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What is the \'proof of the veracious\' (burhan al-siddiqin)? Is it the most correct, apposite and strongest proof for the existence of God?

What is the \'proof of the veracious\'? Is it considered to be the most apposite and strongest argument for the existence of God?
Concise answer
In the history of Islamic philosophy different explanations have been given for this proof [burhan] the first of which has been presented by Bu Ali Sina (Avicenna) in his Isharaat.  Meanwhile, one of the best of explanations has been established by Mulla Sadra, the founder of Transcendental Philosophy, albeit in coherence with the principles of this school. The explanation goes as under: “If existence, which according to principiality of existence is principal and prime, it is needless of anything. Hence, what we were seeking is achieved and the Necessary Being is proven but if it is essentially needless, in this case it would be an effect and essentially in need of a being which is needless in essence because it is impossible for something which is dependent and needy in nature to take place or come into being without a completely independent and needless being.
The ‘proof of the veracious’ has many benefits and advantages which make it the strongest of proofs because:
1. The ‘proof of the veracious’ entails the highest degree of certainty and assurance.
2. This proof is the noblest way to understanding God for it proves God through reliance on the reality of existence whereas in the other ontological arguments, the creatures, being characteristic of flaw and deficiency, are just means through which God’s existence is proved.
3. It is the simplest argument. Based on Mulla Sadra’s explanation, the proof of the veracious does not lead to circle (daur) or endless chain (tasalsul) in the reasoning.
4. Existential possibility which is a requirement of the simplicity and principiality of existence, unlike peripatetic philosophy in which the argument is based on essential quidditative contingency (al‑imkān al‑māhūwī).
5. Unlike other actions, the proof of the veracious’ alone is sufficient for understanding the Truth, essential unity (al-tawhid al-dhati), the characteristics and traits of Truth and Monotheism, the actions of the Truth and unity of actions.
Detailed Answer
The proofs or argumentations surrounding God’s existence can be divided into two sets: One set of the proofs consider the creatures as means for argument using the creatures to reach God.  But in the other set of argument, the creatures do not serve as means for proving God’s existence; rather they reach God through the very reality of existence and concept of existence.
The first set of proofs are called inni (which is an inference from effect to cause) and the second set of proofs are called limmi (which is an inference from the cause to cause) or partially inni.[1] The proof which we now intend to explain i.e. the proof of the veracious is from the second category. The proof of the veracious is an argumentation which benefits from Truth to argue for truth in order to prove the existence of the Truth, the Exalted. Nothing else other than the truth is used to substantiate God’s existence. Considering the concept of term ‘siddiq’, perhaps the reason naming this proof as the ‘proof of the veracious’ could be one of the following:
1. The righteous and truthful use this method when they bear witness to the Truth.
2. This is the most correct, apposite and strongest of all proofs.[2]
3. This method of reaching Truth is the method the noble prophets used to follow and make use of.
Muslim philosophers have provided different explanations and accounts for the proof of the veracious some of which we will mention briefly as under:
1. Ibn Sina’s Exposition of the Proof of the Veracious
Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 980-1037) was the first person to present this argument for the existence of God. The theory that Ibn Sina presented in his Isharat did not present issues such as motion, origination, causality, or order. Rather, once sophism – the belief that nothing is real - is negated and it is accepted that reality exists in the universe, then the existence of God is established. He states that existence is either contingent or necessary. If it is contingent, then it would be in need of a determinant (murajjih). In case the determinant is contingent, again that determinant would be in need of a determinant and this will continue endlessly. Since infinite regression of causes is void, we must reach a determinant which is not contingent; rather it should be necessary by itself. That necessary existent is God.[3]
2. Shaykh Ishraq’s Exposition of the Proof of the Veracious
Nothing or no existent requires becoming non-existent; otherwise it would not have existed in the first place. The Supreme Light of Lights (Nur al-Anwar) is an existent which is single in its essence and which does not depend on anything for the establishment of its essence. Anything which is other than that is subject to and dependent on Him. Since there is nothing to constrain Him and nothing to oppose Him, there is nothing also to render His essence void. Hence, He is Eternal, Self-dependent.”[4]
The Proof of the Veracious according to Qaisari:
Qaisari has mentioned five explanations for the proof of the veracious in his introduction to Fusus al-Hekam. We will mention one of them as an example: “The reality of existence is not something additional to its essence; because if the reality of existence was something other than the existent itself, then it would be in need of a creating cause (illat mujida) and this would lead to an infinite regression of causes (tasalsul) which is unacceptable and void.  The conclusion is that the reality of existence is not something other than the existence (wujud). So this reality is necessary by itself because the essence is something inseparable from itself.”[5]
4. The Proof of the Veracious according to Mulla Hadi Sabzevari
The stronger and shorter way is that, if the existence is principal and prime, quiddity is subordinate to existence; it is an expression of the existence. Hence, existence is pure and free of any limitations, not constrained, polluted and limited. Non-existence is the opposite of existence. Nothing accepts its opposite. Hence existence can never be together with non-existence. It essentially rejects non-existence and it cannot be non-existent. The conclusion is that the reality of existence is eternally necessary by itself.”[6]
5. Allamah Tabatabai’s Exposition of the Proof of the Veracious
In his book titled “The Principles of Philosophy”, Allamah Tabatabai explains the proof the veracious as such:
"The reality of the universe is unconditional and cannot be made nonexistent in any condition. The universe is temporal (in constant change and movement) and each particular part of it can become nonexistent. Therefore, it (the particulars) are not the existence that cannot be made nonexistent. This world depends on a reality which cannot be made nonexistent and it is in the light of that reality that the world becomes existent. If that reality did not existent, this world and whatever in it would not have existed. Of course, it does not mean that the reality unites with the thing in a way such that they become one thing. It does not permeate or indwell in them either or that a part of the reality separates and joins things; in fact, it is like light with which dark objects become bright and without which they remain dark.[7]
Allamah Tabatabai’s account can be summed up as such: Absolute reality is never mortal. A thing which is never mortal and is essential immortal, it is eternally necessary. Hence, the reality itself is eternal. Then the mortal realities and limited existents rely on that immortal reality.
Mulla Sadra’s Exposition of the Proof of the Veracious
This proof has been established by Mulla Sadra on the basis of the principles of transcendent philosophy which he himself is the founder of. In his view, the proof of the veracious is the strongest and most unfaltering of proofs and method of the righteous.[8] His argument is based on a number of principles which need to be explained first and then the exposition of the argument be presented:
1-6. Principiality of existence versus quiddity being mentally-posited: It is clear that in the concrete external world no being has more than one reality; it is the mind that extracts two concepts (quiddity and existence) from it. For instance, a human being or a tree does not have two external parts to be referred to with the words existence and another with quiddity. It is only through intellectual analysis that we see that quiddity and the particulars of every thing are different from the being and its very existence.
The quiddity of the individual or tree comes to our mind in the way it is in the external world but its existence in the external world is very different from its existence in mind. The effects and impacts which a thing (e.g. fire) has in the external world are with it in the mind. It becomes clear, therefore, that existence or quiddity or in other words, existence and whatness, are two separate issues. Indeed, without existence no quiddity shall exist. It is only existence that helps bring into existence the quiddity of tree or human being from non-existence; otherwise quiddity by itself is nothing and has no external connection with anything. As the famous saying goes, “quiddity, by itself, is neither existent nor non-existent”[9]; it is only itself (quiddity). Quiddity qua quiddity is incapable of making itself enter existence and this signifies the fact that it is not real.
2-6. Gradation of existence: Mulla Sadra is a staunch proponent of modulation and gradation of existence (tashkik al-wujud). The semantics of the term ‘existence’ and its modulated singularity commits Mulla Sadra to a reality that is equally modulated and singular. Existence is a singular reality, as the phenomenal experience of existence as multiple is illusory. But multiplicity in this world still needs to be explained. Different existents in this world are thus different, intense degrees of a single whole. Thus there is a horizontal and a vertical hierarchy of existence that is connected and involved in a whole chain of existence.
3-6. Simplicity of existence: Existence is a simple reality which does not have a part and is not a part of something either because we do not have anything other than existence.
4-6. Effects are but aspects and manifestations of the cause: Cause, causality and effect are interrelated concepts that are not detachable from each other. According to Mulla Sadra, the effect by itself, since it is effect, has no reality other than reliance and dependence and has no meaning other than being effect and subordinate, without having an essence subject to these meanings, as the absolutely originating cause has no essence and reality other than being the principle and source of everything and all relations and dependence go back to him.
In view of these principles, Mulla Sadra explains his proof as under:
“Existence as stated earlier is an objective and simple reality which is graded in intensity and perfection. The most intense degree of perfection of existence is the degree above which there is no degree more perfect and which is not dependent on anything other than its own self. Hence, a being is either needless of other things or it is essentially in need of other things. In the first case, that being is the Necessary Being that is at the peak of perfection; it is devoid of any flaw and deficiency. In the second case, it is not a necessary being because it is needy and dependent. In fact, it is essentially dependent on the Necessary Being and it cannot exist but because of the Necessary Being.”[10]
In other words, if existence which, as per the principiality of existence, is real and principal, is needless of other things, we have reached our goal and the Necessary Being is proved but if it is not self-dependent, it will be an effect, so it will be dependent on a needless being because something which is essentially needy and which is entirely dependent cannot come into existence without the existence of an independent, perfect and needless being.”[11]
It goes without saying that this proof is considered in Islamic philosophy as one of the strongest and most formidable proofs for God’s existence. As was mentioned before, this is one of the reasons behind the fact that this proof is called the ‘proof of the veracious’. We will further enumerate some of the advantages and benefits of this proof as below:
The Advantages of the Proof of the Veracious over other Proofs:
Mulla Sadra elaborates on the benefits and advantages of the proof of the veracious over other proofs as such:
1. The proof of the veracious is the strongest proof; it is at the peak of strength and firmness as it entails the highest degree of certainty.
2. This is the noblest of argumentations for understanding and knowing God because it leads to Necessary Being (God) with reliance on the reality of existence. Existence is pure good and the source of all other good whereas in the other ontological arguments, the creatures, being characteristic of flaw and deficiency, are just means through which God’s existence is proved. They are mixed with multiplicity, deficiency, contingency, short coming and unclarity. When compared with the existence of Truth, it is pure non-existence. Non-existence is the source of evil and pure evil.
3. It is the simplest argument because it does not need to seek mediation of things other than Truth for knowing the Necessary Being, His attributes and acts. Based on Mulla Sadra’s explanation, the proof of the veracious does not lead to circle (daur) or endless chain (tasalsul) in the reasoning.
4. Existential possibility which is a requirement of the simplicity and primacy of existence, unlike peripatetic philosophy in which the argument is based on essential quidditative contingency (al‑imkān al‑māhūwī).
5. Unlike other proofs, the proof of the veracious’ alone is sufficient for understanding the Truth, essential unity (al-tawhid al-dhati), the characteristics and traits of Truth and Monotheism, the actions of the Truth and unity of actions.
6. This proof not only proves the existence of the Lord but it also substantiates and presents true monotheism, divine knowledge, power, self-existence, will and other affirmative divine attributes.[12]
At the end it is necessary to know that the importance and nobleness of the proof of the veracious is because it is in principle based on a mystical reality, not on a purely mental and conceptual one. Also, the term ‘siddiqin’ (veracious) refers to those who endeavors to prove other things through God not through anything else. That is to say, God’s existence has become tangible for them and they need not any argument; rather they consider other things in need of substantiation. This is, indeed, a lofty rank in knowledge which may not be achieved by all. This reality and its definite support is mystical knowledge without which this argument explains only the form of that certain reality. The obviousness and clarity of the concept of existence (pure existence) shows only a form of the absoluteness of the reality of existence i.e. God whereas the difference is similar to the difference between a logical demonstration and visualization which we should not overlook. Therefore, when it comes to this kind of explanation of the veracious (Imams and gnostics) whether it is a kind of notification or reminder or the outcome of a philosophical demonstration, it is worth contemplation and notice. It seems that philosophers have given a philosophical explanation of these mystical statements. Perhaps, if these mystical statements are omitted, the explanation will be devoid of its main content.
Here we will make mention a few sayings from the Infallible Imams (peace be upon them) who are the perfect manifestations of the veracious. This shows that gnosticism (irfan) and knowledge of God precedes knowledge of God’s creatures in terms of importance. That is why, when they speak about God, it is inferred from their speech that God is evident and not unknown to be realized and proven by anything other than God. In addition, this knowledge has not been achieved through argumentation and philosophical demonstration. In fact, it has been achieved because God Himself made Himself known. There is a slight and distinguishable difference between this statement of the veracious (Imams’ and God’s saints) with a similar philosophical explanation which has been rendered from the proof of the veracious, one that originates in a cognitive method which has been adopted for reaching the truth:
1. In narration, Jathaliq asks Imam Ali (a.s.) to inform him whether he knew God through Muhammad or Muhammad through God, the Almighty.  The Commander of the Faithful says in response: “I did not know God through Muhammad but I knew Muhammad through God… As God inspired the angles to obey Him, I learned that the Prophet is a creature who is under God’s control.”[13]
2. Else where Imam Ali (a.s.) says: “I see God before I see things and then I see things.”[14]
3. Imam Hussein (a.s.) says in Dua Arafah: “How can You be figured out through that whose existence relies on You?  Can any thing other than You hold a (kind of) manifestation that You lack and thus it may act as an appearance for You?  When have You ever been absent so that You may need something to point to You? When have You ever been far-off so that traces may lead to You? Blind be the eye that cannot see You watching it…”[15]
Else where in the same Dua, the Imam says, “Who have introduced Yourself to all things; therefore, nothing has ever ignored You. It is You Who have introduced Yourself to me in all things; therefore, I have seen You Manifest in all things.  It is You Who give manifestation to all things.[16]
[1] Muhammad Rezai, Muhammad, Comparison between Burhan Siddiqin of Islamic Philosophy and Ontology of Islamic Philosophy on God’s Existence,  Kalam Islami Periodical, Fall 1376 (1997), No. 23.
[2] Sadruddin Shirazi, Muhammad bin Ibrahim, al-Hikmat al-Muta’aliyah fi al-Asfar al-Aqliyah al-Arba’ah, vol.6, p. 13, third edition, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, 1981.
[3] Ibn Sina (Avicenna), al-Isharat wa al-Tanbihat, pp.97 – 98, first edition, al-Balaghah Publications, Qom, 1375.
[4]  Shaykh Ishraq, Hikmat al-Ishraq, Henry Corbin, p. 121, second edition, Cultural Research & Studies Institute, Tehran, 1373.
[5] Qaisari, Muhammad Dawood, Sharh Fosus al-Hekam, p. 18, first edition, Cultural and Scientific Publications, 1375 (1996).
[6] Hakim Sabzevari, al-Ta’liqat Alaa al-Shawahid al-Rububiyah, p. 461 – 462, second edition, al-Markaz al-Jame’I Lil-Nashr, Mashad, 1360.
[7] Allamah Tabatabai, The Principles of Philosophy and Method of Realism, vol.5, Tehran, Sadra Publications, p. 76 – 86.
[8] Asfar, vol.6, p. 13 – 14.
[9] "الماهیة من حیث هی لیست الاّ هی لا موجودة و لا معدومة"
[10] Asfar, vol.6, p. 14 – 16.
[11] Mesbah Yazdi, Muhammad Taqi, Ta’liqah Nihayat al-Hikmah, p. 413, Dar Rah Haq Institute, Qom, 1405 A.H.
[12] Asfar, vol.6, p. 24 – 26.
[13] Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.3, p. 272, Al-Wafa Institute, Beirut, 1404 A.H.
[14] Musavi, Sayyid Abbas Ali, Sharh Nahjul Balaghah, vol.5, p. 291, first edition, Dar al-Mahajatul Baidha, Beirut, 1376 (1997).
[15] Behar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 143.
[16] Ibid.

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