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.InshAllah.

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Everything posted by .InshAllah.

  1. If its very problematic, then its very problematic for everyone including you, as you cannot escape using some norms when trying to understand the teachings of Ahlul Bayt as. The norm you use seems to be something like : if biographers have deemed transmitters of a hadith reliable, and the transmitters are connected, then accept the literal meaning of the hadith as the truth. Even if this rule is correct, an attempt to prove it from the Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) will be circular as it will rely on the same rule. You could attempt to prove it by applying another norm to the hadith, but then what I said will apply to that norm.
  2. Accepting certain interpretative norms is a necessary prerequisite to understanding anything from the ahadith. Without already accepting some norms you can’t derive anything from the texts. So it makes no sense to say they have to all come from the Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام).
  3. UMSL philosophers win nearly $1 million grant from John Templeton Foundation JAN/22/2019 | POSTED BY STEVE WALENTIK Philosophy Professors Jon McGinnis and Billy Dunaway won a nearly $1 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to examine the writings of medieval Islamic thinkers for answers to questions of contemporary philosophy of religion. (Photos by August Jennewein) What started as a conversation over beers at a local tavern has led, more than a year later, to $1.1 million in research funding for two members of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Professor Jon McGinnis and Assistant Professor Billy Dunaway concocted their idea to bring together medieval Islamic philosophy and apply it to contemporary questions about the epistemology of religion, and they secured a grant of $933,000 from the John Templeton Foundation plus additional funding from UMSL to support the project, entitled “The Christian West and Islamic East: Theology, Science, and Knowledge.” “We’re going to start looking at figures who never were translated or even known in the Latin tradition, and yet who are still dealing with the same sorts of problems and questions,” McGinnis said. “What can we know? What is the relationship between science and the claims of religion? If there is a God, what is God’s relation to creation?” These are questions that contemporary philosophers of religion continue to explore, but existing discussions don’t draw on the writings of medieval Islamic thinkers. “Their answers to those questions haven’t been explored,” McGinnis said. “They’re the ones that Templeton is interested in. The Arabs were interested in them, and their arguments are highly sophisticated and really good.” McGinnis and Dunaway hope the grant will help them bring more attention to this area of study and help inspire more study from younger scholars in the early stages of their careers. “We want to involve older scholars, but a lot of times older scholars have their research program set and that’s what they do,” Dunaway said. “The whole point of this is it’s something slightly different than what’s being done already.” They plan to invite academics from different regions of the world, including the Middle East, to conferences or workshops each of the next three summers. They will be opportunities for individuals to present their work but also to become more familiar with texts to which they otherwise might never be exposed. The plan is to hold the first two workshops at UMSL, but the 2021 event will take place at the University of Oxford in England. “Given the current political climate, bringing folks from the Middle East over here may be more difficult,” McGinnis said. “It’s just a fact. So Templeton said, ‘We’ve got these contacts in Oxford …’ And we’re like, ‘Oxford? We’d love to be in Oxford.’” With the grant, McGinnis and Dunaway also plan to award research stipends to promising young scholars. They hope to fund at least one master’s student in the Department of Philosophy to serve as a research assistant. They also plan to bring a visiting scholar in Islamic philosophy to the UMSL campus in 2020. They hope that individual will deliver a public lecture, just one of the events they intend to hold to involve the public. McGinnis and Dunaway want the project to help generate scholarly articles, presentations, an edited volume and a special journal issue that examines the contributions the Islamic tradition can make to contemporary debates. McGinnis, who chairs the Department of Philosophy, has spent much of his career researching medieval Islamic thinkers, an area of study that also includes some Christian and Jewish philosophers writing at the time in Arabic. His interest developed during his time studying classical philosophy as a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. He noticed much work being done on the writings of Greek and Latin philosophers. But a gap existed in between them. “What was happening is as classicists were working, they were coming up against this wall that was the Arabic language,” McGinnis said. He received a fellowship to learn Arabic and spent time studying in Egypt. It has paid dividends throughout his career since, helping him gain access to ideas from prominent thinkers such as Avicenna, Averroes and Moses Maimonides, who remain largely overlooked in the English-speaking world. Dunaway’s work has been centered more on ethics, metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of language. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan and went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford under John Hawthorne, a noted epistemologist who also works in the philosophy of religion. McGinnis has served as one of Dunaway’s mentors since Dunaway came to UMSL four years ago, and they meet regularly – occasionally off campus at Three Kings Public House in the Delmar Loop. “In good philosophical fashion, we were sitting over a beer discussing his paper, which was drawing on the Medieval Latin philosopher Duns Scotus,” McGinnis said. “I said, ‘Oh, these Muslim guys I read are kind of interested in a similar problem and have similar but slightly different answers.’” The more they talked, they realized the potential of bringing these two disciplines together, and Dunaway knew from his time with Hawthorne that there was a chance the Templeton Foundation might fund just such a project. They’re both elated that instinct was correct, that their formal proposal was accepted and they’re beginning the work. “It’s a lot of fostering more intellectual engagement by getting people with the different norms and expectations of different intellectual communities together,” Dunaway said. “The hope is that after the project is done people continue with the connections they’ve made and there’s more engagement and diversity in the intellectual environment.” https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/2019/01/22/mcginnis-dunaway-templeton/
  4. Yes they play a very positive role in academia by funding important projects. Alfrede Mele's work on free will and the libet experiments come to mind - multiple threads on Shiachat about this. Whats particularly interesting about Templeton is that the people they fund arent necessarily theists, even if the projects are favourable or relevant to theistic belief
  5. I heard from Aqā Mīrza Jafar Shīrāzī – from Tabrīz – regarding the knowledge of the Imams, he said: at times the knowledge of something can be perfection, while other times the ignorance of something can be perfection and Allah would take knowledge away from the Imams (a) in those later cases. For example, the night when Imam Ali (a) slept on the bed of the Prophet (p), if he had known that sleeping on the bed will not result in any harm, this would not have been an instance of perfection. The condition of perfection which was exhibited through the sacrifice of the Imam (a) is that he should not know, and he did not know. In cases where ignorance is a condition of acquiring perfection, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) takes away the knowledge. Source: Dars Khārij of Āyatullah Sayyid Shubayrī Zanjāni, 23rd September 1995 https://www.iqraonline.net/the-martyrdom-of-lady-Zahra-s-and-maintaining-respect-on-both-the-first-and-second-fatimiyyah/ *** I wouldn't say that ignorance can be perfection, but rather that it is sometimes a prerequisite for performing a great deed and perfecting one's character. I know some people want to say that the Ahlul Bayt had complete knowledge of the unseen, but if that was the case then it would diminish the value of many of their actions. This is the opposite of what you would expect, as being very knowledgeable is a praiseworthy trait, yet it does seem that too much knowledge in certain situations undermines the value of actions. If Imam Ali (عليه السلام) knew beforehand that no harm would come to him when he slept in the Prophets (sawa) bed, then there was nothing special about him sleeping in the Prophet's bed. What made his action special was the he was putting himself in harms way for the sake of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and the Prophet (sawa).
  6. .InshAllah.

    Ignorance and Perfection

    This raises the question of how we deal with narrations that say that the Ahlul Bayt knew 'what was, and what will be and what won't be until the day of judgement'. One possible way is to understand them as saying that the Ahlul Bayt have access to all knowledge. There are other traditions which say that if the Ahlul Bayt ask Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) about something then He tells them. This implies that they don’t have direct knowledge of all things, but they do have access to all knowledge as Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) would tell them if they asked. They can be said to know everything only in the sense of say a government official saying 'we know everything about you', I.e. there is a database that contains all the information about you that the government has access to, not that there is one person who has all the information about you in his mind. In this way we can also make sense of the narrations in which the Imams explicitly deny ilm ghayb: having access to knowledge from God is not the same as literally knowing everything
  7. I take back the harsh language but still think that such a mahr request is inappropriate
  8. $20,000 mahr is in most cases disgraceful. Any woman who asked this from me I would have told goodbye. I understand cultures are different but its already hard enough for people to get married without imposing extortionate mahr on young men. A mu'mina would follow Sayyida Fatimas example. Yes often its the parents who make this request, but I would expect the woman to be embarrassed at her parents insistence on such a value. If this wasnt clear to me then a definite goodbye
  9. .InshAllah.

    Origin of diseases

    Salam @Qa'im, what is the original source for this?
  10. .InshAllah.

    Reality

    In answer to the specific scenario above: This is more of a problem for the materialist who thinks our mind is just a complex physical computer. If we are immaterial souls then its impossible that we are nothing but complex code in a computer simulation.
  11. Salam Tabrisi in Majma' albayan mentions one opinion that their لباس (clothes) was نور (light). I've not looked into why some have said this, but it suggests something more spiritual that they lost when they disobeyed God. Here is another (related) possibility. When we look at others often we miss certain features that are right infront of us, e.g. someone might have brown hair but when we saw them we just didnt register that, or they may have glasses but we see past them. This is because our attention is focused on a certain aspect of their being but not on others. Perhaps (and this is my speculation which I give as a logical possibility only) Adam and Hawa were truly naked in the physical sense, but given their proximity to God they didnt register that about each other, because it just didnt matter to them. Clothes conceal, much like darkness does ( God describes night as لباس) and in this case their taqwa was the concealer - the لباس. The spiritual outcome of eating from the tree was to become more focused on the material and physical, and so all of a sudden they became naked to each other.
  12. Salam There are ways to seek knowledge without impacting much on career or family time, e.g. listening to lectures during your commute, or when shopping and doing usual errands, or reading if you get public transport. I spend about 8hrs a week on average commuting to/from work - thats potentially 8hrs of lectures. Add in time grocery shopping or driving to other places and its potentially over 10hrs. I used to listen a lot to tafsir by sh bahmanpour from SICM until they changed their website and removed the lectures. Now I mostly listen to sh Shomali on philosophy and akhlaq from the Hawza England website.
  13. .InshAllah.

    Is sex binary?

    3 articles worth reading. First is a NYT opinion piece by a biologist and gender studies prof arguing that sex is not binary. Second is from a philosopher rebutting the first article. Third is from another philosopher more or less agreeing with the second with some important qualifications. Why Sex Is Not Binary by Anne Fausto-Sterling, in the NYT Is Sex Binary by Alex Byrne Byrne on why sex is binary by Edward Feser Happy reading!
  14. .InshAllah.

    What was achieved out of Karbala?

    @Ibn al-Hussain lots of interesting points as always. I think we should look at the Imam's actions in the context of his desire for Islah - betterment of the Ummah of the Prophet (s). After all this is what the Imam told us he was doing. This betterment can be achieved by many different routes, although they are not all equally effective. One route to the betterment is to overthrow Yazid. When the Kufans betrayed him, this route was blocked. Another route to betterment is to influence Yazid by meeting him and addressing him directly. The Imam coming with his family and close companions would likely attract the attention of people in Shaam and may put some pressure on Yazid to make some changes. Or Yazid may just kill the Imam and his family and make them martyrs. And this brings me to the third way to achieve betterment, which is through self sacrifice. In the end, it was the third way that was realised. The Imam offered to go elsewhere - this is a fourth way to achieve betterment. To go to another community and influence them, and perhaps try again when he builds up enough support there. The Imam had one goal - Islah - but had to alter his plans based on the changing situation he found himself in. But the ultimate goal was always the same. He never did full blown taqiyya and give allegiance as this would have undermined his goal. It would have legitimised Ibn Ziyad and Yazid in a way that was too damaging to his goal of Islah . Just as there are actions that promote Islah, so too are there actions which undermine it.
  15. .InshAllah.

    Is sex binary?

    If you want to make the biggest impact against harmful ideologies then refute them and discredit the people promoting them. Most of the stuff coming out of gender theory departments is harmful, but shirk and atheism is surely worse. Yet Allah swt presents rational arguments against these in the Qur'an, e.g 'were they created from nothing, or are they their own creators'. We should let the Qur'an be our guide.
  16. .InshAllah.

    Is sex binary?

    I dont disagree with you here. If you pay attention to my post you will see 2 well argued articles refuting the gender studies piece. The point of posting the NYT piece is firstly to be aware of their arguments and secondly to give the other 2 articles context.
  17. .InshAllah.

    Crisis of Identity

    The words of Nietzsche have reached a crescendo in the postmodern world we inhabit today where the idol of the “self” is worshipped. Secularism is the new world order and disbelief is the default ‘faith’, having successfully trickled down from the elite bourgeoisie to reach the masses. This reality hit me like a ton of bricks as I stared with my mouth agar at the infamous words of Nietzsche neatly printed on the first page of my required reading notes for the Political Science degree I had enrolled in. After up hauling my entire life from Pakistan to England so I could be ‘educated’ from a prestigious university and begin a ‘successful’ life, I was faced with a conundrum. How do I authentically live my faith whilst immersed in an environment that was bent on eradicating God from the hearts and minds of people? This is not an academic critique or even a critique for that matter of modernisms. This is not a rebuttal or a defense. It is not within the scope of this article to deconstruct postmodernism and reveal it for the fallacious ideology that it is. This is simply a regurgitation of my thoughts as I grapple with my faith in this unprecedented new world we find ourselves in. I am well aware that I am far from the only young Muslim struggling to uphold Islamic orthodoxy in an era where ‘traditional’ and ‘conservative’ is synonymous with irrational and narrow-mindedness. Plagued with doubts. Wrought by uncertainties. Endeavouring to make sense of the world, with a silent resolve to not cave in. This is the jihad of the young Muslim — and the casualties are mounting. My eyes welled with tears as I gazed at my notes; and frankly, I lost it. I lost my composure. I felt vulnerable. Ambushed without any intellectual arsenal to defend my faith with. My consciousness echoed the words “here we go again”. This was not the first time I felt the need to take cover in order to preserve my faith. I pulled out my prayer rug, laid it on the floor, faced it towards Mecca, dived into sajdah and sobbed. Why was I rattled? Because Nietzsche was right, his brazen statement was a true reflection of this new Godless world. It packed a punch for me and to understand that, let me take you back. Back to Pakistan. Back to life ‘before’. Before I knew Islam. Who I Was At this stage, you are probably wondering if I am a convert to the faith. Technically, no. I am desi so I inherited Islam as a cultural identity. Being brown and being Muslim just went hand in hand. You wore shalwar kameez, ate samosas, and fasted for a month out of the year. That is what I had known. Your run of the mill, middle class, culturally Muslim, Pakistani girl. Fiercely patriotic about my country, and en route to becoming a bona fide liberal. Secretly lamenting marriage as a deplorable institution whose sole purpose was the subjugation of women, considered women who covered as the acme of regression, and viewed religion with more than just an air of suspicion. My aspirations in life were to study really hard so I could party really hard later on in life. Higher ideals? Well, the only thing that I was taught to revere via the media and education system was the nation-state and ‘serving’ it was the epitome of living with purpose. I can almost hear reverberations of Nusret Fateh Alis popular nationalistic song “Mera Iman Pakistan”, i.e., Pakistan is my faith. The contested claim is that Pakistan was made so Islam could prosper in this land. I would argue that 70 years later, our motto is “Pakistan must prosper, be it with or without Islam”. Preferably without. It was very easy for the nation-state to take the place of God because God was relegated to simply garnishing my sentences with mashAllah and inshaAllah. God was absent at home. He was a vengeful, spiteful, angry God outside the home that big, burly men would berate you to fear. These spokespeople for God (that is how I saw them) were the laughing stock of the upper middle classes and no one with an iota of intelligence would take them seriously. They seemed incapable of benefitting society in any measurable fashion so they might as well isolate themselves in madrassas and carry on with their chanting or whatever it is that they do. Out of sight, out of mind. That is what the ulema were. In a nutshell, irrelevant at best and a nuisance at worst. I will remind you again, I lived in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. These are my frank admissions and believe me, there are a plethora of young people that concur with these views. All the people that seemed to care about religion were poor and uneducated for the most part and largely derided. The way in which people of the upper echelons of society lived their life, it was apparent that only their names reflected any association with Islam. I believed that people continued to indulge in some of the rituals in order to maintain a façade because they would rather not deal with the social repercussions of openly admitting that they did not really think that barakah was a real thing or that two angel scribes sit on your shoulders and write down your deeds. Secretly, they (I include my past self in this group) thought the whole concept was ridiculous. Not to mention how much they resented the drudgery of reciting the Quran to ‘mauvli sahab’; just the endeavor of reciting something while having zero comprehension of what it was that you were reciting ran home the point of how nonsensical the whole thing was. For the majority of middle-class children, this was their only exposure to the Quran, a miserable fifteen minutes. Talk about imbibing a strong Muslim identity. To add on to that devastating list, if your parents never prioritized the religion and only paid lip service to it, you did not stand a chance of holding onto even the edifice of the tradition. I vividly remember highlighting in bright pink the verses in a Pickthall translation of the Quran that I felt were sexist or plain wrong. Cue all the favorite verses of your average Islamophobe. I remember my Islamic studies teachers at school being unable to answer questions like, why were there so many battles during the early caliphates? Was Islam spread by the sword? I remember the short surahs recited in the morning assembly being there just for ceremonial purposes. I recall turning my nose up to our religious neighbours who did not own a television set. All of it is indelibly imprinted in my mind’s eye. I grew up in a Muslim country, in a Muslim family. In retrospect, I feel that the path had been paved for me to become an atheist and a hard leaning leftist. Who I Became Today, I can say that despite all the odds stacked against me, for some reason Allah did not let go of me and that I consciously chose to be Muslim. What I want to know is, why was it more probable for me to not make it? Why is the path of leading a God-conscious life, a path less traversed? Why are Muslim youth groping in the dark for guidance? Why is the stage set for them to disavow themselves from their faith? Who has set this stage? Who or what do I hold to be culpable for my almost spiritual death? I made it, Alhamdulillah, but there are scores who do not. They will not confess that they have in essence left the fold of the religion but they have decided that they will not offer salahand will distance themselves from the Quran, not out of laziness, but out of the conviction that the less Islam they have in their life, the better they will be for it. The loss of a meaningful Islam in the lives of young people is a damning indictment of our failings as an ummah to pass on this deen to our progeny. We dropped the baton and bowed out of the race altogether. The story of how I came to the life-changing conclusion that Islam is the truth is a story for another time. I want to focus on the internal monologue that occurs in a young mind once they have reached this conclusion and the challenges they face in carving a niche for themselves in a Godless world. The anger that was burgeoning inside of me for being deprived of an authentic understanding of Islam left me bitter and heartbroken. However, as I slowly began to reclaim Islam, steadily started enslaving myself to God, for the first time my enraptured gaze stared at the chains that had shackled me previously. Chains that were invisible but which I could now clearly behold as the ideologies I had subconsciously been ascribing to, the doctrines that I was being fed at school and the dogmas being thrust down my throat through the media. I recognized that the views I had endorsed were part of larger isms and I could put my finger on them and name them. The reason why this became so glaringly obvious is that now that my fitrah beckoned me to believe, opinions being propagated in society that were starkly against Islamic teachings began to bother me immensely. Alarm bells would be ringing and red flags would show up where previously I would nod my head vociferously in agreement. Now, I valued the Quran as Gods speech, I loved Muhammad (pbuh) and without reticence strove to follow his teachings, because I recognized it for the truth that it was. This is the most transformative experience because once your reason and fitrah arrive at the truth value of Islam, everything that Islam espouses, everything that emanates from within the Islamic canons, of its unequivocal prohibitions and commandments, you submit to. Western sensibilities be damned. The Struggle of Identity This new commitment would not allow me to sit silently in Sociology class where my Muslim teacher would assert that gender is a social construct. My heart would wince when my classmates would appreciate Marxism and how aptly Marx described religion as the opiate of the masses and then go on to make a crude joke about the “maulvis”and “mullahs”. I had once believed that the poor were given religion to pacify them so they could continue being exploited and not once question their oppressors but rather seek solace in some make belief paradise. I began to identify why I thought so badly of my religion before and it dawned on me that a plethora of Western ideologies had permeated into the very fabric of the Muslim world. Why did I think that the idea of a God as the creator was far-fetched? Well, of course, it was a ludicrous notion, the creation myth had been busted by Darwin’s theory of evolution. As an avid Biology student, I knew this was more than just an insinuation, it was an assertion — and I did not question it; it fit in very neatly into the worldview that I was developing. I can still go back to that reverie, as a young child of eight or nine years old telling my mother that my Quran teacher was just another Homosapien! And my all-time favourite: Muslim women are oppressed in Islam. This was not even contested, it was fact. As I studied feminism, I understood why I had highlighted those verses in the Quran. What my yardstick had been. What my criterion of judgment had been. Now that I actually believed in Islam, beyond mere lip service but rather at the core of my being, everything started irking me. There was not a subject left except that I had major contentions against its core principles. I found myself alone in trying to argue against the status quo. Being at the receiving end of deriding comments and condescending glances did not help the matter. What goes around comes around I guess. My faith fell into turmoil once more, this time not because I was not convinced of its intellectual veracity but because I was so utterly exhausted trying to ride the tiger of modernity while simultaneously shielding my faith against a myriad of assaults hurled its way. I had come to value this panacea and was vehemently protective over it because of how tumultuous the sojourn had been to reach it. I was acutely aware that if I loosened my grip for even a moment, Islam could slip away again. I knew that this hyper vigilance needed to be offset with a strong spiritual connection with God. However, the intellectual warfare against religion is bound to take a toll on your spirituality especially if you do not have a religious support system to fall back on, be that traditional scholars or family members. The cognitive dissonance that ensued because of the incompatibility of what I believed, with what I was being taught, wore me thin. Shaytan knew that and he used that against me with the barrage of wasswass he would send my way. In hindsight, the intensity of wasswass that I experienced eventually strengthened my beliefs; I could never be in doubt about the existence of the belligerent devil again. He was pretty persistent in trying to get me to drop the religious act; everyone around me was waiting for this new ‘fad’ of mine to subside. Praise be to God, to the chagrin of Iblees, salah kept me alive, it was my ventilator up until I could breathe on my own again. I had once tried to communicate to a loved one what I was struggling with. The remark that was made is still something I think about often. I was told that praying and fasting and hijab and all that Islam stuff has nothing to do with your education, your career, or any other aspect of your life. Religion is restricted to the masjid, it has no place out in the real world. It is confined to the personal domain. So you carry on praying but there is no need to linger on any of the secular stuff you are struggling to reconcile faith with. Religion has nothing to say about it. I was gobsmacked, truly horrified at what I heard. Muslims are enthusiastically looking to emulate the West and its path to ‘prosperity’ by embracing separation of masjid and state, or more accurately separating religion from the realm of all other human endeavor. We Muslims should be rejecting this outright. Instead, we are going down the same lizard hole. Islam and Secular Islam The colonialists might have departed but their farewell gift to us was the dismantling of our education system where Islam and the Islamic secular as Dr. Sherman Jackson aptly coins it, were two sides of the same coin. They not only coexisted harmoniously but the notion that the two are separate spheres pertaining to completely different domains was inconceivable. Anatomy was taught in the same madrasah’s where the Quran was being committed to memory. There was no awkward tension. In order to continue the colonization of our minds, our imperialist masters handed us the leftover crumbs from their dinner table. Not only was education going to alienate Muslims from their own faith, but it was also going to drain them of any critical analysis skills so they could never figure out that they were being played. Or, in any case, find out only when it was too late when the cancer became malignant. Why destroy Islam via physical conquest when you can just convince the adherents to reject it with their ‘rationale’? It is a much more sustainable method of colonialization. The syllabus of the modern education system disseminated throughout the Muslim lands has a clear agenda. It is not neutral as purported rather it espouses the aim to usher in the Godless age — they are not even subtle about it. As I was entering the lion’s den, back to my former colonial masters in the United Kingdom. It was bad enough being conservative in Pakistan where people at least pretended to have faith; here the mockery of God was blatant and ubiquitous. See the problem is that you cannot turn your Muslim brain off. It does not come with a switch. We have a word called taqwa, roughly translated as God consciousness, and taqwa is not confined to just prayer, it is supposed to manifest itself at all times, in all places. That is the whole point of it. When you send your teenager to university, having extradited his or her religious upbringing to maulvi sahab or Sunday school, if they do not have their salahprioritized, their Muslim identity cemented, their mental faculties will face the brunt of relentless intellectual attacks against faith. It is not just a degree you will be paying for, but also a very expensive indoctrination of liberal ideas. The Outcome The outcomes can be varied ranging from apostasy to a reduction of Islam to a cultural identity, to my favourite category of progressive, liberal, Muslims. How does the latter group like their Islam? Flexible to the extent of being unrecognizable served with a side of appeasement to the socio-political climate. The progressive Muslims are a contradiction in terms, they have a proclivity to want to dispose of what Islam actually says on a matter and replace it with what they would have it say. Of course, that would have to be in keeping with the liberal criterion of right and wrong. The concept of God being the ultimate authority in Islam is a concept they do not entertain. For the conservative Muslim (one whose moral compass is the Quran and Sunnah), sitting in a lecture hall listening to your openly atheist professor is an exercise in restraining exasperated sighs. You are constantly reiterating to yourself that you must be critical of the subject matter you are being taught, do not accept it at face value. This goes for every subject under the sun. The sciences are taught with the assumption that the order and spectacular beauty that you see in nature is all random, let us not dwell too much on being awed and moved by what we study, let us instead divert our attention to how we can manipulate it to serve us. Essentially let us devoid knowledge from true tadabbur and tafakkur, let us engage in a superficial study based on reductionist principles and underpinned by naturalist philosophy, using the miracle of consciousness that we are still trying to explain away. If one were to take this mindset to its logical conclusion, you would end up with a very dark view of humankind. It makes complete sense that Nietzsche became clinically insane. “There is No God” The humanities are also steeped with challenges for Muslims. Everything that is taught is taught with the assumption that there is no God; there is no such thing as revelation. If there is no prior connection with the divine, how do you think such an environment will impact a Muslim? The God that you worship, prostrate to several times a day, when you walk out the door of your house, you operate and function in an environment that mocks faith in the Divine. Without spiritual fortitude, swimming against the stream is no easy feat. Most Muslims will and do get persuaded by the dominant, progressive narrative and are quick to proffer a ‘reformist’ interpretation of Islam. Suddenly, matters of unanimous consensus spanning over 1400 years are open to scrutiny, all under the banner of inclusivity, acceptance, and social justice. What about the small minority of youth that is unwavering on its stance to hold tenaciously onto Islam as per the Quran and Sunnah? These vestiges of hope survived through divine guidance and/or an Islamically committed household. Very often they feel spurred on by their faith to serve God in whatever capacity they can. The practice of Islam and what one chooses to pursue in life are inextricably linked and these young Muslims aspire to create positive change for the ummah and not just be another cog in the wheel. Slight problem, the world is Godless and you cannot bring him to work with you. Not in academia, not in the media, and certainly not in politics. When what is taught at the institutional level needs to be taken with a pound of salt, contriving a route to impact the ummah has become even more of a challenge. We are beginning to see that climbing the ladder of success via educational and professional excellence without a thorough grounding in Islam, in order to reach a station of power within politics; media and Science have backfired badly. We need representation they said, we need more Muslims out there they said. Small caveat, in order to get to the top you need to ally yourself with the left and essentially give up your ethics and values as a Muslim. Compromise for the sake of the greater good is the euphemism often used. It is becoming clear that conservative Muslims will not be reaching those positions any time soon unless they start sputtering the same nonsense. So where do they channel themselves? The Solution The problem gets exacerbated when there is no mentorship that can guide young Muslims, in particular mentors that are experts in their fields while also being knowledgeable about Islam. The scholars in the West are beginning to wake up to the reality that we are losing our youth, hence you see initiatives like the Yaqeen Institute springing up. It is a laudable effort and I wish I had these resources when I felt my faith being shaken. However, if we really want to reverse the tide, we cannot resort to band-aid solutions for gaping wide wounds. The Islamization of knowledge is long overdue, efforts to recast knowledge in an Islamic mould can only begin when people understand the urgency with which the conflict of modern knowledge with religious thought needs to be tackled. Zaytuna College in California comes to mind as one of the few institutions trying to reinstate an Islamic paradigm in the study of subjects like logic, politics, and astronomy. We need to make this a norm across the spectrum of subjects, in all parts of the ummah. It is a long-term initiative that requires Muslim intellectuals to band together with the common goal of establishing our own educational institutes; with our own syllabi so we can truly respond to Gods call when He says:
  18. Salam Ibn Al-Hussain, thanks for this, and also for the other useful articles on your website. In section 1.5 you write: I'm having trouble understanding the difference between these two. No. 2 just sounds like another way of stating no. 1. Could you clarify?
  19. I'm hoping someone who has studied mulla sadra can show me the problem with this argument. 1. God is Existence 2. Existence is gradated [tashkik alwujud] 3. Therefore God is gradated The conclusion is surely false, so where does it go wrong?
  20. As you correctly note, mankind has free will. This means that evil people are responsible for their actions, and deserve to be punished for their evil. But why would God create them in the first place if He knew they would end up in Hell? Here is one reason. To be given the opportunity to be good is a good thing. God gave evil people the opportunity to be good. Even though they didnt make use of this opportunity, it was still a good thing for God to give it to them Here is another reason. Consider what the world would be like if all the evil people in all history never existed. It would be radically different wouldn't it? For one, there wouldn't be much of the human evil that we know about from studying history. But there also wouldn't be as much of the human good that was a direct response to this evil. For instance, the sacrifice of Imam Hussain was an incredible good. It was beautiful. It contained many lessons for us, and has inspired generations of people to be better. This sacrifice would not have occured had Yazid, Umar Sad, Shimr, etc not existed. This shows that the existence of evil people, and evils actions, can potentially lead to even greater goods. God, being all good, wants to maximise the good. If possible, He wants to create the 'best possible world'. This requires allowing evil.
  21. .InshAllah.

    Popular - Unreliable - Accounts Related to Ashura

    'I saw nothing but beauty' is a very popular saying attributed to lady Zaynab. Nakshawani who is PhD in Islamic history has it tattooed on his arm. The Shiah Institute who are all about promoting 'the highest standards of academic scholarship' have it as a slogan on their website. https://www.shiahinstitute.org So is there something that they know that the author doesn't, or have they just uncritically accepted a popular account?
  22. .InshAllah.

    Popular - Unreliable - Accounts Related to Ashura

    Has anyone put together what can be considered a reliable account of ashura? Or at least as reliable as possible given the usual limitations involved in studying historical events
  23. Salam We have all heard that taqlid is in fiqh but not in beliefs (theology), but why this distinction? Can anyone point me to arguments for this distinction? Thanks in advance
  24. 1. All things equal, a perfect God sends the best guides (Premise) 2. The best guides are those who show us how best to live (Premise) 3. We ought to live without sin (Premise) Argument for (3): Even if we only ever commit 1 sin, we become blameworthy (hence the need to repent) We ought to never act in a way that makes us blameworthy Therefore we ought to never commit even 1 sin. 4. The best guides show us how to live without sin (from 2 and 3) 5. The best way these guides can show us how to live, is through example (Premise) 6. Therefore the best guides are sinless (from 4 and 5) 7. Therefore, all things equal, a perfect God sends sinless guides (Conclusion, from 1 and 6)
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