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Al-Qabasat (book)

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Author Mir Damad
Original title القبسات
Language Arabic
Series 1 vol.
Subject Philosophy, Theology

Al-Qabasāt (Arabic: القَبَسات) is one of the most important works of Mir Damad. Its complete title is Qabasāt ḥaqq al-yaqīn fī ḥudūth al-'ālam (قبسات حق الیقین فی حدوث العالمْ). The book is concerned with the problem of the creation or incipience of the world and how the world was emitted by God.

Al-Qabasat consists of ten parts, called "qabas". The word, "qabas", means a spark. The word has occurred in the Holy Qur'an. Many expositions and commentaries were written for al-Qabasat that show the importance of it in Islamic philosophy.

Title of the Book

Al-Qabasat is one of the most important philosophical works of Mir Damad (b. 970/1561 - d. 1041/1631) and the most detailed work of his regarding the incipience (huduth) and eternity (qidam) of the world in Arabic.

In the introduction of the book, Mir Damad himself refers to it as "al-Qabasat", but in some bibliographical sources, it is also mentioned as "Qabasat haqq al-yaqin fi huduth al-'alam".

"Qabasat" is the plural form of the word, "qabas", meaning a spark or a light. It is adopted from the Qur'an 20:10:

or Qur'an 27:7: This choice of the word is influenced by al-Shaykh al-Ishraq (the founder of Illuminationist philosophy) and his philosophical importance, just like the titles of many of his other works as well as his penname, "Ishraq" (illumination).


Main article: Mir Damad

Mir Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad al-Husayni al-Astarabadi (d. 1041/1631), known as Mir Damad, was a well-known philosopher of the Safavid period, also known as "al-Mu'allim al-Thalith" (the Third Teacher). Mulla Sadra is one of his prominent students.

Date of Writing

According to what Mir Damad himself mentioned in the book, he started writing al-Qabasat in Rabi' I 1034/December 1624 and finished on Wednesday night, Sha'ban 6, the same Hijri year/May 14, 1625.


The book, al-Qabasat, has been frequently printed and published: first it was lithographically printed in 1315 Sh/1936. Then it was edited by Mahdi Muhaqqiq and co-edited by Sayyid 'Ali Musawi Bihbahani, Toshihiko Izutsu and Ibrahim Dibaji in 1356 Sh/1977 and 1367 Sh/1988.

Expositions and Commentaries

Because of its significance, many expositions and commentaries were written for al-Qabasat, both during Mir Damad's life and after that. Here are some:

  • An exposition by Sayyid Ahmad al-'Alawai (Mir Damad's cousin and his son in law). The exposition consists of 'Alawi's detailed commentaries on al-Qabasat. Like other 'Alawi's commentaries on Mir Damad's works, it is sympathetic with Mir Damad's views. It was edited by Hamid Naji Isfahani and published in 1376 Sh/1997.
  • The author's own commentaries cited in Sayyid Ahmad 'Alawi's exposition under "Ufid" (Arabic: اُفید, meaning "I state that...").
  • Miqbas al-qabasat: Mir Sayyid Muhammad Ashraf b. 'Abd al-Hasib b. Ahmad al-'Alawi's commentaries on the book.
  • Commentaries of some students who attended Mir Damad's lectures. These commentaries are notes from his remarks in the lectures. They have appeared in some manuscripts and lithographic prints of the book.
  • Commentaries by an anonymous author with the initials, "S.M.S." appearing in some manuscripts and lithographic prints of al-Qabasat.


As Mir Damad makes explicit at the beginning of the book, a prominent figure (whose name he did not mention) asked him to write a book concerning the eternity of God, that He has always been and will always be, and that the world with all its components (from intellects, souls, hyles, forms, bodies and accidents) are incipient (ḥādith), and are doomed to be annihilated. That person asked Mir Damad to prove this on the basis of philosophical rules and principles and proofs. On the one hand, Mir Damad did not want to reject the request, and on the other, he agreed that earlier philosophers could not provide philosophical proofs for this view, and even Ibn Sina said in his Kitab al-Shifa' that the problem of incipience or eternity of the world is an antinomy neither of whose parties provided proofs for their respective claims. Thus he started writing the book in ten parts ("qabas"). The main problem of the book is "al-huduth al-dahri" (perpetual incipience).

The book, al-Qabasat, consists of chapters called "qabas" (spark), each of which consists of shorter sections called "wamda" or "wamid" (meaning illumination).

  • Chapter or qabas 1: he first provides a definition of different types of incipience, and then a classification of the existence, and he finally formulates the problem of incipience and eternity.
  • Chapter or qabas 2: he elaborates three types of essential priority (al-taqaddum al-dahri) and then he argues for the incipience of the world and the eternity of God.
  • Chapter or qabas 3: he explains two types of detached posteriority (al-ta'akhkhur al-infikaki), and argued for the incipience of the world and the eternity of God on the basis of everlasting priority (al-taqaddum al-sarmadi).
  • Chapter or qabas 5: he explains how absolute natures (al-taba'i' al-mursala) exist, and then he argues for the incipience of the world and the eternity of God on its basis.
  • Chapter or qabas 6: he first talks about temporal continuity and the motion, and then tries to provide an argument for the incipience of the world and the eternity of God. He then argues for the finitude of continuous quantities.
  • Chapter or qabas 7: he introduces arguments for and against the incipience of the world in the literature, and then makes objections to them.
  • Chapter or qabas 8: after responding to some objections, he explains the nature of divine power and will.
  • Chapter or qabas 9: he proves the existence of intellectual substances and the stages of beings in both initial (badwi) and recursive ('awdi) chains.
  • Chapter or qabas 10: he explains the nature of predestination (qada' and qadar), the problem of evil, and its relation with divine predestination, and the significance of prayer.