Unlike Saraji, I briefly did philosophy when I was in college (AS-level, one year, 1994-5). A little of it was interesting, much of it was boring and some of it was profoundly disturbing. We did Plato, René Descartes, JS Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche and David Hume. I mentioned this list of names to my Mum, and I remember her reciting the Monty Python Philosophers’ Song, which included the couplet, “René’ Descartes was a drunken old fart - I drink, therefore I am”. I don’t remember much about Hume other than that his book was boring, and that he went on about whether the future is conformable to the past, i.e. whether one can predict future events from past patterns. Nietzsche was profoundly disturbing - he advocated something called “the will to power” and attacked morality and non-aggression as a slave mentality. Plato suggested that people be divided up at an early age into “gold” people (the philosopher élite), “siver” people (the military) and “bronze” people (everyone else). Perhaps this was what was in the British politicians’ heads when they set up the tripartite education system, which creamed off the bright kids (according to one exam at age 11) and sent them to grammar school if they could afford the uniform, and consigned most others to “secondary modern” schools which got considerably less funding.
Plato enjoyed popularity among some sections of the Muslim community in the Abbasid period, and Platonism was roundly trashed by the scholars of Islam. Disturbingly Nietzsche is being advocated among Muslims by a certain group which apparently has enough time on its hands in between learning about their deen. Its founder has even written a book called The New Wagnerian and another on a fictitious composer, and his followers are known to listen to unashamedly listen to music in their “ribats”. This movement is not that big although it has published many books, so insha Allah the fondness for Wagner will not grow so big amongst Muslims that one of the greatest scholars of Islam will have to write an anti-Nietzsche tract!
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