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An Introduction to Islamic Philosophy

For many, the word ‘Philosophy’ appears as something strikingly exotic. Something that embellishes or represents one’s deep wisdom, their inner thoughts, their poetic essence.

For many, the word ‘Philosophy’ appears as something strikingly exotic. Something that embellishes or represents one’s deep wisdom, their inner thoughts, their poetic essence.

We find philosophy used by the layman as a tool to express something profound. By the unwary application of logic and rhetoric, he puts together the words that represent his thoughts, or he quotes, and oftentimes misquotes, what others may have said. Perhaps there is truth in it. Perhaps not.

For others, Philosophy takes a more technical route. A more semantic path. They want to know the finer details, the terms and expressions, the classifications, the equations. They want to understand, whether for the sake of understanding, or for whatever else their motive. They represent the other end of the spectrum, and while their efforts are admirable, commendable oftentimes, they find that they are themselves questionable.

Because life itself is a balance. And philosophy, for the large part, is that stem from whence all branches of life are beheld. It is the explanation and elaboration of What, How, Why, When, and Where, as the fundamental pillars of seeking and knowing. Then perhaps we can deliberate where we, the seekers of truth aspire to be. On the layman’s side, unwary, unknowing? Or on the other extreme, overzealous and overdone? We, the seekers, will try to find that balance, where philosophy plays the role of bringing enlightenment to our lives in an age when both the truth and falsehood are deliberately entwined to confound the believer off the right path and into the abyss. This is the Age of Deception, and it would not benefit the denier to deny it. You see— and this is something my fellow philosophers will debate me, for certain— philosophy is not the ‘study of’ general and fundamental questions. This is the incoherence of philosophers in assuming that existence is a ‘problem’ that needs ‘solving’ rather than ‘understanding’. This kind of philosophy is largely affiliated with the school of thought that assumes Philosophy to be a ‘science’, instead of recognizing that science itself is from philosophy, and not the other way around. Even so, the ‘study of’ it, to some extent, is beneficial because without structure there is no flow, and without flow there is no understanding. But for the large part, philosophy, in its true form, is meant to unearth understanding and enlightenment, not to act as a ‘problem solving’ tool. We are created as logical beings, and one of the core principles of philosophy is that everything follows logic. Unfortunately, this is where the incoherence arises, as philosophers often pose questions such as; How can we ‘know’ that we ‘know’? Can we prove that we ‘know’? What is ‘real’? Is the truth justified? Is belief justified? If utopia is the ultimate goal, how best can life truly be? Do we really have free will? God Willing, we will explore these questions, and many more as we progress. Note the first-two words of the above statement. God Willing… That is where our journey in philosophy begins. You see, as mentioned, we are not embracing philosophy to solve the problems of existence. We are only embracing it to understand existence. In the end, it does not really matter how many resolutions we may have unearthed, for if the Will of God is otherwise, man can do nothing. So really, is there a need to seek a solution? As Time would be wasted in futile attempt, when the outreach would have been much sweeter if it were understood. And this is the core of Philosophy. Understanding. Through Knowledge and Wisdom. For the very definition of Philosophy is Philo (Love of) Sophia (Wisdom). “The Love of Wisdom”. Wisdom then, can be understood as thus; It is intangible. It is unquantifiable. It cannot be documented in its entirety. It can only be applied where it is most revered. It is only relative to that which adheres it. Wisdom, then, is not something that can be learned. It can only be acquired, through a means not yet comprehensible to the human mind. It exists, therefore it must be real, just as man thinks, therefore he is. And ‘thought’ is something that can only be understood philosophically. Thus, we the philosophers will study, not the semantics of it, but the eloquence and essence of philosophy, for two main purposes. To increaseth in Knowledge, and increaseth in Wisdom. That we may be the ones to be raised in ranks among those of understanding. That is Islamic Philosophy.


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