Against those who speak ill of Kalaam – based on Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Part 2

July 25, 2013

As for what is narrated from Al-Shafiˆiyy in blame of Kalaam, it is most likely, based on who he is and on his status, that he never said any of it. However, even if it is true, what he was referring to was some deviants in his time, because the science of Kalaam includes all of the different groups and sects. Indeed, Kalaam science began, was recorded in books, was studied and became part of the Sunni curriculum for the purpose of refuting the Muˆtazilites and other deviants….

Indeed, how would Al-Shafiˆiyy be against Kalaam as a science when he himself wrote the book “Kitab Al-Qiyas” in Kalaam science and wrote a book refuting the Brahmans (Indian philosophers)!? Likewise Abu Haniifah wrote books in Kalaam, such as “al-ˆAalim wa Al-Mutaˆallim” and “Al-Wasiyyah”. Further, Malik studied Kalaam for some 15 years … but he did not author books.

Moreover, Al-Shafiˆiyy founded the science of Foundations of Fiqh, which is strongly related Kalaam Science. After all, it needs to begin with abstract definition such as the meaning of “knowledge”, “will”, “speech”, details on the meaning of “order”, “forbidding”, etc. He would not object to Kalaam as a field of science when his own books are full of Kalaam topics!

Source: Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Ali ibn Ahmad As-Sabtiyy (614/1217), Maktabah Al-Thaqaafah Al-Deeniyah, 2008, p. 26-27

Against those who speak ill of Kalaam – based on Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Part 1

July 24, 2013

There are three types of people that are against the honorable science of Kalaam:  complete heretics, some deviant innovators, and imitators of literalists that associate themselves with Islam:

As for the heretics, one would expect nothing less from them, since they have no one to expose their blemishes and blind imitation of habits other than the specialists in Kalaam. Indeed, it has been said:

كل العداوات قد ترجى مودتها … إلا عداوة من عاداك في الدين

All enmities are hoped to turn to affections

Except the enmity of religious inclinations

As for the innovators, especially the Muˆtazilah and those who deny predestination, they did not generally reject Kalaam as a scientific field, but engaged in it. They were only against Sunni Kalaam.

As for the literalists, they are of three kinds:

1-         Those who say Kalaam has no basis in the religion because neither the Prophet nor the companions engaged in it. They also argue based on misguided interpretations of certain statements in the Qur’aan or in hadith narrations. This group (of literalists) is the most harmful to the common people among all groups against Sunni Kalaam. This is because they appear to (but not actually) find justification in the religion itself for their objections and convince people of their misguided interpretations.

2-         Those that believe that the science of Kalaam is the foundation of the religious sciences, but do not admit it because unlike some others they did not try to learn it, or tried but were unable to master it. Hence, they become against it out of arrogance and envy.

3-         Foolish imitators who follow one of the groups mentioned.

With regard to the first type of literalists, it is in fact known that there are no authentic narrations from the great scholars that attack or speak against this knowledge or science. And how can someone who claims to be a Muslim object to a science which:

  • Establishes and proves that Allaah is One and has attributes of complete perfection and refutes that Allaah has any flaws and declares Him clear of the wrong ideas that the deviants and blasphemers ascribe to Him?
  • Proves and affirms Prophethood based on miracles and on the same bases shows the difference between a prophet and a liar?
  • Establishes what an accountable person is accountable for, and when and how?

What trace of belief is left in someone who objects to this science and encourages people to avoid it?

Source: Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Ali ibn Ahmad As-Sabtiyy (614/1217), Maktabah Al-Thaqaafah Al-Deeniyah, 2008, p. 25-26

Deviant claims: most commoners are not ‘Asħˆariyys therefore Asħˆariyys are wrong

January 17, 2010

Clasping at straws after their self-inflicted humiliation described here, a wahabi says:

<< It is enough that the leaders of the Asħˆariyys admit that they have few followers and that the great majority disagrees with them to the extent that Ibn ˆAsaakir said in Tabyiin kadħib Al-Muftarii:

فإن قيل أن الجم الغفير في سائر الأزمان وأكثر العامة في جميع البلدان لا يقتدون بالأشعري ولا يقلدونه ولا يرون مذهبه ولا يعتقدونه وهم السواد الأعظم وسبيلهم السبيل الأقوم قيل لا عبرة بكثرة العوام ولا التفات إلى الجهال الغتام وإنما الإعتبار بأرباب العلم والاقتداء بأصحاب البصيرة والفهم وأولئك في أصحابه أكثر ممن سواهم ولهم الفضل والتقدم على من عداهم على ان الله عز وجل قال وَمَا آمَنَ مَعَهُ إِلاّ قَلِيلٌ وقال عز من قائل وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ

If it was claimed that the vast majority of people at all times, and most commoners (i.e. the unschooled) in all places do not follow Al-Asħˆariyy or imitate them, and do not share their views, or believe their beliefs, and this is the great majority, and their way is the straightest path, then the answer is: “the size of the amount of commoners and dumb does not matter. What matters is the leaders of the Islamic sciences, and following people with insight and understanding, and the companions of Al-‘Asħˆariyy are more than others among this kind of people. They are the people of superiority and precedence above all others. Moreover, Aļļaah (عز وجل) said:

وَمَا آمَنَ مَعَهُ إِلاَّ قَلِيلٌ [هود : 40]

Meaning: And only a few believed with him. (Huud, 40)

He (عز من قائل) also said:

وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ [سبأ : 13]

Meaning: Only a few of creation are thankful. (Saba’, 13) >>

Comment: In other words, Ibn ˆAsaakir is saying that the Qur’aan is explicit in stating that the majority of humans are deviants and disbelievers, so a larger number of average people is no proof of being right.

We can add some aayahs other than those mentioned by Ibn ˆAsaakir as follows:

وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ

Meaning: “but most people do not believe.” (Huud, 17)

وَمَا أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ

Meaning: “Most people, even if you struggle eagerly, are not believers.” (Yuusuf, 103)

وَإِنْ تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَنْ فِي الأرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ

Meaning: “If you obey most people on Earth they will make you deviate from the path of Aļļaah.” (Al-‘Anˆaam, 116)

So this Wahabi wants to follow the mass of commoners, because they are many, but as you can see from these aayahs, there is no proof in numbers alone. Quite the contrary. Moreover, he wants to do this instead of following the vast majority of leading scholars, even though Aļļaah says:

"إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ"

Meaning: "The only created beings that truly fear Aļļaah are the scholars." (Faaţir, 28)

There is still another point, which is that Ibn ˆAsaakir did not actually say that most commoners are in disagreement with Asħˆariyys. The Wahabi did not get this, because his ilk are the furthest away from understanding and reason. It was the person that argued with Ibn ˆAsaakir that said this. Let us reconstruct his argument as follows:

1. The majority of people is the correct fraction,

2. commoners are the majority,

3. commoners disagree with Al-‘Asħˆariyy,

4. therefore Al-‘Asħˆariyy is wrong.

If you review Ibn ˆAsaakir’s answer to this argument, you will notice that he did not address premise 3. He only addressed premise 1. Why? Because one only needs to show one of the premises of an argument wrong for it to fall apart, so there is no point in addressing the others. This is especially the case when the major premise is shown false, which is the case here. It is here also the premise that is most easily shown wrong, so it would be a waste of time to address any of the others, not the least because it makes no difference anymore whether it is right or wrong.

The ‘Simple’ Wahabi Belief II: Contradiction versus narration

February 9, 2009


This post requires some effort from the reader, but I think most people can understand it. If something is not clear, please let me know. This post is extremely important. It points out the essential difference between Sunnism and today’s main anthropomorphist sect, the wahabis, with regards to the attributes of the Creator. This essential difference is yet another self-contradiction, which consists of considering evidences that provide likelihood to be stronger than those that provide certainty.


Some time ago I put a short post called “the ‘simple wahabi belief” which stated as follows:

According to the Wahabies Allah is literally above the throne without ever leaving it, AND literally in the sky of the world in the last third of the night (i.e. always, because the Earth is round, so it is always the last third of the night somewhere.) Anyone see a problem here? Then they say it is blasphemy to say that Allah is inside His creation (even though the sky of the world is below the other six created skies above it)…. Then, seemingly just to add to this mess, some of them also say that He is literally in the seventh sky.

Not only that, they also say He is literally encompassing the world and yet they also say it is kufr to believe He is mixed with it. So in their belief, He is encompassing the world (thus a surface outside creation’s borders), and in the first Sky (deep inside creation, below 6 other skies), and yet it is kufr to say He is mixed with creation or enters it. Perhaps we could call this a “self defeating belief system?” It is certainly no different from the christian belief that 1=3.

On top of this they explain that this mess of contradictory statements represents the simple belief that human nature inclines towards, and is free of complications. Yet when you try to show the contradictions in what they are saying, they shout: “KALAM!! Why do you use your mind?? Why do you engage in Philosophy?! It is Bidˆah. If you do not find all this intuitive, then there is something wrong with your natural inclinations (Fitra)!”

What it boils down to then is that they are exactly like the christian priests who tell their followers, “do not mix faith with reason, follow your heart!” As the scholars say, “Blasphemy is one nation.”

One wahabi posted a comment engaging in a classic wahabi tactic for whenever they are put in the corner, as they were in this case; he tries to change the subject. In this case the main contention was that the Salaf went by the most obvious meaning of the scriptures, were against ta’wiil (interpretation beyond the most apparent meaning), and that is how the wahabis ended up accepting the abovementioned belief system. He did not address the contradictions themselves. This is my general response to that, and I’ll be addressing the wahabi as “you” and pointing out yet another contradiction:

The Wahabi contraction in their approach to proofs

We can discuss the sayings of the Salaf regarding figurative interpretation until we run out of ink, and turn blue ourselves, but we will not get anywhere. What I really want to know is, how is it that you accept to believe in self contradictory beliefs? And do not simply tell me, “because I follow the Salaf,” because if you accept to believe in self-contradictory beliefs, how can you claim to have knowledge of what the Salaf said?

The only way you can claim to know what the Salaf said is by narrations from them. These narrations provide you with information about events and sayings in the past that you claim to be true. You base this claim on the narration being şaĥiiĥ, or authentic, in your evaluation. Being authentic, however, logically means that it is most likely true that the narrators made no mistake or lied. This is the assessment of sound reason, the assessment of the mind’s eye, of an authentic narration, as stated by the scholars of ĥadiitħ science. This assessment is based on the fact that narrators are fallible human beings, and fallible human beings, even if trustworthy, might make mistakes.

The mind’s assessment of a self-contradiction, on the other hand, is that it certainly cannot be true. So if you understand a self-contradictory meaning from a narration, based on it being authentically narrated, and refuse to consider alternative meanings, then you have considered a proof that tells you something is most likely true (authentic narration), to be weightier than a proof showing that this something certainly must be untrue. You have thereby made high likelihood weightier (more likely) than certainty. This means you have invalidated the undeniable order of proofs that we know naturally (by the fiţrah created in us.) After this you no longer have the right to say, “this is a strong proof” or “this is a stronger proof,” including the proof of authentic narration, as you have declared yourself irrational. This is the essence of it, but a more detailed discussion follows immediately below.

Ranking Proofs according to the mind’s eye

Proofs in general are naturally classified in the mind’s eye in four basic categories:

1. Proofs that provide certainty that something is true.
2. Proofs that provide likelihood that something is true.
3. Proofs that provide likelihood that something is untrue.
4. Proofs that provide certainty that something is untrue.

Lets us call the fact we want to prove x. The first and fourth categories of proofs for x are rare. One usually only has such proofs when there is overwhelming information from the senses, or when saying other than x would lead to self contradictions, such as claiming the part of a whole is larger than its whole, or that something inside a thing is outside of it, or the like.

The Ranks of Narrated Information (hadiitħs and scholarly sayings)

With narrated information you usually have some, even slight, possibility of mistake in wording, which means that we are at best dealing with category 2 proofs with regards to the wording being exactly as stated originally. This includes almost all narrations from the prophet as well as the Salaf, because they are rarely, if ever, mutawaatir. A mutawaatir narration is a narration with tawaatur, which means it has been narrated from masses to masses in a way that precludes mistakes, or lies, in the mind’s eye. This is the way the Qur’aan has been narrated, but very little else. This is the only type of narrated information which’s wording would be supported by a category 1 proof and thereby known to be certainly correct (i.e. it would be certainly true that the wording is intact as originally stated).

Even in mutawaatir narrations, however, you could have several possibilities of meanings, because words can often mean more than one thing. Not the least in Arabic, in which it is normal for a word to have 10 meanings or more. This is the nature of narrated information. This means that with mutawaatir narrations we often only have strong category 2 proofs for the meaning of the narration being so and so. We would also get proofs that the meaning is most likely not so and so. Moreover, we would have plenty of proofs that it is certainly not so and so, because all interpretations that do not agree with the scope of the Arabic language are definitely wrong.

In light of all the above, when narrated information reaches us we first analyze the chain of narration. If the chain of narration is acceptable, because the narrators are trustworthy and most likely actually met, we can say that most likely the source of the narration did in fact say the words the narration claims and classify it as authentic. Then we look at the meaning. First we identify the most apparent meaning, the meaning that first comes to mind when we see the phrase. This is the understanding we should have in general, unless there is reason to think otherwise, because the basic rule of speech is to speak in literal terms, not figuratively. The literal meaning is therefore the most likely meaning at the outset, and we cannot incline towards figurative meanings without a proof. That is, the possibility of the literal meaning outweighs the possibility of a figurative meaning at the outset. However, if there is a proof for why it is not literally meant, then this may result in the probability of the figurative meaning being meant outweighing the probability of the literal meaning being meant.

Logically, it follows from this that a figurative interpretation is required whenever a narrated text’s literal meaning contradicts with another text’s literal meaning, or implies something that is absolutely impossible by leading to the affirmation of two or more contradicting ideas. In such cases figurative meanings must be interpreted, otherwise we would end up insulting the scriptures, by claiming that they contradict each other or contain contradictory ideas. After all, if two self contradictions can be true at the same time, then what proof is left that is strong enough to make something certainly untrue?

Yet you wahabis take no heed of this, you take this narrated information you have, assign to it a meaning based on your methodology, and then claim that your understanding is certain truth, without doubt in the mind’s eye, even if it implies something that the mind’s eye rejects absolutely. That is, when your methodology of going by the apparent provides you with self contradictory conclusions in terms of your beliefs, one of which absolutely must be false (because two contradictory ideas cannot be true at the same time), you still decide to accept both ideas. So what you have done then is to consider “most likely true” to outweigh “certainly impossible.” This is the source of the problem, not simply your understanding of ta’wiil versus no ta’wiil; that is just a symptom.

In other words, you claim impossible the possibility of you being wrong based on mere likelihood, then turn around and affirm as certainly true something that is actually impossible, even though this impossibility is not a matter of likelihood, but based on contradictions of terms.

In fact, you go beyond that when you have, in your view, authentic narration from a scholar of the Salaf that you claim supports your understanding of the scriptures. All you have in such a case is a high likelihood that the person said what the narration claims, with the possibility of it being mistakes or lies among narrators in the mind’s eye, because this possibility, however slight, is always present when you have no tawaatur (i.e. a mutawaatir narration, as explained above.) Figurative speech is also a possibility, because this is the nature of language and human communication. Moreover, when you are not dealing with the speech of the prophet, you need to add the possibilities of slips of the tongue, badly phrased ideas, and even plain mistakes in ideas or understanding of the religion. It is only a scholarly saying, and not a revealed scripture. Then you use these narrations to arrive at a methodology of understanding scriptures, and thereby at a self contradictory belief system that in the mind’s eye must be wrong. So you have accepted what must be wrong, in the mind’s eye, based on affirming as true something that could be wrong due to fallible narrators and scholars. This is the essential difference between you and us.

Let’s look at an example:

Wahabi says: If He says He decends to the first heaven, then we believe He has the ability to do so without indwelling or mixing within His creation because we believe in a being called Allah, unlike you heretics ….

Comment: If you believe this descent to mean physically moving from one higher location to a lower location, as you apparently do, because you reject ignorance of the meaning of descent (tafwiiđ) in this scripture, then you have said that He is mixing. Being present in the lowest sky means being below the others in one form or another, which implies mixing; there is no escape from that. You cannot escape from that just by denying the obvious.

You seem to think that this is about ability, but this is not the case. When we speak about being able to do something, let us call it ‘x’, then that ‘x’ has to be something that could be. Something with a real meaning. Words are not important, it is the meaning meant by the words that are. When you define the ‘x’ as moving from higher point ‘a’ to lower point ‘b’ without being inside ‘c’, when ‘a’ is inside ‘c’, then you have not defined ‘x’ meaningfully. Why? Because you have partially defined ‘x’ as being inside ‘c’ without being inside it. The being inside cancels out the not being inside and you are left with no meaning. In other words, the ‘x’ you proposed is nonsense, and has no real meaning. It is like saying, “the baker is able to make perfectly round donuts that are square.” This might fool a wahabi, because it is a grammatically sound statement, but it is actually meaningless, because something cannot be both circular and square.

Likewise, when it is stated in an authentic ĥadiitħ that Aļļaah “yanzil,” which you have translated as “descends,” then we have to look at the meaning of this yanzil in a way that is compatible with the belief that Aļļaah is not inside of or mixed with creation. This precludes what you call the “obvious” meaning for the reasons stated above, and we are left with the option to simply believe that this apparent meaning is not meant and go no further (tafwiiđ), or assign a meaning that agrees with Arabic according to the evidences at hand (ta’wiil). This is to avoid saying that the impossible (the contradiction in ‘x’) has become possibly or necessarily true.

Other examples of how ta’wiil must be employed to avoid implying that the scriptures contradict each other in meaning, or imply other self contraditions, are mentioned in these two articles:

Bodies have limits but not Allaah

Wahhabi Contention: How are “Ar Rahmanu `alal `arsh istawa” and “Laysaka mithlihi shay`” different?)

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