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Professor Hussam Alalussi


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Professor Hussam Alalussi (1934-2013) is an Iraqi thinker, specialized in Islamic Philosophy, a defendant of Marxism and Philosophy of Science.

His Studies and Scientific Positions

Professor Alalussi earned the License of philosophy from Baghdad University on 1956, and PhD in Philosophy on 1965 from University of Cambridge. He worked as a professor of Islamic philosophy in Baghdad, Tripoli, Kuwait and Sana'a Universities, in addition he is a consultant for several scientific magazines.

His Philosophical Project

The philosophical project of Professor Alalussi is centered on reading Islamic Philosophical heritage (Al-Turath) from a rational modernist contemporary view. He uses in his reading a dialectical, historical and social methodology. The aim of his project is to correct our view to Islamic traditional thought. Hence, his project is essentially critical, however, such a critical stance paves the way for the appearance of an authentic contemporary Arabic philosophy. For, correcting our view to heritage entails a greater freedom of thought, and consequently a greater chance for the appearance of such an authentic philosophy.

In 'my philosophical experience', he describes this position as follow,

The area of Arabic and Islamic philosophical thought is my specialization… with respect to my book studies in Islamic philosophy, it is a collection of studies. Each one introduces new results, points out to new routs, and corrects judgments. This applies to our research 'Alghazali a problem and a solution', 'The theory of emanation of Alfarabi from a contemporary critical view', as well as 'Division of sciences and the appearance of the Arab/Islamic thought'…Some of my books contain history but not for history for other purposes…

I have introduced several studies on the Arabic heritage, on theological Arabic reason, manifestations of such a reason and its effectiveness, from one side, and on the formulation of a rigid mentality against diversity and freedom of thought, from the other; what is the problematic of the Arabic reason?, what is the nature of the product of the ancient Arab/Islamic philosophical thought and what is its achievements?, such as studying the problematic of the Arabic theology, or studying models and forms of Arabic reason and rationality, in addition to two research works on 'Orientalism'. These all delineate our methodology and our view to the Arabic heritage (Alturath), which certainly see no alternative of contemporary thought.

Professor Alalussi is also concerned with philosophy of science, especially with problems related in one way or other to his basic concern, which is correction of our understanding of our philosophical heritage. He expresses this in 'My philosophical experience' as follows,

My interest with philosophy of science is represented in my book 'On scientific philosophy' and my book 'Evolution' in two parts, as well as several published research works such as 'the theory of evolution in its historical and critical frame', 'A changing world', 'The sociological impact of the theory of evolution', 'Time in philosophy of science' and 'Space in philosophy of science' in addition to 'Philosophy and science an integration not contradiction'.

In addition the vision of Alalussi to the relation between Islamic philosophy and Western modernist thought is based on continuation and integration. From one side he adopts the modernist concept of 'human advancement', but form the other he rejects Euro-centrism and limiting the role of Islamic thought to the role of preserving the Greek legacy, which is also a modernist concept.

In the introduction of his book 'Time in Religious and philosophical thought and philosophy of science', printed 2005, he introduces his view of the relation between Islamic philosophy and medieval and modern western thought. Generally, he views that many modern concepts, especially those related to theology, eternity, time and existence, are based clearly on its counterparts in Islamic philosophy,

 This simple example gives support to the intuition of philosophical continuity – which is not an intuition in any way for some theorists. I have thought for long time in this 'complete resemblance' between ancient thought about time, or more specifically about being finite or infinite. As much, the matter is related to the relation between God and time, and the importance of the opinion of Augustine about the concept of time, which will be the key concept for many of the modernist thinkers who dealt with the problem of 'the reality of time'. I say that I looked at this direct resemblance and I found the gap still wide historically between ancient and medieval thought and the modern one since Descartes and Leibniz later on. Specifically, I mean that there have not been enough efforts to study the effects of the medieval philosophical thought, specially the Islamic one, on modern philosophy. It is certain that the debt of the Christian medieval philosophers to Muslim philosophers is great, or it should be so. For many of the insights of modern philosophers - for example Leibniz in the problem of 'probability without a cause' in order to prove eternity of the world with God - the key and the focal point of such problems exists in the works of Muslim philosophers, and exists in a simpler form in the works of Christian philosophers, especially Thomas Aquinas, as well as the different schools in Paris University, whether with or against Ibn Rushd.

In this context it is important to make two points clear:

First: the Western European reader may have thought that what Christian medieval philosophers have come up with is their own novel ideas. In view of adoption of Greek philosophy as the origin of philosophy, and in view that he is not informed with the role of Islamic philosophy, he has the right to commend Christian medieval philosophers. However, I say without reservation that students should give an additional importance to the details of the medieval Christian philosophy to establish its dependence on Muslim philosophers. In any case, I have convincing evidences, through my own specific studies of the problem of existence and creation and eternity of the world in the works of Muslim philosophers, and from my limited readings in the medieval Christian thought.

Second: the European reader may have fallen in a double error, or to be more safe he has imagined, that what modern European philosophers have come up with concerning the problem of existence and its related arguments is their own novel invention. Hence, the question is big, and we can define the tasks as follows:

First: we have to define the particulars that Christian medieval philosophy has taken from the Islamic philosophical thought.

Second: we have to define the particulars which modern European philosophy have taken from the Christian medieval thought, and if possible in case direct relations are found, from the medieval Islamic thought.

 Consequently, the chains of thought will be integrated and made continuous. Here, I don't mean general guidelines, for this is clear only a few argues about it, but I mean to follow the thorough details. Hence, it is not enough to say that there is an effect, but what it is? In which particular problem? To what extent? This is a very important task that philosophy students should pursue, especially in our countries. (P11-13)

His Methodology

On the side of his methodology, Alalussi employs an analytical-synthetically methodology, demarcated by being dialectical, social and historical, "First, it views the human activities as part of a natural movement in general, on the basis of unity of material laws which expresses unity of the social and the material. Second, not separating philosophical position from its social, economic, and historical context" (the philosophical authenticity of Alalussi, P. 7-8)

Alalussi describes his Methodology in 'My philosophical experience' as follows,

With respect to method and basic rules for philosophical study, I point out the following:

1- To study the subject in accordance to a methodology that is based on relating it to its social basis, literature, and accumulated knowledge.

2- Attention to the whole or the structure while studying the part, or theory, or text.

3- To be careful from disintegration of the subject.

4- To give up the eclectic way in studying Islamic heritage (Turath).

5- Dialectic, this is evident in our view to our philosophical heritage.

6- Continuity, against chauvinism, such as the myth of the Greek miracle.

His Most Important Works

·        The Problem of Creation in Islamic Thought (in English) 1968.

·        From Mythology to Philosophy, 1973.

·        Studies in Arab/Islamic Philosophical Thought, 1980.

·        Philosophy and Human being, 1990.

·        Time in Religious and Philosophical Thought and Philosophy of Science, 2005.



·        'My Philosophical Experience' – Aladeeb (in Arabic)

·        'The philosophical authenticity of Alalussi', Ali Hussein Aljabry, The Arabic Philosophical Magazine, no.3, 1994. (in Arabic)