1. Al-Ghazzali (1058-1111 AD)
Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali is one of the most important scholars of Islamic thought.
He was a philosopher, a legal scholar and a theologian and towards the end of
his life a mystical thinker in the class of Ibn Arabi.
For many Muslims al-Ghazzali is the paragon of the Mujaddid, a reviver of Islam.
Coming at a time when there were many disputations between philosophers and
theologians, between rationalists and traditionalists and the Mystical and the
orthodox, he tried to bridge these divisions.
His Ihya Ulum al-Din, The Revival of Religious Sciences embarks on a massive
endeavor to find a golden mean between all these diverging trends.
The mature al-Ghazzali is very interesting.
After his intellectual crisis and subsequent spiritual awakening he becomes more
like Sheikh Rabbani of India who balanced Shariah and Tariqah
(law and mysticism).
2. Ghazali's major contribution lies in religion, philosophy and sufism. A
number of Muslim philosophers had been following and developing
several viewpoints of Greek philosophy, including the Neoplatonic
philosophy, and this was leading to conflict with several Islamic teachings.
On the other hand, the movement of sufism was assuming such excessive
proportions as to avoid observance of obligatory prayers and duties of
Islam. Based on his unquestionable scholarship and personal mystical
experience, Ghazali sought to rectify these trends, both in philosophy and
In contrast to some of the Muslim philosophers, e.g., Farabi, he portrayed the
inability of reason to comprehend the absolute and the infinite. Reason could not
transcend the finite and was limited to the observation of the relative. Also,
several Muslim philosophers had held that the universe was finite in space but
infinite in time.
3. Ghazali argued that an infinite time was related to an infinite space.
With his clarity of thought and force of argument, he was able to create a
balance between religion and reason, and identified their respective
spheres as being the infinite and the finite, respectively.
In religion, particularly mysticism, he cleansed the approach of sufism of
its excesses and reestablished the authority of the orthodox religion.
Yet, he stressed the importance of genuine sufism, which he maintained was the
path to attain the absolute truth.
He is one of the greatest theologians of Islam.
His theological doctrines penetrated Europe, influenced Jewish and Christian
Scholasticism and several of his arguments seem to have been adopted by St.
Thomas Aquinas in order to similarly reestablish the authority of orthodox
Christian religion in the West.
4. So forceful was his argument in the favour of religion that he was accused of
damaging the cause of philosophy and, in the Muslim Spain, Ibn Rushd
(Averros) wrote a rejoinder to his Tuhafut.
He was a prolific writer. His immortal books include
Tuhafut al-Falasifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers),
Ihya al-'Ulum al-Islamia (The Rivival of the Religious Sciences),
Some of his works were translated into European languages in the Middle Ages.
He also wrote a summary of astronomy.
Ghazali's influence was deep and everlasting.
5. Ibn Rushd Averroism (1126-1198)
Born in Cordova, Chief justice appointed at cordova Spain.
Averroes (Ibn Rushd) is most famous for his commentaries on Aristotle's
works and for writing
He said materialism & Intellect is one and same for whole mankind
He discussed the question of Ideal State.
He believed that Islamic state is an Ideal state better than Plato’s ideal state.
He accepted Aristotle dictum that man is by nature a political animal and can not
live in a solitary life.He said solitary life can not produce arts,sciences.
He said that even women should be of service to society.
She should not be kept like domestic animals or plants.
She should be allowed to take part in production of material and intellectual
wealth.It produced tremendous effect on Europe not on lands of Islam.
6. Ibn Rushd Citicized Al Ghazali ‘s anti intellectualism.
He said denial of cause implies denial of knowledge and it implies that nothing in
the world can be really known that is supported to be known.
Tahful al tahafat (Destruction of Destruction)
Kitab al Falsafa (Discourse on philosophy)
Averroism became very influential in medieval Europe, especially among
Averroism eventually led to the development of modern secularism,
for which Ibn Rushd is considered as the founding father of secular thought in
Existence Precedes Essence
The concept of "existence precedes essence", a key foundational concept
of existentialism, can also be found in the works of Averroes, as a reaction
to Avicenna's concept of "essence precedes existence
7. Al-Kindi (805-873 A.D)
He is Abu Yusuf Ya’qub Ibn Is-haaq Al-Kindi Al-Kufi.
Many people view Al-Kindi as the founder of the Arab Islamic philosophy.
Al-Kindi deservedly deserved the title of (the philosopher of the Arabs), as he left
behind more than two hundreds books about various sciences.
Al-Kindi’s most important book about philosophy was his valuable book:
(Al-Falsafah al-ula fima dun al-tabi’yat wa al-tawhid) (On First Philosophy).
Al-Kindi laid the foundation for explaining the problem of free will in a
Al-Kindi noticed that the real action was not the result of intention or will
and that the will of man is a psychological power moved by thoughts.
8. Al-Kindi believed in causality.
Al-Kindi also underlined the idea of Providence under which the universe
is subject to fixed rules.
Al-Kindi was also interested in mathematics and astronomy.
Al-Kindi wrote books about medicine and medications and also left his marks on
geography, chemistry, mechanics and music.
Some Orientalists regarded him as one of twelve figures that represented the
height of human thought.
9. Al-Farabi (872-950 A.D)
He is Abu Nasr Muhammad Ibn Tarhan Al-Farabi.
He is regarded as one of the greatest Muslim philosophers.
Al-Farabi is known as the second teacher because he studied and explained the
books of Aristotle, the first teacher. It was at his hands that Aristotelian philosophy
reached its highest point of flourishing.
Al-Farabi was known among Europeans as (Alpharabius), because, thanks to his
explanation, ideas and approach, he managed to bring Greek philosophy closer to
Islamic thinking, which did not happen before at the hands of Al-Kindi.
One of Al-Farabi’s most famous and important books is his book:
Ara Ahl al-Madina al-fadilah (Opinions of the Residents of a Splendid City)
in which he explained the ideal human society system.
Al-Farabi tried and explained the different aspects of Islam and the multiple sides
of the Arab Islamic culture in the light of his own philosophy.
10. Al-Farabi classified the societies into two types : perfect and imperfect.
Furthermore he identified three kinds for each type as follows :
(1) The Highest: The World State.
(2) The intermediate: The Nation State.
(3) The Lowest: The City State.
(1) The Village.
(2) The Suburb of a city.
(3) The street and house.
11. At the heart of al-Farabi's political philosophy is the concept of
The virtuous society (al-ijtima' al-fadil) is defined as that in which people
cooperate to gain happiness.
The virtuous city (al-madina al-fadila) is one where there is cooperation in
The virtuous world (al-ma'mura al-fadila) will only occur when all its
constituent nations collaborate to achieve happiness.
12. Al-Farabi's classification of knowledge is his Kitab ihsa' al-'ulum.
This work illustrates neatly al-Farabi's beliefs both about what can be known and
the sheer range of that knowledge.
Here he divides his material into five major chapters.
Chapter 1 deals with the 'science of language',
Chapter 2 formally covers the 'science of logic',
Chapter 3 is devoted to the 'mathematical sciences',
Chapter 4 surveys physics and metaphysics, and
the final chapter encompasses political science, jurisprudence and scholastic
A brief examination of these chapter headings shows that a total of eight main
subjects are covered; not surprisingly, there are further subdivisions as well.
To give just one example, the third chapter on the mathematical sciences
embraces the seven subdivisions of arithmetic, geometry, optics, astronomy,
music, weights and 'mechanical artifices'; these subdivisions in turn have their
13. Ibn Tufail
Born near Granada, Spain (1100 AD).
As a philosopher and novelist, he is most famous for writing the first
philosophical novel, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan
Ibn Tufail was the author of ayy ibn Yaq ānḤ ẓ which tells the story of
an autodidactic feral child, raised by a gazelle and living alone on a
Desert Island, who, without contact with other human beings, discovers ultimate
truth through a systematic process of reasoned inquiry.
Hayy ultimately comes into contact with civilization and religion when he meets a
castaway named Absal.
He determines that certain trappings of religion, namely imagery and dependence
on material goods, are necessary for the multitude in order that they might have
However, imagery and material goods are distractions from the truth and ought to
be abandoned by those whose reason recognizes that they are distractions.
14. Hayy ibn Yaqdhan had a significant influence on both Arabic
literature and European literature, and it went on to become an influential
best-seller throughout Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The work also had a "profound influence" on both classical Islamic
philosophy and modern Western philosophy.
It became "one of the most important books that heralded the Scientific
Revolution" and European Enlightenment, and the thoughts expressed in
the novel can be found "in different variations and to different degrees in
the books of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Isaac Newton.
Hayy's ideas on materialism in the novel also have some similarities to Karl
Marx's historical materialism.
15. Ibn Bajja, (1138 AD)
Ibn Bajja (or Avempace in the West), was born in Saragossa, Spain,
died in Fez in North Africa in ah 537/ad 1138.
Ibn Bajja's philosophy may be summed up in two words;
(conjunction) and (solitude).
Conjunction is union with the divine realm, a union that reveals the eternal
and innermost aspects of the universe. Through this union or knowledge, one is
completed as a human being, and in this completion the ultimate human end,
happiness, is achieved.
Solitude, on the other hand, is separation from a society that is lacking in
knowledge. Once united with the eternal aspects of the universe, one must isolate
oneself from those who are not in the same state, who may therefore distract one
from the supernatural realm through their ignorance and corruption.
16. Ibn Bajja was the teacher of Ibn Rushd(Averroes).
His prominence was the result of his being the first in the West to show deep
understanding of the views of some of his predecessors, such
as Plato, Aristotle, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and al-Ghazali.
Thus he served as a link between the East and the West.
His works include medical works, commentaries on Aristotle and al-Farabi and
original philosophical treatises.
The most important of these treatises are
Tadbir al-mutawahhid (Management of the Solitary), .
He was concerned with the ultimate human objective.
To understand the ultimate human objective and the instruments through
which it is attained.
17. Ibn Bajja first traces the development of the human soul, the only means to
The human soul, he believes, develops from the plant to the animal and finally to
the rational life.
The plant life is the embryonic life, which provides one with nourishment and
With the progress from the plant to the animal life, which is the sensitive life, one
moves from mere vegetation to sensation, movement and desire.
Sensation is acquired either by the five external senses or by the internal senses,
the common sense, the imagination and memory.
By acquiring thought, or the highest human state, one rises to the level of rational
While the human soul incorporates these three states, human nature or essence
as such is described as 'aql (reason or intellect).
18. Ibn Bajja teaches that the intellect is either potential or actual.
When it is potential, it has the capacity for acquiring its proper object, the
intelligible form (as-sura al-'aqliyya) or,
as Ibn Bajja is fond of calling it, the spiritual form (as-sura ar-ruhaniyya), the form
that belongs to the soul. When it is actual, it is identified with its object.
19. Ibn Arabi(1165-1240 AD)
Ibn Arabi is perhaps the most unique, most perplexing and at the same time
most profound Muslim philosophical thinker.
He was not a rational philosopher like al-Farabi or Ibn Rushd.
He was mystical, speculative and indescribable.
Ibn Arabi was perhaps the first postmodern and feminist thinker in human
Fusus al-Hikam (Bezels of Wisdom) and
Futuhat al-Makiyyah (The Meccan Openings)
are perhaps the acme of Islamic mystical and philosophical thought.
One can never fully appreciate Islamic intellectual heritage without trying to
understand Ibn Arabi.
20. Fortunately, Professor William Chittick has written several books that translate
and comment on Ibn Arabi's thought and make him partially comprehensible to
ordinary mortals like me.
Ibn Arabi provides the most compelling explanation of the purpose and
meaning of creation as a continuous self-disclosure (Tajalli) of God.
His reading of the sacred texts is always surprising and tantalizing to the
Most orthodox scholars fear and hate Ibn Arabi, because they cannot
understand him. Once they do, they are no more orthodox.
It would be a colossal tragedy if you are a Muslim and have intellectual
leanings and never read Ibn Arabi, Al-Sheikh al-Akbar.