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Hawza Subjects - Mantiq

Mantiq (Logic)

Mantiq or Islamic Logic is a similar science to what is called Traditional Logic at Western universities (as opposed to Modern Logic that is taught as a field of Mathematics).

In the past, the text used at hawzas for mantiq was the Sharh al-Mandhumah fil Mantiq by Sabzawari. Whilst this classic text is still taught in some hawzas, the most popular work taught now is the Usul al-Mantiq by Shaykh al-Mudhaffar commonly called "Mantiq al-Mudhaffar".

Mantiq is usually one of the first subjects to be taught at a hawza because it is seen as a ‘tool’ (rather than an independent science studied for its own sake) that is necessary for correct thinking and deduction when studying all other Islamic sciences. In particular, it is vital in the study of Theology (kalam/aqaid) and is a necessary prerequisite to studying Islamic Philosophy (falsafa). Whilst a superficial knowledge of kalam or falsafa without logic may be beneficial, to truly be grounded in theology, the study of logic is vital.

The famous Muslim philosopher and logician, al-Farabi, defines logic (mantiq) as an instrumental, rule-based science aimed at directing the intellect towards the truth and safeguarding it from error in its acts of reasoning. Al-Farabi also compares logic to tools such as rulers and compasses, which are used to ensure exactness when we measure physical objects subject to the errors of sensation. Like these tools, logical measures can be employed by their users to verify both their own acts of reasoning and the arguments of others. Logic is especially useful and important to guide the intellect when it is faced with the need to adjudicate between conflicting opinions.

For Shi’ahs, not only is logic (mantiq) important in theology and philosophy, but it is a re-occurring theme in Shi'a jurisprudence too (which they refer to as ‘aql’ (the use of intellect) as a means of deduction, in addition to Qur’an, hadith and ijma). The Sunnis do not employ the use of logic to the same degree (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia) and instead rely on qiyas (reasoning by analogy) which Shi’ahs reject as a form of religious deduction.

With the rise of the Ash’arite school (to which the majority of Sunni Muslims belong today) and with the teachings of individuals like Abu Hamid al-Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyya, the study of logic and philosophy was not favoured amongst the Sunnis; and yet, al-Ghazali too (who wrote against philosophy and is believed to have dealt a lasting blow to its study amongst Muslims) is believed to have said: "man lam ya'rifi al-mantiqa fa laa thiqata lahu fi 'l-uloom" ('whosoever does not know logic, he has no trustworthiness in (the matters) of religious knowledge.') This signifies the status of logic and the importance it should have amongst all Muslims who aspire to be scholars.

Note: Some hawzas may also begin with the primer Khulasat al-Mantiq of Sh. 'Abd al-Hadi Fadli before studying Mantiq al-Mudhaffar.

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