Transcript: 195 - Anke von Kügelgen on Contemporary Islamic Thought

Anke von Kügelgen joins Peter to discuss developments over the last century or so, including attitudes towards past thinkers like Avicenna, Averroes and Ibn Taymiyya.
Podcast series

1. There are Muslims living all over the world in very different societies -- there isn't much reason to think that philosophical developments in, say, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan are going to be the same. Is it nonetheless possible to identify general philosophical trends in the Islamic world over the last century or so?

Your question is very legitimate. Indeed, the so-called Muslim societies differ considerably from each other in many respects, not least in regard to philosophical ‘Weltanschauungen’, currents and teachings. 

Unfortunately, the knowledge of the development of philosophy in the 19th to the 20th centuries in Muslim societies is still very limited. There has been almost no research into this in the West, although philosophical questions and arguments play an important role not least in public debates about social and state reforms, national and supranational identities, human, individual and collective rights.

With some of my doctoral students, I am about to create at our Institute a main research area on «Contemporary Philosophy in the Near and Middle East».  The nucleus or basis of it is a book, that is an Overview of Philosophy in the ‘Islamic world’ covering the 19th and 20th centuries which I direct and co-edit with my colleague Professor Ulrich Rudolph and Michael Frey as redactor. It will be the fourth volume of a German Overview of the whole history of philosophy in the Islamic world; the German title is Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie in der islamischen Welt  – 19. bis 20. Jahrhundert; it’s published by Schwabe Verlag in Basel. (This has since appeared in print. - ed.) What I’ll be saying in this interview is based on our joint research, so I just want to mention at the beginning the names of the main contributors to this project.

My main partner for the philosophy in the Arab speaking countries is Sarhan Dhouib, originally from Tunesia, now at the University of Kassel. For Muslim Southasia, I’m working with Jan Peter Hartung from the SOAS in London, for Iran, Reza Hajatpour, Katajun Amirpur and Roman Seidel who are all at present at German Universities. The part on Philosophy in the Ottoman Empire is written by Sait Özervarlı from the Yildiz Teknik Universitesi in Istanbul and for Turkey by Christoph Herzog from the University of Bamberg. We all are in close contact with living philosophers and professors of philosophy in the regions of research.

Now, coming back to your question: What the so-called Muslim societies share with each other and, by the way with many other non-Western societies and even with Western societies themselves, is the challenge of Modern philosophy and science. Be it Cairo, Istanbul, Teheran or Lahore, in the second half of the 19th century and at the turn of the 20th century, the main ideas of Positivism, Darwinism, Materialism, Socialism and Constitutionalism provoked extensive reactions. They were particularly discussed in the newly established cultural and scientific journals and in some private schools, primarily at the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut. And the responses to these challenging ideas varied just like in Europe or the United States: sometimes scholars welcomed the new developments, sometimes rejected them, sometimes remained undecided.  

Of course, the responses were  developed against the background of one’s own intellectual traditions. And these traditions differed quite considerably from each other in terms of what was taught at the Madrasas, that is Muslim schools – there would be a difference between a mainly Shiite context like Iran and a predominantly Sunnite environment like Egypt, or the other countries nominally or fully belonging to the Ottoman Empire. Then there were also many private schools, not least the Christian confessional schools, either indiginous or run by missionaries. 

Despite all that, when they were confronted with a new understanding of science and philosophy the differences between the traditions played a very minor role. Modern science had abandoned determinism and any belief in unshakable knowledge, shifting to empirically based research and an heuristic approach. Philosophy had more or less given up on metaphysics. Thus the core of what had been considered among Muslim philosophers over centuries as the first and most noble part of philosophy seemed to have lost its meaning. Moreover, many parts of philosophy had, to speak, gained independence and turned into sciences, like psychology and sociology during the 19th century. That process already started earlier with, for instance, biology and physics, and spun off new sciences in the 19th centuries like paleontology. 

There were, roughly speaking, three main ways of reacting to this immense challenge: to stick to tradition, to adapt the Modern ideas, or to harmonize the two with one another.

Some schools successfully sealed themselves off from European influences and are even today still teaching traditional deterministic philosophies. So, for instance, in Iran, but also in India and Pakistan, the school following the Shirazian philosopher of being or existence (in Arabic wuǧūd), Mollā Ṣadrā, from the 16th century, is still alive and well. 

Then at the other extreme, there was wholehearted adaptation. At first the European models were rather strongly imitated. So, you have, for instance, the doctor Shibli Shumayyil from Lebanon and the Ottoman thinker Baha Tevfik who propagated evolutionism, following the Germans Ludwig Büchner or Ernst Haeckel. Or you have the Iranian Azeri writer Mīrzā Fatḥʿalī Aḫundzāde and the Ottoman politician and diplomat Ahmed Rıza, who spread positivism among their compatriots. These authors were, however, not all that influential in their home countries, though their writings are still in print today. 

The third approach was in the middle: incorporating the new ideas into the traditional religious framework. Here the first examples were Muslim reformers like the Iranian cosmopolitan and political activist Ǧamaladdīn al-Afġānī, the Egyptian educational reformer and Mufti Muḥammad ʿAbduh and the Indian educational reformer Sayyid Aḥmad Ḫān. Their motto was that Islam is a ‘rational religion’. So here they are taking on the well known claim of the classical Muslim philosophers and theologians that Islam is in full harmony with reason, and thus with science and philosophy. But this idea, which seems to imply that reason or revelation has to submit to the other, took on a new aspect in the face of philosophies that are solely interested in this world and no longer in metaphysics or in God’s essence and his attributes. In many Muslim societies, it stimulated the reformers to ‘anthropologize’ the understanding of religion. The center of interest became the individual human being, and the societies that human beings build. Since these reformers considered modern science and philosophy a necessary mean to progress and fully compatible with Islam, they helped pave the way to a secularization of knowledge. 

So now let me come back to the core of your question, which was about developments in different geographical locations. At first one can observe similar and closely connected developments across the Islamic world, especially until the establishment of National States in the Near and Middle East, and in North Africa. But then philosophies have become more diverse with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire into the Republics of Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, among others after World War One -- also independence from Great Britain in the case of Egypt, India and Pakistan, and from France in North Africa. 

In general we can say that, in each country, mainstream political philosophy has clearly been marked by State ideology. For instance socialism in Syria, Irak and also in Egypt, especially in the nineteen fities and sixties; Kemalism in Turkey from the nineteen thirties onwards, followed by the Turkish-Islamic Synthesis. In Iran you have the struggle between the constitiutionalists and the adherents of the state doctrine of the welāyat-e faqīh, which means the “guardianship of the jurisconsult”. Although the internal development and tradition of each country also plays a role in other fields of philosophy, the interest in European and North American philosophy remains a strong common feature. Here, the colonial background has left its imprint. French philosophers, like Henri Bergson and nowadays Michel Foucault, and the French reception of English and German philosophers prevail in Tunesia or Morocco, whereas you find English philosophers, as for instance Herbert Spencer, Bertrand Russell and the English reception of French and German philosophers prevailing in Egypt and India. In Turkey, for instance, we see influence from philosophers in exile, the neopositivist Hans Reichenbach, and especially the historian of philosophy Ernst von Aster -- through their teachings and pupils at the University of Istanbul they have had a major impact on the development of academic philosophy. 

So, we do see a divergence between different natures. Still there are have been some clear common features too. Since the late seventeeth century there is a new field that might be labeled “philosophy of turāṯ”; that is a philosophically inspired, completely new interpretation of the Muslim intellectual heritage. It started in Lebanon and Syria with Ḥusain Muruwwa and Ṭayyib Tīzīnī and has been taken up in many Arab speaking countries with Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Ǧābirī from Morocco as its most renowned representative. His works are widespread apparently also in Indonesia.

2. Can you say something about the institutional frameworks within which philosophy is practiced in the Islamic world today? Should we be thinking in terms of independent scholars or even political commentators and activists, or in terms of universities and madrasa settings, or both?

Both. Philosophy in terms of the continuation of traditional schools of commentaries on Avicenna, Mollā Ṣadrā or Mullā Maḥmūd Ǧaunpūrī , is still taught at the Madrasas. And it continues to be taught rather traditionally even at the reformed schools, like for instance the Azhar. 

The spread of European philosophy happened outside these institutions. At the turn of the 20th century, the main channel of dissemination was cultural and scientific journals. They were run by Muslim or Christian intellectuals, frequently medical doctors, but often self made journalists and writers, who knew at least one European language and had travelled to Europe, in some cases also to the United States. The first case was apparently the Ottoman journal Felsefe Mecmuası that survived for only six months in 1913. That may just be typical for the time, since we find a lot of other, non-specialized journals with only a short life span in that period. In some Arabic countries professional philosophical journals started to appear in the last quarter of the 20th century. They have been closely linked to the Universities and their philosophical departments as well as to philosophical societies and congresses. 

In fact, philosophical societies and congresses have been another means of disseminating philosophy, both traditional and modern types and currents. 

Probably the first philosophical congress to meet regularly is the Indian Philosophical Congress. It was created in 1925 at the initiative of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who became President of India in the 1960’s. Most of these philosophical Congresses and Societies are national institutions or at least nationally anchored. Pakistan and afterwards Bangladesh established their own Philosophical Associations, and also Egpyt, Morocco, Tunesia and Jordan have their own philosophical societies.   

With the establishment of modern Universities, which started in the late 1920s in Cairo, Istanbul, Teheran, and so on -- and in India even earlier than that -- philosophy had a new kind of academic context that profoundly differed from that of a Madrasa. In these universities Philosophy was soon being taught just like in Europe or the United States. The main difference is that, besides the main fields of theoretical and practical philosophy, and the history of Western philosophy as well as Modern logic, there has been a chair of Islamic philosophy. In contrast to the traditional, commentary oriented teaching at the Madrasa, Islamic philosophy is understood in terms of the history of the development of philosophy in Muslim societies. Depending on the chair holder, however, what is understood under Islamic philosophy can differ quite considerably. So, the first chair holder of Islamic philosophy at the University of Egypt (the nowadays Cairo University) Muṣṭafā ʿAbdarrāziq, developed a new perspective on the emergence of Islamic philosophy. According to him, it did not only arise due to the influence of Greek and other cultures, but had its origins also in the methods of Islamic jurisprudence (ʿilm uūl al-fiqh) developed by al-Shāfiʿī. Moreover, he emphasized the ties between ʿilm al-kalām and philosophy and stressed the contribution of early Islamic mysticism to Islamic ethics. He has been rather influential in Egypt. By the way Muṣṭafā ʿAbdarrāziq was not just an academic, he was also politically active, first in the Egyptian opposition; and after his retirement from the University in 1938, he served as a government minister.

It’s actually very common for professors of philosophy in the so-called Muslim societies to be politically engaged, be it with or against the governemt. So, for instance, the Iranian  professor of Western philosophy at the University of Teheran, Ġolām ʿAlī Ḥaddād ʿĀdel, served as for several years as chairman of the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And Moncef Marzouki, the interim president of Tunesia, as well as Léopold Sedar Senghor, the first president of Senegal, both studied philosophy and Senghor has remained a great admirer of Henri Bergson throughout his life. 

And just to mention two other renowned personalities as further examples: the Syrian professor emeritus of Western philosophy Ṣādiq Ǧalāl al-ʿAẓm was after 1967 actively engaged for the Palestinian cause, and later on he constantly agitated against Middle Eastern forms of despotism in various articles and Manifestos. The Palestinian professor of Islamic philosophy Sari Nusseibeh has been politically very active in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, among others as the representative of the PLO in East Jerusalem. But, with these examples I don’t mean to say that almost every professor of philosophy is politically engaged. In fact most of them stay within academia, on a national and also international level. 

3. Which philosophers from the period up to the 14th century -- which is what historians of philosophy writing in European languages have mostly concentrated on -- have had the most significant cultural currency in the 20th century?

From the Mashriq, Avicenna, and, to a lesser extent, al-Fārābī, and from the Maghrib, Averroes and Ibn Ḫaldūn – though it is contested, whether Ibn Ḫaldūn can be called a philosopher given his harsh criticism of the falāsifa. Also Miskawayh and Ibn Tufayl have had some influence. 

Let me start with Ibn Ḫaldūn: For the Lebanese professor of Philosophy, Fahmī Ǧadʿān, with Ibn Ḫaldūn we have the beginning of the nahḍa, that is the renaissance, an awakening of Muslim culture and an opening of the mind to progress. And for many contemporary intellectuals, he represents a turn towards realism and to a rational and empirically based rational approach to history. His harsh criticism of falsafa can be seen, to a certain extent, as being only a rejection of metaphysics, and thus of the possibility of grasping the Hidden World using reason. Ibn Ḫaldūn’s encouragement of all sciences that deal with facts, his sharp analysis of historical events, and his search for causality in history – all of which, by the way, was largely based on the Aristotelian theory of causes – these have been seen by quite a number of professors of philosophy as a major step forward. We find a whole series of scholars writing voluminous works on Ibn Ḫaldūn and paying tribute to him, for instance the Moroccan professor emeritus of history, ʿAbdallāh Laroui (who served by the way as diplomatic representative in Cairo and Paris), and his compatriots and professors of philosophy the late Muḥammad ʿAzīz al-Laḥbabī and Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Ǧāb(i)rī. Also I could name here the Lebanese professor emeritus of philosophy Nāṣīf Naṣṣār. Still, they did not hesitate to criticize Ibn Ḫaldūn on some topics, especially for his belief in miracles and superstition and his cyclical understanding of history. 

The reception of al-Fārābī has been quite different and until now, at least, much less well defined and widespread. It’s really only the phrase « al-madīna al-fāḍila», that is the virtuous city – which is part of the title of one of his major works – that has been frequently used. But this is just as way of referring to an ideal of a city or a state, and has nothing to do with al-Fārābī’s own vision of politics. Several Arab intellectuals do regard al-Fārābī as a model to follow in respect to his rational and methodological approach. One scholar I can think of goes further, this is the Tunesian professor Fatḥī Trīkī, holder of the UNESCO chair for philosophy in the Arabic World. In the context of his philosophy of living together, he develops on al-Farābī’s concept of taʿaqqul, as crucial for our time. In English, it might be rendered by "practical reasoning". So the idea here is that it is being contrasted to theoretical reflection; al-Fārābī’s notion of taʿaqqul is meant to open the way for using of reason in practical social life. 

As for Avicenna, you’ve mentioned in your podcasts that the Avicennan tradition has continued to be taught at Madrasas and has more or less been fused with ideas from Sufism and kalam. This kind of teaching is still alive in some Madrasas, for instance in Iran and Pakistan. The reception of Avicenna in Modern Muslim societies seems to be understood – except in purely academic research – exactly in that way. And according to the Moroccan philosopher al-Ǧāb(i)rī, it is exactly that kind of mystical philosophy that the Islamic world has to get rid of, in order to become – again – a part of modern civilization. He also criticizes Avicenna’s theories in some detail. For instance when Avicenna describes the world’s dependence on God by saying that it is “an existent possible by itself and the necessary through another” (mumkin al-wuǧūd min dātihi wāǧib min ġairihi), al-Ǧāb(i)rī understands this “third value” (qīma tālita), as he calls it, as an offence against the premise of the excluded middle, because it gives created things this status that is supposedly neither just contingent nor just necessary.

But this understanding of Avicenna is contested by quite a number of Arab professors of philosophy, like ʿAlī Ḥarb, Georges Ṭarābīšī and Maḥmūd Amīn al-ʿĀlim. However, the prevailing  image of Avicenna is that he is close to mysticism or theosophy. Some scholars have admired him for this, for instance the Iranian professor of philosophy Sayyed Husain Nasr. There’s something ironic here, because both Sayyid Ḥusain Naṣr, who wants to continue this Avicennan path, and al-Ǧāb(i)rī who wants to reject it, both consider Averroes as representing an alternative to Avicenna.  They both see Averroes as someone who seperated philosophy and science from religion. So the teachings of Averroes are rejected by Sayyid Ḥusain Naṣr and propagated by al-Ǧāb(i)rī, but for the same reason.

By the way, Greek philosophy actually enjoyed a revival from the second half of the 19th century onwards. It was seen as a common source that influenced both the Oriental and Occidental civilisations. We find them trying to make Greek philosophy directly fruitful for the modern day, without referring to the Muslim Medieval Philosophers like al-Fārābī, Avicenna or Averroes. Aristotle seems to have been the most revered among the Greek philosophers. Especially influential in spreading his works were two Egyptian writers and political liberal thinkers, activists and temporary ministers for culture, named Luṭfī as-Sayyid and Ṭāhā Ḥusain. Luṭfī as-Sayyid translated Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, On Generation and Corruption, the Physics and the Politics into Arabic. Since he didn't know Greek, he translated from French. For Luṭfī as-Sayyid the return to Aristotle meant giving knowledge and judgement a sound basis, and he was convinced that the scientific spirit of Aristotle could help to restore that spirit in the Arab World.

As to Ṭāhā Ḥusain, who as a professor of Ancient history, classical philology and Arabic literature was very well versed in Ancient Greek, he translated "The Constitution of Athens“ into Arabic. He did that just after the so-called constitutional revolution in in Egypt in 1919, when the Egyptians were discussing which political system to adopt. In his foreword, he explicitly argues against taking the Islamic principle of consultation, the šūrā, under the first four caliphs as a model, and recommends adopting the liberal principles of the Greek tradition. But this was a statement he later considered. 

Then, apart from Aristotle there has been much admiration for Socrates. The Egyptian government employée and writer Muḥammad al-Muwailiḥī, for instance, who was very critical of modern Western society, wrote a book on ethics where he talks about what he calls „the healing of the soul (ʿIlāǧ an-nafs), taking especially Socrates as a model. He even accused modern European philosophers of having distorted their Greek sources. Socrates also inspired the translator of  Darwin's The Origins of Species into Arabic, the Egyptian Ismāʿīl Maẓhar – he saw Socrates as a model of virtue and of the right approach to critical investigation.

4. One figure you've worked on is Averroes, who has been held up by some as a kind of hero of rationalism and harbinger of modernity. Can you say something more about how Averroes has been used to defend certain political and religious ideas within the Islamic world?

I would like to concentrate here on the Arab World. The rediscovery of Averroes in Arab-speaking intellectual circles dates back to the second half of the 19th century when his Tahāfut at-Tahāfut and perhaps also his compendium of Aristotle’s Metaphysics were published for the first time in an Arab country, while several other works were printed in Munich. 

This idea of him being a hero of rationalism started at the beginning of the 20th century and takes the fate of Averroes’ thought in Europe as an important point of reference. It was Faraḥ Anṭūn, a Lebanese, Christian socialist and secularist writer who thought that the voice of Ibn Rushd should be made known to the Arabs, as a way to explain the descent of the Islamic and ascent of the European culture. But then there was a new wave of «re-interpretation» of the intellectual history, the turāṯ-turn, you could call it, in the late seventies. And it’s really at this point that Averroes was styled by some prominent scholars as a hero. Here the socio-political cirumstances and personal orientations of these professors of philosophy was relevant. In socialist Syria, Ṭayyib Tīzīnī interpreted Averroes’ theory of the world’s eternity as an early expression of materialism and atheism. He set aside Averroes’ theological-philosophical treatises aside, believing that Averroes was not speaking his true beliefs in them. In Morocco when Muslim advocates of the unity of religion and state were becoming politically strong, Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Ǧābirī launched his well-known critique of Arab reason (naqd al-ʿaql al-ʿarabī). He wanted to establish a new tradition of critical rationalism, which he saw as specific to the Maghreb, with an “axiomatic view” as its core method. He thought that Averroes was the highpoint of this sort of rationalism, because of his criticism of the analogy between the suprasensible and the sensible (qiyās al-ġāʾib ʿalā š-šāhid), which had been put forward in kalam and by Avicenna. Instead, according to al-Ǧābirī Averroes regarded religion and philosophy as two axiomatic and deductive systems, and the correctness of each system could only be proven within that system. 

And by the way, the peak of Averroes’ understanding as a forerunner of modernity is probably reached not with the work of any philosopher, but with a film! It’s called Destiny (al-Maṣīr), and was directed by the Egyptian film maker Yūsuf aš-Šahīn in 1997; it shows Averroes fighting dogmatism and fanatism, and ends with his books being burnt by the religious authorities.

Having said all that, there has been another way of understanding Averroes’ thought. He’s also been seen as a harmonizer of religion and philosophy, as the one who most consistently and successfully showed that the Islamic revelation is in full agreement with reason. The Egyptian scholar Maḥmūd Qāsim (1913-1973) who taught for long years at the Dār al-ʿulūm in Cairo and published Averroes’ al-Kašf ʿan manāhiǧ al-adilla, placed him in the tradition of the Muʿtazilites, al-Kindī, and al-Ghazālī, trying to demonstrate Averroes’ orthodoxy. According to him, Ibn Rushd actually rejected the theory of the world’s eternity and taught its creation, he believed not in a collective, but in an individual immortality of the soul, and he subordinated philosophical to religious truth. A pupil of Maḥmūd Qāsim, the independent scholar Muḥammad ʿAmāra also used Averroes as one of his favorite models of “Islamic Rationalism.” During the late sixties and seventies, on the basis of Averroes’ definitions of the relationship between religion and philosophy, of the world’s eternity, of knowledge, and of the freedom of act and will, he tried to show that Materialists and Muslims could be united. Since the 1980s, however, ʿAmāra has changed his view on Averroes and adopted the theological approach of his teacher Maḥmūd Qāsim. In that sense, he is still promoting Averroes as a model of “Islamic rationalism”, but sees him as being in agreement with Ibn Taimiyya and his teaching of the harmony of reason and Scripture. 

Finally I would like to add that besides this kind of use of Averroes for various political and cultural purposes, there is also strong academic research on Averroes at several Arab Universities. The research focuses especially on Averroes’ commentaries and includes the retranslation of those commentaries back into Arabic, when the Arabic original is lost and we have only Hebrew or Latin versions. 

5. Obviously, since at least the colonialist period the Islamic world has been exposed to ideas from Europe, and we've seen obvious consequences of that, for instance with Marxism having an impact on political ideas. Have ideas from thinkers like Descartes, Kant, Hegel and Heidegger similarly had a major impact on contemporary philosophy in the Islamic world, perhaps even more so than earlier figures of the Islamic world like Avicenna? 

Yes, down to the modern day almost every European philosophical school and major philosopher has found advocates and opponents, and many Muslim philosophical traditions have been reframed or harmonized with one or the other modern European philosophy. 

Due to the very incomplete state of research, though, it is hard to say who has been the most widely read of the European philosophers and who has been the most influential. Was it Kant, Rousseau, Marx, Comte, Spencer, Bergson, Nietzsche, Heidegger or somebody else? There seem to have been waves of interest in one or the other philosopher and these waves seem to differ quite considerably from country to country. So I’d prefer not to “go on record” with a statement given the current state of research, where our knowledge is still so scattered. But concerning the reception of two philosophers we will soon know more: Roman Seidel’s dissertation on “Kant in Iran” will come out this year and Kata Moser’s dissertation on “Heiddegger in contemporary Arabic philosophy” will be published next year.

7. What about critics of philosophy? Another figure you've worked on, Ibn Taymiyya, was very hostile to the philosophers of his day and even criticized logic, whose value was broadly accepted among theologians at that time. Obviously he is a prominently discussed figure nowadays, but does his antipathy to philosophy in particular live on as a kind of explicit anti-rationalism in some quarters?  

Ibn Taymiyya is indeed a figure whose writings and opinions seem to be more widespread in the 20th century than ever before. But his Radd ʿalā l-manṭiqiyīn, that is his refutation of the logicians, apparently deos not count among them. Neither does his major work «Averting the Conflict between Reason and Tradition» (Darʾ taʿāruḍ al-ʿaql wan-naql). Also I would be careful about calling him anti-rational. In fact, he emphasizes again and again that reason is in full agreement with the Coran and the sound Sunna. For him reason means common sense, and also reasoning about moral and social questions on the basis of the Islamic revelation or on empirical grounds. Ibn Taimiyya does not reject natural science as such. He does reject what I called in one of my articles intellectualism, meaning the non-empirical theories of mystics like Ibn ʿArabī, the theology of the later kalam and, of course, of the Muslim philosophers. 

Among the explicitly anti-Western and anti-philosophical Muslim thinkers in the modern Arab World, the rejection of rationalism and logic is, as far as I can say at this stage of research, not much based on Ibn Taimiyya’s arguments. For example the founder of al-Iḫwān al-Muslimūn, the Muslim Brotherhood, Ḥasan al-Bannā, for example, simply stated as a dogma (ʿaqīda), that mankind is unable to apprehend God by reason, so we should keep away from philosophical theories and logical proofs. Sayyid Quṭb, the founder of the radical wing of this brotherhood, who was sentenced to death by the Egyptian President Gamaladdin Abdannasser in 1966, thought that rational logic (al-manṭiq aḏ-ḏihnī) was a bad way to reach God and the religious dogmas. He contrasts it to what he calls emotional logic (al-manṭiq al-wiǧdānī), which he says attracts man through imagination and spiritual visualization (ṭarīqat at-ṭaṣwīr wat-taḫyīl). Both Ḥasan al-Bannā and Sayyid Quṭb accepted natural sciences and medicine, though, especially as applied sciences. What they rejected was all reasoning in the sphere that concerned man as an individual and collective moral, emotional and responsible being. Thus Modern and Ancient philosophy, the humanities and social sciences were exempt from free reasoning and should have at their basis the Koran and Sunna only. 


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