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Al-Ghazali's Philosophical Theology$
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Frank Griffel

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331622

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331622.001.0001

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Cosmology in Early Islam

Cosmology in Early Islam

Developments That Led to al-Ghazālī’s Incoherence of the Philosophers

(p.123) 5 Cosmology in Early Islam
Al-Ghazali's Philosophical Theology

Frank Griffel (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the two most important views about cosmology held by Muslims in the era of al-Ghazali. The first is the cosmology of the Ash’arite school of Muslim theology, which developed earlier ideas of the Mu’tazilites into what has become knows as occasionalism. Its main components are the atomism of the earlier Mu’tazilites plus the idea that time is a leaped sequence of moments. The latter idea is sometimes called an “atomism of time.” In every moment, God rearranges all the atoms of this world and creates their accidents anew—thus creating a new world every moment that is not causally connected to the one in the moment before. The Muslim philosophers subscribed to a different cosmology where God is regarded as the first cause of all events in this work. Here, God does not act directly on all its creatures but only through the mediation of so-called secondary causes. Every cause is caused by another cause etc. until this chain ends in God, the first cause. The chapter shows how the usual view that these two cosmologies are diametrically opposed to one another cannot be maintained and that al-Juwayni, for instance, al-Ghazali’s teacher, already applies a cosmology where he applies elements of both systems.

Keywords:   al-Juwayni, Avicenna, al-Farabi, Ash’arites, occasionalism, natures, secondary causality, efficient causality, necessity, future contingencies

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