Archive for the ‘Logic’ Category

What does Zikr mean?

Monday, July 6th, 2015

God has vowed to preserve the Quran Himself. He says, most emphatically, in verse 15:9,
“Verily, it is We who sent down the Zikr and verily, We surely shall be of it Preservers.” (15:9)

The word Zikr (with a fricative Z as in this or that) means mention, remembrance or reminder. The syntax and context are what determines which semantic is meant. The scholars have been unanimous that the Zikr mentioned in 15:9 is the Quran. What they did not agree on is whether it is only the Quran. The reason they thought other items may be included in the Zikr in 15:9 is the apparent implication of other verses. For instance,
“And We sent down to you the Reminder that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might reflect.” (16:44).

In this verse, if the Zikr is only the Quran, then what is “what was sent down to them”? Isn’t that the Quran also? That is why many scholars have opined that the Zikr here refers to the Hadeeth.

But if the Zikr includes the Hadeeth, then it too must have been preserved by God. While the strict Muslims take that position, historical evidence begs otherwise. While the Quran was written down before the death of the Prophet (PBUH), and committed to memory by thousands of people, the Hadeeth was not written down for two hundred years after the Prophet’s death. It was only then that the Hadeeth was meticulously authenticated and less than one in ten narrations have been found to be authentic. This means that the Hadeeths evaluated as authentic can be relied on in matters of the religion, but it also means that the Hadeeth was not preserved, or else it would not have required such massive effort to authenticate.

Therefore, I respectfully disagree that the Zikr refers to the Hadeeth, or includes it. So, how can we explain 16:44?

The key to understand 16:44 is to notice the word “people” in it. People include non-Muslims! Thus, what this verse is saying is that one of the functions of the Quran is to clarify to non-Muslims the scriptures which were sent to them, e.g., the Torah and the Gospel.

This conclusion is backed up by a later verse in the same Chapter,
“By God, We did certainly send [messengers] to communities before you [, O Muhammad], then Satan embellished for them their works, so he is their ally Today and for them is a painful torment.

And We have not sent down upon you the Book [, O Muhammad], but so that you may clarify to them what they differed about and as guidance and mercy for a folk who believe.” (16:63-64)

16:63 makes it clear that the pronoun “them” in 16:64 refers to followers of prior scriptures.

A reader may jump in here and quote,
“And We certainly did write in the Zaboor (Psalms), after the Remembrance (Torah), that the land – shall inherit it My righteous worshipers.” (23:105)
and argue that the Torah has been described as the Zikr. It was. But then, it was humanly altered thus it ceased to be Zikr. Only the original, pure revelation from God qualify as Zikr. The only scripture that God has vowed to preserve Himself is the Quran.

The Grace of gradual revelation

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The style of the revelation of the Quran was gradual, over a period of 23 years. A command would initially be revealed in much general terms. This was done to ease Muslims into the new Divine regulations. When the initial command is absorbed by Muslims, God followed it with more details about it, such as how to implement it properly. Many scholars thought that subsequent commands were abrogation of the initial command! But that is incorrect, since abrogation means cancellation, and the initial command always remained in force.

A good example of that is the prohibition of drinking alcoholic beverages. The first command God sent down on this issue was,
“And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines you take for yourselves intoxicant and good provision. Verily, in that is a sign for a folk who reason.” (16:67)
Here is a very subtle indication that intoxicants are not a good thing. God leaves the word without an adjective to describe it, but He follows the word “provision” with the adjective “good.” Those who got the hint, Umar ibn Al-Khattaab (RA) was one, understood that God is not pleased with alcoholic beverages.

A subsequent command was then revealed,
“They ask you about intoxicants and easy gain (gambling). Say: In them is major sin and benefits for people. But their sin is bigger than their benefit.” (2:219)
So, those who did not notice before are now left with no doubt that alcohol is bad. Notice that this verse does not abrogate 16:67, because not describing something as being good is tantamount to describing it as more bad than good!

Then, a third command was revealed,
“O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying, ” (4:43)

Now the matter is getting serious; intoxication prevents a Muslim from even approaching a prayer! Still, many people thought that it was OK to drink outside prayer times! They still didn’t get the hint. You see why God is walking them those baby steps? It is very hard for a society used to drinking alcohol to quit that habit. They need training. That is what God was doing, out of His Grace, by the gradual revelation of these commands. Notice also that this verse does not abrogate either of the aforementioned verses, because not praying while drunk does not mean drinking is allowed.

Finally, the prohibition was revealed in no uncertain terms,
“O you who have believed! Verily, intoxicants, easy gain (gambling), [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than God], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that perhaps you may prosper.

Verily, Satan only wants to drop between you enmity and acrimony through intoxicants and easy gain (gambling) and to shun you from the remembrance of God and from prayer. So, are you ceasing?” (5:90-91)

It is of particular interest to notice that Chapter 5 was one of the very last chapters of the Quran to be revealed. That means that the prohibition of alcohol took the entire period of revelation between Chapter 16 and Chapter 5, almost a decade!

That is just one example of why the Quran may not start off a command with the clear statement outright.

Quoting the Quran out of context

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Quoting any text out of context is obviously dishonest, so why do so many people do it? The reason is that it works! When someone has an agenda and they know that if they expose it, it will not be popular, they must find alternative ways. One such way is to use for evidence, backing their argument, text taken out of context and quoted by respectable sources. This impresses the gullible, thus helping the people making those arguments pursue their agendas.

This practice of quoting text out of context is a pseudo-reasoning technique, a misinformation. Many politicians use it to knock down the electability of their opponents or the favorability of their opponents programs.

Thus, it is no wonder that Islamophobes often quote translations of verses of the Holy Quran stripped from their context, so that their listeners or readers would get the wrong impression about what the verse it about and would not be interested in Islam. Few people actually bother to check out the Quran to verify what they heard or read. Those who do invariably conclude the opposite!

I’ve mentioned before many examples of questions and/or arguments made by Islamophobes to repulse people away from Islam and exposed the fraud in those questions and the flaws in their arguments. See posts in the categories Islamophobia and Misconceptions for more on that.

Today, I thought I’d turn this negativity into a fun quiz! The following are quizzes to test your knowledge of the Quran. See if you can solve them and use comments to enter your answers.

Each of the following is a translation of a part of a verse that sounds like a blasphemy! Where in the Quran do you find these verses? What is their context that was left out and that explains what they really mean?

1. “Blessed is the one in the fire”!

2. Satan “misguides and guides”!

3. “Woe unto those who pray”!

4. “My Lord does not pay attention to you”!

Does analytical thinking reduce religious belief?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

VANCOUVER — A University of British Columbia study suggests analytical thinking can be harmful to religious faith. The psychology report, published Thursday in the prestigious journal Science, reveals that religious belief drops after subjects perform analytical tasks or are exposed to Auguste Rodin’s sculpture, The Thinker.

However, UBC social psychologists Will Gervais and Ara Norenzayan insist they are not debunking religion or promoting atheism. Instead, they are trying to figure out the psychological origins of spirituality.

Source: UBC study | Holy Post | National Post.

Interesting study, but notice how it does not name the religions espoused by the participants? It means that they bundled all religions together versus atheism. That is an assumption on their part whose validity they first had to prove. Was a wide spectrum of religions represented in the survey takers? If not, the results would be biased.

Those snags aside, it is particularly profound to observe that the Quran keeps prodding its readers to think, reflect, examine, analyze, reason and adopt sound logic in conjunction with having faith and consulting ones heart, conscience, guts and feelings. That is the consistent message of Islam: Balance. Things in life are not “either or”, but rather “both and.” The challenge before each of us in life is how to correctly balance the seemingly opposite demands of aspects of our lives all of which we need. A Muslim finds enormous help on this tough task through the guidance of the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Sunna. In Islam, there is no conflict between science and faith, between scripture and history, between the individual and society, or between the spiritual and the material. They can all coexist and must. So can and must the heart and the mind just like the left brain and the right brain coexist and cooperate!

Blind faith is as bad as atheism. The former cancels the mind. The latter cancels the heart.

Cut-and-paste Muslims

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I think we need to discuss Taqleed (blind following). I see so much culture infused with blind following.

The confidence it takes to use your mind is a tome in itself. We have a generation of cut-and-pasters who do not take the time to reflect.

How do I put it? Those who follow blindly do not take well to questions posed from a philosophical perspective. And specifically from a western orientation and or Sufism. I am seeking the essence of matters. Blind following has no room for seeking the essence. It is the easy way out.

If blind followers pause for a minute to reflect, they may ask themselves this simple question: Is the man, or group you’re following blindly, are they infallible?

The answer is obviously not, and I’m sure most of them will answer correctly. With that established, how can they justify following those who may be wrong, may have misconstrued things, may have misinterpreted the texts, may have misunderstood the intent and/or spirit of the revelation?

They can’t, of course, but in their minds, there is no better alternative! They do not trust their own minds. They see those whom they follow as superior to them in knowledge, intellect and spirituality. While that may be true, it is no reason to annul one’s mind and choose to be led by others without questioning. If that were part of our religion, then how come God asks us many times in the Quran the rhetorical questions,

“Have you not been using your minds?” (36:62),
“Did they not walk in the land and have hearts with which to understand, or ears with which to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that go blind, but the hearts which are in the bosoms.” (22:46),
“Don’t you use your minds?” (2:44),
“Should you not then reason?” (7:169),
“That is because they were a folk who did not reason.” (5:58),
“The most evil of creatures, in the sight of God, are the dumb, mute who do not reason!” (8:22),
“Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are but like animals, nay, they are more misguided!” (25:44)

What a strong and harsh chastisement to those who elect to suspend their minds! If any reader is a blind follower, I urge you to reflect on Rumi’s advice, “Do not let others lead you; they may be blind, or worse: vulchures!”

God gave each of us a sound mind as a valuable gift, urges us to use it and trusts it to make the right decisions! Don’t turn away God’s gift.

What to tell a pantheist?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

My older brother who’s 18 years old just left Islam. Now he’s a pantheist. Would you please help me to give a beautiful explanation, so he’ll think of Islam again? What should I say to him? What would YOU say to him if you were my parent? I don’t understand his philosophy very well, except that he believes in impersonal god and everything occurs in the universe has always been a mere mechanical process (not God’s will). He’s trying to convert me, my sisters, and my mother, a few days ago older sister’s starting to believe his conversion was making sense.

Sorry to hear that. I know you must be feeling terrible.

God is not a person, but He is not impersonal either! These terms apply to creatures only. He is above and beyond everything that we can imagine or conceive of. Everything in the universe did develop in a mechanical way, but it was God who created the mechanical and physical laws, right? God says in the holy Quran,

“[Pharaoh asking Moses and Aaron] saying, “Who then is your Lord, O Moses?” He said, “My Lord is He who gave everything its form and then guided [it]” (20:49-50)

The main question that no atheist has been able to answer is: who created the laws that operate everything? They say they don’t know how any law evolved and may never know. God tells us in the Quran that it is He and no one else who created all, including the laws by which all operate.

Why do these laws operate so orderly and so consistently? Has your brother ever been wounded? Did he ever reflect on how the wound heals? What tells scar tissue to form, just above new skin cells that are too ripe still to be exposed to air?! How does scar tissue know that new skin cells are ready and thus it drops off having served its purpose?! Isn’t this a sign of God, the Healer?

Atheists may think that they are intellectuals, but they really are irrational. Their motivation, IMHO, is one or more of three things: (a) Resentment of God for His Power over them, (b) resentment of God for allowing imperfections in this world, or (c) evasion of religious obligations. All three reasons are ill conceived. God’s power over us is a good thing, because we tend to abuse our powers while God never does, so He is the Balance in the universe. Imperfections in this world is the result of the exercise of the free will. Without the free will, no atheist would have been able to reject God! Finally, religious obligations are for our own benefit. They are our connection to God and the food for our souls.

Remain a good brother to your brother, and pray for him, but educate yourself and him. I suspect that the main reason he veered from Islam is that he knew little or knew wrong about Islam. Yes, many Muslims are ignorant about their religion, I’m sad to say.

What are Fiqh and Usool-ul-Fiqh disciplines?

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

I read a bit some of “Fiqh” books and frankly found them boring. I got lost between the various rulings on the same issue by different scholars.

Actually, I don’t quite understand what Fiqh is and how it is disciplined, if at all. And what is the discipline of Usool-ul-Fiqh?

The word Fiqh literally means “Getting the point!” Not all people who read a text or listen to a talk get the point of it. Worse yet, some may even get weird concepts from it.

In order for one to get the point, one needs to know how! That’s what the discipline of Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction) comes in. It is logic applied to Islamic sources. What you are finding boring is comparative jurisprudence (Al-Fiqh al-Muqaaran).

Yes. There are schools of thought and then comes the exegesis. But the process, and I am a process person, loses its perspective. Minute replaces the objective.

What about women. Why do women not discuss Fiqh?

I think that women were generally not encouraged, or their contributions have not been publicized. But that wasn’t the case early on. Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, was a consultant to many Sahaaba (Fellows of the Prophet, PBUH) on all issues, not just women’s issues. Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Imaam Maalik, among many others, had female teachers. See this post, for more examples.

Is Fiqh derived from the Hadeeths? Given that the Quran is Absolute.

Fiqh applies to both the Quran and the Hadeeth, because both are texts from which rulings may be derived. Usool-ul-Fiqh work the same way for both. Hadeeth involves an additional discipline: authentication.

While the Quran is absolute, it is revealed in a human language, and therefore may be interpreted in more than one way. If interested, check out this discussion about verse 3:7.

I read the Bukhaari and Muslim compilations of authentic hadeeths and I was impressed with the arduous work involved in authentication of the Hadeeth

Indeed, may God bless the scholars of Hadeeth who verified the integrity of every narrator in every narration! A huge body of investigative research.

Is Islam compatible with democracy?

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I will be giving a talk on Islam and will be addressing the issue of democracy. Some Muslims tell me that democracy and Islam do not mix and others tell me they are compatible. What do you think?

Representative democracy is how Umar suggested his successor and popular democracy is how Uthmaan ibn Affaan was elected, may God have been pleased with them. It is also the way district assemblies were structured throughout Muslim history. They are called Ahl-ul-Hall wal-`Aqd.

The anti-democracy Muslims tell me that democracy is dictatorship of the majority. For example, in France and Belgium they ruled that women cannot cover their heads and in Switzerland the majority decided that minarets cannot be constructed. Both these decisions are perfectly democratic! What can you say about that?

Simple. Their constitution allows it. Ours doesn’t. If their constitution does not allow it, it can be challenged in court. Many a bill voted on by the people in the USA were turned down by the Supreme Court because it was determined to be unconstitutional.

To say that democracy is un-Islamic without proof is un-Islamic! Judgments in Islam cannot be made without evidence. Where in the Quran does God mandate on us to submit to dictatorship or forbid us from freely electing our leaders?

Ironically, the anti-democracy Muslims firmly believe in Ijmaa` (consensus). That is what representative democracy is all about: electing people who know their stuff to make decisions on behalf of the people and in accordance with the law of the land. The law of a Muslim land is the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth and the rulings derived from them. Parliaments in a Muslim democracy cannot pass laws allowing Muslims to drink or gamble because that would be unconstitutional.

But if democracy means going against the Law of Allah (as is happening)…it’s totally un-Islamic.

But that is not what democracy means! No democracy can go against the law of the land, or else it’s anarchy.

It’s misunderstanding of what democracy means and how it is implemented that causes some folks to think that Islam and democracy are not compatible. Proper understanding is advised before one starts to talk about them in public.

But isn’t democracy self rule by the people? This is why fornication and riba (usury) are allowed in the West and even homosexuality being legalized. The policies and legislation are based on majority that’s why Niqab (face cover) and minarets being banned.

If it was compatible with Islam all those would not happen.

No. That’s not why these things happen. They happen because the constitution in the West does not forbid them. Case in point is whether people can vote to elect a man for president of the US even if the man was not born in the US. Such vote would be overturned by the Supreme Court because it’s unconstitutional!

Banning minarets and the niqaab can be challenged in court, if Muslims care to defend their religious freedom in Europe. And they can win too because the case is not hard to make, given the EU constitution’s guarantee of freedom to practice religion.

OK, but who makes the constitution? It’s the people!

In the West, yes. For us, the Constitution was already written by God and His Messenger. Furthermore, Western constitutions can be amended, but ours cannot be because the Quran and the Sunna are final.

Well, you have to admit that modern versions of democracy are incompatible with Islam.

Forgive me, but I think that you still do not get the notion of the constitution and how “modern” democracy operates within it. The constitution of France may be different from the constitution of the US in some points. As a result, the French people may vote for something and it passes, but if Americans vote for the same thing, it won’t pass!

The constitution of Muslims is the Quran and the Sunna. Thus, implementing democracy for Muslim countries guarantees that Sharia will be honored. The Supreme Court will see to it even if people vote against it. The Supreme Court is a democratic institution and is a fundamental part of how democracy is implemented.

The “modern” version of democracy is fully compatible with Islam. As I said earlier, representative democracy (republic) is how Abu-Bakr and Umar were elected, may God have been pleased with them, and popular democracy is how Uthmaan was elected, may God have been pleased with him.

I’m told that democracy is a system which is at odds with the very essence of Allāh’s exclusive right of legislation and as such it steps outside the mere disobedience of Allāh into the realm of Shirk (blasphemy), in that it seeks to elevate mankind to the level of the only Legislator

The imaams (foremost clerics), judges, and jurists have all legislated thousands of laws throughout Muslim history. Are they all challenging the exclusive right of God to legislate? Of course not, because their rulings are based on God’s principles. That is what the constitution is about!

Those who support democracy in whatever form should provide supporting evidence from Quraan and hadith instead of going around in circles.

The burden of proof is on the claimant. That’s you who says democracy is incompatible with Islam. You have to prove that it is. You have to show verses where God orders us to submit to dictatorship or prohibits us from freely electing our leaders. You haven’t and you can’t, because there is none.

It is clear to me now that many Muslims completely misunderstand what democracy is and how it is implemented. While some of them will no doubt continue to misunderstand it, some may have gotten it.

It is often the case, isn’t it?, that when Muslims and Westerners talk to each other, they often talk above each other’s heads! If only each side would cool down and actually starts listening until they understand what the other is talking about, there would be much less resentment of the West and much less Islamophobia.

But democracy hasn’t been practiced by Muslims. Why would we consider it now?

First of all, that’s not true. Caliph Uthmaan was freely elected as I noted before.

But even if it were true, the argument that tradition is our guide is false. One of the first things God attacks in harsh language in the Quran is tradition! And He uses the rhetorical question “Could you not reason?” often in chastisement. Thus, the Quran makes it clear to us that logic is our guide, not tradition.

In Usool-ul-Fiqh (the disipline of foundations of deduction), the question of whether something is not forbidden is never asked! Because the question to ask is if something is forbidden. It’s called the principle of Original Allowance (Al-Baraa’a Al-Asliyya): Everything is allowed until proven otherwise, everybody is innocent until proven guilty and every place is clean until proven unclean.

Many tell me that democracy is a Western idea and that we should not follow Western ideas.

The West has stuff that are immoral, but it also has a few very good ideas that are in no way contrary to Islam. Ideas that evolved over centuries and have been tried and tested and proven beneficial and practical.

Many Muslims think that if they start following Western ideas, they will soon follow all their ideas! If they believe that, then they are implying that Muslims do not have any discernment; they cannot tell what’s good and what’s not. So, they think that the safest thing to do is to follow tradition, even if a given tradition is wrong. That is precisely what God berates people in the Quran for doing. He quotes them saying, “Nay, we will follow what we found our parents doing.” (2:170)

Many Muslims also believe that following any Western idea is tantamount to approving their religion, or their way of life! It’s neither; it’s following a good idea. If you have a cell phone, TV or computer, you’re following good ideas that came from the West The Prophet, peace be upon him, often did like the people of the Book in matters where no revelation was sent to him. Does that mean he approved of their religion or their way of life?

Democracy has not been tried in Muslim countries before. In fact, it’s been tried in Yemen and look what happened!

So, if a system hasn’t been tried, it shouldn’t be used? Is that logical, or is it more sensible to ask: does this new system have enough merit to give it a try? Especially since alternative systems have failed?

If the Yemeni model failed, was that the fault of democracy, or the fault of corruption? Democracy is not only free elections. It’s independent legislative and judiciary powers too, a system of checks and balances, watch-dog organizations, independent free media, etc., where nobody is above the law and corruption is quickly exposed and penalized.

We know from the Quran that obeying people is like worshiping them. That’s what democracy leads to.

And in Islam, many Muslims worship their scholars as gods, when they take their opinions without understanding their reasoning or questioning them. That’s not my view only, it was the view of one of the most prominent scholars of old: Imaam Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalaani, may God bless his soul.

And he wasn’t alone in this. Imaam Ash-Shaffi`i, may God bless his soul, was once asked a question by a man. He answered it for him in some detail, giving him his reasoning. The man started to pull out a tablet and pen. Ash-Shaafi`i yelled at him, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m writing down your fatwa before I forget it!” Ash-Shaafi`i said, “Don’t! I might change my opinion by the night prayer!”

The sad phenomenon that many Muslims have had for decades now is that they have decided that they will not, or cannot, use their minds to learn their religion. So, they delegated that job to the scholars altogether. Wrong! The job of the scholars is to study matters and share their conclusions, and the reasoning they used, with fellow Muslims. Their conclusions should be valued and respected but only taken if they are sound and logical.

Most scholars do their job well, may God bless them and add to their knowledge. It is Muslims who turn their opinions into religion.

I’m not quite convinced of what you said. I prefer the opinions of several scholars who ruled that democracy is incompatible with Islam, so I’ll have to say that in my presentation.

Talking about Islam in public is a very serious affair. Done wrong, it may misguide people. God teaches us in the holy Quran not to do that! He teaches us this supplication, “Our Lord, do not make us a temptation for those who disbelieved, and forgive us, our Lord…” (60:5)

What is worse than not conveying the Message of God to people? Conveying the wrong message to people!

Unfortunately, that is precisely what Muslims have done for quite some time now: Holding fundamentalist views, projecting a holier-than-thou attitude, ridiculing other people’s religions, fighting amongst each other, living a backward and closed life, consenting to dictatorship, even committing war crimes… All are direct and blatant violations of God’s unambiguous commands in the Quran.

The disbelievers have been tempted. The Islamophobic campaign is a predictable result of such conduct from Muslims. “And if God willed, He would let them loose upon you…” (4:90)

Obviously, Muslims are not the only ones who did all those ills and non-Muslims have done more of them and on a larger scale, but that does not excuse Muslims. God described the true Muslims as “the best community ever produced for mankind: command the recognizable, forbid the objectionable and believe in God.” (3:110)

The only rescue for Muslims from all the rut they are in is to once again make the Quran and the Sunna supreme. As long as we prefer Taqleed (blind following) to the Quran and the Sunna, as long as we prefer people to God, we will continue to be in torment.

Please do not say in your speech about Islam things that are not true, cannot be proven, or are merely interpretations/opinions rather than established tenets. You’d be misrepresenting Islam. Remember that in the Hereafter you will be held responsible for “the harvest of your tongue”, as the Prophet (PBUH) eloquently put it.

Should a Muslim follow one school of thought only?

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

There are four Mazhaahib (schools of thought) in Sunni Islam and more in Shee`i Islam. Muslims typically follow one school of thought or the other. Is that OK?

If one is not inclined to study things on his own, then it is OK to follow one of the four Sunni mazhaahib, because they are all good and their founders were pious, knowledgeable people.

The differences between the mazhaahib are plenty, but mostly in secondary issues. When you realize that Islam is quite simple: it’s the Quran and the authentic hadeeth, your mind is at ease. Mazhaahib cannot mandate something God or the Prophet (PBUH) did not mandate, nor forbid something they did not forbid. Therefore, all they do is interpret evidence in order to arrive at a ruling. You can take it if you follow them, or you can take the ruling of another mazhhab if you prefer.

The problem is when a scholar tells you that something is haraam (forbidden) or fardh (mandatory) based on shaky evidence or poor logic. If you can read and can apply logic, you can easily tell if his fatwa (ruling) is flawed. It’s not rocket science. People of Taqleed (blind following), however, block their minds and follow the fatwa to the letter. That is sad and bad, for God has condemned Taqleed.

Who were the founders of the four schools of thought? Was there a time gap between them? When did Al-Bukhaari live? And who is Al-Albaani and where does he fit in?

The four Imaams and Al-Buhkaari all lived in the second and third Centuries A.H., First was Abu-Haneefa, then Maalik, then Ash-Shaafi`i then Ibn Hanbal. Al-Bukhaari followed them. Right away you can see that all four schools of thought (Mazhaahib) did not have the benefit of authenticated Hadeeth when they made their analysis! They were wonderful people, pious, knowledgeable and intelligent, and they tried their best and offered a large number of scholarly and enlightened rulings, but, because they were human nonetheless, they also made mistakes and they were the first to tell others that they are not immune to error. Ash-Shaafi`i changed many of his opinions after he settled in Egypt.

They differed with each other because most matters they studied required interpretation, and that is a subjective matter. Even their fellows and students differed with their teachers. The differences prove that there is really no consensus, but it does not mean that we should discard their work! It is extremely valuable.

Al-Albaani is recent. He died a couple of decades ago, I believe. He did a good job verifying and authenticating the Hadeeth, but he was a bit too liberal in assessing narrators. That’s why he approved many hadeeths as authentic when they are less than that. He even found a number of hadeeths in Al-Bukhaari and Muslim compilations that are not authentic and he pointed them out.

What can I say to someone who follows a particular school of thought religiously and wouldn’t open his mind to any differing opinions?

To a person who blindly follows a school of thought, I’d only direct their attention to the countless verses in the Quran where God asks the rhetorical questions, “Could you not reason?” and “Don’t you use your mind?” and the many verses where God condemns people who say, “We found our fathers that way and we are on their tracks following!” That is Taqleed and it is not a good thing, though its adherents believe it is. It is the easier thing to do and that’s why most people do it

Can logic and reason be used in religion?

Friday, July 9th, 2010

I’ve noticed that in many of your articles, you use logic and critical thinking, but can they be used in religion? I’ll give you an example. Prophet Muhammad Went from Mecca to Jerusalem in one night, can you explain to me how this is logically possible? We know also Angel Gabriel took Prophet Muhammad’s heart out and cleansed it and put it back when he was little. Can you logically prove this? And Allah turned some Jews from among the Children of Israel into apes and swines, Can you explain this to me as well?

That’s easy! Let me start with the night journey. An object will move at a speed proportional to the force that pushed it, the stronger the force, the faster the move. That is why airplanes get us to our destination faster than automobiles and faster than walking. God has infinite power, therefore, He can push any object any distance in no time at all.

Creatures differ in their abilities. A horse can live and build muscles from a diet of grass and hay, but man can’t. Birds can fly but man can’t. Likewise, angels have powers that man doesn’t have.

And because God has infinite creation powers, He can turn any creation into any other creation. It’s the same logic with which a worm, the caterpillar, which can only crawl, has many legs and looks creepy, turns in three weeks into another species, an insect, a butterfly, which can fly thousands of miles, has only two legs and looks beautiful. The same logic that turns a seed into a palm tree, or a fertilized egg into a baby. Glory be to God.

What about God settling on His Throne? Where is the logic here?

It’s a metaphor, a figure of speech. The Arabs use metaphors all the time. You can see that a lot when you read their poetry. Exegesis books have pointed that out too about the Quran in abundance.