Reading History as A Struggle of Tawheed vs Shirk or The Oppressor vs The Oppressed

Malick Elias

For Muslim students to acquire a holistic understanding of the life of Muhammad (pbuh) and a worldview of Monotheism, a brief study of the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Persia, Rome and Byzantine is important. Why? Simply because the Holy Quran and the Hadith traditions repeatedly refer to these places and even though we are now further removed from those histories, knowledge of them can enhance our understanding of the past and the present events.

Furthermore, there is a much broader aim here for Muslim scholarship to pursue beyond the mere stirring of their students’ imaginations; and it is that they rise to the challenge of sketching a historical and archeological discourse for that time in history when humanity could have been described as sharing an unified experience before God or that which is known in use today as ‘Tawheed’ and when did their breaking apart took place and thus began the period of division or ‘Shirk’.

The following pages, is a brief journey through the rise and fall of some key civilizations of the ancient world, residues which heralded the advent of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and have shaped the identities of today.

My historiography begins in Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, (Northwest Syria, Western Iran and Southern Turkey,) at around 3500 BC. Mesopotamia has been referred to as the starting point of the first recognizable civilization, with Egypt following at about a slightly later date about 3100 BC.  Other great civilizations of antiquity to have appeared in the region at later dates were the Minoan civilization in Crete, about 2000 BC, and a little slightly earlier about 2500 BC in India. The Middle East was arguably among the first regions to emerge from the glacial period thus making it an almost natural venue for the discovery and practice of the art of cultivation. (Amir Taheri, The Cauldron, 1988)

There is a tendency to debate whether Egypt or Mesopotamia was the first cradle of civilization. That is a question, among many, which I will leave for the occupational historian to resolve.  However here are some details to help you form an opinion. One, what is certain is that the Nile as well as the Tigris provided for the first communities a cool climate and an abundance of fertile oases for city-states to develop. Two, I am beginning from 3500BC and this is not the start of human civilization, but it is a figure based upon artifacts retrieved from excavations. Three, there are chronologists who allocate the lands of Kush, modern day Sudan and Ethiopia to be the forerunners of civilization, beginning around 6280BC. (A.J.Rogers, 1982)  Your task would be to go as far back as you can and establish what is true and false on the subject to form your own opinion. Avoid making judgments, however, upon personalities but seek to qualify your views on the basis of research.

So the first City-states to evolve were in Sumer in lower Mesopotamia, which reached its apex around 3,500 BC. The Sumerians a non-Semitic people, not related to the Aryans, had conquered the Iranian Plateau some five centuries earlier. Historians because of debate surrounding the origins of the Sumerians, they have not agreed upon a unified point of view. Were they the earliest inhabitants of the area or were they foreign tribes (from Madyan) that migrated to lower Mesopotamia? One may never know. What is definite however is that they were responsible for many artistic, scientific and technological achievements of the era.

In literature, Sumerian wedge-shaped (cuneiform) writing was done on clay tablets. These tablets show some 2,000 pictographic signs. They were also known to have written poetry. One of their earliest preserved literary documents is Pepi’s Papyrus, “Instructions to a Son”.  It might have been somewhere after the conquest of Egypt by the Hyksos, “Shepherd kings” 2,200 BC, that the script changes from Sumerian style (horizontal, left to right) to Semitic style (vertical, right to left).

In science and technology, the Sumerians as well as the Egyptians are recorded to have acquired the technology of smelting gold, silver, copper and iron alloys. The use of the Potter’s wheel was common, and the manufacture of painted pottery was in daily use. Agricultural tools and supplies for the growing of wheat and others types of food was normal to their daily lives. (Bernard Grun, The Timetables of History, First Touchstone edition 1982)  In the achievements of Sumer, Taheri (1988) noted that man first discovered that trade could be more profitable than marauding raids on one’s neighbors. However, this civilization appears to have been polytheists and remain predominantly so throughout the ages of prophecy. If one were to read chronologists writing from the perspective of the Western secularist tradition, mention have been repeatedly made of the impact of Mesopotamian mythology upon the ‘Abrahamic faiths.’ For instance, they cite that the story of ‘The Great Flood Myth’ found in early Sumerian texts (Gilgamesh) around the Third dynasty of Ur (2010-2000BC) as having been incorporated into Biblical and thence Qur’anic stories of Prophet Noah and the floods.  What they fail to mention is the possibility of the supposed myth being true, being passed into Sumer literature through actual historical occurrence. The Holy Quran, indicates the stubbornness of the people occupying that region at the time:

And We certainly sent Noah to his people, and he remained among them a thousand years minus fifty years, and the flood seized them while they were wrongdoers.” (C:29, V:14)

For believers, those myths are but legends that withstood the test of time. Abraham of Ur Kasdim or Chaldees, Babylonia, emerges around the time of 1800 BC and from Quranic reports he received little on no official support for Monotheism unlike his counterparts in Egypt at later dates in history, as in the case of Akhenaten (Amunhotep IV, 1352-1338 BC).  If the dates of Prophet Yūsuf ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Isāq ibn Ibrāhīm are correct (1610 BC – 1500 BC) then it is possible that Akhenaten could have heard about the historical figure of Yusuf and romanticised an earlier period in Egyptian history when justice, peace and harmony prevailed in the kingdom (monotheistic practices). We know from the history of Akhenaten’s rule that many resented his rule and his attempts to sideline the priesthood in favour for a monotheistic God. The problem was that those dire conditions which two or three centuries earlier brought a non-Egyptian to the prestigious courts of the King, did not exist and so his experiment with Monotheism was short lived. Furthermore, Akhenaten’s brand of Monotheism was not the same as that which the Quran attributed to the Prophets and Messengers of the past, and so it is true to say that he evolved alongside it an anthropomorphic flavour in the Sun (Aten) as an emanation of the divine to appease the masses.
Continue reading Reading History as A Struggle of Tawheed vs Shirk or The Oppressor vs The Oppressed

The validity of ‘Ta’weel’ as an approach towards Intellectual Synthesis in Islamic Thought

Malick Elias

The following excerpts were and taken from an inspiring book written by Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali (1917-1996) entitled: ‘The secret behind the Underdevelopment of Arabs and Muslims’, published by Darul-Qalam, date unknown. There are further details of his life which can be found on It was copied from pages 48 to 54.

I chose these excerpts because among the many reasons for the underdevelopment of the Arabs and Islam identified in the book, what has been mentioned in these passages reflected my thoughts on the issue of ‘Ta’weel’ or the use of interpretation based solely upon analytical and dialectical approaches I have employed in many of the articles I have written so far.

The passages I have chosen from the Sheikh’s book, has gone beyond what the title sought to establish and the rules on referencing. It depicts many of the challenges and attacks he faced from the Salafiyah movement in Algeria and Egypt towards his line of Islamic thought and jurisprudence. What interested me the most were his thoughts on ‘Ta’weel’ or ‘Hermeneutics’ in Islam and I have highlighted those below in bold. It states:

“The Muttakallimoon (Theologians) past and present had to employ a measure of interpretation to some of the sentences of the book Quran – and well as the Prophet’s traditions – in conciliation between them and in line with the rules of reason on the whole to establish the perfection of God (blessed be his name), or to remove claims not worthy of His name! (For instance) Allah states: “He is with you wherever you may be and God sees whatever you do.” Quran Commentators interpreted ‘God’s company’ in this verse to mean: He is with us in His knowledge and hearing and eyesight and ability, wisdom and mercy .. etc., but not the company of Self or Being. (Thus, if we were to understand) God’s company in the context of physicality this would imply an anthropomorphism of His divine being and this is null and void … In light of this, they have also interpreted the saying the Almighty: “We have created man, and We know what توسوس (hidden thoughts) he holds in himself and we are closer to him than his jugular vein.” and His saying too: “Without if it reaches the throat and you then see and we are closer to you, but you do not see.” the Commentators say (this means): ‘Our angels are closer to you ملائكتنا …’ Hence, If the Ashiarites deserve blame for this, because they interpret these verses in order to remove misconceptions about God Almighty then we also to blame because everyone has ceded to the validity of this interpretation!! Does this mean that by accepting this point of view we are Ash’arites? The truth of the matter is that we are with the earliest Muslims on this position and the Messenger of God himself…”

من الصفحات  : ٤٨-٥٤

العلم المغشوش يهز الأمة ويخدم الاستعمار الصحوة الإسلامية المعاصرة مهددة من أعداء كثيرين٬ والغريب أن أخطر خصومها نوع من الفكر الديني يلبس ثوب السلفية٬ وهو أبعد الناس عن السلف إنها اذعاء السلفية وليست السلفية الصحيحة!! إن حب السلف دين وكرههم نفاق٬ إنهم دعائم حضارتنا٬ ومعالم رسالتنا٬ من أجل ذلك يجب أن نحسن التأسي بهم٬ وأن ندفع عنهم كل ما يؤذي سمعتهم. كنت يوما أتحدث فى موضوع غير ذى بال٬ وفي المجلس رجل موصوف بالسلفية٬ وجرت على لساني كلمة موهمة لم أقصد إلى شيء بها! وتلفت فإذا الرجل يحسب فى نفسه مسار فكري٬ ويقدر أني سأتورط في كذا وكذا٬ وكشر عن أنيابه واستعد للفتك!! غير أن الحديث انعرج إلى ناحية أخرى٬ وشعرت بأن الرجل آسف لأ نى أفلمت منه. قلت له: فلان! قال: ما تريد؟ قلت: رأيتك متحفزا للنزال٬ ثم كفى االله المؤمنين القتال…. قال: نعم٬ حسبتك ستقول ما لا أوافق عليه… قلت: إنكم تتربصون بالخطأ٬ لتاكلوا صاحبه٬ فإذا فاتكم شعرتم بالحزن٬ ليست هذه يا صاحبى خلائق المؤمنين! إنكم تجمعون جملة من صفات العناد والتحدى والحقد وتلمس العيب للبرآء٬ وهذا كله مرفوض فى ديننا.. قال: نحن ندافع عن السنن ونحارب المحدثات والناس تأبى إلا الابتداع. وما يرموننا به باطل… قلت: ليت الأمر يكون كذلك٬ إنكم تهاجمون المذاهب الفقهية٬ وتخدشون أقدار الأئمة٬ وتتركون انقسامات عميقة بين الناس باسم السلفية٬ والعلم الصحيح لا يأخذ هذا المنهج.. قال: نحن نرفض التقليد المذهبي٬ ونعلم الناس الأخذ المباشر من الكتاب والسنة أتأبى أنت ذلك؟

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قلت: لا يأبى مسلم الارتباط بكتاب ربه وسنة نبيه٬ وتصوركم أن الفقه المذهبى يستقى من نبع آخر غير الكتاب والسنة غير صحيح.. ومن الممكن للعلماء الراسخين أن يناقشوا بعض القضايا٬ ويتعرفوا ما جاء فيها من آثار٬ ويستنبطوا ما يطمئنون إليه من أحكام٬ وذلك كله فى إطار من الإخاء والحب وإيثار الحق على الخلق.. والفقهاء الأربعة الكبار٬ نماذج رفيعة لاحترام الكتاب والسنة٬ ولا يلام مسلم تبع واحدا منهم٬ كما لا تلامون أنتم فى اتباع الشوكانى أو الألبانى أو الصنعانى… إلخ. قال: ذاك ما نقول! قلت له: لا٬ إنكم ترون رأيكم- الذى تابعتم فيه أحد الناس- هو الحق وحده٬ ثم تشنون هجوما على من خالفه بوصفه خارجا على السنة !! كأن السنة وقف عليكم أنتم لا غير! أحب أن تعلموا أن الاجتهاد الفقهى خطؤه وصوابه مأجور٬ وأن الأمر لا يتحمل عداوة وفرقه! ولو سلمنا أن ما لديكم هو الصواب٬ فمخالفكم ما حرم ثواب االله! فلماذا تريدون إحراجه٬ وإخراجه من دائرة السلف٬ لتبقى حكرا عليكم؟ الرأي عندي أن المأساة “خلقية”٬ لا علمية٬ وأولى بكم أن تتواضعوا الله وتصلحوا نيتكم معه٬ وتتطامنوا لإخوانكم المؤمنين٬ وتحسنوا الظن بهم.. إذا اقتنعتم برأيي فمن حوا غيركم أن يقتنع بضده٬ ولا مكان لحرب٬ ولا ضرب٬ والخلاف الفقهى لا حرج منه٬ أما الإثم ففى التعصب المذهبى الضيق

والعالم الإسلامى رحب٬ والمذهب الذى يضيق به قطر يتسع له آخر٬ والذى ينبو عنه عصر تتسع له عصورأخرى.. إن زعيم السلفية الأسبق فى مصر الشيخ حامد الفقى حلف باالله أن أبا حنيفة كافر٬ ولا يزال رجال ممن سمعوا اليمين الفاجرة أحياء٬ وقد نددت أنا فى كتاب لى بمحاضرة ألقيت فى حى الزيتون بالقاهرة تحت عنوان `أبو حامد الغزالى الكافر ` والمكان الذى قيلت فيه هو مقر السلفية!! والطلبة السلفيون هنا- فى جامعة الأمير عبد القادر بالجزائر- يقولون عن مالك بن أنس: إنه يفضل عمل أهل المدينة على حديث رسول االله٬ قلت لهم: هذا كذب٬ إن مالكا! يرى عمل أهل .المدينة أدل على سنة رسول االله من حديث واحد قد يحفظ أو ينسى٬ قد يخطئ أو يصيب!

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هذا التفكير المريض المتحامل لا نتيجة له٬ إلا تمرق الأمة المثخنة بالجراح٬ والزعم بأنه سلفي لون من الدجل والجراءة… وقد لاحظت ثلاث ثمار مرة لهذا العلم المغشوش٬ الأولى أن بعض الطلاب الذين لا يحسنون إعراب جملة يقولون عن الأئمة المتبوعين: هم رجال ونحن رجال! قلت: إن الشعب الإنكليزى لا يتناول رئيسته `تاتشر` بهذا الأسلوب السمج! ليت شعري أين هذا السلوك من قول رسولنا صلى االله عليه وسلم ليس منا من لم يوقر كبيرنا وبرحم صغيرنا ويعرف لعالمنا حقه لما!! الثانية أن نفرا من العمال والفلاحين فرطوا فى أعمالهم الحرفية٬ أو الفنية٬ مكتفين فى إثبات تدينهم بثوب قصير٬ وروية مشوشة٬ وحمل عصا حينا٬ أو ارتداء عمامة ذات ذنب عندما تكون ` المشيخة ` قد ثبتت لصاحبها..! أما الملاحظة الثالثة٬ وخطرها شديد فإن عملاء روسيا وأمريكا أيقاظ فى محاربة الإسلام٬ مهرة فى إطفاء صحوته الجديدة! وهم يجتهدون فى إبراز الجماعات المتطرفة والتغاضى عن نشاطها لأنها وجه دميم للإسلام ودعاية حقيقية ضده٬ وهدم للوحدة٬ وتسجيل للفرقة! من أجل ذلك يحاربون الفكر المعتدل٬ أو الإسلام الصحيح٬ ويطاردون أتباعه على حين يترك هؤلاء الغلاة يثيرون الشبه٬ ويشعلون حروبا داخلية تقضى على الإسلام ومستقبله٬ وذاك سر انتشارهم فى آسيا وإفريقية! إنهم لو نجحوا- قضوا على الإسلام فى مهده بقصورهم العقلى٬ فليتركوا لتحقيق ذلك!! ونتجاوز حكاية فقه الفروع إلى حكاية أخرى أدهى! كنت أقرر أن أحاديث الأحاد يعمل بها فى الأحكام الشرعية القائمة على العلم الظنى أو الظن الراجح.. فسأل طالب: هل ينبنى على الظن عمل؟ قلت تدبر قوله تعالى:” فإن طلقها فلا تحل له من بعد حتى تنكح زوجا غيره فإن طلقها فلا جناح عليهما أن يتراجعا إن ظنا أن يقيما حدود االله”

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إن أحوال الناس ومسالكهم تنبني غالبا على ما يترجح لديهم من أحكام٬ وأحاديت الآحاد ثبتت فى الدماء والأموال٬ والأعراض على هذا الأساس… أما أصول الاعتقاد٬ وأركان الإيمان فتستمد من نص قطعي الدلالة٬ قطعى الثبوت٬ وهذا ما عليه جمهور الأئمة.. قال الطالب- وهو سلفي كما ظهر لي-: حديث الآحاد مصدر للاعتقاد! قلت- محاولا الاختصار-: ليس في ديننا عقائد تقوم على حديث آحاد! عقائدنا كلها ثاتبة بأدلة قاطعة٬ ولا داعي للجدال! قال الطالب: عقيدة القدم ثبتت بحديث آحاد! فرددت كلمة الطالب بضيق شديد٬ وغاظني منه أن يستأنف كلامه قائلا: وفي راوية أخرى ذكرت كلمة رجل بدل كلمة قدم. قلت: تعنون أن نثبت أن الله رجلا؟ ونعد ذلك من عقائد الإسلام التى نلزم الناس بها؟ قال: نعم٬ وذاك رأى سلف الأمة..! قلت: ما أجرأكم على الافتراء! إن سلف الأمة ما تدري شيئا عن هذه الرجل٬ ولا سمع داع إلى الإسلام يكلف الناس أن يؤمنوا بها.. أصل القصة وتفصيلها ذكره القرطبي على نحو واضح سليم.. قال في صحيح مسلم والبخاري والترمذي٬ عن أنس بن مالك عن النبي صلى االله عليه وسلم أنه قال: ` لا تزال جهنم يلقى فيها وتقول: هل من مزيد؟ حتى يضع رب العزة فيها قدمه فينزوى “1” بعضها إلى بعض وتقول قط قط بعزتك وكرمك٬ ولا يزال

فى الجنة فضل حتى ينشىء االله خلقا فيسكنهم فضل الجنة `لفظ مسلم. وفى رواية أخرى من حديث أبى هريرة: `أما النار فلا تمتلئ حتى يضع االله عليها رجله يقول لها قط قط فهنالك تمتلن وينزوى بعضها إلى بعض فلا يظلم االله من خلقه أحدا٬ وأما الجنة فإن االله ينشئ لها خلقا ` قال علماؤنا رحمهم االله: أما معنى القدم هنا فهم قوم تقدمهم االله إلى النار٬ وقد سبق في علمه أنهم من أهل النار٬ وكذلك الرجل وهو العدد الكثير من الناس وغيرهم؟ يقال رأيت رجلا من الناس ورجلا من جراد “1” ينزوي بعضها إلى بعض: تنقبض على من فيها٬ وتشتعل بعذابهم٬ وتكف عن سؤال: هل من مزيد؟

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قال الشاعر: فمر بنا رخل من الناس وانزوى قبائل من لخم وعكل وحمير إليهيم من الحي اليمانيين أرجل على ابنى نزار بالعداوة أحفل ويبين هذا المعنى ما روى عن ابن مسعود أنه قال: ما فى النار بيت ولاسلسلة ولا مقمع ولا تابوت إلا وعليه اسم صاحبه٬ فكل واحد من الخزنة ينتظر صاحبه الذى قد عرف اسمه وصفته٬ فإذا استوفى كل واحد منهم ما أمر به وما ينتظره ولم يبق منهم أحد٬ قال الخزنة: قط قط حسبنا! أى اكتفينا اكتفينا٬ وحينئذ تنزوى جهنم على من فيها وتنطبق إذ لم يبق أحد ينتظر. فعبر عن ذلك الجمع المنتظر بالرجل والقدم؟ ويشهد لهذا التأويل قوله فى نفس الحديث: ` ولا يزال فى الجنة فضل حتى ينشئ االله لها خلقا فيسكنهم فضل الجنة `. وقد زاد “القرطبى” هذا المعنى بيانا فى كتاب الأسماء والصفات من الكتاب الأسنى والحمد الله. وقال النضر بن شميل فى معنى قوله عليه السلام: `حتى يضع الجبار فيها قدمه ` أى من سبق فى علمه أنه من أهل النار. فأين القدم التى يمشى عليها فى هذا السياق المبين؟ إن العقائد لا تخترع ولا تفتعل على هذا النحو المضحك! عقيدة رجل الله !! ما هذا ؟ قلت: إن أركان الإيمان تؤخذ من نص قطعي الثبوت أي متواتر٬ قطعى الدلالة أي لا يحتمل معنى آخر.. وإذا كان الأحناف يرون أن خبر الواحد لا يثبت فريضة في الفروع العملية٬ لأن الفرض عندهم يثبت بدليل قطعي لا شبهة فيه٬ فكيف نتصور نحن إثباته لعقيدة يكفر منكرها؟ ولكن الطالب السلفي قال: إن القرطبي أشعري المذهب وإنه أحد المفسرين الجانحين إلى التأويل٬ وانه يشبه الرازي والغزالي٬ وإنهم جميعا مبتدعة لا يؤخذ الإسلام منهم… وعلمت أن الغلام مملوء بالجهالة٬ وأنه- مثل …غيره من أدعياء السلفية- لا تصلح الأرض معهم ولا بهم

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الطريق لحل الخلاف في قضية التأويل: وهنا أجدني مسوقا إلى الكلام عن التأويل٬ وتبيان الموقف الصحيح منه… إن العقل الإنساني فى عصرنا هذا عرف قدره٬ وعرف أين يمتد وأين ينكمش؟ ففى بحوث المادة انطلق لا يلوى على شىء ! أما فيما وراء المادة٬ فقد تراجع وأعلن أن هذا ليس ميدانه.. والعقل الإسلامي عرف هذه الحقيقة لكن بعد ما داخ وكاد يهلك! والذين اشتغلوا بالتأويل عندنا سبحوا طويلا فى البحر ثم لما أحسوا الغرق عرجوا على أقرب شاطئ فنجوا بأنفسهم! وقد تأملت مليا فى مواقف رجالنا قديما فما شعرت في قلب أحدهم بسوء٬ ولا رأيت أن أحدهم يخطر بباله النيل من أمجاد الألوهية٬ أو الحط من عظمتها! إن جمهرتهم- فى خشوع وأدب- تشترك مع الكون المسبح بحمد ربه٬ وتشترك مع الركع السجود فى التوبة والخضوع. ربما أسف المعتزلة فى بعض عباراتهم٬ وربما خدعهم الإعجاب بفكر اليونان حينا٬ وأنا ما كان أمرهم فإن العقلاء أدانوهم فى تأليبهم السلطة على أحمد بن حنبل٬ وكان ذلك طاويا لرايتهم إلى الأ بد٬ فانتهوا بخيرهم وشرهم… أما الأشاعرة فتنزيههم دته واضح٬ وثناؤهم عليه جميل٬ وقد اقتصدوا فى التأويل٬ وسلكوا مسلكا وسطا جعل جماهير المسلمين تنضم إليهم من ألف سنة إلى اليوم. ولك أن تقول: ما قيمة هذا الاقتصاد٬ ونحن منهيون عن التأويل جملة وتفصيلا؟ ونجيب: إن المتكلمين من سلف وخلف اضطروا إلى التأويل فى بعض جمل من الكتاب الكريموالسنة كذلكتوفيقا بينها وبين الآيات الأخرى٬ وتمشيا مع حكم العقل فى إثبات الكمال كله الله تبارك اسمه٬ ونفى أى إيهام بما لا يليق! تدبر قوله تعالى: “وهو معكم أينما كنتم واالله بما تعملون بصيرالمفسرون: المعية هنا معية صفات٬ لا معية ذات٬ فهو معنا بعلمه وسمعه وبصره وقدرته وحكمته ورحمته.. إلخ٬ أما معية الذات فتقتضى الحلول وهو باطل… وعلى ضوء هذا فسروا قوله سبحانه وتعالى: “ولقد خلقنا الإنسان ونعلم ما توسوس به نفسه ونحن أقرب إليه من حبل الوريد”. وقوله أيضا: “فلولا إذا بلغت الحلقوم وأنتم حينئذ تنظرون ونحن أقرب إليه منكم ولكن لا تبصرون”. قالوا: نحن أي ملائكتنا… فإذا استحق الأشعرى لوما٬ لأنه أول آيات ومرويات ابتغاء تنزيه االله تبارك وتعالى فغيره كذلك ملوم ولا معنى لنهش الرجل وحده بالأسلوب المسعور الذى نراه الآن!! هل يعني ذلك أننا مع الأشعري في منهجه؟ الحق أني مع السلف الأول من صحابة رسول االله٬ ومع دولة الخلافة الراشدة٬ التي لم تفتح بابا لهذه

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البحوث!. وأنظر إلى ابن تيمية والأشعري على أنهما سواء في الإيمان الصحيح٬ والغيرة على الإسلام. وما يأخذ الكاشحون على أبى الحسن ٬ يؤخذ مثله على ابن تيمية عندما يتوقف فى نفي الجسمية عن االله فلا يثبت ولا ينفي٬ وهذا خطأ٬ وكان ينبغى أن يلتزم بقوله تعالى: “ليس كمثله شيء” فيجزم بالنفى! كما يؤخذ عليه أيضا نفيه للمجاز في القرآن وفي اللغة العربية كلها٬ إن علماء اللغة وأدباءها وشعراءها يبتسمون من هذا النفي الغريب.. ولكن هذه الهنات لا تنال من قدر إمام شامخ كبير العقل راسخ اليقين شديد البلاء٬ فى نصرة الإسلام٬ ورد أعدائه.. وواجبنا فى هذا العصر ألا نجدد العراك بين الموتى٬ وألا تجتر الخلافات القديمة …

Flickering of the Light: Inspirational quotes to return to over and over again … Lest We Forget

The following are three inspirational quotes within which for their authors the eternal light of the soul flickered and momentarily illuminated the darkness of the world … To each of these in order of preference I often return to be inspired.

Malick Elias

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

by Marianne Williamson, from her book A Return to Love …

Continue reading Flickering of the Light: Inspirational quotes to return to over and over again … Lest We Forget

Islamic Concept of Knowledge

By: Professor Maqsood Jafri

There are three theories of knowledge.  First; the Idealistic notion. Second; the Materialistic notion. Third; the Islamic notion.  The Idealists like Plato believe that the material world does not exist at all.  Only the world of Ideas, Forms or consciousness exists.  Plato believed that knowledge was a function of the recollection of previous information.  He based his theory on his specific philosophy of the archetypes.  He believed that the soul has a prior existence.  He said all ideas and things are shadows and reflections of those archetypes and realities that are ever lasting in the world in which the soul had lived.  It is also known as Plato’s Theory of Ideas.  According to the Materialists, the spiritual or immaterial world does not exist.  The Materialists are also known as the realists, the empiricists or the Marxists.  These empiricists believe in five senses.  They consider sense perception as the source or means of knowledge.  They have no faith in mind conceptions without sense perceptions.  John Stuart Mill, David Hume and Berkeley were the exponents and proponents of the doctrine of sense perception.  Knowledge is through experience and teaching.  David Hume says that when a babe is born his/her mind is like a clean slate.  With the passage of time it receives impressions and pictures.  As we teach a small kid and show him different pictures, he starts learning from outside impressions.  When we show the picture of a horse to a baby he/she starts recognising horse.  Then we tell the babies; it is a goat; it is an apple; it is an aero plane etc.  The empiricists do not believe in the existence of soul and innate knowledge.  But it can be said that the empiricists talk about external information.  They have failed in differentiating between material information and intuitive inspirations or knowledge.  Besides, the materialists we find the Rationalists like Aristotle, Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant.  They believed in Mind perception.  Descartes, French philosopher (1596-1650), author of Discourse on Method; The Meditation; Principles of Philosophy; The Passions of the Soul; and Rules of the Directions of the Mind opined that God exists from the certainty of his knowledge of Himself.  He believed in the duality of Soul and Body.  His belief in the immortality of soul made him rationalist and intuitionist at a time. Kant, German philosopher (1724-1804) in his master piece entitled “Critique of Pure Reason” writes that knowledge can be obtained apart from any sense experience.

Let us throw some more light on the notions of the empiricists to clearly understand the notion of the Rationalists.  The advocates of Empiricists state that sense perception supplies the human mind with conceptions and ideas.  According to this theory, the mind merely manages the conceptions of sensible ideas.  John Locke, the eminent British philosopher propounded this theory.  In his book titled, “Essay concerning Human Understanding”, he rejected the Cartesian notions of Innate Ideas.  He attributed all conceptions and ideas to the senses.  The Marxists and the Behaviorists like Pavlov, Freud, Lenin and Mao reject the mental, subjective and theoretic notions of knowledge as on the other hand philosophers like Plato, Epicurus and Democritus reject the objective reality of knowledge.  George Politzer, a renowned communist scholar and activist in his book titled “Elementary Principles of Philosophy” about knowledge writes; “it is sense perception”.  The great Chinese communist leader Mao Tse Tung writes; “The source of all knowledge lies hidden in the perception by the bodily human sense organs of the objective world which surrounds us.”  The empirical theory focuses on experimentation.  This theory gave birth to materialism and atheism.  It rejects the principle of causality and proclaims the habit of the association of ideas and necessary relations.  Syed Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr in his famous book entitled “Our Philosophy” about the logical and scientific failure of the sense perceptions theory writes; “it is possible for us to show the failure of the empirical theory in its attempt to attribute all the human conceptual notions to the sense by investigating a number of the notions of the human mind, such as the following; ‘cause and effect’; ‘substance and accident’; ‘possibility and necessity’; ‘unity and multiplicity’; ‘existence and non-existence’; as well as similar notions and conceptions.”  The ancient Greek philosophers used deductive method of inquiry instead of inductive method.  According to the Rationalists the theoretical knowledge depends on necessary primary knowledge and it is called ‘thought’ or ‘thinking’.  As all knowledge is produced by previous knowledge, and so on, until the progressive series reaches the primary rational knowledge that does not arise from previous sense perceptional knowledge.  The sense perceptional knowledge deals with the existence and non-existence of a thing.  It is the field of physics.  But the Rationalists deal with Metaphysics that deals with ideas, soul and thoughts.  Aristotle, Avicenna and Averoes were the exponents of Rational doctrine.  The former used deductive and latter use inductive method.  The Existentialists like Yean Paul Sartre believe in existence and knowledge through the existence of ego.  The natural sciences based on pure experimentation need rational principles that are prior to experimentation.  The mind accepts the following directly; the principle of causality; the principle of harmony between cause and effect and the principle of non-contradiction that asserts that it is impossible for negation and affirmation to be true simultaneously.  The Rationalists believe that mind has some fixed knowledge which is independent of sense perceptions.  Islam rejects the notions of both, the idealists and the empiricists.  Islam believes in the existence of matter as well as of soul.  About senses and sense perceptions in Sura “The Bee” the Quran says; “it is He who brought you out of your mother’s wombs when you did not know anything.  He gave you hearing, sight and intelligence and affections in the hope that you will be grateful.” (16:78).  The material universe is a reality.  The Quran in Sura Adoration says; “Allah is the one who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six days.” (32:4). Then the Quran testifies the creation and existence of soul in Sura “The Israelites” as such: “They ask you concerning the soul, say: Soul is the special command of my Lord.  You have been given very little knowledge (about it).”(17:85).  As man is the blend of matter and soul, hence he/she attains knowledge through two sources; material and spiritual.  The Quran in Sura “The Prostration” says; “He who has made everything which He has created Most Good; He began the creation of man with clay.  He made his offspring come into existence from an extract of insignificant fluid, then He gave it proper shape and blew His spirit in it.: (32: 7-8).  God gave knowledge to Adam through inspiration; not through empiricism.  In Sura “The Heifer” the Quran says: “And He taught Adam the nature (names) of all things.”(2:31). About the advancement of knowledge the Quran in Sura “Ta Ha” says: “Be not in haste with the Quran before its revelation to you is completed, but say, “O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge.” (20:114). According to the Law of Newton you see apple falling down but you can not see gravity.  Hence Islam believes in matter and soul as the sources of knowledge.  Our mystical experiences and dreams totally reject materialism and open the vista for the knowledge of revelation.  Without revelation we can never discern between vice and virtue.  William Shakespeare says; “Nothing is good or bad, it is our thinking that makes it so”.  By saying this he makes values as relative ones.  On the other hand Immanuel Kant has said, “Good is good and bad is bad.”  By saying this he showed his faith in Absolute Values.  Revelation is the supreme authority on good and bad.  Dr. Ahmed K. Nazir in his book entitled, “In light of Al-Quran” writes; “A primary task of life for us is to learn and be able to differentiate between good and bad.”  Of course the real guide is God and the straight path is the path shown by God.  This is true knowledge and one should strive to seek it and act on it.

(The writer is an eminent speaker and scholar on comparative religions and is a political activist. He can be reached at  This article has been published with his expressed permission.

The Meaning of Tawheed Revisited in the light of Compatibilist Epistemologies

by Malick Elias

In my last article I had put forward a dialectic which shows that at a deeper level revelation and reason are but from one and the same source albeit they manifest differently in the minds of their recipients. At the base of the revelation-reason dialectic a Compatibilist position was implied.

Compatibilism, in philosophy disputes that there is any incompatibility between determinism (Jibr) and free will (Qadr). These conclusions also imply a Monistic way of looking at the world, where only one concrete object and by extension ‘one reality’ exists. These conclusions ultimately evokes questions surrounding how I define Islamic Monotheism or Tawheed and to the extent that both Monism broadly speaking  and Monotheism are the same. Why are these questions important? Firstly, because the history of the philosophy of science can be defined as a search for the meaning of God, the nature of His being and reality of His existence in the world.  Secondly, if my first assumption is correct then, Monotheists which have largely focused upon deconstructing the metaphysics surrounding God and Monist which as a movement has largely been preoccupied with philosophical and scientific explanations of ontological or object reality can both compliment each other and provide for Muslim intellectual scholarship the tools to redefine or sharpen their ontological argument. Lastly, ‘religious monism’ because of it emphasis upon progressing the ontological argument has given rise to other emerging faith-ways such as pantheism and panentheism. These new-age faith-ways are inheriting the consciousness of a generation of children of Monotheists by offering alternative perspectives on ‘reality’ often masked in liberal political and scientific discourses and or appeals to spiritualism and naturism and Muslim intellectual scholarship have to rise to the challenge of understanding these forces and the threats they pose to Islamic Monotheism.
Continue reading The Meaning of Tawheed Revisited in the light of Compatibilist Epistemologies