Q & A: What about Alif Laam Meem?

June 30, 2008

Someone asked: In terms of our belief about the speech of Allah not being composed of sounds, letters and the other attributes of created things, but rather His Speech is the meanings that the letters and the sounds convey. What is the response of the `ulama to the one who objects by asking, “What about ‘Alif Lam Mim’?”

Answer: One cannot say that Allah’s kalam is meanings. Allah’s kalam pertains to meanings, but His kalam is one, this is the sound expression. As for Alif-lam-miim, it has a meaning, but the scholars differed regarding it.

Note that it would be imperfection for the Creator not to have an attribute by which He tells, orders, promises and threatens.

On the other hand, it is imperfection to be attributed with the attribute of expressing what one knows serially (i.e. consecutively, one piece of information after another). This is because speech that consists of serial expressions must have a beginning and because there will be a delay in informing all that one knows.

Remembering that what Allah knows is unlimited, we must admit that His attribute of kalam, by which He informs without delay the unlimited information that He knows, cannot be like our limited created kalam that is made up of sounds, letters and words.

Note also that Allah can enable any of his creation to hear his kalam, although it’s not a kind of sound. Beware that this does not mean that a creation can know all that Allah’s speech pertains to, because that would mean that a creation could know everything, and this is impossible. Rather, Allah can make each of them understand from it what He wants him/her/it to understand, so each of them might end up understanding something different at the same time.  This is another reason why we cannot say that His kalam is like the kalam of created beings.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

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Q & A: Someone asked, “How can we know that the awliya can hear our calls?”

June 29, 2008

Someone asked: some say that you cannot call upon a deceased person for help. This is  unless you have a reason to believe that it will be conveyed. This is because simply assuming that the message will reach the deceased is like claiming knowledge of the Unseen.  Hence, it is alright to send Salam to the Prophet Sal Allahu Alayhi Was Salam because of the hadiths mentioning the angels carrying the Salam to him, but how can we know that Imam Nawawi or the greatest Awliya like Shaykh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani hear our calls?

Answer: The first claim “you cannot call upon a deceased person for help unless you have a reason to believe that it will be conveyed” does not prevent calling them from help, because a wali may be conveyed such a call. The second claim “simply assuming that the message will reach the deceased is like claiming knowledge of the Unseen” only holds if one claims that the call will be surely conveyed, and does not have any proof. So if someone called a deceased for help, merely hoping that it would be conveyed, then the two claims given will not prevent this from being permissible.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Note: The author of this question wished to have his question answered privately. However, since we saw the general usefulness of this answer, we have published it, but have adequately removed any traces of the questioner’s identity from the question.


The Belief in Prophet Muhammad: an overview for fresh converts

June 28, 2008

Muslims believe that Muhammad (son of Abdullah, the son of Abdul Muttalib, the son of Hashim, the son of Abdu Manaaf, of the noblest Arab tribe: Quraysh) was God’s last Prophet and Messenger. He was sent to both Jinn (invisible beings that God created from fire- the non-Muslims among them are called devils) and all mankind. He was born in Makkah, but immigrated to Madinah where he is buried. May Allah raise his rank.

A prophet is someone who receives a revelation to teach Islam, whereas a messenger is a Prophet that brings new rules that his followers must follow. Muslims must believe in all prophets, such as Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Noah and Adam (the first prophet) and that they all taught the same belief; that there is no god but God, the Creator of everything. Muslims must also believe in the books Allah sent to them, such as the Quran to Prophet Muhammad and Injeel to Jesus.

Allah created the Prophets with attractive attributes so that people would believe them when they taught Islam, such as: honesty, trustworthiness, intelligence, courage, beauty and good manners. Muslims must accordingly believe that the prophets never (even as children) lie, cheat, steal, betray or do anything indicating meanness or low character, such as committing adultery or even intending it. They are all born Muslims and never commit blasphemy, such as believing that Allah has a partner or a son, or worshiping celestial bodies, or believing that Allah resembles His creation or that He has created attributes, or doubting Allah’s existence, or hesitating about any of these blasphemies. The prophets never commit large sins or small sins that indicate meanness, such as stealing a grape. They are truthful about everything they say about this life and the next, as well as about what happened in the past. The best human beings are the Prophets (may Allah increase their honor), and the best Prophet is our beloved prophet Muhammad.

A prophet supports his claim of prophethood by miracles. A miracle is an (1) extraordinary event that (2) happens in support of a Prophet’s claim to Prophethood. It cannot be duplicated by his opponents. Prophet Muhammad claimed prophethood and taught that the Quran would never be perverted; 1400 years later there is still only one version of the Quran. For a book to remain preserved for that long is extraordinary, even without the assertion of it being protected by the Creator. The Prophet also taught that no one would ever be able to compose something as eloquent as even the shortest of its suurahs (no more than a single line of writing). No one has ever met this challenge, even among the eloquent Arabs of the Prophet’s time; this is why they chose to fight him instead.

Believing in Prophet Muhammad entails believing in his teachings. Among these are what is to come in the future, such as: torture in the grave for non-Muslims and sinful Muslims; pleasure in the grave for good Muslims; the questioning of two Angels in the grave (except for Prophets, martyrs, and children); the Resurrection of all people, Jinn and animals from their graves; the gathering of all people on the Plain on the Day of Judgment; the weighing of deeds on the Scale with pans and a fulcrum; the Bridge which connects the Plain to Paradise and extends over Hell; the endless suffering of non-Muslims in Hell because they did not believe in Islam; the temporary suffering in Hell for Muslims that Allah did not forgive; the Basins from which the followers of each particular Prophet will drink and quench their thirst forever before entering Paradise; the intercession of prophets, angels and great Muslims (by the Will of Allah) by which some Muslims benefit by being forgiven or suffering less; everlasting pleasure of the body and soul in Paradise. The Day of Judgment begins with the resurrection and ends when all those who will be in Heaven for eternity are in Heaven, and all those who will be in Hell for eternity are in Hell. The greatest pleasure in Heaven will be to see Allah without Him being in a place, direction, at a distance or having a shape (this cannot be imagined, because it is not seeing as we know it). All Muslims will eventually enter Paradise and remain there forever, but some will go to Hell before entering it.

Muslims are further required to believe that Angels are beings Allah created from light to worship Him, are completely obedient to Him, and never sin; Angels are neither male nor female, and they do not eat, sleep or drink. Another teaching of the Prophet that Muslims must believe is that all things both good and evil happen according to God’s will.

Obligatory Practices that all Muslims must believe in include the five daily prayers that must be prayed within their specified times; fasting in Ramadan; paying Zakat alms to eligible Muslims as prescribed; and performing the Hajj Pilgrimage to Makkah if able.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


The Islamic Belief in God: an explanation to fresh converts and non-Muslims

June 27, 2008

The utterance “Allah” in Arabic means “the one who is attributed with Godhood,” which is the power to create. To create means to bring something into existence. Everything that has a beginning, whether a physical object, an action, a thought, or anything else must be brought into existence and is therefore a creation. No one and nothing has the power to create except Allah, and everything else is His creation. He alone exists without a beginning or end, and everything else is created and sustained by Him. Therefore, only He deserves to be worshiped. He does not need anything, but everything in existence needs Him

With this understanding, it is perfectly acceptable to use the word “God” in English referring to Allah. However, it is important to understand that when Muslims refer to “God” as “He,” they do not mean that He has gender. God is not male, female or neuter, as He is not a creature or an object. He is attributed only with complete perfection, and is clear of created attributes, such as having children, a partner, a rival or a wife. 

The attributes of the Creator do not resemble the attributes of the created, because His attributes are without a beginning or an end. He is not limited by time or space; He is their Creator and all that exist in them including light, darkness, cold, heat, nature, atoms, color, good and evil. Our imaginations are limited, so we cannot imagine Him. That is why Muslims say: “God is different from whatever you imagine in your mind.” 

Muslims believe that Allah has the attribute of absolute oneness; he does not have a partner, equal or part. No one has an attribute that resembles any of His attributes. Idol worshipers believe God has a partner or a counterpart. This cannot be true because if one wants one thing and the other something else, then the one that did not get what he wanted cannot be God since he was defeated. 

As for those who believe that God has parts, such as the Christians who believe in the trinity, they must also be wrong, because parts need each other to form a united whole, and whatever needs cannot be God. In addition, one of the obvious proofs of the Creator’s existence is the existence of this universe. Whenever we see something composed from parts, we say: “someone has put it there.” For example, when you see a car, you know that this car has a beginning; someone put it where it is now. If this is true for a simple car, then what about the entire universe? If one accepts this argument, then one must also accept that God is free of the attributes that makes one say “someone must have put it there”, such as weight, volume, length, width, shapes, limits, boundaries, composition, physical movement, physical distance and physical direction. In other words, you must accept that God does not resemble His creation. This is what Muslims mean when they say, “He has no equal,” i.e. nothing resembles Him

Muslims believe that God is attributed with perfect and limitless life, sight, hearing, speech and knowing, because death, blindness, deafness, dumbness, and ignorance are weaknesses. However, His life, sight, hearing, speech and knowing do not resemble ours; the words are the same, but the meanings are completely different. For example, God’s attributes have nothing to do with instruments, such as a body, a soul, an eye, an ear, a mouth, a language or a brain. Rather, they are perfect attributes of God that have no beginning, no end, no sequence and do not change. 

In addition to the above, it is clear that God specifies the things that exist and their characteristics, and that He brings them into existence. We must conclude then, that He is attributed with will and power. His attributes of will and power do not have a beginning or an end and they do not change, as is true for all God’s attributes. 

In the above, we have mentioned some of what Muslims must know and believe in regarding the Creator. However, God’s attributes are not limited, because God cannot be limited, bounded or deficient in any way.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


The Rise Of The Four Schools of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence)

June 25, 2008

The sources of Islamic Jurisprudence are the Quran and hadiths, along with scholarly consensus (which is based on the first two.) To issue a ruling based on them, a scholar is needed to tell whether a question has been answered unequivocally by these sources, and to issue a verdict based on similar cases if it hasn’t. To do all this, he must have encyclopedic knowledge of the sciences of the Arabic language, the Quran, hadiths, and sayings of previous scholars along with their reasoning. Finally, he must be very exacting, fearful of making a mistake, and have radiating intelligence.

A scholar of this rank, called a mujtahid, is very rare. Moreover, because of the gravity of the task, the early generations of Muslims were extremely particular about the qualifications of such scholars. Even among the Companions of the Prophet themselves, only around ten to thirty were mujtahids.

If it was recognized among the early generations that a person was a mujtahid, he would naturally attract many students. Over time, however, students of four scholars in particular, those of Abu Hanifah, Malik, Al Shafi’i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal became very many. This was because they were the top scholars of their times; they mastered the Quran and hadiths more than others. Their proofs and reasoning for their verdicts were impeccable.

Their top students, some of whom were mujtahids themselves, narrated their sayings and reasoning to the next generation, and answered new questions based on the methodology of the founder. They would also weed out weak verdicts of the founder, if they were convinced that he would have changed his verdict based on what they had of proofs. This process continued from generation to generation. Passing through the hands of their scholars, the four schools became highly developed and documented; they had authenticated verdicts for most issues one would encounter, and sophisticated and comprehensive reasoning in terms of the Quran and hadiths.

Eventually all students of jurisprudence would learn through these schools, because they became the most effective and reliable way of learning the teachings of the Prophet. Moreover, caution dictates that one should go by the verdicts that thousands of experts on Quran and hadiths had scrutinized and accepted over hundreds of years within these schools.

Adherence to these schools preserves the unity of Muslims by preventing too many scattered and weak opinions, or impostors from claiming to be mujtahids. They have now been evaluated and tested for more than 1100 years since their establishment. This means that the remaining differences of opinion between these schools exist for very good reasons; the right answer cannot be known with complete certainty.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


What Happens When One Makes Unambiguous Kufr Statements Without Attributing Them To Someone Else…

June 24, 2008

Muhammad ibn Al Hasan Al Shaybaani, the mujtahid scholar and companion of Abu Hanifah, said in his “As Siyar Al Kabir” (which is one of the 6 highly authenticated books called Thahir al Riwayah in the Hanafi school): “If a woman said to the judge, “Verily I heard my husband say, ‘The Messiah is the son of God’,” and the husband said, “I only meant to narrate what the people who say this say” but admitted that he had not said anything else, (such as ‘they say’, or the christians say) then his wife is separated from him.” (Sharh Al Siyar Al Kabir 5/2024 #4063)

In other words, the man has fallen out of Islam, so his wife is no longer his wife. This is because a person who willingly says a kufr statement without relating it to someone else falls out of Islam. The scholars understood this from several proofs, among them:

Allah said in the Qur’aan:

“مَنْ كَفَرَ بِاللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِهِ إِلاّ مَنْ أُكْرِهَ وَقَلْبُهُ مُطْمَئِنٌّ بِالإِيمَانِ وَلَكِنْ مَنْ شَرَحَ بِالْكُفْرِ صَدْرًا فَعَلَيْهِمْ غَضَبٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ”

This might be translated in meaning as: “Whoever blasphemed after believing – except the one that was forced to do so and his heart was firm in belief, not the one who accepted the act of blasphemy – Allah has willed punishment for them and they will will be put under a tremendous torture.” (An-Nahl,106)

Note that the compulsion meant in this aayah is the threat of losing one’s life or a limb if one does not do or say something kufr. A slight beating or losing property does not count as compulsion in this case.

Note also that the aayah exempted only the one that was forced to blaspheme and his heart was firm in belief….” it did not exempt the one that was not forced to blaspheme and his heart was firm in belief. In other words, the act of blasphemy was named blasphemy, despite the heart being firm in belief. This means it is possible to commit blasphemy by actions other than those of the heart, namely acts of the body and the tongue.

To clarify further, the one that says kufr while under compulsion to do so, does not fall out of Islam, provided that he rejected it in the heart before, after and during the kufr act or saying. This is the only case Allah exempted, so in all other cases the person falls out of Islam by saying kufr (such as saying that Allah is limited) or doing kufr (such as stepping on the Quran). These cases are:

  1. Commiting kufr by an act or a statement while not under compulsion to do so, and rejecting the kufr in the heart.

  2. Accepting to say or do kufr in the heart, whether one is under compulsion or not.

Accepting a kufr belief in his heart comes in addition to these as being kufr without exception.

Another proof is that Allah said in the Qur’aan:

“وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّمَا كُنَّا نَخُوضُ وَنَلْعَبُ قُلْ أَبِاللَّهِ وَآَيَاتِهِ وَرَسُولِهِ كُنْتُمْ تَسْتَهْزِئُونَ ¤ لا تَعْتَذِرُوا قَدْ كَفَرْتُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ”

Meaning: “And if you ask them, they will say ‘We were only talking idly and joking around. Say <O Muhammad> ‘Were you mocking Allah, His signs <proofs, aayah’s of the Quran etc.> and His Messenger? Do not make excuses for yourselves, you have committed blasphemy after believing.” (At-Tawbah, 65-66)

The great Hadith Master and Maliki scholar Ibn Al Arabi commented on the above statement in the Quran saying: “What those people said was either in seriousness or without being serious (not meaning it), and it is in any case blasphemy, because to say something that you understand a blasphemous meaning from is kufr, even if you do not mean it.” (Tafsir Al Qurtubi 8/197).

Another proof is that Allah gave us the judgment in the Quran that those that say that God is three, or Jesus is the son of God, or Jesus is God are blasphemers. This is without regard to what they intend to mean; they commit blasphemy merely by saying that. Allah said:

“وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُمْ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ”

Which might be translated to mean: “The Jews said: “`Uzayr is the son of God,” and the Christians said “the Messiah is the son of God.” This is what they say by their tongues. Their saying is like that of those who blasphemed anciently. Allah has cursed them. How extreme they are in their lies!” (Al Tawbah, 30)

Another proof is that Allah said in the Qur’aan:

“وَتَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِكُمْ مَا لَيْسَ لَكُمْ بِهِ عِلْمٌ وَتَحْسَبُونَهُ هَيِّناً وَهُوَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمٌ”

Meaning: “And you say by your mouths what you have no certain knowledge of, and you think it is a simple matter, while it is in Allah’s judgment gruesome.” (An-Nuur, 15)

Note, however, that the above is all if one said the words one uttered intentionally. If one had a slip of the tongue, in the sense that one wanted to say something, but said something else, then one is not accountable for those words. For example, if someone wanted to say “Muhammad is my prophet,” and instead said by a slip of the tongue “Muhammad, I am his prophet,” then he has not committed kufr. This is because we are only accountable for the words we intentionally say.

ولو أن امرأة قالت للقاضي : إني سمعت زوجي يقول : المسيح ابن الله ، وقال الزوج : إنما قلت ذلك حكاية عمن يقول هذا فإن أقر أنه لم يتكلم إلا بهذه الكلمة بانت منه امرأته

شرح كتاب السير الكبير ج 5 ص 2024

شرح السير الكبير ، اسم المؤلف: محمد بن الحسن الشيباني الوفاة: 198هـ ، دار النشر : معهد المخطوطات – القاهرة – – ، الطبعة : – ، تحقيق : د. صلاح الدين المنجد

قال القاضي أبو بكر بن العربي : لا يخلو أن يكون ما قالوه من ذلك جدا أو هزلا وهو كيفما كان كفر فإن الهزل بالكفر كفر لا خلاف فيه بين الأمة (تفسير القرطبي ج 8 ص 197)

الجامع لأحكام القرآن ، اسم المؤلف: أبو عبد الله محمد بن أحمد الأنصاري القرطبي الوفاة: 671 ، دار النشر : دار الشعب – القاهرة

 

References:

-Shams al Din As-Sarkhasi. Sharh Al Siyar Al Kabir. 5 vols. Cairo, Egypt: Daar Al Makhtutat.

-Al-Qurtubi (671 AH). Tafsir Al Qurtubi. 20 vols. Cairo, Egypt: Daar Al Sha`b.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Responding to Atheists – A Collection of Posts & Comments

June 23, 2008

as salam `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Recently, (perhaps due to the “Foundations of the Religion” article) there was a heavy influx of atheists to the blog and various comments made by them. We made several posts dealing with several atheist claims and assertions, as well as some very useful responses to them in the comments. Hereunder, I have gathered all the posts related to atheists contentions, so that one can find them easily, bi idhnillah.

The Foundations of the Religion – If an atheist 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.

Someone Asked, “Is there a place for human accountability in Islamic beliefs?” – This is the age old free will versus predestination type argument that atheists try to use against religious folk. If they can’t attack the existence of God, they tackles this aspect next. Suffices to say that unless they can’t accept the completely rational arguments presented in the link above, then they will not likely get this either.

Someone Asked, “How do random things relate to the existence of God?”

Randomness and Infinity

Someone Asked, “Is Islam falsifiable?”

The above three links deal with science and religion.

Deviant Contention: Is there a flaw in the proof for the existence of Allah? – This was someone who apparently attempted to find a flaw in the negation of the infinite regression. A background in potential and actual infinities would be helpful in understanding this.

Someone asked, “If God is perfect, then why certain things, for example, the eye, imperfect?” – Apparently an attack on the argument by design.

Moderating Idiocy – A detailed account of some verbal atheistic acrobatics.

Some comments made on this blog that may help deal with this “complex stupidity” that we call atheism:

On Free Will & Predestination

On Atheist Acrobatics

On Beginning with an Unfounded Premise

There are probably more comments littered across the blog. Be sure to read thoroughly.

jazak allahu khayran

Ibn Mazhar