The dimensions of the knowledge of God, according to twelve- Imam Shi’ism

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In the second part of the dimensions of the knowledge of God issues, such as, the meaning of Divine, qualities the perfect and imperfect, qualities Qralities of action, Destiny and providence and man and free will win be considered.

The meaning of the Divine qualities
In the world of creation we are aware of many perfections which appear in the from of qualities these are positive qualities which, wherever they appear, make the object of which they are the quality more perfect and increase its ontological value, as can be seen clearly in the comparison between the live being such as man and a lifeless one such as a stone. Doubtless God has created and bestowed these perfections upon creatures, if he had not possessed them in their fullness himself he could not have bestowed them upon others and perfected others through them. Therefore, if we follow the judgment of sound reasoning we must conclude that God, the Creator, has knowledge, power, and every other real perfection furthermore, as has already been mentioned, the marks of knowledge and power and, as result, the marks of life are seen in the order of the cosmos.

But because the D ivine Essence is IimitIess and infinite these perfections which are shown to be his Qualities are in reality the same his Essence and one with each other. The difference observed between the Essences and Qualities and at the same time between the Qualities themselves is only on the plane of concepts. Essentially there is but one Reality involved which is one and indivisible. (The sixth Imam has said, God has an immutable Being his know ledge was himself when there was nothing to be known, his hearing was himself when there was nothing audible. His vision was himself when there was nothing visible, his power was himself when there was anything over which to exercise power, Bihar. Al- and war, VOI, II, p, 125, there are innumerable traditions of the household of the prophet on this question. See Nahj al- balaghah, Taw hid of saduq, Tehran, 1375, Uyun al. akhbar of Ibn Qutaybah, Cairo, 1925-35 and Bihar al. anwar VOI, II).

In order to avoid the inadmissible error of Iimiting the Essence through attributing qualities to it or denying the principle of perfection in it, Islam has commanded its followers to preserve a just balance between affirmation and negation. It has ordered them to believe that God has knowledge but not like the knowledge of others. He has power but not like the power of others, he hears but not with ears. He sees but not with eyes like those of men, and so on (The fifth and sixth Imams have said, God is a light that is not mixed with darkness a knowledge into which ignorance cannot penetrate a life in which there us no death, (Bihar, an war, VOI, II, p, 129) the eighth Imam has said, considering the the question of Divine Attributes, people have followed three, A first group considers God to have Attributes similar to those of others, A second group negates the Attributes, the correct path is that of the third group who affirm the existence of the Attributes without their resemblance to be the Attributes of creatures Bihar, an war, VOI, II, p 94).

the perfect and imperfect qualities
Qualities in general are of two types: qualities of perfection, and qualities of imperfection. Qualities of perfection, as mentioned above, are of a positive nature and give higher ontological value and greater ontological effect to the object that they qualify. This is clear from the comparison between a live, knowing and capable being and a dead being which lacks knowledge and capability. Qualities imperfection is the reverse of such qualities. When we analyze these imperfect qualities we see that they are negative and show a lack of perfection, such as ignorance impatience, ugliness illness, and the like. Therefore it can be said that negation of the quality of imperfection is the quality of perfection, for example, the negation of ignorance is knowledge and the negation of impotence is power and capability.

For this reason the Holy Quran has related each positive quality directly to God and negated every quality of imperfection form Him, attributing the negation of such imperfection to Him, as He the says: “He is the knower, the Omnipotent, “or He says, “He is the Alive or “Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him, “or” Know that ye cannot frustrate Allah.

The point that must never be forgotten is that God, the Most Exalted, is Absolute Reality without any Iimit or boundary. Therefore, a positive quality attributed to Him will not possess any limitation. He is not material and corporeal or limited to space and time. While possessing all positive qualities He is beyond every quality which in reality belongs to Him is purified from the the notion of limitedness, as He says, “Nought is as His likeness. “(Quran, XLII, 11) (The sixth Imam has said, God cannot be describe by time, space, motion, translation or rest: rather, He is the creator of time, space, motion translation and rest, “Bihar al- An war VOI, II, p, 96).

Qualities of action
In addition, qualities are also divided into qualities of essence and qualities of action. A quality sometimes depends only on the qualified itself, such as life knowledge and power, which depend on the person of a living knowing and capable human being, we can conceive of man in himself If possessing these qualities without taking into consideration any other factor.

At other times a quality does not depend only on the qualified in itself, but in order to qualify, it also requires the existence of some thing external as in the case of writing, conservation, desire, and the like. A person can be a writer if he possesses ink, pen, and paper, and he can converse when there is some one With whom to speak. In the same way he can desire when there is an object of desire, the sole existence of man is not sufficient to bring these qualities into existence.

From this analysis it becomes clear that the Divine Qualities which are the same as God’s Essence, as already pointed out, and are only of the first kind. AS for the second kind, whose actualization depends upon an external factor, they cannot be considered as Qualities of Essence and the same as the Essence, for all that is other than God is created by Him and so being situated in the created order, comes after Him.

Qualities that pertain to God after the act of creation such as creator, omnipotent, giver of life, giver of death, sustainer, etc, are, not the same as His Essence but are additional to it, they are Qualities of Action. By Quality of Action is meant that after the actualization of an act the meaning of a quality is understood from that act, not from the Essence ( that performs the act), such as “creator “ which is conceived after the act of creation, which is conceived after the act of creation has taken place. From the creation is understood the quality of God as creation. That quality depends upon creation, not upon the sacred Essence of God, the Most Exalted, Himself so that the Essence does not change from one state to another with the appearance of that quality; shi’ism considers the two qualities of will (iradah) and speech (kalam) in their literal meaning as Qualities of Action (will meaning wanting something and speech meaning conveying a meaning through an expression) Most of the Sunni theologians consider them as implying knowledge and thereby take them to be Qualities of Essence. (The sixth Imam has said, God was forever knowing in his Essence when there was nothing to be known and was powerful when there was nothing over which he could exercise power the transmitter of the tradition recounts ‘I said, and He had no speech, then he created and brought into being the world(kalam) Bihar, al- anwar VOI,II, p. 147, And the eight Imam has said ,will comes from the inner being of people and following it action appears in the case of God there is only His act of bringing into being for unlike us God does not possess intention, purpose and discursive though, Bihar, al- an war, VOI, II, p, 144).

The intellectual explanation of Desting and providence
The law of causality reigns throughout the world of existence without any breach or exception. According to this law each phenomenon in this world depends for its coming into being upon causes and conditions which make its actualization possible. If all of these cause, which are called the complete cause (the sufficient and necessary cause), are actualized, the coming into being of that phenomenon, or the assumed effect, becomes determined and necessary and assuming the lack of all or some of these causes, the actualization of the phenomenon is impossible Investigation and analysis of this thesis will clarify this point for us.

(1)If we compare a phenomenon (or effect) with the whole, complete (or sufficient) cause, and also with the parts of the complete cause, its relation to the complete cause is based on necessity and relation to each of part of the complete cause (which are called incomplete or partial causes) is one of possibility and lack of complete determinism. These causes provide the effect only with the possibility of existence, not with its necessity.

The world of existence, in its totality, therefore, is governed throughout by necessity because each of its parts has a necessary connection with its complete cause by the very fact of coming into being .Its structure is composed of a series of necessary and certain events. Yet, the character of possibility is preserved in its parts if we consider each part separately and in itself in the phenomena which are related and connected to partial cause which are other than their complete causes.

The Holy Quran in its teachings has called this reign of necessity Divine Destiny (qada’), for this necessity issues from that source that existence to the world and is therefore a command (hukm) and “Divine Decree” that is certain and is impossible to breach or disobey. It is based on justice and accepts no exception or discrimination. God Almighty says, “His verily is all and commandment” (Quran, VII, 54), and “when he decreeth [qada] a thing, he saith unto it only: Be! And it is” (Quran, II, 117), and also “(when) Allah doometh there is none that can postpone his doom [hukm]” (Quran, XIII, 41).

(2) Each part of the cause provides the appropriate measure and “model “for the effect, and the coming into being of the effect is in accordance with the totality of the measures determined for it by the complete cause. For example, the cause that make respiration possible for man do not cause respiration in the absolute and unconditioned sense, rather they send a determined amount of the air around the mouth and nose through the respiratory channel to the area of the lungs in a determined time and with a determined shape. Likewise, the causes of man’s vision (including man himself)do not bring vision as such without limits or conditions, but rather a vision which through the mean and organs provided, is limited and measured for men in every respect. This truth is to be found without exception in all the phenomena of the world and all the events that occur in it.

The Holy Quran has called this aspect the truth “providence “(qadar) and has related it to God Almighty who is the origin of creation, as has been said, “And there is not a thing but with us are the stores thereof. And we send it not down save in appointed measure [qadr] “(Quran, XV, 21). (The sixth Imam ha said, “when God, the E xalted, wills a thing, he makes it predestined, and when he has made it predestined, he decrees, it and when he has made it predestined, he decrees it, and when he decrees it, he executes it and puts it into effect “Bihar al- an war, VOI,III, p, 34).

In the same way that according to Divine Destiny the existence of each phenomenon and even which occurs in the cosmic order is necessary and cannot be avoided, so also according to providence each phenomenon and event that occurs will never trespass or disobey in the least degree the measure which God has provided for it.

man and free will
The action which man performs is one of the phenomenons of the world of creation and its appearance depends, completely, like other phenomenon in the world, upon its cause. And since man in a part of the world of creation and has an ontological relation with other parts of the cosmos, we cannot accept the premise that other parts should not have an effect upon his actions.

For example, when a man takes a bit of bread he needs not only the instruments of his hands, feet, mouth as well as knowledge, power and will, but also the existence of the bread in the external world, its availability, the lack of obstacles and other temporal and spatial conditions, If any of these cause were not actualized, the action would not be possible Conversely, with the actualization of all of them ( the complete cause) the occurrence of the action becomes completely necessary. The necessity of the action in relation to all of the parts of the complete cause is not contradictory to the possibility of the relation of the action with respect to man, who is one of the parts of the complete cause. Man has the possibility or free will (ikhtiyar) to perform the act. The necessity existing in the relation between the action and all of the parts of the cause does not mean that the relation of the action to some of the parts of the cause, of which man is one, should also be that of necessity and determination.

Man’s simple and untainted comprehension also confirms this point of view, for we see that people through their God- given nature and intelligence distinguish between such things as eating, drinking, coming and going on the hand, and on the other. Such thing as health and illness, age and youth or the beight of body, the first group, which is directly related to man’s will, is considered to be preformed according to the free choice of the individual so that people command and prohibit them and blame or condemn them. But concerning the second group man has no duty and is not under any Divine command because he cannot exercise a free choice over them.

At the beginning of Islam among the Sunnis there were two schools that were concerned with the theological aspects of human action. One group, holding the view that human action is the result of the unbreakable will of God, considered man to be determined in his actions and held human free will to be devoid of any value and sense. The other group believed man to be independent in his actions, which did not depend upon the Divine will were outside of the command of providence (qadar).

But according to the instruction of the House hold of the prophet, which is also in conformity with the literal instructions of the Quran, man is free (mukhtar) in his actions but not independent (mustaqill). Rather God the Almighty through free will has willed the act. According to our previous analysis, God the Exalted has willed and made necessary the act through all of the parts of the complete cause, of which one is the will and free choice of man. As a result of this kind of Divine will, the action is necessary but in it man has also free will, that is, the action is necessary with respect to all the parts of its cause, and possible and free in choice with respect to one of those parts which is Imam. the sixth Imam- upon whom be peace- has said, “It is neither determination nor free will but something between the two.”

The fifth and sixth Imams said that “God loves His creation so much that he will not force it to commit sin and then punish it. And God is so powerful that whatever he commands comes to be ‘Also the sixth Imam has said, “God is so generous that he does not make it a duty for men to do what is not in their power, he is so powerful that nothing comes into being in his kingdom which he does not will “(this is an allusion to the two schools of predestination and free will).


shiah- pages: 190 to 201


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