Saturday, March 16, 2013

Table of Contents

I am now running a couple blogging sites devoted to information on Islam. You are reading Ma'rifah, which is devoted to knowledge and spirituality. The other is Difa'a which is a collection of debates and arguments in defense of Islam from popular attacks.

There is an important new update under the "STRONG" section. Click here to be taken directly to it.

These are split up by category (sound, strong, and weak), then sorted chronologically in original posted order.

Click here for a list of good audio lectures and speeches I've come across.

Category: SOUND - This means these mostly either cite or quote material from major and very senior Islamic scholars with minimal meddling from me, other than some comments and a paraphrase here or there. A couple are written by me, such as summaries, but are in article form and are based on the work of a specifically cited scholar and accepted Islamic interpretation from the four Sunni madhabs (containing no interpretation from me on anything).

03/13 Imam al-Ghazali's Faysal al-Tafriqa Bayna al-Islam wa al-Zandaqa - NEW
12/12 Teaching Islamic Knowledge
04/11 Levels of Jurists and How Fatawa Are Made
03/11 The Theologus Autodidactus of Ibn al-Nafis
04/10 The Life of Malcolm X by Imam Siraj Wahaj
04/10 The Beauty of Knowledge And How It Enlivens The Heart
04/10 Sin Leads to More Sin
04/10 "The Goodly Life"
06/09 Chart of Tasawwuf
06/09 Meeting of Imam Malik (ra) and Imam Abu Hanifa (ra)
05/09 An Exposition of The Hearts: Part 2
03/09 An Exposition of The Hearts: Part 1
01/09 The Predicament of Our Times
01/09 Shirk
01/09 The Day of Judgement and the Hereafter
08/08 The Reality of Truthfulness (Sidq)
07/08 Laughing, Crying & Dealing with Love & Rumi's Vaakiya of the Pearl
07/08 Failure & Shaitan's Deceit & Spiritual Advice
06/08 Simple Prescriptions & A Curriculum for Regular Muslims
06/08 Knowledge & Sins & The Disease of Idiots
06/08 What is Dunya? & The Cure for Depression
06/08 Giving Up Sins: An Easy Prescription
05/08 Quotes: A Lot
05/08 Some Islamic Principles of Living
05/08 Muslims, Friends, Non-Muslims
05/08 Tasawwuf Resources
05/08 Two Acts to Become a Saint
04/08 The Pearls, The Golden Box, The Emptiness In The Heart
04/08 Turning Away From Pointless Talk, Good Character, The Hours of Life, The Reproachful Self
04/08 Quotes: Precious Words Of Wisdom
04/08 Friends Who Desire Only Pleasure, The Love of Two Days, Signposts on Seekers Highway
04/08 Dua When Something is Lost
04/08 Quotes: Rumi & Freud (and more)
03/08 Obeying the Prophet (saw) & More Quotes
03/08 Ten Ways To Increase Love of Allah
03/08 Random Anecdotes (Hadiths, Quotes, Stories)
01/08 More Quotes
01/08 Revival of Islam, Beginning with South Asia
12/07 Ahkam (Commands of Allah)
11/07 Death Part II: Judgement Day and the Afterlife
11/07 Signs of the Hypocrites (al-Munafiqin)
11/07 Death
11/07 The Formation of the Sects
11/07 The Origin of the Five Prayers
11/07 Enjoining Right and Forbidding Wrong
10/07 Tasawuf
10/07 Anecdotes and Quotes of Maulana Thanawi (RA)
10/07 Stories of the Sahaba
10/07 Stories of the Qur'an - Dhul-Qarnayn (as) & Luqman (as)
10/07 Recommended Books
10/07 Other Revealed Scriptures, My Favorite Hadith
10/07 The Qur'an
10/07 The Sahaba
10/07 Quotes
10/07 Stories of Sahabi Women
10/07 Quotes
10/07 Stories of the Sahaba (Long)
10/07 Finding the Right Path in the End Times
10/07 Save Yourself From Being Accused of Sin
10/07 Love
10/07 Sins and their Effects
10/07 Islamic Obligation in How to Treat Others
09/07 Doing Everything For Allah's Sake
09/07 Rumi on Love
09/07 Following the Sunnah of Dress
09/07 Protect Your Glances
09/07 The branch of Deen dealing with Social living
09/07 Stories of the Sahaba - 'Umar (ra)
09/07 The Self/Ego/Nafs and Self-Reformation
09/07 Law and Order in ex-Imperial lands like Pakistan
09/07 The Lightest Punishment of Hell
09/07 Fear of Allah
09/07 Sinning is like an Itch
09/07 Quotes
09/07 The Molvi and the Madrassah
09/07 The Ummah's Grassroots Revival
09/07 Stories of the Pious Predecessors - Abdullah bin Mubarak (ra)
09/07 Contentment
09/07 Quotes
08/07 Quotes re: America
05/07 Quotes 3
04/07 Quotes 2
03/07 Quotes
03/07 Rumi - Vaakiyas
02/07 Jihad vs. Terrorism
02/07 Rumi on Friendship
01/07 The Soul in Islam
01/07 Spiritual Intelligence (Spirituality)
12/06 Testimony of Women in Islam
04/06 Tasawuf (Islamic Mysticism)

These contain, as of now and for the most part, content from various forum and bulletin board posts and e-mail/IM conversations of mine. The tone and speech of everything is typical of that informal atmosphere.

Category: STRONG - These are authored by me, are generally in ordered form like that of an article or editorial, and are based off accepted, sound, interpretation from the four Sunni madhabs, very basic Sunni 'aqeedah (Maturidi/Ashari), and the bits on tasawuf conform to the above and to general, very basic principles held in common by all Sufi tariqas, especially the four accepted by Sunnis today (Qadiriya, Chistiya, Suharwardiya, Naqshbandiya). The additional criteria by which I distinguished this from the 'Weak' category is the ability to be defended. If you would like a 'proof', explanation, or defense linking anything here to the above Islamic principles, feel free to ask.

09/12 Islamic Theology and Philosophy of Science - NEW
02/12 What hold do Djinnat have over Mankind? - NEW
02/12 Adam, Iblis, and Evolution - NEW
07/08 The Internet
10/07 Kufr and Avoiding Becoming a Kafir
09/07 Hardships vs. Blessings, Preaching Islam
09/07 Prayers Throughout Life
08/07 Islam and Economics, Interest, Capitalism
04/07 Islam, Iman, and Ihsan
03/07 Children (definitive)
03/07 Love
03/07 The Mythical "Moderates" within Islam

Category: WEAK - These don't even deserve explanation. Consider them to be just opinions of mine. Typical blog posts in some cases. Some aren't even coherent (random notes jotted down which were to later be elaborated upon but never were). Some are quite well organized and written but since they're based on either esoteric content or some of my own interpretation, even if in line with what I think are Sunni guidelines, they can't be worth more than my own opinions. That said, I can still provide any explanation or clearing up if anyone would like, just ask.

02/13 The New Jabriyyah - NEW
12/12 The Abortion Debate in The West - NEW
03/08 Ali Shariati's "Expectations from the Muslim Woman"
10/07 Samurai Jack interpreted Islamically


Shaykh Mufti Kamaluddin Ahmed - Controlling One's Desires (Part 1, Part 2)
Imam Siraj Wahaj - Ways to Paradise
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Men & Women (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7)
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Wake Up Before You Die
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - The Dangers of Heedlessness
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - In The Footsteps of the Prophet (saw)
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Be Good People! (excerpt)
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Islam and Women (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)
Imam Siraj Wahaj - When Will You Lower Your Gaze? (excerpt)
Imam Siraj Wahaj - Sex Outside Marriage: Will You Ever Be Satisfied? (excerpt)
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Pathetic Virtual Sex, Pornography
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - The Effects of Fornication
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Mind Control, Brainwashing, Pornography, Hollywood
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Pharoah: Seperation of Religion & State
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Upholding Faith, Serving Humanity (ISNA 2007)
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - BBC Interview about Jihad
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Western Muslims: Issues & Concerns (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - A Message To Humanity (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - Lecture at RIS 5
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf - What is the Dunya? (Part 1, Part 2)

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Imam al-Ghazali's Faysal al-Tafriqa Bayna al-Islam wa al-Zandaqa

Category: SOUND

The title is translated into English as: The Decisive Criterion for Distinguishing Islam from Masked Infidelity.

The English translation of the book is from On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abu Hamid al Ghazali's Faysal al Tafriqa (Studies in Islamic Philosophy) by Dr. Sherman A Jackson (also known as Abdul Hakim Jackson).

Download Link: Click here for PDF

Abu Hamid al Ghazali, one of the most famous intellectuals in the history of Islam, developed a definition of Unbelief (kufr) to serve as the basis for determining who, in theological terms, should be considered a Muslim and who should not. Jackson's annotated translation is preceded by an introduction that reconstructs the historical and theoretical context of the Faysal and discusses its relevance for contemporary thought and practice.
It is composed of a somewhat lengthy introduction by Dr. Jackson followed by the translation. Here are some of my thoughts on Dr. Jackson's commentary, to be followed later by any notes on the work itself:

  • He says Al-Ghazali didn't go into his criticism of the Neoplatonists here. That's because he did that in Tahafut Al-Falasifah (Incoherence of the Philosophers).

  • He says the Qur'an is not a book of logic and doesn't tell us "how" to reason. Al-Ghazali derived the basic rules of syllogism from the Qur'an in Al-Qistas Al-Mustaqim (The Just Balance).

  • I would not trust anything written about the four Imams of fiqh from Western sources without verifying the claims yourself, including an Islamic scholar like Dr. Jackson because far too many works are either falsely attributed to or falsely disassociated from these 'ulema in the Western tradition and it is too easy to get caught up in these mistakes in Western academia.

  • The first 18-19 pages of the intro are good, then Dr. Jackson's own biases kind of bleed through. He is a Maliki in fiqh but he seems to be partial to Athari/Hanbali 'aqeedah, going so far as to reach over to Christian theology for some ideas which were totally unnecessary to bring into the book (though he does acknowledge they are antithetical to Islam) for the purposes of showing how anthropomorphism can be rational.

  • His discussion on tradition is insightful but unnecessary. Tradition can be reduced into terms of reason by thinking of it as the process of preserving a paradigm of thought (in a very Kuhnian manner), or preserving a living tradition of thought. This involves transmission and his definition of tradition, but not one without the other, as the goal is to preserve a living tradition (sort of like how we preserved the Sunnah, the living practice of the Qur'an). This is reflected in my book in the discussion of the madhahib and taqlid.

  • The criticism of the scholarly community in the section on Al-Ghazali's life is very well written and full of profound insight into today's affairs, which are a reverse of that era.

    He quotes Imam al-Ghazali,
    "How many towns are there that are devoid of Muslim doctors, while it is not permissible to accept the expert testimony of non-Muslims in cases involving the religious law. Yet, we do not see anyone devoting himself to the study of medicine. Instead, they fall over each other in pursuit of jurisprudence, especially dialectics and the art of disputation, despite the fact that there is an abundance of jurists who can issue legal opinions and address the issues of the day. I wish I knew how the jurists could sanction the undertaking of communal obligations that are already being met to the neglect of communal obligations that are not being met. Is there any reason for this other than the fact that the study of medicine does not provide easy access to executorships of religious endowments, bequests and estates of orphans or to judgeships, government positions, superiority over one's peers and power over one's enemies?"
    While some might be eager to use these as arguments against scholarly tradition, they ought to be reminded that this particular academic tradition in Baghdad met an untimely end at the hands of the Mongols. God's wrath was already felt upon Baghdad and all those that Al-Ghazali had to deal with. The 'ulema of today are a great deal more influenced by Al-Ghazali than the pre-Al-Ghazali tradition. And conversely, Western orientalists had often lamented this, because they thought Al-Ghazali brought down the level of intellectual debate by discouraging debate (on the other hand, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy sees Al-Ghazali as ushering in a Golden Age of Islamic Philosophy by making logic part of the curriculum at madaris or seminaries). Yet they could only agree with the sentiment expressed above, and elsewhere in Al-Ghazali's works, that empirical work in the health and physical/natural sciences was a communal obligation no longer being fulfilled.

  • A fair bit of this is focused on a principle I have repeatedly brought up. The difference between a person's views and the logical consequences of those views. A person might have a set of beliefs which, taken to their logical extreme, necessitate a belief in flying dolphins... without actually believing in flying dolphins. So to attribute to such a person a belief in flying dolphins is incorrect, so care must be taken in drawing this line when criticizing the views of another. In terms of their beliefs in the moment, the theologians of the various sects, including some of the heretics, were mostly on the same page (i.e, their 'aqeedah). It is only in their statements of rationalization of their beliefs (more akin to theology) where differences arose because these different ways of stating the beliefs, when taken to their logical consequences/extremes, wound up in very different places, even kufr. Yet kufr was not an applicable label for the adherents because they were not guilty of believing in those resulting doctrines, they were just guilty of holding illogical or logically inconsistent views, so the issue here is the correction of logic or statement of belief moreso than a correction of belief, particularly on difficult subjects like the Divine Attributes which could be approached from any number of directions. This is something much more discernible in modern scholarship but not so much in Al-Ghazali's time.

  • The introduction closes on a very strong note by sticking to a discussion of Al-Ghazali's views, which is a worthwhile read for anyone.
  • Thursday, February 28, 2013

    The New Jabriyyah

    Those whom I have taken to calling "neo-Jabriyyah" or "crypto-Jabriyyah":

    Those who perpetrate questionable acts on the justification that Allah's Divine Decree (al-Qadr), or plan for creation, cannot be violated anyway. Implying but not stating outright (hence the prefix crypto-) that it thus absolves them of responsibility for their actions since the consequences are determined by Allah.

    For example, chasing away potential converts on the pretext that if Allah chooses to guide them, then none can lead them astray.

    This can be consistently or inconsistently applied. For another example which appears to contradict itself on the surface, aiming to achieve short term ends by using "the ends justify the means" logic while disregarding long term ends or vice-versa (focusing on long term ends at the expense of short term consequences). Either way, the set of ignored consequences, regardless of how arbitrarily they are chosen, are always ignored on the pretext of fatalism.

    Neo-Jabriyyah would be those who openly harbor such beliefs but could also refer to those who hide them (crypto-Jabriyyah). One can observe a degree of this strain of thought running as an undercurrent in much extremist philosophy.

    The original Jabriyyah were the school of Jahm ibn Safwan. They were influenced by pantheistic/atheistic/humanistic schools of Hindu philosophy (Sumaniya and Ajivikas). His followers eventually became deniers of the divine attributes and outright pantheists known as the Jahmiyyah. Jahm learned from his teacher, Ja'd ibn Durham, who invented the doctrine of the createdness of the Qur'an, which the Mu'tazilah later adopted. Some of them also adopted Neoplatonism in their pantheist theology.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    The Abortion Debate in The West

    Category: WEAK

    In Islam we have it as a matter of doctrine that the soul does not enter the fetus until 120 days, so abortions before this, though not indulged in for petty reasons, are not considered to be "murder" as they would to a modern day conservative Christian.

    There's also the other point, that we don't automatically rule on the value of the fetus' life over the mother's, even if we're talking about a possible late-term abortion. It's justifiable to save the mother's life if it is threatened. A jurist could make such a ruling.

    What I wanted to point out was in regards to the first point.

    Some scholars have concluded that early Christians took a nuanced stance on what is now called abortion, and that at different and in separate places early Christians have taken different stances.[8][9][10] Other scholars have concluded that early Christians considered abortion a sin at all stages; though there is disagreement over their thoughts on what type of sin it was[11][12][13][14] and how grave a sin it was held to be, it was seen as at least as grave as sexual immorality.[11][13] Some early Christians believed that the embryo did not have a soul from conception,[15][16][8][17] and consequently opinion was divided as to whether early abortion was murder or ethically equivalent to murder.[18][14]

    Augustine affirmed Aristotle's concepts of ensoulment occurring some time after conception, after which point abortion was to be considered homicide,[19] while still maintaining the condemnation of abortion at any time from conception onward.[20] Aquinas reiterated Aristotle's views of successive souls: vegetative, animal, and rational. This would be the Catholic Church's position until 1869, when the limitation of automatic excommunication to abortion of a formed fetus was removed, a change that has been interpreted as an implicit declaration that conception was the moment of ensoulment.[15] Consequently, in the Middle Ages, a less severe penance was imposed for the sin of abortion "before [the foetus] has life".[21]
    Christianity did not have a doctrinal position on the exact time of "ensoulment", so earlier Christian scholars inherited philosophy on the matter from Aristotle and others. This was a point on which the debate pivoted for quite some time until the 19th century when the Catholic Church decided to default it to conception.

    The theological issues aside (What was the justification? Were the earlier Popes wrong?), there is a metaphysical point to be made. The idea that life begins at conception is a very materialistic one (in the sense of metaphysical materialism). As Western culture moved to such materialism (and also away from Judeo-Christian tradition), the Catholic Church seems to have moved right along with everyone else. Christians, who should believe in a soul, now don't even bring it up at all in the debate. All they are concerned with is the physical, the material: the zygote. Their blind adherence to this doctrine (which, from all indications, seems arbitrarily concocted by the Catholic Church in the 19th century) is a manifestation of this extreme materialism. Perhaps we can give the Catholics a pass, because they must follow the Church without question. But the Protestants have no excuse, their reasoning is purely materialistic (unsurprising in the context of their other positions on social issues which represent Ayn Rand more than Jesus Christ).

    Just one of the consequences of the old clashing with the modern shift in philosophical outlook. Though metaphysical materialism is certainly an extreme by religious standards, it has had its upside (the increased focus on the worldly life makes people work to make it better... but when done in this way it comes at the expense of concern for the next life).

    Regarding the materialistic answer to the question of when exactly can we consider a fetus to be alive

    It's also not so simple to call a zygote not "alive", because people will take issue with that definition of "alive". If left alone in a womb, it will continue growing. Cells can be alive, they can die. We certainly know what a dead cell looks and behaves like, so it stands to reason the opposite is life.

    I think the materialistic debate really comes down to a question beyond materialism: utilitarian ethics. Yes, an embryo/fetus, when left alone, can grow into a person, can be born, can grow up, can contribute much to society and their own fulfillment. But those are a lot of "cans". The mother is in the here and now, she's already a living, breathing adult with all the attributes of sentience, plus a safe and early abortion (that can be facilitated with the law on her side) allows her to have another child (or more) soon again whereas the risks with the fetus are a lot more. The life of the mother is clearly more valuable to society under the typical circumstances.

    In a way, I find the debate kind of ironic because it's kind of a flip of the evolutionary origin of man debate. Darwinian evolution proponents ("scientism", not necessarily atheists, scientists, or anyone who already believes in the evolutionary origin but those who put such an emphasis on it so as to behave downright theologically in their treatment of evolution... cue: evolutionary psychology and other similar pseudoscience) will adhere to a materialism similar to the sort that the Christian conservatives strongly hold to on the issue of life beginning at conception. On the other hand, the arguments expressing skepticism (not necessarily opposition) of the meaningfulness or relevance of evolution to the issue of man's origins tend to take a similar route through ontology as in the objections to the "life begins at conception" position (regarding what it means to be a person and how to distinguish that while limiting arbitrariness).

    Teaching Islamic Knowledge

    Category: SOUND

    Imam Bukhari (rahmatullahi 'alaih) narrates from Hadhrat 'ALI (radhiyallahu 'anhu) who said: "Narrate to the people that which they are acquainted with. Would you like that Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'ala and His Messenger Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam be rejected?" Adam ibn Abi Ilyas adds the words: "and leave out what they do not know" to this Hadith.

    The meaning of "that which they are acquainted with" is that which they understand. And the meaning of "what they do not know" is that whose understanding causes them confusion. As for the words: "Would you like that Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'ala and His Messenger Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam be rejected?" - this means that if a person hears something that he does not understand and which he does not conceive to be possible, he will believe it to be impossible out of ignorance. He will therefore not believe in its existence. Then if something of this nature is reported from Rasulullah Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, he will necessarily reject it. And rejecting the words of Rasulullah Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam entails rejecting Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'ala.

    Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (rahmatullahi 'alaih) says: "In this Hadith there is proof that something is confusing should not be mentioned before the masses. Similar is the opinion of the Hadhrat IBN MAS'UD (radhiyallahu 'anhu) when he says: 'No sooner you relate a Hadith to a people who cannot fathom it, it becomes a source of distress and tribulation for some of them.' (Narrated by Muslim in the introduction to his Sahih, vol. 1 p. 76)

    "Among those who disliked narrating certain Traditions to the exclusion of others are: (1) Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahmatullahi 'alaih) with regard to the Traditions which outwardly show going against the leader, (2) Imam Malik (rahmatullahi 'alaih) with regard to the Traditions that mention the attributes [of Allah], i.e. those that outwardly portray similarity [to human attributes], (3) Imam Abu Yusuf (rahmatullahi 'alaih) with regard to Traditions in which particular words are mentioned (Gharibul Hadith), (4) The Sahabah/Companions ABU HURAYRAH, HUDHAYFAH (radhiyallahu 'anhumaa) and others who came before the previous three Imams also hold the same view."

    "The general rule is that if a Hadith apparently supports an innovation, when its actual import is something else, then it is desirable to hold back such a Hadith from a person of whom it is feared that he may act on its outward meaning. And Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'ala Knows best. (Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar (rahmatullahi 'alaih), Fath al-Bari, vol. 1 p. 225)
    Bukhari and Muslim narrate on the authority of Anas Bin Malik Radhiyallahu 'anhu who said: Rasulullah Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam was on his camel and Mu'adh Bin Jabal Radhiyallahu 'anhu was sitting directly behind him. [Rasulullah Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam said to him] O Mu'adh! He replied: Here I am, O Rasulullah and I am pleased to be with you. Rasulullah Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: O Mu'adh! He replied: Here I am, O Rasulullah and I am pleased to be with you. Rasulullah Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: O Mu'adh! He replied: Here I am, O Rasulullah and I am pleased to be with you.

    Rasulullah Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: "When a person sincerely testifies that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger, Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'ala makes him forbidden to the fire." [Mu'adh] said: "Should I not inform the people about this so that they may take glad tiding from this?" He replied: "No. Because if you do so, they will become lax." Mu'adh Radhiyallahu 'anhu eventually informed the people about this at the time of death fearing that if he didn't inform them, he would be committing a sin [of concealing knowledge].
    Hafith Ibn Rajab says: "The 'ulamaa' say: 'It can be derived from this prohibition to Mu'adh Radhiyallahu 'anhu that he should not convey these glad-tidings lest the people become lax, that Traditions which contain concessions should not be mentioned openly among the masses so that they do not misunderstand the actual import of them. Mu'adh Radhiyallahu 'anhu heard such Traditions but these only served to increase his efforts in doing good deeds and in fearing Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'a'a. As for he who has not reached his rank, it is not far-fetched that he may become lax after relying on the outward meaning of this Hadith." ('Allama Shabbir Ahmad al-'Usmani, Fathul Mulhim, vol. 1, p.588)

    Source: Excerpt from the book, Prophet Muhammad (saw) - The Teacher and his teaching methodologies by Shaikh Abdul-Fattah Abu Ghuddah (ra)

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Islamic Theology and Philosophy of Science

    Category: STRONG

    I've been working on this book about Islamic theology (orthodox specifically) during my free time the past two years and how it relates to philosophy of science, especially in recent times. It's a draft and a work in progress but I've run out of free time until probably 2013 or maybe even beyond so I'm putting up what I have so far. That's why it cuts off abruptly, I excised the unfinished parts.

    It includes a little commentary on the previously mentioned Theologus Autodidactus and Philosophus Autodidactus.

    Click here:

    It includes a bit of discourse on theology, history of theology, and finally the more philosophical matters in theology and how it relates to science (including contrasting Islamic theology with Enlightenment era and later European/Western philosophy).

    Please keep in mind this is a draft. I've said most of what I initially wanted to but it could use a good rewrite for readability in the future, especially some of the more complicated sections on science or philosophy where my strategy was to repeat the same thing in several ways hoping at least one way "clicks" for the reader. The final version, should I ever get time to complete it, could wind up very different but I feel there's some usefulness for Muslims with questions about these very matters. I won't put this in the "SOUND" section until I get a full overview by a scholar. I've had one read through most of the metaphysics bits and approve (I took very few liberties except in explaining the traditional, conservative, orthodox stance). The only issue of question is the stuff at the very end regarding discussion of the attributes of Allah, an extremely controversial subject, so I cut that out entirely until I finish it and a scholar looks at it first. I make a little mention of the subject in what is still left in and it might appear unorthodox because I use some arguments used by other theological sects at one time and now defunct, but they're essentially saying the same thing as the orthodox theologians. The wording might be easier for people to understand now in our times (whereas it was discounted for the opposite reason in its time). This is because the environment or situation that existed at that time doesn't exist today (competing theological sects within Islam... the orthodox Ash'ari/Maturidi have won out overwhelmingly and won't be challenged again). So, the issue isn't of meaning, since I intended to convey the orthodox position on all accounts, just of language.

    Feel free to respond here in the comments section with questions or more preferably, e-mail and I'll try to answer questions as I get time.

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    What hold do djinnat have over mankind?

    This is a follow up post to this one,

    The above should be read first. One can also browse some of the quotes on various articles on djinn that come up when using Google, such as Wikipedia's article (though these are subject to change).

    I've heard scholars limit what can be physically attributed to them and say they can merely make suggestions, even visual suggestions, in the form of dreamlike thoughts (or hallucinations). That when they physically appear to us, it's due to their inserting of a hallucination in our mind and not their actual physical appearance. Allah knows best. Most Muslims are predisposed to the simple understanding that they can do either or.

    I have also heard it likened to the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation where a machine uses magnetic fields to induce weak electric currents which can alter the function of parts of the brain. The effects of this machine are known and documented.

    How do the djinn do it? Pretty much the same way though without the need to use magnetic fields, they're beings of energy who can directly manipulate. The manifestation of this is, again, usually through thermal conduction, especially in the bloodstream. The Ma'ariful Qur'an commentary says,

    He said, "Then give me respite until a day when all will be resurrected." He (Allah) said, "Respite is given to you." He said, "Then as You have made me go astray, I swear that I will sit for them (in ambush) on Your straight path. Then I will come upon them from in front of them and from behind them and from their right and from their left. And you will not find most of them grateful."(7:15-17)

    What made Iblis speak the way he did before Allah?

    The place where Iblis dared to speak was in the Most August conceivable Presence of the Master of all Honour where the awe and majesty of the occasion would not allow even angels and prophets and messengers to breathe. How did he do that? 'Ulama say that this was a sombre and highly cutting manifestation of the Divine wrath that, because of the rejection of Iblis, his view was so obstructed that he became blind to the grandeur and awe of Allah Ta'ala and irreverence came down to settle on him all over. (Abridged from Bayan al-Qur'an)

    The Assault of Shaytan is Multi-Dimensional, not simply Four-Sided

    In the present verse (17), Iblis is said to have identified four sides from which he planned to mislead the children of 'Adam, that is, the front, the rear and the right and the left. But, the purpose here is not to set up any limits. Instead, the sense is that this will be from all sides and directions. Therefore, the probability of his leading people astray from above and beneath the feet does not contradict it. Similarly, the saying of the Hadith that - Shaytan can enter the human body and move through the arteries and veins of blood and take command of the whole body - is also not contradictory to this.

    The hadith in question says that Shaytan circulates in the human mind as blood circulates in it.

    Other common manifestations of djinn "interference" (usually not the modus operandi of Shaytan though who is concerned with making people do evil, not disable them) include seizures which are defined as transient symptoms of "abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain" (Wikipedia). In other words, disruption across a large portion of the brain of its neuronal activity.

    What defense do humans have from djinn? Allah Himself it seems though we do not know if this is by means of some hidden mechanisms or His direct action. The former is not unreasonable considering the creation of Allah is usually ordered in some logical manner. All we can do is invoke Allah (the best way of which would be reciting the Qur'an and referring to scholars with experience in the matter who can advise on how best to mount this defense).

    Determined djinn, according to Islamic tradition, can be very dangerous and hard to stop. They can simply circumvent a person's recitations or depictions of Qur'anic verses because they can approach, as mentioned, in a multidimensional manner. A person might put up a prayer or verses of the Qur'an on a door to "ward off" djinns, and it works most of the time. But if one becomes inordinately determined (not common, not in their nature to care so much) it can simply come straight through the cracks or under the door or over it or around the sides even while physically manifesting itself in some way. This is, however, extremely rare (in regards to numerous paranoid superstitions where people believe the slightest medical problem is being caused by djinn).

    More often the djinn, especially the Shayateen, see the world as a one big non-stop party. Whatever activities humans are engaging in for pleasure, a djinn would want to "ride along" to feel the thrill. Sexual intercourse is an important example of such a situation. Allah has guarded the sexual relations of a husband and wife who invoke Him (not during the act obviously when in an impure state but before beginning). As for the rest of the people, djinns can seamlessly jump in and out usually without leaving a trace albeit likely affecting the mind in some subtle manner. In a divinely sanctioned union (marriage) between two people there is a synchronization of spiritual meaning behind the act and the biological mechanism (neurotransmitter and hormone release) which manifests as psychological/emotional connectedness. This process can become upset or skewed in any number of ways.