Random Thoughts and Notes – Nos. 201-225

201.  The original libertines who lived within the Muslim community said that there comes a time when the worshipper or adept reaches such a height of divine love that all the rules of the 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 to Heaven directly by his thoughts, and so forth. But this is an ugly thing to say and disbelief, since the Prophets (Alayhim as-Salaam) 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.

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

202.  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 Twelver 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 Shias on this issue to begin with at all.

In fact, I would say the acrimonious nature is not due to the Fiqhi ruling itself, but rather due to the aspersions of anathema on the Ummah (i.e. that we Sunnis have purposefully disobeyed and contravened the orders of the Prophet ﷺ).

203.  One thing that seems obvious, but I will mention it anyway since it is brought 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.

204.  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).

205.  The miracles that the Prophets of Allah (Alayhim as-Salaam) 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 ﷺ, in visual, aural, mental, and spiritual dimensions. The analogy is with what was given to Musa and ‘Isa (Alayhimaa as-Salaam); of course, their miracles were for a specific people and time, while the Qur’an that was given to the Prophet ﷺ was for all times and places until the Qiyaamah.

206.  The eloquent Arabs knew the way in which words and their construction and 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.

207.  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 it was magic, recycled stories of old, 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.

But even with whatever they tried to say against the person of the Prophet ﷺ, 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 these circumstances, it should be 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).

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

209.  An important point is that miracles prove the Prophethood of the person at whose hands these miracles are witnessed; but it is impossible that they ‘prove’ Godhood for that person, 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 (Alayhi Salaam) is that they proved his Prophetic call, never a call to Divinity (which he never made). Absolute impossibility is not contravened with examples from among the possibilities.

210.  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 that 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.

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 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.

211.  If someone does not accept the miracle of the Qur’an, then we have to ask, whether he accepts visual miracles. If he says that yes, then we say that he should follow the verdict of the eloquent Arabs close to the time of revelation, all of whom were mesmerized by the Qur’an. His case then, would be like a hypothetical blind man in the time of Musa (Alayhi Salaam), who could not see the miracles at the hands of Musa (Alayhi Salaam), but was informed by those who could see that these miracles did in fact occur. If he wants to accept, well and good, and if not, then this is an issue between himself and Allah on the Day of Reckoning.

212.  It seems that the virulent skepticism we see today is based on the paradoxical premise that if one wants to be sure about the existence of God, one has to have the same ‘type’ of knowledge and certainty as God has. And this is obviously impossible, since human beings have limited and bounded knowledge by default, but the bounds are not so tight so as to lift the yoke of responsibility from them. So in another sense, the formal responsibility has been somehow confusedly linked with the need for ‘Godly-type knowledge’ in the literal sense, and this seems to be one of the issues that really drives people towards paradoxical propositions and endless sophistry.

213.  People ask as to why the ‘Orientalists’ seek to replace the Islamic narrative with a narrative of their own. From what I can tell, part of it has to do with colonialism and ethnocentric thinking. But we Muslims should ask ourselves another question: How many of us have tried to ‘give a Fatwa’ about something, while we are not qualified to do so?

If we Muslims cannot control the desire for misplaced grandeur, what about other people who are non-Muslims to begin with, whether they like Islam or not? (in fact, the person who ‘likes Islam’ might do more harm, since he might dupe himself and be naively trusted by many).

214.  I am quite upset personally when I hear that a certain Muslim (young or otherwise) says that he or she is unable to pursue any formal studies of Islam due to their current secular studies or secular life, and just wants the quick answer for a doubt or objection he/she has encountered. I know that this obviously affects most of us Muslims including myself, and I am also not blaming the people who say this in a direct manner, but we have to consider as a Muslim community why we have allowed the situation to come to this stage, where lay Muslims go through their secular education in their formative years, then may come across certain things that are contrary to the Islamic worldview, but unfortunately cannot pursue the proper means of Islamic study in order to learn Islam properly, and to move way beyond what the opponents of Islam are saying and into serious scholarship of Islam. I think this is one of the biggest challenges facing us today, since the non-Muslims as predators can ‘smell the blood’ of the Muslims, and they will not stop in ‘going for the kill’.

Of course, the proper study of Islam has always had a very high position in our society, but if we as a society simply let this matter fall off, there will be many problems for Muslims, not only in the non-Muslim or Westernized societies, but even in lands that we thought to be deeply conservative and religious. And may Allah help us in these difficult times.

215.  The boldness of those who fancied that there were mistakes in the Qur’an increased due to the lower importance given to the many aspects of the religion during the later periods of governance, the introduction of new ideas into the Islamic milieu, and the often acrimonious arguments between the different Islamic sects. But we also see that there were enough scholars who cared for refuting the incorrect ideas that were making the rounds within the Islamic Ummah – and this again shows that sometimes, the true intellectual efforts will be undertaken when there are difficulties facing the Ummah- though the political, economic, and socio-cultural base should be there as well in order to facilitate this endeavor or make it easier for those scholars who are working in the service of the Deen.

216.  Some of the figures of the Mu’tazili group were the indirect catalysts for the works on the inimitability of the Qur’an. Ibrahim an-Nadhaam is mentioned, who said that the inimitability of the Qur’an is due to a divine ‘Sarfa’ (divinely established incapability in the people), but that there was really nothing in the Qur’an itself that was miraculous, and that the Qur’an was like any other revelation or inspiration given to previous Prophets (Alayhim as-Salaam) in expounding Halaal or Haraam. He said that the inimitability was simply because Allah had taken away the knowledge among the Arabs of how to compose something like the Qur’an.

Other people, such as al-Futi and ibn Sulayman said that the Qur’an is simply an incident from among the incidents and that there is nothing from among the incidents whatsoever that points towards Allah or to the Prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ.

When we see this additional view that the ‘Araadh (incidents) do not point to Prophethood, this would be a very problematic view, since miracles are -after all- incidents that due to their breaking the normal correlations in the Universe point towards the Prophethood of the one who says he is a Prophet. If it is said that incidents simply do not point to Prophethood, this would be an almost naturalistic viewpoint, and it is not acceptable even from an abstract consideration.

But others from among the Mu’tazila such as al-Jaahith and Abi ‘Ali al-Jubaai took the views of An-Nadhaam and others to task, and they wrote a number of refutations to these opinions. According to what is mentioned, al-Baaqilaani (RA) did not properly give credit to this endeavor, most likely due to the animosity between the Sunnis and the Mu’tazilis.

217.  Ar-Rumaani was one of the early writers who took up the task of methodically explaining the miracle of the Qur’an, even though he was a Mu’tazili. What ar-Rumaani said was that there were seven miraculous facets to the Qur’an which were: Its taking the high road and abandoning (vile) opposition [or let us say the vituperations of the riffraff] in spite of the many probable reasons and the apparently pressing need (from what I understand, this is so since many times the disbelievers taunted the Prophet ﷺ with questions they thought he would be unable to answer, but the Qur’an came forth with the suitable answers, without the emotional outbursts one would expect from a human author/authors), its open challenge to everyone to produce something like it and their being incapacitated from doing so, its rhetorical eloquence, its true accounts of what was to happen in the future, its nature (that it was extraordinarily contrary to normal modes of speech), and its correlation with every (other) miracle (i.e. its connection with the manner in which miracles took place in previous times with previous Prophets (Alayhim as-Salaam)).

Then he divided rhetorical eloquence into three parts, and said: That whose highest point is miraculous, and that is the eloquence of the Qur’an. Then he defined rhetoric by saying that it is the penetration of the meaning into the hearts in the best possible verbal form, and this is also only applicable to the Qur’an.

Then, he divided rhetoric (Balaagha) into ten parts, some of them being: Brevity, similarity (between texts and within the text), proper use of metaphors, concordance, (presence of) interludes or separations, homogeneity, turning from one state to another and clear elucidation. For example, for Isti’arah (metaphor), he says that in order for it to be effective, it is necessary for it to be a speech that does not displace reality, for if it does then the literal truth is higher than it, and Isti’arah in such a case is not suitable or permissible.

218.  Taken from ar-Rumaani’s writing, there is an explanation concerning those who were challenged with respect to the Qur’an. It is said that if there were so many people calling a thirsty but still mentally and physically fit person to take a drink with them in their homes, it would not be normal for him to refuse these offers, since he will eventually die of thirst. But if in spite of this, if he is still not accepting the invitations, it points towards an ‘Ajz [incapacitation] that needs a supernatural explanation.

219.  Another thing mentioned is that the ‘Sarfa’ actually refers to the supernatural removal of serious deliberation from the minds of Islam’s enemies with regards to coming up with something like the Qur’an.

220.  There is an answer to the question that if the Qur’an is in Arabic and the Arabs were unable to produce something like it, why do we not consider the possibility of non-Arabs coming up with something like the Qur’an, either in their own languages or in Arabic? The answer to this is that the Arabs close to the time of revelation had reached a very high level of shrewdness with respect to their use of the language, and this is something that was even evidenced in the Awzaan (patterns) they had firmly established. This is unlike the case with other languages, who did not develop to this degree, and who could not be said to have reached such a high level of sagacity in the use of language itself.

One important point to add in here is that today itself, the truth is that many languages are dying out, and the ‘world languages’ are becoming soiled by the short attention span that our technological age has burdened upon us. Just consider twitter (which did not exist as a phenomenon some time back) – look at how much time people spend on it, typing short and trite messages that cannot at all have the power of eloquence; and this is not even considering all other jumbled jargon that has come up in our time, very recently, due to the mushrooming of technology around us (there is the occasional good aphorism, but these are rare exceptions, and still not comparable to the Qur’an).

So it is not correct to say something will come in the future that will easily make up something like the Qur’an even though it has not been done before; and the simple reason is that there is a very strong human element in language, in how it pervades a person’s mind and spirit, and this is something that would necessitate trial and error, whether by a human writer or by a computer program or a robot – and this really militates against any possibility that a book can be written by any human or a ‘program developed by humans’ that truly touches the mind and the heart in the same way the Qur’an does. I know there will be people who might object due to their own thinking about this issue, but they cannot reject the fact that a language is a living thing, and when it reaches the level of ‘imprinting’ as it did during the Arab pre-Islamic time, then it is even more powerful than the visual miracles that we believe have been given to the previous Prophets (Alayhim as-Salaam).

221.  One important point about the Qur’an, which has led many scholars to deny there is Saj’ in the Qur’an, is that the Qur’an’s words follow the intended meanings, and this is more appropriate in establishing the correct blend between the words and their significations (especially in a book like the Qur’an, which deals with the highest of subject matters), than what we see in the Saj’ of prose, etc.

222.  For those who do not have the drive to learn Arabic to a level of proficiency, or who may not be able to do so for whatever reason, the fact that the Arabs at the time of the Prophet ﷺ were unable to directly face the challenge of the Qur’an is sufficient evidence for its miraculous nature.

223.  It has been mentioned that the ‘Sarfa’ theory is interesting in a sense, but Verse 17:88 seems to contradict it, since the Verse indicates that the men and the jinns, with their combined efforts, could not come up with something like the Qur’an; and this signifies that their efforts are intact, and have not been incapacitated in and of themselves.

224.  Interesting thing mentioned by al-Khitaabi (RA): He criticized those who said that the Qur’an’s I’jaaz was only in its foretelling truthfully what would occur in the future, since this is not something found in every single Chapter of the Qur’an – this, while the challenge is to bring any Surah whatsoever like the Qur’an, without any further specification. From what I have read, this is also why one cannot say that the miracle of the Qur’an is exclusive to (for example) ‘scientific facts’, since not every single Surah has a ‘scientific fact’ as we know it (of course, the issue of ‘scientific miracles in the Qur’an’ is a tough issue to begin with, and it has been discussed on this site and many other places).

225.  We have to keep in mind that the types of speech are different, their ranks with regards to their elucidatory power are distinct, and their eloquence also varies. There is that which is lucid but comes in sober profuseness, that which is eloquent but comes in a more vulgar (i.e. common) style, and there is that which is loose and gentle, more characteristic of what is seen in poetry – these are the divisions of good speech. And each mode has its height but also its corresponding reach amongst different sections of society. Now, what is mentioned is that the Qur’an has ‘taken’ from the characteristics of all these types of speech and blended them in a manner that maintains both magnificence and sweetness.

What we see is that these genres of literature are basically contradictory by themselves: In ‘sweet’ speech there is generally more ‘facility’ and ‘ease’, while in solid, lucid speech there is generally more difficulty and hardness. But only the Qur’an has been able to truly ‘take’ the highest qualities of each type of speech without besmirching it (the Qur’an) with the lower qualities that normally come along with each genre. Human beings cannot reach the level of the Qur’an, a big reason being that they cannot come to know all of the words of the language and their interconnected, situational relationships, etc.