Recurrence of the perennial encounter? al -Ghāzalī and Ibn Rushd on God's knowledge
The issue of divine knowledge has long been one of the formidably controversial subjects of both philosophy and theology. Thus modern scholarship has described al-Ghazālī as a representative of theological perspective and Ibn Rushd a representative of philosophical one in the classical period of Islamic philosophy. The investigation of how al-Ghazālī and Ibn Rushd conceived of divine knowledge reveals that the former's fundamental incentive for attacking philosophy should not necessarily be described as theological. Rather, in the final analysis, it becomes clear that al-Ghazālī repudiated the philosophers not because he thought that they put forth their philosophical conclusions with no theological basis, but because the philosophers uprooted religion and belittled religious experience by advancing propositions that basically divest the God of religion of His attributes that are required of the deity to have a relationship with the created. Thus the main point of criticisms leveled by al-Ghazālī against the philosophers was a purely religious one with no theological speculative concerns. Therefore, from al-Ghazālī's point of view, the problem was the onto-theology of the philosophers.
Ibn Rushd on the other hand does not seem to rebuke al-Ghazālī for his non-philosophical bases of his views. Rather, Ibn Rushd points out that al-Ghazālī used philosophical method but inaccurately. It becomes also clear that Ibn Rushd understood well his opponent's point about the philosophers belittling religion. Hence he set out to design a new role for religion. Distinguishing between the inner and external meanings of the Scripture, Ibn Rushd confined religion to its external meaning and delegated it to the masses. He established a connection between philosophy and religion through the inner meaning of the scripture and made the investigation of this inner meaning exclusive to the philosophers. In the end, he defined religion anew and gave it a different role. This design ultimately reflects Ibn Rushd's sensitivity over protecting the religious experience of the masses with the God of religion, and keeping philosophy for those who are properly educated.