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Thursday, 4 December 2014

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PHILOSOPHICAL THOUGHT IN ISLAM (Continued 2) - Articles Islamic

Muslim philosophical trends
The development of Muslim philosophy during the Abbasid period must be seen in light of the following: (1) sectarian conflict that developed after the passing of the Prophet and saw schism in the Muslim community which broke up into the Shi‘i, Khariji and majority Sunni factions over the question of rightful leadership; (2) the development of the disciplines of jurisprudence, Qur’anic studies and theology; (3) theological arguments between the Traditionists and Qadaris, and the rise of the Mu‘tazili school of theology which utilized Greek dialectical tools; and (4) the founding of the institution of the House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikma), in Baghdad, which provided for scholarly activity including the translation of Greek texts.
Philosophy entered the western part of the Muslim world (in Spain and North Africa) after the third/ninth century. However, it did not flower until the fifth/eleventh and sixth/twelfth centuries after the works of eastern thinkers such as al-Farabi (known in Europe as Alfarabi) (d. 339/950), Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (d. 429/1037) and al-Ghazali (Algazel) (d. 505/1111) became available to Muslims living in Spain and North Africa. Major western figures included Ibn Bajja (Avempace) (d. 533/1138), Ibn Tufayl (Abubacer) (d. 581/1185) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (d. 595/1198), who gave a spirited defence of philosophy in his refutation of al-Ghazali’s The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-falasifa).
Western Islamic philosophy had a major influence on thinkers in medieval Christian (and Jewish) Europe, as well as the eastern Islamic world, with the export of the writings of philosophers such as Ibn Bajja, Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Rushd. However, a new development in the history of Islamic philosophy occurred with the resurgence of traditionalism as found in the works of figures such as Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) and the synthesis of mysticism with philosophy. While the impact of traditionalism on philosophy was devastating (within Sunni Islam), from the sixth/twelfth century a new type of philosophy wedded to mysticism can be seen in the rise of hikma (wisdom), particularly within the Shi‘i world. Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi (d. 587/1191) founded the illuminationist (ishraq) school of theosophy.
Mir Damad (d. 1041/1631) revived Ibn Sina’s philosophy, giving it a Shi‘i ishraqi character. Mulla Sadra (d. 1050/1640) harmonized revelation, rational demonstration and gnosis (irfan). The new philosophy spread to the Indian subcontinent and influenced figures such as Shah Wali Allah (d. 1176/1762).

(Adapted from Abdullah Saeed, Islamic Thought, 2006)

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