The Elements of Islamic Metaphysics (Bidayat al-Hikmah) by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i
Translated and annotated by Sayyid Ali Quli Qara’i
The Elements of Islamic Metaphysics signals a new approach to the teaching of Islamic philosophy. It provides a useful overview of twentieth-century philosophy in Iran, and traces the development of philosophical thought in the context of a religious tradition whose intellectual character was determined to a large extent by the contents of the Qur’anic revelation and the prophetic teachings. At the same time it attempts to demonstrate how philosophical thought is by nature independent of religious doctrine and differs from theology, which depends on revelation and tradition. A salient feature of the Islamic intellectual tradition has been the conviction that there can be no conflict between reason and revelation.
Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai (1892-1981) was born in Tabriz, in Northwestern Azerbaijan. His best known work, al-Mizan, is a monumental exegesis of the Qur’an in twenty volumes (in the original Arabic). He is also respected as a philosopher and mystic. His writings have been translated into English and several other European languages.