Cover image for Islamic humanism
Islamic humanism
Goodman, Lenn Evan, 1944-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 273 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BP190.5.T78 G66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This book is an attempt to explain how, in the face of increasing religious authoritarianism in medieval Islamic civilization, some Muslim thinkers continued to pursue essentially humanistic, rational, and scientific discourses in the quest for knowledge, meaning, and values. Drawing on a widerange of Islamic writings, from love poetry to history to philosophical theology, Goodman shows that medieval Islam was open to individualism, occasional secularism, skepticism, even liberalism.

Author Notes

Lenn E. Goodman is Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. Among his many publications are In Defense of Truth (2001), Jewish and Islamic Philosophy: Crosspollinations in the Classic Age (1999), Judaism, Human Rights, and Human Values (OUP, 1998), and God of Abraham (OUP,1996).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This study is compelling reading for Muslims and non-Muslims, specialists, and general readers alike. Goodman (Vanderbilt) aims to reawaken in Muslims a sense of their tradition's confident openness and intellectual brilliance. Non-Muslims will encounter the cultural sophistication of Islamic civilization, which is too often eclipsed by the media's attention to politics and violence. Goodman's theme is the rich and complex fabric of humanistic themes and approaches in literature, philosophy, historical studies, and the sciences in classical and medieval Islamic cultures. He traces the impact on texts and figures in each area arising from creative tensions between the sacred and secular, authority and individualism, and faith and reason. Sacred and secular attitudes toward dress, wine, war, love, and hunting animate the lively first chapter. The second and third chapters explore the fascinating combinations of Quranic spirituality and theology and Greek philosophy in the key thinkers Miskawayh, Farabi, Ibn Sina, and Ghazali, all of whom developed distinctively Islamic ethical, metaphysical, and spiritual philosophies. The great historians Tabari, Rashid al-Din, and Ibn Khaldun occupy the final chapter. Goodman is a stimulating guide to the thought of Muslim writers and thinkers who articulated sympathetic and critical approaches to their tradition. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower-level undergraduates through faculty. J. Bussanich University of New Mexico