Friday, January 13, 2006

The Concept of Ulum Naqliah and Ulum Aqliah and its alliance to the Emerging of the Ulul-Al-Bab أولواال ألبب)) Generation
By: Nor Azura Kamarudin Sohami
Institute of Education, IIUM.

The attempt of define the concept of Ulum Naqliah and Ulum 'Aqliah in the basis of Islamic worldview is not an easy task. It need a wide-ranging understanding and deep comprehension on the tasawwur of knowledge itself in terms of it's epistemology, philosophy and foundation till the level of it's methodology and practice in order to grasp the whole idea. But with little understanding of this conception in the help of Professor Sidek Baba, it is an honored for the writer to put an effort in defining both concept then to relate it to meaning of ya'qiluun, yatafakkaruun and yatadabbaruun as the sign of rising the ulul-al-bab generation. In line with this, it is gratifying to quote a line of Professor Osman Bakar's writing in Tawhid and Science: Essay on the History and Philosophy of Islamic Science:
"In Islam, religious consciousness of tawhid is the source of the scientific spirit in all domains of knowledge. Consequently, Islamic intellectual tradition does not entertain the idea of the natural sciences alone as being scientific or as being more scientific than the other sciences." (Osman Bakar, 1991)

Thus, the key to perceive the realm of knowledge is to have the religious consciousness of tawhid; the faith in the Oneness of Allah, spiritually in nature. And conjunction to that, we have to admit that there is no such way of natural science standing alone or in this context, Ulum 'Aqliah unaccompanied with Ulum Naqliah as an authentic source of reveal knowledge. May Allah give us the light and the strength in order to value and appreciate this knowledge as foundation to explore something more worthwhile in the future.

The Concept Of Ulum Naqliah
The definition of Ulum Naqliah can be express as 'Divine knowledge' or at times as perennial knowledge. This comes across to us that the characteristic of this knowledge is constant, permanent, undeviating, can be trusted in its authority, authenticity, validity and so much reliable. Therefore, when it is understood that the knowledge is divine in nature, it must be conveyed to the human being by the course of revelation from the ultimate power of the Supreme Being. This is where the Devine knowledge was revealed to human kind all the way through the Messengers of Allah during the prophethood period across all human civilizations. Sayyid Abul 'Ala al-Maududi has mentioned in one of his masterpiece work:
"These chosen men are the Messengers of God-His Prophets. God has communicated knowledge and wisdom to them by means of Wahy (revelation), and the book containing the Divine Communications is called the Book of God, or the Word of God." (Sayyid Abul 'Ala al-Maududi, 1977)

And principally the faith in the Books of God is the third article of Faith which the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. has commanded us to believe which Allah has sent down these Books to mankind through His prophets before Muhammad s.a.w in the same way as he sent down al-Quran to Muhammad s.a.w. Among the prophets that has been revealed with the 'Book of God' were the Prophet Dawud (David) with the Book of Zabur (Psalms of David), the Prophet Musa (Moses) with the Book of Taurat (Torah), Prophet Isa (Jesus) with the Book of Injeel (the Gospel of Jesus) and finally to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w with the Book of al-Quran al-Karim, the Great Word of God. This is also lead to the manifestation of believe in the forth article of Faith that is to believe in the God's Messenger that have been raised among the chosen people as Allah explain to us in the Quran in surah al-Maaidah, verse 20:
"And (remember) Musa (Moses) said to his people: "O my people! Remember the favour of Allah when He made Prophets among you, made you kings and gave you what He had not given to any other among the 'Alamiin (mankind and jiin, in the past)."

And according to Maududi, not one of the earlier Book of God (except for al-Quran) exists today is in its original text and even the followers of these books confess that they do not possess the original books. Furthermore, al-Quran informs us that people have changed and interpolated these Books and God's words have been mixed up with text of their own making. And judging to this decisive factor, we believe the Prophet Muhammad saw teachings are the alive one, still stand uncorrupted and to the extend that the biography of the Prophet Muhammad saw is so well preserved as no other human being does. Hence we strongly believe that the Prophet Muhammad saw was sent to humankind as qudwah hasanah (قدوةحثنة) or role model or in other words his own life and his teachings is true, alive and complete where in every circumstances all his words and expressions are accepted, all his instruction and deeds are followed and all his ordered and command are obeyed.

And for that reason al-Quran is the Book of God to be assign through the Prophet Muhammad saw as reference and resource; as it exists in the original text, without the slightest alteration of letter, jot or even the title. It is magnificent in its 'strength' while Quran is a Wahy/source of revelation not only textual but also contextual in nature. This appears to us the sense that although it is revealed during the Prophet's lifetime, but it relates to us directly and indirectly as the life of mankind changed through time and places. This relate to us that Al-Quran is Huda-llilmuttaqiin(هدى للمتقين) as guidance for man to achieve taqwa (تقوا) and Huda-llinnaas (هدى للنس) as guidance to all humankind. There are so many points in the Quran that Allah grants us His guidance in so many ways including through His signs and hikmah (حكمة) or wisdom. The term hikmah (حكمة) can be defined in many perspectives and the Quran itself is a Book of Hikmah as stated in Surah al-Zukhruf verse 4.
"And verily, it (this Quran) is in the Mother of the Book (i.e. al-Lauh al-Mahfuz) with Us, indeed exalted, full of wisdom."

The value of Hikmah (حكمة)
Hikmah (حكمة) can be defined as deeper understanding, deeper intelligence and conceptual ability of making sound judgment and decision. In line with that, Siddiq Fadzil ascertain the underlie meaning of wisdom:
"Hikmah (حكمة) can be describe as (القصدوالعتدل) which means wisdom with the signification of the ability to make the most precise affirmation, stand and judgment, not to loose and not to the extreme of exceeding the limit, the capability to understand the cause and effect, the path and means that not lead to confusion in valuing something with the luminous mind that guide trough the truth (ال حق) and justice (ال عدل)."
(Siddiq Fadzil, 2003)
Harun Yahya also describe concisely;
“In brief, wisdom is an ability that provides us with greater comprehension than intelligence, deeper understanding, and ability to find the truth, and produce a solution for every problem. Furthermore, wisdom is a trait that gives us control of all aspects of our lives and brings us success.”

But then, Allah has disclose to us that hikmah (حكمة) is not given to any person without prior distinction. Allah explains to us clearly in Surah al-Baqarah, verse 269:
"He grants Hikmah to whom He pleases, and He, to whom Hikmah is granted, is indeed granted abundant good. But none remember (will receive admonition) except man of understanding."

In order to be granted with abundant goodness from Allah as the result of hikmah (حكمة), the requirement of acquiring it is one have got to be among who really understand and comprehend deeply that is ulul-al bab, (أولواالألبب). This is the affiliation that relates the source of Ulum Naqliah to the generation of ulul-al bab (أولواالألبب) that reflects the connection of ya'qiluun (يعقلون), yatafakkaruun (يتفكرون) and yatadabbaruun (يتدبرون). The whole idea will translate directly human relationship with the Creator (Allah) and also with the environment in his life.

The Integration Concept Of Ulum Naqliah and Ulum Aqliah: Its Strength
And Limitation
Generally, Ulum Aqliah is any form of acquired knowledge that act as tool and means for human to reach his God. Man has given the brain by Allah which the function operates as mind. However, when the mind works such as how to process the information so that it come across your mind, how do you connect your feelings and your thinking involves so much energy, sometimes can occur in conscious or unconscious state of mind but overall the thinking capacity and ability in order to grasp meaning is very limited and imperfect in nature. In Islamic point of view, it is al-'aql (عقل) that is given by Allah with the other human's spiritual substance including al-qalb, al-nafs and al-ruh which interrelated to each other and brings significant function to every asperts of human life.

The ethical and principal values that human gain solely from the thinking ability are imperfect and incomplete without the guidance (hudan) and wisdom (hikmah) that can only be embrace with the compliance of man in referring to the source of Ulum Naqliah as the fundamental form of references. This is because, due to the modern and recent tradition, the description on how human mind work or the information-processing ability or refer to the terms 'cognition' is entirely defined in scientific terms (where this scientific definition base on the West); which means rational, stand on facts, logic, theory and hypothesis, observable, tangible and could be analyze and evaluate by the means of your senses. For instance, according to the Reader's Digest recent encyclopedia due to the power of reasoning is explained purely in the quotation below:
"One of our greatest mental gifts is our reasoning ability, which enables us to make decisions and judgment based on the evidence before us."
(Making the Most of Your Brain, 2003)

This statement remind us on the definition of hikmah (حكمة) in the earlier part of the discussion where it shows to us that base on the so called 'scientific' view on reasoning, it mainly focus on the human's previous evidence as if it is all things happen in the past is all true and valid, applicable in every situation and condition. For instance, if someone use this kind of approach in the state of stress and depression, one will find solution by entertains themselves in the club; taking alcohol drinks drugs and ecstasy in order to find the healing and cure action. This is because they have experienced before the effects of taking those alternatives where the pleasure amused them for a short period of time although deep in their heart, they recognize that it is not efficient at all in long term.

The Emerging Of Generation Ulul-Al-Bab

Ya’qiluun (يعقلون)

The term “’Aql” has not been use in the Qur’an as a noun, but as a verb it has been used forty nine times in different terms. According to Al-Aqaad, (Jamal Badi, 2003), the one using ‘aql in Islamic view is the one that seeks truth and is always in search of it. And ta’aqqul is to use one’s mind in the right way. Ta'akul is a way of performing our act of syukur to what Allah's has given to us as 'aql is the most unique faculty that endowed to the best mould of Allah's creation. Allah mentions in the Quran, surah al-Hajj:
“Have they not traveled through the land, and have they hearts wherewith (ya’qiluun) to understand (to gain wisdom) and ears wherewith to hear?” (Al-Hajj, 32:46)

Yatafakkarun (يتفكرون)

Tafakkur comes with the meaning of think deeply, to reflect or to contemplate. Contemplation or to think deeply can be in any 'signs of Allah' that can be in many form and structure, for instance all His creation including our self as a unique one with all the spiritual faculty involved, the world, the planet, the galaxies and the universe and also the Quran itself. We can think and reflect through the facts and figures, hukum has been command to us and to the qisah written in most surah which we can take ibrah from it. This mentioned to us by the phrase 'scripture and wisdom' in the verse.
“Allah did confer a great favor on the Believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the signs of Allah. Sanctifying them and instructing them in scripture and wisdom, while before they had been in the manifest error.”
(Ali-Imran, 3:164)

And according to Prof. Malik Badri in his outstanding masterpiece this decade, "the contemplation of God's creation is one of the greatest forms of worship in Islam." (Badri, 2000). His insight and also the inspiration of giving meaning to contemplation as a part of critical thinking in Islam corroborate the fine verse in the Quran which connote two main points that is reflection is an active action of remembering Allah and essentially, human have not been created for purposeless intention:
"Those who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect (يتفكرون) on the creation of the heavens and the earth: "O Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory is to you! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Ali Imran, 3:191)
Two main points that is reflection is an active action of remembering Allah in meaning that it can done in any situation and circumstances. And the essential part is human ought to be alert and aware that we have not been created for purposeless intention but to spread the peace and merciful to the world and to all humankind.

Yatadabbarun (يتدبرون)

Tadabbur (تدبر) connote to some deeper definition such as to ponder over. One has to deeply and fully understand and comprehend the meanings behind the words he/she recites, the signs that he/she grasp to build the structure of meanings and unveil its implications, analyzing, determining the main ideas and looking for details and being comprehensive in approaching those verses.
“This is a book (the Qur’an) which We have sent it to you, full of blessing that may ponder over (yatadabbur) its verses, and that men of understanding (ulul-albab) may engage in remembrance (yatadhakkur).”
(Shaad: 29)
This verse in surah Shaad comprise the whole concept of "fikr and zikr" (ال فكر والزكر) which leads to the rise of the generation of ulul-al bab ((أولواالألبب. This reveal to us that the concept of zikr where you relate everything in this world with he remembrance of Allah and the pre-condition of it is he ability and the capability to use your 'aql critically and creatively in the context of pondering over, reflecting and comprehending to His 'ayah'. And according to Sidek Baba in his great work to comprehend the meaning of reflective thinking in the horizontal and vertical approaches describe the generation of ulul-al bab ((أولواالألبب as:
"People of understanding are those who ponder and think reflectively so that human beings can relate to the proof of creation in giving life and benefits to man" (Sidek Baba, 2005).

This indicate that the people of understanding not only to have those capacity and capability but to translate and internalize it in the real world, so that they can become the savior, become the problem-solver to the ummah in order to bring goodness and ultimately to develop the human potency as a form of their task vicegerent of Allah.

Ulum Naqliah and Ulum Aqliah are the two form of basic knowledge that significant and relevant to human. Both are inter-related, Ulum Naqliah became the foundation to Ulum Aqliah; divinity as a source to thinking process where human starts with the process of thinking to inquire things, to make understanding which gives meanings to him. In gaining this aims, hikmah, wisdom and hudan, guidance needed to bridge between Ulum Naqliah and Ulum Aqliah as wisdom became the extremely powerful tools to develop thinking capabilities in the Muslim tradition in the past human civilizations. In the world of globalization today, the Muslim ummah is in its crucial era to develop the generation of ulul-al bab ((أولواالألبب in the condition where the group of people who use their mind in the truthful way, ya'qiluun (يعقلون), who use their mind to thinks creatively and reflects, yatafakkaruun (يتفكرون) and also who use their mind to inquire, to investigate and to ponder over deeply, yatadabbaruun (يتدبرون) to be the leaders in every parts of managing the system in the world as a form of fardhu kifayah as a compliment to the task of managing self (fardhu a'in) in order to gain Allah's Blessings.

“What befalls a society at critical turning points of its history is not the paucity of its material objects, but the poverty of idea”
-Malik bin Nabi-