Philosophy, as an intellectual discipline emerging from Hellenism, had an ambiguous and disputed role in the theology and apologetics of Islam and continues to be contentious. In this article, I examine the arguments over the legitimacy of philosophy between the philosophical school of Mullā Ṣadrā (d. c. 1635), dominant in the present Shiʿi seminary in Iran, and its detractors in the maktab-i tafkīk who insist that knowledge of reality and the faith only derives from the teachings of the Shiʿi Imams and cannot be contaminated with Aristotelianism. After an introduction to this fideist school of separating religious and ‘foreign’ sciences, three questions are analysed. What is philosophy? How do we know God? How can we demonstrate the Qurʾanic doctrine of the resurrection of bodies? What emerges is a more radical challenge to uṣūlī rationalism than that posed previously from the Akhbāriyya and their insistence upon a ḥadīth-based jurisprudence.
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