Intellect as first created being

‘Adud al-Din Iji (c. 1300-55), Kitab al-Mawaqif (Beirut 1997, vol. 2), IV.4.1, 684:

On the intellect. Establishing its existence.  The philosophers say: what God the exalted first created is the intellect, just as a text of the hadith reports.  And they argue for it in two ways:

The first [way]: God the exalted is one. Hence, nothing begins to proceed from Him except one [thing].  That thing cannot be a body, due to [1] its composition and due to [2] matter and form necessarily preceding it. Nor one of its parts since it isn’t independent in existence without the other. Nor an accident since it doesn’t have existence apart from the substance. Nor a soul, since it doesn’t have a causal influence alone without a body, and so it’s impossible that it be a cause for what is posterior to it.  Therefore, it has been determined that it is an intellect.

Iji’s student, Sayyid Sharif Jurjani (d. circa 1413), in his Sharh al-Mawaqif, Ibid., 686-7, explicates the above Avicennian argument as follows:

The first [way]: God the exalted is truly one, there being no multiplicity in Him whatsoever in any respect. Hence, nothing begins to proceed from Him except one [thing]That thing proceeding from Him cannot be a body due to [1] its composition; so if it proceeds first, then a plurality of proceeding things would be introduced into the principal level.  And due to [2] matter and form necessarily preceding it; for the part precedes the whole. So if it were the first thing to have proceeded, then it would have preceded its parts. Nor, moreover, can the first thing proceeding be one of its parts, since it isn’t independent in existence without the other, and hence isn’t independent in causal influence either.   But the first proceeding thing is independent in existence and causal influence together. Nor [can it be] an accident, since it doesn’t have existence apart from the substance, which is its substrate – and so how can it exist before it? Nor [can it be] a soul, since it doesn’t have a causal influence alone without a body, which is its instrument. And so it’s impossible that it be a cause for what is posterior to it, which is [something] necessary for that which proceeds first. Therefore, it has been determined that the first thing proceeding is an intellect.

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