Understanding Philosophy, History of Philosophy, and Islamic Philosophy

Etymologically, the word philosophy comes from Greek. Literally read philosophia. Consists of the word ‘philen’ which means ‘love’ or ‘chasing’ and ‘sophia’ which means wisdom or knowledge. [1] Then or ‘philosophy’ means love of wisdom or the pursuit of knowledge. [2]

In terminology, in English it is called “Philosophy” which means love of wisdom that leads to its search or knowledge of the principles of general elements, power, cause and law which are used as explaining facts and existence. (the love of wisdom as leading to the search for it; knowledge of general principles, powers, pr causes and laws – explaining fact and existence). [3] In KBBI, philosophy has the meaning of a knowledge that investigates with reason about the nature of everything that exists, the cause, origin, and laws, or the theory that underlies the mind or an activity or science that is rooted in logic, aesthetics, metaphysics , and epistemology. [4] As for Bertrand Russel in his book “The History of Western Philosophy”

“Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All definite knowledge–so I should contend-belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man’s Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man’s Land is philosophy”[5]

Sejarah Filsafat

History of Philosophy is one of the traditional central subfields of philosophy which might be considered a branch of the discipline of history rather than philosophy, which is known to be more concerned with the history of science and not the branch of science itself. The history of philosophy examines the great philosophers, the influence of one philosopher on another. Like how the influence of Aristotle’s thought in the thoughts of Aquinas, Husserl on Heidegger, or Frege in Russell’s thought. It also discusses the entire period in the development of philosophy, such as: Ancient Times; Medieval; The modern era; 19th century; and the period of the 20th Century to the present 21st Century. So, the discussion in the study of the history of philosophy is trying to understand great figures, their influence on others, and their importance for eternal and contemporary issues. [6]

Islamic philosophy

Islamic philosophy is the result of a person’s thinking about God, Prophethood, humanity, nature, the reality of ontology, views on the nature of space, time, and matter. In addition it also developed in the science of kalam, ul fiqh, and Sufism based on Islamic teachings as a form of logical and systematic flow of thought. Islamic philosophy seeks to combine revelation with reason, and to explain that revelation does not conflict with human reason. Some opinions say that Islamic philosophy is a thought born from the Islamic world to answer the challenges of the times relating to God and the universe, revelation and reason, religion and philosophy. It is also considered a discussion of nature and people who are illuminated by Islamic teachings. [7]

Oliver Leaman explained that the history of authentic Islamic philosophy did not have to be influenced by Greek philosophy. This is because according to him, before getting to know philosophy from Greece, Muslim scholars already knew the science that used reason to draw a law (what was meant was the Jurimbat of Jurisprudence and the Proposal of Fiqh). According to him the takwil and qiyas methods are philosophical activities. So, an orientalist from the University of Kentucky USA explains that if you consider Islamic philosophy to originate from the process of translating Greek texts or just an excerpt from Aristotelian or Neo-Platonic philosophy is a big mistake. The history of the authenticity of Islamic philosophy is not as described by Ernest Renan (1823-1893 AD) and Pierre Duhem (1861-1916 AD). [8]

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, explained that Islamic philosophy is a struggle for wisdom in the intellectual tradition of Islam. Then, when they met Greek philosophy, they combined and adapted to define Islamic philosophy according to Islamic thinkers. There are 6 points, including: 1) Philosophy (al-philosophy) is the knowledge of all existing things qua existents? 2) Philosophy is knowledge of divine and human matters 3) Philosophy is taking refuge in death, that is, love of death 4) Philosophy is becoming God-like to the extent of human abilities 5) It [philosophy] is the art of arts and the science (Him) of sciences. 6) Philosophy is predilection for wisdom. [9]

Adapun tentang filsafat yang original, Seyyed Hossein Nasr dalam bukunya yang berjudul “Islamic Philosophy from its Origin to the Present”, mengatakan bahwa filsafat Islam yang murni lahir dari pengajaran al-Qur’an:

“Islamic philosophy was born of philosophycal speculation on the heritage of Greco-Alexandrian philosophy, which was made available in Arabic in the third/ninth century, by Muslims who were immersed in the teaching of the Quran and lived in a universe in which revelation was a central reality.” [10]

On the other hand, the existence of Islamic philosophy has pros and cons. Islamic philosophy, if viewed from history, is a legacy of Islamic intellectual traditions. But not a few who are antipathy towards philosophy. This is because philosophy is considered an ‘imported item’ containing elements of atheism, secularism, relativism, pluralism and liberalism. If so, then philosophy is agreed to be rejected by the Ulemas. As for those who do not reject philosophy, trying to eliminate the heretical elements and defining philosophy are mental attitudes, processes of reason and wisdom. [11]

Culture to question the nature of what is around by using reason (as the philosophers do), is the culture of Islam taught in the Koran. The Qur’an talks about the importance of thinking widely, which mentions hundreds of times terms such as: Consider (Yāqilun), understand (yafqahun), study wisdom (yataffakarun), see (yanzurun), look ahead (yubsirun), contemplate (yātsarir), contemplate (yātabirun), speculate (yatadabbarun), contemplate (yāmalun). In other cases phrases such as: uli al-albab, uli al-absār, or uli nahī are used to draw attention to the functioning of the mind. [12]

Actually the culture of Islamic thinking which is often called Islamic philosophy is a system of thinking that has differences with Greek philosophy. Because the culture of critical questioning (philosophy) was known first in Greek culture, the culture of critical thinking brought by Islamic civilization after the Prophet Muhammad received the revelation of the Qur’an, people call it philosophy as well. Thus, Islam does not actually teach philosophy like Greek philosophy, but teaches how to think critically and teach wisdom, which is centered on faith in one God.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

Leave a Comment