Philosophy – Useful or Rubbish?
Exclusively @ Cambridge Islamic College
By Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi (Dean and Founder)
Imam Al-Ghazzali wrote the phenomenal work, ‘Tahafut al-Falasifa’ (Incoherence of the Philosophers) in the 11th century. In this work, Imam Al-Ghazzali gives an analysis of the principles of classical philosophy and the methods of philosophers, attempting to show the inconsistencies and fallacies found in both. He focussed on the philosophical approaches to metaphysics. In his work, Imam Al-Ghazzali attempts to give 20 points where the philosophers have gone wrong. These points (taken from Wikipedia) are as follows:
x Refuting the doctrine of the world’s pre-eternity.
x Refuting the doctrine of the world’s post-eternity.
x Showing their equivocation of the following two statements: God is the creator of the world vs. the world is God’s creation.
x The inability of philosophers to prove the existence of the Creator.
x The inability of philosophers to prove the impossibility of the existence of two gods.
x The philosopher’s doctrine of denying the existence of God’s attributes.
x Refutation of their statement: “the essence of the First is not divisible into genus and species”.
x Refutation of their statement: “the First is simple existent without quiddity”.
x Their inability to demonstrate that the First is not a body.
x Discussing their materialist doctrine necessitates a denial of the maker.
x Their inability to show that the First knows others.
x Their inability to show that the First knows Himself.
x Refuting that the First does not know the Particulars.
x Refuting their doctrine that states: “the heavens are an animal that moves on its own volition”.
x Refuting what they say regarding the reason that the heavens move.
x Refuting their doctrine that the heavens are souls that know the particulars.
x Refuting their doctrine that disruption of causality is impossible.
x Refuting their statement that the human soul is a self-sustaining substance that is neither a body nor an accident.
x Refuting their assertion of the impossibility of the annihilation of the human soul.
x Refuting their denial of bodily resurrection and the accompanying pleasures of Paradise or the pains of Hellfire.
In this work, the primary targets of his criticism were the two philosophers, Ibn Sina and al-Farabi.
However Imam Al-Ghazzali’s work is not without serious criticism itself. The genius polymath and philosopher, Ibn Rushd, wrote an extensive refutation of Tahafut al-Falasifa, criticising the very methods and arguments used by Al-Ghazzali. He named this work ‘Tahafut al-Tahafut’ (The Incoherence of the Incoherence). This book is considered to be Ibn Rushd’s landmark work; in it, he attempts to create harmony between faith and philosophy.
The historic seminar coming up this Saturday, 31st January, by Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi is a closer examination of Al-Ghazzali’s Tahafut al-Falasifa and its refutation, Tahafut al-Tahafut by Ibn Rushd. This seminar will also explore:
x The different classical philosophical approaches to faith
x The pros and cons of these approaches
x Modern philosophical approaches
x The relevance or the harm of philosophy to Muslims
x The alternatives to philosophical approaches to faith
A short preview of the seminar can be found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adr-_g_vGy0. This course is available both onsite and online worldwide.
The Incoherence of the The Philosophers
Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (450-505 AH)
By Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi (Dean of Cambridge Islamic College)
Date: Saturday 31 January 2015 | Time: 10:00am – 6:30pm
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By Shaykh Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi (Dean of Cambridge Islamic College)
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