Front Page Titles (by Subject) OF THE UNITY OF GOD - The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes
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OF THE UNITY OF GOD - 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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OF THE UNITY OF GOD
Now then if this is the method adopted by the Law, it may be asked: What is the way of proving the unity of God by means of the Law; that is, the knowledge of the religious formula that “there is no god, but God.” The negation contained in it is an addition to the affirmative, which the formula contains, while the affirmative has already been proved. What is the purpose of this negation? We would say that the method, adopted by the Law, of denying divinity to all but God is according to the ordinance of God in the Quran, contained in the following three verses. First, “If there were either in heaven or on earth gods beside God, verily both would be corrupted.”25 Secondly, “God has not begotten issue; neither is there any other God with him; otherwise every other God would surely take away that which he has created; and some of them had enabled themselves over the others. Far be it that from God, which they affirm of Him.”26 Thirdly, “Say, unto the idolators, if there were gods with Him, as ye say, they would surely seek an occasion of making some attempt against the possessor of the Throne.”27 The argument contained in the first verse is implanted in our dispositions by our very nature. For it is well - known that if there be two kings, and the orders of the one be as effectual as those of the other, it is not possible to have even a single city under their guidance. It is impossible to have one action of a single kind from two actors. So it is necessary that, if both of them begin work at the same time, the city would be ruined, except in the case that one should work and the other remain inactive. This is against our conception of divinity. For when the two actions of the same kind are gathered upon a single object, then that object must necessarily be destroyed. This is the meaning of the verse, “If there were either in the heaven or on earth gods besides God, both would be corrupted.” The verse, “Every god has surely taken away that which he had created.” has been revealed in refutation of the argument of those who believe in many gods, entrusted with different works. For in this case it becomes incumbent that the gods doing different works be independent of one another, and that they should not be existent at one and the same time. But as the world is one it is necessary that there be not in it gods with different duties. The third verse, “Say unto the idolators if there were gods with him, as ye say, they would surely seek an occasion of making some attempt against the Possessor of the Throne,” is like the first, an argument to prove the impossibility of the existence of two gods, whose duties are the same. This verse means that had there been in the world any other god, but the present one, able to create the world and those in it, so that his relation to it be that of a creator, then he must live with God on the Throne. Thus there would be found two existent things of the same kind in a single place. But this is impossible. For when the relation is one, the related must also be one, that is, they cannot be gathered in a single place as they cannot live in it. The relation of God to the Throne is just its opposite: the Throne exists for Him, and not He for the Throne. That is what God has said, “His Throne is extended over heaven and earth, and the preservation of them is no burden unto him.”28 This is the argument by nature or by Law for proving the unity of God. The difference between the learned and the masses is that the learned know more about the creation of the world, and the purpose of its different parts, like a single body, than the common people. It is to this that the latter part of the verse refers, “God forbid! and far, very far, be that which they utter! The seven heavens praise him, and the earth, and all who are therein: neither is there anything which doth not celebrate His praise; but ye understand not their celebration thereof: He is gracious and merciful.”29 The argument which the Asharites deduce from this verse, calling it the “argument of impossibility,” is neither in accordance with natural nor legal arguments. It is not in accordance with nature, because what they say is without any proof at all; while it is insufficient by Law, because the common people cannot understand it, not to speak of their being satisfied with it. They say, that if there be two gods, then it is more probable that they would differ. If this were to happen, then there would be one of the following three cases, there being no fourth alternative. Either the desire of both of them would be accomplished, or the desire of neither would not. They say that it is impossible that the desire of neither of them be accomplished, but if it be so then the universe would neither be existent nor non-existent. If the desire of both of them be accomplished, then the universe would be both existent and non-existent at the same time. So there remains no alternative but that the desire of one be accomplished, the other’s remaining unfulfilled. So one whose desire remains unfulfilled is helpless, and the helpless cannot be a God. The weakness of this argument is that as it is possible to suppose that they differ, it is just as possible to presume that they agree, a fact more becoming to the gods than difference of opinion. If they agree about the creation of the world, they would be like two craftsmen agreed upon making something. If it be so then it must be said that their actions help them to work and live in a single place, except that some one may say, that perhaps one would do one thing and the other quite another thing, or perhaps they would work by turns. But this is an objection which cannot be advanced by the masses. But if any sceptic controvertialist were to advance it, he may be told that one who has power to create one thing has power to create the whole. So now again it comes to the same thing, whether they agree or not, and how can they help each other in work? As to working by turn, it would be a defect in both of them. It is more probable that if there be two gods, there must be two universes. But as the universe is one, its Maker must also be one, for a single work can only be done by one maker. So it is not necessary that we should understand the verse of God, “and some of them had enabled themselves over the other,” as pointing to disagreement alone, but it may be taken as true even in the case of argument, for this also leads to the same result as disagreement would do. Here lies the difference between us and the Mutakallimun, about the meaning of this verse, though Abul Maali has said something almost expressing our own views. By the foregoing you would understand that the argument which the Mutakallimun have deduced from this verse is not the one which it really contains. The impossibility to which their argument leads is not one which should be deduced from the verse in question. The impossibility which is deduced from the argument which they think is contained in the verse, is more than one impossibility, by their dividing it into three parts, while there is no division in the verse itself. So the argument which they use is the one which is known to the logicians as disjunctive syllogism, and is known in their science as definition and division. But the argument contained in the verse is one which is known in logic as hypothetical syllogism, which is quite different from disjunctive syllogism. Any one who would look most cursorily into this science would know the difference between the two. Then, again, the impossibility which their argument points out is not that to which the argument of the Book leads. They say that universe will either be neither existent nor non-existent, or it will be existent and non-existent at the same time, or its god would be a helpless and weak god. These are impossible for ever, because of the impossibility of more than one. The impossibility which the verse refers to, is not so for ever, for in it it depends upon a certain period of time, that is when the universe is found corrupted at the time of its existence. For he says “If there be any other god but God,” the universe would be found corrupted. Then he has made an exception that it is not corrupted, and hence there must not be more than one God. So now it has become quite clear that this is the method by which God has invited the people to believe in His existence, and negate the divinity of all but Him. These are the two propositions which are contained in the article of Faith, “There are no gods but He.” So one who thinks over these two propositions, and believes in them by the method which we have pointed out, is a Muslim in reality, with a belief which is truly Islamic. But he whose belief is not based upon these arguments, though he confesses the article, he is a Muslim with the other Muslims, only on account of the similarity of names.
[25. ]Quran xxi, 22.
[26. ]Quran xxiii, 93.
[27. ]Quran xvii, 44.
[28. ]Quran 11, 256.
[29. ]Quran xvii, 45, 46.