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 3
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Tuesday, November, 30 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 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 with the paper, from where we left off in the previous article, it might be a good idea to review that article first.

The Pre-Islamic Era, Jewish and Christian "Ash'ari" Mutakallims, Shaykh Philo of Alexandria and Shaykh Augustine of Hippo, Preceding the Theology of the Mutakallimin by Hundreds of Years

So here, this is an interesting and exciting part of this series, so lets drive straight in, so take a seat, relax, let it sink in:

Notes and Commentary

We need to comment on this piecemeal:

What Philo and Augustine saw.

After discussing the use of the theory of predication and Aristotle's categories and being manifested in the theology of both Philo and Augustine with respect to the issue of immutability (not being subject to change), he is now summarizing and presenting the actual details of their theology, things that they agreed upon.

He makes an observation:

Philo and Augustine never abandoned Aristotle's theory of predication, even though they saw that the case of God's immutability tested the resources of that theory. They used the theory to describe a being who, ironically, does not fit the metaphysical assumptions on which the theory rests. Aristotle's theory applies most clearly to substances, the concrete individuals of our ordinary experience, of which biological specimens are the clearest examples. Such substances have essences (specified by genus and differentia), perhaps idia, and certainly accidents, the latter features being involved in accidental change and due, most typically, to the vagaries of the matter composing the substance.

God, however, is a metaphysically simple being, his simplicity being entailed by the notions that he is completely independent of and sovereign over all things.

What he is essentially saying is very close but not identical to what Ahl al-Sunnah say in that Allah's essence is unlike all other essences. Hence, to make those conceptual tools (meaning the use of Aristotelian Metaphysics) to be the framework and platform for discussing the One whose essence can never be understood, and is unlike these essences and their necessities, cannot really be a source of sure knowledge, rather it is speculation.

And it is for this reason that the truth in the revealed Books and from the sent Messengers is to say "We believe in whatever Allaah and His Messenger affirmed for Him, without takyif and tashbih." And as for the saying of misguided god-forsaken wandering strayers, from the Greek and Sabean star and idol-worshipping pagan disbelievers and their conceptual tools and philosophies and Kalaam, then the Believers are not in need of it!

He then says:

The following minimum core to the doctrine of God's simplicity can be found in both Philo and Augustine.

Now you've got to close the door, avoid all distractions and sit down here:

Between the Ilm al-Kalaam of Shaykh Philo the Jew, Shaykh Augustine the Christian - Founded Upon the Conceptual Tools of Aristotelian Metaphysics - and the Ilm al-Kalaam of the Jahmite Ash'ari Heretics Claiming Orthodoxy

So here is that theism, broken down into four points:

(A) God has no physical extension or spatial parts. If he did, he would not be simple, and he would be dependent on the parts for his being as he is.

This is identical to the theology of the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah, Maturidiyyah. It is to speak of Allaah through negations, by negating Jismiyyah (embodiment) from Him. And that is what is in the above statement. It is identical to what you find in the books of the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah. Its a denial that Allah is a composite body with spatial extension. For the Mutakallimin of Islaam, this language is based upon their definition of al-Jawhar al-Fard (the indivisible particle, atomism) which they define as something with no spatial extension - until it combines with another indivisible atom, when it becomes a body (jism), hence anything with extension and bulk is a body (in spatial occupation). The Mu'tazilah were the ones who incorporated Atomism into the proof of huduth al-ajsaam, and to help you understand why:

Coming back to the quotation above:

What Philo and Augustine are really saying is found in the last part of that sentence, "he would be dependent on the parts for his being as he is" and this means that God is free of all those attributes which require Jismiyyah (embodiment, being a body) to exist. Again keep in mind, Aristotle's categories, and keep in mind how Tawhid to the Mutakallimin became one in which the nine categories (a'raad) besides substance (jawhar) had to be negated from Allaah in order to maintain what they presumed to be Tawhid, which in reality is the Tawhid of the Philosophers, not the Tawhid of the Messengers. They [Philosophers and the Mutakallimin and the Mutakallimin amongst themselves] just disputed with each other about subsidiary issues about the names, attributes and actions, whilst being united that the truth does in fact lie in this language, not in the language of the revealed texts which contain nothing but tajsim and tashbih for the benefit of the dumb commoners who would not accept faith unless they were spoken to in this language. So in reality, the hearts of the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah, Maturidiyyah resemble and share with the hearts of the Philosophers, and it is little wonder that after centuries of wrangling around, the later Ash'arites decided to hybridize kalam with falsfah and found no problem in incorporating aspects of it into their books. In fact, al-Taftazani (in Sharh al-Maqaasid), justifies it by saying that the objective behind both kalam and Falsafah is to arrive at the truth and so there is no harm in using a bit of this and a bit of that.

So this first statement is the foundation of the rejection of the attributes by the Philosophers and the Mu'tazilah, and the Ash'arites affirmed some attributes for the essence, and so the Philosophers and Mu'tazilah declared them Mujassimah because this would necessitate Allaah is a body (in order to have attributess) from one angle, and also from another, it necessitates Allaah is composed, since multiplicity of meanings in the essence (i.e. having attributes) meanings multiplicity of essences.

The Proof of Tarkib (Composition)

Also in this statement above from the author, is an indication of the proof of tarkib (composition) of the Philosophers, that of negating parts, and the later Ash'arites, when they saw that the proof of huduth al-ajsaam was corrupt, they adopted this proof. It was Ibn Sina who originated this proof as part of his proof of imkan and wujub (possible and necessary existence). This is the reasoning of the Philosophers and the Mu'tazilah to deny the attributes (multiple meanings in the essence means separate entities or components, and this means composition). Just as it was used by the Ash'arites to reject Allaah's uluww, His being above His Throne. So you see they all take from the same foundation and try to combat Ahl al-Sunnah with it, in their own way, and its origin is not from the revealed Books or sent Messengers, rather it is origin is the aql of a pagan disbeliever, worshipper of stars and idols, one who corrupted many a nation and its theology, hundreds of years before these tail ends of the likes of Philo and Augustine appeared in this ummah. We speak of the resemblance between them here purely in terms of their sharing with each other in these conceptual tools, we can consider them the tail-ends of those from previous religions who also had their Kalaam, and disputed about their Lord, albeit in the presence of a corrupted scripture - unlike the Mutakallimin who dispute about their Lord whilst the scripture is present, pure and unalderated.

Then the author said:

(B) God has no temporal parts. There are no stages to his career, no past, no future. Instead, he is eternal, enjoying the fullness of his life all at once.

Here in (B), and also in (C) we are moving into what are called hawaadith (events), the issue of events in time. The first part of their theology above in (A) relates to negation of incidental attributes requiring a body for their existence, so the Mu'tazilah treated everything (whether it is an attribute, like hearing, seeing) or an action (istiwaa, pleasure, anger) as being an 'arad (incidental attribute). They never distinguished between a'raad (incidental attributes) and hawaadith (events). It was the early Ash'arites who following Ibn Kullaab, denied Allaah's chosen actions which they considered hawaadith (events, occurrences). So what we are seeing in (B) is the negation of hawaadith which is the crux of the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools of heresy.

So the meaning of this part (B) [and also (C) further below] is that Allaah cannot have successive actions in that He made istiwaa after creating the heavens and earth, and that He created the Throne before He created the Preserved Tablet, and that He created the heavens and earth fifty-thousand years after writing down all the decrees, and that He ordered the Angels to prostrate after creating Adam, and that He will arrive and come on the Day of Judgement and that His speech to Moses is other than His speech to Muhammad which are other than His speech on the Day of Judgement to the Believers, or to the inhabitants of Hellfire and so on. This is what is meant, and this is one of the usool of the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah and Maturidiyyah. As we can see it preceded them by 800-900 years (in Shaykh Philo) and 400-500 years (in Shaykh Augustine).

Now as for the reason they did this, in order to prevent Allaah from being subject to time and events as they claim in order to deny embodiment (Jismiyyah) from Him, then this is all ambiguous speech, and it is a topic that bewilders the mind, and they delved it into and this is why some of them got their brains fried and roasted and at the end of their lives lamented over it, and they could not work out which proof was stronger, the universe being originated or being eternal.

Then the author said in outlining the next component of their theology:

(C) God has no accidental attributes. Feature (A) excludes from God all accidental attributes whose exemplification requires embodiment. (C) says something stronger than (A) if there are accidents whose exemplification does not require embodiment. It would be natural to think that, say, knowing that Adam sinned is just such an accident, exemplified by a purely spiritual God. I shall not defend the view here, but I believe that a defender of God's simplicity can argue cogently that although Adam's having sinned is contingent and God knows it, those facts do not confer an accidental property on God.

This again is on the subject of hawaadith (events, occurrences), and whatever was said regarding (B) applies here, since both features (B) and (C) are actually regarding the same topic, and it is what the Mutakallimin refer to as hawaadith (events, occurrences), and by this they reject that Allaah has actions tied to His will and power, such as istiwaa, love, pleasure, anger and the likes.

We also see here the author alluding to a distinction between incidental attributes requiring embodiment (Jismiyyah) and incidental attributes not requiring embodiment. And this kind of represents the point of contention between the Mu'tazilah and the Ash'ariyyah in that how can you affirm attributes which you claim do not necessitate embodiment, like knowledge, hearing, seeing, wish, power, speech, and yet deny others upon the argument they necessitate embodiment (Jismiyyah). The same is said by all factions who were consistent in their positions, be that the Philosophers, Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah who denied all attributes and actions consistently, or be that Ahl al-Sunnah who affirmed all attributes and actions without takyif and tahrif consistently. The author gave an example pertaining to Allah's knowledge to illustrate how someone (who holds onto this theologyof Philo and Augustine) might justify separating between (A) and (C) without this quality (of knowledge) being considered an accidental property. In any case, Shaykh Philo and Shaykh Augustine are clearly denying - upon the language of al-ajsaam and al-a'raad - that Allaah has incidental attributes requiring embodiment and incidental attributes as a whole.

But then along came Ibn Kullaab, entered into this matter, tried to debate the equivalents of those Philoites and Augustinites in this ummah (i.e. the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah), and he was unable to answer them on the issue of Allaah's speech, and their doubt that this necessitates events in Allaah's essence according to them. So he refuted them on everything else, Allaah's uluww and sifat khabariyyah (face, hands, eyes) but could not refute them on this matter. So he innovated the doctrine of kalam nafsee having been forced to reject Allaah has actions tied to His will and power, and then he had to apply this principle consistently and uniformly, so therefore he had to reject other attributes like al-istiwaa, love, pleasure, anger as being tied to Allaah's will, and he took a certain approach in dealing with these attributes, as did the al-Ash'ari who followed his doctrine after leaving the Mu'tazilah. So they said Allaah's istiwaa is not an action of Allaah, but an action that takes place in the Throne, and they said pleasure and anger are synonymous with Allaah's wish (iraadah) or that they are eternal attributes just like life, knowledge, power and the likes. So they took the very approaches towards Allaah's chosen actions that the Mu'tazilah took towards Allaah's attributes, which is saying Allaah's attributes are synonymous with His essence or separate from His essence.

Then the author mentions the fourth feature:

(D) God has an essence, but his essence is not a combination of genus and differentia. If it were, then he would be metaphysically complex and dependent on the genus and differentia for his being what he is.

This language is also from Aristotle, that of genus (a family of things) and differentia (specific elements in that family which have unique definitions). Again, this type of innovated negation not brought by the Prophets and Messengers is a foundation for the Mutakallimin for denying for Allaah what He affirmed for Himself.

In essence, we can say Shaykh Philo of Alexandria was a Jahmite, Mu'tazilite, as was Shaykh Augustine of Hippo, also a Jahmite, Mu'tazilite. And we see here the amazing resemblance between this and the ilm al-kalaam of the Ahl al-Kalaam. This is what the Salaf condemned, this particular ilm al-kalaam of al-ajsaam and al-a'raad (not the genus of Kalaam which can involved defending the truth by the Book and the Sunnah and sound uncorrupted reason). The ilm al-kalaam of the Mutakallimin is founded upon the corrupted reason of a pagan, disbeliever, worshipper of stars and idols, a wandering strayer who corrupted what the Greeks were upon, let alone the Sabeans, Jews, Christians and Muslims. And the Ash'arites are the followers of this ilm al-kalaam, as we have proven in Part 2, in that we see the language of al-ajsaam and al-a'raad as part of the proof of huduth al-ajsaam found in all of their books and it is the very foundation of their theology. The later ones realized its corruption and started including other proofs in their works as well, that of tarkib (composition) and takhsis (specification) which ironically are taken from the very Philosophers they were trying to refute!

So the hujjah is established and it is not possible for any Ash'ari to remain upon his falsehood, and following scholars who came and went, who were clearly in error in what they entered into, is no longer an excuse - it is not permissible to use the likes of al-Bayhaqi, al-Qurtub, al-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar and their likes, because we have already explained how and why they fell into what they fell into. So when that matter becomes clear, there is no longer that excuse of using the speech of those scholars, so all that is required now is for you to announce your repentance, abandon that false theology and all its associated language and to speak with nothing but the pure Book and the Sunnah in both affirmation and negation.