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Science and the occult in the thinking of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya.

I. INTRODUCTION IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY, A POPULAR BELIEF in the occult was seen by some to endanger the religious basis of Islamic society. During the previous centuries, especially the tenth and eleventh, the great challenge to the Sunni umma had been Ismaili gnosticism and political revolution. The intellectual reaction to this had come with al-Ghazzali (d. 1111 A.D.) whose literary output reinvigorated the community. A century and a half later, Ismaili political extremism came to an end with the Mongol invasion and destruction of the Nizari mountain fortress at Alamut. The internal challenge of occultism, arising from the ashes of the old, as it were, was seen to be as dangerous to society, as intellectually corruptive and religiously perverse, as had been Ismaili Pythagorean gnosticism in its day. Though it carried with it no armies or secret societies plotting the political demise of Sunni Islam, the new threat did bring along with it a cosmic system that was understood by at least one leading defender of Sunni religious purity to be anathema to the absolute power and unity of God that was the bedrock of Sunni theology. This was the Hanbali jurist and theologian Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, who, inspired by his famous teacher and fellow Hanbali Ibn Taymiyya, devoted himself to the cause of Sunni purity and tradition by waging a life-long war against innovation and religious deviation.(1) Ibn al-Qayyim's attack against what he saw as the invidious popularity of this threat to religion and civilization is found in his book, Miftah Dar al-Saada, a large section of which is devoted to disproving the occult sciences.(2) It is a sharp and comprehensive attack, with arguments taken from every quarter, including even the mathematics, astronomy, physics and logic that his forerunner al-Ghazzali had warned Muslims to shun (though not to reject out-of-hand as that would make of Islam a religion of ignorance), lest their faith be seduced and corrupted by their belief in naturalist scientists, mathematicians, and astronomers whose logical proofs and mathematical precision could be snares for the uncritical and half educated.(3) The occult, or rather a large part of it, had in al-Ghazzali's day been temperately couched in the systemic restraints of an esoteric Ismaili cosmology that made of the universe a macrocosmic being in which the great heavens and microcosmic man on earth found sympathetic resonance as one. Man and the cosmos, science and religion, the physical world and the spiritual were paradigmatically one, as, for example, in alchemy where transmutation from base metal to pure gold stood as a metaphor of purifying the soul to reach higher states of consciousness. This theosophical integration of mathematics, natural philosophy and gnostic speculation appealed to an intellectual elite eager to see manifestations of the unifying principle wherever they looked in the universe, as put forth in the popular treatises of the Ikhwan al-Safa, or Brethren of Purity. When the theosophical restraints imposed by Ismaili cosmologists upon the relationships binding man, soul, astral bodies, number, physical and spiritual transmutation, and the like became a thing of the past with the movement itself, the occult sciences--always practiced in Islamic society to one degree or another as part of its Hellenistic legacy--grew over the centuries. The occult sciences eventually took the place in public notice that the treatises of the Ikhwan had earlier enjoyed, and subsequently turned the old threat to religious purity, the ulum al-awail or sciences of the Greeks, as science and philosophy were called, into an ally in the defense of religion. Ibn al-Qayyim's reliance on arguments drawn from the exact sciences and natural philosophy, curious defenses considering the theological conceptions of the Hanbali traditionist, is a measure of how threatening he perceived the popularity of the occult sciences to be. Curious, because the metaphysical principles of natural philosophy that gave unity to the branches of philosophy--cause and effect, causal chains determining effects over and above God's power to change at will the customary modes of nature's operations, and, unavoidably, the conundrum of free will from below versus determinism from above that came on the coattails of causality--would appear to compromise God's absolute power and eternally predetermined will. Here Ibn al-Qayyim argued as tortuously as had St. Augustine and Ibn Rushd before him, Dante around his time and Erasmus after, each writer working both ends of an implicit contradiction toward the middle that could be reconciled only upon the bedrock of unquestioning faith. In taking up the defense of religion against the expanding incursions of the occult, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya became one of the most forceful and persuasive spokesmen to wield the pen in service of religious and scientific purity. In a reversal of the Islamic rationalist tradition informed by the Hanbali jurist's great Muslim predecessors, al-Kindi (d. 890), al-Farabi (d. 950), Ibn Sina (d. 1038), Ibn Tufayl (d. 1185) and Ibn Rushd (d. 1198), who had all defended philosophy and the non-Arab sciences by referring to scripture, Ibn al-Qayyim employed science to defend a religion cleansed of alien accretions, and in arguing his case incidentally defended a purified rational science and logic free of transmutational alchemy, astrology and augury that he saw as having displaced true science. The creative period in Islamic science extended into Ibn al-Qayyim's time and beyond. But the position of the great scientists of earlier centuries in Islamdom, back when royal patronage of an Abbasid, Samanid, or Fatimid court offered generous support to science, had in Mamluk-ruled Arabic-speaking lands given way to practitioners of the occult; patronage of the philosophical and exact sciences was not an outstanding feature in the courtly culture of the Burji or Bahri sultans, and men pursuing the scientific tradition were then forced to make a living as best they could. Casting horoscopes was an attractive option. Even in the brightest years of scientific creativity many of the greatest astronomers in Islamdom had given some support to astrology in that they believed the formation of heavenly bodies influenced the formation of elemental traits shaping human character. With the general public offering a market of buyers ready to pay for and believe almost anything that was well dressed in logical structure and scientific jargon, and that offered the hope of gain or security in a tumultuous period, the occult prospered. This Ibn al-Qayyim strove to redress as the most pernicious enemy of true religion. Born in Mamluk Damascus in 1292, Ibn al-Qayyim spoke for the literate Arabic-reading Sunni umma at a time when Islamdom was emerging from or undergoing a series of threatening blows--the Crusades, the Mongol destruction of Baghdad and the Abbasid Caliphate, Mamluk political turmoil that was concomitant with the continuing loss of international transport trade to the Venetians, inflationary periods during which Syrians and Egyptians were reported to have eaten dogs and donkeys in the streets, periodic visitations of the Black Plague when people dropped like flies, and a terrifying earthquake that so shook Mt. Muqattam in Cairo that the people in distant Damascus thought that yawm al-qiyama, Judgment Day, had come.(4) To this could be added the continuing loss of Islamic lands to the Spanish conquistadors, an unmitigated catastrophe for Ibn Khaldun, writing less than a generation after Ibn al-Qayyim. These disasters formed in large part the psychological background to the perceived general malaise besetting Islam in the fourteenth century. As in later Hellenistic times, and perhaps our own, people facing political and economic decline, social insecurity and a threatening host of impending disasters found refuge in the occult. The ulema, with Ibn al-Qayyim taking a leading position, saw the occultic sciences as so many pantheistic demons eating away at Islam's spiritual innards, where God's undivided omnipotence was parceled out to stars and birds, and elemental nature was charged with a transmutational potency that appeared to be self-sustained. Far from being a radical Hanbali fundamentalist, Ibn al-Qayyim was a jurist and theologian who possessed a competent knowledge of science and philosophy, in addition to an inclination toward mysticism.(5) In this, too, his career as defender of Sunni purity against an inner threat of intellectual perversion parallels that of al-Ghazzali's. What follows is an analytical review of the Hanbali theologian's arguments against that perversion as expressed in his Miftah Dar al-Sa ada.(6) II. ASTROLOGY AND SOOTHSAYING Most offensive to religion was the claim astrologers and augurers made in regard to their ability to foresee events. As Ibn al-Qayyim saw it, the occultists were laying claim to God's omniscience. Astrologers were the main culprits. They presumed to constrain human and physical nature to act in accordance with the prescriptions of their science, which implicitly claimed an ordered cosmic system governing, or at least influencing, the human level of action.(7) Human events, being patterned on heavenly constructions, were to the trained astrologers as predictable as planetary positions. A man of true religion must accept that only God knows the future. Hence, for all its logical structures, complex mathematical models and intricate meshing of human character and stellar graphics, astrology is but a flawed art riven with contradiction and inconsistency, an art devoid of demonstrable principles whether empirical or intuitive, a path to error and disbelief: "A science is true when it has supporting proofs based ultimately on sense experience and constraints imposed by the rational mind. Astrology is based on nothing but ignorance, conjecture and opinion. It has nothing of truth. Its practitioners merely follow a tradition absent of all proof and verification."(8) From the many examples of gullibility he adduces to discredit astrology, he has in mind the more naive, simplistic forms of the art. Two contestants asking two astrologers at the same time and place to cast horoscopes predicting which of the two will win, Ibn al-Qayyim claims, would produce identical horoscopes for each contestant, making both of them at once either winners or losers, an absurdity. He does imply, though, that it is not quite all that simple, for there are various kinds of horoscopes that could be used to determine the outcome of such an event. He discusses four: the horoscope of birth (tali al-asl), time (tali al-waqt), change (tali al-tahwil), and the ascending zodiacal sign (tali burj al-intiha).(9) The horoscope of time, that is, the horoscope made for the moment of the event (occuring at a certain time and place), would have to be supplemented by other horoscopes, quite complicating the affair. Aware that this example has far from demolished the supporting foundations of astrology, he then produces others drawn from famous episodes in history to demonstrate the contradictory nature of the art that would presume to forecast history. The caliph Ali, warned by astrologers before the battle of Siffin that he would be defeated because the moon was in Scorpio, put his trust in God rather than the stars and was victorious, though he later succumbed to trickery and treachery.(10) Thirty years later, the rebel Mukhtar (d. 687) was warned by his astrologers that the horoscope predicted defeat if his 7,000 troops fought Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad's 80,000, but again the stars proved wrong when Mukhtar's general defeated Ibn Ziyad at Nisibin. The caliph Muktafi (902-8), having been repeatedly defeated by the Qarmatians and the remnants of his empire about to vanish, was warned by the court astrologers that if he launched another campaign he would be defeated and his dynasty terminated; but this too was proved wrong, as had been the horoscope cast by Mansur's astrologers at the founding of Baghdad that claimed no caliph would die in the new city, which held true until Mamun (813-33) killed Amin (809-13) in it. The caliphs Wathiq (842-47), Mutawakkil (813-61), Mutadid (892-902), Muktafi and Nasir (d. 1225), also died in it.(11) Furthermore, Fatimid astrologers advised Jawhar to lay the foundations of the capital city in newly conquered Egypt on the day the star al-Qahira ascended, a day deemed to be highly propitious and a sign that the dynasty would last forever, the only change being that Arabic would give way to Persian as the official language of Egypt, and then the two languages would alternate in periods of ascendancy. Again the astrologers were seen to be liars.(12) The caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah's (d. 1021) madness was owing to the lying deceit and chicanery of Fatimid court astrologers, especially one named Fikri who seized control of the superstitious caliph's mind and had him act in an aimless, fickle, and contradictory way. It was under Fikri's control that al-Hakim meaninglessly changed the laws from day to day, but in the end al-Hakim turned against him and had Fikri executed.(13) The examples go on, as though each one would convey astrology deeper into oblivion. As for its practitioners, "their hands should be severed from their arms and their lying tongues torn by the roots from their mouths to keep them from trading on the gullibility of the umma." Strong words indeed. Judging by Ibn al-Qayyim's examples, it would seem the rulers were dependent more on astrologers than on the ulema in their search for divine support. This was nothing new. Since Umayyad times astrologers had a place in the ruling courts of Muslim dynasts. Ibn al-Qayyim's rage would appear to be directed more to the growing influence of astrology on social levels below the ruling one. Astrology was winning the hearts and minds of the umma whose religious propriety was traditionally formed and guarded by the ulema. The ulema were being upstaged by charlatans, kafirs who presumed to know God's will from the starry heavens rather than from Qur an, hadith and the moral standard of Islam as expressed through the centuries in human example and pious literary works. Men learned in religion had safeguarded the umma from the twin-headed serpent of deviation and innovation. Astrologers with their stars were intruding into the sacred realm of prophecy, and by extension, the sphere of human activity wherein should predominate the authority of the ulema. Astrologers were in truth presuming prophethood for themselves by claiming to interpret the stars as governing or influencing human affairs, taking no account of God's will as the one and only direct and immediate cause of all events human and natural. They were false prophets, readers of a false scripture scribbled across the heavens by starry constellations and planets wandering around the zodiac. Astrologers led men astray, they were heretics, enemies of Islam, liars taking money that should have been going to charity. But then there was the problem of famous men of religious reputation who believed in the occult, or who were reported to have believed in it. Such was the case of the greatest jurisconsult in all Islam, the Imam al-Shafii, about whose belief in astrology there were some outrageous stories going around. Ibn al-Qayyim refutes the stories by showing one of them to be patently false. According to this story, the Imam al-Shafii, when interrogated by Harun al-Rashid (786-809) and asked what he knew about astronomy and medicine, replied he knew what the Greeks, Persians and Arabs had written in their books, implying he knew Persian and Greek, which he didn't. According to the story he also claimed to know the science of medicine that the Arabs and Persians had systematized from Indian and Greek sources, when in fact, says Ibn al-Qayyim, he had but a smattering of medical knowledge and that from Arab sources, such as the old Arab dictum warning people to refrain from eating boiled eggs and eggplant at night, and drinking crushed violets to fend off plague. Ibn al-Qayyim infers that since this story is manifestly false, so are the ones about his belief in astrology. One must be critical of all stories associating men of religion with astrology.(14) III. RASAD AND AHKAM Ibn al-Qayyim turns his attack on astrology from the soothsaying aspect to the two fundamental aspects of astronomy upon which astrology is based, namely rasad and ahkam. The first has to do with equipment, techniques of heavenly observation, and tables of observed planetary position, the zij. The second has to do with the theoretical principles of planetary motion. He deals with them in that order. The heart of observational astronomy is the zij which astrologers rely on in casting horoscopes. Zijs, however, differ significantly in the values they give to planetary positions. How would one know which of the many tables to trust? Ibn al-Qayyim asserts that the one composed for the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim was far more accurate than the one that had been made two-and-a-half centuries earlier for the caliph Mansur (776). The later zij of the Spanish astronomer al-Zarqali (1230), who deviated from the theory and principles of the earlier observers to develop his own, differed as much from the earlier two as they differed from each other. Ibn al-Qayyim compares astrologers who base their faith on those three tables to Christian theologians who base theirs on the doctrine of the Trinity. Astrologers, with all their different ways of reading the heavens, are no different than untutored Christians who dispute the unity and trinity of God by saying the answer is with the priest, the priest saying the answer is with the monsignor (mutran) who passes it on to the patriarch, and he to the bishop, and he, finally, to the pope, who says the answer is with the 318 cardinals who assembled during Constantine's time and formulated the Trinity, a doctrine just as contradictory, polytheistic, anti-religious, and ignorant of God's oneness as are the astrologers and their false doctrines about the influence-bearing stars that split God into many more than three; in that sense, the Christians with their triple-headed divinity are less worse off with respect to God than the astrologers. Even as superior an astronomer and scientist as Abu Rayhan al-Biruni(15) (d. 1050), whose failing weakness was to write a book on the art, Tafhim al-Nujum,(16) could be seduced, though he had the good sense to criticize other astrologers. Al-Biruni's case highlights the dangers of astrology, for even great minds could be ensnared, and for Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Biruni was one of the best. He praises him as a great scientist who produced innumerable valuable works in astronomy and mathematics, including an excellent zij, the Qanun al-Masud, named after the Ghaznavid ruler. It should be noted here that even brilliant scientists subscribed to some belief in astrology. It seemed reasonable to believe that just as the cyclic patterns of the luminaries determined the years and seasons and shaped the character of nature, so too was human character to some degree abstractly influenced by those patterns. For all his reservations concerning a great scientist who could write a text on astrology, Ibn al-Qayyim laments the passing of the days when men like al-Biruni were holding the line between true science and false. Sometime during the three centuries between al-Biruni's death and his own time, as the Hanbali theologian saw it, true science had given way to false. "Astronomy in our day is dead," he complained, quite as, ironically, al-Biruni in his (when Islamic science was, owing in great part to his own prodigious output, at its apogee) had claimed there was no real science being done anymore, the Greeks had done it all, what came after was inconsequential and continued to be so. What al-Biruni had meant was that when it came to the underlying principles and structure of science and philosophy the Greeks were like gods, their works the Qurans of natural and astral knowledge, an attitude of scientific idolatry shared as well by Ibn Rushd and many other leading scientist-philosophers in Islamdom. On the other hand, what Ibn al-Qayyim meant was that the charlatans had claimed the corpse of science and, in the guise of their own false, self-serving, fortune-telling craftiness, pretended it was still alive and working. But they knew nothing of real astronomy.(17) There was still, however, one good astronomer free of the occult taint. This was Abu Ali Isa ibn Ali ibn Isa. He wrote a treatise revealing astrology's contradictions and errors which Ibn al-Qayyim cites extensively in his own attack on its underlying principles, or ahkam, reproducing, as he claims, Abu Ali Isa's arguments verbatim.(18) The following is a paraphrase of the more interesting arguments. One, in particular, of Aristotelian and Hellenistic origins and a traditional mainstay in the works of Muslim anthropological cosmology, delineates the effective limits that the heavens have in their influence on earthly nature. It states simply that the stars indeed do have an effect on the world of living things. The two luminaries, sun and moon, have a physical and temperamental effect. The sun is the principal agent here. The inclination of the ecliptic to the heavenly sphere's axis of rotation produces the four seasons, which in turn produces regional climates. By shaping climate, certain physical characteristics and, in a most general way, human character are influenced. That is the result of the way God organized the earth through His angels.(19) The earth is divided into seven climes, defined by latitude. In places of slight or extreme latitude, the climate deviates accordingly from the moderate. The moderate is the ideal. Moderate climate makes for moderation in life, nature, and character. Dar al-Islam prevails in the regions enjoying moderate climate where it is not too cold nor too hot, making Muslims by nature the ideal of moderation, the rule by which other peoples and cultures are measured, both physically and temperamentally. The most temperate people are those living in the temperate zone, Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis, Persians, Khorasanis, Indians, Chinese.(20) Solar latitude in part affects winds, hotness, wetness, dryness, coldness, and environmental conditions in general. But these conditions are not the result of a simple process whereby the sun is active and the earth passive. Climatic conditions are also in part caused by the earth itself in its multiple reactions with the sun. The earth has a solar absorptive and reflective capacity contributing to climate formation, which in turn influences the size of plants, animals, and people. Climate, as a product of a solar-terrestrial interaction, determines the kind of flora and fauna found in a region, and influences strength and weakness of character. Climes in regions above and below the temperate latitudinal zone tend toward extremes of heat and dryness or cold and wetness, producing human dispositions and skin colors that are respectively weak and black, or weak and yellow, such as are found among Nubians, Ethiopians and Negroes in the southern region, Franks, Turks and Slavs

in the northern. In the zone near the equator, the drying effect of the hot sun produces weakness of character and mind, while Slavs, Turks and Franks to the far north have in addition to weak dispositions and pallid complexions, blond hair, blue eyes, and fat bodies.(21) The heavenly influence of extreme climate, a product of the sun's position relative to the earth, also affects the plant life of those regions. This is as far as heavenly influences go.(22) There is nothing in the stars that can in truth be read as signalling a propitious or inauspicious day for doing something, whatever it may be, and God explicitly stated this in the Quran when He said no one in the heavens and earth knows the unseen (al-ghayb) but God.(23) There are also innumerable internal contradictions that make the astrologer's art a hopeless muddle. Astrologers attribute colors to the planets. The colors impart the four humors. Venus is supposed to be white and yellow, white indicating phlegm which is cold and wet, yellow indicating heat. And so they go on with all the planets, but the colors they give them are all wrong.(24) Some astrologers claim that certain signs of the zodiac exert their influence on the matter of living things, other signs on the form of living things. Some astrologers claim that some signs of the zodiac impart physical properties in their influences and accordingly consider the twelve constellations as being hot, cold, wet, or dry. Each sign is assigned a distinct set of qualities, in which sense, as some claim, the stars exert an influence on the essence of living things. Others claim the influence to be on their accidental nature.(25) Others yet intrude sex into the heavens, claiming the sun to be a sign of fatherhood, hence male, the moon a sign of motherhood, hence female, with Venus, Saturn and Mars being male. Other stars are considered male or female, depending on whether they are east and ahead of the sun or west and behind the sun.(26) The zodiac is likewise divided, the hot sign being male, the cold female, with some signs partaking of both, being hermaphroditic, such as Mercury. "And for this stupidity they claim Aristotle as their supreme authority."(27) "But if heaven is of one essence, as Aristotle and the philosophers claim, how can heaven be divided into regions of various influences, whether formal or material, whether hot, cold, wet or dry, whether male, female or both? How can one essence have opposite effects, something Aristotle says is impossible?" Aristotle also wrote in his Kitab al-Sama al-Tabii that there is no way to know for sure what the stars might indicate.(28) Ibn al-Qayyim (rather, his authority Ali Ibn Isa) claims to have gone to the authoritative sources for this, maqala eight of Aristotle's Kitab al-Hayawan, which discusses the causes of sex in living things, and it is not the stars that induce male or female properties in the foetus. At this juncture the text goes into a long discourse on Presocratic and Aristotelian theories on sex: that it is the warmness or coldness of the womb that influences sex in the foetus; that it is the amount and heat of sperm in the man, the more and the hotter producing male offspring, less and colder female; that it is the side of the body the sperm comes from, right producing male, left female; that if the wind is blowing from the north the foetus will be male, if from the south it will be female, because southern winds carry more moisture and heat and thus cook the foetus in the womb more quickly.(29) Ibn al-Qayyim scoffs at these ideas but credits them as being at least rational in comparison to the stars as a factor in determining sex: "Although their statements are more intelligent than the astrologers they are nonetheless wrong. It is God's will that determines sex as we know by sense, reason and prophecy."(30) True philosophers laugh at the fanciful sexual ideas of these astrologers. They also laugh at their contention that a planetary triad influences the choices people make to enter one industrial art or another. The relationship between career choice and planetary positions is an idea Ibn al-Qayyim (through his source, Ali ibn Isa) attributes to Ptolemy.(31) According to this idea, the three necessary virtues related to the industrial arts, knowledge, tools, and skill of hand, come respectively under the influence of Mercury, Mars, and Venus, each of which have been assigned qualities of the four humors, hot, cold, wet, and dry. A person's career choice depends on the influence of the humors. These in turn depend on the position of the three planets at the time of the person's horoscope. Since people excel in the industrial arts and crafts whose horoscopes differ from the ones prescribed, the concept is rubbish.(32) In fact, the whole of astrology's physical cosmology is one contradictory muddle, one big rubbish heap. One of the best examples of this is the theory that relates the four humors and qualities to the fixed and wandering stars. The moon is said to carry the power of moisture because it is nearest to the earth and receives the vapors rising to it from earth; earth produces water vapor, sun heat. Therefore Saturn carries the power of coldness and dryness because of its distance from sun and earth, and Mars the power of burning dryness because of its reddish hue of fire and nearness to the sun, the sphere carrying Mars being just below the sphere of the sun. What are intelligent people to think of such absurdity? Earthly vapors rising to the lunar sphere? Do extraterrestrial vapors have the power to rise so immense a distance when on earth they rise no further than clouds rise? Are the higher stars, then, influenced by the lower stars, if influences like vapors can rise from sphere to sphere to sphere, and can their conditions then be altered as a result of a reaction from it? If the moon receives earthly vapors daily from the earth, then it must every day increase in moisture, forever taking up vapors into itself. And if this is so, then how can one deny that the bad influences of Mars or Saturn do not continually grow in like manner, each day becoming greater than the one before, with the auspicious part of the planet's influence being overwhelmed by the bad? Or vice-versa? The truth is, the one effect of the moon in relation to water is the ebb and flow of the seas (jazr al-bihar wa maddaha). The flow occurs as the moon, growing distant from the sun, waxes until it is full; the ebb then begins as the moon starts to wane and continues until the moon vanishes. Ebb and flow occur every day and night, the water level rising as the moon rises to mid heavens, then receding as the moon begins its descent, while the waters of the seas below the western horizon begin their tidal flow, since the moon appears there as rising from the east. Wind and waves usually accompany the tidal flow, then subside with the ebb tide.(33) The moon also has an effect on animal milk and stomach illness, as well as animal brains and the color of bird eggs. Sleeping under an open moon weakens a man, inducing headaches and colds because of the moisture associated with the moon, and alters the taste of meat left uncovered, since meat, like fish, rapidly spoils in moonlight. There is a relationship between planting crops and the moon, as there is with the sun, but that is as far as astral influences go. As for those who believe that it doesn't--the astrologers who believe in the stars, and the philosophers who believe in metaphysics such as al-Farabi and Ibn Sina--let them be killed, for they corrupt the umma and destroy religion!(34) Ironically, Ibn al-Qayyim concludes this section of his argument against astrology by producing an array of negating statements attributed to leading Muslim thinkers who in any other context would be sworn enemies of the Hanbali jurist, those very men upon whom he called down God's curses, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, and metaphysicians of their ilk; in fighting a perceived evil, one is allowed the privilege of employing the devil. The arguments here are of a general nature: Thabit Ibn Qurra's that astrologers differed too much among themselves for there to be a viable astrology; al-Farabi's that the contradictions in astrology were overwhelming; and Ibn Sina's, coming at the end of his Kitab al-Shifa, that it was not a real science. The name of Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi is also adduced to claim the same. Real scientists held that the stars were too many and their motions too complex for an account to be made of them. Their lack of regularity, their complex motions that were a combination of several motions including diurnal, precession, latitudinal and longitudinal, retrograde, non-uniform (speeding up and slowing down), demanded an accounting that was beyond the range of human ability. But that did not stop some from striving for accuracy. To get as exact a horoscope as possible, a Sasanian king would ring a bell the moment his sperm was released in the womb so that the court astrologer could make a heavenly reading at the very instant of conception, if conception there later proved to be.(35) IV. ECLIPSE THEORY Because of the sun's life sustaining nature, eclipses and eclipse theory formed, and still do, an important part of astronomy and astrology. In the cosmic drama of celestial motion, the blocking of the sun's light was seen as a threat to life. Darkness in general is a fearful thing, rooted in primeval instinct. A sudden darkening of the sun's sister luminary, the moon, was considered equally threatening. Accordingly, Ibn al-Qayyim deals at length with eclipse phenomena and theory. To the soothsayers, a darkening of the luminaries signalled a heavenly foreboding of turmoil, death, and disaster. There were popular legends that found their way even into the hadith about eclipses.(36) When the Prophet's son Ibrahim died, Muhammad is reported to have said that the sun and moon are two divine signs, ayatan min ayat Allah.(37) In the Quran the luminaries are referred to as such, signs of God's power and majesty, but nonetheless interpretable as signs in themselves as delivered by the Almighty. No astrologer wrote or outwardly claimed that the lights of heaven operated independently of God. No number of stories collected in the hadith about Muhammad's denial of astral influence could deter the popular mind from the seductive power of the stars, and no power of the heavens was more threateningly visible than an eclipse. Eclipses, Ibn al-Qayyim says, are God's signs to frighten people into worshipping Him. They are warning signs not to go astray, a quick preview of God's power, and at the same time signs whose occurrences are mathematically determinable, like any of the patterned movements in the heaven.(38) The cause of a solar eclipse (kusuf) is the lunar interposition between the sun and our line of heavenly directed vision, since the moon, when we see it, is receiving its light from the sun and is not luminescent in itself, and since its carrying sphere (deferent) is situated beneath that of the sun. "When the moon is in line with one of the two points al-Ras or al-Dhanab, or near to them (points demarcated by stars where the orbits of sun and moon intersect), and is in conjunction with the sun above it, it blocks the sun's light, and in that sense it cannot be considered a true block." Ibn al-Qayyim then proceeds to give a lesson in Ptolemaic optics: The rays of vision go from the viewer's sight to the visible object in the form of a cone, the head of which is the point of vision (viewer's eye), the base of which is the visible object. If we direct our sight to the sun during its occultation, the cone of radial vision reaches first the moon. If we imagine it passes through it to the sun, the sun's body falls in the middle of the cone. If the moon doesn't block out all of the sun, the sun falls partly outside the conic rays and only a partial eclipse occurs. This is when the visible object is blocked to an extent less than half the combined diameters of both sun and moon so that when the blocked object equals half the combined diameters, the disc of the moon just coincides with the cone of rays (at its base) and does not cause a total eclipse. Nor does the solar eclipse last long. Having dealt with eclipses and partial eclipses as seen from various parts of the earth, Ibn al-Qayyim gives a succinct exposition on parallax theory. This is followed by an explanation of the relative sizes of sun and moon and the values of changing distances between them. He then elucidates the mysteries of the lunar eclipse (khusuf), lunar illumination, and the related optical theory. This is done in detail, but without supplying numerical values for planetary motions, planetary sizes, orbital or interplanetary distances, or without touching on the computational methods of spherical trigonometry developed by Muslim astronomers and mathematicians during the previous centuries. However, when many pages later he is at last done stripping away the dark foreboding mysteries of solar and lunar occultation enshrouding the simple workings of nature, which self-interested charlatans have used to play on the wondrous fears and superstitions of the ignorant and half-ignorant, the reader should have no doubt about the pure, dry, mechanical operations of eclipses, partial or total; nor will he doubt that the author knows something, at least in the theory if not the related mathematics, of basic Ptolemaic astronomy and optics. Eclipses were still nonetheless to be feared, for they were signs of God's hand over man, always ready to crush him for his waywardness. Knowledge of astronomy and eclipse theory, Ibn al-Qayyim argues, does not rob the heavens and its occultations of their purposive power, but rather deepens faith, adding fear, submission, and humility to the awe, respect, and understanding that perceives the intelligence in the divine mind that created such a wondrous system.(39) Ibn al-Qayyim concludes his demolition of the occult with a short section against the art of augury (tayr), which he claims to be as bad as astrology. The practice would appear to have been at least as popular as astrology, if for no other reason than it was a cheaper way to peer through the window to the unknown. The art goes far back into history, one of the earliest references to it coming in Book II of the Odyssey where the mortal combat of two eagles is taken as a portent of Odysseus' homecoming and the bloody vengeance he will take on the suitors. The origin of this soothsaying art lies in bird lore. The Arabic word for it preserves the sense of its origins. Haliserthes, the diviner of Ithaca, "knew more of bird-lore and sooth-saying than any man of his generation." In Rome, a religious official interpreted omens derived from the flight, singing, and feeding of birds, the appearance of the entrails of sacrificial victims, etc., and advised upon the course of public business in accordance with them. Ibn al-Qayyim feared the practice was making for itself a comparable place in Islamdom and argued fiercely against it, his arguments paralleling those he levelled against astrological divination. V. LEGITIMATE SCIENCE VS. THE OCCULT In disproving the occult sciences Ibn al-Qayyim adduced arguments where he found them, directly or indirectly, from mathematicians, astronomers, and from philosophers whose reputations were based as much on their metaphysics as their natural philosophy. He accepted the legitimacy of natural science up to the point it was supported by demonstrations of physical proof and rational argument, the latter of course depending on what he regarded as rational.(40) The point of departure between philosophers and practitioners of the exact sciences on one hand, and learned men whose priorities resided in religion and the holy law, on the other, was merely one of emphasis. While for the latter, law and religion were in themselves ultimate pursuits, followers of the non-religious sciences, the ulum al-awail, claimed that the purpose of the sharia and religion was to strengthen and complete the powers of the soul in intelligence and action in order to prepare the soul for the next world. These rationalists believed that they could reach an understanding of the nature of the next world through the power of their rational mind, unaided by scripture. For the philosopher and naturalist, the study of holy law exercises the mind, thereby sharpening the moral character, honing it to grasp scientific and moral wisdom. In other words, the law and its study provide a set of limits, conditions, and regulations that serve to polish and train the soul so it can attain its full intellectual potential. In this sense the law's purpose is pragmatic, to exercise man's mind for the higher purpose (as understood by the rationalists) of more profoundly understanding the divine and natural worlds. Ibn al-Qayyim has turned the philosopher-scientist's traditional pro sua vita argument half-circle on their behalf. Rather than science being a path to deeper religious understanding, the study and practice of religion and its abiding law become an exercise trail for the mind to grasp the structure and interrelated processes of the natural world. Religion prepares the philosopher for his trade, as it were. Philosophers such as al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Qayyim continues, have made a union (jam) between the sharia and philosophy, neither one subordinated to the other, but one complementing the other in that they each in their own universe of discourse present facets of a transcendent reality. Where one would appear to contradict the other, it is only in appearance, the consequence of a shortcoming in language and expression--al-Ghazzali's very argument in explaining the trouble mystics often fall into when foolishly attempting to give words to the ineffable--and a misunderstanding owing to the layered depth of meaning in scripture, which is often expressed in poetic metaphor and allegory. When correct logic failed to square the scriptural circle, allegorical interpretation of scripture would circle the square of reason. One wonders how favorably Ibn al-Qayyim would have received Ibn Rushd's Fasl al-Maqal and Tahafut al-Tahafut had they made the journey east to the heartland of Islamdom as they had north to Latin Christendom. As it was, the grand debate carried on by al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, al-Ghazzali, Ibn Tufayl, and Ibn Rushd was, when continued by Ibn al-Qayyim into the fourteenth century, regrettably missing not just a key link in the chain, but the most logically cogent and precisely argued of all the philosophical appeals to the harmony that united the twin realities and their respective truths.(41) The proper place of the exact and philosophical sciences--excluding, of course, metaphysics, which had no legitimate place--was one step below religious learning. There was still, nonetheless, a danger in devoting oneself to the sciences, and here Ibn al-Qayyim reiterates al-Ghazzali's caveat that those who study science and philosophy often arrogantly regard themselves as especially gifted people whose sharp minds perceive the cosmic patterns that are a truth in themselves, natural as well as divine in that through the cosmic patterns is revealed the mind of the Creator at work. They thus regard themselves above those versed in the religious sciences, gifted men of mathematics and physics whose minds have made them independent of prophecy, religion and divine law, all of which are "such necessities that if they did not exist men would be savages living like animals; but in their arrogance they (the philosophers) are ignorant of this."(42) With the religious sciences in their legitimate place at the head of learning, and by educating the people in proper science, that is, by raising their overall level of understanding, the occult sciences will lose popularity. His argument here again parallels al-Ghazzali's in his Munqidh: The common people do not know that a man may be a master in mathematics and be the most ignorant creature in God's creation with respect to medicine, astronomy and logic. He might be a leader in medicine and the most ignorant person in the world in mathematics and astronomy. He may be advanced in geometry and not know a thing in medicine. These aforementioned sciences approximate each other (as rational non-religious sciences), and the distance between them and the prophetic sciences that come from God is greater than the distance between any two (of the rational sciences). And so a man who is a master in these sciences but knows nothing about what the prophets brought and nothing about the Islamic sciences, such a man is like a blind man and indeed more than blind with respect to the religious sciences.(43) The man who knows the religious sciences will be safeguarded from the threatening pitfalls of the rational sciences, namely, arrogance in presuming he knows more than he actually does and being led into error, when by his limited knowledge he makes judgments whose proper place belongs in the sphere of religion. The man who knows the rational sciences will be safeguarded from the falsity of the occult. In other words, a man versed in the religious sciences is well protected against the snares of false knowledge. As for a man versed first in the rational sciences, to turn around the verse in Goethe's famous poem, let him learn the religious as well! One cannot proceed logically from the mathematical and rational to the divine sciences, Ibn al-Qayyim continues. The first concerns secondary intelligible objects, knowledge of which derives from thought and experience. The second is learned directly from God's angels. Though there is truth in both sciences, the truths are different and boundaries should always be kept clear. Hence it is good for one to know both. Religion and its law guides the naturalist in his quest for truth and keeps him from error. Nor should the men of religion arrogantly reject natural philosophy. A proper knowledge of science can deepen faith. Rejection of the sciences that are based on sense, proof, and mathematics would be an act of irresponsible ignorance, an insult to Islam. Religious rejection must be made critically and intelligently.(44) Another danger, and here once again Ibn al-Qayyim appears to have taken his lead from al-Ghazzali, is that scientists who know one science may think they know them all, when in fact they are ignorant of the largest part of the "human sciences"--mathematics, astronomy, physics, logic, medicine--and in their arrogance and ignorance they reject the most important science of all, that of God and revelation, and become "people of error" (ahl al-dalal), believing merely what their rational thought leads them to. Worse, innocent people more ignorant than these scientists may fall into the trap of believing that because the scientists know one thing well, they know all things, and so follow them into error. The human sciences are legitimate only when they take their proper place, the religious sciences being at the head. By educating people in the human sciences, the occult pseudo-sciences, evil in themselves, will be uprooted. As Ibn al-Qayyim perceived it, the danger to religion and society that earlier theologians had seen in science,(45) back in the heyday of royal patronage when the natural sciences along with their philosophical sisters had flourished, had passed with the fading of the exact sciences' golden age. But then, in the wake of Isma iliilm that had risen to haunt the religious establishment of the Sunni umma during Abbasid decline and then fallen under, first, the Sunni reaction embodied by the writings of al-Ghazzali and the nizamiyya-madrasa system of Nizam al-Mulk, and finally, under the hooves of Mongol ponies, the specter of the occult had risen, superstitious offspring of legitimate science and Ismaili spiritual alchemy. In the shadow of this new threat, Ibn al-Qayyim could maintain that the practitioners of true science and philosophy fell under the moral and legal aegis of religion; this implied that there could be no contradiction between natural philosophy and prophecy on the physical, organic, and astronomical levels of existence. On the human level, prophecy provides the science of morals and proper behavior which guides man to civilization, fullness of life, and finally heaven. Prophecy gives man knowledge of good and evil. Without it, man exists in a kind of Hobbesian state of nature, brutal, bloody, savage. "For this reason, if the sun of prophecy were eclipsed in the universe and not a single trace remained of it, the sky would split, the stars scatter, the sun implode and the moon darken, for nothing exists in the universe without the workings of prophecy."(46) Science and philosophy on the other hand have no moral content. Spiritually, they are empty shells. The rational intellect has no power of moral judgment, of distinguishing between morally rewarding acts (tha-wab) and those that are punishable (iqab). The intellect, however, does have an innate intelligence, called fitra, whose provenance can be said to be moral in that it is able to distinguish between good and evil. For the physician-philosopher al-Razi (d. 925) some four centuries before Ibn al-Qayyim, this fitra, a power of the rational mind, was what endowed man with the power of prophecy, a potential actualized by a rare few. For Ibn al-Qayyim, all animals have fitra; man, at the head of the animal kingdom, has primary fitra, which God gives prophets to deliver His laws. However, once the prophets enunciate the divine laws, man does not immediately recognize the wisdom in them as though they had been hovering in the shadows of fitra somewhere at the far edge of the mind waiting for the gentle tug of light or flutter of prophetic wings. Quite the opposite. "An Arab, being asked how it was he knew Muhammad was a prophet, replied that when something was prescribed by the Prophet or Quran the mind said 'Oh, how I wish it were proscribed!'"(47) This is to say that the intellect's inclinations are contradictory to revelation. Ibn al-Qayyim leaves the reader hanging as to whether primary fitra is an innate faculty that is as well applicable to natural principles as it is to moral law.(48) VI. PHILOSOPHICAL CONUNDRUMS AND THE ISLAMIC GOLDEN MEAN Ibn al-Qayyim concludes this part of his book on science, philosophy and the occult with a statement on the moderate stance Sunni Islam has taken regarding the great questions debated by philosophers and theologians over the centuries, particularly the issues of free will, determinism, and cause and effect. Of all prophetic religions, he begins, the truths of Islam are the easiest for the mind to grasp because of their simplicity and reasonableness. This is because Islam is a religion of moderation, a middle way avoiding all extremes in life as well as in principle and dogma.(49) The human exemplification of this is the character of Muhammad, as measured against the characters of earlier prophets, particularly Moses and Christ, whose prophecies Muhammad was sent to complete. For just as the holy laws of Islam stand in rational moderation between the extremes of Judaism and Christianity on the divine level, so too on the human level does the person of Muhammad (and the Muslim perception of him) take a middle ground between Moses and Christ. Muslims go no further than to venerate their prophet; they do not claim him anything but human, honoring him as a model man of the highest ideals, whereas the Jews persecute and kill their prophets and the Christians worship theirs as a divinity. On the mundane level, Islam's rational moderation, or golden mean of nothing in excess, is expressed in the laws related to eating and drinking. While Jews deny themselves the good things of this life as punishment for the evil they feel themselves constantly prone to, and Christians allow themselves to eat and drink freely, even of filthy things such as meat of the pig, Muslims are allowed the clean and prohibited the unclean. Islam's rational moderation, compared to the extremes of the other two monotheisms, makes it a calm guiding valley between two mountains lost in error and excess. Unlike its sisters in the Abrahamic tradition, Islam avoids radical extremities: "For God created the (Islamic) community as a middle way among all the gates of religion." Islam's moderation is manifested in the way Muslims understand the conundrum of determinism and free will. A true Muslim adheres neither to the Jabariyyah (a school of determinism) nor the Qadariyyah (a school of free will). "He stands between them, believing in his free will yet at the same time knowing he is under God's will and thus powerless to do what God has not willed, for otherwise the Almighty's power would be diminished." Ibn al-Qayyim resolves the contradiction with a catch phrase reminiscent of al-Ashari's bi-la kayfa that was meant to resolve the conundrum of good and evil in a world divinely preordained: la quwa lahu wa la qudra alayhi--man has no power (of will) that is his own and no power (of divine fate) that is over him.(50) Ibn al-Qayyim's argument may tie reason in a bowline, but the loop avoids hardened dogmatic extremes. The guiding valley is broad and generous. Here, of course, Ibn al-Qayyim is speaking purely of Sunni Islam as the true way of Muslims in following the prophetic tradition, the way of moderation par excellence, the middle of the middle, as it were, in the context of the whole of the Abrahamic tradition.(51) Regarding cause and effect, here again the true Muslim neither accepts nor rejects absolutely. There are some mutakallimun who reject it, and there are schools of Muslims who absolutely accept it. But true Muslims follow the way between, not denying, not accepting. According to Ibn al-Qayyim, true Islam neither accepts a fixed and ordered universe operating in predictable cycles through a causal network of effectual relationships from God to grass, nor absolutely rejects it. Conversely, Islam neither rejects nor accepts absolutely al-Ashri's determinist game of cosmic chance whereby the universe as we know it is temporally discontinuous, atomistic, being repeatedly extinguished and divinely recreated in serial flashes beyond human perception, so that God is the direct cause of all events and things rather than events and things being causes of one another, an understanding of God and nature no stranger than many aspects of contemporary particle physics and light theory where effect precedes cause in certain instances. Ibn al-Qayyim goes no farther than to admit, "We deny determined causes," which is to admit nothing if cause determines effect. He claims the confusion over the twin problems of cause and effect and determinism and free will have been caused by a misunderstanding of what is precisely meant by the words shar (divine legislation), qadr (man's power over his own actions) and amr (divine command), and the nature of their interrelationship. If these terms were understood in their proper context, there would be no contradictions.(52) This acceptance of all would appear the ultimate compromise in the argument between causality and determinism, another instance of the liberal, non-dogmatic breadth that characterized religious thinkers, Hanbali not excepted, in an earlier period of Islamic history. 1 The general studies on the life and thought of Ibn al-Qayyim are Abd al-Azim Sharaf al-Din, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Asruhu wa Minhajuhu (Cairo, 1965, rpt. 1967); Ahmad Mahir Mahmud al-Baqari, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya min Atharihi al-Ilmiyya (Alexandria, 1977), which essentially follows the first work. 2 Ibn al-Qayyim's Miftah Dar al-Sa ada wa Manshur Wilayat al- Ilm wa'l-Irada has been published in different editions. The one followed here is that of the Azhar Library Press, edited by Mahmud Hasan Rabi a (Cairo, 1939). There is a second Cairo edition, undated, and a Riyadh edition which is a duplication of this. The attack on astrology and augury is found on pages 462-590 in the 1939 edition and 125-250 (vol. 11) in the other editions. 3 See Richard Joseph McCarthy, S.J., Freedom and Fulfillment: An Annotated Translation of al-Ghazali's al-Munqidh min al-Dalal and Other Relevant Works of al-Ghazali (Boston, 1980), 71-81; for an earlier, less rigorous translation, see W. Montgomery Watt, The Faith and Practice of al-Ghazali (London, 1953), 27-43. 4 Ibn Iyas, Bada i al-Zuhur fi Waqa i al-Duhur (Cairo, 1960), 123; al-Baqari, 18. 5 His three-volume Madarij al-Salikin, a commentary on al-Ansari's Manazil al-Sa irin, is considered by some scholars of the subject a Hanbali masterpiece of Sufi literature. See Henri Laoust, "Le Hanbalisme sous les Mamlouks Bahrides," Revue des etudes islamiques 28 (1960): 1-71; see pp. 66-68. 6 In an earlier article I reviewed Ibn al-Qayyim's arguments against alchemy: "Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah: A Fourteenth Century Defense Against Astrological Divination and Alchemical Transmutation," JAOS 91 (1971): 96-103. 7 Ibn al-Qayyim explains the origins of astrology as monotheism reverting back to polytheism. The creators of the art were Saba ians, an idolatrous star-worshipping people who, originating in Mesopotamian Harran, believed all good and evil came from the fixed stars and planets. These polytheistic star worshippers were originally Jews, followers of Abraham, but they split off to form a sect of their own. A second polytheistic sect split from Judaism to worship the graves of prophets. These were from Noah's people. 8 Miftah, 469. He refers to Ibn al-Haytham (d. 1040) who he claims had written on the fallacies of astrology, a source from which he, Ibn al-Qayyim, further claims to have gained much of his knowledge of the art of astrology. Ibn al-Qayyim appears to be confused here since the bio-bibliographic sources make no mention of Ibn al-Haytham having composed such a work. Ibn al-Haytham wrote a treatise criticizing Ptolemy, al-Shukuk ala-Batlamyus, but this is a critique related to Ptolemy's Syntaxis, Planetary Hypotheses, and Optics, not of his Tetrabiblos in which Ptolemy defends the belief that human and earthly life are subject to planetary influences beyond the sun and moon. Ibn al-Qayyim was aware of Ptolemy's interest in astrology and it might have been this that caused the confusion, though Ibn al-Qayyim does not refer to Ibn al-Haytham's al-Shukuk. 9 Miftah, 469. 10 Miftah, 559, etc. 11 Miftah, 474. 12 Miftah, 486. 13 Miftah, 477-78. 14 Miftah, 564-66. 15 The text, p. 486, has Bayruti for Biruni. 16 Kitab al-Tafhim li-Awa il Sina at al-Tanjim, tr. R. Ramsay Wright to English (with Arabic text) as The Book of Instruction in the Art of Astrology (London, 1934). Al-Biruni is reported to have heaped ridicule on astrology as a pseudo-science; see E. S. Kennedy, "al-Biruni," Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York, 1970), 2:56. 17 Miftah, 487. Ibn al-Qayyim's pessimism made him as poor a judge concerning science in his day as al-Biruni's did in his. Post-Mongol Ptolemaic reform astronomy at the Maragha observatory of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and his student, Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi (d. 1311), was going strong in Ibn al-Qayyim's day, and it was in his day and his city, Damascus, that one of the leading astronomers of the reform movement, if that is what it can be called, was born and had his career: Ali ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Shatir, who died in 1375. See D. King, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 12:357-64; and Heinrich Suter, Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber und ihre Werke, Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der mathematischen Wissenschaften 10 (Leipzig, 1900), 168. 18 Miftah, 487ff. I have not found this name in any of the bio-bibliographical sources. 19 Miftah, 503. 20 Miftah, 501. 21 Miftah, 502. 22 Miftah, 488. 23 Miftah, 488. 24 Miftah, 500. 25 Miftah, 489. 26 Miftah, 516. 27 Miftah, 494-95. 28 Miftah, 516. 29 Miftah, 495. 30 Miftah, 496. 31 Miftah, 516. Here Ibn al-Qayyim maintains that Ptolemy was more devoted to astrology than astronomy, though fifteen pages later he has Ptolemy claiming that the accuracy of observational equipment did not meet the precision required to cast reliable horoscopes. 32 Miftah, 498. 33 Miftah, 505. 34 Miftah, 507. 35 Miftah, 517. 36 Miftah, 519-26. 37 Miftah, 558-59. 38 Miftah, 550. 39 Miftah, 550-59. 40 Miftah, 469. 41 Curiously, Ibn al-Qayyim writes that when the Mongols briefly took Damascus in 1260, the governor Mughir, influenced by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d. 1275), wanted to have Ibn Sina's al-Tanbihat wa'l-Isharat take the place of the Qur an, claiming it to be the Qur an of the elite, whereas the real Qur an was for the common masses. Ibn al-Qayyim goes on to write of the religio-philosophical debate carried on by Ibn Sina, al-Shahrastani (d. 1150) and Nasir al-Din. Muhammad al-Shahrastani's little book Masari al-Falasifa, refuting Ibn Sina's arguments concerning the eternity of the world, the absurdity of creatio ex nihilo, Judgment Day, God's knowledge of universals but not particulars and His not causing all events directly, was in turn refuted by Nasir al-Din in his larger work, Masari al-Masari, a debate parallel to that carried on by al-Ghazzali's Tahafut al-Falasifa and Ibn Rushd's Tahafut al-Tahafut. In both cases, the point of departure was the thought of Ibn Sina. Al-Ghazzali's monumental Tahafut is a much more vigorous and comprehensive refutation than Shahrastani's Masari . 42 Miftah, 555. 43 Miftah, 555-56. See note 3 for the location of the same argument in al-Ghazzali's work. 44 Miftah, 556. 45 For this, see the excellent article by I. Goldziher, "Stelung der alten islamischen Orthodoxie zu der antiken Wissenschaften," Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin, 1914-15). 46 Miftah, 455. 47 Miftah, 452. 48 Miftah, 452-55. 49 Miftah, 590. 50 Miftah, 590.
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Author:Livingston, John W.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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