The Idea of Islamization of Knowledge by Al-Attas

 In this modern era, there are many branches of knowledge learned by Muslim student in several Islamic countries as well as non-Islamic one. As widely known, that knowledge is produced by Western scientists who are materialistic and free of any religion value. As a result, that knowledge doesn’t consist of Islamic value. These scientists also said that knowledge is neutral, scientific and must be free of any value because it is obtained by continually researched experiments.

 For that knowledge is free of values, we call it secular knowledge. Al-Attas (1993:16) in his ‘Islam and Secularism’ has explained that the term secular comes from the Latin ‘saeculum’, conveys a meaning with a marked dual connotation of time and location; the time referring to the ‘now’ or ‘present’ sense of it, and the location to the ‘world’ or ‘worldly’ sense of it. Thus saeculum means ‘this age’ or ‘the present time’, and it refers to the contemporary events of this world. Secularization is defined also as the deliverance of man “first from religious and then from metaphysical control over his reason and his language”.

According to al-Attas (in Al-Migdadi: 2011), the education system becomes secular if: a) the education philosophy is not based on the teachings of Islam; b) the subjects being taught were detached from the Islamic foundations c) the curriculum was not founded on Islam and d) in the absence of the Islamic value system. These four things are apparent in Muslim countries’ education system, like Indonesia etc. That’s why Islamization of knowledge must be done, unless of course that secular knowledge will be learned by Muslim student and can drive Muslim’s mind becomes secular.

Additionally, Al-Attas (1993:162) strongly asserts that knowledge, as it is understood today, has been interpreted from the western point of view. It is urgent to Islamize that modern knowledge through following stages. First, the isolation process of Western elements and concepts from the body of knowledge, and second the infusion process of Islamic elements and key concepts into the body of knowledge. That was said by al-Attas that the aim and objective of Islamization of contemporary knowledge is to protect Muslims from corrupted knowledge that misguides and leads to confusion and skepticism of Muslim minds.

Al-Attas further proclaims that knowledge cannot be detached from value of religion (Al-Migdadi: 2011). This statement was based on a verse on Quran. “And that those who have been given knowledge may know that it (this Qur’an) is the truth from your Lord, and that they may believe therein, and their hearts may submit to it with humility. And verily, Allah is the Guide of those who believe, to the Straight Path” (al-Hajj: 54). For the knowledge cannot be separated from religion, and the religion was obviously Islam, thus all kind of knowledge should contain Islamic values.

 The most important thing that may be missed by many Muslim thinkers is al-adab (good deed). Adab is an essential thing that must be attached on every Muslim student for without adab, knowledge is no use (Al-Attas: 1993). Our Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s peace be upon him, was sent to this world to fulfill human’s akhlaq. Over forty years, before he became Prophet he has shown his people how to behave kindly and politely. No wonder he entitled by Al-Amin. Then, the first wahyu (revealed knowledge) was sent down through Jibril. “Proclaim! (Read!) In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created- Created man, out of a mere clot of congealed blood. Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful. He Who taught (the use of) the pen. Taught man that which he knew not” (Al- Alaq: 1-5).


  • Al-Attas, S. M. N. (1993). Islam and Secularism. (2nd edition). Kuala Lumpur: Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization.
  • Al-Migdadi, M.H. Issues in Islamization of Knowledge, Man and Education. Revue Academique des sciences humaines et sociales. 2011, No.7 p3-16.

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