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Mulla Sadra on Eschatology

Mulla Sadra on Eschatology

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Published by: Tahir Ali on Jul 27, 2010
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Mulla Sadra on Eschatology
‘Ali Zamani Qumshai
Views on resurrection (
al-ma‘ad 
)1. A group of philosophers regard “resurrection” to be impossible (
mumtani‘ 
) for theyhold that man is nothing but the very sensible body whose parts will be disintegrated after death. Their reasoning is based on the impossibility of the return of destroyed (
ma‘dêm
)and the problem of the eater (
akil 
)
 
and the eatable (
ma’kêl 
).Response: First, the return of man does not depend on the return of the destroyed(
ma‘dêm
). Second, according to the Muslim theologians (
mutakallimên
), the parts of  body that are returned in the hereafter, are the very main parts of the body that have beensafeguarded by a God Who does not allow them to become a part of another body. It is to benoted that Mulla Sadra has studied the subject from a different aspect and put forward hisideas in this regard that will be discussed later.2. According to some narrations, Galen had some misgiving about “resurrection”. He wasnot sure whether the human soul is the very body that is perished following the death, or is it an immaterial essence that subsists even in the posthumous state?3. Muslim theologians have accepted resurrection and they have regarded the return of the destroyed to be impossible. They have accordingly stated: “Man will not be perishedwith the destruction of his corporeal body, because his ingredients and real material partsare always immortal”.Mulla Sadra, however, disagreed with this standpoint of theologians and asserted: “If resurrection is what the theologians says, then the return is, therefore, to this world rather than the next world, and the next world is the place of extinction rather than the place of subsistence. Thus, the next world is just another world similar to this world”.4. Although philosophers and the religious scholars have admitted the reality of resurrection, they are in disagreement over its quality. A group of scholars believes thatresurrection is merely bodily, whereas another group regards it to be intellectual andspiritual. On the other hand, the great philosophers, the exalted gnostics, and thecompanions of the Imams believe that resurrection is both bodily and spiritual.Mulla Sadra, however, is of the view that human soul and individual material body wouldidentically return. Mawla ‘Ali Åakim in
Subul al-rashad il al-ma‘ad 
: states “I have notseen any Muslim philosopher to believe only in spiritual resurrection”. Then he adds:“When the grave of Shaykh Sadêq was destroyed in Ray, I could see his complete corpse.The people of Tehran, too, could see it for twenty days”.Differences of views on eschatology1. The eschatology of Muslim people, in general is a general belief in what has enteredinto the Qur’an and the traditions (
aåadith
), including the heaven, hell, hovri, etc. all of which can be certainly observed, only in the posthumous state.2. What have been referred to in the Books and
Sunnah
about resurrection, heaven, etc.are certain ideal and imaginary matters that have no external existence.3. All the aforementioned matters possess an external existence. Nevertheless, accordingto Plato, these are intelligible realities that are located in the world of intellects (
‘uqêl 
)and are known as the Platonic Ideas. There is another group who considers these matters
 
as psychic qualities, such as knowledge (‘
ilm
). The requirements of these qualities areeither torment, or joy or grace.4. Mulla Sadra believes that matters related to the hereafter as well as what is spoken bythe religious instruction are all real and external matters and are more perfect, intensified,and powerful than the worldly ones. These existents are comprehended by the Other Worldly senses. The human soul belongs to the world of the (
malakêt 
) so he is able tocreate a body without matter, like that of worldly body that is free of material features. Inthe Other World, all the human senses are changed into one sense. The human knowledgewill be identical with power and life. The day of resurrection and judgment is, indeed, thereturn of the soul to the same worldly bodies or other similar bodies without any materialchanges.5. The eschatology of those who have achieved the highest station of knowledge andcertainty, and are regarded to be among those who are firmly rooted in knowledge(
rasikhun fil ‘ilm
) are superior to the understanding of the common people and even thegreat scientists and thinkers, “Thus, nobody knows His Reality, except those who are
rasikhên fil ‘ilm
”.It is notable that although the revealed books are in agreement about the reality of resurrection, but they are outwardly different.Bodily resurrectionMulla Sadra admitted the fourth view about eschatology and he offered certain principlesin his introduction to
 Asfar 
as follows:1. The reality and origin of any object is dependent upon existence rather than quiddity(
al-mahiyyah
) of object [principiality of existence (
al-asalat al-wujêd 
)]. Quiddity is amentally-posited being (‘
itibari
) and immaterial agent and lacks any external existence,such as concepts.2. The individuation and distinction of any object is dependent upon the particular existence of object, whereas the accidents (
‘awariè
) of object are regarded as the signs of object, rather than the constituents of the particular existence of object.3. The reality of existence is a unity, capable of receiving intensity, weakness, precedence, subsequence, perfection, and imperfection.4. The reality of existence is essentially moveable. The objects of the world, tend towards perfection, and strength. In other words, they are at the state of change every moment.5. The form of any object not the matter constitutes reality of any object. The reality of a bed is the form of the bed rather than wood, metal, stone, or other materials.6. The individual unity of objects that is identical with their existence is not similar or of at the same degree. Any creature in the world possesses a particular status and will notgo beyond it. Man, however, is able to tread on the various worlds and achieve exaltedstages of dignity and attain the culmination of virtue. According to Ibn Sina (Avicenna),man can be changed into an intelligible world parallel with the sensible world.7. The individuation and the identity of the human body is, indeed, dependent upon hisrational soul, rather than his matter or body.8. There is a substance in man that is called the faculty of imagination. It is immaterialand is not placed in an organ of the body.9. The scientific and imaginal forms are not inherent in any part of human soul or body. Thehuman soul has, rather, created them. They are dependent upon the soul, just like the humandeeds that are subsisting on him.
 
10. The material substances and bodily quantitative forms are either originated from asingle subject with the help of matter, or merely from the subject and without the co-sharing of matter. It happens that the imaginal forms of man to be broader than theheavens and deserts.11. Man before being created out of matter and natural elements, possesses a kind of  particular ideal existence that preceded his physical existence, “
 And (remember) whenthy Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their reins, their seed, and madethem testify of themselves (saying): Am I not your Lord? They said: Yea, verily. Wetestify. (That was) lest ye should say at the Day of Resurrection: Lo! of this we wereunaware
”. [
al-Aaraf 
(7): 172]The three worlds of the soulFirst world: The human soul is natural in the beginning of its origination, “
 jismaniyyat al-åudêth wa ruåaniyyat al-baqa
” and is the cause of the body as well. It changes the body from imperfection into perfection, and has the power to exercise free disposal(
tasarruf 
). The other characteristics of the soul are as follows:a. The soul is essentially dependent upon the body and establishes a unitary naturalcomposition with it. b. The soul like the body is a potential agent in the beginning of its origination.c. At any time the soul enjoys a mode and differs in different stages of childhood, youth,and old age, and it changes from the potency to action.d. The soul in terms of its acts, whether good or bad, moves towards happiness or wickednessand achieve the actuality in a manner that it has chosen itself and will attain, in the nextworld, the form that it has selected itself.g. Based on the transsubstantial motion (
al-åarakat al-jawhariyyah
), when the soul couldgradually attain its independence, it will separate itself from the body and will ascendfrom the nature towards the Day of Judgment.The second world: Owing to the transsubstantial motion and the evolutionary movementthe soul will be able to bring about an ideal body along with the natural body in a waythat to be able to appear in the scene of the day of judgment. This body is far more powerful and can understand more than that of the physical body.The third world: Man in the course of mental developments will attain the stage of the pure intellect and will be independent of the body and bodily potential. In this direction,he will attain the station of ‘
indiyyat 
, (at-ness) and will rest close to God.ConclusionReferring to the above-mentioned points, Sadra asserts that a precise and profoundexamination of these points will lead man to the certain knowledge (
al-‘ilm al-yaqin
), that is,what will be returned in the next world is the collection of the individual soul and body, inother words, the same worldly body and soul. This is a true belief attended by demonstrativereasoning.Mulla Sadra casted the above-mentioned principles into the six principles in his
Mafatiåal-ghayb
(Keys to the Unseen World), and concluded, that “what will return in theresurrection day is the same body and soul”, despite the transformation of the materialfeatures of the body. He, then refers to the six differences between the worldly and theother–worldly bodily existences, and finally feel proud of himself, by saying that “we areguided with the Virtue of God and the Light of His Prophet.(s)”

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