Islamic Philosophy is Islamic heresy

Much is made of the great age of Islamic philosophy and these figures (al Kindi, Avicenna, Farabi) are often held up to demonstrate the intellectual fruitfulness of Islam. But we must remember that these individuals are, by contemporary standards, heretics. In the end there was never an ability to reconcile revelation and reason and Islamic orthodoxy committed itself to revelation over reason from then on. Here is a short section on Farabi:

[...] Al-Farabi [flourished] in the tenth century. He argued that philosophers become aware of the truth through logical demonstrations and their own insight. Non-philosophers know truth and reality by symbols. Thus, philosophy is the highest form of knowledge. Since revealed truth is manifest through symbols, he concluded that one religion could not be suitable for all people and in any case is subordinate to philosophy. He linked the neoplatonist concept of the one with Aristotle's first cause as a self-thinking intellect or mind as well as with Allah. He claimed, in his commentaries on Plato's Republic, that the ideal ruler would be both a philosopher and a prophet. But he maintained that since no such Caliph was likely the philosopher and the politician should work closely together.

There is something outrageous in a culture that is not committed to the idea of a rational universe turning to Aristotle for an answer to the problem of truth.
But the Faylasufs [Muslim philosophers] were a temporary phenomena of the ninth and tenth centuries. They began their deliberations with the idea that the world was a rational creation of Allah, and that did not require a rational God. If what he created was rational then reasoning was an avenue to its understanding.

William H. Provost, Ch. 5
God Science and Reason


FrGregACCA said…

I dropped you a line via E-mail. Let me know if you did not get it.

Does Islam not have any notion of humanity being created in the image and likeness of God?
Don said…
I put this in a post you commented favourably on and it deserves to be noted again: Islam basically turned its back on this kind of intellectual pursuit. Muslims who want to glorify in this have a lot of backtracking to do.

Five years ago I got to attend the AWEMA conference at the Cove. One of the speakers was Tass Saada, who used to be in al-Fatah before he became a Christian. He made the point that the Arabs weren't cursed, but they had made bad decisions. This one was one of their sorrier ones.

Re Fr. Greg's question, part of the answer lies in a proper explanation of this, one of the more difficult series of ayat in the Qur'an:

Sura 15:

28. Behold! Thy Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create man, from sounding clay from mud moulded into shape;
29. "When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him."
30. So the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together:
31. Not so Iblis: he refused to be among those who prostrated themselves.
32. (Allah) said: "O Iblis! what is your reason for not being among those who prostrated themselves?"
33. (Iblis) said: "I am not one to prostrate myself to man, whom, thou didst create from sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape."
34. (Allah) said: "Then get thee out from here; for thou art rejected, accursed.
35. "And the Curse shall be on thee till the Day of Judgment."
36. (Iblis) said: "O my Lord! Give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are raised."
37. (Allah) said: "Respite is granted thee―
38. "Till the Day of the Time Appointed."
Abu Daoud said…
Fr Greg,

All anthropology is theology. As Don's helpful ref to the Quran indicates, there is no concept of man being created in the image of God at all in Islam.

That is why Islam gets it all wrong from the beginning: an incorrect anthropology leads to a deficient hamartiology (theology of sin), which ipso facto negates the possibility of an adequate soteriology.

Not a bad quote right there, if I do say so my self :-)

Pray for me brothers, the days are evil.

Jack said…
Another explanation for Islam's suspicion of philosophy (or reason in general) is that its source of truth is not public. The Jews had the public spectacle of the Exodus to point to. Christians have the public resurrection of Jesus. But Muslims only have a private message to Mohammad. So reason cannot operate on the core teaching of Islam but must give way to an appeal to authority.
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Jack,

Welcome to Islam and Christianity, and thanks for the remark. Your idea is quite interesting actually. I do think it is a key flaw in Islam to be honest--the lack of public spectacle (ie, a thing that can be seen). Do you have any reading on the topic that you can suggest?
Lucian said…
The same in Orthodoxy: the Greeks did *NOT* 'appreciate' their own pagan philosophy and philosophers. The Hellenizers were usually heretical or problematical: Origen, Augustine, Arius, Balaam, Clement, etc.

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