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‘Allāmah’s Treatment of the Qirā’āt

Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/allamah-tabatabai-treatment-different-readings-quran/ One of the most extensive and important discussions within Qurānic studies is regarding its variant readings (qirā’āt). The readings are generally discussed within commentaries themselves and even within historical discussions regarding the collection and transmission of the Qurān. Utilizing a 25-page research paper titled Rawish Shināsi Ruyikard ‘Allāmeh Ṭabāṭabā’ī Dar Ikhtilāf Qirā’āt by Muḥamad Khāmehgar of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, we will look at how ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabā’ī treats these different readings in his seminal work Tafsīr al-Mīzān. ‘Allāmah discusses or points out differences in readings in around 160 places. These remarks include the following: Differences in vowels and diacritics on words: 72 times Differences in the type of letters or their quantity: 42 times Differences in the formation of a word, or in its root-word, or in it being singular or plural, or in it being in passive or active voice, or which paradigm from thulāthī mazīd the word is from: 36 times Differences in one or more words being extra: 4 times Differences in a word present in a place of another word: 6 times Differences in a word missing: 0 times Differences in words being moved around: 0 times Differences in a sentence being added or removed: 0 times In the first 3 cases, there is no discrepency between the text of the codex and its recitation. However, in the fourth case when there is an extra word in one of the recitations, ‘Allāmah either rejects it – like in the case of (8:1) يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَنفَالِ which has also been recited as يَسْأَلُونَكَ الْأَنفَال, or he considers it to be an exegesis done in the middle of the verse like in the case of: (20:15) إِنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتِيَةٌ أَكَادُ أُخْفِيهَا لِتُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا تَسْعَىٰ It has been reported that Ibn ‘Abbās and Imām al-Ṣādiq (a) recited the verse as follows: أَكَادُ أُخْفِيهَا عن نفسي. ‘Allāmah considers this addition to be a commentary. In the fifth case where a word is present in place of another word, ‘Allāmah considers five of those instances to be commentaries. One of those instances is a recitation attributed to Ibn ‘Umar, which ‘Allāmah considers to be made up by Ibn ‘Umar himself. The verse is: (65:1) يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ where Ibn ‘Umar replaced the preposition li on ‘iddatihinna and replaced it with a fi qabl: يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ في قبل عِدَّتِهِنَّ. The Reading of Ḥafṣ from ‘Āṣim Some Qurān experts – such as Āyatullah Hādi Ma’rifat (d. 2007) – believe that the only reading that has a sound chain of transmission and all the Muslims have considered it reliable is the reading of Ḥafṣ. Ḥafṣ learned the reading from his teacher ‘Āṣim who learned it from Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (d. 74 AH) who took it from Imām ‘Alī (a). They say that this reading is not based on the personal ijtihād of Ḥafṣ rather it was passed down to him through a transmission which is directly connected to Imām ‘Alī (a) and ultimately the Prophet (p). How strong the argument of the aforementioned scholars is can be investigated in a different article altogether, but what is important to note here is that ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabāī considered the reading of Ḥafṣ like the rest of the readings. He did not believe this reading to have any preference over the other recitations and considers it to be ijtihādī like the rest of them. He simply deems the reading of Ḥafṣ to be the popular reading[1] but did not believe that going against it implies going against the recitation of the Prophet (p) or the Imām (a). Although, we cannot deny that the primary reading employed by ‘Allāmah in his al-Mīzān is that of Ḥafṣ’, he has not preferred this reading over the rest of them in every case. We will look at some of these cases where ‘Allāmah preferred the reading of Ḥafṣ over other recitations and what he based his preference on, as well as cases where he preferred another reading over that of Ḥafṣ’ and what he based his preference on. Preference of Ḥafṣ Over Other Readings In some cases, ‘Allāmah prefers Ḥafṣ over other recitations, not due to the popularity or probative force of the reading, but due to other specified reasons. 1) In (2:222) وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ, ‘Allamah prefers the pronunciation Yaṭhurna يَطْهُرْنَ – which happens to be the popular reading – over Yaṭṭahurna يَطَّهُرْنَ which was how the people of Kūfa recited it, except Ḥafṣ. The reason for this preference is a number of traditions that imply that the recitation is Yaṭhurna, instead of Yaṭṭahurna.[2] 2) In (2:260) فَخُذْ أَرْبَعَةً مِّنَ الطَّيْرِ فَصُرْهُنَّ إِلَيْكَ, the word fa-ṣurhunna has been recited in two ways. The famous recitation of it is fa-ṣurhunna فَصُرْهُنَّ, whereas Abū Ja’far, Ḥamzah, Khalaf and Ruways who narrates from Ya’qūb have all recited this word as fa-ṣirhunna.[3] ‘Allāmah says since this word, when pronounced with a ḍammah, means to cut or chop, it has become muta’addī with the preposition ilaafter it to also take into consideration the meaning of calling something towards oneself.[4] 3) In (10:21) إِنَّ رُسُلَنَا يَكْتُبُونَ مَا تَمْكُرُونَ, the word tamkurūn تَمْكُرُونَ has been recited as yamkurūnيَمْكُرُونَ by some reciters like Zayd who took from Ya’qūb and Sahl.[5] ‘Allāmah prefers the popular recitation citing the concept of grammatical shift (iltifāt) in the Qurān and says that the popular recitation is more eloquent with respect to the meaning intended.[6] Preference of Other Readings Over Ḥafṣ ‘Allāmah’s approach to the different readings of the Qurān and preferring one reading over the other is based on the siyāq (loosely translated as context) of the verses, alibis from the aḥādīth literature, grammatical rules and as well as other factors. That being the case, in some instances we find ‘Allāmah preferring the reading of a reciter other than that of Ḥafṣ’. What is interesting to note is that in no instance does ‘Allāmah say that the meaning signified in the reading of Ḥafṣ is necessarily wrong or incorrect, rather he simply believes that the other recitation is better and more harmonious. As a matter of fact, in one case he even says that both recitations are perfectly correct.[7] At times we find that ‘Allāmah prefers the readings of one of the 7 famous reciters over Ḥafṣ while other times we find him to prefer the readings of one of the non-famous reciters over Ḥafṣ. The 7-famous reciters are: ‘Abdullah b. ‘Āmir al-Dimashqī (d. 118 AH) ‘Abdullah b. Kathīr al-Makkī (d. 120 AH) Āṣim b. Bahdalah (d.127 AH) – whose main transmitter was Ḥafṣ Abū ‘Amr b. ‘Alā (d. 154 AH) Ḥamzah al-Kūfī (d.156 AH) Nāfi’ al-Madanī (d. 169 AH) al-Kisāī (d. 189 AH) Some cases where ‘Allāmah prefers one of these reciters over Āsim’s are as follows: 1) Āṣim and Kisāī have recited the word mālik مَالِك in (1:4) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ with an alif, whereas the rest of the reciters have recited it without an alif – as malik مَلِك. ‘Allāmah prefers the recitation of malikover mālik because it has been added on to a concept of time – yawm al-dīn.[8] 2) In (8:59) وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا سَبَقُوا ۚ إِنَّهُمْ لَا يُعْجِزُونَ the verb la yaḥsabanna لا يَحْسَبَنَّ has been recited with a yā in third-person, but Ibn Kathīr, Abū ‘Amr, Nāfi’ and Kisāī have read it with a tā which would make it a second-person verb. ‘Allāmah prefers the second-person reading not only because it is more popular, but also due to the context of the verses after this one, as they are addressing the Prophet (p).[9] 3) Regarding (48:9) لِّتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُعَزِّرُوهُ وَتُوَقِّرُوهُ وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا, ‘Allāmah says that the popular recitation of this verse pronounces all the verbs in second-person with a tā, but Ibn Kathīr and Abū ‘Amr have recited it in third-person with a yā. He says that the reading of the latter two is more appropriate since it is in line with the context of the verse.[10] In some cases, we find ‘Allāmah preferring the reading of one of the non-famous reciters over that of Ḥafṣ’. For example, in (26:13) وَيَضِيقُ صَدْرِي وَلَا يَنطَلِقُ لِسَانِي all the 7 famous reciters read the words yaḍīqu يَضِيقُ and yanṭaliqu يَنْطَلِقُ in the state of raf’ with a ḍamma, however Ya’qūb b. Isḥāq recites these two verbs in the state of naṣb with a fatḥa (يَضِيقَ and يَنْطَلِقَ). ‘Allāmah prefers the recitation of Ya’qūb because it is more in line with the meaning intended.[11] Not Preferring any Reading Over Another In a majority of cases ‘Allāmah does not prefer one reading over another. Instead, he reiterates that both recitals are correct and justifiable. This also implies that ‘Allāmah does not restrict himself to the recitation of Ḥafṣ in his commentary simply because it happens to be a popular reading or go out of his way to invalidate other recitations simply because they aren’t popular. In fact, it shows that ‘Allāmah considered other recitations to be just as valid and strong as the recitation of Ḥafṣ. As an example, in (2:37) فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِن رَّبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ  Ibn Kathīr recites Ādam in a state of naṣb and Kalimāt in a state of raf’, while Ibn ‘Āmir recites it the opposite way. ‘Allāmah cites both recitations and does not prefer one over another and says that the meaning will remain the same in either case.[12] In (2:126) قَالَ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا, the word umatti’uhu which is on the paradigm of taf’īl, has also been recited as umti’uhu on the paradigm of if’āl. Since both tamtī’ and imtā’ have the same meaning, he refrains from preferring one over the other.[13] In (26:36) قَالُوا أَرْجِهْ وَأَخَاهُ, the word arjih أرْجِهْ has been recited as 1) arji’hu أرْجِئهُ with a hamzahbetween the jīm and the pronoun hā and with a ḍammah on the hā, 2) the people of Medīna and Kisāī and Khalaf recited it as arjihi أرْجِهِ without a hamzah and with a kasra on the hā, and 3) Āṣim and Ḥamzah recited it as arjih أرْجِهْ without a hamzah, but with a sukūn on the hā. After mentioning all the different recitations for this word, ‘Allāmah says that the first two recitations are more eloquent than the third recitation which happens to be the popular one, although all three recitations have the same meaning.[14] In other situations, we find ‘Allāmah not commenting on the different readings at all. Perhaps this was done simply to point the reader to the fact that there exists another recitation that is equally strong and justifiable as Ḥafṣ’. Or perhaps he may have felt that the recitation of Ḥafṣ in a particular verse was not as strong, but did not find enough reason to prefer any of the other recitations over it either. For example, in (2:283) وَلَمْ تَجِدُوا كَاتِبًا فَرِهَانٌ مَّقْبُوضَةٌ he says that the word rihān in this verse has also been pronounced as ruhun which is the plural for rahn. Both words have the same meaning and ‘Allāmah refrains from commenting on them any further.[15] In some cases, even though ‘Allāmah has not preferred any recitation over another, he has made use of the difference in reading to expand on the meaning of the verse. Regarding verse (2:219) يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ he writes that the word kabīr (great) has also been recited as kathīr (a lot). When explaining the harms of alcohol and gambling he says that their harms are both great and a lot.[16] When it comes to the numerous reports in which a recitation has been attributed to one of the Imāms (a), ‘Allāmah takes the same approach as he does with the other readings. If these traditions and the readings do not meet the criteria for acceptance, they are not to be taken. He writes that the Shī’a do not consider rare readings to be probative, even if they are attributed to the Imāms.[17] When it comes to traditions that attribute a certain way of reading to the Imāms (a), he divides these set of traditions into two, narrations that are specifically a reading of a verse, and narrations that are exegetical. Narrations that are specifically a reading of a verse are traditions that are in line with the text of the Qurānic codex and rules of grammar. The readings of the text themselves are then either in accordance with one of the famous readings or against them. Traditions in which these readings are not the same as any of the famous readings are either those in which either the vowel placement is different or the letters of a word is different or something similar to that extent. In these cases, ‘Allāmah treats these readings like the rest of the famous recitations and puts them to the same standard of scrutiny before preferring one over another. As an example, in (13:31) أَفَلَمْ يَيْأَسِ, the famous recitation is a fa lam yay’as, but it has been reported that Imām ‘Alī (a), Ibn ‘Abbās, ‘Alī b. al-Ḥusayn (a), Zayd b. ‘Alī, Ja’far b. Muḥammad (a), Ibn Abī Malīkah and Abū Yazīd al-Madanī all recited it as a fa lam yatabayyan. However, ‘Allāmah says that the famous and accepted recitation is a fa lam yay’as.[18] In a subsequent post, we will look at the role of these different readings and how ‘Allāmah used them to either defend his own interpretation or at times allow multiple meanings for a given verse. Footnotes [1] Al-Mīzān, vol. 7, pg. 271 [2] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 322 [3] Ṭabrasī, Majma’ al-Bayān, vol. 2, pg. 642 [4] Al-Mīzān, vol. 2, pg. 375 [5] Ṭabrasī, vol. 5, pg. 151 [6] Al-Mīzān, vol. 10, pg. 49 [7] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 204 [8] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 33 and 142 [9] Ibid, vol. 9, pg. 150 [10] Ibid, vol. 18, pg. 408 [11] Ibid, vol. 15, pg. 360 [12] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 204 [13] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 426 [14] Ibid, vol. 15, pg. 382 [15] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 668 [16] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 289 [17] Ibid, vol. 4, pg. 476 [18] Ibid, vol. 11, pg. 505

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain


Lubb al-Lubab(The Kernels of Kernels) Part II

Part II A Detailed Description of the Method and Way of Godward Wayfaring My notes on the book's content. I had to reformat and reduce the size of file to meet the specifications of the forum. Hopefully this image will be readable after zooming.




Lubb al-Lubab (The Kernels of Kernels) Part I

My notes on the book's content Here is the link to the book   https://www.al-islam.org/al-tawhid/vol13-no4/lubb-al-lubab-short-treatise-wayfaring-s-m-husayn-husayni PART I A Brief Description of the Realms Preceding the World of Khulus            




Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 6)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – Doctrine of al-Ṣarfah – A Historical Overview (Part 6) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-doctrine-of-al-ṣarfah-a-historical-overview-part-6/ In our previous post, we went over a brief description of the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah. In this post, we want to see what critiques were established against this doctrine by Muslim scholars. I will summarize some of the major arguments against the doctrine and leave out some of the rebuttals which I felt were repetitive and were essentially saying the same thing as another argument. As you will come to realize, some of these rebuttals are impressive and proponents of al-Ṣarfah would need to respond to them accordingly, but some other rebuttals have blatant flaws in them or are based on presumptions that not all proponents of al-Ṣarfah even accepted. Though, I will not be discussing the strength or weakness of any of these rebuttals and will leave it up to the reader to further investigate and contemplate over this very crucial discussion. Scholars have listed out a wide range of critiques on the doctrine, some list up to 12 rebuttals, others 7, and some only 1 or 2. The nature of these rebuttals also depends on who they are being addressed to. As mentioned in the previous post, there are multiple definitions and interpretations of the doctrine itself, so even though some rebuttals may be applicable to all interpretations, many others may only be targetting a specific definition or even a specific proponent of the doctrine. In this post I have sufficed with 8 critiques, combining some of the rebuttals I felt were essentially saying the same thing. Rebuttals 1. If the miracle of the Qurān was something external to it, rather than internal, then God would not have challenged the Arabs to bring something like it. Instead, God would have informed them that He has forcibly prevented them from bringing anything like it. 2. al-Khaṭṭābī[1] (d. 388 AH / 998 CE) and some others argue that even though theoretically speaking the view of al-Ṣarfah sounds valid, its greatest problem is that it goes against the apparent meaning of some of the verses of the Qurān. One of the main verses cited is: قُل لَّئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الْإِنسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَىٰ أَن يَأْتُوا بِمِثْلِ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لَا يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيرًا [17:88] Say, “If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.” These scholars argue that this verse cannot be understood correctly if one were to believe in al-Ṣarfah – which is an external barrier. The challenge in this verse is related to an act that has been described as being exhaustive and a task that requires a lot of effort. Such is the extent of this effort that all of mankind and the jinn would need to gather together to even begin fulfilling it. Despite that, they will fail at it. This implies that the miracle of the Qurān is something internal to it because the notion of al-Ṣarfah – at least one understanding of it – implies that humans have been externally prevented from bringing anything like the Qurān and there is no real motivation or effort required to attempt to bring anything like it. There are other verses in the Qurān that are also cited by different scholars to argue that the miracle of it is innate to it. For example: وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَسْمَعُوا لِهَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ وَالْغَوْا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَغْلِبُونَ [41:26] And those who disbelieve say, “Do not listen to this Qur’an and speak noisily during [the recitation of] it that perhaps you will overcome.” This verse implies that the disbelievers knew the words of the Qurān itself had something miraculous about it, or else they would not have asked others to not listen to it or interrupt its recitation. This is as far as its impact on the disbelievers is concerned. However, in another verse we see that the verses of the Qurān also impacted the believers: اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ [39:23] Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whom He wills. And one whom Allah leaves astray – for him there is no guide. 3. ‘Abdul Qāhir al-Jurjānī[2] (d. 471 AH), Zarkashī (d. 794 AH) in his al-Burhān and Suyūtī[3] (d. 911 AH) all argue that if the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah was true, then as time passes by, people would learn the ability to bring something like the Qurān. As such, it would no longer remain a miracle. This is all the while there is a theological consensus by Muslims that the Qurān is an eternal miracle. Note that one of the presumptions of this rebuttal is that the challenge to bring something like the Qurān has been understood to be limited to the time of the Prophet (p) himself. 4. Those who say that al-Ṣarfah is the notion of God preventing the Arabs from acquiring knowledge required to bring something like the Qurān, then a question remains as to why we do not find any historical reports of Arabs complaining about their lack of knowledge regarding these matters, or why did none of the eloquent ones at the time of the Prophet (p) even attempt to bring anything like it – albeit failed attempts? 5. ‘Abdul Qāhir al-Jurjānī claims that if the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah was correct, then why do we find the Arabs themselves astonished and confused by the eloquence and clarity of the Qurān.[4] This matter is unanimously agreed upon by the historians and numerous historical reports exist describing the shocking state of some of the disbelievers, such as Walīd b. Mughīrah and ‘Utbah b. Rabī’ah, when they heard some of the verses being recited. If the verses were not miraculous, even if they were highly eloquent, this should not have been a reason for them to be shocked and astonished to such a degree, since the Arabs were already well accustomed to highly eloquent speech before the revelation of the Qurān. If the miracle of the Qurān was that their knowledge had been taken away from them, then their astonishment should have been concerning the fact that previously they the ability to produce speech similar to the Qurān, but after its revelation, they were unable to do so. 6. In the previous post, we mentioned that one of Sayyid al-Murtaḍa’s justification for al-Ṣarfah was that the verses of the Qurān are merely a combination of letters and words, something every human is inherently capable of doing. If someone is not able to bring something like the Qurān, it only means that people do not have enough knowledge do so, not that the order of the words itself is miraculous. ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabāī summarizes this argument in his Tafsīr al-Mīzān[5] and then begins a lengthy response to it. I will quote just two excerpts from his response and the readers can refer to the complete rebuttal in the English translation of al-Mīzān available online. He writes: It is a fallacious argument that as the language is a product of human ingenuity, it can never reach a level which would be beyond the grasp or ability of human beings; language, being a product, cannot be more powerful than its producer. The fallacy lies in the fact that what has been invented by man is simple words for particular meanings. But this congruity of the words with their meanings does not teach the man how to arrange those words, how to plan, draft and deliver a talk in the best possible way — in a way that the talk reflects the beauty of the meaning as it is in the mind, and the meaning in its turn becomes a mirror of the reality, remains in complete agreement with the fact. It requires a dexterity in the art of eloquence, an adroitness in elocution; also it depends on sharp intelligence and comprehensive knowledge so that the speaker may be fully cognizant of all aspects of the subject matter. It is this skill and knowledge that differs from man to man, and creates difference between talk and talk in their respective perfection and beauty. … To come back to the main objection: Accepted that language has been made by men. But it does not mean that there cannot be found a piece of literature that is beyond the reach of the very men who made the language. Otherwise, we would have to say that a sword-maker must be the bravest of all the swordsmen, the inventor of chess or lute must be the most accomplished chess-master or lutanist! Āyatullah Jawādī Āmulī in volume 1 of his thematical exegesis[6] offers a similar critique to Sayyid al-Murtaḍa. To summarize his argument, he says that eloquence and clarity of speech is based on three pillars, namely, one’s relative knowledge with respect to what exists, the ability to produce words and use them to signify their specific meanings, and thirdly to be able to use those words collectively in an appropriate fashion to convey a meaning to someone. Humans have complete control over the second pillar, but their command over the first and third pillar is limited. This is because the realities are too many to enumerate and most humans possess only some knowledge regarding them, while others – like the infallibles – may possess all knowledge about them. As for what words should be used and how they should be used, then this goes back to human experience and one’s taste of the language. It does not exist for everyone because it is linked to the domain of the practical intellect and humans are highly different from one another in this regard. This is similar to the skill of writing poetry, which some are excellent in, while others have no ability to write anything poetic. So even if humans coined words for different meanings, these are to be considered tools by which eloquent speech can be produced. It by no means necessitates that they themselves can also produce the highest level of eloquence or that eloquence cannot reach a level of miraculousness. 7.  The doctrine of al-Ṣarfah suggests that the Qurān challenged the people to bring something like it, but if they ever intended to do so, an external barrier would prevent them from it. However, this implies that if a person does not intend to go head-to-head with the Qurān and is not intending on taking on the Qurānic challenge, then there is nothing stopping them from bringing something like the Qurān. This is because the external barrier is for those who intend on challenging the Qurānic miracle. Of course, this rebuttal will only work for those proponents of al-Ṣarfah who believe that the external barrier is limited to those who consciously intend on taking on the Qurānic challenge. 8. From a Shī’ī perspective, one argument against al-Ṣarfah is seeing what the infallible Imāms (a) after the Prophet (p) have said about the Qurān. Some traditions very clearly signify that the miracle of the Qurān was internal to it and not an external barrier. The Imāms never seem to have alluded to the book’s miraculous aspect being that which the proponents of al-Ṣarfah claim. Rather if there is any mention of the Qurānic miracle and its accompanying challenge, their words always seem to imply that it was something innate to it. One such tradition is in volume 1 of Uṣūl al-Kāfī, ḥadīth #20: Al-Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad narrated from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Sayyārī from Abū Ya’qūb al-Baghdādī who said: Ibn Sikkīt asked Abū al-Ḥasan (al-Kāẓim), ‘Why did Allah send Mūsa b. ‘Imrān (a) with a miracle that appeared through his staff, his hand and through tools of magic, and He sent ‘Īsa with the miracle that appeared through tools of medicine, and He sent Muḥammad (p) with means of speech and sermons?’ Abū al-Ḥasan (a) replied: ‘When Allah sent forth Mūsa (a), magic was popular amongst the people. So he brought something against them from Allah which they did not have the capacity to counter. He was given that by which he invalidated their magic and established the truth against them. Allah sent ‘Īsa (a) at a time when serious illnesses existed amongst the people and they needed medical treatment. So he brought something for them from Allah which the people did not have. He was given the ability to bring the dead back to life, cure the sick and the lepers by the permission of Allah and thus, establish the truth against them. Allah sent Muḥammad (p) at a time when oratory and speech were popular amongst the people – and I think he said poetry as well.[7] From the good advice and wisdom that he brought to them from Allah, he invalidated their words and established the truth against them.’ Ibn al-Sikkīt said, ‘I swear by Allah I have never seen anyone like you. What is the proof amongst people today to establish the truth?’ The Imam replied, ‘It is the intellect. Through it, one recognizes those who speak the truth regarding Allah, and thus affirms them, and through it, one recognizes those who lie regarding Allah, and thus negates them.” Ibn al-Sikkīt then said, “This by Allah is the answer.” This tradition implies that the Qurānic miracle was similar to the miracles brought by the previous Prophets (p) as far as it was related to what was popular at the time. Given that eloquent oratory and poetry was a praised skill during the time of the Prophet (p), the Qurān – being the Prophet’s (p) miracle – was related to that and demonstrated its miracle through the very language the Arabs would pride themselves in. From next post onwards, we will start going through significant and influential scholarly figures and expound on their views regarding the miraculousness of the Qurān. We will begin from 4th-century hijrī and proceed from there. Footnotes [1] Bayān I’jāz al-Qurān, published under the work Thalāth Rasāil fī I’jāz al-Qurān [2] Dalāil al-I’jāz, pg. 156 [3] Al-Itqān fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān, vol. 4, pg. 8 [4] Dalāil al-I’jāz, pg. 390-391 [5] For the English translation, see vol. 1, pgs. 127-133 [6] Tafsīr Mawḍū’ī, vol. 1, pg. 165 – available online here: http://www.portal.esra.ir [7] The narrator adds this phrase

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 5)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – Doctrine of al-Ṣarfah – A Historical Overview (Part 5) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-doctrine-of-al-ṣarfah-a-historical-overview-part-5/   From the beginning of revelation up until the end of the 2nd century, the issue of i’jāz (miraculousness) of the Qurān was not a widely discussed topic amongst Muslim scholars. The Muslims before that were in general amazed by the Qurān and the concepts it discussed and expounded on, to such an extent that there never seemed to be a need to get into formal discussions regarding what made it a miracle. Two possible reasons exist for this lack of attention towards this aspect of the Qurān: 1) The Muslims had known that the Qurān is from God without a doubt, thus they did not develop the need to get into questions regarding the precise nature of its text, its sentence structure, its prose and so on. 2) The Muslims considered the Qurān a sacred book, and so they did not put forth any personal opinions regarding it. This is similar to why companions and the tābi’ūn (the followers and contemporaries of the companions) did not engage in extensive exegesis of the Qurān. Formal discussions on the miraculousness of the Qurān began between the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd century hijrī. The earliest group engaging in discussions of i’jāz were the Mu’tazalīs, and thus the earliest formal opinion regarding its miracle also happened to be the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah – proposed by Abū Isḥāq Ibrahīm al-Naẓẓām (d. 231 AH / 845 CE). This was around the same time when dispute over the created nature of Qurān was also taking place between different scholars. Three groups sprung into existence during this period: 1) Those who believed that the Qurān was not miraculous at all. Some proponents of this view were Ibn Rāwandī the philosopher and the Mu’tazalī scholar ‘Īsa b. Ṣabīḥ al-Muzdār 2) Most Mu’tazalīs became proponents of the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah 3) Theologians who believed the miracle to be in the text and very nature of the Qurān – not outside of it In this post, we will go over the second opinion, although due to the extensive nature of the discussion, we can only explain it briefly. Al-Ṣarfah Al-Ṣarfah linguistically means to prevent, discourage, or divert. It has been used in Sūrah al-A’rāf as follows: سَأَصْرِفُ عَنْ آيَاتِيَ الَّذِينَ يَتَكَبَّرُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ [7:146] I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth However, in our technical discussion in the context of the miraculousness of the Qurān, it refers to the concept of God diverting the Arabs away from being able to produce anything like the Qurān. In other words, the Arabs could have brought something like the Qurān, but an external barrier prevented them from doing so.[1] Arabic was the language of the people of the time, they were well familiar with the way it was used and employed. The Qurān was revealed in Arabic making use of the same grammatical foundations popular amongst the Arabs, so then what was it that prevented them from bringing something like it? The doctrine formulated to respond to this question was al-Ṣarfah, but how exactly it worked had remained a matter of dispute. Al-Amīr Yaḥya b. Ḥamzah al-‘Alawī al-Zaydī (d. 749 AH) in his work al-Ṭarāz says there are three possibilities[2] regarding what the proponents of al-Ṣarfah believed in: 1) God had removed all motivation from them to bring anything similar to the Qurān and to challenge it, despite the fact that reasons for why they should have been motivated to do so were present. These reasons range from the Qurān essentially making a mockery of them, exposing their inability to bring something like it, or even discussing their defeat and downfall in the face of Islam. They had every reason to feel motivated to bring something like the Qurān to combat it, but they did not seem to be interested in doing so. 2) They were motivated to bring something like the Qurān, but God had diverted their attention away from the knowledge by which they could have produced something like it. There are two further explanations al-Amīr Yaḥya expounds on as far as this opinion is concerned, but we will suffice with what we have summarized here. 3) They had the motivation and as well as the necessary knowledge to bring something like the Qurān, but God forcefully prevented them from being able to do so. Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat says that it seems it was the second opinion many proponents of al-Ṣarfah believed in and that this is particularly true for the Shī’ī scholar Sayyid al-Murtaḍa – who was a staunch proponent of this doctrine.[3] Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat backs this up by citing a number of scholars, including Ibn Maytham al-Baḥrānī[4] (d. 679 AH) and Sa’d al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī[5] (d. 793 AH). A number of heavy-weights held the opinion of al-Ṣarfah, such as al-Naẓẓām, Abū Isḥāq al-Nuṣaybī, ‘Abbād b. Sulaymān, Hisham al-Qurṭūbī, Ibn Ḥazm al-Andalusī (d. 456 AH) – a Ẓāhirī scholar, Abū ‘Uthmān al-Jāḥiẓ (d. 255 AH) and others. However, for sake of conciseness, we will go over just three scholars. Al-Naẓẓām As mentioned earlier, al-Naẓẓām appears to be the earliest proponent of the view of al-Ṣarfah, though some have also made the claim that it was Wāṣil b. ‘Āṭā (d. 131 AH / 748 CE). In any case, as far as what al-Naẓẓam’s view regarding al-Ṣarfah was, we are not too sure because none of his works are extant today by which we can judge for ourselves, and so all we are left with are quotations from him or what later scholars understood from his words. Due to this, we find that some scholars have said he took on the first opinion regarding al-Ṣarfah, meaning God had simply removed any motivation from them to bring something similar to the Qurān[6], while others such as Ibn al-Zamlakānī (d. 651 AH) suggest[7] it was the second opinion, where God had removed their access to the knowledge by which they could have brought something similar to the Qurān. Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ash’arī (d. 320 AH) in his Maqālāt al-Islāmiyīn[8] explicitly states that it was, in fact, the third opinion al-Naẓẓām was a proponent of. In other words, all three opinions have been attributed to him. Some later scholars argue it was, in fact, the first opinion al-Naẓẓām ascribed to, especially when we see his student al-Jāḥiẓ alluding to it as well. Furthermore, some scholars have explained the difference between al-Naẓẓām’s version of al-Ṣarfah with that of Sayyid al-Murtaḍa’s, which once again leads us to believe that al-Naẓẓām ascribed to the first opinion, because it is widely accepted that al-Murtaḍa ascribed to the second view. Ibn Sinān al-Khafājī Amīr Abū Muḥammad ‘Abdullah b. Muḥammad b. Sinān al-Khafājī (d. 466 AH / 1074 CE) was an Imām Shī’ī scholar of the 5th century hijrī, who was eventually poisoned on the orders of the Amīr Maḥmūd b. Naṣr. In his Sirr al-Fiṣāḥa[9] he comes out as a strong proponent of al-Ṣarfah and even attempts to refute Abū al-Ḥasan al-Rummānī (d. 384 AH / 994 CE) who believed the miracle of the Qurān to be in its assonance and eloquence. In his attack on al-Rummānī, Ibn Sinān says that if one contemplates even a little over the Qurān and the eloquent speech of the Arabs, they will realize that there is not much difference between the two. In fact, someone who is familiar with the grammatical and literary foundations by which it could be claimed that a certain speech was eloquent, they will find phrases and speech amongst the Arabs that highly resembled the Qurānic verses. He says that the miraculous aspect of the Qurān is in the fact that God prevented the Arabs from being able to bring something like it simply by restricting their access to the specific knowledge that would be required to do so. Sayyid al-Murtaḍa Given that Sayyid al-Murtaḍa (d. 436 AH) is one of the greatest Shī’ī Imāmi scholars to ever live, and due to his vast expertise in the various Islamic sciences as well as his unique views in matters of theology, jurisprudence, Qurānic exegesis, grammar and so on, it only makes sense to understand his view on this doctrine. There is no dispute that Sayyid al-Murtaḍa was a proponent of al-Ṣarfah. From amongst al-Murtaḍa’s students, it appears Shaykh al-Ṭūṣi was a proponent of al-Ṣarfah initially, as it is apparent from his commentary on Sayyid al-Murtaḍa’s work Jumal al-‘Ilm wa al-‘Amal, but later retracts his view in his work al-Iqtiṣād bi-Taḥqīq Mabānī al-I’tiqād. His other student Abū al-Ṣalāḥ al-Ḥalabī (d. 447 AH) though, remained on the view of al-Ṣarfah and considered it one of the best explanations for what makes the Qurān miraculous.[10] Most scholars believe Sayyid al-Murtaḍa was a proponent of the second version of al-Ṣarfah – meaning God had divinely prevented access to the knowledge required to bring something like the Qurān. Al-Qutub al-Rāwandī[11] – who was also a proponent of al-Ṣarfah – explains that Sayyid al-Murtaḍa believed that the miraculousness of the Qurān is in the fact that God has prohibited the Arabs from producing anything like it, by preventing them from acquiring the required knowledge to produce something like it. One of the main arguments put forth by him and as well as some other proponents for al-Ṣarfah is as follows: If the eloquence of the Qurān was miraculous, then it would be necessary for it to have a significant difference from what was considered to be the most eloquent speech by an Arab – to such an extent that if these statements were to be placed together, one would not be confused as to which one is the Qurān and which one is the speech of an Arab. This is all the while we find numerous places where the speech of the Arabs resembles the Qurān very much. In fact, we find that there is hardly any difference between some of the shorter chapters of the Qurān and that which is considered the best of Arab poetry and speech. If this was not the case, there would be no need for us to refer to the strong Arab poets and eloquent speakers in order to understand the usage of some of the literary and grammatical devices employed in the Qurān itself. If someone were to respond and say that the view of al-Ṣarfah is against the consensus of the Muslims, and in fact accepting this view leads us to say that the Qurān is not the miracle, rather the act of prevention is the miracle, then it should be known – the proponents will say – that this is not a topic in which you can cite consensus as evidence. Furthermore, the claim that there is a consensus on this matter is itself invalid, because the matter is a disputed one. Secondly, the word miracle has a linguistic meaning and a colloquial meaning. Colloquially – which is what is relevant here and what people use to describe the Qurān – a miracle is something which implies that the person who has come forth with it is truthful in their claim, and the Qurān is a miracle in this sense even if we accept the view of al-Ṣarfah. If someone says the Qurān is not a miracle, what the laymen understand from that is that it is not evidence for the Prophethood of Muḥammad (p) and that people are able to produce something similar to it and then make the claim of Prophethood for themselves. No proponent of al-Ṣarfah says or implies such a thing through their doctrine. Shaykh al-Ṭūṣi summarizes the refutations of Sayyid al-Murtaḍa and the proponents of al-Ṣarfah to some of the explanations given for what makes the Qurān a miracle. For example, those who believe the miracle of the Qurān is in its order and prose and that it is impossible for one to reproduce such order, prose and eloquence in their speech, then al-Murtaḍa’s rebuttal to them would be that the verses of the Qurān are merely a combination of letters and words, which every human is inherently capable of doing. If someone hasn’t been able to bring something like it so far, does not necessarily mean that the order itself is miraculous, but rather it implies that people do not have enough knowledge to do so. This is similar to a person listening to a poet, yet they are not able to produce what a poet produces, not because the poetry in it and of itself is impossible to produce, but because the listener has not acquired the preliminaries required to produce poetry like it. For those who say that the miracle of the Qurān is in its reports regarding the unseen, then even though that is a miracle, but that is not what the Arabs were being challenged on. In fact, much of the Qurān is empty of any reports about the unseen. As for those who say that the miracle of the Qurān is in the absence of any contradictions in it, then once again this is not inherently miraculous, but rather one of the merits of the Qurān. This is because many humans, especially those who have strong memories and are attentive, can produce speech that is not contradictory – and no one says such a case is a miracle. While these are the arguments put forth by the proponents of this doctrine, it should be reiterated that none of them were suggesting that the Qurān is not highly eloquent and literary profound. Rather, their simple point was that it isn’t this aspect of the Qurān which makes it a miracle – it was something external to it. One Additional Argument One additional argument that proponents of al-Ṣarfah will bring are the Qurānic codices of Ibn Mas’ūd and Ubay b. Ka’b.  What is famously agreed upon by the majority of Muslim scholars is that ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ūd did not have Sūrah al-Falaq and al-Nās in his Qurānic codex and in fact, he did not consider them part of the Qurān at all. On the contrary, it is also accepted that Ubay b. Ka’b had two extra chapters in his codex, namely Sūrah al-Ḥafd and al-Khala’. We will not be expanding on the historical discussion concerning these two codices of two of the most prominent companions of the Prophet (p) and scholars of the Qurān – those interested can look into it further, as much discussion exists regarding them. However, we can briefly explain how the proponents of al-Ṣarfah cited these two codices to defend their claim. If the miracle of the Qurān was in its very nature, in its text, in the way its verses are organized and in its eloquence, then how was it possible for someone like ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ūd to not be able to acknowledge this for Sūrah al-Falaq and al-Nās, to the extent that he did not even consider them to be part of the Qurān. If the eloquence and prose of the Qurān were enough to establish its miraculous nature then we would not have seen Ibn Mas’ūd omit these chapters from his codex. On the contrary, if the eloquence and prose of the Qurān was enough to establish its miraculous nature, then Ubay b. Ka’b should have been able to ascertain that regarding al-Ḥafd and al-Khala’ and should have known that these two are not chapters of the Qurān. If anyone is interested in reading a little more on the discussion concerning the codex of ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud, please refer to the transcripts from lesson two and three of Shaykh Ḥaider Ḥobollah’s classes on Sūrah al-Falaq. God willing, in the next post, we will summarize some of the critiques presented by scholars on the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah and why it has not remained a popular position. [1] Al-Itqān fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān, by Jalāl al-Dīn al-Ṣuyūṭī, vol. 4, pg. 7 [2] Al-Ṭarāz, by Al-Amīr Yaḥya b. Ḥamzah al-‘Alawī, vol. 3, pg. 391-392 [3] Al-Tamhīd, by Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat, vol. 4, pg. 140 [4] Qawā’id al-Marām, pg. 132 [5] Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid, vol. 2, pg. 184 [6] This is what Sayyid Shari al-Jurjāni (d. 816 AH) says in his Sharh al-Mawāqif, vol. 3, pg. 112 [7] Al-Burhān al-Kāshif ‘an I’jāz al-Qurān, pg. 53 [8] Maqālāt al-Islāmiyīn, vol. 1, pg. 296 [9] Sirr al-Fiṣāḥah, pg. 89-90 [10] In his work Taqrīb al-Ma’ārif, pg. 105-108 [11] In his al-Kharāij wa al-Jarā’ih, vol. 3, pg. 981-984

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 4)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 4) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-4/ Intellectual-Rational In this approach, the criterion used to establish the miraculousness of the Qurān is intellectualization and reason. One of the things that pushed scholars to take this approach was the significant amount of differences of opinions in the earlier approaches, such as the taste and feel approach, or even the semantic approach, where the standard at times comes across as very subjective. This pushed some scholars to argue for something more general, something that was accessible by a much larger range of people and they found that to be the intellect. Some of the scholars take issue with limiting the miracle of the Qurān in grammar and semantics and say that which is miraculous is that the Qurān contains material that can satisfy one’s intellect whether they are equipped with the grammatical background or not. In fact, this approach argues that the continuity of the Qurān’s miracle can only be explained by it being intellectually approachable and satisfactory. This also resolves the issue of not having to blindly imitate (taqlīd) someone else’s claim to the Qurān’s miraculous nature as one can readily contemplate over the verses themselves and reach this conclusion. These verses include those that take about the realities of this world and one’s life, information about things that the intellect could not have perceived on its own, such as information about past or future events, and more importantly, arguments made for certain theological beliefs, such as God’s Oneness.[1] Elucidation-Presentational (Bayān) The most famous opinion on what constitutes the miraculousness of the Qurān is the approach of elucidation and presentation (al-bayān). The proponents of this view maintain the challenge the Qurān puts forth is wholly related to the way it elucidates different meanings through its verses. Before explaining this approach any further, it is important to know about a division that has existed within the study of Arabic grammar for centuries. The science of ma’ānī, bayān and badī’ are three distinct subjects studied under the overarching science of balāgha. The science of ma’ānī discusses the rules of what makes an expression clear and unambiguous, the science of bayān deals with how any given meaning can be expressed in different ways and as such deals with the use of metaphors and figures of speech, while the science of badī’ deals with the rules of beautifying any given expression. A very simple definition for an expression that can be considered eloquent (balīgh) is one that follows both the rules studied in the science of ma’ānī and bayān, while the rules of badī’ are not a necessary condition. With this brief explanation, what we mean by a presentational approach is that the proponents believed the miracle of the Qurān is rooted in what is studied in the science of bayān. Before the revelation of the Qurān, poetry played an important role in conveying messages. It was during this period that the seven famous Hanged Poems were composed and rhymed prose (saj’) by the Arab fortunetellers (kāhin) were powerful examples of literary expertise. It was then that the Arabs were bewildered when they began hearing the verses of the Qurān, verses that were both meaningful and their presentation beyond what they had ever produced themselves. This was one of the reasons that led the polytheists to accuse the Prophet (p) of being a magician. These attacks were not limited to the Prophet (p) himself, but rather they also attacked the Qurān directly: [25:4] Those who disbelieve say: “This (the Quran) is nothing but a lie that he (Muhammad SAW) has invented, and others have helped him at it, so that they have produced an unjust wrong (thing) and a lie.” [16:103] And We certainly know that they say, “It is only a human being who teaches the Prophet.” The tongue of the one they refer to is foreign, and this Qur’an is [in] a clear Arabic language. As mentioned earlier, scholars formally began looking at the Qurān as a literary masterpiece from 2nd-century Hijri onwards, and from the very beginning, the approach focusing on elucidation was prevalent. Interestingly, a lot of early works found expounding on this view happened to be works written by Mu’tazalī scholars. Abū ‘Abdillah Muḥammad b. Zayd al-Wāsiṭī (d. 309 AH / 919 CE), Abū ‘Ali Muḥammad al-Jubbā’ī (d. 303 AH / 915 CE) and his son Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāyī (d. 321 AH / 933 CE) were from among those who focused on establishing the miracle of the Qurān through its bayān. Abū Muslim al-Isfahānī (d. 322 AH / 934 CE) was one of the earliest scholars – a Mu’tazalī as well – who tried to reconcile the views of al-sarfah and the miracle rooted in the Qurān’s presentation. One of the most popular exegetical works, Tafsīr al-Kashshāf of al-Zamakhsarī (d. 538 AH / 1143 CE), is based on this approach as the author accepted the notion of an ordered-system in the Qurān which was evident through its presentation. Literary Criticism This is not really a separate approach to establishing the miracle of the Qurān but serves as an annex to the method discussed above. The intent here is to explain the historical context in which the Qurān was revealed in to be able to better understand how it has remained a miracle. Many of the Arabs were known to be strong poets and would engage in competing with one another through poetry. Naturally, this also meant that they were critics of one another and would try to expose the weaknesses of their opponents’ poetry whenever possible. It was in this setting the Qurān comes and challenges them to produce something similar – as duels and challenges were a norm amongst the Arab poets – yet they were unable to match the style of the Qurān in this specific challenge. Over the next few centuries, the Qurān essentially became the main criterion by which the sciences of literary criticism were developed, and the quality of expressions and poetry were judged. Scholars would be forced to investigate poetry from the era of ignorance to show the validity of some of the grammatical principles employed in the Qurān, that while were valid, were not commonly used. The Qurānic text also pushed scholars to venture into discussions they had never had before, such as the nature of the Qurān itself, whether its meanings and words were created or pre-eternal, the notion of metaphors, ordered-system, philology and so on. After the revelation of the Qurān, the standards of literary criticism, tropes, phenomenology etc. that were somewhat common amongst the Arab elites, all went through a significant change and their standards were raised. Despite centuries of effort put in to extract grammatical rules and principles of eloquence, it is the fact that no one has been able to produce anything like the Qurān which attests to its miraculous nature. God willing, from the next post onwards, we will begin looking at the view of al-sarfah in more detail and the critiques that have been laid against it. [1] Al-Tamhīd fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān, by Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat, vol. 4, pg. 91

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 3)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 3) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-3/ Semantic – Philological Most Muslim scholars agree that the Qurān was not revealed in the Arabic language without any wisdom.[1] [26:193-195] This is indeed [a Book] sent down by the Lord of all the worlds, brought down by the Trustworthy Spirit upon your heart (so that you may be one of the warners), in a clear Arabic language. [16:103] We certainly know that they say, ‘It is only a human that instructs him.’ The language of him to whom they refer is non-Arabic, while this is a clear Arabic language. These verses seem to show that the Qurān was revealed in Arabic for the mere fact that it is a clear language whose vocabulary is able to convey very precise meanings. From 2nd century hijrī Muslim scholars began exerting all their efforts in trying to understand the language of the Qurān, the words employed in it, the grammatical principles and foundations upon which the chapters were formed and so on. A semantic and philological approach to the Qurān thus looks at the style of the Qurān from the perspective of its vocabulary and the way these words are organized and used in their compound form, in order to attest to its miraculous nature. An exhaustive list of scholars who took on this approach would be too long for this post, but we will go through the opinions of a few proponents anyways. One of the earliest works written expounding on this approach is Majāz al-Qurān by Abū ‘Ubaydah Ma’mar b. al-Muthanna (d. 210 AH / 825 CE). One of his motives for writing the book was because someone questioned him regarding the verse: [37:65] Its spathes are as if they were devils’ heads The questioner insisted that the figurative use in this verse was not something the Arabs were familiar with. In response, Abū ‘Ubaydah cites a line of poetry from Imru’ al-Qays to show that the Qurānic style was in fact in line with what was considered correct and known in the Arabic language. In his work he cites numerous examples of metaphors used in the Qurān and in the general Arabic language – poetry or otherwise – to show that there is little difference between their usage. The book served almost like a textbook for both Arabs and non-Arabs to facilitate their understanding of the Qurān.[2] Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276 AH / 889 CE) was a 3rd century hijrī scholar who in his work Tawīl Mushkil al-Qurān goes on to explain the usage of various words and metaphors in the Qurān. As a philologist, what made the Qurān stand out for him was its composition. In his work, he dedicates a decent portion to discussing the difficult verses of the Qurān, something Abū ‘Ubaydah often referred to as metaphors. Ibn Qutaybah defines these metaphors and figurative verses to be the ways and methods of speech and the modes of handling it. He compares the language of the Qurān with a speech given by an Arab preacher, who delivers a talk in a variety of ways, depending on the place, occasion and audience. The metaphors in the Qurān, however, are superior to those of any human speaker, since the Quran not only has more methods of speech, but it also often uses them all simultaneously.[3]These methods range from metaphors, inversions, ellipsis, abbreviations, repetitions, pleonasms, metonyms, allusions, idioms and so on.[4] This would essentially render the Quranic text untranslatable according to Ibn Qutaybah, because the non-Arabs lack the variety of methods that the Arabic language has at its disposal. He doesn’t just stop there, but even discusses cases where the Qurān addresses a single person with a plural pronoun, or multiple people with singular pronouns, uses a constrained and restricted word to mean something general or uses a general word to mean something constrained and restricted. He argues all of these usages exist in the Arabic language and the Arabs were known to speak in this manner.[5] Abū Sulaymān Ḥamd b. Ibrahīm al-Khaṭṭābī al-Bustī[6] (d. 388 AH / 998 CE) in his Bayān I’jāz al-Qurān is another scholar who was of the view that the key to understanding the miracle of the Qurān was to recognize its coherence, as well as its linguistic & phonetic order system.[7] He argues that the Qurān is a miracle because it uses clear words in the most beautiful of manners, in order to convey the most precise meanings. If a word in a verse were to be replaced with another word that would generally be considered a synonym by laymen, the coherence of the whole verse would be ruined or at the very least its eloquence will be diminished. Artistic Imagery The root cause of this approach can be found in criticism against taking a strictly philological approach to explaining what the Qurānic miracle is. Furthermore, relatively recent discussions in literary criticism raised in the West also pushed some Muslim scholars to look at the Qurān through perspectives that were often not considered in the past. As discussions in linguistics and the general arts developed, a lot of the explanations given by those who were proponents of the philological approach were not convincing enough for all linguists. One of the criticisms laid against the previous approach was its high dependency on the apparent form of the Qurān, while not addressing its immense use of artistic imagery and its psychological effects on the listener. Amongst classical scholars, very few scholars approached the Qurān through this perspective, and even those who did allude to it in some parts of their works were not necessarily trying to establish the miraculous nature of the Qurān to it. For example al-Rummānī (d. 384 AH / 994 CE) in his al-Nukat fi I’jāz al-Qurān, Abū Hilāl al-‘Askarī (d. 395 AH / 1005 CE) in his al-Ṣanā’atayn, and Ibn Abī al-Aṣba’ (d. 654 AH / 1256 CE) in his Badī’ al-Qurān and Taḥrīr al-Taḥbīr were some scholars who alluded to this aspect of the Qurān in certain areas of their works. One of the prominent scholars who brought this approach to light was Sayyid Quṭb al-Dīn (d. 1966 CE), in two of his works, namely al-Taṣwīr al-Fann fi al-Qurān and Mashāhid al-Qiyāmah fi al-Qurān. In these works, Quṭb tried to bring out the aesthetics, imagination, and as well as the elegance of the Qurān’s storytelling, with its deep psychological dimensions.[8] Dr. Ṣubḥi al-Ṣāliḥ (d. 1986 CE) in his Mabāḥith fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān also expounds on this dimension and considers it an independent factor in determining the miraculousness of the book. The famous professor ‘Āisha ‘Abd al-Raḥmān (d. 1998) – who wrote under the pen name Bint al-Shāṭi – in her al-I’jāz al-Bayānī lil-Qurān, Bakrī Shaykh Amīn in his al-Ta’bīr al-Fannī fi al-Qurān, Ḥanafī Muḥammad Sharaf in his I’jāz al-Qurān al-Bayānī bayn al-Naẓariyyah wa al-Taṭbīq, ‘Umar al-Salāmī in his al-I’jāz al-Fannī, Muḥammad ‘Abdullah Darrāz in his al-Naba al-‘Aẓīm and Fāḍil al-Sāmarāī in his al-Ta’bīr al-Qurānī all write regarding this dimension of the Qurān that expand on its imagery and symbolism. All aforementioned proponents of this approach believe that the miracle of the Qurān is in its artistic imagery and that is what astonished the Arabs of the time and left them speechless. Some of these individuals and their works will be dealt with in more detail in future posts. In the next post, we will look into the rational-intellectual approach and an approach that considers the miracle of the Qurān to be in its elucidation. [1] A small number of contemporary Muslim scholars, who also often happen to be reformists, will argue that the Qurān is in Arabic simply because it was revealed in Arabia. Otherwise, there is nothing special about the language itself – they claim – and as a matter of fact if the verses were to be revealed in, let’s say Greece in the Greek language, it may even have been more precise. [2] Abu Ubaidah’s “Majaz Al-Qur’an” as the Beginning of a New Trend in the Practice of Tafsir, by Mamedova K. [3] Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qu’ran, by Issa J Boullata, pg. 278 [4] Ibid [5] Tawīl Mushkil al-Qurān, by Ibn Qutaybah, pg. 20-21 [6] The present-day name for al-Bust is Lashkargah – a city in Southern Afghanistan [7] This is a reference to a principle known as al-naẓm – it will be explained further in future posts [8] Sayyid Qutb: The Life and Legacy of a Radical Islamic Intellectual, by James Toth, pg. 45

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 2)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 2) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-2/ In this post, we will begin looking into six different approaches scholars have put forth to explain how the miraculous nature of the Qurān can be attested. Taste and Feel This approach says that in order to sense the beauty of a text, one must develop the ability to differentiate between good and bad speech. This taste and feel can either be attained by living in a certain environment, alongside making use of one’s intellect and emotions, or it can be attained by learning the principles of speech used by a group of people in any given environment. A person with such experience would eventually develop the ability to critique speech which isn’t up to par with the language constructs laid down by any given group of people. In other words, in order to experience the miracle of the Qurān, one would be required to develop a taste of the Arabic language. Ibn Khaldūn alludes to this in his work: Something of it may be understood by those who have a taste for it as the result of their contact with the (Arabic) language and their possession of the habit of it. They may thus understand as much of the inimitability of the Qur’an as their taste permits. Therefore, the Arabs who heard the Qur’an directly from (the Prophet) who brought it (to them) had a better understanding of its (inimitability than later Muslims). They were the champions and arbiters of speech, and they possessed the greatest and best taste (for the language) that anyone could possibly have.[1] Based on this approach, the miraculous nature of the Qurān was first and foremost realized by the Arabs living at the time of the Prophet (p). Perhaps not every Arab living around the Prophet (p) was on the same level of literary expertise, but many of them would have had a strong affinity with the language. Hence, we see the polytheists discouraging and preventing others from even simply listening to the Qurān: [41:26] The faithless say, ‘Do not listen to this Qur’ān and hoot it down so that you may prevail [over the Apostle].’ Perhaps they were fully aware of the consequences simply listening to the Qurān could have had on a person, as they would have been able to experience and feel the beauty of the verses. One of the scholars who was a proponent of this view was Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. al-Ṭayyib al-Bāqilānī (d. 403 AH/1013 CE). He has dedicated a whole work on the subject, titled I’jāz al-Qurān, in which he claims that anyone who has a strong feel for the language will be able to tell that the Qurān is a miracle the moment they hear its verses. Through this, he also critiqued one of the prevailing theories at his time which claimed that the Qurān was only a miracle for the Arabs living during the time of the Prophet (p). He considered the miracle of the book to be rooted in the way its verses are organized and its high degree of eloquence. In his work, he explains the difference between poetry, rhymed prose and other technicalities regarding speech generally studied in Arabic rhetoric and eloquence and then goes on to say what preliminaries need to be understood in order to understand the miraculous nature of the Qurān.[2] Below is a summary[3] of what he puts forth in his work over the course of 20 pages: 1) The literary style of the Qurān along with varying forms is beyond the prevailing literary styles in Arabic literature. 2) Arabs had no literary legacy that might be equated with the Qurān in its rhetoric so much as it might have preserved the beauty of style as well as the length in the measurement as that of the Qurān. 3) The Qurān interacted a variety of subjects ranging from the orders and the prohibitions, the promises and the warnings, to the stories and the historical events; all this was brought in the style unmatched by the best selection of the prose and poetry. The poets and the orators might do excellence in any one or few subjects. The Qurān, in contrast, performed excellently in all the subjects simultaneously. 4) We find the kinds of expression varying in the writings of dignitaries and celebrities even though they interact a single subject especially when they move from one idea to the other. The Qurān, in contrast, combines all the varying dimensions and brings them out in a method that demonstrates them as a harmonious unit. 5) The literary style of the Qurān is not only higher than the style of the human being, but it also supersedes the style of the Jinn cited by the Arabs. 6) Different styles of expression available in Arabic literature like bast (the elaboration) and ījāz(the conciseness); jam’ (the hold together) and tafrīq (the separation); isti’ārah (the metaphor) andtasrīh (the clarification), etc. These styles are, however, higher and more impressive as well as more communicative than others if compared with. 7) Composing the words and sentences in a novel idea is difficult than composing them in a familiar one. The Qurān interprets the newer thoughts in a method inaccessible to the human being. 8) The excellence of the order and exaltedness of the rhetoric incorporated in the Qurān exhibits when any word of the Qurān is borrowed to be accommodated in any prose or poetry and attracts the attention of the reader or listener forcefully. 9) The Alphabets in Arabic are 29 in number, and the number of chapters that being with the disjointed letters total 28. 14 letters of the Arabic Alphabet have been used in these disjointed letters and signifies that the miracle of the Qurān is through the organization and ordering of these letters. 10) The language of the Qurān is convenient, and its meaning may be easily understood, and no abstruse word or construction disturbs them. But there is no scope for the human style to be in conformity with the Qurānic one. Numerous other scholars agreed that the Qurānic miracle is one that is to be experienced, and not one that can be simply described for others. One would need to acquire the taste of the language and only then would they be able to attest that it is a miracle. Someone like Ibn Sinān al-Khafājī (d. 466 AH / 1073 CE) in his Sirr al-Faṣāḥah, al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538 AH / 1143 CE) in his al-Kashshāf, al-Sakkākī (d. 626 AH / 1229 CE) in his Miftāḥ al-‘Ūlūm, and others all point towards this literary nature of the Qurān being miraculous in it and of itself and that its attestation is dependant on one’s feel and taste of the language. In fact, al-Khafājī argues that even if one happens to be a proponent of the theory of al-ṣarfah, one would still need to possess a strong familiarity with the sciences of Arabic rhetoric and eloquence and an affinity with the language in order to even enter the discussion concerning the miracle of the Qurān. In our next post, we will give an overview of another approach taken by scholars, which though remains within the realm of linguistics, but is concerned more with the semantics of the Qurānic text.   [1] The science of syntax and style and literary criticism, in The Muqaddimah, of Ibn Khaldūn. Translated by Franz Rosenthal [2] I’jāz al-Qurān, by Abū Bakr Muḥammad bin al-Ṭayyib, pg. 51-71, ed. Al-Sayyid Aḥmad Ṣaqir [3] Translation is taken from The I’jāz al-Qurān: A Study of the Classical Scholars, by Obaidullah Fahad pg. 18-19 – with minor changes made by myself

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 1)

I have been uploading posts on my own personal blog (IqraOnline.net) regarding the miraculousness of the Qurān (I'jāz al-Qurān). These are posts where I have tried to avoid technical jargon as much as possible and the posts are also not super lengthy either. I am writing these for a very general audience - especially those who have absolutely no information regarding the subject - to get introduced to the matter. I have decided to put up these posts on the ShiaChat Blog as well since it may attract readers that are not following my blog already. Feel free to share feedback and comments, although I cannot promise responses to all or any of the comments due to other priorities. ------------------ Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 1) What follows is the first of a series of posts going over the discussion on the miraculousness of the Qurān. I will try to keep the posts as simple and non-technical as possible so that non-seminarians can benefit as well. This of course also means I will have to leave out a lot of details. The information is being taken from a few different works, but the overall outline is being taken from the work Sayr Tarikhi I’jāz-e Qurān by Sayyid Ḥusayn Sayyidi. That the Qurān is a miracle, is a belief not disputed by the Muslims. The belief remains a central pillar for them and denying such a belief could possibly render the book irrelevant. What remained contested, however, was the nature of its miracle. What aspect of the Qurān was miraculous? What was understanding its miracle dependant on? Was the miracle in the way words were employed or in the meanings they implied? It was these questions that forced Islamic scholarship to discuss these various aspects of the Holy Book and provide explanations. Before looking at the miraculous aspect of the Qurān as explained by Muslim scholars over the centuries, what needs to be known is that no book revealed on a previous Messenger has been deemed a miracle. This is all the while different Prophets (p) were given miracles, yet these miracles remained of an empirical nature. Even though numerous empirical miracles have also been attributed to the Messenger of Islam (p), it appears that the Qurān – if it is to be considered an everlasting miracle – is not merely an empirical miracle, rather there is an aspect to it which demands intellectualization. As human intellectual capacity grows and their knowledge with regards to their selves and their surroundings increases, the Qurān is still meant to remain a miracle. As such, while most miracles of the Prophets (p) ceased to exist after a certain period of time, or with the demise of a Prophet (p) himself, the miracle of the last Messenger (p) is considered to be everlasting and accessible by all those who come after him (p). Another major difference between the Qurān and other miracles, as pointed out by Ibn Khaldūn in his al-Muqaddimah, is that unlike other Prophetic miracles, the Qurān is revelation itself. This is all the while other miracles demonstrated by previous Prophets (p) or even Prophet Muḥammad (p) himself were not divine revelation. Though these and other qualities are what makes the Qurān stand out, the question regarding what constitutes its miraculous aspect remains to be explained. The opinions of Muslim scholars with respects to the Qurān and its miraculous dimension can be divided into two very general categories. Firstly, those who believed that the miracle of the Qurān is not in its text, but rather it is something external to it. Secondly, those who believe that the miracle is contained within the text of the Qurān itself. The first opinion upholds the view that what makes the Qurān miraculous is not its literary style and nor its text, rather the great poets and eloquent individuals of the time were literally rendered incapable to produce anything like it. This incapacitation was bestowed upon them through Divine interference and it was this external aspect that makes the Qurān a miracle. This view is famously known as al-ṣarfah and we will get into it more in subsequent posts. The second opinion – which constitutes the opinion of the majority – is that the miracle of the Qurān is contained within the text itself. Some of the scholars in this camp argue against the view of al-ṣarfah saying such a view would mean that the Qurānic text is not any different than the books revealed upon previous Prophets (p). However, what do the scholars in this second camp understand the miracle of the Qurān to be? We can narrow down their opinions into four general notions: 1) Its eloquence 2) It being clear and understandable 3) Its organization and style 4) Its reports regarding the unseen and absence of contradictions The Challenge A second aspect of any miracle is its accompanying challenge. Āyatullah Jawādī Āmulī explains how the Qurān puts forth this challenge to mankind: If this book is not the word of God, then it is the word of a human. If it is a word of a human, then since you are also a human, bring forth something like it. If you are able to bring something like it, it will prove that the book is the word of a human. If you are unable to bring something like it, it will prove that it is not the word of a human – and it being a miracle will be shown, subsequently proving the claim of Prophethood and the message.[1] The Qurān puts forth its challenge in a number of verses. We will list them below: [17:88] Say, ‘Should all humans and jinn rally to bring the like of this Qur’ān, they will not bring the like of it, even if they assisted one another.’ [10:38] Do they say, ‘He has fabricated it?’ Say, ‘Then bring a sūrah like it, and invoke whomever you can, besides Allah, should you be truthful.’ [11:13] Do they say, ‘He has fabricated it?’ Say, ‘Then bring ten sūrahs like it, fabricated, and invoke whomever you can, besides Allah, should you be truthful.’ [52:33-34] Do they say, ‘He has improvised it [himself]?’ Rather they have no faith! Let them bring a discourse like it, if they are truthful. [2:23-24] And if you are in doubt concerning what We have sent down to Our servant, then bring a sūrah like it, and invoke your helpers besides Allah, should you be truthful. And if you do not—and you will not—then beware the Fire whose fuel will be humans and stones, prepared for the faithless. There are a number of points that can be extracted from these verses. 1) The earliest chapter in which a challenge is put forth is Sūrah al-Isrā, a Makkī chapter revealed during the final years of the Prophet (p) in Makkah. The last chapter in which we find a challenge is Sūrah al-Baqarah, which was revealed soon after the Prophet’s (p) migration. This shows that the challenges revealed in the Qurān were during the time period when the polytheists had increased their pressure on the Prophet (p) up until his migration to Medīnah. 2) All the verses are addressing the polytheists and in context of establishing the truth of the Prophet’s (p) message. 3) What they are being challenged on is different, at times being asked to bring something like the Qurān itself, or 10 chapters like it, or even just 1 chapter. It thus appears that the challenge put forth to the Arab polytheists of the time is to bring something like the Qurān, in terms of its prose, literary style and eloquence. In the next post, we will look at six different approaches scholars have taken to identify the ways by which the miracle of the Qurān can be identified and experienced. [1] Tafsīr Mawḍū’ī Qurān, vol. 1, pg. 138 – by Ayatullah Jawādī Āmulī Source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-1/

Raising Maryam - A quiet place

Just went to the cinema to see this with Maryam: We went last week, but the time we went it was on a small screen and she wanted a bigger one, so we came back without seeing it. Tonight it was on one of the cinema's bigger screens. It's a 15 rated film in the UK, so technically she's not allowed. But I felt breaking the rules was ok. There's no unIslamic content and the dramatisation is pretty amazing. Yes, there are 'Alien' type creatures involved. But this really is an innovative treatment of the genre. Family weren't too keen on me taking her, but I am sure she'll remember the experience for many years to come. And, yes, the audience was very quiet.

Allahu Akbar

Imam Ali (as) asked, "If you knew the meaning of the words of the call to prayer, you would laugh little and weep much. The statement "Allah is the Greatest" has many meanings.   When the muezzin says "Allahu Akbar" it refers to His Eternity, His Sempiternity, His Infinity, His Knowledge, His Power, His Omnipotence, His Forbearance, His Munificence, His Generosity, His Bounty, and His Pride. When the muezzin says "Allahu Akbar" he proclaims that the Creation and the Command belong to Allah. He proclaims that creation came about as a result of His Will. He proclaims that He is the First of the First and He has always existed, and that He is the Last of the Last as He will always exist. He proclaims that He is the Manifest, who cannot be perceived, and that He is the Hidden, who is not subject to limitations of any sort. He proclaims that He is the Ever-Lasting, and that everything but Him will perish.   The second meaning of "Allahu Akbar" refers to the fact that He is All-Knowing, the All-Informed, who knows everything that has occurred and everything that will occur, even before it occurs.   The third meaning of  "Allahu Akbar" is that He is All-Powerful over everything. His power extends over everything. He is powerful due to His Power, and the Potent One over His Creation. He is Powerful in Essence, His Power embraces all things. When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.   The fourth  "Allahu Akbar" refers to His Forbearance and Generosity. He forbears as if He were unaware of the sins, pardons as if He did not see the sin, and covers with mercy as if He had not been disobeyd. He does not hasten punishment out of His Generosity, Forgiveness, and Forbearance.   Another meaning of "Allahu Akbar" is that He is Generous, Ample-Giving, and the Most Munificent. The other meaning of "Allahu Akbar" is to negate His Shape, and that Allah is Greater than any of His Attributes. Verily, those who describe Allah describe him on the basis of their own ability and not according to His Might and Majesty. Exalted is Allah, the Elevated, the Great, from what the attributes perceive as His Attributes.    Another meaning of "Allahu Akbar" refers to the fact that Allah is the Most High and Exalted. He is Self-Sufficient from His Servants. He is not in the need of the deeds of His Creation. [When in the end of Adhaan when muezzin recite final two Allahu Akbar, Imam Ali says...]   As for his statement "Allah is the Greatest" [Allahu Akbar] it means: Allah's Kindness towards His Creation is greater than anyone can possibly conceive. It refers to His Kindness towards His Servants through answering their prayers; His Kindness towards His Servants who obey Him, and who obey His Legal Guardians; His Kindness towards His Servants who servers Him, who preoccupies himself with Him and His Remembrance, who loves Him, and who befriend Him; His Kindness towards His Servants who finds tranquility in Him, who trusts Him, who fears Him, who puts his hope in Him, who yearns for Him, who accepts His Commands and Decrees, and who is pleased with Him.   The second time that [Allahu Akbar] is said it means: Allah's Kindness towards His Creation is so great that it cannot possibly be conceived. It refers to His Kindness towards His Friends, His Punishment of His Enemies, the extent of His Pardoning, His Forgiveness, and His Bounty towards those who answer His Call, and the Call of His Messenger. It also refers to the extent of His Punishment and His Humiliation of those who deny Him and who reject Him." from Kitab al-Tawheed.

Abu Nur

Abu Nur


st. 20: lost feathers

"Indeed Allah taught me and He taught me well"* *"ان الله ادبنی فاحسن تادیبی"
During these thousands of years, God tested me frequently until I got permission to return to Him. Now, I am going to fly; but how can I do it without my wings? Everytime I committed a sin, I lost one of my feathers. I must find the feathers and rebuild my wings. I found a feather at the foot of the Rocky Mount and another feather in a rivulet, floating in the water. One feather was close to the Mirror of Truth and many feathers were around the Square House. I am going to fly towards paradise... Towards paradise?!... No!...Somewhere higher...much higher than paradise. Somewhere that even Gabriel cannot go...I need to make my wings stronger than Gabriel's. I am going to fly to Qab-e Qawsain...To Qab-e Qawsain and maybe closer**   Footnotes: * a narration from the prophet (s) ** surah Najm: 8. Then he came near, and hovered around. 9. He was within two bows’ length, or closer.   ------------------------------ کاروانی از ملائک تا به عرش ردشان کرده فلک را نقش نقش
میزبان بی نظیری شد بهشت از برای مردمان خوش سرشت   تا بیاید بهر دیدار خدا کرد روح خویش را از تن جدا قیدها و بندها را باز کرد تا به اوج آسمان پرواز کرد چهره اش روشن تر از مهتاب شد آفتاب از خجالت آب شد   اینک از منازل تاریک و ظلمانی نفس عبور کرده و از خود به سوی خدا مهاجرت میکنم...
ان الله ادبنی فاحسن تأدیبی؛ خداوند مرا تربیت نمود و چه نیکو تربیت نمود!
در این چند هزار سال پروردگار مرا به اموری فراوان امتحان فرمود تا اینکه سرانجام توانستم جواز عروج به سوی او را اخذ کنم. آیا رخداد خوشی که بهار خبرش را به من داده بود، همین نبود؟
اینک عزم پرواز دارم ولی پرنده که بدون بال نمیتواند پرواز کند حتی اگر در قفس برایش گشوده باشد.
 باید چاره ای اندیشید. برای بازگشت به موطنم باید به سوی آسمان پرواز کنم. باید بالهایم را پیدا
هر بار که گناهی میکردم پری از بالهایم جدا میشد. باید پرها را پیدا کنم تا بتوانم بالهایم را بسازم. پری را در پای کوه سنگی یافتم و پری را در جویباری، روان بر روی آب. پری را در کنار آینه حقیقت و پرهای بسیاری را پیرامون خانه چهارگوش
میخواهم به سوی بهشت پرواز کنم... به سوی بهشت؟! نه! نه! به جایی بالاتر، خیلی بالاتر، جایی که حتی جبرئیل هم نمیتواند به آنجا راه یابد. باید بالهایم را قدرتمندتر از بالهای جبرئیل بسازم... میخواهم به سوی قاب قوسین پرواز کنم... به سوی قاب قوسین و شاید هم نزدیکتر*   * ثم دنی فتدلی. فکان قاب قوسین أو أدنی

st. 17: Satan's death

در عالم حشر, تابنده رخش هر که نکرد گوش, بر اهریمن زشت کاخی است بهر او, فاخر, باشکوه پرده اش از حریر, وز طلایش خشت باغ آن پر گل, فصلش همیشه بهار در کنارش هیچ است, ماه اردیبهشت
... Part 2: This was Satan's last trick which didnt work. He said disappointedly: do you remember that once I gave you some helpful advice? I replied: yes. He said: so you owe me a lot! Now, ask God to forgive me! Gabriel appeared and told Satan: If you wish God to forgive you, prostrate before Human. Satan said: I will never do it. When Human was not my enemy, I didnt agree to prostrate before it. How can I do it now while it is my enemy?! Gabriel said: Once, when you lived in heaven, you heard that, in the near future, one of the worshippers would be punished and cast out of heaven. At that point, you prayed for everyone but yourself. You were so proud that you didnt think that you yourself could be the worshipper who would be cast out of heaven. Satan began crying. And I remembered him laughing while I was crying in the court. Satan became weaker and weaker until he died among the ruins of his palace. Then his corpse, as those of his followers, caught fire and burnt to ashes. And the earth swallowed the ruins of his palace. Satan died; on that day when I decided to never sin; on that moment when he became completely disappointed in me.

st. 16: blind lady and her cane

He said: migration is not moving from one place to another one but it is moving from yourself to God and God is at infinity so your journey will last for ever. چشمهایت دیگر نمیبینند؟ باشد, اشکالی ندارد چشمهایت خسته اند, خوابیده اند, فقط خوابیده اند گریه را ول کن, غم مخور, آرام باش پیداست در چشمهایت هفت رنگ رنگین کمان, جایگاهت آسمان خورشید نور دیده ات, ماه هم تاج سرت پایداری و صبوری, در پی نوری, ولی در درونت روشن است نوری, آری تو همان روشندلی دیدی اشکالی ندارد؟ ....
.... I said: I am a traveller. Who are you? She said: I am a seeker. I am looking for someone who can wake up my eyes by God's will. I asked: Cannot your eyes see? She replied: No. They are asleep! I asked: Why?! She replied: I lost someone whom I loved and then I cried so much that my sight went.
I asked: How we can find the person whom you are seeking? She replied: Hoopoe has just told me that it had seen this person hereabout. I said: Hoopoe?! I know it! How kind and loyal it was! She asked: How do you know it?! ... She asked: where was your rendezvous? I replied: under ziziyphus tree. She asked:... ... ... She asked: are not you the same person who cleansed God's house from idols? ... She asked: Are not you the same person who didnt agree to reside in Satan's paradise? ... ... She offered her cane and said: This is an extraordinary cane. Its power is not from magic but it is a special blessing given to it by God. Use it whenever you feel you are in danger. I asked: how? She said: just throw it on the ground. I asked: do you know Satan? She said: yes, he is your enemy. I said: I am going to kill him.
She said: so you must never sin. Only in this way, can you kill him. ...

God = A Body Unlike Other Bodies?

كان من غلمان أبي شاكر الزنديق، وهو جسمي ردي He was a student of Abi Shakir the Zindiq and a wretched corporealist - Sa’d b. Abdallah al-Qummi (d. 301) was not a fan of Hisham   A Body Unlike Other bodies Would not considering God to be a body be likening Him to his creatures (who happen to be bodies)? It is to avoid this that Hisham formulated his compromise as demonstrated in the report below: محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عن محمد بن إسماعيل، عن علي بن العباس، عن الحسن ابن عبدالرحمن الحماني قال: قلت لابي الحسن موسى بن جعفر عليهما السلام: إن هشام بن الحكم زعم أن الله جسم ليس كمثله شئ، عالم، سميع، بصير، قادر، متكلم، ناطق، والكلام والقدرة والعلم يجري مجرى واحد، ليس شئ منها مخلوقا فقال: قاتله الله أما علم أن الجسم محدود والكلام غير المتكلم معاذ الله وأبرء إلى الله من هذا القول، لا جسم ولا صورة ولا تحديد وكل شئ سواه مخلوق، إنما تكون الاشياء بإرادته ومشيئته من غير كلام ولا تردد في نفس ولا نطق بلسان Muhammad b. Abi Abdillah – Muhammad b. Ismail – Ali b. al-Abbas – al-Hasan b. Abd al-Rahman al-Himmani who said: I said to Abi al-Hasan Musa b. Ja’far عليهما السلام: Hisham b. al-Hakam asserts that ‘Allah is a body - there is nothing like Him. All-Knowing, All-Hearing, All-Seeing, All-Powerful, Master of Speech, Speaker. Speech, power and knowledge are of the same type (essential attributes), nothing of them is created’. He (the Imam) said: Woe be upon him! Does he not know that a body is limited, and that speech is distinct from the Speaker. I seek refuge in Allah and disassociate to Allah from this doctrine. (He is) Not a body nor a human form. No delimitation (applies to Him). Everything apart from Him is created. The things are brought into existence by His intention and will, without speech, or deliberating in Himself, or intoning by tongue.          This indicates that while Hisham maintained that God was a body he tried to escape the error of Tashbih (likening God to His creatures) by defining God as a body incomparable to any thing else and therefore beyond imagination. While we should affirm that He is a body (because God is something) we cannot describe the body further. This makes it clear that all the lurid anthropomorphic descriptions attributed to him are false. In fact, he was a severe opponent of some of the traditionalist among the Shia and the school of Hisham b. Salim which relied on spurious narrations to ascribe Human form (shape) to God i.e. they understood ‘God creating humans in His image’ literally.   أبي، عن البزنطي، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: قال لي: يا أحمد ما الخلاف بينكم وبين أصحاب هشام بن الحكم في التوحيد؟ فقلت: جعلت فداك قلنا نحن بالصورة للحديث الذي روي أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله رأي ربه في صورة شاب! فقال هشام ابن الحكم بالنفي بالجسم. فقال: يا أحمد إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله لما اسري به إلى السماء وبلغ عند سدرة المنتهى خرق له في الحجب مثل سم الابرة فرأى من نور العظمة ما شاء الله أن يرى، وأردتم أنتم التشبيه، دع هذا يا أحمد لا ينفتح عليك منه أمر عظيم My father – al-Bazanti – al-Ridha عليه السلام who said: O Ahmad, what is the difference between you and the followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam concerning Tawhid? I (Ahmad) said: May I be made your ransom - we hold the position of ‘the human form’ because of the report which is narrated from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله that he saw his Lord in the form of a youth! While Hisham b. al-Hakam denies that and upheld ‘the body’. He said: O Ahmad, when the Messenger of Allahصلى الله عليه وآله  was made to ascend to the heaven and reached the ‘Furthest Lote tree’, the veils were rent for him the size of a needle’s eye, and he saw of the Light of sublimity what Allah wished him to see. But you seek by this Tashbih (ascribe an image to him). Leave this O Ahmad, lest something dreadful befall you on account of it.   Hisham’s views came to be summed up in the famous dicta: He is a body unlike other bodies (هو جسم لا كالأجسام)   An Example of Hisham’s Argumentation None of Hisham’s written works, including his Kitab al-Tawhid (كتاب التوحيد), are available to us. This makes it difficult to speak of his thought as a whole. Instead, we have to rely on fragmentary evidence, such as the report below, to provide insight into his mode of argumentation. This is done with the caveat that generalizations must be avoided because the narrators might not be conveying the nuance of Hisham’s complex system accurately. Furthermore, Yunus b. Dhabayn is a particularly unreliable narrator (accused of Ghulu) and could very well be biased against Hisham. محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عن محمد بن إسماعيل، عن الحسين بن الحسن، عن بكر بن صالح، عن الحسن بن سعيد، عن عبدالله بن المغيرة، عن محمد بن زياد قال: سمعت يونس بن ظبيان يقول: دخلت على أبي عبدالله عليه السلام فقلت له: إن هشام بن الحكم يقول قولا عظيما إلا أني أختصر لك منه أحرفا فزعم أن الله جسم لان الاشياء شيئان: جسم وفعل الجسم فلا يجوز أن يكون الصانع بمعنى الفعل ويجوز أن يكون بمعنى الفاعل فقال أبوعبدالله عليه السلام: ويحه أما علم أن الجسم محدود متناه والصورة محدودة متناهية فإذا احتمل الحد احتمل الزيادة والنقصان وإذا احتمل الزيادة والنقصان كان مخلوقا قال: قلت: فما أقول؟ قال: لا جسم ولا صورة وهو مجسم الاجسام ومصور الصور، لم يتجزء ولم يتناه ولم يتزايد ولم يتناقص، لو كان كما يقولون لم يكن بين الخالق والمخلوق فرق ولا بين المنشئ والمنشأ لكن هو المنشئ فرق بين من جسمه وصوره وأنشأه، إذ كان لا يشبهه شئ ولا يشبه هو شيئا Muhammad b. Abi Abdillah – Muhammad b. Ismail – al-Husayn b. al-Hasan – Bakr b. Salih – al-Husayn b. Sai’d – Abdallah b. al-Mughira – Muhammad b. Ziyad who said: I heard Yunus b. Dhubyan saying: I entered in to see Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and said to him: Hisham b. al-Hakam holds a grave position. I will summarize it for you in a few words - He claims that ‘Allah is a body, because there can only be two things: ‘body’ and the ‘action of a body’. It is not possible for the Maker to be defined as an action, but it is permissible to define him as an actor’. Abu Abillah عليه السلام  said: Woe be upon him - does he not know that a corporeal body is limited and transient (comes to an end), and that a human form is limited and transient. When he allows the possibility of limits (bounds) then he has allowed the possibility of increase and decrease, and if he allows the possibility of increase and decrease then that one is a created. He (Yunus) said: What should I believe? He said: Not a corporeal body nor a human form. He is the embodier of bodies and the fashioner of forms. He has no constituent parts nor does He perish. He does not increase nor decrease. If He were as they say then there would not be any difference between the creator and the created, nor a difference between the originator and the originated. However he is the originator who differentiated between those whom he made into a body, and others to whom He gave form and those He originated, for nothing is like Him nor is He like anything.  To Recap: Hisham’s view was that God is ‘something’ and as such ‘an existent body’. As a body, God can be a carrier of ‘characteristics’, namely His attributes (Sifat) which, are neither He Himself nor are they not He Himself; therefore, they have no independent existence and according to their nature are action. Or put somewhat differently: there is nothing except bodies and their action (fiʿl). But action is also always caused (fiʿl); for this reason God cannot be action (fiʿl). Therefore, He is a body. One can also turn this the other way round; action, can only come forth from a body; therefore, God must be a body.   The Influence of Abu Shakir al-Daysani The argument above is so close to what is attributed to Abu Shakir al-Daysani that a link between the two cannot be avoided. Consider the words of the latter reproduced below (from Qadi Abd al-Jabbar’s Mughni): وحكى عن أبي شاكر انه ... يثبت الحركة ويزعم أنها صفة للتحرك لا هي هو ولا غيره وأنكر ان تكون شيئا او تكون لا شيء وقال ان التغاير والقول بأنه شيء لا يقعان الا على الأجسام والحركة ليست بجسم He held that there is action (movement) and maintained that it is an attribute of acting (by the Actor) and is neither identical with the latter (the Actor) nor different from Him. He would neither concede that it is something nor that it is nothing. By way of explanation he said: Mutual difference and being designated as ‘something’ are only valid for bodies; action, however, is not a body. Note the same dichotomy between body and the action of a body, as well as the notion that only a body can be referred to as ‘thing’. It is not surprising then to encounter a report that makes their association explicit: علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن العباس بن معروف عن أبي محمد الحجال، عن بعض أصحابنا، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: ذكر الرضا عليه السلام العباسي، فقال: هو من غلمان أبي الحارث يعني يونس بن عبد الرحمن، وأبو الحارث من غلمان هشام، وهشام من غلمان أبي شاكر الديصاني، وأبو شاكر زنديق Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Ahmad – al-Abbas b. Ma’ruf – Abi Muhammad al-Hajjal – one of our companions – al-Ridha عليه السلام. al-Ridha عليه السلام mentioned al-Abbasi and said: He is one of the students of Abi al-Harith, that is Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman, and Abu al-Harith is one of the students of Hisham, and Hisham is one of the students of Abi Shakir al-Daysani, and Abu Shakir is a Zindiq. This example of shared language should not be taken to mean that Hisham was a blind-follower for he was a theologian in his own right. Hisham sought to re-frame the statements of the Imam into a coherent system while interacting with other thinkers of the time. Proof of this can be demonstrated by the fact that he authored the book Radd ‘alal-zanadiqa (كتاب الرد على الزنادقة) refuting Abu Shakir and his peers. In fact, the main influence of Abu Shakir on Hisham was confined to his theories on the natural world, what we might label ‘physics’. His theory of the interpenetration (mudakhala) of bodies corresponds, as is known, to the dualist belief in the mixture of light and darkness. Hisham’s support of this theory entailed the rejection of atomism in favour of infinite divisibility of matter and the thesis that bodies may pass from one place to another without moving through the intervening space (tafra).      Who was Abu Shakir? It is appropriate at this juncture to delve a bit more into this enigmatic person. Abu Shakir figures in many debates with Imam al-Sadiq in our literature. The historicity of these encounters cannot be confirmed. He is presented as a proto-Atheist who doubts the createdness of the world. The most popular question he is supposed to have asked the Imam was whether God could fit the whole world in an egg without enlarging the egg or making the world smaller.   Abu Shakir has been labelled a Zindiq. The exact connotation of this term is open to debate as it lacks a precise definition and has been used in different contexts over time. The word generally means apostate or freethinker but can also have a much more precise meaning of ‘Manichean’ (followers of Mani). The latter was a religious movement well-known for its Dualist cosmology as a model for explaining the world i.e. the idea of two principles which ‘mixed together’ and caused everything to emerge from them. In this case, the latter interpretation seems better supported in light of the fact that Abu Shakir has been referred to with the title ‘al-Daysani’. The Daysanites were distant followers of one called Bardesanes (Ibn Daysan) who died six years before Mani was born. Ibn al-Nadim says that Bardesanes ‘was called Daysan after the river near which he was born’. Bardesanes (d. 223) had indeed lived in Edessa as ‘the son’ of the Daysan which flowed through the city and occasionally overflowed its banks. His school lived on in Edessa into the late 7th or early 8th century. Bardesanes was a major influence on Mani and his followers became virtually indistinguishable within the larger Manichean tradition. All these streams subscribed to variations of the same dualist cosmology. Abu Shakir lived in a Kufa that was a boiling pot wherein diverse traditions mixed. It was a mileu without rigid boundaries between different sects and where borrowing was rampant. What were seen as heresies and persecuted by certain rulers were tolerated by others. Abu Shakir became infamous for his polemics and was finally crucified in the Khilafa of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi before the year 785.   The Correct Position What was the Aimma’s position in this debate? The answer is very clear from the reports presented. They never spoke using Greek-influenced neo-platonic terminologies. They rejected the use of the term ‘body’ for God, pointing out the fact that any ‘body’ would by definition be finite and mortal - qualities which do not apply to God. What is not understood is how Hisham answered this charge. How was he able to reconcile between the truism that every body by definition has constraints (limits) with his conception of God? It is possible that he felt his statement ‘a body unlike all other bodies’ was inclusive of transcending the limits inherent in other bodies. But if that were case then what would be the the sense of holding God to still be a body. Does not the term lose significance? God must share one or some aspects with other bodies for the word to retain meaning. What aspect would that be? It is possible that his acceptance of the system of Abu Shakir and Jahm was so complete that he felt that the definition of any ‘thing’ (shayy) as ‘existent body’ (jism mawjud) was axiomatic. A starting point which must be accepted before any further theological speculation can continue. God had to be a thing because if He was not then he was nothing, from which follows ‘God was a body’ in his system. What kind of body? A body unlike any other body. But still a body in at least some sense. And that is the rub of the problem.    To be continued ... 

Then to Him belongs praise

Then to Him belongs praise,
in place of His every favour upon us
and upon all His servants, past and still remaining,
to the number of all things His knowledge encompasses,
and in place of each of His favours,
their number doubling and redoubling always and forever,
to the Day of Resurrection;
a praise whose bound has no utmost end,
whose number has no reckoning,
whose limit cannot be reached,
whose period cannot be cut off;
a praise which will become
a link to His obedience and pardon,
a tie to His good pleasure,
a means to His forgiveness,
a path to His Garden,
a protector against His vengeance,
a security against His wrath,
an aid to obeying Him,
a barrier against disobeying Him,
a help in fulfilling His right and His duties;
a praise that will make us felicitous
among His felicitous friends,
and bring us into the ranks
of those martyred by the swords of His enemies.
He is a Friend, Praiseworthy! Al-Sahifat al-Sajjadiyya Supplication 1

Abu Nur

Abu Nur


Hisham b. al-Hakam - God is a body?

وأول من عرف في الإسلام أنه قال إن الله جسم هو هشام بن الحكم The First person in Islam known to have said ‘Allah is a Body’ is Hisham b. al-Hakam (Ibn Taymiyya) اليهود أكثرهم مشبّهة وكان بدء ظهور التّشبيه في الإسلام من الرّوافض مثل هشام بن الحكم The Jews are mostly anthropomorphists. The beginning of anthropomorphism in Islam is via the Rawafidh such as Hisham b. al-Hakam (Fakhr al-Diin al-Razi)   Hisham Accused Proto-Sunni heresiographical sources describe Hisham as an anthropomorphist who ‘likened God to his creatures’. Unfortunately, it becomes clear with the least bit of study that most of what has been attributed to him is embellished and driven by an agenda. An example of this is a frequently circulated statement that Hisham supposedly said:  وحكي عن هشام بن الحكم أن أحسن الأقدار: أن يكون سبعة أشبار بشبر نفسه God is seven spans tall but according to His measures not ours. Indeed, there was so much spurious material attributed to him, and he was made to hold so many disparate opinions, that the only way his detractors could explain the phenomenon was to claim that he was very inconsistent: وذكر عن هشام انه قال في ربه في عام واحد خمسة أقاويل It is remarked that in one and the same year he advocated five different standpoints about His God. One of the earliest sources, the Kitab al-Maqalat of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (d. 324), has the following to say when discussing the so-called Hishamiyya (followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam): يزعمون أن معبودهم جسم وله نهاية وحد طويل عريض عميق طوله مثل عرضه وعرضه مثل عمقه لا يوفي بعضه على بعض ولم يعينوا طولاً غير الطويل وإنما قالوا: "طوله مثل عرضه" على المجاز دون التحقيق وزعموا أنه نور ساطع له قدر من الأقدار في مكان دون مكان كالسبيكة الصافية يتلألأ كاللؤلؤة المستديرة من جميع جوانبها ذو لون وطعم ورائحة ومجسة لونه هو طعمه وطعمه هو رائحته ورائحته هي مجسته وهو نفسه لون ولم يعينوا لوناً ولا طعماً هو غيره وزعموا أنه هو اللون وهو الطعم وأنه قد كان لا في مكان ثم حدث المكان بأن تحرك البارئ فحدث المكان بحركته فكان فيه وزعم أن المكان هو العرش They claim that the one they worship is a finite ‘body’ with limits, having length, breadth and depth of equal size … They claim that He is a radiant light, similar to a pure ingot shining like a round pearl from all sides … That He was originally not in space but then produced space through his own motion and thus came to be in it (space), and that this space is the ‘throne’ …  This is another example of a fabrication against Hisham because you would expect to find echoes of this in the early Imami sources if it were true. I could find only one report which can be said to corroborate the accusation. Furthermore, its chain is clearly unreliable with the primary narrator (Ali b. Abi Hamza) weakened by some as a liar. احمد بن إدريس، عن محمد بن عبدالجبار، عن صفوان بن يحيى، عن علي بن أبي حمزة قال: قلت لابي عبدالله عليه السلام: سمعت هشام بن الحكم يروي عنكم أن الله جسم، صمدي نوري، معرفته ضرورة، يمن بها على من يشاء من خلقه، فقال عليه السلام: سبحان من لا يعلم أحد كيف هو إلا هو، ليس كمثله شئ وهو السميع البصير، لا يحد ولا يحس ولا يجس ولا تدركه الابصار ولا الحواس ولا يحيط به شئ ولا جسم ولا صورة ولا تخطيط ولا تحديد Ahmad b. Idris – Muhammad b. Abd al-Jabbar – Safwan b. Yahya – Ali b. Abi Hamza who said: I said to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام: I heard Hisham b. al-Hakam narrating from you that ‘Allah is a solid body of light. (Acquiring) Knowledge of Him is necessary. He grants it (knowledge of Him) to the one He wishes from among his creatures’. He عليه السلام said: Glory be to the One whom no one knows how He is except Himself. There is nothing like Him and He is All-Hearing All-Seeing. He is not bounded. He is not sensed. He is not touched. Neither Vision nor senses can reach Him. Nothing encompasses Him. (He is) Not a body nor a form. Neither demarcation nor limitation (can apply to Him).   If this particular characterization of Hisham’s views on God can be put aside, it is much harder to do the same with a more widely attested doctrine attributed to him and for which he became infamous.    A Corporeal God? Hisham stands accused of holding God to be a corporeal body (Jism). All the narrations below are weak in one way or another (in terms of chain), but when taken collectively, paint the picture that this accusation cannot be easily dismissed like the others. علي بن محمد رفعه عن محمد بن الفرج الرخجي قال: كتبت إلى أبي الحسن عليه السلام أسأله عما قال هشام بن الحكم في الجسم وهشام بن سالم في الصورة فكتب: دع عنك حيرة الحيران واستعذ بالله من الشيطان، ليس القول ما قاله الهشامان Ali b. Muhammad raised it to Muhammad b. al-Faraj al-Rakhji who said: I wrote to Abi al-Hasan عليه السلام asking him about what Hisham b. al-Hakam said regarding ‘the body’ and what Hisham b. Salim said regarding ‘the human form’. He wrote: Leave the confusion of the confused, seek refuge in Allah from the Shaytan, the (true) position is not what was said by the two Hishams. محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عمن ذكره، عن علي بن العباس، عن أحمد بن محمد بن أبي نصر، عن محمد بن حكيم قال: وصفت لابي إبراهيم عليه السلام قول هشام بن سالم الجواليقي وحكيت له قول هشام بن الحكم إنه جسم فقال: إن الله تعالى لا يشبهه شئ، أي فحش أو خنى أعظم من قول من يصف خالق الاشياء بجسم أو صورة أو بخلقة أو بتحديد وأعضاء، تعالى الله عن ذلك علوا كبيرا Muhammad b. Abdallah – the one he mentioned – Ali b. al-Abbas – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr – Muhammad b. Hukaym who said: I described for Abi Ibrahim عليه السلام the position of Hisham b. Salim al-Jawaliqi and quoted for him the position of Hisham b. al-Hakam that He is a body. He said: Nothing can be compared to Allah the Elevated. What can be a greater obscenity than the statement of one describing the Creator of things as a body, or a form, or having constituents, or by limitations or parts. Elevated is Allah from all that a great transcendence. ابن المتوكل، عن علي، عن أبيه، عن الصقر بن دلف قال: سألت أبا الحسن علي بن محمد عليهما السلام عن التوحيد وقلت له: إني أقول بقول هشام بن الحكم، فغضب عليه السلام ثم قال: مالكم ولقول هشام؟ إنه ليس منا من زعم أن الله جسم، ونحن منه برآء في الدنيا والآخرة، يا ابن دلف إن الجسم محدث، والله محدثه و مجسمه Ibn al-Mutawakkil – Ali – his father – al-Saqr b. Dalaf who said: I asked Aba al-Hasan Ali b. Muhammad عليهما السلام about Tawhid and said to him: I subscribe to the belief of Hisham b. al-Hakam. He became angry and said: What do you have to do with the belief of Hisham? He is not from us the one who claims that Allah is a body. We disassociate from such a one in this world and the hereafter. O the son of Dalaf - a body is accidental and Allah is its cause and the one who forms it.    The common thread running through all these narrations is Hisham’s affirmation of the corporeality of God. In order to get a better understanding of Hisham’s actual position and motivations, one needs to piece together the disparate data and overcome the many layers of confusion in the sources. A beginning point has to be the context of Kalam in the second century.   Theoretical Framework The view of God in Islam is formulated based on the foundation of the verse in the Qur’an which says: لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ There is nothing like Him (2:11) A Kalam question that originated over the interpretation of this verse was whether God may be described as a shayʾ, meaning a ‘thing’ or ‘something’. The controversy arose when the early Murjiʾi, Jahm b. Safwan (d. 128) asserted that God was not a thing. This Jahm has been described by Western academics as “the first Muslim ‘theologian’ in the full and proper sense”. Documentation about him is scarce and not entirely reliable. Jahm lived and taught in North-Eastern Iran, and it may well be that he never left the territory of Khurasan. It is claimed that Jahm is the first or among the first who introduced the method of reasoning to derive opinions from propositions (ra’y) in Islam. He stood accused of drawing on pagan Greek philosophy which he borrowed from Hellenistic philosophers (al-falasifa), Christian heretics, and Jews. Jahm’s concept of God, in particular his distinction between God and ‘things’ (ashya’), has been described by scholars as neo-Platonic. This would indicate a link with Harran and the ideas of the Sabians who were living there. It should be remembered that Umar b. Yazid, the uncle of Hisham b. al-Hakam, claimed that Hisham followed the Madhhab of the Jahmiyya before his conversion to the truth at the hands of the Imam al-Sadiq. وقال الكشي: روي عن عمر بن يزيد: وكان ابن أخي هشام يذهب في الدين مذاهب الجهمية خبيثا فيهم Thus, it is natural that he would be influenced by Jahm’s system of thought. Most Muslim scholars understood the verse in the sense of ‘no thing at all is like him’ refusing any degree of ‘likeness to God’. They interpreted the Qurʾanic verse as meaning that God is a thing unlike all other (created) things. Jahm’s explanation was different. His emphasis lay on the conclusion that the term ‘thing’ does not refer to God. That is to say, to be a thing is to share the property ‘likeness’, e.g. to be dead like another dead thing and unlike a living thing. The property ‘likeness’ then is an inseparable accident concomitant with ‘thing’. God, according to the Jahmites, exists outside the realm of all things which share the property to be like and unlike other things, thus He cannot be referred to as ‘thing’ (He is a non-thing). The majority understood any denial of God being a shayʾ as implying His being nothing. Jahm b. Safwan, to be sure, did not mean to affirm that God was nothing. He recognised God as most real, the only reality, but the controversy persisted. This question was authoritatively settled by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as far as the school of Ahl al-Bayt are concerned).  محمد بن يعقوب، عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن محمد بن عيسى، عن عبد الرحمن ابن أبي نجران قال: سألت أبا جعفر عليه السلام عن التوحيد فقلت: أتوهم شيئا؟ فقال: نعم، غير معقول ولا محدود، فما وقع وهمك عليه من شئ فهو خلافه، لا يشبهه شئ ولا تدركه الاوهام، كيف تدركه الاوهام وهو خلاف ما يعقل، وخلاف ما يتصور في الاوهام؟! إنما يتوهم شئ غير معقول ولا محدود Muhammad b. Ya’qub – Ali b. Ibrahim – Muhammad b. Isa – Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Najran who said: I asked Aba Ja’far عليه السلام about Tawhid saying: do I think of him a thing? He said: Yes. (Something) neither cognisable nor delimited. Whatever your imagination falls upon is different than He, nothing resembles Him and imaginations cannot reach Him. How could imaginations reach Him when He is different from what can be cognised and different from what is represented in imagination? (He must) only be thought of as a thing that is neither cognisable nor delimited. Hisham submissivley followed the Imam in thinking of God as a ‘thing’ but this meant that he had to then abide by the implications of such a decision seeing as though his former master Jahm also taught that each thing exists when it exists as an existent body (jism mawjud). The incorporeal is non-existent (ma`dum, ma laysa bi-mawjudin). For something to exist it had to be a ‘body’.   Tathbit not Ta’til or Tabtil محمد بن مسعود، قال: حدثني علي بن محمد القمي، قال: حدثني أحمد ابن محمد بن خالد البرقي، عن أبي عبد الله محمد بن موسى بن عيسى من أهل همدان، قال: حدثني أشكيب بن عبدك الكيساني، قال: حدثني عبد الملك بن هشام الحناط، قال: قلت لأبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام: أسألك جعلني الله فداك؟ قال: سل يا جبلي عما ذا تسألني، فقلت: جعلت فداك، زعم هشام بن سالم أن الله عز وجل صورة وأن آدم خلق على مثل الرب، فنصف هذا ونصف هذا، وأوميت إلى جانبي وشعر رأسي، وزعم يونس مولى آل يقطين، وهشام بن الحكم أن الله شئ لا كالأشياء، وان الأشياء بائنة منه، وأنه بائن من الأشياء، وزعما أن إثبات الشئ أن يقال جسم فهو لا كالأجسام، شئ لا كالأشياء، ثابت موجود، غير مفقود ولا معدوم خارج من الحدين، حد الابطال وحد التشبيه، فبأي القولين أقول؟ قال: فقال عليه السلام: أراد هذا الاثبات، وهذا شبه ربه عالي بمخلوق، تعالى الله الذي ليس له شبه ولا مثل، ولا عدل ولا نظير، ولا هو بصفة المخلوقين، لا تقل بمثل ما قال هشام بن سالم، وقل بما قال مولى آل يقطين وصاحبه. قال: قلت: فنعطي الزكاة من خالف هشاما في التوحيد؟ فقال برأسه: لا Muhammad b. Masud – Ali b. Muhammad al-Qummi – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi – Abi Abdillah Muhammad b. Musa b. Isa from among the people Hamdan – Ishkib b. Abdak al-Kaysani – Abd al-Malik b. Hisham al-Hannat who said: I said to Abi al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه السلام: Can I ask you - may I be made your ransom? He said: Ask O Jabali - what do you want to ask me about? I said: May I be made your ransom - Hisham b. Salim claims that Allah Mighty and Majestic has a form and that Adam was created in the likeness of the Lord. Half human and half otherwise - and I pointed to my sides and the hair of my head. Yunus the client of the family of Yaqtin and Hisham b. al-Hakam claim that Allah is a thing unlike other things, and that the other things are distinct from Him and He is distinct from the things. And they claimed that to establish the existence of a thing is to consider it a body, but he is unlike any other body, a thing unlike any other thing. Self-subsisting, present. Not lost or non-existent. Free of the two extremes, the extreme of negation and the extreme of likening Him to his creation. Which of these two positions should I take? He عليه السلام said: This one (Hisham b. al-Hakam) desired Ithbat (to establish the existence of God) while the other one (Hisham b. Salim) likened His Lord the Elevated with creation. Elevated is Allah who has no like, analogue, equal or match. He is not in the attribute of the created ones. Do not subscribe to what was said by Hisham b. Salim rather subscribe to what was said by the Client of the family of Yaqtin and his fellow (Hisham b. al-Hakam).     I said: Do we give Zakat to the one who opposes Hisham (b. al-Hakam) in Tawhid? He said with his head: No.  In the same Kitab al-Maqalat, we encounter another view attributed to Hisham which seems much more credible than the previous quote and backs up my interpretation. The view of the anonymous ‘second group of the Rafidha’ below evidently belongs to the school of Hisham b. al-Hakam. والفرقة الثانية من الرافضة: ... إنما يذهبون في قولهم أنه جسم إلى أنه موجود ولا يثبتون البارئ ذا أجزاء مؤتلفة وأبعاض متلاصقة The second group from the Rafidha … when they refer to him as a body they wish to assert that he is Existent. They do not ascribe to the Creator parts which are combined or limbs adjoining one another. Thus, Hisham’s aim was Tathbit to affirm the Existence of God and to escape the charge of Ta’til (denying the attributes of God) and Tabtil (invalidating the existence of God). He accepted that God was a thing. This in his system meant that He was a body. But what kind of Body?   To be continued ...

Ten beautiful Prophetic narrations

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم All are from al-Kafi, Volume 2.   علي بن إبراهيم ، عن أبيه ، عن ابن أبي عمير ، عن حبيب الخثعمي ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله أفاضلكم أحسنكم أخلاقا الموطئون Grading: Hasan-Like-Saheeh   علي بن إبراهيم ، عن أبيه ، عن ابن أبي عمير ، عن عبد الله بن سنان ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله في خطبته ألا أخبركم بخير خلائق الدنيا والآخرة العفو عمن ظلمك وتصل من قطعك والإحسان إلى من أساء إليك وإعطاء من حرمك. Grading: Hasan-like-Saheeh   عنه ، عن الهيثم بن أبي مسروق ، عن هشام بن سالم ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله لرجل أتاه ألا أدلك على أمر يدخلك الله به الجنة قال بلى يا رسول الله قال أنل مما أنالك الله قال فإن كنت أحوج ممن أنيله قال فانصر المظلوم قال وإن كنت أضعف ممن أنصره قال فاصنع للأخرق يعني أشر عليه قال : فإن كنت أخرق ممن أصنع له قال فأصمت لسانك إلا من خير أما يسرك أن تكون فيك خصلة من هذه الخصال تجرك إلى الجنة؟. Grading:  Hasan     عدة من أصحابنا ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، عن ابن فضال ، عن عاصم بن حميد ، عن أبي حمزة الثمالي ، عن أبي جعفر عليه‌السلام قال خطب رسول الله عليه‌السلام في حجة الوداع فقال يا أيها الناس والله ما من شيء يقربكم من الجنة ويباعدكم من النار إلا وقد أمرتكم به وما من شيء يقربكم من النار ويباعدكم من الجنة إلا وقد نهيتكم عنه ألا وإن الروح الأمين نفث في روعي أنه لن تموت نفس حتى تستكمل رزقها  Grading: Saheeh and comes through multiple chains   عنه ، عن أبيه ، عن سليمان الجعفري ، عن أبي الحسن الرضا ، عن أبيه عليه‌السلام قال رفع إلى رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله قوم في بعض غزواته فقال من القوم فقالوا مؤمنون يا رسول الله قال وما بلغ من إيمانكم قالوا الصبر عند البلاء والشكر عند الرخاء والرضا بالقضاء فقال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله حلماء علماء كادوا من الفقه أن يكونوا أنبياء إن كنتم كما تصفون فلا تبنوا ما لا تسكنون ولا تجمعوا ما لا تأكلون واتقوا الله الذي إليه ترجعون. عدة من أصحابنا ، عن أحمد بن محمد بن خالد ، عن محمد بن إسماعيل بن بزيع ، عن محمد بن عذافر ، عن أبيه ، عن أبي جعفر عليه‌السلام قال بينا رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله Grading: Saheeh and contains multiple chains.     عدة من أصحابنا ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، عن عبد العظيم بن عبد الله الحسني ، عن أبي جعفر الثاني عليه‌السلام ، عن أبيه ، عن جده صلوات الله عليهم قال قال أمير المؤمنين عليه‌السلام قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله إن الله خلق الإسلام فجعل له عرصة وجعل له نورا وجعل له حصنا وجعل له ناصرا فأما عرصته فالقرآن وأما نوره فالحكمة وأما حصنه فالمعروف وأما أنصاره فأنا وأهل بيتي وشيعتنا فأحبوا أهل بيتي وشيعتهم وأنصارهم فإنه لما أسري بي إلى السماء الدنيا فنسبني جبرئيل عليه‌السلام لأهل السماء استودع الله حبي وحب أهل بيتي وشيعتهم في قلوب الملائكة فهو عندهم وديعة إلى يوم القيامة ثم هبط بي إلى أهل الأرض فنسبني إلى أهل الأرض فاستودع الله عز وجل حبي وحب أهل بيتي وشيعتهم في قلوب مؤمني أمتي فمؤمنو أمتي يحفظون وديعتي في أهل بيتي إلى يوم القيامة ألا فلو أن الرجل من أمتي عبد الله عز وجل عمره أيام الدنيا ثم لقي الله عز وجل مبغضا لأهل بيتي وشيعتي ما فرج الله صدره إلا عن النفاق.  Grading: Hasan     عنه ، عن عثمان بن عيسى ، عن عبد الله بن مسكان ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال إن رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله كان في سفر يسير على ناقة له إذا نزل فسجد خمس سجدات فلما أن ركب قالوا يا رسول الله إنا رأيناك صنعت شيئا لم تصنعه فقال نعم استقبلني ـ جبرئيلعليه‌السلام فبشرني ببشارات من الله عز وجل فسجدت لله شكرا لكل بشرى سجدة. Grading: Muwathaq     قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله من صدق الله نجا Grading: Hasan-Like Saheeh       محمد بن يحيى ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، عن ابن محبوب ، عن أبي ولاد الحناط ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلامقال أربع من كن فيه كمل إيمانه وإن كان من قرنه إلى قدمه ذنوبا لم ينقصه ذلك قال وهو الصدق وأداء الأمانة والحياء وحسن الخلق. Grading: Saheeh   علي بن إبراهيم ، عن أبيه ومحمد بن إسماعيل ، عن الفضل بن شاذان جميعا ، عن ابن أبي عمير ، عن إبراهيم بن عبد الحميد ، عن قيس أبي إسماعيل وذكر أنه لا بأس به من أصحابنا رفعه قال جاء رجل إلى النبي صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآلهفقال : يا رسول الله أوصني فقال احفظ لسانك قال يا رسول الله أوصني قال احفظ لسانك قال : يا رسول الله أوصني قال احفظ لسانك ويحك وهل يكب الناس على مناخرهم في النار إلا حصائد ألسنتهم. Grading: Marfu’ , however the content is corroborated by many authentic chains, such as:  محمد بن يحيى ، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى ، عن علي بن الحكم ، عن إبراهيم بن مهزم الأسدي ، عن أبي حمزة ، عن علي بن الحسين عليه‌السلام

The Divine Will

The first creation of Allah is His will (mashi’a). The mashi’a is a created light that operates on the realm of the creation and interacts with the rest of creation. Since the mashi’a is subject to change and affect, it is separate from His Unified and Unknowable Essence. علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن عمر بن اذينة، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: خلق الله المشيئة بنفسها ثم خلق الاشياء بالمشيئة. Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (as) said, “Allah created the will (mashi’a) by its self. Then, He created the things by the will.” The mashi’a is one entity (ذات بسيطة) with four degrees (معلقات). These four degrees are His will (mashi’a), His desire (irada), His determining (qadr), and His actualization (qada). 3يا يونس تعلم ما؛ المشيئة قلت لا قال هي الذکر الاول فتعلم ما الارادة قلت لا قال هي العزيمة على ما يشاء فتعلم ما القدر قلت لا قال هي الهندسة و وضع الحدود من البقاء و الفناء قال ثم قال و القضاء هو الابرام و اقامة العين Imam ar-Rida (as) said, “O Yunus! Do you know what the will (mashi’a) is?” Yunus said, “No.” Imam ar-Rida (as) said, “It is the first utterance (الذکر الاول). So do you know what the wish (الارادة) is?” He said, “No.” The Imam said, “It is the invitation to what He wants. So do you know what determining (qadr) is?” He said, “No.” The Imam said, “It is designing and organizing the parameters from beginning to end. And actualization (qada) is the confirmation and the establishment of the thing.” The mashi’a and the desire (irada) both denote the same object. However, when used together, they refer to different degrees within the mashi’a’s process. The first degree is the wish for a thing, the second degree is the assertion of that wish, the third degree is the organization of the parameters needed to bring about that wish, and the fourth degree is its execution. All of these levels are really one process, but in our understanding, it takes place in four stages. Mashi’a is a unity of action (fi`l) and reception (infi`al). While irada, qadr, and qada are masculine activities, the mashi’a is feminine in its receptivity to all of these active phases. This way, the mashi’a constitutes both self-acting and self-receiving. This reality is called the Great Depth (العمق الأكبر). Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i uses the term “the Kaf that Encircles Itself” (الكاف المستديرة على نفسها) to describe the duality of the mashi’a, because a circled letter Kaf resembles the yin-yang, and a yin-yang represents the complementary nature of contrary forces. The mashi’a is compared to Adam and Eve, the first promulgators of their species, through whose dimorphic reproduction all people came into existence. There are two types of divine actions (ja`l ilahi) in the Quran: formative action (جعل تكويني) and designative action (جعل تشريعي). Formative action refers to creating, establishing, and building. Allah says, “[He] who made (ja`ala) for you the earth as a bed and the sky as a ceiling” (2:22). Designative action refers to divine selection and legislation. Allah says, “Allah has made the Ka`ba, the Sacred House, an establishment for mankind.” (5:97) These two actions are further duplicated inversely in a dialectical process, which we will describe later. The mashi’a exists on the sempiternal plain (سرمد), which is a created level of infinity that is beyond the rest of creation. Allah, however, is Eternal (أزل), and therefore beyond sempiternity. In Allah’s Essence (ذات), there is no action; and He is beyond understanding. In the hierarchy of creation, the mashi’a is the first barrier (hijab), and there is nothing beyond it.




(Top) 10 Interviewing Tips

Top 10 Interviewing Tips: 01) Dress professionally - ironed clothes, polished shoes, combed hair, light or no scent 02) Arrive around 10-15 minutes before the interview. 03) Carry a briefcase or padfolio to the interview. Bring 3-5 copies of your resume to the interview and a pen. 04) When you meet the interviewer, be sure to offer your hand for a handshake. The handshake should be firm and look the interviewer in the eye while shaking his/her hand. 05) Memorize everything in your resume so when the interviewer asks about something on your resume, you answer assuredly 06) Be succinct in your answers. Make answer relevant to the position you are seeking 07) At the end of the interview, be sure to ask 2-4 questions. 08) Ask about "Next Steps" once the interview is over. 09) Send thank you email to the interviewer(s) the next day 10) Follow up with interviewer the following week if you don't hear from them.  




when he comes

وعده را با صیحه ای آغاز کرد فصل نو را بی تعلل باز کرد انقلابی شد که کل کهکشان همصدا با جبرئیل آواز کرد بامگاهان آن همای سرفراز سوی کعبه پرزنان پرواز کرد تکیه زد آن مرد بر بیت خدا دوستان را مطلع از راز کرد از قضا خورشید عالمتاب نیز با شعاعش روی او را ناز کرد آسمان عاشق شد و با گریه اش شادی خود را به ما ابراز کرد سایه ای بیتاب در شبهای تار شعر خود را اینچنین ایجاز کرد

The Madhhab of Hisham?

دعا له الصادق عليه السلام فقال: أقول لك ما قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم لحسان: لا تزال مؤيدا بروح القدس ما نصرتنا بلسانك I say to you what the Messenger of Allah said to Hassan b. Thabit: You will never stop being aided by the Holy Spirit so long as you keep defending us by your tongue [Imam al-Sadiq supplicates for Hisham b. al-Hakam]   Hisham b. al-Hakam: Founder of a Theological School (Pt. 2)   A Sect? A number of proto-Sunni heresiographical works list the so-called ‘Hishamiyya’ (followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam) when discussing splinter-sects within Imami Shi’ism. What do we make of this? Throughout the second century Hijri and as a direct consequence of the Arab conquests - large swathes of peoples from different cultures and civilizations became subsumed into the Islamic empire. This resulted into the introduction of foreign ideas - mainly Greek philosophical speculation - into the intellectual world of Islam. The scholarly response to this was split between those who propagated abstinence, considering any discussion of such subjects as a blameworthy innovation, and those who encouraged active engagement, with the realization that the questions raised needed to be answered. These latter were the practitioners of Kalam who wished to reconcile the new insights with revelationary knowledge.      It is well documented that the Imams forbade the majority of their companions from undertaking the abstract thinking involved in Kalam. This was a precaution against the clear danger of making errors in the most sensitive of topics such as the attributes of God. The default statement of the Imams for the laity among their followers was ‘Describe God as He describes Himself’ and leave it at that. However, we have evidence that the Imams did not totally frown upon such activity. Indeed they trained and encouraged a select few - whose abilities they trusted - to construct rational arguments and participate in the wider controversy with the aim of preserving the authentic positions of Islam. One prominent example is Hisham b. al-Hakam who proceeded to develop theological positions mainly for polemical reasons e.g. to systemize the doctrine of Imama into a consistent logical framework. The favourable relations that successive Imams had with him goes a long way to confirm their approval of such endeavours. It is in this context that Hisham attracted a following and is spoken of as a leader of a ‘Madhhab’. To characterize this as a ‘sect’ is a misconception, for even the most prominent companion could not but submit to the Imam and dare not contradict him. Indeed, Hisham was also a narrator of Hadith from the ‘Aimma and his output consists of typical jurisprudential responsa that would not stand out when compared to that of a traditionalist-narrator who shuns Kalam.   Much better then to speak of a school of thought led by Hisham having unique features (a distinctive mode of argumentation) and theological positions. The school was not set up to  contradict the Imams but rather flesh out their general principles.   Can we speak of such a school? There are some pieces of evidence that allude to the existence of a ‘school of Hisham’ (*) Hisham had a post-humous following: A companion asks the Imam al-Naqi a question about Tawhid while commenting ‘I follow the position of Hisham b. al-Hakam …’ الصقر بن دلف قال: سألت أبا الحسن علي بن محمد عليهما السلام عن التوحيد وقلت له: إني أقول بقول هشام بن الحكم ... Another companion asks the Imam al-Ridha whether he should pay Zakat to someone who differs with Hisham in the doctrine of Tawhid and receives a negative answer   فنعطي الزكاة من خالف هشاما في التوحيد؟ فقال برأسه: لا The Imam al-Ridha asks al-Bazanti what their differences are with the ‘followers’ of Hisham in Tawhid أبي، عن البزنطي، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: قال لي: يا أحمد ما الخلاف بينكم وبين أصحاب هشام بن الحكم في التوحيد ؟   (*) Unusually, there are a number of individuals who are explicitly associated with Hisham in their biographical entries, which you would expect in a school with students loyal to the outlook of their master. Consider the examples provided below: علي بن منصور أبو الحسن: كوفي، سكن بغداد، متكلم من أصحاب هشام. له كتب منها كتاب التدبير في التوحيد والإمامة Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Mansur. Kufan. Resided in Baghdad. A practitioner of Kalam and a student of Hisham. He authored several books among them ‘the book of Deliberation on Tawhid’ محمد بن الخليل المعروف بالسكاك: صاحب هشام ابن الحكم، وكان متكلما من أصحاب هشام، وخالفه في أشياء إلا في أصل الامامة، له كتب منها: كتاب المعرفة، وكتاب في الاستطاعة، وكتاب في الامامة، وكتاب الرد على من أبى وجوب الامامة بالنص Muhammad b. al-Khalil. Popularly known as al-Sakkak. He became a companion of Hisham b. al-Hakam. A practitioner of Kalam from the students of Hisham. He differed with him (his master) in a number of matters except on the doctrine of Imama. He authored several books among them: A book on Recognition, a book on Human Capacity (to act independently), a book on Imama, a book Refuting the one who denies the Necessity of Imama continuing via Designation (Nass).       (*) Another characteristic of a school is continuity i.e. having successive leaders taking the vacated seat of the former head of the school. This can be demonstrated in an auto-biographical note  by al-Fadhl b. Shadhan:   جعفر بن معروف، قال: حدثني سهل بن بحر الفارسي، قال: سمعت الفضل بن شاذان آخر عهدي به يقول: أنا خلف لمن مضى ... ومضى هشام ابن الحكم رحمه الله، وكان يونس بن عبد الرحمان رحمه الله خلفه، كان يرد على المخالفين، ثم مضى يونس بن عبد الرحمان ولم يخلف خلفا غير السكاك، فرد على المخالفين حتى مضى رحمه الله، وأنا خلف لهم من بعدهم رحمهم الله Sahl b. Bahr al-Farisi says that he heard al-Fadhl b. Shadhan saying in his last encounter with him: I am the successor of those who have passed on … when Hisham b. al-Hakam – may Allah have mercy on him – passed on it was Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman – may Allah have mercy on him - who succeeded him [took his place] in refuting the opponents. Then Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman passed on and did not appoint a successor other than al-Sakkak (Muhammad b. Khalil) who refuted the opponents until he passed on may Allah have mercy on him. I am the successor who takes their place after them may Allah have mercy on them all.    Inter-Companion Rivalry Hisham b. al-Hakam’s specialization in this field was so complete and his expertise so masterful that we see the Imam ordering him to send him the argument he uses to answer the question of determinism versus free-will. حدثني ابراهيم الوراق السمرقندي، قال: حدثني علي بن محمد القمي، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن محمد بن عيسى، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم قال: قال أبو الحسن عليه‌ السلام: قولوا لهشام يكتب إلي بما يرد به القدرية، قال: فكتب اليه يسأل القدرية أعصى الله من عصى لشي‌ء من الله، أو لشي‌ء كان من الناس، أو لشي‌ء لم يكن من الله ولا من الناس؟ قال: فلما دفع الكتاب اليه، قال لهم: ادفعوه الى الجرمي، فدفعوه اليه، فنظر فيه ثم قال: ما صنع شيئا، فقال أبو الحسن عليه‌ السلام: ما ترك شيئا. قال أبو أحمد: وأخبرني أنه كان الرسول بهذا الى الكاظم عليه‌ السلام Ibrahim al-Warraq al-Samarqandi – Ali b. Muhammad al-Qummi – Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Isa – Ibn Abi Umayr – Hisham b. Salim who said: Abu al-Hasan عليه‌ السلام said: Tell Hisham to write to me the argument he uses to rebut the Qadariyya (believers in absolute free-will). He (Hisham b. al-Hakam) wrote to him: ‘the Qadariyya are asked - the one who disobeys Allah does he disobey because of being compelled by Allah, or due to human factors, or due to a third cause apart from Allah or the people?’ He (Hisham b. Salim) says: when the letter was dispatched to him, he (the Imam) said: send it to al-Jurmi, so they took it to him. He (al-Jurmi) looked into it and said: ‘he has not done anything (i.e. it is a useless argument)!’ but Abu al-Hasan said:  ‘he did not leave out anything! (i.e. it is an unsurmountable argument). Abu Ahmad (Ibn Abi Umayr) said: He (Hisham b. Salim) informed me that he was the messenger carrying this letter to  al-Kadhim  عليه‌ السلام      The partial independence which the Imams gave to some of their able companions to make theological inquiries led to difference of opinion between them. Hisham b. al-Hakam is said to have authored books to refute the position of two other major Shi’i theologians. He has a refutation of Hisham al-Jawaliqi (كتاب الرد على هشام الجواليقي) and a refutation of Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Nu’man al-Ahwal Mu’min al-Taq (كتاب الرد على شيطان الطاق) This situation sometimes required the Imam having to intervene to express the correct opinion. An example is provided below: حدثني حمدويه، قال، حدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن جعفر بن عيسى عن علي بن يونس بن بهمن قال: قلت للرضا عليه‌ السلام: جعلت فداك ان أصحابنا قد اختلفوا! فقال: في أي شي‌ء اختلفوا فيه احك لي من ذلك شيئا؟ قال: فلم يحضرني الا ما قلت، جعلت فداك من ذلك ما اختلف فيه زرارة وهشام بن الحكم، فقال زرارة: ان الهواء ليس بشي‌ء وليس بمخلوق، وقال هشام: ان الهواء شي‌ء مخلوق، قال، فقال لي: قل في هذا بقول هشام، ولا تقل بقول زرارة Hamduwayh – Muhammad b. Isa – Ja’far b. Isa – Ali b. Yunus b. Bahman who said: I said to al-Ridha عليه‌ السلام: May I be made your ransom - our companions have differed! He said: in what thing have they differed, relate to me a thing from that (an example of that which they have differed in)? He (Ali) said: Nothing came to mind except that which I said (which is): May I be made your ransom, an example of that is what Zurara and Hisham b. al-Hakam had differed in. Zurara said ‘air is not a thing nor is it created’ while Hisham said ‘air is a created thing’. He (the Imam) said to me: affirm in this the position of Hisham and not the position of Zurara. Incidentally, this report indicates that the practitioners of Kalam were also influenced by the neo-Platonic primitive ‘scientific’ theories which were concerned with the natural world. Difference of opinion and the perennial competition to win favour from the Imam led some companion to even become rivals. It is in the context of theological disputation concerning the attributes of God that Hisham had a major falling out with Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj, himself a financial agent appointed by al-Kadhim over Iraq. علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني محمد بن موسى الهمداني، عن الحسن ابن موسى الخشاب، عن غيره، عن جعفر بن محمد بن حكيم الخثعمي قال: اجتمع هشام بن سالم، وهشام بن الحكم، وجميل بن دراج، وعبد الرحمن بن الحجاج، ومحمد بن حمران، وسعيد بن غزوان، ونحو من خمسة عشر رجلا من أصحابنا، فسألوا هشام بن الحكم أن يناظر هشام بن سالم فيما اختلفوا فيه من التوحيد وصفة الله عز وجل وغير ذلك لينظروا أيهما أقوى حجة. فرضي هشام بن سالم أن يتكلم عند محمد بن أبي عمير، ورضي هشام بن الحكم أن يتكلم عند محمد بن هشام، فتكالما وساق ما جرى بينهما. وقال، قال عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج لهشام بن الحكم: كفرت والله بالله العظيم وألحدت فيه، ويحك ما قدرت أن تشبه بكلام ربك الا العود يضرب به! قال جعفر ابن محمد بن حكيم، فكتب إلى أبي الحسن موسى عليه السلام يحكي له مخاطبتهم وكلامهم ويسأله أن يعلمه ما القول الذي ينبغي ندين الله به من صفه الجبار؟ فأجابه في عرض كتابه فهمت رحمك الله واعلم رحمك الله ان الله أجل وأعلى وأعظم من أن يبلغ كنه صفته فصفوه بما وصف به نفسه، وكفوا عما سوى ذلك Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Musa al-Hamdani – al-Hasan b. Musa al-Khashshab – Ja’far b. Muhammad Hukaym al-Khath’ami who said: Hisham b. Salim, Hisham b. al-Hakam, Jamil b. Darraj, Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj, Muhammad b. Humran, Sai’d b. Ghazwan and about fifteen men among our companions gathered together. They (those present) asked Hisham b. al-Hakam to debate with Hisham b. Salim about the differences they had regarding Tawhid, the attributes of Allah Mighty and Majestic and other matters, so that they could observe which one was stronger in argument.  Hisham b. Salim agreed to be represented by Muhammad b. Abi Umayr (his student) while Hisham b. al-Hakam agreed to be represented by Muhammad b. Hisham. They began disputing and he (Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Hukaym) recounted in depth what transpired between them (in the debate) He (Ja’far) said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj said to Hisham b. al-Hakam: You have disbelieved - by Allah - in Allah the Almighty and have fallen in heresy. Woe be upon you - how could you dare to compare the words of your Lord to a stick (created object) which is used to hit with! Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Hukaym said: He (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) wrote to Abi al-Hasan Musa عليه السلام recounting for him their speech and talk (in the debate) and asking him to teach him what the correct position as regards the attributes of the al-Jabbar (the Irresistable) through which Allah can be worshipped is? So he (the Imam) answered him (writing) at the bottom of his letter: I have understood may Allah have mercy on you. Know - may Allah have mercy on you - that Allah is more majestic and elevated and great than for his attributes to be fully comprehended. Therefore describe Him the way He has described Himself and abstain from going beyond that.   Attitudes towards Him It is for all these reasons recounted above that Hisham became a particularly polarizing figure who attracted both scorn and devotion within the larger Shi’ite community. In fact, large sections of al-Kashshi’s book can be seen as a competing ground for the different factions fighting each other over how to represent his person and legacy. Those close to Hisham, who can be said to have belonged to his school, such as his premier student Yunus and the Ubaydi clan including Ali b. Yaqtin, Muhammad and Ja’far the two sons of Isa, narrated narrations which cast him in a positive light, as an apologia to the excommunication he continued to suffer at the hand of his Qummi traditionalist opponents. His traditionalist opponents saw him as overstepping the mark by formulating his own world-view instead of a total and rigid attachment to the letter of the narrations. On the one hand we have a narration such as the one below where Imam Jawad is quoted as praising Hisham to the skies for his efforts: محمد بن مسعود العياشى، قال: حدثني جعفر، قال: حدثني العمركي قال: حدثني الحسين بن أبي لبابة، عن داود أبي هشام الجعفري قال: قلت لأبي جعفر عليه‌ السلام: ما تقول في هشام بن الحكم؟ فقال: رحمه‌ الله ما كان أذبه عن هذه الناحية Muhammad b. Masud al-Ayyashi – Ja’far – al-Amrikai – al-Husayn b. Abi Lubaba – Dawud Abi Hashim al-Ja’fari who said: I said to Abi Ja’far عليه‌ السلام: What do you say about Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: May Allah have mercy on him. How great was his defense of this quarter (the holy threshold)!     On the other hand we have questions about the validity of praying behind his ‘companions’ which in this context implies those who follow his theological positions. علي بن محمد، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن أبي علي بن راشد، عن أبي جعفر الثاني عليه السلام قال، قلت: جعلت فداك قد اختلف أصحابنا، فأصلي خلف أصحاب هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: عليك بعلي بن حديد، قلت: فآخذ بقوله؟ قال: نعم فلقيت علي بن حديد فقلت له: نصلي خلف أصحاب هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: لا Ali b. Muhammad – Ahmad b. Muhammad – Abi Ali b. Rashid – Abi Ja’far the Second. He (Abi Ali) said: I said: May I be made your ransom, our companions have differed (about this), should I pray behind the companions of Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: Upon you is Ali b. Hadid (ask this question to him). I said: Should I follow what he tells me? He said: Yes. I met Ali b. Hadid and said to him: should we pray behind the companions of Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: No. Is there any truth to the criticims levelled at Hisham? Or can we explain away all the hostility towards him as being borne out of jealousy towards his ability as the report below indicates. حدثنا حمدويه وابراهيم ابنا نصير، قالا: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، قال: حدثني زحل عمر بن عبد العزيز بن أبي بشار، عن سليمان بن جعفر الجعفري قال: سألت أبا الحسن الرضا عليه‌ السلام عن هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: فقال لي: رحمه‌ الله كان عبدا ناصحا أوذي من قبل أصحابه حسدا منهم له Hamduwayh and Ibrahim the two sons of Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Zuhl Umar b. Abd al-Aziz b. Abi Bashshar – Sulayman b. Ja’far al-Ja’fari who said: I asked Aba al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه‌ السلام about Hisham b. al-Hakam, so he said to me: May Allah have mercy on him. He was a loyal servant who was persecuted by his fellows because of their jealousy of him.
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