What is Farabi’s Theory of Emancipation?

What is Farabi’s Theory of Emancipation?

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

In Islam, as in other monotheistic religions, Allah created the universe later with His absolute will and power.

While this situation, which was tried to be based on philosophically by Kindi, was evident, for the first time Fârâbî went beyond the religious tradition and interpreted the God-existence relationship with the theory of “emergence or cosmic minds”.

There are some logical reasons that lead him to develop such a theory.

It is possible to list them as follows:

Accepting that Allah, the Absolute One, created this multitude directly, does not comply with the “principle of tawhid”, as it would suggest that there is also a multiplicity in Himself; there is only one thing left.
Depending on the concept of time that comes to the fore with the mention of the “afterlife” of creation, whether God’s will before He created the world is the same or different; whether it was inactive before creating the universe … etc. paradoxes emerge.
In the face of the belief that the world was created later, it can be asked whether there is another will and power that prevents Allah from creating it before or later, or that requires him to create it at the moment called “after”.
In addition, the acceptance of “afterward” and “direct” creation means attributing the evil in the world to Allah, who is the absolute good.

Fârâbî wanted to ground the theory of emanation in order to eliminate such drawbacks, thus interpreting the world in a hierarchical order.


According to the philosopher, God, who is the first, necessary, the absolute source of all kinds of goodness and perfection, and therefore cannot be thought of as aiming at anything in terms of meeting a need, cannot have taken the world as a goal. In that case, the world came into existence with a kind of necessity and by “overflowing” (emergence, feyezan). In other words, Allah’s competence, generosity and grace are sufficient reasons for existence to overflow without the need for a will.

On the other hand, Allah, the absolute being, knows his essence (self) by virtue of being pure reason; that is, he is both “reason”, “aqil” (from the mind) and “ma’kûl” (intellect). As a result of the activity stemming from this “absolute consciousness”, the “first mind” “emerged” from it, which is also suitable for the principle of “only one interest out of nowhere”.

However, this approach brings with it the idea of ​​the eternity of the world; since Allah’s essence and knowledge are eternal, and since He has always known its essence, it is clear that the being, which is the product of this knowledge, will also be eternal.

The “first intellect” is a “necessary” (possible) entity in relation to Allah, but in essence, it is conscious of this situation. That is, he knows his principle, God, and himself, which means that he has the character of plurality.

The second intellect comes into existence when the first mind knows its principle, Allah, and the substance of the first celestial sphere comes from knowing that the first celestial sphere (falek) is self-contingent because it knows its own essence. This process and operation continues in the same way until the tenth mind, which is the mind of the moon-floor and is considered the principle of all kinds of changes in the sublunar realm.

The tenth mind is the “active mind”, which is also called the “giver of forms” (vahib’s-suver) due to its cosmological function, and it has a central position in Fârâbî’s understanding of knowledge, morality and revelation.

In this respect, the philosopher identifies him with Gabriel, the angel of revelation. However, in religion, Gabriel has no cosmological duty other than to convey the revelation he received from Allah to the prophet. (Fârâbî, 1986: 55-62; 1984: 206 et al.; Kaya, 1995: 150).

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook