his beliefs have been damaged. Sometimes he supposes a doubt he has imagined to have harmed his belief. Sometimes he supposes a doubt he has imagined to have been confirmed by his reason. Sometimes he supposes pondering over a matter related to unbelief to be unbelief. That is, he supposes to be contrary to belief his exercising his ability to reflect in the form of understanding the causes of misguidance, and his ability to study and reason in impartial fashion. Then, taking fright at these suppositions, which result from the whisperings of Satan, he exclaims: “Alas! My heart is corrupted and my beliefs spoiled.” Since those states are mostly involuntary, and he cannot put them to rights through his faculty of will, he falls into despair. The cure for this wound is as follows:
Just as imagining unbelief is not unbelief, neither is fancying unbelief, unbelief. And just as imagining misguidance is not misguidance, so too reflecting on misguidance is not misguidance. For both imagining, and fancying, and supposing, and reflecting, are different from confirmation with the reason and submission of the heart, they are other than them; they are free to an extent; they do not listen to the faculty of will; they are not included among the obligations of religion. But affirmation and submission are not like that; they are dependent on a balance. And just as imagining, fancying, supposing, and reflecting are not affirmation or submission, so they cannot be said to be doubt or hesitation. But if they are repeated unnecessarily and become established, then a sort of real doubt may be born of them. Also, continually taking the part of the opposing side calling it unbiased reasoning or being fair reaches the point that the person involuntarily favours the opposing side. His taking the part of the truth, which is incumbent on him, is destroyed. He too falls into danger. A state of mind becomes fixed in his head whereby he becomes an officious representative of Satan or the enemy.
The most important of this sort of scruple is this: the person suffering from it confuses something that is actually possible with something which is reasonably possible. That is, if he sees something which is of itself possible, he imagines it to be reasonably possible and reasonably doubtful. Whereas one of the principles of theology (kalam) is that something which is of itself possible is not opposed to certain knowledge and does not contradict the demands of reason. For example, the Black Sea sinking into the earth at this moment is of itself possible, but we judge with certainty that the sea is in its place, and we know this without doubting it, and that possibility which is actually possible causes us no doubt and does not damage our certainty. And, for example, of itself it is possible that the sun will not set today or that it will not rise tomorrow. But this possibility in no way damages our certainty that it will rise and gives rise to no doubt. Similarly, unfounded suspicions arising from possibilities of this sort about, for example, the setting of