Fiqh al-Akbar Commentary (al-Maghnisawi)

Appendix Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar_Conflict of Wills

Appendix

Omnipotence and Conflict of Wills

  • The Islamic doctrine of God eschews any possible internal divisions, multiple manifestations or unfolding ‘partitive’ self-consciousnesses within God.
  • God is unique and unequal and has no co-sharer of His attributes and properties.
  • His ontological status is radically different from created entities and hence He possesses no physical or even metaphysical composition.
  • God exemplifies in being all of His Attributes, i.e. He just is with all His Attributes.
  • It is logically impossible that there exist equal Omnipotent deities that are both designated as being ‘God’,[1] e.g. Consider the following:

Let p = the proposition: ‘the wills of two persons, x and y conflict with each other’.

Let q = the proposition: ‘the wills of two essentially Omnipotent beings, x and y conflict with each other’ (N.B. by ‘essential’ is meant that at least, a being has the property of Omnipotence in every logically possible world in which it exists).

Let r = the proposition: ‘the wills of two essentially Omnipotent beings, x and y are thwarted by each other’.

[1] Necessarily, the wills of two persons, x and y may conflict with each other.

Therefore,

[2] Necessarily, if there is an omnipotent being x and an omnipotent being y then the wills of these two essentially Omnipotent beings, x and y may conflict with each other.

[3] It is necessarily false that the wills of two essentially Omnipotent beings, x and y conflict with each other.

Therefore,

[4] It is necessarily false that the wills of two essentially Omnipotent beings, x and y could conflict with each other.

Therefore,

[5] It is necessarily false that there is an omnipotent being x and an omnipotent being y. (From 2 & 4).

[6] There can only be one being who is essentially Omnipotent

Therefore,

7. It is necessarily false that there be two Gods. (From 5 & 6).

If the will of x was thwarted by the will of y (and vice versa) and both are essentially omnipotent beings, then in what sense could x (or y) be called Omnipotent? The Qur’anic deity, therefore, has Omniscience essentially as His Attribute and nothing else exists or can logically exist that shares in this attribute.[2]


[1]  In the Islamic tradition, this is known as the argument form ‘mutual hindrance’ (al-tamanu’).

[2] The discussion is based on Ghazzali’s statement: “…were there two gods and one of them resolved on a course of action, the second would be either obliged to aid him and [sic] thereby demonstrating that he was a subordinate being and not an all-powerful god, or would be able to oppose and resist thereby demonstrating that he was the all-powerful and the first weak and deficient, not an all-powerful god.” See Ghazzali, al-Risalah al-Qudsiyyah (= Tibawi’s edn.), p.40.

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