The volumes of the Project on the History of science, philosophy and Culture in India Civilization aim at discovering the main aspects of India’s heritage and present them in an interrelated way. In spit of their unitary looks, these volumes recognize the difference between the areas of volumes recognize and those of ideational culture. The Project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. The Project is marked by what may be called ‘methodological pluralism’. In spite of its primarily historical character, this project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavour of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization.
The present volume on Islam forms a part of the other volumes of the PHISPC under “The Religious Systems of India”. The conceiving of this volume speaks of the thoughtfulness of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations as Islam is the religion of the largest minority in India. Islam’s presence in India is practically as old as Islam itself. Naturally, it has undergone important changes and development in India. These developments are in the fields of commentaries of the Quran and Hadiths, Jurisprudence, Sufism, Philosophy and Culture. Our efforts are directed to project and highlight these developments through the articles included in this volume. It is hoped that the volume will be of interest to those who want to know Islam and Muslims in India, rather closely. Most of these articles were obtained from the participants of the two national seminars held at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in June 2002 and 2003 under the auspices of the Centre.
D. P. chattopadhyaya, M. A. LL. B. Ph. D. (Culcutta and London School of Economics), D. Litt. (Honoris Causa), studies, researched on Law, phil0osophy and history and taught at varuous Universities in India, Asia, Europe and USA from 1954 to 1994. Founder--Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1981—1990) and President-cum-Chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1984—1991), Chattopadhyaya is currently the Project Director of the multidisciplinary ninety-six volume Project of History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization [PHISPC] and Chairman of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations [CSC]. Among his 36 publications, authored 18 and edited or co-edited 18, are Individuals and Societies (1967); Individuals and Worlds (1976); Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx (1988); Anthropology and Historiography of Science (1990); Induction, Probability and Skepticism (1991); Sociology, Ideology and Utopia (1997); Societies, Cultures and Ideologies (2000); Interdisciplinary Studies in Science, Society, Value and Civilization Dialogue (2002); Philosophy of Science; Phenomenology and Other Essays (2003); Philosophical Consciousness and Scientific Knowledge:
Conceptual Linkages and Civilization Background (2004); Self; Society and Science: Theoretical and History cal Perspectives (2004); Religion, Philosophy and Science, (2006) and Aesthetic Theories and Forms in Indian Tradition (2008). He has also held high public offices, namely, of Union cabinet minister and state governor. He is a Life Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a Member of the International Institute of Philosophy, Paris. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1998 and Padma Vibhushan in 2009 by the Government of India.
Mohammad Rafique was born on 11 November 939 at Barhan (Agra). After his early education in his home town, he joined Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1955 where all his higher education up to PhD. was completed. Besides several articles in reputed journals, his publications include three books: Sri Aurobindo and Iqbal, Sri Aurobindo ‘s Ideal of Human Life and Indian and Muslim Philosophy. He participated and organized many national and international conferences and seminars. He served as Lecturer in Philosophy for two years in Madhya Pradesh before joining his Alma mater in 1967 from where he retired in 2001 as Professor and Chairman, Department of Philosophy. Before that he also served as Dean, Faculty of Arts, A.M.U. for two years. He was a member of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi, for several years and was associated with the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, as member of Subject Panel on Philosophy for two years.
It is understandable that man, shaped by Nature, would like to know Nature. The human ways of knowing Nature are evidently diverse, theoretical and practical, scientific and technological, artistic and spiritual. This diversity has, on scrutiny, been found to be neither exhaustive nor exclusive. The complexity of physical nature, life-world and, particularly, human mind is so enormous that it is futile to follow a single method for comprehending all the aspects of the world in which we are situated.
One need not feel bewildered by the variety and complexity of the worldly phenomena. After all, both from traditional wisdom and our daily experience, we know that our own nature is not quite alien to the structure of the world. Positively speaking, the elements and forces that are out there in the world are also present in our body-mind complex, enabling us to adjust ourselves to our environment. Not only the natural conditions but also the social conditions of life have instructive similarities between them. This is not to underrate in any way the difference between the human ways of life all over the world. It is partly due to the variation in climatic conditions and partly due to the distinctness of production-related tradition, history and culture.
Three broad approaches are discernible in the works on historiography of civilization, comprising science and technology, art and architecture, social sciences and institutions. Firstly, some writers are primarily interested in discovering the general laws which govern all civilizations spread over different continents. They tend to underplay what they call the noisy local events of the external world and peculiarities of different languages, literatures and histories. Their accent is on the unity of Nature, the unity of science and the unity of mankind. The second groups of writers, unlike the generalist or transcendentalist ones, attach primary importance to the distinctiveness of every culture. To these writers, human freedom and creativity are extremely important and basic in character. Social institutions and the cultural articulations of human consciousness, they argue, are bound to be expressive of the concerned people’s consciousness. By implication they tend to reject concepts like archetypal consciousness, universal mind and providential history. There is a third group of writers who offer a composite picture of civilizations, drawing elements both from their local and common characteristics. Every culture has its local roots and peculiarities. At the same time, it is pointed out that due to demographic migration and immigration over the centuries an element of compositeness emerges almost in every culture. When, due to a natural calamity or political exigencies people move from one part of the world to another, they carry with them, among other things, their language, cultural inheritance and their ways of living.
In the light of the above facts, it is not at all surprising that comparative anthropologists and philologists are intrigued by the striking similarity between different language families and the rites, rituals and myths of different peoples. Speculative philosophers of history, heavily relying on the findings of epigraphy, ethnography, archaeology and theology, try to show in very general terms that the particulars and universals of culture are ‘essentially’ or ‘secretly’ interrelated. The spiritual aspects of culture like dance and music, beliefs pertaining to life, death and duties, on analysis, are found to be mediated by the material forms of life like weather forecasting, food production, urbanization and invention of script. The transition from the oral culture to the written one was made possible because of the mastery of symbols and rules of measurement. Speech precedes grammar, poetry prosody. All these show how the ‘matters’ and ‘forms’ of life are so subtly interwoven.
The Phisca publications on History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, in spite of their unitary look, do recognize the differences between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. It is not a work of a single author. Nor is it being executed by a group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. In conceiving the Project we have interacted with, and been influenced by, the writings and views of many Indian and non-Indian thinkers.
The attempted unity of this Project lies in its aim and inspiration. We have in India many scholarly works written by Indians on different aspects of our civilization and culture. Right from the pre-Christian era to our own time, India has drawn the attention of various countries of Asia, Europe and Africa. Some of these writings are objective and informative and many others are based on insufficient information and hearsay, and therefore not quite reliable, but they have their own value. Quality and viewpoints keep on changing not only because of the adequacy and inadequacy of evidence but also, and perhaps more so, because of the bias and prejudice, religious and political conviction, of the writers.
Besides, it is to be remembered that history, like Nature, is not an open book to be read alike by all. The past is mainly enclosed and only partially disclosed. History is, therefore, partly objective or ‘real’ and largely a matter of construction. This is one of the reasons why some historians themselves think that it is a form of literature or art. However, it does not mean that historical construction is ‘anarchic’ and arbitrary. Certainly, imagination plays an important role in it.
But its character is basically dependent upon the questions which the historian raises and wants to understand or answer in terms of the ideas and actions of human beings in the past ages. In a way, history, somewhat like the natural sciences, is engaged in answering questions and in exploring relationships of cause and effect between events and developments across time. While in the natural sciences, the scientist poses questions about nature in the form of hypotheses, expecting to elicit authoritative answers to south questions, the historian studies the past, partly for the sake of understanding it for its own sake and partly also for the light which the past throws upon the present, and the possibilities which it opens up for mounding the future. But the difference between the two approaches must not be lost sight of. The scientist is primarily interested in discovering laws and framing theories, in terms of which, different events and processes can be connected and anticipated. His interest in the conditions or circumstances attending the concerned events is secondary. Therefore, scientific laws turn out to be basically abstract and easily expressible in terms of mathematical language. In contrast, the historian’s main interest centers round the specific events, human ideas and actions, not general laws. So, the historian, unlike the scientist, is obliged to pay primary attention to the circumstances of the events he wants to study. Consequently, history, like most other humanistic disciplines, is concrete and particularistic. This is not to deny the obvious truth those historical events and processes consisting of human ideas and actions show some trend or other and weave some pattern or other. If these trends and patterns were not there at all in history, the study of history as a branch of knowledge would not have been profitable or instructive. But one must recognize that historical trends and patterns, unlike scientific laws and theories, are not general or purported to be universal in their scope.
The aim of this Project is to discover the main aspects of Indian culture and present them in an interrelated way. Since our culture has influenced, and has been influenced by, the neighboring cultures of West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia, attempts have been made here to trace and study these influences in their mutuality. It is well known that during the last three centuries, European presence in India, both political and cultural, has been very widespread. In many volumes of the Project considerable attention has been paid to Europe and through Europe to other parts of the world. For the purpose of a comprehensive cultural study of India, the existing political boundaries of the South Asia of today are more of a hindrance than help. Cultures, like languages, often transcend the bounds of changing political territories.
If the inconstant political geography is not a reliable help to the understanding of the layered structure and spread of culture, a somewhat comparable problem is encountered in the area of historical per iodization. Per iodization or segmenting time is a very tricky affair. When exactly one period ends and another begins is not precisely ascertainable. The periods of history designated as ancient, medieval and modern are purely conventional and merely heuristic in character. The varying scopes of history, local, national and continental or universal, somewhat like the periods of history, are unavoidably fuzzy and shifting. Amidst all these difficulties, the volume-wise details have been planned and worked out by the editors in consultation with the Project Director and the General Editor. I believe that the editors of different volumes have also profited from the reactions and suggestions of the contributors of individual chapters in planning the volumes.
Another aspect of Indian history which the volume-editors and contributors of the Project have carefully dealt with is the distinction and relation between civilization and culture. The material conditions which substantially shaped Indian civilization have been discussed in detail. From agriculture and industry to metallurgy and technology, from physics and chemical practices to the life sciences and different systems of medicines—all the branches of knowledge and skill which directly affect human life—form the heart of this Project. Since the periods covered by the PHISPC are extensive—prehistory, proto-history, early history, medieval history and modern history of India—we do not claim to have gone into all the relevant material conditions of human life. We had to be selective. Therefore, one should not be surprised if one finds that only some material aspects of Indian civilization have received our pointed attention, while the rest have been dealt with in principle or only alluded to.
One of the main aims of the Project has been to spell out the first principles of the philosophy of different schools, both pro-Vedic and anti-Vedic. The basic ideas of Buddhism, Jainism and Islam have been given their due importance. The special position accorded to philosophy is to be understood partly in terms of its proclaimed unifying character and partly to be explained in terms of the fact that different philosophical systems represent alternative world-views, cultural perspectives, their conflict and mutual assimilation.
Most of the volume-editors and at their instance the concerned contributors have followed a middle path between the extremes of narratives and theoretic. The underlying idea has been this: If in the process of working out a comprehensive Project like this every contributor attempts to narrate all those interesting things that he has in the back of his mind, the enterprise is likely to prove unmanageable. If, on the other hand, particular details are consciously forced into a fixed mould or pre-supposed theoretical structure, the details lose their particularity and interesting character. Therefore, depending on the nature of the problem of discourse, most of the writers have tried to reconcile in their presentation, the specificity of narratives and the generality of theoretical orientation. This is a conscious editorial decision. Because, in the absence of a theory, however inarticulate it may be, the factual details tend to fall apart. Spiritual network or theoretical orientation makes historical details not only meaningful but also interesting and enjoyable.
Another editorial decision which deserves spelling out is the necessity or avoid ability of duplication of the same theme in different volumes or even in the same volume.
Certainly, this Project is not an assortment of several volumes. Nor is any volume intended to be a miscellany. This Project has been designed with a definite end in view and has a structure of its own. The character of the structure has admittedly been influenced by the variety of the themes accommodated within it. Again it must be understood that the complexity of structure is rooted in the aimed integrality of the Project itself.
Long and in-depth editorial discussion has led us to several unanimous conclusions. Firstly, our Project is going to be unique, unrivalled and discursive in its attempt to integrate different forms of science, technology, philosophy and culture. Its comprehensive scope, continuous character and accent on culture distinguish it from the works of such Indian authors as P.C. Ray, B.N. Seal, Binoy Kumar Sarkar and S.N. Sen and also from such Euro-American writers as Lynn Thorndike, George Sarton and Joseph Needham. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to suggest that it is for the first time that an endeavour of so comprehensive a character, in its exploration of the social, philosophical and cultural characteristics of a distinctive world civilization—that of India—has been attempted in the domain of scholarship.
The Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture, under the Centre for Studies in Civilizations, New Delhi, has envisaged bringing out a number of
dolmens on the themes comprising its nomenclature. Now, the Project is bringing various volumes under the title, ‘Religious Systems of India’. The present volume is
rancid to be one of its parts. It has been devoted to Islam under the major theme Development of Islamic Religion, Philosophy and Culture in India’. Islam began in
n the 7th century’ AD and it had reached the shores of India, especially South rna through traders much before the Muslim invaders and conquerors came to northern ixia. However, their religion happened to be Islam. There was a lot of interaction Muslim scholars and Indian scholars representing the ancient religions of India.
Common masses, especially the downtrodden ones, were greatly attracted towards due to its message of equality and simplicity. This message aptly came to them ‘:tzi the Sufis of India whose contribution, inter alias, is to be highlighted in this ——e. Besides, a lot of valuable work has been done by the Indian Muslims on the Lamenters o the Query’ m, H&it1 awl Fish (jurisprudence). The contribution of these he Muslim scholars was produced in Arabic, Persian and Xeric awl was in India, by the important centers of Islamic learning in the Middle East. Here oppose to highlight the contribution of these Indian Muslim scholars to these fields. b the beginning, Muslim learning was cultivated under royal patronage and in Sufi wisterias. But later on, the Madras system of education also came to impart the bubonic teachings and has thus contributed considerably towards the development of khan in India. Moreover, we have a number of Islamic philosophers, divines and reformers se contribution needs to be highlighted. No doubt, Islam has been a major religion India for centuries and it has contributed enormously towards the development of a chew composite Indian culture.
It should be said to the credit of India that she has been marked by her catholicity end tolerance, which in fact, has made her the cradle of many religions and cultures. It
acknowledged by all that Islam has been a great religious and cultural force. It has to fostering a civilization which is not only empirical and positivistic in its outlook but has a great commitment to morality and spirituality of the highest order. As a result, Muslims have proved pioneers in the field of many modern sciences and arts, such as dine, chemistry, algebra and astronomy. Islam’s contribution to various branches of philosophy and logic is no less important since the Urban has laid great stress on cxiternplation and rational thinking on the signs of God which are spread throughout the gamut of existence. Therefore, infinite possibilities are still open there to be explored and utilized for the betterment of humanity at large. Exactly, this forms an important task assigned to man by his Creator according to the Qumran.
In the 7th century AD Islam truly revolutionized Arab society which was ‘pagan’ in every sense of the word. The period has also been described in Arabic language as a period of ‘Jahiliya’, again implying a period of illiteracy and ignorance. Islam’s specialty as a religion was that it not only covered man’s spiritual life but also sought to prescribe elaborate rules to cover all aspects of mundane life through the divine law, Shari ‘ah. In fact, Islam did not seek to bisect the life of man into two antagonistic categories, spiritual and mundane. It believed in the totality of man’s life. As we know, the main sources of Islamic religion and philosophy are the Qumran and Habit (the sayings and the actions of the holy Prophet). However, there may arise a problem or a situation on which no guidance can be found in these two sources. Therefore, two further sources have been enunciated in Islamic Jurisprudence. They are exemplified in the following episode from the Hamish of the Prophet mentioned by Mohammad Iqbal thus:
When Mipad was appointed ruler of Yemen, the Prophet is reported to have asked him as to how he would decide matters coming up before him. ‘I will judge matters according to the Book of God,’ said Malady. ‘But if the Book of God contains nothing to guide you?’ ‘Then I will act on the precedents of the Prophet of God.’ ‘But if the precedents fail?’ ‘Then I will exert to form my own judgment.”
Obviously, by exerting, here Iqbal means the institution of ‘Jihad’ which is based on the two other principles, Quays (judgment based on analogy) and ‘Irma’s’ (the consensus of the learned). In fact, Iqbal gives ‘Jihad’ a prominent place in Islamic jurisprudence and regards it a fundamental principle of movement in the structure of Islam. He writes: ‘...the word literally means to exert. In the terminology of Islamic law it means to exert with a view to form an independent judgment on a legal question. The idea, I believe, has its origin in a well-known verse of the Qur’an: ‘And to those who exert We show our path’.2 In this way, we can see that so far as the sources of Islamic religion and philosophy are concerned, the Islamic approach is a comprehensive, synthetic and integrating one. This is further strengthened by the fact that Islam made the belief in all the prophets and their scriptures essential to the whole of the belief-system of Islam. In this sense, Islam does not subscribe to a complete break with the past. Rather, Islam has absorbed and integrated the prevailing just customs and practices in its legal system, ‘Shania’s’. The nearest two religions coexisting with Islam were Christianity and Judaism, the teachings of which were referred to in the Qumran. Obviously, the Qumran does not contain all the later developments and interpolations in these two religions. It was in the foregoing spirit that Islam endeavored to unite people of different religions at least on one principle that all of them believed in one supreme God, leaving aside the details.
So far as the question of the concept of God in Islam is concerned, it may be asserted that Islam is strictly monotheistic and inclusion of any other with God or equality with Him has been regarded as a great sin. In this sense, God is unique and nothing can be likened to Him. Moreover, Islam is opposed to all anthropomorphic conceptions of God.. The Quantico Sürah, Al-Ikhlãs, is very specific and emphatic on presenting the true concept of God, It reads:
The above-mentioned verse of the Qumran also clearly states that God has no genetic relationship with anything of the world and thus God is above the antagonistic tendency towards reproduction. In fact, nothing in the world can be likened to Him.
Another marked feature of Islam is its empirical outlook towards the world which accords realistic nature to it. Reckoning world’s reality, its scientific study, the conquest of the forces of nature and re-mounding them to man’s advantage in the world so as to make it worth living, form the part of the man’s mission, even though temporarily, since the sojourn on it determines the future prospects of man in the world hereafter. Thus we read in the Qumran, ‘Verily in the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, and in the succession of the night and of the day, are signs for men of understanding; who, standing and sitting and reclining, bear God in mind and reflect on the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, and say: Oh, our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain.’3
‘And He has subjected to you the night and the day, the sun and the moon, and the stars too are subject to you by His behest; verily in this are signs for those who understand.’4
Thus it was this emphasis of the Qumran on the observable aspect of Reality that made Muslims the founders of natural sciences such as mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, biology and medicine. This aspect of Islam has widely been accepted and appreciated the world over. Not only the Qumran but also Habits have emphasized that seeking knowledge of the universe is incumbent on both men and women. One such Habit reads: ‘Seek knowledge even if you have to go to China.’ Obviously, this indicates that the Prophet here implied the search of the knowledge of the physical universe—not the knowledge of religion alone, since China in those days could never have been considered a centre for Islamic knowledge. On this point, let us see what a writer on the Internet remarks: ‘The attainments of the Muslims in the intellectual and artistic fields can be attributed not only to the genius of Arabs but also to those people who embraced the Islamic faith in Persia, Mesopotamia, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, north Africa, and Spain. Muslim learning benefited both from Islam’s ability to absorb other cultures and from the native talents of the Islamic people. The cosmopolitan spirit permeating the Abbasid Dynasty supplied the tolerance necessary for a diversity of ideas, so that science and philosophy of ancient Greece and India alike received a cordial reception in Baghdad. Under Harun al-Rashid and his successors, the writings of Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, Archimedes, Galen, and other great Greek scientific writers were translated into Arabic. This knowledge, together with the teachings of the Qumran, formed the basis of Muslim learning, which in turn was later transmitted to scholars in Western Europe. In addition to being invaluable transmitters of learning, the Muslims made many original contributions to science and the arts.
‘The years between 900 and 1100 AD can be called the golden age of Muslim learning. This period was particularly significant for medical advances. Muslim students of medicine were by all measures far superior to their European contemporaries. Muslim cities had excellent pharmacies and hospitals and both pharmacists and physicians had to pass state examinations for licensure.’
Let us now see what is the nature of universe, which has been regarded by the Qur’an as exhibiting the signs of God. First of all, unlike plato, who held sense organs of small account, the Qur’an regards these sense organs as gifts of God to observe the intricacies of the world. According to Iqbal, the universe is a result of the revelation of God and therefore, it should be studied and its reali should be recognized. The universe thus not a completed one but is always in the process of making. It is in a state of change.
That is why the Qur’an has described God to be every day in a new creational form.. Elsewhere also in the Qur’an we read, ‘He (God) adds to his creation what He wills’ (35:
1). Secondly, the universe is not the result of a mere creative sport on the part of God the Qur’ãn says,
We have not created the Heavens and the Earth and whatever is between them in sport we have not created them but for a serious end but the greater part of them understand it not (44:38).
This serious purpose of man’s life in the world is to worship God but the word ‘worship’ has been taken in Islam in a wider sense. It includes the performance of all
the spiritual, moral, social, economic and political actions in accordance with the injunctions of God specified in the Qur’an and Hadith of the Prophet. The life hereafter depends on these actions. In this sense, the world is a testing place for man where he is for a limited period and the life-hereafter has been regarded by Islam as unending.
Let me quote Iqbal at some length with regard to the nature of the universe. He says,
‘It is not a block universe, a finished product, immobile and incapable of change. Deep in its inner being lies, perhaps, the dream of a new birth: “Say, go through the Earth and
see how God has brought forth all creation: hereafter will He give it another birth” (29: 19). In fact, this mysterious swing, an impulse of the universe, this noiseless swim of nine, which appears to us human beings, as the movement of day and night, is regarded low the Qur’an as one of the greatest signs of God.’6
Thirdly, we find in the Qur’an two different versions of creation of the universe. With regard to the verse relating to creation, we read in the Qur’an:
And put thy trust in Him
That liveth and dieth not
And celebrate His praise
Who in six days created the
Heavens and the Earth
Then mounted His Throne:
The God of mercy. (25:60)
At another place we read in the Qur’an:
All things We have created
With a fixed Destiny.
Our command was but one,
Swift as the twinkling of an eye” ( 54: 50)
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