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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)

February 15, 2009

Lesson 10: Al–Aqida Al–Sanusiyya Lesson by Shaykh Afifi al–Akiti

Writing about web page

The following are the notes (compiled by students) who attended one of the lectures


Teacher: Shaykh Afifi al-Akiti

Venue: Banbury – As-Shifa Centre (Banbury Madni Masjid, Merton Street, Banbury, OX16 4RP)

Date: 30th January 2009 (10th session)

Time: 8-9 pm

Text: Al-Aqida Al-Sanusiyya

Ref: Page 1

Word of Focus: 'Ilm (knowledge)

The root cause of the problems that the Muslim Ummah is facing is corruption of knowledge. We must go back to our classical texts to understand and interpret religion.

To study any subject/science completely, there are ten principles:

  1. The Definition of the science/ subject
  2. The Objectives ‘’      ‘’       ‘’       ‘’
  3. The Benefits           ‘’       ‘’       ‘’      
  4. The Value               ‘’       ‘’       ‘’
  5. The Context           ‘’       ‘’       ‘’      
  6. Scholars/Founders ‘’ ‘’       ‘’       ‘’ (A’dab –e- ikhtilaaf)
  7. Name                     ‘’       ‘’       ‘’
  8. Sources        ‘’       ‘’       ‘’       ‘’
  9. Legal of Rulings       ‘’       ‘’       ‘’
  10. Misaa’il         ‘’       ‘’       ‘’

The first seven have been discussed in earlier classes.

Fiqh (Jurisprudence) vs. Theology:

Fiqh has 4 main sources: 1) Quran 2) Hadith 3) Ijma 4) Qiyas 1, 2 & 3 are Naqli. 4 is Aqli

Today’s focus is on the Sources of this science of theology which are:

1)    Naql – Scripture ie. Quran and Hadith

2)    Aql – Reason (Intellectual Reasoning)

Why should one focus on aql when we know that there is divine revelation (word of Allah) to guide us in this world. Surely this guidance is of highest importance than our intellect (aql). This has been answered by Imam Al-Ghazali as follows:

Imam Ghazali said: Those who deny the truth of reason, whether they realize it or not, in the name of religion, they deny the truth of scripture (i.e. denial of the divine revelation

  • Why? Because it is only through aql that we are able to differentiate between Nabi (Holy Prophet s.a.w)and annabi (people like Musalymah)
  • This basically means that it is through using both, reason and scripture, that you can reach Allah (SWT). Unlike animals, we have been given the gift of fitra (described metaphorically as the innate programming) which is given to us before our existence. Therefore all humans reason to answer the “questions of life” such as What am I doing? Where am I going? Why am I here? Etc.
  • This answer has been agreed by most theologians
  • Ad-deen: Huwa aql (Religion is logical said Imam Ghazali). An example given was that in other religions such as the Christian trinity, religion does not make logical sense. However, Islam does.
  • In support of this answer, the prophet (pbuh) has also said in a particular hadith which has been translated as: “there is no religion for those who don’t use their reason” (Arabic starting as: ladeena limala aqllahu

We have 3 types of existence (as explained in detail in previous classes) and extracted from the works of the notable scholar Imam Al-Hadad

1)    Before our coming into the world: when we (i.e. our souls) took a covenant with Allah: it is this pre-existence and the pledge, that makes us ask question where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going. It is this fitra that makes us ask this and hence this fitra is the divine correspondence with God.

2)    In our mother’s wombs

3)    After our births (i.e. in this world in humanly bodies)

The Definition of Theology:

  1. “The science that should give one the ability to affirm aqeedah, that is derived from proofs which are certain” ie. From the quran / hadith
  2. He who knows himself will know his Lord
  3. Intellect/Reasoning was described as the foundation and the scriptures, as the building itself. i.e. If there is no foundation, then the scriptures cannot stand up on their own. BUT if there is the foundation, but no building, then it is just like an empty plot of land. (ref Imam Ghazali)
  4. Eg. You know how to pray, but do not actually perform prayers
  5. E.g. if one is praying, but doens;t know why…then his deeds/actions are wasted.
  6. The Quran: Those who are deaf/blind/dumb are those who do not use their intellect (Approximate meaning from the Quran, this is taken from surah baqarah transliteration being: “sumum, buqmun, umyun, fahum layou’minoon” Chapter 2, Verse 18).
  • Person who knows but does not do will be punished before the idol-worshippers
  • Person who has knowledge is better than he who prays 100 rakahs (hadith)
  • Allah-hu nur ala’al-nur (Allah is the light upon light) Interpreted that one light is the scripture, and the other light is the intellect/reasoning (ref: Surah Nur, Verse 6)
  • Ilm (knowledge) and amal (action) go hand in hand
  • Al-Aqlu, Alnakl min Daakhilun wa Alnaklu, Aql min Khaarijin (Imam Al Ghazali’s interpretation of this verse from Surah Noor):
  • Reasoning is Scripture from within (i.e. aql), and Scripure is reasoning from outside(i.e. scriptures)

Hence they are one and the same thing and should be given equal “airtime” in our minds.

Next lesson:

5 theological groups of how to approach the truth of aql and naql. How to obtain the ‘balance’ and follow the ihl-sunnah of being right in the middle.

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