By Kazi Wadud Nawaz, New Age Islam
24 August 2018
The Holy Qur'an is a Divine Manual of Universal Governance. It has been revealed for the guidance of mankind. It's a manual for transforming the world and building up individual and collective life of mankind on the basis of Islamic Law and Code of Conduct and to make them worthy of the status of Allah's Caliph on earth. General approaches of the Holy Qur'an towards cognition of the objective realities are as follows:
A. Open- Ended Qur'anic Approach of Cognition of Realities:
The Holy Qur'an through the verse (Qur'an:3:7) which is self-explanatory has clearly suggested a correct approach towards the understanding of the Reality through integration of comprehensible and incomprehensible aspects of divine signs.
"He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say, "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding." [Qur'an:3:7].
The basic principles of Islamic Faith, religious ethics, social and family laws and all verses related to Allah's Attributes or ‘Sifat' belong to the category of clear and comprehensible verses (Ayat-e-Muhkamat). Qur'anic verses that point to the miraculous events of the unseen occurring in the worldly life under direct divine intervention beyond the cognitive ability of mankind belong to the category of incomprehensible verses. (Ayat-e-Mutashabihaat)
The visible world forms the foundation of the clear and comprehensible domain of the Holy Qur'an (Ayat-e-Muhkamaat) that finds its extension in incomprehensible and non-visible reality (al-Gayeb) reflected by the allegorical domain of the Holy Qur'an (Ayat-e-Mutashabihaat).
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. And hence for the Modern Physics, Time is still an Illusion and so far as its beginning and origin are concerned will remain illusory beyond the cognitive ability of Science for all time to come.
Elevating Human Consciousness towards Just Estimation of Powers, Jurisdiction and Sovereignty of Allah (SWT):
"No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him" - says the Holy Qur'an [verse- 39:67]. Just estimate of Divine attributes is a vital component of faith of a believer. The Holy Qur'an, from beginning to end has described and explained in details, the depth and intensity of divine blessings and mercy on mankind, to convince him of Allah's greatness as the Creator.
All Qur'anic Verses without exception in course of argumentation have adequately dealt with logical basis of Allah's Sovereign Authority that demands acknowledgement and recognition of Divine Blessings from mankind on the stand-point of faith and morality.
The Holy Qur'an has provided mankind with a divine tool for evaluating and understanding the Attributes of Allah manifested in worldly life in its ‘True (Haq)' perspective. And Science in course of its advancement gradually reveals glories of Allah's creation unravelling underlying Laws of Universal Governance.
The Holy Qur'an considers the universe, the Heavens and the Earth as a Divine Book full of signs similar to the verses of the Holy Qur'an, stretched open for mankind to study and reflect on the manifestations of the Attributes of Allah as the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. The Holy Qur'an through many of its verses has revealed close similitude between divine signs of the physical world and the Holy Qur'an itself. Allah says:
"On the earth, there are signs for those of assured faith. As also in your own selves: will ye not then see? And in Heaven is your Sustenance, as (also) that which you are promised. Then by the Lord of heaven and earth, this the very Truth, as much as the fact that you can speak intelligently to each other." [Verses: 20, 21, 22 and 23].
Allah speaks to mankind, His Caliph on earth, in the language of divine signs pervading the physical world and also through the Books of Revelation.
Scientific knowledge as divine blessings has been bestowed on mankind by Allah to help the study of these books (the Book of Nature and Revealed Scriptures) and to explore the mysteries of divine creations.
B. Learning from the History:
The Holy Qur'an through many of its verses has given an open general call on mankind of all ages to learn from history. The divine punishment inflicted on the past community of Nuuh, Aad, Thamud, Lut and Farao for the transgression of values and morality is certainly a great negative lesson for mankind. The Holy Qur'an says:
"Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before them? They were even superior to them in strength, and in the traces (they have left) in the land, but Allah did call them to account for their sins, and none had they to defend them against Allah." [Qur'an:40:21].
"Something like the fate of the people of Nuuh, the Aad, and the Samud, and those who came after them: but Allah never wishes injustice to His servants." [Qur'an:40:31].
"Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those before them, though they were superior to them in strength? Nor is Allah to be frustrated by anything whatever in the heavens or on the earth: for He is All-knowing, All-powerful" [Qur'an: 35:44].
They all were held guilty of moral transgression and refusal to accept truth brought to them by the Prophets of their respective ages. The divine instrument of their punishment was all natural calamities like flood, Hail Storm, Thunderstorm, and Earthquake etc.
C. Uninterrupted Sequence and Continuity of Divine Intervention:
Allah's Art of Creation is an uninterrupted systematic process of development – sequentially coming into being and going out of being. The Holy Qur'an does not admit of any starting point for the creation of the universe and emergence of life on earth. As for the Holy Qur'an, the whole process of creation is certainly not a one-time divine affair. It needs Divine Intervention at every stage of development and change in the process of evolution. And Time that causes sequential recurrence of all natural events has a great role to play in the Evolutionary Process of Divine creation.
I agree with most of what Nawaz Sahab has written and my comment was confined to the essential "Zaat" of Allah, which strangely is misunderstood by even the scholars, philosophers and the Sufis, and their understanding contradicts Muhkamat verses.
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.
sb, 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
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
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.
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
(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).
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
(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
(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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
(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.
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
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.
Dear Nawaz Sb,
The Quran contains many
verses that describe Allah and a small part of His attributes which are clear
and among the Muhkamat verses. For example, "Allah does not change His
ways". It is a clear description of a very tiny part of Allah's attributes
but any of the 99 Names/Attributes of Allah are beyond the full comprehension
of man and these would have been completely incomprehensible, if Allah had not
bestowed on man, a small part of the same attributes. We make sense of Allah's
attributes only through a familiarity of what these mean to us as humans and
what it means as it concerns Allah is imperfect by the very nature of Allah who
is unlike anything we know. We therefore learn something of Allah's attributes
through what we know of these attributes in human beings and therefore only by
analogy or by “tashabaha” and imagine it to be similar for Allah. We therefore
have problems understanding why there is evil in this world or why Allah
punishes the sinners etc. or whether or not Allah is a creator of evil. If
Allah’s single attribute is correctly understood by a person, he would live in
complete harmony with Allah’s Deen which is not the case. The fact is
that the Deen of Allah is mostly misunderstood and the fault lies not with the
common Muslim, but with the scholars who show a poor understanding of Allah’s
attributes, to an extent that what they preach and what they follow make them
an enemy of Allah.
scholarship has failed to even make a distinction between a verse that lays
down the law, and a verse that is transactional or a one-time instruction which
must also follow a law. This is why verse 2:256 “let there
be no compulsion in religion” which lays down an eternal law, is treated as
abrogated by a transactional verse 9:5, which is a one-time judgment on a
people for specific crimes clearly mentioned in 9:13 and following the law of
the punishment suiting the crime. So, what have our scholars understood of any of
the attributes of Allah, if they can even consider that 9:5 (a transactional
verse) can become an eternal law abrogating anything that is contrary to it? Even
if all the Muslims do not hold the same outrageous view, why hasn’t the
remaining taken a clear stand on the issue?
There also appears to be a consensus view of all the
scholars that the punishment in 9:5 applied to all the Mushrikin including
those who had never fought the Muslims or violated their covenants. They hold
that even such Mushrikin had no choice but to either migrate, get killed or
accept Islam once their treaty with the Prophet expired. They say that none of
the Mushrikin had the choice of retaining their faith by becoming Jiziya paying
citizens as per 9:29. So, what attribute
of Allah comes through such an understanding? That Allah is a whimsical unjust despot
and Islam is a religion of deceitful scoundrels. If our scholars had any
understanding of Allah’s attributes, they would never have made such blunders
in their understanding nor is the correct understanding difficult since all
these verses are Muhkamat verses.
So, where does the problem lie? The problem lies in
the fact that our concept of Allah is a reflection of our own self and we
imagine Allah based on our own attributes. Allah’s attributes are therefore
understood only through analogy and through our own attributes which is why the
correct understanding of Allah’s attributes will always remain hidden since
nothing is really closely analogous to Allah. The very meaning of tashabaha and
Mutashabihat is explaining through analogy, similitudes and metaphor. We
imagine an unjust and immoral Allah for whom the end justifies the means
because we are such people. That is why Allah says:
"But only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart;
But those will prosper who purify themselves,
There is no god but He: That is the witness of Allah, His angels, and those
endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no god but He, the
Exalted in Power, the Wise.
Our scholars show no clear, unambiguous concept of
justice and morality. They 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. These issues of a correct
understanding are discussed in my articles:
The Ahadith That Distort The Message Of The Quran - Part
The Ahadith That Distort The Message Of The Quran – Part
The Importance of Getting the Story Right on the Divine
“all verses related to Allah's
Attributes or ‘Sifat' belong to the category of clear and comprehensible verses”
I have a difference of opinion here. Since “there is none like unto Allah” (112:4),
and (18:109): "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.", Allah’s attributes can never be fully described and the
fact is that we will always fall short of making a just estimate of what is due
We can only understand
based on what forms our experience and therefore Allah has given us in some measure,
His attributes, without which we could never have had any inkling of Allah’s
attributes and yet, can we have any real idea of any of Allah’s attributes? Can
we truly comprehend even Allah’s mercy? Allah’s mercy is reflected in His
creation, His design, His laws, His religion, the fact that He punishes, in the
creation of Heaven and Hell. Do we understand the following verses in terms of
(55:43) This is the Hell which the Sinners deny:(44) In its midst
and in the midst of boiling hot water will they wander round!(45) Then which of
the favours of your Lord will ye deny?
The words used for Allah’s
attributes are also human attributes and therefore the human attributes are similitudes
or “tashabaha” for Allah’s attributes and therefore such verses are among the Mutashabihat
If we truly understood
even one of Allah’s attributes, we would have attained the position of the
prophets in terms of closeness to Allah. Our understanding can come close but
never fully comprehend even one of Allah’s attributes since these can only be
described in terms of what we are familiar with, and what we are familiar with
are human attributes.
Mutashabihat verses are
verses that use similitudes or metaphors for describing something for which precise
words do not exist. These give an approximate idea of the reality in terms of
what we know. These describe a comprehensible model of the reality but not the
reality itself which maybe indescribable because our knowledge, experience and
therefore our vocabulary is limited. Mutashabihat verses also cover knowledge
of this world which was beyond our comprehension at the time when the verses
were revealed but may today have become fully comprehensible.
Similtudes are also used
for better comprehension for example “as clear as glass”, “hard as a rock” etc.
What the verse 3:7 warns against is speculation of hidden meaning. The idea of
revelation is to reveal and not to hide and therefore there are no hidden
meanings. The Mutashabihat verses however give scope to dig hidden meanings and
it is this human tendency that is being warned against.
The Muhkamat verses are
simply verses that must be taken literally since these do not use similitudes