Wajib Al-Wujud

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The concept of wajib al-wujud (necessary existence) is the most central aspect of Ibn Sina's (980–1037) philosophy and the one on which his cosmology rests. In subsequent Islamic thought, wajib al-wujud is synonymous with "God."

Ibn Sina distinguishes between the necessary, the possible, and the impossible. The necessary is that whose nonexistence is impossible. The possible is that whose existence or nonexistence is not impossible. The impossible is that whose existence is impossible. Thus, the necessary existence of a thing always belongs to that thing. This necessity of existence is manifest either through the thing itself or through something else. A thing whose existence is necessary through itself cannot be necessary through something else. The converse is true. A thing whose necessity of existence is through something else cannot be necessary through itself. The name of the latter type is "possible in itself, necessary through another."

What is possible in itself may not exist. But if it exists, it does so through an external cause that necessitates its existence. Since the chain of causes cannot be infinite, it must stop with a thing whose existence is necessary through that thing itself and not through another.

This first cause must be necessary in all respects. For if it had an aspect that was possible in itself, then there would be need for something prior to it that could bring it into existence, and so on.

Based on the fact that the first or uncaused cause is necessary in all respects, Ibn Sina argues in ways beyond this brief discussion, that, among other things, the first cause is also as follows. One, that is, nothing can share in it. Thus, it cannot have any differentiating characteristic (as rationality is for humanity), species (as humanity is for animality), or genus (as animality is for humanity). Therefore, it is indivisible in discourse and, hence, indefinable. For a definition is a discourse divided into genus, species, and difference.

Wajib al-wujud, also called, among other things, the first, the first mover, the first manager, the principle of all, the creator and Allah, is a desired intellect that knows itself and knows other things in a universal manner inasmuch as it is their principle.

Ibn Sina's concept of wajib al-wujud had a great influence on later Islamic and Christian thought (see, for, example, the third Way of the five Thomistic proofs of God's existence).

See alsoFalsafa ; Ibn Sina .


Hourani, George F. "Ibn Sina on the Necessary and Possible Existence." Philosophical Forum 4 (1972): 74–86.

Ibn Sina. Al-Najat. Edited by Majid Fakhry. Beirut: Dar al-Afaq al-Jadida, 1985.

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