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

January 24, 2010

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.

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Darwinism in the eye of the mind

October 6, 2009

I have received many requests for writing something about Darwinism since starting Sunnianswers. I never felt I should need to do that, because it should not be that difficult. I always felt no threat from a theory that is so weak that, in my view, it can be ignored from the outset. I did feel, however, that a lot of what is written, from occasional browsing on the internet, misses the point. This is not strange, perhaps, because most of what is there is written by anthropomorphists, that is, the so called creationists, and they cannot go to a level where they will be shooting themselves in the foot. It is just one kaafir arguing with another kaafir about what kind of kufr they should be doing.

The following is a brief synopsis of why Darwinism does not deserve a Muslim’s second look. It is not the usual yada yada about bones in strange places in Africa and who it belonged to, or when, or if when. It is about the approach to evidences and how to get to the truth. It is not new either, it is just the answer that the scholars of Islam would have answered, the Sunnis, if they were still around in significant numbers.

Subĥaana Aļļaah, the closest I have seen to what I am about to do was the last Mufti of the Ottoman empire, Sħaykħ Al-Islam, Muşţafaa Şabriyy. A brilliant scholar, as he had to be to get to where he was, he saw through Muhammad Abduh, and the wahabi movements, and their attacks on kalaam science. They were nothing but, knowingly or unknowingly, servants of imperialist interests. They were there to crush the fortresses of Islam: the Asħˆariyy/ Maaturiidiyy school, and the four schools of Islamic Law that kept Sunnism on top, and the Muslims gathered. A very well studied plan based on decades of orientalist studies for the age old strategy of split and rule. Reason was replaced by idiotic anthropomorphism, literalism and nationalism. This is why we have today all sects raising their banners, and an enormous mess on our hands, not to mention ignorance about basics of Islam itself in Muslim communities, but this is what Aļļaah has willed. This is all, as they say, history, and every man is responsible for himself alone in the end. No use crying over spilled milk.

To begin with I want to make it abundantly clear that the idea of one species developing into another is not problematic in Islam. This has nothing to do with religion. There is only one point that is problematic: the idea that human kind descends from other species, in the Darwinist case, from apes. This is the only issue I am addressing. I don’t care what they said about other species. I will also not raise the issue of atheism in this article, in order to keep things focused.

Empiricism

Empiricism, the idea that one learns general principles, or universals, from scrupulous study of particulars, is a brilliant idea. It is so brilliant and so simple, that one wonders, why did I not think of that, or rather, why did it take so long for anyone to realize its power. There had been scholarship and philosophy and medicine for centuries, and it is not like they had no idea about it. In medicine they did use case studies and they were systematic, but they just did not develop and stick to the methodology in a highly systematic manner.

Then comes Francis Bacon (1561–1626), who was one of the leading figures to develop the philosophy of modern scientific methodology. Bacon gives preference to Democritus’ natural philosophy in contrast to the scholastic. He attacks Aristotle’s treatment of the syllogism[1] and says that there is “no finding without proof and no proof without finding.” This is modern science, and it is exactly what the Sunni scholars meant by their term “ordinary judgment.” That is, “ordinary judgment” is achieved by studying the relations between things in nature, and judging according to repetition, the relation assumed.

Bacon speaks of four idols that are productions of the human imagination that are nothing more than “untested generalities” (Malherbe, 1996, 80). The tribal are imaginary concepts about different perceived phenomena, such as the stars. Those of the cave are doctrines cherished without proof. Those of the market place are errors in communication due to lack of attention to the true meaning of those words, such as a word like “proof.” Those of the theater are those of dogmatic ideas and methodology defended by leaders and scholars and accepted without question.

Regarding his position on cosmology, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says:

In De Principiis atque Originibus,…. (Bacon says:) “the force implanted by God in these first particles (i.e. the smallest), form the multiplication thereof of all the variety of things proceeds and is made up” (Bacon, V [1889], 463). Similarly, in De Sapientia Veterum he attributes to this force (implanted by God in the atom as) an “appetite or instinct of primal matter; or to speak more plainly, the natural motion of the atom; which is indeed the original and unique force that constitutes and fashions all things out of matter” (Bacon, VI [1890], 729).[2]

Here Bacon loses his grip and accepts as an axiom what is just another of his idols. He makes this mistake, because he does not know the difference between necessary existence, possible existence and the impossible. It is strange that after 400 years the Darwinists are still making this very same mistake. This mistake was rejected by the Muslims, because they understood the difference between these three rational judgments. It is worthy of note that it was their religion that made the Muslims more open minded than these worldly philosophers of science.

Bacon fell in his own trap so to speak and worshiped the Idols of his own “Cave” by cherishing this doctrine, without possessing any evidence of its truth. Yet this mistake has no practical worldly consequence, and perhaps this is why he did not pay attention to it. For him it was perhaps like an overall working hypothesis. Wa laa quwwata illaa billaah.

Evidence in empiricism

Evidence is of different kinds. It can be of the kind that provides certain knowledge, such as the evidence that the world must have beginning and therefore a Creator. At the next level we have those that provide likelihood to the extent that you have no doubt, such as a famous ĥadiitħ that is widely known and accepted throughout history by the scholars, that has no anomalies in meaning or chain of narration. In science one deals, at the very best of times, at this level. That is why Hawkins states in his book “A brief History of Time”:

Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory. As philosopher of science Karl Popper has emphasized, a good theory is characterized by the fact that it makes a number of predictions that could in principle be disproved or falsified by observation. Each time new experiments are observed to agree with the predictions the theory survives, and our confidence in it is increased; but if ever a new observation is found to disagree, we have to abandon or modify the theory. At least that is what is supposed to happen, but you can always question the competence of the person who carried out the observation. In practice, what often happens is that a new theory is devised that is really an extension of the previous theory. For example, very accurate observations of the planet Mercury revealed a small difference between its motion and the predictions of Newton’s theory of gravity. Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted a slightly different motion from Newton’s theory. The fact that Einstein’s predictions matched what was seen, while Newton’s did not, was one of the crucial confirmations of the new theory. However, we still use Newton’s theory for all practical purposes because the difference between its predictions and those of general relativity is very small in the situations that we normally deal with. (Stephen Hawking, 1988, P. 8)

In general, the harder the science, the stronger the proofs can be, and the hardest of all is physics, followed by chemistry. At the other end of the bargain, we have areas of study that are merely trying to be sciences, in my opinion, such as economics.

These proofs study causal relations and the propositions they prove are causal, such as, “the heavier the object, the harder it falls.” The reason why the proofs are best in physics, is the fact that it is easier to repeat experiments in an identical and controlled manner to test a theory in physics. So by dropping objects of different weights over and over, we can verify that indeed, “the heavier it is, the harder it falls,” to the point at which we no longer doubt what to expect about the hardness of the fall of a particular object.

The weakness that is always present, however, is that this methodology, the methodology of the experimental sciences, is essentially fallacious. Why? Because it assumes that the future will be like the past, or the other item of a group of similar things will necessarily behave in the same manner. There are a lot of maybes left in that, such as, maybe we are missing something, maybe what we are observing is affected by something we are not observing, how can we assume that objects will behave according to the same rules tomorrow? …. and so on.

This problem is less in physics, because the objects studied are highly specified and isolated. In economics, on the other hand, it is hard to be specific or isolate anything at all, and one underlying factor is the notorious unpredictability of human behavior. Another not-so-scientific science is psychology, where one tries to study human behavior, but the results are meager, as any reasonable psychologist will admit – despite the efforts of B.F. Skinner. A human is far too complex to be observed in a satisfactory manner. For example, the human mind itself is completely unobservable, and yet it is a major factor of our behavior, perhaps the most important. Any experiment will lack in observability, isolatability and repeatability for testing a theory. Not the least because humans differ so much from person to person, to the extent that they react very differently even to chemicals they consume as medicine, let alone their social and natural environment. If it is something we can know, it is probably pointless, such as: fire on hand → ouch.

Proof and evidence in Islaam

Certitude: The proofs of pure rational judgment

Let us take a more complete look at what evidence is. We mentioned earlier that proofs provide different levels of certainty. The Islamic scholars already observed this long ago. As-Sanuusiyy said: “Know that the judgments of the intellect are limited to 3 categories:

1. what absolutely must be true,

2. what absolutely cannot be true, and

3. what may be true.}”

That is, if we propose something to be true, then our minds will judge that this is either absolutely necessary, absolutely impossible, or possibly true. For example, if someone said, “ˆUmar exists,” a listener would immediately consider this proposition as possible, without knowing more about this ˆUmar.

The judgment of the mind may be immediately obvious, or it may require some thinking. Note that these categories refer to purely intellectual judgments, regardless of any physical evidences or other information. These intellectual judgments are not the only sources of certitude of knowledge. There are two other related ways.

Certitude: The proofs of sensory observation and true information

First, we may gain certainty of knowledge through sound sensory organs by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching. For example, we become certain of our own existence and that of our families through our senses. In the case of the proposition “ˆUmar exists,” if we see this ˆUmar, he will be sure that indeed, ˆUmar exists.

Second, we may gain certitude about a fact by hearing about something from other people in a way that precludes the possibility of a mistake. For example, we are certain about the historical occurrence of World War II and the existence of Hitler, because we have received consistent information from masses of people about these facts. The way we received this information eliminates the possibility that they could all be mistaken, or have conspired to lie.

In short, the causes of certain knowledge for creations are three: sound senses, true information and the mind.

Likelihood: Normal possibility, impossibility and necessity

Now, science does not deal with certainties. It deals with what could possibly be true. Scientists do not care about whether ˆUmar exists. They are not interested in merely observing something obvious with their senses, which’s denial would be madness. They are interested in knowing what is not obvious. Perception is one thing, the conception of it is another, then the understanding of how it relates to other perceived and conventionalized phenomena is again quite another. For this reason, they study how different things correlate with one another, such as heaviness and hardness of fall.

If the correlation is 100% in many experiments, then we have the best scientific proof we could ever hope for, and yet, as Hawkins said, “No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory.” This is the meaning of likelihood.

The scholars of Islam, such as Al-Bayđaawiyy[3] (died 685 AH/ 1286 AD), recognized the weakness of correlation as a proof, and said:

“والدوران ضعيف” “correlation is weak (as a proof)[4].”

The reason is, as mentioned above, it is essentially fallacious as an argument, and therefore useless in belief related issues. Correlation then, is only used for practical matters from an Islamic viewpoint. For example, if the Prophet was observed doing or saying something in several similar situations, we would consider this as evidence for what we should do, but it is not a matter of belief.

Correlation can tell us something about likelihood, such as the likelihood of something heavier will fall harder than something lighter. The likelihood is a function of the correlation found in the causal relation studied, of the observability of the phenomena studied, and the isolatability and controllability of the phenomena under study from potentially influencing variables not being observed or measured. On top of that we need to be able to repeat identical experiments to verify further, and have a conviction that it is reasonable to look at the correlation being driven by a causal relation, and not something else. This involves subjective judgment of the scientist, and we will not get into the notion of “cause” in this article in any significant detail. In fact, observability, isolatability, controllability and repeatability all involve subjective judgment.

The strongest scientific proofs would be those that show normal impossibility, or normal necessity. Between those we have proofs for theories that make them range between likely true, maybe true, and not likely true. Pigs flying would be normally impossible, because it contradicts with the norms of gravity and aerodynamics. Likewise, fire normally necessitates heat. However, they are not impossible or necessary in the mind’s eye, because there is no logical contradiction in the idea of pigs flying or fire not giving heat. We just don’t expect anything else, because this is always, time and time again the norm. That is why Hawkins said what he said. As-Sanuusiyy (died 895 AH/1490 AD) stated with regard to what is normally necessary or normally impossible:

حقيقة الحكم العادي: هو إثبات الربط بين أمر وأمر، وجوداً وعدماً، بواسطة التكرر، مع صحة التخلف، وعدم تأثير أحدهما في الأمر ألبته[5].

“The meaning of ordinary judgment (as opposed the judgment of the mind’s eye alone): is to affirm true a link between something and something else in terms of existence and non-existence (such as if this then that, or if this then not that, and vice versa, e.g. if the weight is heavier then if falls harder) by means of repetition, with the remaining cognitive possibility of anomaly (i.e. deviance from that normal link), and without one of them affecting the other in actual reality.”[6]

His last statement, “without one of them affecting the other in actual reality” is a reference to the Muslim belief that nothing occurs other than by having been specified and created by Aļļaah. Arguably this statement does not need to be part of the definition, since it already said, “with the possibility of anomaly,” but As-Sanuusiyy mentioned it to protect people from misunderstanding him. This judgment differs from that of the mind in that it involves judgments on objects we observe, and from religious judgment, which involves those concerning prohibitions, obligations and the like, based on religious texts narrated to us.

Darwinist ape to human proposition in light of the judgment of the mind’s eye

Now, the science part of the theory of Darwinists that Islam has a problem with is their idea that Adam was a descendent from apes. Let us first take a look at how this idea fits into the judgment of the mind. Clearly, one cannot say it is impossible in the mind’s eye alone, the way 2+2=5 is impossible. One cannot say either that it must be true, and that there is no other alternative in the mind’s eye, like 2+2=4. Rather, without looking at religious evidences, one cannot but admit other than that it is rationally possible that humans descended from apes, that descended again from other species, and so on.

Darwinist ape to human proposition in light of the judgment of what is normal

We are dealing then, with a proposition that is possible, and is neither a necessity, nor an impossibility in the mind’s eye. This is verified by the fact that Aļļaah created monkeys out of some humans, which tells us that He certainly has the power to create humans from monkeys as well:

وَجَعَلَ مِنْهُمُ الْقِرَدَةَ وَالْخَنَازِيرَ [المائدة : 60]

Meaning: “and He made from them (a cursed group of people) apes and pigs.”

Again, this possibility is only without considering religious evidences. Indeed, the religious sources tell us that mankind was not created from apes, as we shall show later in this article.

Now, we have stated earlier that there are two other ways than pure reason to provide certainty of something being true or not. The first is sensory observation. The second is mass narration. Darwinists do not have sensory observation for how humans descended in history, nor do they have a mass narration from observers.

This means that they do not have, nor will they ever have proof for the theory that provides certainty of knowledge for their theory being true.

What they are left with is scientific proof. We have already observed that such proof is strongest in the hardest sciences, which achieve a high level of correlation, observability, isolatability, controllability and repeatability. The best of these proofs tell us that something is normally necessary, such as Gravity on Earth, or normally impossible, such as flying pigs. Yet, as we have repeatedly stated, the best of such proofs do no more than provide a high level of likelihood, and this is when there is extremely high correlation, and there was extremely high observability (i.e measurability), isolatability, controllability and repeatability, to bring reliable and valid results.

There is no hope for proving the ape proposition from a scientific viewpoint

Even at this level, in the ability to provide this sort of high quality scientific evidence, the Darwinist monkey hypothesis fails miserably. They always will. Why? Because if we were to use our imagination, then the best evidence they could ever hope to provide it to have a monkey give birth to a human in a lab.

I do not think anyone believes this will ever happen, but IF they did, they would have themselves a field day and probably consider it case closed. The problem, however, that this high-imagination lab result does not in fact prove their theory. Namely, that humans actually and historically descended from apes. Why? Because all it would show is that a human could possibly, according to the norms of the universe, or as they say: “scientific law,” descend from a monkey, not that human kind, as is, actually descended from apes. This is a matter of what actually happened in history, not what could have happened in history, and we already knew about this possibility in the mind’s eye already, so what would we have gained?

In short, the Darwinist theory is impossible to actually prove scientifically in the sense that medicine and engineering related sciences prove their theories.

Now, Darwinists are far away from even showing a possibility in light of the norms of the universe – how things normally correlate. The evidences they provide are circumstantial findings of dated ape and human bones, and we have all watched enough court case movies to know what the status of circumstantial evidence is as a proof: it does not even remove reasonable doubt. That is why there are still scientists around that do not buy into it. It is more a matter of group psychological dynamics and fashion that makes people buy into it than anything else. Scientific theories are in fashion, and religious explanations are out, driven by the remarkable success of science in engineering and medicine. Due to its success, everybody wants to be called a scientist, even economists and psychologists. Few are willing to sit back and take a hard look at what is a proof, what does it tell us and what makes science successful and why, and what are the requirements?

The problem is of course, that the success of science in technology is the success of experimental science, not of everything called science. So by merely being labeled a science, or scientific, does not mean it should be looked at with the level of respect that we have for physics and chemistry, or biochemistry. Darwinists are an example of even historians making a claim to the title of “scientist”, in an attempt to be associated with the modern understanding of the word – namely that of experimental science. That just does not work at all. I am being kind when I say that.

A look at the evidences that Darwinists show will lack severely in terms of high observability (i.e measurability), isolatability, controllability and repeatability. E.g. you will find sample size=1, repeatability=0, controllability =0, repeatability = 0.

An Islamic look at the ape proposition

So why do we as Muslims reject the possibility of Darwinists being right about humans descending from apes? The proof is complex, and comes back to proving correct the Muslim belief in Aļļaah, the belief in prophethood, the prophethood of Muĥammad (صل الله عليه وسلم) in particular, and the belief in the Qur’aan as an unperverted and revealed book[7], and that it is impossible that Aļļaah should lie, i.e. what He tells us must be true[8]. Why? Because our rejection of this part of Darwinism is based on the Quranic rejection, and the Qur’aan must be shown as a source of true information. As mentioned earlier, one of the sources of certain knowledge is true information, so we need to verify the Qur’aan as a source of true information, and that depends on all these premises. This, however, is beyond the scope of this article, but there are references in footnote 7 and 8 for those interested..

With regard to the Quranic rejection of the monkey theory, Aļļaah said:

فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ مُضْغَةٍ [الحج : 5]

Meaning: “For verily I created you (O Humans) from soil, then from a drop (of semen), then a blodcloth, then a lump of flesh.” This tells us that human kind is created from soil. Further to this, Aļļaah also said:

إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ [آل عمران : 59]

Meaning: “Verily the case of Jesus, to Aļļaah, is like that of Adam. He created him from soil.” This further verifies that humans are from soil, not apes, because Adam is the first human and the father of mankind, and it is stated that he was created from soil, not an ape. Aļļaah also said, removing all chances for any figurative interpretation:

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُمْ مِنْ طِينٍ لَازِبٍ [الصافات : 11]

Meaning: “Verily I created you from firm[9] clay.”[10] Clearly, no one can reasonably claim that what is meant by firm clay is a monkey.

Further to this, as mentioned earlier, Aļļaah did make some humans into monkeys after their transgression against His orders:

وَجَعَلَ مِنْهُمُ الْقِرَدَةَ وَالْخَنَازِيرَ [المائدة : 60]

Meaning: “and He made from them (a cursed group of people) apes and pigs.”

Being related to pigs and monkeys then, is a curse and a humiliation. This also tells us that Adam is not a descendant of an ape, because Aļļaah said:

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا [الإسراء : 70]

Meaning: “I have honored the sons of Adam (i.e human kind); provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors above a great part of creation.”

Then we have the ĥadiitħ of the Prophet, narrated by Abuu Dawuud and At-Tirmidħiyy:

الناس كلُّهم بنو آدَمَ، وآدمُ خُلِقَ من تراب[11]

“All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created from soil.”[12]

The Islamic textual sources are verily clear on the origin of humans then, and that it is not apes, and this proof is much, much stronger than the circumstantial evidences claimed by Darwinists to show otherwise.


[1]An argument the conclusion of which is supported by two premises, of which one (major premise) contains the term (major term) that is the predicate of the conclusion, and the other (minor premise) contains the term (minor term) that is the subject of the conclusion; common to both premises is a term (middle term) that is excluded from the conclusion. A typical form is “All A is C; all B is A; therefore all B is C.” (Random House, Inc. 2009.)

[2]“Francis Bacon (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy),” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/francis-bacon/.

[3]Az-Zirikliyy, Al-‘Aˆlaam (2002) (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar El-Ilm Lil-Malayeen, 1423), 4/110.

[4]ˆAliyy ibn ˆAbdulKaafii As-Subkiyy (1404 AH/ 1355 AD), Al-Ibhaaj Fii Sħarĥi-l-Minhaaj (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 1404), 1/146.

[5]قال السنوسيّ :حقيقة الحكم العادي: هو إثبات الربط بين أمر وأمر، وجوداً وعدماً، بواسطة التكرر، مع صحة التخلف، وعدم تأثير أحدهما في الأمر ألبته.( شرح المقدمات للسنوسيّ, مكتبة المعارف, 2009, ص. 68)

[6]Muĥammad ibn Yuusuf As-Sanuusiyy (896 AH), Sħarĥu-l-Muqaddimaat, 1st ed. (Maktabatu-l-Maˆaarif, 1420), 68.

[7]See “Foundations of the Religion” for this discussion at https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/the-foundations-of-the-religion/ or https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2009/08/02/foundations-of-the-religion-pdf/ and https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/05/24/is-there-a-flaw-in-the-proof-for-the-existence-of-Allah/

[8]See https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/refuting-the-accusation-that-asharis-consider-it-rationally-possible-for-allah-to-lie/ and https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/it-is-intrinsically-impossible-that-allaah-has-obligations-and-it-is-intrinsically-impossible-that-he-could-lie/ and https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/it-is-intrinsically-impossible-that-allaah-has-obligations-and-it-is-intrinsically-impossible-that-he-could-lie/

[9]مفردات ألفاظ القرآن ـ نسخة محققة – (2 / 337): اللازب: الثابت الشديد الثبوت. قال تعالى: {من طين لازب} [الصافات/ 11]

[10]Ar-Raagħib Al-‘Aşfahaaniyy, Mufradaatu-l-Qur’aan (Damascus, Syria: Daar Al-Qalam), 2/337.

[11]جامع الأصول – دار الفكر الخ – (10 / 617): 8215 – ( ت د ) أبو هريرة – رضي الله عنه – : أنَّ رسولَ الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال : «لَيَنْتَهِيَنَّ أقّوَام يفتخرون بآبائهم الذين ماتوا ، إنما هم فَحْمُ جهنم ، أو لَيَكُونُنَّ أَهّوَنَ على الله من الجِعْلان الذي يُدَهِدِهُ الخراءَ بأنفه ، إن الله تعالى قد أذَهب عنكم عُبيَّةَ الجاهلية ، وفخرها بالآباء ، إنما هُوَ مؤمِن تقي ، أو فاجِر شقي ، الناس كلُّهم بنو آدَمَ، وآدمُ خُلِقَ من تراب». أخرجه الترمذي ، وهو آخر حديث في كتابه ، وأخرجه أيضا مختصرا : أنَّ رسولَ الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال : «قد أذهب الله عنكم عُبيَّةَ الجاهلية ، وفخرها بالآباء ، مؤمن تقي وفاجر شقي الناس بنو آدمَ ، وآدمُ خُلِقَ من تراب».-[618]- وفي رواية أبي داود : «إنَّ الله قد أذهب عنكم عُبيَّةَ الجاهلية»… وذكر الرواية الأولى إلى قوله : «من تراب» ثم قال : «ليَدَعنَّ رجال فَخّرهم بأقوام»… وذكره ، وقال في آخره : «من الجعلان التي تدفع بأنفها النَّتَنَ».

[12]Ibn ‘Atħiir (606 AH), Jaamiˆi-l-‘Uşuul, ed. ˆAbdulQaadir Al-Arna’uuţ (Vol. 1-11) and Basħiir ˆUyuun (Vol. 12), 1st ed. (Beirut, Lebanon: Daar Al-Fikr, Maktabah Al-Hulawaaniyy, Maţbaˆah Al-Mallaaĥ, Maktabah Daar Al-Bayaan, 1969), 10/617.


Q & A: Someone asked, “Is Islam Falsifiable?”

May 28, 2008

An agnostic said: How can Islam make any scientific assertions, surely science is only needed on matters that are falsifiable. But if you say Islam makes statements about scientific phenomena, then you are saying that Islam is falsifiable? Am I right or wrong?

Answer: It is interesting that you assert that scientific questions are falsifiable, in the tradition of Karl Popper I presume. This pleases me, because the theory of man’s evolution (not all aspects of evolution) thus becomes non-scientific. After all, claimed historical events cannot be tested in a controlled experiment to see if they happened.

As for your question; the Quran contains statements that could be called “falsifiable,” and this is of utmost importance. Miracles, which are extraordinary events that happen in association with a claim of Prophethood, are sometimes based on falsifiable assertions that are extraordinarily proven to be true. The importance of miracles is that once the existence of the Creator is proven, and that nothing can happen but by His Will, miracles prove that a prophet has the Creator’s support in his claim of Prophethood. One example, is that the Quran has been preserved to the last letter, without any perversions or alterations for some 1400 years. This in itself is an extraordinary event, because no other book has been preserved in this way in human history. It is a miracle also, because the Prophet Muhammad affirmed by what was revealed to him that it would be preserved. Allah said in the Quran:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

Meaning: “Allah has revealed this remembrance that is the Quran, and He protects it.” (Al-Hijr, 9).

This is a miracle then, because this confirmation of preservation associated with the Prophet, stated in the Quran, matches this already extraordinary preservation of 1400 years.

Added to this preservation is the fact that the Quran challenges anybody who opposes Prophet Muhammad’s claim to Prophethood, to compose a Surah like any of its 114 Surahs. Allah said (Al-Baqarah, 23):

وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ

Meaning: “If you are in doubt about what Allah has revealed to the Prophet, then bring a Surah like any of its Surahs in eloquence, if you can, but you will not be able.”

This challenge came despite the fact that the shortest Surah in the Quran can be written on a single line on a piece of paper (Al-Kawtħar, 1-3):

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

Yet, nobody succeeded in meeting this challenge among the Arabs, despite the Arabs pride in eloquence at the time, and the widespread occurrence of poetry competitions between tribes and individuals. In fact, nobody during these 1400 years has met this challenge. Moreover, if the challenge had been met during his time, then Prophet Muhammad would have lost his support. Add to that the fact that Prophet Muhammad was unlettered and never took part in composing any poetry.

If you think about it, this miracle also proves that nothing happens except by Allah’s Will.

In addition, the Quran contains many statements about things the Prophet could not have known through ordinary means, such as the description of what would happen to the breathing of a person if lifted up into the atmosphere (Al-An`aam, 125):

فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلإِسْلامِ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ

Meaning: “Whoever Allah has willed to guide, He will open his heart to accept Islam, and whoever He has willed misguidance for, He will make his chest tight and narrow, as if he is ascending up in the sky.”

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji