A RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASffARl'S THEORY OF KASB ACCORDING TO KITAB AL-LUMA

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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.

The Formative Period.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB 211 Schematically described. Kalam. 189ff. the difference lies in the fact that an appropriation takes place in virtue of man's created power (quwwa mufydatha). man creates his action (element c). 13 takes place without power existing in man. 691. 93. pp.1 According to him. 318-20. Kalam. 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. c. par. al-Luma'. Man necessarily knows the difference between these two types of movement through his consciousness. 1-70. pp. Let us take for example two theories. Involuntary are such movements as shaking from palsy or shivering from fever. appropriated movements are those like going and coming. the theory of kasb has three constituents: a. 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. Dirar ibn 'Amr (d. that of Dirar and that of al-Najjar. 92. 10 See Wolfson.44 (1968).12 whereas an involuntary movement. 8 See al-Baghdadl. On Pirar see J. 367. 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). al-Najjar9 taught that God creates in man the power to appropriate the action simultaneously with His creation of the action itself. Wolfson. 241-79. p. al-Ash'ari states that God creates the action in man simultaneously with His creation of the power to appropriate the action. 130. p. . 815) seems to have invented the theory of kasb. pp. 9 Al-Najjar died in the earlier half of the third/ninth century. See J. also created by God. pp.14 Consequently. par.e. Now. 89. 12 See ibid. Biographie einer vergessenen Schule". p. "Pirar ibn 'Amr und die 'Cahmiya'. 13 See ibid.11 Thus it seems phenomenologically that man has freedom of action. 667-70. pp. 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). p. Watt. God's creation of man's action. The Formative Period. and it is thus a free action of his own. Watt. the action. 11 See al-Ash'ari. van Ess. Der Islam 43(1967). pp. 670. But ontologically speaking. Der Islam 44(1968). "Acquisition".8 Contrary to Dirar. Accordingly.10 Following al-Najjar. he knows that he cannot prevent involuntary movements from occurring while the opposite is true with appropriated movements. 56ff. God's creation of man's power or capacity (quwwa or istifa'a) for appropriating this action.. approaching and withdrawing. opponents regarded the notion of kasb 7 See Schwarz. al-Farq. par. b. Kalam. i. Man's appropriating the action created for him by God (iktisab). 199-201. 14 See Wolfson. van Ess. It is a power God creates in man from birth.

p. Basically. man's power (qudra). 1967). "Acquisition".212 RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB as meaningless. 16 17 .' 8 Man is the owner of the act and since it is determined by him he performs it.19 It follows that God's omnipotence is not impaired. is a power of efficient causality created for him by God. Frank asserts: "In that God creates it (causality) at the moment of the 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. According to Frank. al-Ash'ari's master. Idem. Thus the term kasb is used to denote free human action which is brought to realization through man's created power. Idem. He is. n. 24f. in a sense. pars.20. 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.15 It is true that nowhere does al-Ash'ari indicate that the created power to appropriate has no effect on the appropriation. Studio Islamica 25 (1966). an analysis of Kitab alLuma'. 322. but it precedes the occurrence of the act and thus is independent of God's creation. 84f) accepts Frank's approach without elaborating on it. pp. 19 See ibid. 18 See ibid. p. their development through the ages and their connection with the verbs kasaba and iktasaba appearing in other contexts. Ravello 1966 (publ. studi arabi e islamici. 31. Several scholars have attempted to explain the term kasb and the theories connected with it. 244f. in Atti 3 cong. man is the sole creater of his acts. and other Mu'tazilite thinkers admitted that man's power of creation of his acts is granted to him by God. See ibid. Gimaret (Theories. 355ff and the references given there.16 Frank's article "The structure of created causality according to al-As'ari. Frank. which is an accident of his being. 82-164"17 is the first attempt to analyze the doctrine of kasb from an ontological point of view. Frank continues (pp. the creator of the act. "The Qadl". 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". p. 31ff) to elucidate al-Ash'ari's theory 15 See Schwarz. ibid. pp. 26. 229f. Explaining the relationship between God's creation of man's action and man's causality (the power of causation created for him by God). while man's responsibility is preserved too. 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. p. since they perceived no difference between involuntary actions and appropriations. Through this power the action takes place. Cf. 13-75. p. 20 Al-Jubba'I. "Remarks on the early development of the Kalam".

differentiates between an appropriated and an involuntary act. JAOS 88(1968). Wansbrough. It is true that Frank refers to the debate with the Mu'tazila. The first concerns the nature of the Kalam. p p . then we must be consistent in following their interpretations. . epistemological and ontological.22 This general approach to the Kalam is also expressed in Frank's treatment of alAsh'ari's theory of kasb.21 Regarding the Kalam as a "theological science" not an "art of contradiction making". pp. "The Qadi") and other articles mentioned in "Acquisition" par. Fourthly. 361-3. Oxford 1977. Thirdly. p . unless there are good textual reasons for our departure. for our understanding of al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb. aims at developing an overall theory. such as God's attributes. BSOAS 43(1980). can we rely on later authorities who put forward or explain it? If we can. For consciousness. In his Quranic Studies Wansbrough argues that the method employed by a scholar determines to a certain extent the results of his research. 295-309. Frank attempts to show that in several issues. Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation. 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. Quranic Studies. the Kalam appears as a highly systematic theological philosophy disconnected from polemics.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB 213 through examining paragraphs 82-164 in al-Luma' according to his thesis that qudra means a power of efficient causality. al-Ash'ari. Idem. "Schwarz's articles ("Acquisition". 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. as we have seen. Al-Ash'ari refers to power (qudra) as an accident distinct from man. but the debate is in the background. 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'. including man's consciousness. He proves this through a familiar 21 See J. 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. 22 See "The Kalam.23 Treating the kasb theory from an ontological point of view requires us to examine all its elements under this aspect. 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 question of kasb can be dealt with through several aspects: philological. The second methodological point concerns the use of terms and definitions. in Frank's view. not only at answering the opponent's objections. 9 1 . an art of contradiction-making or theological science? some remarks on the question". theological. Ill belong to the first two aspects.

F o r if he were capable of himself. Cf. but rather that this definition is what al-Ash'ari really intended. is "that the act proceeds from its appropriator (lit. Wolfson."25 Had al-Ash'ari thought that qudra was efficient cause. 29 See al-Ash'ari. "al-Kindi". he would not exist save as capable. 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). 8 . it does not stand to reason that no one knew that al-Ash'ari had thought of qudra as an efficient cause. Frank's attitude towards later authorities is not clear. acquirer muktasib) in virtue of a created power (bi-quwwa muffdatha. Madelung. 122 (McCarthy's translation): " Q . vol. and as he must be moving in virtue of something distinct from him. for the term kasb is defined. V. man's action does not proceed from him unless God creates an inciting cause (sabab muhayyif) for it. H I .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. El1. Moreover. 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). H e is sometimes capable and sometimes impotent. 54. not as a natural cause: According to Hisham. which had already been used by al-Kindi. El2. he says that "one must be very cautious in reading back into the thought of al-As'ari the elaborations of his later followers. 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. 11. p .27 and secondary cause (sabab) were unquestionably known to al-Ash'ari. Rashed. al-Ash'ari."26 Both efficient cause ('illaja'ila). it is true and certain that his capacity is something distinct from h i m " . 28 See on him W. 11. 1. or in virtue of something inseparable from him. 795)28 had used the term sabab in connection with man's action. according to al-Ash'ari. 40. 26 See Frank. 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. p . 30 See Frank. p p . p . n. the absence of the definition of istitaa cannot be attributed to the absence of any definitions of terms in this book. " H i s h a m ibn al-Hakam". 496-8. He himself reported that the Shfite Mutakallim Hisham ibn al-Hakam (d. 1-2 of the A r a b i c text. just as he must be knowing in virtue of something distinct from him. p . Maqalat. 42.30 but does not elaborate on his criterion for this "reading back". p . Jolivet and R. Therefore he must be capable in virtue of something distinct from him. Furthermore. he would have defined it as such.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. 24 See al-Luma' par. 1 shall try t o explain later t h e m e a n i n g of bi-quwwa mulfdatha. 27 See J. " T h e structure". just as he knows at one time and does not know at another. 40f. vol. . Kalam. Indeed. The real meaning (haqlqa) of kasb. " T h e structure". Maqalat. a n d now moves a n d again does not move. But since he is sometimes capable and sometimes incapable.214 RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB Kalam argument. 672f. p . p . 122f. 542.9 . particularly those of [Fakhr alDin al-]Razi". 25 See al-Luma'.

" Y a h y a i b n 'Adi's refutation of t h e doctrine of acquisition (iktisab)". 92-4.e. 40. implies a prior freedom of conscious and deliberative choice"35 is untenable. Baneth Dedicata. it is evident that according to al-Luma' pars. for what causes a will to arise is another will and so forth.8 . as one would expect in an overall theory of action. in al-Ash'ari both an appropriated movement and an involuntary movement are created by God . 37 See al-Jurjanl.32 In my opinion. God wills and creates all things. p p .159 man cannot will unless God wills. However. 6 4 . from al-Baqillanl onwards. or whether it is an inherent element in man. As has been stated above. Although al-Ash'ari does not mention the power to will. Jerusalem 1979. mention "choice" and "will". but from an ontological point of view his power to will. 6 5 . His feeling is also created by God. nn.37 Al-Ash'ari's conception of the substrate (mahalt) of an act poses another See ibid. 34 See ibid. Both terms recur at later stages of the Kalam. 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. 78-9. i. It is now time to penetrate to the heart of the matter. Schwarz. from his consciousness. 9 3 .34 one may conclude that He wills and creates man's power to will as well as the will itself. Shark al-mawaqif. 249. p . Pines a n d M . but he is really compelled to act. 33 See al-Luma. 68.4 . Thus.. In the light of this. Studia Orientalia Memoriae D.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB 31 215 Sometimes he is helped by such authorities and sometimes he plainly rejects their understanding of al-Ash'ari's notions. Man knows this difference by a necessary knowledge. al-Ash'ari himself does not. 65. unless one understands both freedom and choice as created by God. 36 See Schwarz. he feels free to act. S. Frank's notion that "qudra. H. 32 31 . according to al-Ash'ari. p p . " T h e structure".36 Had alAsh'ari not thought that man's act of the will is also created by God. 63 a n d passim. he would have been led to admit an infinite chain of appropriations. 80-2. 159. 49. 35 See F r a n k . it is true that from man's point of view. He does not tell us to whom the power to will belongs. and each will in turn needs an act of appropriation. 49. Here lies one of the main obstacles to the understanding of his theory. man feels he is free. Cf. p. Furthermore. Thus. 33 in the former man feels he has power and thus is not compelled to act. al-Ash'ari passes from an ontological discussion to a phenomenological one. in human agent. "The Qadi". pars. 30. p p . p . while in the latter he feels he has no power and thus cannot prevent the act from occurring. 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. pars. to man himself or to God. 246. In stating this. whether God creates it for man at the moment the action takes place or before the occurrence of the action. See ibid. his will and his feeling or his knowledge of both the power to will and the will are created by God. since..

par. preceded the moment of the act. n. 84. Schwarz. p. al-Ash'ari thought that the human power had no impact on the act. which is impossible. 258. Cf. Gimaret considers the phrases waqa'a bi or yakunu bi as signifying. "The QadI". Maqalat. "The Qadl". According to later Mutakallimun. the preposition bi may be interpreted to indicate either a condition. which is momentary. 45 Cf. there is a qudra in a substrate without the occurrence of the act. al-Ash'ari. 44 See W. Sharh al-mawaqif. But this contradicts what al-Ash'ari holds concerning the substrate of the act. p. "The structure". or a cause of the act. 39 38 . "The structure".38 Although al-Ash'ari does not state which of the two possibilities he prefers.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. since an effect may come to be at the very moment of the existence of the cause. the act would occur by means of non-existent power. In the Kalam man's acts are one genus of accidents which inhere in the atoms. n. A Grammar of the Arabic Language. n. in this context.11. which deems the power as efficient cause. 54f. For if the qudra inheres in the whole body but only the hand moves. 246. 40 See Schwarz.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. 248.46 Schwarz asserts that al-Shahrastam was wrong in attributing this view to See Schwarz. This of course does not undermine Frank's theory. 232. 245. 163f. 46 See al-Jurjanl. 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). only a cause-effect relation. p. p. 127.41 mean that qudra inheres in the whole body. or in the bodies composed of these atoms. p. or a means45 through which the act takes place. See Theories. rep. 542. 126. 78. "The structure". 2-3. 41 See Frank. 60. 127. Cambridge 1967. or simultaneity (between the power and the act) 44 . 43 See Frank. "The Qadi". It also contradicts al-Ash'ari's doctrine of capacities. 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. 55f. 237. 42 See al-Luma'. 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. p.39 His adversaries pose an objection: if man's qudra. Now. it is evident from pars. 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". p. 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. pp. p. Frank. 129 that he prefers the second possibility.216 RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB difficulty for understanding Frank's theory. p. Wright. If the power.

1. i. be it an act of appropriation or an involuntary act. 11. Lumd ft qawa'id ahl al-sunna. The following will be an attempt at explaining al-Ash'ari's theory of kasb from another point of view. 97. which made them confront questions such as how there can be two creators. Theories. Cf. not in God.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. especially when al-Ash'ari's text does not show that he holds to impact and later Ash'arite scholars. Beirut 1968. The fact that the denial of impact appears for the first time in al-Juwayni. 8. for whoever creates evil is an evil-doer. pars. Other comments will be put forward below in connection with certain sections of the al-Luma'. ibid. Irshad.48 does not necessarily prove that al-Ash'ari adheres to impact. Man is called an appropriator (muktasib). whose report about al-Ash'ari's other parts of the kasb theory are accepted as true.52 Paragraph 92 is of crucial importance for the understanding of al-Ash'ari's See Schwarz.51 In order to meet this charge al-Ash'ari states that God creates in man his action. 207-10. n. but he does not prove his assertion. 39. p . the meaning of "man moves" is that he is one in whom movement inheres (ma'nd al-mutaljarrik anna al-haraka hallathu). p a r . 49 See al-Luma'. This being the case. 50 See ibid. Contrary to Frank. Concerning an involuntary movement. 9-10. attribute the denial of impact to him. The same holds true with reference to kasb. p . p . but the act is performed in man. 40. ed. and especially how God can be spoken of as just when He creates evil. the points of departure of both schools established the character of the questions asked. 90. See al-Juwayni.. p a r . of one act. Thus al-Ash'ari deduces from analogy that just as God does not move when He creates movement. 97. Thus. 89.49 but is also its only real agent. God and man. p p . al-Ash'ari and his followers. God creates it in man and is its real agent. so He is not an evil-doer when He creates evil. 52 See ibid. Whereas the Mu'tazilites insisted on the principle of God's justice.e. 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 . Frank cannot rely on al-Ash'ari's believing in impact which the texts do not show. had to answer the objection of how man can be responsible for an act created for him by God. and this cannot be possible with regard to God. Al-Ash'ari is of the opinion that God not only creates man's action. M . God cannot be spoken of as moving. The points outlined thus far cause us to question Frank's understanding of alAsh'ari's theory of kasb. G i m a r e t . Idem. 165. Allard (Textes apologetiques de Guwaini). 82. 85. 51 See ibid. because the act takes place through power created for him by God. 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.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB 217 al-Ash'ari47. who adhered to God's omnipotence. 48 47 .

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. if the acquisition were impossible only because of t h e nonexistence of the limb.w h e n the limb does not exist . It is true that man knows the difference between the two types of action. God cannot create visual perception along with blindness. contrary to e. 131.g. p . p . §alih al-Qubba's view (see below). the organ alone does not serve as a condition for the performance of an act. 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. Saying that through necessary knowledge man differentiates between the two types of action. Being a substrate of the qudra. 704f a n d m y "al-Ghazali's theory of causality".57 According to al-Ash'ari. T h e nonexistence of the limb entails the nonexistence of the power. whereas. which is performed without a qudra. He feels or knows that he has power and that he is not compelled to act. man's knowledge or power is distinct from him. " 57 See al-Ash'ari. If the limb were inexistent. and not because of the nonexistence of the l i m b . 11. the acquisition would take place. t h e power will not exist. 125. we k n o w t h a t the acquisition does not take place. See G o o d m a n . In this theory. 75-98. Wolfson. man cannot feel in himself a power without the latter having been implanted in him as an accident. As we have said above it treats the difference between an appropriation act.55 Paragraph 129 and what follows prove this notion. it serves as a condition of the qudra which See note 24 above a n d pars. and the nonexistence of the power entails the nonexistence of the acquisition. 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 is that knowledge not also an accident created in man by God? It is not impossible to answer this question in the affirmative. but again this feeling or knowledge is also a created accident. Studia Islamica 67(1987). Kalam. F u r t h e r m o r e . 15-6. F o r if the l i m b does not exist.218 RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB theory of kasb. Al-Ash'ari understands the term kasb according to the theory of atoms and accidents. p p . " C a u s a l i t y " . God's omnipotence is absolute but with the qualification of logic. Maqalat. because of the nonexistence of t h e capacity. w h e n the power is inexistent there is no acquisition. But since the limb can exist in conjunction with impotence. 54 53 .53 He seems to assert that God's creation of man's actions is logical. then w h e n the limb existed the acquisition would exist. which is performed through a qudra. But it is because of t h e nonexistence of t h e power that the acquisition is impossible . al-Ash'ari enters into the region of phenomenology as I have noted above. 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 an involuntary act. God cannot create in man an accident of feeling of power without creating at the same time an accident of power.a n d not because of the nonexistence of the limb. 229.54 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. 101. 55 Cf. and the power existed.

the act must begin to exist with the capacity at the very moment that the latter begins to exist" (McCarthy's translation). the appropriation would take place" (par. 1. 1. on the one hand. 14-5. When an appropriation does not occur it is not on account of the non-existence of a limb. [par. 61 The use of the term ajraal-'ada ("He made a custom".p. 92]. then burning could be effected by the heat of an inexistent fire after God had turned the fire into cold. then when the limb existed the action would take place.62 Al-Ash'ari's discussion of 'ajz (impotence. God acts in the world freely. See al-Ash'ari. This substrate is a condition for the occurrence of kasb. that if the appropriation were impossible only because of the non-existence of the limb. " S e e ibid. al-Luma'. p. 1 3 . He is restricted in his acting to a natural sequence of actions. i. he does not mean to contradict his definition of kasb (the action proceeds from its appropriator in virtue of a created power. and the power existed. 131) and the constitution of a body (binya par. but on the other hand. that there is a necessary connection between the power and the substrate). The same holds true with regard to life (par. That alAsh'ari believes in a regular succession of events61 is also proved in par. According to him. 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". 129).. but rather on account of the non-existence of the qudra.60 Al-Ash'ari does not accept the voluntaristic occasionalism held by $alih al-Qubba and Abu al-Husayn al-§alihi. the knowledge of weaving (par.e. as he really does. since a limb can exist with impotence. The qudra. "Causality".all of which is impossible. So if that be impossible. When al-Ash'ari says that: "If the limb were in-existent. 102-4. 130). incapacity) as opposed to qudra follows the preceding topic which deals with the relationships among the conditions leading to the occurrence of an action. Goodman. The qudra serves as an immediate condition for the occurrence of the act. knowledge. Goodman. In such cases qudra cannot inhere. 132) all of which can exist in conjunction with impotence. 309. and cutting could be effected by an inexistent sword after God had turned the sword into a reed. lOlf. 124 in which al-Ash'ari demonstrates that the action occurs simultaneously with the existence of the power over it. despite the nonexistence of the power. p . ibid. produces with the atoms of the body a substrate in which the action takes place. pp. 'Ajz is defined as man's absolute impotence to perform an action because an organ is missing or is afflicted. 60 See ibid. just as the qudra is the condition of an appropriation act. 310. p . 406. or because of a similar reason. 58 . par. 11. hearing and seeing may inhere in a dead body. if the act could begin to exist. and the cutting could be done by an inexistent limb .RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB 219 inheres in it. which is an accident. 1. 62 "Moreover. it may be assumed that he tries to refute here the notion held by the followers of Abu al-Husayn al-$alibi to the effect that power. p . 5-6. 131) is a significant indicator of this belief. 232.59 Likewise. but to stress. 11. and if the act could take place in virtue of an inexistent power. since See ibid.

Schwarz. 11. G o o d m a n w h o read this article a n d m a d e valuable comments. " T h e Q a d i " . See al-Tamhid. McCarthy. p . par. God's Created Speech. According to him. omitting a thing (not doing a thing) m e a n s doing its contrary. exists simultaneously with the power over it. He could not succeed in answering questions which he did not pose.220 RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB it has no substrate. 1-2. ed. al-Luma'. 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. n. in establishing the creation of " i n t e n t i o n " . Even within the discussion of taklif. 68 I a m indebted to Prof. and tr. 66 See ibid. 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. Beirut 1953.e. al-Baqillanl seems rightly to interpret al-Ash'ari's notion of kasb. 22. " T h e Q a d i " .66 In sum.67 He succeeded in fulfilling the aim of his discussion. 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. 238. Schwarz. p . 527.63 Since. 63 See ibid. 6 * See Peters. 38. however. Al-Ash'ari is more interested in solving problems concerning God's omnipotence than in establishing man's moral responsibility. Kitab al-luma' fi al-radd 'ala ahl al-zaygh wal-bida'': The Theology of al-Ash'art. J. when one disbelieves. Lenn E. 142f. the action. See al-Ash'ari. . 66. 67 Al-Baqillani. 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). p . " i n t e n t i o n " is created. while God simultaneously imposes upon him the obligation of belief.65 for he then has the structure of body which can receive the accident of qudra and hence the accident of the action. p . Thus he answers the question of how God imposes precepts on man while the latter is incapable. " T h e structure". p . There cannot be two opposite accidents in the same substrate at the same time. when one has the power of unbelief. or the conditions through which God's power acts. Wl-ishtighal bi-tarkihi) and performs its opposite (al-ishtighal bi-diddihi). 65 See F r a n k .. p p .64 It is in this sense that the unbeliever can be regarded as "incapable of belief". The question of freedom of will and choice does not arise at all. 63. which he accepts as a postulate without trying to demonstrate it. 20. the important point al-Ash'ari emphasizes is God's way of acting. according to al-Ash'ari. 233f. he is unable to believe. i. al-Luma': Al-Ash'ari. par 135. into English R. The question of man's moral responsibility as against God's omnipotence is treated from the point of view of God's omnipotence. F o r al-Ash'ari. By way of implication. In my opinion. n.68 Abbreviations Al-Ash'ari. the unbeliever can believe at another moment. 68. the object of power.

al-Tamhid: Al-Baqillani. ed. Theories: D. M. Watt. Theories de Vacte humain en theologie Musulmane. Maqalat al-islamiyyin wa-ikhtilafal-musallin. London 1948. Schwarz. Al-Juwayni. "Did al-Ghazali deny causality?". The Philosophy of the Kalam. T. Cambridge. Beirut 1957. R. Gimaret. The Formative Period of Islamic Thought. R. E. Oxford 1972. K. 1 ! I I j ' | I j \ \ : Al-Ash'ari. Frank. M. J. in Islamic Philosophy and The Classical Tradition. Mass. Schwarz. 82-164". Goodman. "The Qadi": M. pars. "Causality": L. Al-Baghdadi. Cairo 1976. Sharh al-mawaqiffi 'Urn al-kalam (al-mawqif alkhamis fil-ilahiyyai). Studia Islamica 25 (1966). "The Qadi 'Abd al. Watt. McCarthy. 83-120. ed. Free Will and Predestination in Early Islam. Edinburgh 1973. Al-Baqillani. Gimaret. Wolfson. pp. The Formative Period: W. M. Muhammad Yusuf Musa and 'All 'Abd al-Mun'im 'Abd al-Hamid. Sharh: Al-Jurjani. pp. Frank. ed. A study in the speculative theology of the Mu'tazill Qadi l-Qudat Abu l-IJasan 'Abd alJabbar bn Ahmad al-Hamadani. Studia Islamica 47 (1978). God's Created Speech: J. . ed.RE-EXAMINATION OF AL-ASH'ARl'S THEORY OF KASB 221 i . "The structure of created causality according to al-As'ari. M. ed. 1976. H. God's Created Speech. pp.Gabbar's refutation of the As'arite doctrine of 'Acquisition' (kasb)". Schwarz. ed. al-irshad ilia qawati' al-adillaji usul ali'tiqad. S. Watt. Leiden 1976. "The structure": R. 335-87. Ritter. An analysis of the Kitab al-Luma'. Irshad: Al-Juwaym. "Acquisition": M. A. Wiesbaden 1963. Al-Jurjani. pp. Maqalat: Al-Ash'ari. " 'Acquisition' (kasb) in early Kalam". al-Farq: Al-Baghdadi. K. Goodman. Watt.13-75. Paris 1980. Cairo n.d. 229-63. Israel Oriental Studies 6 (1976). Free Will: W. Peters. Ahmad al-Mahdi. M. Tana'Abd alRa'uf Sa'd. Stern. A. Brown. Peters. Wolfson. Kalam: H. Hourani and V. al-Farq bayna al-Firaq. al-tamhid. Schwarz.

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