Thursday, January 04, 2007

Texas Dawah Lectures...

Br. Omar of Lotaenterprises continues to add more detailed notes from some of the best lectures at Texas Dawah.... Don't be a stranger to his blog!

A sister was kind enough to transcribe another of Yasir's lecture "Relationship between Reasons
and Revelation... jazakillahkhair:
Thank you, I enjoy reading your blogs and links to others about TDC06 lecture notes, particularly lotaenterprise and ibnhayderabadee (spelling?). I wanted to share this notes (not edited) that I have poorly recorded with screaming babies and transcripted myself by sending to yours anonymously. I hope many will benefit from it and share it with others. To Sheikh Yasir, jazzakumullahu khairan and may Allah ta'ala showers you with His protection. Ameen

anonymous - wish fathers to babysit too.

The relationship between reason and revelation – Transcript lecture by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi TDC2006

There are 4 issues mentioned on the subject of roles of reasons of revelation in Islam:

1 Why concept of reasoning?
2 What is the role the Qur’an has given that says about man’s intellect?
3 What is the purpose if intellect and why did Allah blessed man with knowledge?
4 The dangers of going into extreme on all sides?

Firstly, why are we talking about this concept of reasoning?

We are living in a new age and time, entering well within the scientific era of technological advancement in every sphere of science. There is ever increasing emphasis in intellect in every single academic in rational thoughts and less and less emphasis on religion. The average vestige of our time is spent on trust of intellect and science more than trust in any religion. The average westerners look down on spirituality and religion and even if they believe in it, it will only be on odd time like once a while, once a week or once struck with trials and it doesn’t affect them. As they firmly believe what science, what reasons and intellect ell them to believe. Therefore we are living in time where traditional values are being challenged, being re-examined. People are taking a fresh look, not just at Islam but everything. Like wise an improper understanding of the role of intellect will leads to deviation in both ways. If we say that we are blind following in a religion then a Hindu can come and say: “Just like you a blind believer in Islam, I too a blind believer in my religion. What rights have you to look down the fact that I worship a cow?” And a Christian can come and say the same thing and a Jew and an atheist too can come say the same thing and all can say “I am a believer because I have a blind faith.”
There is a line of boundary that we can come to and this is the reason of the role of intellect, and this is the purpose of this topic.

Second, now let us look at the role of aqil in the Qur’an. Aqil means intellect and reason and from the concordance of the Qur’an to present all the words with aqil used and looked at every single instance of the occurrence of the word aqil with all of it’s derivatives aqil, aqala, takqiluun and all of these derivatives. Also of words that similar to them, such as faqkarah, fakiha, alima yaklamuun, and afala tafakkaruun (why don’t you think?) and I have looked at all these verses in the Qur’an that numbers in the hundred. I have then divided these verses and put them into categories that Allah has challenged us to think. They are divided into 4 such categories that I have based upon my opinion, the purpose of aqil that Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an and illustrate in the Sunnah. Now we all know especially living in this country where many are talking about the emphasis of the intellect. We all know that Allah tells us in the Qur’an: Why don’t you think? Why don’t you ponder? (Affala yaqkiluun), We have revealed the book for people who think. So we all know that Allah challenges us to think like in

Surah al Baqarah : 219
“This is why the verse is made clear so that you can think.”

Surah al Zumar : 42
“In these creations are signs for those who think.”

Surah al Baqarah : 242
“So that you can understand and ponder

Surah al Baqarah : 164
“I have created the sun and the moon, the alternate of night and day; I sent the shift in the river; the wind with rain as miracles for those who think.”

So Allah is challenging us to think, to ponder, all of us read this but very few have looked at the context of these verses.

Who is Allah vesting in?
Who is Allah talking to?
Who is Allah asking to ponder?

I have come out about 4 categories of reasons; and people that Allah Addresses to think on specific circumstances:

1 Allah address those who do not believe that Allah is the creator in the first place i.e. atheist and agnostics or those who do not believe in One deity. Basically, Allah is addressing those who do not believe in one God, either they rejecting the God or affirming many Gods, idols worship, Hindus, pagans, animists etc. Allah challenges them to use their minds, contemplate to the conclusion that there is only one God. This is the majority of verses about; challenges us to think to those who do not affirm to the Oneness of Allah.
Of these verses: Ar- Room : 8 “Do they not ponder over the creation around them, and the heavens and the earth? Don’t they think about this? (the subjects of science, physic, biology and chemistry), don’t they see for themselves : In these are signs for those who think and contemplate.”

Likewise the prophet Ibraheem alayhis sallam when he destroyed all the idols except the largest one and placed the axe on the largest idol. When the people came and accused him and want to punish him, he gave them a speech and of what he said to them: How do you think of those idols that you worship? Woe to you and what you worship beside Allah, can’t you think, don’t you have brains, can’t you understand that these idols are destroyed and not worth of worship? So Allah is telling them to think that a cow is not worthy of worship; that an idol is not worthy of worship; that a man who was sacrificed on a cross is not worthy of worship. Use your brain to come to a conclusions that Allah and only Allah is worthy of worship. Dozens of verses of this category.

2 The second category that Allah addresses and ask us to think and ponder are those who believe in a God, believe in Allah may be but they reject the prophets and the last prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him. So the first category to affirm in One God, the second category to accept the prophet hood.

In this category, Allah challenges mankind to think, to ponder, to reflect, to contemplate, to be logical and come to the conclusion that this man was prophet of God. Dozens of verses explain this:

Al Araf : 184 “Don’t they think, don’t they ponder, there is no madness in this companion of theirs i.e. Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him, don’t they think that he is a normal sane human being.” Why he is doing what he is doing? Why he is telling you to believe in Allah? And go through so much pressure, so much hatred, what is he benefiting in this? Don’t you think and ponder?”

As Saba : 46 “Say, (announce to mankind) all I ask of you is to do one thing that you stand up for the sake of Allah and then think and ponder that this man is a normal human being, chosen as prophet of god, use your brain, read his biography, read his seerah that he is a mortal human being that Allah has raise to be a prophet of Allah.

Yunus : 16 “Say, (announce to them) if Allah had so willed, I would not have recited the Qur’an to you nor that I had any knowledge of what it is, indeed I live a life time amongst you before this, don’t you think, don’t you see.” The verse is referring to: for 40 years the prophet peace and blessings be upon him, did not do anything abnormal, living a life time amongst his people and didn’t do anything to recite the Qur’an and all of the sudden, one day he sprung up reciting the most poignant, melodious, miraculous verses, powerful message that the Arabs have ever heard. The Prophet peace and blessings be upon him asked them to think, where does this come from? I did not write anything, I was not an author, nor a learned. I lived a life time amongst you before this, don’t you think? So once again the challenge is to think and come to the conclusion that this man is the prophet of Allah.

3 The third category is addressed to the believers. There are very few of these verses for the believers but because they already believe in Allah and believe in the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him.

Al Imran : 191 Allah asks them to ponder: “The believers are those who think, who remember Allah always and they think about the creation of the heavens and the earth and they say: Oh Allah, you create all of this not in vain, not for no reason so save us from the fire”

So they use their mind and intellect to marvel at the beauty of creation around them. They marvel at natural sciences around them and increase them in imaan (faith). What does it do at the end of the day? It increases their faith, bring them closer to Allah, their spirituality goes up, they feel the connection with Allah and they feel that all of these have a purpose and they say: Oh Allah grants us Jannah (paradise) and save us from the fire.

So the purpose of intellect in this category is to see his creation around us and use them to ponder and reflect to come closer to Allah, increase in imaan. Look at the stars the sun when it rises and sets, the moon cycle. Look at the beauty of life itself. Animals, plants, that of creation of Allah: An Nahl, “This is creation of Allah, so show me where are the creator other than Allah?” Ponder over the creation and through it to increase our imaan.

4 Finally the last category is for mankind to ponder over the Qur’an and Sunnah and implement it. Ponder over the Qur’an and the Sunnah in order to implement it, to understand it and not to contradict or challenge it.

Surah Yusuf : 2 “We have revealed this Qur’an in Arabic so you can think and understand.” So Allah reveals the Qur’an in a language that every one understands, so that they can ponder, deduce rulings and commandment and worship Allah properly. Allah says: understand the Qur’an and ponder.
The instruction is to understand the Qur’an and NOT challenge it. The aqil is used to understand the Qur’an what Allah is saying and not to reject it simply because we don’t understand it. (This is said to be the opinion of Sheikh Yasir Qadhi himself and no scholars have so far come out with this opinion before, perhaps, he said: you can come out with other opinion as well on why we have been asked to think.)

What is the meaning of aqil in the Arabic language?

Aqala: To withhold and restrain, nothing to do with intelligent, that is why a camel rein is called ‘Iqal; in the hadith of Abu Bakr RA for those who did not give zakat, he said: “I will hold the ‘Iqal” i.e. to hold back the camel.

What has this to do with intelligent? This is the beauty of Arabic language. The more you study the more you’ll love the eloquence.”

A person’s aqil is called aqil because it supposed to restraint him from foolish or ridiculous act in this world that will harm him in his life and the hereafter and that is why those who go to the fire of hell are described in the Qur’an as being without aqal i.e. stupid, the qur’an described them as unintelligent and foolish because they did not have aqal. They may be able to solve quadratic equations and calculate how to send space rocket to the moon but their aqal could not even tell them the purpose of life so they are ignorant people.

In Surah al Mulk : 10, Allah says: “The people of Jahannam said: if we had aqil, we would not have been from the people of the fire.” And that is why every single person who disobeys Allah is a foolish person, stupid person literally. Allah calls the sinner foolish.

In Surah an Nisa : 92, Allah says: “Allah will accept the repentance of those who commit a sin foolishly and then they repent from Allah.”

Ibn Abbas said: “Every single person who disobeys Allah is a foolish.”

Meaning he didn’t use the brain and intellect that Allah gave him. He was foolish and stupid. That is why Allah said that He will forgive those who sin in the state of foolishness because you cannot sin in the state of intelligence. You cannot be intelligent and disobey Allah. By default when you disobey Allah you don’t really have intelligent. Have we learned the beauty of the meaning of the word aqil, every person who disobeys Allah is a jahil or an ignorant fool.

Notice here before we move on, the aqil has never been used in the Qur’an telling the believers to understand the rationalize Allah’s will, not once. Allah never asked: “Think why you have to fast, why pray?” On the contrary, Allah praises the believers first in the verse of the Qur’an by saying they believe in the unseen, they have blind faith (al Baqarah : 2). Allah did not praise the believers because they rationalized, He praises the believers for their blind faith.

What are the dangers in given aqil supremacy over the Qur’an and Sunnah? What happens when our logic leaves us to conclusion to be in opposition to the Qur’an and Sunnah? What should we do?

Logic here is meant by everything about common sense, science, ethic and entire gamut of mathematical equation on looking at into the world like modern science tells us that we are descendants of apes. Our Prophet peace and blessings be upon him told us that we are descendants of Adam and Eve. What do you do when there is a conflict between modern thoughts, ethic and philosophy, science and opposite Qur’an and Sunnah?

What and how should we resolve this?

First, we must understand that there can never be real contradiction between the Qur’an and intellect, reasons or common sense. In other words it is not possible for modern science to proof something that the Qur’an has another opinion and we have to believe this as believers and rationalize it based on common sense, in both, why so and how? Where does the Qur’an comes from? It is the Kalam of Allah i.e. the speech of Allah. What is modern science? It is the creation of Allah. If we claim there is a contradiction between the creation of Allah and speech of Allah then we are saying (nauuthoobillah) there is a problem with God himself. Look at the consequence in this. To claim that modern science proves x and Qur’an proves y and that x and y cannot meet, either this or that, what we are saying is that there is a problem with Allah himself. So as Muslim we believe, it is not possible for the Qur’an to contradict real reason, rational thought, common sense, natural science? No, that is not possible. To claim this contradiction means there is problem with the origin i.e. Allah himself and this is not acceptable.

Second, we have to realize that aqil does not have a precise limit (it is not infallible), thus reasons and logic does not have precise parameters. What might be logic to one person may be foolish to another vise-verse. In fact how many times in our lives we made decisions and thought it was the best and within a few days, weeks and months we changed our minds and proved ourselves wrong too many times. Therefore who decide what and truly logical or not? There are no precise limits. An example of this is the past Islamic group in history who claim to follow the aqil like the philosophers and the Mu’tazilah and other people of Kalam. All said our aqil is what we are going to base our religion on and yet every group reaches a conclusion other than the other group. Just look at the philosophers are segments of mankind who presume the aqil is all that you need to attain solution to everything and every single problem in life. The aqil will tell you why you are here, where are you going, what is the purpose of life. This is the basis premise of philosophers and yet we notice since the beginning of time until our time, no two philosophers have ever answered all these questions in exactly the same line. One philosopher said God does not exist, one said God is dead (auuthoobillah). One group said these are His attributes and that are not His attributes. A fourth group affirmed predestination, the 5th denied the Qadr and each of this group claim to follow aqil so this shows us that the inter-contradiction between those who claimed to be following the reason of logic is not sufficient proof that it is not a full proof criteria between reason and logic. You don’t know what is right and wrong.

Third, to claim that if there is a contradiction between reason and logic of the verses from the Qur’an, that we should give precedent to science i.e. like the theory of evolution. To say that this contradict the Qur’an and to say that Adam as some type of ape or Neanderthal type of species homo sapient or something. Say that we know that the theory of evolution is true and we cannot understand the Qur’an literally. What you are saying is that “I will not believe the scripture of Allah. I will give precedent to my intellect and reason based on science over Allah’s command and this goes against the very essence of servitude. As it was in the first verse of the Qur’an: “This is a book for those who believe in the unseen”

Fourth, the fourth point talks about when there is a contradiction between reason and intellect. Supposed that there was a contradiction between reason of intellect and the Qur’an, theoretically then ask a question. Should we follow the intellect or the Qur’an? Common sense will tell us to use our intellect to follow the Qur’an. Common sense, reason and intellect tell us to follow the Qur’an and reject reasoning. And this is not a contradictory at all. Reason and intellect leads us to a conclusion that there is one God and that the Prophet is one of the prophets of Allah, and the Qur’an is the book of Allah and this is achieved through reasons and intellect. After we have come to this conclusion, then blind faith will succinct.

So when someone asks, are you a blind believer? Yes I am a blind believer based upon rationality. Yes, reason leads you to a conclusion that the Qur’an is the book of Allah. Once you have come to that conclusion, your mind ceases to function, to challenge that text. It’s only function now is to understand the text and work on how to implement it. When you do not believe, the Qur’an challenges you to believe and once you believe in the creator and His messenger the purposes of the mind changes from not to not believe in Allah and His messenger but “to understand” the text that Allah revealed. So supposed, now you find some contradiction between the Qur’an and modern science, between the Qur’an and reasons, reason and common sense tell you to reject your common sense and follow guidance instead. An example was given by Ibn Taymiyah in a similitude, supposed you go to a town, walk into it’s people and you are from some where else wanting to find out about a fatwa (ruling) and you don’t know anyone. You then asked somebody, brother A to point you to a scholar who pointed you to a Sheikh. The Sheikh gave his fatwa and brother A came back and say, “The Sheikh was wrong and I am right and that you must listen to me because I am the one who told you about the Sheikh so I am more knowledgeable that him.” The brother A has contradicted himself by showing you to the Sheikh first. His testimony is now not valid.

Thus the last point gives emphasis on:

The evil implication by saying that the Qur’an and Sunnah contradict common sense, reasons and aqil, and that we should follow aqil instead. You are saying the Qur’an and Sunnah are not divine, they are not real thing. You are saying the prophet did not complete this religion and leaving us with confused religion: A religion that goes against the logic of science. Allah gave us mind and intellect and then gave us book that contradicts our aqil that goes against the mind. You are basically saying anyone can come and change the Qur’an and Sunnah as they see fit and as they wish. History tell us our study of intellectual history of group of philosopher Ibn Sinna, Ibn Rush that they believe in all in common sense and said they can be no Day of Judgment. My aqil tells me God cannot resurrect the dead (Ibn Sinna said this), thus he rejected verses of the Qur’an that talk about resurrection and said it’s just metaphor. Ibn Arabi said these are fables of desert people, there’s no such thing as real Jannah because his aqil tells him to do so. The point is who decide which is aqil and which is isn’t?

What are the roles of aqil?

Aqil is a sense, it is an organ and many people do not realize this. It is faculty that Allah has bless us with and has a function and has its limit, like eyes, ears, nose and taste buds are all faculties and they are infallible. We see a mirage in a desert and we think it is water and it is not. Our vision tells us something that can be false. So our faculties can be at fault and are not infallible. Like we cannot see in the dark and it does not mean objects are not there or we cannot see beyond this room. Similarly our aqil has its limit. The problem is there is no criterion for us to decide what those limits are, what the physical tangible are and when it comes to aqil, how do we set the limits? Where does it stop short at being acceptable or not right of foolish?

The answer is there is no criterion for judgment i.e. it is not physical. This is the main problem why of philosophers fell into and scientists rationalize has gone to extreme. They don’t have limit to aqil because he cant’ see it unlike seeing, tasting and smelling and we know the limit but not in aqil. So aqil is not infallible, like we tend to forget and made mistakes and thought we were right when we did it.

It is an organ that Allah blesses us different from the animals in order for us to worship Allah in a prescribed way.

It is an organ used to corroborate, work together, aid, help, solidify and strengthen and not meant to contradict what is in the Qur’an and Sunnah but rather helps to understand it.

Allah is the one who has given us intellect and He is the one who reveals the scriptures and the sign of Islam is that the intellect should correspond to scripture. Not that the intellect is greater than the scripture, no, but that the intellect and scripture match one another.

The intellect will never be able to understand all that is in the scripture but at the same time there will be never be a contradiction between the intellect and scripture.

Conclusions by Ahlil Sunnah of the past:

Abu Mudhaffar As Sam’aanee RaheemuAllah said:

The deciding factors that separate us Sunni Muslim from all the other Muslims, seculars and numerous others is the issue of the intellect. For they have built their religion from what they presumed as based on intellect:

Modern man, western society has built it ethics, morality, philosopher of life, secularism, democracy, humanism, freedom on what they considered to be best. They have made all others to be subservient to all these what they considered to best.

Whereas true Muslims the Ahlil Sunnah, they based their obedience to Allah and His Messenger and the intellect follows that.

Abu Mudhaffar said over one thousand years ago: “For have the basis of religion in the intellect alone, men would not have any need of inspiration from the books or the prophets and they would have no need for commandments of prohibitions from Allah and every human being would have only be left to his intellect alone. For the very fact that Allah sent books and prophets shows us that our intellect cannot ultimately guide us straight, thus aqil has a role to differentiate between real and false prophets, this is divine and that is not. Once the aqil has chose that and get to that conclusion its role ceases to be questioned but to accept”

Abu Mudhaffar concludes that: “as for these people if they were to say “la illaha illallah”, my aqil is the rasool of Allah, they will not be far from the truth”

The purpose of aqil is for us Muslims to understand the message of Islam, to come closer to Allah, to increase our imaan. The aqil was never meant to take the place of the command of Qur’an and the Sunnah.

May Allah give us the intelligent and imaan put together to be real Muslims.

(transcript taken from the recorded lecture at TDC2006)