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The Almohad Tawhid: Theology Which Relies On Logic

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The Almohad dynasty of twelfth century Spain and North Africa patronized the study of Greek philosophy. Almohad scholars were largely responsible for editing and commentating the texts of Aristotle which came into the hands of Thomas Aquinas, greatly facilitating the development of scholastic theology in thirteenth century Europe. This paper investigates the theology of Ibn Tumart to describe the extent to which this taste for philosophy was consistent with the teaching of the aforementioned founder of the Almohad movement who was a Berber jurist from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. We find that Ibn Tumart's teaching assigns a radically important role to reason in theology, declaring reason to be a source of religious doctrine along with scripture (the Koran and the Hadith). Throughout the essay, internal evidence provided by an ongoing comparison between Ibn Tumart's two murshidas and what had previously been assumed to be his most important credal document, his 'aqīda, reveals the latter to have been the product of a heavy editing process which occurred after Ibn Tumart's death, probably in 1183 at the time of the writing down of the manuscript a'azzu ma yutlab which was published as Le livre d'Ibn Toumert by Luciani in 1903. The paper attempts to define Ibn Tumart's theology of tawhīd in relation to other systems in which the word functions as a concept. Possible definitions thus provided are accepted or rejected. Questions considered are: 1 Whether Almohad lawhīd can be seen as a denial of the attributes of God as in Mu'tazilite theology. 2 Whether Almohad tawhīd can be seen as the tawhīd of ittisāl or of Pantheistic monism. 2 Whether Almohad tawhīd and its aspect of anti-anthromorphism can be seen as a rejection of animistic and folkloric remnants.

Affiliations: 1: Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155


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