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Philosophy of the Muslim World pdf download

📘 Book Title Philosophy Of The Muslim World
👤 Book AuthorJoseph Kenny
🖨️ Total Pages202
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🌐 LanguageEnglish
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Philosophy of the Muslim World by Joseph Kenny


Book Introduction

The sudden burst of Greco-Arab philosophy into the Western world in the thirteenth century irreversibly altered the course of European thought and continues to reverberate in world history.

The philosophy of the Arab-Muslim world began as a discovery of an ancient heritage, and moved on in its own original way. Freely delving into every topic of human interest, it came up with theories that had serious consequences on religion, society and the individual.

 The questions raised then are still discussed today, and it is worthwhile to see how they were approached in a different time and culture.

It is not easy to define the focus of a book like this. On the one hand, philosophy at that time included all of science.

 Here only certain major themes are reviewed, touching on the destiny of man and religion, such as the existence of God, human freedom before the omnipotence of God (with the question of evil), the immortality of the human soul, and the relationship between philosophy and revelation.

Again, while we may expect to look at the major players, such as al-Kindi, al-Farabi, lbn-Sina et Ibn-Rushd, we must avoid focusing strictly on the Arab or Muslim world. Some of the great philosophers of this world were non-Arabs or non­Muslims.

 Nor can we leave out Latin Averroism and the reply of Thomas Aquinas. It was one intellectual world debating the same questions with the same philosophical tools.

A new resume of the thought of the Muslim philosophers is particularly called for now because of the vast number of publications of the works of these philosophers over the past thirty years. Even though more specialized work remains to be done, a new synthesis of the thought of these philosophers is called for.

The foundations of Islamic thought

When Muhammad died, he left no instructions for his succession. At an emergency meeting convened to decide what to do, the senior men were divided until ‘Umar got up and clasped the hands of Abu-Bakr; the rest followed suite. The choice was a compromise, since Abu-Bakr (632-634) was an old man.

Abubakar’s first job was to send his general, Khalid ibn-al­ Walid, against the Arab nomads to force them to accept his authority.

Once the Arabs were united as one umma, since Muslims may not fight Muslims, their armies turned to lands of the north. These were exhausted by a protracted struggle between the Byzantine and Persian empires, the super-powers of the time, and the Arabs easily overran them.

During the caliphate of ‘Umar (634-644) the Muslim umma experience a real booty boom. The Arab soldiers were inspired by a strong faith that assured them of a heavenly reward if they died in battle, and an earthly reward if they did not.

As these men sent back to Medina the fortunes they had gathered, other men of lesser faith now rushed to join the army. But they found little pickings left in Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq and the whole Persian empire.

Boom times had become doom times, and the blame was laid at the feet of the new caliph, ‘Uthman (644-656). Mutinous troops demanded his resignation. He refused and they stabbed him to death, installing ‘Ali (656-661) in his place.

Muawiya, the governor of Damascus and a relative of ‘Uthman, refused to recognize ‘Ali, and a civil war broke out. Various

battles and negotiations took place, and in the end Mu’awiya won out, founding the Umayyad dynasty, which lasted almost a century.

The Umayyad periods

During the lifetime of Muhammad, a radical change of attitude took place in the Arab world. Everyone, including opponents of Islamic rule, found themselves incapable of thinking or of expressing themselves in other than Qur’anic categories.2

During the caliphate of Abu-Bakr some apostates presented themselves as rival prophets, with revelations patterned after the Qur’an.

 During the Umayyad period, however, any rebel had to claim that he was a better Muslim than his adversary.

This transformation of the public mentality was not the result of interior conversion involving intellectual conviction and change of life. We have to distinguish conversion from joining a movement.

The vast majority of new Muslims joined Islam because it was a winning movement launched by a man who had full confidence in his authority and mission as the last prophet.

 “You are the best community raised up among men; you command what is good and forbid what is evil and believe in God. If those who have Scripture had believed it would have been better for them…” (Qur’an 3:110).

It became impossible to escape Qur’anic ideology, which was the orthodoxy of the society since membership in that society was a necessity for survival.

Qur’anic rules of living, however, were simple, practical, and adaptable to the still-evolving condition of Islam at that time, and provided a rallying point for a society in transition.

The ‘Abbisid period (750)

Throughout the Umayyad period the Muslim community, by force of circumstances, adopted a vast amount of new regulative norms not contained in the Qur’an.

These became enshrined in tradition, or Hadith literature, which claimed the authority of the companions of Mu4ammad and eventually the authority of Muhammad himself. Under the influence of ash-Shafi’i (d. 825), Hadith became another source of revelation alongside the Qur’an.

As ash-Shafi’i put it, Muhammad, the “seal of the prophets” was divinely ordained as the perfect man, impeccable, infallible, the model and exemplar for all mankind. Although Hadith was not dictated by God like the Qur’an, all the actions and words that they relate are taken as another form of revelation.3

How, we must now ask, could a philosophical movement flourish in a milieu so dominated by Islamic religious thought?

The philosophical movement in the land of Islam

The philosophical movement caught on with the Muslims by contact with Greek philosophy which their Christian subjects cultivated in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. There was also some Jewish influence with regard to the method of qiyas, or analogical reasoning in law.

The Fathers of the early Church took an interest in philosophy when they came into contact with the Greek community of Alexandria, which had an old and well-established school of philosophy. The Greeks of Alexandria embraced Christianity in the second century, as Christian apologetes presented Christ to them as Wisdom incarnate.

Since the native Egyptian Copts were not well represented in this school, it closed when the Arabs conquered Egypt and the Greek elite left Egypt. Around 718 the school was re-

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