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By: Nurkhayati Aida

People known 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 to be Iran.

Born and grew from a family who really appreciates the importance of knowledge, Sadra is endowed with an 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 is considered successful in negotiating two great schools of philosophy before him; Peripatetic (the school of philosophy in Ancient Greece) (Mashaiyyah) and Illumination (Ishraqiyyah) by birth of the school of Hikmah Muta’aliyah. Hikmat Muta’alliyah is similar to the philosophy of ‘Ishraqiyyah in combining rational approach through kashf (spiritual unveiling) and syuhud (witness), but differs in interpretation and conclusion. Through this, he has succeeded to reconcile and resolve disputes between Mashaiyyah and Ishraqiyyah, or between philosophy and irfan (sufism), and between philosophy and kalam (theology).

Tashkik al Wujud (Gradation or Ambiguity of Existence)

Among the ideas formulated by Mullah Sadra, tashkik al wujud deserves to be considered as an important reference to figure out a very fundamental problem of present day. Tashkik al wujud can be used to be a philosophical foundation to implement fair 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 gradations because of different level quality on the existence. Mullah Sadra in formulating Tashkik al wujud was inspired by the concept of light from Suhrawardi where the light is considered as badihi (an axiomatic thing). It is clear and does not need any 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 “existence” of God for  the material nature which basically are the same light with different qualities. God “exists” and humans also “exist”, at this point we believe that God and humans have the same existence, wujud. The next question is what differentiates 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 qualities. The mafhum is similar but the misdaq is different, as it is said by manthiq. 

Excluding Fellow and Nothingness of Light

Al katsrah fi ‘ainil wahdah wal-wahdah fi ‘ainil katsrah (plurality in unity, and unity in plurality), that are the words of Mullah Sadra to express what happens in tashkik al wujud. 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 light to the source is the brighter 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 light.

To be inside nothingness of light puts a man in prejudice and hatred. Furthermore the nothingness of light will lead us to always feel right. The nothingness of light is when human begins to negate and exclude their other human beings. The nothingness of light also emerges in various kinds of crime and humiliation.

Considering ourselves higher than and degrade others is also a form of the nothingness of light. Perhaps it may be assumed as an arrogance, hubris, or (feel) most righteous. 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 who has given us light. Considering one gender is lower by giving different treatment, depriving their rights or even putting them in corners of hatred are the same as nothingness of light.  

All creatures both men and women with various kinds of skin color, race, religion, ethnicity, and language, are the same. They are same in the context of existence and no one is higher or nobler because of those things except in the basis of quality of light they posses, which can be seen in their behavior and outlook towards others. Any differences are not supposed to lead to distinction for women or men, for 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. 

Finally, any kind of discrimination, marginalization, subordination and violence against women do not have any philosophical foundation and religion. Since the concept of tashkik wujud negates any kind of “black” acts, or nothingness of light. In fact, the existing being is nothing but light, and the light is goodnesses for all. All genders, all creations.    

Every action can be traced whether it is under shade of light or in nothingness of light. Impossible, people who believe in God commit in “black” action, because God is the Source of Light. It is also impossible there is something 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 nothingness of light will not be mixed. If any person commits a crime just believe that he/she is not with God that time.  

The quality and intensity of light finally show us how a person acts and treats others. The quality of existence (wujud) depends on intensity of light, how close it is to the Source of Light as a Wujud Mustaqil (Self-Existence), to which wujud rabith (dependent-existence) like humans depend. 

The Thing which has (not) Yet Finished

For some people, talking about philosophy is similar to talk about things which have been completed, final, no need to be discussed anymore, theoretical and not grounded. Therefore, philosophy is only studied by few people and often considered misleading and far away from God.

From Mullah Sadra at least, we learn about a very simple but very fundamental thing. Once again the philosophy actually emerged to talk about something 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 darkness is the nothingness.[] Nurkhayati Aida 



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