Treatise on “The Determination Implicit to Change”, Avraham Abadi (Essay published in Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi: A commemorative volume)

“The Divine Intention signifies the singleness of dependence.” (Fusus al-Hikam, ‘Arabi)

Abadi states his essay derives from this one theorem of ‘Arabi, and begins by clarifying the theorem: “Dependence as a being of plurality is none other but the Being of Singleness, whose sheer simplicity permeates it modalities without any fusion or modification, so that in this respect, becoming consists of the delineation of dependence…any consideration of intermediate productions must appertain to the dissociative mode.” What Abadi attempts to prove in his essay is that the creative act of God is within Divine parameters which allows for freedom of will and a multiplicity of diversity, but still is entirely dependent upon the expression of God’s image, and is not expressed autonomously (what Abadi refers to as “intermediate productions”)by existents.

Abadi refers to this state of “dependence” as all of creation being dependent upon God’s intention of delineated structure. By providing examples of various philosophical and scientific theories relating to the creative process of the world, Abadi uses the concept of deduction to reveal the truth of God’s “Order of Permanence.” For example, Abadi refutes Kant’s theory as Idealism (“objects of knowledge are held to be in some way dependent on the activity of the mind”), by proving the subjective perception of the world doesn’t determine the true nature of the world, because “exeriority and interiority” can’t be separated. In other words, one can’t divide the understanding of the “world in itself” and the “world as an appearance” as both are dependent upon a manifestation of the existent’s nature which is a determinate of God’s will.

Abadi explores the theories of evolution in which he explains, “any theory of evolution is a description of the arising of a greater diversity from a set of primary conditions, [but] ultimately its subject is the emergence of complexity from simplicity which constitutes the very movement of becoming.” Lamarckism (fairly unknown evolutionary theory, but which was the beginning understanding of the concepts of evolution by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, 1744–1829), proposes evolution is a progressive forward movement initiated by its own intention to adapt to its environment, while Darwin theorizes all adaptations are random occurrences which allows the fittest species to survive, and other chance mutations to die out. According to Abadi, this randomness is an autonomy that is not in harmony by that which is evident in the natural world. Nor as an autonomy (independent from the established Order of Permanence), which adheres to an existent’s preference over the “singleness of the Divine Intention,” can an existent be fully independent. A “determinant” is God’s latent probability being established into existence, which entails a predetermined design which doesn’t allow for complete autonomy derived from randomness, but does allow for free will and some degree of randomness or autonomy within the parameters of determination. Therefore, autonomous “casual unfoldment” would create chaos and not order if there were not a Divine structure in place to maintain the Order of Permanance. So, if this Order were not established by God, then random mutations of an existent’s genetic structure would have the possibility of going significantly beyond what is possible in the present world. For example, imagine the different life forms in alien worlds as seen in the Star Wars movies. When there are no limitations upon the movement toward complexity then life as we know it would not be survivable. As ‘Arabi states, “…every inclination which is expressed by an autonomy must be inherent to its very nature.” And all existent’s natures are a determinant of Divine Will.

Abadi states because Lamarckism “…depicts diversity in terms of actualizations of the probabilities which are inherent to the relationship between a species and its environment” then this theory must be considered an Idealistic doctrine. As Kant believes, the mind determines the nature of reality by its own perceptions, Lamarck believes evolution proceeds by the organism’s intention to create its own reality as the adaptation strategy. Furthermore, Abadi remarks that Lamarck doesn’t explain the selection of one adaptation over another as Darwin theorizes by explaining it as the process of natural selection via survival of the fittest. However, because Lamarck doesn’t overtly state this as an outcome process of his evolutionary principles doesn’t mean that the inference isn’t present. Just by stating there is a process whereby organisms evolve by the intentional interaction of the existent with the environment for adaptation purposes justifies the inherent need for survival.

Professor Mohammed Rustom’s essay, The Great Chain of Consciousness: Do all things possess Awareness?, states if all things exist then “…each is possible in itself and necessary through other simultaneously existing, sustaining causes.” He goes on to explain if there is a process of successive causes, then what causes the succession? Therefore, there must be an initial cause that was not caused by another, but is the cause of all causes. This is referred to as the Necessary Being (wajib al-wujud) or God” (Renovatio, The Journal of Zaytuna College, April 28 2017 issue). So, God as the Necessary Being, determines the process whereby creation moves from His Oneness to complexity while maintaining all of creation within the Divine Intention. As the only Necessary Being, then all existent’s being is dependent upon a singleness of dependency, and not dependent upon any subsequent causes deriving from the initial cause.

Creation Metaphor: Order of Permanence

“The eternal validity of a metaphor appertains to the Order of Permanence that it reflects and not to the transience which constitutes its form…interpretation of Genesis in accordance with Darwinian principles does not demonstrate anything except the predominance of the evolutionary metaphor during the present era.”

Arabi writes that the materialism that dominates the present period (this essay was written in the eighties, but materialism is even now more pronounced than previously), should not be judged by the monotheism in previous eras, but evaluated in the context in which its metaphors pertain to a to the Order of Permanence, even “if its premises deny the existence of a deity.”

Furthermore, Arabi explains that an era’s characteristics which make it unique are not found within the next era, but that era will have it’s own particular set of “new” characteristics. Along with Arabi’s premise of the passing of a previous eras characteristics to make way for the new era, Ernst Von LaSaulx (17th century German Philosopher and Theologian), wrote that civilizations move towards a peak and then decline, and once declining, a new set of moral principles based on the previous foundation is expressed to create revival which begins a new era.

So, how does the present day emphasis on materialism through the vehicle of Capitalism pertain to the Genesis metaphor? Adam walked with God in the Garden where every need was provided for, and had a close relationship with God until Adam and Eve disobeyed. Both are cast away from God’s presence in the Garden of Innocence, and Adam is told by God, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

This is a metaphor of dependence upon God, and by wrongfully moving into a state of independence by disobeying, humans no longer find themselves in a flourishing garden, but will be among the symbolic plants of the dry wilderness; the thorn and thistles. Additionally, by pursuing the path away from God, humanity by its determination has chosen the way of earth and not a return to God by the way of the Spirit, so humans will return to dust, the physical aspect of their duality they were created from. The metaphor expresses the Order of Permanence by God’s determination of free will. ‘As Arabi states, “[Humans] take upon themselves the burden of faithfulness, a burden refused by the earth and heavens.” We are cast away from the Divine Presence and unlike the heavenly beings, are not close enough to God to behold His continual presence. Hence, we have the burden of never forgetting His Divine Will, and must behave as if He were present with us. As detached physical beings, we are given the choice to move towards Him or away. We have the option of forgetfulness, or constant remembrance. We can acknowledge Him as the Center and Sovereign of all Being, or choose to make ourselves the center of being.

Additionally, according to the Order of Permanence, all existents have a finite potential. For example, human’s have a finite intellectual potential based upon the Divine determination. This can be expanded to include civilizations as well. There is the expected peak of the fullness of its potentiality, and then a possible decline. What humanity doesn’t quite understand, is that the potentiality of human civilization is significantly more than what can be realized by human power alone. In today’s world, because of Capitalistic economies driven by profit and greed, there comes a time of maximum profitization when exorbitant profit mongering increases profits while suppressing wages until the economy collapses because the supporting factor of the majority being able to afford purchasing power significantly declines. Therefore, the weight of injustice motivated by greed creates its own destruction.

This is presently occurring around the globe. Because we are in an era of globalization, one country’s economic condition effects other countries. Hence, economic conditions are uniformly in a major decline. And, as what happened in Germany before the onset of the Holocaust, is happening now. Poor economic conditions are motivating the creation of scapegoats. This is why nationalism, racism, and bigotry is increasing in all the major nations around the world. As the world’s resources become scarcer and scarcer, the hatred towards immigrants, minorities and certain religious groups will become worse. Because civilization has moved away from God, and toward the determination of its own self will, it is well on the path of destruction. Dom Sylvester Houedard, describes it well in his essay, ‘Arabi’s Contribution to the Wider Ecumenism: “Salvation is God’s will to bestow Himself on every creature endowed with spiritual faculties, and His self-gift is necessarily effective unless frustrated by Giants of Arrogance asserting a self as a second beside God, and introducing into the cosmos something God has not created.”

Unfortunately, the finitude of this era will be the world’s destruction, or if there is a turning back to God, there will be a spiritual flourishing which the world has never seen before now. The perfection of choice is in its inherent ability to choose one path or the other. Return to dust, or return to God. An “era” can reveal progression through “newness” either by the material world or supernatural Divine Will. But the progression of the material world is not for the betterment of humanity, but only the seeking of the self’s desires. God provides Prophets and Guidebooks to assist humanity with establishing His will on earth, but the lure and temptation of using one’s little power to control little domain’s creates a delusion of the worst sort. Making the choice to follow self will to pursue greed, wealth, power and status is placing all of those things as idols before God. The Qur’an 6:22–24 states regarding idols, “On the day when we summon them all, we will ask the idol worshipers, ‘Where are the idols you set up?’ Their disastrous response will be, ‘By God our Lord, we never were idol worshipers.’ Note how they lied to themselves, and how the idols they had invented have abandoned them.”

The temptation of the temporary power of the mortal over the earth’s kingdoms is exemplified in the gospel account of Jesus being tempted by the devil. “And he [Satan] led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if you worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord you God and serve Him only (Luke 4:5–8). Indeed, the kingdom of dust has been given over to Satan, but any kingdom of dust, including our world’s governments who worship at its throne, will be deposed. For as the Qur’an states (4:120), “He promises them and entices them; what the devil promises is no more than an illusion.” It is a deceptive mirror that increases the human’s self destructive effects of its ego. Satan pursues destruction of what God has created, while God promises blessings and flourishing. Certainly, the Divine Intention which comes from His Singleness of Being, establishes an Order of Permanence, but inherent in the movement towards complexity is His Determinate of either destruction or flourishing. This is the opposing duality of balance which is structured throughout the universe.

It is suffering that shoots streams of creativity out of my heart, and the brokenness of life that explodes my heart into its soul.