By : Nurkhayati Aida
People know him as Mullah Sadra, the founder of the third school of Islamic philosophy – Hikmah Muta’alliyah. Born by the name Muhammad Sadruddin Bin Ibrahim Yahya Qawwami Shirazi in the year of 979 AH / 1571 AD in Shiraz, a city in Persia which in 1935 turned into Iran.
Born and grew from the family which was really aware on the importance of knowledge, Sadra was endowed with extraordinary intelligence. It is said that his teacher, Mir Damad, cried while reading one of his monumental works. His teacher was affected for having such student whose intelligence surpassed him.
Mullah Sadra was considered to have succeeded in negotiating two major schools of philosophy preceded him; Peripatetic (Masha’iyyah) and Illumination (Ishraqiyyah) to be a new school known as the school of Hikmat Muta’alliyah (Transcendent Theosophy). Hikmat Muta’alliyah is similar to the philosophy of ‘Ishraqiyyah in combining rational approach through kashf (spiritual unveiling) and syuhud (witnesses), but differs in interpretation and conclusion. Through this, he has succeeded to reconcile and resolve the disputes between Mashaiyyah and ‘Ishraqiyyah, or between philosophy and ‘irfan (Sufism), and between philosophy and theology.
Tashkik al Wujud (Gradation of Existence)
Among of the ideas formulated by Mullah Sadra, tashkik al wujud is the idea that deserves to be considered as an important reference how to figure out a very fundamental problem of the present day. Tashkik al wujud can be used to be a philosophical foundation to ground a just behavior, virtue and especially to treat living things well.
In Indonesian language, tashkik al wujud means gradation or ambiguity of existence. Haidar Bagir prefers to use the word ambiguity to describe a single existence which has different gradation because of the different level of quality on that existence. Mullah Sadra’s formulation on Tashkik al wujud was inspired by the concept of light of Suhrawardi that the light is considered as an axiomatic thing (badihi). It is clear and does not need definition. According to Suhrawardi, wujud does not need definition and explanation because it is something visible, so nothing is more visible than the light. Mullah Sadra makes an illustration of wujud to the light. If all existences are similar to the light, sun is the brightest light. Then its gradations are a bright light, a less bright light, faint light, and the last one is the nothingness of light.
This illustration is trying to explain the relation of the “exsitence” of God and of the nature which are essentially the same light but with different qualities. God exists and humans also exist, at this point we believe that God and human have the same existence that is wujud. The next question is what differentiates between the existence of God and human beings? That will be answered by Mullah Sadra with the idea of Tashkik al wujud. That God and human are similar in their existence but different in their quality. The mafhum is similar but the misdaq is different as it is said by Manthiq.
Excluding Fellow and the Nothingness of Light
Al katsrah fi ‘ainil wahdah wal-wahdah fi ‘ainil katsrah (plurality in unity and unity in pluarality). That is the word of Mullah Sadra to express what happens in tashkik al wujud. Then what can be inferred from tashkik al wujud to later justify that philosophy is nothing but a discussion on the very fundamental element of self? That, any existing beings are nothing but light with different intensity and quality. The closer the light to the source is the brighter the quality of that light. On the contrary, the light which is far away from the source will be less in quality or even nothingness of the light.
Because of the nothingness of the light makes a man on prejudice and hatred. Furthermore, the nothingness of light will lead us to always feel right. The nothingness of light is when the people begin to negate and exclude their fellows. The nothingness of light also emerges in various kind of crime and humiliation.
Considering ourselves is higher than others and also humiliate others is also a kind of the nothingness of light. Perhaps it may be assumed as arrogant attitude, pride, or (feel) the most right one. Unfortunately, that is wrong assumption, incorrect, because what really happens is an attempt to negate the light that makes us exist. It is also the process of killing the source of light which has given light to us. Similarly, considering one sex is lower and then giving different treatment, depriving their rights or even putting them in the corner of hatred is the same as the nothingness of light.
That all creatures, both men and women with various kind of sex, skin color, race, religion, ethnicity, and language are similar. They are similar in existence and no one is higher or nobler because of those things except on the basis of the quality of light they posses, which can be seen in their behavior and outlook towards our fellows. Any differences are not supposed to lead to distinction for women or men, women as well as men are born from the same illumination of light. Women as well as men differ only because of their different quality and intensity of light they possess.
Finally, any kind of discriminations, marginalization, subordinations and violence against women do not have philosophical foundation even religion. Because the concept of tashkik wujud negates any kind of “black” acts or the nothingness of light. In fact, the existing being is nothing but light, and the light is goodness for all. All sexes are the creation.
Every action can be traced whether it is under the shade of light or in the nothingness of light. Impossibly, the people who believe in God commit in “black” action because God is the source of light. So also it is impossible that there is something which is positive and negative at the same time; luminous but dark, or dark but luminous; believing in God but committing violence, or committing violence but believing in God. The existence and the nothingness of light will not be mixed. If any person commits a crime just believe that he/she is not believing in God anymore.
The quality and intensity of the light finally shows us how a person acts and treats the others. That, the quality of existence (wujud) depends on the intensity of the light, how close it is to the source of light as a wujud mustaqil (self-existencee) to which wujud rabith (dependent-existence) like humans depend.
The Thing which has (not) Finished
For some people, talking about philosophy is similar to talk about the things which have been completed, final, no need to be discussed anymore, theoretical and not grounded. Therefore, the philosophy is only studied by a few people and often considered misleading and far away from God.
From Mullah Sadra, at least, we learn about a very simple thing but very fundamental. And once again the philosophy actually emerged to talk about something which is related to self, about the very basic of self, about the essence of human beings, as the illumination of light (God). Light is the existence, while the darkness is the nothingness.