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)

[ Back to top ]

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.