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  1. Islamisation of Knowledge: Problems, Principles and Prospective click
  2. Islamic Thought in the Modern World click
  3. An Approach to Knowledge and Human Limitations click
  4. The Balance Sheet of Western Philosophy in this Century click
  5. Man between Two Laws: A Qur’anic Perspective in Understanding Self and Understanding the Other click


Religion & Islamic Studies
The application of critical thinking in the process of jarḥ wa-taʿdīl in the science of ḥadīth PDF Print E-mail
Ismail Abdullah

The process of critical thinking could be employed in evaluating the strength and weakness of any argument. As regards jarḥ wa-taʿdīl (impugnment and validation), muḥaddithūn (scholars of ḥadīth) examine the reliability and trustworthiness of the transmitters to establish the acceptability of their report as being attributed to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). Jarḥ wa-taʿdīl, which constitutes the criticism of the chain of transmitters and textual criticism, is regarded as the first part of ḥadīth criticism. This study analyses the elements of critical thinking in differentiating between fact and opinion, author bias rhetoric, comparing and contrasting, judgment and logical conclusion, etc., whereby these elements are crucial to determine the reliability and trustworthiness of narrators of ḥadīth. Moreover, it discusses the application of these techniques as propounded by themuḥaddithūn in jarḥ wa-taʿdīl...full text in PDF

Objectivity and the Scientific Study of Religion PDF Print E-mail

Anis Malik Thoha

The concern for and the debate on “objectivity” in the scientific study of religions led scholars to advocate two major approaches known as “History of Religion” and “Phenomenology of Religion.” Both approaches are claimed to be “descriptive” and “value-free” as they stringently enforce the principle of epochê or distanciation to ensure objectivity. However, there are scholars who argue that objectivity (be it “descriptive” or “value-free”) is ontologically questionable and epistemologically impossible. It is a selfdefeating concept and a myth. They argue that objectivity is principally and directly concerned with “the object” under investigation regardless of the types of approach used. Full text in PDF

The Significance of Toshihiko Izutsu’s Legacy for Comparative Religion PDF Print E-mail

Kojiro Nakamura

Toshihiko Izutsu explored the Oriental philosophies and clarified their comprehensive structural framework by using comparative philosophy and linguistic philosophy. Izutsu made three contributions that are deemed especially crucial to the study of comparative religion. First, the attitude of empathy he proposed and applied to himself, and his strict methodology of semantics in interpreting philosophical texts. This attitude is also important when one is trying to understand the faith of others. Second, his delineation of the scheme of the basic structure of Oriental philosophy for the comparative study of religions. Third, his study of Oriental (mystical) philosophy is a significant contribution to the study of mysticism. However, there are still problems which remain to be addressed in comparative religion. Full text in PDF

The Brain and Religion: How Do They Relate to Each Other? PDF Print E-mail

K Helmut Reich

This essay evolves around three concepts: (i) brain, (ii) religion, and (iii) relationship. Much of current misunderstandings and disputes result from using these concepts in differing ways without making the differences clear. Therefore, the stage is set with the corresponding definitions and a brief summary of the present state of affairs as understood here. That will also indicate the comparatively narrow content-related limits of the present considerations, which, from an enlarged perspective, are embedded in much wider concerns. Having thus situated the area under discussion here, two current major issues will be dealt with: “Is the brain the generator of religion,” and “Is the brain sufficient as a guide for living a satisfactory life?” Present answers are, respectively “Scientifically speaking, more data are needed before coming to a definite conclusion,” and “No.” In making the relevant arguments and statements, I partly draw on my earlier work. Full text in PDF

Book Review: Muhammad Asad: His contribution to Islamic learning. PDF Print E-mail

A number of studies on Muhammad Asad have been published over the past years in the form of journal articles and online texts. But there has not been any extensive study of his ideas and works to date. Therefore, Andrabi’s book, which is based on his Ph.D. thesis, is a welcome addition to the life and works of Muhammad Asad (Leopold Weiss).  Andrabi’s book under review consists of six chapters. In the first chapter, the author shares his thoughts on Asad’s life before his conversion from Judaism to Islam. It successfully chronicles Asad’s experiences in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan while serving the governments of these countries. One of the major shortcomings of this chapter, indeed the book is that it lacks a theoretical framework, which could have been used to assess Asad’s general contributions as a Muslim intellectual. Full text in PDF

A Maqāsidī approach to contemporary application of the Sharī‘ah PDF Print E-mail

Jasser Auda

This paper explores how Maqāṣid al-Sharī‘ah (higher purposes and intents of Islamic law) could contribute to the application of the Sharī‘ah itself in contemporary Muslim societies and to making the appropriate related juridical policies. The soundness of the application of the Shar‘īah and related policies is subject to the degree of universality and flexibility of the Islamic rulings with changing circumstances, are discussed from various viewpoints in this paper. After a survey of the system of values that Maqāṣid al-Sharī‘ah represent, three methods are explored: (1) differentiating between scripts that are means (wasā’il) to higher ends and scripts that are ends (ahdāf) in their own right, (2) preferring a multi-dimensional understanding for the conciliation of opposing juridical evidence, instead of reductionist methods such as abrogation (naskh) and elimination (tarjīḥ), and (3) achieving a universality of Sharī‘ah across cultures via the consideration of customs (al-‘urf). A number of examples are provided throughout the paper in order to explain the impact of the proposed methods on contemporary Islamic rulings and juridical policies related to them. Full Text in PDF

Islam as “The Middle Path“ PDF Print E-mail

Larry Poston

 This article describes an observable pattern in Western converts’ journey to Islam. It shows how at an early stage in their life, many Westerners are disenchanted with their religion, Christianity or Judaism, and proceed to explore radical alternatives including new age religion, eastern religions and even various cults. Their search for spiritual and religious identity is usually not satiated by these alternatives and so they gradually gravitate toward Islam. The author argues that in Islam these converts find reason, order, meaning, and a contemporary relevance that is missing in western as well as eastern religions. It is the opportunity to traverse the “Middle Path,” familiar yet new, similar yet different, which the author suggests may well be the reason why these “seekers” eventually find whatever they are looking for in Islam. 

Joseph in the Torah and the Qur’an: An Assessment of Malik Bennabi’s Narrative PDF Print E-mail


Ibrahim Zein

Malek Bennabi’s The Qur’anic Phenomenon provides an excellent analysis of Qur’anic revelation through the application of the phenomenology. A closer analysis of the work shows that Bennabi’s major contribution is to be found in his narrative strategies and comparative style as evidenced, among others, in chapters 13 and 14 of the Qur’anic Phenomenon. Here Bennabi provides a balanced picture of the story of Joseph in the Torah and the Qur’an. Bennabi’s textual strategy, narrative and meta-narrative brings out the uniqueness of the Qur’anic account of Joseph. The reconstruction of the story of Joseph opened a new type of discourse in understanding the relationship between religion and modernity.

Malek Bennabi (1905 – 1973), born in Constantine, is an eminent scholar and thinker of post World War II Algeria and one of the foremost intellectuals of the modern Muslim world. Educated in Paris and Algiers in Engineering, he later based himself in Cairo, writing and lecturing on what he believed to be the grand issues: Qur’an, science, civilisation, culture and ideas. Of his many works, The Qur’anic Phenomenon is certainly the most important work written about the Qur’an in the 20th century.1 It provides an excellent analysis of Qur’anic revelation through the application of the phenomenology as a method of understanding and appreciating the Qur’anic text. Given the fact that phenomenology as a method was well-established in Islamic studies, Bennabi’s claim to his use of phenomenology as a new direction or an innovation in Islamic scholarship is unlikely to be accepted. However, the genuine contribution of Bennabi is in both his narrative strategies and comparative style.2

This study focuses on chapters 13 and 14 of The Qur’anic Phenomenon. In these two chapters, Bennabi’s narrative reached its climax providing a balanced picture of the story of Joseph in both the Torah and the Qur’an. While the language of difference is not over emphasised, the uniqueness of the Qur’anic account of the story of Joseph has been well portrayed.3 This success is largely due to Bennabi’s narrative and comparative mode of analysis without compromising his faith or objectivity. This has been explained in this study by paying closer attention to the problem of textual strategies, narrative and meta-narrative.

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