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Books > Language and Literature > Islam > Islam (Its Theology & The Greek Philosophy)
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Islam (Its Theology & The Greek Philosophy)
Islam (Its Theology & The Greek Philosophy)
Description

Introduction

 

History of the Theology of Islam like that of its Law is an account of the various ways in which Qur’an was interpreted. The Qur’an, be it remembered, was revealed piecemeal, during the course of 23 years, according as the need arose to solve the problems of life and death, of this World and the Next. The Quranic thought is simple and intelligible and, according to Shafii, those who knew its language, idioms, structure and style could easily catch its meaning. The moment the Companions of the Prophet heard a verse recited to them they forthwith understood what it conveyed.

 

‘But hardly had the first generation of Muslims passed away when the influences of the Roman and Iranian civilizations began to sweep over the new Arab empire. Translations from the Greek literature gave them new literary tastes and initiated them into the art of dialectics. Zest for novelty and inventiveness in approach to everything came to be ever on the increase, with the result that the simplicity of the Quranic manner gradually lost its charm for them. Slowly, step by step, a stage was reached when everything Quranic as attempted to be given an artificial mould. Since the Qur’anic thought could not fit into such mould, serious complications in thought arose, with every attempt, at resolving them, ending in more intricate complications’ (Azad, The Tarjuman al-Qur ‘an tr. Dr. S. A. Latif, vol. 2, p. xi).

 

Thus the way of approach to the meaning of the Quran has undergone numerous influences foreign to its spirit. The Commentators of the Qur’ an, when they found that they could not visualise its real grandeur, tried to give it a meaning which suited their sectarian and philosophic thought.

 

‘The sad result of all this was that the manner of presentation adopted by the Quran was lost in a maze of far- fetched conceits. The strength of the Qur’anic meaning lies in the manner of its presentation. It is that which lends clarity to its statements and observations, and makes significant the import of its stories and parables, its appeals and admonitions, and its purposes. Once the significance of this manner was missed, the true picture of the Quran was lost to sight.

 

‘The manner of argument observed by the Prophets was not to assume logical poses and confuse the hearer. They adopted the natural way of direct appeal, such as might reach every type of mind, and touch every heart. But the Commentators obsessed by the philosophy and logic of Greece could hardly bring themselves to look at reality in its naturalness and appreciate it. They thought that they were honouring their Prophets by turning them into dialecticians. They sought to demonstrate the greatness of the Qur’an by passing it into the framework of Aristotelian logic, hardly realizing that was never its primary object. The result was that the beauty and attraction of the Quranic method of argument and of demonstrating its truth was lost in a network of dialectical disquisitions. In fact, the truth had already been lost. The tragedy was that our commentators could not achieve even what they aimed at. They simply let the door open to doubt and endless speculation. Imam Razi showed the greatest alacrity and ingenuity in promoting this consummation.

 

‘The trouble did not end here. The application of philosophy to the Quranic thought gave rise to numerous dialectical terms, with the result that the simple words of Arabic came to be invested with new connotations. The subject of the Qur’an, it is obvious, is not the philosophy of the Greeks, nor was the Arabic language at the advent of the Qur’an familiar with its philosophic terms. The words employed in the Quran did not originally bear the meaning which was assigned to them in the light of Greek concepts. The transformation led to a variety of speculations, so much so, that words such as Khulfid, Ahadiyat, Mithaliyat, Tafsil, Hujjat, Burhan and Tawil came to bear meanings which the earliest listeners of the Qur’an would never have thought could bear’ (Azad, The Tarjuman al-Qur ‘an, vol. 2, pp. xiv, xv).

 

There is a marked difference between the interpretation the Quran by the Companions of the Prophet and that of their successors. While the former present the Qur’anic meaning in its natural simplicity, the latter give to it a strange visage by making it the subject of subtle disquisitions. In quence, the commentary according to one’s own arbitrary opinion or Tafsir-bir-rai has come into existence whereby the Qur’anic text is pressed to lend support to the views of the Commentators.

 

‘The style of commentary came into vogue in the days in every doctrinal belief of Islam came to be seriously examined and a number of schools of theology took their rise, intent on exploiting the Quran to uphold its own point view.

 

Further, when zealous followers of the different juristic Is among Muslims developed the passion for sectarianism the verses of the Qur’an were exploited to uphold, by hook or by crook their own particular schismatic obsession. Few cared guided by the plain meaning of the plain word of the or by the clear purposes underlying the Qur’anic method of presentation of its contents, or by straight forward reason. Every one attempted to fore the Qur’anic meaning to conform to the views sponsored by the Imam or founder of his schismatic school of thought.

 

Contents

 

Introduction

7

Chapter I: Islam and the Qur’an

21-24

Chapter II: Theology and Its Development

28-33

Chapter III: Greek Philosophy

36-39

Chapter IV: Muslim Philosophers

45-49

Chapter V: Mysticism

52-54

Chapter VI: Modernism

68-75

Chapter VII: Scholastic Theology (Kalam)

76-78

Chapter VIII: Al-Ghazzali and his work

88-98

Chapter IX: Analysis and Assessment

100-111

Chapter X: True Perspective

112-135

Appendix

138-164

Select Bibliography

170

 

 

Islam (Its Theology & The Greek Philosophy)

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Introduction

 

History of the Theology of Islam like that of its Law is an account of the various ways in which Qur’an was interpreted. The Qur’an, be it remembered, was revealed piecemeal, during the course of 23 years, according as the need arose to solve the problems of life and death, of this World and the Next. The Quranic thought is simple and intelligible and, according to Shafii, those who knew its language, idioms, structure and style could easily catch its meaning. The moment the Companions of the Prophet heard a verse recited to them they forthwith understood what it conveyed.

 

‘But hardly had the first generation of Muslims passed away when the influences of the Roman and Iranian civilizations began to sweep over the new Arab empire. Translations from the Greek literature gave them new literary tastes and initiated them into the art of dialectics. Zest for novelty and inventiveness in approach to everything came to be ever on the increase, with the result that the simplicity of the Quranic manner gradually lost its charm for them. Slowly, step by step, a stage was reached when everything Quranic as attempted to be given an artificial mould. Since the Qur’anic thought could not fit into such mould, serious complications in thought arose, with every attempt, at resolving them, ending in more intricate complications’ (Azad, The Tarjuman al-Qur ‘an tr. Dr. S. A. Latif, vol. 2, p. xi).

 

Thus the way of approach to the meaning of the Quran has undergone numerous influences foreign to its spirit. The Commentators of the Qur’ an, when they found that they could not visualise its real grandeur, tried to give it a meaning which suited their sectarian and philosophic thought.

 

‘The sad result of all this was that the manner of presentation adopted by the Quran was lost in a maze of far- fetched conceits. The strength of the Qur’anic meaning lies in the manner of its presentation. It is that which lends clarity to its statements and observations, and makes significant the import of its stories and parables, its appeals and admonitions, and its purposes. Once the significance of this manner was missed, the true picture of the Quran was lost to sight.

 

‘The manner of argument observed by the Prophets was not to assume logical poses and confuse the hearer. They adopted the natural way of direct appeal, such as might reach every type of mind, and touch every heart. But the Commentators obsessed by the philosophy and logic of Greece could hardly bring themselves to look at reality in its naturalness and appreciate it. They thought that they were honouring their Prophets by turning them into dialecticians. They sought to demonstrate the greatness of the Qur’an by passing it into the framework of Aristotelian logic, hardly realizing that was never its primary object. The result was that the beauty and attraction of the Quranic method of argument and of demonstrating its truth was lost in a network of dialectical disquisitions. In fact, the truth had already been lost. The tragedy was that our commentators could not achieve even what they aimed at. They simply let the door open to doubt and endless speculation. Imam Razi showed the greatest alacrity and ingenuity in promoting this consummation.

 

‘The trouble did not end here. The application of philosophy to the Quranic thought gave rise to numerous dialectical terms, with the result that the simple words of Arabic came to be invested with new connotations. The subject of the Qur’an, it is obvious, is not the philosophy of the Greeks, nor was the Arabic language at the advent of the Qur’an familiar with its philosophic terms. The words employed in the Quran did not originally bear the meaning which was assigned to them in the light of Greek concepts. The transformation led to a variety of speculations, so much so, that words such as Khulfid, Ahadiyat, Mithaliyat, Tafsil, Hujjat, Burhan and Tawil came to bear meanings which the earliest listeners of the Qur’an would never have thought could bear’ (Azad, The Tarjuman al-Qur ‘an, vol. 2, pp. xiv, xv).

 

There is a marked difference between the interpretation the Quran by the Companions of the Prophet and that of their successors. While the former present the Qur’anic meaning in its natural simplicity, the latter give to it a strange visage by making it the subject of subtle disquisitions. In quence, the commentary according to one’s own arbitrary opinion or Tafsir-bir-rai has come into existence whereby the Qur’anic text is pressed to lend support to the views of the Commentators.

 

‘The style of commentary came into vogue in the days in every doctrinal belief of Islam came to be seriously examined and a number of schools of theology took their rise, intent on exploiting the Quran to uphold its own point view.

 

Further, when zealous followers of the different juristic Is among Muslims developed the passion for sectarianism the verses of the Qur’an were exploited to uphold, by hook or by crook their own particular schismatic obsession. Few cared guided by the plain meaning of the plain word of the or by the clear purposes underlying the Qur’anic method of presentation of its contents, or by straight forward reason. Every one attempted to fore the Qur’anic meaning to conform to the views sponsored by the Imam or founder of his schismatic school of thought.

 

Contents

 

Introduction

7

Chapter I: Islam and the Qur’an

21-24

Chapter II: Theology and Its Development

28-33

Chapter III: Greek Philosophy

36-39

Chapter IV: Muslim Philosophers

45-49

Chapter V: Mysticism

52-54

Chapter VI: Modernism

68-75

Chapter VII: Scholastic Theology (Kalam)

76-78

Chapter VIII: Al-Ghazzali and his work

88-98

Chapter IX: Analysis and Assessment

100-111

Chapter X: True Perspective

112-135

Appendix

138-164

Select Bibliography

170

 

 

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