The Relationship between Reason and Revelation from the Viewpoints of Ayatollah Jawadi and Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

Document Type: Original Article

Author

al-Mustafa International University

Abstract

The relationship between reason, tradition, and revelation has always been a controversial issue in Islamic and non-Islamic thought. The stand one adopts concerning how they are related to each other and what epistemological status they occupy serves as an important criterion for categorizing Islamic schools and sects, having thus crucial consequences for Muslims’ intellectual and social life. This article relates and studies the relationship between reason and revelation from the viewpoints of Ayatollah Jawadi and Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd. Revelation, which, according to Ayatollah Jawadi, is accessible to prophets and imams, is related to the realities on the ground, and pure reason, which is of paramount epistemic importance, discovers only some realities. He is thus of the view that reason is faced with limitations, and hence it is irrelevant to talk of conflict between reason and revelation in place of conflict between reason and tradition. Abu Zayd, on the other hand, believes that revelation is beyond access and holds that a text follows the rules of language and cultural norms, and thus the reader and his temporal and spatial reason play a determining role in understanding and interpreting the text. He thus puts an end to the conflict by giving priority to reason.

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