Skip links

The Eight Epistle of the Propaedeutic Sciences.

الرسالة الثامنة من القسم الرياضي في الصنائع العلمية والغرض منها

The Eight Epistle of the Propaedeutic Sciences on Practical Crafts and their Purpose.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful

الحمدلله وسلام على عباده الذين اصطفى آلله خير اما يشركون

All praise is for Allah, and Salaam upon his followers, whom He has chosen. Is Allah better or those whom they ascribe as partners [to Him]?


In this epistle the 9 th Imam, Moulana al-Imam Ahmed al-Mastur SA writes:

We have concluded discussing essences of a corporeal nature, and describing the primordial matters by which they are constituted, their form and composition; and how these composites are subjected to various conditions. In our epistles regarding the Natural Sciences, we explained how the senses perceive these composites by way of their accidents. Based upon this, in our epistles on Metaphysics we intend to discuss spiritual essences. This is because all creation is either abstract or tangible; essences or accidents, or comprised of both; having a form or being primordial matter, or being composed of both; physical or spiritual, or combining both.

All corporeal essences are perceivable to the senses and are subjected to being acted upon and influenced by external stimuli. On the other hand, spiritual essences possess agency and cannot be perceived through the senses. They are perceived by the intellect, through the intellectual actions they carry out. Since corporeal essences are the product of both spiritual crafts and practical crafts,we are required to elucidate physical crafts in the context of primordial matters; what such craft entails, their number, the manner in which they are carried out and how this craft reveals itself in primordial matters.This elucidation in turn will provide clear and irrefutable proof regarding the presence of spiritual beings; comprehending their essences, their range of movements, their astounding strength, their exceptional learning, their innovative skills and various actions.

Know, O benevolent and righteous brother, may Allah aid both you and us with His pneuma, that human crafts are two: theoretical and practical. Some aspects of the theoretical dimension have been discussed before. We say: Firstly, what is knowledge? Knowledge is the forms taken on by all which is known in the soul of the knowledgeable. My brother, know that knowledge cannot be considered knowledge but after ta´leem and ta´lum. Ta´leemis the awakening of a soul possessing the potential to become knowledgeable by a soul that already is. Ta´lumis for the soul to be able to comprehend what is known. My brother, know that the soul acquires all that is known in three ways: the senses, burhaan (deduction) and, finally, through contemplation and deliberation. We have composed epistles on all three of these means.However, at this point in time we wish to discuss practical craft:

Practical craft is when a learned craftsman brings out the percept in his thoughts, and places it in primordial matter. The product which has been crafted combines both primordial matter and the form. This process was originally initiated by the influence of al-Nafs al-Kulliyah (Universal Soul), with strength derived from the support of al-Aql al-Kulli (Universal Intellect), as directed by Allah the Almighty.

Know that, all crafts are one of four types: man made, natural, spiritual and divine. Man made crafts for example are the shapes and carvings made by artificers and the dying and colouring of corporeal entities, found in the markets of cities and other places. Natural crafts are the forms of animals, the shapes of plants and the colours of minerals and stones. Examples of spiritual crafts are (1) the orderliness of the centres of the Four Elements below the moon’s orbit: fire, air, water and earth, (2) the composition of the orbits and (3) the arrangement of the universe in general. Finally, divine crafts are entities which are free of all primordial matter, they have created by the Creator of all Creation, the Almighty. They have come into being from non-existence…They have come into existence all at once, without time, space, primordial matter, form or motion. This is because they are all the creation of the Creator, of His making and His craft. Exalted is Allah, the most superior of all creators, the most skilful of the skilled and the most merciful of the merciful.

My brother, know that in order to complete his craft every human craftsman requires six different things, his self being the seventh. He requires seven motions, in seven directions. These things are: primordial matter, space, time, tools, instruments and motion. The seventh is the soul. The craftsman that is Nature requires four of these things: primordial matter, space, time and motion. While, the Spiritual one requires only two of things: primordial matter and motion. Every craftsman who is an intellect requires only one form, such a craftsman is al-Aql al-Awwal, a mark of the Creator of all creation, the truthful and righteous one. And as for the Creator, He is not dependent on any of these things for they are all His creation: primordial matter, form, space, time, motion, tools and instruments.