St. Thomas Aquinas and Muslim Thought
Zulfiqar Ali Shah
Paperback, 314 pages
St. Thomas Aquinas, the most known medieval philosophical theologian; the stalwart of scholasticism; the Doctor of Church; and one of the most influential figures in Western Christianity, was greatly influenced by Muslim synthetic thought.
The gulf between reason and revelation, faith and philosophy or Jesus and Aristotle were wider in Christianity than in Islam. Aquinas bridged that gap with the help of Muslim philosophical thought. This work highlights Aquinas’ intersections with the great Muslim philosophers and their impact upon his personality. Aquinas widely quoted Muslim philosophers and theologians, including Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina, al-Farabi, al-Ghazali and al-Razi and acted upon their wisdom in many ways.
In the estimation of E. Renan, ”St. Thomas owes practically everything to Averroes.” The likes of A. M. Giochon, David Burrell and John Wippel among others asserted that Aquinas and his teacher Albert the Great were highly indebted to Ibn Sina.
Giochon noted that, “Avicenna was not only a source from which they all drew liberally, but one of the principal formative influences on their thought.” He read Latin translations of their works and incorporated many of their ideas, thoughts and arguments into his project.
Aquinas’ upbringing in Southern Italy and his geographical and intellectual affinity with Islamic civilisation played a significant role in his intellectual development. His thirteenth century Christendom was fully engaged with Muslims on multiple levels. His greater family was involved with the neighbouring Muslims of Lucera and Apulia and in the army of Frederick II.
Medieval Christianity’s transition from the Dark Ages was facilitated by Aquinas’ philosophical theology, which was also shaped by the translation of philosophical and scientific manuscripts from Arabic to Latin.
Aquinas was what he became partly due to these interfaith interactions, which are laid bare for the first time in this revelatory new book.
Zulfiqar Ali Shah received his BA and MA (Hons) in Comparative Religions from the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan and his PhD in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Wales, UK. He has taught at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, the University of Wales in the UK, the University of North Florida and Cardinal Stritch University in the US. He is the former president of the Islamic Circle of North America, Shariah Scholars Association of North America, the current Executive Director and Secretary General of the Fiqh Council of North America and Religious Director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee.