Foundations of the religion in PDF

One of the most important readings on this website is the introductory article on how the religion of Islam agrees with sound reason.

Here is the article as a PDF download: The Foundations of the Religion

22 Responses to Foundations of the religion in PDF

  1. Salah K says:

    Salam Sheikh,

    I like the direction you have chosen to take… I agree that this is one of the most important reading materials on this website, as it answers many question that have been asked on here. I have an atheist father-in-law whom I will definitely be sending this article to in the near future Inshallah.

  2. Yahya says:

    Assalamu alaikum. Please, help me about some questions in islam. Sorry about my english, i´m from Brazil and not talk english. Brazil is a very salafi country and I can´t develop studies in islam with true masters. My question is about the nature of the human soul: is it imaterial, incorporeal for survive the death of the body (but finite being)? what´s it relation to body? I have the same question regarding the nature of angels jinns. Thank you.

    • Yahya,

      First of all, welcome to our site,

      You said:
      My question is about the nature of the human soul: is it imaterial, incorporeal for survive the death of the body (but finite being)? what´s it relation to body? I have the same question regarding the nature of angels jinns.

      Answer:
      You are not responsible for knowing about the soul. However, it is a light, invisible body attached to our bodies, as the Angel pulls it out at the time of our deaths. Angels and Jinn are light bodies.

      You put some other questions in another comment, I’ll just answer them here:
      Yahya, you said: Is correct saying that God does not resemble the world, but that the positive qualities of the world resemble Allah?

      Answer:
      Absolutely not. It is blasphemy to say that, or even doubt whether it is true or not. Someone who commits blasphemy must return to Islam by abandoning the blasphemous commited and saying the shahaadah (creedal statement) to enter Islam.

      Yahya, you said: Allah is in no sense a physical light, but if physical light does not tell us anything about the Divine Nature, it would be pointless to reveal to us that God is Light.

      Answer: Actually, it means that He is the Creator or guidance, or the Creator of light.

      Yahya, you said: The catechism of Fudali says: “Let us suppose that a temporal thing resembles God, that is to say that God is such that one could attribute to Him qualities that one also observes in temporal creatures: in this case, He too would have to have a temporal origin and consequently would need to have a Creator….”

      Answer: This is correct, because everything about something with a beginning has a beginning, and therefore needs a creator, as it did not previously exist.

      Yahya, you said: But it is as if one said: There is no resemblance between the moon and its reflection in water, because if there were a resemblance, the moon would have to be liquid like water!

      Answer: No, resemblance does not mean “equal to”, it means to be similar in some aspect or another. The image on the water looks like the moon, so it resembles it.

      Yahya, you said: Is it not correct to say that between Allah and the world, there is both resemblance and incomparability? In other way, all the atributes like power, will, sight, mercy, … are meaningless and incomprehensible.

      Answer: Absolutely not correct. We know that Allaah has power, because He brought the world into existence. So we know what Allaah can do, as we see the world around us that He created, but we do not know the reality of His attribute of power itself. We know that Allaah has a Will, because we He created the world and the world needs design or speficiation, as we can see. So He has a will, but the reality of this attribute itself is not conceivable. However, I can say something about what His Power and Will are NOT. For example, I can tell that they do not change or pass through time, and are not in a body, because such power or will needs a creator.

      Sight is an attribute I can affirm based on it being mentioned in the scriptures. I can understand that this contradicts blindness, but also that my attribute that contradicts blindness is something entirely different. So mine is in a body, through an instrument, it changes over time, it is sequential in perception etc., but Allaah’s sight is not like that.

      As for Mercy… once you realize that everything that happens in the world is by His will, you can tell that He gives mercy to some and not others in this world. As for the Hereafter, this is known by scriptures.

      The rule here is as always: Do not ponder about the Creator Himself, ponder about creation instead. Whatever enters your mind, Allaah is different from it. Do not delve on the matter of His attributes because it is a gateway to likening Allaah to His creation, which is kufr, and is what happened in this case.

      Abu Adam

  3. Yahya says:

    Assalamu alaicum. Thank you, cheikh Abu Adam. I understand the explanation about divine attributes. You are right. But about the soul (and the angels), you are saying that islam considers everything corporeal, except Allah? What about the human intellect and will? All this is bodies and material processes?

  4. Ahmad-Qadri says:

    Salam Alaikum

    It is very interesting to note that as science has progressed into quantum physics, it has observed that just about anything that exists in the universe, possesses the properties of both waves and *particles*.

    Those further interested on this can read up on the topics of wave-particle duality, scattering theory, the photoelectric effect and more.

    It basically states that even light and waves are actually composed of “matter” (ie BODIES) with physical properties.

    The sheikh’s statement that anything that exists is either a body, or exists within bodies is perfectly in tune with empirical observations of science too.

    In fact even our non-tangible attributes like anger, hate, sorrow, compassion, attraction, lust etc. are the results of processes that take place in matter, the chemicals in our bodies. They are all the result of biochemical and physical reactions and processes.

    Alhamdulillah for the baseerah of the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah.

  5. Yahya says:

    Hi mr. Ahmad Qadri. Thank you for your comment. But nobody doubts that light and waves are bodies or something in bodies, or that the sense organs, feelings and imagination of man and animals are material (otherwise we say that animals have souls that transcend the material world). But the human soul is different: he has the intellect and will. And the immortality preached by religions need the spirituality of the soul (because bodies are corruptible and divisible, while man is an identity, an individual, and survive the corruption of the body).

    • The corruption of the body is something Allaah creates in the body. Bodies in Paradise, as a case in point, do not degenerate. Intellect and will are things that exist in something other than them such as a body; there is no reason why they can’t exist in a body, or a soul that is a body.

  6. Yahya says:

    What I’m saying you can find in the book of “Kitab al-nafs wa’l-ruh wa sharh quwahuma” by Fakhraddin al-Razi (1149-1209) in Chapter IV that is entirely devoted to showing that the soul is not a body, or occupied space. I am not disputing the asharite theology, but showing questionable points in some theologians.

    • The idea of Al-Jawhar Al-Mujarrad, which is the idea of something intrinsically possible in existence in itself that is not in a location is a idea without a real proof. That is why the vast, vast majority denied its existence, just like you would deny there being a lake full of orange juice inside the moon with blue whales swimming in it — as it is a waste of time to discuss it. The idea of the soul not being a body is rejected, because if it was not, there would be nothing for the Angel of Death to pull out.

  7. Yahya says:

    Cheikh Abu Adam, congratulations for the text “Foundations of the religion”, this is a great example of philosophical reasoning collaborating with religion.

  8. Salah K says:

    Asalamu alaykum Sheikh,

    Above you wrote: ‘The idea of Al-Jawhar Al-Mujarrad, which is the idea of something intrinsically possible in existence in itself that is not in a location is a idea without a real proof. That is why the vast, vast majority denied its existence’.

    Can you please explain this further? I have heard about the Jawhar Al-Fard (the indivisible part & smallest creation), but never have I heard about the Jawhar Al-Mujarrad.

    • Existence is either said to be only possible or necessary or impossible. The necessarily existent is Allah; whereas the possibly existent is anything that could exist and depends on its existence on being created; this possibly existent is either going to be: The possible in existence is something that exists in itself or not.
      1.If it exists in itself (not in something else), then it is either going to be in a place or not.
      i.If it is not, then this is what is called the stripped essence (الجوهر المجرد), which was affirmed as existent by the Greek philosophers, but the vast majority of scholars denied its existence; as there is no proof of its existence. It is therefore as waste of time, like discussing if there are oceans full of blue whales inside the moon.
      ii.If it is in a place, it is called the indivisible particle Al-Jawhar Al-Fard (not to be confused with the atom because the atom is divisible into electrons, protons, etc…). What the two essences (as all essences) have in common is that they depend on others in their existence on someone else.
      2.What exists in something else; this is incidental characteristics (al-ˆarađ)

  9. Yahya says:

    But Fakhradin Al Razi said that the soul is not a body, and Al Ghazali that is indivisible (which makes it necessary that is not extended). Indivisible is necessary for the human person be an individual, not an aggregate of shares (even if kept on permanently.) Nor is there any proof that the soul is a body, even if it is a common idea. I will research more about the opinion of the sages. I found the arguments of Al Razi very good. Thanks for the help.

    • This issue is not a creedal one, and has no practical purpose, and it is irrelevant to the article to which these comments belong. The “proofs” on these matters amount to speculation. There are some 70 different sayings on this matter among different philosophers. One reason is the interchangeable meanings associated with words like, self, soul, mind and heart. Time is better spent on something else.

  10. tru_quran says:

    As salamu ‘alaykum Shaykh,

    Ok, I have moved this comment here because I accidentally posted it in another section.

    Someone said:

    For all its claims of using right reason to prove Muhammed is a prophet, the referenced article uses incorrect reasoning itself:

    Quote:
    “As for his miracles, they are many, but the most obvious is the Qur’an itself. The Qur’an 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. This is a miracle then, because this claim of future preservation associated with the Prophet Muhammad, stated in the Qur’an, matches this already extraordinary preservation of 1400 years.

    Added to this preservation is the fact that the Qur’an challenges anybody who opposes Prophet Muhammad’s claim to prophethood, to compose a Surahs like any of its 114 Surahs. Allah said (Al-Baqarah, 23): “If you are in doubt about what Allah has revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, then bring a Surah like any of its Surahs in eloquence, if you can, but you will not be able.”

    First of all, the Qur’an has not been “preserved to the last letter”. The discovery of the Yemeni Qur’an proved that it has not been so preserved.

    Second, the fact that I personally cannot produce eloquent poetry like that which is supposedly in the Qur’an proves nothing other than I cannot produce eloquent poetry. It proves nothing of the authenticity of the Qur’an.

    A simple example is The Iliad. The Iliad is a great epic poem much longer than the Qur’an, but my inability to produce a single page of similar quality is not proof that the Trojan War actually took place and that the Greek gods exist.

    Incorrect reasoning might have worked on seventh century tribes with limited or no education, but it cannot work today.

    Not that it will change your mind, but consider this

    Quote:
    Three things are absolutely essential for science, including modem sciences. One must understand that:

    a. The world exists independent of us and is orderly.
    b. We can understand it.
    c. We should have no aversion to observing and working with nature (in particular to do experiments).

    One of the most quoted verses of the Bible in the Catholic Middle Ages was: God ‘has ordered all things in measure, number and weight. As for items b and c above, Catholicism has always emphasized the dignity of the human person, which it attributes especially to man’s ability to reason and understand starting from nature; its sacramental system manifests its belief in the necessity of the physical for man.

    The historians R.R. Palmer and Colton make the comparison with the culture of Islam, for example, that finally decided it was not okay to analyze the world in rational terms. Use of reason and its effectiveness in understanding this world were ultimately against the cult(ure), for according to Islam, Allah is sovereign in a sense that excludes secondary causes; according to that culture, Allah’s activity is completely inscrutable to man. Palmer and Colton say:

    “If any historical generalization may be made safely, it may be safely said that any society that believes reason to threaten its foundations will suppress reason. [St.] Thomas’ doctrine … gave freedom to thinkers to go on thinking. Here Latin Christendom [Catholicism] may be contrasted with the Muslim world. It was ruled, in about the time of Thomas Aquinas, that… the Gate was closed. Arabic thought, so brilliant for several centuries, went into decline.” – Palmer and Colton, A History of the Modern World, page 38.

    Anthony Rizzi, The Science Before Science, page 187.

    So I find it strange the article talks about right reasoning when it uses wrong reasoning right from the get-go. And I haven’t even addressed how Muhammad contradicts himself.”

    How can we reply to this?

    • You should never argue with people who argue for the sake of argument. Prophetic miracles as a proof rest on a number of prerequisites. Without getting agreement on those first, you will never have a meaningful debate. Among those are the absolute certainty of:
      -Allaah’s existence,
      -that everything happens by His will and creating
      -that Allaah has no judge, and has the right to torture whomsoever he chooses and has no obligations
      -that what Muslims teach about Allaah’s attributes is the truth.

      In general, people who argue against the proofs of Islam are just being argumentative, and have no interest in getting to the truth. Arguing with them is pointless, and even harmful unless you are knowledgeable and experienced enough to force them into the corner and silence or embarrass them.

      Now, for example, the person saying this is a christian, and he is shooting himself in the foot, because what kind of proofs does he have for what he is saying about Jesus? None. This shows that he is just being argumentative, and the reason is that he is jealous, because deep inside is voice is telling him that his religion is less than baseless. However I will comment on what he said briefly:

      He said: First of all, the Qur’an has not been “preserved to the last letter”. The discovery of the Yemeni Qur’an proved that it has not been so preserved.

      Comment: No it doesn’t. The Qur’aan is mutawaatir, narrated from masses to masses from the beginning of Islam. It is an oral tradition from day one, and written copies are used as an aid only. What we have for the Yamani incident is a couple of bigoted heretics given access (one cannot help to wonder why they were chosen and accepted for this) to examine a set of manuscripts found in an old masjid. Those heretics claim they found differences from the Qur’aan everyone knows and memorizes today. Maybe, maybe not, but that does not prove anything at all, because the oral narration of the Qur’aan is the pillar of its narration, not manuscripts. The Muslim history of narration is one of collaborative mass narration from generation to generation from the very beginning. When the Prophet (صل الله عليه وسلم) passed away he had several thousand followers, and many of them had memorized the entire Quran, and as a group of individuals they had memorized the Qur’aan hundreds of times over. This mass narration is the one we have today, and anything that does not reach this level of solidity is simply rejected. Why? Because the Qu’raan was well known and taught in public everywhere already in the time of the Prophet himself, who encouraged his thousands of enthusiastic followers to spread, publicize and memorize every letter of it. Then this spread and enthusiasm only spread and continued from generation to generation. So the idea that an individual or a handful of individuals should know something of it that no one else did is rejected by default. In addition, the eloquence of the Qur’aan is greater than other things written or said in Arabic, which makes it recognizable and distinct. This adds to the preservation attained by the mass narration.

      As stated by Ibn Mubaarak: The isnad is part of the religion: had it not been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have said whatever he liked. Or in this regard: write whatever they liked. This is exactly what happened to christian scriptures. Since they rely on manuscript, inconsistencies in their manuscripts is a very real problem for them. It is not for Muslims, because we rely on mass narration, and a manuscript is just something written by someone somewhere.

      Now, who is he to talk about changed scripture anyway? A quick intro in biblical history leaves no doubt that they cannot be proven to be authentically narrated, let alone revealed. In short, why are you on the defense??

      He said: Second, the fact that I personally cannot produce eloquent poetry like that which is supposedly in the Qur’an proves nothing other than I cannot produce eloquent poetry. It proves nothing of the authenticity of the Qur’an.

      A simple example is The Iliad. The Iliad is a great epic poem much longer than the Qur’an, but my inability to produce a single page of similar quality is not proof that the Trojan War actually took place and that the Greek gods exist.

      Comment: I think you can tell that he is just being silly here, because there is no comparison between the challenge of the Qur’aan and what he claims. First of all the challenge is for all mankind, not one person, second the Illiad has no challenge, third, the Illiad is not inimitable.

      What happened with the Qur’aan is that it was a challenge to a people who prided themselves in eloquence, where poets and speakers were everywhere, where rivalry in eloquence was a daily part of their culture. The Qur’aan challenged these people to come up with anything like it in eloquence, but they failed, then anything like 10 of its suurahs, but again they failed, then like any 1 of its suurahs, some of which are just a few words, and once again they failed. All of the Arabs were faced with this challenge, and despite their enormous number, and their reputation for being the champions of eloquence, along with their extreme enmity to Islam and bigotry, they could not do it. This is very apparent, because they resorted to meeting the challenge of words with the blades of their swords, and putting their lives at stake. If they could have met the challenge with words, they certainly would have preferred that, and if they had met the challenge, then this would have been a known historical fact, because the motives to spread such news were and are still in abundance among non-Muslims. Accordingly, the lack of anyone ever meeting this challenge could not have been because they did not care about it, or that the news of it did not reach us.

      He said: Incorrect reasoning might have worked on seventh century tribes with limited or no education, but it cannot work today.

      Comment: here he shows his bigotry, and he is trying to make you angry so that he can play with you. The reasoning is not incorrect, and it is the same reasoning they use for their claims about Jesus, except that in their case, they just cannot prove with any certainty that he said he is the son of God. They say that since he performed miracles that no opponent could imitate or oppose, he must be right in his claim, which is the same reasoning used for prophethood. It is is just that in their case, the claim that these miracles are supposed to support did not happen, and cannot be proven to have happened. Jesus only claimed to be a prophet and not more. Even the miracles they claim cannot be proven to have happened through their narration of them, because they have no chain of narration. We muslims are actually the only ones that can prove them, through the words of our Prophet. Since they reject his prophethood, then are left without credible evidence to resort to. No wonder they are jealous.

      He said:
      Three things are absolutely essential for science, including modem sciences. One must understand that:
      a. The world exists independent of us and is orderly.
      b. We can understand it.
      c. We should have no aversion to observing and working with nature (in particular to do experiments).

      Comment: This is an incredible lie, along with what he said later. When did the Muslims ever deny any of that? It is the church that is famous for its opposition to science in their dark ages, not Islam. In fact, a number of scholars of belief in Islam said that belief without any thinking and proof to back it up is invalid, and that a person with such a belief is a heretic!

      • Muslim says:

        Al-Naruiji said :
        In fact, a number of scholars of belief in Islam said that belief without any thinking and proof to back it up is invalid, and that a person with such a belief is a heretic.

        Comment:
        What I know is that it’s an obligation to know a proof of Allah’s existence but it is not a condition to be muslim, unlike the mu^tazilah who said that the belief is valid only if you know a rational proof of Allah’s existence. What I know is that if a non-Muslim, sane and pubescent, hears the Chahadah and understands it, he is moukallaf even if he doesn’t know the proofs or details of Islam, and he has to convert. So what do you mean ?

      • Yes, such a person is mukallaf, and there is no disagreement between the scholars that he must immediately utter the shahaadatayn, and that in Islamic law he has all the obligations it entails to be mukallaf, and that hearing proofs is not a prerequisite. This is not the issue here.

        You are perhaps mixing this with whether the person is mukallaf to know Allaah, even if he never heard the call to Islam. Here the Muˆtazilah said yes, and most Sunnis no, but the Maaturiidiyys also said this – although they based it on different premises than those of the Muˆtazilah. The issue here is the persons belief correct, if it is without any proof, in Allaah’s judgment? In other words, is the belief correct by merely insisting on it being true, without actually knowing it is true through some proof? Here there is a wide range of sayings among the ‘Ashˆariyys based on all the aayahs of the Qur’aan that blames blind imitation.

        I.e. this is about whether the person is truly a believer in his heart or not, like the case of hypocrites, it is not about the dealings of Islamic law in this life. What is without question here is that such a person is sinful according to all, because his belief is extremely fragile.

        The correct opinion in this matter, and Aļļaah knows best, is that the person who firmly believes, without any doubt in his heart, is a true believer, however, it is an obligation for him to learn some proof for his belief according to his ability. That is, he is sinful if he does not.

  11. tru_quran says:

    As salamu ‘alaykum Shaykh,

    Barak’Allaahu feekum! Excellent reply!

    May Allaah Ta’ala increase you in beneficial ‘ilm.

  12. tru_quran says:

    As salamu ‘alaykum Shaykh Abu Adam,

    I asked my shaykh about the issue of a person being held responsible for accepting Islam after hearing the shadatayn ONLY. He said that this fatwa depends on the time. He said this because of the misconceptions and lies that are being spread about Islam that if some people heard the shahadatayn this would not clear their misunderstandings of the deen.

    For example,

    If a person gets dawah from an individual from the kaafir group, Nation of Islam, and he/she hears that they believe that the ‘mothership’ from outer space is suppose to come and save all people of color except for the white people and they reject this as being ludicrous, wouldn’t this lead them to leaving Islam altogether unless the CORRECT teaching of Islam reaches them?

    Jazak’Allaah khairan

    • Waˆalaykumussalaam,

      The creedal statement is enough. The creedal statement is a prerequisite for becoming accountable. It is like a wake up call, and that is why many scholars say that hearing about any past prophet is enough to become accountable, and based on that they affirmed the accountability of people in the Jaahiliyyah. To seek out the truth is the responsibility of that person, and he has no excuse if it was not served to him on a silver platter. In fact, Al-Maaturiidiyy said that hearing the creedal statement is not a condition for being accountable for believing in the One Creator that does not resemble created things.

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