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
(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)
“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
“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
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
“Allah does what he wills.” (14:27)
(Allah is) the Doer of what He
“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)
“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.”
“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
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).
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).
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.
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
[“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.
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
Ahmed - 8/27/2018
: “…. 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
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:
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
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
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
(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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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).
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)
and envy of others is what makes people reject guidance in the first place.
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
(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
(1) The mutual rivalry for
piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious
(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
(7) Again, ye shall see it
with certainty of sight!
(8) Then, shall ye be
questioned that Day about the joy (ye indulged in!).
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
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)
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.
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
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.”
many people who show an unflinching determination to disregard half of the
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
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
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).
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."?
(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.
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
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).
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
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.
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.
"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.
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.
here refers to the laws of Allah which none can change and through which Allah
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.
Lord knows best who strays from His way: He knows best who they are that
receive His guidance.
refers to the characteristics of persons who strays from His way and those who
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
(of the Prophet) is part of my daily morning prayers:
Purge my heart of hypocrisy,
And my eyes
indeed know the treacherous glance of the eyes
which the heart conceals.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.”
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
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