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Gowhar-i murad (book)

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Gowhar-i Murad
Author 'Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji
Original title گوهر مراد
Language Persian
Subject Theology
Published 1425/2004
Publisher Saya Publication, Tehran
Pages 757

Gowhar-i murād (Persian: گوهر مراد) is a book authored by 'Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji (d. 1072/1662) concerning Islamic philosophy and kalam (Islamic theology). The book contains discussions of the main problems of theology, philosophy, ethics, mysticism and the five principles of the religion. It is structured by a preface, three chapters, and an epilogue; the introduction is concerned with the place of human being in the world, the way of God, and the purposes of philosophy and theology, the three chapters are concerned with knowing oneself, knowing God and his commands by knowing his messengers—the prophets (a) and Imams (a)—and the consequences of obeying or disobeying God's commands in the afterlife, and the epilogue concerns ethics and mysticism.

The structure of Gowhar-i murad is a peculiar one that cannot be found in other works in theology. In addition to the standard issues in theology, the book discusses some ethical and mystical problems. Moreover, some philosophical problems are discussed in the book, thus we can count the book as a theological-philosophical one. What is more, the issues of the book are influenced by the author's mystical thoughts.

Author

Main article: 'Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji

'Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji is Mulla Sadra's pupil and his son in law. However, he had Peripatetic tendencies in his philosophical thoughts and was a critic of Mulla Sadra. He has written works such as Shawariq al-ilham which is an exposition of Khwajih Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's Tajrid al-i'tiqad, Commentaries on Khwajih Nasir al-Din's al-isharat, Commentaries on Khufri's Al-ta'liqat, Gowhar-i murad, and Sarmayi-i iman. His son, Mirza Hasan who authored Jamal al-salihin, was one of his pupils. Lahiji significantly contributed to the rationalization and philosophization of the Islamic theology. He taught in Qom and died there in 1072/1662.

Time of Writing and Its Dedication

According to some sources, the book was written in 1052/1642 - 1058/1648 and was dedicated to Shah 'Abbas Safavi.

Purpose of Writing

Lahiji's purpose of writing Gowhar-i murad, as he says in the preface, was to make issues approachable and comprehensible for the novice, help clarify the confusions of the intermediary learners, and provide the scholars with some philosophical critiques.

Lahiji's purpose was to write a reference book for the principles of the religion:

Some scholars are just followers [rather than researchers] with regard to divine wisdom, and as a result, some ingenious people have a dismissive attitude towards learning [the religious beliefs]. Thus I sought to write a book regarding the principles of the religion and divine wisdom in a discursive way preparing the ground for eternal salvation without requiring one to learn many scholarly terminologies.

Though Lahiji takes the addressees of his book to be the novice, the intermediary learner, and the scholars alike, his book counts in fact as a specialized work in theology. After Gowhar-i murad, Lahiji wrote Sarmayi-i 'iman for the novice.

Parts

Gowhar-i murad has a different structure and organization in comparison with other works in theology. Most works in theology are organized on the basis of the five principles of the religion. Lahiji did not follow this method; he organized Gowhar-i murad in three main parts: knowing oneself, knowing God, and knowing God's commands.

Gowhar-i murad includes a preface and three chapters regarding major philosophical issues, and an epilogue concerning ethics and mysticism.

  • Preface: the position of human beings in the world and their exclusive privilege of divine integrity. There are three issues raised in this preface:
  1. The place of human beings in the world and why they are exclusively addressed by divine commands,
  2. Paths to God,
  3. The definition of theology and its purpose, the difference between theology and judgment (hukm), and why diverse theological sects and approaches have been formed in the Islamic world.
  • Part one: knowing oneself, including two sections:
  1. The nature of bodies and their states,
  2. The soul, in particular, the rational soul.
  • Part two: knowing God, including a discussion ofmonotheism (tawhid) and justice ('adl) in three sections:
  1. The proof of the existence of the Necessary Being and its unity,
  2. The attributes of the necessary being,
  3. The acts of the necessary being.
  • Part three: knowing God's commands, which requires one to know the messengers and preservers of God's commands—that is, issues of Prophethood and Imamate. This part includes four sections:
  1. Knowing God's commands—that is, the obligations,
  2. Knowing the messengers of the commands—that is, the prophets,
  3. Knowing the preservers of the commands—that is, Imams,

4. Knowing the awards and punishments of obedience and disobedience—that is, the resurrection and afterlife.

  • Epilogue: the method of refining one's moral character and mystical experiences.

The organization is inspired by mystical thoughts in which a Sufi starts from knowing him or herself and ends in knowing God.

Features

Ethical and Mystical Contents

Works in theology are not usually concerned with ethical and mystical issues. But Gowhar-i murad is considerably engaged with such issues. Lahiji is obviously under the influence of mysticism and Sufism introducing their doctrines in his formulations of issues in theology. One might regard Gowhar-i murad as a philosophical-mystical book in theology.

Such influence is manifest in both the contents of the book and its preface and epilogue. The epilogue of the book is devoted to issues of refining one's soul and moral character and mystical experiences—Lahiji says:

The main purpose of this essay is both theoretical and practical in the sense of ethics, Sufism and illumination; this is why I concern myself with such issues in the epilogue of the book.

This is a result of Lahiji's conception of theology. In his view, theology as an inquiry into religious beliefs is a means to mystical and divine experiences.

Precise Explication of the Terminologies of Philosophy and theology

One virtue of Gowhar-i murad is its precise explication of philosophical and theological terminologies. In each issue Lahiji starts with an astute illustration of the terminologies involved in the issue, and then concerns himself with the formulation of the problems and the arguments.

Moreover, Lahiji tries his best to make distinctions between similar terminologies and concepts.

A Simple and Precise Explication of Problems in Philosophy and theology

In Gowhar-i murad, issues of philosophy and theology have been discussed in a simple and yet precise way.

Introduction of Philosophical Problems into theology

Gowhar-i murad is not merely a book concerning Islamic-Shiite theology; it is also a book on Islamic philosophy. The author of Riyad al-'ulama' has mentioned the book under those concerning Islamic philosophy.

It is as a result of Lahiji's particular view about the nature of theology that he introduces philosophical issues into it. Therefore, Gowhar-i murad should be considered as a philosophical-theological work. And given the mystical tendencies of Lahiji in the formulation of issues in the book, it might even be considered as philosophical-mystical theology or theology.

Innovative Theories and New Researches

In addition to providing a summary of early views in theology, Gowhar-i murad contains some innovative theories in philosophy and theology.

Lahiji has presented new ideas in issues such as "types of incidence (huduth) and types of nonexistence", "the problem of divine will" and "the problem of essential priority".

Lahiji's Paritucular View About Miracles

Lahiji has peculiar views in the book—for instance, about the doctrine of the miracle (mu'jiza). In his view, what is responsible for the occurrence of the miracles—which belong to the category of acts—such as healing the sick, is the perfection of the motive faculty in the soul of the prophet resulting in the realization of whatever the prophet imagines and wills to happen. However, he also takes into account the possibility that in miracles, such as hearing the sands praising God, happen not because the prophet interferes in the external world; rather because he manipulates the imaginative faculties of the individuals.

As to miracles such as asserting hidden facts and verbal miracles, Lahiji holds that they result from the perfection of the rational and imaginative faculty of the prophet. By his connection to immaterial reasons and celestial souls (al-nufus al-falakiyya), the prophet knows about all things, in particular hidden facts and future events. This is Lahiji's innovative analysis of miracles.

Lahiji does not take the Qur'an to be a miracle for all people; he maintains that the Qur'an is only a miracle for the intellectuals, researchers and scholars who know the principles of the religion and the disciplines related to the Arabic language. The laymen, in his view, are unable to comprehend the miraculous nature of the Qur'an, since "they do not know philosophical disciplines and the subtleties of the Arabic language", though on the basis of the Qur'anic challenge or tahaddi, "since nobody can meet the challenge, the miraculous nature of the Qur'an will be evident for the laymen too".

Lahiji's View About the Place of the Prophet (s)'s Soul

Fayyad Lahiji holds that at the beginning of his creation, the soul of the Prophet (s) is in the position of the Active Intellect (al-'aql al-fa'al) from which knowledge emanates, and at the end, he is in the position of the First Intellect (al-'aql al-awwal). That the Prophet's soul is in the position of the Active Intellect in the beginning of his creation means that he is aware of everything.

Lahiji says the same thing with respect to Imams (a) as well. He makes it explicit that Imams (a) are born with perfect intellects and knowledge—they know everything that angels and prophets know. Moreover, Imams (a) "have all the knowledge and they know everything that people need—whether in religious or non-religious affairs".

Discussing New Problems and Ignoring Unimportant Ones

In Gowhar-i murad, Lahiji did not deal with some issues and problems that were discussed in early works in theology, such as Tajrid al-i'tiqad. For instance, he does not discuss issues such as the punishment of children in the afterlife, livelihoods ('arzaq), prices ('as'ar) (the issue of whether prices of the goods are determined by God or by people and whether people or the governments have the right to determine prices), and the times of deaths (ajal).

On the other hand, Lahiji discusses issues that were scarcely considered in early works in theology, such as the grounds of divine response to people's prayers, the benefits of visiting the believers' tombs, and the prediction of hidden and future facts.

Publications

There are many manuscript copies of the book, and it has frequently been printed in lithography and typewriting. The Congress of the Tribute for Lahiji has published Gowhar-i murad with a preface by Zayn al-Abidin Qurbani.

Views

Lahiji himself describes the book as follows:

When this book was finished and this desired jewel (Gowhar-i murad) came out from the sea of potentiality to the coast of actuality, it looked very precious to me—regardless of the fact that I am the author of this book, I can say that this is a unique book. For this book includes main problems and major issues that are precious to scholars, and it is a sum of the thoughts of early and late thinkers. It is formulated so as to provide the novice with comprehensible contents, it contains researches helping the intermediary learners to rescue from perplexity, and it contains criticisms that provides high-ranking scholars with a stock of critiques and philosophical thoughts unaffected by imaginations and confusions.

Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Rafi'i Qazwini writes the following about the book:

The precious book, Gowhar-i murad, written by the late philosopher 'Abd al-Razaq Lahiji—may God bless his soul—is a desirable exquisite book, and is unique as a book on religious problems and divine wisdom.

And Sayyid 'Ali Qadi Tabataba'i writes:

The best-known work of Lahiji is Gowhar-i murad which is written in Persian in a fluent and pleasant style. It is one of the most precious Persian book on the principles of the religion, divine wisdom and Islamic beliefs.

See also

References