IOK : Engagement of Social Science

IOK : Engagement of Social Science

Creative Engagement Of "Modern" Social Science Scholarship:

A Significant Component Of The Islamization Of Knowledge Effort


Ibrahim A. Ragab 

Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology 

Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences 


Paper submitted to the Workshop on Islamization of Knowledge , Organized by the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences , in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, June 7 -11, 1996.

[Social Science - Islamization Of Knowledge – Ibrahim Ragab] 

Creative Engagement Of "Modern" Social Science Scholarship:

A Significant Component Of The Islamization Of Knowledge Effort


The purpose of this paper is to examine the issues, the possibilities and the processes involved in the utilization of "modern" social science scholarship in the general context of a unified methodology for the Islamization of the Social Sciences. [An account of the different phases of such a comprehensive methodology could be found elsewhere (Ragab,1993) ]. At the outset, an attempt will be made here to tackle the issue of whether the Islamic Social Sciences has, in fact, any use for the theories and methodologies developed by “modern” social scientists in their (admittedly partially misguided) endeavors to understand man and social relationships. Special emphasis will be given to the question of where and under what conditions would it be advisable (or even imperative on us) to consult social science material with a potential for incorporation into the body of the Islamized social sciences. In the second part of the paper, some guidelines for the process of engagement of "modern" social science scholarship are suggested. 

The general framework of the discussion is informed by the first, and in my judgment, the clearest account of the meaning of the "Islamization of Knowledge" and its basic requirements. I mean the classic paper submitted by the late Ismail Al-Faruki to the Islamabad Seminar on Islamization of Knowledge in January 1982, under the seminar title. That same article was translated into Arabic in the same year in Al-Muslim Al-Muaasir, and since then became most influential also among Arabic-speaking scholars, thus gaining general acceptance among Muslim scholars all over the world. In that work Al-Faruki was very clear about the central role played by the social sciences in modern societies, hence the need for the reform of these sciences as an integral part of the whole the Islamization of Knowledge process. An attempt is, of course, made in the present work to reflect the major developments in the field since Al-Faruki. In this way, we hope to capture what may constitute the mainstream of the movement today.

But before we go farther, a word on what we mean by the "creative engagement" may be in order. Creative engagement in this context is simply the process of approaching the social sciences in a spirit of "confident' search for the truth; of digesting and assimilating their research findings, their hypotheses and their theories; of rigorously evaluating them in the light of Islamic revealed knowledge; and, most importantly, of the ability to vigorously transcend them wherever appropriate,… in search of a bold and an unhesitant synthesis, at a higher plane. Such a level-headed approach would obviate any tendencies towards a priori rejection of these sciences in toto or in part . It also militates against gullible attempts at indiscriminate adoption of modern social science as-is, as if they are universal and almost immutable in their methods ( an attitude, unfortunately, still betrayed by some Muslim social scientists until this very day and hour!). Creative engagement of "modern" social sciences cannot then be a thought of as a simple-minded exercise in arithmetic processes of subtraction and addition of subject matter here and there. Nor can it be an apologetic attempt to prove that Islam came to the same (inconclusive? of dubious validity?) modern scientific conclusions fourteen hundred years ago. It is a painstakingly serious, disinterested process of search for the truth about man and human relationships, wherever that truth could be found, and wherever it has a potential to be validated. 


Posing a rhetorical question such as the above may - to the uninitiated - seem absurd. For others, it may seem at least an unfitting opening to a discussion of the utilization of the "Social Sciences". However, it is important to deliberately deal with this question here because it is not as simple as it may appear. This is a complex, multifaceted issue, engulfed in strong sentiments on both sides. First we have those who see revelation - in its certainty - as the "only " source of anything good at all. They also note the miserable state of affairs resulting from the secularist, pseudo-scientific attitudes prevalent in the social sciences. It would not be surprising for them to conclude that social science scholarship is worthless… in comparison with what they have. On the other hand we have those who are still caught in the illusion of the (by now almost defunct) belief that "science can save us !". Those who still bask in talking about (not doing) experimentation and mathematical modeling in the social sciences as if to say that this is science and this is certainty. So where do we go from here? The truth, it seems, lies somewhere in between those two extreme claims. Each has a valid point to make, but the problem lies in the inability of some to see and to concede the truth in the other's argument.

We have to honestly admit at the outset that modern social sciences do in fact leave a lot to be desired. They have historically charted for themselves a questionable one-sided, positivist-empiricist path that apparently has lead them to a dead end. If we may borrow Wilber' s (1990: 3-7) terminology , we may say that they unfortunately have confined their vision only to the realm of knowledge offered by the empirical "eye" of the senses , with some assistance from the mental "eye" of reason,… while they have completely blinded their "eye of contemplation" , of the transcendental, of religion . This myopic vision, which has been dominant for long in all of the modern social sciences, seems to justify not only condemnation of the social sciences for these shortcomings , but also the complete out-of-hand rejection of anything that belongs to these sciences altogether.

Although one may "understand" the motive for that highly exaggerated response on the part of some, that type of reflex , or the almost knee-jerk reaction can hardly be justified. Such a rejectionist position seems to be grossly ill conceived and unnecessarily unproductive on more than one account. We can identify at least three groups of considerations that need to be carefully examined and elaborated upon at some length here. These are:

a) the pragmatic/realistic considerations;

b) the processual/ methodological considerations ; and 

c) the substantive considerations .

We will dedicate the following part of the presentation to a fuller discussion of these concerns in detail before moving on to a description of the process and the procedures of the creative engagement of the social sciences itself.

(1) Pragmatic/Realistic Considerations:

Realistically speaking, nobody can question the fact that modern social science methods, models , and theories are the staple and the tools of the trade for armies of present-day professionals, currently leading contemporary societies in almost all walks of lives. Those specialized and socialized in the social sciences are the ones who are dictating to us how to conduct our business, and telling us how to run our political institutions. They are not only teaching our young, but are even telling us how to run our families and to conduct our social relationships!. They are doing just that even while we are sitting here to discuss this issue, if we like it or not. Worse , we have to remember that in this way they are also shaping our future , because currently, educators all over the world are doing their teaching from textbooks filled with these flawed “social scientific” ideas to unsuspecting students who would be the leaders of our tomorrow. They may not even realize the extent to which that these products are in many ways defective. If the Islamization of the Social Sciences would ever aspire to replace these products with Islamized ones , we cannot afford but to start from where the people are, as a prelude to helping them move forward. 

Dire pronouncements against the modern social sciences thus do not serve any productive function. Those professionals and educators have first to be convinced that there is indeed an alternative, and that it is a superior one for that matter. Such negativistic pronouncements may serve cathartic, psychological functions for those who are impatient with the state of affairs in the social sciences , but they are self-defeating and unproductive in the long run. At the same time, for any rejectionist claims to have any credibility, its proponents have first to successfully establish as a fact that modern social sciences are completely valueless or that there is nothing there that could be salvaged from them to be put for good use - something that I will take issue with shortly. 

(2) Processual/Methodological Considerations:

Some non-social scientists and some well-meaning social scientists may argue that there could be no "Islamization" of the social sciences except through exclusive reliance on Islamic sources, the Noble Quran, Hadith and the contributions of the great Muslim scholars over the centuries. Nothing is wrong with that statement except for the italicized except and exclusive above ! If we accept the idea of "combining the two types of reading (in the iqraa ! verse of the Noble Quran): that is Revelation and the cosmos " as the core concept of the Islamization of Knowledge , then we can hardly confine ourselves to one single reading as a basis for Islamized knowledge. Al-Alwani has convincingly elucidated this point and has discussed the negative consequences of this one-sidedness elsewhere (Al-Alwani & Khalil,1994 : 8-11). 

Moreover, we have always to be bear in mind the fact that the great Muslim thinkers' magnificent works have - unfortunately - not been developed or cumulatively expanded upon by their successors or the heirs to their legacy. The result is a formidable gap in the conceptual development of the realm of Islamic scholarship which is supposed to be the equivalent of that occupied today by the modern social sciences. Anyone involved in theory construction and research activities knows the forbidding difficulties involved in attempts to do research based on theoretical concepts characterized by being at a high level of abstraction. These may be very convincing and interesting in themselves, but they are little help for the specificity required by the research effort. To make the leap from those very abstract notions found in the heritage of our Muslim scholars of the past in an effort to translate them into concrete concepts that lend themselves for use in real-life research today may be prohibitive indeed. However, these difficulties may be very much alleviated with the introduction of judicious doses of the concepts and definitions already in existence within modern social sciences. We do not, in many cases, have to reinvent the proverbial wheel to prove our originality. Chauvinism should certainly have no place in scientific activity - couched as it may be even in religious sentiment. We may remember in this context the warning "..and let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety.."(Quran 5:8).

(3) Substantive Considerations:

Now, if we can agree that modern social sciences do have something to offer to the Islamization process, the question would now be: which of the constituent parts of the social sciences are more promising, and what is the nature and extent of that promise. Like any other science, we can identify the following components of the social sciences, which we will examine to decide whether, and the degree to which, they could be utilized within the framework of the Islamization process:

a) research findings, validated observations, facts;

b) research methods, data-collection techniques;

c) models, analytical tools; and

d) theories, theoretical frameworks.

a) Research findings : This should be the least controversial component of all. Or is it ? After all, it could be easily argued that research findings are the incontrovertible outcomes of rigorous, painstaking, systematic research, which have withstood the test of correspondence with the objective, external world. However, as current debates in the philosophy of science have clearly shown, "scientific" observations are not performed in vacuum. They are mostly arrived at within an overarching presence of certain explicit or implicit theoretical frameworks, which in turn derive their overall meaning from the prevailing paradigm. Observations are thus as good and as useful as the theoretical frameworks in reference to which they were made to start with. Observations, then, are inseparable from theories.

But, on the other hand, it hardly can be denied that validated observations still say something about certain bits and pieces of reality, in and of themselves, irrespective of the interpretations we give (or inflict upon) them. So, it seems reasonable to conclude that research findings (or validated observations) in the social sciences do still have some utility for the Islamization effort. But there are certain important qualifications to this statement. First, validated observations have to be cut loose from any unworthy (from an Islamic perspective) theoretical frameworks they are attached to. Second, they should not be taken for absolutes, because they do reflect social and cultural contingencies, which may not be relevant or replicable in other situations. Third, and somewhat related to the previous one, they basically describe the status quo in the context of the present civilizational array, thus placing no claims to being a standard or measure that determines any "universal" normative truths outlasting their time and place - something that in the Islamic perspective is seen as a prerogative of the transcendental revealed knowledge.

b) Research methods and techniques : This component also should not pose serious questions in the minds of many. After all, as far as we are talking about a number of "discrete" research designs and data-collection techniques, there should not be that much to argue about. In this respect, i.e., taken as discrete collection of technical instruments, they could be seen as neutral and least controversial, it could be argued. However, once they are seen within the general framework of the guiding epistemological principles, serious problems start to present themselves. Again, the utilization of all these innocent looking tools is very much tied to the paradigm that provides the logic of their use.

Consequently, one can expect that a paradigmatic shift (like the one that seems to be called for by the Islamization perspective) would normally mean, among other things, the development of additional, more relevant, methods and techniques. It should also mean a reevaluation of the relative weight given to specific techniques currently in use. A case in point is a de-emphasis on experimental designs (emphasized by the empiricist tradition) with increasing emphasis on collaborative, participative techniques , which are now advocated by the post-empiricist, New Paradigm research .

On the basis of the foregoing discussion, it should be reasonable to conclude that most current research methods and data-collection techniques are potentially useful as part and parcel of the Islamization of the Social Science effort, however -again- with some qualifications. First, there should be every expectation that "new" methods and techniques will have to be devised, to cater for the research needs pertaining to the unique areas hitherto untouched by the positivist-empiricist paradigm, such as those capable of dealing with the spiritual determinants of behavior. Second, that some current techniques may need some modifications to fit into the new Islamization paradigm. How to conduct a household interview, for example, may definitely be subject to different rules when conceived within the Islamic perspective. Third, that the emphasis given to a particular technique in current use may also change when used within the Islamization paradigm.

c) Analytical tools and models : Once more, we come to another safe area for borrowing from the social sciences . Models, such as the "social systems" model , are abstracted representations of reality used to help us gain insight in the workings of complex phenomena, ranging from personality systems to societal and global systems. Analytical tools and methodologies such as "Social Problem Analysis" provide technically sound categories and procedures which help us grasp otherwise unfathomable problems so as to devise social policies and social programs to help us tackle these problems. Statistical analytical tools provide another example of the sophisticated techniques available for immediate use, hardly with any need for modification. These are normally neutral tools and formal constructs to be filled in with whatever pieces of information deemed theoretically appropriate by the analyst. They can be seen basically as good servants to any master. They could also be developed and modified as need arises in light of the new paradigm. Such models and analytical tools could be seen as an asset for the Islamization effort, and it would be a real waste to throw them away with other defective components of the modern social sciences, like someone who throws the baby with the wash water! 

d) Theories and theoretical frameworks: Now for what is in fact the most problematic constituent part of the modern social sciences as far as the Islamization of the Social Sciences is concerned. Theories are in a way the translation of the "imagination" emanating from the guiding paradigm into abstract constructs, thus reflecting and "magnifying" its shortcomings as well as its merits. So here is where we must be duly cautious and it would not hurt even to be overly skeptic - and with reason. A process of systematic examination, evaluation, and sifting out should guide our search for what is useful of the so-called theories found in social science literature before accepting any for inclusion into the Islamized scheme. The social sciences are notorious for theoretical chaos on the one hand and for pretentiousness on the other. Very few came closer to unveiling these and other characteristics of contemporary social sciences better than Sorokin in his Fads and Foibles in Modern Sociology and Related Sciences (1956).What he said then still holds true today. What he predicted for today has been actualized to the letter! But the issues involved in extracting whatever is still useful in such social science theoretical insights needs a more elaborate discussion. Most of what appears in the next part of this paper under "process and procedure" below is described with “theoretical” constructs in mind. 

(4) Bonus : Some "Modern" Social Science Being An "Antidote" To Some:

The good news is that the Islamization of the Social Sciences may have allies from some unexpected quarters. The social sciences should never be perceived as a monolithic entity. Neither are they closed systems of inquiry. Self-correction has always been seen as an attribute of good science. The social sciences were not an exception, although one might not appreciate the slowness of social scientists in their attempts to live up to that ideal. It could be said that throughout the history of the social sciences there have hardly been any lack of dissent. Dissident voices have , with different degrees of success, been trying to point out neglected aspects, or to steer a way away from the imperfect reigning paradigm. These dissident views of some outstanding scholars could at times be the best allies of those who are pursuing an new synthesis - such as that of Islamization of the Social Sciences. In my humble judgement, the work of Pitrim Sorokin - who is, incidentally, hailed as the "World's Greatest Sociologist" by Zimmerman in his book by that same title (1968) - can help (and may veritably have already helped…) establish the theoretical and methodological foundations on which the Islamization of the Social Sciences could very comfortably be based !. Anyone familiar with his work may argue that Sorokin did not have a special interest in Islam as such. However, it could be argued that his elucidation of what he called the "integral" approach to knowledge very much approaches the ideal sought by the Islamization of Knowledge. On the basis of his vast research on "Social and Cultural Dynamics" through millennia, he came to conclude, among other things, that the only hope for the survival of modern civilization is in the ascendancy of the "idealistic principle" which blends …"faith, reason and empiricism" ( Michel Richard, in his Introduction to Sorokin, 1985: ix, xi). Sorokin described how in short ( but magnificent) periods of history a creative, harmonious integration of the "sensate" truths of the senses, the "rational" truths of reason, and the super-sensory, super-rational , "ideational" truths of faith have been actually achieved (1941;1957). More recently, others have taken positions which may also prove to be very useful in that respect. Of special importance here are the work of Roger Sperry in neuroscience (1988, 1991), the latter Maslow in his "Theory of Metamotivation" in the area of personality theory (1977), O'Doherty' s work on Psychology and Religion (1978), and even more ambitiously, the work of Capra in the Turning Point (1982) and of Augros & Stanciu in their account of the New Story of Science (1984). 

But there is a caveat here. 

Dissident and fringe views should be seen for what they in reality are. In most cases , they represent the genuine insights of intelligent, honest scholars who are still functioning within the prevailing cultural milieu. They mainly provide a critique from within, and so are still bound by, and committed to, the same general intellectual heritage. Very few among them could indeed succeed in cutting loose from the grips of their cultural environment. Sorokin is one of the few. This is the exception. In contrast, Maslow' s work referred to above illustrates the rule rather than the exception. He starts, in a masterful way, by identifying and describing in very formal statements what clearly looks in every way like the spiritual dimension in most religious teachings. He describes in detail the way the spiritual dimension motivates human behavior. He even uses (with due apologies and disclaimers!) religious terms such as mission, vocation, and oblation in his descriptions. But that is as far as he can possibly go, given the cultural taboos of the scientific community in which he functions. Although he convincingly adds that the "spiritual life" which he broadens to include "the contemplative, 'religious', philosophical, or value life" are "proper subjects for scientific study and research", he goes on to say that spiritual life is "clearly rooted in the biological nature of the species. It is a 'higher' animality", and he means that in an evolutionary sense !( :39-43). He thus pushes on the reader his unwarranted and unsubstantiated denial of anything like the possible existence of something of a supernatural nature. He gives us mere assertions in this particular respect, without ever proving them.

The point we are trying to make here is that such insights as those of Maslow with the formal statements in which they are translated in terms amenable for research can be fruitfully utilized, however with their limitations fully recognized. But it is the duty of Muslim social scientists, of course, to go the extra mile in search for the truth on the basis of the "truths" of the last word of revelation. 


We hope that it has become clear by now that the "creative engagement" of modern social sciences indeed holds a great promise for the Islamization effort. The complexities of the situation have also been accentuated. Some of the constituent parts of these sciences were found to be more amenable for direct utilization or adaptation within that scheme than some others. But it has to be emphasized here that such utilization can never be a hit-or-miss venture. Researchers have to approach that task equipped with a clearly defined, coherent set of procedures to ensure protection against hasty judgment, unwarranted conclusions, or flagrant omissions. We may now proceed to shed some light on the basic elements of the process of utilization and the procedures involved in it. A possibly useful framework for that process may be comprised of the following : 

a) mastering modern social science scholarship; 

b) analysis of the historical development of the social sciences, and 

identification of their ontological and epistemological underpinnings; 

c) taking stock of the general outline of the Islamic worldview and the 

basic principles upon which it is based; 

d) appraisal and rigorous critical assessment of modern scholarship from 

the Islamic viewpoint; 

e) sorting out the clearly-in-error, the misinterpreted, the parts-missing; 

from what is clearly valid and usable; and 

f) the final reconstruction, validation, and realignment.

(1) Mastering Modern Social Science Scholarship : 

Mastering the relevant subject matter of the modern social sciences is a must for the Islamization of the Social Sciences . That does not automatically mean that any attempt at the Islamization of any subject should perforce include some content from the counterpart area of the social sciences . All it means is that we can never know if there is anything relevant and usable in modern social sciences except on the basis of first-rate knowledge of the respective area within them. On the other hand, working in an already crowded field of ideas puts the burden of refutation of whatever exists in the social sciences on our shoulders. Also any claim of the superiority of an Islamic alternative has to be substantiated in comparison with current modern scholarship. The incumbents would normally be satisfied with what they have, or so they appear. Even when they recognize that they have certain deficiencies in their own theoretical systems, they tend o see this as natural. They would tell us that their science is still in its infancy, and that all they need is do more research,.. in other words "more of the same". To get their attention at all requires a deep knowledge of what they do have, as well as the honesty and modesty on our part to acknowledge and give credit to the worthy among their achievements. 

But does the mastery of social science scholarship mean that every Muslim social scientist has to be an expert in all the diverse social science disciplines? With the explosion of (the dubious) social science theory and research , hardly can anyone aspire to achieve that feat in a life time. What is required in reality is a familiarity with the common concepts that cut across the social sciences in general, the historical background under which they were developed, and the basic methodological issues normally encountered. This should, naturally be coupled with detailed in-depth knowledge of the specific field we are interested in. 

(2) Historical, Ontological, And Epistemological Underpinnings :

A deep awareness of the ontological and epistemological foundations upon which the social sciences are built and how are these intertwined with their historical development is a necessary condition for any effort directed towards the Islamization of these sciences. Lacking such awareness, Muslim social scientists may be intimidated by the aura of "science" attached to the social sciences, perpetuated by many social scientists suffering from the arrogance of "scientism" syndrome. Or they may, alternately, declare their disagreement or rejection of the precepts of modern social sciences - but for the wrong reasons. There is no need for every Muslim social scientist to analyze - on his own - the historical, ontological, and epistemological underpinnings of the social sciences . This is a fardh kifayah - once adequately accomplished by some, the rest are spared the toil. But the important thing here is that everybody has to consciously and adequately take stock of the fruits of that toil. This aspect of the Islamization of the Social Sciences can hardly be overestimated. One can venture the opinion that without it we would be prone to only make superficial and hollow assertions, indiscriminately accepting or rejecting this or that aspect of the social sciences, lacking substance or even conviction.

(3) Identification Of the Islamic Alternative:

Although this phase of the process does not seem at the first glance to belong to a description of how the social sciences could be utilized , on further reflection, its role should become clearer. As a matter of fact, one cannot move to the next step of evaluating modern scholarship without clearly identifying the Islamic criteria upon which to base our evaluations. Here, it is necessary for us to be equipped with a full understanding of the basic Islamic ontological and epistemological assumptions which inform the Islamic worldview. These would be used as the measuring stick against which social science knowledge would be assessed. A word of explanation may be in order here. The overhasty may construe this statement as if it is a call for an unwarranted superimposition of the Islamic creed as a substitute to verified or verifiable facts. However, it has to be emphasized here that the unjustifiable imposition of preconceptions to block established "facts" can never be condoned in the Islamic perspective . Not on the facts. However, when it comes to hypotheses, or theoretical frameworks, by all means ! The reason should be obvious enough. Theories depend to a large extent on imagination or "conjecture" as Popper and others (see, Feigl,1975:880) would put it, to give some meaning to partial, discrete facts. That is why evaluating them against Islamic principles can hardly be portrayed as superimposition on the facts , except by a still enslaved mind. On the contrary, in the realm of theory building, introducing new sources of possible plausible hypotheses would be seen as a desirable enrichment of a very much needed "free market" of ideas as René Dawis (1984:468) puts it. But then, like all theoretical propositions, it is through validation in the real world that we can judge the truth of the new and the old propositions. Another important thing in this regard. The social sciences are not all about facts. They are equally normative, that is, they are also about values and preferences. Such questions of value are not "settled" by reference to so-called facts. Neither can they be settled in relation to particularistic frames of reference, for this would ultimately degenerate into bottomless relativism. Such values could only be decided upon by a superobjective, transcendental, all-knowing one …that is most definitely God. And that indeed is one basic identifying characteristic of the Islamic perspective. 

(4)Sorting out, Contrasting With The Islamic Perspective:

This is the phase for which the stage was being set until this point. Social science concepts, propositions, theoretical formulations can now be judged in relation to the Islamic perspective on man , society, and the universe. Whatever is found to be congruent with the Islamic perspective could be accepted. Whatever was not should be discarded. On the basis of the above discussion, it should be clear that we do not expect incongruencies between valid observations on the one hand, and the well established Islamic conceptions of human behavior and societal arrangements on the other. Neither do we expect a lot of contradictions when it comes to research methods/techniques and analytical tools. The basic problem with these would be in the way they are set to be used in the big picture of the prevailing paradigm. Which brings us face to face with the worst incongruencies: that is, between social science theoretical frameworks and the Islamic perspectives on human behavior and social relationships. These has to be closely examined and reexamined to distinguish whatever is valid and constructive from what is not. We should not shed any tears on whatever does not prove to be in line with the Islamic worldview in these theories. What we are throwing away, we have to remember, are not facts but indeed conjecture.

(5) The Reconstruction :

This is the real challenge for those involved in the Islamization of the Social Sciences. Now that we have sorted out the pearls from the pebbles, how do we proceed to pick up the pieces and how are we going to integrate them within the unified system of Islamized knowledge? This particular aspect of the process of utilizing social science knowledge would require all the ingenuity and the creativity Muslim social scientists can muster. But one may ask : how do we reconcile all this call for unlimited creativity in bringing together elements of disparate origins like these with the other prerequisites of science such as skepticism and self-correction ? If every Muslim social scientist tried his best to bring together valid insights from the social sciences with those from Islamic sources, then claims that he has “Islamized” his subject, would that mean that we end up with an infinite number of supposedly Islamized theories? What is the mechanism through which we can narrow the differences between individual ijtihads? But this refers to the issue of validation, a question broader than the very limited scope of this paper. It is a question of immense importance that belongs to a more comprehensive treatment of the general area of the “methodology” of the Islamization of the Social Sciences , and could be found elsewhere (see, e.g. Ragab, 1992).

Suffice it here to say that creativity does not mean a free-for-all, with no bases for reaching inter-subjective judgments on the validity of the proposed integral formulations. The established procedure here would consist - in the best of the scientific traditions of rigor and precision - of deriving hypotheses from the integral theoretical frameworks reached , the ones that combine the best of social science and Islamic insights, and to test these hypotheses in "total" reality. Whatever formulations withstand the test move up on the ladder of explanatory robustness. Whatever fails the test have to undergo the necessary modifications to make them more tenable. This is how the Islamization of the Social Sciences becomes a continuous, progressively valid, open system , rather than being - as some fear - merely a bunch of fantastic idiosyncratic claims ornamented by misplaced jewels of Quranic verses and Prophetic Hadiths. 


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