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  • 7/12/2005

Dictionary of Islamic Philosophical Terms


A flash of illumination or inspiration from God in the soul of man, which does not tarry long.

Bari Irminiyas:

De Interpretatione (The Interpretation), the title of the second of Aristotle’s book on logic, also named al-‘Ibarah or al-Tafsir; it deals with the formation of different kinds of propositions through the combination of simple ideas or terms.Badihat: Self-evident data or premises, i.e. propositions the truth of which is open to direct inspection and require no appeal to other evidence, like the statement that a part is les than the whole of which it is the part or that two contradictories cannot obtain in the same individual at the same time.


That to which we give our assent without any question or investigation; opposed to nazari.Barzakh: Lit. "the intervening space", but technically the term denotes the "world of Ideas" which is considered intermediary between the material or phenomenal world and the world of pure spirits (mufariqat) as well as of God. In the philosophy of Illuminationism (al-hikmat al-ishraqiyah) barzakh means simply boy as opposed to light (nur.). Barzakhs, thus are dark bodies which become illuminated through the light received from the spirit. The heavenly spheres being bodily are also barzakhs, but they are living barzakhs as compared to the physical bodies of this world which are dead barzakhs.


The term is used in philosophy in various slightly different senses: (1) mode of argumentation; (2) the argument itself; and (3) the manifest evidence or proof of a convincing argument –in this last sense the term is also used in the Qur’an (4:174; 12:24).al-Burhan: The Arabic title given to Aristotle’s fourth book on logic, viz. Analytica Posteriora or the Second Analytics.

al-Burhan al-inni:

The mode of reasoning which proceeds from effect to cause; as "a proof that a thing is", it starts from the particular fact which is given or is perceived and infers the cause or reason of its existence; also called technically istidlal as opposed to ta‘lilal-Burhan al-tatbiqi: A mode of argument employed to disprove the possibility of the infinite regress of causes as, for example, in the cosmological argument for the existence of God; more generally the term denotes the impossibility of the infinite series of any successive sequence of events in the past or in the future.

al-Burhan al-khatabi:

The rhetorical argument based on premisses of the kind of maqbulat  and maznunat .al-Burhan al-siddiqin:"The argument of the truthful ones", i.e. a kind of teleological argument employed by the prophets and saints, which much like al-burhan al-inni, starts from the signs of God, manifest in the natural phenomena and in men’s own selves, and thereby establish the existence of God.

 al-Burhan al-qati‘:

Decisive proof or apodictic demonstration. See al-burhan al-mutlaq.al-Burhan al-limi: The mode of reasoning which procees from a cause to its effect. As "a proof why a thing is", it starts from the cause or the universal and deduces the effect or the particular from it: the cause here is not merely the efficient cause ( al-‘illat al-fa‘iliyah, q.v.) but also the formal cause (al-‘illat al-suriyah), i.e. the reason why a thing is; technically also called ta‘lil as opposed to istidlal.

 al-Burhan al-mutlaq:

Absolute proof or apodictic demonstration of a conclusion in a logical syllogism from propositions or premisses which are certain and self-evident, i.e. such as belong to the category of yaqiniyat.

 al-Basa’it al-ustuqussiyah:

"The elemental simples", i.e. the four elements: fire, air, water and earth. al-Vasa’it al-mjarradah: "The abstract simples," an expression used by Mulla Sadra (979-1050/1571-1640) to denote the intelligences and souls of the celestial spheres. al-Basait al-‘aqli:"Conceptually simple", i.e. of which it is impossible to think that it could be divided even mentally, for example a point in geometry.


"Sight": it is power placed in the two hollow nerves which meet each other in the brain; thence they separate and go to the two eyeballs. By this power are perceived rays of light, colors, shapes, sizes, motions, the beautiful and the ugly and other things. There are, however, three different theories of vision discussed by the Muslim philosophers.According to the theory labeled as Platonic theory of vision; a ray of light emanating from the eye falls on the surface of an object, and this enables us to see it. Ibn Sina, however, considers this theory untenable; for were it true we should be able to see things in the dark as we see them in the light.

According to the second theory, it is the formative faculty (al-quwwat al-mutasawwirah, q.v.) itself which, so to say, goes out to the object to meet it, and hence we see it. This theory too is untenable; for were it true we would not be able to distinguish the objects which are absent from those which are present.

The third theory, which is called the Aristotelian theory of vision, holds that whenever light falls on an object its shape transmitted through the various transparent media is imprinted on the vitreous humour of the eye, and hence we see it.


The Arabicised title of Aristotle’s Poetica or the Poetics, (the other variant being Butiqa), in Arabic entitled also as al-Shi‘r; generally considered by Muslim philosophers to be one of Aristotle’s books on logic, i.e. the last part of the logical Organon (al-Arghanun) which deals with the fine art of stirring the imagination and soul of the audience through the magic of words.
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