Contemporary Islamic philosophy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Aziz Abbassi’s English translation found in the following pages was made from the French Introduction à la critique de la raison Arabe, translated from Arabic to French by Ahmed Mahfoud and Marc Geoffroy, published by La Découverte in 1994.The occasion of this French publication was an effort to provide an introduction to al-Jabri’s thought prior to publication of a translation of his three-volume Naqdd al-‘aql al-‘Arabi referred to earlier. The essays contained were selected from al-Jabri’s earlier work, especially his collection Nahnu wa-al-Tuath. The author helped and advised in the selection of the texts and revised the French edition, thus making it authoritative. And, although the present text was translated from the French, it was compared with the Arabic original.

During the past few years, al-Jabri has published essays and shorter monographs on issues ranging from democracy and human rights in the Arab World to further elaboration and discussions of his main theses in his previously published work. Because al-Jabri’s work is a direct and critical intervention in problems and issues that are central to modern and contemporary Arab thought, and because his interpretations and readings of modern and classical Arab thought in more than one instance challenge that thought, I will not only summarize some of his ideas but also discuss briefly the main trends that have dominated intellectual discussions in the Arab world during the past few decades

Also contemporary Islamic philosophy revives some of the trends of medieval Islamic philosophy, notably the tension between Mutazilite and Asharite views of ethics in science and law, and the duty of Muslims and role of Islam in the sociology of knowledge and in forming ethical codes and legal codes, especially the fiqh (or "jurisprudence") and rules of jihad (or "just war"). See list of Islamic terms in Arabic for a glossary of key terms used in Islam. Template:Citation needed

Key figures of modern Islamic philosophy

Key figures representing important trends include:

  • Fazlur Rahman was professor of Islamic thought at the University of Chicago and McGill University, and an expert in Islamic philosophy. Not as widely known as his scholar-activist contemporary Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, he is nonetheless considered an important figure for Islam in the 20th century. He argued that the basis of Islamic revival was the return to the intellectual dynamism that was the hallmark of the Islamic scholarly tradition (these ideas are outlined in Revival and Reform in Islam: A Study of Islamic Fundamentalism and his magnum opus, Islam). He sought to give philosophy free rein, and was keen on Muslims appreciating how the modern nation-state understood law, as opposed to ethics; his view being that the shari'ah was a mixture of both ethics and law. He was critical of historical Muslim theologies and philosophies for failing to create a moral and ethical worldview based on the values derived from the Qur'an: 'moral values', unlike socioeconomic values, 'are not exhausted at any point in history' but require constant interpretation. Rahman was driven to exile from his homeland, Pakistan, where he was part of a committee which sought to interpret Islam for the fledging modern state. Some of his ideas from English (which he claimed were from the Islamic tradition) were reprinted in Urdu and caused outrage among conservative Muslim scholars in Pakistan. These were quickly exploited by opponents of his political paymaster, General Ayyub Khan, and led to his eventual exile in the United States. Template:Citation needed
  • Muhammad Iqbal sought an Islamic revival based on social justice ideals and emphasized traditional rules, e.g. against usury. He argued strongly that dogma, territorial nationalism and outright racism, all of which were profoundly rejected in early Islam and especially by Muhammad himself, were splitting Muslims into warring factions, encouraging materialism and nihilism. His thought was influential in the emergence of a movement for independence of Pakistan, where he was revered as the national poet. Indirectly this strain of Islam also influenced Malcolm X and other figures who sought a global ethic through the Five Pillars of Islam. Iqbal can be credited with at least trying to reconstruct Islamic thought from the base, though some of his philosophical and scientific ideas would appear dated to us now. His basic ideas concentrated on free-will, which would allow Muslims to become active agents in their own history. His interest in Nietzsche (who he called 'the Wise Man of Europe') has led later Muslim scholars to criticise him for advocating dangerous ideals that, according to them, have eventually formed in certain strains of pan-Islamism. Some claim that the Four Pillars of the Green Party honor Iqbal and Islamic traditions. Template:Citation needed

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Contemporary Islamic philosophy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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