The Ash'ari Creed and 20th Century Thinkers and Political Activists: Part 2b - The Aqidah of Taqi ud-Din an-Nabahani: The Intellect is the Absolute Foundation For the Islamic Aqidah
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Wednesday, June, 16 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Taqi Ad-Din An-Nabahani Hizb Ut-Tahrir Taqiuddin Al-Nabhani Yusuf An-Nabahani

Taqi ad-Din an-Nabahani: The Aql (Intellect) is the Absolute and Fundamental Foundation for the Islamic Aqidah

We established in the first part that an-Nabahani considers all of the deviations (inclusive of doctrines of kufr) of the Jahmiyyah, Qadariyyah and Mu'tazilah to be from the Islamic aqidah, despite their variation and mutual contradiction. Within this context we now come to see that an-Nabahani himself is upon one of the greatest of the usool of the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah (and Ash'ariyyah) which is making the intellect (aql) the absolute criterion and reference point for the Islamic aqidah - following in the tradition of the likes of Abu al-Hudhayl al-Allaaf (d. 235H), and ar-Razi (d. 606H) and others from the Mutakallimeen who glorified the intellect above it's proper place.

An-Nabahani says in "ash-Shakhsiyyah al-Islaamiyyah" (3/255):

He is speaking here about the verses in the Qur'an, "Allaah is the creator of every single thing", and "He is powerful (qadeer) over everything", and explaining how the intellect defines and qualifies the meanings of these verses to prevent them from being misapplied, and then he goes on to mention this as a general principle for the aqidah as a whole, saying:

And from that, the intellect (aql) specifies (i.e. qualifies) the generality of [Qur'anic] verse, as for using the likes of these verses as evidence, then it is not relevant, because these verses are connected with beliefs (aqaa'id), and not the Sharee'ah rulings (ahkaam). And the intellect is used to deduce evidence for the aqaa'id (beliefs), and the legislation (shar') is [also] used for them, but the evidence for the belief (i'tiqaad) in the legislation, fundamentally, is the intellect (aql), and thus, it is correct that the aql (intellect) [itself] is an evidence for beliefs (aqaa'id), and thus it is correct that it (the intellect) is an evidence for understanding the verses, and it is correct that it also qualifies (specifies) the beliefs (aqaa'id)...

Here an-Nabahani has given the intellect a superior status in that he makes the understanding and qualification of the verses to be based primarily on the evidence of the intellect (i.e. what the intellect can prove and accept), and not upon what Ahl us-Sunnah hold that the Qur'an is explained by the Qur'an and then by the Sunnah (be that mutawaatir or aahaad) and then by the sayings of the of Companions. They also hold that sound intellect will always agree with what is established through that. However, an-Nabahani qualifies all verses (that pertain to creed) primarily by the intellect and makes the intellect to be what provides and determines the correct understanding and the various qualifications and specifications of the texts. It is important to bear this in mind when we tear down this fake and false edifice that an-Nabahani has constructed following his Mu'tazili, Ash'ari predecessors in this, especially considering that he dismisses the bulk of the Sunnah from being acceptable in matters of belief (aqaa'id).

In "Nidhaam al-Islaam", after outlining rational proofs for belief in Allaah, the Messenger, and the Qur'an, he says (pp. 11-12):

Upon this, faith (eemaan) in Allaah comes through the route of the intellect, and it is vital that this eemaan is through the route of the intellect, and by way of this it becomes the focal point upon which faith in the unseen matters, all of them, is established, and in everything that Allaah has informed us of ...

He means here that once the intellect has established the validity of faith in Allaah, then whatever followers can be accepted with certainty such as the resurrection, Paradise, Hellfire, the Angels, Jinn and so on.

He then continues:

And this eemaan (i.e. in these affairs of belief additional to belief in Allaah), even though it has come through the route of transmitted (revealed) text, however in its foundation, it is a rational (intellectual) faith, because its foundation has been established through the intellect. For this reason, it is necessary that the aqeedah of a Muslim is based upon the intellect, or upon that whose foundation is established through the route of the intellect....

After this he mentions how it is haraam to hold belief (i'tiqaad) in anything that has not come in the Qur'an or a mutawaatir hadeeth, (a view he has taken from the Mu'tazilah, that the khabar ul-aahaad is speculative knowledge that cannot establish aqidah, and the Mu'tazilah innovated this in order to reject what would not agree with their rejection of the attributes of Allaah):

He says:

Therefore, it is obligatory upon a Muslim to believe (ya'taqidu) what is established with him through the route of the intellect or through the route of a definitive, certain (revealed) text, meaning, whatever is established with the Noble Qur'an and the definitive hadeeth, which is the mutawaatir. And whatever is not established by these two paths, the intellect and the text of the Book and the definitive Sunnah, it is haraam to believe it (ya'taqiduhu), because beliefs (aqaa'id) are not taken except from (what amounts to) certainty.

An-Nabahani is following the misguidance of the Mu'tazilah (and the Ash'ariyyah) who reject the khabar ul-aahaad in the affairs of aqidah, and we will take this up more fully in a separate article. In this view, the vast majority of the authentic Sunnah and what it contains of affairs pertaining to belief, it is haraam to believe in them because it is "speculative (dhannee)", not "definitive (qat'ee)" - this is because the only thing that is "definitive" is what is established by the intellect, which an-Nabahani (and the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, and Ash'ariyyah) make to be the base and foundation, preceding the revelation, and thereafter, whatever is established by the Qur'an or a mutawaatir hadeeth. This to him amounts to sure knowledge.

With this established - and these are only a small sample of scores of quotes that can be brought from his books in this regard - then let us see the foolishness that one is led to when one allows the (deficient, limited, human) intellect to reign supreme, above and beyond the necessities of the Book and the Sunnah.

An-Nabahani's Crumbling "Intellectual" Edifice

So here is just one observation which is sufficient to demolish everything that this man stands upon, and everything in his books - so we can see that he makes it haraam to believe anything which is speculative (dhannee) as opposed to what is definitive (qat'ee), and he says that the aql is the definitive source, now compare this to what he says about the mutakallimeen, the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Qadariyyah (read Part 2a), he says about them, in his book "ash-Shakhsiyyah" (see previous article) that:

For this reason, no deviation at all occurred from them in aqaa'id (beliefs) despite all their variant beliefs, for all of them are Muslims, defending Islaam.

And he makes this remark after alluding to the fact that they all tried to use rational methods to speak about the Islamic belief (aqidah). And also in (ash-Shakhsiyyah, 1/127):

3. That the studies of the Theologians are Islamic studies and they are considered, [despite] their divergence and mutual contradiction, as Islamic viewpoints. Every Muslim who embraced a viewpoint from amongst them (those viewpoints) is considered to have embraced an Islamic viewpoint, and whatever he adopted is considered an Islamic aqidah.

He is speaking here about al-Jahm bin Safwaan, the kaafir, and Gheelaan al-Qadariyy, and Waasil bin Ataa' and Amr bin Ubayd, and Abu al-Hudhayl al-Allaaf, the heads of misguidance from the Jahmiyyah, Qadariyyah, Jabariyyah, Mu'tazilah from the second and third centuries after hijrah, and he says that they had no deviation in their beliefs (aqaa'id) and whatever they held and adopted is considered an Islamic aqidah.

Here, an-Nabahani has shown his intellectual bankruptcy in that if the intellect was definitive and decisive, and that the intellect qualifies and specifies the revealed texts, and it is haraam to base one's aqidah except on what is definitive (qat'ee), then how has he considered the saying of all these misguided innovators, alongside their "divergence and mutual contradiction" to be from the sound accepted Islamic aqidah? Does not all this "divergence and mutual contradiction", make all of their views collectively speculative. Who do you believe? The Jahmee who says Allaah is in every place and not above His Throne? The Jabariyy who says man is compelled in his actions? The Qadariyy who says man creates his own actions. The Mu'taziliyy who denies Allaah's attributes? Or the Ash'ari who affirms some attributes but denies others. So given an-Nabahani's glorification of the intellect, it is laughable to see an-Nabahani flatly contradicting and simply demolishing his own foundation in this manner. This proves that the intellect is not definitive, and that the intellect must simply follow the Qur'an's interpretation by the Sunnah and by the sayings of the Companions, the intellect is guided by revelation, the intellect grasps, understands and follows, it is not an independent source.

So an-Nabahani glorifies the intellect, he says it provides definitive knowledge, and that it qualifies and specifies the revealed texts, and he rejects a large portion of the Sunnah in the affairs of aqidah because it is speculative (dhannee), and at the same time, he validates the opinions and beliefs of those misguided sects (some of which are kufr) who based their views upon the intellect, and he says they are all from the "islamic aqidah", meaning the aqidah that is supposed to be only taken from evidence that is "qat'ee" (definitive) - whilst at the same time acknowledging they are all divergent, mututally opposing beliefs (aqaa'id)!

We will develop this same point further in the next article in this series regarding an-Nabahani's position on "Khabar ul-Aahaad" - which he has taken from the Mu'tazilah, and which originates with the Mu'tazilah ,and which also has similar implications.

Regarding the Claim that the First Obligation Is to Rationally Prove the Existence of a Creator

This is actually where an-Nabahani is tended towards and he is simply following the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah in this, and this claim of an-Nabahani, alongside his claim that the fitrah is not sufficient for belief in Allaah, then it is baatil (false) and opposes the Book, the Sunnah and Ijmaa'.

We have already brought rebuttals by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani against the Ash'aris on this point in other articles so you can refer to them here:

And the essence of the matter is that the first obligation upon a person is to simply make the two testimonials of faith and that his eemaan (faith, belief) is sound and valid upon this alone. This is because Allaah has made the fitrah of all people to be inclined towards Tawhid if left intact. The fitrah (natural disposition and instinct), inherently, independent of the aql (intellect), acknowledges a creator.

As for an-Nabahani, he is of the view that the fitrah alone is not sufficient (see "Nidhaam al-Islaam", pp. 7-8), he treats the fitrah as something sentimental, and that the aql (intellect) is absolutely necessary in one's faith, and the only route to faith - and in this he has opposed the way of the Believers and chosen instead the path of the misguided innovators. For whole tribes in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) accepted Islaam and made the testifications of faith, often on account of the Islaam of their leader alone (such as the tribe of al-Aws, following Sa'd bin Mu'aadh), and it was never known that they were ordered to rationally prove the existence of a creator through inspection and observation. This is the innovation of the Mutakallimeen, the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah, and they exaggerated and went to extremes in this regard until some of them like al-Juwaynee declared anyone who did not adduce rational proofs for the existence of a creator whilst having the ability to do so, to be a kaafir (see here, for documentation of this view and its rebuttal, and also documentation that this view originates with the Mu'tazilah, which the Ash'arites borrowed, and which an-Nabahani is simply following)!

The Consensus of the Salaf Regarding This Matter

Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, when discussing the hadeeth of Mu'aadh bin Jabal at the beginning of Kitaab ut-Tawheed in Bukhaaree's Saheeh, in which there occurs the saying of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam), "... Let the first thing that you call them to be to the Tawheed of Allaah (yuwahhidullaahu), and when they have come to know that ..." he discusses the issue of what the first obligation upon the servant is.

The generality of the Ash'aris hold that it is an obligation for each person to know the proofs for the existence of his Lord, through rational and observational proofs and some of them (such as al-Baqillani) go to extremes in claiming that each and every person must learn the preliminary philosophical precepts that underlie the demonstration of Allaah's existence through al-jawhar wal-'arad (substance and accident).

Ibn Hajr first makes mention of the positions of Ibn Fawrak and his followers, and also that of Abu Bakr al-Baqillani and Abu Ishaq al-Isfaraa'eenee (all Ash'aris - being students of Abul-Hasan al-Bahili, the student of Abu Hasan al-Ash'ari) on this subject.

So in the course of discussing this issue, Ibn Hajr rebuts this position of the Ash'aris saying:

And I have mentioned in "Kitaab ul-Eemaan" the one who turned away from all of this [i.e. what al-Baqillani, Ibn Fawrak, and al-Isfaraa'eenee are upon] from its very foundation and who held on to His, the Most High's saying "So set your Face towards the upright religion, Allaah's fitrah (meaning Tawheed) to which He has made mankind to be inclined..." (ar-Rum 30:30) and the hadeeth, "Each child is born upon the fitrah (i.e. inclination to Allah's recognition and Tawheed)..." For indeed the apparent meaning of the verse and the hadeeth is that knowledge (al-ma'rifah) is already acquired on the basis of the fitrah, and that (a person's) departure from that is through what (subsequently) happens to a person, due to his (alayhis salaatu wassalaam), saying "...then his parents make him a Jew or a Christian..."

And Abu Ja'far as-Simnaanee - and he is one of the heads of the Ashaa'irah - has agreed with this, and he said: "Indeed this one of the issues of the Mu'tazilah that remained in the saying of al-Ash'ari and branching off from it is (the saying) that the obligation upon every person is to have knowledge of Allaah through the evidences that point to Him, and that taqleed is not sufficient in this regard."

Commenting on the hadeeth, "I have been ordered to fight the people until they testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah (alone) and until they believe in me and what I have brought..." (Saheeh Muslim), Imaam an-Nawawee says in his Sharh of Saheeh Muslim (1/210-211):

In (the hadeeth) is a clear evidence for the madhhab of the muhaqqiqeen (those verifying what is correct) and the majority amongst the Salaf and the Khalaf that when a person believes in the religion of Islaam with a firm and resolute belief devoid of any doubt, that this is sufficient for him, and he is a believer amongst the Muhawahhideen. [And that] it is not obligatory upon him to learn the evidences of the Theologians and knowing Allaah, the Exalted, through them. [This being] in opposition to the one who made it obligatory and made it a condition of a person being from the the people of the qiblah [and who] claimed that he does not have the ruling [applicable to] the Muslims except through this. And this madhhab is the saying of many of the Mu'tazilah and some of our associates, the Theologians (Mutakallimoon), and it is a manifest error...

What an-Nawawi means is that when a person makes the two testifications, without doubting in them, and believing in them firmly, then his eemaan and belief (i'tiqaad) is valid and sound and is sufficient for him - and thereafter it is not necessary for him to learn the rational proofs of the Mutakallimeen and nor to validate his faith by use of the intellect.

And Ibn Abi al-Izz al-Hanafee, the explainer of at-Tahaawiyyah said (p. 66-67):

اعلم أن التوحيد أول دعوة الرسل، وأول منازل الطريق، وأول مقام يقوم فيه السالك إلى اللَّه -عز وجل- ... ولهذا كان الصحيح: أن أول واجب يجب على المكلف شهادة أن لا إله إلا اللَّه، لا النظر، ولا القصد إلى النظر، ولا الشّكّ؛ كما هي أقوال أرباب الكلام المذموم، بل أئمة السلف كلهم متفقون على أن أول ما يؤمر به العبد الشهادتان، ومتفقون على أن من فعل ذلك قبل البلوغ لم يؤمر بتجديد ذلك عقيب البلوغ

Know that Tawhid (to make worship for Allaah alone) is the first call of the Messengers and the first stopping place on the path, and the first place in which the traveler to Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, stops... and for this reason, that which is correcet is that the first obligation obligatory upon the mukallaf (the one bound by the Islamic obligations) is to testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone. It is not nadhar (to observe with a view to deducing rational proof), nor the intent to observe and inspect, and nor to assume doubt (in one's belief with a view to validating it through rational proof), as is the saying of the lords of blameworthy theological rhetoric. Rather, the Imaams of the Salaf, all of them are agreed that the first thing a person is commanded with is the two testimonials, and they are agreed that the one who does that before reaching puberty is not commanded to renew (the testimonials) after puberty.

And Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) explains what is correct, in Dar' ut-Ta'aarud (8/6-10):

And the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did not call anyone to contemplation (over the creation for deduction of proof for Allah's existence) and nor to the mere affirmation of a creator. Rather, the first thing he called them to was the two testimonials (of faith) and this is what he commanded the Companions.

This is what Ahl us-Sunnah are agreed upon regarding this matter, as for the Mutakallimeen, amongst them an-Nabahani, who is just following the misguidance of the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah, then to them Tawhid revolves mainly around affirming Allaah's existence (and not worshipping Him alone, without any partners), and they make it the first obligation to prove Allaah's existence through the route of intellect (aql), which to them is the greatest foundation in aqidah and the most definitive source for the aqidah.

Finally, it should be pointed out that the intellect has its designated place and it ought be used in reflection and observation in order to increase one's faith (eemaan) and piety (taqwaa), because that is what Allaah calls to in the Qur'an, and the intellect is to be used to strive to understand what has been revealed, but as for making it an independent source of what is claimed to be definitive knowledge in aqidah, then this is from the innovations of the Mu'tazilah, and it opposes what Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah are upon. And the Mu'tazilah innovated this saying based upon the proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" which they and the Jahmiyyah pioneered and in which the Ash'arites blindly followed them, and we have documented this in abundance in scores of other articles on this site.