Friday, July 06, 2007

The Error in the Methodology of the Mutakallimīn (scholastics)

The following is a draft translation of a section from the Arabic book Shaksiyyah Islamiyyah (The Islamic Personality) by Sheikh Taqi ud-deen an-Nabhani Volume 1:

The Emergence of the Mutakallimīn and Their Approach

The Muslims believed in Islam with an imān that did not admit any doubt. Their belief was so strong that it had no trace of any questions that would indicate scepticism. Nor did they discuss the ayāt of the Qur’an except in a manner that would enable them to comprehend the reality of the thought therein. They did not inquire into the suppositions that might be drawn from it nor the logical [mantiqiyya] conclusions that may be deduced from it. They went to the world, carrying this Islamic Da’wah to all the people, fighting in its path, opening the cities, wa danat lahum us-shu’oob

The whole of the first century Hijri elapsed with the current of the Islamic Da’wah overwhelming everything that stood in its way; the Islamic thoughts were being given to the people as they had been received by the Muslims: with a brilliant understanding, a definitive faith and a surprisingly splendid awareness. Yet, the carrying of the Da’wah in the opened (conquered) lands led to an intellectual collision with the people of other religions [adyān] who had not yet embraced Islam as well as (some of) those who had entered its domain. This intellectual collision was strenuous. The people of other religions were acquainted with some philosophical thoughts and had certain viewpoints which they got from their religions and so they used stir skepticism and to debate with the Muslims over creedal points [aqa’id], because the basis of the Da’wah is built upon the aqeedah and the thoughts associated to it. So the Muslims sincerely wished well for (the success) the Islamic Daw’ah and argued with them in order to counter them. This led many of them to learn some philosophical thoughts in order to use these as a weapon against their adversaries. Over and above their sincerity in the carrying the Da’wah and the refutal of their adversaries’ arguments, this learning was jusitified to them and they were motivated towards it by two factors:

Firstly: the Noble Qur’an, besides its call for tauhīd and prophethood, tackled the more prominent sects and religions which were widespread at the time of the Prophet (saw); it countered them and refuted their advocacies. It dealt with shirk, in all its forms, and refuted it. There were amongst the mushrikīn those who took deified the planets and took them as associates to Allah; the Qur’an refuted their belief. Some of them advocated the worship of idols and made them into partners of Allah; it refuted this adovation. Some of them denied prophethood altogether; the Qur’an refuted their belief; some of them denied the prophethood of Muhammad and it refuted this belief. Some of them denied the gathering [hashr] and the calling to account [nashr]; the Qur’an refuted their belief. Some of them deified Jesus (as), or made him into the son of Allah; the Qur’an refuted this belief; and the Qur’an did not suffice with this: it ordered the Messenger (saw) to engage in debate with them:

وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ •
“…and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” (al-Nahl: 125),

وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ •
“…and dispute not with the People of the Book, except with that which is better” (al-‘Ankabūt: 46).

Further, the life of the Prophet had been a life of intellectual struggle with all of the kuffār: the mushrikīn and the People of the Book. Many incidents were reported about him in Makkah and Madinah in which he discussed with the kuffār and debated with them as individuals, groups, and delegations. This intellectual struggle which is prominent in the ayāt of the Qur’an and in the ahādith of the Messenger and in his conduct was read and heard by the Muslims; it was thus only natural for them to discuss with the people of other religions and to engage with them in an intellectual struggle and to debate with them. The ahkām of their religion call for such discussion; the nature of the Islamic Call - its clash with kufr - will not take course without the occurrence, between it and kufr, of such struggle, discussion and argumentation. As for that which makes the struggle take on an intellectual character, then the Qur’an itself calls for the use of the intellect, and it cites intellectual proof and sensory evidence. The call to its aqeedah is based exclusively on the mind, not on textual evidence. Thus it was inevitable for the debate and the struggle to take on an intellectual character and to be marked by the same.

Secondly: certain philosophical and theologial issues had leaked to the Muslims from the Nestorian Christians and their like, and the logic of Aristotle was known amongst the Muslims; some had become familiar with certain books of philosophy. Many books were translated from Greek into Syriac and then into Arabic; later, translation was made from Greek (directly) into Arabic. This supported the presence of philosophical thoughts. Some other religions, specifically Judiasm and Christianity, had resorted to Greek philosophy as a weapon and brought it into the (Muslim) lands. All of this generated philosophical thoughts, pushing the Muslims to study them.

Thus these two factors, the rules and thoughts of Islam concerning argumentation and the presence of philosophical thoughts, were the factors which pushed the Muslims to shift to intellectual discussions and philosophical thoughts, learning them and using them as material in their discussions and debates, and they justified this. Yet all of this was not a comprehensive philosophical study but merely a study of (some) philosophical thoughts to refute the Christians and Jews, because it would not have been possible for the Muslims to rebut except after they have familiarised themselves with the arguments of the Greek philosophers, especially those related to logic and theology. Because of this they were urged to be knowledgeable about foreign sects and their arguments and proofs. Thus the Muslim lands became a ground where all opinions and all religions were presented and debated. Undoubtedly, debate provokes pondering and thinking and gives rise to multiple issues that provoke contemplation and lead each group to adopt what it deems most correct. This debate and thinking was extremely instrumental in the emergence of people who took a new path/methodology in inquiry, argumentation and discussion. The philosophical thoughts which they had learnt influenced them greatly, in their method of proving and in some of their thoughts. As a result the science of ‘Ilm al-Kalām [Islamic Scholasticism] developed, becoming a specialised branch of knowledge, and there emerged in the Islamic Lands amongst the Muslims a group of Mutakallimīn [Scholastics].

Since these Mutakallimīn were essentially defending Islam, explaining it rules and, and elucidating the thoughts of the Qur’an, they were mostly influenced by the Qur’an, and the basis on which they built their discussion was the Qur’an. Yet, since they had learnt philosophy in order to defend the Qur’an and use it as a weapon against their adversaries, they evolved a particular methodology of inquiry, verification [taqrīr] and evidencing [tadlīl]; an approach which was different to the methodology of the Qur’an, the Hadīth and the Sahābah, and also different to the methodology of the Greek philosophers in their inquiry, verification and evidencing.

As for their divergence from the methodology of the Qur’an, then the Qur’an’s approach bases its call on an instinctive [fitrī] basis; it is based on this instinct [fitrah] and it addresses the people in a manner consistent with this fitrah. At the same time the Qur’an is based on the intellectual basis; it is based on the mind and addresses the intellects; the Exalted says,

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ لَن يَخْلُقُوا ذُبَاباً وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا لَهُ وَإِن يَسْلُبْهُمُ الذُّبَابُ شَيْئاً لَّا يَسْتَنقِذُوهُ مِنْهُ ضَعُفَ الطَّالِبُ وَالْمَطْلُوبُ•
“Those upon whom you call, besides Allah, cannot create a fly, (even) if they all came together for such! And if the fly should snatch away anything from them, they would have no power to realise it from it. Feeble are the seeker and the besought!” (al-Hajj: 73), and

فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ •خُلِقَ مِن مَّاء دَافِقٍ •يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ •
“Now let man but think: from what he was created! He was created from a drop, emitted, proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs” (al-Tāriq: 5-7), and

فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ إِلَى طَعَامِهِ •أَنَّا صَبَبْنَا الْمَاء صَبّاً •ثُمَّ شَقَقْنَا الْأَرْضَ شَقّاً •فَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا حَبّاً •وَعِنَباً وَقَضْباً •وَزَيْتُوناً وَنَخْلاً •وَحَدَائِقَ غُلْباً •وَفَاكِهَةً وَأَبّاً •
“Then let man look to his food: We pour forth water in abundance, and We split the earth in fragments, and produce therein corn, and grapes and nutritious plants, and olives and dates, and enclosed Gardens, dense with lofty trees, and fruits and fodder” (Abasa: 24-31), and

أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ •وَإِلَى السَّمَاء كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ •وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ •وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ •
“Do they then not look at the camels, how they are created? At the sky, how it is raised? At the mountains, how they are fixed firm? At the Earth, how it is spread?” (al-Ghāshiyah: 17-20), and

وَفِي أَنفُسِكُمْ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ•
“And in your own selves: will you not then see?” (al-Dhāriyāt: 21), and

أَمَّن يُجِيبُ الْمُضْطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ•
“Or, who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls on Him” (al-Naml: 62).

Thus does the approach of the Qur’an with regards to Allah’s Capability, Knowlegde, and Will run on the basis of the fitrah and the intellect. This approach is consistent with the fitrah and it generates a feeling within every human being to listen and respond to it; even an atheist comprehends it and succumbs to it. It is an approach that suits every human being, with no distinction between the elite and the commoner or between the educated and the uneducated.

Moreover, the mutashabih ayāt wherein is ambiguity [ijmāl] and in which there is lack of clarity for the reader, have come in the general form, without detail; they have come in the form of a general depiction of things or a reporting of realities wherein an lack of inquiry, thoroughness and substantiation is apparent. So the reader does not reject them nor does he truly comprehend the realities denoted by them beyond the denotations of the words therein. Therefore, the natural stance with regards to them is one of acceptance as is the case towards the depiction of any reality and the verification of any fact, without seeking effective causes [ta’līl] or substantiation [tadlīl]. Thus, certain ayāt depict one facet of the actions of man and in so doing indicate compulsion [jabr]; other ayāt depict other facets and in so doing indicate free choice [ikhtiyār]. Allah the Exalted says,

يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ..
“Allah intends for you facility; He does not intend for you difficulty,” (al-Baqarah: 185), and


“And Allah does not wish injustice for the servants” (Ghāfir: 31).

On the other hand, He also says,

“Those whom Allah intends to guide, He opens his breast to Islam; and those whom He intends to send astray, He makes his breast tight and constricted,” (al-An’ām: 125).

Other ayāt establish for Allah the Exalted a face and a hand and speak of Him as the Light of the Heavens and the Earth and state that He is in the Heavens:

“Do you feel secure that He Who is in Heaven will not cause you to be swallowed up by the earth when it shakes?”(al-Mulk: 16)

“And your Lord comes, and His angels, rank upon rank,” (al-Fajr: 22)

“But will abide (forever) the Face of your Lord,” (al-Rahmān: 27)

“Nay both His Hands are widely outstretched” (al-Mā’idah: 64).

Other ayāt establish his uniqueness [tanzīh]:

“There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him…” (al-Shūrā: 11)

“There is no secret counsel between three but He is the fourth of them, nor (between) five but He is the sixth of them, nor less than that nor more but He is with them wheresoever they are…” (al-Mujādalah: 7)

“Exalted is Allah above what they attribute to Him!” (al-An’ām: 100).

Thus certain ayāt came in the Qur’an which are seemingly contradictory. The Qur’an called such ayāt mutashabihāt (polysemous). Allah the Exalted says,

“…in it are verses decisive (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book; others are not readily intelligible,” (al-Imrān: 7).

When these ayāt were revealed, the Messenger conveyed them to the people and the Muslims memorised them by rote, they did not generate any discussion or debate. They did not see in these ayāt any contradictions that required reconcilation. They understood every ayah with reference to the aspect it came to describe or verify. Thus the ayāt were harmonious in reality and in their selves. They believed in them, trusted them and understood them in a general manner, and they sufficed themselves with this understanding; they regarded them as a description of reality or a reporting of facts. Many amogst the wise did not like the discussion concerning the details of the mutashabihāt and or the debate thereof. They thought that such discussion was of no beneift to Islam. The general understanding, to the extent one understands, would render the discussion of the details and elaborations unnecessary. Thus the Muslims comprehended the approach of the Qur’an and received its ayāt upon this approach throughout the era of the Messenger, and so did those who came after them until the entire first century Hijri had elapsed.

As for their divergence from the methodology of the philosophers, then the philosophers depended solely on syllogisms [barāhīn]; they evolved syllogisms in a logical form from a minor and major premise and a conclusion. They used terminology and jargon such as ‘essence’ and ‘accident’ and the like; they initiated intellectual problems upon which they built on the basis of logic, not on the basis of sense-perception or the reality.

As for the methodology of inquiry adopted by the Mutakallimīn, then it diverges from this. They believed in Allah, in His Messenger and in all that his Messenger came with; what they intended was to prove these beliefs through logical reasoning. They then intitiated inquiry into the recency [hudūth] of the world and to establish proof for the recency of things. They began to expand upon this, and thus new issues opened up before them; they pursued the discussion of these and their offshoots to their logical ends. So, they did not discuss the ayāt in order to understand them as was the approach of those who came before them and as is the purpose of the Qur’an, but they believed in those ayāt and then began to cite evidence for what they themselves understood from them. This is one of aspect from the aspects of the inquiry. As for the other aspect, it is with regards the mutashabihāt ayāt. The Mutakallimīn were not content to have imān in these ayāt in their generalised sense without detail. They collected the ayāt between which was apparent contradiction, after having pursued them, such as those related to compulsion and free choice and those which might indicate the incarnation [jismiyya] of Allah the Exalted. They focused their minds on them and were as presumptuous as none else. Their thinking led them an opinion on every issue. Once they had reached their opinion, they addressed the ayāt which seemed on the apparent to contradict their view and interpreted them away. Such interpretation of meaning [ta’wīl] to match their opinion was the primary characteristic of the Mutakallimīn. Thus if their inquiry led them to the conclusion that Allah is too sublime [munazzah] to be characterised with location and direction, they interpreated away the ayāt which indicate that He the Exalted is in the Heavens and interpreted away His establishing Himself on the Throne [al-istiwā alā ‘l-‘arsh]. If their discussion led them to the conclusion that the negation of the attribute of direction with regards to Allah entails that the eyes of people would be incapable of seeing Him, they interpretated away the reports related to the sighting of Allah by the people. Thus, interpreting the meaning to suit their opinion was a characteristic from amongst the characteristics of the Mutakallimīn and their major distinction from the previous generations [salaf].

This methodology of giving the intellect the freedom to inquire into every thing, the comprehensible and the incomprehensible, the natural and the supernatural, the sensorially perceviable and the sensorially imperceviable, inevitably makes the intellect the basis of (judging) the Qur’an, not the other way round. Thus it was natural for this approach of interpretation to emerge, and it was natural that they would take any direction they chose on the basis that, in their view, the intellect opted for it. This necessitated major discrepancies amongst them. Thus if the reasoning of one group led them to advocate free choice and to interpret away compulsion, the reasoning of others may well lead them to affirm compulsion and to interpret away the ayāt of free choice; it might lead others still to concile both opinions into a new opinion. All of the Mutakallimīn were prominently characterised with two things: first, dependence on logic and syllogization in their proofs, not on the sensorially accessible, and second, dependence on interpreting away the ayāt that contradicted the conclusions they had reached.

The Error in the Methodology of the Mutakallimīn

Upon surveying the methodology of the Mutakallimīn, it becomes evident that it is an incorrect methodology and that applying it does not lead to imān or the strengthening of imān. Applying it does not even lead to thinking or to the strengthening of thinking. It only leads to mere knowledge; and knowledge is different from imān and different from thinking. The error of this methodology is obvious from several directions:

Firstly: in this methodology, reliance in establishing proof is placed on the logical basis, not on the sensory basis. This is wrong because of two reasons. First that it makes the Muslim in need of learning the science of logic in order for him to be able to prove the existence of Allah; this means that those who are not acquainted with logic are incapable of proving the correctness of their aqeedah; it also means that the science of logic becomes, in relation to ‘Ilm al-Kalām, like the science of grammatical syntax in relation to the reading of Arabic after the Arabic tongue has deteriorated, although the science of logic is irrelevant to the aqeedah and is irrelevant to proof. Indeed at the advent of Islam the Muslims did not know the science of logic; they carried the message and established definitive evidence to their creeds without relying on the science of logic whatsoever. This proves that the science of logic has no presence in the Islamic culture and that there is no need for it in any proof of the Islamic aqeedah. Second that the logical basis is susceptible of error unlike the sensory basis, which with regard to the existence or otherwise of things is absolutely infallible; what is susceptible to error should not be a basis for imān.

Logic is susceptible to speciosity [maghālatah] and its conclusions are susceptible to be incorrect, because although it stipulates that the correctness of the premises and the soundness of their structure is a condition, the fact that it consists of the syllogising of one premise upon another makes the correctness of the conclusion dependant upon the correctness of these premises. The correctness of these premises is not guaranteed because the conclusion is not directly founded on sensation, it is founded on the syllogising of premises, on upon another, and thus the correctness of the conclusion is not guaranteed. This is because what occurs in it is that premises are syllogised, one upon another: things able to be comprehended [ma’qūlāt] upon the like, resulting in the same, and things able to be sensorially perceived [mahsūsāt] upon the like, resulting in the same. As for the syllogising of comprehensibles upon comprehensibles, it leads to slipping into error and to contradictory conclusions, and it leads to drifting into a series of premises and conclusions which are rational in theory and by assumption but not with regard to thier existence in reality, so much so that in many of those syllogisms, the end of the road are utter fantasies and absurdities. Thus establishing proof through the syllogising of comprehensibles upon comprehensibles is susceptible to slipping. For example, logically it is said: the Qur’an is the speech of Allah and it is comprised of letters which are arranged and sequenced in existence, and every speech made up of letters arranged and sequenced in existence is recent [hādith]; the conclusion: the Qur’an is recent and created. This syllogising of premises has lead to a conclusion which in inaccessible to the senses; so the intellect is incapable of inquiring into it (as to its correctness) or judging it. Therefore, it is a hypothetical judgement, not a realistic one over and above it being one of the issues which the intellect has been prohibited from discussing. This is because a discussion of the attributes of Allah is a discussion of His essence [dhāt], and in no way is it permissible to discuss the essence of Allah. Yet it is possible to reach, via the same logic, a conclusion contradictory to this one. Thus it is said: the Qur’an is the speech of Allah and it is one of its attributes, and any thing that is an attribute of Allah is eternal [qadīm]; the conclusion: that the Qur’an is eternal and not created. Thus contradiction in logic is evident in one and the same proposition. Likewise, in many logical propositions that are resultant from the syllogising of comprehensibles upon comprehensibles, a logician reaches conclusions which are utterly contradictory and utterly bizarre.

As for the syllogising of the sensorially accessible upon the sensorially accessible, if the premises can be traced back to the senses and the conclusion can be traced back to the senses, the result will be correct, because it is based on the senses in the premises and the conclusion not solely on the syllogising of propositions. However what occurs is that in arriving at truths reliance is placed on the syllogising of propositions, and the noticing of the senses is restricted to what the propositions end with. It may occur that a proposition is imagined to be true to a certain reality but in fact it is not. It may also occur that a proposition which is defined with a general demarcation will be true only to certain parts of it, and this truth of certain parts will lead to the deceptive conclusion that it applies to all parts. It may also be that in the proposition there apparent truth, but in reality it is incorrect, which deceptively means the truth of the proposition. It may also be that the conclusion is correct but the premises from which it is concluded are false, from which it may be imagined that because the conclusion is correct, so too are the premises…and so forth. Thus, it has been said, for example, that the inhabitants of Spain are not Muslims, and every land whose inhabitants are not Muslims is not an Islamic Land; the conclusion is that Spain is not an Islamic Land. This conclusion is wrong. Its error come from the error of the second premise: the statement that every land whose inhabitants are not Muslims is not an Islamic Land is false because a land is deemed Islamic if it were ruled by Islam or if the majority of its inhabitants are Muslims. This is why the conclusion is wrong; Spain is indeed an Islamic Land. As another example, it has been said that America is a country of high economic standard, and every country of high economic standard is a revived country. The conclusion is that America is a revived country. This conclusion is true with regards to America, although one of the two premises is false: not every country with a high economic standard is revived; a revived country is one with a high intellectual standard. Thus, this syllogism, whose conclusion is true, deceptively leads one to assume that the premises from which the conclusion was arrived at are also correct. It also leads to proposition that each of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia is a revived country because each has a high economic standard, although the truth is that these are not revived countries. Thus, the correctness of the conclusions of all syllogisms is dependent on the correctness of the premises. The truth of the premises is not guaranteed because they are susceptible to having flaws.

Therefore, it is erroneous to depend on the logical basis in the establishment of proof. This does not mean that the truths reached via logic are false or that the establishment of proof via logic is erroneous, but it means that reliance in the establishment of proof on the logical basis is erroneous and that taking logic as a basis in the establishment of arguments is erroneous. It is the senses that are to be made the basis for proof and evidence. As for logic, it is valid to use for the establishment of the proof of the correctness of a proposition and it would be correct if all the premises are true and if they together with the conclusion were traceable back to the senses. The correctness of the conclusion comes from its being deduced from the premises, not from anything else. Yet, its susceptibility to being erroneous makes it imperative that it is not made a basis in the establishment of proof because as a whole, it is an uncertain basis which is susceptible to error, although proof by means of some forms of it can be conclusive. It is the senses that must be made the basis of proof, because as a whole this is a definite basis regarding the existence or otherwise of things; it is completely insusceptible to error.

Secondly: the Mutakallimīn departed from the sensorially accessible; they went beyond it to the sensorially inaccessible, and inquired into the supernatural: the essence of Allah and His attributes, into that which the senses cannot perceive, and they connected this with inquires into matters related to the sensorially accessible. They went into excess in drawing analogy of the unseen with the apparent, that is, drawing analogy of Allah with man, so they necessitated justice, as envisaged by man in this worldly life, upon Allah. They deemed it necessary that Allah do that in which there is betterment. Some of them even necessitated upon Allah that he do that which is the best, because (according to them) Allah is Wise and He does not do anything except for a purpose or a wisdom; an action without a purpose is meaningless and futile; a wise (being) either benefits himself or others, and since Allah the Exalted is too sublime to be benefited, He only acts to benefit others.

Thus they overstepped into discussions of the sensorially inaccessible and of issues which the intellect is incapable of judging, and so they blundered. They missed the point that the sensorially accessible is comprehensible and that the essence of Allah is incomprehensible, so it is not possible to draw analogy of one upon the other. They were inattentive to the fact that the Justice of Allah is incomparable to the justice of man, and that it is invalid to apply the laws of this world to Allah, who is the Creator of this world and the one who regulates it according the laws he set for it. When we do see that when the perspective of man is narrow, he understands matters in a given way and that once his perspective widens, his view of justice changes and his judgement changes as well; how then do we compare (to ourselves) the Lord of the Worlds whose Knowledge encompasses everything and give His Justice the meaning of justice that we ourselves see to be justice? As for betterment and that which best, it proceeds from there view of justice; what they say about justice is what they say about these. It is observable in this regard that man can view a given thing as good, but once his perspective widens his view changes. For example, the Muslim world today is dar al-kufr having abandoned the rule of Islam; so all Muslims view it as a corrupt world and most of them say that it is in need of reform [islāh]. But the aware see that reform means the removal of corruption from the status quo, and this is erroneous: the Muslim world in need of a radical and comprehensive change [inqilāb] that removes the rule of kufr and implements the rule of Islam; any (mere) reform includes the prolongation of corruption. Thus it is seen how the view of man towards what is good changes. How then do we subject Allah to the judgement of man and deem it necessary for Him to do what we see as good or better? If we made our mind the judge, we would see that Allah did things which our minds see no good whatsoever in; what good is there, for example, in the creation of Iblīs and the shayātīn and giving them the ability to misguide man; why did Allah give Iblīs respite until the Day of Judgement and let our Master Muhammad (saw) die? Is all this better for people? Why does he allow removal of the rule of Islam from the Earth and enable the dominance of the rule of kufr, humiliate the Muslims and enable the dominance of their kafir enemies? Is this better for the His servants? If we proceeded in enumeration of thousands of acts and judged them by our mind and our understanding of the meaning of good and better, we would not find them good. Therefore the comparison of Allah to man is not correct, and nothing is incumbent upon Allah:

“He is not questioned about His acts…” (al-Anbiyā’: 23)

“There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him” (al-Shūra: 11). Indeed, what made the Mutakallimīn slip into all this is there methodology of inquiry and their comparing Allah to man.

Thirdly: the methodology of the Mutakallimīn gives the intellect the freedom of inquiry into every thing, into the sensorially accessible and the sensorially inaccessible. This inevitably results in the intellect inquiring into matters that it is incapable of judging, and inquiring into suppositions and imaginations, and establishing evidence to support mere conceptions of things that may exist or may not exist. This allows for the possibility of the rejection of things which definitely exist: things of which we were informed by a (source) the truth of whose information is definite for us but the intellect does not comprehend them. It also allows for the possibility of having imān in fantastical having no existence conjured up by the mind. For example, the Mutakallimīn discussed the essence of Allah and his attributes: some of them said that an attribute [sifah] is one and the same as the attribute carrier [mawsūf]; others said that the attribute is other than the attribute carrier. They said that the knowledge of Allah is the unfolding [inkishāf] of the Known as it is, and the Known changes from one time to another: the leaf of a tree falls after having been not fallen, and Allah says,

“Not a leaf does fall except that He knows of it” (al-An’ām: 59). With the knowledge of Allah a thing unfolds as it is; thus Allah knows that a thing will be before it is and He knows that a thing was when it was and He knows that a thing no longer is when it no longer is. So how does the knowledge of Allah change with the change in things? The knowledge that changes with the change of things recent is a recent knowledge and a recent thing does not lie in Allah because that with which the recent is associated is itself recent. Others amongst the Mutakallimin replied to this by saying: it is self-evident that our knowledge that Zayd will come upon us is other than our knowledge that he has indeed come; this distinction is due to the renewal of the knowledge; but this is applicable to man because it is he whose knowledge is renewed because the source of his knowledge, sensation and comprehension, is renewed. But with Allah there is no distinction between something destined that will be, a realised thing that was, an accomplished thing that occurred and a predicted thing that will occur. Indeed, information with regards to Him is of one state. Other Mutakallimin replied: Allah inherently knows all that was and that will be, all information is known by him as one knowledge, and the difference between what will be and what was stems from the change in things not in the knowledge of Allah. All this discussion deals with matters that are sensorially inaccessible, and upon which the intellect cannot judge; so it is not allowed for the intellect to inquire into them. But they discussed them and reached these conclusions in line with their methodology that gives the intellect the freedom to inquire into everything. They imagined things and discussed them. For example, they conceived that the Will of Allah is associated with the action of the servant (man) when the servant willed the action, that is, Allah created the action when the servant was capable and willing, not with servant’s capability and will.

This subject matter was only conceived and hypothesised by those who inquired into these matters; sensorilly, it has no reality, but they gave the intellect the freedom of inquiry so they inquired into it, formed this conception and deemed it compulsory to believe in it and they named it kasb [acquisition] and ikhtiyār [choice]. Had they restricted the inquiry of the mind into the sensorially accessible only, they would have realised that the action insofar as the creation of all of its materials is concerned, it is only from Allah, because creation from nothing only comes from the Creator. As for the manipulation of these materials and the effecting of the action therefrom, this is from the servant, just like any industry he carries out, like the making of a chair for example. Had they restricted the inquiry of the intellect into the sensorially accessible alone, they would not have believed in much of the fantasies and theoretical suppositions (they came up with).

Fourthly: The methodology of the Mutakallimin makes the intellect the basis of the entire imān. Consequently, they made the intellect the basis for the Qur’an; they did not make the Qur’an the basis for the intellect. They built their interpretation of the Qur’an accordingly on their bases of absolute elevation [tanzīh] (of Allah), the freedom of the will, justice and the doing of that which is better (by Allah) and so on. They made the intellect the arbitrator in the ayāt which are seemingly contradictory; they made it the ultimate arbitrator between the mutashābihāt and they interpreted away the ayāt which do not agree with the view they opted for, so much so that interpreting away of texts became a method of thiers, Mu’tazilah, Ahl al-Sunnah, and Jabriyyah alike. This is because the basis for them is not the ayah but the intellect; the ayah should be interpreted to conform with the intellect. Thus the employing of the intellect as a basis for the Qur’an resulted in error in the inquiry and in the subject matter of the inquiry. Had they employed the Qur’an as the basis, and had they built the intellect upon the Qur’an, they would not have slipped into what they slipped into.

Indeed, the imān that the Qur’an is the speech of Allah is based on the intellect only, but after this imān is established the Qur’an itself, not the intellect, becomes the basis for the imān in what it contains. Therefore, with regards the ayāt that comes in the Qur’an, the intellect should not judge the truth or otherwise of their meaning. The ayāt themselves judge, and the role of the intellect in this case is only to understand. The Mutakallimin did not do this; rather, they made the intellect the basis for the Qur’an and because of this their interpreting of ayāt (to conform to a certain preconceived meaning) of the Qur’an occurred.

Fifthly: the Mutakallimin made their antagonism with the philosophers the basis of their inquiry. The Mu’tazilah took from the philosophers and argued against them; Ahl al-Sunnah and the Jabriyyah argued against the Mu’tazilah; they also took form the philosophers and argued against them, whereas the subject matter of the inquiry is Islam, not the antagonism with the philosophers or any other group. It is upon them to inquire into the subject matter of Islam, that is, to inquire into what the Qur’an brought and what the Hadīth contained and to restrict their inquiry to it and to its discussion, irrespective of any person. However they did not do this. They converted the conveyance of Islam and the expounding of its aqa’id into debates and polemics; they degraded it from a driving force within the heart, from the clarity and the fervour of the aqeedah, to a polemic feature and a rhetorical profession.

These are the major fallacies of the methodology of the Mutakallimīn. One of the consequences of this methodology was that the discussion of the Islamic aqeedah transformed from being the means of calling to Islam and explaining it for people into a discipline which is taught, like the science of syntax or any of the disciplines which were born after the conquests. This was in spite of the fact that if it were at all valid to establish a discipline for any of the branches of knowledge of Islam, it would be invalid to do this with the Islamic aqeedah, because it is itself the subject matter of the Da’wah and it is the basis of Islam; it should be given to people exactly as it came in the Qur’an. The method of the Qur’an in conveying it to people and in expounding it to them should be implemented as the method of calling to Islam and explaining its thoughts. Therefore, it is imperative that the methodology of the Mutakallimīn be abandoned and that the methodology of the Qur’an alone be reverted to, namely, basing the Da’wah on the fitrah whilst basing it on the intellect within the limits of the sensorially accessible.

20 comments:

Islamic Revival said...

This is because the reality is objective and not subjective and thus the fact that the Universe has an unlimited creator is an objective fact and not relative.

The reason that things must have a creator, is because the things which are comprehensible by the mind that is man, life, and the universe, are limited, weak, imperfect, and are in need for something other than themselves. Man is limited, because he grows in every aspect to a certain limit that he cannot surpass, so he is limited. Life is limited, because it manifests itself only in individuals, and what is noticed by the senses is that it is concluded with the individual, thus it is limited. The universe is limited, because it is the sum of celestial bodies, and each body is limited; and the sum of limited things is self-evidently limited. Thus, man, life, and the universe are definitely limited. When we ponder on the limited (thing), we see that it is not azali (eternal - limitless), otherwise it would not have been limited, and therefore, it must be created by something else, which is the Creator of man, life and the universe. This Creator is either created by someone else, creator of himself, or azali (eternal - limitless) whose existence is indispensable (wajib ul-wujood). It is absolutely false that he is created by someone else, because he would then be limited.

It is also false that he is the creator of himself and could not be rationally considered as the Creator. As for being self-created, the ramification of which would be he is created by himself and creating himself simultaneously. This is simply absurd. Hence, the creator must be azali (-ازليeternal - limitless) whose existence is indispensable. He is Allah .

Anyone who has the mental faculty can comprehend from things that can be sensed that they have a creator. This is because what is noticed in all of them is that they are imperfect, weak and dependent, so they are definitely created.

Despite the obligation to use the mind to arrive at the correct belief in Allah, man is unable to comprehend things beyond the boundaries of his senses and mental faculty. This is because man's mind is limited within boundaries it cannot surpass regardless of how much it develops and grows; hence, its ability to comprehend is limited. Therefore, the mind will fall short of comprehending the essence of Allah, because He is beyond man, life and the universe and the human mind cannot comprehend what is beyond man. Thus the human mind is unable to comprehend the essence of Allah . It should not be said how does man believe in Allah with his mind while his mind cannot comprehend the essence of Allah . This is because belief (iman) entails iman in the existence of Allah, whose existence is comprehended through the existence of His creation, i.e. the universe, man and life. These creations are within the limits of what the mind can comprehend and thus, man comprehended them; and from comprehending them, man comprehended the existence of a creator (for these things) who is Allah. Therefore, iman in the existence of Allah is rational and within the limits of man's mental capacity. This is in contrast to the essence of Allah, which is impossible since He is beyond man, life and the universe and hence He is beyond the capability of any mind. The mind is unable to comprehend what is beyond its bounds because of its inherent limitation to do so. This limitation should be one of the factors, which strengthen the iman, and not a source of suspicion and doubt. Moreover, since our iman in Allah is reached through our mind, our comprehension of His existence is complete. Since our sensation of His existence is linked with the mind, then our sensation of His existence is absolutely sure. Thus, this initiates in us a complete comprehension and assured feeling of all the divine attributes associated with the Creator. All of this convinces us that we will be unable to comprehend the essence of Allah, despite our firm iman in Him. Therefore, we have to submit to all that He has informed us about, of which the mind is incapable to comprehend or to arrive at its comprehension. This is due to the natural inability of the human mind, by its relative and limited standards, to comprehend what is beyond it; for this comprehension would need absolute and unlimited standards, matters which man neither possess nor can acquire.

Mohsin said...

Salaam,
The author states that man can not sense therefore think about the essence of Allah (“the mind will fall short of comprehending the essence of Allah”) however then moves to allow thinking related to existence of Allah (“belief (iman) entails iman in the existence of Allah, whose existence is comprehended through the existence of His creation” … “and from comprehending them, man comprehended the existence of a creator (for these things) who is Allah”) without explaining how based on his definition of thinking. This is what I am after, how is this possible? He gives a hit when he says “Since our sensation of His existence is linked with the mind, then our sensation of His existence is absolutely sure.” Can you elaborate on what is meant here?

We don’t have any direct sensation of the existence of Allah. So is he saying that man, life and universe are his effect where he is the cause therefore an indirect sensation of his existence? Just guessing here…

Mohsin said...

wondering if you will be responding. I have more to add, but would like a response to what I wrote in order to avoid creating confusion. Or we can discuss offline, you have my email from an earlier post.

Islamic Revival said...

Sorry we thought you just pasted your question as again as the earlier one was deleted due to your request, we didn't notice that you had asked another question.

The author has discussed this issue earlier in the book which answers your question, the following is the translation of the section:

As for the specific evidence for each element of the aqeedah, then the evidence for the existence of Allah is is exhibited in everything. That sensorially-perceivable comprehensible things exist is a definite matter. That these things are dependent on things other than themself is also a definite matter. Thus that they are created by a Creator is a definite matter since their being in need means that they are created: their neediness indicates to the existence of something before them; so they are not eternal [azalī]. It should not be said here that a thing is dependent on some other thing, not on a ‘non-thing’, therefore things are complementary to each other but in their totality they are independent; this should not be said because the subject of the evidence here is a specific thing such as a pen, a jug or a piece of paper etc; the evidence is intended to prove that this pen or jug or piece of paper is created by a Creator. It is clear that the thing in and of itself, is dependent on something other than it, irrespective of that ‘other’ on which it depends. That this ‘other’ on which the thing depends is other than the thing is definite through sensorial observation. When a thing is dependent on some ‘other’, it is established as not eternal: thus it is created. Nor should it be said that a thing in and of itself is matter and is dependent on matter, thus being dependent on itself not on something other than it, and thus (in reality) is independent. This should not be said because even if we concede that a thing is matter and depends on matter, this dependence by matter is dependence on something other than matter not dependence on matter itself. This is so because an entity of matter alone cannot complement the dependence of another entity of matter; something other than matter is needed for this dependence to be complemented, and thus matter is dependent on something else, not on itself. For example water, in order to transform into vapour, needs heat. Even if we conceded that heat is matter and water is matter, the mere availability of heat is not adequate for water to transform; a specific amount of heat is needed for transformation to take place. So water is dependent on this specific amount of heat. The magnitude of this amount is imposed by other than the water and other than the heat, that is, by other than matter, and matter is compelled to behave according to it. Thus matter is dependent on that which determines the magnitude for it and so it is dependent on other than matter. Hence the dependence of matter on non-matter is a definite fact; thus matter is needy, being created by a Creator. Therefore all sensorially perceivable comprensible things are created by a Creator.

The Creator has to be eternal with no beginning, because if He were not eternal, He would be a creation not a Creator; thus being a Creator invariably requires being eternal. The Creator is necessarily eternal. Upon examining the things that might be considered as being the Creator, it is clear that the only beings which could possibly be the Creator are Matter, Nature or Allah, the Exalted. As for matter being the Creator, then this is false because of what has been explained (above) that matter is dependent on the one who determines for it the proportions/magnitudes in order for the transformation of things to occur; hence it is not eternal and that which is not eternal cannot be a Creator. As for Nature being the Creator, then this too is false, because Nature is the collection of things and the system that regulates them such that every thing in the universe behaves in accordance with this system.

This regulation does not come from the system alone, because without the things to be regulated there would be no system. Nor does it come from the things because the mere existence of things does not inevitably and spontaneously result in a system; nor does their existence cause them to be regulated without a regulator. Nor does it come from the sum of the things and the system, because regulation does not happen except in accordance with a specific situation that compels both the system and the things. This specific situation of the things and the system is what makes regulation possible. The specific situation is imposed on the things and the system and regulation can happen only in accordance with it. It does not come from the things or from the system or from the sum of the two; hence it comes from something other than them. Thus Nature, which cannot function except in accordance with a situation that is imposed on it, is dependent, and thus it is not eternal and that which is not eternal cannot be a Creator. We conclude then that the Creator is He who has a necessary attribute of being Eternal. He is Allah (swt), the Exalted.

The existence of Allah then is perceivable and comprehensible by way of the senses, because the dependence on the Eternal by the perceivable comprehensible things indicates the existence of the Creator. When man deeply reflects on the creatures of Allah, and examines closely the universe and attempts to comprehend time and place, he will see that he is a very minuscule particle in relation to these ever-moving worlds. He will also see that these many worlds are all functioning in accordance with specific ways and established laws; from this he will fully realise the existence of this Creator and comprehend His Unity and His Grandeur and Capability shall be made plain to him. He will realise that all he witnesses of the contrast between day and night, of the change of the winds, the existence of the seas, rivers and celestial orbits, are naught but rational proofs and expressive signs of the existence of Allah and of His Unity and Power. The Exalted says,

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن مَّاء فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَآبَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخِّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاء وَالأَرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ•

“Behold! In the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, in the alteration of the Night and the Day, the ship which sails upon the sea with that which is of use to man, the water which Allah sends down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and (in) the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between Heaven and Earth: are signs for people who have sense.” [TMQ Baqarah: 164];

And,

أَمْ خُلِقُوا مِنْ غَيْرِ شَيْءٍ أَمْ هُمُ الْخَالِقُونَ •أَمْ خَلَقُوا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بَل لَّا يُوقِنُونَ

“Were they created of nothing, or are they themselves the Creators? Or did they create the Heavens and the Earth? Nay! They have no (firm) conviction.” [TMQ Tur: 35-36].

Thus it is the intellect which comprehends the existence of Allah and it is the means taken to arrive at imān. Hence Islam obligated the use of the intellect and deemed it the evidence [hukm] regarding imān in the existence of Allah, the Exalted. Thus the proof of the existence of Allah is rational.

As for those who advocate the timelessness [qadm] of the world and that it is eternal with no beginning, and those who claim that matter is eternal, having no beginning; they say that the world is not dependent on other than itself but is self-sustained because all the things that exist in this world are (simply) different forms of matter; they are all matter. The dependence of some part of it upon another part is not (in reality) dependence. When something depends on itself this is not dependence but independence from other than itself. Thus matter is eternal, having no beginning, because it is self-sustained, that is, the world is beginninglessly eternal, self-sustained and independent of other than itself.

The answer to that is twofold: first, the things that exist in this world do not have the capability of creating or originating (anything) from nothing, whether individually or collectively; the ‘thing’ is incapable of creating or originating from nothing. If another thing complements it in one or more aspects, it will still be, together with the other thing or things, incapable of creating or originating. Its inability to create or originate from nothing is clearly perceivable. This means that it is not eternal, because an eternal (thing) must not be characterised with incapability; it must be characterised with ability to create and originate from nothing, that is, the effected things must depend on it in order for it to be deemed eternal. Consequently, the world is not eternal nor is it timeless because it is incapable of creating or originating. The inability of something to create from nothing is definite evidence that it is not eternal.

Second, is what we have affirmed that a thing is dependent on a specific magnitude that it cannot surpass in the process of complementing the need of another thing. The explanation of this follows. If A is dependent on B and B is dependent on C and C is dependent on A and so forth, their dependence on one another is evidence that each one of them is not eternal; the complementing of one to the other or the satisfication of the need of another does not occur in an unregulated manner but in accordance with a specific proportion, that is, in accordance with a specific order. The fact that it cannot fulfill this complementation except in accordance with this order and that it is incapable of functioning against it indicates that the thing which complements does not complement solitarily but complements according to an order imposed on it and compelled to conform to it by other than itself. Thus the thing which complements and that which it complemented are both dependent on that which determined for them the specific order by which the complementation is to occur. Both of them are incapable of functioning against this order, nor can the satisfaction of the need occur except in accordance with this order. Hence, that which imposed the order on both of them is the one which they need. Thus things collectively, even though complementing each other, remain in need of other than themselves, that is, in need of that what compelled them to conform to the specific order. For example water in order for it to transform into ice, needs heat; so they say that water is matter, temperature is matter and ice is matter; thus in order for matter to transform into another form, it is in need of matter, that is, in need of itself and not other than itself; the reality is contrary to this. Indeed for water to transform into ice, it needs a heat of a specific temperature not simply heat. Heat is one thing and the property of water that it does not change except at a certain level of heat is another, being different from heat itself. That is, the magnitude (of required temperature) imposed on heat in order to effect and on water to be affected does not come from water; otherwise it would have chosen to be affected as it wanted. It does not come from temperature either; otherwise it would have chosen its effect as it wanted. That is, it does not come from matter itself; otherwise it would have chosen to effect and be affected as it wanted. It has to come from something other than matter. Hence, matter needs that which determines for it the specific magnitude that it needs in order to effect or be affected. That which determines the magnitude for it is one other than it. So matter is dependent on other than itself, thus it is not eternal because that which is eternal and timeless does not in need anything other than itself: it is independent of others; all things depend on it. Therefore the lack of independence of matter is definite evidence that it is not eternal and it is thus created.

One glance at the universe makes any human realise that the formation of things, whether they be of the type that occupies space or of the energy type, can only result from sensorially perceivable, comprehensible things and a specific order between these things in order for the formation to occur. There is not to be found in this world formation from nothing, nor is anything formed without being regulated by a specific magnitude [nasbah] and in conformity with it. That is, nothing in this world is formed out of nothing or without proportion, that is, without a specific order. Thus things that are formed and those that form in this world are not eternal or timeless. As for the things which form then this is clear in that they are formed from sensorially perceivable comprehensible things and that in the process of being formed they were subject to a specific magnitide that was imposed on them. As for those things which are formed then this is clear in their inability to form from nothing and also in their submission against their will to a certain order that is imposed on them. This order does not come from them, otherwise they would be capable of departing from it and of not submitting to it; therefore it comes from other than them. Thus the inability of the sensorially perceivable comprehensible things in the world, that is, the inability of the world to form (create) from nothing and their submission to a specific order that comes from other than then is definite evidence that the world is not eternal or timeless but it is created by the Eternal and Timeless.

As for those who say that creating is proportioning and conditioning and thus deny the existence of the Creator, (who creates) from nothing, then the meaning of their this saying is the sensorially perceivable, comprehensible things and the specific order that is imposed on them are the ones who do the creating, because proportioning and conditioning cannot take place except in the presence of a tangible sensorially perceivable, comprehensible thing and a specific order that comes from someone other than this thing. This entails that creating comes from these two things: the sensorially perceivable, comprehensible things and the specific order, and thus they are the creators. This is what is entailed by the saying that creating is proportioning and conditioning; it is definitely false. This is because the specific order does not come from the things or from itself, but it is imposed on the things by other than them of that which is not sensorially perceivable.

Thus it is clear that proportioning and conditioning is not creating, because it is not possible for formation to be completed / achieved solely by that: for formation of the presence of that which is not sensorially perceivable or tangible, which imposes a specific order for the sensorially perceivable, comprehensible things is indispensable. From this it is apparent that proportioning and conditioning is not creation and that it is not possible for creation to take place with these only.

If a Creator did not create the sensorially perceivable, comprehensible (things) from nothing, he would not be a Creator, because he would be incapable of forming things on the basis of his will alone; he would rather be subject to requiring some thing with him with which he can form (things). He would thus be incapable and not eternal, because he was incapable of forming (things) by himself, needing something else: the one who is incapable and who needs (something) is not eternal. In addition, as a matter-of-fact, the meaning of the ‘Creator’ is the one who forms (something) from nothing. The meaning of being a Creator is that things rely in their existence on Him, and that He does not rely on anything. If he did not create things from nothing, or was incapable of creating when (other) things did not exist, he would be dependent on things in forming (things), and things would not be dependent solely on him. This means that he is not the sole Creator and thus not a Creator (at all). So, a Creator must create things from nothing in order for him to be a Creator and has to be characterised with capability and will, independent of any thing; He should not depend on anything, and things should depend on him for their existence. Hence, for formation to be creation it must be formation from nothing, and for the one who forms to be a Creator, he must form from nothing.

Mohsin said...

Reading thru this, I don’t see a direct answer to the questions I asked (how thinking is possible in this subject), however there are hints to answer.

For example, when he says “…but it is imposed on the things by other than them of that which is not sensorially perceivable.” Is he referring to the Creator here? Especially the part at the end “that which is not sensorially perceivable.”

Hence this is the link which allows thinking i.e. matter/system is the effect and by process of elimination, the cause must be other than matter/system?


On another note, If I understood what the author wrote, he means the following:
a. That matter and system together are what we know as things and this system is enforced on matter by non-matter. Quotes of the author are below.
i. “So water is dependent on this specific amount of heat. The magnitude of this amount is imposed by other than the water and other than the heat, that is, by other than matter, and matter is compelled to behave according to it. Thus matter is dependent on that which determines the magnitude for it and so it is dependent on other than matter.”
ii. “It does not come from temperature either; otherwise it would have chosen its effect as it wanted. That is, it does not come from matter itself; otherwise it would have chosen to effect and be affected as it wanted. It has to come from something other than matter. Hence, matter needs that which determines for it the specific magnitude that it needs in order to effect or be affected.”
iii. “This entails that creating comes from these two things: the sensorially perceivable, comprehensible things and the specific order, and thus they are the creators. This is what is entailed by the saying that creating is proportioning and conditioning; it is definitely false. This is because the specific order does not come from the things or from itself, but it is imposed on the things by other than them of that which is not sensorially perceivable.”

If this system is a separate ‘entity’ from matter, this does not mean that there is another ‘thing’ (other than matter and system) that enforces the ‘system entity’ on matter. It does show that a relationship exists between matter and system. Assuming for the moment that the system is not part of matter and actually ‘controls’ matter, what this does not show is something else, Creator that is, controlling and imposing the system on the matter.

Islamic Revival said...

We have to establish a basis for the discussion otherwise it will be circular. Firstly, do you agree on the following:

1) The reality is objective and we can achieve objective truths regarding it?

2) The Universe is the sum of limited things and therefore is limited?

3) For something to be proved to exist it is not necessary for us to sense the essence of that thing as it can be proved to exist based upon rational deduction?

Mohsin said...

I posted my response earlier... is there another means to have this discussion say, via email?

Mohsin said...

You didnt post my answers to your questions. Do you need me to re-post them?

Mohsin said...

1) The reality is objective and we can achieve objective truths regarding it?
a. Sure… the moon I see is the moon you see and the moon my grand father saw. So if you are asking if realtiy is one and people all attempt to comprehend this same reality, sure, I agree.
2) The Universe is the sum of limited things and therefore is limited?
a. Don’t know about the universe as a whole. Some things like like animals are plants are obviously limited in space and time as is sensed.
b. Things like the sun and the stars, I don’t have info except what I have read to say they are limted in time i.e. have a beginning but as for space, sure… I sense that.
c. I see 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, 4 stars, N starts…. So do I conclude these stars are never ending number in total and each taking up so much space? No, I can’t prove that. Nor can I prove from this that there is only so many stars, a limited number.
d. How do you answer this question?
3) For something to be proved to exist it is not necessary for us to sense the essence of that thing as it can be proved to exist based upon rational deduction?
a. Sure history is full of such examples...
b. I got stung the other day and I didn’t see the bee so I didn’t sense its essense but I did feel the pain. (not sure how you would distinguish between sensing the existience vs the essence of a thing)
c. By seeing the shadow, I know something exists even though I didn’t see/sense the thing directly.
d. So with all these examples, I know these things existed without sensing the essence.
e. In my examples, how I came to know a thing existed is different (inforamtion given, sensation of touch, sensing the effect.
f. So with all these examples, I also attribute time and space, at the basic level, to their essence without sensing it.
g. What is the answer to your question as it related to the subject at hand?

Islamic Revival said...

Just saw them, will reply when we get some time i.a.

Mohsin said...

i.a. I read a resonse soon.

Mohsin said...

wondering if you are planning on responding...

Islamic Revival said...

Sorry for the delay as there are many commitments, so time is short.

Please send us your email that may be better i.a.

Islamic Revival said...

Regarding your questions and the answers you posted to what we asked:

You said in response to 1) The reality is objective and we can achieve objective truths regarding it?:

a. Sure… the moon I see is the moon you see and the moon my grand father saw. So if you are asking if realtiy is one and people all attempt to comprehend this same reality, sure, I agree.
2) The Universe is the sum of limited things and therefore is limited?
a. Don't know about the universe as a whole. Some things like like animals are plants are obviously limited in space and time as is sensed.
b. Things like the sun and the stars, I don't have info except what I have read to say they are limted in time i.e. have a beginning but as for space, sure… I sense that.
c. I see 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, 4 stars, N starts…. So do I conclude these stars are never ending number in total and each taking up so much space? No, I can't prove that. Nor can I prove from this that there is only so many stars, a limited number.
d. How do you answer this question?

In response:

By the Universe we mean the sum of all limited things whether we have directly sensed them like the sun or whether they exist in other galaxies which we have not sensed. By basing the judgement upon the objective reality we can conclude that man, life and the universe are definitely limited and not eternal. A simple example suffices, there are many cities on the earth - each city is limited in all aspects and the sum of them is limited....every planet in the solar system is limited and the sum of them is definitely limited, the solar system is limited and the sum of systems in the galaxy is therefore definitely limited, the galaxy is limited and the sum of all galaxies which is the universe is limtied. Limited plus limited always equals limited, it does not equal unilimited. Therefore the Universe is obectively limited and not unlimited.

As for the discussion of being limited in time, what is time? Time is simply a measurement of the movement of matter, like length is a measurement, time is also a measurement. Time is not an entity as it is portrayed in science fiction. Time is dependent on matter. If matter is limited then time is limited. To say time is unlimited its like saying length is unlimited, which is non-sensical as length is a description of matter you have to talk about the length of something and not length per se.
Furthermore it is impossible for something to be limited in one aspect and unlimited in another. So something with a limited length cannot have an unlimited weight by definition. Something with a limited width cannot have an unlimited length. Therefore it is a paradox to say the universe is limited in size, shape, weight, volume but unlimited in time...as this is a contradiction. If something is limited then it is limited in all aspects including time.

Therefore where did the Universe originate from? As if it is limited in time it cannot simply self-exist or exist eternally without a beginning as what was before it?

Rationally there are a few possible options:

a) It was created by another limited thing
b) It was caused by something self-caused
c) Something eternal and unlimited
If it was created by another limited thing such as proposed by the big bang-big crunch theory then that limited thing would also be limited in time and require a creator and that chain would continue until we reach the beginning of the creation of limtied matter. The chain cannot remain neverending as we have already proved that matter is not eternal, it is limited in all aspects including time and therefore requires an origin. Therefore we have to discount this option as it contradicts the reality of matter.

As for being caused by something self-created, this is absurd as for something to create it needs to exist, so if it doesnt exist it cannot bring itself into existence.

The only rational possibility is that it was caused by something eternal and unlimited, whom we call Allah (swt). This rational conclusion has been based upon the objective reality of matter which we can sense and therefore is within the realm of our minds to conlude.
You said in response to 3) For something to be proved to exist it is not necessary for us to sense the essence of that thing as it can be proved to exist based upon rational deduction?
a. Sure history is full of such examples...
b. I got stung the other day and I didn't see the bee so I didn't sense its essense but I did feel the pain. (not sure how you would distinguish between sensing the existience vs the essence of a thing)
c. By seeing the shadow, I know something exists even though I didn't see/sense the thing directly.
d. So with all these examples, I know these things existed without sensing the essence.
e. In my examples, how I came to know a thing existed is different (inforamtion given, sensation of touch, sensing the effect.
f. So with all these examples, I also attribute time and space, at the basic level, to their essence without sensing it.
g. What is the answer to your question as it related to the subject at hand?

In response:

This is directly related to the subject as once we have proved the existence of an unlimited/eternal creator based upon the sensed reality of matter can the mind deduce anything other than the fact that the creator is unlimited/eternal, can the mind think about the essence of the creator without any information revealed by Him to us? Based upon the reality we would only be able to conclude his existence and not deduce anything about His essence. Furthermore trying to define the essence of an unlimited being is impossible by using limited standards. For example if we attempt to perceive the essence of the creator it is like trying to perceive something which has no reality like a colour that doesn't exist, a colour unlike all colours we can perceive, can we judge it to be similar to blue or red? Of course not - as we cannot perceive it in the first place.

Wassalam

Mohsin said...

Limited plus limited always equals limited, it does not equal unilimited. Therefore the Universe is obectively limited and not unlimited.

[Mohsin] I’m not disagreeing with you over mathematical principles, that the sum of set 1 & 2 is essentially a limited number. The point is that there is a potential that there is always another star, planets, whatever we call them... to add to the first so the set is unknown. The example of the cities is irrelevant as the set is well known. As I understand your point, it’s mainly a logical point at the end. How is your point here ground in reality?




Furthermore it is impossible for something to be limited in one aspect and unlimited in another. So something with a limited length cannot have an unlimited weight by definition. Something with a limited width cannot have an unlimited length.

[Mohsin] please explain how? Not that I disagree, however you didn’t provide any evidence for what you are saying here.



As for being caused by something self-created, this is absurd as for something to create it needs to exist, so if it doesnt exist it cannot bring itself into existence.

[Mohsin] This option is absurd to the mind became it means ‘from nothing something originated’ but you prefer an option the eternal/unlimited to which time does not apply nor does it have the potential to be sensed. ‘Nothing’ and ‘unlimited/eternal’ – what meaning do you give one over the other?




Based upon the reality we would only be able to conclude his existence and not deduce anything about His essence. Furthermore trying to define the essence of an unlimited being is impossible by using limited standards. For example if we attempt to perceive the essence of the creator it is like trying to perceive something which has no reality like a colour that doesn't exist, a colour unlike all colours we can perceive, can we judge it to be similar to blue or red? Of course not - as we cannot perceive it in the first place.

[Mohsin] your answer to the above question is necessary to discuss first however you asked about existence/essence as a concept which I explained how its built on reality and more importantly, at the end, I outlined the relationship between existence/essence by stating “I also attribute time and space, at the basic level, to their essence without sensing it. You are arbitrary giving the meaning of ‘existence’ to ‘unlimited/eternal’ and divorcing ‘essence’ from the concept.

Mohsin said...

Any futher comments?

Islamic Revival said...

1) The point is not logical, it is a rational absolute truth. The objective factual reality must be the basis of the discussion. Every single thing we sense is definitely limited and the sum limited things we add together are always limited as a whole. Therefore it is impossible that the sum of all limited things would equal unlimited regardless of whether we perceived the end of it or not as this would contradict the clear reality. If we sense the beginning of something like a rope or any other thing if we did not see the end we know definitely it has an end. The 'seeing is believing' thinking is based upon the scientific or philosophical method of thinking is erroneous from its basis.

2) Again reality itself proves this point. Every single thing we sense is limited in all aspects.

3) The reason for calling it absurd is that it is a paradox i.e. a contradiction. It is like saying I exist and I don't, if this is meant in a real sense then it is a paradox and hence absurd.

Whereas to believe that the limited and dependent universe requires a creator who rationally cannot be limited as He too would then require a creator and that would continue until there was an ultimate unlimited creator - is not a paradox. It is the only rational possibility left.

I hear you say - but why can't it go on forever? That is because forever is an abstract statement without any reality, forever doesn't exist - time is a measurement of matter, if matter is limited then time is limited and hence there has to be a beginning. The only rational possibility is that that beginning was caused by the uncaused, that has to be the case as the chain of cause and effect cannot continue forever as already explained.

Ahmed said...

As-Salaamu 'Alaikum,

Jazakum Allah Khair for the exposition.

I will have to disagree. It seems the author is talking about the mu'tazillah and not the muatakallimin, or he is defining the mutakallimin as mu'tazillah, which is not how the majority of Muslims classify them. As far as I understand the mutakallimin are the Asha'era and the Maturidiyyah.

I say the above based on some of the opinions he mentions.

The example of how logic can give different results is just flat our wrong. I am talking about the one where he talks about the Quran. You cannot get two different conclusions unless the truth of the premises changes. If the premises have the same definitions and truth statements then the conclusion is always the same. The reason he is getting different conclusions is because he is using different definitions for the premises.

I am quite surprised to hear this of Sk. Taqi ud-Deen An-Nabahani. The intellect and the Quran cannot contradict. The intellect is the only faculty we have that we can use to discern a truth. If the Quran contradicts the intellect we would have a problem. Wa Allahu A3lam.

Islamic Revival said...

@Ahmed: Wa alaikum as salam

The Sheikh is talking about the methodology of all of the mutakallimeen including the Mu’tazilah, the Jabriyyah and Ashar'ee and Maturdee who became known as Ahl as-Sunnah.

Although it is true that the Asharée and maturdee were less extreme in their positions than the other groups and many of them are great respected scholars of Usul, Fiqh and Hadith. However, in debating against the views of the other groups like the Mu'tazila they also fell into the errors of the logical way of thinking and departed from rational thought. There are many examples of this where they have come to incorrect conclusions such the their strange view of kasb ikhtiari in the subject of al-Qada wal Qadar when they said that man has only the spark or the yearning and Allah creates his action according to this.

If you know the biography of Imam Abul Hassan al As'aree (rahimullah) you will know that he was initially a leading speaker for the Mu'tazilla and then changed his views and started to refute them, the problem is that in some areas he argued against their logic with his own logic - in areas where logic should not be applied.

I don't think you have grasped the example the Sheikh is giving about the Quran and logic, he is explaining that the logical method of thinking links one premise upon another premise - whereas the premise may or may not be true, for example we could say: wood burns (which is true) - that chair is made out of wood (which is true) - therefore all chairs burn (which is false). This is an example of a logical conclusion and not a rational one. The implicit assumption here is that all chairs are made out of wood which is incorrect, e.g. some chairs are made from metal and thus melt not burn.

If we take the example of the Quran, the Mu'tazilla argued that as it is arranged and sequenced sentences and all examples of such speech that we know of are created, therefore the Quran although being from Allah must also be His creation. The assumption here is making the analogy between man and Allah, as Allah is beyond perception we cannot make an analogy between us and Him.

Others argued that the speech of a person is his attribute and therefore the Quran, the speech of Allah is His attribute. They also fell into this same trap of making this analogy.

Islamic Revival said...

If you say the Quran is the attribute of Allah, that leads to a problem as it is a defined book of 114 chapters - how can the attribute of an unlimited God be limited?

This highlights the problem of entering into a discussion which is beyond the senses and therefore not based on ration but on logic i.e. the essence of Allah.

You misunderstood what the Sheikh said about the intellect, he explains that we must use the intellect to come to the absolute truth of Allah's existence and the truth of the Quran being his revelation - however after this intellectually it would be irrational to attempt to make what the Quran says about the unseen such as the essence of Allah, the akhirah, the ruh (soul) etc conform to what we think makes sense - as by definition the unseen is beyond the reality and thus has no tangibility for us to make conclusions about it. Thus we must submit to what the Quran and Sunnah informs us about those matters and limit ourselves to what they say without attempting to deduce conclusions about them through logical assumptions. The Sheikh says in the above section from his book:

"Indeed, the imān that the Qur’an is the speech of Allah is based on the intellect only, but after this imān is established the Qur’an itself, not the intellect, becomes the basis for the imān in what it contains. Therefore, with regards the ayāt that comes in the Qur’an, the intellect should not judge the truth or otherwise of their meaning. The ayāt themselves judge, and the role of the intellect in this case is only to understand. The Mutakallimin did not do this; rather, they made the intellect the basis for the Qur’an and because of this their interpreting of ayāt (to conform to a certain preconceived meaning) of the Qur’an occurred."