Posts Tagged With: Islamic philosophy

Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition

Author: Murtada Mutahhari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Number of Pages: 192
eBook Price: $3/Php150

About the Book:

“Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition” is a translation of the Persian book “Fitrat” (Tehran: Sadra Publications, 2006) by the great Muslim thinker and reformer, Ayatollah Murtada Muttahari. “Fitrah” is the theme of a 10-session lecture series given the martyred thinker in 1976-77 in the presence of teachers in Nikan School in Tehran, and apparently due to his involvement in the Islamic movement and his increasing social activities, it was not continued. With ample citations from the Qur’an and other traditional Islamic sources, Mutahhari discusses the concept of ‘fitrah’ or man’s natural disposition. The author does not confine himself to Islamic references as he continuously engages with the views of a wide range of philosophers including Plato, William James, Russell, Nietzsche, Marx, Feuerbach, Auguste Comte, Spencer, Will Durant, and Durkheim, among others. Mutahhari’s ontological discussion covers a range of issues, including the literal and technical meaning of ‘fitrah’, sacred inclinations, love and worship, and the evolution of human originality. He also examines materialism and provides a theistic approach to some issues pertaining to the theories on the origin of religion, evolution of human society, intrinsic and acquired guidance, and intuitive and sensory dispositions.

Murtada Mutahhari was a leading theoretician of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. As an accomplished scholar of Islamic sciences, he played a pivotal role in forming the modern Islamic discourse which served as the foundation of the revolution. With close to ninety works to his credit, he is considered one of the leading thinkers of the global Islamic movement in the twentieth century.

Table of Contents

Translator’s Foreword
About the Author
Preface
Chapter 1 – The Meaning of Fiṭrah
Chapter 2 – Man’s Dispositions
Chapter 3 – Sacred Inclinations
Chapter 4 – Love and Worship as Proof of Human Inclinations
Chapter 5 – Spiritual Love: Marxism and the Permanence of Human Values
Chapter 6 – The Evolution of Human Originality
Chapter 7 – The Foundation and Origin of Religion
Chapter 8 – Love and Worship
Chapter 9 – The Innate Nature of Religion
Chapter 10 – An Examination and Refutation of Durkheim’s Theory
Chapter 11 – The Qur’anic View on the Origin of Religion

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Forthcoming Publication: “Philosophy of Ethics”

PhilosophyofEthics

Murtada Mutahhari, “PHILOSOPHY OF ETHICS,” trans. Mansoor Limba (London: MIU Press, forthcoming), 272 pages.

Table of Contents

Translator’s Foreword
About the Author
Preface

Part One
Chapter 1: What is Ethics?
Chapter 2: Natural Action and Moral Action
Chapter 3: Theory of Emotionalism and the Muslim Philosophers’ Theory
Chapter 4: Conscience Theory
Chapter 5: Theory of Beauty
Chapter 6: Theory on Worship
Chapter 7: Islamic Ethics and Morality
Chapter 8: Self and Non-self
Chapter 9: Knowledge of the Self
Chapter 10: Spiritual and Moral Crises in the Present Age

Part Two
Chapter 11: The Criterion for Moral Action
Chapter 12: Communist Morality and Russell’s School of Morality
Chapter 13: Question of the ‘Self’ in Ethics

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The Menace of Intellectual Eclecticism

eclecticism

The reason behind the emphasis on this subject and the discussion in this regard is the deviation among different levels of people as a result of intellectual eclecticism. To cite an example, if a scientist formulates a theory in the field of physics, only someone occupying a high station in the said field, like Albert Einstein, can express his opinion about the theory. However, the same scientist (Einstein) will not express his opinion on a theory in psychology.

If he ever wants to affirm or reject the said theory, he will refer to an authority in psychology because the field of science in question is beyond his expertise. Similarly, other scientists affirm and endorse a theory outside their expertise based on the affirmation of concerned authorities. There are times, however, when after studying the views of scientists in various fields a person accepts some views and inclines toward them without assessing them as being harmonious together or not.

Will his views and opinions constitute a coherent set of human values? He has neither thought about this approach nor has any intention of doing so. He merely says that in his opinion, so-and-so psychologist, sociologist, or lawyer has a better view, and this attitude leads to intellectual eclecticism.

The people of insight and research, however, collect all the views and analyze whether they are compatible or not. If they want to accept the theory of a certain psychologist, they compare it with another theory in sociology in order to know whether they are compatible or not. They also carry out the same comparison regarding other views in other fields and subjects.

The ground for eclecticism is more fertile in the lower academic levels where people study a book in any field without investigating the credibility of the author and the consistency of his ideas with other ideas and views in other subjects tend to be influenced by it. The result is intellectual eclecticism.

Intellectual eclecticism in realm of religious thought

Unfortunately, in our Islamic society, particularly during the last fifty years, many eclectic ideas have emerged. In a certain stage of their lives, people accept certain doctrines of Islam through their parents, environment and religious leaders. Then in the next stage, on entering high school and university they become acquainted with other views and beliefs from different sciences and subjects and also accept them without considering whether these views and beliefs are consistent or not; for example, whether a philosophical theory they have accepted is compatible with a certain religious theory or theory in biology, physics, or mathematics. When observed carefully, we find out that in some cases these views are incompatible and they do not constitute a coherent set. This form of thinking is called eclectic thinking.

Nowadays, many individuals in our religious society are afflicted with eclectic thinking because on the one hand, they have inherited family beliefs of the Islamic society which they do not want to abandon. On the other hand, ideas from different fields of social sciences are presented to them which they also accept and attach to the religious beliefs without knowing that these different ideas and views are incompatible with each other and that we have to accept either the religious beliefs or those ideas which are incompatible with religion.

Therefore, if we want to accept ideas and views in the fields of sociology, law, political science, and the like which are compatible with our religious beliefs, we have to set aside the schools of thought presented to us through the translation of foreign books and their propaganda, and advance new ideas in social sciences which are scientifically, foundationally and essentially compatible with our religious beliefs. Otherwise, we will either have to abandon our religious beliefs or set aside those ideas and views which are incompatible with our religious beliefs. The two cannot be combined together just as one cannot accept that it is day and night at the same time!

Without paying attention to the fundamental point we have mentioned, one cannot deal with all ideas and views and take something from each of them and adopt intellectual and religious eclecticism because in this case, the extremist idea of pluralism in knowledge and understanding will emerge in us which believes that whatever a person says is correct; nothing is absolutely false; every person tells a part of the truth; and every school of thought has part of the truth.

With the support of agnosticism in philosophy, which is also very popular today in the West, this approach ends up in skepticism. This approach asserts that the views of different sciences possess a portion of the truth. We cannot say that we have a definite and certain belief in something. So, it is better for us to have no definite and absolute belief in anything and only consider as probable the correctness and incorrectness of a theory. With regard to religion also, we have to accept religious pluralism, according to which we have to accept as correct the viewpoints of both the Muslims who believe in the Oneness of God and the beliefs of someone whom the Muslims regard deserves eternal damnation.

We have to equally accept as correct the faith of Christians who believe in the Trinity and the Zoroastrians who believe in the god of good and the god of evil, because none of these beliefs is definite and certain. Possibly, each of them is correct or incorrect and we are not supposed to confront any of them because all of them can be good and correct.

Tolerance of all beliefs and different conflicting views is anchored in the foundation of skepticism, agnosticism and pluralism, which reject the absoluteness of any belief. Social indulgence and negligence gain strength in the absence of prejudice, partisanship and violence, and they say, it is better not to be prejudiced but assume whatever another person says as possibly correct. This approach successfully creates a sense of indifference to religious, philosophical and scientific beliefs in a person.

Today this agnosticism of the Western world is also offered to us. There is an endeavor to make our society negligent and insensitive to religious, philosophical and scientific beliefs, and become skeptical about every viewpoint and theory, and believe that it could possibly be correct and so could its contradiction. Sometimes, it is also said that we should not regard our understanding as absolute and say that it is totally correct and there is no correct but this. We should not have such certainty. We should have our own beliefs and hold them respectable. Others should have also their own beliefs.

This culture adopted by the Western world for itself today, is being promoted so that the whole world should come under the influence of this culture. This culture negates the certainty of beliefs, negates the religion of truth, negates the belief that the true madhhab and correct theory are one, and inculcates the idea that the correct theory may be multiple so no one should have certainty of belief in anything. There should be no fanaticism in discussion. Religious zeal and sectarian fanaticism should be eliminated.

The people’s inclination to one religion, one madhhab and one idea should be eliminated so that all could live together and have no conflict over religious issues because these very religious disputes are the source of wars and mass murder. All sects, religions and ideas should be considered correct and truthful in order to pave the ground for peace, security and happiness.

Concept of religious pluralism

We do not intend to deal with the issue of pluralism in particular, but let us clearly say that we actually believe that we should deal respectfully, calmly and properly with followers of different religions and authorities in different philosophies and sciences. They should be allowed to express and defend their views and participate in dialogues, discussions and investigations in various spheres.

In today’s world we can witness Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians living together in peace, there being no room for conflict, dispute, fratricide, and genocide in their midst. This is something which receives more attention in Islam than in any religious, sectarian or political group, and followers of religions have not been accorded as cordial a treatment as offered by Islam. In Islam the cornerstone of beliefs is monotheism [tawhid] and struggle against the Trinity and polytheism [shirk] is regarded necessary in propagating and fortifying tawhid, yet in Islam, Christianity and Judaism are officially recognized religions.

Followers of these religions are under the protection of Islam. Their lives, property and honor are protected, and no one has the right to commit the least act of harassment and aggression against them.

This kind of treatment and attitude toward the followers of other religions is inspired by the conduct of the awliya of religion including the Commander of the Faithful (‘a). In one of his sermons recorded in Nahj al-Balaghah, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) says: “I have come to know that every one of them entered upon… women under the protection of Islam and took away ornaments from their legs, arms, necks, and ears… If any Muslim dies of grief after all this he is not to be blamed but rather there is justification for him before me.”1

This is because in the Islamic territory and under the protection of the Islamic state a non-Muslim woman has been oppressed. Such an attitude toward followers of other religions is among the merits and sources of pride of Islam and according to an explicit text of the Qur’an:

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللّه َ…

“Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah…2

Also, another verse invites us to the best manner of disputation:

وَلاَ تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ…

“Do not dispute with the People of the Book except in a manner which is best.”3

If that is the meaning of pluralism, then we have to say that it is one of Islam’s sources of pride. However, if pluralism means that we say to ourselves that Christianity is also like Islam; Judaism is also like Islam; there is no difference between being a Muslim and a Jew because each of them has a segment of the truth; neither Islam nor Judaism is the absolute truth; or both of them are the truth, like two ways that end up in a single point of destination whichever way one treads, undoubtedly, such a notion and understanding is inconsistent with the spirit of every religion and the dictates of reason. Can it be claimed that belief in tawhid is identical with the belief in Trinity? In other words, is there no difference between the belief in the Oneness of God and the belief in Trinity and many gods? The religion of Islam says:

وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ ثَلاَثَةٌ انتَهُواْ خَيْرًا لَكُمْ

“And do not say, ‘[God is] a trinity.’ Relinquish [such a creed]! That is better for you.”4

In dealing with the untoward attributes given to God such as His having a child, the Qur’an says:

تَكَادُ السَّمَاوَاتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِنْهُ وَتَنشَقُّ الْأَرْضُ وَتَخِرُّ الْجِبَالُ هَدًّا

“The heavens are about to be rent apart at it, the earth to split open, and the mountains to collapse into bits!”5

Now, when Islam has such a firm approach toward polytheistic beliefs, how can we say that if you like you can be a Muslim and if you don’t, then worship idols, and these two faiths have no differences and are among the “straight paths” leading to the same goal! I think it is improbable for a rational person to accept this. In any case, intellectual eclecticism is one of the plagues and predicaments of our age which must be given attention to and the ways of purging the mind and acquiring a pure and pristine mentality must be identified and acted upon.

——-

Notes:

1. Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 27. This refers to the attack of Sufyan ibn ‘Awf (a commander of Mu‘awiyah) on the city of Anbar that took place at the time of Imam ‘Ali’s (‘a) rule. One of the soldiers stopped two women, one a Muslim and the other a dhimmi and robbed them of their anklets, bracelets and earrings. [Trans.]

2. Surah Al ‘Imran 3:64.

3. Surah al-‘Ankabut 29:46.

4. Surah an-Nisa’ 4:171.

5. Surah Maryam 19:90.

6. Surah an-Nahl 16:36.

(Image courtesy of flickr.com)

IslamicPoliticalTheoryV1(An excerpt from Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi, ISLAMIC POLITICAL THEORY (LEGISLATION), Volume 1, trans. Mansoor Limba (Tehran: ABWA, 2011), 278 pages.)

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Definitions of Religion Based on Metaphysical Foundation

Aston         Shariati         Geisler

Some of the philosophers of religion regard as religion any school of thought which has the following three principal elements of belief:

  1. There is a world beyond the world of tangibles;
  2. The world of nature has a purpose; and
  3. The world of being has a moral system.

The third element can be analyzed in two ways. One way is that the world of being is such that it perceives what is morally good or evil. The other way is that the world of being is such that it rewards moral goodness or wickedness.[1]

Assessment

Some supplementary and critical points to this definition are worth mentioning:

First, concerning the first belief, this point must be added that man is also a reality that is situated between the natural and supernatural worlds.

دو سر هر دو حلقة هستي   به حقيقت به هم تو پيوستي

Both two heads are of the axis of existence.

Indeed you are also attached to them.

Man’s religious, intellectual and political search in this domain is meant for the improvement of his supernatural asset. Acquisition of more knowledge about the dimensions and realities of the world of nature as well as its laws helps in his advancement in the supernatural realm.

Second, the world of nature’s purposefulness is connected to another principal belief, and that is the world of creation’s dependence on the All-wise and Absolute God who is devoid of any futile and vain act at all.

Third, in this definition the question of God is raised ambiguously. That there is a world beyond the world of nature and tangibles is an extremely general statement, for it is possible to refer to a world in which there is no mention of God, such as the world of myths and fables.

Fourth, in saying that the world of being is such that it gives reward or retribution to what is morally good or evil, does ‘the world of being’ refer to this world or include the otherworldly as well?

If it refers only to this world, then all good deeds of a person are not compensated well in this world. In the same manner, because of this world’s limited capacity [to compensate], the criminals cannot be duly punished for all their crimes in this world. Of course, we have the law of causation, or action and reaction in this world but the capacity of this world is not enough to duly compensate all human actions. Unless the eternal world is accepted, reward and punishment for what is morally good and bad cannot be considered.

Fifth, in some creeds, particularly the ascetic schools, the abovementioned three points can be seen, without them claiming to be forms of religion.

Sixth, not every moral system is religious. The moral system whose foundation is God in the sense that the criterion for good and evil in it is the Divine commands has religious dimension. The basic foundation of what is morally good and evil in religion is revelation which is immune from error and deviation.

If to say that the world of being perceives what is morally good and evil means that the world of being has the ability to perceive the good and evil, then it is acceptable from a religious perspective in view of the fact that all parts of the world of being are in a state of glorying, prostration and remembering God. And if it means that like human beings, the world of being also acquires knowledge of what is morally good and evil and the perception of the world of being is like the human knowledge about the abovementioned matters, then this meaning is not a religious necessity. That the world of being gives recompense to what is morally good or bad can be interpreted in two ways:

One is that the world of being’s giving of reward is like one of the laws which God has prescribed in the world of being. It is the same law of causation whose enactment and implementation are like those of other laws of God.

The other way is that as a warning to His creatures, God, the Glorious, has directly enacted and implemented the said law.

We must know that this causation is only for the awareness of human beings:

 كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ

“Every soul is hostage to what it has earned.”[2]

Otherwise, because of the lack of capacity of the world of matter and materiality to implement absolutely the law of divine justice for good and evil deeds, it can be implemented in the eternal world. It can be said that in this definition, three subjects which are acceptable and of immense importance for religion are mentioned. Yet, paying attention to the religious duties and rights and distinguishing them from moral cases are not yet done. On the other hand, there has been no categorical and decisive statement regarding the Sacred Being of God, His control over the creation, Attributes of Perfection, and the Resurrection.

Aston’s Definition

W.G. Aston, a contemporary philosopher of religion, presents the following as the common features of religions:

  1. Belief in metaphysical beings;
  2. Differentiation between the sacred and the worldly affair;
  3. Rites which are concentrated on certain things;
  4. A set of moral rules whose implementation is guaranteed by God or gods;
  5. Specific religious feelings (such as fear, reverence, sense of guilt, and gratitude) which are expressed before sacred things or in the performance of rites;
  6. Worship and other forms of connection with God or gods;
  7. A general viewpoint about the world as a unit and the station of man in it (worldview);
  8. Relatively comprehensive organization of human life based upon such viewpoint (ideology); and
  9. A united social group with the support of the abovementioned elements (community or church).

Assessment

  1. It is as if these thinkers have sensitivity to God as they talk about ‘metaphysical beings’. It must not be forgotten that the same sensitivity caused some Western countries to use the term ‘supreme being’ instead of the word ‘God’ in their constitutions!

Essential to religion is the belief in the existence of God, and not merely metaphysical creatures. Of course, belief in metaphysical creatures such as the angels and souls that have reached the lofty station of immateriality, eternity, and the truths pertaining to them is considered part of the religious beliefs.

  1. Differentiation of the sacred matter from the worldly matter is not true to all religions.
  2. Rites which are concentrated on certain things are related to primitive religions. Rites exist in religions with divine origins but not rites which are centered on certain things, but rites which are held as a form of worship, linking the most insignificant to the most significant. Be that as it may, rites of the primitive periods whether they are in the form of totem, taboo, or any other form have nothing to do with the world Abrahamic faith.
  3. In religions with divine origins, the criterion for the moral rules is God, and not that God merely guarantees the implementation of laws.
  4. To have certain religious sentiments is one of the effects of belief in God. The rites which exist in religion make a person experience particular spiritual states. It must also be noted that in some creeds which are known as religions rites with superstitious underpinning exist and they cannot be compared with real rites of religions with divine origins, as discussed above.
  5. Religion fosters unity among individuals. And this point is also one of the essentials and effects of religion and not the religion itself. Of course, the ‘single community’ (ummatan wāḥidah) which is attained through the religious conviction cannot be compared with organizations formed by groups, for the goal of religion is to let the human beings move as a single caravan to be sublime Origin. Unity of a religious community is not similar to a racial, geographical, or political organization formed for a particular purpose such as defense against an enemy. Rather, as stated in Islamic sources, faithful individuals are like a single body; if one part experiences pain, all parts will experience the same. The souls of faithful individuals are like a single soul, and the link of the soul of faithful person to God is stronger than the link between the sun and its rays.[3]
  6. There is no doubt that the affairs of the world of being have connection with sacred truths, and that sacred matters are sometimes distinct from worldly matters. In the religion of Islam, however, it can be said that as they are related to the world of creation—on account that all parts of the world of creation, whether they are inward or outward, are divine signs: “Soon We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that He is the Real”[4] and “So whichever way you turn, there is the face of Allah!”[5]—it follows then that in a sense the entire universe has a sacred dimension.
  7. Regarding the phrase “Rites which are concentrated on certain things” it must be explained whether or not it means the presence of a set of rites in every religion. It is correct but the taboo rites must be distinguished from rites which are performed in the form of worship and other rational inclinations to the metaphysical.
  8. The meaning of this statement, “The guarantor of the implementation of moral rules is God or gods” must be clarified. In this regard, there are some possibilities:

First possibility: It means that God helps the human beings so that their actions are consistent with the moral rules. Of course, one can infer from the sources of Abrahamic Faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) this meaning with utmost clarity, for the justice and grace of God necessitate that He guides His servants to the path of material and spiritual prosperity.

Second possibility: “The guarantor of the implementation of moral rules” means control and stimulation of the pure conscience and not attributing the actions to deterministic factors.

Third possibility: “Moral rules” refer to religious laws, duties and rights because of their association with God. That is, it is because God enacted them and He is cognizant of the interaction of people with one another. If it means this third possibility, then it is closer to the reality compared to the other two possibilities.

  1. Specific religious feelings (such as fear, reverence, sense of guilt, and gratitude) which are expressed before sacred things or in the performance of rites:

On one hand, such concepts are not exclusive to religion, for when a rational person sees himself in front of a Real Being higher than him and he experiences a sense of cautiousness coupled with hope, there is the sense of awe in such a person. When a rational and wary person with a sound mind learns of the majesty of the world of being and its vastness and orderliness, he will definitely experience a sense of astonishment (and not primitive bewilderment, doubt and skepticism). Definitely, anyone who does something against the law—provided he has a sound mind and personality—will feel ashamed and this feeling is the result of committing a sin, although he may not use the same terms. Similarly, gratitude or thanksgiving in times of joy caused by material and spiritual favors in life which are attributed to mere luck is a common phenomenon. All such phenomena can have religious underpinning when they connect man to God.

  1. With regards to “Worship and other forms of connection with God or gods,” it must be said that in Abrahamic monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), gods are not objects of worship and other religious connections. In the said religions, there are no such things as ‘gods’ at all.[6]
  2. A general viewpoint about the world as a unit and the station of man in it (worldview):

This viewpoint consists of the following:

  1. The world of being is a creation of God;
  2. The world of being is created based upon the governance and will God for a lofty purpose;

The station of man in this world is such that he is a very important being with various talents through which he can have interactive relationship with all levels and dimensions of the world in which he lives, and the magnitude and quality of his perfection depend on such relationship.

Man can have two types of honor:

The first type is intrinsic honor:

 وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلا

“Certainly We have honored the Children of Adam, and carried them over land and sea, and provided them with all the good things, and given them an advantage over many of those We have created with a complete preference.”[7]

All human beings possess this honor, provided that they would not deprive themselves of it by committing treachery (khiyānah).

The second type is acquired honor:

 يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ

“O mankind! Indeed We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-wary among you.”[8]

  1. Relatively comprehensive organization of human life based upon such viewpoint (ideology):

This is the same relationship of man with the world which is the third of the four relationships upon which all religions with divine origins are organized: (1) man’s relationship with himself; (2) man’s relationship with God; (3) man’s relationship with the world of being; and (4) man’s relationship with his fellow human beings.

Therefore, there will be no objection if we say, “Relatively comprehensive organization of human life based upon the abovementioned four relationships”.

  1. A united social group with the support of the abovementioned elements (community or church):

In this part of the definition of religion, two ambiguous issues must be examined:

  1. The social organization in itself is not a pillar of the essence of religion, for even if only one person or a few people believe in religion in this world, he or they will still constitute a community (ummah). As such, the Noble Qur’an introduces Prophet Ibrāhīm (Abraham) (‘a) alone as a community:

 إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ كَانَ أُمَّةً

“Indeed Abraham was a nation.”[9]

Of course, as the number of individuals and communities that follow the religion increases, the social organization of those who believe in the said religion (ummah) also becomes larger.

  1. Ummah refers to the group of people who believe in a particular religion, or if we really broaden its meaning, it refers to the group of people that cling to a given ideology, whether it is religious or not.

Like the mosque and other houses of worship which are built on earth as places of worship, the church means a center for collective worship and devotion, unless the original meaning of it is changed into another one.

Sharī‘atī’s Definition

Dr. ‘Alī Sharī‘atī[10] enumerates the common features of religions as follows:

  1. Religion declares existence as meaningful.
  2. It is correct provided that the meaning of the meaningfulness of the world is its association with God and the sublime wisdom and will of the Sacred Essence. Its purposefulness is also a requisite of its being associated with the wisdom and will of God. The requisite of the observance of this condition is the belief in the world as having an ultimate goal. Similarly, the said condition also necessitates the meaningfulness of man and history. Definitely, if the goal is not limited to the creation of the world, at least this can be regarded as one of its highest goals. Therefore, Sharī‘atī might have possibly stated the first two points as one.
  3. The duality of the human being in all religions:

If this ‘duality’ refers to the physical and spiritual, the dispositional and the behavioral, the outward and the inward, the intrinsic and the extrinsic, then this is correct.

  1. Sanctity in the world:

Sanctity or sacredness in the world can be considered from two perspectives. The first perspective is that the world relies upon the wisdom and will of God, and the notion of the world as a divine sign (āyah) (both within man and in the outside world) refers to this perspective:

 سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ

“Soon We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that He is the Real”[11]

According to the second perspective, the facility and potential of this world are meant to prepare man and push him to the sublime goal of perfection. The ardent desire for it exists in the hearts of all people who are immune from selfishness. In the speech of the Commander of the Faithful ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (‘a) in reply to someone who rebuked the world, this perspective is expressed in this manner:

O’ you who abuse the world, O’ you who have been deceived by its deceit and cheated by its wrongs. Do you accuse it or it should accuse you? When did it bewilder you or deceive you? … Certainly, this world is a house of truth for him who appreciates it; a place of safety for him who understands it; a house of riches for him who collects provision from it (for the next world); and a house of instructions for him who draws instruction from it. It is a place of worship for the lovers of Allah; the place of praying for the angels of Allah; the place where the revelation of Allah descends; and the marketing place for those devoted to Allah.”[12]

  1. The division of all things, affairs and realities into tangible and intangible:

This division is not a distinctive feature of religions although this is acceptable in religions on the basis of undeniable fact (the division of all things into tangible and intangible).

  1. Religion as the social spirit:

This point is also not a distinctive feature of religions, for collective life—whether motivated by the need for division of labor among people, kinship through sexual reproduction or racial unity, or the natural demand for their civility—is a salient feature of human life in the sphere of coexistence.

  1. The global nature of the distinctive features of religion:

This issue must also be examined more accurately, for all religions with divine origins can be generally grouped into two:

First group: It consists of national religions which are exclusive to limited groups in the history of religion. The prophets of these religions were not the preeminent ones in determination (ūlū ’l-‘azm) and were limited to their respective time or group.

Second group: It consists of the world religions like the ones associated with Prophet Ibrāhīm (‘a) and whose messengers were the ūlū ’l-‘azm, viz. Nūḥ (Noah), Ibrāhīm, Mūsā (Moses), ‘Īsā (Jesus), and Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh (‘a). If it is not so, then the phrase refers to the common features of all religions such as belief in God, eternity, religious duties and rights, and the like.

8 and 9. “The unity of man and nature” and “the unity of man, nature and the spirit of being”:

These two phrases have a very broad meaning and are not a salient feature of the phenomenon called ‘religion’. There are philosophers who philosophically acknowledge this unity. Sufis and mystics also believe in this unity and something even higher. That is, man, nature, the spirit of the entire universe, and even God are a single being (theory of the unity of being). The stoics and a group of Indian philosophers and mystics believe in this theory. Therefore, items 8 and nine are not exclusive to religion.

  1. Apprehension, struggle and desire for union (ittiṣāl):

This point is also not free from ambiguity. The possible meanings which can be conceived of in this regard are as follows:

  1. Ardent desire, struggle and aspiration of man to be in union with God are like the union of the drops of water to the sea. This possibility is not correct in monotheistic religions, for the Sacred Essence of the Lord is higher than that a creature that He created or originated be part of His Sacred Essence.
  2. Endeavor and desire for the change in humanity that has the potential to be God-like through the possession of divine attributes that exist within the said potential of man. If it means possession of those attributes within the limits of man, this is possible in monotheistic religions.
  3. Union means entry to the attraction to the Lordly Perfection. In this station, the person becomes an embodiment of the Divine Lights, but he will never reach the Sublime Lordly Station. This is the best possible meaning for the above item.

Note: The word ‘apprehension’ which implies agitation along the way to perfection is not correct. Instead, ardent desire, serious endeavor and persistence are which called kadaḥ (كدح) in Arabic are more accurate than the terms ‘apprehension’ and mere ‘desire’.

  1. Belief in dominance, progress, exaltation, and movement:

In this phrase, the word ‘dominance’ requires explanation. If ‘dominance’ means attainment of power for the organization of the four types of relationship (man’s relationship with himself, God, the universe, and fellow human beings), then it is perfectly correct, and it can be said that the attainment of the lofty goal of religion is to acquire such power. Acquisition of power for the organization of relationship with the self means control and mastership over the self. Through this power a person could set himself along the path of God-wariness (taqwā) which means maintenance of self-perfection. And through this taqwā he can proceed to the height of attraction to the Sublime Perfection. It also means acquisition of power for the organization of relationship with God. Through this power one could control himself from sin, selfishness and self-centeredness and undertake his ideal movement. By acquiring power for the organization of intellectual, perceptive and interactive relationship with the world of being, he will succeed in self-building.

  1. Emancipation from what exists means emancipation from captivity:

If it means disconnection from whatever exists and severance of relationship with whatever is, then this point is forbidden in religion, for detachment from the world connection to which is one of the fundamental relationships a person has in his subsistence is actually detachment or disconnection from the self. Obviously, negation of the self is not the same with the pursuance of one’s perfection which emanates from God’s boundless wisdom and favor. The world of being is the passageway for its progress and the Beatific Vision (liqā’ Allāh) in eternity is its ultimate goal and objective. It must be borne in mind that to be in the world which in the words of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) is the great place of worship for the wary people is not the same with negation and disconnection from it which can be considerably seen in Buddhism.

  1. The concept of protection and preservation of man, life and society:

No meaning for this item (13) can be conceived of except protection of man, life and society from pollution, degradation, fall, and backwardness. This point is perfectly correct in religion but the word ‘concept’ must be omitted from the above phrase, for that which is part of the salient features of religion is the protection and preservation and not its concept.

  1. and 15. Acquaintance, curiosity and engagement in curiosity:

Acquaintance, inquiry and research to increase knowledge about the self, God, the world, and fellow human beings, and the use of knowledge and learning along the path of searching for perfection are part of the essentials of religion.

  1. Beauty and art:

The meaning of the desire for tangible and intelligible beauties which, in addition to the resultant purification of the soul and preparation of the self to soar from this very high platform to the Absolute Beauty which is something incomparable, must be shown in the world and shorten for the people the distance of realizing God. Moreover, the meaning of ‘art’ is supposedly to undertake artistic intellectual or psychological activities and setting purely constructive artistic works at the service of spiritual growth and enhancement of the human talents, and not the beauty and art which always exist for all people in various cultures of human society.

  1. Love and worship:

Definitely, ‘ishq refers to the highest degree of love, passion and craving for Sublime Perfection which is the totality of beauty and glory, and it is correct to regard this love as one of the salient features of religion. However, what is called ‘metaphorical love’ or mere love without its attachment to the Sublime Perfection (which is definitely what Sharī‘atī intended to mean) is not only not part of the salient features of religion, but religion is even inimical to it. A person’s expression of ‘virtual love’ will cost and leads to the wastage of all his life’s assets and capitals, for

عشقهايي كز پي رنگي بود                                    عشق نبود عاقبت ننگي بود

Those loves which are for the sake of a color (outward beauty) are not love: in the end they are a disgrace.[13]

هرچه جز عشق خداي احسن است          گر شكر خوارﻱﺳﺖ آن جان كندن است

Except love of the most beauteous God, everything, though (outwardly) it is (pleasant like) eating sugar, is (in truth) agony of spirit.[14]

عاشقان از درد زان ناليدﻩﺍند                      كه نظر تا جايگاه ماليدﻩاند

The cause why lovers have moaned in grief is that they have rubbed their eyes malapropos.[15]

Meanwhile, worship of God, the Glorious, after knowing him, is the purest essential feature, nay pillar, of religion.

  1. The ideal, ideal man and utopian city:

This point can be analyzed under two headings: (1) The ideal means that religion is ideal goal of the human beings, or the ideal goal of the human beings is in religion. (2) It is religion which molds the ideal man. Both propositions are correct. Meanwhile, the ‘utopian city’ (madīneh-ye fāḍileh) which means the use of the individuals and groups of society of all their positive potentials in social life is obviously the purest features of religion in the dimension of people’s social life. This point can also be inferred from item 13.

  1. Awaiting as protest against the status quo and moving toward the ideal:

Taking into account the fundamentals of Sharī‘atī’s school of thought, awaiting (intiẓār) means wishing for the emergence of the best society and struggle for its realization whose most perfect form will be possible with the advent of the Master of the Age (‘atfs).[16] Of course, it must be borne in mind that intiẓār is not identical with protest (i‘tirāḍ) against the status quo. It rather stems from the feeling of disgust and anguish for the undesirable condition which stands in the way of perfection of collective human life.

Meanwhile, protest against the status quo can be interpreted in two ways:

  1. Protest against the status quo stems from the lack of the divine pleasure in every condition which is contrary to the ideal human felicity. In view of the high and reformative potentials of the human beings, it is a common phenomenon that exists in all communities and nations with rational cultures. It is even said that the lack of divine satisfaction for the status quo is one of the strongest elements of forward movement in history.
  2. Protest means the lack of divine pleasure for anything that causes degradation and engrossment of mankind in ignorance, poverty and human rights violations. Through the efforts for changing the direction of life’s movement toward its lofty goals and means.
  1. Nature’s self-consciousness:

This item can be inferred from item 9 (“the unity of man, nature and the spirit of being”). Given this, it is possible that this point can be separately inferred from the Qur’anic verses that indicate glorification (tasbīḥ) and prostration (sajdah) of the creatures in the world. Of course, in proving the self-consciousness of nature, some thinkers have cited the law of causation.

 اين جهان كوه است و فعل ما ندا         سوي ما آين نداها را صدا

This world is the mountain, and our action the shout:

The echo of the shouts comes (back) to us.[17]

Sharī‘atī has not mentioned three very important salient features of religion:

  1. The religious laws, rights, duties, and manners as well as worship of the Sublime Origin (God) and belief in the Resurrection (ma‘ād) must be stated more clearly and elaborately to some extent. Most probably, he contented himself with items 1, 4, 10, 13, 16, and 23. However, as demanded by the law on definitions, it would be better to state more clearly and elaborately the above points.
  2. The ultimate reply to the six fundamental questions on life (1. Who am I? 2. From where I have come? 3. With which I have come? 4. With whom am I? 5. To where shall I go? 6. For which I have come?) which only religion can give.
  3. The real felicity, virtue and sacrifices in the way of lofty human values such as faithfulness to promise and covenant, defense of the truth, responsible freedom, justice, and the like, for without religion, the world is a place for play, jumping, beating, and eating in which if a person would use all his facilities and potentials in the way of selfishness and self-interests, he will miserably lose.

روزگار و چرخ و انجم سر بسر بازيستي           گرنه اين روز دراز دهر را فرداستي

The world, fate and stars are all your playthings

Otherwise this long day of fortune is your tomorrow.[18]

Geisler’s Definition

Geisler[19] defines religion in its most general sense, thereby encompassing every supposed religion. He regards religion as having two basic characteristics: (1) awareness of something sublime, and (2) total devotion and utmost attachment. So, in his general definition of religion, any consciousness of something sublime coupled with total devotion and utmost attachment is called ‘religion’. The elements of this definition are mentioned as follows:

  1. Awareness: a person considers himself professing religion when he is aware or acquainted with something other than himself.
  2. Something sublime: a thing is sublime when it transcends and goes beyond direct awareness of a person. Given this, even in unconsciousness, ‘I’ and others apart from ‘me’ are deemed sublime. Moreover, that which is sublime is beyond the experienced ones (mujarrabāt).
  3. It pertains to total devotion. Religion comprises something which is beyond mere manifestation; something not stipulated and ultimate; something to which people want to be devoted with utmost sincerity. In other words, it includes not only awareness to anything sublime. In fact, it includes whatever is treated final and whatever requires utmost devotion. Of course, in the words of Ian Ramsey,[20] this devotion most also be total as well as widespread. So, this devotion must be final and universal

Assessment

Some important points in the definition of Geisler must be examined:

  1. It is true that from the totality of terms used by Geisler, it can be deduced that “that which is sublime” which is the object of awareness, total devotion and ultimate affection and yearning is no other than God, the Perfect and Absolute, that all religions have mentioned whether explicitly or as something essential to the ideological text. However, in view of the crucial importance of the thing being defined (mu‘arraf), its name must be specified. If it is argued that not all religions call it ‘God’, the reply is that an ambiguous reality, even if it is described as ‘something sublime’, cannot be considered the basic foundation of religion because “awareness of the existence of God” and “total devotion and attachment to Him” require that He must be the Creator of all beings and created them according to His sublime wisdom and will.

From this analysis, it is clear that the line “a person considers himself professing religion when he is aware or acquainted with something other than himself” is somewhat inaccurately stated because the concept of God, Exalted is His Station, who is Perfect and Absolute in all aspects, is not clear in the above expression (“something other than himself”). Similarly, the expression “a thing is sublime when it transcends” is not free from ambiguity because it is a common concept, and it must be said instead, “a thing is sublime when it transcends all things”.

  1. “…and goes beyond direct awareness of a person”:

This is an excellent point which is discussed in various expressions in the religion of Islam; for example, Prophet Mūsā (‘a) is reported to have said God, “How can I reach You?” In reply, God said:

قَصْدَكَ لِي وَصْلَكَ إِلَيّ.

“As you have aimed Me, you have reached Me.”

Of course, this understanding is not direct or without mediation. Even in intuitive knowledge (self-consciousness), the “I” perceives his self directly, for the perception of the “I” in intuitive knowledge is not possible without negation of “other than I” even quickly, generally or briefly. This is while the perception of God only needs intention. This is the meaning of what Geisler said, “That which is sublime is beyond the experienced ones (mujarrabāt).” And in the jargon of Western philosophers, it is a priori upon which the philosophy of Kant, in particular, relies.

  1. He said, “Religion comprises something which is beyond mere manifestation; something not stipulated and ultimate; something to which people want to be devoted with utmost sincerity.” This point is also very fine because in religion familiarity, information and acquaintance with God is not sufficient. Instead, as the very knowledge about that Sacred Being is attained, ardent desire for ‘searching’ in order to obtain His Lordly attraction begins.
  2. In the expression of Ian Ramsey, there is a line which must definitely be modified and that is, this devotion most also be total as well as widespread. It is because delight and pleasure from knowing the world is different from devotion to it. That which exists in religion is the former and not the latter. That is, it is delight caused by the fact that the universe has been created according to the lofty wisdom and will of God and witnessing the celestial splendor of the universe impels a person to pay ultimate devotion to God, and not that a person just submits to the universe and surrenders himself to it. A majestic element of the universe or one of the lofty aspects of this universe gives rise to devotion to the Creator. Man is not supposed to surrender to the universe. Instead, with utmost cheer and confidence, he must consider it a springboard for his own spiritual flight.

به جهان خرم از آنم که جهان خرم ازوست

عاشقم بر همه عالم که همه عالم ازوست

I belong to the pleasant world as the pleasant world is from Him.

I am in love with the entire world as the entire world is from Him.[21]

——-

Notes:

[1] Ḥawzeh wa Dāneshgāh Magazine, issue 3, p. 68.

[2] Sūrat al-Muddaththir 74:38. [Trans.]

[3] Al-Uṣūl min al-Kāfī, vol. 2, p. 166.

[4] Sūrat Fuṣṣilat 41:53. [Trans.]

[5] Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:115. [Trans.]

[6] For further information, see Tafsīr wa Naqd wa Taḥlīl az Mathnawī, vol. 10, pp. 63-73.

[7] Sūrat al-Isrā’ (or Banī Isrā’īl) 17:70.

[8] Sūrat al-Ḥujurāt 49:13.

[9] Sūrat al-Naḥl 16:120.

[10] ‘Alī Sharī‘atī (1933-77): an Iranian revolutionary and sociologist who focused on the sociology of religion and considered one of the most influential Iranian intellectuals of the 20th century. [Trans.]

[11] Sūrat Fuṣṣilat 41:53. [Trans.]

[12] Nahj al-Balāghah, Maxim 131.

[13] The Mathnawī of Jalālu ’ddīn Rūmī, Book 1, line 205, p. 27. [Trans.]

[14] The Mathnawī of Jalālu ’ddīn Rūmī, Book 1, line 3686, p. 397. [Trans.]

[15] That is, they have not purged their inward eye of sensual impressions and therefore have taken a false view. The Mathnawī of Jalālu ’ddīn Rūmī, Book 4, line 229, p. 31. [Trans.]

[16] Walī al-‘Aṣr, literally, “Master of the Age” is one the titles of the 12th Imām Muḥammad al-Mahdī (‘a), the others being Walī al-Amr (Master of the Affair), Imām al-Zamān (Imām of the Time), etc. The abbreviation, “‘atfs” stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, ‘ajjalallāhu ta‘ālā farajahu ’sh-sharīf (may Allah, the Exalted, expedite his glorious advent), which is invoked after mentioning the name of Imām al-Mahdī (‘atfs). [Trans.]

[17] The Mathnawī of Jalālu ’ddīn Rūmī, Book 1, line 215, p. 27. [Trans.]

[18] Nāṣir Khusrū, Dīwān-e Ash‘ār, Elegy 241.

[19] Norman L. Geisler (born 1932): a Christian apologist and philosopher noted for his philosophical approach to theology. [Trans.]

[20] Ian Ramsey (): [Trans.]

[21] Sa‘dī, Mawā‘iẓ, ghazal 13.

(Images courtesy of wikipedia.com and normgeisler.com)

FalsafehDin(Excerpt from Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari, PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION, trans. Mansoor Limba (Tehran: ABWA, 2014), p. 26-42.)

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Mutahhari’s Reply to the Skepticism of Pyrrho

pyrrho 

Thus, the first question about knowledge is the issue about the possibility of knowledge—is it possible for man to know?[1] Pyrrho said that knowledge or ma‘rifah is impossible (for reasons I enumerated earlier). Of course, others exposed the flaw in Pyrrho’s argument. On our part, we exposed this flaw elsewhere in the footnotes of Uṣūl-e Falsafeh wa Rawish-e Realism (The Principles of Philosophy and the Method of Realism).[2] It is thus said to Pyrrho: “You say that senses make mistakes because sometimes your eyes squint; you see a person as if having two heads; you see a piece of wood as broken in a water container; and so on and so forth. You say that you observe that the senses make mistakes. When you observe that senses make mistakes, do you know that senses indeed make mistakes, or do you still doubt that the senses make mistakes? When you say that when you wake up and rub your eyes, you can see double, with a person standing in front of you as if they are two, having four eyes (instead of two), you say that it is not so. Do you really know that it is not so, or you just guess that it is not so?” He says, “No, I know that it is not so; that person does not have two heads or two noses.” Then he would be told: “So, you realized this mistake with certainty by yourself; how can you say then that you have not obtained knowledge? This is itself [a kind of] knowledge. When you say that reason makes a mistake in a particular instance, you say with certainty that it makes a mistake. That is, you know that it makes a mistake; therefore, you have arrived at the truth. Unless a person has arrived at the truth, he cannot perceive that the opposite view is wrong.”

As such, it must [rather] be said: “The human being makes mistakes in some of his sense perceptions, but not others. So, we must classify the issue; we must look for a criterion. With a certain criterion, let us see if we could somehow correct the things in which we make a mistake, or not. Just because of the fact that we make a mistake in some cases, why should we deny the essence of knowledge?! Why [we should treat as identical] the cases in which we make a mistake and the cases we do not doubt that we make a mistake (such as the instance when we realize that we have made a mistake)?” The [above] argument of Pyrrho is like the following couplets of Sa‘dī:[3]

چو از قومي يكي ﺑﻲدانشي كرد     نه كه را منزلت ماند نه مِه را   

ﻧﻤﻲبيني كه گاوي در علفزار                   بيالايد همه گاوان ده را

When one of a tribe has done a foolish thing

No honor is left either to the low or the high.

Can’t you see how one ox of the pasturage

Defiles all oxen of the village?[4]

This is true for social issues. If certain members of a society belonging to a certain class—say, the clerics—behave untowardly and wickedly, the integrity of others would also be tarnished; otherwise, there is no point in hanging ‘Amr for the sin of Zayd:

گنه كرد در بلخ آهنگري              به شُوشتر زدند گردن مسگري

A blacksmith committed a crime in Balkh[5]

They beheaded a coppersmith in Shūshtar.[6],[7]

Some of our sense perceptions make mistakes; some others are definitely correct. Let us look for the solution to erroneous perceptions. Out of this, the science of logic (manṭiq) came into being. Logic is a science which is [the foundation of] the theory of knowledge. That is, in this very theory of the possibility of knowledge and impossibility of knowledge, it makes no difference for the one who said that it is impossible to know while the one who said that it is possible to know is looking for a criterion for distinguishing erroneous knowledge from correct knowledge and [assuming that] there must be such a criterion. Now, as to what extent logic could play a role or function is a question which, if we try to address, would prevent us from dealing with more important issues.[8]

We must see what the Qur’an says in this regard. Does the Qur’an support the view that knowledge is possible? Or, does the Qur’an also say that it is impossible to know? Now, if knowledge is possible (as there is the Qur’an and the religion), then the very knowledge in ideology must have a ruling, and that ruling would answer: Is knowledge lawful or not? Is knowledge permissible or not? There are two questions here. [One is whether knowledge is possible or not, and the other is whether knowledge is permissible or not.] As you are well aware of, the issue is presented in the Torah in a specific way and since according to us, the Torah is one of the books that experienced distortion (taḥrīf)—that is, in assessing a case mentioned in both the Qur’an and the Torah by the criterion of the Qur’an—when we see that the account of the Torah contradicts that of the Qur’an, for us there is no doubt that the account of the Torah has been distorted. In the Qur’an—a religious scripture—the issue is never raised in a philosophical manner—whether knowledge is possible or not. Rather, we must see and analyze whether the Qur’anic inferences of these issues are based upon the possibility of knowledge or its impossibility. Are the Qur’anic injunctions justifiable on the basis of the possibility of knowledge or its impossibility? And the other question is: is knowledge permissible or not?

Notes:

[1] Knowing (shinākhtan) is equivalent to certainty (yaqīn) as doubting (shakk) is the opposite of knowing. “Knowing” means for me to reach a point to think it is such and not to doubt that what I think as such is correct; that I do not doubt its correctness, for if I doubt then there is no knowledge for me but only “Is…?” “Is it so?” “I do not know.” “Perhaps there is.” “Perhaps there is not.” There are many “I-do-not-know’s”. Knowing is “knowing” when there is no doubt. If there is doubt, then it is [the same] “I-do-not-know” [episode].

[2] It refers to ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-Ṭabaṭabā’ī’s work in collaboration with his student Āyatullah Muṭahharī who provided footnotes and explanations easily comprehensible to the common people. The work was designed to present Islamic philosophy as a superior alternative to Marxism. [Trans.]

[3] Shaykh Muṣlīḥ al-Dīn Sa‘dī (1184-1283) was one of the greatest Persian poets. Born in Shīrāz, he studied Sufi mysticism at the Nizāmiyyah madrasah in Baghdad with Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī and with Shahāb al-Dīn Suhrawardī. He made the pilgrimage to Mecca many times and traveled to Central Asia, India, and the Seljuq territories in Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Yemen, Abyssinia, and Morocco. His best known works are the Būstān (Garden) and the Gulistān (Rose-Garden), also known as Sa‘dī-Nāmeh. The former is a collection of poems on ethical subjects while the latter is a collection of moral stories in prose. He also wrote a number of odes and collections of poems known as Pleasantries, Jests and Obscenities. His influence on Persian, Turkish and Indian literature has been very considerable, and his works were translated into European languages from the 17th century onward. [Trans.]

[4] Gulistān, chapter 2 “The Morals of Dervishes,” story 5. Edward Rehatsek (trans.), Gulistan or Rose Garden of Sa‘di (Tehran: Peyk-e Farhang, 1998), p. 38. [Trans.]

[5] Known as Bactra to the Greeks and Baktri or Bagdhi to the Persians, Balkh was an ancient city and center of Zoroastrianism in Khurāsān in today’s Northern Afghanistan. [Trans.]

[6] Shūshtar: an ancient fortress city in the Khūzistān province in southwestern Iran and approximately 92 km away from Ahwāz, the center of the province. [Trans.]

[7] Among the Fārsī-speaking people, this couplet is known as Dīwān-e Balkh, literally “the Court of Balkh,” which alludes to any office or authority whose judgment is not based on logic and reason as well as what is right and just. [Trans.]

[8] This is because we want to have ample time to deal with this subject: on which criteria is the issue of knowledge based in this divine school—this divine worldview of ours upon which our ideology is based? This is our main concern. Other issues are preliminary or introductory in nature for us. That is, we shall touch upon them only to the extent necessary; otherwise, if we want to tackle logic, then we have syllogistic logic; we have symbolic logic; the Organon (manṭiq-e arasṭū) claims to be syllogistic logic. Has the Organon duly performed its alleged function or not? To address them requires many sessions, which are not necessary for our discussion, for these questions are presently not raised among materialists and non-materialists.

The Theory of Knowledge(Murtada Mutahhari, THE THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE: AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE, trans. Mansoor Limba (Tehran: IHCS and ABU, 2011), pp. 9-11.

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Current Translation Project: “Philosophy of Ethics”

PhilosophyofEthics

Murtada Mutahhari, “Philosophy of Ethics,” trans. Mansoor Limba (London: MIU Press, translation in progress), approx. 240 pp.

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Forthcoming Publication: “Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition”

fitrah

Murtada Mutahhari, FITRAH: MAN’S NATURAL DISPOSITION, trans. Mansoor Limba (London: MIU Press, forthcoming), 192 pp.

Its English translation is finished just today, al-hamdulillah.

It is expected to be published within this year or early next year, insha’ Allah.

About the Book:

“Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition” is a translation of the Persian book “Fitrat” (Tehran: Sadra Publications, 2006) by the great Muslim thinker and reformer, Ayatollah Murtada Muttahari. “Fitrah” is the theme of a 10-session lecture series given the martyred thinker in 1976-77 in the presence of teachers in Nikan School in Tehran, and apparently due to his involvement in the Islamic movement and his increasing social activities, it was not continued. With ample citations from the Qur’an and other traditional Islamic sources, Mutahhari discusses the concept of ‘fitrah’ or man’s natural disposition. The author does not confine himself to Islamic references as he continuously engages with the views of a wide range of philosophers including Plato, William James, Russell, Nietzsche, Marx, Feuerbach, Auguste Comte, Spencer, Will Durant, and Durkheim, among others. Mutahhari’s ontological discussion covers a range of issues, including the literal and technical meaning of ‘fitrah’, sacred inclinations, love and worship, and the evolution of human originality. He also examines materialism and provides a theistic approach to some issues pertaining to the theories on the origin of religion, evolution of human society, intrinsic and acquired guidance, and intuitive and sensory dispositions.

Murtada Mutahhari was a leading theoretician of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. As an accomplished scholar of Islamic sciences, he played a pivotal role in forming the modern Islamic discourse which served as the foundation of the revolution. With close to ninety works to his credit, he is considered one of the leading thinkers of the global Islamic movement in the twentieth century.

Categories: Ethics and Mysticism, Philosophy, Translated Books, Translation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philosophy of Religion

NEWLY PUBLISHED

FalsafehDin

Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari, PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION, trans. Mansoor Limba (Tehran: ABWA, 2014), 464 pp.

The one-volume encyclopedia concisely, yet profoundly, deals with such subjects as definition of religion (essentialist, psychological-sociological, utilitarian-moralist, etc.), scope of religion, scope of jurisprudence, historical roots of secularism, science and religion, physics and metaphysics, and religious pluralism by meticulously examining the pertinent views of a wide array of Muslim and Western philosophers including, but not limited to, Aston, Geisler, Spencer, Muller, Bonhoeffer, Ellis, Spengler, Tylor, D’Holbach, Santayana, Otto, Cassirer, Sartre, Dewey, Oxford, Jastrow, William James, Jung, Herder, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, Kaufmann, Samuel King, Goldziher, Rainach, Rupele, Frazer, Koestenbaum, Freud, Bultmann, Durkheim, Feaver, Jefferson, Barth, Ritschl, Tillich, Martin, Whitehead, and Johnson.

Categories: Philosophy, Translated Books, Translation | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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