Sunday, November 1, 2009

Prof Wan Mohd Nor: Islamisation of Knowledge

Prof Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud,55, from Tanah Merah, Kelantan, did his basic degree in biology at Illinois University. Completed his PHD programme under the reknowned Prof Fazlur Rahman at University of Chicago. His doctoral thesis was "Concept of knowledge in Islam and its implications for education in the Malaysian context". Along with the principal founder initiator, Prof Syed Naguib al Attas, he was a prime mover in the initial set-up and 'invigoration' of ISTAC[ Institute of Islamic thought and Civilisation ]. After the 'thoughtless' and to say the least,'pea-brained' plunder and rape of the then only world known Malaysian 'post-doctoral' academic institution, Prof Wan has now been given the 'chair' at ATMA, UKM. His senior colleague and mentor,Prof Syed Naguib was dealt more harshly. In the metaphorical sense, like what 'they' normally do to horses and stud,he was put 'to pasture'.

Pea-brained Malaysian politicians, as always thought too highly of themselves.Only they can think, the rest have to follow like 'crabs'. They think in Malaysia,philosophers and thinkers of such calibre do grow on trees!

Dr Nik Isahak:
"Say, even if the ocean were ink,
For writing the words of my Lord,
The ocean would be exhausted
Before the words of my Lord were exhausted,
Even if We were to add another ocean to it."[18:109]

If we go by the above 'ayat' we realise Islam is about knowledge, is pro knowledge, that apart from the Book' right on from the word 'go' with the 1st message of 'Iqra' to Prophet Muhammad, it was inherently meant for mankind to study God's creation as an 'open book', again a clarion call to knowledge.You are very familiar to Prof Syed Muhammad Nabuib al-Attas's[ your mentor] seminal work "Islam and Secularism" in 1978, which form the '1st call' to Islamization of Knowledge.In less technical language, Prof, could you really iluminate us on what the good Prof really mean? To particularize your answer for our readers Prof, let us go into the world of a 'hard-core science knowledge worker......A research embryologist or perhaps a cosmologist working with NASA would perhaps put you straight to the necessity of "Islamization of Knowledge ' for our readers benefit.They deal with the sublime and can also deal with the profane.An embryologist on the cutting edge of his field, if uncontrolled, can ,if given unbridled freedom, create 'monsters'.Cloned copies of individuals which is not far fetch and very dowable if the 'lid' on stem cell research is ever lifted. ,surrogate motherhood which are happening all the time in the West now and'acceptable by man's present morality values, a moving goal-post, etc etcetc.A NASA cosmologist may feel man need to go to Saturn for instance, to look for evidence whether God exist!

Prof Wan Mohd Nor:
Knowledge from the Islamic viewpoint, is equivalent truth and certainty which is taught by God to Man through right understanding of Revelation, sound use of reason and sense-perception. Hence it is naturally Islamic. However, often times, what has been transmitted as truth and certainty (whethner based on Revealation, philosophy or science) mere theories, conjectures and suppositions arising from personal, and socio-political-cultural interests and factors. Islamization of "knowledge", essentially, involves extricating those interests and factors such that what is transmitted and applied will true and certain. It is not only a reactive process i.e reforming existing knowledge "materials" but also a creative process ie creating new sciences altogether that seek to protect the truth and certainties of Islam. Hence Muslims created the science of tafsir, of hadith,of usul al-fiqh etc, and transformed philosophies and sciences from other cultures and
civilizations. This process involves spiritual, conceptual, methodological and ethical dimensions which can be called Islamization of "knowledge". It creates Islamic men and women living Islamic life who may also teach, write, heal, do business and build and reform institutions (like family, educational, scientific, political, economic etc)....

Dr Nik:
Sorry Prof Wan, I still cannot comprehend fully.Let us go to the specific to make our readers' comprehension better..
If ,is a dirty word in Islam.Hypothetical probably sounds better.Hypothetically let us say the Ottomans did not fade away into history but rather shined and shine and now control 2/3 of the known world today and Islamic scientist rather than Einstein discovered E=MC Squared and Abdul Hakim et al became the 1st man to theoretically 'split' the atom rather than Enrico Fermi and his friends.
Would we have Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Would we have the Cold War and the concept of MAD [Mutually Assured Destruction]?The concept itself is already morally and fundamentally wrong!: Destruction is neither a Mutual preorgative, and assured by human. Taking away God's preorgative and timing!

Leaving the science of Sunnah and hadith behind as they are 100% already 'Islamic', let as look at another hard core 'science' as another example.
Space exploration....Would there be space exploration in the hypothetical 'Ottoman world' of progress?

If there are, how different would it be Prof?
We know part of the Kufr West fundamental drive in seeking knowledge is that 'continuous'search for an answer to the quest of whether there is God outside there? [remember Pharoah asked Haman to build a staircase to Heaven to see for Moses' God].
Also mainly for defence purposes and aggresive agenda of man against man[ ICBM and anti ICBM's from a sattelite? Ronald Reagan's dream of space warfare and safety net].

Prof Wan Mohd Nor:
As you have rightly indicated, scientific progress developments do reflect certain religio/philosophical questions. Some of the burning questions that spurred modern science such evolutionary biology, archeology, astronomy and subtomic-physics were not asked by Muslim scholars, although I suspect, they would have developed some aspects of these sciences to answer different sets of questions. Great Muslim Civilizations in the past showed inter-disciplinary learning which was guided by shariah and culminated by the spiritual science of tasawwuf. Human Knowledge and technology being culturally interconnected, Muslim scholars in the past critically appropriated many ideas and technics from others. Some were more carefull, others less so in what we now call Islamization of their contemporary knowledge.

Dr Nik :
I can understand that in most fields of human endeavour and knowledge such jurisprudence, medicine[ remember Sigmund Freud who form the basis of pschoanalysis, man's predominant thought on 'permanent erection'!...This is a joke Prof ,just an example],sociology,politics and government,economics , business management etc and etc, the starting premise that God is supreme and all are answerable to God, would have principally steered knowledge significantly from what we 'have' now.

The sub-prime crisis in an 'Islamic' based economy would not be there. The crises of values and justice and fairness that inundate the world at present would also be non existent.

But since 1924, since the breakdown of the Ottoman Caliphate, and right up to now, 2009, the world is not 'ours' . What do we so called Muslim countries and Muslim predominant countries do to ensure our young people who are going to be leaders,scientists, educators,teachers ,technocrats, be guided by the right principles as expounded by Prof Naquib.?

Or is 'Islamization of knowledge' just a hollow philosophical discourse, just to be discussed politely in the 'hallowed hall' of intellectuals but bear no meaning and importance in the crucible of Islamic development of the rest of us, 'bread and butter' Muslims?

Radical and activist Muslims can perhaps just say that you guys, bright [ and implied, rather indirectly, to be less 'qualified',of questionable 'faith' Western-bred Islamic scholars ] 'upstarts'are just clouding the 'more simplistic' and easy to understand, clarion call to get back to the Qur'an and the sunnah as expounded by the reformists as in Asad, Iqbal, Syed Qutb and Mawdudi?

Prof Wan:
To your comments:
1) I can understand that in most fields of human endeavour and knowledge such jurisprudence, medicine,sociology,politics and government,economics , business management etc and etc,..... these and other problems that reflect intellectual mistakes and moral waeknesses have occured in the best run Islamic societiesin the past, but the extent of their effects would be more limited. What was most important is, in such societies, the methods of correction would not be merely procedural, and legal but would proceed from spiritual-ethical re-invigoration.
2) But since 1924, since the breakdown of the Ottoman Caliphate, and right up to now, 2009, the world is not 'ours' this 'Islamization of knowledge' just a hollow philosophical discourse, just to be discussed in the 'hallowed hall' amongst intellectuals but bear no meaning and importance in the crucible of Islamic development of us Muslims who can claim to be the khalifah Allah ?....
My short response to that is, to educate Muslims and others of a more comprehensive approach to Islam requires an generally orderly recognition of right authorities from the lowest levels of education to the highest including the adult education. That part is sorely missing in the education of Islamic knowledge though not in other branches of sciences and professions. Yes, many discourses on Islam have been hollow because of the stated general reason. It is a rather viscious cycle which takes sincerity, knowlede, courage and sacrifice in order to be broken.
3) Is this just clouding the 'more simplistic' and easy to understand, clarion call to get back to the Qur'an and the sunnah as expounded by the reformists as in Asad, Iqbal, Syed Qutb and Mawdudi?
I dont think it is is to understand these scholars. hence there are so many sub groups from within the followers of these influential Muslims.

Dr Nik:
Thanks Prof.Before we call this a day on this interesting issue,
I wish to push you further on that last bit on "hollow philosophical discourse in polite intellectual circle" part. I am very sure it is not.It is just my style of pushing you only. But...
Definitely between Muslim scholars such as Prof Naguib,the late Palestinian thinker-philosopher Prof Ismail Al Faruqi, Hoesien Nasr,and your goodself, all big proponents of Islamization of knowlege, and the Muslim activists current and past, there seem to me,less concordance or similarities of purpose.
In fact If I recall correctly some scholars did not hide their feeling that these 'activists', giants during their time such as Mawdudi and Syed Qutb for example, are somewhat misguided .I am not far from being correct if i put it to you that there is disdain and no love lost between the scholars and the activists.And to me this is sad. because at the end of the day we are looking at establishing on this planet earth, the same 'animal', at least to my limited and 'unschooled' understanding: Islamization of Man, so that he could be the proper viceagent[ khalifah] of Allah on this planet earth, practising the proper 'adab' between himself and his Maker, and proper adab between him, his friends and fellow man and proper adab between him and his environment.

Prof Wan Mohd;
Agreed. I dont normally want to discuss these issue in emails, sms-es. Too many activists, good intentioned no doubt, rejected the civilizing role of our most influential scholars and thinkers just because, from the standpoint, these figures did not join political movements or what are not known as NGOs.

Dr Nik:
I can fully understand that Prof.
Part of the problem in this modern world perhaps is also due to the need of 'over-specialisation'of roles as we go on. In the early days we have ruler/scholar/activist like all the Kalifah arrashiddin and to some extent, Caliph Omar Abdul Aziz all rolled into one .
But to my simple mind I think the the main problem is perhaps the very limited 'role' given to 'ulama', and I mean this in a bigger perspective,by those who should know better!Whenever you guys are called into the picture, the die has already been cast in iron and oftentime the 'ulama' is there just to give the necessary 'rubber stamping and approval'. If even this is hard to come by, the 'ulama' is sent to 'the 'Tower of London' for summary execution.We see too many of these happening in Malaysia and elsewhere.ISTAC is one such good example.

May the souls of these Muslim ruler/politicians be able to rest in peace in their Alam Barzakh and the hereafter!....

The consolations chaps like you do have over mere mortals like them is that: In the sand of time when all that were done by mortal men had been forgotten, guys like you and Prof Naguib and TGNA for that matter[ many people dont know but even he writes!] will always contribute for generations through your books and thoughts.

And that Prof, means a lot more, when all of us are in the 'Alam Barzakh',your 'tills' and 'meters' still moves! Mashaallah!Insyaallah!Alhamdullillah!
Thank you Prof.


Pearls & Gem said...

...And just as we are on the subject of Islamisation of knowledge , we get Dr Asri this morning caught and apprehended for 'unlawful' teaching of ugama.

If a PHD guy from UmulQura University or Al Azhar cannot give lecture on ugama I do not know who the ..uck can?!!!!

Is this country going to the dogs!
What is the..ucking wrong with people who run JAKIM or JAIS?
Why the forms and not the substance?
Where is the the proper adab with respect to 'ulama'?
What the ..uck is going on with the people???

Al Sunna said...

Assalam walakum,

This blog is a very nice blog, I have found it very beneficial to know more about Islam. Thanks for sharing the information.

Pearls & Gem said...

Sorry about the expletives Sunna.
I just cannot help it.
This is certainly not the way to treat people with knowledge,people with dissenting views,etc etc and etc.
One can envisage that in malaysia we have 9 'Sultantes' but does a bona fide ulama need to apply for 9 license to speak his mind?
When we have the meek in charge of 'religion' this is what we get. An over interpretation of the 'rules'. A BA chap in Islamic Studies in charge of Jakim or Jais, who cannot even separate the leaves from the twigs!
I have more expletives but I will keep at that.


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Pearls & Gem said...

Is he who prayeth adoration in the watches of the night, prostrate and standing, bewaring of the Hereafter and hoping the mercy of his Lord, to be accounted equal with a disbeliever? Say unto them ,O Muhammad:
Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed.
[ Az-Zumar, 39:9 ]