Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Imam Suyu?i's Original Thought on the Opposition to (Greek) Logic and Theology in ØAwn Al-Man?iq Wa'l-Kalam 'An Fannay Al-Man?iq Wa'l-Kalam *

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Imam Suyu?i's Original Thought on the Opposition to (Greek) Logic and Theology in ØAwn Al-Man?iq Wa'l-Kalam 'An Fannay Al-Man?iq Wa'l-Kalam *

Article excerpt

The transmission of Greek philosophy and sciences to the Islamic world through the translation movement in the eighth and ninth centuries played a major role in accelerating the Hellenizing process of that world. The emergence of scholastic theology (kalām) and Islamic Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism (falsafah) in the Islamic world is considered, in Madjid's opinions, as the direct cultural influence of it.1

This whole marvellous process of cultural transmission which led to the emergence of a rationalist movement in the Islamic world was not a matter of chance. History tells us of the systematic attempt by al-Mā'mūn (d. 216/833), who was fascinated by the practical use of Greek philosopy and sciences, and issued an explicit state policy to promote adoption of 'the foreign culture'. According to Fakhry, al-Mā'mūn himself, the seventh 'Abbāsid Caliph, was influenced by Greek philosophy and, composed several treatises on theological questions in a speculative spirit. The speculative tendency in his theology promoted popular interest in scholastic theology and it supported the cause of the Mu'tazilites who sought to apply Greek categories to Muslim dogma.2

As a result of the explicit state policy and a core of learned individuals, popular interest in learning 'new culture' culminated in the translation into Arabic of a great many Greek treatises and books of philosophy and science, along with commentaries. Al-Mā'mūn and his proponents, who exemplified what Van Koningsveld called 'the Ma'mun cycle',3 represented the Muslims with the inclusive cultural perception that it was necessary to enlist the assistance of other cultures in pursuing epistemology. Thus, they represented the group of Muslims who regarded their culture insufficient and sought to learn from the outside world.

According to Von Grunebaum, this cultural perception paved the way for Muslims to develop (a) "rational forms of thought and systematisation," (b) "logical procedures," (c) "methods of generalization and abstraction" and, (d) "principles of classification."4

This inclusive attitude towards a foreign culture drew fervent criticism from those Muslims who regarded their cultural achievements as selfsufficient and those who needed to learn nothing from the outside world.5 To borrow Van Koningsveld's term, these groups who were hostile to 'things foreign' were represented by 'the Umar cycle'.6

Since then history has witnessed consecutive disputes between those with an inclusive attitude toward foreign cultures and those who regarded Islamic culture as self-sufficient. If the inclusionists were represented by rationalist groups, the most extreme of which was the Mu'tazilite group, then the exclusionists were represented by the traditionalists, the most extreme of which were the Ahl al-Hadīth, to borrow Abrahamov's classification.7 The ongoing dispute culminated in the event known as the mihna, the Inquisition by the Caliph al-Mā'mūn. This dispute led Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who did not recognize the createdness of the Qur'ān, to risk his life by challenging a major doctrine of the Mu'tazilite's creed.8

Therefore, it can be said that the 'fruit' of Hellenism, i.e. scholastic theology (kalām) and Islamic Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism (falsafah) met with opposition from a great number of Muslims when they were introduced into the Islamic World in the eighth and ninth centuries. The inclusion of logical concepts into juridical works, such as the theory of definition (al-hadd) and of demonstration (al-burhān), which were included by al-Ghazālī in al-Mustasfā, his legal theory, is an obvious example of a Muslim scholar's effort to protect himself from the threat of Traditionalists.9 The incineration of a great number of Muslim philosophers' works is further evidence of the Traditionalists ' fervent opposition to falsafah.

Like Islamic Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism (falsafah), scholastic theology (kalam) was considered as a part of the Hellenistic tradition and it too became the target of Traditionalists who prohibited against engaging in it by breaking off relations with, and banishing the Mutakallimūn and by refuting Mutakalliműrís tenets. …

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