And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. (Holy Qur’an 5:32)
Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem, Allahumma Salli Ala Muhammed.
As salamu ‘alikum warahmutallahi wabaraktuh, Dear respected readers. This was an e-mail that was sent to me some many months back. I will keep the reader’s name confidential as I will with all such correspondence insh’Allah. Rather or not you agree with Prima-Qur’an is irrelevant. Please keep this person in your du’a.
This is what the respected brother had put forward as well as my response.
Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem, walakum salaam wr wb, Dear respected brother, I hope you are in the best of health and faith and that Allah swt has brought some levity to your situation and ease to your troubled heart. Indeed these are challenging times, for us all.
If you are still around, please do let me know. I would be curious as to which debates/discussions on forums you have already weighed over, and/or which books you have read in English, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, Farsi and so forth on the subjects at hand. You may include works in other languages. The reason I am asking you this is, is because I wish not to be redundant and recommend material that you may already posses or have poured over.
So what I would try and do is find out what issues in particular you are grappling with and than I would give you recommended sources from the Ashari, Salafist-Athari, or Mutazalite theological schools so that you can pray on it. As regards the Athari-Salafi/Maturdi/Asharis and all of this, I am of the impression that Islam is a big tent with a room for all these views. I would say I am a minority in holding this conviction.
I am actually more interested to see which of these theological positions, Athari, Maturidi, Ashari, Mutazalite and others can safe guard the hearts and minds of Muslims. How do each of these view points square up with say, Christianity, Hindu Brahmanism, New Age belief systems, various Western/Eastern philosophical schools and their formations of ontological and epidemiological world views.
Because this is a debate WITH-IN Islam, I am curious and fascinated to see which of these theological schools safe guard the heart and mind of Muslims. It even could be that the truth is in a combination of these schools.
I’m quite sure that the early Muslims did not delve into all of these matters. I believe that there primary concern was that they ascribed no partner to Allah (swt) than to delve into the ‘who/what/when/where/why’ of Allah (swt). So I think the main issue is shirk and we have to be very careful of accusing any Muslim of shirk. I find that all of these schools of creed are constructs of human beings, being constructs of human beings they are bound to contain flaws and inconsistencies.
If Allah (swt) says in the Holy Qur’an that he has hands , are we to fault someone for repeating this? Does the Holy Qur’an say, “I have two hands (btw in a way that benefits my majesty” or does it simply say, ” I have two hands” ? So in reality when Athari-Salafist say that Allah (swt) has two hands (in a way that benefits Allah swt majesty) they are already making concessions to the Ashari’s. When the Athari-Salafist take the verse “Allah is with you where ever you are” they always like to add “in his knowledge” and that is not what the text says. So in reality we are making the text to conform to our theological presuppositions. So the Atharis-Salafist are guilty on this point. I think we are all a bit guilty of this and Allah (swt) knows best.
Or In the Hereafter, Muslims can see Allah. “Some faces that Day shall be shining and radiant looking at their Lord.” (Holy Quran 75:22-23) So as you may have read the Ashari’s seem to be masters at giving interpretations to anything and everything and yet seem to get stuck on this point. So why is it appropriate for Ashari’s to assert that people will see Allah (swt) without this in any way shape or form belittling the majesty of Allah (swt) without Allah (swt) being contained by time/space and yet Salafist-Atharis can not state what Allah (swt) has stated about himself in the Holy Qur’an? There could be volumes and volumes written on the meaning “nothing like unto him”.
After all it seems a bit redundant to allow theological and philosophical classifications to so easily define what ‘is’ and ‘is not’ for a being in which “there is nothing like unto him” no model or mode for comparison. “Say: the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah, for which He has given no authority, and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.” (Holy Qur’an 7:33).” For example I do not believe that Allah (swt) is a Trinity not because I believe its impossible, I do not believe it because I do not believe that this is how Allah (swt) has revealed himself to us.
In fact when I have participated in dhikr -sufi circles of remembering Allah (swt) I actually felt closest to Allah (swt) by not defining the Creator as this or that, or putting my own finite limited understanding to the All Powerful, and the one who Has Full Grasp of All Things, but by simply being in a state of awe that Allah (swt) is beyond my comprehension, and that this Omnipotent being cares for me loves me , showers compassion and mercy upon me and All creation.
To be fair in the same way that Hanbali and Shafi’i and the ‘Ahl Hadith’ have been unfair to the Hanafi madhab when it comes to their approach to the hadith, I feel that the Hanafi, Shaf’i and Maliki have been at times unfair to the Athari-Salafist school. Hence if you notice today when people speak about ‘traditional Islam’ when/where do you see Hanbali fiqh classes? The truth of the matter is that the Salafi manhaj is a natural outgrowth of the Hanbali mahadhab. The idea that Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah is one big happy family is not entirely false nor is it entirely true. Our history has been fraught with tensions concerning jurisprudence and creed.
If you have not had the chance I would highly recommend a translation of Abu Hamid Al Ghazali’s Faysal Al-Tafriqa (On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam) by Sherman A. Jackson. I think this is an absolute MUST read; especially needed in our times.
Please forgive me for the time it has taken to reply you. I hope that you have not given up on life. Please know that I am here for you my beloved brother in any capacity that I can be. In service to you.
As salamu ‘alikum warahmutallahi wabaraktuh.