Humanism in Ismaili thought: The case of the Rasail Ikhwan al-Safa


Cultural historians are divided as to whether the term "humanism," a product of the Graeco-Roman humanitas ideal, can be applied to the world of medieval Islam. In his chapter entitled "al-Naza al-insaniyya fi'l-fikr al-'arabi" (The Humanist Trend in Arab Thought), 'Abd al-Ral:rman Badawi, reflecting on humanism in Arab thought, states that Greek culture was not unique in creating a humanist ideal. Every high culture, he asserts, produces this phenomenon in its own way. A number of other scholars, such as Louis Gardet, and Mohammed Arkoun have discussed and elaborated on humanism as a feature of Arab-Islamic civilization. In The Rise of Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West, George Makdisi has covered all aspects of Islamic learning and rendered the Arabic term adab as humanism.

This article appeared in Universality in Islamic Thought: Rationalism, Science and Religious Belief, Edited by Michael Morony, London: I.B.Tauris, 2014.

Humanism in Ismaili thought: The case of the Rasail Ikhwan al-Safa. (Scanned PDF).

Comments (0) | Write a comment

Comments
Write a comment

All fields are required. Comments are moderated.

Add a Review of this item

Please enter below the text from image.
  • News & Events
    Features
    Fearless intellectual activist like no other
    I vividly remember the day, some 30 years ago, when the cover story by Asghar Ali Engineer was published in the Illustrated Weekly of India. With Sayedna Moahammed Burhanuddin’s picture on the cover and the title “A Law Unto Himself”, the article created a sensation. Nobody had dared to challenge Sayedna Saheb so openly so publicly before. It gave us young Turks a new sense of mission and energy. Instinctively, we knew this man was on to something. Bohras, who are generally meek and tend to mind their own business, are not quite used to this kind of dynamic personality rising in their midst. more
    Islamic perspective
    Muslim women and maintenance
    With the recent judgement of the Bombay High Court the controversy about the maintenance of a Muslim divorcee has been revived. Similar judgement by the Apex Court in mid-eighties popularly known as the Shah Bano case had caused much turmoil in the Muslim community. more
  • Bohras and Reform
    Baraat: A cruel system of excommunication
    There is no concept of baraat in the Qur'an or Hadith. Islam has never resorted to declaring social boycott against anyone. On the contrary it was the holy prophet who was subjected to social boycott by the kafirs of Mecca. more
    The clergy and the courts
    It is amazing that the clergy of a microscopic sectarian community should have fought numerous legal battles with its followers. These legal battles reveal the clergy's sense of insecurity, its greed and its desperation to find legal sanction for its astounding claims to absolute authority. more
    Multimedia
    Interviews and talks
    Few people understand what the reform movement is about. They think reformists are against the Dai. This is not true. Check out a series of long-ranging interviews and talks to understand why reformists are fighting and what they are fighting for. more
    Your story
    › Tell us your story, write to us.
    Victim of Sayedna's diktat
    As kids we were subjected to some sort of confusion at home... there was my Mom telling us to do sajdah and kiss the feet of the Sayedna whenever he was in town and on the other hand, my Dad scoffed at even the thought and reprimanded us for having done so. We wondered why the disparity in thoughts when all we could see around us was an insane sort of worshiping for the High Priest. more