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Three spiritual and intellectual leaders who lived from the 10th to 13th century, Ibn Sina, a philosopher, Al-Ghazali, a scholar and mystic, and Ibn Taymiyya,

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Presentation on theme: "Three spiritual and intellectual leaders who lived from the 10th to 13th century, Ibn Sina, a philosopher, Al-Ghazali, a scholar and mystic, and Ibn Taymiyya,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Three spiritual and intellectual leaders who lived from the 10th to 13th century, Ibn Sina, a philosopher, Al-Ghazali, a scholar and mystic, and Ibn Taymiyya, a reformer.

2  Ibn Sina: Vision of the Cosmos  Al-Ghazali: Quest for certainty  Ibn Taymiyya: True obedience to God

3 IBN SINA: outline of his theory Essence (what-ness) / Existence (that-ness, found-ness) Existence of anything may be:  Impossible: Self-contradictory, e.g. round square  Possible (contingent): may exist or may not, most things, e.g. houses, unicorns  Necessary: cannot not exist, existence is part of essence, must be one, must be source of everything

4 Diagram of the Cosmos

5 Necessary Existent produces 1st intelligence by its activity of thinking 1st intelligence  produces 2nd intelligence by reflecting on N.E.  produces soul of 1st sphere by reflecting on itself as necessary (because N.E. and its activity of thinking are necessary)  produces body of 1st sphere by reflecting on itself as contingent (dependent on N.E.) 2nd intelligence produces 3rd intelligence, and soul and body of second sphere in the same ways  and so on to 9th intelligence.


7 Necessary Existent = God First intelligenceSoul of 1 st sphereBody of 1 st sphereSphere of spheres 2 nd intelligenceSoul of 2 nd sphereBody of 2 nd sphereFixed stars 3 rd intelligenceSoul of 3 rd sphereBody of 3 rd sphereSaturn 4 th intelligenceSoul of 4 th sphereBody of 4 th sphereJupiter 5 th intelligenceSoul of 5 th sphereBody of 5 th sphereMars 6 th intelligenceSoul of 6 th sphereBody of 6 th sphereSun 7 th intelligenceSoul of 7 th sphereBody of 7 th sphereVenus 8 th intelligenceSoul of 8 th sphereBody of 8 th sphereMercury 9 th intelligenceSoul of 9 th sphereBody of 9 th sphereMoon 10 th intelligence = Active intellect = Gabriel Sublunar world (earth) of change: intellect(s), soul(s), bod(ies)

8 Above the sphere of the moon: indestructible, harmonious: the “music of the spheres Below the sphere of the moon: change, decay, discord Ptolmaic universe has been compared to a golden apple, rotten at the core.  We live in the core  How to get out, transcend our situation?

9 Ibn Sina’s Sublunar World: Biology/Psychology Active Intellect (=10th intelligence)  Too far from the source of being to produce just one intellect, soul, body  Produces: Prime matter (hule, huyula)  Evolves into 4 elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire  Produces soul(s): depending on the balance of the elements these become:  Mineral spirit – for minerals  Vegetative soul – for plants  Animal soul – for animals  Produces Rational soul or intellect for humans  Intellect can come into contact with the higher intellects

10 Ibn Sina’s Biology/Psycology  Vegetative Soul  Nutritive faculty  Faculty of growth  Reproductive faculty  Animal Soul  Faculty of motion Faculty of desire, Lust (libido) Anger Faculty of locomotion  Cognitive faculty Exterior senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. Internal senses Common sense, Representative, depicting Imagination (depicting what is not present) Apprehension (recognizing potential good or harm) Memory (retention)

11 Ibn Sina’s Psycology and Spiritual Faculties Rational (Human) Soul  Practical Intelligence: crafts, ethics  Theoretical Intelligence  Material intelligence (potential) [niche]  Intelligence in habitu (actual at first level)[glass]  Intelligence in actu (more fully developed) [lamp]  Acquired intelligence (direct vision from AI)[light upon light] - discursive[olive tree] intuition [whose oil would almost glow...] The words in brackets refer to Ibn Sina’s interpretation of Qur’an 24:35

12 The highest goal of the human soul is, through development of the intellect, to come into "conjunction" with the Active Intellect and become a replica of the intelligible world, thus achieving the perfection proper to it as a citizen of that world. Most people can receive intellectual knowledge from the Active Intellect only after exercising themselves on the data of perception (e.g. polishing a mirror). A prophet’s intellect is such that he does not need external instruction but has direct contact with the Active Intellect and intuits everything at a stroke. The Active Intelligence deposits the forms of all things, past, present and future in his soul.

13 Al-Ghazali’s Quest for Certainty  Al-Munqidh min al- Ḍ alāl (That which delivers from error), a “structured” autobiography

14 Shattering the glass of taqlīd  No longer accept cultural views uncritically  Aware of different doctrines and religions  Intellectual crisis  Seeks certain knowledge such that “no doubt clings to it and no possibility of error or deception accompanies it”.

15  Reason and observation show that sense perception may lead one astray (e.g. sun seems small but reason shows it to be large)  Perhaps something else will show the reason can lead one astray  Perhaps this is the “state” Sufis claim.  God re-establishes al-Ghazali’s faith in necessary truths of reason

16 Categories of Seekers after Truth  Theologians (mutakallimūn)  Isma‘ilis (bā ṭ inīs)  Philosophers  Sufis

17 Theologians  Do not go back to first principles; usually argue from opponents premises  Good for those whose need goes only so far as refuting certain errors  Dangerous for those not concerned with these errors (most people)  Not adequate for al-Ghazali

18 Philosophers  Claim to build their position from first principles  Parts of philosophy are valid: mathematics, logic, physical sciences  Politics and ethics are borrowed from prophets, Sufis and others  In metaphysics/theology they often err: most seriously  no resurrection of the body  God does not know particulars  Universe is eternal  Danger of Philosophy: The errors of the philosophers may lead some to reject what is true and the truths of philosophers may lead some to accept what is false.

19 Isma‘ilis  There is a need for an infallible instructor  The imām claimed by Isma‘ilis is not adequate  Has not ended disputes  Is not usually available  The true imām is Muhammad  Gives certainty on basics  Ijtihād for other things

20 Sufis  Must practice, have their experience (dhawq, “taste”) By now, firm belief in God, prophets, last day. Moral Crisis – Breakdown  His present life is attached to worldly fame  Cannot bring himself to abandon it  Breakdown  Leaves Baghdad  Engages in ascetic and spiritual practices, occasionally experiences ecstasy

21 Sufi path  Sufis achieve nearness to God, visions, fanā’, not union  Highest Sufi experiences are at the beginning of prophecy  Lesser experiences provide analogy to prophecy  Those who accompany the Sufis may gain certainty from their experiences  Dreams are also analogous to prophecy  In these ways one can by convinced of the existence and nature of prophecy  Prophecy is the stage beyond intellect  Once one knows what prophecy is, one can be convinced that Muhammad is in the level of prophets

22 Does he achieve the certainty he sought?  Sought certain knowledge such that “no doubt clings to it and no possibility of error or deception accompanies it”.  One experiences a sample of prophecy in the first stages of the Sufi path and by it attains a kind of direct experience commensurate with his progress, and by analogy with this he arrives at a belief in what he has not yet experienced. This is enough for faith in the principle of prophecy. [Seems to be al- Ghazali’s situation.]

23 Esoteric al-Ghazali? In the Ihyā ‘Ulūm al-Dīn He speaks of the “science of mystical revelation” (‘Ilm al-mukāshafa), which is not committed to writing. Mishkāt al-Anwār (Niche for Lights)  cosmology and psychology is very similar to that of Ibn Sina  after arguing that the apparent union of the mystic with God is not real, he says that beyond this are mysteries of which we may not speak

24 Mizan al-‘Amal (Balance scale of action): Mentions three views on future life: 1) ordinary believers accept future life in physical sense taking the images of the Qur'an literally. 2) Philosophers deny real physical pleasures but accept that they happen in imagination, but the subjective experience is as strong and the external reality is not necessary. 3) Sufis and more recent philosophers deny even the imaginative physical experience; the real pleasures are much higher, but are symbolized by physical pleasures for the masses. It is ignoble to serve God to gain Paradise or avoid Hell, and those whose goal is truly God seek something higher.

25 Ibn Taymiyya Concerned for a strict but flexible obedience to Qur’an and Sunna  Particularly concerned about bid‘a  Ijmā‘ might not be relevant to later circumstances  Ijtihād necessary, go back to the sources The goal is obedience to God, not knowledge:  “Abu Hamid [al-Ghazali]... teaches that the goal of all action is only knowledge, which is also the essence of the philosophers' teaching... [this] is worse than the beliefs of the idolatrous Arabs, let alone of Jews and Christians.”

26 Theological Points  Attributes of God  Literalist? Reported to say, “God descends to the sky over our world just as I am descending”, as he stepped down one step of the minbar.  Affirm attributes without tashbīh (making them like human attributes) or ta‘ ṭ īl (emptying them of content)  Qadar  Should help one bear up under hardship  Should not excuse sin or tyranny

27 Government:  Siyāsa shar‘iyya (government according to the Sharī‘a  Fatwa against Mongols for not following Sharī‘a  Advice to his own rulers, sometimes followed, sometimes got him in trouble

28 Sufism:  Initiated into the Qadiri ṭ arīqa  Ilhām sometimes acceptable as a subordinate guide to ijtihād  True fanā’ is identification of one’s will with God’s will  Rejected wa ḥ dat al-wujūd  Ultimately destroys the distinction between right and wrong  Criticized veneration of Sufi saints and relics, visitation of tombs, dramatic actions such as glass-eating, firewalking  Denied Husayn’s head is in Cairo  Destroyed a relic attributed to the Prophet

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