0804-Islamic Epistemology and the Solution of the Education Crisis

Paper presented at an Epistemology Reform Workshop held at Dhakka and attended by faculties of 5 public universities: Dhakka University, Jahangir Nagar University, Bangladesh Open University, and the National University on 4th April 2008 by Dr Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. MB ChB (MUK), MPH (Harvard), DrPH (Harvard) Professor of Epidemiology and Islamic Medicine, Institute of Medicine, University of Brunei and Visiting Professor of Epidemiology at University of Malaya. EM omarkasule@yahoo.com  WEB: http://omarkasule.tripod.com


The paper starts by summarizing basic concepts and paradigms of Islamic epistemology and methodology of research. It then discusses the current crisis of knowledge and education in the ummat whose resolution will be by Islamization of sciences. Islamization of sciences is defined as identifying biases in research methodology that reflect a non-tauhidi parochial world-view. This is followed by Islamization of the disciplines of knowledge which is reformulating basic epistemological concepts and paradigms of various disciplines from an Islamic tauhidi paradigm characterized by objectivity, istiqamat al ma’arifat, and universality, ‘aalamiyyat al ma’arifat, of knowledge. The paper concludes by a brief expose of the on-going experiment of an Islamic Input in the medical curricula.



1.1 WHAT IS ISLAMIC EPISTEMOLOGY?, nadhariyat al ma’arifat al islamiyyat

Epistemology is the science of knowledge, ‘ilm al ‘ilm. It is the study of the origin, nature, and methods of knowledge with the aim of reaching certainty. Islamic epistemology, nadhariyyat ma’rifiyyat Islamiyyat, is based on the tauhidi paradigm. Its fixed parameters are from revelation, wahy. Its variable parameters are conditioned by varying spatio-temporal circumstances. Its sources are revelation (Qur’an and sunnat), empirical observation and experimentation, and human reason. Its main challenge today is achieving objectivity, al istiqamat,  which is staying on the path of truth and not being swayed by whims and desires.  Istiqamat comes only next to iman, as the Prophet said 'qul amantu bi al laahi thumma istaqim'.


1.2 NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE, tabi’at al ma’arifat al insaniyyat

The Qur’anic terms for knowledge are: ‘ilm, ma’arifat, hikmat, basiirat, ra’ay, dhann, yaqeen, tadhkirat, shu’ur, lubb, naba’, burhan, dirayat, haqq, and tasawwur. The terms for lack of knowledge are: jahl, raib, shakk, dhann, and ghalabat al dhann. Grades of knowledge are ‘ilm al yaqeen, ‘ayn al yaqeen, and haqq al yaqeen. Knowledge is correlated with iman, ‘aql, qalb, and taqwah. The Qur’an emphasizes the evidential basis of knowledge, hujjiyat al burhan. The seat of knowledge is the ‘aql, and qalb. Allah’s knowledge is limitless but human knowledge is limited. Humans vary in knowledge.  Knowledge is public property that cannot be hidden or monopolized. Humans, angels, jinn, and other living things have varying amounts of knowledge. Knowledge can be absolute for example revealed knowledge. Other types of knowledge are relative, nisbiyat al haqiqat. The probabilistic nature of knowledge arises out of limitations of human observation and interpretation of physical phenomena.


1.3 HISTORY OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, tarikh al ma’rifat al insaniyat

Adam was the first human to learn actively when he was taught the names of all things. Human knowledge after that grew by empirical trial and error or through revelations. Development of language and writing played a big role in knowledge development. Publication and telecommunication are responsible for the current knowledge revolution.


1.4 SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE, masadir al ma’arifat:

All knowledge is from Allah. Humans can get it in a passive way from revelations or in an active way by empirical observation and experimentation. Whatever knowledge they get is ultimately from Allah. Knowledge may be innate or acquired. Humans have knowledge of the creator even before birth. Some human knowledge is instinct. Most human knowledge is learned as observation, ‘ilm tajriibi; transmission, 'ilm naqli; or analysis and understanding, 'ilm 'aqli. Seeking to know is an inner human need that satisfies curiosity.


Revelation, wahy, inference, ‘aql, and empirical observation of the universe, kaun, are major sources of acquired knowledge accepted by believers. In terms of quantity, empirical knowledge, ‘ilm tajriibi, comes first. In terms of quality revealed knowledge, ‘ilm al wahy, comes first. There is close interaction and inter-dependence between revelation, inference, and empirical observation. ‘Aql is needed to understand wahy and reach conclusions from empirical observations. Wahy protects ‘aql from mistakes and provides it with information about the unseen. ‘Aql cannot, unaided, fully understand the empirical world.


There is lack of unanimity on the following as additional sources of knowledge: ‘ilm laduniy; inspiration, ilham; intuition, hadas; instinct, jabillat; geomancy, firasat; dreams, ru’uyat; and kashf. The controversy is not whether they are sources of knowledge but whether they are sources independent of the three mentioned before. Magic & sorcery, sihr; astrology, tanjiim; foretelling, kahanat & tatayur; and other forms of superstition are not sources of true knowledge. They may lead to correct and verifiable facts but only by chance and coincidence. They most often lead to wrong and misguiding facts.


1.5 CLASSIFICATION OF KNOWLEDGE, tasnif al marifat

Knowledge can be innate or acquired. It can be ‘aqli or naqli. It can be knowledge of the seen, ‘ilm al shahadat, and knowledge of the unseen, ‘ilm al ghaib. The unseen can be absolute, ghaib mutlaq, or relative, ghaib nisbi. Acquisition of knowledge may be individually obligatory, fard ‘ain, whereas other knowledge is collectively obligatory, fard kifayat. Knowledge can be useful, ‘ilmu nafiu. Knowledge can be basic or applied. There are many different disciplines of knowledge. The disciplines keep changing with advance of knowledge and understanding. A discipline is defined and is limited by its methodology.


1.6 LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, mahdudiyat al marifat al bashariyyat

The Qur'an in many verses has reminded humans that their knowledge in all spheres and disciplines of knowledge is limited. Human senses can be easily deceived. Human intellect has limitations in interpreting correct sensory perceptions. Humans cannot know the unseen, ghaib. Humans can operate in limited time frames. The past and the future are unknowable with certainty. Humans operate in a limited speed frame at both the conceptual and sensory levels. Ideas can not be digested and processed if they are generated too slowly or too quickly. Humans cannot visually perceive very slow or very rapid events. Very slow events like the revolution of the earth or its rotation are perceived as if they are not happening. Human memory is limited. Knowledge acquired decays or may be lost altogether. Humans would have been more knowledgeable if they had perfect memory.


2.0 METHODOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE, manhaj al ma’arifat


Methodology started with Adam naming and classifying all things followed by trial and error discoveries and later by systematic methodological investigation. Inspired by the Qur’an, Muslims developed the empirical scientific methodology that triggered the European reformation, renaissance, and scientific and technological revolution starting in the early 16th century CE. Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the first European to write systematically about the empirical methodology was inspired by Muslim science reaching Europe in his times. Europeans copied the empirical methodology without its tauhidi context, rejected wahy as a source of knowledge, and later imposed badly-copied secularized science on the Muslim world. Ancient Muslim scientists had shown that wahy, ‘aql, and empiricism were compatible and had used methodological tools from the Qur’an to correct deficiencies and improve Greek science before passing it on to Europeans. They replaced Aristotelian deductive logic and definitions with an Islamic inductive logic inspired by the Qur’an.


2.2 METHODOLOGY FROM THE QURAN, manhaj qur’ani

The Qur’an provides general guiding principles and is not a substitute for empirical research. It enjoins empirical observation; liberates the mind from superstition, blind following, intellectual dependency, and whims. Its tauhidi paradigm is the basis for causality, rationality, order, predictability, innovation, objectivity, and natural laws. Laws can be known through wahy, empirical observation and experimentation. The Qur’anic teaches the inductive methodology, empirical observation, nadhar & tabassur; interpretation tadabbur, tafakkur, i’itibaar &  tafaquhu; and evidential knowledge, bayyinat & burhan). It condemns blind following, taqliid, conjecture, dhann; and personal whims, hiwa al nafs. The Qur’anic concept of istiqamat calls for valid and un-biased knowledge. The Qur’anic concepts of istikhlaf, taskhir, and isti’imar are a basis for technology. The concept of ‘ilm nafei underlies the imperative to transform basic knowledge into useful technology.



Classical sciences and their concepts are applicable to science and technology. Tafsir ‘ilmi and tafsir mawdhu’e parallel data interpretation in empirical research. ‘Ilm al nasakh explains how new data updates old theories without making them completely useless. ‘Ilm al rijaal can ascertain the trustworthiness of researchers. ‘Ilm naqd al hadith can inculcate attitudes of critical reading of scientific literature. Qiyaas is analogical reasoning. Istihbaab is continued application of a hypothesis or scientific laws until disproved. Istihsan is comparable to clinical intuition. Istislah is use of public interest to select among options for example medical technologies. Ijma is consensus-building among empirical researchers. Maqasid al shariat are conceptual tools for balanced use of S&T. Qawaid al shariat are axioms that simplify complex logical operations by using established axioms without going through detailed derivations.


2.4 ISLAMIC CRITIQUE OF THE EMPIRICAL METHOD, naqd al manhaj al tajribi

Using methodological tools from the Qur’an and classical Islamic sciences, Muslims developed a new empirical and inductive methodology in the form of qiyaas usuuli and also pioneered the empirical methods by experimentation and observation in a systematic way as illustrated by the work on Ibn Hazm on optics. They criticize ancient Greek methodology as conjectural, hypothetical, despising perceptual knowledge, and based on deductive logic. They accept the European scientific method of formulating and testing hypothesis but reject its philosophical presumptions: materialism, pragmatism, atheism, rejection of wahy as a source of knowledge, lack of balance, rejection of the duality between matter and spirit, lack of human purpose, lacks of an integrating paradigm like tauhid, and being Euro-centric and not universal. European claims to being open-minded, methodological, accurate, precise, objective, and morally neutral have been observed not to hold in practice. In its arrogance it treats as absolute probabilistic and relativistic empirical knowledge based fallible human observation and interpretation.


3.0 CRISIS OF KNOWLEDGE and EDUCATION, azmat al ma’arifat wa al ta’aliim


There is pervasive ignorance of uluum al diin and uluum al dunia. There is little respect for scholarship. Wealth and power are considered more important than scholarship. There is neglect of the empirical sciences. There is a dichotomy in the education system: traditional Islamic vs. imported European, ulum al diin vs ulum al dunia. Integration of the 2 systems has failed or has been difficult because it has been mechanical and not conceptual. The process of secularization in education has removed the moral dimension from the education and violated the aim of Islamic education to produce an integrated and perfect individual, insan kaamil. The brain drain from Muslim countries has compounded the educational crisis.



Knowledge deficiency and intellectual weakness are the most significant manifestation of ummat’s decadence. The intellectual crisis of the ummat is worsened by copying and using poorly digested alien ideas and concepts. The prophet warned the ummat about the lizard-hole phenomenon in which the ummat in later times would follow its enemies unquestionably like the lizard running into its hole. Among the manifestations of the ummatic malaise are action deficiency, political weakness, economic dependency, military weakness, dependence in science and technology, and erosion of the Islamic identity in life-style.



The generation of the Prophet (PBUH) was the best generation. The best teacher met the best students and excellent results were obtained. Companions had excellent knowledge and understanding. Seeds of the current crisis appeared towards the end of the khilafat rashidat. New social and political forces overthrew the khilafat rashidat and the ideals it represented were distorted or abolished. Then the authentic ‘ulama and opinion leaders who remained faithful to the ideals of Islam were marginalized and persecuted. Intellectual stagnation then ensued. The process of secularization of the Muslim state progressed. Widespread ignorance and illiteracy became common. Many non-Islamic ideas and facts without valid proof have found their way into the intellectual and religious heritage of the ummat making the existing intellectual crisis even worse.




Reform and revival of the ummat will occur through educational and knowledge reform. Tajdid is a recurring phenomenon in the ummat and is a sign of its health and dynamism. It is a basic characteristic of the ummat that periods of reform/revival alternate with periods of decay and return to jahiliyyat. Tajdid requires knowledge, ideas and action related by the following mathematical equation: tajdid = idea + action. Action without knowledge and guiding ideas will not lead to true change. Ideas without action are not change at all. Tajdid requires and is preceded by a reform in knowledge to provide ideas and motivation on which to build. All successful societal reform starts with change in knowledge. The ideal society cannot be created without a knowledge base. That knowledge base must be correct, relevant, and useful. Successful revival movements throughout Muslim history have always been led by scholars.


4.2 A NEW KNOWLEDGE STRATEGY, nahwa istratijiyyat ma’arifiyyat jadiidat

The Muslim ummat is a potential economic and political bloc whose potential is not yet realized. The contemporary tajdid movement has a lot of strengths but also has basic deficiencies that must be corrected. The knowledge and intellectual crises are still a barrier. Reform movements unguided by correct knowledge and understanding will falter and fail or will be deviated from their paths. Social change requires change in attitudes, values, convictions and behavior of a critical mass of the population. Attitudes, values, convictions, and behaviors are determined by the knowledge base. The vision of the knowledge strategy is an upright balanced person who understands the creator, knows his place, his roles, his rights, and his responsibilities in the cosmic order. The mission of the knowledge strategy is conceptual transformation of the education system from kindergarten to post graduate studies to reflect tauhid, positive moral values, objectivity, universality, and serving the larger causes of humanity.


4.3 TOWARDS AN ISLAMIC METHODOLOGY, nahwa manhajiyyat ‘ilmiyyat islamiyyat

A tauhidi universal, objective and unbiased methodology must replace the Euro-centric and philosophically biased context and not the practical experimental methods. The precepts of tauhidi science are: unity of knowledge, comprehensiveness; causality is the basis for human action, human knowledge is limited, investigation of causal relations is based on constant and fixed natural laws, harmony between the seen and the unseen, 3 sources of knowledge (wahy, aql & empirical observation); khilafat; moral accountability; creation and existence have a purpose, truth is both absolute and relative, human free will is the basis of accountability, and tawakkul.


5.0 DEVELOPMENT OF A SCIENTIFIC CULTURE, nahwa thaqafat ‘ilmiyyat


The Qur’an is the basis for developing a vigorous and dynamic scientific culture in the ummat. Basic concepts are the Qur’an, intellect, knowledge, fiqh, thinking, innovation and creativity. The Qur’an is not a textbook of science. It however contains many verses that train the mind to observe, analyze, think and act in a scientific manner. The Qur’anic stories have lessons, many scientific, for those who understand. Intellect is correlated with signs and with knowledge. Failure to use the intellect and blind following are condemned. Knowledge is supreme. It removes blind following. Human knowledge is limited. Knowledge is acquired by study. Humans were ordained to read. Knowledge by itself is not useful unless it is associated with work. The Qur’an has used the term fiqh to refer to understanding which is deeper than knowing. The Qur’an puts emphasis on thinking. Thinking is based on empirical observation. The Qur’an emphasizes freedom of thought in the form of freedom of belief. Innovations in religion are prohibited but creativity is encouraged.



The Qur’an described mountains, the barrier between two oceans, metal, the wind, plants, the sky, honey, and water. It described the motion of the earth, the boats, the sun, the moon, the water, and of the wind. It described processes such as making of iron, armor, dams, and boats. It described the creation of the human from dust. It describes the constant laws of nature, sunan al laah fi al kawn. The laws are fixed and stable and operate in various situations. Order is a law of nature. Recording of observations is emphasized.



The Qur’an calls for evidence. It rejects false evidence and condemns non evidence-based knowledge such as sorcery, consulting fortune tellers, speculation or conjecture. Human thought is a tool and not an end in itself. It operates on the basis of empirical observations and revelation, both objective sources of information, thought that is not based on an empirical basis or revelation is speculative and leads to wrong conclusions. The Qur’an calls for objectivity. It condemns following subjective feelings and turning away from the truth. Reliance is on observation and not speculation. The Qur’an calls upon humans to observe Allah’s signs in the universe and in humans. The Qur’an however made it clear that human senses have limitations. Rational thinking and logical operations were described. In many prohibitions the Qur’an provides logical reasons. The use of similitude, tashbiih, of two things and phenomena is seen several verses. The Qur’an also employed many examples, mithl, to illustrate concepts. Prudence in reaching conclusions is emphasized.



The Qur’an and sunnat teach the etiquette of scientific discourse. Questions can be for finding out information. The opposing opinion should be respected. Differences on scientific matters can arise and are natural. Discussion and exchange of views is a necessity for humans. Discussion has its own etiquette. Truth must be revealed. Contradictions must be avoided. Arrogance is condemned. The following are attributes of good discussion: objectivity, truthfulness, asking for evidence, and knowledge. Purposeless disputation is frowned upon.  False premises should be abandoned once discovered Fear of people should be no reason for not revealing the truth. Deception is condemned. The truth of any assertion must be checked. Yaqeen is the basis of ‘ilm but dhann is not.




Islamization is a process of recasting the corpus of human knowledge to conform to the basic tenets of ‘aqidat al tauhid. The process of Islamization does not call for re-invention of the wheel of knowledge but calls for reform, correction, and re-orientation. It is evolutionary and not revolutionary. It is corrective and reformative. It is the first step in the reform of the education system as a prelude to reform of society.



The 2-3rd centuries H witnessed a failed effort at Islamization of knowledge. Greek scientific knowledge was transferred to Muslims together with Greek philosophy and ideas that caused confusions in ‘aqiidat. Greek science depended more on philosophical deduction than experimentally-based induction. It discouraged the scientific tarbiyat of the Qur’an which emphasized observation of nature as a basis for conclusions. The recent Islamisation movement towards the close of the 14th century H aimed at de-europeanizing education systems and building an education system based on tauhid.



Islamization has to start with reforming the epistemology, methodology, and corpus of knowledge of each discipline. It must be pro-active, academic, methodological, objective, and practical. Its vision is objective, universal, and beneficial knowledge in the context of a harmonious interaction of humans with their physical, social, and spiritual environment. Its practical mission is transformation of the paradigms, methodologies, and uses of disciplines of knowledge to conform to tauhid. Its immediate goals are: (a) de-Europeanizing paradigms of existing disciplines to change them from parochiality to universal objectivity, (b) reconstruction of the paradigms using Islamic universal guidelines, (c) re-classifying disciplines to reflect universal tauhidi values, (d) reforming research methodology to become objective, purposeful, and comprehensive (e) growth of knowledge by research, and (f) inculcating morally correct application of knowledge. The Qur’an gives general principles that establish objectivity and protect against biased research methodology. It creates a world-view that encourages research to extend the frontiers of knowledge and its use for the benefit of the whole universe. Scientists are encouraged to work within these Qur’anic parameters to expand the frontiers of knowledge through research, basic and applied.



Islamization has been misunderstood as rejection of the corpus of existing human knowledge and disciplines. It has been misunderstood as creation of knowledge exclusive to Muslims. It has been misconstrued as rewriting existing text-books to reflect Islamic themes without deep thought about the paradigms and methodology. It has also been confined to spiritual reform of the student, scholar, or researcher. The following superficial approaches to civilization have been tried and failed: ‘Insertion’ of Qur’anic verses and hadiths in an otherwise European piece of writing, searching for scientific facts in the Qur’an, searching for Qur’anic proof of scientific facts, establishing Qur’anic scientific miracles, searching for parallels between Islamic and European concepts, using Islamic in place of European terminologies, and adding supplementary ideas to the European corpus of knowledge.



The first step is a good grounding in Islamic methodological sciences of of usul al fiqh, ‘uluum al Qur’an, ulum al hadith, and 'uluum al llughat. This is followed by reading the Qur’an and sunnat with understanding of the changing time-space dimensions. This is followed by clarification of basic epistemological issues and relations: wahy and aql, ghaib and shahada, ‘ilm and iman. This is followed by an Islamic critique of basic paradigms, basic assumptions, and basic concepts of various disciplines using criteria of Islamic methodology and Islamic epistemology. Islamic reviews of existing text-books and teaching materials are then undertaken to identify deviations from the tauhidi episteme and the Islamic methodology.


The initial output of the Islamization process will be Islamic introductions to disciplines, muqaddimat al ‘uluum, establishing basic Islamic principles and paradigms that determine and regulate the methodology, content, and teaching of disciplines. This parallels Ibn Khaldun’s Introduction to History, muqaddimat presented generalizing and methodological concepts on historical events. Publication and testing of new text-books and other teaching materials is a necessary step towards reform by putting into the hands of teachers and students reformed material. Developing applied knowledge in science and technology from basic knowledge will be the last stage of the reform process. This is because in the end it is science and technology that actually lead to changes in society.



7.1 HISTORY OF MEDICINE, tarikh al tibb

Pre-Islamic roots of medicine are found in ancient Egyptian, Babylon, Chinese, Indian, Syriac, Persian, Arabian, and Greco-Roman civilizations. Medical knowledge in the early Islamic period (0 – 132 H) was based on traditional Arab medicine and medical teachings of the prophet. Medicine in the golden era of the Abassid period (132 – 656 H) started with translation of Greek and other medical texts. Muslims added the results of their observations and experimentation. Following the Tatar invasion and destruction of the capital of the khilafat in Baghdad, the Muslim world went into a period of decline. Medicine and medical knowledge also declined. Medical knowledge spread in Europe from Andalusia. Muslims made many contributions to basic sciences and the various clinical disciplines.


7.2 PROPHETIC MEDICINE, tibb nabawi

Tibb nabawi refers to words and actions of the Prophet with a bearing on disease, treatment of disease, and care of patients.  The Prophet enunciated a basic principle in medicine that for every disease there is cure.  The sources of tibb nabawi are revelation, empirical experience, and folk medicine of the Arabian Peninsula. Tibb nabawi can be spiritual, curative or preventive. Most of tibb nabawi is preventive medicine. Tibb nabawi is an authentic and valid medical system. The general principles of this system are applicable at all times and all places. The specific remedies taught by the Prophet (PBUH) are valid and useful. They however can not be used today without undertaking further empirical research because of changes in the human and physical environments.


7.3 ISLAMIC MEDICINE, mafhum al tibb al islami

Islamic Medicine is defined as medicine whose basic paradigms, concepts, values, and procedures conform to or to do not contradict the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is not specific medical procedures or therapeutic agents used in a particular place or a particular time. Islamic Medicine is universal, all-embracing, flexible, and allows for growth and development of various methods of investigating and treating diseases within the frame-work described above. This definition calls for basic transformation of current medical systems. Islamic Medicine thus becomes the result of an Islamic critique and reformulation of the basic paradigms, research methodology, teaching, and practice of medicine. This process is called Islamization of Medicine. The end-result of the Islamization process will not be a medical system for Muslims only but for the whole humanity because Islam is a set of universal and objective values.



Muslims failed to Islamize Greek medicine when they neglected the empirical scientific method of the Qur’an and adopted negative aspects of Greek philosophy that discouraged experimentation. Guided by empirical scientific spirit of the Qur’an, Muslims must be innovative, creative, and researchers in basic and applied medical sciences so that they may become leaders of the disciplines. A medical student starts by commitment to discipline reform process. He must master your discipline well. He should then get basics of Islamic methodology from usul al fiqh, ‘uluum al Qur’an and ‘uluum al hadith to be able to critique the basic paradigms of your discipline on the basis of tauhid and the universal and perennial values of Islam. This is followed by research, publishing, teaching, networking, and inspiring others.



The vision of the curriculum has two closely related components: Islamization and legal medicine. Islamization deals with putting medicine in an Islamic context in terms of epistemology, values, and attitudes. Legal medicine deals with issues of application of the Law from a medical perspective. The curriculum has 5 objectives: (a) Introduction of Islamic paradigms and concepts in general and as they relate to medicine (b) strengthening iman through study of Allah’s sign in the human body (c) appreciating and understanding the juridical, fiqh, aspects of health and disease, al fiqh al tibbi (d) understanding the social issues in medical practice and research (e) professional etiquette, adab al tabiib.




The main motive of IIMC is to resolve the crisis of duality or dichotomy manifesting as teaching Islamic sciences separately from medical disciplines by different teachers and in different institutions. IIMC resolves the crisis of duality by insisting that Islamic concepts should be taught by the same people who teach medical disciplines. All lecturers in the Kulliyah of Medicine go through a Diploma in Islamic Studies (DIS) whose modules are exactly the same as the modules of IIMC. This prepares them to be effective teachers of IIMC.


The teaching material of IIMC has been prepared and tested over the past 7 years. Synopses of all lectures for years 1 -5 are available at http://omarkasule.tripod.com.


Since the start of the Kulliyah in 1997, we have worked towards integrating Islamic values and concepts in the teaching and examination of basic and clinical medical sciences. The expectation is that our graduates will be able to integrate Islamic moral and legal values in their practice of medicine because they went through an integrated education system.


IIMC follows the Islamic paradigm of reading 2 books, the book of revelation, kitaab al wahy, and the book of empirical science, kitaab al kawn. Both books contain signs of Allah, ayaat al llaah, and must be read together. It is a mistake to read one of the books and neglect the other. The solution to the crisis of duality in the ummah starts from joint reading of the 2 books, al jam ‘u baina al qira atain. Thus medical scientists who are involved in IIMC read the signs in both books.


The vision of IIC has two separate but closely related components: Islamization and legal medicine. Islamisation deals with putting medicine in an Islamic context in terms of epistemology, values, and attitudes. Legal medicine deals with issues of application of the Law (fiqh) from a medical perspective.


IIMC has 5 main objectives: (a) introduction of Islamic paradigms and concepts in general as they relate to medicine, mafahiim Islamiyat fi al Tibb. (b) strengthening faith, iman, through study of Allah’s sign in the human body (c) appreciating and understanding the juridical, fiqh, aspects of health and disease, al fiqh al tibbi. (d) understanding the social issues in medical practice and research and (e) Professional etiquette, adab al tabiib, from the Islamic perspective.


We feel that IIC helps the future physician prepare for the heavy trust, the amanat of being professionally competent. He must be highly motivated. He must have personal, professional, intellectual, and spiritual development programs. He must know the proper etiquette of dealing with patients and colleagues. He also must know and avoid professional malpractice. He needs to be equipped with leadership and managerial skills to be able to function properly as a head of a medical team.



In my view the most significant aspect of IIMC is the derivation of medical ethics from Islamic sources as al alternative to western sources. The full impact of this will be appreciated in due course when these ideas become widely adopted.


Secularized European law denied moral considerations associated with ‘religion’ and therefore failed to solve issues in modern medicine requiring moral considerations. This led to the birth of the discipline of medical ethics that is neither law enforceable by government nor morality enforceable by conscience. On the other hand, Islamic Law is comprehensive and encompasses moral principles directly applicable to medicine.


The theory of medical ethics in Islam should be based on the 5 purposes of the Law, maqasid al shari’at, that are also considered the 5 purposes of medicine, maqasid al tibb. The 5 purposes are preservation of religion and morality, hifdh al ddiin; preservation of life and health, hifdh al nafs; preservation of progeny, hifdh al nasl; preservation of intellect, hifdh al ‘aql; and preservation of wealth, hifdh al maal. Any medical action must fulfill one of the above purposes if it is to be considered ethical. If any medical procedure violates any of the 5 purposes it is deemed unethical.


In practical detailed situations, legal axioms called Principles of the Law or qawa’id al shari’at need to be used to resolve mostly situations of apparent conflict between maqasid or to assist logical reasoning. Principles of the Law, qawa’id al shari’at, when applied to the medical area can also be referred to as Ethical Principles of Medicine, qawa’id al tibb. The basic ethical principles of Islam relevant to medical practice be derived from the 5 principles of the Law, qawa’id al shari’at, that are: intention, qasd; certainty, yaqeen; injury, dharar; hardship, mashaqqat; and custom or precedent, ‘aadat. The maqasid and qawa’id are used in a synergistic way. The basic purpose of qawa’id is to provide robust rules for resolving situations of conflict between or among different maqasid.


The challenge before Muslim physicians is to liberate themselves from confusing and inconsistent European ethical theories and principles and instead to work hard to develop specific regulations for various medical interventions, dhawaabit al tibaabat, by a renewal of ijtihad. This ijtihad will be based on primary sources of the Law (Qur’an and sunnat), secondary sources of the Law based on transmission, masaadir naqliyyat (ijma and qiyaas); secondary sources of the Law based on reason, masaadir ‘aqliyyat (istishaab, istihsaan, & istilaah); the purposes of the Law, maqasid al shari’at; principles of the Law, qawa’id al fiqh; as well as regulations of the Law, dhawaabit al fiqh.


In the early period of medical jurisprudence (0-1400 H) most issues could be resolved by direct reference to the primary sources. In the middle period (1401 – 1420 H) issues were resolved by using ijma, qiyaas, istishaab, istihsaan, & istilaah. In the modern period (1420 - ) medical technology is creating so many issues whose resolution will require a broad bird’s eye-view approach that can only be found in the theory of maqasid al shari’at.

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. April, 2008