Is This the Best of All Possible Worlds? Notes on the Sources of the Dispute on “Laysa Fi'l-Imkân”
Ghazzâli's idea that a better, or more perfect, world than the actual one is an impossibility, which he mentions first in his Ihyau Ulûmi'd-Dîn and later on in his al-Imlâ fî Ishkâlâti'l-Ihyâ, finding its ultimate formulation in the expression laysa fi'l-imkân abda'u mimmâ kân, has generated one of the most enduring debates in the history of Islamic thought, beginning in Ghazzâli's own life time and continuing till the 19th century. Today, the most important figure analyzing the debate around the above-mentioned formulation in its entirety and paying due attention to all dimensions of the controversy is Eric Lee Ormsby. In his Theodicy in Islamic Thought: Dispute over Al-Ghazâli's “Best of All Possible Worlds”, Ormsby identifies 26 authors partaking in the debate, and 17 separate works devoted to this dispute. However, on scrutiny, one can detect that in Turkish libraries, and especially in the Suleymaniye Library in Istanbul, there are seven more treatises specifically devoted to the same dispute. Neither the past scholars who have written the history of the dispute, nor Ormsby, has had the information about these works. This study first presents a general exposition of the debate around laysa fi'l-imkân, and then introduces above-mentioned treatises existing in the Suleymaniye Library.
M. Cüneyt KAYA
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