Islamic Humanities, An introduction to New Islamic Civilization

In the Name of ALLAH

Hujjatul Islam Dr. Reza Gholami’s Interview

(Head of the Sadra Research Center on Islamic Humanities)


The International Conference on Thought on Human Sciences in Islam


Jakarta, 2014

Islamic Humanities, An introduction to New Islamic Civilization

How is your opinion on the importance and relevance of the issue of social and human sciences for Islamic communities in the contemporary world?

As you know, Humanities and Social Sciences form man’s thought. Where we come from, why we come into this world and where we go are three important questions which human beings have always concerned with to find answers. Of course, the western lifestyle and soaking man in the swamp of negligence make these questions be disappeared from the minds, but man attempts to find convincing answers to these vital questions naturally. Now think yourself, to what extent modern philosophies and secular humanities that are originated from Humanism are able to respond to such questions. Secular humanities (contrary to Islamic humanities) does not have convincing answers about the origin, resurrection, and consequently about the meaning and purpose of life; thus, during the previous centuries it has struggled to erase such questions form the minds. Nowadays, we have to find the main reasons of Nihilism and different types of fatal depressions in the vague and confusing image that western humanities has illustrated for man. On the other hand, the management of a society requires such regulations that originated from humanities and social sciences and imposing western humanities, societies have to obey rules that finally create a vision of having a kind of beautiful and well-ordered zoo for man to live. Perhaps you may think that I am speaking too harsh, but if you contemplate on the reality of the western developed societies, you will approve that the human being brought up by West has not defined himself more than an ordered animal and has been captivated in the cycles of gut, lust, and anger. In such circumstances, both human being and Islamic society do not have more than two choices: first, they have to obey the inevitable destiny created by the western humanities and commit suicide; or second, by an intellectual revolution and their valuable intellectual treasures (born of Islamic intellectuality) create a new destiny for themselves; a destiny that provides them with the opportunities to expand the humanistic integrity, to pass from the animal stage for human being and society and ensures the eternal life. From my viewpoint, a Muslim and Muslim societies – according to their religious beliefs- pursuit the second choice and we as the thinkers of Islamic societies have to provide the opportunities for them to achieve this request.

A major requirement of shaping an Islamic civilization is the attainment of social sciences and humanities based on Islamic worldview (let say “the Islamic Human Sciences”). What is the contribution of the Islamic Human Sciences in the process of creating a civilization?

If you look at the history of Islamic civilization- especially the 4th and 5th centuries which were the glorious peak of Islamic civilization, you will see that one of the main secrets of Muslims’ success in civilizing is their extraordinary attention to science and scientific developments; both in terms of knowledge as well as in term of science. However, the root of Muslims’ attention to science originates from the prestigious position of science in Islam. In Islam, an hour’s contemplation is considered better than 70 year’s prayer and Muslims are constantly encouraged to gain knowledge and use it in their individual and social lives. On the other hand, we have to admit that one of the main causes of the diminishing of Muslims’ civilization in the previous centuries were declining of science and scientific innovations in Islamic societies as well as developing imitation from the west and scientific and technological dependence on west. This means that the Muslims who were science distributors to west in the late Middle ages -west is indebted its developments to Muslim thinkers and scientists in many of its scientific aspects- became the followers of the west. However, today we are witnessing the Islamic awakening in the Islamic societies and taking the preliminary steps to revitalize the glorious Islamic civilization by the central role of Islamic Republic of Iran. At present, the majority of Muslims around the world and even the western leaders acknowledge the Islamic Republic of Iran’s developments in scientific areas with its unique capabilities provided by the Islamic revolution. In fact, Iran has shown that according to Islamic prestigious and dynamic instructions and with the reliance on the Islamic democracy system the glorious Islamic civilization- which justice is its principal features- can be revived and the Islamic societies could be saved from the swamp that western societies sank. As I mentioned in my response to your pervious question, Humanities plays a very important role in building societies. In effect, this is the humanities that build the underpinnings and the framework of a civilization and in this regard other sciences are absolutely dependent on humanities. Therefore, in my opinion, if Muslims cannot replace the Islamic humanities by expelling the western humanities from their intellectual capacities, revival of Islamic civilization will remain as a slogan.

Would you like to elaborate the main characteristics of the Islamic Human Sciences that definetly distinguish them from the contemporary Western Human Sciences?

First of all, I emphasize that if all the sciences and scientific findings are based on the divine worldview, then, they will be divine and Islamic. In effect, according to Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, nothing is out of Allah’s sovereignty. Thus Islamic science says “What Allah says” and the empirical science says “What Allah did”. Nevertheless, we consider three fields for Islamic humanities: The first one is devoted to the metaphysical recognition of human being that only divine science and the philosophy could establish such cognition for human in the highest degree of certainty. The second field is related to those rules and values that play a key role in man’s individual and social life and according to our worldview, it is expected to be defined by the religion for them. Therefore, the source of these rules and values is religion and the reason helps human being to attain these rules and values from religion as their origin. And the third field is related to those issues that must be achieved experimentally. However, the Islamic worldview is not absent here, but according to Islam, man should meet his needs in this filed through the help of experimental knowledge and instrumental reason like parts of sociology, economics, psychology and etc. and whatever the experimental science can be applied is acknowledged by Islam. As you see, Islamic humanities never deprive itself from any science or scientific methodologies, rather use them according to their position and efficiency. Contrary to Islamic humanities, in western humanities, only empirical sciences and methodologies are valid and other sciences and methodologies labeled “non-scientific” and “invalid” are excluded; however, experimental methodologies are not fundamentally capable of responding to significant parts of human being’s important questions. Please note that Islamic humanities intends to empower the human being to know world, himself, and divine system ruling over the universe and is able to provide a new and outstanding life style for human being while putting an end to Nihilism.

What are your expectation of the next conference, the International Conference on Thought on Human Sciences in Islam (IC-THuSI), which be held in Jakarta on 19-20 November 2014?

I have to express my gratitude to you and your colleagues in the brotherly country, Indonesia, for planning such conference. Indeed, achieving Islamic humanities is the main concern of Muslim thinkers. We have endeavored in forming Islamic humanities which one of these prominent efforts is holding the international congress on Islamic humanities. I believe that the main requisite to attain Islamic humanities is constant collaboration and synergy of Muslim scholars in the world of Islam. And conferences like yours provide such an opportunity. The most important expectation of this conference is to take new steps to depict the different theories about the Islamic humanities, evaluate them, besides reminding the necessity of achieving Islamic humanities and proving the ineffectiveness of western humanities.

I wish you success.