Philosophy and Religion

In the 19th Century the Europeans believed that the Eastern nations acquired learning only for its utility. It was also believed that, unlike the ancient Greeks, the Easterners did not learn for the sake of learning or for mental recreation.

Those who held this notion argued that the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persian and the Indians know certain sciences which served them as industries. They utilized them in construction, agriculture and the treatment of human and animal ailments. They held that only the Greeks knew sciences as sciences and philosophy as philosophy. The Greeks were interested in sciences for the sake of intellectual discussion and mere theoretical contemplation. They did not link the sciences with any idea of utility or a means of livelihood.

This notion is gaining currency among the Europeans without anyone caring to debate it or judge of its merits. They do not care to debate the matter because the concept itself satisfies their vanity and serves their purpose at one and the same time. They feel superior to the Easterners as they believe they possess the most sublime human characteristics. In addition to this, the notion serves their purpose because, in an age of colonialism and exploitation, it helps to justify their colonizing the East and its exploitation An interesting point about the whole affair is that it has no acceptable philosophical or scientific basis and cannot be regarded as free from traces of vested interest. How can the logical mind given to philosophical observation accept that the nature of the Greek mind differed from the basic constructions of the mind in other human races of the world. Logic is unable to accept such an unjust ruling which has no argument to advance in its support.

The fact is that there is absolutely no difference in the basic nature of the human mind of the Greeks and that of the human races of the East which the Europeans mention. Some degree of difference between the two can be admitted as regards local conditions, but that would apply to the Greeks as well as to the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Arabs and the Indians.

The Greeks could engage themselves in philosophical discussions at a certain period of history due to a reason known to all; they enjoyed freedom for such intellectual deliberation while the ancient Eastern nations were deprived of it. The Greeks did not enjoy this freedom as a result of any inherent quality in their minds as suggested by the exponents of the above hastily-formed view. There were no dominating kings and no influential clergy in Greece and that helped the country to flourish and develop. Had such powerful kingdoms and influential clergy as that of Egypt and Babylon existed, the Greeks would have behaved in matters of religion and divinity exactly as did the Egyptians and the Babylonians.

Big rivers in countries give rise to firmly established kingdoms with an influential clergy which make discussions of the origin of things and the facts of creation their own prerogative. The priests, in such cases, consider learning as their birthright which none could usurp because such an act was tantamount to violation of the state law and the prerogative of the priesthood. With the passing of time, these orders of priesthood attained greater power and their appeal became diversified, as they clothed their knowledge with a shroud of secrecy and magic. This makes all intellectual pursuits drift away gradually towards traditions and memory, rather than flourishing in an atmosphere of freedom.

The Greeks would never have dared to indulge in unrestricted open and public discussions of the problems of creation, the Creator, and the nature of the universe had their country known the powerful kingdoms and influential clergy which flourished elsewhere.

The Europeans mere experience later, like the Easterners, an influential clergy which dominated the educational field and intellectual world with all its problems and religious truths, the secrets of nature and the laws of the universe. The result was that philosophy and intellectual pursuits were banned in the Middle Ages. None dared to indulge in these discussions except with the permission of the clergy and within certain limits. These restrictions were imposed by the European clergy even before it was as rooted as was the priesthood in Egypt and Babylon. In fact, the European churchmen could trace their history back only to some tens of hundreds of year, while the ancient institutions of priesthood traced their history back to thousands of years.

Moreover, the Greeks could begin their discussions of the secrets of divinity and nature only after getting a clue from the ancient clergy-ridden nations which worshipped the Great Creator and knew religion long before the Europeans. It was a time when the Europeans knew nothing about the power of the Creator. They did not know that this power was an attribute of the God of All the Universe as it was understood by the monotheists or polytheists.

There lived in Greece, and in the island of Crete, people belonging to Greek ancestry who lived together but had different dialects and claimed their lineage from different tribes. Excavations show that these people flourished seventeen centuries before Christ at the most conservative assessment. They had no philosophy and no sage or philosopher lived among them in all those centuries. Their philosophers did flourish on the Asian coasts in the islands nearby, after their coming into contact with the Eastern nations which had deep-rooted civilizations. No philosophers could have appeared there had the beliefs of the Easterners and their evaluation of human thought, the origin of existence and the causes of things not enlightened the minds of the Greeks. Moreover, it is not true to say that the Greeks studied philosophical theory when they began their study of the realities of things. Pythagoras mixed religion with philosophy and supervised underground societies which aspired to seize power. Xenphanes, on the other hand, preached and condemned polytheism. Pythagoras also believed, as did the Indians, in metempsychosis, duality of good and bad, light and darkness and the cycles of life and time. He contended that man cannot obtain salvation from the cycle of nature to which he is tied except by means of spirituality renunciation and sincerity in the pursuit of knowledge. He was a vegetarian and followed the lines of the Brahmins. Empedocles followed Pythagoras in most of his observations and contentions. Plato- too had parts of Pythagoras' philosophy included in his own school of thought.

Early Greek philosophy had an Eastern tinge. The Asian philosophers were deeply interested in astronomy and mathematics and Pythagoras, Xenphanes and their disciples in religion. Again we find that the number seven was given to the previous seven sages among whom were Thalis and Solon. Astronomy flourished in Babylon and Egypt thousands of years before the Greeks. Similarly, the secret religious societies moved from the old clergy-dominated lands to Asia Minor and regions beyond. From this it appears that the Greeks were not the originators of organized philosophical studies or that the instinct for them was theirs all through the ages.

All the Eastern sources, including the Old Testament and the sayings of the Egyptians and Babylonians are found in the oldest of the schools of Greek thought, namely Thalis' philosophy, the ideals of which are found in all philosophies developed later.

In Al-Shahrastani's view, the universe has a Creator Whose substance and essence cannot be grasped by any mind. A human mind can realize only the demonstrations of that substance. The Creator's name is unknown, let alone His identity .

we can only know Him through His various acts and creation. Al-Shahrastani adds that the first element created was water which, to him, was capable of adopting any shape. Out of it were created all objects, the sky, the earth and whatever was in between them. Water is the cause of all creation as well as the elements of all bodies. He mentioned that the frigidity of water produced the earth. Air came into being by the evaporation of water. From it also rose flame and from smoke and vapor heavens were created. From ignition resulting from ether the stars were produced.

Al-Shahrastani says that the first chapter of the Old Testament mentions that creation started with a substance created by Allah. One majestic look towards that substance melted, its parts, from which water was produced. From water came forth vapor like smoke creating the skies. Foam appeared on the surface of water from which the earth was created, held in position by mountains. Thalis of Miletus had acquired his philosophy from this holy light, Al-Shahrastani concluded.

The Greeks' interest in science, as science, was like that of all other nations and races. It is to be noted that the Greeks named engineering the science of measuring the earth. It was after the advances made by engineering and its application which had nothing to do with the land survey, the division of pastures and agricultural land, that such a name was given. This probably reveals the source from which the Greeks borrowed their science of engineering. In point of fact, the Egyptians had to re-survey the land after every flood, while the Greeks did not have to carry out an annual survey of re-demarcation of land.

The clergy was weak in Greek lands while it was strong in the East and that made all the difference in the way the sciences were studied there. When the Greeks came to study and do research they felt absolutely free from all restrictions imposed by the state or religion. This made their mission easy. This was due to particular circumstances and not to any inherent difference in the construction of their respective mental qualities or the capacity to think.

Nothing could be more difficult than to prove the pure Greek ancestry of all philosophers who lived all over Asia Minor, Greece, the Islands, Sicily, Alexandria and Thrace since they belonged to different non-Greek races.

Moreover, Greek philosophy had no force and drive sufficient to overcome obstacles or to survive restrictions. Only one such restriction which the Eastern nations suffered and which, in case of the Greeks, was quite weak successfully demolished the centuries-old cultural heritage of the Greeks. One collision with the Macedonians and the other with the Romans put an end to the Greek philosophy. The Greeks have been living in their country ever since without producing a single philosopher as yet.

The restrictions and hurdles which were inherent in the nature of the states which thrived in Eastern countries produced their reaction. It is the same reaction which caused Greece to live for centuries in inaction and obscurity. The principles of construction which do not accept any philosophical or scientific argument need no further proof. The Semites, and the non-Semitic Persians and Indians, faced peculiar circumstances and passed through a peculiar history. The Greeks and Europeans suffered the same restrictions for ages under the rule of kings and clergy. As a result, the latter were more disheartened in their intellectual pursuits than all of the Eastern nations put together. In this respect, it should be enough to mention the European Inquisition Courts and their penalizing by burning and deprivation.

The Arabs had no powerful state the like of which existed in Mesopotamia or on the banks of the Nile. They were nomads who roamed in search of pastures and water. Theirs was the life of the Bedouins who moved annually in caravans to trade in both winter and summer. In order to live, they had to be prepared at all times for defense and to attack relentlessly. Naturally, no nation, Semitic or non-Semitic, obliged to lead such a troubled life could find time to study philosophy and other theories; this was possible only in peace and stability.

It is most unfair and unpraiseworthy on the part of intellectuals to advance the theory that the Arab mind was incapable of studying philosophy. To refute this idea Al-Farabi and Avicenna can be given as examples. According to the common belief, they were not of Arab or Semitic origin. This argument is given as if the Persians had a special philosophy of their own or as if they had, like the Arabs, a disadvantage in studying philosophy during ages of civilization.

The sound view, acceptable to logic and science alike is that the obstacles to the flourishing of philosophical learning in all countries, races and people are the same. Had the Greeks faced circumstances peculiar to the Arabs they would have known no philosophy. Similarly, the Arabs, had they lived like the Greeks, would have studied more philosophy and sciences.

Yaqub Al-Kindi was a pure Arab. No trace of a foreign blood is known in his case. All the Andalusian philosophers were Arabs too. They were not Persians or Europeans, their Arab ancestry was not also of the Greek type to which the people of Thrace, the Archipelago Islands, Crete, Sicily, Asia Minor and the Greek communities in Tyres, Sidon and the Vally of the Nile belonged.

The Andalusians are the most appropriate of Muslim philosophers who must be referred to when talk about the introduction of philosophical learning and logical discussion on the Europeans. The Eastern philosophers, like Al-Farabi and Avicenna and others were introduced to the Europeans only through their Andalusian counterpart. The credit for introducing the Eastern philosophers to the European students goes directly to Ibn-Bajjah. Ibn-Tufayl, Averroes, Ibn-Zuhr (Avenzoar) and others, who adopted philosophy and practiced medicine as their subjects, or engaged themselves only in medicine. Previous to these learning was limited to a privileged class or to those few who devoted their time entirely to science and the arts.

The Europeans began to know about philosophy of Avicenna before they heard of the Andalusian philosophers. It was Raymond, Archbishop of Toledo, who ordered translation into Latin of some of Avicenna's books. This occurred before the middle of the 12th Century A.D. That was not the first time that the intellectuals of Europe studied Arab culture in the Andalusian universities. Before the end of the 15th Century, there was a man who was so well versed in Arab culture that he was considered by his contemporaries a magician. This man was Priest Gerbert who became known when he ascended the papacy in 999 as Sylvester the Second.

The Andalusian philosopher were very generous in dispensing knowledge. The Christian jurists hated the most renowned of them, Aboul Walid Ibn Rushd, had accused him of being a materialist and a disbeliever in the immortality of the individual soul. But these jurists were very happy with Ibn Bajjah and Ibn Thfayl who believed in the theory of illumination and knowledge which were derived from meditation and spirituality. The teachings of these two moderate philosophers influenced the views of Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great. Albert the Great's writings on "knowledge", particularly, show the influence of Avicenna. Similarly, Averroes' writings influenced the European schools of philosophy for centuries. This was at a time Averroes' books had already been banned and the ban itself was universally proclaimed throughout the Christian world. Averroes continued to be held in high esteem even after his death by many centuries by thinkers and philosophers up to the renaissance of modern philosophy. It is interesting to mention that the German philosopher Friedrich Ueberweg had courage to absolve Averroes of the indictment of being a heretic passed by some Muslim fanatic jurists. Averroes had said that the Quran had been revealed in seven, seventy or seven hundred interpretations. While the commoners understand no other meaning of the Quran except the general interpretation, the intellectuals show a link between the Quran and the secrets of philosophy and its difficult problems.

It is also considered by Europeans and Easterners that the ascetic philosopher Mohiuddin Ibn Arabi had greatly influenced the minds of the ascetics and priests of the Christian jurists who lived after his death. Ibn Arabi lived in Marsiah before the end of the 12th Century A.D. He stutheology, different theories of philosophy, mystic spirituality and pantheism. He was dear to the Christians because he propagated the oneness of all religions as well as the realities of existence. He said «Men have different beliefs about God but I believe in all of them» He also said « I previously hated everyone who confessed a religion foreign to me, but now I have become a cosmopolitan. I believe in the Quran and Ka'ba and, similarly, in the idols and the Old Testament. My faith is love».

According to the Spanish scholar, Professor Asin Palacios, Dante's mystic leanings and his description of the unseen world were taken from Mohiuddin without much alteration

It is known that the first of the Western ascetic philosophers, Johannes Eckhart, of Germany, lived after the death of Ibn Arabi and studied in the University of Paris which depended on the Andalusian heritage in respect of philosophy and sciences. Eckhart, like Ibn Arabi, says that Allah is the Ultimate Existence and that there is no other existence apart from Him. He also says that the Divine Reality expresses itself in all things particularly the human spirit which has to gain contact with Allah through spirituality, knowledge and prayer. He adds that the relation of spirit with Allah is more definite than the relation between the mater and the body.

This philosophy is clearly visible in Spinoza's school. Spinoza lived in Holland and belonged to the Portuguese Jews who were forced to embrace Christianity. His views about self, attributes, the vision of Allah seen through His creatures and men's acquiring of real knowledge through intuition, were copies of the views of the Muslim philosophers with some slight alteration.

If it could be said that Eckhart and Spinoza borrowed some of these beliefs and views from Alexandria Platonism directly, there will be no doubt that the Spanish mystic philosopher Raymunds Lullus borrowed the views of Ibn Arabi, particularly those included in his book «Asmaullah Al-Hosna» (The Blessed Names of Allah). Raymundus Lullus was well-versed in Arabic. He was born one hundred years after the death of Ibn Arabi, He enumerated one hundred names of Allah while since, at that time, Christianity know less than this number.

There is no link between the old philosophers of Muslim countries and those of today. Seldom does anyone of today's philosophers read the books of An dalusian philosophers and those of the Islamic East; what he studies is the original sources of ancient Greek philosophy. The philosophical views expressed by people like Al-Farabi, Al-Kindi, Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, Averroes and Ibn Thfayl are not totally foreign to the modern schools of thought. These views were discussed and studied by the eminent Muslim philosophers either briefly or in detail.

Those who, in ancient times, believed in matter and intellect held views about the phenomena and very Similar to those held by Kant. These facts are out of the reach of mind and thought. They can be realized only by active intellect which is the objective of morals, duties and thinking. By going deep we realize these unknown things through common intuition very much like the intuition of the mystics.

According to David Hume the occurrence of things in a particular order, either once or one thousand times, does not necessarily mean that the preceding thing is the cause of the following and its existence. The same view has been discussed in detail by Al-Ghazali in his book «Tahafut Al-Falasifah». He said that the link between what is generally believed as a cause and caused is not necessary. Every two things have separate entity. If one of them is proved, this proof does necessarily include a proof for the other thing. Similarly, the denial of one thing does not apply to the other thing. The existence of one thing does not mean the existence of the other thing. Similarly, the non-existence of one thing is not the non-existence of the other. For example, irrigation and drinking, fullness of the stomach and eating, burning and contact with fire, light and sunrise, death and cutting off the throat, recovery and taking medicine, looseness of the bowels and use of purgatives, etc., Together with the phenomena in the field of medicine, astronomy, industries and professions. Here, the link between any two of them does not necessarily mean that each one the attendant requirements of purity and the avoidance of actions which violate the spirit of prayer. Similarly, the idea of the Hereafter as given in Islam as regards the prayers is more persuasive in the direction of performing virtuous acts than in any previous faith of them is connected with the other. Although it appears that there is a link between each two of the things mentioned above, yet each one can manifest itself separately. The stomach could be filled without eating and death can happen without cutting off the throat. A life can go on despite the severance of throat. Al-Ghazali dealt with this subject in three chapters which are considered the most precise of all the writings of the thinkers about the realities of causes.

The theory of taking private interest as a measure for reality has been discussed by Averroes in the concluding part of his book «Tahafutul Tahafut» before Wilham James. Referring to laws, their essence and necessity, Averroes observed that all the people unanimously believe that the principles of work must be taken as a tradition. Because no proof could be given for the obligation to work unless there is some virtue which may be the outcome of certain moral and practical activity. The thinkers hold this view as regards the laws. It means that in every creed the behavior of the prophets and the law-makers is to be followed. Anyone of these essential laws which is capable of urging the people to act in a virtuous way is the most acceptable of all, so that those who adopt such a principle may be more virtuous than others following different principles. Prayers can be given as an example; there is no doubt that prayers deprecate evil deeds as stated in the Quran. The prayers as prescribed by Islam have the distinct quality of immunizing the people offering prayers from all evil. This is not the case with prayers in other religions. The Islamic law of prayer is unique due to various factors of the number of prayers, the timings, the psalms and all the attendant requirements of purity and the avoidance of actions which violate the spirit of prayer. Similarly, the idea of the Hereafter as given in Islam as regards the prayers is more persuasive in the direction of performing virtuous acts than in any previous faith.

Spinoza believes in the unity of matter and spirit. This is the same philosophy which has been explained by the Andalusian Ibn Jabirol in his book «Yanboul Hayat». As a proof of his theory, Ibn Jabirol pointed out the unity of cause and effect in nature or in some of its parts, otherwise the mind will have no influence on the body nor the spirit on matter. A similar case of not very distant past is that the ancients believed in the link between time and space. Einstein, contemporary scientist, discloses that time is the fourth of the many dimensions of space.

The first phase of the idea of development is another similar case. Al-Farabi said concerning the views of the Utopians and while attempting to explain the ideas of the First Teacher «The existing things are so arranged that the most inferior of them preceded the better one and the cycle goes on until the best of all comes into existence. The most inferior is the first joint matter. The most inferior are the elements. The order of priority moves upwards from metal, plants, non-articulate animal and the articulate animal. Nothing is superior to the articulate animal».

The thinkers who lived after Al-Farabi were more elaborate in their views about gradual evolution, they even referred to some similarity between man and monkey. Ibn Rhaldoun said «Look at the phenomenon of creation, Look how it has progressed from the metal stage to the plants and then to animals in a most spectacular process of evolution. The last horizon of the metal stage is linked with the first horizon of the plants, like the date- tree and vine, is linked with the first horizon of the animal stage like the snail and shell which have no other sense but touch only. The link between these creatures means that the horizon of them has wonderful capacity to become the first horizon of the following stage. The animal world got expanded into a number of varieties. In its process of gradual evolution, the animal world reached the stage of man capable of thought and contemplation. Monkeys have sense, they are rational but have no capacity to think and contemplate. The first horizon of mankind followed the monkey stage. This is the last conclusion which we could make».

Descartes is supposed to be the father of modern European philosophy. But three of this most important theories were already discussed by Al-Ghazali and particularly by Avicenna. Al-Ghazali said that doubt was the first stage of certainty. Doubt in Carteism was a forerunner of positives. The first of these positives was the one which Descartes advanced to prove existence. In this respect, he says «Since I think. I am existing». This is the same theory dealing with man left in the space explained by Avicenna while he was trying to prove «reality», which meant the existence of the soul even if there were no external contacts. Avicenna further explains that if a human being is left in space with no member of his body coming in contact with any other thing in existence and no senses functioning, he will surely have a sense of himself or his existence. Next to that theory is the question of creatures and their need, after coming into existence, for Divine blessings to continue having life. They do not acquire the attributes of existence all at one time, but they get them in stages through the blessings of Allah. This is the theory of both Avicenna and Descartes without any differences between the two.

Those who maintain that Muslim philosophers copied the Greek philosophers word by word are mistaken. There were Muslim philosophers who thought independently; there were others who hesitated in toeing the Greek line. While studying the ancient works, most of them believed that those works were open to modification and further verification. They did not believe that what the ancient philosophers wrote had to be taken for granted in any case.

Al-Ghazali, for instance, was a master of logic. Of all the ancient philosophers and those who lived later he was the most capable man to dispute the arguments given by the Greeks. He had parallel arguments and sometimes his views on logical problems were more forceful and more lucid.

Avicenna is not in total agreement with the Peripatics, he has his own parallel logic which he named the «Oriental Logic». He says, «We do not care if any of our observations go against theories propounded by the Greeks by way of carelessness or misunder- standing. Similarly, we do not care if our views go against the popular theories found in the books of second-rate philosophers of Peripatics who have the misconception that it is only they who enjoy Allah's blessing and nobody else».

Al-Biruni has criticized Aristotle for his belief in the old philosopher's views and for his statement that the findings of past centuries in astronomy were an accomplished fact.

He also disputed Aristotle for saying that the oval and perpendicular figures require vacuum in going round and round; he did not like Aristotle's theory that the round figure needs no vacuum. Al-Biruni held this view as disputable. Avicenna approved Al-Biruni's criticism and pointed out to him the disadvantages suffered by the interpreters of the theory. In this respect, Avicenna quoted Themistius' recommendation contained in his book. «The Book of the Heavens» that any philosopher's views must he taken at their best.

Similar contradictions are frequently found in the books of the philosophers, the mystics and the theologists. Actually, the views of the eminent philosophers are not to be branded as reproduction of past views. Even Averroes cannot be an exception. He excelled all others in his appreciation of Aristotle. Averroes used to retouch the views of Aristotle while reproducing them.

This statement is open to one observation in which two contradictory views meet at the same mistake. Whoever maintains that the Muslims' borrowing from the Greeks, regardless of its amount, was an objectionable act will be taken as if he was against the whole process.

No nation is required to originate a culture of its own entirely different from all other cultures. Similarly there could be no objection to a nation's attempt to acquire learning when it becomes possible for her to do so. What is objectionable is that a nation may prove itself unworthy of keeping the flame of human culture burning after it has been passed on to her, generation after generation from the beginning of the human history. It is highly praiseworthy on the part of the Muslim philosophers that they have been very particular in quoting the name of each author for their theories. They were full of praise whenever they came across a theory which appealed to them. But the same could not be said about the Greeks. They ignored mentioning and giving the credit for the learning they acquired from early civilizations. Moreover, the study of philosophy was not restricted to the philosophers only in the Muslim world; all learned and semi-learned people had easy access to it. This gave rise to debates in assemblies attended by the elite. There were also other contests of matching wits; this is something unknown to the Greeks and their contemporaries in ancient times.

Philosophy, particularly mystic philosophy, was the only avenue in which modern thought expressed itself in the Christian world. It is also the same way through which European ideas and views expressed themselves through the ages.

One look at figures denoting the years in which the Christian message thrived and religious reform became successful will show the source of these views. These were the years when the attacks on the priests were at their highest. The same period also witnessed continuous slackening of restrictions on inmates of monasteries and marriage. Nothing of this kind ever appeared before Europe's contact with the Arab civilization, either in Andalusia or during the Crusade. All problems connected with rationalism or religion together with their attendant social issues lay dormant in Europe finding no opportunity to manifest themselves, or to discover any solution of the same.

With the perpetual contacts made between the Arab and European societies, and then between their minds and belief, a new mentality and a new learning to interpret things and to introduce reforms appeared. The European scholars sometimes propounded theories which were in agreement with the Arabs' and sometimes differed with them. But difference does not mean to ignore the original source and does not also obstruct formation of new thought.

Thomas Aquinas, the most exalted of all Christian divines in the middle ages, was born in 1225 and died in 1274. He wrote his books in a period when the views of the Andalusian and other Muslim Eastern philosophers were popularly known among the Christian monks and priests. The latter had not a single theory about Allah, the spirit, and the methods of approach to reality which had not been already discussed long before by Avicenna, Al-Ghazali and Averroes in particular. The differences between both sides were those inherent in Islam and Christianity themselves. The Muslims called Al-Ghazali (Hujjatul Islam) meaning «the Proof of Islam». Dante, on the other hand, named Saint Thomas «The Glimpse of the Heavenly Light». Both of them had the same task to perform. They disputed Aristotle's and Plato's theories and defeated the materialist philosophy's doubtful points to give the idea of divinity an upper hand. Only one comparison between the theories of the two sages will reveal to us who preceded the other and was more independent in his thinking. Despite the protests of Saint Thomas, the Christian priests, particularly the Franciscans, generally accepted the views of the Arab philosophers. The followers of those theories challenged openly the clear-cut ban issued by the Paris Divine Council in 1260 on the views. The ban outlawed belief in the theories of Averroes, particularly those dealing with the soul, the first human being oldness and newness.

The philosophical and mystic studies continuously had their impact on the clergy. It resulted in a powerful campaign against the priesthood. This campaign had its echo in literary circles where an Italian writer contributed to the success of the campaign. This writer owes much to the Arab culture since he wrote his book the Decameron on lines of One Thousand and One Nights and ridiculed the priesthood.

It was not yet the end of the 15th Century that the priesthood reached definite crosswords which led to two different schools of thought. The Trint 1545 Ecclesiastical Assembly issued decisions banning marriage for all priests of all ranks. But before that, Luther, the master mind of the Anglicans, married a Catholic priestess by way of protest and challenge. Luther knew more than anyone else the philosophy of the Middle Ages. He was professor of philosophy at the University of Wuttenburg.

He knew fairly well the discussions of the masters of divinity and logicians.

Luther translated the Old Testament into German .Latin had the sole monopoly of being the language of religion and sciences for hundreds of years; this monopoly was broken by the pressure to learn Arabic among those who previously learnt nothing but Latin and thought it obligatory to use their national languages. The urge to shift to Arabic from Latin was not widespread that some orthodox people complained against it. Those who complained feared the serious change which had overtaken their countrymen. Dozy's book on Muslim Spain discusses this change.

Professor Nicholson in his book «Legacy of Islam» referred to the similarities between the theories of the Muslim mystics and the European Christian mystics like the German and the English Edward Carpenter who lived later. Nicholson has dealt nicely with the subject of the relation between Christian and the Islamic mysticism. If such a relation is proved it should cause no surprise. It has the testimony of history and logic. But it should be surprising if the same is denied by people knowing that the Arabs lived in Andalusia for centuries and that their lectures were attended by students of religious and secular learning there and that the Arab scholars books were studied by Christian scholars in monasteries and universities. Similarly, it is surprising if the relation between the Christian and the Muslim mystics were denied by people who knew that not a single sign of European renaissance was visible before the contact of the East with West.

The aforeasaid concept is based on exaggeration having two parallel points while each one of them is equally full of misstatements aiming at misguiding others. It is the height of injustice to say that the mysticism which the Europeans borrowed from the Arabs was foreign even to Arabs themselves and that the Arab mind had made no contribution towards its development - this is one point in question. The other is to maintain that Arab mysticism was purely Arab in its origin and that no other nation has any part to play in it. Both these points are equally false and are unacceptable. The aspirations of the human soul are shared equally by all human races; there is not a single nation of a group of people who are totally deprived of these aspirations. Similarly, there is not one single belief which could embody in itself all of those aspirations as compared with other religious beliefs.

Arab mysticism rubbed shoulders with the ancient Indian and Platonic mysticism in Alexandria. The Arabs did borrow certain theories and ideas; but while doing so they contributed many of their own in the same way. We do not seem to be in need of quoting historical background and proofs for the statement. The elements of Islamic mysticism found in the verses of the Holy Quran contain all the principles found, in toto, in Buddhist and Platonic mysticism. When a Muslim reads in his Holy Book which says what means Nothing is like Him; and He is the Hearing, the Seeing. He knows in brief the theories concerning divinity found in Saint Thomas books in which he maintains that Allah has nothing to do with contingency and that He was the exalted being Who was far above similar attributes. Allah, according to Saint Thomas, is distinct from the happenings. He is known by transcendence and anthropomorphism. Whatever the original source of Saint Thomas views, they are known to a Muslim through the Holy Book.

A Muslim, when he reads the verse «So flee to Allah. Surely I am a plain warner to you from Him» knows the Buddhist mystic theory which says that worldly life pollutes the happiness of soul and that the salvation lies in renouncing the world and devotion to Allah alone.

The Qur'anic verse which says what means : "He is the First and the Last and the Manifest and the Hidden, and He is Knower of all things and Everything will perish but He; cover the entire field leaving nothing of the mystic theory that Allah is eternal and immortal. Allah has no attributes of time and space and His knowledge covers universalities and particles".

The Holy Quran says what means : "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth, And Allah's is the East and the West, so whither you turn thither is Allah's purpose and We are nearer to him (Man) than his life-veins. In reading these verses, the mystic can do no better than to explain the basic idea of these verses by saying the real existence was that of Allah and that He is more close to the human beings than their own souls. Allah exists everywhere. The Quran also says what means : "And there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their glorifications. Allah creates and gives orders. He is Acting and Willing. His will is not incapable of creation as believed by the philosophers who maintain that contingent volition or new creatures cannot spring from an old will". The Quran says what means:" His is the creation and the command. Blessed is Allah, the God of the Worlds".

The Muslim learns from his Holy Book that man's mind cannot grasp anything except what Allah wants him to do. The Quran says what means" He knows what is before them and what is behind them. And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He pleases".

A Muslim knows the difference between the world of phenomena and the inner world, or the world of reality and the world of law, because this is clearly stated in the conversation of Khadre and Moses who differed on certain point. The Quran says what means :" Then they found one of Our servants whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves. Moses said to him May I follow you that you may teach me of the good you have been taught? He said You cannot have patience with me. And how can have patience in that whereof you have not a comprehensive knowledge. He said If Allah Pleases, you will find me patient, nor shall I disobey you in aught. He said : If you would follow me, question me not about aught until I myself speak to you about it. So they set out until, when they embarked in a boat, he made a hole in it. (Moses) said Have you made a hole in it to drown its occupants? You have surely done a grievous thing. He said : Did I not say that you could not have patience with me? He said. Blame me not for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for what I did. So they went on until, when they met a boy he slew him. (Moses) said : Have you slain an innocent person, not guilty of slaying another? Have you indeed done a horrible thing. He said Did I not say to you that you could not have patience with me? He said : If I ask you about anything after this, keep not company with me. You will then indeed have found an excuse in my case. So they went on, until, when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to entertain them as guests. Then they found in it a wall which was on the point of falling, so he put it into a right state. (Moses) said : If you had wished, you could have taken a recompense for it. He said : This is the parting between me and you. Now I will inform you of the significance of that with which you could not have patience. As for the boat, it belonged to poor people working on the river, and I intended to damage it, for there was behind them a king who seized every boat by force. And as for the boy, his parents were believers and We feared lest he should involve them in wrongdoing and disbelief. So We intended that their God might give them in his place one better in purity and nearer to mercy. And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father had been a righteous man. So your God intended that they should obtain their maturity and take out their treasure a mercy from Allah - and I did not do it of my own accord. This is the significance of that with which you could not have patience".

These are clear verses read by all sections of the Muslims who no doubt have amongst them people having leaning towards mysticism and desire to discover the hidden spiritual meanings. If the latter decides to interpreted these verses they will find it very easy to approach the essence of mysticism with which the sages of all times and of all races have remained concerned. The Muslims who read the verses could claim to have original theories about the Divine philosophy. Their original views on the subject could be transmitted to other nations in addition to what they borrowed from the sages of India or of Alexandria.