Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Summary of Belief (Tajrīd al-iʿtiqād) and Later Theology in Islam II


What is discussed in Tajrīd al-iʿtiqād of Naṣīr al-dīn al-Ṭūsī [d. 1274]?
The six sections comprise the following:

1. General ontology (umūr ʿāmma) – following the khuṭba in which he starts with describing God as necessary of existence/the Necessary Existent (wājib al-wujūd), it is divided into ‘fuṣūl’/chapters.
The first on being and non-being (al-wujūd wa-l-ʿadam) and is rather long [in fact the longest chapter of the work] covering the following issues: 
i) the fact that there is no definition for being (neither as a ḥadd or a rasm) as nothing is better known or recognised than it (i.e. bidāhat al-wujūd, that being is divided into mental and extra-mental (dhihnī/ʿaynī) and that any definition of being is merely a paraphrase, 
{Technically, an Aristotelian horismos that indicates the essence of a thing is based on the putting together the genus [jins] and differentia [faṣl] of the thing to be defined; in the absence of such specifics, a vaguer definition that indicates the essence of something is a rasm}
ii) that being is mentally distinct and additional to quiddity (ziyāda ʿalā l-māhīya) for contingents and that being is not merely a intentio in the mind that corresponds to a quiddity in reality (i.e. the famous Avicennan existence-essence distinction pertaining to contingents, and in terms of the later question, he seems to hold that within the mental distinction it is being that is prior - aṣālat al-wujūd),
iii) that being is a modulated concept (i.e. tashkīk al-wujūd) and a reality (and this involves a clear denial of being more or less by intensity that is latter central to Mullā Ṣadrā’s metaphysics – although contingents are modulated - famously in namaṭ 4 of his Sharḥ al-Ishārāt, al-Ṭūsī argues that there are two issues whose denial means that Rāzī fails to understand Avicenna's metaphysics: tashkīk al-wujūd and the concept of mental existence or wujūd dhihnī), 
iv) that the concept of being is a secondary intelligible (maʿqūla thānīya) and this is co-extensional with the concept of ‘being-a-thing’ (shayʾīya), 
v) that being has three modalities of necessity, possibility, and impossibility (classically following Avicenna), 
vi) and that there are four expressions of being: mental, extra-mental, inscribed (bi-l-kitāba) and pronounced (bi-l-ʿibāra), with the latter two being figurative uses of the former two.
The second is on quiddity (māhīya). It discusses the different types of universal and the five predicables of the Isagoge. The third is on cause and effect (al-ʿilla wa-l-maʿlūl) affirming secondary causality, the four Aristotelian causes (material, efficient, formal, and final) and the notion that causality is a secondary intelligible.

2. Substance and accident (jawhar wa-ʿaraḍ) – Aristotelian substance metaphysics through Avicenna. The first chapter defines substances. The second discusses bodies, the four elements and the basic stuff of ontology. The third rehearses the kalām argument from the finitude of bodies for the creation of the cosmos. The fourth chapter is on separable substances especially souls and involves a denial of the pre-existence or even the eternity a parte ante of souls. The soul is defined as the first entelechy of the natural body (kamāl awwal li-jism ṭabīʿī). The fifth turns to the nine Aristotelian accidents and categoriology and includes a discussion on human epistemology (knowledge is a quality [kayfīya] and is conception and assent [taṣawwur, taṣdīq], priori and posteriori, knowledge is a property of the intellect that is immaterial).

3. Metaphysics (ilāhīyāt, Ithbāt al-ṣāniʿ) focusing on the famous proof for the existence of God that overlaps extensively with the Ithbāt al-bāriʾ genre. The first is a remarkably pithy version of the famous Avicennan burhān al-ṣiddīqīn for the existence of God, dependent on the Aristotelian scientific principle of the impossibility of an infinite regress of actual causes [Physics book 3]. The second is on the divine attributes focusing on God’s knowledge and along the way a strict [Muʿtazilī] denial that God can lie; states, modes, attributes are identical to the divine essence, and God cannot be open to ocular vision; anthropomorphisms require figurative explanation. The third moves onto divine agency and the rational need for justice and for moral good and evil hence to be rationally discernable. Although he does not explicitly mention the Shiʿi (and Muʿtazilī) principle of divine justice, but implies it by insisting that God cannot do an injustice (ẓulm) such as punishing one who does not deserve it. This includes an expression of the famous principle of the facilitating grace (luṭf) that is central to Shiʿi theology and that it is incumbent upon God to bestow grace upon the believer to render his moral obligation.

4. On prophecy (al-nubūwa). After the previous discussions, the remaining sections are short. Here he covers the basics: that the provision of prophecy is a rational good incumbent upon God following the notion of grace (luṭf), the prophets demonstrate their status through proofs in the form of miracles, and that they must be infallible (through a form of the infinite regress argument), and that prophets are superior to angels.

5. On the imamate (al-imāma) – another hotly contested section. The Imam is an act of grace and necessary to be divinely ordained, must be the most excellent of his time (i.e. against the Zaydī possibility of the lesser), must be infallible  (maʿṣūm) through designation (naṣṣ), and why the hadith demonstrate the imamate of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib and that those reports are multiple and not isolated [countering an important Sunni argument found in Ashʿarī works such as al-Inṣāf of Juwaynī], and that the selection of Abū Bakr was a mistake. He includes the various excellences of ʿAlī and the wrongs perpetrated against him. The proof for the Imams after him are said to be clear in the scriptures (i.e. they are not rationally discernible).

6. On the resurrection (al-maʿād) starts with the Muʿtazilī principle of reward and punishment based on the threat and promise (al-waʿīd wa-l-waʿd). He insists upon the eternity of punishment for one who rejects faith and affirms the intercession (shafāʿa) that might follow one’s regret and repentance from sin. He affirms various things in the scriptures such as the punishment in the grave and the bridge crossing into paradise and so forth. He ends with a basic definition of faith (īmān): affirmation in the heart and on the tongue (taṣdīq bi-l-qalb wa-l-lisān).

The Tajrīd is more than an Avicennan text – whilst its metaphysics are philosophical, on a number of theological points it presents the medieval Shiʿi position. He does not discuss his positions on God's knowledge of particulars, or the eternity of the cosmos, or on abrogation, or God's middle knowledge and so forth. It's as if the first 3 maqāṣid are philosophical and the second 3 theological. It's really about time someone took on the study of this textual cycle as a way to make sense of later theological developments and fill in some of the many gaps in Islamic intellectual history that remain. 

The Summary of Belief (Tajrīd al-iʿtiqād) and Later Theology in Islam I

While later Islamic intellectual history is characterised by debates and the commentary culture of the theological summa influenced by different models of Avicennism (through al-Ishārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt, or the works of Athīr al-dīn al-Abharī [d. 1263] or the work of Fakhr al-dīn al-Rāzī [d. 1210]), thinkers and glossators particularly focused upon two cycles of texts, the former more popular in Sunni Ashʿarī circles and the latter generally popular in the Islamic East but especially in Shiʿi circles. 
{The key texts were Sharḥ al-Ishārāt, al-Mabāḥith al-mashriqīya and al-Mulakhkhaṣ of Rāzī, and al-Hidāya fī-l-ḥikma of al-Abharī; al-Mulakhkhaṣ remains in manuscript and really needs to be edited and published; here is a little known ḥāshiya on Rāzī's Sharḥ by Badruddīn Tustarī}

The first was the al-ʿAqāʾid al-ʿAḍudīya of ʿAḍud al-dīn al-Ījī [d. 1355], a creedal Ashʿarī work written in Shiraz, usually read with the commentary (sharḥ) of Jalālal-dīn Davānī [d. 1502], another philosopher and theologian of Shiraz, upon which many glosses were penned in the Ottoman and Indian realms all the way up to and beyond the edition and gloss of the work written by Muḥammad ʿAbduh [d. 1905] based probably on the teaching of Jamāl al-din Afghānī [d. 1897].


{The text was lithographed in Istanbul in 1272/1855 and again in 1904 in Cairo with the glosses of the Indian ʿAbd al-Ḥakīm Siyālkūtī [d. 1656] and Ottoman Aḥmad b. Mūsā Khayālī [d. 1457]; here is the Afghānī gloss}.

The second was Tajrīd al-iʿtiqād of Naṣīr al-dīn al-Ṭūsī[d. 1274], a short and pithy Twelver Shiʿi creed divided into six sections (maqāṣid), mostly taken up with philosophical issues:
1)          General ontology (umūr ʿāmma
2)         Substance and accident (jawhar wa-ʿaraḍ
3)         Metaphysics (ilāhīyāt
4)          On prophecy
5)         On the imamate 
6)        On the resurrection (al-maʿād)
 Most commentaries and glosses seem to have focused on maqāṣid 1-3 and 5. Famously there were three commentaries on this text. The first was by his student ʿAllāma al-Ḥillī[d. 1325] entitled Kashf al-murād, an extensive work that often moves into tangential discussions that represent al-Ḥillī’s positions – and despite the impression one gets from the modern seminary ḥawzeh use of it, this commentary was barely cited or glossed in the pre-modern period. Al-Ḥillī's own Avicennan commitments seem to have been qualified by his theological ones. 

Far more glosses were written on the other two commentaries, considered properly to be the ‘old’ (qadīm) and the ‘new’ (jadīd). The former entitled Tasdīd al-qawāʿid was written by Shams al-din Iṣfahānī [d. 1348] who also wrote a commentary on al-Ishārāt and was a more philosophically minded one. The Shiraz philosopher Sayyid al-Sharīf al-Jurjānī [d. 1413] wrote a famous gloss on it. The latter was by the Timurid and Ottoman thinker ʿAlī al-Qūshchī [d. 1474], upon which the Shirazi philosophers Davānī and Mīr Ṣadr al-dīn Dashtakī [d. 1498] and his son Ghiyāth al-dīn [d. 1542] wrote glosses, as well as the Ottomans Aḥmad al-Khayālī [d. 1467] and Mullā Fanārī-zāde [d. 1481] and the Shirazi Sunni philosopher who fled the Safavid realm Mīrzājān Shīrāzi Bāghnawī [d. 1587], the Shiʿi Shiraz thinkers Shams al-dīn Khafrī [d. 1535] especially on section 3 and Ḥusayn Ilāhī Ardabīlī [d. 1544], the Shiʿi logician Mullā ʿAbdullāh Yazdī [d. 1576], Mīr Fakhr al-dīn Sammākī Astarābadī [d. 1577] a key figure in the middle Safavid period, Ḥusayn Khwānsārī [d. 1689], and Ḥusayn Tunikābunī [d. 1680], a student of Mullā Ṣadrā. 
[It is incorrect to assert that Mullā Ṣadrā himself wrote a gloss – it is common to mistake him with Mīr Ṣadr al-dīn Dashtakī Shīrāzī as many manuscript catalogues do] 

Najm al-dīn Nayrīzī, a Shiʿi theologian of the early Safavid period trained in Shiraz also wrote a commentary: Taḥrīr tajrīd al-iʿtiqād, which remains in manuscript. Therefore numerous glosses were written – studied with their manuscripts by ʿAlī Ṣadrāʾī Khūʾī – with further commentaries such as Shawāriq al-ilhām of ʿAbd al-Razzāq Lāhījī [d. 1661], the son-in-law and student of Mullā Ṣadrā [d. 1635] that defends Avicennan positions against his teacher, and culminating in the excellent al-Barāhīn al-qāṭiʿa fī tajrīd al-ʿaqāʾid al-sāṭiʿa of Muḥammad Jaʿfar Astarābādī [d. 1847], recently published. [Famous also for his takfīr of Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsāʾī] These last two have both been published. 

The Shawāriq seems to have been a major school text especially in the 19th century hence the numerous and important glosses in the margins of the lithograph. It was thus a major conduit for the transmission of Avicennan doctrines into the later period – and hence critique of the Mullā Ṣadrā tradition that was radically revising Avicennism.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New 'edition' of a classic Taẕkira-ye ʿulamāʾ-ye Hind of Raḥmān ʿAlī

The Taẕkira-ye ʿulamāʾ-ye Hind [Tuḥfat al-fuḍalāʾ fī tarājim al-kumalāʾ] of Raḥmān ʿAlī (Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Shakūr), which until now has been available in a well known lithograph of 1312/1893 published by Newal Kishore in Lucknow has been recently re-edited/re-typeset by Majmaʿ-ye zakhāʾir-e islāmī in Qum in 1391 shamsī/2012 by Yūsuf Bēg Bābāpūr. 

The author - known as Raḥmān ʿAlī - was born in 1244/1829 into a scholarly service family – as he describes himself – of Avadh. He seems to have studied first in Fatehpūr (according to his autobiography) and then in Lucknow because he discusses a number of figures whom he met there including the renowned philosopher Fażl-e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī (d. 1862). In 1367/1851 he moved into service of Raghav Raj Singh in the princely state of Rēvān and was briefly ambassador to Jaipur.  He later joined British service and was made khān bahādur as part of the jubilee celebrations in 1887. On pages 116-18 is the biography of Shēr ʿAlī Aḥmadābādī, the father of the author and his first teacher who had been in the service of Āṣaf al-Dawla. It is a valuable source for the ʿulamāʾ of the Chishtī tradition as well as of Lucknow and Avadh (such as the divines of Farangī Maḥall), including major Shiʿi figures (primarily the khāndān-e ijtihād). Some basic accounts are also given for Mughal figures and those from a much earlier period. While some of the longer entries are obvious (such as Sirhindī), others are unusual choices such as Sayyid Muḥammad Jawnpūrī (d. 1505) who claimed to be the mahdī (pages 247-51). On page 304, there is a brief and laudatory notice on Sayyid Nūrullāh Shūshtarī (exe. 1610) mentioning his Shiʿism, ability, Majālis al-muʾminīn and being the judge of Lahore and his death date - it fails to mention that he was executed on the orders of the court. 

In the introduction, the editor mentions some other important tazkira works upon which this work draws (most of which are available in lithograph and numerous manuscripts in relevant libraries):

  • There are plenty of tazkira works from the Chishtī tradition: in particular, here it's worth mentioning Siyar al-aqṭāb of Ilāh-diya Chishtī written in 1056/1646 and which was lithographed by Newal Kishore 
  • Zubdat al-maqāmāt written in 1037/1627 focusing on Naqshbandī Sufis
  • Kalimāt al-ṣādiqayn of Muḥammad Ṣādiq Kashmīrī Hamadānī has 125 biographies and was written in the middle Mughal period (in the first half of the 17th century) 
  • A work that follows on from this is Zikr awliyāʾ-ye Dihlī by Muḥammad Ḥabībullāh Akbarābādī completed in 1140/1728
  • Majmaʿ al-awliyāʾ of Sayyid ʿAlī-Akbar Ḥusaynī Ardistānī from the middle of the 17th century which is particularly important on the Naqshbandī Sufis and Qādirīs presented to the Mughal rulers. The text includes one of the most extensive account of the life of the Sufi poet ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. 1492). There is a wonderfully clear codex of this in the British Library's India Office collection
  • Asrār al-abrār focuses on Sufis of Kashmir
  • Maʿārif al-walāya of Ghulām Muʿīn al-Dīn Khwēshgī Qaṣūrī is a major compendium of Sufis 
  • Sawāṭiʿ al-anwār of Muḥammad Akram completed in 1142/1729 on the Chishtī tradition
  • Rawżat al-awliyāʾ of the famous Mīr Ghulām ʿAlī Āzād Bilgrāmī completed in 1161/1748; the lithograph is easily available 
  • Ẕikr al-aṣfiyāʾ fī takmilat Siyar al-awliyāʾ of Muḥammad Aḥmadpūrī which focuses on the 17th and 18th century biographies of Chishtīs

The re-typesetting is decently done. The main issue seems to be the unfamiliarity of the Indian context and hence sometimes place names are rather garbled or misunderstood (which is a common problem in Iranian studies of Indo-Persian material). There is a contents page at the end with the list of biographies in the work (which is arranged alphabetically). One wishes that the editor did more with this - perhaps attempt to follow up on details of some of the famous figures and give other sources for them in Nuzhat al-khawāṭir and other texts as well as fill in some of the dates and so forth.  There is much that could be done to improve it - somewhat like the new edition of Tunikābunī's Qiṣaṣ al-ʿulamāʾ is a much more user-friendly text than the old lithograph. 


[Incidentally the Urdu translation by Muḥammad Ayyūb Qādirī first printed in Karachi in 1961 is worth using. It is downloadable here.]