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IPE Methodology: Qur'an, Sunnah, Ijma and Ijtehad 

Bismillah ur-Rahman ur-Rahim 

The fundamental epistemology of Islamic socio-scientific inquiry is premised on the Qur'an, Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) and Ijma (consensus by means of discursions on specific issues). The discursions that establish Ijma form extensive interactions among the agents involved to form certain rules of conduct and comprehension on specific issues facing the socio-scientific order at every moment of the life of an Islamic society, nation, community and the world nation (Ummah). Such interactions that are premised on the above-mentioned Islamic epistemological roots comprise an activity called Ijtehad. It is important to note here the extensive disciplinary nature of Ijtehad, for although the Islamic epistemology is kept immutable on matters of discurions, yet there is the widest nature of discourse possible on interpretations of the injunctions of the Qur'an and Sunnah on specific issues facing the Islamic community at any time. Secondly, such discourse can extend interdisciplinarity to the widest possible field of knowledge. In this case all that combine together to derive rules from the Qur'an called Ahkam, become accepted as valid Islamic research methodology. In this sense, Ijma itself is neither a static concept nor a state of full consensus at any time and space. Ijma can be majority rule on a given issue but consensus is sought as discursions continue over the life of the Ummah.

The epistemological foundation of Islamic socio-scientific order is thus seen to be premised on a pervasiveness of knowledge and not on the coercion of laws, rules and discipline that may emanate from self-righteous perceptions on specific issues. Now various kinds of knowledge as they are derived from the Qur'an and Sunnah are to be understood here. These are the Qur'anic precepts of Stock of Knowledge, Flow of Knowledge, the knowledge of the non- anthropic animate world, knowledge of the inanimate world and the knowledge of the hidden world. We will explain these briefly now. 

The Stock of Knowledge is the domain of the Complete knowledge that is the seat of Allah Himself, which He does not share completely with anyone else. The Qur'an thus attributes to Allah as the Lord of the worlds and as the bestower of forms. This is also the active seat of knowledge that not only bestows essence but also form according to that essence to the observed world. Thus Allah becomes the Creator, Sustainer and Cherisher of the worlds and guides us according to the right path. The Qur'an now becomes the manifestation of this creative power and meaning. It becomes the complete book, the clear book, the book of revelation ad infinitum. These are some of the attributes as to how the Qur'an self- references itself as the seat of knowledge. Yet it must be understood that the essence of the Qur'an is the Tablet, the Lauh Mahfuz (the Ummal Kitab). This essence alone is the Complete Knowledge that forms the Stock of Knowledge. It creates pervasively, giving explanation, comprehension and form. But by itself the Stock of Knowledge remains uncreated, unchanging.

The Qur'an presents the multiplying power of Truth over Falsehood according to the scale of 10:1. This is figurative in the sense of a great multiplier that opens up as the interactions open up in the quest for the Divine Laws at work according to the epistemological roots. Thus, Falsehood itself is the creation of the Stock of Knowledge for the purpose of establishing the Truth by opposites. The Originary equivalences of creation can now be established in the sense of the completeness of the Stock. This is, Allah=Truth=Qur'an (essence)=Stock. Likewise, since Falsehood is complete mathematical complementation of Truth, therefore, Devil=Faleshood=non-Qur'an=Uncertainty. Now furthermore, since the denseness of Truth is 10 times that of Falsehood and since according to the Qur'an, creation follows the path of Truth, therefore, with the increase in Truth with the advance of the worlds to eternity, the measure of Truth overwhelms the measure of Faleshood, although both of these attain their own cardinal measures separately according to the mathematical complementation process.

Now what then is Akhira (Hereafter) according to the comprehension of the Stock of Knowledge? Since Truth must grow to its fullest cumulative power to overwhelm the cumulative power of Falsehood, therefore, Akhira=fullest cumulative power of truth. This in turn cannot be anything else but the originary Stock. Hence, according to the Stock of Knowledge creation is completed in the bedrock of knowledge and the same equivalences are once again established. That is, Stock=Akhira. The Qur'an says in this regard that Allah will certainly mainfest the inner truth of creation and He would have certainly have done so even though the much simpler act of creation of man was not to be there. The Sunnah says in this regard as follows: When Allah created the worlds, He commanded the arch angel, Gibrael to write. Gibrael said, 'O Lord! What am I to write?' Allah then commanded Gibrael to write from the Beginning to the End.

The implications of the precept of the Stock of Knowledge is not an empty abstract philosophy in the reconstruction of Islamic socio-scientific thinking and of Islamic social contract. On the contrary, the absence of this Originary epistemology would leave Islamic thought in a vacuum. Let us evaluate brielfy this statement.

The Stock is the essence of the most irreducible knowledge embalmed in the Divine Laws for the benefit of the worlds created, sustained and cherished by the Creator. If on the other hand, it was possible for several domains of knowledges to exist at this level, there would certainly have been chaos and inconsistencies. Thus, Allah becomes the Unique Creator without a partner in His Domain of Complete Knowledge. This is the meaning of Oneness of God as the Creator and Sustainer of the worlds (Tawhid). The essence of this Oneness reflects on the domain of Complete Knowledge as the most unified domain of knowledge. We will then show that this Unified Knowledge also creates the process of unification in temporal experience.

On the contrary, since Falsehood (De-knowledge) is inversely changeable to the growth of knowledge embodied in creation, therefore, multiplicity and plurality become the characteristics of de-knowledge. This leads to an impossibility in the completeness of knowledge as an originary precept. Consequently, there remains no possibility for unity of knowledge among diversities nor thereby a methodology to translate this differentiated state into a unification of knowledge. A student of philosophy of history and sciences therefore finds a distinct departure between the Islamic philosophers who mostly build their worldview around unification and continuity, and the occidental sciences that builds around differentiation and individuation.

Now we move on to the second form of knowledge that emanate from the Qur'an. This is the Flow of Knowledge. Flow of knowledge means the derivation of temporal knowledge from the body of Divine Laws as embodied in the Stock. But since the knowledge of the worlds, be these anthropic, other animate, inaimate and hidden worlds (Allam al-Ghuyub), is a little of the Divine Stock, therefore, there is an incremental process of learning from lesser to higher levels of certainty with the process of cumulation of such flows of knowledge. The Qur'an says in this regard that while it is not possible to acquire complete knowledge by the world, therefore, flows of knowledge occur as if across the veil and the great messengers completing with the Prophet Muhammad have been sent to instruct human beings on the divine laws as derived by the flows.

When we bring the Flow concept of knowledge to interline with the Stock concept we deduce the following delineation of the knowledge-centered worldview given by Islamic epistemology: The epistemology of Qur'an, Sunnah, Ijma and Ijtehad is found to establish extensive interactions among systems and agents to derive rules (Ahkam) respecting to specific issues at hand. These interactions denote the flows of knowledge. The primacy of the rules so formed then generate courses of actions, which when fulfilled in the real world create meaning, usefulness and wellbeing. Real entities then come into occurrence. Take an example here. If I perceive a berry in a desert, I am not sure whether it is poisonous or not. Only if I have knowledge aforehand by some means, can I decipher the true nature of that berry. Hence it is knowledge that establishes the material nature of the berry as a good or a bad. We take another example here. The inception of human life on earth is Qur'anically known to be a development of the embryo once Allah has breathed into the embryo some of His Divine Attributes (Fitra). The Qur'an says that God is the bestower of forms. That is, the Stock of Knowledge becomes the a priori creator of materiality, just as it is the root of Flows of knowledge as well.

In this way, all material forms are yielded by knowledge flows derived from the Stock. Hence materiality is simple a knowledge- augmented event in time, as interactions proceed and intensify to derive rules from the Divine Laws of the Stock. The Flows thus perpetually evolve while the Stock remains unchanged and always fecund to create and sustain. The nature of interactions that so appear being premised solely on the Stock that is explained through the Flows, must therefore be commonly premised on this uniquely most irreducible root of knowledge -- Tawhid. Thus all the diversities that emanate from the flows combine through interactions premised on the Unity of the Stock. There can then be no differentiations and individuation among the flows in spite of the diversities that emanate by means of discursions on the issues at hand. Thus a unity in diversity emerges as the principal methodology and worldview of Islamic socio-scientific order. This is the Principle of Universal Complementarity as opposed to marginalization, differentiation and individuation. While this is not the paper to expound these concepts thoroughly, the student of economic theory will note that the neoclassical idea of marginal rate of substitution is completely replaced by the Principle of Universal Complementarity.

The Principle of Universal Complementarity is causally linked with the circularly evolutionary interrelationship between knowledge flows (a priori) and the emerging material forms (a posteriori). The a priori and the a posteriori events now become circularly reinforcing. That is, while all material forms are determined by the primacy of knowledge flows, the latter is simple a bundle of augmented knowledge flows due to knowledge-centered induction. Besides the continuity of change through diversity in unity must mean the reproduction of new knowledge from the knowledge-augmented material forms, etc. This in turn makes the knowledge flows as the only most unifying basis of evolutionary forms and thus become endogenous ethics in the extensive systemic sense. We then have the following definition of a process: [Stock] ->Flows-> Materiality-> New Flows-> New Materiality-> etc. in the cumulative sense of the flows. The speed of this is directly related with the denseness of the interactions, and hence of the knowledge flow space inter- and intra-systemically. Consequently, there are one-to-one correspondences among knowledge flows, materiality, diversity, complementarity and evolution via trhe medium of complementarity and hence endogeneity of ethics across systems and issues.

The continuity and evolutionary nature of the knowledge- centered worldview are established by means of certain attributes that intrinsic to this process. These are, first the primacy of knowledge creates material forms. Second, the existence by cause and effect of such knowledge-induced material forms establish the universal principle of just balance followed by its affirmation through material enjoyment of justice. Thirdly thereby, just balance gives rise to just purpose. Fourthly, the result of just purpose of creation through the mechanism of the knowledge-induced flows of material forms is certainty of experience. Fifthly, the vector, v = (origination,just balance,just purpose, certainty) causes wellbeing (felicity). Now v alongwith wellbeing reaffirms recreative power of the universes and all that there is in them. In this way origination leads to reorigination in continuity toward the final end of completeness in Akhira. But furthermore, since Akhira=Stock, therefore, there is a one-to-one interrelationship between knowledge and materiality as the process of circular interrelationships between these cumulate to the end in Akhira. Akhira and Tawhid thus become the central cause and determinants as well as the goal of the experiential order. Finally, by the epistemology of the Unity Precept the dynamics of the attributes shown here causes inter- and intra-systemic interactions and integration while circular evolution of the knowledge-centered worldview proceeds. This aspect of the descriptive process conveys the precept of unification by means of knowledge flows.

In the light of the Qur'an and Sunnah, the precept of Ahkam formation and the understanding of the epistemology of Tawhid for the Islamic socio-scientific order now form the immutable axiomatic foundation of the Truth statements of Islamic Laws finding meaningful presence in all issues of life. Just like any axiomatic basis of the sciences (particularly the mathematical sciences), Tawhid and Akhira become equivalent and immutable axioms of a socio-scientific order that is premised on the epistemology of Unity followed by unification by means of knowledge.

The Qur'an prescribes the Process of Shura (consultative assembly) in terms of the attributes of Stock followed by the Flows and the return of all determinations to Allah. Thus the methodology of the Islamic socio-scientific order is found to be premised on a globally interactive knowledge-centered worldview. It is for this reason that we have posed the question to which an answer is now evident. The Originary epistemology of Tawhid is not an abstract philosophy but an indispensable one to understand and apply the Islamic methodology of the socio-scientific order in all aspects of life. Without such an epistemological foundation no precise Islamic approach is possible. It is true that within the methodology prescribed here, many diversities will exist toward making Tawhid and Akhira as the axiom of the methodology emanating from the Qur'an, Sunnah combined with interactions and integration among systems, worlds, beings. In the anthropic world we call these convergences as Ijma and Ijtehad. Yet the meaning and application of the Shuratic Process for all of systems is much wider in scope. 

Finally and brielfy, the knowledge of the inanimate and other animate worlds together with the hidden world is seen here to be an incomplete transformation between these worlds and the flows of knowledge inculcated in an anthropic presence. Whatever makes evident sense to the human world is the circular flows between the a priori (Tawhid) and the a posteriori (knowledge-induced materiality and new knowledge). The comprehension, explanation and application of this to matters of thought and action need the human mind. Whereas, the intensification of knowledge formation recreating the domains of knowledge and materiality through the circular interrelationships and bringing about unification of knowledge systemically, opens up possibilities of incrementally knowing the hitherto unknown. Consequently, the meaning of knowledge of the inanimate, other animate and hidden worlds is directly in relationship with the anthropic meaning of knowledge flows. Thus, the above-mentioned circular flow of the Shuratic Process that causes and arises from universal complementarity and endogenizes ethics (=knowledge) at once also explains the knowledge embeddedness of all other worlds.

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