Ghazal

As it presents itself in Averroes' Early Writings, especially in his Commentary on al-Ghazàlï's ai-Mustas/5

Frank Griffel

Averroes' attitude towards al-Ghazali has always been a central issue for scholars studying the Arabic tradition of this philosopher. Up until quite recently the common opinion on this subject held that Averroes was to a considerable degree hostile towards al-Ghazali and his works. The origins of this view lie in Averroes' Tahâfut al-tahâfut which was directed against al-Ghazali's Tahâfut al-falâsifa. Marcus Joseph Muller's discovery of further works containing a number of critical comments directed against al-

Ghazâlï in 1859, i.e. the al-maqâl and al-Kashfmarnhij supported this view. This opinion was further strengthened by an interpretation of the incompatibility of philosophy and religious law (^"^iin Islam which saw in al-Ghazâll a vigorous champion of the latter and a destroyer of philosophy. As early as 1844 Salomon Munk wrote that al-Ghazali 'struck a blow against philosophy after which it never recovered in the Orient.'1 In his prominent book on Averroes and his European followers Ernest Renan continued this approach in 1852 and called al-Ghazali 'an enemy of philosophy' (Renan 1852, 133, 135f). Renan drew the dark picture of a 'war' against philosophy which was waged in all countries of the Islamic world in the 12th century. He considered Averroes and the Andalusian philosophers of his century in the crosshair of a persecution by the Almohads, which he believed was a theological movement, inspired directly by al-Ghazali's attacks on philosophy (Ibid., 22, 24).

Although this view of the relationship between al-Ghazali and Averroes was perpetuated for a considerably long period—far into the 20th century—we now know that nearly all the details contributing to this view are not true. Averroes was not persecuted by the Almohads, he was in fact a high ranking figure in this political and religious movement and had great influence on the formation of Almohad politics and ideology. What Renan interpreted as the persecution of Averroes in the year 592/1195 was a mere falling into disgrace, which was in fact to some extent due to anti-philosophical tensions within the circles of religious scholars in al-Andalus. Al-Ghazali did inspire the movement of the Almohads, but his attitude towards philosophy was far from being hostile. Al-Ghazali should more accurately be called a champion of the philosophical method. Although he rejected a number of philosophical propositions he never rejected philosophy as a whole. His own teachings are deeply influenced by the ontology of Avicenna (Frank 1992, 52-62), and al-Ghazali unreservedly employed philosophical concepts where it was appropriate.2 Ibn Tumart, the founder of the Almohad movement was inspired by this attitude towards philosophy, which he probably got to know in the seminar of «^"Kiya al-Harrasi (Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi i-tn'rikh400), a successor of al-Ghazali at the Nizamiya-school in Bagdad and a colleague of al-Ghazali from his student days in Nishapur. The writings of Ibn Tumart reveal a considerable influence from the side of philosophical literature especially from Avicenna (Ibn Tumart, Le Livre de Mohammed Ibn Toumert 229-242), and the Almohad movement at least until the year 592/1195 should not be regarded as anti-philosophical but as the exact opposite.

This reappraisal of the fundamental facts underlying the relationship between Averroes and al-Ghazali has not yet been entirely acknowledged with all its consequences. A new chapter in the study of this relationship was opened by the late Jamal al-din al-lAiawTwho,in the mid-eighties, wrote two articles on the formation of Averroes' philosophical approach in which he emphasised the predominant role al-Ghazali played very early on in Averroes' attitude towards the study of philosophy (al-'AlawT 1987 and al-'AlawT 1986). Al-'MawI distinguished two main stages in Averroes' relationship to al-Ghazali. In the early stage Averroes starts to write on philosophy and here he considers himself more or less a follower in al-Ghazali's footprints, since both sought to establish accurate scientific methods in the religious sciences. The second stage was according to at-'AlawTthe 'Ghazalian period' (al-fatra al-ghazaliyya) in Averroes' writings, and here he tried to correct al-Ghazali's views on the permissibility of the harmonisation of reason and revelation by allegorical interpretation. This Ghazalian period is marked by the three works hdfut^ Fail aj_

maqal and al-Kashf<an all written around 575/1179. It is striking that in both periods Averroes agreed with al-Ghazali in all of the major and minor issues of religious law and philosophy save one. The point where Averroes disagrees with al-Ghazali and where he tries to correct his theory of ta'wiiwas the ability of philosophy to be an apodictical science which comes to demonstrative conclusion. This dispute between the two sages is held in the Tahafut al-tahafut which is the cornerstone in this Ghazalian period and whose outcome determines the other two books. In the following paper I will restrict myself to the first of the two periods, distinguished by '"^t1w'»and I will try to examine, what Averroes' attitude towards al-Ghazali in the years between 552/1157 and 565/1169 was, soon after Averroes started to write on philosophy and religious law.

The main source for this study is the paraphrase or epitome by Averroes of al-Ghazali's main work on the principles of Islamic jurisprudence, ai-Musta$fa tiiirt 'ilm at-usui,which al_Qhazaii wrote at the end of his life around

504/1110. Averroes' paraphrase has the title ^'Dariiri fi usulanlIf g

Ual-Mustasfa aj_fiq^ "p^g Necessary Knowledge in the Field of the Fundaments of Jurisprudence' and its declared aim is to sum up what al-Ghazali wrote in his quite voluminous work. The text by Averroes was not discovered until 1986 in the library of the Escurial by a Moroccan scholar. It was brought to the attention of Jamal al-din a I- AliiwT^hQgg edition of the text was published posthumously in 1994.

Averroes wrote his epitome to al-Ghazali's oi-Musta^fdat ^g very beginning of his career. He informs us via one of his pupils that he was introduced to the court of Abu

Ya'qObyusuf by Ibn I1^?1 (al-Marrakushi, al-Mu'jib ft talkhlf akhbdr a]_Maghrib

314f). This event may have occurred around 550/1155, when Abu ^l^was still governor of Sevilla and Averroes was 30 years old. Via the same source we are informed that soon after his introduction at the court, Abu Ya<£J"basked Averroes to write commentaries or short explanations to the works of Aristotle. Abu

Ya'qObhimself had difficulty in reading these texts. But since he wanted to spread their wisdom amongst the scholars of al-Andalus, he asked Averroes 'to make the procedure in these texts accessible for the people' (Ibid.. 315.121). This gave rise to the books we know as

Averroes' short and middle commentaries (¡¿tv&ii arui talkhisctt)on Aristotle's works.

If one takes a closer look at these books it is not only Aristotle on whom Averroes is commentating. The very first book in the cycle, and probably the very first book Averroes wrote anyhow, is the synopsis or short commentary on the Organon which has cautiously been dated to 552/1157, two years after Averroes first met Abu Ya<(PbYusuf (al-'AlawT 1986, 49-59). This summary of the logical tools in philosophy is actually not a commentary on any of Aristotle's works but it has the logical works of al-Farabi as its basis.3 At the beginning of his career, Averroes did not focus on Aristotle as the only author of pure philosophy. His interest lay rather in the method of philosophy as an apodictical science. The aim of the young Averroes and his mentor Abu Ya<(PbYusuf was to spread the demonstrative method amongst the scholars of al-Andalus. Averroes' short commentaries were part of a whole program aimed at rationalising the sciences in al-Andalus (Urvoy 1991, 41—48). We know from the book 'The Introduction Into the Art of Logic' by Ibn pupil of Averroes, that al-Farabi's works on logic were regarded as the most accurate introduction into logic combined with an easy access into the matter (Ibn T«™l^Madkhalila ¿il-mantiq 14fj_ In his very early writings

Averroes did not yet attempt to spread Aristotelism but he aimed at a general improvement of the sciences by the spread of the demonstrative method of philosophy.

This project embraced the religious sciences as well, and in this task al-Ghazali was Averroes' predecessor. Al-Ghazali too, had endeavoured to establish the use of a more accurate and logical method in the religious sciences. The logic al-Ghazali chose was the one developed by Avicenna mainly in his writings on logic in oi'Shifd an(j jn ^g Danishnamah-i Al-Ghazali developed several techniques to conceal the origin of his logical method. He thought this was necessary since the religious scholars of his period were quite reluctant to accept anything which bore the label of being philosophical. Therefore al-Ghazali changed the terminology of the Avicennean logic, and employed words instead which had been used in the religious sciences for centuries, but which he gave a new and very philosophical meaning. Scholars familiar with the works of the philosophers saw through this veil and Ibn TuniiÜSwrjtes jn his introduction to the art of logic that although al-Ghazali's books on logic are quite well written and clear, they lack some accuracy, because of the often ambiguous terminology he uses (Ibidem, 13). The restraint and adaptability employed by al-Ghazali to achieve his aim of rationalising the religious sciences was regarded as a weakness amongst the philosophers of al-Andalus.

The fact that al-Ghazali somehow fell short in his attempt to spread a more rational approach in the sciences was noted be the young Averroes as well. In the first paraphrase Averroes wrote on one of Aristotle's works, the epitome on Physics, Averroes makes clear to what extent his scientific program coincides with that of al-Ghazali. In the introduction to this work Averroes explains his own method of paraphrasing all apodictical passages in the work of Aristotle while leaving out all passages which cover non-apodictical or dialectical arguments. This technique should serve to safeguard the acceptance of Aristotle's teaching, since most people do not understand what the inner core ^'"^í'í^^of Aristotle's wisdom is and reject him out of prejudice. After this methodological explanation Averroes pre-empts the possible accusation that such a book had already been written in al-Ghazali's al-falásifa and that Averroes' book would therefore be superfluous. Averroes acknowledges that al-Ghazali wrote a book similar to the one he was writing. He explains that al-Ghazali had aimed at convincing his contemporaries that they could only benefit once they adopted the teachings of Aristotle. But this aim—according to Averroes—was never achieved by al-Ghazali (Averreos, ot-jawam? ,j i h¡s,lhl¡)

In the same year 552/1157, in which Averroes presumably wrote his summary of the logical works of al-Farabi, he also completed the paraphrase of al-Ghazali's main work on the principles of jurisprudence (Averroes, IA6). The works of al-Ghazali did not need an explanatory introduction as Aristotle's did. Al-Ghazali was regarded as the most important author of religious texts at that time, and at least his less voluminous works were well known. The spread of his teachings in al-Andalus is most prominently connected with Abü Bakr ibn al-'Artfbl (d. 543/1148) who met al-Ghazali in Damascus in 488/1095 and who later became one of his pupils in Bagdad. After he returned to al-Andalus, Ibn al-'Arabi had to fight against a rigorous opposition amongst the Maliki scholars. The conservative Maliki school in the West had been somehow out of touch with theological developments in the East and its members condemned al-Ghazali's writings for their opposition to a key issue in Maliki jurisprudence, namely the repetition of previous legal reasoning (taqlid) and for al-Ghazali's Sufi tendencies, a phenomenon then unfamiliar to the West. Although Abü Bakr ibn a I-'A rabí was a Maliki scholar himself, he understood the novelty of al-Ghazali's thinking and his methods in the science of theology ("W ^"^"íand became fascinated by it. He wrote a number of books in which he re-phrased al-Ghazali's teaching in order to make it more accessible to his colleagues in the Maliki school. One of his books, the Mk^Í'W al-qawdsim may be regarded as a simplified version of al-Ghazali's Tahafut al-falasifa. Abü Bakr ibn a I - rA ra b-i lively interest in philosophy was noted in the remarkable monography on him written by 'AminSr TSlibi^alibi 1974: i:89_275).

After the Almohads came to power in al-Andalus in 540/1145 they favoured al-Ghazali's new approach and supported the younger generation of religious scholars who were students of Abu Bakr ibn aKArabl-By now, Abu Bakr was 70 years old and for reasons we can only speculate upon fell into disgrace. Abu Bakr ibn al-!Arabiwas such an important figure at that time that he cannot be disregarded in the formation of the young Averroes. All the numerous biographies on the life of Averroes mention only one single teacher of philosophy, Abu ^ribn Harun al-Turjali (Ibn Abhar>Kitab al-Takmila li-kitab al-fila 1:269) This Ibn Hamn ai_Turjali was a pupil of Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arablin Sevilla (Ibn Abi ^Wbi'a, Uyun dt-anbd'2:75f) This however; is not the only connection to Abu Bakr: In one of his writings Averroes mentions a colleague of his who reportedly had a similar interest in philosophy and who was a student of Abu

Bakr ibn al-'Arabl (Averroes, Tiaikhlf al-athar ¿^WfyBUGf). Averroes may have made the personal acquaintance of the aged Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arablbefore the latter left Sevilla in 542/1147 when Averroes was 21 years old. All of this shows that the young Averroes belonged to the new generation of religious scholars who had a vivid interest in the philosophical methods and the teachings of the philosophers. This new brand of religious scholars all emerged from the critical examination of philosophy by the

A&h'aritekalam, which began with al-Juwayni at the Nizamiya-school in Nishapur and followed al-Ghazali to Bagdad. Several other names of this new brand of religious scholars emerging from the same tradition as Averroes include al-Shahrastani (d. 548/1153), Ibn Ghaylan al-Balkhi (d. after .580/1184), Fakhraddin al-Razi (d. 606/1209)

and in fact Ibn Tumart (d. 524/1130). Averroes was—via Abu Ja'iaf al-Turjali and Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arabi—a pupil of al-Ghazali in the third generation.

Since Ibn Tumart and the Almohad movement sprang from the same tradition, it is not at all astonishing that Averroes associated himself with the Almohads once they came to power in al-Andalus. His successful career as a judge in Cordoba and Sevilla, and after 578/1182 as the principal judge of al-Andalus with his seat in Cordoba, was not only a result of the tradition of his family holding these offices, but was also due to the fact that he was an indirect pupil of Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arabland al-Ghazali and hence had a thorough knowledge of both philosophy and religious law. Averroes came from an archetypal Almohad background. He could be regarded as the personification of what the Almohads had aimed for: the tradition of Maliki scholarship, which Averroes had inherited from his family, fused with an expertise in the latest developments of Muslim theology.

When Averroes wrote his paraphrase of al-Ghazali's career as a judge and political adviser still lay ahead of him. In 552/1157 Averroes was a young and promising scholar of 31 years of age who was well aware of the shortcomings within traditional Maliki scholarship. He chose al-Ghazali's work as a foundation for his introduction into the principles of jurisprudence because al-Ghazali's situation at the beginning of the 6th/12th century resembled his own. When al-Ghazali wrote his book the Sunni caliphate and the Seljuq sultanate in the East were threatened by the propaganda of the ^hi 'res which shortly later developed into a number of very successful local uprisings. The intellectual tool of Isma'TlT propaganda was a radical scepticism that cast doubts on the results in all of the sciences (van Ess 1968). According to the I^mS llisftrue knowledge could only come from the prophetic insight of the Isma'TlTlmam. Al-Ghazali realised that the religious sciences could only survive the seceptic attacks of isma'Tlipropaganda, if they adopted a proper method that lead to conclusions which were as close to indubitability as possible. The Isma'iliscepticists— or rather the Sunni Muslims who were tempted by their teachings—should be convinced by the force of reason that Sunni theology was not a science for which they could have scant respect. It was for this reason that the beginning of al-Ghazali's main work on the principles of jurisprudence covers a long explanation of logic (al-Ghazali,

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