Adonis Diaries

Reactions to “Why the Arab World is not free?” Part 1

Posted on: June 27, 2010

“Why the Arab World is not free?” : Reactions

Note: I decided to post a reply to the comments on my book review “Why the Arab World is not free?” by Moustapha Safouan; the length of the reactions demanded to be slpit in two parts.  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/why-the-arab-world-is-not-free-by-moustapha-safouan/

One of the comments stated: “I am the son of two civilizations that have formed a happy marriage. The first civilization is 7 thousand years old of Pharaonic Egypt. The second is Islamic of 1,400 years old.

One day the great Pyramids will disappear but Truth and Justice will remain for as long as Mankind has a reflective mind and a living conscience.  A Moslim Caliph returned prisoners of war to the Byzantium Empire in exchange of ancient Greek manuscripts in philosophy, medicine and mathematics. This is a testimony of value for the human spirit in its demand for knowledge; the believer in One God demanded the fruits of a pagan civilization.

It was my fate to be born in the lap of these two civilizations and to feed on their literature and art. The truth of the matter is that Evil is a loud and boisterous debauchee, and that Man remembers what hurts more than what gives pleasure. Our great poet Abul-Alaa2 al Ma3ari was right when he said: “A grief at the hour of death is worse than a hundred-fold of Joy at the hour of birth.”

When the Moslem’s armies extended their territories from Spain to India, they took possession of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Archimedes, and other Greek thinkers. One of the prime reasons attributed to Moslims’intellectual enhancement in the Middle Ages is the considerable influence of Greek philosophy to a rational new religion. Up to the nineth century, Muslim intellectuals valued reason in their interpretation of the Koran and Hadith.  Our present day Moslem heroes are associate with the rational past.

In early Islam, there was a philosophical debate that started with al-Ghazali and resumed by Ibn Rushd; this comprehensive debate led the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II (1451-1481), the conqueror of the Capital Byzantium, to order two of the Empire’ scholars to compile books to summarize the debate between Ghazali and Ibn Rushd.

The philosophy of al-Ghazali was attacking the ideas of the two philosophers Avicenna or Ibn Sina (980-1037) and Farabi who were inspired by Aristotle, Plato, and Plotinus.

Avicenna is known as al-Sheikh Rais (Leader among the wise men); in the west, he is also known as the “Prince of Physicians” for his famous medical text Qanun “Canon”. In Latin translations, his works influenced many Christian philosophers, most notably Thomas Aquinas.

The spread of Hellenistic philosophy in the Muslim world was started by the first Arabic philosopher Kindi (800-865) who wrote many works on Greek science and philosophy.

As a mathematician, Al Kindi realized the importance of Aristotelian logic. Farabi’s ideal rulers would be chosen for their intelligence and education in the sciences, philosophy, and religion.

According to Farabi, the best ruler for the Muslim Empire would be a “philosopher-king”, a concept described in Plato’s “Republic”.  One of the most important contributions of Farabi, beyond his political views and scientific philosophies, was to make the study of logic easier by dividing it into two categories – Takhayyul (idea) and Thubut (proof). He wrote several sociological books, including his famous work – Al-Madina al-Fadila (The Model City). 

In Andalusia (Spain) Ibn Rushd commented on Al Ghazali ,argument by argument, defending the power of rational and investigative thinking; his work became the foundation for Europe Renaissance in understanding Aristotle.

This part of history needs to be written; there are no takers yet.

Orthodoxy in Islam rarely allows the treatise of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037), Kindi (800-865) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) to become the syllabus of mainstream thought process.

A Moslem student might revere Avicenna and Averroes but he is not offered the opportunity to read their works.

If Avicenna and Averroes’s thinking were part of the dialogue within Islam then the sun of the golden era would have never set.

We cannot cite Khayyam as an example of a great poet and completely forget the message he gave. We may disagree with Khayyam but introducing his thinking will help us to determine what pluralism is all about.

The works of our thinkers need to be revisited and their books should form an integral part of our academia. Khayyam is described as an atheist, philosopher, and naturalist.

The constant themes of Khayyam’s poetry are the certainty of death, the pointlessness of asking unanswerable questions, the mysteriousness of the universe, and the necessity of living joyfully the present.

This is clearly reflected in the verses taken from Rubaiyat: “…How much more of the mosque, of prayer and fasting? Better go drunk and begging round the taverns. O Khayyam, drink wine, for soon this clay of yours will make a cup, bowl, one day a jar….”

1 Response to "Reactions to “Why the Arab World is not free?” Part 1"

[…] Part one: Reactions to “Why the Arab World is not free?” […]

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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