Real Islamic Logic

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Real Islamic Logic Author:
Category: Ideological Concepts

Real Islamic Logic

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Jan Aldert Bergstra
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Download: 1328


Real Islamic Logic
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Real Islamic Logic

Real Islamic Logic


This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Real Islamic Logic

JanAldert Bergstra

University of Amsterdam


(March 24, 2011)


Thisworkispuplished on behalf of

The typing errors are not corrected.

Table of Contents

Abstract 5

1. Introduction 6

1.1 Logic applied to a specific religion 7

1.2 Usage of language 7

1.3 The problematic status of speculative thought 7

1.4 About the external position 8

1.5 Novelty remains to be seen 9

2 Four conceptions of Islamic Logic 10

2.1 Historic topic 10

2.2 Holistic conception 10

2.3 A manifestation of Jihad: Real Islamic Logic (RIL) 10

2.4 Cresent-star Logic 11

3 A community oriented description of Islam 13

3.1 Extension independent aspects of Islam 14

3.2 A stratified membership description 15

3.3 Qualification of views and activities 16

3.4 Some reflection on the use of a religious adjective 18

3.4.1 Religious labeling of material objects, books, theories and thoughts 19

3.4.2 An instrumental view on the label Islamic 20

4 Comparing Real Islamic Logic and Islamic Finance 21

4.1 Comparing IF and RIL in some detail 21

4.2 Comparing Crescent-star Finance and Crescent-star Logic 24

5 Objectives of Real Islamic Logic 25

5.1 Islamic Finance requires Real Islamic Logic 25

5.2 The role of Real Islamic Logic in more detail 25

5.3 Islamic Court Legal Proposition Processing 26

5.4 Technical objectives and methods of Real Islamic Logic (RIL) 27

5.5 Feasibility of RIL and RIL oriented research 29

6 Business ethics risk analysis for RIL development 30

6.1 Restating the orientation towards a RIL supported ICLPP 30

6.2 Working on the basis of randomized source documents 31

6.2.1 Centralization: a risk provoked by Islamic Finance? 31

6.2.2 Genetic programming needed? 32

6.3 Strengths,Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) 32

6.3.1 A SWOT from a simulated internal perspective 33

6.3.2 A SWOT diagram from an friendly external perspective 34

6.3.3 A SWOT diagram from a cautious external perspective 34

6.4 Integrating the SWOT diagrams 35

6.4.1 Moral issues concerning the outsider’s position 35

6.4.2 Comparison with defense system oriented research considered flawed 36

7 God’s existence as an AI motivated hypothesis 38

7.1 Making the existence of a god explicit 38

7.1.1 Irrationality of an existence assumption denied 38

7.1.2 Deductive, inductive, conductive, abductive, and productive arguments 39

7.2 Virtues of the existence assumption 40

7.3 Weaknesses of this “proof” 41

8 Concluding remarks 42

References 43

Notes 45


Four options for assigning a meaning to Islamic Logic are surveyed including a new proposal for an option named Real Islamic Logic (RIL). That approach to Islamic Logic should serve modern Islamic objectives in a way comparable to the functionality of Islamic Finance.

The prospective role of RIL is analyzed from several perspectives: (i ) parallel distributed systems design, (ii) reception by a community structured audience, (iii) informal logic and applied non-classical logics, and (iv) (in)tractability and artificial intelligence.

1. Introduction

Islamic Logic is often used as a label for Arabic logic which flourished between 900 and 1500. Indeed a rich literature on logic and philosophy has been produced which merits descriptions like Arabic Logic, Arabic School of Logic, and perhaps less plausible Islamic Logic. Many scholarly works have been written about that period and aspect of Arabic culture as well including the reception of Aristotelian logic.

Using Islamic Logic primarily as a pointer to a part of the history of logic is in marked contrast with the common usage of the phrase “Islamic Finance”, nowadays mainly perceived as an indication for a modern and thriving phenomenon which must not be understood through its centuries old historic roots but instead should preferably be understood as a form of Jihad.2

Consequential to the reception of Aristotelian logic, the logic of syllogisms has been criticized by Islamic scholars. The ample existence of this criticism may lead one to believe that Islam has been and perhaps still is rather pessimistic about logic.3 That far reaching conclusion, however, becomes less defensible if one imagines that these critical scholars simply saw no plausible way for Greek logicians to arrive at the universally quantified assertions from which they went onwards with reasoning by means of instantiation as incorporated in various syllogisms (see RuthMas [30]). Universally quantified assertions cannot be “sensed” and for that reason they can be constructions of the individual mind only, thus lacking the required “objectivity” so it was argued. That a modern scientific process may generate universally quantified assertions which are considered objectively valid was unknown in the days when syllogistic logic came under attack of Arabic scholars.

Their criticism need not be construed as an outcome of religious contemplation.

Fortunately (for Islamic scholars) the revealed sources, which wereunaccessible to ancient Greek scholars, codified after having been made available through prophecy, could produce fully reliable universally quantified assertions. This observation, perhaps more adequately understood as a design decision about the basis of logical reasoning, then provided a clever way to solve a pressing problem in the philosophy of science, but nowadays it represents an outdated view. A modern perspective on science, with its method for generating universally quantified statements acceptable for entire communities rather than for single individuals only, implies that formalized logic can be accepted more easily, and implies that the mechanics of reasoning need not be made exclusively dependent on the existence of revealed sources. Summing up these arguments I see no reason to believe that Islam is nowadays intrinsically hostile towards methodical reasoning on the basis of large collections of assumptions, neither do I believe that Islam is committed to the viewpoint that only assertions obtained directly or indirectly from revealed sources can be both universal and valid. In addition there is no compelling reason why a systematic investigation of reasoning processes (that is logic as a branch of mathematics, science and philosophy) should be considered incompatible with Islam. Nevertheless the contemporary tolerance of Islam towards logic seems not to have given rise to any specific developments that may foster the usability of logic for Islam.

Most developments of applied logic remain within a limited set of domains: computing (very significant), mathematics (limited), physics (very limited),economics (marginal but growing alongside the explosion of electronic trade), law (still marginal but steadily growing), linguistics (large but perhaps on the way back), psychology (marginal and perhaps even declining), and philosophy (marginal and stable).

Now there is no technical reason why applications of logic to religion and in particular to some specific religion cannot be developed. Of course a logician may be unwilling to work towards progress in that direction, but however distant religion may be considered from science that distance by itself cannot rule out a potential for applications of logic in that direction.4 This paper analyses a perspective for an application of logic within Islam from a position outside Islam.5

1.1 Logic applied to a specific religion

If one accepts that logic may be applied to or within a religion in spite of the fact that logic is a constituent of science and philosophy whereas religion is not, there are still many ways in which this kind of application can be conceived. I will refrain from an attempt to survey these options and focus on one particular view only which likely to be specific for Islam.

Working towards a definite and applicable form of Islamic Logic may be conceived of as an instance ofIslamization of modernity, with conventional formal logic considered modern.Islamization of modernity also underlies Islamic Finance. ThroughIslamization of the logic of legal argument, and successive application of that logic for structuring legal reasoning, legal arguments may become more transparent and more convincing, thereby promoting underlying values of Islam in a novel fashion. In this way Islamic Logic may be considered a potential manifestation of Jihad.6

1.2 Usage of language

In this text I will avoid Arabic terms as much as possible based on the hypothesis that the fundamental content of Islam is international and language independent. Unavoidably translations are used, for instance instead ofShari’ah I will use Islamic Legal Process, and instead of Allah I will write God.7

1.3 The problematic status of speculative thought

Writing this paper has proven difficult for various reasons. First of all there is no way that I can take into account or even become aware of the enormous literature which has been accumulated regarding the topics that will be covered. Now specialization is a major tool for fighting the enemy of amateurism in research, and reliable claims of novelty are usually based on equally reliable accounts of relevant prior art. But I feel the need to arrive at a comprehensive picture and the objective to achieve some form of completeness when writing this paper has taken priority over scholarly precision concerning the search for backwards pointers to prior art.

Moreover there is a speculative aspect about any development aiming at relating a classical part of science and philosophy (in this case logic) with any form of religion. If one intends to argue that such connections may provide an advantage the story may become even more speculative. Most work on Islamic Finance and Islamic Logic that I have seen avoids speculation by making use of a descriptive style: historical work describes what people did in the past and how we may find out about that, anthropological work looks at I will not make use of a translation of the term Islam. Instead an attempt is made in this paper to provide a working definition of Islam. The translation “submission (to God’s will)” as given by Wikipedia can be used for the purposes of this paper, however.

how small communities deal with some body of methods and concepts, sociological work considers the development of communities at large and economic work takes measurable streams of goods, products and services into account. I try to write about a modernization of Islamic logic with the additional constraint that, although being an outsider, I need to understand and trust the full story including a rationale of Islam and the role that logic may play in that context.

1.4 About the external position

Being an outsider to Islam, and writing from that position, must not primarily be valued as providing a tool for arriving at an objective perspective and for avoiding speculative thoughts.8 Rather taking the external position reflects a fact of the matter which I must in addition take into account without knowing in advance to what extent it simplifies or complicates the task at hand. Working from inside Islam and working from outside Islam provides an author with different interfaces of operational options. An author cannot freely choose and change his position in this respect, as if taking an inside Islamic perspective (from an outsider’s initial position) were conceivable as merely a tailor made and methodologically legitimate anthropological style of work, which can be dispensed with after the planned research activity has been completed, thereby returning to the initial outsider position.

An undeniable obligation for an outsider is to be sufficiently critical. Have I overlooked intrinsic problems of Islam (seen from an outsider’s perspective) that should have been mentioned in this paper? Am I participating in not seeing what needs to be seen? Of course I don’t think so myself. I will return to this difficult issue in the concluding section of the paper. The computer scientist C.A.R. Hoare wrote:

inside every large program is a small program struggling to get out.

This remarkable observation is meaningful (and useful) even if the large program contains many design and programming errors. Transposing Hoare’s observation from the science of computer programming to the study of religions I obtain:

inside a complex religion is a clear core struggling to get out and to become visible and comprehensible from an outsider’s position.

This holds true to a considerable extent in spite of mistakes enacted in the name of that religion. Thus the outsider’s position to a religion may be compared with the informed programmer’s view on a large program written by an unknown software engineering team:

find the core which is struggling to get out, and don’t be distracted from that task by the discovery of programming errors because the existence of programming errors is a statistical fact which cannot undermine the validity of Hoare’s observation.

1.5 Novelty remains to be seen

No claim of novelty of any assertion put forward in this paper can be reliably based on the author’s grasp of the body of published and grey literature relevant for that particular assertion. Even in very confined areas of mathematical logic and the theory of computing it has proven strikingly difficult to find out what has been done by other authors before.9

To the best of my knowledge the proposed description of Real Islamic Logic is new in objective, in form, and in content. The stratified description of Islam seems to be new.

The focus on autonomous parallel legal processing as a key strength worth of preservation and enhancement of the Islamic Legal Process may be new. The excursion in the final section towards an additional (new) argument for assuming the existence of God may alsoconsititute an original contribution.

2 Four conceptions of Islamic Logic

Islamic logic can be understood in four different ways at least, the historic conception and the holistic conception being the only views that we found in the existing literature.

These four understandings of Islamic Logic will be labeled as follows: (i ) historic, (ii) holistic,(iii) Real (Islamic Logic), and (iv) Crescent-Star Logic.10

2.1 Historic topic

The dominant understanding of Islamic Logic is that this refers to a period in the development of logic. Pinpointing that period is rather arbitrary, but 900-1600 is a reasonable guess. It might alternatively, and according to some authors more appropriately, be called Arabic Logic. The term may be compared to: “Roman Architecture”, “French Literature”, “Greek Philosophy”, or “Welsh Poetry”. The historic understanding of Islamic Logic is so widespread that it may be considered the standard meaning of the phrase.

Here are some pointers to the rich literature on the subject: [1], [33], and [36]. Islamic Logic is less formal than present day manifestations of logic. We find that what Islamic Logic as accumulated some 1000 years ago is comparable to what today is called informal logic rather than formal logic or to philosophical logic.

It should be noticed that Islamic Finance seems to have no historic connotation, whereas for instance Islamic Architecture does. Islamic Architecture may be decomposed into historic and modern. Modern Islamic Logic currently seems to be a vacuous concept at present.

2.2 Holistic conception

Islamic logic is sometimes understood as the waymuslims are supposed to think. Such applications of the term are always implicit, never based on a scholarly analysis and may be considered a misuse of the term logic. This form of (mis )use is rather widespread. For instance “Capitalist Logic” may be called into action as a rationale for the dictate that minimal wages must be paid and so on. The phrase “Economic Logic” is often used with a similar holistic interpretation. Its use is almost never convincing and nearly always one might ask: which economic logic is meant in particular. There is no useful connection between the holistic use of logic and logic as a theme in philosophy, mathematics or science.

2.3 A manifestation of Jihad: Real Islamic Logic (RIL)

Novel as far as I know, but nevertheless potentially attractive, is to consider Islamic Logic as a longstanding “project” for the advancement of Islam: Real Islamic Logic. Real Islamic Logic embodies theIslamization of Logic (as a part of modernity) just as Islamic Finance embodies theIslamization of finance. The adjective real is added in order to avoid confusion with the three other conceptions of Islamic Logic. It is conceivable that after due time the “real” can be left out and Islamic Logic has undergone a change of its default meaning.

Below a proposal will be made concerning the table of contents and the repertoire of objectives of Real Islamic Logic. The proposal may be read as a proposed political view on how to advance Islam by way of theIslamization of Logic. In this conception of Islamic Logic the similarity with Islamic Finance is taken to a rather extreme conclusion and all, often implicit, political objectives thatunderly Islamic Finance are considered candidates for being taken into account when developing a specification in detail for the design and development of Real Islamic Logic. If it ever gets off the ground the project of developing a Real Islamic Logic may take centuries rather than decades.

(Real) Islamic Logic can be conceptualized by a non-Islamic author, but it cannot be performed to its full potential without being part of theUmma . For the (non-Islamic)

author of this paper this limitation implies is that he can carry out conceptual work towards the establishment of theIslamization of logic interpretation of Islamic Logic (that is RIL), but he must stop at its doorstep once it has been designed.11

It is not so easy to find a name for an activist and contemporary interpretation of Islamic Logic. I am suggestingto use Real Islamic Logic, thus recognizing and leaving untouched, the currently predominant historic interpretation of the phrase “Islamic Logic”.12

Stopping at the doorstep of Real Islamic Logic may be considered frustrating for a non-muslim intrigued by the subject. This can be solved by recasting the subject in non-Islamic terms. Facilitating that step motivates the fourth and final understanding of Islamic logic.

2.4Cresent -star Logic

Islamic Finance can serve as a role model for the development of Real Islamic Logic. In both cases the projection to a non-religious version of the topic can be performed in a similar fashion. In [5] I have suggested Crescent-star Finance as a reference to Islamic Finance explicitly stripped from itsIslamization of finance perspective. Crescent-star Logic casts Real Islamic Logic as a neutral topic in logic stripped from theIslamization of modernity ideology and stripped from the Islamic tradition.13 Crescent-star Logic does away with the conventional historic perspective of the scholarly interpretation and does away with theJihadic perspective of theIslamization of modernity.14 Crescent-star logic then represents the pure logic of Real Islamic Logic as formulated above. Due to its neutral form Crescent-star Logic should be accessible and legitimate for logicians who oppose the very concept ofIslamization of Logic, assuming that the mere perspective of pure logic in an ideologically biased praxis presents nounsurmountable obstacle.

Progress in Crescent-star Logic may help to improve the usage of logic for the application in Islamic courts. Crescent-star Logic uses and integrates several logical themes which must come together forming a complex of reasoning methods of uncommon complexity:

paraconsistent logic (local inconsistencies cannot be excluded, not even in the case of a single court), •deontic logic (mostjudgements /assertions are about permissions and prohibitions), • belief revision (courts may withdraw earlier assertions representing court beliefs that have become superseded), • modal logic (in some cases different courts may best be seen as logically existing in different worlds).