Q & A: Someone asked “How do random things relate to the existence of God?”

May 29, 2008

An agnostic asked: Some would maintain that if the universe is mostly random, having pointless moons and planes floating about, how would this randomness fit in with the concept of God who does everything for a reason?

Answer: The problem with this whole issue is that if someone asks “why did God do that?” then he is asking a question that implies a need. For, example, if I ask you, “Why did you do that?” Then your answer will always be in terms of getting some benefit or avoiding some harm. Since the Creator does not have needs, this question is irrelevant with respect to Him. That is why the Quran teaches us not to ask this question:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُون

Meaning: “He is not asked about what He does to creation, but the creation is asked.” (Al-Anbiya’, 23).

Allah does, however, instruct us of our own decreed purpose:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

Meaning: “Allah did not create humans or jinn except to worship Him.”

This does not mean that He gets benefit from our worship, as also instructed in the Quran:

فَإِنَّ ٱلله غَنِيٌّ عَنِ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ

Meaning: Verily Allah has absolutely no need for the worlds. (Aal `Imraan, 97)

The agnostic said: I?f the Quantum physics shows us that things happen against our intuition, then how can any proof of God based upon our intuition be correct?

Answer: Intuition is not a source of certain knowledge according to Sunni Muslims, so we do not use such “proofs.” This is because it cannot be verified objectively. Rather, the sources of knowledge are our senses, true information, and the mind. The scriptures are the sources of religious knowledge, as they are perceived by the senses, judged as true by the mind, and understood by the mind.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Q & A: Someone asked, “Is Islam Falsifiable?”

May 28, 2008

An agnostic said: How can Islam make any scientific assertions, surely science is only needed on matters that are falsifiable. But if you say Islam makes statements about scientific phenomena, then you are saying that Islam is falsifiable? Am I right or wrong?

Answer: It is interesting that you assert that scientific questions are falsifiable, in the tradition of Karl Popper I presume. This pleases me, because the theory of man’s evolution (not all aspects of evolution) thus becomes non-scientific. After all, claimed historical events cannot be tested in a controlled experiment to see if they happened.

As for your question; the Quran contains statements that could be called “falsifiable,” and this is of utmost importance. Miracles, which are extraordinary events that happen in association with a claim of Prophethood, are sometimes based on falsifiable assertions that are extraordinarily proven to be true. The importance of miracles is that once the existence of the Creator is proven, and that nothing can happen but by His Will, miracles prove that a prophet has the Creator’s support in his claim of Prophethood. One example, is that the Quran has been preserved to the last letter, without any perversions or alterations for some 1400 years. This in itself is an extraordinary event, because no other book has been preserved in this way in human history. It is a miracle also, because the Prophet Muhammad affirmed by what was revealed to him that it would be preserved. Allah said in the Quran:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

Meaning: “Allah has revealed this remembrance that is the Quran, and He protects it.” (Al-Hijr, 9).

This is a miracle then, because this confirmation of preservation associated with the Prophet, stated in the Quran, matches this already extraordinary preservation of 1400 years.

Added to this preservation is the fact that the Quran challenges anybody who opposes Prophet Muhammad’s claim to Prophethood, to compose a Surah like any of its 114 Surahs. Allah said (Al-Baqarah, 23):

وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ

Meaning: “If you are in doubt about what Allah has revealed to the Prophet, then bring a Surah like any of its Surahs in eloquence, if you can, but you will not be able.”

This challenge came despite the fact that the shortest Surah in the Quran can be written on a single line on a piece of paper (Al-Kawtħar, 1-3):

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

Yet, nobody succeeded in meeting this challenge among the Arabs, despite the Arabs pride in eloquence at the time, and the widespread occurrence of poetry competitions between tribes and individuals. In fact, nobody during these 1400 years has met this challenge. Moreover, if the challenge had been met during his time, then Prophet Muhammad would have lost his support. Add to that the fact that Prophet Muhammad was unlettered and never took part in composing any poetry.

If you think about it, this miracle also proves that nothing happens except by Allah’s Will.

In addition, the Quran contains many statements about things the Prophet could not have known through ordinary means, such as the description of what would happen to the breathing of a person if lifted up into the atmosphere (Al-An`aam, 125):

فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلإِسْلامِ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ

Meaning: “Whoever Allah has willed to guide, He will open his heart to accept Islam, and whoever He has willed misguidance for, He will make his chest tight and narrow, as if he is ascending up in the sky.”

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Agnostic Contentions: Randomness and Infinity

May 27, 2008

An agnostic said: How do you see the randomness in Quantum Physics then, why does a atom decaying for no reason not equate to the universe being random as well?

Answer: The randomness spoken of in Quantum Physics does not contravene the fact that there is order, such as animals, plants, and the solar system, and developments over time. It also does not contravene the fact that the so called physical laws, even if they are incomplete, give the world around us a high degree of predictability. Events that happen for no apparent “reason,” could be because we do not know them. Even if we assumed they did not, however, this is not problematic in the Islamic Creed, as I will show you shortly.

In any case, let it be clear from the outset that the issue of cause is a metaphysical question, more than a physical question, because the assertion of cause is based on observed correlation, not that the cause itself can be observed. In short, if there is correlation, and there is an explanation for it, then it is called “cause.” So for example, if one finds that objects attract each other always, then one says that if a glass falls from the table, it is “caused” by gravity. Gravity itself, however, has no verifiable existence in itself, it is assumed to be there, because that bloody glass always falls when it is moved off the edge of the table. This is just an example, I am not saying that scientists all believe that gravity always holds true.

On the other hand, if the pattern of something is totally unpredictable, then people start saying it is “random.” This is what is meant when they say that the quark’s pattern (the element spoken of in Quantum Physics, which is supposedly the subpart of the electron, which is a subpart of the atom) is random. They mean that it’s pattern has no physical explanation; that there is no observed event or condition that somehow makes the quark’s pattern predictable.

Maybe physics, with its tools and methodologies, can prove the non-existence of cause, maybe it cannot, it is not important. The reason is that it can be proved not to exist by proving the existence of a creator, by whom nothing happens except by His Will. This proof is based merely on the existence of events, which is anything that has a beginning. It does not matter if they have apparent order or not, or whether they are contingent or not. I will get back to that when I address your next question.

An agnostic said: My point being that if the universe had no beginning, what purpose then for a creator? Since in an infinite model the universe sustains itself.

Answer: The universe absolutely must have a beginning, so this is not an issue. I will show you why:

Premise a – We exist here today.

Premise b – Before we existed there were a series of events, one after another, leading up to our existence today. (The passing of such a series of events is what we call time, and measure in minutes, days, weeks and years.)

If one accepts premise a, then one must also accept that the series of events in premise b must have a beginning. This must be, because if someone claims that an infinite succession of events had to be concluded before his existence, then he is saying that that infinite succession of events came to an end, which is a contradiction in terms. It is like if someone said “this car will only get to its destination after its wheels have spun infinitely many times,” and then claimed that the car arrived at its destination. It is clear, however, that the car could never have gotten to its destination if an infinite number of spins was the condition for its arrival.

Those who claim that the world has no beginning are in fact saying that it is a prerequisite for tomorrow to arrive that an infinite number of events first take place. This is impossible, because infinity cannot end. Clearly then, the number of events that precedes our existence must have a limit.

In addition, since it is necessarily true that this series of events has a beginning, then it must also be that before this beginning there were no series of events (defined as anything with a beginning). If someone claimed otherwise, then they would end up with the same contradiction (saying that infinity came to an end). Accordingly, the claim that the world was created by random events is irrational.

Rather, there must be a Creator that gave the series of events existence – since it was nonexistent before it began. Moreover, since it is impossible for there to be any events before the existence of this series, then it must also be that the Creator is not attributed with events, i.e. with any attribute or action that has a beginning. This again means that the Creator does not resemble His creation, since all created attributes must have a beginning. Actually, having a beginning and being a creation is the same thing. This is because to create is to bring into existence, and everything with a beginning must have been brought into existence.

We know from the above, by mathematical precision and logical necessity, that the Creator exists and does not resemble His creation. From the fact that the world has a beginning, we have proven that it must have a creator. The name of this creator is Allah in Arabic. If someone asks, “Who created Allah?” we say Allah does not have a creator, and does not need one as He has no beginning. If someone then asks, “how can you accept that Allah has no beginning, while you do not accept that the world has no beginning?” The answer is that we have shown that the world has a beginning based on the fact that it changes (changes are events). We do not believe, however, that Allah changes. Rather, we believe He is One, and doesn’t change and has no beginning.

From all this we can also safely conclude that Allah has a will to specify events, and unlimited power to create them. We can also conclude that He must have knowledge, because specification without knowledge is impossible. It is now easy to see also, that no event can take place without Him willing it. This again means that there is no such thing as real cause, in the sense of one event truly influencing or shaping a subsequent event. There is only correlation, because if an event happens, it’s form can only be completely subjugated to Allah’s Will and Power. All of this is according to the teachings of Islam, as is shown by the following statements in the Quran:

“هُوَ الأَوَّلُ”

“He is Al-Awwal.” (Al-Hadiid, 03).”

If translated literally, it would be “He is the First,” i.e. He existed before everything else, and He was not preceded by non-existence or the existence of something else. It is a beginning-less and necessary existence, and is not affected by anything, since it is not preceded by anything.

“إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ”,

Meaning: “Verily Allah is able to create anything.” (Al-Baqarah, 20)

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ”

Meaning: “Allah created everything, and He knows everything.” (Al-’Anˆaam, 101)

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا”

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

Based on the above, we can say that if the pattern of quarks truly have no observable correlating event that makes it predictable, and is thus labeled “random,” it is either because Allah has not willed for it to have a correlating event, or because He has not willed for it to be discovered.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahhabi Contentions: (1) Asharism and Sufism were Separate and Merged and (2) Calling to Other Than Allah is Shirk

May 25, 2008

Question:

assalamu ‘alaykum

Yasir Qadi says:

“The permissibility to make du`a to the dead is of course an import of (late) Sufism, and not pure Ash`ari thought. Although, of course, in our times the two movements (which, once upon a time, were distinct and separate), are now one. I have written and am presently writing a number of papers on the merging of these two movements. Basically, this issue goes back to the Ash`ari definition of ilah, which, as al-Razi and others state, means ‘the one who can independently create?’ Hence, if you don’t believe your dead Shaykh can create life or give you sustenance himself, but rather does so by a power given to him by Allah, this would not be shirk according to that definition. As we proved in our class ‘Light of Guidance,’ the Arabs of old also believe their idols were given powers by Allah, and did not claim they had independent powers. Additionally, our definition of shirk is taken from the Quran, and is ‘to give the rights of Allah to other than Allah,’ and du`a is a sole right of Allah. But all of this is a separate topic, meant for another article!”

Before Yasir Qadi posts his articles, my question is: Were the Sufis really a ‘separate’ movement than the Ash`aris. Is such an idea being spread out by the so called ‘Maliki-in-Fiqh-Salafi-in-Creed’ scholars of Mauritania? I am not aware of such from the Islamic Sunni institutions of Morocco.

jazak Allahi khayr

Answer:

Yasir Qadi is merely a demagogue that uses rhetorical tricks rather than proofs, and knows how to manipulate his audience with a shipload of hidden assumptions. He likes to use words like “obviously,” “of course,” “everybody that is reasonable knows,” “we have proved elsewhere,” or “will prove in the future,” and the like, to dodge the fact that he cannot prove what he is saying. (I have highlighted them below for your amusement). And of course he is far too busy to engage in a proper dialogue. I have made some brief comments on what he said below:

Yasir Qadi says: The permissibility to make du`a to the dead is of course an import of (late) Sufism and not pure Ash`ari thought;

The issue here is what does he mean by du`a? If he means prayer, then no Muslim will disagree that it is kufr to make du`a to the dead. If, however, the meaning of du`a here is simply calling, without any sense of worship to the person called, then this is another matter.

Should someone claim that every du’a is worship then how would they understand the following verse in the Holy Qur’an:

لاَّ تَجْعَلُواْ دُعَآءَ الرَّسُولِ بَيْنَكُمْ كَدُعَآءِ بَعْضِكُمْ بَعْضاً
“Make not the addressing (du’a’) of the Prophet among you like your addressing one another…”

So basically we cannot interpret du`a to mean worship in every context. A call without worshiping the called upon is just a call, and it is not shirk. Moreover, calling a person who has died is done every day in every single one of the 5 daily prayers, where a Muslim says, “Ya Ayyuhan-Nabi,” i.e. “O Prophet!” Clearly then, calling a person who has died is not an import of late Sufism.

Yasir Qadi says: Although, of course, in our times the two movements (which, once upon a time, were distinct and separate), are now one. I have written and am presently writing a number of papers on the merging of these two movements.

Wahabism is a movement. It started about 200 years ago under the guidance of the books of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Al-Qayyim, who were both chief heretics in their time. By playing the games of the Batiniyyah sects, hiding and lying about their real beliefs, they managed to preserve their necks, though there were a few close calls.

The Ash`ari school is not a movement, it is the school of the Sunni belief system. Its name comes from Abu Al-Hasan Al-Ash`ari, not because he made up the school’s belief, but because he defended, detailed and systematized the belief of Sunnis to the extent that most Sunni scholars after him cannot but admit that he is their imam. That is, either him, or Abu Mansur Al-Maturidi, who did the same thing as Ash`ari did at approximately the same time, but in another location.

Likewise Sufism has been around since the beginning, whether it went by that name or not. Sufism is simply the art of following Sunni Islam, while trying to distance oneself from the desires and vanities of this life. It is the science of applying Islam to one’s life to the fullest extent, especially on the inside.

Yasir Qadi says: Basically, this issue goes back to the Ash`ari definition of ilah, which, as al-Razi and others state, means ‘the one who can independently create’. Hence, if you don’t believe your dead Shaykh can create life or give you sustenance himself, but rather does so by a power given to him by Allah, this would not be shirk according to that definition.

This is a fallacious argument. How does saying that the word ‘ilah’ means ‘the one who can independently create’ also mean that something other than Allah can create? The definition does not say that there can be a ‘dependent creator.’ It simply says that Allah creates independently of anything or anyone. In fact, when you say that Allah creates independently, you are saying that Allah does not create through an agent, so it is implied that no one and nothing other than Allah creates, i.e. it is not possible that someone be given a power to create.

A person who believes that his dead Shaykh can create life and give sustenance by a power given to him by Allah is indeed a blasphemer. No Muslim believes that, and Sunni Sufis certainly do not believe that. Ash`aris do not believe that other than Allah can create. There is only one creator.

Note that by “create” we mean to bring into existence, or to have independent influence on events.

Yasir Qadi says: As we proved in our class ‘Light of Guidance’, the Arabs of old also believe their idols were given powers by Allah, and did not claim they had independent powers. Additionally, our definition of shirk is taken from the Quran, and is ‘to give the rights of Allah to other than Allah’, and du`a is a sole right of Allah. But all of this is a separate topic, meant for another article!

The du`a that is prayer, i.e. worship, is only for Allah. However, merely calling is not only for Allah. As usual the Wahabis have a great preoccupation with words, with an incredible blindness to the ranges of meaning behind them.

His definition of shirk is not very clear. What does he mean by ‘give the rights?’ For example, if I give Zakaat to an official collector, then it is Allah’s right that this money is given to the poor. So if the collector takes the money for himself (and he is rich), has he committed shirk according to Yasir? It is a strange definition.

A better definition of shirk is ‘to attribute to Allah a partner, part or a likeness to creation.’ This is because the belief in Allah’s Oneness is the belief that ‘He does not have a partner, part or a likeness to creation.’

Questioner says: Before Yasir Qadi posts his articles, my question is: Were the Sufis really a “separate” movement than the Ash’aris. Is such an idea being spread out by the so called ‘Maliki-in Fiqh-Salafi-in-Creed’ scholars of Mauritania? I am not aware of such from the Islamic Sunni institutions of Morocco.

Sufism is really just a branch of the Islamic sciences that a person focuses more or less on. It is not really a movement, although there are of course Sufi movements. So there is no separation between Sufism and Ash`arism. However, like in all the sciences, some scholars are more famous for one thing than the other. Then we also find those unique individuals that master them all. For example Al-Qushayri is a famous imam of both Ash`ari creed and Sufism.

The problem that Wahabis have with merely calling the name of a dead person comes from their belief that Allah is a kind of creature. This makes it difficult for them to come up with a way of thinking of themselves as monotheists. After all, since what they worship and call Allah (but isn’t actually Allah), is simply another physical thing, all physical things become potential rivals. This leads to paranoid delusions, such as thinking that calling the name of a dead person is shirk.

For a Muslim, however, the basis for monotheism is clear. It is the belief that Allah does not have a partner, parts or a likeness to creation. As long as one believes this, one has not committed shirk by calling a dead person, because one does not believe that the dead person has any power to create at all, but is merely a creation, whose calling may or may not correlate with a desired effect created by Allah.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Deviant Contention: There is a flaw in the proof you presented for the existence of Allah.

May 24, 2008

as salam `alaykum

A few days ago, a person posted an objection under the “The Foundations of Religion” article. Hereunder is the response to it. I took the liberty of changing the wording of the question a little bit so that the question becomes clear.

wa `alaykum salam

Ibn Mazhar

The author said: Basically this says that, if an eternal amount of time has been concluded then eternity has come to an end, which, I think, is wrong.

Here’s why:

Visualize the eternity (infinite spectrum of time) as the infinite real number line. Now suppose we are at number 8, which represents some point in time, say the present. There is an infinite amount of time, or numbers in this case, prior to the number 8 (namely from minus infinity to 8). Does it mean that the number line has come to a stop? No. There still is an infinite amount of time or numbers in this case, in front of 8 (namely 8 to positive infinity).

Answer: Here is the first problem:

The author said:Visualize the eternity as the infinite real number line.”

Your proposal falls apart already here. Infinity cannot be visualized, because visualizing it would take an infinite amount of time. Truly visualizing it would never be achieved, which is exactly the point we have made. You cannot reach true infinity. It is because infinity cannot be reached that we say that the real countable events that took place before we existed today must be a limited number.

For example, imagine yourself riding on this line, starting at 8 and going backwards to the beginning of that line and back. You cannot ever finish this ride even backwards if it was infinite.

The author said: “Now suppose we are at number 8.”

Here there are at least two problems: you are assuming you have reached a number after an infinite number of events. This cannot be because they could never have finished. You cannot finish an infinite amount of events before reaching a particular event, be it 8 or any other number. That is why the real events that took place before our existence must be limited.

Another problem with the idea is that the number line in mathematics cannot represent time. It was not designed for that. The number line simply means that any time a mathematician mentions a larger or smaller number than another number; another mathematician can mention a larger or smaller number than those. This is as long as there is life left in them, for even this counting activity ends with the end of the mathematicians counting. The number line does not represent time; it does not prove anything in itself.

Here is another substantial problem with your proposition:

The author said:There is an infinite amount of time prior to the number 8 (namely from minus infinity to 8).”

Remember that we are talking about real countable events. Real events cannot be counted as minus, because a negative number cannot represent something existing, i.e. you cannot say that a “minus event” happened. In a subtle way you have shown our point, because on the number line countable events start at “1″, and cannot be negative. In other words, when you choose the number “8″, then you are saying that only “8″ events have taken place before we are here today. “8″ events cannot be infinite, because “8″ is not equal to infinity. What you are saying is that “8″ real events are equal to an infinite number of real events, which is clearly false.

Then the author proposed that after reaching “8″ events: Does it mean number line has come to a stop? No. There still is an infinite amount of time or numbers in this case, in front of 8 (namely 8 to positive infinity).”

When we say that there were a limited number of events, namely “8,” in this case, that have taken place, then we can accept that it can continue after that and never end as long as the Creator has willed it. We cannot accept, however, and no rational being can, that “8″ past events are equal to infinite past events!

The author said: If there were a mathematically rigorous proof for the existence of God, none would be happier than me. But this particular proof is not one of them.”

My response is that then you should use your mental facilities to defend the proof, not attack it with imaginary evidences. The proof is rock solid and has withstood the test of time.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Q & A: Is denying well known things, such as the hijab, kufr? – Part II

May 23, 2008

Question: I think I’m having trouble drawing the line between sin and kufr. If you genuinly in your heart believe something isnt that right but you go and do it anyway that makes you a sinner, but if you believe its wrong, and do the wrong then say its right, that’s kufr?

Answer: The problem is in believing that the Shariah mandates an action as wrong, but not accepting the judgment of the Shariah on that issue. This is because if you truly believed that a particular action was mandated as “wrong” by the Shariah, but outwardly said that it was not wrong to do it, then you willfully denied what you believe the Prophet to have brought to us.

Committing a sinful action, however, is not kufr if one believes it to be sinful, and has no scorn in the heart towards the rule. This is unless the action involves something that only a kafir would do, such as bowing to an idol or stepping on the Quran.

Question: All the rulings of what is haram/halal is found from the Shariah, so where is it all written down for laymen to read?

I suppose you mean the issues of what is kufr? The books of the Hanafi scholars are very detailed on this, but you can also find it other schools’ books. I do not know any good translations of such books. In any case, such issues must be learned from a qualified sheikh.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Q & A: Which beliefs are kufr and which are bid`ah?

May 22, 2008

Question: What beliefs are “bid’ah” but do not take one outside the fold of Islam, as opposed to the clear kufr of the falasifa and other sects? If a particular belief is against the sound beliefs of the Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah, by what criteria to we judge that this belief either takes one out of Islam, or takes one out of the fold of Ahl al Sunnah only, but would still leave the person who holds this belief a Muslim?

This is a long discussion with much divergent opinion, and that I will provide great detail later on because of its importance. Briefly, Maalik said that all deviants are kuffaar in one of his sayings. An example of where they differed in takfir is regarding the one who thinks Allah will not forgive his sins, but surely will punish him, while not denying its intellectual possibility. Where they agreed is where the belief was in clear contradiction with tawhid, or implied a flaw, such as believing that Allah is physical, or has a limit, or shares His attributes with something else, or that there is something else that creates. Al-Tahaawi mentions a number of things, but for now, to deny any of the following would be plain kufr:

  1. Know that Allah is Necessarily Existent without a beginning or an end; non-resemblant to anything or anyone in any sense; Self Existent and does not need a specifier for Him or His attributes, or something to be in; One without a partner, part or like in His Self, attributes or actions.
  2. Only He can create, and all that happens is according to His Will and Predestination.
  3. Sound reason tells us that He must be attributed with the Power to bring anything possible into existence, the Will to specify how it is to be, and Knowledge of all that is now, has been in the past, and will be in the future, as well as all that must be, cannot be, or may be.
  4. His attribute of Life is without beginning, end, body, soul, change or development.
  5. He must be All-Hearing and All-Seeing, not by ability, but by necessity; without instruments, such as eyes or ears; or needs, such as sound waves or light rays; or events, such as hearing or seeing one thing and then another.
  6. He must also have Speech that is not created and is therefore not language, sounds, letters, sequence, or a capacity; for all such attributes must have a beginning, and therefore a creator.
  7. It is impossible that Allah be attributed with the opposites of any of the above, such as being a body, in a place, or having a limit or a weakness, such as ignorance, death, deafness, blindness or speechlessness.
  8. It is possible, however, that Allah creates anything that can exist, or leaves it. He is the creator of all beings, things and actions and thus the Absolute Owner of everything.
  9. It is impossible that He could be unjust or unfair, as He has no creator, and therefore no judge. In addition it would be plain kufr to say that it is possible for Prophets to lie, or that they might commit mean acts, such as desiring other men’s wives, or even contemplating adultery.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Q & A: Is denying well known things, such as the hijab, kufr?

May 20, 2008

Question: Is a person considered a kafir if he denies such well known things in Islam such as the obligation of the Hijab or the hadd of apostasy or believes the Islamic state to be something not ordained by Islam or mocks the Niqab?

Answer: First of all, kufr is primarily a matter of belief, a matter of what is in the heart. However, there are two aspects to this belief in the heart. The first is the belief in the sense of affirming something as true in the heart. The second is for this belief to be submitted to in the heart; completely accepted without ill feeling against it, or looking down on it. Iblis is a kaafir, not because he fails on the first part, because he knows that Islam is the correct religion, but because he fails on the second part. He first fell out of Islam because he showed disdain for an order of Allah.

Organs other than the heart, however, do have a role in matters of kufr, because they can be used to express disbelief or disdain for something that is respected in the religion. So if someone says something that is plain kufr, such as saying that Aļļaah has a son, then he falls out of Islam. This is because if he believed it true, then he has adopted a kufr belief, and if he did not believe it, then he has shown scorn toward a grave matter in the religion.

Accordingly, if someone denies or has disdain for something he knows is of the religion, then he is a kafir in Allah’s judgment. It does not make any difference whether this matter is well known among people or not. Among muslims, however, one cannot easily know whether a person knows something to be of the religion or not. That is why the scholars said that a Muslim is only considered an apostate if he denies or shows disdain for something that is well known to be of the religion even among commoners. This is because in this case one could safely assume that he knows it is of the religion. If on the other hand, he denied something that is not well known, but definitely part of the religion, such as the prohibition of shaking hands with one’s wife adult sister, then one cannot assume that this person knew this rule and denied it stubbornly. Instead he is considered sinful for having denied this prohibition. But this does not mean that the person did not commit kufr in Allah’s judgment, because he might have actually known that this prohibition is true in Islam when he denied it.

Thus, if rules, such as those you mentioned, are truly well known among people, to the extent that commoners know them as well as scholars, then we consider the one who denies them or shows disdain for them as a kafir. The exception would be a person who is isolated from the knowledge of these things, or he is new to Islam. Unfortunately, today we live in a world that most people can almost be considered like new muslims in many issues, so one must not be quick to judge.

These rules above apply for narrational beliefs, beliefs that can only be known by having heard them. They do not apply for things that have a direct impact on one’s belief in the Oneness of Allah or the prophethood of Prophet Muĥammad, such as if someone believed that Allah has a son or a partner, or that the world is eternal, or that there is more than one creator, or that Allah has physical limits, or the like. For example, At-Tahaawi said: {Whoever attributed to Allah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy.} Later he mentioned examples of such meanings, and said: {Allah is above} the status of {having limits, extremes, corners, limbs or instruments}.

Another important example of such kufr is if someone denied the belief that Islam is the only correct religion, and denied that other belief systems are lowly and wrong.

Disbelief in such matters are kufr whether people know them well or not, because the pillar of the belief, the belief in Allah and His Prophet, and the belief that Islam as the only religion accepted by Allah is not there.

As for the specific narrational beliefs you asked about, you should address a qualified mufti to investigate each individual case. For example, is the person like a new muslim? Did his denial have an element of acceptance or respect for other religions (belief systems) than Islam? etc.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


The Foundations of the Religion

May 19, 2008

Introduction

If I am ever asked about what makes Islam different from any other religion, I will always answer that Islam is the religion of the sound mind; there is no contradiction between the Islamic faith and sound reasoning. This means that the core religious beliefs and methodology of knowing the religious judgment on human actions can be defended by reason alone, without referring to scriptures. It also means that there is nothing in the teachings in the religion that contradicts sound reasoning, although not everything in the religion can be known by reason alone (such as knowing how and when to pray).

In other words, Islam is not founded on mysticism, or on the “take it or leave it, this is faith, not logic” approach one finds in other religions. There is no separation of logic and faith in Islam.

When the scholars of Islam spoke of the knowledge of foundations (usul in Arabic) they meant either the foundations of the religion (the Islamic belief) or the foundations of fiqh (rules of the religion), or sometimes both. The foundations of the religion are the Islamic beliefs. The foundations differ from the branches (furu’), which are the detailed questions pertaining to the religion’s judgment on the actions of humans (i.e. fiqh).

Sound reason, the foundations of the religion, the foundations of fiqh and the branches of fiqh are connected as follows: First, it is by sound reason we know that God exists, is one, without a partner or an equal, and is attributed only with attributes of perfection. Second, it is by sound reason that a prophetic miracle becomes known as an irrefutable proof of prophethood. Third, it is by sound reason we can establish that Prophet Muhammad had miracles and other prophetic attributes. For these three reasons, the scholars all agreed that nothing in the scriptures is interpreted in a way that contradicts sound reasoning or sensory reality (such as square is different from a circle, 2 is different from 3). If this was not so, then it would be a denial of the faith itself. After all, if one denied certain knowledge of such facts, then one is denying certain knowledge of the Creator’s existence, prophethood and historical events. Fourth, it is by sound reason we can establish how to extract the judgments of the branches of fiqh from textual evidence; a scientific methodology for knowing these branches (i.e. what the judgment is on a particular human action). After all, it is by reason we can determine what a strong proof is and what is not. This article is dedicated to explaining these four points, but before that we need to explain the concept of sound reasoning.

Sound reasoning is the ability to know right from wrong, or to know what must be, can be and cannot be. No religious community is anywhere near as meticulous and fair minded as the Muslims with regards to the evidences of the correctness of their beliefs and practices. Muslims recognize different levels of probability regarding the validity of their texts, and other types of evidence. These can be viewed as:

1. Must be true

2. Most likely true

3. Likely true

4. Maybe true

5. Improbable

6. Impossible

This ranking is actually fundamental to any science, because these are the natural categories in which the sound mind views things. In the same manner, the acceptance of these categories is fundamental in Islamic scholarship, because denying the first and sixth leads to denying the human ability to achieve certainty at all and thereby the ability to believe.

The opposite of sound reasoning is sophistry, or extreme relativism, where a person claims to doubt everything, even sometimes his or her own existence. Since they thereby doubt the existence of proofs, arguing with them is a useless activity. Instead, they are handled by putting them in a situation where they are forced to admit the certain existence of sensory reality. An example of how this can be done, is saying to them, “I will not discuss anything with you until you admit that you are certain that we are speaking to one another.” A slightly harsher way is to throw some cold water in their face, and when they complain say, “you mean the water you are not certain exists thrown in the face you are not certain exists by a person you are not certain exists?”

How to categorize a claim as either certain or possible

Explaining what constitutes certainty is of fundamental importance, because this is the means by which belief and reason come together; a unique attribute of Islam. The fundamental beliefs of Muslims are all coupled with certainty in terms of their evidences, and from those the remaining beliefs and practices flow.

Certainty is of two kinds: (1) knowing by plain reason that a claim must be true or (2) that it is impossible. All other claims are considered possible, unless there is material evidence of otherwise. Here is an explanation of what is meant by “must be”, “impossible” and “possible”:

  • Must be: These are claims that sound reasoning cannot deny because their opposites are absurd. For example 1+1=2 must be true, because claiming otherwise would be absurd (in the case of natural numbers). It does not apply to scientific theories such as E=mc2, because it is conceivable that they could be proven wrong.
  • Impossible: These are claims that sound reasoning concludes to be absurd, such as the claim that 1+1=3, or that a part of a whole can be larger than the whole, or that there is a square circle. Another example of something impossible would be for a camel to enter through a needles eye, without a change in the size or shape of either party. Impossible claims refer to things that cannot ever be; they are mere verbal absurdities without a sound meaning. They are usually contradictions of terms (such as the idea of a perfectly round square) or meaning (such as the idea of 1+1=3 using natural numbers). Impossible things do not include claims that are naturally impossible, such as pigs flying or rivers flowing up a mountain. These are things that are known to be impossible only by knowing how the world works, and cannot be said to be impossible by reasoning alone.
  • Possible: possible means possible according to reason alone. It does not mean possible according to the normal course of events. This category includes all normal events, but also things that are naturally impossible, such as the examples of rivers flowing up mountains or pigs flying mentioned earlier. If something happens that is naturally impossible then this is an extraordinary event, such as feeding hundreds of people with one piece of bread, curing a leper by touching him, wakening the dead, walking on water, etc. i.e. events that are naturally impossible are possible, but completely extraordinary. This shows the highly open minded attitude learned Muslims have towards claims regarding worldly events, i.e. towards science.

Accepting these categories for sound reasoning is absolutely fundamental. Denying them implies denying the religion as a whole, because it means denying the possibility of knowing with certainty that Allah exists, that the Quran is an unperverted book and a miracle, and that Prophet Muhammad was Allah’s prophet and messenger. To claim that one only achieves knowledge through the revealed text is absurd, and a form of sophistry, because one must first establish that the text itself is reliable, and this can only be done through sound reasoning.

These categories are firmly established by the Quran, where the rhetorical question “`afalaa ta`qiluun” meaning, “Don’t you realize the truth?” or the like, is repeated throughout. This question is an appeal to be sound-minded.

Proving with certainty that God exists using common sense

Islam orders Muslims to believe in the fundamental creed of Islam without a fragment of doubt. At the same time, Allah (God, the Creator of this world) has stated in the Quran that He does not order someone to do something he is unable to do. Allah also named Himself Aţh-Ţhaahir, which means, “The One Who’s Existence is Obvious by Proofs.” It is clear then, that these fundamental beliefs can all be proven correct with certainty.

The basic Islamic belief belongs to the must be category of claims. This belief is that there is only one Creator and that he has no partner, part or equal in His attributes. A simple way to show this to be true is to first establish that this world needs a Creator to exist.

It is clear that this world is an incredibly organized place. Take for example the human cell and how it develops and is coordinated with the rest of the body, or the incredible precision of the solar system and the earth’s atmosphere. Sound reasoning tells us that these are not random events, and if they are not random, then they are organized, and organization requires someone’s specification and power to give specifications and realize them without exception.

To illustrate why this is true, let us say for example that you had left a room extremely messy, with clothes thrown on the floor, furniture upside down, and so on. Later you came back to the room and found it tidy and neat. Would you accept that this neatness came about without someone or something having done the work of tidying?

We conclude then that this world must have a Creator that is attributed with will and power. Don’t you see that if you leave a few trees standing by the riverside they will never become a raft if left alone? Or, that a ship will never sail straight to its destination in a hurricane without something steering it? If this is true for these simple events, then it is obviously true that someone controls the events of this universe, and that He is attributed with will, knowledge and power.

Proving with certainty that God is clear of imperfection, such as having a partner, using common sense.

The above argument is used by anyone that believes in the existence of a Creator, such as Christians and Jews. However, accepting this proof leads to other necessary conclusions as follows:

The one that has the power to create this incredible cosmos cannot be attributed with any weaknesses. This is clear, because the world we see around us shows us that His power, knowledge and will are absolutely unlimited. After all, He created all this from non-existence, i.e. the claim that He sleeps or gets sleepy is impossible. Such a claim is simply a failure to conceive existence beyond material existence, and drawing analogies between the Creator and the created. It is also a failure to realize the amazing detail and complexity of creation, which brings one to the natural conclusion that its Creator cannot be subject to any limits. This is what Muslims mean when they say “subhan-Allah”, i.e. Allah is clear of non-befitting attributes, i.e. flaws or weaknesses.

It must be true that the Creator does not have a partner. This is because having a partner indicates need; the need for help, the need to overpower or the need to make concessions. Having a need is a weakness, and the Creator must be free from that, i.e. it is impossible for Him to have a partner.

Since we said that this world must have a Creator (because it requires specification) then it must be true that the Creator does not have attributes that require specification, such as composition of parts, physical dimension or location, limits, boundaries, beginnings or ends, weaknesses, movement, gender, etc. In other words, He must be clear of temporal, physical or spatial attributes; attributes which the question “how?” apply to. This is because being in need of specification is a tremendous weakness in need of a Creator.

Only the Creator deserves to be worshiped. This is clear because He does not have a partner or a part, as established above, so everything else that exists must be merely a creation and completely submitted to the power of the Creator. Anyone that is fair minded will admit this. However, because of the atheist and agnostic propaganda people are exposed to, it is appropriate to present a more detailed proof as follows.

A mathematical proof that Allah exists and does not resemble His creation, supported by the reasoning of Prophet Ibrahim

Islam is greater than those religions that are taken on faith alone; as the scholars have shown in their answers to pagans and atheists throughout history. The proof of God’s existence is of a mathematical kind, however, rather than experimental. This is because Allah is not something one can observe. Rather, His existence and attributes are proven by the existence and attributes of created things. The atheist/materialist assertion that Allah does not exist, because He Himself is not directly/scientifically observable, is fallacious and silly. This is because anything scientifically observable cannot be the Creator, because He is not like His creation. It is as if they are saying, “if Allah exists, then He is something physical.”

One logical proof of Allah’s existence is:

Premise A: We exist here today.

Premise B: Before we existed there were a series of events, one after another leading up to our existence today. (The passing of such a series of events is what we call time, and measure in minutes, days, weeks and years.)

If one accepts Premise A, then one must also accept that the series of events in premise B must have a beginning. This must be, because if someone claims that an eternal amount of events had to be concluded before his existence, then he is saying that eternity came to an end, which is a contradiction in terms. It is like if someone said “this car will only get to its destination after its wheels have spun infinitely many times,” and then claimed that the car arrived at its destination. It is clear, however, that the car could never have gotten to its destination if an infinite number of spins was the condition for its arrival.

Those who claim that the world has no beginning are in fact saying that it is a prerequisite for tomorrow to arrive that an infinite number of events first take place. This is impossible, because infinity cannot end. Clearly then, the number of events that precedes our existence must have a limit.

In addition, since it is necessarily true that this series of events has a beginning, then it must also be that before this beginning there were no series of events (defined as anything with a beginning). If someone claimed otherwise, then they would end up with the same contradiction (saying that infinity came to an end). Accordingly, the claim that the world was created by random events is irrational.

Rather, there must be a Creator that gave the series of events existence, since it was nonexistent before it began. Moreover, since it is impossible for there to be any events before the existence of this series, then it must also be that the Creator is not attributed with events, i.e. with any attribute or action that has a beginning. This again means that the Creator does not resemble His creation, since all created attributes must have a beginning. Actually, having a beginning and being a creation is the same thing. This is because to create is to bring into existence, and everything with a beginning must have been brought into existence.

We know from the above, by mathematical precision and logical necessity, that the Creator exists and does not resemble His creation. From the fact that the world has a beginning, we have proven that it must have a creator. The name of this creator is Allah in Arabic. If someone asks, “Who created Allah?” we say Allah does not have a creator, and does not need one as He has no beginning. If someone then asks, “how can you accept that Allah has no beginning, while you do not accept that the world has no beginning?” The answer is that we have shown that the world has a beginning based on the fact that it changes (changes are events). We do not believe, however, that Allah changes. Rather, we believe He is One, and doesn’t change and has no beginning.

The fact that Allah does not resemble His creation can also be known by saying that since God’s existence must be (as shown above), then it cannot also be merely possible (since “must be” and “possible” are incompatible meanings – something cannot be both a must and a possibility at the same time). Therefore, He must be clear of any attribute that belongs to the possible category of things. For example, weakness, limits, boundaries and needs are attributes that may or may not have existence; their existence depends on them being created; their existence is a possibility, not a must. They need a Creator to specify their limits. We know that we need a Creator, because we know that our own attributes need specification. We know they need specification because they have limits, and limits must be specified. For example, if you pointed at a table in a room and said, “Who made it in that shape?” and someone answered, “No one, it is just there like that eternally!” Would you accept this? Of course not, because we know anything limited needs someone to specify it.

This is what Ibrahim (peace be upon him) meant when he said about the star in the sky “I don’t like those who go away.”(Surah 6, 76-78 ) Going away is an event and an obvious sign that the star is a creation; it needs someone to specify its time, and it makes blatantly obvious its possibility of non-existence. He also said about the sun, “This is bigger!” He was pointing out to his people that what is attributed with a limit (size needs a limit) is an event (something that has a beginning), because it needs someone to specify its size, like anything else with a size.

According to the proofs above, Allah is not attributed with limits, since He is not created. We can also safely conclude that Allah has a Will to specify events, and unlimited Power to create them. We can also conclude that He must have knowledge, because specification without knowledge is impossible. It is now easy to see also, that no event can take place without Him willing it. All of this is according to the teachings of Islam, and what all prophets taught, as is shown by the following statements in the Quran:

“هُوَ الأَوَّلُ”,

“He is Al-Awwal.” (Al-Hadid, 03).”

If translated literally, it would be “He is the First” i.e. He existed before everything else, and He was not preceded by non-existence or the existence of something else. It is a beginningless and necessary existence, and is not affected by anything, since it is not preceded by anything.

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا”

“And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

If someone asked: If an event can be defined as an action that has a beginning and giving a series of events existence is an action with a beginning (and if it’s not, then what is it?), then how can one rationally conclude, based on the logic presented above, that the Creator is not attributed with events?

The answer to this is that we did not define events as actions having a beginning, but as “anything that has a beginning.” Actions may have a beginning, namely the actions of creation – as they all share this resemblance, or they may not, namely the actions of Allah.

Allah does not resemble His creation, so He is not an event or attributed with events. This is because to “create” is to “bring into existence,” and all events are therefore by definition created. As Allah’s attributes are not creations, they are not events. As Aţ-Tahaawi, an authority on the Islamic belief said:

ما زال بصفاته قديما قبل خلقه

“He is now as He always was, eternally with His attributes, before His creation came into being.”

Note that the actions of Allah Himself are not describable, as they are actions not bounded by time.They are actions without a how (bilaa kayf). Our lack of understanding is not a problem for the argument presented, because we have already shown, and we can definitively understand, that no action of Allah has a beginning. Then we stop there, and do not delve on it, or say “how?” There are things in creation that are beyond our grasp, such as the pattern of quarks, so what about the Creator, who does not resemble anything?An example of something beyond our grasp, is what the following aayah tells us:

“وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ”

“Allah created darkness and light” (Al-’Anˆaam, 1)

Yet the scholars mention other things as the first creation of Allah, such as water. Definitely water, or any other physical thing, without darkness or light is beyond our understanding, even beyond our imagination. That does not make it untrue, however, as verified in this aayah and the fact that they are events that thus need a Creator, as was established earlier.

Last but not least, in attempt to confuse, or out of confusion some may ask: “What if the world’s existence is cyclical?” Our answer to this is that cycles are still one cycle one after another, so they are events. Some may also ask, in an attempt to confuse: “Before Allah created this series of events, was He able to create another series or not?” Our answer to this is that this is a nonsensical question, because what we established was that there must be an event that is first, regardless of the number of series, or the number of worlds preceding the current one[1]. We also established that Allah’s actions are not events, so they are not described with a “before.” The Prophet said:

اللهم أنت الْأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ

“O Allah, You are the First, so there is nothing before you, and you are the Last so there is nothing after you. (Muslim, No. 2713)”

Now that we have shown with certainty that the Creator exists, is one without a partner, and that He is clear of created attributes, we will move on to the next fundamental part of the creed. Namely that Muhammad is God’s Prophet and Messenger.

Proving with certainty that Muhammad is God’s Prophet and Messenger

First, when we say that Muhammad is God’s Prophet and Messenger, we mean that he received a revelation from God ordering him to teach the true belief (Islam), and to bring changes in the rules and laws of previous messengers. Muslims believe that Jesus, Moses, John, Abraham and the other prophets were prophets of Islam. Their belief was the same, but the laws and rules they brought were sometimes different. This is because the needs of human kind have differed through the ages.

Second, nobody denies the historical existence of Prophet Muhammad, so there is no need to discuss this.

Third, as for the proof of his prophethood, this is done, like with all other prophets, by claiming prophethood while showing a miracle. By “miracle” Muslims mean an extraordinary event that nobody opposing the claim can imitate. If a person shows a clear miracle while claiming prophethood, and at the same time this person is known to never lie and to be of exceptional moral character and beauty, then the sound minded conclude that this person has God’s support in his claim. In other words, he must be a prophet.

Before becoming a Prophet, the Prophet Muhammad was known among his people as being sincere and trustworthy from the day he was born, as was admitted even by his adversaries. He was greatly loved for this. Never telling a lie is an essential characteristic of any prophet, before and after prophethood. That is why the king of Ethiopia at the time believed Prophet Muhammad. He heard from the Arabs that he was known never to have lied, and this king knew that if such a man claimed prophethood, then he could only be a prophet.

As for his miracles, they are many, but the most obvious is the Quran itself. The Quran has been preserved to the last letter, without any perversions or alterations for some 1400 years. This in itself is an extraordinary event, because no other book has been preserved in this way in human history. It is a miracle also, because the Prophet Muhammad affirmed by what was revealed to him that it would be preserved. Allah said in the Quran (Al-Hijr, 9)

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

“Allah has revealed this remembrance that is the Quran, and He protects it.”

This is a miracle then, because this claim of future preservation associated with the Prophet, stated in the Quran, matches this already extraordinary preservation of 1400 years.

Added to this preservation is the fact that the Quran challenges anybody who opposes Prophet Muhammad’s claim to prophethood, to compose a Surah like any of its 114 Surahs. Allah said (Al-Baqarah, 23):

وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ

“If you are in doubt about what Allah has revealed to the Prophet, then bring a Surah like any of its Surahs in eloquence, if you can, but you will not be able.”

This challenge came despite the fact that the shortest Surah in the Qur’aan can be written on a single line on a piece of paper (Al-Kawtħar, 1-3):

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ ^ فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ ^ إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ “

Yet, nobody succeeded in meeting this challenge among the Arabs, despite the Arabs pride in eloquence at the time, and the widespread occurrence of poetry competitions between tribes and individuals. In fact, nobody during these 1400 years has met this challenge. Moreover, if the challenge had been met during his time, then Prophet Muhammad would have lost his support. Add to that the fact that Prophet Muhammad  was unlettered and never took part in composing any poetry. If you think about it, this miracle also proves that nothing happens except by Allah’s Will.

In addition, the Quran contains many statements about things the Prophet could not have known through ordinary means, such as the description of what would happen to the breathing of a person if lifted up into the atmosphere (Al-An`aam, 125):

فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلإِسْلامِ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ

“Whoever Allah has willed to guide, He will open his heart to accept Islam, and whoever He has willed misguidance for, He will make his chest tight and narrow, as if he is ascending up in the sky.”

Another example was that once when the Prophet and his army were stuck in the desert without water, he filled empty jars with water by putting his hands in them. The water was eventually enough for an army of 1500 people to drink and wash.

Remember that these events happened in broad daylight in front of masses of people, and that these things were related to the next generation without interruption until this day. These are not stories found in books with unknown authors, or tales of single individuals in the darkness of history. Rather, when the Prophet performed his last pilgrimage he had more than 100,000 people with him and was the established ruler of the Arabian Peninsula. He was there when the Islamic civilization was founded and it has only grown since.

Now that we have established the creed of Islam as correct with certainty, what about the various rules and stories in the Islamic religion?

The Rational Approach to Islamic Texts

Since we have already established that Muhammad was a Prophet and Messenger of Allah, then all we have to do regarding the other teachings of Islam is to show that something was actually taught by the Prophet. These teachings are of 4 main sources:

1. The Quran.

2. Collections of statements about what the Prophet said, did or did not do in different circumstances. This is called hadith.

3. Collections of the sayings of scholars to establish what they all agreed upon.

4. Analogy in the absence of clear proofs from the 3 above sources. This is in rules and laws of the religion only.

5. I will only discuss the first two sources, since the third and forth are beyond the scope of this article.

Before discussing the two sources it should be known that both Quran and hadith is related from person to person in chains of narrators that extend from the Prophet to those who relate them today. For example, if you go to a properly qualified scholar today, he can tell you what his chains of narrators are for the Quran or hadiths all the way to the Prophet. He would say I was taught this by so and so, who was taught by so and so, etc. These chains are called chains of narrators.

As for the Quran, it has already been established that the Quran has been completely preserved. Masses of people memorized Quran around the Prophet. These masses taught other masses and so on until today, and there is still only one Quran; whether you test someone who has memorized in Mecca or someone who lives in China or Argentina. It is naturally impossible that any of these masses in the various generations could have gotten together to agree to fabricate, insert or remove something. That is why a plain statement in the Quran is a plain proof.

As for hadiths, these are ranked according to the probability of correctness, as I indicated at the beginning of this article. The highest-ranking hadiths are the ones that have been related in the same manner as the Quran. Such hadiths are automatically established as correct, without looking at who related them, because it would normally be impossible for them to be lies. These hadiths would be comparable to the news we have received that there was a war in Iraq. There is no sound reason to doubt this because it has been related by so many different sources in a way that does not allow for a conspiracy to lie, or a mistake. This is unlike, for example, moon travel. This incident is entirely based on what NASA says as an organization, and there were military and political motives to lie, so a conspiracy is a real possibility. According to the Islamic manner of relating hadith, the story of traveling to the moon is no more than possibly true. This is to illustrate how strict the science of hadith is.

The next level for hadiths is for those that were not related in the manner above. Rather, they were related by one or more individuals, who then related it on to others. These hadiths may be related from masses to masses today, but at some stage they were not. These hadiths can range from highly likely true to certainly untrue. Several factors are taken into consideration when ranking these, including:

What was said about the people in the chain of narrators? The existence of people accused of lying would weaken the chain tremendously, as would the existence of people with inaccurate memories, or a person with a known bias in a particular issue (if the hadith is on that issue), or people who are not well known. Disqualified or weak narrators are also identified by analyzing what was related from a particular person, by comparing that to what else he related, or what others related in similar matters.

What was the level of understanding of the different narrators with regard to the religion in general and scholarship?

Is there evidence of interruption in the chain of narrators? That is, are there narrators missing or indications that two of them never met, or were unlikely to have met?

Are there weaknesses in the text of the hadith? For example, does it narrow down the absolute meaning of a statement in the Quran or a hadith that was related like the Quran? Is it in disagreement with well-known and established rules of the religion? How does the text agree with hadiths related for the same or similar events? It is in answering these questions the truly great scholars, such as Abu Hanifah and Al-Shafi`i, are separated from the crowd. It is also in dealing with these issues that is the main concern of the foundations of fiqh and that caused the scholars to disagree, namely the topic of conflicting evidences.

Is there a claim in the text that belongs to the impossible category of claims (i.e. it is absurd)? If so, the hadith is either interpreted as a figure of speech or rejected. This is because a hadith that has an authentic and strong chain of narrators (but was not related in the manner of the Quran) only establishes a high likelihood of it being true, and a proof that shows high likelihood is much weaker than a proof that shows certainty (i.e. that something belongs to the must be or impossible category of claims).

All of the above factors are taken into consideration to rank a particular hadith, and the work of ranking them is a highly scientific task. When establishing what the meaning of a hadith is, one takes into consideration all the considerations of ranking. Moreover, they must be interpreted according to the most obvious meaning in Arabic unless there are other hadiths or statements in the Quran that indicate otherwise. In other words, before claiming that a statement is figurative one must have a solid proof for why this is so. This is done by showing that the literal meaning is absurd or inconsistent with other related texts from the Quran or hadith. This must be so, otherwise anybody could make any interpretation they desire and there would be no meaning in having a Prophet sent.

In the end, and putting it simply, what is considered to be obligatory for Muslims to believe, are the things that are established with certainty. Moreover, if it is concluded that the Prophet most likely prescribed something, then one must follow this, because it is improbable that he did not, and God ordered us to follow him. To illustrate, if a person that you trust at work came to you and said that the boss wants you to do so and so, do you ignore it, or do you naturally accept the task? Would it be reasonable to reject the command on the basis that it is not impossible for this to be wrong? Of course not. These rhetorical questions illustrate that accepting hadith with strong chains of narrators and a meaning that is free of inconsistencies (in view of the text of the Quran or other hadiths, or established rules of scholarship) is only reasonable and rejecting it would be unreasonable, and there is no doubt that it is better to be reasonable than unreasonable.

Figures of speech identified by sound reasoning in the Quran and hadiths

To finalize this article, one particular issue needs to be discussed in more detail: when to identify literal meanings as absurd, and therefore interpreting them as figures of speech.

Identifying literal meanings that are absurd is of particular importance in matters of belief, so it deserves a more detailed discussion. It should first be pointed out that rejecting absurd meanings and understanding expressions as figures of speech is something natural that we all do constantly. To illustrate: A few years ago the telephone company AT&T had an advertising slogan saying, “Reach out and touch someone.” What they meant here was not a physical touch, but simply pleasing another person by calling them. To interpret this slogan literally would be absurd and laughable. We know this through our knowledge of what a telephone is and what it is not.

In this same manner, among others, figurative speech is identified in the Quran and hadith; a learned Muslim knows what attributes are impossible for the Creator or a prophet to have. He knows thereby that expressions in the Quran whose literal meaning implies attributes that are physical, or have a beginning, or an end, or change, must not be taken literally. He knows that interpreting them literally would be absurd and an insult to the Creator, just like the sane person who heard the AT&T slogan knew its literal meaning to be absurd.


[1] The worlds that exist now are the only ones, and there was no world before them, but this is known by narrations from the Prophet, and the Quran, and not by logic alone. This is beyond the scope of this article.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Q & A: Is the jawhar perpetual?

May 19, 2008

Question: I have a question regarding atomism that the Salafis are charging on us Sunnis. Do the Ashari really believe that the atom is perpetual in the sense that it itself is not an accident? So, this is one special object that exists, all else is accident? And this one special object is the common composition of everything? I know about there not being an infinitely indivisible particle, but my question is regarding its perpetuality. Should not this small special object “the atom” be an accident itself, as God would have to recreate it at every instant. So then everything in the universe is an accident according to the Asharis but based on the existence of this indivisible particle?

Yasir Qadi says: “For the Asharites, the only perpetual object is the atom. The atom itself is created at a specific point in time, but after that time, it remains in creation until God wills otherwise.”

Answer: First of all never say “God would have to recreate it,” because God does not have to do anything. This is one of the most important principles of belief.

Second, using the word “atom” is a bit misleading. Asharis do not hold that the atom is the jawhar, the indivisible element of physical things. Take a look at the following article to know more about this: The Indivisible Element

As for your question: They are all things that have a beginning. “Accidents” or `arad, better translated as “incidental characteristics,” in my opinion, are simply attributes of the indivisible element (jawhar) that bodies are made of. None of them can exist without the other, but the indivisible elements are more lasting, because if there is a change in a body, then the `arad has changed, but the jawhars presumably remain the same. That is why they are longer lasting, but not perpetual in an absolute sense, only relative to the `arad. On the other hand, a jawhar cannot be without being either moving or still, so you cannot have a jawhar without `arad, because movement and stillness are `arad.

Yasir appears to be a mushabbih, that is why he says things like “The atom itself is created at a specific point in time, but after that time, it remains in creation until God wills otherwise.” He imagines this is the Ashari position, because he seems to think that Allah, after a creating something, might just take a break from it and leave it until He wills for it to be no more. This is equivalent to the Judeo-Christian belief that the creator took a rest on the 7th day. He has the same position on causation. He says that once a thing has been given a power to cause things, to actually influence events, it can be left alone to do its own thing under supervision, in his opinion. Here are his exact words: “Rather, Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties, and these properties may in fact effect other substances if Allah allows them to.” This belief is one of the origins of shirk, because it explicitly states that Allah’s power is shareable.

This belief in complete or partial rest comes from the methodology of thinking of Allah in terms of created things. The mushabbihah believe that Allah’s actions are sequential events: doing one thing and then another and another and so on. Actually though, Allah’s actions are not events, they do not start or stop, they are not sequential, they are not in time. They are without a how.

Asharis, on the contrary to what was proposed by Yasir, believe that neither a change nor a lasting existence happens even for a moment without Allah having specified and created that. Nothing is ever acting without Allah having specified and created that act to the last detail. This is because every moment of existence for a created thing is only a possibility, so if Allah has not willed for its existence in the next moment, it will not exist.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


The Indivisible Element

May 19, 2008

Ahl al Sunnah are currently under the accusation that they founded their belief on the existence of the indivisible elements of bodies (anything with a bulk – i.e. all physical things, material structures, organisms – anything that fills space). The accusers say that the Sunnis took this idea from Greek philosophy, and that the affirmation of such elements’ existence has been shown to be ridiculous by science. None of these claims have been backed by proof, and they are a poorly disguised attempt to baselessly attack the people of the truth. Widespread intoxication from the heavily financed wines of anthropomorphism and bigoted literalist sophistry, has made many engage in assaults on the people of tanzih[1], Ahl al Sunnah wa al-Jamaa`ah. No punches against sound reason are spared these days, regardless how low the blow, and all of this is done in the name of Allah’s religion. As has been narrated in a ḥadith about the last days before the coming of Al-Dajjal:

وَيَتَكَلَّمُ فِيهَا الرُّوَيْبِضَةُ

“And in those days the silly people speak about matters of public importance.”[2]

The basis for knowing that there is an indivisible element is from the Quran, not Greek Philosophy

It is important to hold that the elements of this world are finite, and not infinite in number. This is the case whether it be moments of time, bodies or their attributes (such as movement, stillness and colour), because the Quran unequivocally implies that created things are finite:

وَمَا مِنْ غَائِبَةٍ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ إِلا فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ

Meaning: “there is nothing hidden of creation in the Skies or the Earth that is not in a clear book.” [3]

Clearly, the book is not infinite in size. Therefore, the created things in the Skies and the Earth are limited in number, and not infinitely many, otherwise there would be no room to record them all in a finite book.
Another ayah:

لا يَعْزُبُ عَنْهُ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلا أَصْغَرُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ وَلا أَكْبَرُ إِلاّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ

Meaning: “Nothing is hidden from Him, not what has the size of the smallest ant in the Skies or Earth, and nothing smaller or larger than that, and it is all recorded in a clear book.” [4]

This ayah states clearly that everything smaller than the smallest ant is recorded. If everything was infinitely divisible, then the elements that are smaller than the ant would not be a finite number. They would therefore not fit in a finite book. Further to this is another āyah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “Allāh knows the number of all things.” [5]

This ayah states that things have a number. This means that they are not infinitely divisible, because that would make all the numbers infinity, and not different from one another.

Yet another ayah that affirms the finite existence of creation is:

وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَاهُ كِتَابًا

Meaning: “the count of everything has been recorded in a book.” [6]

Al-Tabari stated regarding the meaning of this ayah that all things have been counted and recorded in a book, that is, “its total number, amount, and value”[7]. Clearly then, they are not infinite, because that would make all the numbers infinity, and not real numbers.

The indivisible element of bodies is called ‘Al-Jawhar Al-Fard’ (lit. the unique essence) in Arabic jargon, but that is just a name. This ‘Jawhar’ is not the same as the atom (because it has electrons as parts,) or even necessarily the quark (as some scientists already suggest that it has parts.)

The existence of the indivisible element is affirmed by scholarly ijma’ consensus.

The existence of the indivisible element of bodies, call it a ‘Jawhar’ or whatever you like, is affirmed by scholarly ijma’ consensus. Abu Manṣur ‘AbdulQahir Al-Baghdadi (429 H) said in his book Usul al-Din[8]:

“Ahl al-Sunnah agreed by consensus that any jawhar is a part that is indivisible, and they declared as a blasphemer Al-Nazzam (a Mu’tazilite leader) and the philosophers who said that all parts are divisible into infinitely many parts. This is because it leads to saying that their parts are not known as a limited count by Allāh, and this contradicts the saying of Allāh:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “He knows the number of all things[9].

In his book Al-Farqu Bayna Al-Firaq, Abu Mansur said:

“As for affirming the existence of the jawhar, the indivisible part (of anything with bulk): this is the saying of most (of those who claim to be) Muslims, except Al-Nazzam, for verily he claimed that there is no end to the parts of a single body, and this is the saying of most of the philosophers. If this was true, then the mountain would not be bigger than the mustard seed…. because what does not have a finite existence, is not larger than something else that does not have finite existence (i.e. infinity=infinity, note that we are speaking of real existence, not potential existence, such as what is to be in the future)….

…. As for Al-Nazzam, it is said to him: If you believe in the Quran, then there is the saying of Allah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

{Meaning:} He knows the number of all things.[10], so if the parts of all the kinds of creation were not limited (at all times), then they would not be known as a number.”[11]

This narration of ijma’ must be taken seriously, because its proof is clear, and the narrator, ‘AbdulQahir ibn Ṭahir Al-Baghdadi Al-Tamimi, Abu Mansur, (429 AH/ 1037 AD) was the head of the scholars of his time. The historian Al-Dhahabi (673-748 AH/ 1274-1348 AD) described him in his book Siyar ‘A’lam Al-Nubala’[12] as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar”…. “He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al-Dhahabi said that he would have liked to write a separate, more complete article about him. He quoted Abū ‘Uthman Al-Ṣabuni[13] (373-449 AH/ 983-1057 AD) saying: “Abu Mansur is by scholarly consensus counted among the heads of the scholars of belief and the methodology of jurisprudence, as well as a front figure of Islam.”
From the above we can safely assume that the idea of the indivisible element, the Jawhar, is from the Quran and is affirmed by ‘ijma’ consensus. Therefore, it is not taken from Greek Philosophy.

The importance of the indivisible element

As stated by Al-Taftazani and others, the knowledge about the indivisible part is important when fighting those who believe that there is something other than Allah that is without a beginning. He said:

“If someone asks: ‘Is there any particular benefit to this disagreement (proving the existence of the Jawhar, and refuting those who deny it)?’ Our answer: ‘in proving the existence of the Jawhar, there is salvation from a lot of the darkness of the philosophers, like the affirmation of their concepts of eternal matter, and of forms, which lead to the belief that the world is eternal and beginningless[14].’”

The real nature of the indivisible element is unknown to us

Note that what is mentioned in scholarly works about the nature of the indivisible element, is not essential with regards to the Islamic belief. In fact, its nature is unknown. Some scholars back in the middle ages, such as Fakhr al-Dīn Al-Rāzī, felt confident enough to talk about it, and did. Back in those times, even the hardcore science of physics was not yet a science, but merely a branch of philosophy and mathematics. This is in stark contrast from today, where even sociologists are attempting to upgrade their field to be labelled as “science,” due to the astonishing success of the hard core experimental sciences of physics, chemistry and biology.

Needless to say, the scholars of old differed widely in their views, with the limited mathematics and instruments they had. Many Ash’aris, such as Al-Zarakshi, contended that to speak of its nature is a mistake, because everything we observe is divisible. Others ventured to do it. Their purpose was to attack the philosophers on their own premises in geometry and other fields. It is from the “I ain’t givin’ you even an atom of my fingernail” approach; they wanted to attack every argument that the philosophers presented. They did not do this with the intention of making these arguments the core of the Islamic belief, they merely wanted to show that even based upon their own premises the philosophers were wrong. Many of these proofs are not of the unequivocal type, unlike the proofs for the jawhar’s existence, though they can be helpful in developing one’s imagination and finding out just how limited we are. Today, needless to say, many of these arguments are no longer needed, as they are no longer used by the opponent. In fact, trying to understand the indivisible element through the geometry of divisible things, is a bit like trying to understand satellites by watching a cockfight on the basis that movement is a shared characteristic; one thing has next to nothing to do with the other.
It is very important to understand then, that the weakness of some of the proofs based on geometry are not evidence for doubt in the indivisible element. This is because the proof of its existence, not its nature, is firmly established by the Quran, scholarly ijma’ consensus, and sound reasoning.

Conclusion

In conclusion, to say that the idea of the indivisible element is ridiculous is to contradict with what the āyahs mentioned above necessarily imply. It is also a claim that contradicts scholarly ijma’ consensus. Moreover, it is an opinion that is not backed by scientific findings. It is finally a failure to think logically, for how would a scientific experiment show with certainty that an element is infinitely divisible, when dividing it in such a case would never end? Clearly then, science has not shown the idea of the Jawhar to be ridiculous.

I hope that the attack on the belief in the indivisible element was not a sign for the coming of something far worse. I hope it is not a prelude to spreading the ancient kufr of believing that something other than Allah is eternal, while demagogically sloganising ‘Al-Kitab Wa al-Sunnah,’ and ‘Shaykh Al-Islam says’ to dupe the ignorant.


[1] Tanzīh is the Sunni belief that Allāh does not resemble His creation, that He is not in a place or in time, because He existed before He created them and He did not change. Al-Ṭaḥāwī stated (in {brackets}): {Allāh is above} the status of {having limits, extremes, corners, limbs or instruments.} {The six directions} up, down, front, back, left and right {do not contain Him} because that would make Him {like all created things}. The opposite of tanzīh is anthropomorphism, which is the belief that Allāh has attributes similar to that of creation. The most prominent of such beliefs today is the belief that Allāh is above the ‘Arsh (throne) in the literal sense. They promote this idea to the general public by adding “but we don’t know how.” This does not help, because having this belief entails believing that Allāh is something adjacent to the throne, and that He therefore has a limit. This belief is blasphemous by the consensus of the Salaf, and all reasonable human beings.

[2] Fatḥ al-Bārī, 13/84

[3] Sūrat al-Naml, 75

[4] Sūrat Saba’, 3

[5] Al-Jinn, 28

[6] Al-Naba’, 29

[7] Jāmi’ al-Bayān Fī Ta’wīl al-Qur’ān

[8] Uṣūl al-Dīn, 36

[9] Al-Naba’, 29

[10] Al-Naba’, 29

[11] Al-Farqu Bayna Al-Firāq, 354

[12] 17/572

[13] Abū ‘Uthmān Al-Ṣābūnī, who said this, is one of the greatest scholars of Islām and among Sunnis he is known as ‘Shaykh Al-Islām’ – the Shaykh of Islām. Al-Subkī, in his “The Levels of the Shāfi’ī Scholars,” quotes a number of scholars praising Al-Ṣābūnī. He stated that Al-Bayhaqī said, “Verily Al-Ṣābūnī is in reality the Imām of the Muslims and in truth the Shaykh of Islām. All the people of his time are humbled by his state of religion, leadership, sound beliefs, amount of knowledge, and his commitment to the way of the Salaf generation (the first three generations, or first three centuries of Muslims) (1/223-224).”

[14] Sharḥ al-‘Aqā’id Al-Nasafiyyah, 36


Q & A: A philosopher’s belief about the eternality of the cosmos

May 19, 2008

Question: I think that what a philosopher would say about the eternality of the world is this: The heavens and the earth indeed had a beginning, as the Quran states. However, they were created by Allah from some prior substance that existed before them. So he would affirm a beginning to the heavens and the earth, but he would deny that before they were created nothing else existed besides Allah. Now my question is this: Why exactly is this belief kufr? Is it because of the hadith that “Allah was and nothing was with Him”?

Answer: It is a combination of many evidences, but it is basically because he believes that this substance is not created by Allah, and is His partner in eternity. The bottom line is that it is shirk.

[Shaykh] Abu Adam


Q & A: If 1 = 0 is absurd, then is not bringing something out of nothing also absurd?

May 17, 2008

Question: If it is logically absurd to say that Allah can create a “one” out of a “zero” then so too must it be absurd to say that Allah can bring something out of nothingness. Therefore, the cosmos has always existed because it is logically absurd to say that the cosmos was created out of nothingness.” How would we respond to such an argument?

Answer: The number one is not a thing. It is an idea in the mind only, representing the count of “one.” 1=1 simply says that “one” thing equals “one” thing, so you cannot say 1=0, or that “one thing is nothing.” That does not mean, however, that “one” thing cannot become nothing. It can, because Allah can annihilate the thing that had the count of “one.” For example, “one” man = 1 man, then later he was annihilated, so it is no longer existing, and therefore has a count of 0. It is important to distinguish between “being” one and “becoming” one, or being zero and becoming zero. What is impossible is that “one” be “zero” and “one” at the same time. Mathematical expressions in the normal sense refer to “being” and not “becoming.”

[Shaykh] Abu Adam


Q & A: Translating “لم يزل ولا يزال بأسمائه وصفاته لم يحدث له اسم ولا صفة” from Al Fiqh al Akbar

May 17, 2008

Question: Regarding the last sentence of the following statement from Al Fiqh al Akbar of Abu Ĥaniifah: ” He has always existed, and will always exist with his Names, and Attributes. He has not aquired any new name or attribute;” I have found it stated elsewhere as ”Neither attribute nor name was created.” Aren’t these are two different meanings?

Answer: Both statements are translation of this same statement:

لم يزل ولا يزال بأسمائه وصفاته لم يحدث له اسم ولا صفة

Literally it states: “His names and attributes have not been given a beginning,” ie. Allah’s names and attributes are without a beginning. This is equivalent to saying that they are “not created,” and close to “not acquired” also.

I like to translate this as I have done, however, because this is more precise and more general and inclusive. This is particularly because some people think there are things with a beginning that are not created; they do not realize that saying that something has a beginning, and saying that it is created, is the same thing. The Hashawiyyah sects, such as the Karraamiyyah, and today’s Wahabis, have this problem. Because of this, they are sometimes in agreement with the Mua`tazilite sect without realizing it. Due to their failure to realize that different wordings do not necessarily have different meanings, and that the same words do not necessarily have the same meaning in all contexts, they made many, many mistakes. An example of this, related to Abu Haniifahs saying above, is the following:

Ahl-al-Sunnah believe that Allah is attributed with a beginningless and endless kalaam (speech) that is not language, letters or sounds, and that does not change and isn’t sequential. In other words, it is not attributed with any sense of beginning or beginnings, because Allah is not like His creation, and what absolutely all created things have in common is that they have a beginning. They pointed out that sequential meanings, expressing or communicating one meaning after another, is nothing but a beginning after a beginning after a beginning.

Ahl-al-Sunnah also said that anything with a beginning must have been brought into existence, since it was preceded by non-existence. Anything with a beginning therefore, is created, i.e. brought into existence. The sequential letters of the book of the Qur’aan, therefore, refer to Allah’s Speech, and are not actually attributes of His. Letters, after all, are sequential in order and must have a beginning, and must therefore have a creator. Based on this they said, “Allah’s speech is not created.” They also said “The Quran is not created,” because the word “Quran” is an Arabic word that refers to Allah’s attribute of speech, although it is also used to mean the book with letters. They also did not allow anyone to say “the Quran is created” if he meant the physical book and letters, because this was the expression that the Mu`tazilites had made up, and the Prophet is narrated to have said, “Whomsoever imitates a people is one of them.” To clarify all this: the letters and sounds in the book of the Quran refer to Allah’s speech, they are expressions that guide us to what Allah says. A similar concept is the fact that that the letters in the utterance of Allah’s name refer to Allah Himself, but those letters are not attributes of His. When I say “I worship Allah,” I don’t mean the letters and sounds of the utterance, but Allah Himself. Likewise, when I say “Allah says that He is One,” I do not mean that Allah speaks English or Arabic like created things, but that He said this without language, letters, sounds or a beginning or an end.

The Mu`tazilah, on the other hand, refused to accept that there can be speech without letters or sounds, so they said that Allah’s Speech is something that has a beginning, and that it is created. In other words, they said it is not an eternal attribute.

The Hashawiyyah agreed with the Mu`tazilites, and said that there can be no such thing as speech without letters or sounds. In contrast with the Mu`tazilites, however, they said: “although Allah’s eternal speech is letters and sounds, it is still not created.” In other words, they claimed that His speech has beginnings, but is not created. This was even worse than what the Mu`tazilites did, because they believed that Allah’s speech is created in meaning, if not by their words. They had committed the same heresy as the Mu`tazilites, but called it something different, just like someone might call wine “grape-juice” and consider it permitted to drink. Yet they added to this something more, namely the belief that you can have series of events that do not have a beginning (such as sequential speech), and the belief that something can have a beginning without having been created. This is why they have been relatively few until this day and age; they do not seem to even know what they are saying. That is also why Ibn Al-Jawziyy said to the corrupt Hanbali’s that were Hashawiyys, such as Abu Ya`laa, “You have sunk to the level of the mindless mob!”

This is also why Abu Haniifah chose his words so carefully; he realized that if he said “not created” someone might still think that Allah has attributes that have a beginning, but are not created. Note further that he said after that:

وصفاته في الأزل غير محدثة ولا مخلوقة, فمن قال: إنها مخلوقة أو محدثة, أو وقف, أو شك فيها فهو كافر بالله تعالى

“His attributes are eternal without a beginning and are not created. Whoever says that they are created or have a beginning, or is uncertain about the attributes or doubts them, is an unbeliever in God.” This is nothing less than a judgment of blasphemy made by Abu Haniifah for both the Mu`tazilites and the Hashawiyyah who said that Allah’s speech is letters and sounds, or sequential, so beware.

[Shaykh] Abu Adam


Miscellaneous: Sarkhasi, Bazdawi & Bukhari affirmed Allah’s attributes

May 16, 2008

as salam `alaykum

A contender’s email:

Contention:

Please translate this and putt on your site:

Al-Sarkhasi in his ‘Usul (1/164 dar al-ma’arifah edition):


وبيان ما ذكرنا من معنى المتشابه من مسائل الاصول أن رؤية الله تعالى بالابصار في الآخرة حق معلوم ثابت بالنص، وهو قوله تعالى: * (وجوه يومئذ ناضرة إلى ربها ناظرة) * ثم هو موجود بصفة الكمال، وفي كونه مرئيا لنفسه ولغيره معنى الكمال إلا أن الجهة ممتنع، فإن الله تعالى لا جهة له فكان متشابها فيما يرجع إلى كيفية
الرؤية والجهة مع كون أصل الرؤية ثابتا بالنص معلوما كرامة للمؤمنين، فإنهم أهل لهذه الكرامة، والتشابه فيما يرجع إلى الوصف لا يقدح في العلم بالاصل ولا يبطل، وكذلك الوجه واليد على ما نص الله تعالى في القرآن معلوم، وكيفية ذلك من المتشابه فلا يبطل به الاصل المعلوم.
والمعتزلة – خذلهم الله – لاشتباه الكيفية عليهم أنكروا الاصل فكانوا معطلة بإنكارهم صفات الله تعالى، وأهل السنة والجماعة – نصرهم الله – أثبتوا ما هو الاصل المعلوم بالنص وتوقفوا فيما هو المتشابه وهو الكيفية، فلم يجوزوا الاشتغال بطلب ذلك كما وصف الله تعالى به الراسخين في العلم فقال: * (يقولون آمنا به كل من عند ربنا وما يذكر إلا أولو الالباب)


Al-Bazdawi with the sharh of ‘ala ad-deen al-Bukhari (1/59-60 usul al-Bazdawi in the marginalia of Abdulaziz Al Bukhari’s sharh)


قَوْلُهُ (وَكَذَلِكَ) أَيْ وَكَإِثْبَاتِ الرُّؤْيَةِ إثْبَاتُ الْوَجْهِ وَالْيَدِ لِلَّهِ تَعَالَى حَقٌّ عِنْدَنَا فَبِقَوْلِهِ عِنْدَنَا احْتَرَزَ عَنْ قَوْلِ مَنْ قَالَ لا يُوصَفُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى سُبْحَانَهُ بِالْوَجْهِ وَالْيَدِ بَلْ الْمُرَادُ مِنْ الْوَجْهِ الرِّضَاءُ أَوْ الذَّاتُ وَنَحْوُهُمَا وَمِنْ الْيَدِ الْقُدْرَةُ أَوْ النِّعْمَةُ وَنَحْوُهَا فَقَالَ الشَّيْخُ: بَلْ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى يُوصَفُ بِصِفَةِ الْوَجْهِ وَالْيَدِ مَعَ تَنْزِيهِهِ جَلَّ جَلالُهُ عَنْ الصُّورَةِ وَالْجَارِحَةِ ; لأَنَّ الْوَجْهَ وَالْيَدَ مِنْ صِفَاتِ الْكَمَالِ فِي الشَّاهِدِ ; لأَنَّ مَنْ لا وَجْهَ لَهُ أَوْ لا يَدَ يُعَدُّ نَاقِصًا, وَهُوَ تَعَالَى مَوْصُوفٌ بِصِفَاتِ الْكَمَالِ فَيُوصَفُ بِهِمَا أَيْضًا إلا أَنَّ إثْبَاتَ الصُّورَةِ وَالْجَارِحَةِ مُسْتَحِيلٌ, وَكَذَا إثْبَاتُ الْكَيْفِيَّةِ فَتَشَابَهَ وَصْفُهُ فَيَجِبُ تَسْلِيمُهُ عَلَى اعْتِقَادِ الْحَقِّيَّةِ مِنْ غَيْرِ اشْتِغَالٍ بِالتَّأْوِيلِ, وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ فِي أَمْثَالِ مَا ذَكَرْنَا يَتْبَعُ اللَّفْظُ الَّذِي وَرَدَ بِهِ النَّصُّ مِنْ الْكِتَابِ وَالسُّنَّةِ فَلا يُشْتَقُّ مِنْهُ الاسْمُ وَلا يُقَالُ: اللَّهُ تَعَالَى مُتَوَجِّهٌ إلَى فُلانٍ بِنَظَرِ الرَّحْمَةِ أَوْ الْعِنَايَةِ وَلا يُبَدَّلُ بِلَفْظٍ آخَرَ لا بِالْعَرَبِيَّةِ وَلا بِغَيْرِهَا فَلا يُبَدَّلُ لَفْظُ الْعَيْنِ بِالْبَاصِرَةِ وَلا لَفْظُ الْقَدَمِ بِالرِّجْلِ وَلا يُقَالُ بِالْفَارِسِيَّةِ أَيْضًا ” جثم خداي وروى خداي ودست خداي ” وَغَيْرُ ذَلِكَ. قَوْلُهُ (وَلَنْ يَجُوزَ إبْطَالُ الأَصْلِ) أَيْ لا يَجُوزُ الْحُكْمُ بِأَنَّ الْقَوْلَ الرُّؤْيَةُ وَالْوَجْهُ وَالْيَدُ بَاطِلٌ بِالْعَجْزِ عَنْ دَرْكِ الْوَصْفِ أَيْ الْكَيْفِيَّةِ لِمَا فِيهِ مِنْ إبْطَالِ الْمَتْبُوعِ بِالتَّبَعِ وَالأَصْلِ بِالْفَرْعِ وَذَلِكَ كَمَنْ رَأَى شَخْصًا عَلَى شَطِّ نَهْرٍ عَظِيمٍ لا يُتَصَوَّرُ الْعُبُورُ مِنْهُ بِدُونِ سَفِينَةٍ وَمَلاحٍ ثُمَّ رَأَى ذَلِكَ الشَّخْصَ فِي الْجَانِبِ الآخَرِ مِنْ غَيْرِ أَنْ يُشَاهِدَ سَفِينَةً وَمَلاحًا لا يُمْكِنُهُ أَنْ يُنْكِرَ عُبُورَهُ مِنْ النَّهْرِ ; وَإِنْ لَمْ يُدْرِكْ كَيْفِيَّةَ الْعُبُورِ, فَكَذَا فِيمَا نَحْنُ فِيهِ لِمَا ثَبَتَ بِالدَّلائِلِ الْقَاطِعَةِ جَوَازُ الرُّؤْيَةِ وَصِفَةُ الْوَجْهِ وَالْيَدِ لِلَّهِ سُبْحَانَهُ لا يَجُوزُ إنْكَارُهَا بِالْعَجْزِ عَنْ دَرْكِ أَوْصَافِهَا وَالْجَهْلِ بِطَرِيقِ ثُبُوتِهَا, فَإِنَّهُمْ رَدُّوا الأُصُولَ يَجُوزُ أَنْ يَكُونَ مَعْنَاهُ رَدُّوا أَصْلَ الرُّؤْيَةِ وَالْوَجْهِ وَالْيَدِ لِجَهْلِهِمْ بِالصِّفَاتِ اللامُ فِي الصِّفَاتِ بَدَلُ الْمُضَافِ إلَيْهِ أَيْ بِكَيْفِيَّاتِهَا. وَيَجُوزُ أَنْ يَكُونَ مَعْنَاهُ رَدُّوا الأُصُولَ أَيْ الصِّفَاتِ جَمْعٌ بِأَنْ قَالُوا لَيْسَ لَهُ صِفَةُ الْعِلْمِ


So if these Hanafi Maturidis can make ithbaat of Al-Yad/Hand and Al-Wajh/Face with Qati’e texts of the Qur’an as they make ithbaat of the ru’yah bila kayfiyyah, then why is that not tashbih and what the Salafiyyah say is tashbih? Thus, i have found out, that i was manipulating by misled Asharis, and i have seen the truth of the Salafis, as i found these 3 great Hanafis (Sarkhasi, Bazdawi, Al-Bukhari) accepting those sifaat in same manner. I thank Allah.

PS: You should accept the same, because you say i am Hanafi!

Shaykh Abu Adam’s Response:

To affirm the attribute is not the issue, it has never been the issue. Many say that the word yad refers to an attribute, likewise the word wajh. Abu Hanifah is one of them. None of Ahl-al-Sunnah say, however, that these are physical. The problem with the Wahabis is that they believe that these are bodily attributes, or do not deny that they are. As-Sarakhsi says below: “…direction is impossible. Verily Allah is not in a direction.” Al-Bukhaariy says the same; that this wajh and yad do not have the meaning of a shape or a bodypart. He even says: “It is not allowed to express these words (wajh and yad) with subsitute words in Arabic or in another language.” I.e. it is prohibited to translate wajh as face and yad as hand.


Response to a comment: Calling Allah a ’cause’ is Kufr

May 16, 2008

as salam `alaykum,

The following is a response to one of the comments on this post.

wa `alaykum salam

Shaykh Abu Adam’s Response:

Commentator said: The ‘Ashari denial of the principle of causation (قانون العلية والسببية) is in conflict with one of the proofs for the existence of God (دليل الحدوث).

No one has said that you cannot use the word “cause” at all, but that is not the same as saying that one is allowed to name Allah Himself “cause.” You can say that the world exists because Allah created it. The names of Allah, however, are revelation based and one cannot make them up at convenience. This is what the christians did when they started calling Jesus the son of God. For merely saying this, Allah judged that they are blasphemers, regardless of what they meant by it. That is why scholars of the Hanafi school, ruled that to call Allah “cause” is kufr. It is actually very close to the Christian idea. Abdul Ghani An-Nabulsi said: “And based on the kufr of the christians, we can derive the (judgment of) blasphemy for the Greek philosophers, because they believed that Allah is the ’cause of causes.’ (Haqa’iqul-Islam wa ‘Asraaruh, P. 132)”

Commentator said: …theological and philosophical principles presuppose the necessity and truth of causation. If this were not the case, then one could assume that the Universe is temporal and uncaused?

The answer is simple, things exist because Allah created them. They did not exist because other created things created (caused) them. Asharis believe there is only one creator. He, Allah, created all things, all events, all incidents in every instance. Created things have no power to influence things in reality, they only correlate with them as Allah has willed. So if you do not water plants, they won’t grow because Allah has willed that the growth of plants must normally be correlated with watering. As stated in the Qur’aan:

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ”
Meaning: “Allah created everything.” (Al-An`aam, 101) I.e. He brought everything, absolutely and categorically into existence.

“وما تشاءون إلا أن يشاء الله”
Meaning: “You do not will anything unless Allah has willed it.” (Al-Insaan, 30)

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا”

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

“هَلْ مِنْ خَالِقٍ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ”
Meaning: “Is there another creator than Allah?”


Q & A: The logical difference between correlations and definitions

May 15, 2008

as salam `alaykum

I read the following in An Introduction to Classical Islamic Philosophy by Oliver Leaman:

“Examples of beings which are necessarily existent by reason of something else are ‘combustion,’ which is ‘necessarily existent… once contact is taken to exist between fire and matter which can be burned,’ and ‘four‘ which is ‘necessarily existent… when we assume two plus two.’”

My question with regards to this is as follows:

Combustion‘ and ‘four‘ are not the same. The only reason it appears to us that combustion is the result of coming into contact with fire is because we have always observed this to be the case. In other words, since the result of coming into contact of fire being ‘combustion‘ is empirically observable, it is not necessary that things always burn when they come into contact with fire. On the other hand, ‘two plus two‘ is one of the definitions of ‘four.’ That is how ‘four‘ is defined. Is my reasoning correct?

jazak allahi khayrun

Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji’s Response:

wa `alaykum salam,

Yes, you’ve got it right, except that 2+2=4 is not only a definition, as I will explain below. What he is talking about is not Islamic philosophy, but the Greek philosophy of Ibn Sinaa and his ilk. They believed that fire has the ability to burn by itself, without Allah having willed it. They are kuffaar, as stated by Al-Ghazzali and others.

The causes of normalcy in this world are actually just correlation. If you took some statistics or philosophy in science course, you probably know that researchers always talk about causation versus correlation. Well, to Muslims, it is all just correlation. When we say that fire causes combustion, it is a judgment regarding the habit of creation. This judgment is based on seeing that two events tend to correlate. So we say, “you need wings to fly, you need water to grow plants,” etc. The real cause is that Allah has willed for such events to always correlate. Make sure that you never name Allah “cause” though, as this is kufr, and the expression of the philosophers. You can say that the cause is that Allah has willed it, or that Allah caused it, but not that Allah is the cause.

2+2=4 is something entirely different, because it is a count, not correlation. 4 things are 4 things, no matter how you group them. It is a matter of definition, but not only a matter of definition. It is a matter of necessary knowledge, knowledge that the mind is forced to admit is true, because it does not require pondering. This is why people do not disagree about 2+2=4 just as 1+3=4, unless they are of the I-do-not-knowers sect of philosophers – the Sophists/relativists, that deny knowledge of anything (they contradict themselves though, for they claim to know that they do not know.) In Talbis Iblis Ibn Al Jawziy said that they can be handled by taking their property, and then when they ask about it, tell them “you mean the property you are not sure exists?” This is because it is usually some kind of compulsive obsessive disorder of Satanic whispers (waswasah.)

Answered by Shaykh Abu Adam


Qadari Contenion: Allah does not control our actions

May 14, 2008

Qadari Contention: Allah, of course, created all from the beginning and actively sustains that creation. But that does not mean that He controls the creation as if it were a robot or a mechanical toy.

Sunni Response: You are drawing an analogy between the Creator and the created. This is one of the principles of the Mu`tazila in these issues. In any case, a robot or a mechanical toy is different from a human in many ways, such as having a feeling of self, and a created perception of free choice. You can build all the robots you like, but these things will always be missing. About this issue, At-Tahaawi said {in brackets}:

{The reality of predestination is a secret of Allah pertaining to His creation. Neither a favored angel, nor a prophet sent has ever been given knowledge of it.} This is because predestination is not something observable, and only Allah has complete knowledge of what is not observable. {To become deeply absolved in and pondering about this} matter of the reality of predestination {is a means to failure} in religion, {a ladder to deprivation and a staircase to transgression} against what Allah has prescribed. {So beware, beware} and avoid this {by} busying yourself with {pondering, thinking and} even {random ideas,} concerning other matters, {for verily Allah has hidden the knowledge of} the reality of {predestination from mankind, and forbade them from seeking it. As Allah said in his book:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُونَ

Meaning: “Allah is not questioned about what He does, but the created beings are.”(Al-’Anbiyaa’, 23) {So whoever asked} in scorn or objection, {“Why did He do that?” has rejected the judgment of the Book} of the Quran {and whoever rejects the judgment of the Book has become a blasphemer.}

Authored by Shaikh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Qadari Contention: Human will is not pre-destined because there are many verses and hadiths to that effect

May 12, 2008

Qadari Contention: Many verses and hadiths state that humans are responsible and act according to what is inside of them, which means that human will is not predestined. An example:

Say: (It is) the truth is from your Lord. Then whomsoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve.” 18:29

Sunni Response: None of these statements conflict with the fact that Allah has created all acts and predestined them. None of them say that the will and action of creation is not created by Allah, and it is made even clearer as follows:

The statement “Then whomsoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve.” If this is indeed the meaning of the aayah, is a threat, and not an order or a permission. This is the saying of the linguist Az-Zajjaaj. Another interpretation is that the belief and blasphemy of creation does not benefit or harm Allah. Yet another saying of the scholars is that it means Then whomsoever Allah wills, let him believe, and whosoever Allah wills, let him disbelieve.” In any case, if the first interpretation is meant, then this simply means that the human being has the created ability to choose to commit the forbidden blasphemy, or the obligated belief. This presumed ability however is created by Allah and according to His Will, just as the actual choice made in the end. In this regard, it is mentioned in tafsiir books that when this was revealed:

إِنْ هُوَ إِلا ذِكْرٌ لِلْعَالَمِينَ * لِمَنْ شَاءَ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ يَسْتَقِيمَ

Meaning: “Verily this is a warning to the worlds, so the one who wills will take the path of fearing and obeying Aļļaah” (Al-Takwiir, 27-28).

…then the idolaters said, “so it is up to us, if we want, we will.” So Allah revealed:

وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Meaning: “You do not will anything unless Allah has willed it.”

Note that you cannot separate between Allah’s Will and His Creating, because Allah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

The conclusion is that humans have a choice and a will, but their choices and will are creations of Allah. The difference between this and being forced is the difference between what we feel are voluntary acts, such as standing up to walk into another room, and involuntary acts, such as sleepwalking. We are accountable for the former, but not the latter.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Qadari Contention: Why is intention so important in our religion if we do not create it?

May 11, 2008

Qadari Contention: If real intention, not created by Allah, does not exist, why is it so prominent in our religion?

Sunni Response: Intention does exist, but it is an action and therefore a creation of Allah:

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

Meaning: “Allah created you and what you do.” (As-Saaffaat. 96)

Intention also cannot be without Allah willing it:

وما تشاءون إلا أن يشاء الله

Meaning: “You do not will anything unless Allah has willed it.” (Al-Insaan, 30)

This means that Allah is the creator of our intentions, but we are the one’s that commit the intentions. When we intend something, we feel the ability to intend something else, and we do not feel forced to choose to intend. It is not like, for example, when our bodies shiver from cold temperatures. However, this feeling of ability, the process of choosing to intend, and the intention finally made are all Allah’s creations, while we are the ones that commit these inner actions.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


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