as salam `alaykum
I read the following in An Introduction to Classical Islamic Philosophy by Oliver Leaman:
“Examples of beings which are necessarily existent by reason of something else are ‘combustion,’ which is ‘necessarily existent… once contact is taken to exist between fire and matter which can be burned,’ and ‘four‘ which is ‘necessarily existent… when we assume two plus two.'”
My question with regards to this is as follows:
‘Combustion‘ and ‘four‘ are not the same. The only reason it appears to us that combustion is the result of coming into contact with fire is because we have always observed this to be the case. In other words, since the result of coming into contact of fire being ‘combustion‘ is empirically observable, it is not necessary that things always burn when they come into contact with fire. On the other hand, ‘two plus two‘ is one of the definitions of ‘four.’ That is how ‘four‘ is defined. Is my reasoning correct?
jazak allahi khayrun
Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji’s Response:
wa `alaykum salam,
Yes, you’ve got it right, except that 2+2=4 is not only a definition, as I will explain below. What he is talking about is not Islamic philosophy, but the Greek philosophy of Ibn Sinaa and his ilk. They believed that fire has the ability to burn by itself, without Allah having willed it. They are kuffaar, as stated by Al-Ghazzali and others.
The causes of normalcy in this world are actually just correlation. If you took some statistics or philosophy in science course, you probably know that researchers always talk about causation versus correlation. Well, to Muslims, it is all just correlation. When we say that fire causes combustion, it is a judgment regarding the habit of creation. This judgment is based on seeing that two events tend to correlate. So we say, “you need wings to fly, you need water to grow plants,” etc. The real cause is that Allah has willed for such events to always correlate. Make sure that you never name Allah “cause” though, as this is kufr, and the expression of the philosophers. You can say that the cause is that Allah has willed it, or that Allah caused it, but not that Allah is the cause.
2+2=4 is something entirely different, because it is a count, not correlation. 4 things are 4 things, no matter how you group them. It is a matter of definition, but not only a matter of definition. It is a matter of necessary knowledge, knowledge that the mind is forced to admit is true, because it does not require pondering. This is why people do not disagree about 2+2=4 just as 1+3=4, unless they are of the I-do-not-knowers sect of philosophers – the Sophists/relativists, that deny knowledge of anything (they contradict themselves though, for they claim to know that they do not know.) In Talbis Iblis Ibn Al Jawziy said that they can be handled by taking their property, and then when they ask about it, tell them “you mean the property you are not sure exists?” This is because it is usually some kind of compulsive obsessive disorder of Satanic whispers (waswasah.)
Answered by Shaykh Abu Adam