‘Ilm and Ma’rifah:Analysis of Science and Knowledge العلم والمعرفة


‘Ilm and Ma’rifah: Arabic Concepts  

Analysis of Science and Knowledge العلم والمعرفة

Prof. Hasan A. Yahya

This article was found in the author’s book: Crescentology: Theory C. of Conflict Management and Cultural Normalization, Createspace, 2009. However, I am in the middle of a research projects of two books: one on Ibn Khaldun in modern times, and the other about Muslim thinkers. I bring this article here may be the second time, to give an example how Muslims and Arabs were great in logic, literature and philosophy. I hope it will benefit those interested in Arabic culture and civilization. These projects are part of Ihya’ al Turath al Arabi fil Mahjar, initiated and financially supported by the writer.

Introduction

Knowing other language or languages is always a benefit for human being. It is –I believe- an important factor to enhance understanding among individuals as well as groups. Sometimes, however,  the  second to mother tongue language is reduce disability to understand  the real meaning of the written language. Because knowing languages without understanding the culture behind that language gives sometimes misunderstanding of the meaning of the concepts used . In this paper, illustration of such misunderstanding is given, then the two Arabic concepts “ ‘ILM and Ma’arifah” are explained. What exactly was misconceived in translation, with no intention of making that misconception. Some rules concludes the argument about the two concepts. ‘ILM (unlimited knowledge) and Ma’arifah (practical limited knowledge about something)

مقدمة ابن خلدون  تقديم الدكتور حسن يحيd www.hasanyahya.com

مقدمة ابن خلدون
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The Problem of Translation:

Rosenthal brought the following saying about knowledge (Ilm) in the forward of his book “Knowledge Triumph ”, He says:

“AL-‘ILMU shay’un la yu’tika ba’dahu hatta tu’tiyahu kullaka

fa-idhá  a’taytaho  kullaka fa-antá min i’ta’ihi laka  l-ba’da

‘ala khatarin.” (an-Nazzam as quoted by al-Jahiz)

Which reads in the written Arabic transcript as follows:

العلم شيء لا يعطيك بعضه،حتىتعطيه كلك،  فإذاأعطيته كلك فأنت من إعطائه لك البعض على خطر .”

Rosenthal Translated the above statement as follows:

“KNOWLEDGE  is something that will not give part of itself to you until you give your all to it. And when you give your all to it, then you stand a chance but you cannot be sure that it will give you that part.”

If you do not the original language, which is in this case Arabic, you might accept Rosenthal translation, and you might understand what the translation means to you or you might not if you do not understand  the meaning, which knowledge do you think was lacking? Yours or the translator’s? Which one you consider to be wrong? Is it the original writer or the reader? Think of this?

When I have read the Arabic saying five years ago, I did not understand it immediately, even I have a degree in Arabic literature, I read it again slowly, and asked myself: What did the author means? The statement was written in English, therefore, I began to transform it into Arabic, I read it ten times, and every time I discovered a new broader meaning than the  one before it. At last I-THINK- I understood the statement. Therefore, I want to explain it. Anyway, Rosenthal himself was guessing that he was wrong in the translation especially the last part of the statement.

image004Explanation:

The English translation have missed an important ingredient in the Arabic meaning. To explain what was missing, I will give the following simple question composed into mathematical equations, to illustrate the meaning.

IF  exchanging sum of (‘ilm)  = all man’s lifetime     (1)

THEN    All ( ‘ILM )    =     (What?)                 (2)

It equals Sum + Sum + Sum + … or lifetime1 « Lifetime2 + L3 +….      (3)

OR  1000 sums  (of ‘ILM) = 1000 men’s lifetime       (4)

BUT     ‘ILM  never  comes  to an end, which means that all human race lives from Adam to the Day of Judgment will not pay for a complete possession of the unlimited ‘ILM (such ‘ILM is only possessed by Allah-ST, which is the belief of the original author.)

THEN  we can deduce the following equation:

All sums  of ‘ILM    =  All human’s lifetime in all generations       (5)

Furthermore, here is another example:

It is like someone lived 100 years, and wanted to buy a cat which cost for example ( US$200.00), how much ten bills he needs to pay the full price of the cat? Suppose each piece of the ten bill, equals one’s lifetime, (in the above example), and the cat (as in the example-means ’ILM). If you understand this reasoning, THEN you will understand the statement. In conclusion to the above argument, Rosenthal’s translation was incomplete, and may misleading to the point made by the one who said that wisdom.

  الكاتب الأديب العربي الفلسطيني www.hasanyahya.comالدكتور حسن يحيى

الكاتب الأديب العربي الفلسطيني
http://www.hasanyahya.comالدكتور حسن يحيى

According to  the above reasoning, it would be understood that the concept of ‘ILM cannot be obtained in one’s lifetime, because it needs to be obtained in full not parts, so it will take a number of human lifetimes to be completed, and it will never will, because Human beings might discover something today, or tomorrow, they will remain disabled to get to the end of knowledge-‘ILM. Such ability far from achieving in one’s or several or all lifetimes .So, after this reasoning, I will provide my own understanding for the above statement in Arabic to mean in English, the following:

‘Ilm is (like something does not give you some of it, unless you give him back your whole life – efforts and commitments-. When  you acquire more over your limits, (and are already give your lifetime for it, another some of ‘ILM needs another person to continue getting another some of knowledge-‘ILM. To acquire another chunk of ‘ILM you don’t have your lifetime available after your death, in this case another lifetime is needed to continue with knowledge, In such bargain , you want to have another some, but you cannot get it, because you cannot provide your lifetime again, you are dead, as human who have only one lifetime – it is a weak position), THEN you are in danger, someone else will replace you to give his lifetime for another sum of knowledge.”

This saying can be explained as a wisdom provided for human beings, to learn about their limitations in terms of time and ability to acquire knowledge-“ILM, as humans compared to the  unlimited ‘ILM of Allah (SWT).

www.hasanyahya.com  الكاتب المعجزة

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الكاتب المعجزة

Allah’s (SWT) ‘ILM and Human knowledge:

Understanding this point well.  Ibn Khaldun have distinguished between the knowledge of human beings, in terms of one’s limited lifetime and ability and the ‘ILM of God, He first makes ridicules  of human beings who believed that they know everything other than their observation mechanisms, He says:

“ …redicule   and never rely upon those who tell you that the human mind is able to understand the whole World and its underlying causes. You should know that the world is to every observer, what normally can be observed by his observational means. But the TRUTH is very far beyond that ……………….” ( Baaly and Wardeh 1981:535)

Comparing human knowledge with Allah’s (SWT) ‘ILM, concerning observable religious knowledge Ibn Khaldun continues to explain human’s disability and imperfectness in the realm of religion, He says:

“ Allah’s (SwT) creation is unlimited.   The world is a topic to be wholly restricted within the boundaries of our knowledge. You should-therefore-belittle the ability of your mind and obey what the Prophet (SAAS) had told you about beliefs and actions. (Because, he, the Prophet) knows things you do not know about. And his mind reaches far beyond the limit of your mind.” (Ibid:536)

Philosophically speaking, the statements of an-Nazzam and Ibn Khldun are, in fact wisdoms for human beings, to understand their limitations and imperfectness. ‘ILM is not only the knowledge of yesterday and today, but also the knowledge of tomorrow. The concept ‘ILM the three time dimensions of time, space, direction, and space. While human beings covers only small part of yesterday and today, with no knowledge whatsoever of tomorrow.

The Value of Knowledge Among Muslims:

Islam valued knowledge as supreme function of human beings, but humans acquire knowledge falls short of expressing all the real and emotional content of ‘ILM. In a friendly talk with professor Taha Jabir al-Alwani, the then, president of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT in Washington D.C.,) he contrasted the concept ‘ILM as a large store full of knowledge, with knowledge as a small part of taken from that store. Such knowledge might be natural, or social, or behavioral science, acquired by human beings. Further, the concept of ‘ILM have dominated Islamic belief and given certain destinations to Islamic civilization. ‘ILM has been explained as a joint meaning with Islam as religious principle. The Prophet (SAAS) says:

“إن هذا الدين علم فانظروا عمن تأخذون دينكم ” رواه مسلم

           “Ina  hathá ad-dina ‘ilmun  fan-thuroo ‘amman ta’khuthoona deenakum” (Narrated by Muslim)

Which may be translated as” This religion is ‘ILM, so see from whom you take your religion.” Describing the importance of ‘ILM concept, Rosenthal says:

“There is no other concept that has been operative as a determinant of Muslim civilization in all its aspects to the same extent as “ILM.” (1970:2). This meaning was expressed as dominating all aspects of the intellectual life, Rosenthal continues to say: “ there is no branch of Muslim intellectual life of Muslim religious and political life, and of the daily life of the average Muslim that remains untouched by the all-pervasive attitude toward knowledge as something of supreme value for Muslim being.”

Rules and Principles:

According to the above argument the following rules can be drown:

Understanding cultures increases the ability of understanding their language;

acquiring knowledge and acquiring Islam are one united phenomenon;

‘ILM is absolute and knowledge is concrete, therefore, ‘ILM is greater than knowledge;

‘ILM cannot be acquired totally in one of human life or all human lives on the earth, while knowledge can be acquired in terms of human intellectual and physical ability;

‘ILM is the domain of God (SWT), where knowledge is the domain of human beings in terms of their physical, mental ability and experience;

‘ILM of all human beings from Adam to the last person on earth, where the Day of Judgment about nature of things and human beings is only Allah’s (SWT) domain; Finally;

Ascribed or achieved knowledge by human beings is only one small portion  of Allah’s (SWT) ‘ILM.

The Meaning of the Concepts ‘ilm and Ma’rifa:

The following pages describes the meaning of the two concepts:” ‘ILM and Ma’arifah “ as they used and explained by Arab poets and Linguistic Muslim intellectuals and as they mean in the Islamic culture and philosophy.

The term “ ‘ILM”  is an Arabic concept for acquiring knowledge,  The roots of the concept ‘ILM  (Knowledge- or – science) may found where people cannot KNOW more than Allah (ST) (2:140/134); Angels only KNOW what Allah (ST) has taught them (2:32/30); Nothing  of divine  knowledge  can be  known  without  his  will.  (2:255/256) ; Prophets knowledge (7:62/60); The holy book (7:52/50); Faith allow knowledge (3:71).

‘ILm  and Ma’rifa appear once paired in a phrase which  usually, employs only ‘ILM (30:56); “Believing”  and  “being  gives knowledge”,   appear  as  parallel expression in (Q. 58:11/12) (2:26/24); The root of the  word ‘ILM mentioned in Qur’an 750 times, 750/78,000 = 1% of Qur’an is about Ilm. The auxiliary verb k-w-n (to be) occurs 1,300 times; the unavoidable q-w-l (to say) is found almost 1,700 times; the words of Allah (SWT) occur over than 2,800 occurences; while RABB (Master , Lord) over than 950 occurences. These two statements are type of knowledge.

تفسير سورة يس باللغتين  للدكتور حسن يحيى  www.hasanyahya.com

تفسير سورة يس باللغتين
للدكتور حسن يحيى
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The truth came as “ Yaqin” (102:5-7); and  “Haqq” (56:95 and 69:51); and Haqq-ul-yaqin   is either “truth” (resulting   from    certain information or “truth” (is certain ). The later interpretation assumes identity of meaning for Haqq and Yaqin.  (Tafsir at-Tabari XXVII, 110 f Cairo 1321)

In favor of understanding ‘ilm-ul-yaqin not as rendering or “the knowledge of truth but as in the  adverbial expression it may be claimed that we have a parallel list between it and the following –‘ayn-ulyaqin- which can mean only “seeing with the

eye of certainty,” representing an adverbial construction. ‘i-l-m  (to know);  ‘i-l-m  (to sign, to mark, to document); ‘aalam (eternity-universe); ‘il’m (knowledge) is opposite of j-h-l (ignorance); n-k-r or j-h-l are opposite of to know; j-w-ì  (ignnorance  of places, means to go around aimlessly. According to Arab life in the desert,  star or moon or other signs of knowing leads to life, and ignorance of signs in a desert leads to death. The word “dalil- way is a sign or knowledge for safety,

شاعرات العرب : غادة السمان

شاعرات العرب : غادة السمان

‘Ilm in Arabic Poetry

The pre-Islamic Arabia, sha’ir is meant originally as one who knows, shi’r is knowledge or mental activity, like reading, and writing, An-Nabighah adh-Thubyani says: ” He who is ignorant of something is not like, the one who knows”

Qur’an asks:  Are those who know and those who do not know equals? (Q 39:9/12)

Bishr b. Abi Khazim exclaims dramatically: Is the experienced person like the one who does not know?! Tarafah’s in his Mu’allaqah (long poem) says: “The days will show you what you are ignorant of, and someone for whom you did not provide (as your messenger) will bring you the news.”

A’sha Jillan, the poet  says:

” If you desire knowledge or the like

OR someone present giving information about

someone absent,

Probe the earth with all its objects (asma’iha)

And probe companion with companion.”

Zuhayr b. Abi Salma says:

” I know about today, and yesterday, before it,

But I am blind to the knowledge of what is going

to be tomorrow.”

The same thought was expressed, for instance, by other pre-Islamic poets like: Tarafah ibn al-Abd: “ The  woman who blamed me says although she does not have  Knowledge of what is to be tomorrow and thereafter..”.   Further there is knowledge beyond human being reach but within the power of omniscient deity, Zuhayr bin Abi Salma says: ” You should not conceal from God what is in your minds,  in the hope that it will remain secret, whatever may be concealed from God, He knows.” Noldeke  reports  that Zuhayr’s Mu’allaqah is to be dated around 600 A.D. when the Prophet was 30 years old.

Antara b. Shaddad www.hasanyahya.com

Antara b. Shaddad
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Antarah bin Shaddad in his Mu’allaqah says: “ Why do not you ask the people, O daughter of Malik, If you are ignorant of what you do not KNOW”. And says: ” I do know in a way that is different from, guesswork (‘ilman laysa bithanni), When a man’s master is lowly, he himself is, too” and Says: “  KNOW, woman that I am a man,”.

Qays b. al-Khatim says: ” We have inherited glory, the Ma’add KNOWs,” And Imru’ul Qays says: “ I am the one whose excellence the Ma’add KNOWS”. Tarafah again says: “ The Bakr (tribe) KNOWS that we…” A’sha Hamdan says: “The tribe KNOWS .. that you.. “ A’sha Maymun says: “ The people have come to KNOW,” and Finally A’sha Hamdan says: “ The horses (khayl) KNOW .. that you..”

Definition of Ma’arifah (Knowledge)

A. Knowledge is the process of knowing and identical with the known and the known of it as attribute enabling known to know.

image001KNOWLEDGE was defined by al-Ghazzali in Mustasfa:

  1. through which one knows;
  2. through which the essence is knowing;
  3. through which the object known (al-ma’lum) is known.
  4. through which the knower knows the object known.
  5. through which the knower is knowing.
  6. which necessitates for  whom is substitute the name of  The knower.
  7. which necessitates that he in whom it subsists is knowing.    (This definition is ascribed to al-Ash’ari).
  8. which  necessitates that he is whom is resided (mahall in knowing. (Imam al-Haramayn).
  9. knowledge  stands for the object known.

10. knowledge  is but the concept known (al-ma’ni al-ma’lumah).

11.  is the mentally existing object (al-mawjud adh-dhihni).

12.  is  the attribute through which the knower knows.

13.   is an attribute through which he who is alive becomes knowing.

14. knowledge  is as attribute expressing the relationship. (idafiyyah) between the knower and the object known.

15. is  an  attribute through which the conditions  or  the object known becomes clear as they are (‘ala ma huwa ‘alayhe  min ahwalihi).

The concept of Ma’arifah (Knowledge) means the following:

  • Knowledge is cognition, a process of obtaining      or finding    through mental      perception.
  • A process of clarification, assertion and      decision, (bayyana, mayyaza, athbata, qata’a), it is for  (surah)  a concept of meaning.      (ma’na)
  • A process of mental formation and imagination        (tasawwor)
  • “perceptions          and/or    mental         verification    (tasdiq)
  • “appreciation”) for knowledge   as tasdiq “faith”.
  •   is a belief, this       conception  of  knowledge is philosophical  in origin       was basically Mu’tazilat doctrine       to   be refuted by the      argument that God could not by  thought or believing.
  • Knowledge       is remembrance, imagination, an image a vision as opinion, and is a      motion.
  • Knowledge is       a relative term.       Aristotelian idea.
  • It is may be defined in relation to action. Aristotelianism       clamed that “knowledge was the beginning of action, and action the      entelechy of knowledge.”
  • And is conceived as the negation of ignorance.
  • Knowledge, is the result of an intuition coming      from outside or as a result of introspection.

* Knowledge in Islam: (Theology and Religious   sciences), it is the Light (Sufism), the society.

  • ‘ilm- a’mal- adaab (knowledge, action, and  general education. and finally,

Knowledge is Thought [Philosophy]

______________________________________

References

Baali,  F.  and Wardi. (1981) Ibn Khaldun and Islamic Thought Styles: A Social Perspective, Boston: Hall and Co.,

Ibn Khaldun,  al-Muqaddimah (Dar al-Qalam, Beirut, Lebanon-Arabic Version,(1978)

The Holy Qur’an, (1977) (transl. Ali  A.  Yusuf, Americaî Trust Publication.

Rosenthal, F. (1970)  Knowledge  Triumphant: The concept of knowledge , in Medieval Islam, Netherlands, Leiden: E.J.Brill.

Diwan al-Shi’ir: for Antara, Zuhair, Antara, etc.,

Yahya, Hasan A. Crescentology: Theory C. of Conflict Management and Cultural Normalization, Amazon, 2009.

يرجى التكرم بعد قراءة هذه المقالة إذا وافقت هوى في نفوسكم أن تخبروا أصدقاءكم لتعم الفائدة من المعلومات فيها، وشكرا لكم.

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image002Hasan Yahya is an Arab-Jordanian-American born in Palestine. Sociologist and Historian, former professor of Comparative Sociology and Educational Administration at Michigan State University and Jackson Community College. He is the Board Editing member at International Humanities Studies (IHS) Journal.  Dr. Yahya is the originator of Arab American Encyclopedia and Ihyaa al Turath al Arabi fil Mahjar-USA. His (250 plus) publication may be observed on Amazon and Kindle. To reach the writer: Email: askdryahya@yahoo.com

Dr. Yahya Credentials: Ph.D in Comparative Socioloy 1991, Michigan State University.Ph.D in Educational Administration, Michigan State Univ. M.A Psychology of Schhols Conflict Management, Michigan State Univ. Diploma M.A, Oriental Studies, St. Joseph Univ. Beirut, Lebanon.  B.A Modern and Classical Arab Literature.  Life Achievements: Publishing 250 plus Books and 1000 plus articles

image003

About Arab American Encyclopedia-USA - Hasan Yahya

HASAN YAHYA was born at a small village called Majdal-YaFa (Majdal Sadiq) in Mandate Palestine (1944). He migrated as a refugee to Mes-ha, a village east of Kufr Qasim, west of Nablus (in the West Bank), then moved with his family to Zarka, 25 km north of Amman – Jordan. He finished the high school at Zarka Secondary School, 1963. He was appointed as a teacher in the same year. Studied Law first at Damascus University, then B.A from Lebanon University in Arabic literature and Eastern Cultures (1975). He moved to Kuwait. Where he got married in 1967. He was working at Kuwait Television, taught at bilingual School, and Kuwait University. In 1982, Hasan left to the United States to continue his education at Michigan State University. He got the Master Degree in 1983, the Ph.D degree in 1988 in Education (Psychology of Administration ). In 1991, He obtained his post degree in Social research, the result was a second Ph.D degree in Comparative sociology-Social Psychology. He was the only Arab student who enrolled ever to pursue two simultaneous Ph.D programs from Michigan State University and fulfill their requirements perfectly. Professor Yahya employment history began as a supervisor of a joint project to rehabilitate Youth (inmates out of prison) by Michigan State University and Intermediate School Districts. Worked also as a Teacher Assistant and lecturer in the same university. He was offered a position at Lansing Community College as well as Jackson Community College where he was assistant professor, then associate professor, then full professor (1991-2006). He taught Sociology, psychology, education, criminology and research methods. He supervised 19 Master and Ph.D candidates on various personal, economic psychological and social development topics. Professor Yahya published Hundreds (1000 Plus on this site) of articles and research reports in local, regional, and international journals. His interest covers local, regional and global conflicts. He also authored, translated, edited and published over 280 plus books in several languages, in almost all fields especial education, sociology and psychology. These books can be found on Amazon and Kindle. He also, was a visiting professor at Eastern Michigan University to give Research Methods and Conflict Management courses. Prof. Yahya accepted an offer to join Zayed University Faculty Team in 1998, then he served as the Head of Education and Psychology Department at Ajman University of Science and Technology 2001-04. Dr. Yahya established several institutes in Diaspora, the Arab American Encyclopedia, Ihyaa al Turath al Arabi Project, (Revival of Arab Heritage in Diaspora.Recently he was nominated for honorary committee member for the Union of Arab and Muslim Writers in America. He was affiliated with sociological associations and was a member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) at USA. Social Activities and Community Participation: Dr. Yahya was a national figure on Diversity and Islamic Issues in the United States, with special attention to Race Relations and Psychology of Assimilation (generations 1,2 &3). He was invited as a public speaker to many TV shows and interviews in many countries. His philosophy includes enhancing knowledge to appreciate the others, and to compromise with others in order to live peacefully with others. This philosophy was the backgrounds of his theory, called “ Theory C. of Conflict Management”. And developed later to a Science of Cultural Normalization under the title: “Crescentology. The results of such theory will lead to world peace depends on a global Knowledge, Understanding, appreciation, and Compromising (KUAC)” Recently Prof. Yahya started "Publish your book FREE Project", to serve young Arab Writers. Dr. Yahya accepted the offer to be the chief editor of the International Humanities Studies Journal -I-H-S-Jerusalem, since July 2014. (Revised Sept. 2014) ولد الدكتور حسن عبدالقادر يحيى في مجدل يابا من أعمال يافا – فلسطين عام 1944. تلقى علومه الابتدائية في مدرسة بديا الأميرية في الضفة الغربية أيام احتوائها ضمن المملكة الأدردنية الهاشمية وتخرج في جامعة بيروت حاملاً الإجازة في اللغة العربية وآدابها، ودبلوم التأهيل التربوي من كلية القديس يوسف بلبنان، ودبلوم الدراسات العليا (الماجستير) ودكتوراة في الإدارة التربوية من جامعة ولاية ميشيغان بالولايات المتحدة عام 1988، وشهادة الدكتوراه في علم الاجتماع المقارن من الجامعة نفسها عام 1991. عمل في التدريس والصحافة الأدبية. أديب وشاعر وقاص ، ,كما عمل في تلفزيون الكويت الرسمي كمعد ومنسق برامج ثم اتجه إلى الكتابة والتأليف في علوم كثيرة تخص علمي النفس والاجتماع والتنمية البشرية ، والتغير الاجتماعي والسكان وألف ونشر العديد من المقالات (1000 +) والكتب باللغتين العربية والإنجليزية (أكثر من 330 كتابا) ، منها ست مجموعات قصصية وست كتب للأطفال ، وأربع دواوين شعرية باللغتين أيضا. وعدد من كتب التراث في الشعر والأدب والأخلاق الإسلامية والتربية والأديان . وهو الآن أستاذ متقاعد في جامعة ولاية ميشيغان. . وكان عضوا سابقا في جمعية العلماء المسلمين في أمريكا . وجمعية علماء الاجتماع الأمريكية - ميشيغان، وهو مؤسس الموسوعة العربية الأمريكية في الولايات المتحدة ضمن مشروع إحياء التراث العربي في بلاد المهجرز كما تم ترشيحه مؤخرا ليكون عضو مجلس التحرير لمجلة الدراسات الإنسانية العالمية. وقد قبل أن يتسلم رئاسة تحريرها اعتبارا من نهاية يونيو 2014 His email: askdryahya@yahoo.com Thank you!
This entry was posted in Arab Affairs, Arab American Encyclopedia, Arab Literature, Arab Manifesto, Crescentology, Dryahyatv, Hasan Yahya حسن يحيى, Ibn Khaldun ابن خلدون،, Islam & Muslim Affairs, Knowledge Base, Philosophy & Logic, Quotes of Wisdom, Science, socio-therapy, حضارة عرب، and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to ‘Ilm and Ma’rifah:Analysis of Science and Knowledge العلم والمعرفة

  1. Nafees says:

    Muslims must read this blog, better for ’em🙂 Nice job

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