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1 2 ' Al-GHA'- -

ALI'
s PHILOSOPHICA
method.
62
F L TH EO LOG Y
ed or thefal- iji
of7 e~ndintelligenc;1 a, t~is sensesha
heir belief in d supeno- to the" pes aconviction that th h
no longer emons,,,, ir peers inthe r' ey aveImowl
al.Gh",r p"fo'm the ritu ,~n, some have lost II" rgious sciences.Becase
,onsid"e~ s:ts out to prove a
th
duties prescribed athrespect foerevelation",I
by"ucnticall emonstrations F at many of thefalli .e',em. In his 1"0,""""
momt"tivel y"peating 'h;t t~' Seneratrons. 'he ; : t ~sijiarguments cannot be
the only hu y.Al-Gha''ii acce ey could answer th " a deluded themseles
any othe mans whose t h~ts t aqad only in th ese particular questionsde-
y person eac lngs h ecase of th h
Pakhr I . uneciticall' . s ould be un .. eprop ets: theyare
howev" th
a
Om al.R"i's hmevUably leads i t critically accepted. Follom"li
th ,at the Gh arsh ac . no error."
osequestion azalian me h cusanons again
dusive answ s towhich neith thod can fail to ;t Ibn Chaylan illustrae.
Over thewo led~ Fakhr aI-Din er.demonstratio pro uce dear-cut positions to
fe t . r s pr realized th nnor revel f
C Inthis. e-eternity A at revel . a100 can offer acon
in favor of SItuation. If one ~ttacking the ar ualIOn does not settlethedispute
a~er al_Gha~ael_wOrld's pre.et~ce~ts that ther: a~ eent sdoft hefaliisifa haslittleef.
sIde. I We. rnlty no em . rabon and .reIndeed . 1 1 . -as some A . . onstratlve arguments
carry d. weigh WI 109t d flstotehan . h
fi . >fferentco . mg "gume 0 <>-the situ' s mt egene"tion;
or thiSsituation nVJ nClllgforces 2
ts
that may not ~bon reqUIres carefulcon
th
Cosmology. . AIGhaziili's . e demonstrative andthat
at ne.th ISpr(o I epIstemolo
how ' e"evelati "e Yoneof th gy was unpeep"e<l
Godact on nor d oseque ti
develo s upon H. emonstr Sons inwhi h I - - .
th
~d for cos IScreation W abon Provid c a-GhazaiI beheved
at neIth mOlogy . ewill es acon 1 .
'''ela' " of the two" sincere a see that the ' u",ve answe<" to
tion---could pnncipal nd trUetoh posltlOn that al-Ghazali
ogyas a. settle th SOUrce ISprinci 1
am' Soentifi, e matte s mhis OWn . pes. Once herealize<l
exp~~fn':ties.inhis;:~'::'n. Additi~~:i;Ghaz'li Sim;p,;~em.ology-reason and
sality. -r:h,sstance onJ S. BecaU,eh:' al'Gha"li d~ib st mte".'t in cosmol
profo / failure to d eConflictb had no de" erately "med toa"id
un confusions aarif}rhis poSitie.tweenoccasio:olsition toposit, henever
mong On 0 aIsmand
many of hi . n cosmolo secondary cau
SInterpreters.
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, however, did lead10
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5
Cosmology in Early Islam
Development s That Led to al_Ghazali's
Incoherence of the Philosophers
A~ording to the German philosopher Chelstian Wolff (,67 9-'7 54)'
w 0first used the word, the term "cosmology" refers tothe most gen-
eral ~owledge of the world and the universe, of the composite and
~od'fiabl: nature of its being. Cosmology, however, existed longbe
arethe elghteenth century inthe form of theories about the general
structure and composition of the world. often it has been connected
tocosmogony, which refers to the explanation of how this world
cameabout. For instance. the first chapter of the Bible, the book
of Genesis. offers areport about hoWGod created the heavens and
theearth, light and darkness, water and land, and all the plants and
c.reatures of this world. 1be QUNn refers at several points to the crea-
hon of the heavens and the earth insix days (e.g. inQ 7 :54); yet inthe
Muslim revelation, there is no single passage that is as central to its
~osmogony as the Genesis report is to the Bible. The Quia
n
doew't
mtroduce its readers to how God created the world; rather, it assumes
that the readers or listeners already have some basic knowledge about
this process and clarifies certain details.
Short accounts of creation are sprinkled allover the Qudill.
They mention that the seven heavens were created from smoke,
fonning layers, one abovethe other (Q 41:n-12, 6T3) These heavens
are spheres (sing1.!alak), ineach of which swims acelestial body
such as the sun or the moon (Q 21:33, 3
6
:4
0
). Inthe seventh heaven,
inwhich the angels praise God and seek forgiveness for the believers,
sits the divine throne Carsn), carried byangels who move in rowS
(Q 407 . 89:
22
). This throne "extends over" (wasi'a) the heavens and
the earth (Q 2:255). with God as the Lordof this throne (Q: 9:
12
9).
The lowest heaven is adorned with lights (Q4l:l
2
), which are the sun
and the moon (Q 7 1:16, 7 8:13), the stars, and the constellations of the
dthe
r
that
lier
ilos-
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nie
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only to
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scholar'
the cha
phy to,
mystic]!
traditio
the Sun
Thit
study 01
standin
ates thil
human
how the
Griffell
tional v
his mo~
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acc.ord 1
were Wt
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~reer.
olfers r
AL-GHAZALI'S
PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
zodiac (Q 37 '6 ' 6
. ,15.
1
). The earth W t d ithi
integrated disk- h d as crea e WI IIItwo days (Q 41:9) froman
sevenlayers of :e:~s,~~S6(~ 21:3
0
).Paralle1in~the sevenheavens,there are
surrounded by tw 5 2). The whole edifice of heavens andeanhs
o waters separ t d b b '
created thefirst h c:' ae y a arner (barzakh, Q 5P9-20). GOO
umans Homdust t: . .
5Y4 15'26) Wb'I or Hom vanous kinds of clay(Q )'522)U
, . . ue creatin hu . , .,
fromsmokeless fire(Q .g mans, God also created the demons (sin.jiMl
lik 55,15),
e the two different strai f .
Genesis report of th Old ins a narrative that have been collatedtothe
not alwayscompatib~ . hTestament, the creation narratives intheQur'anare
for each element of ~~~ one another.' Yetthey do convey asenseofpurpose
and Hechooses betw 0 .l creation. God creates effortlessly but deliberately,
merely to say 'Be" Aeend ~t~rnatives (Q 4:13 3 , 5:17 ,14:19-20, 3P6-17 ) G o d has
, . n It IS" (k fi k
power Overall things rat a kull u~ a-~ a iinu, Q 3 :47, 3 =5 9, 6:7), etc.]; Heha,
shay qadt r, Q 64.1, 65.12, 66.8, 67 .1).
Ash' .
ante Occasionalism in th .
e Generations before al-Chazall
It is the task of theal .
expl
' ogians to mak frevelaf h '
anations to clarifYth e sense 0 revelation and developcoesl'~
know about the wo ld t: ese verses and make them consistent with what 'i\~
P
ut b r rrom other '. . D'
e~a out cosmologyare sources, including our dailyexpenence IS-
creationreports inre I.prompted by concerns that have littletodowith the
th . veahon In I 1 . th ~,'
eones developedinth . s amre eology, comprehensive cosmologICOI
huma' eCOntextofa Ith ' of
nactions. If G dh near y eologlcal debate onthenature
mansarealsounder~ .as pow~r over all things, how can weexplainthalhu-
Dohum eImpreSSIOnth th h ' ,
ans havethepo at ey avepower over their ownactions.
th
force actualiZingthis power~ qudra) to carry out their own actions, or isGod the
ehum wer. And if Gd I I h d""
anearnGod's bl 0 so eypossesses this power,w Y
Inth fi arnefor bad ti' , ad'
erst/seventh ac ons and HISreward for go ones.
sponsbl centurv th th I ' '
th
I 1ltyfor his or h .. " e eo ogreal conflict between ahumansre-
at sub er actions a dG d' . . lIS
t
sequently led to th d nos omnipotence initiated dlseus
slO
ems. Durin th e evelopm f 'I ' I ~"
th
. g esecond/ ' hth ent 0 comprehenSIve theo oglCa~I
e Viewth h elg centu c: ded
d
I
at Urnans_ d ry, agroup of theologians whodelen
eveoped an not Gd ..l . s
obb . systematic positio 0 ---ueclde and execute their ownactlO~
h
gations on His huma ns ~bout the nature of God and the effectsofHIS
umans h ncreatIon Th' e li ""
mands 0aveafree choice (ikht ' _so ISgroup, the Mu'tazilites, argu
POinted nthe other side of th Iyar) whether to obey or disobey God's~~rn
P
Iebe to.verses in the Qu <. e.argument, the opponents of the Mu'tazili
tes
Commg be" rdn IIIwho h G d . .. r nPO-
fromobeym u~ lleVerssince He u IC 0 claIms responSibility lor t'~-
because th gHISCommandt bell seals their heart" and thus prevents them
ets. This ey.chOOse,but ra; beve(Q 2:]). People become unbelievers,nol
notionwa er ecause G d beiiel-"
premely just s unaCCeptablet th 0 makes them become un
frombe<:orn.
and
Wouldnever co o. eMU'tazilltes, who held that God isSUo
unbelief W u1
111g
abeliever and I tnrnit a~act of injustice. Preventing someone
o dbe ater pun hi her
UnJ ust. IS ng the same person for his or
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM 125
At thebeginning of the fourth/tenth century, al-Ash'arl (d. 324/935-36), a
renegadeMu'tazilite theologian, pointed to what he saw as afundamental in-
compatibility inthe Mu'tazilite system: God cannot both bejust and also leave
humansafreechoice over their actions. Assuming that God knows whether
peoplewill act good or bad during their lives and that it is God who decides
abouttheir timeof death, how do the Mu'tazilites explain why aninfant, who
dieswithoutdoingeither good or bad deeds, lacks the chance to earn rewards
intheafterlife,eventhough numerous wretched people are allowedtolivelong
livesinwhich they thoughtlessly waste their chances to obey God--cl1ances
thaitheinfant craved invain. If we apply to God the same principles of justice
that weapplytohuman actions, it is unjust that He would let the wrongdoers
continuetodo wrong when He knows they will end up in hell. It would be
morejusttolet them die as infants, as He allows with many of His creatures.
2
Al-Ash'ariand his students developed aradical critique of Mu'tazilite the-
ology. Amongthe central motifs of early Ash'arlte theology was the preserva-
tionofGod'scomplete control over His creation. In their desire to safeguard
theCreator'somnipotence, Asharites developed atruly original cosmology that
cametobeknownas occasionalism. One key element of Ash'arite occasional-
ismisatomism. Earlier, Mu'tazilites had argued that all physical objects consist
ofsmallerparts, which at one point can no longer be divided Ita yat ajazza'u).
All bodiesconsist of such parts-atoms-which are the indivisible substances
(singl. jawhar) of the bodies. Atoms are the smallest units of matter and are
by themselvesbare of all color, structure, smell, or taste. Atoms gain these
sens~ryattributes only after they are assembled into bodies. Their attribut~s
areViewedas "accidents" (singl. 'ararf,) that inhere in the substances, that IS,
lheatomsof bodies. Accidents exist only when they subsist in the ato~s of a
~y.Andwhilethey cannot exist without bodies, bodies also need aC~ldents
Inordertoexist because the atoms are by themselves without any attnb~tes.
All ~(ddents together constitute the content of the present reality of any gwen
particularthing.l
!he atomist theory developed in kalam llterahlre is different from mod-
e rnIdeasabout the atom for instance because it assumes that atoms are by
fu " f '
emselvescompletely powerless and have no predetennined waya reactUIg
~otheratoms or to accidents. Evervnonmaterial being-such as anodor, an
Ullpr . ., al b' The
esslOn,or anidea-is understood as an accident of amaten emg.
IIlU~kallimul1 taught that wben ahuman believes inGod's existence, the atoms
:fhlSheartcarrythe accident of "belief in God." When anarchitect has aplan
orabuilding, the atoms ofber brain carry the accident of that plan. Boththbe
atomsandth ' ' fall and need to e
. eaCCldents are by themselves deVOid0 power
combllledinorder to create bodies be they animated or lifeless. Atoms are
:~tybUilding blocks, so to speak, a~d they only constitute ~e sha~ of abody.
T his th.ercharacteristics are fanned by the accidents that mhere mthe ~:~
po ~n~of atomism appealed to al-Ash'ari because it does not assume h
potten~ahtiesinthings limit how these things will develop inthe future. SU~
le nentialitieswould limit God's action Al-Ash'ari insisted upon the non~s-
ceofanytrue potentiality outside of God.4Inprinciple, any atomcana opt
td the
II
t that
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_~~_~. ~_'1 ~........ -
126 AL-GHAZALi's PH1LOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
any kin~of acciden~as long as God has created the association of this particular
atomWIth that particular accident.
Ash 'arites adopted the! d di f '
1
'. elf un erstan 109 0 physical processes fromear-
ier theones developed i M 't 'I' k 1- ..
. n u aZI ite a am. The Mu'tazilite movement was
particularly rich in attempts to explain physical processes. Some Mu'tazilites
speculated that movement '
I
. s are not contmuous processes but consist of smaller
eaps (singl. t ar..aJ that 0 d '
>.1' ur senses cannot etect and whose sum we perceive
th
as,ankcontinuouslyflowing movement. This theory, in turn, led other Mutazilile
1 ers to assume that h . If '
f . nme itse IS not a continuous flow but is rather a
ast procession of "mom ts " I' I
5 en s smg. waqt ), which again is concealed fromour
senses.
Mu'tazihte thinkers had 1 d di d I h'
ado ted them . area y rscusse these ideas when a-As an
DC
P ali ,combmed them, and formulated what became known as an
easton ist cosmology It ' I'
m t k II
- . s main components are the atomism of the ear ret
u a a Imun. plus the id th ' ,
latt ideat I ea at time IS a leaped sequence of moments. The
er I ea ISsometimes c 11d " ' d
d I d th
. a e an atomism of time.:" Mu'tazilites had alreay
eve ope e Idea that a Id
Th d
CCI ents cannot subsist from one moment to another.
ey nee to be created .
witho t id every moment anew, And since bodies cannot exist
u acci ents bodies . f rAJ
creates th "d' exist rom one moment to the next only because vw
err aco ents an . ,
from one ew Inevery moment. In order for an atom to exist
moment to anothe G d h '
(
baqa') r, a as to create the accident of "subsistence
every moment He th
in which . ch wants eatom to persist. This leads to acosmology
mea moment G d d
to the bo di th r ,0 must assign the accidents to the atoms an
es ey iorm Wh d
in the next . en one moment ends He creates new acC!ent>
moments and th h th' th
atoms persist. None ~fth ro.ug ese new. accidents, He ensures that e
causal relati t th . e aCCidents created m the second moment has any
on 0 e aCCIdents' th I' ' I
tribute fro III e ear Ier moment. If abody has acertama
mone moment to th th 'd
inhering inthat bo d M ano er, en God created two identical aCCIent>
deviate from th y. ovement and development occur when God decides to
ample when;'" etharrangement of the moment before. A ball is moved, for ex'
, L L ' esecondmo t f d I
aSpecific dis'~- fr men a two, the atoms of the ball are create a
......... ce om the locu fth fi '
the s pe e d ofth so erst moment. The distance determmes
emovement Th ball th . fi Id
as do the players' limbs and e. us J U~ps III~eaps over ~e plaYIng e ,
of the air ifthe,e . . their whole bodIes. This also applies to the atomS
Issomewmd I
of this world and creat th. . nevery moment, God rearranges all the atoms
moment? es err accidents anew-thus creating anew world every
Occasionalism v.'as conceived. I
over each and eve . I out of a strong desire to grant God contrO
d
' . rysmg e element of H , . -rl.'s
esJ IelSconnectedtotheA h . ,. IScreation at every point m time. Ill<
~erof human actions. Al'As~'a~tes dispute with the Mu'tazilites over the ch:'r3
c
,
Influence on nor po . taught that something that is created has neither
ed
. wer Over Itself th '
at L ntime is created or any a er being:s ~Everything that ISere-
(sabab) that makes it Spontaneously and new by God exalted, without areaso~
denied that things co~~~sary or a cause ( ilia) that generates it."'9Al-Ashan
causal efficacy among God' caus~ by anything other than God. There is nO
S creation: a ball on a playing field appears to be
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM I27
movedbyaplayer, but in fact it is moved by God. There is only one single cause
forall events inthe universe, which is God. He has the most immediate effect on
all Hiscreatures and no being other than He has any effect on others:
Thefact that the stone moves when it is pushed is not an act ofhim
whopushes, but adirect act of God (ikht irii' min Alliih). Itwould be
perfectlypossible that one of us pushed it whithout itbeing moved
becauseGod did not produce its movement, or that there is none
whopushes it and it still moves because God directly produces its
movement.'?
A!Ash'ari'sline of argument was directed against the Mu'tazilite way of say-
ing thathumans "create" (khalaqa) their actions and "generate" (t awall~ da)the
subsequenteffects. The Mu'tazilites taught that human voluntary actions are
neithercreated by God nor known to Him before they happen; rather, they
are theautonomous creation (khalq) of the human agents. According to the
Mu'tazilites,God does not will the wrongful actions of men, and He does not
createtheir consequences. These consequences are causally "g~,nerated~ br,
humanwrongdoing." Al-Ash'ari argued that the idea of human generation
assumesthat God controls neither human actions nor their effects, and thus
itmustbewrong. ,
, At theheart of al-Ashan's ontology lies the denial of any unreahze~ poten-
tialitiesinthecreated world. Al-Ash'ari rejected the idea that created belllgs .are
compelled10 act according to their nahIre (tab'). We usually assume that If a
dalestone, for instance, is planted and fed, it can only develop into adate pal~
andnot into an apple tree. Although this is true for all practical purpo~es, m
theology, this assumption unduly limits God's freedom to act. Afte~~ISCUSS-
mg wheresuch natures would be located in his cosmology, aI-Ash an deter-
mined that they can be classified neither as atoms nor as accidents. Thus: he
concluded,the Word "nature" (tab') is empty of any comprehens.ible meamng.
~ose who use it wish to indicate that there is some regularity mthe produc-
tiOnofaccidents in certain bodies nothing more.
ll
Theseregularities in God's ac'tions are what lead some humans to ass~me
theexistenceof "causal laws" or "laws of nature." Yet in reality, al-A~h'~n a.r-
guedGodd' , h' h uld only limlt HIS
0: oesn t create accordmg to such laws, w lC WO .
;filPotence and His free choice. God deliberately chooses to create sahet:
th:
r
havingeaten food and hunger in the absence of it. If He ~sh~d_ to ~~;
in~ther way round, He certainly could: ~But God follows ahabit {aJ ~ aa\ the
lh etemporal order in which He brings these events about, and d~mg I, h
o erwaywould be aviolation of His habit."ll For al-Ash'ari, there ISnelt er
QUsalih, . b e humans to
th '}nor laws of nature Observing God's habIts nngs som d
._'I
false
conclusion that such laws exist. But an omnipotent God is not boun
... awsof . h b .. deed He does so
\lr"- nature. It is easy for Him to break HIS a ItS, Ill, fi
'llenone rH' 'b . de and can rro
'L 0 ISprophets calls upon Him to bnng a out amira
\lie proph t' , ' f" nts that are pro
d ,e s mIssion. The prophetical miracle consists a eve
ucedInvi I .
o ation of the previous habit. "14
nd the
l,
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Y that
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128 AL GHAZ- -,
- ALI S PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
Secondary Causes inAsh'arite Theology
Theterm "cccasionahsm- d fi
theearlyAsh'aritesch I e nes the cosmology of what has becomeknownas
J uwayni andal-Ghaza~~A ~,:"erefer tothe Ash'~rites up tothe generatonsotel-
AbuIsryaqal-Isfara'i _ d ~eflook at the teachings of al-Baqillani (d.403/1013),
reveals that all of th~( d4
1
. /
102
7 ), a~d 'Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi (d.429/1 37 )
been saidthat intheir d e~ed the existence of "natures" (tabii'i')Y It hasoften
nial of any causal rel ..: nb of natures, Asharite occasionaiists impliedthede-
anon etween t db' ,
has argued that this is t th crea e . eings." Richard M. Frank,however,
the existenceof natur no ecase. Accordmg to Frank, the Asharite rejectionof
G
' es results fromth . d 'I f ,.. Iimi
ods creativeactivity.At the eI~ :ma 0 ~oten.tiahtIes thatcould. I
potentialities in the d Coreof Ashante occasionaiism stood thedenialol
create world 17 T h' .
may haveefficacyona th ' e question of whether acreatedbeiog
Al-Ash'ari taught Co . no er created being was only secondary tothatconcern
, 11 r Instance that h h
effects of apower-to-act that' w en umans act, their actions arethecausal
Frank argues is a" GQdcreates on behalf of the humans. This po we r,
ahuman is the "ag:;~-~f causation" that is created by God.
IS
For alAsh'ari,
of them. God still . a I)of his or her own actions and thus thetruecause
th
remams the f
e realization of th h creator a man's causation. At the momentof
e uman volunta ._~
~wer-to-act" (quwwa muhd ryact, God creates a"temporarily creaR'U
ISrealized. Frankdescrik : ha or ?udra mu1: J .dat ha), through (hi-) whichtheact
the humanact intean fS erelationship between the created power-to-adand
so seconda _1'
cause that is employed b God' rycauS<UIty. The created power is asecondary
human actionthrough (b'
Y
Inorder to achieve its effect.19God createsthe
fth
t-)atern riI r
a ehuman.lO pora Y created power that is created onbe h al
. In their theory of hum .
mal of efficacy (t a't h- ) an aC.tions,Ash'arites were torn between their de-
th
Ir on the Sid f
press at humans trul m e 0 created beings and their desire toex
onJ udgment Day lbi:t~onn the actions for which they bear responsibility
of secondary cau~ality . a~r notion led to the acknowledgment of somekind
studies are needed to In e perfonnance of the human act. More detailed
PO
l fth seewhether th
es 0 Inking particular arno ere ,:as adevelopment between thesetwO
(~. 406/1015), al-Isfara'ini d ngthe Nlshapurian Ash'arites. With IbnFiirak
ante school moved from Ba;d aI-Bagh,dadi, the intellectual center of theAsh
P~O~~ted this issue, namel w~dto Nlshapur. In regards to the question thai
,B~qllIani, Ibn Fiirak, and 115[; e~e~humans "cause" their own actions, al
: that ?~a.ns are the agen~s ~~1~1followed the general theory of aI-Ash-
w s jibOn as aconcession to~e ~ u, o~. actions, Daniel Gimaret describes
OUdbe PUnished for Somethin utazilite position that otherwise humans
w Al-Gh~ and al-J uwayni, ~Overwhich they had no agency.21
s'~ = ::: quite ambiguous reg~~ades of the Ash'arite tradition inNishapur,
l~book erent m~tifs of Asharite th.i~ec~nd~ causality. AJ J uwayni emp~a'
tres of Ashante theology; T he B gm.different works. In his influennaI
S Sesthenotionthatcreated bein :: o/Guidance (Kitab al-1 r5h iidJ, al-J uwayni
g aveno causal efficacy.Acomment byone
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM
ofhisstudentsreveals that al-Iuwaynl believed that this was al-Ash'ari's original
pcsition."Whenhumans act voluntarily, al-Iuwaynl teaches, they h~veatempe-
rarilycreatedpower-to-act (qudra ~ adit ha), which is one of the acddents (SIng,
'arag ) oftheirbodies. God creates this temporary power for the solepurpo~e of
allowing ahuman the performance of asingle act. The temporary power IS~n
accident andthus cannot subsist from one moment to another; it exists only in
themomentwhenthe human acts. In his Book of Guidance, al-Iuwaynl denied
categorically (a~ I")that the temporarily created power has anyefficacy(t a't hi"r) on
thehumanaction(al-maqdur).21 The temporarily created power does not.cause
iheenstence of thehuman act. Only God cancause the act. The temporanly cre-
atedpowerapplies tothe act likeahuman's knowledge applies towhat is known
10 himor her, The knowledge corresponds to what is known, but it does n?t
causeit,noris itcaused by it. Similarly the human volition 10perform acertam
etccrresponds tothe act, but it does not cause it." God creates the human act
independently fromthe human volition yet still incorrespondence to it.
Inashortwork onthe Muslim creed that al-Iuwayni wrotelate inhis lifeand
lhat hededicatedtohis benefactor, Nizdmal-Mulk. heemphasizes thesecondno-
tionthathumans truly perform their'action, Here, al-J uwayni points tothe ~ell-
knownfactthatGodhas givenhumans certain obligations (t aklif) GodpromIses
reward iftheyarefulfilled and threatens punishment if violated. The textof the
Qur'anclearly assumes, al-J uwayni argues, that God has givenhumans power to
fu1fill whatHeasks them to do and that He sets them inaposition (makkana)
to be obedient.Inlight of all thi~, it makes no sense "to doubt that ~e a~o~s_ of
humanshappenaccording to the humans' efficacy (i"th ar), their chOICe(lkh trya. r),
andtheircapacitytoact (iqtidar). " In fact, to deny the human power-to-actand Its
ef!ieacyto perfonnactions would void the obligations of the Shari'a,2>
, Still,al-)uwayni nowhere says that humans have efficacy on objects tI:
at
l'Xlst outsideof themselves, such as having the ability to move astone, for ill-
stance. Hefocusesonthe generation of human acts and acknowledges that there
must be acausal connection between the human's decision and the human ,act.
Hedoes t .., ']'t h but rather agamst
no seem to be argumg agamst Mu taZlI es ere
moreradicaloccasionalists who claim that no event inthe worldcanbecaused
by anythingother than God. This cannot be true, al-J uwayni objects, since the
~uman'sactionmust be caused by the human's choice. Otherwise, the whole
Idea ofGodimposing obligations upon humans would bemeaningless:
Hewhoclaims that the temporarily created power has no effect
(at har) onthe human action (ita maqdurih a) like [as if] knowledge
hadnoeffectonwhat the human knows, holds that God's demand
tOwardshumans to perform certain acts is as if God would demand
f:
om
humans toproduce by themselves colors and [other] perc.ep-
ti.O~S.l6That would bebeyond the limits of equitability and ~ Impo-
Sitionof th .' ]' the negahon of
some mgvamand impossIble, ItImp les
theShan" d h ' , h' e"
aan t ereJ echon of the prop ets messag .
~ore radicaloccasionalist would assume that the temporarily created powe~
thehumanactitself aretwoaccidents, which are-like allacddents-create
nd the
d,
air
IY that
artier
chiles-
to pro-
fthe
amic
h
Iogy is
date
Stud
hed
'8>'.
claw,
.....
......
was
gian
has
both
trad
he h~
po s t
only
at sa
mo nt
s chcl
the c
phy t
myst
tradil
the S
T
stud)
stand
ales t
hum:
howl
Grift
tiona
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ofTer
~_ ........ '1~. -- i
, ....
13 AL-GHAZALi's PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
independently by God AI-I -, - - .
f d I A h' _ .' uwayru s student al-Ansan associates the school
OUll er a- s an WIth such . Al h'art
the te 'I a VIew. -As an taught, al-Ansart reports "that
rnporan ycreated powe hIT' . ,
ha
" r as no ettect on Its corresponding action'nor
51 any part on the d . f '
Asha - th h pro uction 0the act or on one of its attributes.?" Foral.
n, eco erencebetweenth h 's deci , ,
result from God' h bi e uman s ecision and his or her actwould
s a rt to create ahu . dwi '
temporarily c ted man act III aceor WIth Its corresponding
reae power Such d I -,
basis of God's 1t . dcme an accor , a -Iuwayni objects, cannot bethe
be prompted baer~u gment ~bout the hu~an's choice. The action wouldnot
whether the y a human choice. In fact, m al-Ash'ari's theory it is not clear
rets a umanch' ft II ' '
power to act (q d) d i ~lCea er a , SInce all al-Ash'ari discusses is the
Iuwaynl the h
U
ra adn .lt~ob!ect (maqdur), which is the human action. For al-
, urnan ectstonIII[; f . .. .
temporary pow t fi . avor 0acertain achon and ItScorresponding
position taL .er 0per orm It are the sufficient causes of the action. Onlythis
axes into account that G d bli h '
commands and hibi . 0 0 iges umans to acts according toHIS
pro 1 mons.
Al-J uwayriiconsciouslydep rt f . -, .
principle that n db' a s rom what he believes was al-Ash'an sstnct
o create emg ca h . fi
ated beings do h ffi n ave any 10 uence upon another. Someere
avee cacy hes I h '
actions Still thi d ,ays, name y, t e human deciSlOns about our
. , IS oesnotme th h
from God 2'l Rath h an at t e human creates his acts independent
. er, w en hurna d 'd
temporarily crea' d ns eCi e about an action, God gives thema
e power and lik th h ' , '
the necessary causes for th e e uman declslOn, that power ISamong
e performance of the action:
The human' .
s power IScreated b G d
sible through Ib' ) th Y 0 (... ) and the act, which is pos,
1- e tempo ril
duced through Ib') th ra y created power, is definitely pro-
,- atpowe )';t" I '
being detennin d db' r. e It ISre ated to God in terms of It
God's action ieethan emg created [by Him]. It is produced through
. ' '. rough the po t
ISnot an action em wer- o-act (al-qudra). The power-to-
ad
attributes. (. , .) ~od ~rme~ by ahuman. It is simply one of God's
Bymeans of this _l.o' as gIh
ven
the human afree choice (ikh tiyar).
th
L U lCe, t e hum d'
e power.ta-act Wh an ISposes freely (sarrafa) over
. enever he p d "
po~er-to-act, that what is ro TO ~ces ~omethlllg by means of the
to It being produced b P, duc
7
d ISattnbutable to God with regard
y God s actIOn 30
When humans freely decide to e . .
power-to-act (qudra) t th h P norm an action, God cedes control over HIS
m' oeumanGd thh
an s usage. As the h . . 0 creates atemporary power for e u
po
w th uman deCides h th ' r -"
er at performs ,'t v th . weer to perform the action, it ISLrWS
d '. . let ere I'
eclslon to perfoYTYoth Inles a causal determination: the human
d .. .", e act leads t th
ecJ slon in favor of acertain act 0 e act's performance. The human's fr~
power Over His creation OnI becomes a means of God's execution of J -!IS
porarily created power-t~ ct Y :-, b
7
n
the human's decision to act and the tern-
are the sufficient cause fo; th~o~CIde will the action occur. These two together
> For aJ .]u\Vayni th h ,uman action.
Ideawould' ,e Unlan ISnot th ch
th VIolatethe opin.i f e creator of his or her actions' su an
e creatOr of their actions beea
ns
0the forefathers (salaif).ll Humans c~nnot be
, use the . fib
yare Ignorant of the true essence 0 e
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM 131
actsandofthe full implications (~ awadit h) these acts have. For al-Iuwayni. the
creatorof anact must have a detailed knowledge about all aspects of it." God,
however, withholds such knowledge from humans."
One might ask whether for al-J uwayni, God's knowledge of His creation is in
anywayaffectedby the human's free choice? After all, if the human's decision is
trulyfree, it cannot be predicted, and God would not know how the human uses
thedivinecreativepower. Such alimitation of God's knowledge and His omnipo-
tence,however,is unacceptable to al-J uwayni. All things that come into being are
willedby Cod;>including those that are created by means of the human's tempo-
rarilycreatedpower. Everything is subject to God's determination (taqdi"r):
Godwills that the human acts and He creates (a~ dat ha) in him mo-
tives(duwii'f), awill (irada), and knowledge {'ibn} that the actions will
beproduced to the extent the human knows of it. The actions are pro-
ducedthrough (bi-) the power-to-act, whose creation for the human is
inaccordwith what he knows and wants. Humans have afree choice
(ikh tiyar) and are distinguished by acapacity to act (iqtidar). (. . . )J 5
Thehuman is afree actor (ft i'iI mukht ar) who receives commands
and prohibitions. [Yet at the same time] his actions are determined by
God,willed by Him, created by Him, and determined by Him.
36
Thehuman is like aservant, al-J uwayni says, who is not permitted free control
OVer themoney of his master. If the servant would act on his own accord and
b~yor sell, the master would not execute his transactions. Once the servant is
gIVenapOwerof attorney for certain transactions and once he decides to make
suchatransaction, his master will honor the arrangements and execute them.
Inall th ' d
esecases, the true buyer or seller ISnot the servant but the master, an
onlyhecanempower the servant to perform a transaction. Without the mas-
ler'swill dh' . . 7 II -
<L an ISpermIssion, there would be no transachon.
3
For a- uwaynl,
Ule human' th' h I' "th t
G ISatrustee of God's power, able to use it freely WI III t e Imt s a
~creates for him. Within these limits however, the human causes his own
lltitho
ns. This comparison with the serva~t can also illustrate amajor problem
"'1 al-J uw -, h 'f
att aym s t eory of human actions. Someone who lSsues a power 0
IO~eycannot expect his agent to negotiate within certain limits and also de-
~~llle all details of the transaction. The agent's freedom is hard to reconcile
~complete predetermination of his actions. _,
ing s neandahalf centuries later, Fakhr al. Din al-Razi saw inal-J uwaym s teach-
ti anearlyversion of his own position about the determination of human ac-
m
o~through"motives."38 According to al-Razi al-J uwaym- taught that the human
Olive(! la" ' God
is s till In) together with the divine power (qudra) causes the hu~an act. "
l\l. Uda'a~creator (kh aliq) of the human act, in the_ sense_~at he lays do:m
lhatth} ecauses that necessitate the act. Fakhr ai-Din al-RaZl, however, realIzed
the j er.ecanbe no free choice for humans as long as God has apreknowledg
e
of
radians F h' th h "de'
G o d . or 1m, there was only an illusion offreedom on e uman s Sl .
ae ti USescauses to determine the motives which then detennine the human's
Ons:"Theh . " f fr t'"
uman ISacompelled actor in the gutse 0a ee agen .
nd the
l.
ill
Y that
trlier
hiles-
o pro-
fthe
Imic
togyis
date
Stud-
hed
gy.
: law,
....
"', .
T ~
wal
gial
has
bo t,
trae
he 1
pos
onl
at s
mo
sch
the
ph)
my
trae
the
stu
s tOll
ate:
hut
hOI
Cri
tiol
his
cre
wh
vie
ace
we
tht'
au'
fro
po
rer
Cat
off
132 AL-GHAZALi"s PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
Often occasionalism is so closely connected to early Ash'arism that it isal.
most regarded as anecessary constituent of that theology. That, however. is nol
the case. Daniel Gimaret and Richard M. Frank have shown that at no pointin
Ash'arite history did they defend aradical occasionalist position that completely
denies efficacy to created beings." Most early Ash'arites acknowledgedthaI
human decisions trigger their actions even if they are not the only sufficient
cause. When al-Iuwayni says, for instance, that the human is afiril muk~ t iir,
meaning afree agent or afreely choosing efficient cause, he accepted efficient
causation in the case of human acticns.e!
According to al-Shahrastanl, who wrote two generations after him, ~_
Iuwaynl went much further and departed more radically from the cosmologi-
cal axioms of early Ashurism. Following his report of al-luwaynl's view that the
existence of the human act relies on a power-to-act (qudra) on the side of the
human, al-Shahrastani continues that according to al-Iuwayni,
(. , .) the [human] power-to-act relies for its existence on another cause
(sabab). The relationship between the power-to-act to and that cause
is like the relationship between the act and the power-to-act. Simi-
larly, acause relies on [another] cause until it ends with the one who
arranges the causes (musabbib al-asbab) and that is the Creator of the
causes and of their effects (musababat ), who is the Self-sufficient
(al.must ag hni) in the true sense [of that word], For every cause is self.
sufficient inacertain way and it is dependent (muf; t iij) in another way.~l
According to al-Shahrastini', aI-J uwayni' taught that causal efficacy is not lim
. ed th ' fthe
It to e connection between the human's choice and the performance 0
ad. Rather, the human decision is itself determined by certain causes-here he
may have the motives inmind that Fakhr al-Din al-Razi' also mentioned, These
motives are, intum, the effects of other causes, All these causes and effects are
elements in long causal chains that have their starting point in God. Human
act~are prompted by a consecutive succession (t asalsul) of secondary causes,
which go back to their first cause in God. This, al-Shahrastani adds, was dearly
not aposition previously known in the field ofkalam; rather, it was newly intra-
duc~ .byaI-J uwayni. He took it from the teachings of the philosophical ~eta.
phys,oans, al-Shahrastini remarks, ~who hold that causal dependency ISnot
restricted to [the relation betweenJ the human act and the power-to-act, but
rather between everything that comes into being."~l
None of this is expressed in those of al-J uwayni's works that have come
down to us. Yel even in these works, there are dear indications of a chang:
of dir,ection in ~h'arite theology. In his Creal for Ni?am al-Mulk, al-J u~a~
mention,s th~existence of"motives~ (dawa'i) that detennine human amons,
~ready ~nhis Book of Guidance, ai-J UW3yrii had acknowledged that God creates
nght:guldance,(hudii) and error ((lalal) either directly inHis creatures or byco~-
fronting them,lll ~e form of asummons" or "caW (da'wa) that He commum-
~ate~to them Ifi HIS revelation.~ This latter teaching is again more developed
InIllS Crt edfor Ni~ cim al.Mulk:
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM 133
He makes his intelligence perfect,
!fGodwills good for ahuman, f him obstacles, adverse
completes his insight, and remobv:s rohm together with beneficial
. dhi d s He nngs im
incentives an III ranee . f hi { )46
companions, and makes His path easy or im ." d
an to become a believer, He does not ?
Inotherwords, if God wants a h~~, h' h rt but rather He creates condl-
soby creatingthe accident of "belie III IS ean. sary-for the human to
. . l lik I maybe even neces '1
tonsthat make It high y 1 e y--()r, 1 pressing itself 10apure y
h' . th ology ISno onger ex
becomeabeliever, As ante e. h t 1ast inthe case of human
1 b th m one w ere-a e
casionalistcosmo ogy, ut ra er b of secondary causes.
actions-God achieves his desired effect y means
f S dary Causality
Theft ilasifa's View of Creation by Means a econ
, ., d for Nizt im al-Mulk, "where
'We liveat atime," al-J uwayni wntes In~IS cre~ th t se; cannot all be emp-
peopledraw from a sea of principles (u$ul), an. fa the often drastically
. iples derive rom _,
fiedwith ladles.':" These many pnno t of al-J uwaym s
' mtellecrual curren s ,
differentepistemologies of the major m thei tr ditional adversanes,
h A h' it s and err a
ume, There were, of course, t e s an e starkly different. Yet
' theology were hi h theMu'tazilites whose prime concerns 10 f group with w lC
.' the i ing success 0a
mhlstime, al-J uwayni also saw e I~creasl d' the Arab philosophers
earlierAsh'arites had been only margmally concer~: ' nd falsafa during the
(falasifa),The contacts and influence~ between k:
e
:~~ied more closely th~n
fourth/tenthand fifth/eleventh centunes need to h.ch is significantly m-
b d" I account w I
llcan edone in this book. The tra ItlOna .' I-M addima), assumes
fluencedby areport in Ibn Khaldun's Int roduct IOn (a uqr: links between
" h tu there were lew .
Ulat uptothe end of the fifth/elevent cen ry, fi t A h'arite theologIan
"'1 f . .. All yniwasthe rs s _
'\.uoars 0 these two dlsClplmes, - uwa , d t al-Ghazah began a
whowas affected by the works of the faliisifa. HI,S_stuhen, t ok full account of
Ih . - It' kh kh mn) tao _, d
new eologlCalapproach Uanqat a -mu a a Ibn Khaldun, It me _
philosophicallogics, and in doing Muslim theology, says
died with (khalat a) philosophical works,48 Ll Robert Wisnovsky
lb
. 1 ect Recenuy, b
nKhaldun, however, is not entIre y carr ~ ndfalsafa should e pr~-
arguedthat the beginning of the blending of kalam ; th century. As a phl-
dated toAvicenna's activity at the turn of the fifth-Ie ~venM 'tazilite kaJ iim. He
"'h 1 entslll u .
Il)l;()per, Avicenna was well aware of deve opm , th 1gy and tried to gIVe
'~pod d . . db their eo 0 Ia-
n e III hISworks to concerns pose Y a such as reve
"' 1 s phenom
en
k ,oroughphilosophical explanations to re IglOu . na's works mar
ti . W' ovsky AVlcen d..
Onandprophetical miracles, Accordmg to lsn " ripatetic tra lhon
thek., , th N platOnist pe 'Ibn
~glllll1ng of a synthesis between e eo 'f ne maintams
mAtb . 1- 49 But even I 0 f i
a1Cand the tradition of Mushm ka am. f the side 0Sunn
~~dun's perspective and looks at developments only) rCohmazali who first gave
"llIlI ' - d nota - d d
m,ltwas_as far as we know-al-J uwaym an , d who ad resse
detail 't adungs an lk '
edand correct reports of the philosophers e dfi Nizam al-Mu IS
~ehIh k The Cree or .
eories.
so
Whether al-J uwayni's late wor
I
and the
rd.
,~Ir
gy that
earlier
phiJ os-
to pro-
of the
damic
' h
olog y is
) date
c Stud-
shed
ogy.
lie J aw,
"", .
....'"
was j
gian!
hasl
both
lrad~
he hi
post
only
at sn
mon
scho
the (
phyl
mysl
Iradi
the ~
1
stud
stan
ates
hun
how
Cd'
tion
his
e re ;:
whi
vie,
ace f
we,
.he
aut
rro~
po,
re c
car
off
~ -" - ~- >
, ~ >
' 34
AL-GHAZALI's PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
influenced more by Mu'ta T -
another figure neglected ~l;~~ such as_A~u l-Husayn al-Basn (d. 43~/I044)-
edge of Avicenna's hil hv t .!<?aldun s report-c-or by ai-Iuwaynl's kncwl.
evident, though th
P
~~pY ISdifficult to establish at this point." Itis quite
thing distinctly.' at ':1 ~n the context of Ash'arite theology, there is some.
mnovatlve IIIai-J u -, h ' -
ers in the new th I ical waym s sort Creedfor Nt zam al-Mulk. Itush.
eo ogica app h di .
al-J uwayni's students al-Ki a' ~oac !s~ussed b~~bn Khaldun." lbe worksof
show adeep familiarity wi~th l-H~r~a~l, al-Ansdn, and most of all al-Ghazali
forward. efalasifa s teachmgs and the challenges theyput
Causality is at the ve h '.
metaphysics "For ry ea~ of every Aristotelian approach to physics and
. every corruptihl thi "A'
everything OCCUrn" . e mg, vicenna says in his P hysics, "andfor
ng m motion 0 hi
there are existing ca "53 ,r .everyt ingcomposed of matter and form,
natural sciences th lu.ses. Ca~sahty, he adds, is a principle (mabda) of the
. a ISprovenm t h . . ..
physICS is in some w me ap YSlCS.Causality IIIAvicenna's meta-
. ays even more . than i , f
Istotle, the starting p , t f Important an m the metaphysics 0AI-
om 0 many fAvi "
shown that Avicenna' d 0 vicenna s ideas." Robert Wisnovsky has
na s un erstand. f ' '
many ways detennined b the mg 0 causal.It: had been influenced andm
commentaries_written.Y b ~ommentary tradition of Aristotle's works. These
cenna. He did not read e m k
O
Greek and Arabic-were not all available toAvi
. ree and had
tanes of the Alexandri . . no access to many of the early (Ommen
ail
an tradItion Yet h A' ,,-
av able to him helped h' d . ,w at vtcenna gleaned from those booM
. un evelop , ch
mgs that reflected devel . acertam perspective on Aristotle's tea .
th
'nk opments me]' ,
I ers such as Am' ar ler commentaries. Greek Neoplatomst
h d
momus Henn' (ft '
a the most profound 'nfl lae. c. 500) of the school of Alexandria
di
' ctl I uence on A . , H'
sbn y Neoplatonisl' I . vtcenna s understanding of causality. is
A . m erpretation fAn
VKenna not by way of N I . 0 stotle's ideas on causality came to
Arabic. By the time A":' eop atomc treatises that were translated from Greek to
f
' ,cenna crafted hi hil
part 0the overall traditi' f' s P osophy, Neoplatonism had become
A . on 0Aristot l' .
VlCenna, Neoplatonism did e tamsm. To Arabic philosophers such as
but throUgh asieve.55 not COmethrough a funnel, as Wisnovsky put it,
Aristotle had taught tha
eVent, Our different and t ",,:,henwe ask about the Uwhy" of acertain thing or
a sometimes a b'
spects. In the Writings f th . m 19uOUSanswers confirm to oneoffour
stood inone of two waysOe'th e AnstoteJ ians, the Word "cause" can be under
o . I erasso tho
r.r a.s anexplanation of the need r. me mgthat effects or produces the item,
Or l.I:stance, Whythe chiselin t or or function of the thing. When we explain,
proVlde answers that refer ei~ 001knoWn as an adze (qiidum) chisels wood, we
or (2) to the material of wruch
e
: (~)to the specific shape of the tool or its form,
"wh..,." (31b fi . It IS made . tho . '. th
, y re emng to the goal th , lll IScase, Iron; or we explam e
nameJ y chisel' atwewouldlik ch' 'th I
wh ' lng, or, last, (4)b refi . e to a leve by USlllg etoo ,
o has produced the adze 56 AnY' ernng to the agent, that is the craftsman
(I) aformal . stotle said th th '
d
Cause (~ura) (2) a' at e Word "cause" refers to a
an (41 a ffi' ' matenal ca ('
n e Clent caus e (ft i~ Y Use un,wr), (3 ) afinal cause (g haya),
th The Neoplatonist commenta .
e two latter causes, the final anlth~:ra~re on Aristotle focused mainly on
ffiqent ones. Both are external causes,
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM
'35
as,unlikematter and form, they are not constituents of the thing itself. In his
Met aphysics, Aristotle had explained what he saw as aprinciple of being: th~ngs
aredisposed to realize the possibilities with which they have come to exist."
likeanapple seed, which strives to become an apple tree, all beings endeavor
to realizetheir inherent potentials. Humans, for instance, make great efforts
toacquireknowledge and to perfect their intellect. Neoplatonist philoso~hers
cameto understand this Aristotelian principle of energ eia or ent elekhna as
meaningthat everything strives toward its perfection (t eleiot es). They combined
thisideawith the notion of final causality and created a cosmology in which
thingsareranked according to how close their perfect state reaches toward the
finalcauseof all being, which is God. The heavenly intellects, for instance, exist
inastateof perfect rationality. Subsequently, their being is ranked higher th~n
thatofhumans who just strive to perfect their rational intellects. The ce~esb~
intellectsare regarded as more perfect than humans. A more perfect bem~ IS
alsoregarded as more perfect in terms of its existence. A more perfect being
passesthe existence it receives from what is above it in the cosmic hierarchy
downtowhat is below it.
ForAristotelians, every effect is necessary in relation to its efficient cause.
~stence is viewed as downwardly progressing; ahigher efficient cause pas~es
Ittoalesser one. The higher efficient cause is thus responsible for. the eXIst-
~n(eof alower object'9 This does not mean, however, that an effiCient cause
mustexistbefore its effect. Cause and effect coexist in time. The effect cannot
bedelayedonce its sufficient cause exists. The cause necessitates the effect and
~ecedesitonly 4with respect to its attaining existence," but not necessarily in
~e. SinceGod is the only sufficient cause of the world, the world mu~t have
l'XIsted for as long as God has existed.60 God and the world exist for Avtcenna
frometernity.
. Godcauses the world by emanation of the first creation, the intellect of the
~est sphere. From the One, from God, Avicenna proclaims, only one c~ea-
tionproceeds. Creation proceeds in successive steps during whi0 an effiCient
causegIves existence to an effect, which itself becomes the effiCient cause for
thenexteffect.0] Again, there is no temporal priority on the side of the cause
butonlyanontological priority. Viewed as awhole, God can be seen as bo~th~
wodd'sagent and its efficient cause (fill'il), By"agent" or "efficient cause, AVl-
(en " ... lC
61
Tbe
r n.ameans acause that bestows existence WhiCh dlffers from .Itse. . "
elationshipof God to the world is one that Avicenna calls "essential causahty.
~ e~sential cause (ilia dhat iyya) is a sufficient efficient cause, m~aning that
Its eXiste ] f. e c: 6l For AVlcenna, the
I
. nce aone necessitates the existence 0 ItSeuect. .
re alionbetw ' ry. meamng every
een an essential cause and its effect ISnecessa ,
momentth . I 'I
e eSsential cause exists its effect must aso eXIS
A' , th . tprove
.L vlCennapresents in his works two different arguments at aIm 0
lllenee . ft than the sec-
d esslty of causal relations The first is invoked more 0en .
by
0n. Cl~selyconnected with AVi~enna's argument for God's existe~c.e, It ~thartds
arguing th ' 'n be dlshngUis e
&
at III every existent thing the existence ca fi
Om th '. ul tho a horse, or
in. e essence of the thing. The fact that a partic ar mg- " .
~"'tanc"- _. . d' 'd f"a horse ISa
~-eXists III actuality implies that the freestan 109 I ea 0
nd the
d .
air
IY that
arJ ier
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13
6
AL-GHAZALI'S PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
possible existence Being ibl h
must existin tuali S poss~ e, owever, does not also mean that"ahorse'
inany P i ac tty. omething that is byitself possible mayor maynotexist
given moment In0d fi h '
something th t si : , r er or t epossible to be actualized. theremustbe
a gives It existence With d ' ,
around us this thi . regar to agiven object that wewitness
other than'th bs?me mg cannot be the object itself; it must besomething
. e0 ject. Whenever aparti I thi hat I ,
IStS,its existence must b ' cu ar mg t at ISby itself possibleex'
J
on M G' is h ecaused byItSefficient cause (ilia orfa'il),&4
c unus as argued th t l hi
o ryof efficient causali _ _a_.m ISresponse to the philosophicalthe.
but heis ve ty, al Ghazah ISless concerned with this first argument
ry concerned with asecond th .' '
Avicenna's Rescue (al-Na 'at . one at appears m abrief passa?eIII
piece of cotton A d.'J )' AVIc,ennarefers to the example of firebummga
. ' ccor mg to Aristotle' th f 1 'I
10 the ninth book of hi M . s eory 0 power or facu ty (dYllamls
to burn, and cotton h~: ~ : aphys~ cs, firehas the active power (quwwa j e i'iIiyya)
Once the two co t th pass~vepower (quwwa munfa'ila) to bebumed''
me oge er their p hi h
are necessarily actualized' owers, w J C are apart of their natures,
cottonor-in adiff . The fire becomes the "agent" (fa'il) that bums the
rrerent translation f th A bi fth
cotton's combusti I" . 0 e ra ic-c-the "efficient cause"0 e
tio n, becausepo s tula ,t1SImposslble that the firewould not cause thecombus
either firedoes nt hatmgthe opposite would lead to one of two contradictions:
o avethe achv th
passivepower to beburned ' epOwer to burn, or cotton does not have e
acceptedpremise of th . EIther of these assumptions would contradictthe
D
e argument which h '
necanalso saythat ' ' means t e argument ISnecessary.
, accepting the exi t f ' d
activepowers im r th s ence 0natures that have paSSiVe an
pIes at causal relati
Avicenna's views b h ons are necessary.
fr a out oweveryth' th . '.~, /l
omahigher efficie t . Ing at eXIstsreceives its being(WUJ lWJ
A' n cause are Inrna 'd' f 1p- -b-
sa wnter, however, al-F- -b- ny ways I entlcal to those 0 a- araL
how the chains of be ' ara I was much more explicit than Avicennaabout
oh h Ing Work and ab h '
e eavens determ' th. out ow the higher efficient causes In
sophical and astron:~c; eJ a.stenceof lower beings. Based on earlier philo-
areten spheres with th Imodels of cosmology, alParabi taught that there
co ..' e Owestbeing th bl ' d
rruption 10which hum ' e su unar sphere of generabOnan
are in the heavens WI ands,ammals, and plants live. The nine other spheres
Fa-b-' ,appe around . . AI
ra 1s COsmologyrelie one another lIke layers of an omon, .
etarysystem, although ,,'do,nPtolemy's (d. c. 165 ) geocentric model of theplan
ohe s all I Isregards m . ,
, O-c edepicycles F al __ ~ ovements WIthmthe planetary spheres,
Inventionof the te1es~or FarabI, each of the fiveplanets known beforethe
owncl' ope as well as th 'th'
eestial sphere Th e sun and the moon move WIth elr
globeat th . esphere of the rth '
ecenter of thi ea -the sublunar sphere--IS atrUe
theuppe d s system envelo db' N
r en of the visibl' pe y the mne celestial spheres,
~ndthe fiveplanels sits the~I~rse, abovethe spheres of the sun, themoon,
r~~~e extremely sl~w rota~:n of :J :here o~the ,fixedstars. Inorder.to account
. Oncompleted only every eearth s <lXiS around the celestial po le -3
~umolCes-Ptolemy added 25,7 00 years and causing the precession of the
esphere of the fixedstars aThtenthsphere at the outermost end right above
ent speeds th hi ,e celestial h ' , di~
, e gher spher 1 sp eres move in circles WIth uer-
es aways faster than the ones below themas they
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISlAM 137
dragthelowerones with their movement. The outermost sphere moves exactly
atthespeedof onerotation per day," It contains neither aplanet nor any fixed
starsnoranyother visible object. Tothe Arabs, it was known as the "supreme
sphere"(falak al-afliik), or the "sphere of Atlas." Since it is the highest-ranking
movingobject,the Latininterpreters of this planetary system referred to it as
theprimum nwbile, or, the highest moving object.
Eachof the ten spheres in al-Farabi's model of the universe consists of a
material bodyandasoul. The soul is dominated byanintellect that governs the
sphereandcauses its movement. The intellect that governs theprimum mobile
isthehighestcreated being. Beyond it is only the being that causes all this,
thatis,theFirst Principle, of which al-Parabi says, "one should believe this is
God:
6lI
Inthinking itself, al-Parabi's God emanates asingle being, the intellect
thai governstheprimum mobile. God directly acts only upon onebeing, which
isthisparticularintellect. God's oneness prevents Him from acting upon any-
thingelse.What is truly single in all its aspects is unchanging and can only
?aveoneeffect,the highest created being. This is the first intellect that causes,
l~turn, theexistence of its sphere, and it also causes the intellect of the~phere
nghtbelowit, that is, that of the fixed stars. Everycelestial intellect-WIth the
exception ofthe lowest one, the active intellect-is the cause of two things: its
ownsphereand the intellect directly below it. In contrast to the "First Cause,"
which is God, al-Eirabi calls the celestial intellects "secondary causes" (asbab
Ihawalli),69 Godmediates His creative activity through these secondary causes
tothelowestcelestial intellect, the tenth one. This is the activeintellect (al-'aql
~ fa"al).' andit has more than just two effects. It causes the existence ~f a~the
mgsIII thesublunar sphere, all beings onearth.
7 0
Of these tencelestial mte1-
~~Fa- - b- h 'th th 1 " 71
, ra I says, one s ould belIeve eyare eange s.
Avicennaparted ways with al-Farabi's cosmology on such minor issues as
thenumberof spheres and intellects in the lower celestial orbs or whether the
celeStial souls arepurely rational or also have imagination,7 2Yet,v.rithregard to
theprincipleof secondary causality-that is, the fact that Godcreates theworld
: contr,olsit by passing existence along aline of ~econdary c.auses,-~e:~
, no~I~agreement between any of the Arabic philosophers mthe penp
~c tradlhon.Godcreates through the mediation of efficient secondary cause~.
h r. ; ? ~causescannot stand bythemselves but depend onhigher causes for thelI
u:-U% , whicheventually receive their existence from God, Intenn~of any s~e-
~ ~usal connection, the higher efficient cause establishes the eXistenceof Its
Olect III ad' fall dib' are fulfilled for
pre etennmed and necessary way, I con ons
acertain, 'th use and effect
causeto have ItSeffect the connection between eca
mUSt OCCUr and cannot be susp~nded. If fire reaches acotton ball, to use ~~
mostprominent example in Arabic literature on causality, the cotton ball WI
necessarily sta b ' h' If suspend this con-
n . rt unung, Nothing not even God Imse ,can fth
ectionThe" " b' gcondition 0 e
.a ' cause ISboth the necessary and the neceSSl a n
Olect' ' th ssary
co s exIstence,even if ultimately God is the one who creates ISnece
nnecti?nthrough the mediation of many multiple steps of secondary ~uses.
"",InhiSLet t er on t he Secret of P redest inat ion (Risala Ff sirr al-qadar), AVlcen
na
esthat
nd the
d,
nr
lY that
artier
ohilos-
to pro-
ifthe
lamie
h
. Iogy is
date
: Stud-
'hed
>g y,
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gians
has b
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only
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138
AL-GHAZALI'S PHILOSOPHrCAL THEOLOGY
(... ) inthe worldas awh 1 d i
there is nothin . 0ean InIts parts, both upper andearthly,
cause sab b g.WhLC~forms an exception to the fact that Godisthe
edgeo~, a ) of Its ,exIstenceand origination and that Godhas knowl-
1, governs It and 11 it " ,
toH ,WI S1SCorning mto being: it is all subject
IS government It db-) d " '
will." a rrl, etermmatlOn (taqdfr), knowledge, and
Avicennaadds that this i "
wa. /-ziih ir) and tt . s ageneral and superficial statement" ('ala l: iumlll
. , a entive read f hi
together "the ers 0 ISworks understand that herehelumps
upper as well as th rthlv" "
betreated differentl. eea y parts of God's creation, whichareto
edge, and will Th Y WIth respect to God's government, determination, knowl-
spheres which e upper, celestial part of creation consists of thecelestial
. ' are governed bv : II ' ,
non inthe most d I Y inte ects. They exist from past eternity func
or er yway and . ,1.
most perfect kind f ' move Incomplete and permanent circles, we
it is the only indi~d:a~vement. ~ac~sphere is its ownclass of being, ofwhich
lowest sphere co tat . The active tntelleci (al- 'aql alfa "al) that governsthe
nams all clas fb '
below the moon I tb ses 0 emgs that exist within the lowestsphere
. n elowest h h g uI e d
and less pe-fecr than t sp ere, owever, things become less re at
anIII the u Id"
to be and pass . pper war . Beings inthe sublunar spherecome
tb
away. meanmg tb
ecausal chains h ey are corruptible and not pre-eternal. Once
tb
avetraversed th I 'I h
eycreatemulti I . d. . eceestia realm and enter thelowest sp ere,
, di . P e10 ividuals of hI . .. J h '
III ividual traits h' h eac cass of bemg. These llldlV1duas a,e
c: ,WIC areth If 'J
lOrnts of theach' 'II e resu to the contact between the immalena
veIllte ect .th h '
Whenthephilo h Wl P ySlcal matter.
1mbd
' sop ers saytbat G d' th . . 'n'
a a) of the w ld th 0 IS epnnclple or the "stamng-pOiI
g overn this worldo
r
, ey mean that both matter as well as all the rulesthat
are aresult f K
modem deist or ratio I' . 0 ISnature. This is not that different froma
cal naIstVlew fG d h '
and PSYchological 0 0 as the Sumof all laws that governP ySl
~ndall theother domJ ~~~s~es, human ?ehavior, language, rational thinking,
Impersonal view of God. Fora a.redeterm~ne~by rules. This is, of course, avery
g overn God's creatio AVIcenna,thISVIewimplied that only therulesthaI
li narecont d' ,
anunderstanding of ame Inthe divine knowledge In anAnstote-
tial h nature the ! . .'. I,
sp eres and all th ,c asses of beIngs-meanrng the lllnecees
tbeg b esublunar s '
u strates where th peCles Contained in the active intellect-are
touched b 1.:_ ese rules ar t s
. Yare is pan oftb e conserved. How cotton reacts whenI I
IIIthe . eCotton' b ' ed
. uruversal species ~ s nature, that is, the rules that areens no
~ngs,whichare universalco~on." God has foreseen that once the classes ofbe
.o n:n. individuals; but ac and. purely intellectual entities mix with matter, they
indiVidUal H cor mg to A . ' fth e
d
. s. edoes not kn . Vicenna, God has no awareness es
an Ulli ow the di'd aI
<Ii
versa}dasses of be m VI uals; He only "knows" the imm
aten
rect.ly by lr mgs becaus tb ed
th . IS nature. The d . e ey are the ones that are detenm
n
Pie IJ lterplaybetween the m. IVIdualsare also determined byHis nature, since
the
aceabc,cordingto theru1.... utuvehrs~forms and the individuating matter takes
su un '--'> ens nn d . .
God's tu
ar
sphere of genera" e III the universals. But what happens Ul
r na reand tb onand c .. ult 0
IS erefore n t "kn orruphon IStoo mediated ares
o own" to Him.7 4
COSMOLOGY rN EARLY ISLAM 139
Avicennateaches that the divine knowledge cannot contain events inthe
sublunarsphere. There seemed to have been atension in Avicenna's thought
regardingthesecond question of whether God also determines all events inthe
sublonar world, or, alternatively, whether some events in the sublunar world
arerelatedtochance and the haphazard influence from matter. Insome of his
worksatleast, Avicennastresses that there are no arbitrary effects and that the
eventsinthe sublunar sphere are fully determined by God's creative activity.
Thereareno causeless events or substances in this world. The effects of the
celestial causes reach into the sublunar sphere and determine everything that
happensthere." But how, one might ask, can such afully determined worldbe
squaredwith our impression that some future events are contingent onwhat
precedesthem, particularly those events that arethe effects of human actions?
Dohumansnot haveafree will whose effect cannot bedetermined fullybythe
existingcauses?
Al-Ei.riibi was the first Arabic philosopher to address this problem inhis
Comment aryon Arist ot le's De int erpret at ione. In that book's ninth chapter-
thelocus classicus for the discussion of the predetermination of future
contingencies-Aristotle analyzes the meaning of the sentence: "There will be
aseabattletomorrow." This is not astatement that canbetrue and at the same
timefalse.It must be either true or false, even if we cannot saywhich it is."
Inal-Rrabl's discussion of this passage, he stresses that humans inhere~tly
understandthat such anevent is the effect of human freewill: "Weknow nght
f~omthebeginning, from our primordial nature that many things haveapas
slbilityofOccurringand of not occurring, above all, those weknow tobeleft to
o Ur choiceand will."7 7 Afew pages later, al-Farabi brings awell-known argu-
m.entfromMu'tazilite theology that aims to prove the existence of human ~ree
will: ifallfutureevents were predetermined, human freewill and deliberatIo~
wO~dbevoid,and thus whatever punishment were tobefall humans for_th_el~
aClIons wouldbeunjust. This denial of free will not only is absurd, aIFarabl
ar~~s,butalsoit damages severely the social and political purp~s~of revea~ed
rehglOn.
7 11
It seems that here al-Farab! adopts the Mu'tazilite pOSItIon,denymg
afully determined future and the possibility of divine foreknowledge of future
events, Now,however, he raises another theological concern that also r~s~ts
fromhis position about the social and political function of revealed rehgIOn.
T h~mo:al order in a state is upheld by the people's belief that. God knOw~
thelIactionsand that He will reward them for right ones and pUnIshthem fo
'Ntong. Saying,however that the future existence of acertainevent is unknown
IoCodd . d' ' . I'd altahsi!)ofafu-
eOles Ivmeomniscience. The indefimteness a am - .. f
lure poss'b'l - _ . b kn ledgebecause 0
I Ilty, al-Farab! says exists only III our uman ow .
OUr minds'deficiencies Attributing similar deficiencies to Godwould bede:-
~~ tothepublic be~efit of religion?9 Once humans no longer assu~~ t at
ti
IS omniscient, al-Farabi implies, they loose respect for the moralllnJ unc-
Onsandth I " 'f I ti nand no ong
er
t e egallmposltions that are denved rom revea 0
learGod' .
s PUllIshment for violating these rules. -n
his lbedilemma al-Farabi finds himselfin is the same as that.ofal-J ~wa~~~s
Creedfor Ni:; iim al-Mulk. How can we saythat humans deCIdethen aclJ
ad the
I.
ill
y that
trlier
hiles-
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14 AL-GHAZALi's PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
fr;~lbwhileGodh~s aforeknowledge of all future events? Al-Parabi's solution
Po 1ec_o~e_very Important for al-Chazall, and we must examineit closely,
he-a-Parabj, some future contingencies are the result of human freewill, but
t eyarealsoforeknown b G d AI F- jibi -
tr
di - b yo. - ara 1 tnes toreconcile this apparentron-
a rctton ydistinguish" b tw - -
. . mg e een two types of necessrues namely 'necs
srty InIts If" (d - ~ . . ' ,
I h
"e .arum J > nafs~ hL) and "necessity from something else"(dan/rot
a -s ay an ai-shay') F to . " .
ifth b ." u recontmgencies are not necessary bythemselves, yet
I ey ecome existent th f _ -.,
, eyare necessary rom something else meanmgLlley
arenecessary byvirtu f h - '
eo t eir causes. If God knows that Zaydwill setouton
aJ ourneytomorrow to f I - abi' -
-I I .w use one 0 a-Fara 1s examples then Zaydwill neres
san ytrave tomorrow T h' ' . .
cas G d' , . e event ISnecessary due to something else,tn this
e, 0 s creative acti ity th 'r:". d If
the
- I VI at mamrests Itself in God's foreknowlege.
event IS ooked at II b - -
neces b so ey yItself, however, Zayd's decision totravelIS Dol
sary ut merely possibl - - -II - -
tra I D' . 1 e. as It ISsti within Zayd's power (qudra) notto
vet. rvine foreknowl d d bili
toactdiff tl f e ge oes not remove human free will or thea1 ty
travel b
l
cerenhY ro mwhat is foreknown. Although God knows that Zaydwill
elore e does so H- k I --I- f
Zayd t . ' IS now edge does not exclude the posslbllty0
s aymgat home It' .
distingu- h- b . J ust excludes that this possibility will bereahzed.By
1Smg etween th . .
that (,) h h esetwotypes of necessity, al-F.irab!tries tomamtalll
umans avethe . th -
acts and to h b capaCIty (qudra) to perform or not to perfonn elr
c oose etwee th - - d del
foreknowled fth fu n ese optIons while (2) God also has a eta
geo e tut Gd- d - H
foreknowled I e, 0 J U ges over human acts notaccordmgto IS
ge, a-Farabl s b - aI
God's foreknowl d ays, ut IIIterms of the choices that humans m e,
of choiceand' e ge, therefore, does not deprive humans from their freedom
Al-Fatab-,ISd
n
.
ot
.contrary to justice.
80
. I s ISbnction betw th . .,. dan
unportant dey I een ese two types of necessity Imbale
eopmentinA b' h- I '
Avicennawas f ra lC p Ilosophy as well as in Muslimtheaogy,
one 0 the fi IS
are ~possibleb' rst to adopt the distinction that all createdeven
virtue of someth
Y
:n
rtue
l
of themselves" (mumkin bi-naI; . ih i) and "necessaryby
. mg ese" I~"b b' . , ~p . f
their causes Thi d" .waJ! ~ -g haynh~ ), meaning necessary byVIrtue0
. s lstinet:l . . n
whichthewholeed"fi on ISacornerstone of Avicennan metaphysICS0
however, did not fo~o~O~h~~,?~d rel~tes to His creation is built.
Sl
Avicenn
a
,
freewill. Ukeal'N -b- al Farabl Intaking up the cudgel on behalf ofhurn
an
events, includin ~a I, he opted for afully determined universe inwhichall
al~Farabi,howev~r ~n:'an actions, are fully predetermined by God.
s
; unlike
Zayd's I-OurneyTh' . VIcennadid not assume that God knows such eventsas
th . eunpact th th . .
esublunar spher f at eUllIversal celestial causes haveonmatterIII
kn leo generati d divine
,owedge. ForAvicenna .onan corruption are not all part of the
epistemolOgicalfacultyt~GodIs.a
n
.i~tellectand has no body. Hethus lacks.th
e
such as sensepercepti grasp tndlvldual objects. In humans, these faeulbe5,
Ibebody B " onor the faculty f' . . ected to
th " emgpureintell ,0 unagmahon, are closelyconn
Za
e
uruv~rsaI concept of a~ct, God~knowledge contains only universalS.ThUS
f
it/~vmg all theessential =~ISpart of God's knowledge, as is thef~ct~.
knows these tho utes of ahuman such as asoul and rabon
accidental attributes of ~sd ~cause they are the effect of His knowledge. me
y, owever, cannot be part of God's knowledgeon
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM 141
account of thefact that He is pure intellect. B-1 Whether Zaydtravels tomorrow
is thereforenot part of the divine knowledge. God also lacks the knowledge of
whether Zaydever committed asin.
Avicennawas not particularly forthcoming about this element of his teach-
ing , andthereis acertain degree of obfuscation in his writings about God's
ignoranceof the accidents. Avicenna rarely speaks of the "collisions" (mu~-
adamat ) inthe sublunar sphere, and he tries to givethe impression that ade-
tailedknowledgeof events in this sphere is, in fact, possible." Humans, for
instance, wouldbeabletoknow the future if they knew all the temporal events
onearthandinheaven, including the natures of the things that are involved.S6
Onceoneknows all the causes in one moment, one would be ableto deduce
theeffectsof the next moment and predict the future. The souls of the heav-
enly bodieshavesuch perfect knowledge, and they can reveal it, for instance,
totheprophets." Humans and celestial spheres are composed of intellects as
well asbodiesand therefore have in their souls the faculties toknow accidents.
Thedivineknowledge, incontrast, is pure intellect and contains only univer.sal
principles. God'sknowledge is asingle one (wa~ id); it is changeless and out~lde
oftime,IIdoesnot consist of individual cognitions ('ulUm} that refer tomultIple
objects. Individual events are part of God's knowledge only insofar as they re-
sultdirectlyfromprinciples, such as the celestial rotations, for instance, or the
eclipseof onecelestial body by another.88Avicenna admits indirectly that God
~ot knowthe accidents in the sublunar sphere: he says that both the celes-
lialsoulsas wellas "that which is above them" (mafawqaha) haveknowledge of
theparticulars(aljuz'iyyiit ). However, that which is abovethe celestial souls-
meaningGod-he adds, "knows the particulars only inauniversal way."89
Thefalasifa's View That This World Is Necessary
According to al-Farab!and Avicenna, everything in this world is, ~rst o~a~,
de.termined by its proximate efficient cause, which is acreated bemg wtthlO
thisWold Th- - - th as in the case
r. 1S proXImate effiCIent cause-----or ese causes, .
ofth~birthof ahuman at which more than one proximate efficient ca~se IS
required_isitself detennined by other efficient causes and so on, unbl the
causal chains are eventually traced back to their divine origin. The secondary
causesha - th e,'vethese powers
fr veachveand passive powers only because eyrec . 1
OmGod,whois the absolute efficient cause of everything other than ~un. ~
createdtho d th - - t for then acbve
lUgs epend necessarily on God for elr eX1Sence,
andpas - t d
SIVepowers, and for the specific way how they are creae . "
Inthet h- - d ct of God's necesslty,
eac mgs of Avicenna there bes asecon aspe gh
One much ' . f' Avicennatau t
tha more problematic from atheological pomt 0VIew. hich
tthecreationof the world has its starting point inGod's knowledge, v:
:Y be viewedas theblueprint of His creation. God's knowledge is, accor~~o
p<.~nn~, anaspect of the divine essence, and as such it does not change. 'thi s
-"';lIcel t I - b di .. rchangeM n
<~ s otaUllityand itis not possible for there to e VISIOn a ..
.... rnethinth . ' . . chall nges the poslnon
g at IStotally unified in its nature. This VIew e
-td the
I-
ur
y that
trlier
hiles-
o pro -
fthe
smic
lo g yis
date
Stud-
bed
gr.
e law,
'"'
.....
The Mj
was on<
gians at
has be
both WI
traditi
he held
po s t in
only to
at smaV
money.
scholar]
the eha
phy to C
mystid
traditio
the S UI1
Thil
study 01
standin
ates lhi
human
how tht
G tiffe ll
Honalv
his mOl
treatiol
which I
'J iews c
a co rd
we .re w
theolOf
author
from.
por.arit
recon
.;, Irtt'r
offe...
142 AL -G HAZAL f'S
PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
that God's creative activi .
that God has ikht iy- ty Involves free choice. Although Avicennamaintainlll
tw ar, aterm usuaf d d
een alternatives h y un erstoc as referring toafreechoiceIf.
, enever explained hat h
maysunnisethath' . wna emeantbyit,andacriticallflOO:
b h e slmply wished t th
yanyt ing outside fH" 0say at God's actions are notdetermined
at 0 ISessence h . th
e caused by mon fi' ,sue as 10 e case of human actionsthlI
fi . Yes, or Instance 90F ..
rom readIng the' . rom reading Avicenna-cand n, rti~I ....
ch reactions to A . F
uClll4I
'j
oose between creati b VIcenna-it becomes dear that his G o d cannct
ing ayellow one Th bnl
g
ahlue heaven, for instance, and the alternativeofcreal
kn .eueea .
oWledg e. Cod's k I .ven ISnecessary SInce that is what is partofGOO'5
Th
now edge ISunch bl b
ese elements angea e, ut it is also perfect.
pro~d:nce ('inaya ila~ ~ r: e toge~her in th~ philosopher's teaching ondiline
t anbIMt ), Avicenna e WI')' In hiS book P oint ers and Reminders (al-IsJ uiriit ll'll4.
a xpamsthatd'"
spects that are incl d d . tvineprovidence is the combinationoftbrei'
kno Idue m Cod's kid U
We ge accounts f nowe ge. The first aspect is thatuwl
edge arranges everyth~r e~erything there is. The second is that God'sknoI\~
{ahsan al-nizam.j Th lh
n
.
g
Inanecessary way so that it follows the bestOldel
Cod H' . . e t Ird aspe t' h . .
anself, since th . c ISt at thiS necessity of creatlOncomesfro m
knowled . e necessity of th Id' ... ed c.,
ge. This mea h e wor s order ISItself mcJ ud Invw
S
any diffi ns t at God's kid
erent from wh '. nOwe ge itself is necessary andcann",
peets, that (r) Cod's knat litIS. In Avicenna, the combination of thesethreea>-
aneces ow edge is th ' "
of ~ary.order, and (Cod' e creat~r of everything, (2) everythmg
15lD
creation Inwhich noR. s knowledge Itself is necessary, leads toaconcept
The existi . mg can be different from the way it is:
91
. ng thmgs corr
~cCordJ ng to the b espond to the objects of Cod's knowledge
mg t est order ('al- h .
Inention on th.d a a. san al-nlzamJ ~ wit hout amobvat
~" e&e~th .
a smng somethin . T h e ~Irst Being (... ) and without Him
thrrange the existengc r
Us
, the First Being's knowledge of how tobest
egOOdand of eve:rl-~' everything is the source of the emanation of
A
<,ullng 92
ccordin
g
to th _ , .
intention (gha efaIasifa, Cod has . __
tion to rod ra4) ?resentwhen Iino goal (qa~ d), pursuit (t alab), desrre(ar.:ll), ~
Would~tr Ucethings, He Would ecreates.
93
If God's actions followed anyU1~
the perfectoduce multiplicity to theac~~or something that is not Himself. \\oW
thefalasifi ' gOOd creates be e a . d1VIneessence. Cod is the perfect good,~
feet gOOd ~s COSmology is tha~s: ~t has to do so. One underlying principle III
but rathe erefore has to cre t ~Ingis always better than nonbeing. l1Ie pe r'
f
r according ae; It does . cb_
o thefi"lo:_;r, to what' not create according to what It
.. ...: .-~ a's . ISnece li tiod
and that Cod' View that everyth. ssary as the best creation. The imp ca
will that enab~kno;Vledge itself' mg fonows necessarily from God's kno~
ph.i!OSophers ~.Hun to chOOse1~DE'{:essaryis that God does not havethesort
tory WOrkOn hil
J Ined
that there . etwe~n alternative creations. Nevertheless, tilt
~,heargue: h osophy, Avicen~a7 "~on Cod's part. In his Persian intJ '(ld;
HISnature If' as knOWledge(e ta a.
c
aIms that we must ascribe awill to
say that th~on~has knowledg "fISh) of the fact that everything emanateS froID
actions ar eo one's ,.....;-_ ......
eonly th a...uons. Avicenna argues, oneG ll.......
eresultof ' f cb'
one s nature. The existence 0 su
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM 143
knowledgeonGod's part leads Avicenna to conclude that Cod does not solely act
outofHis nature and has indeed some kind of will (kh
W
iist ).94 Inhis doxographic
reportof philosophical teachings, The Int ent ions of t he P hiwsophers (Maqli$id oi-
falasifa), al-Chazali distinguishes these two ways of creation: creation through
one'snature and creation by one's will. Here he reports the position of the phi-
losophersthat wherever there is knowledge of the action, there is will:
Onecanbe an agent in two ways, either by pure nature or byawill.
Anaction is out of pure nature if it is without knowledge of either
what is done or of the doing itself. All actions that involve aknowl-
edgeof the act of doing involve awill."
Thefalasifa therefore maintain that there is some kind of awill on the part of
God, evenif there is no decision about the action. These they implicitly admit:
theGodof thefalasifa has no free choice in what to create, and in His crea-
tionHedoes not choose between alternatives. For the faliisifa, Cod creates out
ofthenecessity of His being. God is the one being that is necessary by vir-
hieof Himself (wajib al-wujad bi-dhat ihi), and everything about Him is neces-
~. Avicennawrites that the First Principle is necessary in all its aspects (min
J amiJ ihat ihi).96This entails that Cod's actions follow from Him with necessity.
God is the Source of the necessity that turns everything that exists in itself as a
sheercontingency into actuality. As such, Cod cannot himself be contingent,
andHis actions cannot have an element of possibility within them. In aletter
to,oneof his contemporaries, Avicenna sums up his teachings on the predeter
nunationof all events, on Cod creating without pursuing agoal or adesire, and
onthisworld being the necessary result of Cod's essence:
Pre.determination (al-qadar) is the existence of reasons ('ilal) an~
cau.ses(asbab) and their harmonization (ittisiiq) in accordance With
their arrangement (t udbt r) and their order (ni; am), leading to the
results (ma'lulat ) and effects (musabbabat ). This is what is necessi-
~ted (mujab) by the decree (al-qaqa') and what follows from it. Th:re
~noUwhy"(Iimiyyu) for the action of the Creator because His action
IS dueto (Ii.) His essence and not due to amotive (dii'in) that would
motivateHim to do something, (... )
_uThe Decree" (al-qa4ti') is God's foreknowledge (siibiq 'ilm .
';llah) from which that which is determined (al_muqaddar) denves
(Itlba'ashat ). Every existent whose existence comes about through a
smal.letnumber of intermediaries (bi-wasa'it aqall) is of an existence
that ISstronger (aqwa) [than the one that comes about through a
greater number of intermediaries].97
AI-G haZiIT 6
I S reatment of Causality in MS London, Or. 3
12
~ Incoherence of t he P hilosophers is the first work in which al-Chaziili presen~
oWnide b .. '" will see that hiS
as a out fundamental cosmological Issues ..... e
rd the
II
that
rlier
hiles-
D pro -
"the
Imic
o g yis
:bt~
Stud
he<!
gy.
=l.aw,
....
was
gian
has
bot
trad
he h
post
on!
ats9
m0'1
scho
the I
phy t
mysl
trad i
the ~
1
stud
stan,
ates
hum
h ow
Grif
tion,
his I
erea
whi.
vie"
i1CCC
we.rt
tlle(
aud
fror
por:
r ec <
cart
offe
.... ---- ~-- I
., , . ...
144 AL-GHAZhi's PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
treatment of causality i th ..
b . 10 eseventeenth discussion of that book is-despiteits
j
reVIty---:-~o comprehensive that he hardly needed to add anything duringhis
ater writings We will I fi d h . .
. . aso n t at m hIS later writings, al-Chazali stressed
certain aspects of what h lui . hi
epas ates in t IS chapter over others. Theseaspects
are not always the sam d i diff
AI
. e, an m merent works he stresses different aspects.
most everything that he "lit h l . . .
h
WI eac at er Inhis hfe on the subject of causality,
owever, has already b down t
There l een put own IIIthe seventeenth chapter of theIllCOker
enee. ere ISno not bl d I . .
A' a e eve opment of hIS VIews on causality.
nearlier level of al Gh T ' '. . .1.
textofa Lo d " aza.1 s occupation with causality is preservedIIIwe
efforts t n onmthanuscnpt. This text, whose title is lost. represents al-Chazali's
o report e teach' fth hil
Unlike hi ch mgs 0 e p t osophers rather than to refutethem.
almost lust, I better known Int ent ions of t he P hilosophers, here, al-Ghazali
excusrve y quotes f hil hi .
their teachi . hi rom p t osop icai works rather than paraphrasmg
al-Chazalj worked 1Sown words. The book was written in the same periodthat
an works on the j h . '
The text fth Lo d nco erence, or at least shortly after its publication.
oenonm'all hi
cal subJ ect d hi anuscnpt ows us to reconstruct which philosop .
san W ichworks ttr t d h .
The t xt f th a ac e ISmterest during this period.
e a e London . f"
fi
a1aSJ i!ia's t ch' manuscnpt contains avery thorough report 0 we
ea mgs on ca l'ty I h d
veloping a u ul usa I . n ISautobiography, al-Ghazali says that e-
me c Ousunde t d f . . .
tant prer"'q . t rs an lOgo the adversary's teachmgs ISanIrnpar
'- UlSI e to proper! d .
is not achieved b' Y resp~n mg to false teachings. Aproper refutalJ .On
ous unsystom ti' y sunply answenng the adversaries' accusations with num
er

'- a C counterar rt
(
hikt iva) of th d . guments. Rather, one must give athorough repa
-'1 e a versan 't ch" .
teaching that th d e~ ea mgs,98 IdentifY the key element in one's Qvm
. e a versanes de d . I J bor
mqiliib) by showin that ny, an turnthIS element agamst them qa . "
The Londo g. they cannot uphold their own teachings without It.
n manuscnpt d t j . f
cauSality '00Th . evo es amost one-fifth of its text to the subject 0
. e matenal al Gh -r . ally
more than what A . - aza I presents on these pages is propom
on
.
of his Healing (al_~~~a ;ote o~~is subject in the section on metaphysl~
metaphysics in th H )'. -~hazah uses all these passages from Avicen
nas
ing them.IOI In th e callng , eIther copying them into his book or paraph
ras
,
f
ese passages A . . . k"...p<;
o causes. The finI d ,vtcenna mtroduces the four Aristotelian '1t '~ -
a an the effi . ug h
treatment. Clent cause are singled out for more thoro
Avicenna presents th
types of causes ca ear~ment that no causal series from any of thefour
, n regress d fi . ' flc-
must have three Ine llitely.102Every series of causes and e n'"
element. The last ~f;npon~nts: a first element, a middle element, and aIast
of any caUsal cham' .menlt IS solely an effect and not acause. The first element
th ellIS so ely a c _..hinl!
at 10 OWsafter it Th . ause and not an effect and causes eveIJ U"'''
the effect of the fu.st. ~~~d.le element is the cause for the last one and also
of ~ththe middJ e elem rst element is the absolute cause ('illa mulUu/D)
an Intermediary" (bi- ent and the last. It causes these two either ~through
chain . mut awassat "') I fthe
f -or wtthout it.101 Looki . -name y another middle element 0
o .the causes-(lanah,-IPlaJ I ng at achain of efficient causes the ~finiteness
exist '1 serv fi ' .... _~,
ence. Tracing back. all ffi . e.s OrAvicenna as the basis of aproof of lfUU s
e Gent causes in the universe will lead to afirst ef
COSMOLOGY IN EARLY ISLAM 145
fident cause, which is itself uncaused. When the First Cause is also shown to
be incorporeal and one in number, we have achieved aproof of the deity.l04
Whileparaphrasing or copying these teachings verbatim from the metaphys-
icsof Avicenna's Healing , al-Chazali adds material from other non-Avicennan
sources, as well as occasionally adding his own original comments.!" These pas-
sges arenot meant to criticize Avicenna's approach but rather to explain the
philosopher'steachings and make them more accessible to readers not trained
inphilosophy.Inthe following passage, for instance, he encourages his readers
toreflectonthefalasifa's understanding of causes and to compare them with the
wayweusewords such as "cause" in ordinary language:
Itmay appear to some weak minds (awh am) that the connection be-
tweenthe thing that we call "an efficient cause," (j a'il) with the thing
thatwecall "caused by it" (munfa'i/) or "an efficient effect" (mafu/) is
ofthesame kind of meaning when the ordinary people (al-'amma)
nameit "that what is made" (al-maful) and "the maker" (alfa'il).
Theformer kind [of meaning] is that the [efficient cause] generates,
andproduces, and makes, while the [efficient effect] is generated, is
produced, and is made. All this goes back to the fact that one thing
attains (~ asala) existence from another thing. \06
~en thefaliisifa use the word "efficient cause" (fli'il), they mean something
~fferentfrom what we in our ordinary language mean when we u~e the word
maker"lfifil). In many instances this meaning is the same, as IIIthe case
oftheadze, for instance, in which case its maker, the workman, is also one
o f its efficient causes. AI-Ghazali explains, however, that sometimes we use
wor~ssuch as "he makes" (fa'a/a), "he produces" (~ ana'a), or "he generates"
(alljada) inorder to express aspects that belong to the final cause (g har(4) and
nOItheefficient one. Al-Ghazali neglects to discuss this in more detail, but
whath . jk "Th d ctor
e seems to have in mind is when we say somethlllg 1 e, e 0
~~s the patient take the medicine," or "The teacher generates knowledge
mhis students." These sentences are ambiguous as to the efficient causes of
:: acti~ns, and both doctor and teacher are more part of the final cause than
Ar e~Clent one. Al-Ghazali wishes to stress that the philosophical u~age of the
. ablC:-V0rdfa'if knows no such ambiguities. It means "that one dung comes
mlo 'oemg aft b . "
I .. er non- emg by means of acause. .' c-
on~"~. addition to such clarifications, al-Ghazali stresses IIIhiS report the se
fro -"1 nature of causality more than Avicenna did. He chooses two passages
c:theworks of al-Farabi that are explicit about the way cause~proceed from
and. ~e effects are mediated through the intermediary causes III the heavens
m~~ve atthe sublunar sphere of coming-to-be and passin?:w_~ythrough ~~
orb
tionof the active intellect Al-Ghazali reproduces al-Farabt s explanan
OW"!h' . fthe
..... e First, which is God is the proximate cause of the eXIstence a h
",-,-onda ' 'd d .' suc
..d . rycauses and of the active intellect. "107 Avicenna avO!e gIVIng
etail d I F- -b- h was
un e aCCOuntabout the celestial causes because unlike a- ara I, e al
C~u:e_abouttheir precise number and other matters of detail. In his report, .
lah prefe dd ther account from
rs outspokenness over precision. He a sana
ndthe
j .
ur
:y that
arlier
sbilcs-
to pro-
fthe
amic
h
logy is
date
, Stud-
:he<!
'8)',
klaw,
-
...., .
was
gia
has
~r:~
~:s1
onl~
at 5 1!
mon
scho
the t
phy
mys '
trad
the:
1
stud
stan
ates
h Ui t
ho w
Crif
tion:
his I
(rea
whic
vie v.
3( ( 0
wen
thee
auth
fron
PO"
rtCo
co,.,
o ff.,
'1.~.-.-- t
146 AL-GHAZALr's PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY
the works of al-Farabi on how the second cause, which is the first intellect.em.
anates from the First Cause. This chapter also explains how through aprcces-
sianof secondary causes-each of them an intellect residing inthespheresof
Atlas, of the zodiac, of Saturn, J upiter, Mars, the sun, Venus, Mercury, andthe
moon-the activeintellect is reached. At this point, al-Ghazali returns tothe
Avicennan perspective and identifies the active intellect as the "giver of Coons'
(wahib aJ-? ,uwar) of the sublunar sphere. An interesting detail inthis reportis
aseemingly minor change of terminology. In the original, al-Eirabl refersto
the spheres with the Arabic word kura. Al-Chazall replaces it throughoutthe
whole passagewith the wordfalak, which has the same technical meaning."
Unlike.kura, however,J alak appears in two verses of the Quran (21:33- 3 6:40),
where.It.refers to the spheres in which the celestial objects swim. Readersin
the.:e~lg!?USscienc~s are familiar withfalak, and using this word mightmake
al-Farabl s explanation of the heavens more acceptable to them.
Overall, al~~hazali tried to make philosophical cosmology moreapproach ..
ableto the rehglOusly trained reader. Later. in his Revival of t he Relig ious S CI'
ences al-Gh -U - h - - 1-
, . aza wntes t at it ISnot contrary to the religious law for aMus rm
tobelieve~at ~e celestial objects are compelled by God's command toad as
~uses (asbab) IIIaccord with His wisdom. It is forbidden, however, toassume
at thestars would bebythemselves the efficient causes (fifila) of theireffects,
an~that there. would not be abeing that governs (yudabbir) over all of them.
;::s assu:nption. would be considered unbelief (kufr).109 Here, in his report
the philosophICalteachings of metaphysics, al-Chazali makes surethai the
readers understand th d - - I- N [the
. esecoa ary nature of philosophical causa ity. one
Intellects that reside - th 1 - - - fIi - use
In eten ceestial spheres 1San ultimate e oent (a .
Eachone of them' d db God
Al Gh - - ISasecon ary cause and anintermediary employe Y .
- azali reproduces adistinctly Avicennan position of causality andadds
some of the more d +"':1 d -b 1.nwOllj1
[
aI
- - -, eu e accounts of the secondary causes (asba trlU 'I
rom Farabt s works.
6
TheSeventeenth
Discussion of
The Incoherence of
t he P hilosophers
Theseventeenth discussion of al-Ohazali's Incoherence of t he
P hilosophers has become famous for its criticism of causality. When
SolomonMunk. the first Western analyst of the Incohere~ ce, readathe
seventeenthdiscussion he understood al-Chazall as saying that the
philosophers' theory ofcausality is false, and that they are not right
whenthey deny that things can happen contrary to what they call the
lawof nature and contrary to what happens habit uall}'.~ l For Munk,
this was anexpression of al-Ghazali's skepticism, which simply f
d - d - - - h -d orld For students 0
erne the existence of causality int eOUtSIe w .
h
- di . f the buoher-
p ilosophyand theology, the seventeenth ISCUSSlon0 ...
h
- - d t .ntelligent cnbosm
t nee as become alocus class~ cus for pIOUSan ye 1 .
oftheexistence of causal connection. The mistaken under~tandl~~
thathereat-Ghazali denies the existence of causal connecbons sb
persists today. Michael E. Marmura, for instance, goes as far a~say-
ingthat for al-Ghazali, "the Aristotelian theory of natural effiCient
causationis false."2
A h d
. nshows however,
closereading of the seventeent lSCUSSlO 'th' t
thatonits two dozen or so pages, al-Ghazali does not deny ee~sl-
f I
-ty and hecertalll Y
enceof causal connections-and thus 0 causa 1 - . 1
d - 1 alionof physlca
oes not argue that efficient causalIty as anexp an .' .
ch - - h d .nthiSdISCUSSIOn
ange1Sfalse. Among the many thmgs e oes 1 .' 1 [
- - 1 gical pnnClp ea
ISopenways to uphold causality as an epIsternO0 th
th . . .tt dwhether ose
enatural SCIences while remammg uncornml e
th- - th-' truly haveefficacyon
tngs In ISworld that we regard as causes th
th - h r the seventeen
elt aSsumed effects. More important, oweve, . . the
diSCUSSion is acriticism of Avicenna's necessariams
m
, ~aedt IS, d
po - - h -Iy deterrrun an
Sinont at events in this world are necessan
couldnot beany different from what they are.
nd the
d_
su
:y that
artier
shtlcs-
to pro-
fthe
amic
h
"ogy is
date
: Stud-
thed
>gy,
Iclaw,
.....
. . . . . , .