How the Philosophers Slapped the Ash'arites Into Intellectual Oblivion and Made Mockery of Their Intelligence - Between the Uluww of Allaah and the Qidam (Eternity) of Allaah
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Saturday, November, 27 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Philosophers Ibn Sina Uluww


Coming to the article now, we need some background, as always, because a lot of these issues can only be grasped if we have a surrounding framework to appreciate what is going on, so here goes:

Recall that the ilm al-Kalaam of the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah, Maturidiyyah is all founded upon a proof called huduth al-ajsaam which they took from the Sabean star and idol-worshipping pagan disbelievers. Now this proof and what is similar to it derives from the language, terminology and philosophy of Aristotle (see this article), and it was first spoken of by al-Ja'd bin Dirham who entered ta'teel (divestment of Allah's names, attributes and actions) by way of it. Then the Jahmiyyah carried it and it was transferred to the Mu'tazilah who were also referred to as "Jahmiyyah" by the Salaf. The Mu'tazilah refined this proof and then it was taken up by al-Baqillanni (d. 403H) for the Ash'arites in the fourth and fifth centuries. Now this proof was used by the Ahl al-Kalaam in order to argue for the universe being originated, and they used a method which in its foundations, in its language, in its terminology, is taken from the very heritage of those Greek Philosophers whose followers [in the Muslim ummah] they sought to refute. Those Philosophers and their followers believed in the eternity of the universe, that the matter of the universe is eternal and has always been there, they denied the concepts of resurrection, revelation and prophethood. So these Mutakallimin (mainly the Mu'tazilah and Ashariyyah) sought to refute them using this proof of huduth al-ajsaam.

So their proof was along the lines that attributes (sifat) incidental attributes (a'raad) and actions (af'aal) cannot exist on their own, they must reside or inhere within bodies. This means that all attributes and actionss are events (came to be after not being) since they require bodies. And because, bodies, meaning all essences we see around us in the universe, can never be devoid of, or precede, the attributes that characterize them or are found within them, this proves they too must be originated (since anything which is never devoid of something that came to be, namely the attribute or the action, must itself be an event, originated). And on this basis, the entire universe itself is made up of a bunch of events, occurrences, happenings (hawaadith). And since we cannot go into infinity in the past, then there must be an Originator to which all events, occurrences eventually return. Now this form of argumenation is borrowed from those Greek Sabean star and idol-worshipping disbelievers who were given to studying the natural sciences and philosophizing about the world and universe, without knowledge, light and guidance, because they were far away from any remnants of Prophethood. And it was inevitable that the language of these Mutakallimin in their description of Allaah become the same as the language of those Greek and Sabean star and idol-worshipping pagan disbelievers - and we have demonstrated that elsewhere in many articles and perhaps the best of what you can read is this article here, as one of many. So when they took this approach, they were forced to adhere to the lawaazim (binding necessities) that follow on from this proof. Hence, to remain consistent, they had to deal with the revealed texts that affirm names, attributes and actions for Allaah. And this really was the birth and impetus for the ta'wil (figurative interpretation) of Ahl al-Kalaam, which is in reality tahrif (distortion). So what they began to do is make figurative interpretations, metaphors of the texts. And thus, we see the famous ta'wils originating with the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah regarding the sifat khabariyyah, the Sifat Fi'liyyah and 'uluww and istiwaa. The "Grand ta'wil Master" was Bishr al-Mareesee al-Hanafi al-Jahmee (d. 218H) and all the ta'wils that were taken up later by the Ash'arites return back to him.

It is crucial for the purpose of this article that you remember this last point, that the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah used ta'wil as a mechanism to help them remain consistent in their proof and to deal with the problematic texts. So they opened this door... keep this in mind or you will miss that upper-cut that is yet to come.

The Eternal or Originated Nature of the Universe

Now, there appeared amongst the Muslims, those who were upon that Greek philosophy and believing in it wholeheartedly, they were the likes al-Farabi (d. 339H) and Ibn Sina (d. 429H), and they believed that the universe was eternal, and that resurrection is not bodily, and the concept of revelation is not really true (its just dreams, imaginations, visions and perspicacity and the likes) and they believed that Prophethood can be acquired - so they were really trying to draw the Muslims to these ideas and merge between the Sharee'ah texts and this philosophy they were upon. So they looked at what the Mutakallimin (Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah) were doing, and they got really peeved, and the reason was this, and this was their thinking:

True philosophy is to deny knowledge of everything, to disbelieve everything, and start off with the assumption of doubt in everything. Then using pure reason, and the principles of logic, you start building knowledge of truth based upon unbiased observation and reflection, and this applies to all sciences. And this is what those Greek Philosophers did, and we are the true inheritors of their heritage. As for these jokers (the Mutakallimin), they have already started out upon the premises that God exists and the revelation is true, they believed first, then they sought to use our tools, our heritage, our language, our terminology, in order to pretend that they are true rationalists and unbiased "introspectors." This is not true philosophy and we are really peeved! They are just a bunch of clowns, playing "wannabe" using our goods, nothing but shysters at best. But... they are trying to use and mimick our goods, our toys, our language, our terminology, and their ilm al-Kalaam is nothing but a cheap Taiwanese rip-off of our philosophy. Our philosophy is the real deal, the true bastion of objective reason, and we are its masters and they are novice pretenders. So since they have opened up the door very nicely for us, by arguing for the originated nature of the universe using our language, our terminology and our heritage, and they were preceded by the Sabeans in that from aforetime, and likewise the Jews and Christians, and they have started distorting the revealed texts for its sake, lets go and play some games and tomfoolery with these pretenders who are feigning reason (aql) and rationality...

So this was the perception of those Philosophers towards them, if you could capture the sentiment of those Philosophers like Ibn Sina and his party, it would be like what we have described above. It was one that had with it the elements of plotting, conniving and scheming against Islam and its people.

But this is how those Philosophers like al-Farabi and Ibn Sina came across, and this is how they were thinking. Alongside that, we certainly do not side with kafirs like Ibn Sina, but when you try to defend truth with tools of falsehood, then shrewd zindeeqs like Ibn Sina are going to disease you and slap you into oblivion, and as you've opened the door for them, they are going to ransack your home too. So this proof that the Mutakallimin were using, that of huduth al-ajsaam, the Philosophers saw the flaw in it, and pointed this out to the Mutakallimin (Ash'arites), so they said, along the lines:

If the universe is originated (and not eternal as we believe it is), then it means that for a period in eternity Allaah was void of action, that it was mumtani' (impossible) for Him. Then all of a sudden for no apparent reason it changed from being mumtani' to being mumkin (possible), and then for no apparent reason or cause, Allāh created the universe with irādah (wish), qudrah (power), kalām (speech) and fiʿl (action), which was previously not possible for Him. And thus the universe came into existence through the coming into being of these attributes [upon the saying of the Karraamiyyah], or the exercising of these attributes [if He already had them upon the saying of the Ash'arites], and since Allaah cannot have a "before and after" or a "previous and subsequent", then it means, according to the proof, that Allaah is also originated, since there must have been some change within Allaah, some reason, cause, or change, that brought about the creation.

And if you say that the universe came into being without the exercising of any attributes or actions in Allaah's essence at the point of creation, that the creation came to be without the intervention of anything of Allah's Kalaam (speech) and fi'l (action) and iraadah (wish) and qudrah (power) at that particular point, without any change in Allaah's essence, rather, it was in pre-eternity that Allaah wished for the creation to come into being at a specific point after a period in eternity, without any reason or cause necessitating why it should have come to be at that particular point after a period of eternity (and not before or after), then in that case, the argument for the eternity of the matter of the universe, in that it is necessitated by Allaah's essence (mujab bil-dhaat), in that it always exists alongside Him, is just as valid, if not stronger and more logical. So this from a rational perspective.

And as for the revealed texts, since you opened up the door of ta'wil of the texts in relation to the greatest pillar of faith, belief in Allaah, and you began to distort those texts and claim they are mere metaphors - [and we don't disagree with you in that, rather our language and your language regarding Allaah is the same by virtue of the fact that you have chosen our heritage and our goods and our language (al-jawaahir, al-ajsaam, al-a'raad) to speak about Allaah and so we are united in that (see here)] - and since we all accept that belief in Allaah is the greatest of all pillars, then if it is acceptable that the revealed texts pertaining to His attributes are just metaphors that do not have any realities to them, - then likewise, we are also going to open the door, and make it even wider, in fact we are going to rip the wall out. So we say that all the texts that mention creation [and resurrection and so on], they are nothing but metaphors and figurative expressions. There was no actual creation of the matter of the universe, and in every place Allaah says, "We created the heavens and earth..." and what is similar to it, and we will treat it just like you treat the verses "...whom I created with my own two Hands" (38:75) and "the Most Merciful ascended over the Throne" (20:5), and "Your Lord will come, and the Angels, rank upon rank" (89:22) and what is like them, they are all metaphors. And we have a much greater right in speaking with metaphors in the matter of creation, resurrection, and revelation because these are not matters greater than Allaah Himself, as belief in Allaah is the greatest of pillars. If metaphor and allegory is allowed for Him, then, by all means, it is even more necessary in the other pillars of faith.

So you get where those Philosophers were coming from, and this precisely the argument of Ibn Sina in one of his books, Risaalah al-Adhawiyyah, and this is how they gatecrashed onto the scene, so they saw those Mutakallimin having a bit of fun, [mocking Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, and ridiculing them, calling Ahl al-Sunnah "Hashawiyyah", and distorting the revealed texts of the attributes claiming it was legitimate "ta'wil", all in order to remain consistent with their corrupt proof for the universe of being originated], and so they thought, "Why not join in the fun" so they came along and said, "If you can have some fun, so can we" and so they, the Philosophers in turn, let loose on the revealed texts and it became a free for all, in came every zindeeq who wanted to harm Islam and the Muslims, and he let loose vanities upon the Islamic texts, beliefs (and rulings) in the same manner in order to erode away the handholds of Islam.

How The Philosophers Gave the Ash'arites A Powerfully Strong Dose Of Their Own [Kalam] Intoxicant

This brings us now to the actual issue, and it sets the scene for the showdown, so here it is then, now notice, this is very short and simple and may not even be noticeable, you have to be quick to catch it, and its a bit like when the two boxers are real close up and the shorter of the two pulls a real fast, short-distance upper-cut, you probably won't see it, but it proves lethal, and so the big fella falls to the ground stone cold, but nobody really saw anything, so its that kind of situation here, so here it is, so this is what the Philosophers said to the Ash'arites:

So you affirm the 'uluww of Allaah the Most High, but you deny Allah is above His creation in the sense of His essence (dhaat), and then you make ta'wil of all of the texts, such as "al-Aliyy" (2:255), and "al-A'laa" (87:1), and "He is al-Qaahir, above His servants" (6:18), and "... He who is above the heaven...", and "To him ascends the goodly word" (35:10), and "They fear their Lord from above them." (16:50), and "They surely did not kill him (Jesus), but Allāh raised him unto Himself." (4:157-158) and what is similar to them, so you say that Allah's 'uluww (highness) is one of rank, status, and domination, not one of His essence, since that would imply direction (jihah), and direction implies place (makaan), place implies spatial occupation (tahayyuz) and spatial occupation necessitates a body (Jismiyyah). So this is clearly rejected, and hence it is necessary to make ta'wil of all those texts to mean uluww of rank (qadr) and domination (ghalabah) and not of the essence (dhaat). And in this, we are in complete agreement with you, because we are all deriving from the same source in this matter (see right here!), and we are united in this against those Hashawi Mujassims [meaning, Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, Ashaab al-Hadith wal-Athar, the blind-followers of revealed Books and sent Messengers].

Then likewise, we say that the affirmation of the qidam (pre-eternity) and taqaddum (precedence) for Allaah, that too is only the qidam of rank, status and domination (qadr, ghalabah), not the qidam and taqaddum of the dhaat (essence), since that would necessitate a body (tajseem, jismiyyah), and so we treat those texts, like "He is al-Awwal (the First)" (57:3), and whatever is similar to it in the texts, we treat them to mean a precedence in rank, status, honor, and domination, not one of the dhaat (essence), just like both us and you say regarding His saying, "...above His servants" (6:18) and "...He who is above the heaven" (67:16) and "...ascended over the Throne" (20:5). This is because Allah is not tied to time and space (according to us and you) and just like He has no "above", "below", "inside the universe", and "outside the universe" then likewise He has no "before" and "after" since saying that something came "before" implies the existence and attribution of the notion of time. And just like your denial of the 'uluww of Allaah being one in His essence is to support your proof of huduth al-ajsaam, then likewise our denial of the qidam of Allaah in his dhaat (essence) is to support our view that the matter of the universe is eternal and that the notion of time does not apply to Allaah. Thus Allah's dhaat (essence) does not precede or come "before" the universe, rather His essence necessitates the existence of the universe (mujab bil-dhaat), in the sense that the universe must exist along with His essence by necessity. And it is only with this view that Tajseem and Jismiyyah can be avoided entirely and completely. And if you object and say "No it is a precedence in the actual essence, self of Allaah otherwise it means His non-existence," then likewise accept it from those Hashawi Mujassims [meaning Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, the Righteous Salaf and likewise, Ibn Kullab and al-Ash'ari and their early followers] who say that "Allaah's 'uluww means that He with His essence is outside of creation, above it, otherwise it means His non-existence."

So either you agree completely with us Philosophers, the true Muwahhideen and become real men, since you have agreed to play game with our heritage, our language, our terminology, and become true and real rationalists, or you agree completely with those Hashawi Mujassims [meaning Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, the Righteous Salaf] and become real men, but either way, don't stand in the middle as emasculated, effeminate, sissified eunuchs, neither here nor there.

And from the above, you can understand why it used to be said:

Indeed the Mu'tazilah are the effeminates of the Philosophers and the Ash'ariyyah are the effeminates of the Mu'tazilah

Meaning that the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah (who share in the proof of huduth al-ajsaam) are just the effeminates, the females, amongst the Philosophers, whose heritage they had taken and were trying to pretend to be real men, but without being bold and daring enought to remain consistent and congruent and go the full way in everything that this proof necessitates and requires. So in reality they are but sissies, pansified eunuchs, in the middle somewhere.

And what the Philosophers are doing here is playing game with the Ash'arites, and the Ash'arites have to allow them this approach. Because the Ash'arites tried to play butch, thinking they had just acquired some newfangled goods, the best thing since sliced bread, their ilm al-Kalaam, and looking on in observation, those Philosophers just simply said:

Yawn, yawn, there's many before you who have "been there done that." Just go and ask Philo [the Jew] of Alexandria and Augustine [the Christian] of Hippo (you must see this article and this article), they were already upon this ilm al-Kalaam and building their theology upon al-ajsaam and al-a'raad, hundreds of years before you shmucks, and even they could not escape from speaking about divinity under the influence of our great master, the first teacher, Aristotle bin Nicomachus. So since you have entered into it too, we are going to play game with you, just like our intellectual ancestors played game with the Sabeans, Jews and Christians before you toddlers even existed.

Note: What we have alluded to in the above paragraph (Philo, Augustine) will be expanded upon a bit more in our forthcoming article on that subject inshaa'Allaah. But this was the short uppercut, and the Ash'arites had to conceal the damage and keep it from view. Because whatever approach the Ash'arites have allowed upon the revealed texts (of distortion through the creative, invented use of language), then every zindeeq who came along, justified his own distortion regarding other aspects of belief (creation, resurrection) and rulings (ahkaam, the sharee'ah) through the actions of those Mutakallimin. And hence it was said in very true words, "Neither the Philosophers did they destroy, nor Islam did they aid."

Closing Notes

When the Ash'arites oppose Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, the Righteous Salaf, the great Imaams of Hadith, Fiqh and Tafsir of the first three centuries, and likewise when they oppose their own forerunners like Ibn Kullaab, al-Muhasibi, al-Qalanisi, al-Ash'ari, Ibn Mahdi al-Tabari and their likes, in the issue of the 'uluww of Allaah over His creation in His dhaat (essence) [in addition to rank, power and domination], a matter established by the Book, the Sunnah, Ijmaa' of the Salaf, 'aql (intellect) fitrah (innate disposition) - and they did that in order to adhere to what was binding upon them from their proof of huduth al-ajsaamm - then they opened themselves up to being toyed with, intellectually mocked and abused by the Philosophers who were lying in wait.

As for that spurious claim of "saving Islam" from its enemies, the reality of the matter is that these Mutakallimin are the very ones who opened the door for those enemies in the first place, so all of this pomp, mutual boasting and bigotry is nothing but false self-aggrandizement. They never aided Islam, rather they simply opened the door for every heretical zindeeq, lying in wait, to come and assault the Islamic texts, beliefs and rulings. And once that door was slammed wide open and the avalanche came in, they were forced to put up a fight, and all they had were the leftovers of the Sabeans, Jews and Christians, the language of al-ajsaam and al-a'raad (see this series), and their proof of huduth al-ajsaam, and so they simply fell into the abyss and went further away from the light of guidance and revelation which they should have clung to in the first place, but which they dismissed as tajsim and tashbih and nothing but reassurances of faith for the dumb and stupid commoners.