Towards a Unified Approach to the Shari'ah and Social Inference

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Louay Safi



Forging a new methodology capable of analyzing complicated social
phenomena on the one hand, and facilitating the derivation of rules and
concepts from divine revelation on the other, is one of the paramount
concerns of contemporary Islamic scholarship and the sole concern of this
paper. In dealing with this concern the paper pursues two main themes.
First, an attempt is made to underscore the need for reestablishing revelation
as a primary source of social theorizing. Second, a primordial
model of a unified methodological approach for analyzing both revealed
texts and social phenomena is outlined.
The first difficulty confronting any attempt to develop an alternative
methodological approach, especially one rooted in Islamic ontology, lies
in the exclusion of divine revelation from the realm of science. This exclusion
originated within the confines of western scientific traditions due
to internal conflict between western religious and scientific communities.
While revelation and science were never perceived as mutually exclusive
in the Islamic scientific tradition, modern Muslim scholars cannot ignore
the fact that divine revelation is out of place in contemporary scientific
activities. Thus we choose to begin by exploring the grounds for recognizing
revelation as a major soufie of scientific knowledge.
The campaign against revealed knowledge, which led to its exclusion
from western science, consisted of two phases: a) revelation was equated
filst with ungrounded metaphysics and established as a rival knowledge
in contrast to knowledge deemed as true by reason (Locke 1977), and b)
it was then asserted, a la Kant (1969), that scientific activity should be
confined to empirical reality, since human reason cannot ascertain transcendental
reality. We argue that scientific activity presupposes ...

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