The Five Principles of Daqiq l-Kalam

Altaie has designated five basic principles of Daqiq al-Kalam. these constitute almost a consensus among the Mutakallimun. These principles are: 

(1) Temporality of the world. According to the mutakallimun, the world is not eternal, but was created at some finite point in the past. Space and time had neither meaning nor existence before the creation of the world.

(2) Discreteness (Atomism). The mutakallimun believed that all entities in the world are composed of a finite number of fundamental components, each called jawhar (the substrate or substance), which is indivisible and has no parts. The jawhar was thought to be an abstract entity that acquires its physical properties and value when occupied by a character called an a'raḍ (accident). These accidents are ever-changing qualities. Discreteness applies not only to material bodies but to space, time, motion, energy (heat), and all other properties of matter. Since the jawhar cannot stand on its own, as it would then be unidentified, without being associated with at least one 'araḍ, it can therefore be considered as an abstract entity and this is a basic character which makes it different from the Greek and Indian atom. Some authors have tried in vain to relate the Islamic concept of the atom with those of the Greeks or the Indians; however, rigorous investigations have shown that it is unlikely that the Muslims took this idea from elsewhere; the Islamic atom possesses genuinely different properties.

(3) Continual re-creation and an ever-changing world. The mutakallimun suggested that every thing in the world is under continued process of re-creation every moment. This re-creation occurs with the accidents, not with the substances, but since the substances cannot be realized without being attached to accidents, therefore the re-creation of the accidents effectively governs the ontological status of the substances too. This notion finds a resonance in contemporary quantum physics. Regarding the second, it is astonishing to consider that this theory would explain why, in the quantum world, we see a range of possible values for physical parameters and what we measure is an average of all possible values being expressed by the so called “expectation value”. With this vision, the principle of re-creation may provide yet another explanation for why our physical measurements detect only the average of possible values.

(4) Indeterminism of the world. Mutakallimun suggested that the world is to be indeterministic, so that physical values are to be contingent and undetermined. From such stance, the mutakallimun deduced the indeterminacy of the world. This resulted in rejecting the existence of deterministic causality. This is because nature, according to the mutakallimun, cannot possess any sort of will. The mutakallimun also rejected the Greeks’ four basic elements and the alleged existence of any kind of self-acting property belonging to those elements. 

(5) Integrity of space and time. The mutakallimun had the understanding that space has no meaning on its own. Without there being a body, we cannot realize the existence of space. So is the case with time, which cannot be realized without the existence of motion, which needs a body to be affected. This connection between space and time is deeply rooted in the Arabic language

itself. Therefore, neither absolute space nor absolute time exists. This understanding enabled them to visualize motion as being discrete, so that the trajectory of moving bodies are thought to be composed of neighboring “rest points”, waqafat. Accordingly, a body is seen moving faster than another only because the number of rest points along its trajectory is small

compared with those along the trajectory of the other. In another theory, the Mutazili al-Naẓẓam believed that motion on the microscopic level takes place in discrete jumps called ṭafra. That is to say, the body moves in discrete steps or leaps. The famous historian of modern physics Max Jammer considered this understanding of al-Naẓẓam as being the oldest realization of a quantum motion; he says: “In fact al-Naẓẓam’s notion of leap, his designation of an analyzable inter-phenomenon, may be regarded as an early forerunner of Bohr’s conception of quantum jumps.”  This proposal by al-Naẓẓam may also solve the old Zeno's paradox.