This is an review of the major fields of study in Islam, including ilm al-kalam (theology) up until akhlaq (science of spiritual ethics).
Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.
Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!
In this lesson, we will look at the major fields of study in Islamic studies. They include theology, philosophy, logic, law, and ethics.
BODY OF TEXT
Theology is the study of God. It comes from the word “theo” which means God in Greek, and logy which means “study of.” In Arabic, the equivalent term for theology is ilm al-kalām, which means “science of discourse” as in ..”discourse about God.”
Theology in Islam is multifaceted. It studies the attributes of God, such as His justice, mercy and wrath. It also tries to study the nature of God. It tries to demonstrate, for example, that God cannot be more than two. It also studies things like God’s “word” and “speech” … For example, is God’s word and speech eternal or created? Yeah, it’s tough stuff.
Falsafah is the Arabic word for philosophy. It is a specific kind of philosophy that is inspired (mostly) by Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy. It doesn’t mean that those who do falsafah agree with everything the Greek philosophers said, but they do cover a lot of themes that the Greeks did, except that they add to it, change it, and sometimes challenge it when it is outright wrong.
Subjects that are dealt with in falsafah include, among other things, questions about existence or epistemology. Epistemology has to do with how we know things. So in Islamic knowledge, you will see a lot of discussions about the philosophy of knowledge and philosophy of mind.
The word for logic is mantiq. Mantiq comes from the Arabic word nataqa, meaning to speak. Mantiq is speaking inside your head and hence “logic.” Mantiq in Islam deals with issues like the law of non-contradiction (for example, something cannot exist and not exist at the same time) or how the whole cannot be smaller than the part. Logic at times can be very simple, but sometimes complex.
The Arabic word usually used for Islamic law is fiqh. Fiqh means deep understanding, as in deep understanding of the law. Fiqh deals with all the rulings in Islam from prayer to marriage. Fiqh is the largest discipline in Islam and has more books written about it than any other subject.
Related to law is Islamic legal theory or usul al-fiqh. Usul al-fiqh is the study and critical analysis of the origins, sources, and principles upon which fiqh or Islamic law is based on.
An example of usul al-fiqh is when we have two reliable traditions give contradictory accounts on the permissibility of a certain thing or action. Principles in usul al-fiqh will give suggestions on how to reconcile these kinds of traditions, or how to prioritize one over the other.
Ethics or the science of akhlaq. Akhlaq deals with spiritual ethics. In other words, it deals with our deep rooted emotional and psychological problems that impede on our religious life. They include the study of anger, pride, jealousy, depression, hopelessness and much, much more!
Closely related to akhlaq is the science of Irfan or Islamic mysticism. Since our behavior and emotions all revolve around the state of our souls, our akhlaq is directly connected to our mystical experiences of God since it is from the soul or heart that God is witnessed.
the study and critical analysis of the origins, sources, and principles upon which fiqh or Islamic law is based on.
What is ilm al-kalam?
Science of discourse, as in discourse about God. It’s the equivalent of theology in the West.
What is mantiq?
The science of logic
What is akhlaq as a discipline in Islamic studies?
The study of spiritual ethics like anger, jealousy etc.
What is fiqh?
Study of Islamic law
What is falsafah?
Islamic philosophy that is inspired by Greek philosophy (especially Aristotle and Plato).
science of akhlaq
Islamic legal theory
Elements of Islamic Studies by Akhtar Rizvi