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Man's moral responsibility for his actions is a tenet of Islamic revelation which no Muslim has ever tried to reject. Likewise, the notion of God's omnipotence, which the Qur'an teaches, has never been challenged by Muslims. However, there is a great difficulty in explaining how true moral responsibility coincides with God's omnipotence; if God creates all things, He also creates man's actions, and this being the case, man cannot be responsible for them.1 As is well known, the Mu'tazilite solution to the antinomy of God's omnipotence and man's responsibility consists in affirming man's capability, granted to him by God, of creating his own works.2 Adhering to their principle of God's justice, the Mu'tazilites asserted that if God were to create a man's unbelief while commanding him to believe, He would be unjust in punishing him for unbelief, since the man could not, in this situation, help but disbelieve. According to them, ought implies can.3 In upholding man's responsibility for his own actions, the Mu'tazilites saved God's justice, but according to the Ash'arites, detracted from God's omnipotence. The Ash'arites taught that since God is the sole creator, He creates human actions. In order to safeguard both God's omnipotence and man's responsibility, al-Ash'ari, having been influenced by the teaching of al-Najjar,4 developed a theory of kasb (lit. acquisition)5 according to which God creates man's actions while man appropriates6 them and thus becomes responsible for them.

1 Cf. Wolfson, Kalam, p. 663f. The debate between the Mu'tazilites and the predestinarians concentrated from a very early stage of the Kalam on the question of who creates man's act: is it God or man himself? See Schwarz, "Acquisition", p. 355. 2 The verb used is aqdara, i.e., to grant a man a qudra (power or capability), or to cause him to have a qudra. See al-Ash'ari, Maqalat, p. 199,3-6. For the term qudra in the teaching of 'Abd alJabbSr see Peters, God's Created Speech, pp. 200-4. 3 See Watt, Free will, p. 69. 4 Cf. Schwarz, "Acquisition", pp. 368, 375. Al-Najjar was in turn influenced in this issue by the IbadI theologian 'Abd Allah Ibn Yazld, who wrote an anti-Qadarite tract not long after 179/795. See W. Madelung, "The Shfite and Kharijite contribution to pre-Ash'arite Kalam", in Islamic Philosophical Theology, ed. P. Morewedge, New York 1979, p. 128. Idem, Streitschrift des Zaiditenimams Ahmad al-Nasir wider die ibaditische PrSdestinationslehre, Stuttgart 1985, pp. 10, 58-63. 5 Other renderings of this term are as follows: a. "appropriation" according to W. M. Watt, "The origin of the Islamic doctrine of acquisition", JRAS (1943), p. 237. Idem, Free Will, p. 104. b. "endossement" according to R. Brunschvig, "Devoir et pouvoir. Histoire d'un probleme de theologie musulmane", SI 20(1964), p. 19. c. "toeeigening" according to F. L. Bakker, De verhouding tusschen de almacht Gods en de zedelijke verantwoordelijheid van den menchin de Islam, Amsterdam 1922, p. 72. Cf. Schwarz, "Acquisition", p. 357. 6 According to Schwarz, the verb kasaba was employed by early thinkers, as well as by alAsh'ari and his contemporaries and successors in the meaning of "to do", "to practise", "to carry out", "to perform" an action. See "Acquisition", pp. 375ff. Idem, "The Qadl", p. 229f.



Schematically described, the theory of kasb has three constituents: a. God's creation of man's action, b. God's creation of man's power or capacity (quwwa or istifa'a) for appropriating this action, c. Man's appropriating the action created for him by God (iktisab). The relationships among these constituents and the type of connection between each of them and man's body account for the differences among the various theories of kasb as developed in the Kalam. Let us take for example two theories, that of Dirar and that of al-Najjar. Dirar ibn 'Amr (d. 815) seems to have invented the theory of kasb.1 According to him, man's capability for appropriating (element b) any action God creates for him (element a) exists before the action takes place and constitutes a part of his body. It is a power God creates in man from birth. Accordingly, man creates his action (element c), and it is thus a free action of his own.8 Contrary to Dirar, al-Najjar9 taught that God creates in man the power to appropriate the action simultaneously with His creation of the action itself.10 Following al-Najjar, al-Ash'ari states that God creates the action in man simultaneously with His creation of the power to appropriate the action. Now, how can the appropriation be man's own free action when God creates the power over it and the act of appropriation itself? Al-Ash'ari tries to answer this objection by making a distinction between involuntary movement (fyarakat idtfrar) and appropriated movement (ftarakat iktisab). Involuntary are such movements as shaking from palsy or shivering from fever; appropriated movements are those like going and coming, approaching and withdrawing. Man necessarily knows the difference between these two types of movement through his consciousness; he knows that he cannot prevent involuntary movements from occurring while the opposite is true with appropriated movements.11 Thus it seems phenomenologically that man has freedom of action. But ontologically speaking, the difference lies in the fact that an appropriation takes place in virtue of man's created power (quwwa mufydatha),12 whereas an involuntary movement, also created by God, 13 takes place without power existing in man. That God creates man's power to appropriate the action and the action itself simultaneously was interpreted by later authors to mean that man's power to appropriate has no influence over the object of his power (maqdur), i.e., the action.14 Consequently, opponents regarded the notion of kasb
7 See Schwarz, "Acquisition", p. 367. On Pirar see J. van Ess, "Pirar ibn 'Amr und die 'Cahmiya', Biographie einer vergessenen Schule", Der Islam 43(1967), pp. 241-79,44 (1968), pp. 1-70, 318-20. Watt, The Formative Period, pp. 189ff. 8 See al-Baghdadl, al-Farq, p. 130. Wolfson, Kalam, pp. 667-70. 9 Al-Najjar died in the earlier half of the third/ninth century. See J. van Ess, Der Islam 44(1968), pp. 56ff. Watt, The Formative Period, pp. 199-201. 10 See Wolfson, Kalam, p. 670. 11 See al-Ash'ari, al-Luma', par. 92. 12 See ibid, par. 89. 13 See ibid, par. 93. 14 See Wolfson, Kalam. p. 691.



as meaningless, since they perceived no difference between involuntary actions and appropriations.15 It is true that nowhere does al-Ash'ari indicate that the created power to appropriate has no effect on the appropriation, and this may allow the possibility that al-Ash'ari thought of man's using a power granted to him by God to effect his act. Nevertheless the question of the relationship between the created power to appropriate and the act of appropriation and consequently the question of the antinomy of God's omnipotence and man's responsibility in al-Ash'ari has not been answered satisfactorily in either the Kalam or in modern scholarship which has tried to explain al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb. Several scholars have attempted to explain the term kasb and the theories connected with it, their development through the ages and their connection with the verbs kasaba and iktasaba appearing in other contexts.16 Frank's article "The structure of created causality according to al-As'ari, an analysis of Kitab alLuma', pars. 82-164"17 is the first attempt to analyze the doctrine of kasb from an ontological point of view. The following aims first at commenting on Frank's view of al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb and second at setting forth a different approach to al-Ash'ari's theory. According to Frank, man's power (qudra), which is an accident of his being, is a power of efficient causality created for him by God. Through this power the action takes place. Explaining the relationship between God's creation of man's action and man's causality (the power of causation created for him by God), Frank asserts: "In that God creates it (causality) at the moment of the act, He is, in a sense, the creator of the act, but in that the qudra through which the event takes place is in every respect a determinant attribute of the being of the human agent (for as a created accident inhering in him it does not differ ontologically from the others which constitute his being at the moment) the causality is his and he is in a true sense the agent of the act".' 8 Man is the owner of the act and since it is determined by him he performs it. Thus the term kasb is used to denote free human action which is brought to realization through man's created power.19 It follows that God's omnipotence is not impaired, while man's responsibility is preserved too.20. Frank continues (pp. 31ff) to elucidate al-Ash'ari's theory

See Schwarz, "The Qadl", p. 244f. See ibid, p. 229f. Idem, "Acquisition", pp. 355ff and the references given there. Studio Islamica 25 (1966), pp. 13-75. 18 See ibid, p. 31. Basically, Gimaret (Theories, p. 84f) accepts Frank's approach without elaborating on it. 19 See ibid, p. 26. 20 Al-Jubba'I, al-Ash'ari's master, and other Mu'tazilite thinkers admitted that man's power of creation of his acts is granted to him by God, but it precedes the occurrence of the act and thus is independent of God's creation; man is the sole creater of his acts. Cf. Frank, ibid, p. 24f. Idem, "Remarks on the early development of the Kalam", in Atti 3 cong. studi arabi e islamici, Ravello 1966 (publ. 1967), n. 322.
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through examining paragraphs 82-164 in al-Luma' according to his thesis that qudra means a power of efficient causality. Before commenting on Frank's thesis I would like to refer to some methodological questions which have bearing on the understanding of the issue under discussion. The first concerns the nature of the Kalam. In his Quranic Studies Wansbrough argues that the method employed by a scholar determines to a certain extent the results of his research.21 Regarding the Kalam as a "theological science" not an "art of contradiction making", Frank attempts to show that in several issues, such as God's attributes, the Kalam appears as a highly systematic theological philosophy disconnected from polemics.22 This general approach to the Kalam is also expressed in Frank's treatment of alAsh'ari's theory of kasb. It is true that Frank refers to the debate with the Mu'tazila, but the debate is in the background; al-Ash'ari, in Frank's view, aims at developing an overall theory, not only at answering the opponent's objections. There is nothing objectionable in holding the view that al-Ash'ari developed a system of thought which clearly resolves the antinomy of God's omnipotence and man's responsibility. The question one should ask is whether Frank's results are not conditioned by his method more than by the material occurring in the alLuma'.

The second methodological point concerns the use of terms and definitions. Is it possible that an author should have held a theory of causality without employing the terms and definitions pertinent to this theory? Whoever thinks that the answer is in the affirmative should explain why the author does not use the terms needed in spite of the data which prove that he should have known them. Thirdly, for our understanding of al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb, can we rely on later authorities who put forward or explain it? If we can, then we must be consistent in following their interpretations, unless there are good textual reasons for our departure. Fourthly, the question of kasb can be dealt with through several aspects: philological, theological, epistemological and ontological.23 Treating the kasb theory from an ontological point of view requires us to examine all its elements under this aspect, including man's consciousness. For consciousness, as we have seen, differentiates between an appropriated and an involuntary act. Returning to the second point: nowhere in the al-Luma' are the terms qudra or isti\a'a defined or alluded to as an efficient cause. Al-Ash'ari refers to power (qudra) as an accident distinct from man. He proves this through a familiar
21 See J. Wansbrough, Quranic Studies, Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation, Oxford 1977, p . 9 1 . Idem, BSOAS 43(1980), p p . 361-3. 22 See "The Kalam, an art of contradiction-making or theological science? some remarks on the question", JAOS 88(1968), pp. 295-309. "Schwarz's articles ("Acquisition", "The Qadi") and other articles mentioned in "Acquisition" par. Ill belong to the first two aspects.



Kalam argument.24 That he does not define isti(a'a is very probably owing to the fact that there was no controversy between him and most of the Mu'tazila concerning the consideration of istitaa as an accident. The debate with the Mu'tazila was about the question of whether this accident precedes the action (the Mu'tazilite view) or coincides with it (the Ash'arite view). Moreover, the absence of the definition of istitaa cannot be attributed to the absence of any definitions of terms in this book, for the term kasb is defined. The real meaning (haqlqa) of kasb, according to al-Ash'ari, is "that the act proceeds from its appropriator (lit. acquirer muktasib) in virtue of a created power (bi-quwwa muffdatha."25 Had al-Ash'ari thought that qudra was efficient cause, he would have defined it as such. Frank admits that al-Ash'ari does not give a concise definition of qudra and that al-Ash'ari's argumentation "assumes the understanding of the definition."26 Both efficient cause ('illaja'ila), which had already been used by al-Kindi,27 and secondary cause (sabab) were unquestionably known to al-Ash'ari. He himself reported that the Shfite Mutakallim Hisham ibn al-Hakam (d. 795)28 had used the term sabab in connection with man's action, not as a natural cause: According to Hisham, man's action does not proceed from him unless God creates an inciting cause (sabab muhayyif) for it.29 Frank does not claim that the best possibility of understanding al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb is through defining qudra as efficient cause, but rather that this definition is what al-Ash'ari really intended. But given the probability that there was some kind of common comprehension of al-Ash'ari's doctrine by both opponents and adherents (probably this comprehension was also the outcome of oral transmission of the ideas of the master to his disciples), it does not stand to reason that no one knew that al-Ash'ari had thought of qudra as an efficient cause. Furthermore, Frank's attitude towards later authorities is not clear. Indeed, he says that "one must be very cautious in reading back into the thought of al-As'ari the elaborations of his later followers, particularly those of [Fakhr alDin al-]Razi",30 but does not elaborate on his criterion for this "reading back".

24 See al-Luma' par. 122 (McCarthy's translation): " Q . W h y do you say that m a n is capable in virtue of a capacity which is distinct from h i m ? A. H e is sometimes capable and sometimes impotent, just as he knows at one time and does not know at another, a n d now moves a n d again does not move. Therefore he must be capable in virtue of something distinct from him, just as he must be knowing in virtue of something distinct from him, and as he must be moving in virtue of something distinct from him. F o r if he were capable of himself, or in virtue of something inseparable from him, he would not exist save as capable. But since he is sometimes capable and sometimes incapable, it is true and certain that his capacity is something distinct from h i m " . 25 See al-Luma', p . 42, 11. 1-2 of the A r a b i c text. Cf. al-Ash'ari, Maqalat, p . 542, 11. 8 - 9 . 1 shall try t o explain later t h e m e a n i n g of bi-quwwa mulfdatha. 26 See Frank, " T h e structure", p . 54. 27 See J. Jolivet and R. Rashed, "al-Kindi", El1, vol. V, p . 122f. 28 See on him W. Madelung, " H i s h a m ibn al-Hakam", El2, vol. H I , p p . 496-8. 29 See al-Ash'ari, Maqalat, p . 40f. Wolfson, Kalam, p . 672f. 30 See Frank, " T h e structure", p . 40, n. 1.




Sometimes he is helped by such authorities and sometimes he plainly rejects their understanding of al-Ash'ari's notions.32 In my opinion, one may rely on the followers of al-Ash'ari for the understanding of his theory so long as their citations and interpretations of his notions have a valid basis in al-Ash'ari's texts. It is now time to penetrate to the heart of the matter. As has been stated above, in al-Ash'ari both an appropriated movement and an involuntary movement are created by God ; 33 in the former man feels he has power and thus is not compelled to act, while in the latter he feels he has no power and thus cannot prevent the act from occurring. Man knows this difference by a necessary knowledge. In stating this, al-Ash'ari passes from an ontological discussion to a phenomenological one. Here lies one of the main obstacles to the understanding of his theory. For alAsh'ari does not continue to analyze other elements of human action such as the source of the will or the source of the power to will, as one would expect in an overall theory of action. He does not tell us to whom the power to will belongs, to man himself or to God, whether God creates it for man at the moment the action takes place or before the occurrence of the action, or whether it is an inherent element in man. However, since, according to al-Ash'ari, God wills and creates all things,34 one may conclude that He wills and creates man's power to will as well as the will itself. Although al-Ash'ari does not mention the power to will, it is evident that according to al-Luma' pars. 49, 65,159 man cannot will unless God wills. Thus, it is true that from man's point of view, i.e., from his consciousness, he feels free to act, but from an ontological point of view his power to will, his will and his feeling or his knowledge of both the power to will and the will are created by God. In the light of this, Frank's notion that "qudra, in human agent, implies a prior freedom of conscious and deliberative choice"35 is untenable, unless one understands both freedom and choice as created by God. Thus, man feels he is free, but he is really compelled to act. His feeling is also created by God. Furthermore, al-Ash'ari himself does not. mention "choice" and "will". Both terms recur at later stages of the Kalam, from al-Baqillanl onwards.36 Had alAsh'ari not thought that man's act of the will is also created by God, he would have been led to admit an infinite chain of appropriations, for what causes a will to arise is another will and so forth, and each will in turn needs an act of appropriation.37 Al-Ash'ari's conception of the substrate (mahalt) of an act poses another
See ibid, p p . 30, 40. See ibid, p p . 6 4 - 8 . 33 See al-Luma, pars., 9 3 - 4 . 34 See ibid, pars. 49, 6 5 , 159. 35 See F r a n k , " T h e structure", p . 63 a n d passim. 36 See Schwarz, "The Qadi", p. 249, nn. 80-2. 37 See al-Jurjanl, Shark al-mawaqif, p . 246. Cf. S. Pines a n d M . Schwarz, " Y a h y a i b n 'Adi's refutation of t h e doctrine of acquisition (iktisab)", Studia Orientalia Memoriae D. H. Baneth Dedicata, Jerusalem 1979, p p . 68, 78-9, 92-4.
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difficulty for understanding Frank's theory. In the Kalam man's acts are one genus of accidents which inhere in the atoms, or in the bodies composed of these atoms. An act has as its substrate either the whole body of a person or the part of the body by means of which it is performed.38 Although al-Ash'ari does not state which of the two possibilities he prefers, it is evident from pars. 127, 129 that he prefers the second possibility.39 His adversaries pose an objection: if man's qudra, which co-exists with the act in time and in the same substrate, inheres in the limb or organ by means of which the act is performed and not in his body as a whole, how can he be responsible for his act? 40 Frank's theory faces the other form of the same dilemma: his definition of qudra as "the actuality of the agent insofar as he is the cause of his act" and his definition of this actuality as "an accident of his Being",41 mean that qudra inheres in the whole body. But this contradicts what al-Ash'ari holds concerning the substrate of the act. It also contradicts al-Ash'ari's doctrine of capacities. For if the qudra inheres in the whole body but only the hand moves, there is a qudra in a substrate without the occurrence of the act.42 The simultaneity between the act and the power over it is another element of the theory of kasb stated plainly by al-Ash'ari. If the power, which is momentary, preceded the moment of the act, the act would occur by means of non-existent power, which is impossible. This of course does not undermine Frank's theory, which deems the power as efficient cause, since an effect may come to be at the very moment of the existence of the cause.43 The problem is whether the text assumes any impact (ta 7/wr) of the created power on the act of appropriation which is also created by God. The only allusion which may indicate that alAsh'ari thought of such impact appears in the definition mentioned above whereby appropriation means that the action proceeds from its appropriator in virtue of a created power (bi-quwwa muljdatha). Now, the preposition bi may be interpreted to indicate either a condition, or simultaneity (between the power and the act) 44 , or a means45 through which the act takes place, or a cause of the act. I shall prove later that al-Ash'ari most likely regards the quwwa muhdatha as a necessary condition for the occurrence of the act. According to later Mutakallimun, al-Ash'ari thought that the human power had no impact on the act.46 Schwarz asserts that al-Shahrastam was wrong in attributing this view to
See Schwarz, "The Qadi", p. 232, n. 17. Cf. Frank, "The structure", p. 60. 40 See Schwarz, "The Qadl", p. 246, p. 258, n. 126. 41 See Frank, "The structure", p. 54f. 42 See al-Luma', par. 127. 43 See Frank, "The structure", p. 55f. 44 See W. Wright, A Grammar of the Arabic Language, rep. Cambridge 1967, p. 163f. 45 Cf. al-Ash'ari, Maqalat, p. 542,11. 2-3. Gimaret considers the phrases waqa'a bi or yakunu bi as signifying, in this context, only a cause-effect relation. See Theories, p. 84. 46 See al-Jurjanl, Sharh al-mawaqif, pp. 237, 245. Schwarz, "The QadI", p. 248, n. 78.
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al-Ash'ari47, but he does not prove his assertion. The fact that the denial of impact appears for the first time in al-Juwayni,48 does not necessarily prove that al-Ash'ari adheres to impact, especially when al-Ash'ari's text does not show that he holds to impact and later Ash'arite scholars, whose report about al-Ash'ari's other parts of the kasb theory are accepted as true, attribute the denial of impact to him. This being the case, Frank cannot rely on al-Ash'ari's believing in impact which the texts do not show. The points outlined thus far cause us to question Frank's understanding of alAsh'ari's theory of kasb. Other comments will be put forward below in connection with certain sections of the al-Luma'. The following will be an attempt at explaining al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb from another point of view. Contrary to Frank, I do not think that al-Ash'ari introduces in the al-Luma' an overall theory which solves the problem of God's omnipotence vis-a-vis man's responsibility. Whereas the Mu'tazilites insisted on the principle of God's justice, which made them confront questions such as how there can be two creators, God and man, of one act, al-Ash'ari and his followers, who adhered to God's omnipotence, had to answer the objection of how man can be responsible for an act created for him by God, and especially how God can be spoken of as just when He creates evil, for whoever creates evil is an evil-doer. Thus, the points of departure of both schools established the character of the questions asked. Al-Ash'ari is of the opinion that God not only creates man's action,49 but is also its only real agent.50 That God is the creator and the real agent of man's action lays al-Ash'ari open to the charge that God is an evil-doer (jd'ir) when he creates evil in man.51 In order to meet this charge al-Ash'ari states that God creates in man his action, be it an act of appropriation or an involuntary act. Concerning an involuntary movement, the meaning of "man moves" is that he is one in whom movement inheres (ma'nd al-mutaljarrik anna al-haraka hallathu), and this cannot be possible with regard to God, i.e., God cannot be spoken of as moving. The same holds true with reference to kasb; God creates it in man and is its real agent, but the act is performed in man, not in God. Man is called an appropriator (muktasib), because the act takes place through power created for him by God. Thus al-Ash'ari deduces from analogy that just as God does not move when He creates movement, so He is not an evil-doer when He creates evil.52 Paragraph 92 is of crucial importance for the understanding of al-Ash'ari's
See Schwarz, ibid. See al-Juwayni, Irshad, p p . 207-10. Idem, Lumd ft qawa'id ahl al-sunna, ed. M . Allard (Textes apologetiques de Guwaini), Beirut 1968, p . 165, 1. 8. 49 See al-Luma', p a r . 82. 50 See ibid, p . 40, 11. 9-10. Cf. G i m a r e t , Theories, p . 85, n. 39. 51 See ibid, p a r . 97. By w a y of implication this charge m i g h t also b e d r a w n from p a r . 90. 52 See ibid, pars. 89, 97.
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theory of kasb. As we have said above it treats the difference between an appropriation act, which is performed through a qudra, and an involuntary act, which is performed without a qudra. Saying that through necessary knowledge man differentiates between the two types of action, al-Ash'ari enters into the region of phenomenology as I have noted above. It is true that man knows the difference between the two types of action, but is that knowledge not also an accident created in man by God? It is not impossible to answer this question in the affirmative. Al-Ash'ari understands the term kasb according to the theory of atoms and accidents.53 He seems to assert that God's creation of man's actions is logical; man cannot feel in himself a power without the latter having been implanted in him as an accident. God's omnipotence is absolute but with the qualification of logic; contrary to e.g. alih al-Qubba's view (see below), God cannot create visual perception along with blindness.54 The term iktisab from an ontological point of view only expresses the relationship between man's body (or part of his body) and the qudra and the act created for man by God. In this theory, man's knowledge or power is distinct from him. He feels or knows that he has power and that he is not compelled to act, but again this feeling or knowledge is also a created accident. There is a logical connection among the accidents created for man by God. God cannot create in man an accident of feeling of power without creating at the same time an accident of power. This logical connection among accidents and bodies is also expressed in the view that without a limb there is no qudra and without qudra there is no iktisab. Each element which consists in the occurrence of an act seems to be a necessary condition of the following element.55 Paragraph 129 and what follows prove this notion. This paragraph56 should be examined against the background of the claim of some Mu'tazilites that capacity consists in the soundness of the bodily structure and the healthiness of the organs and their freedom from ailments.57 According to al-Ash'ari, the organ alone does not serve as a condition for the performance of an act. Being a substrate of the qudra, it serves as a condition of the qudra which
See note 24 above a n d pars. 125, 131. See G o o d m a n , " C a u s a l i t y " , p . 101. 55 Cf. Wolfson, Kalam, 704f a n d m y "al-Ghazali's theory of causality", Studia Islamica 67(1987), p p . 75-98. 56 M c C a r t h y ' s translation reads as follows: " Q : Is it not true t h a t t h e nonexistence of t h e l i m b entails the nonexistence of the a c t ? A. T h e nonexistence of the limb entails the nonexistence of the power, and the nonexistence of the power entails the nonexistence of the acquisition. F o r if the l i m b does not exist, t h e power will not exist. But it is because of t h e nonexistence of t h e power that the acquisition is impossible - w h e n the limb does not exist - a n d not because of the nonexistence of the limb. If the limb were inexistent, and the power existed, the acquisition would take place. F u r t h e r m o r e , if the acquisition were impossible only because of t h e nonexistence of the limb, then w h e n the limb existed the acquisition would exist. But since the limb can exist in conjunction with impotence, whereas, w h e n the power is inexistent there is no acquisition, we k n o w t h a t the acquisition does not take place, because of the nonexistence of t h e capacity, and not because of the nonexistence of the l i m b . " 57 See al-Ash'ari, Maqalat, p . 229, 11. 15-6.
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inheres in it, just as the qudra is the condition of an appropriation act. The qudra, which is an accident, produces with the atoms of the body a substrate in which the action takes place. This substrate is a condition for the occurrence of kasb. When al-Ash'ari says that: "If the limb were in-existent, and the power existed, the appropriation would take place" (par. 129), he does not mean to contradict his definition of kasb (the action proceeds from its appropriator in virtue of a created power, [par. 92], i.e., that there is a necessary connection between the power and the substrate), but to stress, as he really does, that if the appropriation were impossible only because of the non-existence of the limb, then when the limb existed the action would take place. The qudra serves as an immediate condition for the occurrence of the act. When an appropriation does not occur it is not on account of the non-existence of a limb, since a limb can exist with impotence, but rather on account of the non-existence of the qudra. The same holds true with regard to life (par. 130), the knowledge of weaving (par. 131) and the constitution of a body (binya par. 132) all of which can exist in conjunction with impotence. Here al-Ash'ari makes a point against Abu al-Hudhayl's stand that an act can take place in the absence of life58 and against alih al-Qubba's stand that "it is possible for God to create seeing along with blindness and knowledge along with death".59 Likewise, it may be assumed that he tries to refute here the notion held by the followers of Abu al-Husayn al-$alibi to the effect that power, knowledge, hearing and seeing may inhere in a dead body.60 Al-Ash'ari does not accept the voluntaristic occasionalism held by $alih al-Qubba and Abu al-Husayn al-alihi. According to him, on the one hand, God acts in the world freely, but on the other hand, He is restricted in his acting to a natural sequence of actions. That alAsh'ari believes in a regular succession of events61 is also proved in par. 124 in which al-Ash'ari demonstrates that the action occurs simultaneously with the existence of the power over it.62 Al-Ash'ari's discussion of 'ajz (impotence, incapacity) as opposed to qudra follows the preceding topic which deals with the relationships among the conditions leading to the occurrence of an action. 'Ajz is defined as man's absolute impotence to perform an action because an organ is missing or is afflicted, or because of a similar reason. In such cases qudra cannot inhere, since
See ibid, p . 232, 11. 5-6. " S e e ibid, p . 406, 11. 14-5. Goodman, "Causality", p . lOlf. 60 See ibid, p. 309, 1. 1 3 - p. 310, 1. 1. Goodman, ibid, pp. 102-4. 61 The use of the term ajraal-'ada ("He made a custom". See al-Ash'ari, al-Luma', par. 131) is a significant indicator of this belief. 62 "Moreover, if the act could begin to exist, despite the nonexistence of the power, and if the act could take place in virtue of an inexistent power, then burning could be effected by the heat of an inexistent fire after God had turned the fire into cold, and cutting could be effected by an inexistent sword after God had turned the sword into a reed, and the cutting could be done by an inexistent limb - all of which is impossible. So if that be impossible, the act must begin to exist with the capacity at the very moment that the latter begins to exist" (McCarthy's translation).



it has no substrate. The situation of absolute absence of power must be distinguished from a situation in which qudra for a certain act is missing due to the fact that the agent does not perform this act (or omits to perform, Wl-ishtighal bi-tarkihi) and performs its opposite (al-ishtighal bi-diddihi).63 Since, according to al-Ash'ari, the object of power, the action, exists simultaneously with the power over it, when one disbelieves, i.e., when one has the power of unbelief, he is unable to believe. There cannot be two opposite accidents in the same substrate at the same time.64 It is in this sense that the unbeliever can be regarded as "incapable of belief", while God simultaneously imposes upon him the obligation of belief. By way of implication, the unbeliever can believe at another moment,65 for he then has the structure of body which can receive the accident of qudra and hence the accident of the action.66 In sum, al-Ash'ari's concern is to explain how God is the creator of all man's acts and their real agent while at the same time He cannot be described through these acts. His analysis of the occurrence of actions in man serves to prove that "man is able" means the possibility of his being a substrate of each of two contradictory acts. Thus he answers the question of how God imposes precepts on man while the latter is incapable. Al-Ash'ari is more interested in solving problems concerning God's omnipotence than in establishing man's moral responsibility, which he accepts as a postulate without trying to demonstrate it. The question of freedom of will and choice does not arise at all.67 He succeeded in fulfilling the aim of his discussion. He could not succeed in answering questions which he did not pose. The question of man's moral responsibility as against God's omnipotence is treated from the point of view of God's omnipotence. Even within the discussion of taklif, the important point al-Ash'ari emphasizes is God's way of acting, or the conditions through which God's power acts.68 Abbreviations Al-Ash'ari, al-Luma': Al-Ash'ari, Kitab al-luma' fi al-radd 'ala ahl al-zaygh wal-bida'': The Theology of al-Ash'art, ed. and tr. into English R. J. McCarthy, Beirut 1953.

63 See ibid, par 135. Schwarz, " T h e Q a d i " , p . 233f, n. 22. F o r al-Ash'ari, omitting a thing (not doing a thing) m e a n s doing its contrary. See al-Ash'ari, al-Luma', p . 20, 11. 1-2. 6 * See Peters, God's Created Speech, p . 142f. 65 See F r a n k , " T h e structure", p . 63. 66 See ibid, p p . 66, 68. 67 Al-Baqillani, however, m e n t i o n s the terms " c h o i c e " (ikhtiyar) and " i n t e n t i o n " (qasd). According to him, " i n t e n t i o n " is created. See al-Tamhid, par. 527. Schwarz, " T h e Q a d i " , p . 238, n. 38. In my opinion, in establishing the creation of " i n t e n t i o n " , al-Baqillanl seems rightly to interpret al-Ash'ari's notion of kasb. 68 I a m indebted to Prof. Lenn E. G o o d m a n w h o read this article a n d m a d e valuable comments.



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