All entries for Thursday 12 March 2009

March 12, 2009

Lesson 11: Al–Aqida Al–Sanusiyya Lesson by Shaykh Afifi al–Akiti

Follow-up to Lesson 10: Al–Aqida Al–Sanusiyya Lesson by Shaykh Afifi al–Akiti from Saya's Ramblings...

Teacher: Shaykh Afifi al-Akiti

Venue: Banbury – As-Shifa Centre (Banbury Madni Masjid,

Merton Street, Banbury, OX16 4RP)

Date: 28th February 2009

Time: 8-9 pm

Text: Al-Aqida Al-Sanusiyya

Ref: Page 1

The main discussion talked about the struggle to find the middle path of Islam and classify people between 5 distinct types in trying to find a the balance between scripture (naqli) and reason (aqli):

1. The Far Right – Al Karamiyah – Antipromorphists

·       When there are disputes between what in Qur’an says and what our intellect (reason) tells us about something they take the truth of the scripture literally, at the expense of reason.

·       They only stick to the letter of the law, not to the spirit of the law (literalists). This school also takes certain verses of the Qur'an literally and does not challenge them with intellect.

·       Ifraad – Extreme Right Wing. The word 'Ifraad' is from the root word 'farada' in Arabic which means obligation.

·       The 'Karami School' is an example of such far right wingers, where their principles lead to rigidity in Islam and hence called extremists to the 'right' as suggested by Imam Al-Ghazali. It is the Karami School, for example, that takes Thinks of Allah (SWT) is as having a physical body like a human being.

2. The Far Left – Falasifaa (philosophers) - Liberals, materialists, secularists etc.

·       When the quran says something, but reason says something else, they believe in reason, i.e. relying on reason at the expense of scriptures.

A common question: Should Muslims have women imams?

·       In hadith, there has been no precedent set of women leading a mixed congregation.

·       Even Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians do not allow women priests and the recent introduction of women priests is already causing problems in Protestant churches.

·       It is a similar case in Judaism and is a common concern across all (Abrahamic) faiths. e.g. We cannot see God, so no God exists.

·       Tafreed – Extreme Left Wing. (In Arabic, tafreed and ifraad, both mean Extreme).

Islam is not only about absolute rules; it is not only black and white but there are grey areas.

The Middle Path

3. “The Right Midfield”

·       Whenever reason contradicts scripture, those on the middle-right will take scripture as precedent over reason. (All Hanbalis fit into this category and some Asharis as well). But according to the majority Sunni tradition, they are all considered Sunni Muslims.

·       Tashbeeh > Tanzeeh e.g. they believe in God – Does not have a body, but still has a direction i.e. One can point to God. (The unmovable God?)

'”God created Adam in His image” (Hadith in Islam, verse in other Abrahamic religious texts). Point of debate is: does the “His” refer to as Adam of does it refer to God Himself?  Ghazali would be in the latter category.

4. “The left midfield”

·       Whenever reason contradicts scripture, those on the middle-left will take reason as primacy over scripture. (Some Ma’turiddis, All Mo’taziris, and  The Mo’taziris School is also commonly referred to as those who do not accept the hadith (the Anti-Hadith Movement, the Progressive Muslims or even The Liberal Islam in Indonesia.

·       e.g. The believe in God – He does not have attributes (Similar to the Jewish tradition and Christian doctrine of divine simplicity- that God is Transcendent) 

·       Tashbeeh < Tanzeeh

·       i.e. When Allah sees/hears/etc. it is only metaphorical. This interpretation can present problems, in that if we pray to Allah and he does not see/listen/hear, Allah becomes an impersonal God and one who does not know the universe.

·       Focus on the incomparable attributes of God e.g. ''no beginning'', ''no end'', ''the only One''

·       Also – God can only create good; not both good and evil.

·       This also conflict with the Qura’nic verse “Allah is closer to you than your jugular vein”

5. “The Captain”

·       Those amongst the Asharis, Hanbalis and Maturiddis, who believe that the truth of reason and scripture are the same and where there is a contradiction (or conflict), there is a solution. We may not know the solution now, in which case we should keep faith, However, there is an answer, which may be discovered later. This is because both Aql (reason) and Naqliah are from the Allah (SWT).

·       This is the most difficult position to be in as pointed out by Imam Ghazali (e.g. captain of a football team)

·       Tashbeeh = Tanzeeh

·       To be in the middle, we need to find a solution, even if it takes time.

·       To find the middle way, there must either be a compromise within two points, or devoid of two extremes. (Imam Ghazali) – and this is where we have Islam to guide us and when we see a problem such as this, we don't judge it, we leave it to I'man which gives us Sabr (patience). Until the day when a scholar or of naqli or aqli will guide us to the answer.

·       "There is no religion for those who do not use their intellect" - Prophet's (pbuh) hadith

·       Islam (religion) is meant to teach us how to achieve this balance

·       Imam Ghazali says: The Quran is the scripture from the outside while Aqal is the scripture from within.

·       Achieving this balance will make you the ''Middle Nation''  It is this middle way where we ought to be.

·       Although we may have 5/10/15% of far right or far left attributes within ourselves, we must struggle to make it 80/90/100% middle path and make it to the centre of the map.

·       Note again: If you do not have evidence, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It will take time to find it, but for the meanwhile, have faith in it.

God created Adam in His image (Bible verse in Christianity ; Muslims have this as a hadith)

What does it mean?

1. He refers to Adam ie. God created Adam in man’s image

2. His refers to Allah (SWT) but refers to the relational attributes, in terms of how we can relate with Allah eg. power, will, knowledge, see, hear etc.

Both are commensurate with Sunni Islam. The second example is that from Imam Al-Ghazali.

·       E.g. God has no direction, because intellect does not allow us to accept God as having limits. However, God has attributes. Even if we do not know what these mean, we take it in faith.

·       E.g. Allah AlalArsh can be interpreted as God being a dominion over the world… cannot say that Allah literally sits on a throne.

·       Make sure you have the correct image / understanding of God. Then you can go further into the role of faith between scripture and reason.

The Important of Studying Science and Philosophy?

·       In each generation, there are uncertain and very debated things. It will be these issues/debates that will destroy the balance of aqli and naqli.

·       e.g. Today: The Theory of Evolution; Imam Ghazali’s time: Aristotle’s science

·       We must go deeper into the science and check whether it is absolutely 100% correct. If it is correct, and is proved, then we need to attempt to reconcile the scientific finding with scripture.

·       Again, don’t try to rush things!

·       This is exactly what Imam Ghazali did with respect to Aristotlian Science. He did not fear entering into philosophy and investigation. To know the difference between good and bad, you need to know bad as well.

·       Imam Ghazali wrote many books amongst them:

·       Mufaasir Al-filasifah: UGLY

·       Tahfuz Al-filasifah: BAD

·       Al-Madnoon + various others: THE GOOD

·       In order to know the good from bad you have to be well versed in the particular science/field and root out the ugly first. You need to master both: the religious sciences and the rational/worldly sciences.

·       Example of snake: In the snakes there is a useful antidote as well as a deadly poison (Imam Ghazali). One needs to master the rationale sciences (here Biology) and the scripture sciences (from Qur'an and hadiths) to understand this balance and know this fact better.

The class ended with recitation of Durood (sending peace and blessings to the beloved Prophet (salalahoalayhewasalam)

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