List of Muslim philosophers
Muslim philosophers both profess Islam and engage in a style of philosophy situated within the structure of Islamic culture, though not necessarily concerned with religious issues. The sayings of the companions of Muhammad contained little philosophical discussion. In the eighth century, extensive contact with philosophical cultures of the West led to a drive to translate philosophical works of these cultures (especially the texts of Aristotle) into Arabic.
The ninth-century Neo-Platonist Al-Kindi is considered the founder of Arab philosophy. The tenth century philosopher al-Farabi contributed significantly to the introduction of Greek and Roman philosophical works into Muslim philosophical discourse and established many of the themes that would occupy Islamic philosophy for the next centuries; in his broad-ranging work, his work on logic stands out particularly. In the eleventh century, Avicenna, one of the greatest creative philosophers ever, developed his school of philosophy with strong Aristotelian and Neoplatonist roots. In the twelfth century, the philosophy of illumination was systematized by Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi. Towards the end of the century philosophy underwent a decline in much of the Muslim world, in part due to al-Ghazali's argument that philosophy was incompatible with religion. In Andalusia, Averroes, defended philosophy against this charge; his extensive works include noteworthy commentaries on Aristotle. Although philosophy in its traditional Aristotelian form fell out of favor in much of the Arab world, forms of mystical philosophy following on from writers such as Ibn Arabi and Ibn Sabin, persisted.
After Averroes, a vivid philosophical activity persisted in the eastern Muslim world – especially Persia through works of Shiite philosophers such as Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Mir Damad, and Mulla Sadra. Tabatabai suggests that the "element that was instrumental in the appearance of philosophical and metaphysical thought in Shi’ism and through Shi’ism in other Islamic circles was the treasury of knowledge left behind by the Imams." Ali's Nahj al-Balagha is also considered as a primary source of the doctrines professed by Shiite thinkers such as Mir Damad, Mulla Sadra, their pupils and their pupils' pupils: Ahmad al-Alawi, Mohsen Fayz Kashani, Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji, Qazi Sa’id Qumi, etc.
|Al-Kindi||801–873||He was the first of the Muslim peripatetic philosophers, and was considered as the "father of Islamic or Arabic philosophy". He was famous for promotion of Greek and Hellenistic philosophy in the Muslim world. One of his main concerns was to show the compatibility of philosophy and speculative theology. However, he would prefer the revelation to reason, for he believed it guaranteed matters of faith that reason could not uncover.|
|Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi||854–925||There are contradictory views about his faith. Some, such as ibn Abi Osayba, knew him as believer, but some, like Abu Hatam and Biruni, knew him as unbeliever. A philosopher whose theory of the soul, explained in The Metaphysics, was derived from Islam in which he explain how the soul finds its way to salvation and freedom. In his Philosophical Biography, al-Razi defended his philosophical lifestyle, emphasizing that, rather than being self-indulgent, man should utilize his intellect, and apply justice in his life. His defense against his critics is also a book entitled Al Syrat al Falsafiah (The Philosophical Approach). He was also an early chemist.|
|Al-Farabi||872–951||Al-Farabi along with Ibn Sina and Averroes have been recognized as Peripatetics or rationalists among Muslims. He tried to gather the ideas of Plato and Aristotle in his book "The gathering of the ideas of the two philosophers". He was known as "the second master" of philosophy (Aristotle being the first), and his work was dedicated to both reviving and reinventing the Alexandrian philosophical thought, to which his teacher, Yuhanna bin Haylan belonged.|
|Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani||?-971||Shiite||Inspired by neoplatonism, "his cosmology and metaphysics develop a concept of God as the one beyond both being and non-being." Intellect which is the first being created by God, he believes, does not disintegrate, and the purpose of the religion is to "reorient the soul toward its true higher self and ultimately to return to its original state."|
|Abu al-Hassan al-Amiri||?-992||While opposing the kind of philosophy which is regarded as independent of revelation, he sought to find areas of agreement between different Islamic sects. Chapter 1 and 7 of his book al-I'lam bi manaqib al-Islam (An Exposition on the Merits of Islam) has been translated into English under the titles The Quiddity of Knowledge and the Appurtenances of its Species and The Excellences of Islam in Relation to Royal Authority. His other book Kitab al-amad 'ala'l-abad (On the Afterlife) also has an English translation.|
|Ebn Meskavayh||932–1030||A Neoplatonist who wrote the first major Islamic work on philosophical ethics, entitled Tahdhib al-akhlaq (Refinement of Morals), he distinguished between personal ethics and the public realm, and contrasted the redemptive nature of reason with the luring trait of nature.|
|Al-Maʿarri||973–1058||A pessimistic freethinker, he attacked dogmas of religone. His Unnecessary Necessity (Luzūm mā lam yalzam) shows how he saw the business of living. His other work The Epistle of Forgiveness (Risālat al-ghufrān) depicts his visiting with the Arab poets of the pagan period, in paradise and because of the aspect of conversing with the deceased in paradise, the Resalat Al-Ghufran has been compared to the Divine Comedy of Dante which came hundreds of years after.|
|Avicenna||980–1037||Regarded as one of the most significant thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age, his distinction between existence and essence his theory of the nature of the soul in particular, influenced the medieval Europe. His psychology and theory of knowledge influenced William of Auvergne, Bishop of Paris and Albertus Magnus, while his metaphysics was influential on the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas.|
|Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani||996–1021||His major work the Rahat al-aql (Peace of Mind) explains how to attain the eternal life of the mind and reason, in a changing world. Al-Aqwal al-dhahabiya, (refuting al-Razi's argument against the necessity of revelation) and Kitab al-riyad (about the early Isma'ili cosmology) are among his other works.|
|Nasir Khusraw||1004–1088||Shiite||His Knowledge and Liberation consist of a series of 30 questions and answers about main issues of his time, from the creation of the world to the human free will and culpability after death. Rawshana-i-nama (Book of Enlightenment), and the Sa'datnama (Book of Felicity) are also among his works.|
|Avempace||1095–1138||Sunni||His main philosophical idea is that the human soul could become one with the Divine through a hierarchy starting with sensing of the forms (containing less and less matter) to the impression of Active Intellect. His most important philosophical work is Tadbīr al-mutawaḥḥid (The Regime of the Solitary).|
|Afdal al-Din Kashani||?- 1213||Sunni||He was involved in explaining the salvific power of self-awareness. That is: "To know oneself is to know the everlasting reality that is consciousness, and to know it is to be it." His ontology is interconnected with his epistemology, as he believes a full actualization of the potentialities of the world is only possible through self-knowledge.|
|Al-Ghazali||1058–1111||Sunni||His main work The Incoherence of the Philosophers made a turn in Islamic epistemology. His encounter with skepticism made him believe that all causative events are not product of material conjunctions but are due to the Will of God. Later on, in the next century, Averroes's rebuttal of al-Ghazali's Incoherence became known as The Incoherence of the Incoherence.|
|Averroes||1126–1198||Sunni||Being described as "founding father of secular thought in Western Europe", He was known by the nicknamethe Commentator for his precious commentaries on Aristotle's works. His main work was The Incoherence of the Incoherence in which he defended philosophy against al-Ghazali's claims in The Incoherence of the Philosophers. His other works were the Fasl al-Maqal and the Kitab al-Kashf.|
|Ibn Tufail||1105–1185||Sunni||His work Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, is known as The Improvement of Human Reason in English and is a philosophical and allegorical novel which tells the story of a feral child named Hayy who is raised by a gazelle and is living alone without contact with other human beings. This work is continuing Avicenna's version of the story and is considered as a response to al-Ghazali's The Incoherence of the Philosophers, which had criticized Avicenna's philosophy.|
|Najmuddin Kubra||1145–1220||Sufi||As the founder of the Kubrawiyya Sufi order, he is regarded as a pioneer of the Sufism. His books are discussing dreams and visionary experience, among which is a Sufi commentary on the Quran.|
|Fakhr al-Din al-Razi||1149–1209||Sunni||His major work Tafsir-e Kabir included many philosophical thoughts, among which was the self-sufficiency of the intellect. He believed that proofs based on tradition hadith could never lead to certainty but only to presumption. Al-Razi's rationalism "holds an important place in the debate in the Islamic tradition on the harmonization of reason and revelation."|
|Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi||1155–1191||As the founder of Illuminationism, an important school in Islamic mysticism, The "light" in his "Philosophy of Illumination" is a divine source of knowledge which has significantly affected Islamic philosophy and esoteric knowledge.|
|Ibn Arabi||1165–1240||Sufi||He was an Arab Andalusian Sufi mystic whose work Fusus al-Hikam (The Ringstones of Wisdom) can be described as a summary of his mystical beliefs concerning the role of different prophets in divine revelation.|
|Nasir al-Din al-Tusi||1201–1274||Shiite/Sufi||As a supporter of Avicennian logic he was described by Ibn Khaldun as the greatest of the later Persian scholars. Corresponding with Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi, the son-in-law of Ibn al-'Arabi, he thought mysticism, as disseminated by Sufi principles of his time, was not appealing to his mind so he wrote his own book of philosophical Sufism entitled Awsaf al-Ashraf (The Attributes of the Illustrious).|
|Rumi||1207–1273||Sufi||Described as the "most popular poet in America", he was an evolutionary thinker, in that he believed that all matter after devolution from the divine Ego experience an evolutionary cycle by which it return to the same divine Ego, which is due to an innate motive which he calls love. Rumi's major work is the Maṭnawīye Ma'nawī (Spiritual Couplets) regarded by some Sufis as the Persian-language Qur'an. His other work, Fihi Ma Fihi (In It What's in It), includes seventy-one talks given on various occasions to his disciples.|
|Ibn al-Nafis||1213–1288||His Al-Risalah al-Kamiliyyah fil Siera al-Nabawiyyah orTheologus Autodidactus is said to be the first theological novel in which he attempted to prove that the human mind is able to deduce the truths of the world through reasoning. He described this book as a defense of "the system of Islam and the Muslims' doctrines on the missions of prophets, the religious laws, the resurrection of the body, and the transitoriness of the world".|
|Qotb al-Din Shirazi||1217–1311||Sufi||He was a Sufi from Shiraz who was famous for his commentary on Hikmat al-ishraq of Suhrawardi. His major work is the Durrat al-taj li-ghurratt al-Dubaj (Pearly Crown) which is an Encyclopedic work on philosophy including philosophical views on natural sciences, theology, logic, public affairs, ethnics, mystiicsm, astronomy, mathematics, arithmetic and music.|
|Ibn Sabin||1236–1269||Sunni/Sufi||He was a Sufi philosopher, the last philosopher of the Andalus, and was known for his replies to questions from Frederick II, the ruler of Sicily. His school is a mixture of philosophical and Gnostic thoughts.|
|Sayyid Haydar Amuli||1319–1385||Shiite/Sufi||As the main commentator of the Ibn Arabi's mystic philosophy and the representative of Persian Imamah theosophy, he believes that the Imams who were gifted with mystical knowledge were not just guides to the Shiite Sufis. He was both a critic of Shiites whose religion was confined to legalistic system and Sufis who denied certain regulations issued from the Imams.|
|Taftazani||1322–1390||Sunni||Al-Taftazani's treatises, even the commentaries, are "standard books" for students of Islamic theology. His papers have been called a "compendium of the various views regarding the great doctrines of Islam".|
|Ibn Khaldun||1332–1406||Sunni||He is known for his The Muqaddimah which Arnold J. Toynbee called it "a philosophy of history which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind." Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition of government, "an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself", the best in the history of political theory. His theory of social conflict contrasts the sedentary life of city dwellers with the migratory life of nomadic people, which would result in conquering the cities by the desert warriors.|
|Abdul Karim Jili||1366–1424||Sunni/Sufi||Jili was the primary systematizer and commentator of Ibn Arabi's works. His Universal Man explains Ibn Arabi’s teachings on reality and human perfection, which is among the masterpieces of Sufi literature. Jili thought of the Absolute Being as a Self, which later on influenced Allama Iqbal.|
|Jami||1414–1492||Sunni/Sufi||His Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones) includes seven stories, among which Salaman and Absal tells the story of a sensual attraction of a prince for his wet-nurse, through which Jami uses figurative symbols to depict the key stages of the Sufi path such as repentance. The mystical and philosophical explanations of the nature of divine mercy, is also among his works.|
|Bahāʾ al-dīn al-ʿĀmilī||1547–1621||Sufi||Regarded as a leading scholar and mujaddid of the seventeenth century, he worked on tafsir, hadith, grammar and fiqh (jurisprudence). In his work Resāla fi’l-waḥda al-wojūdīya (Exposition of the concept of "Unity of Existences"), he states that the Sufis are the true believers, "calls for an unbiased assessment of their utterances, and refers to his own mystical experiences."|
|Mir Damad||?-1631||Shiite||Professing in the Neoplatonizing Islamic Peripatetic traditions of Avicenna and Suhrawardi, he was the main figure (together with his student Mulla Sadra), of the cultural revival of Iran. He was also the central founder of the School of Isfahan, and is regarded as the Third Teacher (mu'alim al-thalith) after Aristotle and al-Farabi. Taqwim al-Iman (Calendars of Faith), Kitab Qabasat al-Ilahiyah (Book of the Divine Embers of Fiery Kindling), Kitab al-Jadhawat (Book of Spiritual Attractions) and Sirat al-Mustaqim (The Straight Path) are among his 134 works.|
|Mir Fendereski||1562–1640||Shiite||He was trained in the works of Avicenna, and Mulla Sadra studied under him. His main workal-Resāla al-ṣenāʿiya, is an examination of the arts and professions in perfect society, and combines a number of genres and subject areas such as political and ethical thought and metaphysics.|
|Mulla Sadra||1571–1641||Shiite||According to Oliver Leaman, Mulla Sadra is the most important influential philosopher in the Muslim world in the last four hundred years. He is regarded as the master of Ishraqi school of Philosophy who combined the many areas of the Islamic Golden Age philosophies into what he called the Transcendent Theosophy. He brought "a new philosophical insight in dealing with the nature of reality" and created "a major transition from essentialism to existentialism" in Islamic philosophy. He also created for the first time a "distinctly Muslim school of Hikmah based especially upon the inspired doctrines which form the very basis of Shiism," especially what contained in the Nahj al-Balagha.|
|Qazi Sa’id Qumi||1633–1692||Shiite||He was the pupil of Rajab Ali Tabrizi, Muhsen Feyz and Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji, and wrote comments on the Theology attributed to Aristotle, a work which Muslim philosophers have always continued to read. His commentaries on al-Tawhid by al-Shaykh al-Saduq is also famous.|
|Shah Waliullah||1703–1762||Sunni||He attempted to reexamine Islamic theology in the view of modern changes. His main work The Conclusive Argument of God is about Muslim theology and is still frequently referred to by new Islamic circles. Al-Budur al-bazighah (The Full Moons Rising in Splendor) is another work of him in which he explains the basis of faith in view of rational and traditional arguments.|
|Muhammad Iqbal||1877–1938||Sufi||Other than being an eminent poet, he is recognized as the "Muslim philosophical thinker of modern times". He wrote two books on the topic of The Development of Metaphysics in Persia and The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam In which he revealed his thoughts regarding Islamic Sufism explaining that it trigger the searching soul to a superior understanding of life. God, the meaning of prayer, human spirit and Muslim culture are among the other issues discussed in his works.|
|Seyed Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei||1892–1981||Shiite||He is famous for Tafsir al-Mizan, the Quranic exegesis. His philosophy is centered on the sociological treatment of human problems. In his later years he would often hold study mettings with Henry Corbin and Seyyed Hossein Nasr, in which the classical texts of divine knowledge and gnosis along with what Nasr calls comparative gnosis were discussed. Shi'a Islam, The Principles of Philosophy and the Method of Realism (Persian: Usul-i-falsafeh va ravesh-i-ri'alism) and Dialogues with Professor Corbin (Persian: Mushabat ba Ustad Kurban) are among his works.|
|Abul A'la Maududi||1903–1979||Sunni||His major work is The Meaning of the Qur'an in which he explains that The Quran is not a book of abstract ideas, but a Book which contains a message which causes a movement. Islam, he believes, is not a 'religion' in the sense this word is usually comprehended, but a system encompassing all areas of living. In his book Islamic Way of Lifehe largely expanded on this view.|
|Henry Corbin||1903–1978||He was a philosopher, theologian and professor of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne in Paris where he encountered Louis Massignon, and it was he who introduced Corbin to the writings of Suhrawardi whose work affected the course of Corbin's life. In his History of Islamic Philosophy, he refuted the view that philosophy among the Muslims came to an end after Averroes, showed rather that a vivid philosophical activity persisted in the eastern Muslim world – especially Iran.|
|Rasheed Turabi||1908–1973||Shiite||He was an Islamic scholar of fiqh, tafseer and kalam who was a student of Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi, Ayatullah Hakeem Tabatabai, Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei and Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari and obtained Ijazah from these scholars to serve as a commentator of the Islamic intellectual tradition.|
|Abdel Rahman Badawi||1917–2002||Sunni||He adopted existentialism since he wrote his Existentialist Time in 1943. His version of existentialism, according to his own description, differs from Heidegger's and other existentialists in that it gives preference to action rather than thought. in his later work,Humanism And Existentialism In Arab Thought, however, he tried to root his ideas in his own culture.|
|Morteza Motahhari||1919–1979||Shiite||Considered among the important influences on the ideologies of the Islamic Republic, he started from the Hawza of Qom. Then he taught philosophy in the University of Tehran for 22 years. Between 1965 and 1973, however, he gave regular lectures at the Hosseiniye Ershad in Northern Tehran, most of which have been turned into books on Islam, Iran, and historical topics.|
|Mohammad-Taqi Ja'fari||1923–1998||Shiite||He wrote many books on variety of fields, the most prominent of which are his 15-volume Interpretation and Criticism of Rumi's Masnavi, and his unfinished, 27-volume Translation and Interpretation of the Nahj al-Balagha. These works shows his ideas in fields like anthropology, sociology, moral ethics, philosophy and mysticism.|
|Mawlana Faizani||1923– ? (possibly living)||Sunni||He discusses 20th century faith arguing that one must use science and the creation as experienced through the five senses, in order to be able to establish belief and certainty in God. Man and the Secrets of Nearness is among his works.|
|Mohammed Arkoun||1928–2010||Sunni||He wrote on Islam and modernity trying to rethink the role of Islam in the contemporary world. In his book Rethinking Islam: Common Questions, Uncommon Answers he offers his responses to several questions for those who are concerned about the identity crisis which left many Muslims estranged from both modernity and tradition. The Unthought In Contemporary Islamic Thought is also among his works.|
|Israr Ahmed||1932–2010||Sunni||He is the author of Islamic Renaissance: The Real Task Ahead in which he explains the theoretical idea of the Caliphate system, arguing that it would only be possible by reviving Iman and faith among the Muslims in general and intelligentsia in particular. This would, he argues, fill the existing gap between new sciences, and Islamic divine knowledge.|
|Abdollah Javadi-Amoli||1933–||Shiite||His works are dedicated to Islamic philosophy and especially Mulla Sadra's transcendent philosophy. Tafsir Tasnim is his exegesis of the Quran in which he follows Tabatabaei's Tafsir al-Mizan, in that he tries to interpret a verse based on other verses. His other work As-Saareh-e-Khelqat is a discussion about the philosophy of faith and evidence of the existence of God.|
|Hossein Nasr||1933–||Shiite/Sufi||He Is a prominent scholar of comparative religion, a lifelong student of Frithjof Schuon, whose works devoted to Islamic esoterism and Sufism. Author of over fifty books and five hundred articles (number of which can be find in the journal Studies in Comparative Religion), He is highly respected both in the West and the Islamic world. The Islamic Philosophy from its Origin to the Present is among his works in which he states that the sayings of Shiite Imams played a major role in the development of later Islamic philosophy specially the works of Mulla Sadra.|
|Sadiq Jalal al-Azm||1934–||He has been working on Immanuel Kant, though now puts a greater emphasis on the Islamic world and its relationship to the West. He is also a supporter of human rights, intellectual freedom and free speech.|
|Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi||1934–||Shiite||He is an Islamic Faqih who has also studied works of Avicenna and Mulla Sadra. He supports Islamic philosophy and in particular Mulla Sadra's transcendent philosophy. His book Philosophical Instructions: An Introduction to Contemporary Islamic Philosophy is translated into English.|
|Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr||1935–1980||Shiite||He was an Iraqi Shia philosopher and founder of the Islamic Dawa Party. His Falsafatuna (Our Philosophy) is a collection of basic ideas concerning the world, and his way of considering it. These concepts are divided into two researches: The theory of knowledge, and the philosophical notion of the world.|
|Mohammed Abed al-Jabri||1935–2010||Sunni||His work Democracy, Human Rights and Law in Islamic Thought while shows the distinctive nationality of the Arabs, reject the philosophical discussion which have tried to ignore its democratic deficits. Working in the tradition of Avincenna and Averroes, he emphasizes that concepts such as democracy and law cannot rely on old traditions, nor could be import, but should be created by today's Arabs themselves. The Formation of Arab Reason: Text, Tradition and the Construction of Modernity in the Arab World is also among his works.|
|Abdolkarim Soroush||1945–||Shiite||Being interested in the philosophy of religion and the philosophical system of Rumi, his book the evolution and devolution of religious knowledge argues that "a religion (such as Islam) may be divine and unchanging, but our understanding of religion remains in a continuous flux and a totally human endeavor."|
|Geydar Dzhemal||1947–||He Is a Russian Islamic revolutionist and philosopher whose political analysis can be characterized as Islamic Marxism. In Dzhemal's work, Marxism and Islam are both described by eschatology in that Islamic umma acts the messianic role of Marx's proletariat in leading to the last stage of history.|
|Gary Legenhausen||1953–||Islam and Religious Pluralism is among his works in which he advocates "non-reductive religious pluralism". In his paper "The Relationship between Philosophy and Theology in the Postmodern Age" he is trying to examine whether philosophy can agree with theology.|
|Mostafa Malekian||1956–||Shiite||He is working on Rationality and Spirituality in which he is trying to make Islam and reasoning compatible. His major work A Way to Freedom is about spirituality and wisdom.|
|Hamid Vahid Dastjerdi||Shiite||In his paper "Islamic Humanism: From Science to Extinction", he is critical of Abdulkarim Sorush's Thesis of the evolution and devolution of religious knowledge.Epistemic Justification and the Skeptical Challenge and The Epistemology of Belief are also among his works.|
|Tariq Ramadan||1962–||Sunni||Working mainly on Islamic theology and the place of Muslims in the West, he believes that western Muslims must think up a "Western Islam" in accordance to their own social circumstances.|
|Adnan Ibrahim||1966-||Sunni||After the London bombings in 2005, he issued a fatwa saying Muslims who hear of plans for a terrorist attack must report them to the police immediately." He is also known for having preached and lectured against female genital mutilation.|
- Lists of philosophers
- Islamic philosophy
- Early Islamic philosophy
- Contemporary Islamic philosophy
- Islamic scholars
- List of Iranian philosophers
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