Arab Philosophers Quotes

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Certainly, one of the greatest achievements of the human intellectual spirit was the Arabic Translation Movement. Over the course of about 100 years, virtually the entire Greek Scientific and philosophical corpus was either translated or summarized into Arabic (McGinnis, 10).
Jon McGinnis (Avicenna (Great Medieval Thinkers))
Averroes, the last of the great medieval Arab philosophers, was fighting a rearguard defense of philosophy that was under attack from theologians, and, though translations of his works were to be much read in the universities of Christian Europe, he had little influence on later generations of thinkers in the Muslim world.
Robert Irwin (Ibn Khaldun: An Intellectual Biography)
The Quran did not put forward any philosophical arguments for monotheism; its approach was practical, and, as such, it appealed to the pragmatic Arabs. The old religion, the Quran claimed, was simply not working.3
Karen Armstrong (Islam: A Short History)
One cannot, therefore, understand Arabic science without considering the extent to which Islam influenced scientific and philosophical thought. Arabic science was, throughout its golden age, inextricably linked to religion. Clearly, the scientific revolution of the Abbasids would not have taken place if it were not for Islam, incontrast to the spread of Christianity over the preceding centuries, which had nothink like the same effect in stimulation and encouraging original scientific thinking.
Jim Al-Khalili
Two of the most famous Baghdadi scholars, the philosopher Al-Kindi and the mathematician Al-Khawarizmi, were certainly the most influential in transmitting Hindu numerals to the Muslim world. Both wrote books on the subject during al-Ma'mun's reign, and it was their work that was translated into Latin and transmitted to the West, thus introducing Europeans to the decimal system, which was known in the Middle Ages only as Arabic numerals. But it would be many centuries before it was widely accepted in Europe. One reason for this was sociological: decimal numbers were considered for a long time as symbols of the evil Muslim foe.
Jim Al-Khalili
Franz Rosenthal, the late professor of Arabic studies, said the following about him: The modern reader can hardly fail to notice that the Muslim philosopher succeeded in giving a true description of the essentials of democracy. He also captured the full meaning and significance of the concept of political freedom for the happiness and development of the individual.
Mustafa Akyol (Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty)
Ibn Rushd's writings were translated into Latin and Hebrew by European scholars. There soon appeared super-commentaries on his commentaries. Many of the writings exist only in these two languages, the original Arabic writings being long lost. This itself is a commentary on the extent to which Ibn Rushd, as a rationalist philosopher, was able to influence the mood of his times
Pervez Hoodbhoy (Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality)
The fact that the descent of the Quran led not only to the foundation of one of the world’s great civilizations, but also to the creation of one of the major scientific, philosophical, and artistic traditions in global history was not accidental. Without the advent of the Quran, there would have been no Islamic sciences as we know them, sciences that were brought later to the West and we therefore would not have words such as “algebra,” “algorithm,” and many other scientific terms of Arabic origin in English. Nor would there be the Summas of St. Thomas Aquinas, at least in their existing form, since these Summas contain so many ideas drawn from Islamic sources.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr (The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary)
What are these things?” he asked. “That’s the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life. It’s the Master Work of the alchemists. Whoever swallows that elixir will never be sick again, and a fragment from that stone turns any metal into gold.” The Arabs laughed at him, and the alchemist laughed along. They thought his answer was amusing, and they allowed the boy and the alchemist to proceed with all of their belongings. “Are you crazy?” the boy asked the alchemist, when they had moved on. “What did you do that for?” “To show you one of life’s simple lessons,” the alchemist answered. “When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
for we have been deprived of all the people of knowledge save for a group, small in number, with many troubles, whose concern in life is to snatch the opportunity, when time is asleep, to devote themselves meanwhile to the investigation and perfection of a science; for the majority of people who imitate philosophers confuse the true with the false, and they do nothing but deceive and pretend knowledge, and they do not use what they know of the sciences except for base and material purposes; and if they see a certain person seeking for the right and preferring the truth, doing his best to refute the false and untrue and leaving aside hypocrisy and deceit, they make a fool of him and mock him.
Jim Al-Khalili (The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance)
The reality of the Islamic metaphysical world was not taken seriously despite the fact that Iqbal, who was the ideological founder of Pakistan, had shown much interest in Islamic philosophy, although I do not think that he is really a traditional Islamic philosopher. He himself was influenced by Western philosophy, but at least was intelligent enough to realize the significance of Islamic philosophy. The problem with him was that he did not know Arabic well enough. His Persian was very good, but he could not read all the major texts of Islamic philoso- phy, which are written mostly in Arabic. Nevertheless, he wrote on the development of metaphysics in Persia, and he had some philosophical substance, much more than the other famous reformers who are men- tioned all the time, such as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan or Muh:ammad ‘Abduh.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr (در جست‌وجوی امر قدسي)
The theme of tonight’s dinner is apotheosis. What does it mean to become God? If Father Francis has no problem with lesser mortals like ourselves bursting into kaleidoscopic rainbows after decades of intense meditation, then why not simply drink the sacred potion and cut to the chase? At the end of the day, aren’t we both talking about that cryptic promise from Eleusis: overcoming the limitations of the physical body and cheating death? That “moment of intense rapture” sought by the maenads of Dionysus, until they “became identified with the god himself.” And aren’t he and Ruck both committing the same arch-heresy by suggesting that the original, obscured truth of Christianity has nothing to do with worshipping Jesus, and everything to do with becoming Jesus? Aren’t we all just gods and goddesses in the making? Maybe the concept of apotheosis doesn’t sound particularly heretical today. But a few hundred years ago, it got the likes of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola into a load of trouble. In 1484 the upstart Italian was only twenty-one years old when he met Lorenzo de’ Medici, who promptly invited him into the Florentine Academy that was about to punch the Renaissance into high gear. Already a student of Greek, as well as Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic, the newest Florentine got to work writing Oratio de hominis dignitate (Oration on the Dignity of Man): the so-called Manifesto of the Renaissance. He wanted to publicly debut the Oratio, together with his 900 Theses, in Rome on the Epiphany of 1487, the God’s Gift Day. But Pope Innocent VIII was not impressed. He put a halt to the spectacle and condemned every one of Pico della Mirandola’s theses for “renovating the errors of pagan philosophers.
Brian C. Muraresku (The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name)
There is one exception to this trend, however, and that is that after the debacle of Arab nationalism, a number of secularized Arab thinkers, having no access to the earlier Islamic philosophical tradition except through Western eyes, in contrast to the living Islamic philosophical tra- dition, which has had a continuous life in such places as Iran, have adopted the view of Western rationalism. Then they have tried to look within the Islamic world for a figure with whom they could identify, and they have turned to Ibn Rushd, whom they are now interpreting as the last serious Islamic philosopher, who was also a rationalist. Many gov- ernments have been in favor of this trend, because they have thought that this would create a kind of secularism against the Islamic sentiments of the population and expedite modernism. In recent years, there have been a number of conferences in Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt, as well as Turkey (which claims to be secu- larist), and other places on Ibn Rushd, trying to present him as the last Islamic philosopher and a rationalist to be used as a model by present- day Muslim thinkers. That phenomenon is there, I agree, but that is not the most important phenomenon, because most of the people who talk in these terms, although they are now popular in the Arab world, do not have that much of a philosophical substance to carry the day; nor is their thought connected to the worldview of their society.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr (در جست‌وجوی امر قدسي)
It has been noted in various quarters that the half-illiterate Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari never recorded the exact plans or dimensions for how to make one of his famous instruments. This might have been a commercial decision (during the earliest years of the 1700s, Stradivari’s violins were in high demand and open to being copied by other luthiers). But it might also have been because, well, Stradivari didn’t know exactly how to record its dimensions, its weight, and its balance. I mean, he knew how to create a violin with his hands and his fingers but maybe not in figures he kept in his head. Today, those violins, named after the Latinized form of his name, Stradivarius, are considered priceless. It is believed there are only around five hundred of them still in existence, some of which have been submitted to the most intense scientific examination in an attempt to reproduce their extraordinary sound quality. But no one has been able to replicate Stradivari’s craftsmanship. They’ve worked out that he used spruce for the top, willow for the internal blocks and linings, and maple for the back, ribs, and neck. They’ve figured out that he also treated the wood with several types of minerals, including potassium borate, sodium and potassium silicate, as well as a handmade varnish that appears to have been composed of gum arabic, honey, and egg white. But they still can’t replicate a Stradivarius. The genius craftsman never once recorded his technique for posterity. Instead, he passed on his knowledge to a number of his apprentices through what the philosopher Michael Polyani called “elbow learning.” This is the process where a protégé is trained in a new art or skill by sitting at the elbow of a master and by learning the craft through doing it, copying it, not simply by reading about it. The apprentices of the great Stradivari didn’t learn their craft from books or manuals but by sitting at his elbow and feeling the wood as he felt it to assess its length, its balance, and its timbre right there in their fingertips. All the learning happened at his elbow, and all the knowledge was contained in his fingers. In his book Personal Knowledge, Polyani wrote, “Practical wisdom is more truly embodied in action than expressed in rules of action.”1 By that he meant that we learn as Stradivari’s protégés did, by feeling the weight of a piece of wood, not by reading the prescribed measurements in a manual. Polyani continues, To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyze and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another.
Lance Ford (UnLeader: Reimagining Leadership…and Why We Must)
The opinion that the survival of Islam itself depended on the use of military slavery was shared by the great Arab historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun, who lived in North Africa in the fourteenth century, contemporaneously with the Mamluk sultanate in Egypt. In the Muqadimmah, Ibn Khaldun says the following: When the [Abbasid] state was drowned in decadence and luxury and donned the garments of calamity and impotence and was overthrown by the heathen Tatars, who abolished the seat of the Caliphate and obliterated the splendor of the lands and made unbelief prevail in place of belief, because the people of the faith, sunk in self-indulgence, preoccupied with pleasure and abandoned to luxury, had become deficient in energy and reluctant to rally in defense, and had stripped off the skin of courage and the emblem of manhood—then, it was God’s benevolence that He rescued the faith by reviving its dying breath and restoring the unity of the Muslims in the Egyptian realms, preserving the order and defending the walls of Islam. He did this by sending to the Muslims, from this Turkish nation and from among its great and numerous tribes, rulers to defend them and utterly loyal helpers, who were brought from the House of War to the House of Islam under the rule of slavery, which hides in itself a divine blessing. By means of slavery they learn glory and blessing and are exposed to divine providence; cured by slavery, they enter the Muslim religion with the firm resolve of true believers and yet with nomadic virtues unsullied by debased nature, unadulterated with the filth of pleasure, undefiled by the ways of civilized living, and with their ardor unbroken by the profusion of luxury.
Francis Fukuyama (The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution)
The imperialist found it useful to incorporate the credible and seemingly unimpeachable wisdom of science to create a racial classification to be used in the appropriation and organization of lesser cultures. The works of Carolus Linnaeus, Georges Buffon, and Georges Cuvier, organized races in terms of a civilized us and a paradigmatic other. The other was uncivilized, barbaric, and wholly lower than the advanced races of Europe. This paradigm of imaginatively constructing a world predicated upon race was grounded in science, and expressed as philosophical axioms by John Locke and David Hume, offered compelling justification that Europe always ought to rule non-Europeans. This doctrine of cultural superiority had a direct bearing on Zionist practice and vision in Palestine. A civilized man, it was believed, could cultivate the land because it meant something to him; on it, accordingly, he produced useful arts and crafts, he created, he accomplished, he built. For uncivilized people, land was either farmed badly or it was left to rot. This was imperialism as theory and colonialism was the practice of changing the uselessly unoccupied territories of the world into useful new versions of Europe. It was this epistemic framework that shaped and informed Zionist attitudes towards the Arab Palestinian natives. This is the intellectual background that Zionism emerged from. Zionism saw Palestine through the same prism as the European did, as an empty territory paradoxically filled with ignoble or, better yet, dispensable natives. It allied itself, as Chaim Weizmann said, with the imperial powers in carrying out its plans for establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. The so-called natives did not take well to the idea of Jewish colonizers in Palestine. As the Zionist historians, Yehoshua Porath and Neville Mandel, have empirically shown, the ideas of Jewish colonizers in Palestine, this was well before World War I, were always met with resistance, not because the natives thought Jews were evil, but because most natives do not take kindly to having their territory settled by foreigners. Zionism not only accepted the unflattering and generic concepts of European culture, it also banked on the fact that Palestine was actually populated not by an advanced civilization, but by a backward people, over which it ought to be dominated. Zionism, therefore, developed with a unique consciousness of itself, but with little or nothing left over for the unfortunate natives. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if Palestine had been occupied by one of the well-established industrialized nations that ruled the world, then the problem of displacing German, French, or English inhabitants and introducing a new, nationally coherent element into the middle of their homeland would have been in the forefront of the consciousness of even the most ignorant and destitute Zionists. In short, all the constitutive energies of Zionism were premised on the excluded presence, that is, the functional absence of native people in Palestine; institutions were built deliberately shutting out the natives, laws were drafted when Israel came into being that made sure the natives would remain in their non-place, Jews in theirs, and so on. It is no wonder that today the one issue that electrifies Israel as a society is the problem of the Palestinians, whose negation is the consistent thread running through Zionism. And it is this perhaps unfortunate aspect of Zionism that ties it ineluctably to imperialism- at least so far as the Palestinian is concerned. In conclusion, I cannot affirm that Zionism is colonialism, but I can tell you the process by which Zionism flourished; the dialectic under which it became a reality was heavily influenced by the imperialist mindset of Europe. Thank you. -Fictional debate between Edward Said and Abba Eban.
R.F. Georgy (Absolution: A Palestinian Israeli Love Story)
Chapter 1, “Esoteric Antiquarianism,” situates Egyptian Oedipus in its most important literary contexts: Renaissance Egyptology, including philosophical and archeological traditions, and early modern scholarship on paganism and mythology. It argues that Kircher’s hieroglyphic studies are better understood as an antiquarian rather than philosophical enterprise, and it shows how much he shared with other seventeenth-century scholars who used symbolism and allegory to explain ancient imagery. The next two chapters chronicle the evolution of Kircher’s hieroglyphic studies, including his pioneering publications on Coptic. Chapter 2, “How to Get Ahead in the Republic of Letters,” treats the period from 1632 until 1637 and tells the story of young Kircher’s decisive encounter with the arch-antiquary Peiresc, which revolved around the study of Arabic and Coptic manuscripts. Chapter 3, “Oedipus in Rome,” continues the narrative until 1655, emphasizing the networks and institutions, especially in Rome, that were essential to Kircher’s enterprise. Using correspondence and archival documents, this pair of chapters reconstructs the social world in which Kircher’s studies were conceived, executed, and consumed, showing how he forged his career by establishing a reputation as an Oriental philologist. The next four chapters examine Egyptian Oedipus and Pamphilian Obelisk through a series of thematic case studies. Chapter 4, “Ancient Theology and the Antiquarian,” shows in detail how Kircher turned Renaissance occult philosophy, especially the doctrine of the prisca theologia, into a historical framework for explaining antiquities. Chapter 5, “The Discovery of Oriental Antiquity,” looks at his use of Oriental sources, focusing on Arabic texts related to Egypt and Hebrew kabbalistic literature. It provides an in-depth look at the modus operandi behind Kircher’s imposing edifice of erudition, which combined bogus and genuine learning. Chapter 6, “Erudition and Censorship,” draws on archival evidence to document how the pressures of ecclesiastical censorship shaped Kircher’s hieroglyphic studies. Readers curious about how Kircher actually produced his astonishing translations of hieroglyphic inscriptions will find a detailed discussion in chapter 7, “Symbolic Wisdom in an Age of Criticism,” which also examines his desperate effort to defend their reliability. This chapter brings into sharp focus the central irony of Kircher’s project: his unyielding antiquarian passion to explain hieroglyphic inscriptions and discover new historical sources led him to disregard the critical standards that defined erudite scholarship at its best. The book’s final chapter, “Oedipus at Large,” examines the reception of Kircher’s hieroglyphic studies through the eighteenth century in relation to changing ideas about the history of civilization.
Daniel Stolzenberg (Egyptian Oedipus: Athanasius Kircher and the Secrets of Antiquity)
In terms of Arab culture, the importance of the Sufi contribution lies in its re-reading of the religious texts and the attribution to them of other meanings and dimensions; this in turn permits a new reading of the literary, philosophical and political legacy, which has led to a fresh look at language, not only in the religious context but also as a tool of revelation and expression. Sufis have gone beyond the legacy of the ‘established principles’ to set up the legacy of the mysteries. Another form of knowledge has been established and another intellectual domain.
La devise d'Averroès, au XIIe siècle, sera celle-ci: on ne peut seul disposer de toute la vérité. C'est la suite des générations et la continuité avérée entre différentes cultures qui en donnent une image: {C'est un devoir pour nous, au cas où nous trouverions chez nos prédécesseurs parmi les peuples d'autrefois, une théorie réfléchie de l'univers, conforme aux conditions qu'exige la démonstration, d'examiner ce qu'ils ont affirmé dans leurs livres.}
Ali Benmakhlouf (Pourquoi lire les philosophes arabes)
For almost a century the Christian and Islamic worldviews overlapped, especially their view of nature. The seam along that overlap was Aristotle, whom Arab scholars dubbed the Master of Those Who Know and whom Christian scholars would come to know as the Philosopher, as if there were no others of any lasting value.
Arthur Herman (The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization)
Language of God (The Sonnet) A Jew may say, Hebrew is the language of god. A Christian may say, Aramaic is the language of god. A Muslim will say, Arabic is the language of god. A Hindu will say, Sanskrit is the language of god. A biologist may say, DNA is the language of god. Mathematicians say, math is the language of god. A psychiatrist may say, libido is the language of god. Physicists say, Quantum Mechanics is language of god. A politician may say, control is the language of god. A capitalist may say, currency is the language of god. A cop may say, law and order are the language of god. A philosopher may say, wisdom is the language of god. I don't know all that, I'm a being most ordinary 'n simple. I only know that kindness is the language of a human.
Abhijit Naskar (Dervish Advaitam: Gospel of Sacred Feminines and Holy Fathers)
Lauterpacht's intellectual development coincided with this crucial moment. Engaged n Zionist activity, he nevertheless feared nationalism. The philosopher Martin Buber, who lectured and led in Lemberg became an intellectual influence, opposing Zionism as a form of abhorrent nationalism and holding to the view that a Jewish state in Palestine would inevitably oppress the Arab inhabitants. Lauterpacht attended Buber's lectures and found himself attracted to such ideas, identifying himself as a disciple of Buber's. This was an early fluting of skepticism about the power of the state.
Philippe Sands (East West Street: On the Origins of "Genocide" and "Crimes Against Humanity")
Across Europe, conservatives alarmed by the rise of labour were discovering antidotes in nationalism, racism, and jingoism. Intellectuals, politicians, industrialists, and empire-builders embraced the idea that the masses – the dark, threatening masses stirring in the social depths – could perhaps be distracted by a new kind of ‘bread and circuses’: the glory of empire. French philologist, philosopher, and historian Ernest Renan was explicit: it was ‘the only way to counter socialism’, and ‘a nation that does not colonise is condemned to end up with socialism, to experience a war between rich and poor’. Cecil Rhodes, the diamond magnate and colonial pioneer who did more than anyone to establish British imperial rule in Southern Africa, found himself thinking along precisely these lines after witnessing a rowdy meeting of the unemployed in East London. ‘On my way home,’ he later recalled, ‘I pondered over the scene, and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism … The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists.
Neil Faulkner (Empire and Jihad: The Anglo-Arab Wars of 1870-1920)
… the philosopher Moses Maimonides declared that the return to Israel was the only hope of an end to Jewish suffering at the hands of the Arabs, of whom he writes that ‘Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they.
Benjamin Netanyahu (A Durable Peace: Israel and its Place Among the Nations)
An oft-repeated tale recounts that a Christian mob destroyed the Great Library of Alexandria in 391 and burnt its books in the street. According to some versions, the repository in question was the original library in the Brucheium, while others state that it was a ‘daughter’ library located in the Serapeum. This tale has entered so deeply into the popular imagination that it even sometimes appears in otherwise respectable books of history. It is, however, a myth, originated in the late 18th century, when the great historian Edward Gibbon read an unwarranted meaning into a single sentence from the Christian chronicler Paul Orosius (fl. 414–17). The subtext of the legend is that the Christians of the fourth century were intensely hostile to the science, literature, and scholarship of classical culture, and that such matters were the special preserve of the pagans of Alexandria. This too is an 18th-century myth. The city’s scholarly and scientific class comprised Christians as well as pagans, and Christian scholars, rhetoricians, philosophers and scientists were active in Alexandria right up until the city fell to Arab Muslim invaders in 642. Regarding the library in the Brucheium – whose size, again, is impossible to determine – many ancient historians believed that it (or a large part of its collection) had already gone up in flames following Julius Caesar’s assault on the city in 48 or 47 BC, during his wars with Pompey. Some historians now also claim that, if any part of the original library remained, it vanished in 272, during the emperor Aurelian’s campaigns to reunite the empire. Whether either story is true, the Great Library of the Ptolemies no longer existed by the late fourth century. As for the ‘daughter’ library, it may have been situated within the enclosure of the Serapeum; there were, at any rate, library stacks in the temple. However, the Pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus (c.330–95) indicates that whatever library had once been there was long gone before the Serapeum’s demolition in 391. More importantly, none of the original accounts of the temple’s destruction mentions a library, not even the account written by the devout pagan Eunapius of Sardis (c.345–c.420), who despised Christians and who, as an erudite man, would have been enraged by the burning of precious texts. Later Medieval legend claimed that the actual final destruction of the ‘Library’ or libraries of Alexandria was the work of the Arab conquerors of the seventh century ad. Of this, however, no account exists that was written before the 12th century. Whatever the case, the scurrilous story of the Great Library’s destruction by Christians is untrue. It may tell us something about modern misconceptions regarding the past, but tells us nothing about Christian or pagan antiquity.
David Bentley Hart (The Story of Christianity: A History of 2000 Years of the Christian Faith)
While the Western world has been seeking practical solutions to its problems through science, the various peoples comprising the Arabic-speaking world have preferred to look at life in poetic and philosophical terms.
Kahlil Gibran (A Self Portrait)
Nasser's ‘Arabism’ was thus almost unprecedented in Egypt's long history. Nasser did not even invent Arab nationalism as a political identity. The easternists led the way towards the ‘Arabic East’. Michel Afleq, the Sorbonne-educated Arab Christian political philosopher who founded the Al-Baath (Rebirth) party in 1941, pioneered the call for an Arab political front.
Tarek Osman (Egypt on the Brink: From the Rise of Nasser to the Fall of Mubarak)
We need to analyze and contemplate the experience of modernity in the Arab and Muslim world, in order to grasp what is happening. Some of us, for example, reject modernity, and yet it’s obvious that these same people are using the products of modernity, even to the extent that when proselytizing their interpretation of Islam, which conflicts with modernity, they’re employing the tools of modernity to do so. This strange phenomenon can best be understood by contemplating our basic attitude towards modernity, stemming from two centuries ago. If we analyze books written by various Muslim thinkers at the time, concerning modernity and the importance of modernizing our societies, and so forth, we can see that they distinguished between certain aspects of modernity that should be rejected, and others that may be accepted. You can find this distinction in the very earliest books that Muslim intellectuals wrote on the topic of modernity. To provide a specific example, I’ll cite an important book that is widely regarded as having been the first ever written about modern thought in the Muslim world, namely, a book by the famous Egyptian intellectual, Rifa’ Rafi’ al-Tahtawi (1801–1873), Takhlish al-Ibriz fi Talkhish Baris, whose title may be translated as Mining Gold from Its Surrounding Dross. As you can immediately grasp from its title, the book distinguishes between the “gold” contained within modernity—gold being a highly prized, expensive and rare product of mining—and its so-called “worthless” elements, which Muslims are forbidden to embrace. Now if we ask ourselves, “What elements of modernity did these early thinkers consider acceptable, and what did they demand that we reject?,” we discover that technology is the “acceptable” element of modernity. We are told that we may adopt as much technology as we want, and exploit these products of modernity to our heart’s content. But what about the modes of thought that give rise to these products, and underlie the very phenomenon of modernity itself? That is, the free exercise of reason, and critical thought? These two principles are rejected and proscribed for Muslims, who may adopt the products of modernity, while its substance, values and foundations, including its philosophical modes of thought, are declared forbidden. Shaykh Rifa’ Rafi’ al-Tahtawi explained that we may exploit knowledge that is useful for defense, warfare, irrigation, farming, etc., and yet he simultaneously forbade us to study, or utilize, the philosophical sciences that gave rise to modern thought, and the love for scientific methodologies that enlivens the spirit of modern knowledge, because he believed that they harbored religious deviance and infidelity (to God).
علي مبروك
The beginnings of Arabic philosophical literature can be described as taking place in two stages. The first occurs from roughly the middle of the eighth century until the appearance of al-Kind¯ı in the first third of the ninth century. It is characterized by the continuation of the engagement with the remnants of philosophy in Greek, Syriac, and Middle Persian that have just been reviewed, though in Arabic this time – by the study, that is, of the logical curriculum and the application of philosophical ideas to theological concerns of the time....The second stage begins with al-Kind¯ı and represents a resurrection of philosophy as a discipline in its own right, independent of theological or other concerns.
Dimitri Gutas
Certainly the most significant of [the political, social and ideological currents playing a role in the development of philosophical texts in Arabic] was the development of Islamic theology and the intense debate among the various groups and individuals about its eventual orientation.
Dimitri Gutas
One of Ficino’s influences was a well-known work called Fons Vitae (Fountain of life), one of the first European Neoplatonic texts, by an eleventh-century philosopher from Spain named Avicebron. Little did Ficino know that this was a translation of the Arabic translation of an original Hebrew text written by the great Jewish poet-philosopher Solomon Ibn Gavirol (died c. 1058). The idea of harmonizing monotheism with Platonic thought gripped Ficino and led him to attempt the construction of a universal faith, by which all humanity could achieve individual redemption. Of course, now that Jews had just been
Benjamin Blech (The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican)
Seen through the eyes of Arab alchemists, or Persian mystics, the earliest Greek philosophers weren’t just thinkers or rationalists. They were links in an initiatory succession
Robert Lloyd (The Knowledge that Leads to Wholeness: Gnostic Myths Behind Jung's Theory of Individuation)
The European intellectual renaissance preceded the translations from the Arabic. The latter were not the cause, but the effect of that renaissance. Like all historical events, it had economic aspects (lands newly under cultivation, new agricultural techniques) and social aspects (the rise of free cities). On the level of intellectual life, it can be understood as arising from a movement that began in the eleventh century, probably launched by the Gregorian reform of the Church.…That conflict bears witness to a reorientation of Christianity toward a transformation of the temporal world, up to that point more or less left to its own devices, with the Church taking refuge in an apocalyptical attitude that said since the world was about to end, there was little need to transform it. The Church’s effort to become an autonomous entity by drawing up a law that would be exclusive to it – Canon Law – prompted an intense need for intellectual tools. More refined concepts were called for than those available at the time. Hence the appeal to the logical works of Aristotle, who was translated from Greek to Latin, either through Arabic or directly from the Greek, and the Aristotelian heritage was recovered.
Rémi Brague (The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam)
. But things are not what they seem. The normal Arabic word for “philosophy” was and is falasifa and a “philosopher” is a faylasuf. Plato was a faylasuf and so were Aristotle, Avicenna, Averroes, and al-Farabi. But the word that Rosenthal has translated as “philosophy” in the passage quoted above is hikma, and hikma has a subtly different range of meaning.
Robert Irwin (Ibn Khaldun: An Intellectual Biography)
The philosophy they had lived for starts to die itself. Some strands of ancient philosophy live on, preserved by the hands of some Christian philosophers – but it is not the same. Works that have to agree with the pre-ordained doctrines of a church are theology, not philosophy. Free philosophy has gone. The great destruction of classical texts gathers pace. The writings of the Greeks ‘have all perished and are obliterated’: that was what John Chrysostom had said. He hadn’t been quite right, then: but time would bring greater truth to his boast. Undefended by pagan philosophers or institutions, and disliked by many of the monks who were copying them out, these texts start to disappear. Monasteries start to erase the works of Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca and Archimedes. ‘Heretical’ – and brilliant – ideas crumble into dust. Pliny is scraped from the page. Cicero and Seneca are overwritten. Archimedes is covered over. Every single work of Democritus and his heretical ‘atomism’ vanishes. Ninety per cent of all classical literature fades away. Centuries later, an Arab traveller would visit a town on the edge of Europe and reflect on what had happened in the Roman Empire. ‘During the early days of the empire of the Rum,’ he wrote – meaning the Roman and Byzantine Empire – ‘the sciences were honoured and enjoyed universal respect. From an already solid and grandiose foundation, they were raised to greater heights every day, until the Christian religion made its appearance among the Rum; this was a fatal blow to the edifice of learning; its traces disappeared and its pathways were effaced.
Catherine Nixey (The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World)
It is worth mentioning here that the Western translations of traditional medical systems have always referred to the basic constituents of biological entities as the elements, however, in the tibb system they are termed the basics, origins (‘ousoul, ), or phases, and never as elements. It was the Greek-Sicilian philosopher Empedocles (ca. 450 BCE) who termed the elements the four “roots” (rhizōmata, ιζματα)—a very close term to the Arabic term for origins. Plato seems to have been the one who introduced the term element (stoicheion, στοιχεον). We are using the term elements here because it is ubiquitous in the literature and used to refer to the same concept in Chinese traditional medicine and ayurvedic medicine. Although the ancients’ concepts
Mones Abu-Asab (Avicenna's Medicine: A New Translation of the 11th-Century Canon with Practical Applications for Integrative Health Care)
The New Yorker (The New Yorker) - Clip This Article on Location 1510 | Added on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 5:42:23 PM FICTION THE DUNIAZáT BY SALMAN RUSHDIE   In the year 1195, the great philosopher Ibn Rushd, once the qadi , or judge, of Seville and most recently the personal physician to the Caliph Abu Yusuf Yaqub in his home town of Córdoba, was formally discredited and disgraced on account of his liberal ideas, which were unacceptable to the increasingly powerful Berber fanatics who were spreading like a pestilence across Arab Spain, and was sent to live in internal exile in the small village of Lucena, a village full of Jews who could no longer say they were Jews because they had been forced to convert to Islam. Ibn Rushd, a philosopher who was no longer permitted to expound his philosophy, all of whose writing had been banned and burned, felt instantly at home among the Jews who could not say they were Jews. He had been a favorite of the Caliph of the present ruling dynasty, the Almohads, but favorites go out of fashion, and Abu Yusuf Yaqub had allowed the fanatics to push the great commentator on Aristotle out of town. The philosopher who could not speak his philosophy lived on a narrow unpaved street in a humble house with small windows and was terribly oppressed by the absence of light. He set up a medical practice in Lucena, and his status as the ex-physician of the Caliph himself brought him patients; in addition, he used what assets he had to enter modestly into the horse trade, and also financed the making of tinajas , the large earthenware vessels, in which the Jews who were no longer Jews stored and sold olive oil and wine. One day soon after the beginning of his exile, a girl of perhaps sixteen summers appeared outside his door, smiling gently, not knocking or intruding on his thoughts in any way, and simply stood there waiting patiently until he became aware of her presence and invited her in. She told him that she was newly orphaned, that she had no source of income, but preferred not to work in the whorehouse, and that her name was Dunia, which did not sound like a Jewish name because she was not allowed to speak her Jewish name, and, because she was illiterate, she could not write it down. She told him that a traveller had suggested the name and said it was Greek and meant “the world,” and she had liked that idea. Ibn Rushd, the translator of Aristotle, did not quibble with her, knowing that it meant “the world” in enough tongues to make pedantry unnecessary. “Why have you named yourself after the world?” he asked her, and she replied, looking him in the eye as she spoke, “Because a world will flow from me and those who flow from me will spread across the world.” Being a man of reason, Ibn Rushd did not guess that the girl was a supernatural creature, a jinnia, of the tribe of female jinn: a grand princess of that tribe, on an earthly adventure, pursuing her fascination with human men in general and brilliant ones in particular.
Malcolm X rightly stated: “The burning need today for African people is the generation of good science, technology and political thought in order to remake and resurrect the African world. We must be active builders of civilization and active practitioners of advance science. We must not fear the latter: after all, we were the first advanced scientists, dating back to the time of Imhotep. We bequeathed the scientific and philosophical tradition to the Greeks, who in turn influenced (along with Africans) the Arabs, who returned the favor by reintroducing advanced knowledge in Europe (again, with African help) after the European dark ages. At the time that the Africans and Arabs knowns as Moors relit the intellectual torch of Europe, most Europeans had no idea of their own ancestors’ links to that knowledge. This is not mere speculation: it is a true conception of history. This is real fact.
Uwa Afu (Maat the 11 Laws The Essentials)
Now the author will consider the third name, and perhaps the most outstanding of all: al-Dhât. This word, in Arabic, is also feminine. Allâh is Beyond the Beyond, higher than any action, manner or condition, and any thought that any being may have. This transcendence of all qualities denotes the Divine Feminine. The renowned Sûfî master Najm al-Din Kubra wrote of the Dhât as the "Mother of the divine attributes." On this makam or "level of existence", femininity corresponds to interiority and masculinity to manifestation. The ancient Celtic Druids would perform a strange rite after two people married. The Druid would go into the house in which the marriage was consummated and reappear dressed in the bride's gown. He would do this to demonstrate the balance between the masculine and feminine aspects within himself. The Druids were ancient Celtic priests, shamans and philosophers.
Laurence Galian (Jesus, Muhammad and the Goddess)
As Arab armies conquered Syria (which had been part of the Roman and Byzantine empires), they found Syriac translations of Greek philosophical works. These writings were translated into Arabic, and for a time they became the foundation of Muslim philosophy. Eventually, they were rejected as being inconsistent with Islam. The mullahs decided that Muslims could accept practical works from the conquered people, but speculative thought was out. Christians, however, had long since made their peace with integrating pagan philosophy with the Bible. In fact, since the time of the early Christian writers, theologians had argued that just as the Hebrew prophets were the Jewish world’s road to the truth best expressed in Christianity, philosophers were the pagan world’s road to that same truth. So when Christian scholars found out about the works of Aristotle in Spain, they began to translate them into Latin, the language of the church and of scholarship. These new texts immediately caused a buzz in the scholarly community, because here was a complete, well-developed worldview that answered all of the key philosophical questions that medieval scholars had grappled with. The only question was how to integrate the “New Aristotle” into the intellectual synthesis already in place with the advent of Platonic humanism.
Glenn S. Sunshine (Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home)
The opinion that the survival of Islam itself depended on the use of military slavery was shared by the great Arab historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun, who lived in North Africa in the fourteenth century, contemporaneously with the Mamluk sultanate in Egypt.
Francis Fukuyama (The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution)
Language was critically important to the religious transition. The rise of Islam meant not just the eclipse of Christianity but the near annihilation of what had hitherto been the commonly spoken vernaculars of the Middle East and the Mediterranean world: of Syriac, Coptic, Greek, and Berber. Already in the eighth century, Arabic was the language of politics and administration from Spain into central Asia, although Persian and Turkish would both become critical vehicles for Islamic thought and culture. From the earliest years of the Muslim era, the Arabic language and its attendant culture exercised a magnetic pull for non-Muslims, even for church leaders. As early as 800, Christians like Theodore Abu Qurrah, a Melkite bishop born in Edessa, were publishing their treatises in Arabic. The greatest Eastern Christian philosopher of the tenth century, Yahya ibn 'Adi, wrote in Arabic and lived in a thoroughly Arabized intellectual world. Even in the self-confident world of Syriac literature, ninth-century hymn writers began introducing the Arabic poetic device of rhyme.14
Philip Jenkins (The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died)
, the core of [Al-Kindi's] philosophical enterprise was centered in the geometrical approach to the solution of all problems associated with metaphysics and cosmology. This focus explains the fragmentary nature of the translations from Proclus and Plotinus that he commissioned, just as it explains his philosophical eclecticism: he was interested primarily in the question of the One or God as the first principle and in all the issues – methodological, metaphysical, cosmological – related to that concept; he was, accordingly, fashioning his own approach from the disjecta membra of Greek philosophy available in the written (but not living) tradition. This is why his philosophical thinking does not belong to a school tradition, why it does not rest on preexisting translations of Greek philosophical works, and why it is an original creation, in Arabic, of the intellectualism of early Abbasid society.41
Dimitri Gutas
Al-Kind¯ı’s work revived philosophy as living practice and introduced it in the new social environment of Abbasid Baghdad by making it relevant to its intellectual concerns and widely acceptable as the indispensable means for critical and rigorous thinking based on reason, not authority. The resurrection of philosophy in Arabic in the early ninth century was a revolutionary event, as mentioned above, because up to that point anybody doing philosophy creatively in multicultural post-classical antiquity – regardless of linguistic or ethnic background – did it in Greek, while all the other philosophical activities were derivative from, and dependent upon, the main philosophizing going on simultaneously in Greek. When Arabic philosophy emerged with al-Kind¯ı, however, the situation was completely different: it was from the very beginning independent, it chose its own paths, and it had no contemporary and living Greek philosophy either to imitate or seek inspiration from. Arabic philosophy engaged in the same enterprise Greek philosophy did before its gradual demise, but this time in its own language: Arabic philosophy internationalized Greek philosophy, and through its success it demonstrated to world culture that philosophy is a supranational enterprise. This, it seems, is what makes the transplantation and development of philosophy in other languages and cultures throughout the Middle Ages historically possible and intelligible. Arabic philosophy was also revolutionary in another way. Although Greek philosophy in its declining stages in late antiquity may be thought to have yielded to Christianity, and indeed in many ways imitated it, Arabic philosophy developed in a social context in which a dominant monotheistic religion was the ideology par excellence. Because of this, Arabic philosophy developed as a discipline not in opposition or subordination to religion, but independent from religion – indeed from all religions – and was considered intellectually superior to religion in its subject and method. Arabic philosophy developed, then, not as an ancilla theologiae but as a system of thought and a theoretical discipline that transcends all others and rationally explains all reality, including religion.
Dimitri Gutas
Al-Kind¯ı (ca. 800 – ca. 870), the first to develop philosophical thought as such in Arabic, was a polymath in the translated sciences and very much a product of his age. Like other scientists of his time, he gathered around him a wide circle of individuals capable of advising him on various issues and translating the relevant texts. He commissioned translations of scientific subjects and he himself wrote on all the sciences: astrology, astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, music, and medicine – he even has a treatise on swords.36 This broad and synoptic view of all sciences, along with the spirit of encyclopedism fostered by the translation movement for the half century before his time, led him to an overarching vision of the unity and interrelatedness of all knowledge. At the same time, and as a result of this view, he developed a unitary epistemological approach – namely, that of mathematics. His goal became to approach mathematical accuracy in his argumentation; influenced by both Ptolemy and Euclid, he held mathematical or geometrical proof to be of the highest order
Dimitri Gutas
In the lifetime of the Catalan philosopher and mystic, Ramon Lull (1232–c. 1316), the Iberian peninsula was the home of three great religious and philosophical traditions. Dominant was Christianity and the Catholic Church, but a large part of the country was still under the rule of the Moslem Arabs; and it was in Spain that the Jews of the Middle Ages had their strongest centre. In the world of Ramon Lull, the brilliant civilisation of the Spanish Moslems, with its mysticism, philosophy, art, and science, was close at hand; the Spanish Jews had intensively developed their philosophy, their science and medicine, and their mysticism, or Cabala. To Lull, the Catholic Christian, occurred the generous idea that an Art, based on principles which all three religious traditions held in common, would serve to bind all three together on a common philosophical, scientific, and mystical basis.
Frances A. Yates (The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age (Routledge Classics))
Article 10: Whether symbolic logic is superior to Aristotelian logic for philosophizing? Objection 1 : It seems that it is, for it is a modern development, and would not have become popular if it were not superior. In fact, 99% of all formal logic textbooks in print today use symbolic rather than Aristotelian logic. Objection 2: It is as superior in efficiency to Aristotelian logic as Arabic numerals to Roman numerals, or a computer to an abacus. Objection 3: Aristotelian logic presupposes metaphysical and epistemological realism, which are no longer universally accepted. Symbolic logic is ideologically neutral. It is like mathematics not only in efficiency but also in that it carries less “philosophical baggage.” On the contrary , the authority of common sense is still on the side of Aristotelian rather than symbolic logic. But common sense is the origin, basis, and foundation of all further refinements of reason, including symbolic logic; and a branch should not contradict its trunk, an upper story should not contradict its foundation. All philosophical systems, including symbolic logic, since they are refinements of, begin with, and depend on the validity of common sense, even while they greatly refine and expand this foundation, should not contradict it, as symbolic logic does. (See below.) I answer that at least two essential principles of symbolic logic contradict common sense: (1) the counter-intuitive “paradox of material implication,” according to which a false proposition materially implies any proposition, false as well as true, including contradictories (see Socratic Logic , pp. 266-369); and (2) the assumption that a particular proposition (like “some elves are evil”) claims more, not less, than a universal proposition (like “all elves are evil'’), since it is assumed to have “existential import” while a universal proposition is assumed to lack it, since symbolic logic assumes the metaphysical position (or “metaphysical baggage”) of Nominalism. See Socratic Logic , pp. 179-81, 262-63 and The Two Logics by Henry Veatch. Furthermore, no one ever actually argues in symbolic logic except professional philosophers. Its use coincides with the sudden decline of interest in philosophy among students. If you believe that is a coincidence, I have a nice timeshare in Florida that I would like to sell to you. Reply to Objection 1: Popularity is no index of truth. If it were, truth would change, and contradict itself, as popularity changed — including the truth of that statement. And thus it is self-contradictory. Reply to Objection 2: It is not more efficient in dealing with ordinary language. We never hear people actually argue any of the great philosophical questions in symbolic logic, but we hear a syllogism every few sentences. Reply to Objection 3: Symbolic logic is not philosophically neutral but presupposes Nominalism, as shown by the references in the “/ answer that ” above.
Peter Kreeft (Summa Philosophica)
Malcolm X rightly stated: “The burning need today for African people is the generation of good science, technology and political thought in order to remake and resurrect the African world. We must be active builders of civilization and active practitioners of advance science. We must not fear the latter: after all, we were the first advanced scientists, dating back to the time of Imhotep. We bequeathed the scientific and philosophical tradition to the Greeks, who in turn influenced (along with Africans) the Arabs, who returned the favor by reintroducing advanced knowledge in Europe (again, with African help) after the European dark ages. At the time that the Africans and Arabs knowns as Moors relit the intellectual torch of Europe, most Europeans had no idea of their own ancestors’ links to that knowledge. This is not mere speculation: it is a true conception of history. This is real fact.”  
Uwa Afu (Maat the 11 Laws The Essentials)
However this may be, the preceding explanation has at least made it clear that the Way has two opposite aspects, one positive and the other negative. The negative side is comparable with the metaphysical Darkness of Ibn Arabi. In the world-view of the latter too, the Absolute (haqq) in itself, i.e., in its absoluteness, is absolutely invisible, inaudible and ungraspable as any 'form' whatsoever. it is an absolute Transcendent, and as such it is 'Nothing' in relation to human cognition. But, as we remember, the Absolute in the metaphysical intuition of the Arab sage is 'Nothing', not because it is 'nothing' in the purely negative sense, but rather because it is too fully existent-rather, it is Existence itself. Likewise, it is Darkness not because it is deprived of light, but rather because it is too full of light, too luminous-rather, it is the Light itself. Exactly the same holds true of the Way as Lao-tzu intuits it. The Way is not dark, but it seems dark because it is too luminous and bright. He says: A 'way' which is (too) bright seems dark. The Way in itself, that is, from the point of view of the Way itself, is bright. But since 'it is too profound to be known by man' it is, from the point of view of man, dark. The Way is 'Nothing' in this sense. This negative aspect, however, does not exhaust the reality of the Absolute. If it did, there would be no world, no creatures. In the thought of Ibn Arabi, the Absolute by its own unfathomable Will comes down from the stage of abysmal Darkness or 'nothingness' to that of self-manifestation. The Absolute, although it is in itself a Mystery having nothing to do with any other thing, and a completely self-sufficient Reality-has another, positive aspect in which it is turned toward the world. And in this positive aspect, the Absolute contains all things in the form of Names and Attributes. In the same way, the Way of Lao-Tzu too, although it is in itself Something 'nameless', a Darkness which transcends all things, is the 'Named' and the 'Mother of the ten thousand things'. Far from being Non-Being, it is, in this respect, Being in the fullest sense. The Nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth. The Named is the Mother of ten thousand things. This passage can be translated as follows: The term 'Non-Being' could be applied to the beginning of Heaven and Earth. The term 'Being' could be applied to the Mother of ten thousand things. Whichever translation we may choose, the result comes to exactly the same thing. For in the metaphysical system of Lao-Tzu, the 'Nameless' is, as we have already seen, synonymous with 'Non-Being', while the 'Named' is the same as 'Being'. What is more important to notice is that metaphysically the Nameless or Non-Being represents a higher - or more fundamental - stage than the Named or Being within the structure of the Absolute itself. Just as in Ibn 'Arabi' even the highest 'self-manifestation' (tajalli) is a stage lower than the absolute Essence (dhat) of the Absolute, so in Lao-Tzu Being represents a secondary metaphysical stage with regard to the absoluteness of the Absolute. The ten thousand things under Heaven are born out of Being (yu), and Being is born out of Non-Being (wu).
Toshihiko Izutsu (Sufism and Taoism: A Comparative Study of Key Philosophical Concepts)
That’s the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life. It’s the Master Work of the alchemists. Whoever swallows that elixir will never be sick again, and a fragment from that stone turns any metal into gold.” The Arabs laughed at him, and the alchemist laughed along. They thought his answer was amusing, and they allowed the boy and the alchemist to proceed with all of their belongings. “Are you crazy?” the boy asked the alchemist, when they had moved on. “What did you do that for?” “To show you one of life’s simple lessons,” the alchemist answered. “When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
You want to travel to Greece? You ask for a passport, but you discover you're not a citizen because your father or one of your relatives had fled with you during the Palestine war. You were a child. And you discover that any Arab who had left his country during that period and had stolen back in had lost his right to citizenship. You despair of the passport and ask for a laissez-passer. You find out you're not a resident of Israel because you have no certificate of residence. You think it's a joke and rush to tell it to your lawyer friend: "Here, I'm not a citizen, and I'm not a resident. Then where and who am I?" You're surprised to find the law is on their side, and you must prove you exist. You ask the Ministry of the Interior: "Am I here, or am I absent? Give me an expert in philosophy, so that I can prove to him I exist." Then you realize that philosophically you exist but legally you do not.
Mahmoud Darwish