Islamic studies

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Islamic studies

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Qur'anic education for offenders at the Central Jail Faisalabad in Faisalabad, Pakistan

In a Muslim context, Islamic studies can be an umbrella term for all virtually all of academia, both originally researched and as defined by the Islamization of knowledge. It includes all the traditional forms of religious thought, such as kalam (Islamic theology) and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and also assimilates fields generally considered to be secular in the West, such as Islamic science and Islamic economics.

In a non-Muslim context, Islamic studies generally refers to the historical study of Islam, Muslim culture, Muslim history and Islamic philosophy. Academics from diverse disciplines participate and exchange ideas about predominantly Muslim societies, past and present. In spite of their non-religious approach, some non-Muslim scholars have written works which are widely read by Muslims. Before 1980, such non-Muslim scholars in this field were called "Islamicists" and the discipline was known as Oriental studies, now often Asian studies. Many universities offer academic degrees on the subject of Islamic studies.

Contents

History of the field

The first attempt of Europe to understand Islam as at topic of modern scholarship (as opposed to a Christological heresy) was within the context of 19th-century Orientalism.

Some orientalists[who?] praised the religious tolerance of Islamic countries in contrast with the Christian West, or the status of scholarship in Mandarin China. With the translation of the Avesta by Abraham Anquetil-Duperron and the discovery of the Indo-European languages by Sir William Jones complex connections between the early history of Eastern and Western cultures emerged. However, these developments occurred in the context of rivalry between France and Britain for control of India, and were associated with attempts to understand colonised cultures in order more effectively to control them. Liberal economists such as James Mill denigrated Eastern countries on the grounds that their civilizations were static and corrupt.[citation needed] Even Karl Marx characterised the "Asiatic mode of production" as unchanging.

Themes

It greatly aids understanding of list of Islamic terms in Arabic especially as used in early Muslim philosophy, since these provide the ontology upon which all sects of Islam later built.

History

Islamic history presents several instances in which foreign ideas have intruded within the world view of Muslim civilizations, ideas which have in more than one instance been secular in the sense defined above. The first set of historical circumstances in the career of islam concerned the Arab environment where islam was finally revealed. There were many "pagan" Arabian practices and traditions such as blood-feuds, absolute allegiance to the tribe and cults of idol worship which were banned in the universal perspective of Islam. (Chapter 4, Islamic Studies, by:Nasar S)

The field of Islamic history includes the early development of the Islamic faith, as well as its continuation into the different rulers and denominations of the Islamic civilization, and confluence of its philosophy and history where these affected each other:

Philosophy

Islamic philosophy is a part of Islamic studies. It is a longstanding attempt to create harmony between faith, reason or philosophy, and the religious teachings of Islam. A Muslim engaged in this field is called a Muslim philosopher.

It is divided in fields like:

Theology

Kalam (علم الكلام) is one of the "religious sciences" of Islam. In Arabic the word means "discussion", and refers to the Islamic tradition of seeking theological principles through dialectic. A scholar of kalam is referred to as a mutakallim.

Mysticism

Sufism (Arabic: تصوف; taṣawwuf‎) is a mystic tradition of Islam based on the pursuit of spiritual truth as it is gradually revealed to the heart and mind of the Sufi (one who practices Sufism).

It might also be referred to as Islamic mysticism. While other branches of Islam generally focus on exoteric aspects of religion, Sufism is mainly focused on the direct perception of truth or God through mystic practices based on divine love. Sufism embodies a number of cultures, philosophies, central teachings and bodies of esoteric knowledge.

Law

Islamic jurisprudence relates to everyday and social issues in the life of Muslims. It is divided in fields like:

  • the study of sharia law
  • Islamic economics
  • Islamic finance
  • Islamic commercial law
  • Islamic family law
  • Qur'an and Hadith studies

Key distinctions include those between fiqh, hadith and ijtihad.

Sciences

Islam and science is science in the context of traditional religious ideas of Islam, including its ethics and prohibitions. A Muslim engaged in this field is called a Muslim scientist

This is not the same as science as conducted by any Muslim in a secular context. Certain liberal movements in Islam eschew the practice of Islamic science, arguing that science should be considered separate from religion as it is today in the West. As in Catholicism however, believers argue that the guiding role of religion in forming ethics of science cannot be ignored and must impose absolute constraints on inquiry.

Science in medieval Islam examines the full range of scientific investigation in the Muslim world, whether performed within a religious or secular context. Significant progress in science was made in the Muslim world during the Middle Ages, especially during the Islamic Golden Age, which is considered a major period in the history of science.

Art

Islamic art, a part of the Islamic studies, has throughout history has been mainly abstract and decorative, portraying geometric, floral, Arabesque, and calligraphic designs. Unlike the strong tradition of portraying the human figure in Christian art, Islamic art does not include depictions of human beings. The lack of portraiture is due to the fact that early Islam forbade the painting of human beings, including the Prophet, as Muslims believe this tempts followers of the Prophet to idolatry. This prohibition against human beings or icons is called aniconism. Over the past two centuries, especially given increased contact with Western civilization, this prohibition has relaxed.

Literature

This field includes the study of modern and classical Arabic and the literature written in those languages. It also often includes other modern, classic or ancient languages of the Middle East and other areas that are or have been part of, or influenced by, Islamic culture, such as Hebrew, Turkish, Persian, Armenian and Uzbek.

Architecture

Islamic architecture is the entire range of architecture that has evolved within Muslim culture in the course of the history of Islam. Hence the term encompasses religious buildings as well as secular ones, historic as well as modern expressions and the production of all places that have come under the varying levels of Islamic influence.

It is very common to mistake Persian Architecture for Islamic Architecture and thus advisable to read both articles.

Sociology and psychology

Comparative religion

Islamic comparative religion is the study of religions in the view of Islam. This study may be undertaken from a conservative Muslim perspective, which often sees Judaism and Christianity as having been originally similar to Islam, and later developing away from the root monotheist religion. However, some liberal movements within Islam dispute the conservative view as being ahistorical; they claim that Islam is the end-result rather than the origin point of monotheist thought.

Economics

Islamic economics is economics in accordance with Islamic law. Because the Qur'an spoke against usury in the context of early Muslim society, it generally entails trying to remove or redefine interest rates from financial institutions. In doing so, Islamic economists hope to produce a more "Islamic society". However, liberal movements within Islam may deny the need for this field, since they generally see Islam as compatible with modern secular institutions and law.

Journals

See also

Notes

External links


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