Manual Al-Andalus (The Heretics Secret Book 6)

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Al-Ghazzali counters with three arguments.


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This motive body may be neither a round body nor a circumference. Second, the heavenly bodies move by the will of God. Third, the heavenly bodies are specifically designed to possess the attribute of movement. And these arguments, asserts al-Ghazzali, cannot be disproved! He quite likes the fact that the philosophers promote inquiry into physical sciences such as mathematics, physics, astronomy, and botany, but he is not too happy with their concept of causality, the assertion that every cause must have an effect.

But in the Incoherence he defends them aggressively — with bizarre consequences. The al-Ghazzali that emerges from the Incoherence is a literalist, antirational scholar who is keen to cast a critical eye on philosophy yet eager to accept dogma and belief, including miracles and irrational sayings uncritically attributed to the Prophet.

His main goal is to show that such metaphysical doctrines as the world having a Creator, that two gods are impossible, or that the soul is a self-subsistent entity, cannot be proved by reason. Given his vast oeuvre, it would be wrong to judge al-Ghazzali on a single work. Moosa argues that al-Ghazzali wanted to augment as well as reinterpret religion by using the Aristotelian notion of poiesis shiriya in Arabic , that is, the construction of something relatively but not radically new by means of poetics.

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Certainly the al-Ghazzali of theological works such as The Revival of Religious Knowledge, The Alchemy of Happiness and Jewels of the Quran, appears to be a different category of scholar. The al-Ghazzali of the Incoherence, however, is overwhelmed by his anger, and this had a genuine cause.

Philosophy, or falsifa as it was called, as shaped by Muslims appeared positively dangerous to theology. And this danger was physical as well as metaphysical. Hatred of theology and its theories was the norm. During his own lifetime, the works of al-Ghazzali were banned in the Maghreb and Andalusia.


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The Berber Almoravids, who controlled large parts of Spain and the Maghreb, did not take kindly to his theology. The Almoravid ruler Ali ibn Yusuf r.

He supported the fanatic Almoravids even though they banned his books! And there is just too much piety and uncritical acceptance of dogma in his work for an inquiring mind to take. Al-Ghazzali lovers often dismiss ibn Rushd as not very spiritual and too enthralled to the Greek masters.

Moosa illustrates this well. Having built up al-Ghazzali as a postmodern deity, he takes a swipe at ibn Rushd. His God is so omnipotent that He leaves no room for human agency; everything can be explained by miraculous intervention. Philosophy and science are thus central to all Islamic pursuits. If it turns out that rational inquiry was not conducted by Muslims but by the ancients that is, the Greeks , then it is incumbent upon Muslims to embrace their thought and learning.

Al-Ghazzali wants to instil fear of God and Hell in his readers; ibn Rushd argues that a society is free when no one acts out of fear of God or Hell, or out of desire for reward in Paradise, but for the love of God and humanity. Al- Ghazzali freely uses hadith authentic and weak, as well as quite irrational and the sayings of sages and saints to make his arguments. Ibn Rushd unapologetically scrutinises the traditional sources with a critical and rational eye. Both were jurists.

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In his legal text, al-Ghazzali denounces most allegorical interpretations as kufr disbelief. Ibn Rushd on the other hand sees such literalism as anathema. Moreover, al-Ghazzali was a misogynist who compared women to ten kinds of animals, all of which except one, the sheep, were nasty. Ibn Rushd, on the other hand, believed that women were prescribed the same ultimate goals as men, that there is no question of men being superior to women. It is men who consider women as animals to be domesticated, or as plants which are sought for their fruit.

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These are traditions made by men to serve their own ends, and they have nothing to do with Islam. There is no long preface throwing abuse and scorn at theologians in general or al-Ghazzali in particular. Ibn Rushd refers to al-Ghazzali by name, and respectfully calls him Sheikh. As Nazry Bahrawi writes in his contribution to this volume of Critical Muslim,. Given that God is not a corporeal entity like humans, His perception of knowledge differs from ours. Ibn Rushd posits that we are shackled by the limits of human understanding to comprehend, much less categorise, Godly knowledge.

Second, ibn Rushd argues that human conduct could not be categorised as being either fully free or fully determined. Rather, it is a bit of both. Humanity is free to choose, but this choice is also one determined by external forces operating in tandem. God simply acts because His eternal nature means that He is not bounded by time — past, present or future. But demolishing the Incoherence was a relatively easy task for ibn Rushd. A more challenging duty was critiquing Muslim Neoplatonist philosophers, specially al-Farabi and ibn Sina. Here, ibn Rushd restores the agency to ordinary believers that both al-Ghazzali and Neoplatonism had denied.

Bahrawi again:. In other words, humanity is an active agent in Islam, and not a passive, predetermined one. It is also this recognition of human agency that leads ibn Rushd to the rejection of a key component of Islamic Neoplatonism — the emanation theory. To subscribe to the emanation theory, ibn Rushd argues, is to deprive all actual entities of any active powers, and to deny the principle of causality.

But then he changes his mind again about the nature of truth in The Niche of Lights. He reiterates this position in The Alchemy of Happiness. So what is one to believe: where is knowledge finally located? Ibn Rushd tries to bring philosophy and religion together in On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy, written in a persuasive style for the educated public. Ibn Rushd argues that philosophy is nothing more than a teleological study of the world. When apparent contradictions arise, it is the function of philosophy to reconcile the contradictions. Unlike al-Ghazzali, ibn Rushd was a product of a pluralistic, multi-religious society: al-Andalus.

Muslims arrived in Hispania, as it was then known, during the early eighth century. Hispania had an established tradition of Hellenic scholarship, art, law, and of questioning imperial authority. Its international fame rested on sophisticated homes in twenty-one suburbs, seventy libraries and numerous bookshops, mosques and glorious palaces. It inspired awe and admiration because it was a haven for thinkers, philosophers, musicians, and writers. But al-Andalus is not a place and time dominated solely by men. Women were more active in this period of Islamic history than in any other, enjoying freedom of movement in the public sphere and reaching high levels of accomplishment.

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Consider the Umayyad princess Walladah, daughter of a Cordoban Caliph, who played host to poets and artists in her Cordoba home, often engaging in poetic contests. Or al-Arudiyyah, who learned grammar and philology from her patron and soon surpassed him. Or Hafsah bint al-Hajja al-Rukuniya, whose beauty and elegance impressed the ruler of Granada, but she chose to be with a fellow poet; or the slave al-Abbadiyyah, a writer of prose and poetry who spoke several languages and eventually married the ruler of Seville. Indeed, women from diverse backgrounds were so prominent in public life that it was taken for granted that they could be leaders of men.

The only question was whether they could be Prophets as well. The opinion of people, according to ibn Hazm was divided into three: those who deny that women can be Prophets and claim that it would be an innovation bida too far, those who argue that Prophethood is possible for women, and a third group who are too confused or afraid to take part in the discussion and abstain. Ibn Hazm himself had no doubt. The overall argument is that there is no limit to what women can do and achieve.

Cordoba, Granada, Toledo and other cities had thriving communities of Arab Jews who participated in and shaped the thought and learning that emanated from al-Andalus. It was in al-Andalus that thinkers and writers of the calibre of Moses Maimonides, one of the foremost Rabbinical scholars and philosophers, who shaped the thirteen principles of Jewish faith, flourished; ibn Gabirol, the philosopher and poet who left an indelible mark on Hebrew literary heritage; and Judah Alharizi, the philosopher who composed Tahkemoni, written in Hebrew in a wellknown Arabic literary genre of rhymed prose.

The output of the Andalusian Jewish poets alone, writes David Shasha, would fill several libraries. But what is really unique about the Jewish thinkers and writers of Andalusia is their synthesis of the spiritual values of monotheistic religion with philosophy and science to produce a humanistic notion of religion. It was against this background that ibn Rushd and ibn Tufayl became bosom pals. The two spent a lot of time together discussing the finer points of philosophy.

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Abu Yaqub was also an avid collector of books and learned men. His court was brimming with thinkers, writers and poets who openly argued and critiqued each other and the Caliph. When Ibn Tufayl brought ibn Rushd into the circle, the Caliph immediately commissioned him to write a commentary on Aristotle.