37. Study of the auxiliary sciences should not be
prolonged, and their problems should
not be treated in detail


It 1172 should be known that the sciences customarily known among civilized people are of two kinds. There are the sciences that are wanted per se, such as the religious sciences of Qur'an interpretation, Prophetic traditions, jurisprudence, and speculative theology, and the physical and metaphysical sciences of philosophy. In addition, there are sciences that are instrumental and auxiliary to the sciences mentioned. Among such auxiliary sciences are Arabic philology, arithmetic, and others, which are auxiliary to the religious sciences, and logic which is auxiliary to philosophy and often also to speculative theology and the science of the principles of jurisprudence (when treated) according to the method of recent scholars.1173

In the case of the sciences that are wanted (per se), it does no harm to extend their discussion, to treat their problems in detail, and to present all the evidence and (all the different) views (which exist concerning them). It gives the student of them a firmer habit and clarifies the ideas they contain which one wants to know. But the sciences that are auxiliary to other sciences, such as Arabic philology, logic, and the like, should be studied only in so far as they are aids to the other (sciences). Discussion of them should not be prolonged, and the problems should not be treated in detail, as this would lead away from their purpose, and their purpose is (to facilitate understanding of) the sciences to which they are auxiliary, nothing else. Whenever the (auxiliary sciences) cease to be (auxiliary to other sciences), they abandon their purpose, and occupation with them becomes an idle pastime.

Moreover, 1174 it is (also) difficult to acquire the habit of them, because they are large subjects with many details. Their (difficulty) is often an obstacle to acquiring the sciences wanted per se, because it takes so long to get to them. How­ever, they are more important, and life is too short to acquire a knowledge of everything in this (thorough) form. Thus, occupation with the auxiliary sciences constitutes a waste of one's life, occupation with something that is of no concern. 1175

Recent scholars have done this with grammar and logic and even with the principles of jurisprudence. They have prolonged the discussion of these disciplines both 1176 by trans­mitting (more material) and (by adding to the material) through deductive reasoning. They have increased the number of details and problems, 1177 causing them to be no longer auxiliary sciences, but disciplines that are wanted per se. In consequence, (the auxiliary sciences) often deal with views and problems for which there is no need in the disciplines that are wanted per se (and are the sole raison d'etre of the auxiliary sciences). Thus, they are a sort of idle pastime and also do outright harm to students, because the sciences that are wanted (per se) are more important for them than the auxiliary and instrumental sciences. (Now,) if they spend all their lives on the auxiliary (sciences), when will they get around to (the sciences) that are wanted (per se)? Therefore, teachers of the auxiliary sciences ought not to delve too deeply in them 1178 and increase the number of their problems. They must advise the student concerning their purpose and have him stop there. Those who have the mind to go more deeply (into them) and consider themselves capable and able to do so, may choose (such a course) for themselves. Everyone is successful at the things for which he was created.1179