Intellect becomes one with the Command of God when command is expressed as oneness

  July 09, 2022   Read time 3 min
Intellect becomes one with the Command of God when command is expressed as oneness
Articulation of the hierarchy of intellects is one of the pioneering innovations of the Muslim theologians. Avicenna represents the highly creative philosophical mind that has dealt with this topic.

Intellect becomes one with Oneness in recognizing the Creator by virtue of the fact that, whenever it is about to seize something external to its own essence through the ordinary method of knowing things—that is, by considering whetherness, or the ‘isness’ of things; quiddity, or the ‘[what-]thingness’ of things; quality, or the ‘howness’ of things; quantity, or the ‘howmuchness’ [of things]; cause, or the ‘whyness’ of things—in short, whenever the intellect is about to make these divisions, the light of God keeps it from doing so and makes it necessary for it to confirm pure transcendent Oneness which in no way whatsoever multiplies nor is susceptible of alteration. As a result, the Prime Intellect’s confirmation of the Creator is far beyond whatever marks the creatures; it is confirmation of One, not of many. Accordingly, just as Oneness does not undergo alteration from its state of being one and remains perpetually in one and the same state, so the apprehension of the Prime Intellect does not undergo alteration from one and the same state. Moreover, just as the Oneness of God has no parallel among the causes, so the First Caused [= the Intellect] has no parallel among the caused. Therefore, the Preceder’s [=the Intellect’s] apprehension has no parallel among the apprehensions. And just as every [secondary] cause is in need of the superiority of this Cause [i.e., Oneness], so every caused is in need of the superiority of this Caused [i.e., the Intellect], and every apprehension and confirmation asserting the Oneness of the Creator is in need of that apprehension and confirmation which belongs exclusively to the Prime Intellect. This is how Intellect becomes one with the Command of God when Command is expressed as Oneness. Understand this!

Intellect becomes one with the Oneness of God in still another way, and that is by apprehending itself. The Oneness of God is a cause which is unique among all the causes since it eliminates from itself whatever would qualify it as a thing or a being; indeed, Oneness is itself the cause of beings and things. Now, as Intellect looks at things, it sees every thing as manifest in itself and sees nothing beneath itself. Although there are things that are substantially removed from it, and its judgments [regarding them] vary, when Intellect looks at itself from the point of view of Oneness, it sees things not as multiple and diverse; no, it sees pure origination (ibdāʿ-i maḥḍ) and nothing but the sheer act of making-to-be (hast kardan-i mujarrad), without any difference. It becomes, then, one with Oneness in the manner just explained. Understand this!

There is still another way for Intellect to become one with Oneness, and that is by apprehending Oneness. It [does so by] knowing that the Command of God reached the things altogether to bring them into being. It is impossible that there be another Command, by which [second] Command another thing would turn into being from not-being, because the Command of God right from the beginning passed over no useful thing without bringing it from not-being into being. Another Command cannot possibly be found because the beings altogether occupied the space of Creation completely and permanently, so that no space at all was left for any occurrence of not being. Thus, Intellect became one with Oneness and recognized Oneness at this stage because [of its knowledge that] to find any other being is excluded, just as [there is no way that] not-being would ever appear. Understand this!

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