Al Ghazali

Al Ghazali and His Role in the Development of Islamic Science

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Allegations of Orientalists Against Al Ghazali

The initial accusations against Al Ghazali as the cause of the decline of science in the Islamic world emerged after the orientalists. One of them is Ignaz Goldziher who states that the decline of science in the Islamic world is due to a ” conservative religious force “. The accusations against al-Ghazali can also be seen in the writings of Giorgio De Santillana; When giving an introduction to the book of science and civilization in Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. He said Al Ghazali with his illustrious policy was not as conspicuous as intellectually as he was; and for us ethically uninspired, begins to build a vortex of intolerance and blind fanaticism that undermines not only science but the school system itself and something great; namely ijtihad. Where his thoughts later, followed by modern Western scientists such as Steven Weiberg, Richard Dawkins, and also some Muslim scientists.

George Saliba’s View on Al Ghazali

According to George Saliba, most orientalists base their accusations on the assumption that there is a conflict between religion and science. This paradigm may be based on their experience in Europe at the time of the scientific revolution. For them, Al Ghazali represents the group of Orthodox traditions in Islam and with  the Tahafut  book written in the 11th century AD. They assume that the Orthodox thought of the clergy wins the battle with rational or scientific thought. With assumptions like this they assume that the decline of science in Islam ; and the Islamic world no longer produces and develops knowledge.

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Salib called the orientalists’ accusation that Al Ghazali was responsible for the decline of science in the Islamic world as a  “classical narrative” . This contradicts the fact that science is constantly evolving; and never stopped from the beginning of its development in the 8th century even after Al Ghazali died. Science continues to develop to influence the emergence of a scientific revolution in the West.

Akdogan’s Snack Opinion

It’s different again with the Akdogan snack; dismissing accusations against al-Ghazali as the person most responsible for the decline of Islamic science ; defended al-Ghazali by presenting the fact that it was precisely al-Ghazali for the first time to destroy Aristotle’s authority; and at the same time sowing the seeds of the philosophy of mechanics the metaphysical foundation for modern science.

Instead of hindering the development of science, he is an agent in facilitating further progress. As an individual; he had accomplished for the first time between 1094 and 1108 the same thing that the Europeans had accomplished for five centuries; the end of the 12th century to the 17th century. Thus he simulates individualism, a thought which was of value in the  Renaissance , in the best possible way and instead of following the authority of philosophy, Iya attacked and destroyed the ideas of  heresy  of Aristotle and Aristotelianism in 3 years i.e. 1092 to 1095.

According to Cemil, there are three reasons why they mistakenly placed the figure of al-Ghazali as the person responsible for the decline of science in the Islamic world .

First, a question arises how can al-Ghazali, a religious thinker without political power, be able to stop the development of science only by himself?

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Second, how to explain the phenomenon of the rise of discoveries and other activities after the death of Al Ghazali?. And the third; explained that he never attacked science, but Aristotle’s metaphysics which was developed by Al Farabi and Ibn Sina. After Al Ghazali died, science did not subside but instead grew, especially in arithmetic and astronomy.

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Al Ghazali
Al Ghazali

If we read  Tahafut al-Flasifah  and other books by Al Ghazali, we find no expression that he rejected science. Instead he supported empirical science and had no interest in disputing it. Pay attention to al-Ghazali’s statement as quoted by Cemil via Watt in the journal Islamia:  mathematics  includes arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. Nothing and its results are related to religious matters, neither denying nor affirming it. This science is demonstration problems that cannot be denied if this science is understood and mastered.

He also stated that “We are not interested in rejecting the theory of natural phenomena, because that rejection serves no purpose. People who think that don’t believe in those things (science); forms of religious obligation have acted unfairly against religion and weakened its foundations.” He warned Muslims not to attack science. He even said, “Your statement (that science is against religion) will shake faith in religion”.

Al Ghazali Criticizes Philosophers

So once again Al Ghazali did not criticize science, but criticized the opinions of philosophers. It is precisely his criticism of the philosopher in the book  of Tahafut  which is the basic building of the philosophy of mechanics, which has been adopted by David Hume and made the basis for the rise of science in the West. Then, he summarized all the errors of opinion of the philosophers in the book of  Tahafut  and concluded them in 20 points. Three of them must be considered infidels if they believe in it and 17 others are heretics. The three opinions are the philosopher’s opinion about the absence of bodily (physical) resurrection or only the spirit; say that God only knows things that are mini- fersal; does not know the particular and says that this universe is eternal without beginning.

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His contribution to Western science

Discussion on the role of Al Ghazali in developing Islamic science and also contributing to the rise of science in the Western world; should inspire the Muslims in the modern age to make a revival in the field of Islamic art .

Muslims must Islamize modern science through the process; as the early Muslims in the Middle Ages did, among them was Al Ghazali. The rectification of medieval history , especially his role in science, was the basis for the rise of Islam in the modern age; if people know and understand it. With the right foundation; the process of Islamization of modern Western science will go along its tracks because we have passed the same path.

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