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The Issue of Integration of Knowledge in the Field of Islamic Studies - Academy of Islamic Studies,UM

SEMINAR ON THE ISSUE OF INTEGRATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE FIELD OF ISLAMIC STUDIES

On the Issue of Integration of Knowledge in the Field of Islamic Studies
By
Professor Fathi Malkawi, Director of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)


            On March 27th of 2012 Professor Fathi Malkawi was invited to the Center of Qur’anic research (CQR) of University Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) to impart his intellectual insight on the issue of integration of knowledge in Islamic Studies. In his treatment of such a complex problem, Malkawi dwells on a number of interrelated conceptual and theoretical issues and problems. In his extensive yet profound discussion of the concept, methodology and process of epistemology and integration, he dwelled on the position of encyclopedic knowledge in the movement of scientific progress, the Integration of philosophy and religion, and efforts and contributions of early Muslim scholars such as al-Ghazali, Ibn-Taymiya and Ibn Rushd.

          Malkawi draws attention to an important aspect of the integration of faith (Iman), knowledge (‘Ilm) and action (‘Amal). He raised the issue of integrating various disciplines necessary for the progress of science as is the fact with the natural sciences, social sciences or management, and integration of cultures. Malkawi thoroughly discussed the model of epistemological integration whereby he highlights the position of the sources of knowledge embracing revelation, the universe, reason and the senses; all as tools of knowledge. According to his model, reason leads to the folds of Revelation and the universe while the proper use of the senses also lead to the universe and Revelation.

            Malkawi discusses the important issues of the methodological literacy (ML) of the academic personality which he considers an essential element of the academic identity. Academicians and researchers undertake methodological thinking, research and behavior consistently, purposefully and spontaneously, and are recognized through clear and strong methodological literature that can provide direct methodological help. Malkawi enumerates a few critical dimensions associated with the knowledge and methodology of academic personality. These include the knowledge and methodology of specialization in certain academic disciplines, the knowledge of common concerns required for discharging the responsibilities of change and Islah (Islamic Literacy and personality), vocational Knowledge related to  curriculum (ACME) such as educational psychology or management, and finally the methodological knowledge and practice.

            One of the many vital issues Malkawi analyzed was the epistemological integration and the unity of knowledge according to the Islamic Worldview. Malkawi drew attention to the position of Tawhidic Islamic Worldview, the ultimate authority of Tawhid in governing the human knowledge with regards to both the Seen (‘Alam al-Shahada) and the Unseen (‘Alam al-Ghayb), and lastly the Tawhidic requirement in the consideration of sources, means and purposes of Knowledge. Malkawi also addressed four themes of integration in the Islamic Intellectual Reform project, namely, the Islamic Worldview as both an epistemology and methodology, the methodology of dealing with the original sources (the Quran and Sunnah), the methodology of dealing with the human legacy (the Islamic legacy and the contemporary Western knowledge), and the methodology of dealing with the present reality both as descriptive (as is) and as normative (as it should be). Malkawi further elaborates on the logical, practical and natural processes whereby he states that the unity of knowledge is the logical and practical rationale for its integration, that integration is a process in the human mind, and that integration is built inside the fitrah (human inner predisposition) and nature of things instead of being imposed from the outside world.

                Malkawi raises a number of critical issues and concerns pertaining to the process of epistemological integration. Among them is the relationship of epistemological integration to the unity of Knowledge, the principle of Tawhid and its position in the Islamic Worldview, its role as a frame of Reference in the process of thinking, research and wise dealing with the diverse issues of knowledge and behavior in life. Malkawi also raised other considerable problems and challenges associated with the process of epistemological integration. He discusses the issue of epistemological integration in relation to Islamic Methodology, the need for components involved in the formulation of the model of epistemological integration (EI) as a frame of reference for Islamic Methodology (IM), building awareness of the need for of IM, detecting different methodological problems; in addition to training on thinking and research on issues of IM, and the practice of Islamic methodology in wise dealings with issues of knowledge and life.

Malkawi drew on some interesting connotations of integration such as the integration of the personality of Muslim scholars and their comprehensive Knowledge, the needs of interdisciplinary approach, the need of raising the issue of research team work, integrated methodology in thinking, research and behavior, and finally the Islamic methodology on mastery and comprehension of knowledge. Malkawi also enumerates few dimensions of the integration including the integration in sources of knowledge; namely Revelation and creation, integration of means of acquiring knowledge such as reason and the senses, and the integration of sources and means. Malkawi also dealt with the process of integration in the field of Islamic sciences themselves. He drew attention to the need of various types of knowledge including those needed for the science of Tafsir, Fiqh, Hadith, and others.

                As far as the induction of the Islamic legal ruling (hukm shar‘i) is concerned, the integration according to Malkawi engages three processes: namely, the understanding of the text, understanding of the reality, and the understanding of the needed process of applying the text to reality. The integration of Islamic Sciences with other Sciences however, is of two folds: integration with the natural sciences which requires a proper understanding of the text in relation to the various fields of academic inquiry such as, for example, the areas of astronomy, physics, scientific miracles, and secondly, the integration with the practical sciences such as Medicine, engineering, agriculture, and so on and so forth.  Malkawi also deals with the integration of Islamic Sciences with other Sciences, both in the social sciences such as economic, politics, Fiqh al-Mu‘amalat, or in Humanities as seen in Ethics, Languages, Philosophy, Arts, laws and so on and a so forth. Malkawi further cites a number of conditions for effective integration. These include the Islamic worldview and the Islamic sciences related to issues of concern, knowledge and experiences of other sciences, analytical and critical methodology of both the traditional and the contemporary, and the creative ability to “go beyond” within the domain of Maqasid.

One of the serious intellectual problems Malkawi discusses is integration in academic and educational textbooks. These cover new and old textbooks, traditional and modern, in the different fields of academic pursuit whether in science or the history of science, Learning Science or learning about science. Another aspect of integration according to Malkawi relates to the integration to be found in Teaching Methods. In his elaboration on this aspect, Malkawi raises the same questions he discussed earlier on textbooks. He however, draws attention to the integrated personality of the instructor, and the use of means of appropriate communication skills and vocational Knowledge. The teaching methods call for attention integration of evaluation which in turn involves the criterion frame of reference, norm frame of reference, and self frame of reference.

             Malkawi’s inspiring presentation on the integration of knowledge in the field of Islamic Studies benefited the audience of academicians and researchers with numerous insights of the problems and challenges associated with the question of integration for it calls for the careful scrutiny of more than one problem, and requires perseverance and commitment to the many issues and problems associated with the reform of Muslim Ummah.


Dr.Fadila Grine
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur

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