|The Library at al-Azhar, Cairo|
- The Scientific Method for Researching Truth
According to Muslim Scholars and Others
If realising the truth as it actually is is science, as they say, then the method that is used to achieve this realisation should–without a doubt–also be scientific, i.e. the method that is used should be none other than a series of true realisations in and of themselves that remove the veil from the reality that is being sought.
This is because science is not the product of anything but another science like it. Conjecture can never arrive at knowledge, and if this were not the case then two conjectural premises could bring about a definitive result, and this is clearly impossible.
Therefore, everyone who searches for the truth must use a scientific method that is not corrupted by whims and fancies. He must cling to this method and not deviate from it in any way.
This is a clear axiom that nobody can dispute.
However, it is very likely that we can ask: to what extent do Islamic thought and Western thought apply this axiom and pay attention to it?
Maybe the word “objective research” is a quick answer, a well-known and widespread phrase that is commonly associated, amongst some people, with the research of orientalists, so does it answer this question?
It seems that relying on this “objective research” alone to arrive at a judgement is a way to truth that is tumultuous and not scientific. There is no doubt that it causes us to deviate from the truth while at the same time deluding us into thinking that we have actually found it.
It would be good for us to look for the answer to this question by looking at the actual path that is taken by both Muslim and Western scholars to arrive at some truth, whether it is evaluative (as they say) or historical.
We must–before anything else–establish a truth that has importance in this regard, and it is that the primary factor in subjugating Islamic thought to an exact and scientific method of research, as we will see, is nothing other than the religion. If it were not for their religious belief, Muslims would not burden themselves with the difficulty of such a method that requires time and effort and does not bring about any specific material gain, and then ardently cling to it until becomes something normal for all of them, as they encounter it and study it together.
This religious objective is exemplified in many passages in the Book of Allah the Exalted, one of them being His saying, Glorified and Majestic: “And do not concern yourself with anything that you have no knowledge of. Indeed the ears, the eyes and the hearts will all be brought to account.” [Al-Isrāʾ 17:36]. This saying of His, Glorified and Majestic, is a rebuke of people who have plunged their intellects into the obscurities of whims and conjectures which, by their very nature, cover the truth and do not reveal it.
“For most of them follow nothing but conjecture: conjecture can never be a substitute for truth. Verily, Allah has full knowledge of all that they do.” [Yūnus 10:36]
You can see how embodied in this motive is the prohibition against adopting any idea, even the religion itself, from being the outcome of anything other than a path established by an intellect that readily accepts definitive proofs that by their nature reveal the truth that is sought.
It is because of this that the scholars of tawhid have stipulated as a condition for a believer’s faith that it be based solely on knowledge-based proof and not suspicious facts resulting from merely following someone else.
This is because scientific truth–in the ruling of the religion–is the summit of all intellectually sacred things, as are its sources. It is that which thought must turn to in humility and revolve around. Is there a stronger evidence in this regard than the fact that the religion itself is not satisfied with its existence and its sanctity being based on anything other than knowledge and its proofs, and it is not pleased to take a judge for itself from anywhere else?
All of this means that Islam grants a religious quality to searching for the truth with only the two lights of knowledge and the intellect. If a non-Muslim, by his nature, engages in this because of his love for research, then indeed the Muslim is motivated to do research because he feels that it is an obligation that he is rewarded for doing and punished for not doing.
And this is how Islamic thought found itself in front of a religious duty, and it is the necessity of searching for the truth, whether it is by way of transmission or by way of claims. It is self-evident that fulfilling this duty will require the laying down of a method of research. It is obvious that as long as the objective is sound and intact and only the intellect can judge regarding it, the method of attaining the objective will also be sound and intact, being governed only by the intellect.
But despite that we are not writing this study so that we can rush and make a judgement that the scientific method that the Muslims have is sound and intact and is only governed by the intellect. Our only intention is to study this method and we will make a decision regarding it afterwards.
The Method of Research according to Muslim Scholars:
The scientific method of research according to Muslim scholars can be summarized in the great and glorious maxim that no-one else has anything that compares to it, and it is their statement:
If you are transmitting then [you need to] authenticate it, and if you are claiming [something then you need] evidence.
This means that the topic of research must either be a piece of information that has been transmitted or a claim that has been made. As for that which may be a transmitted piece of information, research into it must be restricted to verifying the relationship between it and its source. Otherwise the door is open for speculation, confusion and doubt. If speculation is eliminated and the veil is lifted then the result of the transmitted information is a specific scientific truth, on the condition that it possesses decisive evidence.
As for that which is merely a claim, research into it must be directed towards scientific evidences that agree with it and which by their nature will reveal the extent to which this claim is true.
For every type of claim there is a type of scientific evidence that suits it and cannot be substituted for anything else. Claims that are related to the nature of material things and their essence can only be connected to scientific proofs that are tangible and experiential. Claims that are connected to things like logic and numbers can only be accepted alongside established and sound proofs. Claims that are connected to civil rights and affairs can only be of benefit if they are accompanied by clear proofs upon which there is agreement that they are necessarily applicable. In this way a claim does not become an established scientific truth unless it is presented with the appropriate evidence. Evidence that may back up the claim does not have any scientific value unless there is conformity between them in terms of nature and type.
Bearing that in mind, what, then, is the scientific method that the scholars of Islam have laid down in order to verify the relationship between the piece of information and its source and to verify the scientific value of a claim according to what we have just mentioned?
The path that is taken to verify a piece of information:
In this path a number of specific techniques have emerged that cannot be found in history outside of the Islamic library, and they are: ḥadīth terminology (muṣṭalaḥ al-ḥadīth), authentification and classification (al-jarḥ wa al-taʿdīl) and the biographies of men (tarājum al-rijāl), and these three techniques intersect in order to lay down an exact standard for distinguishing a true piece of information from what is otherwise, and the difference between a rigorously authentic piece of information that brings about conjecture and that which brings about certainty.
A piece of information reaches the level of rigorously authentic (ṣiḥah) when it is firmly established, by way of exact analysis and research, that the chain of transmission is joined from the one who carries the piece of information all the way back to its source, and this transmission is accurate and just throughout such that there is no anomaly in its content and no defect in its narration. If the piece of information does not reach this level, because a ring in the chain of transmission is missing because we do not know who he is, or there is lack of confidence in his uprightness, or a lack of certainty regarding his memorisation and his precision, or the actual text that is being transmitted does not agree with what has been generally accepted, then it is not rigorously authentic.
But the rigorously authentic, in and of itself, has ascending levels, starting from strong probability to certain realization. If the chain of transmission that carries all the essentials of rigorous authenticity is comprised of single narrators who transmitted the information between themselves, then it is inevitable that it will be conjectural information according to the intellect. If the rings in the chain of transmission are comprised of two or three narrators then it is still conjectural information but it is stronger than the first example while remaining less than certain.
If each chain becomes chains, i.e. groups of narrators, then the intellect is satisfied that no lie has been made, and at that point the narrated information acquires the attribute of certainty, and it is what is called mass-transmitted (mutawātir) information.
As for rigorously authentic information that is conjectural, the Islamic ruling does not consider it in matters of creed, because conjecture is of no benefit in this matter. The Qurʾān has prohibited (in the field of studying creed) the following of conjecture. This is as you have seen. However, it is considered in the scope of practical laws, to affirm mass-transmitted information and decisive evidence based on the fact that the Muslim–with regards to scientific conduct–is legally obligated to depend on the rigorously authentic that is conjectural. This is because it is valid for legal rulings to be based on rigorously authentic aḥādīth even if they are from a single chain of transmission (āḥād), and this is caution and prudence in the matter.
As for the rigorously authentic that is certain, what is called mass-transmitted information, it alone is what is considered when establishing the creed and indisputable established concepts. This means that man is not obliged to believe in something transmitted unless it is based on mass-transmitted proof. If the evidence is from a single chain of transmission then certainty in it depends on one’s own personal satisfaction and contentment.
You may ask me: How does the researcher know the conditions for a piece of information to be rigorously authentic? We have made it obligatory that he hears the chain of transmission, but how can he know about the contact that these narrators had with one another when they are all reliable, trustworthy and precise?
The answer: indeed both sciences of authentification and classification and the biographies of men have facilitated the path of this study and made easy the examination of the position that should be adopted.
In our Islamic library, there are several works that present details about the men whose names are found in any of the chains of transmission that we have. You can stop and look at the biography of whomever you wish in order to classify and authenticate him and determine the age in which he lived, and thereby you will know his contemporaries whom he may have come into contact with. What is strange is that those imams who concentrated on the gathering of the biographies of men–and they are trustworthy imams, and each one of them is considered to be an authority in this regard–were not worried, whilst looking for the truth and respecting the scientific standard, that any corruption would tarnish it, such that they put the points on their letters to provide a very exact description of each person regardless of whether they would conclude that such a person was unreliable and to be avoided or he was to be trusted and relied upon.
And so forth, for in our Islamic library there are dictionaries of a different kind that have been compiled... dictionaries that accurately describe individuals and men; from then you can learn about what is false and not connected to the subject with the same ease that allows you to learn the accurate definition of a word and its explanation in the known dictionaries and lexicons of language.
As we have in our library a specific discipline that has been compiled in this regard, and it is what is called the discipline of ḥadīth terminology, and this technique includes all the various essentials for substantiating transmissions and pieces of information in accordance with a unique scientific method.
This is a brief summary of the scientific path that the scholars of Islam possess for substantiating transmissions and pieces of information, and there is no desire in these brief words to go into further detail and explanation, but whoever wishes to go further must apply himself to the techniques that we have pointed to in order to find the amazing, inimitable effort that was expended for the sake of extracting the scientific value from the transmitted “word”.
The path taken in order to substantiate claims:
This path differs, as we have said, according to how claims differ, and thus that which is connected to some material existence is dealt with by way of analysis and modification. It is inevitable that one rely on evidences and proofs from the five senses, i.e. on that which is called in modern parlance “experience and observation”. Therefore, it is the natural means of arriving at certainty in these kinds of matters.
Islam does not hesitate to adopt anything that has been definitely established by this means.
As for the opposite side, indeed science cannot present to us, even today, any scientific reality that contravenes any particular of Islamic theology.
Furthermore, nothing in the Book or the Sunnah has made us legally responsible for any clear, specific information connected to the material things in existence around us. Rather, the Book and the Sunnah have given us expressions that indicate them and prompt us to think about them and reflect on them, more so than giving us information about them, and this is by relying on the means and apparatuses that Allah has provided man with and which are the natural tool for removing the veil of ignorance from every material reality in existence.
This is the secret behind the Qurʾān not going into great detail with regards to the scientific laws that are connected to that which is tangible and observable. If the Qurʾān had done that, it would have thus become obligatory upon people to believe in these details, and that in turn would have burdened human minds with having to adopt scientific realities without arriving at them by way of the proofs that are harmonious with them, i.e. experience and observation. The Qurʾān has not burdened anyone with this task, and this is in order to honour the intellect and give it the freedom to use its natural method of unveiling tangible realities.
This is why, in these matters, you find the Qurʾān doing no more than pushing those endowed with intellect towards exploring and investigating by using their scientific, unveiling means. As for what it contains by way of information about the unseen, it has undoubtedly gone into great detail, because there is absolutely no way for experience and observation to arrive at that information. The only way to arrive at certainty in these matters is through Allah’s Book, Mighty and Majestic is He, or the mass-transmitted Sunnah.
This is the case for claims that are connected to tangible matters.
As for claims that are connected to the unseen and are not subject to any of the outward senses, there is that which you find in the Book or the mass-transmitted Sunnah by way of a clear text and there is that for which you do not find in either of them any clear account.
As for that which is found in clear texts, this comes within the scope of indisputable established concepts.
The path of certainty is either by way of the transmission of the Book or the transmission of the Sunnah, going back to the certainty of a mass-transmitted piece of information, which we have already discussed. Thus, the Qurʾān is the words that were revealed to Muhammad, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, and they have come to us by way of mass transmission. Thus, there is absolutely no doubt that its words are Qurʾānic, and like the Qurʾān the same goes for the Sunnah if it has reached us by way of mass-transmission.
As for the veracity of what the Qurʾān itself contains, regardless of whether it is Qurʾān and has reached us from the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, with certainty, that is another scientific matter that falls under the second category of claims connected to abstract issues or unseen matters. Know that the underlying cause of that goes back to verifying the phenomenon of revelation in the lifetime of the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, and verifying the matter therein, which is based on proofs of certainty that rely on full examination and clear necessity, as we will show later in our study.
In other words, the decisive and established texts in the Book give us certainty regarding their contents, and this is after passing two stages of investigation: the first stage is verifying the chain of transmission of the Qurʾān from our master Muhammad, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, to us. The second stage is verifying his, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, informing that the Qurʾān is from Allah.
If the second stage is verified in light of the principles that we shall mention shortly, then the texts of the Book become a source of permanent certainty. This is the meaning of what we said before: (As for that which is found in clear texts, this comes within the scope of indisputable established concepts.)
After that there is no difference between the intellect having a means of digesting and understanding these unseen matters in its own way and not having those means, just like those unseen matters that we only know about because we have been veraciously informed of them, such as the establishment of the Hour, the gathering of the bodies, and the existence of Paradise, the Fire and the Angels. It is sufficient for these things to be realised with certainty by the fact that they have been informed of and dealt with by a clear text from the Book of Allah or a mass-transmitted ḥadīth from the Sunnah.
Despite the nature of the Qurʾān in this regard, it still presses us to reflect and investigate everything that it informs us of and have certainty in it, namely those unseen matters that the human intellect can go around and sense the reality thereof, such as the existence of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, the occurrence of that which is possible, certain things being made the means for other things, and similar matters.
The scholars of scholastic theology (ʿilm al-kalām) have gone deep into researching these matters by way of merely the intellect and speculation, without placing veracious information as an intermediary between them on the one hand and the intellect and speculation on the other. They have not done so because it is the only means but rather for the sake of opening another path of research towards certainty alongside the path of veracious information.
Thus, Islamic thought arrives at faith in Allah’s existence and His oneness, along with that which follows from it, by travelling along two paths, both of which are an exact and scientific method without any defect:
The first path begins with the stage of researching the phenomenon of revelation, and once that has been passed, one moves on to the stage of researching the veracity of what has been transmitted and the essentials of certainty being abundantly present therein. Once that has been passed, one can be certain of the matter and its veracity because of the veracity of its preliminary matters.
As for the second path, it is shorter. One researches the matter based on guidance from nothing but thinking and rational proofs, without moving too far away from prophecy and its reality and the Qurʾān and its veracity.
In the end, both paths lead the researcher to the truth. Indeed, they eventually meet and strengthen one another.
As for that which is not mentioned by a certain, mass-transmitted piece of information, without any clear or obvious text, then the means of knowing the truth therein are restricted to rational investigation alone, which is realised by way of two paths:
The First Path: To follow what is called dalālat al-iltizām
This means to find a direct connection between two things, such that when you think about one of them you imagine the other.
This can only be done after thorough examination, which is to study all the various states and circumstances in which these two things exist, and thus one finds that they are always connected to each other.
For example, if someone’s body has considerably weakened it is assumed that they are ill. If a town has a minaret it is assumed that its people are Muslims. The sound of the siren that is specific to fire trucks makes one assume that there is a fire. If a man is seen in the street in a drunken state it is assumed that he drank some intoxicant.
The indicator in all of these examples is not the cause of what is being indicated, such that we can say that the fact of something indicating something else is one thing causing the other. Therefore, having a weak body is not the cause of the illness. A minaret is not the cause of people in a town being Muslim. Hearing a siren is not the cause of a fire, and a man being in a drunken state is not a cause of him having drunk an intoxicant.
While you may witness the indicator in each of these examples, you do not see or witness that which is being indicated, such that you can say that the proof is seeing and observation. Rather, it is something hidden from your observation and your perception.
Therefore, how do these things indicate what they indicate, and how can we believe in them without seeing them?
Indeed the way of the indicator is known because the indicator is always connected to that which it indicates, and this is repeated continuously and is proven by examination. Thus, out of this permanent association, an effective link of indication is formed between them.
The way to benefit from this proof is to reflect on some phenomenon that you witness in front of you. If you see–by way of examination–that this phenomenon necessitates a specific reality, then it is natural, in the balance of the intellect, to believe in it, even though you do not find it appearing in front of you. Indeed a person who sees an ambulance racing with an unceasing siren will not doubt that there is a sick person who is suffering in a life-threatening situation, even though he cannot see him. Indeed, perhaps he is not aware of the reality of the ambulance passing in front of him to the extent that he would be aware of the state of the patient, which rapidly comes to mind.
When one of them presents a claim to you, very often you are able, with the means of circumstantial evidence, to determine whether it is true or false. That is done by way of looking for the necessary consequences of this claim. If you see these necessary consequences in front of you then that is proof of the veracity of the claim. If they are not there or it is the opposite, then that is proof of the falsehood of the claim.
Thus, if a man who lives in the suburbs of a town tells you that all its inhabitants are Muslims, it is not possible for you to believe what he is saying if you contemplate and find nothing above its buildings but crosses on churches, despite the fact that you have not met any of its people and you have not discovered what their theology or religion is by way of experience and observation. If someone claims to you that the source of thought and intellect in man is his feeling the need for food, you cannot believe his claim if you reflect on all other animals that share with man the feeling of needing food but do not, as a result, possess thought and intellect.
The Types of Circumstantial Evidence:
Circumstantial evidence does not always lead to certainty, as the matter is dependent on how clear the connection is between the two things and to what extent further proof is needed. This is why the scholars have divided circumstantial evidence into three types, ascending in strength from the lowest to the highest:
The first is called al-luzūm ghayr al-bayyin, which is to state definitively that there is a connection in the matter based on an additional proof, such as the evidence for the corners of a triangle having at least two angles. The intellect does not automatically come to this conclusion for every triangle unless it has come across another proof that affirms it, such as imagining a circle and knowing its degrees. Thus, this evidence alone is not considered a proof because it, in and of itself, needs other proofs and evidence to indicate it. However, it is considered partial proof, which is completed by being supplemented with other proofs.
The second is called al-luzūm al-bayyin bil-maʿnā al-ʿamm, which is to realise the connection between two things by imagining both of them and investigating the matter for a long time, such as the evidence for something being merely possible based on the fact that it is ḥādith, or Allah existing by necessity based on the fact that He is qadīm. Indeed, you would not understand the connection between things that are possible and the attribute of temporary existence unless you had carefully studied the meaning of possibility and realised that it is anything that is not impossible for the intellect to imagine not existing, and it has been preferred to and preferred to be contingent. Then you will have carefully studied the meaning of temporary existence and imagined the connection between it and everything that is possible, which, by definition, exists because of something else affecting it.
However, in any case, you still need to imagine another proof (as is the case with an unclear connection) in order to establish this connection.
The third is al-luzūm al-bayyin bil-maʿnā al-khāṣ, which means that imagining the connection alone is sufficient for imagining the connection and making an apodictic judgment, such as the ambulance indicating the patient in the previous example, or groaning in pain indicating an illness in natural cases, or an utterance coming from someone in the dark indicating the presence of a living being in rational cases. Indeed, the strength of the connection between each of these matters makes the intellect imagine the illness by merely imagining the groaning, and imagine the living being by merely hearing the utterance coming from the dark without needing to reflect on the connection between the two.
This third type is the strongest of them in terms of indicating and in terms of the strength of the proof, followed by the second type. As for the first type, it is an unclear connection and cannot be considered as independent proof. Rather, it can only be considered proof when there is an additional proof that reveals the veracity of the connection, as we have mentioned.
The Second Path: Analogy (qiyās)
What is meant here is not the logical analogy that is adopted from Greek philosophy, which is based on propositions and perceptual forms, but rather the meaning of analogy according to the scholars of uṣūl al-fiqh and the scholars of uṣūl al-dīn (al-mutakallimīn) after they took inspiration from the Book of Allah, Mighty and Majestic.
This is a method that can be summarised as extracting a cause (ʿillah) for something or its reason (sabab), then to look for what might resemble it from amongst unknown matters until the researcher is certain that both the known and the unknown share one cause, and thus an analogy is made from the former and its ruling that is taken from the effect of that cause is applied to the latter.
The concept of analogy is based on two principles, both of which are intellectually accepted truths that require no proof.
The first principle is the law of causation, i.e. everything caused has a cause and every effect has something that influenced it.
The second principle is the law of harmony and order in the world, i.e. the minor, partial manifestations of the universe, even though they are of different shapes, are connected by comprehensive reasons which by their nature establish harmony and symmetry between all of them, and no matter how closely you examine the natures of these reasons you will see, eventually, that they are combined in the smallest number of causes and reasons.
Analogy is only based on these two principles, as well, by means of investigation (istiqrāʾ) as it is that which informs the researcher of the reality of the reason. Then it is that which, by means of itself, realises the established, comprehensive relationships between things that are outwardly dispersed or different, and this is how we notice that thorough investigation is an indispensable condition for the two proofs: circumstantial and analogy.
The method of investigation here is that you follow the particulars of what you claim is the reason behind a specific matter, and that you find that it is not separate from the production of what it causes.
This is done by contemplating the relationship between the cause and the thing caused, for you will see therein the phenomenon of conformity and reflection, i.e. every time the cause is found the thing caused is found, and every time the cause is absent the thing caused is absent. Then you look further into the cause and you find that it influences the caused thing with indisputable proof, as this conformity or reflection between the two could merely be due to coincidence or some other factor.
This is how you know that the condition of analogy here (i.e. in building one’s theology and indisputable matters) is that the cause influence the thing caused, that it conforms and reflects and that it clearly does not change with time or place.
If the cause does not meet the level of this condition, such as the influence therein not being obvious and there only being some apparent agreement with the thing causes, then this is a presumptive analogy (qiyās ẓannī), which is not accepted in theological or intellectual judgments. It can only be accepted in practical, legal issues. To establish the decisive evidence that presumptive evidences suffice for worship and rulings of the Revealed Law, as we have mentioned above, it suffices in the analogy of practical rulings of the Revealed Law that the cause not change with time or place and that it conform and reflect, but it is not stipulated that it influence. Rather, it is sufficient for there to be agreement in the personal reasoning (ijtihād) of the researcher in order to build the ruling on top of it. Thus, analogy in practical legalities of the Revealed Law actually differs greatly from the nature of analogy and its conditions in theological matters.
An example of this would be to see houses or tents from afar in which people live, for that would make you certain of the existence of water in that place.
The path to certainty therein is that you would call to mind, by quickly glancing at every other place you know in which people live, and see that one of the most important reasons behind a place being suitable for people to inhabit it is the availability of water. This notion does not change under any circumstances, as you notice the influence of the cause (sabab), which is the water, upon the thing caused, which is subsistence and the feasibility of life.
At that point, you can draw an analogous conclusion from those other places and apply it to this place that appears before you at a distance and decisively affirm the existence of water therein even though you have not seen it with your own eyes.
If this same example were reversed, such that you saw a small amount of water from a distance and then understood from that that people were living there, it would be merely conjecture with no possibility of being elevated to the level of certainty.
This is because the causality of water for human life is an established fact based on the evidence of influence, for water must be present wherever people are present. As for the causality of water for the existence of people around it, this is merely something appropriate and in conformity.
Another example of this is everything that possesses the appearance of being made and planned being proof of someone making it and planning it. It is a necessity that the thing caused not be separated from its cause.
From here you know that Muslim scholars only pursue the method of investigation when they come across anything that cannot be subject to experience and observation, and in the shadow of this method they gather together both circumstantial evidence and analogy. As you can see, it is as remote as possibly can be from the metaphysical conclusions and abstract contemplations that Greek philosophy delved into ever so deeply.
Indeed, anyone who reflects on the Islamic method of research knows that the scholars of Islam cannot establish any rational or creedal ruling unless it is upon the foundations of reality, in which all the elements of certainty are gathered.
As for those other realities that remain hidden behind the veil of doubts and have not been grasped except by the hand of speculative deduction, such as those that have emerged in the course of historical studies or discovered relics or ancient fossils–for Islamic history does not know of some fact of certainty that was established upon them or that they were ever adopted as proof of criticism, demonstration (istidlāl) or the building of an idea. Rather, they have remained as disconnected research and doubt around which every possibility revolves, and a path that calls for the connecting of the various strands of information using correct, investigative research.
This has been a very quick summary of the scientific method of research according to the Muslims. We have taken it from what is found in their researches, not from abstract theories that are contained in their libraries. After that, we want to ask about the method of research according to others, according to the scholars of the West, such as the thinkers and the orientalists, those who have broadcast and spread the word “objectivity” around their researches. Indeed, this is the foundation that pushed us to write this introduction.
There is no doubt that it has been made clear to the reader, by looking at the first section of this discussion, that I am not seeking to studying both methods of research, the Islamic and the Western, in an analytical fashion that would make it subject to an exposition of different schools of thought that may exist therein, or historical phases or a critique of the theories themselves. Rather, what I intend is to clarify two facts.
The first: explain the extent to which Islamic thought relies on the pure objective methods in its researches, and then explain the extent to which Western thought enjoys its share–more or less–of the same.
The second: the extent to which there could be cohesion and concomitance between the methods of research (in that they are specific, intellectual studies and conventions) and between the various scientific methods, according to both Muslims and others, i.e. the extent of the share that these methods possess of reality and correct scientific application.
We–for the sake of elucidating this fact–do not want to derive the scientific method of research according to Muslim scholars from anything apart from that which is found in their own researches, not so that in the end we can merely know that there is an independent discipline in the Islamic library connected to the method of research, but rather with that–and this is what is most important in this discussion–we can know the extent to which this method is applied to the Islamic sciences themselves.
The Method of Research According to Westerners:
We will conclude this discussion of ours by following the same path that we started out on, and thus we ask:
What is the scientific method that Western thought follows in all the various sciences that it comes across?
There is no escape from going back and dividing the subject of science, whatever its type, into two sides: a report that needs to be verified and a claim whose veracity needs to be ascertained.
We will start with the first of them and say:
The method of testing transmissions and reports:
We do not need to exert much thought in reflecting on the answer, for the reality is that the Western method is devoid, until now, of any objective standard for verifying anything connected to narrations and transmissions.
There is what they call the retrieval method (al-minhaj al-istirdādī) or the method of anticipation, the first pillar of which is whatever the researcher may possess by way of depth of perception, precision of sentiment (wijdān) and broadness of imagination. The tools that the researcher uses, his perception, his sentiment and his imagination, and everything he may come across by way of relics, events and documents; the manner of research is for the researcher to focus on the relics or events that he has gathered in front of him and impose his perception, sentiment and imagination upon them in order to derive on the back of that whatever puts him at ease by way of principles, judgments and factual findings.
It is–as you can see–a method that in the end, regardless of how many tools and documents are gathered, only has one path, which is the path of speculative derivation, or indeed purely unseen. Derivation that is stripped of experience and observation, thorough investigation and true narration is nothing but a synonym for fancy and doubt or weak, unstable conjecture. That is with the exception of relying on historical documents that contain evidence of certainty, in consideration of what is between them and their source by of a relationship of cause and thing caused, or something necessitating and something being necessitated.
Let the researcher ask: what has prevented Western thought, until today, from adopting a scientific method with regards to verifying transmissions, despite that importance of the matter and despite the fact that it constitutes half the distance towards verifying many various scientific issues.
The answer is that being concerned with verifying transmissions and reports demands arduous and strenuous effort for there being, outwardly, any material return. To exert such effort cannot be unless there is a motive behind it that is stronger than the intensity of the effort that is to be exerted.
The motive exists in abundance with Muslim scholars, while not a speck of it exists in others. Muslim scholars believe in the existence of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, and in the Prophethood of Muḥammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and that they are legally responsible for basing their lives upon the way that has been explained to them in Allah’s Book and His Messenger’s Sunnah. Thus, there is no doubt that they are legally responsible for knowing that the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has left behind, by way of teachings and instructions. They must strive to their utmost to ensure that the factual certainty that is attached to his life, his biography and his statements is not mixed with anything that would discredit it, such as guesses, lies and inventions.
This is how their certainty made them arrive at this arduous, accurate method that they have laid down as a standard for the veracity of every narration and date, and it was an obligation upon them not to underestimate the huge burdens they were responsible for bearing in applying this method. If it were not for this certainty and this motive, you would not have seen a single scholar of ḥadīth travelling hundreds of miles, far from his homeland, in hard, difficult conditions for nothing other than meeting a Shaykh who can narrate a ḥadīth from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The one coming to him may already know it and have memorised it but he wants to take it from him as well and ask his permission to narrate it from him so that he can possess more paths of the ḥadīth and know all the chains of transmission that it has.
It is very easy for you to read the chain of transmission of any ḥadīth of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in a book such as Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and you are reclining on your couch or sitting behind your desk, but what is important is that the illustration of that amazing effort that was generously expended in order to get just those two lines of a chain of transmission, which is of almost no importance today, is made clear.
This is about the motive that has pushed Muslim scholars to establish a comprehensive method for verifying narrations. What could possibly make this motive push others to do the same? There is absolutely nothing, as long as the effort that should be expended in order to acquire it is far greater than the material gain or even the knowledge that is sought.
At this juncture, you will notice that many scientific subjects have been treated by both Islamic and Western thought by way of inquiry using two differing paths in which discussion and criticism are of no benefit. This is because, for Muslims, the method of verifying narrations is one of the sources of expounding them, while for others the opposite method for doing so is nothing more than deduction.
As an example of this, let us look at the phenomenon of revelation in the life of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
The method that Muslim scholars have followed in this matter is the following:
First of all, there is the verification of the narration and accuracy of the wording and the chain of transmission. All Muslim scholars have reached the conclusion that the ḥadīth of revelation is authentic (ṣaḥīḥ) and has come through so many various paths that it has surpassed the threshold of mutawātir maʿnawī.
The second is thorough investigation, which has placed them in front of both circumstantial evidence and analogy of the first (and the reader should not wait for me to explain this method that the scholars followed in this regard here, for that will inevitably drag us in another chapter that we are not concerned with right now).
The conclusion that Islamic thought arrived at was: conviction that revelation is him, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, receiving an essential, independent reality that is outside of his being and his internal feelings and far removed from anything he has acquired or his intellectual or scientific demeanour.
As for the method that Westerners have followed regarding the same, it is as follows:
The first step is to take the word “revelation” (waḥī) and consider it a relic or vague event that history has left behind.
Secondly, using guesswork and estimation to derive whatever anticipation, sentiment and imagination can comprehend from this word.
After that, the conclusion that they have arrived at with regard to revelation is that they have differed and split up into different schools. There are those amongst them who have concluded that revelation is nothing more than an internal, mental exercise or type of psychical inspiration. Then there are those who claim that it is a spiritual illumination that has come by way of gradual unveiling. And then there are those who have found nothing wrong in affirming that revelation is nothing more than epileptic fits that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was afflicted with from time to time.
There is no expectation that these people and the thinkers of Islam will come together on one path of understanding this matter, because these people have eliminated from their consideration the matter of narrations and reports and their scientific value, whether negative or positive. In other words, they have deemed it permissible for themselves to ignore authentic, mutawātir narrations just as they have, at the same time, deemed it permissible to invent an explanation that is not supported by any report or authentic narration.
Likewise, they absolutely do not adhere to the method of investigation and what is established by the law of circumstantial evidence and analogy of the first. This has allowed them to imagine that Muḥammad, peace and blessings be upon him, from the moment in which he received revelation, had a personality that completely contradicted the personality he had beforehand, and indeed contradicted the ongoing events of his life. It has allowed them to make him, peace and blessings be upon him, the greatest liar in the sight of Allah after he was by far the most trustworthy and honest of people. They have made him the greatest actor, deceiver and charlatan, who feigned fear and the yellowing of his face in front of Khadījah because of something he had seen of revelation while at the same time he actually did nothing more than apply himself to mere internal thoughts and inspirations.
The method of testing scientific claims:
After the above, let us move to the other side of the scientific topic and ask: what is the scientific method that follows verification with regards to a claim from amongst all other claims or a hypothesis from amongst all other hypotheses that scholars of the West come across?
We say: As for those hypotheses that are connected to the natural sciences, Europe has been able, since the age of the Renaissance, to contrive a method for itself, based on experience and observation, that possesses in abundance all the elements of perplexity and precision, and it is not just this. Rather, European thought has been able to use the tales of unveilings and invention as a means of supporting scientific experience, backing it up and benefitting immensely from it.
There is no benefit in you saying, as some are pleased to do so, that Europe only inherited this method from us, we the Muslim, during the Middle Ages and its well-known historical events. Therefore, the reality is that Europe, to the extent that it is rich today with this inheritance, we are thoroughly impoverished in terms of the glory we once had in days gone by…and therefore we must, as Arabs, or Muslims, open our eyes properly and look at the clear reality, which is:
History, always, only belongs to the time period in which it was born. It does not bequeath glory or decline but only bequeaths one thing, which is the lesson.
However, Europe, to the extent that it has developed in the field of natural sciences and its methods, has gone backwards in the field of other indisputable, fixed notions, such as that which falls under the category of abstract and unseen matters.
It was incumbent upon their scholars and thinkers, in view of these fixed notions, to travel one of two paths:
Either firmly closing the door of research and reflection between themselves and these matters and regarding what they have acquired from the other, material sciences as freeing them of the need to spend any intellectual effort in anything besides them:
Or approach them with a method of objectivity and pure scientific examination, as they cannot turn away from them.
However, the reality is that they did not do this or that but rather they were happy to adopt a method of studying them and researching them that could, in the very least, be described as strange and curious.
They started their research with the premise of whatever theories and postulates in their minds pleased them; everything was according to what was appealing and according to the inspiration of the environment, the society and the study in whose shadow they grew up in. Then they were pleased to extract suitable, inferred evidences for what they had already presumed and relied upon just as they were pleased, as an equivalent, to declare false the evidences that defy what they rely upon, with no motive other than the desire to do so.
In order not to wrong the minority of researchers who have turned away from their desires and allowed their thoughts to receive a portion of free, pure research, we should say that this description applies to the mentality that is found in the majority of Western thinkers, and in the majority of scientific issues that have the same, abovementioned imprint.
There is no doubt that one of the clearest repercussions of this reality and most obvious of its illustrated indications is those schools of thought that have emerged claiming that theology can follow psychical desire and be subject to it.
Thus, it suffices you, in order for you to believe in something with firm conviction, that your desire direct itself towards that and that you feel the need for it. At the same time, your desire or your need will not be able to extract the evidence for you that follows the other according to what you prefer to believe in.
At the forefront of those who have adopted this method and means of research is the famous American thinker William James and his famous book Pragmatism is one of the most important sources which explain this method and advocate it.
The strangest manifestation of this method, which has attracted a large group of Western researchers, materialises as James divides the necessary intellectual tendencies into two: living and dead, and he explains the dead tendency as being that which the researcher has no inclination towards, and he strikes an example of this tendency: if it is said to someone, ‘Be a Sufi’, or ‘Be a Muslim’, as opposed to being told, ‘Be a Christian’ or ‘Be an agnostic’; the first half of the research has already been judged as false because the tendency towards it is absent and the desire is to turn away from it.
There is no doubt that this method, which is advocated by others besides William James, has been opposed (from the theoretical standpoint) by several others. However, the factual evidences of the various researches articulates, even with regards to these opponents, the very same method and it calls out with a raised voice that theology, whether positive or negative, must be based on a large portion of mere desire, if we do not say desire alone. This means that it is folly for you to look for any semblance of objectivity in their researches, except for a rare minority from amongst them, and especially because the path of inference–which is the sole path for their verifications in this domain–is extremely malleable as it responds to every desire and tendency.
What James and other Western thinkers have in common is that they create the fabric of religious belief in their thoughts from the fibres of the various worldly interests that exist, which people long for in their lives and livelihoods. There is no doubt that it is not their religious doctrines that emanate from their thoughts and intellects and into their lives but the other way around: they emanate from the actuality of their lives and daily affairs and into their thoughts and intellects.
Look at how the British thinker Bentham illustrates this method with the clearest illustration. He says,
‘Religion must be in accordance with what benefit requires. The influence that religion has is based on punishment and reward, and thus its punishment must be directed at those actions that only harm the social condition, while its reward should be restricted to actions that benefit. The only way for governance to be in accordance with religion is to look at it from the angle of political good for the nation only. Anything besides that should not be looked at.’
When they found that the nature of the intellect differs completely from this method in research and examination, and they saw that abandoning the intellect’s bridle, letting it think about unseen and abstract matters as it wants, would lead to many of their intellectual principles and rules, which they had established upon this method, falling into ruin, they could not be bothered to establish another intellectual school based on scorning the intellect and denying its proofs and evidences, and warn one another about the dangers of the intellect to religion (i.e. to the religion that they understand according to their method that we have clarified) using the slogan: ‘Saving Religion from the Intellect.”
You know that the course of this strange path, just as it requires from them not to look at the pure intellect, for the sake of conscripting general intellectual values behind the various interests and benefits that they had agreed upon, also requires the denial of every other understanding of these values and doctrines that does not agree with their interests, regardless of their connection to the intellect and regardless of how self-evident and obvious they are.
Because of this you find them–at a time in which they are shackling their intellects for fear of the dangers they would pose to the doctrines they have established in compliance with certain circumstances in their lives–swooping down and attacking our doctrines, which have been established, as you have seen, in compliance with the rule of the pure intellect in accordance with its sound scientific method: and that is by their claim, in which they know are lying, of free thinking and intellect and not being guided except by science! In other words, this attack is masked in the mask of rational, free research yet it is nothing but in compliance with the same method that they have adhered to, which is that any doctrine that does not agree with their various interests, inclinations and hopes deserves to be fought again, regardless of its proofs and sources.
By my reckoning, all I am obliged to do is place before the reader several examples most of which share in affirming two specific matters: the path of pure inference that is free of any checking or investigation, and the effect of the desire to defend against a specific trend and build one’s theology on its foundations.
1- Von Kramer and Goldziher relate that people researched a strange matter, which was: do non-Arab men marry Arab women in Paradise? This was because of their desire to establish that the Islamic Conquests bore the hidden objective of Arab dominance.
There is no doubt that whoever reads this text will imagine that a great mass of people researched this topic and that those who researched it were jurists (fuqahāʾ) as it is something that concerns jurists before anyone else.
However, if you go back to the source of the story and its chain of transmission and reality you will know that the “people” who looked into the topic of non-Arabs marrying Arab women in Paradise were actually one Bedouin who had come from the desert. Al-Aṣmaʿī heard him saying to someone else, ‘Do you think these non-Arabs will marry our women in Paradise?’ He replied, ‘I think so, and righteous action is by Allah.’ It is a story that has been related by al-Mubrad in al-Kāmil and he declares its certainty weak.
So contemplate on how a report that had been cut off from its source was put forward and presented in a general way, and forced to speak, against its will, and testify to what the pure, scientific, objective researcher wanted!
2- In the book The Philosophy of Religious Thought between Islam and Christianity by Louis Ghardiah and G. Qanwātī, it is mentioned that ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān approached the Qurʾān during his caliphate and divided it into chapters (sūr) and verses (āyāt) and he arranged the chapters according to length, starting with the longest and then the next longest and so forth. (v.1 p.42)
So contemplate, first of all, on the method followed in order to established this claim or hypothesis and you will know that the method is absent from its foundations. The authors have just put this claim in front of us so that we close our eyes and accept it as it is, forgetting the statement of the poet:
Claims, if you do not establish clear proofs
Upon them, they will give rises to pleas
From what investigative, or demonstrative or inferential, source was it established that ʿUthmān was the one who divided the Qurʾān into chapters and verses, that he deliberately arranged them according to his own desire and that he arranged them starting with the longest of them, knowing that he was the one who decided that this one should be long and this one should be short?
As for us, what we know according to the authentic, established narration of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and from ʿUthmān himself, is that the matter of verses and their arrangement and chapters and their division and arrangement, all of it goes back to at-tawqīf, which no one, not even the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has a hand in. Our proof for this is what al-Bukhārī has related with his own chain of transmission on the authority of Ibn Zubayr, who said, ‘I said to ʿUthmān, “This verse, “Those who die leaving wives behind” until His statement: “without them having to leave their homes.” [al-Baqarah 2:240] has been abrogated by the other verse, so why do you write it?” He replied, “O my cousin, I do not change anything from its place.”’ And there is what al-Qurṭubī and others have related with an authentic chain of transmission on the authority of Sulaymān ibn Bilāl, who said, ‘I heard Rabīʿah being asked, “Why do al-Baqarah and Āl ʿImrān come first when some eighty chapters were revealed before them while both of them were revealed in Madīnah?” Rabīʿah replied, “They come first, and the Qurʾān has only been compiled according to the One Who compiled it.”’
3- Now you have this example:
The orientalist Gibb, in his work “The Structure of Religious Thought in Islam”, says that Islam came to give a religious character to that ancient Arab “animism”, which had been weaved by the customs and the environment, after Muḥammad, peace and blessings be upon him, had been unable to get rid of it. And he continued to affirm that–with odd and strange seriousness–using a method that was based on his deep penetration into inference, or indeed pure guesswork in most cases.
But all of the above is of the utmost simplicity compared to what follows:
Gibb says in the introduction to this book of his, ‘…’ Then he quotes his book Ḥujjat Allāhi al-Bālighah. This is the established, literal text, in quotation marks, which I am transmitting to the noble reader:
‘Indeed the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was sent with a mission that contained a second mission. The first was to the children of Ismāʿīl…this mission necessitated that the contents of his Revealed Law be rites and practices of worship and types of usefulness that they were familiar with, as the Revealed Law was only to rectify what they already had, not burden them with something they had absolutely no knowledge of.’
We say: There is no doubt that Gibb did not come across this expression alone in the book without looking at anything that came before it or after it. That would be impossible, as the expression is embedded in a long discussion that surrounds it from all sides. Here we find–unfortunately–the most serious kind of treachery in research and quotation, which is that he deliberately distorted what was being said and made the speaker responsible for what he was not responsible for, and tried to make him say what he was innocent of.
What is amazing is that if we were to go back and look in the books of those who came before us for a comprehensive refutation of Gibb’s fantasies which he has put forward in this book of his, we would not find a refutation more profound and more comprehensive than what is found in the book of Shah Walī Allah ad-Dahlawī, in his book Ḥujjat Allāhi al-Bālighah, on the same page from which Gibb plucked out this text in order for it to corroborate what he was saying. It is as if Allah, Mighty and Majestic, inspired him to cut the means of whoever would come after him and load his speech with that which he never intended and make him say what he never could have said. Here is what he said:
‘Know that he, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was sent with the Ismāʿīlī Ḥanafiyyah in order to straighten its crookedness, remove its distortions and spread its light. This is the Exalted’s statement: “the religion of your forefather Ibrāhīm” [al-Ḥajj 22:78] As that was the case, it was necessary for the foundations of that religion to be intact and its practices established. This meant that the Prophet was sent to a people who still had the remnants of rightly guided Sunnah, and thus there was no point in changing it or altering it. Rather, the obligation was to affirm it because it was more malleable to their souls and a firmer proof against them. The children of Ismāʿīl inherited the way of their father Ismāʿīl and they were upon that Revealed Law until ʿAmr ibn Luḥayy came into existence and inserted things into it according to his corrupt opinion, and thus he went astray and led others astray. He introduced the worship of idols and new, unbound practices. There was the nullification of the religion and the mixing of the correct with the corrupt, and they were overwhelmed by ignorance, idolatry and disbelief. Allah then sent our master, Muḥammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to straighten their crookedness and rectify their corruption. He, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, looked at their law and whatever corresponded with the way of Ismāʿīl, peace be upon him, and the rites of Allah, he commanded that it remain, and whatever was a distortion or corruption or from the rites of idol worship and disbelief, he nullified it and recorded its nullification.’
One thing that cannot be doubted is that Gibb knew about this text that follows those sentences that we quoted from him, and it is, as you can see, nothing but an elaboration and explanation of its contents, as anyone who reflects knows. Thus, how can it be possible to ignore it and pay no attention to it, or indeed not be content with that alone until claiming that in affirming his ideas he was relying on al-Dahlawī, on this man who utterly pulverised these fantasies, as you can see?
Thus, this is the reality of the scientific method that is followed by most Westerners when they enter into a scientific discussion with others, or when they want to establish some hypothesis or fact, or when they try to extract some knowledge or grasp some certainty from a text or document in history: the path of inference first, then subject the research to nothing but will and desire second, then deliberately distort transmissions and text third.
When we know these realities, and some of its many examples, we have no choice but to thank a researcher like ʿAbdur Raḥmān Badawī when he warns us–in immersed, exalted purity–after his discussion on the retrieval method of Westerners against explaining any historical text in other than the language of the age in which it was written, against ignoring the context and what precedes it, and against speculating in understanding an indication or expression according to other than what the context of the entire expression leads to.
However, what is amazing about his statement is that these pieces of advice are directed at Muslim scholars, those to whom the graciousness of drawing attention to this precision and trust goes back to, and to whom goes back the graciousness of applying it in the most comprehensive of ways, without directing any of it at these Westerners whom he is excessively impressed by and speaks at great length about their methods, unfortunate examples of which we have just shown. Instead of doing that, he directed it at Muslim scholars, imagining one of them stealing a Qurʾānic verse or Prophetic ḥadīth –as they say–in order to support contemporary statements that have no connection to them whatsoever apart from the literal wording.
I was hoping from ʿAbdur Raḥmān Badawī–and he ignored what these people did with their method of research–that he would mention to us one example of a researcher from amongst the Muslim scholars (from amongst those who do not imitate their rulers in following their retrieval and anticipation method) who quoted a text and distorted it, or started deriving significant scientific facts with ropes of inference strengthened by guesswork and estimation.
Thus, it is for you, after fully understanding everything we have mentioned, to be completely amazed at those who call religious facts which Muslim researchers have arrived at by way of their scientific method that we have clarified “dogma” and those who hold them “dogmatists”. Then they look at what the philosophers of the West imagine, and those who have deviated from religion, and call it “science” and call the proponents of this imagining “scientists”! In other words, religion, as Gibb understands it with his non-existent method, which we have seen, is science, and his way of thinking is scientific. As for religion, as understood by Muslim scholars in the accordance with the scientific method that we have illustrated, it is pure dogma, and their way of thinking is just a dogmatic exercise!
Thus, O intelligent reader, be an honest, objective researcher, and call this group of people (whether they are Arabs or non-Arabs, Muslims or non-Muslims) whatever pure, scientific investigation shows them to be.
The chief factor behind the failure of Westerners’ research methods
And despite that, let me speak to you about the deep reason for this strange phenomenon in these people:
Westerners, in terms of their stance towards the Christian religion, fall into two categories: those who profess it, submit to it and believe in all of its contents and rulings and those who disavow it, do not submit to it and are not lead to following it and professing it.
As for those amongst them who profess it, they are unable to digest the doctrines of their religion and all of its elements by way of science and the intellect (as the intellect and science clearly defy many of its requirements, reconciliation and interpretation are not possible) but they have also found that their natural, human disposition, urges them to find a religion to adhere to and an object of worship to be subject to, and they have become certain that many moral values have no guarantee of being realised without the guarantee of religion and its control over the soul. Thus, they have come to find themselves between two matters, there is no third in front of them that is true to their environment: either they reject this false religion or they reject sound intellect, but they have preferred the second over the first and rejected sound intellect without rejecting the false religion. Thus, they truly are dogmatists.
As for those amongst them who do not profess it, they have preferred rejecting the false religion over rejecting sound intellect, but they have sufficed with the requirements of sound intellect by denying the religion that they have and interpreting it according to what they imagine and what they think, without looking at the true religion whose principles and rulings in totality both the intellect and science submit to. They have been barred from that by other feelings, and they are the feelings of European, subjective partisanship and the constant fear that the Muslims will return once again to dominating the world, as they were back in the day. Thus, these people have been called secularists.
Then you know that amongst Arabs and Muslims there are individuals whom you consider to be people who articulate, comprehend and speak, but in reality they are nothing but pale shadows that stretch and move with the movements of Europe, the thoughts of Europe and the philosophy of Europe.
These people are of the opinion that religion in Europe has two explanations, a positive explanation which in reality is purely a dogmatic explanation and a negative explanation which, as they call it over there, is a purely scientific explanation. They brought these two explanations from over there and imposed them on the religion of Islam here, for nothing other than to complete the shadow and have blind imitation reinforced from all sides.
This, then, is the deep reason for this strange phenomenon in these people.
This category of people does not concern us at all after the intelligent, reflective, free person knows, from everything we have clarified in this introduction, that Islam does not mean those religious beliefs that Europe holds in defiance of the intellect, and that Islam, in all its principles and doctrines, stands upon an exact, honest, scientific method that is only drawn by the hand of the intellect alone, without partisanship or desire to believe something or blind imitation and following having any sway.
Other excerpts from the translation:
 What we mean by ‘religion’ here is specifically Islam, and it is known that there are massive differences between Islam and other religions in this regard.
 (tn): i.e. it impossible that all of these people could have conspired to lie
 (tn): e.g. floods, storms etc.
 (tn): e.g. rain being the means of crops growing, etc.
 (tn): i.e. circumstantial evidence
 (tn): or it is an indication
 (tn): i.e. an unclear connection
 (tn): i.e. a clear connection in the general sense
 (tn): i.e. existing only temporarily as opposed to eternally
 (tn): i.e. pre-eternal
 (tn): Ar. imkān
 (tn): i.e. a clear connection in a specific sense
 (tn): i.e. jurisprudence
 (tn): i.e. the scholars of theology and especially kalām, or dialectical theology.
 What we mean by influence is that that causation between the cause and the thing caused is established by proof, such as rain causing vegetation and fire causing burning, irrespective of researching the reality of this causation and analysing it in the light of faith in the Real Causer (al-Musabbib al-Ḥaqīqī), Mighty and Majestic, and the place for research is in analysing that, and discussing the law of causation in the universe, while I will return to in its proper place in this book.
 (tn): in other words, the existence of water in a given location only allows for the possibility of people living there, it does not necessitate such
 See p.200 and onwards of Manāhij al-Baʿth al-ʿIlmī by ʿAbdur Raḥmān Badawī
 (tn): i.e. it has been transmitted for so many sources such that it would be impossible for all of them to have conspired to lie
 (tn): i.e. in meaning, as opposed to exact wording (lafẓī)
 (tn): i.e. attaching the second event, which has no textual ruling, to the first event, does have a textual ruling, because the two events are the same in terms of the cause (ʿillah) of the ruling
 In this book, this will be discussed in the section on Prophecy, starting on p.144
 The experiential [(tn): or experimental] method can only be relied on in the natural sciences, since it is from the very nature of these sciences that they cannot be grasped with certainty unless it is by way of beginning with subject matters that are found in external experience and are far removed from inspiration of the mind or cogitation. Then they impose themselves upon it according to what observation and experience indicate, and after that the duty of the mind is merely to expound upon it and analyse it.
Furthermore, some imbeciles, who have not realised that there are differences in the natures of the various sciences, persist–relying on the experiential method–in not having faith in the Creator, Mighty and Majestic, as long as that cannot be established by the experiential method. These miserable people are under the delusion that when Europe got trains moving due to its natural sciences and got electricity working and launched rockets using experiential studies, this proved that all universal realities should be transformed into natural sciences and thus be subjected to experience and observation, and if not then the ruling of a judge in the court cannot be accepted, nor can a law in psychology. These people have no readiness to imagine any reality that is from the events of the past or the apprehensions of the future, because all of that is nothing more than the fruits of investigation or inference or analogy. As long as all of that is far removed from experience and observation then it is nonsense. It has no existence.
There is no doubt that this kind of thinking is in greater need of discussion and negotiation.
 See The Will to Believe by William James [(tn): , accessed 7 June, 2016
 (tn): This is most likely paraphrased from An Introduction to The Principles and Morals of Legislation by Jeremy Bentham. Please see (accessed 7 June, 2016)
 Refer to La Domination Arabe by Van Vloten [tn: ] and what Kramer and Goldziher have written on the same topic.
 Refer to al-Kāmil by al-Mubrad, v.2 in the section on clients of the Arabs
 (tn): (accessed on 8 June, 2016) This book was translated into Arabic from a language other than English. The Arabic title is Falsafah al-Fikr al-Dīnī bayna al-Islām wa al-Masīḥiyyah
 (tn): i.e. they are as Allah has commanded, there is no room for ijtihād, or personal reasoning
 In this book, The Philosophy of Religious Thought, there is a great deal of scum, which both authors used liberally in the inferential path first and in the desire to arrive at a specific conclusion second. Maybe we will get the opportunity, from this scum, to show the thing that increases in exposing the value of “pragmatism” and “objectivity” according to these researchers.
 (tn): which is a chapter in his book Studies on the Civilisation of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982)
 (tn): i.e. ad-Dahlawī
 (tn): i.e. rejecting idol-worship and adhering to the true religion
 (tn): i.e. customary practice, and in this context meaning a source of legislation
 See Ḥujjat Allāhi al-Bālighah by ad-Dahlawī (1/97, 98 and 99) and the work “The Structure of Religious Thought in Islam” by the English Orientalist Gibb. (tn): The Arabic translation of Gibb’s work, by Dr ʿĀdil al-ʿIwwā, is called Bunyat al-Fikr al-Dīnī fi al-Islām (University of Damascus Press, 1959) and the quote is found on p.58.
 (tn): i.e. draw a conclusion first