Special Reports

IOS organises Lecture on “Islamic Research Methodology”

New Delhi: The Institute of Objective Studies (IOS), organised a lecture on "Islamic Research Methodology" here on 20 September. Delivering the lecture, Prof. Shamim Ahmed Ansari, director of the Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India (CEPECAMI), Aligarh Muslim University, said that research was an art of scientific knowledge which was careful investigation or enquiry, especially through search for new facts in any branch of knowledge. Explaining Islamic research methodology, he said that it was very much related to the methodology of social sciences research. Islamic research methodology must be Islamic in nature and should focus on social problems. It should begin with exploring the problem and then identifying it. The application of knowledge in the process was important. He said that a research that failed to benefit society was an exercise in futility.

Prof. Shamim Ahmed Ansari delivering his lecture

Prof. Ansari stressed that research methodology kept on changing because of change in the value systems with the passage of time. Listing eight steps in conducting research, he held that these research steps were generally undertaken in social sciences in which sometimes new issues were explored. But sometimes there were ex-post facto researches too. In ex-post facto researches, he said, there was no control over the variables as only after happening some casual factors were identified. So far as Islamic research methodology was concerned, it was like ex-post facto research, because it was based on revealed knowledge, he noted. Pointing out that our knowledge was limited and incomplete, but revealed knowledge was absolutely perfect and complete, he emphasised that it was necessary to have good knowledge of Islam and only then the quest for developing strategies would take place to help people develop qualities as also the ways of life as demanded by Islam.

According to Prof. Ansari, the steps for research include defining research problems, reviewing concept and theories, reviewing previous research findings, formulating hypotheses, research design, including sample design, data collection, analysis and testing research hypothesis and interpretation. He said that good values and qualities were universal and accepted by all religions, adding that Islam, being flexible, demanded attitudes and behaviour within the limits of injunctions of the Qur'an and Hadith. He remarked that Islam used three steps in changing attitudes and behaviour with regard to drug addiction. In the first step, he said, taking liquor was regarded a social evil. The second step was a command not to offer prayer in a drunken state and thirdly, when the ground was prepared, consuming liquor was absolutely prohibited. He contended that the strategy offered by Islam for attitude and behaviour was required by the researchers to gauge its efficacy. He insisted that the three-step strategy had been found to be very effective in changing attitudes and behaviour. Contrary to this, he maintained, if anyone was forced to suddenly accept something or to bring about a change in him, there was every possibility of resistance to change which might reflect in any form at a later stage. In this connection, he cited the example of forceful sterilisation during the Emergency.

Prof. Ansari opined that Islam never favoured a strategy of using force to change individual behaviour. However, he noted that there was no specific Islamic research methodology. He held that Islam always opted for strategies and methods for behavioural change leading to social change that fitted well with psychological principles.2

In his presidential remarks, the Chairman of IOS, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam informed that the IOS had been organising lectures on a variety of subjects that were relevant to Islamic ethos, adding that this would continue in future as well. Comparing the methodology of social sciences research with that of Islamic research, he explained that while the scope of the former was not confined to a particular method, the latter was limited as it was related to the Creator of the Universe and indomitable faith in Him as the only master. (iosworld.org)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2014 on page no. 13

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