HSD104 – Introduction to Islamic Philosophy


The module traces back philosophical thinking to its earliest period in the Islamic era. It examines such towering figures of Islamic philosophy as Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Tufayl, Ibn Bajjah, Suhrawardi, Ibn al-Arabi, Nasir al-Din Tusi and Mulla Sadra. The course discusses the central issues and concepts of Islamic philosophy, including existence and essence, God’s existence and knowledge of the world, knowledge and its foundations, cosmology and causality. These concepts are examined from the point of view of different philosophical perspectives, most notably those of the Peripatetic, Illuminationist and Transcendental schools. The module also explores the relationship between philosophy and religion and the attitude taken by Muslim philosophers towards Greek philosophical texts.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, the successful student will be able to:

  • Identify the main concepts and questions in Islamic philosophy and major philosophical schools in Islam. (A1, A3, B4)
  • Examine the main points of controversy and basic issues in Islamic philosophy. (B2, B3)

This module will call for the successful student to:

  • Analyse the relation between science, philosophy, and faith. (B2, B5, C1, C2, D1, D3)

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

Alongside lectures, students are expected to develop their learning through research and preparation leading to a research based essay. Seminars are used to debate and explore specific issues while the use of questioning and small group work in class ensures that students are constantly engaged and take an active role in the learning process.

Assessment strategy
Participation in debates on a question around topics covered within class provides students the basis formative assessment, whereby students will be expected to present the case for or against a particular position and the quality of their argument be judged by peers. The module leader will regularly give feedback to student regarding the progress of their coursework, a draft copy of the completed coursework need be handed in to the module leader before the 10th learning week as part of the formative learning process. Additionally, revision sessions are arranged that will cover topics in preparation for exams, providing constructive formative feedback to students.
Summative, graded assessment is by coursework and written examination. The coursework will require students to write an essay of 1,500  words that demonstrates a critical understanding of one of the main topics covered in class. A 2-hour written examination will take place at the end of the semester.

Assessment weighting
Coursework: 40%
Written examination: 60%

Learning Materials

Core Reading

  • Tabataba’i, S.M.H. (2003). The Elements of Islamic Metaphysics. Translated from Arabic by S.A.Q. Qara’ie. London: ICAS Press.
  • Ubodiyat, A. (2000). An Introduction to Islamic Philosophy. F. Asadi & M. Dasht Bozorgi trans., Qum: The International Organisation of Seminaries and Islamic Schools.