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An Islamic Philosophy of Virtuous Religions
Introducing Alfarabi
An Islamic Philosophy of Virtuous Religions
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Joshua Parens - Author
Price: $95.00 
Hardcover - 180 pages
Release Date: February 2006
ISBN10: 0-7914-6689-2
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6689-6

Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 180 pages
Release Date: January 2007
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6690-2

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Explores the approach to peaceful religious coexistence offered by Alfarabi, the greatest Islamic political philosopher.

Joshua Parens provides an introduction to the thought of Alfarabi, a tenth-century Muslim political philosopher whose writings are particularly relevant today. Parens focuses on Alfarabi’s Attainment of Happiness, in which he envisions the kind of government and religion needed to fulfill Islam’s ambition of universal acceptance. Parens argues that Alfarabi seeks to temper the hopes of Muslims and other believers that one homogeneous religion might befit the entire world and counsels acceptance of the possibility of a multiplicity of virtuous religions. Much of Alfarabi’s approach is built upon Plato’s Republic, which Parens also examines in order to provide the necessary background for a proper understanding of Alfarabi’s thought.

“…an important theoretical contribution to the discussion on ‘political Islam’ and contemporary religious and political movements in the Muslim world.” — International Journal of Middle East Studies

“…Joshua Parens has made an eminently positive contribution to our understanding of medieval Islamic political philosophy.” — Speculum

“Timely and essential to the understanding of Islam, this book explores a classical Islamic writer’s reflections on the leading topic in Islamic and Western politics today: In what way should Muslims think about, and to what extent should they promote, the expansion of Islamic religion throughout the world? The book is practical in nature and addresses specific topics in Middle Eastern politics with resources from Alfarabi that have been available for one thousand years, yet have been ignored all too often. What is so important is that Alfarabi shows, from within Islam, what Muslims need to consider regarding science, philosophy, politics, and other religions. Islam does not need to turn to European or North American writers to find its own greatest strengths—Alfarabi is one of their own.” — Terence J. Kleven, Central College

“Parens offers an illuminating interpretation of Plato’s Republic, which is the model for Alfarabi’s political philosophy, and, in so doing, breaks new ground in Plato interpretation.” — David Burrell, author of Faith and Freedom: An Interfaith Perspective

Joshua Parens is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dallas and author of Metaphysics as Rhetoric: Alfarabi’s Summary of Plato’s “Laws,” also published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents


1. Introduction

Alfarabi ’s Life and His Influence
Alfarabi’s Manner of Writing

2. The Impossibility of the City in the Republic

Kallipolis as Ideal State or Totalitarian Nightmare?
The Three Waves and the Problem of Possibility
The First Wave
The Second Wave
The Digression on War
The Third Wave

3. The A Fortiori Argument

Alfarabi on the Republic in the Attainment of Happiness: Educating Philosopher-kings to Rule the Inhabited World, the Challenge
Tension in the “Unity of the Virtues”: Hard vs. Soft
The Uneasy Peace between Prudence and Wisdom

4. Alfarabi on Jihad

From iman vs. kufr to islam vs. harb
Alfarabi’s Aphorisms on Jihad
Aphorisms 67 and 79
Aphorisms 11–16
Aphorisms 68–76
Alfarabi’s Attainment of Happiness on Jihad
Challenges to Compelling Good Character

5. The Multiplicity Argument

The Increasing Tendency toward Conquest and Domination
The Task of Deliberation: Shaping a Multiplicity of Characters
The Task of Theoretical Virtue: Shaping a Multiplicity of Opinions
Religion as an Imitation of Philosophy

6. The Limits of Knowledge and the Problem of Realization

Knowledge and Exploitation
Attainment of Happiness
The Philosophy of Aristotle: The Limits of Our Knowledge of Final Causes
Certainty and the Knowledge of Universals and Particulars
The Limits of Knowledge and the Inherent Multiplicity of Religion


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