Principles in the Methodology of Islamic Thought

The Islamic world community has been charged with a responsibility towards itself and towards history to perform the duties of vicegerency (khilafah) and reform civilization In the light of the noble principles of Islam. In view of the present world situation, humankind and the Muslim Ummah have no alternative but Islam. Only through Islam will reform come to modern civilization.

In order to understand the teachings of Islam, we must first define the comprehensive framework of the methodology which forms the pivotal point around which Islamic thought revolves.

Methodological Framework of Islamic Thought

It is very important to understand at the outset that the framework of Islamic thought represents a comprehensive view of life and the universe. Having realized this, we may begin to comprehend the relationships, concepts, and principles which characterize and govern Islamic thought. So, if we wish to appreciate the nature of Islamic thought and methodology, and if we ever hope to understand the goals which Islam seeks to achieve, it is essential that we first comprehend the concepts of the "seen" and the "unseen" In Islam.

These concepts define the purpose of life and relate it to that which is beyond the material universe. The world of the unseen is known only to Allah. He reveals about It what He wishes to whomever of His servants He wishes, and then sends them as messengers to bring guidance to humankind and clarify for them the meaning of their existence. According to the Islamic concept of the unseen, man's relationship with the world of the unseen Is a good and constructive one which Is aimed at establishing truth and justice on earth and keeping it free from corruption.

He who created death and life, that He may try which of you is best In deed (67:2).

Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin; and He forbids all shameful deeds, abomination, and wrongdoing (16:90).

We can summarize the most important principles of the unseen and what it has to offer to man, as follows:

Life has a purpose, which is moral good; it was not created without a purpose.

Do you suppose that We created you In vain, and that you will never return to Us? (23:115)

The original, eternal relations between everything in the universe are beyond what the human mind Is capable of comprehending.

The most important feature of the unseen world, which is of particular concern to man, Is the existence of Allah, the Eternal Creator Who is One; there Is nothing like unto Him, and He has knowledge of all things.

The resurrection of all souls in the Hereafter will be the time of reckoning when man' will be either rewarded or punished according to his deeds in this life.

This world Is the place for positive action, for building, and for putting things in order. Everything in it has been made subject to the will of man in his mission as khalifah on the earth, populating it, putting it in order, subjecting everything In it to his good will, taking care of it, putting It to good use, and not abusing It by spreading corruption throughout it.

Man's free will springs from the omniscience of the Almighty and exists by His command. It is one of the wonders of Allah's creation and a sign of His greatness and power. He created it by His Will as He created everything else. He distinguished and honored man by giving him freedom of will.

Allah created the Universe and subjected it to natural laws. By acting in accordance with these laws, deeds can be done, aims can be realized, and the human will can express its determination and direction. Without the application of these laws, however, there can be no will or determination, no goals can be reached, and nothing can be expressed. After the Believer has sought to understand the natural laws and to act in accordance with them, he is to rely (tawakkul) on Allah, Who knows the unseen and is in control of the universe. Everything Allah decrees for His believing servant, after that servant has fulfilled his responsibilities according to the natural laws, is for the servant's good in this world and the next.

Wahy or revelation is the divine source which provides man with the knowledge he needs of the unseen world; whereas reason Is the Instrument man uses to acquire and apply knowledge in this world, which is the seen world, in order to achieve the mission of khilafah and its aims of establishing truth, justice and righteousness.

In the presence of sound human nature (fitrah), faith in the oneness of Allah, and the guidance of His wahy, there can be no room for contradictions In the Islamic outlook toward wahy, reason, and the natural universe. Wahy deals with the unseen world; and acceptance of the truths brought by wahy is the factor which distinguishes between sound and corrupt knowledge. This is the standard which differentiates between the angels' rightly-guided knowledge and Iblis's corrupt knowledge and reasoning:

They said: ... of knowledge we have none save what You have taught us (2: 32).

Iblis arrogantly voiced the idea that he was created of superior matter:

You created me from fire, and created him (Adam) from clay (7:12).

Allah, Who has complete knowledge and power, said:

I know what you know not (2:30).

Within this comprehensive framework of thought, the first generation of Muslims found the answers to all their needs. It did not escape them that Allah has connected faith (iman) with good works throughout the Qur'an.

... such as have faith, and do righteous deeds (103:3).

The word for righteous deeds (salah) implies both objective understanding and serious efforts. Good intentions, In other words, are not enough.

In order for the Muslim mind to regain its strength, it must first recover its outlook. When this happens, man and his thought will be guided, his efforts will be rewarded, and Allah's promise of strength and victory will be fulfilled.

Sources of Islamic Methodology: Revelation, Reason, and the Universe


Wahy as a source of knowledge and guidance In human life is the truth which Allah revealed to His Messengers so that they might convey His commandments to humankind, and guide and teach them the meaning and purpose of their existence. The essence of the message which wahy brought to humankind Is Its explanation of their relationship to Allah, and the aims of their existence in the universe.

Humans are the most honored of Allah's creations because Allah favored them with free will. If they follow the truth of their own accord, they will be superior and do well. But If they follow their own whims and ignore the truth, they will become corrupt and oppressive.

The relationship of human, the creature, to Allah, the Creator, is one of submissive discipline and control, not one of enslavement and degradation; it is a relationship of khilafah and honor, not of contempt and exploitation. A human's turning to Allah, following His commandments, and avoiding that which He has prohibited Is a relationship of respect and honor because It reaches and achieves the Truth, that which is good and real, the straight path, the lofty aim for which all righteous people strive. Humans are elevated by their efforts, and there is no room in the Islamic understanding of this relationship for any concept of degradation, contempt or exploitation. Concerning this, the Prophet said:

The odor from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. (Al Bukhari, Muslim).

Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His servant than any of you would be if you were on a journey in the desert and lost the riding-camel that was carrying your food and drink and, after despairing of it and lying down in the shade of a tree, you saw the camel come back and stand beside you. (Muslim)

Allah said:

There has come to you from Allah a light and a perspicuous Book, - wherewith Allah guides those who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace and safety, and leads them out of darkness, by His will, unto the light, - guides them to a path that is straight (5:15-16).


Reason is the Instrument humans use to understand, distinguish and compare Insights, and it is the means of carrying out responsibilities in the seen world. Besides being the basic means for understanding, reason is that through which humans can reach an appreciation of their relationship with life, the universe, and other creatures. on this basis, they can build their understanding of their own existence. Without reason there would be no humans, no comprehension, no appreciation, and no responsibility.

It Is reason which distinguishes between true wahy and false, between misleading lies, fabrications, and myths. Likewise, it is reason which enables humans to choose and face the consequences of the choices they make.

When the revelations given to previous nations were altered and corrupted so that they lost their authenticity, the Muslim mind became distinguished by its having a complete and true revelation, and by the fact that its sources of knowledge encompassed both the seen and the unseen worlds. Thus the two sources, wahy and reason, are integrated with the universe to enable humans to realize the purpose of creation and to fulfill the role of khalifah.

The role of reason is to understand the seen world through establishing the authenticity of the wahy and then by understanding Its purpose concerning human existence in the seen world. The role of the Muslim mind is to shape the seen world and perform the duties of khalifah in accordance with the directions and alms of the Divine Will.

The Muslim mind derives its strength, stability and uprightness from its understanding of wahy. The Muslim mind is a believing, rightly guided, and confident mind. It is not arrogant, It does not abandon certainty for conjecture, or light for darkness, or guidance for error. It is a capable mind, completely absorbed In its role as khalifah. It does not waste its time and efforts on conjecture or on matters which serve no useful purpose. In accordance with this unambiguous outlook, the Muslim mind will not debate matters of the unseen, nor will It ignore the role of reason in understanding and interpreting the articulations and purposes of wahy and putting them into practice. According to this Islamic outlook, the role of reason cannot be ignored in understanding nature and events, or in building systems, or bearing responsibilities.

Such an outlook should enable humans to fulfill their roles as khalifah, prevent clergy and priests from controlling people in the name of religion, halt the activities of tyrants, and bring an end to the exploitation of religious sentiments for purposes which ultimately go against those of the Shari'ah. In the correct Islamic outlook, there can be no room for deviation or tyranny In the name of either reason or religion.

The conflict between wahy and reason which emerged in the history of Islamic thought was, on the one hand, an expression of political conflicts and aims and, on the other, the outcome of the confusion of pre-Islamic cultures when their tribes and peoples came to Islam. The result was that Muslim thought was pulled in two opposite directions. Historically, Muslims wasted a great deal of energy when they began to discuss matters of the unseen, theology, and philosophical sophistries having to do with issues like the divine predicates.

Yet all the illusions and sophistries remain; the Ummah is still arguing about theology, and the arguments continue to intensify. What is worse is that those with vested interests support and encourage these wasteful exercises and thereby hinder the Ummah by diverting it from taking up the challenges it should be facing. In the final analysis, this can only help the enemies of the Ummah to achieve their purposes.

It is important that, in this study of Islamic methodology, we should not confuse the sources of Islamic knowledge, which are wahy, reason, and the natural laws of the universe, with the means for conducting research and study. Every scientific field has its own means which are particularly suited to it. Clearly, the Islamic disciplines must be based on wahy, reason, and the laws and standards that Allah has imposed on creation. Thus grounded, the new Islamic disciplines will be distinguished by their comprehensiveness and openness to any means capable of producing knowledge beneficial to humankind.

In the modern age, the Muslim mind has yet to deal in a systematic way with the sources of Islamic knowledge. Yet in light of those sources, it must lay the foundations for the sort of social sciences which the Islamic outlook requires and which, through research and study, will enable the Ummah to educate its youth. But before the Muslim mind is qualified to establish its own social sciences, it must clarify the principles and concepts on which Islamic thought is based.

The Fundamentals of Islamic Methodology and Thought

Islamic methodology and thought are distinguished by certain fundamental principles. If we fail to understand these principles, we cannot deal with them or operate according to them. These principles represent basic assumptions which guide the Muslim mind in its creative and intellectual movement towards an understanding of life and the universe, and how to interact with these In a progressive manner.

These fundamentals are unicity, vicegerency, and responsibility; three principles which form the basic outline of the Muslim mind, define its direction, and clarify its alms. Anything not based on these principles will never motivate or vitalize the Muslim consciousness. The failure of Islamic thought in the past was, to a great extent, due to the failure on the part of Muslims to understand the importance of these principles; it may also, to a great extent, explain the confusion of the Muslim mind and its ineffectiveness at the present time. In what follows, we shall examine each of these three principles.


This principle, as it is embodied in kalimat al shahadah and as it is explained in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, establishes Islamic thought and methodology on the premise that absolute truth is the basis, source, and ultimate destiny of the whole universe; that the universe exists for a serious purpose; that the final destiny of the universe is with Allah alone, Who has no partner or equal; that the universe emerged from a single source and represents a single reality; and that man is unique - Allah created him and honored him with free will and the responsibility of khilafah over the universe on the basis of truth and justice.

Glorify the name of your Guardian-Lord most High, Who has created, and further, given order and proportion; Who has ordained laws, and granted guidance (87:1- 3).

No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him: [if there were many gods], behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah! [He is free] from the [sort of] things they attribute to Him! (23;91).

Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators? (52:35).

He said: "Our Lord is He Who gave to each [created] thing its form and nature, and further, gave [it] guidance" (20:50).

[Such is] the artistry of Allah, Who disposes of all things in perfect order; for He is well acquainted with all that you do (27:88).

He has created the heavens and the earth in just proportions, and has given you shape, and has made your forms beautiful: and to Him is the final goal (64:3).

No want of proportion will you see In the Creation of [God) Most Gracious. So turn your vision again: do you see any flaw? (67:3).

If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! But glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne; [high is He) above what they attribute to Him! (21:22).

There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He Is the One that hears and sees [all things] (42:11).

And if any one believes in Allah, [Allah] guides his heart [aright]: for Allah knows all things (64: 11).

That Is because Allah is the Reality; and those besides Him, whom they invoke, are but vain falsehood: Verily Allah is He, Most High, Most Great (22:62).


Man's vicegerency on earth and in the universe requires him to act as guardian and deputy of Allah in dealing with the earth, the universe, and other creatures. The Muslim, with his fitrah, 'aqidah, methods of thought, free will, and the ability to learn with which Allah has honored him, does not view man's position in the universe as being other than that of a responsible guardian. Man cannot achieve his purpose, fulfill his role in life, or have peace of mind unless he continually acts and takes decisions concerning the management of his environment in the natural universe. The principle of khilafah, according to Islamic thought, defines the purpose of mans natural desires and guides him. In this manner, these natural desires are directed towards truth, justice, and reform.

Did you then think that We had created you In jest, and that you would not be brought back to Us? (23:115).

He Who created Death and We, that He may try which of you is best in deed (67:2).

Behold, your Lord said to the angels: 'I will create a vicegerent on earth ...' (2:30).

And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: Behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect (45:13).

It Is He Who has made the earth manageable for you, so travel throughout its tracts and enjoy of the sustenance which He furnishes: But unto Him is the resurrection (67:15).

The dimension of khilafah in Islamic thought explains the enormous energy of the first Muslims, and the Incomparable energy of the Prophet and his companions who never tired of working, sacrificing, and striving In jihad. In the space of a few years, the whole of the known world had been enlightened by the truth. Divine guidance to mankind was renewed, and a movement for civilization and reform began from which every place on earth benefited.

Moral Responsibility

The third principle upon which Islamic thought and methodology is predicated is that of moral responsibility. We cannot understand Muslim thought if we do not consider the dimension of responsibility In that thought. Even during the worst periods of backwardness, the factor that preserved the Muslim's consciousness and prevented him from extinction was his conscience, his awareness of his responsibilities and shortcomings. For this reason the Muslim mind continued to be restless, and never accepted the reality of its stagnation and backwardness. In fact, it is still doing so. This is because once the Muslim mind has realized its moral responsibility, It can no longer remain indifferent. Hence the history of the Muslim Ummah during the later periods, when it lost its way and fell behind, was the history of anxiety and worry. All that it had left, and all that preserved it, was its sense of responsibility as regards its role as vicegerent. Thus the principle of responsibility represents the other side of the principle of khilafah in the makeup of the Muslim mind. Khilafah, the purpose behind it, and its requisite qualifications (free will, the ability to reason, and the potential for more learning) carry with them man's moral responsibility for his role, and for the decisions he makes in undertaking it.

By using his will and abilities to realize the purpose of his existence, the Muslim will have carried out his responsibility and secured his place in the Hereafter. If he uses his will and ability for any purpose other than those for which they were created, for oppression and corruption for example, he will have failed in his responsibility, violated the honor of his duties, and missed the purpose of his existence. Then his destiny in the Hereafter will be that of the lowest of the low!

Say: "I am but a man like yourselves, [but] the inspiration has come to me that your God is One God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner" (18: 110).

He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed; and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving (67:2).

O you people! Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the Evil One, for he is to you an avowed enemy (2:168).

But seek, with the [wealth] which Allah has bestowed on you, the Home of the Hereafter, and do not forget your portion In this world: but do good, as Allah has been good to you, and seek not [occasions for] mischief in the land; for Allah loves not those who do mischief (28:77).

You shall be brought back to Allah. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned, and none shall be dealt with unjustly (2:281).

Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you that you may receive admonition (16:90).

If anyone does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against [his own soul]. In the end you will [all] be brought back to your Lord (45:15).

Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another; that man can have nothing but what he strives for; that [the fruit of] his striving will soon come in sight; then will he be rewarded with a reward complete (53:38-41).

Then are men returned unto God, their Protector, the [only] Reality; is not His the Command? And He is the Swiftest in taking account (6:62).

Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it (99:7-8).

The principle of responsibility, as a principle integrated in the Muslim mind with that of khilafah, may explain to us the powers of love and sacrifice possessed by the early generations of Muslims, who set an historical example for all nations and societies. It also explains to us the outstanding example of the earliest Muslims who were free from greed, hypocrisy, and arrogance, and who were distinguished by their lack of interest in gathering and hoarding wealth. The more capable they became of earning worldly wealth, the less Interested they were in gathering and hoarding it. They were among those described in the Qur'an

And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captive, - [saying] 'We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks" (76:8-9).

The principle of responsibility is furthermore a guarantee of correct Islamic thought, and of sound methodology.

Actions are but by intentions, and every man shall have that which he intended. (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

A Muslim cannot be diverted from the path of truth and justice because he knows for sure that his peace of mind in this world and his destiny in the next depend on his carrying out his responsibility to work, strive, sacrifice, and do good in this life.

If the meaning of these three principles, unicity, vicegerency, and responsibility, becomes clear to Muslims, the Ummah will surely be able to find its way, renew the sources of its energy, and succeed in raising its young according to sound Islamic methodology. This, in turn, will requalify the Muslim mind to restore the Ummah to its position as a pioneering and creative force in history.

With a true understanding of unicity, the Muslim mind will find its true direction and will succeed. By playing its role as khalifah, the Muslim mind will go forth and succeed. With its integrated methodology, the Muslim mind will be positive and productive.

The Basic Concepts of Islamic Methodology

In order that we gain an understanding of how Islamic thought and methodology work, it is not enough to be familiar with the framework of the principles on which they are built. Rather, it is also necessary to discern the concepts which represent the practical aspects of that framework. It is not enough to know the theoretical aspects of methodology, for that will not afford a true understanding of how the methodology works. If we wish to take practical steps towards reform, we must know the concepts according to which, and on the basis of whose requirements, the Muslim mind works.

In fact, many of the basic concepts of Islamic methodology were tainted by the jahiliyah cultures and philosophies of the peoples who entered Islam. As these were firmly entrenched in the knowledge and practice of those people, they became influences on the Ummah's thought. This situation was exacerbated both by the lack of commitment on the part of, and the Machiavellian practices employed by, the Ummah's political leadership in later periods. The confusion in the methodology of Islamic thought became one of the most potent weapons at the leadership's disposal for weakening the Ummah's understanding of their situation, for gaining oppressive control, and for distracting the Ummah's attention from their (the leadership's) deviant practices and goals.

Among the most important of these methodological concepts are the following:

The purposeful nature of creation and existence;
The objectivity of truth and relativity of circumstances;
Freedom of decision and free will; The comprehensiveness of tawakkul;
The causality of deeds.

The Purposeful Nature of Creation and Existence

Muslim thought is based on belief in unicity and the principle of oneness which imply the unity of creation, life, man and reality, This oneness and this unity, in turn, imply the purpose behind creation and existence:

Not for [idle] sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that Is between them (21:16).

I have only created the jinn and men so that they might serve Me. No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me (51:56-57).

The belief that Allah is the Creator implies that creation has only one source and purpose. According to man's natural common sense and the Muslims belief in oneness, it is unacceptable for the Muslim mind to be unaware of the unity and purpose of Creation, or of the integration and harmony upon which creation Is based. The Muslim mind's natural disposition towards a belief in tawhid guides it in its interaction with the rest of creation. According to this concept of the Muslim mind and its relationship to the rest of creation, a haphazard way of thinking is inadmissible. As befits his human nature and Islamic awareness, the Muslim is a khalifah, a witness, and a guardian over creation.

Nonetheless, misunderstandings regarding the concepts of causality and the purposeful nature of creation led to misunderstandings about tawakkul and belief in the Divine decree (qada and qadr). These In turn led the Muslim mind to a situation of frustration and lassitude in which it became indifferent and fatalistic, and began to dwell on decidedly un-Islamic asceticism's. Thereafter, It was not long before it lost both its energy and its role as a reforming and civilizing force in the world.

The concept of the purposefulness of nature, if understood correctly, is a strong basis which rejects all indifference and Inability. Most Importantly, It motivates the Muslim to seek knowledge and to strive to understand the relationship between life, the universe, and events around him.

Nor has He a partner in His dominion: it is He Who created all things, and ordered them in due proportions (25:2).

[Such is] the artistry of Allah, Who disposes of all things in perfect order: for He is well acquainted with all that you do (27:88).

Objectivity of Truth and Relativity of Circumstances

The Muslim's fitrah explains the concept of the objectivity of truth as meaning that he Is a finite creature in a finite universe, subject to comprehensive and precise laws. The laws of the universe are a reality with which man lives; he is subject to them and he Interacts with them every moment of his life. Furthermore, while man may be cognizant of the universe and even understand some aspects of the natural system and the laws which govern its existence, he is unable on his own to comprehend the whole of It, or even to fathom its purpose. The Muslim mind, however, accepts and interacts with these laws as a result of the insight it has gained, and the principles it has learned, through revelation. In this way the Muslim mind is able to understand the purpose of life and human existence.

The Muslim mind and common sense are given insight by the light and guidance of wahy For the Muslim mind, reality is objective; it is aware of its existence and dimensions, and seeks to Interact correctly with It and with its laws. The Muslim mind is totally objective. It is not governed by whims, and it does not scorn the truth. Righteousness motivates it, and its efforts are directed towards seeking the truth in harmony with the laws of the universe.

The Concept of Success

According to the Muslim mind, the concept of success in life does not lie in permissiveness and corruption, but in discipline, awareness, and harmony with nature. There is no contradiction In the Muslim mind between what is true and what is good for human existence, whether individual or collective. Nor is there any conflict in the Muslim mind between the spiritual and the material, or between what is good for this life and what is good for the Hereafter. All of these represent parts of the reality of existence; they harmonize with It and are Integrated with it.

The Muslim occupies a position of care and responsibility in whatever work he undertakes and in whatever role he plays. He strives to deal fairly with everything around him. He conducts his affairs by consultation and seeks truth and justice. If he fails to work in this way, he will not achieve his objective.

Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock (al Bukhari and Muslim).

The lives of the believers are equal in value; they fight as one against their enemies; and the least of them can have a say in general affairs (Abu Dawud, al Nasa'i).

The Prophet said, "Religion is sincerity." When the Companions asked: "To whom?" the Prophet replied: "To Allah and His Book, and His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk" (Muslim).

Muslims conduct their affairs by mutual consultation, with no 'asabiyah (ethnocentrism), nationalism, factionalism or sectarianism, and with none of the negative implications of oppression, tyranny, or corruption.

Although reality, according to the Muslim mind, is an objective matter, this does not imply narrow-mindedness. Even if reality Is one in essence and unchanging, man's position in it, either as an individual or as part of a society, Is a "nor position which changes according to time and place. This means that that outlook, position and application are all relative. The way that the Muslim mind deals with reality differs in accordance with the differing needs and conditions of man. The child is not like the adult; the capable man is not like the incapable; the learned are not like the ignorant; education is not like passing judgment; peace Is not like war; and plenty is not like famine. Although the Muslim mind is distinguished by its comprehensive belief in unity, it is also multifaceted and is able to provide different solutions for different needs, according to the time and the place, without losing its bases or guidance.


If we hope to understand the concept of freedom, we must understand the conditions necessary for practicing it. Freedom is a right, an attitude, and a responsibility like any other. It cannot be practiced in isolation or chaos. More than anything else, it needs to be regulated because it has the most serious bearing on man's life and the meaning of his e3dstence. Freedom of will in general, and of worship in particular, are the rights of the mature and sane individual who is able to understand the meaning and effects of freedom and to bear responsibility for his actions in his own life and that of the society around him.

In the case of children and the insane, it is wrong to take advantage of their shortcomings or to undermine the duties of the guardians who are responsible for their affairs until they become able to bear those responsibilities for themselves, either by attaining intellectual maturity or by regaining their mental balance. On the basis of man's right to freedom of worship and his responsibility in using that freedom, we find that the army of the first Muslims opposed the forces of oppression with faith and determination, defending man's right to freedom of worship, enabling him to carry out his responsibilities, and resisting aggression.

The Islamic perspective on the freedom of worship is that man is free to choose the ideology which he believes and adheres to, whether it is Islam or anything else. Man alone has the right to make this decision, and he is responsible for it. The Islamic state and society are duty- bound to guard this right, respect this decision, and guarantee that this right is upheld for every person in every land, even those outside the lands of Islam.

To understand the aspects of man's free will and Islamic practice, we have to learn to distinguish between the different concepts involved. These concepts may be summarized as three dimensions: the dimension of belief, the dimension of Islamic thought, and the dimension of social behavior.

Freedom of Belief

Islam clearly Insists upon freedom of belief for all human beings. Hence this freedom was the basis of all da'wah the Islamic social system, and Islam's greatest battles against the forces of oppression. On the basis of this concept, the Islamic state itself guarantees freedom of worship for its non-Muslim subjects. From this conceptive can understand the meaning of the letters which the Prophet sent to kings and rulers, calling them to Islam and asking them to stop oppressing their subjects so that they would have freedom of worship.

He [Moses] said: "It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you inheritors on earth; so He may try you by your deeds" (7:129).

Say: "O men! Now Truth has reached you from your Lord! Those who receive guidance, do so for the good of their own souls; those who stray, do so to their own loss" (10: 108).

[Such is] the artistry of God, Who disposes of all things In perfect order (27:88).

Is it not His to create and govern? (7:54).

The nature of man's free will is something which his natural common sense can understand clearly, as explained In the Qur'an:

By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and Its enlightenment as to Its wrong and its right; truly he succeeds that purifies It, and he fails that corrupts it! (91:7-10).

Yea, to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: so that He rewards those who do evil, according to their deeds, and He rewards those who do good with what is best (53:3 1).

Allah created the heavens and the earth for just ends, and in order that each soul may find the recompense of what it has earned, and none of them be wronged (45:22).

Freedom of Decision: Free Will and Responsibilities

The concept of a human's freedom of will and the responsibility it entails constitute the third basic principle on which Islamic thought and methodology are based. We cannot understand the meaning of the Islamic message for life, or the meaning of the Prophet's life and jihad, or the conflicts of the first Muslims with the Persian and Roman empires, unless we understand the concept of free will and the individual responsibility entailed by this freedom.

Deeds illustrate the quality of will, whether it is good or evil, whether it follows truth, goodness and justice, or whether it is corruptible by its own desires. Finally, deeds will be measured in light of the individual's role as khalifah; and the Hereafter will represent and reflect the quality of one's will and deeds in this life.

By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it! (91:7-10).

We sent down the [Qur'an] in Truth, and in Truth has it descended: and We sent you only to give glad tidings and to warn [sinners] (17:105).

For We had certainly sent unto them a Book, based on knowledge, which We explained in detail, - a guide and a mercy to all who believe (7:52).

We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard It [from corruption] (15:9).

Attitudes of oppression, injustice and compulsion do not defend Islam or make the Islamic outlook any easier to understand. Instead, such attitudes represent aggression against the essence of the message, reality, and aims of Islam.

Let there be no compulsion In religion: Truth stands out clear from error (2:256).

Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject [it] (18:29).

If your Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one People (11: 118).

Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe! (10:99).

If any one does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil it works against it [his soul]. In the end you will [all] be brought back to your Lord (45:15).

Based on the knowledge of divine wahy, the Islamic outlook was and still is sure of its energy and ability to prevail, not because of the force the state is able to bring to bear, but because it represents reality. As long as the Islamic outlook continues to adhere to correct methodology and structure, It need not fear conflicts and contradiction, because the strength of the Islamic fitrah will always direct the Ummah.

The only way we can protect Islam is to understand, know, and explain it well, and to ensure that the structure of the system of Islam is sound. Ideological and intellectual freedom has nothing to fear from an Islamic state, or from the principles, aims, and system of Islam. In fact, Islam guarantees ideological and intellectual freedom. likewise, the vision and system of Islam have nothing to fear from ideological and Intellectual freedom.

Freedom of thought in Islamic society is like a deep river flowing towards its destination. When It widens it becomes even more resplendent. On the basis of man's will and the relativity of the position of the truth, Muslim thought enjoys a tolerance which guarantees freedom of thought and belief, and a multiplicity of conflicting intellectual and ideological positions.

Within the Ummah there is little reason to fear the destruction of its bases from conflicting opinions. Rather, it provides room for free scope and balance, and provides stability and growth, because Islamic thought, with its clear vision based on the guidance, values, concepts, and principles of wahy, will remain strong. New growth and creativity are the products of an Ummah that has agreed upon its basic principles.

Cultural maturity is a necessary condition for people to be able to exercise their right to freedom, especially freedom of belief, because a primitive cultural environment, or cultural backwardness in some form of bedouinism, barbarity, or primitiveness, could mean that man Is culturally, socially, or mentally immature In such a way as to make him unable to take responsible decisions. Certainly, this will disqualify him from his right to freedom. This means that he should be cared for until he reaches maturity, and should not be given the right to freedom or to bear responsibility for it until then.

This is what Islam tried to do at the beginning with regard to the primitive, idolatrous tribes of desert Arabia when, in Its relationship with them, it resorted to every possible means to help them to rid themselves of their primitive practices and shortcomings, to liberate themselves from the social and cultural backwardness In which they were still living, and to end their hostility towards the Muslims and their allies. The Muslims' sense of responsibility towards man left them with no choice but to subject these barbaric tribes to the cultural system of Islam, and to rescue them from their savage social behavior and idolatrous myths. Hence Islam clearly declared that as far as these tribes were concerned, he matter was not one of man's freedom of will and worship, but of subjecting them to the system of Islam and ridding them of the barbarity in which they were still living.

They are those with whom you made a covenant, but they break their covenant every time, and they have not the fear [of Allah] (8:56).

In a Believer they respect not the ties either of kinship or of covenant! It Is they who have transgressed all bounds (9: 10).

O you who believe! Truly the pagans are tainted; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque (9:28).

And fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah Is with those who restrain themselves (9:36).

And fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah sees all that they do (8:39).

The desert Arabs say, 'We believe. " Say: 'You have no faith; but you [only] say, 'We have submitted our wills to Allah,' For not yet has faith entered your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His prophet, He will not belittle aught of your deeds, for God is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful" (49:14).

Islam's attitude towards the primitive, Idolatrous desert Arabs was one of concern and seeking to provide the qualifications required for the right to freedom of will. It was not an attitude of denying the freedom of will to the qualified man, or of going back on its basic attitude to man's freedom of worship. Islam's attitude was clear: It respected and preserved the right of the ahl al kitab (Christians and Jews) to freedom of worship, despite their hostility and aggressive plotting. Islam also gave this right, stated clearly in the texts, to the people of other civilizations who were also qualified to make such decisions, such as the Persians and Magians, In spite of the fact that they were idolaters and worshippers of fire. It should therefore be perfectly clear that freedom of worship is a basic Islamic concept; and that the formation and application of Islamic cultural thought and methodology will never be correct unless this dimension is properly understood.

Freedom of Thought

The dimension of freedom in human thought stems from and complements the dimension of the freedom of worship. Freedom of thought is related to one's moral freedom, but comes within the framework of ideological commitment. In an Islamic society, one is free to act according to one's own conscious moral convictions, to make ideological or intellectual choices, and to take decisions on the basis of these convictions and choices. If one Is forced to do something of which one Is not convinced or which one has not freely accepted, as It goes against one's nature, then that is Islamically unacceptable. So, according to Islamic methodology and thought, the final decision rests with the individual, and is related to his or her free will and the choice which entails, a choice about which he or she alone will be asked, and the consequences of which he or she alone will have to bear In this world and the next.

Consult your heart ... even though people again and again have given you their legal opinions. (Ahmad)

The one who strays does so at his own loss: no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another (17:15).

In order to realize the purpose of existence and carry out the responsibilities of khalifah, freedom of thought and intellectual conviction are basic necessities. Oppressive abuse of thought and conviction denies the meaning and responsibility of life, and Is unacceptable to Islam and its methodology. Islamic thought can only be built on the basis of commitment to the rights of freedom of worship and thought.

An Islamic society is one where there Is freedom for creativity. But in the end, that society's progress, principles, and creativity are related only to the purpose of existence which is to reform and not to corrupt. Likewise, social behavior is based on the freedoms of worship and thought. This is not a theoretical or abstract matter, but a practical one.

Human behavior and action have a collective nature, that Is, they must be carried out on the understanding that they interact with and complement society at large. The collective dimension of social behavior does not mean the suppression of the Individuals will. Instead, It means that the Individuals freedom of action In society must be controlled.

The individual's freedom of worship and thought should be controlled by society's beliefs and practices. Likewise, the regulations, laws, and public institutions of society are all intended to achieve the aims which that society has agreed upon, to facilitate the Individuals performing to the best of his ability within those limits, and to enable him to express his wishes, way of thinking, and convictions through his actions. Society's regulations and public systems are based on the outlook of the majority. Even if an Individual has beliefs which stem from his own convictions, he still cannot act in a way which goes against the public system, because individual behavior on the basis of freedom of thought and conviction, with no regard for society's regulations, will make that freedom a means of spreading confusion throughout society. In this situation, all rights and freedoms will become forfeit, and all meanings of human existence will be lost.

The legitimacy of an action depends upon whether that action adheres to the aims and general regulations agreed upon by the majority. The legitimacy of the majority's decision is, in turn, based upon its desire to realize the basic goal of human existence which, according to the Islamic concept, Is to carry out the responsibilities of being a khalifah on earth. Any individual action which transgresses the regulations laid down by society loses Its legitimacy. However, the regulations themselves win lose their legitimacy If they are not intended to preserve the individual's rights to freedom of belief and thought.

Individual Muslim behavior and the system of public legislation within Muslim society derive their legitimacy from a commitment to Islam and to Its goals, purposes, principles, and values. Muslim legislators within a Muslim society cannot ignore the goals and values of Islam in the rules and regulations they propose because those rules are meant to release man's potential so that he may carry out his responsibilities as a khalifah on earth. Likewise, the Individual Muslims actions and behavior cannot ignore the regulations of the Muslim system as defined by the majority of Muslims on the basis of their commitment to Islam.

One of the basic principles of the Islamic system is that everything is lawful (halal) except that which has been expressly forbidden in the clear texts of wahy, or that which is determined to go against the basic interests of society.

In the light of this principle, we can understand the concept of enjoining good and forbidding evil (al amr bi al ma'ruf wa al nahy 'an al munkar) in Islam. As freedom of thought and belief, it represents advice, exhortation, guidance, and direction. As social behavior, it represents Jihad, action, sacrifice and the ability to protect society from being destroyed and losing sight of its objectives of renewal and bringing about reform.

The Principle of Tawakkul

Tawakkul means trust In Allah and acceptance of His divine decree (qada' and qadar) in every aspect of life. Tawakkul means that the believer's heart has faith in the power, wisdom, and justice of Allah, and believes that it is He who is in control of all things.

The tawakkul of the believer stems from his belief In the unseen and the predicates of the unseen world which Allah, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, controls; He alone has knowledge of It.

A Muslim's understanding of tawakkul is a natural and sensitive understanding which represents one of the most important sources of his or her psychological strength and energy; the source from which spring patience, forbearance, determination, contentment and happiness.

Verily, the decree, all of It, is Allah's (3:154).

O yes! Decree and creation belong to Him alone (7:54).

Of knowledge It Is only a little that is communicated to you (17:85).

Nor shall they compass any of His knowledge except as He wills it (2:255).

Your reach is over all things, In Mercy and Knowledge (40:7).

The Muslim's belief in the divine predicates and the methodology of his thought concerning them are that everything will ultimately be for the good, because the true Muslim gives thanks when he Is blessed and Is patient at the time of trial. Likewise, when he has good fortune in this life, he will be content. And if bad fortune befalls him and he Is patient and trusts in Allah, he will find his reward in the Hereafter. The Muslim's belief in the divine predicates is that a Muslims efforts will ultimately succeed, whatever material successes or failures these efforts may have in this life. It Is the belief that ultimately the truth will prevail and the jihad of the Ummah of truth will eventually be victorious; and that falsehood will fail and its supporters will finally be defeated in the conflict between good and evil throughout history, when all shall rise to face Allah.

And We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience (47:31).

And We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. To Us must you return (21:35).

And those who strive in Our [cause], - We will certainly guide them to Our paths (29:69).

And strive in His cause as you should strive, [with sincerity and under discipline] (22:78).

O believers! If you will aid [the cause of] Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly (47:7).

"I only desire [your] betterment to the best of my power; and my success [in my task] can only come from Allah. In Him I trust and unto Him I turn" (11:88).

An excellent reward for those who do [good]! - those who persevere In patience, and put their trust In their Lord and Cherisher (29:58-59).

But that which Is with Allah Is better, and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust In their Lord (42:36).

And to Him goes back every affair [for decision]: then worship Him, and put your trust In Him (11: 123).

An Important distinction needs to made here. Tawakkul is not the same as tawakul (fatalistic acceptance). Tawakkul is a Muslim's trust and acceptance of the divine predicates which no one can know, or understand, or control, except Allah. The meaning of tawakul, on the other hand, contains elements of Inertia, inability, and general incompetence, for it indicates a refusal to strive in accordance with the laws and standards which Allah has laid down for humankind. The fatalism inherent in the concept of tawakul spells both disobedience to the commandments of Allah and defiance of nature, fitrah Shortcomings in striving to know and use the appropriate means and to follow the natural laws do not stem from trust In Allah, or tawakkul. Rather, finding and using appropriate means are the essence of man's responsibility In this life; it Is that by which his will Is tested, and it is the purpose of his existence. But tawakul is a corruption of this sort of faith. Hence, when a bedouin who had confused tawakkul for tawakul came to the Prophet and asked about this matter, the Prophet explained it clearly: 'Take the appropriate action, then put your trust in Allah."

Following the same principle, 'Umar ibn al Khattab answered those who thought that he was fleeing from the decree of Allah when he refused to enter a land which was inflicted by the plague. They thought that neglecting to find the correct means, or that failing to work according to the natural laws which Allah had imposed upon the universe was true tawakkul and reliance upon Allah. 'Umar's reply was very clear: "I flee from one decree of Allah to another."

If one becomes infected, that is the decree of Allah; and if one seeks to protect oneself from that infection, that too is the decree of Allah. Everything happens by the will of Allah, and striving to use the appropriate means In accordance with the natural laws also stems from the decree of Allah. It is a way of obeying Him. Certainly, it does not imply kufr, or that one is not relying upon Him.

From this clear distinction between the meanings of tawakkul and tawakul, and in the light of what man's fitrah dictates, and Allah's commands to man to be a khalifah on earth and to manage and care for it, we can easily understand that tawakul is unnatural. Certainly, Islam does not teach It. On the contrary, It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Islamic meaning of tawakkul, or with the first Muslims' beliefs. In fact, it contradicts every aspect of the life of the Prophet and his Companions, their j1had, the efforts they expended in accordance with the natural laws, their planning, and their ways of thinking.

The Causality of Human Nature

If we understand the above, we will also appreciate that causality is a basic concept In the life and thought of Muslims. Fitrah and 'aqidah explain that Allah created the universe, subjected it to laws and standards, then entrusted it to man to care for, to master, and to strive to civilize and reform. Allah enabled man to carry out his responsibilities and express his will by using the appropriate means in accordance with the natural laws. So the Muslim mind and fitrah have no way to carry out their responsibilities of directing and subjecting creation, unless they adopt the appropriate means and strive to apply them in all fields of life.

He to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: no son has He begotten, nor has He a partner in His dominion: it is He Who created all things, and ordered them in due proportions (25:2).

Glorify the name of your Guardian-Lord Most High, Who has created, and further, given order and proportion; Who has ordained laws and granted guidance (87:1-3).

[Such is] the artistry of Allah, Who disposes of all things in perfect order: for He Is well acquainted with all that you do (27:88).

[Establish] Allah's handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind: [let there be] no change in the work [done] by Allah (30:30).

Allah created the heavens and the earth for just ends, and in order that each soul may find the recompense of what It has earned. and that none of them be wronged (45:22).

Many were the ways of Life that passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected the truth (3:137).

Verily We established his power on earth, and We gave him the ways and the means to all ends (18:84).

But no change will you find in Allah's way [of dealing], and no turning off (35:43).

Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another; that man can have nothing but what he strives for; that [the fruit of his striving will soon come in sight; then will he be rewarded with a reward complete (53:38-41).

And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect (45:13).

Surely, to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: so that He rewards those who do evil according to their deeds, and He rewards those who do good with what Is best (53:3 1).

He [it was] Who created death and life, to test you [in order to know] the best among you in deed (67:2).

He will give you stewardship over earth, and see what you do (7:129).

Nor did We create heaven and earth and all [that lies] between in jest (21:16).

This understanding of the meaning of life clarifies for human beings that their responsibility in this life depends on how they use the laws of nature ordained upon all creation by Allah. 7he role of humans, therefore, revolves around the ways In which they put these laws to use. Then, by dealing in an innovative manner with creation for practical purposes, humankind develops and prospers.

Unless there Is an appreciation In humans for the principles of causality, they will never be able to understand how they are responsible for their actions. When their minds cease to innovate, their actions will be stillborn, and their ability to perceive and understand will suffer decrease. This should explain the reasons for the success of the Prophets methodology: Jihad, ijtihad, organization, thought, and respect for the laws of nature.

The basis of Muslim strength and ability, as well as creativity, stems from faith in the face of obstacles and challenges, and In the determination to discover and use the appropriate means in accordance with the laws of nature. It Is only when Muslims exercise this manner of strength, ability, and creativity that they become deserving of the aid, succor, and success promised by Allah to those who truly believe.

The early generations of Muslims understood this, and the result was that they were successful. If Muslims today have any notions of achieving success and the aid of Allah, they will do so only if they seek the means appropriate to attaining their goals, political, scientific, educational, social, technological, or whatever.

If Muslims become content to live with their own shortcomings, they cannot realistically expect Allah to fulfill His promises to them. If they concern themselves with no more than the discussion of points of theology, they will continue in their backwardness. For true Muslims, there is no way that they will truly carry out their responsibilities unless they work in harmony with the natural order of the universe, unless they understand the requirements of their fitrah, unless they take guidance from their creed, and unless they adopt the methodology ordained by Allah for dealing responsibly with the universe.

Allah's promise Is the truth ... and whose word could be truer than Allah's? (4:122).

Islamic Methodology: Means and Application

Let us now discuss the areas in which the methodology of Islamic thought may be applied. Owing to the Influences of backwardness, the Isolation of the Intellectual leadership. and the concept of religion as understood through the filter of Western experience, the areas In which Islamic thought and methodology may find practical application have been relegated almost entirely to the spheres of the spiritual and personal concerns of individual believers. Plainly, however, the scope of this unique thought and methodology is potentially far greater.

It is clear that Islam directs the efforts of believers towards the fulfillment of their role as khulafa'. In short, everything in the seen world should be understood by Muslims as the legitimate field of their endeavors. There they may put to use their energies and abilities in order to deal with all that they require, and do so on the basis of the guidance, principles, values, and natural laws that pertain to the purpose of their existence as expounded by the revelation from the unseen world and the knowledge of Allah.

On the basis of this understanding, therefore, we may say that the methodology of Islamic thought is a comprehensive methodology which directs the activities of Muslims through all phases of reform and development.

Since the methodology of Islamic thought is distinguished by the comprehensiveness of its scope of application, It needs also to be distinguished by the comprehensiveness of Its means. Life, in all its aspects, Is the field of application for Muslims. In it they are obliged to understand, to seek knowledge, and to strive with every means at their disposal to direct the affairs of their lives toward their goals. Among the sound means of acquiring knowledge and understanding there are none that Muslims are to ignore, whether these be material, semantic, artistic, scientific, empirical, rational, quantitative, qualitative, theoretical, or analytical. But any means which inherently contradict the objectives of man's mission and nature, means that lead him astray into either meaningless or evil pursuits, must be rejected. If the Muslim mind is to regain its equilibrium and begin to fulfill its reformational responsibilities, it must extract itself from its preoccupation with petty controversy and devote itself to the creative adoption of the means with which to achieve its goals.

Having perceived that the methodology of Islamic thought is comprehensive in nature and scope, we come to the realization that the structure of Islamic knowledge, thought, and culture must be based on the everyday realities of life at the levels of the individual, society, the Ummah, and all of human civilization. The kind of knowledge to be sought and used, therefore, Is that which is sound in its principles, aims, and structure. Knowledge without these characteristics will be worthless when measured against the standards of Islamic teachings and principles. Any structure of Muslim knowledge, thought, or science that does not provide the Muslim mind with the means to achieve the best possible understanding and performance is not a true Islamic structure or methodology for thought, knowledge, or life. Without a comprehensive methodology, in terms of both scope and application, Muslims will never be able to fulfill their trust, propagate the message, or regain their position as God's vicegerents.

You are the best of people evolved for humankind; enjoining right and forbidding evil, and believing in Allah (3: 110).

In view of the success of Islamic methodology as practiced by the early generations of Muslims, despite all the challenges they faced and their lack of experience in setting up institutions, we have no recourse but to study that methodology and the innovative ijtihad it produced, so as to understand better how principles were put into motion. The early generations and those who followed close behind them were able to preserve for us the texts of revelation from which they drew their inspiration and derived the principles of their methodology. These, in turn, became the subject of much academic Inquiry and study. Owing to the strained relations between the scholars, however, and the political leadership of the Ummah, no attention of similar significance was paid to the practical spheres of life. Thus, very little ijtihad was applied to questions and Issues of politics, economics, and society in general. The result of the repression of ijtihad in these spheres has been that until this day there has been no formulation of these sciences from a purely Islamic perspective. In other words, the sort of integrated methodology needed to understand and deal Islamically with the realities of life and society was never developed.

In fact, Islamic thought has not progressed much further than to record the principles key to the methodology which governed the formulations and strategies of the early generations, including the secondary source methodology (discussed earlier) that included maslahah, daf' al darar, 'urf, istihsan, and istishab. So In order to make Islamic thought and methodology of use to the Ummah, we must examine the earlier methodology and then distinguish between sources, means, and fields of study and application.

Islamic thought must undertake a methodological study to articulate the Shari'ah's alms, purposes and directives so that these may serve as introductions to Islamic studies in various fields of life: politics, economics, psychology, education, the arts, and technology. Then, in the light of these general introductions, specialized methodologies may be established for each one of these fields. In this way, Islamic thought will be able to play its role in contributing to the social sciences. Islamic religious and educational Institutions can no longer confine their studies to the texts of revelation, or remain isolated from the fields of social and technological studies. All of these are different aspects of human life and activity; and all of them represent fields in which Islam has some application. It is therefore the Muslim's responsibility to develop the methodological and disciplinary principles according to which these Islamic sciences can be established.

In order to establish the basic Islamic premises representing the alms, values, and tenets of Islam, Muslim thinkers will first have to classify the texts of revelation, the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Thereafter, they will have to do the same with the literature of the classical intellectual legacy. In this second exercise, they will have to sift through all those works, and determine which of them showed biases, either political or sectarian, or the influence of the myths, legends, and isra'iliyat which crept Into many of the later works of that legacy. Such a classification could be carried out in the various disciplines and sciences, each in accordance with the dictates of a modem Islamic perspective. This classification is necessary so that Muslim students, researchers, and specialists will have easy access to the revelational texts and the intellectual heritage, and thus be enabled to derive from them comprehensive sets of aims, values, and principles. Then, in the light of these, Muslim scholars will be able to begin to work creatively in their various disciplines.

Clearly, the situation of the Muslim world today is one of suffering and confusion. Contemporary Islamic thought and sciences offer no answers to its needs and challenges. On the contrary, these seem only to add to the average Muslim's confusion. Under the circumstances, then, Islamic thought has no alternative but to begin reforming the existing secular sciences by laying down the premises necessary for the establishment of uniquely Islamic approaches in all fields of knowledge.

The texts of the Sunnah need to be classified according to which hadiths are sound in both form and content, and in a way that will facilitate dealing with this material, in terms of subjects or key words, by researchers. Then, besides classifying and regulating the texts on a methodological basis, and presenting the hadith reports clearly, there need to be historical studies of the Prophet's times and those of the early generations: studies that will assist researchers in better understanding the cultural and social circumstances under which the hadiths were revealed, and to which the efforts of the first generations responded.

A Word in Closing

Academic circles in the West today and the secularist Muslims who follow them attempt to weigh Islam on the same scale they use to weigh all religions. To their way of thinking, Islam, like all religions, should be allowed to have no connection with modern society and the policies which govern It. In their estimation, Islam and religion In general are little more than ideas from the past, or mythological lore of no consequence to the present age. Such ideas, they hold, belong in museums, or should at best be confined to the realm of the personal spiritual experience.

Still, if this sort of thinking is in any way valid In relation to religions other than Islam, religions in which the original teachings and beliefs have been corrupted and often replaced with the Incredible, this is certainly not true of Islam. It is very Important to realize that the methods of presenting Islam used by its adherents today are less than adequate for explaining its eternal truths, or for showing how it differs from the others, or Its relevance to the world of today. This can only be accomplished through the sort of serious scholarship that was mentioned above, scholarship that ultimately transforms Ideas into action and a living reality which demands recognition and respect from all quarters of contemporary society.

O you who believe! Respond to Allah and to His Messenger when He calls you to what will revive you! (8:24)

We revealed the Book to you in explanation of every thing, and as guidance, mercy, and good tidings to those who believe (16:89)

Then is one who walks headlong, with his face downcast, better guided? Or one who walks evenly on a straight path? (67:22)

He it Is that sent His Messenger with guidance and the true religion, so that He may proclaim It over all other religions (61:9)

Who is better spoken than he who calls to Allah, and does good deeds, and says: 'I am one of the believers,' (41:33).