By G. E. Von Grunebaum
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Additional info for Islam: Essays in the Nature and Growth of a Cultural Tradition
But as faith necessitates the harmonization of the personal or the school viewpoint with Revelation, philosophical, mystical, and any kind of partisan exegesis, best served by allegorical interpretation, is unavoidable. But, even upon acceptance of a generous measure of interpretative elasticity, the Koran will not resolve every problem of the religious life. It is necessary to fall back on the sunna, the prophetic custom or tradition, as a second authority. In the absence of a koranic line, a private saying of the Prophet or a contemporary report on his behavior in a given situation will be decisive.
But there was an overwhelming feeling for the oneness of the Muslim community and a realization that any political sacrifice was justified to enable the community to continue under the Law as far as possible. Ghazzâlî says: There are those who hold that the imâmate is dead, lacking as it does the required qualifications. But no substitute can be found for it. What then? Are we to give up obeying the law? Shall we dismiss the qadis, declare all authority to be valueless, cease marrying and pronounce the acts of those in high places to be invalid at all points, leaving the populace to live in sinfulness?
The Prophet is alleged to have prayed to God to protect him against useless knowledge. Orthodox theology inclined toward an interpretation of “useful” as necessary or helpful for the practice of religion, ‘amal. In this manner two semi-independent strands of intellectual effort were cultivated side by side, with the ancient sciences slowly losing out in the perpetual struggle between the theological and the philosophical-scientific approach. The civil wars shifted the political center of the empire from Arabia, first to Syria and then (ca.
Islam: Essays in the Nature and Growth of a Cultural Tradition by G. E. Von Grunebaum