Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Averroes

Notes and comments on FB and Twitter. Part 31

She is relatively physically functional in the morning. Pains forces her to integrate her sofa. Then she confuses day and night as the days light lengthen.

Les autorités évictent une part du bidonville. Ces “parachitistes” des bédonvilles sont convergés vers une parcel de proprietaires pauvres. Ils construisent leur favela en une journée. Ils attendent que les autorités les evictent et plient bagabes promptement: Les Real Estates developers, aidés des politiciens vereux, s’approprient le terrain.

“L’âme libre n’a cure ni de honte ni d’honneur, ni d’enfer ni de paradis, ni d’amour ni de haine…” Was Marguerite Porete, brulee vife en 1310, transcrivait le sufi Al 7allaj?

“Le mirroir des simples ames aneanties et qui demeurent en vouloir et desir d’ Amour” Le titre du livre de Marguerite Porete en 1306. Elle fut brulee en place de Greve en 1310 pour avoir refusé de comparaitre devant l’inquisiteur de Paris. Ses idees etaient proche de Maitre Ekhart et Dante

Même en changeant de maison, la famille avait du mal a chasser l’idee que la femme fantome sans-gene n’avait pas démenage avec eux.

J’etais si heureux que mon pere a finallement sue que je ne pourrais plus poursuivre mes etudes que c’etait comme si j’avais obtenu mon diplome.

Gutierrez? The new UN rascal Chief? He pressured ESCWA Rima Khalaf to resign because she submitted documented report on Israel very bad records on Human Rights

Over 60% of Palestinians in Occupied territories have experienced administrative detention for months with no trials. Everyday, Israel make it a routine to detain a dozen Palestinian youths for intimidation and humiliation tactics

In all critical revolutions, Bills for Women Rights were totally forgotten or ignored. Even equitable consideration between sexes were Not discussed 

Le plus dur est fait: mon parcours sur terre quand j’etais jeune

La mort est plus ami que tout autre ami, et plus puissante qu’aucune des vertus

Même la realite se trompe quand l’écriture est mauvaise

It is the multiple pains that remind old people that they are still living

Aide-soignante pour les vieillards a domicile. Surtout pour les laisser parler, ecouter et se sentir en securité que quelqu’un viendra cette semaine pour leur render visite

Quand la fille fait la gueule a 20 ans, c’est sexy. A 60 ans, c’est chiant. Une femme est condamnée a un certain age a la bonne humeur

Les poussins males qui ne peuvent devenir poullets sont broyés vivant dans les industries

Don’t count on global human empathy. Only the little drama on the street demands details and requires security instructions

Un risque trop élevé efface la réalite des centaines de petites risques quotidienne qui nous tuent haphazardement.

Le temps du Purgatoire est une longue preparation a la souveraineté humaine. Trop longue: n’espérez plus de visiter l’Enfer ou le Paradis pour attendre quoique ce soit.

C’est la fenêtre qui fait la chamber. Pas seulement la vue et la lumiere, mais les rideaux et les bords de la fenetre

Quand on decide d’inviter une douzaines de personnes a diner, c’est premiérement une punition, a soi et aux autres

Dante prepared the path to revolt against Papal Rome. Les abus des Papes simonisme et nepotisme. La separation des pouvoires temporelles et spirituelles.

Dante adopted the same concepts of Averroes (Ibn Roshd), 200 years earlier in Andalusia

La plus heureuse des experiences c’est quand on comprend qu’il faut apprendre a lire les hieroglyphs de la realite, sans frapper aux portes ou poser des questions.

If it were Not for the nationalization of Suez canal crisis in 1956, this binary pole of USA Capitalism and Soviet Communism dominion would have taken longer to materialize, and the European Union would have waited far too long to be shaped and agreed upon. The EU was a reaction to the dual global dominion.

Ibrahim Ameen 7at al nikaat 3ala 7ourouf: Banks reserves in 1992 was $300 million. Jumped to current $170 billion.

Riad Salameh (central bank chief for 20 years) has impoverished the Lebanese people by obeying the mindless option of privatizing everything in Lebanon and destroying all public institutions.

One third of any bond offering is allocated to foreign banks, Not because the Lebanese banks cannot cover the loan but so that Riad Salameh can be rewarded as best Central Bank Chief and to deny most Lebanese banks from enjoying hal ghalleh

Si on censurait les mots Allah, Dieu, God…, comme étant des termes erotiques, peut- etre qu’un changement se déclencherait

Maimonides (1138-1204) resurrects Ibn Rushd (Averroes) rational works

Maimonides (Mussa ibn Maimun) was 12 years younger than Ibn Rush (Averroes); they both were born in the same cultured city of Cordoba (southern Spain).

Cordoba was for over a century the center of intellect and civilization around the Mediterranean Sea basin.  In 1149, the family of Maimonides were given the option of leaving the city or convert to Islam:  A new Islamic tribe from Morocco (Almohades or the Al Muwahhidun) imposed a conservative climate in that free-spirited city where Moslems, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony.

The fathers of Maimonides and Ibn Rush are friends:  Ibn Rushd’s father is a Moslem judge while Maimonides’ father is a Rabbi of the Jewish community. Maimonides’ father encouraged the Jews who could not afford to leave to convert to Islam:  Islam is one of the purest monolithic religion and the mosques have no idols, icons, or pictures, on the basis that in due time, converted Jews can leave in order to resume their traditional ceremonies and way of life.

The family of Maimonides opted to leave:  It stays in Toledo (a city under King Alphonse VII of Castile), then move on to southern France to join a large Jewish community.  In 1160, the family is in Fez  (Morocco) and stayed there for 5 years; the family transfer to Tanger where Ibn Rushd is judge there.

In 1165, the family immigrated to Palestine. The father dies in Akka.  Maimonides is head of the family and they move to Alexandria (Egypt) and then to Fostat, 5 miles away from the Capital Cairo.  Maimonides will remain there and become the Ayubid Sultan’s physician.

Maimonides relied on Ibn Rushd’s works to perpetuate the rational and scientific trend.  He wrote:

“We may dispense of Platon’s works:  Aristotle’s works suffice, since they are the foundations and roots of scientific rational methods.  Aristotle’s works are difficult and many propositions cannot be comprehended without the commentaries and interpretations of Ibn Rushd.”

When Ibn Rushd was banned from publishing books or communicating what he wrote  in the last six years of his life, the increased pressures on Ibn Rushd’s freedom of expression resulted in regular events of  public burning of the scholars’ manuscripts.  Luckily, copies reached Cairo, northern Spain, and southern France (Languedoc province) where they were read and translated in Hebrew, Latin, and local languages.

As Ibn Rushd, Maimonides believes that “It is proven that all actions done by man emanate from his own volition.  No external forces oblige him to tend to virtue or evil doing.  Every man can become just or guilty, good or bad; it is his own will that select the way of what he desires.  If we suffer, it is by what we inflict upon ourselves; we tend to attribute our pains as originating from God. Mankind is but another species and element in this cosmos and the universe does not revolve around man.  God is but an abstract concept, even if the Books refer to hands and fingers of God just to accommodating the limited abstraction power of common people.  God should not be described as good, benevolent, compassionate, jealous or any other character attributes since they will break the unity of God.”

In 1199, Judah bin Tibon, who had been translating Maimonides works from Arabic to Hebrew in southern France, expressed the desire to visit him in Cairo. Maimonides discouraged Tibon to undergo this perilous voyage since he won’t have time to meet with him because of his tight schedule.

Maimonides wrote:  “Early every day I have to ride 5 miles to check on the health of the Sultan, his extended family, and the officials in the castle.  I rarely returns home before late in the afternoon.  When I arrive I am met by many visitors, judges, notable people, and mostly patients waiting for health check up.  I barely have time to have my only meal of the day.  By the time the patients are gone it is late at night, frequently until 2am.

On the Sabbath, the Jewish community pay me visit after morning prayer and we study till noon and give them instructions for the week. Frequently, they return after the afternoon prayer and we study some more til evening prayer.  Thus, I never have time for any private meeting.”

Maimonides spread the advice of Ibn Rushd:  “Have no fear searching for truth in sciences.  Truth cannot contradict truth; sciences is in accord with God’s revelations. God has nothing to fear when you use your rational intelligence to discovering the universe and the causes of phenomenon.  Dialectical and rhetorical reasoning cannot compensate for demonstrative reasoning.

Generally, common people confuse inferences with conclusions that are drawn from several premises. For example:  common people say “this person is a thief because he was seen wandering at night” and do not evaluate all the other factors that determine a thieving behavior.  Common people conclude that they will see God as we see the sun when they are told that God is light.

Learned people comprehend that beatitude and grace increase knowledge.  Truth is not intuitive but the accumulation of knowledge; we cannot become astronomer without learning and assimilating geometry and mathematics. Forbidding people from applying scientific methods on the ground that they lead to errors, abuse, and blasphemy is like forbidding someone from drinking lest he dies of thirst on the excuse that some people die from drowning.

Scientific methods of reasoning is not meant to defining God or the operations that lead to the creation of the universe:  It attests to its existence.  We cannot apply to God the categories and human concepts””

In 1180, Maimonides wrote to a Jewish community in Yemen asking for a second opinion:  A Jew proclaimed to be the Messiah

“It is not rare that such type of persons appears in history.  The Messiah cannot keep the promises that this person is spreading of happy eternal life:  The Messiah is not to change the laws of nature; pain, suffering, and injustice will not disappear; deserts will not become green and mountains will not be leveled out. The Messiah is not supposed to be a supernatural entity but someone to put an end to violence.  Those proclaiming to be messiah are but charlatans and mentally sick.”

One of the most known manuscripts of Maimonides is “Guide to the perplexed” or those who cannot help it but constantly raise questions relevant to the meaning of life, the universe, the identity of God… He suggested that the perplexed person gets on with the effort of studying philosophy and apply reason and scientific methods to resolving their uneasy conditions.

In Central Europe of the 18th century, the Hasidic Jewish sect would proclaim Maimonides and all the followers who consider him as their spiritual leader as “heretics”.  Nevertheless, Maimonides works influence Spinoza, Kant, Fichte, Darwin, Freud, Lancan, and Leo Strauss.

Ibn Rushd dared reflect on every single question exposed by the civilization of the period concerning the coherence among religious dogmas and scientific verities; he dared to write his answers.  Maimonides reflected too on the corny questions but refrained from writing them down; you could know his positions by inference to his answers.

A brief background:  In Maimonides life, Europe is still battling among its various Christian schisms of monophysite, Niceans  (Catholics), Nestorians, Arianus followers (predominant among the Germanic and Slavic people).  The Calif of Baghdad is reduced to a figure-head while the Turkish princes are the main power (the Mogul hordes will soon sack and destroy (in 1250) this famous city of Baghdad that concentrated 3 million urban citizens back then).

The Western Roman Empire had vanished, and the Byzantium Empire was weakening (soon will be reduced to a vassal condition to the Ottoman expanding power in Turkey).  Papal Rome is being selected by the Germanic monarchs as well as the bishops, and in many occasions, two popes are elected and backed by various monarchs. The political and military confrontations among the many Christian religious schisms on the nature of Jesus have taken their toll on Europe.

The crusaders are loosing their grips in the eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and Saladin recaptured Jerusalem.  The Catholic monarchs of Castile and Aragon (Spain) had started the “reconquista” and Andalusia was wracked by wars among the multiple small kingdoms of Islamic monarchs; these internal wars were called “wars of Tawaif”.  In

In 1112, Ibn Tumar, a literate Berber from Algeria who spent ten years in Iran, returned to proclaim that he is the awaited “hidden” Mahdi (since 874) of the Islam sect the Shias and formed the Almohades (Al Muwayidun) or united Islam.

The Spanish Catholic monarch Alphonse 7th put siege to Cordoba in 1148.  The  Caliph of Cordona Abd Mu2min calls on the Almohades for rescue and outset the Almoravids dynasty (Al murabitun) or the ones in vigilance.  The Almoravids originated from Mauritania and were a powerful tribe of traders in the western Sahara that captured Morocco.

In 1497, Papal Rome encouraged the institution of a university in Padua (Italy) to teaching Aristotle’s works and be translated directly from ancient Greek.  It was a strategy of ignoring the influence of Islamic culture that was spreading in Catholic Europe.  The Renaissance scholars dared not communicate the sources of their knowledge and learning.

Since then, European scholars have continued this custom of deliberately ignoring seven centuries of Islamic civilizations when accounting for western Europe civilization.

Note 1:  I refrained to approach the theological questions and their corresponding responses because I am not interested in abstract concepts that lack demonstrative methods for confirming or denying veracity. Mind you that current borders among the Maghreb States were delimited by the mandated powers of France and Spain. Unless we know exactly the name of the towns and regions, it is difficult to confirm from which current State the persons were from…

Note 2: Ahmed sent me an interesting comment stating that Maimoune had racist attitudes, pretty normal during the Middle Age and and still going strong even today.

“I copied and pasted the translation you mention from the following website:

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2011/01/judaism-or-racism-the-rambams-view-of-black-people-456/comments/page/2/

This website gives the source as the following: Maimonides, Guide To The Perplexed, Translation from the Hebrew Version.

The popular Jewish Israeli thinker Israel Shahak confirms that Maimonides did indeed express anti-black racist views, also confirming that Kushite means Black people in his book called, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years,” which was first published in 1994 by Pluto Press. It can be found online here:

http://www.iamthewitness.com/books/Israel.Shahak/Jewish.History.Jewish%20Religion-The.Weight.of.Three.Thousand.Years.pdf

Understandably translations vary from author to author and an example of this can be downloaded from the University of California internet archive:

http://archive.org/details/guideforperplexe00maim

Download the PDF book. On page 384 you will see the racist quote and the context.

The version of the book I have at home is translated by Michael Friedlaender. You can find it Online here:

http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1256&Itemid=27

Go to Part Iii, Chapter Li. The second paragraph is the following:

“I will begin the subject of this chapter with a simile.

A king is in his palace, and all his subjects are partly in the country, and partly abroad. Of the former, some have their backs turned towards the king’s palace, and their faces in another direction; and some are desirous and zealous to go to the palace, seeking “to inquire in his temple,” and to minister before him, but have not yet seen even the face of the wall of the house. Of those that desire to go to the palace, some reach it, and go round about in search of the entrance gate.

Others have passed through the gate, and walk about in the ante-chamber; and others have succeeded in entering into the inner part of the palace, and being in the same room with the king in the royal palace. But even the latter do not immediately on entering the palace see the king, or speak to him; for, after having entered the inner part of the palace, another effort is required before they can stand before the king—at a distance, or close by—hear his words, or speak to him.

I will now explain the simile which I have made. The people who are abroad are all those that have no religion, neither one based on speculation nor one received by tradition. Such are the extreme Turks that wander about in the north, the Kushites who live in the south, and those in our country who are like these. I consider these as irrational beings, and not as human beings; they are below mankind, but above monkeys, since they have the form and shape of man, and a mental faculty above that of the monkey.”

Averroes (1126-1198): Civilization after Ibn Rushd of Cordoba

Have no fear searching for truth in sciences.  Truth cannot contradict truth; sciences is in accord with God’s revelations.  God has nothing to fear when you use your rational intelligence to discovering the universe and the causes of phenomenon.  How unjust is the one raising obstacles between man and science:  Science is the road to perfection.  Opposing learning and applying science is contrasting with God’s purpose, since the divine project is to realizing such perfection”

That is basically what Ibn Rush (known as Averroes) tried to convey to civilization through his abundant writings in medicine, sciences, astronomy, philosophy, jurisprudence, and theology.  Ibn Rush would be known as “Al hafeed” (the grandson): The grandfather Muhammad Ibn Rushd was a well-renowned judge in Cordoba.

A brief background:

Cordoba in Andalusia, southern Spain, was the main center of culture and civilization in that century:  Moslems, Christians and Jews were living in harmony and tolerance was the rule, while Europe is battling among its various Christian schisms.

Baghdad was declining and the Mogul hordes will soon sack and destroy this famous city in about 1250.

The Western Roman Empire had vanished, and the Byzantium Empire was weakening and soon will be reduced to a vassal condition to the Ottoman expanding power in Turkey.

Papal Rome is being selected by the Germanic monarchs as well as the bishops, and in many occasions, two popes are elected and backed by various monarchs. The political and military confrontations among the many Christian religious schisms on the nature of Jesus have taken their toll on Europe.

The crusaders are loosing their grips in the eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and the Turks are counter attacking and recapturing lost territories.

The Catholic Prince of Castile and Aragon (Spain) had started the “reconquista” and the Andalousia was wracked by wars among the multiple small kingdoms of Islamic monarchs; these internal wars were called “wars of Tawaif“.

In 1070, the monarch of Seville conquered the tolerant republican Cordoba.

In 1112, Ibn Tumar, a literate Berber from Algeria who spent ten years in Iran, returned to proclaim that he is the awaited “hidden” Mahdi (since 874) of the Islam sect the Shias and formed the Almohades (Al Muwayidun) or united Islam.

The Spanish Catholic monarch Alphonse 7th put siege to Cordoba in 1148.

The Caliph of Cordoba Abd Mu2min calls on the Almohades for rescue and outset the Almoravids dynasty (Al murabitun) or the ones in vigilance.  The Almoravids originated from Mauritania and were a powerful tribe of traders in the western Sahara that captured Morocco.

In 1154, Ibn Rushd is presented to the heir of the Almohades monarch Abu Yaacub Yussuf by his friend Ibn Tufayl.

Abu Yaacub Yussuf asked Ibn Rushd to condense the works of Aristotle in a clear commentary so that most literate Moslems could read and understand.  Prince Abu Yaacub Yussuf had read the translated Aristotle’s works into Arabic but needed intelligent interpretations of difficult topics.   That is how Ibn Rushd ended up producing 88 volumes in 20,000 pages of Aristotle’s’ works from philosophy to zoology.

Ibn Rushd program was to decipher the Koran, discovering the means to comprehending the universe, and thus, extracting the truth.  For that end, he had to read the works of all philosophers, and first among them Aristotle. Complex concepts generated such remarks from Ibn Rushd: “If Aristotle didn’t study this topic, it would be very difficult to comprehend it.  Aristotle is such a norm in nature, a model that nature invented to seeking human perfection

Ibn Rushd is so versed in Aristotle rational thinking that he corrected many errors in translated versions.  To Ibn Rushd, rational thinking and revealed knowledge are independent and one method cannot explain the other:  the two ways lead to the same truth.  Al Farabi, a much earlier Islamic philosopher affirmed that reason should have the first and last word in matter of faith.

As Ibn Rushd commented: “Theologians distort sacred texts and interpose between the common people and men of knowledge to control the people. They are the kind of teachers who don’t teach art but the results of arts.  They don’t teach how to fabricate shoes but rather offer varieties of shoes to select from.”  They are our modern salesmen who ejaculate technical words but have no idea what they are talking about.

Dialectical and rhetorical reasoning cannot compensate for demonstrative reasoning. Ibn Rushd wrote: “generally, common people confuse inferences with conclusions that are drawn from several premises. For example:  common people say “this person is a thief because he was seen wandering at night” and do not evaluate all the other factors that determine a thieving behavior.  Common people conclude that they will see God as we see the sun when they are told that God is light.  Learned people comprehend that beatitude and grace increase knowledge.  Truth is not intuitive and we have to accumulate knowledge; we cannot become astronomer without learning and assimilating geometry and mathematics.”

Ibn Rushd is not professing the existence of two truths:  The Koran is a guide toward acceding to truth, which is necessarily scientific.  “What conforms to truth, which we receive from the Aristotelian scholars, we accept with joy and recognition. What does not conform to truth we will signal it so that to be on our guard and we excuse them for the untruth.

He stated that what counts in a method in satisfying the conditions of validity and that is sufficient in scientific methods, which he calls “sacrifice”:  Reason has the job of eliminating errors in order to re-establishing order in society. “Forbidding people from applying scientific methods on the ground that they lead to errors, abuse, and blasphemy is like forbidding someone from drinking lest he dies of thirst on the excuse that some people die from drowning.  Scientific methods of reasoning is not meant to defining God or the operations that lead to the creation of the universe:  It attests to its existence.  We cannot apply to God the categories and human concepts

Ibn Rushd believed in a collective soul “the abstract intellect” after death but not on individual basis; thus, after death individual memories and imagination power are lost for ever

Ibn Rushd dared reflect and answer all the corny questions that civilization was dealing with in order to finding order, coherence, and harmony between religious dogmas and rational thinking.

Reading, interpreting and commenting Aristotle’s works were back in fashion in Cordoba at the instigation of a new Sultan Abu Yaakub Yusuf, with Capital in Fez (Morocco).

Ibn Rushd wrote: “The future is dependent on the education of women and equality between genders. Nations where the capabilities of women are ignored, where women are considered just good for procreation and maintaining the upkeep of the family are cancelling the other important activities of women. As a female are not recognized human vitues they are reduced to vegetative status.  One of the main reasons that these nations are in poor economic situations is that women are terrible burden to development of the society.”

The successor of Sultan Yusuf came under heavy pressures from the salafist, very conservative Moslems to crack down on Ibn Rushd liberty of expression.  Ibn Rushd was banned from publishing books or communicating what he wrote for his own pleasure.  The pressures resulted to initiating public bonfires burning the scholars manuscripts.  Luckily, copies reached Cairo and southern France where they were read and translated in Hebrew, Latin, and local languages.

Moise ibn Maimuna (Maimonides), 12 years younger than Ibn Rushd and originally from Cordoba, was at the period settled in Cairo and was the official physician of the Caliph.  Maimonides relied on Ibn Rushd’s works to perpetuate the rational and scientific trend.  He wrote: “We may dispense of Platon’s works:  Aristotle’s works suffice since they are the foundations and roots of scientific rational methods.  Aristotle’s works cannot be comprehended without the commentaries of Ibn Rushd.”

In 1497, Papal Rome encouraged the institution of a university in Padoua (Italy) to teach Aristotle’s works and be translated directly from ancient Greek.  It was a strategy of ignoring the influence of Islamic culture that was spreading in Catholic Europe.

The Renaissance scholars dared not communicate the sources of their knowledge and learning. Since then, European scholars have continued this custom of deliberately ignoring seven centuries of Islamic civilizations when accounting for western Europe civilization.

Ibn Rushd medical textbook “Kulliyat” known as Colliget was taught in Europe for many centuries.  Another famous scholar, Ibn Sina, known as Avicenne, wrote in the 10th century, 300 manuscripts, of which 50 are in scientific fields and 40 in medicine. His “Canon of medicine” was taught in Europe till the 18th century as a fundamental textbook.

Note:  I refused to approach the theological questions and Ibn Rushd’s responses because I am not interested in abstract concepts that lack demonstrative methods for confirming or denying veracity.

“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 https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/why-the-arab-world-is-not-free-by-moustapha-safouan/

            One of the commentarors wrote: “I am the son of two civilizations that have formed a happy marriage. The first civilization is seven thousand years old of Pharaonic Egypt; the second is Islamic of one thousand four hundred 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 debaucherer, and that Man remembers what hurts more than what gives pleasure. Our great poet Abul-3Alaa2 al Ma3ari was right when he said: “A grief at the hour of death is more than a hundred-fold Joy at the hour of birth.”

            When the Moslem’s Armies extended their territories from Spain to Persia, 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 associate with the rational past.

            In early Islam there was a philosophical debate that started with al-Ghazali and resumed by Ibn Rushd and 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 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 Moslim world was expounded by the first Arabic philosopher Kindi (800-865) who wrote many works on Greek science and philosophy. As a mathematician Kindi realized the importance of Aristotelian logic. Farabi’s ideal rulers would be chosen for their intelligence and educated in science, philosophy, and religion. According to Farabi, the best ruler for this Muslim state 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. Khayyam, drinks wine, for soon this clay of yours will make a cup, bowl, one day a jar….”

            The Iranian Shirin Ebadi is another Nobel laureate suffering at the hands of the radicals. Shirin Abadi, Islam’s most famous civil rights activists and a Nobel Prize winner, said in her acceptance speech: “Allow me to say a little about my country, region, culture and faith. I am an Iranian. A descendent of Cyrus The Great. The Charter of Cyrus the Great is one of the most important documents that should be studied in the history of human rights. I am a Muslim. In the Koran the Prophet of Islam has been cited as saying: “Thou shalt believe in thine faith and I in my religion”. That same divine book sees the mission of all prophets as that of inviting all human beings to uphold justice. Since the advent of Islam, Iran’s civilization and culture has become imbued and infused with humanitarianism, respect for the life, belief and faith of others, propagation of tolerance and compromise and avoidance of violence, bloodshed and war. The luminaries of Iranian literature, in particular our Gnostic literature, from Hafiz, Mowlavi [better known in the West as Rumi] and Attar to Saadi, Sanaei, Naser Khosrow and Nezami, are emissaries of this humanitarian culture.”

            The dark ages within any civilization is characterized with dogmatic extremism that denies civil liberties, including freedom of religion and justice or the right to a fair trial. ‘Golden age’ on the other hand should be about the freedom of expression and availability of justice for the downtrodden. A society is judged not by its standards of the richest but by the way the under privileged and the poorest live. A minor renaissance within the regions under the influence of Islam can be traced but the conditions that help ‘seeds of reason’ to take roots that are essential for freethinking were just not allowed to be nurtured.

            Unfortuntely, in the current Arab world, the true values are rarely ever discussed freely. During the ‘Golden Age’ periods there was particularly strong tradition of rationalism known as the Mu3tazalah. They stressed that man is inherently free and were skeptic on the predestination concept that everything was foreordained. The Mu3tazilat carefully cultivated an ‘enlightened moderation’ and allowed for the growth of knowledge and actively promulgated the Sciences as a part of the religion doctrine.

            Muslim countries supply 70 per cent of the world’s energy requirements and 40 per cent of its raw material exports. With all of their oil wealth, two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in Muslim countries. This state of misery is unparalleled; Islam’s inability to translate its economic prowess into general good has baffled the intelligentsia of the world. In the last 20 years over one million people died in conflicts involving intra Muslim wars. Why are democracy and the rule of law nonexistent in most Moslim states? Why are most of the worst acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam? Whenever wicked fundamentalists have taken over reins of affairs they have gone for the jugular. Extremists have a single point agenda whereby ‘worldly decadence’ needs to be abolished for blessings and rewards in the after world. No devotion can gratify the extremists; every strain of deviancy over times has its own brand of virtuous approach; these anarchists at one point have inflicted devastation on embryonic societies of Islam.

            Renaissance cannot be tainted with colour of ideology, it cannot be “Islamic or Christian”,  it is a collective effort of minds to seek freedom from dogma and seek answers to complex questions of purpose of existence on this planet. Free thinking, logic and rationalism have to be the corner stone of any serious attempt to induce renaissance in the Islamic world. Pluralism of ideas and the prosperity of any land are intertwined. Freedom of minds and skill to ‘think the unthinkable’ is how humanity has progressed; when minds are incarcerated nothing endures.

            Renaissance within all three monolithic religions was built around norms of free mind; Renaissance was about literature, architecture, arts and chiseling of marble to exquisite forms. The statue of David could only be created by the love of the free labor of Michelangelo: an enslaved mind could never be an artist or a creator. Physically enslaved men with free minds led revolutions and changed the world: they were ready to accept death instead of compromise with totalitarian or dogmatic despotism.

            The first and foremost challenge that Islam has to face is freedom of intellectual enquiry, ability to ask the unthinkable and still be able to live in peace within a society. Prof. Ahmad Zewail’s use of the fast laser technique can be likened to Galilei’s use of his telescope that he directed towards everything that lit up the vault of heaven. Zewail tried his femtosecond laser on literally everything that moved in the world of molecules. He turned his telescope towards the frontiers of science. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry because he was the first to conduct experiments that clearly show the decisive moments in the life of a molecule – the breaking and formation of chemical bonds. He has been able to see the reality behind Arrhenius’ theory.

            Prof. Ahmad Zewail acceptance speech like Ebadi’s referred to his richness of twin civilisations that of Islam and Egypt; he said: “Let me begin with a reflection on a personal story, that of a voyage through time. The medal I received from his Majesty this evening was designed by Erik Lindberg in 1902 to represent Nature in the form of the Goddess Isis – or eesis – the Egyptian Goddess of Motherhood. She emerges from the clouds, holding a cornucopia in her arms and the veil which covers her cold and austere face is held up by the Genius of Science. Indeed, it is the genius of science which pushed forward the race against time, from the beginning of astronomical calendars six millennia ago in the land of Isis to the femtosecond regime honoured tonight for the ultimate achievement in the microcosmos. I began life and education in the same Land of Isis, Egypt, made the scientific unveiling in America, and tonight, I receive this honor in Sweden, with a Nobel Medal which takes me right back to the beginning. This internationalization by the Genius of Science is precisely what Mr. Nobel wished for more than a century ago.”

            Professor Ahmed H. Zewail, the only Arab to ever win a Nobel Prize for science and, since the death of the Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam, the only one among the 1.2 billion Muslims with that honor.  Dr. Taha Hussein in his Nobel acceptance speech said: “The end will begin when seekers of knowledge become satisfied with their own achievements.” Unfortunately the embryonic renaissance in the late 700’s to 1300 of Islam was not extinguished by the satisfaction of its scientist’s queries; rather it was killed on the altar of dogma.

            Abdus Salam once wrote: “The Holy Koran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah’s created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.” Sad and tragic is the reality that this scion of Pakistan was not allowed to be buried in his homeland; an orphaned son of a nation thanked the luminaries on behalf of a nation who had disowned him. In his acceptance speech Abdus Salam said: “… I thank the Nobel Foundation and the Royal Academy of Sciences for the great honor and the courtesies extended to us, including the courtesy to me of being addressed in my language Urdu. Pakistan is deeply indebted to you for this. The creation of Physics is the shared heritage of all mankind. East and West, North and South have equally participated in it. In the Holy Book of Islam, Allah says: ‘Thou seest not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze comes back to thee dazzled and aweary.”

            On the global stage, it is these “heretical” scientists who are disowned by the Moslem orthodox clergy who have earned the greatest respect for Islam. Historically, we have distorted our real heroes into heretics, and the witch-hunt still continues. Dr. Abdus Salam is not the only one treated as heretic; we have the modern rationalist, Naguib Mahfouz – Nobel laureate in literature. Citation of his work, ‘Awlad Haratina,’ in the Swedish Academy’s declaration of award of the Nobel Prize to Mahfouz in 1988 greatly angered the Islamicists. His novel appeared in English under the title, “The Children of Gebelawi.” Shortly after the eruption of the Rushdie affair, the leading fundamentalist, Omar Abd al-Rahman currently imprisoned in the US for his role in the attack on the World Trade Centre—declared that if they had killed Mahfouz in 1959 for writing ‘The Children of Our Alley,’ Rushdie would never have dared write his novel. This was taken as a fresh fatwa to kill Mahfouz.

            In 1994 a failed attempt on his life leaft Mahfouz paralysed in his right arm. The crime of association of present day heroes of Islam with their past intellectual ancestors has marginalised them. It was the same Mahfouz who presented the case of his twin civilisations so adequately in the forum of ‘Swedish academy of sciences’ and quoted the great Muslim rationalist poet Abul-‘Alaa’ Ma’ari who asserted everywhere “the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.”

            The world cannot remain hostage to medieval concepts; this modern fight has to be seen in its intellectual, historical and geographical context.  The Islamic world today is trying to re-ignite its lost “renaissance” but is led by demented people with medieval minds; they are supposed to cure our ills but are out in the open to slaughter and maim thousands. Respect of life is the first sign of an educated mind.

            The Arabic language was synonymous with learning and science for 500 hundred years; a golden age that can count among its credits the precursors to modern universities, algebra, and the names of the stars and even the notion of science as an empirical inquiry. Science flourished in the Golden Age of Islam because there was within Islam a strong rational tradition of inquiry. This tradition stressed human free will.  Under the Mut3azalah (enlightened moderation) knowledge grew. Moslim conventional Puritanism, led by Ghazali, reawakened in the twelfth century.  The Moslem puritans championed revelation over reason, predestination over free will. The Imam Ghazali described mathematics and medicine as (Fard-E-Kefaya) placing these knowledge secondary to religious knowledge.

            A few Islamic clergies are trying to introduce elements of bigotry and fanaticism in mainstream Islamic thought. Our modern day laureates depict equally a sense of great connectivity to the rich past and that has to become a standard. Most likely the Islamic Renaissance that was about to be born 1000 years ago did not. We shall never know the extent of the harm that some celebrated religious zealots caused to mankind and civilization. We are once again at the crossroads; the only ways forward is to connect with the world and help make ours a true charitable society, the only way prosperity of mind can be ensured is through pluralism of ideas.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

May 2017
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