• Issue
  • Jul 01, 2022

One on One: Rushdi Anwar on Mulla Sadra Shirazi

RUSHDI ANWAR, Facing living past in the present, 2015, still from single-channel digital video with sound: 12 min 30 sec. Courtesy the artist.

The concept of change articulated through the philosophical arguments of the Persian-Iranian philosopher Mulla Sadra Shirazi (c.1571–1640) has greatly shaped my life. He was a Muslim mystic who categorized changes in quantity, quality, place, and position as fundamental to the nature of substance. Sadra states: “In general, every material object, whether it is the material of the stars or the elements, whether soul or body, constantly requires a new identity and its personality and its existence is never fixed.” His philosophy was particularly controversial for his ideas about substance, as, according to the doctrines of Islam, matter cannot change. On this point, Mulla Sadra disagreed with many revered Muslim thinkers and earlier philosophers like Aristotle who advocated that a substance always fundamentally remains the same and is inherently unchangeable. As a consequence of his unorthodox views, Sadra lived a reclusive life. Today, this immovable concept still remains a central tenet of Islam.