Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Muslim student and Prof|
|03/11/01 at 11:38:22|
|Asalaam O' alaikum|
I am posting this with a belive that this isn't posted before.
AT an educational institution:
"Professing to be wise, they became fools . . .."
"LET ME EXPLAIN THE problem science has with God."
The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his
class and then
asks one of his new students to stand.
"You're a Muslim, aren't you, son?"
"So you believe in God?"
"Is God good?"
"Sure! God's good."
"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"
The professor grins knowingly and considers for a moment.
"Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person
over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help them?
"Would you try?"
"Yes sir, I would."
"So you're good...!"
"I wouldn't say that."
"Why not say that? You would help a sick and maimed
person if you could
...in fact most of us would if we could... God doesn't.
"He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Muslim who died
of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal him. How is this God
Can you answer that one?"
The elderly man is sympathetic. "No, you can't, can you?"
He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to
give the student time to relax. In philosophy, you have to go easy with
the new ones.
"Let's start again, young fella." "Is God good?"
"Is Satan good?"
"Where does Satan come from?" The student falters.
"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he?" The elderly
man runs his
bony fingers through his thinning hair and turns to
"I think we're going to have a lot of fun this
semester, ladies and gentlemen."
He turns back to the Muslim. "Tell me, son. Is there
evil in this world?"
"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? Did God make everything?"
"Who created evil?
"Is there sickness in this world? Immorality? Hatred?
Ugliness? All the terrible things - do they exist in this world?"
The student squirms on his feet. "Yes."
"Who created them? "
The professor suddenly shouts at his student.
"WHO CREATED THEM? TELL ME,PLEASE!
"The professor closes in for the kill and climbs into
the Muslim's face.
In a still small voice: "God created all evil, didn't
The student tries to hold the steady, experienced gaze and fails.
Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace the front of
the classroom like an aging panther. The class is mesmerized.
"Tell me," he continues,
"How is it that this God is good if He created all
evil throughout all
The professor swishes his arms around to encompass the
wickedness of the world.
"All the hatred, the brutality, all the pain, all the
torture, all the
death and ugliness and all the suffering created by
this good God is all over the world, isn't it, young man?"
"Don't you see it all over the place? Huh?"
"Don't you?" The professor leans into the student's
face again and whispers,
"Is God good?"
"Do you believe in God, son?"
The student's voice betrays him and cracks.
"Yes, professor. I do."
The old man shakes his head sadly. "Science says you
have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you.
"You have never seen God, Have you? "
"No, sir. I've never seen Him."
"Then tell us if you've ever heard your God?"
"No, sir. I have not."
"Have you ever felt your God, tasted your God or smelt
your God...in fact, do you have any sensory perception of your God
"Answer me, please."
"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."
"You're AFRAID... you haven't?"
"Yet you still believe in him?"
"That takes FAITH!" The professor smiles sagely at the underling.
"According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol,
science says your God doesn't exist.
What do you say to that, son? Where is your God now?"
[The student doesn't answer]
"Sit down, please."
The Muslim sits...Defeated.
Another Muslim raises his hand. "Professor, may I
address the class?"
The professor turns and smiles. "Ah, another Muslim in the vanguard!
Come, come, young man. Speak some proper wisdom to the
The Muslim looks around the room. "Some interesting
points you are making, sir. Now I've got a question for you. Is there
such thing as heat?"
"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."
"Is there such a thing as cold?"
"Yes, son, there's cold too."
"No, sir, there isn't."
The professor's grin freezes. The room suddenly goes
very cold. The second Muslim continues.
"You can have lots of heat, even more heat,
super-heat, mega-heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat but we don't have
anything called 'cold'. We can hit 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat,
but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as
cold, otherwise we would be able to go colder than 458 - - You see, sir,
cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot
measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is
energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it."
Silence. A pin drops somewhere in the classroom.
"Is there such a thing as darkness, professor?"
"That's a dumb question, son. What is night if it
isn't darkness? What are you getting at...?"
"So you say there is such a thing as darkness?"
"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something,
it is the absence
of something. You can have low light, normal light,
flashing light but if you have no light constantly you
have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning
we use to define the word. In reality, Darkness isn't. If it were, you would be
able to make darkness darker and give me a jar of it.
Can you...give me a jar of darker darkness, professor?"
Despite himself, the professor smiles at the young
effrontery before him. This will indeed be a good semester. "Would you
mind telling us what your point is, young man?"
"Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical
premise is flawed to
start with and so your conclusion must be in
The professor goes toxic. "Flawed...? How dare you...!""
"Sir, may I explain what I mean?"
The class is all ears.
"Explain... oh, explain..." The professor makes an
admirable effort to regain control. Suddenly he is affability itself.
He waves his hand to silence the class, for the
student to continue.
"You are working on the premise of duality," the
"That for example there is life and then there's
death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as
something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science cannot even
explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism but has never seen,
much less fully understood them. To view death as the opposite of life
is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a
Death is not the opposite of life, merely the absence of it."
The young man holds up a newspaper he takes from the
desk of a neighbor who has been reading it.
"Here is one of the most disgusting tabloids this country hosts,
professor. Is there such a thing as immorality?"
"Of course there is, now look..."
"Wrong again, sir. You see, immorality is merely the absence of
morality. Is there such thing as injustice? No.
Injustice is the absence of justice. Is there such a thing as evil?"
The Muslim pauses.
"Isn't evil the absence of good?"
The professor's face has turned an alarming colour. He
is so angry he is temporarily speechless.
The Muslim continues. "If there is evil in the world,
professor, and we all agree there is, then God, if he exists, must be
accomplishing a work through the agency of evil. What is that work,
God is accomplishing? Islam tells us it is to see if each one
of us will, choose good over evil."
The professor bridles. "As a philosophical scientist,
I don't vie this matter as having anything to do with any choice; as a
realist, I absolutely do not recognize the concept of God or any
other theological factor as being part of the world equation
because God is not observable."
"I would have thought that the absence of God's moral
code in this world is probably one of the most observable phenomena
going," the Muslim replies.
"Newspapers make billions of dollars reporting it every week! Tell me,
professor. Do you teach your students that they
evolved from a monkey?"
"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man,
yes, of course I do."
"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"
The professor makes a sucking sound with his teeth and
gives his student a silent, stony stare.
"Professor. Since no-one has ever observed the process of evolution at
work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor,
are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist,
but a priest?"
"I will overlook your impudence in the light of our philosophical
Now, have you quite finished?" the professor hisses.
"So you don't accept God's moral code to do what is
righteous?" "I believe in what is - that's science!"
"Ahh! SCIENCE!" the student's face splits into a grin.
"Sir, you rightly state that science is the study of observed
phenomena. Science too is a premise which is flawed..."
"SCIENCE IS FLAWED..?" the professor splutters.
The class is in uproar.
The Muslim remains standing until the commotion has subsided.
"To continue the point you were making earlier to the
other student, may I give you an example of what I mean?"
The professor wisely keeps silent.
The Muslim looks around the room. "Is there anyone in
the class who has ever seen air, Oxygen, molecules, atoms, the
The class breaks out in laughter. The Muslim points
towards his elderly, crumbling tutor.
"Is there anyone here who has ever heard the
professor's brain... felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the
No one appears to have done so. The Muslim shakes his head sadly.
"It appears no-one here has had any sensory perception of the
professor's brain whatsoever. Well, according to the rules of
empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science, I DECLARE that the
professor has no brain."
***NOW IT IS EVERYONE'S CHANCE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT
ISLAM, ABOUT GOD, ABOUT THE PURPOSE OF Existence, creation & life, ABOUT
THE PROPHETS OF GOD, & ABOUT HIS HOLY BOOKS, ESPECIALLY THE HOLY
QUR'AAN. THEN IT IS YOUR CHOICE TO BECOME A MUSLIM, OR NOT. ALLAAH SAYS IN
THE HOLY QUR'AAN: "THERE IS NO COMPULSION IN RELIGION "***
"There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become
clearly distinct from error; And he who rejects false deities and
believes in Allaah (The God) has grasped a firm handhold which will
never break. and Allaah is ALL-Hearing,
Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe.
He brings them out of the darkness into the light; As for those who
disbelieve, their guardians are false deities. They bring them out of
light into darkness...(257)"
AL-QUR'AAN (CHAPTER # 2, VERSES # 256-257)
Wasalaam O' alaikum
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/11/01 at 17:23:53|
|Asalaamu Alaikuum ;-)|
Jazakhallah khair for the post
That heat/cold argument really hit the mark for me
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/12/01 at 01:04:49|
Man...this article kind of cracks me up. First of all, it was DEFINITELY "Islamisized", meaning it was a Christian article/Christian student, etc. The message is kind of interesting, but we have to realize that this kid is speaking from a Christian perspective (base everything on faith, science is flawed, we are not inherently good,etc) and so we have to be careful about totally buying into his arguement. Second of all, man, I've taken my share of philosophy classes, and if I *ever* had a philosophy professor like this, I would report him to the "international philosophy professors society" so he could get his license revoked! I mean...seriously, no serious, intellectual philospher would stammer and hiss at a student! Nor would he fall for the same analogical trick twice in a row, (heat and darkness)! Anyways, I guess I just found the nature of this article a little silly. I mean, the brother has some major logical flaws in his arguement, but I guess it is still kind of an interesting way to look at things.
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/12/01 at 22:23:38|
This article has some big flaws. A few of the things that the student says in there to support his arguments are are really bad. Like Nazia said, it's from such a Christian point of view. From what I understand, an argument from the Islamic perspective would be a lot better than this. On the surface it looks good, but it's not all that. So, never try to argue with a philosopy professor by using these arguments, they will pin you against the wall. :) On the other hand, someone who doesn't know much about philosophy but belives the same things as the professor in this sotry then they will be easier to convince and they most probably would stutter afterwards. But a philosophy major..... :)
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/13/01 at 09:32:32|
So what would you present as an Islamic argument?
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/13/01 at 23:44:38|
Br. Uzer has raised an interesting question, and Insha'Allah, one day I'll try to answer it :) But right now, all I want to say is this. While what the student in this article says is [i]thought-provoking[/i] at best, it is not the [i]foundation[/i] for which Muslims base their beliefs. You see, as Muslims, we don't find ourselves saying things like, "Well, if you don't have FAITH, the Quran won't do you much good. Have faith first, and then the Quran makes much sense." We say, "Even if you don't have an OUNCE of faith, we can prove Allah's existence SIMPLY through the FACTS of the Quran." Once Allah's existence is PROVEN, through solid, empirical facts, we then move forward and try to address the issues that are raised in this article. However, you see, the philosophical tradition is slightly different from the "religious tradition" (though I tried writing a paper claiming they weren't :) ) In philosophy, God's existence is "proven" seperately from "faith." You might be familiar with Descarte and Anselm's Ontological argument, or the teleological argument prasented by many modern philosphers. Anyways, it would take me forever to explain them, but let me try to sum them up quickly. The ontological argument (by far the most popular) states that God, by [i]definition[/i] MUST exist. That is to say, if we define GOD as the GREATEST thing our minds can comprehend, then we have to admit that something that exists in [i]reality[/i], independent of our thoughts, is GREATER than that which depends on our thoughts, or something that is infact only existing in our minds. Therefore the GREATEST thing would be that wich EXISTS in reality. Thats NOT to say that because we imagine it, it exists, because clearly, we can imagine unicorns, little green men, flying pigs etc. and those do not exist. But think about it like this: if an artist imagines a painting in his head, and then paints that image, clearly the actual painting is greater than his thought of it, right? Soo, the GREATEST thing BY definition must exist. Anyways, the teleological argument basically is one many Muslims adhere to. It essentially asks you to look at the world and imagine the sheer unliklihood of this world coming together as it did...simply by chance. Anyways, the reason I mention all of this is so that as Muslims, we understand a little better how to present Islam to someone with a philosophical mindset. (Clearly, the professor in this story had NO such mindset.)
Luckily for us, Islam is the bomb, and provides the highest form of philosophy AND the highest form of practicality. So to the "philosophy" prof in this story, we would say, "Buddy, you're missing the POINT!" If people ask the WRONG questions, they get the WRONG answers! Clearly, before you can prove God's eternal goodness, you must prove his existence. Also, the brother is mad arrogant. Why is he so confident HIS defintion of "good" is one that we will all buy? Why must God be bounded by HIS skewed defintion??
Why can't he simply understand that PERHAPS the problem is not with the religion, but with HIS STUPID reasoning! The problem with people today is that they would much rather worship their own reasoning, something that has failed them many times, than ACCEPT that perhaps THEIR ideas contain logical flaws. Things are NOT as straightforward as they seem! BUT lets assume we're dealing with a sane professor, one who actually knows his stuff. The task becomes much more difficult, and much more serious. Its not about rhetoric or analogies anymore. Its about pure philosophical arguments, complete with grounded premises, both empirical and abstract, followed by a logical conclusion based on those premises. This is no easy task :) I promised I wouldn't answer the question, and thats merely because this question is one I'm still battling. I can think of 100 things to say, and I can also think of 100 arguments my professor make against me. But basically, we have to understand that Islam is very complex. And by that I do not mean "hard." I mean that it encompasses EVERYTHING. It permeates through science, through philosophy, through politics, through economics, education, EVERYTHING. (duh, I guess we all know that :)) If we try to simplify the perfect, we take something away from it, no? That's why we have to be very careful when dealing with the philosophical tradition. Anyways, I think I just babbled for an hour! I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is NO simple answer. And there shouldn't be, because Islam is not simplistic! We can all come up with answers like the student in this story, but guaranteed they can all be argued against. Its kind of like when someone asks why I wear hijab. I feel like saying, "Do you have about 8 hours to spare? Because if you're expecting an answer that does any justice to Islam in 15 seconds, I'm in no position to give it to you" Islam is an entire mentality, and it does take a little THOUGHT to understand. "..in this are signs for those who [i]reflect[/i]"
And this is not say that an answer cannot be given. I'm sure someone can give one, just not me! Well, I do have a few suggestions, but I'd like to organize my thoughts a little before I post them.
My head hurts :(
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/14/01 at 10:32:45|
|Asalaamu Alaikum ;-)|
[quote]That is to say, if we define GOD as the GREATEST thing our minds can comprehend, then we have to admit that something that exists in reality, independent of our thoughts, is GREATER than that which depends on our thoughts, or something that is infact only existing in our minds. Therefore the GREATEST thing would be that which EXISTS in reality. Thats NOT to say that because we imagine it, it exists, because clearly, we can imagine unicorns, little green men, flying pigs etc. and those do not exist. But think about it like this: if an artist imagines a painting in his head, and then paints that image, clearly the actual painting is greater than his thought of it, right? Soo, the GREATEST thing BY definition must exist.[/quote]
The Ontological Argument
Isn't this an argument about degrees?
If you encounter someone who has great power, strength and might, isn't there someone out there who is more powerful than him and in turn more powerful then him and so on.
Thus you eventually reach a stage where you can't find or think of a person who is more powerful than the last person you've found.
Thus by definition somewhere out there the Most Powerful being (whoever He may be) must exist.
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/14/01 at 12:51:59|
Yeah, essentially what you and I said is pretty much the same. I took St.Anselm's ontological argument. I'm sure if you read Descartes, or anyone elses, the wording will be slightly different, but the message will be the same.
ps-you know how we inadvertantly make mental images of everything and everyone(through word association or whatever), even people we've never seen? Well, if someone ever asked me, "So, you know Br. Khalid?" I would immediately think:
"Yeah, he's this guy: ;-) "
Thats the mental image I get of you! haha..
|Cosmo, Onto, Teleo and friends|
|03/14/01 at 15:32:39|
|Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem|
Dearest Brothers & Sisters,
Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah.
Philosophy majors? Forget ‘em! Put them opposite a single Islamic Scholar who has studied ‘Ilm al-Mantiq [logic] and such arguments as originally espoused by the mutakallimeen, and they’ll be like a fish floundering out of water! ;-)
Though one should note that our history is replete with both opponents and advocates of the method of both the mutakallimeen and the philosophers. Some of this opposition was due to misunderstanding, some due to the excessive use of philosophy which in some cases led to statements of kufr, and some due to the assertion that such arguments were not used in the early days of Islam. There were also other reasons too. All these issues need not be tackled here, but is good to be aware of their existence if it is an area that you are interested in studying.
Coincidentally (if I may take the liberty of using such a word), only yesterday I discovered the writings of a Brother who is impressively well-versed in such logical/rational forms of reasoning. In fact he himself inclines strongly towards the Cosmological argument, and I spent some time yesterday reading and assessing his formulations of them. Very well-written, and lucid, for those who may be interested. Though I have yet to decide for myself if I accept his composition of such arguments as sound in the manner he has structured them.
<We say, "Even if you don't have an OUNCE of faith, we can prove Allah's existence SIMPLY through the FACTS of the Quran.">
Sister Nazia, could you elaborate on what you meant here, for your words are intriguing to say the least. ;-)
I would like to ask you some questions about this, and make some remarks:
<[…]Allah's existence is PROVEN, through solid, empirical facts,?>
1. Are these the same “FACTS of the Qur’an” you previously mentioned? If so, if they are established empirically, then is it not the case that their existence is independent of the Qur’an? Meaning they could be established as true even if someone was unaware about the Qur’anic pronouncements about them? If so, then what weight does their being mentioned in the Qur’an give them? Because here you are trying to prove the existence Allah (swt) by using the Qur’an, and if you accept that the Qur’an contains *factual* statements, then that itself pre-supposes the validity of the Qur’an, no? So how is that achieved? Does the validity of Al-Qur’an derive from the establishment as fact of that which is mentioned within it? Or does the validity of the Qur’an establish the truth of these facts mentioned therein?
Do you see what I am getting at here? That the reasoning here seems to be kind of circular. If you are relying on the Qur’an to establish the truth of the existence of Allah (swt), then that assumes the validity of the Qur’an. Now, how is that appropriate when if we haven’t yet proved the existence of Allah (swt), we nevertheless accept the validity of a Book which is supposed to have been revealed by Him (swt)? How can one who hasn’t yet proven the existence of God, accept the word of a Book which is the Word of He (awj) whom one has yet to accept as existent?
Is my point worthy of consideration, or have I missed something?
2. I think myself that it *is* possible to prove the existence of Allah (swt) using rational and logical arguments. For two reasons. One, because even if I was unable to do so myself – or thus far had failed to adequately manage to do so – I know that Muslim minds much greater than mine have claimed to have done so. Now, I know that that is not a proof that is probative, but what it is, is a strong case for an assumption of the probable soundness of such proofs. The problem is, we seek certainty, not probability, for the Islamic standard for aqeedah [belief] is yaqeen [certainty], right?
Islamically – as we learnt on authority – what is required of the *lay* Muslim is yaqeen, not an *objective* hujja [proof] for that yaqeen. Such a proof is fard kifayah [a collective/sufficient obligation] upon the Ummah. Meaning, that as long as we have within the Ummah, those who can prove/defend this aqeedah, then the obligation is lifted from our shoulders for having to do so. Wallahu ta’ala a’lam. And this obligation naturally tends to be the domain of Scholars, of which – alhamdulillah – we had many who were unparalleled and excelled in this.
Now, if one demands the standard of such proofs to *accept* the aqeedah, or one might remain skeptical in the absence of such proofs, for nothing less will suffice one in availing yaqeen then the necessary steps must be taken. But what is crucial to note is that their acquisition is not a pre-condition to accepting Islam, or indeed, staying within the fold of Al-Islam. This point cannot be overstated, for I myself know of Muslims who left this Deen because they had been taught that yaqeen could not exist in the absence of proof, and thus despite trying, when they couldn’t ascertain the necessary degree of proof they required to dispel their doubts, they apostasised, ma’adallah.
Many, if not most of us, possess *subjective* proofs for our yaqeen with respect to our belief in Allah (swt), which to others would not hold water. But it suffices us, until and unless we choose to wrestle with some heavyweight non-Muslim philosophiser’s/intellectuals. Then some us find ourselves in trouble, as we rapidly find ourselves out of our depth. I’m not saying all of us, or even most, merely many. I have seen it too many times. The argument shifts from reasoning to asserting, without it being accepted/realised by the Muslim who has found him/herself in that corner.
What I am saying is that not everyone requires the same degree of proof. For some Muslims, they believe in Allah (swt) (and the rest of the points of aqeedah) without *ever* having gone through such elaborate and technical proofs like these three logical arguments (i.e. cosmological, ontological and teleological). Yet they possess yaqeen in Islam. Because for them, their belief is not a matter of rationality, and this is fine, Islamically. Read Imam al-Ghazali’s (ra) amazing voyage of discovery that is “Munqidh min al-Dalal” (it’s in english, titled “The Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazali,” by Montgomery Watt. It is uploaded onto the web in an okay translation by someone else too).
What Islam requires is ratiocination. But what level of ratiocination, differs from individual to individual. The bane of today is that we have Muslims running around trying to forcefeed other Muslims into accepting intricate rational proofs for the basis of their belief, which occasionally - despite the best intentions of those doing the “convincing” - unravel, rather than strengthen , the belief of that poor Brother/Sister, who up until they’d been accosted by such proofs, had been content in their aqeedah. May Allah (swt) protect us all from this.
The reason for such tragedies is that many times, those who *think* they are capable of tackling such proofs, are in fact not. The reason for their delusion in many cases is that *most* of the people they test/use such arguments upon are themselves lacking in meticulousness and rigorousness in their standard of accepting such proofs as presented to them. An example:
Once, on another Board, this subject had been broached. Someone wrote a massive and elaborate outline of a version of one of these arguments. Others seemed to accept it as written. I myself noticed flaws in it. Having pointed this out, instead of dealing with it, I was rounded upon as someone with an agenda! Subhan’Allah.
So I agree with you entirely when you very perceptively wrote:
< The problem with people today is that they would much rather worship their own reasoning, something that has failed them many times, than ACCEPT that perhaps THEIR ideas contain logical flaws.>
This is my point too. Not that I don’t think it is possible to present these arguments in a sound fashion. But that most of those who I’ve come across who seem to think they’ve mastered them, have in fact not. That is less to do with the argument, than their own shortcomings. Imagine then the weakness in thought of those who likewise receive these arguments in the same form, yet fail to notice the flaw in the reasoning, and consequently accept them as sound. Now, here’s the thing, and please, reflect on this those of you reading this.
Remember I said that in Islam what is required with respect to aqeedah is yaqeen, not hujja (except on a collective level)? The strength of that hujja *on a relative level* varies. But in the realm of *absoluteness* IT MUST BE SOUND. Else this whole Deen could not stand. What do I mean? Simply that, as we would all agree, refuting the arguments of a single Muslim does not equate to refuting Islam. In other words, all that would mean is that *that particular Muslim* had unsound arguments, NOT that there are no sound arguments for Islam. So, from Muslim to Muslim – i.e.relatively – our reasoning for believing in Allah (swt) may vary. In some cases more stronger than others. But that same weak reasoning may be acceptable to those who are on a par with us, or less, in terms of stringency. But somewhere, exists an argument (or arguments) that are *absolutely* watertight. Wallahu a’lam. It could not be otherwise, for this the Deen of Haqq!
So, when it comes to the case of those who accept these rational arguments for the existence of Allah ta’ala which are composed in a manner that say, *I*, consider deficient, but others don’t seem to have noticed, then for them, they have reached yaqeen. And surely this is sufficient. It matters not that to me they have accepted a weak argument, for to open up the matter might lead to an outcome worse than their current state. If they one day come across some sharp philosophical non-Muslim thinker, then they need to have the foreknowledge that just because their argument has been pierced, that doesn’t mean a sound argument doesn’t exist. It just means that they need to search and be patient.
But you can see how this would be so disastrous for those who claim that yaqeen in the absence of hujja cannot exist. For once their hujja is shot to pieces, their yaqeen will disappear. And this was exactly the case of this ex-Muslim, may Allah (swt) Guide him back to the Truth. He failed to realise that what was rebutted was *his* reasoning, because he had believed that his reasoning was *the* reasoning, when it wasn’t. Having tried to find answers and failed, he eventually went from the state where he had believed the answer existed and he just hadn’t come across it yet, to actually doubting the existence of the answer withint the Ummah, ma’adallah.
3. If such arguments were the only way to come to Islam, then Islam would be the sole property of the intellectual elite. Because, if we take, for example, the teleological argument, you can either believe it like those who refuse to accept that all this came about by chance, and that is enough for them as a proof, or you can believe it to the level of precision and detail that some books of philosophy go into. It is the same argument in both cases, one with the steps in between and one without. Again, what is important is that *some* degree of ratiocination has occurred, not that it be at the level of PhD Philosophy.
< However, you see, the philosophical tradition is slightly different from the "religious tradition" (though I tried writing a paper claiming they weren't ) In philosophy, God's existence is "proven" seperately from "faith.">
Another interesting sentence. It is possible here – wallahu a’lam - that your conclusion is coloured by the religious tradition of religions other than Islam, which I say for two reasons. Firstly because in the time of the revelation, it was *generally* not contended that God existed. In general most people (not all) believed in the idea of a deity, they just had different conceptions of that, in the sense of *your god* and *my god*, and other manifestations such as idols, etc. The ayaat in the Qur’an *affirmed* such a belief (in God), removed the aspect of shirk, and purified such a belief by directing the people towards the Islamic concept of belief in a Creator (awj). The ayaat further guided people on *how* to utilise that which they had been endowed with by Allah (swt), to come to this conclusion.
Secondly because I think you’re setting up a strawman here. Islam never subscribed to a concept of faith, this was a phenomenon particular to religions like Christianity.
I see two possible interpretations of your words here, so please notify me which one is correct. Either you mean that faith provides a proof for the belief in God’s existence, but the philosophical tradition proves it by another method outside of this (i.e. outside of the method of faith). Or you mean that in philosophy, God’s existence is proven, whereas in faith it is just, well, accepted.
I’m not sure which of these two alternatives to incline towards, so I’ll continue regardless.
Since in Islam we have no concept of faith, there really is not way to accept the aqeedah unless one believes in Allah (swt), which means firstly to believe in His (swt) existence. How one arrives at that belief is another matter entirely. But if you wish to discuss how the philosophical tradition unfolded throughout the Islamic history then yes, it was not by use of the Qur’an as a proof for the existence of Allah (swt). You can by way of example, study the formulations of the cosmological argument by Al-Kindi, Imam al Ghazali (ra), and you will see that both stated the argument form in logical terms. Neither resorted to appeals to the Qur’anic text. (Though it is important to note that Imam al Ghazali (ra) did not agree with the method of the Muslim Philosophers.)
You may further notice allusions to a basic form of the teleological argument (i.e argument by design) by scholars like Imam ash-Shafi’i (ra) and his example of the mulberry tree (I think?), Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (ra) with his example about the egg, and Imam Abu Hanifah (ra) in his famous exchange with the atheist, to name but a few.
All of these were rationally structured reasonings.
If one is to resort to Al-Qur’an al-Kareem as *part* of our proof for the existence of Allah (swt), then that is pre-supposing it’s validity, which is then like begging the question really. However, if one is trying to prove the truth of Al-Qur’an itself as being of Divine origin, and then taking that as a springboard to prove the existence of Allah (swt), then that’s a different endeavour, and possibly more plausible, wallahu a’lam. Alternatively, if one is taking the path that we won’t yet claim a Divine origin for the Qur’an, but we’ll just agree that it – whoever “authored” it – exhorts us to use the faculties we possess (i.e. minds, senses, etc.), and that this can be affirmed rationally too, without recourse to that text, then this too seems without contention. For in this case you have not pre-supposed the validity of the Qur’an as being from Allah (swt), but merely said that this “book” says such-and-such and we – from reality- can also agree. But in this case, reference to the Qur’an would not really add anything to the point. Only for the one who already accepted the Qur’an as being from Allah (swt) would there be any value in quoting it at this juncture to someone who doesn’t accept that Allah (swt) exists, or that this is His (awj) Kitab. For in this case then, such words would eventually – if one *does* manage to prove that Allah (swt) exists - give credence to that which is written in a source that propounded the method employed to reach this conclusion.
Please not here that I am not writing all this in opposition to anything you wrote, so don’t mistake this as implying you wrote anything wrong - wal iyadhubillah – no. I am just adding some thoughts that came to me having read your post.
< Its about pure philosophical arguments, complete with grounded premises, both empirical and abstract, followed by a logical conclusion based on those premises. This is no easy taskI promised I wouldn't answer the question, and thats merely because this question is one I'm still battling.>
I was skeptical for the longest time, having previously embraced such arguments, even though it took almost a year of intense and regular debate for me to accept a single form of one of these arguments. In fact, it is quite amusing to recall now that one of the Brothers who tried and tried to convince me of such reasoning was given such a battering by me, in terms of the questions I asked, the depths of abstractism we went to during our exchanges, and my regular deconstruction of his reasoning (all in the pursuit of truth), that he once, in frustration exclaimed, “Man! His questions are so deep that he’s making me doubt now!” Lol!! Great! That really reassured me that I was speaking to someone who was capable of appeasing me, not!
Anyway, having become an advocate of a particular form of one of these arguments, I later became disillusioned with them, based on recurrent weaknesses I detected in everyone I came across who argues in like fashion. So then I set about on a quest to find out how *fundamental* truths are reached, and the various methods utilised. This was when someone told me to read the “Munqidh…” as it echoed my own quest. Indeed it is a marvelous book, may Allah (swt) reward Imam al Ghazali (ra).
Over time I came to realise the extent of my extensive ignorance, and my sheer arrogance in insisting *I knew*, that *I could handle it*, that *I have Islam, the truth on my side, so let the kuffar bring what they may, in terms of rational arguments undermining my belief, I’ll handle it*. I learned the hard way that when you exalt yourself to a rank beyond that which you are, then as the Prophetic hadith warns, Allah (swt) may test you by it. And believe me, I was buffeted by the worst kind of skepticism.
It was by the sheer Rahma [mercy] upon me by Allah (awj), that I found myself at the feet of one of the most capable scholars we have today, hafiDhahullah. I was finally able to ask someone who was qualified and had the authority *to know*, about this whole issue. I learned that indeed such arguments can be structured in an impenetrable manner, and more – to my delight – that our Classical Ulema did! It is just that these works are not translated into english. This was being told to me on the authority of one who has himself studied – from the Islamic perspective (very important, since many of us learn these things from non-Islamic sources) – these exact same proofs, and the Sciences of mantiq [logic] and balagha [rhetoric – i.e. *how* to reason and debate]. Moreover I had finally come across someone in whom I could place my trust, and believe me, I don’t place me trust lightly in just anyone who I encounter and seems impressive and trustworthy. This is Deen, and this is Sacred Knowledge! It is related that Muhammad Ibn Sirin (d.110 AH) said, “This knowledge is the Religion. So be careful as to whom you take your Religion from [Related by Muslim (no. 114) and by Abu Nu’aym in al-Hilyat al Awliya’ (2/278)]
It is also attributed to Imam Malik (d.157 AH) that he (ra) said, “This knowledge is the Religion, so look to see from whom you take your Religion. I met seventy people who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah said…’ at the pillars of the mosque.’ And he pointed to the Mosque of the Prophet then he said: ‘‘But, I did not take from a single one of them…because they were not from the people of this affair. [Related by al-Baghdadi in al-Faqih wal-Mutafaqih (2/98)]
So, for now, if you are wrestling with doubts about such types of arguments, know that our Scholars did use them, and they are usable. Maybe not in the way that non-Muslim philosophers state them, but don’t let your experiences with their works dissuade you that forms of these arguments exist that are indeed failsafe. Wallahu a’lam.
I am not advocating such arguments, nor am I opposing them. I’m just notifying you, to maybe placate any doubt you may have regarding some of them, that we learnt on the authority of those who have taken from the Masters (raa), that the aqqedah of Al-Islam can be established, and defended rationally.
One point to end on. Aqeedah is something one acquires. Iman is something which only comes by Allah (swt). Too many Muslims don’t know this, and it is paramount. Because just because one is able to *rationally* prove the basis of belief, doesn’t mean that one will thereby become a Muslim of taqwa, high iman, uboodiyah, etc. I have seen this too, and it’s truth is undeniable. So let none of us think that having acquired aqeedah, we now have iman. No! Iman is the gift of Allah (swt) to you, in Guiding you to Islam.
"Say: You do not flatter me by your claim to islam- rather it is Allah's favour upon you that He has guided you to believe, provided you are truthful." [49:17]
Since this subject is fraught with danger, it is likely I may have stumbled many times in the journey from the beginning of this post to here, so if you notice something that seems wrong, please bring it to my attention. Aqeedah is not a matter to be treated lightly, and the consequences of misleading others with one’s words is a sobering thought, wal iyadhubillah.
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/14/01 at 22:45:17|
I noticed some of things you pointed out even as I was writing my post. I thought about expounding, but I honestly didn't think anyone would read it so carefully. I had forgotten, briefly, that you were a member of this board ;)
Actually, you mention here:
[quote]Islam never subscribed to a concept of faith, this was a phenomenon particular to religions like Christianity.
I guess thats what I was trying to illustrate that without coming out and saying it. Often times, living in the west, and hearing everyone talk about "faith" etc, we kind of buy into it unknowlingly, thinking that Islam presents this kind of rationale as well. And you're absolutely right. It doesn't. (Am I not supposed to be boycotting your posts or something??)
And, definitely, presupposing the validity of the Quran is the easiest way to lose ANY argument with a non-Muslim :) At the same time, the Quran contains things that any knowledgeable person would have to agree are at the least thought-provoking. For example, the in-depth description of embryology to name one. (Most people would readily admit this is atleast surprising--they may not readily take the shahada, but its a start) Anyways, you know what? I really would like to go on, but I mean, who am I kidding? I think se7en said it best in her questionaire--
[quote]I think my understanding of Islam is about one inch deep and a mile wide... [/quote]
My sentiments exactly! I have SOO many thoughts on this issue! But not *one* of them could be backed up with any REAL knowledge. Their were some AMAZING Muslim philosophers out there.. these westerners couldn't TOUCH them. Imam Ghazali, Rumi, Imam Hanafi, Shafi, Hanbal, Malik..etc to name a few. These were men of knowledge. Subhan'Allah, May Allah reward their efforts. Anyways, Br. Abu Khaled, if you have more thoughts on the issue..feel free to explain, I'll stick to reading for now :)
|Re: Muslim student and Prof|
|03/14/01 at 18:49:25|
|Asalaamu Alaikum ;-)|
[quote]ps-you know how we inadvertantly make mental images of everything and everyone(through word association or whatever), even people we've never seen? Well, if someone ever asked me, "So, you know Br. Khalid?" I would immediately think:
"Yeah, he's this guy: ;-)"
Thats the mental image I get of you! haha..
Let not me disturb your mental image then Sr Nazia! ;-)
[quote]You may further notice allusions to a basic form of the teleological argument (i.e argument by design) by scholars like Imam ash-Shafi’i (ra) and his example of the mulberry tree (I think?), Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (ra) with his example about the egg, and Imam Abu Hanifah (ra) in his famous exchange with the atheist, to name but a few. [/quote]
Any chance of giving us a summary of the above three?
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