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The Elements of Islamic Metaphysics

(Bidayat al-Hikmah)
Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i
Translated and annotated by Sayyid ‘Ali Quli Qara’i
Published by the Islamic College for Advanced Studies (ICAS),
133 High Road
London NW10 2SW
United Kingdom
191pp £11.99

The Elements of Islamic Metaphysics signals a new approach to the teaching of Islamic philosophy. It provides a useful overview of twentieth-century philosophy in Iran, and traces the development of philosophical thought in the context of a religious tradition whose intellectual character was determined to a large extent by the contents of the Qur’anic revelation and the prophetic teachings. At the same time it attempts to demonstrate how philosophical thought is by nature independent of religious doctrine and differs from theology, which depends on revelation and tradition. A salient feature of the Islamic intellectual tradition has been the conviction that there can be no conflict between reason and revelation.
Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i (1902-1981) was born in a village near Tabriz, a city in north-western Iran. His best known work, al-Mizan, is a monumental exegesis of the Qur’an in twenty volumes (in the original Arabic). He is also respected as a philosopher and mystic. His writings have been translated into English and several other European languages.

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