Random Thoughts and Notes: Days 38-44

o    One issue that I may have discussed above, but I want to say it again, is that there is a very pressing need for the proper Islamic society to be set up, even for something that seems unrelated, such as the refutation of non-Muslims and the presentation of strong evidences for the truth of Islam. The reason for this is obvious enough, in that just as one cannot expect for the rules of a land to be put into practice and for a ‘vibrant discussion about the direction of the country’ to take place while the land is basically in a war-torn state, so one cannot expect the ‘Ulaamaa of Islam to be able to answer the different and diverse types of objections that come up from the non-Muslims while they do not have the system that can support this type of work.

o    This is one of the reasons why I think that one very little thing we can do and should strive to do is to provide funding for the traditional scholars of Islam based, in whichever way we can. I know it sounds old and tired, but if a person is not paid for his work, he will never do it, so how do we expect the ‘Ulaama to handle the complex intellectual and societal issues of the Ummah if they have to worry about feeding their families first and foremost? Granted that this ‘community support’ may have some of its own problems, but that may be mentioned at another time.

o    People claim that ‘Islam has no evidence’ for its truth. I say the evidence is the Qur’an and the other miracles that Allah gave to the Prophet . Yes, there may be secondary evidences for or against the core points of the indubitable Islamic beliefs; but, that is what they will remain as, secondary evidences, for the main evidences that establish Islam have already been set. This is not to say that we discard visual data, but even here, there is a difference between the data itself and the interpretations surrounding the data, so we should be aware of this. Besides, most professional in any given field do ‘Taqleed’ of other professionals, and this is an important part of how a serious field of inquiry works.

o    I know that this might hurt some people, and I am not a political analyst, but from what I can see, the ‘Palestinian question’ was lost the moment the Palestinians and Arabs started using the language of the Israelis. And what I mean by that is the language of secular nationalism, of the ‘nation-state’, which is something imported from ‘modern Europe’. Because at the end of the day, from this point of view, there are and will always be migrations of humans from one place to another, dislocations and counter-dislocations, any given piece of land at any given time may have people of one ethnicity, culture, and language, and if it so happens that the ‘realities on the ground’ favor the Israelis, the only option the Palestinians have is for the moral opinion of the world to force the Israelis into a political solution.

o    But we also know that the ‘realities on the ground’ will always support those who have might and power, and in truth people give very little attention to moral issues in the face of visible might and power (military, economic, etc.). This has been shown in the world so many times that it requires no difficult deliberation.

o    I know there will be those who point out certain cases when the moral authority of the people forced a change in the reality on the ground, but I seriously doubt that this will apply to the Palestinian question as long as the parameters and rules of the game are set by the Israelis/ the world community.

o    On another note, with respect to the question of moral authority versus visible economic and military might and power, this is also why having a robust, viable and active Islamic community is so important for the upkeep of the Ummah. This is also why we see so many lay Muslims feeling ashamed of being Muslims, wanting to quit Islam, and so forth – since the Muslim community as a whole is in such a weak state from many different angles.

o    Yes, the didactic proofs and evidences for Islam are there and they will always be there, but most people do not do things out of a plenitude of rationality or due to many logical proofs being presented, but most people are much more emotional in nature than what they would like to admit; and part of this emotionality is feeling uplifted when they know that the community they are part of is robust and strong, not only intellectually, but also in all facets of human endeavor. (Needless to say, unfortunately many Muslims today do not have the intellectual aptness or even the desire vis-à-vis the fundamental proofs and methodology of Islam, so even this part is lacking. And our pleas are to Allah the Exalted.)

o    The soul is said to be within the body in an intertwined manner, just as the rose water is within the rose, or in the same ways the rays are ‘connected’ to the Sun.

o    There is a discussion concerning the issue of Imaamah. It is noteworthy that not all the ‘Ulaamaa agreed that the Imaam must absolutely be the best Muslim on Earth, but that he should be strong enough in order to maintain and promote the interests and actions related to the Islamic government and lands. Besides, it is impossible to find someone who will be the best in every single facet connected directly or indirectly to Islam, so there is really no scope for those who call towards the concept of an ‘Infallible Imaamah’.

o    As mentioned by the editor, it was held by Imam al-Ash’ari (RAA) that the precedence of Abu Bakr (RAA) over the rest of the Companions is an indubitable matter – which is important, because his view about the Khilaafa is that the good one cannot become a Khalifa if there is someone better than him; but if the Shias try to use this as an evidence against us, then this is not acceptable, since al-Ash’ari also held that Abu Bakr (RAA) was indubitably better than ‘Ali (RAA) and everyone else from among the Companions. Anyway, Qaadhi al-Baaqilaani (RAA) said that the precedence of Abu Bakr (RAA) over the rest of the Companions is known through probabilistic proofs; and in any case, what is common and widespread amongst the Ummah is the precedence of Abu Bakr, then ‘Umar, then ‘Uthman (RAA), though some of the scholars did prefer ‘Ali (RAA) over ‘Uthman, but the question about this last preference is not one of the bigger issues in the religion.

o    Note the very famous speech of ‘Ali (RAA) in Kufa, where he was asked as to who was the best of people, and he mentioned Abu Bakr, then ‘Umar, then ‘Uthman (RAA), then he did not want to mention himself so he remained silent. There are many routes for this narration, and if it is assumed for the sake of argument that he said this simply to be humble in front of the people, that is something that we would have to ask those ‘Ulaamaa who hold that ‘Ali (RAA) is the best of the Companions (that is, how do they reconcile their position with ‘Ali’s (RAA)) statement. But the important thing in here is that there can be no claim of Taqiyyah, since the people would have been fooled by his statement, so how does it occur to anyone that an ‘Infallible’ can speak an apparent lie (for whatever reason) while he is basically instructing the people at large.

o    And if someone says that the people of faith would have known it was dissimulation while the rest would be unaware of it, this is a very strange claim, since it is completely tautological at its core: That is, the believers hear and understand the correct thing, while the disbelievers and deviants understand something else – and this is totally against the basis of ‘Infallibility for one person on the Earth at any given time’, since when the Hujjah is established indubitably, then the message itself is the same for everyone, so that (as the Qur’an says) ‘that those who perished [through disbelief] would perish upon evidence and those who lived [in faith] would live upon evidence’.

o    An important point of our belief is that the Prophets and Messengers are undoubtedly better than the Awliyaa’, to such a degree that the one who believes than any Wali is better than a Prophet or Messenger has left Islam.

o    There have been a huge number of sects of the Shia in the history of Islam; and this could be the main reason why the ‘Ulaamaa do not like to make a blanket Takfeer on all Shias as a rule. Consider that people belonging to any given group may change in their beliefs from generation to generation even if the appellation remains the same. This is why the Sunni scholars are more likely to say that certain beliefs, if held by anyone, will lead the believer in that point to disbelief, but they may be much more careful in making Takfeer or an entire group. Not that they will never do Takfeer of an entire group, but it definitely is much more difficult than the neo-Khaariji ‘Takfeer culture’ that we unfortunately see mushrooming in many parts of the Islamic world.

o    Yes, there were some groups of the Shia (throughout history) who even claimed Prophethood for ‘Ali (RAA) and said that ‘Ali (RAA) is better than the Prophet , and whoever said or says this is a disbeliever without a doubt. But as far as today’s Shias are concerned, except if the Sunni scholar also happens to be an expert in the Shia religion and has really studied their doctrines from their original sources, etc., he will generally not take any article or book prepared by others as an evidence to use as a basis for Takfeer, since this is simply not the way that the Sunni scholarship operates. (And besides, if the Sunni ‘Aalim sees that the Shia scholar who wrote a book has said things of disbelief in it, does it establish an indubitable connection with the ‘Shia Ummah’ as a whole? This is a question that would definitely have to be answered satisfactorily by the Sunni ‘Aalim or Mufti before he can say anything in this regard. So take note of all these things)

o    Anyway, take note that any call of Messengership or Prophethood after Muhammad is indubitably false, without a doubt. This is a very important part of our faith, so much so that the author quotes Imam Abu Yusuf (RA) as saying that even the one who asks the claimant of Prophethood for evidence to back up his claim has disbelieved, since evidence is asked when there is doubt concerning a claim, and there can be no doubt that the claimant to Prophethood after Muhammad is a liar.

o    The Tawrah was revealed to Musa (AS) after the drowning of Fir’awn; there had been ten ‘Sahaaif’ (literal translation ‘sheets’ (of a book)) revealed to Musa (AS) before the drowning of Fir’awn.

o    According to the editor, among the divine matters contained in the Tawrah, we have the following (i.e. their classifications): 1. Light 2. Guidance [This is why the Qur’an mentions (in translation: ‘Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light.’] 3. Wisdom 4. Strength 5. Legislation/Judgment 6. (The Quality of) Worship 7. The Elucidation of the Path of Felicity from the Path of Grief and a clarification of which one is higher.

o    Plus, there were two more Alwaah (scrolls) given to Musa (AS) that were not to be publicized, and these were the Lawh of Rubuubiya (Goodhood/Divinity) an the Lawh of Qudrah (Power).

o    As per the editor’s footnote, with regards to the Zabuur that was revealed to Daawuud (AS), it contained admonitions and reminders to his people, praises of Allah, and knowledge connected to the material earthly existents, including knowledge of physical sciences, logic, math, horsemanship, and it also included a section related to rulings and laws.

o    The editor mentions that the Injeel was revealed to ‘Isa (AS) in the Syriac language and read in 17 Lughah (dialects, I believe); as a general comment, he says that the Injeel only contained theological codes related to the human nature. Of course, it had nothing like the ‘Trinity’ doctrine, but rather this doctrine was something that came up due to the personal interpretations of those who applied whatever came to their minds concerning Allah the Exalted and His Messenger ‘Isa (AS).

o     According to the author, if someone were to deny a Messenger that has not been named, he would be an innovator, but not a disbeliever.

o    The most popular opinion concerning the number of Prophets and Messengers is that there were 124,000 Prophets and 313 of them were Messengers. There is also another narration that their number was 1,200,000. But the safest option is to say that we believe in whatever is from Allah, in whichever way He has sent it, and in this way we may not fall into the extreme of rejecting the one who was truly a Prophet, or of calling someone a Prophet who in reality was not a Prophet.

o    The editor mentions that this position is taken since it is better not to give an exact number, and this is because the reports where their number is mentioned are solitary reports, and the most that the best of solitary reports is probabilistic information, but this is obviously not enough in terms of establishing indubitable belief.

o    There is one important thing we have to consider about Naskh (abrogation), which is that Naskh is, so as to say, the elucidation of a change in the Shariah rules from our point of view. Thus, Naskh is not applicable for historical events mentioned in the Islamic sources, nor is it (hypothetically speaking) for those rulings that are explicitly said to be for a limited amount of time, nor for those that are explicitly said to be valid until the end of the world – since both of these types have the same type of ‘historical’ side to them [that is, we are being informed that the rule will be valid for a certain amount of time, whatever that time may be]. But of course, with Allah, He always knew that the abrogated rule would be valid only up to such-and-such time, so it is not that Allah did not know that the first legislation was not good and it later became apparent to Him, or any other similar invalid statements that are uttered by our opponents – such as what has been reported from Jews.

o    It might be argued that every ‘piece’ of divine legislation is for the benefit of the people, so how can it be that a rule that was good one day can become bad and ugly the next? To this, the answer implied by the author and many other scholars is that every legislation that has been revealed by Allah to any of His Prophets is good for that time; but then when a new legislation is revealed, then the mechanism is being set up for the outward system to be changed – and this is mostly in a gradual manner, so that the believers may not suffer sudden shocks. This is something akin to how the doctor treats his patients, by giving them different sets of medicines at different times, even if the illness is only one.

o    A very important indication is our belief that there is no Prophet after Muhammad is that there is also no Shariah after him . This is why, when something has been totally decided upon through the indubitable proofs of Islam as having to be acted upon, refrained from, etc., then it is totally incorrect for ‘new rationalizations’ to come forth and try to change such rules. The truth is that such people who call for such ‘rationalizations’ are either denying Allah outright (by saying that Allah has no right to legislate over humans) or denying that Muhammad is the last Prophet and Messenger of Allah (by implying that another Prophet has come and given us a new set of divine revelations), since the rules to be applied come only from Allah through His appointed Prophets and Messengers, not through anyone and everyone we may feel has interesting ideas.

o    Many a times, the abrogating ruling is lighter than the abrogated one, and in these cases it is a sign of compassion and Mercy from Allah. Or if it is vice-versa, then it could be a test for the believers. In any case, both the abrogated and the abrogating ruling have to be believed in (i.e., both have come from Allah the Exalted), but only the abrogating ruling is to be applied. (This is somehow similar to how the Qur’an, Tawrah, Injeel, and Zabuur have to be believed in as revelations from Allah, even if we only follow the Qur’an – each book has a time and scope of applicability, and we should not overstep the scope set by Allah due to what our own imaginations may propose to us).

o    Note that Ibn ‘Abbas’ (RAA) opinion about Mut’ah was that it was allowed if there was a Dharuura (extreme need), and not just a total allowance as the Shias maintain. In any case, the operative issue in here is that there is no living teacher from among the well-known schools of jurisprudence who hold Mut’ah to be allowed; if they had allowed it, then we would have noted this and there would be no type of acrimonious discussion with the Shia on this issue to begin with at all.

o    The ‘original’ libertarians who lived with the Muslims said that there comes a time when the worshipper or adept reaches such a height of divine love that all of the rules of Shariah drop from him (i.e. he does not have to do them), and he only has to think about Allah, and he is able to go Heaven directly by his thoughts, and so forth. But this is an ugly thing to say and disbelief, since the Prophets (AS) were never above the Shariah, and whatever of elevated positions or elevated places they reached was because Allah elevated them to that place, not because of their deeds

o    What I understand from this is that the elevation of the Prophets (AS) is always connected with Allah, so how on Earth do these libertarians think that they can ascend anywhere due to their own so-called ‘love’? And that too without doing what the Shariah has commanded them to do?

o    One thing that seems obvious, but I will mention it anyway since the author brings it up, is that the Sun, the Moon, and the stars as a whole are in the ‘Samaa’ ad-Dunya’ (i.e. the lowest Heaven), and not in the third or fourth Heaven, as some people have incorrectly said.

o    There is apparently a lot of disagreement concerning the exact identity and time period of Dhul-Qarnayn, as is obvious from the editor’s comments; I am simply mentioning this, even though it is not very important for me to delve into this right now.

o    I know I have said this before, but we see that the earlier Imaams of the Sunni schools relied mostly on Naql (what we would call the primary Islamic sources), but later on, as the necessity manifested itself, the later Sunni scholars (Ash’aris and Maturidis) derived the intellectual basis upon which the Naqli proofs stood; and from here came concepts like the ‘Jawhar al-Fard’, or that an incident does not remain in two time periods, or that another incident is not exactly like it (that is, no two objects/incidents have the exact same space-time coordinates so as to say)

o    Needless to say, we are in need of more research to be carried out by Muslim scholars into these issues and how they relate with the modern-day understanding of physics, etc., but this research cannot be properly done unless we know what our previous scholars said, so that we may understand the bigger picture.

o    Notes now are from the work ‘إعجاز القرآن’ of al-Qaadhi Al-Baaqilaani

o    The miracles that the Prophets of Allah were given were extraordinary sensory matters that could be witnessed by the people. This is important to point out for those who say that ‘Islam has no evidence’, since there are different and varied types of evidences for the Prophethood of Muhammad , in visual, aural, mental, and spiritual dimensions. The analogy is with what was given to Musa and ‘Isa (AS); of course, their miracles were for a specific people and time, while the Qur’an that was given to the Prophet was for all times and places until the Qiyaamah.

o    The eloquent Arabs knew the way in which words and their construction, their coming together could have an impact on the hearts of men – this is why they were the experts in this regard and the Qur’an came as it did to challenge them on their own basis.

o    The Qur’an’s many qualities [such as the blending of the words and their significations in a way that is not done in other works] amazed the Arabs who heard it; some believed and others disbelieved. The words of the disbelievers concerning the Qur’an were multiple, such as saying is was magic, recycled stories of old people, fabrications either in collaboration with others or without their collaboration, hallucinations, etc. But note: The truth is one and the conclusion is straight-forward, and the false roads are many and their conclusions contradictory, and this is why the Muslims say the Qur’an is from Allah, but the disbelievers cannot agree as to what the Qur’an actually is.

o    But even with whatever they tried to say against the person of the Prophet , they were unable to actually meet the challenge of the Qur’an. And the importance of this is borne out when we see the strong desire they had in quashing Islam, as well as their multitude and their eloquence. So in this circumstances, it would be much more naturally obvious for them to try to ‘destroy Islam’ by fabricating a Surah like what is found in the Qur’an, rather than risk their lives and their wealth. And this is where we discover that there is something supernatural about the Qur’an, when we see that the ‘natural’ path one would expect to be taken was not taken, but rather, the difficult and long road was taken in their attempts to destroy Islam (and of course, in here they failed as well, and there are many miracles, amazing things and lessons from this attempt of theirs as well).

o    Note that the Arabs of those times had a huge sense of pride and shame, unlike what we see with many people today, who do not care even if their parents were abused publicly.

o    Another important point is that miracles prove the Prophethood of the person from whom these miracles are witnessed; but it is impossible that they ‘prove’ Godhood, since from the rational proofs we know that it is impossible to attribute limbs and organs to God. This is why (for example) what we should say about the miracles of ‘Isa (AS) is that they proved his Prophetic call, not a call to Divinity. Absolute impossibility is not contravened with examples from among the possibilities.

o    We see that there were those in the early period of Islam, who did fancy that there were mistakes in the Qur’an, but they were very much silenced by the grandeur and strength of the Islamic Caliphate itself, so only murmurings came from their side at this time. It was after this time that such opponents became bolder, and they were able to take steps towards the outer beautification of their work, in order to try and make their works look good to the masses.

o    Of course, this shows that when there is a strong Islamic presence in the land, then the work of the enemies of Islam will be less visible, but when there is a decline, then the internal urges of the enemies of Islam will find wider, rejuvenated avenues for expression. So in this sense, it is like a never-ending struggle: It is either Islam and the presence of Islam that is visible and normative, or it is the presence of the opponents of Islam that wants to make itself felt, recognized, and then wishes to push normative orthodox Islam to the side. And this is where the importance of struggling in the cause of Allah with one’s body, time, and money comes into the picture, since it is not the Sunnah of Allah to help the people who do not wish for His Way to be robust and visibly active in the land.