Devising a Classification Scheme for Islam: Opinions of LIS and Islamic Studies Scholars

Article excerpt


Classification plays a significant role in the organization, physical arrangement, access and retrieval of the library materials. Different standard classification systems, e.g., Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) have been developed for this purpose. Most of these systems have been developed by western authors. The authors were of such a background that they furnished sufficient provisions to the fields of western knowledge, but these schemes lack the adequate room for eastern / oriental fields of knowledge, languages and literature. The libraries that have the reasonable amount of collection on Islam and its related disciplines are facing problem to classify and arrange the materials in such a way that could help and support the library users effectively and efficiently. The reason to this problem is unavailability of suitable classification system, which may cover all the aspects of Islamic literature comprehensively. For example, Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), which is widely used system in the libraries throughout the world (Chan, 1981), provided only one notation out of one thousand for Islam, i.e., 297. On the other hand, this fact can not be denied that literature is being produced very extensively on Islam and its different aspects. Moreover, many new disciplines and topics are emerging in the body of knowledge of Islamic studies. This has created a substantial problem of classification for the libraries that have built the collections on Islam at length. Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah Library of Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad, with a collection of 160,000 volumes on Islam is one of the representatives of such libraries in Pakistan (Idrees, 2007). Another example of such a library with similar case is that of Indian Institute of Islamic Studies, New Delhi, (IIIS, 1974, p. ii). The real status and understanding of this problem was to be established through this study. Two types of population segments were selected to collect data from, along side the review of related literature. One segment was the scholars of Library and Information Science (LIS), who had a relationship with area of library classification as a teacher or author and thus being abreast with the problem area. The other segment consisted of the scholars of Islamic studies as they were the real, ample and sensitive users of such collections. Both of these segments have been selected and interviewed to know the nature and level of the problems and potential solution to these problems. A point was to be found where the real development in this regard could be started from. This was also aimed to know whether there is a real and genuine need and scope for the development of a comprehensive classification system for materials on Islam or amendments and expansions in existing standard classification systems should be made. The LIS professionals have the basic role to develop such a system, if really needed, but, they can not do this with optimal enumeration and hierarchy without the guidance and support of Islamic studies scholars. This has also been revealed by this study whether the Islamic studies scholars would render such a support and guidance to LIS people if they take an initiative to develop a comprehensive classification system for materials on Islam.


This study was designed to achieve the following objectives:

* To know the suitability of standard classification systems in libraries those contain reasonably big collections on Islam.

* To discover satisfaction level LIS and Islamic studies scholars with presently adopted classification systems.

* To know the opinion of LIS and Islamic studies scholars regarding the possible solution to problem of having a suitable classification system for materials on Islam.

* To know about the need and possibility of developing an independent and comprehensive classification system for Islam. …


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