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‘Aql (Arabic: عقل‎, meaning "intellect"), is an Arabic language term used in Islamic philosophy or theology for the intellect or the rational faculty of the soul or mind. 'Aql_sentence_0

It is the normal translation of the Greek term nous. 'Aql_sentence_1

In jurisprudence, it is associated with using reason as a source for sharia "religious law" and has been translated as "dialectical reasoning". 'Aql_sentence_2

History 'Aql_section_0

In Islam, the term ‘aql was heavily elucidated by early Shī‘ah thinkers; it came to replace and expand the pre-Islamic concept of ḥilm (Arabic: حلم‎) "serene justice and self-control, dignity" in opposition to the negative notions of ignorance (jahl) and stupidity (safah). 'Aql_sentence_3

The "possessor of ‘aql", or al-‘āqīl (plural al-‘uqqāl) realises a deep connection with God. 'Aql_sentence_4

Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (d. 765, notably an Imām) described this connection as a realisation that God loves some, that God is truth and that only ‘ilm "sacred knowledge" and its development can help humanity fulfil its potential. 'Aql_sentence_5

His son, Imām Mūsà al-Kāżim (d. 799), expanded this exegesis by defining ‘aql as the "faculty for apprehending the divine, a faculty of metaphysical perception, a light in the heart, through which one can discern and recognize signs from God." 'Aql_sentence_6

He further noted that where the A'immah (Imāms) are the ḥujjatu ż-żāhira "External proof [of God]", ‘aql is the ḥujjatu l-Bāṭina "Secret proof". 'Aql_sentence_7

While in early Islam, ‘aql was opposed to jahl "ignorance", the expansion of the concept meant it was now opposed to safah "[deliberate] stupidity" and junūn "lack of sense, indulgence". 'Aql_sentence_8

Under the influence of Mu‘tazilī thought, ‘aql came to mean "dialectical reasoning". 'Aql_sentence_9

Many dignitaries of the Fatimid Ismaili Imams also used the term ʿaql in association with the Universal Intellect (al-ʿAql al-Kull). 'Aql_sentence_10

Along with the Universal Soul (al-Nafs al-Kull), they explained that it presides over the spiritual world. 'Aql_sentence_11

These archangels are paralleled in the physical world by the enunciators of divine revelation (nāṭiqs) and the foundation of its esoteric interpretation (asās). 'Aql_sentence_12

Shī‘ī Legal Implementation 'Aql_section_1

In Shī‘ī jurisprudence, ‘aql is the process of using intellect or logic to deduce law. 'Aql_sentence_13

Legal scholars in both Sunni and Shī‘ī Islamic traditions share Quranic interpretation, the Sunnah, and Ijma‘ "consensus" as sources of Islamic law and judicial decisions (ḥukm). 'Aql_sentence_14

However, Twelvers of the Ja‘farī school of law utilize ‘aql whereas Sunnis use qiyas "analogical reasoning" as the fourth source of law. 'Aql_sentence_15

Among Twelvers, Akhbārīs (associated with exotericism and traditionalism and theological schools in Qom) and Usulis (associated with esotericism and rationalism and theological schools in Baghdad) were contending subschools: the former reject ijtihād outright; the latter advocate ijtihad and have been predominant for the last 300 years. 'Aql_sentence_16

In Shī‘ī Islam, "the gates of ijtihād" were never closed and with the use of ‘aql, Shī‘ī mujtahids "practitioner of ijtihād" and faqīhs "legal specialists" are able to respond as issues arise that were not explicitly dealt with in the Qur'an or Sunnah. 'Aql_sentence_17

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/'Aql.