Rumi and Mulla Sadra on Theoretical and Practical Reason

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Rumi and Mulla Sadra on Theoretical and Practical Reason

By Prof. Seyed G Safavi

London Academy of Iranian Studies

philosophy@iranianstudies.org

www.iranianstudies.org

SIEPM, XII International Congress of Medieval Philosophy,

Palermo, Italy, 16-22 September 2007

Abstract

Rumi (1207-1273) great Persian sage has used around 34 terms on Reason in his masterpiece Mathnawi that may be categorised into 3 main types:

1- Meta Theoretical and Practical Reason, which are Universal Reason and First Reason.

2- Theoretical Reason, which is for perception of truth and untruth. These are faithful reason, perfect reason, honourable reason and Divine seeing reason.

3- Practical reason, which is for distinction of Good and Evil. These are material reason, resurrection reason, partial reason, popular reason, and brief reason.

According to Rumi everyone has Reason, which, upon finding a perfect man, may help him to transcendent from Particular Reason to Universal Reason.

According to Mulla Sadra (979-1571) great Iranian Muslim philosopher, there are 4 types of Theoretical and Practical Reason, based on perfection. Theoretical Reason ascends from “material reason” (‘aql hayuluni), “reason by proficiency” (‘aql bi al-malakeh), “reason in act” (‘aql bi al-fi’l) to the “acquired reason” (‘aql bi al mustafad).

Practical reason may be divided into the following: polishing/refinement of apparent/outer part, polishing the inner part, illuminating the heart, annihilation of soul from its essence.

According to Mulla Sadra’s transcendent philosophy, which is based on “principality of Being” (asalat wujud).each act of knowledge involves the being of the knower and the hierarchy of the faculties of knowledge correspond to the hierarchy of existence.  Reason is in its essence a Divine light.

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In contemporary Western languages the essential difference between intellect (intellectus) and reason (ratio) that one finds in the Middle Ages Christian philosophy is generally forgotten and word intellect is used for all practical purposes as the same of reason. (On the distinction between intellect and reason, see Nasr, “KNOWLEDGE and THE SACRED”, chapter 1 and 4). In Islamic languages a single word ‘aql , is used to indicate both reason and intellect, but the difference between the two as well as their interrelationship and the dependence of reason upon the intellect is always reserved in mind. Al ‘aql in Arabic language is from root ‘ql, which means to bind. It means it is the faculty that bind man to the Truth, to God, to his Source and Beginning. ‘Aql is also used as reason and intelligence.

In Islamic thought, practical reason is the use of reason to decide how to act. This contrasts with theoretical reason (often called speculative intellect) which is the use of reason to decide what to believe. For example: scientists use practical reason to decide how to build a telescope, but theoretical reason to decide which of two theories of light and optics is the best.

Rumi (1207-1273) the great 13th Persian ‘Arif/sage, has used around 34 terms on Reason/Intellect in his masterpiece Mathnawi that may be categorised into 3 main types:

1- Meta Theoretical and Practical Reason, which are Universal Intellect/Reason and First intellect/Reason. God generates the First intellect. The universal intellect/ ‘AQL KULL is the first creation of God, through which He then creates the universe.

2- Theoretical Reason/Intellect, which is for perception of truth and untruth, and differentiates truth from falsehood, right from wrong. These are faithful reason ‘AQL-E IMANI, perfect reason ‘AQL KAMIL, honourable reason/’AQL SHARIF and Divine reason/ ‘AQL RABANI

According to Rumi the origin of intellect is Universal Intellect ‘AQL-E KULL. (See Rumi, Mathnawi, book 1, verses 1906-1910).

Faithful intellect is the intellect which is based on faith and looking for knowledge and perfection. (R.M.B4, V1987, 1983-1992). It has deep and strong connection with spiritual world.

‘AQL KAMIL/perfect intellect (R.M.B5,V739) is seeing truth and looking towards the  Absolute Truth and the Creator of the Universal Intellect.  It is receiving knowledge from the Absolute Wise / ‘Alim.

The honourable reason / ‘AQL SHARIF (R.M.B2.V 3514 and 3514-3520), which is the intellect that has capacity to find and see the truth. NAFS AMARIH/ carnal soul and physical senses are its opposites. They try to stop it to access to truth. This intellect is NUR-E LATIF/ fine light. ‘AQL JALIL/the glorious-great intellect (R.M.B1, V 3325), which is the intellect travelling towards God (SAYR-E ILA ALLAH)and able to understand secrets of HAQ is another term that Rumi used, which is very closed to the ‘AQL SHARIF.

The Divine reason /‘Aql Rabani, which is intellect that never sees anything without seeing God therein.

The divine intellect is the intellect of the mystic who has reached union with God and who has submerged his intellect in the universal intellect and has therefore become divine.

The divine intellect is capable of understanding and discovering the realities of the the material/physical world and the Divine/metaphysical world, and existence as a whole.

The process of the transformation and perfection of the particular intellect into the divine intellect is by the revolution, changes and transformations that occur in the mystics understanding and spiritual needs, the necessary requirement of which is severing one ties and attachments to the world. ( see Discourse five to eight in The structure of book 3 in Rumi’s Mathnai as a whole, Seyed G Safavi, Rumi International Conference, Istanbul, May 2007).

3- Practical reason, which is for distinction of Good and Evil. These are material reason, resurrection reason, partial reason, popular reason, and brief reason.

The discursive reason ‘AQL MA’ASH (R.M.B1.V. 1065), which has only attention to the material world and gaining benefit from material issues. ‘AQL MAASH, which is superseded by ‘AQL MA’AD. ( See Discourse four and eight in The Structure of Rumi’s Mathnawi, Safavi),

The resurrection reason /‘AQL MA’AD (R.M..B1, V.14- IN HOWSH), which is in contrast with the material reason, that is reason which always has attention to God for all of his acts and manners in personal and social life. This reason is connected to the spiritual world and its judgments are according to divine values. That is for those who have escaped from the bondage of the carnal or discursive reason/ ‘AQL MA’ASH. ( See Discourse four and eight in The Structure of Rumi’s Mathnawi, Safavi),

The partial reason ‘AQL JOZEI (R.M.B1, V 2881, 3503, B3, V.15590, 3585, B4, V.1247, 3031, B5, 460-468), which is the reason that only thinks of the material life. Particular reason can accomplish the control of the NAFS-I AMARIH, with the clear example in the story “the Caliph, the Arab of the Desert and his wife in book one of Rumi’s Mathnawi” of the ‘AQL/ intellect being taken in by NAFS/soul and being infected with worldliness. ( see Discourse one to four in The structure of book 3 in Rumi’s Mathnai as a whole. Seyed G Safavi, Rumi International Conference, Istanbul, May 2007).

The popular reason/ ‘AQL ‘AWAM (R.M.B4, V. 3287 and 3288-3300), which is reason that can’t understand transcendent and divine’s values.

The brief reason /‘AQL MOKHTASAR (R.M.B4, V. 2174, 2170-2178), which is reason that doesn’t distinguished between pure and tainted/ impure acts.

According to Rumi everyone has Reason, which, upon finding a perfect man, may help him to transcendent from Particular Reason to Universal Reason.

According to Mulla Sadra (1571-1641),the great 17th century Iranian Muslim philosopher, Nafs-e Natiqeh (rational soul) is the distinguishing factor between mankind and animals. This faculty can understand KOLYYAT/ universals and JOZEIYAT/particulars and is also MOTOSARIF/ possessing in meanings and forms. This faculty has two sub-faculties/QOWEH which are called the Theoretical Intellect and the Practical reason, because of mankind potentiality to learn knowledge from his superior which is the “world of intellects”/ ‘ALAM-E ‘UQUL or the Active intellect and his ability to manage that which is inferior/MADUN to it. Theoretical intellect understands TASAWORAT//ideas and TASDIQAT/judgments and is able to identify truth and falseness Practical reason comprehends mankind’s acts and manners and identifies good and bad acts and manners. There are four types of Theoretical and Practical reason, based on perfection. (Mulla Sadra, ISHRAQ 8 ,MASHAHD 3 in Al-Shawahid al-rububiyyah,.Mulla Sadra,  Mathnawi,.Mulla Sadra, Fi Itahad-I al-‘aqil wa al-m’qul, in Majmieh Rasael Falsafi-I Sadr al-Mot’alehin,)

Theoretical Intellect ascends from “material reason” (‘aql hayuluni), “reason by proficiency” (‘aql bi al-malakeh), “reason in act” (‘aql bi al-fi’l) to the “acquired reason” (‘aql bi al mustafad). The human being possesses intelligence in virtuality. The four devisions of the theoretical reason are as follows: the first division, is called material or potential intelligence / BIL-QUWWAH, on accounts of its similarity to prime matter-HAYULA– in being devoid of intelligible an with respect to its potentiality in relation to all forms. The second, is As the soul grows in knowledge the first intelligible forms are placed in the soul from the above, and man attains to the stage of the habitual intelligence/ BI ALMALAKAH, which is the plane wherein it understands self-evident concepts (TASAWWURAT) and judgments (TASDIQAT); for the knowledge of self evident matters (BADIHIYAT) precedes the knowledge of speculative matters (NAZARIYYEH). The third, Further on, as the intellect becomes fully actualised in the mind, man reaches the stage of actual intellect / BI LF’IL, which understands speculative matters through the mediation of self-evident concepts and judgments, though some of them are based on the other; and the fourth, as this process is completed, the acquired intelligence /MUSTAFAD, which is the intellect that partakes of all self-evident and speculative intelligibles corresponding to the realities of the higher and lower realms of existence by virtue of having all of them present before it and its actual consciousness of them is reached. Thus it is a “knowledge world” similar to the external world. Finally above these stages stands the Active intellect ‘aql-I Fa’al., which is Divine, and illuminates the mind through the act of knowledge. (see Mulla Sadra, ISHRAQ 9-12, MASHHAD 3 in Shawahi al robobyyeh and Allameh M.H. Tabatabaei, the elements of Islamic Metaphysics, chapter 7 and chapter 6, part 11 in Nihayat al hikmat, Nasr, Islamic Philosophy from its Origin to the Present, Chapter 6).

Practical reason may be divided into the following: firstly, the polishing/refinement of apparent/outer part, secondly, polishing the inner part, thirdly, illuminating the heart, and finally the annihilation of the soul from its essence.  (see Mulla Sadra, ISHRAQ 13, MASHHAD 3 in Shawahi al robobyyeh).

The first is practicing the orders of divine messengers. Such as praying, fasting, avoiding wine, free sex, gambling, theft, killing people and etc.

The second is to get far a way from bad moral activity which could transfer the light heart into the dark heart such as, DOROGH/lying, TOHMAT/accusation, defamation, GHAYBAT/backbiting, GHOROR/pride, KEBR/ arrogance, anger, selfishness etc.

“‘AQLHA DYDAM BISAN-I NURHA ## LIK PINHAN GASHTIH DAR NAR-I HAWA”

“CHASHM-I ‘AQL AR CHAND BASHAD ‘EIN-I NUR ## KHAK-I SHAHWAT SAZADASH DAR GUR KUR”

“CHASH ‘AQL AR CHAND BASHAD NUR-I PAK ## KUR MIGARDAD CHU DIL BANDAD BIH KHAK”(Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p162).

“عـقــل ها ديــدم بسـان نــورهـا      لـيـک پنـهان گـشتـه در نـار هــوی

چشم عقل ار چند باشد عيـن نور     خاک شهوت سازدش در گور کور

چشم عقل ار چند باشد نور پاک     کور می گردد چو دل بندد به خاک”

(Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p162).

“   I have seen intellects the like of lights

But they are hidden by the fire of lust

The eye of intellect although like light

Blind it is turned in the grave by the soil of lust

The eye of intellect although pure light

Blind it is turned when it falls for soil” (Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p162).

“‘AQL U SHAHWAT ZIDD-I YEKDIGAR BUWAD ## CHUN KELID U QUFL BAR YEK DAR BUWAD”

‘AQL-I TU KHAOBID CHUN SHAHWAT BIKHAST ## ZANKIH SHAHWAT ZIDD-I ‘AQL AST U SAKHAST”

“SHAHWAT BAR KHAOST ‘AQL KARD KHAOB ## ‘AQL KHAOB ‘ALUD ,KEY BASHAD SAWAB”

“SHAHWAT ASKHAK AST U ‘AQL AZ KIRDIGAR ## KIRDIGAR U KHAK RA BA HAM CHEKAR” (Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p163).

عقـل و شهـوت ضــد يکــديگـر بـود     چـون کلـيـــد و قـفــل بــر يـک در بــود

عقل تو خوابيد چون شهوت بخاست     زان که شهوت ضد عقل است و سخاست

شهـوتت بـرخـاست عقـلت کـرد خــواب     عقـل خواب آلـود، کـی باشد صـواب

شهـوت از خاک است و عقـل از کـردگار     کـردگار و خـاک را با هـم چـه کار

(Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p163).

“Countering each other intellect and lust

As luck and key on one door they are

Once lust awoke your intellect slept

As countering intellect and generosity is lust.

Your lust awoke and your intellect slept

When is a drowsy intellect right

Lust is from soil and from the creator is the intellect

What are the creator and soil to one other”(Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p163).

The third, is the illuminating of the heart is by the light of “knowledge forms” (SOWAR-E ILMIYYEH) and praiseworthy attributes. and the fourth, is the annihilation of the soul from its essence which can only be achieved by having attention to God and His holy presence. (see Mulla Sadra, Shawahi al rububeyyeh, Ishraq 13).


According to Mulla Sadra’s transcendent philosophy, which is based on the “principality of Being” (asalat wujud).each act of knowledge involves the being of the knower. And the hierarchy of the faculties of knowledge correspond to the hierarchy of existence. Reason is in its essence a Divine light and practical reason is based on Theoretical intellect which in essence is the illuminative intellect.


“NAFS CHUN KAMIL SHUD AZ ‘ILM U ‘AMAL ## ‘UQDEH GITY BAR U  GARDAD HALL”

“HAR DU QUWAT RU BEH ‘ILLYYN NIHAND ## JOMLIGI JISM U RAWAN RA JAN DIHAND” (Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p165).

“نفس چون کامل شد از علــم و عمــل     عقــده گـيتـی بـر او گـرديـد حــل

هــر دو قـوت رو به عـليـيـن نهـنــد      جملگـی جسم و روان را جان دهند”

(Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p165).


“Once the soul is perfected from knowledge and act

Solved for it is the problem of the world


Both attributes are eminent

As they both give life to the body and soul”(Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, p165).

Conclusion:

Intellect makes no mistake. It’s that other thing that makes mistakes.(Chittick, Me and Rumi, The Autobiography of Shams-I Tabrizi, p22, see also Chittick’s point of view on intellect according to Rumi in p 381).

Purification of the soul/heart from its material defilement, TAJARUUD/catharsis is of utter importance for both Rumi and Mulla Sadra, for having pure theoretical and practical reason. Also both emphasised that only by connecting to the universal intellect, man’s intellect can  guide him to the truth/HAQIQAT and to good acts/’AMAL HASAN.

Both believe that the purification of the intellect is by spiritual love.  And ‘AQL/intellect and JAN/RUH/spirit are used by both to denote the Divine Essence under different aspects.

In Islamic thought, a millennium of discussion on the relations between demonstration / BURHAN related to the faculty of intellect/reason, mysticism/ ‘IRFAN related to the faculty of the heart/intellect associated with inner intuition and illumination, and Qur’an or revelation related to the prophetic function reaches its peak in the synthesis of Mulla Sadra’s transcendent philosophy.


Note. Abbreviations: R. Rumi, M.Mathnawi, B.book, V.verse.


References:


1-Rumi,Mathnawi, edited by Estelami, Mohammad, Tehran, 1379.

2-Rumi, Fihi ma Fih, edited, Foruzanfar, Badi’al Zaman,Tehran, 1983.

3-Shams- Tabrizi, Me & Rumi, translated by Chittick, William, Kentucky, 2004.

4-Shams- Tabrizi, Maqalat Sham-Tabrizi, edited by Movahhed.Mohammad.Ali, Tehran, 1369.

5-Mulla Sadra, Al-Shawahid al-rububiyyah, Tehran, 1987.

6-Mulla Sadra, Mathnawi, edited by Fayzi, Mustafa, Qum.1376.

7-Mulla Sadra, Fi Itahad-I al-‘aqil wa al-m’qul, in Majmieh Rasael Falsafi-I Sadr al-Mot’alehin, edited by Naji Isfahani, Hamid, Tehran, 1996.

8-Tabataba’i, Allamah, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, Bidayat al-Hikmah, traaslated to English by Qara’I, Sayyid Ali Quli, London 2003.

9-Tabataba’i, Allamah, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, Nihayat al-Hikmah, Tehran, 1370.

10-Tabataba’i, Allamah, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, Usul Falsafeh wa Rawish Realism, commentarh by Mutahhari, Murtaza, Qum.

11-Nasr Seyyed Hossein, Knowledge and the Sacred, New York, 1981.

12-Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Islamic Philosophy from its Origin to the Present, chapter 6, New York, 2006.

13- Safavi, Seyed G, The Structure of Rumi’s Mathnawi, London, 2006.

14-Safavi,Seyed G, The structure of book 3 in Rumi’s Mathnai as a whole, Rumi International Conference, Istanbul, May 2007).

15-Safavi, Seyed G, .Rumi’s Thought, Tehran 2003,

16-Safavi, Seyed G, Perception according to Mulla Sadra, Tehran,2002..

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