A RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASffARl'S THEORY OF KASB ACCORDING TO KITAB AL-LUMA
By BINYAMIN ABRAHAMOV
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.
318-20. 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. c.10 Following al-Najjar. 89. "Pirar ibn 'Amr und die 'Cahmiya'.1 According to him. Kalam. Involuntary are such movements as shaking from palsy or shivering from fever. par. the difference lies in the fact that an appropriation takes place in virtue of man's created power (quwwa mufydatha). 13 takes place without power existing in man. p. 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).e. Wolfson. he knows that he cannot prevent involuntary movements from occurring while the opposite is true with appropriated movements. Biographie einer vergessenen Schule". It is a power God creates in man from birth.11 Thus it seems phenomenologically that man has freedom of action. pp. 9 Al-Najjar died in the earlier half of the third/ninth century. 14 See Wolfson.
. 691. Kalam. pp.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
Schematically described. 11 See al-Ash'ari. the action. par. 130. 93. i. 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.8 Contrary to Dirar. 92. 189ff. van Ess. al-Ash'ari states that God creates the action in man simultaneously with His creation of the power to appropriate the action. and it is thus a free action of his own. 241-79. The Formative Period. van Ess. par. pp. 670. b. pp. Der Islam 44(1968). 13 See ibid. the theory of kasb has three constituents: a. p. 815) seems to have invented the theory of kasb. pp. approaching and withdrawing. Kalam. Watt. 199-201. al-Najjar9 taught that God creates in man the power to appropriate the action simultaneously with His creation of the action itself. On Pirar see J. also created by God.12 whereas an involuntary movement. The Formative Period. God's creation of man's action. that of Dirar and that of al-Najjar. 367.. 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).44 (1968). 56ff. Let us take for example two theories. God's creation of man's power or capacity (quwwa or istifa'a) for appropriating this action. 667-70. "Acquisition". Der Islam 43(1967). 10 See Wolfson. al-Luma'. al-Farq. 12 See ibid. p. Watt. appropriated movements are those like going and coming. But ontologically speaking. Man's appropriating the action created for him by God (iktisab). Accordingly. pp. Now. opponents regarded the notion of kasb
7 See Schwarz. See J.14 Consequently. 1-70. p. man creates his action (element c). 8 See al-Baghdadl. Man necessarily knows the difference between these two types of movement through his consciousness. Dirar ibn 'Amr (d.
31ff) to elucidate al-Ash'ari's theory
See Schwarz.15 It is true that nowhere does al-Ash'ari indicate that the created power to appropriate has no effect on the appropriation. 18 See ibid. Through this power the action takes place. 355ff and the references given there. 26. studi arabi e islamici. 1967). "The Qadl". while man's responsibility is preserved too. but it precedes the occurrence of the act and thus is independent of God's creation. 24f. pars. He is. Frank asserts: "In that God creates it (causality) at the moment of the act. the creator of the act. Gimaret (Theories. pp.19 It follows that God's omnipotence is not impaired. p. 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. Frank. p. pp. 84f) accepts Frank's approach without elaborating on it. 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". 244f. 31. which is an accident of his being. "Acquisition". an analysis of Kitab alLuma'. in a sense. Studio Islamica 25 (1966).16 Frank's article "The structure of created causality according to al-As'ari.' 8 Man is the owner of the act and since it is determined by him he performs it. 229f. 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. is a power of efficient causality created for him by God. 82-164"17 is the first attempt to analyze the doctrine of kasb from an ontological point of view. Idem.212
RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
as meaningless. Idem. Ravello 1966 (publ. "Remarks on the early development of the Kalam". their development through the ages and their connection with the verbs kasaba and iktasaba appearing in other contexts. Thus the term kasb is used to denote free human action which is brought to realization through man's created power.
. al-Ash'ari's master. p. 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. man's power (qudra). p. Several scholars have attempted to explain the term kasb and the theories connected with it. Basically. Cf. p. and other Mu'tazilite thinkers admitted that man's power of creation of his acts is granted to him by God. 20 Al-Jubba'I. ibid. 322. 19 See ibid. in Atti 3 cong. since they perceived no difference between involuntary actions and appropriations. See ibid. Explaining the relationship between God's creation of man's action and man's causality (the power of causation created for him by God). n. 13-75. According to Frank. p. Frank continues (pp. man is the sole creater of his acts.20.
361-3. aims at developing an overall theory.21 Regarding the Kalam as a "theological science" not an "art of contradiction making". JAOS 88(1968). p . pp. but the debate is in the background. not only at answering the opponent's objections. BSOAS 43(1980). 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. Fourthly. The first concerns the nature of the Kalam. Ill belong to the first two aspects. 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. 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. theological.
The second methodological point concerns the use of terms and definitions. 22 See "The Kalam. epistemological and ontological.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
through examining paragraphs 82-164 in al-Luma' according to his thesis that qudra means a power of efficient causality.23 Treating the kasb theory from an ontological point of view requires us to examine all its elements under this aspect. In his Quranic Studies Wansbrough argues that the method employed by a scholar determines to a certain extent the results of his research. such as God's attributes. Idem. an art of contradiction-making or theological science? some remarks on the question". 9 1 . as we have seen. Wansbrough. Thirdly. unless there are good textual reasons for our departure. Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation. the question of kasb can be dealt with through several aspects: philological. 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'. Oxford 1977. He proves this through a familiar
21 See J. For consciousness. "The Qadi") and other articles mentioned in "Acquisition" par. in Frank's view. then we must be consistent in following their interpretations. 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. p p .
. the Kalam appears as a highly systematic theological philosophy disconnected from polemics. Frank attempts to show that in several issues.22 This general approach to the Kalam is also expressed in Frank's treatment of alAsh'ari's theory of kasb. Quranic Studies. al-Ash'ari. It is true that Frank refers to the debate with the Mu'tazila. Al-Ash'ari refers to power (qudra) as an accident distinct from man. can we rely on later authorities who put forward or explain it? If we can. for our understanding of al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb. 295-309. "Schwarz's articles ("Acquisition". differentiates between an appropriated and an involuntary act. including man's consciousness.
29 See al-Ash'ari. 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. " H i s h a m ibn al-Hakam". El1. 30 See Frank. 26 See Frank. H I . 496-8.
. The real meaning (haqlqa) of kasb. 42. 27 See J. n. 122 (McCarthy's translation): " Q . 25 See al-Luma'. p . is "that the act proceeds from its appropriator (lit. the absence of the definition of istitaa cannot be attributed to the absence of any definitions of terms in this book. 54. a n d now moves a n d again does not move. 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). Wolfson. p . Maqalat. just as he must be knowing in virtue of something distinct from him. 1 shall try t o explain later t h e m e a n i n g of bi-quwwa mulfdatha. p . H e is sometimes capable and sometimes impotent. he would not exist save as capable. 1. al-Ash'ari. p . "al-Kindi". p . 1-2 of the A r a b i c text. acquirer muktasib) in virtue of a created power (bi-quwwa muffdatha. V.9 . for the term kasb is defined. Rashed. 11. it does not stand to reason that no one knew that al-Ash'ari had thought of qudra as an efficient cause."25 Had al-Ash'ari thought that qudra was efficient cause. Therefore he must be capable in virtue of something distinct from him. Jolivet and R.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. 40. 40f. p .214
RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
Kalam argument. 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. 672f. Cf. 28 See on him W. man's action does not proceed from him unless God creates an inciting cause (sabab muhayyif) for it. Madelung.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. according to al-Ash'ari. he says that "one must be very cautious in reading back into the thought of al-As'ari the elaborations of his later followers. 11."26 Both efficient cause ('illaja'ila). He himself reported that the Shfite Mutakallim Hisham ibn al-Hakam (d. p p . Furthermore. " T h e structure". F o r if he were capable of himself. p . but rather that this definition is what al-Ash'ari really intended. he would have defined it as such. it is true and certain that his capacity is something distinct from h i m " . Kalam. which had already been used by al-Kindi. particularly those of [Fakhr alDin al-]Razi". Moreover. and as he must be moving in virtue of something distinct from him. vol. " T h e structure". Maqalat.
24 See al-Luma' par. But since he is sometimes capable and sometimes incapable. just as he knows at one time and does not know at another. 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).27 and secondary cause (sabab) were unquestionably known to al-Ash'ari. 542. vol. or in virtue of something inseparable from him. Indeed. 8 . Frank's attitude towards later authorities is not clear. not as a natural cause: According to Hisham.30 but does not elaborate on his criterion for this "reading back". 122f. 795)28 had used the term sabab in connection with man's action. El2.
al-Ash'ari passes from an ontological discussion to a phenomenological one. 30. p. or whether it is an inherent element in man. according to al-Ash'ari. Furthermore. in human agent. mention "choice" and "will".e..34 one may conclude that He wills and creates man's power to will as well as the will itself. Jerusalem 1979. i. in al-Ash'ari both an appropriated movement and an involuntary movement are created by God . Schwarz. See ibid. Cf. However. his will and his feeling or his knowledge of both the power to will and the will are created by God. 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. Baneth Dedicata. 6 5 . 68. implies a prior freedom of conscious and deliberative choice"35 is untenable. 33 in the former man feels he has power and thus is not compelled to act. Thus. 37 See al-Jurjanl. p p . al-Ash'ari himself does not. p p . " T h e structure".8 . it is evident that according to al-Luma' pars. God wills and creates all things. pars. " Y a h y a i b n 'Adi's refutation of t h e doctrine of acquisition (iktisab)". 9 3 . he feels free to act. 33 See al-Luma. 36 See Schwarz. It is now time to penetrate to the heart of the matter. while in the latter he feels he has no power and thus cannot prevent the act from occurring. S.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
Sometimes he is helped by such authorities and sometimes he plainly rejects their understanding of al-Ash'ari's notions. His feeling is also created by God.4 . Although al-Ash'ari does not mention the power to will. 40. Man knows this difference by a necessary knowledge. from his consciousness. Frank's notion that "qudra. 65. 92-4.. from al-Baqillanl onwards. 6 4 . 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. whether God creates it for man at the moment the action takes place or before the occurrence of the action. and each will in turn needs an act of appropriation. as one would expect in an overall theory of action. 35 See F r a n k . As has been stated above. Pines a n d M . man feels he is free. p . H. Thus. 78-9. Both terms recur at later stages of the Kalam. 80-2. it is true that from man's point of view. In the light of this. for what causes a will to arise is another will and so forth. "The Qadi". unless one understands both freedom and choice as created by God. since. pars.159 man cannot will unless God wills. nn. Here lies one of the main obstacles to the understanding of his theory. but he is really compelled to act. In stating this. p . 159. Studia Orientalia Memoriae D.37 Al-Ash'ari's conception of the substrate (mahalt) of an act poses another
See ibid. 63 a n d passim. 49. 34 See ibid.
.32 In my opinion. to man himself or to God. but from an ontological point of view his power to will. he would have been led to admit an infinite chain of appropriations. He does not tell us to whom the power to will belongs. p p . 249. 49.36 Had alAsh'ari not thought that man's act of the will is also created by God. Shark al-mawaqif. 246.
43 See Frank. 127. Sharh al-mawaqif. "The QadI". n. n. In the Kalam man's acts are one genus of accidents which inhere in the atoms. 237. the preposition bi may be interpreted to indicate either a condition.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. p. Cf.11. or a cause of the act. Now. "The structure". 42 See al-Luma'. it is evident from pars. 55f. 248. p. p. p. 2-3. or simultaneity (between the power and the act) 44 . According to later Mutakallimun. 54f. 126. Maqalat. preceded the moment of the act. which is impossible. 60.43 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.216
RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
difficulty for understanding Frank's theory. Cambridge 1967. "The Qadl". 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". 232. inheres in the limb or organ by means of which the act is performed and not in his body as a whole. 41 See Frank. 542. par. 246. p. rep. For if the qudra inheres in the whole body but only the hand moves. 258. pp. p. p. 78. But this contradicts what al-Ash'ari holds concerning the substrate of the act. If the power. in this context. This of course does not undermine Frank's theory. 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). Wright. Gimaret considers the phrases waqa'a bi or yakunu bi as signifying. or a means45 through which the act takes place.46 Schwarz asserts that al-Shahrastam was wrong in attributing this view to
See Schwarz. only a cause-effect relation. p. 163f.38 Although al-Ash'ari does not state which of the two possibilities he prefers. 129 that he prefers the second possibility. n. 44 See W. 45 Cf. See Theories.
. "The structure". al-Ash'ari thought that the human power had no impact on the act. It also contradicts al-Ash'ari's doctrine of capacities. since an effect may come to be at the very moment of the existence of the cause. 40 See Schwarz. "The structure".41 mean that qudra inheres in the whole body. the act would occur by means of non-existent power. 17. I shall prove later that al-Ash'ari most likely regards the quwwa muhdatha as a necessary condition for the occurrence of the act. which deems the power as efficient cause. or in the bodies composed of these atoms. p. 245. Frank. 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. there is a qudra in a substrate without the occurrence of the act. p. which co-exists with the act in time and in the same substrate. "The Qadi". which is momentary. A Grammar of the Arabic Language. 84.39 His adversaries pose an objection: if man's qudra. al-Ash'ari. 127. 46 See al-Jurjanl. Schwarz.
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 . p p . God cannot be spoken of as moving. attribute the denial of impact to him. 90. Contrary to Frank. 1. which made them confront questions such as how there can be two creators. ed.48 does not necessarily prove that al-Ash'ari adheres to impact. 49 See al-Luma'. not in God. pars. 39. the points of departure of both schools established the character of the questions asked. 51 See ibid. i.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
al-Ash'ari47. Other comments will be put forward below in connection with certain sections of the al-Luma'. 8. Thus al-Ash'ari deduces from analogy that just as God does not move when He creates movement. who adhered to God's omnipotence. 97. n. especially when al-Ash'ari's text does not show that he holds to impact and later Ash'arite scholars. 207-10. of one act. Theories. 9-10. 50 See ibid. for whoever creates evil is an evil-doer. Beirut 1968. p . ibid. The following will be an attempt at explaining al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb from another point of view. Concerning an involuntary movement. p . al-Ash'ari and his followers. M . 85. p a r .52 Paragraph 92 is of crucial importance for the understanding of al-Ash'ari's
See Schwarz. p a r . The fact that the denial of impact appears for the first time in al-Juwayni. so He is not an evil-doer when He creates evil. because the act takes place through power created for him by God. Frank cannot rely on al-Ash'ari's believing in impact which the texts do not show.. This being the case. had to answer the objection of how man can be responsible for an act created for him by God. Irshad. G i m a r e t . Man is called an appropriator (muktasib). whose report about al-Ash'ari's other parts of the kasb theory are accepted as true. God and man. The points outlined thus far cause us to question Frank's understanding of alAsh'ari's theory of kasb. and especially how God can be spoken of as just when He creates evil. 89. See al-Juwayni. but the act is performed in man. Lumd ft qawa'id ahl al-sunna. 82.50 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. 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. Al-Ash'ari is of the opinion that God not only creates man's action. but he does not prove his assertion. be it an act of appropriation or an involuntary act. Cf. Thus.
. Whereas the Mu'tazilites insisted on the principle of God's justice.51 In order to meet this charge al-Ash'ari states that God creates in man his action. Idem.49 but is also its only real agent. 52 See ibid. p . 97. 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. 11. 165.e. Allard (Textes apologetiques de Guwaini). 40. God creates it in man and is its real agent. The same holds true with reference to kasb.
which is performed through a qudra. §alih al-Qubba's view (see below).g. and an involuntary act.w h e n the limb does not exist . but is that knowledge not also an accident created in man by God? It is not impossible to answer this question in the affirmative. T h e nonexistence of the limb entails the nonexistence of the power. God's omnipotence is absolute but with the qualification of logic. p .a n d not because of the nonexistence of the limb. 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. but again this feeling or knowledge is also a created accident. al-Ash'ari enters into the region of phenomenology as I have noted above. " C a u s a l i t y " . 101. then w h e n the limb existed the acquisition would exist.55 Paragraph 129 and what follows prove this notion. Maqalat. we k n o w t h a t the acquisition does not take place. the organ alone does not serve as a condition for the performance of an act. which is performed without a qudra. God cannot create visual perception along with blindness. and the nonexistence of the power entails the nonexistence of the acquisition. 11. the acquisition would take place.57 According to al-Ash'ari. There is a logical connection among the accidents created for man by God. Each element which consists in the occurrence of an act seems to be a necessary condition of the following element. contrary to e. 229. He feels or knows that he has power and that he is not compelled to act. See G o o d m a n . Saying that through necessary knowledge man differentiates between the two types of action.218
RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
theory of kasb. w h e n the power is inexistent there is no acquisition. 15-6.54 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.
. As we have said above it treats the difference between an appropriation act. p . It is true that man knows the difference between the two types of action. it serves as a condition of the qudra which
See note 24 above a n d pars. p p . 55 Cf. 75-98. and the power existed. In this theory. t h e power will not exist. if the acquisition were impossible only because of t h e nonexistence of the limb.53 He seems to assert that God's creation of man's actions is logical. But since the limb can exist in conjunction with impotence. 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. and not because of the nonexistence of the l i m b . " 57 See al-Ash'ari. If the limb were inexistent. F u r t h e r m o r e . 125. 131. 704f a n d m y "al-Ghazali's theory of causality". man cannot feel in himself a power without the latter having been implanted in him as an accident. man's knowledge or power is distinct from him. whereas. Wolfson. Studia Islamica 67(1987). Being a substrate of the qudra. But it is because of t h e nonexistence of t h e power that the acquisition is impossible . Kalam. 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. Al-Ash'ari understands the term kasb according to the theory of atoms and accidents. because of the nonexistence of t h e capacity. F o r if the l i m b does not exist.
60 Al-Ash'ari does not accept the voluntaristic occasionalism held by $alih al-Qubba and Abu al-Husayn al-§alihi. i. 131) is a significant indicator of this belief. pp. p. According to him. then when the limb existed the action would take place. it may be assumed that he tries to refute here the notion held by the followers of Abu al-Husayn al-$alibi to the effect that power.59 Likewise. he does not mean to contradict his definition of kasb (the action proceeds from its appropriator in virtue of a created power. 1. 1.e. that if the appropriation were impossible only because of the non-existence of the limb. on the one hand. but on the other hand. 130). 309. The same holds true with regard to life (par. When an appropriation does not occur it is not on account of the non-existence of a limb. that there is a necessary connection between the power and the substrate). When al-Ash'ari says that: "If the limb were in-existent. the act must begin to exist with the capacity at the very moment that the latter begins to exist" (McCarthy's translation).62 Al-Ash'ari's discussion of 'ajz (impotence. 310. 232. just as the qudra is the condition of an appropriation act. produces with the atoms of the body a substrate in which the action takes place. 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". despite the nonexistence of the power. The qudra. Goodman. and cutting could be effected by an inexistent sword after God had turned the sword into a reed. 131) and the constitution of a body (binya par. That alAsh'ari believes in a regular succession of events61 is also proved in par.all of which is impossible. " S e e ibid. 92]. the knowledge of weaving (par. since a limb can exist with impotence. hearing and seeing may inhere in a dead body. and the cutting could be done by an inexistent limb . al-Luma'. but to stress.p. incapacity) as opposed to qudra follows the preceding topic which deals with the relationships among the conditions leading to the occurrence of an action. 124 in which al-Ash'ari demonstrates that the action occurs simultaneously with the existence of the power over it. or because of a similar reason. God acts in the world freely. 102-4. 62 "Moreover. the appropriation would take place" (par. 11. knowledge. 129). So if that be impossible. ibid. 406. 1 3 . as he really does.
. 5-6.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
inheres in it. p . par. which is an accident. and if the act could take place in virtue of an inexistent power. This substrate is a condition for the occurrence of kasb. 132) all of which can exist in conjunction with impotence. See al-Ash'ari. since
See ibid. 11. lOlf. 1. p . then burning could be effected by the heat of an inexistent fire after God had turned the fire into cold. He is restricted in his acting to a natural sequence of actions. and the power existed. "Causality". Goodman. if the act could begin to exist. 61 The use of the term ajraal-'ada ("He made a custom". 'Ajz is defined as man's absolute impotence to perform an action because an organ is missing or is afflicted. [par. 14-5. The qudra serves as an immediate condition for the occurrence of the act.. but rather on account of the non-existence of the qudra. 60 See ibid. In such cases qudra cannot inhere. p .
He could not succeed in answering questions which he did not pose. 6 * See Peters. when one disbelieves. Al-Ash'ari is more interested in solving problems concerning God's omnipotence than in establishing man's moral responsibility. 233f. 66. ed. " T h e Q a d i " . The question of man's moral responsibility as against God's omnipotence is treated from the point of view of God's omnipotence. p .64 It is in this sense that the unbeliever can be regarded as "incapable of belief". p . and tr. J.68 Abbreviations Al-Ash'ari. 11. according to al-Ash'ari. Schwarz. n. God's Created Speech. n. 142f. " T h e Q a d i " . The question of freedom of will and choice does not arise at all. Even within the discussion of taklif. 66 See ibid. Wl-ishtighal bi-tarkihi) and performs its opposite (al-ishtighal bi-diddihi). i. 67 Al-Baqillani. p . See al-Tamhid. According to him. 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. 22. in establishing the creation of " i n t e n t i o n " . McCarthy. There cannot be two opposite accidents in the same substrate at the same time. F o r al-Ash'ari. p . " T h e structure". al-Baqillanl seems rightly to interpret al-Ash'ari's notion of kasb. 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. into English R. he is unable to believe.e. " i n t e n t i o n " is created. however. Thus he answers the question of how God imposes precepts on man while the latter is incapable. the object of power. 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. 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). Kitab al-luma' fi al-radd 'ala ahl al-zaygh wal-bida'': The Theology of al-Ash'art. In my opinion. the important point al-Ash'ari emphasizes is God's way of acting. exists simultaneously with the power over it. par. 65 See F r a n k . 38.63 Since. 238. G o o d m a n w h o read this article a n d m a d e valuable comments.
. Lenn E.65 for he then has the structure of body which can receive the accident of qudra and hence the accident of the action.67 He succeeded in fulfilling the aim of his discussion.. or the conditions through which God's power acts. al-Luma'. the unbeliever can believe at another moment. the action. Schwarz. 68. 63. Beirut 1953. 527. omitting a thing (not doing a thing) m e a n s doing its contrary. p p . while God simultaneously imposes upon him the obligation of belief. 20. 1-2.
63 See ibid. 68 I a m indebted to Prof. See al-Ash'ari. al-Luma': Al-Ash'ari.66 In sum.220
RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
it has no substrate. which he accepts as a postulate without trying to demonstrate it. when one has the power of unbelief. par 135. p . By way of implication.
Stern. Watt. ed. God's Created Speech: J. Kalam: H. Watt. R. "The structure": R. " 'Acquisition' (kasb) in early Kalam". 1976. 335-87. The Formative Period: W. pp. M. An analysis of the Kitab al-Luma'. ed. Al-Jurjani.
. A study in the speculative theology of the Mu'tazill Qadi l-Qudat Abu l-IJasan 'Abd alJabbar bn Ahmad al-Hamadani. A. Al-Juwayni. al-Tamhid: Al-Baqillani. M. McCarthy. Watt. Cambridge. "Causality": L. pp. in Islamic Philosophy and The Classical Tradition. Sharh al-mawaqiffi 'Urn al-kalam (al-mawqif alkhamis fil-ilahiyyai).
London 1948. Wolfson. Brown. ed. Free Will and Predestination in Early Islam. "The Qadi": M. Irshad: Al-Juwaym. Studia Islamica 47 (1978). Free Will: W. Gimaret. Muhammad Yusuf Musa and 'All 'Abd al-Mun'im 'Abd al-Hamid.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB
i . Paris 1980. "The structure of created causality according to al-As'ari.Gabbar's refutation of the As'arite doctrine of 'Acquisition' (kasb)". R. Goodman. Hourani and V. Studia Islamica 25 (1966). "Acquisition": M. Frank. al-Farq: Al-Baghdadi. "Did al-Ghazali deny causality?". Gimaret. Wiesbaden 1963. Edinburgh 1973. al-Farq bayna al-Firaq. Sharh: Al-Jurjani. Cairo n. al-tamhid. Peters. 229-63. M. Maqalat al-islamiyyin wa-ikhtilafal-musallin. Peters. pp. Beirut 1957. Theories de Vacte humain en theologie Musulmane. Schwarz. H. A.
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j ' | I j \ \
Al-Ash'ari. M. 83-120. S. pp. al-irshad ilia qawati' al-adillaji usul ali'tiqad. Leiden 1976. Ahmad al-Mahdi. Wolfson. pars. Schwarz. Oxford 1972. Israel Oriental Studies 6 (1976). 82-164". Mass. Theories: D. Maqalat: Al-Ash'ari. Schwarz. J.13-75. The Philosophy of the Kalam. Tana'Abd alRa'uf Sa'd. Goodman. Al-Baghdadi. E. K. ed. "The Qadi 'Abd al. Ritter. Schwarz. Cairo 1976. Al-Baqillani. Frank.d. God's Created Speech. K. ed. M. ed. The Formative Period of Islamic Thought.