Surveys of the history of Islamic science highlight a specific approach in the works of some Islamic scholars like Al-Razi, Ibn Al-Haisam, Al-Biruni, and Al-Khazani, which has common features, although a few, with modern empiricism. These scholars lived during the golden age of Islamic civilization between the mid-3rd and mid-6th centuries A.H. (300 years). Their works are featured with criticizing works of the scholars of the past like Aristotle and they would not hesitated rejecting the ideas that were not consistent with their experiences. This scientific method of these scholars, which is different from the mainstream scientific works of the Islamic civilization, in present paper is called “empirical approach”.
Empirical approach is different from empiricism and refers to following a specific point of view in scientific endeavors. Regardless of some doubts, the roots of this approach can be traced back to ancient Greece. The approach implies using personal observations and experiences (in contrast to following an integrated and continuous rational system), experimentation (in contrast to passive observation), and induction (in contrast to deduction) in academic works. Notable is that adopting this approach in scientific activities is not in conflict with following some of Aristotle’s paradigms or even believe in metaphysics.
Empirical approach, given the definition and from the authors’ point of view, is a relatively neglected and unknown approach in the history of science of Islamic era. Consequently, the scientists who followed this approach in their works are not known with their ways of thinking and observing the universe. In addition to surveying historical approach in Islamic civilization and elaborating on the principles and methods, the author (from his point of view) tries to examine the works of Birouni, as representative of empirical approach scientists, and uncover the quality of empirical approach in his works and role of experience, reason, and faith in Birounit’s though framework.