A glossary of terms used in articles on Keys to the Unseen. New terms will be added periodically, as new articles are posted. A transliteration of the Arabic equivalent of each term will be added when appropriate.
A quality that is not intrinsic to the being it is attributed to. Such that if this quality ceases to exist, it is not necessary for this being to cease to exist. For example: motion.
The name of God, glorified is He.
Ambiguous (Dhani Al-Dalala):
A text whose language allows for a multiplicity of interpretations for.
Axiomatic Knowledge (‘ilm Badihi):
Information that does not require pondering to be known.
An existent essence which does not subsist within another essence.
A being with dimensions (a height, width, or depth) stretched out in space. For example: planets.
Of a set of propositions; when it is impossible for all of the propositions in the set to be false.
Conceptual Knowledge (‘ilm Taswiri):
Knowledge of a meaning. For example: knowledge of what “God” means. This known meaning is called a concept.
An essence’s existence being dependent on an essence other than it.
An existent possible essence.
Of God; the bringing of contingents into existence by the power and will of a creator. For example: the creation of earth, which is an act of God.
Decisively Reliable (Qat’i Al-Thubut):
A report that has been mass transmitted from the Prophet ﷺ, such that we are certain that he conveyed it. For example: the Quran.
An essence’s coming into existence.
An essence whose existence is preceded by its non-existence. Also called an event.
That which makes a thing itself. For example: the essence of an even number, is that it is an integer that is divisible by two.
The necessary being attributed with all the necessary qualities, the beginningless creator.
1. Of humans; an emergent reaction in the ears, by which knowledge is acquired.
2. Of God; a necessary quality entailing awareness of everything that can be heard, for the attributed being.
Impossible Essence (Mumtani’ Al-Wujud):
An essence whose existence does not accept affirmation in of itself, since its existence would entail absurdity. It therefore must not-exist, and cannot exist. For example: a seven-faced cube.
Does not have a potential to change.
In of Itself:
By virtue of the subject’s essence.
A being that is not a body.
Indecisively Reliable (Dhani Al-Thubut):
A report that has not been mass transmitted from the Prophet ﷺ, such that we are uncertain that he conveyed it.
Inferential Knowledge (‘ilm Nazari):
Information that does require pondering to be known.
1. (In Kalam) Acceptance of a proposition being true or false.
2. The decision of an authority.
Kalam (‘ilm Al-Kalam):
The knowledge of religious creeds, based on their decisive evidences.
1. (In Kalam) of humans; certain conviction that matches reality.
2. Of God; a necessary quality entailing the attributed being’s knowing of all that which can be known.
Law of Identity (Qanun Al-Huwiya):
The law of logic which dictates that a thing is itself.
Law of Non-Contradiction (Qanun Imtina’ Al-Tanaqud):
The law of logic which dictates that a proposition and its negation, are mutually exclusive, and collectively exhaustive.
Of God; a necessary quality entailing the satisfaction of the condition for knowledge, for the attributed being
Mass Transmitted (Mutawatir):
Of a report; being transmitted to us by so many independent witnesses, such that it would be nomically impossible for them to have all conspired to fabricate it. For example: the reports that lead us to know of the existence of countries which we have not yet visited.
A human who God reveals commandments to, and instructs to relay this revealed information to others.
A negation of nomic necessity, which God aids His prophet with, in order to prove this prophet’s truthfulness to doubters. It is equivalent to God saying: “this man tells the truth about Me.”
One of the messengers of God, and His final prophet. Peace be upon him.
Mujasim (pl. Mujasima):
One who believes that God is a body.
The one who will be held accountable in the hereafter for his choices in this life.
Mutakalim (pl. Mutakalimeen/Mutakalimun):
The scholars of Kalam. Those who seek to present the proofs for Islam’s truth, and disprove beliefs that conflict with Islam.
Of a set of propositions; when it is impossible for more than one proposition in the set to be true.
Necessary Essence (Wajib Al-Wujud):
An essence whose existence does not accept negation in of itself, since its non-existence would entail absurdity. It therefore must exist, and cannot not-exist. The only necessary essence is God.
Of a proposition; another statement composed of the same subject, and the same predicate, but with an inverse relation between them. For example: the negation of the proposition “even numbers are divisible by two” is “even numbers are not divisible by two”.
The uniform behaviour of the world, knowledge about which is acquired through experimentation and repeated observation.
Nomic Judgement (Hukm ‘Adi):
A judgement that cannot be reached, except by repeated observation.
Nomically Impossible (Mustahil ‘Adatan):
A proposition that violates normalcy. For example: “fire does not burn cotton”.
Nomically Necessary (Wajib ‘Adatan):
A proposition whose negation violates normalcy. For example: “fire burns cotton”.
Nomically Possible (Mumkin ‘Adatan):
A proposition that neither violates normalcy, nor whose negation violates normalcy. For example: “Zayd will have curry for lunch”.
Possible Essence (Mumkin Al-Wujud):
An essence whose existence accepts both affirmation and negation, since neither its existence nor its non-existence entails any absurdity. For example: Zayd.
Of God; a necessary quality entailing that the attributed being be able to create anything that can be created.
In a proposition; that which is related to the subject. For example: existence is the predicate in the proposition “God exists”.
A human who God reveals commandments to.
A statement affirming a positive or negative relation between two concepts. For example: “God exists” is a proposition affirming a positive relation between God and existence.
Propositional Knowledge (‘ilm Tasdiqi):
Knowledge of a relation between two concepts. For example: knowledge that “God exists”, where “existence” is related to “God”. The statement “God exists” is called a proposition.
An existent essence which subsists within another essence. Also called an attribute.
Rational Judgement (Hukm ‘Aqli):
A judgement that requires neither an appeal to revelation, nor repeated observation, in order to be reached. One that depends only on the essence of the subject, and the essence of the predicate, in the proposition being judged.
Rationally Impossible (Mustahil ‘Aqli):
A proposition that does not accept affirmation because affirming it would violate the law of identity. For example: the proposition “an even number is not divisible by two”.
Rationally Necessary (Wajib ‘Aqli):
A proposition that does not accept negation because negating it would violate the law of identity. For example: the proposition “an even number is divisible by two”.
Rationally Possible (Mumkin ‘Aqli):
A proposition that accepts both affirmation and negation because neither entails a violation of the law of identity. For example: the proposition “Zayd will die tomorrow”.
The human ability to use axiomatic knowledge, in order to acquire inferential knowledge.
In a proposition; the positive or negative relationship between the subject and predicate.
The Quran, and the Sunnah of the Messenger ﷺ.
Revelational Judgement (Hukm Shar’i):
A judgement that cannot be reached except by appealing to revelation.
Seeing (Basar or Ru’ya):
1. Of humans; an emergent reaction in the eye, by which knowledge is acquired.
2. Of God; a necessary quality entailing awareness of everything that can be seen, for the attributed being.
The contingent essence’s existence being preferred over its non-existence.
The extrinsic being that prefers existence over non-existence for a contingent essence.
The relation between the specifier and the specification.
Of God; a necessary quality entailing the signification of that which is known to the attributed being.
In a proposition; that which the predicate is related to. For example: God is the subject in the proposition “God exists”.
The belief that God is a body.
1. The dependence of a thing’s existence on an infinite number of conditions.
2. Of time; the present moment being preceded by an infinite number of past events.
Unequivocal (Qat’i Al-Dalala):
A text whose language does not allow for a multiplicity of interpretations for.
Of God; a necessary quality entailing that the attributed being be able to specify existence for that which existence can be specified for.
Willing Agent (Fa’il Mukhtar):
A being who brings its effects into existence by its power, and in accordance with its will. Such that it is possible for this being to choose to not bring its effect into existence.
Everything that exists except for God.