Indian Muslim Leading Newspaper, New from India, Islam, World
32 pages, Twice a month. Subscribe Now.  (RNI DELENG/2000/930; ISSN 0972-3366)

Since Jan 2000

Cartoons .  Special Reports . National  . Issues . Community News Letters to the Editor  . Matrimonials . Latest Indian Muslim Statements . Book Store ++

Subscribe Online

About Us

Online Book Store  

Jobs @ MG

Advertise on MG
Our Team
Contact Us

Muslim Matrimonials
Our Advertisers

Add to your RSS reader - Indian Muslim Islamic News online media web site

»  Lastest Indian Muslim 
Statements & 
Press Release
Web (WWW) OR  
only MG

» Tell me when the next issue comes online:






If you haven't seen the print edition,

missed it ALL

send me the print edition


By Zafarul-Islam Khan

Much of our internal problems may be traced to the self-imposed decadence and the self-created ideological vacuum. After the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century, our scholars closed the doors of ijtihad, i.e., independent reasoning and inference about new issues and situations which keep arising because human society by its very nature is in constant flux and in an ever-changing ferment. Only animals are unable to plan any change in their lives. New situations and challenges crop up all the time in every human society. And only those societies succeed and grow which accept new challenges and take the trouble of solving their problems in time.

Islam had foreseen this problem and to tackle it had created the institution of ijtihad, reasoning or inference by scholars, as the fourth source of Islamic rules after the Qur’an, Sunnah and ijmac, that is consensus of the scholars. The institution of ijtihad had emerged during the very life-time of the Prophet. Perhaps I do not have to remind you that at the time of despatching Mu’adh, may Allah be pleased with him, as governor of the Yemen in 9H/630-1CE, the Prophet asked him how he was going to give his rulings. Mu’adh replied that I will rely on the Book of Allah, then on the Sunnah of His Prophet. And if I do not find anything in these sources I will use my reasoning. The Prophet was very pleased with this reply.

The closing of the doors of ijtihad has meant that our fiqh, jurisprudence and Islamic thought are stagnating for the past seven centuries. Whenever our faqih needs an answer for a new issue or problem or situation he does not consult the Qur’an and Sunnah. Instead, he looks it up in his yellow books authored centuries ago. He somehow discovers a ‘similar’ situation there and, however great their disparity, applies it to the present problem! Our fuqaha and muftis say it openly that they are mere copyists (naqalah) and not mujtahids.

It is the need of the hour to open the gates of ijtihad and evolve an institutional framework for this so that such ijtihads could amount to an ijma’ (consensus) and not only the personal point of view of a scholar here or there as the case is today. Only Qur’an and the proven Sunnah of the Prophet are sacrosanct to a Muslim. All other human interpretations and inferences over the last fifteen centuries are open to discussion to see if they suit our present conditions and requirements. We cannot be fettered by their interpretations which were necessarily conditioned by their age and circumstances. In fact, there is no scope for ijtihad in only two aspects, basic beliefs (‘aqa’id) and forms of worship (‘ibadaat). All other areas, concerned with dealings and interactions among people (mu’amalaat) are open to ijtihad to suit every new generation of Muslims. What suits us today may not suit the next generations.

The last few centuries, after the closure of the gates of ijtihad, have also stood mute witness to our subjugation, stagnation and scientific and technological decadence. During the pre-colonial era Muslims were the world pioneers in all field of knowledge, science and technology. For close to a millennium we alone were the innovators, explorers and inventors. The scientific and medical books of our ancestors were the textbooks all over the world. Terms of many inventions and innovations still remind of those glorious centuries. Here are just a few examples which will suffice to demonstrate that we are not rootless and that our journey back to glory will not be out of a vacuum:

Al-Biturji [Alpetrazius] (d. 1217 CE) of Seville (Ishbiliya) is father of modern astronomy; Jabir ibn Hayyan [Geber] (d. c. 813] of Kufa is the inventor of Algebra, which is named to this day after its inventor who is regarded as father of Islamic alchemy and chemistry. He laid down the theory of the constitution of metals and discovered nitric acid;

Thabit ibn Qurra (d. 901) of Baghdad is the inventor of anesthesia which he called as ‘tanwim,’ i.e., to induce to sleep; ‘Ali ibn ‘Isa al-Kahhal of Baghdad (first half of the tenth century) is the father of ophthalmology and author of an important early text on the subject, Tadhkirat al-Kahhalin; Ibn al-Nafis of Cairo (d. 1288) is the discoverer of the system of the circulation of blood, which is wrongly attributed by the Europeans to Michael Servetus who came three centuries later. Ibn al-Nafis was the chief physician of Egypt; Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni of Khawarizm [Maitre Aliboron] (d. 1051), one of the most original thinkers and scientists of all times, is the founder of Indology. His Kitab al-Hind is the first scientific and methodological work on India, based on personal investigation and research. One of his original theories is economy of nature which, in a nutshell, says that nature controls the rate of increase or decrease of species and, by doing so, preserves its natural harmony and the purposefulness of all things in nature. In his Kitab Tahdid al-amakin, he predicted the theoretical possibility of the existence of land between the eastern and western limits of the then unknown parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This was necessary in his view in order to preserve the longitudinal symmetry of the earth. This mass of the land he predicted is now known as the ‘Americas.’ Al-Biruni was the first to discover that light travels faster than sound; Ibn al-Haytham [Alhazen / Alhacen] of Cairo (d. 1039), a pioneer in the field of optics and astronomy and the first to use camera obscura, was the first to discover solar energy and put forward the idea of converting the light of sun into energy in his Kitab al-manazir (Book of Optics) which was used as a textbook in Europe until the middle of the eighteenth century in its Latin and other translations. He discovered the second law of reflection in catoptrics. Ibn Al-Haytham’s theory of vision held sway until the seventeenth century; Abu’l-Qasim al-Zahrawi [Abucasis] (d. 1013) of Andalus, a great physician of his time, invented the modern plaster-cast which is still used in hospitals the world over. Translations of his encyclopaedic work on medicine and surgery, Kitab al-tasrif li man ‘ajiza ‘an al-ta’lif was a textbook in Europe until the eighteenth century. He invented many surgical instruments which are still used in one way or the other; Abu Yusuf al-Kindi [Alkindus] (d. c. 873), of Baghdad, was the founder of the science of psychophysics which deals with the quantitative relationship between psychological and physical events. He was a great philosopher in his own right. He applied mathematical principles to posology and discovered that the minimum noticeable compound medicine taken for an invariable unity of efficacy is additional to itself; Ibn Sina [Avicenna] of Central Asia (d. at Hamadan, 1037), an extraordinary physician and scientist, presented the theory of the origin of earth in which he ascribed the formation of the earth to the heat of the sun and to a certain force which emanated possibly from its centre; Dawud al-Kayseri (d. 1350), a sufi-philosopher, presented the theory that energy is the base of all phenomena; Al-Ghazzali [Algazel] of Baghdad and Nishapur (d. at Tus, 1111), a most original thinker and philosopher, was the first to expose the exact stages of the embryonic development of the human body, in accordance with his theory of knowledge. He was the first to allude to the functioning of the heart and spoke of the ‘eye of the heart’ and ‘pupil of the heart’ which corresponds to the Sinoartrial Node in modern physiology and anatomy; Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (d. 808H/1406CE), is the founder of the modern discipline of sociology. His monumental work, al-Muqaddimah (the Prolegomena) to his Universal History is still a textbook in many oriental and occidental universities; Abu’l-Fida (d. 732H/1331CE), the author of the great geographical work, Taqwim al-buldan, made out a case for the sphericity of the earth and said that if two men were to travel around the earth, one eastwards and the other westwards, from a given point, they would meet each other on that point at the same time.

There are many other Muslim scientists, philosophers and scholars who left their mark on the body of knowledge, science and philosophy, like Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (d. 1198), Ibn Bajah [Avenpace / Avempace] (d.1138), Ibn Al-Jazzar [Algizar] (d. 1009), Ibn Jazlah [Bengesla / Bengezla] (d. 1100), Ibn Zuhr [Avenzoar] (d. 1162), Ibn Wafid [Abengufit] (d. 1075), Ibn Yunus [Ebn Junis] (d. 1009), Ibn Bakr ibn Tufayl [Abubacer] (d.1185 ), Ali ibn Abi al-Rijal [Abenragel] (d. eleventh century), Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi [Abulmasar] (d. 881 ), Ahmad ibn Yusuf al-Misri [Ametus] (d. 912), Al-Battani [Albategnius / Albetenius] (d. 929), Jabir ibn Aflah [Geber Filius Aflac] (d. 1050 ), Khalid ibn Yazid [Calid Filius Jezidi] (d. 704 ), Al-Khawarizmi [Alkhwarizi] (d. 846), Al-Razi [Rhazes] (d. 923 or 925), Al-Zarqani [Arzachel] (d. 1100), Al-Sufi [Azophi] (d. 986), Ali ibn Radwan [Haly ebn Rodan / Rodoham] (d. 1061), Ali ibn Abbas [Haly Abbas] (d. 1031), Ali ibn Isa [Jesu Hali] (d. eleventh century), Ammar al-Musali [Canamusali] (d.c.1010), Al-Farabi [Alpharabius] (d. 950), Al-Farghani [Alfraganus] (d. ninth century), Abu’l-wafa al-Buzjani (d. 998), Al-Idrisi (d. 1166), Umar Khayyam (d. 1121), Nasiruddin Tusi (d. 1274), Qutbuddin Shirazi (d. 1311), Kamaluddin Farisi (d. 1320), Jamshid Kashi (d. 1436), etc. etc.

With the closure of the gates of ijtihad we ourselves have shut the gates to our development and growth. 

Subscribe Now


Get Books from India at cheap attractive ratesArabic English High Quality translation

Help Relief, Welfare, development work in India - Zakat

Read books on Indian Muslim Islamic topics only on MG bookstore !

Subscribe 2 MG print edition | Muslim Educational Loan AidContact Us | Muslim Baby Names | OutreachIndia | Suggestions | Muslim  Islamic greeting cards

Bookmark The Milli Gazette

Privacy PolicyDisclaimer  © Copyright 2000-Present  Publishers: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, India