Definition of Islamic philosophy

Islamic philosophy can be defined as a systematic and rational inquiry into the fundamental questions of existence, knowledge, ethics, and the nature of reality, undertaken by Muslim scholars within the framework of Islamic thought. It encompasses various philosophical disciplines, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.

Historical background and development

The development of Islamic philosophy can be traced back to the translation movement that took place in the 8th and 9th centuries. During this time, Muslim scholars translated and assimilated the works of Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, as well as other Hellenistic and Persian philosophical traditions. These translations played a crucial role in the development of Islamic philosophy, as they provided Muslim thinkers with a rich philosophical heritage to build upon.

One of the key figures in the early development of Islamic philosophy was Al-Kindi (c. 801–873 CE), who sought to reconcile Greek philosophy with Islamic theology. Another influential philosopher was Al-Farabi (c. 872–950 CE), who emphasized the importance of ethics and political philosophy in Islamic thought. However, it was Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna (980–1037 CE), who made significant contributions to Islamic philosophy and is considered one of its greatest thinkers.

Influence of Islamic theology and mysticism

Islamic philosophy is deeply intertwined with Islamic theology and mysticism. Islamic theologians, known as mutakallimun, played a crucial role in the development of Islamic philosophy by addressing theological questions and reconciling them with philosophical concepts. They sought to harmonize reason and revelation, emphasizing the compatibility between philosophy and Islamic beliefs.

Mysticism, or Sufism, also had a profound impact on Islamic philosophy. Sufi philosophers, such as Ibn Arabi (1165–1240 CE), explored the mystical dimensions of Islam and integrated them into their philosophical inquiries. They emphasized the importance of direct experience and spiritual enlightenment in understanding the nature of reality and achieving inner peace.

In conclusion, Islamic philosophy is a unique and multifaceted discipline that combines rational inquiry with Islamic theology and mysticism. It has a rich historical background and continues to inspire scholars and thinkers to explore the fundamental questions of existence, knowledge, and ethics within the context of Islamic thought. By delving into Islamic philosophy, one embarks on a journey of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace, seeking a deeper understanding of the world and one’s place within it.

Islamic philosophy is a thought-provoking realm that transcends mere intellectual pursuit; it is a soul-stirring journey into spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. At its core, Islamic philosophy intertwines intricate strands of theology, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology to offer a unique perspective on the nature of reality and humanity’s place within it. What sets it apart from other philosophical traditions is its unyielding belief in the inseparable bond between the divine and the worldly. Islamic philosophy contemplates the esoteric dimensions of existence, delving into the intricacies of divine law and the human quest for knowledge. It invites us to embark on a captivating voyage wherein reason and faith harmoniously coexist, kindling our minds and hearts with a fervor for truth. So, let us embark upon this captivating expedition, unraveling the extraordinary depths of Islamic philosophy, and uncover the secrets that lie within.

The Foundations of Islamic Philosophy

The Quranic Perspective

The Quran holds a central position in Islamic philosophy, serving as the primary source of knowledge and guidance for Muslims. It is believed to be the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Islamic philosophy places great importance on understanding the Quran and deriving wisdom from its verses.

The Quran as the primary source of knowledge

In Islamic philosophy, the Quran is considered to be the ultimate authority on matters of faith, morality, and human existence. It is believed to provide comprehensive guidance for all aspects of life, both spiritual and practical. Muslims study the Quran to gain a deeper understanding of God’s will and to seek guidance in navigating the complexities of the world.

Emphasis on divine unity (Tawhid)

One of the central themes of the Quran is the concept of Tawhid, which emphasizes the oneness and unity of God. Islamic philosophy places great importance on understanding and internalizing this concept. By recognizing the unity of God, Muslims strive to develop a deep sense of spiritual connection and submission to the divine will. This recognition of divine unity is believed to bring about spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.

The concept of human responsibility (Taklif)

Islamic philosophy also emphasizes the concept of Taklif, which refers to human responsibility and accountability before God. Muslims believe that human beings have been given free will and the ability to make choices. With this freedom comes the responsibility to use it wisely and in accordance with God’s guidance as revealed in the Quran. Islamic philosophy encourages individuals to reflect on their actions and strive to align them with moral and ethical principles, thereby seeking spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.

The Integration of Reason and Revelation

Islamic philosophy is unique in its integration of reason and revelation, as it seeks to harmonize the intellectual pursuit of truth with the spiritual guidance provided by religious texts. This integration is grounded in the belief that reason and faith are not contradictory, but rather complementary aspects of human existence.

The Compatibility of Reason and Faith in Islamic Philosophy

Islamic philosophy holds that reason and faith are not mutually exclusive, but rather can work together to deepen one’s understanding of the divine. Reason, in this context, refers to the human capacity for logical thinking, critical analysis, and rational inquiry. Faith, on the other hand, encompasses the spiritual beliefs and teachings derived from religious texts.

In Islamic philosophy, reason is seen as a gift from God, bestowed upon humans to help them comprehend the complexities of the universe and their place within it. It is through the use of reason that individuals can arrive at rational conclusions and seek knowledge about the world around them.

Rational Inquiry and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Islam

Islamic philosophy encourages rational inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge as a means to attain a deeper understanding of the divine. This pursuit is not limited to religious matters alone, but encompasses all areas of human knowledge, including philosophy, science, and the arts.

Islamic scholars have historically engaged in rigorous intellectual discourse, drawing from various fields of study to expand their understanding of the world. They have actively sought knowledge from both religious sources, such as the Quran and the Hadith, as well as from Greek philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and other disciplines.

The Role of Philosophy in Interpreting Religious Texts

Islamic philosophy plays a crucial role in interpreting religious texts, as it seeks to bridge the gap between literal interpretation and deeper spiritual understanding. Philosophical reasoning is employed to elucidate the meaning and implications of religious teachings, allowing individuals to delve into the profound wisdom contained within these texts.

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By employing philosophical methods, Islamic scholars have developed a rich tradition of hermeneutics, which involves the interpretation and analysis of religious texts. Through this process, they aim to uncover the underlying principles and moral values inherent in the teachings of Islam, providing a framework for ethical living and spiritual growth.

In conclusion, Islamic philosophy stands out for its unique integration of reason and revelation. It emphasizes the compatibility of reason and faith, encourages rational inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge, and plays a pivotal role in interpreting religious texts. This harmonious blend of intellectual inquiry and spiritual guidance allows individuals to embark on a journey of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.

The Distinctive Features of Islamic Philosophy

Key takeaway: Islamic philosophy is a unique and multifaceted discipline that combines rational inquiry with Islamic theology and mysticism. It emphasizes the compatibility of reason and faith, encourages rational inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge, and integrates theological questions with philosophical concepts. Islamic philosophy offers a pathway to spiritual enlightenment and inner peace, guiding individuals to lead a morally upright and spiritually fulfilling life.

The Ontological Perspective

In Islamic philosophy, the ontological perspective plays a crucial role in understanding the nature of existence and reality. It delves deep into the concept of existence (Wujud) and explores the distinctive features that set Islamic philosophy apart from other philosophical traditions.

The concept of existence (Wujud)

The concept of existence in Islamic philosophy goes beyond the mere physical presence of objects. It encompasses a more profound understanding of the interconnectedness between the material and spiritual realms. Islamic philosophers argue that existence is not limited to the physical realm but extends to the metaphysical and spiritual dimensions as well.

Islamic thinkers emphasize that existence is not a static state but rather a dynamic process that constantly evolves. They believe that everything in the universe, from humans to celestial bodies, possesses a unique existence that is intricately connected to the divine.

The distinction between God’s essence and attributes

Islamic philosophy also emphasizes the distinction between God’s essence (Dhat) and His attributes (Sifat). According to Islamic scholars, God’s essence is beyond human comprehension and cannot be fully grasped by the human intellect. However, His attributes provide a means for humans to understand and experience the divine.

Islamic philosophers argue that God’s attributes are not separate entities but rather essential qualities that emanate from His essence. These attributes, such as mercy, justice, and wisdom, are considered to be manifestations of God’s divine nature and serve as a means for humans to connect with the divine.

The idea of divine creative power (Tajalli)

In Islamic philosophy, the concept of divine creative power (Tajalli) plays a significant role in understanding the ontological perspective. Tajalli refers to the manifestation of God’s attributes in the created world. Islamic thinkers believe that everything in the universe reflects the divine attributes in varying degrees.

According to Islamic philosophers, the existence of the universe is a result of God’s creative power and the manifestation of His attributes. They argue that the diversity and complexity of the world we perceive are a reflection of the divine attributes, providing humans with an opportunity to recognize and appreciate the beauty and order in creation.

Islamic philosophy’s ontological perspective offers a unique approach to understanding existence and reality. By exploring the concept of existence (Wujud), the distinction between God’s essence and attributes, and the idea of divine creative power (Tajalli), it provides a framework for individuals to embark on a journey of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.

The Epistemological Outlook

Islamic philosophy has a distinct epistemological outlook that sets it apart from other philosophical traditions. In Islamic philosophy, the concept of knowledge (Ilm) plays a central role in understanding the world and one’s place in it. Knowledge is seen as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment and inner peace, guiding individuals towards a deeper understanding of themselves and the divine.

The concept of knowledge (Ilm) in Islamic philosophy

In Islamic philosophy, knowledge is not limited to mere accumulation of information or facts. It encompasses a holistic understanding that goes beyond the material realm. It is believed that true knowledge originates from a divine source and is bestowed upon individuals through various means. This understanding of knowledge is deeply rooted in the Islamic tradition and is considered essential for spiritual growth and self-realization.

The role of reason (Aql) and intellect in acquiring knowledge

Reason (Aql) and intellect are highly valued in Islamic philosophy as tools for acquiring knowledge. They are seen as gifts from God that enable individuals to engage in critical thinking and rational inquiry. Islamic philosophers emphasize the importance of using reason to explore the world, understand its intricacies, and uncover the underlying truths. The rational approach to knowledge is seen as complementary to spiritual intuition, allowing individuals to attain a balanced understanding of reality.

The importance of spiritual intuition (Hads) in understanding reality

While reason and intellect are important in acquiring knowledge, Islamic philosophy also recognizes the significance of spiritual intuition (Hads) in understanding reality. Spiritual intuition refers to a deep inner knowing that transcends rationality and logic. It is believed to be a direct connection to the divine, allowing individuals to access higher levels of consciousness and gain insights that cannot be obtained through reason alone.

In Islamic philosophy, the cultivation of spiritual intuition is seen as a means to attain spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. It involves practices such as meditation, contemplation, and self-reflection, which enable individuals to connect with their inner selves and the divine presence within them. Through spiritual intuition, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the unity of all things and their interconnectedness with the divine.

In conclusion, the epistemological outlook of Islamic philosophy is characterized by a holistic understanding of knowledge, the use of reason and intellect in acquiring knowledge, and the importance of spiritual intuition in understanding reality. This unique approach to knowledge offers a pathway to spiritual enlightenment and inner peace, allowing individuals to embark on a journey of self-discovery and deeper connection with the divine.

The Ethical Dimensions

Islamic philosophy encompasses a comprehensive ethical framework that guides individuals in their pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. It emphasizes the importance of moral conduct and ethical behavior as essential aspects of a person’s relationship with God and fellow human beings. Within this framework, several distinctive features can be identified:

  • The moral framework in Islamic philosophy: Islamic philosophy recognizes the significance of ethical principles and moral values in shaping human character and actions. It provides a clear moral framework that serves as a guide for individuals to navigate their lives in a righteous and virtuous manner. This framework is rooted in the teachings of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and the Hadith, the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad.

  • The concept of human free will (Ikhtiyar): Islamic philosophy acknowledges the inherent free will of human beings to make choices and decisions. It recognizes that individuals have the capacity to exercise their own judgment and take responsibility for their actions. This concept of free will emphasizes the importance of personal agency and accountability in moral decision-making, highlighting the idea that individuals have the power to choose between good and evil.

  • The pursuit of virtue and spiritual excellence (Ihsan): Islamic philosophy encourages the cultivation of virtuous qualities and the attainment of spiritual excellence. It emphasizes the importance of striving for moral excellence and personal growth, aiming to achieve a state of Ihsan, which can be understood as the highest level of spiritual perfection. This pursuit of virtue encompasses various aspects, including the development of noble character traits, the practice of self-discipline, and the cultivation of a deep connection with God through acts of worship and devotion.

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In conclusion, the ethical dimensions of Islamic philosophy provide a comprehensive framework for individuals to lead a morally upright and spiritually fulfilling life. It emphasizes the importance of ethical conduct, recognizes the concept of human free will, and encourages the pursuit of virtue and spiritual excellence. By adhering to these principles, individuals can embark on a journey towards spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.

The Influence of Islamic Philosophy on Other Disciplines

Science and Mathematics

Islamic philosophy has had a profound influence on various disciplines, including science and mathematics. The contributions of Islamic philosophers to scientific inquiry have been extensive and have left a lasting impact on the development of these fields.

One of the notable ways in which Islamic philosophy influenced science was through the preservation and translation of ancient Greek works. During the Islamic Golden Age, scholars in the Islamic world recognized the value of Greek knowledge and dedicated themselves to translating and preserving these works. This effort resulted in the availability of Greek texts that had been lost to the Western world.

Advances in mathematics were also a significant aspect of Islamic philosophy. Islamic mathematicians made groundbreaking contributions to the field, particularly in the development of algebra. In fact, the word “algebra” itself is derived from the Arabic term “al-jabr,” which means “reunion of broken parts.” Islamic mathematicians, such as Al-Khwarizmi, made significant strides in algebraic equations, solving linear and quadratic equations, and introducing the concept of algorithms.

Astronomy was another area where Islamic philosophers made significant progress. They built upon the works of earlier civilizations, such as the Greeks and Persians, and developed sophisticated astronomical instruments and techniques. Islamic astronomers accurately calculated the movements of celestial bodies, which had practical applications in determining prayer times and establishing a reliable calendar.

Furthermore, Islamic philosophy contributed to advancements in medicine. Scholars such as Ibn Sina (Avicenna) made significant contributions to the field of medicine by compiling and synthesizing medical knowledge from various civilizations. Ibn Sina’s influential work, “The Canon of Medicine,” became a standard medical textbook in Europe for centuries.

In conclusion, Islamic philosophy has had a profound impact on science and mathematics. The preservation and translation of ancient Greek works, along with the contributions of Islamic scholars in algebra, astronomy, and medicine, have enriched these disciplines and paved the way for future scientific advancements. The unique approach to knowledge and intellectual curiosity inherent in Islamic philosophy continues to inspire and foster spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.

Art and Aesthetics

Islamic philosophy has had a profound influence on various disciplines, and one area where this influence is particularly evident is art and aesthetics. Islamic art and architecture are renowned for their intricate designs, geometric patterns, and calligraphy, all of which have deep spiritual and philosophical significance.

The impact of Islamic philosophy on Islamic art and architecture

Islamic philosophy emphasizes the notion of unity and the interconnectedness of all things. This belief is reflected in the art and architecture of the Islamic world, where the use of geometric patterns and repetitive motifs symbolizes the underlying order and harmony of the universe. Islamic art is not merely decorative; it serves as a visual representation of the spiritual and metaphysical principles found in Islamic philosophy.

The concept of beauty (Jamal) in Islamic aesthetics

In Islamic philosophy, beauty (Jamal) is considered an essential characteristic of the Divine. The concept of beauty in Islamic aesthetics goes beyond mere physical appearance and encompasses the beauty of character, actions, and intentions. It is believed that true beauty emanates from a person’s inner self, which is in harmony with the Divine. Islamic art seeks to capture this inner beauty through its intricate designs and symbolism, allowing viewers to experience a sense of spiritual elevation and inner peace.

Symbolism and spiritual significance in Islamic art forms

Islamic art forms, such as calligraphy and geometric patterns, are laden with symbolism and spiritual significance. Calligraphy, for instance, is considered a sacred art form in Islamic culture, as it is used to write verses from the Quran, the holy book of Islam. The precise strokes and intricate embellishments of calligraphy reflect the reverence and devotion to the Divine Word.

Geometric patterns, on the other hand, represent the underlying order and unity of creation. The repetition of geometric shapes, such as circles, squares, and stars, symbolizes the eternal and infinite nature of the Divine. These patterns often have no beginning or end, mirroring the concept of the eternal cycle of life and the interconnectedness of all things.

In conclusion, Islamic philosophy has left an indelible mark on the world of art and aesthetics. The influence can be seen in the intricate designs and symbolism found in Islamic art forms, as well as the emphasis on inner beauty and spiritual elevation. Islamic art serves as a visual representation of the philosophical principles found in Islamic thought, inviting viewers on a journey of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.

Contemporary Relevance of Islamic Philosophy

Harmony between Faith and Reason

Islamic philosophy is unique in its ability to bridge the gap between faith and reason, allowing for a harmonious coexistence of religious beliefs and scientific advancements. Unlike some other religious traditions, which may view science and faith as incompatible or contradictory, Islamic philosophy embraces the idea that both can complement and enrich one another.

Addressing the dichotomy between religious beliefs and scientific advancements

Islamic philosophy recognizes that there may be instances where religious teachings and scientific discoveries appear to conflict. However, instead of dismissing one in favor of the other, Islamic philosophers seek to reconcile these apparent contradictions through careful examination and interpretation. They believe that true knowledge and understanding can be attained by exploring both religious texts and scientific observations, allowing for a deeper appreciation of the world around us.

The role of Islamic philosophy in fostering intellectual dialogue and understanding

One of the remarkable aspects of Islamic philosophy is its emphasis on intellectual dialogue and understanding. Islamic scholars have long engaged in rigorous debates and discussions, not only amongst themselves but also with scholars from other philosophical traditions. These dialogues have led to a rich exchange of ideas, allowing for the development of nuanced perspectives and a deeper understanding of the world.

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Islamic philosophy encourages believers to critically analyze their own faith and engage with different philosophical perspectives. This openness to intellectual inquiry promotes a sense of intellectual humility and fosters a deep appreciation for the diversity of human thought. It encourages individuals to seek knowledge, not only from religious sources but also from scientific and philosophical traditions, leading to a holistic understanding of the world and a greater sense of inner peace.

In conclusion, the harmony between faith and reason within Islamic philosophy is a testament to its unique approach to spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. By embracing the compatibility of religious beliefs and scientific advancements, Islamic philosophy encourages believers to engage in intellectual dialogue and seek knowledge from various sources. This journey into the exploration of diverse perspectives fosters a deeper understanding of oneself and the world, ultimately leading to spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.

Spiritual Enlightenment and Inner Peace

In Islamic philosophy, the quest for spiritual enlightenment and inner peace is considered a fundamental aspect of one’s journey towards attaining a closer relationship with the Divine. It is believed that through the cultivation of spiritual awareness and the purification of the soul, individuals can experience a profound sense of tranquility and contentment.

The pursuit of spiritual growth and self-realization in Islamic philosophy

Islamic philosophy emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and self-realization as a means to attain spiritual growth. This involves delving deep within oneself to explore the intricate aspects of the human psyche and uncovering one’s true essence. Through introspection and self-discipline, individuals can gain a clearer understanding of their purpose in life and their connection to the divine.

Practices and teachings for attaining inner peace and tranquility

Islamic philosophy provides a rich framework of practices and teachings that can guide individuals on their path towards inner peace and tranquility. These practices encompass various aspects of life, including prayer, meditation, recitation of sacred texts, and acts of charity. By engaging in these practices, individuals can cultivate a deep sense of mindfulness, connecting with the divine and finding solace in their faith.

The role of Sufism in Islamic philosophy and spirituality

Sufism, a mystical tradition within Islam, plays a significant role in promoting spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. Sufis seek to attain a direct experience of the divine through devotion, contemplation, and mystical practices. Through the guidance of a spiritual teacher or guide, known as a Sufi master, individuals embark on a journey of self-discovery and transformation. Sufism emphasizes the importance of purifying the heart from negative traits and cultivating virtues such as love, compassion, and humility. By doing so, individuals can achieve a state of inner peace and harmony, transcending the limitations of the material world and connecting with the divine essence that resides within them.

In conclusion, the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace is a central theme in Islamic philosophy. Through practices such as self-reflection, prayer, and the guidance of Sufi masters, individuals can embark on a transformative journey towards self-realization and a deep connection with the divine. This journey not only brings about personal growth and fulfillment but also fosters a sense of peace and tranquility that permeates all aspects of life. Islamic philosophy thus offers a unique approach to spiritual enlightenment, inviting individuals to explore the depths of their being and find solace in their faith.

FAQs: Exploring the Uniqueness of Islamic Philosophy: A Journey into Spiritual Enlightenment and Inner Peace

What is Islamic philosophy?

Islamic philosophy refers to the intellectual tradition that emerged within the Islamic world, influenced by Greek, Persian, and Indian philosophical ideas. It encompasses a wide range of topics, including metaphysics, ethics, theology, cosmology, and epistemology, among others. Islamic philosophers sought to reconcile reason and faith, blending philosophical speculation with Islamic theology. It is a unique branch of philosophy that has made significant contributions to various fields of knowledge.

How is Islamic philosophy unique compared to other philosophical traditions?

One of the unique aspects of Islamic philosophy is its integration of reason and revelation. Islamic philosophers sought to harmonize philosophical inquiry with Islamic beliefs and scriptural teachings. They believed that knowledge obtained through reason and intellectual contemplation could help individuals deepen their understanding of the divine and their spiritual journey towards inner peace and enlightenment.

What are some key themes in Islamic philosophy?

Islamic philosophy explores various themes, including the nature of God, the relationship between faith and reason, free will and predestination, ethics, the nature of the soul, and the quest for knowledge and truth. Islamic philosophers developed sophisticated arguments and theories to address these questions, engaging in discourse with other philosophical traditions, particularly Greek philosophy.

How did Islamic philosophy contribute to the development of science and knowledge?

Islamic philosophy played a crucial role in preserving and translating ancient Greek philosophical and scientific works during the Islamic Golden Age. Islamic scholars, such as Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), not only preserved these texts but also expanded on them, contributing original insights and theories. Their works greatly influenced European thinkers during the Middle Ages and laid the foundation for the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.

Can Islamic philosophy be practiced by anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs?

Yes, Islamic philosophy can be studied and practiced by individuals from diverse religious backgrounds or no religious affiliation. While Islamic philosophy emerged within an Islamic context and drew heavily from Islamic theology, its philosophical ideas and methods can be explored and appreciated by anyone interested in the pursuit of knowledge, spiritual enlightenment, and inner peace.

How is Islamic philosophy connected to Islamic theology?

Islamic philosophy and Islamic theology (known as kalam) are closely intertwined. Islamic philosophers sought to explore and rationalize Islamic beliefs, using philosophical tools and methods to analyze concepts such as God’s existence, divine attributes, and the nature of revelation. While there may be differences in approach and emphasis, Islamic philosophy and theology are interconnected and have influenced each other throughout history.

What is the relevance of Islamic philosophy in the modern world?

Islamic philosophy continues to be relevant in the modern world in various ways. Its emphasis on reason, ethics, and the search for truth can contribute to the development of critical thinking skills and ethical frameworks in individuals and societies. Islamic philosophical concepts, such as the integration of reason and faith, can also provide insights into bridging cultural divides and fostering dialogue between different religious and philosophical traditions. Additionally, Islamic philosophy’s contributions to fields like mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and psychology continue to impact various areas of scientific and intellectual inquiry today.

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