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The term philosophy as it is used today is much broader than what was meant by the term falsafa as used in the pre-modern Islamic tradition.

Whilst there is some overlap between the two, the correspondence is not one-to-one.

The Shaykh al-Azhar, Hasan al-Attar (d.1835 CE), whilst writing on Sujai's treatise on the Categories, provides one of the best explanations:

If you seek to understand what exactly is being disputed, then heed what is being said to you: the position that states all philosophy [hikma] is impermissible is an exaggeration, and that is because philosophy divides into two primary areas: theoretical and practical.

Practical philosophy then subdivides into household economics, politics, and ethics; and these three subjects were not given any importance in Islamic scholarship, as each of these pertains to practical life and shari'a has rendered them redundant.

As for theoretical philosophy, it also has three divisions: metaphysics (ilahiyat), mathematics (riyadiyat), and natural philosophy (tabi'iyat). Likewise, each one of these divisions has questions which are fundamental or primary, and others which are secondary or derivative.

Under mathematics fall the subjects of arithmetic and all its branches, and geometry, etc., and what rational person would say such subjects are prohibited knowing many shari'a laws are obviously dependent on them?

As for natural philosophy, it includes medicine and surgery, which are two of the most important and beneficial sciences none can dispense with, so all these sciences are furud kifaaya…

The subjects covered in modern philosophy cannot be found in any single subject in the Islamic tradition, whether it be falsafa or kalam.

The kalam tradition would address issues relating to epistemology, metaphysics, eschatology, religion and good and evil.

For more specific epistemological subjects, philosophy of language, interpretation and hermeneutics, one would have to consult the science of usul al-fiqh, a methodological science dealing with logic, language and interpretation of texts (hermeneutics).

Usul al- fiqh has practical applications, however can ve understood as a philosophy of interpretation and law.

The science of rhetoric parallels significant questions in contemporary philosophy that lack equivalents in kalam or peripatetic philosophy.

For questions relating to ethics and psychology, one would need to review the literature relating to sufism.

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