The first theological movement in Islam, best exemplified by the work of the Mu'tazila as noted earlier, ushered into the Islamic intellectual domain a strong rationalist tendency. The dominant view of this movement was heralded as the ''Primacy of Reason''. The rationalist direction was partially curtailed, however, by a second theological principle, known as ''Primacy of Revelation" (asalat al-wahy). This position was publicly proclaimed by Abu'l-Hasan al-Ash'ari (912), the movement's exemplum figure. Political trends and populist movements, directed by the increasingly influential Ash'arite theologians, reined in what they saw as the excesses of rationalism, and Hanbalite antirationalist zeal as well as theological decrees aimed against the Greek and ''pagan'' sciences presented a powerful challenge to the falsafa movement.
The creative genius of the two exemplar philosophers of this period, Farabi and Avicenna, met this challenge by their holistic and systematic philosophical constructions aimed, among other things, at harmonising reason with revelation. Their work also manifested innovations and refinements in philosophical technique and analysis, and thus permanently defined major trends in Islamic philosophy. Three general areas of inquiry together indicate the apogee of Islamic philosophy's creativity during this period: (1) logic and philosophy of language; (2) political philosophy, including questions of prophecy and conjunction with the Active Intellect;and (3) holistic systems and the study of being.
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