Origin of Scientific Methodology in the Heritage of Islam


Islamic Medicine
Staff member
Origin of Scientific Methodology In the Heritage of Islam

By Prof. Dr . Ahmad Fouad Basha

Professor of Physics, Faculty of Science, Cairo University

* The interest of historians, scientists and philosophers in the analysis of the metalanguage of Natural Science has been recently increased, particularly,

after the man activities today are inevitably dependent more and more on science and technology. Accordingly, the best understanding of the role of science in our life will help in formulating a highly acceptable idea about the world through correlation between various natural phenomena.

* The glaring achievements of Muslim scientists in developing science and methods of scientific research are made known as a matter of fact. The analysis of Islamic scientific legacy may allow one to conclude that Experimentation in an essential step in the scientific research which is based on induction , deduction and "qias" (analogue). Making use of modern terminology, we can find representative examples of scientific types of observation , experiment (pilot, controlled, crucial) and hypothesis in the publications of Muslim scholars.

(e.g. Al Manazer "Optics" by Ibn al Haytham).

On the other hand, the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH)

are considered the origin of scientific thought and they prompt Muslims to accumulate positive knowledge. In this connection, the Holy Qur'an emphasizes the superiority of the men of science and knowledge. Allah (SWT) says:

(" قل هل يستوى الذين يعلمون والذين لا يعلمون إنما يتذكر أولو الألباب" ( سورة الزمر: 9

"Say: those who know and those who don't, are they equal? (certainly not).But only those with mind will reckon" (Surat Az-Zumar (39): 9)"

* Besides, Islam released the mind to think and discover the scientific fact away from idols or constraints. In this respect, Islam preceded the so-called idols of tribe, cave, market- place and theatre due to Bacon. Accordingly, Muslim researchers were able to achieve great discoveries in various branches of sciences, such as Gaber Ibn Hayan in chemistry, Ibn al-Haytham in physics, Razi in medicine, al-Bayrouni in geology, and others.

· The main postulates of the Islamic Scientific Method can be summarized in the following:
  1. Tawhid, methodologically and epistemologically, is the basis of scientific thinking. Allah (SWT) says:

    ("اقرأ باسم ربك الذى خلق" (العلق: 1

    "Read in the name of your Lord, Who has created (All that exists) " (Surat Al-‘Alaq (96): 1)

    It is Islamic Tawhid only that makes man capable both to discover the knowable facts of the seen world and to believe in the unseen beyond the reach of human ken.
  2. Without the Islamic thought of Tawhid; it will be difficult to believe in

    the uniformity of nature and causality of events and natural phenomena,

    and consequently to be sure of revealing new facts in future. Tawhid

    opens the way before mind to discover and develop more and more. Allah

    (SWT) says:

    (" سنريهم آياتنا فى الآفاق وفى أنفسهم حتى يتبين لهم أنه الحق" (سورة فصلت: 53

    "We shall show them Our evident signs in the Skies as well as within their

    own selves, that they may be convinced Our revelation is the truth “ (Surat Fussilat (41): 53)

    In the Holy Qur'an we also read:

    (" ما ترى فى خلق الرحمن من تفاوت فارجع البصر هل ترى من فطور، ثم ارجع البصر كرتين ينقلب إليك البصر خاسئا وهو حسير" (سورة الملك: 3-4

    “There is no flaw in God's creation. Look into it once, twice and more (for any discrepancy or short-coming). You will find none. Your quizzical sight will return to you humbled but convinced (of the perfection of God's creation). (Surat Al-Mulk (67): 3- 4)
  3. The fundamental elements of scientific method, i.e. observation, experimentation and hypothesis, are made by all faculties of knowledge.

    Allah (SWT) says:

    (" إن السمع والبصر والفؤاد كل أولئك كان عنه مسئولا" (سورة الإسراء: 36

    "As Faculties of knowledge, your sights , your hearings and your hearts

    are indeed responsible "(Surat Al-Israa (17): 36)

In the light of these Islamic fundamentals, the Muslim scholars

developed the proper method of research which allowed them to be the

main bearers of the torch of knowledge and learning, as well as the connecting link between the Greco-Roman classical age and the modern scientific era. However, we are still in need to read again and again in their legacy, not only to modernize our Islamic scientific culture, but also to Islamize the methods of thinking. Islamization of knowledge in general, and scientific thought in particular, should be one of the essential features of Islamic renaissance.

Prof. Dr. Ahmad Fouad Basha