Editorial – 17th issue summer 2015

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Dear readers

in this issue Minbar Ibn Rushd again offers you a new selection of interesting essays by authors from different Arab countries.

In his Saturday speech the Islamic scholar Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Habash deals with “The founding myths of the discourse of extremism” and answers the questions addressed to him by the audience. We have to “change Islamic jurisprudence from a notoriously restrictive system to one that is tolerant and acceptable” and “we must understand Islam in its context, for the Quranic verses all have basis or necessity in their historical origins.”

He emphasizes that the extremists do not belong to Islamic jurisprudence; they appear in specific, short-lived historical circumstances. For nearly 1200 years, Islamic governments did not apply the most severe punishments (hudud) against those who committed the crimes deserving them according to Sharia. He argues Muslims committing hadd-worthy crimes were not forced to leave Islam, though this is a subject being discussed extensively by many intellectuals today.

Prof. Hassan Kamel Ibrahim from the Faculty of Education/King Saud University, studies the issue of “Cultural interaction between the Muslim world and the West – Ibn Rushd’s criticism of Galen in his medical encyclopedia al-Kulliyāt fī al-ṭibb (General Rules of Medicine)”. The author first lists the names of Arab and Muslim scholars who have studied and commented and criticized the medical works of Greek scholars like Hippocrates and Galen, Ptolemy– such as al-Majusi, Ibn al-Haytham or al-Baghdadi. Then he deals in more detail  with Ibn Rushd and his “Colliget”, in which he studied and criticizes the theories of Galen for the treatment of different diseases.

In his essay “Averroes, the philosopher of enlightenment,” Khalil Hamad (Palestine) gives an overview of the ways the thought and philosophy of Ibn Rushd are still a model for rational thought in modern times. Ibn Rushd says the main reason for dialogue is to reach the truth. The purpose of evidentiary logic in dialogue is to understand the interlocutor, instead of deceiving to take advantage of them, and to recognize the other’s point when one is proven wrong, underpinned by a commitment to scientific integrity. Ibn Rushd also stands out from other philosophers and thinkers with his liberal views on women, calling for equality between the sexes, unlike his predecessor Aristotle.

In her critical essay “Let us do justice to our history and set things right” the Saudi Arabian author Malak Talal blames the unfair attack of Arabs on the West and their scholars. She says science is in the first place a joint collective product of the human race. Muslims acquired knowledge from their predecessors as the West did from their predecessors. She argues that it was Western scientists who took interest in Arab scientists and who made efforts to discover their manuscripts and study them, consequently making it possible for Arabs to be reintroduced to their own ancient scholars such as Ibn Rushd and Ibn Khaldun whose works had been lost. Whereas our position has been shameful in our lack of attention to our Arab and Muslim scholars and intellectuals, some of whom had won the Nobel Prize and  had even  experienced prosecution.. Malak Talal reminds us of the devastating impact of ignorance on Arab countries by citing the Syrian scholar ʿAbd ar-Rahmān al-Kawakibi: “the worst type of oppression is that of ignorance to science and the self to reason.
Mohammed Baqi Mohammed begins his article “The logic of Empires – America as an example!”  by referring to Noam Chomsky’s famous book “Year 501: The Conquest Continues” which was issued 501 years after the discovery of North America by the Europeans, after which they colonized and founded the United States on the dead bodies of the red Indian population in a biblical style appealing to follow “the call of the free land”. The author analyzes the historical development of the United States’ policy and its expansion to become a superpower in the world.

In his essay “The crisis of the Arab mind … and the failure of projects of enlightenment” Dr. Habib Haddad believes that the crisis of rationality in the Arab world since the Middle Ages, especially after the death of the philosopher Ibn Rushd, has to do with our attitude towards heritage. He gives advice how we can deal with it to motivate progress of societies instead of slowing it down. He does not regard the international abandonment of the Arab world as the main reason for the failure of the Arab Spring.

In his book review “The spirit of modernity” Dr. Rachid Boutayeb gives us a critical reading of the book “The impossible state: Islam, politics and the crisis of morality in modernity” by Wael Hallaq.

This issue closes with another book review by Dr. Hamid Fadlalla entitled “The culture of dialogue”. In it Fadlalla reviews Dr. Mohamed Mahmoud’s book “The prophethood of Mohamed: History and construction: Introduction to a critical reading”. The review is a fine example of the art of dialogue and essay writing in literature when differences of opinion and attitudes are involved.

Last but not least, we announce: on the occasion of Ibn Rushd Prize this year on prison writing we want to publish next issue with articles that revolve around prison literature. We would be pleased to receive your texts in the coming weeks on this subject.

And now we wish our readers a pleasant reading.

Dr. Abier Bushnaq


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