Ibn 'Aqil: Religion and Culture in Classical Islam

By George Makdisi | Go to book overview

SECTION ONE
HUMANISM AND GOVERNMENT

I. GOVERNMENT AND THE REVEALED LAW

1. Ādāb Shar'īya and Siyāsa Shar'īya

Throughout the history of classical Islam, humanism was heavily dependent on the fortunes of government. Its successes and failures followed government's fortunes, rising with prosperity, falling with adversity. Dependent on government, humanists reflected the tendencies of the holders of power: when characterised by Rationalist tendencies, so also were the humanists generally, as in the days of al-Ma'mun; when characterised by Traditionalist tendencies, so also were the humanists generally, as under the caliphate of al-Qadir.

Government and humanism shared the terms siyāsa and adab, both of which were closely related in meaning and application: discipline, training, instruction. Adab was specifically applied to humanism, in the sense of discipline of mind and manners; siyāsa, specifically to government, in the sense of management, administration, rule. Adab and siyāsa were used interchangeably in titles of works dealing with governance, humanism, and Sufism: Siyāsat ad-dīn wa 'd-dunyā and Adab ad-dunyā wa 'd-din; Siyāsat annafs and Adab an-nafs; Siyāsat al-murīdīn and Adab al-murīdīn. Ibn Taimiya's book on governance based on the revealed law, as-Siyāsa ash-shar'īya, has its analogue on governance and humanism in that of his disciple, Ibn Muflih, al-Ādāb ash-shar'īya, based also on the revealed law. The latter book is used frequently in these pages as a source on Ibn 'Aqil's thought. 1

A manifest sign that Rationalist humanism was on its way out in classical Islam was Caliph al-Muttaqi's declaration, to the scandal of humanist Abu Bakr as-Suli (d. 335/946), that the Qur'an was all he wanted as a boon companion. The celebrated Suli had been boon companion to many caliphs. Rationalist humanism, with al-Muttaqi, was on the wane; with al-Qadir, its demise was a fait accompli. Humanism, redirected from its Rationalist tendencies, was, by Ibn 'Aqil's period, brought back to its Traditionalist origins. But it had its influence, as did Mu'tazilism, on the development of Islamic thought in classical Islam.

Since the accession of al-Qadir, the tendency in the shift of thought

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Ibn 'Aqil: Religion and Culture in Classical Islam
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface xiii
  • Part One Ibn 'Aqil: His Life and Times 1
  • Notes to Part One 51
  • Part Two Ibn 'Aqil and Scholaticism 55
  • Notes to Part Two 57
  • Part Three Ibn 'Aqil and Humanism 157
  • Notes to Part Three 159
  • Conclusion 257
  • Bibliography 262
  • Index 269
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