Islamic sciences – Definition, importance and sections

Islamic sciences

Sharia, the Islamic legal system derived from the Quran and Hadiths, stands as one of the core topics within Islamic sciences. For over a millennium, Muslim scholars have developed and debated the theory and practice of Islamic law, creating a rich legacy of legal philosophy within Islamic intellectual history.


This essay will provide an overview of the origins, evolution, and major themes of Sharia within Islamic sciences. It will analyze the contribution of key jurists who shaped legal interpretation and methodology over the centuries. The essay will also assess the larger role of Shar’ia studies in Islamic intellectual history, and its relationship with fields like philosophy, theology, and Quranic hermeneutics. By exploring the breadth and depth of Sharia studies within Islamic sciences, one can better appreciate its legal and intellectual legacy.


What is Islamic Sciences?

Islamic Sciences, also known as Islamic Studies or the Sciences of Islam, refer to the academic disciplines that encompass the study of the Islamic religion, its teachings, and its various aspects. It involves the systematic examination and analysis of Islamic beliefs, practices, history, law, theology, philosophy, ethics, spirituality, and other related subjects.


Islamic Sciences encompass a wide range of fields and disciplines, including:


1- Quranic Sciences: The study of the Quran, including its interpretation (Tafsir), recitation (Tajweed), and the sciences related to understanding its language and context.

2- Hadith Sciences: The study of the sayings, actions, and approvals of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the science of verifying their authenticity and understanding their meanings.

3- Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence): The study of Islamic law and jurisprudence, including the principles and methodologies used to derive legal rulings (Fatwas) from the Quran and Hadith.

4- Usul al-Fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence): The study of the foundational principles and methodologies employed in the process of deriving legal rulings from the primary sources of Islamic law.

5- Aqeedah (Islamic Theology): The study of Islamic creed and beliefs, including the fundamental tenets of faith, the nature of God, the attributes of God, and other theological matters.

6- Islamic History: The study of the historical development of Islam, the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the early Muslim community, and the events and movements that shaped the Islamic civilization.

7- Sufism: The study of Islamic mysticism, focusing on spiritual purification, inner dimension of worship, and the path to attaining closeness to God.

8- Arabic Language and Literature: The study of the Arabic language, its grammar, syntax, and literature, as it is the language in which the Quran and Hadith were revealed.


What is the importance of Islamic Sciences?

Islamic Studies hold significant importance for several reasons:


  • Understanding and Practicing Islam

Islamic Sciences provide a comprehensive understanding of the Islamic faith, its principles, and its teachings. By studying Islamic Sciences, individuals gain knowledge about the beliefs, practices, and values of Islam, which enables them to deepen their faith and implement it in their daily lives.


  • Preserving and Interpreting Islamic Texts

Islamic Sciences play a crucial role in preserving and interpreting the primary Islamic texts, such as the Quran and Hadith. Scholars specializing in Islamic Sciences employ rigorous methodologies to ensure the accurate transmission, interpretation, and application of these texts, safeguarding the integrity of Islamic knowledge.


  • Guidance for Personal and Social Ethics

Islamic Studies provide guidance on personal conduct, ethics, and morality based on Islamic teachings. They address various aspects of human life, including family, business, social interactions, and governance, offering principles and guidelines for individuals and societies to lead righteous and just lives.


  • Islamic Law and Jurisprudence

Islamic Sciences, particularly the study of Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh, provide a framework for understanding and implementing Islamic law. This includes the development of legal rulings and principles that govern various aspects of life, such as worship, transactions, contracts, family matters, and criminal justice, ensuring the application of Islamic principles in a just and equitable manner.


  • Intellectual and Academic Development

Islamic Sciences contribute to intellectual and academic development by fostering critical thinking, research skills, and scholarly discourse within the Islamic tradition. They encourage the pursuit of knowledge, scholarship, and academic rigor, promoting a deep understanding of Islam and its intellectual heritage.


  • Dialogue and Coexistence

Islamic Studies facilitate interfaith dialogue and understanding by providing a platform for engaging with scholars from different religious traditions. They contribute to building bridges of mutual respect, promoting peaceful coexistence, and addressing contemporary challenges from an Islamic perspective.


You can also read about: Sciences in the Holy Quran


What are the types of Sharia sciences?

Sharia sciences, also known as Islamic jurisprudence or Islamic law, encompass various disciplines and branches. Some of the key types of Sharia sciences include:


1- Fiqh (Jurisprudence)

Fiqh is the study of Islamic law and legal principles. It involves the understanding, interpretation, and application of the rules and regulations derived from the primary sources of Islamic law, namely the Quran and Hadith. Fiqh covers a wide range of areas, including worship, transactions, family law, criminal law, and more.


2- Usul al-Fiqh (Principles of Jurisprudence)

Usul al-Fiqh is the study of the principles and methodologies employed in deriving legal rulings from the Quran and Hadith. It focuses on the sources of Islamic law, the principles of legal interpretation, and the methodologies used by jurists to deduce legal rulings.


3- Maqasid al-Shariah (Objectives of Sharia)

Maqasid al-Shariah is the study of the higher objectives and purposes of Islamic law. It aims to understand the underlying goals and values of Sharia and how they contribute to the welfare and well-being of individuals and society. It helps in adapting Islamic rulings to contemporary contexts while preserving the spirit and intent of the law.


4- Islamic Legal Theory

Islamic legal theory explores the philosophical and theoretical foundations of Islamic law. It delves into concepts such as the nature of law, legal reasoning, the role of custom and consensus in legal decision-making, and the relationship between divine guidance and human reasoning in legal matters.


5- Islamic Criminal Law

Islamic criminal law, also known as Hudud, deals with offenses and their corresponding punishments as prescribed in Islamic law. It includes the study of crimes such as theft, adultery, apostasy, and the principles and procedures related to their adjudication and punishment.


6- Islamic Family Law

Islamic family law focuses on matters related to marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, and other aspects of family life. It involves the study of the legal rights and responsibilities of individuals within the family structure based on Islamic teachings.


7- Islamic Banking and Finance

Islamic banking and finance is a specialized field within Sharia sciences that deals with financial transactions and practices compliant with Islamic principles. It includes the study of concepts such as interest-free banking, profit-sharing arrangements, and ethical investment practices.


8- Islamic Ethics

Islamic ethics explores the moral and ethical teachings of Islam. It covers topics such as personal ethics, social responsibility, business ethics, and the ethical dimensions of various aspects of life as guided by Islamic teachings.


You can also read about: Learn to read Quran


Departments of Sharia Sciences

Sharia sciences, being a broad field of study, are typically organized into various departments or disciplines within educational institutions. The specific departments can vary depending on the institution and its curriculum, but here are some common departments or areas of specialization within Sharia sciences:


1- Department of Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh

This department focuses on the study of Islamic jurisprudence, including the principles, methodologies, and application of Islamic law. It covers various areas of fiqh, such as worship, transactions, family law, and criminal law, as well as the principles of legal interpretation.


2- Department of Quranic Sciences

This department concentrates on the study of the Quran, including its interpretation (Tafsir), recitation (Tajweed), and the sciences related to understanding its language, context, and exegesis.


3- Department of Hadith Sciences

This department is dedicated to the study of Hadith literature, including the authentication (Hadith authentication), classification, and interpretation of Prophetic traditions. It focuses on the science of Hadith criticism (Mustalah al-Hadith) and the methodologies used to verify the authenticity and understand the meanings of Hadith.


4- Department of Islamic Theology (Aqeedah)

This department explores the study of Islamic creed and belief systems. It examines the fundamental tenets of faith, the nature of God, the attributes of God, and other theological matters.


5- Department of Islamic History and Civilization

This department focuses on the study of Islamic history, the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the development of Islamic civilization, and the contributions of Muslims in various fields of knowledge, arts, and sciences.


6- Department of Comparative Religion

This department involves a comparative study of Islam with other religions. It examines the similarities and differences between Islam and other faith traditions, promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding.


7- Department of Islamic Law and Legal Studies

This department specializes in Islamic law and legal systems. It covers the study of Sharia principles, legal theory, Islamic criminal law, family law, contract law, and other aspects of Islamic legal systems.


8- Department of Islamic Ethics and Morality

This department focuses on the study of Islamic ethics and moral values. It explores ethical teachings in Islam, personal moral development, social ethics, and the application of Islamic principles in various spheres of life.


The division of Islamic sciences from the perspective of obligatory application is as follows:


1- Fard Ain (Individual Obligation)

This is a legal concept that pertains to the obligations that every Muslim must fulfill. For example, prayer is obligatory for every Muslim, so we say that prayer is fard ain, meaning it is a duty that must be performed. Neglecting it is considered sinful. This concept also applies to prohibitions, such as the consumption of alcohol, gambling, theft, and adultery, which are prohibited for Muslims.


2- Fard Kifayah (Collective Obligation)

This is a term that signifies that there are actions that, if performed by some individuals, exempt the rest from the responsibility. These are obligations that are incumbent upon certain Muslims but not all. Examples include performing the funeral prayer, enjoining good and forbidding evil, or establishing the institution of the Caliphate. However, if these obligations are not fulfilled by a sufficient number of individuals, it becomes sinful.


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What is the relationship between Islamic sciences and other sciences?

The relationship between Islamic sciences and other sciences can be characterized in various ways:


1- Complementary Relationship

Islamic sciences and other sciences can complement each other. Islamic sciences provide a framework for understanding the religious, ethical, and moral dimensions of life, while other sciences, such as mathematics, physics, biology, and social sciences, contribute to our understanding of the natural world, human behavior, and societal dynamics. The integration of Islamic sciences with other sciences allows for a holistic approach to knowledge, where religious and secular knowledge intersect and inform one another.


2- Independent but Interconnected

Islamic sciences and other sciences operate as distinct domains of knowledge with their respective methodologies and subject matters. While Islamic sciences focus on Islamic teachings, jurisprudence, and theology, other sciences have their own frameworks and methods for studying the physical, natural, and social world. However, these domains are interconnected as they both contribute to the broader understanding of the universe and human existence.


3- Ethical and Moral Guidance

Islamic sciences provide an ethical and moral framework that can guide the conduct and application of other sciences. They emphasize values such as justice, compassion, honesty, and responsibility, which can influence how scientific research is conducted and how technology is developed and applied. Islamic sciences can serve as a moral compass, ensuring that scientific advancements are aligned with ethical principles and the well-being of individuals and society.


4- Interdisciplinary Collaboration

There are areas where Islamic sciences and other sciences intersect and overlap, leading to interdisciplinary collaboration. For example, in the field of bioethics, scholars from Islamic sciences, medical sciences, and ethics come together to address ethical dilemmas related to medical practices and advancements from an Islamic perspective. This collaboration allows for a comprehensive examination of complex issues by drawing on the insights and expertise from multiple disciplines.


5- Contextualization and Application

Islamic sciences provide a context for the application of other sciences within the framework of Islamic teachings and principles. For instance, Islamic finance applies principles derived from Islamic law to the field of economics and finance. Similarly, medical ethics in an Islamic context incorporates Islamic ethical principles and teachings into the practice of medicine. Islamic sciences provide guidance on how other sciences can be applied and practiced in accordance with Islamic values.


You can also read about: Science of Tajweed


Explanation of some basic Sharia terms

Here are explanations of some basic Sharia terms:


Sharia: Sharia refers to the Islamic legal framework derived from the Quran (the holy book of Islam) and the Sunnah (the practices and teachings of Prophet Muhammad). It encompasses religious, moral, legal, and social principles that guide the lives of Muslims.


Halal: Halal is an Arabic term that means “permissible” or “lawful.” It describes things that are allowed and in accordance with Islamic law. For example, halal food refers to food that is prepared and consumed in compliance with Islamic dietary laws.


Haram: Haram is the opposite of halal and means “forbidden” or “prohibited” in Islamic law. It refers to actions, objects, or practices that are explicitly prohibited in Islam. Consuming pork, consuming alcohol, and engaging in theft or adultery are considered haram.


Sunnah: Sunnah refers to the practices, traditions, and teachings of Prophet Muhammad. It includes his actions, sayings, approvals, and disapprovals. Muslims strive to emulate and follow the Sunnah as a way to live in accordance with the example set by the Prophet.


Fatwa: A fatwa is a legal opinion or ruling issued by a qualified Islamic scholar (mufti) in response to a specific question or issue. It provides guidance on matters of Islamic law and can cover a wide range of topics, including religious practices, ethical concerns, and contemporary issues.


Ijtihad: Ijtihad is the process of independent legal reasoning and interpretation of Islamic law. It involves the effort to derive legal rulings from the primary sources of Islamic law, such as the Quran, Hadith, and scholarly consensus. Ijtihad is typically conducted by qualified scholars known as mujtahids.


Taqwa: Taqwa is an Arabic term often translated as “piety” or “God-consciousness.” It refers to being mindful of God’s presence and seeking to act in accordance with His guidance. Taqwa involves a state of fear, awe, and reverence towards God, leading to righteous and ethical behavior.


Zakat: Zakat is an obligatory form of charity in Islam. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and involves giving a specified percentage of one’s wealth to help the poor and needy. Zakat is seen as a means of purifying wealth and promoting social justice.


These are just a few basic Sharia terms, and there are many more concepts and principles within Islamic law. The understanding and application of these terms can vary among different scholars and interpretations within the diverse Muslim community.


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