© Atabek Shukurov
Islamic theology and philosophy have witnessed a lot of heated debates over issues some of which would look like very useless or some times maybe absurd topics. One of these debates was between the two groups on the topic of ”the smallest particle”. They normally call the issue as ”the particle which cannot be divided”. Obviously, there are masses of people (could be over ninety percent) who may get the essence of the point incorrectly thinking that the issue is about dividing the matter practically. That is, without doubt, incorrect understanding and I do not have time to explain it here. In my thesis I have included this question (among other 18 issues raised by Alberonius). By looking at my research I don’t really know, shall we be proud or shall we be upset. First, I want to quote from my thesis then I will explain why to be upset or proud:
”There are several opinions with regards to the smallest particle:
1. The smallest particle is indivisible in its actuality, which is the position of theologians.
2. The smallest particle is divisible infinitively in its actuality, which is the position of the Iraqi theologian from the ninth century, Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Sayyar al-Nazzam (died in ninth century).
3. The smallest particle is only divisible forcefully (bilquwwah) and not actually (bilfi’l, which is the position of Abu al-Fath Muhammad bin Abdulkarim al-Shahrustani, the Iranian philosopher who died in 1086 AD.
4. The smallest particle is divisible infinitively, forcefully. This is the position of the vast majority of philosophers including Aristotle, Avicenna, and al-Farabi. Furthermore, philosophers have disagreed among themselves:
(i) The first position says: For the particle to be divisible there has to be substance and shape (surah). This is the position of the Peripatetic (Aristotelian) school.
(ii) The second position says: A particle is divisible by itself. This is the position of the Illuminations (Ishraqi) school.
5. The smallest particle is divisible but some of it forcefully and some in its actuality, which is the position of Democritus (Taftazani (1998), 3:21).
6. The smallest particle is created from accidentals, which is the position of two well-known Iraqi theologians Dhirar bin Amr al-Ghatafani (died around 809 AD) and Husain bin Muhammad bin Abdullah al-Najjar (died around 835 AD) (Taftazani (1998), 3:23). Since a group of modern scientists believe that the universe is not the mechanical machine of Newton – Sir Arthur Eddington (d 1944), for instance, suggests that the substratum of everything is of a mental [non-physical] character (Henry 2005) and also, that there are vacuum fluctuations in quantum physics which refer to the fact of energy forming what are called ”virtual particles” (Jaffe (2005), p. 1; 2), this may, somehow, support the position of Dhirar.”
As we see Dhirar who died 809AD and Najjar who died 835AD started speaking about a particle which is formed from the accidental 1100 years before Max Planck (23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) the father of Quantum Physics who has opened the door for the scientists who have discovered the ”accidental” which forms the matter and gave it the name of ”Virtual Particle”.
Here is a short explanation of the ”Virtual Particle”:
Here is the explanation of ”Vacuum Fluctuation”
The reason why we can be proud is that with no any equipment two of Muslim thinkers have made such a great discovery. However, the reason for the sorrow is that they did not have a followers who carried on their research. I wish if they had a genuine students who would take this opinion and try to create some type of equipment and test it practically. No doubt that the scientific progress that we have now would be reached over thousand years ago. Can you imagine what would happen if the direct students of Dhirar carried the journey which is started by their teacher, where would have reached by now?! Normally one discovery drags the other brighter discovery. As we all know, the current effort of the scientists is directed towards using the nuclear power in both of civil and, unfortunately, military fields.The issue of the foundation of the smallest particle is indirectly related to the atom which would direct towards a nuclear power. Now we can assume the size of loss which is caused by ignoring the opinion of the above two ancient thinkers. In my understanding one of the main reasons of this loss is the incorrect understanding the religions and the extra power which is given to the group of ”religious” scholars who in their turn tried to apply the ”religion” on each and everything. The history is the best witness to what happens when power is given to the ”religious scholars”. Maybe, the close past is a good proof for that. I mean the Dark Ages and the Inquisition…
Maybe another reason for my sorrow is that there are millions of non-discovered issues waiting for the genuine researchers. The question is do we have these ”genuine researchers”?