July 2, 2020

Publisher’s Summary: Available for the first time in the English language, this is a complete and annotated translation of a key work by the twelfth-century Muslim. The philosopher Averroes’ insistence that religion could be reasoned about and yet remain a valid experience shocked the Islamic world to its core, leading to. The first translation available in English of a key work by the twelfth-century Muslim philosopher Averroes, which reveals his controversial views.

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Always ship fast, and great books! Faith and Reason in Islam: Oneworld Publications October 1, Pages: Paperback Description from the publisher: The philosopher Averroes’ insistence that religion could be reasoned about and yet remain a valid experience shocked the Islamic world to its ajd, leading to the burning of his books. This new translation – the only such available in English – of a truly classic work reveals Averroes’ key beliefs about reason and religion, in a clear and accessible faigh.

Suitable for scholars and interested readers alike, this unique text proves that today’s disputes between religion, reason and science are not new, but have their roots in the work of philosophers like Averroes, whose effect upon reasln thought is fully revealed in this fascinating book. He has published several books and many articles on Western and Islamic philosophy, both in English and Arabic, and has lectured in Beirut and Canada.

On proving God’s existence 16 2. On God’s unity 39 3. On [God’s] attributes 45 4. On faitj knowledge of Transcendence 54 5. On the knowledge of God’s actions 78 I The first question: He studied Arabic letters Adabjurisprudence FiqhKalam, medicine and philosophy with a number of teachers, some of whose names are given in the sources. As a result of this meeting, Averroes was asked to expound the works of Aristotle for the use of the Caliph and was appointed religious judge qadi of Seville and shortly after chief judge of Cordova.

Inhe was appointed physician royal at the court of Marrakech. In the same year Averroes was exiled to Lucena, to the southeast of Cordova; though shortly after he was restored to favor. Inhe died in Cordova at the age of seventy-two. Averroes’ writings on philosophy, jurisprudence, theology, and medicine, which have all survived in Arabic or Hebrew and Latin translations, place him in the forefront of writers on fqith subjects in the world of medieval Islam and beyond.

He was recognized in Western Europe, starting with the thirteenth century, which witnessed the translation of his commentaries on Aristotle, as The Commentator, or as Dante has put it, che gran commento feo. These Uslam translations early in that century caused a genuine intellectual stir in learned circles and laid the ground for the rise of Latin Scholasticism, one of the glories of European thought in the later Middle Ages.

However, apart from his contribution to Aristotelian scholarship, which was almost unmatched until modern times, Averroes has dealt more thoroughly than any other Muslim philosopher with theological questions, including the perennial question of the relation of faith and reason, which became the pivotal issue in the Scholastic disputations of the thirteenth century and beyond in Western Europe.

His contribution to those disputations is embodied in three theological treatises: To this trilogy should be added his systematic rebuttal of Al-Ghazali’s onslaught on Islamic Neoplatonism in the Incoherence of the Philosophers Tahafut al-Falasifahwritten in and entitled the Incoherence of the Incoherence Tahafut al-Tahafut.

He begins by defining philosophy as The investigation of existing entities in so averrors as they point to the Maker; I mean, in so far as they are made, since existing entities exhibit the Maker.

Have they not considered the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth and all the things God has created? However, it should islan noted that not all the texts of Scripture i. This threefold division of mankind is confirmed, according to Averroes, by the Qur’an itself which states in verse Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and mild exhortation and argue with them in the best manner. This statement, which is reminiscent of similar statements found in Medieval Scholastic treatises, such as St.

Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, opens with a chapter on the demonstration of God’s existence, followed by a discussion of Faiith unity, His attributes and His transcendence or freedom from imperfection. This first part is then followed by a discussion of divine actions, which include the creation of the world, qverroes commissioning of Messengers, the meaning of the divine decree and predestination, divine justice, and the nature of resurrection.

The book closes with a discussion of the rules of interpretation, which had been at the center of the first volume or The Decisive Treatise, already discussed.

However, this interpretation should not be divulged to the general public, who are not able to fathom its meaning. This leads him to undertake at the outset to draw up a list of those articles of faith which are not open to question and to define the rules of sound interpretation.

The first rule is that none of the Islamic sects mentioned above is competent to formulate the principles of sound interpretation; only the philosophers or the learned are. The second rule is that Scripture, which addresses the three classes of men, the learned, the theologians and the common people, actually uses the three corresponding methods of proof, the demonstrative, the dialectical, and the rhetorical, to ensure that the intention of the lawgiver is understood by them all.


The third rule is that interpretation should be properly understood or applied. The line of demarcation between those parts of Scripture which may and those parts which may not be interpreted and should be accepted by the masses or common people at their face value, is clearly drawn by Averroes. Averroes, who was committed to the complete harmony of religious and philosophical truth, proceeds next to set forth the principal propositions around which consensus can be achieved without violating any rational or philosophical precepts, and which can be regarded as constituting the substance of an acceptable Islamic Credo, so to speak.

The list begins with those propositions that purport to demonstrate the existence of God and his unity. This argument which goes back to the philosopher al-Kindi d.

The first premise of this argument, as Averroes observes, is supposed to be the corollary of the thesis generally adhered to by the Mutakallimun that the world is made up of indivisible particles or atoms, which by nature are evanescent. However, this thesis, according to him, is far from being demonstrable in a manner accessible to the general public or even skilled logicians. Averroes rejects this argument on the ground that the major premise, the contingency of the world, is purely rhetorical and rests on the repudiation of the universal principle of causality, which entails that the world is causally ordered in a way which manifests the wisdom of its Creator.

Thus, whoever repudiates this principle, not only repudiates that wisdom, but is unable in fact to offer a coherent proof of God’s existence. He is, consequently, forced to concede that the world is the product of the blind forces of chance, or simply random ‘Ittifaq.

The former rests on the premise that all existing entities here below have come to exist in order to subserve the interests of mankind and for this reason are necessarily due to a willing and intending Agent and cannot be the product of chance. However, Averroes disagrees with both sects regarding the mode of predicating them of God. Both notions, according to Averroes, are logically absurd. For knowledge is consequent on the existence of its object and so is will. It follows that God knows an entity when it comes to exist or ceases to exist as He wills it to exist or to cease to exist.

To contend that God knows and wills entities created in time by means of an eternal knowledge and will leaves unexplained the lapse of time intervening between God’s will to create an entity in time and its actual coming to exist in time, in the light of God’s infinite power.

The explicit teaching of Scripture, according to Averroes, is simply that created entities are known to God and willed by Him at the very moment He wishes them to exist; it does not determine whether such knowing and willing are temporal or eternal.

Faith and Reason in Islam : Averroes’ Exposition of Religious Arguments (Ibn Rushd)

Such knowledge and will are entirely different from our own and the mode of predicating them of God is unknown to us, as he has stated in The Incoherence. In The Decisive Treatise and The Appendix he states that God’s knowledge of the object is the cause of that object, whereas our knowledge is the effect of the object. God, as the supreme Knower and Maker, must be capable of speech, and this speech is revealed to mankind through the prophets, either directly or indirectly through the intermediation of angels.

God, being the Creator or Maker of these entities must be capable of knowing everything pertaining to them and must, accordingly, possess the two attributes of hearing and sight, whereby they are thoroughly known, not only as objects of thought, but as objects of sense, as well.

IV The first part of The Exposition, as we have seen, deals with God’s existence and his attributes, or de Deo Uno, as the Medieval Latin Scholastic treatises have it; the second part deals with His actions.

Under this rubric, Averroes deals with five questions: The method Scripture itself has adopted is actually the simple method commonly agreed and resting on the principle of providence. The crux of this method is the observation that everything in the world is ordered according to a fixed causal pattern which is conducive to serving the universal goal of the existence and well-being of mankind, as the Qur’an itself asserts in a series of verses.

The question of the duration of the world, which was at the center of Al-Ghazali’s attack on the Muslim Neoplatonists Al-Farabi and Avicenna, and beyond them Aristotle, gives Averroes the opportunity to counter Al-Ghazali’s arguments and reassert Aristotle’s thesis that the world is eternal and indestructible.

Rather the contrary, many Qur’anic verses appear to assert that the form the world is created in reality, but its existence and temporal duration are continuous a parte ante and a parte post. In such cases it is the duty of the learned to interpret such representations; that of the common people to accept them at their face value.

The former, the eternal creation is certainly more appropriate where the actions of the Omnipotent Creator are concerned, since it is inconceivable that an interval or lapse of time should intervene between His willing and His action, as is the case with finite agents.

Faith and reason in Islam : Averroes’ exposition of religious arguments in SearchWorks catalog

This is confirmed by God’s own refusal, in verse The evidence for the miraculousness of the Qur’an is then given by Averroes as follows. First, the theoretical and practical prescriptions which it has laid down are not the product of human ingenuity, but rather of divine revelation, especially since the Prophet who transmitted them to mankind was illiterate.


Compared to the prescriptions embodied in the Scriptures of Jews and Christians, those of the Qur’an are far superior. Secondly, the prognostications islzm in the Qur’an confirm the Prophet’s claims. Significantly, Averroes does not give any instances of those prognostications, unlike the majority of the commentators and biographers islqm the Prophet. Thirdly, the Qur’an’s literary excellence sets it apart from any product of the pen of the greatest Arab literary masters and cannot for that reason be the product of human deliberation or reflection.

For him, the miraculousness of the former is extrinsic, whereas that of the latter is intrinsic, and this proves conclusively that it is superior. The third and fourth questions of the second part of The Exposition deal with two related issues of moral theology, predestination and divine justice. Thus we find in both the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet statements which appear to support free will or acquisition iktisab, kasb and its opposite. What is more, observes Averroes, even the evidence of reason appears to be conflicting, due to the diametrically fait arguments which can be advanced in support of both free will and predestination.

Thus determinism jabr may be criticized on the ground that it renders religious obligation meaningless and any provision for the morrow, in the expectation of bringing about certain advantages and warding off certain disadvantages, entirely irrational.

This in turn would reaon all human arts and crafts futile. To reconcile the two views, as Scripture itself appears to demand, we should understand, as Averroes argues, that human actions are the product of those internal faculties which God has implanted in us as well as those external forces which allow for the realization of our deliberately chosen aims.

God is indeed the real and ultimate Agent, who operates by means of those figurative, secondary agents or causes that He not only creates, but preserves in existence. This is confirmed by both reason and observation. For, but for the specific natures and properties pertaining to existing entities as we know them, on the one hand, and the influence of external, physical agencies, such as the stars, wind, rain, averroes sea, on the other, it would not be possible for plants, animals or humans to subsist, let alone to act effectively in the world.

For it rests almost exclusively on the alleged difference between the voluntary movement of the hand, which they call acquired or free, and the compulsory movement of convulsion.

However, since neither movement, according to them, is due to us, but rather to God, the difference between the two movements turns out to be semantic or even fictitious; it does not contribute in the least to the solution of the problem of free will or acquisition. It follows on this view that the worst sins, such as blasphemy or disobeying God’s orders, would have been just had God commanded them. The Qur’an itself, however, has asserted repeatedly that God is not unjust to his servants” verses 8: They refer to the statements in the Qur’an which speak of God leading astray and guiding aright.

Those statements, rfason argues, should not be taken at face value, because they are contradicted by those other verses, such as verse Thus the responsibility for leading people astray is not God’s, but rather their own natures, the faiht causes operating on them or the two together.

Averroes does not question the thesis that God is the Creator of both good and evil; he simply argues that this thesis should be properly understood. God, in fact, creates the good for its own sake, whereas He creates evil for the sake of the good that may ensue upon it, so that His creating evil cannot be said to be unjust.

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Add to this the fact that if we compare the evil ensuing upon the creation of a certain entity, such as fire, with the parallel good, we will find that the good is definitely preponderant. The common people should be urged wnd accept the view that God creates both good and evil at its face value, lest they should question the measure of God’s power and in particular whether He is capable of creating that which is absolutely good or free from evil.

That possibility is, for Averroes, logically foreclosed, since the creation of the absolutely good, or God’s equal, is logically impossible. For Averroes, survival after death is something upon whose reality all religious scriptures are in accord with the demonstrations of the learned. The various religious scriptures, however, disagree regarding the mode of such survival.

Some have regarded it as spiritual, pertaining readon the soul only; others to both soul and body.

Averroes proceeds next to distinguish three categories of Muslim sects, regarding the mode of survival after death.