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Essence (Wujud) and Existence (Mahiyat):

First we need to make a distinction between Existence (wujud) and Essence

(mahiyat), where existence is the answer to the question Is it? and essence is the
answer to the question what is it?, essence is the definition of a thing, something
without which that thing will not be what it is. Essence is merely a mental notion or
concept with no reality or actuality in the external world. In Hikmat-e-ilahia it is
believed that existence is a self-evident (badihi) concept and therefore is not in
need of any proof. All contingent beings (mumkin al wujud) are composites
(murakkab) of existence and an essence, however this composition is merely
conceptual or mental.
Wujud-e-Kharij and Wujud-e-Dhehni:
Wujud-e-Kharij may also be referred to as Actual Being because it is this kind of
existence that has reality in the external world. It is also called Wujud-e-Aini. It is
perceivable or sensible. It is never devoid of its concomitants of existence (lawazim
al wujud), in other words, actual being is never without its consequent effects
(athrat). For instance an actual fire that exists in the external reality produces heat
and causes a burning sensation, and is never devoid of these effects of its being.
Similarly water found in the external world possesses actuality and is therefore
never devoid of its existential effects (athar-e-wujud) such as wetness, or its
ability to quench thirst.
Wujud-e-Dhehni may be referred to as conceptual being or mental existence. It is
nothing but a mental notion or concept, that is not perceivable or sensible. It has no
reality in the external world, and is not accompanied by the concomitants of its
being, that is it is devoid of its existential effects or consequents. For instance the
fire that exists in my mind is merely conceptual in nature and is devoid of any
actuality, such that it produces no heat and does not cause any burning sensation.
Similarly conceptual water that is to be found in the mind is devoid of its existential
effects or concomitants of its being such as wetness and the ability to satisfy
thirst, it matters not if we drink gallons of this conceptual water, our thirst would
remain unfulfilled, it matters not for how long we remain submerged in this
conceptual water our body would remain dry.
Primacy of Essence or Asalat al Mahiya:
The doctrine according to which essence has fundamentality over existence, such
that the notion of existence depends on essence and therefore does not have any
independent reality of its own, and what has reality is the essence of a thing and
not its existence, therefore according to this idea it is the essences that are Real
(haqiqa) as opposed to existence, and the idea of existence is abstracted from
Primacy of Existence or Asalat al Wujud:

The doctrine or notion according to which it is existence that has fundamentality

over essence, such that the essence of a thing depends on its existence and is
abstracted from it, and not the other way round. Existence is independent of
essences. According to this idea that which is real and has reality in the external
world is existence and not essences. This is due to the fact that when we perceive a
thing in the external reality so we do not perceive its essence and its existence as
two distinct and separate things, but instead we only observe a single reality i.e its
existence. Essences are merely a mental notion or concept with no actuality or
reality in the external world, whereas it is existence that possesses actuality
(waqiyat) and reality (haqiqat), and essence is abstracted from it. The existence of a
thing or its actual being is never without its existential concomitants or its
consequent effects, e.g an actual fire in the external reality would never be found
lacking heat or the ability to burn, or water in actuality would never be devoid of its
characteristic wetness, whereas the essence of fire or water in the mind which is a
mental idea or concept will be devoid of its existential concomitants or consequent
effects. Secondly the conceptualization of an essence in the mind does not
necessitate its existence, and the essence continues to remain a mental concept
devoid of any extension in reality, for instance the mind may think of an essence,
such as a flying horse, but merely conceptualizing this essence does not necessitate
its actual existence. It could be argued that if essences are dependent upon
existence and abstracted from it, so how can the mind conceptualize the essence of
a flying horse, a notion that lacks a corresponding instance in the external reality,
well in reply to this objection we respond by stating that the essence of a flying
horse is a composite notion consisting of two distinct and separate simple ideas
joined together through the mental process of combination, namely the idea of a
horse and that of a bird, both of which are found in the external reality and possess
actual being or existence, therefore the essence of a flying horse is abstracted from
two distinct and separate instances of existence. Similarly no essence can be
formed concerning an object or thing the existence of which has not been
experienced or sensibly perceived, for instance a blind man who has never
experienced or felt fire can have no idea of the essence of fire prior to experiencing
or sensing its reality or existence, even if its explained to him that a fire is an
existent that burns, produces heat and appears yellow in color these words would
be without any meaning for him. It is only after experiencing the actuality and the
reality of fire that he will be able to conceptualize its essence through abstraction,
this therefore establishes the fact that essence is dependent upon existence,
whereas existence is independent of essence. Therefore that which has reality or
actuality is existence, in fact reality (haqiqat) is synonymous with existence (wujud),
and to say that a thing exists is to say that it is real.
Haqiqat al Wahida Mushakika:
The doctrine of the Primacy of Being or Asalat al Wujud establishes existence as a
fundamental reality (haqiqa) that possesses actuality (waqiat). Existence is a single

reality that is universal amongst all existents or things, it is something that is

common to all that exists, a feature shared by all beings or things. For instance
consider a stone, a tree, a bird and a man, that which is common to all these
different existents is existence, therefore existence is something that unites or
brings together different things and is something universally shared by all, animate
and inanimate, rational and non-rational as well. However it is interesting to note
that that which is the source or reason of similarity of all that exists by virtue of
being common to all, meaning existence, is also at the same time the reason for
their difference. Therefore even though existence is a single reality (haqiqat al
wahida) to be found in a stone, a tree, a bird and man alike, nevertheless the
existence of a stone is not the same as that of a bird, and the existence of a bird is
not the same as that of a man. This difference in existence which is witnessed in
different things is caused by factors such as intensity (shidat) and weakness (duf),
priority (taqadum) and posterior (taakhur), and potentiality (quwa) and actuality
(filiat). This is due to the fact that existence is a gradational reality (haqiqat al
mushakik), whereby in some things existence happens to be more intense than
others, because the light of existence shines brighter or more intensely in such
things in comparison to others. Therefore the existence of a stone is weaker than
that of a tree, in which (tree) existence is more intense as compared to the stone,
this is because the existence of a tree embodies or contains within itself in addition
to the ontological feature of a stone, which is solidification (jamud), the property of
growth (namud) as well, and the existence of a bird is more intense than that of a
tree, the existence of which (tree) is weaker when compared to that of a bird,
because the existence of a bird embodies within itself in addition to the existential
features of a stone and a tree, namely solidification and growth, the properties of
sensation (ihsas) and motion (harkat) as well, and lastly the existence of man is the
most intense of all, because it contains the existential features of all the lower or
inferior existential forms, therefore the being of man contains or possesses the
features of solidification, growth, sensation, and motion that are found in the lower
levels of existences, and in addition to these it also possesses distinction (tamiz),
discernment (tashkhis), consciousness (shaur), will (irada) and intellect (aql).
Therefore existence is seen as a single reality in all these existents, which is
gradational, such that when it travels from a man towards a stone, so it can be said
to be experiencing diminution or a weakening of its intensity, and as it travels
through from a stone towards a man so it is said to be experiencing an
intensification in its reality, such that it is the same light that shines the brightest in
man and is the weakest in a stone. It is exactly this diminution and intensification
that is the cause of difference amongst different existents. A being that possesses
only a small degree of actuality and a great degree of potentiality will be weaker in
existence in comparison to a thing that possesses a greater degree of actuality and
only a small degree of potentiality and therefore has a more intense being.
Pure Being or Pure Existence & Impure Being:

Existence is a single, universal reality that is gradational (haqiqat-e-wahida

mushakika), meaning that all the different things that exist in the reality have
existence in common, it is something that unites them all because it is commonly
shared by all things that exist, however this reality is at the same time both a
source of similarity between the different things as well as a source of difference
and distinction between them, by reason of its intensity or weakness, as in some
beings such as animals and humans it is found in an intense form, whereas in
certain other beings or existents such as stones and trees it is found to be weak by
comparison, which demonstrates the point that existence is a gradational reality
characterized by intensity and weakness or diminution. Since existence is a
gradational reality therefore there has to be point where this reality is most intense
and similarly a point where it happens to be the weakest, therefore the point at
which existence is most intense is referred to as Pure Being or Pure Existence,
meaning the Divine Essence, and the point at which it is the most diminutive or
weakest may be referred to as Prime Matter or Hayula. This brings us to the
distinction between Pure Being (Wujud-e-Mehaz) and Impure Being. Apart from the
Divine Essence all other beings or existences are impure, this is due to the fact that
in all other beings or existences there is a mixture or an adulteration of perfection
(kamal) as well as imperfection (nuqs), in other words in all other existences or
beings there is existence (wujud) coupled with non-existence (adum), being (hasti)
coupled or mixed with non-being (nisti). Perfection is a positive quality that
enhances being or existence, in fact existence itself is a perfection, and non-being
an imperfection, therefore anything or any quality, such as a privation (kami) or
deficiency (nuqs) that negates being or existence will also be an imperfection. All
contingent beings are a mixture of perfection and privation or deficiency, and as a
result of this adulteration of perfection and negation or privation they are referred
to as impure beings. The Divine Essence is the only entity whose existence or being
is devoid of all imperfections or existential negations in the form of privations or
defects, in other words it is a being or an existence wherein there is no admixture or
adulteration of being with anything else, meaning non-being, and is therefore
absolute perfection and absolute existence, Pure Being. It is in this Pure Being,
meaning God, that existence happens to be the most intense.

Classification of Being or the Types of Being:

Existence or being may be classified or categorized into Necesssary (wajib al
wujud), Contingent (mumkinal wujud) and Impossible (mumtani al wujud).
Necessary Being can in turn be divided into Necessary in itself (wajib bil zat) and
Necessary through another (wajib bi ghayrihi). Similarly an impossible being may
also be divided into impossible in itself (mumtani bil zat) and impossible through
another (mumtani bi ghayrihi), and contingent beings can be further sub-divided

into substances (jawhar) and accidents (aradh). From among the classifications
mentioned it is only the Necessary Being and the contingent beings, meaning
substances and accidents, that exist. An accident is a thing which is dependent
upon a subject for the manifestation of its existence, in other words it is something
that depends upon another, meaning a subject (substance) for its existence, for
instance color, taste and smell, it is something that inheres within another. A
substance is an existent that is independent of everything (save the necessary
being) for the manifestation of its existence. A Necessary Being in Itself may be
defined as an existent for which existence is necessary, meaning it is a being or an
entity that cannot not be, in other words it cannot fail to be or to exist, and for
which non-existence is impossible. To elaborate further we may add that the
impossibility of the non-existence of a Necessary Being is necessary. Existence
cannot be separated from the nature and essence of a necessary being, or in other
terms it is in the nature and essence of a necessary being to exist, just as it is in the
nature of a triangle to be three sided. To be three sided is in the essence and nature
of a triangle, such that no triangle would be a triangle if it fails to be three sided,
and therefore a triangle cannot but be three sided. Similarly a necessary being
cannot but exist as it is in its nature to be, or to exist, therefore just as triangularity
is essential to a triangle similarly existence is essential to the necessary being. A
possible or contingent being is one for which both existence and non-existence is
equally possible, but neither is necessary, meaning that the existence of a
contingent being is neither necessary nor is its non-existence necessary. Similarly a
contingent being is one for which neither being nor non-being is impossible. As
regards a contingent being both existence and non-existence are in a state of
equilibrium and in order to tilt the balance in favor or preference of either
alternative a determinant is required. If a determinant prefers the existence of a
contingent being over its non-existence so such a contingent being in that case
would become a necessary being through another, in other words an existent that is
contingent in itself (mumkin bil zat) becomes necessary through another, this kind
of necessity is not essential as is the case with Necessary in Itself. Similarly if a
determinant prefers its non-existence over its existence so it would become an
impossible being through another, this kind of impossibility is not essential in
nature. An impossible existent is one for which non-existence is necessary and
existence impossible, because it is not in its nature or essence to exist, for instance
a four sided triangle is an impossible existent because it is not in the nature of a
triangle to be four sided (a triangle must necessarily be three sided in order for it to
qualify as a triangle). Therefore an associate of God (sharik-e-bari) is an impossible
being because it is not in its nature to exist, meaning that existence is contrary to
its essence just as being four sided is contrary to the essence of a triangle.
There is a further classification made between mawjud bi nafsihi or existent in
itself and mawjud bi ghayrihi or existent through another. An existent in itself
or by itself is a being that is independent of every other thing for the derivation as
well as the subsistence of its being and is therefore self-subsisting. By being self-

subsisting we do not mean to say that it requires or is in need of its being for selfsubsistence, but only to emphasize its absolute independence from all aspects and
things for its existence. An existent through another is an existent that is not selfsubsisting and therefore requires or is in need of another being from not only the
derivation of its being but also the subsistence thereof, because it cannot exist on
its own. Now the existent from which an existent through another derives its
being and continues to exist, is also of the same nature, meaning an existent
through another, so it also must depend for the derivation as well as the
subsistence of its existence upon some other. However this chain of existents in
which one is dependent upon another for existence cannot regress indefinitely,
therefore ultimately it must necessarily end on an existent that is existent in itself
and hence absolutely independent of every other thing or existent.
There is also another classification of existents based upon the possibility of
ontological or existential indigence (imkan-e-faqri), according to which all existents
may be classified into two distinct categories namely, mawjud-e-ghany or an
Independent Being and an Indigent Being or mawjud-e-faqir. According to
Mulla Sadra all existents besides the necessary being suffer from the possibility of
indigence, in other words all contingent beings are indigent existents, whereas the
necessary being since he is devoid of all kinds of need and dependence is the only
being that is Absolutely Independent. Indigence possibility means that contingent
things are sheer indigence in the sense that they not only depend upon the
Necessary Being for the derivation of their existence but also the subsistence of
their being at all times, meaning that due to their ontological indigence they cannot
even for a moment subsist independently, that is, without divine succor. It is divine
grace (faidh-e-ilahi) that sustains them moment by moment. This existential
indigence is inherent within the very being of contingent things, such that to be
contingent or an effect , that is to be caused, means to be existentially indigent and
hence in need of a being that is absolutely independent and pure from all kinds of
indigence from every aspect. It is the very nature and essence of a necessary being
or an absolutely independent existent that renders it absolutely free from all kinds
of need and indigence.
Causality is the relation between two existents such that the existence, appearance
or manifestation of one is dependent upon the existence of another. The former
existent is known as an effect and the latter one is called a cause. Therefore a cause
is an existent that produces another, meaning an effect, or it may also be defined
as an existent that manifests or brings into being another existent and the being or
existence of which is independent upon the existence of its effect. An effect may be
defined as an existent the existence of which is produced by and hence is a product
of another existent, meaning its cause, or it may be said that an effect is an existent
the manifestation, appearance or existence of which is dependent upon another
existent, called a cause. Therefore an effect is an existent that is manifested or

brought into existence by another, that is a cause and is therefore dependent upon
it for its being. A cause may also be described as an existent that bestows or
imparts being upon another, whereas an effect may also be described as an
existent upon which existence is bestowed or imparted to by another. In a causal
relation a cause is independent with respect to its effect, whereas an effect is
dependent with respect to its cause. In a causal connection or chain an existent
may be the cause in relation to its consequent effect, but it may also be an effect in
relation to its existential cause, therefore it is absolutely possible for an existent to
be a cause as well as an effect at the same time, albeit not in the same respect,
meaning that an existent cannot be a cause as well as an effect of the same
existent, as circular causation (daur) is impossible, as that would mean that an
effect may act as a cause of its own cause, which is inadmissible, due to the fact
that it implies the existence of an effect prior to the existence of its cause.
Therefore every member of a causal chain is an effect of some other member, save
the first existent or the first member of this link or chain, which is the cause of all
the other members in the chain without being an effect of any, similarly every
member of the causal chain is a cause of another member of the chain, save the
last member of this chain, which is an effect of its cause without being the cause of
any other existent. Therefore the first member of a causal chain is a cause only
without being an effect of some other existent, whereas the last member is an
effect only without being a cause to another. In a causal connection a cause is
independent with respect to its effect but dependent in relation to its existential
cause, similarly an effect is dependent in relation to its cause but independent in
relation to its effect of which it is the cause. However the first member of this causal
series is absolutely independent of all the others, by reason of being the cause of all
the subsequent members of the series and not an effect of any. The last member of
this causal chain is the most dependent of all the others since it is only an effect
without an effect of its own. There cannot be any existent in the causal chain prior
to the first member and neither can there be any existent subsequent to the last
one in the series.
A Perfect Cause (illat al kamila/illat al tamm) is one the existence of which
necessitates the existence of its effect, and without which the effect would cease to
exist, it may also be referred to as the complete cause as it does not lack any
feature or property deemed necessary or essential for it to produce its effect and
nor is it in need of the assistance or co-operation of any other cause for jointly
causing or producing the effect. The nature of a perfect or complete cause is such
that as soon as it exists, its effect also comes into being, in other words the
existence of the perfect cause simultaneously manifests its effect without any
periodic interval or time gap, or alternatively speaking the existence of the effect is
inseparable from its perfect cause. Therefore a perfect cause cannot fail to exist
without its effect, otherwise it would no longer be deemed perfect, in other words if
it exists without producing its effect so it means that it is not a perfect cause. A
perfect cause may also be referred to as a Real Cause or Illat-e-Haqiqi. It is the

absence of delay between the existence of a cause and the existence of its effect on
the basis of which the cause is referred to as a perfect cause. An Imperfect or
Incomplete cause (Illat al Naqisa) is one the existence of which does not
necessitates the existence of its consequent effect, in other words an imperfect
cause may exist without its effect, this is due to the fact that an imperfect cause
either lacks certain features or parts deemed essential or necessary for the
causation or production of the effect or is incapable of causing the effect on its own
without any assistance or co-operation from another cause, therefore an imperfect
cause may exist without its effect issuing forth from it immediately without any time
interval, or alternatively speaking there could be a periodic interval between the
existence of an imperfect cause and its consequent effect, in fact such an interval is
necessary for the cause to be considered as an imperfect or incomplete cause. An
External Cause is one the existence of which does not form part of the substance
or being of the effect, nevertheless without it, it would not be possible for the effect
to come into existence. An external cause either causes the existence of the effect
by imparting form on its matter, as is the case with an Efficient Cause, or by acting
as the purpose of existence or creation of the effect, as is the case with a Final
Cause. An external cause does not form part of the substance of the effect and is
therefore separate from the substance of the effect. An Internal Cause is one the
existence of which forms part of the substance of the effect, or the existence of
which is part of the existence of the effect, for instance, a whole and its parts.
Usually a combination of internal causes or parts constitutes the effect or whole, in
other words the substance of an internal cause forms part of the substance of the
effect. A Proximate or Immediate Cause is one that causes its effect to come
into existence without the use of an intermediary for producing it and is therefore
rightly known as an immediate cause. This is due to the fact that there is no causal
gap or interval between the immediate cause and its consequent effect. A Remote
or Mediate Cause is one that causes or produces its effect by employing the use
of an intermediary in between itself and its effect, in other words there is a causal
gap or an interval between it and its consequent effect. A Material Cause is
anything of which something is made, in other words it is the stuff out of which
something made and therefore provides the ground for the appearance of the thing,
for instance wood happens to be the material cause out of which are made the
various articles of furniture, paper is the material cause of books and flesh the
material cause of humans and animals. An Efficient Cause is the name given to
the maker or manufacturer of a thing, for instance in the above mentioned example
the carpenter is the efficient cause of all the furniture that he makes, but when an
efficient cause is spoken of as a maker or a producer so we do not imply the
creation ex nihilo of matter, because matter can only be created, that is brought
into existence not from anything, by the Necessary Being, but what we mean is that
an efficient cause simply imparts or gives form to an already existent matter or
stuff, so basically he only brings together or effects a combination of matter and
form in order to produce or make a thing. A Final Cause is the purpose or reason
for the production or creation of a thing and without which that thing would not

have been made or created in the first place, meaning a final cause is that in the
absence of which the act of manufacture would not have occurred in the first place,
for example furniture is made by the carpenter so that it might be used by the
potential buyers or customers of his product and therefore in the event of the
absence of these users or the use for which the furniture may be employed the
carpenter would never undertake the trouble to produce or make the furniture.
Therefore the users or the use of the furniture by them is the final cause of the
making of the furniture. Similarly in the case of writing of a book the author of the
work is the efficient cause who writes the book, and the paper is the stuff or the
material cause of which the book is made and the readers or the act of reading is
the final cause that induces the author to write the book in the first place. Therefore
a final cause may be described as anything that induces or triggers the making,
production or creation of anything and in the absence of which there would not be
any reason for the above mentioned tasks to be carried out. A Formal Cause may
be defined as the shape or appearance of a thing although it is much more than
that as the thingness (shayia) of a thing (shay) is due to its Form (sura), for
example a chair drawn on a paper would still be chair even though it lacks the usual
material cause of a chair, namely wood, therefore the thingness of a thing is not
due to its material cause but due to its form. Out of the above mentioned four
causes the Efficient and Final may also be described as external causes whereas the
material and formal ones may be described as internal causes. Therefore all things
that exist in the external reality (haqiqat al kharijiya) are composite as they consist
of a material and a formal cause, but this combination of matter and form can only
be accomplished by an efficient cause that acts to achieve a definite aim or purpose
known as the final cause. There is Mutual Implication between a cause and its
consequent effect in the sense that if a perfect cause exists so it logically follows
that its effect must also necessarily exist otherwise given the existence of a perfect
or proper cause without its effect, so that would mean that the cause is not perfect,
because perfect cause by definition is one the existence of which necessitates the
existence of its effect. Similarly if an effect exists so the existence of the effect
necessarily implies the existence of its perfect cause from which the effect derives
not only its being but also the perpetuity or continuity of that being.
The Principle of Non-Contradiction according to which a thing cannot both be
and not be, in other words a thing cannot both exist and not exist at the same time
in the same respect. Similarly a statement or a proposition cannot both be true and
false simultaneously, it will either be true or false at any one given time but cannot
be both at the same time, therefore a thing will either be this or that but cannot be
both this and that simultaneously, this is due to the fact that absolute negations or
opposites cannot both exist at the same time. The principle refutes the idea that all
things are true because to assert that all things are true is tantamount to saying
that nothing is false, but how can that be because if nothing is false and all things
are true then the exact opposite of the proposition that all things are true, which
is all things are false, is also true and this is clearly absurd. Similarly if all things

are true then to say that x exists is the same as stating that x does not exists,
the statement that x does not exists is the exact opposite or a negation of the
proposition that x exists and if all things are true then this negation of a true
proposition is also true which is absurd once again. However both these propositions
which are opposites of one another would be held to be true if differentiated by time
and space, in other words x may exist at y time, but may not continue to exist later
say at time z, similarly x may exist or be present at place y which means that he will
not exist at place z simultaneously. Therefore two exact opposites or negations can
both be true but not at the same time but both can be true at different times and at
different places. This shows that to assert that all things are true is a selfdestructive proposition. Similarly if it is asserted that all things are false then this
assertion itself will either be true or false, if it is held to be true then there would be
something that is not false and this defeats the assertion, and if the assertion is
held to be false then to the negation of this assertion namely that all things are not
false will be true, therefore either way it is also a self-destructive proposition. A
thing cannot be both long and short with respect to the same thing at the same
time, and to say that it can be both long and short with respect to the same thing
simultaneously is to assert that all things are true and nothing is false. Similarly a
thing cannot be both black and white, fat or thin at the same time, it will either be
black or white, fat or thin at any one given time but cannot be both.
Whatever perfections are found in an effect are nothing but a shadow (dhil) of the
perfections found in its perfect or proper cause and hence an effect cannot come to
possess any perfection that is not found in its proper cause, because the very
existence of an effect in its entirety is nothing but a shadow of the existence of its
cause. Therefore if we observe a perfection in an existent which is an effect of some
other existent so we can be certain of the fact that the same perfection will be
found in a more intense form in its cause. This notion is based on the philosophical
idea that a thing cannot come from nothing, therefore if there is a perfection in an
effect so it must come from somewhere meaning its cause. God, the pure being is
the cause of all the causes, in fact He alone is the Real Cause of all that exists in the
realm of being. If God is a cause so he has to be a perfect cause and cannot be an
imperfect one, and if He is a perfect cause of everything so His effect must exist
when He exists, but God exists eternally without a beginning, and therefore His
effect meaning creation or the cosmos also exists eternally and therefore has no
beginning, because the relationship between God and His creation is similar to that
between the sun and its rays, where the rays emanate from the very being of the
sun, and come into existence just as the sun comes into existence, that is
simultaneously, this explains the belief of the philosophers in the eternity of the
cosmos. Just as the rays are dependent upon the sun for their being and have no
independent existence of their own apart from the sun similarly creation or the
cosmos has no independent and separate existence apart from its real cause or
God. God is described as light because light is self-manifesting and also manifests
others, similarly God is self-subsisting in existence and also bestows existence on all

others. He illuminates creation by bringing it out from the darkness of non-existence

into the light of being or existence. However creation proceeds or emanates from
the divine in a certain order or preference and this notion is based on the Principle
of the Possibility of the Noblest, according to which the noblest contingent
essence comes into existence before all the others, in other words the ontologically
noblest existent emanates or proceeds from the divine prior to all others, and
therefore the intelligible beings or the intelligible realm comes into existence
before all other realms because it is existentially the noblest realm and because it
proceeds or emanates directly or in proximity to the divine therefore by virtue of
this proximity or direct association it happens to be existentially the most superior
and perfect of all the realms. From this intelligible reality or realm proceeds or
emanates the Imaginal Realm or the Realm of Images (Alam al Mithal), which is
nothing but a shadow (dhil) of the intelligible realm and therefore whatever
perfections are found therein are a shadow of the perfections found in the
intelligible reality, and lastly from the Imaginal Realm emanates or proceeds the
world of sensible, which is the realm of matter, the realm of darkness, a shadow of
the imaginal reality, nevertheless whatever perfections exist here in this world are a
shadow of the perfections found in the imaginal realm, in fact the entire material
realm is nothing but a shadow of the existence of the imaginal world. The realm
most proximate to the divine essence is the intelligible realm and is therefore the
most perfect, whereas the realm most distant or remote from God is the sensible
world, the world of dark matter, and is therefore the least perfect of all the realms
by virtue of being further removed from God, the source and fountain of all
Goodness and Beauty, this is due to the fact that the nearer one is to the source of
goodness and perfection the more perfect it is and the farther removed one is from
this source the more existentially imperfect it is in proportion to its remoteness or
distance from God. The nearer an existent grows to God ontologically the more
immaterial it becomes and the farther an existent grows from God the more
material it happens to be. It must be mentioned here that the intelligible realm is an
absolutely immaterial and incorporeal realm whereas the sensible world is material
and corporeal in character, and there exists no similarity or connection between the
two worlds in terms of their existential features and attributes and hence cannot be
directly connected to one another, therefore these two realms which happen to lie
at two ontologically distinct extremes are linked together via a realm that possesses
the attributes or the characteristics of both the intelligible as well as the sensible
worlds, and that is the realm of images, which is an intermediate realm lying in
between the intelligible and the sensible, and therefore is an immaterial realm that
is corporeal because although it does not possesses matter but has the accidents of
matter. The greater an existents capacity or potential to receive divine grace
(faydh) the more perfect it is in terms of existence in proportion to such capacity,
and the lesser an existents capacity to receive grace the more imperfect it is in
proportion to the lack of capacity or potential. Therefore existents are good and
perfect to the extent and the degree of receptivity to divine grace (faydh-e-ilahi),
the receptive an existent is the more ontologically perfect it will be, and the less

receptive it is the more imperfect or less perfect it shall be. Therefore the
emanation or procession of creation flows downwards through the intelligible to the
sensible through the Arc of Descent (Qause-e-Nuzuli) increasing with the
descent in materiality, corporeality and imperfection the farther it moves away from
the source or origin of being (Mabda).
There is a hierarchy of beings existing in the material world such as the solids
(jamadat), the plant kingdom (nabatat), the animal kingdom (haywanat), and the
humans (insan). The material realm is in a state of continuous flux (taghayyur) such
that nothing is constant in the world of matter and all things are continuously
changing, in other words there is motion or movement in the material world which
manifests itself in the changing accidents such as the change in color, taste, smell,
size etc. according to Mulla Sadra the motion or change in accidents is an effect of
motion or change within the substance (jawhar) of a thing, therefore motion in
substance is the cause of motion in the accidents, and Mulla Sadra refers to this
motion as substantial motion (harkat al jawhariya). This kind of motion is
inherent within the very nature of matter. In addition to substantive motion there
is also trans-substantive motion according to which one type of a substance
transforms itself into another kind, such that as it moves higher up in the hierarchy
of being it experiences an intensification of existence. Therefore as a substance
ascends higher up in the hierarchy it becomes more perfect. For instance it is from
inorganic matter or solids, the essence of which consists in solidification (jamud)
only, that plant life grows, the essence of which consists of solidification as well as
growth (jamud wa namud), the plants are consumed as food by animals wherein as
a result of the internal digestive system of the animal it is transformed into an
animal semen, which in its turn after passing through the process of reproduction
and through substantial motion develops into an animal, the essence of which
consists of solidification, growth, sensation and motion (hiss wa harkat), this animal
becomes food for Man, wherein the human digestive system converts it into human
semen, which after passing through the various phases of reproduction and through
substantial motion evolves or develops into a human embryo. As is apparent from
the above example that as a substance moves or ascends higher up in the hierarchy
of being its being intensifies or increases in perfection as more and more properties
are united in its being. Therefore through the combined processes of substantial as
well as trans-substantive motion even base clay may rise to the exalted position of
a conscious, intellective and willing being.
Substantive Motion involves the movement of an existent from potentiality towards
actuality, and thereby becoming more intense and perfect. In other words the more
actual an existent the more real and perfect it is, or the greater the unrealized
potential the more imperfect and non-actual a being is, because potentiality
symbolizes imperfection whereas actuality symbolizes perfection. Therefore
perfection involves the actualization of hidden potential. It is the existence of
potential that renders possible substantive movement, because in the absence of

potential there can be no movement and hence no actualization. It is this

actualization of hidden potential that renders existence more intense, actual, real
and perfect. Substantial motion is always from an ontologically lower or inferior
level of existence towards a nobler and more perfect level of being. The nature and
character of this movement is such that all the perfections found at the lower level
are also found at the higher one in a more intensified form, which means that this
movement does not causes a being to lose the perfections it enjoyed at the lower
level, in fact in addition to the perfections found in the lower level of being there are
at the higher levels of being certain other perfections as well that are not found at
the lower level, therefore the higher existential levels encompass the perfections of
the lower level but also go beyond them in terms of perfections. Therefore as is
apparent from the example above of trans-substantive motion that as a being
traverses its existential journey from being simply inorganic matter to becoming a
plant it retains the perfection found in solids, namely solidification, and also
acquires the perfection of growth, similarly in becoming an animal it retains the
features of the lower levels of being namely, solidification and growth and in
addition to them also acquires the features of sensation and motion. This movement
of ascent from a lower level of perfection or being to higher level of perfection and
being occurs through substantial motion which involves the actualization or the
realization of latent potential.
Through the process of trans-substantive motion even base clay may get converted
or transformed into a human embryo, now initially at the moment of its origination
the soul is absolutely material in character so much so that at the time of its coming
into being the body is the soul, in other words the soul comes into being with the
origination of the body and is corporeal in origination (jismaniyat al hudus). At the
moment of its origination the human soul is at the level of a plant soul (nafs al
nabatiya) which means that its essence consists of solidification (jamud) and growth
(namud), at this stage the soul is exteremly weak and therefore is completely
dependent upon its material body for subsistence or survival, at this stage the
human soul, which in essence is the plant soul, is very strongly attached to the
body, and the greater the souls association with its body the greater its materiality
in proportion to the intensity of its attachment. Now through substantial motion the
plant soul evolves and develops into an animal soul (nafs al haywaniya), such that
at the moment of its birth it is an animal soul, meaning that its essence comprises
of all the perfections that are found at its lower level of being, such as solidification
and growth, and in addition to those perfections it also comprises of certain other
perfections that are not found at the level preceding it, meaning the inferior level,
such as, sensation and motion, which do not exist at the level of a plant soul. Some
may argue that motion in the form of growth exist at the level of a plant soul as
well, while this is true it must be mentioned that motion may be classified into
voluntary and involuntary, or spatial and evolutionary, the kind of motion that is to
be found in a plant soul, meaning growth is not involuntary and compulsive in
character, it is a necessary movement that cannot be avoided, a movement

necessitated by nature, whereas the type of movement or motion which is a feature

of an animal soul is voluntary movement, which is movement from one place to
another and is therefore spatial movement, this kind of movement depends upon
human volition for its occurrence. Therefore the essence of an animal soul consists
of solidification, growth, sensation and motion. The soul gradually through
substantive motion detaches itself from the material body thereby becoming
immaterial incrementally as it traverses the different levels of perfection, where
every succeeding stage is more perfect than the preceding one, because the
perfections found in the succeeding stages subsume and surpass those existing at
the inferior ones. This is an extremely important feature of substantial motion as it
demonstrates that substantial motion causes a gradual intensification of being
which cannot happen if it involves the abandonment of the perfections found at the
inferior stages as the soul moves higher up in its development or evolution.
Therefore intensification in being entails not only the inclusion of the existential
features or perfections found at the lower levels but also surpassing those
perfections. It has been mentioned above that substantial motion involves the
actualization of latent potential through substantial motion, therefore at the level of
a plant soul, the soul is in actuality a plant soul but in potentiality it is an animal
soul even at that moment. Similarly an animal soul, is in actuality an animal soul at
that stage, but in potentiality it is a human ration soul (nafs al natiqa insaniya).
Therefore the plant soul is the matter or the material cause from which arises the
form of the animal soul, and the animal soul is the matter or the material cause
from which arise the form of the rational soul. This shows that every preceding
stage in the souls development acts or serves as the matter or the material cause
for the succeeding level, every succeeding level in the souls evolution serves as the
perfecting form of the preceding one. As the soul through substantial motion
actualizes latent potentiality it experiences intensification (tashaddud) in its being,
and becomes more perfect (kamil), real (haqiqi), and actual (bil fil), that is it moves
from previously being imperfect (naqis), and potential (bil quwa) towards being
perfect and actual. Initially the soul is absolutely corporeal and material and it is
substantial motion that causes the soul to move gradually and incrementally
towards complete actualization and perfection by externalizing its latent potential.
This incremental actualization triggered by substantial motion causes the soul to
become gradually immaterial. This immateriality is the product of the souls gradual
and incremental disembodiment through substantial motion.