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The Ash’ari Family (3)

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Ibn al-Hussain

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The Ash’ari Family | History of Imami Shi’i Theology (3)

Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-ashari-family-history-of-imami-shii-theology-3/

With the decline of intellectual theological discourse in Kufa, Qom had become the base for the Shi’as and would remain influential during the course of the 3rd and 4th century. Before we begin discussing any further, it is important to take a brief glance over how and why Qom became to be such an important city. This is by no means meant to be a thorough detailed analysis, and I have intentionally chosen not to mention many things and keep it as straightforward as possible.

The Ash’ari tribe of Yemen can be given credit for bringing Shi’ism to the city of Qom. This tribe’s history can be traced back to the days of Jahiliyyah, and they were even then known for their nobility and virtuous status in Yemen. The first person from this tribe to convert to Islam was Malik bin ‘Amir after having met the Prophet (s) in Makkah.[1] In any case, many members of the Ash’ari tribe later converted to Islam, the most notable one from early Islamic history being Abu Musa al-Ash’ari.

After the death of ‘Uthman, the Ash’ari tribe were divided into three factions. A group supported Mu’awiyah, another followed the lead of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, and a third group stayed loyal to Imam ‘Ali (s) and also formed part of his army during the civil wars. This last group, would become important as it was through them that Shi’ism was brought to the city of Qom.

There are multiple reasons given for why the progeny of this last faction moved to Qom. The Ash’aris may have had some familiarity with the city from the time of ‘Umar’s caliphate, since it is reported that Qom and Kashan were conquered by Abu Musa al-Ash’ari.[2] Malik bin ‘Amir also played a role in the conquest of Iran during the caliphate of ‘Umar, and thus his progeny may have had familiarity with the various cities. Nevertheless, most historians place the official migration of the Ash’ari family to Qom near end of the 1st century Hijri, during the reign of al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf al-Thaqafi, who is infamous in history for his brutal political policies.

Its relevant here to mention that Malik bin ‘Amir had two important sons named Sa’ib and Sa’d. Sa’ib was vehemently anti-Umayyad, whereas not much is known about Sa’d besides a few anecdotes and that he was also a notable figure in Kufa.

Some of the reasons given for why the Ash’aris moved to Qom do not appear to be historically accurate, so we will suffice with mentioning two of them. One possible reason for their migration is that al-Hajjaj exiled Muhammad the son of Sa’ib bin Malik to Azerbaijan, but he instead hid in Kufa. After al-Hajjaj found out about this, he ordered for him to be killed and it was then that the sons of Sa’d bin Malik (namely ‘Abdullah and Ahwas), as well as their nephews and nieces escaped to Qom.

Another reason given is that the Ash’aris were supporting ‘Abdul Rahman bin Muhammad bin Ash’ath bin Qays during his revolt against al-Hajjaj. When the latter’s revolt was crushed, al-Hajjaj had given them a few days to leave Kufa. Overall, it seems that the support and affinity this side of the family had towards the Alids as well as their anti-Umayyad stance, caused al-Hajjaj to crack down on them. It was thus a forced migration as they were no longer safe in the city of Kufa.

Whether ‘Abdullah and Ahwas intentionally decided to go to Qom, or whether they were on their way to a different city, but ended up in Qom, is not known with certainty. There are different reasons[3] mentioned as to how the Ash’aris ended up Qom:

  • It is said that when Malik bin ‘Amir was accompanying Abu Musa al-Ash’ari in the conquest of some of the Iranian cities, a group of fighters from Tabaristan had attacked Taghrud[4] – a village located between Qom and Aveh – and had taken their people as prisoners. Malik had fought this army off, and freed the prisoners as well as returned back their stolen property to them. After Malik returned to Kufa, he had narrated the incident to his sons. ‘Abdullah and Ahwas (the grandsons of Malik) would have known that these people would be willing to welcome them as they were given protection and safety by their grandfather during the conquests.
  • Another report mentions that it was Ahwas who chose Qom as a destination, but ‘Abdullah (who apparently joined the caravan late) instead wished to go to Isfahan or Qazwin. Ahwas informed his brother that those cities have been hit by cholera and convinced ‘Abdullah to remain in Qom.
  • The Daylamites would often send forces to attack various cities even after the conquest of Persia by the Muslims. On one occasion when they decided to attack Qom, they were unaware that the Ash’aris were in the region, who came out to defend the city. Their victory caused the residents of Qom to request them to stay as residents with them, and a contract was formed between the residents and the Ash’aris.

Nevertheless, what we can say for sure is that the Ash’aris were well informed about the various regions of Iran, including Qom. However, it isn’t very clear that they set off from Kufa to go to Qom, rather it is highly likely that they intended on going to Isfahan or Qazwin, and due to unforeseen circumstances were forced to stay in Qom.

Theological Views of the Ash’aris

It is not clear as to how the Ash’ari residents of Qom essentially all turned towards Shi’ism in the theological sense. Given that one of the main reasons why certain Ash’aris had to leave Kufa was their support for the Alids, it is only natural that these individuals brought with them their ideologies as well. It seems that moreso than being mere political Shi’as (i.e. followers of a certain camp due to political reasons – a trend that was common in Kufa[5]), those who moved to Qom also had a basic understanding of Shi’i theology – whose details of course were in their infancy. There is no doubt that belief in the Imamate of the Imams would have transferred over to Qom from Kufa because of the Ash’ari family. One report mentions that Musa bin ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d was the first person to express his theological belief in Shi’ism, which encouraged others to also express their beliefs in it.[6] Musa was an Imami who had been brought up in Kufa, and migrated to Qom with his father.

Regardless of which member of the Ash’ari family spread Shi’ism in Qom and its surrounding villages after their migration, what is certain is that it quickly became a major Shi’i city where Shi’i teaching and learning circles became active. In fact, the Shi’ism of the Ash’aris was so obvious that they were known for sending occasional gifts and Khumus money to the Imams from the income received through surrounding farms and gardens. The Imams were also known to have sent gifts to them and as well as coffins. It makes sense then, that we began seeing narrations like the ones below from Imam Sadiq (s):

قم‏ بلدنا و بلد شيعتنا – Qom is our city, and the city of our Shi’as.[7]

أَهْلُ‏ قُمَ‏ أَنْصَارُنَا – The residents of Qom are our helpers.[8]

These and many other similar narrations by the Imams show that Qom was indeed a city the Imams deemed important. The residents were Imami Shi’as who believed in the special role of the Imams as a source of guidance, and this formed the basis of their theology. With their continuous communication and relationship with the Imams, their theological understanding gained depth over the centuries, and this slowly began giving Qom a distinct identity.

Three Generations of Ash’ari Narrators

Even though Qom had become an important city after the Ash’aris migrated to it in 94 Hijri, it was still going to be Kufa that would dictate the norms of Imami theology for the next one-and-a-half century. As it was mentioned in the previous post, it was only after the decline of Kufa that Qom became the hub for such intensive discourse. Nevertheless, before we begin discussing Qom as a spearhead for Imami theological discourse, following the decline of Kufa, it is imperative that we learn about certain influential people of the city so we can later see how and why it was easy for Kufan scholars in the middle of the 2nd century Hijri to migrate to Qom.

First Group

The first group of Ash’aris are those who lived during the lifetime of Imam Baqir (s), Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). Some of these important figures are as follow:

  1. Musa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: It was previously mentioned that he was the first person to express his Shi’ism in the city of Qom. Shaykh Tusi says that he narrated ahadith from both Imam Baqir (s) and Imam Sadiq (s).
  2. Shu’ayb bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Also a narrator and companion of Imam Baqir (s) and Imam Sadiq (s).
  3. ‘Imran bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: He was an Imami scholar in Qom, and some of his meetings with Imam Sadiq (s) during Hajj and in Medina have been recorded in Rijal al-Kashi.
  4. Adam bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s).
  5. Abu Bakr bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s).
  6. ‘Abdul Malik bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: A companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and has been praised by the Imam himself.
  7. Yasa’ bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Although his name hasn’t appeared in primary Rijal works, nevertheless there are two ahadith reported on his authority from Imam Sadiq (s) which implies that he had met the Imam.
  8. Ya’qub bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) – though not much is known about him, Yaqut al-Hamawi in his Mu’jam al-Buldan says he was one of the scholars of Qom.
  9. Ishaq bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). It is possible he may have met Imam Baqir (s) as well – the confusion is due to another similar name who has been deemed a companion of Imam Baqir (s).
  10. Idris bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). Najashi also considers him to have narrated from Imam Ridha (s).
  11. ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). There is a report in Rijal al-Kashi from Imam Sadiq (s) who says about him: Surely you are from us, the Ahl ul-Bayt.[9]
  12. Ahmad bin ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: His name appears in the chain of two narrations in Usul al-Kafi and one narration in Tahdhib ul-Ahkam of Shaykh Tusi where he is seen to be narrating directly from Imam Sadiq (s).

As it can be seen in the brief list above, all individuals are the immediate sons of ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d bin Malik.  There are some children of Ahwas who are recorded to have been scholars as well who are part of this generation, but not a lot is known about them. We have not mentioned them here as the intent was not to produce an exhaustive list of narrators, rather to show that there was a group of active individuals in Qom that was in contact with the Imams and had heard ahadith from them. In any case, below is a genealogy tree of the children of ‘Abdullah which is resourceful – taken from my personal copy of the Shi’a Atlas by Rasul Jafariyan:

Pg-161-Shia-Atlas.thumb.jpg.b4b8cfba7c289da1c916ea3388005835.jpg

In our next post, we will continue to build this list of scholars who lived during the two subsequent generations. Thereafter, we will return back to some of these individuals – such as Sa’d bin Abdullah al-Ash’ari, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa – and focus on their life in a bit more detail and attempt to describe some of their methods and views which would have played an influential role in shaping the theological school of Qom. As we chronologically reach the end of the middle of the 2nd century Hijri, we will begin discussing other influential figures such as Ibrahim bin Hashim, Ali bin Ibrahim, ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Himyari, Muhammad bin Hasan al-Saffar etc. We will also have to briefly discuss certain trends that formed in Kufa – that of Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar al-Ju’fi and Hisham bin Salim al-Jawaliqi – and then show how those impacted theological discourse amongst Shi’i scholars in Qom.

Eventually we will also discuss some thematic issues such as discussions pertaining to knowledge of the Imams, infallibility of the Prophet and Imams, phenomenon of Ghuluww (exaggeration), role of the intellect in theology etc.


[1] A detail account of his conversion is recorded in the book Tarikh Qom by 4th century Hijri scholar Hasan bin Muhammad bin Hasan al-Qumi. Much information regarding the Ash’ari family and the history of Qom in general for this article and subsequent articles, is taken from this book.

[2] Origins of the Islamic State (English translation of Futuh al-Buldan) by al-Baladhuri, Volume 1, pg. 487. Translated by Philip Khuri Hitti, 1916

[3] All reasons are reported in the book Tarikh Qom

[4] This village still exists today. See: https://goo.gl/maps/XSB4i6ZFzdP2

[5] For more information on this aspect of history, please see the section Iraqi Shi’ism in Rasul Jafariyan’s work Shiism and its types during the early centuries available online here: https://www.al-islam.org/al-tawhid/general-al-tawhid/shiism-and-its-types-during-early-centuries-part-1-rasul-jafariyan-0#iraqi-shi-ism

[6] Tarikh Qom, Pg. 278-279

[7] Safinah al-Bihar, Volume 7, Pg. 359

[8] Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 57, Pg. 214

[9] Rijal al-Kashi, Hadith #610, Pg. 334

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      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
    • By starlight in Light Beams
         0
      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.

    • By starlight in Light Beams
         0
      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


       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By Qa'im in Imamology
         5
      Allah has placed important symbols in our religion that we must seek to understand.
      The word "hijab" appears seven times in the Quran. In 7:46, the hijab is a "barrier" that divides Paradise from the Fire. In 19:16-17, Mary "secludes" herself from her family to devote herself to God in solitude. In 33:53, a "screen" protects the Prophet's wives from onlookers. In 41:5, a "barrier" prevents the disbelievers from heartfelt belief. In 42:51, a "veil" prevents Allah from being seen by those He reveals to. In 17:45, a "partition" prevents the disbelievers from comprehending the Quran. In 38:32, a "curtain" prevents Solomon from seeking his prescribed prayers.
      The Quran never refers to the Muslim headdress as a hijab. In our traditional literature, the garment is instead referred to as a khimar, a jilbab, or a kisa'. So this begs the question: what is a hijab in Islamic terminology? A hijab primarily is a barrier that prevents or protects one thing from another. It can be both physical (like a curtain) or metaphysical. A physical hijab may be a simple covering that prevents unwanted access to an object or a person - much like the curtain that would prevent strange men from seeing the Prophet's wives. A metaphysical hijab could be an attitude that a person has - like Mary's seclusion from her people, or like the "social hijab" that prevents unnecessary mixing between men and women. But a metaphysical hijab can also be a boundary that Allah has set between two things.
      The precious pearl hides inside the oyster's mysterious shell. In all instances, the hijab protects something of value from those who have not demonstrated a sincerity to it. It prevents both intentional and accidental harm from coming to the object of value. Only those who have demonstrated a sincerity to the gem beyond the barrier can access its excellence. For example, faith, which is a precious light of Paradise ( الايمان في الجنة ), can only be attained by those who seek it and are open to its reception. If one is insincere to faith, a barrier will be put up to protect it from him, preventing him from its understanding and its benefits. Furthermore, inner understandings of the Quran cannot be attained by a cursory reading of it - the esoteric can only be gained by deep reflection and devotion. Through this hijab, God protects the most priceless secrets from the misunderstanding and misuse of those who seek to abuse them.
      Likewise, even the hijab (both physical and social) of a woman from a stranger protects her from complete objectification. The only ones that can access her feminine energy, her motherhood, her personality, and her physical beauty are (1) her direct relatives, or (2) a man who has sought her expressed consent, the permission of her guardian, and has devoted himself to her sustenance. Once that sincerity is established, the barriers are gradually removed, one after the other, and the sincere man becomes overwhelmed at her marvel.
      The hijab is a Sunna of Allah. It is something that He Himself has enacted, both upon Himself and upon others. Allah has been inclined to put veils in His creation and His religion (الله ستار يحب الستر). He has also created veils for Himself - He created seven veils of light between Himself and the creation ( إن الله خلق السماوات سبعاً والأرضين سبعاً والحجب سبعاً ). This light is said to inspire the creation with His greatness, His guidance, and His love ( لما اسري بي إلى السماء بلغ بي جبرئيل مكانا لم يطأه قط جبرئيل فكشف له فأراه الله من نور عظمته ما أحب ). The purpose of these veils is twofold: (1) to prevent His recognition and His presence from the insincere disbelievers, and (2) to manifest His signs to those who recognize Him. Allah's veils are the epitome example for veiling in Islam - they both prevent and inspire. All other hijabs are a symbol of His ultimate and primordial hijab - a hijab is to be beautiful, inspiring guidance and awe, but also purposeful in providing the security of an object or an idea.
      Allah's essence is a mystery. It cannot be compared to anything, and it is contrary to all that comes to mind. The divine mystery of God's nature is called "the secret" (al-sir) in our literature. One of the roles of the Guide is to protect this secret from corruption - meaning, to prevent the people from generating a polytheistic understandings of Allah's nature. The Guide goes through extra trouble to make sure that God's mystery is kept with distance to prevent it from being defiled. Pure monotheism is their priority.
      At the same time, Allah has one more very important luminous hijab: the Prophet Muhammad (s). In al-Kafi, the Prophet is called the hijab of Allah ( محمد حجاب الله تبارك وتعالى ), and the same is said in Tafsir al-`Ayashi ( بمحمد صلى الله عليه وآله تطمئن وهو ذكر الله وحجابه ). This is because the Prophet is the ultimate guardian of Allah's essence, protecting monotheistic theology from any and all corruption. Indeed, the Prophet was raised beyond all of Allah's other veils of light during the mi`raj ( فلمّا اُسرى بالنبيّ ( صلّى الله عليه وآله ) فكان من ربّه كقاب قوسين أو أدنى رفع له حجاب من حجبه فكبّر رسول الل ), and was brought closer to Allah than any other creation. The Prophet also fulfills the other function of God's light hijabs, which is to guide and to inspire the creation to God. Everything about his form and his personality has been made for us to approach Allah and understand His attributes better. He is called "the Reminder" (al-Dhikr) because he is the ultimate proof of Allah and His most luminous light. It is not a coincidence that the Ahl al-Kisa' are the "People of the Cloak" - they are a sacred and primordial union that simultaneously protect the hidden and manifest the wisdom of God.
      Likewise, Lady Fatima put extra veils between her and those who had oppressed her - she wrapped her scarf around her head, covered herself in her cloak, surrounded herself with her family, stepped on the ends of her dress, and placed a curtain before her and the Caliphal elites ( لما أجمع أبوبكر وعمر على منع فاطمة عليها السلام فدكا و بلغها ذلك لاثت خمارها على رأسها و اشتملت بجلبابها وأقبلت في لمةٍ من حفدتها ونساء قومها تطأ ذيولها ما تخرم مشيتها مشية رسول الله ( ص ) حتى دخلت على أبي بكر وهو في حشد من المهاجرين والأنصار وغيرهم فنيطت دونها ملاءة فجلست ).
      It is important that we do not just relegate this beautiful concept of hijab to a headdress. A headdress without the intention and practice of hijab is just another piece of cloth. But a modest dress can be a small part of a larger, more meaningful dynamic. We are to carry out the hijab in all of our practices: we cover our good deeds, we protect our family members from insincere people, we protect the secrets of Ahl al-Bayt from their enemies, we recognize that the hidden intentions are more important than the apparent actions, we seek the esoteric understandings of our religion, and we recognize the limits in both theology and in society.
      May Allah plant the needed humility in the garden of our hearts, so that the veil of occultation is lifted between us and our Imam for a nourishing relationship with him.
    • By Ibn al-Hussain in Just Another Muslim Blogger
         0
      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
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