Ibn Hazm’s position concerning the relationship between logic and philosophy in issues of kalam

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One of main arguments concerning kalam revolves around the value of logic as a means of attaining truth. This is exemplified by a celebrated debate, which is reported to have taken place in Baghdad in the early fourth/tenth century, between the Christian logician Abu Bishr Matta bin Yunus (d.328/940) and Muslim philologist Abu Sa’id al-Sirafi (d. 368/979). The heart of controversy deals with the question of whether logic is a universal too of expression or an instrument limited to the Greek language ( Chejne (1984) :60. A translation of the debate appears in Margoliouth (1905)) Many of the traditional scholars maintain that logic is a product of the Greek language and has no place in Arabic nor any value to Islam. The attitude is carried to the extreme conclusion that logic leads to disbelief. This is expressed as whoever practices logic practices heresy (man tamantaqa tazandaqa). On the other hand, a belief was forming that logic is an important instrument or craft which supplies rules for right thinking and could be used in the attainment of truth.

B. Ibn Hazm and using logic
One such scholars who sought to use logic as a means to defend orthodox beliefs was Ibn Hazm al- Andalusi (d. 456/1064). Although regarded as a Zahiri and thus severely criticized by other Sunni scholars, Ibn Hazm’s views concerning the evolution of sects were quoted by many traditional scholars. For example, Ibn Hajar refers to Ibn Hazm’s famous al- Fisal fi’l mila wa’l-ahwa’ wa’l- nihal in his introduction to al- Bukhari’s Kitab al- tawhid. Of particular importance to our discussion is the fact that Ibn Hazm advocated need for logic but maintained a subservient role for it in relation to revelation.

C. Ibn Hazm’s view on using reason and argumentation
Firstly, Ibn Hazm’s claims that the “first sources of all human knowledge are soundly used senses and the intuitions of reason, combined with a correct understanding of a language” ( Hourani (1979):143.) Only when a student is capable of knowing what is a sound proof as opposed to false argumentation can he or she achieve “the reality of things, and..discern falsehood without a shred of doubt” Now the student can proceed to defend the statements in the Qur’an without reverting to acircular argument. Ibn Hazm argues that one must believe in the revelation but be prepared to make a defence of it based on demonstrative proofs and sound argumentation. But in order to uphold this methodology, Ibn Hazm had to refute the opponents of logic. When confronted with the argument that the earliest generations of the Muslims neither dealt with nor had any need of logic.

Ibn Hazm responds by stating that they had direct access to revelation and that their belief was not corrupted by false doctrines. He compares the use of logic with the need of books on grammar and lexicography. When the Arabic language began to be corrupted, the scholars produced books to maintain the purity of Arabic. Likewise, the later Muslims need logic to maintain a proper understanding of God’s revelation to the Prophet. Thus for Ibn Hazm logic becomes a tool of revelation.

D. Ibn Hazm’s disagreement with using logic and philosophy extremely
Ibn Hazm’s main task was to refute what he saw as the extremes of philosophers and the mutakallimun. In this case he had to show that logic could not replace revelation as the means to attaining truth, it could be used only to defend what God has revealed. He does this by maintaining the unique and incomparable nature of God and by rejecting any attempt to assign to God conclusions reached through logic about the perceivable world. For example, if one defines the relation between cause and effect as necessary based on observations in this world, one cannot project this relation on God. To say such things destroys the idea of tawhid because it establishes a relation between God as Creator, and His creation. It also infringes on God’s absolute autonomy, on His Will to do what He wants, when He wants. For Ibn Hazm there is an unbridgeable gap between what exists in time as God’s creation and the eternality of God. Ibn Hazm refutes the accepted metaphysics of Aristotle as expressed by the Muslim philosophy. God is absolutely incomparable to any created thing. Therefore, one cannot speculate about God nor contradict the truths that He revealed in the Qur’an.

F. Ibn Hazm’s criticism of issues of free will, in Mutaziltes view
Another controversy which relates to attributes of God is the issue of free will. Here Ibn Hazm once again uses logic in defence of traditional positions. He argues against the Mu’tazilite claim that moral and ethical decisions must be based on reason, even at the expense of statements in the Qur’an. That is, if reason dictates that a particular act is good or bad, then that determination must be valid absolutely, even if it restricts God’s actions. But according ti Ibn Hazm , the categories of good and bad, reward and punishment, are not necessary and do not confine God’s action. He argues that if God so wills, He could reward evil and punish good. Also, Ibn Hazm claims that left to its own devices, the human emotional soul (nafs) would counsel towards evil, and that there is no salvation through reason alone without the aid of revelation. Thus, in opposition to Mu’tazilite claims, Ibn Hazm holds that humanity is completely in need of God’s favour to attain good behavior and reward, and reason alone will leave us in doubt. Ibn Hazm does not hesitate to state that all things, i.e. each person’s destiny, is dependent on God’s Mercy. He rejects the Mu’tazilite doctrine of free will based on their interpretation of the Qur’anic verse that good comes from God and evil from humanity (6:81) Ibn Hazm points out that God first states that all things comes from Him. Thus any evil that befalls us comes from God, for “we deserve punishment for the moral evil that appears to proceed from us as its subject” ( Hourani (1979):150) God’s actions are based on His Wisdom and Justice which we are simply incapable of understanding. Concerning the nature of good and evil, Ibn Hazm maintains the complete autonomy of God and His Will and Power over all things.

M. Ibn Hazm’s attempt at synthesizing reason and revelation
Ibn Hazm attempted to describe and define the human condition in relation to what God has revealed and what humanity has thought. For him, it had to occur through the medium of Islam and logic. His stress on the interdependence of all knowledge indicates his belief in the unity of all things under God’s Will and Guidance. The revelation of the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah supplies the guiding principles for belief and moral behavior. God tells who He is, what our purpose, is, and what path we need to follow to return to Him. Philosophy, that is, the study of the natural world and the study of logical thinking, supplies us with an understanding of God’s creation and the rational faculties for benefiting from what God has created. However, Ibn Hazm had an antagonistic approach towards all of the major religious and philosophical factions of his time, which led to his isolation in the community of believers, The strict observance of the Maliki school in Andalusia, combined with the fact that Ibn Hazm did not travel outside of Andalusia, facilitated the censuring of the writings and beliefs. Thus the kind of synthesis towards which he strove was not realized until al-Ghazzali (d.505/1111) formulated similar ideas within the acceptable limits of Sunni Islam. Yet Ibn Hazm’s full contribution to this intellectual movement is little appreciated and deserves for more attention.


History of Islamic philosophy – seyyed Hossein Nasr- pages:107to109


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