Random Thoughts and Notes: Days 395-436

  • With regards to the claimants of Sufism who say that the Shariah is not essential or important, the interesting things is that they totally forget that Tasawwuf is meant to “erase” your ego and in this case, this means the ego towards thinking that you are some sort of individual absolute entity with the right (or the inalienable right to use Western terns) to dictate what your Shariah, your laws, or your way ought to be; rather, the whole point is to “lose yourself into unquestioned obedience of Allah the Exalted”, and not to lose yourself into obedience of your own invented Shariah or rules. If only the last case prevails, then in fact absolutely no spiritual progress of any kind has been made, but rather, much external and internal harm has been caused to one’s own self.

  • Or if we look into this matter in a slightly different way, it is the inner struggle to make one’s inner heart be totally content with Allah’s Orders, both the Normative Orders (those related to the Shariah) and the Creative Orders (those related to Allah’s Creating). It is obvious then, that anyone who tries to repackage this into terms of fluffy spiritualism without a foundation in Shariah and Aqeedah is really not that different from the hard-hearted Munaafiq (hypocrite) who does the best of deeds outwardly while not believe anything of Islam in his heart – one is the mirror image of the other, so we should be aware.
  • People ask as to why do we have such a high proportion of “backward, illiberal village dwellers” within Muslim countries, why can we not try to progress and to become a nation of urbanized, economically sophisticated people? Allah knows best, but one answer to this could be that Islam is too kind, and Allah is too Merciful, to tell the poor people, the simple persons from the village, from the jungle, or from the desert, that Allah does not want you to be saved, that the “Islamic body” will not accept you until and unless you make the transition from poor villager to economically-sophisticated urbanite. Yes, perhaps this is the message that those in control of the modern world may wish to give to others, but Islam goes way beyond the “dominant conditions” in the early 21st Century, and makes a conscious effort to include people from very many different types of backgrounds, of different social and economic categories, the main principle in their acceptance within the community of Muslims being that they should accept certain tenets of faith.
  • What there needs to be from our learned people is the ordered and systematic “pulverization” of the sayings of our opponents, in order to analyze whether what is being said is following a certain logical route, or is more based on emotion and ad hoc rules. We normally tend to think that people are speaking “logical sense”, and while this is true in certain parts of speech, in other cases there is unruly combination between emotions and logic, not only from the non-Muslim opponent, but even from the Muslim answering the objections of the non-Muslim.
  • We see that the number of core points to be discussed about the “truth of Islam” as a topic of discussion are in fact comparatively few, and everything else is either a sub-branch of these main topics, or else it is frankly irrelevant. Just as one example, we Muslims say that what a human is allowed to do or not is determined by Allah the Exalted (what in modern-day parlance would be called “human rights”).
  • In order to establish a given “human right” then (or to establish its non-existence), we only have to establish (1) The Existence of Allah without a doubt, (2) the truth of Muhammad’s (ﷺ) Prophethood without a doubt, and (3) The indubitability of the existence or non-existence “right” or under discussion from the point of view of reliable transmission from the sources of Islam.
  • And if anyone has studied how this is presented in Islam, he would know almost immediately that the presentation is extremely, in fact strictly, logical. Thus, once Point 1 above is proved, then objections to this are “shut down” so as to say while moving on to Point (2) [since there is no real benefit in inserting irrelevant digressions in our discussions, it simply wastes our time and leads to unnecessary confusion as well]. And so on with Point 3 when Point 2 has been shown to be true.
  • The issue we are facing today is that the attacks on Islam come from any and all sides without following a logical sequence and the sequence of points referred to above, and in fact most of the time the attacks are based on ancillary issues that are brought up, which even if true could not show that Islam is incorrect.
  • For example, the “heated question” of polygamy in Islam, which has always been around since Westerners began to interact with Islam. If we wish to show the objection in this case as a logical presentation, it should go something like this: (a) It is known without a doubt that polygyny is evil, since it impugns upon the rights of women (b) Since God cannot impugn upon the rights of women, either i) God is not the legislator of this rule or ii) The God of Islam is weak in his deductive reasoning capabilities (c) Thus, the God if Islam is not the true God, and Islam is not a true religion.
  • But of course, the Muslim theologians never acceded to the point that avoidance of polygyny is an indubitable right of women; and to go a step further, we did not agree that either men or women have an intrinsic right to anything, including their lives.
  • On this second point, the reason is that Allah is not obliged to keep a certain person alive at a certain point of time, but it is His decision as to whether the person lives or dies in the very next moment.
  • Concerning the first point, even when the person is alive, the only necessary “rights” one can deduce from this are with regards to those characteristics that keep him/her alive, such as occupying space, time, or whatever other dimensions gross bodies occupy. However, anything else, such as mental happiness, freedom, or liberty is superadded, and there is no reason why it should necessarily be tied to either Allah’s Creative Will or His Normative Will. We can see then that the logical progression simply does not follow in this case due to probabilistic assumptions being presented as indubitable.
  • Then, there is also the discussion of how Allah’s Normative Will is tied to a future residence of responsible creatures in Paradise or Hellfire. But if the opponent believes that there is no Hereafter, then this is another root assertion which figures very greatly in the opponent’s formulation of objections against Islam, while we reject this fundamental assertion. [And this is so, because we see the rule concerning polygyny as part of a larger system that is to be followed in order for the Muslim to enter Paradise; yet the opponent believes there is no Hereafter, and is in a way trying to strong-arm his materialist point of view while brushing aside the salvific nature of the Shariah for the Muslim.]
  • Note always that defects in a being imply that they are acquired; thus, one of the main reasons why it is impossible to attribute defects to Allah is because Allah does not acquire defects, and what is connected to acquisition, such as time, change, increase and decrease in qualities, etc.
  • Someone asked me what I am not saying much about the whole uproar that is going on in the world, with the shootings in Europe, then the subsequent rise in Islamophobic feelings in many places, and as a continuation of this, what this has to in terms of acts of vandalism and arson on Muslim places of worship, and even physical attacks, including murders, of Muslims living in the West.
  • What I can say is: Firstly, there is an issue of civilizational conflict; I cannot in good faith say that we Muslims and the non-Muslims of various ideologies share the same ideological and cosmological outlook, since this is a very misleading statement when it comes to the reality of the situation.
  • This is why I say that Muslims must always find the point of bifurcation, we must find the location where Islam starts saying that the preference has been set on one side of the scale over the other: if we can really understand that Islam gives the supreme right of legislation to Allah the Exalted and consider Him as the Lawgiver, then at least we have a clear view concerning questions of importance routinely directed at us. (Concerning the use of the term Lawgiver for Allah, this is something routinely seen in the books of Islamic theology and jurisprudence; no one in good faith can say that the consideration of Allah as the Lawgiver is absent from our tradition, or that there is, in the absolute sense, a division between the human beings and Allah as joint Lawgivers – this is alien to Islam).
  • And I think that yes, one of the major problems that Muslims, both converts and non-converts (perhaps this latter category even more so), are trying to construct a ‘theory of Sharia’ using building blocks that are alien to Islam altogether. It is true that we must understand the world we are living in and we must make strides in trying to give Muslims as much honor as we can, but we need to understand that the ‘modern secular framework’ presupposes atheism (or at most Deism, a belief in a ‘hand-off’ spiritual presence far removed from manifesting His Will through Prophets, etc.), and such a mindset cannot be brought together with Islam at its fundamental, base level.
  • In a sense, I think the secular countries have intuited this difference for quite some time now, which is why they are pushing ever so harder for Muslim groups living within their borders, not only to denounce physical extremism and terrorism, but also to acquiesce to the overarching worldview of these secular countries. This is because they have comprehended that there is a fundamental difference in worldview, and are using their superior position in order to consolidate the base upon which their countries are based. (I see this as a natural action from their side given their beliefs, but the question remains as to why we do not cognize this difference and start constructing ways to drive our beliefs across.)
  • A consequence of this (perhaps direct, perhaps indirect) has been that now “Islam” is presented as being defined by the “community of Muslims” in an almost democratic way. This is in fact very wrong, since it takes the establishing of Islam away from being a technical endeavor in need of trained professionals, to being the opinions and feelings of Muslims who, even when zealous and sincere, cannot avoid the pitfalls that amateurism brings forth.
  • Sadly, we are past the stage where Orientalist scholars or trained professionals in other fields would tell us what Islam is; now, the opinions of any Muslim, even teenagers, are paraded as formal definitions of what Islam is or of how the Muslim community must move forward. Nowadays, anyone can open an organization with a fancy name [say like, “Muslims in favor of Legalized Incest”], and they will get an audience to support them somewhere, and to rile against supposed “old, gray-haired men who wish to keep power over the Muslim community to themselves”.
  • One weakness everyone has, but which is particularly dangerous for Muslims to exhibit, is our tendency to be disorganized in what we do and how we acquire knowledge. There will be times when one should relax and not worry about many things, and there are other times when one cannot carry out organized actions, or cannot gain formal knowledge. But if this becomes the norm, we must not be surprised if every other nation or Ummah surpasses us in every field of endeavor, sometimes surpassing us even in the amount of Islamic information they have with themselves.
  • Note that Islam has been under attack for a very long time, indeed since the very beginning of is emergence; but then, the attackers come and go, while Islam remains.
  • We are asked many times about the Islamic concept of expansionism and total allegiance. If we look at the matter indirectly, the secular liberal paradigm also forces one to accept it absolutely, and it does have several different ways in which it attempts to spread its ideology as far as it practically can, including military force whenever feasible, if political or economic pressure has proved insufficient. At the end of the day, we should ask, what is the imperative reason due to which martial force is said to be excluded from the range of options on the table for an ideology to expand?
  • The practical, observable truth is that this method has definitely never been rejected by any nation or empire strong enough that believes it can effectuate changes for its own benefit. The regions where these changes can take place, and the material commitment that can be put into such efforts will change from nation to nation, but the fundamental rule is that military commitment to effectuate changes and to mold the world to one’s desire is an option today as it was in the past.
  • If someone ask that how do we compare the modern-day Salafi groups alongside proper Islamic scholarship, one analogy given was that of the pyramids in Egypt and the tent: It is as if the Salafis have gone to Egypt and seen the pyramids, and said that this is all a waste of scholarship, or an innovation, etc., and that they will show us the true architectural marvel: But they only set up a tent besides the pyramids, holding this up as the paragon of truth while claiming that the pyramids are false.
  • Some people ask that, do we not need to have doctors, engineers, and scientists in the Muslim polity, that why are the “backward Mullahs” not understanding this fact, this religious obligation upon the community?
  • From what is observed, and Allah knows best, many a times this statement is a cover to hide the fact that the questioner simply wants to make money with his career. Besides, the truly obligatory knowledge that a Muslim must pursue is the one related to personally obligatory notions of faith and obligatory actions of the religion.
  • There are three noteworthy issues in this context: Firstly, many of the Muslims who study medicine, engineering, computer programming, etc., remain in communities that have an overabundance of such professionals even before they begin their studies; it cannot be said that they are filling a pressing need by taking up such careers.
  • Also, many times the communities such professionals eventually stay in are non-Muslim communities. Sure, we Muslims should work to make the world at large a better place, but if there really is a need for Muslim engineers or doctors within the Muslim communities, then can’t the migration be done to these places, so that the humanitarian assistance they wish to provide may be materialized?
  • However, the third point is the most important: Many of these Muslim doctors, engineers and other specialists do not even know the personally obligatory matters in ‘Aqeedah or Fiqh (so one wonders, where this sudden concern for fulfilling ancillary duties of Islam arose, when the obligatory ones have yet to be fulfilled?). This is also the very reason why if any of these persons do graduate and excel in their fields, they may be “picked up” by various non-Muslim organizations or governments, even for purposes that go specifically against the tenets of Islam and the benefit of Muslims (so again, where did the desire for helping Islam go in this case?)
  • On a related note, concerning the issue of “girls’ education” in Muslim-majority countries, I would say: Yes, it is imperative for girls and women to learn what is basic for their lives. But here again, the disagreements between us and the callers to women’s education become clear: We say that it is absolutely essential for them to learn the fundamentals of Islam in terms of belief and practice, we acknowledge that there will be problems in the girl’s and woman’s life if this knowledge is not learned (this is common between Muslim men and women, and in some cases the Muslim man’s responsibility may be even greater).
  • Anyway, it does not seem that the “liberal” opposition sees eye-to-eye with us concerning these fundamental notions of Islam that must be taught. Because, to take one point from this, one goal of education is to empower the students to become an effective part of the progressing economy. But we know that this may not always happen in the world (due to recessions, low quality of education, incompatibility between the education received and the job market, etc.), and within Islam there is no hard rule which says that the economy of the society must progress at all costs (so that there would be a need for a student-class to continuously drive this progress).
  • Or to bring up another case, we normally see a heightened level of competition and individualism stemming from the modern-day educational system. I would say that this is a direct product of the Western paradigm of the individual and of humanity as the great arbiter in the world, and what is related to this of individual human rights of movement, thought, speech, and similar language.
  • Again, while Islam might agree with a number of the specific points brought up, yet the paradigm itself is rejected, and even the style of education which promotes competition as a harbinger of economic progress would be unacceptable. In these cases then, the opposition is trying to establish action based on rules that do not really exist within Islam.
  • A further question is asked, that would we really take our children out of the school system, if we feel with certainty that their Islamic notions are under threat? To this, the simple answer is yes. To explain, one has to have a clear goal concerning of what he wishes to achieve in his own person and for those who are under his guardianship. If the ultimate goals clash with certain items or circumstances that are placed in front of one, then the ultimate goals always take precedence. [After some thought, I had written something about this issue some time back, in the following link.]
  • It seems that one of the reasons why many religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, or Taoism have an anti-realist bent in many of their forms is because they are trying too hard to understand the nature of the soul itself. It is known that Buddhism says that the soul does not even exist, but then again, this seems to be extremism in the opposite way, a direct contradiction to what Hinduism puts forth about the eternality of the soul and its non-distinction from the absolute.
  • All this, while in Islam the Qur’anic Ayah is that we have not been given much knowledge of the soul, and that it is from the command of our Lord. We may add to this the fact that we need to nourish it by connecting with Allah the Exalted. However, the obsession with trying to find out complex realities behind the soul is frowned upon, especially for the common Muslim.
  • So yet again, we see that Islam adopts a middle approach: It does not exaggerate in the value of the material world or that of the spiritual world, so that we do not become materialist atheists or anti-realist spiritualists.
  • The nature of property is such that one can do with his property whatever he wishes. If I have a pen and I throw it away, from the point of view of property rights, no one can chide me as to why I am throwing something that is mine away…this rough analogy is important when we discuss Allah the Exalted’s dominion over His Creation: He has the full right to put whoever He wills in Paradise, and whoever He wills in Hellfire, and no one can ask as to why it was actualized in this manner.
  • Allah knows best, but it seems that if the person can understand this and accept it in his heart, he will definitely correct his ways through the conscious following of the Islamic religion. Otherwise, he will definitely be either severely confused about matters of Islamic Law, Islamic eschatology, etc., or he might even leave Islam because he thinks himself comparable to Allah the Exalted.
  • It is mentioned that the Awliyaa’ of Allah are hidden, even amongst those who are currently non-Muslims. Thus, it is appropriate for us, whenever we call people to Islam, to do it with the supposition that the person we are talking to is potentially better than us. Thus, we should make the recipient of Da’wah feel at ease, to feel that he is respected by the caller to Allah, and that perhaps Allah will open the eyes of his heart for Islam and make him excel in this matter.
  • Animals can be convinced with ‘Ayn al-Yaqeen (the direct access to the truth itself; the analogy is being in front of the fire, and being able to see it and even touch it in order to gain certainty of the fire’s existence); yet humans are a higher creation, and humans should also be convinced with ‘Ilm al-Yaqeen (knowledge that points to the truth; the analogy is smoke pointing to the existence of fire). On the Resurrection Day, the excuse that one was not directly face to face with the realities that Allah required belief in will not be accepted, since humans are a noble creation and make use of their higher faculties for everything they do in this world, and should have done so with regards to the world of the Ghayb (unseen) as well.
  • When the non-religious rich people die, many times they give their money and estates to universities, so that their name and legacy will continue. This means that Allah has placed within everyone a desire to go on after his physical death, but without belief in the Hereafter, its manifestation is truly strange, such as a plaque or statue in front of the department of a university –this is the highest manifestation of the person’s “Hereafter”.
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4 thoughts on “Random Thoughts and Notes: Days 395-436

  1. I asked the brothers at Asharis assembles this, but i wanted to ask you this as well;

    Salaam,
    Sorry to bother you with this question, but it has been on my mind and really bothering me of late,
    Out of curiosity how do we reconcile Q 12/65:

    “Then when they opened their baggage, they found their stock-in-trade had been returned to them. They said: “O our father! What (more) can we desire? this our stock-in-trade has been returned to us: so we shall get (more) food for our family; We shall take care of our brother; and add (at the same time) a full camel’s load (of grain to our provisions). This is but a small quantity.”

    With the fact that camels were domesticated much later around 930 BCE, when the story of Yusuf was around 1630 BCE?

    Also how should we respond to the reduction of many of the stories of the Qur’an to mere fairy tales with out any historical significance, like the story of Solomon? What is the stance of the scholars on the historicity of the stories within the Qur’an? I have heard from some scholars that if we find any contradictions between archaeological findings and the Qur’an, then we should believe in the Qur’an, is this the correct method?

    Thank you for your time, this has been causing me some doubt of late and i am paranoid of anachronisms in the Qur’an at this point, and would like to ask help from scholars on the nature of this doubt.

    Jazakallah

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    • Although to be fair camel domestication a riding animal was discovered in Somalia and southern Arabia, around 3,000 BCE, the Bactrian in central Asia around 2,500 BCE, but not in Canaan or Egypt, according to latest evidence.

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      • Wa Salam Alaykum,

        I asked one brother who is familiar with this, and his answer is as follows: (http://quranic-musings.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-exodus-in-quran-bible-and-history_29.html?showComment=1430626213668#c4947218694499984118)

        “The Qur’an sometimes adapts the story to make its details more familiar to its Arab listeners or for other literary or theological purposes (for some examples, see Neal Robinson, Discovering the Qur’an, 155ff). However, the frequent claim that camels had not yet been domesticated in the patriarchal period is inaccurate anyways. Kitchen (On the Reliability of the Old Testament, 338-339) writes:

        A common claim is that mentions of camels are anachronistic before circa 1100. What are the facts? [in biblical terms, between roughly 2000 and 1200, their role is minimal. Camels were last and least of Abraham’s possessions (Gen. 12:16), and in his time were used solely for the long-distance, desert-edge trip to Harran and back by his servant to obtain Isaac’s bride (24:10-64 passim). They were among the last named in Jacob’s wealth (30:43; 32:7, 15), and again were used solely for the long trip from Harran back to Canaan (31:17, 34). The desert-traveling Midianites used them (37:25). This is remark- ably little. Then, at the time of the exodus and after (thirteenth century at the latest), they occur once among Pharaoh’s transport animals (Exod. 9:3) and twice in lists of creatures not to be eaten (Lev. 11:4; Deut. 14:7). Not much of a presence at all!

        What about external sources between circa 2000 and 1200? We first consider the early second millennium (vaguely patriarchal), for which we have the following: from Egypt, a camel skull from the Fayum, “Pottery A” stage of occupation, within circa 2000-1400; from Byblos, a figurine of a kneeling camel, hump and load now missing (originally fixed by a tenon), about nineteenth eighteenth century; from Canaan, a camel jaw from a Middle Bronze tomb at Tell el-Far’ah North, circa 1900/1550; from north Syria, a cylinder seal of the eighteenth century (of deities on a camel), in the Walters Art Gallery; and from mentions of the camel in the Sumerian lexical work HAR.ra-hubullu, going back in origin to the early second millennium.

        For the late second millennium we have the following: from Egypt, south of Memphis, the figure of a kneeling camel loaded with two jars (hence, domesticated) from a tomb of the later thirteenth century; from northwest Arabia, on painted pottery from Qurraya (so-called Midianite ware), the broken figure of a camel, of thirteenth/early twelfth century; and a camel on an early-thirteenth-century sherd from Pi-Ramesse. There are other traces of camels much earlier, e.g., in Egypt and Arabia in the third millennium, and also in our overall period. But the examples just given should suffice to indicate the true situation: the camel was for long a marginal beast in most of the historic ancient Near East (including Egypt), but it was not wholly unknown or anachronistic before or during 2000-1100. And there the matter should, on the tangible evidence, rest.”

        For me, I also think we should consider linguistic aspects (such as does the word ‘بعير’ convey the meaning of camel every single time without any other probable meanings, such as donkeys or general carrying animal? I have not looked into it much, but it seems from a quick skimming of lexicons that this is one area that may be looked into.)

        Also, the issue is at the end a narrational one: Supposing that camels were not normally domesticated in that region at that time, what we want to know is whether the above sentence was said – as far as Islamic epistemology is concerned, the only way to contradict the statement of the Qur’an is if we had a mass transmitted chain of narrators starting from the time the occurrences happened who tell us: “Yes, we were there and this phrase was not uttered by the brothers of Yusuf (AS) or by the king’s attendants in the two instances where it is mentioned in the Qur’an”. This chain is basically impossible to find, so we cannot discard the evidence of the Qur’an. (Basically, the opposition’s claim is that they as of now have no evidence of camels being used for loading of items, so it is logically impossible for Yusuf’s (AS) brothers to have used one or to have said the above statement- this would not be strong enough evidence, again since the present general rule is being used to preclude absolutely every exception).

        Concerning the charge of ‘fairy tales’, the Qur’an never mentions any stories without its message being the Lordship of Allah the Exalted and that He is the only Deity that is to be worshiped – if the opponent believes this message to be ‘fairy tale material’ then we cannot help him much. We can say that the Biblical stories are false (since they impute, for example, idol-worship to Sulayman (AS), which in Islamic Aqeedah is impossible to even consider), but as far as the Qur’an is concerned no one can fail to notice how the stories convey the intended message without fail.

        Finally concerning the issue of archeology and the Qur’an, if the meaning of the words and phrases in the Qur’an is univocal/ indubitable, then we will always go with the Qur’anic message; I am not an archeology major, but it is obvious that the field of archeology does go through changes and new discoveries are always made and theories are revised, so our scholars would not place the indubitable beliefs in Islam on par with the probabilistic evidences of archeology. When there is scope for multiple meanings and interpretations then the findings of archeology may be considered, but this is something to be seen on a case by case basis.

        Wa Salam

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  2. Sorry for the late reply, jazakalah for the reply, it helped me out a lot, it is sound as far as i am concerned, although i am still a novice so my opinion is not the greatest on this science, but a large part of archaeology is interpretation when writing is not available.

    Also on a side note, Oh and for the record, me and AMB are one and the same, I deleted my hbazzari account as i thought that blogging was a hassle, and i was invited to wright on other websites which i might as well do if i ever choose to wright on the subject. I started using the AMB user for general questions on Islam, but i realized that i could still use the hbazzari account for that and have been switching between the cell phone/AMB and the PC/hbazzari, so just wanted to let you know, i think ill be sticking to hbazzari from now on, thanks for understanding.

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