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For jurisprudence to be scientific, its interrogation of the textual sources must be falsifiable. In other words, it must view the text as a phenomenon and seek to confirm the presence of a specific expression. Examples of falsifiable interrogations (in Islamic jurisprudence) are:

1-      The Quran says that qatl (murder) is haram (prohibited). [True]

2-      The Quran says that we must fast the month of Rajab. [False]

Hypotheses must be spelled out in the most transparent of manners and an exact match or mismatch in the text is to be sought. This of course means an ultra literalist approach that doesn’t go beyond the combination of letters and words queried (not so different from using the CTRL+F function).

However, jurisprudence never limits itself to such literal approaches and readily lends itself to an interrogation of the Authors “intention”. If the expressed text is to be considered a phenomenon, then the Author’s intention is perhaps similar to a noumenon, and its interrogation is necessarily metaphysical and non-falsifiable. A jurist must induce the intention of the Author and establish a Universal before starting a series of deductions. This is not scientific, for the jurist can never confirm the intention of the Author since it is not apparent and does not yield itself to confirmation. Therefore, the scientific nature of jurisprudence/fiqh is proportional with the level of literalism it exhibits and with its commitment to querying the nas (explicit/evident text).

Likewise, Biology is only scientific as long as it commits itself to a “literal” methodology in querying Nature and the phenomenon of Life. Once Biology begins to assume an “intention” and ventures on inducing that intention, it leaves the arena of falsifiable hypotheses and enters the area of metaphysics. Modern Biology has induced that the intention of Nature is “survival of the fittest”. It is one thing to observe, hypothesize and confirm that species change with the passage of time, and it is a completely different endeavor to induce that this change is part of a selection process. To invoke selection necessitates the presence of “criteria”, which in this case is fitness or the ability to survive. The Modern Biologist thus created a Universal that lead to several devastating deductions such as eugenics and the Holocaust. Therefore, the scientific nature of biology is proportional with the level of literalism it exhibits and with its commitment to querying living organisms.

Intentions assume a purposeful conscious being. Interrogating intentions is not falsifiable (if we have no direct access to the Author), and therefore non-scientific. However, can interrogating intentions be a disciplined practice? A discipline is different from a science, for the former rests upon certain accepted a priori “principles” while the second rests upon the ability to falsify hypotheses (in a sense Science is a discipline, but not all disciplines are “scientific”). Therefore, jurisprudence and biology can both interrogate intentions as a discipline, but not a science.

To speak of a discipline is to recognize specific established principles which aid in the interrogation of intentions. Furthermore, “interpretation” of text (or Nature), that is, pursuing the “meaning” intended by the Author, can only be conducted when intention is recognized. In other words, interpretation can only occur after establishing principles which aid in [non-scientific] interrogation of the Author’s intentions. An interpretative community is one that agrees on a set of mentioned principles and practice a certain discipline. The more a discipline inquires into intentions, the more it departs from being scientific, since the intended meaning can render the evident phenomena insignificant.

The intended meaning informs the bias of the interrogator, leading to an unequal distribution of significance amongst observed phenomena. Therefore, once jurisprudence or biology depart from the strictly literal approach (and they are bound to), they become biased interrogative disciplines.

Tangent: However, what if we treat jurisprudence and biology, not as an interrogative endeavor, but as a practical one? That is; as disciplines concerned with the production or operation of something useful. If falsification is the corner stone of Science, then what enterprise is hinged not on falsification, but on utility? Utilitarianism. Yet, utilitarianism is inseparable from prediction, which is another departure from the phenomenal and another form of interrogating the hidden.

Bias in interrogation is inevitable, it seems. However, can bias be methodical? I don’t know, and it’s worth researching. I do recall Mona Abul-Fadl writing along those lines. It would probably involve some form of circular or spiral ascent towards refining and continuously optimizing the bias.

Enough for now.

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