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An Arab Christian Philosophical Defense Of Religious Celibacy Against Its Islamic Condemnation: Yahyā Ibn 'adī

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Chapter Summary

When speaking of philosophy in Islamic lands during the Middle Ages, one often forgets that it gathered people from different religions working together in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. This chapter examines how an Arab Christian theologian and philosopher, Yahyā ibn ʿAdī, tries to tackle such deep religious and cultural differences. From apostolic times Christians valued celibacy and soon felt drawn to separate themselves from the world to live as hermits or monks. According to the Qurʿān, which the Muslims consider uncreated, the origin of monasticism cannot be found in the will of God or in any form of divine inspiration. Yahyā’s basic strategy is to claim that the aim of Christianity is happiness, expressed as the attainment of true sciences and divine wisdom. The potential for marriage to impinge the scholarly life is an old and pervasive theme in philosophy.

Keywords:monasticism; Qurʿān; religious celibacy; Yahyā ibn ʿAdī



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