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Al-Attas' conception of language and his utilization of semantic analysis

Ahmad, Salina (2017) Al-Attas' conception of language and his utilization of semantic analysis. PhD thesis, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.


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Recent developments in the modern Muslim thoughts have revealed the misusages and corruptions in various key-terms and important concepts of Islamic worldview. Basic vocabulary in the Quranic Arabic as well as the Islamic languages have been contaminated, causing confusion of Islamic worldview and its religious and ethical contents. Language (bayan) as the tool of the worldview of Islam consisting of a set of basic vocabulary is supposed to be correctly understood in order for its correct meanings (ma‘ani) to be preserved. Hence, this study sought to analyze both the concept of language in the worldview of Islam and the utilization of semantic analysis to attain to reality and truth (aqiqah) according to the way of thinking of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas. The analysis was conducted based on all his published works, recorded lectures and interviews in relation to linguistic trends in Islamic tradition and the contemporary Muslim world. Al-Attas has explained the phenomenon of “secularization of language and thought” from which stems the core problem of Muslims which is the “confusion and error in Islamic knowledge and its worldview” (1978). He argues compellingly that language is something divinely inborn in individuals, that language projects worldview and ontology, and that Arabic has a special position of being the language of final revelation as well as having scientific character. He has also employed the methodology of semantic analysis in his metaphysical and ethico-religious framework which can be explicated under eight semantic fields of Wujud, Mahiyyah and Dhat, ?aqq and ?aqiqah, Shuhud, Din, Insan and Bashar, ‘Adl and Sa‘adah. This study considers that al-Attas’ semantic analysis is a sound methodology in the modern Islamic discourse to solve the problem of confusion and errors in Islamic knowledge and its worldview and in its legal-ethical framework. This is because firstly, semantic analysis is historically one of the major methods which safeguard the correct meanings of the key-terms of the Islamic worldview from corruptions; and secondly, its procedures and processes are compatible with the interpretation of Islamic texts, from which the understanding of Islam is derived. In the light of al-Attas’ conception of language and his utilization of semantic analysis, the study suggests this methodology as a better solution to contemporary scholars as well as preserving one of the prominent methodologies which was once used in the Islamic intellectual tradition.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:modern Muslim thoughts, language, contemporary Muslim world
Subjects:P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions:Language Academy
ID Code:92233
Deposited By: Narimah Nawil
Deposited On:28 Sep 2021 15:12
Last Modified:28 Sep 2021 15:12

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