Aristotle of Stageira, Philo of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, the Sabeans of Harraan, the Mu'tazilites of Basrah and Baghdad and the Jahmite Ash'ari Heretics of Today Claiming Orthodoxy - Part 4
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Wednesday, December, 01 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Aristotle Philo Augustine Sabeans

Paper Background: Predication, Immutability, the Ten Categories

We already covered this in the Part 2, but since it is crucial to understanding the matter, we are reproducing it here. The author discussed the issue of predication and immutability. Predication is simply to assign a quality, attribute or property to a thing. And immutability means the inability to change, to not undergo any type of change. Now Aristotle spoke a lot about the issue of predication, and this was a linguistic discussion, however, this was integrally tied to his syllogistic logic, by which the truthfulness of propositions is evaluated. A proposition is simply to say "A is B", such as "the tea is hot." You have probably heard of this before, its like this:

So since the truth and falsehood of propositions was integral to attaining knowledge to Aristotle, the issue of predication in the language, as in assigning qualities and properties to things, was discussed in detail by Aristotle. Likewise, he also laid down what are known as his Categories, which is known as al-Jawhar wal-Arad (substance and incidental attribute) or al-Maqulat al-Ashar (the ten categories). The intent of Aristotle here was to comprehensively categorize everything that can take the place of a subject and a predicate in a proposition. In the proposition "the tea is hot", the "tea" is the subject and "is hot" is the predicate. So he came up with ten categories and everything in the universe is either a substance (jawhar, jism) or nine incidental attributes, and incidental attributes are found only in substances. All of this created the framework upon which his logic and philosophy could be built. These ten categories are presented below:

Once this is clear, what we need to understand is that these aspects of Aristotle's philosophy already affected those amongst the Sabeans, Jews and Christians before it affected the Muslims. And so what we are going to do here is look at the theology of a Jew and a Christian before Islam came (we will look at the Sabeans in a separate article altogether). One is Philo (20BC-50CE) was a Jew from Alexandria who was present around the time Eesaa (alayhis salaam), and the second is Augustine of Hippo (d. 430CE), a Christian. Now, you will see a stark resemblance between the language of their theology and the usool of the Mu'tazilah and the Ash'ariyyah, in fact its identical. the ilm al-kalaam, of the Ahl al-Kalaam is not so original. Rather, it's simply the second-hand, used and abused toy of the past nations (Sabeans, Jews, Christians). Unfortunately, when it came into the hands of the Mutakallimin (Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah, Maturidiyyah), they took it and lapped it up like a kid does a ice-cream, not realizing that there has been many a nation, or scholastic whose already "been there, done that." So pay attention, we will be discussing predication, immutability and negating Aristotle's ten categories from Allaah - which is essentially what the deen of the Mutakallimin is founded upon - as opposed to the way of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, which is:

We can now continue where we left off in the previous article discussing the use of the conceptual tools of predication and the ten categories (al-maqulat al-ashar, al-jawhar wal-'arad) of Aristotle by Philo of Alexandria (d. 50CE) and Augustine of Hippo (d. 430CE). In the previous article we saw what is more or less an identical treatment of theism between Philo, Augustine, and the Mutakallimin from Islam, with identical language. We also pointed out that the route and reason through which these factions (a Jewish Scholar, a Christian Scholar and the Mutakallimin) came to use these conceptual tools were different, even if in the end result, their theological language was the same. For the Ash'arites, they inherited the proof of huduth al-ajsaam (the origination of bodies) through the Mu'tazilah, who took it from the Jahmiyyah. And this was entered in to the Ummah by al-Ja'd bin Dirham who took it from the Sabeans of Harraan, and likewise he took the saying of the Qur'an being created from the Jews (whose theology was already affected by the conceptual tools of Aristotle and who were already saying that the Torah is created).

Shaykh Philo Judaeus, the Jewish Mutakallim, Using Aristotle's Conceptual Tools To Negate Hawaadith (Events) From Allaah

The author of the paper said:

The issues of Allaah's chosen actions (sifaat fi'liyyah, af'aal ikhtiyaariyyah), that Allaah is doer of whatever He wills, is the underlying issue being discussed here, and Philo preceded the Ash'arites by about 900 years and the Jahmites and Mu'tazilah by about 750 years in this matter, using the same language of al-ajsaam and al-a'raad.

There are a number of issues to think about here, all of which are raised by the above paragraph, from them:

How the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah tried to treat the problem of Allaah's actions so as to avoid "events" (hawaadith) in Allaah's essence. So they said that the fi'l (action) is the maf'ul (the result of the act) and there is not in any reality a fi'l (act) established with the faa'il (doer).

But this is how the Mutakallimin tried to deal with Allaah's attributes (the Mu'tazilah) and actions (Kullaabiyyah Ash'ariyyah). Hence, the Ash'arites said al-istiwaa is an act that takes place in the Throne, it is not an act established with Allaah Himself.

Another approach that was taken was to say that the problematic attributes of action are in fact eternal. Hence, love, pleasure, anger are eternal attributes like life, knowledge, power and so on. And this was to avoid ascribing "events" to Allaah, so these are not tied to Allaah's will and power any more. This was the approach of Ibn Kullab.

Another approach was to make some of those attributes of action synonymous with an eternal attribute like wish (iraadah). So the Ash'arites said Allaah's Pleasure and anger are simply Allaah's intent to reward and punish respectively. This was the approach of al-Baqillani.

All of this was to avoid sequential activity, to deny that Allaah has actions tied to His will and power, because that would mean that these actions are hawaadith (events) and this would clash with the proof of huduth al-ajsaam (arguing that the bodies of the universe are originated because they have events, contingencies). The motive for the Mutakallimin in this was that they did not consider it possible for their proof of huduth al-ajsaam to be falsifiable, they considered it to be the absolute truth, and thus they took these approaches towards the revealed texts and opposed the Book, the Sunnah and the consensus of the Salaf.

Returning to the issue, a man is originated not because he is hearing, seeing, speaking (i.e. because he has attributes) or that he has actions which he performs which are different to each other (i.e. because he has actions), but rather, because he was preceded by non-existence. Thus everything that emanates from him or is found in him, of attributes and actions, takes that same ruling. As for Allaah, then He possesses attributes and performs actions, and His actions are not all performed pre-eternally, as some of the Mutakallimin claim (the Maturidiyyah), for this would necessitate upon them to speak with the eternity of the universe or something from it.

Hence, the Throne was created before the Preserved Tablet. And the heavens and the earth were created after the Preserved Tablet, and Allaah made istiwaa over the Throne after creating the heavens and the earth. And all of these are actions established with Allaah's essence, and Imaam al-Bukhaaree refuted the principle of Ibn Kullaab in his Kitab al-Tawhid in the Sahih by proving from the Qur'an, that there is fi'l (act), faa'il (the doer of the act) and maf'ul (that which results from the act) as a refutation of those who denied Allaah has actions established with His essence. And in reality, it is not possible resolve the whole argument of the eternity or origination of the universe [between the Philosophers and the Mutakallimin - which arose because the Mutakallimin denied Allaah's chosen actions upon the proof of huduth al-ajsaam] except by affirming Allaah has actions tied to His will and power and this is what is plain and manifest in the Book, the Sunnah and the irrefutable consensus of the Salaf - unfortunately rejected by the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah, Maturidiyyah - all for the sake of what fundamentally originates from the 'aql of a pagan disbeliever, worshipper of the stars and idols who corrupted the deen of the Sabeans, Jews and Christians, let alone the deen of the Mutakallimin.

Shaykh Augustine of Hippo, the Christian Jahmee, Mu'tazilee on Tarkib (Composition), the Attributes and the Essence

Later in the paper we see:

In this passage we see the issue of tarkib (composition) used by the Philosophers and Mu'tazilah to deny Allaah has attributes which are additional to His essence. When the later Ash'arites, particularly al-Razi (d. 606H) saw the flaw in the proof of huduth al-ajsaam and its underlying premises, he incorporated this proof in order to argue against Ahl al-Sunnah on the issue of al-'uluww and al-istiwaa.

Also we see in this passage the approach of the Mu'tazilah in trying to deal with the attributes and multiplicity in Allaah's essence. They had one of two approaches, the first is to claim the attributes are synonymous with Allaah's essence, as in they are Allaah's essence (and that is what Shaykh Augustine is saying above). The second is to say that His attributes are whatever is external to His essence. Thus, His mercy is only the manifestation of mercy in creation, not that He has mercy as an attribute, and likewise with the other attributes. So they used a combination of these two approaches to deny Allaah's attributes as attributes of the essence. We see in the above the Shaykh Augustine is taking first approach that all of Allaah's attributes are His essence.

Closing Notes

We can now make some closing notes regarding this specific paper which has spanned three parts (see the first and second):

ONE: The conceptual tools of Aristotle in particular, such as his theories of predication and his ten categories (al-jawhar wal-'arad, al-ajsaam wal-a'araad, al-maqulat al-ashar) had already affected the theology of nations prior to Islam, such as the Sabeans, Jews and Christians. We see language and approaches used by the likes of Philo Judaeus (d. 50CE) and Augustine (d. 430CE) which are identical to the language of the Mutakallimin and their particular methodological approaches. Except that the Mutakallimin never set out to use Aristotle's conceptual tools as may have Philo and Augustine. Rather, they were forced into thinking and speaking about Allaah in that manner because they adopted the proof of huduth al-ajsaam (origination of bodies) to prove the universe is originated. This proof was devised by the Sabeans of Harran, as remnants of them still believed in the universe being created. This came to al-Ja'd bin Dirham with his interactions with them and likewise his interactions with Jews from whom he took the saying that the Qur'an is created and that Allah is not above the Throne. As we have indicated, the Jews were already upon that theology of negating a'raad and hawaadith (in other words, they already had "tajahhum" and "i'tizaal" with them) - that's the reason why they said the Torah is created - and this is what al-Ja'd bin Dirham brought into the Ummah, and al-Jahm bin Safwan took it from him and popularized it.

TWO: What entered into the ummah is nothing but the used and broken toys (originally made in Greece) that the Jews and Christians had been playing with aforetime, between 500 to 900 years earlier (in the case of Philo and Augustine), but these Mutakallimin (of this ummah) thought that these toys were the best thing since the horse-wheel-cart, and thought they could aid the religion with them, not knowing that the Jews and Christians had already preceded them in getting their hands on these toys. And how appropriate is the saying of Allaah's Messenger (alayhis salaam) at this point, "You shall certainly follow the ways of those who came before you..."

THREE: The Mu'tazilah came, incorporated the notion of the indivisible particle (Atomism) into it to refine and simplify the proof, and upon all of this they unleased the tribulation of the Arabic Qur'an being created. It was upon the 'aql of a pagan disbeliever, worshipper of stars and idols, and "Jahmites" amongst the Jews (Philo and others, then later, Abaan, Talut, Labeed) [and Christians], that these Mutakallimin unleashed this calamity upon the Ummah until Imaam Ahmad stood in the face of these heretics and subdued them, having to endure the afflictions through four different leaders, over many long years.

FOUR: When the people abandoned the Mu'tazilah and they lost respect in the hearts of the people and the rulers no longer supported them, along came Ibn Kullaab and his faction. He debated with the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, aided something of the truth, but they confused him on the issue of the sifat fi'liyyah, in particular as it relates to the issue of the Qur'an. So he was forced to agree with something of their usool and had to negate all of Allaah's chosen actions, those tied to His will and power. However, Ibn Kullaab did not believe this proof of huduth al-ajsaam to be the ultimate truth, nor that it was obligatory, and this is why he was close in most of his views with Ahl al-Sunnah. The only distinguishing feature was his denial of Allaah's chosen actions. Then when al-Ash'ari left the Mu'tazilah, he took the way of Ibn Kullab and although as a Mu'tazili he believed huduth al-ajsaam to be the foundation for the entire religion, in his post-Mu'tazili days he considered it an innovation. Unfortunately, when al-Baqillani (d. 403H) came, and he is the person who really formalized the Ash'ari madhhab, he opposed al-Ash'ari and laid down this proof for the Ash'arites, taking it wholesale from the Mu'tazilah. These were two very unfortunate incidents in history, Ibn Kullaab getting confused by the usool of the Jahmiyyah, after debating them with pure reason, and al-Baqillani opposing al-Ash'ari in the issue of this proof, which unfortunately, laid down the path for the Later Ash'aris to be forced to recede into the doctrines of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah (by having to remain consistent with all of its lawaazim, binding necessities), even if al-Baqillani himself was closer to al-Ash'ari and had much better views on al-uluww and the sifat khabariyyah. However, whatever Allaah decrees and whatever He wills He does. The above also explains the amazing perspicacity of Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah) in his severe rejection against the likes of Ibn Kullaab, al-Karaabeesee, and al-Muhaasibee. He knew that the door they opened is simply a small crevice, a crack, that would eventually lead, over time, to the people being drawn back into that kufr which is the saying that the Qur'an is created, and how insightful he was indeed - see the Ash'arite Scholars themselves admit this is what they believe (here, here, here, here and here) in agreement with the Mu'tazilah. It is for this reason he is the greatest of the Imaams of the Sunnah without dispute, and it is for this reason that today's Ash'arites make veiled attacks upon him through a variety of deceptive approaches which are too long to mention here.

FIVE: We see how the Ash'arites inherited [through the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah] the 'aql, the conceptual tools, in their theology, of a pagan disbeliever, worshipper of stars, despite being opponents to his followers like al-Farabi and Ibn Sina who were following the beliefs of Aristotle of the eternity of the universe, rejection of resurrection and rejection of prophethood. However, even though they fought these zindeeqs on these subject areas, they actually concurred with them in that the true and real language for describing truthfully what Allaah is and is not, lies in this language of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad and not in what Allaah and His Messenger revealed, which was only for the dumb commoners, so as to not to make them flee from faith. This viewpoint is explicit in both al-Ghazali and al-Razi (see here and here) and they simply followed Ibn Sina in that (see here), having got diseased by his books al-Shifaa and al-Ishaaraat.