By Ian Richard Netton
"These Ikhwan al-Safa' are in addition identified to an informed Arab as, say, the names of Descartes, Hegel and Wittgenstein are to the classy ecu. This e-book is an creation to their concept: it makes no claims to be complete or to hide each aspect of the Ikhwan's doctrine yet seeks simply to introduce the reader to a few facets of that doctrine". (From Author's Preface and Acknowledgements)
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Extra info for Muslim Neoplatonists, An Introduction to the thought of the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwān al-Safā’)
Both were adopted by the Ikhwan. 3 He postulated a hierarchy of three hypostases or principles above Matter, comprising The One or The Good, Intelligence or Intellect, and Soul. The first is described as beyond being but the second is said to be both being and the Intellectual-Principle. 4 The issue of all things, and especially the second and third hypostases, from The One was described by the Neoplatonists using the image of generation or emanation. Plotinus ingeniously claimed to find his doctrine in Plato5 and compared the concept of emanation to the ceaseless generation of light by the sun;6 this seems a highly physical simile but modern scholars have been swift to warn against envisaging light too much in material terms.
326) and Proclus. 18 It is true that this infiltration of other hypostases is not paralleled in the Rasa'if in the same manner; but the splitting up of the Plotinian triad by philosophers such as Iamblichus obviously paved the way, and provided the impetus, for other kinds of subdivision, dissection and classification under taken by later groups like the Ikhwim. The concept of hierarchy dominates the Rasa'il. 'A. 1<) The concept extended from the chain of being above to many other aspects of life.
31 Here, at least, he is wrong and the inconsistency goes beyond mere detail. It is an outstanding omission in previous studies of the Ikhwan that little or no attention has been paid to their dichotomous view of the divinity. Sometimes God is successfully described in a Neoplatonic fashion. It is true that, with Plotinus, The One Itself is not the Creator, and should not even be called the First Cause. 32 Thus creation, as far as The One was concerned, was involuntary. As we have seen, this view was not shared by the Ikhwan.