philosopher, jurist and mystics.
Others include Ibn Bajjah, Ibn Saba’in, Kutbud din Razi, Fakr- din razi, and the father of Sociology, Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406).


(1) Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877- 1938).
(2) Mirza Mahdi Ha’iri.
(3) Sayyed Hussain Nasr.
(4) Sayyed Muhammad Naquib Al- Attas.
(5) Sayyed Abul-Hassan Rafi’i Qazwini.
(6) Abul ala Al-maudidi e.t.c

‘Allah is the All-knowing’


* M.M Sharif: A History of MuslimPhilosophy V.II

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