Concept Note


What is the philosophy of religion in the Arab thought?

After the domination of the formula for reconciliation between reason and tradition, or between philosophy and religious law in medieval Arabic and Islamic thought and in spite of all the opposing views that were described as heresy and atheism (Ibn al Moukaffaa, Ibn al Rawandi Mohammad bin al RaziZakharia … etc), the philosopher of man and of law Ibn Rushd or Avorroes (1126-1198) wanted to reconsider the connection between them in his book of wide notoriety “Treaty of decisive speech on the agreement of religion and philosophy “to draw the borders, recognize the junction of the two methods at the intersection of one truth and prove that “wisdom is a friend and a sister of religious law … ”

But since that ruchdiste moment, philosophy has endeavored to defend and justify its existence, and Arab thought has persisted to avoid direct confrontation with religion. Even when Arab thinkers had passed “the Enlightenment” in their cultural space and had adopted the formula of liberty, of progress, of the Constitution and rationality, they are not too interested in the situation of religion especially Islam, to submit to the analytical dissection.On the contrary, it was considered a part of the identity threatened by the superior West. Nevertheless, the religious case was revived as an important matter – not to say “the mother of all matters” – since the 19th century in particular in the discussions initiated between Sheikh Mohammad Abdo and Farah Antoun. Therefore, a separation of visions follows, as some have believed in the necessity of religious reform to accompany the modernization and modernity and integrate the new era (Abdo Al Afghani …) and the existence of complementarity between the two areas as it was expressed by Dr. Mohammad HassaneinHaykal in “faith and philosophical knowledge”; while others have adopted the idea of undoing the connection between religion and state (Khaled Mohammad Khaled Ismail Mazhar, ZakiNajib Mahmud Taha Hossein …). Similarly, the religious text, not religion taken as a whole, has not escaped the incisive criticism. This is how GebraelDalal, ChebliChmayyel and Francis Marrach proceeded by adopting scientific explanation instead of theological explanation and Adham Ismael in his text “Why am I an atheist? “(1937). It turned out also that Sadik Jalal al-Azm, in his book “Critique of Religious Thought” (1969) shocked “the religious conscience” by targeting the demolition of the dominant occult mentality and trying to substitute the modern scientific culture; because, according to him, the operation of the change should include the common cognitive structures. The great poet Ahmed Said Esber (Adonis) followed his footsteps denouncing the transformation of religion into an institution or authority; “When God shoves in the earthly world, it becomes a problem.” As for AbdelWahabMeddeb, in his book “The disease of Islam”, he pointed the finger of accusation directly to the latest religion.

When the question was appointed to “secularism”, some Arab thinkers had categorically refused it (Mohammad Abed al Jabiri, Hasan Hanafi, TahaAbd al Rahman, Abu Yacoub al Marzouki …) while the philosopher Nassif Nassar had apprehended it in ( Icharatwa

masalek), “the signs and lanes, of IwanIbenRushd to the expanses of secularism” (2001) in its connection to justice “given that secularism is a matter of historic evolution in relation to the religion that takes place under the banner of justice.”And he called to think of religion of its exterior considering it as one of the phenomena of human history, and to consider the matter of faith that is within the pluralistic secular society outside the confiscation. Also, when calling to rebuild the public domain in this context, he ensures that “the public sectarian domain has its defined place.”

On the left bank of the Mediterranean, the Algerian thinker Mohammed Arkoun devoted his energy to the opening of the religious text to human sciences in full, in an effort to humanize it by using the method of backlash and excess. Similarly, Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid has dealt with religious discourse characterizing it as a discourse that is subject to several interpretations or readings.

At the heart of the Arab popular movement, of uprisings, of the change in some governmental regimes, of the increase of the “fundamentalism” wave and the access of Islamists to power, the Arab Palestinian thinker AzmiBeshara, selected in his book “religion and secularism in a historical context” (first part, 2013), the transfer of the question to another level, namely “modes of religiosity” and considered it as responsible for what the religion has undergone deformation. According to him, what we are witnessing is far from being a religion; it is a social movement whose speech and culture are religious. He fears “a situation where religiosity increases and faith decreases.” He stands on the side of secularity as a historical process that affects societies and distinguishes it of secularism; it is the nature of the future of secularity in societies that defines the nature of secularism and of religiosity.

However, the above statement clearly underlines the dynamic of Arab thought, unlike the state of inertia and passivity which it was long qualified towards the changing reality. It is clear that the claims of freedom, social justice, the Constitution, the rule of law and the sovereignty of the people are just fruits of that thought which, like a mole, dug slowly deep into the social reality of structures with varying and invisible success. As to the responsible of any extremism or abuse, it is the narrow understanding of religion and politics and authoritarian use of religious text and its restriction within the interpretation of a single group, and the obstruction of democratic political horizons in natural course that results in the alternation of power and the equitable distribution of resources; because democracy is a political system capable of protecting pluralism and difference and keep individual and collective faith.The purpose aimed by this conference is the establishment of an evaluative result of the aspect of philosophy focused on religion and this is since the first appearance of the use of the concept or the notion of “philosophy of religion” in the Arab lexicon in 1898, after RachidReda had published his magazine “Al Manar” and to which he chose a secondary title or schedule “religious journal for research in the philosophy of religion and the societal and civilizational matters “. However and after a century and two decades, we  have seen a “religion” that wins extremism and a “philosophy of religion” that evolves slowly, except for some Arabic works on philosophy of religion that can be counted on

fingertips, and are rather works of definition of philosophy of religion as critical and evaluative tests. This encourages us to try to assess the philosophical thought of religion on different levels. With that, the conference aims at highlighting the movement of Arab thought in its distortions, its deviations, its courage, its shyness, the forms of its hesitations and infancy, the positions of thinkers and current Arab philosophers towards religion and philosophy; and through several titles these are the most salient:

Philosophy and religion: the sinuous

Philosophy, democracy and religion

Philosophy, religion and dialogue

Hermeneutics and religion: conflicting readings (or the conflict of interpretations)

Religion and Public Space: the final judgment of the public space in its temporality

The human propensity in the religion: humanizing religion or xxx humanity?

The truth, the sacred and violence: on religious violence

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