March 04, 2004

Memory lane

Every once in a while, I'm reminded of an old post -- largely because someone leaves a comment on something I'd forgotten about. I rather enjoyed being reminded of this one, culled mostly from the late Alija Izetbegovic's Notes from Prison: 1983-1988. Here's a sample:

A characteristic symptom of the stagnation of Islamic thought was the habit of writing "comments on comments," while the original works that were subject to the comments had sunk almost completely into oblivion. Medressas were reduced to four theological subjects: hadith, fikh, kalam (theology) and tesfir. The Qur'anic advice to "observe the sky" was completely forgotten, as noticed by the Turkish writer Katib Kelebi (seventeenth century) in his book The Equilibrium of the Truth. Even the comments were often reduced to superficial word games, verbal debates and grammatical pedantry. Some books on Arab syntax, known as Kafiya, were given mystical interpretation by some authors (?!). Mysticism infiltrated everything. Another phenomenon: learning by heart and endless memorizing, repetition instead of the search for knowledge. All these were the symptons or causes of overall stagnation.

The Notes from Prison are a worthwhile read.

Posted by Ideofact at March 4, 2004 11:03 PM
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