Tuesday, November 23, 2010

663)An Exchange On My Facebook Wall On Why I Find The Al Sijistani-Khusraw Cosmological Doctrine So Attractive And Supremely Appropriate To My Blog.

A Facebook friend made this comment on a thread on my Facebook wall:
You have many posts relating to Nasir Khusraw on your Blog; makes sense since both he and Abu Yakub Al Sijistani subscribed to the same cosmological doctrine based partly on Neoplatonism and this doctrine is central to your blog linking science and religion in Islam;

To which I replied:
The attraction of this particular cosmological doctrine for me stems from the fact that it has a slot where empirical scientific discoveries can fit in neatly. Equally as important, perhaps even more important, is how this doctrine originated, developed and evolved: Plato(around 340BC) was one of those 'pagan' Greek philosophers whose ideals and thinking had a definitive spiritual flavour to them. No doubt he was influenced by earlier Hindu, Persian and Jewish traditions. After Christianity emerged another Greek philosopher Plotinus(around 250CE) took the ideals of Plato and seasoned them with the monotheism of Judeo-Christianity, creating Neoplatonism. You can see why this philosophical doctrine was so appealing to the Muslims when they arrived on the scene around 600CE. Firstly the they took the prophetic hadith "Seek knowledge, even in China" very seriously and translated all the texts they found in Byzantine from Greek to Arabic. This is where they discovered Plato, Aristotle and others. The monotheism of judeo-Christianity was naturally appealing to them as well. Philosophers like An-Nasafi, Al-Sijistani, Nasir Khusraw, Hamid al Din Kirmani, Ibn Sina, Alfarabi and others seized on this doctrine and gave it a decidedly Islamic character, changing it to suit their purposes. So the Ismailis added the Natiq and Asas to Universal Intellect and Universal Soul to give the 4 wellsprings of knowledge, others did other things and the whole thing evolved further. For me then the cosmological doctrine of Al Sijistani and Nasir Khusraw has many traditions embedded in it: Judaism, Hinduism, early Persian thinking, pagan Greek philosophy, Judeo-Christianity and Islam, ie, all the Abrahamic traditions and many others. I then took this doctrine and married it to the last 400 years of amazing scientific discovery and decided to write a Blog about it: a multiplicity of traditions that all lead to Unity.

Epilogue comment by me:
In a post islamist-jihadist world remaining Muslims could possibly use a doctrine like this to become an integral part of the community of civilizations.

Related posts:
A 600-Post Blog Summarized: The Story Of My Blog Told Through Collections Of Posts To Date; Spring And Summer Reading For Those Who Are Interested

My Favourite Cosmologist-Philosopher-Theologian-Poets: Abu Yakub Al-Sijistani, Nasir Khusraw And Ikhwan Al-Safa; A Collection Of Posts On My Blog.

A Collection Of Posts Describing The Philosophical, Theological, Doctrinal, Historical, Scientific And Esoteric Underpinnings Of My Blog.

A Collection Of Posts Describing The Ethos Of My Blog On The Link Between Science And Religion In Islam; Quotes Of Aga Khans And Others.

Quotes Of Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan III, Imam Jafar As Sadiq and Others making reference to Philosophical Ismailism:

"The Divine Intellect, Aql-i Kull, both transcends and informs the human intellect. It is this Intellect which enables man to strive towards two aims dictated by the faith: that he should reflect upon the environment Allah has given him and that he should know himself. It is the Light of the Intellect which distinguishes the complete human being from the human animal, and developing that intellect requires free inquiry. The man of faith, who fails to pursue intellectual search is likely to have only a limited comprehension of Allah's creation. Indeed, it is man's intellect that enables him to expand his vision of that creation"(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University Inauguration Speech, Karachi, Pakistan, November 11, 1985)

"Islamic doctrine goes further than the other great religions, for it proclaims the presence of the soul, perhaps minute but nevertheless existing in an embryonic state, in all existence in matter, in animals, trees, and space itself. Every individual, every molecule, every atom has its own spiritual relationship with the All-Powerful Soul of God"(Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954)

"God – may He be Glorified and Exalted – created Intellect ('aql) first among the spiritual entities; He drew it forth from the right of His Throne, making it proceed from His own Light. Then he commanded it to retreat, and it retreated, to advance, and it advanced; then God proclaimed: 'I created you glorious, and I gave you pre-eminence over all my creatures.'"(Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, Circa 765CE)

"The beginning of all things, their origin, their force and their prosperity, is that intellect ('aql), without which one can profit from nothing. God created it to adorn His creatures, and as a light for them. It is through intellect ('aql) that the servants recognize God is their Creator and that they themselves are created beings …It is thanks to intellect ('aql) that they can distinguish what is beautiful from what is ugly, that they realize that darkness is in ignorance and that light is in Knowledge"( Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, (al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, pp. 34), circa 765CE)

"The Intellect is the substance of (God's) unity and it is the one (al-wahid), both cause and caused, the act of origination (al-ibda) and the first originated being (al-mubda al-awwal); it is perfection and perfect, eternity and eternal, existence and that which exists all in a single substance"( Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani, 11th centuryFatimid Ismaili cosmologist (Kitab al-Riyad, pp. 221-222))

"Tarkib' is composition as in the compounding of elements in the process of making more complex things, that is, of adding together two things to form a synthesis, a compound. Soul composes in the sense of 'tarkib'; it is the animating force that combines the physical elements of the natural universe into beings that move and act. Incorporating is an especially apt word in this instance. It means to turn something into a body, as in 'composing'. But it is actually the conversion of an intellectual object, a thought, into a physical thing. Soul acts by incorporating reason into physical objects, the natural matter of the universe and all the things composed of it"(Abu Yakub Al-Sijistani,10th century Fatimid Ismaili cosmologist, d971CE, from the book, 'Abu Yakub Al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary', by Paul Walker)

"Every particle of the Creation has a share of the Command of God, because every creature shares a part of the Command of God through which it has come to be there and by virtue of which it remains in being and the light of the Command ofGod shines in it. Understand this!"(Abu Yakub Al Sijistani, 10th century Fatimid Ismaili cosmologist, d971, Kashf al-Mahjub("Unveiling of the Hidden"))

Kathalika yubayyinu Allahu lakum ayatihi la'allakum ta-'aqiloona: "Allah thus makes clear to you His Signs that you may intellect"(Holy Quran 2:242)

"Here is a relevant verse from the Noble Qur'an, cited by Nasir-i Khusraw, hujjat-i Khurasan in his Khawaan al-Ikhwaan : "It is He who created you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then from a blood clot, then He brings you forth as a child, then lets you reach your age of full strength, then lets you become old - though some of you die before - and then lets you reach the appointed term; and that haply you may find the intellect (la'allakum ta'qilun)."(Nasir Khusraw, 11th century Fatimid Ismaili cosmologist-philosopher-poet)

"According to a famous hadith of the Prophet Muhammad: The first(and only) thing created by God was the Intellect ('aql)(circa 632CE)

Easy Nash

In Shia Islam, intellect is a key component of faith. Intellect allows us to understand the creation of God: Aga Khan IV(2008)
The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The Holy Qu'ran's encouragement to study nature and the physical world around us gave the original impetus to scientific enquiry among Muslims: Aga Khan IV(1985)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)