Islamic Theology and Philosophy critical writing

Establishing an equilibrium between the Islam of truth and Islam as an identity is one of the most difficult tasks of religious intellectuals.

There are several most ancient religions with long-standing traditions and centuries of interaction, rivalry, and opposition in the world; they are Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. These religions have fundamental differences in their approach to Allah, to the destiny of man, and the position of man in the world, to the sin, good, and evil, to the Judgment day and the code of virtuous, religious behavior. All these religions have delineated areas of influence and geographical regions of domination. However, one can see a clear distinction between the sub-disciplines within every single religion as well, marking their varied and complex development, and their overall complex entity within the scope of human inquiry.

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An illustrative example of this case can be Islam; there are two distinct scholarly traditions within the framework of the Muslim religion Islamic theology and philosophy. As researchers repeatedly note, these two disciplines, though being very closely connected and indispensably tied to the concept of Quran, have been largely isolated from each other throughout the history of the Muslim worlds evolution and formation. The disciplines were juxtaposed, and the followers of these two trends in Muslim thought were educated in different educational institutions, were brought up based on different traditions, etc. The influence of one field on the other (which was typically observed from the side of philosophy towards theology) was through polemics (Watt, 2008).

However, the evolutionary processes of historical development have made the Islamic philosophy field mostly obsolete. Though being opposing disciplines, theology and philosophy were gradually merged in the framework of Islamic religion, and some activists such as al-Ghazali contributed to the incorporation of Islamic philosophical principles in Islamic theology. Nowadays the status of Islamic philosophy is gradually revived, mostly due to the activity of a prominent Pakistani philosopher, thinker, and poet Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) who revived the meaning of Islamic philosophy in the 20th century and worked profoundly on the re-introduction thereof to the scientific insight of Islam (Runner & Runner, n.d.).

Even though there have been so many diverse relationships between the Islamic theology and philosophy field, one should pay much more attention both to the historical roots and the fundamental principles of both to identify the modern state of relationships between the two areas of research. To do this, Islamic theology and philosophy will be at first considered separately to identify the key characteristic features of each area. Ultimately, the two will be compared and contrasted to identify the nature of differences between Islamic philosophy and theology and to identify the touching points of both as well.

Islamic Theology History, Fundamentals, and Modernity
The nature of Islamic culture is highly diverse, but its core remains stable it is deeply philosophical, theological, and metaphysical (Tymieniecka & Muhtaroglu, 2010). The basic features of Islamic theology are derived from the supreme holy writing the Quran, and the prophetic traditions Hadiths (Runner & Runner, n.d.). Though there has been much debate over whether the Islamic religion propagates orthodoxy (the unified dogma) or the orthopraxy (right practice), there is little agreement on the issue, since the basis of Islam is the teaching of right conduct, while the existence of a single, omnipotent Allah is also not doubted (Brown, 2009).

Since ancient times, teaching, discussion, and writing about Quran has been conducted in Arabic, the authentic language of the writing, only, and the enlightenment centers were Iraq and Iran (Hourani, 2007). The first religious group that undertook the responsibility of interpreting the writings of Muhammad was the Mutazilites the party of unity and justice, as they claimed1. They emerged one century after Muhammads death and practiced very strict adherence to the Quran writings. The polytheism (on the example of the Christian trinity) was fully rejected, and the Quran was considered created by one eternal being the Allah. Mutazilites claimed that man would be treated by Allah with intelligible justice, and would be punished by Allah on the Judgment day only in case he committed sins. Thus, Mutazilites gave the power and freedom of will to the hands of believers, stating that it was the decision of man whether to sin or not (Hourani, 2007).

However, the group of Mutazilities faced much opposition; in particular, Ibn Hanbal (d. 855) accused them of transforming the Quran truths through the prism of human ideas, thus distorting the messages incorporated in Quran. More than that, theology was considered idle speculation, and having no practical use for believers, being capable of only casting doubts in their souls (Hourani, 2007). Therefore, a major breakdown in the development of Islamic theology was observed until the emergence of Shiite tradition.

Shiites disagreed with the fundamentals of Mutazilites theology, debating their transcendental doctrine.2 They interpreted Quran more literally and insisted on the movement of Allah in space and the changeability of His knowledge with the changeability of things. However, they soon adopted some basic postulates of Mutazilites such as the freedom of will and choice of men, as well as Allahs objective justice (Hourani, 2007).

Finally, the development of Islamic theology witnessed the emergence of the Sunnite tradition; they represented the traditionalist trend in interpreting Quran and were very careful interpreters, insisting on Allahs omnipotence and unity as the basic attributes of Allah according to Quran. They rejected the values of justice and truth in the human understanding since what was wished by Allah could not be wrong, and the laws of Allah were considered the only justice possible (Hourani, 2007). Since then, the only profound change in the development of Islamic theology was the contribution of Ashari of Basra who generated a subtler theory of justice and included the argument of mans responsibility for his actions and culpability for sins, and of Maturidi of Samarquand who secured the role of creating deeds to Allah, while leaving the choice of how to act to Allah (Hourani, 2007).

Islamic Philosophy: Roots, Focus of Scientific Attention, Prominent Representatives
The Islamic philosophy has a considerably shorter period of development in comparison with Islamic theology, as it emerged only in the 9th century with the translations into Arabic made by Syriac Christian scholars. They translated the works of Plato, Aristotle, parts of Enneads of Plotinus, Galens medicine, Ptolemys astronomy, and geography, Euclids geometry, etc. (Hourani, 2007). Therefore, there are only two sources for Islamic philosophy Greek philosophical teachings, and the Quran. There have been two distinct traditions in Islamic philosophy: Kalam and Falsafa (Runner & Runner, n.d.). The first Islamic philosopher was Kindi (d. 870) who wrote much on philosophy but retained considerable autonomy from the ideas of Greeks due to the idea of the world as not everlasting but created in time.

One more prominent philosopher was Farabi (873-950); he wrote much on Aristotle but followed the Neoplatonic philosophy. He stated that the emanation of the world should occur in successive steps from Allah and other higher intellectual beings; the rules for living encompass reaching happiness by improving the intellectual discipline in the pursuit of unity with the Intellectual soul, the worlds active intellect. The ideal community as seen by Farabi was the caliphate, with a philosophical prophet educating people about Islam and interpreting the Quran for them (Hourani, 2007).

Ibn Sina is considered one of the brightest philosophers in the Islamic tradition; he has written much on the metaphysics of the efficient causality, single expressions, and subject-matter of metaphysics (Marmura, 1984). Ibn Sina founded the school of Avicennism and introduced philosophy to Persians and Arabs in the 9th century. He combined Aristotelianism with Neoplatonism and thoroughly recorded the ideas so that to present the unified philosophy of Islamic religion to the Christian world later (Runner & Runner, n.d.).

Another significant thinker and contributor to the field of Islamic philosophy were Ibn Rushd he defended philosophy against the attacks of theologians, especially al-Ghazali, and claimed that Islam allowed latitude for interpreters to explore the truths of Quran, and philosophers were the most suitable personas for doing this due to their background knowledge of sciences, high education status, knowle4dgeabiltiy, and competence (Hourani, 2007). Ibn Rashd was sure that science and philosophy should not contradict each other, since they both explored the single truth, while religion and philosophy could contradict due to the different angle of approaching the divine (Hourani, 2007). However, Ibn Rashds serious attacks at theologians made him fall in disgrace with the authorities of the Muslim world, which led to his legal condemnation and exile.

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