THE PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY OF AVERROES
  • Book Title:
 The Philosophy And Theology Of Averroes
  • Book Author:
ibn rushd (Averroes)
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91
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About this Title – THE PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY OF AVERROES

A collection of Averroes’ shorter works on religion, including the relation between religion and philosophy, the nature of eternal knowledge, and methods of argument and faith.

PREFACE – The philosophy and theology of Averroes

It was as a Fellow of the Seminar for the Comparative Study of Religions at the College, Baroda, that the present work was begun. The subject was taken up in the first place as a parallel study to that contained in a paper in the Indian Philosophical Review, Volume II, July 1918, pp. 24-32 entitled “Maimonides and the Attainment of Religious Truth.”

But as I proceeded with my investigation I thought it might be best to let Averroes speak for himself. For this reason, I have here translated certain treatises of Averroes, as edited in the Arabic text by D. H. Muller in “Philosophie und Theologie von Averroes.” Munich 1859. I am confident that the book will prove an interesting one and will explain itself to the reader without any introduction on my part.

Though owing to my appointment at Hyderabad I resigned my position at Baroda soon after commencing this work I wish here to express my thanks to Professor Alban G. Widgery of Baroda for his constant sympathy with and encouragement for my work in and out of the Seminar. He has also kindly accepted the book for inclusion in the Gaekwad Studies in Religion and Philosophy. I am indebted to him for a complete revision of the manuscript and for the onerous work of seeing the book through the press. I am also indebted to my brother Mutazid Wali ur Rehman, b.a. for valuable help in rendering many obscure passages.

A DECISIVE DISCOURSE ON THE DELINEATION OF THE RELATION BETWEEN RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY

And after: Praise be to God for all His praiseworthy acts, and blessings on Mohammad, His slave, the Pure, the Chosen One and His Apostle. The purpose of the following treatise is to inquire through sacred Law† whether the learning of philosophy and other sciences appertaining thereto is permitted, or called dangerous, or commended by the Law, and if commended, is it only approved or made obligatory.

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We maintain that the business of philosophy is nothing other than to look into creation and to ponder over it in order to be guided to the Creator, —in other words, to look into the meaning of existence. For the knowledge of creation leads to the cognizance of the Creator, through the knowledge of the created. The more perfect becomes the knowledge of creation, the more perfect becomes the knowledge of the Creator.

The Law encourages and exhorts us to observe creation

The Law encourages and exhorts us to observe creation. Thus, it is clear that this is to be taken either as a religious injunction or as something approved by the Law. But the Law urges us to observe creation by means of reason and demands the knowledge thereof through reason. This is evident from different verses of the Quran. For example, the Quran says: “Wherefore take example from them, ye who have eyes.”[01] Quran lix, 2.

That is a clear indication of the necessity of using the reasoning faculty, or rather both reason and religion, in the interpretation of things. Again it says: “Or do they not contemplate the kingdom of heaven and earth and the things which God hath created.”[02] Quran vii, 184. This is a plain exhortation to encourage the use of observation of creation. And remember that one whom God especially distinguishes in this respect, Abraham, the prophet. For He says: “And this did we show unto Abraham: the kingdom of heaven and earth.” [03]Quran vi, 75.

Further He says: “Do they not consider the camels, how they are created; and the heaven, how it is raised.”[04] Quran lxxxviii, 17. Or still again: “And (who) meditate on the creation of heaven and earth, saying, O Lord thou hast not created this in vain.”[05] Quran iii, 176. There are many other verses on this subject: too numerous to be enumerated.

Now, it being established that the Law makes the observation and consideration of creation by reason obligatory — [16]and consideration is nothing but to make explicit the implicit — this can only be done through reason. Thus we must look into creation with the reason.

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Moreover, it is obvious that the observation which the Law approves and encourage must be of the most perfect type, performed with the most perfect kind of reasoning. As the Law emphasizes the knowledge of God and His creation by inference, it is incumbent on any who wish to know God and His whole creation by inference, to learn the kinds of inference, their conditions and that which distinguishes philosophy from dialectic and exhortation from syllogism.

This is impossible unless one possesses knowledge beforehand of the various kinds of reasoning and learns to distinguish between reasoning and what is not reasoning. This cannot be done except one knows its different parts, that is, the different kinds of premises.

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References / Footnotes

01 Quran lix, 2.
02 Quran vii, 184.
03Quran vi, 75.
04 Quran lxxxviii, 17.
05 Quran iii, 176.