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Wajib al-Wujud

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Wajib al-Wujud (Arabic: واجِبُ الوجود) or the Necessary Being is a general concept with God as its sole instance. The term refers to a being that exists independently of any other being. Muslim philosophers have raised arguments to show that all beings are contingent or possible except God who is the Necessary Being. They have presented many arguments to prove the existence of the Necessary Being, one of which is the so-called Proof of the Sincere or Burhan al-Siddiqin. According to Islamic philosophical books, the Necessary Being is characterized by the absence of a quiddity, simplicity (not being complex or composite), essential oneness, oneness in Lordship, being alive, being omniscient, being omnipotent, and being the creator.

Characterization of God as the Necessary Being

Muslim philosophers believe that, philosophically speaking, every being can only be assumed to be in one of the two following states:

  • Either it depends on another being in order to exist (this is called a "contingent being")
  • Or it is independent of any other being in order to exist, which is called a "Necessary Being".

Muslim philosophers present arguments to show that there is only one instance of a Necessary Being, which is God, and all other beings are contingent.

Proofs for the Existence of a Necessary Being

Many arguments have been presented in Islamic philosophy for the existence of a Necessary Being or God, and some philosophers consider the Proof of the Sincere (or Burhan al-Siddiqin) as the most cogent argument for the existence of a Necessary Being. This argument has been formulated in a various versions, including those of Avicenna, Mulla Sadra, Mulla Hadi Sabzawari, and 'Allama Tabataba'i.

According to the "contingency and necessity" argument, every being is, philosophically speaking, either contingent or necessary in its existence, and there is no other conceivable way for a being to exist. It is not possible for all beings in the world to be contingent, because a contingent being depends on a cause in order to exist, and if its cause is in turn a contingent being, it will also depend on another being in order to exist. Thus, if all causes were contingent and dependent on further causes, no being would ever come into existence. Therefore, there has to be a being in the world that is independent of any other beings, which is a Necessary Being.

Features of a Necessary Being

In philosophical books, numerous features have been attributed to a Necessary Being. Here are some features as in Nihaya al-hikma:

  • Absence of quiddity:

Argument: every being with a quiddity is contingent. Therefore, a non-contingent being does not have a quiddity. Thus, the Necessary Being does not have a quiddity.

  • Simplicity: the Necessary Being is not composite; it does not have any external or conceptual part.

Argument: the Necessary Being does not have a quiddity. Therefore, it does not admit of any limits. Hence, it does not have a genus or differentia. Therefore, it does not have any parts.

  • Essential oneness: the Necessary Being is one, and has no partner (that is, it has only one instance).

Argument: the Necessary Being does not have a quiddity; hence, no nonexistential part (or a limit in existence). Therefore, it is a pure existence. Having a partner makes sense only if the partner has something that the other being lacks. For if two partners are the same with respect to everything, then they will not be two separate beings; indeed, they will be identical. Therefore, if the Necessary Being had a partner, it would follow that one of the two Necessary Beings has something that the other lacks, which contradicts the Necessary Being lacking any nonexistential dimension and being a pure existence.

  • Oneness in Lordship: the only cause of the development and perfection of entities in the world, or the only thing that arranges the world of being, is God.

Argument: the world is an interrelated and systematic whole; that is, there are causal relationships among its parts. Therefore, there is a cause for the development or perfection of any entity in the world, and there is in turn a cause for that cause, and so on up to a Necessary Being that is the cause of all causes. Since the cause of the cause of something is that thing's cause (that is, since the causal relationship is transitive), the Necessary Being will be the main cause of the development or perfection of all beings.

Other features of the Necessary Being include being alive, being omniscient, being omnipotent, being the creator, and being the sustainer of things in the world.