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Dictionary of Islamic Philosophical Terms


Al-ummahat al-sufliyah:

“the lower mothers”: and expression used to denote the four elements: fire, air, water, and earth.Al-ummahat al-‘ulwiyah:“the higher mothers”: as opposed to al-ummahat al-sufliyah (the lower mothers) the term denotes the intelligences and souls of the celestial spheres.

Al-ummahat al-fada’il:

"The cardinal virtues ", e.g. Plato’s four cardinal virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. Cardinal virtues are "the mothers of virtues", i.e. Other virtues are regarded as merely derivative forms of these virtues.Aan:The instant or present moment as an indivisible wedge between past and future.


Analytica Priora or the First Analystics: Aristotle’s third book on logic; other variants areAnulutiqa and AnalutiqaAwwal– also entitled asal-Qiyas in Arabic; it deals with the combination of propositions in the different forms of syllogism (qiyas).

Analutiqa Thani:

Analytica Posteriora or the Second Analystics: Aristotle’s fourth book on logic; other variants areAbuditiqta orAfudiqtiqi, also entitled asal-Burhan in Arabic; it deals with the conditions to be fulfilled by the premises of a valid demonstration and thus distinguishes a sound syllogism from an unsound one.Intiza'i:Abstract

Al-insan al-kamil:

"The perfect man", i.e. the one in whom are combined all the various attributes of divinity and humanity, or one who has realised in his person all levels of being –a notion common to the Muslim philosophers and mystics. Interesting to note is the highly eclectic(?) conception of "the perfect man" held by the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-Safa, q.v.): "The perfect man" is of East Persian origin, Arabian in faith, Babylonian in education, Hebrew in astuteness, a disciple of Christ in conduct, as pious as a Syrian monk, a Greek in natural sciences, an Indian in the interpretation of mysteries and, above all a Sufi or a mystic in his whole spiritual outlook".Aan-i sayyal:The present moment in constant flux and so ever indivisible.


Lit. "being acted on:, but technically the category of "passion" as one of the ten Aristotelian categories (al-maqulat al-‘ashr) also calledyanfa‘il (to be acted on).Infi‘al as opposed tofi‘l (the category of action) is the reception of the effect of an affecting agent.Infi'alat:Sensible qualities of things or persons such as are of transitory nature, for example the blush on the face of man on account some embarrassment or pallidness on account of fear; the sudden change of one state into another is calledistihalah ; opposed to infi‘aliyat.


Sensible qualities of things such as are firmly rooted in them like sweetness in honey or salinity in brine; opposed to infi‘alat .Inqida':Lapse, passing away.tajaddud wa inqida': renewal and lapse(AnAc)

Al-anwar al-mudabbirah:

"The regent lights", which according to the philosophers of Illuminationism (Ishraqiyun) govern the affairs of the celestial spheres.Anulutiqa:AnalyticaPriora or theFirstAnalystics, Aristotle’s third book on logic; see Analutiqa.


"Thatness" of a thing, i.e. its existence as opposed to quiddity. In God alone, according to the Muslim philosophers, is His essence one with His existence; in everything else it is possible to think of its essence without knowing whether it exists or not. The term anniyah is used sometimes in the sense ofhuwiyah ("itness") of a thing, i.e. its self-identity.Ahl al-khibrah:Persons possessing practical experience in a field of study; the experts in a subject.

Ahl al-‘ulwiyah:

People possessed with heavenly visions.Ahl al-mazall:Lit. "the people of the shaded place", a name given to the Stoics: seeashab al-mazallah andrawaqiyah.

Ahl al-mizan:

Lit. "the people of the balance", but technically the term means simply logicians because of their use of logic, which is sometimes called "the science of balance" (‘ilm al- mizan) to weigh the truth and falsity of statements and arguments.Ihmal:Indetermination as to the quantity of a proposition (opposed toihsar); seeal-qadiyat al-muhmalah.


Eudemina Ethics, the title of one of the three books by Aristotle on ethics; see Udimas.Awwaliyat:A priori data or premises which have the status of first principles, i.e. the propositions which are inherent in the intellectual faculty of man–the Laws of Thought, for example.


Arabicised form of the Greek word Isagoge meaning "introduction", sometimes translated asal-Madkhal. It is originally an Introduction to Aristotle’s logical treatise on Categories (al-Qatighuriyas, q.v.) composed by Porphyry (Firfuriyus, q.v.). It deals with the five predicates (al-alfaz al-khamsah, q.v.) and also with the terms of speech and their abstract meanings. This little treatise, first translated into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ has been commented on a number of times. Besides the adaptations and epitomes of this work, many independent works on logic by Muslim philosophers have been entitled asal-Isaghuji, the most famous of them being one byal-Abhari (c.597-664, c.1200-1265).Aina:Lit. "Where?" but technically the category of place as one of the ten Aristotelian categories (al-maqulat al-‘ashr); it denotes the particular place where a thing is.Ayyu:"Which one?" or "What?" –One of the interrogative pronouns used in order to discuss the form and matter of definitions and propositions in connection with the problems that arise in science.Ayyan denotes that form of the question which is put to know the differential quality of a thing in order to distinguish it from other things belonging to the same class; see also muta‘alliqat al-qiyas wa‘l-burhan.

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