Tahafut al-Falasifa

(Incoherence of the Philosophers)


Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111 CE)

Translated into English from Urdu Translation by Sabih Ahmad Kamali





Now that you have analysed the theories of the philosophers, will you conclude by saying that one who believes in them ought to be branded with infidelity and punished with death?


we shall answer:

To brand the philosophers with infidelity is inevitable, so far as three problems are concerned namely

(i) the problem of the eternity of the world, where they maintained that all the substances are eternal.

(ii) their assertion that Divine knowledge does not encompass individual objects.

(iii) their denial of the resurrection of bodies.

All these three theories are in violent opposition to Islam. To believe in them is to accuse the prophets of falsehood, and to consider their teachings as a hypocritical misrepresentation designed to appeal to the masses. And this is blatant blasphemy to which no Muslim sect would subscribe.

As regards the rest of the problems (e.g., the philosophers' version of Divine attributes, and their doctrine of Unity, etc.), the philosophers' views have close affinity with those of the Mu'tazilah. Indeed, the philosophers' theory of the necessity of natural causes is what the Mu'tazilah have explicitly stated in the doctrine of Necessary Consequences. And the same holds of all other views held by the philosophers (in the rest of the problems). One or another of the Muslim sects has actually reiterated them. So he who would brand the 'innovators' among the Muslims with infidelity can do the same in the case of the philosophers. And he who hesitates to do so in the case of the 'innovators' may hesitate to do so in the case of the philosophers, as far as these questions are concerned. But it is not our purpose to consider whether the Muslim 'innovators' are Muslim, or not. Nor do we intend to inquire what parts of the 'innovations' are sound or unsound. For that will take us far beyond the scope of this book. And God (exalted be He) is the Giver of the strength to pursue rectitude.


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