Front Page Titles (by Subject) Ia.: APPENDIX. ON THE PROBLEM OF ETERNAL KNOWLEDGE, WHICH AVERROES HAS MENTIONED IN HIS DECISIVE DISCOURSE. - The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes
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Ia.: APPENDIX. ON THE PROBLEM OF ETERNAL KNOWLEDGE, WHICH AVERROES HAS MENTIONED IN HIS DECISIVE DISCOURSE. - Averroes (Ibn Rushd), The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes 
The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes. Tractacta, translated from the Arabic by Mohammad Jamil-Ub-Behman Barod (Baroda: Manibhai Mathurbhal Gupta, 1921).
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May God perpetuate your honour and bless you, and screen you always from the eyes of misfortune. Through your excellent intelligence and good understanding you have learned a great part of all these sciences, till your insight informed you of the doubt which arises concerning the eternal knowledge of God, with its being at the same time concerned with created things. Thus, in the interests of truth, it is now incumbent upon us to remove the doubt from your mind, after we have stated it clearly. For one who does not know the problem adequately cannot very well solve the doubt.
The question may be stated thus: If all this universe was in the knowledge of God before its creation, then, was it in His knowledge after its creation as it was before it came into existence; or was it in His knowledge before its creation quite different from that after its coming into being? If we say that the knowledge of God about it after its creation is quite different from that which it was before its creation, it becomes necessary for us to admit that the eternal knowledge is changeable; or that when the universe came into existence out of non-existence, then there is an addition to the eternal knowledge; which is impossible. Again, if we say that the knowledge of it was the same in both the conditions, then it would be said: Was the created universe the same before its coming into existence as it was after its creation? To this objection it will have to be answered that it was not the same before its creation as it was after it, otherwise the existent and the non-existent thing would be the same. When the opponent has admitted this much, he may be asked whether the real knowledge does not consist in the cognizance of an existent thing as it is. If he says: “Yes,” then accordingly it becomes necessary that when a thing changes in itself the knowledge of it must also change, otherwise it would be a knowledge of something other than the real object. Thus it would then be necessary to admit one of two things: either the eternal knowledge itself will change, or the created things would be unknown to God. And both of these alternatives are impossible with regard to God. This doubt is still further strengthened by the apparent condition of man, that is, the relation of his knowledge about non-existent things by the supposition of their existence and its relation when the thing in question is found. It is self-evident that both kinds of knowledge are different, otherwise God would have been ignorant of its existence at the time he found it. The argument which the Mutakallimun advance to meet this objection does not by any means deliver us from the doubt. They say that God knows the things before their coming into being, as they would be after they come into existence. If they say that no change occurs, they fall into mistake. If on the other hand they admit a change, they may be asked whether this change was known in the eternal knowledge or not. Thus the first doubt occurs again. On the whole it is difficult to imagine that the knowledge of a thing before and after its existence can be one and the same.
This is the statement of the doubt in the briefest terms possible, as we have put it for your sake. A solution of this doubt requires a very long discussion, but here we intend to state a point which might easily solve it. Abu Hamid (Al Ghazzali) has also tried to solve this doubt in his work: The Refutation of the Philosophers, but his method is by no means satisfactory. For he says something to this effect: he thinks the known and the knowledge are not connected with each other, so that when a change takes place in the one the other does not change in itself. So it is possible that it may happen in the case of Divine knowledge and the things existent, that is, they may change in themselves while God’s knowledge may remain the same. For instance a pillar may he on the right hand of Zaid, it may be changed to his left without any change taking place in Zaid himself. But the illustration is not at all a correct one, for the relation has changed, that is, that which was on the right side is now on the left. That in which no change has taken place is the condition of that relation - Zaid. It being so, and the knowledge is only the relation itself, it is necessary that it should change with a change in the thing known, as the change in the relation of the pillar to Zaid, for it is now on the left after being on the right.
The view which might solve this question is that it should be maintained that the condition of eternal knowledge of existent things is quite other than the created knowledge with regard to them. For the existence of a thing is the cause and means of our knowledge of it, while the eternal knowledge is itself the cause and means of the existent thing. So if a change takes place in the eternal knowledge after the coming into being of an existent thing, as it does in the created knowledge then it is involved that the former cannot be the cause but only the effect of the existent things. Thus it is necessary that there should be no change in it, as there is in the created knowledge. This mistake always occurs by our taking eternal knowledge to be like the created one, by an analogy from the seen to the unseen. The error in this analogy has already been exposed. Just as no change takes place in any agent after the creation of his act - that is, change of kind which was not found before - so no change in the eternal knowledge of God after the creation of the thing which was in His knowledge. So this doubt is removed. At the same time it is not necessary for us to say that as there is no change in eternal knowledge, therefore, He does not know an existent at the time of its creation, as it is. But we must believe that He knows not by a created but by His eternal knowledge. For a change in knowledge with a change of the existent thing is a condition of the knowledge which depends upon the existent thing, such a knowledge being created. Thus the relation of the eternal knowledge with the existent things is not the same as that of the created knowledge. It is not that there is no connection between them at all as some philosophers are said to maintain, who as the people think, say, at the time of doubt, that God has no knowledge of particulars at all. But this is not as is commonly supposed. They only say that He does not know particulars by any created knowledge, one of the conditions of which is its being created by them, by which it is an effect and not a cause. This is the last of the things about it which must be remembered. For our reason leads us to the fact that God is the Knower of things, all of them emanating from Him. This is so because He is a knower, not because of His existence, nor of His existence in any form, but only because of His being a Knower. God has said “Shall not He know all things who hath created them, since He is the sagacious, the knowing”22 The arguments also tell us that He knows by a knowledge which may be akin to created knowledge. So it is necessary that there should be some other knowledge for the existent things - and this is the eternal of God. Moreover, how is it possible to suppose that the Peripatetic Philosophers think that the eternal knowledge does not include particulars, while they say that these are a cause of admonition to us in our dreams, divine revelations, and other kinds of inspiration?
That is what we think about the solution of the problem — a solution in which there is no doubt or suspicion. God is the only helper to right judgment, and leader to truth. Peace be upon you, and blessings of God and His beatitude. God is the best knower of truth: and to Him is the return and the refuge.
AN EXPOSITION OF THE METHODS OF ARGUMENTS CONCERNING THE BELIEFS OF THE FAITH, AND A DETERMINATION OF UNCERTAIN DOUBTS AND MISLEADING INNOVATIONS IN INTERPRETATIONS.†
And after - Praise be to God, who sets apart anyone whom He will for His knowledge, rendering him fit for understanding His Law and following His path, informing him of the hidden recesses of His knowledge, the real meaning of His inspiration, and the purpose of sending the Apostle to creatures, in spite of what has become clear about the doubt of the doubters among the Prophet’s own followers, and changes of meanings introduced by the false among his own people. He has disclosed to him that there are interpretations which God and His Apostle have not ordered. May there be the most perfect blessings upon the Trusty of His inspiration, and the Seal of His prophets, and upon his family and relations.
We have already described in the foregoing tractate the conformity of philosophy with the Law, and its other relations. We have said there that the Law is of two kinds: exoteric and esoteric. The duty of the common people is to follow the exoteric law; while the duty of learned men is to follow the esoteric one. So the duty of the common people is to follow the meanings of the Law in their literal sense, leaving aside every interpretation of it. The learned men are not permitted to expose their interpretations to the common people, as Ali, (upon whom be peace) has said, “Tell the people what they can understand. Do you wish to give the lie to God and His Apostle?” So I thought that in the present book I should examine the exoteric meanings which the Law intends the common people to follow, and in those, search the real purpose of the Law-giver, (on whom be peace) according to my ability and knowledge. For the people of His Law have been extremely disturbed, so much so that many misguided sects and different divisions, have been produced, every one of which thinks that it is following the best Law, and that he who disagrees is either an innovator or an infidel whose life and property is at stake. All this is directly opposed to the purpose of the Law-giver. Its cause lies in the misleading things about the Law which have been put forward.
In our own times, there are four of these sects which are famous. In the first place, there is the sect of the Asharites, and these are the people who are commonly taken to be men of Sunna. Then there are Mutazilites, the sects of the Batinites, (Esoteric), and the sect of the Bombasts. Every one of these sects has its own peculiar beliefs about God, and has turned many an exoteric word of the Law to interpretations, which they have applied to those beliefs. They think that theirs was the original Law which all the people are asked to follow, and he who deviates from it is either an innovator or an infidel. But when you look into all their views and then examine the purpose of the Law, it would appear that a great part of them are recent opinions and innovating interpretations. Of them I will mention here those indispensable beliefs in the Law, without which Faith does not become complete, and will search, in every one of them, the real purpose of the Law-giver, (peace be upon him,) beyond that which has been made the basis of the Law, and its beliefs before the coming into use of incorrect interpretations. I will begin by explaining the intention of the Law - giver as to the beliefs which should be held by the common people about God, and the methods which He adopted towards them. All this is contained in the Divine Book. We will begin by an exposition of the methods which leads to the knowledge of the existence of the Creator, for this is the first thing which a student ought to know. But before this, it is necessary that we should mention the opinions of the well - known sects.
The Bombasts hold that the method of obtaining knowledge of the existence of the Creator is by hearing and not by reason, that is, the belief in His existence, the verification of which is incumbent upon all men, is enough to be taught by the Law-giver, and believed as an article of Faith, as is the case with his teachings about the condition of the Day of Judgment, and others with which our reason has no power to deal. This is obviously a misleading sect, for it falls short of the purpose of the Law, as regards the method adopted towards all the people, leading them to the knowledge of the existence of God, and calling them to the confession of His belief. It is quite evident from many verses of the Divine Book, that in it the people have been called to verify the existence of the Creator by arguments of reason which are mentioned in it. For instance, there are the following verses of the Quran, “O men of Mecca, serve your Lord who has created you and those before you,”1 and “Is there any doubt concerning God, the Creator of heaven and earth?”2 and other verses on the subject found therein. It is not fit for a man to say, that if these arguments had been necessary for believing in God — that is, had his faith been not completed without understanding them — the Prophet would not have invited anybody to Islam without presenting to him all these arguments, for the Arabs already knew the existence of the Creator, so that God has said, “If thou asketh them who has created the heavens and the earth, they will surely answer, God,”3 and hence there was no use giving arguments. It is impossible to find a man so stupid and dull, that he cannot understand the arguments advanced by Law for the common people, through the Prophet. This is to say the least. If there be found such a man, then it is his duty to believe in God by hearing alone. So much for the ideas of the Bombasts about the exoterics of the Law.
The Asharites are of opinion that the verification of the existence of God cannot be attained but by reason. But about this they have adopted a method, which is not among the methods adopted by Law, and is not mentioned in the Quran, nor the people invited through it to believe. Their well-known method is founded upon the fact that the universe is a created thing, which is itself based upon the theory of the composition of atoms, and that the atom is a created thing, and that other bodies are created out of it. The method which they adopt for the exposition of the creation of an atom, which they call al-Jauharat u’l Faridah (sole Essence), is a misleading one even for many religious men in the business of controversy, not to speak of the common people. And despite this it is a method devoid of philosophy, and does not lead to a belief in the existence of the Creator. For if we suppose the universe is a created thing, it becomes necessary, as they say, that its Creator must also be a “Created” object. But a doubt presents itself about the existence of this created thing, which is not in the power of scholastic theology to solve. And that is this, that we can take this thing to be neither eternal nor created. For if we take it as created, then it must require another created thing, and this another, and so on to infinity. This is impossible. On the other hand, if we take Him as eternal, then it is necessary that his action in connection with the result must also be eternal. In this way the results also become eternal. It is necessary for a created thing that its existence be dependent upon a created action. Their hypothesis can only be proved if they admit that a created action can be performed by an eternal agent. For the result of the action might be dependent on the action of the agent. But they do not admit it, for according to their principles what is coeval with created things is itself created. Moreover, if the agent sometimes acts and at other times remains inactive, it is necessary, that there be a condition better applicable in one state of things than in the other. Then about this condition the same question will rise, and so it will go on till infinity. And what the Mutakallimun say in answer to this objection that the created action is the result of eternal intention, does not relieve us of our doubt or satisfy our mind. For intention without action is dependent upon the act, and if the act is a created thing, then it is necessary that the intention in connection with it must also be a created thing. It makes no difference whether we take the intention as eternal or created, rising before the action or with it. So we may take it as we like. All the same it is necessary for them to admit either of the three things about the universe — either a created action, with a created intention or a created action and an eternal intention, or an eternal action with an eternal intention. But a created thing is impossible from an eternal action without any expedient, even if we admit for their sake, that it comes into existence by eternal action; and putting intention itself or the action, connected with the act is a thing which cannot be understood. This is supposing an act without an agent, with a result, without any intention. Intention is a condition of the action and not the action itself. Also it is necessary that this eternal intention, should be connected with non-existence of a created thing, for a period of time which is indefinite. So if a created thing be non-existence for an unknown period of time, then it does not become connected with the intention at the time of its creation, except after the completion of a time of which there is no limit, and that which has no limit has no end. So it becomes necessary that the intention should never take the form of action, or a time without limit should come to an end, which is impossible. This is the argument of the Mutakallimun, on which they rely in proving that the revolutions of the heavens are created. Moreover, it is necessary that to the intention which precedes the object, and is connected with it, at a certain time, there should be created in it at the time of creation of the object a determination for doing so. For the determination for the creation of an object cannot be found before that time, because if at the time of action there be found no additional quality in the agent, than that he had at the time of intention, then action from him at that time would not be quite as necessary from him as inactivity. We may go on in this way, finding all the obscure and intricate doubts, from which, not to speak of the common people, even clever men, learned in scholastic theology, in philosophy, cannot escape. So if the common people be burdened with a knowledge of these things, it would be an unbearable problem for them.
Then again the methods adopted by the Asharites in proving the creation of the universe are defective for all classes of men. The common people, by their very nature, cannot understand them, and they are at the same time in no way reasonable. So they are neither fit for the learned, nor for the masses. We warn our readers of them and say: The methods which they adopt are of two kinds. One of them, the more famous of the two and upon which a majority of them relies, is based upon three premises, from which they derive the proof for the creation of the universe. They are: (1) that essences cannot be separated from accidents, that is, they cannot be devoid of them; (2) that the accidents are created things; (3) that that which cannot be separated from a created thing is itself created, that is, that which cannot be severed from the created thing is itself created. Now, if by the first premise which says that the essences cannot be separated from the accidents, they mean the bodies which stand by themselves, then the premise is correct. But if by essence they mean the particle which cannot be divided, which they call Sole Essence, then there is doubt about it, , which is not easy to solve. For the existence of an indivisible essence is not well established in itself, and about it there are many opposite and highly contradictory opinions, and it is not in the power of scholastic theology to bring truth out of them. That is the business of philosophers who are very few in number.
The arguments which Asharites use are for the most part exhortative. For their famous argument on this is that they say that our first knowledge about a thing is, for instance, that an elephant is bigger than an ant, for it is accepted that the former has more particles in it than the latter. If it be so, then it is made up of particles and is not a compact whole in itself. So when the body is destroyed it changes into particles, and when composed it is composed of them. But this is wrong. For they have taken a divisible quantity as a continuous one, and then thought that that which is applicable to the divisible is also applicable to the continuous. This is true about numbers, that is, we say that a certain number is more than the other, by its containing more particles in it, that is, more units. But it cannot be true of a continuous quantity, of which we say that it is bigger or greater. In this way everything may be enumerated without any reference to its bulk at all. And the science of mathematics becomes the science of number only. It is well-known that every bulk can be considered with regard to line, surface and volume. Moreover, a continuous quantity it is possible to cut in the middle and thus get two parts. But this is impossible in the units of number, nay, it is opposed to it. Then, again, the body and other particles of a continuous quantity are capable of being divided. But everything divisible is either divided into other divisible quantities, or into indivisible ones. If it is divided into indivisible ones then we have found particles which cannot be divided. And if it is divided into other divisible parts, then again the question arises whether these can be divided into divisible or indivisible parts. So if it can be divided a limitless number of times, there would be limitless particles in a limited thing. But it is one of the primary principles of knowledge that particles in a limited thing are limited.
Among the obscure doubts which can be attributed to the Asharites is the question whether if an atom is brought into being, this is different from creation itself, for it is one of the accidents? When the created thing exists the act of creation is nonexistent for according to their principles, the accidents cannot be separated from their essences. So this has compelled them to regard creation as pertaining to the existent things and not for it. Then they may be asked; if creation implies the non-existence of a thing, with what is the act of the agent connected, for, according to them, there is no mean between existence and non-existence. If this be so, and, according to them, the action of the agent is connected neither with non existence, nor with that which is and nevertheless brings about an existence, it must be connected with a middle substance. This doubt has compelled the Mutazilites to say that there is a substance, even in non-existence, which they call Matter or First Element. They should admit that that which is non-existent can be made existent by action. Both of these sects must also admit the existence of a void. These are questions, which as you see, cannot be solved by dogmatics. Thus, it is clear that such a method cannot be made a basis of the knowledge of God, especially for the masses. We will shortly describe a clearer method of knowing God.
Now as to the second premise, according to which it is said that all the accidents are created things:—This is a premise concerning which there are doubts, and its meaning is as hidden as the soul in a body. For we have observed many bodies to be created and such is also the case with some accidents. So there is no difference in transferring an observed object to the invisible, in both the cases. For if it is necessary, with regard to accidents, to apply what applies of the visible things to the invisible, that is, if we should suppose a thing which we have not seen, so created, by the analogy of that which we have observed, then we should also apply it to the essences. Thus we can become quite careless of proving the creation of accidents, as distinct from that of essences. The creation of the accidents of the heavenly bodies is extremely doubtful to the observer just as there is doubt in their essential creation. For the creation of their accidents is never perceived. So it is necessary that we should clearly observe them. This is the method which surely and certainly leads pious people to the knowledge of God. This is the method of the chosen men, and that with which God has particularly blessed the prophet Abraham. He says: “And thus did We show unto Abraham the kingdom of heaven and eaith, that he might become of those who firmly believe.”5 For the whole doubt concerns the heavenly bodies themselves. Many controversialists have stopped here and believed that these are so many gods.
Again, time is one of the accidents, the creation of which it is impossible to imagine, for it is necessary that the non-existence of a thing be preceded by time. But in this case it cannot be imagined that the non-existence of a thing can be preceded by itself, except by accepting time as existent. So also it is difficult to imagine the creation of the space in which the universe is, for every existent thing occupies a former space. For if it is a void, as is the opinion of those who think that the void itself is space, its creation also, if we suppose it to be created, must been have preceded by another void. And if the space be a tangible body, as is the opinion of another group, then it should be contained in another body, which would require another, and so on without limit. These are all obscure problems and the arguments which are brought to disprove the eternity of the accidents, are necessary for one who believes in the eternity of those accidents which can be perceived; that is, one who asserts that not all the accidents are created. For they say that the accidents which can be perceived by the senses are created things. If they are not created, then they will move from one place to another, or will be latent in the place in which they are to appear, before they make their appearance. Then they disprove both of these arguments, and think that they have established that all the accidents are created things. But it has become apparent from what they have said, that the apparently created portions of the accidents are created, not those whose creation is not apparent, nor those in whose case there is doubt, such as the accidents which are in the heavenly bodies, in their movement, in their shape, etc., etc. So their arguments about the creation of all accidents, can be interpreted by the analogy of the visible to the invisible. This is an exhortative argument, except in the suggestion of reasonable arguments which depend here on the certainty of the similarity of the character of the visible and the invisible.
The third premise which says, that that which cannot be separated from a created thing is itself created, is equivocal, for it can be understood in two ways: the thing which cannot be separated from the class of created things, but can be removed from its units; and that which cannot be separated from any one of the things in question, as if one were to say, “That which cannot be separated from this blackness in question.” The second meaning is the correct one, that is it cannot be separated from a certain accident, which is created, for it is absolutely necessary that it should also be a created thing. For if it be eternal it becomes devoid of that accident, from which we suppose that it cannot separate. This separation is impossible. The first explanation, and that is which they mean, does not necessarily involve the creation of place, that is, that which is not separated from the class of created things. For it is possible to imagine a single place, that is, a body upon which follow accidents without limit, either opposed to one another or otherwise, as you were to say, movements without limit. Such is the opinion of many ancient philosophers about the universe, that it is made little by little. This is why, when tho Mutakallimun saw the weakness of this premise, they resolved to make it strong and secure, by making it clear, that according to them, limitless accidents cannot follow upon a single point. For they maintain that on this occasion it is necessary that there cannot be found any other accident, except that there be an unlimited number of accidents before it at the place in question. This helps them to the impossibility of their presence, for it is necessary that it should not be there, except after the completion of an unlimited number. As the limitless never ends, it follows that the thing which we have supposed should not be there. For instance, consider the movement of the heavenly bodies, as we know them today. If there were before it limitless movements, then it is inevitable that this particular movement should not occur. They give the example of a man, who said to another, “I will not give you this dinar, till I have given you before it a limitless number of dinars.” By this it is not possible for him to give the dinar in question at all. But this example is not a correct one. For in it there is a primary object, then a limit, and then another object between them, which is without limit. For he has said it in a limited time. So he has stipulated that he would give the dinar between the time in which he is, and the time of which he speaks, between which there is a time without limit. This is the period in which he would give him the dinars without limit, which is impossible. So it is quite clear that this example does not illustrate the object for which it is given. Their opinion that the existence of a thing which is found after limitless things, is impossible, is not correct in all the cases. For the things which happen one after another are of two kinds: those which come to pass in cycles, and those which occur in order and arrangement. The things which occur in cycles are necessarily unlimited, except that something may interfere to prevent them. For instance if the sun rises there must be its setting; if there is a setting then it must rise, and if it rise it must have risen before. In the same way, if there are clouds there must be vapours rising from the earth; if there rise vapours from the earth, then it must be wet, if the earth is wet, there must have been rain, and if there was rain there must have been clouds, and if thus there were clouds there must similarly have been clouds before them. Again among those things which happen by order, is, for instance, the creation of man from man, and of that man from another. If this happens by essence then it can be taken as limitless, for which the first link is not found, the last also cannot be ascertained. If this is by accident, as for instance, if man be really made by some one other than man, who must be his father, then the position of his father would be the same as that of an instrument in the hands of a maker. So it is not possible to find an agent doing limitless actions, with countless different instruments. All these views are not clear in this connection. We have mentioned them here, that it may become known, that the arguments which these people advance are no arguments at all, nor are they reasonings fit for the masses, that is, open and clear arguments which God has imposed upon all his creatures for the sake of belief. It must now have become clear to you that this method is neither philosophical nor according to Law.
The other method is that which Abul Maali has deduced and described in one of his tractates known as Nizamiyyah. He has based it upon two premises: in the first place, that the universe and all that it contains may be conceived as other than what it really is. It may be quite consistent, for instance, if it may be imagined smaller than it is, or bigger, or of some other shape than it really has or having more bodies in number than it really contains or the movements which are made in it may go in the opposite direction from that which they take now. This may be so much so that it may become possible that a stone should go upwards, and fire downwards, or that the movement starting in the east should start in the west, or the western from the eastern. The second premise is that every transient thing is created, and for it there is a creator; that is, an agent who made it in this way better than in any other.
The first premise is exhortative and very elementary. Its fallacy is quite apparent with regard to some aspects of the universe — for instance, the existence of man in some other form than he now possesses; while in some others there is doubt — for instance, whether the movement from the east might change to one from the west and vice versa, for this is not known in itself. It is possible that for this there may be a cause the existence of which is not evident, or it may be one of those causes which are hidden from man. It is possible that whatever of these things a man sees, is like one seeing for the first time things of the manufacture of which he is ignorant. For such a man may think that all or parts of the thing may possibly be made in just the opposite fashion from that in which they really are made; and still in spite of this idea the same work may be obtained from them for which they were made. In this case there would be no art in them. But its maker, and one who is associated with the maker in some of his knowledge, know that the whole thing is just the opposite of what that man has seen; and that there is nothing in it but that which is absolutely necessary, or the existence of which makes it more perfect and complete, though outwardly it may not seem quite necessary in it. It is quite clear that this manufactured thing, may in this connection, be taken as an illustration of God’s Creation — praised be its Great Creator.
This premise in being exhortative might be fit for all, but being untrue and falsifying the wisdom of the Creator, is not fit for any. It falsifies philosophy, because philosophy is nothing else but the knowledge of the causes of things. If there be no necessary causes for a thing, which make its existence necessary in the form in which it exists, then there is no particular knowledge which may be attributed to the wise Creator. Just as if there had not been some necessary causes for the existence of any manufactured thing, there would have been no art at all, and no wisdom by which its maker might be praised, and which might not be found in any man other than the maker. Where would be found any wisdom in a man, if he could perform all his actions by any member of his body, or without any member at all, so much so that he could see with his ears, as he could see with his eyes, or smell with his eyes as he could with his nose. This is all only falsifying philosophy, and the meaning for which God has called himself Wise (Hakim) — High and Holy be his name from such imputations. We find that Avicenna has also adopted this doctrine, for many reasons. He says that everything, except the maker, when taken by itself, may either be possible or allowable. Of the latter - that is, things allowable, there are two kinds: One is allowable as regards its maker, the other is necessary as regards the maker; and possible as regards its essence. The only thing which is necessary, according to all reasons, is the first maker. This opinion is extremely incorrect. Because that which is possible in itself and its essence, will not possibly turn a necessity beyond its maker, but by a change of the possible nature into a necessary one. If it be said that by these words he means “Possible with regard to itself”, that is, when the maker arises it will rise also, then we would say that this rising is impossible. But this is not the place to discuss the matter with this man. We ventured to talk of him, because of the many views which he has invented. Now we would return to our former theme. The second premise, which says that every transient thing is created, is not in itself obvious. The philosophers have differed about it. Plato allows that the apparently transient thing may be eternal, while Aristotle denies it. It is a very intricate matter, and cannot be made clear except to the philosophers, that is, learned men, whom God has set apart for His knowledge, and has in His Book, coupled their witness with that of Himself and His angels.
Abul Maali has tried to make the premise clear by some other premises. First, that there should be something unique in every transient thing, which may make it more preferable by one of the two qualities. Second, that this particular thing cannot be any other than that intended. Third, that the thing which exists by intention is created. Then he says that a transient thing comes into existence by our intention, that is it is produced by previous volition. For all the actions are performed either by nature or by intention. And nature is not one of the passing things which are alike, that is, it not only creates the dissimilar but does the both. For instance, sea-anemone will absorb the yellow lob in the right side of the body and not in the left. But intention is the thing which is particularly applicable to a thing opposed to its like. Then he adds that the universe is like its creation and exists in the position in the atmosphere where it was made. By the void he means another void in which the world was made. So he concluded that the universe was made by intention. The premise which says that it is intention which fixes the shape of a thing, is correct, but that universe is surrounded by a void is wrong, or at least not clear. Then again according to their notions, his act of placing the void is bad. That is, it must be eternal, otherwise it would require another void for it. The premise saying that in this connection intention is nothing but a created thing is not clear. For the intention of an action is connected with the desired act itself, for it is one of its adjuncts. And it is clear that when one adjunct is found with the action the other must be there, for example the father and the son. If one be found potentially the other must also be so. Hence if the intention of the action is created, then necessarily the desired act must also be created. If the intention of the action be eternal, then the thing desired by that action must also be eternal. The intention which precedes the intended object, is said to be a potential intention only; that is, the intention which has not yet brought its intended object into being. This is quite clear, for when the intended object has appeared, then it becomes an existent thing, which it was not before the appearance of the intended object in action. When this becomes the cause of the creation of an intended thing, only by means of action, then, if the Mutakallimun assert that intention is created, it becomes clear that the intended object must also be created. From the Law it is clear that there is no need to go so deeply into the problem as far as the masses are concerned. So it has not mentioned any eternal or created intention, but has only said that it exists and the things are created. So God says: — “Verily, Our speech upon anything when We will the same is, that We only say unto it, Be; and it is.”6 This has been so because the masses cannot understand the idea of created things from an eternal intention. But the fact is that the Law has not mentioned whether the intention is created or eternal, this being a doubtful thing for many people. The Mutakallimun have also no certain argument to advance for providing the possibility of a created intention for creation. For the principle with which they maintain their position for negating the existence of intention as eternal, is the premise which we have already mentioned, that is, the thing which cannot be separated from the created thing is itself created. We will mention this again when talking of intention.
From the foregoing it has become clear that the well-known methods adopted by Asharites for the knowledge of God are certain neither philosophical, nor by Law. This would be quite clear to anyone who would look closely into the kind of arguments advanced in the Divine Book about the knowledge of the existence of the Creator. For if you look closely into this matter you will find that the arguments comprise both qualities, those of being certain and at the same time clear, without being complex, that is, they have few premises.
As to the Sufis their method in theorising is not a philosophical method — that is, made up of a number of premises, and syllogisms. They maintain that the knowledge of God, or of anything existent, is found in our own hearts, after its detachment from all physical desires, and concentration of mind upon the desired object. In support of their principle they bring many an argument from the exoteric side of Law. For instance they quote the Divine words, “And fear God, and God will instruct you,”7 and, “Whoever do their best endeavour to prompt our true religion, We will direct them unto Our ways;8 and again, “If ye fear God, He will grant you a distinction,”9 and many other verses of this kind which are considered to be helpful for their purpose. We say that this method, if we suppose it to be real, is not meant for all people. Had this method been satisfactory for all people then the philosophical method would have been quite futile, and its existence among the people would have been useless, and with it the existence of the Quran. For that always invites us to theorising, judging, and admonishing by way of philosophy. We of course do not deny that the control of physical desires is a condition for healthy thinking, as physical health is one of its conditions. For the control of desires is profitable in acquiring knowledge by itself, if it be made a condition for it, just as health is a condition for education, though it is not very useful for it. That is why our Law has invited all of us to this method and has insisted upon it, that is, for work, not that it is sufficient in itself, as these people think, but that it is useful for thinking as we have already described. This would be quite clear to any one who cares to ponder and think over it.
As to the Mutazilites — their books have not reached us in sufficient number in this Peninsula (Spain) that we may be able to form a fair estimate of the method which they have adopted in this matter. But it seems that their methods are like those of the Asharites.
If now that it is clear that none of these methods are in accordance with that by which the Law invites all the people, according to the difference in their dispositions, to a confession of the existence of God, it may be asked: What is that method which the Law has laid down in the Divine Book, and upon which the Companions of the Prophet depended? We would say that the method which the Divine Book has adopted, and by which it has invited all to believe, is, when thoroughly investigated from the Quran, dependent upon two principles. The one is a knowledge of God’s solicitude for man, and the creation of everything for his sake. We would call this the argument of solicitude. The second is the creation of the essences of the existent things, as for example, the creation of life in the minerals, and feeling and intelligence. We would call this method the “argument of creation.” The first method is founded upon two principles: first that all the existent things suit man; secondly, that this suitability must have existed in the mind of the Maker before He intended to make the object in question, for it cannot be obtained by chance alone. Now their suitability for the existence of man can be easily ascertained by the suitability of day and night, sun and moon, for the existence of man. Such is also the case with the suitability of the four seasons, and of the place in which he lives, that is, the earth. It is also apparent with respect to animals, vegetables, and minerals; and many other things, such as rain, rivers, seas, the whole of the earth, water, fire and air. It is also evident from the different members of his body, on account of their suitability for the preservation of his life and existence. On the whole, a knowledge of the benefit derived from all the existent things may be included in it. So it is necessary for a man who wants to know God perfectly, to investigate the benefits derived from existent things. In the argument of creation is included the existence of the animal world, the plant world, and the heavens. This method is again based upon two principles, which can be found out by every man by his very nature. The one is that all things have been made and created. This is quite clear in itself, in the case of animals and plants, as God has said, “Verily the idols which ye invoke, beside God, can never create a single fly, though they may all assemble for that purpose.”10 We see an inorganic substance and then there is life in it. So we know for certain, that there is an inventor and bestower of life, and He is God. Of the heavens we know by their movements, which never become slackened, that they work for our benefit by divine solicitude, and are subordinate to our welfare. Such an appointed and subordinate object is always created for some purpose. The second principle is that for every created thing there is a creator. So it is right to say from the two foregoing principles that for every existent thing there is an inventor. There are many arguments, according to the number of the created things, which can be advanced to prove this premise. Thus it is necessary for one who wants to know God as He ought to be known, to acquaint himself with the essence of things, so that he may get information about the creation of all things. For who cannot understand the real substance and purpose of a thing, cannot understand the minor meaning of its creation. It is to this that God refers in the following verse, “Or do they not contemplate the heaven and the earth, and the things which God has created?”11 And so a man who would follow the purpose of philosophy in investigating the existence of things, that is, would try to know the cause which led to its creation, and the purpose of it would know the argument of kindness most perfectly. These two arguments are those adopted by Law.
The verses of the Quran leading to a knowledge of the existence of God are dependent only on the two foregoing arguments. It will be quite clear to anyone who will examine closely the verses, which occur in the Divine Book in this connection. These, when investigated, will be found to be of three kinds: either they are verses showing the “arguments of kindness,” or those mentioning the “arguments of creation,” or those which include both the kinds of arguments. The following verses may be taken as illustrating the argument of kindness. “Have we not made the earth for a bed, and the mountains for stakes to find the same? And have we not created you of two sexes; and appointed your sleep for rest; and made the night a garment to cover you; and destined the day to the gaining of your livelihood and built over you seven solid heavens; and placed therein a burning lamp? And do we not send down from the clouds pressing forth rain, water pouring down in abundance, that we may thereby produce corn, and herbs, and gardens planted thick with trees?12 and, “Blessed be He Who hath placed the twelve signs in the heavens; hath placed therein a lamp by day, and the moon which shineth by night;”13 and again, “Let man consider his food.”14 The following verses refer to the argument of invention, “Let man consider, therefore of what he is created. He is created of the seed poured forth, issuing from the loins, and the breast bones;”15 and, “Do they not consider the camels, how they are created; the heaven, how it is raised; the mountains, how they are fixed; the earth how it is extended;”16 and again, “O man, a parable is propounded unto you; wherefore hearken unto it. Verily the idols which they invoke, besides God, can never create a single fly, though they may all assemble for the purpose.”17 Then we may point to the story of Abraham, referred to in the following verse, “I direct my face unto Him Who hath created heaven and earth; I am orthodox, and not of the idolators.”18 There may be quoted many verses referring to this argument. The verses comprising both the arguments are also many, for instance, “O men, of Mecca, serve your Lord, Who has created you, and those who have been before you: peradventure you will fear Him; Who hath spread the earth as a bed for you, and the heaven as a covering, and hath caused water to descend from heaven, and thereby produced fruits for your sustenance. Set not up, therefore, any equals unto God, against your own knowledge.”19 His words, “Who hath created you, and those who have been before you,” lead us to the argument of creation; while the words, “who has spread the earth” refer to the argument of divine solicitude for man. Of this kind also are the following verses of the Quran, “One sign of the resurrection unto them is the dead earth; We quicken the same by rain, and produce therefrom, various sorts of grain, of which they eat;”20 and, “Now in the creation of heaven and earth, and the vicissitudes of night and day are signs unto those who are endowed with understanding, who remember God standing, and sitting, and lying on their sides; and meditate on the creation of heaven and earth, saying O Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain, far be it from Thee, therefore deliver us from the torment of hell fire.”21 Many verses of this kind comprise both the kinds of arguments.
This method is the right path by which God has invited men to a knowledge of His existence, and informed them of it through the intelligence which He has implanted in their nature. The following verse refers to this fixed and innate nature of man, “And when the Lord drew forth their posterity from the loins of the sons of Adam, and took them witness against themselves, Am I not your Lord? They answered, Yea, we do bear witness.”22 So it is incumbent for one who intends to obey God, and follow the injunction of His Prophet, that he should adopt this method, thus making himself one of those learned men who bear witness to the divinity of God, with His own witness, and that of His angels, as He says, “God hath borne witness, that there is no God but He, and the angels, and those who are endowed with wisdom profess the same; who executeth righteousness; there is no God but He; the Mighty, the Wise.”23 Among the arguments for both of themselves is the praise which God refers to in the following verse, “Neither is there any thing which doth not celebrate his praise; but ye understand no their celebration thereof.”24
It is evident from the above arguments for the existence of God that they are dependent upon two categories of reasoning. It is also clear that both of these methods are meant for particular people; that is, the learned. Now as to the method for the masses. The difference between the two lies only in details. The masses cannot understand the two above mentioned arguments but only what they can grasp by their senses; while the learned men can go further, and learn by reasoning also, besides learning by sense. They have gone so far that a learned man has said, that the benefits the learned men derive from the knowledge of the members of human and animal body are a thousand and one. If this be so, then this is the method which is taught both by Law and by Nature. It is the method which was preached by the Prophet and the divine books. The learned men do not mention these two lines of reasonings to the masses, not because of their number, but because of a want of depth of learning on their part about the knowledge of a single thing only. The example of the common people, considering and pondering over the universe, is like a man who looks into a thing, the manufacture of which he does not know. For all that such a man can know about it is that it has been made, and that there must be a maker of it. But, on the other hand the learned look into the universe, just as a man knowing the art would do; try to understand the real purpose of it. So it is quite clear that their knowledge about the Maker, as the maker of the universe, would be far better than that of the man who only knows it as made. The atheists, who deny the Creator altogether, are like men who can see and feel the created things, but would not acknowledge any Creator for them, but would attribute all to chance alone, and that they come into being by themselves.
[22. ]Quran lxvi 14.
[† ]A translation of Al-Kashf’an Ma[Editor: illegible character]hij i’l Adillah fi Aqaid-il Millah, [Editor: illegible character] Tarif ma Waqa fiha [Editor: illegible character] i’l T[Editor: illegible character]il min Shubhi’l Muzighah wa Bid’ill Mudillah.
[1. ]Quran ii, 19.
[2. ]Quran xiv, 11.
[3. ]Quran xxxix, 39.
[5. ]Quran vi, 75.
[6. ]Quran xvi, 42.
[7. ]Quran ii, 282.
[8. ]Quran xxix, 69.
[9. ]Quran viii, 29.
[10. ]Quran xxii, 72.
[11. ]Quran vii, 184.
[12. ]Quran lxxvii, 6-16
[13. ]Quran xxv. 62.
[14. ]Quran lxxx, 24.
[15. ]Quran lxxxvi, 6.
[16. ]Quran lxxxviii, 17.
[17. ]Quran xxii, 78
[18. ]Quran vi, 79. The story referred to will be found in the preceding verses.
[19. ]Quran ii, 19.
[20. ]Quran xxxvi, 33.
[21. ]Quran iii, 188.
[22. ]Quran vii, 171.
[23. ]Quran, iii., 16.
[24. ]Quran, xvii., 46.