The Foundations of the Religion

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

82 Responses to The Foundations of the Religion

  1. Khan says:

    Might want to remove that first link under “possible related posts: (automatically generated)
    ;-)

  2. Ibn Mazhar says:

    as salam `alaykum

    Done. :D

  3. kasper says:

    wa aleykum assalaam

    very nice and insightful reading. May Allah reward you for this.
    I do have a question about the background for this article though, or rather for your own background the sheikh that is referred to , Sheikh Abu Adam. You write about the requirements of hadith sciences, and the importance of knowing who told whom and how these narrators were described by their comtemporaries, who did they study with, etc. the question that raises itself then is the following: who are you, who is the sheikh, who did he study with, etc.? these are, as you’ve rightly stated in the article, basic requirements of islam. in this age of internet and easy access to information this requirement is more important than ever, since it is the only tool one has to find credible sources of knowledge. wouldn’t you agree?

    wassalaam

  4. kasper says:

    salaamu aleykum again

    my mistake – guess I was to quick there, sorry… I found the asked for information elsewhere on your site. thouroughness – another basic requirement of seekers of islamic knowledge…

    wasalaam

  5. loveProphet says:

    Assalam-o-Alaikum Sheikh,

    Is it possible through reason to know that God must be All-Knowing or do we take that through the other sources of knowledge i.e. texts and those who have communicated with Him(i.e. the Mala’ika and Prophets)?

  6. Assalaamu^alaykum,

    We know that Aļļaah has knowledge, because He has a Will, and Will without knowledge is impossible. We know that knowledge is not limited, because like all of Aļļaah’s attributes it does not have a beginning or an end, and does not change.

    Abu Adam

  7. loveProphet says:

    Walaikum us Salaam,

    Oh i love that.
    JazakAllah Khair
    Also is the reason that Allah does not exist in time also imply that He knows all?

  8. Yes, since His knowledge does not change or renew, we know that it is not in time. Without change or renewal, there is no time.

  9. loveProphet says:

    The fine-tuning argument is very strong i believe and is used the most by the Qur’an.
    It is the one that is the most successful these days.

    But what do you think of this argument?
    1) Random events lead to chaos and not order
    2) A designer leads to order and chaos
    3) The universe’s laws are full of extraordinary order
    4) Thus the universe’s laws are designed
    Plus why is it that the atoms here follow the same rules as atoms at the far end of the universe, why don’t they just follow different rules?
    What makes things follow laws that can be comprehended by mathematical laws many times?
    Why are the laws specifically allowing the sustainance and development of life?
    All are deeply puzzling unless one believes in God who has power over all things.
    I thought Einstein’s comments might be useful here though it is no mystery for the sound mind:
    “You find it strange that i consider the comprehensibility of the world(to the extent that we are authorised to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priory, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is being constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands”
    (Taken from “God’s Undertaker: Has science buried God?”)

  10. I do not understand point number 2, but of course the order of the universe proves Aļļaah’s existence. As for Einsteins’s statement that the high degree of order “could not be expected a priori,”… I would add that randomly (i.e. unpredictably) behaving objects are also not expected a priori, for they need to be brought into existence. Later today there will be a new blog item on this in sħaa’ Aļļaah.

    Abu Adam

  11. loveProphet says:

    Oh sorry, my mistake in typing.
    2) A designer leads to order and not chaos

    The four points could otherwise be made using the argument that one is more likely to lead to the order whilst the other is unlikely.
    As for Einstein, he was saying that order is not expected a priori from an atheistic viewpoint. Thats why he did believe in God.
    And yes your point makes the argument of order have doubly effective.

  12. loveProphet says:

    I think its better if the argument is phrased instead as:
    1) Random events lead to disorder and not to order
    2) A designer leads to order and not disorder
    3) The laws of the universe are full of extraordinary order
    4) Thus the universe’s laws are designed and God exists

    Is this a sound argument?
    What if an atheist responds by saying that who designed God?
    Now there can be some arguments against that objections.
    1) God is eternal and exists outside of time, whilst this argument clearly applies to things with a beginning. (Personally i’d like to keep an argument about beginning out of here as we’ve got others already).
    2) God is not characterised by order or disorder as they refer to entity in space. They also refer to when an entity is governed by an independent law. Or would this statement not be Islamically valid?
    3) Clearly we know that laws have a beginning and thus the argument can apply to laws here and not to God(Who is Eternal). Also we know this from scientific confirmations such as the big bang.

  13. God does not need a creator, because He is not like creation. He is not a form, or a shape or something composed of parts, or limited in any way. Therefore He does not need specification, and therefore not a creator.

  14. loveProphet says:

    Yeah so the argument that i mentioned wouldn’t apply at all to Him right?
    That means that the atheists can’t use that argument?

  15. loveProphet says:

    But my statement of randomness doesn’t always hold i’m thinking.
    The quantum level randomness leads to order in the macro level. So how do we respond to that?

  16. io says:

    “A mathematical proof that Allah exists….”
    muslims are the best entertainers.

  17. Ibn Mazhar says:

    io,

    If you can’t defeat the argument presented, might as well take your “entertainment” elsewhere.

    You either have a question, that you ask.

    Or you have a doubt, that you need to clarify.

    Or you have an objection, that you want to raise.

    If you have none of these, don’t bother coming here.

    We do not “entertain” trolls, pardon the pun.

  18. loveProphet says:

    Ibn Mazhar,
    Actually i’ve seen such ad hominem attacks by atheist and agnostics and their ilk(even the ones held in high esteem like Dawkins) many many times and its just a show of their lack of arguments and sincerity.

  19. Ibn Mazhar says:

    as salam `alaykum

    Speaking of Dawkins, Behe is a good antidote if you’re spiritually affected by him. If you feel disgusted and torn apart in your soul after reading Dawkins, Behe is like that light at the end of the proverbial tunnel if you want to revive yourself.

    Though don’t rely too much on Behe. After all, he’s Roman Catholic, not an Ash`ari. ;)

  20. loveProphet says:

    Walaikum us Salam sidi,
    Wasn’t it a rule here that comments not related to the article or ad hominem attacks be deleted? If it isn’t, then the rule should be made.
    This “oi” has shown himself highly ignorance in just 11 words. This is because it is not only Muslims who use this argument(KCA), but also the Christians and Jews and some of the Greeks did too.
    Well i think Dawkins is not clever(and really bad at philosophy and theology), he just is a scientist and can use rhetoric well, and thus make his highly faulty arguments look impressive to those lacking insight.
    I wasn’t affected Alhamdulillah by his book(it should be called the “atheist delusions”), i thought it sucked and i don’t believe any sane person with at least some knowledge of Islam and kalam would fall for it.
    For example take his argument against “experiences” in his book. He dismisses them by taking one example where a Christian person claimed to have experienced it and then it turned out to be a fake.
    Wow, so thats how he dismisses all of miracles and experiences of theists!
    Woohoo, now if thats how arguments are made, lets take an example of where evolution turned out wrong(the single phlyogenetic tree) and then dismiss the whole of evolution!
    Or consider how he dealt with the fine-tuning argument, for such a major argument he only wrote about 2-3 pages(or around that)! And even then he used sloppy arguments such as the “we’re here so thats it, nothing to explain!”.
    As Antony Flew(the famous former atheist) mentioned, the modern day atheists like Dawkins hardly make an attempt at the strong arguments of theists, but rather they focus on weak arguments or present the theist arguments in a distorted way and then say “look, they have no proof!”. Its really just deception and distortion.
    Not to mention how Dawkins thought that evolution removed the need for God! What bad knowledge of theology.
    John Lennox’s book “God’s Undertaker: has science buried God?” is amazing, especially since he’s the philosopher of science of Oxford university and a mathematician there.

  21. loveProphet says:

    In the above evolution example, one can instead take the example of Haekal’s embryos or “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, thats less controversial and widely accepted to be a definitely wrong evolution belief.

  22. Ibn Mazhar says:

    as salam `alaykum

    No. The reason I’ve let comments on is so that no one can say that we “block the comments.” The only exception the Sheikh made to this was r-z’s “proof,” which was subsequently allowed later on anyway.

    As for Dawkins, what I had meant was that reading his work no doubt leaves you scarred, angry and not in the right spiritual mindset. I was not referring to doubts, as no sane educated Muslim can ever doubt Islam on the basis of his book. Reading Behe gives one a fresher perspective and makes one want to believe that even in science there is still hope, in the sense that some scientists will not fall for fallacious reasoning.

  23. loveProphet says:

    Walaikum us Salam,

    Oh i noticed i said this:

    “Well i think Dawkins is not clever(and really bad at philosophy and theology), ”

    It might be misconstrued, too bad i can’t edit.
    What the comment should mean is that he IS really bad at philosophy and theology as evident from his speeches and works.
    Check out how badly he got beaten in the debate with John Lennox last year.

    Yeah Dawkins can get one angry, especially due to the amount of nonsense and plain distortions and lies that are in the book. I haven’t read Behe’s book(heard its too complex for me as i’m not a biologist!) but i have ordered the book:
    “The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul”

    It sounds interesting, especially since near-death experiences are discussed.
    It seems there is hope, as long as people aren’t falling to their nafs.

  24. loveProphet says:

    This talk is interesting on the topic of NDE’s:
    http://www.veritas.org/media/talks/616

    He describes some of the incidents.
    Do you know what Islam says about this?

  25. I left io’s words also because they are nothing but an admission of defeat. In the world of debating this is about as close to such an admission as you’ll ever get.

  26. loveProphet says:

    Assalam-o-Alaikum Sheikh,

    I was thinking, does the proof for an afterlife indicate a proof for God?
    Since some atheists are considering not believing in God but believing in an afterlife though.

  27. Waˆalaykumussalaam,

    If this is true, then their stubbornness has reached a new level!

  28. […] proofs do not cause acceptance. You know, I struggled with another version of the proof in “Foundations of the Religion” when I had first converted to Islam. I needed them, because I knew I would be facing a wave […]

  29. Liono says:

    I have a question about the prophetic narration that says there were no worlds before this one? What does it mean by ‘worlds’?

    Weren’t Heaven and Hell already around?

  30. Liono says:

    You also lost me on this paragraph:

    “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).”

    Why must it be that there were no series of events before the beginning of the current series of events? Couldn’t there have been another series of events with a beginning and an end, and the beginning of this series of events?

  31. Liono Says: I have a question about the prophetic narration that says there were no worlds before this one? What does it mean by ‘worlds’? Weren’t Heaven and Hell already around?

    Answer: “Worlds” refer to the world of Angels, Jinn and Humans. Heaven and Hell are creations of Aļļaah.

  32. Liono Says: You also lost me on this paragraph: “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).”

    Why must it be that there were no series of events before the beginning of the current series of events? Couldn’t there have been another series of events with a beginning and an end, and the beginning of this series of events?

    Answer: I addressed this in the article when I said: “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.” I.e. a series of events before a series of events is an event, and what we have proven is that there must be an event with no prior event, regardless of the number of series.

  33. ned says:

    After all, he’s Roman Catholic, not an Ash`ari.

    Yes, and Behe is going to burn in hell for all eternity — don’t forget that while reading his books. Because we Muslims are the One True Way ™, right?

    You people are sophomoric.

  34. Harukh says:

    If there is one thing that is obvious in this world, it is that “common sense” is not common. Asserting common sense as an acceptable “proof” is fundamentally flawed, as our common sense is unreliable and easily deceived by our prejudices and visceral beliefs. For example, “common sense” told mankind that the world was flat because that’s what our eyes and, subsequently, our strongly held beliefs told us.

    To assert the so-called proofs presented here as “irrefutable” is intellectually deceitful. I accept you may earnestly believe what you believe and that you recoil at your beliefs being wrong…but calling these conclusions irrefutable is just plain wrong.

    There is no conclusion here – only more questions. If all things that began are created by a creator, then recursively you end up with a creator of the universe – an entity of incredible complexity! Who created that creator? If, as you say, this ultimate creator always existed then that *defies* the common sense you espouse as there is NO evidence whatsoever for any form of deity. Besides, the universe appears to be about 13.7 billion years old…if your deity has always existed, what was he doing prior to that for ostensibly an infinite amount of time?

    It’s true that the universe is a wonderous thing and that there is much we do not yet understand – but ascribing the wonderful and unknown to a deity is intellectual defeatism. Once upon a time, the sun was a wonderous and incomprehensibly powerful thing – sure enough, people worshipped it as a god. That was “common sense” at the time – a huge, brilliant, life giving orb in the sky! What else could it be but a god? Well…now we know better don’t we! :)

  35. Ibn Mazhar says:

    as salam `alaykum

    Ned,

    It’s interesting to note a few things about your comments:

    Firstly, you seem to be reprimanding us for judging others, while at the same time judging us, as well. Hypocrisy, I daresay?

    Secondly, by the looks of it you seem to be from the Muslim community, trying your best to practice “nahi ‘anil munkar (forbidding the evil),” while at the same time not bothering to bless us with your salutations. If you can’t manage something small like that, why bother with the big stuff? You’re lacking in respect towards those who you consider your fellow believers, while at the same time advocating respect for the non-believers. Interesting double standard, don’t you think? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

    Thirdly, it is a sign of a complete lack of sound thinking that leads one to use sarcasm and mockery without any argument in the first place. If you don’t have an argument, why try to defeat us with mockery and sarcasm? You know it’s not going to achieve anything.

  36. Ibn Mazhar says:

    The shaykh asked me post this in response to Harukh:

    Harukh said: If there is one thing that is obvious in this world, it is that “common sense” is not common. Asserting common sense as an acceptable “proof” is fundamentally flawed, as our common sense is unreliable and easily deceived by our prejudices and visceral beliefs. For example, “common sense” told mankind that the world was flat because that’s what our eyes and, subsequently, our strongly held beliefs told us.

    Answer: What you call common sense here, I also refer to as possibilities. From the viewpoint of ancient people the world appeared flat from their immediate surroundings and their experience with flat objects, but how would they know for sure? The only way would be to either see it, or to receive infallible information in an infallible manner, the way we know that it is spherical today. I used the word common sense for a reason, namely to avoid frightening people with big words. Many people will feel intimidated by words like “rational” or “logical.” That is why I used the word “common sense” in one of the arguments. In that particular case I did not mean by common sense what just seems to be the case. I also never said that anything called common sense is irrefutable. Common sense might refer to many types of proofs with varying level of reliability. An example of something that is common sense and is irrefutable is “the part of a thing is smaller than the whole of that thing.” An example of a false common sense type evidence is to say that all physical events have a preceding physical cause. This has apparently been refuted by physicists in the previous century – which affirms what has been the belief of Islam from the very beginning.

    Harukh said: To assert the so-called proofs presented here as “irrefutable” is intellectually deceitful. I accept you may earnestly believe what you believe and that you recoil at your beliefs being wrong…but calling these conclusions irrefutable is just plain wrong.

    Answer: Your words remain just words until you present a relevant argument against my argument.

    Harukh said: There is no conclusion here – only more questions. If all things that began are created by a creator, then recursively you end up with a creator of the universe – an entity of incredible complexity! Who created that creator?

    Answer: The Creator does not have a creator, as He has no beginning. The answer to this question is provided in more detail in the article.

    Harukh said: If, as you say, this ultimate creator always existed then that *defies* the common sense you espouse as there is NO evidence whatsoever for any form of deity.

    Answer: I presented the evidence for the existence of the Creator. Once His existence has been established, however, then it must be clear that the reality of the Creator cannot be fully grasped by our minds. This is because He necessarily does not resemble anything that has a beginning. We cannot imagine Him, because He is not something limited, and all things we experience with our senses are limited.

    Harukh said: Besides, the universe appears to be about 13.7 billion years old…if your deity has always existed, what was he doing prior to that for ostensibly an infinite amount of time?

    Answer: that is a question with no bearing on the proof I presented. It is also a question that assumes that the Creator changes from one state to another, which is contrary to the proof presented.

    Harukh said: It’s true that the universe is a wonderous thing and that there is much we do not yet understand – but ascribing the wonderful and unknown to a deity is intellectual defeatism.

    Answer: No, it is not, because it is true, and the proofs are plain. To say that “there is no explanation,” that would be intellectual defeatism, as would denying proofs without an explanation, or perhaps “intellectual bankrupcy” would be better.

    Harukh said: Once upon a time, the sun was a wonderous and incomprehensibly powerful thing – sure enough, people worshipped it as a god. That was “common sense” at the time – a huge, brilliant, life giving orb in the sky! What else could it be but a god? Well…now we know better don’t we!

    Answer: You are talking about silly people. Not everybody worshipped the sun in the past, and I do not agree that worshipping the sun is common sense, even if it is big and shiny. The sun is an object, it needs a creator, just like any other object, no matter how big or shiny it is. In fact, the Qur’aan tells how the Prophet Abraham showed his people that celestial objects do not deserve worship. Like I said, I used the phrase “common sense” with something specific in mind, I did not mean that everything called common sense can serve as irrefutable evidence. Of course I never said that either. Am I being sidetracked again?

    A final general comment: You seem to be beginning with the premise that there is no god. Perhaps your mode of thinking does not admit a Creator into your worldview. If that is the case, then certainly it is you who seem to be suffering from intellectual defeatism (or banktrupcy) since you’re accepting a premise without any proof. The way of proper investigation of an argument is to begin with the validation of any premise, until proper investigation reveals the truth-value of the premise one way or another. In this case, you’re just beginning with the premise that, “there is no god,” without having investigated it. You did not subject your assumption to careful critical examination in order to reveal whether or not your premise is founded or unfounded. If you had done so, then you would have presented an adequate argument against the simple proof that is presented in the “Foundations of the Religion” article.

    Before coming and arguing with us about the truth-value of our conclusions, be sure first to at least *attempt* to defeat (and if you can’t handle that, at least, critically examine) the argument presented, rather than just come in with unfounded premises and then arguing on the basis of those premises, for the value of any deductive conclusion is as good as the value of its premises.

  37. […] The Foundations of the Religion – If an atheists wishes to engage us, he or she may do so first by deconstructing all the arguments presented in this article, including the argument via the negation of an infinite regression. If they can’t (and they most certainly can’t) then there is no use even talking to them. […]

  38. loveProphet says:

    Some people say that there is no 100% solid argument for Allah but that when you combine all the 90%s or 80%s you get a 110% strong belief in Allah, is this true?

    [Edit: I removed the names mentioned in this comment – Ibn Mazhar]

  39. Ibn Mazhar says:

    Sheikh Abu Adam says: According to this claim there is no point debating atheist without going through all available proofs to be convincing. This is nonsense.

  40. […] [Editor’s Note: Readers may wish to refer to the many articles on this site that have rationally proved God’s existence. The main article can be read here.] […]

  41. Thrillionaire says:

    Dear Shaikh
    The proof was conclusive and it has surely increased my iman but how does one explain statements like Allah descends to the lowest heaven at night time and that on the Day of Reckoning He along with the angels would arrive on the earth.They apparently dont fit with the belief that Allah is where he has always been and does not move as He i independent of space.

  42. Thrillionaire says:

    Sorry for bothering you with a trivial question
    Got my answer in the ‘Wahabi Contentions’ section

    Man this site is great!!!

  43. xrillionaire says:

    Most scholars giving their opinion on various fatwa sites add the phrase “And Allah knows best” after their answers. Is this to be done only in matters where different interpretations come in play and there is a chance of them being wrong or is it only a token of their humbleness?

    Since you say the abovementioned arguments fall in the “must be” category (and its quite apparent that they do) should we still say Allahu Alam or not. That is to say would it be foolishness or humbleness when one supposes that the proof could be undermined if Allah willed so.

  44. Sometimes it is only a token of humbleness, so one cannot draw conclusions based on it, when it is found in the books of scholars. These days one should avoid using this phrase when speaking of belief issues, as some people might misunderstand.

  45. Atheist says:

    (Sorry for not reading the entire thing, and this may make this comment’s value low)
    The guy who wrote this is clever I’d say.

    But anything in the Quran should not necesarrily be lsitened to. Why believe in a book that there is nothing that tells you that it MUST be correct.
    If you kinda KNOW that everything in Quran is correct, then you’re delusional (yet though if you were right)

    EVERYTHING needs an explanation. EVEN GOD.
    If God has no explanation, he can’t possibly exist.
    If you’d say God has no explanation, then there must be another explanation for why he doesnt need an explanation. Does not necesarily have to be within the physical laws. But common sense say that this is impossible.
    Also… COMMON SENSE does make sense.

    The creator musn’t actually have any abilities as long as he has more than 1 IQ and that he really did create the world.
    But this is no excuse for those who believe in GOD/ALLAH. Those have requirements. But there is no evidence for their abilities. Theyre only described in the bible/quran which was probably written by normal people long ago.

  46. Atheist, I have to wonder what possessed you to write all that when you did not read the article. If you had read it, you would have seen that it does explain the existence of God as a necessary existence, and why this must be so. Based on that it gradually explains also why you must follow the Qur’aan.

    Other than that it is hard to figure out what you are trying to say.

  47. Abu Ismail says:

    “It does not apply to scientific theories such as E=mc2, because it is conceivable that they could be proven wrong.”

    Would not the rational rulings be limited to what one has knowledge of? E.g. would not most people consider one substance changing into another to be something impossible until some years ago? I suppose everyone thinks that it’s impossible to turn charcoal into diamond under extreme pressure unless someone has explained them that things are built up by elements and such.

    How does one then set a limit for what is conceivable and what is not?

    • The matter of charcoals turning into diamonds is a matter of normal possibility/impossibility, because both diamonds are intrinsically possible in existence, and so is charcoal, as well as applying pressure. All these three are things that need to be brought into existence to exist, because they are not intrinsically, with respect to themselves, necessary in existence. They are also not intrinsically impossible in existence, which means they are intrinsically possible in existence. So for any of them to exist, the possibility of existence needs to given dominance over the possibility of non-existence, and this cannot be from themselves, because their existence is not intrinsic to them.

  48. xus says:

    The problem with the classical arguments for the existence of God is that they are inductive. And the problem with inductive reasoning is that it is a posteriori, and therefore always make sense after the fact, meaning they always depend on experience.

    Furthermore, the rules of causality only make sense in the context of time, which only makes … See Moresense within creation, thus it could be considered nonsensical to speak of pre-universal “causes”, specifically a First Cause, when discussing the origins of the universe.

  49. Yassar says:

    As salamu ‘alaykum

    I posted a link to this article in a forum, and this is reponses I got from 2 athiests:

    Tread Softly
    ” 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.”
    Nope. You could posit an eternally long piece of string with no ends, along which a number of events happen, a sequence of which lead up to you existing. I read a bit further but it’s mostly drivel.

    lao tzu
    And …

    “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.”

    This is beyond incoherent mathematically, and contrafactual physically. Mathematically, there is no reason why a bounded region cannot be infinite, for instance the continuum between 0 and 1. Physically, it assumes that all events must originate from a single cause where quantum mechanics tells us that acausal quantum level events are occurring all the time, contradicting both the implication of causality and the supposed single “series of events” leading to a single “Creator.”

    Dreadful.

    As ever, Jesse

    • You are right, the first is drivel, and similar nonsensical objection was discussed above. He is changing the subject. The whole point is that something infinite cannot end. He is imagining an arrival point on a string, and then claiming that the string is infinite in both ends. He did not prove that there can be such a string. He is a fool.

      The other guy tries to brush the argument off with theatrics, so he says “incoherent mathematically, and contrafactual physically.” Big words from a silly mind. He says “Mathematically, there is no reason why a bounded region cannot be infinite, for instance the continuum between 0 and 1.” Funny. Is the distance between 0 and 1 an infinite distance? No. Sure, you can imaginarily assume mathematically that the fractions between them are infinite, but these fractions are not real, they are imaginary and do not exist in the outside world. If you were to divide then in a series 1/2, 1/4. 1/8, etc. this is imagined as an infinite string, but these fractions do not exist, nor does the series. It is an imaginary exercise. In my argument I am speaking of real events.

      Then he says, “Physically, it assumes that all events must originate from a single cause where quantum mechanics tells us that acausal quantum level events are occurring all the time, contradicting both the implication of causality and the supposed single “series of events” leading to a single “Creator.””

      No, it does not, and if we were to accept that physicist believe that quantum level events have no physical cause, which would involve a fair amount of foot shooting, then this would work for us, not against us, because we do not believe that events can actually and really cause something else. Why? Because all events are possible. For example, the fact that fire is hot and not cold, requires specification, and therefore a creator. This need for specification is most particularly clear if there is no cause, i.e. intrinsic properties that influence. The core of my argument in the article is that there is a sequence, or even sequences – it does not make a difference. Whatever the case might be, the events must be limited in order to ACTUALLY (not in imaginary equations) occur, otherwise they cannot be completed.

      • Begging to Allaah says:

        Assalamu ‘alaykum

        Also an infinite string of fraction cannot be imagined, as imagination is also something created and therfore limited. Just thinking the fractions are part of an infinite series doesn’t make it so. It doesn’t matter if it’s imaginary or not, as an infinite series is absolutely impossible.

  50. Mo says:

    assalamu-alaykum, shaykh.

    i just wanted to ask on the topic of kalam:

    what are the pre-requisites for its study? ie mantiq and to what level ie what kitabs(i am in contact with hanafi ulema but they arent specialised in the teaching of kalam itself)

    also, i know that the ashaari and maturidi ulema differ on certain issues, but is the method of “kalam” the same? for example, if i studied kalam under ashaaris, would it make any difference methodologically to maturidi kalam?

    may Allah reward you abundantly

  51. Yassar says:

    As salamu alaykum,

    Sorry for bothering you again Shaykh, got another athiest/agnostic that said this:

    The argument presented in that link is the centuries old Kalam argument or cosmological argument made famous by William Craig.

    There are many refutations of that argument but I will only limit myself to one for now. If as the argument presupposes that, everything that begins to exist must have a cause and that since the universe begins to exist also, the natural conclusion is that the universe must have a cause also, is clearly a circular argument. To say that everything that begins to exist must have a cause is to beg the question because everything that begins to exist = the universe.

    In symbol form:

    U= universe
    B= things that begin to exist
    C= things that are caused

    It is argued that:

    All B is C
    U is B
    therefore,
    U is C

    However, U is exactly the same thing as B. The universe is exactly everything that exists, nothing exterior can exist so we get the argument:

    1. U is C
    2. U is B
    3. U is C

    A classic circular argument that assumes exactly what it is trying to conclude.

    • The argument is not like that. What we say is that anything that has a beginning depends on someone else to exist, because it is only possible in existence, and not necessary. You cannot say something with a beginning is necessary in existence, because it was preceded by non-existence. Accordingly, the group of all things that have a beginning has a beginning, and accordingly, this group needs other than it to exist. This other cannot have a beginning. Otherwise we would indeed have a circular argument. By the way, when Muslims say “universe,” we do not mean everything that exists, but everything that has a beginning, or everything other than Aļļaah.

    • Souphienne says:

      Bismillah wassalam’aleykum

      This deviant has to know that sunni scholars and william craig are not saying the same thing.
      For example he believes that all senses of actual infinity are impossible, we don’t.
      What is very disgusting is that they only begin to hear what we have to say when we bring western style Phd names along with these proofs.
      But until that they just blindly throw Kant in our face without even knowing his sayings.
      It’s been a month since I’ve started presenting these proofs to different kafirs. Most of them are too dumb to understand these proofs, or too arrogant(and certainly racist) to accept rational proofs from non western people.

      Look at this arrogance in your example:

      The argument presented in that link is the centuries old Kalam argument or cosmological argument MADE FAMOUS by William Craig.

      Thank you William Craig for having rediscovered it, risking your life in the desert amongst those dangerous camels keepers.
      The fact is that if this william craig was intellectually honest he would be muslim.

      wassalam

  52. Souphienne says:

    The fact is that they never try to understand those proof with their own mind.
    They never criticize these proofs in themselves.
    NEVER.When they try you see that they can’t even understand a written text of ten lines.
    The fact is that they have never been thinking by themselves,just following blindly what they are taught in school and that’s it.
    wassalam

    • Adnan says:

      Well,… it’s that or your so-called proofs. One way or another, consider I go by your retort above, if they aren’t disposed to the other arguments they are coping to learn your arguments… which by the way i find unconvincing. BUT HEY! What do I know?! I’m an atheist fool now, aren’t I!

      • With this pathetic response I think you have just made another case for Souphienne’s point. Are we supposed to be intimidated by you being unconvinced, for no specified reason, or be embarrassed for having implied that you are a fool? Your arrogance has made you delusional.

      • Souphienne says:

        Hi Adnan,

        You said:

        if they aren’t disposed to the other arguments they are coping to learn your arguments…

        Comment:

        The fact is that they have no other arguments, no reasoning that shows that Sunni Scholar are wrong. They are only sceptic. And that’s ok in itself. But what is the basis of their scepticism?
        The state of the experimental sciences of today which in no way can provide us sound reasoning but are mere “guess” of how the world works.
        You can read this on this issue:
        https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/darwinism-in-the-eye-of-the-mind/
        So YES it is intellectual dishonesty to imagine showing us wrong because of mere assumptions from quantum physics for example that the sceptic doesn’t even understand. Because we are not talking about the same thing. On one hand we have experimental sciences which are mere guesses based on experience and who are showed wrong by even one contradictory experiment and on the other hand sunni scholar propose a reasoning based only on logic.
        So the only way to prove them wrong is not to say:given our knowledge in physics etc it is unlikely that you are right,that is not a proof.The only way to prove them wrong is to find a logical flaw in their reasoning.

        As for our arguments no one is asked to copy them:either you understand it or you don’t. You can ask sunni scholars the pieces of reasoning you’re not comfortable with.

        I have to admit that I came across a non muslim who clearly understand our proofs. He even admitted that they are the stronger for showing Allaah’s existence and so on. He informed me that it was because of these proofs that there are a whole bunch of scientists today who tend to be creationnists but nevertheless for him it was a mere construction of the mind and for him showing the exact opposite by rational proofs is also possible. When asked to do so he couldn’t. That’s sad.

        So I am not saying that atheists are dumb. I am saying that most of the time these people imagine that opposing experimental sciences to these proofs is of value. They have missed the point. And yes most of the time they don’t understand how these proofs work. Frankly I was’nt asking them to accept these proofs, I was only asking them to UNDERSTAND them and, by their objections, it was clear that they didn’t understand them. As I told you only one understood them but for him it was only a “trick” of the mind… for me that is just craziness especially when you can’t confront us with another “trick”.

        You said:

        which by the way i find unconvincing.

        Comment:

        The only interesting thing here would be to know what exactly you find unconvincing and why. As for the rest I think it is settled.

  53. Begging to Allaah says:

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    “This deviant has to know that sunni scholars and William Craig are not saying the same thing.”

    Indeed William Craig’s belief of the impossibility of actual infinity renders his argument against an eternal universe self-defeating as he lacks an explanation for how the universe began, and that’s why he’s intellectually dishonest.

    These are the views of actual infinity the following groups have:

    The atheists’ view that the universe with the limited attributes of it’s limited dimensions is beginningless is contradictory.

    The Christian scholars’ view that God has limited attributes similar to creation, and yet is actually infinite is contradictory.

    The sunni scholars’ view that Allaah and His attributes are intrinsically necessary unlike the intrinsically possible creation, and that He is clear of having a how or a shape unlike the creation which must be specified is logical.

    Allaah’s attributes are infinite is the only logical view here.

  54. Yassar says:

    Jazakamullahu khayran for the replies, much appreciated.

    This guy ‘Tread Softly’ said this also:

    His “proof” is to move from “there is a beginning” straight to “there is a creator”. That’s his proof. That’s it. Just that. It’s not “proof” – he’s using difficult words and complicated sentences to intimidate you into blindly following your religious prejudices and emotions.

    *sigh* Never mind yassar, you go on thinking that that is what is called “logic”, but anyone who’s had a decent education will see the utter vapid drivel of the argument should they dare to think a bit.

    • This kaafir is trying to intimidate you, because he has nothing else to help him escape.

      If the world has a beginning, then this means it was brought into existence, because it did not exist. This bringing into existence was done by other than the world, since the world did not exist. This one that is other than the world is the creator of the world, since He created it.

  55. […] a) the essential nature of the world, such as the fact that it changes, and consists of parts that are intrinsically possible in existence, and therefore need a creator (see Foundations of The Religion." […]

  56. Abu Eesa says:

    Assalaamu’alaikum shaykh.

    I understand that the existence of Allah is necessary. I also understand that 1 + 1 = 2 is necessary and that a square having four equal sides is necessary.

    1. As Allah created everything, how are the latter two necessary?

    2. If all three statements are necessary then are the latter two placed into a different type of ‘necessary’?

    Jazaakumullah khair shaykh.

  57. Abu Eesa says:

    Jazaakumullah khair.

    1. You said that a square having four equal sides is a mental abstraction and does not exist. But don’t we say that the necessary, possible and impossible apply to logical statements too?

    2. Can I say that Allah is intrinsically necessary and 1 + 1 = 2 and a body being in either rest or motion are contingently necessary?

    Jazaakumullah khair.

    • 1. Of course we do. Mental abstractions only exist in the mind, but not outside of the mind. I don’t understand what you are getting at. Review the definitions.
      2. Contingent upon what?

  58. Abu Eesa says:

    Assalaamu’alaikum shaykh.

    Contingent upon Allah making a body being either in rest or in motion necessary i.e. it is not intrinsically necessary but rather Allah made it necessary for this to be true?

  59. Salam Alaykum,
    In this article the existence of Allah is shown as a “mathematical proof”, that is, something which is actually proven deductively and cannot be denied. Is there similar type of deductive proof with respect to the Divine Nature of the Quran?
    I ask this because there are some non-Muslims who have seen the strength of your proof and other proofs for the existence of Allah written by Shaykhs and Muftis. However, they ask that how do we know in similar fashion (deductively) that the Quran is the Divine revelation. They say that the linguistic miracle of the Quran is not sufficient to show that it is revelation, and that more is needed.
    Also, isn’t there merit in the argument that since the Divine Being that is presented by Islam is the only One that can possibly exist while the others are impossible to exist, then by default only Islam is the correct religion, as all other religious systems have been eliminated?

    • “Mathematical” in the sense that it does not require repeated experience or experiments. The first type of knowledge is called the judgment of the mind, while the second is called judgment of normalcy, which is what science is based on. Something is known as a miracle by it being extraordinary, and this is a judgment of normalcy. See:

      The Quran as a Miracle of the Prophet Muĥammad

      Miracles of the Prophet other than the Quran

      Important note on the evidences of the prophethood of Muĥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)

      I will not, however, discuss this issue with a kaafir until he fully accepts what must be true of Allaah, what cannot be true of Allaah, and what could be true of Allaah. There is no point, because it is a prerequisite for understanding the meaning of miracles, and because if he will not accept the it, he will not accept what we say about the Propet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) miracles. When they want to skip to miracles, it is because it gives them room to play games, as the premises have not been agreed upon. It is futile to debate a topic for which one has not agreed upon the premises, like discussing the meaning of istawa with a wahabi.

  60. […] derive logical proofs based on them for proofs for the Creator’s existence, such as was done in this article. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  61. Adil says:

    Assalamualaykum,

    Shaykh Abu Adam you state, “Add to that the fact that Prophet Muhammad  was unlettered and never took part in composing any poetry”, however I find this statement offensive. I have always been taught and have read many books which state that Prophet Muhammad sallahu alahe waslam, is the best of all mankind. Nobody greater has come before him nor will anyone like/greater him will come after him. Since he is the best of all mankind, all of his attributes should be at the highest level. It has been stated in many Hadiths, the Prophet’s knowledge compared to that of Prophet Adam alayhis salam is like an ocean compared to a drop of water. Meaning Prophet Muhammad sallahu alahe waslam’s knowledge is the greatest from all creation. He is entrusted with the revelation of the Quran which means that he must be the greatest of all prophets since the Quran is the Last Revelation onto mankind.

    By stating that he is unlettered, you claim that Prophet Muhammad sallahu alahe waslam knowledge is not great at all when in fact it verily is. Can you please clarify your statement?

    • The Prophet’s (sall-Allaahu-ˆalayhi wa sallam) being unlettered is not offensive for his particular case. The reason is that is is part of his miracle; it strengthens his claim to Prophethood and that the Qur’aan is a miracle. Being unlettered is usually a sign of weakness and ignorance, but it his case it is not, and that is why it strengthens his claim and is therefore actually a praise for his special case.

  62. Mark says:

    I intend to save this specific blog post, “The Foundations
    of the Religion Sunni Answers” on my site. Would you care in case Ido?
    Thanks ,John

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