Which aspects differ between science’ and Ilm علم?

The Arabic term for science, Ilm (علم), is linguistically closely related to ‘knowledge’ in its broader meaning. Furthermore, The Muslim scholars’ concept of Ilm is not vastly different than the linguistic connotation,but it  has a finer detailing and balanced criteria of its inputs and outputs. Also,

 the initial criteria of reaching a conclusion is wider and more precise, as it covers the methodologies, nature and leveled classification of proofs and conclusions. 

Many Islamic methodologists, [1] in the branch of Islamic knowledge known as Fiqh, have agreed that the definition of Ilm, the closest term to ‘science’ in the western academia, is- The perception of a thing, or a meaning, exactly as it is in reality. This perception can be further classified into two sub-categories:

1) Inevitable- which is acquired without scientific methodology or complex reasoning,


2) Reasonable- which is acquired through reasoning and scientific thinking.

With regards to the reasoning process, then it is established through specific and solid foundations and standards with different classifications of proofs and different levels of certainty on the conclusion made through these proofs. Not only is it to classify the proofs and levels of knowledge, but it is also to search deeper in the wordings and finest details of each proof, weighting it with different classifications: general or specific, obvious or complex, simple or intricate, real or figurative, detailed or abridged …etc.

1. There is a specific branch of knowledge in Islam called ‘Usool Al-Fiqh’. The scope of this branch of knowledge is to examine, classify, investigate the authenticity and inauthenticity of proofs and strategies of harmonizing its contradictions. The specialist in this science is called Usooli –Islamic methodologist.