The Mystery of Life

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The Mystery of Life

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari
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The Mystery of Life
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The Mystery of Life

The Mystery of Life


This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

The Mystery of Life

A Secret Inside Secrets, Selections from the books written by Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari

This book deals with a myriad of subjects related to human life: philosophy, mysticism, anthropology, cultures, arts, history and much more.

Author(s): Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 8

Preface 9

Recognition in the Domain of Thoughts 11

The Possibility of Recognition. 11

The Devices and Tools for Discovery and Gaining Knowledge 12

The Importance of Adjusting and Refining the Senses 13

The Factors that Influence Recognition and Identification. 13

The Process of Recognition. 14

Different Forms of Knowledge and Recognition. 15

Supreme Forms of Knowledge 19

The Various Forms of Practical Relationship between the Mind and the Phenomenon to be discovered  21

The Activities of the Mind. 22

Various Relationships between the Mind and the Subject 24

The Relationship between the Mind and the Observable Facts in Discovery. 27

The Relationship between the “Self” and “Other than the “Self” in Cognition  27

Pillar 1: The “Self” and the Factors that Influence the Process of Gaining Knowledge 27

Pillar 2: Other than the Self, or the Realities about the Universe 30

A Criticism of Idealism. 31

Responding to a Point of Criticism. 31

From Science to Philosophy: A Look Inside 33

The Definition of Science 33

The Levels of Science 33

Factors that Make Man Seek Science 34

Scientific Laws 34

The Definitions of Philosophy. 38

The Principles of Philosophical Systems 39

The Criterion for a Subject Being Scientific or Philosophical 40

A Scholar's Philosophical Rise 41

The Essence of Supernatural Knowledge 41

The Analytical Method or the Combination Method? 43

The Differences between Science and Philosophy. 45

The Classification of Philosophy. 46

The Advantages of the Collaboration between Science and Philosophy. 48

The Humanities 50

The Philosophy of Science and the Humanities 53

Philosophical Doubt 54

Science and Philosophy in Intelligible Life 56

Anthropology: A New Scope 58

Theories on Human Nature 58

The Human Nature in the Qur’an. 58

Human Characteristics 59

Human Nature 60

Man's Internal Potentials 62

Interpreting Opposite Potentials 63

The Identity of the “Self” (the “ Ego” ) 64

Self-assessment 66

Taking Oneself Seriously. 66

Good Intentions for the Self 67

Self-alienation. 67

1. Negative Self-alienation. 67

2. Positive Self-alienation. 69

The Qualities of Existence Dependent upon the Self 70

Finding the Roots of Man's Weaknesses 71

Conscience 73

The Definition of Conscience 73

A Scientific and Philosophical Study of Conscience 73

The Criticism on the Originality of the Conscience 73

The Importance of Conscience 75

The Characteristics and Consequences of Conscience 75

The Relationship between Recognizing Oneself and Recognizing God. 76

Man's Four Relationships 78

Spiritual Moderation. 80

The Relativity of Spiritual Moderation. 80

Spiritual Expansion and Contraction. 82

The Relativity of Spiritual Expansion. 82

The Basic Origin of Spiritual Expansion and Contraction. 83

Conscious and Unconscious Expansions and Contractions 83

The Expansion and Contraction of the Divine Conscience 83

The Consequences of Expansions and Contractions 84

The Reasons Why Anthropology Has Failed. 84

The Problems with Contemporary Psychology. 85

Life: The Hows and Whys 87

Asking about the Philosophy of Life 87

Motives for Asking about the Aim of Life 87

The Necessity of Recognizing the Ultimate Aim of Life 88

Various Viewpoints on the Aim of Life 89

The Aim of Life as Seen in the Holy Qur’an. 90

The Characteristics of an Objective Life 91

The Six Kinds of Life: 92

Education: The Basics 94

The four principles of education are: 94

Principle 1: The Fundamentals of Education. 94

The goals of education are: 94

The Basics of Education. 94

Principle 2: The Teacher and the Trainer 96

Principle 3: The Student and the Trainee 98

Factors Resisting Education. 100

Principle 4: The Contents of Education. 101

How Do Cultures Evolve?. 102

The Four Principles of Culture 102

Two Different Forms of Culture 102

Two Aspects of Culture 104

Diversity of Cultures 104

Acquiring Cultures 105

Factors that Can Preserve Cultures 105

Why Cultural Elements Lose Their Harmony. 106

Can Culture Undergo Evolution? 106

The Fundamentals of Western Culture 107

Man and the Universe: What Should Man Do?  109

Knowledge of the Universe by means of the Seven Factors 111

Perceiving the Universe by means of the Seven Aspects 112

Changing by means of the Seven Aspects 114

Changing Others by means of the Seven Aspects 115

The “What There Should Be” and “What There Is” System   117

The Relationship between Values and Scientific Research. 117

The Relationship between “What There Should Be” and “What There Is” 119

An Analysis of the Relationship between “What There Should Be” and “What There Is” 119

The Relationship between “What There Should Be” and “What There Is” in the Qur’an  120

The Relationship between Ideology and World-view. 121

What Is Ideology? 121

What Is World-view? 121

Life, Rising Up. 123

The Factors that Can Elevate Man's Evolutionary Life 125

Intelligible Life, the Fundamental Domain. 130

The Definition of Intelligible Life 131

The Role of Wisdom in an intelligible Life 132

The Feasibility of an intelligible Life 132

A Closer Look at the Aspects of Intelligible Life 133

Man and Freedoms 138

The Right to Freedom and the Right to Free Will 138

The Classifications of Freedom. 139

In the Society: From Economics to Politics 144

Work. 144

The Definition of Work. 144

The Value of Work. 144

The Domains of the Value of Work. 145

Various Kinds and Aspects of Human Work. 146

The Relationship between Work and Human Life 148

Values 148

Ownership. 149

The Natural Roots of Ownership. 149

The Limitation of Personal Ownership. 151

Unity among People 151

The Various Forms of Unity. 152

Differences among People 154

The Various Forms of Unity. 157

Social Order and Cooperation. 157

The Principles of Social Order and Cooperation. 158

Power and Right 158

Power in the hands of selfish man. 160

Power in developed man. 161

A Study of History. 163

What Is the Philosophy of History? 164

Causality in History. 164

Is History Motivated Internally or Externally? 164

Is There a Single Motivating Reason for History? 165

The Necessity of Distinguishing the Necessary Factors from the Determining Factors in History  166

Various Viewpoints on the Factors Motivating History. 167

Does History Advance on an Evolutionary Path? 169

Civilizations: The Principles and the Presumptions 172

The Difference between Civilization and Culture 172

What Elevates a Civilization. 173

The Basic Reasons Why Civilizations Fall 174

The Unconditional Philosophical Principles of Civilizations 174

Principle One: The Self-love of Life 174

Principle Two: The Economy. 175

Principle Three: Free Will and Freedom. 175

Principle Four: Stagnant Civilizations Gradually Deteriorate 176

Principle Five: The Law of Causality. 176

Conditional Philosophical Principles in Civilizations 177

The Relationships between Civilizations 178

Men and Women: A Serious Study. 180

The Identity of Men and Women. 180

Theoretical Wisdom in Men and Women. 181

Men and Women in the Family. 182

Three Issues Concerning the Differences between Men and Women. 184

Inequality of Men and Woman Testifying. 186

God: From Seeking God to Faith in God  187

The History of Belief in God. 187

Void of Reasons for Defying God. 187

Classifying People based on Their Belief in God. 188

Factors Inhibiting Obvious Recognition of God. 189

Essentiality Reasoning. 191

Faith. 193

The Necessity of Faith. 193

Man's Mental States during Worship. 195

Is Religion a Personal Matter? 196

The Origins of Defying Divine Commandments 196

Devotion. 197

The Characteristics of Valuable Devotion: 197

Having God in Mind. 198

The Conditions for Calling and Remembering God. 199

Divine Justice 200

The Rule of Kind Favors 203

The Consequences of the Rule of Kind Favors 204

The Relationship between God and His Creatures 204

The Relationship between God and His Creatures in the Qur’an. 205

Fatalism and Free Will: Which Is the Truth?  207

The Characteristics of Will 207

The Difference between Tendency and Will 208

The Difference between Will and Determination. 209

The Quanta of Will 209

Is the Will Free? 210

The Levels of Free Will 210

The Three Fundamental Principles in Proving Free Will 211

The Steps toward Making Free Will-based Actions Come True 211

Two Kinds of Will, Decision and Supervision in Actions based on Free Will 212

A Look at Human Rights 215

Seven reasons have been presented for the compilation of the Human Rights. We will now comment on some of them: 215

The Reasons and Motives for Setting Human Rights in Islam. 217

The Ad Valorem Theorems in the Human Rights Declaration. 217

The Points in Common between the Western and Islamic Views on the Human Rights 221

A Brief Study of the Qur’an. 225

What is the Qur’an? 225

The Qur’an: A Miracle 230

How God's Divine Beauty Can Be Recognized. 232

The Divinity of the Qur’an. 238

1. The Sense of Absolute Dominance and Control 238

2. The Void of Contradiction in Qur’anic Verses 238

Thought and Reasoning in the Qur’an. 240

How the Qur’an Sees the Universe: Carefully Calculated. 241

The Stories in the Qur’an. 241

The Rise and Fall of Cultures and Civilizations 245

Fear of God as Seen in the Qur’an. 246

Forget Judgment Day, and There Will Be No Good or Bad. 248

The Universe on Judgment Day. 248

The Necessity of Knowing the Qur’an. 249

The Qur’an and Creation. 250

The Book of Justice and Fairness 250

The Book of No Contradictions 251

The Qur’an, the Book that Confirms and Verifies Prophets 251

The Qur’an, the Panacea for Mankind's Pains 251

The Qur’an, The Book for Mankind. 251

Positive Mysticism. 253

The Characteristics of Positive Mysticism. 253

The Characteristics of Negative Mysticism. 256

The Ecstatic 257

The Conditions and Obstacles on the Path of Mystic Endeavor 258

Mysticism and the Four Relationships 259

Mystics and the Order and Harmony of Life 260

Mysticism, Work and Effort 260

Mysticism and Power 260

Mysticism and Politics 260

Mysticism and the Society. 261

Mysticism, Wisdom and Science 261

Mysticism and Jihad. 262

Criticizing Nonsense 262

Religion, Rule of Life, and the Truth. 263

Mystic Change 264

Arts and Aesthetics 265

Four Various Viewpoints on Art 265

The Philosophical Viewpoint on Art 265

Pursuant Art, Pioneer Art 267

Modernism in Art 267

Artists 268

Various Types of Beauty. 269

The Truth about Beauties 269

The Virtually Internal Pole of Beauties 271

The Virtually External Pole of Beauties 271

The Differences between Observable Beauty and Intelligible Beauty. 272

The Definition of Beauty. 272

What Does Whitehead Tell Us? A Critique of a Book  274

The History of Ideas 274

Philosophy and the Truth. 275

The Laws of Nature 277

God. 277

Religion. 278

Defying the Ultimate Reason. 279

Man. 280

Moral Ethics 281

Freedom. 282

Art 283

Human Civilizations 283

Islam. 285


This is our first step into the world of great human beings who have understood the harmonious rhythm of the universe - and even become part of it. We feel obliged to thank the Mr. Abdullah Nasri, Mr. Shahram Ansari and Mr. Karim Feizi for helping to compile this book. We would also like to thank and Ms. Ruqayya Alizadeh for editing and proofreading the book and Ms. Roya Azizi Mousavi for setting its computer layout, and Mr. M. Hemmathi for designing the cover of this book.

The contents of this book have been compiled and selected from the following books written by Allamah Ja’fari:

• from a Scientific and Qur’anic Point of View, 1982

• A Study of the Philosophy of Science, 1992

• A Study and Critique of David Hume's Thoughts on Four Philosophical Issues, 1992

• A Study and critique of The Adventures of Ideas, 1991

• The Relationship between Man and the Universe, 1953

• A Study and Critique of the Russell-Wyatt Dialogs, 1964

• The Message of Wisdom, 1998

• An Interpretation and Critique of Rumi's Mathnavi (15 vol.), 1969- 1973

• A Translation and Interpretation of the Nahj-ul-balaghah (27 vol.), 1979-1998

• Conscience, 1966

• Fatalism and Free Will, 1967

• The Philosophy of Life, 1968

• Man in an Elevating, Evolutionary Life, 1984

• Intelligible Life, 1985

• Universal Human Rights, 1992

• The Philosophy of Islam's Political Principles, 1987

• Positive Mysticism, 1992

• Pioneer Culture to the Rescue of Mankind, 1993

• The Qur’an, A Symbol of Intelligible Life, 1995

We would like to end this book by adding that we would highly appreciate any suggestions readers of this book may wish to provide us with.


In the 1923, a child was born in northwestern Iran who would a few decades later become, for his scientific efforts and profound writings, one of the greatest thinkers of his time. His name was Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari.

Though born in a family who were by no means rich - which created many problems inhibiting his progress in education and academic endeavors - he persisted, and it was his tireless persistence and stamina that turned him into one of the richest men of the East in knowledge and mysticism. He soon accumulated a huge treasure of knowledge full of original, basic, innovative thoughts.

Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari never studied at any university; yet, his ingenious, delicate mental endeavors lead to the creation of invaluable amounts of knowledge, particularly in fields such as philosophy, anthropology, ideology and analyzing modern truths.

Ja’fari began his formal education at theological schools and seminaries, but his academic career mostly involves comprehensive viewpoints with the context of solving major ideological and philosophical dilemmas.

Searching for topics and posing fundamental questions was the most prominent aspect of Allamah Ja’fari's mentality; thus, he was constantly searching, excavating into new worlds few had stepped into - at least, the way he stepped into them.

His childhood was spent with his silent, boyish thoughts; his youth, however, involved studies mainly focusing on humanity and the universe. As time passed, these two issues became more and more important to him, though his peers did not think so.

His first book, The Relationship between Man and the Universe (The Change of Physical Mass in Man's Understanding from the Earliest Times up to the Twentieth Century), written in three volumes, showed how distinctive his way of thinking was; even though he was just a young man, he had begun a journey that he spent the rest of his life on - studying humanity, the universe and the facts that sacrifice the universe for man and man for himself.

By considering things from a novel point of view, Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari tended to use historical issues with a new definition and for a new purpose. This made him be much more than a pure philosopher; other scholars paid attention to his thoughts on the basics of recognition and discovery and insights into science and philosophy.

Still, he never stopped at that, and tried open up a new road by using the latest findings in the humanities and also experimental sciences like physics and mathematics. In fact, his questions about the mystery of life and his stops at stations like how evolutions arises in culture, the secrets about education helped him swiftly pass through the narrow road of “what there is” and “what there should be,” and see life as an elevation.

That was when he reached a crucially fundamental domain called “intelligible life,” and then devoted all his capabilities into extracting a constructive truth out of obvious realities like culture, economics, science, history, philosophy, civilizations and technology that could save the world

from falling into oblivion for the stormy hands of those who lack balanced thinking.

Since Ja’fari put a great deal of care into his work, and experienced and analyzed both Western and Eastern unsolved issues with incredible vigor and passion, and also probably due to his pioneer discoveries regarding issues where others failed, the second half of his lifetime had him change into an internationally renowned thinker.

Many Western scholars and thinkers from prominent universities all over the world visited him and held talks and discussions with him - over 100 major interviews, some of which have been published. Allamah Ja’fari and Bertrand Russell had correspondence with each other. Professor Rosenthal, Dr. Kenneth Alan Luther, Dr. Allal Al-fasi, Professor Gankowski, Professor Van Ess, Professor Koroda, Professor Muhammad Abdul-Salam, and many others were among those who came to Tehran to hold discussions with Allamah Ja’fari.

This book contains selections of but parts of the late Allamah's thoughts on some fundamental issues. It can be considered a way of thinking attempting to view truths from a new scope. Allamah Ja’fari's thoughts clearly show that he never confined himself to geographical boundaries; his main concern was mankind and the future - a future we cannot afford to neglect.

Those who knew him admit that he excelled at avoiding prejudiced or limited thoughts, and this book should also verify this fact - it is the cry of a thoughtful bird who sees the world as a garden to develop, fly and fly higher and higher in. He heeds us not to forget flying higher. Through his hundreds of comprehensive studies and analyses, he has told us that it is impossible to solve the mystery of life without making it face eternity.