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Debating Islam (29 Aug 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Is God in Islam Just and Rational as Mutazillah believed or Arbitrary and Despotic as Hanbali-Zahiri-Ashari-Maturidi postulate? Does Quran Support Both Positions?


By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

28 Aug 2018


Dear Naseer Saheb, I am bringing our discussion to a separate thread as it has gone beyond the scope of the earlier article where we started our conversation.

You consider Mutazillah “atheists of their time” who were “more wedded to philosophy than to the Quran.” Also, you think that Asharis have “through their misinterpretations of otherwise very clear Muhkamat verses, made Islam an unjust and immoral religion, only because they imagine Allah to be like themselves."

But if you study their literature you will find that the mainspring of thinking of both these groups, indeed all Islamic scholars of all schools of thought was Quran and except in the case of Mutazillah, Hadith. All of them may have violently disagreed with one another, even thrown each other in prison and got one another lashed, but they were all very sincere seekers of the Truth of Islam. The proof of their sincerely lies in the fact that not one of them recanted, despite facing extreme persecution by the Khulafa of their times. And the source of their thinking was Quran alone in the case of Mutazillah and Hadith and Seerah too in the case of others. Apart from Zahiris and Hanbalis, all of them had studied Greek philosophy, but their primary faith was in Islam and Islamic scriptures.

 

Mutazallah view of God’s Rationality and Justice and encouragement to reasoning emanate from the following and similar verses in the Holy Quran:

 

Surely the worst of beasts in God's sight are those that are deaf and dumb and do not reason. (8:22)

Qur'an explains its verses to a “tribe, nation or community (qawm) who thinks" and     chastises "those who do not use their reason" (see for instance, al-Baqara 2:164; al-Ma'idah 5:58; al-Ra'd 13:4; al-Nahl 16:12).

And He lays abomination upon those who do not reason. (10:100)

(2:164) (To guide) those who use their reason (to this Truth) there are many Signs in the structure of the heavens and the earth, in the constant alternation of night and day, in the vessels which speed across the sea carrying goods that are of profit to people, in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and thereby quickens the earth after it was dead, and disperse over it all manner of animals, and in the changing courses of the winds and the clouds pressed into service between heaven and earth.162

 “A book We have sent down to thee, blessed, that men possessed of mind may ponder its signs end so remember.” (38:29)

“That thou mayest bring forth your people from the darkness into the light ... “ (14:5)

Justice:

“And We sent down with them the Book and the Balance so that men might uphold justice ... “(57:25)

“We have not sent thee, save as a mercy unto all beings. “(21:107)

“A Book We have sent down to thee that thou mayest bring forth mankind from the darkness into the light... “ (14:1)

It is incumbent upon Allah to show you the right way. (16:9)

 

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Hanbali-Ashari-Maturidi view of God as Omnipotent, Whimsical, Arbitrary, Wilful, Despotic, not limited by canons of Justice and rationality emanate from the following and similar verses of the Holy Quran (as well as many Ahadith, specially mutawatir ahadith, considered totally authentic and akin to revelation by most Muslims). I am not quoting Hadith here but apart from Quran, it was a large number of Hadith narrations that solidified their view:

 

“Allah does what he wills.” (14:27)

(Allah is) the Doer of what He wills.7 (85:16)

“He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, He punishes whom He pleaseth.” (2: 284)

“He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominions of the heavens and the earth and whatever is in between them and to Him is the final destination,” (5: 18)

“He punishes whom He wills and forgives whom He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.” (5: 40)

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“In their hearts is a sickness, and God has increased that sickness ...” (2:10)

“God has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a covering ... “(2:7)

“We lay veils upon their hearts lest they understand it ..”. (6:25)

“So does God seal the hearts of the unbelievers.” (7:101)

“God is the Protector of the believers; He brings them forth from the darkness into the light. And the unbelievers --their protectors are taghut, that bring them forth from the light into the darkness ...”(2:257)

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 “So, whosoever Allah wants to Guide, He expands his breast to Islam and whoever He wants to misguide, He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky.” (Quran 6: 125).

 Also, “If Allah so willed, he could make you all one people. But he leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases and you shall certainly be called to account for all your actions.” Quran (16: 93). 

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Imam Ghazali sums up the Islamic theology of consensus (Hanbali, Ashari, Maturidi, etc. minus Mutazalah), in these words: He puts the following in the mouth of God:

“These to Bliss, and I care not; And these to the Fire, and I care not.”

It’s this supposed indifference and arbitrariness of God that Ibn-e-Rushd countered in his famous “Incoherence of the Incoherence” that was a line-by-line refutation of Imam Ghazali’s “Incoherence of the Philosophers.” But all of Ibn-e-Rushd’s books were burnt down in supposedly liberal Muslim Spain and he had to go into exile. His books survived only because they had already been translated in European languages. As a result, Europe got its renaissance and Muslim world pushed itself into a darkness from which it is still to emerge.

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Previous comments from the earlier thread:



By Sultan Shahin - 8/26/2018 12:33:51 PM


· Dear Naseer Saheb, you have said: "They (Islamic Scholars) have through their misinterpretations of otherwise very clear Muhkamat verses, made Islam an unjust and immoral religion, only because they imagine Allah to be like themselves."

This is how Mutazilla scholars would have, must have, responded to the now-dominant Asharite doctrine of God being Omnipotent and Omniscient, Free to implement His Will, not necessarily Just or Moral, as we humans understand these attributes. Their view was that the condition of Justice imposed on God is a limitation on God’s power and questioned His Omnipotence.  He not only guides but also misguides people and then rewards and punishes them for their behaviour.

 [“So, whosoever Allah wants to Guide, He expands his breast to Islam and whoever He wants to misguide, He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky.” (Quran 6: 125).]

 Also, “If Allah so willed, he could make you all one people. But he leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases and you shall certainly be called to account for all your actions.” Quran (16: 93).  

This cannot be considered just or rational by any human canon of morality and rationality. However, it is not for us mortals, Asharites said, following the Jabariyya before them, to apply our sense of morality or justice or rationality on God. His Omnipotence is not to be limited by human canons of morality or rationality or Justice.  After all, God is al-Jabbar, the Compeller. (Quran 59: 23). His power is absolute. He wills and it happens.

So, it’s wrong to say that Jabariyya or Ashariya present God as a whimsical power-lord “only because they imagine Allah to be like themselves.” This is not correct. As the Qadariyya or later Mutazallah position of human free will was based on Quran, so was the Qadariyya and Ashariyya position of total predetermination based on Quran, and in both cases, as you rightly point out, its Muhkamat (clear) verses, not on Mustashbihat (allegorical) that buttress their positions. Of course, Ashariyya and even Maturidi positions are also based on a plethora of Ahadith, in addition to Quran. But Qadriyyah and Mutazillah positions are based entirely on Quran.

By Sultan Shahin - 8/26/2018 12:33:51 PM


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By Naseer Ahmed - 8/27/2018 11:10:54 AM

: “…. the essential "Zaat" of Allah, is strangely misunderstood by even the scholars, philosophers and the Sufis, and their understanding contradicts Muhkamat verses.” (This sentence has been slightly edited to remove confusion, as it has been taken from another thread. -- Editor)

 

Allah manifests His attributes through His creation as well as through His revelations. What the Quran and other Scriptures mostly contain is knowledge that is unavailable to man in foresight and could have only come through Divine revelations but which can be easily understood in hindsight. Science is knowledge that man can gain through foresight and most of it is left to man to unravel. The Quran merely points out to the natural phenomena that sustain life as God’s handiwork. 

 

The Mutazilla scholars did not distinguish between these two sources of knowledge, and took up a position, like the philosophers whom they admired, that all morality or the Deen can come from human reason alone. They were the atheists of their times and a bad influence which is why the reaction to them was strong. Perhaps, they were only reacting to the Asharite doctrine, but they took the wrong approach and were therefore easily neutralized by a single Imam Ghazali, who did a very good job of defeating them comprehensively. Unfortunately, the pendulum swung to the other extreme. If only the   Mutazilla had confined their reasoning to prove the Asharite wrong by the explicit Quranic verses, we would have had the right balance, but they were more wedded to philosophy than to the Quran.

 

Most of what we see of Islamic scholarship is by people from Iran or Uzbekistan and from people from other faiths who had accepted Islam. The influence of other faith systems and cultures is immense. All the six books of Ahadith are by scholars from these two regions and all the six scholars are contemporaries - strange coincidence?

 

The way forward is to question the wrong understanding of the scholars and not question the Quran itself. The Mutazilla, the rationalists, the atheists, the self-certified progressives and moderates will deservedly get ignored because they are not seen as Muslim in the first place.  The Quran and Islam are only for the believers and those who approach it with humility and not for those who consider the Book a 7th century anachronism as the people of the Prophet's time did calling it a Book containing "tales of the ancient". Allah allows such people to go astray.


By Naseer Ahmed - 8/27/2018 11:10:54 AM

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· Shahin Saheb, what you say underlies the problem with Islamic scholars of every school. They lack the scholarship for a systematic study of the Quran and jump to wrong conclusions based on a misunderstanding of a couple of verses. Allah’s attributes of Omnipotence and Justice are misunderstood even by the likes of Imam Ghazali. While Allah says emphatically that He never changes his ways, they think that such an attribute compromises His attribute of omnipotence! They therefore imagine a whimsical, immoral God much like what you find in Greek literature. There is nothing whimsical about what God does and if Allah chooses to be bound by His own word and by His own ways and laws, that is what it is and that is anything but whimsical. If Allah has decreed a universe with a precise cause for every event, nothing can take place without an appropriate cause. Whatever Allah does follow His unchanging laws, and these are laws of cause and effect which He explains in His Book for those who are willing to listen.

  

The Quran Describes Three Types Of Persons:

1.       The Believer: A person who lives a life based on truth and chooses all that is good and noble is attuned to recognize and accept the truth and recognize falsehood and reject it. He is not arrogant and will therefore accept good from whatever source it comes and support it. He is a person who strives actively on the path of truth. The characteristics of a believer are described in the following verses:

(2:2) This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah;(3) Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them;(4) And who believe in the Revelation sent to you, and sent before your time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter.(5) They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper.

Charity is one of the noblest virtues as it combines sacrifice with empathy and caring for others and is the foremost among the various practices that form part of the golden rule. The moral way of living enunciated in the revelations provides proof that this can come only from the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and from none else. Belief in the Unseen God who is the author of the divine moral code and belief in the Hereafter in which God’s justice finds perfection by design of God, is therefore easy for such people. The assurance in their hearts of the Hereafter, is what makes it easy for the believers to live a moral life in accordance with the way of living enunciated in the scriptures since they hope for the major portion of their rewards in the hereafter and not in this world. This is what makes it easy for them to sacrifice self-interest for truth, justice and for the well-being of all life on this earth without expecting returns in this life. They are people who are patient in the face of adversity and practice self-restraint. Such people progress on the path of guidance.

(16:30) To the righteous (when) it is said, "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" they say, "All that is good." To those who do good, there is good in this world, and the Home of the Hereafter is even better and excellent indeed is the Home of the righteous.

With all their hopes resting with God, they care very little for the vicissitudes of this life. The believer is a faith neutral term in the Quran and is any person who believes in one God, the Hereafter and practices righteousness.

(2:62) Those who believe (in the Qur´an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

2.       The Hypocrite: The hypocrite is a weakling straddling both belief and disbelief. He is trying to maximize his gains. He wants to be on the winning side always. He is not arrogant and therefore sees the truth in flashes but since truth is not what interests him but his self-interest, he is immediately blinded by the very brilliance of the light and is left in the darkness as if he was blind. The characteristics of a hypocrite are described in the following verses:

(2:8) Of the people there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day;" but they do not (really) believe. (9) Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realise (it) not! (10) In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: And grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves). (11) When it is said to them: "Make not mischief on the earth," they say: "Why, we only Want to make peace!" (12) Of a surety, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realise (it) not. (13) When it is said to them: "Believe as the others believe:" They say: "Shall we believe as the fools believe?" Nay, of a surety they are the fools, but they do not know.

These people are able to see the truth momentarily but do not follow the truth and are therefore false to themselves. Each time they see the truth and suppress it, such behaviour becomes stronger and the cognitive dissonance weaker until they reach a stage when the truth no longer bothers them and they become as it were deaf and blind to it. The following verses describe the same:

(2:14) When they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe;" but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: "We are really with you: We (were) only jesting." (15) Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and give them rope in their trespasses; so they will wander like blind ones (To and fro). (16) These are they who have bartered Guidance for error: But their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction, (17) Their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lighted all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness. So they could not see. (18) Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path).

3.       Those Who Reject Faith Or The Kafir: The kafir is a person who has chosen to be selfish and self-centred and convinced himself that the ends of a life on this earth are to maximize his gains and pleasures adopting whatever means appear appropriate. Truth, justice, kindness matter to him not in their absolute sense but only to the extent these can serve his purpose on this earth. He is arrogant and envious of others. He wants power, money and all the good things in life to lord over. He will therefore reject any message that invites him to what is moral. The rejection is of the messenger out of envy and arrogance and of the message as it is the opposite of what he is inclined to. He will actively resist both the messenger and the message and by his behaviour become so confirmed in his rejection that he becomes totally deaf and blind to the message. They are described in the following verses:

(17:94) What kept men back from belief when Guidance came to them, was nothing but this: they said, "Has Allah sent a man (like us) to be (His) Messenger?"

Arrogance and envy of others is what makes people reject guidance in the first place.

(14:3) Those who love the life of this world more than the Hereafter, who hinder (men) from the Path of Allah and seek therein something crooked: they are astray by a long distance.

(16:22) Your Allah is one Allah: as to those who believe not in the Hereafter, their hearts refuse to know, and they are arrogant.

A person who seeks immediate gratification loves the life of this world and to such a person, promises in the Hereafter are too distant, uncertain and probably appear as false. The fact that that he has gained much in this life through immoral means and the fact that he sees that any change in his present ways would cause an immediate loss in power and wealth is what prevents him from seeing the truth. His arrogance is also self-gratification through self-aggrandizement.

Surah 102

(1) The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things),

(2) Until ye visit the graves.

(3) But nay, ye soon shall know (the reality).

(4) Again, ye soon shall know!

(5) Nay, were ye to know with certainty of mind, (ye would beware!)

(6) Ye shall certainly see Hell-Fire!

(7) Again, ye shall see it with certainty of sight!

(8) Then, shall ye be questioned that Day about the joy (ye indulged in!).

(2:6) As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe.(7) Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur).

When Allah says that Allah sets a seal on the hearts of the sinners, the reference is to the natural law of Allah, whereby a person who is arrogant and dismissive of others on account of his arrogance, and is only interested in immediate gratification, is selfish, self-centred, and shuts out the voice of reason and truth, loses the ability to perceive anything except what is immediately gratifying so that it were as if ‘a seal is set upon his heart'.  It is not Allah who wrongs them, but they wrong themselves by what they choose for themselves (3:117, 9:70)

6:12 It is they who have lost their own souls, that will not believe.

(6:108) Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did.

They have by their choice, lost all their potential for nobility that man is endowed with, by wilfully inclining towards evil and rejecting what is good. Such people will never believe and they will be happy in their disbelief considering the believers to be fools and themselves to be smart.

The word kafir is a faith neutral term in the Quran. A kafir could be a Muslim, Christian, Jew, polytheist or a person professing any other faith. Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall says: “In the Qur’an I find two meanings (of a Kafir), which become one the moment that we try to realize the divine standpoint. The Kafir in the first place, is not the follower of any religion. He is the opponent of Allah’s benevolent will and purpose for mankind - therefore the disbeliever in the truth of all religions, the disbeliever in all Scriptures as of divine revelation, the disbeliever to the point of active opposition in all the Prophets (pbut) whom the Muslims are bidden to regard, without distinction, as messengers of Allah.

 Understanding God’s Laws of Human Behaviour

The Role of Cognitive Dissonance

Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said in his 1925 book, Science and the Modern World: “It is easy enough to find a [self-consistent] theory . . . , provided that you are content to disregard half your evidence. The moral temper required for the pursuit of truth, includes an unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account.”

There are many people who show an unflinching determination to disregard half of the relevant evidence!

In Psychology this is called cognitive bias where we pay attention only to facts that support our prejudices. Uncomfortable evidence that contradicts our theory causes what is called cognitive dissonance. An honest way of dealing with cognitive dissonance is to revise our opinion/theory taking the full facts of the case into consideration. Dishonest ways are by way of discounting, falsifying, or by ignoring altogether the evidence that does not suit our purpose.

Not everyone feels cognitive dissonance to the same degree. People with a higher need for consistency and certainty in their lives usually feel the effects of cognitive dissonance more than those who have a lesser need for such consistency. People who have not trained themselves to deal honestly with cognitive dissonance become habitual liars and feel nothing. It is about these people that the Quran says:

(2:16) These are they who have bartered Guidance for error: But their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction,(17) Their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lighted all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness. So they could not see. (18) Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the correct path). 

People who have learnt to suppress cognitive dissonance will rarely change their stand on any issue no matter even if they are proved wrong. This is so since their stand is not based on an objective analysis and the truth in any case is unimportant to such people. The only deity they worship is self-interest. Pride and arrogance prevent such people from changing their stand even if proved wrong. The Quran says about such people:

(6:109) They swear their strongest oaths by Allah, that if a (special) sign came to them, by it they would believe. Say: "Certainly (all) signs are in the power of Allah: but what will make you realise that (even) if (special) signs came, they will not believe."?

(110) We (too) shall turn to (confusion) their hearts and their eyes, even as they refused to believe in this in the first instance: We shall leave them in their trespasses, to wander in distraction.

What made them refuse to believe in the first instance will continue to dominate their thinking and they will not believe no matter what signs are sent. This is because, through wilful rejection of the truth on all previous occasions, they have perverted their thinking progressively and completely and they are too far gone astray.

(111) Even if We did send to them angels, and the dead did speak to them, and We gathered together all things before their very eyes, they are not the ones to believe, unless it is in Allah´s plan. But most of them ignore (the truth).

(112) Likewise did We make for every Messenger an enemy,- evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception. If your Lord had so planned, they would not have done it: so leave them and their inventions alone.

The laws of human behaviour which help man progress on the path of guidance or goes astray, are part of Allah’s plan and it is in Allah’s plan to allow full freedom and autonomy to man to choose whatever path he may, after providing complete guidance and making the truth clear from falsehood.

(113) To such (deceit) let the hearts of those incline, who have no faith in the hereafter: let them delight in it, and let them earn from it what they may.

(114) Say: "Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? - when He it is Who has sent to you the Book, explained in detail." They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it has been sent down from your Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.

(115) The word of your Lord does find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who hears and knows everything.

The word here refers to the laws of Allah which none can change and through which Allah ensures justice.

(116) Were you to follow the common run of those on earth, they will lead you away from the way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture: they do nothing but lie.

(117) Your Lord knows best who strays from His way: He knows best who they are that receive His guidance.

The verse refers to the characteristics of persons who strays from His way and those who receive guidance.

Arrogance and Rejection of Belief

(7:146) Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right - them will I turn away from My signs: Even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; and if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way; but if they see the way of error, that is the way they will adopt. For they have rejected our signs, and failed to take warning from them.

Arrogance to the extent that a person does not care for what is right is defiance of God. Such people will not believe in God or turn to what is right.

Whom Does God Guide?

(8:23) If Allah had found in them any good. He would indeed have made them listen: (As it is), if He had made them listen, they would but have turned back and declined (Faith).

It is the natural law of God that all those in whom is some good will incline towards His message and if God did make those in whom there is no good listen, they would still soon revert to their disbelief.

(10:32) Such is Allah, your real Cherisher and Sustainer: apart from truth, what (remains) but error? How then are ye turned away? (33) Thus is the word of your Lord proved true against those who rebel: Verily they will not believe.

The distinction between truth and falsehood is clear and anyone who turns away from the truth is clearly a rebel. The law of Allah (Allah’s word) is that a person who turns away from the truth in rebellion, will not believe.

Can A Person Living The Life Of Error And Falsehood Change Himself?

A person has to first accept that there is a problem and make a moral choice to change and seek God’s help. He must realize that refusing to learn to deal honestly with cognitive dissonance in its most basic form, is a lie to oneself and self-deception. Matz and his colleagues (2008) found that people who were extraverted were less likely to feel the negative impact of cognitive dissonance and were also less likely to change their mind. Introverts, on the other hand, deal more honestly with cognitive dissonance. This is hardly surprising since introverts are concerned with self-image and telling a lie to one self is more difficult and the extraverts are more concerned with what others say about them. The cronies, side-kicks and sycophants of the extraverts are there to heap praise on them whatever they say or do. If there are people who confront them with their lie and embarrass them, they will be conveniently categorized as belonging to the `enemy party’ and drowned with more lies. These people will never change if they have people who support them in their lie. Politicians therefore are some of the most adept liars and practitioners of systematic deceit and the most shameless among all the liars.

 Self-awareness and a desire to change is the key to changing oneself. You know when you are disregarding information that contradicts your stand on any issue. As Socrates said “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Develop self-awareness which is the first step to change.

If there is a conflict between what you desire and what you consider right, then consciously choose what is right. Learn to admit past mistakes, apologize for these and learn to move forward. The congenital liars when confronted with evidence that proves them wrong label the evidence ‘deceptive’. To them the uncomfortable truth is deception and their own comfortable lies are the truth.

People who talk about morals speak about the ‘conscience’ or the inner voice which is nothing but the cognitive dissonance that we experience when our action does not match what we consider to be right. This is not anything that we are born with but the values that we imbibe. To develop such a conscience, read the Quran to know right from wrong.

Can Prayer Help?

Prayer is a form of self-priming and is most effective in changing one’s behaviour. Belief in God helps but it should work even without such belief if the prayer is changed to a daily resolution or pledge.

This prayer (of the Prophet) is part of my daily morning prayers:

O Allah! Purge my heart of hypocrisy,

My conduct from dissimulation,

My tongue from falsehood,

And my eyes from treachery,

For You indeed know the treacherous glance of the eyes

And that which the heart conceals.

The Quran describes the laws of human behaviour but puts the same across as what God does. This is so since these are nothing but the unchanging laws of God which work inexorably in the most consistent and unchanging fashion. People take this literally and say that if God is allowing people to go astray or sealing up their hearts, or causing them to become “deaf, dumb and blind”, how can they be blamed? This is again more of self-deception and inability to take responsibility for the moral choices they themselves make or for the path that they have chosen even though God constantly reminds them that:

(4:120) Satan makes them promises, and creates in them false desires; but satan´s promises are nothing but deception.

(35:5) O men! Certainly the promise of Allah is true. Let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah. (6) Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents that they may become Companions of the Blazing Fire.


By Naseer Ahmed - 8/27/2018 3:13:07 AM



Source of the earlier discussion: http://newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/quranic-method-of-cognition-of-realities/d/116187

  URL: http://newageislam.com/debating-islam/by-sultan-shahin,-founding-editor,-new-age-islam/is-god-in-islam-just-and-rational-as-mutazillah-believed-or-arbitrary-and-despotic-as-hanbali-zahiri-ashari-maturidi-postulate?--does-quran-support-both-positions?/d/116231





TOTAL COMMENTS:-   49


  • To summarise:

    The sectarian differences in beliefs have little to do with what the Quran says, and no sect displays any great degree of faithfulness to the Quran. The various sects show a great amount of religious fervour, passion and zeal in sticking to their respective positions even though these may be contradictory to the Quran. Every sect is one form of extremism or another without any regard to what the Quran says on those beliefs that make them different from the rest. I find plenty of passion and zeal and deference to the previous imams, but very little of sincerity and honesty among the scholars. When it comes to faith, they forget what truth, honesty and consistency means. They are immoral, believing the ends justify the means. In fact, this is one immoral belief that I find common to most Muslims and the belief, that the ends justify the means is the true meaning of "shirk" or polytheism.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/5/2018 2:13:48 AM



  • What do we make of the burning question at one time of the createdness or otherwise of the Quran? The debate is void of what the Quran itself has to say on the subject and the very direct evidence from it as to its createdness. The Muʿtazilah wereadvancing only philosophical arguments. They argued that “God is pure Essence, without eternal attributes, because they held that the assumption of eternal attributes in conjunction with Essence will result in a belief in multiple coeternals and violate God’s pure, unadulterated unity. God knows, wills, and acts by virtue of his Essence and not through attributes of knowledge, will, and power. Nor does he have an eternal attribute of speech, of which the Qurʾān and other earlier revelations were effects; the Qurʾān was, therefore, created in time and was not eternal.” This argument is contradictory to what the Quran itself says about Allah’s attributes and the fact that the Quran is produced by Allah. The Muʿtazilah concept of unadulterated unity of God shorn of the sophistry of philosophy, is that either He does not exist, or He is some form of static essence or only a notion like an axiom in mathematics.

     Those who argued about the uncreatedness of the Quran also ignored what the Quran itself says on the subject. They were competing with the followers of other religions who claim their scriptures to be uncreated and couldn’t allow them to get away by claiming superiority! They exhibited blind fanaticism rather than reason and therefore ignored the clear evidence from the Quran to its createdness.

    Belief in predetermination does not make any sense at any level. If everything is predetermined, why did Allah create man with distinctive and highly developed cognitive skills, sent Messengers for his guidance and Books of revelations? This belief in another form of fanaticism and extreme form of self-denial. By denying to themselves any power/agency, they think they exalt God!

    Muslim society made tremendous progress during the first three centuries which I call the period of its innocence. This war to the finish between the Muʿtazilah and the reactionary fanatics ended its golden period of innocence. The reactionary fanatics won. I blame the Muʿtazilah for getting carried away by their studies in philosophy and losing touch with the Quran. They were without doubt the atheists of their time.

    The bane of Islamic scholarship has been that is has swung between extremes but never found the Golden Mean to this day. The Sufis are also full of mumbo jumbo, with superstitious beliefs, and philosophical arguments without any basis in the Quran, and therefore of little consequence beyond their own blind followers.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/5/2018 12:10:46 AM



  • Mutazilh's  claimed that human reason, independent of revelation, was capable of discovering what is good and what is evil, although revelation corroborated the findings of reason. Human beings would, therefore, be under moral obligation to do the right even if there were no prophets and no divine revelation.

    Such a rational approach is fully consonant with modernistic thinking and can be a liberating influence from literalstic mullahism.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/4/2018 1:13:38 PM



  • Muʿtazilah 

    What is in black is from: britannica.com/topic/Islam/Islamic-thought#ref298984 and what is in red is my comment.

     “The Muʿtazilah explained away the apparently predeterministic verses of the Qurʾān as being metaphors and exhortations.”

     Those apparently predeterministic verses are neither metaphors nor exhortations but proclaim the unchanging law of Allah. These are akin to fixing the seal of Allah after having laid down the law. For example, after having described who Allah guides to the right path and who Allah allows to stray, if Allah says “Allah guides whom He wills and allows to stray whom He wills”, Allah is putting the seal of finality to the description pre-empting all arguments of the type “why this why not that?” The Muʿtazilah failed to counter the believers in predeterminism with proper reasoning.

     They claimed that human reason, independent of revelation, was capable of discovering what is good and what is evil, although revelation corroborated the findings of reason. Human beings would, therefore, be under moral obligation to do the right even if there were no prophets and no divine revelation.

     This is where they veer towards atheism. Al-Fârâbî even cast doubts on the character of revealed religions and opines that the Prophets and the revealed religions articulate the same insights that philosophers express in their teachings. The prophets simply use the method of symbolization to make this wisdom more approachable for the ordinary people. In his opinion therefore, the Prophets were only philosophers, who used the framework of religion to make their ideas acceptable to the common man. This false notion that the prophets are only philosophers, is what made philosophy usurp moral principles from religion, without acknowledging its debt to religion, since they make no distinction between the prophets and philosophers. The fact however is that philosophy, in its entire history starting from 600 BC, has never produced a single moral principle and all the moral principles have come solely from religion. The inimitability of the Quran, and indeed every Book of revealed scriptures, is the fact that these contain knowledge that was simply not possible for human beings in foresight, but perfectly comprehensible in hindsight.

     Revelation has to be interpreted, therefore, in conformity with the dictates of rational ethics. Yet revelation is neither redundant nor passive. Its function is twofold. First, its aim is to aid humanity in choosing the right, because in the conflict between good and evil human beings often falter and make the wrong choice against their rational judgment. God, therefore, must send prophets, for he must do the best for humanity; otherwise, the demands of divine grace and mercy cannot be fulfilled. Secondly, revelation is also necessary to communicate the positive obligations of religion—e.g., prayers and fasting—which cannot be known without revelation.

    Ethics has not come from rationality but from revelations. Rational ethics is therefore nothing but applying reason to ethics from religion or rationalizing what we want to do and therefore going away from what is ethical.

    Instead of using their reason to gain the best understanding of the Quran, the Muʿtazilah are now challenging the Quran

     When, in the early 9th century, the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Maʾmūn raised Muʿtazilism to the status of the state creed, the Muʿtazilah rationalists showed themselves to be illiberal and persecuted their opponents. Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (died 855), an eminent orthodox figure and founder of one of the four orthodox schools of Islamic law, was subjected to flogging and imprisonment for his refusal to subscribe to the doctrine that the Qurʾān, the word of God, was created in time.

    Not very ethical and unnecessarily coercive behaviour on an inconsequential matter! The fact is that the Quran contains unchanging laws with which Allah created the universe and these were created alongwith Time. It also contains answers to questions people asked. The Quran openly invites people to ask questions and assures that all their question would be answered, and the best explanation given. These are verses containing “hikmat” or the best way to apply the laws or an explanation of a law, and the “Duas” which were created in time as needed. The prohibitions were revised over the four thousand period of revelations and what was prohibited earlier was made lawful in a few cases and what was not prohibited earlier was subsequently prohibited.

     The differences in the opinions have more to do with philosophy and little to do with religion and even less to do with the very clear facts as explained. To persecute somebody for such differences, is barbaric and irrational.

     The Muʿtazilah do not give a very good account of their rationality and they have their own kinks and idiosyncrasies. Had they stuck to facts and reason based entirely on the Quran, they would never have lost their ground to the obviously very untalented, bigoted lot which finally prevailed.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/4/2018 1:24:41 AM



  • The comment of Dr Rafique Anwar quoting from  Maulana Azad’s Tarjumanul Quran is illuminating. However, what Kazi Wadud Nawaz says in his article Quranic Method of Cognition of Realities

     is of more practical value. While the essential “Zaat” of Allah is beyond our complete comprehension, many of His attributes are made very clear and evident. For example, that Allah never changes His ways. Allah’s word is His will and His law. All human striving and progress are because Allah never changes his word/law. If this were not so, we would not have had any laws at all – not the laws of physics etc. if every force of nature such as gravity, behaved in an unpredictable random manner, how could we plan for gravity in our creations for our benefit? All such sub-attributes of Allah are very clear. However, we do realise that Allah is more than a sum of the parts, because the why part of Allah’s purpose is only explained from the perspective of the Creator or not at all. We can see that everything is for “just ends” and that there is a design, purpose and perfect causality and the assurance that while there is injustice on this earth, justice will find perfection in the Hereafter. We can see all of this but only if we are willing to see things from the perspective of the Creator or with full faith and belief in Him, because there are no answers to the question “why create at all?”

     Allah’s clear attributes are manifested in His creation which is why the Quran says:

    (18:109) Say: "If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid."

    These copious words are left for man to write by pursing the study of Allah’s creation or the Sciences. To quote from Kazi Wadud Nawaz’s article:

    “The universe with all its interconnected physical phenomena manifests divine attributes extending towards the domain of spirituality and collectively leads towards a Singular Eternal Entity, the ultimate cause of all creations. The same thing happens with Time as a Divine Attribute.  Its manifestation and impact on the evolutionary process of life and universe constitute the comprehensible domain of divine signs in the physical world well within the cognitive capacity of Science. But the scientists are getting baffled and confused on the question of the origin of time, life, consciousness and the universe. Since all these points to the essence or ‘Zaat' of the Eternal Reality, they form the incomprehensible part of divine signs ie, "Ayat-E-Mutashabihaat". Their manifestations, impact and functional strategies all might come within the range of scientific endeavour as part of "Ayat-e-Muhkamaat" but the Ultimate Truth, in the final analysis, will be beyond the reach of science.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/3/2018 1:07:50 AM



  • ISIS ka kam kyaa hai ? Koi school,asptaal,kuchh bana kr dikhayey.
    Sirf goli chalawo,Shiya ko maro,ahmediya ko maro,Hindu ko maro,Kashmir mey patharbaji krawo.
    Sab bhediya ki aulad hai.
    Kerala mey kaafiron kaa khairaat mang kr khaayey,koi fatwa nhi nikla.
    By U.p. Ojha - 9/2/2018 10:10:50 PM



  • Hats Off says, " mr. ghulam mohiyuddin . . . .  thinks it is stupid to discuss God. so either God is stupid or mr. mohiyuddin is smarter."

    Hats Off's facility in lying and vilification is striking! He thinks he can take any meaning out of a statement that he wants to! I do say that it is not worthwhile to try to carry out a "scholarly" discussion on a subject that we know nothing about. But to derive the meaning: "either God is stupid or mr. mohiyuddin is smarter," from what I had said shows the degree of Hats Off's mala fides and mendacity.


    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/2/2018 12:18:07 PM



  • it appears that mr. naseer ahmed is god.
    He is able to say everything on His behalf and just as surely as He Himself can say it.
    in other words, mr. naseer ahmed is so well versed with God and what he has in His mind, that it is legitimate to ask if mr naseer ahmed is God Himself or mr. naseer ahmed has created God.
    anything is possible for mr. naseer ahmed. from denigrating greek gods to helping God decide what he has said in his holy(?) book.
    in the meanwhile mr. ghulam mohiyuddin - the moderate-extremist thinks it is stupid to discuss God. so either God is stupid or mr. mohiyuddin is smarter - one is very interested in farishthey sui par naachneke baarey mein.
    mashallah! kya kamaal kiya! jugnu ke peechey bijlee lagaa diyaa!
    each to his own inconsequentiality.

    By hats off! - 9/2/2018 10:07:44 AM



  • Quranic Concept of God
    From the standpoint of anthropomorphism versus transcendentalism, the Quranic concept of the transcendental assumes a state of perfection, such as had not been reached before. Prior to the delivery of the Quran, the highest that the human intellect could conceive of was that one should, in the place of images, worship an unseen God. But in respect of divine attributes, no concept anywhere could invest God with any attributes other than the human. Even the Judaic concept which disallowed image-worship in any form was not free from the taint of similitude. The wrestling of God with Jacob, His appearance on Mount Sinai in the form of a flame, Moses seeing the back parts of God, the God of Moses doing a thing in recklessness and then repenting thereafter, His treatment of Israel as his favourite wife and His lament over her unfaithfulness, His feeling of pain in his intestines and the production of a hole in his heart, and so forth are the portraits of God presented by the Old Testament.
    The fact is that prior to the Quranic concept, the mind of man had not risen high enough to discard the veils of anthropomorphic Similitude's and directly behold the splendour of divine attributes. We find in the Old Testament very fine attributes applied to God along with qualities and passions intensely human. Even Christ when he desired to speak of the universal mercy of God, was obliged to employ the similitude of relationship subsisting between father and son. It was this tendency to strike Similitude's which is responsible for the raising of Christ to the position of the Son of God. But when we turn from these concepts to the Quran, we feel as if new world of thought has suddenly made its appearance before us. All the veils of anthropomorphic Similitude's are lifted, and transcendentalism glows in perfection.

    Nought is there like Him (Q: 42: 11)
    No vision taketh Him in,
    but He taketh in all vision (Q: 6: 103) 
    Say: He is God, the One only:
    God, on Whom all depend!
    He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
    And there is none like Him.(Q: 112: 1-4)

    One great twentieth century Islamic Scholar as well as Sufi Master from Kolkata, India, Hazrat Ameer Ali Chishty says in his 'Sirajul-Ma'arifat' or 'The Height of Gnosis' thus:

    Gar kahoo'N Awal, Toh Mera nah toh koyee ibtedah;
    Gar kahooN Aakhir toh mera intiha be-intiha.

    (If I say, I'm the Beginning, then it's a Beginning without any starting point;
    Again If I say, I'm the ending, then it's an ending without any finishing point.)

    We may cast insightful look into the matter that is common to the Old Testament and the Quran. Wherever the Old Testament speaks of God as having made His appearance, the Quran speaks of only the light of God having appeared, and wherever the Old Testament speaks of God as having appeared in a concrete shape, the Quran speaks of an angel of God having appeared. As an example we may look into the following passages from the Old Testament.

    And the Lord said: Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
    And it shall pass while My glory passeth by, that I will put them in a cleft of the rock and will gather thee with My hand while I pass by:
    And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts:
    But My face shall not be seen. (Exodus 20:23)
    And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud and stood in the door of the Tabernacle...
    My servant Mosses...
    With him will I speak, mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold. (Numbers 12: 5-8)

    The Quran interpreted the above in the following manner:

    Moses said: 'O Lord, show Thyself to me, that I may look upon Thee'. He said, 'Thou shalt not see Me: but look towards the mount.' (Q: 7: 143)

    Now, there is definitely a difference between transcendentalism and nullification. Transcendentalism let's the human mind to divest itself of every human touch in its approach to divine attributes, whereas nullification is the negation of every attribute that might be conceived of by the human mind in its application to God, resulting in vacuousness. The aim of the Quran is to present a perfect transcendental vision of God and not to initiate a process of negations. Undoubtedly, the process of Neti Neti of the Upanishads afforded a very advanced view of transcendentalism. But what was the result in practice? The Absolute Brahma had to descend into the concrete form of Ishwara to avoid nullification.
    While the process of affirmation of attributes leads to anthropomorphism, the process of negation leads to total nullification. Similarly while personification or similitude denies us the perception of Reality, the process of negation denies us the consolation of positive belief. This is why the Quran has chosen the middle path.

    If no room is left for the mind to visualize any attributes for God, simply because every attribute suggested will have some resemblance to some human attribute, transcendentalism will lead to a total denial of God. Indeed it will never generate any definite belief. Whatever one might at the end visualize of God, it will in effect be a denial of God, for, we cannot dissociate the concept of not-being from that of being, if we have to depend entirely on the negation of attributes in our approach to God.

    The belief in God is an inward demand of human nature. To raise it from the animal plane to the high plane of humanity one must necessarily have an ideal before him. But the difficulty is that we cannot raise before our mind's eye any picture of the Absolute. If we care to raise one, we can do so only by personifying positive attributes. That is why we have always tried to look at the beauty of Reality through the veil of positive attributes. The veil has been sometimes thick and sometimes thin, sometimes frightening, and sometimes attractive, but it is there all the same. It has never been lifted.

    The fact is that the beauty of Reality itself has put on no veil over it. It's our eye that does not have the talent to behold it. We wish to see it with veils put on over our eyes, and fancy that the veil is on the countenance of Reality. Man cannot catch a non-attributive concept. He therefore wants to run after an object which he can catch and possess. He desires a beauty which he can passionately love and after whom he can madly run. He desires an object of benevolence before whom he can stretch his hand of supplication, and who, however high his station, is every moment intent on looking up to him.

    Surely My Lord is watchful. (Q: 89:14)
    And when My servant asks thee concerning Me, then will I be high unto him. I will answer the cry of him that crieth, when crieth unto me. (Q: 2:186)

    A nonattributive concept is negative in character. It cannot quench the human thirst. It will surely promote a philosophic outlook, but it can never become an active or living faith. This is the reason why the Quran pursues a path along which we not only get a perfect vision of the transcendental but feel competent to counter every form of anthropomorphic representation. It affirms individual attributes, one by one. But at the same time, it negates metamorphism. It says that God possesses all the attributes which man can conceive of for him. He is the Living (Hyyun), the All Powerful (Qadirun), the Creator (Khaliqun), the Merciful (Rahman ur Raheem), the All Seeing (Basirun), All Hearing (Samiyun), All Knowing (Alimun) and so on. Not merely this, but the Quran employs without any hesitation every form of figurative expression admissible in literature:
    Nay, both His hands are spread out. (Q: 5:64)
    His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth. (Q: 2:255)

    At the same time it makes it clear that nothing can be compared to God.
    Nought is like Him. (Q: 42:11)
    No vision taketh Him in. (Q: 6:103)
    So coin not Similitude's for Him. (Q: 16:74)

    His 'living' is not like our living, His 'Providence' is not like our providence, His 'seeing' or 'hearing' or ' knowing' is not like ours. The metaphor of hand is used only to denote His power and forgiveness, and that of Arsh to denote His majesty and His control. But the sense is not the same as may be formed of them in our mind in respect of their relation to human activity.

    The attitude adopted by the Quran in respect of the concept of God is the only way out. No other attitude will serve as a solution to this tangle. On the one hand, Reality is so high that the human intellect feels helpless to scale up to it. On the other, the restless urge in human nature to have a vision of this Realty is genuine enough. However much one may strive to look up, our gaze returns to us wearied. But the yearning to catch a vision of God is nevertheless intense.

    If we lean toward transcendentalism, we end in negation. If we go forward in the affirmation of attributes, we lose ourselves in anthropomorphism. Safety lies in proceeding cautiously along a middle path. We have neither to give the reins to transcendentalism, nor let affirmation slip out of our hand. Affirmation will effect a pleasing display of attributes. Transcendentalism will prevent the shadows of similitude to cloud our vision. The one will let the beauty of the Absolute appear in the glow of attributes. The other will hold back all similitude from throwing thereon its cloudy dust.

    The authors of the Upanishads went to extremes in their negation of attributes. The different schools of dialecticians among Muslims went beyond the Upanishads and rendered the problem of divine attributes highly intricate. The Jahimiya and the Batiniya denied attributes absolutely. The Mutizila, however did not deny them openly, but their leaning was decidedly towards the two groups. Imam Abul Hassan Ashari assumed a balanced attitude, as is evidenced by his Al-Ibana. But his followers indulged in extremist interpretations of attributes and complicated the issue. Imam Juini left the world saying: 'I go from this world believing the beliefs which my mother had imparted to me'. When a solution was furnished, it was furnished in the manner of the Quran. Imam Fakhruddin Razi of the school of Ashari, who took a leading part in the controversy, had ultimately to admit in his last work:
    'I employed all the methods which philosophy and dialectic had provided, but in the end I realized that these methods neither could bring solace to the weary heart nor quench the thirst of the thirsty. The best method and the nearest to reality was the method provided by the Quran. In respect of the affirmation of attributes, recite: Beneficent God is seated on the throne of heaven,--- and in the negation of Similitude's, recite: Nought there is like unto Him.--- In other words, do not lose touch with either- affirmation- or - negation. He who has had the opportunity to experience what I have experienced, will realize this truth even as I have done.' (Quoted by Maulana Azad in his 'Tarjumanul Quran, vol 1)

    Note: the write-up is based on Maulana Azad's Tarjumanul Quran:

    By Dr. Rafique Anwar - 9/2/2018 8:38:42 AM



  • Kaffir woh lannati loog hai jo loot maar karray aur ulta illzaam aus se pay lagatay hai jin loogo ko loot tay hai aur agar woh bay charay ahawaz outha ya tho yeh lootay ray aun baycharou ko ahatangwade khatay hai , kashmir pay kaffir loogo nay takath kay bal par kabzaa keya aur illzaam lagatay hai Kashmiriyou pay , yeh he hoti hai kaffironou key phachaan jo Jhoothay aur makkar hotay hai .
    By Qasim Kawa - 9/2/2018 3:39:58 AM



  • Shahin Sb,

    God has chosen to punish those who disobey His commands and forgive/reward those who are forever mindful of His commands. There are philosophers and philosophies positing that self-interest is the highest virtue rejecting altruism and collectivism which are the core of religious morality. Such people may very well ask why should man please God rather than please himself and therefore why God should punish those who follow a different philosophy. God’s preempts such potentially endless questions with “God punishes whom He wills and forgives whom He wills” after making known His will. God’s will is His unchanging law and not His whims as you appear to have understood. There can be no system of rewards/punishment without proclaiming the law which is why God proclaims the law as His will to reward/punish as per His law/will. The Divine will means the unchanging Divine Law.

     Pre-Determination and free will

     There are many factors that are out of the control of man. He did not choose his parents, the place of his birth nor determined his form and cognitive abilities. Man did not determine the laws of Human behavior. That is determined by God as per His will. While man can control his own behavior, he has very little control over the behavior of others and his environment.  For example, he could be killed in an accident without having been at fault.

     God’s tests, rewards, and punishments are only for deeds/actions over which God has given control to man and which are not subject to coercion by other people. If under threat of liquidation for your faith, you are permitted to even renounce your religion/God/Prophet without incurring God’s wrath. Allah’s guidance through Messengers and Books of revelations is only over things in which God has given man choice and the freedom to choose.

     Can we ignore any verse?

    A verse is either relevant to the question that you are asking or not relevant but never in contradiction of the relevant verses. You can therefore consider the entire Quran or the verses relevant to the question alone without going wrong. If you ignore a relevant verse, then obviously you will arrive at the wrong conclusions.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/2/2018 12:52:20 AM



  • Islam means peace not destruction
    Mr. up ojha
    By Shakeel Najar - 9/1/2018 11:15:03 PM



  • Shakeel Najar Then what do you do sir, fight and fight and destroy this heaven .
    By KB Pathak - 9/1/2018 11:14:22 PM



  • whole universe is stand by a bleaver, otherwise it will be destroyed much before
    By Shakeel Najar - 9/1/2018 11:13:26 PM



  • Abu Basim Khan Why Allah is beyond such debate ? When muhammad in Mecca can debate the existence of Meccan God , we can also debate Allah
    By Zaid Hamid - 9/1/2018 11:11:25 PM



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