Random thoughts and notes: Days 18-25

o    One matter that seems surprising about the modern-day approach to pushing the limits of humanity in what he can ‘progress’ in, and basically in unhindered accumulation of goods and pleasures, is that the lack of restraint is seen not only in spiritual and religious matters (which, since they are related to the Ghayb, may be dismissed), but even in those things related to this very visible material world. This is why developed and now even ‘developing’ countries have countries with their financial institutions underpinned by interest, with food-related health problems, even the destruction of the planet itself.

o    All of this goes back to the main problem, which is that the unfettered ego of the human can and will never say enough to the pleasures of life, not to wealth, food, industry, or the abstract notion of ‘continued progress’.

o    Here is the interesting point to be seen: Ok, the modern agnostic (and I would say that secular societies are agnostic as a matter of course), due to his philosophy, cannot see beyond the veils of the Ghayb, so they deny the afterlife and any ideology that espouses this idea. But, they can see the catastrophes and the near-catastrophes that have shaken their financial institutions, their ecosystem, and even their own bodies, but as a whole, they cannot stop themselves from always wanting more, and from trying to fix their situation while remaining within the confines of a materialistic-driven ‘ego-system’, where material progress and advancement are infinite in the abstract consideration.

o    So it seems that the problem is not just that many people are ‘agnostic’ or ‘atheists’ (whether as a matter of principle or a matter of ‘doctrine’) simply because they do not hold the proofs to be convincing, but because they subconsciously wish to be trapped within a system that promises a sort of ‘eternal paradise of advancement’ on the Earth, even as they see all the problems and calamities around them based on this system.

o    Or to put it another way, they witness that their bodies are limited (if they just eat as per the bombardment of the ads, they will die very soon, since their bodies cannot keep up), they see that the Earth is limited (it cannot keep up with rampant and unhindered industrialization), so they should take a hint from this, and see that the implementation of their personal desires cannot be unhindered, even if there is no ‘pain’ to any person. It is not correct to say that someone may have or may develop a liking for people of the same gender (and I am sure many do have this liking or may develop it very easily), and so this natural inclination should lead to something whereby they can implement their desires at will. Or even forget the ‘same’ gender, who said that one’s desires towards the opposite gender should lead to permitted premarital intercourse? This connection is simply not established.

o    Granted that the above is not the ‘logical’ way to present the applicability and correctness of Islam, but sometimes things have to be presented in different ways.

o    May of the heretics and deviants say that, if God is the creator of every event, including our deeds, and even our thoughts and intentions, then why is He then not held responsible instead of us? There are many things to say about this, but some of them are as follows: 1. The deeds performed by man are neutral in recompense until the Sharia is revealed and attaches good and evil tags to them. But Allah Himself is not bound by the Shariah; Allah is above the Shariah and above being judged. 2. We can say that Allah shows Mercy to some of His Creation (i.e. He enters them into Paradise), and His Wrath falls upon some of His Creation (i.e. He enters them into the Hellfire), and this is enveloped within the sheath of responsibility for man, of good versus evil actions bound by the Shariah. In this sense, the man’s adherence or lack thereof to Allah’s Orders is a manifestation of Allah’s Will with respect to that person. Of course, the most important ‘adherence’ being the state of the person when he dies (either in faith or in disbelief), and his eventual Eternal dwelling place in the Hereafter is judged/meted out accordingly. 

o    By the way, this realization should make us feel the Majesty and Power of Allah; it is only the inciting ego which asks such types of question like ‘why isn’t Allah judged instead of us’, and other baseless questions.

o    When we talk about the Madhaahib of Islam, we are saying that there are 4 currently extant methods to get to the answers in Islamic law, each with their own rules; if these rules are forsaken or belittled, the discussions on Islam will become a free for all, with everyone chiming in with their own (most likely baseless) opinion. And it is clear that this is the exact hope of the non-Muslim, that we just lose all of the Islamic tradition while clamoring for ‘reform’.

o    The book notes are now from the work (‘بحر الكلام’).

o    Some have said that Allah is hidden in His Dhat, manifest in His Sifaat – will have to ask what this means in the strict academic sense, since I have not found the explanation for it yet.

o     We have to know that the intellect is something that distinguishes man from beasts. This is why today’s relentless skepticism about the meaning of life is really very sad, since it would seem to push man back to the level of animals, who eat and do their needs, but have no real objective…and what is the difference between having no idea about what an objective is, and being continually uncommitted to a basic objective?

o    The scholars of Islam looked at man’s cognizance once in consideration of the Usool of the religion, and once in consideration of its Furoo’. As far as the Usool is concerned, it was termed by many ‘Ulama as the ‘Fiqh al-Akbar’ in the sense that cognizance of the Aqeedah and of Allah the Exalted is the great understanding, the great comprehension. And the knowledge of the practical matters of Islam is known as the ‘Fiqh al-Asghar’. For how can it be that a capable ‘Aalim or Mufti reaches the heights of knowledge about the practicalities of Islam, while being ignorant of Allah the Exalted Himself…this would be a very strange state of affairs!

o    We should be careful to keep a balanced approach with respect to the utilization of reason, not neglecting it fully, but not applying it where it should not be applied (like in trying to derive the rulings of the Shariah only by ‘Aql and nothing else).

o    We see that Ibrahim (AS) was a great debater, for this is how he was able to defeat Nimrud in debate. And from this we see that arguing with the disbelievers, when done in the correct manner, is something that is definitely allowed (for how could a Prophet of Allah do something forbidden?). And there is another proof of this in the Qur’an in the context of refuting the total negative statement of the Jews (when they said that Allah does not reveal anything to humans, in their anger at the Prophet ) with an instance that refuted their claims (by mentioning that it was Allah who revealed the book to Musa (AS)).

o    We should remember that the Shahadah itself (La Ilaaha Illa Allah) contains many secrets within it, in the sense of pointing to the Oneness of Allah, His Distinction from the Creation, His being the Sole Creator and Regulator of the Universe, and many other secrets. I believe many of these are included in the final sections of the commentary of Tuan Guru on the Umm al-Baraahin, for those who are interested in this matter.

o    Based on the mind, there are two types of knowledge we acquire: ‘Dharuuryy’ (prerequisite, obligatory) knowledge, and ‘Kasabyy’ (acquired) knowledge. The first is what is gained spontaneously, without discursive reasoning and lengthy thinking (like we know that a triangle has three sides and it cannot be other than that).

o    Now, the ‘Kasabby’ knowledge is what is gained after thinking, contemplation, etc. And this in turn is of two types, what is termed ‘matters of the mind’, and the second ‘matters of hearing’. The matters of the mind are of two types, that which is known after reasoning as the necessities of the mind, and what is known after reasoning as the ‘evidences’ of the mind.

o    Among the first category, we have the Oneness of Allah the Exalted [and this is absolutely necessary, even though it takes some time to figure this out after reasoning, etc.]. And among the second category, we have the sending of Messengers of Allah, which is a contingently necessary truth, since its occurrence depends on the existence of a contingent world, of a certain way of the world to manifest itself, so that miracles are seen as extraordinary events, etc. Note that this is a truth like the truth of Allah’s Existence (in that we must accept both of them from the Islamic viewpoint), but only the category of its existence is different.

o    Whatever one might say concerning the irrefutability of rational proofs, the truth is that the rational proofs (both about the Existence of Allah and about the truth of the Qur’an) can make one reach the gate of salvation, but to enter the gate one needs Imaan, which is a light placed in the heart by Allah the Exalted. Without this, there is no hope for the person, even if the mind is fully convinced. Besides, even a moment of anger can make the greatest scholar fall out of Iman and spoil his religion – what do we think is the situation of Iblis, who do doubt is very knowledgeable?  On the other hand being humble and wanting to follow the truth cannot be fully realized without at least a basic knowledge of truth from falsehood and a basic mental consideration of where truth ends and falsehood begins. So we need both knowledge and humility, not only one of them.

o    If we sit down and think about Hellfire and Paradise, we see that either one or the other is inevitable for man. This is something like what we see with respect to time: Time’s forward movement is inescapable, so it is best to become enlivened and resolve to do something, rather than sit wailing as to why time is moving forward. Likewise, there is no point in questioning why Allah created Paradise and Hellfire, and getting so deeply involved in the philosophical side of this…one should simply realize that they should stand up, or rather run, and do their job in order to gain rewards in the present world and in the Afterlife. It is in fact a very simple way of looking at things, even though there are so many people who would rather sit down and lament as to why things have been created in a certain way as opposed to another.

o    The scholars of Islam differed as to whether the knowledge one has of Allah is of the ‘spontaneously-arrived-at’ necessary knowledge, or whether it is that necessary knowledge that comes after consideration of evidences, etc. And it was said by one of the leading scholars that the way to bring both positions together is to say that this knowledge is arrived at spontaneously from the mental point of view, and needs evidences and their consideration from the ‘gross sensory’ viewpoint. [The position of it being implanted within the person is borne out by the Hadeeth about the ‘Fitra’, and also from the Verse that mentions the ‘Alust’ covenant].

o    It might very well be said that today’s agnosticism and atheism contradicts the above. But from what I see, it is the person’s desire not to have any overriding rules binding on him that many times leads him towards a declaration of agnosticism or atheism. Thus, it is a matter of the ego becoming bloated. Had such people been able to do so, they would have also denied the existence of rules and regulations in the nation-state they are living in, and would have tried to cheat their way to the very top of the social hierarchy.

o    But as far as their existence on this material Earth is concerned, they can feel with their senses that there are many blockages and that they cannot achieve this at all, so they fall into line. But with respect to the results in the Afterlife, these are encompassed by the language concerning the ‘Ghayb’ (the Unseen), so they simply deny the Unseen. It is not a rationally-based rejection at all, but rather one that is fully directed by their internal desires of their Nafs (i.e. their ego).

o    Just to mention this matter in another way, we see that so many people try to achieve total escape from the world through drugs and alcohol. Here they are, in a world they cannot possibly deny exists before their eyes, and yet they are trying to mentally disengage from the truth. So what about the case of the world that has been veiled from us, can we not see that there will be so many people denying the existence of the Creator of that world and of this world. So this seems to be the main problem, not the ‘evidence’ or the ‘proofs’ in and of themselves.

o    There are four questions (or investigations) to be answered when considering the Existence of Allah: 1. The Existence of this Being (Is He?) 2. What is his genus (What is He?) 3. What differentiates him from the rest of the creation (What type of thing is he?) 4. A question about the goal (Why is He so?). From what I understand, I would say these are very general skeleton questions, and by the time we het even to the second question (if we really understood the answer to the first question), we would know that Allah exists, but that He is not of a genus, type, or form.

o    One important point mentioned is that to get to the full Yaqeen (certainty) through the mind is impossible. And from what I understand, this is because any excuse can be presented as a contradiction, especially by those who have a sickness in their hearts. For example, someone may say that there is no need to hold on to the impossibility of contradictions, that why do we not adopt a ‘paralogical system of reasoning’ when talking about the Existence of Allah, and thus they try to derail all conversations about this matter. It is obvious that not all of the various objections can be listed, much less categorized and refuted, but let us just remember what I had mentioned earlier about the deeper ego problem that people who resort to agnostic non-referentiality really have, and which we must really be careful not to fall into.

o    Before I move on, there was one interesting comment I read recently by an American scientist who is also a Congressman, where he said that politicians can learn from scientists, in that science as a discipline is not as dogmatic as politics, and that it only makes provisional conclusions that may be modified as the evidence demands.

o    There are a number of things that strike me about this comment. First of all, politicians are some of the most malleable people in the world, and they will very much change their positions based on what would secure them most votes and more influence in the halls of power. But this is a separate thing. If we were to take this comment of the scientist-politician at face value, it would mean that science can never ‘prove’ anything, since its state of information and its state of conclusions will always be ‘provisional’ ad infinitum. This seems to be a metaphysical position, so how can any Muslim today say that the Qur’an or the Ahaadeeth have been ‘proven’ by modern science. We might say at most that the provisional conclusions of modern research seem to corroborate the Islamic account, but this is at most a curious footnote, rather than a real ‘proof’.

o    This is one thing, and the second issue is that what would happen if, in the future, the very methods of science itself would show that the types of tools and measurements that were being applied to collect previous scientific data were in fact incorrect or inadequate? Would science have to be rebuilt from scratch, and could that ever even be feasible?

o    There is one thing I wanted to speak about from a very general viewpoint, and maybe tie to the Islamic perspective in the future. In connection with the above points, we can also consider the different potential mindsets driving any given scientific endeavor. We know that the scientific and technological based modern revolution in the world is for the most part dependant on a North American and European based mindset about how the world works. We would have to wonder what would happen if the same ‘raw data’ (at different stages in the line of ‘scientific progress’) were to be placed in the hands of people from vastly differing cultures and mindsets, what the ‘scientific road taken’ would be in each case. We can suppose that it would show that the ‘progress of science’ is not such an objective endeavor (in the culturally disinterested sense of the word ‘objective’), but that a number of plausible narrations may be derived from an initial point of departure. These are some preliminary issues in their infancy that come up in this regard, and which obviously do need more research and consideration. 

o    For those who say that Wisdom is established for all the actions of Allah, this is in the sense of a benefit that goes back to the creation itself, not that Allah gains any benefit with anything He creates. And also, there is no concept of an obligation upon Allah to give benefit to anything He creates, in the sense that this hypothetical obligation would restrain him, or that His Perfection would be tied to His giving benefit to the creatures, since that would contradict Allah’s Perfection.

o    One thing we see in the case of Fir’awn and even Nimrud (the king at the time of Ibrahim (AS)) is that, unlike other disbelievers who did not accept that Allah sent Messengers, these kings did not accept the Existence of Allah to begin with; in the case of Fir’awn this was very blunt, when he asks Musa (AS): ‘What is the Lord of the worlds?’ (the interpretation for this can be seen in for example, Tafseer Ibn Khatheer). Allah knows best, but these types of attitudes from the kings of the past seems to have a connection to what we see today of the rise of atheism and agnosticism, and that it is simply the human beings thinking themselves as akin to absolute kings on this Earth, and that there is no one or nothing that can get in the way of their progress projected onto a limitless future.

o    Thus, the secularist may say that the religious person is wallowing in ignorance about the natural order of things in the world, but if cognizance of the natural world leads to a fallacy such as what we see in terms of agnosticism and atheism, then something is really wrong in the way that information is collected and processed by those who walk towards agnosticism, and similar metaphysical doctrines.

o    We note that there are certain things that are obligatory as per the Shariah, and there are certain prerequisites (such as the application of sound thinking, sound senses, and trusting what is consecutively mass narrated) in order to gain knowledge of these obligatory rulings. So these prerequisites are in fact also obligatory, knowing how they are to be used is essential, and they cannot be dismissed as mere ‘Greek philosophy’.

o     It has been said that there are differences between the Ash’ari and the Maturidi doctrines, but these are mostly linguistic or conceptual differences when we consider the issue in depth, such as the definition of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ in spiritual matters.

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5 thoughts on “Random thoughts and notes: Days 18-25

  1. Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Is there any explicit evidence Nimrod and Firaun were atheists? I mean, it seems quite likely to me, but how can we be sure? What do the Mufassiroon say about the matter?

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    • Salam Alaykum,

      I am not so sure about the ‘strict atheism’ as understood today can be derived from this, since they accepted godhood for themselves but denied it for Allah. Anyway, just as two quick examples from the Tafseer, this can be seen from the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer (RA) on Verse 2:258

      http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=7&tSoraNo=2&tAyahNo=258&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1

      and also in Verse 26:23

      http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=7&tSoraNo=26&tAyahNo=23&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1

      and also from Imam ar-Razi’s Tafseer of Verse 26:23 [as being some of the listed opinions, you will notice that ‘strict atheism’ is not necessarily implied]

      http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=4&tSoraNo=26&tAyahNo=23&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1

      and it has also been mentioned in a number of other texts as well.

      Just one example from the paper ‘Concerning Tawhid’ (p.3) [http://muslimanswersfiles.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/divisionstawhid-qari.pdf]:

      Tawhīd al-Rubūbiyya means to believe that Allāh is the only One who has the power of creation; and He alone has the [absolute] power to dispense in the universe, to grant and to withhold. Most polytheists towards whom the messengers were sent, particularly our prophet Muhammad (SAW), believed in this type of tawhīd, as proven by the verse mentioned by al-Qārī above. Al-Qārī says: “in spite of the recognition of this Unity by all the infidels …” even though many of them like Nimrud and Fir’awn did not accept this Unity of Lordship either. Therefore, my alteration ‘most infidels …’ is more accurate.

      Of course, this is just a quick mention, and I would need to check with the ‘Ulaamaa if there are more in-depth questions about this.

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      • Ouch. I’m about to (restart) learning Arabic. I had a binge a few years years ago during the summer, but there isn’t much time now since I’m in college. Make dua for me. So I don’t have any idea of what that says.

        Anyways, what I meant by atheism was denying the existence of Allah aza wa jal. Alhamdulilah for English translations.

        1)The wording is a bit confusing here (http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=136), but from what I can gather, Nimrod may have denied the existence of Allah aza wa jal. He explained that he gives life and he gives death in the sense that he executes or pardons whoever he wills. It seems obvious this fool of a king knew his physical limitations, but failed to ascribe the ultimate giving of life and death to Allah aza wa jal, and it seems, may not even have acknowledged that Allah aza wa jal exists.

        Which begs the question, if Nimrod denied the existence of Allah aza wa jal, what is it that he did believe??? Did he assume that these are just processes and that there was no deeper meaning? The even bigger question is who he thought created the universe. Of course, he might have been so heedless, he really didn’t care, just like most people today don’t seem to care, or he may have held some of the beliefs.

        Also, I know that polytheistic religions of the past had beliefs where basically the universe sprang into being in this way or another. So it could be that that was his faith.

        2)The other belief system I can think Nimrod may have had is that Allah aza wa jal did create the universe, but he didn’t deserve to be worshiped(therefore, denying that Allah aza wa jal is ilah), and that Allah didn’t have any part in the workings of the universe.

        3)Or, maybe he knew Allah aza wa jal had full creation and control over everything, and was just denying it out of sheer arrogance………..

        But for now the first seems to be the most likely(to me.) May Allah aza wa jal guide us to the truth and what benefits us.

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    • With regards to Nimrud, the reason given that I happened to read in one of the Tafseers that he became arrogant when he was given the kingdom. From (http://www.classicalislamgroup.com/index.php?view=tafseer/s2-v258) we read:

      ———————–
      The verse refers to Namrud, the emperor of Babylon, who denied the very existence of God and had a debate with Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S) on this issue. Allah has given him political power over a large territory. He should have been grateful to his Lord. But, on the contrary, his political power inflated him with pride and arrogance; he started denying the very existence of Him. It is in this context that the Holy Qur’an says: ‘the one who argued with Ibrahim about his Lord, because Allah had given him kingship.”
      ————————

      There are some other things mentioned in the commentaries, such as that Nimrud may have held on to the belief of the ‘Hulooliyah’ who believe that the ‘Divine Spirit’ permeates the bodies of certain persons, or that the second evidence of Ibrahim (AS) was actually a continuation of the first – and this might point to a refutation of the fallacy of positivist naturalism/astrology – but the discussion on them is a little bit long in some of the Tafseers, and there is a lot of back and forth as to what these two evidences from Ibrahim (AS) meant in the context of Nimrud’s argument. Of course, an argument presented to the opponent in public is one thing, and what one may be convinced of internally may be something totally different (and what one believes may not even be coherent in any sense), which is why the stop may be made at ‘arrogance’ and ‘heedlessness’ as the reasons for Nimrud’s questions.

      About Fir’awn, this is also one of the possibilities mentioned (that he had huge authority in the land, and thus he started to believe that all existence revolved around him). But there are also some other possibilities mentioned at times, such as that he may have been of the ‘Dahriyya’ who believed that all the Universe works ‘self-caused’ so as to say, or from those philosophers who believe that the material ’causes’ have areal positive impact on their effects, or from the ‘Hulooliyah’. [From: http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=4&tSoraNo=26&tAyahNo=23&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1 ]

      But one thing we should always remember is that when people are bloated with pride and arrogance, they do not necessarily use logic to ‘reason’ with the one who comes with the truth, and this is why what is mentioned as to the ‘what exactly did these kings believe in’ is a matter of probability, of a secondary discussion on this matter.

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