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Islamic logic is a philosophical concept in Islamic theology and philosophical beliefs that guided great philosophers in achieving wisdom for them to understand philosophical and theological problems such as nature of humanity, existence of universe and societal ethics. Islamic philosophy does not only deal with the religious issues of Muslims, but also educational issues as philosophers want to unravel all mysterious in universe and society.
In ancient times, Islamic philosophers obtained their philosophical beliefs and ideologies from Greek philosophy, Indian philosophy, oriental philosophy, and the Quran.
Combination of the diverse philosophical ideologies resulted into Islamic logic, which has made marked contribution in the Islamic philosophy. “Historians of logic have long recognized that the medieval Muslim philosophers and philosophical theologians rendered variously as rationalist theologians, dialectical theologians and the ‘scholastics’ of Islam made some interesting contributions to the history of logic” (Corazzon 4).
The Islamic logic flourished between 8th and 12th centuries culminating into Islamic Golden Age that revolutionized Islamic philosophy and theology. Great philosophers like Al Kindi (801-813), Al Farabi (872-951) Avicenna Sina (980-1037) and Averroes Rushd (1126-1198) made significant contribution in the evolution of Islamic logic. Therefore, this essay examines evolution of Islamic logic and Islamic theologians who made significant contribution in the Islamic theology.
Evolution of Islamic Logic
Islamic logic is very important in modern philosophy because it forms part of the evolution of philosophical logic in the world of philosophy. Great Muslim philosophers and theologians concertedly worked together during the 8th and 15th centuries leading to the development of the philosophy.
As aforementioned, in the ancient times, Muslim philosophers and theologians relied on Greek philosophy, Indian philosophy, oriental philosophy and the Holy Quran in establishing Islamic philosophy with logic being the central aspect. Corazzon argues that, “when the Greek logical works were handed to the Muslim scholars in translation in and after the 9th century A.D., they studied them thoroughly and critically and wrote commentaries upon them” (8).
The commentaries have now become part of Islamic logic that revolutionized Islamic philosophy during the 12th century when theologians came up with novel philosophical ideologies. Muslim philosophers delved on life’s mysteries such as existence, creation, human nature, determinism, and divine knowledge using logic. Logicians and theologians worked together in establishing philosophical ideologies that has become cornerstone in the modern philosophy.
Muslim philosophers during the 8th and 12th century dealt with two main philosophical ideologies, Kalam and Falsafa. Kalam philosophy involved unraveling of theological mysteries while Falsafa involved analysis and interpretation of Neo-Platonism and Aristotelian philosophies of Greek.
The Muslim philosophers aimed at merging diverse philosophical ideologies and incorporating them into Muslim religion. Other philosophers also benefited from Islamic perspective of philosophy as they struggled to unravel mysteries behind life, existence, human nature, and divine knowledge. In order to build philosophical foundation of logic, great philosophers established schools where harmonization of diverse philosophical ideologies from different parts of the world took place.
The philosophers recognized that, “modern scientific process may generate universally quantified assertions which are considered objectively valid was unknown in the days when syllogistic logic came under attack of Arabic scholars” (Bergstra 3). Thus, great philosophers like Al Kindi (801-813), Al Farabi (872-951) Avicenna Sina (980-1037) and Averroes Rushd (1126-1198) established ancient schools of philosophy that aided development of Islamic philosophy.
The development of Kalam and Falsafa formed the foundation of logic during the 11th century as the head of Avicennian School of philosophy Al Ghazali introduced the concept of Islamic logic into Madrasah as a curriculum for children to understand their religion and universe.
The curriculum worked tremendously and led to the development of rational movement that advocated for the introduction and incorporation of Islamic logic into various aspects of curricula. Coupled with the emergence of Greek and oriental philosophies, the Muslim theologians dedicated their time in harmonization of diverse philosophical ideologies into their religion.
Herbert argues, “…systematic attempt undertaken by Al-Ma’mun who, being fascinated by the practical use of Greek philosophy and sciences, had issued the explicit policy of the state to promote the significance of the adoption of the ‘foreign culture’” (13). Therefore, promotion of foreign philosophical ideologies and incorporation into Madrasah led to evolution of Islamic logic.
Concept of Islamic Logic
The philosophical concept of Islamic logic has four aspects viz. historic logic, holistic logic, real logic, and crescent-star logic, and they all give evolution of Islamic logic across over time. Historic logic forms the infancy of part of logic development that is between the 8th and 15th century. During this period of historic logic, the dominant philosophies were Arabian, Greek, Welsh, Roman, and French. The evolution of Islamic logic in this period occurred very rapidly due to the establishment of schools and expansion of Islamic religion.
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Muslim theologians seized the opportunity of philosophical revolution in carrying out in-depth studies of divine knowledge, and unraveling mysteries of life such as existence and the nature of human beings. Bergstra posits that, “Islamic logic as accumulated some 1000 years ago is comparable to what today is called informal logic rather than formal logic or to philosophical logic” (5). Though Islamic logic forms basis of modern philosophical logic, critics consider it informal and thus irrelevant in the modern philosophy.
Holistic logic is a Muslim philosophical concept that involves application of logic in theology with the objective of understanding mysteries of life and divine requirements. On the other hand, the Avicennian logic is a combination of theological and general philosophy that helped in the spread of Islamic religion.
Since Islamic philosophy is central to Islamic religion, theologians did apply Islamic logic holistically in resolving philosophical problems such as creation and existence of the universe. During this period, theologians focused their teachings on the need to have wisdom. Given that Islamic logic was the only effective philosophical ideology in Islamic religion, many people flooded Madrasah and schools to attain wisdom. Theological wisdom was very critical because it enhanced spiritual status of the Muslims.
As part of holistic logic, “development of Kalam in the Muslim world was not only triggered by an external factor of Greek writings but also by an internal factor, namely the need for the art of debate in defending their views against their adversaries” (Herbert 15). Hence, Islamic logic was very essential in spreading and defending Islamic religion.
Real Islamic logic focused on core Islamic values and identity. Muslim philosophers studied philosophy and established philosophical logic as a way of understanding divine mysteries and world’s wisdom. Aristotelian logic inspired Muslim philosophers to form real Islamic logic in terms of language, theology, metaphysics, and epistemology.
“In the spirit of Aristotle, they considered the syllogism to be the form to which all rational argumentation could be reduced, and they regarded syllogistic theory as the focal point of logic” (Bergstra 19). Thus, real Islamic logic was an instrument of rational argumentation in the development of knowledge, theological principles, and advancement of Islamic philosophy.
Crescent-star logic is an Islamic logic development model that is very important in developing of societal structures like finance, religion, courts, and social institutions that are essential in Islamization.
Muslim philosophers and theologians worked together in building societal structures that are critical in Islamization of traditions so that they can be in tandem with modern philosophy. Crescent logic is a versatile concept of philosophy that is applicable in controversial or opposing ideologies that often results into dilemma as in justice system and in theological analysis.
“Progress in Crescent-star logic may help to improve the usage of logic for the application in Islamic courts because it uses and integrates several logical themes which must come together forming a complex of reasoning methods of uncommon complexity” (Bergstra 7). Muslim philosophers and theologians applied crescent logic to build social institutions such as Madrasah, schools, religious and justice system in order to enhance human development in the society.
The Islamic logic originated from ancient philosophers of 8th to 12th century who came up with Kalam and Falsafa as foundations of explaining ancient mysteries and knowledge. Islamic logic then built from the philosophical ideologies of Kalam and Falsafa. These ideologies evolved with time and by the 12th century, they resulted into great revolution of Islamic religion and philosophy.
Muslim philosophers and theologians took advantage of the philosophical revolution to spread Islam and develop social institutions. Islamic logic then became an important component of theology and education for it enhanced human development. Currently, the Islamic logic contributes significantly to the foundation of modern philosophy.
Bergstra, Aldert. “Real Islamic Logic.” Journal of Islamic Philosophy 47.29 (2009): 1-42.
Corazzon, Raul. “Ancient Islamic Logic and Ontology.” Theory and History of Ontology, 2005: 1-46.
Herbert, Davidson. “Modern Views on the Origin of Islamic Theology.” Journal of the
American Oriental Society 4.6 (2002):1-33.