Tuesday, 29 May 2012 21:24

Bodily Resurrection in Islamic Philosophy

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The issues of eschatology and the afterlife have always generated a great deal of speculation. People speculate on when it will happen, how it is going to be done, how it is going to affect them, and if such things really will occur or not. This issue is a very important dimension in all religions, especially Islam. According to Islam, human life has no meaning without resurrection. How can there be purpose if people are born, live, and die and are not judged for their deeds? How can there be justice if everybody is treated in the same way? In line with this, the Qur’an[1] affirms:

“He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed” (QS. 67:2).

To believe in the “last day” is a fundamental instrument of Islamic faith. In Islam, human and cosmic histories have an end just as they have a beginning. The word ma’ad (“return” or “place of return”) and mabda’ (“origin” or “place of origin”) are keywords  used to talk about the end and the beginning of human life. The concept of ma’ad is closely bound to the concept of mabda’ (“origin” or “place of origin”) [2]. The topic of “the origin and the return” covers everything that connects to a human’s effort in achieving his suitable place in creation or reaching his perfection, whether moral, spiritual, or intellectual (Chittick 378). To be more specific, the origin and the destiny are related to three branches of Islamic knowledge which are the firm sign, the just duty, and the established tradition[3]

The connection between the firm sign and “the origin and the return” can be seen more closely in the prime purpose of the science of the firm sign that is to cognize (ma’rifah) Allah through His signs. In this sense, cognizance of Allah involves two general categories which are cognizance with respect to the origin of creation and cognizance with respect to the destiny of creation. The first category deals with the problem of the existence of Allah, His oneness, His essential attributes, His actional attributes, His justice, the purpose of the world and humanity, and the guidance of the world and humanity. The second category is about eschatology and how the creation will be returning to Allah (Hamid, “Islam Dynamic” 66).

Since the just duty deals with an ethical dimension of Islam, it has an obvious relationship with “the origin and the return.” We can simply say that humans must live ethically in this world not because of their fear of laws created by humans, but because of fear of the Divine Law (Nasr 40). Thus, those who believe in the next world should pay close attention to all of their deeds in this world. They should obey all God’s commands and avoid all of His prohibitions.

Both the firm sign and the just duty are esoteric aspects of Islam (haqiqah and tariqah). The firm sign and the just duty are expressed through established tradition. The established tradition is a guide that should be applied in daily life. It teaches people how to build a relationship with God (hablum minallah) and relationships between man and man (hablum min al-nas). Since the firm sign and the just duty are manifested in the established tradition, it can be said that there is an essential correlation between the established tradition and “the origin and the return.”

Based on such a description, it can be understood why the issue of “the origin and the return” has a significant role in Islam. Unlike the problem of the origin, the problem of the return is much more controversial and has been studied since the early times of Islam. This topic is not only found in the works of Muslim theologians but also in the works of Muslim philosophers. There are several issues that frequently appear in their works such as the meaning of death, the nature of the human soul, the evidence of afterlife, the eschatological process, spiritual resurrection, and bodily resurrection. 

Of these issues, spiritual resurrection and bodily resurrection are the most studied by Muslim philosophers. As it relates to a spiritual resurrection, most of the philosophers concentrate on the issue of the immortality of the soul. Al-Kindi[4], for example, argues that the soul is an incorporeal substance which is affiliated with the eternal spheres. His argument for the immateriality of the soul is built on the Platonic concept of the accidental and temporary union of soul and body[5] (Fakhry, “History” 85). In this sense, the body is not essentially alive; rather, it is alive accidentally. The soul continues to live while the body is demolished. This view does not only emphasize that the soul is greater than the body, but it also indicates the affinity of the soul and the eternal world (Adamson 153).

Similar to Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi[6] also discusses the immortality of the soul in some aspects of his philosophy. This topic, for instance, appears frequently in his theory of the Virtuous City (Al-Madinah al-Fadhilah). In explaining the nature of the soul of the inhabitants of the virtuous city after death, he asserts that their souls are subject to a progression in the achievement of perfection and virtue proportionate to their disconnection with matter. After these souls have reached the maximum of such perfection, they will be able to dispense with matter altogether, and then they will continue to exist in an incorporeal state. In the disembodied existence, these souls are free from all things related to the body. Nevertheless, the conditions of the souls vary depending on the characteristics of the bodies in which they formerly subsisted. Because those variations are infinite, the souls after death are also going to be infinite (Fakhry, “Al-Farabi” 118).

Using a different approach, Al-Razi[7] sustains the idea of the immortality of the soul. This subject is presented in his metaphysical doctrines constructed from his concept of the five eternal principles which are creator, soul, matter, time, and space. According to him, the five principles co-exist eternally; however, the soul desired to materialize itself in order to achieve and experience sensuous pleasures. At this point, the soul was ignorant and failed to accomplish its desire. However, through His mercy[8] and knowledge, the Creator helped the soul to achieve its desires. Then, the Creator created hayoula (matter) of man and the soul subsisted in it. To guide the soul back to its real world and genuine destiny, the Creator also equipped the soul with intellect (al-‘aql). The awareness of the soul about its essence, reality, and happiness depends on the work of the intellect. Al-Razi argues that philosophy is an effective tool to obtain freedom from material attachment which is also freedom from suffering. All souls remain in the physical world until they liberate themselves by philosophy. At this level the physical world will disappear and the soul can go back to its original state as a pure universal soul without material attachment (Al-Allaf 82).

The immortality of the soul was also one of the main concerns of Ibn Sina[9]. The central part of his argument is the affirmation of the substantiality of the soul. He claims that the soul is not dependent wholly on the body. The body is not a cause of the soul’s existence and their existences do not depend on each other. The fact that souls can affect bodies does not mean that the body can affect the souls. Since the soul does not depend on the body for its existence, it cannot be presumed to be destroyed with the body’s destruction. In addition, Ibn Sina argues that the destruction of the soul cannot be caused by anything. Composite existing objects are subject to destruction; by contrast, the soul as a simple incorporeal being is not subject to destruction. Moreover, since the soul is not a compound of matter and form, it may be generated but it does not suffer the destruction that afflicts all generated things that are composed of form and matter (Goodman 160-161).

There are many other Muslim philosophers after Ibn Sina who have been enriched the discussion of the immortality of the soul such as Ibn Maskawayh, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Ibn ‘Arabi, Suhrawardi, Mulla Sadra, and Syaikh Ahmad Al-Ahsai[10]. Even though they expressed various arguments, they come to the same conclusion that the soul is immortal, incorruptible and eternal. Having concluded that the soul is immortal, incorruptible and eternal, the next question to be answered is where the soul is heading for. About this question, all of those philosophers agree that the soul will return to its origin, the Universal Soul. In this point, the discussion of the immortality of the soul is relevant to the concept of “the return” (ma’ad) and the resurrection of human soul. Interestingly, all Muslim philosophers agree as to what is called spiritual resurrection. It is not only consistent with their philosophical reflection on immortality of the soul, but also with their theological and mystical point of view.

However, the Muslim philosophers’ agreement on spiritual resurrection was not followed by an agreement on the issue of bodily resurrection. This issue brought to a head a conflict between Islamic speculative theology (kalam) and philosophy. In a broad sense, there are two major points of view about this topic. Firstly, there are those who believe that there is only a spiritual resurrection. Secondly, there are those who affirm that there is a spiritual and bodily resurrection in the world to come. These two diametrically opposed points of view bring different philosophical thoughts to support their notions. Interestingly, this tension has yet to be resolved. This tension became more serious as some philosophers revealed the theological implications on the issue.

Al-Ghazali[11] was a famous Muslim philosopher who fought to justify that believing in bodily resurrection is a fundamental faith of Islam. In Tahafut al-Falasifah (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), one of his major philosophical works, he claimed that Muslim philosophers who deny the resurrection of the body are infidels[12]. There are two steps that Al-Ghazali proposed to attack such philosophers. At the first step, he argues that philosophers who claimed that there is only bodily resurrection in the world to come cannot prove demonstratively that the souls are immortal and incorruptible, as they claimed. Instead, those philosophers use the authority of the revelation –which asserts that the soul is immortal and incorruptible-- to support their ideas. The Qur’an implies a belief in bodily resurrection with the following. “Do not think that those who have been killed in the way of God are dead, but are living with their Lord” (3:169). The prophet of Islam confirms this verse by saying, “The spirits of the righteous are in the crops of green birds that hang beneath the throne.” In addition to this point, Al-Ghazali argues a second step. He claims that the Qur’an does not stop at the immortality of the soul, but asserts the resurrection of the soul and the body as well. The Qur’an affirms that the soul and the body will be reunited in the Day of Judgment regardless whether or not with the same matter of its original body or of a different matter. The reunification of the soul and the body will not only revive the individual, but will also recover the capability of the individual to experience bodily pleasures and pains[13]. Having raised this argument, Al-Ghazali refutes the claims of the philosophers who argue that bodily pleasures and pains are impossible (Fakhry, “Introduction” 71). Based on such a description, it seems that Al-Ghazali’s ideas on the necessity of the bodily resurrection are more theological than philosophical.

Unlike Al-Ghazali, Ibn ‘Arabi[14] explains the necessity of bodily resurrection based on an existentialism point of view. He asserts that a body is indispensable to the soul at all stages of its existence. The word nafs (soul) in the Qur’an not only refers to the spiritual side of man’s existence, but also to the whole human reality. By the time God created the human soul, He also created it to manage a natural sensory form, whether in this world, in the barzakh, or wherever. The natural sensory form is the locus within which the soul manifested. Therefore, after death, God needs to create the bodies to distinguish one soul to another (Chittick 390).

The Existentialist approach to bodily resurrection became more plausible in the hand of Mulla Sadra[15]. He introduced seven fundamental premises to explain the relationship between body and soul. The seven fundamental premises are: 1) the subsistence of things is by virtue of their form, not matter, 2) the individual identity of things is not dependent on their particular matter, 3) the being remains one throughout the stages of its transformation, and that higher levels of being subsume the lower, 4) the soul originates forms of being by pure intention, without material preparedness, 5) the soul’s imaginal power is a substance essentially separate from the body, 6) the soul’s perceptions are essentially of its own world, only accidentally related to physical forms, and 7) the soul can directly affect the body (Morris 153-160). 

Based on such premises, Sadra points out that when the soul of a particular individual still remains, his body also has the same body because the soul of a thing is the perfection of its reality. In line with this argument, he writes,

This is why it is said that this child is the one who will grow old, or this old man was a child, even though with age he has lost all the (particular material) parts and organs that he had as a child. Indeed, one can rightly say that the old man’s finger is the (same) finger that he possessed in childhood, although in itself the childhood finger has disappeared with respect to both its form and its matter, so that nothing remains of it as a particular body; it only remains the finger of this man because of the persistence of his soul. Hence this present body is precisely the same as that (earlier one) in this respect, while in another respect the two are not at all the same. And both of these aspects are true without any contradiction (Morris 161).

Thus the man who is living now is precisely the same as the man who will return after death. The fact that the body is passing, corruptible, perishing, and composed of opposing qualities and of heavy does not affect this sameness. However, the body of a person of paradise is luminous, eternal, sublime, essentially alive, and never dead, incorruptible, diseased and decrepit; and the body of the unbeliever may have a molar tooth as big as mountain, or his shape could be that of a dog, a pig, or something else that disappears in hellfire (Morris 162).

Sadra’s ideas on bodily resurrection are in line with the statements of the Qur’an that say the body in the hereafter will be the same earthly body and not merely a symbolic one. Accordingly, Fazlur Rahman (250) asserts,

Sadra admits that (the statements of the Qur’an) this is so but adds that that body will have the same form as this earthly body and not the matter of the earthly body. Even in this earthly body, its identity is preserved by its form not by its matter, which is continuously changing. The body of a human at any given moment in this life is really its identical form plus an indeterminate (mubham) matter. In the hereafter, this body will be pure physical form without matter—but that physical form will preserve the identity of this body.

Sadra’s notion on the question of a physical afterlife appears very similar to Al-Ghazali’s. Indeed, Sadra maintains that afterlife is the transportation (intiqal) of the soul from this body into an eschatology body. It is close to Al-Ghazali’s ideas on the nature of pleasures and pains after death. However, Sadra goes further with his doctrine of substantive movement (haraka jauhariyyah) and his theory of the world of images (‘alam al-mithal)[16] (Rahman 257). 

The necessity of bodily resurrection is also found in the work of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsai[17]. Unlike Ibn ‘Arabi and Sadra, Shaykh Ahmad combined alchemical approach and philosophical justification to prove his ideas.  Basically he divides the body into two terms; the “flesh” and the “volume” body[18]. The flesh (jasad) is a body of perishable flesh and a body of spiritual flesh which is imperishable; whereas the volume (jism) is an astral body and an essential, original archetypal body (Corbin, “History” 355). A human being, he adds, possesses two kinds of jasad and jism. The first jasad (jasad A, that is, the elemental terrestrial body of flesh) is the one which is made up of elements that are a prey of time. The second jasad (jasad B, the caro spiritualis of elements of the spiritual world), is the reality of a  human being which continues to exist in the tomb after the body of flesh made of terrestrial elements (Corbin, “Spiritual Body” 182-4).

As for two jism, the first jism (jism A) is “the body in which the spirit departs from its body of terrestrial flesh (i.e, jasad A). The ‘astral subtle body’ (jism A) remains with the spirit, whereas the spirit is separated from its ‘subtle body of spiritual flesh’ (jasad B) at the moment when death intervenes between them.” The second jism (jism B) is “the supracelestial archetypal body.” This body is the one that formerly existed in the earthly life (Corbin, “Spiritual Body” 186). The relationship between jasad and jism regarding bodily resurrection was summarized by Shaykh Ahmad as follows:

The first jasad (jasad A) is the form belonging to the lower elements. The first jism (jism A) is the form belonging to the intermediate world or barzakh; the latter is the prototype of the former. When you break your seal and reshape another seal, similar to the first, from the same matter, the soul has lost nothing essential, for it is certainly itself; but it has shed one accident and assumed another accident. The first accident would here correspond to jasad A (the material body) in this present life, whereas the second accident would be homologous to jism A, the astral body in the intermediate world, barzahk. The “I”-soul is different from the elemental jasad A, which is annihilated after death; it is different also from the imperishable jasad B (the body of spiritual flesh), and it is different lastly from the jism A (the astral body, which will not reappear from the moment of the return of the jasad B at the great resurrection). As for jism B (the essential or archetypal original body), it is forever identical to itself (Corbin, “Spiritual Body” 216).

From the discussion on immortality of the soul and the bodily resurrection that is outlined above, we can see that all Muslim philosophers and theologians do not face difficulties in arguing the necessity of the resurrection of the human soul. Indeed, their philosophical thoughts on this issue are consistent with their cosmological point of view, especially on the concept of mabda’ (the origin) and ma’ad (the return). However, the discourses on the necessity of bodily resurrection remain problematic since some philosophers, like Al-Ghazali, revealed the theological implications on such an issue. This claim has given rise to a tension between philosophers and theologians.

Such a problem needs to be resolved by doing some philosophical investigation on the issue. Mulla Sadra’s philosophical thought is a good source to begin with. There is no doubt that Mulla Sadra has made a great contribution to the development of Islamic philosophy. His inquiries on Islamic philosophy are believed to be the most systematic that have ever existed. Referring to the significance of Mulla Sadra in the history of Islamic philosophy, Fazlur Rahman (13) writes,

The significance of Sadra does not lie just in the fact that he studied the entire heritage of Islamic thought and brought together all its significant thought-currents; it lies in the fact that he produced a veritable synthesis of all these currents. This synthesis is not brought about by mere “reconciliation” and superficial “compromise”, but on the basis of a philosophical principle which he both propounded and expounded for the first time in Islamic history. An unfailing hallmark of a great and original thinker is that he discovers a master-idea, a grand principle under which the entire range of reality falls, and he interprets it to make sense, a new sense, and a significant one. It changes our very perspective of looking at reality and offers a novel solution to the age-old problems that have vexed human minds. If we are right in laying down this criterion—as Sadra himself also does—then Mulla Sadra must be accepted as a great and original thinker.

Based on Sadra’s qualifications as mentioned above, this thesis will deal with his philosophical investigation on the issue of bodily resurrection. Although he has numerous observations on the issue, his book “Kitab al-‘Arshiyyah” is considered to be the best one[19]. There are at least two reasons why Kitab al-‘Arshiyyah is selected to be a primary source of this study. Firstly, the content of this book is very comprehensive regarding the subject being investigated. Secondly, this book has been commented by Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsai so we can use these comments to clarify Sadra’s ideas on the issue.

Actually, this study is not the first study on Kitab al-‘Arshiyyah. James Winston Morris was a pioneer in studying this book. Morris’ book “The Wisdom of the Throne, An Introduction to Philosophy of Mulla Sadra” is a great scholarly work through which he introduced this book to Western readers. In the notes and introduction Morris succeeds in his goal of introducing the reader to Sadra and his philosophical thought in general, and in setting the stage for the reading of this translation in particular. In his observation, Morris classifies Sadra’s philosophy into two main aspects –the origin and the return. The origin is about the existence of God, His attributes, His actions, and God-human relationship. Using a philosophical justification, Sadra is successful in proving that everything in the universe comes from the One. The return is about the upcoming world and its nature, gradation, and certainty. In this point, Sadra discusses many things related to Islamic eschatology. Unlike the origin, the return is a kind of conclusion that everything should be returning to the One. It is a brilliant synthesis which is based on many philosophical traditions from Greek philosophers, like Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus, to Muslim Philosophers, like Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Suhrawardi. Since this book is the extensive edition of his dissertation, Morris has made a significant contribution to the field of Sadra studies.

Though his study on Kitab al-‘Arshiyyah is an extraordinary work, the issue of bodily resurrection was not the main concern of Morris’ investigation. Thus far, there is no record that tells us about another study of this book, especially on bodily resurrection. Therefore, further study on this issue is still needed and important. There are three purposes that can be achieved from this study; 1) to reveal philosophical justification on the necessity of bodily resurrection in Islamic philosophy, 2) to trace the root of Sadra’s philosophy in justifying the bodily resurrection, and 3) to lay down a philosophical foundation for further study on the issue of bodily resurrection.

This thesis is formulated in four chapters. The first chapter is an introduction to the debates on the necessity of bodily resurrection in Islamic philosophy. It covers the importance of the issue of resurrection based on the classification of sciences in Islam. It also includes a brief history of the immortality of human soul according to some classical Muslim philosophers. In addition, it introduces the philosophical consideration of the necessity of bodily resurrection based on Al-Ghazali’s, Ibn ‘Arabi’s, Sadra’s, and Shaykh Ahmad’s outlooks.

The second chapter is about the philosophical foundation of resurrection in the history of philosophy. The discussion will start by addressing an early question in metaphysics concerning the concept of “real” and “reality.” This chapter will investigate some ideas of Greek philosophers about this subject and its influence in the development of Islamic philosophy. The culmination of the discussion will be on emanation theory and its implication to the necessity of bodily resurrection.

The third chapter is more specifically on Sadra’s philosophical thought on bodily resurrection as found in his book Kitab al-‘Arshiyyah. As stated before, Shaykh Ahmad’s commentaries on that book (Sharh Kitab al-‘Arshiyya) will be used in analyzing Sadra’s ideas. Besides the original text of Kitab al-‘Arshiyyah, Morris’ translation is also utilized as a tool in understanding the main idea of the book.

Finally, the fourth chapter is a conclusion with remarks in which the whole investigation is summarized.

 

Bibliography

 

Adamson, Peter. Al-Kindi: Great Medieval Thinkers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Al-Allaf, Mashad. The Essence of Islamic Philosophy. St. Louis: M. AL-Allaf, 2003.

Chittick, William C. “Eschatology.” Islamic Spirituality Foundations. Ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr. New York:  Crossroad, 1987. 378-409.

Campanini, Massimo. “Al-Ghazali.” History of Islamic Philosophy. Ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman.  London and New York: Routledge, 2001.

Corbin, Henry. History of Islamic Philosophy. London and New York: Kegan Paul International, 1993.

---. Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth: From Mazdean Iran to Shi’ite Iran. Translated by Nancy Pearson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977.

Fakhry, Madjid. A History of Islamic Philosophy.New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

---. Al-Farabi: Founder of Islamic Neoplatonism, His Life, Works, and Influence. Oxford: Oneworld Publication, 2002.

Goodman, L.E. Avicenna. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

Hamid, Idris Samawi. Islam Dynamic: The Cosmology and Spirituality of Walayah. New York:  State University of New York Press, 2008.

---. “A Foundation for Shi’i Metaphysics: Sayh Ahmad al-Ahsai and the Meaning of al-Hikmah.” International Journal of Shi’i Studies 1.1 (2003): 61-119.

---.“The Metaphysics and Cosmology of Process According to Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsai.” Diss. State University of New York, 1998.

Klein-Franke, Felix. “Al-Kindi.” History of Islamic Philosophy. Ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman.  London and New York: Routledge, 2001.

Marmura, Michael E. “Al-Ghazali.” The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy. Ed. Peter Adamson and Richard Taylor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Morris, James Winston. The Wisdom of the Throne: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mulla Sadra. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. A Young Muslim’s Guide to the Modern World. Chicago: Kazi Publication, 1993.

---. Three Muslim Sages: Avicenna, Suhrawardi, Ibn ‘Arabi. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1964.

Nogales, Salvador Gomez. “How Ibn Sina Became Avicenna.” The Courier 9 (1980): 32-39.

Rahman, Fazlur. The Philosophy of Mulla Sadra. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1975.

Sherif, Faruq. A Guid to the Contents of the Qur’an. Reading: Garnet Publishing, 1999.

Smith, Jane Idleman and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad. The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1981.

Stamatellos, Giannis. Plotinus and the Pre-Socrates: A Philosophical Study of Presocratic Influences in Plotinus; Enneads. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Ziai, Hossein. “Mulla Sadra: His Life and Works.” History of Islamic Philosophy. Ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman.  London and New York: Routledge, 2001.

 


[1] There are numerous passages regarding resurrection and the Day of Judgment in the Qur’an. Faruq Sherif maintains that there are 67 Surahs in the Qur’an that contain verses concerning this issue. In such verses, the Qur’an applies different names to resurrection depending on its traits such as: the Great Day, the Grand News, the Last Day, the Appointed time, the Sure Reality, the Inevitable Event, the Day of Noise and Clamour, the Overwhelming Event, the Doom, the Raising Up, the Reunion, the Gathering Together, the Resuscitation, the Day of Meeting, the Day of Judgment, the Day of Reckoning, the Day of Sorting Out, the Day on which Men call out one to another, the Day of Mutual Loss and Gain, the Inevitable Torment, and the very Great Calamity (143).

[2] The origin and the return are two major issues in Islamic cosmology. On the whole, Islamic cosmology deals with three main issues which are the problem of origin, meaning, and destiny.  Cognizance of the origin and the return is the only way to earn the meaning. Cognizance of the origin is built on the proposition “Allah is the origin of all becoming and motion”, while cognizance of destiny is based on the proposition “everything returns to Allah” (Hamid, “Islam Dynamic” 133-185).

[3] Such classifications of knowledge are found in the tradition of the Prophet which was narrated by Imam Musa al-Kadzim, the seventh Shi’a Imam. The firm sign (al-ayatu al-muhkamah) is the science of cognizance or recognizing the signs of Allah. The just duty (al-faridatu al-‘adilah) is the science that deals with ethical and moral qualities which aim to be balanced. The established tradition is the science that deals with the specific tradition of the prophet’s practice and legislation such as legal, civil, social, economic, and political matters. For further clarification, see Idris S. Hamid, “Islam Dynamic” (59-63).

[4] Al-Kindi is generally recognized as the first Muslim philosopher whose works have survived. He is known as a pioneer of the translation and an initiator of the introduction of Greek texts into Arabic. He was interested in metaphysics, astronomy and astrology, music, arithmetic and geometry (Corbin 154). His philosophical thought reflects the doctrines he studied in ancient Greek, especially Neoplatonic treatises. Of his writings, On Definitions and Descriptions of Things might be considered as the basis of his philosophical point of view (Klein-Franke 167).

[5] According to Plotinus, the unification of the soul and the body are followed by five stages. First, the intelligible origins is a stage where the soul was originally complete, perfect, and purely intelligible. Second, the decision of separation is a stage when the individual soul decided to descend in the perceptible realm.  Third, the partition is a stage when individual soul decided to change its state, from a whole to part, from completeness to incompleteness, and from perfection to imperfection. Fourth, the self-isolation is a stage when the soul isolated itself to its own individual life. Fifth, the care of the body is a stage when the soul is changed to be weak and focusing only on its bodily part (Stamatellos 157).

[6] Al-Farabi is a prominent Shiite philosopher who earned the title of Magister Secundus (Aristotle is the Magister Primus) because of his brilliant commentaries on the works of Aristotle. Though there are some commentaries that are missing, we are still able to read some of his main works such as The Harmony between The Doctrines of the Two Sages, Plato and Aristotle, The Object of the Different Books of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, The Analysis of Plato’s Dialogues, The Virtuous City, Book of the Attainment of Happiness, and many others (Corbin, “History” 159). Such works are the concrete contribution of Al-Farabi in preserving and transforming the philosophical thought of Greek Philosophers for both Muslim and Western readers.

[7] Al-Razi is known for his free thought and nonconformity in the whole history of Islam. In addition to philosophy, his major interest was medical research. His magnum opus in this field is al-Hawi which was translated into Latin under the title Continens and has been circulated extensively in medical circles since the sixteenth century. His areas of studies include alchemy, astronomy, grammar, theology, and logic (Fakhry, “History” 98). 

[8] Based on the interpretation of the first ayah of the first surah of the Quran, there are two kinds of God’s mercy, universal mercy and specific mercy. Universal mercy (al-rahman) is a mercy that comes from God to all of His creations regardless of whether they obey His teaching or rebel against them. Specific mercy (al-rahim) is a mercy that God gives to certain people who follow all of His teachings, adore and service Him. Obeying, adoration, and service are the necessary conditions to achieve God’s specific mercy. In this sense, God helped the soul to attain its desires through His universal mercy.

[9] Ibn Sina is one of the greatest Muslim philosophers in the history of Islam. His immense influence in the West can be traced through his Latin name “Avicennism.” Generally, his major influence are in three areas; philosophy, the sciences (especially medicine), and literature. In philosophy, Ibn Sina’s areas of study include all of the branches of Aristotelian inquiry which are logic, physics and physiology, metaphysics, ethics, economics and politics, philosophy and religion. He was also known as one of the great theorists of mysticism. For further reading on Ibn Sina’s life and works, see Salvador Gomez Nogales (32). 

[10] We are going to discuss some of the philosophical thoughts of these philosophers regarding the philosophical justification on resurrection in chapter II. The discussion of the immortality of the soul in this chapter is only a bridge in grasping why the subject of resurrection appeared in the works of Muslim philosophers.

[11] Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali was born at Tus, a city in Khurasan, in Persia, in 450/1058. He received a good traditional education where he attended the lessons of the most distinguished theologian of his time, the Ash’arite Imam al-Haramayn Abul Ma’ali al-Juwayni. Under his guidance, Al-Ghazali adopted the main principles of the Ash’arite Kalam, to which he remained faithful until the end of his life (Campanini 259).

[12] According to Al-Ghazali, there are twenty philosophical doctrines which are considered to contradict with Islamic religious belief. Of these doctrines, there are three doctrines in which the philosophers become infidels. The three doctrines he considers as absolutely opposed to Islamic beliefs are the eternity of the world, God’s knowledge of universal but not of particulars, and the denial of bodily resurrection (Marmura 145).

[13] In this point, Al-Ghazali also disagrees with the philosophers who argue that sensuous pleasures and pains explained in the Qur’an are no more than allegories. He questions the consistency of the philosophers in interpreting the scripture on the nature of body and soul after death. It is clearly inconsistent, he adds, to conclude that the pleasure and pains for body are allegorical, while the pleasure and pains for soul are real. Moreover, Al-Ghazali argues that the bodily rewards and punishment is logically possible. Al-Ghazali connects this argument to his notion on the miracle and the miraculous (Fakhry, “History” 239).

[14] Ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240) was one of the most influential sufi in the Muslim world. His importance was seen in his formulation of the doctrines of sufism and in his making them explicit. He had written numerous scholarly works from short treatises and letters of a few pages to the monumental Futuhat al-Makkiya; from abstract metaphysical tracts to sufi poems in which the realized aspect of gnosis appears in the language of love. His works covers many subjects such as metaphysics, cosmology, psychology, Qur’anic commentaries, and many other field of knowledge. Of his scholarly works, the Futuhat al-Makkiya and the Fusus al-Hikam are the most widely read and studied (Nasr, “Muslim Sages” 97).

[15] Mulla Sadra (1572-1640) was born in Shiraz in southern Persia to a wealthy family. His father was not only a scholar, but also a minister in Safavid court. There are more than fifty scholarly works attributed to Sadra. Generally, his works are divided into two main trends; the transmitted sciences and the intellectual sciences. The transmitted sciences cover the traditional subjects of Islamic jurisprudence, Qur’anic commentaries, hadith, and theology. His major works in this field are Sharh al-Usul al-Kafi, Mafatih al-Ghayb, Imamat, Sharh al-Tajrid, and number of standard kalam texts. The intellectual sciences mostly cover his philosophical thought such as Al-Hikmat al-Muta’aliyyah fi al-Asfar al-Arba’a al-‘Aqliyyah, Al-Shawahid al-Rububiyyah, glosses on Ibn Sina’s Shifa and on Suhrawardi’s Hikmat al-Ishraq, Al-Hikmat al-‘Arshiyyah, Al-Mabda’ wa al-Ma’ad, Kitab al-Ma’ashir, and Sharh al-Hidayah (Ziai 635-40). The exposition of Sadra’s philosophy is essentially based on his book Al-Hikmat al-Muta’aliyyah. This book contains four journeys of reason. The first journey deals with the doctrine of being or ontology; the second deals with substance and accident; the third deals with God and His attributes; and the fourth deals with man‘s destiny—the end of the entire philosophic itinerary. Among Sadra’s disciples that have been reported are Mulla Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji and Mulla Ali Nuri. However, his influence in the study of philosophy is undeniable. It is said that metaphysics became mature in the East in the same measure as natural sciences progressed in the West. For further information about Sadra’s influence, see Fazlur Rahman, The Philosophy of Mulla Sadra (19-20).

[16] We will go back and speak more deeply about these doctrines when we discuss Sadra’s philosophical thought on bodily resurrection in detail on chapter 3.

[17] Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsai was known as a scientist, mystic, and an important philosopher of the early nineteenth century. His contribution to Islamic philosophy could be seen from his effort to end the cycle of the great philosophical teaching pioneered by al-Kindi. He lived in the period of Muslim scholasticism from which both the kalam of Fakhruddin al-Razi and the Hellenic philosophy of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi stemmed. More precisely, he lived two centuries after Mulla Sadra. Though he was not formally trained in the school of Mulla Sadra, he obviously interacted with Sadra’s philosophy because it was a predominant school of philosophy at that time. His contribution to Sadra’s philosophy could be traced through his commentaries on numerous works of Mulla Sadra (Hamid, “Foundation” 65). Shaykh Ahmad wrote about fifty books, treatises, and responses which are concerned with philosophy, cosmology, and metaphysics. Of these fruitful works, the most important, comprehensive, and mature are: 1)Fawa’id al-Usul or Observation in Philosophy of Law, 2) Al-Fawaid al-Hikmiyyah or The Wisdom Observations, 3) Sharh al-Ziyarah al-Jami’ah al-Kabirah or Commentary on the Grand Comprehensive Visitation, 4) Sharh Risalah al-‘Ilm or Commentary on the Treatise on Knowledge, 5) Sharh al-Fawaid or  Commentary on Observations, 6) Sharh al-Masha’ir or Commentary on Physical Penetrations, 7) Sharh al-Hikmah al-‘Arshiyyah or Commentary on the Throne Wisdom, 8) Al-Risalah fi al-Umur al-‘Itibariyyah or Treatise On Matters of Subjective Consideration. For further information about such works, see Idris S. Hamid, “The Metaphysics and Cosmology of Process According to Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsai.” Diss. State University of New York, 1998, (36-39).

[18] Shaikh Ahmad points out that this idea comes from the tradition of the Imams. The holy Imams used the word jasad (material, fleshly body) as an antithesis of “Spirit”, whereas the word jism (body, undefined) has a much more general meaning in their terminology. Frequently, the Imams used the terms “figures,” “real appearances” and “apparitional forms” as identical to “material body”, and the terms “spirits” as identical to “bodies” undefined (Corbin, “Spiritual Body” 182).This theory is known as an alchemy of the body of resurrection (Corbin, “History” 355).

[19] James W. Morris asserts that Kitab al-‘Arshiyya is a gate to the philosophy of Mulla Sadra. For those who are unfamiliar with Sadra’s philosophy, this book is prioritized to study before going further to his magnum opus  Al-Hikmat al-Muta’aliyyah fi al-Asfar al-Arba’a al-‘Aqliyyah.

Catatan: Ini adalah salah satu introduction pada sebuah penelitian saya sewaktu belajar di Colorado State University AS.

 

Read 118102 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 May 2012 21:32
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