Tracing the course of thought, action, and expression in the golden age of Islamic civilization, L. E. Goodman's Islamic Humanism paints a vivid panorama that departs strikingly from the all too familiar image of Islamic dogma, authoritarianism, and militancy. Among the poets and philosophers, scientists and historians, ethicists and mystics of Islam, Goodman finds a warm and vital humanism, committed to the pursuit of knowledge and to the cosmopolitanvalues of generosity, tolerance, and understanding. Drawing on a wide range of writings, from love poetry to pietism, to satire, to history and metaphysics, and on to hunting, music and the dance, clothing, politics, and the marketplace, Goodman discloses the rich texture of classicalIslamic civilization-its distinctive problematics and the space it left for the talents and creativity of the individual. His philosophic openness and easy familiarity with the monuments of Western civilization allow him to place Islamic humanism securely in its larger context, revealing clearly what is of universal and abiding vitality and interest. In place of stereotypes, suspicions, and unease, Goodman sets out concrete and detailed expositions and explorations ofIslamic thought and experience as seen through the eyes of the participants themselves. His engaged but sympathetic readings penetrate beneath the surface of the ancient texts to the humanistic values embraced by some of the greatest thinkers of Islam. As a result, Islamic Humanism does much morethan remind us how much we owe to the intellectual achievements of Islamic civilization. The work is a significant contribution to Western understanding of Islam and to Islamic self-understanding of the profoundly humanistic dimensions of the Islamic tradition.
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