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philosophical, theological and intellectual thought
Islam has legitimized and approved rational thought, which it considers a part of religious thought. Rational thought in its Islam sense, after confirming the prophecy of the prophet, provides intellectual demonstrations of the a divine revelation, as well as of the definitely established saying of the prophet and his noble Househole.
Intellectual proofs, which aid man in finding solutions for these problems through his God –given nature, are of two kind: Demonstration is a proof whose premises are true (accord with reality )even if they be not observable or evident. In other words, it is a proposition which man comprehends and confirms by necessity through his God – given intelligence, as for example when he known that the number three is less than four, this type of thought is called rational thought, and in case it concerns universal problems of existence, such as the origin and end of the world and of man, it becomes knowns as philosophical thought Dialectic is a proof all or some of whose premises are based on observable and certain data, as for example the case of believers in a religion for whom the common practice is to prove their religious views within that religion by appealing to its certain and evident principles.
The Holy Quran has employed both these methods and these are many verses in the Holy Book attesting to each type of proof. First of all, theQuran commands free investigation and mediation upon the universal principles of the world of existence and the general principles of cosmic order, as well as upon more particular orders such as that of the heavens, the stars, day and night, the earth, the plants, animals, men, etc, It praises in the most eloquent language intellectual investigation of these matters.
Secondly, the Quran has commanded man to apply dialectical though, which is usually called theological. (Kalami) discussion provided it is accomplished in the best manner possible, that is, with the aim of manifesting the truth without contention and by men who possess the necessary moral virtues. It is said in the Quran, Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason [jadil, from jadal] with them in the better way (Quran, XVI, 125).
shi’ism initiative in Islamic philosophy and kalam
As for theology, kalam, it is clear that from the beginning when the shi’ites separated from the Sunni majority the began to debate with their opponents concerning their own particular point of view. It is true that a debate has two sides and both the opponents share in it. However, the shi’ites were continuously on the offensive, taking the initiative, while the other side played the defensive role. In the gradual growth of kalam, which reached its height in 2nd / 8th and 3rd / 9th centuries with the spread of the Mu’tzilite school, shi’ite scholars and learned men who were students of the House hold of the prophet, became among the foremost measters of kalam. Furthermore, the chain of theologians of the Sunni world, whether it be the Ash’arites, Mu’tazilites or others, goes back to the first Imam of the shi’ites Ali.
As for philosophy, those who are acquainted with saying and works of the companions of the prophet (of which the names of 12.000 have been recorded and 120.000 are known to exist) know that there is little in them containing an appreciable discussion of philosophical questions. It is only Ali whose compelling metaphysical utterances contain the deepest philosophical thought.
The companions and the scholars who followed them, and in fact the Arabs of that day in general, were not acquainted with free intellectual discussion. There is no example of philosophical thought in the works of the scholars of the first two centuries. Only the profound sayings of the shi’ite Imam, particularly the first and eighth contain an inexhaustible treasury of philosophical meditations on their Islamic context. It is they who acquainted some of their students with this from of thought.
The Arabs were not familiar with philosophical thought. Until they saw examples of it during the 2nd/ 8 th century in the translation of certain philosophical works into Arabs. Later, during the 3rd/ 9th century, numerous philosophical writings were translated into Arabs from Greek, syriac, and other languages and through them the method of philosophical thought became known to the general public. Nevertheless, must jurists and theologians did not look upon philosophy and other intellectual sciences, which were newly arrived guests, with favor, At the beginning, because of the support of the governmental authorities for these sciences their opposition did not have much effect .but conditions soon changed through strict orders many philosophical works were destroyed. The Epistles of the Brethren of purity, which is the work of a group of unknown authors is a reminder of those days and attests to the unfavorable condition of than epoch. After this period of difficulty, philosophy was revived at the beginning of 4th/ 10th century by the famous philosopher Abu Nasr al- Farabi. In the 5th/ 11th century, as a result of the works of the celebrated philosopher Ibn sina (Avicenna), peripatetic philosophy reached in full development. In the 6th / 12th century shaykh al- Ishraq shihab al- Din suhrawardi systematized the philosophy of illumination ( ishraq) and because of this was executed by the older of salah al- Din Ayyubi. Thereafter, philosophy ceased to exist among the Muslim majority in the Sunni world. There was no further outstanding philosopher in that part of the Muslim world except in Andalusia in the edge of the Islamic world where at the end of the 6th /12 th century Ibn Rushd (Averroes) sought to revive the study of philosophy.
shi’ism contributions to philosophy and the inteuectual sciences
In the same way that from the beginning shi’ism played an effective role in the formation of Islamic philosophical thought, it was also principal factor in the further development and propagation of philosophy and the Islamic. Although after Ibn Rushd philosophy disappeared in the Sunni world, it continued to live in shi’ism. After Ibn Rushd there appeared such celebrated philosophers as khwajah Nasir al- Din Tusi, Mir Damad, and sadr al- Din shirazi, who studied, developed and expounded philosophical thought one after another. In the same manner, in the other intellectual sciences, there appeared many outstanding figures such as Nasir al- Din Tusi (who was both philosopher and mathematician) and Birjandi, who was also an outstanding mathematician.
All the sciences, parti