A Comparison of Averroes and Muhammad Iqbal Essay


Compare and contrast a classical and a Muslim thinker from any one of the three paradigms i. Al-Ashari and Mau’doodiii) Ibn Rushd and Iqbaliii) Ibn Arabi and HajveriThe Rationalist school of thought in Muslim Philosophy is virtually unknown; most rationalists having been shunned by the Traditionalists. That being said, there are still a few that are widely recognized like Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Mohammed Iqbal. My focus will be to demonstrate the similarities and differences between both philosophers’ views using primarily The Decisive Treatise by Ibn Rushd and “The Spirit of Muslim Culture” from Iqbal’s The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.One of the greatest differences one observes between Rushd and Iqbal is that Ibn Rushd advocates and favors the use of Greek methodologies of dialectical and rhetorical reasoning. He argues that the Quran orders the study of human beings via intellect and reflection, and since reflection is nothing more than reasoning, the study of humans should be carried out primarily by reason. He further gives arguments in favor of using the logico-deducto method by saying that intellectual reasoning would only be deemed sacrilegious if legal reasoning were deemed heretical as well.Also that one should not shun the Greek methodology on the basis of the Greeks’ religion if the validity of the conclusion remains the same.

On the other hand, Iqbal emphasized the use of what he terms as “inductive intellect”, hence favoring the scientific method. He argues that the sprit of the Quran is concrete in nature; hence to study it in the light of Greek philosophy only is a grave error as the speculative nature of such philosophy would conflict with it. He says that one should use sense-perception in order to study nature and history as only using inner experience is inadequate.Another main difference we find in the thinking of Ibn Rushd and Iqbal was that Rushd implied the setting up of a sort of clergy; an ecclesiastic order so to speak, since he advocated that only a few learned scholars should be able to learn and interpret the Quran for the masses and that the common population should not be allowed to do so.

However, Iqbal believed in the abolishment of any sort of clergy. Instead of relying on scholars, cleric etc, man should use his own intellect and experience to come to valid conclusions.Differences aside, one does find parallels among the works of Ibn Rushd and Iqbal. For instance, while arguing for the use of dialectics and argumentation as sources of knowledge, Ibn Rushd also mentions “demonstrative reasoning” which involves putting ideas ‘to the test’ in order to reconcile tradition and intellect; hence in a way, he too advocates the use of the scientific method along with traditional Greek ones, much like Iqbal did. , as he too mentions the Quran names both Anfus (self) and Afaq (world) as sources of knowledge.Therefore both recognize the use of intellectual reasoning as well as scientific observation as sources of knowledge. Therefore we can conclude that while the views of both philosophers may be diverse, they are united by a way of rational thinking and also by their studies in the various fields of philosophy.

While they may not agree on certain matters, it is also true that they are supported by the same primary texts, the Quran, which they have used to strengthen their arguments. And they have been true revolutionaries in the world of Muslim philosophy.


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