• Book Title:
 Studies In Islamic Social Sciences
  • Book Author:
Masudul Alam Choudhury
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This book comprises a set of lectures that were given to university-wide faculty members at the School of Social Sciences, the Science University of Malaysia, during the author’s visiting professorship in Economics there between April and September 1995.

This was a most fortunate opportunity to interact with learned colleagues and discuss with them the many concep­tual, applied and technical issues of Islamic social sciences in general and Islamic political economy in particular.

 These discussions took place at a most exciting time in Malaysia’ s history as it was laying down the building blocks of a caring and civil society that will mature into an industrialised nation by the year 2020. This was also a time when many issues conceming socioeconomic development and a broadly interactive multifaceted deci­sion making of a truly participatory nature in Malaysian national life were being debated. in addition my lectures were presented at a time when Malaysia was making bold and innovative strides towards the lslamisation of its national economy, institutions and policies.

Hence this book is an attempt to lay down the conceptual, applied and technical aspects of a wide-reaching model of lslamisation in an age of globalisation.

in this age of globalisation, while nations are being tied together in a borderless world by rule-based institutional preferences and policies, new questions and a fresh search for greater social well-being for the humarı race have risen to the surface. These questions are part of an inexorable thrust for the discovery of true freedom from the yokes of the Eurocentric machinations of Western empires that has gone on for so long and under so many guises.

The questions have continued to be asked and are raised in deeply critical ways both intellectually and politically as the process of globalisation enforces its capitalistic order and its new mercantilism in manifest ways. Questions such as the ‘end of history’ often used to convey global convergence to capitalism and the Western institutional framework, are being critically rejected for alternative global arrangements.

 This pursuit is occurring more at the intellectual level than at the political level across nations states, but the advance towards globalisation is opening up distinct opportunities for interface and dialogue between policymakers and intellectuals in the search for social well-being.

in the midst of the para­digm of sustainability, the nature of the intellectual inquiry in which others must join for the quest for truth, is one that both sustains and in turn is sus­tainable by its inner strength. What other premise of this unique inquiry be but of knowledge! Knowledge here presents itself as interactions attained among agents through extensive participation. Such knowledge formation generate higher levels of the common good an example of which is social well-being (Agius, 1990).

This book is a project towards that continuing theme of the Islamic world view of economy-society-institution interactions in national and intemational forums, wherein individual and group preferences are created and sustained by knowledge as interactions. in tum, such interactions regenerate knowledge to higher levels of truth.

Truth and the medium of knowledge remain the most immutable features of all systems. in 1931 Alexander Gray wrote of the impermanence of all shades of economic doctrine: ‘Economic science, if it be a science, differs from other sciences in this, that there is no inevitable advance from less to greater certainty; there is no ruthless tracking down of truth which, once unbarred, shall be truth to ali times to the complete confusion of any contrary doctrine’. This incessant search for truth presents an altemative scope for an altemative economic reasoning to today’s socioeconomic problems.

The search for ultimate truth in the social sciences, like unification theory in the natural sciences, revolves around an immutable world view premised oıi knowledge and leading to unification. it presents reality in all shapes and forms, small and large, and in every aspect of the sciences against the backdrop of the universal principle of unification. This is the only truth that remains immutable in both science and experience. it is a truth that emanates from the divine roots of knowledge and presents the principle of divine unity as manifest in the laws in all of reality.

Concepts gain their meaning and purpose in and through the Divine Laws. Such laws increasingly unify ali of reality in the premise of knowledge, as such knowledge flows are progressively derived from the divine roots. This is the central message of this book with regard to the varied issues and prob­lems of the social sciences.

We will examine at length the relationship of flows of knowledge to the Divine stock of knowledge. We will study and apply this knowledge-centred relationship to contemporary perspective of a normative world view.

The stock-flow unification world view of knowledge is presented here within the framework of an interactive-integrative model premised on an evolutionary epistemology. This bestows on the world and its agents a learning-by-doing power to know and to unify choices.

 The other term­inologies used in this book for this same process of unification by interac­tion, integration and evolution – all of which are premised on the Divine Laws and their realisation – are as follows: the Shuratic process, the prin­ciple of universal complementarity, and ethical endogeneity.

These original contributions to the study of Islamic social sciences are taken up within the broad framework of science, society, markets, institu­tions, individuals and groups as participatory and interactive decision makers to form the centrepiece of this book.

Within the framework of this interactive-integrative world view the problems of epistemology, development, political economy, institutional­ism, globalisation, markets and science are brought together to develop an Islamic world view of the social sciences. Malaysia is used as a dynamic example of a nation state that has committed itself to certain aspects of lslamic transformation as a rational alternative to present-day economic and social thinking (lbrahim, 1990).

At the same time the scientific and epistemological picture, and the institution-society-economy linkages of the knowledge-centred world view presented here cause this book to be of credible worth to all those who pursue science devoid of prejudice.

The message is thus of universal inquiry in the social sciences, political economy and scientific methodol­ogy. in these respects this book opens up a wealth of original inquiry and questions for all social scientists in the perspective ofa different postmod­ern outlook on the interrelationship between economy, society, institution and science (Choudhury and Hamat, 1995).

1 Comparative Islamic View in the Methodology of the Social Sciences

This chapter is divided as follows. First, we undertake a brief coverage of the evolution of occidental thought in econornics to illustrate the episte­mological structure of this area of thought. Second, we extend the epistemological root that has embedded itself in occidental social science doctrines to the study of occidental institutionalism and its treatment of society and ethics.

 Third, we outline the attributes of the lslamic view in the social sciences, including its application to economic knowledge and institutionalism. Our coverage in this part is not so exhaustive as to cover the details of the interactive-integrative unity principle that grounds lslamic socioscientific order. For details on this methodology the reader may refer to the author’s other works (for example Choudhury, 1995).


in this section we trace the doctrines of classical economic and social science in the works of Adam Smith on the laws of motion of capitalism, the market exchange; in the civil libertarianism of Bentham and his utili­tarian doctrine; in the Hobbesian choice on individualism; and, in the context of the entire liberal philosophy, in the works of John Stuart Mill and John Locke. in all these we aim to discem the power structure of the pervasive message of methodological individualism that the classical school of economics and social sciences thoroughly conveys.

Adam Smith’s Economic and Social Epistemology

Adam Smith’s epistemological foundations in econornic science emanate principally from his Theory of Moral Sentiments, which preceded his magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations (Smith, 1937, 1966). in Moral Sentiments the seeds of human proclivity to freedom as an expression of natural liberty are sown. The individual’ s freedom to gain liberty is seen as the highest goal, just as Aristotle had raised the goal of humarı happiness to

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