Relationship Between Religion and Philosophy in Islamic Circles

Part One: Renaissance Ideas

As Islam spread across large regions, Muslim scholars began to adopt ideas from Ancient philosophers. In the following passages, we read some thoughts about the role of Aristotle in Muslim and Renaissance Italian political thought. The first passage was written by Muslim scholar Mohammed Al-Farabi.

Now when one receives instruction.., if he perceives their ideas themselves with his intellect, and his assent to them is by means of certain demonstration, then the science that comprises these cognitions is philosophy. Therefore, according to the ancients [Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates], religion is an imitation of philosophy. Both comprise the same subjects and both give an account of the ultimate principles of the beings. For both supply knowledge about the first principle and cause of the beings, and both give an account of the ultimate end for the sake of which man is made – that is, supreme happiness – and the ultimate end of every one of the other beings. In everything of which philosophy gives an account based on intellectual perception or conception, religion gives an account based on imagination. In everything demonstrated by philosophy, religion employs persuasion. It follows, then, that the idea of Imam, Philosopher and Legislator is a single entity. ~ Al-Farabi (ca. 870-950)

Islam. (n.d.). Islam.
Retrieved from 
http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/source/arab-y67s11.asp

The following passage comes from medieval thinker Roger Bacon:

The next consideration from effects is taken by comparing our state with that of the ancient Philosophers; who, though they were without that quickening grace which makes man worthy of eternal life, and where into we enter at baptism, yet lived beyond all comparison better than we, both in all decency and in contempt of the world, with all its delights and riches and honors; as all men may read in the works of Aristotle Seneca, Tully [Cicero], Plato, Socrates, and others; and so it was that they attained to the secrets of wisdom and found out all knowledge. But we Christians have discovered nothing worthy of those philosophers, nor can we even understand their wisdom; which ignorance of ours springs from this cause, that our morals are worse than theirs. For it is impossible that wisdom should coexist with sin. But certain it is that, if there were so much wisdom in the world as men think, these evils would not be committed. And therefore, when we see everywhere (and especially among the clergy) such corruption of life, then their studies must needs be corrupt. Many wise men considering this, and pondering on God’s wisdom and the learning of the saints and the truth of histories have reckoned that the times of Antichrist are at hand in these days of ours. ~ Roger Bacon ca. 1271

Paul Halsall (1996) Medieval Sourcebook: Roger Bacon: Despair over Thirteenth Century Learning
Retrieved from 
http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/source/bacon1.asp

Question

Based on these words, what can we say about the relationship between religion and philosophy in Islamic circles? In Christian Renaissance circles? Since both passages are drawing from the same ancient philosophers, what does this tell us about the origins of the Renaissance? Write 200 – 250 words.

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