Shaykh Abu Adam Responds Again: Qadhi’s anti-Ash’ari Position.

Though the debate on Ash’ari theology below is not new, it is the first time it has been published in this blog. The more one reads about Yasir Qadhi and his statements, the more one realizes that he is leading Muslims on a path that contradicts the majority of Muslims. Allah Protect us from people like him who attempt to promote their unorthodox, distorted understandings on our Muslim youth!

Below, Shaykh Abu Adam responds to Yasir Qadhi’s maligning of Ash’aris.  As one can see from the listed posts, Yasir Qadhi’s maligning of Ash’aris seems to be a favorite hobby of his. Yasir assumes he has mastered the subject, though a learned scholar like Shaykh Abu Adam is easily able to point to his inaccuracies and heterodoxy without any difficulty whatsoever.

The following is Yasir Qadhi’s response to a string of comments made by Shaykh Abu Adam in the Muslim Matters forum. Because Yasir had closed the comments, he had the last word and prevented Shaykh Abu Adam from responding. Shaykh Abu Adam, however, responded in his own website for all to see. Both can be read below, in full.

YASIR QADHI’S STRANGE VIEWS

Yasir Qadhi said:

Salaam Alaikum

There were numerous miscellaneous issues brought up in the previous comments, I’ll try to answer them briefly. Those that remain unanswered are being dealt with in upcoming articles insha Allah.

– One of the major differences between orthodox Sunni Islam (a.k.a. the Ahl al-Hadith) and the people of kalaam is the issue of theological priorities. The people of kalaam, of all stripes, considered proving the existence of God to be their utmost priority. Hence, they exhausted much of their efforts to this end. Every major theological textbook of the Ash`arites begins with this in mind. And this, of course, is a byproduct of their philosophical inclinations (this issue continues to remain center-stage in modern philosophy classes). The Quran, in stark contrast, hardly devotes any attention to actually proving the existence of God; in fact Allah says, upon the tongue of one of the prophets, “Is there any doubt about Allah?” (Surah Ibrahim, 10). And the Prophet (saw) informed us “Every child is born upon the fitrah; then his parents make him a Jew or Christian” (Sahih Muslim). Hence, the fitrah, which is ingrained in every human, innately affirms the existence of God. It is for this reason that atheism has always been an aberration and minority belief in all societies. Atheism has never been a serious threat to the Muslim ummah, it is currently not a threat, and it never will be a threat. I am obviously not denying that it is possible to find some people who leave Islam and become atheists, but for every one such person, there are thousands upon thousands of Muslims whose problems have more to do with a weakness of Iman, not a lack of Iman.

– The grandiose claim that the Ash`arites “saved” the Muslim Ummah from embracing atheism en masse by using their own philosophical proofs to refute them, while placating to Ash`arite ego, is actually historically and intellectually false. There simply was no serious threat from atheism, and there continues to be no serious threat, simply because man by his nature (fitrah) needs to believe in a Divine Being. Rather, the threat of worshiping other than the True God (i.e., shirk) is actually much more real and pronounced, and it is for this reason that literally thousands of verses in the Quran deal with the problem of shirk, whereas only a handful deal with atheism. And to this day, shirk is a greater problem for the Muslims than atheism (how many Muslims make du�aa to other than Allah, claiming this is a legitimate form of “tawassul”?). I only wish the Ash`arites took on refuting shirk with the same passion and zeal that they do in determining what God “can” and “cannot” be characterized with.

– Neither the “Proof from Accidents” nor the Ash`arite belief in atomism are “Quranic” proofs per se. What I mean by this is that the Quran itself does not make such claims; if someone wishes to read in such elaborate premises and cosmological views into vague verses, then while I would applaud them for their imagination, I would venture that any unbiased reader would concur that the Quran itself does not call to these matters. And the greatest evidence for this is that the earliest generations of Islam (and even the Prophet (saw) himself) did not derive such complex cosmological premises from the Quran. Now, the claim that a certain proof or theory does not contradict the Quran is not the same as saying it is Quranic. Much of what is taught in science classes in our times does not contradict the Quran, but at the same time no one would claim that it is Quranic (meaning, derived from the Quran). With this differentiation in mind!

– The problem then comes that one takes a non-Quranic evidence as a certain fact, and then uses it to deny or distort what is clearly Quranic (in this case, the Attributes of God). Herein actually lies the main contention that the Ahl al-Hadith have with the Ash`arites. The Ash`arites give precedence to what they perceive to be intellectual proofs, claiming that these proofs have greater authority than the texts of the Quran and Sunnah. Both al-Ghazali and al-Razi quite explicitly (and nonchalantly, I might add) state so. But the fact of the matter is that their “intellectual proofs” are merely anachronistic byproducts of Hellenestic debates that occurred in centuries gone by. What is quite poignant in this regard is that all the groups of kalaam, who claim to have such “intellectual proofs”, actually reach “incontrovertible”proofs which are directly in contradiction to one another. What the Mu`tazilites perceived as a “proof” was denied by the Ash`arites as an “impossibility”, and vice versa (this is not to mention the pure falasifa, or even the differences between various Ash`arite schools and Mu`tazilite branches – all of whom posited ‘intellectual proofs’ which are mutually exclusive to one another). Yet the source of both of these groups was the same: what they perceived to be “aql”, or intellect.

– The claim that atomism plays no role in making ta`wil of the Attributes is simply false; perhaps the one who made this claim is not aware of the intricacies of Ash`arite or Mutazilte theology. The very reason why the Ash`arites denied, for example, Allahs nuzool (descent), or istiwa (rising over the throne), is because it clashed with their basic philosophical proof for the existence of God, which is wholly based upon the belief in atomism. For them, motion is an “accident”, and an “accident” by definition must subside in a “body” (which is composed of multiple atoms), and a “body” has been proven to be created. Hence, to ascribe “motion” to God would necessitate, based upon Ash`arite theology, that God was created. For the Ahl al-Sunnah, firstly “motion” is a term that they do not delve into with respect to God’s attributes – neither affirming it nor denying it, as this word or its Arabic equivalents are not used in the Divine Texts. Secondly, the philosophical premises that the Ash`arites use to arbitrarily deny what Allah and His Prophet have quite explicitly affirmed are not premises that the Quran itself calls to. Rather, the Ahl al-Sunnah give greater precedence to the Divine Texts and take what Allah says about Himself without questioning “how can this be so?” for indeed Allah is the One who said, ‘There is nothing like Him’. If there is nothing like Him, we should not compare Him to ‘accidents’ or ‘bodies’ but rather simply accept what He says about Himself.

– The claim that objects have no ta`thir (or “effect”) on other objects is also one that has no basis from Scripture, reason, or even human experience. Rather, Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties, and these properties may in fact effect other substances if Allah allows them to. Once again, this is the “middle position” that the Ahl al-Hadith subscribed to. On the one hand you had the philosophers and natural scientists who claimed that natural causes must take effect. They claimed that, for example, if fire is exposed to cotton in normal circumstances, it is inevitable that the cotton will itself catch fire. The Ash`arites, in their attempt to defend their conception of miracles, went to the exact opposite and claimed that, in fact, fire has no effect in causing cotton to burn. The Ahl al-Hadith claim that natural causes are effective if and only if Allah wills them. Allah can prevent these natural causes from acting, but if He wills, the cause can have an effect. Hence, nothing happens except by the Will of Allah, and Allah is indeed the creator of all things, but this does not negate that Allah Himself has created substances with intrinsic properties. Ibn al-Qayyim, in his magnificent work Shifa al-Alil, discussed this point in great detail, and mentions that the evidences for this simple fact number in the thousands in the Quran. As one example, Allah says numerous times in the Quran that He sends down rain so that gardens and plants may flourish. In other words, Allah Himself states that rain is a direct cause of plants flourishing. There is no rational human being (apart from a few who have been exposed to some type of philosophical rhetoric, such as Ash`arite kalaam) who denies natural causality. Humans the world over, in fact even animals, live their lives with this basic foundational premise in mind. If they don’t eat, drink, sleep, avoid dangers, etc. they will not survive, and all of this is with the Will and Permission of Allah, not independent of it. I will insha Allah talk about this issue in greater detail in a later paper.

Once again, I appreciate all the comments. As stated before, we do not want to start an endless debate, and this thread has been open for a good amount of time. There will be other articles, on many miscellaneous theological issues, where we can continue discussions between the two groups.

I believe that this method (of leaving the comments open for a good amount of time before close them) is the most practical and useful, as all of us have limited times, and a debate between any two established groups will never actually result in a final, decisive conclusion. After ten centuries of debate (the first works written in Ash`arite theology date back to the fourth century – of course the first works that we have on Ahl al-Hadith methodology date back to the second century), it is not possible that we will produce anything new on these pages. The two groups will continue to exist, and it is only a question of individuals deciding which of the two they believe to be closer to the truth.

We will be using the same format for future theological articles (leaving comments open for a while, and then closing them). If anyone has anything to add to this article, please e-mail info at muslimmatters dot org.

I am fully confident that sincere, open-minded readers can conclude for themselves which of the two theologies presented above is orthodox and Scriptural (meaning derived purely from the Divine Texts), and which is not.

Jazak Allah Khayr.
Yasir
(SOURCE: http://muslimmatters.org/2008/04/09/the-role-of-atomism-on-groups-of-kalam/)

SHAYKH ABU ADAM RESPONDS

Yasir said: The people of kalaam, of all stripes, considered proving the existence of God to be their utmost priority.

As if this is something bad. This is because this is the basis for knowing Allah; knowing that His existence is a must. In any case, we are not interested in your opinion, we are interested only in verdicts. Are you saying it is haram? If it isn’t haram, then by what right are you blaming us?

Yasir said: Rather, the threat of worshipping other than the True God (i.e., shirk) is actually much more real and pronounced, and it is for this reason that literally thousands of verses in the Quran deal with the problem of shirk, whereas only a handful deal with atheism. I only wish the Ash`arites took on refuting shirk with the same passion and zeal that they do in determining what God ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ be characterized with.

The Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah are concerned with the problem of shirk. We want everyone to believe that Allah is not a body. There is no difference between someone who believes that Allah is a body, and says “but I don’t know how,” and a Hindu that only worships one idol that he has not seen yet, and says “I don’t know how.” Both are worshiping something physical that they don’t know the shape of, but that has a shape; they are two things of the same kind. Al-Qurtubi in his commentary in the Quran narrates from his Shaykh Ibn Al-Arabi, the famous hadith scholar of Andalus, regarding those who say Allah has a body: “The sound verdict is that they are blasphemers, because there is no difference between them and those that worship idols and pictures. Thus they are requested to repent from this belief, and if they refuse they are killed” (4/14).

What it comes down to is that it is of extreme importance that you actually worship Allah, not just something that you call Allah. You don’t become a believer in Allah by calling an idol “Allah.” This is the main concern of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah, and it is a concern about shirk.

Yasir said: Neither the ‘Proof from Accidents’ nor the Ash`arite belief in atomism are ‘Quranic’ proofs.

First of all, if an argument is valid, then it is a proof, and it does not matter if you feel it is “Quranic” or not, whatever that means. A valid argument is a valid argument and a proof. If you start rejecting some valid arguments for no reason, then you have destroyed the bases for human knowledge beyond what the senses provide. You have sunk to the level of dumb animals. You have taken the view of the Baraahimah, the philosophers of ancient India and Persia. They rejected the idea that knowledge can be achieved beyond what is strictly sensory. This is the heritage of your cow-worshiping neighbors back home.

The belief that there is an indivisible element is clearly stated in the Quran, because it unequivocally implies that created things are not infinitely divisible. Rather, they are finite in size:

وما من غائبة في السماء والأرض إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “there is nothing hidden to creation in the skies or earth that is not in a clear book.” (Suuratu-l-Naml, 75)

As you know, the book is not infinite in size, therefore, the created things in the sky and earth are limited in number, and not infinite.

Another aayah:

لا يعزب عنه مثقال ذرة في السماوات ولا في الأرض ولا أصغر من ذلك ولا أكبر إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “Nothing is hidden from Him, not what has the size of the smallest ant in the Skies or Earth, and nothing smaller or larger than that, and it is all recorded in a clear book.” (Suuratu Saba’, 3)

This aayah tells you very clearly that everything smaller than the smallest ant is recorded, this means that it is not infinitely divisible, because the book is not infinite in size. Further to this is another aayah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “Allah knows the number of all things.” [Al-Jinn, 28]

Another aayah:

وكل شيء أحصيناه كتابا

Meaning: everything has been recorded in a book. (An-Naba’, 29)

At-Tabari said: “It means that all things have been counted and recorded in a book, that is, its total number, amount, and value.” Clearly then, they are not infinite, because that would make all the numbers infinity.

Denying that creation has an indivisible element is also against ijmaa, for Abdul Qahir Al-Baghdadi stated in his “Usul al Din” regarding it : “This is the saying of most Muslims, except An-Nattaam (a Mutazili leader),” and the disagreement of someone like An-Nataam is certainly not considered for ijmaa.

Yasir said: What I mean by this is that the Quran itself does not make such claims (I.e. ‘Proof from Accidents’). And the greatest proof for this is that the earliest generations of Islam (and even the Prophet (saw) himself) did not derive such complex theological premises from the Quran. Now, the claim that a certain proof or theory does not contradict the Quran is not the same as saying it is Quranic.

If the proof is valid, complies with the Quran, and proves something stated in it, then why is it not Quranic? Different times and different people are affected by different types of proofs. The encouragement to think of proofs of Allah’s existence and attributes are very many in the Quran, and they are not restricted to what is verbatim mentioned in the scriptures. An example of such encouragement is in this ayah:

أَفَلاَ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى ٱلإِبْلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

Meaning: “What, do they not consider how the camel was created?”

In light of the ayah, if you want me to restrict how I consider the camel, then you need to show me an explicit text prohibiting me from considering the “how” of the camel. It does not matter if the consideration is simple or not, lucid or not. This is because the encouragement to consider is absolute in the ayah, and cannot be restricted without a scripture text as proof.

What you call “accidents,” which would be better translated as incidents, refers simply to the different events and attributes bodies have, that is, anything with a size. The Quran states that Allah created everything. Does this not include what happens to bodies? This claim of yours is truly puzzling. An example of an ayah from the Quran that encourages thinking about bodies (things with size) and accidents (attributes and actions of things with size) is:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآَيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Meaning: “Verily in the creation of the Skies and the Earth, and the differences of night and day there are signs for those who have perceptive minds.” (Aal Imraan, 190)

The Skies and the Earth are both bodies, because they both have size, and the changes of night and day are “accidents”. Clearly then, seeking proofs of Allah’s existence and attributes in bodies and events is something Quranic of the highest order.

Anyway, using the proofs mentioned in the Quran will lead to the same conclusions as proofs based on the indivisible element, namely that Allah is not like creation. This is because all creation as we know it is either something with size (a body), or an attribute of it (“accident”). If you prove that Allah exists based on them, then you are implicitly saying that Allah is not like that, because you are already arguing that these bodies and their attributes need a creator.

For example, based on the ayah, if you say that night and day are timed orderly, and that this shows that someone orders them, then you must also hold that Allah is not something “timed”. Otherwise you would end up saying that Allah needs a creator according to your original argument.

Moreover, if you say that the skies and the earth are highly ordered structures, and that someone must have ordered them, then you must also hold that Allah is not a structure. Otherwise you would end up saying that Allah needs a creator according to your original argument.

Yasir said: The problem then comes that one takes a non-Quranic evidence as a certain fact, and then uses it to deny or distort what is clearly Quranic (in this case, the Attributes of God). Herein actually lies the main contention that the Ahl al-Hadith have with the Ash`arites. If there is nothing like Him, we should not compare Him to ‘accidents’ or ‘bodies’ but rather simply accept what He says about Himself.

Actually, if there is nothing like Him, then you must deny that what is mentioned in the Qur’aan about the attributes of Allah means Him having a like. Asharis do not deny Allah’s attributes, and they do not compare Allah to accidents and bodies, they deny that He is like them. They deny that His attributes should be quantitative or limited. That is something very different. This does not involve comparison, but knowing the characteristics of creation that makes them need a creator. This is something obvious to even common people, because it simply means that Allah is not limited, not by time and not by place. Rather, He created time and space, and He existed without them before they existed, and He is now as He was before they existed.

Yasir said: Rather, Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties, and these properties may in fact affect other substances if Allah allows them to…..Allah can prevent these natural causes from acting, but if He wills, the cause can have an effect. Hence, nothing happens except by the Will of Allah, and Allah is indeed the creator of all things, but this does not negate that Allah Himself has created substances with intrinsic properties.

Are you telling me that substances can act without Allah having created that act? That they will act unless He prevents them? If you do, then you are a contradicting the Quran, because Allah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

If this is not your opinion, then you don’t know what you are saying, because this is exactly the position of the Asharis. No one is saying that if you put a fire on your hand you won’t burn, what is being said is that the fire itself, the heat that it generates, and the burn that it makes are all separate creations. So whenever fire has heat it means that Allah has created that particular heat of that particular incident, and if it ever burns a hand it is because Allah created the burn in the hand for each and every incident. This is true even if the burning never fails to happen, because Allah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

This comes back to the belief of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah that Allah is the only creator. Only He can bring any event into existence, and no one and nothing else, ever, without exception. Every single movement, every single thought, every single change that occurs is created and predestined by Allah. If you believe this, then it is clear that no substance has actual and real power to affect things, it just appears that way.

So if water is followed by growth of the harvest, then this is because every incident of growth in every single plant has been created and predestined by Allah. If it did not grow, it was not because it was going to grow by itself and then Allah prevented it, but because Allah has not created growth in it. Rather, He created the next periods of its existence as a non-growing plant. The non-growing plant is not remaining this way independently either. Rather, every moment of its existence is created by Allah.

Your statements “Allah is indeed the creator of all things,” and “Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties, and these properties may in fact affect other substances if Allah allows them to” are contradict one another. Why? Because in the first you say that Allah creates all things, and in the second you are saying that properties might affect things. If something happens in this world, however minute, it is because Allah has created it. You cannot say that Allah willed something, anything at all, and did not create it, because:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

 (SOURCE: http://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/responding-to-sheikh-yasir/)

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