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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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Causes and Effects in The Revival of the Religious Sciences

Causes and Effects in The Revival of the Religious Sciences

(p.215) 8 Causes and Effects in The Revival of the Religious Sciences
Al-Ghazali's Philosophical Theology

Frank Griffel (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din), a work that was written after the Incoherence (Tahafut), causes and effects play a very important role. Every event in this world is considered caused by another and is also the cause of other events in the future. Yet all these events are “caused” only by the first element of the long causal chains that they are elements of, and that is God. God is the only cause in the universe, and when we talk of his creatures as causes, we do so only by metaphor. Everybody must understand that the usage of “cause” for an object of this world is purely metaphorical. At the same time, we must acknowledge that these causes represent God’s will. This is also true for human actions. The human is only the “vessel” (mahall) of God’s actions. Human actions are triggered by our volition which itself is triggered by our motives. The motives depend on the knowledge that we have and the knowledge of a human goes back to his or her experience and the effects of the active intellect in the heavens. God determines our actions by means of this causal chain. Equally, reward and punishment in this world and in the afterlife are the causal effects of our actions. God has determined the causal laws how actions in this world are rewarded or punished in the next. All these ideas about human actions are very similar to that of Avicenna and show a very strong influence of philosophical theories on human actions. Like Avicenna, al-Ghazali held that this is a fully determined universe in which God controls and determines all events.

Keywords:   human action, kasb, determination, inquiring wayfarer, al-salik al-sa’il, tawhid, possible worlds, best world

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