of that system, any change in the system would seem to affect God as well. In such a case, one can say that when the body changes, God changes. Such change would appear to conflict with the notion of God as eternal and unchanging. Nonetheless, the changing nature of the world is indisputable. What, then, is a believer in God to do? Deny the existence of change, development and evolution? Or deny the existence of God? Mulla Sadra found a way to explain this philosophical dilemma. Nasr said, … if you really master the doctrine of substantial motion of Mulla Sadra … you can explain the theory of evolution without being a Darwinian evolutionist. You can believe in both the archetypal realities in God’s Knowledge that are reflected in temporal flow and the constant flow and motion of the substance of the material world which bear the imprints of those archetypes.4 There are certainly counter-productive movements involved in the conflict of values explored above, but the benefit of the debate is that it challenges us to appreciate the complexity and mystery of creation and to question our collective knowledge. By questioning age-old assumptions and pursuing the quest for true knowledge, no matter where that takes us, we learn to submit to the truths we uncover and to purify ourselves. This is true whether we believe in a higher power or we believe in the finality of physicality. Our abandonment of ideology and search for knowledge takes us on a journey which ends in the death of ignorance and a rebirth in knowledge, stage by stage. In Sufism, the murid or student is instructed to follow unity and the middle way. A Sufi strives to stand on his or her experience, independent of ideology and religious ritual. All paths of knowledge are open. The Ibn Rushd principle of no-possible-conflict5 applies and provides a hermeneutical cushioning for the Sufi to resolve all discrepancies between the Word of God and the Work of God. How can there be conflict? Our task is simply to find meaning and resolution. Jalaluddin Rumi has demonstrated this principle time and again with his recurring spiritual themes of love and longing which challenge us to drop our prejudices and immerse ourselves in knowledge like a drop falling into the ocean. Such a journey results in the end of limitation and the beginning of the infinite. Thus, a Sufi adapts to two worlds and demonstrates the best possible example of survival of the fittest. 4 5
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, “On the Question of Biological Origins.” Islam & Science (2006): 179-181. Dajani, Rana, “Evolution and Islam’s Quantum Question.” Zygon 47.2 (2012): 343-353.
Hamed Ross is a student of Sufism and Science. He is completing his MA in Humanities with a focus in Big History at Dominican University. He has been a member of the International Association of Sufism for more than 20 years.
Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 1