Reasons and Rationality

Reasons and Rationality

Published: 2002


No one before Islam was encouraged to 
use reasoning. Repression was based on priesthood, hierarchy or the one in control. They emphasized the use of intellectual capacity in all areas of life. One of the principles they created is that the mind deals with reason, exploration, but does not harbor emotions. As a result of Islamic teachings and the preservation of Greek and Roman thought through Arabic translations of original texts, the Renaissance came into being.

Averroes (and wider Islamic thought) was instrumental in the development of rationalism within the Christian tradition, a factor which has been a major influence on the development of the West as such. At this point, especially in the Islamic kingdom of Spain, but also in the East, Islamic culture was by and large tolerant and affirmative of religious diversity within its own boundaries. This made for a rather impressive inter-cultural intellectual milieu, where Islamic philosophers and theologians discussed and clarified their faith alongside similar representations from Christian and Judaic thinkers.

Statue of Averroes (Abu al-Walid ibn

Rushd al-Qurtubi)
The Maimonides

Cordoba in southern Spain, the then capital of the Moorish empire, is perhaps the most impressive example of such inter-cultural diversity. Here, Muslim translations and commentaries on Aristotle from Greek into Arabic were translated by Jewish scholars into Hebrew and by Christian scholars from Hebrew into Latin. This led to an extraordinary degree of mutual dependence and influence between the three religious traditions, and by today’s standards, a surprising level of respect and friendship between Islamic philosophers and their counter-religionists.

Thus, for example, the formidable Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides declared himself a disciple of the Muslim Averroes, while an influential (although heretical) grouping called the Christian Averroists sprung up in Paris, declaring their debt to the Master. No less a figure than Thomas Aquinas also owed a huge debt to Averroes, although this debt was not always so explicitly acknowledged.

The Maimonides Christian thinkers relied more on Ibn Rushd (Averroism) than on Aristotle in researching the world of science. Among Ibn Rushd’s followers were the Jewish thinkers who called him “the soul and intelligence of Aristotle”. In fact, Jewish philosophers such as Ibn Maymun, known as Maimonides (d. 1204), Yahuda ben Solomo Cohen and Aveicebron who were the main glory of intellect, were students of Ibn Rushd and Arabic philosophy.
It is the Islamic philosophy that floats high above all racism that gave freedom and protection to minority and the Jews who translated the Arabic works into Hebrew (12th to 14th century).

Rom Landau stated in his book, “The Arab Heritage of Western Civilization” that

“Averroism became the chief doctrine of the philosophical schools of Paris, Padua and Bologna. It helped lay the foundation for the Renaissance.”


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