This book is among the contributions that I offer to the British reader in particular, and to the Western reader in general, on Arab-Islamic philosophy. However, this book is distinguished from what I presented in my previous writings, as it is limited to one school of thought, excluding all other schools of thought, which is the doctrine of the Mutazilites. The Mutazilism scholars played a dangerous and important role in the second Hijri century, by cleaning the Arab mind of distortions and nonsense stuck in it, and their principle was “reason before quotation.” The intellect is the decisive factor towards the written texts and the spoken sayings, as they adhered to the verses of exaltation and gave the verses of analogy in accordance with the divine exaltation in the Qur’an. So was their mental attitude towards the hadiths of the Prophet, so what the mind accepts they take, what conflicts and contradicts it they reject and leave. Thus, the Mutazilites confronted some Islamic sects, led by the traditional conservatives of the Sunnites, who prioritize quotation over reason.
Although the confrontation ended in favour of the traditional conservative approach, the Mutazilites were an infidel and fought against, their presence continued to be limited, scattered here and there. Also, their ideas, theories and some of their books continued to be preserved, whether in the libraries of the Islamic sects that adapted to them, such as the Zaidites in Yemen, or in the works written by their opponents and enemies, such as the Asharites, Hanbalites and others.
Returning to the Mutazilites after a thousand years, in the modern Arab renaissance (1798-1939), and reviving their thought with regard to the theories of reason, freedom and will, is nothing but an affirmation of the correctness of their position towards the problems that concern man in every place and time on the one hand, and to the delay and regression that on the other hand, the Arabs were affected by their freezing of reason.
Hence, I must point out that the field of “Introduction” I wrote and published in the Independent Arabic newspaper under the title “The Mutazilah Thought and Philosophy”, I made it a general introduction to this brief study. Although the book contains five chapters, but in general it is divided into two main parts, the first concerns the Mutazilites in the past, their stages of development and then their summit, which was represented in the schools of Basra and Baghdad, and its senior leaders from Wasil bin Ataa, Amr bin Ubaid, al-Alaf, al-Nazzam, al-Jahiz, al-Mutamir, Thumama bin Ashras, al-Mardard and others.
As for the other section, it represents the modern period up to our present time, as it concerns the Neo-Mutazilites, starting with Mohammed Abduh, who is considered the chief of the first generation, then Ahmed Amin, Taha Hussein, Zaki Naguib Mahmoud, Mohammed Abd al-Hadi Abu Rida, Zuhdi Jarallah, Qadri Touq and others from the poles of the second generation, Mohammed Imara and Amin Diab from third generation. There is still interest in reviving the Mutazilite thought in order to fortify the Arab mind with its orthodox heritage against the challenges and effects of Western identity on Arab identity. As well as a result of distorted deviations to the parties and groups of political Islam against religion.
However, opposition to the dissemination of the theories and ideas of the Mutazilites continues, not only from the Asharites and Hanbalites, but also from the Salafites movement, we have limited in this regard to four of them: Fouad al-Shalhoub, Ali al-Halabi, Muqbil al-Wadi'i and Mohammed al-Misnad.
This is the entirety of the book, hoping that God Almighty will benefit students of learning and knowledge of English-speaking languages, and researchers interested in Arabic-Islamic studies.
Imadaldin Mahdi Nouri Al-Jubouri