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In the Name of God بسم الله
Follower of Ahlulbayt

Saduq vs. Mufid – Human Actions

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Salam,

So, recently I have been reading about causality and the relationship between God as the First Cause, and the causal power of the creation. Specifically, these two works (1, 2) were quite helpful. 

Basically, there are three views when it comes to causality:

Occasionalism: Every act in this world is God's action and God is the cause of every single act and nothing from the creation has any causal power at all.

Mere conservationism: God creates and conserves His creatures and their causal powers. However, He doesn't actually contribute to the acts and the creatures cause things by themselves. 

Concurrentism: Both the creatures and God cause the acts in the world. The creatures do have causal power, but can only cause things as long as God is the concurring cause.  "A natural effect is produced immediately by both God and created substances"

Now, of course, after reading the two articles linked above, I inclined towards concurrentism. But, after reading some of the statements from our classical scholars, I would like some clarifications.

Shaykh al-Saduq in his A SHI'ITE CREED states:

Quote

Our belief concerning human actions is that they are created (makhluqa), in the sense that Allah possesses foreknowledge (khalq taqdir), and not in the sense that Allah compels mankind to act in a particular manner by creating a certain disposition (khalq takwin). And the meaning of all this is that Allah has never ceased to be aware of the potentialities (maqadir) of human beings.

My first question is, what position is Shaykh al-Saduq supporting here? To me, it seems like he his advocating concurrentism, but then after reading the footnote, it seems like he is explaining mere conservationism.

Then, I went to Shaykh al-Mufid, and everything just got more confusing. Basically, he refutes Shaykh al-Saduq here and argues for something like mere conservationism. His main objection was to do with the fact that if Allah causes human actions with or without humans having causal power, then He would be blameworthy for the evil human actions (and he quotes a narration to support this argument).

My questions:

Did any other classical Shi'a scholar accept concurrentism (what about contemporary scholars)?

Is the narration Shaykh al-Mufid quotes reliable? Are there any reliable and clear narrations which may clarify what the correct position is?

Isn't it the case that if we accept concurrentism, that God doesn't have to be blameworthy for human actions? Take for example, a father who is teaching his son how to write. The son starts writing, but the father has his hand over his son's hand, so that he can guide the son's hand. Now, both the son and father contribute to the writing, and the son would not be able to write without the fathers help. But, if the son deviates, can we really say that the father is blameworthy?

 

Edited by Follower of Ahlulbayt

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Salam, 

The issue you're asking about is referred to in the Riwayat of Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) as:

الجبر و التفويض 

Imam Sadiq (عليه السلام) has said that it's not one nor the other, rather a bit of both:

الصادق (عليه السلام) : (لا جبر ولا تفويض بل أمر بين أمرين)

 

This is what's accepted by all the Shia.

 

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Did some more searching and found these two quotes- they clearly advocate a concurrentist view of secondary causality:

Quote

This theory [Amron Beynol Amrayn] is arisen of the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad and Imams words and saying, and in fact ,has a rational approach towards human and God  acts. It tries to ascribe human's acts to him and God, because it considers human as the cause of his/her freely acts, and also considers God as the real cause.

Source: pgs. 85-86 by Dr.. Qodratullah Qorbani

 

Quote

Also they [the Imamiyyah] rejected the point of view of Mo’tazilah that; ‘God the Almighty gives existence to all the agents and has no role in the acts and affects committed by willing and unwilling agents’. And they found this to be in contradiction with the theory of Divine Act Monotheism, and the ultimate power of God and it also opposes His unique worldly governance.

They believed in a concept between these two ideas, and they called it ‘ a matter between two matters’ which resulted in believing that all the agents including willing and unwilling agents not only do they owe their existence to God the Almighty, but also continuously owe their power of agency and effect to the Lord of the world.

Source: by Ayatullah Mohsen Araki

It seems like both these scholars are confirming concurrentism. 

Obviously, these two scholars are not agreeing with what Shaykh al-Mufid said. But, are they basically outlining what Shaykh al-Saduq said?

Edited by Follower of Ahlulbayt

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More quotes:

Quote

To sum it up, this ‘Middle Course’ means that our deeds are, on one hand, ours in reality, because we are their natural causes and they are under our power and choice and, on the other hand, they are under the authority and within the absolute power of Almighty Allah, because He is the grantor of existence to all things

Source: by Shaykh Muhammad Ridha al-Muzaffar

 

Quote

The way in which the ahl al-bayt clarify the reality of human action is nothing other than the way of the Qur;an. This revealed Scripture occasionally refers action both to its immediate agent and to God, rendering one and the same action susceptible of dual attribution

Source: pg. 60 by Ayatullah Ja’far Sobhani 

I feel like definitely Shaykh al-Muzaffar has a concurrentist view, but it seems like Ayatullah Sobhani may have a mere conservationist view.  

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It is accepted by Shia that 'it's matter between the two' as stated by Imam Sadiq (عليه السلام).

I'm therefore unsure why the view of anyone else matters. The teachings of our Imams is Hujja and the buck stops there. 

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15 hours ago, Moalfas said:

It is accepted by Shia that 'it's matter between the two' as stated by Imam Sadiq (عليه السلام).

I'm therefore unsure why the view of anyone else matters. The teachings of our Imams is Hujja and the buck stops there. 

The issue is what the correct understanding of the hadith is. What does the Imam mean by 'a matter between the two matters'?

It seems like from the scholars I have mentioned, and seemingly from the quote of al-Saduq, the Imam was referring to concurrentism, that actions are caused by us and Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).

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On 10/8/2019 at 12:07 AM, Moalfas said:

Salam, 

The issue you're asking about is referred to in the Riwayat of Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) as:

الجبر و التفويض 

Imam Sadiq (عليه السلام) has said that it's not one nor the other, rather a bit of both:

الصادق (عليه السلام) : (لا جبر ولا تفويض بل أمر بين أمرين)

Does the narration come in any reliable chain and does there exist a reliable narration which explains the meaning of the narration?

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Good luck answering this.

this exact question was my very first dilemma I had as a teenager.  But not a single year goes by where I feel I have an increased understanding of this matter. At the beginning you will naturally attempt to understand this rationally (with your mind). But the real answer is found to the degree that you know more about who you really are (by ma’rifa).  There is a reason why the Imams just left it seemingly ambiguous by saying it is “between the two matters”.  
 

So all I can say is good luck inshallah.  May God increase our understanding in this matter.

 

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محمد بن إسماعيل ، عن الفضل بن شاذان ، عن حماد بن عيسى ، عن إبراهيم بن عمر اليماني ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال إن الله خلق الخلق فعلم ما هم صائرون  إليه وأمرهم ونهاهم فما أمرهم به من شيء فقد جعل لهم السبيل إلى تركه ولا يكونون آخذين ولا تاركين إلا بإذن الله.

(It has been narrated) from Abu Abdullah having said: 'He created the creation and He knew what they will do. He commanded [to do things] and prohibited them [from things]. He has not commanded them to do a thing except that He placed for them a way to abandon it. They do not take to it or abandon it except by Allah’s permission' al-Kafi

This is a pretty reliable narration in al-Kafi that I believe may support concurrentism (although I could be wrong).  The hadith seemingly makes it clear that we have causal powers, but we cannot cause things except by Allah's permission. Now, one may say that the statement 'except by Allah's permission' means that we cannot cause things unless Allah also causes them. I'm not sure though

Quote

عدة من أصحابنا ، عن أحمد بن محمد البرقي ، عن علي بن الحكم ، عن هشام بن سالم ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال الله أكرم من أن يكلف الناس ما لا يطيقون والله أعز من أن يكون في سلطانه ما لا يريد

(It has been narrated) from Abu Abdullah having said: ‘He said: Allah is more gracious than to order the people to do what they are incapable of, and Allah is more majestic than to allow what He does not want in His domain.' al-Kafi

I think this Sahih narration in al-Kafi also somewhat supports concurrentism. Allah does will not punish us for what we did not have the ability to do, meaning we have causal power and can cause things. But, at the same time, nothing happens except by His will (يريد), meaning nothing happens except that He also causes it. 

Edited by Follower of Ahlulbayt

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Another thing that must be considered in this discussion are the Qur'anic verses which clearly mention how Allah creates our actions:

While Allah created you and that which you do? (37:96) 

and

Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is, over all things, Disposer of affairs. (39:62)

Of course, these verse do not necessarily prove occasionalism. Concurrentism is the other option- which is the only plausible option considering Allah's justice. 

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8 hours ago, Follower of Ahlul Bayt said:

Does the narration come in any reliable chain and does there exist a reliable narration which explains the meaning of the narration?

Inshallah I'll try to pull the full narration and translate it over the weekend.

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4 hours ago, Moalfas said:

Inshallah I'll try to pull the full narration and translate it over the weekend.

From my understanding, when the Imams say "not jabr" meaning not compulsion, he is referring to the belief that Allah is the only cause of actions. So by this statement "لا جبر", the Imam means that we cause our actions. But, to do away with the assumption that ONLY we cause our actions and Allah doesn't also cause them, the Imam then clarifies "and not a delegation of power" (ولا تفويض). So the matter between the two matters seems to be that both us and Allah cause actions.

This seems to be reasonable.

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9 hours ago, Follower of Ahlul Bayt said:

Another thing that must be considered in this discussion are the Qur'anic verses which clearly mention how Allah creates our actions:

While Allah created you and that which you do? (37:96) 

and

Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is, over all things, Disposer of affairs. (39:62)

Of course, these verse do not necessarily prove occasionalism. Concurrentism is the other option- which is the only plausible option considering Allah's justice. 

1) You should also consider Tabattabai’s analysis regarding Khidr and Moses In the Qur'an, how the pronouns change from “We”, to “I” (Khidr), to “He” (God).  Long story short, Tabattabai mentions that the switching of pronouns in relation to their context indicate that Whatever One does that is praiseworthy is attributed to God alone and whatever one does that is blameworthy is attributed to the human being, and finally, whatever is partially praiseworthy and partially blameworthy is attributed to God and the human (God in as much as it is praiseworthy and the human inasmuch as it is blameworthy).  
 

2) You should also consider what Tawhid al-Afaal is all about, and how human free will could possibly contradict this aspect of Tawhid.  
 

If I am asked regarding this matter I would say that our free will is exactly the kind of free will you have in your dream state.  In your dream state you dream of doing this and doing that only to find out that all of your actions  in the dream belong to the Dreamer and not to the body in the dream that once mistakenly identified yourself with.  Can you really say that you had free will in the dream state?  Yes and no.  You have free will in the dream state only inasmuch as you are ignorantly owning up to or identifying yourself as a doer of those dream actions.  Only inasmuch as you do not realize that everything is done by the Dreamer do you have some kind of free will.   Is this free will real?  That depend on how you answer the following question: Are your dreams real?  
 

So in the same way, as far as our lives in the waking state are concerned, there is a Dreamer that is dreaming all of existence.  This Dreamer is God.  Everything exists in, by and through His Dream.  So, Creator simply means Dreamer.    for God to create simply means That God Dreams, and as a result all of the the worlds or cosmos comes to be.  God is indeed the creator or dreamer of all that exists and everything you do!  

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Guest Light
52 minutes ago, eThErEaL said:

So, Creator simply means Dreamer.    for God to create simply means That God Dreams, and as a result all of the the worlds or cosmos comes to be.  God is indeed the creator or dreamer of all that exists and everything you do!  

 لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ

Creator simply means Dreamer!!!!

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2 hours ago, Guest Light said:

 لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ

Creator simply means Dreamer!!!!

I had a feeling someone would try to be smart about it.
but, I did not say sleeper. Nice try!

in any case, if you cannot appreciate the analogy here then that is alright.  It isn’t meant for you.  

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Another sect, the Mufawwidhah (Indeterminists), argue that Almighty Allah has given absolute authority to the creatures to do whatever they do and removed His act and determination from their acts. This is because these indeterminists believe that to ascribe all actions to Almighty Allah results in ascribing imperfection to Him; and all existent beings have their own causes even though all these causes stem from the Creator of all causes and the First Cause; namely, Almighty Allah.

As a matter of fact, those who adopt this conception have cancelled out the full power of Almighty Allah over all things and have decided a partner to Him in creation!

Source: by Shaykh Muhammad Ridha al-Muzaffar

I thought I might add this explanation by Shaykh al-Muzaffer. It clearly seems like the shaykh is describing mere conservationism, and affirms that this belief is tafwid.

Edited by Follower of Ahlulbayt

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On 10/12/2019 at 2:02 AM, Follower of Ahlul Bayt said:

From my understanding, when the Imams say "not jabr" meaning not compulsion, he is referring to the belief that Allah is the only cause of actions. So by this statement "لا جبر", the Imam means that we cause our actions. But, to do away with the assumption that ONLY we cause our actions and Allah doesn't also cause them, the Imam then clarifies "and not a delegation of power" (ولا تفويض). So the matter between the two matters seems to be that both us and Allah cause actions.

This seems to be reasonable.

This is correct and the Imam (عليه السلام) further clarifies when asked if there's a third middle ground between the two. He (عليه السلام) says 'yes it's wider than the skies and the Earth' 

Sorry I have not had the chance to translate but her's further info and the Riwayat you asked about in Arabic.

https://www.al-khoei.us/books/?id=5851

Let me know if Arabic is doable otherwise I'll translate it inshallah.

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