Wednesday, July 1, 2009


  • The acknowledgement of One Allah as the most perfect being, having the most sublime attributes and free from every defect and deficiency, and the recognition of His relation to the world consisting in His creatorship, guardianship, munificence, compassion and mercy, create a reaction in us which is called adoration and worship.

  • Worship is a kind of relationship which man establishes with his Creator. It consists of man's submission to Allah and extolling and thanking Him. It is a relationship which man can establish with his Creator only. The establishment of such a relationship with anyone else is neither conceivable nor permissible.

  • The acknowledgement of Allah as the only source of existence and the only Master and Lord of everything makes it incumbent on us not to associate any creature with Him in adoration. The Holy Qur'an insists that Allah alone should be worshipped. There is no sin more deadly than associating anyone or anything else with Him.

  • Now let us see what is worship and what kind of relationship is that which is peculiar to Allah and which cannot be established with any other being.

  • Definition of Worship

  • To make the meaning of worship clear and in order to define it correctly, it is necessary to mention two points as a prelude:

  • (i) Worship may consist either of words or of actions. The former kind consists of a series of words and sentences which we recite, such as praising Allah, the recitation of the Holy Qur'an or the recitation of the formulas normally recited while offering prayers, and pronouncing 'Labbayk' during Hajj.

  • The worship which consists of actions is represented by such acts as standing, bowing and prostration in prayers, circum-ambulation of the Holy Ka'bah, and staying at Arafat and Mash'ar. Most of the acts of worship, such as prayers and pilgrimage (Hajj) comprise words and actions both.

  • (ii) Human acts are of two kinds. Some acts have no remote purpose. They are not performed as a symbol of something else, but they are performed for their own natural effects. For example, a farmer carries out the functions connected with farming in order to secure their natural results. He does not carry them out as a symbol or to express any feelings. The same is the case with a tailor when he is doing his tailoring. When we proceed to school, we have nothing in mind except reaching there. With this act we do not intend to convey any other purpose or meaning.

  • But there are acts which we perform as a symbol of a series of some other objects or in order to express our feelings. We lower our head as a sign of confirmation, we sit in the doorway as a sign of humility and bow to someone as a sign of reverence.

  • Most of the human acts are of the first kind and only a few of the second. Anyway, there are acts which are performed to express our feelings or to show some other objectives. These acts are used in place of words to express an intention.

  • Now keeping in mind the above two points, we may say that worship, whether it is performed by means of words or acts is a meaningful deed. Man by means of his devotion gives expression to a truth. Similarly by means of such acts as bowing, prostration, circumambulation etc. he wants to convey what he says when he pronounces devotionals and liturgy.

  • Spirit of Adoration and Worship
  • Through his worship, whether it is performed by means of words or acts, man conveys certain things:
  • (i) He praises Allah by pronouncing His peculiar attributes having a sense of absolute perfection, such as absolute knowledge, absolute power and absolute will. Absolute perfection means that His knowledge, power and will are not limited by or conditional on anything else and are a corollary of His total and complete independence.
  • (ii) He glorifies Allah and declares Him free from every defect and deficiency such as death, limitation, ignorance, helplessness, stinginess, cruelty etc.
  • (iii) He thanks Allah, considering Him to be the real source of everything good and of all bounties, and believing that all favours are received from Him alone. Others are only intermediaries appointed by Him.
  • (iv) He expresses total submission to Him and acknowledges that unconditional obedience is due to Him. He, being the Absolute Master of all that exists, is entitled to issue orders and we being slaves, it is our duty to obey Him.
  • (iv) In regard to His above attributes Allah has no associate or partner. None other than Him is absolutely perfect and none other than Him is absolutely free from every defect. None other than Him is the true source of all bounties and none other than Him deserves to be thanked for all of them. None other than Him deserves total submission and to be obeyed unconditionally. Every other obedience like that of the Prophet, the Imam, the lawful Muslim ruler, the parents and the teachers must culminate in His obedience and be subject to His good pleasure to be lawful. That is the appropriate response which a man should show to his Almighty Lord. Except in the case of Allah this kind of response is neither applicable nor permissible.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


  • We would start by defining the word "Knowledge". We would define it as "clear perception of a truth or a fact". Again, "Knowledge" is not an "end", but a"means" to an end, and the immediate human end seems to comprise the acquisition of "good" and the avoidance of "evil".

  • To know and to understand is a natural yearning in man. As regards human consciousness and powers of perception, there are two distinct levels. One isthat of direct perception or intuition where logical categories play no part. Theother is that which is founded on sense-perception and theoretical reason. Now, as regards consciousness, recent scientific investigation has led us to the belief that it does not only exist in human beings, but is also to be found in some form among animals, among plants, and even among the stones. The behaviour of the newly born fish as regards swimming and the behaviour of the cub to pounce upon the prey, leads us to the belief that they have been gifted by God with some form of consciousness. Similarly, the presence of the qualities of attraction and repulsion in certain plants gives us to understand that they, too, possess certain form of consciousness. To call such activity instinctive does not negate the existence of consciousness.

  • The human consciousness seems to be a richer variety. The human child is without doubt different from the offspring of other forms of creation. Its powers of perception and action do not appear to be so well set as those of the other species. But its struggle to harmonise its consciousness and activity with its environment begins soon after its birth. It opens its eyes and tries to see. It moves its hand and tries to grasp. It focuses its attention and wants to hear.

  • That is, it brings into play its powers of sensation and perception, and tries to develop them in the light of its consciousness, The more these powers develop, the greater becomes his yearning to know things, until the ignorant child of yesterday becomes a great scientist or a great philosopher, talking about all things of the heavens and the earth and passing his judgment upon them.

  • In connection with this discussion of the different levels of knowledge I might relate here a simple incident. During my travels, I once visited the famous botanical gardens situated in Kandy, in the historic town of Ceylon. Some of my friends were also there with me along with their children who were of different ages. According to the rules, no one could pluck flowers. But children are not, as a rule, very law-abiding in such matters. Hence, a child who was six or seven years old plucked a rose flower, brought it to his father, and questioned him about it. This fondness for questioning among children is proof of the inherent yearning for knowledge existing in man. The father informed the child that it was a rose. This answer made the child happy. He had received a new piece of information. With pride he showed it to other children, saying: "See, it is rose." That flower was red in colour.

  • In the meantime, another child rushed towards a flower bed and plucked a flower, which was similar in form but possessed yellow colour. He, too, brought it to his father and asked him what it was. The father told him that it was a rose.

  • Now, this other child was a bit older than the first one. He, therefore, enquired how both flowers could be called by the same name while their colours were different. The father could not give a satisfactory reply. But the Superintendent of the garden, who was an Englishman, explained to the boy that one was the Indian variety, while the other was Australian. All the children seemed to be gratified and happy at this further piece of knowledge and started remarking about the beauty and the smell. Presently, one elderly boy asked the Superintendent about the use of those flowers. The Superintendent was still searching for a reply when a Maulvi Saheb (scholar), who had accompanied us, remarked that people prepare rose water and use it in religious assemblies and social functions for the sake of its fragrance. A statement followed this remark from an herbal doctor who informed that rose leaves were good for removing constipation and strengthening the heart. The Superintendent, who had kept quiet all the while, suddenly plucked a fresh flower and informed the children that there were pairs among flowers also, pointing out to the male and the female flower.

  • The children were ultimately thrilled by all that information. All the informants gave the information according to the extent of their knowledge. Had there been some eminent botanist or chemist among them, he would have given still further and higher information about the chemical constituents and properties. But all those who were there were enjoying the little discussion, and, finding them in their enjoyment, I asked them: "Did these flowers come into existence by themselves, or someone else created them?" There were different answers. Among the agencies held responsible, were mentioned: the planter, the sower, the irrigator, and the "mother earth". But when questioning ultimately exhausted the material causes, all cried out that God created them.

  • This was a new conception, a conception of reality, which is above and beyond the chain of causes, which is the uncaused First Cause. And how did we arrive at it? We arrived by considering the physical world itself and by plunging into the problem of its origin. Our investigation into the physical phenomena ultimately led us to God.

  • At this point I invited the attention of my friends to the fact that if the rose flower was so enchanting, how beautiful and perfect must be He Who made it, Who brought it into existence?

  • The little children who were with me could not show much interest in this because of their limited intelligence and undeveloped consciousness. But the elderly persons became thoughtful and appreciated the point.

  • Now, in this garden which we call the world, is it not a fact that there are persons who, in spite of their powerful intellects and their claim to be expert physicists and metaphysicists, behave no better than the children whom I referred to just now, contented and happy with the knowledge of a few properties of a few flowers, or, to use the words of a great scientist, "a few pebbles on the shore”?

  • Today, the teachers of natural science hardly tell their students anything about the Great Architect who made all the things they investigate, and our great colleges and laboratories of science have simply ruled out the very thought of the Supreme Creator. In the discussions of moral philosophy we come across sometimes the idea of God, and certain schools of metaphysics refer to His Existence. But is there any school, any University, any Laboratory, which devotes itself to the Really Real, to the discussion of His Attributes and His Person, and to the knowledge of the ways and means of attaining nearness to Him? If such institutions do not exist, (and they do not exist in fact), would it not be true to say that those who claim to possess great intellects are actually behaving like children? They are playing with the toys and running after the shadows, and have abandoned the search for the Great Reality which should have been their goal of investigation. And, not only have they forsaken the road which leads to the knowledge of God, they have also forgotten the deeper paths which lead to the true understanding of human personality itself.

  • Before his death, Aristotle left an advice for posterity and ordered it to be inscribed on the walls of his academy. Other great men, before him andafter him, gave the same advice. The advice was “O Man know thyself!” The purpose of the advice was and is that we should try to understand our own selves, should discover and cultivate those powers which have been given to us for penetrating the reality of things, and should ultimately attain to the knowledge of God.

  • But how many are those in the world who pay their attention to this problem today? People do go to the houses of worship. But in most cases their approach is formal and ritualistic. Do they achieve the end for which worship has been instituted? Are there any persons who have devoted themselves to these problems?

  • Dear readers! The importance which a thing enjoys in human life, its knowledge shall also enjoy the same importance, and those who possess that knowledge shall also be graded accordingly.

  • Similarly, if man is superior to all created things, the importance and status of the knowledge which relates to him and the possessors of that knowledge, must be assessed accordingly.
  • There are two aspects of the knowledge about man. One aspect is physical, and refers to his physical constitution, nutrition and the abnormalities to which his physique becomes subject sometimes. This last item of investigation gives birth to the science of medicine. Those who devote themselves to this science are called physicians. There is no doubt that the science of human cure is a noble science and ranks high in importance and those who devote themselves to it also deserve great respect if their motive is that of service.

  • But, here a question arises: "is man only an aggregate of bones and flesh?” If it is so, even the dead man possesses flesh and bones. But we call him a dead body, and do not consider him the whole man. Our very first thought about a dead human body makes us feel that there was something essential which is no more there. That something was life. And we are sure that it is not only the flesh and the bones but life also which combined together can be properly called man.

  • Now, what is life? When we speak this word, we are confronted with a number of conceptions, and the fact is that we, in spite of all our scientific researches, have so far failed in discovering the "reality of life." The word "soul" is only a name. What the soul actually is and how it is to be defined, the scientific world has not succeeded so far in telling us that.

  • Our great scientists are silent on this problem. Either they are, so to say, playing with external things and do not pay attention to the basic reality at all, or they pay attention and find themselves incompetent.

  • Huxley, who enjoys a distinct status in the fields of science and philosophy, admits in clear words that: "About the soul we cannot say anything more than that it is the name of a supposed state".

  • We might now ask: if we fail in discovering our own reality by empirical means and if we feel contented with that failure, can we be regarded to have been faithful to the natural yearning for knowledge existing in us? This yearning requires us not to confine our efforts to certain preconceived means but to employ all other means available. For, without that basic knowledge, we can neither consider ourselves nor our knowledge as perfect.

  • If we go further, we come across the next problem, that is, the problem of knowing the great "source of life" or, in the language of Sir Oliver Lodge, the Unknown. That is the point where the scientists and the philosophers stop, after their strenuous search of causal connection, and at best describe it as the Cause of all causes or the Primary Intellect.

  • The fact is that there are numerous universities in the world. They have separate faculties for teaching the various subjects like history, geography, physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc. They have separate laboratories for scientific research. But is there any such university or college or school where man could receive proper instruction about the reality of his "Inner Self", and about the "Great Reality" which pervades the whole universe? How can the gates of this knowledge be opened? Where can we find the Path of this Knowledge?

  • Allow me to say, and to say with all the force at my command, that there is only ONE Institution where this knowledge can be obtained, namely, the Institution of Revealed Religion. The information, which is given to us there, is not based on whim and fancy, guess and conjecture, sense perception and logical deduction. Nay, that Path of Knowledge is entirely different. It is a path of direct perception. The knowledge emanates from the "Great Reality" and descends upon the human heart in a special spiritual manner. We have, of course, the right to judge it with our reason and to see to it that it is not mere 'dogma' or 'mystery' but something real and true, whenever anyone gives it to us and claims that he has received it
    direct from God.

  • However, before accepting it, my readers shall surely like to know the nature of Wahy (Revelation) and Ilham (Inspiration). They would like to understand that they are not synonymous with superstition but something tangible and real.

  • They would further like to know the criterion with which to judge the genuineness of certain claims regarding Revelation. Then, they would like to know whether Revelation has reference only to the world of 'abstract things' or whether it can also relate to our practical life and can contribute to our practical well-being. If it is so, it will become necessary to pay attention to it and to take practical steps for the acquisition of that knowledge. The acquisition of that knowledge will further necessitate a complete and comprehensive course of Instruction.

  • So far we have been trying to rediscover the "Forgotten Path of Knowledge". Now we shall probe into the nature of Divine Revelation and Spiritual Perception and the ways and means relating to them. We have been blessed with different organs for the purpose of knowing material things, and every one of these organs has a distinct function. With regard to these organs the physiologist finds himself confronted with a very vital question, namely, whether they are self-motivated, or they are merely mediums for some faculty which works behind them.

  • When we consider these organs we find that they have different functions divided among them. Every individual organ performs only that function for which it is meant, and this "specialisation of function" exists in such rigid form that if a certain organ is compelled to perform some function for which it is not meant, it will not perform it and will, moreover, get spoiled very soon. Thus, the tongue only tastes and does not see; the eyes only see and do not smell; the ears only hear and do not speak; the hands only grip and cannot perform the function of the feet.

  • Now, we are confronted with a question: Do we ever experience any such state in our life when our consciousness is active and we have perceptions while our organs of knowledge are inactive? I would remind you in this connection of your state when, after the day's toil, you are resting on your soft bed, your eyes are closed, your hands and feet are enjoying a well-earned repose, your ears are indifferent to the sounds vibrating around them, your muscles are relaxed; in short, your whole physical being is in a state of inactivity. This inactivity increases until you are plunged in "deep sleep" and become fully dissociated in your consciousness from the physical world.

  • You are asleep. You are, evidently, in a state of unconsciousness. But it is a
    strange type of unconsciousness. Your eyes are closed, but you see. Your ears are inactive but you hear. Your tongue is not moving, but you speak. You walk. You are active. You eat and drink. You have the feelings of happiness and grief, of heat and cold, of sweet and bitter tastes. You are subject to hopes and fears. In short, you have all those experiences that you have in your waking life. And not only that you have those experiences, but you can also remember them just like your experiences in waking state. You call this state the "state of dream". But who is the actual subject of this
    state? Is it we ourselves or someone else? And, if we ourselves are its subject, does it not clearly show that while we possess the power to perform actions with the help of our organs and to derive experience from it, we can have similar experience without employing those organs'?

  • One might say that we started with a talk of reason and consciousness and now we are discussing things which are dreamy. And, about the dreams, one might think that just as in our waking state, thoughts come and wander about our minds and make us happy or grieved, similarly, during our sleep, though our organs of sensation are inactive, yet our digestive organs and the heart are active, and the imaginative faculty is active too, and, therefore, all those experiences which we have in our dreams are merely phantoms of thought and nothing more.

  • We might stay in this thought for a moment. But let us transport our imagination from the physical world to that vast world which is called the "World of Thought". In that world we transcend time, and we get this experience of transcending time on a vaster scale during our dreams. How often it happens that we close our eyes at 12 o'clock and in our dream we pass through a vast panorama of events in the background of the past and we experience things in the perspective of the future. And when we have finished our journey on the long road of time, and open our eyes, and cast a glance at the clock on the wall in front of us, we find that we have been asleep only, say, for 10 minutes. What is this mystery? If all this is mere thought, does thought also possess the power whereby we may be able to see the events of the past and the future with full consciousness, while our sense-organs are in a state of suspension of activity? One might consider it the work of the "imaginative faculty". The exactness of this term may not be challenged just now. It may, however, be remarked in passing that in the terminology of the experts of metaphysical and psychological problems, the experience which one has in the state of deep sleep when even the imaginative faulty becomes virtually suspended, is termed as a flash of Spiritual Consciousness. That is, the perception which one has in such a state is "spiritual perception" if it is free from those elements which should be considered as products of imagination. We have not yet arrived at that stage of discussion. Hence we might first consider the problem that "the knowledge of oneself can be based only on the knowledge of one's qualities or attributes".

  • We just realised that in our being there is a faculty that can help us in traversing certain stages of consciousness and perception without employing the sense organs. Some people like to call it the imaginative faculty and consider the brain as its seat. But we should try to go further. If we analyse the state of sleep, we will find that sometimes, during this state, we get certain stray and uncoordinated experiences like those we have while day-dreaming. But sometimes our experience is highly integrated and has a meaning. It may be compared to that experience in waking life when we close our faculties of perception from all sides; concentrate our thought and focus it powerfully on a fixed point; dive deep into the infinite ocean of thought, and find ourselves transported to a world which is very much of a different character than this material world in which we live and move.

  • The scientist, when he is absorbed in his scientific pursuit and concentrates with full effort on a certain problem penetrates into the mysteries and brings back to us valuable gems of knowledge. The Philosopher fastens to his being the wings of logical premises; closes his minds to all ulterior considerations; soars into the vast expanse of thought and opens before us new and fascinating paths. This has been mentioned here only to invite attention to the fact that the preliminary condition of research in the domain of higher realities is complete concentration and undivided interest. It is this, again, which gives us great discoveries in the domains of science and philosophy. It is this whereby the mesmeriser and the hypnotiser bring about a transformation in the "thought-world" of his subject. Thus the suspension of the activity of sense-organs and the complete concentration of mind is the starting point of our activity on the path of knowledge.

  • We have so far considered the worlds of science and philosophy. Now let us
    concentrate our attention on that point of thought that refers to the Self- Existing Being. A logician, a philosopher and a scientist can say about Him
    merely that He is. But in the school of Religion we get practical lessons for the purposes of knowing Him and attaining nearness to Him. In this connection, the first lesson is: "Divert your attention away from all things and concentrate it on the idea of God." And this concentration should be such that, firstly, your mind should be empty of all other thoughts, and, secondly all your organs should suspend their activity except in so far as it is in conformity with your mental attitude at the time.

  • To focus attention on God with this complete concentration is known in religious terminology as Worship. In this state, the created thing considers himself the slave of the Creator and devotes himself solely to Him, at least during certain special moments. This is the first exercise or that discipline which forms the basis of the cultivation of the Spiritual Faculty, known among Philosophers as Intuition. We have now arrived at a new term, i.e. the "Spiritual Faculty", and the readers must naturally be impatient to know its function and the benefits that are to be derived from its cultivation. We will try to understand it through an illustration: What shall we do if we are confronted with the problem of finding out the taste of an orange and the quality of pleasantness inherent in its taste? Shall we succeed if we employ our hand? No. We shall have to employ our tongue, and that, too, under certain prescribed conditions. The tongue should not be dirty. It should be perfectly clean. It should have no aftertastes - saltish or sweet - of things that have been eaten before. In short, it should be a neutral recipient of taste. Let us then put the orange into the mouth and allow the juice to be absorbed in the pores of the tongue so completely that our tongue itself may become, so to say, a piece of orange. Then we shall have a complete realisation of the taste of the orange and its pleasantness.

  • Similarly, if we wish to know the coolness of ice, the only way open to us is to take a piece of ice in our hand, and the correct idea of icy coolness will come to us when the temperature of our hand falls approximately to the temperature of the ice. Now, I may say without attempting a complete analogy that, if we empty the mind of all ideas and thoughts, concentrate it with singleness of purpose and attention on God, have no external form even as a formal focus of attention, keep our mind free of "minor gods" or associates of God, and cleanse our imaginative faculty, or, in the terminology of the Sufis, the Spiritual Faculty, of all external or internal influences, then the perception of the Divine Attributes will dawn and the veil of ignorance will be removed. If anyone questions us about the taste of the orange, try as we may, but we will not be able to translate the exact taste and its inherent pleasant quality into words. We know it ourselves as a direct experience but words cannot define and express that experience or the experience of a spiritual reality like the Divine Attributes. We can only have the experience but we cannot describe it truly. As for its genuineness and its beauty, even those who confine their effort to the very first exercise mentioned before can have an experience of it which is simply unique. But, remember, the ultimate aim is not only the experience of the taste and its pleasantness. If we eat an orange we will not only add to the experiences of our tongue, but we will at the same time provide nourishment to our body which will ultimately help us in performing great many things. In the same way, though not as a perfect analogy, when we perform the spiritual exercise mentioned above our spiritual faculty will develop. And, just as the
    development of physical power gives us the strength to overcome infirmities and attacks of diseases and enables us to enjoy a more complete physical existence, we will gain in spiritual power by focusing our attention on God with single-minded concentration. This increase in spiritual power will lead us towards spiritual perfection, which will manifest itself in high and sublime morals and will enable us to fight those diseases that arise in the moral sphere. And the more we advance on that path, the nearer we will be to the concept of the "Perfect Man". This is the "Forgotten Path of Knowledge". If we traverse this path, the doors of real knowledge will open before us and we will receive the clear perception of truth. Moreover, as pointed out at the very outset, knowledge is a means and not an end, and the immediate end is the attainment of good and avoidance of evil.

  • Islam has defined Worship by saying, in the words of the Holy Qur’an: “Verily Prayer safeguards against indecencies and evil actions; and, indeed, God's remembrance is the greatest (good)” Thus, if the process of focusing attention upon God continues and this exercise is performed at certain intervals during the day and the night, even though for short moments, it will produce a two-fold result. On the one hand, we shall have a realisation of our own selves, a clear grasp of the reality of the soul, and a perception of the Attributes of the Supreme Being. On the other hand, our belief in God that He is the Creator of the Universe and that He is Omnipresent and Omniscient, will be transformed from mere words into a practical and living reality, which will ultimately become a sure means for withholding us from committing cruelties, injustices and indecencies and, in fact, all those deeds which take us away from the higher levels of humanity or bring us down to the beastly standards.

  • Dear Readers! Every teacher of physical sciences urges his students to perform practical experiments after they have learnt the theory, and it is those experiments in the Laboratory that make the knowledge of the student ultimately perfect. Similarly, when we teach metaphysics in the school of Religion and give theoretical explanations of such realities as soul or God, we invite humanity to the spiritual laboratory and tell them about the methods of performing practical experiments. Let it be emphasised that just as we can test the correctness of the scientific theory about water by practically preparing water with the help of oxygen and hydrogen, we can similarly test the theory of religion regarding worship and its practical results in reforming our moral life and in illuminating our personality. But before experimenting with the exercise to which reference has been made, it is necessary to have the theoretical foundations of our approach corrected. For, if the premises are not correct, the conclusion also will be wrong. Similarly, if a certain formula is imperfect, the result will be nil. Hence, the very first lesson that we receive in the school of genuine religion is directed to the correction of our belief in the Supreme Reality. The success of our pursuit of the religious path of knowledge depends upon the preliminary correct faith-attitude, namely, that God is One and One Only.

  • That religion alone is true which is based on genuine and authentic revelation from God, and which teaches, side by side, with perfect and pure Monotheism, that all human beings whether men or women, black or white, wealthy or poor, high-placed or lowly, are equal in their humanity and in their essential relation with God.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ibnu Miskawaih, Bapa Etika Islam


  • Guru ketiga setelah al-Farabi. Gelar itu ditabalkan kepada Ibnu Miskawaih, seorang ilmuwan agung kelahirkan Ray, Persia (sekarang Iran) sekitar tahun 320 H/932 M. Ia merupakan seorang ilmuwan hebat, bahkan ia juga dikenal sebagai seorang filsuf, penyair, dan sejarawan yang sangat terkenal.Ia terlahir pada era kejayaan Kekhalifahan Abbasiyyah.

  • Ibnu Maskawaih adalah seorang keturunan Persia, yang konon dulunya keluarganya dan dia beragama Majuzi dan pindah ke dalam Islam. Ibnu Maskawaih berbeda dengan al-Kindi dan al-Farabi yang lebih menekankan pada aspek metafisik, ibnu Maskawaih lebih pada tataran filsafat etika seperti al-Ghazali.Sejarah dan filsafat merupakan dua bidang yang sangat disenanginya.

  • Sejak masih muda, ia dengan tekun mempelajari sejarah dan filsafat, serta pernah menjadi pustakawan Ibnu al-‘Abid, tempat dia menuntut ilmu dan memperoleh banyak hal positif berkat pergaulannya dengan kaum elit. Tak hanya itu, Ibnu Miskawaih juga merupakan seorang yang aktif dalam dunia politik di era kekuasaan Dinasti Buwaih, di Baghdad. Ibnu Miskawaih meninggalkan Ray menuju Baghdad dan mengabdi kepada istana Pangeran Buwaih sebagai bendaharawan dan beberapa jabatan lain. Dia mengkombinasikan karier politik dengan peraturan filsafat yang penting. Tak hanya di kantor Buwaiah di Baghdad, ia juga mengabdi di Isfahan dan Rayy. Akhir hidupnya banyak dicurahkannya untuk studi dan menulis.

  • Ibnu Miskawaih lebih dikenal sebagai filsuf akhlak (etika) walaupun perhatiannya luas meliputi ilmu-ilmu yang lain seperti kedokteran, bahasa, sastra, dan sejarah. Bahkan dalam literatur filsafat Islam, tampaknya hanya Ibnu Miskawaih inilah satu-satunya tokoh filsafat akhlak.Semasa hidupnya, ia merupakan anggota kelompok intelektual terkenal seperti al-Tawhidi and al-Sijistani. Sayangnya ia harus menghembuskan nafas terakhirnya di Asfahan 9 Safar 421 H (16 Februari 1030 M).Menurut Muhammad Hamidullah dan Afzal Iqbal dalam karyanya bertajuk The Emergence of Islam: Lectures on the Development of Islamic World-view, Intellectual Tradition and Polity, menjelaskan bahwa Ibnu Miskawaih merupakan orang pertama yang memaparkan secara jelas ide tentang evolusi.

  • Seperti ilmuwan lainnya pada era abad ke-4 H dan ke-5 H (abad ke-10 M dan ke-11 M) Ibnu Miskawaih merupakan orang yang memiliki wawasan luas dalam bidang filosofi, berdasarkan pada pendekatannya terhadap filsafat Yunani yang telah diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Arab.Walaupun filosofi yang diterapkannya khusus untuk masalah-masalah Islam, ia jarang menggunakan agama untuk mengubah filosofi, dan selanjutnya dikenal sebagai seorang humanis Islam. Dia menunjukkan kecenderungan dalam filsafat Islam untuk menyesuaikan Islam kedalam sistem praktik rasional yang lebih luas umum bagi semua manusia.

  • Neoplatonism Ibnu Miskawah memiliki dua sisi yakni praktik dan teori. Dia memberikan peraturan untuk kelestarian kesehatan moral berdasarkan pandangan budidaya karakter. Ini menjelaskan cara di mana berbagai bagian jiwa dapat dibawa bersama ke dalam harmoni, sehingga mencapai kebahagiaan.Ini adalah peran filsuf moral untuk menetapkan aturan untuk kesehatan moral, seperti dokter menetapkan aturan untuk kesehatan fisik.

  • Kesehatan moral didasarkan pada kombinasi pengembangan intelektual dan tindakan praktis.Ibnu Miskawaih menggunakan metode eklektik dalam menyusun filsafatnya, yaitu dengan memadukan berbagai pemikiran-pemikiran sebelumnya dari Plato, Aristoteles, Plotinus, dan doktrin Islam. Namun karena inilah mungkin yang membuat filsafatnya kurang orisinal. Dalam bidang-bidang berikut ini tampak bahwa Ibnu Miskawayh hanya mengambil dari pemikiran-pemikiran yang sudah dikembangkan sebelumnya oleh filsuf lain.

  • Ibnu Miskawaih menulis dalam berbagai topik yang luas, berkisar sejarah psikologi dan kimia, tapi dalam filsafat metafisikanya tampaknya secara umum telah diinformasikan oleh versi Neoplatonism. Dia menghindari masalah merekonsiliasi agama dengan filsafat dengan klaim dari filsuf Yunani yang tidak menayangkan fokus kesatuan dan keberadaan Allah.Menurut Ibnu Miskawaih, Tuhan merupakan zat yang tidak berjisim, azali, dan pencipta. Tuhan adalah esa dalam segala aspek, tidak terbagi-bagi dan tidak ada sesuatu pun yang setara dengan-Nya. Tuhan ada tanpa diadakan dan ada-Nya tidak tergantung pada yang lain, sedangkan yang lain membutuhkannya. Tuhan dapat dikenal dengan proposisi negatif karena memakai proposisi positif berarti menyamakan-Nya dengan alam.

  • Ibnu Miskawaih menganut paham Neo-Platonisme tentang penciptaan alam oleh Tuhan. Ibnu Miskawaih menjelaskan bahwa entitas pertama yang memancar dari Tuhan adalah ‘aql fa’al (akal aktif). Akal aktif ini bersifat kekal, sempurna, dan tidak berubah. Dari akal ini timbul jiwa dan dengan perantaraan jiwa timbul planet (al-falak). Pancaran yang terus-menerus dari Tuhan dapat memelihara tatanan di alam ini, menghasilkan materi-materi baru. Sekiranya pancaran Tuhan yang dimaksud berhenti, maka berakhirlah kehidupan dunia ini.Kitab Taharat al-A'raq merupakan karya yang paling tinggi dan menunjukkan fakta-fakta kompleksitas yang konseptual sekali.

  • Dalam karyanya itu, ia menetapkan untuk menunjukkan bagaimana kita dapat mungkin memperoleh watak yang baik untuk melakukan tindakan yang benar dan terorganisir serta sistematis.Menurut Ibnu Miskawaih, jiwa adalah abadi dan substansi bebas yang mengendalikan tubuh. Itu intisari berlawanan pada tubuh, sehingga tidak mati karena terlibat dalam satu gerakan lingkaran dan gerakan abadi, direplikasi oleh organisasi dari surga. Gerakan ini berlangsung dua arah, baik menuju alasan ke atas dan akal yang aktif atau terhadap masalah kebawah. Kebahagiaan kami timbul melalui gerakan keatas, kemalangan kami melalui gerakan dalam arah berlawanan.

  • Pembahasan Ibnu Miskawaih tentang kebaikan dengan menggabungkan ide Aristoteles dengan Platonic. Menurut dia, kebaikan merupakan penyempurnaan dari aspek jiwa (yakni, alasan manusia) yang merupakan inti dari kemanusiaan dan membedakan dari bentuk keberadaan rendah.

  • Bapak Etika Islam

  • Ibnu Miskawaih dikenal sebagai bapak etika Islam. Ia telah telah merumuskan dasar-dasar etika di dalam kitabnya Tahdzib al-Akhlaq wa Tathir al-A’raq (pendidikan budi dan pembersihan akhlaq). Sementara itu sumber filsafat etika ibnu Miskawaih berasal dari filsafat Yunani, peradaban Persia, ajaran Syariat Islam, dan pengalaman pribadi.Menurut Ibnu Miskawaih, akhlak merupakan bentuk jamak dari khuluq yang berarti peri keadaan jiwa yang mengajak seseorang untuk melakukan perbuatan-perbuatan tanpa difikirkan dan diperhitungkan sebelumnya.

  • Sehingga dapat dijadikan fitrah manusia maupun hasil dari latihan-latihan yang telah dilakukan, hingga menjadi sifat diri yang dapat melahirkan khuluq yang baik.Kata dia, ada kalanya manusia mengalami perubahan khuluq sehingga dibutuhkan aturan-aturan syariat, nasihat, dan ajaran-ajaran tradisi terkait sopan santun.

  • Ibnu Maskawaih memperhatikan pula proses pendidikan akhlaq pada anak. Dalam pandangannya, kejiwaan anak-anak seperti mata rantai dari jiwa kebinatangan dan jiwa manusia yang berakal. Menurut dia, jiwa anak-anak itu menghilangkan jiwa binatang tersebut dan memunculkan jiwa kemanusiaannnya. ''Jiwa manusia pada anak-anak mengalami proses perkembangan. Sementara itu syarat utama kehidupan anak-anak adalah syarat kejiawaan dan syarat sosial,'' ungkap Ibnu Miskawaih. Sementara nilai-nilai keutamaan yang harus menjadi perhatian ialah pada aspek jasmani dan rohani.

  • Ia pun mengharuskan keutamaan pergaulan anak-anak pada sesamanya mestilah ditanamkan sifat kejujuran, qonaah, pemurah, suka mengalah, mngutamakan kepentingan orang lain, rasa wajib taat, menghormati kedua orang tua, serta sikap positif lainnya.Ibnu Maskawaih membedakan antara al-Khair (kebaikan), dan as-sa’adah (kebahagiaan). Beliau mengambil alih konsep kebaikan mutlak dari Aristoteles, yang akan mengantarkan manusia pada kebahagiaan sejati.

  • Menurutnya kebahagiaan tertinggi adalah kebijaksanaan yang menghimpun dua aspek; aspek teoritis yang bersumber pada selalu berfikir pada hakekat wujud dan aspek praktis yang berupa keutamaan jiwa yang melahirkan perbuatan baik. Dalam menempuh perjalananannya meraih kebahagiaan tertinggi tersebut manusia hendaklah selalu berpegangan pada nilai-nilai syariat, sebagai petunjuk jalan mereka.

  • Ia berpendapat jiwa manusia terdiri atas tiga tingkatan, yakni nafsu kebinatangan, nafsu binatang buas, dan jiwa yang cerdas. ''Setiap manusia memiliki potensi asal yang baik dan tidak akan berubah menjadi jahat, begitu pula manusia yang memiliki potensi asal jahat sama sekali tidak akan cenderung kepada kebajikan, adapun mereka yang yang bukan berasal dari keduanya maka golongan ini dapat beralih pada kebajikan atau kejahatan, tergantung dengan pola pendidikan, pengajaran dan pergaulan.''

Friday, May 15, 2009


  • Dalam sejarah pemikiran filsafat dan keagamaan Islam Al-Ghazali menempati kedudukan yang sangat unik, karena pertimbangan kedalaman pengetahuannya, originiliti dan pengaruh pemikirannya. Sehingga ia dijuluki the proof of Islam (hujjat al-Islam), the ornament of faith (zain al-din), dan the renewer of religion (mujaddid). Juga dalam dirinya terkumpul hampir semua jenis pemikiran dari berbagai gerakan intelektual dan keagamaan. Maka, tidaklah menghairankan jika dia terkenal sebagai seorang pakar dalam berbagai disiplin ilmu seperti teologi, fikih, filsafat, dan tasawuf.Al-Ghazali selalu memberi wacana dan pemikirannya dalam berbagai disiplin ilmu. Karena pada masa kecilnya, ia sangat antusias mempelajari ilmu. Ia yang lahir tahun 450 H/1058 M di daerah Thus, dekat kota modern Meshed Khurasa, Persia (Irak). Distrik kota Thusi adalah tempat kelahiran banyak ulama menonjol dan orang terpelajar dalam Islam. Sehingga sangat wajar ketika Al-Ghazali merupakan sosok orang yang mengerti berbagai disiplin ilmu. Juga melihat karya-karyanya sekarang ini masih dipelajari dan dikaji.Dari berbagai bidang keilmuan, ia sangat mendalami ilmu tasawuf dibanding dengan ilmu filsafat. Kerana sebenarnya ia sangat kontradiktif terhadap ilmu yang rasional.

  • Dalam bidang filsafat, Al-Ghazali mengecam kecenderungan filosofis karena ajaran-ajaran filosof cenderung membahayakan akidah dan mengabaikan dasar-dasar ritual. Namun, Al-Ghazali tidak menolak filsafat secara keseluruhan, tetapi yang ditolak hanya argumentasi rasional yang diyakini satu-satunya alat untuk membuktikan kebenaran metafisik. Para filosof sangat memaksakan rasio, bahkan apabila perlu mengabaikan akidah. Hal ini yang menyebabkan Al-Ghazali meninggalkan filsafat .Dalam kajian tasawuf, ia mempelajari jiwa. Karena ia merasakan pada dirinya ada sesuatu yang melekat. Hal ini menimbulkan bahwa esensi manusia ada berbagai unsur yang masuk dalam epistemologi.

  • Dalam literatur ilmu kedokteran, sangat jauh berbeza dengan yang dipelajari Al-Ghazali. Konsep tentang jiwa memang cukup sulit untuk difahami dan dijelaskan dengan sebuah pengertian secara epistemologis yang dikemukakan para ahli ilmu jiwa sehingga banyak menimbulkan persepsi yang berbeza karena jiwa mempunyai hubungan yang kompleks dengan konsep lainnya seperti jasad, ruh, akal, dan kalbu. Jiwa merupakan substansi yang berdiri sendiri dan mempunyai sifat-sifat dasar yang berbeza dengan badan.Jiwa dan badan terdiri dari dua dunia yang berbeza, jiwa berasal dari dunia metafisik, bersifat imaterial, tidak berbentuk komposisi, mengandung daya mengetahui yang bergerak dan kekal. Sedangkan badan merupakan substansi yang berasal dari dunia fisik, bersifat materi, berbentuk komposisi tidak mengandung daya-daya dan tidak kekal.

  • Jiwa merupakan sub sistem jiwa (nafs) yang di dalamnya terdiri dari ruh, akal, dan kalbu yang semua itu merupakan daya-daya penggerak dan dapat memengaruhi gerak badan.Hubungan antara jiwa, badan dan gerak tingkah laku manusia mempunyai dua hubungan wujud dan aktivitas. Hubungan wujud jiwa dan badan merupakan hubungan yang saling membutuhkan karena jiwa diciptakan bukan karena badan dan jiwa bukan berada dalam badan. Maka, jiwa merupakan substansi material karena jiwa menempati sebuah bagian. Jadi hubungan keduanya bersifat horizontal transendental dan pada akhirnya hubungan keduanya akan terputus dan pada saat tertentu jiwa dan badan bisa kembali seperti semula dan proses kejadian semula.

  • Sekali lagi, Al-Ghazali memandang eksistensi jiwa adalah suatu yang utuh. Ia mendukung doktrin-doktrin yang menyatakan bahwa pusat pengalaman manusia tertumpu pada jiwanya yang merupakan substansi yang berdiri sendiri karena jiwa itu mempunyai fungsi dan fakultas-fakultas. Jiwa manusia tidak terkotak secara terpisah, melainkan menyebar ke seluruh organ tubuh. Jiwa manusia terdiri atas substansi yang mempunyai dimensi dan kemampuan merasa untuk bergerak dengan yakin berupa potensi dasar yang dimiliki jiwa.Melihat secara sufistik, Al-Ghazali membagi beberapa tingkatan kejiwaan.

  • Pertama, jiwa yang tenang (an-nafs al-mutmainnah) adalah jiwa yang berada pada perkembangan jiwa tatkala mendapatkan ketenteraman dan kedamaian karena Tuhan. Al-Ghazali juga mengutip Al-Quran untuk memperkuat pendapatnya "wahai jiwa yang muthma'innah kembalilah ke dalam Tuhanmu, dalam keadaan ridha dan diridhai sepenuhnya." Karakter jiwa ini akan menemukan ketenangan dan ketenteraman jika terhindar dari godaan-godaan yang mengganggunya.

  • Kedua, jiwa yang penuh penyesalan (an-nafs al-lawwah) adalah mencela. Secara lughawi, istilah al-lawwamah mengandung arti amat mencela dirinya sendiri. Jiwa ini termasuk jiwa yang menyedari fikiran-fikiran, keinginan dan cela diri sendiri. Pada taraf jiwa ini merupakan awal taraf rohani kerana pada taraf ini merupakan sebuah proses kembali pada Tuhan dan proses penghilangan pelanggaran. Jadi, taraf ini ada proses dalam pencarian Tuhan, di mana ada sesuatu yang menghendaki batinnya antara kecocokan yang mereka peroleh.

  • Ketiga, jiwa yang memerintah (an-nafs al-'amarah) pada taraf ini termasuk jiwa yang belum dimurnikan atau dibersihkan dari sumber segala jenis perbuatan untuk memenuhi perbuatan-perbuatan dengan semua yang merupakan kemurkaan (ghadlab) dan keinginan (syahwah) untuk menguasai jiwa. Juga disebutkan dalam ayat Al-Quran surat Yusuf ayat 12:53: "Dan aku tidak membebaskan diriku dari kesalahan, karena sesungguhnya jiwa itu selalu menyuruh kepada kejahatan, kecuali jiwa yang diberi rahmat oleh Tuhanku. Sesungguhnya Tuhanku Maha Pengampun lagi Maha Penyayang.”


  • Muslim philosophers agree that knowledge is possible. Knowledge is the intellect's grasp of the immaterial forms, the pure essences or universals that constitute the natures of things, and human happiness is achieved only through the intellect's grasp of such universals. They stress that for knowledge of the immaterial forms, the human intellect generally relies on the senses. Some philosophers, such as Ibn Rushd and occasionally Ibn Sina, assert that it is the material forms themselves, which the senses provide, that are grasped by the intellect after being stripped of their materiality with the help of the divine world. However, the general view as expressed by al-Farabi and Ibn Sina seems to be that the material forms only prepare the way for the reception of the immaterial forms, which are then provided by the divine world. They also state that on rare occasions the divine world simply bestows the immaterial forms on the human intellect without any help from the senses. This occurrence is known as prophecy. While all Muslim philosophers agree that grasping eternal entities ensures happiness, they differ as to whether such grasping is also necessary for eternal existence.

  • Muslim philosophers are primarily concerned with human happiness and its attainment. Regardless of what they consider this happiness to be, all agree that the only way to attain it is through knowledge. The theory of knowledge, epistemology, has therefore been their main preoccupation and appears chiefly in their logical and psychological writings. Epistemology concerns itself primarily with the possibility, nature and sources of knowledge. Taking the possibility of knowledge for granted, Muslim philosophers focused their epistemological effort on the study of the nature and sources of knowledge. Their intellectual inquiries, beginning with logic and ending with metaphysics and in some cases mysticism, were in the main directed towards helping to understand what knowledge is and how it comes about.

  • Following in the footsteps of the Greek philosophers, Muslim philosophers consider knowledge to be the grasping of the immaterial forms, natures, essences or realities of things. They are agreed that the forms of things are either material (that is, existing in matter) or immaterial (existing in themselves). While the latter can be known as such, the former cannot be known unless first detached from their materiality. Once in the mind, the pure forms act as the pillars of knowledge. The mind constructs objects from these forms, and with these objects it makes judgments. Thus Muslim philosophers, like Aristotle before them, divided knowledge in the human mind into conception (tasawwur), apprehension of an object with no judgment, and assent (tasdiq), apprehension of an object with a judgment, the latter being, according to them, a mental relation of correspondence between the concept and the object for which it stands. Conceptions are the main pillars of assent; without conception, one cannot have a judgment. In itself, conception is not subject to truth and falsity, but assent is. However, it should be pointed out that tasdiq is a misleading term in Islamic philosophy. It is generally used in the sense of 'accepting truth or falsity', but also occasionally in the sense of 'accepting truth'. One must keep in mind, however, that when assent is said to be a form of knowledge, the word is then used, not in the broad sense to mean true or false judgment, but in the narrow sense to mean true judgment.

  • In Islamic philosophy, conceptions are in the main divided into the known and the unknown. The former are grasped by the mind actually, the latter potentially. Known conceptions are either self-evident (that is, objects known to normal human minds with immediacy such as 'being', 'thing' and 'necessary') or acquired (that is, objects known through mediation, such as 'triangle'). With the exception of the self-evident conceptions, conceptions are known or unknown relative to individual minds. Similarly, Muslim philosophers divided assent into the known and the unknown, and the known assent into the self-evident and the acquired. The self-evident assent is exemplified by 'the whole is greater than the part', and the acquired by 'the world is composite'. In Kitab At-Tanbih Ala Sabil As-Saada, Al-Farabi calls the self-evident objects: 'the customary, primary, well-known knowledge, which one may deny with one's tongue, but which one cannot deny with one's mind since it is impossible to think their contrary'. Of the objects of conception and assent, only the unknown ones are subject to inquiry. By reducing the number of unknown objects one can increase knowledge and provide the chance for happiness. But how does such reduction come about?

  • In Islamic philosophy there are two theories about the manner in which the number of unknown objects is reduced. One theory stresses that this reduction is brought about by moving from known objects to unknown ones, the other that it is merely the result of direct illumination given by the divine world. The former is the upward or philosophical way, the second the downward or prophetic one. According to the former theory, movement from the known objects of conception to the unknown ones can be effected chiefly through the explanatory phrase (al-qawl ash-sharih). The proof (al-burhan) is the method for moving from the known objects of assent to the unknown ones. The explanatory phrase and proof can be either valid or invalid: the former leads to certitude, the latter to falsehood. The validity and invalidity of the explanatory phrase and proof can be determined by logic, which is a set of rules for such determination. Ibn Sina points out that logic is a necessary key to knowledge and cannot be replaced except by God's guidance, as opposed to other types of rules such as grammar for discourse (which can be replaced by a good natural mind) and metre for poetry (which can be replaced by good taste).

  • By distinguishing the valid from the invalid explanatory phrase and proof, logic serves a higher purpose, namely that of disclosing the natures or essences of things. It does this because conceptions reflect the realities or natures of things and are the cornerstones of the explanatory phrase and proof. Because logic deals only with expressions that correspond to conceptions, when it distinguishes the valid from the invalid it distinguishes at the same time the realities or natures of things from their opposites. Thus logic is described as the key to the knowledge of the natures of things. This knowledge is described as the key to happiness; hence the special status of logic in Islamic philosophy.

  • We are told that because logic deals only with the known and unknown, it cannot deal with anything outside the mind. Because it is a linguistic instrument (foreign in nature to the realities of things), it cannot deal with such realities directly, whether they exist in the mind or outside it, or are external to these two realms of existence. It can only deal with the states or accidents of such realities, these states comprising links among the realities and intermediaries between the realities and language. Logic therefore deals with the states of such realities, as they exist in the mind. Such states are exemplified by 'subject' or 'predicate', 'universality' or 'particularity', 'essentiality' or 'accidentality'. In other words, logic can deal with realities only in that these realities are subjects or predicates, universal or particular, essential or accidental and so on.

  • Because the ultimate human objective is the understanding of the realities, essences or natures of things, and because the ultimate logical objective is the understanding of conceptions, logicians must focus on the understanding of those conceptions that lead to the understanding of the essences if they intend to serve humanity. Ibn Sina points out that since the essences are universal, such expressions are also universal in the sense of representing universal conceptions such as 'human being', not in the sense of being universal only in expression, such as 'Zayd'. A universal expression can be applied to more than one thing, as the last two examples show, but one must keep in mind Ibn Sina's distinction between these two types of universal expressions: the former represents reality, although indirectly, the latter does not. It is only the former with which the logician should be concerned.

  • Considering that the discussion of universals occupies a central place in Arabic logic, it is important to focus briefly on this subject to ensure understanding of the proper objects of the knowledge of the natures of things. Muslim philosophers divide universal expressions into five types, known together as the five predicables: genus, species, difference, property and common accident. Genus refers to the common nature of all the species that fall under it, such as 'animality' for 'human being', 'dog', 'cat' and so on. As such, it tells us what the general nature of a thing is. Species refers to the common nature of all the individuals that fall under it, such as 'human being' for 'John', 'George' and 'Dorothy'. As such, it tells us what the specific nature of a thing is. Difference refers to that which differentiates the members of the genus, such as 'rational', which differentiates the species of being human from other animal species; it tells us which thing a being is. These three universals are essential to a thing; that is, without them the essence will not be what it is. Property and common accident are accidental, in that they attach to the thing but are not part of its essence. Property refers to something that necessarily attaches to one universal only, such as 'capacity for laughter' for 'human being'. Common accident refers to a quality that attaches to more than one universal, either in an inseparable manner, such as 'black' for 'crow', or in a separable manner, such as 'black' for 'human being'. The inseparability of the common accident, however, is only in existence.

  • Only the first three of the above universals constitute the essences of things. If one is to understand the essence of a thing, one must first understand its genus, species and difference or differences. The understanding of these three universals takes place through the explanatory phrase and proof, of which these universals are simple elements. The explanatory phrase is either definition or description. The definition is a phrase which mirrors the essence of a thing by indicating its general and specific essential qualities, that is, its genus, species and difference; the description is like the definition except that it indicates the property instead of the difference. Thus the description does not give a complete picture of the essence of a thing as does the definition. The proof is a set of propositions, which consist of conceptions joined or separated by particles. The proof that helps in the understanding of the essences of things is that which moves from known universal judgments to an unknown universal one.

  • The important question that concerned Muslim philosophers is how the universals or forms that are essential to the natures of things arrive at the human mind before it has the chance to employ the explanatory phrase and proof to compose known conceptions and known judgments from them. In order to answer this question, Muslim philosophers first discussed the structure of the human soul and then the steps through which the universals pass on their way to the place of knowledge. As stated above, conceptions come to the mind through either the philosophical way or the prophetic way. The philosophical way requires one first to use one's external senses to grasp the universals as they exist in the external world, mixed with matter. Then the internal senses, which like the external senses are a part of the animal soul, take in these universals and purify them of matter as much as possible. The imagination is the highest internal sense, in which these universals settle until the next cognitive move. It is from this point to the next step in the philosophical journey that the details seem particularly unclear.

  • All Muslim philosophers believe that above the senses there is the rational soul. This has two parts: the practical and theoretical intellects. The theoretical intellect is responsible for knowledge; the practical intellect concerns itself only with the proper management of the body through apprehension of particular things so that it can do the good and avoid the bad. All the major Muslim philosophers, beginning with Al-Kindi, wrote treatises on the nature and function of the theoretical intellect, which may be referred to as the house of knowledge.

  • In addition to the senses and the theoretical intellect, Muslim philosophers include in their discussion of the instruments of knowledge a third factor. They teach that the divine world contains, among other things, intelligences, the lowest of which is what al-Kindi calls the First Intellect (al-'aql al-awwal), better known in Arabic philosophy as the 'agent intellect' (al-'aql al-fa''al), the name given to it by Al-Farabi, or 'the giver of forms' (wahib as-suwar). They contend that the world around us is necessary for the attainment of philosophical knowledge. Some, such as Ibn Bajja, Ibn Rushd and occasionally Ibn Sina, say that the mixed universals in the imagination that have been derived from the outside world through the senses are eventually purified completely by the light of the agent intellect, and are then reflected onto the theoretical intellect.

  • Al-Farabi's and Ibn Sina's general view, however, is that these imagined universals only prepare the theoretical intellect for the reception of the universals from the agent intellect that already contains them. When expressing this view, Ibn Sina states that it is not the universals in the imagination themselves that are transmitted to the theoretical intellect but their shadow, which is created when the light of the agent intellect is shed on these universals. This is similar, he says, to the shadow of an object which is reflected on the eye when sunlight is cast on that object. While the manner in which the universals in the imagination can prepare the theoretical intellect for knowledge is in general unclear, it is vaguely remarked by al-Farabi and Ibn Sina that this preparation is due to the similarity of these universals to the pure universals, and to the familiarity of the theoretical intellect with the imagined universals owing to its proximity to the imagination. In other words, the familiarity of this intellect with what resembles its proper objects prepares it for the reception of these objects from the agent intellect.

  • 5. Philosophical and prophetic knowledge

  • The prophetic way is a much easier and simpler path. One need not take any action to receive the divinely given universals; the only requirement seems to be the possession of a strong soul capable of receiving them. While the philosophical way moves from the imagination upward to the theoretical intellect, the prophetic way takes the reverse path, from the theoretical intellect to the imagination. For this reason, knowledge of philosophy is knowledge of the natures of things themselves, while knowledge of prophecy is knowledge of the natures of things as wrapped up in symbols, the shadows of the imagination.

  • Philosophical and prophetic truth is the same, but it is attained and expressed differently. Ibn Tufayl's Hayy Ibn Yaqzan is the best illustration of the harmony of philosophy and religion. The so-called double truth theory wrongly views these two paths to knowledge as two types of truth, thus attributing to Ibn Rushd a view foreign to Islamic philosophy. One of the most important contributions of Islamic philosophy is the attempt to reconcile Greek philosophy and Islam by accepting the philosophical and prophetic paths as leading to the same truth.

  • Muslim philosophers agree that knowledge in the theoretical intellect passes through stages. It moves from potentiality to actuality and from actuality to reflection on actuality, thus giving the theoretical intellect the respective names of potential intellect, actual intellect and acquired intellect. Some Muslim philosophers explain that the last is called 'acquired' because its knowledge comes to it from the outside, and so it can be said to acquire it. The acquired intellect is the highest human achievement, a holy state that conjoins the human and the divine realms by conjoining the theoretical and agent intellects.

  • Following in the footsteps of Alexander of Aphrodisias, al-Farabi, Ibn Bajja and Ibn Rushd believe that the theoretical intellect is potential by nature, and therefore disintegrates unless it grasps the eternal objects, the essential universals, for the known and the knower are one. Ibn Sina rejects the view that the theoretical intellect is potential by nature. He argues instead that it is eternal by nature because unless it is, it cannot grasp the eternal objects. For him, happiness is achieved by this intellect's grasping of the eternal objects, for such grasping perfects the soul. Muslim philosophers who believe that eternity is attained only through knowledge also agree with Ibn Sina that knowledge is perfection and perfection is happiness.

  • References and further reading
    Davidson, H.A. (1992) Al-Farabi, Avicenna and Averroes on Intellect, London: Oxford University Press. (Discusses the link between Greek and Arabic understanding of intellect and the various transformations the concept of intellect underwent in Islamic philosophy.)Fakhry, M. (ed.) (1992) Rasa'il Ibn Bajja al-ilahiyya (Ibn Bajja's Metaphysical Essays), Beirut: Dar al-Jil. (Includes the most important of Ibn Bajja's philosophical treatises, Tadbir al-mutawahhid (Management of the Solitary), Risalat al-ittisal al-'aql al-fa''al bil-insan (Essay on the Conjunction of the Intellect with Human Beings) and Risalat al-wada' (Essay on Bidding Farewell).)al-Farabi (c.870-950) Risala fi al-'aql (Essay on the Intellect), ed. M. Bouyges, Beirut: al-Maktab al-Katulikiyya, 1939. (One of the best known and most influential treatises on intellect in Islamic philosophy; it gives the different senses of 'intellect' known to al-Farabi.)* al-Farabi (c.870-950) Kitab at-tanbih 'ala sabil as-sa'ada (The Book of Remarks Concerning the Path of Happiness), ed. J. Al-Yasin, Beirut: Dar al-Manahil, 1985. (Includes al-Farabi's definition of the self-evident objects.)Ibn Rushd (1126-98) Talkhis kitab an-nafs (Epitome of Aristotle's On the Soul), ed. A.F. al-Ahwani, Cairo: Maktabat an-Nahda, 1950. (This edition also includes three other essays: Ibn Bajja's Risalat al-ittisal (Essay on Conjunction), Ishaq ibn Hunayn's Kitab fi an-nafs (Book on the Soul) and al-Kindi's Risalat al-'aql (Essay on Intellect).)Ibn Sina (980-1037) al-Shifa' (Healing), ed. F. Rahman, London: Oxford University Press, 1959. (Standard account by Ibn Sina of his views on the soul, including the essays at-Tabi'iyyat (Physics) and an-Nafs (Psychology).)Ibn Sina (980-1037) al-Isharat wa'l-tanbihat (Remarks and Admonitions), part translated by S.C. Inati, Remarks and Admonitions: Part One, Logic, Toronto: Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies, 1984. (The most comprehensive of Ibn Sina's logic and best representation of Arabic logic.)* Ibn Tufayl (before 1185) Hayy Ibn Yaqzan (The Living Son of the Vigilant), ed. L. Gauthier, Beirut: Catholic Press, 1936; trans. L. Goodman, Ibn Tufayl's Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, A Philosophical Tale, New York: Twayne Publishers, 1972. (Expresses the harmony between reason and revelation in a literary form).Nuseibeh, S. (1996) 'Epistemology', in S.H. Nasr and O. Leaman (eds) History of Islamic Philosophy, London: Routledge, ch. 49, 824-40. (Analysis of the main concepts of epistemology, along with discussion of how some of the main thinkers take up different positions.)Rida, A. (ed.) (1950) Rasa'il al-Kindi al-falsafiyya (al-Kindi's Philosophical Essays), Cairo: Dar al-Fikr al-'Arabi. (These two volumes include four essays relevant to al-Kindi's theory of knowledge: Risalat al-Kindi fi al-qawl fi an-nafs (Al-Kindi's Essay on the Discourse Concerning the Soul), Kalam lil-Kindi fi an-nafs (Words for al-Kindi Concerning the Soul), Risalat al-Kindi fi mahiyyat an-nawm war-ru'ya (Al-Kindi's Essay on Sleep and Vision) and Risalat al-Kindi fi al-'aql (Al-Kindi's Essay on the Intellect). The last of these is the best known and seems to have been the first in a long and influential series of Arabic works on the intellect.)Rosenthal, F. (1970) Knowledge Triumphant: The Concept of Knowledge in Medieval Islam, Leiden: Brill. (By far the best work on epistemology in Islamic thought, authoritative and always interesting.)


Thursday, May 14, 2009


    • Speaking about Ibnu Arabi, we now come to the shore of an endless sea, to the foot of a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds: all these metaphors are appropriate to the gigantic scope of the work of Ibn al-'Arabi, one of the greatest visionary theosophers of all time. We must radically alter the false perspective, which stems from some unadmitted prejudice, according to which Ibn al-'Arabi's work signals the end of the golden age of Sufism. Far from this being the case, we may say that this work marks the beginning of something novel and original—so original that it could have occurred only at the heart of Abrahamic esotericism, and, of the three branches of this esotericism, only at the heart of the Islamic.

    • The philosophy of the falasifa, the kalam of the scholastics, the asceticism of primitive pious Sufism—all these are swept away in a torrent of unprecedented speculative metaphysics and visionary power. This is the beginning of the 'golden age' of mystical theosophy. As is well known, Ibn al-'Arabi's theosophy and the 'Oriental' (ishraq) theosophy of al-Suhrawardi are related to each other.

    • When both united with the Shiite theosophy deriving from the holy Imams, the result was the great flowering of Shiite metaphysics in Iran (with Haydar Amuli, Ibn Abi Jumhur, Mulla Sadra etc.) whose potential even today is far from being exhausted. Ibn al-'Arabi was born in south-eastern Spain, in Murcia, on the 17th Ramadan 569/28th July 1165. His formative years and the years of his apprenticeship were spent in Andalusia. At the age of seventeen, Ibn al-'Arabi had an extraordinary conversation with the philosopher Averroes. There was no further encounter between them until the day when the ashes of Averroes were transported to Cordoba. The young Ibn al-'Arabi was present at this occasion, and he composed some poignant distichs which presage the orientation that he was to give to Islamic philosophy and spirituality. He was strongly influenced in his formative years by Ibn Masarrah's school of Almeria, which propagated the teaching of Ismaili and Shiite missionaries. Later, when Mulla Sadra's school of Isfahan accepted the doctrines of Ibn al-'Arabi, the grandiose circuit of this return to the origins was completed. In the meantime, to remain in Andalusia was intolerable for anyone who wished to reject literalism. Ibn al-'Arabi decided to leave for the East, and undertook a voyage that for him possessed the value of a symbol.

    • After an admirably full life and a prolific literary output, he died peacefully at Damascus, surrounded by his family, on the 28th Rabi' II 638/16th November 1240. He is buried there with his two sons on the side of Mount Qasiyun, and his tomb is still for many a place of pilgrimage. It is impossible to summarize the doctrines of Ibn al-'Arabi in a few lines. All we can do is to indicate very briefly some of the essential points.

    • As in all gnosis, the keystone of the system, if the term is acceptable, is the mystery of a pure Essence which is unknowable, unpredictable, and ineffable. From this unfathomable Abyss the torrent of theophanies arises and proliferates, and the theory of the divine Names is born. Ibn al-'Arabi is in complete agreement about this with Ismaili and Twelver Shiite theosophy, both of which rigorously respect the rule and consequences of apophatic {tanzih) theology. Is there a breach between them in so far as Ibn al-'Arabi gives the name of Pure Light to this Ineffable Being, or identifies it with absolute Being, whereas Ismaili theosophy sees the source of being as strictly beyond being—as supra-being? Both interpretations result in a sense of the transcendent unity of being (wahdat al-wujud), which has been so widely misunderstood.

    • The divine abyss conceals the mystery of the 'hidden Treasure' that aspires to be known, and that creates creatures in order to become in them the object of its own knowledge. This revelation of the divine Being is accomplished in the form of a succession of theophanies characterized by three stages: the epiphany of the divine Essence to itself, which can only be spoken of by allusion; a second theophany which is the sum total of all the theophanies in and through which the divine Essence reveals itself to itself in the forms of the divine Names—that is to say, in the forms of beings such as they exist in the secret of the absolute mystery; and a third theophany in the forms of concrete individuals, which bestows upon the divine Names a concrete and manifest existence. These Names exist from all eternity within the divine Essence, and are this very Essence, because the Attributes which they designate, although they are not identical with the divine Essence as such, are nevertheless not different from it. These Names are known as 'Lords' (arbab) who possess the appearance of so many hypostases.{We may recall the procession of the divine Names in the Hebrew Book of Enoch, or 'Third Enoch'.) In terms of actual experience, we can know these divine Names only through our knowledge of ourselves: God describes himself to us through us.

    • In other words, the divine Names are essentially relative to the beings which name them, as these beings find and experience them in and through their own mode of being. This is why these Names are also designated as constitutive of the levels or planes of being (hadarat, nazarat, meaning presences or, as Ramon Llull translated it, 'dignities'). Seven of them are the Imams of the Names, and the others are known as the 'guardians of the temple' or templars {sadanah): the theory of the divine Names is modelled on the general theory of the hadarat. Thus the divine Names possess meaning and full reality only through and for the beings who are their epiphanic forms (mazahir). Equally, these forms which support the divine Names have existed in the divine Essence from all eternity; they are our own latent existences in their archetypal state,' eternal haecceities' (a 'yan thabita).

    • It is these latent individualities which aspire from all eternity to be revealed: their yearning is that of the 'concealed Treasure' aspiring to be known. From this there eternally proceeds the 'Sigh of compassion' (al-Nafas al-Rahmani) which brings into active being the divine Names that are still unknown, and the existences through and for which these divine Names are made manifest in actuality. Thus in its hidden being, each existence is a breath of the divine existential Compassion, and the divine name Allah is the equivalent of the name al-Rahman, the Compassionate, the Merciful. This 'Sigh of compassion' is the origin of amass whose composition is wholly subtle, and which is known by the name of Cloud ('ama): a primordial Cloud which both receives all forms and bestows upon beings their forms, is both active and passive, constructive and receptive. Primordial Cloud, existential Compassion, active, absolute or theophanic Imagination—these words designate the same original reality, who is the created God (Haqq makhluq) by whom all creatures are created. He is the Creator-created, the Hidden-manifested, the Esoteric-exoteric, the First-last, and so on. It is through this Figure that esoteric theosophy in Islam can be situated on the level of the 'speculative theology' which we mentioned above in our general survey.

    • The First-created (Makhluq awwal, Protoktistos) in the bosom of this primordial Cloud is the Muhammadan Logos, the metaphysical reality of the prophet (Haqiqah muhammadiyah, also called the Muhammadan Holy Spirit (Ruh muhammadi), the source and origin of a theology of the Logos and of the Spirit which reproduces, in the form appropriate to it, the theology of the neo-Platonists, of gnosis, of Philo and of Origen.

    • The pair Creator-created (haqq-Khalq) is repeated at all levels of theophany and at all stages of the 'descent of being'. This is neither monism nor pantheism; rather, it can be called theomonism and panentheism. Theomonism is no more than the philosophical expression of the interdependence of Creator and created—interdependence, that is, on the level of theophany. This is the secret of the personal divinity (sirr al-rububiya), of the interdependence, that is, between the lord (rabb) and him who chooses him as his lord (marbub), to the extent that one cannot subsist without the other. The diety (uluhiya) is on the level of pure Essence; the rububiya is the divinity of the personal lord to whom one has recourse, because one answers for him in this world. Allah is the Name designating the divine Essence which is qualified by all its attributes, while the rabb or lord is the divine Being personified and particularized by one of his Names and Attributes. This is the whole secret of the divine Names and of what Ibn al-'Arabi calls 'the God created in beliefs', or rather the God who creates himself in these beliefs. This is why knowledge of God is limitless for the gnostic, since the recurrence of Creation and the metamorphoses of the theophanies are the law itself of being.

    • In this brief summary we can only suggest, not systematize. Ibn al-'Arabi was an enormously prolific writer. As we know thanks to the exemplary labours of Osman Yahya, his works in all number eight hundred and fifty-six, of which five hundred and fifty have come down to us in the form of two thousand one hundred and seventeen manuscripts. His most famous masterpiece is the vast work of some three thousand large quarto pages entitled The Book of the Spiritual Conquests of Mecca (Kitab al-futuha tal-Makkiya), which is at present being edited for the first time by Osman Yahya. This work has been read throughout the centuries by all the philosophers and spiritual men of Islam. The same can be said of the collection entitled The Gems of the Wisdom of the Prophets (Fusus al-hikam), which is not so much a history of the prophets as a speculative meditation on twenty-seven of them, regarded as the archetypes of the divine Revelation. The work itself pertains to the 'phenomenon of the revealed Book', for Ibn al-'Arabi presents it as having been inspired from Heaven by the Prophet. Both Shiite and Sunni authors have written commentaries on it. Osman Yahya has compiled an inventory of one hundred and fifty of them, about a hundred and thirty of which are the work of Iranian spiritual men. These commentaries are not simply innocuous glosses, for although the work of Ibn al-'Arabi aroused fervent admiration among his followers, it also provoked passionate wrath and anathema among his adversaries.
    • Among other famous commentaries on the Fusus, there is one by Da'ud al-Qaysari (751/1350-1351), a Sunni, and one by Kamal al-Din 'Abd al-Razzaq {died between 735/1334 and 751/ 1350-1351), a famous Shiite thinker, to whom we also owe a mystical commentary on the Quran, a treatise on the vocabulary of Sufism and a treatise on the futuwwah. Mention should also be made of the lengthy Shiite commentary by Haydar Amuli, which is in the process of being edited, and which includes a severe criticism of Da'ud al-Qaysari on a point which is decisive for all the philosophy of the walayah. Two questions arise: how is one to conceive of an integral history of Islamic philosophy before all these texts have been studied? And how long will it be before they have been studied?

    • There can be no question here of even a brief outline of the history of Ibn al-'Arabi's school. But we must not omit to mention the name of Sadr al-Din al-Qunyawi (meaning from Quniyah or Konia or Iconium, often mistakenly transcribed as Qunawi). Sadr al-Din (671/1272 or 673/1273-1274) was both the disciple and the son-in-law of Ibn al-'Arabi, and his thought was steeped in Ibn al-'Arabi's doctrine. He wrote a number of important works. He is of great interest in that he himself in some sense represents a crossroads: he was in touch with Jalal al-Din Rumi and Sa'd al-Din Hamuyah (or Hamu'i), and corresponded with the great Shiite philosopher Nasir al-Din Tusi, as well as with other shaykhs. None of the texts necessary for an analysis of his thought has yet been edited.


    Existence = Degrees Of Existences
    Revolution = Concepts Of Existences
    Action = Contexts Of Existences
    Impact = Alternatives Of Existences
    Guidance = Tools Of Existences
    Limitation = Weapons Of Existences
    Evolution = Laws Of Existences
    Freedom = Desires Of Existences

    Beberapa Persoalan:-

    1.Bagaimanakah kita bisa mengetahui bahawa segala ilmu yang telah kita kuasai selama ini adalah BENAR?

    2.Apakah rahsia-rahsia yang ada disebalik ilmu yang telah kita kuasai selama ini?

    3.Apakah ilmu yang telah kita kuasai selama ini, telah memberikan kita keupayaan untuk membezakan antara perkara-perkara yang HAK dan BATIL?

    4.Adakah kemungkinan bahawa segala ilmu yang telah kita kuasai selama ini adalah PALSU dan hanyalah REKAAN semata-mata?

    5.Adakah dari sebab ilmu yang telah kita kuasai selama ini telah membuatkan kita gagal untuk memahami yang BENAR sebagai BENAR dan yang PALSU sebagai PALSU?

    6.Bagaimanakah kita boleh menguji akan KEBENARAN ilmu kita?

    7.Adakah hanya kerana kita telah berjaya mendapatkan sekeping ijazah daripada suatu universiti yang berprestij telah menjadikan kita seorang manusia yang "tahu akan segalanya"?

    8.Apakah yang ada di langit?

    9.Apakah yang ada di dalam bumi?

    10.Apakah yang menjadi unsur-unsur diri kita dari sudut fizikal dan metafizikalnya?

    11.Apakah diluar sana wujud manusia-manusia yang telah berjaya menguasai ilmu-ilmu yang membolehkan mereka melihat yang HAK sebagai HAK dan yang BATIL sebagai BATIL?

    12.Bagaimanakah yang BATIL itu menukar bentuk kewujudannya sehingga kita melihatnya sebagai KEBENARAN?

    13.Bagaimanakah yang HAK itu "di litupi ' sehingga kita gagal melihat KEBENARANNYA?

    14.Apakah unsur-unsur yang menyelimuti kewujudan yang HAK sehingga kita gagal melihatnya?

    15.Apakah kita diselimuti atau perkara yang HAK itu diselimuti?

    16.Pernahkan kita terfikir soalan-soalan di atas?