Random Thoughts and Notes No. 401-425

401.    An issue we must pay attention to is the “conflict of interest” between the conclusion that the miraculousness of the Qur’an would have on one accepting this statement, and the previously held beliefs of those who are talking about this matter. We normally hear of the alleged ‘bias’ that we Muslims have when talking about the Qur’an as the revelation from Allah, but we should also pay attention to those from the non-Muslim side who while assessing the Qur’an, would not utter the full impact that the Qur’an had on them in all its aspects.

402.    A question to ponder upon: The terms misogynist or sexist seem very blunt and designed to give an emotional outburst. But would we say that even milder terms like ‘basic individual human rights’ have so much baggage and ‘engineered meaning’ that the Muslims should be very careful using them, if ever, unless we learn what the Islamic position is regarding these terms?

The answer seems to be yes, we should not use such terms without understanding the full ideological baggage they carry along with them.

403.    It would seem to be, as per the naturalistic mindset that if our brains are evolving all the time from rocks and space-dust, then establishing that our thoughts and rationality have any basis is quite difficult, since “survival value” and truth may not be closely related at all.

404.    Whatever may be objected to the following, morality is always relative in the atheistic way. This is exactly the same reason why the atheist liberal secularist is so proud to say that he is “not chained” to any religious doctrine – because the optimum way is for him to let the individuals, as purportedly free agents, choose their own course of behavior. In this case it seems the only applicable rule is that the absolute sovereignty of the individual must be guarded, not that the decisions are actually correct. But as far as anything named ‘morality’ may be understood in the traditional sense, this really does not exist in the liberal-secular atheist way, by its own proud admission.

405.    Concerning the secular atheistic ‘morality’, many will say that a big fuss is being made about this by us Muslims. In a sense this may be correct and accurate, but then the interlocutor or opponent would have to accept our overarching Islamic cosmology and metaphysics, which includes aspects pertaining to whether morality is known in an ‘Aqli (mental/rational) sense before the Wahy (revelation) and what is the worth of this abstract judgment, and how it is to be approached once the Wahy has been received.

Suffice it to say, this would include many points counter to the intuitive conception of individual rights, etc. prevalent in our world-order. This may be why many discussions remain at the mid-level concerning ‘morality’, since one side or the other is unable or unwilling to pursue the more abstract considerations.

406.    Many Muslims do have an urge and zeal to make Da’wah to the masses; however, like any other art this needs its methods to be perfected before one moves forward, even if the road is long and at times seems tortuous and boring.

How many Da’wah carriers have we seen who are unaware of their personally obligatory matters let alone the arguments of the opponents? This eventually gives rise to problems, embarrassment and at times even leads the Da’wah carrier to doubts or even worse.

407.    People comment, what is the use in continuing to present normative Islam when it is clear such a route will lead to its irrelevance – one of the things I say is that different groups around the world, if they truly believe in their positions, keep on presenting a normative version of their views and wait until a propitious time arrives for their views to be embraced, regardless of how repulsive their views may seem at first sight to large swathes of the masses.

Take the example of racists (an imperfect example but nonetheless), they only tweaked their arguments slightly over the decades, but now it seems they are on the ascendant, and will move fully towards their hyper-nationalist and hyper-racist goals. Why should anyone expect such low standards for Muslims (i.e. we Muslims should water down things until nothing is left of normative orthodox Islam before we are considered relevant?)… this is not the proper way at all.

408.    One thing we often hear from many of our own Muslim people is how “Only Allah can judge me!” Of course, this in itself is an absolutely correct statement. Were a believer to hear this, he/she should have a trembling in the heart at the enormity of the saying and its implications.

But yet, it is many times said in such a casual way, with such self-assurance by the speaker, that one does wonder whether the implications are truly understood – one is even led to wonder whether the true intent was to say: “Not even Allah can judge me!” (I am not pointing to any specific persons or their intentions, but generally speaking all of us have to think what we say and what it refers to in reality, and do we comprehend what our words entail.)

409.    We see the huge hype over ‘terrorism’ and the threat of ‘all-out war’ being carried out by us Muslims. One thing is, the opponents know that unlike them, Muslims as a whole are quite unable to lead a full-fledged attack and prolonged invasion on any of their countries, so it is easy to talk of a relatively small threat as if it were huge, since the true risk is so very small. But also, they wish to maintain a monopoly with regards to the global thinking concerning any future warfare, thinking of contingency planning with regards to the smallest of possibilities [i.e. the thinking of all citizens in the world should be that organized warfare is the prerogative of the secular nation-states anyway, so any other type of violence is akin to subhuman action].

People may ask that fine, if things are as I say, then why even mention it? One issue is, if the secular nation-state or its past equivalents are the only viable options within which to engage proper warfare, then every martial Islamic endeavor in history not boxed within this category will be painted as pure evil, and will affect those who absorb these ideas, whether Muslim or otherwise. This is one way in which anti-Islamic ideas affect all people not properly introduced to Islamic belief and practice.

410.    One can see the effects in this life itself, of temporary pleasure due to an illusion of freedom, then bitterness and suffering of much longer duration: An example is food intake, how modern people can and do take unhealthy food because they can or because they feel like it, only to suffer the consequences of such decisions in their health for many years to come, far beyond any enjoyment the person may have gained.

In this world then, one sees the results of thoughtless freedom – what can one say about the Deen of Islam and the Afterlife, where some restrictions are indeed found, but the consequences of not following after the evidence is clear are also much, much longer than any temporary enjoyment a person may attain (we also see then, this is a normal and natural rule, it is not a fanatical or coercive understanding of affairs, rather it is something all can relate to at some level).

411.    Consider that there are always some hidden things, even in naturalistic science… sometimes theories and concepts for which no experiment can even be conceived. We Muslims say that with respect to the crucial hidden issue of the Afterlife and other aspects of the Ghayb, Islam provides the correct methodology to reach the good end and correct conclusion – it is not to be seen as something scandalous or strange, even though the Ghayb by definition is not directly accessible with our gross senses.

412.    We know the rules of reducing one’s voice when in the presence of the Prophet (ﷺ). This is also applicable after his (ﷺ) passing onto the life of the Barzakh and when we go today in the presence of the Prophet (ﷺ) in his Masjid we are to observe this rule – it is just as rude not to follow through on this rule today as it was in the past.

413.    (Advice that was given): The Fiqhi rule of the least of two harmful things can be used when we are seeing our benefit to Muslims at large. For example, if one is a teacher, he should weigh the evil he has within himself versus the benefit the students are likely to receive from him, and act accordingly.

414.    Regardless of one’s current situation and environment, one can be quite sure that he/she is in a better “outer” situation than Aasiya (RAA) the wife of Fir’awn, yet we all know what great heights she reached in spite of the physical and mental torture she had to go through. Thus, one should not feel the difficulty one undergoes for the Deen to be something “unfair” given to them (Exalted be Allah above this).

415.    We see in alternative philosophies and ideologies, many a times people are thrown into the deep end of these ideologies and they are forced to pick and choose whatever they desire of these epistemologies, in order to try to chart their way through life. But, Islam is a religion of foundations and basics leading up to a known conclusion, so the seeker is not merely thrown into the middle of disparate ideologies and told to pick and choose or salvage whatever he can.

The same principle is seen in the natural formation of the intellect, in that it is a progression, and it does not grow suddenly. Thus, we should never tell people to jump into the middle of difficult things to try to comprehend them if they have no ability to do so, whether this is due to age, non-familiarity with systematic thinking, or some other issue.

416.    Concerning how many present the Sunni schools of Aqeedah, Fiqh, Ihsan as the normative ones of Islam, if someone says that why is ‘Islam’ being reduced to such Sunni schools, the contention is not that Islam is only bordered by the above. Rather, these are the schools which have been more thoroughly corroborated and studied. Most of the times (especially nowadays) when people wish to go outside of these schools, it is not because they are independent experts and can see certain shortcomings in the articulation of Aqeedah or Fiqh of a certain school as they relate to the Nusoos, but rather they simply don’t like some principle of Islam, and jump from one school to the other to satisfy their Nafs (lower ego), and/or to try to bring their conception of Islam in line with something totally outside of it (like Lockean, Jeffersonian or Marxist ideals), and thus they feel compelled to jump from one theology and system to another – of course this would be the case for them, since the Prophet ﷺ did not come to advocate for Locke, Jefferson, Marx, etc., while certain people today do advocate for these theorists above and beyond all else.

It should also be said, especially concerning the Sunni schools (in theology and law), they are in fact quite expansive in what is permitted in order for someone to remain within Islam, much more than the non-Sunni schools, which can and do anathematize people over (comparatively) minor things; however, in our day, people do try to consciously push the boundaries of Sunnism to breaking point, often in order to advance the worldviews of theorists and thinkers who did not appear except in the past few centuries, and that too from a totally non-Muslim worldview and background.

417.    A very important point to note: At the time of Imam an-Nawawi (RA) the Muslims were being attacked and butchered from many sides, yet no one called to blind terrorism and revenge as we see today from some quarters. Thus, if you see someone telling you that terror is the way, challenge them and ask them where their Isnad and chain for practicing such terror is. It is not only a matter of Books and Fatwas that may be found by someone, but whether there is a verifiable living chain that such Ahadith and rulings were acted upon generation after generation.

At the very least, the scholars would have to approve that such rulings are indeed applicable in the current context – paradoxically, most of those who engage in terror actions do not even accept the majority of the Ummah as being of the Muslim Ummah in the first place. (The reasons for this last issue are more complex of course, and may have to do with modernity and the attempt at reckless atomization of Muslim identity and Islam, with such violence being one symptom of this problem).

418.    Traditionally, there was an understanding in Islam of more or less a distinction between those who possessed a previous book and knew of the existence of the Hereafter, versus the idolaters and other similar peoples who knew nothing about the Hereafter and denied its existence.

In a sense this distinction is quite applicable even today after modern research and study, for we know there is a difference between Dharmic or Far Eastern traditions, many of which deny God as the Absolute (either by denoting ‘It’ as an abstract principle or as nothingness) and the legacy of the Abrahamic religions and their acknowledgment of God (whatever theological distortions may have taken place within them).

419.    Muslim scholars are quite picky about the words they choose to define and elucidate their theological positions. For example, we have Ikhtiyaar (best translated as freedom of choice) as opposed to “free will” [and what our scholars say of Ikhtiyaar as connected to the reality of the soul and the soul’s potential to live the Deen itself beyond linguistic expression].

420.    One example of a sincere intention is, if we were to know for sure that we will die tomorrow at noon, would we still attend the Islamic lecture, for example? If we only want Allah’s Pleasure, then dying tomorrow makes no difference, but with ulterior motives and intentions, then yes, there is a big effect on our lives if this “new information” were presented before us.

421.    Why is there this emphasis on ‘40’ in Islam like what we see in the Arbaeen an-Nawawiyah?

One of the explanations provided is that Prophethood was granted to Muhammad (ﷺ) when he was 40 years old, Ibrahim (Alayhi as-Salaam) stayed in the fire for 40 days, Musa (Alayhi as-Salaam) went to the meeting with His Lord for 40 days, Yunus (Alayhi as-Salaam) was in the belly of the fish for 40 days, and in Islam one reaches full adulthood at the age of 40 years. We also have a number of narrations greatly praising the one who memorizes 40 Ahaadeeth.

422.    Consider the depth of Abu Bakr’s (RA) answer [as is reported] concerning the issue of freedom of choice: That our ignorance of Allah’s Knowledge is our freedom of choice. Of course, there are many other discussions about this matter, but notice how many doors to doubt and useless bickering are closed with this single statement.

423.    The West understands the power of knowledge, and takes great pains to preserve that knowledge. But do we Muslims today appreciate this in our practical actions? A casual comparison was made of the 30 million USD endowment for a liberal arts Muslim college in the United States versus the 32 billion USD granted for Harvard. It can be asked then, which of these is predicted to move ahead faster in all fields of knowledge related to its respective institution?

Of course, Karaamaat can happen and it is possible that comparatively little can move things far ahead, but on the other hand, realities like this all over the Muslim world allude to the organization and level of interest Muslims place in preserving authentic Deeni knowledge versus what others value in terms of preserving and propagating their “Deen”.

Yet another truth is, often the Islamic institutions will be gobbled up, figuratively, intellectually or even institutionally by these much larger universities and the politico-legal framework they buttress. So this disparity plays itself out in more than one dimension and often grows exponentially.

424.    The highest desire (Shahwa) in humans is in fact to know; due to this desire, humans can forsake other desires such as that for status, desire to be with the opposite gender, and the lowly desires such as eating, drinking, and sleeping.

425.    We see that among Muslim scientists there were also scholars, like Imam al-Qarafi (RA), who was an ‘Aalim and then invented things “on the side” so as to say. So we must have the foundations right, and the rest may follow. Yet, without proper foundations, there is no use even if we materially achieve a lot and win prestigious prizes.