Reason & Revelation: Ibn Taymiyyah vs. Asharites

theology

The decisive difference between Ibn Taymiyya and opponents such as al-Ghazali and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi is not about whether reason is a foundation (asl) of revelation –
they all agree that it indeed is – but what claims follow from that. Ibn Taymiyya clarifies this only late in his work, namely at the beginning of the 34th viewpoint (wajh) of his Dar’ T’aarud al-‘aql Wa al-Naql:
“Those who oppose revelation and prioritize their opinion over what the Messenger conveys, they [also] say: “Reason is the foundation (asl ) of revelation. If we prioritized revelation over reason, this would mean the dismissal of the foundation of revelation.” This statement is indeed correct on their part (sahih) if they acknowledge the truth (sihhat) of revelation without objecting [to it].” Continue reading →

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Shah Rafi Uddin’s Metaphysics

blind men

John Godfrey Saxe’s (1816-1887) version of Blind Men and the Elephant:

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

Continue reading →

Shah Rafi’ Uddin’s Risala fi Tatbiq al-Araa

tn_takmil_al-azhanwmShah Rafi’ Uddin, the son of Shah Waliullah, has developed a systematic approach in dealing with differences of opinion in his Risala fi Tatbiq al-Araa‘. He deals with differences of opinion per se – regardless of whether they are theological, educational, or practical – his method is philosophical and it attempts at understanding all differences. This is not to be confused with synthesism nor for that matter a triumphalist attempt at rebutting all opposing opinions but rather he defines it as: Continue reading →

Shah Waliullah’s Hujjatullah al-Baligha

Shazad at Shah Waliullah's grave

At Shah Waliullah’s grave

Shah Waliullah’s project in his magnum opus, Hujjatullah al-Baligha, represents not only an intellectual synthesis of morality, law, theology, mysticism and philosophy but also an anthropological foray into capturing the intellectual, socio-communal, and psychological forces that shape Islam’s paradigm. Continue reading →

Tradition & Change: To Reform or not to Reform?

Blue-Mosque-19

Tradition is here defined as an intellectual tendency or social perspective of continuing the preservation of values, statements, norms and the like from one generation to the next. In contrast, modernity is the social outlook on life which is inclined to break with tradition. It is driven by the force to repudiate traditional values, customs and beliefs in favour of more radical ideas. A delineating feature of modernity is constant change whilst tradition is identified by continuation. Where do we stand regarding these two polarities as religious people?

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Habermas’ ‘Religion in the Public Sphere’

I wish to show the theoretical underpinnings of Habermas’ ‘Religion in the Public Sphere’. Namely, I want to highlight that Habermas’ work is underpinned with a binary position of religion versus the secular; of metaphysical claims against non-metaphysical ones. I want to show that the constraints of defining religion in secular terms presumes religious values to be speculative and therefore as less real than the materiality of other concepts. I want to show that Habermas implicitly suggests that religious reasoning and viewpoints are intrinsically and diametrically opposed to secular reasoning and it is only with the condition of institutional translation proviso that they are relevant in the legislative domain. This is based on a certain definition of religion and is neither based on a sociologically unified political formation nor on a singular religious logic (Mahmood 2009). This dichotomy of characterising religion as such is based on an a priori epistemological assumption of the nature of religion. Continue reading →

Ulrich Beck’s Cosmopolitanism

globepass

The German sociologist, Ulrich Beck, has made key contributions to ideas of how to understand the global in recent times.

His understanding of cosmopolitanism is rooted in how current academic discourse is concerned with theorising about the organisation and reconstruction of social and cultural life within a global framework. Technological advances through cyber communication, economic interdependency, global media coverage, political cooperation and the rise of multiculturalism draw attention to an underlying feature of contemporary times eloquently summed up by Asad as the ‘conquest of space’ (Asad 1982: 13); highlighting the  interconnectedness between societies, where the local becomes global and the global local (Beck 2002).  Coupled with the post 9/11 perceived ‘threat’ of terrorist attacks and the environmental risk factors (Beck 2010) this ‘conquest of space’ calls for a communal (understood globally) and cooperative response. Cosmopolitanism[1] is thus a rethinking of how society, and, by extension, individuals are understood to enable an exploration of the effects these changes bring and to facilitate a well-informed and well-deliberated response. Continue reading →