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How authentic are the ahadith we have today

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How authentic are the Shia ahadith we have of The Ahlul Bayt ? Is authentic ( sahih ) enough to know that the Ahlul Bayt did say what's in the hadith ? 

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We do not claim all our narrations to be 100 percent saheeh. However, a hadith being weak doesn't mean they are fabricated, they simply have less evidence of being saheeh considering these ahadith have survived over generations and eras. 

These days people are more concerned about grading the hadith then anything. Rijal is a tool and this tool is not perfect either. 

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  • Haji 2003 changed the title to How authentic are the ahadith we have today
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On 3/4/2021 at 10:01 AM, Guest Guest said:

Is authentic ( sahih ) enough to know that the Ahlul Bayt did say what's in the hadith ?

Salam you must compare any hadith with holy Quran if hadith  has been in same way with holy Quran then accept it also reading biography of Imams and comparing verified hadiths with doubtful hadiths will be helpful.

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As a non Muslim I have a question about the hadith.

Why are they necessary?  Isn't the Qur'an enough?  After all there is a verse in the Qur'an that says its message is clear.

Can you help clarify this for me - thanks

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

As a non Muslim I have a question about the hadith.

Why are they necessary?  Isn't the Qur'an enough?  After all there is a verse in the Qur'an that says its message is clear.

Can you help clarify this for me - thanks

The Qur'an has both literal (Arabic: muhkam) and figurative (Ar: mutashaabeh) verses. As for the literal verses ,their meanings are apparent. But for the metaphorical/figurative verses, their meanings lie with the Prophet (S) and his Immaculate Household (عليه السلام), and are intelligible to us through their narrations viz the hadiths. The Qur'an at times gives general guidelines- such as commands for performing prayers, fasts and pilgrimage- but the details of the exact method are provided by the hadith of the Prophet (S). You could say that the Qu'ran gives brief,generic commandments; the hadith fills in the details. The Qur'an itself says that the Sunnah (traditions) of the Prophet (S) is as weighty as revelation; nay, it is but revelation itself. Note, though,that they hadith are meant to complement the Qur'an, not to supplant it, and whichever hadiths contradict the Qur'an are not to be acted upon.

"Clear" in this context doesn't mean 'literal' or 'self-explanatory'. The actual Arabic word used in the concerned verses is "mubeen" which here is taken to mean 'manifest', 'categorical' or 'uniquivocal': the implication here is that there is no doubt/equivocation regarding what the Qur'an commands. As in, if the Qur'an commands one to pray, fast, give alms, there can be no doubt about the veracity of these commandment, and one cannot circumvent these obligations by arguing that it is doubtful that people have been commanded to perform these acts.

And Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) knows best.

Hope this answers your question.

Edited by AbdusSibtayn
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6 hours ago, AbdusSibtayn said:

The Qur'an has both literal (Arabic: muhkam) and figurative (Ar: mutashaabeh) verses. As for the literal verses ,their meanings are apparent. But for the metaphorical/figurative verses, their meanings lie with the Prophet (S) and his Immaculate Household (عليه السلام), and are intelligible to us through their narrations viz the hadiths.

Thanks for this explination - it is helpful to see how you use the Qur'an and the Hadith.

Someone once pointed out this verse to me and it came to mind when I read your post - Quran 3:7

He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental; they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord,” and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.

I recognise the need of people who have studied to be able to interpret The Books.  However, as I read the Torah, Zebur and Injil, I find an internal consistancy.  There is a principle in understanding God's word that says the hard passages can be interpreted by the the clear passages.  The words of God interpret themselves.  There is enough in the revealed scriptures for us to know what God has done and what he expects.

I would suggest too that God's words are active and powerful and when I come to read the scripture I ask God to interpret it for me.  I believe God through his Holy Spirit of revelation speeks to me a living word from his writen word for each day and situation.

A verse from the Injil - Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active and full of power. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit, and of both joints and marrow, exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.

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17 hours ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

Why are they necessary?  Isn't the Qur'an enough? 

Jesus used the Talmud for his quotes and some of his parables and teachings also Talmud is needed for how to slaughter and what to day, modest dress code and jurisprudence 

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17 hours ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

Isn't the Qur'an enough?  After all there is a verse in the Qur'an that says its message is clear.

Yes, Quran is enough.

9 hours ago, AbdusSibtayn said:

Prophet (S) and his Immaculate Household (عليه السلام),

But Ahle-bait (عليه السلام) are equally important.

Once the Path is revealed (through Quran), stepping onto the Path is required for actualization. If the Step of actualization is not taken, illusion, vexation and suffering will continue.

How do we know that we are on the right path described in Quran...
1:6. Guide us to the straight path.
7. The path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious;with whom thou art not angry, and who go not astray.
Love for Ahle-bait(عليه السلام) in your heart is the indication that you stepped on the right path.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

There is enough in the revealed scriptures for us to know what God has done and what he expects.

I would suggest too that God's words are active and powerful and when I come to read the scripture I ask God to interpret it for me.  I believe God through his Holy Spirit of revelation speeks to me a living word from his writen word for each day and situation.

A verse from the Injil - Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active and full of power. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit, and of both joints and marrow, exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart

Depends on how you see faith and guidance.

To me, there are layers of wisdom in the word of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), and His book is a guide to action as much as it is a historical document. The faith of the Qur'an is faith in action, and not merely an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of some distant God, not merely limited to a declaration of beliefs. Also, I find it profoundly trivializing to think that something as splendid and eloquent as the Book of God should be effortlessly intelligible to every Tom, Richard and Harry. The one who best knows the book is the one who is sent down with it.

Also, everyone could claim to be guided by the working of the holy spirit in interpreting the book, and yet arrive at radically different interpretations. Whose interpretation, then, is authoritative? Whose is correct- given that only one of them can be correct; either all of them are wrong, or one of them is correct and the rest wrong, but all of them cannot be right. This is the very problem which rent Western Christendom apart in the 16th century, and this is the attitude which created divisions among the Muslims when they begun to follow their whims and caprices instead of adhering to the custodians of the Book, the Household of Revelation (عليه السلام).

Edited by AbdusSibtayn
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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, Shahrukh K said:

Yes, Quran is enough.

But Ahle-bait (عليه السلام) are equally important.

Once the Path is revealed (through Quran), stepping onto the Path is required for actualization. If the Step of actualization is not taken, illusion, vexation and suffering will continue.

How do we know that we are on the right path described in Quran...
1:6. Guide us to the straight path.
7. The path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious;with whom thou art not angry, and who go not astray.
Love for Ahle-bait(عليه السلام) in your heart is the indication that you stepped on the right path.

What does all of this even mean? And how did you read all of this into my reply?

And I am a Shia Ithna Ashari; what makes you believe that I don't acknowledge the authority of Aal Muhammad (عليه السلام)?

Edited by AbdusSibtayn
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2 hours ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

Quran 3:7

He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental; they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord,” and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding

As explained earlier, the original Arabic word revealed in the verse is 'muhkam', which cannot be translated as 'basic', nor can 'mutashaabeh' be adequately translated as 'allegorical"; it includes all figurative speech, allegory, metaphor, idiom and more. Whoever translated it for you did not do justice to the translation, and translation matters a lot.

Also, notice how the Qur'an is asking the believers to refer to a specific group of people to find out the correct meaning of those verses, and condemning those who interpret them using their whims? This is where the hadith comes in.

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Majority of our Ahadith are authentic.

Weak chain etc is all non-sense (mostly)

Quran is Book of Allah and only Allah and people of knowledge know its interpretation as Allah has said in his book:

while no one knows its interpretation except Allah; and those well-grounded in knowledge

Quran 3:7

Therefore interpretation by one's own opinion is Kufr. And must refer to caliphs of Allah in order to know interpretation of the Holy Book and that when which verse was revealed.

The way Quran is recited, is not its interpretation and cannot be used to derieve meanings because it was compiled by Usman and many parts went missing and a bunch of hadiths can be used as an evidence for this.

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Saying X or Y narrator is weak is mostly guess work of people who came years after those people and called them Ghali or weak without any evidence.

Therefore weak or Sahih chain can be used upto some extent but not like sunnis use it.

Our transmission of Hadith is via books. Our hadith wasn't transmissted orally rather shia scholars in times of Aima (عليه السلام) wrote books and scholars coming after them copied them into their books. Thats how authentic our hadiths are.

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On 3/9/2021 at 12:53 PM, AbdusSibtayn said:

Also, everyone could claim to be guided by the working of the holy spirit in interpreting the book, and yet arrive at radically different interpretations. Whose interpretation, then, is authoritative? Whose is correct- given that only one of them can be correct; either all of them are wrong, or one of them is correct and the rest wrong, but all of them cannot be right. This is the very problem which rent Western Christendom apart in the 16th century, and this is the attitude which created divisions among the Muslims when they begun to follow their whims and caprices instead of adhering to the custodians of the Book, the Household of Revelation (عليه السلام).

There are two things here.  God speaking to me through his written word helping me in my daily life and also the interpritation of major doctrinal truths drawn from the metanarrative of the whole book.

I agree that interpritation of the metanarrative has caused division in the worldwide church over things like the role and type of leadership, the part faith and works play in salvation etc.  But when I come to read the Bible, I am looking for help and support for my daily life or the life of the community of which I am a part.  I pray for God to guide me.  I know that God the Holy Spirit (who is the ultimate author) is living in me inspiring and interpreting his words to my situation.  I may read a passage and find a challenging or comfortung message and my friend, who is facing a different set of circumstances, finds the same passage helps in a different way.   In this way God's words are active and living.

The words of comfort, challenge, rebuke or correction must be considered in the context of the metanarrative and agree with the overall thrust and teaching, but its apllication, when inspired by the Spirit of God, is often very personal and intimate and specific.

For example, recently I read a story Jesus the Messiah told.  I have always understood it one way, but as I read it and thought and prayed, God spoke to me about things in my life which are stopping his work of bringing change and fruitfulness to my life.  I saw the passage in a different light and it caused me to stop and reasses what I am am doing and how I am living.

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On 3/9/2021 at 2:57 PM, Syed Ali Mehdi Shah Naqvi said:

Quran is Book of Allah and only Allah and people of knowledge know its interpretation as Allah has said in his book:

while no one knows its interpretation except Allah; and those well-grounded in knowledge

Quran 3:7

Therefore interpretation by one's own opinion is Kufr. And must refer to caliphs of Allah in order to know interpretation of the Holy Book and that when which verse was revealed.

This is an interesting comment you have made.

You quote Qur'an 3:7

Suggesting that God knows the meaning and people well-grounded in knowledge understand the meaning.  All the translations I have looked at put a full stop after Allah.  The people of knowledge say they believe the whole book, not that they understand it.

If God speaks and his words are recorded in a book, has he not spoken so we can understand and follow his words? 

Yes knowing the context and the situation around the reveleation and the life and culture of the time help us to understand a passage, but ultimatly isn't God's words there for the indiviual believer and the community of local believers to find God's will and to apply it for their daily lives?

How do you come to the Qur'an?  Do you read it expecting God to help you live a righteous life and give you guidence for your social and community dealings?

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Hadith isn’t the be all, end all. 
 

Many hadiths are very illogical, even if they are considered authentic. People like to quote them instead of the Quran when debating. Some hadiths that contradict the Quran are taken quite literally. Still, other hadiths are sahih because they back up the Quran. Those hadiths are the ones you should care about.
 

Putting too much stock in hadith is a slippery slope because you run the risk of finding a hadith that says one thing, and says the opposite thing in another, and in the end, we can’t 100% trust anything that’s been written down by man—things get distorted, and hell, people can make up any hadith over the years and claim it’s authentic. Overall, it’s gullibility quoting hadith constantly and being nit-picky about every little thing. It’s a great way for anxiety or religious OCD to develop.
 

Also, people have a poor comprehension of hadith in general. A hadith might talk about something vaguely, and yet people will interpret it as something else that clearly does not mean what the hadith is saying. 

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On 3/15/2021 at 3:59 PM, Dave follower of The Way said:

 

If God speaks and his words are recorded in a book, has he not spoken so we can understand and follow his words?

In short then whats the point of sending guides?

For everyone there is a guide and you may read words of ibn Kathir on this ayah.

On 3/15/2021 at 3:59 PM, Dave follower of The Way said:

Yes knowing the context and the situation around the reveleation and the life and culture of the time help us to understand a passage, but ultimatly isn't God's words there for the indiviual believer and the community of local believers to find God's will and to apply it for their daily lives?

In correct. General principals and everything is taken from two soruces combined.

Quran and AhleBait (عليه السلام)

Separating one from other will lead to misguidance.

Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) didn't leave behind single source of guidance for muslims.

Knowing context and situation can completely change understanding of verse and hadith is biggest proof that different verses were revealed at different places. 

Deriving meanings based on Qira'at (which isn't even same lol) is nothing but jahalat for a non-masoom person.

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On 3/15/2021 at 4:15 PM, Dave follower of The Way said:

There are two things here.  God speaking to me through his written word helping me in my daily life and also the interpritation of major doctrinal truths drawn from the metanarrative of the whole book.

I agree that interpritation of the metanarrative has caused division in the worldwide church over things like the role and type of leadership, the part faith and works play in salvation etc.  But when I come to read the Bible, I am looking for help and support for my daily life or the life of the community of which I am a part.  I pray for God to guide me.  I know that God the Holy Spirit (who is the ultimate author) is living in me inspiring and interpreting his words to my situation.  I may read a passage and find a challenging or comfortung message and my friend, who is facing a different set of circumstances, finds the same passage helps in a different way.   In this way God's words are active and living.

The words of comfort, challenge, rebuke or correction must be considered in the context of the metanarrative and agree with the overall thrust and teaching, but its apllication, when inspired by the Spirit of God, is often very personal and intimate and specific.

For example, recently I read a story Jesus the Messiah told.  I have always understood it one way, but as I read it and thought and prayed, God spoke to me about things in my life which are stopping his work of bringing change and fruitfulness to my life.  I saw the passage in a different light and it caused me to stop and reasses what I am am doing and how I am living.

Greetings,

I am glad you responded,since I now have an opportunity to rephrase and fine-tune my response.

And that is precisely where the hadith come into play- the correct interpretation of God's word is made intelligible to us through them by the very recepient (S) who brought us the message. Theis encompasses both 'mundane' matters and doctrines. I have used the word 'mundane' for your convenience, because in Islam nothing is 'mundane', so to speak; everything is within the realm of the sacred,from beliefs and prayers to a person's day to day activities,from rising from the bed in the morning to going back to it in the night, the law provides instructions for everything.

Of course, individual believers are encouraged to ponder over and benefit from God's book, but as I said earlier, there are layered meanings within the verses of the Qur'an, all of which unaided human reason cannot grasp. Hence the role of the hadith. The truth of the revelation in Islam is not something entirely subjective; beyond individual reflections, there are normative meanings too. Reflections on the revelation and interpreting it are not entirely the same.

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On 3/18/2021 at 2:17 PM, Syed Ali Mehdi Shah Naqvi said:

In short then whats the point of sending guides?

God has sent a guide.  He himself comes to guide and lead to the truth.

Jesus the Messiah talking about God the Holy Spirit said (John 16:26) 

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me.

And (John 16:13&14)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.

I know the guidence of the Holy Spirit when I read the Bible.  This morning I was reading a little read passage from an Old Testament Prophet.  As I wondered and prayed about what it meant, I felt an insight and understanding come.  Later I read a commentary on the passage and found that others before me had had similar understandings and applications.

I am sure that God, the author of his word, will help me understand it through the power of his active Spirit working with me.

Who better to be our guide than the author - God himself?

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On 3/15/2021 at 1:26 PM, Caroling said:

Putting too much stock in hadith is a slippery slope because you run the risk of finding a hadith that says one thing, and says the opposite thing in another, and in the end, we can’t 100% trust anything that’s been written down by man—things get distorted, and hell, people can make up any hadith over the years and claim it’s authentic. Overall, it’s gullibility quoting hadith constantly and being nit-picky about every little thing. It’s a great way for anxiety or religious OCD to develop.

On 3/19/2021 at 7:39 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

And that is precisely where the hadith come into play- the correct interpretation of God's word is made intelligible to us through them by the very recepient (S) who brought us the message.

It would seem that there are different ways of looking at and using the Hadith.  I've been looking at the Jurisprudence thread and the rules and regulations are so complext and convoluted.  But there are also stories and explinations which throw light on passages in the Qur'an.  It would seem though that Shia and Sunni Muslims accept different sets of Hadith - doesn't that add to the confusion?

On 3/19/2021 at 7:39 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

there are layered meanings within the verses of the Qur'an, all of which unaided human reason cannot grasp. Hence the role of the hadith.

Recently in my reading of the teachings of Jesus the Messiah in the Injil, I have been struck by the times he talks about the truth being revealed to children or the need to become like children to enter God's Kingdom.  I get the impression that God welcomes us with open arms - coming to him and enjoying the rest that is found in his kingdom is open to all and not complex.

As we mature in his family we need help to understand his will and his ways.  The Bible is clear that that is the role of God himself.  He makes his word clear to us, he opens our minds to understand it.  Here is quite a long passage from Paul in 1 Corinthians 2

However, as it is written:

‘What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’
    the things God has prepared for those who love him –

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

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On 3/15/2021 at 9:26 AM, Caroling said:

Putting too much stock in hadith is a slippery slope because you run the risk of finding a hadith that says one thing, and says the opposite thing in another,

That is why we rely on the rulings. ln Hadith Science these are explained.

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On 3/18/2021 at 10:17 AM, Syed Ali Mehdi Shah Naqvi said:

In short then whats the point of sending guides?

Because the God of Noah, Allah -(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). reveals He -(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). looks towards the Last Day.

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15 hours ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

It would seem that there are different ways of looking at and using the Hadith.  I've been looking at the Jurisprudence thread and the rules and regulations are so complext and convoluted.  But there are also stories and explinations which throw light on passages in the Qur'an.  It would seem though that Shia and Sunni Muslims accept different sets of Hadith - doesn't that add to the confusion?

As I have explained earlier, Islam is not merely a set of beliefs or a mere catechism. It is an all-encompassing worldview in its own right. It believes in active intervention in the society to steer it towards godliness, and as such also provides for a legal system. The rulings are 'convoluted' because the society that we live in is a complex one. Merely saying that the laws are convoluted won't obliterate the need for the laws themselves- only in the place of 'convoluted' religious laws, you will have 'convoluted' human-made laws. I believe the study of any law code in the world- from Hammurabi's law code to the modern Anglo-American legal statutes- will confirm this point.

Any legal system, religious or otherwise, will have to take into account the complexities of the human society and the consequent intricacies of jurisprudence. Islamic law too is no exception to this rule. As I said, there is more to Islam than an assortment of beliefs. Faith of Islam is always faith-in-action.

Shias and Sunnis have different hadith collections because the sources and methodologies in hadith differ for the two, in turn stemming from theological differences. But there's a huge mutually agreed upon corpus of hadith which both sides consider authentic, and both sides have a consensus on the authoritativeness of hadith itself. So I don't think this takes away from my contention.

 

15 hours ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

Recently in my reading of the teachings of Jesus the Messiah in the Injil, I have been struck by the times he talks about the truth being revealed to children or the need to become like children to enter God's Kingdom.  I get the impression that God welcomes us with open arms - coming to him and enjoying the rest that is found in his kingdom is open to all and not complex.

As we mature in his family we need help to understand his will and his ways.  The Bible is clear that that is the role of God himself.  He makes his word clear to us, he opens our minds to understand it.  Here is quite a long passage from Paul in 1 Corinthians 2

However, as it is written:

‘What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’–
    the things God has prepared for those who love him –

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

Again, both of us have very different ways of looking at what 'faith' constitutes and  entails. For you it is childlike innocence, for me it is belief, vigilance and striving to carry out God's writ. There are numerous verses of the Qur'an which begin with "O those among you who claim to believe" ( یا ائیوحال لذینا آمنو ) and then this expression is followed by some divine command. In Islam, faith and action are inseparable.

Unfortunately, I am not very knowledgeable about the Bible. I believe brother @hasanhh is better suited to offer his views regarding this passage from the Bible.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/9/2021 at 1:53 PM, AbdusSibtayn said:

Also, I find it profoundly trivializing to think that something as splendid and eloquent as the Book of God should be effortlessly intelligible to every Tom, Richard and Harry.

If one is to avoid the following—

Quote

Also, everyone could claim to be guided by the working of the holy spirit in interpreting the book, and yet arrive at radically different interpretations. Whose interpretation, then, is authoritative?

—then shouldn’t the Book be readily intelligible, or at least translated into a ready format?

Salvation is itself a profound matter. Why risk misguidance through complication?

Do the scholars not serve a purpose, in simplifying matters for the laity?

Edited by Northwest
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Northwest said:

If one is to avoid the following—

—then shouldn’t the Book be readily intelligible, or at least translated into a ready format?

Salvation is itself a profound matter. Why risk misguidance through complication?

Do the scholars not serve a purpose, in simplifying matters for the laity?

You have raised three important points here. Let me respond to each of them.

- At the basis of this contention is the discussion involving what attributes the Divine Revelation should have. What exactly is it about a book that makes it look 'divine'?Besides conveying guidance, the Revelation should also inspire a sense of awe among its target audience- the human beings. Linguistically, it should be matchless; without any parallel in its contents. The verses of the Qur'ān were an object of awe and mystique to the Meccan Arabs when they first heard them. Even those most disinterested in what the Prophet (S) had to preach could not but be moved when they heard those verses. The Prophet (S) would regularly challenge the Arabs to produce anything even comparable to the Qur'ān; and yet, for all their literary genius (mind you, pre-Islamic Arab poetry was one of the highest regarded literary forms in the late-antique world, with such poetic geniuses as Imru al-Qais, Jamīl Buthayynāh and Kuthayyir Azza to boast of, lest you take this historic example lightly) failed to take up the challenge. The literary genius of the Qu'rān struck awe and wonder into the hearts of the Arabs; they were moved to feel that there was something in those verses which was beyond the capacity of human genius.

Besides, it is a historical precedent that profound truths are best conveyed through rhetoric. This is precisely why we make use of figures of speech even  in our day to day language. There is a gravitas in the expression "The Qur'ān struck wonder into the heart of the idolatrous Arabs that dwelt in Mecca" which the expression "The Qur'ān amazed the pagan Arabs of Mecca" simply doesn't have. Without the refinement of language, human civilization would be culturally a lot poorer than it is. Indeed, to cater to populist concerns, the text of the Qur'ān could have been curt, terse and insipid; only that nothing 'divine' would remain about it. If there is no difference between the message of your God and the shouts of some town-crier (may Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) forgive my indiscretion), then what kind of a God is He? 

We look at the nature, a creation of God, in awe; we behold it in all its bewilderment and complexity and proclaim, "Glory be unto God, none but Him could have created such a magnificent universe, which confounds all human understanding!" Why, then,deny this awe-inspiring ability to His  Book, which is another of His creations, another of his Miracles?

- Salvation, indeed, is a matter of utmost sensitivity. But we would have a genuine cause to complain if God hadn't sent guides to explain us His message. So the risk of miguidance becomes a moot point, and the onus is on us to obey those guides. It is a counterfactual question, a "what-if" of human history, which would have been relevant had we been left to our own devices, to fend for ourselves in navigating the scripture. That, however, is not the case. If someone is to wilfully reject those guides, it is their problem, and not God's.

Besides, why is there so much insistence on directly approaching the scripture; on interpreting everything on our own? Is it because the notion that someone can teach us piques our egos? Is it because we can't bring ourselves to admit that others can exceed us in merit and divine favour? Is it because we, churned out of the machinery of the modern world, feel it belittling to take others for our guides,teachers and superiors in the Divine scheme of things? Let us be honest with ourselves.

To summarize, it is not that God hasn't made arrangements to save us from misguidance and going astray, it is us who out of our pride and egotism reject His viceregents on earth, the custodians of His message, and choose miguidance over clear guidance.

- Let me pose you a counter question. Where do the scholars in turn get their knowledge from? As I have mentioned earlier too, there are sharp limits to what the unaided human reason can achieve. If you say that it is via speculation, then again that speculation may be correct or incorrect, which again brings us back to your question- salvation is a risky business. Why then leave it to speculation?

As for the answer to your question,the answer to it is in the affirmative. Yes,the scholars do try to their utmost to make the revelation and its commandments intelligible to the masses. For Muslims, there are weekly sermons in the mosques on Fridays, which huge congregations composed of all social classes attend. For the Shias specifically, there are specific days in their religious calendar when such religious gatherings, which again are attended by a wide cross section of the society, are held in which the scholars preach to the masses. From the infancy of Islam to the present age, scholars of Islam have written scores of commentaries on the Qur'ān (again derived from prophetic traditions) in many different languages. Unfortunately, the advent of social media and the so called "democratisation" of knowledge has also led to a dumbing down of discourse in general. We aren't willing to exert ourselves, and expect even the most profound truths to be made accessible to us in chatroom lingo. For those who sincerely seek it, there's a wealth of knowledge out there. What is needed is only some effort in that direction.

Edited by AbdusSibtayn
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2 hours ago, AbdusSibtayn said:

-Besides conveying guidance, the Revelation should also inspire a sense of awe among its target audience- the human beings. Linguistically, it should be matchless; without any parallel in its contents. ... Indeed, to cater to populist concerns, the text of the Qur'ān could have been curt, terse and insipid; only that nothing 'divine' would remain about it. If there is no difference between the message of your God and the shouts of some town-crier (may Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) forgive my indiscretion), then what kind of a God is He?

The one flaw in your argument is the notion that something “should” be matchless, independently of what Allah decrees. From the viewpoint of Islam, nothing “should” be inherently so unless Allah says so. Because the Qur’ān was presented in a certain manner, it is therefore evident that Allah decreed that it should be presented in the prescribed manner. However, this does not mean that something “should” be presented in a certain way independently of Allah’s decrees. According to Islam, Allah’s decrees determine what “should” be in a given context. Had Allah decreed the exact opposite—and instead presented a “curt, terse and insipid” Qur’ān—then that “should” have been the decreed format instead, and your argument might have been similar to mine, and directed against those who believed the Divine Writ “should” have been presented in a manner befitting its Author, that is, dignified rather than vulgar. In that case you might have argued in favour of Allah simplifying for the sake of His Message. But since He did not, you have argued to the contrary. The whole point is that what Allah decrees is the Truth, regardless of whether it makes any human sense or not. One proceeds from Allah’s decree and then finds a rationale to defend that decree, i.e., that the Qur’ān “should” be linguistically “matchless”; had Allah decreed the exact opposite, your rationale would proceed in the opposite direction, and justify Allah’s decision to present the Divine Writ in a more vulgar format. So your argument, while valid, is circular in its proceeding(s).

2 hours ago, AbdusSibtayn said:

- Salvation, indeed, is a matter of utmost sensitivity. But we would have a genuine cause to complain if God hadn't sent guides to explain us His message. So the risk of misguidance becomes a moot point, and the onus is on us to obey those guides. It is a counterfactual question, a "what-if" of human history, which would have been relevant had we been left to our own devices, to fend for ourselves in navigating the scripture. That, however, is not the case. If someone is to wilfully reject those guides, it is their problem, and not God's.

Actually, had Allah not sent us guides to explain His Message, we would not have had cause for complain either, because whatever Allah decrees, per Islam, is just, even if its ultimate purpose is (momentarily?) unclear to us. That would hold true in any case, since if one believes in the Deen, then one must justify it, if one is a sincere adherent (practitioner). The basic message of Islam obviously attests to the need for guidance and provides for it; but the question pertains to one’s application of Islam in one’s daily circumstances. One must defer to the Qur’ān and the Ahl’ al-Bayt, and do so, moreover, through the mediation of the jurists on particular matters. Certain matters are clear-cut, but application may be more ambiguous, given the complications of day-to-day living, especially in a complex society. That is, in part, why fiqh is applied. Obviously, even in that case one resorts to a defined procedure, but the very existence of fiqh acknowledges at least some degree of ambiguity. One must then rely on reliable references to the best scholarly sources on particular matters. Pure empiricism does not exist in this world, but only good approximations intermixed with subjectivity.

2 hours ago, AbdusSibtayn said:

Besides, why is there so much insistence on directly approaching the scripture; on interpreting everything on our own? Is it because the notion that someone can teach us piques our egos? Is it because we can't bring ourselves to admit that others can exceed us in merit and divine favour? Is it because we, churned out of the machinery of the modern world, feel it belittling to take others for our guides, teachers and superiors in the Divine scheme of things? Let us be honest with ourselves.

I will be honest: yes, the Western worldview is fundamentally skeptical and (post-)modernist. Bear in mind that I did not grow up among Shia Muslims on the Indian subcontinent, but in a secularised family living in the West: the U.S. at first, and then Scandinavia. Our backgrounds are fundamentally different. (Nor have I ever claimed to be a Shia Muslim, but only a prospective researcher. I have mentioned a possible interest in reversion at times, but I have never given a timetable or timeframe.) Even so, most of the world today is immersed in the impact of Western modernity. Even countries such as Iran rely in part on Western as well as regional science in matters such as military production, healthcare, industry, chemistry, and so on. Historically, the West did borrow much of its science from the MENA, Persia especially, and/or the Indian subcontinent, and modernity does tend to draw a distinction between science and faith, even though faith does encompass science, albeit a different branch or section thereof. Modernity tends to view the proverbial glass as being half empty rather than half full; it also prefers the mutable to the fixed order in a variety of spheres and fields. Harmonising hard science with the supernatural is a very complex and frightening business, given that Islam speaks of supernatural matters such as the efficacy of prayer, the influence of angels and jinn, etc., while the Muslim world relies as much on science as on Deen in practical affairs. How does one apply mathematical principles to the construction of ballistic missiles while also believing in the veracity of miracles (or at least common impossibilities), both past and present? I will be honest: I still perceive this to be a bit of a contradiction.

2 hours ago, AbdusSibtayn said:

To summarize, it is not that God hasn't made arrangements to save us from misguidance and going astray, it is us who out of our pride and egotism reject His viceregents on earth, the custodians of His message, and choose misguidance over clear guidance.

- Let me pose you a counter question. Where do the scholars in turn get their knowledge from? As I have mentioned earlier too, there are sharp limits to what the unaided human reason can achieve. If you say that it is via speculation, then again that speculation may be correct or incorrect, which again brings us back to your question- salvation is a risky business. Why then leave it to speculation?

While the scholars do agree on the basics, fiqhi rulings differ on many practical matters, for instance.

2 hours ago, AbdusSibtayn said:

Unfortunately, the advent of social media and the so called "democratisation" of knowledge has also led to a dumbing (sic–ed.) down of discourse in general. We aren't willing to exert ourselves, and expect even the most profound truths to be made accessible to us in chatroom lingo.

I think I understand the dilemma. On the one hand, Sacred Writ and its import must be kept in its most pristine state, and not be subject to the whims of popular mores, times, and manners, including linguistics. The Islamic polity’s level of civilisation must be maintained at the highest possible level. On the other hand, that does not necessarily mean that every utterance of the Truth should be rendered abstruse through language. Do profound truths need to be presented in the most arcane or complicated manner in order to retain their essence? Is anything less than such a presentation “chatroom lingo” or crude populism? Does it become too anodyne? Does it end up reflecting Western entitlement and modernity?

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13 hours ago, Northwest said:

The one flaw in your argument is the notion that something “should” be matchless, independently of what Allah decrees. From the viewpoint of Islam, nothing “should” be inherently so unless Allah says so. Because the Qur’ān was presented in a certain manner, it is therefore evident that Allah decreed that it should be presented in the prescribed manner. However, this does not mean that something “should” be presented in a certain way independently of Allah’s decrees. According to Islam, Allah’s decrees determine what “should” be in a given context. Had Allah decreed the exact opposite—and instead presented a “curt, terse and insipid” Qur’ān—then that “should” have been the decreed format instead, and your argument might have been similar to mine, and directed against those who believed the Divine Writ “should” have been presented in a manner befitting its Author, that is, dignified rather than vulgar. In that case you might have argued in favour of Allah simplifying for the sake of His Message. But since He did not, you have argued to the contrary. The whole point is that what Allah decrees is the Truth, regardless of whether it makes any human sense or not. One proceeds from Allah’s decree and then finds a rationale to defend that decree, i.e., that the Qur’ān “should” be linguistically “matchless”; had Allah decreed the exact opposite, your rationale would proceed in the opposite direction, and justify Allah’s decision to present the Divine Writ in a more vulgar format. So your argument, while valid, is circular in its proceeding(s).

That's a self-contradiction on your part. On one hand, you argue that a straightforward text of the Qur'ān has merits over a verbose one for reasons of simplicity and approachability for regular people, and on the other hand you insist that we accept the Qur'ān in whichever way it has been revealed. If we stick to the latter premise, doesn't the debate end then and there? What point remains in discussing the simplicity and complexity of the Qur'ānic text?

And your reply reeks of the ignorance of the concept of adālah of Allah. You say "in Islam nothing should be inherent", which you wouldn't say if you were familiar with the concepts of hüsn wā qübh dhāti (inherent/essential good or bad). There is an inherent goodness/wisdom/rationality to whatever Allah orders which can be proved rationally independent of the akhbār (revelation). Thus, if Allah has prohibited zinā or alcohol, there are rational arguments which can be marshalled in favour of Allah's decree, over and above the text of the revelation. One can refer to the social harms of both the acts. So yes, there is something "inherent" to how things are (or "should be") in Islam, and that inherent quality is wisdom and eminent rationality. Whether the rationale is visible to us prima facie, or hidden from us owing to our own epistemological limitations, is another issue.

Suppose I am a disbeliever. Neither Qur'ān nor Hadiths have ipso facto hujjiyah over me. How then do you expect me to be led to Islam? Saying "Allah has decreed such and such" or "such has been revealed by Allah" won't make the cut, when I don't acknowledge the authoritativeness of the said revelation itself. A non-Muslim will laugh you off if you try that line of reasoning to persuade him. How will you convince him of the truth of Islam, if not by appealing to reason and rationality?

The Ash'aris/ Ahlul Hadith say that zinā/alcohol are bad because Allah has forbidden them, and if he were to allow them they would be perfectly good. We say that Allah has prohibited zinā/alcohol because it is bad, and He will not decree but the good, and will not forbid  but the bad. Imputing arbitrariness/lack of reason to Allah's decree is tantamount to questioning his wisdom and foresight. His acts are not without purpose, and if he has allowed or forbidden something, there is something "inherently" good or bad to it.

The verbosity and eloquence of the Qur'ān has, historically speaking, only led people towards it,and there is not a single recorded case in history where a potential convert to Islam has been repelled by the eloquence of the Qur'ān, right from the infancy of Islam to the present moment in history. Heck, even the people who don't understand a word of Arabic are moved when the Qur'ān is recited to them. Cultures across the globe have traditionally valued fluency and eloquence; there is an "inherent" goodness to these qualities. Eloquence appeals to us innately. We like to listen to those who speak well. This is why Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) chose the Qur'ān to be that way.

13 hours ago, Northwest said:

Actually, had Allah not sent us guides to explain His Message, we would not have had cause for complain either, because whatever Allah decrees, per Islam, is just, even if its ultimate purpose is (momentarily?) unclear to us. That would hold true in any case, since if one believes in the Deen, then one must justify it, if one is a sincere adherent (practitioner). The basic message of Islam obviously attests to the need for guidance and provides for it; but the question pertains to one’s application of Islam in one’s daily circumstances. One must defer to the Qur’ān and the Ahl’ al-Bayt, and do so, moreover, through the mediation of the jurists on particular matters. Certain matters are clear-cut, but application may be more ambiguous, given the complications of day-to-day living, especially in a complex society. That is, in part, why fiqh is applied. Obviously, even in that case one resorts to a defined procedure, but the very existence of fiqh acknowledges at least some degree of ambiguity. One must then rely on reliable references to the best scholarly sources on particular matters. Pure empiricism does not exist in this world, but only good approximations intermixed with subjectivity.

Again, I request you to read up on the concepts of hüsn wā qübh dhāti, Divine Justice (adālah) and Prophethood. There are limits to what the 5 senses can know, and our understanding is consequent on them. Hence the need for revelation, and consequently, divine guides (prophets, imams). Claiming that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) would have left us astray, knowing fully well that our faculties are limited, just because He felt like it is again imputing purposelessness to His acts, and an affront to His wisdom. There is the concept of of something being inherently good,wise and rational or bad, unwise and irrational in Islam. Claiming the contrary flies in the face of both reason and revelation. Numerous are the times when the Qur'ān itself exhorts us to see, understand and use our reason.

I am in agreement with your contention about fiqh and the fuqaha. What led you to believe that I am arguing on the contrary?

13 hours ago, Northwest said:

will be honest: yes, the Western worldview is fundamentally skeptical and (post-)modernist. Bear in mind that I did not grow up among Shia Muslims on the Indian subcontinent, but in a secularised family living in the West: the U.S. at first, and then Scandinavia. Our backgrounds are fundamentally different. (Nor have I ever claimed to be a Shia Muslim, but only a prospective researcher. I have mentioned a possible interest in reversion at times, but I have never given a timetable or timeframe.) Even so, most of the world today is immersed in the impact of Western modernity. Even countries such as Iran rely in part on Western as well as regional science in matters such as military production, healthcare, industry, chemistry, and so on. Historically, the West did borrow much of its science from the MENA, Persia especially, and/or the Indian subcontinent, and modernity does tend to draw a distinction between science and faith, even though faith does encompass science, albeit a different branch or section thereof. Modernity tends to view the proverbial glass as being half empty rather than half full; it also prefers the mutable to the fixed order in a variety of spheres and fields. Harmonising hard science with the supernatural is a very complex and frightening business, given that Islam speaks of supernatural matters such as the efficacy of prayer, the influence of angels and jinn, etc., while the Muslim world relies as much on science as on Deen in practical affairs. How does one apply mathematical principles to the construction of ballistic missiles while also believing in the veracity of miracles (or at least common impossibilities), both past and present? I will be honest: I still perceive this to be a bit of a contradiction.

Because we believe in the concept of free will, which is not irreconcilable with Divine power/will. Intermediate Human causation is not at odds with the ultimate Divine causation. That Allah holds sway over all His creation does not take away from the fact that humans should (and do) exercise their volition. A believer thinks this way- "let me make the effort; granting success or failure is ultimately in the hands of Allah." Whether I want to start a business, or make some scientific foray, it is all the same. If Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) grants me success, there is a wisdom to it , and if he withholds success, there is a wisdom to it, because he doesn't decree but that which is good. To use your own example, I can invent a missile, but a bug can destroy its code at the very moment of launching.  It either launches successfully, or it doesn't. There is only so much that is in my hands, and that which is beyond my power is  in the domain of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). I can treat myself with certain medications, but whether or not they cure me is in the hands of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Having already believed in an All-Wise creator, I know that whatever he does is in my best interests. He is All Knowing, I am not. The position of the school of Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) that of neither absolute predestination, nor absolute freedom of will, but a matter between these two (al-Amr bayn al-Amrayn). Let alone Islam or the Ahlul Bayt; even the best of the continental philosophers will tell you that the reality of human volition is somewhere in between the two extremes of determinism and free will.

As for the belief in the supernatural, that is the part of a long standing debate between the votaries of materialism and naturalist epistemology, and their interlocutors, which is outside the scope of our discussion and is an independent, individual philosophical journey unto itself. Once you have negated the naturalist epistemology and transcended it, belief in the metaphysical is not an anomaly anymore. Be it miracles or celestial beings.

Also, kindly don't assume my background.

13 hours ago, Northwest said:

While the scholars do agree on the basics, fiqhi rulings differ on many practical matters, for instance.

None of which are serious enough to endanger your salvation. The number of things on which the scholars agree by far outweigh their disagreements. When it comes to core beliefs, there is a consensus on all of them (they will all agree on the procedure for prayers, for instance, only differing in the most delicate minutae). I am speaking for my own madhab- if you keep the risālahs (law manuals) of 5 marjas side by side, you will see that 90 -95% of their fatāwā are the same. Consensus outweighs disagreements. The Imams (عليه السلام) overlooked minor differences of opinion among their students (unless any of them were fundamentally wrong), and we take after their example. Intellectual pluralism is in the grain of the school of Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام), consensus on the fundamentals notwithstanding.

13 hours ago, Northwest said:

On the other hand, that does not necessarily mean that every utterance of the Truth should be rendered abstruse through language. Do profound truths need to be presented in the most arcane or complicated manner in order to retain their essence? Is anything less than such a presentation “chatroom lingo” or crude populism? Does it become too anodyne? Does it end up reflecting Western entitlement and modernity?

Is that being done? If yes, then you have a genuine cause for complain. If no,then you are hankering after a moot point.

Do let me know if you have come across a single person in life who is implacably insistent that even the most profound tomes of medicine be simplified into "do-it-yourself" handbooks so that the average man in the streets gets to treat himself, obliterating the need for doctors? Are doctors a group of superfluous oligarchs,in an unholy league with each other, shutting off all knowledge of medicine from the masses? How will you react to someone who claims the aforementioned? Then why complain about Divine intermediaries,or the custodians of the knowledge they left behind- the scholars? Is it because the modernist worldview tells you that it is something insignificant?

I give you a task. Bring me ten people who support the idea of foundational texts of medicine and mechanics being watered down to the level that any non specialist Joe in the streets can effortlessly understand them and practice the knowledge contained therein? If you succeed,I will concede the same about religion.

Have you attended a single Friday sermon/Muharram Majlis, and observed the motley crowd which attends them, composed of all social classes, even the most simple minded among whom are effortlessly able to understand whatever is spoken from the pulpits? How difficult is it to understand the language that is already geared towards a simple, non-specialist audience that is used in those gatherings? If someone finds even that level of simplification hard to cope with, them that person needs to work on his comprehension abilities. Beyond this, if you want to learn more than the regular person, and become a specialist, a doctor of religious law and theology, a scholar of religion,then you will have to study accordingly.

What you are in effect arguing for is that all social specialization of knowledge be obliterated, not just between disciplines,but between specialist and non specialist, which is impossible. If the the average farmer in some village in Iraq or Pakistan can attend the Majālis of Muharram and grasp the rudiments of his faith by listening to what is spoken from the pulpit,then so can any person.

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On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

That's a self-contradiction on your part. On one hand, you argue that a straightforward text of the Qur'ān has merits over a verbose one for reasons of simplicity and approachability for regular people, and on the other hand you insist that we accept the Qur'ān in whichever way it has been revealed. If we stick to the latter premise, doesn't the debate end then and there? What point remains in discussing the simplicity and complexity of the Qur'ānic text?

My main point was to highlight that revelation—that is, revealed Truth, however profound—can be theoretically presented in a straightforward and accessible manner.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

And your reply reeks of the ignorance of the concept of adālah of Allah. You say "in Islam nothing should be inherent", which you wouldn't say if you were familiar with the concepts of hüsn wā qübh dhāti (inherent/essential good or bad). There is an inherent goodness/wisdom/rationality to whatever Allah orders which can be proved rationally independent of the akhbār (revelation). Thus, if Allah has prohibited zinā or alcohol, there are rational arguments which can be marshalled in favour of Allah's decree, over and above the text of the revelation. One can refer to the social harms of both the acts. So yes, there is something "inherent" to how things are (or "should be") in Islam, and that inherent quality is wisdom and eminent rationality. Whether the rationale is visible to us prima facie, or hidden from us owing to our own epistemological limitations, is another issue.

This portion is quite logical. However, a number of other contributors here suggest that “Allah’s Way” should be adhered to, not rationally justified via argumentation.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

Suppose I am a disbeliever. Neither Qur'ān nor Hadiths have ipso facto hujjiyah over me. How then do you expect me to be led to Islam? Saying "Allah has decreed such and such" or "such has been revealed by Allah" won't make the cut, when I don't acknowledge the authoritativeness of the said revelation itself. A non-Muslim will laugh you off if you try that line of reasoning to persuade him. How will you convince him of the truth of Islam, if not by appealing to reason and rationality?

The Ash'aris/ Ahlul Hadith say that zinā/alcohol are bad because Allah has forbidden them, and if he were to allow them they would be perfectly good. We say that Allah has prohibited zinā/alcohol because it is bad, and He will not decree but the good, and will not forbid but the bad. Imputing arbitrariness/lack of reason to Allah's decree is tantamount to questioning his wisdom and foresight. His acts are not without purpose, and if he has allowed or forbidden something, there is something "inherently" good or bad to it.

This, too, is quite logical. However, if all these points were/are true, then they would seemingly vitiate the need for divine revelation to supplement human reason.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

The verbosity and eloquence of the Qur'ān has, historically speaking, only led people towards it, and there is not a single recorded case in history where a potential convert to Islam has been repelled by the eloquence of the Qur'ān, right from the infancy of Islam to the present moment in history. Heck, even the people who don't understand a word of Arabic are moved when the Qur'ān is recited to them. Cultures across the globe have traditionally valued fluency and eloquence; there is an "inherent" goodness to these qualities. Eloquence appeals to us innately. We like to listen to those who speak well. This is why Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) chose the Qur'ān to be that way.

Fair enough. I do not necessarily disagree with this point; however, especial eloquence is not restricted to verbosity, but also encompasses elegant simplicity.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

Again, I request you to read up on the concepts of hüsn wā qübh dhāti, Divine Justice (adālah) and Prophethood. There are limits to what the 5 senses can know, and our understanding is consequent on them. Hence the need for revelation, and consequently, divine guides (prophets, imams). Claiming that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) would have left us astray, knowing fully well that our faculties are limited, just because He felt like it is again imputing purposelessness to His acts, and an affront to His wisdom. There is the concept of of something being inherently good, wise and rational or bad, unwise and irrational in Islam. Claiming the contrary flies in the face of both reason and revelation. Numerous are the times when the Qur'ān itself exhorts us to see, understand and use our reason.

Yet Allah is also said to be Transcendent, and thus His level of reasoning is above, hence beyond, His creatures’. His is thus “beyond our ken,” in the ultimate sense.

Obviously, this does not by itself preclude man’s use of human rationality, but seemingly restricts and thereby qualifies it, possibly significantly, vis-à-vis revelation.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

I am in agreement with your contention about fiqh and the fuqaha. What led you to believe that I am arguing on the contrary?

I do not believe I ever implied or suggested this.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

Because we believe in the concept of free will, which is not irreconcilable with Divine power/will. Intermediate Human causation is not at odds with the ultimate Divine causation. That Allah holds sway over all His creation does not take away from the fact that humans should (and do) exercise their volition. A believer thinks this way- "let me make the effort; granting success or failure is ultimately in the hands of Allah." Whether I want to start a business, or make some scientific foray, it is all the same. If Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) grants me success, there is a wisdom to it , and if he withholds success, there is a wisdom to it, because he doesn't decree but that which is good. To use your own example, I can invent a missile, but a bug can destroy its code at the very moment of launching.  It either launches successfully, or it doesn't.

I partly concur with this. However, I was referring to the use of prayer, ablution, and other ritual to effect a certain result, whether this-worldly or otherwise, as opposed to the application of one’s own effort, endeavour, and knowledge. For example, rocket scientists and medical practitioners may or may not engage in religious practice, but religion does not supplant their possessing scientific, hence secular (or at least practical), knowledge pertaining to their field of expertise, without which competence in the design and manufacture of workable, prototypical rockets, medicines, etc. would prove impossible, and human society would stagnate as a result.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

There is only so much that is in my hands, and that which is beyond my power is in the domain of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). I can treat myself with certain medications, but whether or not they cure me is in the hands of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Having already believed in an All-Wise creator, I know that whatever he does is in my best interests. He is All Knowing, I am not. The position of the school of Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) that of neither absolute predestination, nor absolute freedom of will, but a matter between these two (al-Amr bayn al-Amrayn). Let alone Islam or the Ahlul Bayt; even the best of the continental philosophers will tell you that the reality of human volition is somewhere in between the two extremes of determinism and free will.

I am fairly familiar with this myself, as it is also quite logical a principle, one that I encounter in my daily life. However, the exact degree of human volition is highly debatable.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

As for the belief in the supernatural, that is the part of a long standing debate between the votaries of materialism and naturalist epistemology, and their interlocutors, which is outside the scope of our discussion and is an independent, individual philosophical journey unto itself. Once you have negated the naturalist epistemology and transcended it, belief in the metaphysical is not an anomaly anymore. Be it miracles or celestial beings.

Even if one believes in the existence of the Absolute, given that anything less than Him is finite, how are celestial beings “supernatural” in any sense?

My main issue with the problem of miracles is that it renders natural laws and processes unreliable, and negates one’s reliance on scientific laws. For example, if the mathematical principles that underlie the design and launching of ballistic missiles were undermined by divine intervention—that is, a temporary suspension of natural law(s), enacted directly or indirectly by Allah’s external intervention, that is not already built into the created universe itself—then one would lack confidence in the very nature of our reality, including the most basic of lived experiences, testable postulations, and acquired sciences. Our daily life would become utterly unpredictable—far more so than it already is.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

Also, kindly don't assume my background.

Then kindly feel free to expound a bit on yours.

On 3/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, AbdusSibtayn said:

Do let me know if you have come across a single person in life who is implacably insistent that even the most profound tomes of medicine be simplified into "do-it-yourself" handbooks so that the average man in the streets gets to treat himself, obliterating the need for doctors? Are doctors a group of superfluous oligarchs in an unholy league with each other, shutting off all knowledge of medicine from the masses?

Actually, yes, along with specialists in many other fields of knowledge, who are also beholden to elite interests. That is why human progress is still being held back on many fronts, thanks to the moneyed interests of the ancient bloodlines and their secret, Masonic societies. For instance, the pharmaceutical companies and other monopolies have a tremendous stranglehold on medicine, education, physics, finance, economics, and sundry other branches of knowledge that affect our entire existence, worldview, and paradigm (“Matrix”). That is why, I suppose, the Hidden Imam is supposed to break this Masonic stranglehold and open up unprecedented human progress on all fronts, in addition to spiritual ones, of course.

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Posted (edited)

Hello! Firstly, my apologies if I came off as rude and impolite. My ego might have gotten the better of me, and there is no justification for being rude in a debate.

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

My main point was to highlight that revelation—that is, revealed Truth, however profound—can be theoretically presented in a straightforward and accessible manner.

Not always. If you have to communicate layered meanings, there is bound to be some amount of complexity in texts. Besides, profound concepts in and of themselves are bound to have some degree of complexity. Try, for instance, explaining reverse osmosis to a six year old without watering down anything about the phenomenon; I don't deem it very likely that you or anyone would succeed. All the same, a six year old doesn't need to understand the intricacies of reverse osmosis to operate a water purifier and fill himself a glass of water. The parable of revelation is the same- it has to cater to a constituency comprising a vast intellectual spectrum ,from those who are intellectually sophisticated to the relatively simple-minded, while conveying meanings that are layered. This is why some of the best literature retains some amount of sophistication, while being equally popular across social classes. Rumi, Hafez or even Omar Khayyam, for instance, did not need to compromise on their poetic panache to become equally popular among men on the streets as well as the intellectual circles within universities. And, as I have mentioned earlier too, no matter what our social background, historically speaking ,we tend to place a premium on eloquence, and like to listen to those who speak well. That is why good oratorical skills are an asset for aspiring politicians- they can easily captivate the masses, a vast majority of whom are simple folk with no special literary gifts, with their eloquence. This is why, keeping in mind various factors, a text of some profundity- and here there is no distinction between secular and religious literature- can't but have a degree of sophistication. What you have stated is a mere semantic possibility taking into account only one variable; once you factor in other variables you will see why it is not always possible to convey profound truths in aphoristically brief sayings. Let alone literature, even something as prosaic and unpoetic as the natural sciences do not always have the leeway for such possibility.

 

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

This portion is quite logical. However, a number of other contributors here suggest that “Allah’s Way” should be adhered to, not rationally justified via argumentation.

Err...not a very strong contra-point. Individual positions may or may not represent the position of the madhab. It is always better to look at what the creed of a school says to understand its theological positions. Even I may say something wrong here, in which case I too would refer you back to the classics of my school of thought.

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

Fair enough. I do not necessarily disagree with this point; however, especial eloquence is not restricted to verbosity, but also encompasses elegant simplicity.

Which is not always practicable. See the reply above. Moreover, this is precisely why the Qur'an has both simple and complex verses.

Can you please give a few practical examples of elegantly simple texts? I was led to believe that a piece of literature is either simple or elegant; simplicity may indicate lucidity, but elegant speech will inevitably involve a degree of sophistication. Even genres of literature characterized by apparent brevity- haikus or cryptograms, for instance- have deceptively complex meanings  that involve a lot of decipherment, and all in all, cannot be classified as 'simple' literature.

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

Yet Allah is also said to be Transcendent, and thus His level of reasoning is above, hence beyond, His creatures’. His is thus “beyond our ken,” in the ultimate sense.

Obviously, this does not by itself preclude man’s use of human rationality, but seemingly restricts and thereby qualifies it, possibly significantly, vis-à-vis revelation.

Where then is the dichotomy? Revelation's supersension of unaided human reason could have been called a 'restriction' had the latter possessed the ability to comprehend some phenomena in and of itself, without the aid of revelation, but were not being allowed to do so. But in this case revelation is assisting, and not restricting, human reason in comprehending those realities which it lacks the ability to grasp by itself alone. I don't see a lack of consistence here, and deem it possible to uphold reason and revelation at once, without vacillating between the two. Of course, the only way one can claim omniscience for unaided human reason is if he were too dogmatically wedded to the scientistic thought that emerged from Enlightenment rationalism in the 18th century. Today, even those who operate from within a materialist epistemology are, after the coming under doubt of mechanistic materialist and positivist assumptions of late-18th and early-19th century, increasingly questioning the ability of the human reason to figure out universal certainties; indeed, postmodernism, more that anything else, has attacked the very categories of 'rational' and 'scientific' as correct. Is, then, modern thought too moving in a direction that involves a negation of both vulgar empiricism and raw rationalism- something which Kant pointed out around 3 centuries ago in his 'Critique of Pure Reason'- but is still unwilling to acknowledge the elephant in the room?

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

I do not believe I ever implied or suggested this.

Thanks, then. We are in agreement here.

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

I partly concur with this. However, I was referring to the use of prayer, ablution, and other ritual to effect a certain result, whether this-worldly or otherwise, as opposed to the application of one’s own effort, endeavour, and knowledge. For example, rocket scientists and medical practitioners may or may not engage in religious practice, but religion does not supplant their possessing scientific, hence secular (or at least practical), knowledge pertaining to their field of expertise, without which competence in the design and manufacture of workable, prototypical rockets, medicines, etc. would prove impossible, and human society would stagnate as a result.

Of course, the working of the Divine is not meant to supplant human effort, but to aid and complement it. Hence the necessity of worldly knowledge and human effort, since to make effort also requires some knowledge. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) doesn't like lazy people. One needs to make the effort to attain his goal, and if Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) sees that his efforts are sincere, He will grant the believer progress and success. This is why 'tawakkul' (reliance on Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) ) and performing once duties with 'ihsan' and 'itqan' (excellence and care/meticulousness) have both been narrated in the traditions of the Prophet (S). As the famous hadith goes, "Trust in Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), but also tether your camel." This is why we are opposed to the doctrine of absolute predestination as well. 

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

I am fairly familiar with this myself, as it is also quite logical a principle, one that I encounter in my daily life. However, the exact degree of human volition is highly debatable.

Is that exactitude relevant here? As a human being, I know my limits, and what is within my capacity to do and what is not. Once I know that I have preformed my duties to the best of my abilities, the domain of my volition ends then and there. I leave whatever is beyond that to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Moreover, there can't be a universally applicable set limit to human volition; it is something that varies on a case to case basis. The more intellectually gifted, physically able and socially resourceful will have a greater leeway for exercising their volition in the concerned spheres, and so on and so forth.

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

Even if one believes in the existence of the Absolute, given that anything less than Him is finite, how are celestial beings “supernatural” in any sense?

My main issue with the problem of miracles is that it renders natural laws and processes unreliable, and negates one’s reliance on scientific laws. For example, if the mathematical principles that underlie the design and launching of ballistic missiles were undermined by divine intervention—that is, a temporary suspension of natural law(s), enacted directly or indirectly by Allah’s external intervention, that is not already built into the created universe itself—then one would lack confidence in the very nature of our reality, including the most basic of lived experiences, testable postulations, and acquired sciences. Our daily life would become utterly unpredictable—far more so than it already is.

They are supernatural in the sense that they don't exist as parts of the physical world as we know it. They are not naturally visible, tangible entities. I have used 'natural' in the same sense that it is used in 'naturalism'.

You are speaking as if natural laws are set in stone, and that no exceptions to them exist within the natural order itself. The pull of gravity is universal, yet how do some animate beings have the ability to defy gravity? Mammals give birth to live offspring, yet why do platypuses lay eggs? Sexual reproduction in both plant and animal kingdom is the norm, yet don't we see instances of asexual reproduction? Mammals are endoskeletons that have body hair, yet why do whales and dolphins not have it? Things expand on heating and contract on cooling, yet why does water expand when it reaches freezing point? To the human eye, these exceptional acts and occurrences are far more 'natural' than any miracle, and yet they do not shake our confidence in the laws that they flout. Why is this so? Is it because we are told by 'science' that these exceptions are not serious enough to undermine our confidence in those general principles? If miracles, being exceptions to natural laws, are to be considered reasons for casting doubts on those laws, then why not are these exceptions considered equally subversive, them also being exceptions at the end of the day? If we agree that these anomalies are not subversive enough to undermine our confidence in the natural laws, can we agree that exceptions do not always disprove laws?

As I said earlier, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) 's acts are not without purpose. The miracles also have a purpose- to instill a sense of awe and reverence in their spectators, and to hammer home the point that the workings of the universe are within Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) 's power, so much so that He can alter their pattern as he wishes; He can, in other words, make the impossible possible. Their aim is to draw attention towards the Maker of those natural laws, that the creatures are bound by those laws, while the Creator isn't. The working of the universal laws is from among the sunnah (tradition) of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), and miracles are from among his qudrah (power), and in that performing miracles is also a well-established practice of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), it is also arguably a part of His tradition (sunnah). To the materialist, who deems the universe to be autonomous, miracles are an anomaly since they confound his understanding of how the world works. To the believer, miracles are not objects of perplexion and anguish, because he knows that the universe isn't autonomous, but under Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) 's control; He is the creator of the laws which govern its working, and He can as easily suspend them as he brought them into motion. The deficiency, therefore, is with the materialist as he cannot understand miracles, and not with the believer who has an explanation for them. He sees in them God's work just as he sees it in the day to day working of the universe too.

Also, to the believer, the natural laws are means to an end, not an all-important end in itself on which his whole worldview is contingent. That is why proving their immutability is not a headache for him. Even if we are to discount the believer's perspective, natural laws have hardly been the changeless, timeless truths writ in stone that the scientistic worldview based on the naturalistic epistemology supposes them to be; all though the preceding centuries they have been questioned, critiqued and replaced by other 'truths'; paradigmatic changes have taken place, and what we deem to be a 'law' today may become a 'superstition' tomorrow. Refer to Kuhn's concept of 'paradigm shift'. If my theocentric worldview 'lacks evidence' and is 'irrational', I don't see how a materialist's worldview is based on foundations that are any less flimsy. I mean, if you are looking to base your entire world outlook on some principles, you had made sure that you base it on something more durable than the ideological basis of those whom you lampoon as 'superstitious'. Natural laws, contrary to what positivism supposes, are not self-evident, immutable 'truths', but submissions which at the moment appear tenable, and at the next moment may not. Miracles or no miracles, what difference does it make once we have accepted that 'natural laws' are not some immutable, inviolable truths writ in stone?

12 hours ago, Northwest said:

Actually, yes, along with specialists in many other fields of knowledge, who are also beholden to elite interests. That is why human progress is still being held back on many fronts, thanks to the moneyed interests of the ancient bloodlines and their secret, Masonic societies. For instance, the pharmaceutical companies and other monopolies have a tremendous stranglehold on medicine, education, physics, finance, economics, and sundry other branches of knowledge that affect our entire existence, worldview, and paradigm (“Matrix”). That is why, I suppose, the Hidden Imam is supposed to break this Masonic stranglehold and open up unprecedented human progress on all fronts, in addition to spiritual ones, of course.

But does this fact disprove the knowledge of the specialists, or the fact that we still need specialized knowledge of medicine?

Also, generally speaking, your contention is not true in the case of Islam. Historically, those identified as religious scholars have been more in conflict with the elite than in cahoots with them- the tensions between the ulama and the power holding elite in Muslim polities is a history unto itself. In the time of the Prophet (S) and the Imams (عليه السلام) itself, a majority of their companions, the earliest scholars of Islam, were from exceedingly humble backgrounds who led simple lives, having mostly tense relations with the powers that be because of their principles, and undergoing great privations for the sake of their faith. The same holds true for the ulama today, the two leading marjas of the contemporary Twelver Shi'is, Ayatollah Sistani and Ayatollah Khamenei (may Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) lengthen their lives) being representative examples of the exceedingly spartan, near-monastic lifestyle  that our ulama lead. Unlike Christendom, nothing analogous to a property holding church could develop in Islam, and especially in Twelver Shi'ism, the institution of khums gave the hawza near-complete autonomy from the state, thereby making it possible for the ulama to retain their intellectual independence as well, and not having to kowtow to the elite to survive. Do mind, however, that this by no means mean that all is well with the Prophet (S)'s flock, and that is why we wait upon the Final Imam (aj) to return and set things right.

But we digress. The point was not to debate whether monopolies and collusion of interests exist or not, the point was that whatever the scenario, we can't do without specialized knowledge and specialists. The ulama too are no exception to this rule.

Edited by AbdusSibtayn
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