Refining Islamic Scholarship: Through Harmonising With Postmodern Social Sciences

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Title: Refining Islamic Scholarship: Through Harmonising With Postmodern Social Sciences
Author: Jonathan A. J. Wilson
Abstract: In 1377 classical North African Islamic Scholar, Ibn Khaldun, wrote The Muqaddimah [Translated as: Introduction to Universal History].This text by many is regarded as being significant in influencing thought, within the social sciences. Ibn Khaldun argues that people fall into two general categories: city dwellers, who enjoy an urban sedentary lifestyle; and those who live in harsh nomadic conditions. When looking specifically at Muslims, with Arabic being the language of Islam, Ibn Khaldun also groups Muslims into two broad camps: which differentiates individuals according to (1) linguistic and (2) cultural Arabization. Ibn Khaldun asserts that intellect, scholarship, science and refined culture (such as the arts), evolved through urban linguistic Arabs - the most prominent of whom, at his time, hailed from Ancient Persia2 and Egypt. The classical period of Islam has a signif cant influence on Persia, which she reciprocated greatly. Ibn Khaldun writes, that after the Muslim conquest of Persia in 633AD, Arabs to a large extent became Persianized. Dutton (2002), comments on the early shifts in political authority, from Madina to Kufa, then to Damascus and later to the Islamic Golden Age in Baghdad. The move to Baghdad harmonised Persian influences, making the Muslim world the unrivaled centre of education, science, medicine and philosophy. At this time, the prophetic saying arguing that the ink of the scholar is more holy that the blood of the martyr, embodied the Muslim mind-set. Dutton (2002) also asserts that after the death of Muhammad, cultural practices became central in understanding how to derive, interpret and apply Islamic law. Ibn Khaldun (2005) and Dutton (2002) paint a picture of Muslim acculturation built around urban centres of knowledge, as opposed to the Bedouin desert plains, as is often romanticised.
Date: 2011-12

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