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.