Menu Close

When Islam Abandoned Reason2 min read

Listen to this article

closingofthemuslimmindRobert R. Reilly, who has more accomplishments than I can list, has written a fascinating historical account of 9th century Islam, and how the more Hellenic (Greek) version of Islam, which viewed reason and faith as complementary, was ousted by the anti-reason school of thought led by Al Gazali.1

In his book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis, Reilly does not reject Islam directly, but claims that Islam as we know it took form in the 9th century, and all Islam is now essentially Islamism. He defines Islam(ism) this way:

Islamism is a spiritual pathology based on the deformed theology that has produced a dysfunctional society. If you get the idea of who God is wrong [so profoundly], it will affect everything in your culture.

Al Ghazali, the father or the anti-rational, anti-Hellenic spiritual view that has taken over Islam, wrote this:

“Once you arrive at the truth of the Prophet, the mind must cease to act.”

In addition, Reilly outlines why cause and effect is rejected in Islam, because only Allah can be the cause of events and behaviors in nature.

The audio below (Source: American Conservative University Podcast) is a compilation of two interviews – one on The Janet Mefford Show, the second his first of two lectures at The Institute for Catholic Culture.


What This Means

  1. Islam may be by nature anti-reason. Islam’s “Golden Age” was the product of the Hellenistic influence which also informed Christianity before it. But Mohammed’s teachings somehow  could not bear up under the pressure of reason, leaning too heavily on Divine Command Theory and other absolutisms in its foundational teachings.
  2. Moderate Islam has a small chance here. There may be hope for a moderate Islam IF it can recover its pre-Al-Ghizali, hellenistic version. But I doubt it.

Robert R. Reilly Resources

  1. The Rise and Fall of Mu‘tazilism ([]