The Characteristics of Effusion (fayd) and Ontological Activity in Mullà Sadrà’s Philosophy

Said Rahimiyan

One of the most fundamental issues which can reveal the specific identity of every philosophical system is the kind of theory which accounts for the relationship between God and other than God.

In this regard, we can refer to the theory of creation in religions, theologians’ theory of creatio ex nihilio, the theory of union (ittihàd) and indwelling (hulul) in some religions and certain orders of Sufis, the theory of evolution as propounded by materialists and some Western philosophers, gnostics’ theory of self-disclosure or theophany (tajallí), and finally the theory of effusion (fayd) (in its three Peripatetic, Illuminationist, and Theosopher versions) proposed by Muslim philosophers.

Among all these theories, the theory of effusion has gone through a specific process of development. It found its way into the Muslim philosophers’ terminology after an annotative translation of Plotinus’ Enneads, called Uthologia (or Theology of Aristotle ascribed to the first teacher, Aristotle). Later, in the light of inspirations from profound Islamic teachings embodied in the Qur’anic verses and traditions, and due to Muslim philosophers’ deep insight and ontological approach to the issue (from al-Kindi to Mullà Sadrà) and benefiting from gnostics’ intuitions (shuhud) and unveilings (kashf), it went through a series of changes and finally reached its culmination in Mullà Sadrà’s Transcendent Philosophy (al-hikmat al-muta‘àliyyah) on the basis of the principiality of existence (asàlat al-wujud) and unity of being (wahdat al-wujud).

The present paper undertakes to expound the characteristics of this theory in the Transcendent Philosophy on the basis of Mullà Sadrà’s works and proposes certain solutions to the following problems on the basis of the theory of effusion:[1]

1. The relation between unity (wahdah) and multiplicity (kithrah);

2. The relation between immaterial (mujarrad) and material (màddí);

3. The relation between eternal (qadím) and originated (hàdith);

4. The relation between immutably fixed (thàbit) and changing (mutaghayyir);

5. The relation between the knowing agent (‘àlim) and the known (ma‘lum);

6. The relation between muríd and muràd;

7. The relation between absolute good and evil.

To clarify the above-mentioned issues, the author has firstly discussed the characteristics of ontological activity through effusion (fayd) in brief. In the rest of the paper, he has expanded them in the eight following chapters by referring to Mullà Sadrà’s ideas and works, and the impacts of the doctrine of the principiality of existence on the theories of effusion and ontological activity.

A Brief Account of the Characteristics of Effusion (fayd) and Ontological Activity in Mullà Sadrà’s Philosophy

According to Mullà Sadrà, the characteristics of effusion can be listed as follows:[2]

1. The individual desire (gharad) or reason for effusion and creation has been the essential goodness of the Creator (the Effusing). In fact, His Essence necessitates the effusion of goodness.[3]

2. No intention other than the Essence has been involved in this effusion.[4]

3. His effusion enjoys universality, prevails the entire world, and is not restricted to the first effect.[5]

4. The effusion of existence from the Truth is from the highest to the lowest, since every cause is stronger than its own effect (the arch of descent), and then, in the evolutionary development of existents, it will return to the Highest Origin (the arch of ascent). [6]

5. The first existent, emanated from the Effusing Origin (mufíd), is the unfolding and unconditioned existence (wujud munbasit wa là bishart). Accordingly, the first intellect is one of the determinations and channels of other existents’ effusion, and causes the realization of multiplicity in the next levels in terms of both essential possibility (imkàn bi’l dhàt) and being necessitated by the other (wujud bi’l ghayr). [7]

6. There is a uniform and continuous ontological connection and hierarchy between the levels of existence and effusion.[8] 

7. Effusion is accompanied by the Divine knowledge, will, and consent (the effusion of a thing through its connection).[9]

8. The Truth’s effusion is perpetual (by virtue of the perpetuity of the Essence, essential will, and Truth’s essential love, and the impossibility of the renewal of accidental wills).[10]

9. The effused things (mustafid) (or a part of them) are renewed because of trans-substantial motion and the renewal of forms (tajaddud-i amthàl).[11]

10. Effusion takes place through intermediation (wisàtat). In the first place, there is the intermediation of the names of the Truth, and in the second place, there is the intermediation of celestial beings (angels).[12]

11. Everything receives the Divine unlimited effusion according to its own limited, specific, and essential capacity and preparedness.[13]

12. The reason for the perpetuity (dawàm) of effusion in the world of matter is trans-substantial motion and the existence of opposition in this world.

The above-mentioned issues are discussed in eight parts below:

A. The Individual Desire (gharad) for effusion

The idea that the First Agent (fà‘il awwal) has no individual desire and external intention for effusion was first proposed by Plotinus. He believed that this quality is exclusively for limited, imperfect and composite agents. Muslim philosophers, including al-Kindí and the later philosophers, accepted this aspect of the theory of effusion following a critical approach. In other words, while stressing the negation of any goal other than the Essence for God and opposing those theologians who believed in God’s intentional activity (fà‘ilyyah bi’l qasd), they did not regard the absolute negation of intention as deserving the Divine knowledge and wisdom. That is why they have posed the issue of “the end of act”, and emphasized its distinction from “the efficient end” and, at the same time, explored the concepts of end and private desire and their relation to knowledge and the will.  

Mullà Sadrà maintains that the intentional agent depends on the other for its perfection (mustakmil bi’l ghayr), and that other which becomes goal should be nobler and higher than the agent in cognitive agents, so that the act may be qualified as being wise. Obviously, this is not consistent with the essential independence and ontological perfection of the Truth.[14]

Later, we shall see how philosophers use this point to attribute some kind of individual desire (gharad) to the Truth. What has been discussed so far was devoted to the negation of the efficient individual desire. This is not, however, inconsistent with demonstrating individual desire with regard to act; in other words, we can say that there is an end for the world and since God is at the top of the efficient order of the world, He is the End of ends and at the top of the teleological order of the world. As every component of the world has been created for a particular goal, philosophers have regarded the world as the best possible order and in conformity with the concept of effusion.[15] They have also considered the Truth as the ultimate goal of the world. In this regard, Mullà Sadrà says:

Due to His being the efficient cause, the Necessary Being is the First of firsts with respect to all things, and due to His being the final cause for all the world and being a goal which all things are seeking for willingly or naturally, He is the End of ends, since He is the pure good and the real Beloved.[16]

He also adds:

the reason for the truth of the first consideration (the Truth’s being the First of firsts) is the Essence of the Truth (which is in conformity with His being Effusing), and the reason for the truth of the second consideration (the Truth’s being the End of ends) is the effusion of things from Him accompanied by the existents’ enthusiasm to maintain their present perfections and obtain the lost (but possible) ones.[17]

As a result, in philosophers’ eyes, the Divine wisdom and God’s individual desire means the creation of things and making of their perfections and leading their internal attention toward those perfections (forwarding the things to attain their essential and natural ends). More importantly, while regarding the will the same as love, Mullà Sadrà has considered the Divine Essence as His only essential individual desire, and deemed any attention to other than the absolute perfection as an imperfection. Therefore, since His will is directed to the absolute perfection, that is, to His own Essence, if He has created anything, it has been for the sake of His love for His essence, for “in order to love anything, it is first necessary to love its effects”. Concerning this point he says: “this is not to say that His act is absolute and does not seek any goal and individual desire; rather, His goal is His own sacred Essence.”[18] In this regard, two questions might arise: Does the Necessary Being follow a goal in creating the world and being the source of effusion? If the answer is yes, “What is that goal?” On the basis of Mullà Sadrà’s thorough discussion on the issue, two answers might be provided:

His creatures have individual desires and goals; however, because of His essential independence, His Creation (His being the Creator) follows no individual desire and goal (save His own Essence) so that no will other than His Essence or a potential motive can be ascribed to Him.[19]

As we see, while acknowledging the theory of effusion, Muslim philosophers have ultimately tried to provide a balance between the two extremes of anthropomorphization (tashbíh) and deanthropomorphization (tanzíh) and, at the same time, respected the Truth’s independence, wisdom, and tactfulness.

In his interpretation of the issue, Mullà Sadrà explains the intentionality and teleological aspect of the Truth’s act while being independent as follows: God’s acts are many due to the multiplicity of things. It should be noted that there is a special and absolute act for God which is emanated from Him directly. This is a universal act which is unraveled in multiple things. He says:

what the arguments prove with respect to its not being caused by the other and not having any goal save the Essence of the Truth is relevant to the particular (absolute) act which is firstly and essentially emanated from Him, and both its agent and end are the Essence of One. However, His act which is emanated after this particular act is caused by a goal and at levels after it.[20]

B. The Universality of Effusion and Receptivity (qàbiliyyah) of the Effused (mustafid)

One of the characteristics of effusion and ontological activity is its universality. According to the principle of homogeneity of the cause and effect, the Necessary Being has infinite control over the infinite possible things. Thus His effusion is firstly and essentially infinite and there is nothing to hinder His effusion, whether quantitatively, temporally, or ontologically. Secondly, due to His absolute goodness, what is effused from His Essence, Attributes, and Act is good.[21] 

It is emphasized that the universality of the Creator’s effusion poses another issue: If we consider agents other than the Truth as being valid, we will inevitably have to regard them as the channels of effusion, or in a philosophical sense, as agents dependent upon the infinite and absolute Agent. Such universality and fluidity of effusion leads to the realization and subsistence of free agents.[22]

C. The Mechanism of the Creator’s Effusion

In order to better understand the ontological activity and effusion, it is necessary to refer to the qualities which make a distinction between the ontological agents and others. In this regard, we will discuss four rules which are referred to by Mullà Sadrà, and clarify the mechanism of the relation between the ontological cause and its effect:

1. Necessity

In line with the Peripatetic philosophers, through resorting to the rule of “nothing comes into being unless it is necessary”, in a mental analysis of the issue, Mullà Sadrà considers the impact of the cause on the effect firstly as affirmation (íjàb) and then making (íjàd), for the realization of things in the state of possibility is impossible. In this way, he regards the theologians’ solution as being meaningless and inconsistent with God’s being the cause of the world.[23] Theologians had presented this solution in order to maintain the Truth’s free will and not place him in a one-sided position, that is, necessity. The above-mentioned explanation will be clearer through an ontological analysis of the efficient cause, since the assumption of the “relation and connection” is the same as the assumption of assuming a necessity relation between the related and what it is related to, particularly, when the related is nothing but the relation to what it is related to.

2. Being the Most Perfect

In a chapter under the rubric of “Verily the cause is stronger than its effect”, Mullà Sadrà says: “evidently the cause in terms of its direction of impact and causality is essentially stronger than its effect; however, one cannot be so certain in terms of other directions.”[24] Therefore, if the impact of the cause on effect is to bestow existence and grant the whole entity, the cause will naturally be stronger than effect in terms of existence and all the derived perfections. Nevertheless, in natural agents, for example, the only priority and strength which are demonstrable are in the direction of motion and the like.

3. Commensurability

The issue of the homogeneity of the cause and effect in ontological agents is of paramount importance, for the concept of homogeneity with respect to the nature of the cause and effect, or the natural agent and mover is not so strong and evident. If we consider effect as a product of cause and continuous effusion, the ontological commensurability between the two will be more evident, and the entire world will be regarded as commensurate with a single cause.

4. The Priority of the Nobler (taqaddum-i ashraf)

According to the previously mentioned rule of the possibility of nobler (imkàn-i ashraf), an existent or an existing quiddity, which is nobler than other existents (or existents of its kind), is emanated from the Necessary Being prior to other existents. This issue has been more deeply dealt with in the Transcendent Philosophy as it regards the ontological level of existent as the criterion for priority. In other words, it regards existents as various levels of the spectrums of existence, and each as possessing a particular status and specific level (like the sequence of arithmetic numbers); and in order for them to enter a new level, they should leave the lower levels behind without any possibility to disrupt the priority and posterity of each.

D. Effusion (fayd) and the Issue of Intermediation (wisàtat)

The historians of philosophy, the people of theology, and many philosophers have regarded the explanation of intermediation between God and His creation and the manner of the origination of the multiplicity form unity among the objectives of the theory of effusion. The importance of these two interrelated issues can be inferred from reflecting on the contents of the various chapters of Plotinus’ Enneads and Uthologia (Theology of Aristotle). Here, the first aspect of the two above-mentioned issues will be discussed and ontologically analyzed based on the Transcendent Philosophy. The second aspect will be discussed in other sections.

The necessity of the realization of the intermediary originates from Mullà Sadrà’s ontological approach to the issue of the gradation of existence and the ontological relation between the higher and lower grades of existence. Because of God’s infinite perfection and generosity, the effusion of any grade of existence or any world, though at the lowest level, is regarded as necessary, and according to the rule of the possibility of the nobler, the essential possibility of any thing is the first condition for the receptivity of the ontological grace of the Creator. However, these are not sufficient for material receptacles (qawàbil), and the preparedness (isti‘dàd) and possibility of these receptacles alone do not suffice for receiving immediate effusion (fayd-i bilàwàsitah). Likewise, in intermediate worlds, mere possibility is not enough. Thus, in the relation between the strong level of existence and its weak level or in the descending of effusion to the lower levels, the existence of intermediates is necessary,[25] especially because the source of this effusion and generosity is the absolute simple One, which should be related to multiple and composite existents of the lower worlds, and as we know, without the intermediacy of multiple means and directions, it is impossible to attribute the multiple acts to a single agent just because it is one.[26] In order to liken the intelligible to the sensible, one can say that as the corporeal effect is dependent on the situational, spatial, and corporeal proximity, it is necessary to have a kind of ontological and spatial proximity in ontological effusion, and the role of intermediates is the very spiritual and ontological proximity among farther levels of existence. Their other role is to prepare the objects to receive effusion and existence.[27] In other words, there is no restriction or avoidance on the part of the Effusing Agent in granting existence to things or perfecting them. These are the things and receptacles which should possess the potential for receiving the graces of the Absolute Gracious. Here, the role played by intermediates can be better understood because in Mullà Sadrà’s interpretation intermediates are the same characteristics and determinants of making (ja’l) and multiple directions which relate the simple and single agent to multiple receptacles.[28] Existence is essentially immaterial and so is the Truth’s ontological effusion. The relation between immateriality and all parts of the world and time periods is the same. The intermediates of effusion are among the factors which restrict the Truth’s effusion to a particular receptacle. Thus, the intermediate plays no role in empowering the effusing agent; rather, it plays some role in increasing the ability of the effused.

According to Mullà Sadrà, the intermediates of effusion are of various kinds, for example:

1. Divine Names and Attributes as the determinants of effusion (in terms of manifestation and characteristics)

2. Immaterial things as channels of effusion

3. Subsidiary factors as the characteristics of effusion (temporally and spatially). [29]

E. Effusion and the Arches of Descent (nuzul) and Ascent (su‘ud)

The issue of the origination of things from the First Origin and their later return to their origin is rooted in Qura’nic verses, traditions and religious texts.[30] In philosophical texts, this issue (the unity of ultimate activity and the absolute teleological nature of being) dates back to Plotinus’ works and those of Neo-Platonists and Enneads. That is why this theory has been accepted by most Muslim philosophers, though various accounts of it have been presented according to various philosophical approaches.[31] The following principles provide the rational basis for the demonstration of this issue in the Transcendent Philosophy:

1. The goal-oriented nature of Truth’s acts;

2. The gradation of existence;

3. The principle of the possibility of the nobler and the possibility of the lower;

4. The intensified motion and substantial perfection.

The first principle implies that although the Truth is needless, his acts are goal-oriented and created for gaining perfection and entelechy. The second principle poses the various ontological degrees, each of which is a cause for the lower level and its perfection. The third principle holds that the lower level cannot come into existence unless the higher and nobler level has been realized. On the other hand, in the course of the perfection of possible things, nothing can step onto a higher level, unless it has left the lower ontological levels behind. In sum, exactly in the same way that having leaps is impossible in nature and in order to cover a distance, it is necessary to go through all its stages, it is also impossible to go through the spiritual and ontological levels while skipping over some levels.[32]

The fourth principle confirms the possibility of intensification and perfection in the very ontological degree (and not only in accidents) of certain things. If these four principles are added to the previously discussed rule, posed by Mullà Sadrà about the characteristics of effusion and ontological activity (the ontological cause is regarded as the final and perfect limit of the effect and the effect as the imperfect limit of its own cause), one might conclude that the process of the entelechy of effects in the arch of descent (al-qaws al-nuzulí) is developed in the reverse direction of the process through which their existence, along with its specific level, has originated from the Necessary Being. This is a process which an existent can go through by means of undergoing a transformation in its very essence and substance and finally reach to what is in fact a more complete copy (cause) of itself.

F. The Effusion of Multiplicity (kithrah) from Unity (wahdah)

As mentioned before, an important problem for the Neo-Platonist philosophers, from Plotinus to his followers, is to explain the relation between unity and multiplicity and the way of the effusion of the many from the absolute One. Quoting from ancient philosophers, Ibn-Rushd has proposed certain solutions for this problem including the following:

1. Pythagoras[33] and his followers regard the hyle and potentiality (isti‘dadat) as the origin of the realization of multiplicity;

2. Anaxagoras[34] and some others regard the instruments (àlàt) as the origin of appearance of multiple things;

3. Plato and his followers deem the “means and intermediates”[35] as the origin of multiplicity. 

Among theologians, Ash’arís, who ascribe originality only to the “Divine Power” and evaluate every transmitted and rational principle in terms of it, reject the principle of “ex unum nihilo” (from the one does not proceed but the one) and consider it as being inconsistent with the Divine perfect Power. They argue that the non-effusion of multiples (instantly) from the Necessary Being is a weakness and imperfection for Him. As we will discuss later, Ghazzàlí’s criticisms in Tahàfut al-falàsifah are mainly rooted in this very inconsistency between the two above-mentioned principles (the universal power and the rule of ex unum nihilo). Gnostics, too, have their own approach[36] in treating the issue; however, here we will only refer to the solution of this problem based on the theory of effusion[37] in the Transcendent Philosophy and pinpoint its difference from the Peripatetics’ well-known solution.

As an introduction, it should be noted that concerning the issue of the cause and effect, the rule of ex unum nihilio is supported by axiomatic facts. Some distinguished philosophers such as Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sínà, and Mullà Sadrà[38] have acknowledged the relative or absolute axiomatic nature of those facts; however, their methods of explaining this principle and the way it has been used with respect to the theory of effusion by the last two philosophers are the points of discussion in different parts of this article.

1) A New Argument to Prove the Rule

Apart from the famous indication argument (burhàn-i tanbíhí) proposed by Ibn Sínà in al-Ishàràt and expanded and completed later by his Peripatetic followers, particularly by Muhaqqiq Tusí, there is another argument, proposed by Mullà Sadrà in al-Asfàr, on the basis of the principle of homogeneity of the cause and effect expressed in the rule of ex unum nihilio (from the one does not proceed but the one). [39]

According to ‘Allàmah Tabàtabà’í, the logical and shortened version of this argument is as follows:

There should be a particular and essential relation between the required cause and its effect to connect the effect to the cause (in itself). This essential relation between them requires a kind of commensurability between them which is similar to unity so that there would be no difference between them except in terms of their degrees of strength and weakness. Thus if two things are emanated from a real simple unity, they have been emanated either from the same direction (jihat) or from two different ones. The effusion of two things from the same direction is impossible, since this requires the simple one to be two things to be able to produce two directions, which is in contradiction with the given condition. The second option is also impossible, for it requires the cause to be composite (not simple).[40] In sum, the causedness of any effect for an existing cause is the result of the essential commensurability between them. If it is the case that two effects originate from a simple source, its essence should necessarily be related to the two effects; that is, it should have at least two directions (jihàt).

G. Effusion and the Divine Knowledge

After accepting the theory of effusion as representing the relation between God and the world, Muslim philosophers faced two basic problems: the problem of the knowledge and the will of the Necessary Being and the problem of their conformity with the theory of effusion. If we add the objections and criticisms of theologians to the above problems, we will understand why so much attention has been paid to this issue by Islamic philosophy and theology and why dozens of opinions have been put forward in this regard. The issue has been so profoundly explored that a new discussion under the title of “the kinds of agents and the mechanism of the Truth’s activity” has started in philosophy mainly with the purpose of explaining and clarifying the attributes of the agent with respect to two features: knowledge and the will.

The points which most philosophers considered as being necessary to be observed concerning the Divine knowledge were related to negating attributes such as being unnecessary (zà’id), causing multiplicity and combination, the gathering of passivity and act, causedness, the origination of the mode of possibility in the Necessary, and finally the limitation of the Divine knowledge.

The points that philosophers regard as necessary in the discussion of the Truth’s will are: the objectivity or otherness of Divine Essence with the Essence (whether the will is essential or actual), the unity or disparity between will and knowledge (the relation between the will and knowledge), the relation between knowledge and power, the finiteness or infiniteness of the will, the independence of the willing from what is willed for, the relation of the will to creation and effusion, and, finally, the origination or eternity of the will. Among the other concerns of philosophers (particularly in the Transcendent Philosophy) with respect to both of the above-mentioned issues is the purification of the Necessary from imperfection, origination, and athropomorphization on the one hand, and preserving his entelechies on the other. Considering the above points, we see that from the eight agents discussed in philosophy and theology in relation to the Most High, four agents, namely, agent-by-nature (fà‘il bi’l tab‘),[41] agent-by-being pushed,[42] agent-by-being conquered, and agent-by forced should be set aside, since the first three require materiality, corporeality and naturalness, and being an agent-by force requires being subservient to some another power.  The philosophers have rejected the idea that He is an agent-by-intention as well; for this requires assigning an intentional act, accompanied by a motive other than the Essence to the Most Exalted. According to Muslim philosophers (Peripatetics, Illuminationists, and the followers of the Transcendent Philosophy), His being an agent will inevitably be confined to three modes of activity which represent effusion and ontological activity concerning the Truth’s knowledge and will.

The Transcendent Philosophy has developed the previous discussion of God’s knowledge of particulars in the Essence. A detailed account of the issue is presented below.

The Divine knowledge can be classified into three stages: before creation, with creation, and after creation. Most philosophers maintain that considering the continuous presence of the world before the Truth, the last two stages are the same except that in terms of their bases, the knowledge with creation originates out of solicitude (‘inàyah) in the Peripatetics’ view, and the knowledge after creation is based on adventitious forms (suwar al-murtasimah), and these two are fundamentally different from each other.

However, the main problem lies in God’s knowledge of other than Him at the level of Essence and before creation.[43] A great number of various ideas have been propounded in this regard. Some philosophers do not basically believe in the Truth’s essential knowledge before creation, and since they regard knowledge as relation, and since there is no place for relation in God’s knowledge, they consider the container of sarmad for the Essence of the Truth to be void of knowledge. Some others believe in the essential knowledge; however, they regard the adventitious forms in the Essence as its criterion. Still, some others like Shaykh al-Ishràq have left the discussion in abeyance, since for them the criterion for the Truth’s knowledge of things is the presence of things before Him, and where there is no trace of the effect (in the realm of the Essence), its presence is also out of question and the existence of a criterion for such knowledge is also obviated.

Mullà Sadrà’s main art in this regard is devising and expanding the rule of “the truth in its simplicity contains all things,” and its application to many issues including the problem of the knowledge of the Effusing, for it is this very rule which explains the mode of the inclusion of multiplicity in the universal and simple unity which contains all the perfections of multiple things.[44] It goes without saying that the best way to prove the Necessary’s knowledge of other than Him is relying on His being the Origin of other than Him and their presence before Him (whether after creation or before creation), for the knowledge of the essences of things cannot be obtained unless through the knowledge of things themselves. Thus, if we succeed to prove unity in multiplicity, we can claim that we have found the solution to the problem. On the other hand, as mentioned before, we can discuss unity in multiplicity in two ways:

1. The priority of the perfection of the effect in the cause (according to the rule “what bestows something cannot lack it”), and

2. The dominance of the Absolute and the Simple Truth over the conditioned (according to the rule “the Truth in its simplicity contains all things”).

The propositions which lead to the desired result are as follows:

1. The Necessary Being is the Effusing Origin of all realities and things;

2. The Necessary Being is the Simple Truth;

3. The existence of the Simple Truth means the existence of all things;

4. Anyone who apprehends the Simple Truth apprehends all things;

5. The Necessary Being knows His own Essence;

6. His knowledge of Essence is the same as His knowledge of things and precedes them (through essential priority).

7. Thus the knowledge of all things is present in the Necessary Essence before the realization of other than Him.

This is a realm where multiple things exist through the existence of the simple One, and it is this very station which fully reflects all things like a mirror. Thus, if the existence or the ontological aspect of the particulars of the world (before their creation) in the simple immaterial Essence is proved, it would obviously be the evidence for having their knowledge, since the Divine Essence is not veiled to Him. And if the Essence of the Truth in its simplicity contains all things, nothing is veiled before the Divine Essence of the Truth. He knows everything and, as mentioned before, this differentiated knowledge of multiples is consistent with the simplicity of Divine Essence and His undifferentiated knowledge. Therefore, the undifferentiated knowledge of God is demonstrated through His differentiated unveiling.

Last but absolutely not least is the point that the evidence for proving this idea comes from the problem of effusion, for Divine effusion stems from the fact that the knowledge of things as essences of causes cannot be gained unless through their cause (the Truth), and since the Divine being of the things is higher and nobler than their determinate being, the essential Divine knowledge of them is even more real than their own knowledge of themselves. In the Transcendent Philosophy, it has been proved that the presence of things before their perfect cause is stronger than their own essential presence and the principle of “the Truth in its simplicity…” convincingly accounts for such a presence.[45]        

H. Effusion and the Divine Will

Unlike some Neo-Platonists, Mullà Sadrà does not see any mutual incompatibility between effusion and the Divine will. 

In the first place, he considers an essential meaning for the will and interprets it as a kind of joy and love which is present in the Truth to His own Essence. Like the knowledge of Essence, the love for the Essence is also essential perfection and the same as the Simple Essence of the One, since the love for perfection (particularly infinite perfection) itself is perfection. In this way, like other ontological perfections, such as unity, activity and knowledge, love is also identical with and a Friend of existence.

At the same time, because of his belief in the identity of attributes with Essence, and the identity of attributes with each other, and also because of his being in agreement with Ibn-Sínà in interpreting the Divine will as His knowledge of the best order, Mullà Sadrà believes that the voluntary nature of act means the non-existence of compulsion and imposition from the other. Since nothing is involved in the Divine act except for His Essence and His knowledge of the best order (which is the same as His Essence), the Divine will is the same as His active (‘inàyí) knowledge.

His knowledge of the best order by itself requires the realization of that order, since He knows His Essence, which is the highest of all (through a kind of knowledge which is the highest of all). Thus He takes joy in His Essence (the strongest kind of joy). If one takes joy in something, he will also take joy in what is emanated from it. Therefore, if the Necessary Being loves His own acts and effects, it is because each of them is an effect of His effects, and a drop of the ocean of His effusion.[46]

In this analysis, reference has also been made to the role of effusion in the Divine active will; since His active joy is based on effusion and initiative and not on desire and passivity[47](as it is the case for possible things). The important point that Mullà Sadrà infers from this analysis is that the whole world depends on love,[48] and by love he means the Necessary’s will and His taking joy in Himself and His actions, which have also been referred to in hadíth kanz. In this regard, it has been said, “if there were not love, the heaven, the earth, and the sea would not come into existence.” The fluidity of love, will, and affection throughout the worlds of existence is also related to this issue, since, as discussed before, like knowledge, affection is also identical with existence and accompanies it everywhere.[49]

At this stage, he relates the Truth’s present will to His essential will and, in doing so, he takes recourse to the rule “to love something…”

Activity-By-Foreknowledge (fà‘iliyyah bi’l ‘inàyah) and Activity By-Self-Disclosure (bi’l tajallí) in Mullà Sadrà

It was Mullà Sadrà, who for the first time propounded a six-fold classification of agents in terms of their knowledge and will in his works. His classification goes as follows: 1-agent-by-nature; 2-agent-by-compulsion; 3-agent-by-force; 4-agent-by-intention; 5-agent-by-agreement; and 6-agent-by-foreknowledge.

Agent-by-foreknowledge, in turn, is of two kinds: in the first kind, the knowledge of the best order, which is realized at a stage prior to the act and is an adventitious kind of knowledge which is other than the Essence, and in the second kind, the knowledge is same as the Essence. In most of his works, Mullà Sadrà takes the Divine activity as the activity-by-foreknowledge in the second sense (a kind of foreknowledge prior to the act and the same as Essence).[50] He considers the first kind as the choice of the Peripatetic philosophers. Most of the commentators of Mullà Sadrà also maintain that he believes in the activity-by-foreknowledge.[51] In the short treatise of al-Shawàhid al-rububiyyah, Sadrà has preferred the activity-by-agreement[52] to others; however, in al-Asfàr and al-Mabda’ wa’l ma’àd, he states that it is the choice of the Peripatetic philosophers.[53]

None of Mullà Sadrà’s commentators has attributed this idea to him. It is only in Kitàb al-mashà‘ir that, without any explanation, Mullà Sadrà has regarded the activity-by-self-disclosure as being among the seven kinds of the active cause. He has, however, attributed it to the Sufis (and not philosophers). In Kitàb al-mashà‘ir he has presented a justifiable reason for each of the seven kinds.[54] Some commentators attribute the belief in the activity-by-self- disclosure to Mullà Sadrà,[55] and some interpret this kind of activity as being the same as the second kind of activity-by-foreknowledge.[56] There are still others who consider it as being consistent with the individual unity of existence. The evidence for the latter comes from Mullà Sadrà’s speech in Mafàtíh al-ghayb (Keys to the Unseen), in which he attributes the Divine activity to self-disclosure (tajallí) and causality to the self-manifestation and determination of the existence of the One in His own manifestations.[57] This is the same kind of activity which he has chosen in the last chapters of al-Asfàr, known as the mystical chapters.[58] Moreover, some commentators regard the origin of the two kinds of unity (gradational and individual) to be the same.[59]

The author of this paper believes that Mullà Sadrà, on the basis of the development of his ontological ideas concerning unity and multiplicity (transmission from gradational unity to individual unity), has adopted two approaches. Given the formal basis of his ideas in most of his works, which is the gradational unity of existence, his choice is naturally the activity-by-foreknowledge, in which the cause and effect are considered as two separate though related beings. He maintains that the previous knowledge of the cause brings the effect into existence in the later stage. It is emphasized; however, that he prefers the second meaning of this kind of activity, in which there is no trace of an adventitious and acquired knowledge that is in contrast with the Essence; rather, it is an undifferentiated knowledge (‘ilm-i ijmàlí) by presence characterized by being differentiated unveiling (kashf-i tafsílí). Some authorities believe that by the activity-by-disclosure he means the activity-by-foreknowledge.

Another principle devised by Mullà Sadrà concerning the discussions of the relation between the cause and effect, and the relation between unity and multiplicity, as well as his belief in the individual unity of existence and the relation between the Truth and His effects in the form of self-disclosure and tasha’un, leaves no room for the activity-by-foreknowledge. However, while preserving its positive aspects, such as the knowledge prior to creation and will, he presents a different kind of activity. And as he has stipulated in Mafátíh al-ghayb, written during the last years of his life[60] (his sixties), no reference has been made to the cause and effect; rather, the emphasis is on self-manifestation and self-disclosure, and on the fact that the effects are the manifestations of Divine attributes. At this stage, in line with the gnostics of Ibn ‘Arabí’s school, he propounds the activity-by-self-disclosure.[61]

I. The Continuity of Effusion and the Renewing Origination of the Effused (mustafid)

The issue of the origination (huduth) and eternity (qidam) of the world is one of the most important and, at the same time, most complex problems which has occupied man’s mind for a long time. The issue has its origins in the revealed religions and their related scriptures, in non-revealed religions and their related myths and stories of creation, and in the works of pre-Socratic philosophers, as well as other Greek philosophers who mostly believed in the eternity and continuity of the world. In this regard, Aristotle’s belief in the eternity of the world and Plato’s idea concerning the temporal origination of the world (referred to in the Timeaus) are quite well-known among historians.

Theologians have generally adopted the argument indicating the temporal origination of the world. However, philosophers with various religious beliefs have different opinions and mostly prefer to support the idea of the eternity of the world, while accepting its dependence on an agent who bestows existence to them.

Some of the reasons for the importance of this discussion are as follows:

1. The theological consequences of the issue: Most theologians maintain that believing in the eternity of the world is in contrast with believing in the Creator of the world.

2. Antinomy of proofs: According to some of the greatest Christian and western philosophers, such as Thomas Aquinas[62] and Kant[63], the arguments presented in favor of either side of the discussion, the eternity (qidam) or origination (huduth) of the world, are equally rational and without incorporating an element out of the realm of logic and argumentation (whether a moral statement, a mystical intuition, or a demonstration on the basis of the revealed scriptures), the issue will always remain a secret.

Among later philosophers, two of them claim to have demonstratively solved the problem of origination and eternity:

1. Mír Dàmàd: relying on the theory of atemporal origination (huduth-i dahrí), as discussed in appendix B;

2. Mullà Sadrà: relying on the ontological analysis of effusion (fayd) and the theory of trans-substantial motion (al-harakat al-jawhariyyah).

In this part, after some preliminary remarks, we will discuss the solution to the problem in the Transcendent Philosophy.

The specific theory introduced by the Transcendent Philosophy in this regard can be called “the perpetuity of effusion (fayd) and the origination of the effused”. Mullà Sadrà divides the discussion into two parts:

1. The realm of immaterial things and pure invention (ibdà‘iyyàt);

2. The realm of matter and corporeal things.

In the first realm, he believes in the eternity and perpetuity of effusion and the effused (for time, temporality, and temporal origination are meaningless in this world), and in the second realm, he believes in the eternity of the effusion (fayd) and origination of the effused.

Here, we shall firstly deal with the perpetuity, concept, and theoretical bases of effusion, as well as the method to prove it. These issues embrace both the realm of immaterial things and the world of matter and material objects. Later, we will discuss the renewal of the effused (renewing origination), which is restricted to the world of matter in its temporal dimension.

A. The Perpetuity of Effusion

The premises of the issue of the perpetuity of effusion in the Transcendent Philosophy are as follows:

1. The basis for existents’ need to a cause is their essential imperfection and connected existence, and for quiddities, it is their essential possibility.[64]

2. The relation of ontological causality is the same as the relation between the existence of copula and connected existence (existence by poverty) on the one hand, and the independent existence on the other.

3. It can be concluded from the second premise that the effect cannot be separated from the perfect cause, since, in the ontological cause and effusion, the existence of the Effusing is regarded as the perfect cause of the existence of the possible effect and the separation of the effect (the relation itself) from what it is related to is the same as the annihilation of its copulative ipseity. Therefore, in Mullà Sadrà’s words, the effects subsist due to the subsistence of the Truth, and not because they owe their subsistence to the Truth. In other words, the ontological relation is so strong that the effects are regarded as the Concomitants, Attributes, and Names of the Truth, and not as something alien to Him. Thus, taking these three premises into consideration, one should say that the existence of effect during its origination is not different from its existence during its subsistence. The basis for being in need is always with it, since even if the causal relation is established, the possible and needy effect will not turn into a necessary and independent existent; rather, its poverty will be compensated for by its relation to the latter.[65]

In the Peripatetic philosophy, the basis for the need to the cause (essential possibility) is not separable from the possible, whether we consider it as being originated or eternal. Likewise, in the Transcendent Philosophy, such a basis for need (ontological imperfection and possibility by poverty) is the same as the possible ipseity, and its relation and connection to the Effusing Agent merely add to its poverty. Its existential perpetuity from pre-eternal to eternal does not reduce its poverty; rather, it indicates the continuity of its poverty and need.

4. The fourth premise for proving the perpetuity of effusion explains the necessity of the perpetuity of activity for the Divine Essence and His Names and Attributes. This principle has been introduced as the perpetuity of the Divine effusion over existents and the related evidence comes from the fact that negative attributes such as abstinence, parsimony, inhibition, and avarice cannot penetrate into the Divine Essence, and His love for His effects is not restricted to a specific time. Since, given the sameness of all time periods and divisions for God and the secondary position of time in relation to the existence of the world, the effusing of existents is either required by the Divine Essence or it is not. The former case always comes true and the second is never the case. And since this requirement has certainly exercised its influence over the existents, the first case is proved. That is why the Truth has been called “the perpetual virtue for creatures” in religious texts.[66]

It is here that, as emphasized by Mullà Sadrà, the fundamental difference between the immaterial and material things appears in terms of origination and eternity. Although the perpetuity of effusion is proved in both cases (as we saw, in the Divine effusion, firstly, the required thing is always present, and secondly, there is nothing to stop it); this problem leads to the perpetuity of the effused in the realm of material things as well.[67] In material things, however, it is not the case. This point will be discussed in the next section.

B. The Origination of the Effused (mustafíd)

The reason for the agreement between the perpetuity of effusion and the origination of the world and lack of inconsistency between them should be sought in the essential characteristics of the material world in relation to potential possibility, trans-substantial motion, temporality, the ontological renewal of things, and contradictory causes.

It is emphasized that the infinite power of the Truth, and His will and foreknowledge of the best order require the creation of an infinite number of individuals and corporeal quiddities with essential possibility. However, this possibility alone does not suffice in the material world, since realization and origination in this world (unlike the world of immaterial) is not possible without matter and duration, and both of these factors themselves depend on the specific existential degree of matter and material existence (existential weakness, imperfection, and defect). Thus the first factor requires potential possibility, conflict, contradiction, and challenge between the things, and the second requires temporality, and inevitable priority and posteriori of events. And it is these two very factors which set limits for the phenomena of the world of matter in terms of number, existence, and time.

A more profound study in this regard will lead us to the issue of trans-substantial motion and the four-dimensional quiddity of things, which provide the focal points of this paper. The influence of the theory of trans-substantial motion in this respect should be taken into consideration, since according to this theory, evolution occurs not only in qualities and accidents, but also in substances and essences, and basically in existence itself, not so that an existence is transformed, but in a way that the existence is the same as becoming and transformation; that is, the renewed existence or ontological renewal.

If the body and matter are viewed from this perspective, at every moment, the world of matter is in a state of renewal, continuity, annihilation, and perpetual origination, or in Mullà Sadrà’s words, it is in a state of dressing after dressing (labs ba‘d al-labs). In other words, despite its perpetual existence, the world of matter is continuously gaining renewing and changing individuals and ipseities (huwiyyàt). And the Divine effusion is always involved in renewing the world or bestowing existence. Therefore, one can say that each piece of the pieces or each level of the ontological levels of the world of matter is originated and temporally preceded by its non-existence. The reason lies in an essential characteristic of the body according to which time has penetrated into its every cell, and temporality and gradation have become a part of its identity. As a result, according to the theory of trans-substantial motion, nothing is subsistent in the world, let alone be eternal.[68] Eternity and even subsistence are not among the qualities which can be brought together with the four-dimensional and renewing existence of the world, since, on the basis of trans-substantial motion, the thing is realizable with these very four dimensions (time, length, width, and height).[69] Thus Mullà Sadrà considers the Effused as being originated (hàdith), that is, as some thing which is continually in a state of origination and annihilation.

On the other hand, the specific identity of the world of matter is not preceded by temporal non-existence; in other words, the world and its infinite levels and components have always existed. However, the pre-eternal production of the Truth and this pre-eternal connection of the various parts of the world are not inconsistent with their momentary existence. The reason for this agreement is that the taking, bestowing and activity of the Effusing Agent occur in the realm of existence and entity. And these entities are the same as the relation to the Maker (jà‘il). However, such existence and entity in the immaterial things are constant and perpetual qualities, while they are renewing, annihilating, and originated in the material things. Thus, neither the discontinuity of the Divine effusion and the origination of numerous renewing wills in Him are required, nor is the temporal eternity of the existential stages of the world. And the reason for the agreement between the two is the existence of things which is the same as becoming.[70]


According to Mullà Sadrà, the Divine effusion is permanent and His Essence is in perfect activity. From Him all possible things are equally effused. The past and future are the same for Him, and what can be demonstrated through rational arguments is the perpetuity of the effusion of existence and not the eternity of the world (of matter). And the perpetuity of effusion does not lead to the perpetuity of the effused things and the eternity of all possible things. In other words, neither all components of the world, nor its universals (particulars and the referents of universal concept of the nature of thing) are eternal, for, firstly, universal has no independent existence from its parts, and secondly, supposing it had such an existence, it would be originated for two reasons. The existence of universal is either the same as the existence of its individuals, which are all originated, or depends on the existence of the parts, which are themselves originated. What is dependent on an originated thing is originated itself. And the natural universal also exists depending on the existence of its individuals. The individuals are also originated; therefore, one should not conceive of the infinity of the worlds (parts) effused by the Truth as indicating the eternity of the world (as a whole).[71]

J. Effusion and the Issue of Evil

  One of the complexities arising out of every theory that deals with the relation between the Creator and the creatures, or between the Origin and its inferiors, is justifying the appearance of evil in the world. Considering the fact that God is the absolute good, this issue is posed as a counter-example for the principle of commensurability, a counter-argument for the problem of Tawhíd (particularly the Unity of actions), and an objection to Divine justice. What is relevant to the issue of effusion is the first issue; that is, the realization, appearance, and origination of evil from the Effusing Origin, Who is the absolute good and the origin of all good. In al-Asfàr, Mullà Sadrà presents a detailed account concerning the solution of this problem. To solve the problem in the Sadrian method, it is first necessary to refer to the principles demonstrated in his theology and, to some extent, in his theory of effusion.

1. The principle of the independence (ghinà) and perfection of the Divine Essence;

2. The principle of order in the Divine effusion, and the gradation of ontological levels, along with a kind of essential priority and posteriori, and causeness and causedness among the levels;

3. The principle of universality and the necessity of considering the universal ends of Truth’s acts;

4. The role of receptivity (qàbiliyyah) in effusion;

5. The necessity of the Divine existence in all aspects, and the impossibility of parsimony in effusion;

6. The necessary essentiality of evil in relation to the good;

7. The principle of the relativity of evil;

8. The principle of evil as privation.

According to Mullà Sadrà, through resorting to the a priori argument (burhàn-i limmí), it can be proved that the system of the world and whatever there is represent the best possible order. In other words, this world is a Divine effusion, and the effusion of every single thing is commensurate to that thing like the shadow of things which have no independent existence. Although the world is also the shadow of existence, it represents the best order of the Origin of existents (the Truth); hence, it is the best of all effects, and the Divine effusion is the highest of all effusions.

Moreover, that the world enjoys the best possible order can be proved on the basis of the rule of “the possibility of the nobler (imkàn-i ashraf),” the infinity of the Divine knowledge and power, and the impossibility of parsimony in Divine Essence.

There are certain ambiguities and objections concerning the issue of evil which Mullà Sadrà has dealt with in the eighth mawqif of al-Asfàr. While defining good as what everything desires and by virtue of which enjoys possible perfection for itself, he defines evil as follows:

According to what is said about good, evil is a quality pertaining to non-existence; that is, it means the absence of the essence of a thing or the absence of one of its particular perfections, and the reason lies in the fact that if evil was an existential quality, it would be either evil by itself (linafsih) or evil through the other (lighayrih). If it were evil through the other, it would be because it destroys either the essence of the other or one of its perfections; otherwise, if it does no harm to others, it would not be evil. The conclusion is that evil is the non-existence of the other and not the existence of a cause. However, if evil is evil by itself, it will never come into existence, since things neither require the non-existence of their own essence nor do they require the absence of their own perfections, and even if they require the absence of some of their own perfections, the reason for inferring their evil nature would be non-existence or the absence of a quality pertaining to non-existence.[72] Through inductive reasoning, too, we can find evil as either absolute non-existence (such as death, ignorance and poverty) or some existential events leading to non-existence (such as earthquake, disease and pain). Thus, evil is a quality pertaining to non-existence in both senses; it is the non-existence of essence or the non-existence of the perfection of essence.[73] Now, we maintain that, as discussed in the section related to making (ja‘l), making and creation can merely be applied to existence and existential qualities, and not to quiddity or non-existence or a quality pertaining to non-existence. Thus, evil qua evil, has no creator and maker, nor is it essentially intended by the Creator; therefore, in discussing effusion, one cannot question its cause or source of origination.

After the first rule (evil’s being non-existent in essence) it is necessary to refer to the second rule which is about evil through the other (sharr-i bi’l ghayr). The evil by accident (leading to non-existence) is a relative and mentally-posited quality, and, as we know, making (ja‘l) is not applied to relative qualities of things (such as upperness, brotherhood, fatherhood…). Such qualities are, in fact, non-made, and are only abstracted by man’s mind.

The third rule which explains the roots of the origination of evil in the world (the world of matter and body) indicates that the realization of the relative evils is an essential quality of the world of matter and conflict, and is regarded as one of the non-made concomitants of the existence of material things and the world of matter, thus it does not require a maker, for an essential quality needs no cause.[74]

These imperfections and non-beings are the results of direct creation (ibdà‘) and the descent of existence from the level of absoluteness. However, evils and defects which cause damage are the results of certain conflicts which cannot be found in the world of immaterial beings, the intellects, and the souls. The residence of such phenomena (evil) is the world of matter. They are contained in the world of bodies because of the existence of motion on the one hand, and the occurrence of conflict on the other. It goes without saying that both motion and conflict are among the essential concomitants of this world.

Thus the source of this kind of evil is opposition and conflict which lead to certain transformations. These transformations themselves lead to the emergence of dispositions and occurrence of events, and pave the way for the perpetuity of Divine effusion.[75] Mullà Sadrà’s scheme for the relation between opposition, evil and effusing may be sketched as follows:

Opposition and conflict à Transformations à Renewing preparedness à Origination of accidents à Perpetuity of effusion.

As a result, concerning the relation between effusion and evil, we can say that evil, in the sense of a kind of deficiency in the ontological degree or absolute non-existence of goodness embracing all other than Him, is the product of effusion and the descending of existence.[76]

In the sense of the absence of a kind of perfection that a thing might have had before, evil is in some cases equal to non-existence or a quality that pertains to non-existence (such as ignorance and poverty). In this case, it will never be subject to making, creation, and effusion.

In some cases in which evil is an ontological thing leading to non-existence (such as disease and pain), it is a relative thing and, as we know, such a thing will not be essentially prone to making, and it is only accidental making that can be applied to it. In other words, such a thing is good by itself and for itself; therefore, it will be prone to essential making; however, it is regarded as evil in relation to other existents.

If we define evil in terms of the very conflicts and oppositions leading to transformations and originations in the world of matter, we can claim that such affairs are among the concomitants of all goodness and they are contained in the Divine decree by accident, and, at the same time, they pave the way for new effusions to recipients. In other words, they are regarded as good things, since they cause the continuity of effusion and have other benefits for the overall order of the world. Therefore, what is called evil is not in contradiction with the principle of effusion or the commensurability between effusion and the effused.


In conclusion, we can say that in the Transcendent Philosophy, the theory of effusion has achieved a profound clarity and firmness both in terms of explaining the concept of ontological activity and its ramifications. The main purpose of the theory of effusion is clarifying the relation or relations between the Origin and other than Him. These relations can be classified into the following categories:

1. The relation between unity (wahdat) and multiplicity (kithrat);

2. The relation between immaterial (mujarrad) and material (màddí);

3. The relation between eternal (qadím) and originated (hàdith);

4. The relation between immutable fixed (thàbit) and changing (mutaghayyir);

5. The relation between the knower (‘àlim) and the known (ma’lum);

6. The relation between muràd and muríd (effect);

7. The relation between pure good and evil.

With regard to propounding a clear picture of ontological activity, it was emphasized that this term is explicated through three main concepts in the Transcendent Philosophy: 1-the copulative existence, 2-illuminative correlation, and 3-possibility through poverty. Along with the theory of the confinement of making to existence, these three concepts provide a general perspective of ontological activity.

With respect to explaining the various relations between the Origin and the consequences of these relations, the by-products of the theory of effusion can be summarized as follows:

1. The relation between unity and multiplicity: This relation relies on the rule of “from the one does not proceed but one,” the rule of “the Truth in its  simplicity…,” the analysis of the ontological and non-existential aspect in the first effusion, attributing the multiple aspects to the existential and analytical aspects in the first effusion, and determining the unfolded existence as the first effusion.

2. The relation between immaterial and material: Such an effusion is demonstrated by resorting to the gradation of the degrees of existence and the effusion of the weaker degree from the stronger one, without affecting its station.

3. The relation between eternal and originated: This relation is explained on the basis of essential origination along with temporal origination in the continuous and renewing material entities, all of which are in perpetual origination based on trans-substantial motion. And in this way, the grounds are provided for believing in the eternity of effusion and the effused in immaterial things, and the eternity of effusion and origination of the effused in material things.

4. The relation between immutable fixed and changing: The existence of an intermediary between pure stability (actuality) and gradual entities would be possible through acknowledging trans-substantial motion as the mode of fluid existence which is subject to making. This contiguous and gradually realized existence (an existence that is the same as motion and renewal) is that very two sided entity which has the role of the relation between the permanent and the changing.

5. The relation between the knowing agent (‘àlim) and the known (ma‘lum): In addition to his profound studies on God’s active knowledge by presence, Mullà Sadrà has developed the theory of the simple undifferentiated knowledge along with differentiating unveiling in the Transcendent Philosophy. His theory is related to the realm of essential knowledge and relies on basing effusion and activity on the inner sense of entity and the perfections of effects (what grants something cannot lack it), introducing the rule of “the Truth in its simplicity…,” the rule of the owners of causes, and resorting to the Necessary’s knowledge by presence.

6. The relation between the agent of desire and the desired effect: Through analyzing the meaning of creative act, effect, will and intisàb, two kinds of the will (essential will and active will) which provide the grounds for the occurrence of effusion can be attributed to the Truth. While believing in the necessity of these effects through other than them, the Transcendent Philosophy believes in the voluntary nature of this necessary effusion, as it emphasizes the distinctions among the active, agentive, essential, and accidental ends.

7. The relation between the pure good and evil: Through analyzing evils and considering them as non-existence or qualities pertaining to non-existence, concepts of simple and compound making, as well as the essential and accidental making and their connection to things, and also with reference to the essential qualities of the world of matter, i.e., motion, conflict, opposition, etc, it becomes clear that privative and relative evils do not need a maker and, in this way, the commensurability between the world of possibility (the best order) and the Effusing Agent is proved.       


[1]. Among the necessary topics in this regard are the explanation of developed foundations of the theory of effusion and its development in Islamic philosophical systems and responding to the objections raised against this theory in the Transcendent Philosophy. The author has discussed these issues in his Ph.D thesis under the title of “the explanation of Plotinus’ doctrine of ontological activity and its assessment from Mullà Sadrà’s point of view”.  

[2]. References are all made to various volumes of al-Asfàr (in 9 volumes, Mustafawi publication, Qum).

[3]. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 333.

[4]. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 379, p. 367.

[5]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 186.

[6]. Ibid., vol. 8, p. 104, and vol. 9, p. 357.

[7]. Ibid., vol. 8, p. 84; vol. 9, p. 75.

[8]. Ibid., vol. 9, p. 142, and p. 75.

[9]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 230, p. 223, and p. 220.

[10]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 376, and vol. 7, p. 282.

[11]. Ibid., vol. 7, p. 76, p. 276.

[12]. Ibid., vol. 7, p. 76, p. 276.

[13]. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 231, and vol. 7, p. 77, and vol. 8, p. 84.

[14]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 279.

[15]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 281, and vol. 6, p. 333.

[16]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 279.

[17]. Ibid., p. 279.

[18]. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 367.

[19]. Ibid.

[20]. Mullà Sadrà’s commentary on Surah al-Baqarah, vol. 2, pp. 275-276. Then he describes in detail the goal of creating different things, from the earth to the human world.

[21]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 186, and vol. 8, pp. 3-4.

[22]. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 14.

[23]. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 321.

[24]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 189.

[25]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 266.

[26]. Ibid., vol. 8, p. 84.

[27]. Ibid., p. 143.

[28]. Ibid., vol. 9, p. 192

[29]. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 214-216 and vol. 8, p. 84.

[30]. Verses such as “He is the First and the Last” (57:3), “Lo! We are Allah’s and lo! unto Him we are returning” (2:156), “As He brought you into being, so return ye (unto Him)” (7:29), and “…He produceth creation, then reproduceth it…” (10:4).

[31]. The gnostics express the two stages in one of which the Divine manifestations are brought into being and in the other these manifestations go back to their origin as the arches of descent and ascent. For details, see Ibn ‘Arabí, Futuhàt al-makkiyyah, Bàb 374, vol. 9, p. 357.

[32]. al-Asfàr, vol. 8, pp. 3-5.

[33]. Pythagoras: Greek philosophers and mathematician (571-490 B.C.) believed in the ontological relation between the numbers and being, and the role played by harmony between numbers in the universe. According to Pythagoreans, number was the primary principle (arche). He also puts great emphasis on practical purification.

[34]. Anaxagoras (500- 428 B.C.), the Ionian philosopher, who believed in hiding (kumun), the idea that all things are hidden at once in a whole, as well as the four-folded principles of the world (water, air, earth, and fire) and the involvement of nous (intellect) in the world.

[35]. Tahàfut al-tahàfat, pp. 176-177.

[36]. For details see the author’s Tajallí wa zuhur dar ‘irfàn-e nazarí, chapter 6, p. 229 and onward.

[37]. There have been introduced various opinions as to whether the above rule is about the natural and sensible agents (Ibn Rushd’s opinion, Tafsír-i màba‘d al-tabí’ah, vol. 3, p. 1648) or it is only about the Divine agents (the idea of later Muslim philosophers, see Nahàyat al-hikmah, p. 242 and Asàs al-tawhíd, p. 50) or about both of them (Asàs al-tawhíd, p. 51). Contrary to Ibn Rushd’s rudimentary opinion, this rule can be applied to ontological agents, and our discussion is based on this very point.

[38]. al-Asfàr, vol. 7, p. 204.

[39]. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 236.

[40]. Ibid., p. 237. Also see Nahàyat al-hikmah, the topic of Qà‘idah al-wàhid.

[41]. An agent from whom the act is originated without its knowledge and will, and the act is consistent with its nature.

[42]. An agent without knowledge and will, whose act is not consistent with its nature.

[43]. Evidently, here we do not mean temporal priority; rather, we mean priority in level and essence and causal and essential priority.

[44]. While introducing the fact that most of the later philosophers relied on the idea that the Essence is the origin with respect to the emanation of things, Mullà Sadrà says that their problem is that they are not aware of the mechanism through which his knowledge of things is put in agreement with his knowledge of Essence, al-Asfàr, vol. 6, p. 238. He refers to the philosophers’ inability to understand the truth of ontological issues. The other reason is how things can be distinguished from each other in such knowledge.  

[45]. The followers of Mullà Sadrà have made extensive use of the theory of the Necessary’s knowledge. They have taken this rule as a base according to which the issue of the Creator’s knowledge can be introduced. See Fayd Làhíjí, Usul al-ma‘àrif, p. 29. For the issue of the knowledge after creation (other than the Essence) see Ibid.,  p. 30. For the issue of knowledge before creation (same as the Essence), see Ibid., p. 312.

[46]. See, Mullà Sadrà, al- Mabda’ wa’l-ma‘àd, ed. by Husaini Ardakani, pp. 160-161.

[47]. al-Asfàr, vol. 6, p. 355.

[48]. He says that Love means happiness because of imaging the essential presence.

[49]. al-Asfàr, vol. 6, and vol. 7, p. 235.

[50]. For example, see al-Asfàr, vol. 2, p. 225, and vol. 3, p. 12 and also al- Mabda’ wa’l- ma‘àd (Persian translation), pp. 158-159, and Tafsīr, vol. 2, p. 225, and vol. 4, p. 211.

[51]. For example, Làhíjí, in Sharh al-mashà‘ir, pp. 305-306, and Mullà ‘Abdullàh Zunuzí in Luma‘àt-i ilàhiyyah, pp. 379-380.

[52]. Majmu‘ayah rasà’il-i falsafí, (al-Shawàhid al-rububiyyah), p. 14.

[53]. al-Asfàr, vol. 2, p. 225, and vol. 3, p. 12.

[54]. Kitàb al-mashà‘ir, p. 58.

[55]. For example, Sabziwàrí, in Sharh al-manzumah, p. 157 and p. 526; Zunuzí in Luma‘àt-i ilàhiyyah, p. 380 and Àqà ‘Alí Hakím, in Badàyi‘ al-hikam, p. 250.

[56]. For example, Sabziwàrí, Ibid., Zunuzí, Ibid., and Ashtiyani, Ibid., and Hasan Zadeh Amuli, Khayr al-àthàr dar radd-i jabr wa qadar, p. 67 and pp. 198-202.

[57]. Mullà Sadrà, Mafàtíh al-ghayb, p. 335.

[58]. Mullà Sadrà, al-Asfàr, vol. 2, pp. 292-301.

[59]. For example, Ashtiyani, in his Glosses on Làhíjí’s Sharh, pp. 305-306, and Hasan Zadeh Amuli, in Wahdat-i wujud az díd-i ‘àrif wa hakím.

[60]. Mullà Sadrà, Mafàtíh al-ghayb, p. 429.

[61]. For example, Ashtiyani, in his Glosses on Làhíjí’s Sharh, pp. 305-306, and Hasan Zadeh Amuli, in Wahdat-i wujud az díd-i ‘àrif wa hakím.

[62]. Thomas Aquinas has regarded the issue of the origination of the world or its eternity among the issues which cannot be solved by human’s reason alone. There have been raised some arguments in favor of both sides of the issue. It is here that one should refer to the Scriptures to come up with a correct solution. For details refer to Thibault, Creation…p. 10. According to Dr. Sulaymàn Dunyà, however, given Ibn-Sínà’s arguments in favor of the impossibility of the world’s temporal origination (al-Ishàràt, namat 5, Ch. 12) and the arguments for the impossibility of the world’s temporal eternity, one sees that the difference between Thomas’ school on the one hand, and these two schools on the other, is that Thomas has regarded both sides as possible, while the Peripatetic philosophers and theologians consider only one side of the issue as being possible. See the footnotes of Tahàfat al-falàsifah, (ed. by S. Dunya), and also Tàríkh al-falsafat al-urubiyyah fil ‘asr al-wasit, pp. 183-184.  

[63]. Kant, the great German philosopher from Konigsberg (1724-1804), was a critical philosopher in the field of epistemology and believed in the separation of Phenomenon and Neomen. He is the founder of transcendental philosophy. Among his most famous works are Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, and Prolegomena. In his Critique of Pure Reason, he has a chapter titled “Antinomies”, and presents them as the evidence for the inability of theoretical knowledge to achieve the truth of the world, including the issue of eternity and origination.

[64]. Mullà Sadrà, al-Asfàr, vol. 1, p. 206, and vol. 3, p. 19.

[65]. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 219.

[66]. See, Mafàtíh al-jinàn, Ch. 4.

[67]. Mullà Sadrà, al-Asfàr, vol. 7, p. 266.

[68]. Taken from the expressions of Àyatullàh Jawàdí Àmulí in his Sharh al-hikmat al-muta‘áliyyah, vol. 1, pp. 348-349.

[69]. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 140.

[70]. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 140.

[71]. Ibid., vol. 7, pp. 305-306.

[72]. Ibid., vol. 7, pp. 108-115.

[73]. Ibid., p. 59.

[74]. Ibid., vol. 7, p. 71.

[75]. Ibid., vol. 7, p. 77, and p. 71.

[76]. Ibid., p. 73.

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