The Value of Classical Islamic Thoufor Muslims Today

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This article challenges the assertion, found in the writings Dr. Taha Jabir Al-Alwani and other Muslim reformers, that Islamic thought declined precipitously in the early centuries of Islam and is of little value to contemporary Muslims. It introduces readers to the sophis-ticated thought of four diverse Muslim thinkers from the 5th/11th century who each wrote about topics that remain important to Muslims today, such as the nature of the soul, ethics, the purpose of knowledge, and spirituality. These thinkers are the philosopher-his-torian Miskawayh, the Sunni Mu‘tazili al-Ḥākim al-Jishumī, the Zahiri Ibn Ḥazm, and the Hadith scholar al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī. In addition to drawing specific lessons from these classical thinkers’ writings, the article encourages contemporary Muslims to emulate their practice of reading widely, including works of Muslim phi-losophy and theology, and to appreciate the significant connection they made between the acquisition of knowledge and its application to daily life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-173
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Journal of Islam and Society
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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