Imam Fakhruddin Al Razi RA

Hazrat Imam Fakhruddin Al Razi RA
Shawwal 1 Urs (544-606 Hijri -1149-1209G)

Abu Abdallah Muhammad bin Umar bin Al-Husayn Fakhruddin al-Razi RA, also known as Abul Fazl, Abul Ma’ali, al-Imam, Ibn al-Khatib, Khatib al-Rayy and Shaykh al-Islam. He was the most celebrated and prolific scholar among his contemporaries. He was initially interested in alchemy, but later wrote more in the fields of exegesis, theology, philosophy, law, medicine, linguistics, physics, history, heresiography, astronomy, logic, astrology, and physiognomy.
Imam fakhruddin Al-Razi RA was born in Rayy in 544/1149. Little is known of his early life, but his biographers all agree that his father, Ziauddin, known as Khatib al-Rayy, was his first teacher in kalam and fiqh. After his father died, he took lessons in various Islamic sciences from Majduddin al-Jili and jurisprudence from al-Kamal al-Samnani. He was very persuasive when he spoke, used precise Arabic and Persian, and had clarity of mind, critical attitude and a highly trained memory. He was characterized by an independence of thinking and rational approach. He broached many controversial topics, and had no hesitation in drawing on views in his philosophical analyses. Al-Razi had many opponents and major allegations were made against him.

Al-Razi travelled throughout the Muslim world, recorded in his own sixteen-chapter account of the places he visited, the scholars he met, and summaries of their discussions "(Munazarat Fakhruddin Al Razi fi Bilad Ma Wara’ al-Nahr)". He attracted students from every part of the Muslim world and it is said that when he moved from place to place, at least three hundred students would follow him. He settled in Herat, where a madrasa was built for him. Once, in a public audience, a heated discussion led to harsh words between al-Razi and Ibn al-Qudwa, a Karramite leader, which led to accusations. The sultan’s cousin accused al-Razi of kufr, because he read Ibn Sina and Aristotle, and the populace became so incensed that al-Razi’s life was threatened.

One day Al-Razi had to leave the city and the year of his exile had such an impact that scholars and opponents described it as sanat al-fitna. In every dispute, Al-Razi began with his own line of thought or outlined the various alternatives to the solution and then concisely indicated his choice of preferred alternatives. He reproduced the views of his opponents exactly and impartially. He invariably did not choose the short answers, but established his own position at length, though he did not repeat his own arguments, but presented in a vast arena for easy understanding.

On the question of the existence of God, al-Razi contributes an organized presentation with elaborate philosophical and theological proofs, shaping an eclectic new type of reasoning. His proofs are from i) the contingency of the substances, ii) the contingency of accidents, iii) the originatedness of substances and iv) the originatedness of accidents. In his fourth argument from the originatedness of accidents, he has two strands: the subjective and the objective. These, al-Razi says, can be inferred from the Qur’an, interpreting 41:53: “We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves…” and points to other verses which signify phenomenal events as proofs for God’s existence. He followed religious rules very scrupulously

In the subjective he gives examples of the development of human beings from the stage of embryo to maturity. The objective argument, he says, is based on common observation such as the nature of plants, minerals, cosmological movements, etc. The fifth argument is from design and order in the universe, and according to al-Razi, can be included in all his four preceding arguments. The harmony and balance in the world is evidence of the absolute knowledge of the Creator, from which His very existence can be concluded.

Moreover he was a stong man of Batin, Al-Razi died in Herat in 606/1209. In his will "Wasiyya", which he dictated to a student before his death, he says that he had not sufficiently distinguished the useful from the harmful in his writings, states dissatisfaction with philosophy and theology, preferring the Qur’anic approach in the pursuit of truth over philosophy, and says the human intellect disintegrates in the face of complicated issues, therefore advising against deep contemplation of unsolvable problems, such was his humility and carefulness.

His major works are on Theology and Tafsir. In his Tafsir-e-Quran (commentary of Quran), Imam Fakhruddin Al Razi RA said, he could explain 10,000 precepts from the opening chapter, Al-Fatiha of the Quran. Not only this, he could explain 10,000 precepts from the expression, A'uzu Billah, alone, further added, they are not unimportant, redundant or absurd. They would be reliable and credible. In short "if a person understands each and every one of the many meanings of Quran and puts it into practice, it becomes evident of his progress to higher spiritual ranks”.

Unpublished Manuscripts by Fakhruddin Muhammad b. ‘Umar Al Razi RA:
al-Matalib al ‘Aliya, Turkey, Istanbul
Nihayat al-‘Uqul fi Dirayat al-Usul, Turkey, Istanbul
Risala fi l-Tawhid, Turkey, Istanbul
Wasiyyat al-Imam al-Razi, Turkey, Istanbul
Mulakhkahas, British Museum