What is the role of logic/manţiq in the Islamic sciences?

Manţiq, or logic, as studied in the Islamic sciences, is really about two things:

1. How to make a proper definition of a concept.

2. How to construct a sound proof or argument, and detect flaws in a faulty argument.

There is nothing mysterious about it. As such, logic is undeniably needed in all sciences, and most particularly in Kalaam. In Kalaam only the strongest proofs are of significance, so a good understanding of logical principles is needed to assess the strength of a proof.

In general, a solid modern education really teaches what logic was used for in the old days. Back then education relied mostly on memorization, so logic was needed to teach students how to think.

Today, however, most well educated people will be aware of what makes a solid definition, and how to detect flaws in an argument, especially if one has been exposed to Boolean Algebra. If you know how to construct a good search in Google, you know how to use logic. Yet to understand advanced books in kalaam and Uşuulu-l-Fiqh (how to derive Islamic judgments from the Qur’aan and ĥadiitħ), one needs to be familiar with the terminology of Islamic Logic, so it is important to read at least one book in this science.

By “Islamic Logic” I mean books on logic that have been purified from Greek theology and what relates to it. Beware that the criticism of some scholars against the study of logic is meant for logic mixed with Greek philosophy. After all, no one in their right mind will forbid studying how to make a definition or construct a sound proof.

One more thing: some people think that Aristotales invented logic and therefore that using it makes on a follower of his. This is nonsense, because humans have been using logic in all ages, or at least as long as they have been arguing, because they needed to be able to detect flaws in arguments and define concepts properly. All Aristotales did was codify the principles of logic so that it could be studied systematically.

20 Responses to What is the role of logic/manţiq in the Islamic sciences?

  1. Abu Abbas al-Ridawi says:

    Jazakamullah Sidi Abu Adam for this post.

    Could you direct to anywhere where I can find an easy to understand text (with the least possible jargon) on the science of mantiq?

    Wassalam

    abu abbas

  2. Abu Abdullah says:

    According to Shaykh GF Haddad, Hafiz Suyuti wrote a book called Sawn al-mantiq wa al-kalam `an fann al-mantiq wa al-kalam (“Manual of logic and dialectic theology”) in which he refutes, condemns, and considers Kalam and Mantiq as anti-islamic science. I have read this book. Can you please comment on it.

    • I think you can extrapolate what my answer would be based on what I said above as follows: “manţiq, or logic, as studied in the Islamic sciences, is really about two things: 1. How to make a proper definition of a concept. 2. How to construct a sound proof or argument, and detect flaws in a faulty argument.” As for kalaam, you can extrapolate it from what I said in Marşad (topic) 1: Preliminary Introductions to Kalaam Science, regarding the definition of Kalaam Science, which was “A science by which one is able to verify the truth of religious beliefs bringing proofs and refuting misconceptions. (Maw, 7).” It is self evident that none of this is haram, so a claim of otherwise is either based on a different definition, or stupidity, or even kufr, because it involves forbidding something that all Muslims know is at least allowed in Islam, regardless of what you call it. How can it be haram to learn how to define something or construct a sound proof? Or to verify one’s beliefs based on proofs?

      • Abu Abdullah says:

        brother abu adam, I have read the book of Hafiz Suyuti, the sufi shafi scholar, Sawn al-mantiq wa al-kalam `an fann al-mantiq wa al-kalam where in he quotes all the four imams ( Malik Shafi Abu Hanifa and ibn Hanbal ) who condemned and forbid ilm al kalaam then he quotes sufis and many scholars. then he proceeds to define logic mantaq and gives preference to naql vs aql. I am little confused, to your definition vs his definition ( which he backs up from the sayings of dozens of scholars )

        Please comment if this book is authentic or not.

      • Are you trying to convince me that learning how to define and construct a sound proof, or to learn proofs for the correctness of my religion is forbidden?

  3. Rashid says:

    Assalam u Alaikum,

    Ya Shaykh, so, Imam Suyyuti (Radiy Allahu Anhu) did not write this in his book?
    Or what he wrote was not what you mean by “Kalaam”? But this science is popular from quite a lot of time, so Imam Suyyuti (Radiy Allahu Anhu) must have known what we know by the definition of “Kalaam”.

    Wa-Salam

  4. Rashid says:

    Obviously not, I just wanted to clear the above-mentioned doubt.

    • Good. It should not cause you any doubt, because the issue is obvious, and after that it becomes an issue of trying to find a way out for Al-Suyuuţiyy, and not the other way around. It becomes a historical matter and one of his biography. That being said, As-Suyuuţiyy, although he is great in collecting all the possible chapters of just about any science, and what has been said in them, he is not famous for the exactness of the fuqahaa’ and the scholars of ‘uşuul, who see problems no one else see and solve them with impeccable insight and precise logic. He is mainly a narrator, and an astonishingly qualified one at that. In short, I think this book is an example of using a shovel when a brush should have been the tool of choice. The truth is that those who do not master kalaam or manţiq, yet try to judge these sciences will make ridiculous mistakes, such as mixing between scriptural, rational and normal judgments, just as an example. For the most part you’ll find that those who argue against these two sciences rely on the idea that the study of them leads some people astray. That is true, but Allaah said that some are lead astray by reading the Qur’aan, when they understand it wrongly. Examples are the khawaarij, and the Muˆtazilites and the anthropomorphists. إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَنْ يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَذَا مَثَلًا يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ [البقرة : 26]

      Clearly then, this is a non-argument, because it is not ĥaraam to study Qur’aan, because of its enormous benefits, and the need for it to be safe in the next life. Likewise, kalaam and logic are needed to protect the masses from the onslaught of kalaam and logical arguments used by deviants and non-Muslims to mislead Muslims. You need these sciences to protect the correct belief from the attacks it faces from deviant intellectuals and masters of rhetoric. Of course, sometimes, if a person has a deviant inclination, the effect of studying kalaam will be the opposite. He will be persuaded by deviant arguments, and fall astray, but this is not because of kalaam itself.

      As for the claim that the salaf did not study these sciences. This is not entirely true, but in any case, they used its fruits. I mean, they knew how to construct a sound argument, and they did argue against deviants with rational proofs. Al-Shaafiˆiyy for example, wrote against the Hindu philosophers who argued that prophethood is impossible. Moreover, Abu Ĥaniifah wrote books in kalaam such as al-Fiqh Al-Akbar, where he argued against the Muˆtazilites. See the beginning of https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2009/08/02/refuting-yaser-qadis-opposition-to-proving-Allaahs-existence/ for examples.

  5. Afreen says:

    “According to Shaykh GF Haddad, Hafiz Suyuti: refutes, condemns, and considers Kalam and Mantiq as anti-islamic science.”

    “…he quotes all the four imams ( Malik Shafi Abu Hanifa and ibn Hanbal ) who condemned and forbid ilm al kalaam then he quotes sufis and many scholars. then he proceeds to define logic mantaq and gives preference to naql vs aql.”

    Shaykh Abu Adam has already answered the above:

    “Beware that the criticism of some scholars against the study of logic is meant for logic mixed with Greek philosophy. After all, no one in their right mind will forbid studying how to make a definition or construct a sound proof.”

    I wonder which type of logic did Hafiz Suyuti and the four Imaams condemned and forbid:

    e.g

    Hazrat Jalal Uddin Rumi (RA) in his famous book, the Masnawi, included the verse, “The first person to use logic was Iblis (Shaytan), referring to Iblis’s refusal to prostrate before Adam (AS) because he was created from clay while Iblis was made of fire which he considered superior to clay.”
    Or
    Did they refute, condemn and consider “Kalam and Mantiq as anti-islamic science” which was used by the Angels?

    • The argument of ibliis is a fallacious one in logic, because it is based on false premises. First, he assumed that fire is better than soil. Second, he assumed that what comes from what is better of those two is necessarily better than what is created from the other. Both of these, especially the second, are baseless. So Ibliis used a logical construct based on false premises, or as they say, false analogy. Had he been logical, he would have investigated his premises as taught in logic, and found that the argument does not hold.

    • Mo says:

      Somebody once said to Imam Abu Hanifah (rah), “Stop using Qiyas (analogical reasoning), Satan was the first to rationalize!”

      Imam Abu Hanifah (rah) turned towards him and said:

      “O so-and-so, your argument is irrational because Satan rationalized to reject the order of Allah and became a kafir. My rationalization is to follow the commandments of Allah. This is because my Qiyas is based on the Quran, the Sunnah of the Blessed Prophet (saw), the Sahaba (rh) and Tabieen(rh). Thus, we are adherents of the Quran and Sunnah, how then can we be equal to the accursed Satan?

      The man replied, “I was mistaken, I repent to Allah. May Allah enlighten your heart as you enlightened mine.”

      (Found in Shari’ah and Tariqat: Inseparable and Indivisible
      By Shaikh-ul-Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariya Translated by Asim Ahmad)

  6. Ahmad-Qadri says:

    Salam Alaikum Sheikh

    What would be a good response to this argument by wahabis? The “meaning” of their message is roughly paraphrased here in my words based on multiple arguments with multiple wahabis:

    wahabi: Islam is based on naql from the Prophet not ‘aql of non-prophets. If Islam was based on logic, we would be wiping our hands under the socks, not above them, as Ali radi Allahu ‘anhu has said. If Islam was based on logic, women would be making up for prayers missed in their menstruation just like their fasts. The Prophet has told us to pray as we have seen him pray. We pray 5 times a day. Maybe your Ash’ari logic can tell us to pray 3 times or 7 times. We affirm the attributes mentioned in the Quran and hadith without using logic. We just say and do what the Prophet said and did, unlike you innovators.

    • I will publish a more detailed article on this, but for now:

      wahabi: Islam is based on naql from the Prophet not ‘aql of non-prophets.

      This is true, although one cannot follow prophets without using logic. One cannot even know that someone is a prophet without logic, or by scripture alone. One knows a person to be a prophet by his miracles:

      1. Allaah exists, because the world changes, so it has a beginning, so it must be created, so the creator exists.
      2. All possible things, things that could have a beginning, are created by Allaah, including actions.
      3. If someone claims prophethood, and shows an extraordinary event, and no opponent can stop this event or imitate it, then He has Allaah’s support in His claim, since no event can happen unless Allaah creates it.
      4. Our Master Muĥammad showed a miracle.
      5. Muĥammad is the prophet of Allaah.

      wahabi: If Islam was based on logic, we would be wiping our hands under the socks, not above them, as Ali radi Allahu ‘anhu has said. If Islam was based on logic, women would be making up for prayers missed in their menstruation just like their fasts. The Prophet has told us to pray as we have seen him pray. We pray 5 times a day. Maybe your Ash’ari logic can tell us to pray 3 times or 7 times. We affirm the attributes mentioned in the Quran and hadith without using logic. We just say and do what the Prophet said and did, unlike you innovators.

      We also just say and do what he did. The examples of socks, making up prayers, and the number of times to pray cannot be established except by scripture. The Ashˆariyys are the first to say that, because Allaah’s orders cannot be known without being told his orders. This guy is mixing “logic”, which is the art of knowing how to make a proper definition and construct a sound argument, with analogies based on false premises.

  7. Begging to Allaah says:

    Surely logic that can be denied but absolutely can’t be defied e.g. beginningless creation must be allowed in Islam.

  8. Salam Alaykum,

    I would like to know if there is any detailed proof for the rational possibility of miracles. I see many non-Muslims and even some Muslims, mixing up logical impossibilities (such as God becoming a human, etc.) with miracles (such as the splitting of the moon). So they say that if such a miracle is possible, then it should also be possible for God to become human, or any other logically inconsistent belief they my hold.

    So for this reason I wish to know if there is any detailed discussion concerning the rational possibility of miracles in spite of their normal non-occurence, or how the breaking of the law of cause and effect is different than claiming logical absurdities.

  9. Abul Hussain says:

    Br. Abu Adam, can you please explain why Ibn Hajar Asqalani al-Ashari rejected the idea of no taqlid in aqida ie., not to use logic when it comes to divine text.

    ى (( قال أصحابنا كل من اعتقد أركان الدين تقليدا فهذا غير مومن بالله و لا مطيع له بل هو كافر و منهم من قال لا يستحق اسم المؤمن بالله و لا مطيع بل هو كافر )) . أصول الدين 254-255

    طيب انا الان مقلدا للنبى صلى الله عليه وسلم فى أركان الدين و اعتقد ان اركان الدين يجب ان نقلد فيها النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم فما هو حكمى يا أشاعرة .

    يرد علينا بن حجر قائلا فى الفتح 13/354

    و العجب ممن اشترط ترك التقليد من أهل الكلام ينكرون التقليد و هم اول الداعين إليه .. فآل أمرهم الى تكفير من قلد الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم فى معرفة الله تعالى . و كفى بهذا ضلالا ، و يلزم من ذلك إلى القول بعدم ايمان أكثر المسلمين

    • NO Ashˆariyy says that imitating the Prophet Muhammad is blameworthy or not a requirement. They ALL say this is praiseworthy. However, this imitation MUST be based on the firm belief that he is indeed a prophet of the one and only Creator: Allaah. Al-ˆAsqalaaniyy is saying that if one firmly believes this, then more proofs will not bring anything new, so as long as this firm and correct belief is achieved, then this person is Muslim. If, on the other hand, he cannot achieve this firmness without proof then he must seek enough proof to establish that firmness. Al-ˆAsqalaaniyy is not alone in this, Ad-Dusuuqiyy attributes this to most Sunni scholars. (Sħarĥu ’Ummu-l-Baraahiin, 83) Actually, this issue is overblown. The Ashˆariyys that emphasized the need for proof simply say that there must me SOME proof, SOME reasoning, something like: “there is no way this world can exist without a creator.” It is hard to imagine a real person in this world with a firm belief that does not even have this sort of reasoning behind his faith. It is a hypothetical question about an imaginary situation. So at the end of the day there is no real or significant difference of opinion on this matter. The problem is if someone claims that all Muslims must have an elegantly constructed logical argument behind his faith. This is a wild exaggeration of the Muˆtazilah and that has been ascribed to Al-Isfaraayiiniyy among the Ashˆariyys, and Allaah knows best. The habit of the Ashˆariyys in their books, such as Al-Ghazaaliyy, and Al-ˆAsqalaaniyy, is to refute this incredibly weak view.

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