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Title: The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes
Author: Averroes
Language: English
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_The Gaekwad Studies
Religion and Philosophy: XI._

                        PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY
                              OF AVERROES

           Printed by Manibhai Mathurbhai Gupta at the “Arya
            Sudharak” Printing Press, Raopura, Baroda, and
            Published by A. G. Widgery, the College, Baroda

                        PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY
                              OF AVERROES

                  Tractata translated from the Arabic


                    MOHAMMAD JAMIL-UR-REHMAN M. A.

                Professor of Islamic History, Hyderabad
       Formerly Fellow of the Seminar for the Comparative Study
                         of Religions, Baroda.


                          Dr. AZIMUDDIN AHMAD


It was at your feet that I first learned to appreciate historical and
literary research, and the following pages constitute the earliest
fruits of that literary labour of mine the impetus for which I am proud
to have received from you. I crave your indulgence for my taking the
liberty of dedicating the same to your revered name, with the hope that
it will not fail to attract the same generous sympathy from you as you
have always shown to your pupil.

                                               MOHAMMAD JAMIL UR REHMAN


It was as a Fellow of the Seminar for the Comparative Study of
Religions at the College, Baroda, that the present work was begun.
The subject was taken up in the first place as a parallel study to
that contained in a paper in the Indian Philosophical Review, Volume
II, July 1918, pp. 24-32 entitled “Maimonides and the Attainment of
Religious Truth.” But as I proceeded with my investigation I thought
it might be best to let Averroes speak for himself. For this reason
I have here translated certain treatises of Averroes, as edited in
the Arabic text by D. H. Muller in “Philosophie und Theologie von
Averroes.” Munich 1859. I am confident that the book will prove an
interesting one and will explain itself to the reader without any
introduction on my part. Though owing to my appointment at Hyderabad I
resigned my position at Baroda soon after commencing this work I wish
here to express my thanks to Professor Alban G. Widgery of Baroda for
his constant sympathy with and encouragement for my work in and out of
the Seminar. He has also kindly accepted the book for inclusion in the
Gaekwad Studies in Religion and Philosophy. I am indebted to him for a
complete revision of the manuscript and for the onerous work of seeing
the book through the press. I am also indebted to my brother Mutazid
Wali ur Rehman, B.A. for valuable help in rendering many obscure

                                               MOHAMMAD JAMIL UR REHMAN
  _Osmania University,


 I. A Decisive Discourse on the Delineation of the Relation between
 Religion and Philosophy.

 I a. Appendix: On the Problem of Eternal Knowledge which Averroes has
 mentioned in his Decisive Discourse.

 II. An Exposition of the Methods of Argument concerning the Doctrines
 of the Faith, and a Determination of Doubts and misleading Innovation
 brought into the Faith through Interpretations.

                                OF THE

                                OF THE

And after: Praise be to God for all His praiseworthy acts, and
blessings on Mohammad, His slave, the Pure, the Chosen One and His
Apostle. The purpose of the following treatise is to inquire through
sacred Law[2] whether the learning of philosophy and other sciences
appertaining thereto is permitted, or called dangerous, or commended
by the Law, and if commended, is it only approved or made obligatory.
We maintain that the business of philosophy is nothing other than to
look into creation and to ponder over it in order to be guided to the
Creator,--in other words, to look into the meaning of existence. For
the knowledge of creation leads to the cognisance of the Creator,
through the knowledge of the created. The more perfect becomes the
knowledge of creation, the more perfect becomes the knowledge of
the Creator. The Law encourages and exhorts us to observe creation.
Thus, it is clear that this is to be taken either as a religious
injunction or as something approved by the Law. But the Law urges
us to observe creation by means of reason and demands the knowledge
thereof through reason. This is evident from different verses of the
Quran. For example the Quran says: “Wherefore take example _from them_,
ye who have eyes.”[3] That is a clear indication of the necessity
of using the reasoning faculty, or rather both reason and religion,
in the interpretation of things. Again it says: “Or do they not
contemplate the kingdom of heaven and earth and the things which God
hath created.”[4] This is a plain exhortation to encourage the use of
observation of creation. And remember that one whom God especially
distinguishes in this respect, Abraham, the prophet. For He says: “And
this did we show unto Abraham: the kingdom of heaven and earth.”[5]
Further He says: “Do they not consider the camels, how they are
created; and the heaven, how it is raised.”[6] Or still again: “And
(who) meditate on the creation of heaven and earth, saying, O Lord thou
hast not created this in vain.”[7] There are many other verses on this
subject: too numerous to be enumerated.

Now, it being established that the Law makes the observation and
consideration of creation by reason obligatory--and consideration
is nothing but to make explicit the implicit--this can only be done
through reason. Thus we must look into creation with the reason.
Moreover, it is obvious that the observation which the Law approves
and encourages must be of the most perfect type, performed with the
most perfect kind of reasoning. As the Law emphasises the knowledge of
God and His creation by inference, it is incumbent on any who wish to
know God and His whole creation by inference, to learn the kinds of
inference, their conditions and that which distinguishes philosophy
from dialectic and exhortation from syllogism. This is impossible
unless one possesses knowledge beforehand of the various kinds of
reasoning and learns to distinguish between reasoning and what is not
reasoning. This cannot be done except one knows its different parts,
that is, the different kinds of premises.

Hence, for a believer in the Law and a follower of it, it is necessary
to know these things before he begins to look into creation, for
they are like instruments for observation. For, just as a student
discovers by the study of the law, the necessity of knowledge of legal
reasoning with all its kinds and distinctions, a student will find out
by observing the creation the necessity of metaphysical reasoning.
Indeed, he has a greater claim on it than the jurist. For if a jurist
argues the necessity of legal reasoning from the saying of God:
“Wherefore take example _from them_ O ye who have eyes,”[8] a student
of divinity has a better right to establish the same from it on behalf
of metaphysical reasoning.

One cannot maintain that this kind of reasoning is an innovation in
religion because it did not exist in the early days of Islam. For legal
reasoning and its kinds are things which were invented also in later
ages, and no one thinks they are innovations. Such should also be our
attitude towards philosophical reasoning. There is another reason why
it should be so, but this is not the proper place to mention it. A
large number of the followers of this religion confirm philosophical
reasoning, all except a small worthless minority, who argue from
religious ordinances. Now, as it is established that the Law makes the
consideration of philosophical reasoning and its kinds as necessary
as legal reasoning, if none of our predecessors has made an effort to
enquire into it, we should begin to do it, and so help them, until the
knowledge is complete. For if it is difficult or rather impossible for
one person to acquaint himself single-handed with all things which it
is necessary to know in legal matters, it is still more difficult in
the case of philosophical reasoning. And, if before us, somebody has
enquired into it, we should derive help from what he has said. It is
quite immaterial whether that man is our co-religionist or not; for the
instrument by which purification is perfected is not made uncertain
in its usefulness, by its being in the hands of one of our own party,
or of a foreigner, if it possesses the attributes of truth. By these
latter we mean those Ancients who investigated these things before the
advent of Islam.

Now, such is the case. All that is wanted in an enquiry into
philosophical reasoning has already been perfectly examined by the
Ancients. All that is required of us is that we should go back to
their books and see what they have said in this connection. If all
that they say be true, we should accept it and if there be something
wrong, we should be warned by it. Thus, when we have finished this
kind of research we shall have acquired instruments by which we can
observe the universe, and consider its general character. For so long
as one does not know its general character one cannot know the created,
and so long as he does not know the created, he can have no knowledge
of the Creator. Thus we must begin an inquiry into the universe
systematically, such as we have learned from the trend of rational
inference. It is also evident that this aim is to be attained by the
investigation of one part of the universe after another, and that help
must be derived from predecessors, as is the case in other sciences.
Imagine that the science of geometry and astronomy had become extinct
in our day, and a single individual desired to find out by himself the
magnitude of the heavenly bodies, their forms, and their distances from
one another. Even though he were the most sagacious of men, it would be
as impossible for him as to ascertain the proportion of the sun and the
earth and the magnitude of the other stars. It would only be attainable
by aid of divine revelation, or something like it. If it be said to him
that the sun is a hundred and fifty or sixty times as big as the earth,
he would take it to be sheer madness on the part of the speaker, though
it is an established fact in the science of astronomy, so that no one
learned in that science will have any doubt about it.

The science which needs most examples from other sciences is that of
Law. For the study of jurisprudence cannot be completed except in a
very long time. If a man today would himself learn of all the arguments
discovered by the different disputants of diverse sects, in problems
which have always excited contentions in all the big cities, except
those of Al-Maghrib, he would be a proper object to be laughed at on
account of the impossibility of the task, in spite of the existence of
every favourable circumstance. This is similar not only in the sciences
but also in the arts. For no one is capable of discovering by himself
alone everything which is required. And if this is so in other sciences
and arts, how is it possible in the art of arts--philosophy?

This being so, it becomes us to go back to the Ancients, and to see
what observations and considerations they have made into the universe,
according to the tests of inference. We should consider what they have
said in this connection and proved in their books, so that whatever may
be true in them we may accept and, while thanking them, be glad to know
it, and whatever be wrong, we should be warned by it, be cautioned, and
hold them excused for their mistake.

From what has been said, it may be taken that a search into the books
of the Ancients is enjoined by the Law, when their meaning and purpose
be the same as that to which the Law exhorts us. Anyone who prevents a
man from pondering over these things, that is, a man who has the double
quality of natural sagacity and rectitude in the Law, with the merit of
learning and disposition--turns away the people from the door by which
the Law invites them to enter into the knowledge of God, and that is
the door of observation which leads to the perfect knowledge of God.
Such an action is the extreme limit of ignorance and of remoteness from

If, by studying these books, a man has been led astray and gone wrong
on account of some natural defect, bad training of the mind, inordinate
passion, or the want of a teacher who might explain to him the true
significance of things, by all or some of these causes, we ought not on
this account to prevent one fit to study these things from doing so.
For such harm is not innate in man, but is only an accident of training.

It is not right that a drug which is medically useful by its nature
should be discarded because it may prove harmful by accident. The
Prophet told a man whose brother was suffering with diarrhea to
treat him with honey. But this only increased the ailment. On his
complaining, the Prophet said: “God was right and thy brother’s stomach
was wrong.” We would even say that a man who prevents another fit for
it, from studying the books of philosophy, because certain worthless
people have been misled by them, is like a man who refused a thirsty
man cold and sweet water, till he died, because some people under the
same circumstances have been suffocated by it and have died. For death
by suffocation through drinking cold water is accidental, while by
thirst it is natural and inevitable.

This state of things is not peculiar to this science only, but is
common to all. How many jurists there are in whom jurisprudence has
become the cause of worldliness and lack of piety? We should say that
a large majority of jurists are of this kind, although their science
should result in better action than other sciences which only lead to
better knowledge.

So far, then, the position is established. Now, we Muslims firmly
believe that our Law is divine and true. This very Law urges us and
brings us to that blessing which is known as the knowledge of God, and
His creation. This is a fact to which every Muslim will bear testimony
by his very nature and temperament. We say this, because temperaments
differ in believing: one will believe through philosophy; while another
will believe through dogmatic discourse, just as firmly as the former,
as no other method appeals to his nature. There are others who believe
by exhortation alone, just as others believe through inferences. For
this reason our divine Law invites people by all the three methods,
which every man has to satisfy, except those who stubbornly refuse to
believe, or those, according to whom these divine methods have not been
established on account of the waywardness of their hearts. This is why
the mission of the Prophet has been declared common to the whole world,
for his Law comprises all the three methods leading men towards God.
What we say is quite clear from the following saying of God: “Invite
men unto the way of the Lord, by wisdom and mild exhortation, and
dispute with them in the most condescending manner.”[9]

As this Law is true and leads to the consideration of the knowledge
of God, we Muslims should believe that rational investigation is not
contrary to Law, for truth cannot contradict truth, but verifies it and
bears testimony to it. And if that is so, and rational observation is
directed to the knowledge of any existent objects, then the Law may be
found to be silent about it, or concerned with it. In the former case
no dispute arises, as it would be equivalent to the absence of its
mention in the Law as injunctory, and hence the jurist derives it from
legal conjecture. But if the Law speaks of it, either it will agree
with that which has been proved by inference, or else it will disagree
with it. If it is in agreement it needs no comment, and if it is
opposed to the Law, an interpretation is to be sought. Interpretation
means to carry the meaning of a word from its original sense to a
metaphorical one. But this should be done in such a manner as will
not conflict with the custom of the Arabian tongue. It is to avoid
the naming of an object, by simply mentioning its like, its cause,
its attribute, or associate, etc. which are commonly quoted in the
definition of the different kinds of metaphorical utterances. And if
the jurist does so in many of the legal injunctions, how very befitting
would it be for a learned man to do the same with his arguments. For
the jurist has only his fanciful conjectures to depend upon, while a
learned man possesses positive ones.

We hold it to be an established truth that if the Law is apparently
opposed to a truth proved by philosophy it admits of an interpretation
according to the canons of the Arabic language. This is a proposition
which a Muslim cannot doubt and a believer cannot mistrust. One who is
accustomed to these things divine can experience for himself what we
have said. The aim of this discourse is to bring together intellectual
and traditional science. Indeed, we would even say that no logical
conclusion will be found to be opposed to the Law, which when sifted
and investigated in its different parts will be found in accordance, or
almost so, with it.

                   *       *       *       *       *

That is why all Muslims are agreed that all the words of the Law are
not to be taken literally, nor all of them given an interpretation.
But they vary in verses, which are or are not to be interpreted.
For example, the Asharites put an interpretation upon the verse
of Equalisation[10] and on the Tradition of Descent,[11] while
the Hanbalites take them literally. The Law has made two sides of
these--exoteric and esoteric--because of the differences of human
nature and minds in verifying a thing. The existence of an opposed
esoteric meaning is in order to call the attention of the learned to
find out a comprehensive interpretation. To this the following verse
of the Quran refers: “It is he who hath sent down unto thee the book,
wherein are some verses clear to be understood--they are the foundation
of the book--and others are parabolical. But they whose hearts are
perverse will follow that which is parabolical therein, out of love of
schism, and a desire of the interpretation thereof; yet none knoweth
the interpretation thereof except God. But they who are well grounded
in knowledge say: We believe therein, the whole is from our Lord, and
none will consider except the prudent.”[12]

Here it may be objected that in the Law there are things which all
Muslims have agreed to take esoterically, while there are others on
which they have agreed to put an interpretation, while there are some
about which they disagree. Is it justifiable to use logic in the
interpretation of those which have been taken literally, or otherwise?
We would say that if the agreement is positive there is no need to
apply logic; but if it be conjectural there is. For this very reason
Abu Hamid (Al Ghazzali) and Abu Ma’ali and other learned doctors have
ordained that a man does not become an unbeliever by forsaking the
common agreement and applying the principle of interpretation in such
things. It will certainly be agreed that complete consensus of opinion
is not possible in metaphysical questions, in the manner in which it is
possible to establish it in practical things. For it is not possible to
establish unanimity of opinion at any time, unless we confine ourselves
to a small period and know perfectly all the learned doctors living in
it, that is, their personalities, their number and their views about
any question to be quoted to us directly from them without a break in
the chain. With all this we should know for certain that the doctors
living at that time are agreed that there is no distinction of exoteric
and esoteric meanings in the Law, that the knowledge of no proposition
should be concealed from anybody, and that the method of teaching the
Law should be the same with all men. But we know that a large number
of people in the early days of Islam believed in exoteric and esoteric
meanings of the Law, and thought that the esoteric meanings should
not be disclosed to an ignorant person who cannot understand them.
For example, Bukhari has related on the authority of Ali that he said
“Talk to men what they can understand. Do you intend to give the lie
to God and His Apostle?” There are many Traditions to the same effect
related from other people. So, how is it possible to conceive of any
consensus of opinion coming down to us in metaphysical questions when
we definitely know that in every age there have been doctors who take
the Law to contain things the real significance of which should not be
disclosed to all men? But in practical affairs it is quite different.
For all persons are of opinion that they should be revealed to all men
alike. In these things unanimity of opinion can be easily obtained if
the proposition is published, and no disagreement is reported. That may
be sufficient to obtain unanimity of opinion in practical things as
distinct from the sciences.

If it be maintained that one does not become an unbeliever by ignoring
consensus of opinion in interpretation, as no unanimity is possible
in it, what shall we say of such Muslim philosophers as Abu Nasr (Al
Farabi) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna)? For Abu Hamid (Al Ghazzali) has
charged them with positive infidelity in his book: _The Refutation
of the Philosophers_, in regard to three things: The eternity of
the world; God’s ignorance of particulars; and the interpretation
concerning the resurrection of bodies and the state of the Day of
Judgment. To this we should reply that from what he has said it
is not clear that he has charged them positively with infidelity.
For in his book _Al Tafriqah bain’al Islami w’al Zindiqah_ he has
explained that the infidelity of a man who ignores the consensus of
opinion is doubtful. Moreover we have definitely pointed out that it
is not possible to establish a consensus of opinion in such matters,
especially when there are many people of the early times who have
held that there are interpretations which should not be disclosed to
all but only to those who are fit for them and those are men who are
“well grounded in knowledge”[13], a divine injunction which cannot
be overlooked. For if such people do not know the interpretation in
these matters they will have no special criterion of truth for their
faith, which the common people have not, while God has described
them as believing in Him. This kind of faith is always produced by
the acceptance of the arguments, and that is not possible without a
knowledge of interpretation. Otherwise, even the common people believe
in the words of God without any philosophy whatever. The faith which
the Quran has especially ascribed to the learned must be a faith
strengthened with full arguments, which cannot be without a knowledge
of the canons of interpretation. For God has said that the Law admits
of interpretation which is its real significance, and this is what is
established by arguments. Yet though this is so, it is impossible to
establish any well grounded consensus of opinion in the interpretations
which God has ascribed to the learned men. That is quite evident to
anyone with insight. But with this we see that Abu Hamid (Al Ghazzali)
has made a mistake in ascribing to the Peripatetic Philosophers the
opinion that God has no knowledge of particulars. They are only of
opinion that the knowledge of God about particulars is quite different
from ours. For our knowledge is the effect of the existence of a thing.
Such knowledge is produced by the existence of a thing, and changes
with changes in the thing. On the other hand the knowledge of God is
the cause of an existent thing. Thus one who compares these two kinds
of knowledge ascribes the same characteristics to two quite different
things--and that is extreme ignorance. When applied both to eternal
and to transitory things the word _knowledge_ is used only in a formal
fashion, just as we use many other words for objects essentially
different. For instance the word _Jalal_ is applied both to great and
small; and _sarim_ to light and darkness. We have no definition which
can embrace both these kinds of knowledge, as some of the Mutakallimun
of our times have thought. We have treated this question separately at
the request of some of our friends.

How can it be supposed that the Peripatetic Philosophers say that God
has no knowledge of particulars when they are of opinion that man is
sometimes warned of the coming vicissitudes of the future through
visions, and that he gets these admonitions in sleep, through a great
and powerful Director, who directs everything? These philosophers
are not only of opinion that God has no knowledge of details such as
we have but they also believe that He is ignorant of universals. For
all known universals with us are also the effect of the existence of
a thing, while God’s knowledge is quite other than this. From these
arguments it is concluded that God’s knowledge is far higher than that
it should be called universal or particular. There is therefore no
difference of opinion concerning the proposition, that is, whether they
are called infidel or not.

As to the eternal or transitory nature of the world: I think that in
this matter the difference of opinion between the Asharite Mutakallimun
and the Ancient Philosophers is for the most part a verbal difference,
at least so far as the opinion of some of the Ancients is concerned.
For they are agreed on the fact that there are three kinds of
creation--the two extremes and a medial one. They again agree on the
nomenclature of the two extremes, but they disagree as to the medial
one. As to the one extreme, it has come into existence from something
other than itself, or from anything else--that is from a generative
cause or matter--while time existed before it. All those things whose
existence is perceived by the senses, as water, animals, vegetation,
etc., are included in this. All Ancient and Asharite philosophers are
agreed in denominating this creation _Originated_.

The other extreme is that which came into existence from nothing, not
out of anything, and time did not precede it. The two parties are
agreed in calling this _Eternal_. This extreme can be reached by logic.
This is God, the Creator, Inventor, and Preserver of all.

The medial kind of creation is that which has neither been made from
nothing, “matter,” nor has time preceded it, but it has been created
by some generative cause. In this is included the whole world. Again
they all agree on the existence of all the three categories of the
universe. The Mutakallimun admit, or they ought to admit, that
before the universe there was no time, for according to them time is
contemporaneous with motion and body. They are also agreed with the
Ancients that future time and creation have no end, but they differ as
to past time and its creation. The Mutakallimun are of opinion that it
had a beginning.

This is the belief of Plato and his disciples, while Aristotle and
his followers are of opinion that it had no beginning, just as the
future has no end. It is clear that the last mentioned kind of creation
resembles both the _originated_ and the _eternal_ creation. So one who
thinks that in the past creation there are more characteristics of the
eternal than the originated takes it to be eternal and vice versa.
But in reality it is neither truly originated nor eternal. For the
originated creation is necessarily subject to destruction while the
eternal is without a cause. There are some, for example, Plato and his
followers, who have called it _infinitely originated_, for according
to them time has no end. There is not here so great a difference about
the universe, for it to be made the basis of a charge of infidelity.
In fact, they should not be so charged at all, for opinions which are
worthy of this are far removed from ours, those quite contrary to them,
as the Mutakallimun have thought them to be in this proposition. I mean
that they take the words _originated_ and _eternal_ to be contrary
expressions, which our investigation has shown not to be the case.

The strange thing about all these opinions is that they are not in
agreement with the literal sense of the Law. For if we look closely
we shall find many verses which tell us of the creation of the
universe--that is, of its _originated_ nature. Creation and time are
said to be without end. For according to the verse: “It is He who hath
created the heavens and the earth in six days, but His Throne was above
the waters before the creation thereof”[14] it is clear that there was
a universe before this one, and that is the throne and the water, and
a time which existed before that water. Then again the verse “The day
will come when the earth shall be changed into another earth and the
heavens into other heavens”[15] shows equally when taken literally that
there will be a universe after this one. Again, the verse: “Then He set
his mind to the creation of heaven and it was smoke”[16] shows that the
heavens were created from something.

Whatever the Mutakallimun say about the universe is not based on a
literal sense of the Law, but is an interpretation of it. For the Law
does not tell us that God was even before mere non-existence, and
moreover, this is not found as an ordinance in it. How can we suppose
that there could be any consensus of opinion about the interpretation
of verses by the Mutakallimun? In fact, there is much in the sayings
of some philosophers which supports what we have quoted from the Law,
taken literally.

Those who differ concerning these obscure questions have either reached
the truth and have been rewarded; or have fallen into error and have
to be excused. For it is compulsory rather than voluntary to believe
a thing to be true, the proof of which has already been established;
that is, we cannot believe or disbelieve it as we like, as it depends
upon our will to stand or not to do so. So, if one of the conditions of
verification be freedom of choice, a learned man, and he alone, should
be held excused, if he makes a mistake on account of some doubt. Hence
the Prophet has said that if a magistrate judges rightly he receives
two rewards, and if he makes a mistake he deserves only one. But what
magistrate is greater than one who judges the universe, whether it
is so or not. These are the judges--the learned men--whom God has
distinguished with the knowledge of interpretation.

It is this kind of mistake of insight which learned people are
quite apt to make when they look into those obscure questions the
investigation of which the Law has imposed upon them. But the mistake
the common people make in these matters is sin pure and simple, whether
in theoretical or in practical things. As a magistrate, ignorant of
Tradition, when he makes mistakes in judgment, cannot be held excused,
so likewise a judge of the universe when not having the qualities of a
judge is also not excusable, but is either a sinner or an unbeliever.
If it be a condition that a magistrate shall have capacity of
arbitration concerning the lawful and the forbidden, that is, knowledge
of the principles of Law and their application through analogy--how
much more befitting it is for an arbitrator of the universe to be armed
with fundamental knowledge of the mental sciences, and the way of
deducing results from them.

Mistake in the interpretation of the Law is thus of two kinds--a
mistake which can be excused in one fit to look into the thing in which
it has been committed, just as an expert physician is excused if he
commits an error in the application of his science; or a magistrate
when he misjudges, and a mistake which is inexcusable in one not fit
to investigate a thing. But the error which cannot be excused for
anybody, and which, if it happens to show itself in relation to the
very principles of the Law, is infidelity, and if in universals is an
innovation, is that error which is committed in those things which have
been settled by all arguments and so the knowledge of them is possible
for everybody, for instance, the acknowledgement of the existence of
God, of Prophecy, and of the happiness or the misery of the next world.
This is so, because all these three principles are proved by those
three methods, the justification of which a man cannot deny by any
means, that is exhortative controversial and argumentative proofs. A
denier of such things, which are the very root of the principle of the
Law, is an unbeliever, a retrograde with his tongue and his heart, or
through negligence, on account of his denying them in spite of proofs.
For if he be a man believing in arguments, he can verify them through
these or if he believes in controversy, he can verify through that;
and if he believes in religions admonitions he can well justify them
through these. And hence the Prophet has said: “I have been commanded
to fight with men till they say: ‘There is no God but Allah’ and
believe in me” that is, by any of these three means of attaining the

But there are things which, on account of their obscurity, cannot be
understood by inference. So, God has favoured such of his creatures
as cannot understand logic, either on account of their nature, habit,
or lack of mental training, by quoting examples and parables of such
things and has urged them to testify as to their truth through them.
For everyone has mental capacity enough to understand them by the
help of dogmatic and exhortatory argument which are common to all
men. This is why the Law has been divided into two kinds: exoteric
and esoteric. The exoteric part consists of those examples which have
been coined to express certain meanings; while the esoteric is the
meanings themselves, which are not manifested except to the learned in

These are the very four or five kinds of methods of knowing reality
mentioned by Abu Hamid (Al Ghazzali) in his book called _Al Tafriqah
bain al Islam wal Zindiqah_. If it so happens as we have said that
we can know of a thing by any of the above mentioned three methods,
then we do not stand in need of any examples for understanding them.
Such things should be taken literally and interpretation should find
no place with regard to them. If these things form a part of the
principles of the Law, one who puts an interpretation upon them is an
infidel. For instance, if a man believes that there is no happiness or
misery in the next world, and that the teaching is only an artifice to
safeguard the life and property of the people from one another and that
there is no goal for men other than this life, then he is certainly an

When this has once been established it will become clear to you that
interpretation is not lawful in the exoteric part of the Law. If the
canon of interpretation be used in the principles of the Law, it is
infidelity, and if used in general things it is an innovation. But
there is also a certain exoteric law which requires an interpretation
from learned men. It is not misbelief for them to take it exoterically,
but it is so or is at least an innovation in religion if ignorant men
try to interpret or explain it.

Among these is the verse of Equalisation and the Tradition of Descent.
For the Prophet said of a Negro slave girl who told him that God was in
heaven: “Emancipate her, for she is a believer.” For there are persons
who cannot believe a thing except through their imagination, that is,
it is difficult for them to believe a thing which they cannot imagine.
Among these may be classed men who cannot understand a thing except
with a reference to space, and hence believe in God as though physical,
notwithstanding that these are the very persons who have dealt very
harshly with those mentioned above. They ought to be told that things
of his character are parabolical, and that we should pause and consider
the saying of God: “Yet none knoweth the interpretation thereof except
God.” Although learned men agree that these are to be interpreted, they
differ in the interpretation according to their knowledge of principles
of philosophy. There is a third part of the Law which occupies an
intermediate position, on account of some doubt about it. Some say that
it should be taken exoterically, and that no interpretation should
be allowed in it; while there are others who say that they have some
esoteric meaning, and should not be taken exoterically by the learned.
This is on account of the obscurity of their meaning. A learned man may
be excused if he makes a mistake about them.

If the Law is divided into these three parts, it may be asked: to which
of these does the description of the state of the Day of Judgment
belong? We would reply that it is quite clear, on the very face of
the question, that it belongs to that part in which there is some
difference of opinion. For one group of men, who class themselves
among philosophers, say that these things should be taken literally.
For, according to them, there is not a single argument which makes
their literal sense absurd and unreasonable. This is the method of the
Asharites. But another group of philosophers interpret them; but they
differ very widely in the interpretation itself. Amongst these may be
mentioned Abu Hamid (Al Ghazzali) and a large number of Sufis. There
are some who would amalgamate the two interpretations, as Abu Hamid has
done in some of his books. These questions are among those in which, if
the learned men err they are to be excused; otherwise, they are to be
thanked and rewarded. For, if one acknowledges the reality of the Day
of Judgment, and then begins to apply the principles of interpretation
to the description, and not its reality, he does not in any way deny
it. A denial of its reality is infidelity, for it is one of the
fundamentals of the Law, and it can be easily verified by any of the
three methods of argument common to all men. But one who is not learned
should take it exoterically, an interpretation in his case is unbelief,
for it leads to infidelity. We are thus of opinion that such people
should accept the literal sense, for interpretation will certainly
lead them to infidelity. A learned man who discloses the discussions
of these things to the common people helps them towards unbelief and
one who abets another in that direction is himself no better than an
unbeliever. It is therefore unsuitable that these interpretations
should be published in any other than learned books, for in this way
they will reach none but the learned. But it is a mistake both in
religion and philosophy if they are put in other books, with dogmatic
and exhortative arguments, as Abu Hamid has done. Although the author’s
intention was good, the idea thus to increase the number of learned
men, he caused a good deal of mischief through it. For, on account of
this method some people began to find fault with philosophy, and others
to blame religion, and still others began to think of reconciling the
two. It seems that this was the very aim which Abu Hamid had in view in
writing these books. He has tried to awaken the nature of men, for he
never attached himself to any particular way of thinking in his books.
He was an Asharite with the Asharites, a Sufi with the Sufis and a
philosopher with the philosophers, so much so that he was, as has been
said: “I am a Yeminite when I meet a Yeminite; if I meet a Ma’adi I am
one of Banu Adnan.”

Hence, it is necessary for the doctors of Islam to prevent men, except
the learned, from reading his books; as it is incumbent upon them to
hinder them from reading controversial writings which should not be
studied except by those fit to do so. As a rule the reading of these
books is less harmful than those of the former. For the majority cannot
understand philosophical books, only those endowed with superior
natures. People are on the whole destitute of learning and are aimless
in their reading which they do without a teacher. Nevertheless they
succeed in leading others away from religion. It is an injustice to
the best kind of men and the best kind of creation; for in their case
justice consists in the knowledge of the best things by the best
people, fit to know it. It should be remembered that the greater the
thing is the higher will be the injustice done to it on account of
ignorance. Hence God says: “Polytheism is a great injustice.”[17]

These things we have thought proper to mention here, that is, in a
discussion of the relation between philosophy and religion and the
canons of interpretation in Law. If these matters had not become
commonly known among men, we would not have said anything about them
and would not have entered in a plea on behalf of the interpreters. For
these things are suitable only for mention in philosophical books.

You ought to be aware that the real purpose of the Law is to impart
the knowledge of truth and of right action. The knowledge of truth
consists in the cognisance of God and the whole universe with its
inner significance, especially that of religion, and the knowledge
of happiness or misery of the next world. Right action consists in
following those actions which are useful for happiness and avoiding
those which lead to misery. The knowledge of these actions has been
called practical knowledge. This is divided into two kinds: external
actions, the knowledge of which is called Fiqh, that is, Theology; and
actions pertaining to feelings, such as gratitude, patience, and other
points of character to which the Law has urged us or from which it has
prohibited us. This is called the knowledge of continence and of the
next world. Abu Hamid in his book _The Revivification of the Sciences
of Religion_ seems to be inclined to this kind, and as the people have
always turned away from the former kind of knowledge and have turned
themselves to the second which leads them easily to piety, the book
attained its name. But we have wandered from our own purpose and will
now return to it.

If the purpose of the Law is to impart the knowledge of truth and
of right action, this cannot be attained except by one of the two
methods: _viz_, by conception or verification such as Mutakallimun have
maintained in their books. There are three methods of verification open
to people: philosophy, dogmatics and exhortation. There are two methods
of conception: either by the thing itself, or by its like. As all
people cannot by their nature understand and accept philosophical and
dogmatic arguments, together with the difficulty of learning the use of
inferences and the long time it takes to learn them, and the purpose
of the Law being to be quite common among men, it is necessary that it
should contain all kinds of verifications and conceptions. Among the
methods of verification there are some which are meant for the common
people: that is, exhortative and dogmatic, the exhortative being more
common than the other. There is one method which is meant solely for
the learned, and that is the method of rational inference. Now, it is
the primary aim of the Law to improve the condition of the many without
neglecting the few, and hence the method of conception and verification
adopted are common to the majority.

These methods are of four kinds: the first is that which, while
in particulars the same in both, that is, both exhortatively and
dialectically, is still true by conception and verification. These
are syllogisms of which the minor and the major premise are certain,
besides being easily imagined and well known. These are set before the
deductions which are drawn from them, and not from their likes. To
this kind of religious injunction there is no interpretation, and one
who denies them or puts an interpretation upon them is an infidel. The
second kind is that the premises of which although well known or easily
imagined are also positively established. Their conclusions are drawn
by analogy. Upon these, that is, their conclusions, an interpretation
may be put. The third kind is just the reverse of the second, that is,
the conclusions are themselves intended and their premises are well
known or easily imagined without being positively established. Upon
these also--that is, upon the conclusions, no interpretation can be
put, but the premises may sometimes be interpreted. The fourth kind is
that the premises of which are well-known or conjectural without being
positively established. Their deductions are by analogy when that is
intended. It is the duty of the learned men to interpret them and of
the common people to take them exoterically.

In short, all that should be interpreted can be grasped by philosophy
alone. So the duty of the learned person is to interpret, and of
the common people to take it literally, both in conception and in
verification. The reason for the latter is that they cannot understand
more. A student of law sometimes finds interpretations which have a
preference over others, in a general way by verification: that is,
the argument is more convincing with the interpretations than with
the literal meanings. These interpretations are common and it is
possible for them to be admitted by any whose speculative faculties
have been developed in controversy. Some of the interpretations of the
Asharites and the Mutazilites are of this type, though the arguments
of the Mutazilites are generally the more weighty. But it is the duty
of the common people who are not capable of understanding more than
exhortation to take them exoterically. Indeed, it is not proper for
them to know the interpretations at all.

Thus there are three groups into which men have been divided: Those who
are not included amongst those who should know the interpretations.
These are common people who are guided by exhortation alone. They
form a vast majority: for there is not a single rational being who
cannot accept a result by this method. The second are dogmatic
interpreters. These are so, either by their nature only, or both by
nature and habit. The third are those who can be definitely called
interpreters. These are the philosophers, both by nature and by
philosophical training. This kind of interpretation should not be
discussed with the dogmatists, not to speak of the common people. If
any of these interpretations are disclosed to those not fit to receive
them--especially philosophical interpretations--these being far higher
than common knowledge, they may be led to infidelity. For he wishes to
nullify the exoteric meaning and to prove his interpretation. But if
the exoteric meaning is shown to be false without the interpretation
being established, he falls into infidelity, if this concerns the
principles of the Law. So, the interpretations should not be disclosed
to the common people, and ought not to be put into exhortative or
doctrinal books--that is, books written with an expository purpose in
view--as Abu Hamid has done.

Hence, it is necessary that the common people should be told that those
things which are exoteric, and yet cannot be understood easily, the
interpretations of which it is impossible for them to understand, are
parabolical, and that no one knows the interpretation thereof except
God. We should stop at the following words of God: “None knoweth the
interpretation thereof except God.”[18] This is also the answer to the
question about some of those abstruse problems which the common people
cannot understand: “They will ask thee concerning the spirit: answer:
The spirit was created at the command of my Lord, but ye have no
knowledge given to you, except a little.”[19] Again, one who interprets
these to persons not fit to receive them is an infidel, because he
leads others to infidelity, which is quite in opposition to the purpose
of the Law. This is especially the case when corrupt interpretations
are put on the principles of the Law, as some men of our own times
do. We have known many people who think they are philosophers and
hence claim to find out strange things through philosophy, which are
in every way contrary to religion, and they do not admit of any other
interpretation. They think they must disclose these things to the
common people. But by the disclosure of wrong notions they lead them to
eternal destruction.

The difference between their aim and that of the jurists can be made
clear by the following example. Since it is not possible to make every
one an expert physician a certain physician laid down some principles
for the preservation of health and the prevention of diseases, and he
allowed the use of some things but prohibited others. Now a man comes
and tells the people that the principles laid down by that physician
are not correct and declares them to be false, and they become
discredited in the eyes of the people; or says that they are capable
of interpretations which they cannot understand and cannot verify by
practice. Do you think that people in these circumstances will ever
act upon those things which are useful for their health and for the
prevention of diseases or that the man himself will ever be capable of
acting on them? No, he will be quite incapable of doing so and thus
will lead them all to destruction.

This is the case when those interpretations which they cannot
understand are correct, to say nothing of those that are wrong. For
they will not believe in health to be preserved, nor disease to be
prevented, to say nothing of the things which preserve health or
prevent disease. This is the condition of that man who discloses
interpretations of the Law to the common people and those not fit to
receive them. And hence he is an unbeliever.

The simile which we have described above is a real parallel, and not
merely fanciful (as some may think) as it is correct in every respect.
For the relation of the medicine to the body is the same as that of the
Law to the soul. A physician is one who seeks to preserve the health
when he finds it good and tries to restore it when it is missed. In the
same way a religious law-giver is one who takes care of the health of
souls, which is called piety. The Quran also makes clear its purpose,
through religious action, by many verses. For instance: “O true
believers, a fast is ordained unto you as it was ordained those before
you, that ye may fear God”[20] and “Their flesh is not accepted of
God, neither their blood; but your piety is accepted by Him”[21] and:
“For prayer preserveth a man from filthy crimes and from that which is
blameable.”[22] There are many other verses of the same nature in the
Quran. Thus, we see, a religious law-giver seeks to establish this kind
of health by religious knowledge and practice. This is the health upon
which depends happiness and in the case of its absence the misery of
the next world.

This should have made it clear to you not merely that one should not
speak of the wrong interpretation. But also that it is not proper to
put even true ones in the books of the common people. These correct
interpretations are of the faith which man has and of which the whole
creation was afraid to bear the burden. By this we refer to the
following verse of the Quran: “We proposed the faith unto the heavens,
and the earth, and the mountains, and they refused to undertake the
same, and were afraid thereof, but man undertook it: verily he is
unjust to himself and foolish.”[23] These interpretations and the
idea that their discussion is necessary in the Law have given rise to
many sects in Islam, so much so that they have denounced one another
with infidelity and innovations. This is especially the effect of
wrong interpretations. The Mutazilites interpreted a large number
of verses and Traditions and disclosed them to the people. So also
did the Asharites, though their interpretations were less in number.
They only succeeded in creating hatred and wars among men, destroying
the Law, and disuniting the people completely. To add to this, the
method which they have adopted in proving these interpretations is
adapted neither to the common people nor to the learned. For if you
look closely into it, you will find that it is not correct according
to the norms of logic--this anyone who has had any training may see
for himself without the least effort. In fact, many of the principles
upon which the Asharites build their conclusions are sophistical in
their nature. They deny many fundamentals, like the proof of accidence,
the influence of one thing upon another, the necessity of cause and
effects, abstract figures and the processes leading to them. Indeed,
Asharite Mutakallimun have been in this respects unjust to Mohammadans,
for one of their sects has denounced as infidels all those who do not
recognise the existence of God by methods which they have devised for
the knowledge of Him: but in truth they themselves are in the wrong and
are unbelievers.

It is upon this point that the difference of opinion arises. Some say
that the first principle is of reason, while others allege that it is
of faith. That is to say they have thought that faith, even before
knowing the methods common to all and to which the Law has made a
call on all, is the only method of arriving at truth. Thus they have
mistaken the real purpose of the Law-giver, and being themselves in the
wrong they have led others astray.

If it be alleged that the method that the Asharites and other
Mutakallimun have devised are not those general methods in the purpose
of the Law-giver for the instruction of the common people, and that it
is not possible without some method being adopted, then the question
arises: What are those methods which are given in the Law? We maintain
that these methods are to be found in the Quran alone. For, if we
look closely we shall find that in the Quran all the three kinds of
methods are laid down, for the whole of mankind, both for the majority
and for the learned few. If we reflect we shall come to see that no
better methods can be discovered for the instruction of the common
people than those mentioned in the Quran. Anyone who changes them by
interpretations which are neither clear in themselves nor clearer than
others to the common people, makes null and void their philosophy and
their effect, the goal of which is the happiness of mankind. This is
quite evident from the early and the later condition of Islam, for in
the early days Muslims sought perfect excellence and piety by acting
on those principles without putting any interpretation upon them. And
those among them who knew any interpretation did not disclose it. In
the later days interpretations were used, and piety decreased, the love
for others was lost, and they became divided into schisms and parties.

Hence one who cares to remove this innovation from the Law, should
turn to the Book, and should pick up from it the existing arguments
for things whose belief is inculcated upon us. Further he should
deeply think over the esoteric meanings, as far as possible, without
putting interpretations upon them, except when they are not quite
clear to all. The assertions of the Book for the instructions of the
people, when thought over are things, with whose help we can reach a
stage from which none but the learned in logic can differ about the
esoteric meaning of that which is not clear. This peculiarity cannot
be found in any other assertions but that of the Book. There are
three peculiarities in the assertions, which have been explained in
the Quran, for the common people. First, that nothing can be found
more convincing and true than these. Secondly, that they can be
accepted by every nature; and they are such that none can know their
interpretations, if there be any, except the learned in logic. Thirdly,
that they possess a call to the righteous, for correct interpretations.
This is neither to be found in the school of the Asharites nor in
that of the Mutazalites _i. e._ their interpretations are neither
generally acceptable, nor do they make any call to the righteous, nor
are they right in themselves. It is for this reason that innovation
has increased, and it is our desire to write about it, as far as it is
possible for us, provided that we get leisure for it, have power to do
it, and God gives us a respite in life. It is just possible that this
may be a beginning for the coming generation; because the breach of
Law, due to evil passions, and changed beliefs is simply aggrieving and
saddening. This is still enhanced by those, who ascribe themselves to
philosophy, because an injury from a friend is worse than the injury
from an enemy. Philosophy is a companion and a foster-sister to the
Law. Hence an injury from this source is the worst kind of injury,
even if we neglect the enmity, hatred, and animosity which is created
between the two, although they are companions by nature and friends
in reality. It has also been injured by many ignorant _friends_ who
ascribe themselves to it. These are the schisms which exist in Islam.
May God set all aright, help all to His love, and bring together their
hearts for piety, and erase enmity and hatred by his favour and grace.

Indeed God has removed much of evil, ignorance and the misleading
ways through this strong government, and has led the many to good,
especially the people who have walked in the path of scholasticism, and
have a liking for the knowledge of the Truth. Because it has called
the people to the knowledge of God by mediate paths, which are higher
than the depressions of the blind followers: and lower than that of the
high-sounding Mutakallimun; and has called the learned to their duty of
considering fully the principles of Law.


[Footnote 1: A translation of Averroes’ Kitab Fasl a’l Maqal wa Taqrir
ma bain’a’l Shariata wa’l Hikmati mina’l Ittisal. Ed. by D. J. Muller,
Philosophie und Theologie von Averroes, Munich 1859.]

[Footnote 2: _i. e._ Shariat. Compare Jewish Torah.]

[Footnote 3: Quran lix, 2.]

[Footnote 4: Quran vii, 184.]

[Footnote 5: Quran vi, 75.]

[Footnote 6: Quran lxxxviii, 17.]

[Footnote 7: Quran iii, 176.]

[Footnote 8: Quran lix, 2.]

[Footnote 9: Quran xvi, 126.]

[Footnote 10: “It is he who hath created you whatsoever is on
earth, and that set His mind to the creation of heaven and formed
it into seven heavens; he knoweth all thing.” Quran ii, 29. For an
interpretation of this see Raji’s _Tafsiri Kabir_ vol. I. p. 249 et
seq. Cairo. 1307. A. H. and Tabari’s _Commentary_ vol. I. p. 146 et
seq. Cairo. 1902 A. D.]

[Footnote 11: “Verily God comes down every night to the earth” (Nibayah
fi Gharibil Hadith by Ibu Athir vol. IV. p. 138 Cairo 1311 A. H.) For
an interpretation see the above and Qustatain’s Commentary on Bukari,
vol. IX p. 178. Cairo. 1307 A. H.]

[Footnote 12: Quran iii, 5.]

[Footnote 13: Quran iii, 5.]

[Footnote 14: Quran xi, 9.]

[Footnote 15: Quran xiv, 19.]

[Footnote 16: Quran xli, 10.]

[Footnote 17: Quran xxxi, 12.]

[Footnote 18: Quran iii, 5.]

[Footnote 19: Quran xvii, 87.]

[Footnote 20: Quran ii, 79.]

[Footnote 21: Quran xxii, 38.]

[Footnote 22: Quran xxix, 44.]

[Footnote 23: Quran xxxiii, 67.]



                        HIS DECISIVE DISCOURSE.

May God perpetuate your honour and bless you, and screen you always
from the eyes of misfortune. Through your excellent intelligence and
good understanding you have learned a great part of all these sciences,
till your insight informed you of the doubt which arises concerning the
eternal knowledge of God, with its being at the same time concerned
with created things. Thus, in the interests of truth, it is now
incumbent upon us to remove the doubt from your mind, after we have
stated it clearly. For one who does not know the problem adequately
cannot very well solve the doubt.

The question may be stated thus: If all this universe was in the
knowledge of God before its creation, then, was it in His knowledge
after its creation as it was before it came into existence; or was it
in His knowledge before its creation quite different from that after
its coming into being? If we say that the knowledge of God about it
after its creation is quite different from that which it was before
its creation, it becomes necessary for us to admit that the eternal
knowledge is changeable; or that when the universe came into existence
out of non-existence, then there is an addition to the eternal
knowledge; which is impossible. Again, if we say that the knowledge of
it was the same in both the conditions, then it would be said: Was the
created universe the same before its coming into existence as it was
after its creation? To this objection it will have to be answered that
it was not the same before its creation as it was after it, otherwise
the existent and the non-existent thing would be the same. When the
opponent has admitted this much, he may be asked whether the real
knowledge does not consist in the cognizance of an existent thing as
it is. If he says: “Yes,” then accordingly it becomes necessary that
when a thing changes in itself the knowledge of it must also change,
otherwise it would be a knowledge of something other than the real
object. Thus it would then be necessary to admit one of two things:
either the eternal knowledge itself will change, or the created things
would be unknown to God. And both of these alternatives are impossible
with regard to God. This doubt is still further strengthened by the
apparent condition of man, that is, the relation of his knowledge
about non-existent things by the supposition of their existence and
its relation when the thing in question is found. It is self-evident
that both kinds of knowledge are different, otherwise God would have
been ignorant of its existence at the time he found it. The argument
which the Mutakallimun advance to meet this objection does not by any
means deliver us from the doubt. They say that God knows the things
before their coming into being, as they would be after they come into
existence. If they say that no change occurs, they fall into mistake.
If on the other hand they admit a change, they may be asked whether
this change was known in the eternal knowledge or not. Thus the first
doubt occurs again. On the whole it is difficult to imagine that the
knowledge of a thing before and after its existence can be one and the

This is the statement of the doubt in the briefest terms possible, as
we have put it for your sake. A solution of this doubt requires a very
long discussion, but here we intend to state a point which might easily
solve it. Abu Hamid (Al Ghazzali) has also tried to solve this doubt in
his work: _The Refutation of the Philosophers_, but his method is by no
means satisfactory. For he says something to this effect: he thinks the
known and the knowledge are not connected with each other, so that when
a change takes place in the one the other does not change in itself. So
it is possible that it may happen in the case of Divine knowledge and
the things existent, that is, they may change in themselves while God’s
knowledge may remain the same. For instance a pillar may be on the
right hand of Zaid, it may be changed to his left without any change
taking place in Zaid himself. But the illustration is not at all a
correct one, for the relation has changed, that is, that which was on
the right side is now on the left. That in which no change has taken
place is the condition of that relation--Zaid. It being so, and the
knowledge is only the relation itself, it is necessary that it should
change with a change in the thing known, as the change in the relation
of the pillar to Zaid, for it is now on the left after being on the

The view which might solve this question is that it should be
maintained that the condition of eternal knowledge of existent things
is quite other than the created knowledge with regard to them. For
the existence of a thing is the cause and means of our knowledge of
it, while the eternal knowledge is itself the cause and means of the
existent thing. So if a change takes place in the eternal knowledge
after the coming into being of an existent thing, as it does in the
created knowledge then it is involved that the former cannot be
the cause but only the effect of the existent things. Thus it is
necessary that there should be no change in it, as there is in the
created knowledge. This mistake always occurs by our taking eternal
knowledge to be like the created one, by an analogy from the seen
to the unseen. The error in this analogy has already been exposed.
Just as no change takes place in any agent after the creation of his
act--that is, change of kind which was not found before--so no change
in the eternal knowledge of God after the creation of the thing which
was in His knowledge. So this doubt is removed. At the same time it
is not necessary for us to say that as there is no change in eternal
knowledge, therefore, He does not know an existent at the time of
its creation, as it is. But we must believe that He knows not by a
created but by His eternal knowledge. For a change in knowledge with
a change of the existent thing is a condition of the knowledge which
depends upon the existent thing, such a knowledge being created. Thus
the relation of the eternal knowledge with the existent things is not
the same as that of the created knowledge. It is not that there is
no connection between them at all as some philosophers are said to
maintain, who as the people think, say, at the time of doubt, that
God has no knowledge of particulars at all. But this is not as is
commonly supposed. They only say that He does not know particulars by
any created knowledge, one of the conditions of which is its being
created by them, by which it is an effect and not a cause. This is the
last of the things about it which must be remembered. For our reason
leads us to the fact that God is the Knower of things, all of them
emanating from Him. This is so because He is a knower, not because
of His existence, nor of His existence in any form, but only because
of His being a Knower. God has said, “Shall not He know all things
who hath created them, since He is the sagacious, the knowing.”[24]
The arguments also tell us that He knows by a knowledge which may be
akin to created knowledge. So it is necessary that there should be
some other knowledge for the existent things--and this is the eternal
of God. Moreover, how is it possible to suppose that the Peripatetic
Philosophers think that the eternal knowledge does not include
particulars, while they say that these are a cause of admonition to us
in our dreams, divine revelations, and other kinds of inspiration?

That is what we think about the solution of the problem--a solution in
which there is no doubt or suspicion. God is the only helper to right
judgment, and leader to truth. Peace be upon you, and blessings of God
and His beatitude. God is the best knower of truth: and to Him is the
return and the refuge.


[Footnote 24: Quran lxvi, 14.]



                       THE BELIEFS OF THE FAITH

And after--Praise be to God, who sets apart anyone whom He will for His
knowledge, rendering him fit for understanding His Law and following
His path, informing him of the hidden recesses of His knowledge, the
real meaning of His inspiration, and the purpose of sending the Apostle
to creatures, in spite of what has become clear about the doubt of the
doubters among the Prophet’s own followers, and changes of meanings
introduced by the false among his own people. He has disclosed to him
that there are interpretations which God and His Apostle have not
ordered. May there be the most perfect blessings upon the Trusty of
His inspiration, and the Seal of His prophets, and upon his family and

We have already described in the foregoing tractate the conformity of
philosophy with the Law, and its other relations. We have said there
that the Law is of two kinds: exoteric and esoteric. The duty of the
common people is to follow the exoteric law; while the duty of learned
men is to follow the esoteric one. So the duty of the common people
is to follow the meanings of the Law in their literal sense, leaving
aside every interpretation of it. The learned men are not permitted
to expose their interpretations to the common people, as Ali, (upon
whom be peace) has said, “Tell the people what they can understand. Do
you wish to give the lie to God and His Apostle?” So I thought that
in the present book I should examine the exoteric meanings which the
Law intends the common people to follow, and in those, search the real
purpose of the Law-giver, (on whom be peace) according to my ability
and knowledge. For the people of His Law have been extremely disturbed,
so much so that many misguided sects and different divisions, have been
produced, every one of which thinks that it is following the best Law,
and that he who disagrees is either an innovator or an infidel whose
life and property is at stake. All this is directly opposed to the
purpose of the Law-giver. Its cause lies in the misleading things about
the Law which have been put forward.

In our own times, there are four of these sects which are famous. In
the first place, there is the sect of the Asharites, and these are
the people who are commonly taken to be men of _Sunna_. Then there
are Mutazilites, the sects of the Batinites, (Esoteric), and the
sect of the Bombasts. Every one of these sects has its own peculiar
beliefs about God, and has turned many an exoteric word of the law
to interpretations, which they have applied to those beliefs. They
think that theirs was the original Law which all the people are asked
to follow, and he who deviates from it is either an innovator or an
infidel. But when you look into all their views and then examine the
purpose of the Law, it would appear that a great part of them are
recent opinions and innovating interpretations. Of them I will mention
here those indispensable beliefs in the Law, without which Faith does
not become complete, and will search, in every one of them, the real
purpose of the Law-giver, (peace be upon him,) beyond that which has
been made the basis of the Law, and its beliefs before the coming
into use of incorrect interpretations. I will begin by explaining the
intention of the Law-giver as to the beliefs which should be held by
the common people about God, and the methods which He adopted towards
them. All this is contained in the Divine Book. We will begin by an
exposition of the methods which leads to the knowledge of the existence
of the Creator, for this is the first thing which a student ought to
know. But before this, it is necessary that we should mention the
opinions of the well-known sects.

The _Bombasts_ hold that the method of obtaining knowledge of the
existence of the Creator is by hearing and not by reason, that is,
the belief in His existence, the verification of which is incumbent
upon all men, is enough to be taught by the Law-giver, and believed
as an article of Faith, as is the case with his teachings about the
condition of the Day of Judgment, and others with which our reason has
no power to deal. This is obviously a misleading sect, for it falls
short of the purpose of the Law, as regards the method adopted towards
all the people, leading them to the knowledge of the existence of God,
and calling them to the confession of His belief. It is quite evident
from many verses of the Divine Book, that in it the people have been
called to verify the existence of the Creator by arguments of reason
which are mentioned in it. For instance, there are the following verses
of the Quran, “O men of Mecca, serve your Lord who has created you
and those before you,”[26] and “Is there any doubt concerning God,
the Creator of heaven and earth?”[27] and other verses on the subject
found therein. It is not fit for a man to say, that if these arguments
had been necessary for believing in God--that is, had his faith been
not completed without understanding them--the Prophet would not have
invited anybody to Islam without presenting to him all these arguments,
for the Arabs already knew the existence of the Creator, so that God
has said, “If thou asketh them who has created the heavens and the
earth, they will surely answer, God,”[28] and hence there was no use
giving arguments. It is impossible to find a man so stupid and dull,
that he cannot understand the arguments advanced by Law for the common
people, through the Prophet. This is to say the least. If there be
found such a man, then it is his duty to believe in God by hearing
alone. So much for the ideas of the _Bombasts_ about the exoterics of
the Law.

The _Asharites_ are of opinion that the verification of the existence
of God cannot be attained but by reason. But about this they have
adopted a method, which is not among the methods adopted by Law, and
is not mentioned in the Quran, nor the people invited through it to
believe. Their well-known method is founded upon the fact that the
universe is a created thing, which is itself based upon the theory
of the composition of atoms, and that the atom is a created thing,
and that other bodies are created out of it. The method which they
adopt for the exposition of the creation of an atom, which they call
_al-Jauharat u’l Faridah_ (sole Essence), is a misleading one even for
many religious men in the business of controversy, not to speak of the
common people. And despite this it is a method devoid of philosophy,
and does not lead to a belief in the existence of the Creator. For if
we suppose the universe is a created thing, it becomes necessary, as
they say, that its Creator must also be a “Created” object. But a doubt
presents itself about the existence of this created thing, which is
not in the power of scholastic theology to solve. And that is this,
that we can take this thing to be neither eternal nor created. For if
we take it as created, then it must require another created thing, and
this another, and so on to infinity. This is impossible. On the other
hand, if we take Him as eternal, then it is necessary that his action
in connection with the result must also be eternal. In this way the
results also become eternal. It is necessary for a created thing that
its existence be dependent upon a created action. Their hypothesis can
only be proved if they admit that a created action can be performed by
an eternal agent. For the result of the action might be dependent on
the action of the agent. But they do not admit it, for according to
their principles what is coeval with created things is itself created.
Moreover, if the agent sometimes acts and at other times remains
inactive, it is necessary, that there be a condition better applicable
in one state of things than in the other. Then about this condition
the same question will rise, and so it will go on till infinity. And
what the Mutakallimun say in answer to this objection that the created
action is the result of eternal intention, does not relieve us of our
doubt or satisfy our mind. For intention without action is dependent
upon the act, and if the act is a created thing, then it is necessary
that the intention in connection with it must also be a created thing.
It makes no difference whether we take the intention as eternal or
created, rising before the action or with it. So we may take it as
we like. All the same it is necessary for them to admit either of
the three things about the universe--either a created action, with a
created intention or a created action and an eternal intention, or
an eternal action with an eternal intention. But a created thing is
impossible from an eternal action without any expedient, even if we
admit for their sake, that it comes into existence by eternal action;
and putting intention itself or the action, connected with the act is a
thing which cannot be understood. This is supposing an act without an
agent, with a result, without any intention. Intention is a condition
of the action and not the action itself. Also it is necessary that this
eternal intention, should be connected with non-existence of a created
thing, for a period of time which is indefinite. So if a created thing
be non-existence for an unknown period of time, then it does not become
connected with the intention at the time of its creation, except after
the completion of a time of which there is no limit, and that which has
no limit has no end. So it becomes necessary that the intention should
never take the form of action, or a time without limit should come to
an end, which is impossible. This is the argument of the Mutakallimun,
on which they rely in proving that the revolutions of the heavens are
created. Moreover, it is necessary that to the intention which precedes
the object, and is connected with it, at a certain time, there should
be created in it at the time of creation of the object a determination
for doing so. For the determination for the creation of an object
cannot be found before that time, because if at the time of action
there be found no additional quality in the agent, than that he had at
the time of intention, then action from him at that time would not be
quite as necessary from him as inactivity. We may go on in this way,
finding all the obscure and intricate doubts, from which, not to speak
of the common people, even clever men, learned in scholastic theology,
in philosophy, cannot escape. So if the common people be burdened with
a knowledge of these things, it would be an unbearable problem for them.

Then again the methods adopted by the Asharites in proving the
creation of the universe are defective for all classes of men. The
common people, by their very nature, cannot understand them, and
they are at the same time in no way reasonable. So they are neither
fit for the learned, nor for the masses. We warn our readers of them
and say: The methods which they adopt are of two kinds. One of them,
the more famous of the two and upon which a majority of them relies,
is based upon three premises, from which they derive the proof for
the creation of the universe. They are: (1) that essences cannot be
separated from accidents, that is, they cannot be devoid of them; (2)
that the accidents are created things; (3) that that which cannot be
separated from a created thing is itself created, that is, that which
cannot be severed from the created thing is itself created. Now, if
by the first premise which says that the essences cannot be separated
from the accidents, they mean the bodies which stand by themselves,
then the premise is correct. But if by essence they mean the particle
which cannot be divided, which they call _Sole Essence_, then there is
doubt about it, which is not easy to solve. For the existence of an
indivisible essence is not well established in itself, and about it
there are many opposite and highly contradictory opinions, and it is
not in the power of scholastic theology to bring truth out of them.
That is the business of philosophers who are very few in number.

The arguments which Asharites use are for the most part exhortative.
For their famous argument on this is that they say that our first
knowledge about a thing is, for instance, that an elephant is bigger
than an ant, for it is accepted that the former has more particles in
it than the latter. If it be so, then it is made up of particles and is
not a compact whole in itself. So when the body is destroyed it changes
into particles, and when composed it is composed of them. But this is
wrong. For they have taken a divisible quantity as a continuous one,
and then thought that that which is applicable to the divisible is also
applicable to the continuous. This is true about numbers, that is, we
say that a certain number is more than the other, by its containing
more particles in it, that is, more units. But it cannot be true of
a continuous quantity, of which we say that it is bigger or greater.
In this way everything may be enumerated without any reference to its
bulk at all. And the science of mathematics becomes the science of
number only. It is well-known that every bulk can be considered with
regard to line, surface and volume. Moreover, a continuous quantity
it is possible to cut in the middle and thus get two parts. But this
is impossible in the units of number, nay, it is opposed to it. Then,
again, the body and other particles of a continuous quantity are
capable of being divided. But everything divisible is either divided
into other divisible quantities, or into indivisible ones. If it is
divided into indivisible ones then we have found particles which cannot
be divided. And if it is divided into other divisible parts, then again
the question arises whether these can be divided into divisible or
indivisible parts. So if it can be divided a limitless number of times,
there would be limitless particles in a limited thing. But it is one of
the primary principles of knowledge that particles in a limited thing
are limited.

Among the obscure doubts which can be attributed to the Asharites
is the question whether if an atom is brought into being, this is
different from creation itself, for it is one of the accidents? When
the created thing exists the act of creation is non-existent for
according to their principles, the accidents cannot be separated from
their essences. So this has compelled them to regard creation as
pertaining to the existent things and not for it. Then they may be
asked; if creation implies the non-existence of a thing, with what
is the act of the agent connected, for, according to them, there is
no mean between existence and non-existence. If this be so, and,
according to them, the action of the agent is connected neither with
non-existence, nor with that which is and nevertheless brings about an
existence, it must be connected with a middle substance. This doubt
has compelled the Mutazilites to say that there is a substance, even
in non-existence, which they call Matter or First Element. They should
admit that that which is non-existent can be made existent by action.
Both of these sects must also admit the existence of a void. These are
questions, which as you see, cannot be solved by dogmatics. Thus, it
is clear that such a method cannot be made a basis of the knowledge
of God, especially for the masses. We will shortly describe a clearer
method of knowing God.

Now as to the second premise, according to which it is said that all
the accidents are created things:--This is a premise concerning which
there are doubts, and its meaning is as hidden as the soul in a body.
For we have observed many bodies to be created and such is also the
case with some accidents. So there is no difference in transferring
an observed object to the invisible, in both the cases. For if it is
necessary, with regard to accidents, to apply what applies of the
visible things to the invisible, that is, if we should suppose a thing
which we have not seen, so created, by the analogy of that which we
have observed, then we should also apply it to the essences. Thus we
can become quite careless of proving the creation of accidents, as
distinct from that of essences. The creation of the accidents of the
heavenly bodies is extremely doubtful to the observer just as there is
doubt in their essential creation. For the creation of their accidents
is never perceived. So it is necessary that we should clearly observe
them. This is the method which surely and certainly leads pious people
to the knowledge of God. This is the method of the chosen men, and that
with which God has particularly blessed the prophet Abraham. He says:
“And thus did We show unto Abraham the kingdom of heaven and earth,
that he might become of those who firmly believe.”[29] For the whole
doubt concerns the heavenly bodies themselves. Many controversialists
have stopped here and believed that these are so many gods.

Again, time is one of the accidents, the creation of which it is
impossible to imagine, for it is necessary that the non-existence of
a thing be preceded by time. But in this case it cannot be imagined
that the non-existence of a thing can be preceded by itself, except
by accepting time as existent. So also it is difficult to imagine the
creation of the space in which the universe is, for every existent
thing occupies a former space. For if it is a void, as is the opinion
of those who think that the void itself is space, its creation also,
if we suppose it to be created, must been have preceded by another
void. And if the space be a tangible body, as is the opinion of another
group, then it should be contained in another body, which would require
another, and so on without limit. These are all obscure problems
and the arguments which are brought to disprove the eternity of the
accidents, are necessary for one who believes in the eternity of those
accidents which can be perceived; that is, one who asserts that not all
the accidents are created. For they say that the accidents which can be
perceived by the senses are created things. If they are not created,
then they will move from one place to another, or will be latent in the
place in which they are to appear, before they make their appearance.
Then they disprove both of these arguments, and think that they have
established that all the accidents are created things. But it has
become apparent from what they have said, that the apparently created
portions of the accidents are created, not those whose creation is not
apparent, nor those in whose case there is doubt, such as the accidents
which are in the heavenly bodies, in their movement, in their shape,
etc., etc. So their arguments about the creation of all accidents, can
be interpreted by the analogy of the visible to the invisible. This
is an exhortative argument, except in the suggestion of reasonable
arguments which depend here on the certainty of the similarity of the
character of the visible and the invisible.

The third premise which says, that that which cannot be separated
from a created thing is itself created, is equivocal, for it can be
understood in two ways: the thing which cannot be separated from the
class of created things, but can be removed from its units; and that
which cannot be separated from any one of the things in question, as if
one were to say, “That which cannot be separated from this blackness
in question.” The second meaning is the correct one, that is it cannot
be separated from a certain accident, which is created, for it is
absolutely necessary that it should also be a created thing. For if it
be eternal it becomes devoid of that accident, from which we suppose
that it cannot separate. This separation is impossible. The first
explanation, and that is which they mean, does not necessarily involve
the creation of place, that is, that which is not separated from the
class of created things. For it is possible to imagine a single place,
that is, a body upon which follow accidents without limit, either
opposed to one another or otherwise, as you were to say, movements
without limit. Such is the opinion of many ancient philosophers about
the universe, that it is made little by little. This is why, when
the Mutakallimun saw the weakness of this premise, they resolved to
make it strong and secure, by making it clear, that according to
them, limitless accidents cannot follow upon a single point. For they
maintain that on this occasion it is necessary that there cannot be
found any other accident, except that there be an unlimited number of
accidents before it at the place in question. This helps them to the
impossibility of their presence, for it is necessary that it should
not be there, except after the completion of an unlimited number. As
the limitless never ends, it follows that the thing which we have
supposed should not be there. For instance, consider the movement
of the heavenly bodies, as we know them today. If there were before
it limitless movements, then it is inevitable that this particular
movement should not occur. They give the example of a man, who said
to another, “I will not give you this dinar, till I have given you
before it a limitless number of dinars.” By this it is not possible
for him to give the dinar in question at all. But this example is not
a correct one. For in it there is a primary object, then a limit, and
then another object between them, which is without limit. For he has
said it in a limited time. So he has stipulated that he would give the
dinar between the time in which he is, and the time of which he speaks,
between which there is a time without limit. This is the period in
which he would give him the dinars without limit, which is impossible.
So it is quite clear that this example does not illustrate the object
for which it is given. Their opinion that the existence of a thing
which is found after limitless things, is impossible, is not correct
in all the cases. For the things which happen one after another are of
two kinds: those which come to pass in cycles, and those which occur in
order and arrangement. The things which occur in cycles are necessarily
unlimited, except that something may interfere to prevent them. For
instance if the sun rises there must be its setting; if there is a
setting then it must rise, and if it rise it must have risen before.
In the same way, if there are clouds there must be vapours rising from
the earth; if there rise vapours from the earth, then it must be wet,
if the earth is wet, there must have been rain, and if there was rain
there must have been clouds, and if thus there were clouds there must
similarly have been clouds before them. Again among those things which
happen by order, is, for instance, the creation of man from man, and of
that man from another. If this happens by essence then it can be taken
as limitless, for which the first link is not found, the last also
cannot be ascertained. If this is by accident, as for instance, if man
be really made by some one other than man, who must be his father, then
the position of his father would be the same as that of an instrument
in the hands of a maker. So it is not possible to find an agent doing
limitless actions, with countless different instruments. All these
views are not clear in this connection. We have mentioned them here,
that it may become known, that the arguments which these people advance
are no arguments at all, nor are they reasonings fit for the masses,
that is, open and clear arguments which God has imposed upon all his
creatures for the sake of belief. It must now have become clear to you
that this method is neither philosophical nor according to Law.

The other method is that which Abul Maali has deduced and described
in one of his tractates known as _Nizamiyyah_. He has based it upon
two premises: in the first place, that the universe and all that it
contains may be conceived as other than what it really is. It may be
quite consistent, for instance, if it may be imagined smaller than it
is, or bigger, or of some other shape than it really has or having more
bodies in number than it really contains or the movements which are
made in it may go in the opposite direction from that which they take
now. This may be so much so that it may become possible that a stone
should go upwards, and fire downwards, or that the movement starting
in the east should start in the west, or the western from the eastern.
The second premise is that every transient thing is created, and for it
there is a creator; that is, an agent who made it in this way better
than in any other.

The first premise is exhortative and very elementary. Its fallacy
is quite apparent with regard to some aspects of the universe--for
instance, the existence of man in some other form than he now
possesses; while in some others there is doubt--for instance, whether
the movement from the east might change to one from the west and _vice
versa_, for this is not known in itself. It is possible that for this
there may be a cause the existence of which is not evident, or it may
be one of those causes which are hidden from man. It is possible that
whatever of these things a man sees, is like one seeing for the first
time things of the manufacture of which he is ignorant. For such a
man may think that all or parts of the thing may possibly be made in
just the opposite fashion from that in which they really are made; and
still in spite of this idea the same work may be obtained from them
for which they were made. In this case there would be no art in them.
But its maker, and one who is associated with the maker in some of
his knowledge, know that the whole thing is just the opposite of what
that man has seen; and that there is nothing in it but that which is
absolutely necessary, or the existence of which makes it more perfect
and complete, though outwardly it may not seem quite necessary in it.
It is quite clear that this manufactured thing, may in this connection,
be taken as an illustration of God’s Creation--praised be its Great

This premise in being exhortative might be fit for all, but being
untrue and falsifying the wisdom of the Creator, is not fit for any.
It falsifies philosophy, because philosophy is nothing else but the
knowledge of the causes of things. If there be no necessary causes for
a thing, which make its existence necessary in the form in which it
exists, then there is no particular knowledge which may be attributed
to the wise Creator. Just as if there had not been some necessary
causes for the existence of any manufactured thing, there would have
been no art at all, and no wisdom by which its maker might be praised,
and which might not be found in any man other than the maker. Where
would be found any wisdom in a man, if he could perform all his actions
by any member of his body, or without any member at all, so much
so that he could see with his ears, as he could see with his eyes,
or smell with his eyes as he could with his nose. This is all only
falsifying philosophy, and the meaning for which God has called himself
Wise (_Hakim_)--High and Holy be his name from such imputations. We find
that Avicenna has also adopted this doctrine, for many reasons. He says
that everything, except the maker, when taken by itself, may either
be possible or allowable. Of the latter--that is, things allowable,
there are two kinds: One is allowable as regards its maker, the
other is necessary as regards the maker; and possible as regards its
essence. The only thing which is necessary, according to all reasons,
is the first maker. This opinion is extremely incorrect. Because that
which is possible in itself and its essence, will not possibly turn a
necessity beyond its maker, but by a change of the possible nature into
a necessary one. If it be said that by these words he means “Possible
with regard to itself”, that is, when the maker arises it will rise
also, then we would say that this rising is impossible. But this is
not the place to discuss the matter with this man. We ventured to talk
of him, because of the many views which he has invented. Now we would
return to our former theme. The second premise, which says that every
transient thing is created, is not in itself obvious. The philosophers
have differed about it. Plato allows that the apparently transient
thing may be eternal, while Aristotle denies it. It is a very intricate
matter, and cannot be made clear except to the philosophers, that is,
learned men, whom God has set apart for His knowledge, and has in His
Book, coupled their witness with that of Himself and His angels.

Abul Maali has tried to make the premise clear by some other premises.
First, that there should be something unique in every transient thing,
which may make it more preferable by one of the two qualities. Second,
that this particular thing cannot be any other than that intended.
Third, that the thing which exists by intention is created. Then he
says that a transient thing comes into existence by our intention,
that is it is produced by previous volition. For all the actions are
performed either by nature or by intention. And nature is not one of
the passing things which are alike, that is, it not only creates the
dissimilar but does the both. For instance, sea-anemone will absorb
the yellow lob in the right side of the body and not in the left.
But intention is the thing which is particularly applicable to a
thing opposed to its like. Then he adds that the universe is like its
creation and exists in the position in the atmosphere where it was
made. By the void he means another void in which the world was made. So
he concluded that the universe was made by intention. The premise which
says that it is intention which fixes the shape of a thing, is correct,
but that universe is surrounded by a void is wrong, or at least not
clear. Then again according to their notions, his act of placing the
void is bad. That is, it must be eternal, otherwise it would require
another void for it. The premise saying that in this connection
intention is nothing but a created thing is not clear. For the
intention of an action is connected with the desired act itself, for it
is one of its adjuncts. And it is clear that when one adjunct is found
with the action the other must be there, for example the father and the
son. If one be found potentially the other must also be so. Hence if
the intention of the action is created, then necessarily the desired
act must also be created. If the intention of the action be eternal,
then the thing desired by that action must also be eternal. The
intention which precedes the intended object, is said to be a potential
intention only; that is, the intention which has not yet brought its
intended object into being. This is quite clear, for when the intended
object has appeared, then it becomes an existent thing, which it was
not before the appearance of the intended object in action. When this
becomes the cause of the creation of an intended thing, only by means
of action, then, if the Mutakallimun assert that intention is created,
it becomes clear that the intended object must also be created. From
the Law it is clear that there is no need to go so deeply into the
problem as far as the masses are concerned. So it has not mentioned any
eternal or created intention, but has only said that it exists and the
things are created. So God says:--“Verily, Our speech upon anything
when We will the same is, that We only say unto it, Be; and it is.”[30]
This has been so because the masses cannot understand the idea of
created things from an eternal intention. But the fact is that the Law
has not mentioned whether the intention is created or eternal, this
being a doubtful thing for many people. The Mutakallimun have also no
certain argument to advance for providing the possibility of a created
intention for creation. For the principle with which they maintain
their position for negating the existence of intention as eternal, is
the premise which we have already mentioned, that is, the thing which
cannot be separated from the created thing is itself created. We will
mention this again when talking of intention.

From the foregoing it has become clear that the well-known methods
adopted by Asharites for the knowledge of God are certain neither
philosophical, nor by Law. This would be quite clear to anyone who
would look closely into the kind of arguments advanced in the Divine
Book about the knowledge of the existence of the Creator. For if you
look closely into this matter you will find that the arguments comprise
both qualities, those of being certain and at the same time clear,
without being complex, that is, they have few premises.

As to the Sufis their method in theorising is not a philosophical
method--that is, made up of a number of premises, and syllogisms.
They maintain that the knowledge of God, or of anything existent,
is found in our own hearts, after its detachment from all physical
desires, and concentration of mind upon the desired object. In support
of their principle they bring many an argument from the exoteric side
of Law. For instance they quote the Divine words, “And fear God, and
God will instruct you,”[31] and, “Whoever do their best endeavour to
prompt our true religion, We will direct them unto Our ways;”[32] and
again, “If ye fear God, He will grant you a distinction,”[33] and
many other verses of this kind which are considered to be helpful for
their purpose. We say that this method, if we suppose it to be real,
is not meant for all people. Had this method been satisfactory for all
people then the philosophical method would have been quite futile, and
its existence among the people would have been useless, and with it
the existence of the Quran. For that always invites us to theorising,
judging, and admonishing by way of philosophy. We of course do not
deny that the control of physical desires is a condition for healthy
thinking, as physical health is one of its conditions. For the control
of desires is profitable in acquiring knowledge by itself, if it be
made a condition for it, just as health is a condition for education,
though it is not very useful for it. That is why our Law has invited
all of us to this method and has insisted upon it, that is, for work,
not that it is sufficient in itself, as these people think, but that
it is useful for thinking as we have already described. This would be
quite clear to any one who cares to ponder and think over it.

As to the Mutazilites--their books have not reached us in sufficient
number in this Peninsula (Spain) that we may be able to form a fair
estimate of the method which they have adopted in this matter. But it
seems that their methods are like those of the Asharites.

If now that it is clear that none of these methods are in accordance
with that by which the Law invites all the people, according to the
difference in their dispositions, to a confession of the existence
of God, it may be asked: What is that method which the Law has
laid down in the Divine Book, and upon which the Companions of the
Prophet depended? We would say that the method which the Divine Book
has adopted, and by which it has invited all to believe, is, when
thoroughly investigated from the Quran, dependent upon two principles.
The one is a knowledge of God’s solicitude for man, and the creation of
everything for his sake. We would call this the argument of solicitude.
The second is the creation of the essences of the existent things, as
for example, the creation of life in the minerals, and feeling and
intelligence. We would call this method the “argument of creation.”
The first method is founded upon two principles: first that all the
existent things suit man; secondly, that this suitability must have
existed in the mind of the Maker before He intended to make the object
in question, for it cannot be obtained by chance alone. Now their
suitability for the existence of man can be easily ascertained by the
suitability of day and night, sun and moon, for the existence of man.
Such is also the case with the suitability of the four seasons, and of
the place in which he lives, that is, the earth. It is also apparent
with respect to animals, vegetables, and minerals; and many other
things, such as rain, rivers, seas, the whole of the earth, water,
fire and air. It is also evident from the different members of his
body, on account of their suitability for the preservation of his life
and existence. On the whole, a knowledge of the benefit derived from
all the existent things may be included in it. So it is necessary for
a man who wants to know God perfectly, to investigate the benefits
derived from existent things. In the argument of creation is included
the existence of the animal world, the plant world, and the heavens.
This method is again based upon two principles, which can be found out
by every man by his very nature. The one is that all things have been
made and created. This is quite clear in itself, in the case of animals
and plants, as God has said, “Verily the idols which ye invoke, beside
God, can never create a single fly, though they may all assemble for
that purpose.”[34] We see an inorganic substance and then there is life
in it. So we know for certain, that there is an inventor and bestower
of life, and He is God. Of the heavens we know by their movements,
which never become slackened, that they work for our benefit by divine
solicitude, and are subordinate to our welfare. Such an appointed and
subordinate object is always created for some purpose. The second
principle is that for every created thing there is a creator. So it is
right to say from the two foregoing principles that for every existent
thing there is an inventor. There are many arguments, according to
the number of the created things, which can be advanced to prove this
premise. Thus it is necessary for one who wants to know God as He
ought to be known, to acquaint himself with the essence of things, so
that he may get information about the creation of all things. For who
cannot understand the real substance and purpose of a thing, cannot
understand the minor meaning of its creation. It is to this that God
refers in the following verse, “Or do they not contemplate the heaven
and the earth, and the things which God has created?”[35] And so a
man who would follow the purpose of philosophy in investigating the
existence of things, that is, would try to know the cause which led to
its creation, and the purpose of it would know the argument of kindness
most perfectly. These two arguments are those adopted by Law.

The verses of the Quran leading to a knowledge of the existence of God
are dependent only on the two foregoing arguments. It will be quite
clear to anyone who will examine closely the verses, which occur in the
Divine Book in this connection. These, when investigated, will be found
to be of three kinds: either they are verses showing the “arguments of
kindness,” or those mentioning the “arguments of creation,” or those
which include both the kinds of arguments. The following verses may
be taken as illustrating the argument of kindness. “Have we not made
the earth for a bed, and the mountains for stakes to find the same?
And have we not created you of two sexes; and appointed your sleep
for rest; and made the night a garment to cover you; and destined the
day to the gaining of your livelihood and built over you seven solid
heavens; and placed therein a burning lamp? And do we not send down
from the clouds pressing forth rain, water pouring down in abundance,
that we may thereby produce corn, and herbs, and gardens planted thick
with trees?”[36] and, “Blessed be He Who hath placed the twelve signs
in the heavens; hath placed therein a lamp by day, and the moon which
shineth by night;”[37] and again, “Let man consider his food.”[38]
The following verses refer to the argument of invention, “Let man
consider, therefore of what he is created. He is created of the seed
poured forth, issuing from the loins, and the breast bones;”[39] and,
“Do they not consider the camels, how they are created; the heaven,
how it is raised; the mountains, how they are fixed; the earth how it
is extended;”[40] and again, “O man, a parable is propounded unto you;
wherefore hearken unto it. Verily the idols which they invoke, besides
God, can never create a single fly, though they may all assemble for
the purpose.”[41] Then we may point to the story of Abraham, referred
to in the following verse, “I direct my face unto Him Who hath created
heaven and earth; I am orthodox, and not of the idolators.”[42] There
may be quoted many verses referring to this argument. The verses
comprising both the arguments are also many, for instance, “O men,
of Mecca, serve your Lord, Who has created you, and those who have
been before you: peradventure you will fear Him; Who hath spread the
earth as a bed for you, and the heaven as a covering, and hath caused
water to descend from heaven, and thereby produced fruits for your
sustenance. Set not up, therefore, any equals unto God, against your
own knowledge.”[43] His words, “Who hath created you, and those who
have been before you,” lead us to the argument of creation; while the
words, “who has spread the earth” refer to the argument of divine
solicitude for man. Of this kind also are the following verses of the
Quran, “One sign of the resurrection unto them is the dead earth; We
quicken the same by rain, and produce therefrom, various sorts of
grain, of which they eat;”[44] and, “Now in the creation of heaven and
earth, and the vicissitudes of night and day are signs unto those who
are endowed with understanding, who remember God standing, and sitting,
and lying on their sides; _and meditate on the creation of heaven and
earth, saying O Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain, far be it
from Thee, therefore deliver us from the torment of hell fire_.”[45]
Many verses of this kind comprise both the kinds of arguments.

This method is the right path by which God has invited men to a
knowledge of His existence, and informed them of it through the
intelligence which He has implanted in their nature. The following
verse refers to this fixed and innate nature of man, “And when the
Lord drew forth their posterity from the loins of the sons of Adam,
and took them witness against themselves, Am I not your Lord? They
answered, Yea, we do bear witness.”[46] So it is incumbent for one who
intends to obey God, and follow the injunction of His Prophet, that
he should adopt this method, thus making himself one of those learned
men who bear witness to the divinity of God, with His own witness, and
that of His angels, as He says, “God hath borne witness, that there is
no God but He, and the angels, and those who are endowed with wisdom
profess the same; who executeth righteousness; there is no God but He;
the Mighty, the Wise.”[47] Among the arguments for both of themselves
is the praise which God refers to in the following verse, “Neither is
there any thing which doth not celebrate his praise; but ye understand
not their celebration thereof.”[48]

It is evident from the above arguments for the existence of God that
they are dependent upon two categories of reasoning. It is also clear
that both of these methods are meant for particular people; that is,
the learned. Now as to the method for the masses. The difference
between the two lies only in details. The masses cannot understand the
two above mentioned arguments but only what they can grasp by their
senses; while the learned men can go further, and learn by reasoning
also, besides learning by sense. They have gone so far that a learned
man has said, that the benefits the learned men derive from the
knowledge of the members of human and animal body are a thousand and
one. If this be so, then this is the method which is taught both by
Law and by Nature. It is the method which was preached by the Prophet
and the divine books. The learned men do not mention these two lines
of reasonings to the masses, not because of their number, but because
of a want of depth of learning on their part about the knowledge of a
single thing only. The example of the common people, considering and
pondering over the universe, is like a man who looks into a thing, the
manufacture of which he does not know. For all that such a man can know
about it is that it has been made, and that there must be a maker of
it. But, on the other hand the learned look into the universe, just as
a man knowing the art would do; try to understand the real purpose of
it. So it is quite clear that their knowledge about the Maker, as the
maker of the universe, would be far better than that of the man who
only knows it as made. The atheists, who deny the Creator altogether,
are like men who can see and feel the created things, but would not
acknowledge any Creator for them, but would attribute all to chance
alone, and that they come into being by themselves.

                          OF THE UNITY OF GOD

Now then if this is the method adopted by the Law, it may be asked:
What is the way of proving the unity of God by means of the Law; that
is, the knowledge of the religious formula that “there is no god, but
God.” The negation contained in it is an addition to the affirmative,
which the formula contains, while the affirmative has already been
proved. What is the purpose of this negation? We would say that the
method, adopted by the Law, of denying divinity to all but God is
according to the ordinance of God in the Quran, contained in the
following three verses. First, “If there were either in heaven or on
earth gods beside God, verily both would be corrupted.”[49] Secondly,
“God has not begotten issue; neither is there any other God with him;
otherwise every other God would surely take away that which he has
created; and some of them had enabled themselves over the others. Far
be it that from God, which they affirm of Him.”[50] Thirdly, “Say,
unto the idolators, if there were gods with Him, as ye say, they would
surely seek an occasion of making some attempt against the possessor of
the Throne.”[51] The argument contained in the first verse is implanted
in our dispositions by our very nature. For it is well-known that if
there be two kings, and the orders of the one be as effectual as those
of the other, it is not possible to have even a single city under their
guidance. It is impossible to have one action of a single kind from
two actors. So it is necessary that, if both of them begin work at the
same time, the city would be ruined, except in the case that one should
work and the other remain inactive. This is against our conception of
divinity. For when the two actions of the same kind are gathered upon
a single object, then that object must necessarily be destroyed. This
is the meaning of the verse, “If there were either in the heaven or on
earth gods besides God, both would be corrupted.” The verse, “Every god
has surely taken away that which he had created,” has been revealed in
refutation of the argument of those who believe in many gods, entrusted
with different works. For in this case it becomes incumbent that the
gods doing different works be independent of one another, and that they
should not be existent at one and the same time. But as the world is
one it is necessary that there be not in it gods with different duties.
The third verse, “Say unto the idolators if there were gods with him,
as ye say, they would surely seek an occasion of making some attempt
against the Possessor of the Throne,” is like the first, an argument
to prove the impossibility of the existence of two gods, whose duties
are the same. This verse means that had there been in the world any
other god, but the present one, able to create the world and those in
it, so that his relation to it be that of a creator, then he must live
with God on the Throne. Thus there would be found two existent things
of the same kind in a single place. But this is impossible. For when
the relation is one, the related must also be one, that is, they cannot
be gathered in a single place as they cannot live in it. The relation
of God to the Throne is just its opposite: the Throne exists for Him,
and not He for the Throne. That is what God has said, “His Throne is
extended over heaven and earth, and the preservation of them is no
burden unto him.”[52] This is the argument by nature or by Law for
proving the unity of God. The difference between the learned and the
masses is that the learned know more about the creation of the world,
and the purpose of its different parts, like a single body, than the
common people. It is to this that the latter part of the verse refers,
“God forbid! and far, very far, be that which they utter! The seven
heavens praise him, and the earth, and all who are therein: neither is
there anything which doth not celebrate His praise; but ye understand
not their celebration thereof: He is gracious and merciful.”[53] The
argument which the Asharites deduce from this verse, calling it the
“argument of impossibility,” is neither in accordance with natural nor
legal arguments. It is not in accordance with nature, because what
they say is without any proof at all; while it is insufficient by Law,
because the common people cannot understand it, not to speak of their
being satisfied with it. They say, that if there be two gods, then it
is more probable that they would differ. If this were to happen, then
there would be one of the following three cases, there being no fourth
alternative. Either the desire of both of them would be accomplished,
or the desire of neither would not. They say that it is impossible that
the desire of neither of them be accomplished, but if it be so then the
universe would neither be existent nor non-existent. If the desire of
both of them be accomplished, then the universe would be both existent
and non-existent at the same time. So there remains no alternative
but that the desire of one be accomplished, the other’s remaining
unfulfilled. So one whose desire remains unfulfilled is helpless, and
the helpless cannot be a God. The weakness of this argument is that
as it is possible to suppose that they differ, it is just as possible
to presume that they agree, a fact more becoming to the gods than
difference of opinion. If they agree about the creation of the world,
they would be like two craftsmen agreed upon making something. If it
be so then it must be said that their actions help them to work and
live in a single place, except that some one may say, that perhaps one
would do one thing and the other quite another thing, or perhaps they
would work by turns. But this is an objection which cannot be advanced
by the masses. But if any sceptic controversialist were to advance it,
he may be told that one who has power to create one thing has power
to create the whole. So now again it comes to the same thing, whether
they agree or not, and how can they help each other in work? As to
working by turn, it would be a defect in both of them. It is more
probable that if there be two gods, there must be two universes. But
as the universe is one, its Maker must also be one, for a single work
can only be done by one maker. So it is not necessary that we should
understand the verse of God, “and some of them had enabled themselves
over the other,” as pointing to disagreement alone, but it may be taken
as true even in the case of argument, for this also leads to the same
result as disagreement would do. Here lies the difference between us
and the Mutakallimun, about the meaning of this verse, though Abul
Maali has said something almost expressing our own views. By the
foregoing you would understand that the argument which the Mutakallimun
have deduced from this verse is not the one which it really contains.
The impossibility to which their argument leads is not one which
should be deduced from the verse in question. The impossibility which
is deduced from the argument which they think is contained in the
verse, is more than one impossibility, by their dividing it into
three parts, while there is no division in the verse itself. So the
argument which they use is the one which is known to the logicians as
disjunctive syllogism, and is known in their science as definition
and division. But the argument contained in the verse is one which is
known in logic as hypothetical syllogism, which is quite different
from disjunctive syllogism. Any one who would look most cursorily
into this science would know the difference between the two. Then,
again, the impossibility which their argument points out is not that
to which the argument of the Book leads. They say that universe will
either be neither existent nor non-existent, or it will be existent
and non-existent at the same time, or its god would be a helpless and
weak god. These are impossible for ever, because of the impossibility
of more than one. The impossibility which the verse refers to, is not
so for ever, for in it it depends upon a certain period of time, that
is when the universe is found corrupted at the time of its existence.
For he says “If there be any other god but God,” the universe would
be found corrupted. Then he has made an exception that it is not
corrupted, and hence there must not be more than one God. So now it has
become quite clear that this is the method by which God has invited the
people to believe in His existence, and negate the divinity of all but
Him. These are the two propositions which are contained in the article
of Faith, “There are no gods but He.” So one who thinks over these two
propositions, and believes in them by the method which we have pointed
out, is a Muslim in reality, with a belief which is truly Islamic. But
he whose belief is not based upon these arguments, though he confesses
the article, he is a Muslim with the other Muslims, only on account of
the similarity of names.

                         ON DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

The attributes which the Divine Book has assigned to the Creator and
Maker of the universe, are only the perfect forms of those which are
found in man, and these are seven in number: Knowledge, life, power,
volition, hearing, seeing and talking.

Now as to knowledge, God in his Divine Book has said the following
“Shall he not know all things who has created them?”[54] The argument
contained in this verse is that a created thing always shows, by the
arrangement which it possesses,--its different parts being made for
the sake of one another for the benefit intended to be derived from
that thing,--that its maker is not nature only, but it must have been
made by one who has arranged all for the end in view. So he must have
a knowledge of it. For instance, when a man looks at a house he knows
that the foundation was laid for the sake of the walls, and the walls
have been raised for the roof. So it becomes clear to him that the
house must have been built by a man knowing the art of building.

This quality is eternal, for it is not fitting that God should possess
it for a time only. But we should not go down deep into this matter,
and should not say, like the Mutakallimun, that He knows the created
things at the time of their creation, by His eternal knowledge,
for then it becomes necessary that the knowledge of the created
thing at the time of its non-existence be the same which is absurd,
when knowledge is said to be dependent upon the existent things.
As an existent thing is sometimes an action, and sometimes only a
potentiality, it is necessary that the knowledge of the two existence
be different, as its time of being in potentiality is quite different
from the time of its being in action. But this the Law does not
explain. On the other hand it maintains quite an opposite position:
that God knows the created thing at the time of its creation, as He
has said, “There falleth no leaf, but He knoweth it; neither is there
a single grain in the dark parts of the earth; neither a green thing,
nor a dry thing, but it is written in the perspicuous book.”[55] So
it is necessary that we should lay down in Law that He knows a thing
before it comes into being; knows a thing when it is, and not when
it should have been; and knows when a thing has been destroyed at
the time of its destruction. This is what the injunctions of the Law
establish. It has been so because the masses cannot understand the
universe through visible things, except in this way. The Mutakallimun
have no argument to advance against it, except that they say that the
knowledge which changes with a change in the existent thing is itself
created, while with God nothing created can be attached. They say so
because they think that that which cannot be separated from the created
thing is itself created. But we have already exposed the fallacy of
this argument. So it is established by the rules described, and it
should not be said that he knows the creation of the created, and the
corruption of the corrupted things, neither by created nor by eternal
knowledge. This is an innovation in Islam, “And is thy Lord forgetful
of thee?”[56]

The attribute of life is quite evident from the attribute of Knowledge.
For our observation shows that one of the conditions of knowledge is
life. According to the Mutakallimun the conditions of an observed
object can be applied to the unseen. What they have said about this is
quite true.

The attribute of volition needs no proof, because it is one of the
conditions of bringing forth a thing, that its maker must intend it.
Such is also the case with power: He must possess power. But to say
that He intended created things by eternal intention is innovation
in religion, which was not known to the learned in Law, and cannot
satisfy the masses who have reached the stage of dogmatics. We should
say that He intends making a thing at the time of its creation, but
does not intend at the time of its non-existence. So God says: “Verily
our speech unto anything when we will the same is that we say unto it,
Be; and it is.”[57] For, as we have said, the common people are never
compelled to advance the argument that He intends doing a thing by
eternal intention, but, as the Mutakallimun have said, that that by
which the created things exist, is itself created.

Now if it be asked, how the attribute of Speech be assigned to and
proved in God, we would say that it can be ascribed to him on account
of the attributes of Knowledge and Power of creation. For speech
is nothing more than act on the part of the speaker to show to the
one addressed the knowledge which he has, or to disclose to him the
knowledge which is in him. This is one of the actions of the maker. And
when that created thing, which is really a creator, man, has power over
this faculty, because he knows and is powerful, how befitting it is
that it should be found in the real Creator. There is another condition
for this action, among the things which we can observe, and that is
that which must be the means of performing it: words. This being so,
it becomes necessary that that action should be performed by God in
the heart of somebody, His chosen servant. It is not necessary that
it should always be through the medium of words, and so created. But
it may happen either through an angel; or through divine inspiration,
that is without the medium of words which He may create, but through an
act to the hearer, which discloses to him the true nature of the thing
meant, or through words which He may create in the ears of him who has
been specialised to hear His words. It is to these three methods that
the verse of the Quran refers, “It is not fit for a man that God should
speak unto him otherwise than by private revelation, or from behind
a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal, by His permission, that
which He pleaseth.”[58] So revelation is the disclosure of the intended
secrets to the inspired person without the medium of words which He
created, but through an action done on the mind of the one addressed.
So God says, “Afterwards He approached the Prophet and drew unto
him; until He was at the distance of two bows’ length from him or yet
nearer; and He revealed unto His servant that which He revealed.”[59]
The speech from behind the veil is one which is performed through the
medium of words. This is the real speech, and that is the one which God
specially bestowed upon Moses, and so He has said, “And God spake unto
Moses, discoursing with him.”[60] Now as to his words, “or by sending a
messenger to reveal,” this is the third kind mentioned above, that is,
through the medium of some angels. Sometimes God speaks to the learned
men, who are the successors of the prophets, by disclosing arguments
to them. On account of these causes it is true, when the learned men
say, that the Quran is the speech of God. It has now become clear to
you that the Quran, which is the speech of God, is eternal, but the
words expressing it are created by him, and are not human. From it are
excepted the Quranic words which we commonly use in our speech, that
is, these words are our own actions, by the command of God, while the
words of the Quran are those created by God. He who does not understand
these things by this method, cannot understand this argument and cannot
grasp as to how the Quran is the word of God. The alphabets used in the
Quran are our own invention, by the command of God. We have to respect
them, because of them are formed the words created by God, for the
purpose which is not itself created. He who thought of words and not
of meaning, that is, did not separate them, said that the Quran was
created; while he who thought of the meaning which these words express,
said the Quran was not created. But the truth lies in the middle of
these two extreme views. The Asharites deny that the speaker is the
maker of his own speech, for they think that if they admit it, they
must also admit that God is the maker of His speech. Again, when they
believe, that the speech can only exist with the speaker, they think,
they must also believe, taking in view the two foregoing principles,
that God is Himself the creator of His words. In this case He Himself
becomes the place of created things. So they assert that God is the
maker of speech, but it is an eternal attribute in him, like knowledge,
etc. This is the time of the speech in our mind, but not of the speech
which expresses what we have in our mind, that is, the words. As the
Mutazilites thought that speech is the action of the speaker, they said
that by speech is meant only the words uttered. So they believed that
the Quran is “Created.” Since according to them the word is an action
of the speaker, so it is not one of its conditions that it should exist
with the speaker. The Asharites on the other hand, insist that it is
one of its conditions that it should exist only with the speaker.
This is true in both the cases, that is in the case of ideas in our
minds, and the words which express them. But in the case of God, it
is the ideas which stand with Him, and not the words expressing them.
So when the Asharites laid it down as a condition, that the speech be
absolutely dependent upon the speaker, they deny that the speaker is
the maker of his speech; while on the other hand, the Mutazilites, when
they laid it down as a condition that the speaker is the maker of his
speech, ignored the existence of ideas in our minds. In this way there
is some truth, and some falsehood, in the opinions of both of these
sects, as must have become clear by what we have said.

Now we come to the attributes of hearing and seeing. The Law has proved
them to be possessed by God by saying that hearing and seeing are the
two essential qualities for knowing the meaning of things, which cannot
be acquired by intellect. So a maker must know everything about the
object which he is making, it is necessary that he should possess the
two senses of hearing and seeing. So He must have these two faculties.
All this proves their existence in God, by means of the Law, through
the teaching of the knowledge which is found in him. Moreover, One
on whom the name of God and the Adorned is applied must necessarily
possess all the senses. For it is useless for man to worship him
who cannot know that he is being worshipped, as God has said, “O my
father, why dost thou worship that which heareth not, neither seeth,
nor profiteth thee at all;”[61] and, “Do you therefore worship, beside
God, that which cannot profit you at all, nor can it hurt you?”[62]
This is the power which has been ascribed to God, and which the Law has
commanded the common people to know and nothing else.

Of the innovation which this question of attributes has given rise
to, one is whether they are the same as Divine Essence or something
added to it, that is, whether they are found in the essence itself
(_Nafsiyyah_), or are only applied to it, (_Maanawiyyah_). By
_Nafsiyyah_ we mean those attributes which are found in the thing
itself, and are not attached to it for the purpose of adding something
to the essence, for existence, we say one or eternal. By _Maanawiyyah_
we mean the attributes which are applied to a thing for some purpose
which is found in it. The Asharites say that these attributes are only
_Maanawiyyah_, that is qualities which are only added to the Divine
Essence. So they say that he knows by a knowledge which has been added
to His essence, and lives by life attached to it and so on. This has
compelled them to admit that the Creator has a body, for there must be
the quality and the qualified, the bearer and the borne. This is the
condition of the body, so they must say that the essence is existent
by itself, and the qualities exist through it, or they must say that
these attributes are independent of each other, then there must be a
number of gods. This is the belief of the Christians, who say that the
three personifications are those of Existence, Life and Knowledge. God
has said about it the following, “They are certainly infidels, who
say, God is the third of the three.”[63] One of them stands by itself,
the others being dependent upon the former. So it becomes necessary
that there should be essence, existing in itself, and the accidents
depending on something else. The place in which the essence and the
accidents are found together must necessarily be a body. Such is also
the case with the Mutazilites about the question, that the essence and
the attributes are one and the same thing. This they think, is for
the primary principles of knowledge or may be opposed to them. For
they think that according to the primary principles knowledge must be
existent without the one knowing. But knowledge and the one knowing
cannot be the same, except that it may be possible that the two may be
very close to each other, just as the father and the son. This teaching
is very remote for the understanding of the masses, and to explain
it to them in detail is innovation, for it would more likely mislead
than guide them to the right path. The Mutazilites have no argument
to advance in proof of their proposition, for they have none. Such is
also the condition of the Mutakallimun in the case of denying a body
to God. For when they have established it, they are compelled to admit
the creation of the body, because it is a body. We have already said
that they have no argument for it. Those who have such are the learned
people, the philosophers. It is at this point that the Christians have
erred. They believe in the multiplicity of attributes that they are
essences existing not by the help of another, but by themselves, like
the self, (_Zat_). They also believe that the qualities with these
attributes are two in number--knowledge and life. So they say that
God is one from the three causes. That He is three they say because
He exists, lives and knows. They say that He is one, because He is a
collection of all the three qualities. And so there are three religious
opinions among them. One party believes that they are all the self
(_Zat_) alone without any number; the other only believes in numbers of
qualities. This is divided into two parties: one which thinks that they
exist by themselves, and the other which makes them exist by something
else. All this is in contrast with the purpose of the Law.

It being so, it is necessary that one who wants to teach the knowledge
of these things to the common people should tell them as much as the
Law orders him to do--and that is only a confession of their existence
without entering into details. For it is not possible for the common
people to believe and understand them at all. By common people here I
mean all those who are unacquainted with the laws of reasoning, though
they may or may not know the science of scholastic theology. It is not
in the power of scholastic theology to know of these things even when
it is said that it is not a science of reasoning but of dogmatics, for
these things can never be clearly understood by dogmatics alone. So,
by now, the extent of these questions which should be disclosed to the
common people, and the method adopted for this purpose must have become
clear to you by what we have said.

                         OF DIVINE PERFECTION

We have already described the way which the Law pursues in teaching
the common people the existence of God, the denial of His having any
associates, and thereby the knowledge of His attributes, and the
extent to which they have been explained in details in it, one after
another. It is really an addition to, and deduction from, and change
and interpretation of this very limit and extent which has not been
productive of good to any and all the people. Now it remains for us
to know the method which the Law has adopted in explaining to the
common people the perfection of God and freedom from all defects, and
the length to which it has gone in detailing it, and the cause of
restricting its knowledge to them. Then we should mention the methods
which it adopts in teaching the people the knowledge of His actions,
and the latitude which it has allowed in this respect. Having done so,
we shall have accomplished the purpose for which we began this book.

So we say that the knowledge of things known as perfection and holiness
are found in many verses of the Quran, the most clear and definite of
them being the following, “There is nothing like Him, and it is He who
heareth and seeth;”[64] and, “Shall God, therefore, Who createth, be
as he who createth not.”[65] The second verse is an argument for the
verse “there is nothing like Him.” For it is one of the characteristics
of the dispositions of all the people to think that the Creator must
either be unlike the things which He has created, or having qualities
which may be different from these which He has given to the created;
otherwise he who is himself created cannot be a Creator. When we
have admitted that the created cannot be the creator then it becomes
incumbent upon us to say that the qualities of the created should
either be not found in the Creator, or found in Him in some different
way than they are in the created. We say, “in some different way,”
because we have proved the divine qualities to be those which are
found in the noblest of God’s creatures, man, as knowledge, life,
power, volition and so on. This is the meaning of the Tradition of
the Prophet, “God created Adam after His own image.” So it has been
established that the Law has denied the similarity between the Creator
and the created with fitting arguments. The denial of similarity is
of two kinds, first, that there may not be found in the Creator many
qualities of the created; and secondly; there may be found in him the
qualities of the created in so perfect and excellent a form as could
not be imagined. Of these two kinds it should be seen which one the Law
has explained, and about which it is reticent. We would also try to
find out the cause for this reticence.

We would say that the qualities of the created which have been denied
by Law as pertaining to God are those which show some defects; for
example, death, as God says, “And do ye not trust in him who liveth,
and dieth not,”[66] or sleep and things which lead to negligence and
carelessness, as regards senses and the protection of the existent
things, as He says, “Neither slumber nor sleep seizeth Him.”[67] Of
such qualities are error and forgetfulness, as God has said, “The
knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in the book of His decrees: my
Lord erreth not, neither doth He forget.”[68] A knowledge of those
qualities the existence of which has been denied in God is one of the
necessary things of common education and is why the Law has been very
explicit about them. It only warns us not to meddle with those things
which are far from the primary principles of knowledge, because it
knows the small limits of human knowledge, as God has said in many
different verses of the Quran, “But the greater part of men do not
understand.” For example He says, “Verily the creation of heaven and
earth is more considerable, than the creation of man; but the greater
part of men do not understand,”[69] and “The institution of God to
which He has created mankind disposed; there is no change in what God
hath created. This is the right religion; but the greater part of men
know it not.”[70] Now it may be said, what is the proof--that is, the
proof advanced by the Law--of the fact that these defects are not found
in God. We would say that it is apparent from the universe itself. It
is quite safe. No confusion or corruption overtakes it. Had the Creator
been subject to negligence, carelessness, error or forgetfulness the
whole of the universe would have been destroyed. God has made this
clear in many verses of the Quran. He says, “Verily God sustaineth the
heaven and the earth, lest they fail: and if they should fail, none
could support the same besides him;”[71] and, “The preservation of both
is not burden unto him, He is the high, the mighty.”[72]

If our opinion be asked about the anthropomorphic attributes of God,
whether the Law has denied them as attributes to the Creator or is
only silent about them, we would say, that it is evident that the Law
is quite silent about them, and their mention in it is quite near to
their denial altogether. It has come to be so because the Quran in
many verses speaks of His hands and face, and these verses are taken
as showing physical attributes which the Creator has bestowed upon the
created, just as He has given him the qualities of power, volition and
so on--qualities which are common between the Creator and created,
except that they are more perfect in the former. On account of this
many Muslims believed that the Creator has a body different from all
other bodies. Such is the case with the Hanbalites and their many
followers. But in my opinion we should follow the path of the Law; and
this should neither deny nor try to prove them, and whenever asked
by the common people to do so, we should answer with words of God,
“There is nothing like him; and it is He who heareth and seeth,”[73]
in this way preventing them from questioning. It is so because of
three reasons. It is neither near to the first, nor to the second, nor
to the third grade. This would be quite clear to you from the method
adopted by the Mutakallimun. They say that the proof of the fact that
He is not a body is that it has been proved that all bodies are created
things. If they are asked to point out the method of proving the latter
proposition, they adopt the method, which we have already pointed
out, concerning the creation of accidents, that that which cannot be
separated from created things is itself created. You have already seen,
from what we have said, that this method is not a philosophical one,
and had it been so, even then a majority of the common people would not
have grasped it. Moreover, whatever these people have said about God,
that He is a Self (_Zat_) and divine attributes added to it, proves
by itself that He has a body, on account of the denial of creation,
rather an argument denying anthropomorphism. This is the first reason
why the Law does not speak of these things in clear terms. The second
reason is that common people think that all that is existent they can
imagine and feel, all else being non-existent to them. So when they
are told that there exists One who has no body, their imagination does
not work and He becomes almost non-existent to them, particularly so
when they are told that He is neither outside our knowledge nor in
it, neither above nor below. That is why the sect which believes in
anthropomorphism thinks of those who deny it, that they also believe
in it; while, on the other hand, the party thinks its opponents to
be believing in a number of gods. The third reason is that had the
Law denied anthropomorphism altogether there would have arisen many a
misgiving about what has been said concerning the Day of Judgment, and
other beliefs.

Of these one is the problem of Divine Vision which we find stated in
authentic Traditions. Those who have been very explicit in denying it
are the two sects of the Asharites and the Mutazilites. The belief
of the latter has driven them to deny the vision altogether; while
the Asharites have tried to make the two things agree, but this was
impossible for them to do. So they have taken refuge in many sophistic
arguments, the weakness of which we would show when talking of the
Divine Vision. Another problem which rises out of this is that it
evidently gives rise to a denial of the direction in which God is. For
if He has no body then the Law becomes an allegory. For the advent of
the prophets is founded upon the fact that Divine Revelation is sent
to them from the heaven. Upon this very principle is also based our
religion, for the Divine Book has come down from the heavens, as God
says, “Verily we have sent down the same (the Quran) on a blessed
night.”[74] The descending of the divine revelation from heaven is
based upon the fact of God’s being there. So also is the descending
and ascending of angels from heaven, as God says, “Unto him ascendeth
the good speech; and the righteous work will He exalt;”[75] and says
He, “The angels ascend up unto and the spirit.”[76] We would mention
all the things which the deniers of direction bring to prove their
proposition when we come to talk of this problem.

Another difficulty which arises is that with the denial of
anthropomorphism we shall have to deny movement to God, after which
it would be difficult to explain with regard to the Day of Judgment,
that He would appear to the people at that moment, and would himself
superintend their judgment, as He says, “Thy Lord shall come and the
angels rank by rank.”[77] It would also be difficult to explain the
famous Tradition of Descent, though its explanation would be, on the
whole easier than that of the former in spite of all that has been said
about it in the Law. So it is necessary that there should be disclosed
to the common people nothing which might lead them to a disbelief in
the literal meanings of these things. This would be its effect upon the
mind of the people if taken exoterically. But when it is interpreted
it would come to either of two interpretations. Either interpretation
would overcome the exoteric side of it and of other things like it,
thus destroying the Law altogether, and falsifying their purpose;
or it will be said about all of them that they are only allegories,
which would destroy the Law, and efface it from the mind of the people,
while the man doing it would not know the sin he has committed with
regard to Law. With all this, if you were to look into the arguments
which the interpreters advance about these things, you would find
all of them unreasonable, while the exoteric meanings are much more
satisfactory, that is, verification through them is more common and
much better. This should become clearer to you when we begin to review
the arguments which they advance for a denial of anthropomorphism, and
discuss the question of direction, as we may shortly do. You should
also know that the Law never intended to disclose the question of the
denial of this attribute completely to the common people, since it can
be done by an explanation of the soul, and the Law has not explained
to the masses what the soul was. God says in the Quran, “They will
ask thee concerning the Soul; answer, The Soul was created at the
command of my Lord; but ye have no knowledge given unto you except a
little.”[78] This is so, because it is difficult to establish reasons
for the common people for the existence of a thing existing by itself,
without a body. Had the denial of this attribute been understood by the
masses then it would not have been enough for prophet Abraham to say in
his discussion with the infidel, “When Abraham said, My Lord is He who
giveth life and killeth: he answered, I give life and I kill.”[79] On
the other hand he would have said, “Thou art a body, and God has not
one, for every body is created,” as the Asharites would argue. So also
it would have sufficed for Moses in his discussion with Pharoah about
his divinity; and for the Holy Prophet in case of the anti-christ,
telling the Faithful of the falsehood of his claims for divinity,
because he would have a body while God has none. On the other hand
he told them that our God was not one-eyed. An argument proving the
physical defect in him was enough to falsify him. So you see that all
these are innovations in Islam, and have become the cause of its being
split up into sects, into which the Prophet tells us that his people
would be divided.

Now some one may object that the Law has not made it clear to the
common people that God has or has not a body, then what should they
believe about him. This is a question which will naturally arise in the
mind of every man, and cannot be put away from him. So it would not
satisfy the common people to let them know of a thing, the existence
of which they should believe, that it is not made of matter. We should
say that they should be answered with the answer given by Law--That
He is the Light, for this is the quality which God has assigned to
himself in His Book, for describing himself, He says, “God is the
light of heaven and earth.”[80] The prophet has also assigned to him
the game quality in an authentic Tradition. It says that he was asked
whether he had seen God, and he answered, “He was Light, and I saw
him.” The Tradition of the Night Journey says that when the Prophet
neared the lote-tree,[81] it was completely covered with light, which
did not hide it from his sight. There is also a Tradition in the book
of Muslim which says that God is a curtain of light, which, if opened,
would burn the opener, and yet God would not be seen. In some other
readings of this very Tradition it is said that He is seventy curtains
of light. It should be known that this illustration is especially fit
for God, for it comprises the two things, that He can be felt, our
eyes and intellect being powerless to see or comprehend him, and in
spite of this He is not a body too. Now according to the common people
the existent thing is one which can be felt, while the non-existent
thing is that which they cannot feel. So light being the best of the
things felt, it is but fitting that the best existing thing should be
likened unto it. There is another cause for it which should be noticed.
The condition of His existence to the learned people, when they begin
to ponder over him, is like the condition of the eyes when they look
towards the sun. But such is not the condition of the eyes of the bat.
So this quality fittingly describes the condition of the two classes of
people. Moreover, God is the cause of the existence of things, and of
our knowledge of them. This is also the quality of the light in showing
colours, and of our seeing them. So God has very fittingly named
himself Light. When it is said that He is Light then there remains no
doubt as to His Vision on the Day of Judgment. From these it must have
become clear to you what the primary belief of the Law was about this
attribute, and what are the innovations which rose in it afterwards.
The Law is silent about it because there is not found in the universe
anything unseen without a body, except that which is found by arguments
among things seen as existent with this quality, and that is the soul.
As the belief of the soul was impossible for the masses, it was also
impossible for them to understand the existence of a Being who exists
without a body. Hence they cannot understand it about God.

                             OF DIRECTION

This is a quality which all the people learned in Law have tried to
prove, until the Mutazilites denied it, and were followed by the
later Asharites, like Abul Maali and those who follow him. All the
exoterics of the Law go to prove it. For God says, “And eight shall
bear the Throne of thy Lord on that Day;”[82] and “He governeth all
the things from heaven even to the earth: hereafter shall they return
unto him, on the Day whose length shall be a thousand years, of those
which ye compute.”[83] Again, He says, “The angels ascend unto him
and the spirit;”[84] and, “Are Ye secure that He who dwelleth in
heaven will not cause the earth to swallow you up? and behold, it
shall shake.”[85] There are many other verses of this kind which, if
interpreted, would turn the whole of the Law into interpretation; and
if taken allegorically, would make it an allegory. All the religious
laws are based upon the principle that God is in heaven, from whence
he sends down angels to His Prophets with revelations, that from the
heaven, the religious books used to descend, and that towards it was
the Night Journey of the Prophet, till he reached near the lote-tree.
All the philosophers are, moreover, agreed that God and His Angels
are in heaven, as is the case with all the religions. The doubt which
led them to deny this idea of direction was that they thought that by
believing in direction it would be necessary to believe in space, which
in its turn leads to a belief in anthropomorphism. But we say that this
is not necessarily the case, for direction can exist without space. It
is nothing but the surfaces of the body surrounding it, which are six
in number. That is why we say that there is an above and a below, right
and left and before and behind for an animal. Or they are the surfaces
of a body surrounded by another body having the above-mentioned six
directions. So the directions, which are the surfaces of the body
itself, are not the spaces of the body in any respect. But the surfaces
of the surrounding bodies are space for it. The atmosphere surrounding
man, and the surfaces of the sky surrounding the surfaces of the
atmosphere, for they are the spaces for it. Such is also the case with
different surrounding and forming spaces for one another. As to the
last sky it is evident that beyond it there must be no body. For had it
been so, it would be necessary that beyond it be another body and so
on to infinity. So there is no space at all for the last body of the
universe, for it is not possible that in it be found any body, it being
necessary that there be found a body in every space. So when there
is an argument for the existence of a thing in that direction, it is
necessary that it be not a body. So one who denies His existence there
goes against his own ideas. He is existent, has a body, is not existent
without a body. They cannot say that beyond the universe is a void.
For the impossibility of a void has been made quite certain in the
philosophical sciences. For that upon which the name void is commonly
applied, are nothing but dimensions (_Abad_), in which there are no
bodies. For when these dimensions are once removed, there remains
nothing but non-existence. But if the void be supposed as existent, it
is necessary to admit the existence of accidents in something not a
body, for dimensions are accidents by their having a quality. But it is
said by the Ancients and established by past religions that that place
is the dwelling place of the spirits, God and angels. This place has no
space, and is not governed by time, because everything governed by time
and space can be corrupted. And it is necessary that the things there
be uncorrupted and uncreated. This has been made quite clear by what
I have said, for there cannot be found in that place anything but one
which is existent and at the same time can be felt, or is altogether
non-existent. It is self-evident that an existent object is always
referred to by its existence; that is, it is said that it exists, that
is, it has an existence. So if anything exists there, it must be the
noblest of all, and it is necessary that that existent thing should
be referred to by the best portion of the universe, which are the
heavens. God has said concerning the nobility of the heavens, “Verily
the creation of heaven and earth is more considerable than the creation
of man: but the greater part of men do not understand.”[86] All this is
perfectly clear to the learned men “Well grounded in knowledge.”[87]

Now it has become clear to you that belief in direction is necessary
by religion and reason, and that it forms a part of the Law, which
is based upon it. A denial of the principles is a denial of all the
religions. The cause of the difficulty in their understanding this, and
in their denial of anthropomorphism is, that there cannot be found in
the visible world an illustration of such a thing. This was just the
reason why the Law did not expressly deny an anthropomorphism. For to
the common people verification of an invisible object can only come
when its existence be known in the visible world, as knowledge, which
being a condition for their own existence as visible, could to them
become a condition for the existence of an invisible Maker. Now as
the case of the visible was unknown in the visible on the part of the
many, and none knew it but those who were well-grounded in knowledge,
the Law-giver forbade an inquiry into it, as for example knowledge of
the Soul. If it be needful for the common people to know anything,
then the Law gives examples from the visible world. And if one example
did not suffice for the understanding of the problem in view, then
many examples are given, as in the case of an account of the Day of
Judgment. The doubt which arises out of a denial of direction, on the
part of those denying it, is that the common people cannot comprehend
it, particularly so, because they have not been given before hand to
understand that God has no body. So it is necessary to take the action
of the Law as our example, otherwise we will have to interpret that
which the Law itself has not expressly said.

With regard to these problems of the Law, the people may be divided
into three classes. In the first place there are people who cannot
notice any doubt arising out of them, especially in things which the
Law has left to be taken exoterically. These people are the greatest
in number, and may be described as the masses. Then the second group
of men is one which has doubts; but has not power to solve them. These
are above the masses and below the learned people. It is for them
that there are found in the Law allegorical sayings, and it is they
whom God has censured. For there is no allegory in the Law for the
learned or the common people, and it is in this light that all the
allegorical sayings of the Quran should be understood. Their example
as regards the Law is like the example of the bread of wheat which
though a useful cereal for the large number of human beings, may prove
harmful to some. Such is also the case with religious teaching: it
is useful for the many but sometimes becomes harmful to some. The
following words of God point to the same thing. “He will not thereby
mislead any except the transgressors.”[88] But this is found only in
a few verses of the Quran about a few people. Most of the verses are,
however, those which speak of things invisible for which there is no
example in the visible world. So they are expressed by the things
nearest to them in the visible world, on account of their similarity.
Some people take the illustration as the thing illustrated, and hence
they fall into confusion and doubt. This is what is called allegorical
in the Law, and is not meant for the learned or the common people,
which in reality form two groups of men. For these are the people who
are really healthy, and delicate food is only fit for them. The other
group is a group of sick men who are always few in number. So God has
said, “But they whose hearts are perverse will follow that which is
parabolical therein, out of love of schism.”[89] These are the dogmatic
and the scholastic theologians. The worst which these people have
done in respect to the Law is that they have interpreted much which
they thought was not to be taken literally, and then said that their
interpretation was the thing intended, and that God had mentioned it
parabolically only to test and try His creatures. God forbid that
we should ever have such an idea about Him. The Divine Book is a
miracle of clearness and lucidity. So it is far from the real purpose
of the Law for one to say about a thing which is not parabolical,
that it is so, and then set about interpreting it according to his
own ideas, telling the people that their duty lies in believing
his interpretations. They have done so in the case of the verse of
Equalisation on the Throne, and others, saying that their exoteric
meaning is only parabolical. On the whole many interpretations, which
these people maintain to be the real purpose of the Law, when intently
looked into and deciphered, are found wanting in arguments, and not
serving the purpose which the exoteric meaning would have with regard
to the common people. The primary purpose of knowledge for the common
people is action, so that which is most useful in action is most
suitable for them. But for the learned men, the purpose of knowledge
is both knowledge and action. The man who interprets anything of the
Law, thinking that his interpretation is the real purpose of it, and
then discloses it to the common people, is like a man, who finds a
medicine which an expert physician had compounded to preserve the
health of all, or of a majority of the people; then there came a man
with whom that medicine did not agree on account of the coarseness
of his disposition. He presented it to some people, and then thought
that by some drug, which the first physician had clearly specified, as
composing that universally useful medicine, he did not mean the drug
commonly known by that name--but another which he really meant, but
used this name for it by a far-fetched metaphor. So he took out the
first drug from the compound, and placed another in its stead, which
he thought to be the one intended by the first physician. Then he
told the people that this was the medicine intended. The people began
to use that “improved” medicine, and many of them got injured by it.
Then there came another group of men, who, seeing the people sick on
account of that medicine, thought of curing them. So they changed some
of its drugs with some other than the first one, then presented it to
the people for quite another disease than that intended by the first
physician. Then there appeared another group which interpreted the
medicine in quite another way than the two preceding groups had done.
The fourth group gave a new interpretation to the drug and prescribed
it for a fourth kind of disease. So as time went on with that great
medicine, the interpretations of it took hold of the people instead of
the drugs, and they changed and transformed it altogether. As a result
the people were attacked by many different kinds of diseases, till the
usefulness of the medicine was altogether lost. Such is the condition
of those sects which have risen in Islam. For every one of them has
made interpretations quite different from the others, and maintained
that its interpretation shows the real purpose of the Law, which was
at last rent to piece, and lost its primary purpose altogether. The
Prophet, knowing that a thing like this would necessarily happen among
his people, said, “My people will shortly be divided into seventytwo
sects. All of them will be in hell, except one.” By this one he meant
the sect which followed the exoteric meanings of the Law, without
making any interpretations which may be disclosed to the people. If you
were to look into the Law and see the corruption which it has suffered
up to this time, through interpretations, the truth of this example
would become clear to you.

The first to make a change in the religion--the great medicine--were
the Kharijites, who were followed by the Mutazilites. They were
succeeded by the Asharites, after whom came the Sufis. Last of all came
Al-Ghazzali, who went to the extreme and corrupted everything. He it is
who explained philosophy to the common people, and disclosed to them
the opinions of the philosophers as he understood them to be. This he
did in a book called _Al-Maqasid_, in which he thought he was refuting
them. He planned his _Refutation of the Philosophers_, and charged
them with infidelity in respect to three questions, tearing them to
pieces, as he thought, in regard to consensus of opinion; and calling
them innovators as regards other opinions. In this book he has advanced
many specious arguments and confused reasonings, which have led astray
many people both from religion and philosophy. Then he said in his
book _Jawahir al-Quran_ that the arguments which he had mentioned in
his _Refutation_ were controversial in their nature, while in fact
they were mentioned in his _Al Maznun ala Ghairi Ahlihi_. Then in his
_Mishkat ul Anwar_ he mentions grades of men really knowing God. He
says that all but those who believe that God is not the mover of the
first heaven, and that it is not He from whom this movement originates,
are precluded from it. This is an explanation from him of men learned
in divine science. He has said in many places that divine science
exists only by guesses, as opposed to certainties in other science. In
his book _Munqidh min al Dalal_ he has gone against the philosophers
and maintained that knowledge can only be acquired by privacy and
meditation, and that those in this rank are all very near to the
rank of the prophets. He has mentioned this very fact in his _Kimiya
i Saadat_. Men have become divided into parties on account of this
confusion. One party chose to censure the philosophers, while the other
agreed to interpret the Law, and make it conform to philosophy. All
this is wrong. The Law should be taken literally; and the conformity of
religion to philosophy should not be told to the common people. For by
an exposition of it we should be exposing the results of philosophy to
them, without their having intelligence enough to understand them. It
is neither permitted nor desirable to expose anything of the result of
philosophy to a man who has no arguments to advance, for there are no
arguments either with the learned people who have a mastery over both
the subjects, or with the common people who follow the exoteric of the
Law. So his action brought disorder in respect to both of these things,
religion and philosophy, in the mind of the common people, while he
saved them for the others. The disorder in religion came through his
exposing those interpretations which should not be exposed; and so
also the disorder in philosophy was the result of his mentioning those
things in his books which should not be put in the works on philosophy.
Now it was the result of his treatment of the subjects that many people
do not know the difference between the two, because of his bringing
both of them together. He has also insisted upon the fact that he knew
the cause of doing so, as he did in his _Al Tafriqa bain al Islami
wa-z Zindiqah_. In it he has noted down many kinds of interpretations
and has decided that their interpreters were not infidels though they
may go against the consensus of opinion. Since he has done so, he is
dangerous to the Law for some reasons, to philosophy for others, and to
both for some other reasons. So this man, by disclosing them, has shown
that he is dangerous for both the things in reality and profitable to
them only by accident. For teaching philosophy to one who is not fit
for it, will either falsify philosophy or religion absolutely or will
show conformity between them by accident only. The right thing would
have been not to disclose philosophy to the common people at all. But
if teaching of it was absolutely necessary, then only that section of
the people should have been taught who saw that religion was opposed
to philosophy, in order to show them that it was not so. And also it
might have been taught to those people who thought that philosophy
is opposed to religion. This may have been shown to either of these
sections, that in reality they did not possess a knowledge of their
substance and truth, that is, of religion and philosophy. Moreover,
they would know that the opinion about religion, that it was opposed to
philosophy was one which was either about some innovation in religion,
and not about its principles, or is an error in understanding that is,
a wrong interpretation of it, as was shown in the case of knowledge
about particulars and other things. That is why we were compelled in
this book to explain the principles of religion. These principles,
when intently looked into will be found in perfect agreement with
philosophy. Such is also the case with the opinion which says this
philosophy is opposed to religion. It only shows that the man has not
had a sufficient training in either philosophy or religion. This is the
reason that we were compelled to explain it in our tractate entitled
_Fasl al Maqal fi Muwafiqat il Hikmat lil Sharia_.

Now that this has become clear we would return to our former theme.
The only problem which remains for us to solve, out of those which we
proposed is that of Divine Vision. It is thought for some reasons,
that it forms a part of the problem which we have just discussed, on
account of the words of God, “The sight comprehendeth him not, but He
comprehendeth the sight.”[90] And hence the Mutazilites have denied
it, setting aside the arguments found in the Law, in spite of their
greatness in number and fame, a very shameful act on their part. The
cause of this doubt of the Law that since the Mutazilites denied
physical attributes, and believed in exposing their ideas to every one,
it became necessary for them to deny direction also. And having once
denied direction they must also deny the Vision, for the thing seen
must be in some direction to one who sees it. To prove their point they
are constrained to set aside the traditional religion. They neglected
the Traditions because they were only isolated things which should not
be believed, if found opposed to the teachings of the Quran, that is,
opposed to the verse, “The sight comprehendeth Him not.” The Asharites
tried to mix together the two beliefs, that is, the denial of physical
attributes, and the possibility of vision of One having no body, by
means of our senses. It became difficult for them to prove it, and
they took refuge in many sophistical and conjectural arguments, that
is arguments which are thought to be correct but are in reality wrong.
It is so because it is possible to have the same grades in arguments
as there are among men. Just as there may be found men with perfect
excellence and those below them, till we may have a man who thinks
himself learned and yet he is not, being only a pedant, so there are
arguments which are extremely certain, and those below them, then,
there are specious arguments, and those which though really false seem
to be true. The statements of the Asharites in regard to this question
are of two kinds: those refuting the arguments of the Mutazilites, and
those proving the possibility of the Vision of One having no body, and
that there is no difficulty in our believing it. The statements by
which they have opposed the Mutazilites in their argument, that the
thing seen must have a direction for one who sees it, is that some
of them say that it is applied only to the visible, and not to the
invisible, world; and that it is not one of those cases in which the
condition of the one can be applied to the other. According to them
it is possible for a man to see an object having no direction, for he
sees by his power of sight only that which comes before his eyes. In
this they have mixed together the senses of sight with intelligence,
for the latter can perceive that which has no direction, that is, no
space; but for the perception of the eye there is a condition, that the
thing to be perceived be in a direction, not only that but a particular
direction too. So if we take the eye to be endowed with the power of
seeing, then it is not possible except under very limited conditions.
These are three in number-light, the intervention of a transparent body
between the eye and the object seen, and the possession of necessary
colours by the object. A refutation of these conditions in the eyes is
also a refutation of those primary principles of knowledge which are
known to all. It would be a refutation of the sciences of philosophy
and mathematics. The Asharites also maintain that one of the conditions
as we have said, for example, is that every rational being has a life,
it being apparent in the visible world as a condition for knowledge.
Hence we say to them that these are also conditions for seeing things
in the visible world. So according to their own principle is the
case of the visible and the invisible. In his book _Al Maqasid_ Abu
Hamid (Al Ghazzali) intended to oppose the premise that every object
perceivable must be in some direction to the one seeing it. He says
that a man sees himself reflected in a mirror and sees himself not in
any other direction but the opposite one. Hence he can see his self in
an opposite direction too. But this is a mistake, because what he sees
is not his self but only an image of it. This image is in the opposite
direction, being in the mirror, placed there.

Of the arguments which they advance to prove the vision of an object
having no body, two are famous ones. Of these the more famous is one
which says that an object seen is either because it has some colour, or
because it has a body, or it is a colour, or because it is existent.
Sometimes they mention many other causes than really do exist. They
say that it is wrong to suppose that it must be a body, otherwise, no
colour would be visible, it being also incorrect to suppose the space
to be the colour. Now when all the kinds of suppositions in the premise
have been refuted we shall have to believe that only an existent object
will be seen. The mistake in this statement is quite clear. For an
object is visible because of itself. This is the case with the colour
and the body: the colour being visible by itself, and the body through
the colour. That is why a thing which has no colour cannot be seen.
Had the existence of a thing been the only condition of visibility, it
would have been possible to see the sound and the senses. In that case
seeing, hearing, in fact all the five senses would have been only one,
which is quite contrary to our reason. This problem and others like it
have obliged the Mutakallimun to admit that it is possible to _hear_
the colour, and _see_ the sounds. But this is against nature, as man
has understood it to be. For it is absolutely evident that the sense of
seeing is quite different from that of hearing. Their actions are quite
distinct from one another, and the organ of the one cannot work as the
organ of the other. It is just as impossible to turn hearing as to turn
colour into sound. Those who say that sometimes sound can be seen,
should be asked to define the sense of seeing. They would necessarily
answer that it is a faculty which perceives those things which can be
seen, such as colour and so on. Then they should be asked to define the
sense of hearing. They would surely say that it is one sense by which
sounds can be heard. Then they should be asked whether at the time of
sound it is the sense of hearing only or seeing too. If they say that
it is hearing only, they admit that it cannot perceive colours. If
they say that it is seeing only, then it cannot hear sounds. If it is
neither alone, for it perceives colours, then it is seeing and hearing
both. But in this way everything can be proved to be one, even in the
case of contradictory things. This is a thing which our Mutakallimun
admit or they are compelled to do so. But it is clear that it is a
philosophical opinion which is only fit for those ancient people famous
for it.

Now the second method which Mutakallimun have adopted for proving the
possibility of Divine Vision is that which has been mentioned by Abul
Maali in his book, _Al Irshad_. It says that the senses can only feel
the substance (_Zat_) of things, but that which separates the existent
thing from one another is not to be found in the substance only. So
the senses cannot perceive the substance, which is common to all the
existent things. They can only perceive a thing because it exists.
But all this is absurd, which is quite clear from the fact that if
sight were only able to perceive things then it would not have been
possible for it to differentiate between white and black, for there is
no difference between things about those qualities which are common
to all. This also becomes impossible as regards all the other senses.
The sense of seeing could not perceive different kinds of colours;
the sense of hearing cannot differentiate between tastes. It would be
necessary that the objects perceived by the senses be all of a kind,
and there should be no difference between objects perceived by seeing
and apprehended by hearing. This is contrary to that which man commonly
understands. In reality the senses perceive the substance of things by
the power which is vouchsafed to them. The cause of this mistake lies
in the fact that that which perceives a substance, is thought to be the
thing perceived. Had there not been said so much about these things,
and so much respect for those who said it, it would not have satisfied
anybody with a strong common sense.

The cause of such a perplexing situation in the Law, which has
compelled its votaries to take refuge in such worthless arguments,
as would bring a smile to the lips of anybody who has made the least
effort to distinguish between different kinds of arguments, is the
exposition of anthropomorphic qualities of God to the common people,
a fact which has been prohibited by God and His Prophet. It is so
because it is very difficult for a man to believe at the same time that
there exists One without a body, who can be seen with our eyes. For
the things which the senses comprehend are in the bodies or the bodies
themselves. Hence the Mutakallimun have tried to prove that the Divine
Vision will be an addition to our existing qualities at that moment.
This also should not have been disclosed to the common people. For
since their intellect cannot go beyond their imagination that which
they cannot imagine is non-existent for them. To imagine a thing which
has no body is not possible, and hence a belief in the existence of
an object which they cannot imagine, is impossible for them. It was
for this reason that the Law refused to disclose this secret to them,
and described God, for their sake, in terms which they can imagine,
ascribing to him the attributes of hearing, seeing, having a face, &c.
&c., at the same time telling them that He is not like anything which
can be imagined. Had the intention of the Law been to make clear to
the masses the fact of His having no body, it would not have mentioned
these things in detail. But as light was the highest of imaginable
things, it was given to them as an illustration of God, for it is the
best known of the things both to the senses and to the imagination.

Such is also the case in respect to the possibility of their
understanding the things of the Day of Judgment. These have also
been mentioned in terms which they can imagine. So now when the Law
has adopted this course about the apparent description of God, there
arises no doubt about him. For when it is said that He is Light or that
there is a curtain of light upon Him, as is mentioned in the Quran and
authentic Traditions, and when it is said that the Faithful will see
Him on the Day of Judgement as they see the sun, there arises no doubt
or suspicion out of it for the common or the learned people. It is so
because to the learned it is quite clear that that condition will be
an addition to our former knowledge. But when this is disclosed to
the common people, they cannot understand it, and hence they either
disbelieve the whole of the Law, or consider its exponent to be an
infidel. So one who adopts a method other than that laid down by the
Law in this respect, certainly goes astray. If you look a little
intently it will become clear to you, that in spite of the fact that
the Law has not given illustration of those things for the common
people, beyond which their imagination cannot go, it has also informed
the learned men of the underlying meanings of those illustrations. So
it is necessary to bear in mind the limits which the Law has set about
the instruction of every class of men, and not to mix them together.
For in this manner the purpose of the Law is multiplied. Hence it is
that the Prophet has said, “We, the prophets, have been commanded to
adapt ourselves to the conditions of the people, and address them
according to their intelligence.” He who tries to instruct all the
people in the matter of religion, in one and the same way, is like a
man who wants to make them alike in actions too, which is quite against
apparent laws and reason.

From the foregoing it must have become clear to you that the divine
vision has an exoteric meaning in which there is no doubt, if we take
the words of the Quran about God as they stand, that is, without
proving or disproving the anthropomorphic attribute of God. Now since
the first part of the Law has been made quite clear as to God’s purity,
and the quantity of the teaching fit for the common people, it is time
to begin the discussion about the actions of God, after which our
purpose in writing this tractate will be over.

                         OF THE ACTIONS OF GOD

In this section we will take up five questions, around which all others
in this connection revolve. In the first place a proof of the creation
of the universe; secondly, the advent of the prophets; thirdly,
predestination and fate; fourthly, Divine justice and injustice; and
fifthly, the Day of Judgment.

First Problem: the Creation of the Universe:--The Law teaches that the
universe was invented and created by God, and that it did not come
into being by chance or by itself. The method adopted by the Law for
proving this is not the one upon which the Asharites have depended.
For we have already shown that those methods are not specially certain
for the learned, nor common enough to satisfy all the classes of men.
The methods which are really serviceable are those which have a very
few premises, and the results of which fall very near to the commonly
known ideas. But in instructing the common people the Law does not
favour statements composed of long and complete reasonings, based
upon different problems, So everyone who, in teaching them, adopts a
different course, and interprets the Law according to it, has lost
sight of its purpose and gone astray from the true path. And so also,
the Law in giving illustrations for its reasonings uses only those
which are present before us. Whatever has been thought necessary for
the common people to know, has been explained to them by the nearest
available examples, as in the case of the Day of Judgment. But whatever
was unnecessary for them to know, they have been told that it was
beyond their knowledge, as the words of God about the Soul.[91] Now
that we have established this, it is necessary that the method adopted
by the Law for teaching the creation of the universe to the common
people be such as would be acknowledged by all. It is also necessary
that since there cannot be found anything present to illustrate the
creation of the universe the Law must have used the examples of the
creation of things in the visible world.

So the method adopted by Law is that the universe was made by God. If
we look intently into the verse pertaining to this subject we shall
see that the method adopted is that of divine solicitude, which we
know to be one of those which prove the existence of God. When a man
sees a thing made in a certain shape, proportion and fashion, for a
particular advantage is derived from it, and purpose which is to be
attained, so that it becomes clear to him, that had it not been found
in that shape, and proportion, then that advantage would have been
wanting in it, he comes to know for certain that there is a maker of
that thing, and that he had made it in that shape and proportion, for
a set purpose. For it is not possible that all those qualities serving
that purpose be collected in that thing by chance alone. For instance,
if a man sees a stone on the ground in a shape fit for sitting, and
finds its proportions and fashion of the same kind, then he would
come to know that it was made by a maker, and that he had made it and
placed it there. But when he sees nothing in it, which may have made
it fit for sitting then he becomes certain that its existence in the
place was by chance only, without its being fashioned by any maker.
Such is also the case with the whole of the universe. For when a man
sees the sun, the moon, and all the stars, which are the cause of the
four seasons, of days and nights, of rain, water and winds, of the
inhabitation of the parts of the earth, of the existence of man, and
of the being of all the animals and the plants and of the earth being
fit for the habitation of a man, and other animals living on it; and
the water fit for the animals living in it; and the air fit for birds,
and if there be anything amiss in this creation and edifice, the whole
world would come to confusion and disorder, then he would come to know
with certainty that it is not possible that this harmony in it for the
different members of the universe--man, animals, and plants--be found
by chance only. He will know that there is one who determined it, and
so one who made it by intention, and that is God, exalted and magnified
may He be. He would know with certainty that the universe is a created
thing, for he would necessarily think that it is not possible that in
it should be found all this harmony, if it be not made by some one,
and had come into existence by chance alone. This kind of argument is
quite definite and at the same time clear, and some have mentioned it
here. It is based upon two principles which are acknowledged by all.
One of them being, that the universe, with all its component parts, is
found fit for the existence of man and things; secondly, that which is
found suitable in all its parts, for a single purpose, leading to a
single goal, is necessarily a created thing. So those two principles
lead us naturally to admit that the universe is a created thing, and
that there is a maker of it. Hence “the argument of analogy” leads to
two things at one and the same time, and that is why it is the best
argument for proving the existence of God. This kind of reasoning is
also found in the Quran in many verses in which the creation of the
universe is mentioned. For instance, “Have We not made the earth a
bed, and the mountains for shelter to fix the same? And have We not
created you of two sexes; and appointed your sleep for rest and made
the night a garment to cover you, and destined the day to a gaining of
a livelihood; and built over you seven heavens, and placed therein a
burning lamp? And do We not send down from the clouds pressing forth
rain, water pouring down in abundance, that We may hereby produce corn
and herbs, and gardens planted thick with trees.”[92] If we ponder over
this verse it would be found that our attention has been called to the
suitability of the different parts of the universe for the existence
of man. In the very beginning we are informed of a fact well-known to
all--and that is that the earth has been created in a way which has
made it suitable for our existence. Had it been unstable, or of any
other shape, or in any other place, or not of the present proportion,
it would not have been possible to be here, or at all created on it.
All this is included in the words, “Have We not made the earth a
bed for you?” for in a bed are collected together all the qualities
of shape, tranquility, and peace, to which may be added those of
smoothness and softness. So how strange is this wonderful work and
how excellent this blessedness, and how wonderful this collection of
all the qualities! This is so because in the word _mihad_ (bed) are
brought together all those qualities, which are found in the earth,
rendering it suitable for the existence of man. It is a thing which
becomes clear to the learned after much learning and a long time, “But
God will appropriate His mercy unto whom He pleaseth.”[93] Then as to
the divine words, “And the mountains for stakes,”--they tell us of the
advantage to be found in the tranquility of the earth on account of
the mountains. For had the earth been created smaller than it is now,
that is, without mountains it would have been quivered by the motion
of other elements, the water and the air, and would have been shaken
and thus displaced. This would naturally have been the cause of the
destruction of the animal world. So when its tranquility is in harmony
with those living on it, it did not come into being by chance alone,
but was made by some one’s intention, and determination. Certainly it
was made by One who intended it, and determined it, for the sake of
those living on it. Then He calls our attention to the suitability of
the existence of night and day for animals. He says, “And made the
night a garment to cover you; and destined the day to a gaining of your
livelihood.” He means to say that He has made the night like a covering
and clothing for all the things, from the heat of the sun. For had
there been no setting of the sun at night, all the things, whose life
has been made dependent upon the sun, would have perished--that is, the
animals and the plants. As clothing protects the people from the heat
of the sun, in addition to its being a covering, so God likened the
night to it. This is one of the most beautiful of the metaphors. There
is also another advantage in the night for the animals: their sleep in
it is very deep, after the setting of the sun, which keeps faculties in
motion, that is, wide awake. So God has said, “And appointed your sleep
for rest,” on account of the darkness of the night. Then He says, “And
built over you seven heavens, and placed therein a burning lamp.” Here
by the word building He means their creation, and their harmony with
the created things, and their arrangement and system. By strength He
means that power of revolution and motion which is never slackened, and
never overtaken by fatigue; and they never fall like other roofs and
high edifices. To this refer the words of God, “And made the heaven a
roof well-supported.”[94] By all this He shows their fitness in number,
shape, fashion, and movement, for the existence of those who live on
the earth round it. Were one of the heavenly bodies, not to speak of
all, to stop for a moment all would be chaos on the face of the earth.
Some people think the blast of the last trumpet, which will be the
cause of the thunderbolt, will be nothing but a stop in the revolution
of the heavenly bodies. Then He tells us of the advantage of the sun
for those living on the earth and says, “And placed therein a burning
lamp.” He calls it a lamp because in reality it is all darkness, and
light covers the darkness of the night, and if there be no lamp, man
can get no advantage out of his sense of sight at night time; and in
the same way if there were no sun the animals can have no benefit of
their sense of seeing. He calls our attention to this advantage of the
sun, ignoring others because it is the noblest of all the advantages
and the most apparent of all. Then He tells us of His kindness in
sending down rain, for the sake of the plants and the animals. The
coming down of rain in an appointed proportion, and at an appointed
season, for the cultivated fields cannot be by chance alone, but is
the result of divine solicitude for us all. So He says, “And do We
not send down from the clouds pressing forth rain, water pouring down
in abundance that We may hereby produce corn and herbs, and gardens
planted thick with trees.” There are many verses of the Quran on this
subject. For instance, He says, “Do ye not see how God hath created the
seven heavens, one above another, and hath placed the moon therein for
a light, and hath appointed the sun for a taper? God hath also provided
and caused you to bring forth corn from the earth.”[95] If we were to
count all such verses and comment upon them showing the kindness of
the Creator for the created, it would take too many volumes. We do not
intend to do it in this book. If God should grant us life and leisure
we shall write a book to show the kindness of God to which He has
called our attention.

It should be known that this kind of argument is just contrary to that
which the Asharites think leads to the knowledge of God. They think
that the creation does not lead us to the knowledge of God through any
of His goodness, but through possibility, that is, the possibility
which is found in all things, which we can understand to be of his
shape or of quite a contrary one. But if this possibility be found
alike in both the cases, then there is no wisdom in the creation of the
universe, and there is found no harmony between man and the parts of
it. For, as they think, if it is possible for the things to have any
other form than they have now, then there can exist no harmony between
man and other existent things by the creation of which God has obliged
man and commanded him to be thankful to Him. This opinion, by which the
creation of man, as a part of the universe, is just as possible, for
instance, as his creation in the void, is like the opinion of those who
say that man exists but he could have been created in quite a different
shape, and yet could perform actions like a man. According to them it
is also possible that he may have formed the part of another universe
quite different from the existing one. In that case the blessing of the
universe can have no obligation for man, for they are not necessary for
his purpose. Hence man is quite careless of them and they of him. So
their existence is no blessing to him. This is all against the nature
of man.

On the whole, a man who denies the existence of the effects arranged
according to the causes in the question of arts, or whose wisdom
cannot understand it, then he has no knowledge of the art of its
Maker. So also a man who denies the existence of an order of effects
in accordance with causes in this universe, denies the existence of
the Creator altogether. Their saying that God is above these causes,
and that they cannot have any bearing on the effects by His command,
is very far from the true nature of philosophy, nay, it is a destroyer
of it. For if it is possible to have the same effects with other than
the prescribed causes just in the same degree as by them, then where
is the greatness in producing the effects from the known Causes? It is
so because the effects from the causes have one of the following three
reasons. Either the existence of the causes will be in place of the
effects by compulsion, as a man’s taking his food; or their being more
perfect that is, the effect becoming better and more perfect through
them, as a man’s having two eyes, or they may have neither a better nor
a more compulsive effect. In this case the existence of the effect and
the cause would be by chance, without any intention at all; and hence,
there would be no greatness found in it. For instance, if the shape
of human hand, the number of the fingers, and their length be neither
necessary nor adding any perfection in its work in seizing things of
different kind, then the actions of the hand from this shape, and
number of parts, would be by chance alone. If it be so, then it makes
no difference whether a man is given a hand or a hoof, or something
else, like the different animals, for their particular actions. On the
whole, if we ignore the causes and their effects, then there remains
nothing to refute the arguments of those who believe in the creation of
the universe by chance alone, that is, those who say that there is no
Creator at all, and that which has come into being in this universe is
the result of material causes. For taking one of the two alternatives
it is not more possible that it may have happened by chance, than done
by an independent Actor. So when the Asharites say that the existence
of one or more possibilities shows that there is a particular Maker of
these things, they can answer and say that the existence of things by
one of these possibilities was by chance alone, for intention works as
one of the causes, and that which happens without any means or cause
is by chance. We see that many things come into being in this way.
For example, the elements mix together by chance, and then by this
unintentional mixing there is produced a new thing. They mix again,
and this quite unintentionally produces quite a new thing. In this
way every kind of creation may be said to have come into existence by

We say that it is necessary that there be found order and arrangement,
the more perfect and finished than what can be imagined. This mixing
together of elements is limited and prearranged, and things produced
by them are sure to happen, and no disorder has ever happened in them.
But all this could not happen by chance alone, for that which happens
in this way by chance is of the least value. It is to this that God
refers, “It is the work of the Lord, who has rightly disposed all
things.”[96] I would like to know what completeness can be found in
things made by chance, for such things are by no means better than
their opposites. To this God refers in the following words, “Thou
canst not see in the Creation of the most Merciful any unfitness or
disproportion. Lift thy eyes again to heaven, and _look whether thou
seest any flaw_.”[97] But what defect can be greater than that all the
things can be found with any other quality than they really possess.
For the non-existent quality may be better than the existing one.
In this way, if one thinks that were the Eastern movement to become
Western and vice versa, there would be no difference in the universe,
then he has destroyed philosophy altogether. He is like a man who
thinks that were the right side of the animals to become left, and
vice versa, there would be no difference at all for one of the two
alternatives is there. For as it is possible to say that it is made
according to one alternative by an independent Maker, so it is possible
to assert that it was all made by chance alone. For we see so many
things coming into being by themselves.

It is quite clear to you that all the people see that lower kinds of
creation could have been made in a different way from that in which
they really are and as they see this lower degree in many things they
think that they must have been made by chance. But in the higher
creation they know that it is impossible to have been made in a more
perfect and excellent form than that given to it by the Creator. So
this opinion, which is one of the opinions of the Mutakallimun is both
against the Law and philosophy. What we say is that the opinion of
possibility in creation is closer to a complete denial of God, than
leading us nearer to Him. At the same time it falsifies philosophy. For
if we do not understand that there is a mean between the beginnings
and ends of the creation, upon which is based the ends of things, then
there can neither be any order nor any method in it. And if they be
wanting then there can be no proof of the existence of an intelligent
and knowing Maker; for taking them together with cause and effect
we are led to the fact that they must have been created by wisdom
and knowledge. But on the other hand the existence of either of two
possibilities shows that they may have been performed by a not-knowing
Maker and by chance alone. Just as a stone falling on the earth may
fall in any place, on any side, and in any form. It will show the want
of the existence either of a creator at all or at least of a wise and
knowing Creator. The thing which has compelled the Mutakallimun of the
Asharites to adopt this opinion is a denial of the action of those
natural forces which God has put in all things, as He has endowed them
with life, power and so forth. They avoided the opinion that there was
any other creator but God, and God forbid that there be any other, for
he is the only creator of the causes and they are made effective by
His command only. We will talk of this in detail when discoursing on
Fate and Predestination. They were also afraid that by admitting the
natural causes they might be accused of saying that the universe came
into being by chance only. They would have known that a denial of it
means a denial of a great part of the arguments, which can be advanced
for a proof of the existence of God. One who denies any part of God’s
creation denies His work which falls very near to a denial of a part
of His attributes. On the whole as their opinion is based upon hasty
conclusions, which come to the mind of a man by superficial thought
and as apparently it appears that the word “intention” can be applied
to one who has power to do bad or otherwise, they saw that if they did
not admit that all the creation is possible, they would not be able to
say that it came into existence by the action of an intending creator.
So they say that all the creation is possible so that they may prove
that the creator is an intelligent one. They never thought of the order
which is necessary in things made, and with that their coming from an
intelligent creator. These people have also ignored the blame they will
have to bear in thus denying wisdom to the creator; or maintaining that
chance should be found governing creation. They know, as we have said,
that it is necessary, on account of the order existent in nature, that
it must have been brought into being by some knowing creator, otherwise
the order found in it would be by chance. When they were compelled to
deny the natural forces, they had to deny with them a large number of
those forces which God has made subservient to His command for the
creation and preservation of things. For God has created some things
from causes which He has produced from outside, these are the heavenly
bodies; there are other things which He has made by causes placed in
the things themselves, that is, the soul, and other natural forces,
by which he preserves those things. So how wicked is the man who
destroyeth philosophy, and “inventeth a lie about God.”[98]

This is only a part of the change which has taken place in the Law,
in this and other respects, which we have already mentioned, and will
mention hereafter. From all this it must have become clear to you
that the method which God had adopted for teaching His creatures that
the universe is made and created by Him is the method of kindness
and wisdom, towards all His creatures and especially towards man.
It is a method which bears the same relation to our intellect, as
the sun bears to our senses. The method which it has adopted towards
the common people about this problem, is that of illustration from
things observed. But as there was nothing which could be given as an
illustration, and as the common people cannot understand a thing, an
illustration of which they cannot see, God tells us that the universe
was created in a certain time out of a certain thing, which He made.
He tells us His condition before the creation of the universe, “His
throne was above the waters.”[99] He also says, “Verily your Lord is
God who created the heavens and the earth in six days,”[100] and “Then
He set His mind to the creation of the heavens, and it was smoke.”[101]
In addition to these there are other verses of the Book, pertaining to
this subject. So it is incumbent that nothing out of them should be
interpreted for the common people, and nothing should be presented to
them in explaining it but this illustration. For one who changes it,
makes the wisdom of the Law useless. If it be said that the Law teaches
about the universe that it is created, and made out of nothing and in
no time, then it is a thing which even the learned cannot understand,
not to speak of the common people. So we should not deviate in this
matter of the Law, from the method laid down in it for instructing
the common people, and should not tell them except this regarding the
creation of the universe, which is found alike in the Quran, the Bible,
and other revealed books. The wonder is that the example in the Quran
is quite in accordance with the creation of the things in the visible
world. But the Law does not say so, which is a warning to the learned
people that the creation of the universe is not like the creation of
all other things. He has used the words _creation_ and _flaw_, because
they connote two things,--Conception of the things that can be seen,
and the creation of the things which the learned prove in the invisible
world. So the use of the words _creation_ (Huduth) and _eternal_ is an
innovation in religion, and the cause of great doubt and corruption of
the belief of the common people, especially of the argumentative among
them. This has greatly perplexed the Mutakallimun of the Asharites,
and has proved them in great doubt. For if they explain that God
intends doing things by an eternal intention--which, as we said, is an
innovation--they have put it down that the universe is _created_. Then
they are asked how can a created thing come from an eternal intention.
They answer that the eternal intention became connected with the action
at the time of the creation especially, and that is the time in which
the universe was made. Then they may be asked, that if the relation
of the intending Creator towards the created thing at the time of its
non-existence be the same as at the time of its creation, then that
created thing is by no means better than the other thing, when at the
time of its making, the action which was not found in its non-existence
is not connected with it. If the relation be different then there must
necessarily be a created intention otherwise the created result of an
action would come from an eternal action, for what is necessary of it
in action, is necessary also in intention. If it be said that when the
time of its making comes it is found done; it may be asked: is it so
by an eternal or a created action? If they say by an eternal action,
they admit the existence of a created thing by an eternal action; and
if they say by a created action, then there must be a created intention
also. They may say that intention is the action itself, but this is
impossible. For intention is the only cause of the action in the
intender. If an intender, intending to do an act in a certain time,
finds that act quite another than that which he intended, then that
act would have come into being without any intender at all. At the
same time, if it is thought that from a created intention there can
only be a created thing, then as a rule an eternal intention should
give an eternal thing, otherwise the result of a created or eternal
intention would be the same, which is impossible. All these doubts
are found in Islam only through the Mutakallimun, by their explaining
things in Law, which God had forbidden them to do. For in the Quran it
is not said whether intention is created or eternal. So they neither
adhere to the exoteric meanings of the Law, which may have given them
beatitude and salvation, nor did they attain the degree of certain and
exact knowledge, so that they may have had this blessing. Hence they
are neither to be counted among the learned nor among the masses, who
believe and have strong faith. They are the people “whose hearts are
perverse”[102] and “whose hearts are diseased.”[103] They say things by
their tongues which are quite contrary to those which they believe in
their hearts, a cause of which is their tenacity, and love of upholding
their opinions at any cost. By a repetition of attitudes like these
they become quite devoid of all philosophy, as we see the case of
those who are completely accustomed to the Asharite school of thought,
and are well pleased with it, even to the degree of love. They are
certainly veiled on account of their habit and environment.

What we have said about this question is enough for our purpose. Now we
would take up the second problem.

Problem Second: Prophetic Mission:--There are two points which are to
be discussed in this problem. First, the proof of the coming of the
prophets; and secondly an explanation of the fact that the man claiming
to be a prophet is really so and does not lie. Many people are desirous
of proving the existence of the prophets by analogy--and such are the
Mutakallimun. They say that it is proved that God speaks and intends,
and is the master of His creatures. It is quite consistent for such a
being in the visible world to send a messenger to his dependent people.
Hence such a thing is also possible in the unseen world. They have
thought of making this valid for proving the advent of the prophets, by
absurd and far-fetched arguments which only Brahmins should use. They
say that it is possible both in the observed and unseen world. In the
observed world it is quite evident, that when a man stands up before a
king and says, “O ye men, I am the messenger of the king towards you”
and produces credentials for his claim, it is necessary to acknowledge
him to be true. They say that in the case of the prophets, the
credentials are the miracles which they perform. For certain reasons
this method is quite fit and satisfactory for the common people,
but when investigated there appear many flaws in the principle. Our
acknowledgement of a man who claims to be the messenger of a king is
not true unless we know that the symbols which he has are those of the
royal messenger, which can only happen, if a king tells his subjects
that whenever they happen to see such and such symbols with a man,
which are particularly his, they should take him as his messenger. When
this is so, one can object, from where does it appear that performance
of miracles is the special sign of the prophets? This can be proved
neither by law nor by reason. To prove it by religion is still more
impossible; it does not admit it. Reason alone cannot affirm that they
are the special symbols of prophecy, except that in many cases they
were found in people who claimed to be prophets and in none other. So
in this case a proof of anyone’s prophecy is based upon two premises.
First, the man who claims to be a prophet has performed a miracle, and
secondly, everyone who performs a miracle is a prophet.

Now as to the premise that the claimant for prophecy has performed
miracles we can say that it pertains to our senses after we have
admitted that there are actions performed by men, which can neither
be made by wondrous workmanship or by some particular forces, but are
beyond our conception. The second premise can only be true when we
admit the existence of the prophets, and that the miracles are only
performed by those who are the true claimants for prophetic mission.
We would say that this premise is not true but for those who believe
the existence of the prophets and the miracles. For instance if it has
become clear to man, that the universe is created, then he certainly
knows that the world exists and the Creator too. This being so, a man
can object and say how can we say that one who performs the miracles
is a prophet, when the prophetic mission itself remains unproved? Even
after we admit the existence of miracle in the manner in which it
may seem quite impossible, it is necessary that the two sides of the
premise be admitted first and then the one can be applied to the other.
One cannot say that the existence of the prophets can be proved by
reason, because of its possibility. For the possibility to which they
refer is in fact really ignorance, and is not found in the nature of
things. For instance, if we say that it is possible that it will rain
or not, then the possibility is found in the nature of things, that
is, it is felt that a thing may sometimes be, and at others not be, as
in the case of rain. Here, reason can exactly decide the possibility
of a thing by its nature. The necessary (_wajib_) is quite contrary to
it; that is, it is a thing the existence of which is always found.
In this case reason can always decide without a mistake, because its
nature cannot be changed or transformed. So when one party admits the
existence of a prophet, at a certain time it appears that the prophetic
mission is a thing whose existence is possible and the other party says
that it cannot feel it, then that possibility becomes mere ignorance in
its case. Now we believe in the existence of this possibility because
we have known the prophets. We say that a knowledge of the messengers
from man, leads us to a belief in the existence of messengers from God,
as the existence of a messenger from Anir, leads us to the conclusion
of there being a messenger from Zaid also. This requires a similarity
in the natural dispositions of both men and it is here where the
difficulty lies. If we suppose this possibility by itself even in the
future, it will only be by the means of the known fact and not by our
knowledge and reason. Now one of the premises of this possibility has
come into existence. For the possibility is in our knowledge, and the
fact in itself is an established one, by one of the two alternatives,
that is, whether he sent a messenger or did not. So we have nothing
in this case but sheer ignorance, as is the doubt whether Anir sent
any messengers in the past or did not, which is quite different from
our doubting, whether or not he will send any in future. So when we do
not know about Zaid, for instance, whether he has or has not sent any
messenger in the past, it is not correct for us to suppose anybody to
be his messenger, if he happens to have his symbols upon him. We can
admit his claim only after we know that Zaid did send a messenger. So
when we admit the existence of the prophetic mission, and the miracles,
then how can it be correct for us to say that one who performs the
miracles is a prophet. We cannot believe in this by hearing only, for
this faculty is not the thing by which such things can be proved. At
the same time we cannot claim this premise to be true by experience
and habit, except that the miracles performed by the prophets can be
seen by one who believes in their mission, and has never seen them to
have been performed by anybody else, so that they may be taken as a
convincing sign for distinguishing a prophet of God, from one who is
not, that is a distinction between one whose claim is right, and one
whose claim is wrong.

By these things it is seen that the Mutakallimun have missed the
whole purpose of the argument from miracles because they have put
possibility in the place of real existence, possibility which is in
reality ignorance. Then they have believed in the premise that every
one who performs miracles is a prophet, which cannot be true except
when the miracles prove the prophetic mission itself, and the sender of
messengers. It is not by reason that we can believe in these marvelous
things, which happen again and again, and are divine, as a conclusive
proof of the existence of prophetic mission, except that one who can do
such things is an excellent person, and that such persons cannot lie.
But it can prove the prophetic mission of a person only when we admit
that the mission does exist, and that such marvelous things cannot be
performed by any person, however good he may be, except by one who is a
a prophet. The miracles cannot prove the prophetic mission of a person,
because there is no connection between them and reason, except that
we admit that the miracles are one of the works of the prophets, just
as curing is the work of the physicians, so that one who can cure is
certainly a physician. This is one of the fallacies of the argument.
Moreover, if we admit the existence of the prophetic mission, by
putting the idea of possibility, which is in fact ignorance, in place
of certainty, and make miracles a proof of the truth of man who claims
to be a prophet it becomes necessary that they should not be used by a
person, who says that they can be performed by others than prophets,
as the Mutakallimun do. They think that the miracles can be performed
by the magicians and saints. The condition which they attach with them
is that miracles prove a man to be a prophet, when he at the same time
claims to be so, for the true prophet can perform them as opposed to
the false ones. This is an argument without any proof, for it can be
understood either by hearing or reason. That is, it is said that one
whose claims to prophecy are wrong, cannot perform miracles, but as
we have already said, when they cannot be performed by a liar, then
they can only be done by the good people, whom God has meant for this
purpose. These people, if they speak a lie, are not good, and hence
cannot perform the miracles. But this does not satisfy the people who
think miracles to be possible from the magicians, for they certainly
are not good men. It is here that the weakness of the argument lies.
Hence some people have thought that the best thing is to believe that
they cannot be performed but by the prophets and hence magic is only
imagination, and not a change of essence. Among these are also men who
deny all sorts of marvelous things from the saints.

It is clear to you from the life of the prophet, peace be upon him,
that he never invited any man or community to believe in his prophecy,
and that which he has brought with him from God, by means of the
performance of any miracles, in support of his claim, such as changing
one element into another. Whatever miracles did appear from him were
only performed in the natural course of things, without on his part
any intention of contention or competition. The following words of
the Quran will make this clear; “And they say: We will by no means
believe in thee, until thou cause a spring of water to gush forth
for us out of the earth, and thou have a garden of palm-trees and
vines, and thou cause rivers to spring forth from the midst thereof in
abundance; or thou cause the heaven to fall down in pieces upon us, as
thou hast given out, or thou bring down God and the angels to vouch
for thee; or thou have a house of gold, or thou ascend by a ladder to
heaven; neither will we believe thy ascending thither alone, until
thou cause a book to descend unto us, bearing witness of thee which we
may read. Answer: My Lord be praised, Am I other than a man sent as
an apostle?”[104] Then again, “Nothing hindered us from sending thee
with miracles, except that the former nations have charged them with
imposture.”[105] The thing by which we invited the people to believe in
him, and with which he vied with them is the Quran. For says God, “Say,
verily, if men and genii were purposely assembled, that they might
produce a book like this Quran, they could not produce one like unto
it, although the one of them assigned the other.”[106] Then further he
says, “will they say, He hath forged the Quran? Answer, bring therefore
ten chapters like unto it forged by yourself.”[107] This being the case
the miracle of the Prophet with which he vied with the people and which
he advanced as an argument for the truth of his claim to the prophetic
mission, was the Quran. If it be said, that this is quite clear, but
how does it appear that the Quran is a miracle, and that it proves his
prophecy, while just now we have proved the weakness of the proof of
prophecy by means of miracles without any exceptions in the case of
any prophet. Besides the people have differed in taking the Quran to
be a miracle at all. For in their opinion one of the conditions of a
miracle is that it should be quite different from any act which may
have become habitual. But the Quran is of this sort, because it is only
word, though it excels all created words. So it becomes a miracle by
its superiority only, that is, the impossibility for people bringing
anything like it, on account of its being highly eloquent. This being
the case it differs from the habitual, not in genus but in details
only, and that which differs in this way is of the same genus. Some
people say that it is a miracle by itself, and not by its superiority.
They do not lay it down as a condition for miracles that they should
be quite different from the habitual, but think that it should be
such a habitual act, as men may fall short of accomplishing. We would
reply that it is as the objectors say, but the thing about it is not
as they have thought. That the Quran is an evidence of his prophecy,
is based, we believe, upon two principles, which are found in the Book
itself. The first being that the existence of the class of men called
prophets and apostles is well-known. They are the men who lay down
laws for the people by divine revelation, and not by human education.
Their existence can be denied only by the people who deny repeated
action, as the existence of all things which we have not seen--the
lives of the famous thinkers and so forth. All the philosophers, and
other men are agreed, except those who pay no regard to their words,
(and they are the Materialists), that there are men to whom have been
revealed many commandments for the people, to perform certain good
actions, by which their beatitude may be perfected; and to make them
give up certain wrong beliefs and vicious actions. This is the business
of divine apostles. The second principle is, that everyone who does
this work, that is, lays down laws by revelation, is a prophet. This
principle is also quite in accordance with human nature. For as it
is known that the business of medicine is to cure a disease, and one
who can cure is a physician, so it is also known that the business of
the prophets is to give law to the people by divine revelation, and
one who does so is a prophet. The Book mentions the first principle
in the following:--“Verily We have revealed Our will unto thee, as We
have revealed it unto Noah, and the prophets who succeeded him, and
We have revealed it unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob,
and the tribes, and unto Jesus, and Job, and Jonas, and Aaron and
Solomon; and we have given thee the Quran as We gave the Psalms unto
David; some apostles have We sent, whom We have mentioned unto thee,
and God spake unto Moses discoursing with him,”[108] and again: “Say,
I am not alone among the apostles.”[109] The second principle is that
Mohammed, peace be upon him, has done the work of a prophet, that is,
has given Law to the people by divine revelation. This also can be
known from the Quran, where God mentions it. He says, “O men, now is
an evident proof come unto you from your Lord, and We have sent down
unto you manifest light.”[110] By _manifest light_ is meant the Quran.
Again He says, “O men, now is the apostle come unto you from your Lord;
believe, therefore, it will be better for you,”[111] and again, “But
those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and faithful, who
believe in that which hath been sent down unto thee, and that which
hath been sent down unto the prophets before thee;”[112] and again “God
is the witness of the revelation which He hath sent down unto thee; He
sent it down with his special knowledge; the angels are also witness
thereof; but God is a sufficient witness.”[113] If it be said, how can
the first principle be known, that is, that there is a class of men
who give the Law to the people by divine revelation; and so also, how
to know the second principle, that is, that which the Quran contains,
about beliefs and actions, is of divine origin? We would answer that
the first principle can be known by the information which these men
give about the existence of things, which were not found before, but
come into existence after they have informed the people about them, and
in a specified time; and by their command for doing certain things, and
teaching certain precepts which do not resemble the common things and
actions, which can be taught by human agency. This is so because if the
miracles be of the kind of laying down Laws, proving that they cannot
be laid down by human education, but only through divine revelation,
then it is prophecy. But the miracles which do not take the form of
laws, as the dividing of the sea, etc., do not necessarily prove the
prophecy of anyone. But they can only be used as supplements to the
former, if they fall very near to it. But standing alone they cannot
prove it, and so by themselves alone they do not lead to a cognizance
of the prophets, if the other kind of miracles, which are its
conclusive proofs, be not found in them. So according to this principle
must be understood the proofs of prophecy afforded by miracles, that
is, the miracles of knowledge and deeds are its conclusive proofs
while others only make it strong, and can be used as witnesses. So
now it has become clear to you that men of this kind do exist, and
how can men be sure of them, except by their repeated appearance; as
is the case with physicians and other kinds of men. If it be asked:
How can it be proved that the Quran is a conclusive proof that is a
miracle which is the business of the prophets to perform, as curing is
the business of a physician, we would say that this can be known in
many ways:--First, the precepts which it contains about knowledge and
deeds, cannot be acquired by learning, but only by divine revelation;
secondly, by the information which it gives about hidden things; and
thirdly, by its poetry, which is quite different from that which can
be achieved by imagination or repetition of verses, that is, it is
known that it is of quite a different kind from the poetry of Arabic
speaking people, whether the language be acquired and learned, as is
the case with non-Arabs, or it be the mother-tongue, as it is with the
Arabs themselves. The first reason is the most weighty one. If it be
asked how can it be known that the laws which contain both knowledge
and precepts about deeds are of divine origin, so much so that they
deserve the name of the word of God, we would say also that this also
can be known in many ways. First, a knowledge of the laws cannot be
acquired except after a knowledge of God, and of human happiness and
misery; and the acts by which this happiness can be acquired, as
charity and goodness and the works which divert men from happiness
and produce eternal misery, such as evil and wickedness. Again the
knowledge of human happiness and misery requires a knowledge of the
soul and its substance, and whether it has eternal happiness or not.
If it be so, then what is the quantity of this happiness, or misery;
and also what amount of good would be the cause of happiness. For the
case of goodness and evil is just the same as with food, which does
not give health, if taken in any quantity and at any time; but must be
used in a specified quantity and at an appointed time. For this reason
we find these limited in the religious laws. All this, or a greater
part of it, cannot be known but by divine revelation, or at least a
knowledge through it would be better. Again a perfect knowledge of God
requires a knowledge of existent things. Then a law-giver must know the
quantity of this knowledge which would be good to be imparted to the
common people, and the method to be adopted in teaching them. All this,
or at least a greater part of it, cannot be acquired by education,
learning or philosophy. This can be clearly known from imparting
learning, and especially the giving of laws, making regulations, and
giving information about the conditions of the Day of Judgment. When
all this is found in the Quran in the most perfect form, there can be
no doubt that it is a divine revelation and His word, given through
the agency of His prophet. So God has said, informing the people about
it, “Say, verily if man and genii were purposely assembled, that they
might produce a book like this Quran, they could not produce one like
it.” This idea is further strengthened, nay, comes near exact surety
and certainty, when it is known that the prophet was an unlettered
man, and lived among a people, uneducated, wild, and nomadic by habit,
who had never tried to investigate the universe, as was the case with
the Greeks, and other nations, among whom philosophy was perfected in
long periods of time. To this very fact refer the words of God, “Thou
couldst not read any book before this; neither couldst thou write
it with thy right hand, then had gainsayers justly doubted of the
divine origin thereof.”[114] Hence God has repeatedly told the people
this quality of His prophet. “It is He who hath raised up among the
illiterate Arabians an apostle from among themselves,”[115] and, “Those
who shall follow the Apostle the illiterate Prophet.”[116] This matter
can also be known by another method--that of comparison of this Law
with the others. For, if the business of the prophets be the giving
of laws by divine revelation, as has been acknowledged by all who
believe in the existence of the prophets, then if you look into the
teachings of useful knowledge and actions leading to happiness, which
are contained in the Quran, and compare them with other divine books
and religious systems, you will find it excelling all the others in an
unlimited degree. On the whole, if there are books worthy to be called
the words of God, on account of their wondrous nature, and separation
from the genius of human words and their peculiarity by what they
contain in regard to knowledge and deeds, then it is clear that the
Quran is much more worth thy, and many times fitter, than they are to
be called the words of God. This would be still clearer to you if you
could know the past books--the Old and New Testaments. But that is not
possible because they have been changed to a great extent. Were we to
describe the superiority of one Law over another, and the superiority
of the teachings given to us about the knowledge of God, and the Day
of Judgment to the laws given to the Jews and the Christians, it would
require many volumes with a confession of our own short-comings in
dealing with the subject. For this very reason, the Law of ours has
been called the last of the divine dispensations. The Prophet, peace be
on him, has said, “Had Moses lived in my time, he could not have helped
following me,” and the Prophet was right, on account of the universal
nature of the teachings of the Quran, and its regulations. That is it
is able to satisfy the needs of all, being meant for the whole of the
human race. So God has said, “say, O men, Verily I am the messenger of
God unto you all.”[117] The Prophet has said, “I have been sent both to
the white and the black nations.”

The case of religions is just the same as that of God. There are some
foods which agree with all, or most of the people. Such is the case
with religions also. So the dispensations before our own were meant
for some particular peoples, ignoring all others, but our religion was
meant for the whole of the human race. This being the case, our Prophet
excels all the other Prophets, to him comes the divine revelation,
which makes a man fit to be called a prophet. So the Prophet has said
informing us of his superiority over other prophets, “There is no
prophet to whom has not been given a sign by which all the men would
have believed. I have been given divine revelation, and I hope that my
followers would be in the majority on the Day of Judgment.” All that we
have said must have made it clear to you that the proof of the prophecy
of the prophet from the Quran is not of the same kind as that of
turning a staff into a serpent for the proof of the prophecy of Moses,
or of giving life to the dead, and curing the blind and leprous for the
prophecy of Jesus. For these, although never performed by any but the
prophets, and sufficient to satisfy the common people, are not by any
means conclusive proofs of prophecy, when taken by themselves,--they
not being acts which make a prophet.

Now as to the Quran, its case is just like curing by medicine. For
instance, suppose two men were to claim to be physicians, and one were
to say that he could walk on water, and the other were to assert that
he could cure a disease, and so one walked on the water, and the other
cured a sick man. In this case, our verification for medicine would be
only for one who has cured a sick man, but in the case of the other, it
would be outward satisfaction alone. The first is far better. The only
reason by which the common people can be satisfied in this respect is
that one who can walk on water, which is against the nature of men, can
certainly cure a disease, which is what men can do. This also is one of
the reasons of the connection between miracle, which is not one of the
conditions of prophecy, and the sign which makes a man deserve the name
of a prophet: divine revelation. Of this quality is also the fact, that
there comes nothing to the mind of such a man except that which God has
ordained for this unique work, and specialised him for it, among all
his fellow-men. So it is not inconsistent if he were to claim that God
distinguished him with his revelations.

On the whole, when once it is laid down that the prophets do exist,
and that the miracles cannot be performed except by them, they can
become a prophecy, that is the miracles which are not in any way fit
to be received as a proof for it. This is the method to be adopted
with regard to the common people. For the doubts and objections which
we have described about unnatural miracles are not perceived by the
masses. But if you look intently you will find that the Law depends
upon suitable and natural miracles, and not upon unnatural ones. What
we have said about this problem is enough for our purpose and for the
sake of truth.

Problem Third: Of Fate and Predestination. This is one of the most
intricate problems of religion. For if you look into the traditional
arguments about this problem you will find them contradictory; such
also being the case with arguments of reason. The contradiction in the
arguments of the first kind is found in the Quran and the Traditions.
There are many verses of the Quran, which by their universal nature,
teach that all the things are predestined, and that man is compelled
to do his acts; then there are verses which say that man is free in
his acts and not compelled in performing them. The following verses
tell us that all the things are by compulsion, and are predestined,
“Everything have We created bound by a fixed degree;”[118] again, “With
Him everything is regulated according to a determined measure.”[119]
Further, He says, “No accident happeneth in the earth, nor in your
persons, but the same was entered in the Book verily it is easy with
God.”[120] There may be quoted many other verses on this subject. Now,
as to the verses which say that man can acquire deeds by free will,
and that things are only possible and not necessary, the following may
be quoted: “Or He destroyeth them (by ship-wreck), because of that
which their crew have merited; though He pardoneth many things.”[121]
And again, “Whatever misfortune befalleth you is sent you by God,
for that which your hands have deserved.”[122] Further, He says,
“But they who commit evil, equal thereunto.”[123] Again, He says,
“It shall have the good which it gaineth, and it shall have the evil
which it gaineth.”[124] and, “And as to Thamud, We directed them,
but they loved blindness better than the true directions.”[125]
Sometimes contradiction appears even in a single verse of the Quran.
For instance, He says, “After a misfortune hath befallen you (you had
already attained two equal advantages), do you say, whence cometh
this? Answer, This is from yourselves.”[126] In the next verse, He
says, “And what happenth unto you, on the day whereon the two armies
met, was certainly by permission of the Lord.”[127] Of this kind also
is the verse, “Whatever good befalleth thee, O man, it is from God;
and whatever evil befalleth thee, it is from thyself;”[128] while the
preceding verse says, “All is from God.”[129]

Such is also the case with the Traditions. The Prophet says, “Every
child is born in the true religion; his parents afterwards turn him
into a Jew or a Christian.” On another occasion he said, “The following
people have been created for hell, and do the deeds of those who are
fit for it. These have been created for heaven, and do deeds fit for
it.” The first Tradition says that the cause of disbelief is one’s own
environments; while faith and belief are natural to man. The other
Tradition says that wickedness and disbelief are created by God, and
man is compelled to follow them.

This condition of things has led Muslims to be divided into two
groups. The one believed that man’s wickedness or virtue is his own
acquirement, and that according to these he will be either punished
or rewarded. These are the Mutazilites. The belief of the other party
is quite opposed to this. They say that man is compelled to do his
deeds. They are the Jabarites. The Asharites have tried to adopt a mean
between these two extreme views. They say that man can do action, but
the deeds done, and the power of doing it, are both created by God.
But this is quite meaningless. For if the deed and the power of doing
it be both created by God, then man is necessarily compelled to do the
act. This is one of the reasons of the difference of opinion about this

As we have said there is another cause of difference of opinion
about this problem, than the traditional one. This consists of the
contradictory arguments advanced. For if we say that man is the creator
of his own deeds, it would be necessary to admit that there are things
which are not done according to the will of God, or His authority.
So there would be another creator besides God, while the Muslims are
agreed that there is no creator but He. If, on the other hand, we were
to suppose that man cannot act freely, we admit that he is compelled
to do certain acts, for there is no mean between compulsion and
freedom. Again, if man is compelled to do certain deeds, then on him
has been imposed a task which he cannot bear; and when he is made to
bear a burden, there is no difference between his work and the work
of inorganic matter. For inorganic matter has no power, neither has
the man the power for that which he cannot bear. Hence all people have
made capability one of the conditions for the imposition of a task,
such as wisdom we find Abul Maali, saying in his _Nizamiyyah_, that
man is free in his own deeds and has the capability of doing them. He
has established it upon the impossibility of imposing a task which one
cannot bear, in order to avoid the principle formerly disproved by the
Mutazilites, on account of its being unfit by reason. The succeeding
Asharites have opposed them. Moreover if man had no power in doing a
deed, then it will be only by chance that he may escape from evil,
and that is meaningless. Such also would be the case with acquiring
goodness. In this way all those arts which lead to happiness, as
agriculture etc., would become useless. So also would become useless
all those arts the purpose of which is protection from, and repulsion
of danger as the sciences of war, navigation, medicine etc. such a
condition is quite contrary to all that is intelligible to man.

Now it may be asked that if the case is so, how is this contradiction
which is to be found both in tradition and reason to be reconciled we
would say, that apparently the purpose of religion in this problem is
not to divide it into two separate beliefs, but to reconcile them by
means of a middle course, which is the right method. It is evident that
God has created in us power by which we can perform deeds which are
contradictory in their nature. But as this cannot be complete except
by the cause which God has furnished for us, from outside, and the
removal of difficulties from them, the deeds done are only completed
by the conjunction of both these things at the same time. This being
so the deeds attributed to us are done by our intention, and by the
fitness of the causes which are called the _Predestination_ of God,
which He has furnished for us from outside. They neither complete the
works which we intend nor hinder them, but certainly become the cause
of our intending them--one of the two things. For intention is produced
in us by our imagination, or for the verification of a thing, which in
itself is not in our power, but comes into being by causes outside us.
For instance, if we see a good thing, we like it, without intention,
and move towards acquiring it. So also, if we happen to come to a thing
which it is better to shun, we leave it without intention. Hence our
intentions are bound and attached to causes lying outside ourselves.
To this the following words of God, refer “Each of them hath angels,
mutually succeeding each other, before him and behind him; they watch
him by the command of God.”[130] As these outside causes take this
course according to a well defined order and arrangement, and never
go astray from the path which their Creator hath appointed for them,
and our own intentions can neither be compelled, nor ever found, on
the whole, but by _their_ fitness, so it is necessary that actions
too should also be within well-defined limits, that is, they be found
in a given period of time and in a given quantity. This is necessary
because our deeds are only the effects of causes, lying outside us;
and all the effects which result from limited and prearranged causes,
are themselves limited, and are found in a given quantity only. This
relation does not exist only between our actions and outside causes,
but also between them and the causes which God has created in our
body, and the well-defined order existing between the inner and outer
causes. This is what is meant by Fate and predestination, which is
found mentioned in the Quran and is incumbent upon man. This is also
the “Preserved Tablet.”[131] God’s knowledge of these causes, and that
which pertains to them, is the cause of their existence. So no one
can have a full knowledge of these things except God, and hence He
is the only Knower of secrets, which is quite true; as God has said,
“Say, None either in heaven or earth, knoweth that which is hidden
besides God.”[132] A knowledge of causes is a knowledge of secret
things, because the secret is a knowledge of the existence of a thing,
before it comes into being. And as the arrangement and order of causes
bring a thing into existence or not at a certain time, there must be
a knowledge of the existence or non-existence of a thing at a certain
time. A knowledge of the causes as a whole, is the knowledge of what
things would be found or not found at a certain moment of time. Praised
be He, Who has a complete knowledge of creation and all of its causes.
This is what is meant by the “keys of the secret,” in the following
words of God, “with Him are the keys of secret things; none knoweth
them besides Himself.”[133]

All that we have said being true, it must have become evident how we
can acquire our deeds, and how far they are governed by predestination
and fate. This very reconciliation is the real purpose of religion by
those verses and Traditions which are apparently contradictory. When
their universal nature be limited in this manner, those contradictions
should vanish by themselves, and all the doubts which were raised
before, about the contradictory nature of reason, would disappear. The
existent things from our volition are completed by two things: our
intention and the other causes. But when the deeds are referred to
only by one of these agencies, doubts would rise. It may be said is a
good answer, and here reason is in perfect agreement with religion,
but it is based upon the principles that these are agreed that there
are creative causes bringing into existence other things; while the
Muslims are agreed that there is no Creator but God. We would say that
whatever they have agreed upon is quite right, but the objection can
be answered in two ways. One of them is that this objection itself can
be understood in two ways; one of them being that there is no Creator
but God, and all those causes which He has created, cannot be called
creators, except speaking figuratively. Their existence also depends
upon Him. He alone has made them to be causes, nay, He only preserves
their existence as creative agents, and protects their effects after
their actions. He again, produces their essences at the moment when
causes come together. He alone preserves them as a whole. Had there
been no divine protection they could not have existed for the least
moment of time. Abu Hamid (Al-Ghazzali) has said that a man who makes
any of the causes to be co-existent with God is like a man who makes
the pen share the work of a scribe in writing; that is, he says
that the pen is a scribe and the man is a scribe too. He means that
_writing_ is a word which may be applied to both, but in reality they
have no resemblance in anything but word, for otherwise there is no
difference between them. Such is also the case with the word _Creator_,
when applied to God and the Causes. We say that in this illustration
there are doubts. It should have been clearly shown, whether the scribe
was the Creator of the essence (_Jawhar_) of pen, a preserver of it, as
long as it remains a pen, and again a preserver of the writing after
it is written, a Creator of it after it has come in touch with the
pen, as we have just explained that God is the Creator of the essences
(_Jawahir_) of everything which come into contact with its causes, which
are so called only by the usage. This is the reason why there is no
creator but God--a reason which agrees with our feelings, reason and
religion. Our feelings and reason see that there are things which
produce others. The order found in the universe is of two kinds: that
which God has put in the nature and disposition of things; and that
which surround the universe from outside. This is quite clear in the
movement of the heavenly bodies. For it is evident that the sun and the
moon, the day and night, and all other stars are obedient to us; and it
is on this arrangement and order which God has put in their movements
that our existence and that of all other things depends. So even if we
imagine the least possible confusion in them, with them in any other
position, size and rapidity of movement which God has made for them,
all the existent things upon the earth would be destroyed. This is so
because of the nature in which God has made them and the nature of the
things which are effected by them. This is very clear in the effects
of the sun and the moon upon things of this world; such also being the
case with the rains, winds, seas and other tangible things. But the
greater effect is produced upon plants, and upon a greater number,
or all, on the animals. Moreover, it is apparent that had there not
been those faculties which God has put in our bodies, as regulating
them that could not exist even for a single moment after birth. But
we say, had there not been the faculties found in all the bodies of
the animals, and plants and those found in the world by the movement
of the heavenly bodies, then they would not have existed at all, not
even for a twinkling of the eye. So praised be the “Sagacious, the
Knowing.”[134] God has called our attention to this fact in His book,
“And He hath subjected the night and the day to your service; and the
sun and the moon and the stars, which are compelled to serve by His
Command;”[135] again, “Say, what think ye, if God should cover you with
perpetual night, until the day of Resurrection;”[136] and again, “Of
His mercy, He hath made you night and the day, that ye may rest in the
one, and may seek to obtain provision for yourselves of His abundance,
by your industry; in the other;”[137] and, “And He obligeth whatever is
in heaven or on earth to serve you.”[138] Further He says, “He likewise
compelleth the sun and the moon, which diligently perform their
courses, to serve you; and hath subjected the day and night to your
service,”[139] There may be quoted many other verses on the subject.
Had there been any wisdom in their existence by which God has favoured
us, and there would not have been those blessings for which we are to
be grateful to Him.

The second answer to the objection is, that we say that the things
produced out of it are of two kinds: essences and substances; and
movements, hardness, coldness and all other accidents. The essences
and substances are not created by any but God. Their causes effect
the accidents of those essences, and not the essences themselves. For
instance, man and woman are only the agents, while God is the real
creator of the child, and the life in it. Such is also the case with
agriculture. The earth is prepared and made ready for it, and the seed
scattered in it. But it is God who produces the ear of the corn. So
there is no creator but God, while created things are but essences. To
this refer the words of God. “O men, a parable is propounded unto you,
therefore, hearken unto it. Verily the idols which ye invoke, besides
God, can never create a single fly, although they may all assemble for
the purpose; and if the fly snatch anything from them they cannot turn
the same from it. Weak is the petitioner and the petitioned.”[140]
This is where the unbeliever wanted to mislead Abraham, when he said,
“I give life and kill.”[141] When Abraham saw that he could understand
it, he at once turned to the conclusive argument and said, “Verily, God
bringeth the sun from the east; do thou bring it from the west.”

On the whole, if the matter about the creator and the doer be
understood on this wise, there would be no contradiction, either in
Tradition or in reason. So we say that the word Creator does not
apply to the created things by any near or far-fetched metaphor, for
the meaning of the creator is the inventor of the essences. So God
has said, “God created you, and that which ye know.” It should be
known that one who denies the effect of the causes on the results of
them, also denies philosophy and all the sciences. For science is
the knowledge of the things by their causes, and philosophy is the
knowledge of hidden causes. To deny the causes altogether is a thing
which is unintelligible to human reason. It is to deny the Creator, not
seen by us. For the unseen in this matter must always be understood by
a reference to the seen.

So those men can have no knowledge of God, when they admit that for
every action there is an actor. It being so, the agreement of the
Muslims on the fact that there is no Creator but God cannot be perfect,
if we understand by it the denial of the existence of an agent in the
visible world. For from the existence of the agent in it, we have
brought an argument for the Creator in the invisible world. But when we
have once admitted the existence of the Creator in the invisible world,
it becomes clear that there is no Creative agent except one by His
command and will. It is also evident that we can perform our own deeds,
and that one who takes up only one side of the question is wrong, as is
the case with the Mutazilites and the Jabarites. Those who adopt the
middle Course, like the Asharites, for discovering the truth, cannot
find it. For they make no difference for a man between the trembling
and the movement of his hand by intention. There is no meaning in their
admitting that both the movements are not by ourselves. Because if
they are not by ourselves we have no power to check them, so we are
compelled to do them. Hence there is no difference between trembling
of hand and voluntary movement, which they would call acquired. So
there is no difference between them, except in their names, which never
effect the things themselves. This is all clear by itself.

Fourth Problem:--Divine Justice and Injustice. The Asharites have
expressed a very peculiar opinion, both with regard to reason and
religion; about this problem. They have explained it in a way in which
religion has not, but have adopted quite an opposite method. They
say that in this problem the case of the invisible world is quite
opposed to the visible. They think that God is just or unjust within
the limits of religious actions, so when a man’s action is just with
regard to religion, he also is just; and whatever religion calls
it to be unjust; He is unjust. They say that whatever has not been
imposed as a divinely ordained duty upon men, does not come within
the four walls of religion. He is neither just or unjust, but all His
actions about such things are just. They have laid down that there
is nothing in itself which may be called just or unjust. But to say
that there is nothing which may in itself be called good or bad is
simply intolerable. Justice is known as good, and injustice as bad.
So according to them, polytheism is in itself neither injustice nor
evil, but with regard to religion, and had religion ordained it, it
would have been just and true. Such also would have been the case with
any kind of sin. But all this is quite contrary to our traditions and
reason. As to tradition God has described himself as just, and denied
injustice to himself. He says “God hath borne witness that there is
no God but He; and the angels and those who are endowed with wisdom
profess the same, who executeth righteousness;”[142] and “Thy God is
not unjust towards His servants;”[143] and again, “Verily God will not
deal unjustly with men in any respect; but men deal unjustly with their
own souls.”[144] It may be asked, What is your opinion about misleading
the people, whether it is just or unjust, for God has mentioned in many
a verse of the Quran, “That He leads as well as misleads the people?”
He says, “God causeth to err whom He pleaseth, and directeth whom
He pleaseth;”[145] and, “If we had pleased, we had certainly given
every soul its direction.”[146] We would say that these verses cannot
be taken exoterically, for there are many verses which apparently
contradict them--the verses in which God denies injustice to himself.
For instance, He says, “He liketh not ingratitude (_Kufr_) in His
servant.”[147] So it is clear that as He does not like ingratitude even
from them, He certainly cannot cause them to err. As to the statement
of the Asharites that God sometimes does things which He does not like,
and orders others which He does not want, God forbid us from holding
such a view about him, for it is pure infidelity. That God has not
misled the people and has not caused them to err will be clear to you
from the following verses: “Wherefore be thou orthodox and set thy
face towards true religion, the institution of God, to which He hath
created man kindly disposed;”[148] and, “when thy Lord drew forth
their posterity from the lions of the sons of Adam.”[149] A Tradition
of the Prophet says, “Every child is born according to the divine

These being contradictions in this problem we should try to reconcile
them so that they may agree with reason. The verse, “Verily God will
cause to err whom He pleaseth, and will direct whom He pleaseth”
refers to the prearranged divine will, with which all things have
been endowed. They have been created erring, that is, prepared to go
astray by their very nature, and led to it by inner and outer causes.
The meaning of the verse, “If we had pleased, we have given unto every
soul its direction,” is that He thought of not creating people ready to
err, by their nature, or by the outer causes or by both, He could have
done so. But as the dispositions of men are different the words may
mislead the one and direct the other. For these are the verses which
speak of misleading the people. For instance, “He will thereby mislead
many, and will direct many thereby: but He will not mislead any thereby
except the transgressors”[150]; and, “We have appointed the vision
which we showed thee, and also the tree cursed in the Quran,”[151] and
the verses about the number of angels of hell. “Thus doth God cause
to err whom He pleaseth and He directeth whom He pleaseth.”[152] It
means that for evil natures, these verses are misleading, as for the
sick bodies even good drugs are injurious. But some one may object and
ask, what was the need of creating a class of men already prepared
to err, for this is the worst kind of injustice? We would say that
divine wisdom designated it so. The injustice would have consisted in
its being otherwise. For the nature and constitution of men, in His
very creation, are such that they require some men, though very few,
to be wicked and evil by their nature. Such is also the case with the
outer causes, made for directing the people to the right path, which
requires that some men must be bad. If many had been good then the
divine law would not have been fulfilled, because either there had not
been created things in which there is little evil and much good, for
the good would have disappeared on account of that little evil; or
there had been created things with much good and little evil. Now it is
well known that the existence of many good ones with a few evil ones,
is better than the non-existence of much good for the sake of little
evil. This very evil was the thing which remained hidden to the angels
when God informed them that He was going to create upon the earth, a
vicegerent, that is, a man. “When God said to the angels, I am going
to place a substitute on earth, they said, wilt thou place there one
who will do evil therein, and shed blood? but we celebrate thy praise,
and sanctify Thee. God answered, Verily I know that which ye know
not.”[153] He means that the thing which is hidden from them is that
when there is found both good and evil in a thing, and good overpowers
the evil, reason requires the creation of the one for the destruction
of the other. So from all these it is clear how misleading can be
attributed to Him, in spite of His justice, and injustice disproved.
The causes of misleading are created, because from them appear the
causes of direction to good. For some people have not been given causes
of direction to good in which there is found nothing which may lead to
erring. Such is the condition of the angels. So also the causes of good
have those evil, though in their nature much evil be not found; this
applies to man. It may be asked: What is the use of these contradictory
verses, thus compelling the people to take refuge in interpretations,
which you have absolutely forbidden? We would say that to explain this
problem to the common people, they have been compelled to adopt this
method. For they should know that God is just, and that He is the
Creator of all good and evil, instead of believing, as many nations
have done, that there are two Gods, the creator of good, and the
creator of evil. So now they know that He is the Creator of both. As
misleading is evil, and as there is no Creator but He, it was necessary
that it should be attributed to Him, like the creation of evil. But
this should be done without qualifying it, that is, that He created
good for its own sake, and evil for the sake of good--on account of
their connection with one another. In this way His creation of evil
would be quite just. To illustrate: fire has been made because of its
necessity for the existence of things, and without it they could not
have existed at all. It also destroys things by its very nature. But
if you think of the destruction and evil which it causes, and compare
it to the advantages which we derive out of it, you will find that its
existence is better than non-existence, that is,--good. Now the verse
of the Quran “No account shall be demanded of him for what He shall do;
but an account shall be demanded of them,” means that He does nothing
because it is incumbent upon him for it is degrading to him, to need
doing a thing. If it be so, God needs that thing for His own existence,
because of necessity or to be more perfect in His Being--and God is
free from such imperfections. Man is just because he gains something
good by being so, which he cannot gain otherwise. God is just, not that
He may become more perfect by His justice, but because His perfection
requires him to be just. When we understand it in this way it would be
evident, that He is not just in the same way as man is just. But it is
not right to say that He is not just at all, and that all His actions
are neither just nor unjust, as the Mutakallimuns have thought. For
it cannot be understood by human intellect, and is at the same time
falsifying religion. These people knew the meaning but were misled. For
if we say that He is not at all just, we falsify the principle that
there are things which are just and good in themselves and others which
are evil and unjust. Again, if we suppose that He is just in the same
way as man is, it becomes necessary to admit there is some defect in
him. For one who is just, his existence is for the sake of things for
which he is just, and so he is dependent upon another.

It should now be known that it is not necessary for all the people to
be told this interpretation in its entirety. Only those should be told
it who have some doubts about this problem. For not every one among the
common people is confronted by these contradictions in the universal
verses, and Tradition. Such people must believe in the exoteric
meanings of them. There is another reason for these verses. The common
people cannot differentiate between possible and impossible, while to
God is not ascribed power over the impossible. If they be told what is
impossible (_Mustahil_) and they think that God has power over it, and
then told that God has no power, they begin to think that there is some
defect in God, because He cannot do a certain thing and hence He is
weak. As the existence of things free from evil was possible according
to the masses, God has said, “If we had pleased, we had certainly given
every soul its direction; but the word which hath proceeded from Me
must necessarily be fulfilled, when I said, Verily I will fill the hell
with genii and men, altogether.”[154] This verse means one thing to
the common people, and the other to the learned. The former take it to
mean that it is not incumbent upon him that He should create a class of
men to whom evil may be attached. But it really means: Had we thought
we could create men with whom evil could not be attached, but would
have been good in all and all, and hence every one had been given his
guidance. This much is enough for this problem. Now we would deal with
the fifth question.

Problem fifth: Of the Conditions of the Day of Judgment:--The Day of
Judgment is a thing in which all the religions are agreed, and all the
learned men have proved it by arguments. The religions differ about
the conditions of its existence; nay, in reality they do not differ
about its condition, but about the visible things by which they should
explain to the common people the conditions of the unseen. There are
some religions which have made it only spiritual, that is, meant only
for the souls; while others have thought it to be both physical and
spiritual. The reconciliation in this matter depends upon the testimony
of divine revelation, and the necessary arguments of all the learned
men, that is, that for a man there are two blessings: of the present
world, and of the world to come, which is itself established upon
principles, admitted by all to be true. One of them is that when it is
clear that all the existent things have not been created in vain, but
for some particular work assigned to them, which is the sum total of
their life, then man is far fitter to be placed under this category.
God himself has warned us of the existence of this purpose in all the
created things. He says in the Quran, “We have created the heavens and
the earth, and whatever is between them, in vain. This is the opinion
of the unbelievers.”[155] Again, He says, describing and praising
the learned men, who have understood, the real and inner purpose of
this existence, “Who remember God standing, and sitting, and lying
on their sides; and meditate on the creation of heaven and earth,
saying, O Lord, thou hast not created this in vain; far be it from thee
therefore, deliver us from the torment of hell fire.”[156] The ultimate
purpose in the creation of man is still more evident in him, than in
other things. God has informed us of it in many a verses of the Quran.
He says, “Did ye think that we had created you in sport; and that ye
should not be brought again before us,”[157] and, “Doth man think, that
he shall be left at full liberty, without control?”[158] and further
on He says, “I have not created genii and men for any other end, but
that they should serve me.”[159] That is the genius out of all creation
which could know him. Again, He says, informing us of the importance
of knowing God, “What reason have I that I should not worship him who
hath created me? for unto him shall ye return.”[160] Now it being clear
that man has been created for a certain work, it is evident that the
work should be of a particular kind. For we see that everything has
been created for a certain work, which is found in it, and in none
other; that is, it is specialised in it. This being so, it is necessary
that the real purpose of man’s creation be those deeds which are found
in him, and in no other animal. These deeds pertain to his rational
powers. As there are two portions of the rational powers,--practical
and theoretical--it is evident that the first kind of thing is demanded
of him. That is, that his faculties of knowledge and science should be
found in their perfection. The deed by which soul acquires perfection
in those two faculties are goodness and virtue, and those that retard
it are evil and wicked. And as these actions are most of them fixed by
divine revelation, religions appeared to fix them. With that there also
appears a knowledge of those qualities, exhorting the people towards
them. They ordered men to act upon goodness, and shew evil. They taught
them the quantity of the deeds which will be good for all the people,
both in practice and in knowledge taken together. They also taught
them the theoretical knowledge of things, which all the people should
know, such as the knowledge of God, angels, of higher creation, and of
goodness. In this way they also taught them the quantity of the acts
which would be necessary to make the souls excel in virtue. This is
especially the case with our religion, Islam, for when compared with
other religions, it is found that it is absolutely _the_ best religion.
Hence it was the last of divine dispensations.

Now divine revelation has informed us in all the religions that the
soul will live, and all the argument of the learned people have
established the same. The souls are freed from physical desires after
death. If they be pure, their purity is doubled by this freedom from
desires. If they be evil this separation increases their depravity,
for they are troubled by the evil which they have already earned, and
their regret increases about the opportunities which they lost before
their separation from the body, for this purification is not possible
without it. It is to this that following verse refers:--A soul would
say, “Alas, for that I have been negligent in my duties towards God:
Verily I have been one of the scorners.”[161] All the religions agree
about this condition of man, and call it his last goodness or misery.
This being so, there could not be found in the visible world anything
which may be given as an illustration, so there is a difference in its
description in the revelations given to different prophets. We mean
to say, that there is a difference in illustrating the condition of
the good and bad soul on that occasion. There are some which have not
given any illustrations of that happiness or misery which the good and
bad souls will have there. They have only said that the conditions
there would be only spiritual, and pleasures angelic. Others have
given instances from the visible world; that is, they have given the
examples of the pleasures here for the pleasures of the next world,
after deducting the trouble borne in acquiring them, and in the same
way, they have illustrated the misery there, by the example of misery
here, after deducting the pleasure which we derive from it. Either the
people of these religions received from God revelations which those did
not receive who made the next world purely spiritual, or they saw, that
illustrations from things visible are best understood by the common
people and that they are best led so or checked from an action through
them. So they said that God will put back the good souls in their
respective bodies, and the best possible ease--in paradise. The bad
souls will also return to their bodies, where they will be in the worst
possible misery, which they call hell-fire.

This is true of our religion, Islam, in illustrating the conditions
of the next world. There are many verses of the Quran which contain
arguments as to the possibilities of the conditions of that world,
which can be understood and verified by all. For our reason cannot
apprehend these things more than the possibility of knowing which is
common to all, and which is of the kind of analogy of the existence
of the like from the being of the like, that is of its coming into
being. It is an analogy of the coming into being of the small from the
existence of the big and the great. For instance, God says, “And He
propoundeth unto us a comparison and forgetteth His Creation.”[162]
In these verses the argument used is the analogy of the return of the
beginning, when both are equal. In the following verse the argument of
those is refuted who differentiate between the real and _return_ of the
same thing. He says, “He giveth you fire out of a green tree.”[163]
The doubt is that the birth was from heat and moisture, while the
return will be from cold and dryness. So this doubt is met by the fact
that God can create the contrary from the contrary, as He can create
the like from the like. The analogy is drawn from the existence of
the little from the great. For example, God says, “Is not He who has
created the Heavens and the earth able to create new creatures like
unto them! yea, certainly; for He is the wise Creator.”[164] These
verses have two arguments for proving the resurrection and at the same
time refuting the arguments of those denying it. Were we to quote the
verses which give this proof our discourse would be lengthened. But all
of them are of the kind we have mentioned.

So, as we have already said, all the religions are agreed that there
is a blessing or misery for the human soul after death, but differ in
illustrating the conditions of that moment and in explaining it to
the common people. It seems that the illustration in our religion is
the most perfect of all for the understanding of the people, and at
the same time most inciting of them all to gain for their souls the
advantages of that day. And it is the many with whom lies the primary
purpose of religion. The spiritual illustration would be least inciting
to the common people for desiring the things of hereafter. So they
would have little liking for it, while they would fear the physical
illustration. So it seems that the physical illustration would be most
exciting to them, than the spiritual, while the latter would appeal
only to the controversialists among the scholastic theologians, who are
always very few in number. Hence we find that the Muslims have been
divided into three parties about the meaning of the conditions of the
Day of Judgment. One party says that that existence would be just like
our present one, as regards pleasures and enjoyments, that is, they
think that both are of the same genius, but differ in perpetuity and
termination: the one is for ever and the others come to an end. The
other party thinks that the two existences are different. But this is
again subdivided into two parties. The one thinks that that existence
with our present faculties is spiritual, but has been described as
physical. For this there are many religious arguments which it would
be useless to repeat here. The other party says that that existence is
physical only; but they at the same time believe, that the body will
be different from our present body. This is only transient, that will
be eternal. For this also there are religious arguments. It seems that
even Abdullah B. Abbas held this view. For it is related of him that he
said, “There is nought in this world of the hereafter, but names.” It
seems that this view is better suited to the learned men because its
possibility is based upon principles, in which there is no disagreement
according to all men: the one being that the soul is immortal, and the
second is that the return of the souls into other bodies does not look
so impossible as the return of the bodies themselves. It is so because
the material of the bodies here is found following and passing from one
body to another, i. e.; one and the same matter is found in many people
and in many different times. The example of bodies cannot be found, for
their matter is the same. For instance a man dies and his body becomes
dissolved into earth. The earth ultimately becomes dissolved into
vegetable, which is eaten by quite a different man from whom another
man comes into being. If we suppose them to be different bodies, then
our aforesaid view cannot be true.

The truth about this question is that man should follow that which he
himself has thought out but anyhow it should not be the view which
may deny the fundamental principle altogether. For this would be
denying its existence. Such a belief leads to infidelity, on account
of a distinct knowledge of this condition being given to man, both
by religion and by human reason, which is all based upon the eternal
nature of the soul. If it be said whether there is any argument or
information in the Law about this eternal nature of the soul, we would
say that it is found in the Quran itself. God says, “God taketh unto
himself the souls of men at the time of their death; and those which
die not He also taketh in their sleep.”[165] In this verse sleep and
death have been placed upon the same level, on account of the change
in its instrument, and in sleep on account of a change in itself. For
had it not been so it would not have come to its former condition
after awakening. By this means we know that this cession does not
effect its essence, but was only attached to it on account of change
in its instrument. So it does not follow that with a cessation of the
work of the instrument, the soul also ceases to exist. Death is only
a cessation of work, so it is clear that its condition should be like
that of sleep. As someone has said that if an old man were to get the
eyes of the young, he would begin to see like him.

This is all that we thought of in an exposition of the beliefs of our
religion, Islam. What remains for us is to look into things of religion
in which interpretation is allowed and not allowed. And if allowed,
then who are the people to take advantage of it? With this thing we
would finish our discourse.

The things found in the Law can be divided into five kinds. But in the
first place, there are only two kinds of things: indivisible and the
divisible. The second one is divided into four kinds. The first kind
which is mentioned in the Quran, is quite clear in its meanings. The
second is that in which the thing mentioned is not the thing meant
but is only an example of it. This is again divided into four kinds.
First, the meanings which it mentions are only illustrations such that
they can only be known by the far-fetched and compound analogies,
which cannot be understood, but after a long time and much labour.
None can accept them but perfect and excellent natures; and it cannot
be known that the illustration given is not the real thing; except by
this far-fetched way. The second is just the opposite of the former:
they can be understood easily, and it can be known that the example is
just what is meant here. Thirdly, it can be easily known that it is
merely an illustration, but what it is the example of is difficult to
comprehend. The fourth kind is quite opposite to the former. The thing
of which it is an example, is easily understood; while it is difficult
to know that it is an example at all. The interpretation of the first
kind is wrong without doubt. The kind in which both the things are
far-fetched: its interpretation particularly lies with those who are
well-grounded in knowledge; and an exposition of it is not fit for any
but the learned. The interpretation of its opposite--that which can be
understood on both the sides--is just what is wanted, and an exposition
of it is necessary. The case of the third kind is like the case of the
above. For in it illustration has not been mentioned because of the
difficulty for the common people to understand it: it only incites the
people to action. Such is the case with the tradition of the prophet;
“The black stone is God’s action on Earth,” etc. etc. That which can
be easily known that is an example, but difficult to know of which it
is example, should not be interpreted but for the sake of particular
persons and learned men. Those who understand that it is only an
illustration, but are not learned enough to know the thing which it
illustrates, should be told either that it is allegorical and can be
understood by the well-established learned men; or the illustration
should be changed in a way which might be near to their understanding.
This would be the best plan to dispel doubts from their minds.

The law about this should be that which has been laid down by Abu Hamid
(Al Ghazzali) in his book, _Al Tafriga bainal Islam wal Zindiga_. It
should be understood that one thing has five existences which he calls
by the name of _essential_ (_Zati_); sensual (_Hissi_); rational (_Agli_);
imaginative (_Khayali_) and doubtful (_Shilbhi_). So at the time of doubt
it should be considered which of these five kinds would better satisfy
the man who has doubts. If it be that which he has called _essential_
then an illustration would best satisfy their minds. In it is also
included the following traditions of the Prophet, “Whatever the
earlier prophets saw I have seen it from my place here, even heaven
and hell.” “Between my cistern of water and the pulpit, there is a
garden of paradise;” and “The earth will eat up the whole of a man
except the extremity of the tail.” All these, it can easily be known
are but illustrations, but what is the thing which they illustrate,
it is difficult to comprehend. So it is necessary in this case to
give an instance to the people which they may easily understand. This
kind of illustration, when used on such an occasion is allowable; but
when used irrelevantly it is wrong. Abu Hamid has not decided about
the occasion when both the sides of the question--the illustration
and the illustrated--be both far-fetched and difficult to understand.
In this case there would apparently be a doubt, but a doubt without
any foundation. What should be done is to prove that the doubt has no
basis, but no interpretation should be made, as we have shown in many
places in our present book against the Mutakallimun, Asharites and the

The fourth kind of occasion is quite opposite to the former. In this
it is very difficult to understand that it is an example, but when
once understood, you can easily comprehend the thing illustrated.
In the interpretation of this also, there is a consideration: about
those people who know that if it is an example, it illustrates such
and such a thing; but they doubt whether it is an illustration at
all. If they are not learned people, the best thing to do with them
is not to make any interpretation, but only to prove the fallacy of
the views which they hold about its being an illustration at all. It
is also possible that an interpretation may make them still distant
from the truth, on account of the nature of the illustration and the
illustrated. For these two kinds of occasions if an interpretation is
given, they give rise to strange beliefs, far from the law which when
disclosed are denied by the common people, Such has been the case with
the Sufis, and those learned men who have followed them. When this work
of interpretation was done by people who could not distinguish between
these occasions, and made no distinction between the people for whom
the interpretation is to be made, there arose differences of opinion,
at last forming into sects, which ended in accusing one another with
unbelief. All this is pure ignorance of the purpose of the Law.

From what we have already said the amount of mischief done by
interpretation must have become clear to you. We always try to acquire
our purpose by knowing what should be interpreted, and what not, and
when interpreted, how it should be done; and whether all the difficult
portions of the Law and Traditions are to be explained or not. These
are all included in the four kinds which have already been enumerated.

The purpose of our writing this book is now completed. We took
it up because we thought that it was the most important of all
purposes--connected with God and the Law.


[Footnote 25: A translation of _Al-Kashf’an Manhij i’l Adillah fi
Aqaid il Millah, we Tarif ma Waqa fiha bi Hasb i’l Ta’wil min Shubhi’l
Muzighah wa Bid’ill Mudillah_.]

[Footnote 26: Quran ii, 19.]

[Footnote 27: Quran xiv, 11.]

[Footnote 28: Quran xxxix, 39.]

[Footnote 29: Quran vi, 75.]

[Footnote 30: Quran xvi, 42.]

[Footnote 31: Quran ii, 282.]

[Footnote 32: Quran xxix, 69.]

[Footnote 33: Quran viii, 29.]

[Footnote 34: Quran xxii, 72.]

[Footnote 35: Quran vii, 184.]

[Footnote 36: Quran lxxvii, 6-16.]

[Footnote 37: Quran xxv, 62.]

[Footnote 38: Quran lxxx, 24.]

[Footnote 39: Quran lxxxvi, 6.]

[Footnote 40: Quran lxxxviii, 17.]

[Footnote 41: Quran xxii, 72.]

[Footnote 42: Quran vi, 79. The story referred to will be found in the
preceding verses.]

[Footnote 43: Quran ii, 19.]

[Footnote 44: Quran xxxvi, 33.]

[Footnote 45: Quran iii, 188.]

[Footnote 46: Quran vii, 171.]

[Footnote 47: Quran iii, 16.]

[Footnote 48: Quran xvii, 46.]

[Footnote 49: Quran xxi, 22.]

[Footnote 50: Quran xxiii, 93.]

[Footnote 51: Quran xvii, 44.]

[Footnote 52: Quran ii, 256.]

[Footnote 53: Quran xvii, 45, 46.]

[Footnote 54: Quran lxxvii, 14.]

[Footnote 55: Quran vi, 59.]

[Footnote 56: Quran xix, 65.]

[Footnote 57: Quran xvi, 42.]

[Footnote 58: Quran xlii, 50.]

[Footnote 59: Quran liii, 8, 10.]

[Footnote 60: Quran iv, 162.]

[Footnote 61: Quran xix, 43.]

[Footnote 62: Quran xxi, 67.]

[Footnote 63: Quran v, 77.]

[Footnote 64: Quran xlii, 9.]

[Footnote 65: Quran xvi, 17.]

[Footnote 66: Quran xxv, 60.]

[Footnote 67: Quran ii, 256.]

[Footnote 68: Quran xx, 54.]

[Footnote 69: Quran xxxv, 39.]

[Footnote 70: Quran xxx, 29.]

[Footnote 71: Quran xxxv, 41.]

[Footnote 72: Quran ii, 256.]

[Footnote 73: Quran xlii, 9.]

[Footnote 74: Quran xliv, 2.]

[Footnote 75: Quran xxxv, 10.]

[Footnote 76: Quran lxx, 4.]

[Footnote 77: Quran lxxxix, 23.]

[Footnote 78: Quran xvii, 87.]

[Footnote 79: Quran ii, 260.]

[Footnote 80: Quran xxiv, 35.]

[Footnote 81: He also saw him another time, by the lote-tree, beyond
which there is no passing: near it is the garden of eternal abode.
_When the lote-tree covered that which it covered_, his eye-sight
turned not aside, nor did it wander: and he really beheld some of the
greater signs of his Lord. (Quran lii, 16, 18.) The lote-tree is the
limit beyond which neither angel nor man can pass. It stands in the
seventh heaven, on the right hand of the Throne of God.]

[Footnote 82: Quran lxix, 17.]

[Footnote 83: Quran xxxii, 2.]

[Footnote 84: Quran lxx, 4.]

[Footnote 85: Quran lxvii, 16.]

[Footnote 86: Quran xl, 59.]

[Footnote 87: Quran iii, 5.]

[Footnote 88: Quran ii, 24.]

[Footnote 89: Quran iii, 5.]

[Footnote 90: Quran vi, 103.]

[Footnote 91: They will ask the concerning the Soul: answer, The Soul
was created at the command of my Lord: but ye have no knowledge given
unto you, except a little.--(Quran xxii, 85.)]

[Footnote 92: Quran lxxvii, 3, et. seq.]

[Footnote 93: Quran ii, 99.]

[Footnote 94: Quran xxi, 33.]

[Footnote 95: Quran lxxi, 14-16.]

[Footnote 96: Quran xxvii, 90.]

[Footnote 97: Quran lxvii, 3.]

[Footnote 98: Quran iii, 88.]

[Footnote 99: Quran xi, 9.]

[Footnote 100: Quran vii, 52.]

[Footnote 101: Quran xli, 10.]

[Footnote 102: Quran iii, 5.]

[Footnote 103: Quran ii, 8.]

[Footnote 104: Quran xvii, 92-95.]

[Footnote 105: Quran, xvii, 61.]

[Footnote 106: Quran xvii, 90.]

[Footnote 107: Quran xi, 16.]

[Footnote 108: Quran iv, 161, 162.]

[Footnote 109: Quran xlvi, 8.]

[Footnote 110: Quran iv, 173.]

[Footnote 111: Quran iv, 168.]

[Footnote 112: Quran iv, 160.]

[Footnote 113: Quran iv, 164.]

[Footnote 114: Quran xxix, 47.]

[Footnote 115: Quran lxii, 2.]

[Footnote 116: Quran vii, 156.]

[Footnote 117: Quran vii, 156.]

[Footnote 118: Quran liv, 49.]

[Footnote 119: Quran xiii, 9.]

[Footnote 120: Quran lvii, 22.]

[Footnote 121: Quran xlii, 32.]

[Footnote 122: Quran xlii, 32.]

[Footnote 123: Quran x, 28.]

[Footnote 124: Quran ii, 278.]

[Footnote 125: Quran xli, 16.]

[Footnote 126: Quran iii, 159.]

[Footnote 127: Quran iii, 160.]

[Footnote 128: Quran iv, 81.]

[Footnote 129: Quran iv, 80.]

[Footnote 130: Quran xiii, 12.]

[Footnote 131: Quran lxxxv, 22.]

[Footnote 132: Quran xxvii, 67.]

[Footnote 133: Quran vi, 59.]

[Footnote 134: Quran lxvii, 14.]

[Footnote 135: Quran xvi, 12.]

[Footnote 136: Quran xxviii, 71.]

[Footnote 137: Quran xviii, 73.]

[Footnote 138: Quran xlv, 12.]

[Footnote 139: Quran xiv, 37.]

[Footnote 140: Quran xxii, 72.]

[Footnote 141: “Hast thou not considered him who disputed with Abraham
concerning his Lord, because God had given him the Kingdom? When
Abraham Said, My Lord is He who giveth life and killeth: he answered,
I give life and kill, Abraham said, verily God bringeth the sun from
the east do thou bring it from the west; whereupon the infidel was
confounded; for God directeth not the ungodly people.” Quran ii, 260.]

[Footnote 142: Quran iii, 16.]

[Footnote 143: Quran xli, 46.]

[Footnote 144: Quran x, 45.]

[Footnote 145: Quran xiv, 4.]

[Footnote 146: Quran xxxii, 11.]

[Footnote 147: Quran xxxix, 9.]

[Footnote 148: Quran xxx, 29.]

[Footnote 149: Quran vii, 171.]

[Footnote 150: Moreover, God will not be ashamed to propound in a
parable of a great, or even a more despicable thing: for they who
believe will know it to be true from their Lord; but the unbelievers
will say, what meaneth by this parable? He will thereby mislead etc.
(Quran ii, 24).]

[Footnote 151: Quran xvii, 62. By the _vision_ may be meant the
Prophet’s night journey to heaven or the vision which he saw at
Hudaibiyyah, seeing himself entering Mecca or his vision about the

[Footnote 152: Quran lxxiv, 34.]

[Footnote 153: Quran ii, 28.]

[Footnote 154: Quran xxxii, 14.]

[Footnote 155: Quran xxxviii, 26.]

[Footnote 156: Quran iii, 188.]

[Footnote 157: Quran xxiii, 117.]

[Footnote 158: Quran lxxv, 36.]

[Footnote 159: Quran li, 56.]

[Footnote 160: Quran xxxvi, 21.]

[Footnote 161: Quran xxxix, 57.]

[Footnote 162: Quran xxxvi, 78.]

[Footnote 163: Quran xxxvi, 80.]

[Footnote 164: Quran xxxxvi, 81.]

[Footnote 165: Quran xxxix, 43.]

                        Transcriber’s Notes

The cover image was created by the transcriber, and is placed in the
Public Domain. Obvious typographical errors and variable spelling
were corrected. Quran reference formatting has been made uniform to
e.g. “Quran xxv, 60.” The following corrections have been made to the

 Page   Original               New
 14     cogniscance            cognisance
 28     heavena                heavens
 30     concensus              consensus
 53     cogniscance            cognisance
 60     necessarry             necessary
 60     shonld                 should
 60     interpretes            interprets
 64     Qnran                  Quran
 67     tbe                    the
 69     Mutazalites            Mutazilites
 71     Mutakallimum           Mutakallimun
 76     he                     be
 91     upo                    upon
 97     nevertheles            nevertheless
 98     nonexistent            non-existent
 129    no                     not
 135    s                      is
 137    controvertialist       controversialist
 143    Mutakalimun            Mutakallimun
 147    bows                   bows’
 161    Quran                  Quran xxx, 28. [Footnote 46]
 162    Quran                  Quran xxxv, 41. [Footnote 47]
 166    ii                     10 [Footnote 51]
 174    Maati                  Maali
 186    by                     be
 193    Quran                  Quran vi, 103. [Footnote 66]
 194    th                     the
 198    imposible              impossible
 207    excep                  except [Footnote 67]
 219    beeause                because
 222    pre-arranged           prearranged
 244    there-of               thereof
 251    repeatsd               repeated
 251    appearence             appearance
 257    Qnran                  Quran [Footnote 93]
 259    distingished           distinguished
 261    Quran LIVI             Quran liv,
 262    Quarn                  Quran [Footnote 102]
 265    Mutazlites             Mutazilites
 265    intellegible           intelligible
 266    perfom                 perform
 266    use                    us
 269    YXVII                  XXVII [Footnote 108]
 270    things                 things:
 274                           [Removed duplicate footnote 111. Numbers
                               of the subsequent footnotes corrected.]
 276    [118]                  [Removed second, unused footnote anchor]
 277    alsays                 always
 277    in                     an
 278    thay                   they
 278    their                  there
 278    there                  their
 279    Injusitce              Injustice
 280                           [Added footnote anchors,
                               footnotes on next page]
 282                           [Added footnote anchors]
 282    Quran, XXXV, 9         [Removed footnote, as no matching 
                               quran quote was found in the text]
 283                           [Added footnote anchors]
 285    in-spite               in spite
 285                           [Added footnote anchor]
 286    contradictary          contradictory
 286    Crertor                Creator
 286    attributd              attributed
 289    131 Quran, XXX, 14.    131 Quran, XXXII, 14.
 292    that                   That
 293    theoratical            theoretical
 295    that is, ... world;    [Removed duplicate part]
 296    mirsery                misery
 296    possiblities           possibilities
 299    divded                 divided
 300    enternal               eternal
 300    reilgious              religious
 304    farfetched             far-fetched
 305    than                   then
 306    occassion              occasion
 306    irrelevently           irrelevantly
 306    Mutazalites            Mutazilites
 307    man                    men
 308    interperetation        interpretation

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes" ***

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