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A Historical Overview of Greek “Logic” in the Islamic World

ARISTOTLE’S LOGIC AND THE IMPACT OF ITS TANGLE WITH THE ISLAMIC LAW SCIENCES

by Sheikh: Abu Abd Al-Mu’iz Muhammad Ali Farkûs

All praises be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, peace and blessings be upon the one sent by Allah as a mercy to the worlds, upon his family, his companions and his brothers until the Day of Judgment:

Definition of logic

Considering its utility, logic is defined, at logicians, as being a mechanism of principle which cares for preserving the reason from the mistake. It is, therefore, a practical and a systematic science(1) which exists instinctively in the mind, its subject matter is the categorical(2) and extensive(3) information. Its objective is to reason correctly and to preserve the thought from mistakes of observation, this is by the opposition of the mind with itself and by stripping it of the contradiction. For this, Aristotle’s logic is called: “The formal logic” for its solicitude in the shape of the thought regardless its substance or its definition. Thus, Aristotle(4) used to be called as “the first master”. According to their sayings, he had forged this automatic device, did its rules, defined its terminology, shaped its fields of research, organized its themes and its chapters, he made of logic the first science of the thought. It was assigned to Aristotle the forms and the revelation of logic but not its apparition and its innovation(5).

The ordeal occurred to the Islamic nation after the arabization of the Greek works

The arabization of the Greek works was an ordeal for the Islamic nation. At the Umayyad era, works began to be introduced but without expansion or propagation. Indeed, those who were preoccupied by the Greek philosophy; admirers of Aristotle’s logic were a timid and discreet minority to Sunnite scientists’ eyes who had already warned against the deception of the philosophical science tangle which is different from the correct beliefs. On the other hand, these Greek books spread widely during the Abbasid dynasty, and especially in the period of the Ma’amun who had provoked a lot of religious heresies and worked for the propagation of these books and recommended them more than caring for the previous sciences(6).

Introduction of logic in the Islamic Law Science notably in theology

From then on, the introduction of logic achieved itself in a real way, notably in the science of Fundamentals through the intermediary of Abi Hâmid Al-Ghazali (505 H) who had claimed it even for the acquirement of sciences and Interpretative Judgment (“Ijtihâd”). He made of logic a criteria for the rational sciences, he said: “None confidence in the science of the one who does not master it (i.e.: Introduction to Logic)”(7). He published books on this topic, such as “The Criteria Of Science”, “The Test Of The Observation”, “Objectives Of Philosophers” and “The Just Share”. He mentioned it in the beginning of his book”The Realization”(8). He influenced a lot of his contemporaries so much so that they claimed the training of logic, raising it to the rank of Collective Duty (“fardh kifaya”) or of preliminary condition to the Interpretative Judgment (“Ijtihâd”)(9). That is to say, without the acquirement of logic, whoever wants to rise to the rank of Interpretative Judgment will not fill conditions of the right observation and will not be skillful in writing books or in deliberating Fatwa. In this context, Ibn Taimiyah (May Allah grants him His Mercy) said, “But because of what emanated from him during his life and after (i.e. Al-Ghazâli), a lot of polemicists introduced Greek logic in their sciences, so much so that those who followed them managed to pretend that there is not another path but the one led by those people”(10).

The difference between the rational criteria sent down by Allah and Aristotle’s one

This is how the much concern was given to Aristotle’s logic by a lot of writers, until to contribute to its introduction in Islamic Law Science notably in Fundamentals, believing that they are united in their goals which are the research of shapes and methods of access to the accurateness and the common sense. However, the tangle of logic with Islamic Sciences was of a very negative impact, it was one of the biggest offenses perpetrated against Islam and its people. Books of logic and philosophy were not much taken into consideration by those who are well versed in science and tenacious to the truth. Not because the nations of disbelief are preoccupied by this science, besides they accepted from them authentic sciences as medicine, calculation, architecture and other, but they also refused the syncretism between logic and the method of the Book and the Sunnah that consists of presenting the purity of the Muslims’ Creed and the Moslem conviction using the philosophical and logical shapes borrowed of the Greek works and make of Aristotle’s logic a criteria for Islamic Law. The Sheikh of Islam Ibn Taimiyah (May Allah grants him His Mercy) said, “It is not permitted for someone reasonable to believe that the rational criterion sent down by Allah is itself the Greek logic for several reasons:

First: Allah has revealed with His Books criterions before even the creation of Greece, of the time of Nûh (Noah), of Ibrahîm (Abraham), of Mûsa (Moses) and of others , whereas the Greek logic was elaborated 300 years before the Messiah . Then how the previous nations used to judge?

Second: Our Islamic nation community used the rational criteria in its judgments. Our ascendants had not heard of this Greek logic if not the arabization and the translation of the Byzantine works at or not far from the era of the Ma’amun’s dynasty.

Third: After the arabization of the Greek logic, Muslim observers stay critic towards this logic, discredited it, and did not refer to it or its adherents in their rational and legal criteria. Besides, it is made of Greek logic the criteria of the rational criterions which are a rational measure pretending that it is a legal mechanism that preserves the reasoning of the mistake. And this is not the case, because if a criterion needs another, it is going to be necessary to establish a sequence”(11).

Corrupt Changes owing to the introduction of the Greek logic

Among the corrupt changes owing to the Greek books insertion in the religious Fundamentals: The denaturizing of the correct Creed with corrupted criterions which contain some clear contradictions with what is categorical in the Qur ìân and what is rationally logical. Such as the thesis of the seniority of the world, attesting that the divinity did not precede the world in temporal existence even though it preceded it in spiritual existence, and as the introduction precedes the result in existence. Also, one of the worst thoughts on the Lord of Worlds is the fact to believe that the knowledge of Allah – the Exalted – concerns the general things but not the partial things. They justify their denying of the Allah’s – the Exalted – knowledge of partialities by the fact that these undergo a change and a constant renewal, and if the knowledge of Allah – the Exalted – concerned these partialities, it would require His change and His renewal as well(12). And among their misplacements, the contention of the intrinsic, own and affirmed Attributes of Allah -the Exalted-, they describe Him with the pure negation. Because, according to them, it does not derive from the unique only the unique, if it derives two, it is not a unity. Therefore, they reject the fact that Allah is acting or having the will to choose and deny His Attributes by fear to assimilate Him to celestial or human beings and then they compared Him to inanimate objects. Thus, “the misplacement of philosophers, in theodicy (illahiyaat), was obvious for the majority of people, and because of it, all Muslim scholars considered them unbelieving”(13). And among misdemeanors of their pretensions: the refutation of Prophecies as being graces or grants of Allah to some of His servants, considering them as acquirements by souls and by means of different exercises. Also, logicians consider “absolute information” of a likely truth and only concern those who confirm them and don’t constitute an argument for the others.

It is only as a drop of water in the ocean of what Aristotle’s logic caused to the Islamic nation; discord between its members, destabilization of their belief and faith, rebellions and divisions. Logicians and those who are preoccupied by this art harvest only confusion, doubt, controversy and embarrassment. We could not practically find two of these logicians that can agree on a problematic, even though it is considered among what they call “evidences” or “certainties”. To that effect, Ibn Taimiyah (May Allah grants him His Mercy) described those who are preoccupied by this art by saying: “Those who are devoted to the study of sciences of such an art are the most confused people that have the more of doubt and most resourceless concerning knowledge and authentification, the farthest to achieve a balanced and harmonious science, and if it happens that one among them achieves something in knowledge, it is only owing to the authenticity of the material, the advanced arguments and the clearsighted of his conception and his mind, and not to logic. Furthermore, the introduction of this art in the authentic sciences lengthens the expression, moves away the allusion, and makes of what is close to science: faraway and what is accessible: complex. Thus, when this art is introduced in the controversy or in the scholastic theology, or in jurisprudence and other, not only it is useless, but generates controversies, logomachies and disagreement with little science and authenticity. It is therefore clear that it is only verbiage and far from being a way taken by the ambitious”(14). One of the Roman emperors had said: “When these sciences penetrate a legal State, they corrupt it and provoke the discord between its scholars”(15).

The misdemeanors of the logic on Islam and the Muslims

Among the misdemeanors of Aristotle’s logic on Islam and the Muslims: The lack of veneration of the Noble Book and the Sunnah by the admirers of the scholastic theology who are deluded by the rational arguments based on criterions of logic, also they precede these arguments before those of Allah’s law which do not have an intrinsic value only when they coincide with those of logic, they are then used as a confirmation and in the case they oppose to this logic they are rejected while annulling their significance which does not agree with their rational logic -which they pretend categorical and formal-, and what is categorical and formal – still according to them- cannot be controversial by conjectures. This, of course, has taken the Muslims to dispense with the two texts of the revelation and much consider human thoughts, syllogism and heresies of philosophers, what moved them away of the requirements of the recommendation of Allah’s Messenger to this nation which consists in taking refuge in the Noble Book and the Sunnah, to resort to their arbitration for all litigation and to move away of deviation and the religious heresies to insure the salvation and the good direction. Ibn Taimiyah (May Allah grants him His Mercy) said: “Among the fundamental principles on which granted the companions of Allah’s Messenger between them and their good followers who came after, is the fact that it is on no account admitted, of whoever could be, to oppose the Qur ìân; to his opinion, his taste, his rationality, to his logic or his emotions, because it was affirmed for them with the formal proofs and the evident verses that the Messenger had come with a guidance, a religion of Truth and Qur ìân that leads to best of ways(16).

The indispensability of the Greek logic for sciences

Logic is only a manner of reasoning having coasted the Greek mind and which harmonized with its philosophical environment. It emerged in a polytheistic and atheist environment. In that time of history, the Greek thought agreed with the abstract thought and suited the ideal dialectics, which is a science without relation with the reality and what is more, its existence in the mind is abstract, because the concern of logic is only the world of generalities and disregards partialities and represented samples(17). So its bygone time, logic did not anymore have the utility that has been assigned to it, instead, it was the main reason of the delay accused by the Greek, comparing to the other nations, in the progress and effective civilization since they turned their back to the real and convenient sciences and put all their efforts and scientific interests in the metaphysical world. This is how the appearance of the scientific and civilizing development after the double revolution had an effect on the scientific power represented then by Aristotle’s logic and on the religious power represented by men of the church(18). Therefore, sciences developed before logic and its propagation in the world, and after the end of its time. In this meaning, the Sheik of Islam Ibn Taimiah said: “We couldn’t find anybody on earth, having achieved a science, either religious or other, and becomes a famous figure thanks to the contribution of logic. Physicians, architects and other scientists counted a lot of realizations in their domains without the use of logic. Thus, in Islam, sciences like grammar, Jurisprudence and its Foundations and other arts have also been composed by Imams regardless to logic, besides, the majority of these Imams existed before even the Greek logic is known”(19). For this, to impose logic as preliminary to the different sciences, including those of Islam is a thesis bringing a lot of misdemeanors and without any utility. We find in logic only loss of time, intellectual overworking, raving and pretension of achievement using slander and lie. In the answer of Ibn Taimiyah (May Allah grants him His Mercy) about the works on logic and the size of its credibility and its requirement in the acquirement of sciences he said: “…in the Islamic legitimacy, it is compulsorily known in the religion of Islam that Allah has not required of men of science and faith the training of this Greek logic. Logic itself contains what is right and true and what is false; many or the majority of what is true does not represent a necessity of use, the useful part is considered little important by sane minds, the stupid does not benefit by it and for the intelligent, it is even needless. Its misdemeanors on those who are unknowledgeable of the Prophets’ sciences are more than its profits; indeed, logic contains corrupted negative rules that are propagated among a lot of eminent people, and were the reason of their hypocrisy and the corruption of their sciences. In addition, it is completely wrong to pretend that everything in logic is true. To tell the truth, in these pretensions relative to the intrinsic attributes, to categories of the syllogism and the argument and its sources, there’s only misdemeanor and corruption on which we already spoke more than once(20) and which is, besides, demonstrated by the Muslim scholars(21)”(22).

The consideration of the Greek logic as a way and a criteria and its sanction

Those who took the philosophical methods and the systems of the logic as a way and a criteria were not without consequences; Allah had inherited to them pure confusion, a process of doubt, raving and puzzlement because of their substitution of what is low with what is better which consists of the integrity of the religion, which Allah’s Messenger left and bequeathed, its night is as its day, it will not divert from it only the one who is doomed to the damnation and the perdition. Ibn Al-Qayyim (May Allah grants him His Mercy) said: “By Allah; the dawn appeared clearly for the one who possesses two eyes that see and the Truth distinguishes itself from the error for the one who has two ears that hear, but passions of heresies and the specious arguments unleashed on the hearts, and they closed outcomes of their common sense and lost means of the good direction, their actions and blind imitations of the thoughts of men jailed them. Thus, the Quranic and the Sunna truths could not find an outcome to these hearts, illnesses of ignorance and tangle seized them. Therefore, they do not benefit from the good food, and what’s astonishing is that they feed themselves of thoughts that are useless and refuse to feed themselves of the Word of Allah and the elevated text of the Prophet”(23).

Recognition of polemicists and logicians of the misdemeanors of the Aristotle’s logic and the corruption of its ways

Indeed, a lot of those who are influenced by logic and the scholastic theology – who strongly mastered this art – recognize the misdemeanors of the philosophical shapes and methods of logic that do not succeed to anything, and come again to the authentic and correct way after having perceived the contradiction and the failing of logic to the example of: Na Ìim Bin Hamad (229 H), Abi Al-Hasan Al-Ash Ìâri (324 H), Abi Al-Ma Ìâli Al-Juaini (474 H), Abi Hâmid Al-Ghazâli (505 H) and others(24). Al-Ghazâli was one of those who disparaged logic and its scholars and showed that their methods do not succeed to the certainty, by pulverizing the philosophical argument and demonstrating its deficiency to lead man to the certainty. In the case of his application in theodicy (Ilahiyât), he said, “They have a kind of injustice in this science, in the way that they unite for reasoning certain, known and undoubted conditions, but as for religious objectives, they give up to trust these same conditions, and go beyond them with an extreme leniency”(25). As he also discredited the scholastic theologian method and showed its misdemeanors saying: “Concerning its misdemeanors: it causes specious arguments, and impairs the Creed and strips its certainty and its conception, this is what happens at first and comes back, later, with the argument, what’s doubtful and people diverge between them on its topic. Here lies its misdemeanor at those who are on the right way. Another deficiency consists in affirming the conviction in the hearts to a heresy, which helps to cause their pretexts and strengthens their attachments to it; but this deficiency appears by fanaticism that emerges during polemics…(26). It is also said in his book “Restraining the common people from the scholastic theology”: “The proof that the method of the Salaf is the truth and its opposite is a heresy and that heresy is condemned and it is misplacement”(27). He also said: «Indeed, the companions (May Allah be satisfied of them) had needed to argue against Jews and Christians to prove the Prophecy of Muhammad , they had not passed the arguments of the Qur ìân and had not persisted in making some rational criterions and organizing introductions. All of this, because they knew that it is a source of dissensions and confusions, and he who is not convinced by arguments of the Qur ìân, will be repressed by the sword and the spear of iron, because no else proof is not beyond the One of Allah”.

These are some declarations and recognitions of those who got back to the recommendation of the Prophet , that consist in holding fast to the Book and the Sunnah and to bind firmly to Allah –the Exalted- and not to divide and to get lost in the desert of the logomachies, and after having known and achieved the big corruptions of logician methods and that the result of it after tiredness and effort is only little good, it is “as the meat of a skinny camel on the summit of a laborious mountain, nor easy to reach there nor gotten fat to transport it”(28).

May Allah grants His Mercy to scholars of the Sunnah and the Hadith, in all time they triumph the truth and call people to it, by doing the duty to recommend and the fidelity to convey this religion, and by repressing changes of extremists and the corruption of heretics until the religion be for Allah the Lord of Worlds.

Our final prayer is all praises are to Allâh, the Lord of the Wolds. Peace and blessings are on His Servant and Messenger, the Imâm of the pious and righteous and on his family, and companions and those led by his guidance until the Day of Recompense.

Algiers, Jumâda al-Akhirah, 20th 1427H/Corresponding to July 16th, 2006

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(1) “Definitions”, of Al-Jarjâni : 232.

(2) “the knowledge of categories is to discern the essence without judging them negative or affirmative, the method to reach it is the term or the definition which is the word indicating the essence of a thing”, same previous source,: 59, 83. Also “Categories”, Abi Al-Baqâ ì: 290.

(3) “the knowledge of extensions which is the assignment of the judgment to the conceived essence, the method to reach it is with the syllogism which is a word composed of propositions, if they are obvious, they require others for themselves”, same previous source: 181. Also “Categories”, Abi Al-Baqâ: 290.

(4) “Aristotle or Aristo-talice is a Greek philosopher. One of the biggest philosophers, universally known as “the prince of philosophers”. The first Islamic thinkers were influenced by his philosophical works in logic, physics, theology and ethics. His works: “The Dialectics”, “The Politics”, “The soul”, “The Metaphysics”, and “Speeches”. Died in the year 322 A.CS. (see: The Summary, of An-Nadîm :307. The Dictionary Collector of Scientist Names (French) General Edition: Alan Ray, under aegis of: Paul Robert: 104).

(5) “Confessions And Sects”, Ash-Shahrastâni :2/156. “The Introduction”, Ibn Khaldûn,: 462.

(6) “The Set of Fatawa of Ibn Taimiyah”, 9/265. “Preservation of Logic”, As-Siyûti:12.

(7) “The Realization”, Al-Ghazâli,: 1/10. “The Set of the Fatwa of Ibn Taimiyah”: 9/184.

(8) “The Realization”, Al-Ghazâli,: 1/10.

(9) “The Set of Fatawa of Ibn Taimiyah”: 9/172.

(10) Previous Source: 9/185.

(11) Previous Source:9/240-241.

(12) This misplacement and the one of before are disowned by Al-Ghazâli on philosophers and their unbelieving with this thought (See: Downfall of Philosophers: 88-506).

(13) “The Set of Fatawa of Ibn Taimiyah”: 9/187.

(14) Previous Source: 9/23/24.

(15) “Preservation of Logic”, As-Siyûti :9.

(16) “The Set of Fatawa of Ibn Taimiyah”: 13-28.

(17) “The Introduction”, Ibn Khaldûn: 483-484. “The Modern Logic”, Mahmûd Qâsim: 11.

(18) “The Cultural Invasion”, Ali Laban: 42.

(19) “The Set of Fatawa of Ibn Taimiyah”: 9/23.

(20) “Indeed, the Sheikh of Islam Ibn Taimiyah (May Allah grants him His mercy) had perfectly shown it in his beneficial works: “Answer To Logicians”, “Refutation of Logic”, “Recommendation to Believers on Answers to Greek Logic”, “Refutation of Al-Jahmiyah Foundation” and “The harmony Between The Reason and The Text”.

(21) Scholars of the Sunnah and the Hadith did a considerable effort to show heresies and warned the community on their dangers and their fatal issues. On this matter, they composed works to invalidate pretensions of polemicists and philosophers and refuted their specious arguments, they convinced and showed the truly of the forgery. Among these works: those already quoted of the Sheik of Islam Ibn Taimiyah, those of Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziya” The Issuing Thunderbolts on Al-Jahmiya And Negativists”, “The unavailable In The Polemic And its people” Abi Sulaimân Al-Khattâbi, “Preference of Quranic Styles on Those of Greek” Ibn Al-Wazîr, books of Jalâl Addîn As-Suyûti as: “The prohibition to Worry on Logic”, “Preservation of Logic And Polemic” “The art of The Logic And The Polemic”, “The Laborious effort to Strip The Recommendation”, and eventually Abi Hâmid Al-Ghazâli: “Deficiencies of Philosophers”, “Restraining the Common People from the Scholastic Theology”.

(22) “The Set of Fatawa of Ibn Taimiyah”: 9/269/270.

(23) “The Union of the Islamic Armies to Conquer Al-Jahmiya and The Negativists» Ibn Al-Qayyim: 63.

(24) See Models of the Repentant of the Scholastic Theologians in: “Explanation of the Tahawi Creed” Ibn Abil Ìiz: 208-209.

(25) “The Savior of Misplacement”, Al-Ghazâli: 93.

(26) “Vivification of the Religious Sciences”, Al-Ghazâli: 1/97.

(27) “Restraining the Common People from the Scholastic Theology”, Al-Ghazâli: 66.

(28) Part of the Hadith “Um Zar Ì” reported by Al-Bukhâri: 9/254, in the “Book of Marriage”, “Chapter on the good relations with the family”. And Muslim: 15/212, in Book “Virtues of the Companions” (May Allah be satisfied with them), Chapter of the “Hadith Um Zar”.

An-Nawawi said in “The explanation Of the Muslim” (15/213): (this part of the “Hadith”) – means that there is little good in it on several aspects: the fact that it is as the meat of the camel not as the one of the ovine, it is additionally skinny, weak and of lower quality. Also, it is not easy to get; it is hardly reached there. In short, it is not gotten fat so that it is necessary to transport it to their houses to consume it, but they abandon it because of its lower quality”.