Random thoughts and notes: Days 2 – 7

Salam Alaykum,

o    (Again, my thoughts are random and they really on many tangents, but at the present, I feel somewhat unable to collect my thoughts in such a way so as to write long passages about one topic; I might even repeat a number of my thoughts from time to time, and this is simply a natural reflection of how my thoughts are moving right now. So any one who happens to read all my random thought posts needs to bear this in mind.)

o    We must understand the final goal and purpose, without much philosophizing on it; the goal of the creation is to be subservient to the master, to Allah the Exalted, based on the method He wishes us to undertake. For certain angels, perhaps their lot is to be in Sujood all the time, for eternity. For jinns and humans, it is to be obedient to Allah out of a decision of their free-will. But we cannot or should not say that due to us having a created free-will, now we should do whatever we desire, without consideration of what Allah wills.

o    Most people in fact fall at this stage, where they consider things too deeply, and philosophize and use their reason in places where it does not belong. The reason is to be used [in this case] only for knowing the truth of the Existence of Allah, that He has revealed the message to his Prophet (SAW), and after this stage, as far as legislation is concerned, all else consists in following the revealed message.

o    Again, it is indeed correct to use the intellect to discriminate between various propositions, but we need to know where to discriminate, and where to maintain silence and keep an ‘agnostic’ attitude, so as to say – insofar as passing a definitive judgment concerning the obligation or forbiddance connected to the acts of the limbs. This is perhaps one of the paradoxes of this age, that the big question about the Existence of Allah is relegated to agnosticism and skepticism, while that of other issues, such as the legalization of recreational drugs or of same-sex marriage, is judged to be correct in only one way.

o    It also seems correct to say that the main job of the intellect is to know the Creator, Allah the Exalted, to deduce His Existence, and after that search for the true message that He has sent to mankind. All the material progress should in fact be secondary, since these are merely the embellishments of the mind, in addition to its first task. Alas, the world today thinks in the opposite way.

o    If people were to consider themselves as akin to angels, in the sense of the duties they have to perform with respect to Allah the Exalted, the vast majority of their worries would end right then and there. And it is because angels praise Allah based on what has been accorded to them, based on their station, without complaining about who is higher or lower in rank; for them, it is all Allah, and only Allah. And humans should also take heed of this, it should not be that the one whom Allah has legislated should have a lower position on this Earth with respect to certain things complains, questioning why Allah has legislated so-and-so, when in his or her view all other things are equal. Perhaps they are equal from the eye of materialism, but Allah has differentiated between this and that to test the people in their love and resolve towards Him; this is all, and it is a lesson that I myself and everyone else should heed to, whenever we forget.

o    It is said that Kalaam is not part of Islam at all. If what is meant here is the philosophy of the Greeks, Indian Hindus or Chinese Taoists, and so on, then of course, Islam does not agree with this. But there is also a reason why the Muslims have shunned the reasons provided by the Indians, Greeks, and others for their worldview, and this is the job of the formal scholastic theologian to handle. Yes, for most Muslims, this is not an issue that should concern them too much, especially if their worship is going well and they generally do not have any doubts. But the scope has to be there in order for the person to take recourse to some field if and when there is need for clarifications regarding the matters of the religion.

o    This is one part of the Kalaam science, but it also includes everything under the fields of Usool of Fiqh, the ways of differentiating and grading Ahaadeeth, and all other formal endeavors in codifying the Islamic religion. Whatever one wishes to call it (if they do not like the term ‘Kalaam’), it is without a doubt that the primary texts and resources of Islam cannot all be taken at the same time to be of the same worth and of the same value in terms of establishing the religion. This is why grading is made not only with respect to the authenticity of the texts, but also with respect to the words and phrases contained within such texts, which is why certain Qur’anic Verses and Ahadeeth are to be believed, followed and applied to our lives right now, and some are to be believed in, but their application is not relevant to the lives of the Muslim right now. Without a system for distilling all of the texts and grading them properly, chaos would ensue without a doubt.

o    One very simple and direct example in this field can be seen from the consideration of the part of the Verse which talks about the menstrual period of women (which says in translation): ‘…And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you.’ If there really were no gradations in that which comes in the primary texts in the form of commands (i.e. if everything that looks like an ‘Amr’ were to be taken literally with no other considerations at all), then the above would command sexual intercourse between spouses as soon as the wife is pure from her menses. And it is obvious that even for those who say they do not follow Kalaam, they will probably not take this Verse with the meaning of an unrestricted command for sexual intercourse – and in such a case, it means that they have understood the different gradations that there can be in texts, even if they take certain outer forms in their linguistic formulation.

o    Of course, again, the formulation of many things may seem exceedingly simple for you and me, but there have been “schools of information-gathering” throughout history that could not possibly have been accepted in Islam – for example, among the ancient philosophers, those who accepted only that which was in front of their eyes and could directly be perceived by the senses, and they discarded narrational information as a whole. Showing why such people are wrong is something that seem superfluous to some, but its importance will come out in certain circumstances either for the promotion and propagation of Islam, or the defense of Islam against deviants, heretics, hypocrites, etc.

o    And I do not think that anyone says that such a work (of formally codifying the religion in its Aqeedah, its Fiqh, its primary texts, etc.) is not necessary for Islam – well, at least not among the Muslims. Among the non-Muslims, like the Orientalists, it is obvious that they would have a big incentive for trying to push for the theory of the superfluity of the endeavors of Muslim scholars, since they never believed in Islam to begin with. So whoever among the Muslims states that the sciences of Kalaam in its different manifestations is unimportant or even forbidden, is in fact unwarily doing the bidding for the non-Muslim propagandists, since he is reducing Islam to an unsophisticated hodge-podge of data that needs no further study or reflection.

o     Those who are married from among the Muslims (myself included) need to remember that their spouse needs them for all sorts of things, emotionally as well as physically. From the physical side, one issue in Islam that often goes unnoticed by many of us is that one’s spouse should be the total focus of one’s lustful glances and desires. This is why – as one small example – there is the opening of the possibility of polygyny, whereas in other cultures, the males can satisfy their lusts in many different socially accepted ways apart of marriage.

o    Now, I can speak for the males when I say that the issue of lust is there at every moment for the male, and it can somehow be compared to eating: If one is a practicing Muslim but a bachelor, it is like being in a state of perpetual fasting, which has its advantages, but I doubt that most people can keep on going like this for a very long time. Then if one is married to one lady, it is like being able to eat once a day; it is enough for some people, but for certain others, they may wish to look for more through the legal means, in the same way that it is not disallowed to eat two or three meals a day.

o    But the difficulty comes up when one’s legal spouse does not pay proper attention to one or does not stay alongside one, as it is like being outside the state of ritual fasting while not being able to eat – it is obvious that such hunger will take on its ramifications if the hunger goes on for a very long time. So everyone of us who is married or hopes to get married has to keep this is mind, there are rights and responsibilities for everyone in these sorts of relationships.

o    One thing I hear from non-Muslims is that we Muslims should learn from the all the wisdom of the ancients and not be stingy in this respect. And I wonder whether what they are saying is something they really take at heart, since the ancient systems had their own worldview, their own system of considering things, and we can all rest assured that their mentality was quite different from what we may term the “modern mindset”. Since the modern mindset seems averse to wars of conquest, slavery, and other aspects of life common and even necessary in ancient times, one has to see whether the claim for us Muslims to look into the “wisdom of the ancients” in an unimpeded form is not just an attack against Islam without any real basis.

o    So it is clear that many of the non-Muslims would, if they were honest to themselves, say that the ancient world and its rules are not appropriate for today’s life. But I wonder whether what we have today is acceptable to such non-Muslims: How is it that – as was reported very recently – 46% of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a 1% elite – is this what ‘human evolution’ (as they call it) is supposed to lead to? It seems yet again, that the non-Muslim is targeting Islam and its rules simply for the sake of targeting it, and that its own worldview has many serious problems.

o    We must also notice in here that the wealth gap is increasing year by year, not decreasing…so it is very interesting to say that humanity is moving towards a stage of perfection in all its important affairs, while in the materialistic sphere [which is what is most important in the secular liberal narrative], the equality gap is so huge, and getting bigger than ever before? How is it, that, as they said just yesterday, that the 85 richest people in the world own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population? This is really something that we have to ponder about, that how can the rules made up by man himself be said to work, when the purported goal becomes farther and farther than ever before?

o    The Twelver Shia says that we have disrespected the words of the Prophet (SAW) by going to someone other than ‘Ali (RAA) and his progeny [they mean in here their ‘Infallible Imams’] for our temporal and spiritual affairs. I say that this charge of disrespect towards the Prophet (SAW) and what he said could very well be turned against the Shias themselves; for one cannot dismiss any of the sayings of the Prophet (SAW) which have reached us through authentic means. And by authentic in here I do not mean the category of ‘Saheeh’, but that which reached us through many different routes and ways, so that its truthfulness cannot be called into question.

o    The challenge then is very obvious, which is that one has to take the ‘objective’ routes for collecting information and apply it to whatever the Prophet (SAW) brought of the Qur’an and of the Sunnah, and then we can see where matters stand. The Sunni side is not shy to say that certain of the illustrious Companions may have erred in their opinions, sayings, or dealings, but when the matter is put under such contrast, as being that of ‘complete infallibility or else’, then it is obvious that anything that goes against this a priori assumption of infallibility will be brushed aside by the Twelver Shia opponent.

o    And from another angle, if the Shia is saying that there is only one person in all of humanity that should be followed insofar as he protects the message of Allah, this should have precluded any possibility of this person ever resorting to stratagems in order to ‘present’ the message to different types of people (what is generally termed as ‘Taqiyya’). Why do we see it mentioned as part of the characteristics of Prophethood that Prophets cannot at all conceal any part of the message? Because their mission is to be the guide for people at large, not only for those who believe in them, and for them to establish the proof on all of humanity. I know the Twelvers will say that the Imam is actually the guide, not the Prophet per se, but that would only strengthen our objection, for if the supposed non-Imam Prophet cannot conceal anything of the message while he is not even a guide, then what about the one who must guide people. In another way, this particular matter shows the disassembled character of the Imamate doctrine, since it is surrounded by ‘anachronistic’ principles, that have no connection with the Qur’anic passages relating to Prophets.

o    All in all, these principles are totally against what the Shias have conceived themselves, that on the one hand the ‘Imam’ is divinely protected from committing any error whatsoever, yet he is capable (and does) engage in dissimulation with the people concerning matters of the religion.

o    And we can come now to discuss the issue of ‘Imaam-related miracles’ so as to say, seeing what the Twelvers are mentioning about their religion. What happens is that if the Shia says that one person is to be infallibly believed in every single thing he says, does, and approves of. But this is not the purview of a Nass only (explicit saying that gives Imamate from one Imam to the other), but it also would need, when considered in the abstract sense, a ‘miracle’ akin to what Prophets and Messengers receive from Allah. And the reason for that is simple, since such ‘Imams’ are supposedly the exclusive guardians and perpetuators of truth, to the exclusion of everyone else. From what I can see, this is one of the very big reasons why the Sunnis would never accept the Imamate doctrine as presented by the Twelvers and other sects of the Shias, since it is a not-so-indirect claim towards the continuation of Prophethood, and this is totally unacceptable with us.

o    Besides, we Sunnis say that the spiritual efficacy of the Prophet (SAW), when considering the Hukm of his Prophethood, is still very much with us; and we believe that the Prophet (SAW) is right now, alive in his grave, as are all the other Prophets – the only difference being that Muhammad’s (SAW) Shariah is valid until the Day of Resurrection. So there is no real need for an “Imaam” to infallibly guard or protect the religion, as opposed to the community as a whole.

o    And it is very strange to think, that why would there be a total rejection of the community as a whole in favor of the single Imaam, especially since the Muslim Ummah has taken great pains to pass on the message [in terms of the Qur’an, the Ahadeeth, and their interpretations] from generation to generation. When considered in the abstract, it seems that this Imamah doctrine is antithetical to the concept of the Ummah from its very roots, regardless of who occupies the post of Imaam.

o    Another strange thing is how, in the Twelver Shia narrative, the one Imaam is made to agree to the wishes of the “evil Ummah” by means of coercion and force, in order to safeguard the Ummah (or Islam) itself. And this seems to make very little sense, since the safeguarding of the religion is up to Allah, not up to the life or death of the Imaam.  And besides, no one would argue that a mass of people should not be believed in their capacity of conveying information from one time-frame to another. Yes, there may be many arguments about how this is done, and whether the information has truly been conveyed properly, but no one can deny that the method itself is proper, allowed, and even necessary, in order for us to have any information concerning the extra-mental world and its associations in terms of words, phrases, and intelligible meanings and concepts.

o    And lastly, the Twelver Shias need their own chain of narrators, their own grading of the narrations that purportedly came from their Imaams, and so on and so forth – all of this shows that even they cannot run away from the established fact that the common people (i.e. fallible people) are very much needed in conveying what the Infallible said across generations. If their rules had been correct, all of this would have been unnecessary, since the seeker would have only needed to go to the Imaam directly to verify whatever he needed to know, or would have otherwise received a supernatural conveyance of the truth whenever he required it.

o    We see that certain people tell us that the proof for the Existence of Allah is weak, in the sense that it may prove the existence of changes occurring to bodies, but that it does not show how bodies themselves are created. But, the bodies that have changes occurring in them are by definition also in need of a Creator, since we understand from this that all of their states are not at all necessary, but only possible in existence. So how can that which is only possible in existence be necessary [or eternal, as our opponent may say]. It is clear that this body itself would be in need of a Creator not measured in terms of the space-time dimensions, in order to avoid the problems of circularity and infinite regress, and this is the same principle as we see in the ‘proof from changes to a body’.

o    If it is said that the smallest gross body (we would normally call it the ‘atom’, but the term is not important) is in fact eternal, this is again a contradiction, because we accepted that the body has changes occur to it, while the statement that it is ‘eternal’ means that there must be absolutely no change happening to it as a matter of intrinsic necessity, and we know that this is definitely not the case.

o    Besides, it is very important to remember that in Islam, we do not consider time as an ‘independent dimension in which events occur’. The simple rule is that if events do not take place, there is no time, and the analogous case can be made with space.

o    We can also see that the atom, whatever its size with each new scientific discovery, could have been in the abstract, either bigger or smaller than the minimum size we can behold right now. And as far as its length, width, etc., is concerned, this is a very important consideration, since it again shows that the size of these elemental particles is not an intrinsic necessity – much in the same way that it is not an intrinsic necessity for these elemental particles to be either moving or still, or many other of the changes and specifications we see in such particles, and in the Universe at large.

o    Whenever I see videos of soldiers’ reunions with their family members (especially the unexpected reunions), I have to ask myself, what is the bigger goal that is being promoted: is it the emotion of loved ones seeing each other after a long time apart, or is it a celebration of patriotism (almost a sort of nation-worship) that is being promoted? It seems to me that the ‘nation-worship’ issue has to be taken for granted by those who promote and publish such videos for the world to see, since one has to believe that the soldiers had set out to do some great good in the world, and now they have come back to their loved ones.

o    But we should also consider: If the military endeavors of the country in question are incorrect, what is the big deal in the military personnel coming home and reuniting with their families? Why should the family members left home feel anything but repugnancy at their relatives going to different parts of the world, and representing something that is totally wrong? Show me some videos of soldiers returning to families that do not accept the military of that country or organization to begin with, and then we can see whether the true purpose of such videos is about the country or about the families getting back again.

o    Of course, such countries would never accept it as a noble thing if the families of those fighting on the opposite side of the divide come back to their homes safe and sound, even though the ‘soldiers’ in this case are no less committed to their cause, and the families may also believe in the cause itself, as well as have a strong emotional connection to their sons, brothers, or fathers who have left their homes to fight for what they believe in. So again we have to see, what the real aim of showing such homecomings or family reunions is.

o    When I consider what is going on with the skepticism that is shown with respect to grander objectives of life, I really consider whether the people who harbor such wanton skepticism really have any set goal or objective. Because it will not be possible whatsoever to reach very far either in terms of progress or in terms of knowledge if one has unfettered agnosticism and skepticism towards every single thing, and doubts basically everything that is presented in front of him/her.

o    Allah knows best, but this seems to be one of the characteristics of extreme stubbornness, so much so that the Qur’an makes an allusion to this in Surah Al-Hijr, where it mentions (the translation of these Verses being): ‘And [even] if We opened to them a gate from the heaven and they continued therein to ascend, They would say, “Our eyes have only been dazzled. Rather, we are a people affected by magic.”’ So it is obvious that (hypothetically speaking), such people may have kept going on with their skepticism even if they were in the midst of Paradise or Hellfire itself; because not trusting that one has reached a useful limit with respect to certain things has its dangers, problems, and it leads to very real consequences.

o    And we have to understand that Islamic scholarship does allow for a healthy amount of skepticism in how we view its texts and the conclusions we can make from these texts, but it is not proper to be in a state of eternal agnosticism or eternal skepticism, and Islam does not accept this as a valid excuse, since it is in fact a sort of arrogance with respect to the physical and mental faculties that have been granted to one in order to interface with the outside world and to draw conclusions with regards to Allah the Exalted and those whom He has elevated for the purposes of Prophethood and Messengership.