What is the Ruling Regarding Studying Logic?


The Question:

I recently encountered a class being offered in Islamic logic? I’ve heard from many that such a class is unacceptable. My question is: what is the ruling on studying logic?

The answer:

I ask Allah to bless you and thank you for this question.

The Ten Building Blocks of Islamic Literacy:

The scholars of Islam based a student’s introduction to different sciences around ten major building blocks which they referred to as al-Mubadi’ al-Asharah [the ten building blocks]. They were so important that scholars wrote them in poetic form so students could memorize them.

Here is an example:


إن مبادئ كل علم عشرة الحد والموضع ثم الثمرة

Indeed, the building blocks of all sciences are ten

the definition, the content then the benefits

ونسبته وفضله والواضع والاسم والاستمداد حكم الشارع

It’s ascription, status and the one who established it

It’s name, its related [subjects] and it’s Islamic ruling

مسائل والبعض بالبعض اكتفى ومن درى الجميع حاز الشرفا

The issues it addressed and [knowing] some of them is sufficient

and one who grasped them all achieved honor
In these lines above there are 10 important building blocks used to gain quick literacy of a subject:

 

  1. The definition of a science
  2. The contents
  3. The benefits
  4. Its ascription
  5. Its status
  6. Its organizer
  7. Its name
  8. Its related subjects
  9. Its Islamic Ruling
  10. The issues it addressed

I heard Dr. Ali Guma [may Allah preserve him] say, “The scholars used these ten building blocks hoping that the one who mastered them would acquire a literacy that would empower him/her to advance in his/her studies.” One of those ten pertains to your question: the ruling?

Scholars differed over the study of logic falling into three camps:

  1. Those who forbade it such as Ibn Salah, al-Nawwawi and al-Suyuti [Allah’s mercy be upon them all]
  2. Those who considered it permissible such as al-Ghazzali who said, “One who has not studied it, then his knowledge is not reliable.”
  3. Those who considered it permissible with conditions and this was the majority of scholars. However, they preconditioned its study with mastery of the Qur’an, Sunna and the exhibiting of a strong intellect.

Al-akhdari al-maliki in alsSulam mentioned this when he wrote:


والخلف في جواز الاشتغال به على ثلاثة أقوال

The difference regarding the permissibility to busy [one’s self]

with it falls into three statements

فابن الصلاح والنواوى حرما وقال قوم ينبغى أن يعلما

Ibn al-Salah and al-Nawwai both forbade it

and [some] people said that it is incumbent [meaning permissible]

والقولة المشهورة الصحيحة جوازه لكامل القرحة

And the correct popular opinion is

acceptable for the one with a complete talent [intellect]

ممارسة السنة والكتاب ليهتدى إلى الصواب

Practitioner of the Book and the Sunna

to be guided to what is correct
The Ruling:

 

Commenting on the poem above the great scholar Ahmed al-damanhouri al-Azhari wrote, “This difference amongst the scholars was in regards to the logic studied by the philosophers [those influenced by Hellenistic thought]. As for those who were free from that such as the texts al-Sunusiyah and al-Shamsiyah, then there is no difference regarding their permissibility. It would not be a stretch to say that studying it is a communal obligation.” (See Idaha al-Mubham li M’ani al-Sulam pg. 42)

Finally, I strongly advise you to take your religion from the qualified. Those who told you this subject is forbidden, if they were from the people of knowledge, then no problem. However, if they were not, then I advise you to encourage them to fear Allah and not to engage in issues about which they have no knowledge. I would like you to read the following at your earliest convenience:

Guidelines For Seeking Religious Rulings by the Egyptian House of Fatwa

And Allah knows best

Suhaib

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4 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    al-salamu `alaykum

    I noticed that the first building block of literacy is the ‘definition of a science.’

    I was under the impression that logic was ‘a collection of principles and rules that, if followed, enable a person to avoid mistakes in his thought process.’ To read that certain scholars considered its study forbidden suggests that my definition might be incorrect.

    Is there a different ‘logic’ that is being referred to here?

    Justin

  2. Abu Majeed says:

    Wa alaikum as-salam akhi Justin,

    There are three points in the application of logic to Shari’ah that we must never forget.

    #1 We believe in the “unseen” without question or complete understanding as a result of the many proofs which attest to the fact that Muhammad ibn Abdillah (pbuh) was indeed the final messenger of Allah.

    #2 Allah can only be known through authentic revelation and we cannot allow our logic to interpret Him (Exalted be He above that).

    #3 There are many rulings in Islamic Law (Fiqh) which our scholars have become certain about the purpose or reason of that ruling (al-‘illah). There are many rulings which we do not know the exact purpose or wisdom of it’s legislation, but we follow what has been related by the Prophet (pbuh) and understood by our scholars regardless. And of course there are some issue’s in which the scholars differed as to the reason or wisdom of a given ruling.

    The reality is that pretty much everyone is in agreement on #1.

    There have been some differences among application in Ahle Sunnah wal-Jama’ah about #2. There have also been people who went astray from not grasping #2.

    #3 should be only dealt with by scholars who have a strong background in Fiqh, Usool, and Arabic and have sat with scholars for no less than 5 years on a regular basis discussing the implications of such rulings and thier possible basis.

    So one way or another all scholars have studied and should as part of curriculum study the science of logic and its application. The problem is with commoners studying and not grasping the implication of applying logic to Shari’ah without grasping and applying the 3 principles I mentioned.

    Wallahu a’lam

  3. abuSakinah Ismail at-Tukuri says:

    As Salaamu Alaikum
    Sidi Suhaib

    You mention Imam al-Akhdari and his as-Sullam in your article. I and a group of students are studying this text presently. A question arose concerning Imam al-Akhdari, some brief biographical info, and maybe the circumstances behind his writing this text. Very little was found by our small modest group.

    Could you please share with me/us a little of what you can about Sheikh al-Akdhari?

    As Salaamu Alaikum
    Ismail

  4. shoaib says:

    well , how can you explain benefits of logics in islam ?

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