Egyptian, b: 1 October 1886, Cairo, d: 30 May 1954, Cairo. Cat: Islamic modernist and reformist; historian of Arab and Islamic civilization and thought; historian of philosophy. Ints: Methodology. Educ: Al-Azhar University, 1900, abandoning his studies in 1904; National State University, Cairo, 1907–11; completed the study of English language in 1916. Appts: Teacher of Arabic in elementary schools and journalist; appointed Judge in Qena, Tatah and Cairo, 1921–6; University Professor from 1926; Director of the Cultural Centre of Egyptian Ministry of Education, 1945; Director of the Cultural Section of the Arab League, 1947.
Despite his traditional training, Amin was an open-minded thinker and recognized the usefulness of Western methodology. His aim was the revival of the Islamic cultural heritage as a means to the intellectual and moral renewal of all Arab-Islamic peoples. He held advanced social ideas and was aware of the necessity to relate religious prescriptions to changing situations. Amin espoused Mutazilite rationalism and logic, preferring Mutazilites to philosophers because of their emphasis on (men of) faith. He acknowledged that a modernist awakening must be grounded on intellect and human free will, without immoderate resort to divine predestination. Amin’s thought has exerted a powerful influence on Arab intellectuals.
Sources: G.Anawati (1982) Tendances et courants de l’Islam arabe contemporain, Munich: Kaiser & Grünewald; Archives of the Pontifical Inst. of Arabic Studies in Rome.
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