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 5|
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Wednesday, December, 01 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Aristotle Philo Augustine Sabeans
We also pointed out that the Mutakallimin never deliberately set out to use this language or these conceptuals tools, but that they fell prey to them because of the proof of huduth al-ajsaam which they made to be the unfalsifiable truth and something which Islam itself depends upon. Then they were forced to adhere to its lawaazim (binding necessities), which means the negation of all of Aristotle's ten categories from Allaah, which explains their language:
He is not a jism (body), nor a jawhar (substance), nor an 'arad (incidental attribute) nor above, or below, or in direction (jihah), or in place (makaan), or in spatial occupation (tahayyuz), nor does He act (with acts attributed to His essence), nor is He affectionate (be pleased, angered, or love), he does not have limits, nor temporal parts .... and so on.
This is called "negative theology", describing Allaah only with negative assertions, and this was what previous nations, like the Sabeans, were upon. They were influenced in this by the philosophy of the Greeks. So we want to follow up those previous articles today by having a brief look at these Sabeans of Harraan.
Again we are going to make use of a third party source, a paper published on the Sabeans of Harraan.
This paper is more to do with how the Sabeans of Harraan acquired what is called "The Classical Tradition" what this refers to is the philosophy and heritage of the early civilizations like the Greeks, Zoroastrians, and prominent individuals like Ptolemy, Euclid and others, and it is not focused on the theology of the Sabeans in particular, but there is a citation in there through al-Kindi.
Here it is:
This is straightforward, and it is the foundation of al-Ja'd bin Dirham and the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in denying the attributes and the foundation of the Ash'ariyyah and Maturidiyyah in denying some of Allaah's attributes and His actions tied to His will and power. Since the attributes in the things caused are evidence of their being originated [upon the proof of huduth al-ajsaam which was first used by these Sabeans and then taken up by all the Mutakallimin as the foundation of their creed], then Allaah cannot be described with them. And Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari affirms that this proof of al-ajsaam and al-a'raad originates with the Philosophers:
And that by which he (alayhis salaam) used to seek evidence through his reports is more clear and apparent in indication than the indication of [the proof] of al-aʿrāḍ which the Philosophers, those who followed them from the Qadariyyah [i.e. the Mu'tazilah], and the people of innovation who deviated from the [the way of] Messengers depended upon in deducing evidence... But those [philosophers] who affirmed the recency of the universe and an originator for it sought proof [for this] through the [evidence of] al-aʿrāḍ and al-ajsām due to their rejection of the Messengers and their rejection of the permissibility of their arrival (i.e. being sent).
Refer to Risālah ilā Ahl al-Thaghr (taḥqīq, ʿAbd Allāh al-Junaydī, Maktabah al-ʿUlūm wal-Ḥikam, 2nd edition, 2002), p. 185, 191. This book of al-Ash'ari is mentioned by Ibn Asaakir in Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (see p. 136).
These Philosophers al-Ash'ari is speaking of are the Sabeans, since amongst them were those who believed in the universe being originated and they devised this proof. When they devised this proof, they rejected all attributes for Allaah and described Him only in negatives "He is not a body (jism), He does not have attributes (a'raad), He is not this, He is not that..." and so on, and hence the characterization of their belief by al-Kindi as:
The world has a cause who has never ceased to be, who is one, not manifold, who cannot be described by means of attributes which apply to the things caused.
Something similar is also mentioned by Ibn al-Nadim in al-Fihrist, he says:
And their saying that Allāh is one (wāhid), no attribute (sifah) is incumbent upon Him and no binding predicate is permitted to (be said of) Him and no syllogisms can be imposed upon Him , as occurs in [the book of Aristotle] Metaphysics...
Refer to Ibn an-Nadīm, Al-Fihrist, Section nine, part one, 'A Description of the Chaldean Harranians Known as the Sabeans.' Al-Fihrist was translated into English by Bayard Dodge in two volumes (London, 1969).
Also, the above statement of al-Ashʿarī regarding the origins of the proof of ḥudūth al-ajsām is to be understood in light of the fact that al-Ashʿarī abandoned the way of the Muʿtazilah and eventually considered this approach of ḥudūth al-ajsām to be an innovation and inferior to the way of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in demonstrating his own truthfulness and the truthfulness of what he brought.
The point of evidence, however, in the above quote is that al-Ashʿarī affirms that this method of demonstrating that the universe is originated has its origins with the Philosophers themselves, and they are the Sabean Philosophers from whom al-Jaʿd and al-Jahm took their doctrines. The reference to the Qadariyyah in the above quote is a reference to the Muʿtazilah, these two terms were synonymous in that time because the Muʿtazilah championed and promulgated the innovation pertaining to al-Qadar. After the Sabean Philosophers, the Jahmiyyah and Muʿtazilah, this approach was taken up by the Ashʿariyyah, Māturidiyyah and also the Mujassimah, Mushabbihah who are the Karrāmiyyah and the Rāfiḍah like the followers of Hishām bin al-Ḥakam.
Shaykh al-Islam bin Taymiyyah said in Minhāj al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah (8/5):
There was no one from the Companions or Tābiʿīn who sought evidence for the origination of the universe through the [proof] of ḥudūth al-ajsām, or who established the origination of bodies with the evidence of aʿrāḍ (incidental attributes) and motion and rest, and that the bodies require them and are not separable from them and that whatever does not precede originated events, must itself be an event, and building this upon the issue of [the negation that] events have no beginning. The first from whom this speech appeared in Islām after the first century was from the direction of al--Jaʿd bin Dirham and al-Jahm bin Ṣafwān, then it was taken up by the associates of ʿAmr bin ʿUbayd [the Muʿtazilah] ...
Closing Notes and Conclusions
We can bring this series to a close now, and much has already been said, we can just re-iterate the facts.
The conceptual tools of Aristotle corrupted many a nation aforetime, from the Sabeans, Jews and Christians, and they used these tools in their theology. The Mutakallimin in Islam also spoke with the same language of those earlier ones in describing their Lord, but they did not initially set out to do so. Rather, they were forced to do so when they adopted the proof of huduth al-ajsaam which came into the Ummah through al-Ja'd bin Dirham, al-Jahm bin Safwan and the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah. It was later taken up by the Ash'arites and the Maturidiyyah. Then they were forced to abide by all of its lawaazim (binding necessities) which is to reject all names, attributes and actions for Allaah. However, they then differed on these lawaazim and exactly what can and cannot be affirmed or denied for Allaah whilst remaining consistent with this proof. This is the real nature of the difference between the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah and Maturidiyyah. Further, they are united with the Philosophers (like Ibn Sinah, al-Farabi and others) that the real truth lies in what is proven by reason (aql) and not what is in the revealed texts (which is nothing but tajsim and tashbih) and what the Mutakallimin actually mean here is the proof of huduth al-ajsaam. Whenever they say, "reason proves this" or "reason denies that", what they really mean is that the proof of huduth al-ajsaam confirms or denies this. So they made this the foundation of their speech concerning their Lord. But whilst they were forced to agree with the type of the language of the Philosophers and Sabeans in describing their Lord, they differed with them and fought them on the matters of the origination or eternity of the universe, revelation and prophethood.