Logic in the Islamic Legacy: a General Overview

The Beginnings

The study ofmantiq was initially part of the foreign disciplines, and only in the twelfth century was it was accepted as an essential preliminary to a Muslim education. The other essential elements were the Islamic disciplines which prepared a scholar to read the Koran and Traditions, and to extract from them theological and legal doctrines. One such discipline was the etiquette of debate in which pragmatic arrangements stipulated for a debate about legal principles were extended to serve as rules for any kind of debate at all; it was to be replaced by dialectic by the fourteenth century. Certain other Islamic disciplines deal with language-related questions.

Muslim interest inMantiq and philosophy started in the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258), approximately two centuries after the advent of Islam. In the Prophetic and Rashidin era (the early few decades of Islam)Mantiq philosophy were almost unknown for different reasons. It was the 'nation building' era. The proximity to the Prophet's times and the fresh understanding of the religion which was not influenced by the inter-cultural encounters with other nations raised no need for philosophy. In the Ummayyad era which succeeded the Rashidin Caliphate philosophy andMantiq were the business of non Muslims of the newly incorporated countries such as Syria.

According to Ibn Khuldun's theory of associating prosperity of science with urbanization early Muslims did not show interest in the sciences of old nations as those Muslims were not urbanized yet. When the Islamic State was firmly established and became prosperous they turned their attention to those sciences. The cumulative nature of knowledge and the emergence of Islamic schools of thought and sects contributed to the spread of logic and philosophy as tools to be employed by different groups albeit within the framework of Islam.

The schism which erupted between the intellectual leadership and the political leadership, and the big schism between Islamic sects (in particular Shiaites and Sunni Muslims) led each party to draw upon the Koran and Hadith (Prophet's Tradition), employ exegesis and manipulate human interpretations in ways that were not known during the time of the Prophet and the Rashidin Caliphs. This coincided with the intercultural encounter between Muslims and other nations particularly those which represented the most important centers of earlier civilizations prior to be incorporated within the Islamic civilizational orbit. These cultures were introduced into the controversy.

The Abbasid Caliphate witnessed arousing passion for philosophy among the ruling elite and Muslim scholars. Philosophy, besides that, continued as a business for non Muslims. For Muslims it was meant to be employed in the intra-and-inter religious dialogue and debate.

The above developments ushered in the translation movement which aimed to introduce those cultures particularly the Greek philosophy into Arabic. The beginning was with the Syriac decoctions of philosophy then the Aristotelian texts and commentaries. The translation movement continued to pick up momentum through the 9th century and by the 830s a circle of translators were closely coordinated around Al Kindi (d. 870) who

produced a short overview of the whole Organon and members of his circle produced an epitome of and commentary on the Categories; an epitome of On Interpretation; a version of the Sophisticated Fallacies; and probably an early translation of the Rhetoric. The great Syriac Christian translators Hunayn ibn Ishâq (d. 873) and his son Ishâq ibn Hunayn (d. 910) began to produce integral translations of complete works from the Organon, generally by way of Syriac translations. They translated the Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics. Ishâq provided revised translations of the Topics and the Rhetoric.