Monday, November 20, 2017 - 1 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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The Qur`an Attending to the Intellect as an Action or Power

The Qur`an Attending to the Intellect as an Action or Power


Certain scholars believe that the Qur`an attends to the intellect as an action and not as a substance or power. In truth this is a flawed conclusion, for the Noble Qur`an refers to the intellect in both ways, the latter specifically when (on sixteen occasions) it refers to “the possessors of insight” (ulu al-bab, the term albab being the plural of lubb (lit., kernel), i.e. the intellect). It is as though the Qur`an refers to the intellect as the core of man, and the body its outer shell (we discussed this further in our book Reason and Knowledge in the Qur’an.) The Qur`an likewise often refers to the intellect as the “heart” (al-fu’ad), as in the verse, “And God brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and hearts (al-af’ida) that perhaps you would be grateful “ [16:78]. This means that God gave humans the tools of perception and experimentation and the “heart”—i.e. the intellect—as the instrument of logical reflection and deliberation, “Follow not that whereof you have no knowledge. Lo! the hearing and the sight and the heart (al-fu’ad)—of each of these it will be asked” [ 17:36] and “And assigned them ears and eyes and hearts (af’ida), but their ears and eyes and hearts availed them naught since they denied the revelations of God” [46:26]. Sometimes the Qur`an refers to the intellect as the heart with the term qalb, as in the verse, “Have they not traveled in the land, and have they hearts (qulub) wherewith to feel and ears wherewith to hear? For indeed it is not the hearts that grow blind but it is the hearts, which are in the bosoms, that grow blind” [22:46]. Regarding the inhabitants of Hellfire, God Most High says, “Having hearts (qulub) wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as cattle—nay, but they are worse! These are the neglectful” [7:179]. And the Qur`an refers to the intellect with the term al-nuha as in, “Lo! verily herein are portents for those of thought (uli l-nuha)” [20:54].

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