Icon of modern-day fundamentalist movements, firebrand religious purist, tireless polemicist against the intellectual schools of his timeathe Ibn Taymiyya we know is a thinker we often associate with hard attitudes and dogmatic stances. Yet there is another Ibn Taymiyya that stands out from the pages of his work, the thinker who fashions himself as a master of the via media and as a defender of the harmony between human reason and the religious faith. The aim of this book is to shed fresh light on Ibn Taymiyya's intellectual identity by a close investigation of his ethical thought. Earlier Muslim thinkers debating ethical value had been exercised by a number of core questions. What makes actions right or wrong? How do human beings know it? And what is God's relationship to the evaluative standards discerned by the human mind? An investigation of Ibn Taymiyya's engagement with such questions has much to teach us about his intellectual program and particularly about the role of reason and the linchpin concept of human nature (fitra) within this program.
It also has much to teach us about Ibn Taymiyya's relationship to the intellectual landscape of his time, bringing us up against a rich tapestry of ethical discussions unfolding within theology, philosophy and legal theory in the classical period. At the same time, a close reading of Ibn Taymiyya's ethics invites us to confront not only the content of his thought but its form, and more particularly those features of his writing that fracture our efforts to unify his thought.