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Mansur Bakhtiari

Using Philosophy in Religion

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Bismillah and Salam Alaykum

Okay, so this is something I've been thinking about for some time in light of discussions I've been having with brothers here and on my discord server. People prove the concept of Wahdat al-Wujud (in the context I'm referring to it's the belief that existence is a reality and not an attribute, in that everything in existence is one) through philosophy. It's a philosophical opinion in regards to Tawhid. So can we apply a concept which is derived from philosophy and not the Quran/Hadith to define our belief in Tawhid? 

@Ibn al-Hussain @Sumerian @Ibn Al-Shahid

Like brother Ibn al-Hussain said on the thread that I created about Ibn Arabi, the topic has been discussed many times on this forum so maybe this thread will contribute to moving the discussions regarding Wahdat al-Wujood forward. i think this is a necessary principle at least for myself to accept Wahdat al-Wujud because it's not based off of the Quran and Hadith, it's a philosophical principle. So can philosophy be used in our understanding of Tawhid would be a good summary to this post.

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4 hours ago, Mansur Bakhtiari said:

So can we apply a concept which is derived from philosophy and not the Quran/Hadith to define our belief in Tawhid? 

 

وعليكم السلام

Many scholars have said that Prophets and Messengers are a mercy from Allah and that you can prove Allah with your brain alone. If your brain can reach the conclusion that Allah exists, then it surely can reach many other conclusions. If logic is used correctly it can prevent you from doing any sin. Logic is a philosophical topic. 

So yes, we can use philosophy to define our belief in Tawhid. 

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16 hours ago, Mansur Bakhtiari said:

 So can we apply a concept which is derived from philosophy and not the Quran/Hadith to define our belief in Tawhid?

 

  • Do you think that concept derived from philosophy can't be the same concept derived from Quran/Hadith?
  • Do you think one can't derive a concept from Quran/Hadith with the help of philosophy?
  • Do you think one can't derive a concept from philosophy with the help of Quran/Hadith?

 

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12 hours ago, Ibn Al-Shahid said:

وعليكم السلام

Many scholars have said that Prophets and Messengers are a mercy from Allah and that you can prove Allah with your brain alone. If your brain can reach the conclusion that Allah exists, then it surely can reach many other conclusions. If logic is used correctly it can prevent you from doing any sin. Logic is a philosophical topic. 

So yes, we can use philosophy to define our belief in Tawhid. 

Logic is the foundation,base or basis and if you know logical laws then you can learn or practice philosophy, right?

Alaykum El Selaam

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33 minutes ago, Mohammed-Mehdi said:

Logic is the foundation,base or basis and if you know logical laws then you can learn or practice philosophy, right?

Alaykum El Selaam

Knowing the laws of logic is the beginning step, implementing them correctly is the most important thing.

Wa alaykum Al-salam

3 hours ago, Mansur Bakhtiari said:

Hmm, well I understand that argument but is there any backing from the words of Ahlulbayt (as)?

I am not a hadith expert, try asking one of the brothers like Islamic Salvation or Qaim. They're much more versed in that section.

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Just now, Ibn Al-Shahid said:

Knowing the laws of logic is the beginning step, implementing them correctly is the most important thing.

Wa alaykum Al-salam

I am not a hadith expert, try asking one of the brothers like Islamic Salvation or Qaim. They're much more versed in that section.

Any books or brief advice on that point ? To make sure we are implenting them correctly.

The logical laws I learned like: something is 1. possible, 2. impossible, 3 has to be the case.  , I think those I am implementing that right using to my advantage

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1 minute ago, Mohammed-Mehdi said:

Any books or brief advice on that point ? To make sure we are implenting them correctly.

The logical laws I learned like: something is 1. possible, 2. impossible, 3 has to be the case.  , I think those I am implementing that right using to my advantage

I suggest reading (or if you know Arabic/Farsi, there are voice recordings of hawza lectures you could listen to) Mantiq Al-Muthafar with Tashih because some of his theories were proved incorrect. Logic is much more deeper than that. There are so many parts to it.

If you speak Arabic, listen to the lectures here:

https://shiavoice.com/cat-8060

If not, you could probably find online videos/recordings of logic lectures in your language. 

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7 hours ago, 000 said:
  • Do you think that concept derived from philosophy can't be the same concept derived from Quran/Hadith?
  • Do you think one can't derive a concept from Quran/Hadith with the help of philosophy?
  • Do you think one can't derive a concept from philosophy with the help of Quran/Hadith?

 

I don't believe that philosophy doesn't have a role in Islam, don't get me wrong. An ex-sunni brother told me that some salafi's declared basic logic as completely haram, explains the whole mess called Muhammad bin Salman :grin:. But in the case of some theories like Asalah al-Wujud and Wahdat al-Wujud there isn't very much evidence from Quran and Hadith, yet our respected ulema (at least many of them) agree with it. So where do we draw the line. If there is a concept which has immense philosophical (keeping in mind that philosophy can be flawed while Quran/Ahlulbayt (as) can not be) evidences but not very much Quranic and Hadith evidence for it, do we accept it on the basis of philosophical evidences, or reject on the basis of lack of philosophical evidence? The reason I need to have a red line especially in my case is because I am a layman. I am obligated to investigate something before accepting it as a part of tawhid/aqeedah, but I have to be careful not to go astray since philosophy can be murky waters.

6 hours ago, Mohammed-Mehdi said:

Any books or brief advice on that point ? To make sure we are implenting them correctly.

The logical laws I learned like: something is 1. possible, 2. impossible, 3 has to be the case.  , I think those I am implementing that right using to my advantage

I personally have the book brother Ibn al-Shahid mentioned (mantiq al-muzzafar in farsi), along with the english book "A Study Guide to Logic" by Sheikh Mateen Charbonneau (it's $9 at Yasin Publications). Mantiq al-Muzzafar if you look has been partly translated to english and I think is available on amazon. There is another one which brother Ibn al-Hussain recommended to me when I was ranting about how much I wanted to go to hawza last year, which is "A Summary of Logic" by Ayatollah Sayed Sadiq al-Shirazi (https://www.al-islam.org/file/summary-logic-sayyid-sadiq-shirazi). I'm interested in looking into these when I get the time Insha Allah.

 

@Islamic Salvation @Qa'im any ahadith from Ahlulbayt (as) on this topic?

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3 hours ago, Dhulfikar said:

We are talking here about Islamic philosophy right? Not western philosophy that mostly confuse people. 

Logic was compiled by Aristotle, which is western. It was perfected by Sheikh Ibn Sina. There is no problem in taking philosophy from the west if it benefits us. As proved by Alama Tabatabai. He talked about this issue.

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:salam:

I don't mind getting into this discussion as long as some parameters are defined. The discussion on this should not be by "appealing to authority", and if you do appeal to authority you do it only to put forth the arguments and evidence of a scholar - OR - you bring your own personal arguments and evidence based on what you have understood. This way the discussion will be concentrated on the argument itself, and not on who is making the argument. For example, I don't care if numerous scholars have a problem with Wahdat al-Wujud or if Shaykh Hurr al-Amili or Ayatullah Ishaq Fayyaz consider Ibn Arabi a heretic or Ayatullah Hasanzadeh considers him a Shi'a, or if Aristotle wrote about Logic, or if Hisham bin al-Hakam wrote a refutation on Aristotle or anything of that sort. What matters to me is the reasoning for why one believes such a thing. Naturally, this requires one to take a step back and strip the views of these highly respected scholars from holding any sanctity, and consider them open to invalidity.

Another point I want to mention is that in order to engage in this discussion, one needs to look at it as a complete outsider. Consider yourself a non-Muslim, a person who has nothing at his or her disposal except tools of knowledge that all humans share (intellect, sensory knowledge, experimentation, knowledge by presence). Try to discard as much baggage as you can with regards to what you think you have understood from religious texts about God or anything else. In other words, if you want this discussion to go anywhere, don't enter it dogmatically and don't take any premise for granted (except self-evident axioms). If any non-axiomatic premise is being taken for granted, then that needs to be made clear, so that participants know that this is a premise being taken for granted simply because both sides agree to it (thus, it will not require a separate discussion of its own).  For example, a self-evident axiom may be: I exist, but the axiom: a reality external to me also exists may not be self-evident, but given both participants agree to it, we can take it for granted for the purpose of the discussion.

All this is much easier said than done, even if we may tell ourselves otherwise.The discussion concerning intellect vs. revelation or transmitted knowledge ('aql vs. naql) is a challenging one that has not been completely settled even until today. Thus it is important to clarify what we mean by all terms we use as to diminish possible misunderstanding and confusion.

---

To start off, I will make my own position clear:

When I use the word intellect ('aql), on the onset, I am referring to the mere ability to conceptualize and put together concepts in order to formulate and assent to propositions and syllogisms. The intellect itself can perceive certain realities, while other realities it itself knows it cannot perceive them on its own. The latter are things that are more often than not, particularities. For example, there is no way to say that a man named Muhammad (p) was a Prophet in Arabia through purely rational reasoning. You will have to resort to transmitted knowledge (history, narrations, affirming the miracle of the Qur'an yourself etc.) alongside your intellect to conclude that a man named Muhammad (p) was actually a Prophet.

That being said, the intellect is one of the most important criteria I possess to judge the truth or invalidity of any given proposition. As my back-up to establishing this claim, I can also refer to numerous traditions in Shi'i hadith works that reiterate the same thing. For me, if revelation and the traditions hold any value, they hold value if we have:

1) certainty that they were actually uttered the way we have them at our disposal today, and

2) certainty with regards to their intended meanings.

We don't have both of these for more than 90% of the traditions or verses (I believe #1 even applies to some of the verses of the Qur'an due to Qira'at differences) - thus they are called prima-facie or apparent meanings. So, when it comes to the Qur'an and Hadith you are more often than not, dealing with speculative knowledge and very little certain knowledge. So to put it in simple terms, the premises I hold to be true are:

1) The intellect is the most valuable tool we have for 2 reasons:

a) it can be used to judge the validity and invalidity of many propositions, especially universal propositions, and

b) one can formulate arguments by it to convince others of their beliefs, and thus engage in dialogue or debate (something that cannot be done through knowledge by presence, or spiritual visions - unless both of those are also turned into propositions by the intellect and turned into syllogisms). If you were to begin from scratch, this will be the tool that will get you to God (alongside knowledge by presence), and beyond that it will get you to Islam while swifting through transmitted knowledge.

2) The intellect realizes the authority of revelation and the words of an infallible, specially in particularities and theological matters that cannot be perceived by the intellect

3) We have two challenges at our disposal:

a) majority of the traditions are speculative from the perspective of us determining whether they were uttered in those exact words, and

b) majority of the verses and traditions are speculative from the perspective of us determining their exact intended meaning - so they they are considered prima-facie or apparent meanings, leaving them open to many possible interpretations

The above 3 are my basic premises and presumptions - if anyone disagrees or has a question, feel free to ask and I will try to respond. Given the above 3 premises, if one can prove Asalat al-Wujud and subsequently Wahdat al-Wujud on purely rational grounds, they will have no choice but to accept it, even if their speculative understanding of the Qur'anic verses or traditions tells them it cannot be true - because certainty triumphs speculation. Questioning the intellect in those scenarios is problematic, because the intellect was the very tool by which they arrived at religion to begin with. To question the certain-findings of your own intellect because of a speculative report or a speculative understanding of a verse and a tradition should necessarily dent your trust in your own intellect, and it should even lead to you questioning your whole religion.

This works out to be exactly like the notion of infallibility that the majority of Shi'i scholars accept. They arrive at the conclusion (primarily through the intellect first) that the Prophet was infallible and therefore all traditions that we have on Sahw al-Nabi are rejected by them completely. Anyone who has done research on this knows that the traditions on Sahw al-Nabi are not just 1 or 2, but well over 10, and not to mention they also exist in Sunni works. Yet, because these scholars claim to have proven with certainty that the Prophet was infallible, they have no choice, but to either 1) reject these traditions altogether, or 2) find an explanation for them (in the case of Sahw al-Nabi, they say the narrations were uttered in Taqiyyah). In the case of Asalat or Wahdat al-Wujud, Shi'i scholars do the exact same thing, and inshallah when we get to it, I can quote numerous traditions or verses that these scholars quote to show what they arrived at with their intellect is also present in transmitted knowledge. If there are any traditions that seem to go against Wahdat or Asalat al-Wujud, they will be forced to either reject them, or explain them away in a way in which they can be reconciled with the certain findings of their intellect.

So to conclude:

Quote

If there is a concept which has immense philosophical (keeping in mind that philosophy can be flawed while Quran/Ahlulbayt (as) can not be) evidences but not very much Quranic and Hadith evidence for it, do we accept it on the basis of philosophical evidences, or reject on the basis of lack of philosophical evidence?

The Qur'an and Ahl ul-Bayt can't be flawed, but our understanding of what they meant and what we have at our disposal (with all the issues that these traditions came down to us) can be flawed, highly subjective, and deficient. Our intellectual conclusions are flawed when there is a fallacy in our argument (and I mean fallacy in a very general sense which also includes absence, limitation, and subjectivity of our knowledge with respect to somethings), otherwise, no, I don't believe the intellect can be flawed.

Based on these outlines, we can move on to the actual discussion of Asalat al-Wujud if the members are interested.

Wasalam

Edited by Ibn al-Hussain

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Okay brother @Ibn al-Hussain I understand your position, but my only problem is that it seems like a grey area to define God with our aql. By that I mean we are coming to a conclusion of what God is solely through our aql, but there are hadiths and quranic verses which I see as going against this. Like for example it Kitab at-Tawhid:

1 - أبي رحمه الله قال: حدثنا سعد بن عبد الله، قال: حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن علي بن رئاب، عن أبي بصير، قال: قال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: تكلموا في خلق الله ولا تكلموا في الله فإن الكلام في الله لا يزيد إلا تحيرا.

Abi Rahmat Allah said: From Sa'ad bin Abdillah, from Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Isa, from Hassan bin Mahboub, from Ali bin Ra'ab, from Abi Baseer who said: Abi Ja'far (as) said: Speak on the creation of Allah and do not speak about Allah for speech on Allah does not provide except confusion.

How I would interpret this is that our aql can't comprehend all things, and especially something as great as Allah. 

But from what I understand regarding Asalah al-Wujud it's not a question of defining God but more a question of defining existence, no? Wasalam.

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On 2/4/2018 at 9:57 PM, Mansur Bakhtiari said:

but my only problem is that it seems like a grey area to define God with our aql. By that I mean we are coming to a conclusion of what God is solely through our aql, but there are hadiths and quranic verses which I see as going against this. Like for example it Kitab at-Tawhid:

1 - أبي رحمه الله قال: حدثنا سعد بن عبد الله، قال: حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن علي بن رئاب، عن أبي بصير، قال: قال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: تكلموا في خلق الله ولا تكلموا في الله فإن الكلام في الله لا يزيد إلا تحيرا.

Abi Rahmat Allah said: From Sa'ad bin Abdillah, from Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Isa, from Hassan bin Mahboub, from Ali bin Ra'ab, from Abi Baseer who said: Abi Ja'far (as) said: Speak on the creation of Allah and do not speak about Allah for speech on Allah does not provide except confusion.

How I would interpret this is that our aql can't comprehend all things, and especially something as great as Allah. 

Sticking to the logical order of our argument is important in these topics. As of the stage we are in right now, your quotations of traditions is utterly pointless and should mean nothing - because remember, before I end up choosing Islam as a religion out of the hundreds of religions out there, and then end up choosing Shi'ism from a pool of dozens of sects, and then end up choosing this specific interpretation you are giving me for this single tradition, I actually have nothing but my sole intellect, sensory knowledge, experimentation, and knowledge by presence to work with. I need to know there is a God, and I need to be able to tell my self that this God actually would send Prophets, to begin with. In other words, I need to know something about God, if you expect me or anyone else to even think about arriving at the stage you are presenting your argument from.

If I were to follow your interpretation of this tradition right from the get-go and as an outsider to the religion, and not discuss or contemplate over God سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى - the way you have understood it, and there are a few other similar ones that say do not contemplate over God either - then there is no hope in comprehending anything about God and that will be the end of my endeavour. There is no way I could even prove things like whether God needs to send a Prophet or not, since according to the common Shi'i understanding of God, this argument depends on establishing certain attributes of God - and God's attributes are not separate from His existence, they are one and the same. In other words, I have to be able to comprehend something about him if I am to get anywhere. On the contrary, if I arrive at the same tradition after concluding that God has certain qualities and attributes, I have no choice but to reject this tradition or interpret in a way that will make sense of it - perhaps it will require exhaustive contextualization so we can see under what circumstances this tradition was uttered, or perhaps we can pin-point a specific aspect of God it is referring to after we put together all traditions and verses on the subject together; but all of this is secondary.

This is why I said that it is important to approach this topic as an outsider, not from an insider who has taken God's existence and some other attributes for granted. If you want to approach it as an outsider then there is no reason to quote traditions right now. If you want to discuss it as an insider, then you also need to explain these traditions to me which say the best of worships is to contemplate regarding Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى and to recognize Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى through Himself:

عِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ أَبِي نَصْرٍ عَنْ بَعْضِ رِجَالِهِ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ: أَفْضَلُ الْعِبَادَةِ إِدْمَانُ التَّفَكُّرِ فِي اللَّهِ وَ فِي قُدْرَتِهِ

قَالَ السَّيَّارِيُّ وَ سَمِعْتُهُ يَقُولُ لَيْسَ الْعِبَادَةُ كَثْرَةَ الصِّيَامِ وَ الصَّلَاةِ إِنَّمَا الْعِبَادَةُ التَّفَكُّرُ فِي اللَّهِ تَبَارَكَ وَ تَعَالَى‏

 عَلِيُّ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ عَمَّنْ ذَكَرَهُ عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِيسَى عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ حُمْرَانَ عَنِ الْفَضْلِ بْنِ السَّكَنِ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ قَالَ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ع اعْرِفُوا اللَّهَ بِاللَّهِ وَ الرَّسُولَ بِالرِّسَالَةِ وَ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ بِالْأَمْرِ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَ الْعَدْلِ وَ الْإِحْسَان‏

There are other traditions that can also be cited (for example you will need to explain all the Shi'i theologians "talking about God" and debating over him while the Imams would encourage them and help them out as well), but I think I have made my point through demonstrating an apparent contradiction in these traditions.

Quote

But from what I understand regarding Asalah al-Wujud it's not a question of defining God but more a question of defining existence, no? Wasalam.

They will essentially end up saying God is Existence - they are one and the same. Let us take it one step at a time though. We need to first agree whether we are willing to discard - to the best of our abilities - any baggage we may have brought with us through our extremely tunnel-visioned interpretation and understanding of religion where all these crucial premises are just being taken for granted.

Wasalam

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