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By Richard C. Martin

Drawing on texts either old and glossy, this publication explores rational theology in Islam, from 9th and 10th century Mu'tazilism to rationalist modernist scholarship.

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Additional info for Defenders of Reason in Islam. Mu‘tazilism from Medieval School to Modern Symbol

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This reason/revelation dilemma had been stated several centuries earlier by Plato in a dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro. While waiting for his own trial, Socrates encountered Euthyphro, a pious young man who was bringing charges of manslaughter against his own father for having slain a servant (who was himself a murderer). "27Euthyphro replies that he is utterly certain about his own knowledge of the divine laws. "Zs Socrates challenges Euthyphro's claim to have a privileged knowledge of the minds of the gods - a knowledge that he cannot explain rationally to Socrates.

The latter's untimely death shortly after the appointment, as well as general resistance to the idea of giving power to the Shi'a, thwarted al-Ma'mun's plans, which nonetheless had the support of Baghdad Mu'tazili teachers such as Bishr ibn al-Mu'tamir. A few months before his death in 833, the caliph instructed the governor in Baghdad to require the state-appointed judges, the qadis, to have their theological views submitted to examination (mihna). The qadis were forced to assent publicly to the Mu'tazili doctrine that God's speech, the Qur'an, was created (khalq al-qur'an).

The problem has been that the starting point for Hanbali traditionalists, as for most Muslims, is revelation, and for the Mu'tazila it is reason. In this sense, the Mu'tazila were in the minority and thus they were more marginalized from the orthodox center than were the Hanbali traditionalists. This reason/revelation dilemma had been stated several centuries earlier by Plato in a dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro. While waiting for his own trial, Socrates encountered Euthyphro, a pious young man who was bringing charges of manslaughter against his own father for having slain a servant (who was himself a murderer).

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