Methodology and Usul in Islamic Thought

Contemplation (tefekkür) is one of the most important founding concepts of the tradition of Islamic science. Because contemplation on the verses of the Quran brought out religious sciences such as exegesis, fiqh, and kalam and it gave birth to an unprecedented scientific acquis. The effort of contemplation on the universe with the guidance of the Qur’an verses also led to the emergence of natural sciences and paved the way for the formation of very rich literature in this field. The contemplation carried out in the subjective world has created a tradition of knowledge that adds richness to our world of hearts, besides various sciences such as psychology and morality.

The conceptual framework related to thought in the Qur'an consists the concepts of taakkul, tefekkür, tedebbür, tezekkür, teemmül, nazar, basar, and itibarTaakkul means always keeping the angels of reasoning in a moving direction. There is not any accurate time for tefekkür, which is a consequence of taakkul. It means thinking over every topic at any moment. Tezekkür, originated from the words of “zikrâ” and “zâkir”, means to think about the past. Tedebbür, originated from the words of “de-be-ra” and “tedbîr”, means to think about the future and the consequences and conclusions we have experienced. Teemmül, originated from the word of “emel”, means to think about a major wish, to think about the distant future. Nazar means to think about what we see. It is to look at things and the universe wisely. Basar means to combine the mind and heart. It is to look at the things and the universe with heart. And itibar is an act of tefekkür that allows us to reach meaning and truth with words and thoughts, and with inscription and lessons. لْاَبْصَارِ ا اُو۬لِي يَٓا فَاعْتَبِرُوا  (Take warning, then, O ye with eyes (to see)! The Banishment, 2) This verse was used as the evidence for ijtihad in the methodology books. Consequently, mujtahid (who makes ijtihad) becomes the scholar who combines all these deeds of thought and makes us understand religion correctly.

In the light of this conceptual framework, the main vessels, principles, and history of Islamic thought need to be read, discussed, compared and interpreted for a new emergence, resurrection, construction, and revival. The existence and resurrection of a new civilization are possible primarily by revealing the methods and methodology of which resources we will rely on in this field and how we will relate to these resources. In this regard, we must first determine the basic building blocks of the history of Islamic thought. When determining these, we should make an integrative reading, not a piece by piece reading. Because the history of Islamic thought is interconnected as a whole.

The formation of a vision in the Islamic civilization is only possible if we read effectively and understand correctly our accumulation of knowledge. Without this, it is not possible to create a new mindset and practice of civilization. We regret to express that the main historical sources of Islamic thought cannot be read today. Because, there is a problem of methodology for reading and understanding. The method of how to read these texts still remains a problem in the reader's mind. Some people want to read these texts as if they are reading ordinary texts, and then they often give up because they find them meaningless and unnecessary. And sometimes, because the world of concepts and words cannot be diffused, the effort to enrich them by interpreting and carrying their soul to the current times cannot be realized.

Of course, while reading the sources, the handicap of repeating the past, imitating or even blessing should not be ignored. The fine line between imitating and following should not be missed. We should not follow the imitation of the past over the sources, but the flow of the sources and the vessels of the ideas. A resource reading that is disconnected from current day, not based on today, does not add value to today, does not face today, does not facilitate our understanding of today, has no meaning and value. Therefore, when we mention turning to the sources of Islamic thought, it should not be understood to break loose from today. On the contrary, an approach that takes into consideration the equation of yesterday, today and the future should be taken. Instead of alienating to the present time, we should choose to understand the past that creates the present.


The systematic history of Islamic thought written out by the orientalists and many Muslim thinkers who grew up under the influence of these studies have highlighted the differences rather than identifying the common grounds of different Islamic schools. Hence, the internal integrity, consistency and continuity of the accumulation in the Islamic thought have been ignored, and the intra-paradigm debates among the members of different schools are presented as sub-categories.

As a result of the universalization of the categorical classifications occurring within the Western philosophical and theological tradition, an upper categorical distinction, which is accepted valid for all religions, has become an indisputable reality. When the categorical distinction of theology, philosophy and mysticism was applied to the history of Islamic thought, the existence of upper categories such as kalam, philosophy, and tasawwuf (or description, proof, and knowledge) became the starting point of all studies. Because of this starting point, the differences between the schools have been exaggerated so much and it has been forgotten that these schools have initially been developed on common ground. Today, the most important dilemma for studies on the history of thought is the perception error caused by this categorical distinction. These categorical distinctions, which become more and more rigid, have also led these schools to take its roots in the Islamic world with different approaches. Every school member approached the tradition of Islamic thought from his/her own point of view and instead of being able to grasp this tradition as a whole and reproducing it within the dimensions of time and space, they had the psychology of absolute rejection of the outer elements of the tradition. Since the difference between having a positive tradition and being a negative traditionist is could not be distinguished, the elimination of the elements that are assumed to be a burden in the process of reckoning with Western civilization has reached to such an extent and it has become almost impossible to talk about a history of Islamic thought.

Hereupon, taking into consideration of these important findings, the Institute of Islamic Thought in its studies and researches will consider Islamic thought as a whole in order to understand the method and maqasid in Islamic Sciences correctly. Within this framework, the priority will be given to interdisciplinary methodological studies.