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aldoctor

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  1. While I think the reaction ot the Pope's message is perhaps a bit much, it is fine rto protest in a civili manner that he did not say this is the Empor'rs idea and the Islam and Mohamad is no such thing, I think that some Moslems do not even know how to protest in a civlized manner. Take for example the church fire bombing in Palestine. How will expect a person will react when you protest being called evil by firbombing a house of worhsip like a church. I know the perpetraters of these attack are so far behind mentally that my comment here will never reach them. However, the bacwardness of some Moslems stands out and there needs to be a way to stop them. The Irony escapes them when they protest a par tof a speech about the use of violence by fire bombings. I mean, get a clue.
  2. Not to beat a dea horse: I have one other thing to say in a different vain. The question of whether violence is acceptable to spread religion is a pre god one. It is a question of moral philosophy whether the ends are justified by the means. In other words one should hev resolved this question before blieveing in god. In other words, while religion does play a roles in setting up axioms and gives answeres to grey areas in both metaphysics and law, the question he is presenting is pre religion. So in a sense this is a very important and general question ebing aske answered in a narrow way. While trying to address it from this aristotalian may be appropriate for a secular philosopher, I do not know how appropriate it is from the Pope. Were we to proceed in the aristotalian vain, then what is the use of a divine message? Because the Jewish tradition of the Medrash and the Figh is not availble in the christian tradition, you see this need to use Greek tradition bare of what otherwise would be an enriching set of axioms a religious tradition affords.
  3. Dear Salim : I do not have a strong reaction to the quote. If the Popoe spoke of christianity as being more groudned in Greek thought than Islam, then he only read the Italian translation and not he oiriginal manuscripts by Aviciennna and Averoes among others who are Muslim writers who grounded Islam in aristotalian thought centuries before that was done for christianity. In fact if one reads Lock and other Christian writers you will notice that they plajuized muslim ideas about the intergration of Greek thought in. TH is is a book I have wanted to write for a while, but I don't have time for it. I do not think it is a secret. If you examin the fact the Ibn Seena and Ibn Rushed's names were altered to sound less Arab you will understand that the prejudice again Arab's and Muslims is deeply rooted and will not allow anyone to give them credit for the eovlution of christianity in the more rational direction. I will make two more posts you guys can forward it to the Vatican if you would like one original philsophical discussion in modern terms. The other is an hisotrical exploration of Islamic and its realtion to Greek philosophy. PHILOSOPHY AND ISLAM Philosophy is concerned with the fundamental questions about nature and reality. Al-Kindi called philosophy the most exalted science, since it dealt with issues which are universal. Al-Kindi (Alkindus, 800 – 873 CE) is recognized as the first Arab or Muslim philosopher. He defines philosophy as the love of wisdom, from the greek words philo (friend) and sophia (wisdom). (Kindi 18-19) Ibn Rushd (Averroes) goes a step further and states that the Quran makes the study of philosophy obligatory upon all believers. Ibn Rushd (Averroes, 1128 – 1198 CE) is considered a major Aristotelian Muslim and Spanish philosopher. He states that philosophy is nothing more than the study of beings and reflection upon them. The Quran encourages mankind to “Reflect, you have vision.” At another place it states, “have they not studied the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and whatever things God has created?” Here God is urging the readers to study the world and how and why objects and beings exist. Ibn Rushd concludes that God requires man to try to obtain demonstrative knowledge of His existence. But prior to having demonstrative knowledge, Man must be able to have dialectical, theoritical and logical knowledge. That is for man to learn he must know the basis of reasoning. Hence, philosophy is not only necessary but also commanded by the divine. (Ibn Rusd 44-46) Al-Ghazzali finds serious problems with the philosophers of his era. He writes, “they have abandoned all the religious duties of Islam imposes on its followers.” He thinks that the kind of reasoning used by philosophers would never result in the proof of the existence of God. Al-Ghazzali (Algazel, 1058 – 1111 CE) was an extremely influential orthodox Muslim thinker who rebuffed many of the claims of the ‘philosphers’ who claimed they could proof God by reason alone. Ibn Rushd admits that philosophy may have its harms as a discipline, but these harms are no greater than those resulting from the study of medicine or law. Since, the study of philosophy is commanded by God Himself, it is obligatory, although it is possible to misuse the science for other purposes. (Ibn Rushd 47). As Al-Kindi and most Muslim philosophers agree philosophy cannot reach as far as revealation can. Hence, the basis of our actions should be based upon Islam, whereas philosophy ought to be considered as an independent discipline. It should also be noted that the thrust of Ghazzali’s argument is not against philosophy, but rather its use. His main concern is that the philosophers are drawing conclusions from their ‘arguments’ that are not valid. Muhammad Iqbal sees no contradiction between faith and reason. Iqbal (1877-1938 CE) in this century is considered the poet-philosopher of Islam, his works have been extremely influential in the revival of Islamic thought. He was born in (what is now) Pakistan but studied in Britian and Germany, thus providing insight into both philosophical traditions. He thinks that both thought and intuition arise from the same source and don’t oppose each other, but rather are complimentary. Reason aims at understanding the physical world and existence, whereas religious experience aims at transcending this world and achieving the knowledge of the ultimate. Iqbal then thinks that it is necessary for Muslims to engage themselves in the study and science of philosophy in order to redefine Islamic culture, which is now confronted with a more advanced western civilization. If Muslim thinkers fail in this challenge, then Muslim thought may be absorbed by Western philosophy, as the two cultures begin to integrate further. This debate is not uniquely Islamic, similar debates have persisted in Christian thought as well. While religious tensions in Europe were hindering analytical thought, it was flourishing in Muslim lands. As the Churches influenced decreased a more dynamic movement emerged in Europe brining with it a whole new worldview moving towards reason and away from dogma. Today many Christian theologians also use philosophy to justify their positions, as is similar among certain Muslim groups. The irritating problem, however, is to uphold the conclusion of these theists on purely philosophical grounds, in the face of a challenge from radical skepticism. Philosophy aside, Muslims also need to know what the Qur'anic position on the problem of evil is. Of course the Qur'anic text does not explicitly deal with philosophical questions, but it is quite easy to interpret the sacred text to support a limited role for reason. The verses which probably contain the closest parallel to our discussion are in Surah 2 (given below). They occur before the sin of Adam and the expulsion from the Garden, in the form of a dialogue between God and the angels. And when thy Lord said to the angels, 'I am setting in the earth a viceroy.' They said 'What, wilt Thou set therein one who will do corruption there, and shed blood, while We proclaim Thy praise and call Thee Holy?' He said, 'Assuredly I know that you know not.' {Surah 2 (al-Baqara), verse 28} While the above talks only of moral evil (corruption and bloodshed), the fact is that this particular verse raises the question of evil and deals with it in an exceptionally direct manner. The answer given, significantly, is not an exercise of metaphysical sophistication. It is essentially just the assertion that God's knowledge is greater than ours, with the implication that humans cannot fully understand the divine will. This practically admits to non-rationalism. And once we admit to a non-rational framework, neither moral nor natural evil remains problematic. The non-rational solution to the problem of evil is simply to assert that evil ultimately allows a greater good, and that the human tool of logical understanding cannot explain this fact of reality. It hinges upon the incapability of comprehending absolute/divine truths on the part of the non-divine, which is at the core of the Qur'anic response above. Although rationalist Qur'anic interpreters would disagree with the above interpretation, the fact is that it is quite in keeping with other vague Qur'anic positions on metaphysical problems. The fact is that the Qur'an does not seem primarily interested in discussing philosophy, but in showing people how to live. It is only by realizing this that we can understand the core of the Qur'anic teaching. For while evil and suffering are a logical problem for believers, they present an existential difficulty which applies to non-believers as well. The problem of evil is really only the monotheist version of a basic question which people face; namely, how does one live when life contains such cruelty and unhappiness? The only means available is hoping that happiness is within reach and goodness is still possible. In the monotheist context, this hope crystallizes as faith in God, a divine-centered morality and a sense of ultimate purpose. For non-monotheists, it simply remains a more diffuse optimism. Unfortunately this basic commonality is often overlooked, in no small part due to the antagonism which is commonplace between religious and irreligious people and their beliefs. Of modern philosophers, Soren Kierkegaard was one of the few to acknowledge the religious "leap of faith" as a fundamentally existentialist phenomenon. COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS The cosmological argument was first introduced by Aristotle and later refined in western Europe by the celebrated Christian theologian, Thomas Aquinas (d.1274 CE). In the Islamic tradition, it was adopted by Al-Kindi, and Ibn Rushd (Averroes). The argument has several forms, the basic first-cause argument runs as follows. Every event must have a cause, and each cause must in turn have its own cause, and so forth. Hence, there must either be an infinite regress of causes or there must be a starting point or first cause. Aquinas and Al-Kindi reject the notion of an infinite regress and insist that there must be a first cause, and the first cause must be God, the only uncaused being. Another form of this argument is based on the concept of a prime-mover. This is the Aristotelian form of the argument also propounded by Averroes. The premise being that, every motion must be caused by another motion, and the earlier motion must in turn be a result of another motion and so on. The conclusion thus follows that there must be an initial prime-mover, a mover that could cause motion without any other mover. Two kinds of Islamic perspectives maybe considered with regard to the cosmological argument. An positive Aristotelian response strongly supporting the argument and a negative response which is quite critical of it. Among the Aristotelian thinkers are Al-Kindi, and Averroes. Al-Ghazzali and Iqbal maybe seen as being in opposition to this sort of an argument. Al-Kindi is one of the many major and first Islamic philosophers who attempt to introduce an argument for the existence of God based upon purely empirical premises. In fact, his chief contribution is the cosmological argument (dalil al-huduth) for the existence of God, in his On First Philosophy. (Nasr 168) He presents four different versions of this argument, all are variation of the cosmological argument which require a cause. One of the arguments revolves around the principle of determination (tarjjih), that is prior to the existence of the universe it was equally likely for it to exist or not to exist. The fact that it exists, implies that it required a determining principle which would cause its existence to prevail over non-existence. This principle of determination is God. (Kindi 58) This is similar to Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason (Russell 568) (Cassierer 73) Leibniz argues that everything in the world is contingent that it may or may not have existed. Something will not exist unless there is a reason for its existence. This rests on his premise that the actual world is the best possible world, as such we can account for everything in it as being there for a specific reason. But the universe as a whole, requires a further reason for existence, and that reason for Liebniz is God. It should be noted that Liebniz’ theory of the best possible world is flawed. We can conceive of a better world than any possible ‘best’ world that can be created. An additional unit of pleasure or goodness can be added to it to make it better. Therefore, it seems implausible to think that a ‘best possible world’ could ever exist. There are difficulties with this kind of an account of the universe. It seems to lead to the conclusion that all truths are necessary. That is, if everything exists because the reasons for its existence supercede the reasons for it non-existence, then it will necessarily exist. Everything and anything with a sufficient reason to exist will exist. Therefore, the universe and everything in it, must necessarily exist. Since, the superiority of its potential existence over its non-existence provides the required determining principle (of Kindi) or sufficient reason (of Liebniz), for it to exist. It appears now that the bringing into being of the universe is not contingent upon the will of God, rather it is something that is as necessary as the existence of God Himself. This seems implausible. In response Liebniz argues that its existence is only theoretically necessary and God may or may not implement it. However, if God is all good, He would clearly be obliged to bring into being the best possible world. (Sosa 515). A second argument of his draws its inspiration from Islamic and Aristotelian sciences. He argues that only God is indivisible, and everything other than God is in some way composite or multiple. Kindi describes his concept of God, He has no matter, no form, no quantity, no quality, no relation; nor is He qualified by any of the remaining categories (al-maqulat). He has no genus, no differentia, no species, no proprium, no accident. He is immutable… He is, therefore, absolute oneness, nothing but oneness (wahdah). Everything else must be multiple. (Sharif 429) This for Kindi was a crucial distinction upon which he rested some of his main arguments for God’s existence. In Kindi’s theory only God’s oneness is necessary whereas that of all others is contingent upon God. Hence all other beings single or multiple must emanate from the ultimate essential being. In addition this first being must be uncaused, since it is the cause of everything else. (Fakhry 78) The material world cannot exist ad infinitum because of the impossibility of an actual infinite (a concept borrowed from Aristotle). The material world can also not be eo ipso eternal, because of the impossibility of an infinite duration of time, since the existence of time is contingent upon the existence of bodies and motion, which have been shown to be finite. As such the world requires a creator, or rather a generator (mudhith) in Kindi’s scheme, who could generate the world ex nihilo. (Fakhry 74-79) The other arguments he presents are similar versions of the first cause argument, and hence are subject to the same criticisms that apply to any cosmological argument. These criticisms come not only from western scholars but also Islamic ones. Ghazzali is unconvinced by the first-cause arguments of Kindi. In response to them he writes, According to the hypothesis under consideration, it has been established that all the beings in the world have a cause. Now, let the cause itself have a cause, and the cause of the cause have yet another cause, and so on ad infinitum. It does not behoove you to say that an infinite regress of causes is impossible. (Tahafut 90-91) Ghazzali thought that it is at least theoretically possible for there to be an infinite regress, and that there is nothing that necessitates a first-cause simply by pure deductive reason. He thus undermines one of the essential premises of the first-cause argument. Muhammad Iqbal also rejects the argument stating, “Logically speaking, then, the movement from the finite to the infinite as embodied in the cosmological argument is quite illegitimate; and the argument fails in toto.” For Iqbal the concept of the first uncaused cause is absurd, he continues: It is, however, obvious that a finite effect can give only a finite cause, or at most an infinite series of such causes. To finish the series at a certain point, and to elevate one member of the series to the dignity of an un-caused first cause, is to set at naught the very law of causation on which the whole argument proceeds. It is for these reasons that modern philosophers almost unanimously reject the cosmological argument as a legitimate proof for the existence of God. Kant for example also rejects any cosmological proof on the grounds that it is nothing more than an ontological proof in disguise. He argued that any necessary object’s essence must involve existence, hence reason alone can define such a being, and the argument becomes quite similar to the ontological one in form, devoid of any empirical premises. Al-Kindi’s argument has been taken up by some contemporary western philosophers and dubbed the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Kalam being the Islamic science of dialectical reasoning. Among its chief proponents today is Dr. William Craig. (Ramey). It proposes to show, contrary to what Ghazzali thought, that the universe must have necessarily had a beginning. A contrast is drawn between two concepts, the “potential infinite” and an “actual infinite.” A potential infinite is a concept of an infinite series, to which more things can be added. For example, there maybe and infinite number of integers, however in any one set there will be a finite number of them. An “actual infinite” would be a set which would contain all possible integers. This would be impossible, since there are an infinite number of integers. Once a set is defined, another integer can always be found to add to it. They can never actually exist. Ramey qoutes a famous mathematician David Hilbert: … the actual infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought—a remarkable harmony between being and thought… This forms an essential part of the argument, it demonstrates that an infinite regress could not exist, and that the universe can not possibly be actually infinite, in and of itself. The argument goes on to show that if the universe could not be actually infinite or eternal, given the principle of causality, it must have a first-cause or creator, which is God. Now, it maybe argued, that if an actual infinite cannot exist, then how can God exist? Since the concept of God, is one of an uncaused and infinite being. Al-Kindi’s answer is quite interesting. He states that it is not fair to ask this question of God, since God is not an “actual infinite.” God is not a set or collection of things, He is one. God is an absolute unity, and hence on Al-Kindi’s scheme God should not be thought of as an ‘infinite’ (Fakhry 77). It is not clear, however, if the Kalam argument successfully shows the impossiblitiy of an infinite, a common response (which is also offered by Avicenna) has been to point out that there is no problem imagining an infinite that begins at the present and continues into the future, so it follows that it is entirely conceivable for the same infinity to continue in the past as well. (Sharif 503). Contemporary supporters of this argument have reformulated the first-cause argument to take away the difficulty of explaining why an infinite regress would be impossible. Hicks explains, “they interpret the endless series that it excludes, not as a regress of events back in time, but as an endless and therefore eternally inconclusive regress of explanations.” Thus a move is made from an infinite regress of events to an infinite regress of explanations. That is, if events can be explained with reference to other events there must be an ultimate reality of self-explanatory events behind this complex that would make the collective set comprehendible. Hence, no longer is a creator being sought, rather given the creation an ultimate reality is being sought which would explain, or make sense of, the complex and plethora of phenomena in the world. Even here, the non-theistic skeptic will ask what reason do we have to think that the universe is not simply an “unintelligible brute fact”? (Hick 21). TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS The version of the argument from design is best known in contemporary philosophy as presented by William Paley (1805) in his Natural Theology. He presents us with an analogy of a watch. Suppose that while walking in a deserted remote location one comes across a watch. Upon examining this device one may ask themselves how did this object come into existence. Surely it could not be by pure chance, it is composed of intricate and complex internal design. We are likely to think that it was a product of an intelligent designer. I.e. there must be a watchmaker. In the same way Paley argues that the universe is much more complex and manifestly designed. The extraordinary design is evident from planets and galaxies at the cosmic level to human cells and atoms at the quantum level. Therefore this world must have an intelligent creator. This form of the argument can be seen as an inference to the best explanation. That is given the remarkable phenomena of the universe, the best possible explanation for this, must be the existence of God. Elliot Sober explains this in terms of the Likelihood Principle, which he defines as: (Sober 31-33) O strongly favors H1 over H2 if and only if H1 assigns to O a probability that is much bigger than the probability that H2 assigns to O. Here O is an observation, and H is a hypothesis. The likelihood may be mathematically written as: [P (O/H)]. The probability of the observation given the hypothesis. The principle in probability theory form would state that: O strongly favors H1 over H2 if and only if P(O/H1) >> P(O/H2). This Sober makes clear is not to be confused with the Probability Principle which states can be written as [P (H/O)]. These are two importantly distinct principles, Sober gives an example of the observation (O) that while sitting in a cabin one hears rumblings in the attic. On the basis of this one forms the hypothesis (H) that there are gremblins in the attic and they are bowling. Now it is clear that the P (O/H) is very high, that is, if there were gremblin’s bowling (H) the likelihood of the rumbling noice (O) would be quite high. But P (H/O) in this case is very low. Since given the rumbling noise (O), the probability of the explanation being bowling gremblins (H) is small. “The gremblin hypothesis has a high likelihood but a low probability given the noises we hear.” (Sober 32). The likelihood principle a much better way to understand the inference to the best explanation, since in the case of God a hypothesis is being formed on the basis of observations, in the teleological sense. Paley, according to Sober, is attempting to apply the likelihood principle to the watch example. That is given that the watch is intricate and well-designed for time-keeping (O), the inference that it was designed by an intelligent creator (H1) is higher than the conclusion that it came into being via random natural processes. Symbolically written it would state: P(O/H1) >> P(O/H2). Paley next argues that if one accepts the above reasoning one is then obliged to accept the reasoning he gives for the universe as a whole. which is as follows: O: The world is intricate and well-designed for the purpose of supporting life. H1: The world is the product of an intelligent designer. H2: The world is the product of random physical processes. Given the above, Again Paley’s claim would be that: P(O/H1) >> P(O/H2). Both of the above are inferences to the best explanation on the basis of the likelihood principle outlined earlier. (Sober 33). Sober later rejects the notion presented by Paley, and argues that the likelihood of an evolutionary hypothesis supersedes the likelihood of a creationist hypothesis. Al-Kindi also attempts to make reference to the teleological proof (dalil al-‘indyah) for the existence of God. As he argues that “the orderly and wonderful phenomena of nature could not be purposeless and accidental” (Kindi 61) This is consistent with the Quranic verse “Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between!” (Yusuf Ali, Quran 21:16) The teleological argument analyses the material world and infers from it an Artificer or a creator, a self-conscious being of unlimited intelligence and power, who created this extremely complex world for a purpose and that creator is God. Muhammad Iqbal once again criticizes this argument in the following terms: At best, it [teleological proof] gives us a skillful external contriver working on a pre-existing dead and intractable material the elements of which are, by their own nature, incapable of orderly structures and combinations. The argument gives us a contriver only and not a creator; and even if we suppose him to be also the creator of his material, it does no credit to his wisdom to create his own difficulties by first creating intractable material, and then overcoming its resistance by the application of methods alien to its original nature. The designer regarded as external to his material must always remain limited by his material and hence a finite designer... (Iqbal 24) Iqbal is pointing out that any argument from design rests on the extraordinary complexity and almost perfect arrangement of the universe, so as to compel the observer to infer that there must be an intelligent designer. This is consistent with the watchmaker example presented by Paley. The two cases, the watch and the universe, are however, different. Unlike the case of the watch, where its builder put the complex machine together given pre-existing material, the universe and its material itself created by God also. That is, there is no point in finding it extra-ordinary that God would be able to organize pre-existing “intractable” material in such an elegant fashion. The only reason we would have of thinking so, would be if it was a difficult task to design the universe. But then why would God, first create a difficult task for Himself and then go on resolve the difficulty by arranging into a sophisticated pattern? In addition, God would be limited in what He could create by this pre-existing material. This, to Iqbal, does not seem consistent with the Islamic concept of an omnipotent God. Iqbal writes, perhaps in response to Paley, “There is really no analogy between the work of the human artificer and the phenomena of Nature.” (Iqbal 24) Bertnard Russell joins in this criticism, commenting on the teleological explanation he professes, But if a man is so obstinately teleological as to continue to ask what purpose is served by the creator, it becomes obvious that his question is impious. It is, moreover, unmeaning, since, to make it significant, we should have to suppose the Creator created by some super-Creator whose purposes He served. (Russell 85) Both Iqbal and Russell point out that it is inappropriate for a person who believes in God to put forth an argument for His existence on teleological grounds. The British philosopher David Hume also rejected the teleological argument, for different reasons. For him the argument from the best explanation is an inductive argument, and Hume had argued that inductive knowledge and causation is not possible. Hume rejected all theological works and claimed that they fail certain philosophical tests. He contended that metaphysical knowledge was not possible by either abstract or experimental reasoning. The problem of induction argues that it is impossible to make a justified inference from the observed to the unobserved. This is applicable to all such inferences. An example of such an inference is the following: we observe that “the sun rises everyday and has risen everyday for over several thousand years” on the basis of this observation we make an inference that: “Hence that the sun will rise tomorrow”. Hume claims that we are not at all justified in such an assumption. He asks what makes such an inference justifiable? Hume recognizes that we spontaneously make such an inference and that perhaps we have no control over it. But he is asking what is our justification for this supposed causal relationship? He asserts where is the causal glue that links the rising of the sun yesterday to the rising of the sun tomorrow? The only argument that can be made in support of it is that “Nature is uniform”. I.e. Nature has been uniform and will remain uniform thus we are justified in making inferences to unobserved events on the basis of what we have been observing. However, it must be noted that this argument in itself is an inductive one and begs the question. This is similar to the argument for the existence of God from induction, since the argument is being made that we can use empirical/inductive proofs, i.e. we can make inferences based upon what we observe (empirical) to the unobserved (God, Metaphysical). Hume denies that any such inference is at all logically justifiable. Bertnard Russell in response to this attitude states, “It is therefore important to discover whether there is any answer to Hume within the framework of a philosophy that is wholly or mainly empirical. If not, there is no intellectual difference between sanity and insanity.... This is a desperate point of view, and it must be hoped that there is some way of escaping from it.” (Russell 646) Most Muslim philosophers have attempted to get around this vexatious problem by simply recognizing the Quranic emphasis on the uniformity of nature, accepting it as such and thus avoiding this problem. The above problem of induction gave rise to modern skepticism and remains a fascinating unsolved puzzle. KANT’S CRITIQUE OF EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE Kant raises a powerful objection to any theory that claims to grasp knowledge of God. He claims that in terms of knowledge there can be no jumpt from the physical to the metaphsycial. Kant distinguishes between noumanal and phenomenal objects. The noumena are objects that lie beyond all possible experience, and the phenomena are the ones we directly experience. Hence, for him the metaphysical is the noumenal realm. He argues that there can be no possible relation between two realms that have no connection between them. How can we prove that a certain noumanal object exists from phenomenal premises? He asks. Ernst Cassirer, in his book Kant’s Life and Thought, comments: It is especially discordant for Kant on the one hand to consign reason in its determination of actuality completely to the data of experience, and on the other to entrust to it the power of bringing us to unconditional certainty regarding an infinite being lying beyond all possibility of experience. (Cassirer 76) Although he does not deny that there are metaphysical objects (In fact he argues for their existence from practical reason), he rejects this particular avenue for arriving at what he calls synthetic and a priori objects. Iqbal responds to Kants criticism of metaphysical existence from empirical experience as follows, “Kant’s verdict can be accepted only if we start with the assumption that all experience other than the normal level of experience is impossible. The only question, therefore, is whether the normal level is the only level of knowledge-yielding experience.” He will argue, as we will see later, that there are other levels of experience that can bear knowledge as well. ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS The modern form of the ontological argument in modern western philosophy was made famous by Anselm and Descartes. The argument rests on the premise that existence is a predicate that a being could have or lack. A summary of Anselm’s argument is as follows: P1) God is a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. P2) A being than which nothing greater can be conceived to exist in our thought. P3) Either a being than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in thought alone and not in reality or a being than which nothing greater can be conceived exists both in thought and in reality. P4) If the greatest conceivable being existed in thought alone we could think of another being existing in both thought and reality. P4) Existing in thought and reality is greater than existing in thought alone. C) Therefore: A being than which nothing greater can be conceived (God) exists in thought and in reality. Simply by pure reason, without any reference to the world, Anselm argues for God. A key feature of this these kind of arguments is that they try to show not only that God exists, but that he necessarily exists. That is, He cannot, not exist. The existence of God is an essential feature of its being just like the angles of a triangle always add up to 180 degrees. It would be impossible to think of God without it existing. Descartes writes, From the fact that I cannot think of a mountain without a valley, it does not follow that a mountain and a valley exist anywhere, but simply that a mountain and a valley, whether they exist or not are mutually inseparable. But from the fact that I cannot think of God except as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from God. Hence, the very essence of God, to even make the concept of God intelligible it must exist. This argument has been widely criticized. Kant criticized the argument from two perspectives. First he points out that, although, the concept that all three sides of the triangle add up to 180 is an analytical concept, there is still nothing that shows that it must exist. Similarly the idea that existence analytically belongs to the concept of God is an illegitimate inference. He writes, To posit a triangle, and yet to reject its three angles, is self-contradictory; but there is no self-contradiction in rejecting the triangle together with its three angles. The same holds true of the concept of an absolutely necessary being. (Kant 3:4) Secondly, he rejects Descartes argument on the grounds that existence is not a predicate that can be added or taken away from a concept. That is, existence is not like any of the other properties that are associated with ‘things.’ To say that something exists, is simply to say that the concept is instantiated in the world. He claims this on the basis of his distinction between analytic and synthetic statements. An analytic statement is one of the kind, “all bachelors are unmarried males,” or “the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180.” In these statements the predicates, “unmarried males” or “sum of angles is 180” does not add any new information to the concept of “bachelors” or “triangle.” Analytic statements are true by virtue of their meaning alone. A synthetic statement is something that adds more information about the object in question. For example, “all ravens are black,” is synthetic. The predicate “are black” tells us more information about the subject “ravens.” Kant’s claim is that statements of the sort, “X exists” are analytic. It does not add anything additional to the concept. Hence the inference that existing in reality is greater than existence in thought alone is false. The reductio ad absurdum from pure thought to God, of Anselm and Descartes thus fails according to Kant. The closest form of parallel thought to this can be found in the thought of Avicenna (981 – 1037 CE). He also shared Descartes methodological doubt and proposed a somewhat similar ontological argument for the existence of God. (Shiekh 77). Avicenna also propounded that God is a necessary being, however, his argument unlike Descartes is not a purely rational one. Avicenna believed that we possess a direct intuitive apprehension of the reality and existence of this necessary being. He believed that it would be impossible to think concretely without the existence of such a being. Averroes, however, insists that there can be no rational proof for God’s existence and it can only be grasped via the medium of intuition. The God that Avicenna argues for is a Necessary Being. A being that necessarily exists, and everything else besides it is contingent and depends upon it for its existence. God has no other essence besides his existence. His essence (mahiyah: quidditas), just is His existence. Since, God is the only being in which the essence and existence are to be found together, the essence of all other beings precedes their existence. Thus He is absolutely simple, and no has no further attributes. (Sharif 501) In his book al-Shifa Avicenna explains that since the Necessary Being has no genus or differentia it is both indefinable and indemonstrable. As such “neither its being or its actions can be an object of discursive thought, since it is without cause, quality, position or time.” (Fakhry 153-154) All other entities do not exist necessarily or essentially, rather they are merely contingent beings (per accidens). The characteristics of God offered by Avicenna drew major criticisms from the contemporary Muslim orthodoxy, who found his definition incompatible with Islamic doctrine. “not a particle remains hidden from God in the heavens or on the earth.” (Quran) How can God be omniscient if He has no attributes. He does try to explain, however, how his description would be compatible with God having knowledge of the world. In knowing Himself, God is capable of knowing everything that emanated from Him. Since God does not have sense-perceptual knowledge He cannot know the particulars, but rather only the essences or universal principles. But according to Avicenna this does not exclude him knowing the specifics of any given event. Knowing all the antecedents and consequences in the causal chain, allows God to place the event temporally and differentiate it from all other events. Hence, his theory does not preclude God’s knowledge of the specifics. Al-Ghazzali was not satisfied with this account and criticized Avvicenna stating that the theory being presented would not allow for change in divine knowledge with the introduction of the time factor. (Sharif 502) Another important characteristic of Avicenna’s ontology was the fact that he believed that the universe is eternal. This was another belief, which was not acceptable to the Islamic orthodoxy. He thought the creative ability of God was linked to His intellectual nature and thus flowed eternally of rational necessity from Him. Although the universe exists as an independent body, its existence is still contingent upon God. God and the world are different, but the existence of the world depends upon God. This can be seen as refinement, or rather ‘islamization’ of the Aristotelian view that God and the universe were two distinct beings which did not interact with each other. PROBLEM OF EVIL One of the major arguments proposed against the existence of God in contemporary western philosophy is the problem of evil. It is based upon the inability to reconcile the magnitude of evil in the world with the all-loving nature of God. John Hick describes the problem from the perspective of its proponent, “If God is perfectly loving, God must wish to abolish all evil; and if God is all-powerful, God must be able to abolish all evil. But evil exists; therefore God cannot be both omnipotent and perfectly loving.” This thus causes difficulty for the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God who possess both qualities of being all-loving and omnipotent. David Hume is a proponent of this view and argues that the sheer amount of evil, which may outweigh the good, in the world makes dubious that a deity exists. (Pojman 167). The main response to this kind of an argument is known as the free-will defense. It is based on the premise that for God to create self-directly and independent agents like humans, he had to grant a certain amount of freedom to them, and this freedom would inevitably result in human-to-human evil. It has been proposed that there need not be a contradiction between God creating morally free agents and making it the case that all their actions turn out to be good. But it can be argued that in that case, are the beings really as free as humans? If all our actions were predestined in this way, there would be a sense in which we would not be free and only an allusion be created thereof. Although God could have created beings of this sort, they would have amounted to mere puppets and not vibrant beings as envisioned by God. (Hick 39-41) THE FREE WILL DEFENSE The primary difficulty with the problem of evil is resolving the apparent conflict between the reality of evil in the world and the claim that God is: 1) Omniscient -- All knowing 2) Omnipotent – All powerful and 3) Wholly Good One version of the free will defense is to compare the current state of the world with a world in which all actions were good and no evil was possible. It is important here to point out that the good that is being referred to is ‘moral good.’ That is, it is good that is a result of the conscious actions of people. This is distinct from ‘natural good’ or ‘natural evil’ which maybe result from non-human causes. The free will defense (FWD) theorist points out that in order for man to be in a position to do ‘moral good’ he must be ‘significantly free.’ That is, he must be in a position to make a choice between making a morally good or evil action. Given that in the current world (World-1) human agents are given this freedom, a certain level of moral evil is unavoidable. This world would still be more preferable to a possible World-2 in which there were no free actions (thus no freedom) but all actions performed were entirely good. A critic of this defense will point out that if God is all-powerful (omnipotent) then it ought to be in His capacity to create a World-3 in which humans had freedom, yet all their actions turned out to be good. Thus their actions would be predetermined to be good, yet they would still have the free option of choosing between morally good or bad actions. The agent would have the freedom to chose any action they like, it would just be that whatever choice they made it would turn out to be good. This would entirely be within God’s power since He is omnipotent and is only limited by logical impossibilities. The challenge for the FWD theorist is to show that Freedom and Causal Determinism are both mutually inconsistent. It can’t both be the case that humans are free agents, and that their actions are causally predetermined. (Pojman 203) The crucial question is, can God can create any world?, Alvin Plantinga attempts to answer this question. First, he points out that Leibniz was mistaken in thinking that God would have to, and thus did, create the best possible world. Plantinga argues that there can be no such thing as the best possible world, since to any world one more unit of pleasure or goodness can be added to make it even better. Thus it seems implausible to think of the best possible world as existing. This then is one instance when God cannot create any world. Secondly, he argues that God cannot create a world in which Man is both significantly free, yet his actions are already determined. His proof on this premise has to do with a thought experiment. We can imagine a case in the present world in which we know given certain conditions person A would hypothetically engage in a morally evil action. It would no be impossible for God to create a world that were almost identical the present world, except that the person would then not engage in the evil. Since, to do so would deny him the freedom of individuality and his personality. That is, for God to ensure that he not engage in the evil would deny his freedom. The only other solution is for God to not create the world at all. He argues that for any world God could create, which included freedom, there is at least one action on which Man would go wrong, or else he could not create any world at all. This phenomenon he calls transworld depravity. Therefore, for God to create a world in which humans had moral freedom, the existence of both Good and Evil is necessary. (Platinga 211). ISLAMIC REACTION TO THE PROBLEM OF EVIL Islamic philosophers of the middle ages did not address this problem in any direct fashion. This maybe because in the context of Muslim thought, the existence of God was a prerequisite. In fact, the aim of the philosophers was to prove the existence of God using Aristotelian logic. So we do not find Muslim philosophers arguing against the existence of God, on the contrary they are attempting to justify the qualities of God from a philosophical perspective. The Muslim philosophers did, however, tackle a different but somewhat similar issue concerning the unity of God. The central problem facing them was how to reconcile the absolute unity and perfection of God with the fact that there exists in the world such great amounts of imperfections. If God is all perfect and the world is a result of divine will, we are then faced with the problem of duality between God and His will. Yet it is this very difference (i.e. the imperfection of the world) that sets it apart from God (who is perfect). How is this consistent with the absolute unity (tawhid) of God which is so central to Islamic doctrine? This issue had been one of the major issues of Muslim thought, and was a subject of great debate between Al-Ghazzali, and other neo-platonic Muslim thinkers. (Landau 17) It is, however, difficult to find any direct analogue to the problem of evil in medieval Islamic philosophy. However, some positions held by early Muslim thinkers maybe relevant to the free will defense. Early Muslim Aristotelian thinkers like Ibn Sina held that God is a necessary being, who had no other attributes besides His existence, and that all other beings emanated from the divine by necessity. Despite holding this position, they attempted to reconcile it with Islamic doctrines. Ghazzali points out that this is not possible. That is, to say that whatever proceeds from God does so by necessity denies God agency, i.e. it denies Him Free Will. If God has no will, since he has no attributes, then God has no free choice to decide which world to create. It seems that Ghazzali’s criticism can be equally applied to advocate of the problem of evil who states that God by necessity must always in a way that will ensure that its consequences are wholly good. This would then break down the dilemma posed by trying to reconcile the divine attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, wholly goodness versus the reality of evil in the world. Since, now God would not be obliged to abide by the condition of wholly goodness. (Ghazzali 63) Another stream of thought in Islam, advocated by Ghazzali, Ibn Arabi, Al-Attas and Islamic mystical traditions, is to argue that the only true way to grasp the ultimate reality, and thus resolve this problem is through a “direct awareness of Reality,” unencumbered by intellectual interference (Laudau 20). This aspect will be discussed at length in the Arguments from Religious Experience section. The lack of intense debate on the problem of evil maybe because the problem was not formulated at the time, or that Muslim thinkers were preoccupied by other issues. In modern times, the 20th century Islamic philosopher Muhammad Iqbal does attempt to address this problem. He suggests that Goodness would not be possible without the resistance of evil. The evil in the world is meant to be overcome. Whoever asks why must there be evil when God can remove it is missing the point. Iqbal insists that without evil there could be no moral or spiritual development. He sites a simile used by Kant in which he refers to birds who resent the resistance of air, yet it is the very air that allows them to fly high, they would be unable to do so in a vacuum. Likewise, a certain amount of evil is necessary for the inner growth of humans, so that they may be able to overcome it. (Sharif 1628) As the Quran states, “And for trial will We test you with evil and with Good (21:35). Iqbal could here be subject to criticism, since he has ignored the victims of evil. What about those people who suffered so the rest of mankind could build itself? Iqbal’s answer here would be consistent with his philosophy of self. Like Nietzche, Iqbal believed that ultimately the self, the individual is the only thing of utmost importance. That is we have no concrete knowledge of the external world and factors therein. What we can be sure of is only ourselves, hence, we must view happenings to beings other than ourselves only in the capacity in which they help to build ourselves. The fact that the suffering of an innocent victim serves to bolster our personality is sufficient. The independent suffering of the external individual cannot be verified. Nietzche has criticized Christian theology for placing mankind in a state of guilt for the original sin, Iqbal had pointed out that this concept of original sin is absent in Islam, and that the Quran encouraged a positive self image of the self or man. Many modern Christian theologians also adopt this view. ARGUMENTS FROM RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE There have been arguments presented for the existence of God which are non-analytical, and do not rely an purely logical or empirical premises. There is a strong strand within classical Islamic philosophy, beginning with Al-Ghazzali, to strongly put forth this view, and at the same time deny the legitimacy of the purely theoretical arguments for God’s existence. Muhammad Iqbal will also defend this view, however, he attempts to provide reconciliatory possibilities of reason with religious experience in concert with his organic world-view. The principles for an Islamic epistemology are laid out in the Quran as it defines three avenues for knowledge (Wan Daud 65). These are namely, 1. Certainty by Sense-Perception (ain al-yaqin) or empirically derived knowledge 2. Cognitive Certainty (ilm al-yaqin) or knowledge by pure reason 3. Absolute Experienced Certainty (haqq al-yaqin) or knowledge by intuition. These are sometimes called modes of knowledge. A Muslim Sufi (mystic) philosopher explains, “The sensory mode is experienced through we eat and smell, the cognitive is through knowledge, whether self-evident or acquired, while the intuitive is similarly divided: It can either be self-evident or acquired. However, he who has access to intuitive, which is to say divine knowledge, knows instinctively what other must acquire through the exercise of their cognitive faculties.” (Awliya 160-161) It is this last form of knowledge, the intuitive, that the arguments from religious experience aim at. There is some disagreement on the significance of intuitive knowledge and even if it is necessary, is it sufficient for an Islamic epistemology of metaphysics? Ghazzali argues in the affirmative, however modern philosophers Iqbal and Al-Attas assert that intuitive knowledge must work in concert with other ‘modes’ of knowledge as well. AL-GHAZZALI The first major critic of philosophy in the Islamic tradition was Abu Hamid ibn Muhammad al-Ghazzali (1058-1111 CE). Ghazzali felt that no formulation of an epistemology based on human reason could possibly account reasonably for the metaphysical existence of God. He was an influential Islamic scholar and became interested in philosophy after studying various quarreling Muslim intellectual movements. He then decided to embark on a project to determine, what is certain knowledge? And is it possible by humans? (Fakhry 218, Sheikh 85, Sharif 583) To accomplish his goal Ghazzali, much like Descartes, engages in a methodological doubt. Unlike Descartes, however, Ghazzali reaches a much more radical conclusion about our ability to have “certain knowledge.” He begins by defining what he means by “certain knowledge,” He writes: “The search after truth being the aim which I propose to myself, I ought in the first place to ascertain what are the bases of certitude. In the second place I ought to recognize that certitude is the clear and complete knowledge of things, such knowledge as leave no room for doubt, nor any possibility of error.” (Sharif 588) Thus, the kind of knowledge Ghazzali is seeking is such that the object of knowledge is known in a manner which precludes all possibilities of doubt. (Fakhry 218) There are only two sources of knowledge that are available to us, and those according to Ghazzali are: sense-perception, and pure reason. He writes: We cannot hope to find truth except in matters which carry their evidence in themselves, i.e. in sense-perception and necessary principles of thought; we must, therefore first of all establish these two on a firm basis.” (Sharif 589) As a first step he concludes that the only knowledge that could qualify as “certain” would be of the kind that would fit the above description, i.e. knowledge of sense-perception or self-evident or necessary truths. (Freedom and Fulfillment-Ghazzali) Next Ghazzali examines the extent of knowledge allowed via these avenues. He quickly realizes that sense-perception cannot be a source of certain knowledge since it is often not trustworthy. For example, he observes shadows appear to be stationary, whereas they move, and planets appear to be coin-sized whereas astronomical evidence points to the contrary. Having discarded knowledge of the senses, Ghazzali now moves towards knowledge of necessary truths. He thinks that this is not a credible source of knowledge either. If he could not trust one kind of knowledge, why should he trust the other? He thought he had no reason to prefer one over the other. (Fakhry 219). One of the issues that made him doubt the utility of necessary principles were questions such as, is 10 more than 3? Can something be and not be at the same time? Can something be both necessary and impossible? He thought reason alone, could not provide a satisfactory answer to these questions. (Sharif 589) Hence, making an analogy between the two, Ghazzali denies knowledge of necessary proposition as well. (Fakhry 219). His argument here is quite controversial, and Iqbal strongly criticizes Ghazzali on this count. Ghazzali is now in a position where he has convinced himself, that the only two avenues of knowledge open to him are not reliable. He is confused and considers the possibility that life could be a dream. He was in a state of continuos doubt and unable to ground anything in truth and existence, he suffered from this like a real sickness. Until he realized a, “light which God infused into his heart, which is the key to most species of knowledge.” (Fakhry 219) This he considers similar to how the Prophet Muhammad (saw) describes it, “the dilation of the heart, whereby it becomes prone to the reception of Islam.” He, therefore was able to transcend everyday experience and realize the ultimate reality via a spiritual experience. What Ghazzali is suggesting is a, “possibility of a form of apprehension higher than rational apprehension, that is, apprehension as the mystic’s inspiration or the prophet’s revelation.” (Sharif 590) This new form of knowledge is what he calls intuition. It is distinct from knowledge by the senses or the intellect, in that in intuitive knowledge is only possible via divine facilitation. Ghazzali and Descartes both agree that knowledge by sense-perception is unreliable, but Ghazzali makes the further claim that knowledge by pure theoretical reason alone is also unreliable. Descartes, on the other hand, had built his entire epistemology on the basis of the viability of knowledge by pure reason. IQBAL’S CRITIQUE OF GHAZZALI Muhammad Iqbal is also critical of Ghazzali’s characterization of knowledge. He thought that Ghazzali was mistaken in giving up reason and thought and embracing mystic experience as the only exclusive way the totally infinite could be revealed to an individual. Iqbal writes: “He failed to see that thought and intuition are organically related and that thought must necessarily simulate finitude and inconclusiveness because of its alliance with serial time. The idea that thought is essentially finite, and for
  4. Dear Safaa: My main point of the article was explaining the religious differences before the Figh schoolas even started. As you know Quranic jurisprudence relies on sources of sharia: Quran and Sunnah Grammar of jurisprudence On the Quranic level: Political alteration of history has caused confusion about biographies There are significant differences in the biographies of men around the prophet These biographies soemtimes alter ther reason of revelation a main instrumetn of QUranic interpretation Rulers seeking to change the fundamentals of Islam alter the the prism through which the text is scene by the Sunni interpreter to make a more docile population On the Hadith and sunnah level: THe biographical problem extends to include Hadith sources. Unlike the agrrement on the text of the Quran the Hadith text is under frequent dispute. The Sunnah as I explained in my article, may be disputed because the Sunnis over ride the prophet's Sunnah by that of his sucessors On the Usool alfigh or grammar of jurisprudence: The jafari school does not use the analogy principle because it is not always applicable. (weak analogy is a known falacy of weak induction known amongst lgocians since the time of the greeks) For more about the wonders of Qias see usool alfigh for mohamad alsadir (the grand father not this young one) The sunni school does not believe in what is called the logical imperative. Example of a syllogism is this preyer is a duty and preyer can not be performed without purification(wudhu or taymum) then purification is also a duty. (This is the power of deductive reasoning imagine that) Well as I understand it this is not acceptable to the sunni usool alfigh. Ijtihad is closed and so even if it is acceptable there is no point because there is no juriprudence to apply ijtihad to. Everything else is analogy
  5. Dear Safaa: there is a difference between sucessroship and vicegerency. The Shia stance is that the blood line of Ali continas philospher kings(plato style) Vucegernets who will serve both as a religious leader and as a political leader. In the absence of them there are two positions that are vacant. Even khomaini was not the president of Iran, but almuadib or almurshid. Because the poeple were so religiously polarized, he became the effective leader. However, according to speech by Imam Ali, these are two positions and they are not necessarily the smae perosn. See nahj alabalagha. (Sorry I am ususaly more though thatn that but I do not have the book here and this does not have arabic) Wilayat alfagih is a doctornie believed by every shi'i. No jurist can deny it. It goes as follows: Allah is ruler of men. The prophet is his vicegerent. The Imams are the prophets vicegerents. The clergy are the Imam's vicegerents. It is easy and it is in the QUran. Now notice that wilaya could be political leadership or religious leadership. The same old debate. The marjya in Najaf has always maintained what can be seen as seperation of church and state. That is, the marjya has only religious authority over men. Their effect over politics should only be thorugh advising their followers on moral issues and from a islamic jurisitc point. That is to say your rabii can tell you what is kosher and it is up to you from then on. Khomaini's disseratation(bahth alkharij) was about the generatlity of the vicgerency of the clergy. he claimed that there are no limits on the authority of the clergy. This is ocourse opposite to a wide held shii tradition and belief. As acadmics, the men in Hawza or shia seminary can not refuse it. So he graduated and went on to apply it in Iran. It is much easier to do it there because people can't read arabic and anyone with a black truban can be heard. The Wali originaly ofcourse was chosen by the people popularly when people chose Ayatullah khomeani. Then ofcourse mixing politics and religion things got dicey. I am not sure now but I am wiling to bet that the faigh position is now chosen by voting peers. Eventualy it will become an appointment. Thank you safa for asking. It is a bit off topic what is more to the heart of my article is your last question.
  6. Dear Moron: I am glad you are reading my wirtings again and commenting. I would like to remind you that I am not in your head. I will only know wht you mean if you tell me. it is very clea that I am accusing the Umayads of altering religion for earthly gain. I am also not dismissing any expalanation of ehty the first sucessros of the prophet did what they did. However, i am expalining that even with best intetions assumed, the ramafication on the religious level and on the political level were signficant to create this massive rift in Islam even at that time. if this not clear I oppologise and I will read my article again to try to make it clearer. Thank you Slaim you hit the nail right ont he head. Yes Ashoora is a minfestation of the political component of the article and ofcourse Imam Hussiens tragedy was the ultimate stand against tyranny. I did not write on this subject because the story is well known and every shi'i has heard it from every angle. My contribution I was hoping is to show that the Shia sunni issue is not a mere political issue but a deep one. The clarification of this will be in my reply to Safaa. Thank you Slaim for pointing to this. I might add this to the article at some point.
  7. Salim I know this is not realted but please take time to read my new article. I have been a way for a while, but I remember we had some good conversations together. Please let me know what you think it is called man ailsunnah wam in alsheea
  8. Sunat Alshaikhain These article are a chapter in my upcoming book. Please do not distribute without quoting me. Aldoctor Abstract This historical analysis that shows why the Shia are called Shia and why the Sunnah are called Sunnah. Some have saying the Shia were not present at thetime of the prophet, or that they are a political movement, this maybe a dimension to their existence but I show a moment in history where the divergence between Sunnah and Shia became apparent. This is an analysis of one of the pivotal moments of Islamic History. Here we are at a session of 5 people to decide who the next caliph after Omar. It is quite an interesting set up. There is a vote and a tie breaker and correct me if I am wrong, the tie breaker is Abu Obeida Amer Ibn Aljarah. The story has it that Omar had devised this system to choose between two people Othman or Ali. When a tie was struck abu obeida chooses using the following question: “I will choose you if you abide by the kitab(Ordinance)of Allah and the Sunnah(precedence) of the prophet and Sunnah of Alshaikhain.(the precedence of the two sheiks, meaning abu bakr and Omar)” Ali lost the tie breaker because he said:” I will follow the kitab(Ordinance)of Allah and the Sunnah(precedence) of the prophet and I will do my best to give my opinion.” Here are some problems I have with this whole set up: There seems to be some precedence of Omar and Abu baker that has been recognized as a separate body of knowledge. It also is evident that it was a point of departure because it was upon it that the caliph was chosen. In this article I would like to discuss some aspects that have unsettled me about this juncture of Islamic History. Before I start I would like to clarify that: I DO NOT CARE WHO RULES THE MOSLEM IMPIRE I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN IS. Proposition 1: The precedence of the sheiks is common law that is consistent with the Quran and prophet’s precedent and only expands on it. Under proposition one, there is no problem. If one can not find a counter example to this then SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN would be simply consisitent with the following Hadith: “upon you my sunnah and the Sunnah of the caliphs the knowing , the guided ones after me.” Certainly it follows that the ruling of the Quran and prophet himself can not be cancelled this is also by Quranic ordinance :”He does not speak out of the air, it is inspired to him.” Then, we are prepared to accept SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN under two conditions: • They are the guided caliphs the Hadith mentions.(The shia dispute this) • Their Sunnah does not defy the Quran or the prophet’s Sunnah Let us assume for a moment that the hadith meant Abu Bakr and Omar are the caliphs mentioned two questions come to mind: • Is their Sunnah binding religiously or is it simply legal precedence for running the empire. In other words, is this their precedent as heads of state or is it their Sunnah as spiritual leaders? • If it is only their precedent as heads of state, would it still be binding till today? Let us ignore these Questions and try to give examples of this body of rulings given by Abubakir and Omar or Alahikhain: In a lecture by Shiakh Ahmad Yamani, he sites 12 instances where Omar clearly gives a different ruling than that of the Quran and the prophets Sunnah. He claims that these are the basis of a school of thought known as the intentions of the sharia wherein the legistlature attempts to identify the intention of Allah’s ruling and is then able to alter the ruling if the new law achieves the same goal. He claims that this is the basis of Alamaliki school of thought. So a man claims to know divine intention and alters Allah’s ordinance. This blank check is absurd and allows one to cancel the text under any pretence. While it might applicable to human law it is certainly inapplicable to divine ordinance. Because by definition, the divine is better able o legislate. Rosseau Says: ”the process of law making needs a party that understands the human condition yet unaffected by it.” Rosseau said this fully intending that there is no such party. Instead of identifying and uprooting the 12 instances where Caliph Omar has defied the Quran and Sunnah, it has been made as an excuse to establish a school of thought to do the same. While Caliph Omar may have acted as a head of state and not a religious authority, under which some of his actions may be sanctioned, a school of jurisprudence based on such aberrations may prove very dangerous. One of the founding fathers(I think Jefferson) said: We must not have all the freedoms to interpret the constitution as to render it blank. Remember that Abu baker became a caliph under the claim that the prophet never named a successor, yet Abu baker named Omar how said in his inaugural speech:”Oh yeah people I have been appointed upon you and I am not the best of you…” This of course means that even though Abu Bakr was voted in and the prophet never named a successor, Abu bakr did. Giving an example of SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN. Another example, is Omar’s complicated system which brought about this inquiry. If the prophet named no successor, an Abu Bakr did, then Omar defied both by appointing an electoral college with a tie breaker. This is then a departure from both the prophet’s precedence and Abu Bakr’s precedence. As I said before, these may not be counted as Proposition 2: SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN are a body of common law that may contain action of Omar and Abu Bakr as heads of state not as the guided caliph’s the prophet referred to in his above hadith. It seems though that there is a group of people who have taken the position that there is no difference between what the caliphs do as heads of state and what they as the prophet’s companion’s. Then SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN becomes a body of precedence that cancels either the prophet’s sunnah or the Quran. This frustration of those who opposed recognizing superseding authority to this new body of precedents that defy the Quran and the Sunnah is apparent in Ibn Abbas’s exclamation:” The sky is about to be torn and the earth shakes when I tell you said Allah and said the messenger and you reply to me said Abu Bakr and said Omar.” It is obvious that this was a point of disagreement between those who follow the SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN and those who support Ali’s rejection of canonizing it. The latter were called shia ali those who support Ali’s position. Those who support SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN , were called ahlu ilsunnah. What is the Sunnah of shiakahin, and who are those who supported Ali position of its rejection. An important point, I do not thin that the Abu Bakr and Omar meant to change their beloved religion. Abu bBakr and Omar would mean to defy the prophet’s rulings unless it was what they saw fit as heads of state. Similarly Ali would not have allowed them to change the religion or claim any religious authority. In a speech by Ali he says that both Abu Bakr and Omar did their best to do the best. So people should know that I am not attacking the two caliphs. So what are these departures I know a few but please let me know if you know of an exhaustive list: Abu Sufian comes to Omar and says give me the money of ilmulafatu Qulubhum. Omar says Allah has elevated Islam. Abu Sufyan says in the Quran this is written and Mohamad gave me it and Abu Bakr gave me it. Omar refused. The prophet refused to price things for them. People come to Omar to price goods for them he did. Omar said: Two the prophet allowed and I prevent: the muta’at alhaj and tawaf alnisaa. Omar prevented bin Thabit from reciting poetry in the prophet’s masjid. Bin Thabit says stay away from ya Omar I have recited here when there was someone better than you here(the prophet). Conclusion1: The Sunnah of Alshaikhain contains contradictory rulings to the of the prophet and the Quran. Conclusion2: The Sunnah of Alshaikhain may only be actions of head of state. If Abu bakr and Omar’s actions were preformed as heads of state then Sunnat alshiekhain is not religiously biding. They may serve as political examples but not religious edict. Then, who are the guided caliphs and what is their sunnah? The caliphate or vicegerency of the prophet may not be refereeing to the political one as heads of state like abu Nakr and Omar but as the spiritual one. The shia’s position is that it rests with Ali and a blood line from him. While there are many hadiths that speak of Ali and of course the Quranic verses speaking of Ali’s role, I am unaware of the proof of the authority of the 12 imam’s after Ali. The interpretation of this Hadith is difficult and so is the rift between Islamic sects. I am not claming that I am aware of all the complications that caused the separation of the two sects but I offer glimpses in history to show the causes and dimensions of the difference. An important period of history is the of the Umayads. The Second clan in the tribe of Quraish who were in constant competition with the Hashimites. Abu Sufyan, the prince of makah before Islam, had a son called moawaya who disputed the caliphate of Ali. Naturaly, there were people who supported ali and they are the same one’s that supported his position before. Following the assassination of Ali. The Umayads were the first to hijack Islam as a relgion for their potilical gain. Their commitment to defeat their cousin’s the Hasmite drove them to commit atrocities against them. The secularism of Umayads especially by the time of Yazid is hidden from most Moslems. After all Yazid says:”played hashem with idiots for, no revelation was sent from heaven.” The Umayads aside from Umar bin abdulaziz persecuted the son’s of Ali and ordered that Ali is slandered in Jumah prayer. This is of course the beginning of fusing the religious institution for political gain. This alliance between the religious leadership and royal state is the model that still rules the Arab world today. The clergy being government employees have no incentive to defy the government. In fact hey have every incentive to use their authority to support the movement and justify their actions. This leads many Moslems today to lose faith in religious leadership because the mosque becomes this place where the politics of government is justified, spirituality is neglected, and only the minutia of religious ritual is discussed. Outside of this unholy alliance between he monarch and the religious institution, remains the same people who have opposed it from the beginning, the Shia. Unlike their Sunni brothers who have been lead to believe the “obedience of any ruler is a religious edict” they are still free to oppose unjust authority. Notice that most Moslems think that the pillars of Islam are: 1. fasting 2. prayer 3. hajj 4. alms 5. the word of Shahada notice that the pillars of Islam are rituals. They are signs of obedience except the word of shahada. Ofcourse notice the testifying that allah exists is a given. If one prayed and performed Hajj, the shahadah is an integral part of these pillars. The tampering by the professional clergy becomes apparent when one looks at the shia version which replaces the word of shahadah, which is a given to any Moslem, with the struggle in the cause of Allah. This pillar was replaced because it is much easier for government to deal with this docile Moslem the one developed to obey unconditional obey authority and perform his 4 rituals. From this point on, the sectoral dynamics in the religion are ruled not by religious teachings or logic, but by money and power. Once religion and politics interact, neither remains holy. Later in history, Abu Hamid Alghazali froze Islamic Jurisprudence. He declared that the four schools of Islamic thought are sufficient and that no further research in the jurisprudence is necessary. The fifth school of Jurisprudence was the Jaffar Aslsadiq did not follow this decree. This is because it was outside of religious establishment and thus able to follow a different path. Usool alfiqh in the Jaffari School benefited from 600 more years of study than the other schools and this remains the case. This is an accidental development which carried the difference between the Shia and the Sunnah from the realm of sources of Islamic legislation and Sunnah to differences in the Grammar of jurisprudence. Today, the differences between the Shia and the Sunnah can be reconciled, but the same alliance between the clergy and the ruler prevents such union. Much of the literature that incites against he shia comes form a country that was established using religion for political purposes until the establishment lost control of the fanatics it bread.
  9. Dear All: My inerest in religion has lead to find things that are very interesting. I would like to tell you that my discussion are for the sake of the ruth they are not propaganda of any sort. If you can prove me wrong you are more than wlecome to do so and i will change my article. IF you hcan add to my list or take a bullet point I have nto compelted please let me know. Sunat Alshaikhain Abstract This historical analysis that shows why the Shia are called Shia and why the Sunnah are called Sunnah. Some have saying the Shia were not present at thetime of the prophet, or that they are a political movement, this maybe a dimension to their existence but I show a moment in history where the divergence between Sunnah and Shia became apparent. This is an analysis of one of the pivotal moments of Islamic History. Here we are at a session of 5 people to decide who the next caliph after Omar. It is quite an interesting set up. There is a vote and a tie breaker and correct me if I am wrong, the tie breaker is Abu Obeida Amer Ibn Aljarah. The story has it that Omar had devised this system to choose between two people Othman or Ali. When a tie was struck abu obeida chooses using the following question: “I will choose you if you abide by the kitab(Ordinance)of Allah and the Sunnah(precedence) of the prophet and Sunnah of Alshaikhain.(the precedence of the two sheiks, meaning abu bakr and Omar)” Ali lost the tie breaker because he said:” I will follow the kitab(Ordinance)of Allah and the Sunnah(precedence) of the prophet and I will do my best to give my opinion.” Here are some problems I have with this whole set up: There seems to be some precedence of Omar and Abu baker that has been recognized as a separate body of knowledge. It also is evident that it was a point of departure because it was upon it that the caliph was chosen. In this article I would like to discuss some aspects that have unsettled me about this juncture of Islamic History. Before I start I would like to clarify that: I DO NOT CARE WHO RULES THE MOSLEM IMPIRE I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN IS. Proposition 1: The precedence of the sheiks is common law that is consistent with the Quran and prophet’s precedent and only expands on it. Under proposition one, there is no problem. If one can not find a counter example to this then SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN would be simply consisitent with the follwing Hadith: “upon you my sunnah and the Sunnah of the caliphs the knowing , the guided ones after me.” Certainly it follows that the ruling of the Quran and prophet himself can not be cancelled this is also by Quranic ordinance :”He does not speak out of the air, it is inspired to him.” Then, we are prepared to accept SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN under two conditions: • They are the guided caliphs the Hadith mentions.(The shia dispute this) • Their Sunnah does not defy the Quran or the prophet’s Sunnah • Let us assume for a moment that the hadith meant Abu Bakr and Omar are the caliphs mentioned two questions come to mind: • Is their Sunnah binding religiously or is it simply legal precedence for running the empire. In other words, is this their precedent as heads of state or is it their Sunnah as spiritual leaders? • If it is only their precedent as heads of state, would it still be binding till today? Let us ignore these Questions and try to give examples of this body of rulings given by Abubakir and Omar or Alahikhain: In a lecture by Shiakh Ahmad Yamani, he sites 12 instances where Omar clearly gives a different ruling than that of the Quran and the prophets Sunnah. He claims that these are the basis of a school of thought known as the intentions of the sharia wherein the legistlature attempts to identify the intention of Allah’s ruling and is then able to alter the ruling if the new law achieves the same goal. He claims that this is the basis of Alamaliki school of thought. So a man claims to know divine intention and alters Allah’s ordinance. This blank check is absurd and allows one to cancel the text under any pretence. While it might applicable to human law it is certainly inapplicable to divine ordinance. Because by definition, the divine is better able o legislate. Rosseau Says: ”the process of law making needs a party that understands the human condition yet unaffected by it.” Rosseau said this fully intending that there is no such party. Instead of identifying and uprooting the 12 instances where Caliph Omar has defied the Quran and Sunnah, it has been made as an excuse to establish a school of thought to do the same. While Caliph Omar may have acted as a head of state and not a religious authority, under which some of his actions may be sanctioned, a school of jurisprudence based on such aberrations may prove very dangerous. One of the founding fathers(I think Jefferson) said: We must not have all the freedoms to interpret the constitution as to render it blank. Here is an example of Omar and Abu Bakir possibly acting as heads of state wherein they alter the prophet’s sunnah. Remember that Abu baker became a caliph under the claim that the prophet never named a successor, yet Abu baker named Omar how said in his inaugural speech:”Oh yeah people I have been appointed upon you and I am not the best of you…” This of course means that even though Abu Bakr was voted in and the prophet never named a successor, Abu bakr did. Giving an example of SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN. Another example, is Omar’s complicated system which brought about this inquiry. If the prophet named no successor, an Abu Bakr did, then Omar defied both by appointing an electoral college with a tie breaker. This is then a departure from both the prophet’s precedence and Abu Bakr’s precedence. As I said before, these may not be counted as SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN because they might be actions as heads of state not as the guided caliph’s the prophet referred to in his above hadith. It seems though that there is a group of people who have taken the position that there is no difference between what the caliphs do as heads of state and what they as the prophet’s companion’s. Then SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN becomes a body of precedence that cancels either the prophet’s sunnah or the Quran. This frustration of those who opposed recognizing superseding authority to this new body of precedents that defy the Quran and the Sunnah is apparent in Ibn Abbas’s exclamation:” The sky is about to be torn and the earth shakes when I tell you said Allah and said the messenger and you reply to me said Abu Bakr and said Omar.” It is obvious that this was a point of disagreement between those who follow the SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN and those who support Ali’s rejection of canonizing it. The latter were called shia ali those who support Ali’s position. Those who support SUNNAT ALSHAIKHAIN , were called ahlu ilsunnah. What is the Sunnah of shiakahin, and who are those who supported Ali position of its rejection. An important point, I do not thin that the Abu Bakr and Omar meant to change their beloved religion. Abu bBakr and Omar would mean to defy the prophet’s rulings unless it was what they saw fit as heads of state. Similarly Ali would not have allowed them to change the religion or claim any religious authority. In a speech by Ali he says that both Abu Bakr and Omar did their best to do the best. So people should know that I am not attacking the two caliphs. So what are these departures I know a few but please let me know if you know of an exhaustive list: Abu Sufian comes to Omar and says give me the money of ilmulafatu Qulubhum. Omar says Allah has elevated Islam. Abu Sufyan says in the Quran this is written and Mohamad gave me it and Abu Bakr gave me it. Omar refused. The prophet refused to price things for them. People come to Omar to price goods for them he did. Omar said: Two the prophet allowed and I prevent: the muta’at alhaj and tawaf alnisaa. Omar prevented bin Thabit from reciting poetry in the prophet’s masjid. Bin Thabit says stay away from ya Omar I have recited here when there was someone better than you here(the prophet). Aldoctor
  10. interpretation is the process of backing out the intended meaning from text. Interpretation then shoudl be a system of consistent rules that aid the process of understanding. If one says free to itnerpret meaning have a free hand to see the text in any light, then they are outside the bounds of textual anlysis or Jurisprudence. The two branches of study deidcated to understanding text. The interpretation of any text in the absence of its author needs such rules. These rules prevent the prism through which we see the world from baising our interpretation of the text to the point where the text is completely wiped out and a complete reassignment of meamning to words follow from what might be described as "free to interpret"approach. Incidentaly I wrote a book on Quranic interpretation. It should be coming out soon. It is called the key.
  11. I apologise for misreading your comment the sentence was a bit abusively formed. Sorry
  12. Dear JHC guy: Well saying that christianity has been under control betrays your vast knwoledge of chritian history. LIke I said there are aprosimately 1.5 Billion muslims and a few thusand ones that are nuts. It took 180 years of indoctrination to craete thsi violent minority. Islam has a unified theology. HOwever, the salafis are a coult. A rather large one now. There are many reasons for that. Muslims today are weary of any council because these theolgoians are also goveernment emplyees so they have as much ctredability as their governments. enough said
  13. Dear Moron: Unlike Engineering, there is no clear cut answer and a rule of thumb that works. ISlam is based on the struggle of man to fulfill his promise to follow divine guidance. The coucil of fifty you are porposing can not aggree. As I tried to explain to you in the democracy section, given enough number of issues and enough number of voters, there is no way aggregate choice known to us that does nto create random choice. This is a recurring theme. There are however, principles that Shia agree on, the are called the metholodgy of itnerpretation. These after hundereds of years of revisision and debate which continues today, are applied in a dynamic way to interpret Islam. It is a very comlicated matter I refer you to my answer to JHC guy. Also Islam is two parts: Law and Faith. remember what jesus said on the mound: love the lord they god with all they heart and obey the commanments. Well lovign god is believeing and obeying his Law(commanments) Law in its process of legistlation only differs by its source. Whether its the US constitution or the Quran, it is a non issue in priincple. However, one can not just gather 50 people and let them decide, they will not agree. Besides, if that was feasible why not gather the 15000 sects of christianty and let them agree. I am not sure what made you say this. I am sure it was somehting I said. please let me know.
  14. Dear JHC GUY: "Another problem is that we are supposed to employ the Holy Spirit to give us understanding of the Word (John 16:13, 1 Cor 2:11-12)" This is from the thing you posted. I think that highlights the fact that fundamentlay in ISLAM we are called upon to employ logicreason and evidence in interpreting the Quran, the contrast is bvious, but I think this is why this column is needed. Notice that I feel that most text is unapproachable by the masses. This is not just my feeling. If you look at the publishing industry, there are multiple level of newspapers that market to multiple levels of readers. They vary their method of delivery by vocabulary, content and acomplextiy of arguments all the way to just a picture and a line underneath. This is not a concindence peopkle in the business know that the population contins many forms of disability. Being educated certainly does not qualify one to read and interpret text. That is you may hagve your own personal interpretation. But, you what degree of confidence do you have that what you understodd is what was intended. Again the Bible is with all repsepct a nightmare version of this. Because of all it has suffered throught the ages. Here is a breif synopsis that I am sure you can add to : So there is this text that came down in Hebrew to people who's natie tongue was egyptian. The text was lost and was rewritten from memory after the destruction of the second temple by Ezra. Then this text was adopted by someone of a fundamentaly different religion and translated in this new light into a a variety of different lanugages. So to escape all the porblems the old testament had to go thorugh in the porcess of textual interpretation which in of itself is a hairy problem, is difficult. You seem like a guy who likes to read and find out things for himself, there is a brnes a nobels book called discourse analysis. It is good as an intro to the issues involved. Other wise you can hold until I write my textual analysis chapter due soon. For Americans, my favorite is the interpretation of the US consitution the laws and philosophies of jurisprudence are very smiliar to a very good but not very accessable book by Muhamad baqir alsadr a genius in jurisprudence and he wrote a three volume book on the matter. It is very tought I had to read the first volume 3 times to understand it. To those of you who od not know, this crazy little sadr is the grandson of the scholar I mentioned. According to my information he is the balcksheep uneducated part of the family. Hs is the only one left alive by allt he madness and he is capitalizing on his granpas name. Now the new testament is my favorite example: Here is a class that happened 2000 years ago. The teacher lectured on a ifne point of Hebrew books to native speakers of Armiac. There were no lecture notes taken. The biography of the teacher was written hundred of years later in greek. (mathew and mark are almost identical, leading experts say there was some verbatim copying involved.)21/ 27 books of the new testament don't have a word that the TEACHER said. There was some haevy editing by the students, the biographers, kings, scribes, passers by. The biography with appended letters of the the assistant lead(Paul) are now 'translated' and read in English. Most unterested folk can't read. those who can average a total of 3000 words vocab. Those with larger vocab, are rarely trained in textual anlysis or jurisprudence. These are the obstacles I found that are specific to the new testament. It realy left me with only what Jesus said, and interstingly enough it was sufficient. My commentray on the sayings of Jesus will follow at a later date. He is really a lantern for the lost. Notice that the lost is the last word of the 1st chapter of the Quran.
  15. Dear Salim: Thank you for your interest. Unlike the democracy forum, where I feel I have contirbuted all I can contirbute. especialy with the article I posted seconds ago. In this domain it seems there is more I can contribute. Thank you for asking me to reconsider.
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