The rise and spread of darwish Fraternities; the survival and tradition of the Hanbalite doctrine; Abd ar-Razzaq; Ibn Taymiya, his attacks on saint-worship and on the mutakallims; ash-Sha‘rani and his times; the modern movements; Wahhabism and the influence of al-Ghazzali; possibilities of the present.
OUR sources now begin to grow more and more scanty, and we must hasten over long intervals of time and pass with little connection from one name to another. Preliminary investigations are also to a great extent lacking, and it is possible that the centuries which we shall merely touch may have witnessed developments only less important than those with which we have already dealt. But that is not probable; for when, after a long silence, the curtain rises again for us in the twelfth Muslim century, we shall find at work only those elements and conditions whose inception and growth we have now set forth.
One name in our rapid flight deserves mention, at least. It is that of Umar ibn al-Farid, the greatest poet that Arabic mysticism has produced. He was born at Cairo in 586, lived for a time at Mecca, and died at Cairo in 632. He led no new movement or advance, but the East still cherishes his memory and his poems.
We have already noticed (p. 177) the beginnings of darwish Fraternities and the founding of monasteries or khanqahs. During the period over which we have
just passed, these received a great and enduring impetus. The older ascetics and walis gathered round them groups of personal followers and their pupils carried on their names. But it was long, apparently, before definite corporations were founded of fixed purpose to perpetuate the memory of their masters. One of the earliest of these seems to have been the fraternity of Qadirite darwishes, founded by Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, who died in 561 at Baghdad, where pilgrimage is still made to his shrine. So, too, the Rifa‘ite Fraternity was founded at Baghdad by Ahmad ar-Rifa‘a in 576. Another was that of the Shadhilites, named after their founder, ash-Shadhili, who died in 656. Again another is that of the Badawites, whose founder was Ahmad al-Badawi (d. 675); his shrine at Tanta in Lower Egypt is still one of the most popular places of pilgrimage. Again, the order of the Naqshbandite darwishes was founded by Muhammad an-Naqshbandi, who died in 791. Among the Turks by far the most popular religious order is that of the Mawlawites, founded by the great Persian mystical poet, Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (d. 672), whose Mesnevi is read over all Islam. These and very many others, especially of later date, are still in existence. Others, once founded, have again become extinct. Thus, Ibn Sa‘bin, though he was surrounded by disciples who for a time after his death carried on the order of Sab‘inites, does not seem now to have any to do him honor. The same holds of a certain Adi al-Haqqari who founded a cloister near Mawsil and died about 558. It is significant that al-Ghazzali, though he founded a cloister for Sufis at Tus and
taught and governed there himself, left no order behind him. Apparently in his time the movement toward continuous corporations had not yet begun. It is true that there are at present in existence darwish Fraternities which claim to be descended from the celebrated ascetics and walis, Ibrahim ibn Adham (d. 161), Sari as-Saqati (d. 257) and Abu Yazid al-Bistami (d. 261), but it may be gravely doubted whether they can show any sound pedigree. The legend of Shaykh Ilwan, who is said to have founded the first order in 49, may be safely rejected. It is significant that the Awlad Ilwan, sons of Ilwan, as his followers are called, form a sect of the Rifa‘ites. Further, just as the Sufis have claimed for themselves all the early pious Muslims, and especially the ten to whom Muhammad made specific promise of Paradise (al-ashara al-mubashshara), so these Fraternities are ascribed in their origin to, and put under the guardianship of the first Khalifas, and, in Egypt at least, a direct descendant of Abu Bakr holds authority over all their orders.
In these orders all are darwishes, but only those gifted by God with miraculous powers are walis. Those of them who are begging friars are faqirs. They stand under an elaborate hierarchy grading in dignity and holiness from the Qutb, or Axis, who wanders, often invisible and always unknown to the world, through the lands performing the duties of his office, and who has a favorite station on the roof of the Ka‘ba, through his naqibs or assistants, down to the lowest faqir. But the members of these orders are not exclusively faqirs. All classes are
enrolled as, in a sense, lay adherents. Certain trades affect certain fraternities; in Egypt, for example, the fishermen are almost all Qadirites and walk in procession on their festival day, carrying colored nets as their banners. Much the same thing held, and holds, of the monastic orders of Europe, but the Muslim does not wait till he is dying to put on the weeds of Ahmad al-Badawi or ash-Shadhili. Finally, reference may be made again to the last and most important of all these orders, the militant Brotherhood of as-Sanusi.
We have now returned to the period of al-Iji and at-Taftazani, when philosophy definitely descended from the throne and became the servant and defender of theology. From this time on, the two independent forces at work are the unveiling of the mystic (kashf) and tradition (naql). The only place for reason (aql) now is to prove the possibility of a given doctrine. That done, its actual truth is proven by tradition. These two then, kashf and naql, hold the field, and the history of Muslim theology from this point to the present day is the history of their conflicts. The mystics are accused of heresy by the traditionalists. The traditionalists are accused by the mystics of formalism, hypocrisy, and, above all, of flat inability to argue logically. Both accusations are certainly true. No fine fence on personality can conceal the fact that Muslim mysticism is simple pantheism of the Plotinian type, the individuals are emanations from the One. On the other hand, the formalism of the traditionalists can hardly be exaggerated. They pass over almost entirely into
canon lawyers, meriting richly the fine sarcasm of al-Ghazzali, who asked the faqihs of his day what possible value for the next world could lie in a study of the Qur’anic law of inheritance or the like. Tradition (hadith), in the exact sense of the sayings and doings of Muhammad, falls into the background, and fiqh, the systems built upon it by the generations of lawyers, from the four masters down, takes its place. Again, the accusation of illogical reasoning is also thoroughly sound. The habit of unending subdivision deprived the minds of the canonists of all breadth of scope, and their devotion to the principle of acceptance on authority (taqlid) weakened their feeling for argument. It is true, further, that the mystics, such as they were, had heired all the philosophy left in Islam, and were thus become the representatives of the intellectual life. They had so much of an advantage over their more orthodox opponents. But the intellectual life with them, as with the earlier philosophers, remained of a too subjective character. The fatal study of the self, and the self only--that tramping along the high a priori road--and neglect of the objective study of the outside world which ruined their forerunners, was their ruin as well. Outbursts of intellectual energy and revolt we may meet with again and again; there will be few signs of that science which seeks facts patiently in the laboratory, the observatory, and the dissecting-room.
Curiously enough, there fall closely together at this time the death dates of two men of the most opposite schools. The one was Ibn Taymiya, the
anthropomorphist free lance, who died in 728, and the other was Abd ar-Razzaq, the pantheistic Sufi, who died in 730. Abd ar-Razzaq of Samarqand and Kashan was a close student and follower of Ibn Arabi. He commented on his books and defended his orthodoxy. In fact, so closely had Ibn Arabi come to be identified with the Sufi position as a whole that a defence of him was a favorite form in which to cast a defence of Sufiism generally. But Abd ar-Razzaq did not follow his master absolutely. On the freedom of the will especially he left him. For Ibn Arabi, the doctrine of the oneness of all things had involved fatalism. Whatever happens is determined by the nature of things, that is, by the nature of God. So the individuals are bound by the whole. Abd ar-Razzaq turned this round. His pantheism was of the same type as that of Ibn Arabi; God, for him, was all. But there is freedom of the divine nature, he went on. It must therefore exist in man also, for he is an emanation from the divine. His every act, it is true, is predetermined, in time, in form, and in place. But his act is brought about by certain causes, themselves predetermined. These are what we would call natural laws in things, natural abilities, aptitudes, etc., in the agent; finally, free choice itself. And that free choice is in man because he is of and from God. Further, it is evident that Abd ar-Razzaq's anxiety is to preserve a basis for morals. Among the predetermining causes he reckons the divine commands, warnings, proofs in the Qur’an. The guidance of religion finds thus its place and the prophets their work. But what of the existence
of evil and the necessity of restraint in a world that has emanated from the divine? This problem he faces bravely. Our world must be the best of all possible worlds; otherwise God would have made it better. Difference, then, among men and things belongs to its essence and necessity. Next, justice must consist in accepting these different things and adapting them to their situations. To try to make all things and men alike would be to leave some out of existence altogether. That would be a great injustice. Here, again, religion enters. Its object is to rectify this difference in qualities and gifts. Men are not responsible for these, but they are responsible if they do not labor to correct them. In the hereafter all will be reabsorbed into the divine being and taste such bliss as the rank of each deserves. For those who need it there will be a period of purgatorial chastisement, but that will not be eternal, in sha Allah.
Like his predecessors, Abd ar-Razzaq divides men into classes according to their insight into divine things. The first is of men of the world, who are ruled by the flesh (nafs) and who live careless of all religion. The second is of men of reason (aql). They through the reason contemplate God, but see only His external attributes. The third is of men of the spirit (ruh) who, in ecstasy, see God face to face in His very essence, which is the substrate of all creation.
In his cosmogony, Abd ar-Razzaq follows, of course, the neo-Platonic model and shows great ingenuity in weaving into it the crude and materialistic
phrases and ideas of the Qur’an. Like all Muslim thinkers he displays an anxiety to square with his philosophy the terms dear to the multitude.
To Ibn Taymiya all this was the very abomination of desolation itself. He had no use for mystics, philosophers, Ash‘arite theologians, or, in fact, for anyone except himself. A contemporary described him as a man most able and learned in many sciences, but with a screw loose. However it may have been about the last point, there can be no question that he was the reviver for his time and the transmitter to our time of the genuine Hanbalite tradition, and that his work rendered possible the Wahhabites and the Brotherhood of as-Sanusi. He was the champion of the religion of the multitude as opposed to that of the educated few with which we have been dealing so long. This popular theology had been going steadily upon its way and producing its regular riots and disputings. It is related of a certain Ash‘arite doctor, Fakhr ad-Din ibn Asakir (d. 620), that, in Damascus, he never dared to pass by a certain way through fear of Hanbalite violence. The same Fakhr ad-Din once gave, as in duty bound, the normal salutation of the Peace to a Hanbalite theologian. The Hanbalite did not return it, which was more than a breach of courtesy, and indicated that he did not regard Fakhr ad-Din as a Muslim. When people remonstrated with him, he turned it as a theological jest and replied, "That man believes in 'Speech in the Mind' (kalam nafsi, hadith fi-n-nafs), so I returned his salutation mentally." The point is a hit at the Ash‘arites, who contended that thought
was a kind of speech without letters or sounds, and that God's quality of Speech could therefore be without letters or sounds.
But even the simple orthodoxy of the populace had not remained unchanged. It had received a vast accretion of the most multifarious superstitions. The cult of saints, alive and dead, of holy sites, trees, garments, and the observance of all manner of days and seasons had been developing parallel to the advance of Sufiism among the educated. The walis were untiring in the recital of the karamat which God had worked for them, and the populace drank in the wonders greedily. The metaphysical and theological side they left untouched. "This is a holy man," they said, "who can work miracles; we must fear and serve him." And so they would do without much thought whether his morality might not be antinomian and his theology pantheistic. To abate this and other evils and bring back the faith of the fathers was the task which Ibn Taymiya took up.
He was born near Damascus in 661 and educated as a Hanbalite. His family had been Hanbalite for generations, and he himself taught in that school and was reckoned as the greatest Hanbalite of his time. His position, too, was practically that of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, modified by the necessities imposed by new controversaries. Thus he was an anthropomorphist, but of what exact shade is obscure. He was accused of teaching that God was above His throne, could be pointed at, and that He descended from His seat as a man might, i.e., that He was in space. But he certainly distinguished himself from the crasser materialists.
He refused to be classed as the adherent of any school or of any system save that of Muhammad and the agreement of the fathers. He claimed for himself the rights of a mujtahid and went back to first sources and principles in everything. His self-confidence was extreme, and he smote down with proud words the Rightly Guided Khalifas, Umar and Ali, themselves. His bases were Qur’an, tradition from the Prophet and from the Companions and analogy. Agreement, in the broad sense of the agreement of the Muslim people, he rejected. If he had accepted it he would have been forced to accept innumerable superstitions, beliefs, and practices--especially the whole doctrine of the walis and their wonders--for their basis was agreement. The agreement of the Companions he did accept, while convicting them right and left of error as individuals.
His life was filled up with persecutions and misfortune. He was a popular idol, and inquiries for his judgment on theological and canonical questions kept pouring in upon him. If there was no inquiry, and he felt that a situation called for an expression of opinion from him, he did not hesitate to send it out with all formality. It is true that it is the duty of every Muslim, so far as he can, to do away or at least to denounce any illegality or unorthodox view or practice which he may observe. This duty evidently weighed heavily on Ibn Taymiya, and there was fear at one time at the Mamluk court lest he might go the way of Ibn Tumart. In one of these utterances he defined the doctrine of God's qualities as Ibn Hazm had done, and joined thereto denunciations
of the Ash‘arite kalam and of the Qur’anic exegesis of the mutakallims as a whole. They were nothing but the heirs and scholars of philosophers, idolaters, Magians, etc.; and yet they dared to go beyond the Prophet and his heirs and Companions. The consequence of this fatwa or legal opinion was that he was silenced for a time as a teacher. On another occasion he gave out a fatwa on divorce, pronouncing tahlil illegal. Tahlil is a device by which an awkward section in the canon law is evaded. If a man divorces his wife three times, or pronounces a threefold divorce formula, he cannot remarry her until she has been married to another man, has cohabited with him and been divorced by him. Muslim ideas of sexual purity are essentially different from ours, and the custom has grown up, when a man has thus divorced his wife in hasty anger, of employing another to marry her on pledge of divorcing her again next day. Sometimes the man so employed refuses to carry out his contract; such refusal is a frequent motif in oriental tales. To avoid this, the husband not infrequently employs one of his slaves and then presents him to his former wife the next day. A slave can legally marry a free woman, but when he becomes her property the marriage is ipso facto annulled, because a slave cannot be the husband of his mistress or a slave woman the wife of her master. It is to Ibn Taymiya's credit that he was one of the few to lift up their voices against this abomination. His independence is shown at its best.
But it was with the Sufis that he had his worst conflicts, and at their hands he suffered most. In many
points his career is parallel to that of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Sufi movement taking the place that was played by Mu‘tazilism in the life of the earlier saint. One great difference, it may be remarked, was that al-Ma’mun urged the persecution of Ibn Hanbal, while an-Nasir, the great Mamluk Sultan (reg. 693, 698-708, 709-741), supported Ibn Taymiya as far as he possibly could. The beginning of the Sufi controversy was characteristic. Ibn Taymiya heard that a certain an-Nasr al-Manbiji (d. 719?), a reputed follower of Ibn Arabi and of Ibn Sa‘bin, had reached a position of influence in Cairo. That was enough to make Ibn Taymiya address an epistle to him, intended to turn him from his heresies. It is needless to give in detail the position and content of the epistle. He wrote as a strong monotheist of the old-fashioned type and exposed and assailed unmercifully the doctrine of Unity (ittihad) of the mystics. Al-Manbiji retorted with countercharges of heresy, and; as he had behind him all the Sufis of Egypt--as great an army as the Christian monks and ascetics or earlier Egypt and much like to them Ibn Taymiya had to pay for his eagerness for a fight with long and painful imprisonment at Cairo, Alexandria and Damascus. Here it is evident that he had lost touch. with the drift of popular, and especially Egyptian, feeling.
But his fearlessness was like that of Ibn Hanbal himself, and in 726 he gave out a fatwa which ran still straighter in the teeth of the beliefs of the people and which sent him to a prison which he never left alive. It had long been a custom in Islam to make pious pilgrimage to the graves of saints and prophets
and there to do reverence to their memory and to ask their aid. It was part of that cult of saints which had so overspread and overcome the earlier simplicity of Islam. The most outstanding case in point was, and is, the pilgrimage to the tomb of Muhammad at al-Madina, which has come to be a more or less essential part of the Hajj to the Ka‘ba itself. Against all this Ibn Taymiya lifted a voice of emphatic protest. These shrines were in great part false, and when they were genuine the visitation of them was an idolatrous imitation of heathen practices. Equally idolatrous was all invoking of saints or prophets, including Muhammad himself; to God alone should prayer be directed. The clamor raised by this fatwa was tremendous. This was no doctrine of the schools which he had touched, but a bit of concrete religiosity which appealed to everyone. His public life practically ended, and the practices which he had denounced abide to this day. It is a bitter satire on his position that when he died in 726 the populace paid to his relics all these signs of superstitious reverence against which he had protested. He became a saint, malgré lui. His work had been to keep alive the Hanbalite doctrine and pass it on unchanged to modern times. He did not destroy philosophy: it was dead of itself before he came. Nor Sufiism: it is still very much alive. Nor kalam: it still continues in the form to which it had crystallized by his time. But he and his disciples made possible the Wahhabites and the monotheistic revival of our day. The faith of Muhammad himself was not to perish entirely from the earth.
It would now be possible to pass at once to the Wahhabite movement in the latter part of the twelfth century of the Hijra. All the elements for the explanation of it and of the modern situation are in our hands. But there is one figure which stands out so clearly in an otherwise most obscure picture and is so significant for the time, that some account must be taken of it. It is that of ash-Sha‘rani, theologian, canonist, and mystic. He was a Cairene and died in 973. The rule of Egypt had passed half a century before to the Ottoman Turks, and they governed by means of a Turkish Pasha. The condition of the people, as we find it sketched by ash-Sha‘rani, was a most unhappy one. They were bent down, and especially the peasantry, under a load of taxation. The Turks found it advisable, too, to cultivate the friendship of the canon lawyers and professional theologians in order to maintain their hold upon the people. These canonists, in consequence, were rapidly becoming an official class with official privileges. Further, the process, the beginnings of which we have already seen, by which religious science was narrowed to fiqh, had gone still further. Practically, the two classes of theologians left were the canonists and the mystics. And the mystics had fallen far from their pride of power under the Mamluks. They now were of the poor of the laud, a kind of Essenes over against the Pharisees of the schools.
Such, at least, is the picture of his time which ash-Sha‘rani gives. How far it is exact must remain uncertain. For, of the many puzzling personalities in Islam, ash-Sha‘rani is perhaps for us the most unintelligible.
[paragraph continues] He combined the most abject superstitions of a superstitious ago and country with lofty ethical indignation; social humility of the most extreme with an intellectual pride and arrogance rarely paralleled, a keen and original grasp of the canon law of the four schools with an utter submission of the intellect to the inbreathings of the divine from without; a power of discreet silence as to the inconvenient with an open-mouthed vehemence in other things. He was a devoted follower of Ibn Arabi and defended his memory against the accusation of heresy. Yet his position is singularly different from that of Ibn Arabi, and a doubt cannot but rise as to either his knowledge, his intelligence, or his honesty. Practically where he differs from the ordinary Muslim is in his extension of the doctrine of saints. As to the Most Beautiful Names (al-asma al-husna), he follows Ibn Hazm. So, too, as to God's qualities, he follows the older school and would prefer to leave them unconsidered. But he is, otherwise and in general, a sound Ash‘arite, e.g., on the doctrine of predestination, and of man's part in his works (iktisab). There is in him no sign of the Plotinian pantheism of Ibn Arabi. The doctrine of God's difference (mukhalafa) he taught, and that He created the world by His will and not by any emanation of energy.
But truth for him is not to be reached by speculation and argument: its only basis is through the unveiling of the inner eye which brings us to the immediate Vision of the Divine. Those who have reached that Vision, guide and teach those who cannot or have not. Upon that Vision all systems are built,
and reason can only serve the visionary as a defence against the gainsayer or against his own too wild thoughts. Naturally, with such a starting-point as this the supernatural side of things (al-ghayb) receives strong emphasis. The Jinn and the angels are most intense realities. Ash-Sha‘rani met them in familiar converse. He met, too, al-Khadir, the undying pilgrim saint who wanders through the lands, succoring and guiding. The details of these interviews are given with the greatest exactness. A Jinni in the form of a dog ran into his house on such a day by such a door, with a piece of European paper in his mouth--this is a touch of genius--on which certain theological questions were written. The Jinni wished ash-Sha‘rani's opinion as to them. Such was the origin of one of his books, and another sprang from a similarly exactly described talk with al-Khadir. Yet he was content also with smaller mercies and reckons as a karama that he was enabled to read through a certain book for some time at the rate of two and a half times daily. To all this it would be possible of course to say flatly that he lied. But such a judgment applied to an oriental is somewhat crude, and the knot of the mystic's mind in any land is not to be so easily cut. Further, the doctrine of the walis is developed by him at length. They possess a certain illumination (ilham), which is, however, different from the inspiration (wahy) of the prophets. So, too, they never reach the grade of the prophets, or a nearness to God where the requirements of a revealed law fall away from them, i.e., they must always walk according to the law of a prophet. They are all guided by
[paragraph continues] God, whatever their particular Rule (tariqa) may be, but the Rule of al-Junayd (p. 176) is the best because it is in most essential agreement with the Law (shari‘a) of Islam. Their karamat are true and are a consequence of their devout labors, for these are in agreement with the Qur’an and the Sunna. The order of nature will not be broken for anyone who has not achieved more than is usual in religious knowledge and exercises. All walis stand under a regular hierarchy headed by the Qutb; yet above him in holiness stand the Companions of the Prophet. This marks a very moderate position. Many Sufis had contended that the walis stood higher than even the prophets, not to speak of their Companions.
It will be seen that his position is essentially a mediating one. He wishes to show that the beliefs of the mystics and of the mutakallims are really one although they are reached by different paths. In fiqh he made a similar attempt. The Sufis had always looked down on those theologians who were canonists pure and simple. A study of canon law was a necessity, they thought; but as a propædeutic only. The canonists who went no further never reached religion at all. Especially they held that no Sufi should join himself to any of the four contending schools. Their controversies were upon insignificant details which had nothing to do with the life in God. But could it not be shown that their differences were not actual--one view being true and the other false--but were capable of being reduced to a unity? This was the problem that ash-Sha‘rani attacked. These differing opinions, he held, are
adapted to different classes of men. Some men of greater gifts and endurance can follow the hardest of these opinions, while the easier are to be recognized as concessions (rukhsa) from God to the weakness of others. Each man may follow freely the view which appeals to him; God has appointed it for him.
Ash-Sha‘rani was one of the last original thinkers in Islam; for a thinker he was despite his dealings with the Jinn and al-Khadir. Egypt keeps his memory. A mosque in Cairo bears his name, as does also a division of the Badawite darwishes. In modern times his books have been frequently reprinted, and his influence is one of the ferments in the new Islam.
We must now pass over about two hundred years and come to the latter part of the twelfth century of the Hijra, a period nearly coinciding with the end of the eighteenth of our era. There these two movements come again to light. Wahhabism, the historical origin of which we have already seen (p. 60), is a branch of the school of Ibn Taymiya. Manuscripts of the works of Ibn Taymiya copied by the hand of Ibn Abd al-Wabhab exist in Europe. So the Wahhabites refused to accept as binding the decisions of the four orthodox sects of canon law. Agreement as a source they also reject. The whole People of Muhammad can err and has erred. Only the agreement of the Companions has binding force for them. It is, therefore, the duty and right of every man to draw his own doctrine from the Qur’an and the traditions; the systems of the schools should have no weight with him. Again, they take the
authropomorphisms of the Qur’an in their literal sense. God has a hand, God settles Himself on His throne; so it must be held "without inquiring how and without comparison." They profess to be the only true Muslims, applying to themselves the term Muwahhids and calling all others Mushriks, assignees of companions to God. Again, like Ibn Taymiya, they reject the intercession of walis with God. It is allowable to ask of God for the sake of a saint but not to pray to the saint. This applies also to Muhammad. Pilgrimage to the tombs of saints, the presenting of offerings there, all acts of reverence, they also forbid. No regard should be paid even to the tomb of the Prophet at al-Madina. All such ceremonies are idolatrous. Whenever possible the Wahhabites destroy and level the shrines of saints.
Over other details, such as the prohibition of the use of tobacco, we need not spend time. Wahhabism as a political force is gone. It has, however, left the Sanusi revolt as its direct descendant and what may be the outcome of that Brotherhood we have no means of guessing. It has also left a general revival and reformation throughout the Church of Islam, much parallel, as has been remarked, to the counter-reformation which followed the Protestant Reformation in Europe.
The second movement is the revival of the influence of al-Ghazzali. That influence never became absolutely extinct and it seems to have remained especially strong in al-Yaman. In that corner of the Muslim world generations of Sufis lived comparatively
undisturbed, and it was the Sayyid Murtada, a native of Zabid in Tihama, who by his great commentary on the Ihya of al-Ghazzali practically founded the modern study of that book. There have been two edition of this commentary in ten quarto volumes and many of the Ihya itself and of other works by al-Ghazzali. Whether his readers understand him fully or not, there can be no question of the wide influence which he is now exercising. At Mecca, for example, the orthodox theological teaching is practically Ghazzalian and the controversy throughout all Arabia is whether Ibn Taymiya and al-Ghazzali can be called Shaykhs of Islam. The Wahhabites hold that anyone who thus honors al-Ghazzali is an unbeliever, and the Meccans retort the same of the followers of Ibn Taymiya.
These two tendencies then--that back to the simple monotheism of Muhammad and that to an agnostic mysticism--are the hopeful signs in modern Islam. There are many other drifts in which there is no such hope. Simple materialism under European, mostly French, influence is one. A seeking of salvation in the study of canon law is another. Canon law is still the field to which an enormous proportion of Muslim theologians turn. Again, there are various forms of frankly pantheistic mysticism. That is especially the case among Persians and Turks. For the body of the people, religion is still overburdened, as in Ibn Taymiya's days, with a mass of superstition. Lives of walis containing the wildest and most blasphemous stories abound and are eagerly read. The books of ash-Sha‘rani are especially rich in such
hagiology. It is difficult for us to realize that stories like the most extravagant in the Thousand and One Nights are the simplest possibilities to the masses of Islam. The canon lawyers, still, in their discussions, take account of the existence of Jinn, and no theologian would dare to doubt that Solomon sealed them up in brass bottles. Of philosophy, in the free and large sense, there is no trace. Ibn Rushd's reply to al-Ghazzali's "Destruction of the Philosophers" has been printed, but only as a pendant to that work. In it, too, Ibn Rushd carefully covers his great heresies. His tractates on the study of kalam, spoken of above, have also been reprinted at Cairo from the European edition. But these tractates are arranged to give no clew to his real philosophy. The Arabic Aristotelianism has perished utterly from the Muslim lands. Of the modern Indian Mu‘tazilism no account need be taken here. It is derived from Europe and is ordinary Christian Unitarianism, connecting with Muhammad instead of with Jesus.
From the above sketch some necessary conditions are clear, which must be fulfilled if there is to be a chance for a future development in Islam. Education must be widely extended. The proportion of trained minds must be greatly increased and the barrier between them and the commonalty removed. The economy of teaching has failed; it has destroyed the doctrine which it sought to protect. Again, the slavery of the disciple to the master must cease. It must always be possible for the student, in defiance of taqlid, to go back to first principles or to the primary facts and to disregard what the great Imams
and Mujtahids have taught. So much of health there was in the Zahirite system.
Third, these primary facts must include the facts of natural science. The student, emancipated from the control of the schools, must turn from the study of himself to an examination of the great world. And that examination must not be cosmological but biological; it must not lose itself in the infinities but find itself in concrete realities. It must experiment and test rather than build lofty hypotheses.
But can the oriental mind thus deny itself? The English educational experiment in Egypt may go far to answer that question.