Islamic Research Methodology: Source, Scope, Methods

Islamic Research Methodology: Source, Scope, Methods

The Arabic term ‘manhajiyya’ – methodology means the science of studying methods. It may also be a part of any field of knowledge that teaches the logic and nature of that particular field – including research approaches for acquiring knowledge.

Methodology is closely connected to history, the philosophy of science, and epistemology – the theory of knowledge. As an example, the methodology of the Greek and Arab-Islamic Civilization corresponds to ‘logic’ – a branch of philosophy.

Thus, there are some unique features in Islamic Research Methodology as well. This chapter is designed to look at conventional research methodology to offer an Islamic perspective on it and consider its shortcomings.

5 Weaknesses of Conventional Research Methodology

Shortcomings of this methodology can be really understood through history as the reforming process has been ongoing over the ages.

Even Western scholars have accepted this weakness and proposed an integrated research methodology. According to Islam, it is also crucial to critique the conventional research methodology, as Allah (SWT) encourages humans to examine it critically.

The problems in this research methodology are presented briefly:

  1. Materialistic View
  2. Dichotomy between Knowledge
  3. Vague Claim of Objectivity
  4. Multifarious Theories
  5. Narrowness

Materialistic View

The secularization of education eliminated the moral dimension and violated the aim of Islamic education to produce an integrated and perfect individual, insan kaamil.

Modern research is also based on the empirical method that unfortunately has Euro-centric biases, which has a total reliance on human intellect and total rejection of the supernatural being, i.e., fully staying away from the recognition of wahy.

All human behavior cannot be observable by sense; it is not subject to quantification and measurement. Conventional research, discarding the moral and spiritual entity of social reality, turns into an incomplete methodology.

Dichotomy between Knowledge

The most important manifestation of the knowledge crisis is compartmentalization in the education system: traditional Islamic vs. imported European.

Integration of the two systems has failed. Society became ‘secularized’ because the rulers were on one side and the scholars on another side.

This dichotomy between the sources of Islamic guidance and the political leadership of society eventually led to and nurtured the knowledge crisis we have today. The scholars also divided into two groups of belief. Scholars who acquire worldly knowledge based on Western values are devoid of Islamic values.

The other group, depending on only religious education, abstains totally from contemporary knowledge.

Vague Claim of Objectivity

Secular conventional research methodology has claimed to be scientific and objective.

But it is vague. Because it is just a theoretical formulation which none of the pioneers of the scientific method, in the West, adhered to. Indeed, most scholars whose names were linked to objectivity, such as Auguste Comte, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim, have been more akin to reformers than scholars of the scientific method and moral neutrality.

In such methodology, subjective phenomena are characterized by instability as they are affected by environmental conditions and also differ from person to person, even in a similar condition.

Multifarious Theories

Another limitation of the conventional research method is the multifarious theories on a certain issue. Most of the time it happens that there are too many theories, theorists, philosophers, and thinkers on one particular issue.

This leads to confusion because an acceptable theory today becomes obsolete tomorrow. Thus, the conventional research methodology is turning from a positivist paradigm to an interpretive paradigm.


Intellectual analysis using non-Islamic terminology and concepts creates intellectual confusion. Studying Western society using contextual data necessarily leads to Western results and cannot serve as models for the study of Muslim society.

As an example, Kinsey’s value-free sex research can be mentioned, which diverted attention from adultery to the prevention of pregnancy.

Difference between Conventional Research Methodology and Islamic Research Methodology

IssuesConventional MethodologyIslamic Methodology
WorldviewHere, revelation (The Quran and Sunnah) is not considered to be the primary source.It is based on the Quranic, i.e., tawhidi worldview.
SourceIn this methodology, revelation is not considered as a source.Here, revelation (The Quran and Sunnah) is considered to be the primary source.
PurposeIt is based on different philosophical theories.An Islamic researcher does not aim only for material gain. There is an ultimate objective (niyat) that is to gain the Almighty’s bliss by helping mankind.
Seeking helpThe researchers using this method don’t crave seeking divine help.A Muslim researcher always seeks help from Allah (SWT) as he/she believes that human beings have limitations.
Ethical aspectsHere, researchers depend on man-made ethical aspects.In addition to man-made ethical aspects, a Muslim researcher follows Islamic manners (adab). S/he also fears Allah the Baseerun (the all-seer) and abstains from unethical tasks.
ComprehensivenessMost of the Western social science research is limited in their context which cannot be acceptable as a model for Muslim society.History of Islamic culture and civilization shows comprehensiveness. Thus, Islamic research can contribute to every aspect of society. Every nation can enjoy the fruits of Islamic research.
FindingsThe conventional researchers claim their research findings to be certain and unbiased.There should be no contradiction between research findings and revelation. If there is any contradiction in findings, then it needs to be reinvestigated.
ExampleThe most prominent theory of motivation in the late 19th and 20th century was the Instinct theory, which believed that all motives are genetically programmed, impulsive, and inflexible. This theory experienced a sharp decline with the up-and-coming of behaviorism.Muslims also believe that most behaviors are learned, but it is also firmly believed (supreme theory) that some motives come from our instinct provided to us by Allah SWT. Islam believes that the soul and iman moderate the relationship between instinct and behaviors, i.e., flexible instinct. Al-Qur’an describes the natural motherly instinct of Prophet Musa AS’s mother, but because of her faith in Allah, she behaved in an (observably) “un-motherly” way by drifting her son in the river.

Need for Islamic Research Methodology

The advantage of Islamic research is that it furnishes a logical explanation of all types of objectivity and phenomena. Islam is engaged with realities, the ultimate one being Allah (SWT). Islam also admits the role of sense experiences.

The need for Islamic Research methodology is discussed below:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge: Perspectives from Russell and Locke
  2. Islamic Perspectives on Knowledge and Civilization Building
  3. Addressing the Knowledge Crisis through Epistemological Reform
  4. Resolving the Thought Crisis with Islamic Law and Societal Solutions
  5. The Impact of Limited Islamic Research on Intellectual Progress
  6. The Role of Educational and Knowledge Reform in Islamic Renewal
  7. The Contribution of Islamic Research to Knowledge Creation
  8. Challenges and Opportunities in Muslim Countries’ Education and Research Systems
  9. The Quran as a Guide for Humanity
  10. Transformative Impact of the Quran on Arabian Society
  11. The Quran’s Role as a Source of Guidance and Distinction between Light and Darkness
  12. The Quran on Creation and the Importance of Scientific Knowledge

General Perspective

Wisdom and Knowledge: Perspectives from Russell and Locke

Bertrand Russell says, “Unless man increases in wisdom (and faith) as much as in knowledge, the increase of knowledge will be an increase of sorrow.” (Impact of Science on Society; 1952, p. 121)

Again, Locke is one of the few Western philosophers who admit the issue of revelation as a source of knowledge. But he also emphasized that reasoning is more certain than reflectional knowledge.

Islamic Perspectives on Knowledge and Civilization Building

There is no contradiction among sources of knowledge: wahy, ‘Aql, and kaun. The Qur’an provides guiding principles for knowledge and building civilization.

Human reasoning and wahy (revelation) are the basis through which real and absolute knowledge can be attained. Islamic

Methodology can be adopted, modified, and elaborated on all that is good, useful, and relevant to the Islamic worldview from the methodology of Western research.

Addressing the Knowledge Crisis through Epistemological Reform

The knowledge crisis can be resolved by reforming education systems and, even more importantly, reforming the epistemological methodology of research in the various disciplines of knowledge so that it conforms to the paradigms of tauhid and objectivity, istiqamat (Kasule).

Resolving the Thought Crisis with Islamic Law and Societal Solutions

The thought crisis will be resolved by research that identifies and defines problems of society and then proposes solutions based on the framework of the higher purposes of the Law, maqasid al shari’at (the objectives of the Islamic Law).

This shari’at was revealed starting from the lowest need of al-daruriyyat (the essential needs), al-hajjiyyat (the complementary needs), and al-tahsaniyyat (the embellishment needs). Al-daruriyyat is to fulfill the following purposes:

  1. Religion, hifdh al-din,
  2. Life, hifdh al-nafs,
  3. Lineage or progeny, hifdh al-nasl,
  4. Intellect, hifdh al-aql,
  5. Resources, hifdh al-maal.

The Impact of Limited Islamic Research on Intellectual Progress

The absence of Islamic Research causes thought failure in the Muslim ummah, which causes intellectual stagnation. It is also the cause of the suppression of the freedom of thought, i.e., closure of ijtihad, blind following of taqlid.

The Role of Educational and Knowledge Reform in Islamic Renewal

Educational and knowledge reform are prerequisites for tajdid because tajdid – idea + action. The vision of the knowledge strategy is an upright, balanced person who understands the creator and knows his place, his roles, his rights, and his responsibilities in the cosmic order.

The mission of the knowledge strategy is the conceptual transformation of the education system from kindergarten to postgraduate studies to reflect tauhid, positive moral values, objectivity, universality, and serving the larger causes of humanity.

The Contribution of Islamic Research to Knowledge Creation

The uniqueness of Islamic research was the contributor that helped Muslim scholars in the pursuit of creating knowledge. This is certainly the faith and revelation that brought about a revolution in understanding world affairs.

According to Bakr (1991), “Famous Muslim scientists like al-Razi, Ibn Sina, al-Biruni, Ibn Haytham, al-Zahrawi, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, and Kamal al-Din al-Farsi, just to mention a few, were all noted for their observational powers and experimental tendencies as displayed in their wide-ranging studies of natural sciences, including medicine.”

Challenges and Opportunities in Muslim Countries’ Education and Research Systems

In respect to education in Muslim countries, research work carried out is generally sub-standard and the research environment suffers from numerous problems and major difficulties. This needs extreme interest and profound care.

The intellectual edifice of the Muslim ummah suffers from numerous weaknesses and shortcomings; pioneering efforts for renewal in research are justified.

This manifests itself in the dearth of distinguished academic accomplishment that fulfills the need of Islamic thought to deal with contemporary issues, confidently confront problems, and reassess former judgments and perceptions.

This initiative in research should also contribute to the overall welfare of humanity and act as a guide towards a noble civilization. (Fathi Malhawi)

Islamic Perspective

To understand the basic principles behind all the creations of the universe, the Qur’an provides ideological motivation for the study of natural phenomena and the pursuit of empirical study. About 750 verses or one-eighth of the Qur’an is devoted to encouraging humans to observe, think, and use their intelligence in finding out the facts and laws of nature.

The Quran as a Guide for Humanity

The Qur’an is for mankind, a ‘compass’ in the turbulent voyage of life, as it has explained itself in the following verses: “Indeed, there has come to you light and a clear book from Allah; with it, Allah guides him who will follow His pleasure into the ways of safety and brings them out of utter darkness into light by His will and guides them to the right path.”

Transformative Impact of the Quran on Arabian Society

Historically, it is the Qur’an that transformed the simple shepherds and wandering Bedouins of Arabia into the founders of empires, the builders of cities, and the collectors of libraries.

If a system of religious teachings is evaluated by the changes that it introduces into the way of life, the customs, and beliefs of its followers, then the Quran as a code of life is second to none.

The Quran’s Role as a Source of Guidance and Distinction between Light and Darkness

The Qur’an introduces itself as the guidance for the people (the Qur’an, 2:185); Allah has laid down the solution to every human problem in the Qur’an very clearly.

Whenever the Qur’an mentions darkness, it always uses it in the plural form although it always uses light in its singular form. This means that the word ‘darkness’ includes all sorts of darkness.

All of the evil ways that lead towards darkness. And that ‘light’ signifies one single right path i.e. sirat-al-mustaqeem.

“This is the book: in it is guidance for sure without doubt, to those who fear Allah” (the Qur’an, 2:2). “And this is a book which We have revealed as a blessing, so follow it and be righteous, that you may receive mercy” (the Qur’an, 6:155).

The Quran on Creation and the Importance of Scientific Knowledge

The Holy Quran says that He has created everything between the sky and the earth for mankind (2:29; 15:19-20; 31:20) and there are signs for believers in it (the Qur’an, 2:164; the Qur’an, 3:190-191).

All scientific knowledge has come from the study of natural phenomena and leads to conquering the forces of nature.

Those nations, who have done this successfully, have been vouchsafed with abundance. Almighty Lord has promised that: “that is to say, those who have been granted the knowledge of science and technology, are indeed granted abundant good” (the Qur’an, 2:269).

Islamic Research Methodology

According to Dr. Omar Hasan Kasule, a Tauhidi universal, objective, and unbiased methodology must replace the Euro-centric and philosophically biased context, but not the practical experimental methods.

The precepts of Tauhid science are:

  • Unity of knowledge and comprehensiveness,
  • Causality as the basis for human action,
  • Limitation of human knowledge,
  • Constant and fixed natural laws,
  • Harmony between the seen and the unseen,
  • Three sources of knowledge (Wahy, Aql, & empirical observation),
  • Khilafat,
  • Moral accountability,
  • Creation and existence have a purpose,
  • Truth is both absolute and relative,
  • Human free will is the basis of accountability, and
  • Tawakkul.

The Qur’an provides general principles that establish objectivity and protect against biased research methodology.

It creates a worldview that encourages research to extend the frontiers of knowledge and its use for the benefit of the whole universe. Scientists should be encouraged to work within these Qur’anic parameters to expand the frontiers of knowledge through both basic and applied research.

Dr. Malkawi suggests a two-step analytical approach:

  1. First, a critical intellectual step towards the issues, methodologies, tools, and norms of research, through the perspective of the prevailing research methodologies.
  2. Second, a step considering the Islamic perspective vis-à-vis those methodologies.

To effectively compete, the Muslim researcher must attain the standards of other researchers by dedicating full time to research and becoming a qualitative specialist, rooted in a broad, imposing culture.

Sources of Islamic Research Methodology

The Islamic worldview accepts flexibility and adaptability while retaining its idealistic vision and principles. The uniqueness of Islamic Research derives from the Islamic worldview. Islamic methodology encompasses knowledge generation, formation, classifications of knowledge, and its application.

It is directly linked with Islamic epistemology, which is based on the Tawhid unity or oneness of Allah. In this epistemology, research activity is governed by an Islamic value system.

The primary sources of Islamic Research methodology are the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

The secondary sources are Ijma and Qiyas. Another source is nature. As the Qur’an is the written signs of Almighty (Ayat Tadwiniyyah) and rational science is the study of nature or the universe as the phenomenal signs of Allah (SWT) (Ayat Takwiniyyah).

  1. The Qur’an
  2. The Sunnah/ Hadith
  3. Ijma (Consensus of Opinion)
  4. Qiyas (Analogical Deduction)

The Qur’an

The Qur’an is the book which Allah revealed in His speech to His Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) in Arabic, and this has been transmitted to us by continuous testimony or Tawatur.

The Sunnah/ Hadith

The literal meaning of Sunnah in Arabic is an established course of conduct.

According to Ulama of Hadith, Sunnah refers to all that is narrated from the Prophet (SAAS), his acts, his sayings, and whatever he tacitly approved. In technical usage, Sunnah and Hadith have become synonymous, meaning the conduct of the Prophet (SAAS). The Qur’an testifies that the Sunnah is divinely inspired. Allah says: “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only a Revelation revealed” (An-Najm: 3-4).

Ijma (Consensus of Opinion)

Ijma means to agree upon something. It is considered the third proof of Shariah after the Qur’an and the Sunnah. As a proof of Shariah, it is essentially a rational proof. An Ijtihad or interpretation of one or a few scholars, when it becomes universal, becomes Ijma. According to the classical definition, the universal consensus of the scholars of the Muslim community as a whole can be regarded as conclusive Ijma. It also ensures correct interpretation, as broad consensus is unlikely to occur on an incorrect matter.

Qiyas (Analogical Deduction)

Literally, Qiyas means measuring the length, weight, or quality of something.

It also means comparison to establish equality or similarity between two things. In the language of Usul, Qiyas is the extension of a Shariah ruling from an original case (Asl) to a new case (Far’) because the new case has the same effective cause (Illah) as the original case.

Qiyas is a methodology developed by jurists through which rulings in new areas are kept close to the Qur’an and Sunnah because new rulings are based on the Illah (causes) discovered in the legislation of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Rulings on new areas could diverge significantly if Qiyas were not applied. This is a major justification for the validity of Qiyas.

Qiyas does not give rise to certainty. It is, therefore, a speculative one. The essential requirements of Qiyas are Asl (the original case, on which a ruling has been given), Hukm (ruling on the original), Illah (cause of the ruling in the original case), and Far’ (new case on which a ruling is to be given).

Asl (the subject matter of the original ruling) should be based on the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Scopes of Islamic Research Methodology:

There are great opportunities for the Muslim ummah to bring reform in epistemology through Islamic Research methodology, such as:

  1. Objectives of Seeking Knowledge Represented as Threefold in Islamic Epistemology: (Malkawi)
    • By Tawhid-ox unity, in an individual’s connection with the Creator,
    • By Umran – or building of civilization to fulfill the trust of the vicegerent on earth, and
    • By Tazkiyah – purification of an individual’s attitudes, morals, and noble sentiments.
  2. The clarification of basic epistemological issues and relations: wahy and Aql, ghaib and shahada, ‘Um and iman.
  3. This is followed by an Islamic critique of basic paradigms, basic assumptions, and basic concepts of various disciplines using criteria of Islamic methodology and Islamic epistemology.
  4. Islamic reviews of existing textbooks and teaching materials are then undertaken to identify deviations from the tauhidi episteme and the Islamic methodology.
  5. The initial output of the Islamization process will be Islamic introductions to disciplines, muqaddimat al ‘uluum, establishing basic Islamic principles and paradigms that determine and regulate the methodology, content, and teaching of disciplines. As an example, Ibn Khaldun’s Introduction to History, muqaddimat, presented generalizing and methodological concepts on historical events.
  6. Finding a solution to unresolved issues. Some issues started in the past and are not yet resolved up to today. Like the role of human free will, qadriyyat, versus that of pre-determination, al-jabriyah, in human actions is not still fully understood.
  7. The survey method can help the ummah to discover the opinions of Muslim intellectuals and men of knowledge on certain issues. It is a good device to find Ijma and extend the application of Islamic law to modern complex situations. (Hussain, 2009: 69).
  8. The Qur’an encourages Muslims not to limit the scope of their knowledge to their own locality. Rather, they are encouraged to travel and gain knowledge (the Qur’an, 29:20).
  9. Baffa (2000) submitted that exhortation would make humankind undertake scientific investigation and research to understand:
    • The origin and basis of creations in space, in time, and in the cosmos generally,
    • The origin and basis for the social and biological makeup of man;
    • The wonderful creation of animals and their use for man and the environment;
    • The science of the creation of mountains and how they are fixed in time;
    • The nature of producing food, together with all the accompanying scientific accomplishments of farming and food production, etc.
Methods of Islamic Research

16 Methods of Islamic Research

There is actually no separate method to term as the Islamic method (manhaj/minhaj). Since Islamic methodology encompasses all, Al Qur’an devises many methodological approaches. Scientific methods or some conventional methods are not unfamiliar to Islam.

Examples of historical research, investigation methods, empirical methods, and many others are discussed in the Qur’an and hadiths for several issues. However, there are some salient features of Islamic research methodology which make it unique.

These are discussed below:

  1. Quranic Injunction
  2. Purpose of Research
  3. Sequential Task
  4. Uniformity with al-Qur’an
  5. Arranging (Ratil)
  6. Integration
  7. Relate
  8. Be Aware of Pitfalls
  9. Observation
  10. Comparison
  11. Important Rules
  12. Process of Consultation
  13. Combined Method
  14. Traveling
  15. Usui Al-Fiqh
  16. Ethical Perspective

Quranic Injunction

One of the prime salient features of the Islamic research method is the use of tools. Man has been ordered to make judicious use of his senses to acquire knowledge of the truth. Such as the heart (qalb), the intellect or reason (aql), and the senses (al-hiss) as essential organs and tools for acquiring knowledge.

Though these organs have limitations and deficiencies, they are useful instruments for observation, imagination, perception, and experimentation.

Other intellectual methods of acquiring knowledge using a significant tool, the soul, are tafakkur (thinking, reflection), tadabbur (contemplation, pondering), tafaqquh (to fully understand, to grasp, to comprehend and apprehend), and ta’aqqul (discernment, to use one’s mind in the right way).

Purpose of Research

Another unique feature of the Islamic research method is the purpose or objectives (niyaf) of research. It should not be only for material need but also for gaining the blessings of the Almighty.

Research is done for the discovery of new knowledge which is to help human beings, and it is also for gaining celestial bliss for the hereafter. The research work will be considered as amal jariah. This way, an Islamic researcher sees himself as someone yielding to the instruction of Allah to undertake research.

He/she does that under strict Islamic compliance and therefore expects his reward from Allah. All the previous methodologies were to start with prayers for guidance to truth and end with acknowledgment of human limitations, adding emphasis on God – The Omniscient having perfect knowledge.

The Quran explicitly says, “You are created as a special Ummah to do the welfare of mankind. You will invite the people for good deeds and prohibit them from doing wrong.”

Everybody will be adjudicated on the Day of Judgment. So designing any research proposal, one should think whether any welfare is associated with that research. This welfare may be direct or indirect, may be immediate or long term impact, either for Muslims or people of other religions, and may be for believers or non-believers.

Sequential Task

The methodology implicitly found in the meaning of the word ‘Qur’an’ i.e., read, learn, and act.

  • To read: It is required to read to find the source and principle reference in the Qur’an.
  • To learn: It is to discover the attributes and basic principles which define the methodology and its components.
  • To act: It is to articulate the Islamic methodology and spread its understanding. In addition to this, the Qur’an insists on using processes of rationality, deep observation, and empirical analysis for any topic or phenomenon under study.

Uniformity with al-Qur’an

Islamic research ensures uniformity between the Book of Allah’s creation and the Book of Allah’s revelation. The Book of Allah’s final revelation is the Qur’an and the book of creation is the natural universe.

A thorough research into these two books makes comprehensive knowledge. There should be no contradiction between the discoveries from these two. If any contradiction is found, then it should be studied again. Thus, the Islamic method of research recognizes revelation as the most reliable source of knowledge.

Arranging (Ratil)

“Ratil” is an Arabic word that means “to arrange things of similarity together.” Allah (SWT) ordered us to arrange the Qur’anic verses in the order of subject/topic to seek its meaning. “Meditate during the night, except rarely. Half of it, or a little less. Or a little more.

And arrange (Ratil) the Qur’an in its arrangement tarteelf (Qur’an 73:2-4). An example to explain the word “ratil”: a series of tanks lined together is called “Ratil Dababat” (an arrangement of tanks). We do not say “Ratil” in Arabic if the things together are not similar (i.e., if the series included cars, planes, and tanks, the word “Ratil” cannot be used).

Therefore, if you wanted to know what Allah (SWT) has said about the subject of “divorce,” you would begin by taking all the verses that speak about this subject, scattered throughout the Book, and “arrange them together” (Tarteel).

Many of the questions that may arise out of a certain passage of the Qur’an have their explanation in other parts of the very same book, and often there is no need to turn to any sources other than the Qur’an (Ruqaia).


“Who have made the Quran into parts (i.e., believed in a part and disbelieved in the other). So, by your Lord (O Muhammad), We shall certainly call all of them to account.

For all that they used to do” (Qur’an 15:91-93). The Qur’an should be explained through the Qur’an. Most of our misunderstandings come from a selective reading or “Edien” (partial). Other sources to explain the verses are sound reports about the Prophetic explanation of the revelation.

Sound reports must be distinguished from unsound ones, as many views have been falsely attributed to some sahaba and tabiun. Also, materials from the ahl-al-kitab, especially the Jewish traditions, must be sorted out and evaluated.


Another method is to relate things together. Almighty Allah has given lessons to learn in the Qur’an through stories. It is better to term it as learning lessons through history or fact. In most cases, to give a live account of the usage of a law or how to act in a specific situation. It is also a guide for a researcher to gain knowledge.

As it is mentioned in the Qur’an: “We relate to you, [O Muhammad], the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Quran although you were, before it, among the unaware” (the Qur’an, 12:3).

Al-Qardawi (1991) mentioned how Imam al-Ghazali narrated a story about a man who came upon Khalifah al-Ma’mun and started to “advise” him about vice and virtue in a rough and crude manner without considering his status as the caliph.

If a contradiction is found, it should be studied again. Thus, the Islamic method of research recognizes revelation as the most reliable source of knowledge.

Al-Qardawi (1991) mentioned how Imam al-Ghazali narrated a story about a man who came upon Khalifah al-Ma’mun and started to “advise” him about vice and virtue in a rough and crude manner without considering his status as the caliph.

Al Ma’mun said to the man, “Speak more kindly. Remember that Allah has sent someone better than you to a ruler worse than me, and commanded the former to speak mildly; he has sent Musa (RAA) and Harun (RAA), who were better than you, to Pharaoh, who was worse than me.”

Even a sub-discipline of Sciences of Hadith (‘Ulum al-Hadith) called ‘Um al-Jarh wa Ta’dil used case studies not to make general conclusions but to decide on the reliability (tawthiq) or unreliability (tad’ij) of a particular individual rawi/narrator of hadith.

Be Aware of Pitfalls

Deriving meaning from the Qur’an sometimes becomes difficult since there are many factors that can alter the true meaning of the text.

For example, not having all the verses on the subject (the missing of one verse can give a different conclusion to the reader). Or using a mistranslated or misused word in the verses. Or else, the reader does not have sufficient awareness of the subject being studied.

It is also during this ‘understanding’ phase that Satan will exert the maximum effort to interfere with the derived meaning: “So when you understand (qara’at) the Qur’an, you shall seek refuge with Allah from Satan the outcast. He has no authority over those who have faith, and who put their trust in their Lord. His authority is over those who follow him and set him up as a partner” (the Qur’an, 16:98-100),

This is where people need to have ‘maximum faith’ in Allah Alone and not be scared or confused if what they are reading or understanding does not conform to what others have said or taught for years or centuries.

This is why we need to seek Allah’s help in helping us understand the correct meaning as without Him, we would be truly lost.

Thus, a researcher also has to seek help from Allah to find out the true knowledge. So, the beginning of a study should be with Bismillah (In the name of Allah). It is the convenient way of invoking the blessings of Allah (SWT) and also of revealing the Islamic Values.

Allah (SWT) thus taught us, “High and exalted be Allah, the True King! Do not hasten to recite the Quran before its revelation is completely conveyed to you, and then say: “O Rabb! Increase my knowledge” (the Qur’an, 20:114).

We are here on this planet to serve Allah Alone and walk in His path…not to serve our own agendas and our own egos: “You Alone we serve, You Alone we seek” (the Qur’an, 1:5) And the completion of all tasks in a precise way, a researcher acknowledges his gratitude to Almighty.


Allah has ordered human beings to utilize the three essential faculties: As-Samee’ (hearing), Al-Baseer (sight); which also instigates observation to receive divine guidance (the Qur’an, 2:7; the Qur’an, 2:20; the Qur’an, 6:46; the Qur’an, 16:78; the Qur’an,

16:107; the Qur’an, 17:36; the Qur’an, 23:78; the Qur’an, 32:9; the Qur’an, 46:26; the Qur’an, 67:23).

Two of the Ayat are quoted here below:

“And He has endowed you with hearing and sight, and minds, so that you might have cause to be grateful” (Qur’an 16:78).

“Verily, the hearing, the sight, the mind—all of them will be called to account for” (the Qur’an, 17:36).

Here al-sam’ (hearing) is to gain knowledge from others, al-basar (sight) is for observation, and al-fuad (thinking) is for drawing conclusions.

In the Qur’an, the word “observe” is recognized as basara (and its derivations), ra’a (and its derivations), nazara (and its derivations), and shahida (and its derivations) and is mentioned many times.


This is the method that is taught in the Qur’an. In many verses in the Qur’an, Allah guides people to make comparisons to understand human behavior.

Like, “Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding” (the Qur’an, 39:9).

Important Rules

Researchers should not begin the research work with predetermined judgments and ready-made interpretations.

All findings are also probable as Allah the A’leemun has certain, complete, and perfect knowledge. “..And Allah Knows, while you know not” (the Qur’an, 2:216). All opinions, interpretations, and human efforts should be measured and judged by divine absolute criteria of al-Qur’an.

It is the firm rope of Allah. “This is the book which We have revealed as blessings. So follow it and be righteous, that you may receive mercy” (the Qur’an, 6:155).

Process of Consultation

The Quran prescribes the process of Shura, which means decision-making through consultation. Leaders have been asked to conduct their affairs by mutual consultations with the followers (Sura Shura:38 and Sura Al-Imran:159).

So this methodology is found to be premised on a globally interactive knowledge-centered worldview. It is true that much diversity will exist within the methodology toward agreement, which again depends on convergences as Ijma and Ijtehad.

Combined Method

It is the combination of several methods. Muslim scientists and philosophers have used multi-scientific methods. They have recognized and employed at least 4 kinds of scientific methods, depending on the kinds of objects they inquired. (Kartanegara) These are:

  • Observation or experimental method (/q/rz7>), a method used for investigating physical-empirical objects (mahsusat/sensibles).
  • Demonstrative method (Burhani), a method used to investigate non-physical objects (maqulat/intelligibles)
  • Intuitive method (irfani), a method for attaining immediate knowledge without any representation or symbols.
  • Explanatory method (bayani), a method used for investigating and understanding scripture or religious texts.

For instance, the methodology of Khaje Naseeru-Din al Tousi in his ‘Tajridul-E’teqad’ (Purification of the Belief) in theology is a combination of philosophical and narrative methods. Similarly, Mulla Sadra (died 1050 AH) in al-Asfar (the Books) has combined several methods of research.


Earlier Muslim scholars traveled far and wide throughout the known human world, learned foreign languages to obtain the intellectual legacy from others, translated the unknown foreign works into the Arabic language to let the Muslim students have easy access to the sources, modified them in accordance with their philosophy, and made utmost endeavor to come up with something more and new in the fields of knowledge.

As it is invoked in the Qur’an: “Say: Travel through the earth and see how Allah originated creation; so will Allah produce the second creation (of the Afterlife): for Allah has power over all things” (the Qur’an, 29:20). Considering today’s world, it is not only the physical world Muslim ummah also have to utilize information technology to gain knowledge.

Usui Al-Fiqh

In the view of many scholars, the theory of the sources of Islamic law “usul al-fiqh” is one of the sciences developed by Muslims, independent of any previous experience of other nations.

The lexical meaning of Usui is foundation or basis Asl plural Usui or that upon which something else is built. In the legal system of Islam, Fiqh is built upon and stems from the bases Usui which constitute its source-evidence. It is the formal classical methodology of Islamic jurisprudence.

This likewise applies to the sciences of “hadith” – Prophetic traditions. Each one of them may be considered a methodology in the precise sense of the term. Some scholars consider the methodology of “usul al-fiqh” as the “Mother of Methodologies” that remains suitable for the development of an Islamic methodology for the social sciences (Malkawi).

Unlike Western positive law, usul takes the whole of human conduct as its field and is concerned with both the internal and external affairs of the World peoples.

Islamic methodology provides not only the research method for Islamic thought but also its source materials.

Thus Islamic research methodology refers to the basic textual sources and methods used in producing human attitudes in different spheres of life. In fact, Usual al fiqh is the science of deducting and extrapolating rules and injunctions from their sources in the data of revelation. These sources are the Quran, the Sunnah, ijma, and ijtihad (the use of human reason or Aql in the elaboration and interpretation of the Shariah).

Ijtihad includes the fourth major source of Muslim thought, qiyas (analogy), along with other supplementary methods such as istihsan (Quristic preference), maslahah or masalih mursalah (public interest) and urf (customs of a particular society).

Ethical Perspective

Fairness and justice are enjoined upon Muslims in all dealings, even with their enemies.

Allah (SWT) says: “O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not the hatred of any people seduce you into dealing unjustly. Deal justly; that is nearer to your duty.

Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is informed of all that you do” (the Qur’an 16:90, the Qur’an 57:25, the Qur’an 7:9, the Qur’an 4:48, the Qur’an 49:9, and the Qur’an 60:8).

Since the concept of justice is a basic principle in Islam, Islam extends Muslims’ responsibility and commitment to fairness and justice everywhere. A Muslim researcher also has to follow the Islamic Adab (manners) in every step of research.

Writing from the Qur’anic Style

Allah “….has made the Qur’an easy to remember….” (the Qur’an, 54:17). It is “Arabic, pure, and clear” (the Qur’an, 16:103). It is also mentioned that, “..It is a guide and a healing to those who believe…” (the Qur’an, 41:44).

All these Qur’anic verses imply that any writings or research report should be very clear, lucid, and simple to convey the message properly to the reader. The teachings and messages of the Qur’an are illustrated through beautiful stories.

These can be broadly divided into three kinds: 1. Stories of the Prophets (SAAS) of Allah, like Musa, Isa, Nuh (RAA), and so on; 2. about the people or events in the past, like the companions of the cave, Zul-qamayn; 3. events in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), the battle of Badr, Uhud, and so on.

All These Narratives Are Presented in Different Styles:

  • Short summary—» detailed story—» moral of the story as Surah Al-Kahf
  • Conclusion—» lesson from the story—» the story beginning to end as the story of Prophet Musa (RAA) in Suratul Qasas,
  • Presenting the story in detail as the story of Maryam in Surah Maryam

It is mentionable that each surah is preceded by the invocation Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful), and surah al-Kahf begins with the commendation, praise be to Allah for the boundless gifts of Allah (SWT).

The Prophet (SAAS) in all his communications followed the same sequence: Bismillah, Tahmid, and then the message to be conveyed. The Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAAS) should be the basis for the report-writing style in the Muslim world. (Hussain: 2009)


Academic scholars only depend on conventional methodologies, which generally exclude religion as a source of knowledge.

However research methodology should be developed by incorporating the Islamic worldview. It should be studied in a precise and detailed manner and has to be recorded in a practical and procedural form for the training researchers to practice it in the various fields of knowledge. Social Science researchers can be advanced through Islamic Research methodology.

On the other hand, Islamic scholars who are engaging in Dawah (propagating Islam) will benefit by accepting research methodology. Allah (SWT) has given us all the privilege and ability to gain knowledge of five physical senses and the power of reasoning, learning, memory, imagination, and spiritual ability.

To show our gratitude to the Almighty, we have to expand knowledge through research exploiting these boons. This chapter is the effort toward the ultimate goal of building a community of researchers conducting research work from the Islamic perspective. The process of developing an Islamic methodology requires continuous efforts, and that will evidently appear.