This book intends to introduce readers to the work of Charles E. Butterworth, and thereby to introduce students to Medieval islamic political philosophy, of which Butterworth is one of the world’s most prominent scholars. In a wider sense, the Festschrift introduces its readers to the current debates on Medieval islamic political philosophy, related as they are to the questions of the relationship between islam and Christianity, the Medieval to the Modern world, and reason and revelation. Butterworth’s scholarship spans six decades, primarily translating, editing, and interpreting the works of the Muslim political philosopher Alfarabi (d. 950) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd, d. 1198). He began his studies of Muslim political philosophy at a time when the Middle East and islam did not have the political salience they have acquired in more recent years. instead, Butterworth’s reason for engaging with islam was rooted in the question of the relationship between reason and revelation.
While one possible answer was pursued in the Christian, latin West, the islamic borderlands of Greek, Roman, and Muslim civilization offered another. By exploring Averroes, who provides the possibility of an Aristotelian-Islamic political philosophy, and Alfarabi, who pursues a Platonic-islamic political philosophy, Butterworth showed how islamic civilization provided a viable alternative to the theologico-political question reason v revelation, as well as serving as an inspiration to the latin West.