Monday, March 9, 2009

“absurd and inconsistent fables” by "a charlatan, a fraudulent trickster"

Guess what and whom Al-Razi was talking about?

Emerging Muslim Freethinkers and the Battle of Civilizations

. . . [T]he Islamic world once excelled the rest in the so-called Golden Age of Islam (800–1200 CE).

. . . [A] deviation from true Islam set the emergence of the Islamic Golden Age in motion, albeit on the wings of heresy and theological compromise of all sorts. We see the greatest-ever Muslim scientist and thinker, Al-Razi (d. 945), calling Prophet Muhammad a charlatan, a fraudulent trickster; responding to Allah’s challenge of creating a book like the Quran, he called it an assorted mixture of “absurd and inconsistent fables”. The writings of Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and Hippocrates—he asserted—contained much greater wisdom and brought greater service to humanity than the Holy Scriptures, which brought more harm than good.

The Time of Al-Razi
Second Half of Ninth Century

The whole ninth century was essentially a Muslim century. This more clear in the second half than of the first, since all the scientific leaders were Muslims, or at any rate were working with and for Muslims and wrote in Arabic.

And from

Al-RAZI (Rhazes):

" . . . God has provided what we need to know, not in the arbitrary and divisive gift of special revelation, which only foments bloodshed and contention, but in reason, which belongs equally to all. Prophets are impostors, at best misled by the demonic shades of restless and envious spirits. But ordinary men are fully capable of thinking for themselves and need no guidance from another. One can see their intelligence and ingenuity in the crafts and devices by which they get their living, for it is here that they apply their interest and their energy. Intellectuals who have not devoted their energies, say, to mechanical devices would be baffled by the skills and techniques of such men; but all human beings are capable of the independent thinking that is so critical to human destiny. It is only because the philosopher has applied himself to abstract speculations that he has attained some measure of understanding in intellectual matters.

Asked if a philosopher can follow a prophetically revealed religion, al-Razi openly retorts: 'How can anyone think philosophically while committed to those old wives' tales, founded on contradictions, obdurate ignorance, and dogmatism (muqim 'ala 'l-i¦htilafat, musirr 'ala 'l-djahl wa 'l-taqlid)?' Al-Razi takes issue with ritualism for what he sees as its obsession with unseen and unseeable sources of impurity; but he also combats the natural tendency of his contemporaries to think of philosophy as a dogmatic school or even a sect, their expectation that a philosopher should believe and behave as Socrates or Plato did. Like many philosophers, he has difficulty explaining to others that philosophical disagreements and divergences of outlook are not a scandal but a source of vitality. A philosopher, he urges, does not slavishly follow the actions and ideas of some master. One learns from one's predecessors, to be sure, but the hope is to surpass them. Al-Razi admits that he will never be a Socrates, and cautions against anyone's expecting in short order to rival Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Eudemus, Chrysippus, Themistius or Alexander of Aphrodisias. But he also affirms a belief in progress, at least for
individuals, and denies that one is trapped within the teachings of the great founders of traditions: 'You must realise,' he tells Abu Hatim, 'that every later philosopher who commits himself creatively (idjtahada), diligently, and persistently to philosophical inquiry where subtle difficulties have led his predecessors to disagree, will understand what they understood and retain it, having a quick mind and much experience of thought and inquiry in other areas. Rapidly mastering what his predecessors knew and grasping the lessons they afford, he readily surpasses them. For inquiry, thought and originality make progress and improvement inevitable.' The smallest measure of original thought, even if it does not reach unrevisable truth, al-Razi insists, helps to free the soul from its thrall in this world and secure for us that immortality which was so wrongly described and so vainly promised by the prophets.


Iranian Muslim Philosopher
Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi (864-930 A.D.) was born at Ray, Iran. Initially, he was interested in music but later on he learned medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and philosophy from a student of Hunayn Ibn Ishaq, who was well versed in the ancient Greek, Persian and Indian systems of medicine and other subjects. He also studied under Ali Ibn Rabban. The practical experience gained at the well-known Muqtadari Hospital helped him in his chosen profession of medicine. At an early age he gained eminence as an expert in medicine and alchemy, so that patients and students flocked to him from distant parts of Asia.

From . . .

The Alchemy web site on
History of Islamic Science 3
Based on the bookIntroduction to the History of Science
by George Sarton
(provided with photos and portraits)
Edited and prepared by Prof. Hamed A. Ead
These pages are edited by Prof. Hamed Abdel-reheem Ead, Professor of Chemistry at the Faculty of Science -University of Cairo, Giza, Egypt and director of the Science Heritage Center

The Persian al-Razi was simply the greatest clinician of Islam and of the whole middle ages; he was also, as we have seen, a chemist and physicist. It would be difficult to choose between him and his contemporary al-Battani: both were very great scientist who would have been conspicuous in any age. I decide to call this period "The Time of al-Razi" because the physician is known to the larger public than the astronomer, and also because his influence can be traced more directly throughout many centuries of human effort, East and West. I have already remarked that al-Razi might be considered to be one of the forerunners of the iatrochemists of the Renaissance. He wrote an immense medical encyclopaedia called Al-hawi ("Continens") and a monograph on measles and smallpox which is the masterpiece of Muslim medicine. Ya'qub ibn akhi Hizam was the author of a treatise on horsemanship, which contains some rudiments of veterinary art, the earliest work of its kind in Arabic.

The Time of Al-Razi

AKA Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi
Born: c. 865 AD
Birthplace: Ray, Persia
Died: 27-Oct-925 AD
Location of death: Ray, Persia
Cause of death: unspecified
Gender: Male
Religion: Muslim
Race or Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
Occupation: Doctor, Scholar, Philosopher
Nationality: Ancient Persia
Executive summary: Persian alchemist, discovered sulfuric acid

Birthday Is Holiday Razi Day (27 Aug, Iran) Risk Factors: Blindness

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