Studying Philosophy

Jan 13, 2023 | Aqidah (Belief)


Children in Year 9 have to choose their GCSE subject options with one of the options being REP – Religion, ethics and philosophy.

This subject requires studying with an ‘open mind’ and one of the topics is arguing for and against ’ the existence of God.*

Is it permissible, disliked or recommended against teenage children to study this subject at GCSE level. As many great scholars of our Ummah like Imam Ghazali have categorised such sciences as harmful and blameworthy knowledge.


Philosophy, in its classic usage, entails the study of logic, ethics, metaphysics, natural sciences and mathematics, but in contemporary times, we usually refer to the first three fields. If one has sound knowledge of Islamic theology, is attached to the ulama and wishes to study ethics, philosophy and so forth to sharpen their mind, learn how to debate and formulate arguments, and safeguard the religion through their efforts, then there is scope for permissibility. However, your question relates to allowing teenage children to study these subjects in a secular environment.

Parents should approach these issues with great care and sensitivity. Unfortunately, the large majority of RE teachers that I have encountered in the UK are hard atheists or non-religious. Therefore, our Muslim youth are often severely challenged in classroom environments as these topics are approached from an antagonistic angle.

For many of our youth, their first exposure to these questions could be a hostile environment, which is dangerous for their faith. Psychologically, our first exposure to a subject is the yardstick through which we judge other truth claims. Therefore, if this is a compulsory and unavoidable subject at school, you must send your children to classes where they can access this information from an Islamic perspective.

A foundational point I want you to take away from this answer is that Muslims do not need to feel inferior about their faith. Philosophical excellence reached the Europeans through Islamic efforts. As such, our Islamic tradition has a lengthy and rich tradition of engaging in these discussions. These questions are not new and have been addressed differently by almost a millennia of scholars. Young Muslims require a scholar to transmit this information to them; this is where a competent local Imam or maktab teacher is necessary.

The Whitethread Institute runs a pre-recorded course called “Crisis in Faith”, which may benefit some mature teenagers on these pertinent questions. The Sapience Institute also has a lot of free content available. You or a family member could also take this course and instruct your children on these matters. However, self-studying will not allow confused minds to navigate the treacherous waters of our times. All individuals must keep in regular contact with scholars, seeking their guidance. This is fundamental for all individuals throughout their various life stages. Therefore, ensure your children have a local imam or maktab teacher that can be a point of contact for them.

حاشية ابن عابدين = رد المحتار ط الحلبي» (1/ 43): ومندوبا، وهو التبحر في الفقه وعلم القلب. وحراما، وهو علم ‌الفلسفة والشعبذة والتنجيم […] (قوله: ‌الفلسفة) هو لفظ يوناني، وتعريبه الحكم المموهة: أي مزينة الظاهر فاسدة الباطن، كالقول بقدم العالم وغيره من المكفرات والمحرمات ط. وذكر في الإحياء أنها ليست علما برأسها بل هي أربعة أجزاء: أحدها: الهندسة والحساب، وهما مباحان، ولا يمنع منهما إلا من يخاف عليه أن يتجاوزهما إلى علوم مذمومة. والثاني: المنطق، وهو بحث عن وجه الدليل وشروطه ووجه الحد وشروطه، وهما داخلان في علم الكلام. والثالث: الإلهيات، وهو بحث عن ذات الله تعالى وصفاته، انفردوا فيه بمذاهب بعضها كفر وبعضها بدعة. والرابع: الطبيعيات، وبعضها مخالف للشرع، وبعضها بحث عن صفات الأجسام وخواصها وكيفية استحالتها وتغيرها، وهو شبيه بنظر الأطباء، إلا أن الطبيب ينظر في بدن الإنسان على الخصوص من حيث يمرض ويصح، وهم ينظرون في جميع الأجسام من حيث تتغير وتتحرك، ولكن للطب فضل عليه لأنه محتاج إليه. وأما علومهم في الطبيعيات فلا حاجة إليها اهـ»

Answered by:
Ifta Research Fellow

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel