The Main Debate Between Al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd

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Before summarizing Ibn Rushd work entitled "Tahafut at-Tahafut" (Confusion of Confusion), it should be noted that this work was born as a reaction to the work of an earlier Islamic thinker, namely Al-Ghazali who spawned a work entitled "Tahafut al-Falasifah" (The Confusion of the Philosophers). ).

Al-Ghazali in his book Tahafut al-Falasifah criticizes the previous philosophers, especially Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina on twenty issues. In his book, al-Ghazali discusses these problems in detail and systematically the 20 problems by presenting the views of previous philosophers and then he presents his criticisms in detail. Al-Ghazali wrote the book because, in his view, some of the philosophers' views were not in line with or against the teachings of a religion or the Qur'an in particular.

Responding to the book Tahafut al-Falasifah Al-Ghazali, Ibn Rushd who was born in 1126 in Cordova, Andalusia wrote his book entitled Tahafut at-Tahafut (Confusion from confusion). If Al-Ghazali wrote in the spirit that some philosophers' views or problems in philosophy were contrary to religious teachings, Ibn Rushd wrote in the spirit that the problems in philosophy did not contradict religious teachings at all. Ibn Rushd in his Tahafut at-Tahafut answers all twenty questions criticized by al-Ghazali in detail.

In the twenty issues raised by Al-Ghazali in Tahafut al-Falasifah, three issues make Al-Ghazali think that the philosophers were infidels, including "The Eternity of Nature, God's Ignorance of Something Particular, and the Absence of Physical Awakening". These three issues made al-Ghazali think that philosophers had opposed religion and became infidels because they followed the confused thoughts of Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Galen, Plotinus and so on.

In this short article, I will only discuss the three main issues written above out of a total of twenty issues discussed by Al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd to shorten the description and fulfil the task of the paper which only allows this description of five pages.

Al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd did not live at the same time, therefore the debate in this book does not occur in two directions. In the book Tahafut al-Falasifah and Tahafut at-Tahafut, there are only quotes from previous thoughts and only after that both Al Ghazali and Ibn Rushd commented on them systematically and in detail.

1. Eternity of Nature

The conservation of nature is the thought of the Greek philosopher named Aristotle. Philosophers such as Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd and theologians especially Al-Ghazali, each of them both believed that nature was created and had a cause. However, the difference between the two is that philosophers state that nature was not created in time, this means that nature is eternal in the sense that the existence of nature coincides with the existence of God. So according to philosophers, there is no pause or time when nature was created. While theologians especially Al-Ghazali stated that nature was created in time or new, this means that there was a pause when this world was created with the presence of God who had no beginning. So there was a time when there was only God, while nature had not yet been created. The arguments for each will be explained below.

According to the philosophers, nothing new can originate from the eternal and this is by the principle of the identity of cause and effect. This means that if God is an eternal cause, it will produce an eternal effect as well. If God is the perfect cause, then the effect will be certain. Therefore, philosophers believe that nature is eternal, that is, it exists when God exists. Thus, the existence of nature coincides with the existence of God and there is no time gap between when there is God and then after a while nature exists. Philosophers assume that nature was formed because of the presence of God. Usually, philosophers make an analogy like the sun and light that exist simultaneously, namely when there is sun, at that time there is also light.

If it is assumed that nature came into existence after some time, in other words, that nature came into existence after it was gone, then this means that nature at that time was still in a possible state. So the absence of nature at that time was due to the absence of a determinant or the will to make it happen. If then nature exists after it was gone, then we still ask whether the determinant has encouraged the creation of nature or not? If not, then the natural conditions will be the same as before, namely in the possible state. If the determinant pushes, then we still question who created the universe? Why had he only appeared now, and not before? In addition, if nature is new or manifested after the previous absence, then this will necessitate a change in God's self. Because if God remains and does not change, then nature will not be created, because before God's creation it was fixed, and after God's creation, it was also constant.

Al-Ghazali in answering the statements of the philosophers mentioned above proposed the idea of ​​an eternal will. What this means is that the new can emerge from the absolute eternal, that is, by eternal will. So according to Al-Ghazali nature appears with an eternal will and at the same time when the will exists. By the will of God, the non-existence will last until the very end and the existence of nature will begin when the will to manifest it begins. Thus, it means that when God has not willed nature to exist, then nature does not exist, and when God wishes to make nature exist, then nature exists.

In refuting Al-Ghazali's argument about the eternal will or in the creation of a new world, Ibn Rushd begins by paying close attention to the difference between the two concepts, namely action and will which is predicated on God. According to Ibn Rushd, assuming that nature comes into existence after a time interval which God wills eternally is acceptable, but not followed by God's actions. This means that when God acts, the product of God's action must exist directly unless God is not omnipotent. Therefore, there is no time gap between God's actions and their products. This means that nature is seen as a product of God's actions, not His will.

In addition, the will is the desire to perform a certain action and when it has been done, the desire will stop. Thus to establish an eternal will in the creation of a new world is contrary to what is meant by the will itself.

2. God's Ignorance of Something Particular

The opinion about God's ignorance of something particular was also originally the fruit of Aristotle's thought which considered God as the First Mover. The idea of ​​God that developed in philosophy in the Islamic world is a mixture of the Good God of Plato, the God as the first mover of Aristotle and the theory of emanation of the One God of Plotinus.

Philosophers such as Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina say that God knows Himself as well as other than Himself, but He knows it universally. God knows everything universally according to them so that God's knowledge does not change and remains, so that if it is assumed that this is not the case (knowing specifically) then God's knowledge will change and this necessitates that God himself will change because of the new knowledge that enters himself. God.

In Tahafut al-Falasifah, Al-Ghazali in explaining the opinion of the philosophers on this matter is to give an example of a solar eclipse. In the process of a solar eclipse, there are three processes and conditions, namely; first, when the sun has not yet eclipsed, this is the state in which the eclipse will occur. Second, when an eclipse occurs, this is the state where the eclipse is happening, and thirdly, when the eclipse has occurred, this means that the eclipse has ended and the eclipse has already existed. If one thing knows something else like this, there will be a change in the knowing subject. This is because previously the subject only knew of an eclipse that had not yet occurred and after it happened, only then did he know that an eclipse was happening and so after that. The philosophers claim that God does not have different states as mentioned above because something that is permanent and does not change can not be imagined to know these states.

However, philosophers claim that God knows solar eclipses from the beginning without any difference. For example, God knows that the sun exists, because the sun is His result or emanated from Him through immaterial minds. Then He also knows that the sun will experience movement until it can finally meet at the same point as the moon so that an eclipse occurs and so on. All that God knows universally.

The example above is about something that can be divided through time. Likewise, things that exist in space and matter such as horses, cows, humans and others. In this regard, philosophers say that God does not know the details of events that happened to horses, cows, or humans personally. However, He knows it universally, as do humans, animals, and the potentialities of these events. He knows that in the human body there are several organs, then humans have the power of perception to perceive things outside of themselves. But all that is known to Him universally.

As for how the individual personally does not know it because that particular knowledge is captured by the senses, not reason, other than that the object is changing. While the mind in knowing something is not like that, meaning that the mind knows something universally.

The above opinion according to al-Ghazali is very contrary to religious teachings. For example, God does not know Islam or obedience and disbelief in individuals caused by his actions under certain circumstances. Then God does not know humans (individuals) personally because God only knows humans universally.

In discussing God's knowledge, Ibn Rushd criticizes Ibn Sina because he considers the model of knowledge to be universal or in other words God knows everything universally. However, Ibn Rushd also rejected al-Ghazali's criticism that the philosophers had reduced God's knowledge of knowing everything. Because according to al-Ghazali knowledge is the result of life.

According to Ibn Rushd, we cannot predict God's knowledge in a universal or particular fashion by analogy to human knowledge. Because according to him the mode of human knowledge is different from God's mode of knowledge. Human knowledge is the result of something known, while God's knowledge is the cause of something known. Thus the knowledge predicted to God and man is vague or dichotomy because God's knowledge is the cause of existing entities, while the existing entity is the cause of human knowledge.

3. Absence of Physical Awakening

Islamic philosophers such as al-Farabi and Ibn Sina said that in the afterlife the resurrection is only spirit and not physical resurrection is the influence of Greek philosophy, especially the theory of the world of ideas from Plato. Al-Ghazali refutes this in his Tahafut al-Falasifah book because in the Qur'an itself it is said that humans will experience various physical pleasures in heaven or physical misery in hell.

Regarding this third issue, Ibn Rushd accused Al-Ghazali of saying contradictory things. In his book "Tahafut al-Falasifah" Al-Ghazali writes that there are no Muslims who think that the resurrection will occur only in a spiritual form. But in another book Al-Ghazali writes that for the Sufis awakening will occur only in a spiritual form, not in a physical form. Thus there is no consensus regarding the resurrection of the Day of Judgment, both in physical and spiritual forms. Therefore, the philosophers who argue that there is no physical resurrection cannot be disbelieved.

According to Ibn Rushd, it is not true what Al-Ghazali said that the philosophers denied the physical resurrection. Physical awakening has spread at least a thousand years ago (from the time of Ibn Rushd) during the time of the Israelites. Even their faith in the resurrection is greater and highly respected because this issue can be used to guide people in achieving personal happiness.

Ibn Rushd argues that it is only for ordinary people that the issue of awakening needs to be described in a physical form because physical awakening encourages them to do good works. For ordinary people, physical resurrection is easier to grasp by imagination than very abstract philosophical explanations of spiritual awakening will make them feel afraid or motivated to carry out or stay away from God's commands because they are easy to visualize.

Faith in the physical resurrection is a must for the realization of moral virtues, theoretical virtues, and outward practices because one will not get a real-life in this world except by outward deeds.

In closing this assignment, there is a quote that I think is extraordinary from Ibn Rushd when defending philosophers from accusations of infidelity which reads more or less "We know very well that logical thinking will not go against religion because the truth will not oppose the truth. One truth will strengthen the other truth".

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1 year ago


Lol Out of our thought this is bro but we have read on book nature created time to time

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1 year ago

this is an old thought, it's just that many people don't know and have never read it. Al Ghazali and Ibn Rushd have lived hundreds of years ago

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1 year ago

got it bro .. there has many thing to know still

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1 year ago

It must. We have to dig up more information

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1 year ago

yah bro yah

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1 year ago