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Title: Arabic Thought and its Place in History
Author: O'Leary, de Lacy
Language: English
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_Demy 8vo, dark green cloth, gilt._

  ALBERUNI: =India.= An Account of the Religion, Philosophy,
      Literature, Geography, Chronology, Astronomy, Customs, Laws, and
      Astrology of India, about A.D. 1030. By Dr. Edward C. Sachau.
      ARNOLD (Sir E.): =Indian Poetry and Indian Idylls.= Containing
      ‘The Indian Song of Songs,’ from the Sanskrit of the Gita Govinda
      of Jayadeva; Two Books from ‘The Iliad of India’ (Mahabharata);
      ‘Proverbial Wisdom,’ from the Shlokas of the Hitopadesa, and
      other Oriental Poems.

  BARTH (Dr. A.): =The Religions of India.= Authorised Translation by
      Rev. J. Wood.

  BIGANDET (B. P.): =Life or Legend of Gaudama, the Buddha of the
      Burmese;= With Annotations, the Ways to Neibban, and Notice on
      the Phongyies or Burmese Monks.

  BEAL (Prof. S.): =Life of Hiuen-Tsiang.= By the Shamans Hwui Li and
      Yen-Tsung. With a Preface containing an Account of the Works of

  BEAL (Prof. S.): =Si-Yu-Ki:= Buddhist Records of the Western World.
      Translated from the Chinese of Hiuen-Tsiang.

  BOULTING (Dr. W.): =Four Pilgrims.= I., Hiuen Tsiang; II., Sæwulf;
      III., Mohammed ibn abd Allah; IV., Ludovico Varthema of Bologna.

  COWELL (Prof. E. B.): =Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha:= or, Review of the
      Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy. By Madhava Acharya.
      Translated by Prof. E. B. Cowell, M.A., and Prof. A. E. Gough,

  DOWSON (Prof. J.): =Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and
      Religion, Geography, History, and Literature.=

  EDKINS (Dr. J.): =Chinese Buddhism:= A Volume of Sketches, Historical
      and Critical. New and Revised Edition.

  ROCKHILL (W. W.): =The Life of the Buddha and the Early History of
      his Order.= Derived from Tibetan works in the Bkah-hgyur and
      Bstan-hgyur. Followed by notices on the early history of Tibet
      and Khoten.

  HAUG (Dr. M.): =Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion
      of the Parsis.=

  WEBER (Dr. A.): =History of Indian Literature.= Translated by John
      Mann, M.A., and Theodore Zachariae, Ph.D. Fourth Edition.

_Other Volumes to follow._




  _Lecturer in Aramaic and Syriac, Bristol University_




History traces the evolution of the social structure in which the
community exists to-day. There are three chief factors at work in this
evolution; racial descent, culture drift, and transmission of language:
the first of these physiological and not necessarily connected with
the other two, whilst those two are not always associated with each
other. In the evolution of the social structure the factor of first
importance is the transmission of culture, which is not a matter of
heredity but due to contact, for culture is learned and reproduced
by imitation and not inherited. Culture must be taken in the widest
sense to include political, social, and legal institutions, the arts
and crafts, religion, and the various forms of intellectual life which
show their presence in literature, philosophy, and otherwise, all more
or less connected, and all having the common characteristic that they
cannot be passed on by physical descent but must be learned in after
life. But race, culture, and language resemble one another in so far
as it is true that all are multiplex and perpetually interwoven, so
that in each the lines of transmission seem rather like a tangled skein
than an ordered pattern; results proceed from a conflicting group of
causes amongst which it is often difficult to apportion the relative

The culture of modern Europe derives from that of the Roman Empire,
itself the multiple resultant of many forces, amongst which the
intellectual life of Hellenism was most effective, but worked into a
coherent system by the wonderful power of organization, which was one
of the most salient characteristics of that Empire. The whole cultural
life of mediæval Europe shows this Hellenistic-Roman culture passed on,
developed, and modified by circumstances. As the Empire fell to pieces
the body of culture became subject to varying conditions in different
localities, of which the divergence between the Greek-speaking East and
the Latin-speaking West is the most striking example. The introduction
of Muslim influence through Spain is the one instance in which we
seem to get an alien culture entering into this Roman tradition and
exercising a disturbing influence. In fact, this Muslim culture was
at bottom essentially a part of the Hellenistic-Roman material, even
the theology of Islam being formulated and developed from Hellenistic
sources, but Islam had so long lived apart from Christendom and its
development had taken place in surroundings so different that it seems
a strange and alien thing. Its greatest power lay in the fact that it
presented the old material in an entirely fresh form.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is the effort of the following pages to trace the transmission
of Hellenistic thought through the medium of Muslim philosophers and
Jewish thinkers who lived in Muslim surroundings, to show how this
thought, modified as it passed through a period of development in the
Muslim community and itself modifying Islamic ideas, was brought to
bear upon the culture of mediæval Latin Christendom. So greatly had
it altered in external form during the centuries of its life apart,
that it seemed a new type of intellectual life and became a disturbing
factor which diverted Christian philosophy into new lines and tended to
disintegrate the traditional theology of the Church, directly leading
up to the Renascence which gave the death-blow to mediæval culture:
so little had it altered in real substance that it used the same
text-books and treated very much the same problems already current in
the earlier scholasticism which had developed independently in Latin
Christendom. It will be our effort so to trace the history of mediæval
Muslim thought as to show the elements which it had in common with
Christian teaching and to account for the points of divergence.

                                                            De L. O’L.


  CHAP.                                                            PAGE

     I  THE SYRIAC VERSION OF HELLENISM                                1

    II  THE ARAB PERIOD                                               56

   III  THE COMING OF THE `ABBASIDS                                   89

    IV  THE TRANSLATORS                                              105

     V  THE MU`TAZILITES                                             123

    VI  THE EASTERN PHILOSOPHERS                                     135

   VII  SUFISM                                                       181

  VIII  ORTHODOX SCHOLASTICISM                                       208

    IX  THE WESTERN PHILOSOPHY                                       226

     X  THE JEWISH TRANSMITTORS                                      261


        CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH                                         295

        CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE                                          296




The subject proposed in the following pages is the history of the
cultural transmission by which Greek philosophy and science were passed
from Hellenistic surroundings to the Syriac speaking community, thence
to the Arabic speaking world of Islam, and so finally to the Latin
Schoolmen of Western Europe. That such a transmission did take place is
known even to the beginner in mediæval history, but how it happened,
and the influences which promoted it, and the modifications which took
place _en route_, appear to be less generally known, and it does not
seem that the details, scattered through works of very diverse types,
are easily accessible to the English reader. Many historians seem
content to give only a casual reference to its course, sometimes even
with strange chronological confusions which show that the sources used
are still the mediæval writers who had very imperfect information about
the development of intellectual life amongst the Muslims. Following
mediæval usage we sometimes find the Arabic writers referred to as
“Arabs” or “Moors,” although in fact there was only one philosopher
of any importance who was an Arab by race, and comparatively little
is known about his work. These writers belonged to an Arabic speaking
community, but very few of them were actually Arabs.

After the later Hellenistic development Greek culture spread outward
into the oriental fringe of people who used Syriac, Coptic, Aramaic,
or Persian as their vernacular speech, and in these alien surroundings
it took a somewhat narrower development and even what we may describe
as a provincial tone. There is no question of race in this. Culture
is not inherited as a part of the physiological heritage transmitted
from parent to child; it is learned by contact due to intercourse,
imitation, education, and such like things, and such contact between
social groups as well as between individuals is much helped by the
use of a common language and hindered by difference of language. As
soon as Hellenism overflowed into the vernacular speaking communities
outside the Greek speaking world it began to suffer some modification.
It so happened also that these vernacular speaking communities wanted
to be cut off from close contact with the Greek world because very
bitter theological divisions had arisen and had produced feelings of
great hostility on the part of those who were officially described as
heretics against the state church in the Byzantine Empire.

In this present chapter we have to consider three points; in the first
place the particular stage of development reached by Greek thought at
the time when these divisions took place; secondly the cause of these
divisions and their tendencies; and thirdly the particular line of
development taken by Hellenistic culture in its oriental atmosphere.

First stands the question of the stage of development reached by
Hellenism, and we may test this by its intellectual life as represented
by science and philosophy, at the time when the oriental off-shoot
shows a definite line of separation. English education, largely
dominated by the principles learned at the renascence, is inclined to
treat philosophy as coming to an end with Aristotle and beginning again
with Descartes after a long blank during which there lived and worked
some degenerate descendants of the ancients who hardly need serious
consideration. But this position violates the primary canon of history
which postulates that all life is continuous, the life of the social
community as well as the physical life of an organic body: and life
must be a perpetual series of causes and results, so that each event
can only be explained by the cause which went before, and can only be
fully understood in the light of the result which follows after. What
we call the “middle ages” had an important place in the evolution of
our own cultural condition, and owed much to the transmitted culture
which came round from ancient Hellenism through Syriac, Arabic, and
Hebrew media. But this culture came as a living thing with an unbroken
and continuous development from what we call the “classic” age. As the
philosophy of the great classic schools passes down to these later
periods it shows great modifications, but this alteration is itself a
proof of life. Philosophy, like religion, in so far as it has a real
vitality, must change and adapt itself to altered conditions and new
requirements: it can remain pure and true to its past only in so far as
its life is artificial and unreal, lived in an academic atmosphere far
removed from the life of the community at large. In such an unnatural
atmosphere no doubt, it is possible for a religion or a philosophy to
live perfectly pure and uncorrupt, but it is certainly not an ideal
life: in real life there are bound to be introduced many unworthy
elements and some which can only be described as actually corrupt. So
it is inevitable that as a religion or a philosophy lives and really
fulfils its proper functions it has to pass through many changes. Of
course the same holds good for all other forms of culture: it may be
true that a country is happy if it has no history, but it is the placid
happiness of vegetable life, not the enjoyment of the higher functions
of rational being.

In considering the transmission of Greek philosophy to the Arabs we
see that philosophy still as a living force, adapting itself to changed
conditions but without a break in the continuity of its life. It was
not, as now, an academic study sought only by a group of specialists,
but a living influence which guided men in their ideas about the
universe in which they lived and dominated all theology, law, and
social ideas. For many centuries it pervaded the atmosphere in which
Western Asia was educated and in which it lived. Men became Christians,
for a time the new religious interest filled their minds, but later on
it was inevitable that philosophy should re-assert its power, and then
Christian doctrine had to be re-cast to conform to it: the descendants
of these people became Muslims and then again, after an interval,
religion had to conform itself to current philosophy. We have no such
dominant philosophical system in force to-day, but we have a certain
mass of scientific facts and theories which form an intellectual
background to modern European life and the defenders of traditional
religion find it necessary to adjust their teaching to the principles
implied in those facts and theories.

But the important point is that then Christian teachers began to put
themselves into touch with current philosophy, and so when the Muslims
later on did the same, they had to reckon with philosophy as they found
it actually living in their own days: they did not become Platonists or
Aristotelians in the sense in which we should understand the terms. The
current philosophy had changed from the older standards, not because
the degenerate people of those days could not understand the pure
doctrines of Plato and Aristotle, but because they took philosophy so
seriously and earnestly as an explanation of the universe and of man’s
place in it that they were bound to re-adjust their views in the light
of what they regarded as later information, and the views had altered
to adjust themselves with the course of human experience.

From Plato onwards philosophy had been very largely concerned with
theories which more or less directly concerned the structure of
society: it was perceived that a very large part of man’s life, duties,
and general welfare, was intimately concerned with his relations
to the community in which he lived. But soon after the time of
Aristotle the general conditions of the social order were seen to be
undergoing a profound modification: great empires with highly organised
administrations replaced the self-governing city states of the older
period, and social life had to adjust itself to the new conditions.
A man who was a citizen of the Roman Empire was a citizen in quite a
different sense from that in which one was a citizen of the Athenian
Republic. The Stoic philosophy, which is of this later age, already
presupposes these new conditions and in course of time the other
schools orientated themselves similarly. One of the first results is
a tendency to eclecticism and to combination of the tenets of several
schools. The new outlook, broader in its horizon, perhaps shallower in
other respects, impelled men to take what was an imperialist attitude
instead of a local or national one. Precisely similar changes were
forced upon the Jewish religion. Hellenistic Judaism, at the beginning
of the Christian era, is concerned with the human species and the race
of Israel is considered chiefly as a means of bringing illumination to
mankind at large. It was this Hellenistic Judaism which culminated in
St. Paul and the expansion of the Christian Church, whilst orthodox
Judaism, that is to say the provincial Jewery of Palestine reverted
to its racial attitude under the pressure of circumstances partly
reactionary against the too rapid progress of Hellenism and partly
political in character.

The old pagan religions showed many local varieties, and from those a
world-wide religion could only be evolved by some speculative doctrines
which reconciled their divergences. Never has a religion of any
extension been formed from local cults otherwise than by the ministry
of some kind of speculative theology: sometimes the fusion of cults has
spontaneously provided such a theology, as was the case in the Nile
valley and in Mesopotamia in early times, and when the theology was
produced it brought its solvent power to bear rapidly and effectively
on other surrounding cults. As many races and states were associated
together in the Greek Empire which, though apparently separated into
several kingdoms, yet had an intellectual coherence and a common
civilization, and this was still more definitely the case when the
closer federation of the Roman Empire followed, philosophy was forced
more and more in the direction of speculative theology: it assumed
those ethical and doctrinal functions which we generally associate
with religion, the contemporary local cults concerning themselves
only with ritual duties. Thus in the early centuries of the Christian
era Hellenistic philosophy was evolving a kind of religion, of a high
moral tone and definitely monotheistic in doctrine. This theological
philosophy was eclectic, but rested upon a basis of Platonism.

Whilst the philosophers were developing a monotheistic and moral
system which they hoped to make a world religion, the Christians
were attempting a similar task on somewhat different lines. The
earlier converts to the Christian religion were not as a rule drawn
from the educated classes and shewed a marked suspicion and dislike
towards those superior persons, such as the Gnostics, or at least
the pre-Marcionite Gnostics, who were disposed to patronise them.
Gradually however this attitude changed and we begin to find men
like Justin Martyr who had received a philosophical education and
yet found it quite possible to co-ordinate contemporary science and
Christian doctrine. In Rome, in Africa, and in Greece the Christians
were a despised minority, chiefly drawn from the unlettered class,
and ostentatiously ignored by the writers of the day. Like the Jew of
the Ghetto they were forced to live an isolated life and thrown back
upon their internal resources. But in Alexandria and, to a lesser
degree in Syria, they were more in the position of the modern Jew in
Anglo Saxon lands, though bitterly hated and occasionally persecuted,
and were brought under the intellectual influences of the surrounding
community and thus experienced a solvent force in their own ideas.
When at last Christianity appears in the ascendant it has been largely
re-cast by Hellenistic influences, its theology is re-stated in
philosophical terms, and thus in the guise of theology a large amount
of philosophical material was transmitted to the vernacular speaking
hinterland of Western Asia.

The Arabic writer Masûdi informs us that Greek philosophy originally
flourished at Athens, but the Emperor Augustus transferred it from
Athens to Alexandria and Rome, and Theodosius afterwards closed the
schools at Rome and made Alexandria the educational centre of the Greek
world (Masûdi: _Livre de l’avertissement_, trad. B. Carra de Vaux,
Paris, 1896, p. 170). Although grotesquely expressed this statement
contains an element of truth in so far as it represents Alexandria
as gradually becoming the principal home of Greek philosophy. It had
begun to take a leading place even in the days of the Ptolemies,
and in scientific, as distinguished from purely literary work, it
had assumed a position of primary importance early in the Christian
era. The schools of Athens remained open until A.D. 529, but had
long been out of touch with progressive scholarship. Rome also shows
great philosophers, most often of oriental birth, down to a late age,
but although these were given a kindly welcome and a hearing, Roman
education was more interested in jurisprudence, indeed the purely Roman
philosophical speculation is that embedded in Justinian’s code. Antioch
also had its philosophy, but this was never of more than secondary

In the course of what we may term the Alexandrian period the
Platonic school had steadily taken the first place. It was indeed
considerably changed from the ancient Academic standards, chiefly by
the introduction of semi-mystical elements which were attributed to
Pythagoras, and later by fusion with the neo-Aristotelian school. The
Pythagorean elements probably can be traced ultimately to an Indian
source, at least in such instances as the doctrine of the unreality
of matter and phenomena which appears in Indian philosophy as _māyā_,
and the re-incarnation of souls which is _avatar_. The tendency of
native Greek thought, as seen in Democritus and other genuinely
Greek thinkers, was distinctly materialistic, but Plato apparently
incorporates some alien matter, probably Indian, perhaps some Egyptian
ideas as well. We know there was a transmission of oriental thought
influencing Hellenism, but very little is known of the details.
Certainly Plotinus and the neo-Platonists were eclectic thinkers and
drew freely from oriental sources, some disguised as Pythagorean, by a
long sojourn in Greek lands.

In the 3rd century A.D. we find the beginnings of what is known
as neo-Platonism. A very typical passage in Gibbon’s _Decline and
Fall_ (ch. xiii.) refers to the neo-Platonists as “men of profound
thought and intense application; but, by mistaking the true object
of philosophy, their labours contributed much less to improve than
to corrupt the human understanding. The knowledge that is suited to
our situation and powers, the whole compass of moral, natural, and
mathematical science, was neglected by the new Platonists; whilst
they exhausted their strength in the verbal disputes of metaphysics,
attempted to explore the secrets of the invisible world, and studied
to reconcile Aristotle with Plato, on subjects of which both these
philosophers were as ignorant as the rest of mankind.” Although this
passage is coloured by some of the peculiar prejudices of Gibbon it
fairly represents a common attitude towards neo-Platonism and might
equally apply to every religious movement the world has ever seen.

The neo-Platonists were the result, we may say the inevitable result,
of tendencies which had been at work ever since the age of Alexander
and the widening of the mental horizon and the decay of interest in
the old civic life. The older philosophers had endeavoured to produce
efficient citizens; but under imperialist conditions efficient citizens
were not so much wanted as obedient subjects. Through all this period
there are very clear indications of the new trend of thought which
assumes a more theological and philanthropic character, aiming at
producing good men rather than useful citizens. The speculations of
Philo the Jewish Platonist give very plain indications of these new
tendencies as they appeared in Alexandria. He shows the monotheistic
tendency which was indeed present in the older philosophers but now
begins to be more strongly emphasized as philosophy becomes more
theological in its speculations, though no doubt in his case this was
largely due to the religion he professed. He expressed the doctrine
of a One God, eternal, unchanging, and passionless, far removed above
the world of phenomena, as the First Cause of all that exists, a
philosophical monotheism which can be fitted in with the Old Testament
but does not naturally proceed from it. The doctrine of an Absolute
Reality as the necessary cause of all that is variable, something like
the fulcrum which Archimedes needed to move the world, was one to which
all philosophy, and especially the Platonic school, was tending. But,
as causation to some extent implies change, this First Cause could not
be regarded as directly creating the world, but only as the eternal
source of an eternally proceeding emanation by means of which the power
of the First Cause is projected so as to produce the universe and all
it contains. The essential features of this teaching are, the absolute
unity of the First Cause, its absolute reality, its eternity, and its
invariability, all of which necessarily removes it above the plane
of things knowable to man; and the operative emanation ceaselessly
issuing forth, eternal like its source, yet acting in time and space,
an emanation which Philo terms the _Logos_ or “Word.” Although
these theories are to a large extent only an expression of logical
conclusions towards which the Platonists were then advancing, Philo had
curiously little influence. No doubt there was a tendency to regard his
teaching as mainly an attempt to read a Platonic meaning into Jewish
doctrine, and certainly the large amount of attention he devoted to
exegesis of the Old Testament and to Jewish apologetics would prevent
his works from receiving serious attention from non-Jewish readers.
Again, although his ideas about monotheism and the nature of God were
those to which Platonism was tending, they represent also a Jewish
attitude which, starting from a monotheistic stand-point was then,
under Hellenistic influence, making towards a supra-sensual idea of
God, explaining away the anthropomorphisms of the Old Testament and
postulating an emanation, the _Hochma_ or “wisdom” of God as the
intermediary in creation and revelation. Undoubtedly Philo, or the
Philonic school of Hellenistic Judaism, was responsible for the Logos
doctrine which appears in the portions of the New Testament bearing the
name of St. John. He had an influence also on Jewish thought as appears
in the Targums where the operative emanation which proceeds from the
First Cause is no longer the “wisdom” of God but the “Word.” He seems
to have had no influence at all on the course of Alexandrian philosophy

The tendencies which were at work in Philo were also leavening
Greek thought outside Jewish circles and all schools of philosophy
show a growing definiteness in their assertion of One God eternal
and invariable, as the source and First Cause of the universe. It is
a recognition of the principal of uniformity in nature and of the
necessity of accounting for the cause of this uniformity. The Gnostic
sects, which were of philosophical origin, simply show the definite
acceptance of this First Cause and, having accepted it as on a plane
far removed above imperfection and variation, suggest intermediary
emanations as explaining the production of an imperfect and variable
universe from a primary source which is itself perfect and unchanging.
The descriptive accounts of the successive emanations, each less
perfect than that from which it proceeds, which ultimately produced
the world in which we perceive phenomena, are different in different
Gnostic systems, often crude enough and grotesque in our eyes, and
frequently drawing from Christianity or Judaism or some other of the
oriental religions which were then attracting the attention of the
Roman world. But these details are of minor importance. All Gnostic
theories bear witness to the belief that there is a First Cause,
absolutely real, perfect, eternal, and far removed above this world
of time and space, and that some emanation or emanations must have
intervened to connect the resultant world, such as we know it, with
this sublime Cause: and such belief indicates in crude form a general
conviction which was getting hold of all current thought in the early
centuries of the Christian era.

Complementary to this was the psychological teaching represented by
the Aristotelian commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias who taught at
Athens, A.D. 198-211. His extant works include commentaries on the
first book of the Analytica Priora, on the Topica, Meteorology, _de
sensu_, the first five books of the Metaphysics and an abridgment of
the other books of the Metaphysics, as well as treatises on the soul,
etc. Over and over again his treatise on the soul and his commentaries
are translated into Arabic, paraphrased, and made the subject of
further commentaries, until it seems that his psychology is the very
nucleus of all Arabic philosophy, and it is this which forms the main
point of the Arabic influence on Latin scholasticism. It becomes indeed
absolutely essential that we understand the Alexandrian interpretation
of the Aristotelian psychology if we are to follow the oriental
development of Greek science.

The first point is to understand what is to be implied in the term
“soul.” Plato was really a dualist in that he regards the soul as a
separate entity which animates the body and compares it to a rider
directing and controlling the horse he rides. But Aristotle makes a
more careful analysis of psychological phenomena. In the treatise _de
anima_ he says “there is no need to enquire whether soul and body are
one, any more than whether the wax and the imprint are one; or, in
general, whether the matter of a thing is the same with that of which
it is the matter.” (Aristot: _de anima_. II. i. 412. b. 6.) Aristotle
defines the soul as “the first actuality of a natural body having in
it the capacity of life” (id. 412. b. 5), in which “first” denotes
that the soul is the primary form by which the substance of the body
is actualized, and “actuality” refers to the actualizing principle
by which form is given to the body which otherwise would be only a
collection of separate parts each having its own form but the aggregate
being without corporate unity until the soul gives it form; in this
sense the soul is the realization of the body (cf. Aristot: _Metaph._
iii. 1043. a. 35). A dead body lacks this actualizing and centralizing
force and is only a collection of limbs and organs, yet even so it is
not an artificial collection such as a man might put together, but “a
natural body having in it the capacity of life,” that is to say, an
organic structure designed for a soul which is the cause or reason of
its existence and which alone enables the body to realize its object.

The soul contains four different faculties or powers which are not
strictly to be taken as “parts” though in the passage cited above
Aristotle uses the term “parts.” These are, (i) the nutritive, the
power of life whereby the body performs such functions as absorbing
nourishment, propagating its species, and other functions common to
all living beings, whether animal or vegetable: (ii) the sensible, by
which the body obtains knowledge through the medium of the special
senses of sight, hearing, touch, etc., and also the “common sense” by
means of which these perceptions are combined, compared, and contrasted
so that general ideas are obtained which ultimately rest on the
sense perceptions: (iii) the locomotive, which prompts to action, as
desire, appetite, will, etc., also based, though indirectly, on sense
perception, being suggested by memories of senses already in action:
(iv) the intellect or pure reason, which is concerned with abstract
thought and is not based on sense perception. All these, embracing life
in its widest application, are classed together as soul, but the last,
the intellect, _nous_, or rational soul, is peculiar to man alone. It
does not depend on the senses, directly or indirectly, and so, whilst
the other three faculties necessarily cease to function when the
bodily organs of sense cease, it does not necessarily follow that this
rational soul will cease as it is apparently independent of the organ
sense. This _nous_ or “spirit” is reduced by Aristotle to a much more
restricted range than is usual in the older philosophers and is taken
to mean that which has the capacity of abstract knowledge, independent
of the information due, directly or indirectly, to sense perception. It
would seem, however, to be a distinct species of faculty for Aristotle
says: “As regards intellect and the speculative faculty the case is not
yet clear. It would seem, however, to be a distinct species of soul,
and it alone is capable of separation from the body, as that which is
eternal from that which is perishable. The remaining parts of the soul
are, as the foregoing consideration shows, not separable in the way
that some allege them to be: at the same time it is clear that they
are logically distinct.” (Arist. _de anima._ II. ii. 413. b. 9). It is
suggested that (i) the rational soul is of a distinct species and so
presumably derived from a different source than the other faculties
of the soul, but nothing is said as to whence it is derived: (ii) it
is capable of existence independently of the body, that is to say its
activity does not depend on the operation of the bodily organs, but it
is not stated that it does so exist; (iii) it is eternal on the ground
that it can exist apart from the perishable.

The obscurity of this statement has led to a great divergence in its
treatment by commentators. Theophrastus offers cautious suggestions
and evidently regards the rational soul as differing only in degree of
evolution from the lower forms of soul faculty. It was Alexander of
Aphrodisias who opened up new fields of speculation, distinguishing
between a material intellect and an active intellect. The former is a
faculty of the individual soul and this it is which is the form of the
body, but it means no more than the capacity for thinking and is of
the same source as the other faculties of the human soul. The active
intellect is not a part of the soul but is a power which enters it
from outside and arouses the material intellect to activity; it is
not only different in source from the material soul, but different
in character in that it is eternal and so always has been and always
will be, its rational power existing quite apart from the soul in
which the thinking takes place; there is but one such substance and
this must be identified with the deity who is the First Cause of all
motion and activity, so that the active intellect is pictured as an
emanation from the deity entering the human soul, arousing it to the
exercise of its higher functions, and then returning to its divine
source. This theistic interpretation of Aristotle was strongly opposed
by the commentator Themistius who considers that Alexander forces
the statement of the text out of its natural meaning and draws an
unwarrantable deduction from the two sentences “these differences must
be present in the soul,” and “this alone is immortal and eternal.” It
seems, however, that Alexander’s interpretation played an important
part in the formation of neo-Platonic theory, and it certainly is
the key to the history of Muslim philosophy, and is not without its
importance in the development of Christian mysticism.

The neo-Platonic school was founded by Ammonius Saccas, but really
takes its definite form under _Plotinus_ (d. 269 A.D.). In sketching in
brief outline the leading principles of this system we shall confine
ourselves to the last three books of the _Enneads_ (iv-vi) as these,
in the abridged form known as the “Theology of Aristotle” formed the
main statement of neo-Platonic doctrine known to the Muslim world.
In the teaching of Plotinus God is the Absolute, the First Potency
(_Enn._ 5. 4. 1.), beyond the sphere of existence (id. 5. 4. 2.), and
beyond reality, that is to say, all that we know as existence and being
is inapplicable to him, and he is therefore unknowable, because on
a plane which is altogether beyond our thought. He is unlimited and
infinite (id. 6. 5. 9.) and consequently One, as infinity excludes
the possibility of any other than himself on the same plane of being.
Yet Plotinus does not allow the numeral “one” to be applied to God
as numerals are understandable and refer to the plane of existence
in which we have our being, so that “one” as a mere number is not
attributed to God, but rather singularity in the sense of an exclusion
of all comparison or of any other than himself. As Absolute God
implies a compelling necessity so that all which proceeds from him
is not enforced but is necessarily so in the sense that nothing else
is possible; thus, for example, it results from him that two sides
of a triangle are greater than the third side, they are not forced
into greater length, but in the nature of things must be so, and this
necessary nature has its compelling source in the First Cause. Yet
Plotinus will not allow us to say that God “wills” anything, for will
implies a desire for what is not possessed or is not yet present (id.
5. 3. 12); will operates in time and space, but necessity has for
ever proceeded from the Eternal One who does not act in time. Nor can
we conceive God as knowing, conscious, or thinking, all terms which
describe our mental activities in the world of variable phenomena; he
is all-knowing by immediate apprehension ([Greek: athroa epibolê] ἀθρόα
ἐπιβολή) which in no way resembles the operation of thought but is
superconscious, a condition which Plotinus describes as “wakefulness”
([Greek: egrêgorsis] ἐγρήγορσις), a perpetual being aware without the
need of obtaining information.

From the true God, the eternal Absolute, proceeds the _nous_, a term
which has been variously rendered as Reason, Intellect, Intelligence,
or Spirit, this last being the term which Dr. Inge regards as the best
expression (Inge: _Plotinus._ ii. p. 38), and this _nous_ is fairly
equivalent to the Philonic and Christian _Logos_. An external emanation
is necessitated in order that the First Cause may remain unchanged
which would not be the case if it had once not been a source and then
had become the source of emanation; there can be no “becoming” in the
First Cause. The emanation is of the same nature as its cause, but is
projected into the world of phenomena. It is self-existent, eternal,
and perfect, and comprehends within itself the “spirit world,” the
objects of abstract reason, the whole of the reality which lies behind
the world of phenomena; the things perceived are only the shadows of
these real ones. It perceives, not as seeking and finding, but as
already possessing (id. 5. 1. 4.), and the things perceived are not
separate or external but as included and apprehended by immediate
intuition (id. 5. 2. 2.)

From the _nous_ proceeds the _psyche_, the principle of life and
motion, the world soul which is in the universe and which is shared by
every living creature. It also knows, but only through the processes of
reasoning, by means of separating, distributing, and combining the data
obtained by sense perception, so that it corresponds in function to
the “common sense” of Aristotle, whilst the _nous_ shows the functions
which are attributed to it by Aristotle and has the character which
Alexander reads into Aristotle.

The work of Plotinus was continued by his pupil Porphyry (d. 300 A.D.)
who taught at Rome, and is chiefly noteworthy as the one who completed
the fusion of Platonic and Aristotelian elements in the neo-Platonic
system, and especially as introducing the scientific methods of
Aristotle. Plotinus had criticized adversely the Aristotelian
categories (_Enn._ vi.), but Porphyry and all the later neo-Platonists
returned to Aristotle. Indeed, he is best known to posterity as the
author of the _Isagoge_, long current as the regular introduction to
the logical Organon of Aristotle. Then came _Jamblichus_ (d. 330),
the pupil of Porphyry who used neo-Platonism as the basis of a pagan
theology; and finally Proklus (d. 485) its last great pagan adherent
who was even more definitely a theologian.

Neo-Platonism was the system just coming to the forefront when the
Christians of Alexandria began to be in contact with philosophy. The
first prominent Alexandrian Christian who endeavoured to reconcile
philosophy and Christian theology was _Clement of Alexandria_ who,
like Justin Martyr, was a Platonist of the older type. Clement’s
_Stromateis_ is a very striking work which shows the general body of
Christian doctrine adapted to the theories of Platonic philosophy.
It does not tamper with the traditional Christian doctrine, but it
is evidently the work of one who sincerely believed that Plato had
partially foreseen what the Gospels taught, and that he had used a
clear and efficient terminology which was in all respects suitable
for the expression of profound truths, and so Clement uses this
terminology, incidentally assuming the Platonic metaphysics, and so
unconsciously modifies the contents of Christianity. If we ask whether
this results in a fair presentation of Christian teaching we shall
perhaps be inclined to admit that, in spite of modification and in view
of the scientific attitude of the times it substantially does so: when
truths already expressed by those who have not received a scientific
training are repeated by those who have and who are careful to cast
their expression into logical and consistent form, some modification is
inevitable. Whether the scientific assumptions and philosophy generally
of Clement were correct is, of course, another matter; modern opinion
would say it was incorrect. But, so far as contemporary science went,
it was obviously an honest effort. It has not been appreciated by all
Clement’s successors and he is one of the few Christian leaders who
has been formally deprived of the honorific title of “saint” which
was at one time prefixed to his name. Within the next few centuries
the re-formulation of Christianity proceeded steadily until at last
it appears as essentially Hellenistic, but with the Platonic element
now modified by the more spiritualistic influences of neo-Platonism.
Undoubtedly this was a gain for Christianity, for when we read the
_Didache_ and other early non-Hellenistic Christian material we cannot
help feeling that it shows a narrower and more cramped outlook and one
far less suited to satisfy the needs and aspirations of humanity at
large. It is curious to compare Clement of Alexandria with Tertullian,
one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of the literary lights of
Latin Christianity, but severe, puritanically rigid, and suspicious
and hostile in his attitude towards philosophy which he regards as
essentially pagan.

The next great leader of Alexandrian Christian thought was Origen
himself a pupil of Plotinus, and one who found little difficulty in
adapting contemporary philosophy to Christian doctrine, although this
adaptation was by no means received with approval in all parts of
the Christian community. Under Clement and Origen the catechetical
instruction which was regularly given in all churches to candidates
for baptism was expanded and developed on the lines of the lectures
given by the philosophers in the Museum, and so a Christian school of
philosophical theology was formed. This development was not regarded
favourably by the older fashioned churches nor by the philosophers of
the Museum, and even amongst the Alexandrian Christians there was a
section which viewed it with disapproval, especially evident when the
school became so prominent that it tended to overshadow the ordinary
diocesan organization.

This is not the place to consider the various intrigues which
ultimately compelled Origen to leave Alexandria and retire to
Palestine. There, at Caesarea, he founded a school on the model of
that at Alexandria. This second foundation did not attain the same
eminence as its proto-type, perhaps because Origen’s influence turned
its activities into a direction too highly specialised in textual
criticism, but it prompted a development which ultimately played an
important part in the history of the Syrian church where, for some time
to come, theological activity mainly centered in these schools which
had their imitators amongst the Zoroastrians and the Muslims. The first
such school in Syria was founded at Antioch by Malchion about 270 A.D.
and deliberately copied the pattern set at Alexandria and ultimately
became its rival.

About fifty years later a school was established at Nisibis, the
modern Nasibin on the Mygdonius river, in the midst of a Syriac
speaking community. The church had spread inland from the Mediterranean
shores and had by this time many converts in the hinterland who were
accustomed to use Syriac and not Greek. For the benefit of these the
work at Nisibis was done in Syriac, Syriac versions were prepared of
the theological works studied at Antioch, and the Greek language was
taught so that the Syriac speaking Christians were brought into closer
touch with the life of the Church at large.

The acquiescence of the Church in the Alexandrian philosophy had
far-reaching consequences. The Church did not officially adopt the
neo-Platonic philosophy in its entirety, but it had to adjust itself
to an atmosphere in which the neo-Platonic system was accepted as the
last word in scientific enquiry and where the Aristotelian metaphysics
and psychology were assumed as an established and unquestionable
basis of knowledge. It was impossible for churchmen, educated in this
atmosphere, to do otherwise than accept these principles, just as it
is impossible for us to admit that the body of a saint can be in two
places at once, our whole education training us to assume certain
limitations of time and space, although a devout Muslim of Morocco can
believe it and honours two shrines as each containing the body of the
same saint who, he believes, in his life time had power of over-passing
the limitations of space. The general postulates of the later Platonic
and Aristotelian philosophy were firmly established in the fourth
century in Alexandria and its circle, and were no more open to question
than the law of gravity or the rotundity of the earth would be to us.
It was known that there were people who questioned these things, but
it could only be accounted for by blind ignorance in those who had
not received the benefits of an enlightened education. The Christians
were no more able to dispute these principles than anyone else. They
were perfectly sincere in their religion, many articles of faith
which present considerable difficulty to the modern mind presented no
difficulty to them; but it was perfectly obvious that the statements of
Christian doctrine must be brought into line with the current theory of
philosophy, or with self evident truth as they would have termed it. It
shows a strange lack of historical imagination when we talk slightingly
about how Christians quarrelled over words, forgetting what these words
represented and how they stood for the established conclusions of
philosophy as then understood.

This comes out very plainly in the Arian controversy. Both sides
agreed that Christ was the Son of God, the relation of Father and
Son being, of course, not that of human parentage but rather by way
of emanation: both agreed that Christ was God, as the emanation
necessarily had the same nature as the source from which it proceeded:
both agreed that the Son proceeded from the Father in eternity and
before the worlds were created, the Son or Logos being the intermediary
of creation. But some, and these, it would seem, mainly associated with
the school of Antioch, so spoke of the Son proceeding from the Father
as an event which had taken place far before all time in the remoteness
of eternity, it is true, but so that there was when the Father had not
yet begotten the Son, for, they argued, the Father must have preceded
the Son as the cause precedes the effect, and so the Son was, as it
were, less eternal than the Father. At once the Alexandrians corrected
them. To begin with there are no degrees in eternity: but, most serious
error of all, this idea made God liable to variation, at one period of
eternity he had been alone, and then he had become a father: philosophy
taught that the First Cause, the True God, is liable to no change,
if he is Father now, he must have been so from all eternity: we must
understand the Son as the Logos for ever eternally issuing forth from
the Father as source. The actual merits of the controversy do not at
present concern us: we simply notice the fact that the current Greek
philosophy entirely dominated the theology of the Church and it was
imperative for that theology to be expressed in terms which fitted in
with the philosophy. The result of the Arian struggle was that the
Eastern church came to recognise the Alexandrian philosophy as the
exponent of orthodoxy, and in this it was followed by the greater part
of the Western Church, though the West Goths still remained attached to
the Arian views which they had learned from their first teachers.

By the fifth century Arian doctrine had been completely eliminated
from the state church and Alexandrian philosophy which had been the
chief means of bringing about this result, was dominant, although there
are indications that it was viewed with suspicion in some quarters.
Amongst the controversies which took place in the post-Nicene age the
most prominent are those which concerned the person of the incarnate
Christ, and these are largely questions of psychology. It was generally
admitted that man has a _psyche_ or animal soul which he shares with
the rest of the sentient creatures, and in addition to this a spirit
or rational soul which, under the influence of the neo-Platonists
or of Alexander of Aphrodisias, was regarded as an emanation from
the creative spirit, the Logos or “Agent Intellect,” a belief which
Christian theologians supported by the statement in Genesis that God
breathed into man the breath of life and so man became a living soul.
In fact St. Paul had already distinguished between the two elements,
the animal soul and the immortal spirit, in accordance with the
psychology which had been developed in his time. But Christian theology
supposed that in Christ was also present the eternal Logos which had
been the creative Spirit and of which the spirit or rational soul was
itself an emanation. What, therefore, would be the relation between the
Logos and its own emanation when they came together in the same person?
If the Alexandrian philosophy and the Christian religion were both true
the problem was capable of reasonable solution: if its only answer
was a manifest absurdity then either the psychology or Christianity
was in error, and then, as always, it was assumed that contemporary
science was sure and religion had to be tested by its standard. To this
particular problem two solutions were proposed. The one, especially
maintained at Alexandria, was that the Logos and the rational soul or
spirit, being in the relation of source and emanation, necessarily
fused together when simultaneously present in the same body, the point
being of course that the Logos was the agent of creation, the True
God not acting therein as it was an activity in time, but through the
intermediary of the Logos, whilst the animal soul dispersed through
creation was ultimately derived from the Logos, but the spirit was
directly proceeding from it, all of which represents the philosophical
theory formulated by Alexander of Aphrodisias and the neo-Platonists
and then accepted as unassailable. The other solution, which found
its chief advocates at Antioch, laid stress on the completeness of
the humanity of Christ so that the body, animal soul, and spirit were
necessarily complete in the humanity and the Logos dwelt in the human
frame without subtracting the spirit which was one of the essentials
of humanity, and so there could have been no fusion because this would
have implied the return of the spirit to its source and consequently
its subtraction from the humanity of Christ. This solution, it will be
observed, postulates the same psychology as the other, and whichever
view prevailed the Church would be irrevocably committed to the current
psychology by this definition of its doctrine.

Both solutions offered perfectly logical deductions from the
postulates assumed and it only wanted the advocates of one or the other
to over-state the case so as to transgress against the teachings of
philosophy or of traditional religion. The first false move came from
Antioch. Laying great stress on the completeness of the humanity of
Christ so that body, soul, and spirit were necessarily connected in
the human frame, the view was so expressed as to describe the Virgin
Mary as the mother of the human Christ, body, soul, and spirit alone,
which implied, or seemed to imply, that at birth Christ was man only
and afterwards became God by the Logos entering into the human body, a
conclusion possibly not intended by those who expressed their views but
pressed by their opponents. This had been the teaching of Diodorus and
of Theodore of Mopseustia both associated with the school of Antioch,
and defended in its extremer form by Nestorius, a monk of Antioch, who
was made bishop of Constantinople in A.D. 428. Violent controversies
ensued which resulted in a general council at Ephesus in 431, where
the Alexandrian party succeeded in getting Nestorius and his followers
condemned as heretics. Two years later the Nestorians, absolutely
confident that their opponents were utterly illogical in supposing
that the rational soul and the Logos in Christ were fused or united
together, repudiated the official church and organised themselves as
the Church which had no part with the heretics of Ephesus. The state
Church, however, had the weight of the temporal authority behind it,
and the heavy hand of persecution fell severely upon the Nestorians. In
Antioch and Greek speaking Syria persecution did its work effectually
and the Nestorians were reduced to the position of a fugitive sect, in
Egypt, as might be expected, they had no footing, and the westerns as
usual agreed with the dominant state church: only amongst the Syriac
speaking Christians the Nestorian teaching had a free course, and that
section for the most part adhered to it.

Some time before this the school at Nisibis had been closed, or rather
removed to Edessa. In A.D. 363 the city of Nisibis had been handed over
to the Persians as one of the conditions of the peace which closed the
unfortunate war commenced by Julian, and the members of the school,
retiring into Christian territory, had re-assembled at Edessa, where a
school was opened in 373, and thus Edessa in a Syriac speaking district
but within the Byzantine Empire, became the centre of the vernacular
speaking Syriac church.

At the Nestorian schism the school at Edessa was the rallying place
of those who did not accept the decisions of Ephesus, but in 439 it
was closed by the Emperor Zeno on account of its strong Nestorian
character, and the ejected members led by Barsuma, a pupil of Ibas (d.
457), who had been the great luminary of Edessa, migrated across the
Persian border. Barsuma was able to persuade the Persian king Piruz
that the orthodox, that is to say the state, Church was pro-Greek, but
that the Nestorians were entirely alienated from the Byzantine Empire
by the harsh treatment they had received. On this understanding they
were favourably received and remained loyal to the Persian monarchy
in the subsequent wars with the Empire. The Nestorians re-opened the
school at Nisibis and this became the focus of Nestorian activity by
which an orientalised phase of Christianity was produced. Gradually
the Nestorian missionaries spread through all central Asia and
down into Arabia so that the races outside the Greek Empire came
to know Christianity first in a Nestorian form. It seems probable
that Muhammad had contact with Nestorian teachers (Hirschfeld: _New
Researches._ p. 23), and certainly Nestorian monks and missionaries
had much intercourse with the earlier Muslims. These Nestorians were
not only anxious to teach Christianity but very naturally attached the
utmost importance to their own explanations of the person of Christ.
This could only be made clear by the help of theories drawn from
Greek philosophy, and so every Nestorian missionary became to some
extent a propagandist of that philosophy: they translated into Syriac
not only the great theologians such as Theodore of Mopseustia who
explained their views, but also Greek authorities such as Aristotle
and his commentators because some knowledge of these was necessary to
understand the theology. Much of this work of translation shows a real
desire to explain their teaching, but it shows also a strong resentment
against the Emperor and his state church; as that church used the Greek
language in its liturgy and teaching, the Nestorians were anxious to
discard Greek, they celebrated the sacraments only in Syriac and set
themselves to promote a distinctly native theology and philosophy by
means of translated material and Syriac commentaries. These became
the medium by which Aristotle and the neo-Platonic commentators were
transmitted to Asia outside the Empire, and so later on as we shall
see it was a group of Nestorian translators who, by making Arabic
versions from the Syriac, first brought Hellenistic philosophy to
the Arabic world. But there was also a weak side, for the Nestorian
Church, cut off from the wider life of Hellenism, became distinctly
provincial. Its philosophy plays round and round that prevalent at the
schism, it spreads this philosophy to new countries, it produces an
extensive educational system, and elaborates its material, but it shows
no development. If we regard the main test of educational efficiency
as being in its research product and not simply the promulgation of
material already attained, then Nestorianism was not an educational
success: and it seems that this should be the supreme test, for
knowledge is progressive, and so the smallest contribution towards
further progress must be of more real value than the most efficient
teaching of results already achieved. Yet it would be difficult to
over-estimate the importance of Nestorianism in preparing an oriental
version of Hellenistic culture in the pre-Muslim world. Its main
importance lies in its being preparatory to Islam which brought forward
Arabic as a cosmopolitan medium for the interchange of thought and so
enabled the Syriac material to be used in a wider and more fruitful

Although Nestorius had been condemned, the Church was left with a
problem. The objection was true that, if the Logos and the rational
soul in Christ were fused together so that the rational soul or spirit
lost itself in its source, the Logos dwelt in an animal body and the
full humanity of Christ disappeared. The Nestorian view of a temporary
“connection” was now condemned as heretical, but was it necessary to
go to the other extreme of “fusion” which was the logical result of
the Alexandrian teaching? The Church wished to be philosophically
correct and yet to avoid the conclusions which might be drawn from
either view in its extreme form. In fact philosophy ruthlessly pressed
home was the danger of which the Church was most afraid, feeling in
some dim realm of sub-consciousness that the deposit of faith did
not quite fall into line with science, or at least with the science
then in fashion; and the Church’s real enemies were the enthusiasts
who were confident that doctrine and philosophy were both absolutely
true. Nor have we, even in these days, altogether learned the lesson
that both are still partial and progressive. Islam had to go through
exactly the same experience in her day and came out of it with very
similar results, that is to say both the Christian and Muslim churches
finally chose the _via media_ adopting the philosophical statement of
doctrine but condemning as heretical the logical conclusions which
might be deduced. The Alexandrian school, elated perhaps at its victory
over Nestorius, became rather intemperate in the statement of its
views and pressed them home to an extreme conclusion. At once the
warning prediction of the Nestorians was justified: the teaching of a
“fusion” between the Logos and the rational soul in Christ entirely
undermined his humanity. Another controversy ensued and in this, as in
the former one, neither side suggested any doubt as to the psychology
or metaphysics borrowed from the Aristotelian and neo-Platonic
philosophies, that was throughout assumed as certain, the problem was
to make Christian doctrine fit in with it. Now those who opposed the
Alexandrian conclusions maintained the theory of a “union” between the
Logos and the rational soul in Christ, so that the complete humanity
was preserved as well as the deity, and the union was such as to be
inseparable and so safeguarded from the Nestorian theory. In fact this
was simply admitting the philosophical statement and forbidding its
being pressed home to its possible conclusions. This is described as
“orthodox” doctrine and rightly so in the sense that it expresses,
though in philosophical terms, a doctrine as it was held before the
Church had learned any philosophy, and excluded possible deductions
which came within range as soon as a philosophical statement was made.
This is the normal result when doctrine originally expressed by those
ignorant of philosophy has to be put into logical and scientific terms:
the only orthodox representation of the traditional belief must be a

       *       *       *       *       *

This second controversy resulted in the Council of Chalcedon in A.D.
448, at which the advocates of the theory of “fusion” were expelled
from the state church, and thus a third body was formed, each of the
three claiming to represent the true faith. Practically the whole
of the Egyptian Church followed the “fusionists” or Monophysites or
Jacobites, as they were called after Jacob of Serugh, who was mainly
instrumental in organizing them as a church: in Syria also they had
a strong following. Like the Nestorians they were persecuted by the
Emperor and the state church, but unlike them they did not migrate
outside the Byzantine Empire, but remained an important though strongly
disaffected body within its limits, though later on they sent out
off-shoots into other lands. Like the Nestorians they tended to discard
the language of their persecutors and to use the vernacular Coptic and
Syriac: it is rightly claimed that the golden age of Syriac literature
and philosophy begins with the Monophysite schism. A curious line of
demarcation however, is observed in Syriac between the Jacobites in
the West and the Nestorians in the East: they used different dialects,
which is probably the result of their geographical distribution,
and they used different scripts in writing which was partly due to
deliberate intension, though partly also to the use of slightly
different implements for writing.

When we consider the results of the Monophysite and Nestorian schisms
we begin to understand why so much Greek philosophical material was
translated into Syriac, whilst the Nestorian movement was the effective
reason why Syriac gradually became the medium for transmitting
Hellenistic culture into the parts of Asia which lay beyond the
confines of the Byzantine Empire during the centuries immediately
preceding the outspread of Islam. It is obvious that the late
Aristotelian and neo-Platonic philosophers were of vital importance to
everyone engaged in the theological controversies of the day, and the
Aristotelian logic was of equal importance as on it depended the way
in which terms were used. After their separation from the Greek Church
the Nestorians and Monophysites turned to the vernacular speaking
Christians, and so a large body of philosophical as well as theological
matter was translated into Syriac; very much less into Coptic, for the
Egyptian Monophysites were not called upon to face so much controversy
as their brethren in Syria.

The period between the schisms and the beginning of Muslim interest in
philosophy was one of prolific translation, commenting, and exposition.
Whilst there is much interest in tracing the literary history of a
nation, there is comparatively little in following the history of
a literature which is confined to activities of this sort, for it
cannot be much more than a list of names. Commentary and essay might
indeed open up a field of originality, but nothing of the sort appears
in this type of Syriac work: it seems as though the provincialism
which followed severance from the Greek world brought in narrowing
restrictions so that, although we get able and diligent workers, they
never seem able to advance beyond re-statement, more or less accurate,
of results already achieved.

Besides philosophy and theology we find a considerable interest in
medicine and the two sciences of chemistry and astronomy which were
treated as allied to it, for astronomy, regarded from the astrological
point of view, was supposed to be closely associated with the
conditions of life and death, of health and disease. Medical studies
were especially attached to the school of Alexandria. Philosophy
proper had been so largely taken over by theology that the secular
investigators were rather impelled to turn to the natural sciences
and as a centre of medical and allied studies the ancient school of
Alexandria continued its development without loss of continuity, but
under changed conditions. John Philoponus, or John the Grammarian,
as he was called, was one of the later commentators on Aristotle and
also one of the early lights of this medical school. The date of his
death is not known, but he was teaching at Alexandria at the time
when Justinian closed the schools at Athens in A.D. 529. The next
great leader of this school was Paul of Aegina who flourished at the
time of the Muslim conquest, and whose works long served as popular
manuals of medicine. The founders of the medical school at Alexandria
established a regular course of education for the training of medical
practitioners, and for this purpose selected sixteen works of Galen,
some of which were re-edited in an abridged form, and were made the
subject of regular explanatory lectures. At the same time the school
became a centre of original research, not only in medicine, but also in
chemistry and other branches of natural science. Thus, on the eve of
the Muslim conquest Alexandria had become a great home of scientific
enquiry. To some extent this was unfortunate as the existing traditions
in Egypt directed those investigations very much into obscurantist
lines and tended to the use of magical forms, talismans, etc., and
to introduce an astrological bias. This afterwards became the great
defect of Arabic medicine as appears later even in mediæval Padua, but
it was not the fault of Islam, it was an inheritance from Alexandria.
Such material as remains of Syriac research shows us a saner and
sounder method in vogue there, but Alexandria had eclipsed the Syrian
scientists at the time of the Muslim invasion, at least in popular
esteem, and this was a determining factor in directing Arabic research
into these astrological by-paths.

Amongst the famous products of this school was Paul of Aegina, whose
medical works formed the basis of much of the mediæval Arabic and
Latin teaching, and the priest Ahrun (Aaron) who composed a manual
of medicine which was afterwards translated into Syriac and became a
popular authority. Alexandria was the centre also of chemical science,
and as such was the parent of later Arabic alchemy. It appears from M.
Berthelot’s exhaustive study of Arabic chemistry (_La chimie au moyen
age_: Paris, 1893) that the Arabic material may be divided into two
classes, the one based upon, and mainly translated from, the Greek
writers current in Alexandria, the other representing a later school
of independent investigation. Of the former class Berthelot gives
three specimens, the Books of Crates, of al-Habid, and of Ostanes, all
representing the Greek tradition which flourished at Alexandria on the
eve of the Muslim invasion.

Whilst the Alexandrians kept alive an interest in medical and the
allied sciences the separated branches of the vernacular speaking
churches of Asia were more interested in logic and speculative
philosophy. It was perhaps natural that the Monophysites with their
strong Egyptian connection should adopt the commentaries of John
Philoponus, himself a Monophysite of a type, but both they and the
Nestorians invariably used Porphyry’s _Isagoge_ as an introductory
manual. In the general treatment of metaphysics and psychology as
applied to theology, and in the treatment of theology itself, the
Monophysites inclined more towards neo-Platonism and mysticism than the
Nestorians, and their life centered more in the monasteries, whilst
the Nestorians adhered rather to the older system of local schools,
although they too had monasteries, and in course of time the schools
adopted the discipline and methods of the convent.

The oldest and greatest of the Nestorian schools was that of Nisibis,
but in A.D. 550 Mar Ahba, a convert from Zoroastrianism, who had become
_catholicos_ or patriarch of the Nestorians, established a school at
Seleucia on the model of Nisibis. A little later the Persian king,
Kusraw Anushirwan (Nushirwan, flor. 531-578 A.D.) who had been greatly
impressed by the view of Hellenistic culture which he had obtained
during his war with Syria, and had offered hospitality to the ejected
Greek philosophers when Justinian closed the schools at Athens,
founded a Zoroastrian school at Junde-Shapur, in Khuzistan, where not
only Greek and Syriac works, but also philosophical and scientific
writings brought from India, were translated into Pahlawi, or Old
Persian, and there the study of medicine taught by Greek and Indian
physicians was developed more fully than in the theological atmosphere
of the Christian schools, although some of the most distinguished
medical teachers in this school were themselves Nestorian Christians.
Amongst the alumni of Junde-Shapur were the Arab Hares b. Kalada,
who afterwards became famous as a practitioner, and his son Ennadr,
cited in the 5th canon of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), an enemy of the Prophet
Muhammad who was amongst those defeated at the battle of Badr and was
put to death by `Ali. Several Indian medical writers are cited by
Razes and others, notably Sharak and Qolhoman, whilst the treatise on
poisons by the Indian Shanak was, at a later date, translated into
Persian by Manka for Yahya b. Khalid the Barmecide and afterwards
into Arabic for the `Abbasid Khalif al-Ma´mun. Manka, who was medical
attendant to Harunu r-Rashid, translated from Sanskrit various medical
and other works. Besides the Christian and Zoroastrian schools there
was also a pagan school at Harran, of whose foundation we have no
further information. Harran had been a centre of Hellenic influence
from the time of Alexander the Great and remained a refuge for the old
Greek religion when the Greek world at large had become Christian.
Although it would appear that Harran had an inheritance from the
ancient Babylonian religion, which had a late revival during the first
centuries of the Christian era, this had been entirely overlaid with
the developments of paganism as revised by the neo-Platonists. Indeed
Harran shows the last stand of Greek paganism and neo-Platonism as the
two had been formulated by Porphyry and they continued there to live
out a vigorous though secluded life.

There were thus several agencies at work developing and extending
Hellenistic influence in Persia and Mesopotamia which later on became
a Persian province, and besides these established schools there were
many secondary forces. The Persian armies returning from the invasion
of Syria brought back many items of Hellenic culture, amongst them the
Greek system of baths which was copied in Persia and continued by the
Muslims who spread this refinement throughout the Islamic world, so
that what we call the Turkish bath is a lineal descendant of the old
Greek bath passed through the Persians of pre-Muslim times, and then
spread more widely by the Muslims. These armies brought home also a
great admiration for Greek architecture and engineering, and Greek
architects, engineers, and craftsmen being amongst the most valued
plunder brought back from Syria, by their help Persia endeavoured to
start building in the Greek style. Thus the centuries immediately
before the outspread of Islam show a wide and steady extension of
Hellenistic influences in all the different forms of culture, in
science, philosophy, art, architecture, and in the luxuries of life:
and even before this, ever since the days of Alexander the Great, there
had been a percolation of Greek influence, so that Western Asia was
steeped in Hellenistic art, in many cases very crudely represented
and combined with native elements. When the oppressive control of the
Umayyads was lifted and the native population came again to its own, we
can hardly wonder that this meant a revival of Hellenism.

We have already mentioned _Ibas_ (d. 457) as the teacher of Barsuma who
led the Nestorian migration into Persia and re-opened the school of
Nisibis. This Ibas had been the great luminary of the school of Edessa
in its last days and seems to have been the first to make a Syriac
translation of Porphyry’s _Isagoge_, the recognised manual of logic
preparatory to Aristotle’s Organon. This shows that logic had been
taken as the chief material of education amongst the Nestorians and
very much the same seems to have been the case amongst the Monophysites.

About the same time flourished _Probus_, who is said to have been
a presbyter of Antioch, and produced commentaries upon Porphyry’s
_Isagoge_, and on Aristotle’s _Hermeneutica_, _Soph. Elench._, and
_Analytica Priora_, these commentaries becoming favourite manuals
amongst the Syriac speaking students of logic. Hoffman’s _De
Hermeneuticis apud Syros_ (Leipzic, 1873) gives the text of the
commentary on the _Hermeneutica_ followed by a Latin translation. The
method employed here and in all Syriac commentaries is to take a short
passage, often no more than a few words, of the Text of Aristotle
translated into Syriac and then give an explanation of the meaning
sometimes extending to several pages, sometimes only a brief remark,
according to the difficulty of the text, very much as if a teacher
were reading aloud and explaining passages by passage as he read. This
became the usual method of commenting and was afterwards copied by the
Muslims in their commentaries on the Qur´an. The commentary on the
_Isagoge_ has been published by Baumstark (_Aristotles bei den Syrern_,
Leipzic, 1900), and that on the _Analytica Priora_ by the great Louvain
scholar Prof. Hoonacker in the _Journal Asiatique_ for July-August,

The greatest of the Monophysite scholars was _Sergius_ of Ras
al-`Ayn (d. 536), who was both a translator and the author of original
treatises on philosophy, medicine, and astronomy. His medical work
was his chief interest and he left a permanent mark as a translator
into Syriac of a considerable part of Galen. He spent some time in
Alexandria where he perfected himself in a knowledge of Greek and
learned chemistry and medicine in the Alexandrian medical school
then just beginning its career. Some of his translation of Galen
is preserved in the British Mus. MSS. Addit. 14661 and 17156: in
the latter are fragments of the “Medical art” and “Faculties of the
aliments” which have been edited by Sachau (Inedita Syriaca, Vienna,
1870). Of his philosophical work Sachau has given us the versions which
he made of the _Isagoge_ and _Table_ of Porphyry, and Aristotle’s
_Categories_ and the dubious _de mundo_, as well as a treatise on “the
soul” which is not the _de anima_ of Aristotle. He wrote original
treatises on logic in seven books (incomplete--Brit. Mus. Add. 14660
contains that on the categories), on “negation and affirmation,” on
“genus, species, and individual,” on “the causes of the universe
according to Aristotle” and minor essays. In astronomy he has left a
tract “on the influence of the moon” which is based on the work of
Galen (cf. Sachau, op. cit.) The writings of Sergius circulated amongst
both Nestorians and Monophysites, all regarding him as a leading
authority on medicine and logic, and in medicine it seems that he
was the founder of a Syriac school which became the parent of Arabic
medicine, certainly that school owed its impetus to him. Bar Hebraeus
refers to him as “a man eloquent and greatly skilled in the books of
the Greeks and Syrians and a most learned physician of men’s bodies. He
was indeed orthodox in his opinions, as the ‘Prologue’ bears witness,
but in morals corrupt, depraved, and stained with lust and avarice”
(Bar Hebraeus. ed. Abbeloos et Lamy. i. 205-7).

In the same century lived _Ahudemmeh_ who became bishop of Tagrit in
A.D. 559, and introduced the commentary of John Philoponus as the
regular manual of instruction amongst the Syriac speaking Monophysites.
He is said to have composed treatises on the definitions of logic, on
the freedom of the will, on the soul, on man considered as a microcosm,
and on the composition of man as of soul and body, this last in part
preserved in MS. Brit. Mus. Addit. 14620.

Amongst the Nestorian scholars of the sixth century was _Paul the
Persian_ who produced a treatise on logic which he dedicated to King
Khusraw and has been published in M. Land’s _Analecta Syriaca_ (iv).

This has brought us to the period of the Muslim invasion. In 638 Syria
was conquered, and the conquest of Mesopotamia followed in the course
of the same year, that of Persia four years later. In 661 the Umayyad
dynasty of Arab rulers was established in Damascus; but all this did
not greatly affect the internal life of the Christian communities who
lived on in perfect liberty, subject only to the payment of the poll

About 650 the Nestorian Henanieshu´ wrote a treatise on logic (cf.
Budge: _Thomas of Marga_. i. 79) and commented on John Philoponus.

The Monophysites had no great schools like the Nestorians, but their
convent at Qensherin, on the left bank of the Euphrates, was a great
centre of Greek studies. Its most famous product was _Severus Sebokt_
who flourished on the eve of the Muslim conquest. He was the author
of a commentary on Aristotle’s _Hermeneutica_ of which only fragments
survive, of a treatise on the syllogisms of the _Analytica Priora_,
and of epistles dealing with terms used in the _Hermeneutica_ and on
the difficult points in Aristotle’s _Rhetoric_ (cf. Brit. Mus. Add.
14660, 17156). In astronomy he wrote on “the Figures of the Zodiac” and
on “the Astrolabe,” the former of these is preserved in Br. Mus. Add.
14538 and has been published by Sachau (op. cit.), the latter in Berlin
MS. Sachau 186 and published by Nau in the _Journal Asiatique_ of 1899.

Athanasius of Balad who became Monophysite patriarch in 684 was a pupil
of Severus Sebokt, and is chiefly known as the translator of a new
Syriac version of Porphyry’s _Isagoge_ (Vatican Ms. Syr. 158. cf. Bar
Hebraeus _Chron. Eccles._ ed. Abbeloos et Lamy. i. 287).

_James of Edessa_ (d. 708 A.D.) also was a pupil of Severus Sebokt
at the same convent, was made bishop of Edessa about 684 and
abandoned this see in 688 as the result of his failure to carry out
the reformation of the monasteries in his diocese: he retired to the
monastery of St. James at Kaishun, between Aleppo and Edessa, but left
this to become lecturer at the monastery of Eusebona, in the diocese of
Antioch where “for eleven years he taught the psalms and the reading
of the scriptures in Greek and revived the Greek language which had
fallen into disuse” (Bar Hebr. _Chron. Eccles._ i. 291). Attacked by
the brethren who disapproved of the study of Greek, he migrated to
the monastery of Tel`eda where he prepared a revised version of the
Peshitta or Syriac Vulgate of the Old Testament, finally returning
to Edessa about four months before his death. His _Enchiridion_, a
treatise on the terms used in philosophy, is preserved in the Brit.
Mus. MS. Addit. 12154.

_George_, who became “bishop of the Arabs” in 686, was himself a pupil
of Athanasius of Balad and translated the whole logical Organon of
Aristotle, of which his versions of the _Catagories_, _Hermeneutica_,
and _Analytica Priora_ appear in Brit. Mus. Addit. 14659, each
furnished with an introduction and commentary.

These names cover the whole period between the two schisms and
the Muslim invasion and suffice to show that the Syriac speaking
community continued diligent in the study of the Aristotelian logic
and metaphysics, and also gave attention to medical and scientific
studies. It is not exactly a brilliant or original form of cultural
activity, for the most part it was only the transmission of received
texts with the preparation of new translations, commentaries, and
explanatory treatises, but this itself fulfilled an important function.
The Muslim invasion made no change in the course of these studies: the
Umayyads did not interfere with the schools and the Syriac students
went their own way living a life quite apart from that of their Arab
rulers. Now and then unscrupulous or angry clergy appealed to the
Khalif against their fellow clergy and this was the commonest cause
of interference which the historians describe as persecution. Such
was the experience of _Henanieshu´_ who became Nestorian Catholicos
in A.D. 686. The bishop of Nisibis made complaints against him to the
Khalif `Abdul-Malik in consequence of which he was deposed, imprisoned,
and then thrown over a cliff. He was not killed by his fall, though
severely lamed; by the kindness of some shepherds he was sheltered and
nursed back to health, and then retired to the monastery of Yannan near
Mosul, resuming his patriarchal office after the death of the bishop of
Nisibis, and holding it until his own death in 701 (Bar Heb. _Chron.
Eccles._ Abbeloos et Lamy. ii. 135-140). Besides sermons, letters, and
a biography of Dewada, he wrote an educational treatise on “the twofold
duty of the school” as a place of religious and moral influence on the
one hand, and of an academy of the humanities on the other (cf. Asseman
BO.) iii. part I. 154 and also an “Explanation of the Analytica” (id).

_Mar Abha III._ became Nestorian Catholicos somewhere about 740 (133
A.H.) and produced a commentary on Aristotle’s logic (cf. Bar Heb. ii.

This brings us down to the period when the Muslim world began to
take an interest in these philosophical and scientific studies, and
translations and commentaries began to appear in Arabic. But Syriac
studies did not at once disappear and it will be convenient to
enumerate briefly some of those who appeared in later times down to
the age of Bar Hebraeus (d. A.D. 1286), with whom the literary history
of Syriac comes to an end. In the latter part of the eighth century we
find _Jeshudena_ bishop of Basra writing an “introduction to logic.”
Shortly afterwards _Jeshubokt_ metropolitan of Persia wrote on the
Categories (cf. _Journ. Asiat._ May-June. 1906). Hunayn b. Ishaq,
his son Ishaq, and his nephew Hubaysh, with some other companions,
formed the college of translators established at Baghdad by the Khalif
al-Ma´mun to render the Greek and other philosophical and scientific
texts into Arabic, a work to which we shall refer again; but Hunayn,
who was a Nestorian Christian, was also occupied in making translations
from the Greek into Syriac: he prepared, or revised, Syriac versions
of Porphyry’s _Isagoge_, Aristotle’s _Hermeneutica_, part of the
_Analytica_, the _de generatione et corruptione_, the _de anima_,
part of the _Metaphysics_, the _Summa_ of Nicolas of Damascus, the
Commentary of Alexander of Aphrodisias, and the greater part of the
works of Galen, Dioscorus, Paul of Aegina, and Hippocrates. His son
Ishaq also made a translation of Aristotle’s _de anima_, and it is
significant that this treatise and the commentary of Alexander Aphr.
now begins to take the most prominent place in philosophical study; the
centre of interest is moving from logic to psychology. About the same
time the physician _John Bar Maswai_ (d. A.D. 857) composed various
medical works in Syriac and Arabic. He, like Hunayn, was one of the
intellectual group which the `Abbasids gathered together in their new
capital city of Baghdad. Contemporary also were the Syriac writers
_Denha_ (or _Ibas_) who compiled a commentary on the Aristotelian
logical Organon: _Abzud_, the author of a poetical essay on the
divisions of philosophy, and then, after a series of minor writers on
logic, _Dionysius Bar Salibi_ in the twelfth century A.D., who composed
commentaries on the _Isagoge_, the _Categories_, _Hermeneutica_, and
_Analytica_; and in the early part of the following century _Yaqub Bar
Shakako_, author of a collection of “Dialogues” of which the second
book deals with philosophical questions of logic, physics, mathematics,
and metaphysics.

The series of Syriac philosophical writers closes with _Gregory Bar
Hebraeus_, or _Abu l-Faraj_ in the thirteenth century A.D. whose “Book
of the Pupils of the Eyes” is a compendium of logic summarising and
explaining the Isagoge, and Aristotle’s Categories, Hermeneutica,
Analytica, Topica, and Sophistica Elenchi; his “Book of the Upholding
of Wisdom” being a summary introduction to logic, physics, metaphysics,
and theology. A third work “The Cream of Science” is an encyclopædia of
the Aristotelian philosophy, and this work appears also in an abridged
form as the “Business of Businesses.” He was also the translator into
Syriac of Dioscorus on simples, and author of a treatise on the medical
_Questions_ of Hunayn b. Ishaq, and of a work on geography called “the
Ascent of the Spirit.” Although esteemed as one of the greatest Syriac
authorities and for centuries holding a place of primary importance, he
was in reality no more than a compiler who produced encyclopædic works
dealing with the researches of his predecessors.

The great importance of the Syriac speaking Christian communities
was as the medium whereby Hellenistic philosophy and science was
transmitted to the Arabic world. There was no independent development
in its Syriac atmosphere, and even the choice of material had already
been made by the Hellenists before it passed into Syriac hands. It was
now definitely established that the basis of the “humanities” was the
Aristotelian logic, and that this as well as all other studies in the
work of Aristotle was to be interpreted according to the neo-Platonic
commentators. In medicine and chemistry the curriculum of the school
of Alexandria was recognised as authoritative and this, in so far as
it was based upon Galen and Hippocrates, and upon the teaching of
Paul of Aegina in obstetrical medicine, was to the good: but there
was a mystical side of Alexandrian science mixed up with astrology,
so that particular drugs had to be taken where certain planets were
in the ascendant, and such like ideas, which gave a magical tone to
Alexandrian and Arabic medicine which was not for its advantage,
although it must be remembered that the ready contempt formerly
poured upon Arabic science as mere charlatanism is now expressed more
cautiously: we are prepared to admit that very much real and valuable
work was done in medicine and chemistry, although it is probable
that the Egyptian obscurantism did rather tend to hinder the steady
development of the sounder tradition derived from Galen and the Greek

We are thus able to understand that “Muslim theology, philosophy, and
science put forth their first luxuriant shoots on a soil which was
saturated with Hellenistic culture.” (Nicholson: _Mystics of Islam._
London, 1914 p. 9.) The passage of Hellenism took place through five

(i) The Nestorians who hold the first place as the earliest teachers of
the Muslims and the most important transmitters of medicine.

(ii) The Jacobites or Monophysites who were the chief influences in
introducing neo-Platonic speculations and mysticism.

(iii) The Zoroastrians of Persia and especially the school of
Junde-Shapur, although this had a strong Nestorian element.

(iv) The Pagans of Harran who came forward at a later stage.

(v) The Jews who, in this connection, occupy a somewhat peculiar
position: they had no contact with the tradition of Aristotelian
philosophy, their academies at Sora and Pumbaditha were concerned with
their own traditional law and Bible exegesis only. Jewish philosophical
studies began later and were themselves derived from the Arabic
philosophers. But they shared with the Nestorians an inclination
towards medical studies so that Jewish physicians appear in the early
days of Baghdad. Yet they come distinctly second to the Nestorians.
Thus amongst the medical writers mentioned by Dr. Leclerc in his
_Histoire de la médecine arabe_ (Paris, 1876) we find amongst the names
cited for the tenth cent. A.D. that there are 29 Christians, 3 Jews,
and 4 pagans of Harran, though in the next century only 3 Christians
appear, as against 7 Jews, the work then passing very largely into
Muslim hands.



Islam in its earlier form was entirely an Arab religion. The temporal
side of the Prophet Muhammad’s mission shows him engaged in an effort
to unite the tribes of the Hijaz in a fraternal union, to limit the
custom of the _razzia_ (_ghazza_) or marauding foray, and to form an
orderly community. These temporal aims were due to the influence of
Madina on the Prophet and to the conviction that it was only in such a
community that his religious teaching could obtain a serious attention.
In Mecca he had been faced with constant opposition chiefly due to the
tribal jealousies and strife which formed the normal condition of a
Bedwin community. Madina was a city in a sense quite different from
that in which the term could be applied to Mecca. It had developed a
civic life, rudimentary no doubt but very far in advance of the Meccan
conditions, and had inherited a constitutional tradition from Aramaean
and Jewish colonists. At Madina the Prophet began to perceive the
difference produced by the association of men in an ordered communal
life as contrasted with the incoherence of the older tribal conditions,
and the accompanying difference of attitude towards religion. This
last was not really due to civic life but more directly to Jewish
influence, although no doubt the conditions of city life were more
favourable to the evolution of speculative theology than those of the
wilder tribes. The older Arabs seem to have accepted the idea of one
supreme God, but speculated little about him: they did not regard the
supreme deity as at all entering into their personal interests, which
were concerned only with the minor tribal deities who were expected
to attend diligently to tribal affairs and were sharply censured when
they appeared to be negligent about the interests of their clients.
The desert man had no tendency to the sublime thoughts about God with
which he is sometimes credited, nor had he any great reverence towards
the minor members of his pantheon. The Prophet found it one of his
most difficult tasks to introduce the observance of prayer amongst the
Arabs, and they do not appear very much attached to it at the present
day. In Madina the Prophet was in contact with men whose attitude
towards religion was very different and who were more in sympathy with
the principles which he had learned from very much the same sources as

In Madina, therefore, the Prophet added a temporal side to the
spiritual work in which he had been previously engaged. It was not
consciously a change of attitude, but simply the adoption of a
subsidiary task which seemed to provide a most useful accessory to
the work which he had already been doing. Its keynote is given in the
Madinian Sura 49.10, “Only the faithful are brethren, wherefore make
peace between your brethren.” It was a call to his fellow Arabs of the
Hijaz to cease their strife and to unite in the bonds of brotherhood.
Such a union on the part of those whose habits and ideals were warlike
and who were disinclined to the arts of peace, necessarily produced
an attitude of hostility towards persons outside their community.
Was this militant attitude any part of Muhammad’s plans? The answer
must certainly be in the negative. The military enterprises of early
Islam were no part of its original programme. In those enterprises the
Prophet and his immediate successors show a hesitating and dubious
attitude; obviously their hands were forced and they take the lead
reluctantly. As Fr. Lammens says:--

    Le Qoran travailla à réunir les tribus du Higaz. La prédication de
    Mahomet réussit à mettre sur pied une armée, la plus nombreuse, la
    plus disciplinée qu’on êut vue jusque-là dans la Péninsule. Cette
    force ne pouvait longtemps demeurer sans emploi. Par ailleurs
    l-islam, en imposant la paix entre les tribus, ralliées à la
    nouvelle religion ou simplement à l’état médinois en formation,--le
    _ta´līf al-qoloūb_ poursuivait ce dernier objectif--l’islam allait
    fermer tout issue à l’inquiète activité des nomades. Il prétendait
    supprimer à tout le moins limiter, le droit de razzia, placé à
    la base de cette société patriarcalement anarchique. Il fallait
    s’attendre à voir le torrent; momentanément endigué, déborder sur
    les régions frontières.

    “Que Mahomet ait assigné ce but à leurs efforts? Il devient
    difficile de défendre cette thèse, trop facilement acceptée

    (Lammens: _Le berceau de l’islam_. Rome, 1914, i. p. 175.)

In the expedition against Mecca a militant attitude was the inevitable
result of compelling circumstances. The Meccans were actively hostile
and had adopted a persecuting attitude towards those who accepted
the new religion. At the time the Quraysh tribe, to which Muhammad
belonged, was so far in the ascendant that its adhesion was necessary
for the progress of Islam in the Hijaz: the championship of some
prominent tribe was essential, and Muhammad himself was deeply attached
to the traditional “House of God” at Mecca, to which his own family was
bound by many associations; besides he desired the adherence of his
own tribe as his mission was to it in the first place. Had the Meccan
opposition not been broken down the Muslim religion could have been
no more than the local cult of Madina, and even as such would have
had to be perpetually on the defensive. No doubt the “holy war” as an
institution was based on the traditions of this expedition, but such a
war is related to the later enterprises for the conquest of non-Arab
nations by a line of development which the Prophet himself could hardly
have anticipated. The challenge to Heraclius is on a similar footing.
Although we may not be disposed to accept the traditional account given
by Bukhari, there no doubt was some such challenge. But Heraclius had
only recently re-conquered Syria for the Byzantine Empire, the land he
had acquired included a considerable portion of the Syrian desert which
formed a geographical unity with Arabia, and amongst his subjects were
Arab tribes closely akin to those of the Hijaz.

Islam became a militant religion because it spread amongst the
Arabs at a time when they were beginning to enter upon a career of
expansion and conquest, and this career had already commenced before
Muhammad had got beyond the first--the purely spiritual--stage of his
work. The only reason why the earlier Arab efforts were not followed
up immediately seems to have been that the Arabs were so surprised
at their success that they were unprepared to take advantage of it.
For some time previously Arab settlements had been formed in the
debateable land where the Persian and Byzantine Empires met, but this
encroachment had been more or less veiled by the nominal suzerainty
of one or other of the great states. The Quda, a tribe of Himyaritic
Arabs, had settled in Syria and become Christian, and was charged by
the Byzantine Emperor with the general control of the Arabs of Syria
(Masudi: iii., 214-5); that tribe was superseded by the tribe of Salih
(id. 216), and that by the Arab kingdom of Ghasan which acknowledged
the Emperor of Byzantium as its overlord, whilst the Arab kingdom of
Hira acknowledged the Persian king. Somewhere between A.D. 604 and 610,
when the first beginnings of persecution were falling on the Prophet
in Mecca, the Arabs led by al-Mondir inflicted a crushing defeat upon
the Persian army under King Khusraw Parwiz, who, a few years before,
had led a victorious force to the invasion of the Byzantine province
of Syria. This victory showed the Arabs that, in spite of its imposing
appearance, the Persian Empire, and presumably the Byzantine also, were
vulnerable, and a determined effort might easily place the wealth of
both at the disposal of the Arabs.

The Muslim conquests of the 7th century A.D. form the last of a series
of great Semitic outspreads of which the earliest recorded in history
resulted in the formation of the empire of Babylon some 2225 years
before the Christian era. In all these the motive power lay in the
Arabs who represent the parent Semitic stock, the more or less nomadic
inhabitants of the barren highlands of Western Asia, who have always
tended to prey upon the more cultured and settled dwellers in the river
valleys and on the lower slopes of the hills.

“The belts between mountain and desert, the banks of the great rivers,
the lower hills near the sea, these are the lines of civilization
(actual or potential) in Western Asia. The consequence of these
conditions is that through all the history of Western Asia there runs
the eternal distinction between the civilized cultivators of the plains
and lower hills and the wild peoples of mountain and desert. The great
monarchies which have arisen here have rarely been effective beyond the
limits of cultivation; mountain and desert are another world in which
they can get, at best, only precarious footing. And to the monarchical
settled peoples the near neighbourhood of this unsubjugated world
has been a continual menace. It is a chaotic region out of which may
pour upon them at any weakening of the dam hordes of devastators. At
the best of times it hampers the government by offering a refuge and
recruiting ground to all the enemies of order.” (Bevan: _House of
Seleucus_, i., p. 22.)

Scornful of agriculture and with a strong distaste for settled and
especially for urban life, the Bedwin are those who have remained
nomads by preference, and like all races at that stage of evolution,
find the most congenial outlet for their vigour in tribal warfare and
plundering expeditions. From the earliest dawn of history they have
always been strongly tempted by the wealth of the settled communities
within reach, and appear in the oldest records as robber bands.
Sometimes predatory excursions were followed by settlement, and the
invading tribes learned the culture of those amongst whom they settled:
all the Semitic groups other than the Arabs had formed such settlements
before the 7th century A.D., and these groups are distinguished one
from another, and all from the parent stock, simply by the cultural
influences due to the earlier inhabitants of the lands they entered;
the Arab stock itself remained high and dry, the stranded relic of more
primitive conditions, though itself not absolutely free from a reacting
influence. The only thing that ever has restrained the incursions of
these nomadic tribes into such neighbouring lands as offer hope of
plunder is the military power of those who endeavour to place a barrier
for the protection of the settled community of the cultivated area,
and every Arab outspread has been due, not to the pressure of hunger
resulting from the desiccation of Arabia, nor to religious enthusiasm,
but simply to the weakness of the power which tried to maintain a dam
against them.

In the 7th century A.D. the two powers bordering on the Arab area
were the Byzantine and Persian empires. Both of these were, to all
appearance, flourishing and stable, but both alike were in reality
greatly weakened by external and internal causes which were closely
parallel in the two. Externally, both had been severely shaken by
some centuries of warfare in which they had disputed the supremacy
of Western Asia, and both had suffered from rear attacks by more
barbarous foes. Internally, both alike had a thoroughly unsatisfactory
social structure, though the details differ: in the Byzantine Empire
almost the whole burden of a very heavy taxation fell upon the middle
classes, the _curiales_, and the armies were mainly composed of foreign
mercenaries, whilst in the Persian Empire a rigid caste system stifled
natural development. In both we see a state church engaged in active
persecution and thereby alienating a large section of the subject

The career of Muslim conquest came with great suddenness. Between the
years 14 and 21 A.H. (A.D. 635-641) the Arabs obtained possession of
Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Persia. They owed to Islam the united action
which made these conquests possible, but the older Muslims who had
shared the ideals and labours of the Prophet, though put at the head,
were carried forward reluctantly and yet irresistibly by the expanding
force behind them. Many of them viewed these large accessions with
very real anxiety. When the second Khalif Umar saw the large number of
prisoners and captives from Jalûlâ (Persia) flocking into Arabia, he
exclaimed, “O, God, I take refuge with thee from the children of these
captives of Jalûlâ.”

Already the community of Islam contained three distinct strata. (i)
The “old believers,” i.e., the _sahibs_ or companions of the Prophet
and the early converts who placed the religion of Islam first and
desired that religion to produce a real brotherhood of all believers,
whether Arab or not. Important by their prestige they were numerically
in the minority. (ii) The Arab party, consisting of those who had
embraced Islam only when Muhammad had shown his power by the capture
of Mecca. They accepted Muslim leadership because Muhammad and the
first two Khalifs were at the moment in the ascendancy, but they had
no attachment to the religion of Islam. They were those who would have
gone forward to conquest under any efficient leader as soon as it was
clear that Persia and the Greek Empire were vulnerable, and to them
it was a detriment that union under a leader incidentally involved
adherence to a new religion. At the head of these purely secular Arabs
was the Umayyad clan of the tribe of Quraysh, and the main thing which
gained their continued adherence to Islam was that the Prophet himself
had belonged to that tribe and so the prestige of Islam involved that
of the Quraysh who thereby became a kind of aristocracy. Although
the Umayyads were thus able to gratify their personal pride, always
a strong factor in semi-civilised psychology, and even to obtain a
considerable measure of control over the other tribes, this only served
to perpetuate the pre-Islamic conditions of tribal jealousy, for the
primacy of the Quraysh was bitterly resented by many rivals. For the
most part the true Arab party was, and still is, indifferent towards

“The genuine Arab of the desert is, and remains at heart, a sceptic
and a materialist; his hard, clear, keen, but somewhat narrow
intelligence, ever alert in its own domain, was neither curious nor
credulous in respect to immaterial and supra-sensual things; his
egotistical and self-reliant nature found no place and felt no need
for a God who, if powerful to protect, was exacting of service and
self-denial.” (Browne: _Literary Hist. of Persia_, i., pp. 189-190.)

The Arab certainly was not disposed to regard the conquered alien, even
if he embraced Islam, as a brother. To him the conquest of foreign
lands meant only the acquisition of vast estates, of great wealth
and unlimited power: to him the conquered were simply serfs to be
used as a means of rendering the conquered lands more productive. The
conquered were allowed the choice either to embrace Islam or to pay the
poll tax, but the `Umayyads discouraged conversion as damaging to the
revenue, although the cruel and hated Hajjaj b. Yusuf (d. 95) forced
even converts to pay the tax from which they were legally exempt. (iii)
The third stratum consisted of the “clients” (mawla, plur. mawâlî),
the non-Arab converts, theoretically received as brethren and actually
so treated by the “old believers,” but regarded as serfs by Arabs of
the Umayyad type. Owing to the wide expansion of Islam these rapidly
increased in number until, in the 2nd century of the Hijra, they formed
the vast majority of the Muslim world.

The two first Khalifs were “old believers” who had been companions of
the Prophet in his flight from Mecca. The third, `Uthman, had also been
one of the Prophet’s companions, but he was a weak man and moreover,
belonged to the `Umayyad clan, which, as the aristocratic element in
Mecca, was then in the ascendant and, unable to free himself from
the nepotism which is an Arab failing, allowed the rich conquests
of Syria, Egypt, `Iraq, and Persia to become the prey of ambitious
members of the clan and thus suffered the complete secularising of the
Islamic state. When, in 35 A.H., he fell a victim to the assassin,
he was succeeded by `Ali, one of the older Muslims and the Prophet’s
cousin and son-in-law. But at `Ali’s accession the internal division
appears as an accomplished fact. The purely secular Arabs, led by the
`Umayyad Mu`awiya, who was governor of Syria, entirely refused to
recognise `Ali, affecting to regard him as implicated in the murder of
`Uthman, or at least as protecting his murderers. On the other hand,
the Kharijite sect, claiming to represent the older Muslim type, but
in reality mainly composed of the Arabs of Arabia and of the military
colonies, who were envious of the power and wealth of the Umayyad
faction, at first supported him, then turned against him, and in 41
were responsible for his assassination.

At `Ali’s death Mu`awiya became Khalif and founded the Umayyad dynasty
which ruled from 41 to 132 A.H. During the whole of this period the
official Khalifate was Arab first and Muslim only in the second place.
This forms the second period of the history of Islam when the religion
of the Prophet was allowed to sink into the background and the Arab
regarded himself as the conqueror ruling over a subject population.
There was no forcible conversion of a subject population, indeed,
save in the reign of `Umar II (A.H. 99-101) conversions were rather
discouraged as detrimental to the poll tax levied on non-Muslims. There
was no attempt to force the Arabic language: until the reign of `Abdu
l-Mâlik (65-86), who started an Arabic coinage, the public records
were kept and official business transacted in Greek, Persian, or
Coptic, as local requirements demanded, and the change to Arabic seems
to have been suggested by the non-Muslim clerks. When Arabic became
the official medium of public business then, of course, motives of
convenience and self-interest caused its general adoption. Hitherto it
had been used in prayer by those who had become Muslim, but now it had
to be learned more accurately by all who had to do with the collection
of the revenue or the administration of justice. Incidentally this
became a matter of great importance, as it provided a common medium for
the exchange of thought throughout the whole Muslim world.

As rulers in Syria, the Arabs were in contact with a fully developed
culture which was brought to bear upon them in various ways, in the
structure of society and in social order generally, in the arts and
crafts, and in intellectual life. The Greek influence was nearest
at hand, but there was also a very strong Persian element in close
contact with them. The provincial officials of Syria, all trained
in the methods of the Byzantine Empire, continued in their employ,
and, as Syria was the seat of the `Umayyad government, the state came
under Greek influence. Yet, for all this, even in `Umayyad times,
the Persian influence seems to have been very strong in political
organization. The governments already existing in Egypt and Syria were
provincial, dependent upon and subordinate to, the central government
at Byzantium, and constantly recruited by Byzantine officials, at least
in their upper grades. The Persian government, on the other hand, was
a self-contained one, fully organised throughout and including the
supreme and central authority. Until the fall of the `Umayyads, after
which Persian influence became supreme, the political structure of the
Muslim state was somewhat experimental; apparently the rulers left
the details altogether to the subordinate officials who adapted to
the needs of the state such elements as they could use from the old
provincial administration.

In the matter of taxation the early Khalifate continued the system
already in vogue and employed existing methods for the collection of
the newly imposed poll tax. It was on this side that the `Umayyad rule
was most unsatisfactory. Like many who have been bred in poverty and
have afterwards suddenly come into great wealth, the Arabs behaved
as though their wealth was inexhaustible: each governor bought his
appointment from the state and it became a recognised custom for him to
exact a cash payment from the outgoing governor, and then he was free
to raise what he could from his defenceless subjects to prepare for the
day when his opportunities of exaction came to an end. The thoroughly
unsatisfactory condition of the `Umayyad financial system was one of
the leading causes of their fall. One of the `Umayyad sheikhs, named
Minkari, when asked the reason of their fall, replied:--

“We gave to pleasure the time which should have been devoted to
business. Our subjects, harshly treated by us and despairing of
obtaining justice, longed to be delivered from us: the tax payers,
overburdened with exactions, were estranged from us: our lands were
neglected, our resources wasted. We left business to our ministers who
sacrificed our interests to their own advantage, and transacted our
affairs as they pleased and without our knowledge. The army, with its
pay always in arrear, ceased to obey us. And so the small number of
our supporters left us without defence against our enemies, and the
ignorance of how we stood was one of the chief causes of our fall.”
(Masudi: vi., 35-36.)

It will not be unfair to say, therefore, that during the `Umayyad
period the Arabs learned practically nothing of the art of government
and of the work of administration. They were in the position of
prodigal young heirs who leave all details to their men of business and
content themselves with squandering the proceeds.

In the case of civil law matters were rather different. The civil
law is necessarily based on the social and economic structure of
the community, and in the acquired provinces this was so different
from that prevailing in Arabia that it was necessarily forced on the
attention of the Arabs. Moreover, in primitive Islam, the line was not
clearly drawn between the canon law and the civil law. Inheritance,
the taking of pledges, and such like matters, were to the Arabs
subject to the direction and sanction of the law of God as revealed
by his Prophet. Thus, for example, Sura 4, one of the later Madinian
revelations, contains a statement of the law relating to guardianship,
inheritance, marriage, and kindred topics, according to the social
conditions prevailing at Madina. But in the Greek and Persian dominions
the conquering Arab had to deal with more complex conditions for which
the revealed law made no provision, although what it did contain so
far touched the subject that it could not be treated regardless of
revelation. It seemed impossible to disregard the revealed precepts and
substitute an alien legislation, although this has been done in the
modern Ottoman Empire, but not without many and grave protests; in the
first century it would have been intolerable, for every disaffected
faction would have used it to break up the Muslim state which was
only held together by the prestige of the Prophetical tradition. We
may well suppose that the `Umayyads would have had no reluctance to
try the experiment, but it was too dangerous. The only alternative
was to expand the sacred law so as to include new requirements, and
in the `Umayyad period this was done by the addition of a vast number
of fictitious traditions professing to relate what the Prophet had
said and done in conditions in which he had never been placed. In
describing these traditions as “fictitious,” it is not necessarily
implied that they were fraudulent, although many were so, showing an
obvious motive in increasing the privileges and rights of the dominant
faction or asserting the tribal pre-eminence of the Quraysh, etc.
But more often they are “fictitious” in the sense of legal fictions
rightly correcting the actual law in the interests of equity. When
entirely new conditions arose, the question would be asked, “How would
the Prophet have acted in this case?” The early companions of the
Prophet, educated in the same environment as he had been educated,
and confident that their outlook was essentially the same as his,
had no hesitation in stating what he would have done or said, and
their statement was almost certainly correct: but they worded their
evidence, or it was afterwards worded for them, as a statement of
what the Prophet actually had done or said. And, later again, in a
subsequent generation, when new problems arose, no difficulty was felt
in accepting the supposition that the Prophet would have admitted the
reasonable and just solution which the Roman jurists proposed. Thus it
finally came to pass that a considerable portion of the Roman civil law
was embodied in the traditions of Islam (cf. Santillana: _Code civil et
commerciel tunisien._ Tunis, 1899, etc.) It is not to be supposed that
Arab governors and judges studied the Roman code, they simply accepted
its provisions as they found them in force in Syria and Egypt, and
thus learned its general principles from the usage of the civil courts
already existing. In many places material is found in the traditions
which can be traced to Zoroastrian, Jewish, and even Buddhist sources,
though these deal rather with ritual and the description of the unseen
world and serve to show how readily Islam absorbed elements with which
it was in contact. So far as the actual needs of the civil law are
concerned, the chief source was the Roman law, and these needs fill a
very large part of the traditions.

It was not until the close of the `Umayyad period that the Muslims
began to develop a scientific jurisprudence and to make a critical
examination and codification of the traditions. In the case of
jurisprudence there were at first two schools, a Syrian and a Persian.
The Syrian school formulated its system under the leadership of
_al-Awza`i_ (d. 157), and for some time it prevailed over all parts
of the Muslim world which had been parts of the Byzantine Empire.
The Persian school owed its origin to _Abu Hanifa_ (d. 150) and, as
the seat of government was removed to `Iraq by the `Abbasids and Abu
Hanifa’s system was enforced by his pupil Abu Yusuf (d. 182) who was
chief Qadi under the Khalif Harunu r-Rashid, it had a tremendous
advantage over the Syrian school. It became the official system of the
`Abbasid courts and still holds its own through Central Asia, North
India, and wherever the Turkish element prevails, whilst the Syrian
system has become extinct. Abu Hanifa’s system represents a serious
and moderate revision of the methods which had already come into use
as extending the discipline of Islam to the needs of a complex and
advanced civilization. Under the `Umayyads the jurists had supplemented
any deficiencies in the law by their own opinion (_ra´y_) which meant
the application of the judgment of a man trained under the Roman law
as to what was just and fair. In that early period no derogatory
sense was attached to “opinion” which rested on the theory that the
intellect could intuitively perceive what is right and just, thus
assuming that there is an objective standard of right and wrong capable
of apprehension by philosophical enquiry, a theory which shows the
influence of Greek ideas embodied in the Civil Code. But the `Abbasid
period experienced an orthodox reaction which tended to limit freedom
in using speculative opinion, and Abu Hanifa shows this limitation.
In his system weight was attached to every positive statement of the
Qur´an which could be taken as bearing upon the civil law, only to a
slight extent did he avail himself of the evidence of tradition, to a
much larger extent he employs _qiyas_ or “analogy,” which means that
a new condition is judged by comparison with some older one already
treated in the Qur´an, and he also employed what he called _istihsan_,
“the preferable,” that is to say, what seemed to be equitable and
right even when it diverged from the logical conclusion which could be
deduced from the revealed law. Only in this latter case did he admit
what can be described as “opinion,” and this is strictly limited to
the adoption of a course necessary to avoid an obvious injustice.
As thus stated, Abu Hanifa’s system was broader, milder, and more
reasonable than any other treatment of the Islamic law: but it is a
mistake to suppose that it still is mild and reasonable, for in the
course of time the decisions pronounced as to “the preferable” have
become hardened into precedents and the Hanifite code expresses only
those fixed decisions of early mediæval Islam without flexibility. The
case is parallel with the English treatment of equity. In older times
equity shows us the philosophical principles of justice correcting the
defects of common law; but modern practice displays these principles
fossilized as precedents and as rigid and formal in their application
as the common law itself. As first conceived, “the preferable” shows
the influence of Roman law and Greek philosophy, both of which
contemplated an objective standard of right and wrong which could be
discovered by investigation, the Stoic teaching, predominant in Roman
law, tending to treat this discovery as intuitive. Unsupported by other
evidence, we might hesitate to suggest that _istihsan_ necessarily had
a Hellenistic basis, but when we compare the ideas of Abu Hanifa with
the contemporary teaching of Wasil b. `Ata (d. 131) in theology, we
are forced to the conclusion that the same influences are at work in
both, and in Wasil these are certainly derived from Greek philosophy.
We are not justified in supposing that Abu Hanifa ever read the
Greek philosophers or the Roman law, but he lived at a period when
the general principles deduced from these sources were beginning to
permeate Muslim thought, though in fact his teaching tends to limit and
define the application of the general principles according to a system.
The older Muslims supposed that good and evil depend simply on the
arbitrary will of God, who commands and forbids as he sees fit: it was
the influence of the Greek philosophy which brought in the idea that
these distinctions are not arbitrary but due to some natural difference
existing in nature between good and evil and that God is just in that
his decrees conform to this standard.

In orthodox Islam there are now four schools of jurisprudence showing
allowable differences in the treatment of the canon law. Most absurdly
they are sometimes described as “sects”: this they are not as the
differences of opinion are fully recognised as all equally orthodox.
The followers of Abu Hanifa form the most numerous of these schools,
the other three being all more or less reactionary as compared with
it. The contemporary Malik b. Anas (d. 179) was openly actuated by
dislike of the admission of _istihsan_ and the recognition thereby
given to “opinion” for this he substituted what he called _istislah_
or “public expediency,” allowing analogy to be set aside only when
its logical conclusion would be detrimental to the community. The
difference seems to be more a verbal correction than a material change,
but the underlying motive is clear and indicates an orthodox reaction.
At the same time he attached much greater weight to the evidence of
tradition, adding to it also the principle of _ijma_ or “consensus,”
which in his system meant the common usage of Madina. Undoubtedly Ibn
Malik’s position was theoretically sound: the Islamic state had taken
form at Madina and nothing could give so clear light on the policy
of the Prophet and his companions as the local customary law of the
mother city. At the same time Ibn Malik took tradition quite seriously,
indeed, the critical and scientific treatment of tradition begins with
his manual known as the _Muwatta_. To-day Ibn Malik’s school prevails
in Upper Egypt and North Africa west of Egypt. The third authority
_ash-Shafi`i_ (d. 204) takes an intermediate position between Abu
Hanifa and Ibn Malik, interpreting _ijma_ as the general usage of
Islam, and not of the city of Madina alone. The fourth authority,
_Ahmad b. Hanbal_ (d. 241), shows an entirely reactionary position
which reverted to a close adherence to Qur´an and tradition; it carried
great weight amongst the orthodox, especially in Baghdad, but now
survives only in remote parts of Arabia.

In the sphere of the arts and crafts, our best evidence lies in
architecture and engineering. In these the Arabs had no skill and
were conscious of their incapacity. The earliest mosques were simply
enclosures surrounded by a plain wall, but a new type was developed
under the first `Umayyad Khalif Mu`awiya, who employed Persian
non-Muslim builders in the construction of the mosque at Kufa, and they
worked on the lines of the architecture already used by the Sasanid
kings. In this mosque the traditional square enclosure was retained,
but the quadrangle was surrounded by a cloister in the form of a
collonade with pillars 30 cubits high of stone drums held together by
iron clamps and lead beddings. From this the cloistered quadrangle
became the general type of the congregational mosque and remained
so until late Turkish times, when it was partly superseded by the
Byzantine domed church. The dome had been used in earlier times only as
the covering of a tomb, standing alone or attached to a mosque.

The same Khalif Mu`awiya employed bricks and mortar in restorations
which he made at Mecca, and introduced Persian workmen to execute the
repairs. In 124 A.H. (A.D. 700) the fifth `Umayyad Khalif found it
necessary to repair the damage caused at Mecca by flood, and for this
purpose employed a Christian architect from Syria.

In the time of the next Khalif al-Walid, the “Old Mosque” of Fustat
(Cairo), that is now known as the “Mosque of `Amr,” was rebuilt by the
architect Yahya b. Hanzala, who probably was a Persian. The earlier
mosque had been a simple enclosure. The next oldest mosque of Cairo,
that of Ibn Tulun (A.H. 283) also had a non-Muslim architect, the
Christian Ibn Katib al-Fargani.

Not only in the earlier period, but also in the days of the Abbasids,
the Muslims relied exclusively upon Greek and Persian, to a less degree
on Coptic, architects, engineers, and craftsmen for building and
decoration. In Spain of the 2nd century (8th century A.D.) we find the
Byzantine Emperor sending a mosaic worker and 320 quintals of tessarae
for the adorning of the great mosque at Cordova.

In origin all Muslim art had a Byzantine beginning, but the traditions
of Byzantine art received a peculiar direction by passing through a
Persian medium, and this medium colours all work done after the close
of the `Umayyad period. Only in the west, in Spain, and to a less
degree in North Africa, do we find traces of direct Byzantine influence
in later times. But Persian art, as developed under the later Sasanids,
was itself derived from Byzantine models, and mainly from models and by
craftsmen introduced by Khusraw I. (circ. A.D. 528); but even at that
early stage there were also some Indian influences apparent in Persian
and East-Byzantine work, as, for example, in the use of the horse shoe
arch which first appears in Western Asia in the church of Dana on the
Euphrates, circ. A.D. 540. But the horse shoe arch in pre-Muslim times,
as in India, is purely decorative and is not employed in construction.

Thus it appears that the real work of Islam in art and architecture
lay in connecting the various portions of the Muslim world in
one common life, so that Syria, Persia, `Iraq, North Africa, and
Spain shared the same influences, which were ultimately Greek or
Graeco-Persian, the Indian element, of quite secondary importance,
entering directly through Persia. Already before the outspread of
Islam, Byzantine art had entirely replaced native models in Egypt,
and this was largely the case in Persia as well. At most we can say
that Islam evolved a quasi-Byzantine style which owed its distinctive
features to the limitations of the Persian artists, but which
occasionally attained a better level by the importation of Byzantine
craftsmen. Exactly the same general conclusions hold good in the
history of the ceramic arts and in the illumination of manuscripts,
though here the observance of the Qur´anic prohibition of the portrayal
of animal figures, strictly observed only in some quarters and least
regarded in Persia and Spain, caused a greater emphasis to be laid on
vegetable forms in decoration, and on geometrical patterns.

In the field of science and philosophy, where we get such abundant
evidence in the `Abbasid period, we are left with very little material
under the `Umayyads. We know that the medical school at Alexandria
continued to flourish, and we read of one Adfar, a Christian, who was
distinguished as a student of the books of Hermes, the occult authority
which did most to divert Egyptian science into a magical direction, and
we are informed that he was sought out by a young Roman named Morienus
(Marianos) who became his pupil and at his master’s death retired to
a hermitage near Jerusalem. Later on the prince Khalid b. Yazid, of
the `Umayyad family (d. 85 A.H.--704 A.D.) is said to have become the
pupil of Marianos and to have studied with him chemistry, medicine,
and astronomy. He was the author of three epistles, in one of which he
narrated his conversations with Marianos, another relates the manner
in which he studied chemistry, and a third explains the enigmatical
allusions employed by his teachers. Long before this medical and
scientific studies had passed over to Persia, but Alexandria retained
its reputation as the chief centre of such work throughout the `Umayyad

Towards the end of the `Umayyad age the influence of Hellenistic
thought begins to appear in the nature of criticism upon accepted
views of Muslim theology. As in jurisprudence, we have no ground for
supposing that Muslims at this stage were directly acquainted with
Greek material, but general ideas were obtained by intercourse with
those who had been long under Hellenistic influences, and especially by
intercourse with Christians amongst whom the premises of psychology,
metaphysics, and logic had encroached very largely upon the field of
theology by the nature of the subjects debated in the Arian, Nestorian,
and Monophysite controversies which turned mainly upon psychological
and metaphysical problems. The ideas with which the Muslims were
brought into contact suggested difficulties in their own theology, as
yet only partially formulated, and in religious theories which had
taken form in a community entirely ignorant of philosophy. Some of the
older fashioned believers met these questions with a plain negative,
simply refusing to admit that there was a difficulty or any question
for consideration: reason (_`aql_), they said, could not be applied
to the revelation of God, and it was alike an innovation to dispute
that revelation or to defend it. But others felt the pressure of the
questions proposed and, whilst strictly faithful to the statements of
the Qur´an, endeavoured to bring their expression into conformity with
the principles of philosophy.

The questions first proposed were concerned with (a) the revelation of
the Word of God, and (b) the problem of free will.

(a) The Prophet speaks of revelation as “coming down” (_nazala_) from
God and refers to the “mother of the book” which seems to designate the
unrevealed source from which the revealed words are derived. It may be
that this refers to the idea of which the word is the expression, and
that in this the Prophet was influenced by Christian or Jewish theories
which had originally a Platonic colouring, but it seems probable that
he had no very clear theory as to the “mother of the book.” At an early
date the view arose that the Qur´an had existed, though not expressed
in words, that the substance and meaning were eternal as part of the
wisdom of God, though it had been put into words in time and then
communicated to the Prophet, which is now the orthodox teaching on the
basis of Qur. 80. 15. that it was written “by the hands of scribes
honoured and righteous,” this being taken to mean that it was written
at God’s dictation by supernatural beings in paradise and afterwards
sent down to the Prophet. That is not the necessary meaning of the
verse, which may refer to the previous revelations made to the Jews
and Christians which the Prophet regarded as true but afterwards
corrupted, so that the Qur´an is simply the pure transcription of
Divine Truth imperfectly represented by those earlier revelations.
Under the `Umayyads, when a rigid orthodoxy was taking form in quarters
not sympathetic towards the official Khalif, a view arose that the
actual words expressed in the Qur´an were co-eternal with God, and it
was only the writing down of these words which had taken place in time.
It seems probable that this theory of an eternal “word” was suggested
by the Christian doctrine of the “Logos.” It can be traced primarily
to the teaching of St. John Damascene (d. circ. 160 A.H. = A.D. 776)
who served as secretary of state under one of the `Umayyads, either
Yazid II. or Hijam, and his pupil Theodore Abucara (d. 217 = 832),
who express the relation of the Christian Logos to the Eternal Father
in terms very closely resembling those employed in Muslim theology to
denote the relation between the Qur´an or revealed word and God. (cf.
Von Kremer: _Streifzuege_. pp. 7-9). We know from the extant works
of these two Christian writers that theological discussions between
Muslims and Christians were by no means uncommon at the time.

The _Mu`tazilites_ of whom _Wasil b. `Ata_ (d. 131) is generally
regarded as the founder, were a sect of rationalistic tendencies, and
they were opposed to the doctrine of the eternity of the Qur´an and
the claim that it was uncreated because the conclusions to be drawn
seemed to them to introduce distinct personalities corresponding
to the persons of the Christian Trinity, and in these views they
were undoubtedly influenced by the form in which St. John Damascene
presented the doctrine of the Trinity. As it was implied that there was
an attribute of wisdom possessed by God which was not a thing created
by God but eternally with him, and this wisdom may be conceived as not
absolutely identical with God but possessed by him, the Mu`tazilites
argued that it was something co-eternal with God but other than God,
and so an eternal Qur´an was a second person of the Godhead and God
was not absolutely one. Al-Muzdar, a Mu`tazilite greatly revered as an
ascetic, expressly denounces those who believe in an eternal Qur´an as
ditheists. The Mu`tazilites called themselves _Ahlu t-Tawhid wa-l-`Adl_
“the people of unity and justice,” the first part of this title
implying that they alone were consistent defenders of the doctrine of
the Divine Unity.

(b) As to the freedom or otherwise of the human will, the Qur´an
is perfectly definite in its assertion of God’s omnipotence and
omniscience: all things are known to him and ruled by him, and so human
acts and the rewards and punishments due to men must be included: “no
misfortune happens either on earth or in yourselves but we made it,--it
was in the book” (Qur. 57. 22); “everything have We set down in the
clear book of our decrees” (Qur. 36); “had We pleased We had certainly
given to every soul its guidance, but true is the word which hath gone
forth from me,--I shall surely fill hell with jinn and men together.”
(Qur. 32. 13). Yet the appeal for moral conduct implies a certain
responsibility, and consequently freedom, on man’s part. In the mind
of the Prophet, no doubt, the inconsistency between moral obligations
and responsibility on the one hand, and the unlimited power of God on
the other, had not been perceived, but towards the end of the `Umayyad
period these were pressed to their logical conclusions. On the one side
were the _Qadarites_ (_qadr_ “power”), the advocates of free will.
This doctrine first appears in the teaching of _Ma´bad al-Yuhani_ (d.
80 A.H.) who is said to have been the pupil of the Persian Sinbuya and
taught in Damascus. Very little is known of the early Qadarites, but it
is stated that Sinbuya was put to death by the Khalif `Abdu l-Malik,
and that the Khalif Yazid II. (102-106 A.H.) favoured their views.
On the other side were the _Jabarites_ (_jabr_, “compulsion”) who
preached strict determinism and were founded by the Persian _Jahm b.
Safwan_ (d. circ. 130). It is baseless to argue that either free will
or determinism were necessarily due to Persian pre-Islamic beliefs, it
is evident that the logical deduction of doctrinal theology in either
direction was done by Persians; they were, indeed, the theologians of
early Islam. It must be noted that the full development of fatalism was
not reached until a full century after the foundation of Islam and that
its first exponent was put to death as a heretic.

The earlier Qadarites had a Persian origin, but the reaction against
the Jabarites was led by Wasil b. `Ata whose teaching clearly
shows the solvent force of Hellenistic philosophy acting on Muslim
theology. Wasil was the pupil of the Qadarite Hasan ibn Abi l-Hasan
(d. 110) but he “seceded” from his teacher and this is given as the
traditional reason for calling him and his followers the _Mu´tazila_ or
“secession,” and did so on the ground of the apparent injustice imputed
to God in his apportionment of rewards and penalties. The details of
the controversy are quite secondary, the important point is that the
Mu`tazilites claimed to be “the people of Unity and Justice,” this
latter meaning that God conformed to an objective standard of just and
right action so that he could not be conceived as acting arbitrarily
and in disregard of justice, an idea borrowed from Hellenistic
philosophy for the older Muslim conception regarded God as acting as he
willed and the standard of right and wrong merely a dependent on his

Throughout the whole `Umayyad period we see the conquering Arabs, so
far the rulers of the Muslim world, in contact with those who, though
treated with arrogant contempt as serfs, were really in possession of a
much fuller culture than their rulers. In spite of the haughty attitude
of the Arab there was a considerable exchange of thought, and the
community of Islam began to absorb Hellenistic influences in several
directions, and so the canon law and theology of the Muslims was
beginning, at the end of the `Umayyad period, to be leavened by Greek
thought. It was, however, a period of indirect influence; there is no
indication, save in a few instances in the study of natural science and
medicine, of Muslim teachers or students availing themselves directly
of Greek material, but only that they were in contact with those who
were familiar with the work of Greek philosophers and jurists. It
was a period of suspended animation, to some extent, during which a
new language and a new religion were being assimilated by the very
diverse elements now comprised in the Khalifate, and those elements
were being welded together in a common life. However great were the
sectarian and political differences of later times, the church of
Islam long remained, and to a great extent still remains, possessed
with a common life in the sense that there is a mutual understanding
between the several parts and that thus an intellectual or religious
influence has been able to pass rapidly from one extreme to the other,
and the religious duty of pilgrimage to Mecca has done much to foster
this community of life and to promote intercourse between the several
parts. Such an understanding has by no means always produced sympathy
or friendliness, and the various movements as they have passed from one
part to the other have often been considerably modified in the passage;
but the motive power behind a movement in Persia has been intelligible
in Muslim Spain--though perhaps intensely disliked there--and most
often a movement beginning in any one district has sooner or later had
some contact with every other district. There is no such division in
Islam as that which prevents the average English churchman from knowing
about and appreciating a religious movement at work in the Coptic or
Serbian church. The common life of Islam is largely based on the use
of the Arabic language as the medium of daily life, or at least of
prayer and the medium of scholarship, and this was extremely effective
before the inclusion of large Turkish and Indian elements which have
never really become Arabic speaking. It was this which made the
Arabic speaking community of Islam so favourable a medium of cultural
transmission. The `Umayyad period was a marking time during which this
common life was being evolved, and with it was evolved necessarily the
bitterness of sectarian and faction divisions which always result when
divergent types are in too close contact with one another.



The rule of the `Umayyads had been a period of tyrannical oppression
on the part of the Arab rulers upon their non-Arab subjects and
especially upon the _mawali_ or converts drawn from the native
population of the conquered provinces who not only were not admitted
to equality, as was the professed principle of the religion of Islam,
but were treated simply as serfs. This was in no sense due to religious
persecution, for it was the converts who were the most aggrieved, nor
was it due to a racial antipathy as between a Semitic and an Aryan
people, nor yet to anything that could be described as a “national”
feeling on the part of the Persians and other conquered races, but
simply a species of “class” feeling due to the contempt felt by the
Arabs for those whom they had conquered and hatred on the part of
the conquered towards their arrogant masters, a hatred intensified
by disgust at their misgovernment and ignorance of the traditions of
civilization. There were other causes also which helped to intensify
this feeling of hatred especially in the case of the Persians. Amongst
these was a semi-religious feeling, even amongst those who had become
converts to Islam. It had been the old usage of the Persians to regard
the Sasanid kings, the descendants of the legendary _kayani_ dynasty
of heroes who had first established a settled community in Persia,
as _bagh_ not quite perhaps what we should understand as “gods,” but
rather as incarnations of deity, the divine spirit passing on by
transmigration from one ruler to another, and so they ascribed to the
king miraculous powers and worshipped him as the shrine of a divine
presence. At the Muslim conquest the Sasanid kings had not only ceased
to rule, but the dynasty had become extinct. Many of the Persians who,
in spite of adopting Islam, still clung to their old ideas, were quite
ready to treat the Khalif with the same adoration as their kings, but
felt a distinct distaste for the theory of the Khalifate according to
which the Khalif was no more than a chieftain elected in the democratic
fashion of the desert tribes, a thing which seemed to them like
reversion to primitive barbarism. Our own experience in dealing with
oriental races has shown us that there is a great deal which must be
taken seriously in ideas of this kind. Of course those who had been
subjects of the Roman Empire had no inclination towards deifying their
rulers, unless perhaps some who had been only recently incorporated
from more oriental elements: but those who had been under Persian rule
craved a deified prince. In A.H. 141-142 this took the form of an
attempt to deify the Khalif by a fanatical sect of Persian origin known
as the Rawandiyya which broke out into open revolt when the Khalif
refused to be treated as a god and cast their leaders into prison:
the members of the sect, and many other of their fellow-countrymen,
considered that a Khalif was no valid sovereign who refused to be
recognised as a deity. From the second century of the Hijra down to
modern times there has been a continuous stream of pseudo-prophets
who have claimed to be gods, or successful leaders who have been
deified by their followers. The latest of these appears in the earlier
phases of the Babi movement, A.D. 1844-1852, though the doctrines of
re-incarnation and of the presence of the divine spirit in the leader
seem to be less emphasized in present day Babism, at least in this
country and America.

The most prevalent form of these ideas occurs in the essentially
Persian movement known as the _Shi`a_ or “schismatics.” These are
divided into two types, both alike holding that the succession of the
Prophet is confined to the hereditary descendants of `Ali the cousin
and son-in-law of the Prophet to whom alone was given the divine right
of the _Imamate_ or leadership. The two types differ in the meaning
of this Imamate, the one group contenting itself with maintaining
that `Ali and his descendants have a divine authority whereby the
Imams are the only legitimate rulers of Islam and its infallible
guides; of this moderate type of Shi`a is the religion of Morocco
and the form prevalent about San´a in South Arabia. The other group
presses the claim that the Imam is the incarnation of a divine spirit,
sometimes asserting that it was only by fraud that the prophet Muhammad
interposed and acted as spokesman for the divine Imam `Ali. Of this
type is the Shi`a which forms the state religion of modern Persia,
spreading westwards into Mesopotamia and eastwards into India. The
commonest belief, prevalent in the modern Shi`a, is that there were
twelve Imams of whom `Ali was the first, and Muhammad al-Muntazar,
who succeeded at the death of his father the eleventh Imam al-Hasan
al-Askari in 260 A.H. (= A.D. 873) was the last. Soon after his
accession Muhammad Al-Muntazar “vanished” at Samárrá, the town which
served as the `Abbasid capital from A.H. 222 to 279. The mosque at
Samárrá is said to cover an underground vault into which he disappeared
and from which he will emerge again to resume his office when the
propitious time has arrived, and the place whence he is to issue forth
is one of the sacred spots visited by Shi`ite pilgrims. Meanwhile
the Shahs and princes are ruling the faithful only as deputies of
the concealed Imam. The disappearance of Muhammad al-Muntazar took
place more than a century after the fall of the `Umayyads but we have
anticipated in order to show the general tendency of the Shi`ite ideas
which were prevalent even in `Umayyad times, especially in Northern
Persia, and did much to promote the revolt against the secularised
`Umayyad rule.

A curious importance also is attached to the date. The disaffection
of the _mawali_ came to a head towards the end of the first century of
the Muslim era. There was a general belief that the completion of the
century would see the end of existing conditions, just as in Western
Europe the year 1000 A.D. was expected to mark the dawn of a new world.
Dissatisfaction was at its height, especially in Khurasan, and the
disaffected for the most part rallied round the `Alids.

The `Alid claims which did so much to overthrow the `Umayyad dynasty
and indirectly led to the bringing forward of the Persian element by
which the transmission of Hellenistic culture was most furthered, are
best understood by the help of a genealogical table.

  al-Hanafiya + (1) `Ali + Fatima
      |                 _____|___________
  Muhammad          (2) Hasan  (3) Husayn
      |                              |
  Abu Hashim                   (4) `Ali Zayn
          |                            |
        Zayd                (5) Muhammad al-Bakir
                            (6) Ja`far as-Sadiq
                 |                     |
             Isma`il        (7) Musa al-Qazam
                 |                   |
             Muhammad       (8) `Ali ar-Rida
                            (9) Muham. al-Jawad
                           (10) `Ali al-Hadi
                           (11) Hasan al-Askari
                           (12) Muham. al-Muntazar

`Ali had two wives, (i) al-Hanafiya, by whom he had a son Muhammad,
and (ii) Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, by whom he had
two sons, Hasan and Husayn. All the `Alid party believed that `Ali
should have succeeded the Prophet by divine right and regarded the
first three Khalifs as usurpers. Already under the third Khalif Uthman
the dissatisfied _mawla_ element had begun to look to `Ali as their
champion, and he in the true spirit of early Islam supported their
claim to the rights of brotherhood as fellow Muslims. This partisanship
received its extreme expression in the preaching of the Jewish convert
`Abdu b. Saba, who declared the divine right of `Ali to the Khalifate
as early as A.H. 32. `Ali himself apparently did not take so pronounced
a view, but certainly regarded himself as in some degree injured by
his exclusion. In 35 `Ali was appointed Khalif and Ibn Saba then
declared that he was not only Khalif by divine right, but that a divine
spirit had passed from the Prophet to him, so that he was raised to a
supernatural level. This theory `Ali himself repudiated. When he was
assassinated in 40 `Abdu declared that his martyred soul had passed to
heaven and would in due course descend to earth again: his spirit was
in the clouds, his voice was heard in the thunder, the lightning was
his rod.

The Umayyad party led by Mu`awiya never submitted to `Ali, although
they did not question the legitimacy of his appointment. At his death
Mu`awiya became the fifth Khalif, but had to face the claims of
al-Hasan, `Ali’s son. Al-Hasan made terms with Mu`awiya and died in 49,
poisoned, it was commonly stated. The other son, al-Husayn, tried to
enforce his claim, but met a tragic death at Kerbela. After al-Husayn’s
death some of the `Alid partisans recognised Muhammad the son of `Ali
and al-Hanafiya as the fourth Imam; he, it is true, disowned these
supporters, but that was a detail to which they paid no attention. His
supporters were known as Kaysanites, and owed their origin to Kaysan,
a freedman of `Ali, who formed a society for the purpose of avenging
the deaths of al-Hasan and al-Husayn. When this Muhammad died in 81
his followers divided into two sections, some accepting the fact of
his death, others supposing that he had simply passed into concealment
to appear again in due course. This idea of a “concealed” Imam was a
heritage from the older religious theories of Persia and recurs again
and again in Shi`a history. The important point is that both sections
of this party continued to exist all through the `Umayyad period,
steadily refusing to recognise the official Khalifa as more than
usurpers, and looking forward to the day when they could avenge the
martyrdom of `Ali and his sons.

We need not linger over the family of al-Hasan and his descendants.
They were involved in `Alid risings at Madina, and after the
suppression of one of these in 169, long after the fall of the
`Umayyads, Idris the great-grandson of al-Hasan escaped to the far West
and established a “moderate” Shi`ite Dynasty in what is now Morocco, so
that the subsequent history of that house concerns the history of the

Most of the Shi`ites regard the third Imam, al-Husayn as being
succeeded by his son `Ali Zayn. Al-Husayn, like al-Hasan, was not
only the son of `Ali, but also of the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima. In
al-Husayn’s case moreover there was another heritage which ultimately
proved more important than descent from either `Ali or Fatima: he
was generally supposed to have married the daughter of the last of
the Persian kings, the “mother of the Imams,” and this traditional
marriage with the Persian princess,--its historical evidence is
very dubious--has been regarded by the Persian Shi`ites as the most
important factor in the Imamate, although this, of course, has nothing
whatever to do with the religion of Islam. That so great weight could
be attached to such a consideration serves to show how really foreign
and non-Muslim a thing the Shi`a is. `Ali Zayn had two sons, Zayd and
Muhammad al-Bakir. Of these Zayd was a pupil of Wasil b. `Ata and
associated with the Mu`tazilite movement: he is generally regarded as
a rationalist. Indeed, as we shall now see frequently, the heretical
Shi`ite party was very generally mixed up with free thought and
frequently shows adherence to Greek philosophy: it seems as though its
inspiring spirit was hostility towards orthodox Islam, and a readiness
to ally itself with anything which tended to criticize unfavourably
the orthodox doctrines. Zayd had a body of followers who established
themselves in North Persia where they held their own for some time, and
a branch of their party still exists in South Arabia, still suspected
of rationalist proclivities. Most of the Shi`ites, however, recognised
Muhammad al-Bakir as the fifth Imam, and Ja`far as-Sadiq as the sixth.
This latter also was a devoted follower of the “new learning,” that
is to say, of Hellenistic philosophy, and is generally regarded as
the founder, or at least the chief exponent, of what are known as
_batinite_ views, that is to say the allegorical interpretation of the
Qur´an, so that revelation is made to mean, not the literal statement,
but an inner meaning, and this inner meaning generally shows a strong
influence of Hellenistic philosophy. It is only the divinely directed
Imam who can expound the true meaning of the Qur´an which remains a
sealed book to the uninitiated. Ja`far was, it would appear, the first
of the `Alids who openly asserted that he was a divine incarnation as
well as an inspired teacher: his predecessors had done no more than
acquiesce in such claims when made by their followers, and very often
had repudiated them.

Abu Hashim, the son of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya, died in 98 A.H.
poisoned, it was generally believed, by the Khalif Sulayman, and
bequeathed his rights to Muhammad b. `Ali b. `Abdullah, a descendant of
the house of Hashim, to which the Prophet and `Ali had belonged, the
rival clan of the Quraysh tribe opposed to the clan of the `Umayyads.
Abu Hashim assumed that the Imamate was his to be passed on to whom he
saw fit, a view of the Imamate which was not accepted by the stricter
Shi`ites who were legitimists, but the partisans of Abu Hashim do not
seem to have been extremists in spite of their Kaysanite origin. In
99 the Khalifate passed to Umar II. the one `Umayyad who showed `Alid
sympathies, putting an end to the public cursing of `Ali which had
formed part of the public ritual in the mosques of Damascus since the
days of Mu`awiya and who represented a type of personal piety to which
the `Umayyad Khalifs had hitherto been strangers. His brief reign of
less than three years did not, however, remove the evils of tyranny and
misgovernment, and he was followed by other rulers more in conformity
with the old bad type.

About the time of Umar’s death a deputation of Shi`ites waited upon
Muhammad b. `Ali the Hashimite, a man of noted piety and the one
who had now become, as legatee of Abu Hashim the son of Muhammad b.
al-Hanafiya, the recognised head of an important wing of the Shi`ites,
and swore to support him in an endeavour to obtain the Khalifate “that
God may quicken justice and destroy oppression” (Dinwari: _Akhbaru
t-Tiwal_. ed. Guirgass, Leiden. p. 334): and Muhammad had answered that
“this is the season of what we hope and desire, because one hundred
years of the calendar are completed.” (id.)

The supporters of the family of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya, who had
now transferred their allegiance to Muhammad b. `Ali, were extremely
important, not so much by reason of their numbers as by their excellent
organisation. They had developed a regular system of missionaries
(_da`i_, plur. _du`at_) who travelled under the guise of merchants
and confined their teaching to private instructions and informal
intercourse, a method which has become the standard type of Muslim
missionary propaganda. By Abu Hashim’s death and legacy Muhammad b.
`Ali found this very fully organised missionary work at his service,
and its emissaries were fully confident that his acceptance of the
overtures of the Shi`ite deputation meant that he stood as the champion
of Shi`ite claims. The stricter Shi`ites who followed the house of
al-Husayn did not admit the claims of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya or his
descendants, but they supported Muhammad b. `Ali’s efforts under the
impression that he was a Shi`ite champion.

The propaganda in favour of Muhammad b. `Ali is sometimes referred
to as `Abbasid because he was descended from al-`Abbas, one of the
three sons of `Abdu l-Muttalib, and so brother of Abu Talib the father
of the Imam `Ali and of `Abdullah who was grandfather of the Prophet
Muhammad. At the time, however, the missionaries claimed rather to be
the supporters of the Hashimites, a term which was ambiguous, perhaps
intentionally so. It was afterwards explained as referring to the
house of Hashim which was the rival clan of the Quraysh opposed to
the `Umayyads and that to which the Prophet, and `Ali, and al-`Abbas
belonged: but in the minds of many of the Shi`ites it was taken to mean
the followers of Abu Hashim, the grandson of Al-Hanafiya.

Muhammad b. `Ali died in 126 A.H. leaving three sons, Ibrahim, Abu
l-Abbas, and Abu Ja`far, the first of these being recognised as his
successor. About the same time Abu Muslim, who became governor of
Khurasan in 129 comes into prominence. It is dubious whether he was an
Arab or a native of `Iraq (cf. Masudi. vi. 59), indeed, the claim was
made that he was a descendant of Gandarz, one of the ancient kings of
Persia (id.) Now Khurasan was the area most disaffected towards the
`Umayyads, and there the Hashimite missionaries had been most active
and successful. Abu Muslim threw himself into this work heartily and
began gathering together an armed body of men who before long numbered
200,000. Information and warning was sent to the Khalif Marwan II. but
was ignored: indeed the court at Damascus took no notice until 130.
Abu Muslim at length openly raised the black standard as the signal of
revolt against the `Umayyads whose official colour was white. Then all
the Khalif did was to seize Muhammad b. `Ali’s son Ibrahim and put him
to death. The other two sons escaped and fled to Kufa where they were
sheltered and concealed by some Shi`ites, the second son Abu l-`Abbas,
known to history as _as-Saffah_ “the butcher” being recognised as the
Hashimite leader.

Abu Muslim’s success was rapid and complete, and in 132 the `Umayyad
dynasty was overthrown and partly exterminated, and so “the butcher”
became the first of the `Abbasid Khalifs, so called as being of the
family of al-`Abbas the son of `Abdu l-Muttalib.

As soon as the Khalif Abu l-`Abbas was seated on the throne his chief
aim was to secure the establishment of his dynasty by getting rid of
all possible rivals, and it was the vigour he showed in doing this
which earned for him the title of “the Butcher.” First of all he hunted
down and slew all the representatives he could find of the `Umayyad
family. One of these escaped, `Abdu r-Rahman, and went to Africa where
he endeavoured to form a body of supporters without success, and then
crossed over to Spain where in 138 he established himself at Cordova,
and there he and his descendants ruled until 422 A.H. These Spanish
`Umayyads claimed to be legitimist rulers, but never assumed the divine
claims of the `Alid section.

Abu Muslim, who had done most to establish the `Umayyad dynasty, next
provoked the Khalif’s jealousy, probably with good cause for he was
indignant to find that “the Butcher” was no sooner on the throne than
he entirely discarded the Shi`ites who had helped to place him there,
and so within the first year of the `Abbasid rule Abu Muslim was put to

The fall of the `Umayyads brought an end to the tyranny of the
Arab minority, as it now was, and placed the preponderance for a clear
century (A.H. 132-232) in Persian hands. The government was remodelled
on Persian lines, and to Persian influence was due the institution
of the _wazir_ or responsible minister at the head of the executive.
The title is probably identical with the Old Persian _vi-chir_ or
“overseer” (thus Darmesteter: _Etudes Iraniennes_ i. p. 58. note 3.);
before this the chief minister was simply clerk (_kàtib_) or adviser
(_mushir_) and was simply one of the Khalif’s attendants who was
employed to conduct correspondence, or to give advice when occasion
required. In 135 the noble Persian family of Barmecides began to supply
_wazirs_, and these controlled the policy of the Khalifate until
189. From the time of al-Mansur (A.H. 136-158) onwards the Persians
began to assert their pre-eminence and a party was formed known as
the _Shu`ubiyya_ or “anti-Arab party” of those who held, not only
that the alien converts were equal to the Arabs, but that the Arabs
were a half savage and inferior race in all respects, contrasting
unfavourably with the Persians, Syrians, and Copts. This party produced
considerable mass of controversial literature in which free course was
given to the general dislike felt towards the Arabs and which reveals
the intensity of the contempt and hatred felt towards these parvenus.
The Arabs had boasted of their racial descent and had devoted much
attention to the keeping of their genealogies, at least in the century
immediately preceding the rise of Islam; as they had then only just
commenced to count descent in the father’s line these genealogies were
purely fictitious in so far as they dealt with pre-Islamic ancestors.
The Arabs were in fact a parvenu people only just emerging out of
barbarism (cf. Lammens: _Le berceau de l’islam._ p. 117). But the
Persians, no less careful about genealogical records, to which their
caste system had caused them to pay considerable attention, boasted
authentic genealogies of much greater antiquity. In literature, in
science, in Muslim canon law, in theology, and even in the scientific
treatment of Arabic grammar, the Persians very rapidly surpassed the
Arabs, so that we must be careful always to refer to Arabic philosophy,
Arabic science, etc., in the history of Muslim culture, rather than
to Arab philosophy, etc., remembering that, though expressed in the
Arabic language, the common medium of all the Muslim world, only in a
very few cases was it the work of Arabs: for the most part the Arabic
philosophers and scientists, historians, grammarians, theologians,
and jurists were Persians, Turks, or Berbers by birth, though using
the Arabic language. The fall of the `Umayyads and the replacing
of the Arabs by the Persians commences the golden age of Arabic
literature and scholarship. The older Arabic literature, that namely
which was written by Arabs as yet untouched by external influences,
consists entirely of poetry, the work of professional bards who sing
of desert life and warfare, lament over the deserted camping grounds,
boast of their tribe, and abuse their enemies. It forms a distinct
class of poetic composition, which has developed its own literary
standards, and attained a high standard of excellence in its way. In
many respects this older Arab poetry makes a special appeal to us,
it shows an observation of nature which is very striking, it has an
undercurrent of melancholy which seems an echo of the desert, and an
emotional side which seems convincing in its reality. At the same time
it has very distinct limitations in its range of interest and subject
matter. Undoubtedly a careful study of this early Arab poetry is a
necessary preparation for a proper appreciation of the literary forms
of Arabic and of its oldest vocabulary and syntax, and of recent years
much attention has been given to it. But this older Arabic poetry,
apparently a native production, but possibly influenced in pre-Islamic
times by some external contacts as yet undefined, comes to an end soon
after the fall of the `Umayyads, save in Spain, where, under the exiled
and fugitive remnant of the `Umayyad dynasty, the production of such
poetry survived. But this type of poetry is really outside our present
enquiry, save to note that it was a Persian scholar, Hammad b. Sabur
ar-Rawiya (d. circ. 156-159) who collected and edited the seven ancient
Arabic poems known as the _Mu`allaqat_ or “suspended,” i.e., the catena
or series, and thus set what may be called the classical standard of
the ancient poetry and vocabulary. At the accession of the Abbasids the
old Arab type passes away and the intellectual guidance of the Muslim
community passes into the hands of the Persians.



One of the first and most significant indications of the new
orientation of Muslim thought was the extensive production of Arabic
translations of works dealing with philosophical and scientific
subjects, with the result that eighty years after the fall of the
`Umayyads the Arabic speaking world possessed Arabic translations of
the greater part of the works of Aristotle, of the leading neo-Platonic
commentators, of some of the works of Plato, of the greater part
of the works of Galen, and portions of other medical writers and
their commentators, as well as of other Greek scientific works and
of various Indian and Persian writings. This period of activity in
translating falls into two stages, the first from the accession of the
Abbasids to the accession of al-Ma´mun (A.H. 132-198), when a large
amount of work was done by various independent translators, largely
Christians, Jews, and recent converts from non-Islamic religions; the
second under al-Ma´mun and his immediate successors, when the work of
translation mainly centered in the academy newly founded at Baghdad,
and a consistent effort was made to render the material necessary for
philosophical and scientific research available for the Arabic speaking

The earlier translation work is especially associated with _`Abdullah
b. al-Muqaffa`_, a native of Fars and originally a Zoroastrian, who
made his profession of faith before a brother of Muhammad b. `Ali,
the father of as-Saffah, and became his secretary. Presuming on his
employer’s protection he ventured to make derisive and impertinent
remarks to Arab dignitaries and especially to Sufyan, the governor of
Basra, whom he used to salute with a lewd jest against his mother’s
chastity. It seems that men of Arab birth who held political office
under the early `Abbasids often had to put up with such insults from
the ex-serfs. After an unsuccessful attempt at revolt by another of the
Khalif’s uncles Ibn al-Muqaffa` was directed to prepare a draft letter
of pardon to be presented to the Khalif al-Mansur, who succeeded his
brother as-Saffah, for his official seal, but he drew up the letter
in such terms as to arouse the Khalif’s indignation; amongst other
things the letter said, “if at any time the Commander of the Faithful
act perfidiously towards his uncle `Abdullah b. `Ali, his wives shall
be divorced from him, his horses shall be confiscated for the service
of God (in war), his slaves shall become free, and the Muslims loosed
from their allegiance to him.” The Khalif enquired who had prepared
this letter and on being informed directed Sufyan to put him to death.
Pleased thus to gratify his personal rancour the governor of Basra
executed Ibn al-Muqaffa` with great cruelty, though the details differ
in different accounts, in A.H. 142 or 143.

Although conforming to Islam, Ibn al-Muqaffa` was generally regarded
as a _Zindiq_, a term properly signifying a Manichæan but used loosely
by the Arabic writers to denote a member of one of the Persian
religions who professed outward conformity to Islam, but secretly
adhered to his own creed, or as a term of abuse to denote a heretic
of any sort. The word itself is a Persian rendering of _siddiq_ or
“initiate,” a title assumed by full members of the Manichæan sect.
It implies the possession of esoteric knowledge and from this idea
rose the practice common amongst the Shi`ite sects of concealing
their real beliefs from general profession and assuming the external
appearance of orthodoxy. Masudi (viii. 293) states that “many heresies
arose after the publication of the works of Mani, Ibn Daysan, and
Marcion translated from Persian and Pahlawi into Arabic by `Abdullah
b. al-Muqaffa` and others.” Under al-Mansur and by his orders,
translations were made from Greek, Syriac, and Persian, the Syriac and
Persian books being themselves translations from Greek or Sanskrit. The
best known work of Ibn Muqaffa, was the translation of the _Kalila
wa-Dimna_ or “Fables of Bidpai” from the Old Persian which was itself
a translation from the Sanskrit. Ibn al-Muqaffa’s translation into
Arabic is generally regarded as a standard model of Arabic prose.
The Persian original is lost, but a version in Syriac made from it
by the Nestorian missionary Budh, about A.D. 570, is extant and has
been published (ed. Bickell and Benfey. 1876); the Sanskrit original
also is lost in what was presumably its earlier form, but we find
its material in a much expanded form in two Sanskrit books, (i) in
the _Panchatantra_, which contains the stories which appear as 5, 7,
8, 9, 10, 17, of de Sacy’s Arabic text, and (ii) the _Mahabharata_,
which contains chapters 11, 12, 13. Evidently the old Syriac of Budh,
a translation of the Persian translation of the original, is the best
representative of the older form of the text. The Arabic version of
Ibn al-Muqaffa` shows a number of interpolations and additions which
all, of course, appear in the derived versions, in the later Syriac,
the several mediæval Persian translations which are made from the
Arabic and not from the old Persian, and in the numerous Latin, Hebrew,
Spanish, Persian, and Greek versions. It was this Arabic translation
which gave to the book a wider circulation than possessed before or
than it could ever have had, and introduced it to the western world.
The case was exactly parallel with Aristotle and similar material:
Arabic became a medium of extremely wide transmission and the additions
made as material passed through Arabic received a wide circulation also.

Ibn Muqaffa` lived in the reign of al-Mansur and during that same
period we are told (Masudi. viii. 291-2) that Arabic versions were made
of several treatises of Aristotle, of the _Almagesta_ of Ptolemy, of
the book of Euclid, and other material from the Greek. About 156 A.H.
an Indian traveller brought to Baghdad a treatise on arithmetic and
another on astronomy: the astronomical treatise was the _Siddhanta_
which came to be known to the Arabic writers as the _Sindhind_, it
was translated by Ibrahim al-Fazari and opened up a new interest in
astronomical studies: some little time afterwards Muhammad b. Musa
al-Kharizmi combined the Greek and Indian systems of astronomy, and
from this time forth the subject takes a prominent place in Arabic
studies. The great Arabic astronomers belong to a later generation,
such as Abu Ma`shar of Baghdad, the pupil of al-Kindi, who died in A.H.
272 (= A.D. 885), known to the Latin mediæval writers as “Abumazar,”
and Muhammad b. Jabir b. Sinan al-Battani (d. 317 A.H. = A.D. 929) who
was known as “Albategnius.” The Indian work on arithmetic was even more
important as by its means the Indian numerals were introduced, to be
passed on in due course as “Arabic” numerals, and this decimal system
of numbering has made possible an extension of arithmetical processes
and indeed of mathematics generally which would have been difficult
with any of the older and more cumbersome systems.

Al-Mansur, after founding Baghdad in A.H. 148 (= A.D. 765) summoned a
Nestorian physician, George Boktishu`, from the school at Junde-Shapur
and established him a court physician, and from this time there was a
series of Nestorian physicians connected with the court and forming a
medical school at Baghdad. George fell ill in Baghdad and was allowed
to retire to Junde-Shapur, his place being taken by his pupil Issa b.
Thakerbokht, who was the author of a book on therapeutics. Later came
Bokhtishu` son of George who was physician to Harunu r-Rashid in 171
(= A.D. 787), and then Gabriel, another son of George, who was sent to
attend Ja`far the Barmecide in 175 and stood high in Harun’s favour:
he wrote an introduction to logic, a letter to al-Ma´mun on foods and
drinks, a manual of medicine based on Dioscorus, Galen, and Paul of
Aegina, medical pandects, a treatise on perfumes, and other works. In
medicine, as will be remembered, the Indian system had been introduced
at Junde-Shapur and combined with the Greek, but the latter clearly
predominated. Another important settler in Baghdad was the Jewish
Syrian physician John bar Maserjoye, who translated the _Syntagma_ of
Aaron into Syriac and presided over the medical school gathered in the
Muslim capital. For a long time the Arabic work in medicine was limited
to translation of the great Greek authorities and practice on the lines
learned in Alexandria. We have already referred to the unfortunate
influence derived from the Egyptian school which diverted both medicine
and chemistry into semi-magical lines, an evil tendency from which the
Arabic school never quite freed itself. A considerable time elapsed
before the Arabic speaking community produced any original writers on
medicine. About the end of the third century we find Abu l-Abbas Ahmad
b. Thayib as-Sarakhsi, a pupil of al-Kindi, who is stated to have
written a treatise on the soul, an abridgment of Porphyry’s _Isagoge_,
and an introductory manual of medicine (Masudi. ii. 72). At that time
medical studies were still very largely in Christian and Jewish hands,
and we find the Syriac physician John ben Serapion (end of 9th cent.
A.D.) writing in Syriac medical pandects which were circulated in two
editions, the latter of which was translated into Arabic by several
writers independently and long afterwards into Latin by Gerard of

The father of Arabic medicine proper was Abu Bakr Muhammad b.
Zakariyya ar-Razi (d. A.H. 311-320 = A.D. 923-932) who was known to
Latin mediæval writers as “Razes,” a student of music, philosophy,
literature, and finally medicine. In his medical pandects he uses both
Greek and Indian authorities, and the introduction of these latter
in subordination to the classic authorities used at Alexandria was
the really important contribution made by the Arabic students to the
progress of science. Unfortunately ar-Razi’s work suffered from the
defect that it greatly lacks order and arrangement, it is a collection
of more or less separate treatises, and so not at all convenient to
use. For this reason more perhaps than any other he was replaced by
Ibn Sina (Avicenna) whose work, if anything, errs in the opposite
direction and suffers from an extremely elaborate arrangement and
systematization. It will be noticed that with the Arabic writers,
as with their Syriac predecessors, the leading medical writers were
usually also exponents of logic and commentators on Aristotle as well
as Galen.

The Khalif al-Mansur was the patron who did most to attract the
Nestorian physicians to the city of Baghdad which he had founded, and
he was also a prince who did much to encourage those who set themselves
to prepare Arabic translations of Greek, Syriac, and Persian works.
Still more important was the patronage given by the Khalif al-Ma´mun
who in A.H. 217 (= A.D. 832) founded a school at Baghdad, suggested
no doubt by the Nestorians and Zoroastrian schools already existing,
and this he called the _Bayt al-Hikma_ or “House of Wisdom,” and this
he placed under the guidance of Yahya b. Masawaih (d. A.H. 243 = A.D.
857), who was an author both in Syriac and Arabic, and learned also in
the use of Greek. His medical treatise on “Fevers” was long in repute
and was afterwards translated into Latin and into Hebrew.

The most important work of the academy however was done by Yahya’s
pupils and successors, especially _Abu Zayd Hunayn b. Ishaq al-Ibadi_
(d. 263 A.H. = A.D. 876), the Nestorian physician to whom we have
already referred as translating into Syriac the chief medical
authorities as well as parts of Aristotle’s Organon. After studying at
Baghdad under Yahya he visited Alexandria and returned, not only with
the training given at what was then the first medical school, but with
a good knowledge of Greek which he employed in making translations
in Syriac and Arabic. With him were associated his son Ishaq and his
nephew Hubaysh. Hunayn prepared Arabic translations of Euclid; of
various portions of Galen, Hippocrates, Archimedes, Apollonius, and
others, as well as of the Republic, Laws, and Timæus of Plato, the
Categories, Physics, and Magna Moralia of Aristotle, and the commentary
of Themistius on book 30 of the Metaphysics, as well as an Arabic
translation of the Bible. He also translated the spurious Mineralogy
of Aristotle, which long served as one of the leading authorities on
chemistry, and the medical pandects of Paul of Aegina. His son, besides
original works on medicine, produced Arabic versions of the Sophist of
Plato, the Metaphysics, _de anima_, _de generatione et de corruptione_,
and the Hermeneutica of Aristotle which Hunayn had translated into
Syriac, as well as some of the commentaries of Porphyry, Alexander of
Aphrodisias, and Ammonius. A little later we find the Syrian Christian
Questa b. Luqa, a native of Ba`albek, who had studied in Greece,
prominent as a translator.

The fourth century A.H. was the golden period of the Arabic
translators, and it is worth noting that, although the work was done
chiefly by Syriac speaking Christians, and inspired by Syriac tradition
a very large number of the translations were made directly from the
Greek, by men who had studied the language in Alexandria or Greece;
very often the same scholar made Syriac and Arabic translations from
the Greek text. There were also translators from the Syriac, but
these usually come after the translators from the Greek. Amongst the
Nestorian translators from Syriac was _Abu Bishr Matta b. Yunus_ (d.
328 A.H. = A.D. 939), who rendered into Arabic the Analytica Posteriora
and the poetics of Aristotle, Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary on
the _de generatione et de corruptione_, and Themistius’ commentary on
book 30 of the Metaphysics, all from the existing Syriac versions. He
was also the author of original commentaries on Aristotle’s Categories
and the Isagoge of Porphyry.

The Jacobite translators come on the scene after the Nestorians.
Amongst the Jacobites translating from Syriac to Arabic we find _Yahya
b. Adi_ of Takrit (d. 364), a pupil of Hunayn, who revised many of the
existing versions and prepared translations of Aristotle’s Categories,
Sophist. Elench., Poetics, and Metaphysics, Plato’s Laws and Timæus,
as well as Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary on the Categories and
Theophrastus on the Moralia. The Jacobite _Abu `Ali Isa b. Zaraah_
(d. 398) translated the Categories, the Natural History, and the _de
partibus animalium_, with the commentary of John Philoponus.

This is a convenient place to summarize briefly the range of
Aristotelian material available to Arabic students of philosophy. The
whole of the logical Organon was accessible in Arabic, and in this were
included the Rhetoric and Poetics, as well as Porphyry’s _Isagoge_.
Of the works on natural science they had the _Physica_, _de coelo_,
_de generatione et corruptione_, _de sensu_, the _Historia animalium_,
the spurious _Meteorologia_, and the _de anima_. On mental and moral
science they had the _Metaphysics_, the _Nicomachæan Ethics_ and the
_Magna Moralia_. Strangely enough the _Politics_ was not included in
the Aristotelian canon, its place being taken by Plato’s _Laws_ or
_Republic_. Besides these the Arabic students accepted as Aristotelian
a _Mineralogy_, of which we have no knowledge, and a _Mechanics_.

Of these the logical Organon always remained the basis of a humane
education, side by side with the indigenous study of grammar, and this
essentially logical basis of education seems to have been influenced
by the example of the existing system developed amongst the Syrians,
although it must be remembered a similar system was developed quite
independently in Latin scholasticism prior to the earliest contact
with the Arabic writers. The Aristotelian logic has always remained
an orthodox and generally accepted science. The philosophical and
theological controversies and the developments produced by the Arabic
philosophers centred mainly in questions of metaphysics and psychology,
and so were particularly concerned with the 12th book of _Metaphysics_
and the treatise _de anima_, more especially the 3rd book. As we have
already noted the psychology of Aristotle was interpreted in the light
of Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary, and thus received a theistic
and supernatural colouring which receives its fuller development in
neo-Platonic teaching.

Most important in the fuller development of this neo-Platonic doctrine
was the so-called _Theology of Aristotle_ which appeared in Arabic
about 226 A.H. It was in fact an abridged paraphrase of the last
three books (iv-vi) of the _Enneads_ of Plotinus made by Naymah of
Emessa, boldly circulated and generally received as a genuine work of
Aristotle. It might be regarded as a literary fraud, but it is quite
possible that Plotinus was confused with Plato whose name appears in
Arabic as _`Aflatun_, it seems indeed that this particular confusion
was made by some other writers, and the translators accepted the
current belief, maintained by all the neo-Platonic commentators, that
the teaching of Aristotle and that of Plato were substantially the
same, the superficial appearances of difference being such as could be
easily explained away. By means of this _Theology_ the fully developed
doctrine of the neo-Platonists was put into general circulation and
combined with the teaching of Alexander of Aphrodisias and thus
exercised an enormous influence on the philosophy of Islam in several
directions. In the hands of the philosophers properly so called it
developed an Islamic neo-Platonism which received its final form at the
hands of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and in this form
exercised a powerful influence over Latin scholasticism. Transmitted
in another atmosphere it affected Sufism or Muslim mysticism, and was
mainly responsible for the speculative theology which that mysticism
developed. In a modified form some of the resultant principles gathered
from these two sources finally entered into orthodox Muslim scholastic

The main points of this neo-Platonic doctrine as it figures in Muslim
theology present the teaching of the active intellect of _`aql fa``al_,
the Agent Intellect of Alexander Aph. as an emanation from God, and the
_`aql hayyulani_ or passive intellect in man only aroused to activity
by the operation of this Agent Intellect, which is substantially the
doctrine of Alexander Aph.: the aim of man is to attain a union or
_ittisal_ in which his intellect becomes one with the Agent Intellect,
although the means of attaining this union and the nature of the union
differ in the doctrines of the philosophers and the mystics, as we
shall see in due course.

Next to philosophy proper medical science is the most important
heritage received by the Arabic world from Hellenism. But this
science derived through an Alexandrian medium had a serious defect
in the accretions which the later Egyptian school had added to the
pure teaching of Galen and Hippocrates. As we have already noted
this accretion is of a quasi magical character and shows itself in
talismans, etc., and theories which are based on ideas which are now
classed as “sympathetic magic.”

The real impetus came ultimately from transmitted Hellenism,
but this influence was derived immediately from the Nestorians in
philosophy proper, and from the Nestorians and the Zoroastrian school
at Junde-Shapur in medicine. A good deal later comes the influence of
the pagan school at Harran, which also had a neo-Platonic tendency.
When the second Abbasid Khalif al-Mansur passed by Harran on his way
to fight against the Byzantine Emperor he was astonished to observe
the strange appearance of some of the citizens who came out to meet
him, wearing their hair long and having close fitting tunics. When the
Khalif asked whether they were Christians, Jews, or Zoroastrians, they
replied that they were neither. He then enquired if they were “people
of a book,” for it was only those who possessed written scriptures
who could be tolerated in Muslim dominions; but to this they returned
such hesitating and ambiguous replies that the Khalif at length felt
convinced that he had discovered a colony of pagans, as was the case,
and he ordered them to adopt some one or other of the “religions of
the book” before his return from the war, or to suffer the penalty of
death. At this they were greatly alarmed: some of them became Muslims,
others Christians or Zoroastrians, but some declined to desert their
traditional beliefs. These latter naturally had the most anxious time,
wondering how they could contrive to evade the Khalif’s demands. At
length a Muslim lawyer offered to show them a way out of the difficulty
if they paid him a substantial fee for doing so. The fee was paid and
he advised them to claim to be Sabians, because Sabians are mentioned
in the Qur´an as belonging to a religion “of the book,” but no one
knew who the Sabians were. There is a sect known as _Sabiyun_ or
_Sabaean_, whose religion is a strange mixture of ancient Babylonian
state worship, Christian Gnosticism, and Zoroastrianism, living in the
mashe lands near Basra, but they had always been careful to keep their
religious beliefs secret from all outsiders, and although they were no
doubt the sect mentioned in the Qur´an under the name of _Sabiyun_ or
_Sabians_, none could prove that the pagans of Harran were not also
comprised under this term. The Khalif never did pass back by Harran,
the pagans who had assumed the name of Sabian continued to use it,
those who had become Christians or Zoroastrians reverted to their old
faith and submitted to its new name; those who had become Muslims were
obliged to remain so as the penalty of death lay upon any who became
renegades from that religion.

The most distinguished of the _alumni_ of Harran was Thabit b. Qurra
(d. 289 A.H.), a scholar familiar with Greek, Syriac, and Arabic, who
produced many works on logic, mathematics, astrology, and medicine, as
well as on the ritual and beliefs of the paganism to which he remained
faithful. Following in his footsteps were his son Abu Sa`id Sinan, his
grandsons Ibrahim and Abu l-Hasan Thabit, and his great grandsons Ishaq
and Abu l-Faraj. All these specialized in mathematics and astronomy.

It seems that we ought to associate with Harran _Jabir b. Hayyan_
a perfectly historical character but of somewhat uncertain date, but
believed to have been a pupil of the `Umayyad prince Khalid, who
distinguished himself by his researches in chemistry. Many chemical
treatises bear the name of Jabir and a great proportion of these are
probably quite authentic. M. Berthelot in the 3rd volume of his _La
chimie au moyen age_ (Paris, 1893) has made a careful analysis of the
Arabic chemists and regards the whole material capable of division
into two classes, the one a reproduction of the investigations of
the Greek chemists of Alexandria, the other as representing original
investigations, though based upon the Alexandrian studies in the
first place, and all this original material he regards as due to the
initiative of Jabir who thus becomes in chemistry very much what
Aristotle was in logic. Berthelot publishes in this book six treatises
claiming to be by Jabir, and these he regards as representative of
all Arabic chemical material, the later investigators continuing in
the lines laid down by this first investigator. For a long time the
main object in view was the transmutation of metals, but at a later
period chemistry enters into closer connection with medical work though
never losing the metallurgical character which we imply when we speak
of “alchemy.” The object in view of the Arabic students of alchemy
does not appeal to the modern scientist, although the possibility of
transmuting elements is no longer regarded as the impossible dream
which it appeared to the chemists of the nineteenth century: and, at
the same time, it is perfectly clear that with admitted limitations,
the Arabic chemists were bona fide investigators, though not
understanding correctly the results of the experiments they made.

All the texts published by M. Berthelot begin with the warning that the
contents are to be kept strictly secret, and often contain a statement
that some essential process is omitted in order that the unenlightened
student may not be able to perform the experiments successfully, lest
the wholesale production of gold should be a means of corrupting the
whole human race. Undoubtedly the Arabic chemists did claim to have
attained a knowledge of the means of transmuting the baser metals into
gold but the histories contain various references which show that these
claims were adversely criticised by many contemporary thinkers, and
that a great many of the Arabic writers regarded chemistry, as it was
then understood, as a mere imposture. More than once it was noted that
the philosopher al-Farabi, who fully believed that it was possible to
change other metals into gold and wrote a treatise on how it might be
done, himself lived and died in great poverty, whilst Ibn Sina, who did
not believe in alchemy, enjoyed modest comfort and could have commanded
wealth had he been willing to accept it.

In the course of the middle ages various treatises by Jabir were
translated into Latin, where his name appears as Geber, and exercised a
considerable influence in producing a western school of alchemy. Before
long many original alchemical works were produced in Western Europe and
a considerable proportion of these were published under the name of
Geber but are pure forgeries. As a result the personality of Geber took
a semi mythical character and attempts have been made to account for
the diverse and contradictory statements about his life and death, and
about the country and century in which he lived by supposing that there
were several persons who bore the name; but the fact seems to be that
he early attained a position of great prominence as a chemical writer,
and that later ages fathered on him a number of apocryphal productions.
Berthelot considers that the best evidence associates him with Harran
in the early part of the second century of the Hijra.



When the Aristotelian philosophy was first made known to the Muslim
world it was received almost as a revelation supplementing the Qur´an.
At that time it was very imperfectly understood and the discrepancies
between it and orthodox theology were not perceived. Thus the Qur´an
and Aristotle were read together and regarded as supplementing one
another in perfect good faith, but inevitably the conclusions, and
still more perhaps the methods, of Greek philosophy began to act as a
powerful solvent on the traditional beliefs.

Maqrizi refers to the Mu`tazilites as seizing with avidity on the
books of the philosophers, and certainly now new difficulties begin to
appear as well as the two great problems which had been prominent at
the beginning of the second century--the eternity of the Qur´an and the
question of free will. The new difficulties were especially concerned
with the qualities of God and, later, with the Qur´anic promise of the
beatific vision. The problem of the qualities of God is very closely
parallel to the earlier difficulty as to the eternity of the Qur´an,
indeed it appears as an enlargement of it. Christian theologians
educated in the methods of Greek philosophy had already debated this
matter, and in their hands it had taken the form of the question, “how
many, and what, attributes are compatible with the unity of God?” If
God’s wisdom, whether expressed in the Qur´an or not expressed, were
eternal there was something which God possessed, and consequently
something other than God which was equal to him in eternity and was not
created by him, so that it could not be said that God was alone and
that all other things proceeded from him as their cause as the eternal
quality always was side by side with God, and so Wasil b. `Ata declared
“he who affirms an eternal quality beside God, affirms two gods.” But
this applies equally to all qualities, justice, mercy, etc., and, as
was suggested by the study of Aristotle, all the categories, all that
could be predicated of God as subject, were either created by God and
so were not essential and eternal attributes, or else were external
things equal with God.

The second generation of Mu`tazilites, of those who begin to show
direct acquaintance with Greek philosophy, begins with _Abu l-Hudayl
al-Allaf_ of Basra (d. 226 A.H.), who lived at the time when Greek
philosophy was beginning to be studied with great ardour and was
received without question. He admits the attributes of God and regards
them as eternal, but treats them on lines very similar to those
employed by the Christians in dealing with the divine hypostases, that
is to say, they are not external things possessed by God but modes or
phases of the divine essence. The will of God for example, he treats
as a mode of knowledge, that is to say that God wills what is good
is equivalent to saying that God knows it to be good. But in dealing
with the will we must distinguish between (a) that which exists in
place, as the moral rules in God’s commandments to men, for there
could be no will against theft until the creation of things which
could be stolen; in such case the will exists in time and is created,
for it depends upon a created thing: and (b) that which exists not
in place and without an object to which the will refers, as when God
willed to create before the thing to be created existed. In man the
inner volition is free, but the outer acts are not free; sometimes
they are controlled by external forces in the body, or even outside
the body, and sometimes they are controlled by the inner volition.
Aristotle speaks of the universe as existing from eternity, but the
Qur´an refers to its creation, yet these are not inconsistent: we
must suppose that it existed eternally, but in perfect quiescence and
stillness, as it were latent and potential rather than actual, and
without those qualities which appear in the categories of logic and
are to us the only known terms of existence. Creation meant that God
brought in movement so that things began to exist in time and space,
and the universe comes to an end when it returns again to the state of
absolute rest in which it was at the beginning. Men can distinguish
between good and evil by the light of reason, for good and evil have
objective characters which can be recognised so that our knowledge of
this difference does not depend only on God’s revelation: but no man
can know anything about God but by the medium of revelation which is
given principally for this purpose.

_Ibrahim b. Sayar an-Nazzam_ (d. 231), the next great Mu`tazilite
leader was a devoted student of the Greek philosophers and an
encyclopædic writer. In this he was typical of the earlier Arabic
philosophers whose endeavour was to apply Greek science to the
interpretation of life and nature generally, an aim which necessarily
tended to produce encyclopædic compilations rather than original
studies in any one field of knowledge. Already the Mu`tazilites had
reached the position that good and evil represent objective realities
and that God, knowing the good, does not will that which is contrary
to it; but an-Nazzam presses this further and asserts that God can do
nothing in the creature save what is for its good and is in itself
just. To this the objection was raised that in such case God’s own
acts are determined and are not free. An-Nazzam replied that he
admitted this determination, not in action but in potentiality as God
is restricted by his own nature. He attempted to reproduce the ancient
doctrine that the soul is the form of the body, as had already been
asserted by Aristotle, but he misunderstood the terminology employed
and represents the soul as of the same shape as the body. This implies
that the soul is a very subtile kind of substance permeating the whole
body in the same way as butter permeates milk, or as oil permeates
the sesame: both soul and body are equal in size and alike in shape.
Freedom of the will is peculiar to God and man, all other created
things are subject to necessity. God created all things at once in
remote eternity, but reserved them in a state of quiescence so that
they may be described as “concealed,” and then projected them into
active existence at successive intervals.

The next great Mu`tazilite leader was _Bishr b. Mu`tamir_ (d. 226
circ.) in whose work we find a more definite attempt to apply
philosophical speculation to the practical needs of Islam. In the case
of free will he enters directly into the question of how far external
influences limit freedom of the will and so diminish responsibility.
Infants cannot be condemned to eternal punishment because they have no
responsibility, having never exercised free will. Unbelievers, however,
are condemned to punishment because, although they have not the help
of revelation, it is possible for them to know that there must be a
God, and only one God, by the light of reason. In dealing with actions
and their moral values we have to consider not only one agent and one
object, but often a series, the act being transmitted from one to the
other so that each of the intervening objects becomes the agent to the
next object. This serial connection he termed “begetting” (_tawullud_).

_Ma`mar b. Abbad as-Sulami_ (d. 220) describes God as creating
substances but not accidents, so that he produced a kind of universal
matter common to all existing things and to this matter or essence the
accidents are added, some produced by a force inherent in the essence
created, others by free will on the part of the creature. Following the
neo-Platonic commentators on Aristotle he treats the attributes of God
as purely negative, so that God is unknowable by man. In the case of
wisdom or knowledge, that which is known must either be identical with
God, or external to him: if God is the agent who knows and that which
is known as object is also himself, there is a distinction between
God the agent and God the object which implies two persons, and this
is subversive of the divine unity: but if God is the agent and knows
something external to himself, that knowledge depends on the external
object, and God therefore is not absolute but in some sense dependent
on something other than himself. Hence the attributes of God cannot
be such as the positive qualities which exist in man, but only the
negation of those which are distinctively human and dependent: we can
only say that he is infinite, meaning unlimited in space, or eternal
as unlimited in time, or other like terms negative of the known things
which can be predicated of man. The general tendency of Ma`mar’s
teaching is distinctly pantheistic: partly this is due to the logical
development of a tendency already inherent in the neo-Platonic doctrine
with which all Arabic thought was now becoming saturated, and partly it
was due to oriental influences which were now beginning to appear in

Ma´mar’s pantheism was more fully developed by _Tumameh b. al-Ashras_
(d. 213) who treats the world as indeed created by God, but created
according to a law of nature so that it is the expression of a force
latent in God and not due to an act of volition. Tumameh entirely
deserts al-Allaf’s attempt to reconcile the Aristotelian doctrine of
the eternity of matter with the teaching of the Qur´an, and quite
frankly states that the universe is eternal like God. This is by
no means the last word in Islamic pantheism, but its subsequent
development rather belongs to the doctrines of the extremer Shi`ite
sects and to Sufism.

Reverting to an-Nazzam, the great leader of the middle age of the
Mu`tazilites, we find his teaching continued by his pupils _Ahmad
b. Habit_, _Fadl al-Hudabi_, and _`Amr b. Bahr al-Jahiz_. On the
theological side all the Mu`tazilites admitted the eternal salvation
of good Muslims, and most agreed that unbelievers would receive
eternal punishment: but there were differences of view as to those
who were believers but died unrepentant in sin. For the most part the
Mu`tazilites took the lax view that these would be favourably treated
as against the rigorist opinion which reserved eternal salvation to
good Muslims, an opinion which appeared amongst the stricter believers
during the `Umayyad period. The two first named of an-Nazzam’s pupils,
however, introduced a new theory entirely repugnant to orthodox Islam,
though familiar to the extremer Shi`ite sects, that those neither
decisively good nor absolutely bad, pass by transmigration into other
bodies until they finally deserve either salvation or damnation. With
these two thinkers also we are brought into contact with another
problem which now began to present itself to Islam, the doctrine of the
“beatific vision.” Islam generally had expected the vision of God to be
the chief of the rewards enjoyed in paradise, but the treatment of the
attributes of God had been so definitely against the anthropomorphic
ideas expressed in the Qur´an that it became difficult to explain
what could be meant by “seeing God.” Ahmad and Fadl dealing with this
subject deny that men ever will or can see God; the beatific vision
can at most mean that they are brought face to face with the “Agent
Intellect” which is an emanation from the First Cause, and “seeing” in
such a connection must of course mean something quite different from
what we understand as vision.

_`Amr b. Bahr al-Jahiz_ (d. 255), the third of an-Nazzam’s pupils
mentioned above, may be regarded as the last of the middle period
of the Mu`tazilites. He was an encyclopædic writer according to
the fashion of the time and wrote on literature, theology, logic,
philosophy, geography, natural history, and other subjects (cf. Masudi
viii. 33, etc.) To free will he gives rather a new bearing. The will
he regards as simply a manner of knowing and so as an accident of
knowledge; a voluntary act he defines as one known to its agent. Those
who are condemned to the fire of hell do not suffer eternally by it,
but are changed by its purification. The term “Muslim” must be taken
to include all who believe that God has neither form or body, since
the attribution of a human form to God is the essential mark of the
idolater, that he is just and wills no evil, and that Muhammad is his
prophet. Substance he treats as eternal, accidents are created and

We have now reached the third stage of the history of the Mu`tazilites,
that which marks their decline. During this latter period they divide
into two schools, that of Basra giving its attention mainly to the
attributes of God, that of Baghdad being chiefly occupied with the more
purely philosophical discussion of what is meant by an existing thing.

The Basrite discussions received their final form in the dispute
between _al-Jubbay_ (d. 303) and his son _Abu Hashim_ (d. 321). The
latter held that the attributes of God are distinct _modes_ of being,
we know the essence under such varying modes or conditions, but they
are not _states_, nor are they thinkable apart from the essence, though
they are distinct from it but do not exist apart from it. Against this
his father objected that these subjective attributes are only names
and convey no concept. The attributes are thus asserted to be neither
qualities nor states so as to imply subject or agent, but they are
inseparably united with the essence.

Against all views of this sort the orthodox adhered, and still adhere
to the opinion that God has real qualities. Those who laid emphasis on
this in opposition to the Mu`tazilite speculations are commonly known
as _Sifatites_ (_sifat_, qualities), but they admit that, as God is
not like a man, the qualities attributed to him in the Qur´an are not
the same as those qualities bearing the same names which are referred
to men, and it is not possible for us to know the real import of the
qualities attributed to God.

A more pronounced recoil against the Mu`tazilite speculations appears
in Abu `Abdullah b. Karram (d. 256) and his followers who were known
as Karramites. These returned to a crude anthropomorphism and held
that God not only has qualities of precisely the same kind as a man
may have, but that he actually sits on a throne, etc., taking in plain
literal sense all the statements made in the Qur´an.

The Mu`tazilite school of Baghdad concerned itself mainly with the
metaphysical question--“what is a thing?” It was admitted that “thing”
denotes a concept which could be known and could serve as subject to a
predicate. It does not necessarily exist, for existence is a quality
added to the essence: with this addition the essence becomes an entity
(_mawjud_), without this addition it is a non-entity (_ma`dum_) but
still has substance and accident, so that God creates by adding the
single attribute of existence.

The whole course of Mu`tazilite speculation shows the influence of
Greek philosophy as applied to Muslim theology, but the influence is
for the most part indirect. The ideas of Aristotle, as the course of
speculation projected to the forefront the problems with which he had
dealt in times past, were received through a Syriac Christian medium,
for the most part imperfectly understood and somewhat modified by the
emphasis which Christian controversy had given to certain particular
aspects. More or less directly prompted by the Mu`tazilite controversy
we have three other lines of development: in the first place we have
the “philosophers” as the name is used by the Arabic writers, meaning
those students and commentators who based their work directly on the
Greek text or at least on the later and better versions. In their hands
philosophical enquiry took a somewhat changed direction as they began
to understand better the real meaning of what Aristotle had taught.
In the second place we have the orthodox theology of al-Ash`ari,
al-Ghazali, and others, which represents Muslim theological science as
modified and partly directed by Aristotelian philosophy, consciously
endeavouring to make a working compromise between that philosophy and
Muslim theology. The older Mu`tazilite tradition came to an end in the
time of al-Ash`ari: men who felt the force of philosophical questions
either adopted the orthodox scholasticism of al-Ash`ari and those
who came after him, or followed the course of the philosophers and
drift away from the traditional beliefs of Islam altogether. In the
third place we have the Sufi movement, in which we find neo-Platonic
elements mingled with others from the east, from India and Persia. The
Mu`tazilites proper come to an end with the fourth century A.H.



The Aristotelian philosophy was first made known to the Muslim world
through the medium of Syriac translations and commentaries, and the
particular commentaries used amongst the Syrians never ceased to
control the direction of Arabic thought. From the time of al-Ma´mun
the text of Aristotle began to be better known, as translations were
made directly from the Greek, and this resulted in a more accurate
appreciation of his teaching, although still largely controlled by
the suggestions of the commentaries circulated amongst the Syrians.
The Arabic writers give the name of _failasuf_ (plur. _falasifa_), a
transliteration of the Greek [Greek: philosophos φιλόσοφος], to those
who based their study directly on the Greek text, either as translators
or as students of philosophy, or as the pupils of those who used the
Greek text. The word is used to denote a particular series of Arabic
scholars who arose in the third century A.H. and came to an end in the
seventh century, and who had their origin in the more accurate study
of Aristotle based on an examination of the Greek text and the Greek
commentators whose work was circulated in Syria, and is employed as
though these _falasifa_ formed a particular sect or school of thought.
Other philosophical students were termed _hakim_ or _nazir_.

The line of these _falasifa_ forms the most important group in the
history of Islamic culture. It was they who were largely responsible
for awakening Aristotelian studies in Latin Christendom, and it was
they who developed the Aristotelian tradition which Islam had received
from the Syriac community, correcting and revising its contents by a
direct study of the Greek text and working out their conclusions on
lines indicated by the neo-Platonic commentators.

The first of the series is _Yaqub b. Ishaq al-Kindi_ (d. circ. 260
A.H. = 873 A.D.), who began very much as a Mu`tazilite interested in
the theological problems discussed by the members of that school of
thought, but desirous of testing and examining these more accurately,
made use of the translations taken directly from the Greek and then
only recently published. By this means he brought a much stricter
method to bear, and thus opened the way to an Aristotelian scholarship
much in advance of anything which had been contemplated so far.
As a result his pupils and those who came after them raised new
questions and ceased to confine themselves to Mu`tazilite problems,
and al-Kindi was their intellectual ancestor in those new enquiries
which his methods and his use of the Greek text alone made possible.
It is a strange fact that al-Kindi, the parent of Arabic philosophy,
was himself one of the very few leaders of Arabic thought who was a
true Arab by race. For the most part the scientists and philosophers
of the Muslim world were of Persian, Turkish, or Berber blood, but
al-Kindi was descended from the Yemenite kings of Kinda (cf. genealogy
quoted from the _Tarikh al-Hakama_ cited in note (22) of De Slane’s
trans. of Ibn Khallikan, vol. i. p. 355). Very little is known about
his life, save that his father was governor of Kufa, that he himself
studied at Baghdad, under what teachers is not known, and stood high
in favour with the Khalif Mu`tasim (A.H. 218-227). His real training
and equipment lay in a knowledge of Greek, which he used in preparing
translations of Aristotle’s _Metaphysics_, Ptolemy’s _Geography_, and a
revised edition of the Arabic version of Euclid. Besides this he made
Arabic abridgments of Aristotle’s _Poetica_ and _Hermeneutica_, and
Porphyry’s _Isagoge_, and wrote commentaries on Aristotle’s _Analytica
Posteriora_, _Sophistica Elenchi_, the _Categories_, the apocryphal
_Apology_; on Ptolemy’s _Almagesta_ and Euclid’s _Elements_, and
original treatises, of which the essay “On the Intellect” and another
“On the five essences” are the most noteworthy (Latin tr. by A. Nagy in
Baeumker and Hertling’s _Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie des
MA._ II. 5. Münster, 1897).

He accepted as genuine the _Theology of Aristotle_ which had been put
into circulation by Naymah of Emessa, and, we are told, revised the
Arabic translation. The _Theology_ was an abridgment of the last three
books of Plotinus’ _Enneads_, and presumably al-Kindi compared this
with the text of the _Enneads_, corrected the terminology and general
sense in accordance with the original, and evidently did so without any
suspicion that it was not a genuine work of Aristotle. The _Theology_
had not been long introduced to the Muslim world, and it is certain
that the use of it made by al-Kindi was a main cause of its subsequent
importance. Endorsed by him it not only took an assured place in
the Aristotelian canon, but became the very kernel of the teaching
developed by the whole series of _falasifa_, emphasizing the tendencies
already marked in the commentary of Alexander of Aphrodisias. The
influence of the _Theology_ and of Alexander appear most clearly in
the treatise “On the Intellect” which is based on the doctrine of the
faculties of the soul as described in Aristotle’s _de anima_ II. ii.
Al-Kindi, developing the doctrine as presented by the neo-Platonic
commentators, describes the faculties or degrees of intelligence in the
soul as four, of which three are actually and necessarily in the human
soul, but one enters from outside and is independent of the soul. Of
the three former one is latent or potential, as the knowledge of the
art of writing is latent in the mind of one who has learned to write;
the second is active, as when the scribe evokes from the latent state
this knowledge of writing which he desires to put into practice; the
third is the degree of intelligence actually involved in the operation
of writing, where the knowledge now quickened into activity guides and
directs the act. The external faculty is the “Agent Intellect” (_`aql
fa``al_) which proceeds from God by way of emanation and which, though
acting on the faculties in the body, is independent of the body, as its
knowledge is not based upon perceptions obtained through the senses.

It is futile to maintain that the history of Arabic philosophy shows a
lack of originality in the Semitic mind; for one thing not one of the
philosophers of first rank after al-Kindi was of Arab birth, very few
could be described as Semitic. It would be more correct to say that the
Greek philosophers stood alone, until quite modern times, in attempting
anything which could be described as a scientific psychology. Until
the methods and material of modern natural science came to be applied
to psychological research there was little, if any, advance on the
psychological theories of the ancient Greek investigators, and the only
point of difference in later schools was as to which particular aspect
of ancient research would be selected as the starting-place. Here
lies the great importance of al-Kindi, for it was he who selected and
indicated the starting-point which all the later Arabic philosophers
began from, and selected the material which they developed. The
particular basis thus selected by al-Kindi was the psychology of
Aristotle’s _de Anima_ as expounded by Alexander of Aphrodisias. This
was suggested but not in all respects clearly indicated by the Syriac
philosophers, and it seems certain that al-Kindi’s development was
very largely influenced by the _Theology of Aristotle_, a work which
he evidently esteemed very greatly. The relation between Alexander
Aphr. and Plotinus, whose teaching appeared in the _Theology_, may be
described as being that Alexander’s teaching contained all the germs
of neo-Platonism, whilst Plotinus shows the neo-Platonic system fully
worked out. As first presented this system must have seemed fully
consistent with the teaching of the Qur´an, indeed it would appear as
complementary to it. In man was an animal soul which he shared with
the lower creation, but added to it was a rational soul or spirit
which proceeded directly from God and was immortal because it was not
dependent on the body. The possible conclusions which proved to be
inconsistent with the teachings of revelation were not as yet fully
worked out.

We need not linger over al-Kindi’s logical teaching which carried on
and corrected Arabic study of the Aristotelian logic. This was not a
mere side issue, it is true, although logic did not play so important
a part in Arabic education as it did in Syriac. In Syriac it was the
basis of all that we should regard as the humanities, but in Arabic
this position was taken by the study of grammar, which was developed
on rather fresh and independent lines, though slightly modified by the
study of logic in later times. Still, so long as the Muslim world had
any claim to be regarded as fostering philosophical studies, and to a
less degree even in later times, the Aristotelian logic has been only
second to grammar as the basis of a humane education. Al-Kindi’s real
influence is shown in the introduction of the problems of psychology
and of metaphysics, and the work of the _falasifa_ centres in these two
studies on the lines indicated by al-Kindi.

In psychology, as we have seen, al-Kindi introduced a system already
fully developed by Alexander and the neo-Platonic commentators on
Aristotle, kept alive amongst the Syriac students of philosophy,
and then further developed from this point by his successors. In
metaphysics the circumstances were different. Al-Kindi apparently
was the one who introduced the problems of metaphysics to the Muslim
world, but it is obvious that he did not clearly understand Aristotle’s
treatment of these problems. The problems involved in the ideas of
movement, time, and place are treated by Aristotle in books iv., v.
and vii. of the _Physics_, which had been translated by al-Kindi’s
contemporary, Hunayn. b. Ishaq, and in the _Metaphysics_, of which at
the time no Arabic translation existed, so that, so far as it was used,
al-Kindi must have consulted the Greek text.

The essay “On the Five Essences” treats the ideas of the five
conditions of matter, form, movement, time, and place. Of these he
defines (a) matter as that which receives the other essences but cannot
itself be received as an attribute, and so if the matter is taken away
the other four essences are necessarily removed also. (b) Form is of
two kinds, that which is the essential of the genius, being inseparable
from the matter, and that which serves to describe the thing itself,
i.e., the ten Aristotelian categories--substance, quantity, quality,
relation, place, time, situation, condition, action, and passion;
and this form is the faculty whereby a thing (_shay´_) is produced
from formless matter, as fire is produced from the coincidence of
dryness and heat, the matter being the dryness and heat, the form
being the fire; without form the matter is abstract but real, becoming
a thing when it takes form. As De Vaux points out (_Avicenne_, p.
85) this illustration shows that al-Kindi does not grasp Aristotle’s
meaning correctly. (c) Movement is of six kinds: two are variations
in substance, as either generation or corruption, i.e., production or
destruction; two are variations in quantity by increase or decrease;
one is variation in quality, and one is change of position. (d) Time is
itself akin to movement, but proceeds always and only in one direction;
it is not movement, though akin, for movement shows diversities of
direction. Time is known only in relation to a “before” or “after,”
like movement in a straight line and at a uniform rate, and so can only
be expressed as a series of continuous numbers. (e) Place is by some
supposed to be a body, but this is refuted by Aristotle: it is rather
the surface which surrounds the body. When the body is taken away the
place does not cease to exist, for the vacant space is instantly filled
by some other body, air, water, etc., which has the same surrounding
surface. Admittedly al-Kindi shows a crude treatment of these ideas,
but he was the first to direct Arabic thought in this direction, and
from these arose a new attitude towards the revealed doctrine of
creation on the part of those who came after him.

Al-Kindi, the “Philosopher of the Arabs,” as he was called (circ.
365), contains our best account of the various sects existing in Islam
towards the end of the 3rd century A.H. as he met them in the course of
his travels. It has been published as the second volume of De Goeje’s
_Bibliotheca Geographorum Arab_. (Leiden., 1873).

The next great philosopher was _Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Tarkhan Abu
Nasr al-Farabi_ (d. 339), of Turkish descent. He was “a celebrated
philosopher, the greatest indeed that the Muslims ever had; he composed
a number of works on logic, music, and other sciences. No Musulman
ever reached in the philosophical sciences the same rank as he, and
it was by the study of his writings and the imitation of his style
that Avicenna attained proficiency and rendered his own works so
useful.” (Ibn Khallikan, iii. 307). He was born at Farab or Otrar near
Balasaghum, but travelled widely. In the course of his wanderings he
came to Baghdad but, as at the time he knew no Arabic, he was unable
to enter into the intellectual life of the city. He set himself first
to acquire a knowledge of the Arabic language, and then became a pupil
of the Christian physician Matta b. Yunus, who was at that time a
very old man, and under him he studied logic. To increase his studies
he removed to Harran, where he met the Christian philosopher Yuhanna
b. Khailan, and continued to work at logic under his direction. He
then returned to Baghdad, where he set to work at the Aristotelian
philosophy, in the course of his studies reading the _de anima_ 200
times, the _Physics_ 40 times. His chief interest, however, was in
logic, and it is on his logical work that his fame chiefly rests. From
Baghdad he went to Damascus, and thence to Egypt, but returned to
Damascus, where he settled for the rest of his life. At that time the
empire of the Khalifa of Baghdad was beginning to split up into many
states, just like the Roman Empire under the later Karlings, and the
officials of the Khalifate were forming semi-independent principalities
under the nominal suzerainty of the Khalif and establishing hereditary
dynasties. The Hamdanids Shi`ites, who began to rule in Mosul in 293,
established themselves at Aleppo in 333 and achieved great fame and
power as successful leaders against the Byzantine emperors. In 334
(= 946 A.D.) the Hamdanid Prince Sayf ad-Dawla took Damascus, and
al-Farabi lived under his protection. At that period the orthodox were
distinctly reactionary, and it was the various Shi`ite rulers who
showed themselves the patrons of science and philosophy.

At Damascus al-Farabi led a secluded life. Most of his time he spent
by the borders of one of the many streams which are so characteristic
a feature of Damascus, or in a shady garden, and here he met and
talked with his friends and pupils. He was accustomed to write his
compositions on loose leaves, “for which reason nearly all his
productions assume the form of detached chapters and notes; some
of them exist only in fragments and unfinished. He was the most
indifferent of men for the things of this world; he never gave himself
the least trouble to acquire a livelihood or possess a habitation. Sayf
al-Dawla settled on him a daily pension of four dirhams out of the
public treasury, this moderate sum being the amount to which al-Farabi
had limited his demand.” (Ibn Khallikan, iii. 309-310.)

Al-Farabi was the author of a series of commentaries on the logical
Organon, which contained nine books according to the Arabic reckoning,

  (i.)    The Isagoge of Porphyry.
  (ii.)   The Categories or al-Maqulat.
  (iii.)  The Hermeneutica or al-´Ibara or al-Tafsir.
  (iv.)   The Analytica Priora or al-Qiyas I.
  (v.)    The Analytica Posteriora or al-Burhan.
  (vi.)   The Topica or al-Jadl.
  (vii.)  The Sophistica Elenchi or al-Maghalit.
  (viii.) The Rhetoric or al-Khataba.
  (ix.)   The Poetics or ash-Shi`r.

He also wrote an “Introduction to Logic” and an “Abridgment of Logic”;
indeed, as we have already noted, his main work lay in the exposition
of logic. He took some interest in political science and edited a
summary of the laws of Plato, which very often replaces the Politics
in the Arabic Aristotelian canon. In Ethics he wrote a commentary on
the Nicomachæan Ethics of Aristotle, but ethical theory did not, as
a rule, appeal greatly to Arabic students. In natural science he was
the author of commentaries on the _Physics_, _Meteorology_, _de coelo_
et _de mundo_ of Aristotle, as well as of an essay “On the movement
of the heavenly spheres.” His work in psychology is represented by a
commentary on Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary on the _De Anima_,
and by treatises “On the soul,” “On the power of the soul,” “On the
unity and the one,” and “On the intelligence and the intelligible,”
some of which afterwards circulated in mediæval Latin translations,
which continued to be reprinted well into the 17th century (e.g., De
intelligentia et de intelligibili. Paris, 1638). In metaphysics he
wrote essays on “Substance,” “Time,” “Space and Measure,” and “Vacuum.”
In mathematics he wrote a commentary on the _Almagesta_ of Ptolemy, and
a treatise on various problems in Euclid. He was a staunch upholder
of the neo-Platonic theory that the teaching of Aristotle and that of
Plato are essentially in accord and differ only in superficial details
and modes of expression; he wrote treatises “On the agreement between
Plato and Aristotle” and on “The object before Plato and Aristotle.” In
essays “Against Galen” and “Against John Philoponus” he criticised the
views of those commentators, and endeavoured to defend the orthodoxy
of Aristotle by making them responsible for apparent discrepancies
with the teaching of revelation. He was interested also in the occult
sciences, as appears from his treatises “On geomancy,” “On the Jinn,”
and “On dreams.” His chemical treatise called _kimiya t-Tabish_, “the
chemistry of things heated,” has been classed as a work on natural
science and also as a treatise on magic; this was the unfortunate
direction which Arabic chemistry was taking. He also wrote several
works on music. (Cf. Schmölders: _Documenta Philos. Arab._ Bonn., 1836,
for Latin versions of select treatises).

As we have already noted, his primary importance was as a teacher of
logic. A great deal of what he has written is simply a reproduction
of the outlines of the Aristotelian logic and an exposition of its
principles, but De Vaux (_Avicenne_, pp. 94-97) has drawn attention
to evidences of original thought in his “Letter in reply to certain

Like al-Kindi he accepted the _Theology_ as a genuine work of
Aristotle, and shows very clear traces of its influences. In his
treatise “On the intelligence” he makes a careful analysis of the way
in which the term _`aql_ (reason, intelligence, spirit) is employed
in general speech and in philosophical enquiry. In common language
“a man of intelligence” denotes a man of reliable judgment, who uses
his judgment in an upright way to discern between good and evil,
and thus is distinguished from a crafty man who employs his mind in
devising evil expedients. Theologians use the term _`aql_ to denote
the faculty which tests the validity of statements, either approving
them as true or rejecting them as false. In the _Analytica_ Aristotle
uses “intelligence” for the faculty by which man attains directly to
the certain knowledge of axioms and general abstract truths without
the need of proof; this faculty al-Farabi explains as being the part
of the soul in which intuition exists, and which is thereby able to
lay hold of the premises of speculative science, i.e., the reason of
intelligence proper as the term is employed in the _de anima_, the
rational soul which Alexander of Aphrodisias takes as an emanation from
God. Following al-Kindi, al-Farabi speaks of four faculties or parts
of the soul: the potential or latent intelligence, intelligence in
action, acquired intelligence, and the agent intelligence. The first
is the _`aql hayyulani_, the passive intelligence, the capacity which
man has for understanding the essence of material things by abstracting
mentally that essence from the various accidents with which it is
associated in perception, more or less equivalent to the “common sense”
of Aristotle. The intelligence in action or _`aql bi-l-fi`l_ is the
potential faculty aroused to activity and making this abstraction.
The agent intelligence or _`aql fa``al_ is the external power, the
emanation from God which is able to awaken the latent power in man
and arouse it to activity, and the acquired intelligence or _`aql
mustafad_ is the intelligence aroused to activity and developed under
the inspiration of the agent intelligence. Thus the intelligence in
action is related to the potential intellect as form is to matter,
but the agent intelligence enters from outside, and by its operation
the intelligence receives new powers, so that its highest activity is

Al-Farabi appears throughout as a devout Muslim, and evidently
does not appreciate the bearing of the Aristotelian psychology on
the doctrine of the Qur´an. The earlier belief of Islam, as of most
religions, was a heritage from primitive animism, which regarded life
as due to the presence of a perfectly substantial, though invisible,
thing called the soul: a thing is alive so long as the soul is present,
it dies when the soul goes away. In the earlier forms of animism this
is the explanation of all movement: the flying arrow has a “soul” in
it so long as it moves, it ceases to move when this soul goes away or
desires to rest. This involves no belief in the immortality of the
soul, nor is the soul invested with any distinct personality, all that
comes later; it is simply that life is regarded as a kind of substance,
very light and impalpable but perfectly self-existent. What may be
described as the “ghost” theory marks a later stage of evolution,
when the departed soul is believed to retain a distinct personality
and still to possess the form and some at least of the sensations
associated with the being in which it formerly dwelt. Such was the
stage reached by Arab psychology at the time of the preaching of Islam.
The Aristotelian doctrine represented the soul as containing different
energies or parts, such as it had in common with the vegetable world
and such others as it possessed in common with the lower kinds of
animals: that is to say the faculties of nutrition, reproduction, and
all the perceptions obtained from the use of the organs of sense, as
well as the intellectual generalisations derived from the use of those
senses, are simply laid on one side as forms of energy derived from the
potentialities latent in the material body, very nearly the position
indeed of modern materialism, as the term is used in psychology. This
does not oppose a belief in God, who is the prime source of the powers
which exist, although that is brought out more by the commentators than
by Aristotle himself; nor does it infringe the doctrine of an immortal
and separable soul or spirit which exists in man in addition to what we
may describe as the vegetative and animal soul. It is this spirit, the
rational soul which has entered from outside and exists in man alone,
which is immortal. Such a doctrine sets an impassible gulf between man
and the rest of creation, and explains why it is impossible for those
whose thought is formed on Aristotelian lines, whether in orthodox
Islam or in the Catholic Church, to admit the “rights” of animals,
although ready to regard benevolent action towards them as a duty. But
more, the highly abstract rational soul or spirit of the Aristotelian
doctrine, void of all that could be shared with the lower creatures,
and even of all that could be developed from anything that an animal
is capable of possessing, is the only part of man which is capable
of immortality, and such a spirit separated from its body and the
lower functions of the animal soul can hardly fit in with the picture
of the future life as portrayed in the Qur´an. Further, the Qur´an
regards that future life as incomplete until the spirit is re-united
with the body, a possibility which the Aristotelians could hardly
contemplate. The Aristotelian doctrine showed the animal soul not as
an invisible being but merely as a form of energy in the body: so far
as it was concerned, death did not mean the going away of this soul,
but the cessation of the functions of the bodily faculties, just as
combustion ceases when a candle is blown out, the flame not going away
and continuing to exist apart; or as the impression of a seal on wax
which disappears when the wax is melted and does not continue a ghostly
existence on its own account. The only immortal part of man, therefore,
was the part which came to him as an emanation from the Agent
Intellect, and when this emanation was set free from its association
with the human body and lower soul it became inevitable to suggest its
reabsorption in the omnipresent source from which it had been derived.
The logical conclusion was thus a denial, not of a future life, nor
of its eternity, but of the separate existence of an individual soul,
and this, as we shall see, was actually worked out as a result of
Arabic Aristotelianism. Thus the scholastic theologians, both of Islam
and of Latin Christianity, attack the philosophers as undermining
belief in individual personality and in opposing the doctrine of
the resurrection, and in this latter, it must be remembered, Muslim
doctrine is committed to cruder details than prevail in Christianity.
But al-Farabi did not see where the Aristotelian teaching would lead
him: to him Aristotle seemed orthodox because his doctrines seemed to
prove the immortality of the soul.

Al-Farabi expresses his theory of causality in the treatise called
“the gems of wisdom.” Everything which exists after having not existed,
he says, must be brought into being by a cause which itself may be
the result of some preceding cause, and so on, until we reach a First
Cause, which is and always has been, its eternity being necessary
because there is no other cause to precede it, and Aristotle has shown
that the chain of causes cannot be infinite. The First Cause is one
and eternal, and is God (cf. Aristot. _Metaph._ 12. 7, and similarly
Plato, _Timæus_ 28). Being unchanged this First Cause is perfect, and
to know it is the aim of all philosophy, for obviously everything would
be intelligible if the cause of all were known. This First Cause is
the “necessary being” whose existence is necessary to account for all
other existence; it has neither genus, species, nor differentia; it is
both external and internal, at once apparent and concealed; it cannot
be perceived by any faculty but is knowable by its attributes, and
the best approach to knowledge is to know that it is inaccessible. In
this treatment al-Farabi is mingling the teaching of philosophy proper
with mysticism, in his days rapidly developing in Asiatic Islam, and
especially in the Shi`ite community with which he was in contact. From
the philosophical point of view God is unknowable but necessary, just
as eternity and infinity are unknowable but necessary, because God is
above all knowledge: but in another sense God is beneath all knowledge,
as the ultimate reality must underline all existing things, and every
result is a manifesting of the cause.

The proof of the existence of God is founded upon the argument in
Plato, _Timæus_ 28, and Aristotle, _Metaphysics_ 12. 7, and was later
on used by Albertus Magnus and others. In the first place a distinction
is made between the possible, which may be only potential, and the
real. For the possible to become real it is necessary that there should
be an effective cause. The world is evidently composite, and so cannot
itself be the first cause, for the first cause must be single and not
multiple: therefore the world evidently proceeds from a cause other
than itself. The immediate cause may itself be the result of another
preceding cause, but the series of causes cannot be infinite, nor can
they return as a circle upon themselves, therefore if we trace back we
must ultimately reach an _ens primum_, itself uncaused, which is the
cause of all, and this first cause exists of necessity, but not by a
necessity caused by anything other than itself. It must be single and
unchangeable, free from all accidents, absolute, perfect, and good,
and the absolute _intelligentia_, _intelligibile_, and _intelligens_.
In itself it possesses wisdom, life, insight, will, power, beauty and
goodness, not as acquired or external qualities, but as aspects of
its own essence. It is the first will and the first willing, and also
the first object of will. It is the end of all philosophy to know
this first Cause, which is God, because as He is the cause of all,
all can be understood and explained by understanding and knowing Him.
That the first Cause is single and one and the cause of all agrees
with the teaching of the Qur´an, and al-Farabi freely uses Qur´anic
phraseology in perfect good faith, supposing that the Aristotelian
doctrine corroborates the doctrine of the Qur´an. The most curious part
of al-Farabi’s work is the way in which he employs the terminology of
the Qur´an as corresponding to that of the neo-Platonists, so that the
Qur´anic pen, tablet, etc., represent the neo-Platonic, etc. It may be
questioned whether, even in al-Farabi, philosophy really does fit in
with Qur´anic doctrine, but the divergence was not yet sufficiently
marked to compel attention.

Assured of the conformity of the teaching of Aristotle with the
teaching of revelation al-Farabi denies that Aristotle teaches the
eternity of matter, and so is inconsistent with the dogma of creation.
The whole question depends on what is meant by “creation.” God, he
supposes, created all things in an instant in unmeasured eternity, not
directly, but by the intermediary operation of the _`aql_ or Agent
Intelligence. In this sense Aristotle held that the universe existed
in eternity, but it so existed as a created thing. Creation was
therefore complete before God, acting through the _`aql_, introduced
movement, at which time commenced; as movement and time came into
existence simultaneously, forthwith creation already existing in the
timeless came out of its concealment and entered into reality. The
term “creation” is sometimes used as applying to this emergence from
timeless quiesence, but more properly may be taken as denoting the
causation, which, as it preceded time, came into unmeasured eternity,
which is what Aristotle means when he speaks of the world as eternal.
Thus both Qur´an and Aristotle are right, but each uses “creation” to
denote a different thing.

It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of al-Farabi.
Practically all we afterwards meet in Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd is already
to be found in substance in his teaching, only that these later
philosophers have realized that the Aristotelian system cannot be
reconciled with the traditional theology, and so, having given up all
attempt at formal reconciliation, are able to express themselves more
clearly and to press home their tenets to their logical conclusions.
When considering the reconciliation between philosophy and Qur´an
attempted by al-Farabi it is important to compare and contrast the
reconciliation attempted on quite other lines by al-Ash`ari and other
founders of orthodox scholasticism. It must be noted that the beginning
of scholasticism was contemporary with al-Farabi.

As has been noted, al-Farabi was mixed up with the Shi`ite group; the
supporters of `Alid claims who held aloof from the official Khalifate
at Baghdad. About the time of al-Kindi’s death (circ. 260), the twelfth
Imam of the _Ithna `ashariya_ or orthodox Shi`ite sect, Muhammad
al-Muntazar, “disappeared.” In the year 320, within the period of
al-Farabi’s activity, the Buwayhid princes became the leading power
in `Iraq, and in 334, five years before his death, they obtained
possession of Baghdad, so that for the next 133 years the Khalifs
were in very much the same position as the Frankish kings when they,
surrounded with great ceremony and treated with the utmost reverence,
were no more than puppets in the hands of the Mayors of the Palace. In
exactly the same way the Khalifs, half popes and half emperors, whose
sign manual was sought as giving a show of legitimacy to sovereigns
even in far-off India, possessed in Baghdad only ceremonial functions,
and were treated as honoured prisoners by the Buwayhid Emirs, who
themselves were Shi`ites of the _Ithna `ashariya_ sect, and who,
consequently, regarded the Khalifs as mere usurpers. At this period
the Shi`ites were the patrons of philosophy, and the orthodox Sunnis
generally took a reactionary attitude.

Besides the _Ithna `ashariya_, the comparatively orthodox Shi`ites,
there was another branch of extremer type known as the _Sab`iya_ or
“seveners.” The sixth Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq had nominated his son
Isma`il as his successor, but as Isma`il was one day found drunk,
Ja`far disinherited him and appointed his second son Musa al-Qazam
(d. 183). But some did not admit that the Imamate, whose divine right
passed by hereditary descent, could be transferred at will, but
remained loyal to Isma`il, and these preferred, when Isma`il died in
Ja`far’s lifetime, to transfer their allegiance to his son Muhammed,
reckoning him as the seventh Imam. These “seveners” continued to exist
as an obscure sect until, it would appear, somewhere about the year
220, when `Abdullah, the son of a Persian oculist named Maymun, either
was made their head or led a secession from them, and organised his
followers with a kind of freemasonry in seven (afterwards nine) grades
of initiation and a very admirably organised system of propaganda on
the lines already laid down by the Hashimites (cf. supra). In the
earlier grades the doctrine of _batn_ or allegorical interpretation
of the Qur´an was laid down as essential to a right understanding of
its meaning, for the literal sense is often obscure, and sometimes
refers to things incomprehensible, a doctrine commonly attributed
to Ja`far as-Sadiq. The initiate was then taught that the true
meaning could not be discovered by private interpretation but needed
an authoritative teacher, the Imam, or, as he had disappeared, his
accredited representative, the Mahdi `Abdullah, son of Maymun. In
the higher grades the disciple had this inner meaning of the Qur´an
disclosed to him, and this proved to be substantially the Aristotelian
and neo-Platonic doctrine in general outline, together with certain
oriental elements derived from Zoroastrianism and Masdekism. These
oriental elements figured chiefly in the doctrines taught to the
intermediate grades, the higher ones attaining a pure agnosticism with
an Aristotelian background. The sect thus formed spread, developed,
and finally divided. It had a successful career in the Bahrayn or
district near the junction of the two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates,
and there its followers were known as Qarmatians, after the name of
a leading missionary. It met with success also in and around Aden,
but we have no account of its subsequent history there. From Aden
missionaries passed over to North Africa, where it had its chief
success, and when Ubayd Allah, a descendant of `Abdullah, passed over
there an independent state was founded, with its capital at Kairawan
(297 A.H.). From Kairawan a missionary propaganda was conducted in
Egypt, then suffering from almost perennial misgovernment, and in
the days of the deputy Kafur a definite invitation was sent by the
Egyptian officials asking for the Khalif of Kairawan to enter Egypt. At
length Ubayd Allah’s great-grandson al-Mo´izz did invade Egypt in 356,
and established there the Fatimite Khalifate, which lasted until the
country was conquered by Saladin in 567.

The Sab`iya sect was thus geographically divided into two branches,
one in Asia represented by the Qarmatians, the other in Africa under
the Fatimite Khalifs. In the Asiatic branch the members were chiefly
drawn from the Nabatæan peasantry, and the sect took the form of a
revolutionary group with communist teaching, and violently opposed
to the Muslim religion. In their contemptuous hostility they finally
attacked Mecca, slew many of the dignitaries of the city and a number
of pilgrims who were there, and carried off the sacred black stone,
which they retained for several years. In the hands of the Qarmatians
the sect ceased to be a propaganda of philosophical doctrine, it became
simply anti-religious and revolutionary. The history of the African
branch took a different turn. Possession of an important state brought
with it a position of respectability, and political ambition replaced
religious enthusiasm. As the majority of the subject population was
strictly orthodox, the peculiar tenets of the sect were, to a large
extent, allowed to drop into the background; candidates were still
admitted to initiation and instructed, but, although the Fatimite
rulers in Egypt were liberal patrons of scholarship, and generally
showed a more tolerant attitude than other contemporary Muslim rulers,
they certainly did not carry out a wholesale Aristotelian propaganda;
indeed, the line of “philosophers” proper simply misses over Fatimite
Egypt, although there were several distinguished medical workers there.
From the Isma`ilians or Sab`iya of Egypt there came two interesting
off-shoots. Towards the end of the reign of the sixth Fatimite Khalif,
al-Hakim, who may have been a religious fanatic, perhaps insane, or
possibly an enlightened religious reformer of views far ahead of his
age--his real character is one of the problems of history--there
arrived in Egypt certain Persian teachers holding doctrines of
transmigration and of theophanies, which seem to be endemic in Persia,
and these persuaded al-Hakim that he was an incarnation of the Deity.
A riot followed the open preaching of this claim, and the preachers
fled to Syria, then a part of the Fatimite dominions, and there
founded a sect which still exists in the Lebanon under the name of
the Druzes. Soon after this al-Hakim himself disappeared; some said
he was murdered, others said he had retired to a Christian monastery,
and was recognised there afterwards as a monk; others believed he had
gone up to heaven, and more than one claimant appeared asserting that
he was al-Hakim returned from concealment. The other off-shoot shows
a more definitely philosophical bearing. In the days of al-Mustansir,
al-Hakim’s grandson, one of the Isma`ilian missionaries, a Persian
named Nasir-i-Khusraw, came from Khurasan to Egypt, and after a stay
of seven years returned home. This seems to have coincided with a kind
of revival in the Isma`ilian sect, which now regarded Cairo as its
headquarters. The Qarmatians had quite passed away; al-Hakim, whatever
his later eccentricities, had been a patron of scholarship, the founder
of an academy, the _Daru l-Hikma_, or “House of Wisdom,” at Cairo, and
had enriched it with a large library, and was himself distinguished as
a student of astronomy. The reign of his grandson was the golden age of
Fatimid science, and apparently Shi`ites from all parts of Asia found
their way to Egypt. In 471 another da`i or missionary, Hasan-i-Sabbah,
a pupil of Nasir-i-Khusraw, visited Cairo and was received by the
Chief Da`i, but not allowed to see the Khalif, and eighteen months
later was compelled to leave the country and return to Asia. There
were two factions in Cairo, the adherents respectively of the Khalif’s
two sons, Nizar and Musta`li; Nasir-i-Khusraw and Hasan-i-Sabbah had
already made themselves known as supporters of the elder son Nizar,
but the court officials in Egypt adhered to the younger son Musta`li.
When the Khalif al-Mustansir died in 487 the Isma`ilian sect divided
into two new branches, the Egyptians and Africans generally recognising
Musta`li, the Asiatics adhering to Nizar. This latter group had already
been well organised by Nasir-i-Khusraw and Hasan-i-Sabbah, who for
several years previously had been preaching the rights of Nizar. On
his return home, about 473, Hasan-i-Sabbah had secured possession of
a stronghold known as Alamut, “the eagle’s teaching” (cf. Browne:
_Lit. History of Persia_, ii. 203, espec. note 13), and this became
the headquarters of the sect of Nizaris or Assassins, who figure so
prominently in the history of the Crusades. They had many mountain
strongholds, but all were under the control of the Sheikh or “Old
Man of the Mountain,” as the Crusaders and Marco Polo called him, at
Alamut. These Sheikhs or Grand Masters of the order continued for eight
generations, until Alamut was captured by the Mongols in 618 A.H. (=
1221 A.D.), and the last was put to death. As the order grew it spread
into Syria, and it was the Syrian branch with which the Crusaders from
Europe came most into contact. In this order we find the old system
of successive grades of initiation. The _Lasiqs_, or “adherents,” had
but little knowledge of the real doctrines of the sect, and attached
to them were the _Fida`is_ or “self-devoted,” bound to blind obedience
and ready to execute vengeance at the bidding of their superiors;
these were the men to whom the Crusaders especially applied the term
_Assassins_, that is _Hashishin_ or “users of hashish,” referring to
the hashish or Indian hemp which they commonly used as a means of
exaltation. Above these were the _Rafiqs_ or “companions,” and above
these was an ordered hierarchy of _da`is_ or missionaries, Chief
Missionaries (_da`i i-Kabir_), and Supreme Missionary (_da`i d-Du`at_).
In the eyes of outsiders the whole sect had a sinister appearance; the
crimes of the Fida`is, usually committed under striking and dramatic
circumstances, and the reputed heresies of the superior grades were
sufficient to secure this, and the general dread with which they were
regarded was increased by incidents which showed that they had spies
and sympathizers in all directions. The superior grades, however, were
true heirs of the old Isma`ilian principles and ardent students of
philosophy and science. When the Mongols under Hulagu seized Alamut in
654 (= A.D. 1256) they found an extensive library and an observatory
with a collection of valuable astronomical instruments. The Mongol
capture meant the downfall of the Assassins, although the Syrian branch
still continued in humbler fashion, and the sect has adherents even
at the present day. Scattered relics survive also in central Asia, in
Persia, and in India; the Agha Khan is a lineal descendant of Ruknu
d-Din Khurshah, the last Sheikh at Alamut.

Thus the movement started by Abdullah, the son of Maymun, whose
original purpose seems to have been to maintain a highly philosophical
religion as revealed by Aristotle and the neo-Platonists, but to
safeguard this as an esoteric faith disclosed only to initiates, the
rank and file being apparently Shi`ite sectaries, produced a group
of very curious sects. In the Qarmatians the esoteric tenets were
compelled to take a debased form because those who professed them,
and into whose hands this branch fell altogether, were illiterate
peasants. In the Fatimid state of Egypt they were minimised because
political considerations rendered it expedient to conciliate orthodox
Muslim opinion. And in the Assassins, confined, it seems, to the higher
grades of the initiates, they produced a rich intellectual development,
though allied to a system which shows fanaticism unscrupulously used
by the leaders that they might live out their lives in a philosophical
seclusion, protected from the dangers which surrounded them.

Before leaving this particular subject, which shows the promulgation
of philosophy as an esoteric creed, we must refer to a society known
as the _Ikhwanu s-Safa_ or “the brotherhood of purity.” We do not
know what its connection with `Abdullah b. Maymun’s sect may have
been beyond the fact that they were contemporary and of kindred aims,
but it certainly seems that there was some connection: it has been
suggested that this brotherhood represents the original teaching of
Abdullah’s sect. It was divided into four grades, but its doctrines
were promulgated freely at an early date, though we do not know whether
this general divulging of its teaching was part of the original plan
or forced upon it by circumstances. It appears openly about 360, some
hundred years after Abdullah founded his sect, shortly after the
Fatimites had conquered Egypt and some time after the Qarmatians had
returned the sacred black stone which they had stolen from the “House
of God” at Mecca. It seems tempting to suggest that it may have been
a reformation of the Isma`ilians on the part of those who wished to
return to the original aims of the movement.

The published work of the brotherhood appears in a series of 51
epistles, the _Rasa´il ikhwani s-Safa_, which form an encyclopædia
of philosophy and science as known to the Arabic-speaking world in
the 4th cent. A.H. They do not propose any new theories but simply
furnish a manual of current material. The whole text of these epistles
has been printed at Calcutta, whilst portions of the voluminous whole
have been edited by Prof. Dieterici between 1858 and 1872, and these
were followed in 1876 and 1879 by two volumes called _Makrokosmos_ and
_Mikrokosmos_, in which an epitome is presented of the whole work. It
appears that the leading spirit in the preparation of this encyclopædia
was Zayd b. Rifa´a, and with him were associated Abu Sulayman Muhammad
al-Busti, Abu l-Hasan `Ali az-Zanjani, Abu Ahmad al-Mahrajani, and
al-Awfi, but it does not follow that these were the founders of the
brotherhood, as some have supposed.

A great part of the _Epistles of the Brotherhood_ deals with logic
and the natural sciences, but when the writers turn to metaphysics,
psychology, or theology, we find very clear traces of the neo-Platonic
doctrines as contained in Alexander of Aphrodisias and matured
by Plotinus. God, we read, is above all knowledge and above all
the categories of human thought. From God proceeds the _`aql_ or
intelligence, a complete spiritual emanation which contains in itself
the forms of all things, and from the _`aql_ proceeds the Universal
Soul, and from that Soul comes primal matter: when this primal matter
becomes capable of receiving dimensions it becomes secondary matter,
and from that the universe proceeds. The Universal Soul permeates all
matter and is itself sustained by the perpetual emanation of itself
from the _`aql_. This Universal Soul permeating all things yet remains
one; but each individual thing has a part-soul, which is the source
of its force and energy, this part-soul having a varying degree of
intellectual capacity. The union of soul and matter is temporary;
by wisdom and faith the soul tends to be set free from its material
fetters, and so to approach nearer to the present spirit or _`aql_.
The right aim of life is the emancipation of the soul from matter,
so that it may be absorbed in the parent spirit and thus approach
nearer to the Deity. All this is but a repetition of the teaching
of al-Farabi and the neo-Platonists, slightly coloured, perhaps, by
Sufism, and expressed less logically and lucidly than in the teaching
of the philosophers. In general character it shows a tendency towards
pantheism, akin to the tendency we have already observed in certain of
the Mu`tazilites. God, properly so called, is outside, or rather on
such a plane that man does not know, and never can know, anything about
Him. Even the _`aql_ is on a plane other than that on which the human
soul lives. But the Universal Soul which permeates all things is an
emanation from this Spirit, and the Spirit emanates from the unknowable
God. Comparing this with the teaching of al-Kindi and al-Farabi it is
clear that it is based upon the same material, but it is in the hands
of those who have made it a religion, and this religion has entirely
broken away from the orthodox doctrine of the Qur´an. In al-Farabi
this breach is not conscious, although really quite complete; in his
successors we see a full realization of the cleavage. Comparing it
with Sufism the superficial resemblances are very close, the more so
as Sufism borrows a great deal of philosophical, i.e., neo-Platonic
terminology, but in fact there is an essential divergence: the Epistles
of the brethren represent the emancipation of the soul from matter as
the aim of life, and the final result is reabsorption in the Universal
Soul, but they represent this emancipation as due to an intellectual
force, so that the soul’s salvation lies in wisdom and knowledge; it is
a cult of intellect. But Sufism is spiritual in another sense: it has
the same aim in view, but it regards the means as wisdom in the sense
of religious truth as found by the devout soul in piety, not as the
wisdom obtained by intellectual learning.

We seem, however, justified in saying that Sufism is the heir of
the philosophical teaching of al-Farabi and the Brethren of Purity,
at least in Asia. After the first quarter of the fifth century
philosophical teaching seems to have disappeared altogether in Asia,
but this is only apparent. In substance it remains in Sufism, and we
may say that the essential change lies in the new meaning given to
“wisdom,” which ceases to signify scientific facts and speculations
acquired intellectually, and is taken to mean a supra-intellectual
knowledge of God. This, perhaps, represents the Indian contribution
working upon elements of Hellenistic origin.

The doctrines of the _Brethren of Purity_ were introduced to the
West by a Spanish doctor, Muslim b. Muhammad Abu l-Qasim al-Majriti
al-Andalusi (d. 395-6), and were largely influential in producing the
_falasifa_ of Spain, who ultimately exercised so great an influence on
mediæval Latin scholasticism.

Before leaving this particular section of our subject it will be
well to note that all these sects and groups we have mentioned after
al-Farabi, from the sect founded by Abdullah b. Maymun to the Brethren
of Purity, agreed in treating philosophy, at least in so far as it had
any bearing on theological topics, as esoteric, and not to be disclosed
to any save the elect. This general attitude will appear again, in a
slightly different form, in the works of the Spanish philosophers, and
to some extent recurs in all Islamic thought.

The greatest product in Asia of the ferment of thought produced by
the general study of the Aristotelian and neo-Platonic philosophies
appears in _Abu `Ali al-Husayn b. `Abdullah b. Sina_ (d. 428 = A.D.
1027), commonly known as Ibn Sina, which is Latinized as Avicenna.
His life is known to us from an autobiography completed by his pupil,
Abu `Ubayd al-Juzjani, from his master’s recollections. We learn that
his father was governor of Kharmayta, but, after his son’s birth, he
returned to Bukhara, which had been the original home of his family,
and it was there that Ibn Sina received his education. During his youth
some Isma`ilian missionaries arrived from Egypt, and his father became
one of their converts. From them the son learned Greek, philosophy,
geometry, and arithmetic. This helps to remind us how the whole
Isma`ilian propaganda was associated with Hellenistic learning. It
is sometimes stated that the Egypt of the Fatimite age was isolated
from the intellectual life of Islam at large: but this is hardly
accurate; from first to last the whole of the Isma`ilian movement
was connected with the intellectual revival due to the reproduction
of Greek philosophy in Arabic form, less so, of course, when the
Isma`ilian converts were drawn from the illiterate classes, as was the
case with the Qarmatians, and when the attention of the members was
engrossed with political ambitions, as was the case with the Fatimids
whilst they were building up their power in Africa before the invasion
of Egypt. But even under the most unfavourable conditions it seems
that the _da`is_ or missionaries regarded the spread of science and
philosophy as a leading part of their duties, quite as much so as the
preaching of the `Alid claims of the Fatimite Khalif. Learning Greek
and Greek philosophy from these missionaries Ibn Sina made rapid
progress, and then turned to the study of jurisprudence and mystic
theology. Jurisprudence, that is to say, the canon law based on one of
the orthodox systems laid down by Abu Hanifa and the other recognised
jurists, or by their Shi`ite rivals, has always been the backbone of
Islamic scholarship, and was thus parallel with the study of canon
law in mediæval Europe: in each case it turned men’s attention to the
development of the social structure towards an ideal, and this had an
educative influence of the highest value. We, holding very different
principles, may be tempted to under-estimate this influence, but it is
worth noting that, whilst our aims are opportunist in character, the
canonist of Islam or of Christendom had a more definitely constructed
ideal, with a more complete and scientific finality, which, in so
far as it was an ideal, was an uplifting power. In Muslim lands the
canonists were the one power which had the courage and ability to
resist the caprices of an autocratic government, and to compel even the
most arbitrary princes to submit to principles which, however narrow
and defective they may seem to us, yet made the ruler admit that he was
subordinate to a system, and defined the limits allowed by that system
in conformity with ideals of equity and justice. It is interesting to
note that in Ibn Sina’s time mystic theology had already taken its
place as a subject of serious study.

A short time afterwards a philosopher named an-Natali arrived at
Bukhara and became a guest of Ibn Sina’s father. Bearing in mind
the technical meaning of _failasuf_, we recognise this guest as a
professed Aristotelian, and presumably one able to obtain his living
as a teacher of the Aristotelian doctrine. From him Ibn Sina learned
logic and had his mind directed towards the Aristotelian teaching,
which was then preached like a religion. After this he studied Euclid,
the _Almagesta_, and the “Aphorisms of the Philosophers.” His next
study was medicine, in which he made so great progress that he adopted
the practice of medicine as his profession. He attempted to study
Aristotle’s _Metaphysics_, but found himself entirely incapable of
understanding its meaning, until one day he casually purchased one of
al-Farabi’s books, and by its help he was able to grasp the meaning
and purport of what had so far eluded him. It is on this ground that
we are entitled to describe Ibn Sina as a pupil of al-Farabi: it was
al-Farabi’s work which really formed his mind and guided him to the
interpretation of Aristotle; al-Farabi was, in the truest sense, the
parent of all subsequent Arabic philosophers; great as was Ibn Sina
he does not enter into the tradition in the same way as al-Farabi,
and does not exercise the same influence on his successors, although
al-Ghazali classes him with al-Farabi, and calls them the leading
interpreters of Aristotle. Emphasis is sometimes laid upon the fact
that Ibn Sina treats philosophy as quite apart from revelation as given
in the Qur´an; but in this he was not original: it was the general
tendency of all who came after al-Farabi; we can only say that Ibn Sina
was the first important writer who illustrates this tendency.

Called to exercise his medical skill at the court of Nuh b. Mansur,
the Samanid governor of Khurasan, he enjoyed that prince’s favour, and
in his library studied many works of Aristotle hitherto unknown to
his contemporaries, and when that library was burned he was regarded
as the sole transmitter of the doctrines contained in those books.
This represents contemporary Arabic opinion about him: there is no
evidence in his existing writings that he had access to Aristotelian
material other than that generally known to the Syriac and Arabic
writers. When the affairs of the Samanid dynasty fell into disorder
Ibn Sina removed to Khwarazan, where he, with several other scholars,
enjoyed the enlightened patronage of the Ma´muni Emir. But this Emir
was living a somewhat precarious existence in the neighbourhood of the
Turkish Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna, the stern champion of orthodoxy and
the conqueror of India. It was obvious that the Sultan coveted the
Emir’s dominions, and that when he chose to seize them it would be
impossible to resist; he actually did take them in 408. Meanwhile the
Sultan was treated with the utmost deference by the Emir and such of
his neighbours as were allowed to live on sufferance. Mahmud wished to
be distinguished as a patron of learning, and “invited” scholars to
his court--in plain words, he kidnapped scholars and took care that
they never afterwards transgressed the strictest limits of orthodoxy.
Amongst others the Emir received a letter inviting such men of learning
as were to be found in Khwarazan to his court. The Emir read out the
letter to the five most distinguished scholars who were his guests,
leaving them to act as they thought fit. Three of the guests were
attracted by the Sultan’s reputation for generosity and accepted the
invitation, but two, Ibn Sina and Masihi, were afraid to venture, so
they escaped privately and fled; overtaken by a sandstorm in the desert
Masihi perished, but Ibn Sina, after long wanderings, finally found a
refuge in Isfahan, where the Buwayhid `Ala´u d-Dawla Muhammad held his
court. His experiences show plainly that it was the Shi`ites who were
the supporters of philosophy, and that the growing Turkish power of
Mahmud of Ghazna and of the Seljuks who succeeded him was reactionary
and unfavourably disposed towards philosophical research. It was the
Turkish power which finally checked the progress of Arabic philosophy
in the East.

Ibn Sina wrote many works in Arabic and Persian, and a number of
these are still extant. Amongst his productions were _as-Shafa_, an
encyclopædia of physics, metaphysics, and mathematics in eighteen
volumes (ed. Forget, Leiden, 1892), a treatise on logic and philosophy,
and the medical works on which his fame so largely rests. The best
known of these are the _Najat_ abridged from the _as-Shafa_, and the
medical _Canon_, in which he reproduced the teaching of Galen and
Hippocrates with illustrative material from the later medical writers.
The _Canon_ is more methodical in its arrangement than the _al-Hawi_ of
Razes, hitherto the popular manual of medicine in Arabic; indeed, its
chief defect is an excessively elaborate classification. It became the
leading medical authority, and, after translation into Latin by Gerard
of Cremona, served for many centuries as the chief representative of
the Arabic school of medicine in western Europe, holding its place in
the universities of Montpelier and Louvain down to A.D. 1650.

Ibn Sina treats logic as of use rather in a negative than in a
positive way: “the end of logic is to give a man a standard rule, by
observing which he is preserved from error in reasoning” (_Isharat_ ed.
Forget, p. 2). His treatise on this subject in _Tis´ Rasa´il fi-l-Hikma
wa-l-Tabi´yat_ (p. 79, pub. Stamboul, 1298), is divided into nine
parts corresponding to the Arabic canon of Aristotle, which includes
the _Isagoge_ as well as the Rhetoric and Poetics. He makes special
note to the logical bearing of particular grammatical constructions
which in Arabic differ from the forms used in Greek, as, for example,
where the Greek expresses the universal negative by “all A is not B,”
but Arabic renders this “nothing of A (is) B.” He lays great emphasis
upon accurate definition, which he describes as the essential basis of
all sound reasoning, and to this he devotes much attention. Definition
proper must state the _quiddity_ of a thing, its genus, differentia,
and all its essential characteristics, and is thus distinct from mere
description, which need only give the propria and accidents in such a
way that the thing may be recognised correctly.

In dealing with the universal and the particular he considers that the
universal exists only in the human mind: the abstract idea of the genus
is formed in the mind of the observer when he compares individuals
and makes note of their points of similarity, but this abstract idea
exists only as a mental concept and has no objective reality. The
universal precedes the individual (genus ante res) only in the way
that the general idea existed in the mind of the Creator before the
individual was formed, just as the idea of an object to be made exists
in the mind of the artificer before the work is executed. The general
idea is realised in matter (genus in rebus), but only when accompanied
by accidents: apart from these accidents it exists only as a mental
abstraction. After the general idea is realised in matter (genus post
res) it is possible for the intellect to make a mental abstraction and
to use this as a standard of comparison with other individuals. The
generic belongs only to the realm of thought, and such abstract ideas
have no objective existence, although they may be used as real in logic.

The soul is treated as a collection of faculties (_kowa_) or forces
acting on the body: all activity of any sort, in bodies animal or
vegetable, as well as human, proceeds either from such forces added
to the body or from the mixture of elements from which the body is
formed. The simplest soul condition is that of the vegetable whose
activity is limited to nutrition and generation and accretion by growth
(_Najat_, p. 43). The animal soul possesses the vegetable faculties
but adds to them others, and the human soul adds yet others to these,
and the addition made to the human soul enables it to be described as
a rational soul. The faculties present in the soul may be divided into
two classes, the faculties of perception and the faculties of action.
The faculties of perception are partly external and partly internal: of
these the external faculties exist in the body wherein the soul dwells
and are the eight senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell, perception of
heat and cold, perception of dry and moist, perception of resistance
as by hard and soft, and perception of rough and smooth. By means of
these senses the form of the external object is reproduced in the soul
of the percipient. There are four internal faculties of perception:
(i.) _al-musawira_, “the formative,” whereby the soul perceives the
object without the aid of the senses as by an act of imagination; (ii.)
_al-mufakkira_, “the cogitative,” by which the soul perceiving a number
of qualities associated together abstracts one or more of them from the
others with which they are associated, or groups together those which
are not seen as connected; this is the faculty of abstraction which is
employed in forming general ideas; (iii.) _al wahm_, or “opinion,” by
means of which a general conclusion is drawn from a number of ideas
grouped together; and (iv.) _al-hafiza_ or _az-zakira_, “memory,” which
preserves and records the judgments formed. Men and animals perceive
particulars by means of sense; man attains the knowledge of universals
by means of reason. The _`aql_ or rational soul of man is conscious of
its own faculties, not by means of an external, i.e., bodily sense, but
immediately by the exercise of its own reasoning power. This proves to
be an independent entity, even though accidentally connected with a
body and dependent on that body for sense perception: the possibility
of direct knowledge without sense perception shows that it is not
essentially dependent on the body, and the possibility of its existence
without the body, which follows logically from its independence, is the
proof of its immortality. Every living creature perceives that it has
only one _ego_ or soul in itself, and this soul, says Ibn Sina, did
not exist prior to the body but was created, that is to say, proceeded
by emanation from the Agent Intellect at the time when the body was
generated. (_Najat_, p. 51).

Under the head of Physics Ibn Sina considers the forces observed in
nature, including all that are in the soul, save only that which is
peculiar to the rational soul of man. These forces are of three kinds:
some, such as weight, are an essential part of the body in which they
occur; others are external to the body on which they act, and are such
as cause movement or rest; and others, again, are such as the faculties
possessed by the non-rational souls of the spheres, which produce
movement directly without external impulse. No force is infinite; it
may be increased or diminished, and always produces a finite result.

Time is regarded as essentially dependent on movement; although it is
not itself a form of movement, so far as the idea of time is concerned,
it is measured and made known by the movements of the heavenly bodies.
Following al-Kindi place is defined as “the limit of the container
which touches the contained.” Vacuum is “only a name”, in fact it is
impossible, for all space can be increased, diminished, or divided into
parts, and so must contain something capable of increase, etc.

God alone is “necessary being,” and so the supreme reality. Space,
time, etc., belong to “actual being,” and whatever necessity they
possess is derived from God. The objects studied in physical science
are only “possible being,” which may or may not become “actual being.”
God alone is necessarily existent through all eternity: He is the truth
in the sense that He alone is true absolutely, all other reality is so
only in so far as it is derived from God. From God by emanation comes
the _`aql_ or “Agent Intellect,” and from this proceeds the intellect
or reason which differentiates the rational soul in man from the soul
in other creatures. To every man this intellect is given, and in due
course it returns to the “Agent Intellect” which was its source. The
soul’s possible activity, independent of the body with which it is
associated, proves its immortality, but this immortality does not imply
separate existence, but rather reabsorption in the source. From the
_`aql_ also proceeds the universe, but not like the reason of man by
direct emanation, but by the medium of successive emanations.

Ibn Sina was the last of the great philosophers of the East. Two
causes combined to terminate philosophy proper in Asiatic Islam. In
the first place it had become closely identified with the Shi`ite
heresies, and was thus in bad repute in the eyes of the orthodox;
whilst the Shi`ite sects themselves, all of the extremer kind
(_ghulat_), which had devoted themselves most to philosophical studies,
had also taken up a number of pre-Islamic religious theories, such as
transmigration of souls, etc., which were detrimental to scientific
research. Neo-Platonism had shown itself at an earlier period prone
to similar tendencies. As a result the Shi`ites tended towards mystic
and often fantastic theories, which were discouraging to the study of
Aristotelian doctrines. The second cause lay in the rise of dominant
Turkish elements, Mahmud of Ghazna, then the Saljuk Turks, which
were of uncompromising orthodoxy, and abhorred everything which was
associated with the Shi`ites or tended to rationalism. For all that it
left permanent marks in Asiatic Islam in two directions: in orthodox
scholasticism and in mysticism.

We have already noted that Muslim b. Muhammad Abu l-Qasim al-Majriti
al-Andalusi (d. 395-6), as his name denotes, a native of Madrid,
brought the teachings of the _Brethren of Purity_ to Spain, and so
incidentally aroused an interest there in the philosophy which had been
studied in the East. For some time no important results appeared, then
followed a series of brilliant philosophical writers and teachers,
deriving their inspiration partly from the _Brethren_, and partly from
the Jewish students.



Sufism or Islamic mysticism, which becomes prominent in the course
of the 3rd cent. A.H., was partly a product of Hellenistic influences,
and exercised a considerable influence on the philosophers of the time
of Ibn Sina and afterwards. The name _Sufi_ is derived from _suf_
“wool,” and so means “wool-clad,” thus denoting a person who from
choice used clothing of the simplest kind and avoided every form of
luxury or ostentation. That this is the true meaning is proved by the
fact that Persian employs as its equivalent the term _pashmina-push_,
which also means “wool-clad.” By a popular error the Arabic writers on
Sufism often treat the word as derived from _safa_, “purity,” and so
make it something akin to “puritan”; and still more incorrectly certain
Western writers have supposed that it is a transliteration of the Greek
[Greek: sophos σοφός]. The emphasis is laid upon the ascetic avoidance
of luxury and the voluntary adoption of simplicity in clothing on the
part of those to whom the term is applied. If we regard this as a
form of asceticism it will be at once objected that asceticism has no
place in the teaching of the Qur´an and is alien to the character of
early Islam. In a sense this is true, and in a sense untrue according
to the meaning we attach to the term “asceticism.” As it is used in
the history of Christian monasticism, or of the devotees of several
Indian religions, or even of the latter Sufis, it implies a deliberate
avoidance of the normal pleasures and indulgences of human life, and
especially of marriage, as things which entangle the soul and prevent
its spiritual progress. In this sense asceticism is alien to the spirit
of Islam, and appears amongst Muslims only as an exotic. But the term
may be used, not very accurately perhaps, of the puritanical restraint
and simplicity which avoids all luxury and display, and deliberately
tries to retain a primitively simple and self-denying manner of life.
In this latter sense asceticism or puritanism was a distinguishing mark
of the “old believer” as contrasted with the secularised Arab of the
Umayyad type, and this attitude always had its admirers. The historians
constantly refer with commendation to the abstemious lives of the
early Khalifs and the “Companions” of the Prophet, and describe how
they were abstinent not from poverty but in order to put themselves on
an equality with their subjects, and to preserve the traditional mode
of life of the Prophet and his first followers, and very often in the
recognised Traditions we find mention of the bare and simple mode of
life of the first Muslims. Quite early this simplicity appears as the
distinctive mark of the strict Muslim, and emphasizes the difference
between him and the worldly followers of the Umayyads, and similar
instances appear amongst the devout Muslims of the present day. Such
were not Sufis, but they may be regarded as the precursors of the
Sufis. The historian al-Fakhri, describing the abstemious life of the
first Khalifs, says that they endeavoured by this self-restraint to
wean themselves from the lusts of the flesh. This is reading a later
idea into a much earlier practice, which was originally designed simply
as a more accurate following of the Prophet, who was unable to enjoy
any luxury or splendour; but it shows that later generations were
inclined to ascribe a more definitely ascetic motive to the affectedly
simple life of the earlier Muslims, and no doubt that early puritanism,
misunderstood by later ages, contributed to spread asceticism.

Al-Qushayri (cited Browne: _Lit. Hist. of Persia_, i. pp. 297-8),
after referring to the “Companions” and “Followers” of the first age
of Islam, then mentions the “ascetes” or “devotees” as the elect of
a later age, those who were most deeply concerned with matters of
religion, and finally the Sufis as those elect of still later times,
“whose souls were set on God, and who guarded their hearts from the
disasters of heedlessness.” Historically this is an error, for the
saints of early Islam were inspired by a spirit of strict adherence
to the traditional life of their desert ancestors and rejected luxury
as an “innovation,” very much the same spirit as that observed in the
ancient Hebrew prophets; whilst the Sufis were no enthusiasts for
tradition, but eschewed bodily indulgence as an entanglement of the
flesh which hindered the progress of the spirit, so that they were in
no sense the successors of the “Companions,” but were influenced by new
ideas unknown to early Islam. Yet superficially the results were very
much alike, and this caused the two to be connected, and helped the
later custom of connecting the early puritans with the ascetics of a
subsequent age. In its earliest form, also, Islam made a strong appeal
to the motive of fear, an appeal not based on divine severity so much
as on divine justice and on man’s consciousness of his own sinfulness
and unworthiness, and on the fleeting passage of the life lived in
this present world. There was an intense concentration on the Day of
Judgment and on the perils of the sinner, a teaching which is perceived
in the Qur´an even by the most casual reader: but all this was not
altogether congenial to the Arab, although he in poetry certainly
inclined towards a tone of sadness. The inevitable result of this
teaching was asceticism in the puritanical sense, or, perhaps we should
say, a tone of severity in religion.

Jami, one of the greatest Persian authorities on Sufism, tells us that
the name “Sufi” was first applied to Abu Hashim (d. 162), an Arab of
Kufa who spent the greater part of his life in Syria, and is typical of
the early Islamic devotee who followed the simplicity of the Prophet’s
life and was deeply influenced by the Qur´anic teaching about sin,
judgment, and the brief passage of earthly life. Similar devotees,
claimed as Sufis by later Sufi writers, but more properly devotees who
were their precursors, appear in the course of the 2nd century, such
as Ibrahim b. Adham (d. 162), Da´ud of Tayy (d. 165), Fadayl of `Iyad
(d. 188), Ma´ruf of Karkh (d. 200), and others, both men and women.
Amongst these there was gradually evolved the beginnings of an ascetic
theology in traditional sayings and narratives of their lives and
conduct, a hagiology which lays great emphasis upon their penances and
self mortification. Of this material the most important is the recorded
teaching of Ma´ruf of Karkh, from which we may quote the definition of
Sufism as “the apprehension of divine realities,” which, in a slightly
altered sense perhaps, becomes the keynote of later Sufism.

Can we trace the origin of these early recluses? Von Kremer (_Herrsch_,
p. 67) considers this type as a native Arab growth developed from
pre-Islamic Christian influences. Christian monasticism we know was
familiar to the Arabs in the country fringing the Syrian desert and in
the desert of Sinai: of this we have evidence both in Christian writers
like Nilus and in the pre-Islamic poets, as in the words of Imru

  “Friend, see the lightning--it flashed and is gone, like the flashing
    of two hands on a crowned pillar:
  Did its blaze flash forth? or was it the lamp of a monk who poured
    oil on the twisted wick?”

The hermit’s life was known even in Arabia itself, and tradition
relates that Muhammad received his first call when he had retired
to the cave of Hira and was living as a recluse there, returning
periodically to his home and taking back food with him to the cave (cf.
Bukhari: _Sahih_, i.). It seems likely, indeed, that the early recluses
of Islam were inspired by the example of Christian monasticism, either
directly or through the medium of Muhammad’s traditional retirement.
But these recluses were not numerous, and admittedly neglect the
Qur´anic command to marry (Qur. 24, 32).

Thus the earlier asceticism shows the character of devout quietism,
of a puritanical abstinence from display of wealth and from
self-indulgence, of a strict simplicity of life rather than of a
voluntary poverty and mortification, of occasional retirement from the
world, and only in rare instances of the permanent adoption of the
hermit life. An instance of this type occurs in Abu l-`Abbas as-Sabti
(d. 184), son of the Khalif Harunu r-Rashid, who renounced rank and
fortune for a life of meditation and retirement.

In the latter part of the 3rd cent. we begin to find evidences of a
“new Sufism,” which was inspired by religious ideals other than those
which had been dominant in early Islam, and which developed from those
ideals a theology of its own, which for a long time was not admitted
as orthodox. Asceticism still occurs, but whilst, on the one hand, it
begins to take a more definite character in the deliberate seeking
of poverty and mortification, it is, on the other hand, relegated to
a subordinate place as a merely preparatory stage in the Sufi life,
which is technically described as a “journey.” Poverty, which amongst
the early Muslims was esteemed simply in so far as it reproduced the
modest life of the Prophet and his companions, and was a standing
protest against the secularisation of the Umayyads, now assumed greater
prominence as a devotional exercise, a change which appears definitely
in Da´ud at-Ta´i (d. 165), who limited his possessions to a rush mat, a
brick which he used as a pillow, and a leather water bottle. In later
Sufism poverty takes a position of great prominence: the terms _faqir_,
“poor man,” and _darwish_, “mendicant,” become synonyms for “Sufi.” But
in Sufi teaching religious poverty does not mean absence of possessions
only: it implies the absence of all interest in earthly things, the
giving up of all participation in earthly possessions, and desiring God
as the only aim of desire. So mortification is the subjugation of the
evil part of the animal soul, the _nafs_ which is the seat of the lust
and passions, and so the weaning of the soul from material interests, a
“dying to self and to the world” as a beginning of a living to God.

What was the source of the theology developed in the newer
Sufism? Undoubtedly this was neo-Platonic, as has been proved by Dr.
Nicholson (_Selected Poems from the Diwan of Shams-i-Tabriz_, Camb.,
1898, and _The Mystics of Islam_, Lond. 1914), and by Prof. Browne
(_Literary Hist. of Persia_, Lond., 1902, chap. xiii.), and forms
part of the influence which came into Islam at the introduction of
Greek philosophy under the `Abbasids. But as in philosophy and other
cultural transmissions direct Greek influence was preceded by an
indirect influence brought to bear through Syriac and Persian, so it
was also in neo-platonic theology, for neo-Platonic influences had
already been brought to bear upon the Syrians and Persians in the
pre-Islamic period. In the forefront of the later direct influence
must be placed the so-called _Theology of Aristotle_, which it is
no exaggeration to describe as the most prominent and the widest
circulated manual of neo-Platonism which has ever appeared. It is, as
we have already stated, an abridged translation of the last three books
of Plotinus’ _Enneads_. Now the mysticism of Plotinus is philosophical
and not religious, but it lends itself to a theological interpretation
very easily, just as neo-Platonism as a whole very readily became a
theological system in the hands of Jamblichus, of the pagans of Harran,
and such like; and the Sufis were inclined to make this application,
whilst the _falasifa_ confined themselves to its philosophical side. It
seems probable that the influence of the Pseudo-Dionysius was brought
to bear upon Islam about the same time. The Pseudo-Dionysian writings
consist of four treatises, of which two, a treatise “On Mystical
Theology” in five chapters, and a treatise “On the Names of God” in
thirteen chapters, have been the chief source of Christian mystical
theology. The first reference to these writings occurs in A.D. 532,
when the claim was made that they were the work of Dionysius, the
Areopagite, a pupil of St. Paul, or at least represent his teaching.
In several places the writer cites Hierotheus as his teacher, and this
enables us to identify the source as a Syrian monk named Stephen Bar
Sudaili, who wrote under the name of Hierotheus (cf. Asseman, _Bibl.
Orient._ ii. 290-291). This Bar Sudaili was abbot of a convent at
Edessa, and was involved in controversy with James of Sarugh, so that
we may refer the writings to the latter part of the 5th century A.D.
They were translated into Syriac very soon after their first appearance
in Greek, and, as familiar to Syriac Christians, must have become
indirectly known to the Muslims. We have no direct evidence as to their
translation into Arabic, but Mai gives fragments of other works of
Bar Sudaili which appear in Arabic MSS. in his _Spicilegium Romanum_
(iii. 707). The traditional view of the relations between Sufism and
philosophy is described in the anecdote cited by Prof. Browne (_Lit.
Hist. of Persia_, ii. 261, from _Akhlag-i-Jalali_) of the Sufi Abu
Sa`id b. Abi l-Khayr (d. 441 A.H. = 1049 A.D.), who is said to have met
and conversed with Ibn Sina; when they parted Abu Sa`id said of Ibn
Sina, “What I see, he knows,” whilst Ibn Sina said, “What I know, he

But there were other influences of a secondary character at work in
`Iraq and Persia which become important when we remember that it was
the subject population of those parts which had, to a large extent,
replaced the Arabs as the leaders of Islam during the `Abbasid period.
In connection with the Sufis probably we cannot refer any influence
to the Zoroastrian religion proper, which had a non-ascetic and
national character; but the Manichæan and Masdekite religions, the two
“free churches” of Persia, show a definitely ascetic tone, and when
we find, as is the case, that many of the early Sufis were converts
from Zoroastrianism, or the sons of such converts, we are inclined
to suspect that, though professing that recognised religion, they
were in all probability actually _Zindiqs_, that is to say secretly
heretics and initiates of the Manichæan or Masdekite sect making
external profession of the more recognised cult, as was the common
practice of these _Zindiqs_. Note must also be made of the Gnostic
influences transmitted through the Saniya of the fen country between
Wasit and Basra, the Mandæans, as they are called to distinguish them
from the so-called Sabians of Harran. The Sufi Ma´ruf of Karkh was
himself the son of Sabian parents. And again we must not ignore the
probability of Buddhist influences, for Buddhist propaganda had been
active in pre-Islamic times in Eastern Persia and Transoxiana. Buddhist
monasteries existed in Balkh, and it is noteworthy that the ascete
Ibrahim b. Adham (d. 162--cf. supra) is traditionally described as a
prince of Balkh who left his throne to become a darwish. On closer
examination, however, it does not appear that Buddhist influence can
have been very strong, as there are essential differences between Sufi
and Buddhist theories. A superficial resemblance exists between the
Buddhist _nirvana_ and the _fana_ or reabsorption of the soul in the
Divine Spirit of Sufism. But the Buddhist doctrine represents the soul
as losing its individuality in the passionless placidity of absolute
quiescence, whilst the Sufi doctrine, though also teaching a loss of
individuality, regards everlasting life as consisting in the ecstatic
contemplation of the Divine Beauty. There is an Indian parallel to
_fana_, but it is not in Buddhism, but in the Vedantic pantheism.

It is generally accepted that the first exponent of Sufi doctrine
was the Egyptian, or Nubian, _Dhu n-Nun_ (d. 245-246), a pupil of
the jurist Malik b. ´Anas, who lived at the time when there was much
percolation of Hellenistic influence into the Islamic world. He was
indeed nearly contemporary with `Abdullah, the son of Maymum, whose
work we have already noticed. Dhu n-Nun’s teaching was recorded and
systematized by al-Junayd of Baghdad (d. 297), and in it appears
essential doctrine of Sufism, as of all mysticism, in the teaching
of _tawhid_, the final union of the soul with God, a doctrine which
is expressed in a way closely resembling the neo-Platonic teaching,
save that in Sufism the means whereby this union is to be attained
is not by the exercise of the intuitive faculty of reason but by
piety and devotion. Still the two come very close when we find in
the teachings of the later philosophers that the highest exercise of
reason consists in the intuitive apprehension of the eternal verities
rather than in any other activity of the intellect. Al-Junayd is
stated by Jami to have been a Persian, and it is chiefly in Persian
hands that the doctrines of Sufism develop and turn towards pantheism.
Both agnosticism and pantheism are present practically in the later
neo-Platonism; agnosticism as regards the unknowable First Cause, the
God from the Agent Intellect is an emanation, a doctrine which develops
in the teaching of the philosophers and of the Isma`ilians and kindred
sects; but Sufi teaching centres its attention upon the knowable
God, which the philosopher would describe as the Agent Intellect or
Logos, and this develops more usually in a pantheistic direction.
The doctrines thus developed and expressed by al-Junayd were boldly
preached by his pupil, _ash-Shibli_ of Kurasan (d. 335).

_Al-Husayn b. Mansur al-Hallaj_ (d. 309) was a fellow-student of
ash-Shibli, and shows Sufism as allied with extremely unorthodox
elements. He was of Zoroastrian descent and closely in touch with
the Qarmatians, and seems to have held those doctrines which are
usually associated with the _ghulat_ or extreme Shi`ites, such as
transmigration, incarnation, etc. He was put to death as a heretic for
declaring “I am the truth”, thus identifying himself with God. The
accounts given of him show great differences of opinion: for the most
part the earlier historians, approaching the subject from an orthodox
stand-point, represent him as a wily conjurer who by pretended miracles
gained a number of adherents, but later Sufi writers regard him as a
saint and martyr who suffered because he disclosed the great secret of
the union between the soul and God. The doctrine of _hulul_, or the
incarnation of God in the human body, was one of the cardinal tenets of
the _ghulat_. According to al-Hallaj, man is essentially divine because
he was created by God in his own image, and that is why, in Qur. 2,
32, God bids the angels worship Adam. In _hulul_, which is treated as
_tawhid_ taking place in this present life, the deity of God enters
the human soul in the same way that the soul at birth enters the body.
This teaching is a fusion of the old pre-Islamic Persian beliefs as to
incarnation and the philosophical theories of neo-Platonism, of the
Intellect or rational soul or spirit, as it is more commonly called by
English writers, the part added to the animal soul is an emanation from
the Agent Intellect, to which it will ultimately return and with which
it will be united (cf. Massignon: _Kitab al-Tawasin_, Paris, 1913).
This is an extremely interesting illustration of the fusion of oriental
and Hellenistic elements in Sufism, and shows that the theoretical
doctrines of Sufism, whatever they may have borrowed from Persia and
India, receive their interpretative hypotheses from neo-Platonism.
It is interesting also as shewing in the person of al-Hallaj a
meeting-point between the Sufi and the philosopher of the Isma`ilian

Very similar was the teaching of Abu Yazid or Bayazid of Bistam (d.
260), who was also of Zoroastrian descent. The pantheistic element
is very clearly defined: “God,” he said, “is an unfathomable ocean”;
he himself was the throne of God, the preserved Tablet, the Pen, the
Word--all images taken from the Qur´an--Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and
Gabriel, for all who obtain true being are absorbed into God and become
one with God.

Pantheistic views and the doctrine of _hulul_ occur frequently in Sufi
teaching, but they are by no means universal. Indeed, we cannot make
any accurate statement of Sufi doctrine in detail, but only of general
principles and tendencies. The Sufis do not form a sect, but are
simply devotees of mystical tendencies spread through all the branches
of the Muslim community. In the 3rd cent. they are most prominent
amongst the Shi`ites, and so Shi`ite views seem to be incorporated
in Sufism, but they form no integral part of it. Precisely similar
conditions occur in Christianity where mysticism has flourished in the
extremer Protestant sects as well as in the contemplative orders of
the Catholic Church, and, in spite of theological differences, has a
very considerable amount of common material. Only it must be noted that
no basis of mysticism exists unless some such relations between the
human soul and God are pre-supposed, as are suggested by neo-Platonism.
Christian mysticism, in the true sense, does not begin in the West
until the works of the Pseudo-Dionysius were translated into Latin in
the 9th cent. A.D., and Muslim mysticism dates from the translation of
the _Theology of Aristotle_. On the other hand, it must also be noted
that mysticism exercises a strong modifying influence on theology
generally. The tendency of mysticism is towards a latitudinarian type:
it is consequently opposed, consciously or unconsciously, to definite
dogmatic teaching and so to speculative theology and philosophy.

Superficially Muslim mysticism seems to be organised like a sect.
Reference is often made to the various “grades” of Sufis. But these are
not official grades like those of the Isma`ilians and similar bodies,
but denote successive stages on the path of personal holiness: it is
no more than a fanciful terminology, perhaps borrowed from some of the
sects because it seems that Sufism flourished earliest and most freely
in some of the extremer Shi`ite groups. It was, and is, most usual for
the beginner in the path of holiness to put himself under the direction
of some experienced spiritual guide, who acts as his teacher, and is
known as _sheikh_, _murshid_, or _pir_. In many cases this pupilage
involves absolute and blind obedience to the teacher, because the
renunciation of personal wishes and inclinations and all that can be
described as self-will is one of the forms of abnegation required of
those who seek to be weaned from earthly interests. From the grouping
of devotees around some prominent teacher has arisen the foundation of
darwish confraternities, sometimes as sodalities of laymen, who pursue
their secular occupations and meet from time to time for religious
exercises and instruction, and sometimes as permanent communities
living in strict obedience under a sheikh. Traces of such monastic
institutions appear in Damascus about 150 A.H., and in Khurasan some
fifty years later. None of the existing orders of Islam, however, seem
to be of so early a date. We hear of a sheikh Alwan (circ. 149), whose
shrine is at Jedda, and who is the reputed founder of the Alwaniya
community, a body now existing only as a subdivision of the Rifa`ite
order. There are also orders known as the _Adhamiya_, _Bastamiya_, and
_Saqatiya_, which trace their origin to Ibrahim b. Adham (cf. above),
to Bayazid Bastami, and to Sari as-Saqati respectively, but whose real
origin is uncertain.

In the 6th century we are on surer ground. There is no reason to
question the claim of the Rifa`ite order to trace its foundation to
_Abu l-`Abbas Ahmad b. `Ali l-Hasan `Ali ibn Abi l-`Abbas Ahmad Rifa`i_
(d. 578), a native of the village of Umm Abida, near the junction of
the Tigris and Euphrates. In his lifetime he gathered a large body
of disciples, whom he incorporated in an order in 576, the members
living in community under a sheikh, to whom they owed unquestioning
obedience, but having also, like other orders, a number of lay
adherents. Dying without issue the headship of his order passed to
his brother’s family. It exists to-day in two main branches (i.) the
Alwaniya, already mentioned, and (ii.) the Gibawi, who are best known
from their association with the ceremony of the _dawsa_, at which the
sheikh used to ride over the prostrate bodies of his followers. Of
all the orders now flourishing in Egypt it is the one most inclined
to fanatical observances at its _zikr_ or prayer-meeting, the members
cutting themselves, driving sharp skewers and knives into their bodies,
swallowing snakes, etc., and in prayer allowing the name of God
oft-repeated to become at last no more than a half articulate groan.
They are usually distinguished by black-turbans. The Qadariya claim
`Abdu l-Qadir Jilani (d. 561) as their founder. At their _zikr_ there
is none of the fire-eating, serpent-swallowing, or self-mutilation of
the Rifa`ites, but only the name of God is repeated, always clearly
enunciated and followed by a pause. The Badawiya were founded by Abu
l-Fita Ahmad (d. 675), whose shrine is at Tanta, in Lower Egypt. The
_zikr_ is of a sober kind, the Divine name being repeated in a loud
voice without cutting, fire-eating, etc. The Mawlawiya or dancing
darwishes were founded by the Persian mystical poet Jalalu d-Din Rumi,
the author of the poem known as the _Masnawi_. The _Suhrwardiya_ trace
their origin to Shihabu d-Din, a pantheistic Sufi of Baghdad, who was
put to death by Saladin in 587.

In each of these orders a special course of instruction has taken
a more or less conventional form, and there have been certain great
teachers whose writings have come into use as manuals, and so have
impressed their views upon Sufism generally. Yet the fact remains that
Sufi teaching is essentially eclectic, and can be formulated only in
broad principles and tendencies. Of these the following seem to be of
most general application:--

(i.) God alone exists; God is the only reality, all else is illusive.
This is the Sufi rendering of the doctrine of the unity of God.
Strictly speaking “God” here signifies the Agent Intellect, that is
to say, the revelation of God who in Himself is unknowable, but the
Sufi does not make this philosophical distinction clear, or else
deliberately regards the revelation of God as God. But in man there is
a rational soul, which is to God as a mirrored image is to the object
which it reflects, and is capable of approaching the Divine reality.
As other than God is merely illusive it is obvious that a knowledge of
God the Reality cannot be attained by the medium of created things,
and thus the Sufis were led, like the neo-Platonists, to attach
greater value to immediate intuition by the rational soul than to the
use of arguments, and so to place direct revelation above what is
ordinarily described as reason. This is a line of development common
to all forms of mysticism, and results in a preference for ecstasy or
similar spiritual experience above the record of past revelation as
given in the Qur´an. The doctrine of ecstasy (_hal_ or _maqama_) was
first formulated by Dhu n-Nun, and implies _fana_ or “passing away,”
i.e., insensibility to the things of this world, and finally _baqa_ or
“continuance” in God. Usually this experience is accompanied by loss
of sensation, though this is not always the case, and there are many
legends of Sufi saints which represent them as totally unconscious
of violence of wounds; and this is not confined to legend, for
most extraordinary sufferings are endured, apparently with perfect
placidity, by darwishes at the present day, perhaps in accordance with
psychological laws which are imperfectly understood, and this is the
underlying idea in the exercises undergone by the Rifa`i darwishes and
others. The exercise known as _zikr_ (_dhikr_) or “remembering,” in
accordance with the command in Qur. 33, 41, “remember God often,” is an
attempt to make an advance towards the ecstatic state. It was perhaps
under Sufi influence that we find philosophy inclining to prefer
knowledge obtained by immediate intuition; it was certainly under such
influence that ecstasy is treated as a means of obtaining such direct
apprehension of truth in the later philosophers.

(ii.) The Sufi doctrine of God as the only reality has a direct
bearing not only on creation but also on the problem of good and evil.
As a thing can only be known by its opposite, light by darkness, health
by sickness, being by non-being, so God could only be made known to
man as reality contrasted with non-reality, and the mingling of these
two opposites produces the world of phenomena in which light is made
known by a background of darkness, which darkness is itself only the
absence of light: or, as being proceeds by successive emanations from
the First Cause, and becomes weaker or less real in each emanation as
it recedes further from the great Reality, it incidentally becomes
more perceptible as it becomes less real. Thus evil, which is merely
the negation of the moral beauty of the Reality, appears in the latest
emanation as the unreal background which is the inevitable result of a
projection of the emanation from the First Cause, who is entirely good,
into a world of phenomena. Evil is therefore not real, it is merely
the result, the inevitable result, of the mingling of reality with
unreality. In fact, this is implied in the doctrine that all other than
God is unreal.

(iii.) The aim of the soul is union with God. This doctrine of
_tawhid_, as we have seen, received early expression in Muslim mystic
theology. Dr. Nicholson is of opinion that “the Sufi conception of
the passing away (_fana_) of individual self in universal being is
certainly of Indian origin. Its first great exponent was the Persian
mystic Bāyazīd of Bistām, who may have received it of his teacher, Abū
`Alī of Sind (Scinde.)” (Nicholson: _Mystics of Islam_, p. 17.) But
this is only one particular way of presenting a doctrine which has a
much wider range and is present in all mystical teaching, including
that of the neo-Platonists. In the highest sense it is the basis of
Sufi ethics, for the _summum bonum_ is defined as the union of the
individual soul with God, and all is good which helps towards this, all
is evil which retards it, and this is true of Christian and all other
forms of mysticism equally. We cannot say definitely that the doctrine
of the unitive state is borrowed from neo-Platonism, from Buddhism, or
from Gnosticism; it is the common property of all, and is the natural
conclusion from the mystics premises as to the nature of God and of
the human soul. It may well be that certain presentations of this
doctrine show Indian details, but in this as in all other parts of Sufi
speculation it seems that the constructive theory employed in forming a
theological system was neo-Platonic: even in mysticism the Greek mind
exercised its influence in analysing and constructing hypotheses.

At quite an early age the soul’s desire for union with its Divine
source began to be clothed in terms borrowed from the expression of
human love. With some hesitation we may say, perhaps, that this is
distinctly oriental, although it was so only as a means of expressing a
desire which is characteristic of all mysticism. We find the same, at
a later period, though in a much more restrained fashion, in Christian
mysticism, and it is not easy to see the actual line of contact, if
any. Perhaps we must be content to regard it as independently developed
as a means of expressing the soul’s longing.

The rise of Sufi teaching was not without opposition, and this was
mainly on three grounds (i.) the Sufis advocated constant prayer
in the form of unceasing silent intercourse with God, and by this
tended to discard the fixed _salawat_ or five obligatory prayers at
appointed hours, one of the compulsory duties of Islam and one of its
distinctive marks. Ultimately the Sufi position was that these fixed
ritual observances were for the people at large who had not made any
advance in the deeper spiritual knowledge, but might be disregarded
by those who were more mature in grace, a position which is closely
parallel to that attained by the philosophers. (ii.) They introduced
_zikirs_ or religious exercises, consisting in a continuous repetition
of the name of God, a form of devotion unknown to older Islam, and
consequently an innovation. And (iii.) many of them adopted the
practice of _tawakkul_, or complete dependence on God, neglecting all
kinds of labour or trade, refusing medical aid in sickness, and living
on alms begged from the faithful. All these were “innovations,” and as
such met with very definite opposition, mostly, no doubt, because they
were repugnant to the sober tone of traditional Islam, which has always
been suspicious of oriental fanaticism. The more serious objection,
that it really dispensed with the religion of the Qur´an is implied if
not expressed; it introduced an entirely new concept of God and a new
standard of religious values; if Sufi ideas prevailed the practices of
the Muslim religion would be at best the tolerable and harmless usages
of those who were not initiated into vital religion. In fact, however,
the philosophical principles brought forward by the neo-Platonic
Aristotelian works in general circulation were so far influential and
regarded as reconcileable with the Qur´an that Sufism, in so far as it
was neo-Platonic, did not appear to be destructive of Islam, but only
at variance with customary usage.

Nevertheless, Sufism was generally looked upon as heretical, not only
from the “innovations” we have mentioned, but because of the close
alliance between the doctrines of its extremer advocates and those
of the more advanced Shi`ites. It is indeed most significant that it
developed chiefly amongst the same elements which gave the readiest
hearing to philosophy and still adhered to Zoroastrian and Masdekite
ideas. No doubt the ill repute of Sufism was largely due to the bad
company it kept. It was not until the time of al-Ghazali (d. 505) that
Sufism began to take its place in orthodox Islam. Al-Ghazali, left
an orphan at an early age, had been educated by a Sufi friend, and,
after becoming an Ash`arite and as such acting as president of the
Nazimite academy at Baghdad, found himself in spiritual difficulties,
and spent eleven years in retirement and in the practices of devotion,
with the result that when he returned to work as a teacher in 449
his instruction was strongly leavened by mysticism, practically a
return to the principles he had been taught in his early years. As
al-Ghazali became in course of time the dominant influence in Muslim
scholasticism, a modified and orthodox Sufism was introduced into Sunni
theology and has since held its own. At the same time he reduced Sufism
to a scientific form, and gave, or rather supported, a terminology
derived from Plotinus. Such a Sufism may be described as Muslim mystic
theology purged of its Shi`ite accretions. This admission of a modified
Sufism into the orthodox church of Islam took place in the sixth
century A.H.

In the following century Sufism appeared in Spain, but there it arrived
as transmitted through an orthodox medium, and hence differs from
Asiatic mysticism. The first Spanish Sufi seems to have been _Muhyi
d-Din ibn `Arabi_ (d. 638), who travelled in Asia and died at Damascus.
He was a follower of Ibn Hazm, who, as we shall see later, represents
a system of jurisprudence of a type more reactionary even than that
of Ibn Hanbal. In Spain itself the leading Sufi was _`Abdu l-Haqq ibn
Sab`in_ (d. 667), who shows the more characteristic Spanish attitude of
a Sufi who was also a philosopher, for Spanish Sufism was essentially
speculative. Like many other philosophers of the Muwahhid period he
adhered outwardly to the Zahirites, the most reactionary party of the
narrowest orthodoxy.

In the 7th century, also, we have _Jalalu d-Din Rumi_ (d. 672), who
practically completes the golden age of Sufism. Although a Persian he
was an orthodox Sunni. He was a native of Balkh, but his father was
compelled to leave that city and migrate westward, and finally settled
at Qonya (Iconium), where he died. Jalalu d-Din had been educated by
his father, and after his death he sought further instruction at Aleppo
and Damascus, where he came under the influence of Burhanu d-Din of
Tirmidh, who had been one of his father’s pupils, and continued his
training in Sufi doctrines. After this teacher’s death he came in touch
with the eccentric but saintly Shams-i-Tabriz, a man of great spiritual
power but illiterate, who left a great impress on his age by his
tremendous spiritual enthusiasm and the strange crudity of his conduct
and character. It was after the death of Shams-i-Tabriz that Jalalu
d-Din commenced his great mystical poem, the _Masnawi_, a work which
has attained an extraordinary eminence and reverence throughout the
whole of Turkish Islam. As already mentioned, Jalalu d-Din founded an
order of Darwishes known as the Mawlawi order, or “dancing darwishes,”
as they are called by Europeans.

The whole course of doctrinal Sufism begins with Dhu n-Nun and ends
with Jalalu d-Din; later writers do little more than repeat their
teaching in new literary form, and it will be sufficient to select a
few typical examples. In the 8th cent. we have _`Abdu r-Razzaq_ (d.
730), a pantheistic Sufi who wrote a commentary on and defended the
teaching of Muhiyyu d-Din ibnu l-`Arabi. He advocated the doctrine
of free will on the ground that the human soul is an emanation from
God, and so shares the Divine character. This world, he holds, is
the best possible world: differences in condition exist and justice
consists in accepting these and adapting things to their situation;
ultimately all things will cease to exist as they are reabsorbed in
God, the only reality. Men are divided into three classes: the first
contains the men of the world, whose life centres in self and who are
indifferent towards religion; a second class contains the men of the
reason, who discern God intellectually by his external attributes and
manifestations; and as a third class are the men of the spirit, who
perceive God intuitively.

Although Sufism has now taken a recognised place in the life of
Islam, it was not allowed to pass without occasional challenge. The
leading opponent was the Hanbalite reformer, Ibn Taymiya (d. 728), who
represented the reactionary but popular theology. He rejected formal
adherence to any school, dismissed all importance attached to _Ijma_
or “consensus” save that based on the agreement of the Prophet’s
Companions; he denounced the scholastic theology of al-Ash`ari and
al-Ghazali, and defined the Divine attributes on the lines laid down
by Ibn Hazm. At that time the Sufi an-Nasr al-Manbiji was prominent
in Cairo, and to him Ibn Taymiya wrote a letter denouncing the Sufi
doctrine of _ittihad_ as heresy. From this arose a quarrel between the
two rival forces of Islam, traditional orthodoxy and mysticism, in the
course of which Ibn Taymiya suffered persecution and imprisonment.
Towards the end of his life, in 726, he issued a _fatwa_ or declaration
of opinion against the lawfulness of the reverence paid to the tombs of
saints and of the invocation of saints, the Prophet himself included.
In this he was the precursor of the Wahibi reformation of the 18th
cent. A.D. MSS. exist in which the works of Ibn Taymiya are copied out
by the hand of `Abdu l-Wahhab, who was evidently a close student of
that reformer, all of whose theories he reproduces.

_Ash-Sha´rani_ of Cairo (d. 973) is typical of the later orthodox
Sufi. He was a follower of Ibn `Arabi on general lines but without his
pantheism. His writings are a strange mixture of lofty speculation
and lowly superstition, his life was full of intercourse with jinns
and other supernatural beings. The truth, he states, is not to be
reached by the aid of reason, but only by ecstatic vision. The _wali_
is the man who possesses the gift of illumination (_ilham_), or
direct apprehension of the spiritual, but that grace differs from
the inspiration (_wahy_) bestowed upon the prophets, and the wali
must submit to the guidance of prophetic revelations. All walis
are essentially under the _qutb_, but the qutb is inferior to the
companions of Muhammad. Whatever rule (_tariqa_) a darwish follows
he is guided by God, but ash-Sha´rani himself preferred the rule of
al-Junayd. The varying opinions of the canonists are adapted to the
different needs of men. Ash-Sha´rani was the founder of a darwish order
which forms a subdivision of the Badawiya (cf. above). His writings
have considerable influence in modern Islam, and form the programme of
those who advocate a neo-Sufi reformation.



The formation of an orthodox scholasticism within the Muslim church
appears as a development spread over the 4th-5th centuries of the Hijra
(10-11 cent. A.D.), and is in three strata associated with the three
leaders, al-Ash`ari, al-Baqilani, and al-Ghazali. Such a development,
of course, is principally of interest for the internal history of Islam
and the evolution of Muslim theology, but it had its influence also on
the transmission of Arabic thought to Latin Christendom in two ways:
(i.) directly, in that al-Ghazali was established as one of the great
Arabic authorities when the Latins began to study the interpreters of
Aristotle, and his teaching is quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas and other
scholastic writers; and (ii.) indirectly, because a considerable part
of the work of Ibn Rushd (Averroes) takes the form of controversy
against the followers of al-Ghazali; his _Destruction of the
Destruction_, for example, is a refutation of al-Ghazali’s _Destruction
of the Philosophers_. It thus becomes imperative to know something
about the position and teaching of al-Ghazali and the influences which
prepared the way for his work.

Such a movement as orthodox scholasticism was inevitable. The position
at the end of the third century was quite impossible. The orthodox
Muslim adhered strictly to tradition, and entirely refused to admit
“innovation” (_bid`a_): he had been forced into this position as a
reaction against his earlier ready acceptance of Plato and Aristotle
as inspired teachers, for the later errors of the Mu`tazilites showed
what extremely dangerous conclusions could be drawn by those who
came under Hellenistic influence, and the more accurately the Greek
philosophers were studied the worse the heresies gathered from them.
Orthodox thought held itself carefully aloof from the Mu`tazilites
and philosophers on the one side, and from the Shi`ites and Sufis on
the other, confining itself to the safe studies of Qur´an exegesis,
tradition, and the canon law in which at Baghdad the reactionary
influence of Ibn Hanbal was predominant. The whole of the third century
had been a time of reaction on the part of the orthodox, very largely
due to the unfortunate attempt of al-Ma´mun to force rationalism on
his subjects. Al-Ghazali tells us in his “Confessions” that some
sincere Muslims felt themselves bound to reject all the exact sciences
as of dangerous tendency, and so repudiated scientific theories as
to eclipses of the sun and moon. All speculation lay under a ban,
because it led to “innovation” in belief or in practice; it was
contrary to orthodoxy to use the methods of Greek philosophy to prove
revealed doctrine as much as it was to impugn it, for both alike were
innovations on the traditional usage; nothing was known of spiritual
matters save what is actually stated in the Qur´an and tradition, and
from this nothing could be deduced by the use of argument, for logic
itself was a Greek innovation, at least as applied to theology: only
that was known which was actually stated, and no explanation of the
statement was lawful. Thus, when Ahmad ibn Hanbal was examined by
the inquisitors of al-Ma´mun he replied only by quoting the words of
the Qur´an or tradition, refusing to draw any conclusions from these
statements and admitting no conclusions drawn, keeping silence when
arguments were proposed to him, and protesting that such examination as
to religious belief was itself an innovation.

This position was hardly satisfactory to those who had inherited any
part of the Hellenic tradition, and it ultimately became impossible. An
organic body which cannot adapt itself to its surroundings is doomed
to decay. The Islamic state had sufficient vitality to meet the new
conditions introduced by its expansion to Syria and Persia, and now the
time had come for Islamic theology to adapt itself to the new thought
that was invading it. As we have seen, the philosophers al-Kindi
and al-Farabi were loyal Muslims, and had no suspicion that their
investigations were leading to heretical conclusions, and such was
undoubtedly the case with the earlier Mu`tazilites also, but results
had justified the orthodox in a suspicious attitude towards “argument”
(_kalam_). Now, towards the close of the third century the attempt to
find an orthodox _kalam_ appears as a movement which originates with
the Mu`tazilites, of whom a section of the more conservative sought to
return to an orthodox stand-point, and to use _kalam_ in theology in
defence of the traditional beliefs as against the heretical conclusions
which were in circulation. Following a somewhat later usage we may
employ this term _kalam_ to denote an orthodox philosophical theology,
that is to say, one in which the methods of philosophy were used, but
the primary material was obtained from revelation, and thus one which
was closely parallel with the scholastic theology of Latin Christendom.

We have cited the name of al-Ash`ari as representative of the
first stage of this movement, but it is equally represented by the
contemporary al-Mataradi in Samarqand and by at-Tahawi in Egypt. Of
these, however, at-Tahawi has quite passed into oblivion. For long
the Ash`arites and the Mataridites formed rival orthodox schools of
_kalam_, and al-Mataridi’s system still has a certain vogue amongst
Turkish Muslims, but the Ash`arite system is that which commands the
widest assent. Theologians reckon thirteen points of difference between
the two schools, all of purely theoretical importance.

Al-Ash`ari was born at Basra in 260 or 270, and died at Baghdad about
330 or 340. At first he was an adherent of the Mu`tazilites, but one
Friday in A.H. 300 he made a public renunciation of the views of that
party, and took up a definitely orthodox position; in the pulpit of
the great mosque at Basra he said, “They who know me know who I am;
as for those who do not know me, I am `Ali b. Isma`il al-Ash`ari,
and I used to hold that the Qur´an was created, that the eyes of men
shall not see God, and that we ourselves are the authors of our evil
deeds; now I have returned to the truth; I renounce these opinions,
and I take the engagement to refute the Mu`tazilites and expose their
infamy and turpitude” (Ibn Khallikan, ii. 228). From this it will be
perceived that the doctrines then regarded as characteristic of the
Mu`tazilites were (i.) that the Qur´an was created, (ii.) the denial of
the possibility of the beatific vision, and (iii.) the freedom of the

In the period after this change al-Ash`ari wrote a controversial
work against the Mu`tazilites, which bears the name _Kitab ash-Sharh
wa-t-Tafsil_, “the book of explanation and exposition”; he was the
author also of religious treatises called _Luma_ “flashes,” _Mujaz_
“abridgment,” _Idah al-Burhan_ “elucidation of the Burhan,” and
_Tabiyin_ “illustrations.” His real importance, however, lay in
founding a school of orthodox scholasticism, afterwards more fully
developed by al-Baqilani, and gradually spreading through the Muslim
world, although strongly opposed on the one side by the _falasifah_,
who saw in its teaching the introduction of traditional beliefs
limiting and restricting the Aristotelian doctrine, and on the other
side by the more reactionary orthodox, who disapproved the use of
philosophical methods as applied to theological subjects. This use of
philosophy in the explanation and defence of religion came to be known
as _kalam_, and those who employed it were called _mutakallamin_.

In dealing with the old problems of Muslim theology, such as the
eternity of the Qur´an, the freedom of the will, etc., the Ash`arites
do seem to have produced a reasonable statement of doctrine, which yet
safeguarded the main demands of orthodoxy.

(_a_) As to the Qur´an they held that it was eternal in God, but its
expression in words and syllables was created in time. This does not
of course mean that the expression was due to the Prophet to whom it
was revealed, but to God, so that the doctrine of literal inspiration
was asserted in the strictest form. Nor was it thus created when it
was revealed, but long before in remote ages when it was first uttered
to the angels and “august beings,” and was afterwards disclosed by the
angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. This, which is now the orthodox
belief, has furnished an opportunity for controversy to Christians and
modern rationalists, who have fixed upon the use of particular words,
introduced into Arabic as loan words from Syriac, Persian, and Greek,
and appear in the Qur´an: how, they ask, can it be explained that words
revealed at a remote period of past eternity, long before the creation
of the world, as it is commonly asserted, show the influence of foreign
languages which were brought to bear upon Arabic in the 7th cent. A.D.?
and Muslim apologists, who have always maintained the absolute purity
of Qur´anic Arabic as one of the evidences of Divine origin, seem
to regard this as a serious difficulty. The view that the Qur´an is
eternal in substance, and thus in substance revealed to the Prophet,
who was left to express it in his own words, which would thereby show
the limitations of his time, is not admitted by the orthodox. It will
be noted also that the Ash`arite teaching evades and does not answer
an old difficulty: if the substance of the Qur´an is the wisdom of God
and is co-eternal with Him, even though emanating from Him, we have
something other than God, namely, His wisdom, eternally existing with
Him, and this can be represented as parallel with the persons of the
Christian Trinity, so as to be inconsistent with the absolute unity of

(_b_) This brings us to the attributes of God generally. The
Ash`arites in this controversy side with the traditional school
against the philosophers. Of the ten Aristotelian categories they
regard only two--existence, i.e., _ens_, and quality as objectively
real; the other eight are merely relative characteristics (_i´tibar_)
subjective in the mind of the knower, and having no objective reality.
God has qualities--indeed, no less than twenty are enumerated, but
amongst these is _mukhalafa_, which is the quality of uniqueness in
qualification, so that the qualities and attributes ascribed to God
must either be such as cannot be applied to men, or else, if the terms
can be used of created beings, they must have quite different meanings
when applied to God, and these qualities thus signified must be such
as could not be predicated of men or of any other created being. Thus,
that God has power and wisdom means that He is almighty and omniscient
in a way which could not possibly be stated of any men. In practice
this works so that no attribute can be applied to God unless it is
expressly so applied in the text of the Qur´an; if it occurs there it
may be used, but must be understood as having a meaning other than such
a term would have when used in the normal way of men. It cannot be that
God’s attributes differ from those of men only in degree, as that He
is wiser and more powerful than man, but they differ in their whole
nature. It is noted also that God is _qiyam bi-n-nafs_, or “subsisting
in Himself,” that is to say, independent of any other than Himself, and
so God’s knowledge does not depend on the existence or nature of the
thing known.

(_c_) As to freedom of the will. God creates power in the man and
creates also the choice, and He then creates the act corresponding to
this power and choice. Thus the action is “acquired” by the creature.

Of the categories existence is the first substratum, and to this the
other predicables are added: none of these others are separable or
_per se_, they can only exist in the essence. It is admitted that such
qualities exist in the _ens_, but they are only adjuncts which come
into being with the _ens_ and go out of existence with it. Therefore
the world consists of _entia_ or substances on which the mind reflects
the qualities which are not in the thing itself but only in the mind.
Against the Aristotelian theory that matter suffers the impress of
form, he argues that all impress is subjective in the mind: if all
qualities fall out substance itself ceases to exist, and so substance
is not permanent but transitory, which opposes the Aristotelian
doctrine of the eternity of matter.

The substances perceived by us are atoms which come into existence
from vacuity and drop out of existence again. Thus, when a body moves
from one position to another the atoms in the first position cease to
be, and a group of new similar atoms come into existence in the second
position, so that movement involves a series of annihilations and

The cause of these changes is God, the only permanent and absolute
reality. There is no secondary cause, as there are no laws of nature;
in every case God acts directly upon each atom. Thus, fire does not
cause burning, but God creates a being burned when fire touches a
body, and the burning is directly His work. So in the freedom of the
will, as, for example, when a man writes, God gives the will to write
and causes the apparent motion of the pen and of the hand, and also
directly creates the writing which seems to proceed from the pen.

Existence is the very self of the thing. This is peculiar to
al-Ash`ari and his followers: all others hold existence to be the state
(_hāl_) necessary to the essence, but in al-Ash`ari it is the essence.
So God exists, and His existence is the self (_`ayn_) of His essence.

Such a system involves ethical difficulties; it appears that there can
be no responsibility if there is no connection between action and the
act done. Al-Ash`ari replied that there is a unity in the will of God,
so that cause and effect are not isolated as though independent atoms,
but all is disposed according to a Divine plan. This answer, however,
can hardly be regarded as adequate.

This system is an attempt to deal with the difficulties raised
by philosophy, but al-Ash`ari considers it preferable that the
difficulties should never be raised, and so strongly urges that the
mysteries of philosophy should never be discussed with the multitude.
We shall see the same conclusion set forth by the later philosopher
of the West, but on a somewhat different ground; they regarded the
mysteries of philosophy as containing the supreme truth, for which the
multitude was not ripe, and so they should not be discussed publicly,
as the people were not able to understand; but al-Ash`ari seems rather
to regard these mysteries as likely to be not edifying, as introducing
questions which are of small importance compared with the great truths
of revelation.

The Ash`arite system thus described was completed by al-Baqilani
(d. 403), but it did not become general until it was popularised by
al-Ghazali in the East and by Ibn Tumart in the West.

Al-Mataridi, of Samarqand was a contemporary of al-Ash`ari, and reached
very similar results. Amongst the points peculiar to al-Mataridi we
may note (_a_) the attribute of _creating_ has been an attribute of
God from all eternity, but this attribute is distinct from the thing
created; (_b_) Creatures have certain choice of action, and for the
things done by this choice they are rewarded or punished; good actions
are only done by the pleasure (_rida_) of God, but bad actions are not
always by His pleasure; (_c_) Ability to do the action goes with the
will and the act, so that the creature cannot have an action imposed on
him as a task which is not in his power.

He agrees with al-Ash`ari in holding that the world and all it contains
have been created by God from nothing: it consists of substances and
attributes. The substances exist in themselves, either as compounds,
such as bodies, or as non-compounds, as essences which are indivisible.
Attributes have no separate existence, but depend for their existence
on bodies or essences. God is not essence, nor attribute, nor body, nor
anything formed, bounded, numbered, limited, nor compounded. He cannot
be described by _mahiya_ (quiddity), nor _kayfiya_ (modality); He does
not exist in time or place, and nothing resembles Him or is outside His
knowledge or power. He has qualities from all eternity existing in His
essence; they are not He nor is He other than they.

For some time the Ash`arites had to meet keen opposition and even
persecution, and it was not until the middle of the 5th cent. that
they came to be admitted generally as orthodox Muslims. Their triumph
was assured in 459 A.H., when Nizam al-Mulk, the wazir of Alp Arslan,
founded at Baghdad the Nizamite academy as a theological college of
Ash`arite teaching. Still the Hanbalites raised occasional riots,
and demonstrated against those whom they regarded as free thinkers;
but these were put down by authority, and in 516 the Khalif himself
attended the Ash`arite lectures. The Mu`tazilites were now merely a
survival; as broad church theologians they had fallen into general
disrepute in the eyes of the orthodox, and they were equally disliked
by the philosophers as defective in their adherence to the Aristotelian
system. The educated fell now into three broad groups: on the one
hand were the orthodox, who came under the influence of al-Ash`ari or
al-Mataridi; on the other were those who accepted the doctrines of
the philosophers, and in the third place were those who rejected all
philosophy, and confined their attention solely to Qur´an tradition and
the canon law, and who should not be excluded from the ranks of the
educated, although their studies ran in somewhat narrow lines.

The final triumph of the Ash`arite theology was the work of
_al-Ghazali_ (d. 505). He was born at Tus in 450 (= 1058 A.D.); early
left an orphan he was educated by a Sufi friend, and then attended
the school at Naisabur. As his education progressed he cut loose from
Sufi influence and became an Ash`arite, and in 484 he was appointed
president of the Nazimite Academy at Baghdad. Gradually, however, he
became a prey to spiritual unrest, and in 488 resigned his post and
retired to Syria, where he spent some years in study and the practices
of devotion. In 499 he returned to active work as a teacher in the
Nazimite Academy at Naisabur, where he became the leader of a modified
Ash`arite system strongly leavened by mysticism, which we may regard as
the final evolution of orthodox Muslim theology.

Al-Ghazali, following al-Ash`ari, taught that philosophical theory
cannot form the basis of religious thought, thus opposing the position
of the philosophers. By revelation only can the primary essentials
of truth be attained. Philosophy itself is no equal or rival of
revelation: it is no more than common sense and regulated thinking,
which may be employed by men about religion or any other subject; at
best it acts as a preservative against error in deduction and argument,
the primary material for which, so far as religion is concerned, can
be furnished only by revelation. But against this he appears also as
the transmitter of the teaching already given, by al-Qushayri, which
introduced the mysticism of the Sufis into orthodox Islam. Revelation
indeed is given by means of the Qur´an and tradition, and it is
sufficient to accept what is thus revealed, but the ultimate truth
of revelation can be tested and proved only by the experience of the
individual. So far as men are concerned this is possible by means of
ecstasy whereby one becomes a knower (_`arif_), and receives assurance
and enlightenment by direct communication from God. The soul of man
differs from all other created things; it is essentially spiritual, and
so outside the categories which are applicable only to material things.
The soul has been breathed into man by God (Qur. 15, 29; 38, 72), and
this is comparable to the way in which the sun sends out its rays and
gives warmth to those things on which its rays rest. The soul, which
has no dimension, shape, or locus, rules the body in the same way as
God rules the world, so that the body is a microcosm reproducing the
conditions of the world. The essential element of this soul is not the
intelligence which is concerned with the bodily frame, but the will:
just as God is primarily known not as thought or intelligence, but
as the volition which is the cause of creation. Thus God cannot be
considered as the spirit animating the world, which is the pantheistic
position, but as volition outside the world which has willed it to be.

The aim of scholastic theology is to preserve the purity of
orthodox belief from heretical innovation: “God raised up a school
of theologians and inspired them with the desire to defend orthodoxy
by means of a system of proofs adapted to unveil the devices of the
heretics and to foil the attacks which they made on the doctrines
established by tradition” (Al-Ghazali: _Confessions_). Aristotle
himself was an unbeliever using arguments he should not, but, in spite
of his errors, his teaching as expounded by al-Farabi and Ibn Sina
is the system of thought which comes nearest to Islam (id.). Because
of its unavoidable difficulties and the grave errors contained in
Aristotle and his Arabic commentators men are not to be encouraged to
read philosophy (id.).

There are three different worlds or planes of existence (i.) the _`alam
al-mulk_ is that in which existence is apparent to the senses, the
world made known by perception, and this is in a state of constant
change; (ii.) the _`alam al-malakut_, the changeless and eternal
world of reality established by God’s decree, of which the world of
perception is but the reflexion; (iii.) and the _`alam al-jarabut_ or
intermediate state, which properly belongs to the world of reality,
but seems to be in the plane of perception. In this intermediate state
is the human soul, which belongs to the plane of reality, though
apparently projected into the perceptible plane to which it does not
belong, and then returns to reality. The pen, tablet, etc., mentioned
in the Qur´an are not mere allegories; they belong to the world of
reality, and so are something other than what we see in this world of
perception. These three worlds or planes are not separate in time or
space, they are rather to be considered as modes of existence.

The theories of the astronomers as to movements of the heavenly bodies
are to be accepted--al-Ghazali adhered, of course, to the Ptolemaic
system--but these deal only with the lowest plane, the world of sense.
Behind all nature is God, who is on the plane of reality. This higher
plane cannot be reached by reason or intellect, whose operations must
rely on the evidence of sense perception. To reach the plane of reality
man must be raised by a spiritual faculty, “by which he perceives
invisible things, the secrets of the future and other concepts as
inaccessible to reason as the concepts of reason are inaccessible to
mere discrimination and what is perceived by discrimination of the
senses” (op. cit.). Inspiration means the disclosing of realities to
the prophets or saints, and these realities can only be known by such
revelation or by the personal experience of ecstasy by which the soul
is raised to the plane of reality. Not only are the religious truths
in the Qur´an revealed, but all ideas of good and evil are similarly
revealed, and could not be attained by the unaided use of reason, a
view which is obviously intended to refute the Mu`tazilite claim that
moral differences can be perceived by reason. The philosophers also
have attained truths by revelation, and the main substance of medicine
and astronomy is based on such revelation (op. cit.).

Unlike Ibn Rushd, al-Ghazali thus emphasizes supra-rational intuition
attained in a state of ecstasy, whereby the soul is raised above the
world of shadow and reflection to the plane of reality. This was pure
mysticism, and thus al-Ghazali introduces a Sufi element into orthodox
Islam. At the same time he reduced Sufism to a scientific form, and
endorsed the Plotinian terminology. Macdonald summarises his work
under four heads: (i.) he established an orthodox mysticism; (ii.)
he popularised the use of philosophy; (iii.) he rendered philosophy
subordinate to theology, and (iv.) he restored the fear of God when the
element of fear was tending to be thrust into the background, at least
by the educated. From this time on the term _kalam_ was usually applied
to philosophy adapted to the use of theologians.

The chief works left by al-Ghazali are the _Ihya `Ulum ad-Din_,
of which it is understood that a translation by H. Bauer is in
preparation, and the _Mi´yar al-`Ilm_, a treatise on logic. To
posterity, however, he is best known by his _Confessions_, an
autobiographical account of his spiritual life and development, which
may not unfitly be placed beside the Confessions of St. Augustine.

Al-Ghazali completes the development of orthodox Muslim theology. From
this time forth it ceased to have any originality, and for the most
part showed signs of decadence. Here and there we find Sufi revivals;
indeed, Sufism is the only phase of Islam which kept free from the
rigid conservatism which has laid its iron hand of repression upon
Muslim life and thought generally. In Yemen the system of al-Ghazali
was kept alive by generations of Sufis, but for the most part Sufism
preferred less orthodox paths. Against these Sufi movements we see
from time to time others of a distinctly reactionary character, such
as that of the Wahabis, who opposed the theology of al-Ghazali when it
was generally recognised as the orthodox teaching at Mecca, and in this
they were followed by the Sanusi.

_Sayyid Murtada_ (d. 1205 A.H. = 1788 A.D.), a native of Zabid in
Yihama, wrote a commentary on al-Ghazali’s _Ihya `Ulum ad-Din_, and
thus revived the study of the great scholastic theologian. From that
time the Islamic community has not lacked neo-Ghazalian students, and
many consider that that school contains the best promise for modern



Muslim rule in North Africa west of the Nile valley was commenced
under conditions very different from those prevailing in Egypt and
Syria. The Arabs found this land occupied by the Berbers or Libyans,
the same race which from the time of the earliest Pharaohs had been a
perpetual menace to Egypt, and which, on the Mediterranean seaboard,
had offered a serious problem to Phœnician, Greek, Roman and Gothic
colonists. For some thousands of years these Berbers had remained
very much the same as when they had emerged from the neolithic stage,
and were hardy desert men like the Arabs in pre-Islamic times. Their
language was not Semitic, but shows very marked Semitic affinities,
and, although language transmission is often quite distinct from racial
descent, it seems probable that in this case there was a parallel, and
this is best explained by supposing that both were derived from the
neolithic race which at one time spread along the whole of the south
coast of the Mediterranean and across into Arabia, but that some cause,
perhaps the early development of civilization in the Nile valley, had
cut off the eastern wing from the rest, and this segregated portion
developed the peculiar characteristics which we describe as Semitic.
The series of Greek, Punic, Roman, and Gothic settlements had left no
permanent mark on the Berber population, on their language, or on their
culture. At the time of the Arab invasion the country was theoretically
under the Byzantine Empire, and the invading Arabs had to meet the
resistance of a Greek army; but this was not a very serious obstacle,
and the invaders were soon left face to face with the Berber tribes.

The Muslim invasion of North Africa followed immediately after the
invasion of Egypt, but the internal disputes of the Muslim community
prevented a regular conquest. It was not until a second invasion
took place in A.H. 45 (= A.D. 665) that we can regard the Arabs as
commencing the regular conquest and settlement of the country. For
centuries afterwards the Arab control was precarious in the extreme,
revolts were constantly taking place, and many Berber states were
founded, some of which had an existence of considerable duration.
As a rule there was a pronounced racial feeling between Berbers and
Arabs, but there were also tribal feuds, and Arab policy generally
aimed at playing off one powerful tribe against another. Gradually
the Arabs spread all along North Africa and down to the desert edge,
their tribes as a rule occupying the lower ground, whilst the older
population had its chief centres in the mountainous districts. During
the invasion of 45 the city of Kairawan was founded some distance
south of Tunis. The site was badly chosen, and is now marked only by
ruins and a scanty village, but for some centuries it served as the
capital city of _Ifrikiya_, which was the name given to the province
lying next to Egypt, embracing the modern states of Tripoli, Tunis,
and the eastern part of Algeria up to the meridian of Bougie. West
of this lay _Maghrab_, or the “western land,” which was divided into
two districts, Central Maghrab extending from the borders of Ifrikiya
across the greater part of Algeria and the eastern third of Morocco,
and Further Maghrab, which spread beyond to the Atlantic coast. In
these provinces Arabs and Berbers lived side by side, but in distinct
tribes, the intercourse between the two varying in different localities
and at different times. For the most part each race preserved its own
language, the several Arabic dialects being distinguished by archaic
forms and a phonology somewhat modified by Berber influences; but there
are instances of Berber tribes which have adopted Arabic, and some of
the Arab and mixed groups have preferred the Berber language.

The religion of Islam spread rapidly amongst the Berbers, but it took
a particular development, which shows a survival of many pre-Islamic
religious ideas. The worship of saints and the devotion paid at their
tombs is a corruption which appears elsewhere, on lines quite distinct
from the Asiatic beliefs as to incarnation or transmigration, and in
the west this saint worship takes an extreme form, although here and
there are tribes which reject it altogether, as is the case with the B.
Messara, the Ida of South Morocco, etc. Pilgrimages (_ziara_) are made
to saints’ tombs, commemorative banquets are held there (_wa´da_ or
_ta´an_), and acts of worship, often taking a revolting form, are paid
to living saints, who are known as _murabits_ or _marabouts_, a word
which literally means “those who serve in frontier forts (_ribat_),”
where the soldiers were accustomed to devote themselves to practices
of piety. These saints are also known as _sidi_ (lords), or _mulaye_
(teachers), and in the Berber language of the Twaregs as _aneslem_,
or “Islamic.” Very often they are insane persons, and are allowed to
indulge every passion and to disregard the ordinary laws of morality.
Even those living at the present day are credited with miraculous
powers, not only with gifts of healing, but with exemption from the
limitations of space and from the laws of gravity (cf. Trumelet: _Les
saints de l’islam_, Paris, 1881); in many cases the same saint has two
or more tombs, and is believed to be buried in each, for it is argued
that, as he was able to be in two or more places at once during life,
so his body can be in several tombs after death. All this, of course,
is no normal development of Islam, to which it is plainly repugnant.
How thin a veneer of Muslim usages covers over a mass of primitive
animism may be seen from Dr. Westermarck’s essay on “Belief in spirits
in Morocco,” the firstfruits of the newly established Academy at Abo in
Finland (_Humaniora._ I. i. Abo, Finland, 1920), and from Dr. Montet’s
_Le culte des saints musulmans dans l’Afrique du nord_ (Geneva, 1905).

Amongst the Berber tribes in perpetual conflict with the Arab garrisons
there was always a refuge and a welcome for the lost causes of Islam,
and so almost every heretical sect and every defeated dynasty made
its last stand there, so that even now those parts show the strangest
survivals of otherwise forgotten movements. No doubt this was mainly
due to a perennial tone of disaffection towards the Arab rulers, and
anyone in revolt against the Khalif was welcomed for that very fact.

The conquest of Spain towards the end of the 1st cent. A.H. (early 8th
cent. A.D.) was jointly an Arab and Berber undertaking, the Berbers
being in the great majority in the invading army, and most of the
leaders being Berber. Thus in Andalusia the old rivalries between Arab
and Berber figure largely in the next few centuries. At first Andalusia
was regarded merely as a district attached to the province of North
Africa, and was ruled from Ifrikiya.

In A.H. 138, after the fall of the Umayyads in Asia, a fugitive member
of the fallen dynasty, `Abdu r-Rahman, failing in an attempt to restore
his family in Africa, crossed over to Spain, and there established a
new and independent power, with its seat of government at Cordova,
and in A.H. 317 one of his descendants formally assumed the title
of “Commander of the Faithful.” The Umayyads of Spain very closely
reproduced the general characteristics of their rule in Syria. They
were tolerant, and made free use of Christian and Jewish officials;
they encouraged the older literary arts, and especially poetry, and
employed Greek artists and architects; but though doing much for the
more material elements of culture, there is no evidence under their
rule of any interest in Greek learning or philosophy. Yet, though in a
sense old-fashioned, the country was by no means isolated, and we find
frequent intercourse between Spain and the east. The religious duty of
the pilgrimage has always been an important factor in promoting the
common life of Islam, and there is abundant evidence that the Spanish
Muslims looked steadily eastwards for religious guidance, accepting
the _hadith_, the canon law, and the development of a scientific
jurisprudence as it took shape in the east. Both Muslims and Jews
travelled to Mesopotamia in order to complete their education, and thus
kept in contact with the more cultured life of Asia. But Spanish Islam
had no feeling of sympathy with the philosophical speculation popular
in the east, and certainly disapproved the latitudinarian developments
which were taking place under the `Abbasids of the third century:
its tendency was to a rigid orthodoxy and strict conservatism, its
interests were confined to the canon law, Qur´anic exegesis, and the
study of tradition.

The reactionary character of Spanish Islam is well illustrated by
_Ibn Hazm_ (d. 456 A.H.), the first important theologian which it
produced. Rejecting the four recognised and orthodox schools of canon
law, and discarding even the rigid system of Ibn Hanbal as not strict
enough, he became an adherent of the school founded by Da´ud az-Zahiri
(d. 270), which has never been admitted as on the same footing as the
other four, and now is totally extinct. In the teaching of that school
Qur´an and tradition were taken in their strictest and most literal
sense; any sort of deduction by analogy was forbidden; “it is evident
that here we have to do with an impossible man and school, and so the
Muslim world found. Most said roundly that it was illegal to appoint a
Zahirite to act as judge, on much the same grounds that objection to
circumstantial evidence will throw out a man now as juror. If they had
been using modern language, they would have said that it was because
he was a hopeless crank.” (Macdonald: _Muslim Theology_, p. 110). This
was the system which Ibn Hazm now introduced into Spain, and it was
one calculated to appeal to the stern puritan strain which undoubtedly
exists in the Iberian character. The novel point was that Ibn Hazm
applied the principles and methods of jurisprudence to theology proper.
Like Da´ud he entirely rejected the principles of analogy and _taqlid_,
that is, the following of authority in the sense of accepting the
dictum of a known teacher. As this undermined all existing systems, and
required every man to study Qur´an and tradition for himself, it did
not receive the approval of the canonists, who, in Spain as elsewhere,
were the followers of recognised schools, such as that of Abu Hanifa
and the other orthodox systems, and it was not until a full century
afterwards that he gained any number of adherents. In theology he
admitted the Ash`arite doctrine of _mukhalafa_, the difference of God
from all created beings, so that human attributes could not be applied
to him in the same sense as they were used of men; but he carried this
a stage further, and opposed the Ash`arites, who, though admitting
the difference, had then argued about the attributes of God as though
they described God’s nature, when the very fact of difference deprives
them of any meaning intelligible to us. As in the Qur´an ninety-nine
descriptive titles are applied to God we may lawfully employ them, but
we neither know what they imply nor can we argue anything from them.
The same method is applied to the treatment of the anthropomorphical
expressions which are applied to God in the Qur´an; we may use those
expressions, but we have not the slightest idea of what they may
indicate, save that we know they do not mean what they would mean as
used of men. In ethics the only distinction between good and evil is
based on God’s will, and our only knowledge of that distinction is
obtained from revelation. If God forbids theft it is wrong only because
God forbids it; there is no standard other than the arbitrary approval
or disapproval of God.

Although it took a century for these views to obtain any number of
adherents, Ibn Hazm was no obscure figure during his lifetime. He
became prominent as a violent and abusive controversialist, an opponent
of the Ash`arite party and of the Mu`tazilites, curiously enough
treating the latter more gently as having limited God’s qualities.

Ibn Hazm lived at a time when the Umayyads of Cordova were already
in their decay, and in 422 the dynasty fell. Very soon the whole of
Andalusia was split into a number of independent principalities, and
this was followed by a period of anarchy, during which the country
was exposed more and more to Christian attacks, until at length
Mu`tamid, King of Seville, fearing that the Muslim states would
disappear altogether under the tide of Christian conquest, advised his
co-religionists to appeal for help to the Murabit power in Morocco,
which, with much misgiving, they did.

The Murabits, the name is that commonly applied to saints in Morocco,
were the product of a religious revival led by Yahya b. Ibrahim of the
clan of the Jidala, a branch of the great Berber tribe of Latuna, one
of those light-complexioned Berber races such as can still be seen
in Algeria, and are apparently nearest akin to the Lebu as they are
represented in ancient Egyptian paintings. In 428 (= 1036 A.D.) Yahya
performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, and was astonished and delighted
at the evidences of culture and prosperity which he saw in the lands
through which he travelled, so far exceeding anything which had
previously entered his experience. On his return journey he stopped
at Kairawan and became a hearer at the lectures given there by Abu
Amran. The lecturer was greatly struck by the diligence and attention
of his pupil, and greatly surprised when he discovered that he was a
product of one of the wild and barbarous tribes of the far west. But
when Yahya asked that one of the alumni of Kairawan might be sent
home with him to teach his fellow-tribesmen no one was found willing
to venture amongst a people who were generally regarded as fierce and
savage, until at last the task was undertaken by Abdullah ibn Jahsim.
Helped by his companion Yahya commenced a religious revival amongst
the Berbers of the West, and seems to have modelled his work on the
example of the Prophet, by force of arms urging his reforms upon the
neighbouring tribes and laying the foundation of a united kingdom, a
work which was continued by his successor, Yusuf b. Tashfin, and so
at length a powerful kingdom was established, which extended from the
Mediterranean to the Senegal. Many such Berber states were established
at various times, but, as a rule, they fell into decay after a couple
of generations.

Yusuf b. Tashfin was the champion now invited by the Muslims of Spain,
not without misgivings in many quarters, but the choice seemed to lie
only between Christian or Berber, and the Berbers were at least of
their own religion and of the same race as the majority of the Spanish
Muslims. Yusuf came as a helper, but a second time invited he stayed on
and established his authority over the country, and thus Spain became
a province under the rule of the Murabit princes of Morocco. Yusuf was
succeeded by `Ali, who was successful in restraining the Christians,
and at one time even formed plans to drive them out of Spain altogether.

Murabit rule, which lasted 35 years, brought many changes and itself
experienced many changes. The rulers were rough men of uncouth manners
and fanatical outlook. Not many years before, it will be remembered,
the Arabs of Kairawan were reluctant to venture into their land, such
was their ill repute. They were partially humanised by a religious
movement, and thus naturally show a religious character which bordered
on fanaticism. `Ali himself was entirely in the hands of the _faqirs_
or mendicant devotees and qadis, and the government was liable to
interference from these irresponsible fanatics at every turn. It was a
state of affairs which awakened the impatience of the cultured Muslims
of Spain, who expressed their feelings in many caustic epigrams and
satirical poems. But very soon a change began to work. The Murabits
and their followers did not become less attached to the devotees, who
swarmed unchecked on every side and received idolatrous attentions
from the multitude, but they learned the luxuries and refinements of
the cultured life then prevailing in Spain and showed themselves apt
pupils. Indeed, their downfall may be explained either as due to effete
luxury or to faqir-ridden superstition, as we shall see later on.

The intellectual life of Muslim Spain up to the Murabit period was
conservative rather than backward. Its literary men were nearer the old
traditional Arab type than was the case in the eastern Khalifate, where
Persian influences had pushed the Arab so much into the background;
its scholars were still occupied exclusively with the traditional
sciences, exegesis, canon law, and traditions. The Murabit invasion
offered a stimulus to satirical verse, but otherwise did nothing to
promote either literature or science. Yet it is under Murabit rule
that we find the first beginnings of western philosophy, and the line
of transmission is from the Mu`tazilites of Baghdad through the Jews
and thence to the Muslims of Spain. The Jews act as intermediaries who
bring the Muslim philosophy of Asia into contact with the Muslims of

For a long time the Jews had taken no part in the development of
Hellenistic philosophy, although in the latter Syriac period they
had participated in medical studies and in natural science, of which
we have seen evidence in the important work of Jewish physicians and
scientists at Baghdad under al-Ma´mun and the early `Abbasids. Outside
medicine and natural science Jewish interest seems to have been mainly
confined to Biblical exegesis, tradition, and canon law.

One of the few exceptions to this restriction of interests was
_Sa`id al-Fayyumi_ or Saadya ben Joseph (d. 331 A.H. = 942 A.D.), a
native of Upper Egypt, who became one of the Geonim of the academy
at Sora on the Euphrates, and is best known as the translator of the
Old Testament into Arabic, which had now replaced Aramaic as the
speech of the Jews both in Asia and in Spain. As an author his most
important work was the _Kitab al-Amanat wa-l-´Itiqadat_, or “Book of
the articles of faith and dogmatics,” which was finished in 321-2 (=
A.D. 933), and was afterwards translated into Hebrew as _Sefer Emunot
we-De´ot_ by Judah b. Tibbon. He was the author also of a commentary
on the Pentateuch, of which only a portion (on Exod. 30, 11-16)
survives, as well as other works; but it is in the first-named and
in the commentary that his views appear most clearly. For the first
time a Jewish writer shows familiarity with the problems raised by
the Mu`tazilites, and gives these a serious attention from the Jewish
stand-point. It does not seem, however, that we should class Sa`id as
a Mu`tazilite; he more properly represents the movement which produced
his Muslim contemporaries, al-Ash`ari and al-Mataridi, that is to say,
he is one of those who use orthodox _kalam_ and adapt philosophy to
apologetic purposes. His position is shown most clearly in the “Book of
the articles of faith and dogmatics” in dealing with the three problems
of (_a_) creation, (_b_) the Divine Unity, and (_c_) free will. In the
first of these he defends the doctrine of a creation _ex nihilo_, but
in giving proofs of the necessity of a creator he shows in three out of
the four arguments employed distinct traces of Aristotelian influences.
In treating the doctrine of the Divine Unity he is chiefly concerned
with opposing the Christian teaching of the Trinity, but incidentally
is compelled to deal with the idea of God and the Divine attributes,
and in doing so maintains that none of the Aristotelian categories can
be applied to God. As to the human will he defends its freedom, and his
task is mainly an effort to reconcile this with the omnipotence and
omniscience of God. In the fragment on Exodus he refers to the commands
of revelation and the commands of reason, these latter, he asserts,
being based on philosophical speculation.

Evidently the _Mutakallamin_ movement, professedly an orthodox
reaction from the Mu`tazilites, represents a great widening of
philosophical influences. Philosophy was no longer a subject confined
to one group of scholars who were interested in Greek writings, but
had spread out until it reached the mosques, and could no longer be
thrust aside as an heretical aberration, and in its outspread it had
penetrated the Jewish schools as well. But Sa`id produced no immediate
disciples, and those who followed him in the Jewish academies of
Mesopotamia showed no interest in his methods. Yet his work, apparently
barren, was destined to have results of the widest importance after a
century’s interval. In spite of distance and the difficulties of travel
there was a very close and frequent intercourse maintained between all
the Jews of the Sefardi group, those, namely, who had adopted Arabic
as their ordinary speech and who were living under Muslim rule. The
Ashkenazi Jews in the north and centre of Europe who lived in Christian
lands and did not use Arabic were definitely separated from these
others by the barrier of language, and thus in different surroundings
the two groups developed marked differences in their use of Hebrew,
in their liturgical formularies, and in their popular beliefs and
folk-lore. Thus we must bear in mind that a synagogue in Spain would
naturally be in close touch with synagogues in Mesopotamia, but it was
not likely to have any contact with one in the Rhine valley.

Although the earlier Jewish settlers in Spain and Provence had enjoyed
considerable freedom, restrictions had been imposed by the council
of Elvira (A.D. 303-4), and they had to suffer considerable severity
under the later West Goths. The coming of the Muslims had greatly
eased their position, chiefly because the Jews had taken a leading
part in assisting and probably in inviting the invaders; they often
furnished garrisons to occupy towns which the Muslims had conquered,
and were the means of supplying them with information as to the enemy’s
movements. It seems probable that they had been in correspondence with
the Muslims beforehand, so that they shared with Witiza’s partisans
the responsibility of inviting the invasion. Under Umayyad rule their
prosperity continued and increased. Very often we find Jews occupying
high positions at court and in the civil service, and these favorable
conditions seem to have prevailed until the time of the Muwahhids, for
it does not appear that the Murabits, for all their fanaticism, took
any measures against Christians or Jews.

Important amongst the Jews of the Umayyad period was _Hasdai ben
Shabrut_ (d. 360 or 380 A.H.), a physician under `Abdu r-Rahman, who
sent presents to Sora and Pumbaditha, and carried on a correspondence
with Dosa, son of the Gaon Sa`id al-Fayyumi. Hitherto it had been the
custom for the western Jews to refer all difficult problems of the
canon law to the learned of the academies in Mesopotamia, just as their
Muslim neighbours referred to the East for guidance in jurisprudence
and theology. But Hasdai took advantage of the accidental presence
of Moses Ben Enoch in Cordova to found a native Spanish academy for
rabbinical studies there, and appointed Moses its president, a step
which received the warm approval of the Umayyad prince. This turned
out to be more important than its founder had anticipated; it was
not merely a provincial school reproducing the work of the eastern
academies, but resulted in the transference of Jewish scholarship to
Spain. At that time Asiatic Islam was beginning to feel the restricting
power of the orthodox reaction, whilst Spain, on the other hand, saw
the opening of a golden age. Shortly before this date the Umayyad Hakim
II. had been working to encourage Muslim scholarship in the west, and
had sent his agents to purchase books in Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad,
and Alexandria. In the reactionary age of Mahmud of Ghazna (388-421)
Muslim b. Muhammad al-Andalusi had been instrumental in introducing
the teachings of the “Brethren of Purity” to the Muslims of Spain. We
cannot say that the Jews anticipated the Muslims of Spain in their
study of philosophy, but it is clear that the Jews were associated with
the first dawn of the new learning in Spain, and thus as the sun was
setting in the East a new day was beginning to break in the West.

The first leader of Spanish philosophy was the Jew _Abu Ayyub Sulayman
b. Yahya b. Jabirul_ (d. 450 A.H. = 1058 A.D.), commonly known as Ibn
Gabirol (Jabirul), and hence “Avencebrol” in the Latin scholastic
writers. He is chiefly known as the author of _Maqor Chayim_, “The
Fountain of Life,” a title based on the words of Psalm 36, 10, which
was one of the works translated into Latin at the college of Toledo
and so well known to the scholastic writers as the _Fons Vitae_ (ed.
Baumer: _Avencebrolis Fons Vitae_, Münster, 1895). It was this work
which really introduced neo-Platonism to the West. Ibn Jabirul teaches
that God alone is pure reality, and He is the only actual substance;
He has no attributes, but in Him are will and wisdom, not as possessed
attributes but as aspects of His nature. The world is produced by
the impress of form upon pre-existing universal matter. “Separate
substances” in the sense of ideas abstracted from the things in which
they exist (cf. Aristot. _de anima_. iii. 7, 8, “and so the mind when
it thinks of mathematical forms thinks of them as separated, though
they are not separated”) do not exist apart in reality; the abstracting
is only a mental process, so the general idea exists only as a concept,
not as a reality. But between the purely spiritual being of God and
the crudely material observed in the bodies existing in this world are
intermediate forms of existence, such as angels, souls, etc., wherein
the form is not impressed upon matter.

Besides this “Fountain of Life” Ibn Gabirol was the author of two
ethical treatises, the _Tikkun Midwoth han-Nefesh_, “the correction of
the manners of the soul,” in which man is treated as a microcosm after
the kabbalistic fashion; and _Mibchar hap-Peninim_, a collection of
ethical maxims collected from the Greek and Arabic philosophers. The
former has been published at Luneville in 1804, the latter at Hamburg
in 1844.

At the beginning of the sixth century A.H., a younger contemporary
of al-Ghazali, we have _Abu Bakr ibn Bajja_ (d. 533 A.H. = 1138
A.D.), the first of the Muslim philosophers of Spain. By this time,
some three-quarters of a century after the death of Ibn Sina,
Arabic philosophy was almost extinct in Asia and was treated as a
dangerous heresy. In Egypt, it is true, there was a greater degree of
toleration, though less than in the golden age of the Fatimids, but
Egypt was regarded with suspicion as the home of heresy and of forms
of superstition which were uncongenial to the philosopher. Spain thus
becomes the place of refuge for Muslim philosophy as it had already
become the nursery of Jewish speculation. Ibn Bajja, known to the
Latin schoolmen as “Avempace,” found in Murabit Spain the freedom
and toleration which Asia no longer afforded. He continues the work
of al-Farabi, not, it will be noted, of Ibn Sina, and develops the
neo-Platonic interpretation of Aristotle on sober and conservative
lines. He wrote commentaries on Aristotle’s Physics, _de generatione
et corruptione_, and the _Meteora_; he produced original works on
mathematics, on “the soul,” and a treatise which he called “The
Hermit’s Guide,” which was used by Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and by the
Jewish writer Moses of Narbonne in the 14th cent. A.D. In this last
work he makes a distinction between “animal activity,” in which action
is due to the prompting of the emotions, passions, etc., and “human
activity,” which is suggested and directed by abstract reason, and from
this distinction draws a rule of life and conduct. He is chiefly cited
by the Latin schoolmen with reference to the doctrine of “separate
substances.” “Avempace held that, by the study of the speculative
sciences, we are able by means of the images which we know from these
ideas to attain to the knowledge of separate substances” (St. Thomas
Aq. _c. Gentiles_, 3, 41). This question as to the possibility of
knowing substances separated, i.e. abstracted, from the concrete bodies
in which they exist in combination--and the “separate substances” were
regarded as spiritual things--was prominent in mediæval scholasticism,
which inherited it from the Arabic philosophers, and from it came the
further question whether the contemplation of such abstract ideas gives
us a better knowledge of realities than observation of the concrete
bodies. Both Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas associate Avempace
especially with this question and with the doctrine of the “acquired
intellect,” to which we have already referred in our notes on Ibn Sina,
and which completes the theory of “separate substances” by supposing
that intelligible forms stream into our souls from an outside Agent
Intellect by way of emanation as substantial forms descend on corporeal
matter. St. Thomas Aquinas shows direct knowledge of Avempace’s
treatment of these subjects, but this is not so evident in Albertus.
Avempace, like all other Arabic philosophers, describes _ittisal_ or
union of the human intellect with the Agent Intellect, of which it is
an emanation, as the supreme beatitude and final end of human life. By
the operation of the Agent Intellect on the latent intellect in man
this is awakened to life, but eternal life consists in the complete
union of the intellect with the Agent Intellect. In Avempace the Sufi
strain is much weaker than in al-Farabi; the means of attaining this
union is not by ecstasy, but by a steady disentangling of the soul
of those material things which hinder its pure intellectual life and
consequent union. This leads us to the teaching of asceticism as the
discipline of the soul for its spiritual progress, and the ascetic
and solitary life is the ideal proposed by Avempace. This ascetic and
contemplative hermit life is not, however, in any sense a religious
life, for in this respect Avempace has advanced far beyond al-Farabi;
he is fully conscious that pure philosophy cannot be reconciled with
the teachings of revelation, a conviction which now marks the definite
separation of the “philosophers” from the orthodox scholastics of
Islam, such as al-Ghazali and his school; he regards the teachings
of revelation as an imperfect presentation of the truths which are
more completely and correctly learned from Aristotle, and only admits
the Qur´an and its religion as a discipline for the multitude whose
intelligence neither desires nor is capable of philosophical reasoning.
Strangely enough he lived in security, protected from the attacks of
hostile theologians, under the protection of the Murabit princes.

Within a few years after the death of Avempace the Murabit dynasty came
to an end. The succeeding dynasty, the Muwahhids, were of Berber origin
like the Murabits, and, like them, had their origin in a religious

The foundation of the Muwahhids is associated with _Ibn Tumart_
(d. 524 A.H. = 1129 A.D.). He was a native of Morocco, and a strange
combination of fanatic and scholastic. He claimed to be a descendant
of `Ali, and posed as the “Mahdi” possessing the supernatural grace
of _isma_ or “security from error,” and thus introduced Shi`ite ideas
into Morocco; and at the same time it was he who introduced to the West
the orthodox scholasticism of al-Ghazali, although at the same time he
professed to be a follower of Ibn Hazm. He travelled in Asia, where,
no doubt, he learned of al-Ghazali and his doctrines. Roughly treated
at Mecca he removed to Egypt, where he rendered himself prominent and
objectionable by his puritanical criticisms on the manners of the
people. Setting out from Alexandria in a ship travelling westwards
he occupied himself with a reformation of the morals of the crew,
compelling them to observe the correct hours of prayer and the other
duties of religion. In 505 he appeared at Mahdiya, where he took up
his abode in a wayside mosque. There he used to sit at the window
watching the passers-by, and, whenever he saw any of them carrying a
jar of wine or a musical instrument, he used to sally out and seize the
offensive article and break it. The common people reverenced him as
a saint, but many of the wealthier citizens resented his activities,
and at length brought a complaint against him before the Emir Yahya.
The Emir heard their complaints and observed Ibn Tumart and took note
of the impression he had made upon the populace. With characteristic
craft the Emir treated the reformer with all possible respect, but
advised, nay rather urged, him to bestow the favour of his presence
upon some other town as soon as convenient to him, and so he removed to
Bijaiya (Bougie in Algeria). Here his ways were extremely unpopular,
and he was driven away. He next settled at Mellala, where he met a boy
named `Abdu l-Mumin al-Kumi (d. 558), a potter’s son, whom he made his
disciple and declared to be his successor. At this time the Murabit
dynasty had fallen from its original puritanism and was distinguished
for the wealth and luxury which had been made possible by the conquest
of Spain, and the splendour and ostentation of the royal family at
Morocco laid it open to criticism. One Friday a faqir entered the
public square where a throne was made ready for the Emir, and, pushing
his way through the guards who stood round, boldly took his seat upon
the throne and refused to leave. It was the Mahdi Ibn Tumart, and,
so great was the superstitious reverence accorded to all faqirs, and
to him above all, that none of the guards standing round ventured to
remove him by force. At length the Emir himself appeared and, finding
who had occupied his official seat, declined to interfere with the
redoubtable faqir’s will, but it was privately made plain to Ibn Tumart
that it would be wise for him to leave the city for a while. The Mahdi
therefore retired to Fez, but soon afterwards returned to Morocco.
One day he met in the streets the Emir’s sister, who had adopted the
shameless foreign custom of riding in public without a veil. The Mahdi
stopped her and poured out a stream of abuse at her for this neglect
of established custom, then, overcome by his indignation, he pulled
her off the beast she was riding. He seems, however, to have felt some
alarm at his own temerity and fled forthwith to Tinamel, where he
openly raised the standard of revolt against a corrupt and unfaithful
dynasty. At first this rebellion did not meet with much success, but,
after the Mahdi’s death, the leadership fell to his pupil, `Abdu
l-Mumin, who took Oran, Tlemsen, Fez, Sale, Ceuta, and in 542 became
master of Morocco, and in due course seized all the empire of the
Murabits. The new dynasty established by `Abdu l-Mumin is known by
the name of the Muwahhids or “Unitarians,” a title which the Spanish
historians render by “Almohades,” and their rule endured until 667 A.H.
(= 1268 A.D.).

Ibn Tumart professed to be a follower of al-Ghazali, and introduced
his system of orthodox scholasticism to the West. In canon law he
followed the reactionary school of Da´ud az-Zahiri and Ibn Hazm, like
the Murabits who preceded him. To the multitude he was the champion of
Berber nationality; he translated the Qur´an into the Berber language,
and caused the call to prayer to be made in Berber instead of Arabic.

Muwahhid rule introduced a period of bigotry and of religious
persecution. It was under the rule of this dynasty that we find the
Jews leaving the country in large numbers and migrating to Africa or to
Provence, and many Christians also fled to join the Castilian forces in
the north. Modern historians tend to condemn the later severities of
Christian rulers towards their Muslim subjects, and often seem to speak
of those subjects as the peaceable and cultured population which had
lived under the Umayyads and the Murabits. But Spain’s last experience
of the Muslims was of the fierce, bigoted, and persecuting Muwahhids,
whose tone was very different. Strangely, however, it was under these
intolerant rulers that Spanish Islam passed through its golden age
of philosophical speculation, and not only so, but the philosophers
were protected and favoured by the Muwahhid court. Quite early in
this period the position seems to have been tacitly arranged that the
philosophers were absolutely free in their work and teaching, provided
that teaching was not spread abroad amongst the populace: it was to be
regarded as a species of esoteric truth reserved for the enlightened.
It seems almost certain that this attitude was deliberately arranged
by the philosophers themselves; it had already been sketched out by
some of the Asiatic writers, and definitely laid down by al-Ash`ari
and al-Ghazali, and the Muwahhids, it must be remembered, professed to
be Ghazalians. But whilst the philosophers enjoyed this exceptional
freedom of speculation, so different from the repressive orthodoxy
of the Turkish dynasties in Asia, and defended the system in their
writings, the rulers officially were enforcing amongst the multitude of
their subjects the severest orthodoxy and the most reactionary system
of jurisprudence, so reactionary that it was never admitted by the
Asiatic sultans.

The first great leader of philosophical thought in Muwahhid Spain
was _Ibn Tufayl_ (d. 581 = 1185), who was wazir and court physician
under the Muwahhid Abu Yaqub (A.H. 558-580). His teaching was in
general conformity with that of Ibn Bajja (Avempace), but the mystic
element is much more strongly marked. He admits ecstasy as a means of
attaining the highest knowledge and of approaching God. But in Ibn
Tufayl’s teaching this knowledge differs very much from that aimed at
by the Sufis: it is mystic philosophy rather than mystic theology. The
beatific vision reveals the Agent Intellect and the chain of causation
reaching down to man and then back again to itself.

In his views as to the need of removing the doctrines of philosophy
from the multitude he shows the same principles as Ibn Bajja, which
are those which came to be recognised as the proper official attitude
under the Muwahhids, and defends them in a romance called _Hayy b.
Yaqzan_, “the Living One son of the Wakeful,” the work by which his
name is best remembered. In this story we have the picture of two
islands, one inhabited by a solitary recluse who spends his time in
contemplation and thereby raises his intellect until he finds that he
is able to apprehend the eternal verities which are in the One Active
intellect. The other island is inhabited by ordinary people who are
occupied in the commonplace incidents of life and follow the practices
of religion in the form known to them. In this way they are content
and happy, but fall far short of the complete and perfect happiness of
the recluse on the other island. In course of time the recluse, who is
perfectly well aware of the neighbouring island and its inhabitants,
begins to feel great pity for them in that they are excluded from the
more perfect felicity which he enjoys, and in an honest desire for
their welfare, goes over to them and preaches the truth as he has found
it. For the most part he is quite unintelligible to them, and the only
result is that he produces confusion, doubt, and controversial strife
amongst those whom he desired to benefit, but who are incapable of the
intellectual life which he has led. In the end he returns to his island
convinced that it is a mistake to interfere with the conventional
religion of the multitude.

_Ibn Rushd_ (A.H. 520-595), known to the West as Averroes, was the
greatest of the Arabic philosophers, and was practically their last.
He was a native of Cordova and the friend and protégé of Ibn Tufayl,
by whom he was introduced to Abu Ya´qub in 548. He was, however, more
outspoken than Ibn Tufayl, and wrote several controversial works
against al-Ghazali and his followers. The family to which he belonged
was one whose members usually became jurists, and Ibn Rushd acted as
Qadi in various Spanish towns; like most of the Arabic philosophers
he studied medicine, and in 578 was appointed court physician to Abu
Ya´qub. By this time he had finished his career as an author. Under
the Muwahhid Abu Yusuf al-Mansur he was censured as a heretic and
banished from Cordova. It must be remembered that the Muwahhids, like
the Murabits, were really Moroccan rulers, to whom Spain was a foreign
province. It was whilst the Emir was in Spain and at Cordova, making
ready for an attack upon the Christians, that Ibn Rushd was disgraced,
and it seems probable that this was mainly a matter of policy, as the
Emir, on the eve of a religious war, was desirous of proving his own
strict orthodoxy by the public disapproval of one who had been rather
too outspoken in his speculative theories. As soon as the Emir returned
to Morocco the order of exile was revoked, and later on Ibn Rushd
appears at the court of Morocco, where he died in 595.

Amongst the Muslims Ibn Rushd has not exercised great influence; it was
the Jews who supplied the bulk of his admirers, and they, scattered in
Provence and Sicily by Muwahhid persecution, seem to have been chiefly
instrumental in introducing him to Latin Christendom.

His chief medical work was known as the _Kulliyat_, “the universal,”
which, under the Latinized name of “colliget,” became popular as a
manual in the mediæval universities where the Arabic system of medicine
was in use. He wrote also on jurisprudence a text-book of the law of
inheritance, which is still extant in MS., and also produced works on
astronomy and grammar. He maintained that the task of philosophy was
one approved and commended by religion, for the Qur´an shows that God
commands men to search for the truth. It is only the prejudice of the
unenlightened which fears freedom of thought, because for those whose
knowledge is imperfect the truths of philosophy seem to be contrary
to religion. On this topic he composed two theological treatises--“On
the Agreement of Religion with Philosophy” and “On the Demonstration
of Religious Dogmas,” both of which have been edited by M. J. Mueller.
The popular beliefs he does not accept, but he regards them as wisely
designed to teach morality and to develop piety amongst the people
at large; the true philosopher allows no word to be uttered against
established religion, which is a thing necessary for the welfare of the
people. Aristotle he regards as the supreme revelation of God to man:
with it religion is in total agreement, but as religion is known to the
multitude it only partially discloses Divine truth and adapts it to the
practical needs of the many; in religion there is a literal meaning,
which is all the uneducated are able to attain, and there is an
“interpretation,” which is the disclosing of deeper truths beneath the
surface which it is not expedient to communicate to the multitude. He
opposes the position of Ibn Bajja, who inclined to solitary meditation
and avoided the discussion of philosophical problems; he admits and
desires such discussion provided it is confined to the educated who are
able to understand its bearing, and not brought before the multitude
who are thereby in danger of having their simple faith undermined. He
agrees with Ibn Bajja, however, as against Ibn Tufayl in disapproval
of ecstasy; such a thing may be, but it is too rare to need serious

There are different classes of men who fall roughly into three groups.
The highest of these are those whose religious belief is based on
demonstration (_burhan_), the result of reasoning from syllogisms which
are _à priori_ certain; these are the men to whom the philosopher makes
his appeal. The lowest stratum contains those whose faith is based on
the authority of a teacher or on presumptions which cannot be argued
out and are not due to the exercise of pure reason; it is mischievous
to put “demonstration” or reason or controversy before people of this
type, for it can only cause them doubt and difficulty. Intermediate
between these two strata are those who have not attained the use of
pure reason--which, with Ibn Rushd, seems to be simply intuition--but
are capable of argument and controversy by means of which their faith
can be defended and proved; “demonstration” proper is not to be laid
before these, but it is right to enter into argument with them and to
assist them to rise above the level of those whose belief is based only
upon authority.

Most of all, Ibn Rushd opposed the teaching of the _mutakallimin_
or orthodox scholastic theologians, whom he regarded as subverting
the pure principles of the Aristotelian philosophy, and of these he
considered the worst to be al-Ghazali, “that renegade of philosophy.”
His leading controversial work is the _Destruction of the Destruction_
(Tahafat at-Tahafat), which he designed as a refutation of al-Ghazali’s
_Destruction of the Philosophers_.

But it was as a commentator on the text of Aristotle that he became
best known to subsequent generations amongst the Jews and the later
Latin scholastics; he was the great and final commentator. Strangely,
however, Ibn Rushd never perceived the importance of reading Aristotle
in the original; he had no knowledge of Greek, and gives no sign of
supposing that a study of the Greek text would at all assist a student
of the philosopher. The method of his commentaries is the time-honoured
form derived from the Syriac commentators: a sentence of the text is
given and the explanatory comments follow.

In main substance Ibn Rushd reproduces the psychology of Aristotle
as interpreted by al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, but with some important
modifications. In man is a passive and an active intellect: the active
intellect is roused to action by the operation of the Agent Intellect,
and thus becomes an acquired intellect; the individual intellects
are many, but the Agent Intellect is but one, though present in
each, just as the sun is one, but there are in action as many suns
as there are bodies which it illuminates. This is the form of the
Aristotelian doctrine as it had been transmitted through Ibn Sina; the
Agent Intellect is one, but it is as by emanation present in each, so
that the quickening power in each one is part of the universal Agent
Intellect. But Ibn Rushd differs from his predecessors in his treatment
of the passive intellect, the _`aql hayyulani_, which is the seat of
latent and potential faculties upon which the Agent operates. In all
the earlier systems this passive intellect was regarded as purely
individual and as operated on by the emanation of the universal Agent,
but Ibn Rushd regarded the passive intellect also as but a portion
of a universal soul and as individual only in so far as temporarily
occupying an individual body. Even the passive powers are part of a
universal force animating the whole of nature. This is the doctrine of
_pampsychism_, which exercised so strong an attraction for many of the
mediæval scholastics, and has its adherents at the present day; thus
James (_Principles of Psychology_, p. 346) says: “I confess that the
moment I become metaphysical and try to define the _more_, I find the
notion of some sort of an _anima mundi_ thinking in all of us to be a
more promising hypothesis, in spite of all its difficulties, than that
of a lot of absolutely individual souls.” Ibn Rushd regards Alexander
of Aphrodisias as mistaken in supposing that the passive intellect is
a mere disposition; it is in us, but belongs to something outside; it
is not engendered, it is incorruptible, and so in a sense resembles
the Agent Intellect. This doctrine is the very opposite to what is
commonly described as materialism, which represents the mind as merely
a form of energy produced by the activity of the neural functions. The
activity of brain and nerves, according to Ibn Rushd, are due to the
presence of an external force; not only, as Aristotle teaches, at least
according to Alexander Aph.’s interpretation, is the highest faculty of
the reason due to the operation of the external one Agent Intellect,
but the passive intellect on which this agent acts is itself part of
a great universal soul, which is the one source of all life and the
reservoir to which the soul returns when the transitory experience of
what we call life is finished.

Ibn Rushd’s views do not receive much attention or criticism
from Muslim scholars, but the Christian scholastics brought two
main arguments against this theory, one psychological, the other
theological. The psychological objection is that it is entirely
subversive of individuality: if the conscious life of each is only
part of the conscious life of a universal soul there can be no real
_ego_ in any one of us; but there is no fact to which consciousness
bears clearer witness than the reality and individuality of the _ego_.
This did not touch the possibility that the individual soul might be
drawn from a universal soul as its source, nor did it disprove that
the individual soul might be reabsorbed again in the universal soul,
but in so far as Ibn Rushd’s view represented the soul as throughout
a part of the universal soul it was argued that this is contrary to
experience, which makes it clear that in this present life the _ego_
is very distinctly individual. The theological argument was that Ibn
Rushd’s view denied the immortality of the soul, and so was contrary to
the Christian faith. This objection deals more specifically with the
reabsorption of the soul of the individual in the universal soul; such
cessation of separate and individual existence, it was argued, meant
that the soul as such no longer existed.

As we have already noted, Aristotle gives a rather narrow range to the
highest faculty of reason, confining its activity to the perception
of abstract ideas; “as to the things spoken of as abstract (the mind)
thinks of them as it would of the being snub-nosed, if by an effort of
thought it thinks of it _qua_ snub-nosed, not separately, but _qua_
hollow, without the flesh in which the hollowness is adherent: so
when it thinks of mathematical forms, it thinks of them as separated,
though they are not separated” (Aristot. _de anima._ iii. 7, 7-8).
Those who followed Alexander Aph. and the neo-Platonists took this
“abstract” in a very narrow sense, and in the Arabic commentators
these abstractions even become non-substantial beings, as it were
disembodied, or rather bodiless, spirits: “in quibusdam libris de
Arabico translatis substantiae separatae, quae nos angelos dicimus,
intelligentiae vocantur” (S. Thos. Aquin. _Quaest. Disp. de anima._
16). Can man know these _substantiae separatae_ by his natural
faculties? Ibn Rushd says he can: if otherwise nature has acted in
vain, for there would be an _intelligibile_ without an _intelligens_ to
understand it; but Aristotle has shewn (_Polit._ 1, 8, 12) that nature
does nothing in vain, so that if there be an _intelligibile_ there
must be an _intelligens_ capable of perceiving it. “The commentator
(i.e. Ibn Rushd) says in 2 Met. comm. i. (in fine) that if abstract
substances cannot be understood by us then nature has acted in vain,
because it made that which is by nature understandable in itself to
be not understood by anyone. But nothing is superfluous or in vain in
nature. Therefore immaterial substances can be understood by us.” (S.
Thos. Aquin. _Summa._ 1, 88.)

As the Agent Intellect enters into communication with relative being
it has to suffer the conditions of relativity, and so is not equally
efficient in all; it acts on sensible images as form acts on matter,
yet the Agent Intellect never becomes corruptible as that on which it

These are in outline the points in the teaching of Ibn Rushd, which
show the most marked differences from that of his predecessors,
and which afterwards provoked most controversy amongst the Latin

Ibn Rushd really ends the illustrious line of Arabic Aristotelians.
A few Aristotelian scholars followed in Spain, but with the decay of
the Muwahhid power these came to an end. Of those later scholars we
may mention Muhyi ad-Din b. `Arabi (d. 638) and `Abdu l-Haqq b. Sab`in
(d. 667). The former of these was primarily a Sufi, and shows a strong
inclination towards pantheism. `Abdu l-Haqq, the last of the Muwahhid
circle, was also a Sufi, but at the same time an accurate student of
Aristotle. In modern Islam there is no Aristotelian scholarship, save
only in logic, where Aristotle has always held his own.



We have already seen that the Jews took a prominent part in bringing
a knowledge of philosophical research from Asia to Spain, and Ibn
Jabirul (Avencebrol) takes his place in the line of transmission by
which Spanish Islam was brought into contact with these studies. This
did not end the participation of the Jews in philosophical work, but
their subsequent writers do not form part of the regular series of
Aristotelian students influencing the Muslim world, but are rather
confined to Jewish circles. Yet they are of an importance wider than
merely sectarian interests, for it was by means of Jewish disciples of
Ibn Rushd that he was raised to a position of much greater importance
than he has ever enjoyed in the Muslim world. Amongst the Jews, indeed,
there arose a strong Averroist school, which later on was the chief
means of introducing Ibn Rushd’s theories to Latin scholasticism. As
we shall see later the transmission of philosophy from Arabic to Latin
surroundings falls into two stages: in the earlier the Arabic material
passes directly, and the works used are those which had attained a
leading importance in Islam, but in the later stage the Jews were the
intermediaries, and thus the choice of text-books and authorities was
largely influenced by an existing Jewish scholasticism.

Ibn Jabirul shows the Aristotelian philosophy introduced to Jewish
surroundings, just as Sa`id al-Fayyumi in Mesopotamia shows the
entrance of Mu`tazilite discussions amongst the Jews. In fact, all the
intellectual experiences of the Muslim community were repeated amongst
the Jews. In Islam the Mu`tazilites and the philosophers were followed
by the scholastics, who took their final form under al-Ghazali, and so
in Judaism also al-Ghazali has his parallel.

The founder of an orthodox Jewish scholasticism was the Spanish Jew,
_Jehuda hal-Levi_ (d. 540 A.H. = 1145 A.D.), who lived during the
Murabit rule and the coming of the Muwahhids. His teaching is known
by a work entitled _Sefer ha-Kuzari_, which consists of five essays,
supposed to be dialogues between the King of the Chazars and a Jewish
visitor to his court. These dialogues discuss various topics of a
philosophical and political character. The study of philosophy is
commended, but it is pointed out that good conduct is not attained
by philosophy, which is occupied with scientific investigations, and
many of these have no direct bearing upon the duties of practical
life; the best means of promoting right conduct is religion, which is
the established tradition of wisdom revealed to men of ancient times.
Even in speculative matters a surer guidance is often furnished by
religious tradition than by the speculations of philosophers. God
created all things from nothing; the attempt to explain the presence
of imperfection and evil in the world by the theory of the eternity of
matter, or by the operation of laws of nature is futile; those laws
themselves must refer back to God. The difficulty arising from the
mingling of evil with good in creation is admitted; the real solution
is unknown, but it must be maintained that creation was the work of God
in spite of the difficulties which this presents.

As to the nature and attributes of God, the distinction which Sa`id
al-Fayyumi tried to make between the essential and other attributes is
untenable. The attributes stated in the Old Testament may be applied
to God because they are revealed, which is exactly the same teaching
as that of al-Ash`ari and al-Ghazali. These attributes are either
referring to active qualities, or to relative, or to negative. Those
which are active and those which are relative are used metaphorically;
we do not know their real significance.

The fifth essay is more especially directed against the philosophers
as teaching doctrines subversive of revelation. In the first place
he disapproves the theory of emanations; the work of creation was
directly performed by God without any intermediary; if there were
emanations, why did they stop short at the lunar sphere? This refers to
the descriptions given by the Arabic writers who endeavour to explain
the successive emanations from the First Cause as reaching down to
different spheres. He opposes also the attempt of the Mutakallimin to
reconcile philosophy and theology as tending to undermine the truths of
revealed religion, so that he takes a more reactionary position than
al-Ghazali. This was inevitable, for Jewish thought had as yet been
much less influenced by philosophy than was the case with the Muslims.
He objects also to the description of the soul as intellect, more it
would appear because common usage confined “intellectual activity” too
much to philosophical speculation, and especially he protested against
the implication that only souls of philosophers were finally united
to the Agent Intellect. The soul of man is a spiritual substance and
imperishable; it does not win immortality by intellectual activity but
is necessarily immortal by its own nature. He admits, however, that
the passive soul in man is influenced by the Agent Intellect, which he
seems to regard as the wisdom of God personified. Generally, therefore,
Hal-Levi defined Jewish orthodoxy as against the teachings of the
philosophers: he recognises the force of philosophical speculation,
but is himself distinctly conservative. God was literally the creator,
and no philosophical definition of creation which tended to explain it
otherwise than according to traditional belief was permissible. But
Hal-Levi does not seem to have had any great influence outside Judaism,
and his work rather tends to show how far Jewish thought of the 6th
cent. of the Hijra was out of sympathy with current philosophical
speculation, though no longer ignorant of it.

It was in Spain that the Jews especially distinguished themselves as
physicians, reproducing and extending the investigations of the Arabic
authorities, who were pupils of the Nestorians and Jews in the first
place. The most distinguished of these Spanish Jews who became leaders
in medical science was _Ibn Zuhr_ (d. 595 A.H. = 1199 A.D.), commonly
known to the mediæval West as “Avenzoar.” He was a native of Seville
and member of a family of physicians. Jewish philosophy does not take
a leading place until the appearance of _Abu Imran Moses b. Maymun b.
`Abdullah_ (d. 601 A.H. = 1204 A.D.), a contemporary and follower of
Ibn Rushd and the one who did most to establish an Averroist school,
and so passed on his work and influence to Latin Christendom. He was
the son of a pupil of Hal-Levi, and, it is said, a pupil of one of Ibn
Bajja’s pupils. His family retired to Africa to avoid the persecution
of the Muwahhids and settled for a time in Fez, then removed to Egypt.
It was whilst he was at Cairo that Ibn Maymun, or Maimonides as he is
more commonly called by European writers, first heard of Ibn Rushd.

His chief work is known as _Dalalat al-Ha´irin_, “the Guide of the
Perplexed,” which, like all his other books, was produced in Arabic;
about the time of his death this work was translated into Hebrew by
Samuel b. Tibbon as _Moreh Nebukin_. The Arabic text, edited by Munk,
was published at Paris (3 vols.) in 1856-66, and in 1884 an English
translation by Friedländer was published in London. Next to this in
importance is the treatise _Maqalah fi-t-Tawhid_, a treatise on the
unity of God, of which a Hebrew translation was made in the 14th cent.
A.D. His other works were mainly medical, and include treatises “on
poisons and their antidotes,” “on hæmorrhoids,” “on asthma,” and a
commentary on Hippocrates.

Maimonides’ teaching reproduces the substance of that already
associated with al-Farabi and Ibn Sina put into a Jewish form. God
is the Intellect, the _ens intelligens_, and the _intelligibile_:
He is the necessary First Cause and the permanent source. He is
essentially and necessarily one, and attributes cannot be so used as
to imply plurality: only those attributes which describe activity
are admissible, not those which imply relations between God and the
creature. Like Ibn Rushd he disapproves of the Mutakallimin, whom he
regards as mere opportunists in their philosophy and without any staple
principles, besides which their method of compromise does not face
fairly the law of causality. The Aristotelian doctrine of the eternity
of matter cannot, however, be admitted; creation must have been from
nothing, as follows from the law of causality; that such was the case
cannot be proved, but every contrary supposition is untenable. All the
properties of matter, the laws of nature, etc., had their beginning at
creation. On the first day God created the beginnings (_reshit_), that
is to say the intelligences, from which proceeded the several spheres,
and introduced movement, so that on this day the whole universe and all
its contents came into existence. On the succeeding days these contents
were disposed in order and developed; then on the seventh day God
rested, which means that He ceased from active operation and laid the
universe under the control of natural laws, which guided it henceforth.

The teaching of Maimonides shows a somewhat modified form of the system
already developed by al-Farabi and Ibn Sina adapted to Jewish beliefs.
It had a rapid and wide success, spreading through the greater part
of the Jewish community in his own lifetime. But this success was not
without some opposition--the synagogues of Aragon, Catalonga, and of
Provence, where a very large number of Jews had sought refuge from the
Muwahhids; the synagogue at Narbonne, on the other hand, defended him.
It was not until the following century, and chiefly by the efforts of
David Kimchi, that Maimonides was at length generally accepted as the
leading doctor of the Jewish church.

Although Maimonides was known to the Latin scholastics, it was not his
work nor that of any other Jewish teacher which really made the Jews
important to mediæval western thought so much as the work they did in
popularising Ibn Rushd, whom they called “the soul and intelligence
of Aristotle.” Jewish MSS. of Aristotle are rarely found without Ibn
Rushd’s commentary, and his paraphrases very commonly bear the name of
Aristotle at their head. It was as the commentator that he held so high
a position in Jewish thought, and it was as the final and authoritative
commentator that he finally took his place in Latin scholasticism
introduced by Jewish teachers.

The Muwahhid persecution scattered many of the Spanish Jews to
Africa and to Provence and Languedoc. Those who took refuge in Africa,
like Maimonides, retained the use of the Arabic language, but Arabic
quickly became obsolete amongst those who had fled north. No doubt the
refugees in Provence found it necessary to use the Provencal dialect
for communication with their Christian neighbours, but that dialect
had never yet been used for scientific or philosophical purposes; in
Western Christendom Latin was invariably used for all educational
and scholarly purposes, but the refugee Jews did not feel disposed
to adopt a language which had no traditional associations for them
and was altogether a foreign tongue never as yet employed for Jewish
purposes. Under these circumstances the Jewish leaders deliberately
copied the actual condition prevailing amongst their Jewish neighbours
where the ancient Latin was in use as a learned language, whilst its
derived dialects were the speech in everyday use, and so they revived
the use of Hebrew as the medium of teaching and literature. Throughout
Hebrew had retained its place as a liturgical language; there had been
synagogue liturgies in Greek, but those belonged to a much earlier
period. The revival of Hebrew produced a neo-Hebrew which does not
preserve a line of historical continuity with the ancient Hebrew.
For some time Hebrew had been a dead language in the East, and it
had never spread as a living speech to the West. But this artificial
revival, which has more than one parallel in history, was not so
difficult a feat as it sounds at first. The vernacular speech of the
Spanish Jew was Arabic, and philologically Arabic is very nearly a
dialect if not of Arabic, yet at least of a proto-Arabic, which shows
many close parallels with Hebrew. Of course at that time the true
philological relations were not understood: influenced by theological
prepossessions the Jew rather tended to regard Arabic as a derivative
of Hebrew; yet the kinship was obvious, and in the early translations
made from Arabic to Hebrew it is not uncommon to find that most of the
words are translated in such a way that the same root-form is used
as in the original. Secondly, it was not only the case that Hebrew
“came easily” to those who knew Arabic, but there had been serious
philological studies by Jehudh Chayyug, David Kimchi, and others which
had emphasized this close kinship, and had indeed adapted all the rules
of Arabic grammar to the use of Hebrew; it was therefore possible to
compose and even to speak a tolerable Hebrew by the conscious rendering
of the Arabic vocabulary into Hebrew. It is not suggested that the
inaugurators of neo-Hebrew ignored the characteristics of the classical
speech; in fact they did not do so, but they were in a position to use
Hebrew as though a dialect differing from Arabic only in detail, and
in this attitude they were more strictly correct than they supposed.
Before long Arabic began to be entirely discarded, and Hebrew, whose
revival flattered Jewish susceptibilities, was taken up with vigour as
a language of the schools; how far it came into use in the home we do
not know.

This change necessitated the translation of the later theological
and philosophical writers from Arabic into Hebrew. Tradition puts the
beginning of this work of translation in the 12th century, but this is
not possibly true. It was not until well into the 13th century that
Hebrew translations begin to appear. The most famous translators were
of the family of Jehuda ben Tibbon, who cannot himself be accepted as a
translator. The first work was done by Samuel ben Tibbon, who compiled
a Hebrew “Opinions of the Philosophers,” which is a catena of passages
from Ibn Rushd and other Muslim _falasifah_. This production was in
general use as a popular manual until it was replaced by complete
translations of the actual texts, when, of course, such compilations
went out of use. The principal part of the work was done by Moses ben
Tibbon (circ. 1260 A.D.), who translated most of the commentaries of
Ibn Rushd, some portions of his medical works, and Maimonides’ “Guide
of the Perplexed.” About this time Frederick II. was strongly desirous
of introducing the Arabic writers to the knowledge of the West, a
matter to which we shall refer again when we come to consider the
translation of the Arabic philosophical works into Latin, and so we
find him protecting and pensioning Yaqub ben Abba Mari, a son-in-law
of Samuel ben Tibbon, at Naples, and this Yaqub employed in preparing
a Hebrew translation of Ibn Rushd’s commentaries on the Aristotelian

The thirteenth century A.D. shows us a continuous series of Hebrew
scholars either preparing compilations and abridgments or actually
translating the full text of the leading Arabic philosophers, and
especially of Ibn Rushd. About 1247 Jehuda ben Salomo Cohen, of
Toledo, published his Hebrew “Search for Wisdom,” an encyclopædia of
Aristotelian doctrines mainly based upon the teachings of Ibn Rushd.
A little later Shem-Tov b. Yusuf b. Falaquera also reproduced the
doctrines of Ibn Rushd in his essays, and later again in the 13th
century Gerson b. Salomo compiled “The Door of Heaven,” which shows the
same influence.

About 1257 Solomon b. Yusuf b. Aiyub, a refugee who had come from
Granada to Bèziers, translated the text of Ibn Rushd’s commentary
on the _de coelo_ and _de mundo_, and in the latter part of this
century complete translations begin to take the place of abridgments
and collections of extracts. About 1284 Zerachia ben Isaac from
Barcelona translated Ibn Rushd’s commentaries on the _Physics_, the
_Metaphysics_, and the treatises _de coelo_ and _de mundo_. Rènan has
drawn attention to the fact that the same works are translated again
and again, sometimes by translators who were very nearly contemporary
and lived in the same neighbourhood. Evidently these translations did
not quickly enter into wide circulation, and it does not seem that the
task of the translator was held in any great esteem; it was regarded
as a purely mechanical work, and not credited with any literary

Early in the 14th century Kalonymos b. Kalonymos b. Meir translated
Ibn Rushd’s commentaries on the _Topica_, _Sophistica_, and _Analytica
Posteriora_ (completed 1314); then his commentaries on the _Physica_,
_Metaphysics_, _de coelo_ and _de mundo_, _de generatione_ and _de
corruptione_, and the _Meteora_ (completed 1317), and followed these by
a translation of the _Destruction of the Destruction_. An independent
Hebrew translation of this latter work was made about the same time
by Kalonymos b. David b. Todros. About 1321 Rabbi Samuel ben Jehuda
ben Meshullam at Marseilles prepared Hebrew versions of Ibn Rushd’s
commentaries on the Nicomachæan Ethics and his paraphrase of the
Republic of Plato, which was regarded by the Arabic writers as part of
the Aristotelian canon. It is rather interesting to note that somewhere
about the same time Juda ben Moses ben Daniel of Rome prepared a
Hebrew translation of _de substantia orbis_ from the Latin translation
which was itself derived from the Arabic. To a great extent the Hebrew
and Latin translations were being made contemporaneously but quite
independently; it was not until well into the 14th century that they
begin to influence one another. It was during this later stage that so
many of the Arabic philosophical works were translated into Latin via
Hebrew, and this gave a marked preponderance to Ibn Rushd, the result
of the Jewish vogue of his writings; the earlier translations into
Latin from the Arabic rather tend to lay weight on Ibn Sina.

In the course of the 14th century A.D. the Hebrew commentators on Ibn
Rushd begin. Chief amongst these was Lavi ben Gerson, of Bagnols, who
wrote a commentary on Ibn Rushd’s _Ittisal_ on the doctrine of the
union of the soul with the Agent Intelligence, and on Ibn Rushd’s
treatise “on the substance of the world.” Levi’s teaching reproduces
the Arabic Aristotelianism much more freely and frankly than was
ventured by Maimonides; he admits the eternity of the world, the primal
matter he describes as substance without form, and creation meant only
the impress of form on this formless substance.

Contemporary with Levi was Moses of Narbonne, who, between 1340 and
1350, produced commentaries on the same works of Ibn Rushd as had
already been treated by Levi, as well as other of the treatises on
physical science.

The fourteenth century was the golden age of Jewish scholasticism and
the following century sees it in its decay. Ibn Rushd was still studied
and commentaries were still compiled. About 1455 Joseph ben Shem-Tob of
Segovia produced a commentary on Aristotle’s _Ethics_ which he intended
to supplement Ibn Rushd, who had not written a commentary on this
portion of Aristotle. Elias del Medigo, who taught at Padua towards the
end of the 15th century, is regarded by Rènan as the last great Jewish
Averroist. He wrote a commentary on the _de substantia orbis_ in 1485,
and also published annotations on Averroes.

The 16th century shows the final decay of Jewish Averroism. In 1560 an
abridgment of the logic of Averroes was published at Riva di Trento,
and this has remained a standard work amongst Jews, but outside logic
Averroes was beginning to fall into disrepute. Rabbi Moses Almosnino
(circ. 1538) uses al-Ghazali’s work against the philosophers to oppose
Ibn Rushd, and evidences occur of an interest in Plato by those who
despised Aristotle as a relic of the dark ages. The later Jewish
philosophers such as Spinoza are not in touch with the mediæval
tradition, whose continuity is severed towards the end of the 16th
century; later work shows the influence of post-renascence non-Jewish



We have now followed the way in which Hellenistic philosophy was
passed from the Greeks to the Syrians, from the Syrians to the
Arabic-speaking Muslims, and was by the Muslims carried from Asia to
the far West. We have now to consider the way in which it was handed on
from these Arabic-speaking people to the Latins. The first contact of
the Latins with the philosophy of the Muslims was in Spain, as might
be expected. At that time, that is to say during the Middle Ages, we
can rightly describe the Western parts of Europe as “Latin,” since
Latin was used not only in the services of the church but as a means
of teaching and as a means of intercourse between the educated; it
does not imply that the vernacular speech in all the western lands
was of Latin origin, and of course makes no suggestion of a “Latin
race”; it refers only to a cultural group, and we are employing the
term “Latin” only to denote those who shared a civilization which may
fairly be described as of Latin origin. In Spain this Latin culture was
in contact with the Arabic culture of the Muslims. The transmission of
Arabic material to Latin is especially associated with Raymund, who
was Archbishop of Toledo from 1130 to 1150 A.D. Toledo had become part
of the kingdom of Castile in 1085, during the disordered period just
before the Murabit invasion. It had been captured by Alfonso VI., and
he had made it the capital city of his kingdom, and the Archbishop
of Toledo became the Primate of Spain. When the town was taken it
was agreed that the citizens should have freedom to follow their own
religion, but the year after its capture the Christians forcibly seized
the great church, which had been converted into a congregational mosque
about 370 years before, and restored it to Christian use. For the most
part, however, the Muslims lived side by side with the Christians
in Toledo, and their presence in the same city as the king, the
royal court, and the Primate made a considerable impression on their
neighbours, who began to take some interest in the intellectual life
of Islam during the following years. The Archbishop Raymund desired to
make the Arabic philosophy available for Christian use. At the moment,
it will be remembered, the Muwahhids were established in Spain, and
their bigotry caused a number of the Jews and Christians to take refuge
in the surrounding countries.

Raymund founded a college of translators at Toledo, which he put
in the charge of the archdeacon Dominic Gondisalvi, and entrusted it
with the duty of preparing Latin translations of the most important
Arabic works on philosophy and science, and thus many translations
of the Arabic versions of Aristotle and of the commentaries as well
as of the abridgments of al-Farabi and Ibn Sina were produced. The
method employed in this college and the method commonly followed
in the Middle Ages was to use the services of an interpreter, who
simply placed the Latin word over the Arabic words of the original,
and finally the Latinity was revised by the presiding clerk, the
finished translation usually bearing the name of the revisor. It was
an extremely mechanical method; and the interpreter was treated as of
minor importance. It seems that the preparation of a translation was
done to order in very much the same way as the copying of a text, and
was not regarded as more intellectual than the work of transcription.
The revisor did no more than see that the sentences were grammatical
in form: the structure and syntax was still Arabic, and was often
extremely difficult for the Latin reader to understand, the more so
as the more troublesome words were simply transliterated from the
Arabic. The interpreters employed in this college certainly included
some Jews; it is known that one of them bore the name of John of
Seville. We have very little information as to the circulation of the
translations made at Toledo, but it is certain that about thirty years
afterwards the whole text of Aristotle’s logical Organon was in use
in Paris, and this was not possible so long as the Latin translations
were limited to those which had been transmitted by Boethius, John
Scotus, and the fragments of Plato derived through St. Augustine.
But this material already in the possession of the West was the
foundation of scholasticism, and was developed as far as it would go.
Boethius transmitted a Latin version of Porphyry’s _Isagoge_ and of
the _Categories_ and _Hermeneutics_ of Aristotle, whilst John Scotus
translated the Pseudo-Dionysius. The further development of Latin
scholasticism came in three stages: first, the introduction of the rest
of the text of Aristotle, as well as the scientific works of the whole
logical canon, by translation from the Arabic; then came translations
from the Greek following the capture of Constantinople in 1204; and
thirdly, the introduction of the Arabic commentators.

The first Latin scholastic writer who shows a knowledge of the complete
logical Organon was John of Salisbury (d. 1182 A.D.), who was a
lecturer at Paris, but it does not appear that the metaphysical and
psychological works of Aristotle were in circulation as yet.

By this time Paris had become the centre of scholastic philosophy,
which was now beginning to predominate theology. This takes its form,
as yet untouched by Arabic methods, in the work of Peter Lombard (d.
1160 A.D.), whose “Sentences,” an encyclopædia of the controversies of
the time but a mere compilation, remained a popular book down to the
17th century. The methods and form used in the “Sentences” shows the
influence of Abelard, and still more of the Decretals of Gratian. It
is interesting to note that Peter Lombard possessed and used a newly
finished translation of St. John Damascene.

Early in the 13th century we find various controversies at Paris on
subjects very like those debated by the Arabic philosophers, but in
reality derived from quite independent sources. Nothing would seem more
suggestive of Arabic influence than discussion of the essential unity
of souls, which seems as though it were an echo of Ibn Rushd; but this
doctrine had been developed independently from neo-Platonic material
in the Celtic church, and, in its main features not at all unlike
the teaching of Ibn Rushd, was fairly common in Ireland (cf. Rènan:
_Averroes_, 132-133). So we find Ratramnus of Corbey in the 9th century
writing against one Macarius in refutation of similar views. Here
Arabic influence is out of the question; at the time, indeed, Ibn Rushd
was not yet born. So of Simon of Tournay, who was a teacher of theology
at Paris about 1200 A.D., we read that “whilst he follows Aristotle
too closely, he is by some recent writers accused of heresy” (Henry
of Gand: _Lib. de script. eccles. c._ 24 in Fabrisius _Bibliotheca_,
2, p. 121), but this simply means that he carried to an extreme the
application of the dialectical method to theology.

More interest attaches to the decrees passed at a synod held at
Paris in 1209 and endorsed by the decisions of the Papal Legate in
1215. These measures were provoked by the pantheistic teaching of
David of Dinant and Amalric of Bena, who revived the semipantheistic
doctrines of John Scotus’ _Periphysis_, and the prohibitions dealing
with them cite passages from Scotus verbatim. The _Periphysis_ itself
was condemned by Honorius III. in 1225. But the decrees of 1209 also
forbade the use of Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy and the “commenta,”
whilst the Legate’s orders of 1215 allowed the logical works of the
old and new translations where perhaps the “new translations” refers
to the “new” translations made from the Arabic as contrasted with
the “old” versions of Boethius, though it is just possible that some
version direct from the Greek was in circulation and known as the “new
translations,” and also forbade the reading of the Metaphysics, Natural
Philosophy, etc., all material which had become accessible through the

In 1215 Frederick II. became Emperor, and in 1231 he began to
reorganize the kingdom of Sicily. Both in Sicily and in the course of
his crusading expeditions in the East Frederick had been brought into
close contact with the Muslims and was greatly attracted to them. He
adopted oriental costume and many Arabic customs and manners, but, most
important of all, he was a great admirer of the Arabic philosophers,
whose works he was able to read in the original, as he was familiar
with German, French, Italian, Latin, Greek, and Arabic. Contemporary
historians represent him as a free-thinker, who regarded all religions
as equally worthless, and attributed to him the statement that the
world had suffered from three great imposters, Moses, Christ, and
Muhammad. This opinion of Frederick is expressed in passionate words by
Gregory IX. in the encyclical letter “ad omnes principes et prelatos
terrae” (in Mansi. xxiii. 79), where he compares the Emperor to the
blaspheming beast of Apocalypse xiii., but Frederick in reply likened
the Pope to the beast described in Apoc. vi., “the great dragon
which reduced the whole world,” and professed a perfectly orthodox
attitude towards Moses, Christ, and Muhammad. It is quite probable,
as Rènan (_Averroes_, p. 293) supposes, that the views ascribed to
Frederick really are based on a professed sympathy towards the Arabic
philosophers, who regarded all religions as equally tolerable for
the uninstructed multitude, and commonly illustrated their remarks
by citing the “three laws” which were best known to them. In 1224
Frederick founded a university at Naples, and made it an academy for
the purpose of introducing Arabic science to the western world, and
there various translations were made from Arabic into Latin and into
Hebrew. By his encouragement Michael Scot visited Toledo about 1217
and translated Ibn Rushd’s commentaries on Aristotle’s _de coelo et
de mundo_, as well as the first part of the _de anima_. It seems
probable also that he was the translator of commentaries on the
_Meteora_, _Parva Naturalia_, _de substantia orbis_, _Physics_, and
_de generatione et de corruptione_. Ibn Sina’s commentaries were in
general circulation before this, so that they were very probably the
“commentaries” referred to in the Paris decree of 1209, but we do not
know who was responsible for their rendering into Latin, save that they
almost certainly proceeded from the college at Toledo. The introduction
of Ibn Rushd, not of great repute amongst the Muslims, bears evidence
to the weight of Jewish influence in Sicily and in the new academy at
Naples. We know that Michael Scot was assisted by a Jew named Andrew.

Another translator of this period was a German Hermann who was
in Toledo about 1256, after Frederick’s death. He translated the
abridgment of the Rhetoric made by al-Farabi, Ibn Rushd’s abridgment
of the Poetics, and other less known works of Aristotle. Hermann’s
translations were described by Roger Bacon as barbarous and hardly
intelligible; he transliterated the names so as to show even the tanwin
in Ibn Rosd_in_, abi Nasr_in_, etc.

By the middle of the 13th century nearly all the philosophical works
of Ibn Rushd were translated into Latin, except the commentary on
the Organon, which came a little later, and the _Destruction of the
Destruction_, which was not rendered into Latin until the Jew Kalonymos
did so in 1328. Some of his medical works also were translated in
the 13th century, namely, the _Colliget_, as it was called, and the
treatise _de formatione_; others were translated from the Hebrew into
Latin early in the following century.

The first evidence of the general circulation of ideas taken from
Averroes (Ibn Rushd) is associated with William of Auvergne, who was
Bishop of Paris, and these show a considerable amount of inaccuracy in
detail. In 1240 William published censures against certain opinions,
which he states to be derived from the Arabic philosophers; amongst
these he expresses his disapproval of the doctrine of the First
Intelligence, an emanation from God, as being the agent of creation,
a doctrine common to all the philosophers, but which he attributes
specifically to al-Ghazali; he objects also to the teaching that the
world is eternal, which he attributes correctly to Aristotle and Ibn
Sina, but mentions Averroes as an orthodox defender of the truth; he
further condemns the doctrine of the unity of intellects, which most
incorrectly he attributes to Aristotle, and also refers to al-Farabi
as maintaining this heresy; throughout he cites Averroes as a sounder
teacher who tends to correct these ideas, but his description of the
doctrine of the unity of intellects reproduces the features which are
distinctive of Averroes. The arguments he uses against this latter
doctrine are, on the whole, very much the same as those employed
a little later by Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas, viz., that the
doctrine undermines the reality of the individual personality, and is
inconsistent with the observed facts of diversity of intelligence in
different persons. He cites Abubacer (Ibn Bajja) as a commentator on
Aristotle’s _Physics_, but in fact this was a book on which Ibn Bajja
did not write a commentary, and the substance of the citation agrees
with the teaching of Averroes. At that time evidently the position was
that Aristotle and the Arabic commentators generally were regarded
with suspicion save in the treatment of logic, the one exception being
Averroes, who was considered to be perfectly orthodox. So strange a
perversion of the facts could only be due to Jewish influence, for the
Jews at that time were devoted adherents of Averroes.

When the friars began to take their place in the work of the
universities we note two striking changes: (i.) the friars cut loose
entirely from the timid policy of conservatism and begin to make free
use of all the works of Aristotle and of the Arabic commentators, and
also make efforts to procure newer and more correct translations of the
Aristotelian text from the original Greek; under this leadership the
universities gradually became more modern and enterprising in their
scientific work, though not without evidence of strong opposition
in certain quarters. (ii.) As a natural corollary a more correct
appreciation was made of the tendencies of the several commentators.

The leader in these newer studies was the Franciscan Alexander Hales
(d. 1245), who was the first to make free use of Aristotle outside the
logical Organon. His _Summa_, which was left unfinished and continued
by the Franciscan William of Melitona, was based on the _Sentences_
of Peter Lombard, and serves as a commentary to it. Peter Lombard,
however, had not quoted Aristotle at all, whilst Alexander uses the
metaphysical and scientific works as well as the logic. From this time
forth the Franciscans begin to use the Arabic commentators.

The more accurate study of Aristotle in mediæval scholasticism begins
with Albertus Magnus (1206-1280), the Dominican friar who first really
perceived the importance of careful and critical versions of the
text, and thus introduced a strictly scientific standard of method.
He studied at Padua, a daughter university of Bologna, but became a
Dominican in 1223. His methods were followed and developed by his
pupil, St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), who arranged his work on the lines
already indicated in Albertus’ commentary on Aristotle’s _Politics_,
lines which became the regulation method in Latin scholastic writers,
and he was at pains to get new translations made directly from the
Greek, which was now freely accessible; a new translation direct from
the Greek was made by William de Moerbeka at the request of St. Thomas.
But there is a significant change from the time when Albertus delivered
his lectures: in the work of Albertus the commentator chiefly used was
Ibn Sina, but in that of St. Thomas there is a free use of Averroes
(Ibn Rushd), although St. Thomas shows that he is perfectly well aware
of the peculiar doctrines held by this latter philosopher, and guards
himself carefully from them.

St. Thomas frequently enters into controversy with the Arabic
commentators, and especially attacks the doctrines (i.) that there
was a primal indefinite matter to which form was given at creation
(cf. Summa. lae quaes. 66, art. 2); (ii.) that there were successive
series of emanations, a doctrine which had now assumed an astrological
character; (iii.) that the Agent Intellect was the intermediary in
creation (cf. Summa. 1, 45, 5; 47, 1; 90, 1); (iv.) that creation _ex
nihilo_ is impossible; (v.) that there is not a special providence
ruling and directing the world; and (vi.) most of all, the doctrine of
the unity of intellects, a doctrine which, as he shows, is not to be
found in Aristotle, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Avicenna, or Ghazali, but
is a speculative theory of Averroes alone, at least in the form then
becoming popular as pampsychism. All these objections were essentially
the same as had been already brought forward by the orthodox
scholastics of Islam, and undoubtedly al-Ghazali is used in refuting
them. According to St. Thomas, the doctrine of pampsychism is entirely
subversive of human personality and of the separate individuality of
the _ego_, to which our own consciousness bears witness. God creates
the soul for each child as it is born; it is no emanation, but has
a separate and distinct personality. As a corollary he denies the
_ittisal_ or final “union,” which involves the reabsorption of the soul
in its source.

It is worth noting that St. Thomas received his education before
joining the Dominican order in the university of Naples, which had
been founded by Frederick II. and was a centre of interest in the
Arabic philosophers, and this probably goes far to account for his more
accurate appreciation of their teaching. Unquestionably St. Thomas
Aquinas must be regarded as the prince of the Latin scholastics, for
it is he who first draws freely upon metaphysics and psychology and
co-ordinates them with theology--the psychological analysis given in
the _Secunda secundae_ of the Summa is one of the best products of the
Latin scholastics--and also he was the first to appreciate correctly
the difficulties of translation and insist on an accurate rendering
as essential to an understanding of Aristotle. For the most part, as
we have noted, the mediæval scholars undervalued the translator’s
task and were content with a hack interpreter, and saw no reason for
applying themselves to the study of the original text, a view in which
the Arabic philosophers shared. Incidentally St. Thomas was the first
who makes free use of all the Arabic commentators and shows that he
is fully aware of their defects. Undoubtedly he regarded Averroes as
the best exponent of the Aristotelian text, and the supreme master in
logic, but heretical in his metaphysics and psychology.

About 1256 Averroes’ teaching about the unity of intelligences was
sufficiently widespread at Paris to induce Albertus to write his
treatise “On the unity of the intellect against the Averroists,” a
treatise which he afterwards inserted in his Summa. In 1269 certain
propositions from Averroes were formally condemned. At this time his
works were well known, and there was a distinct party at Paris which
had adopted his views and which we may describe as a semi-Judaistic
party. This time both Albertus and St. Thomas published treatises
against the doctrine of the unity of intelligences.

Again in 1277 various Averroist theses were condemned at Paris, for the
most part emanating from the Franciscans, who, as Bacon notes (opus
Tert. 23), were strongly inclined towards Averroes both at Paris and in
England, a condition which prevailed until the great Franciscan doctor
Duns Scotus (d. 1308) took a definitely anti-Averroist line. Still,
even in the 14th century, when Averroism was practically dead at Paris,
it still retained its hold amongst the Franciscans in the English

The Dominicans were less favourably disposed towards the Arabic
writers, at least after the time of Albertus, and show a much more
careful estimate of their work. This was no doubt due to the fact that
they had a house of Arabic studies in Spain, and were actually engaged
in controversy with the Muslims. As a rule a careful distinction is
drawn between Averroes the commentator, who is treated with great
respect as an exponent of the text of Aristotle, and Averroes the
philosopher, who is regarded as heretical. It seems as though there
was a deliberate policy to secure Aristotle by sacrificing the Arabic
commentators. Very characteristic of the work of the Dominicans was
the _Pugio Fidei adversum Mauros et Judaeos_ of Raymund Martini,
who lived in Aragon and Provence; he was familiar with Hebrew, and
freely uses the Hebrew translations of the Arabic philosophers. His
arguments are largely borrowed from al-Ghazali’s _Destruction of the
Philosophers_. It is curious to note that, in his anxiety to defend
Aristotle, he accuses Averroes of borrowing the doctrine of the unity
of intelligences from Plato, and in a sense there was an element of
truth in this, for the Averroist doctrine was ultimately derived from
neo-Platonic sources. Raymund also cites the medical teaching of
Averroes at a date earlier than any Latin version, and here again shows
familiarity with the Hebrew translations.

John Baconthorp (d. 1346), the provincial of the English Carmelites
and “doctor” of the Carmelite order, tends to palliate the heretical
tendencies of Averroes’ teaching, and was called by his contemporaries
“the prince of Averroists,” a title which was apparently regarded as a

Amongst the Augustinian friars Giles of Rome in his _de Erroribus
Philosophorum_ was an opponent of the teaching of Averroes, especially
attacking the doctrine of the unity of souls and the union or
_ittisal_, but Paul of Venice (d. 1429), of the same order, shows a
tendency favourable to Averroism in his _Summa_.

The 13th century had generally used Ibn Sina (Avicenna) as a
commentator on Aristotle, but in the 14th century the general tendency
was to prefer Averroes, who was regarded as the leading exponent of the
Aristotelian text even by those who disapproved his teaching.

The University of Montpelier as a centre of medical studies might be
expected to use the Arabic authorities, but this university, though
traditionally founded by Arabic physicians driven out of Spain,
was re-founded as a distinctly ecclesiastical institution in the
13th century, and became the home of Greek medical studies based on
Galen and Hippocrates, though probably the earlier texts in use were
translated from the Arabic versions. To this more wholesome Greek
character the university remained faithful, and there was always a
tendency at Montpelier to regard the Arabic use of talismans and
astrology in medicine as heretical. It was not until the beginning of
the 14th century that the Arabic medical writers began to be used there
at all, and they remained in quite a secondary rank. In 1304 Averroes’
_Canones de medicinis laxativis_ was translated from the Hebrew, and in
1340 we find that i. and iv. of the _Canons_ of Avicenna are included
in the official syllabus set for candidates for medical degrees, and
from this time forward the lectures include courses on the Arabic
physicians. In 1567 the Arabic medical works were definitely struck
off the list of books required for examination in the schools at the
petition of the students, but occasional lectures on the _Canons_ of
Avicenna were given down to 1607.

The real home of Averroism was the University of Bologna, with its
sister University of Padua, and from these two centres an Averroist
influence spread over all N.E. Italy, including Venice and Ferrara,
and so continued until the 17th century. It was a precursor of the
rationalism and anti-church feeling of the renascence, perhaps assisted
by Venetian contact with the East. At Bologna Arabic influence was
predominant in medicine; already in the later 13th century the medical
course centres in the _Canon_ of Avicenna and the medical treatises
of Averroes, with the result that astrology became a regular subject
of study, and degrees were granted in it. Most of the physicians of
Bologna and Padua were astrologers, and were generally regarded as
free-thinkers and heretics. Bologna had at one time enjoyed the favour
of Frederick II., and he had presented the University with copies of
the Latin translations prepared by his order from Arabic and Greek.

The “Great Commentary” was firmly established at Padua, and in 1334
the Servite friar Urbano de Bologna published a commentary on the
commentary of Averroes, which was printed in 1492 by order of the
general of the Servites. But it is Gaetano of Tiena (d. 1465), a canon
of the cathedral at Padua, who is generally regarded as the founder
of Paduan Averroism. He was less bold in his statements than the
Augustinian Paul of Venice, but still quite definitely an Averroist in
his teaching as to the Agent Intellect and the unity of souls, etc. He
seems to have had a great popularity, as many copies of his lectures
survive. This Averroist cult in Padua held good through the greater
part of the 15th century.

Towards the end of the century, however, the reaction begins, and
comes from two distinct sources. On one side Pomponat lectured at
Padua on the _de anima_, but interprets it by the aid of Alexander
of Aphrodisias and discards Averroes, setting forth his doctrines in
the form of essays instead of the time-honoured commentary on the
Aristotelian text. From this time (circ. 1495) the university of Padua
was divided into two factions, the Averroists and the Alexandrians.
Pomponat was at the same time a representative of more distinctly
rationalist theories, towards which the Italian mind was then tending.
It was not that Alexander was more difficult to reconcile with the
Christian faith than Averroes, but that those whose scepticism was
inclined to be more freely expressed took advantage of these new
methods of interpretation to give free vent to their own opinions.
Quite independent of these Alexandrians were the humanists proper, who
objected most to the barbarous Latinity of the text-books in general
use, and especially to the terminology employed in the translations
made from the Arabic commentators. Representative of these was
Thomæus, who about 1497 began to lecture at Padua on the Greek text
of Aristotle, and to treat it very largely as a study of the Greek
language and literature.

Philosophical controversy at this time was centred chiefly in
the psychological problems connected with the nature of the soul,
and especially with its separate existence and the prospects of
immortality. This indeed was perceived to be a crucial problem of
religion and was very keenly debated. In the early years of the 16th
century the controversy became even more prominent, until the Lateran
Council of 1512 tried to check such discussions and passed a a formal
condemnation, which, however, was powerless to restrain the debates.
It is to be noticed that these discussions did not arise from any
philo-pagan attitude of the renascence, although they favoured that
attitude, but from the topics suggested by the study of the Arabic
philosophers in N.E. Italy, and had their beginning in the problem as
to whether the soul at death could continue an individual existence
or was reabsorbed in the source, the reservoir of life, whether Agent
Intellect or universal soul.

Officially the University of Padua continued to maintain a moderate
Averroism. In 1472 the editio princeps of Averroes’ commentaries
was published at Padua. Then in 1495-7 Niphus produced a fuller and
more complete edition. Through the next half-century a series of
essays, discussions, and analyses of Averroes were produced almost
continuously, and in 1552-3 appeared the great edition of Averroes’
commentaries, with marginal notes by Zimara. In the course of the 16th
century, also, Padua produced a new translation of Averroes from the
Hebrew. The last of the Averroist succession was Cæsar Cremonini (d.
1631), who, however, shows strong leanings towards Alexandrianism. By
this time the study of the Arabic philosophers in Europe was confined
to the medical writers and to the commentaries of Averroes.

Outside Padua and Bologna Averroes retained his position as the
principal exponent of Aristotle to the end of the 15th century. In
the ordinances of Louis XI. (1473) it is laid down that the masters
at Paris are to teach Aristotle, and to use as commentaries Averroes,
Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and similar writers instead of William
of Ockham and others of his school, which is no more than saying that
the official attitude is to be realist and not nominalist.

With the 16th century the study of the Arabic commentators on Aristotle
fell into disrepute outside Padua and its circle, but for a century
more the Arabic medical writers had a limited range of influence in the
European universities.

The actual line of transmission in and after the 15th century lay
in the passage of the anti-ecclesiastical spirit developed in North
East Italy under the influence of the Arabic philosophers to the
Italian renascence. The arrival of Greek scholars after the fall of
Constantinople and the resultant interest developed in archæological
research diverted attention into a new direction, but this should not
disguise the fact that the pro-Arabic element in scholastic days was
the direct parent of the philo-pagan element in the renascence, at
least in Southern Europe. In northern lands it was the archæological
side which assumed greater importance and was brought to bear upon
theological subjects.


We have now traced the transmission of a particular type of
Hellenistic culture through the Syrian Church, the Zoroastrians of
Persia, and the pagans of Harran to the Islamic community, where it was
rather compromised by the patronage of those whom the official Muslim
teachers decided to regard as heretics. In spite of this censure it has
left a very distinct and enduring impression on Muslim theology and on
popular beliefs. After a chequered career in the East it passed over to
the Western Muslim community in Spain, where it had a very specialised
development, which finally made a deeper impression on Christian and
Jewish thought than on that of the Muslims themselves, and attained its
final evolution in North-East Italy, where, as an anti-ecclesiastical
influence, it prepared the way for the Renascence. But this main line
of development is not really the most important; all along that line it
was branching off on one side or another, and its richest fruits must
be sought in these side issues, in the scholasticism which, in Islam,
in Judaism, and in Christianity, was a reaction from its teaching, and
in the medical, chemical, and other scientific studies of the Middle
Ages, which largely owed their inspiration to its influence. It is the
most romantic history of culture drift which is known to us in detail.


Years from the death of the Prophet Muhammad to the fall of the
Muwahhid dynasty in Spain.

  11     632     Mar.  29      d. of Muhammad. Abu Bakr Khalif.
  12     633      "    18
  13     634      "     7      Umar Khalif.
  14     635     Feb.  25
  15     636      "    14
  16     637      "     2
  17     638     Jan.  23      Syria and Mesopotamia conquered.
  18     639      "    12
  19     640      "     2
  20     640     Dec.  21      Egypt conquered.
  21     641      "    10      Persia conquered.
  22     642     Nov.  30
  23     643      "    19      Uthman Khalif.
  24     644      "     7
  25     645     Oct.  28
  26     646      "    18
  27     647      "     7
  28     648     Sept. 25
  29     649      "    14
  30     650      "     4
  31     651     Aug.  24
  32     652      "    12
  33     653      "     2
  34     654     July  22
  35     655      "    11      `Ali Khalif.
  36     656     June  30
  37     657      "    19
  38     658      "     9
  39     659     May   29
  40     660      "    17
  41     661      "     7      Mu`awiya I. Khalif: _Umayyads_.
  42     662     Apr.  26
  43     663      "    15
  44     664      "     4
  45     665     Mar.  24
  46     666      "    13
  47     667      "     3
  48     668     Feb.  20
  49     669      "     9      Al-Hasan died. (2nd Imam.)
  50     670     Jan.  29
  51     671      "    18
  52     672      "     8
  53     672     Dec.  27
  54     673      "    16
  55     674      "     6
  56     675     Nov.  25
  57     676      "    14
  58     677      "     3
  59     678     Oct.  23
  60     679      "    13      _Yazid_ Khalif.
  61     680      "     1      Karbela and d. of al-Husayn.
  62     681     Sept. 20
  63     682      "    10
  64     683     Aug.  30      _Mu`awiya_ II. Khalif: _Marwan_ Khalif.
  65     684      "    18      _Abdu l-Malik_ Khalif.
  66     685      "     8
  67     686     July  28
  68     687      "    18
  69     688      "     6
  70     689     June  25
  71     690      "    15
  72     691      "     4
  73     692     May   23
  74     693      "    13
  75     694      "     2
  76     695     Apr.  21
  77     696      "    10
  78     697     Mar.  30
  79     698      "    20
  80     699      "     9
  81     700     Feb.  26
  82     701      "    15
  83     702      "     4
  84     703     Jan.  24
  85     704      "    14
  86     705      "     2      _al-Walid_ Khalif.
  87     705     Dec.  23
  88     706      "    12
  89     707      "     1
  90     708     Nov.  20
  91     709      "     9
  92     710     Oct.  29
  93     711      "    19
  94     712      "     7
  95     713     Sept. 26
  96     714      "    16      _Sulayman_ Khalif.
  97     715      "     5
  98     716     Aug.  25
  99     717      "    14      _Umar II._ Khalif.
  100    718      "     3
  101    719     July  24      _Yazif II._ Khalif.
  102    720      "    12
  103    721      "     1
  104    722     June  21
  105    723      "    10
  106    724     May   29      Hisham Khalif.
  107    725      "    19
  108    726      "     8
  109    727     Apr.  28
  110    728      "    16
  111    729      "     5
  112    730     Mar.  26
  113    731      "    15
  114    732      "     3
  115    733     Feb.  21
  116    734      "    10
  117    735     Jan.  31
  118    736      "    20
  119    737      "     8
  120    737     Dec.  29
  121    738      "    18
  122    739      "     7
  123    740     Nov.  26
  124    741      "    15
  125    742      "     4
  126    743     Oct.  25      Al-Walid II. Khalif.
  127    744      "    15      Yazid III.--Ibrahim  Khalifs.
  128    745      "     3      Marwan II. Khalif.
  129    746     Sept. 22
  130    747      "    11
  131    748     Aug.  31
  132    749      "    20      End of Umayyad dyn.--As-Saffah  Khalif.
  133    750      "     9
  134    751     July  30
  135    752      "    18
  136    753      "     7      Al-Mansur Khalif.
  137    754     June  27
  138    755      "    16      Umayyads established at Cordova.
  139    756      "     5
  140    757     May   25      Ibn al-Muqaffa` killed.
  141    758      "    14
  142    759      "     4
  143    760     Apr.  22
  144    761      "    11
  145    762      "     1      Baghdad founded.
  146    763     Mar.  21
  147    764      "    10
  148    765     Feb.  27      Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq died.
  149    766      "    16
  150    767      "     6
  151    768     Jan.  26
  152    769      "    14
  153    770      "     4
  154    770     Dec.  24
  155    771      "    13
  156    772      "     2
  157    773     Nov.  21
  158    774      "    11      Al-Mahdi Khalif.
  159    775     Oct.  31
  160    776      "    19
  161    777      "     9
  162    778     Sept. 28
  163    779      "    17
  164    780      "     6
  165    781     Aug.  26
  166    782      "    15
  167    783      "     5
  168    784     July  24
  169    785      "    14      Al-Hadi Khalif.
  170    786      "     3      Harunu r-Rashid Khalif.
  171    787     June  22
  172    788      "    11      (Idrisids estab. in Morocco.)
  173    789     May   31
  174    790      "    20
  175    791      "    10
  176    792     Apr.  28
  177    793      "    18
  178    794      "     7
  179    795     Mar.  27
  180    796      "    16
  181    797      "     5
  182    798     Feb.  22
  183    799      "    12
  184    800      "     1
  185    801     Jan.  20
  186    802      "    10
  187    802     Dec.  30      Fall of the Barmecides.
  188    803      "    20
  189    804      "     8
  190    805     Nov.  27
  191    806      "    17
  192    807      "     6
  193    808     Oct.  25      Al-Amin Khalif.
  194    809      "    15
  195    810      "     4
  196    811     Sept. 23
  197    812      "    12
  198    813      "     1      Al-Ma´mun Khalif.
  199    814     Aug.  22
  200    815      "    11
  201    816     July  30
  202    817      "    20
  203    818      "     9
  204    819     June  28      Ash-Shafi`i died.
  205    820      "    17
  206    821      "     6
  207    822     May   27
  208    823      "    16
  209    824      "     4
  210    825     Apr.  24
  211    826      "    13
  212    827      "     2      Decree that Qur´an was created.
  213    828     Mar.  22
  214    829      "    11
  215    830     Feb.  28
  216    831      "    18
  217    832      "     7      Bayt al-Hikma founded (circ.)
  218    833     Jan.  27      Al-Mu`tasim Khalif, orthodox reaction.
  219    834      "    16      (Capital removed to Samarra.)
  220    835      "     5
  221    835     Dec.  26
  222    836      "    14
  223    837      "     3
  224    838     Nov.  23
  225    839      "    12
  226    840     Oct.  31      Abu Hudhayl died.
  227    841      "    21      Al-Wasiq Khalif.
  228    842      "    10
  229    843     Sept. 30
  230    844      "    18
  231    845      "     7      An-Nazzam died.
  232    846     Aug.  28      Al-Mutawakkil Khalif.
  233    847      "    17
  234    848      "     5
  235    849     July  26
  236    850      "    15
  237    851      "     5
  238    852     June  23
  239    853      "    12
  240    854      "     2
  241    855     May   22
  242    856      "    10
  243    857     Apr.  30
  244    858      "    19
  245    859      "     8
  246    860     Mar.  28
  247    861      "    17      Al-Muntasir Khalif.
  248    862      "     7      Al-Musta`in Khalif.
  249    863     Feb.  24
  250    864      "    13
  251    865      "     2
  252    866     Jan.  22      Al-Mu`tazz Khalif.
  253    867      "    11
  254    868      "     1
  255    868     Dec.  20      Al-Muhtadi Khalif.
  256    869      "     9      Al-Mu`tamid Khalif returns to Baghdad.
  257    870     Nov.  29      Al-Bukhari died.
  258    871      "    18
  259    872      "     7
  260    873     Oct.  27      (circ) al-Kindi died.
  261    874      "    16
  262    875      "     6
  263    876     Sept. 24
  264    877      "    13
  265    878      "     3
  266    879     Aug.  23
  267    880      "    12
  268    881      "     1
  269    882     July  21
  270    883      "    11
  271    884     June  29
  272    885      "    18
  273    886      "     8
  274    887     May   28
  275    888      "    16
  276    889      "     6
  277    890     Apr.  25
  278    891      "    15
  279    892      "     3      Mu`tadid Khalif.
  280    893     Mar.  23
  281    894      "    13
  282    895      "     2
  283    896     Feb.  19
  284    897      "     8
  285    898     Jan.  28
  286    899      "    17
  287    900      "     7
  288    900     Dec.  26
  289    901      "    16      Al-Muktafi Khalif.
  290    902      "     5
  291    903     Nov.  24
  292    904      "    13
  293    905      "     2
  294    906     Oct.  22
  295    907      "    12      Al Muqtadir Khalif.
  296    908     Sept. 30
  297    909      "    20      Fatimite Khalif at Kairawan.
  298    910      "     9
  299    911     Aug.  28
  300    912      "    19      Al-Ash`ari professes orthodoxy.
  301    913      "     7
  302    914     July  27
  303    915      "    17
  304    916      "     5
  305    917     June  24
  306    918      "    14
  307    919      "     3
  308    920     May   23
  309    921      "    12
  310    922      "     1
  311    923     Apr.  21
  312    924      "     9
  313    925     Mar.  29
  314    926      "    10
  315    927      "     8
  316    928     Feb.  25
  317    929      "    14
  318    930      "     3
  319    931     Jan.  24
  320    932      "    13      Al-Qahir Khalif.
  321    933      "     1
  322    933     Dec.  22      ar-Razi Khalif.
  323    934      "    11      al-Mataridi d.
  324    935     Nov.  30      Buwayhids seize Baghdad.
  325    936      "    10
  326    937      "     8
  327    938     Oct.  28
  328    939      "    18
  329    940      "     6      al-Muttaqi Khalif.
  330    941     Sept. 26
  331    942      "    15
  332    943      "     4
  333    944     Aug.  24      al-Mustakfi Khalif.
  334    945      "    13      Al-Muti` Khalif.
  335    945      "     2
  336    947     July  23
  337    948      "    11
  338    949      "     1
  339    950     June  20      al-Farabi d.
  340    951      "     9
  341    952     May   29
  342    953      "    18
  343    954      "     7
  344    955     Apr.  27
  345    956      "    15
  346    957      "     4
  347    958     Mar.  25
  348    959      "    14
  349    960      "     3
  350    961     Feb.  20
  351    962      "     9
  352    963     Jan.  30
  353    964      "    19
  354    965      "     7
  355    965     Dec.  28
  356    966      "    17      Fatimites in Egypt: Cairo founded.
  357    967      "     7
  358    968     Nov.  25
  359    969      "    14
  360    970      "     4
  361    971     Oct.  24
  362    972      "    12
  363    973      "     2      At-Tai` Khalif.
  364    974     Sept. 21
  365    975      "    10
  366    976     Aug.  30
  367    977      "    19
  368    978      "     9
  369    979     July  29
  370    980      "    17
  371    981      "     7
  372    982     June  26
  373    983      "    15
  374    984      "     4
  375    985     May   24
  376    986      "    13
  377    987      "     3
  378    988     Apr.  21
  379    989      "    11
  380    990     Mar.  31      Al-Qadir Khalif.
  381    991      "    20
  382    992      "     9
  383    993     Feb.  26
  384    994      "    15
  385    995      "     5
  386    996     Jan.  25
  387    997      "    14
  388    998      "     3      Rise of Mahmud of Ghazna.
  389    998     Dec.  23
  390    999      "    13
  391   1000      "     1
  392   1001     Nov.  20
  393   1002      "    10
  394   1003     Oct.  30
  395   1004      "    18
  396   1005      "     8
  397   1006     Sept. 27
  398   1007      "    17
  399   1008      "     5
  400   1009     Aug.  25
  401   1010      "    15
  402   1011      "     4
  403   1012     July  23
  404   1013      "    13
  405   1014      "     2
  406   1015     June  21
  407   1016      "    10
  408   1017     May   30
  409   1018      "    20
  410   1019      "     9
  411   1020     Apr.  27
  412   1021      "    17
  413   1022      "     6
  414   1023     Mar.  26
  415   1024      "    15
  416   1025      "     4
  417   1026     Feb.  22
  418   1027      "    11
  419   1028     Jan.  31
  420   1029      "    20
  421   1030      "     9
  422   1030     Dec.  29      Al-Qa´im Khalif.
  423   1031      "    19
  424   1032      "     7
  425   1033     Nov.  26
  426   1034      "    16
  427   1035      "     5
  428   1036     Oct.  25      Ibn Sina (Avicenna) d.
  429   1037      "    14
  430   1038      "     3
  431   1039     Sept. 23
  432   1040      "    11
  433   1041     Aug.  31
  434   1042      "    21
  435   1043      "    10
  436   1044     July  29
  437   1045      "    19
  438   1046      "     8
  439   1047     June  28
  440   1048      "    16
  441   1049      "     5
  442   1050     May   26
  443   1051      "    15
  444   1052      "     3
  445   1053     Apr.  23
  446   1054      "    12
  447   1055      "     2      Saljuk Turks in Baghdad.
  448   1056     Mar.  21
  449   1057      "    10
  450   1058     Feb.  28
  451   1059      "    17
  452   1060      "     6
  453   1061     Jan.  26
  454   1062      "    15
  455   1063      "     4      Ash`arites tolerated.
  456   1063     Dec.  25
  457   1064      "    13
  458   1065      "     3
  459   1066     Nov.  22
  460   1067      "    11
  461   1068     Oct.  31
  462   1069      "    20
  463   1070      "     9
  464   1071     Sept. 29
  465   1072      "    17
  466   1073      "     6
  467   1074     Aug.  27      Al-Muqtadi Khalif.
  468   1075      "    16
  469   1076      "     5
  470   1077     July  25
  471   1078      "    14
  472   1079      "     4
  473   1080     June  22
  474   1081      "    11
  475   1082      "     1
  476   1083     May   21
  477   1084      "    10
  478   1085     Apr.  29
  479   1086      "    18
  480   1087      "     8
  481   1088     Mar.  27
  482   1089      "    16
  483   1090      "     6
  484   1091     Feb.  23
  485   1092      "    12
  486   1093      "     1
  487   1094     Jan.  21      Al-Musta`dhir Khalif.
  488   1095      "    11
  489   1095     Dec.  31
  490   1096      "    19
  491   1097      "     9
  492   1098     Nov.  28
  493   1099      "    17
  494   1100      "     6
  495   1101     Oct.  26
  496   1102      "    15
  497   1103      "     5
  498   1104     Sept. 23
  499   1105      "    13
  500   1106      "     2
  501   1107     Aug.  22
  502   1108      "    11
  503   1109     July  31
  504   1110      "    20
  505   1111      "    10      Al-Ghazali died.
  506   1112     June  28
  507   1113      "    18
  508   1114      "     7
  509   1115     May   27
  510   1116      "    16
  511   1117      "     5
  512   1118     Apr.  24        Al-Mustarshid Khalif.
  513   1119      "    14
  514   1120      "     2
  515   1121     Mar.  22
  516   1122      "    12
  517   1123      "     1
  518   1124     Feb.  19
  519   1125      "     7
  520   1126     Jan.  27
  521   1127      "    17
  522   1128      "     6
  523   1128     Dec.  25
  524   1129      "    15      Ibn Tumart the Mahdi died.
  525   1130      "     4
  526   1131     Nov.  23
  527   1132      "    12
  528   1133      "     1
  529   1134     Oct.  22      Ar-Rashid Khalif
  530   1135      "    11      Al-Muktafi II. Khalif.
  531   1136     Sept. 29
  532   1137      "    19
  533   1138      "     8      Ibn Bajja (Avempace) died.
  534   1139     Aug.  28
  535   1140      "    17
  536   1141      "     6
  537   1142     July  27
  538   1143      "    16
  539   1144      "     4
  540   1145     June  24      Jehuda hal-Levi died.
  541   1146      "    13
  542   1147      "     2
  543   1148     May   22
  544   1149      "    11
  545   1150     Apr.  30
  546   1151      "    20
  547   1152      "     8
  548   1153     Mar.  29
  549   1154      "    18
  550   1155      "     7
  551   1156     Feb.  25
  552   1157      "    13
  553   1158      "     2
  554   1159     Jan.  23
  555   1160      "    12
  556   1160     Dec.  31
  557   1161      "    21
  558   1162      "    10
  559   1163     Nov.  30
  560   1164      "    18
  561   1165      "     7
  562   1166     Oct.  28
  563   1167      "    17
  564   1168      "     5
  565   1169     Sept. 25
  566   1170      "    14      Saladin in Egypt: end of the Fatimites.
  567   1171      "     4
  568   1172     Aug.  23
  569   1173      "    12
  570   1174      "     2
  571   1175     July  22
  572   1176      "    10
  573   1177     June  30
  574   1178      "    19
  575   1179      "     8      An-Nasir Khalif.
  576   1180     May   28
  577   1181      "    17
  578   1182      "     7
  579   1183     Apr.  26
  580   1184      "    14
  581   1185      "     4      Ibn Tufayl died.
  582   1186     Mar.  24
  583   1187      "    13
  584   1188      "     2
  585   1189     Feb.  19
  586   1190      "     8
  587   1191     Jan.  29
  588   1192      "    18
  589   1193      "     7
  590   1193     Dec.  27
  591   1194      "    16
  592   1195      "     6
  593   1196     Nov.  24
  594   1197      "    13
  595   1198      "     3      Ibn Rushd (Averroes) d.
  596   1199     Oct.  23
  597   1200      "    12
  598   1201      "    12
  599   1202     Sept. 20
  600   1203      "    10
  601   1204     Aug.  29      Maimonides died.
  602   1205      "    18
  603   1206      "     8
  604   1207     July  28
  605   1208      "    16
  606   1209      "     6
  607   1210     June  25
  608   1211      "    15
  609   1212      "     3
  610   1213     May   23
  611   1214      "    13
  612   1215      "     2
  613   1216     Apr.  20
  614   1217      "    10
  615   1218     Mar.  30
  616   1219      "    19
  617   1220      "     8
  618   1221     Feb.  25
  619   1222      "    15
  620   1223      "     4      Ibn Tumlus died.
  621   1224     Jan.  24
  622   1225      "    13      Az-Zahir Khalif.
  623   1226      "     2      Al-Mustansir Khalif.
  624   1226     Dec.  22
  625   1227      "    12
  626   1228     Nov.  30
  627   1229      "    20
  628   1230      "     9
  629   1231     Oct.  29
  630   1232      "    18
  631   1233      "     7
  632   1234     Sept. 26
  633   1235      "    16
  634   1236      "     4
  635   1237     Aug.  24
  636   1238      "    14
  637   1239      "     3
  638   1240     July  23      Ibn `Arabi died.
  639   1241      "    12
  640   1242      "     1      Al-Musta´sim Khalif.
  641   1243     June  21
  642   1244      "     9
  643   1245     May   29
  644   1246      "    19
  645   1247      "     8
  646   1248     Apr.  26
  647   1249      "    16
  648   1250      "     5
  649   1251     Mar.  26
  650   1252      "    14
  651   1253      "     3
  652   1254     Feb.  21
  653   1255      "    10
  654   1256     Jan.  30
  655   1257      "    19
  656   1258      "     8      Halagu takes Baghdad: end of Khalifate.
  657   1258     Dec.  29
  658   1259      "    18
  659   1260      "     6
  660   1261     Nov.  26
  661   1262      "    15
  662   1263      "     4
  663   1264     Oct.  24
  664   1265      "    13
  665   1266      "     2
  666   1267     Sept. 22
  667   1268      "    10      Fall of the Muwahhids.

      Printed in England by The Clarendon Press, Ltd., Cheltenham.


Obsolete, archaic, unusual and inconsistent spellings have been left
in the text as in the original book. Obvious typos have been fixed, as
detailed below.

Arabic words and names appear transliterated throughout the text. `Ayn
is represented by `, and hamzah is represented by ´. The same word or
name will appear throughout the text with and without diacriticals
over the vowels, and both with and without indications of `ayn and

My research indicates that the book _Bibl. Orient._ by Asseman,
cited in the text, is referring to _Bibliotheca orientalis
Clementino-vaticana..._ by Giuseppe Simone Assemani (modern spelling of

In the following, the correction is shown in square brackets:


   10 matter, probably Indian, perhaps some Eygptian[Egyptian]

   11 the new Plantonists[Platonists]; whilst they exhausted their

   12 to which all philosophy, and especially the Plantonic[Platonic]

   15 Topica, Meterology[Meteorology], _de sensu_, the first five books

   16 “parts.” These are, (1[i]) the nutritive, the power of

   19 in the formation of neo-Plantonic[neo-Platonic] theory, and it

   26 where the Aristotelian metaphysics and phychology[psychology]

   41 commentaries of John Philoponus, himself a Monophysit[Monophysite]

   43 what we call the Turkish bath is a lineal decendant[descendant] of

   48 patriarch in 684 was a pupil of Severus Sekobt[Sebokt], and

   50 persecution. Such was the experience of _Henanyeshu`[Henanieshu´]_

   50 to the Khalif ´Abdul-Malik[`Abdul-Malik] in consequence of which

   50 the humanities on the other (cf. Assemsan[Asseman] BO.)

   54 luxurant[luxuriant] shoots on a soil which was saturated with

   54 and the most important transmittors[transmitters] of medicine.

   55 the medical writers mentioned by Dr. Leclerq[Leclerc] in his

   55 _Histoire de la médicine[médecine] arabe_ (Paris, 1876) we find

   59 déborder sur les régions frontiéres[frontières].

   78 “Old Mosque” of Fustat (Cairo), that [is] now known as the

   83 The _Mu´tazilites[Mu`tazilites]_ of whom _Wasil b. `Ata_ (d. 131)

   84 possessed by him, the Mu´tazilites[Mu`tazilites] argued that it

   84 eternal Qur´an as ditheists. The Mu´tazilites[Mu`tazilites]

   85 moral obligations and reponsibility[responsibility] on the one

   85 to death by the Khalif ´Abdu[`Abdu] l-Malik, and that the

   86 ´Ata[`Ata] whose teaching clearly shows the solvent force

   86 and did so on the ground of the apparant[apparent] injustice

   91 is confined to the hereditary descendants of ´Ali[`Ali] the

   92 is one of the sacred spots visited by Shi´ite[Shi`ite] pilgrims.

   95 risings at Madinna[Madina], and after the suppression of one of

  105 production of Arabic tranlations[translations] of works

  108 treatises of Aristotle, of the _almajasta[Almagesta]_ of Ptolemy,

  110 al-Ma`mun[al-Ma´mun] on foods and drinks, a manual of medicine

  114 Metaphysics, Plato’s Laws and Timæas[Timæus], as well as

  118 in the Qur`an[Qur´an] as belonging to a religion “of the book,”

  119 the sect mentioned in the Qur`an[Qur´an] under the name of

  123 Qur`an[Qur´an] and the question of free will. The new

  129 and _`Amr b. Bakr[Bahr] al-Jahiz_. On the theological

  130 _`Amr b. Bakr[Bahr] al-Jahir[Jahiz]_ (d. 255), the third of

  135 time of al-Ma`mun[Ma´mun] the text of Aristotle began to be

  137 (22) of De Slane’s trans. of Ibn Kkallikan[Khallikan], vol. i. p.

  137 _Beitrage[Beiträge] zur Geschichte der philosophie[Philosophie]_

  139 which particular aspect af[of] ancient research would

  143 _Muhammmad[Muhammad] b. Tarkhan Abu Nasr al-Farabi_ (d. 339),

  146 _Almajesta[Almagesta]_ of Ptolemy, and a treatise on various

  147 _aql[`aql]_ (reason, intelligence, spirit) is employed in general

  152 12. 7, and similarly Plato, _Timaeus[Timæus]_ 28). Being unchanged

  153 the argument in Plato, _Timaeus[Timæus]_ 28, and Aristotle,

  156 attempted on quite other lines by al-Ash´ari[Ash`ari] and

  156 twelfth Iman[Imam] of the _Ithna `ashariya_ or orthodox

  156 emperers[emperors], whose sign manual was sought as giving

  157 son Isma´il[Isma`il] as his successor, but as Isma´il[Isma`il] was

  157 be transferred at will, but remained loyal to Isma´il[Isma`il],

  160 the Isma´ilians[Isma`ilians] or Sab`iya of Egypt there came two

  160 monastry[monastery], and was recognised there afterwards as a

  161 In 471 another da´i[da`i] or missionary, Hasan-i-Sabbah,

  161 the younger son Musta´li[Musta`li]. When the Khalif al-Mustansir

  163 the Agha Khan is a lineal descendant af[of] Ruknu

  163 Thus the movememt[movement] started by Abdullah, the son

  165 the Ishma´ilians[Isma`ilians] on the part of those who wished

  165 founders of the brotherhood, as some have suppposed[supposed].

  169 al-Juzjanl[Juzjani], from his master’s recollections. We learn

  169 classes, as was the case with the Qarmations[Qarmatians], and when

  171 After this he studied Euclid, the _Almajesta[Almagesta]_, and the

  177 formed. Men and animals perceive pariculars [particulars]

  189 Syraic[Syriac] very soon after their first appearance in Greek,

  189 Sa´id[Sa`id] b. Abi l-Khayr (d. 441 A.H. = 1049 A.D.), who

  189 Ibn Sina; when they parted Abu Sa´id[Sa`id] said of Ibn Sina,

  191 ´Abdullah[`Abdullah], the son of Maymum, whose work we have

  192 Isma´ilians[Isma`ilians] and kindred sects; but Sufi teaching

  194 Sufi and the philosopher of the Isma´ilian[Isma`ilian] school.

  196 of the Rifa´ite[Rifa`ite] order. There are also orders

  199 undergone by the Rifa´i[Rifa`i] darwishes and others. The

  199 produces the world of phenoma[phenomena] in which light is made

  204 Sufi was _`Abdu l-Haqq ibn Sab´in[Sab`in]_ (d. 667), who shows

  220 and in 484 he was appointed president of the Nazmiite[Nazimite]

  224 the Plotinian terminloogy[terminology]. Macdonald summarises

  226 eastern wing from the rest, and this segrated[segregated] portion

  230 seat of goverment[government] at Cordova, and in A.H. 317 one

  234 more to Christian attacks, until at length Mu´tamid[Mu`tamid],

  238 work was the _Kitab al-Amanat wa-l-I´tiqadat[´Itiqadat]_,

  247 he learned of al-Ghazili[Ghazali] and his doctrines. Roughly

  253 and grammer[grammar]. He maintained that the task of philosophy

  260 `Abdu l-Haqq b. Sab´im[Sab`in] (d. 667). The former of these

  263 which is exactly the same teaching as that of al-Ash´ari[Ash`ari]

  272 _Mataphysics[Metaphysics]_, and the treatises _de coelo_ and

  272 _Mataphysics[Metaphysics]_, _de coelo_ and _de mundo_,

  272 on the Nichomachæan[Nicomachæan] Ethics and his paraphrase

  278 and phychological[psychological] works of Aristotle were in

  282 the Jew Calonymos[Kalonymos] did so in 1328. Some of his

  287 to the study of the original test[text], a view in

  297 41  661  "    7  Mu´awiya[Mu`awiya] I. Khalif: _Umayyads_.

  298 64  683 Aug. 30  _Mu´awiya[Mu`awiya]_ II. Khalif: _Marwan_ Khalif.

  303 204 819 June 28  Ash-Shaf`i[Shafi`i] died.

  304 218 833 Jan. 27  Al-Mu´tasim[Mu`tasim] Khalif, orthodox reaction.

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