Keywords: Intellect, religion, secularisation, philosophy, Enlightenment, religious studies, philosophy, symbolism, faith, science, intellectual history, history, Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Meister Eckhart.
Abstract: The relationship between intellect and religion has been an essentially harmonious one in the context of Islam. Despite various disputes over the place of the intellect in relation to religion, one does not observe the two elements being pitted in opposition to each other in any radical or extreme manner. This is to be contrasted with the philosophical situation that has prevailed in the West since the 18th century Enlightenment movement. Religion is deemed antithetical, in large part, to the free operation of the intelligence, as a result of the secularisation of thought and culture in western society. In this essay, the author addresses this theme in relation to the criticisms being voiced by intellectuals within the West itself; and by reference to the perspectives of certain Muslim philosophers, for whom there was no contradiction between intellect and religion.
Founding editor of the Islamic World Report, Reza Shah-Kazemi studied International Relations and Politics at Sussex and Exeter Universities before obtaining his PhD in Comparative Religion from the University of Kent in 1994.