Posts Tagged 'theology'

I’m a scholar – so push off!

I’m a scholar – so push off!

 

I often get that feeling when hearing so called ‘knowledgeable people talk’. But as it’s a feeling, I concede it could be wrong. Such harsh and direct words are seldom spoken, but is it entirely your fault if that is the impression you are given?

 

Can scholars only be taught things from scholars above them? I don’t think so, but again, that’s the impression that comes across quite often when I hear supposed ‘scholarly’ people speak. “Your opinion isn’t more correct than mine because I have more knowledge that you” That seems very arrogant. How does the ‘scholar’ know the full extent of the “less scholarly” persons line of reasoning and the extent of his knowledge?

 

This does NOT mean a supposedly learned person should not be allowed to say “No”, or “I think you are wrong” to somebody, but they MUST EXPLAIN WHY it may be wrong. Because the scholars explanation might be flawed and if so, it should show itself as the scholar is delivering his explanation.

 

Failure to openly discuss sounds alarm bells with me. It’s a near sure-fire sign that the ‘scholar’ is grasping at straws – and I suspect if they were honest with themselves – they would admit it.

 

And it’s worse when others blindly defend so called scholars/wise men. Admiration of some flawed man to the extent that you will never listen to others pointing out the flaws in his argument is actually a disgrace on you. For you attribute flawlessness onto that person which is dabbling in Shirk (putting something at the same level of God). If you want to stick up for someone, fine! Good! Some people are great people. Some are very wise, some very moral. But you too must address the issues relating to the criticism of that person.

 

Aren’t all men (and all men that have ever been) flawed in some way. They are MEN yes? They are NOT God, yes? So aren’t they flawed?

 

Idolisation of men is rife these days. By that I mean idol supporters refuse to listen to valid criticism of their idols/heros – and most importantly refuse to see if there is any basis behind such criticism.

 

What’s this latest thing that is putting ants in my pants?

 

 

All this kicked off from the following article: Conspiracy Practice by Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi, which honestly speaking, contains really preposterous elements to it. I sent off a letter to the gentleman concerned and got no reply. I then had a ‘conversation’ about it with someone who I would regard as scholarly. The author of the piece, Shaykh Abdal Qadir as Sufi is a respected scholar., indeed one of my good friends told me about him some time ago.

 

 

The heart of a discussion involved God, 9-11 and Evil. {BTW: The scholar rejected forensic evidence as the basis for saying it legally proves(within Islamic jurisprudence that  9-11 was an inside job, and Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi totally ignored any mention of any physical evidence}

 

Does God ‘do’ evil? Does God create evil? Is God responsible for evil? Did God ‘do’ 9-11? Are there any differences between those statements?.. etc…

 

In the conversation, the scholarly person said the answer was “Yes”. God Decrees evil.

 

It presupposed some Islamic beliefs. As we are both Muslims, that is understandable. The scholars reasoning went something like this…

 

Nothing can be outside the Tawhid (Oneness) of God. Everything is created by God. If evil or badness exists it is because God created it. Everything is within Gods domain. The scholar is saying God has decreed everything, evil and 9-11.

 

I was told “there is no dispute among people of knowledge about this.”

 

I could feel sore about the insult, I want my Islamic brotherly feeling towards him try and help me ignore it, although I would be lying to say I have the strength of character to let it go without residual unhappy feelings :(

 

But to me, what this person said seemed to be something like blasphemy. I was willing to accept this view if it was explained to me.

But it wasn’t.

A few interpretations which could equally be interpreted in another way was all that was offered.

 

Thing is, I feel like I’m in a bit of a panic! Because if he is right, then I must be a terrible Muslim because he is saying I am putting something outside Gods power.

 

I certainly don’t intend to say that, but I know full well that people who believe in something can be blinded by it, and in fact, the Qur’an warns that there are people who have no perception of them being on the wrong path. Is this happening to me? Am I somehow unable to see any really bit pitfall that I’m in? It could well be – The Qur’an indicates so, and I’m not going to argure against the Qur’an.

 

 

So I pursued the matter, quite scared that my belief and understanding of God* had for years been seriously flawed.

 

I put to him my understanding of the situaton, and asked a few Q’s of him, but my points went unanswered as were my questions, unless you call ‘answering a question with a question’ an answer. On rare occaison ok, I can tolerate that, but surely, to keep on doing that gets a bit silly.

 

When one answers a Q with a Q, (in terms of having honourable intentions) is usually to get the questioner to reflect on their initial Q, because the initial Q may have been flawed/illegitimate, and the person bouncing back the Q, wants the initial questioner to see that. But surely there is a fine line between doing that (as a way of improving learning and discourse) and being annoying. When abused, it can be a sign of “I’m an intellectual fortress don’t you know?” or “I’m a scholar – so push off!” It’s dam easy to answer a Q with a Q. Repeatedly doing so isn’t polite when it provokes agitation. And there is no sanctity of conforming to the movie portrayl of Asian-mystic/Kung-Fu/Buddhist apprentice scenes, where it’s a measure of the ‘good apprentice’ is governeed by how much he can take all the riddles and so forth from his ‘wise’ master like the modern characterature of Confucius or Lao Tzu.

 

Is it an absolute necessity for a wise man to answer a question with another question? I think just giving the answer is useful too! But hey, I’m not a scholar so I would say that right???

 

On one occasion however, the scholar took what I said, inverted it and said words to the effect that he couldn’t believe I said that. I was flabbergasted.

 

I said “there is no dependence on the Creator by creation”

 

He replied: “[the statement] is entirely the opposite of the reality; the creation is completely dependent on the Creator for its existence, for its attributes and for its actions.”

 

Was my crappy typing and worse spelling wasn’t to blame here? I don’t think so. What I said was perfectly clear. When I pointed out to him that his ‘correction’ was in fact exactly what I had said, he offered no apology at all, even though what he said I had ‘said’, was really something terrible!

 

Well, more of the convo was quite unsatisfactory. In line with what we were saying I said to him “I have never found any reference to ‘God decrees evil’ in the Qur’an. this could well be a failing on my behalf. Could you please give me the Surah and Ayat? It is quite important.”

 He offered:

35 Every self will taste death. We test you with both good and evil as a trial. And you will be returned to Us.” (21:35)”

 

Now I may be wrong here, but in the context of My belief that God does NOT ‘do’ evil, the ‘test’ here is, man by his free will, has the ability to do good and evil. If he is righteous he will pass the test and avoid doing evil? the scholar seemed to be saying God will put evil upon us and if we come through that evil then we have passed the test. I think our lines of reasoning are quite different.

 

The scholar said supported his position The good and the evil are of His decree. and “Iman is that you believe in… and that the decree, the good of it and the bad of it is from Allah.

 

The scholar quoted:

 

Every self will taste death. We test you with both good and evil as a trial. And you will be returned to Us. (21:35)” Remember we inherited an idea of evil as an absolute, but that is not our perspective as Muslims. Good and evil are relative. Allah is the absolute.

 

“He [Jibril] said, ‘Tell me about iman.’ He [the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace] said, ‘That you believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and that you believe in the Decree, the good (khayr) of it and the bad (sharr) of it.’ He [Jibril] said, ‘You have told the truth.’”

 

Imam an-Nawawi said: The position of the people of Truth is confirmation of the Decree. Its meaning is that Allah decreed things before time, and He knew that they would come about at times known to Him and in places known to Him, and that they would come about according to how Allah had decreed.

 

Imam an-Nawawi further said: Allah created good and bad, and decreed their coming to the slave at known times. … He (Allah) said, “Say, ‘I seek refuge with the Lord of daybreak, from the evil of what He has created…'””

 

 

It is clear the scholar is saying my understanding of God is wrong and that he believes evil is by Gods decree.

 

Frustratingly he repeatedly failed to answer my subsequent points.

 

I replied:

 

[That] Is very interesting statement (Re:He decreed everything that has been, that is and that is to be. The good and the evil are of His decree.). No body can second guess God, but I’ve never heard anyone claim God decrees evil! I was of the opinion God decreed within man the abilty of free will. That free will and physical eminations thereof, is allowed to have consequence. {I’m saying when man exercises that free will he causes evil}

 

The 99 names Allah Ta’ala are positivisms. They are not coupled or in anyway connected with their antonym. {I am saying there is no ‘bad’ attributes of God}

 

The evil will of man did 9-11, not God’s evil.

 

 

It was immensely frustrating that he totally avoided the ‘free will’ issue. I see it like this… God knows everything. He knows the tiniest details of our lives, even those which haven’t happened yet. He knows ALL pathways our lives could ever travel down.

 

His decree is that that we have free will – the choice. His Decree means that if we choose a branch point on the path of life, then his prescribed decree for that particular choice or path will therefore happen. He therefore knows the outcome of our choices before we make them. A critical question is, does he know WHICH choice we will make. I would have to say yes, but then we run into the problem of “Was it then free will?” and “Did God decree that choice?” I’d have to say No, God didn’t decree/force us to make that choice (but he does and can force a consequence of that choice). If he Decreed that path it wouldn’t have been an actual ‘choice’. It would make an irrelevance out of our free will. So what of the question “Did he know the choice we were going to make?”

 

The scholar (if we were to actually address my points) might have said “You are saying Allah(SWT) doesn’t know which path we are going down and therefore God is ignorant of something – which is clearly impossible.

 

I think it’s fair to say without question that he knows the outcome of the choice, but did he know which choice we would make? Yes, God knows everything, but he didn’t force it upon is. I don’t see any problem with that.

 

Well, we are trying to second guess God using Human logic which seems very likely to me to actually be a ridiculous thing to do. And for a human stuck in physical time to understands things that don’t conform to linear time is also very difficult. God of course not only because he is indepenedent of and the creator of time, knows everything. He knows what is uncertain for us.

 

 

At the risk of repeating myself, Can what the scholar said “Allah creates and decrees both good-khayr and bad-sharr.” Could that mean He Decrees if man decides to do an evil act then that evil act shall come about – i.e. God creates /brings forth the pathway that the evil doer wants to happen? The scholar seemed to say no (but didn’t say so directly) and me, of the unscholarly opinion, thinks the answer is yes.

 

If there was no man, would there be evil? I don’t think there would. The Angels are incapable of evil as they have no free will. Didn’t Iblis exercise free will (and therefore can’t be an angel) and refused to obey Gods command to bow before man? Is there not another lesson that free will allows for the evil to occur? Allah(SWT) allowed the choice for evil to actually bring about evil.

 

 Is my understanding of God wrong? Should I see evil as a Decree from God in the sense that God initiates evil as the scholar was suggesting, and not that God creates it in the sence he creates it and allows it to happen consequentially on the desires of men to do evil acts?

 

-As usual I’ll probably have to come back at a later date and ‘fix’ aspects this post. Try as I might I seem unable to adjust my copy and paste composition / multiple rewrites of various parts, even on the small scale, So there is likely to be silly errors and typos and other errors in this post. But it is sincere, and I really want to know..

 

  

footnote:

 

* I mean in as much as a person can understand God. I have often thought it futile to understand/debate God because I, as a silly little human with a brain the size of melon, with a conscious mind so full of silly things and strange habits/behaviours, and being a person of a meaningless life (outside worshiping Allah(SWT) and that such a life span is really amazingly short, and that I need to rely on silly human flawed models to understand the physical universe, entirely based on things I have previous knowledge. All that means, if such an explanation was ever needed in the first place, that I or anyone can never ever hope to understand God in anything near His Glory. It is not debated that we have the choice to do evil right?. Anyway, to end with, the best case for God, to stop second guessing him according to silly human notions, is the Qur’an. I as a silly person cannot ever hope to explain God even on the tinyest scale than the Qur’an can.

 Reading the Qur’an is the guidance for everyone.

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