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In the Name of God بسم الله

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  • Advanced Member

Dear friends,

 

Just a question about some concepts I've come across in my modest, and no doubt inadequate, study of islamic doctrine and philosophy. I hope there are some people he that can enlighten me with the backgrounds I need.

 

There is the concept of "pre-existence". The notion which I almost automatically associate with a neo-platonist philosophical outlook; the concept of immaterial perfect ideas that exist before the creation of material being and that somehow manifest themselves in material creation because they mediate all perfect forms that manifest themselves in created material beings.

 

These categories obviously had a great influence on the development on Christian theology, to the extend that some doctrines have been developed which Muslims now deem to be going too far and indeed to be a lapse in idolatry. But let's leave that aside for the moment.

 

But the core as I perceive it is; the idea of pre-existence has become quite a guiding principle in some regards. In the Gospel of John this can be seen with the concept of the Word (Logos) that became flesh; he was before all times and came into the world to be rejected by the Jews who were not able to recognize him. The Church Fathers clearly saw the Logos as the model of creation itself; it was through the Logos that God created men, the rejection of the Logos was as such a rejection of the essential core of what it means to be human, to be created in the image God and called to worship Him in love and obedience.

 

As it were: the Logos represents an immaterial perfect idea of what it essence of human ontology. All human existence is as it were mediated through the pre-existent Word. The crux is of course whether you define the Logos as created or uncreated; this is where the whole discussion about the Trinity starts but again I hope we can leave that aside for this moment.

 

My question is how do Muslim scholars look at this concept of the pre-existence? Are there any sayings by the Imams that could shed light on this? I think I've came across some notion of the Qur'an as having a certain pre-existent statute and in some (analogical/philosophical?) form even Imam Ali? How can I understand this better?

 

And how to see the concept of 'Aql? Like the Greek concepts of Logos and Sophia? Or is altogether different?

 

How can enlighten me in this? I am keen to learn more.

 

God bless,

 

Leto

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  • Veteran Member

I've done some study on "The Word". If you were to start with the NT then John 1:1 would make no sense at all. If you go back to Genesis around chapter 15 the Word is an active being. Of course this Word indwelt Jesus. I'm thinking that not only did the Word indwell Jesus but spoke through Him at times which is why some of what Jesus said doesn't make sense for a normal human to say. Jesus is also referred to as the light of the world. I get the feeling the Word was created the moment God said "Let there be light"

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  • Veteran Member

My question is how do Muslim scholars look at this concept of the pre-existence? 

 

Hi Leto

 

I do not know about scholars.

 

But my understanding is that 'time' is a creation of God.

 

It is not an absolute reality.

 

I think I've came across some notion of the Qur'an as having a certain pre-existent statute and in some (analogical/philosophical?) form even Imam Ali? 

 

That, I think, is a way of speech.

 

it is a way of describing his personality and devotion to God.

 

Just as the Quran represents the word of God, every single word and thought and deed of Imam Ali's also does.  

 

And how to see the concept of 'Aql? Like the Greek concepts of Logos and Sophia? Or is altogether different?

 

I do not know Greek or the concepts of Logos & Sophia.

 

But as far as I think, 'aql' is anther creation of God.

 

It is a tool given in varying measures to different species to help them conduct their business in life.

 

It also varies from one individual to another, within the same species, as God's gift, to be used in His service.

 

But contrary to His Will, we might use it to create machines and weapons to kill people.  

 

In any case, I don't think it has always existed.

 

Like time, it is a creation of God.

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Thanks for your reaction. The nature of time is an intesting thing in itself. Time does not have an absolute existence. The classic aristotelian approach, which seems very logical to me, is the simple observation that time is the measure of the motion of material objects. To put it in syllogistic terms:

 

Motion is the foundation of time.

But matter necessarily involves motion.

Therefore, matter necessarily involves time.

 

So pre-existence is that what existed "before" (in fact it is completely outside the "order of time", like God Himself is) matter came into being, before the creation of this world. Like the existence of angels.

 

The question is whether there are things that have come, by decree of God, into this material world that already had an existence in the immaterial world. In the form of Ideas (to us a neo-platonic concept). To speculate a bit along neo-platonic lines: these Ideas could have serves as kind of blueprints of the material world; the perfect forms of what later would manifest themselves in the world. The perfect light of God that enlightens this world.

 

All of this is analogical language of course. I don't know if any of the great scholars of kalam have touches upon these questions or not. But I would suspect they would being great scholars of philosophy and theological discourse.

 

It is not an easy topic and it touches upon some very abstract and even speculative elements of philosophy. But it certainly intrigues me.

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The question is whether there are things that have come, by decree of God, into this material world that already had an existence in the immaterial world. In the form of Ideas (to us a neo-platonic concept). 

 

As  I said, I am not aware of official Islamic or scholarly opinion.

 

But in my view, the question of 'ideas' preexisting does not make sense because an idea is an idea only if it can be implanted in a head.

 

Until there is a head to receive or contemplate an idea, it is all nothing really. 

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In platonism the term "idea" has a different meaning as it has in contemporary English (and many other languages). It refers to substantial immaterial realities that are actually superior, and more real, than the material world. In a certain way you could see it is as the "immaterial foundation" of the cosmological order.

 

Just from Wikipedia:

 

 

Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change know to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word form or idea is often capitalized... Plato spoke of Forms in formulating a possible solution to the problem of universals.

 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_forms

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  • Veteran Member

Hi Leto,

Quote: The Church Fathers clearly saw the Logos as the model of creation itself; it was through the Logos that God created men.

Response: ‘The Word was in the beginning with God,’ and in a book I have, it says:

Quote: To the Jews the “Word” meant the creative power of God Himself, to the Greeks, the term “Word” meant “Logos,” --- the reason and power for the universe. --- End of quote.

--- While we can’t understand the depth of this, we have to accept in our limited knowledge, Almighty God was, “The First Cause.”

However, when you ask about Islam and the Quran in relationship to ‘the Word that became flesh’ in Jesus,’ --- There are these verses in Surah 3:

45 Behold! the angel said: "O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God;

--- That speaks of the ‘pre-existence’ of the Word, when it is capitalized, --- and one translation includes the ‘action’;

45 Hilali Khan: (Remember) when the angel said: "O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word ["Be!" - and he was! i.e. 'Iesa (Jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary)] from Him, his name will be the Messiah 'Iesa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah."

46 "He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous."

47 She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: God createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!

Also it speaks the same in Surah 19:

35 It is not befitting to (the majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, "Be", and it is.

And it compares Jesus with Adam in this verse in Surah 3:

59 The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be". And he was.

While Muslims may not relate this to ‘pre-existence,’ --- it does speak in the Quran of the ‘Word’ coming from God.

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  • Advanced Member

I am sure some more knowledgeable brother will shed light on this matter.

As far as I remember. That Allah created every soul before this world was created. They all proclaimed ONENESS of Allah. And then were sent to this world.

And even before this and everything that was created Allah created Prophets' (s) Noor(soul) and out of his noor he created imam Ali (a.s) and then hazrat Fatima. And then the rest of the 11 imams. They used to worship and glorify Allah.

That's all I know of preexistent.

May Allah forgive me if I am wrong.

Salam.

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  • Veteran Member

A pdf would be awesome.

As I see pre-existence; One God created all, and we pretend we understand it all.

Everybody's version makes more sense...to them.

I'm not bashing any of us. At least we take the trouble to research. Most outside this forum respond with "huh?"

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A pdf would be awesome.

As I see pre-existence; One God created all, and we pretend we understand it all.

Everybody's version makes more sense...to them.

I'm not bashing any of us. At least we take the trouble to research. Most outside this forum respond with "huh?"

 

I sent you a PM.

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