June 23, 2024

In the Name of Allah—the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Ibni Sina's Views on Space & Time

Abū-ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn-ʿAbdallāh Ibn-Sīnā [Avicenna] (ca. 970–1037) was the preeminent philosopher and physician of the Islamic world. In his work, he combined the disparate strands of philosophical/scientific[2] thinking in Greek late antiquity and early Islam into a rationally rigorous and self-consistent scientific system that encompassed and explained all reality, including the tenets of revealed religion and its theological and mystical elaborations. In its integral and comprehensive articulation of science and philosophy, it represents the culmination of the Hellenic tradition, defunct in Greek after the sixth century, and reborn in Arabic in the 9th (Gutas 2004a, 2010). It dominated intellectual life in the Islamic world for centuries to come, and the sundry reactions to it, ranging from acceptance to revision to refutation and to substitution with para-philosophical constructs, determined developments in philosophy, science, religion, theology, and mysticism. In Latin translation, beginning with the 12th century, Avicenna’s philosophy influenced mightily the medieval and Renaissance philosophers and scholars, just as the Latin translation of his medical Canon (GMed 1), often revised, formed the basis of medical instruction in European universities until the 17th century. 

Did Ibn Sina Deny Creation?

Some Muslim scholars objected Ibni Sina that he did not believe in creation, rather he supported the eternal universe. Actually, this is not true. Ibni Sina believed in Almighty Allah, His Last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him), and His Holy Book Quran. His works prove this.  
Ibni Sina argued for the Wajib al-Wujud (Necessary Being) in his works. Ibn Sina’s argument regarding wajib al-wujud (the necessary existence) is one of the central themes of his philosophical system. According to Ibn Sina, the necessary existence is a being that exists in all possible worlds and whose existence is self-evident and necessary. This being is God, who is the cause of all other beings and is the ultimate explanation of the existence and order of the universe.

Ibn Sina’s argument for the necessary existence can be summarized as follows:

  1. Every being in the universe is either necessary or contingent.
  2. Contingent beings are those that depend on something else for their existence and can either exist or not exist.
  3. Necessary beings, on the other hand, are those that exist necessarily and can not exist.
  4. The universe contains contingent beings, which means that there must be a necessary being that causes their existence.
  5. This necessary being is God, who is the cause of all other beings and whose existence is self-evident and necessary.

Ibn Sina’s argument for the necessary existence is based on a combination of metaphysical, epistemological, and theological considerations. He believed that the necessary existence is the foundation of all reality and that its existence can be known through reason and intuition.

In addition to his argument for the necessary existence, Ibn Sina also developed a detailed philosophical system that includes discussions on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. His ideas had a significant influence on the development of Islamic philosophy and also had an impact on Western philosophy through his works being translated into Latin and studied by medieval philosophers.

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) did not believe in the eternity of atoms. In fact, he held that atoms are created by God and are not eternal. According to Ibn Sina, God created atoms and endowed them with specific properties and qualities, such as shape, size, and weight. He believed that atoms are the building blocks of matter and that they combine to form the objects that we see around us.

Ibn Sina’s views on atoms were influenced by the Aristotelian tradition, which held that matter is composed of four basic elements – earth, water, air, and fire. However, Ibn Sina went beyond Aristotle’s ideas and developed a more sophisticated theory of matter and atoms. He believed that atoms are not indivisible, as Aristotle thought, but can be divided into smaller parts.

God Created Time Infinitely?

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) believed that God created time infinitely. According to his philosophy, time is an infinite and continuous succession of moments that are related to each other through cause and effect. Each moment is caused by the preceding moment and is the cause of the subsequent moment.

Ibn Sina argued that time is created by God and is not eternal in itself. However, he believed that God created time infinitely, which means that time has no beginning or end. For Ibn Sina, the infinite nature of time is necessary in order to account for the existence and persistence of the universe.

In addition to his belief in the infinity of time, Ibn Sina also held that time is a necessary attribute of the universe. He argued that without time, there would be no change or motion, and the universe would be static and unchanging.

Overall, Ibn Sina believed that time is a created attribute of the universe that is infinite and necessary for the existence and persistence of the universe. Ibn Sina’s views on time confused the scholars, and they misunderstood his interpretations. They argued that infinite time necessitates an eternal universe, as per Aristotle. So, many scholars condemned Ibn Sina for “alleged” heresy.

Did Ibn Sina Believe in Eternal World?

No, Ibn Sina did not believe in an eternal physical world. In fact, he believed that the universe is a contingent being that depends on a necessary being (God) for its existence. According to his philosophy, the universe was created by God at a specific point in time, and it is subject to change and impermanence.

Ibn Sina argued that the universe is a composite being that is composed of matter and form. The matter is the substratum of the universe, while the form is the organizing principle that gives shape and structure to matter. Both matter and form are contingent beings that depend on the necessary being (God) for their existence.

Furthermore, Ibn Sina believed that the universe is subject to continuous change and transformation, which is caused by the interaction between matter and form. This process of change and transformation is a result of the causal relations that exist between the various elements of the universe.

Causal Chain & Infinite Time

The idea of a causal chain and the concept of infinite time are related but distinct concepts. A causal chain refers to the sequence of cause-and-effect relationships that connect events or phenomena in the universe. An infinite causal chain is one in which there is no ultimate or first cause, but rather an infinite regress of causes and effects stretching back into the past.

In contrast, the concept of infinite time refers to the idea that time has no beginning or end and has existed infinitely in the past and will continue to exist infinitely into the future. This concept is often associated with Ibn Sina’s philosophy, which posits that time is infinite and has always existed.

While these two concepts are related in that an infinite causal chain implies an infinite duration of time, they are not identical. Though it is possible to conceive of an infinite causal chain in a universe with a finite duration of time, and vice versa, Ibn Taymiyah believed in the infinite causal chain that existed before the creation of seven heavens and earth.

Ibn Taymiyyah, a prominent medieval Islamic theologian, and philosopher believed in the concept of an infinite causal chain, also known as the doctrine of infinite regress. According to this doctrine, there is no first cause or ultimate explanation for the existence of the universe, but rather, there is an infinite chain of causes and effects stretching back into the past.

If we create space for Ibn Taymiyah, why not for Ibn Sina? While both believed in infinite time this way or that way. Actually, both scholars affirmed the creation of time and space. So, none of the two should be alleged for heresy, based on their views on infinite time.

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