Al-Kharida al-Bahia (the Glimmering Pearl) is an introductory text for students of ‘ilm Al-Kalam. Like many other works written for teaching purposes in the Islamic world, the Kharida is actually a poem. Students studying this poem under a teacher, would be expected to memorize the entire text, before attending lessons with their teacher in which he would commentate on each line.

What follows is a summarized English commentary on the Kharida. Each chapter will begin with a translated portion of the poem, followed by a commentary on that portion. The commentary draws from material found elsewhere on this blog, but simplifies this material further. There is also greater focus on the textual basis for the Ash’ari position on various creedal issues.

Download: Al-Kharida Al-Bahia English Commentary

10 thoughts on “An English Commentary on the Kharida

  1. I would like to ask you something about the proof of bodies’ emergence: are you looking to prove that each body that exists right now has emerged or that the entire world has emerged?
    Also Why do you seek to demonstrate the impossibility of infinite regress since according to Ashari’s theology god emerges every body?
    شكرا على اجابتي

    1. “Are you looking to prove that each body that exists right now has emerged or that the entire world has emerged?”

      Both. Each body is emergent by virtue of its being a body. And the set of all bodies is emergent as well.

      “Also Why do you seek to demonstrate the impossibility of infinite regress since according to Ashari’s theology god emerges every body?”

      For many reasons.

      1- The Asha’ira claim that God creates each body, but merely claiming something to be true is often not enough. You need to prove that what you say is true as well. And to actually prove that God creates each body, you need to demonstrate the impossibility of an infinite regress.

      2- The proof provided for the emergence of each body requires us to demonstrate the impossibility of an infinite regress. We show that the set of all accidents (أعراض) is emergent, and to do this we appeal to the impossibility of an infinite regress. From there, we argue that a body cannot exist without accidents. And since the set of all accidents is emergent, it is impossible for a beginningless body to exist.

      3- To preemptively answer an atheist who might say: “what if the bodies that exist right now were created by the bodies that preceded them. And those bodies that preceded them were created by even older bodies that preceded them. And so on and so forth, since eternity past. This would mean that the existence of God is not necessary, since it is possible to explain the existence of current bodies by positing the existence of an infinite number of creators that preceded them”. So by showing that an infinite regress is impossible, we would have answered the above objection.

      4- To answer the Philosophers, who believe that Allah ﷻ is a necessitating cause (meaning: Allah ﷻ’s effect must exist so long as He does). Their belief entails that it be impossible for Allah ﷻ to have chosen to not-create the world. That is contrary to the fundamental belief of Muslims, who claim that Allah ﷻ is a volitional actor (فاعل مختار). One who can choose between either creating or not-creating. Not a necessitating cause (موجب بالذات) like the Philosophers believe.

      5- To answer the followers of false religions like Christianity, who believe that God can change. And one of the proofs for God’s immutability (i.e. changlessness) is built upon the impossibility of an infinite regress. More on this here.

      Amongst many other reasons.

    1. “Can you please write the argument in form of premises it is still unclear to me?”

      – Premise 1: Bodies cannot exist without accidents.
      – Premise 2: Whatever cannot exist without accidents, is emergent.
      – Conclusion: Therefore, bodies are emergent.

      Proof for premise 1:

      .Bodies cannot exist without being either at rest or in motion.
      .Each of rest and motion is an accident.
      .Thus, bodies cannot exist without accidents.

      Proof for premise 2:

      .Each accident is emergent because each exists contingently.
      .The set of all accidents is emergent because an infinite regress is impossible.
      .A being that cannot exist without accidents, could not have existed before the set of all accidents emerged.
      .Thus, a being that cannot exist without accidents, cannot be beginningless. Since the set of all accidents is emergent, and the being in question could not have existed before the set of all accidents emerged.

      If the above is still unclear, please let me know exactly which part of it isn’t, so we can focus on that.

      “Can I please have you e-mail too so I can contact you directly without using the comment section?”

      I would prefer that you post your questions as public comments. Because a public discussion would be more beneficial for other readers that might have a similar question. But if you want to talk in private, I sent you a message to the address you’ve used to post your comments.

      “As far As I can see the “emergence argument is different from william craig’s cosmological argument.”

      The Kalam Cosmological Argument that William Lane Craig propagates, is what the Mutakalimun hundreds of years ago called “Burhan Al-Huduth” or “Daleel Al-Huduth”. The most popular formulation of which goes:

      – Premise 1: Whatever emerges into existence, requires a being to bring it into existence.
      – Premise 2: The world is emergent.
      – Conclusion: Therefore, the world requires a being to bring it into existence.

      The Proof for the Emergence of Bodies (“Burhan Huduth Al-Ajsam”) is used to prove the second premise in the above argument. Since the world (i.e. the stars, the planets, the oceans, the mountains, the trees, the animals… etc.) is a collection of bodies, with accidents subsisting within them.

  2. السلام عليكم و الرحمة الله و بركاته
    Ok my brother, now I can see a couple points that are questionnable:
    “.Each accident is emergent because each exists contingently.”
    contingency implies not emergence as far as I can see
    “The set of all accidents is emergent because an infinite regress is impossible.”
    Please can you break this down for me in form of premises too because it is unclear.
    can the argument be constructed sans accident substance distinction?
    What is your rigorous definition for “emergence” your book is very concise.
    I have also with the first premise of the kalaam argument too but leave that for another day.
    Finally I want to thank you for helping me brother interact with kalaam in english because reading the likes of Al Razi in Arabic was too hard for me.

    1. Wa ‘Alaykum Aasalam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

      “What is your rigorous definition for emergence”

      As per my response to your comment on another article, emergence (حدوث) is coming into existence. Something entering existence after it was non-existent. Something beginning to exist. I don’t understand what you seek when you ask for a “rigorous definition”. The concept is very clear.

      “Contingency implies not emergence as far as I can see”

      Are you asking: what is the proof that every contingent is emergent? If so, this was discussed here.

      If I misunderstood you, please elaborate.

      “Please can you break this down for me in form of premises too because it is unclear.”

      -Premise 1: Every accident is an event (“event” is synonymous with emergent).
      -Premise 2: It is impossible for an infinite number of events to have emerged in the past.
      -Conclusion: Therefore, it is impossible for an infinite number of accidents to have emerged in the past.

      Proof for Premise 1:

      .The existence of each accident is not necessary for the being it is attributed to. This is by virtue of its being an accident.
      .Whatever does not exist necessarily, exists contingently. And whatever exists contingently, is emergent.
      .Therefore, each accident exists contingently, and is emergent.

      Proof for Premise 2:

      .You can use any of the many arguments for the impossibility of an infinite regress to prove this. For example:
      -Premise 2.1: A sequence of events that comes to an end, must be emergent.
      -Premise 2.2: The past is a sequence of events that comes to an end.
      -Conclusion: Therefore, the past must be emergent.
      .Proof for Premise 2.1: an infinitely long duration is endless by virtue of what it is. Every event would be followed by another, without end. And what is endless cannot come to an end. Thus, if a duration came to an end, then this duration is not infinitely long. And if the duration is not infinitely long, then it is emergent.
      .Proof for Premise 2.2: The past is nothing more than the sequence of events leading up to, and ending with the present moment. So the past has an endpoint by virtue of what it is.
      .More on this here.

      “Can the argument be constructed sans accident substance distinction?”

      Do you believe the distinction is problematic? Why do you think so?

      To answer your question: the above argument requires the distinction to be made. But there are other arguments for the emergence of bodies which do not require us to make this distinction. However this argument is the most useful one, because it also serves us in other areas (in proving that God is necessarily changeless for example).

      “I have also with the first premise of the kalaam argument”

      If something emerged into existence, it either emerged by virtue of some existent, or by virtue of nothing.

      It cannot be by nothing, because all we mean by “nothing” is the lack of everything. Including the lack of ability to bring into existence.

      So since there is no potential for something to emerge by nothing, whatever emerges into existence must have emerged by virtue of some existent that brought it into existence.

      Many scholars also argue that this first premise is axiomatically true (بدهي).

      “Finally I want to thank you for helping me brother interact with kalaam in english because reading the likes of Al Razi in Arabic was too hard for me.”

      I am glad you’re finding this useful. If I may suggest: try looking for online lessons on the basic books of Kalam, and work your way up to more advanced texts from there. Most of Al-Razi’s material wasn’t written for beginners.

      Shaykh Sa’eed Fodah has material that is freely available on Youtube. His students also have some great resources. I recommend Shaykh Muhammed Abu Ghoush. See his two lectures on the basics of Kalam (highly recommended): here and here.

      He has recorded courses on various texts of Kalam on the same channel. Including his course on Al-Kharida Al-Bahia, which you can find here.

      If you understand Arabic you should capitalize on this ability. Whatever I post on this blog, will never reach even 1% of whats available in Arabic.

  3. السلام عليكم و الرحمة الله و بركاته
    Having read your useful answer, I have come to see one fundamental issue which is of Tasalsul. First of all whe you define it you say it “is the dependence of a thing’s existence on the fulfillment of an infinite number of conditions.” but when you go to refute it you only the possibility of infinite events in the past(https://keystotheunseen.com/2017/06/16/the-impossibility-of-tasalsul/)
    But then to prove the emergence contingency implication you say the following:
    “if the specifier were contingent, then that specifier would itself be contingent upon a second specifier to have preferred its existence. And that second specifier would either be necessary or contingent. And so on, and so forth.”
    You discard it as tasalsul using the first definition not the second definition that you “proved”
    But concerning your proof you say Tasalsul “is impossible because an infinity of events is an endless number by events, and what is endless cannot come to an end” . But there is a clear fallacy here, an infinte past means an endless amount of events IN the past and doesn’t imply that it must be endless in the present. And even if that’s true the numbre of events in timi is endless because each moment there is an event that is adding so the number can be considered to be endless.
    Concerning Craig’s first premise, the issue is concerning the definition of huduth. He says that whatever begins to exist has a cause. What we intuitivly understand by that is whatever didn’t exist in a prior time and then came into existence must have a cause. However, supposing past is finite, in the first moment of time, there isn’t any prior time therefore if the universe began to exist at the first moment the first premise doesn’t apply to it.
    Thank you my brother in the religion for your patience and for giving me your attention to help me grow more aware.

    1. Wa ‘Alaykum Aasalam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

      “You discard it as tasalsul using the first definition not the second definition that you “proved”

      This is a sound criticism. The reason I focused on the Tasalsul of time, is because our main opponents on this issue (the Philosophers) agree that the Tasalsul of causes (that an effect be caused by an infinite chain of contingent causes) is impossible. They only disagree with the Mutakalimun in believing that the Tasalsul of time (that an event be preceded by an infinite number of other events, notwithstanding the lack of a causal relation between them) is impossible.

      Perhaps I’ll edit that Tasalsul article and include a proof against the Tasalsul of causes later. But I’ll outline one of the proofs against the Tasalsul of causes now:

      Premise 1: If the set of all contingents is contingent, then this set depends on a necessary being for its existence.
      Premise 2: The set of all contingents is contingent.
      Conclusion: Therefore, this set depends on a necessary being for its existence.

      Proof for Premise 1:
      .That which is contingent depends on an extrinsic effecter to exist
      .An effecter that is extrinsic to the set of all contingents, is necessary.
      .Thus, the extrinsic effecter by virtue of which the set of all contingents exists, if this set is contingent, must be necessary.

      Proof for Premise 2:
      .A composite depends on the existence of each of its parts to exist.
      .What depends on the existence of contingents to exist, is contingent a fortiori.
      .Thus, a composite of contingents, is contingent.
      .The set of all contingents is a composite of contingents.
      .Thus, the set of all contingents is contingent.

      There are many other proofs against the Tasalsul of causes. And like mentioned above, you’ll find them in both the books of the Philosophers, as well as in the books of the Mutakalimun.

      “But concerning your proof you say Tasalsul “is impossible because an infinity of events is an endless number by events, and what is endless cannot come to an end” . But there is a clear fallacy here, an infinte past means an endless amount of events IN the past and doesn’t imply that it must be endless in the present. And even if that’s true the numbre of events in timi is endless because each moment there is an event that is adding so the number can be considered to be endless.”

      Your saying: “events IN the past and doesn’t imply that it must be endless in the present” it does. Since time progresses from the past leading up to the present, not the other way around.

      Claiming that the past is beginningless, is tantamount to claiming that this duration which we call the “past” is comprised of an infinite number of events. And since time progress from the past towards the present, this necessarily entails that each event in this duration be followed by another, without end. In other words, an endless progression of events. But this is contradicted by the fact that this duration actually comes to an end with the emergence of the present moment. So since supposing an infinite past necessitates a contradiction (an endless progression coming to an end), the past is necessarily finite.

      Your saying: “And even if that’s true the numbre of events in timi is endless because each moment there is an event that is adding so the number can be considered to be endless.” I did not understand. Pick any moment on the time line. To claim that the past is infinite, is to claim that the duration preceding this specified moment is infinitely long. This is what we claim is impossible (i.e. we claim the duration preceding this specified moment is necessarily finite). What’s being added here?

      “What we intuitivly understand by that is whatever didn’t exist in a prior time and then came into existence must have a cause. However, supposing past is finite, in the first moment of time, there isn’t any prior time therefore if the universe began to exist at the first moment the first premise doesn’t apply to it.”

      We deliberately do not include any mention of time when defining emergence. This is because we claim that time is not a condition for emergence. Your problem is that you’re conceptualizing time to be a sort of container, outside of which concepts like “before” and “after” are meaningless. Perhaps this article will help clarify some things.

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