A Report of the Two-Day Specialized Conference of “Ibn Sina and Islamic Philosophers”


The 12th Conference from the series of conferences on reviewing and revisiting the history of philosophy, titled “Ibn Sina and Islamic Philosophers” (the development of Islamic philosophy in 350-550 AH) was held on 18-19 October, 2011 in Talash Cultural-Sport Complex by the Sadra Islamic Philosophy Institute with the cooperation of the Scientific Society of History of Philosophy. This national Conference, which was held alongside many other research activities in order to attain the purposes of the Center for Compiling a Comprehensive History of Philosophy, began at 9.00 am on Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, with presence of Professor Seyyed Mohammed Khamenei and many of the authorities in the field of philosophy and continued until afternoon on Wednesday 18 October, 2011 with the presentation of selected speeches.

The Conference was greatly welcomed by philosophy professors, university students, and other interested groups. From among the several papers sent to the Conference Secretariat, 79 of them were accepted. On the first day of the Conference, 14 professors and experts on Islamic philosophy presented their speeches in three sessions. On the second day, 18 professors and researchers delivered their speeches in three sessions.

On the first day, after listening to the recitation of some Qur’anic verses, Dr. Qasim Purhassan, the Scientific Secretary of the Conference and the chair of the morning session, spoke about Ibn Sina’s services to philosophy and Islamic logic. He also referred to Ibn Sina’s famous book, Danishname-ye ‘Alai’i, and maintained that it is the first philosophy book in Persian. Following him, the President of the Sadra Islamic Philosophy Institute, Professor Seyyed Mohammed Khamenei, delivered a speech titled “Ibn Sina: An Ishraqi Philosopher” and made a new claim as to Ibn Sina’s being an Ishraqi (Illuminationist) and not a Peripatetic philosopher. The next speaker was Dr. Reza Dawari Ardakani who presented a speech titled “Ibn Sina’s Status and Role in Rational Thought.” At the end of the Opening ceremony of the first day, Dr. Gholamreza A’awani spoke about “Ibn Sina and Thomas Aquinas.”

The speakers of the first day of the Conference were as follows:

First Session: Ayatullah Seyyed Hassan Mustafawi (Imam Sadiq University), Dr. Karim Mujtahidi (Tehran University).

Second Session: Dr. ‘Aynullah Khadimi (Shahid Raja’i University, Dr. Muhammed J’afar Harandi (Islamic Azad University, Shahr-e Rey Branch, Dr. Yahya Yathribi (‘Allamah Tabataba’i University), and Ayatullah Taha Muhammedi (Leader of Hamedan’s Friday Prayer and President of Bu Ali Institute).

Third Session: Dr. Hussein Kalbasi, Dr. Gholamhossein Rahimi, Dr. Maqsud Muhammedi, and Dr. Gholamhossein Ibrahimi Dinani.

On the second day of the Conference, the chosen speakers presented their speeches on different subjects in relation to Ibn Sina and Islamic philosophers. The speakers of this day were as follows:

Fourth Session: Dr. Reza Suleyman Heshmat, Dr. Hamid Reza Rasuli Sharabiyani, Dr. ‘Asghari Suleymani Amiri, and Dr. Nader Shukrullahi.

Fifth Session: Dr. Mas’ud Umid, Hujjat al-Islam Muhammed Muttaqi, and Dr. Hassan Fathi.

Sixth and Seventh Sessions: Dr. Mustafa Muhaqqiq Damad, Dr. Fereshteh Nadri Abyanah, Dr. Muhsen Jahid, Dr. Murtada Shajari, Dr. Yusuf Nozuhur, Dr. Reza Mahuzi, Dr. Munireh Seyyed Mazhari, Dr. Seyyed Mustafa Shahr Ayini, and Dr. Hussein Atrak.

All the selected 79 papers will be published in the Proceedings of Ibn Sina Conference by the Sadra Islamic Philosophy Institute in the future in order to make them available to all lovers of Islamic philosophy and wisdom.

Shi’ite Scholars as Guardians and Disseminators of Ishraqi Philosophy

Professor Seyyed Muhammed Khamenei, President of the Sadra Islamic Philosophy Institute and President of the Scientific Society of History of Philosophy, while arguing that Ibn Sina was an Ishraqi philosopher and emphasizing this idea due to his being a Shi’ite Muslim, asserted that the scholars of the school of Shi’ism have always tried to protect and spread Ishraqi Philosophy whether openly or secretly.

In the course of his speech titled “Ibn Sina: An Ishraqi Philosopher”, Professor Khamenei explained Ibn Sina’s philosophical teachings and claimed that he was always an Ishraqi philosopher. While expressing his regret about our never having a true historical knowledge of scholars and philosophers in its real sense of the word, he added that knowledge and knowers have always been treated with injustice in the course of history because whenever they wanted to introduce a scholar, they spoke of, for example, his birthday in relation to the ruling period of a specific king. He believed that this method of introducing scholars, in which their life is a marginal problem comparing to their being contemporary to certain kings, is a harsh cruelty to the field of thought and wisdom. Moreover, in many cases their ideas are not clearly understood by others.

In line with his arguments, he explained, “For example, Ibn Sina is always introduced as a Peripatetic philosopher while he himself stipulated that he did not believe in this school and criticized many of its principles. We see this point in the Introduction to Hikmat al-Mashriqiyyin. However, Professor Khamenei stated that there is no source or book from Ibn Sina on Ishraqi philosophy available to us, and thus it is very difficult to study and research this issue. He added that if we wish to explore Ibn Sina’s affiliation with Ishraqi philosophy, we must present some proofs and documented evidence many of which can be found in our books.

In order to support his claim, Professor Khamenei quotes Ibn Sina’s own words in the Introduction to Hikmat al-Mashriqiyyin, as follows: “Since most knowledge seekers have turned to Greek philosophy, we have quoted their words and justified them in order not to oppose them; however, there were some which could not be tolerated at all.” He also said that beyond the surface of Ibn Sina’s words are some meanings which forced him to deal with Peripatetic Philosophy. Nevertheless, the truth was that he did not work in the field of Ishraqi philosophy for his fear of certain people.

Professor Khamenei continued his words by asking why Ibn Sina and many other philosophers who were either Shi’ite or not related to the government of the time had to follow Peripatetic Philosophy. In response to this question, he first spoke about the Shi’ites’ activities at the beginning of the rise of Islam and argued that, after Imam Hussein (a) was martyred, Shi’ism had to follow a secret and underground life. He added that in all the religious groups branching from Shi’im, there were some missionaries who were heirs to Peripatetic philosophy. He claimed that these missionaries had some scientific conflicts with non-Shi’ites and, in a sense, advocates of caliphs, and one of their methods for discussion and dissemination of imamat (leadership) was resorting to the rational discussions in Peripatetic Philosophy. However, the government later discovered their secret and sent Ghazzali to oppose them in order to defend the Seljuks’ rule. Professor Khamenei maintained that they used Peripatetic Philosophy as an instrument, and Ibn Sina was no exception in this regard. In fact, he was in a way tied with political Shi’ites.

The speaker said that research on the history of Shi’ite and Isharqi philosophers has revealed that there have always been some connections between Shi’ism and Ishraqi philosophies, which were kept secret. One of the hidden points is that, unlike what is commonly known, they were Shi’ite scholars who guarded Isharqi philosophy either openly or under the guise of theology.

By referring to the fact the ‘Allamah Hilli taught Fakhr al-muhaqqiqin and Suhrawardi’s Hikmat al-ishraq to his son, and that Shahidin had also included Ishraqi Philosophy in their teaching program, Professor Khamenei emphasized that Ishraqi philosophy was basically a stand for Shi’ism rather than an educational course and was perhaps equated with Islamic gnosis.

He also posed the idea that, in namat 9 of al-Isharat, Ibn Sina clearly shows that this judgment was higher than illumination, and he himself was also a man of mystery and many secrets.

At the end of his speech, Professor Khamenei maintained that Ibn Sina was both a Peripatetic and an Ishraqi philosopher and expressed hope that this approach is followed in philosophical analyses of his work. This is because Ibn Sina shows his Ishraqi interests between the lines of his Peripatetic ideas.


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