Greetings of Peace. This blog contains selections from my correspondence and other sources on a variety of subjects related to religion, philosophy, and spirituality. I hope that they may be of benefit to the interested reader. Concerning the title of the blog, read this entry.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Quran as the Sun of the Intelligence

فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالنُّورِ الَّذِي أَنزَلْنَا وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ

Excerpted from The Niche for Lights by Al-Ghazali, translated by W.H.T. Gairdner

Further you must notice here, that while the intelligence of men does truly see, the things it sees are not all upon the same plane. Its knowledge is in some cases, so to speak, given, that is, present in the intelligence, as in the case of axiomatic truths, e.g. that the same thing cannot be both with and without an origin; or existent and non-existent; or that the same proposition cannot be both true and false; or that the judgment which is true of one thing is true of an identically similar thing; or that, granted the existence of the particular, the existence of the universal must necessarily follow.

For example, granted the existence of black, the existence of "colour" follows; and the same with "man" and "animal"; but the converse does not present itself to the intelligence as necessarily true; for "colour" does not involve "black", nor does "animal" involve "man". And there are many other true propositions, some necessary, some contingent, and some impossible. Other propositions, again, do not find the intelligence invariably with them, when they recur to it, but have to shake it up, arouse it, strike flint on steel, in order to elicit its spark. Instances of such propositions are the theorems of speculation, to apprehend which the intelligence has to be aroused by the dialectic (kalâm) of the philosophers. Thus it is when the light of philosophy dawns that man sees actually, after having before seen potentially. Now the greatest of philosophies is the word (kalâm) of Allah in general, and the Koran in particular.

Therefore the verses of the Koran, in relation to intelligence, have the value of sunlight in relation to the eyesight, to wit, it is by this sunlight that the act of seeing is accomplished. And therefore the Koran is most properly of all called Light, just as the light of the sun is called light. The Koran, then, is represented to us by the sun, and the intelligence by the Light of the Eye, and hereby we understand the meaning of the verse, which said: "Believe then on Allâh and His Prophet, and the Light which We caused to descend;" (64:8) and again: "There hath come a sure proof from your Lord, and We have caused a clear Light to descend." (4:174)

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