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Philosophy: Ibn Rushd

   

Ibn Rushd's criticisms of the theologians’ arguments for the existence of God

Dr. Ibrahim Y. Najjar, 
University of Sharjah

May 2001


THIS PAPER deals with Ibn Rushd's criticisms of the theologians' arguments for the existence of God in his book al-Kashf 'an Manahij al-Adilla. In this book, Ibn Rushd argues that the theologians, in general, and the Ash’arites, in particular, used the presumed superiority of their arguments for the existence of God to exercise unjustified power over the lives of the Muslim community. Ibn Rushd directed his criticisms against the theologians' proofs for the existence of God in a dual effort to expose the fallacies and difficulties involved in such proofs and undermine their political weight in the Muslim community, thereby clearing the grounds for his own arguments for the existence of God. Furthermore, I will discuss the alternative arguments that Ibn Rushd provides for explaining the way we come to know of God’s existence without being subject to the objections that he raised against the Ash'arites. In the final part of the paper, I will briefly evaluate Ibn Rushd’s project.

In his famous book Fasl al-Maqal, which he published after his impassioned defense of philosophy in Tahafut al-Tahafut [1] against the vigorous attack on it by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali in Tahafut al-Falasifa, [2] Ibn Rushd advocates the harmony between religion and philosophy in a dispassionate and conciliatory manner, aiming to allay the fears of the theologians who believed that philosophy leaves pernicious and injurious effects on religious people.[3] He maintains that philosophy and religion are milk sisters who are in need of each other's support in seeking the same truth.

Al-Kashf ‘an Manahij al-Adilla fi ‘Aqaid al-Milla or the Exposition of the Methods of Proof Concerning the Beliefs of the Community,[4] is a sequel to al-Fasl and the two constitute along with the Damima or Attachment Ibn Rushd’s trilogy. Al-Kashf remains unavailable in English and English readers know little about it. In it, Ibn Rushd takes on the sensitive issue of criticizing all schools of theology prevalent in his days. He does so in the name of reason, maintaining that any position or interpretation of Qur'anic verses that cannot withstand the scrutiny of reason is not worth holding; it is even dangerous to accept. Worse still, it is not worth imposing on the unsuspecting ordinary people by force, albeit in the name of God and the law. According to Ibn Rushd, the theologians or al-Mutakallimun have interpreted the Scripture in a way that gave them sway over the believers’ minds and lives. The Mutakallimun defined true belief and heresy, thereby setting the ground for defining the true Muslim and exercising a tremendous influence on the political life of the Muslim community. They monopolized the access to the true faith and ostracized "whoever disagrees with them as heretics and unbelievers whose blood and property are free for all".[5] This uncompromising stand was cause, in Ibn Rushd's view, of much of the bloodletting and infighting that befell the religious community. By criticizing the theologians' positions and challenging their monopoly in setting the religious, moral and political standards of the Muslim community, Ibn Rushd hopes to undercut their political influence and absolve the common people from the obligation to follow them. However, despite his best intentions and reassuring phrases in al-Kashf, Ibn Rushd's criticisms were bound to raise dust and led instead to undermining his own standing in the community. His books were publicly burnt, the teaching of his philosophy was banned throughout the realm of the Western Arab Caliphate and he himself was banished from his hometown in Cordova.[6]

Ibn Rushd identifies four schools, sects or groups in Muslim theology or ‘Ilm al-Kalam,[7] writing that "the most famous of these sects in our time are four: (1) The sect called the Ash'arite, which is believed by most people of our day to be the orthodox, (2) that which is called the Mu'atazilite, (3) the group which is known as the Batini[8] and (4) the one called the literalist."[9] He dismisses the literalists because they suspend altogether the role of reason and adhere blindly to the apparent meaning of religion; their "method of knowing the existence of God Almighty, is by way of report not reason."[10] According to Ibn Rushd, reason cannot be excluded from the methods of knowing God, because this is the most universal and common way open for mankind. All human beings are capable of knowing God through reason, and the Qur'an cites numerous arguments to this effect. However, if due to certain natural or physical impediments or misfortunes, some people could not understand the religious arguments, they would constitute a rare exception and "they would be required to believe in God by way of report."[11] The majority of people or al-Jumhur, however, are capable of reasoning and understanding rational arguments, provided such arguments are presented to them in simple and straightforward way. Once arguments become complicated and longwinded, only those schooled in logic and philosophy are able to follow them.

Ibn Rushd's criticisms of the positions of the Mu'tazilites and the Batinites or the Sufis will not be discussed in this paper, which focuses on his criticisms of the Ash'arites' position. Contrary to the Literalists, the Ash'arites have appealed to reason in defending our knowledge of God and Ibn Rushd lauds them for their rational perspective. But he faults them because "they were led to this position via arguments that are not the religious ones that God has drawn attention to and through which He called upon all men to believe in Him."[12] Nor are they demonstrable.

The Ash’arites maintain that the world is created and that it must "necessarily have a Maker who created it."[13] Ibn Rushd objects to them, because they cannot answer the mode of the existence of the Maker of the world whether He is eternal or created, yet they want to show that the world is created in time, whereas God is eternal.[14] They cannot maintain that God is created, because this would mean that He is in need of a creator, and this creator of another one, and the matter would continue ad infinitum. Nor can they maintain that God is eternal, because this would lead to an outcome opposite to the one advocated by the Ash’arites. If the Maker is eternal, then His actions must be eternal. Consequently, the world that is produced by an act of God must be eternal.

The Ash’arites, argues Ibn Rushd, would reject this outcome by trying to refine their position, claiming that God is eternal, but his actions are created by an eternal will. However, this maneuver would not help them, but rather entangles them in further difficulties from which they cannot extricate themselves. The Ash’arites’ view that God’s created actions result from an eternal will is untenable, because the relationship between the will and the actions is a conditional one. "The will is the pre-condition of the action, rather than the action itself."[15] Ibn Rushd argues that the will, which is actual, exists alongside the act that produces the object. The action and the will are two correlates. If "one of the two correlates existed in actuality, the other would have to exist in actuality as well, like father and son, but if one of them existed potentially, the other would also. Should the will that is actual be created, then the willed action must necessarily be created [in actuality]. Furthermore, should the will, which is actual, be eternal, then what is willed, which is equally actual, will be eternal."[16] The relation between the will and action is symmetrical and the attribute that describes one must describe the other. If the action is created, the will that produced it must be created and vice versa. By supposing the existence of an eternal will, the Ash'arites still would be unable to explain how the action can be created from an eternal pre-condition.

Furthermore, this supposition adds difficulties of its own. The eternal will must be related to what is created before and after its creation, that is, during the endless time when the product did not exist yet. From an Aristotelian perspective, when an object does not exist in actuality, it must exist in potentiality. Accordingly, what is created must have been non-existent during an infinite period of time before coming into existence. From this Ibn Rushd concludes that the will "cannot be related to what is willed at the time in which it necessitated its coming-to-be, except after a lapse of an endless time, and what has no end, does not cease. Thus, what is willed must not become actual, unless an endless time has elapsed, which is an evident absurdity."[17] The will precedes both the action and the willed object produced by it. However, when the action takes place, a specific active element is required to account for it. This active element, Ibn Rushd maintains, is an effort, ‘azm, that occurs in the will in order to produce the action. For, if such an extra state does not affect the willing agent at the time of action, the occurrence of the action at that time will remain inexplicable.[18] The Ash’arites, however, would not accept this implication, because it would introduce change to God and compromise His eternality.

The outcome of Ibn Rushd’s criticisms of the Ash’arites’ supposition that what is created necessarily requires an Agent is that it involves logical difficulties that not only the Ash’arite theologians cannot answer, but the craft of dialectics itself cannot resolve adequately. Having shown that the supposition that the world is necessarily created by God is untenable on the Ash'arites' premises, he argues that the ordinary people are not equipped to understand their reasoning, which is also furthest from the methods used by the Scripture. When, for example the Qur’an refers to God creating the world, it does not state whether He creates it with an eternal will or a created one. The Almighty says: ‘Indeed, when We want a thing to be, We just say to it: "Be", and it comes to be.’"[19] Religion approaches the understanding of the common people in a simple and straightforward way. It does not resort to complicated and abstruse arguments that they cannot understand.[20] Both the ordinary people in the Muslim community and the philosophers are justified in rejecting the Ash'arites' abstruse arguments for the existence of God.

As for their position regarding the creation of the world, the Ash’arites offered two main arguments. One very famous and is adopted by most Ash’arites, and the other special to Abu al-Ma’ali al Juwayni, al Ghazali’s illustrious teacher and the director of the Nizamiah school in Niasapur.[21] The first argument is based on three premises "which act like first principles from which they hoped to deduce the creation of the world. The first [premise] states that substances never exist apart from accidents, i.e., they never exist without them, the second states that accidents are created, and the third states that what cannot exist apart from accidents is created, i.e., what cannot exist without accidents is created."[22] Only the second premise of the Ash’arites’ argument for the creation of the world will be examined here, both because of its centrality in this argument and because Ibn Rushd’s objections to it might be used against his own view of our knowledge of God.[23]

The major difficulty with the second premise, which states that accidents are created, is that it makes an unwarranted inductive leap from the visible world of sense or experience to an unseen or unexperienced world. But the Ash’arites fail to appreciate the seriousness of this difficulty. When we confine our attention to the relations among objects in the visible world, it might be possible to make inferences from past experience to similar objects not experienced yet. But when such inferences are carried to a realm not known to be similar to the experienced one, then they do not carry the weight of necessity. Instead of proving directly that all bodies are created, the Ash’arites tried to establish first that all accidents are created, and then prove that all bodies that cannot exist without accidents are created, because of the creation of the accidents. But this does not help them because the difficulty of extending the inferential leap from the past to the future applies equally to accidents and substances. The difficulty revolves around the validity of the inductive inference carried from the visible world to the unseen or inexperienced world to begin with.

Ibn Rushd has dealt with induction and the nature of inductive inference elsewhere,[24] and he builds his view of induction on a well-established legacy that goes back to Ibn Sina, al-Farabi and Aristotle.[25] Like other Aristotelian philosophers, Ibn Rushd distinguishes between complete and incomplete induction. In the former, all the individuals on the basis of which an inference is made are enumerated,[26] but this is not the case with the latter. The inference in complete induction is deduced from the enumerated individuals, but the inference in incomplete induction is made to unexperienced cases in the future. However, such an inference could become deductive, like in complete induction, if one were to assume a principle of the uniformity of nature or in Ibn Rushd’s terminology, if the nature of the visible world were to be supposed equal to the nature of the unseen world.[27] But the Ash’arites cannot make such an assumption. They assumed that all accidents are created, when they should have assumed that all bodies are created. But on what basis could they make this assumption? Certainly not on the basis of the world of experience, because the heavenly body which is under consideration is not part of the world of experience. In fact, argues Ibn Rushd, with regard to this body it is equally doubtful whether it is created or its accidents are created "since neither its creation nor that of its accidents is sensed."[28] It is obvious, then, that the Ash’arites’ second premise fails to withstand Ibn Rushd’s assault. It is equally difficult to prove that all accidents are created or that all bodies are created, without assuming first a principle of the uniformity of nature. But if the Ash’arites were to venture and accept such a principle, they would undermine both their occasionalist view of causation[29] and their atomistic view of the world.

Ibn Rushd moves next to attack this premise frontally denying that all accidents are created. Take for example space and time.[30] He maintains that time is an accident, yet it is difficult to imagine it created. He argues that every created substance must be preceded by non-being in time, because one cannot understand the meaning of "preceding" except through time. The same applies to space. He argues that if every object exists in a place that precedes it, then it is difficult to imagine space created. One can define space as a void or the limit of the spacealized body. If it is the void, as maintained by those who believe in the void, then the present void must be preceded by another void, as a place for it, and this void by another one and the series goes on to infinity. But if it is assumed as the limit of the body that is in space, then this body needs a place to be in it, and this requires another body and the series continues to infinity as well. But all these are complications that are not addressed by the Ash’arites or resolvable by the art of dialectics, as Ibn Rushd sees it.

The second argument for the creation of the world that Ibn Rushd addresses is that of Abu al-Ma’ali. This argument is founded on two premises: one claiming the contingency of the world that "it is possible for the world, with all that is in it, to be other than what it is" and the other is the creation of what is contingent, that is, "what is contingent is created and has a Creator, i.e., an Agent who made it more susceptible of one of the two possibilities rather than the other."[31] Ibn Rushd marshals his objections against the first premise, hoping to reveal its weaknesses and thus undercut its conclusion. He admits that this premise holds much rhetorical appeal to the majority of people, despite its falsity, which appears from the fact that if it were possible for everything to be intrinsically other than it is, one would not know for sure what would happen in that world, nor would it be possible to say that it is the same world as the one we have For example, if the western wind became eastern and the eastern western or the stone moved upwards rather than downwards and fire downwards rather than upwards, our knowledge of the world would have to be different, and it would not be of the same world. Besides, the supposition that it is possible for everything to be in actuality other than it is, contends Ibn Rushd, would destroy the wisdom in the creation of the world, because it destroys altogether the notion of causality. "It negates wisdom, since wisdom is nothing over and above the knowledge of the causes of the thing. And if there be no necessary causes to the thing accounting for its existence, in the manner appropriate to that type of existence, then there is no knowledge here that distinguishes the wise Creator from any other."[32] Being a thorough Aristotelian, Ibn Rushd asks "what wisdom would there have been in man, if all his actions and activities were to result from any organ whatsoever, or even without any organ, such that seeing could result, for example, from the ear just as it results from the eye, and the smell from the eye exactly as it results from the nose? All this negates wisdom and destroys the meaning by means of which He called Himself wise."[33]

Ibn Rushd implies that Abu al-Ma’ali is committed to the Ash’ari occasionalist view of causality, according to which one is unable to predict the result of two causally connected events. For example when a cotton ball meets the fire or when the knife cuts the throat of a human being, we cannot assert or predict that the burning of the cotton will result or that the death of the person will occur necessarily.[34] Ibn Rushd considers this Ash’ari occasionalistic view of causation untenable and doubts whether it could be taken as a serious philosophical position.[35] Unlike the Ash’arites, he maintains that real knowledge consists in discovering the causes underlying a given process. Thus, by denying efficient causation, Abu al-Ma’ali has undermined his own rational approach. To Ibn Rushd, the irony with the Ash’arites’ position, including Abu al-Ma’ali’s, is that they appear rational verbally when in fact they avoid to pursue vigorously a sufficiently rational course of explanation. The end result is that they espouse positions on the creation of the world and our knowledge of God’s existence, based on assumptions that lead to the repudiation of reason, God’s prized gift to humanity. Accordingly, the Ash’arites’ methods for knowing God are not reliable and the common people should not follow them, because in following them they all go astray.

After examining the arguments of the four different theological groups regarding the creation of the world and our knowledge of God’s existence, Ibn Rushd concludes that those arguments are very far from being conclusive and authoritative for legitimizing their doctrinal hegemony over the common people and setting the grounds for orthodoxy. To set the record straight, he proceeds to offer his own arguments for the creation of the world and our knowledge of God’s existence. According to him, our knowledge of the world leads us to know the existence of God. The arguments that convince people of God’s existence are universal and simple and are two in number: the argument from design or providence (Dalil al-'Inaya) and the argument from invention or creation (Dalil al-Ikhtira').[36] The argument from design states that everything exists for a purpose, while the argument from invention states that things are invented or created, like the invention of life from matter. In defending the first argument, Ibn Rushd points to two principles: one stating that all things or existing beings are conducive to man's existence and the other that this "conduciveness is necessarily predicated on an Agent intending and willing it [Fa’ilun qasid wa murid], because it is not possible that this conduciveness results from coincidence."[37] Ibn Rushd cites many examples to prove that what exists is conducive to man's existence beginning with the cycles of nature to the presence of natural phenomena and animal and plant species necessary for man’s well-being. The argument from invention is based on the observation of life issuing from material bodies and leading us to "know for certain that there is here a producer of life and a provider of it and that is God the Almighty."[38]

According to Ibn Rushd, philosophers and common people alike arrive at the knowledge of God through these two arguments. "The difference between the two ways lies in the details, that is, the common people know of the design and invention of what can be known through primitive knowledge that is based on sense perception. But the scientists go further to know what can be perceived rationally on the basis of proofs ... and the scientists do not reveal a greater understanding of these two arguments except in the manner of greater detail and more depth in the knowledge of the selfsame thing."[39] The philosophers and the common people alike, then, know of God's existence through the created beings, but the knowledge of the philosophers is more sophisticated and complex, and the full extent of it remains beyond the comprehension of the ordinary people.

However, there are some philosophers who do not believe in the existence of God and dismiss any form of argument that purports to prove the existence of God. Ibn Rushd concedes that some pre-socratic naturalists, who are known in Arab philosophy as al-Dahriyun, did not believe in God and they would reject his two arguments for the existence of God. However, this concession does not undermine the validity of these arguments because he did not claim that they constitute a demonstrative proof for the existence of God. The arguments from invention and design do not lead us to necessarily infer the existence of God from the creation of the world. Given his view of human beings and their rational capacities as thinking beings and the limitations of inductive inference, Ibn Rushd believes that it is not unreasonable to infer from the existence of design and invention in the world the existence of an Inventor or Creator for it who is God. Ibn Rushd maintains that this is the utmost that we, as thinking beings, can reach. This line of argument is not demonstrable in the sense that it is logically necessary, but it is based on the knowledge of ourselves as rational beings and the principles of induction that we employ in knowing the world.

Ibn Rushd offers a rationale for his position. He accepts the existence of two worlds: the world of nature or sense, which is based on experience and is finite, and the unseen world, which is infinite and is unlike anything we know, it is sui generis.[40] Any proof that can be offered regarding the latter world, based on the knowledge of the former, ought to be accepted guardedly: that is, those who accept the existence of God as Artisan, Creator or Originator of the world cannot do so with deductive certainty. Accordingly, we ought to be tolerant of those who, on philosophical grounds, disagree with us, since the proofs that apply to this world do not necessarily apply to the other.[41] Given this position, Ibn Rushd denies the naturalists' conclusion that attributes design in the world of sense to coincidence, arguing that, based on our knowledge, as rational beings, experience justifies us in attributing the design we find in it to God. He writes: "if a person were to see a stone somewhere on earth and find it conducive to being sat on, in a certain position, and of a certain size too, he would realize that this [stone] must have been made in such a form and size by a maker who put it in that place. But when [that person] does not see it conducive to being sat upon, he would realize that its being in that place with a certain quality is due to coincidence and would not attribute a maker to it."[42]

According to Ibn Rushd, the world constitutes an organic unity and the organization of its parts and details could not have resulted from coincidence, but rather from an intentional Agent or Artisan, who is God. Ibn Rushd buttresses his position by adding a principle of corruptibility, namely, that if any basic part were missing from this organic whole, life on earth would be seriously affected or jeopardized, the earth itself might even be destroyed altogether. For example, if the sun were closer to, or farther away from the earth than it actually is, then life would not be possible. So, since the world is an organic whole which is conducive to human life and since any substantial change in its organic constitution might lead to the corruption or destruction of the whole, then the world does not result from coincidence but from an intending and willing Agent.

The lessons that we learn from Ibn Rushd’s criticisms of the theologians' arguments for the existence of God are numerous. Most importantly, philosophers need not shy away from conducting a critical examination of the theologians’ positions in the interests of truth and harmony in the community. This dictum is particularly telling in our own days where the revival of fundamentalist discourse is acquiring a hegemonic bent. However, one should not take Ibn Rushd’s answers as final, because the issues he dealt with cannot be easily settled. For example, he gives the impression that al-Ghazali’s Ash’ari position on causation is untenable, when his arguments against it do not demonstrate its falsity. Hume's and Popper's discussions of causality show that no position on causality is final and the debate around it is continuous. However, Ibn Rushd's principle of tolerance has become an established fact in modern discourse without which neither modern science nor modern civilization can survive.

In this paper, I presented the thesis that Ibn Rushd criticized the theologians’ arguments for the existence of God in order to expose the logical defects involved in such arguments and deprive the theologians from the theoretical and religious justifications for their political influence in the Muslim community. I dealt first with Ibn Rushd’s objections to the Ash’arites’ supposition that the world necessarily needs a Maker, on the ground that the Ash’arites would be unable to say whether God is eternal or created. The supposition that God is created leads to an infinite regress, while the supposition that God is eternal leads to the view that God’s actions are eternal. To counter this objection, the Ash’arites made a distinction between God’s actions and God’s will, maintaining that the former are created, but the latter is eternal. However, this distinction fails to get the Ash’arites out of their predicament because the will is the necessary pre-condition of the action, and the two are correlates. If one is eternal, the other must be eternal and vice versa.

Second, I discussed the two arguments offered by the Ash’arites to support their view that the world is created: one argument followed by the majority of the Ash’arites and the other by Abu al-Ma'ali. The former is based on three premises: that substances do not exist without accidents, that accidents are created, and that what cannot exist without accidents is created. I discussed only the second premise the difficulty with which is that it makes an unwarranted inductive leap from the world of experience or the visible world to the unseen world that we cannot experience. Furthermore, the assertion that all accidents are created is not self evident, because both space and time are accidents, yet one cannot imagine them to be other than eternal. Abu Al Ma'ali’s argument asserts that the world is created because everything in it is contingent and may be other than what it is. Ibn Rushd denies this assertion on the ground that when something changes, it no longer remains the same thing, and when the world changes, it no longer remains the same world. Moreover, according to Ibn Rushd, existing things in the world are interconnected and are related to each other by causal laws. The argument from contingency denies causal necessity, and whoever denies causality denies the wisdom in the creation and the Creator.

Third, I discussed Ibn Rushd’s two arguments for the existence of God, namely, Dalil al-‘Inaya or argument from design and Dalil al-Ikhtira’ or argument from invention. The common people and philosophers can understand these arguments and believe in God, even though the knowledge of the latter is more complete in matters of scientific details and logical complexity. Fourth, I dealt with an objection that might be raised against Ibn Rushd's concession that his two arguments for the existence of God do not prove demonstrably the existence of God. I argued that this concession does not undermine his position, but it reveals the limits of human rationality. The validity of his two arguments are based on human rationality and the principle of corruptibility that implies that any substantial change in the organic unity of the universe is likely to disrupt life as we know it. Fifth, I drew some lessons from Ibn Rushd’s venture to criticize the theologians' arguments for the existence of God. Ibn Rushd’s answers are not final and do not constitute the last word on the subject. The appealing audacity of Ibn Rushd lies in the fact that he made such a venture in the name of reason and remained committed to the highest standards of rational discourse in discussing some of the most sensitive issues that faced the Muslim community.

Ibrahim Najjar
University of Sharjah
May 2001


FOOTNOTES

  1. Tahafut Al-Tahafut (the Incoherence of the Incoherence). Translated with introduction and notes by Simon Von Den Bergh. Oxford: Messrs. Luzac & Co., 1954.

  2. Al-Ghazali, Tahafut al-Falasifa, Edited by Sulayman Dunya. Cairo: Dar al-Ma’arif Bi-Masr, 1955.

  3. See Averroes, On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy. A translation with introduction and notes of Ibn Rushd’s Kitab fasl al-maqal, with its appendix (Damima) and an extraction from Kitab al-kashf an manahij al-adilla, by George Hourani. Printed for the Trustees of the "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial". London: Messrs. Luzac & Co., 1961. Hourani gives an alternative translation to the Arabic title on page 44: "The Decisive Treatise, Determining the Nature of the Connection Between Religion and Philosophy." See footnote 1, p. 83.

  4. Ibn Rushd. Manahij al-Adilla fi Aqaid al-Milla. Edited with an Introduction by Mahmud Qasim. (Cairo: Maktabat al-Anglo-Misriyya, 1964), p. 133. Henceforth Al-Kashf and all translations here are mine.

  5. Al-Kashf, p. 133.

  6. Majid Fakhry. Ibn Rushd: Faylasufu Qurtuba [The Philosopher of Cordoba]. (Beirut: Dar al-Mashriq, 1982). P. 10. See also Farah Antun’s book: Ibn Rushd wa Falsafatuhu. (Beirut: Dar al-Tali’a, 1981), p. 222.

  7. See al-Ghazali’s concise discussion of ‘Ilm al-Kalam or the science of Kalam in Deliverance from Error (al-Munqidh min al-Dalal, translated by Richard McCarthy, S.J. as Freedom and Fulfillment. Boston: Twayne, 1980, section 21. The Muslim theologians who are engaged in this practice are called Mutakallimun, and sometimes they are referred to as dialecticians or dialectic theologians.

  8. Ibn Rushd identifies the Batinis with the sufis, while Al-Ghazali identifies the Batinis with the Ta’limites or the Servile Conformists who believe in an infallible Imam or teacher. See Al-Gahzali’s Deliverance from Error, sections: 20, 61-80. Majid Fakhry takes al-Ghazali to be referring to the esoteric Ism’ilis who believed in an infallible Iman or teacher. See Fakhry, History of Western Philosophy, p. 220.

  9. Ibn Rushd. Al-Kashf. P. 133.

  10. Ibid., P. 133. Ibn Rushd uses the word al-Sama’, which may be translated as "by hearing" or "report", where one relies on the authority of a transmitted position rather than on the rational justification of it.

  11. Ibn Rushd. Al-Kashf. P. 135.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid. Fa’ilun Muhdith.

  14. Al-Kashf, p. 135.

  15. Ibid.

  16. Ibid.

  17. Ibid., p. 137.

  18. Ibid.

  19. Ibid. p. 138. The Qur’an: A Modern English Version. Translated by Majid Fakhry. (London: Garnet, 1997), 16, 40.

  20. Ibid., p. 148.

  21. Abu al-Ma’ali al Juwayni (1028-85), Ash’arite theologian, known as Imam al-Haramayn. He taught al-Ghazali at Nishapur.

  22. Ibid., p. 148.

  23. The main objection to the first premise of the Ash’arites argument for the creation of the world is that its truth is confined to objects in the world of experience. It becomes doubtful when it is carried to the indivisible atoms that the Ash’arites posit.

  24. See Ibn Rushd, Talkhis Mantiq Aristu, volume I: al-Qiyas. (Beirut: Lebanese University Press, 1982), p. 352. Also, Averroes’ Three Short Commentaries on Aristotle’s "Topics," "Rhetoric," and "Poetics", edited and translated by Charles E. Butterworth. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1977), p. 49.

  25. Ibrahim Najjar "A new perspective on Ibn Rushd’s View of Induction". A paper presented at MESA ’98 in San Francisco and currently under review for publication.

  26. Aristotle gives an illustration that has become proverbial: "Man, the horse, the mule (c) are long-lived (A). Man, the horse, the mule (c) are gall-less (B). Therefore, (if B is no wider than C) all gall-less animals (B) must be long-lived (A)." Sir David Ross, Aristotle. (London: Methuen & Co., 1968), p. 38.

  27. Ibn Rushd, Al-Kashf, p. 141. "after asserting the equality of the natures of both the seen and the unseen."

  28. Al-Kashf, p. 140.

  29. The direction that Ibn Rushd’s assault on the Ash’arites view of induction takes anticipates Hume and Popper, but this point cannot be elaborated here. The reader is referred to my paper on Ibn Rushd’ view of induction, cited above.

  30. One should remember that Ibn Rushd’s views of space and time were Aristotelian and not Einstinian.

  31. Ibid., p. 144. I have benefited greatly from the insightful work of William Lane Craig The Kalam Cosmological Argument,(New York: Barnes & Noble, 1979), on the Ash’arites’ and al-Ghazali’s views on causation from work by Richard M. Frank especially his monograph, Creation and the Cosmic System: al-Ghazali and Avicenna, (Heidelberg: Winter 1992), and from Michael Marmura’s review of it "Ghazalian Causes and Intermediaries" in Journal of the American Oriental Society, 115 (1995), 89-100.

  32. Ibid., p. 145.

  33. Ibid.

  34. See al-Ghazali, Tahafut al-Falasifa, Edited by Sulayman Dunya, (Cairo: Dar al-Ma’arif Bi-Masr, 1955), p. 225. Mi’yar al Ilm, (Beirut: Dar a-Andalus, 1978) p. 139. Ibn Rushd, Tahafut al-Tahafut, translated by Van Den Bergh, p. 316. Also Majid Fakhry, Islamic Occasionalism and its Critique by Averoes and Aquinas. (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1958), particularly chapter two.

  35. Oddly enough one finds al-Ghazali in Mi’yar al Ilm, p. 140 abandoning his earlier occasionalist view of causation on the same grounds, but very few scholars have noticed this change in al-Ghazali’s position, including Ibn Rushd himself.

  36. I follow Fakhry’s translation of this argument. See his History of Islamic Philosophy, p. 281. Some may find this translation too literal, but it seems to preserve as well Ibn Rushd’s meaning, which involves the bringing forth of something out of something else, say, life out of dead matter.

  37. Ibid., p. 150.

  38. Ibid., p. 151.

  39. Ibid., p. 155.

  40. Ibid., p. 204.

  41. Notice that this philosophical principle of tolerance is more general than the principle of religious toleration. Although Ibn Rushd personally favors Islam and thinks that it is the best among religions, he feels that others may not agree with his assessment. Religion is a food necessary for the nourishment of people, even some may not be nourished by it. Al-Kashf, p. 220. However, it would be interesting to investigate how consistent he was in applying his principles. See Tahafut al-Tahafut, ed. Bouyges, p. 527, 1. 11 and Fasl al-Maqal, sections 17 and 18.

  42. Ibid., p. 194.

     
 
 
 
 


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Last revised on 18 June, 2009