عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: One of the most important questions for people today is what fact can properly justify their life. The question might be as old as the human history, but it was in the last 50 years that analytic philosophers dealt with it as a particular and independent question. Continental philosophers might be deemed pioneers of the issue because they grappled with challenges of modernity for religiosity much sooner than analytic philosophers, although the latter are known for their more coherent treatment of the issue. Since they believe in God and in human servitude toward God, Muslim philosophers never saw the “meaning of life” as a considerable problem. However, since problems in the Western theological-philosophical tradition tend to find their way into the intellectual domain of Muslims, Muslim scholars need to provide relevant answers to the question and consider the factors contributing to it. In order to derive a theory from the Islamic tradition which can actively answer the questions about the meaning of life, we need to consider the work of Western intellectuals as inventors of the question, since without awareness of Western ideas we will be passively on the defensive, whereas after a careful consideration of their views, we can establish an independent theory drawing upon the inherent resources of the Islamic tradition.
Research question: The present research seeks to answer the following question: “How does the belief in the possibility of knowing the divine essence affect the ‘meaning of life’ in Fakhr al-Rāzī’s view?”
Research method: Here is the method of research in this article: First the required data are extracted from the relevant sources via a library research, then the data are coded and organized in accordance with the titles, and since the subject-matter of the article was not Fakhr’s problem, the data were analyzed and criticized through a particular reading.
The main body of the article: For Fakhr, the meaning of life is indeed a desire for God in accordance with innate knowledge of Him. From Fakhr’s work, it is implied that he extended his conception of the “meaning of life” to the areas of utilitarianism and functionalism as well. Notwithstanding this, his entire analyses in other areas are also grounded in innate knowledge and desire. On this account, Fakhr’s reply to the main research question here—“ How does the belief in the possibility of knowing the divine essence affect the meaning of life”—will be as follows: Fakhr al-Rāzī, as a theologian, analyzes the innate desire for God in terms of sharia (Islamic jurisprudence), holding that knowledge of God provides the meaning of life. In the next step, Fakhr al-Rāzī as a philosopher puts the innate desire along with acquisition of discursive knowledge, extending the path to higher levels of wisdom which might be considered as philosophical-mystical. He characterizes rational knowledge in the first step and intuitive knowledge at higher steps as what organize the meaning of life. Finally, Fakhr al-Rāzī as a full-fledged mystic suggests that, by endorsing annihilation as a cognitive system, we can achieve knowledge of the divine essence, which will bring about a fundamental transformation in the “meaning of life,” since with any limitation at any level, the desire will be limited, but if we attribute unending knowledge to man, it will amount to saying that the desire to God is unending; that is, it will be deeper and finer with every higher step. In this case, the “meaning of life” will be more transcendental.
Research conclusions: Here are the conclusions of this research: Fakhr applies the meaning of life to the areas of theory, utility, and function on the basis of innate knowledge and desire for perfection. Since Fakhr’s thought is based on knowledge, he believes that there are different degrees of knowledge: knowledge is, for him, a process that goes through different stages of rationalization, refinement (tahdhīb), and annihilation (fanā’). In his view, knowledge of the essence is not possible for man before the stage of annihilation. This is why, the desire for God will have its limits, relative to which the meaning of life will also be limited. Eventually, however, Fakhr al-Rāzī introduces annihilation as a cognitive system, in light of which he endorses the possibility of achieving knowledge of God’s essence. In this way, innate desire will cease to be limited, and with thin unlimited, unending desire the “meaning of life” will be at its highest.