as much as it is a contingent being, would be connected in being with something else, and so it has a reason; but in as much as it is a necessary being, it would have no connexions with anything else. In that case it would both have being and not have being; and that is absurd.
Demonstration that He has no material and receptive cause : The receptive cause is the cause for the provision of the place in which a thing is received; that is to say, the place prepared for the reception of being, or the perfection of being. Now the Necessary Being is a perfection in pure actuality, and is not impaired by any deficiency ; every perfection belongs to Him, derives from Him, and is preceded by His Essence, while every deficiency, even if it be metaphorical, is negated to Him. All perfection and all beauty are of His Being; indeed, these are the vestiges of the perfection of His Being; how then should He derive perfection from any other ? Since it is thus established that He has 110 receptive cause, it follows that He does not possess anything potentially, and that He has no attribute yet to be awaited; on the contrary, His Perfection has been realized in actuality; and He has no material cause. We say " realized in actuality ", using this as a common term of expression, meaning that every perfection belonging to any other is non-existent and yet to be awaited, whereas all perfection belonging to Him has being and is present. His Perfect Essence, preceding all relations, is One. From this it is manifest that His Attributes are not an augmentation of His Essence ; for if they were an augmentation of His Essence, the Attributes would be potential with reference to the Essence and the Essence would be the reason for die Attributes. In that case the Attributes would be subsequent to a precedent, so that they would he in one respect active and in another receptive; their being active would he other dan the aspect of Aek being receptive ; and in CO*
sequence they would possess two mutually exclusive aspects. Now this is impossible in the case of anything whatsoever ; when a body is in motion, the motivation is from one quarter and the movement from another.
If it were to be stated that His Attributes are not an augmentation of His Essence, but that they entered into the constitution of the Essence, and that the Essence cannot be conceived of as existing without these Attributes, then the Essence would be compound, and the Oneness would be destroyed. It is also evident, as a result of denying the existence of a receptive cause, that it is impossible for Him to change ; for the meaning of change is the passing away of one attribute and the establishment of another ; and if He were susceptible to change, He would possess potentially an element of passing-away and an element of establishment; and that is absurd. It is clear from this that He has no opposite and no contrary ; for opposites arc essences which succeed each other in the occupation of a single locus, there being between them the extreme of contrariety. But He is not receptive to accidents, much less to opposites. And if the term " opposite " is used to denote one who disputes with Him in His Rulership, it is clear too on this count that He has no opposite. It is further clear that it is impossible for Him not to be ; for since it is established that His Being is necessary, it follows that it is impossible for Him not to be; because everything which exists potentially cannot exist actually, otherwise it would have two aspects. Anything which is receptive to a thing docs not cease to be receptive when reception has actually taken place ; if this were not so, it would result in the removal of both being and not-being, and that is untenable. This rule applies to every essencc and every unified reality, such as angels and human spirits; they are not susceptible to not-being at aB, since they are free from corpdccai adjunctions.
Demonstration that He has no formal cause : A formal, corporeal cause only exists and is confirmed when a thing is possessed of matter : the matter has a share in die being of die form, in the same way that the form has a part in die disposition of the matter in being in actuality ; such a thing is therefore caused. It is further evident as a result of denying this cause to Him, that He is also to be denied all corporeal attributes, such as time, space, direction, and being in one place to the exclusion of all other ; in short, whatever is possible in relation to cbrporeal things is impossible in relation to Him.
Proof that He has no final cause : The final cause is that on account of which a thing has being; and the First Truth has not being for the sake of anything, rather does everything exist on account of the perfection of His Essence, being consequent to His Being and derived from His Being. Moreover the fmal cause, even if it be posterior in respect of being to all other causes, yet it is mentally prior to them all. It is the final cause which makes the active cause become a cause in actuality, that is to say in respect of its being a final cause.
Since it is established that He is exalted above this last kind of cause too, it is clear that there is no cause to His Attributes. It is also evident that He is Pure Benevolence and True Perfection; the meaning of His Self-Sufficiency likewise becomes manifest, namely that he approves of nothing and disapproves of nodiing. For if He approved of anything, that thing would come into being and would continue to be ; while if He disapproved of anything, that thing would be converted into not-being and would be annulled. The very divergency of these beings proves the nullity of such a proposition; for a thing which is one in every respect cannot approve of a thing and of its opposite. It is also not necessary for Him to observe the rule of greater expedieucy or of expediency, as certain
Qualitarians have idly pretended ; for if His acts of expediency were obligatory to Him, He would not merit gratitude and praise for such acts, since He would merely be fulfilling that which it is His obligation to perform, and He would be to all intents and purposes as one paying a debt; He would therefore deserve nothing at all for such benevolence. In fact His acts proceed on the contrary from Him and for Him, as we shall demonstrate later.
His Attributes as Interpreted According to the Foregoing Principles Since it is established that God is a Necessary Being, that He is One in every respect, that He is exalted above all causes, and that He has no reason of any kind for His Being ; since it is further established that His Attributes do not augment His Essence, and that He is qualified by the Attributes of Praise and Perfection ; it follows necessarily that we must state that He is Knowing, Living, Willing, Omnipotent, Speaking, Seeing, Hearing, and Possessed of all the other Loveliest Attributes. It is also necessary to recognize that His Attributes are to be classified as negative, positive, and a compound of the two : since His Attributes are of this order, it follows that their multiplicity docs not destroy His Unity or contradict the necessary nature of His Being. Pre-eternity for instance is essentially the negation of not-being in the first place,- and the denial of causality and of primality in the second place ; similarly the term One means that He is indivisible in every respect, both verbally and actually. When it is stated that He is a Necessary Being, this means that He is a Being without a cause, and that He is the Cause of other than Himself: this is a combination of the negative and the positive. Examples of the positive Attributes arc His being Creator, Originator, Shaper, and the entire Attributes of Action. As for the compound of both, this kind is illustrated by fib being Willing and Omnipotent, for these Attributes are a compound of Knowledge with the addition of Creativeness.
God has knowledge of His Essence : His Knowledge, His Being Known and His Knowing are one and the same thing. He knows other than Himself, and all objects of knowledge. He knows all things by virtue of one knowledge, and in a single manner. His Knowledge does not change according to whether the thing known has being or not-being.
Proof that God has knowledge of His Essence : We have stated that God is One, and that He is exalted above all causes. The meaning of knowledge is the supervention of an idea divested of all corporeal coverings. Since it is established that He is One, and that He is divested of body, and His Attributes also ; and as this idea as just described supervenes upon Him; and since whoever has an abstract idea supervening upon him is possessed of knowledge, and it is immaterial whether it is his essence or other than himself; and as further His Essence is not absent from Himself; it follows from all this that He knows Himself.
Proof that He is Knowledge, Knowing and Known: Knowledge is another term for an abstract idea. Since this idea is abstract, it follows that He is Knowledge; since this abstract idea belongs to Him, is present with Him, and is not veiled from Him, it follows that He is Knowing; and since this abstract idea does not supervene save through Him, it follows that He is Known. The terms employed in each case are different; otherwise it might be said that Knowledge, Knowing and Known are, in relation to His Essence, one. Take your own experience as a parallel. If you know yourself, the olqcct of your knowledge is either yourself or something else; if the objcct of your knowledge is something other than yourself, then you do not know yourself. But if the objcct of your knowledge is yourself, then both the one knowing and the thing known are your self. If the image of your self is impressed upon your self, then it is your self which is die knowledge. Now if you look back upon yourself reflectively, you will not find any impression of the idea and quiddity of your self in yourself a second time, so as to give rise within you to a sense that your self is more than one. Therefore since it is established that He has intelligence of His Essence, and since His Intelligence is His Essence and docs not augment His Essence, it follows that He is Knowing, Knowledge and Known without any multiplicity attaching to Him dirough these Attributes; and there is no difference between " one who has knowledge " and " one who has intelligence ", since both arc terms for describing the negation of matter absolutely.
Proof that He has knowledge of other dian Himself: Whoever knows himself, if thereafter he does not know other than himself this is due to some impediment. If the impediment is essential, this implies necessarily that he docs not know himself either ; while if the impediment is of an external nature, that which is external can be removed. Therefore it is possible— nay, necessary—that He should have knowledge of other than Himself, as you shall learn from this chapter.
Proof that He has knowledge of all objects of knowledge : Since it is established that He is a Necessary Being, that He is One, and that the universe is brought into being from Him and has resulted out of His Being ; since it is established further that He has knowledge of His Own Essence, liis Knowledge of His Essence being what it is, namely that He is the Origin of all realities and of all things that have being; it follows that nothing in heaven or earth is remote from His Knowledge
—on the contrary, all that comes into being does so by reason of Him : He is the causer of all reasons, and He knows that of which He is the Reason, the Giver of being and the Originator.
Proof that He knows all things by virtue of one knowledge, in a maimer which changes not according to the change in the thing known : It has been estabUshed that His Knowledge docs not augment His Essence, and that He is the Origin of all things that have being, while being exalted above accident and changes ; it therefore follows that He knows things in a manner unchanging. The objects of knowledge are a consequence of His Knowledge ; His Knowledge is not a consequence of the things known, that it should change as they change ; for His Knowledge of things is the reason for their having being. Hence it is manifest that Knowledge is itself Omnipotence. He knows all contingent things, even as He knows all things that have being, even though we know them not; for the contingent, in relation to us, is a thing whose being is possible and whose not-being is also possible ; but in relation to Him one of the two alternatives is actually known. Therefore His Knowledge of genera, species, things with being, contingent things, manifest and secret things—this Knowledge is a single knowledge.
Since you now know that He is a Necessary Being, that He is One, and that He has no Attribute which augments His Essence (for that would imply a succession of various acts, whereas the Act of God is the vestiges of the Perfection of His Essence); this being so, it follows that His First Act is one. For if there had emanated from Him two acts, the emanation would have been in two different manners, for duality in die act implies duality in the agon. He who acts by virtue of his own cactice, if Ms essence is one only one act emanates from it; whereas if he has a duality of essence, he must be a compound ; and we have proved the impossibility of this as regards God. It follows necessarily that the first thing to emanate from God was not a body ; for every body is compounded of matter and form, and these require either two causes, or a single cause with two aspects ; this being so, it is impossible that these two should have emanated from God, it having been established that there is no compounding in God whatsoever. Since the first thing to emanate from God was not a body, it follows that it was an abstract substance, namely, the First Intelligence. This has been confirmed by the true religion, for the Prophet said, "The first thing God created was Intelligence," and again, " The first thing God created was the Pen." The phrase Thou shalt not find any change in the Way of God (Koran xxxiii. 62) refers to the perpetuity of the Creation ; the phrase Thou shalt not Jind any alteration in the Way of God (Koran xxxv. 41) refers to the perpetuity of the Command. Certainly, the Universe emanated from Him in due succession of order and media. So when we say that this Act emanated from Him through a reason, and that that reason was of Him also, this implies no imperfection in His Activity ; on the contrary, totality emanated from Hiin, through Him, and unto Him. Therefore all things having being emanated from Him according to a known order and known media : that which came later cannot be earlier, and that which came earlier cannot be later, for it is He Who causes things to be earlier and later. Indeed, the first thing having being that emanated from Him was the noblest; thereafter came a descent from the nobler to the lower, until the lowliest of all was reached. First was Intelligence; then Soul; then the Body of Heaven; then the materials of the four Elements with their forms (for their materials arc common to all, only their forms differ). Then that is a mourning up from the lowliest to die noblest;
the noblest of all ending at a degree parallel to the degree of the Intelligence. Through this process of origination and returning back, God is said to be the Originator and the Returner.
(From al-Risalat al-'Arsltiya.)
(Avicenna was asked to explain the meaning of the Sufi saying, " To make known the secret of p/cdcstination is an act of heresy." His reply was as follows.)
This is an extremely recondite problem, and one which cannot be put 011 paper save in the language of cypher, a matter which may not be made known except as a hidden mystery : to disclose it in full would work much mischief to the people at large. The fundamental text in this connexion is the saying of the Prophet: " Predestination is the secret of God : do yc not disclose God's secret." It is related that a man asked the Caliph Ali about predestination, and he answered: " Predestination is a deep sea : do not embark upon it." Asked a second time, he replied: " It is a hard road : do not tread it." A third time asked, he retorted: " It is an arduous ascent: do not undertake it."
Now the secret of predestination is constructed upon certain propositions: first, the fact of an ordered universe, then the doctrine that men's actions will be rewarded and punished, and finally the belief that the soul will be restored after death.
First Proposition. There is nothing whatsoever in the entire world, and in all its higher and lower parts, which is excluded from the statement that God is the cause of its being and its origination in tune, that God has knowledge of it and deposes it, and that God wills it to exist. On the contrary, the whole world is disposed and predetermined, known and willed by God; though it is necessary to add that in describing the matter thus our intention is to describe it in terms confirmed as accurate
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