Islamic Philosophy

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Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 04:12 pm
Another significant line of thought is that of causality:

Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): God has created the law of cause and effect. For every effect there is a cause, and for every cause there is a reason, and the understanding of every reason requires knowledge, and for all knowledge there is a gateway (an exponent). One who recognizes these exponents attains enlightenment, and one who ignores them remains ignorant. Prophet Muhammad (p) and we are the Exponents (of all knowledge).

I hope this will trigger some stimulating debate. There are many other aspects to islamic philosopy, but lets discuss these first before we move on.

No off topic posts please.
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 11:08 pm
@ahmedjbh,
I am concerned that at one time or another, philosophers of the three western religions have all reached the conclusion that the intelligent should rule the strong... They are all anti democratic... Yet who can tell the strong or the intelligent what is best for them better than they can... Where is the guarantee that once the intelligent have power that they will not be as cruel as the strong??? As a famous Islamic historian pointed out in the age of Tamor A Lain the Great; it is primitive tribal societies that over run civilizations, and it is because they are democratic, and so strong, with every intellect considered and in play while civilizations become only a few rulers with mercenaries controlling, and explointing their own population...
And do you not mean the Holy Qu'ran??? If we accept it is true we must admit it is holy... Even the blood shed for it cries out for its honor...
 
salima
 
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 02:39 am
@ahmedjbh,
i dont think the premise is that the intelligent should rule the strong-i think the gist of the philosophy is that each person is obligated to develop and use his intellect. islam advises us to ponder and study the scriptures as well as nature as best we can with our faculties, and i take that to mean we may use whatever scientific developments become known to us as well. i believe it implies, or perhaps it stresses that we are not meant to simply read without understanding, nor to believe blindly or act without conscious choice.

of course, ahmed please be welcome to correct me if i am wrong, i have not studied nearly as much as i can see you have!
 
josh0335
 
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 08:06 am
@salima,
Ahmed, I hope you don't mind if I add something to what you've said? I don't want to hijack the thread so if you don't think this is appropriate I'll delete it.

I wanted to touch on two distinct theological positions held within Islam regarding knowledge. The Ashari (named after founder Imam Ashari) position is that there is no such thing as natural knowledge, and that all knowledge must come via revelation from God. The Maturidi (named after Imam Maturidi) contends that there is indeed natural knowledge because if there wasn't, the teachings of the Prophets would never have made sense to the people.

The implications of this, particularly for the Maturidi position is that no society or social practice can be dismissed out of hand completely, because there is a chance that it is a result of the natural knowledge gifted by God to man. No society can be wholly evil because all humans possess the 'fitrah' (innate disposition of natural goodness) and so their practices may reflect this goodness. This includes things like democracy and modern economics which are considered as 'Western' and thus evil and incompatible with Islam by many Muslim voices. The Maturidi philosophy requires Muslims to explore and analyse practises of different societies to see if they can be incorporated within the greater ethos of Islam. You would not guess this by the opinions of many of today's Muslims but it was very much the understanding of the early generations. This is why they were so eager and ready to translate the Greek works, despite many of their beliefs being against the teachings of Islam. Yet, their knowledge and works on logic were instrumental in the strides made by the Muslims in other fields, such as science and mathematics.

Abandoning this philosophy has meant many Muslims consider anything and everything non-Muslim as evil, and as such Muslim countries have fallen behind the West in science, technology and seeking knowledge in general.
 
ahmedjbh
 
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 12:54 pm
@ahmedjbh,
Hi Josh,

thanks for your input.

I was hoping someone wouldnt bring up these issues, simply because I find them confusing and perhaps overcomplicated for this particular discussion. The two aqeeda's you mentioned form the majority of the sunni viewpoint. However they are not automatically the correct understanding of the religion, the scholars that took those views lived around 300 years after the Prophet SAW died, and there were other schools as well. I dont wish to dwell on these issues, and they certainly are worthy of their own thread, if only just to cover the differing concepts of "free will" (in relation to the mutazilla as well).

However I feel there is substantional evidence from the Quran and the authentic sunnah to allow those to logic and reason to make certain conclusions.



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:Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,-
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This verse is one of many that implies humans can look at nature and see the order, and the logic of its construction.
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Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators?

052.036
Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, they have no firm belief.
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This to me clearly outlines the principle of cause and effect, and logical deduction. God is basically challenging the people to explain if they created themselves or not, or did they just appear from no where? and then He goes on to apply the same argument to the universe. We know from observation that things dont just come from nothing, and this is the implied conclusion.
 
Fido
 
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 06:21 pm
@salima,
salima;92645 wrote:
i dont think the premise is that the intelligent should rule the strong-i think the gist of the philosophy is that each person is obligated to develop and use his intellect. islam advises us to ponder and study the scriptures as well as nature as best we can with our faculties, and i take that to mean we may use whatever scientific developments become known to us as well. i believe it implies, or perhaps it stresses that we are not meant to simply read without understanding, nor to believe blindly or act without conscious choice.

of course, ahmed please be welcome to correct me if i am wrong, i have not studied nearly as much as i can see you have!

I have read quite a few of Durrant's histories, and he is very thorough about the Jews and the Muslims, having great respect for the culture of each... From perhaps three differnt volumes he makes the statement first from Augustine, and then, later from the major philosophers of the other faiths...It is how societies are weakened...
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 06:51 pm
@Fido,
I have a quick question. I understand from what you're saying that the Quran encourages the use of the intellect, and says that action without thought is unworthy, even if the action appears to be virtuous. Perhaps it's not really virtue if no thought went into it? No doubt one of the functions of the intellect is to protect one. Some Christians would say, God gave you a brain to think with and asks only one thing in return: that you use it. In the background of this statement is the on going plague of false "holymen" that Christians have had to put up with.

My question though is this: some would say that a test of whether the intellect is really operating is whether it's free. In other words, if I'm not free to come to whatever conclusion my intellect takes me to... if I can use my intellect only if I arrive at a certain conclusion, then it would appear I'm using my intellect only in its capacity to connect the dots... not to really think for myself. Is that issue addressed?
 
urangutan
 
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 02:00 am
@ahmedjbh,
Ahmed JBH, I feel that your opening post encourages the issue that Josh 0335 has raised. It seems relevant to include that Islam is a young religion and has accepted, a great many understandings that are both pure and true, such as lessons from ancient Greece. Did Islam hold that the Earth was flat, I think not as it embodied the learnings and truths that were bestowed upon it from history. I feel you are obliged to accept or question, that Islam is more than the Qu' ran, it is its people and their histories.
 
ahmedjbh
 
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 04:28 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;92853 wrote:
I have a quick question. I understand from what you're saying that the Quran encourages the use of the intellect, and says that action without thought is unworthy, even if the action appears to be virtuous. Perhaps it's not really virtue if no thought went into it? No doubt one of the functions of the intellect is to protect one. Some Christians would say, God gave you a brain to think with and asks only one thing in return: that you use it. In the background of this statement is the on going plague of false "holymen" that Christians have had to put up with.

My question though is this: some would say that a test of whether the intellect is really operating is whether it's free. In other words, if I'm not free to come to whatever conclusion my intellect takes me to... if I can use my intellect only if I arrive at a certain conclusion, then it would appear I'm using my intellect only in its capacity to connect the dots... not to really think for myself. Is that issue addressed?


If you mean free will, then yes, Islam states that your decisions are freely made by you, and the consequences, the good and the bad are therefore your own responsiblity.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 05:10 am
@ahmedjbh,
ahmedjbh;92930 wrote:
If you mean free will, then yes, Islam states that your decisions are freely made by you, and the consequences, the good and the bad are therefore your own responsiblity.


This is a good outlook, but I also don't believe in free will. There are a finite choices for every decision and some you have absolutely no choice. I think it is a trick to mislead people with however; I agree with your decisions are freely made by you and you also experience the consequences of those decisions weather they turn out good or bad.

This is why I think it is unfair to first place expectations onto a being to act or behave in a certain way. Then secondly punish said being for making the choice which is contrary to those expectations. Sending a being to suffer torment for making the "wrong" decisions is cold hearted.
 
Fido
 
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 05:43 am
@urangutan,
urangutan;92920 wrote:
Ahmed JBH, I feel that your opening post encourages the issue that Josh 0335 has raised. It seems relevant to include that Islam is a young religion and has accepted, a great many understandings that are both pure and true, such as lessons from ancient Greece. Did Islam hold that the Earth was flat, I think not as it embodied the learnings and truths that were bestowed upon it from history. I feel you are obliged to accept or question, that Islam is more than the Qu' ran, it is its people and their histories.

I think it is wrong to presume Islam a young religion...It ties into and shares many essential details with Judaism... Yet it is and can be anti Hebrew... Now, they are semites, and appearantly they, like the Arians were in that area, India, and Iran, land of the Arians since the dawn of history...In addition, you really can tell a lot about Judaism by looking at the Arabs, and understand a lot of Arab behavior by looking at your Bible... To this end, I would offer Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, by Smith...


When all the world was offering human sacrifices to a multitude of gods you must admit that it is more reasonable, by which I mean, logical, as well as more human and economical to offer non human sacrifices to a single God... The main sacrifice of Islam is not a brown cow, but is a total way of life.. Together the people of God are, as a people, more like our monks and Jesuits than mere believers, and each person is held to his faith by his own oath, and this means that before one can even testify to God or his prophet that one must be honorable, and whether we know it or not, honor is an essential to every relationship...We make a huge mistake thinking we can trade our honor for wealth or for peace...At some point we may find we need to prove our honor to have life, or eternal life, and having traded it for stuff of little value, shall lose our lives...The notion of a young religion is false... Religion is as ancient as mankind, but it rests upon every generation to blow new life into old forms, if that is possible... If it is not possible for us to give life to our religion, then we should use our intellects to be good -for a universal gain, and for that reason seek the meaning of good, and do good with a purpose...

With this said, it is a tragedy that Islam should conflict with Bhudism...In some senses they are antipods... The Bhudists have their images, but they are more intellectual yet in the pursuit of good...When Islam rejected the forms of one religion it did not mean they did not pick up others, and hold to them as rigidly as a Catholic or a Jew holds to his...
 
ahmedjbh
 
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 05:45 am
@urangutan,
urangutan;92920 wrote:
Ahmed JBH, I feel that your opening post encourages the issue that Josh 0335 has raised. It seems relevant to include that Islam is a young religion and has accepted, a great many understandings that are both pure and true, such as lessons from ancient Greece. Did Islam hold that the Earth was flat, I think not as it embodied the learnings and truths that were bestowed upon it from history. I feel you are obliged to accept or question, that Islam is more than the Qu' ran, it is its people and their histories.


I appreciate your point.

I think it is definitely worth pursuing, but I think it is important to establish some kind of foundation, a core understanding, before moving on to what certian scholars say and differences of opinions hundreds of years after etc.

I wish to stay on track however, and at least outline Islamic philosophy as it is written in the books, and then if you want to debate different interpretations, it would be a good time.

---------- Post added 09-23-2009 at 01:09 PM ----------

Krumple;92931 wrote:
This is a good outlook, but I also don't believe in free will. There are a finite choices for every decision and some you have absolutely no choice. I think it is a trick to mislead people with however; I agree with your decisions are freely made by you and you also experience the consequences of those decisions weather they turn out good or bad.

This is why I think it is unfair to first place expectations onto a being to act or behave in a certain way. Then secondly punish said being for making the choice which is contrary to those expectations. Sending a being to suffer torment for making the "wrong" decisions is cold hearted.



Your post is somewhat confusing. Of course for every situation there are limited options, the key is chosing the right one. I think you are suggesting that sometimes there is only "bad" options. If that were the case, then the person has no crime to answer for, as the situation is beyond there control. For example, imagine you are being held at gun point, and this gun holder says you must punch either your mother or your father, or you will all be shot. There is no sin here, because you are being compelled to do something, and there is no intention of evil.

An example within islam is that a famous companion of the Prophet was being tortured, and they kept trying to make him deny his religion. Eventually he was nearing death, so he just said, "ok , I deny it etc". He then escaped the torture, and returned to the Prophet, he told him what happend, and the Prophet said, thats fine, if you find yourslef ever in a similar situation you can do the same, as long as you keep the faith in your heart.

This also assumes the "punsisher" will put the person into a no win situation, thats not what I said or believe. Infact if we do something wrong by forgetfulness or without intention, I believe God will not look negatively at those deeds.

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Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability; for it is (the benefit of) what it has earned and upon it (the evil of) what it has wrought: Our Lord! do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; Our Lord! do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us, Our Lord do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us, Thou art our Patron, so help us against the unbelieving people.

Free will is a massive topic, and is definitely worthy of its own thread, as I have simplified my views here to avoid any confusion and save time.



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