Conventional wisdom asserts that if Muslims had followed the rationalist lead of Ibn Rushd or Ibn Khaldun, not the mystic mode of thought advanced by Ghazālī, they would not have fallen into a dead end of superstitious religiosity which led them to lag behind Europe in terms of scientific–technological rationalism. We also frequently hear that ‘Arabic-Islamic philosophy’ failed to achieve normative validity within Islamic civilization – thereby Islam missed out on its possible Renaissance and retreated into medieval obscurity [e.g. Hans Küng]. (The only exception was the special privileging of philosophic activity linked with trans-rational metaphysics cultivated in Iranian culture; yet this also is being dismissed as a non-normative deviation from ‘authentic’ Arab Islam that privileges Sharī‘ah discourse.) These deflections allegedly brought about Islam’s marginalization, eclipsed by 18th century Enlightenment modernity. Muslims thus failed to ‘modernize’ by developing a technological mastery of natural forces and industry through cultivating independent reason and ‘science’.
Professor Crow pinpoints the fallacy of this widespread misconception arising from a misunderstanding of the unfolding and centrality of Islamic Rationality in religious & intellectual disciplines. He raises significant civilizational issues over its Eurocentric assumptions, as well as cultural and intellectual dilemmas of contemporary Muslims.
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