"A researcher offers a comprehensive presentation of an ancient Islamic theory of time that has implications for modern cosmology and physics. The author's command of the pertinent historical and theoretical material is breathtaking, with some of his conclusions peculiar but tantalizing."– Kirkus Reviews
This final installment of a trilogy endeavors to demonstrate in the language of modern physics how multiplicity emerges from divine oneness.
Attempts to explain the relationship between the diverse phenomena humans experience and the possibility of an underlying metaphysical oneness date back to ancient cosmology. Yousef (Duality of Time, 2018, etc.) argues that humans’ perceptions of both phenomenal multiplicity and continuity are mirages, the emanations of an irreducible ontological unity: a single monad, the expression of absolute divine unity. People experience the world as they do because they only view it from an “imaginary time dimension,” a perch from the outside that can’t possibly exist if the universe is truly one. At the heart of this book is the postulation of “nested symmetries,” five kinds that account for the “apparent dynamic multiplicity of creation.” Oneness of God is “conceived” as an “abstract point beyond geometry.” Normal symmetry applies to the physical world governed by the laws of classical mechanics, specifically the elements of space and time understood in Euclidean terms. Super-symmetry denotes the relation between the physical and psychical, which is essentially identical to Quantum Field Theory’s matter/antimatter couplet. Hyper-symmetry refers to the connection, explored in quantum mechanics, between particles and waves and, by extension, the appearance of continuous space. And ultimate symmetry explains how the curved space of contemporary physics can be generated from Euclidean geometry’s “homogenous” space. Underlying these threads is the divine Principle of Love, the original source of motion that explains the universe’s longing to continuously return to a state of harmony. Yousef is at his best providing historical accounts of physics, both ancient and modern—he is especially deft in detailing ancient cosmology—and the theoretical problems that persist within them. But his writing can be exasperatingly dense (“Although the things might outwardly seem to be continuously existing in their evolution, nothing is ever repeated the same twice, since their elementary microscopic components are always created anew in different forms, that may still resemble the perished ones, but they are not themselves”). Furthermore, his fusion of science and Islamic revelation is really just a translation of the latter into the terms of the former. For example, he simply identifies energy particles with “spirits.” This then becomes a springboard to a lengthy discussion of the kinds of spirits, including angels, that exist.
An ambitious but unconvincing argument involving ancient gnostic theology.
A researcher offers a comprehensive presentation of an ancient Islamic theory of time that has implications for modern cosmology and physics.
According to Haj Yousef (The Single Monad Model of the Cosmos, 2007), the medieval Islamic philosopher Ibn al-Arabi devised a cosmology that not only anticipates the emergence of modern quantum mechanics, but also provides solutions to its most vexing problems. At the heart of Ibn al-Arabi’s view of the universe is a dualistic conception of time. On the one hand, time is ontologically real if understood from the perspective of each moment. But the experience of time is always as a continuous volume—a perceptual distortion of the real world, an imaginary manifestation. The paradox of our observation of time is that we’re only ever encountering time as the past, the continual re-creation of each discrete moment ad infinitum. As a result, the world bifurcates into two states: a vacuum, the empty space that constitutes time in its reality, and the void, the phenomenal expression of time as we experience it. This division opens up the possibility of simultaneously existing dimensions, thereby creating the conditions for a monistic harmony of the psychical and the physical. Haj Yousef intends this volume as a sequel to his first book on Ibn Al-Arabi, expanded to be “more accessible to the wider scientific community.” This reworking includes an account of the history of cosmology, from ancient Sumerian and Babylonian versions to the present, and a thorough introduction to Islamic mysticism. The author’s command of the pertinent historical and theoretical material is breathtaking, with some of his conclusions peculiar but tantalizing. For example, he argues that ancient alchemy can actually be understood as a precursor to quantum mechanics, and that Ibn al-Arabi anticipates contemporary discussions of black holes. But Haj Yousef can sometimes enthusiastically overemphasize the explanatory power of Ibn al-Arabi’s cosmology. It surely seems like an overstatement to claim that “most, if not all, of the major fundamental problems of physics and cosmology are easily solved in this model.” Still, this remains a captivating study for those with a strong grasp of modern physics.
A historically illuminating account of an ancient but still relevant conception of the universe.