Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

“Only the Imam Knows Best” The Maktab-e Tafkīk's Attack on the Legitimacy of Philosophy in Iran 1

  • SAJJAD H. RIZVI (a1)

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.

Hide All

This article was given as a lecture on 21 January 2010 in the Shiʿi Studies series at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. I am grateful to the attendees for their valuable comments.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Robert Gleave , Scripturalist Islam: The History and Doctrines of the Akhbārī Shīʿī School (Leiden, 2007), pp. 268296

Hamid Algar , ‘ʿAllāma Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabāʾī: philosopher, exegete and gnostic”, Journal of Islamic Studies vol. 17, no. 3 (2006), pp. 334335

Vanessa Martin , “A comparison between Khumaynī's government of the jurist and the commentary on Plato's Republic of Ibn Rushd”, Journal of Islamic Studies, vol. 7, no. 1 (1996), pp. 1631 1996

Graham Oppy , Arguing about Gods (Cambridge, 2006)

Alvin Plantinga , “Is belief in God properly basic?Nous 15 (1981), pp. 4151

Sara Rappe , Reading Neoplatonism: Non-discursive Thinking in the Texts of Plotinus, Proclus, and Damascius (Cambridge, 2000)

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • ISSN: 1356-1863
  • EISSN: 1474-0591
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-royal-asiatic-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 5 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 52 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 8th March 2017 - 29th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.