“My ordeal with the Qur’an” part 2

9200000062260812“They consider (it) a favor to you that they have accepted Islam. Say, “(Do) not consider a favor on me – your Islam. Nay, Allah has conferred a favor upon you that He has guided you to the faith, if you are truthful.” (Holy Qur’an 49:17)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before you read this entry I would highly encourage you to read the first here:

https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2017/11/07/my-ordeal-with-the-quran-part-1/

The source text for this critique is found here:

http://ex-muslim.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/My-Ordeal-with-the-Quran-Complete-Full-Version.pdf

So let us continue where the author left off…

The Work of the Exegetes of the Qurʾān:

“Every commentator starts from a specific viewpoint according to the principles of a specific school.” (pg 38)

Does not the skeptic, agnostic  and atheist also approach the Qur’an from a particular school, or worldview?

“He must rely on one that is built upon objective critique and a dispassionate appraisal, so that one is able to distinguish the bad from the good,56 the comely from the crass, and what is clear from what is encrypted and leaves one more than baffled.” (page 39)

Dispassionate appraisal coming from the person who said….

“My sole intention in writing this book is to storm this lion’s lair that guards the text of the Qur’ān. First and foremost, we must tear away the layer of sanctity and holiness that surrounds this text. Without doing so, it will be impossible to properly study the text. We must disrobe the text, see it naked, and question its sanctity. We must apply the methodology of reason to the text.It is only through this process that new horizons will open themselves up to us. Horizons that those whose eyes are veiled with the holiness of the text can never hope to reach, for they are idol worshippers. There is no difference between those who worship statues and those who worship the text.” (page 6)

“There is no true critique of the Qur’ānic text, no challenging of any verses, no exercising of reason with an open and analytical spirit, free and unfettered by presuppositions.” (pg 39)

How true! Unfettered by presuppositions, even the presuppositions of agnostics, skeptics and those who have a subjective and particular view of what is reasonable and rational!

“It has destroyed the capacity to think critically and independently, as well as all ability to differentiate and make a sound judgment upon the “holy” text that would contradict the inviolability of the text.” (pg 39)

Here lies the fatal flaw and the agenda for all to see plain and bare.  So unless a Muslim has an opinion about any part of the Holy Qur’an that contradicts its inviolability than this is not allowed?

So  holding a supra-natural world view is not permissible? Believing that (God forbid) the Qur’an is indeed a revelation from the Creator of the universe is not permissible? Believing that the Qur’an is eloquent, coherent, cogent, without contradiction is not permissible?

I see! ‘free and unfettered by presuppositions’ indeed!

“Look at al-Ghazali: how vigorously he applies reason! But he soon loses his critical ability when talking about the hoopoe bird of Sulayman, the camel of Salih, the people of Gog and Magog, and the beast that God will bring out of the earth in the end-times for a task of great importance concerning the unbelievers, so that this beast can inform them (in the Arabic language, of course): “That people did not believe in Our verses.” (pg 39)

What more proof do we need that a supra-natural world view is simply not allowed?

 

“For that reason, you will see man sacrifice himself to rescue his Lord. Or, to put it more precisely, to rescue the image he created of his Lord.” (pg 40)

Amin!  If only the author could rescue himself from the image he has created of his Lord, of one distant, cold, uncaring.

“God is self-sufficient and not in need of the world. If a disaster befalls man, then he must blame no-one but himself, for your Lord does not wrong a soul.” (pg 40)

If the author was able to understand this than why his struggles with pain and suffering?  Either the author is being glib or showing a flat contradiction in his own perceptions of the divine.

The naive state of religious certainty is a primitive approach that belongs to the past. The time has come for us to cross over and go beyond to what lies ahead. Or, at the very least, to reduce its effect as much as we are able to do.”  (pg 41)

So once again we are confronted with a pre-suppositional world view that does not allow for others to be certain in their  faith, for how can they it belongs to the past so says me!

Firm believers of whatever sort, be they Muslim, Christian, or any other, cannot ever accept that the divine books can be subject to rigorous and scholarly criticism.” (pg 41)

Likewise atheist, radical skeptics who have their own presupposition that cannot ever accept that Christians and Muslims can be confronted with rigorous and scholarly criticism and still be believers!

The next few pages from the author are nothing more than a secularist diatribe.   It is nauseating how the author goes on and on about how the Qur’an is a relic of the past and we don’t need it etc.

Yet you keep wondering when is this person going to get to the ‘meat of it’.   How much longer will we have to endure this rant?

Let’s get on with it. Where is the devastating critique of the Qur’an?

 

“While the classical stage of our history was dynamic and potent, able to give and take, create and innovate, investigate and examine, our present stage is characterised by apathy, stagnation, and blind, regressive fundamentalism that is not proficient in anything apart from the language of intolerance, violence, blood and death. This language is taking us deeper into the darkness”  (pg 43)

Ah yes! That ‘classical stage‘ where in the Muslim masses believed a supra-natural world view, where they believed the Quran was a revelation from the Lord of the worlds.   It is lamentable that the author can clearly see that there was an epoch of civilization and high culture among Muslims.  So obviously the Qur’an was not the problem. It is intellectually lazy to not even suggest other factors that may have led to this decline among Muslims that he speaks of.

We are to believe in the most irrational of ironies that the Quran which led to high civilization and high culture is the same Quran that is causing stagnation.

 

Yet, again here we are sluggish in our seats listening /reading to this secular sermon, this diatribe against the sacred. He have to listen/read this sermon and we are not told the hows’ and the whys’.

How did the Qur’an lead to the decline?  Why did the Qur’an lead to the decline?

 

How much longer do we endure this secular sermon before we get to the ‘meat of it‘? Is there any meat to this I wonder?

How much longer do we have to hear about how the Quran is:

old-fashioned, out of date, outmoded, out of fashion, unfashionable, out of style, dated,out, outworn, old, former, musty, old-time, old-world, behind the times, behindhand, past,bygone, archaic, obsolescent, obsolete, ancient, antiquated, superannuated, defunct,medieval, prehistoric, antediluvian, old-fogeyish, old-fangled, backward-looking, quaint,anachronistic, crusted, feudal, fusty, moth-eaten, olde worlde; ???

 

 

I earnestly like to find out why people believe the things that they do. I like to know why people believe or disbelieve in the things that they do.  Yet, I catch myself becoming drowsy while reading.   Does this person actually have something they want to say?

 

“The sap has become dry, ambition withered, and desire faded. Innovation is a dirty word, and the doors of ijtihad have closed, never to open again. Fruitful fields of scientific study have been abandoned, and, little-by-little, its place has been taken by the ideology of resignation, fatalism, superstition, and passive reliance upon the supernatural. This was not due to theological censorship, as with the ecclesiastical authority in medieval Christianity,60 but rather was due to the disintegration of the social and political frameworks of the Arab and Islamic world, as well as the decline of the intellectual and spiritual trends starting from the 11th and 12th centuries. From that time, the reactionary “Madrasah” education system spread throughout Zawiyas, Tekkes and Ribats,61 and, from there, popular forms of religion and practises spread amongst the masses, including things like the belief in saints, miracles (كرامات), and various other superstitions. At the same time, the link to the rational, scientific, and intellectual heritage of the productive and positive era of our history was severed. The Qur’ān had lost the spark that ignited its fire; it had lost its inner drive, its dynamics, and its ability to bring about change and renewal. It had lost contact with the march of time and the spirit of the age, and, as a consequence, it lost its relevance and qualitative function in reality and progress.” (pg 43)

For someone who is  supposedly using reason as the ultimate guide how do we make the jump from ‘people being the cause of the decline of Muslims’ to the leap forward that ‘the Qur’an had lost the spark, dynamics‘ etc…. ?

The Qur’an didn’t say the doors of ijtihad were closed? If so where?

The Qur’an didn’t tell people to abandon fruitful fields of scientific study? If so where?

The Qur’an does tell us to rely upon Allah (swt) but not at the expense of being practical.  Remember when Mary (a.s) told Allah (swt) that she was hungry?  Allah (swt) told her to ‘shake towards the palm tree and it will yield produce’.  In other words she had to put in effort.

“And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.” (Holy Qur’an 19:25)   If Allah (swt) can tell a pregnant woman ,the Blessed Marry, whom is carrying a prophet in her blessed womb that she needs to put effort in seeking her sustenance what about the rest of us?

What about the following oral traditions attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw)?

Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah.” (Sunan Al Tirmidhi)

“You know best the affairs of your world.”

“After arriving in Medina, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) passed by some people who were fecundating some date palms, so he asked them what they were doing. When they told him, he said, “I don’t think that will provide any benefit,” or in another narration, “It would be better if you didn’t do that.”

So they refrained from doing it, and that year the crop was not as good. They mentioned it to him (peace and blessings be upon him), and he replied:

“I am only a human: if I command you to do something in your religion, then take it; but if I tell you to do something based on personal opinion, then [realize] that I am only human,” and in another narration, “Yet if I inform you of something from Allah, then do it, for indeed I will never convey an untruth on behalf of Allah Mighty and Majestic,” and in yet another narration, “You know better of your worldly affairs.” (‘Sahih’ Muslim)

“Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “If the Final Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.” (Hadith Ahmad)

“The Messenger of Allah said: “Tiyarah (belief in evil omens/superstistions) is  equivalent to associating partners with Allah!” (Hadith Abu Dawud)

“The Prophet  said: “There is no ‘adwa (transmission of infectious disease without the permission of Allaah) and no tiyarah (superstitious belief s), but I like optimism.” They said, “What is optimism?” He said, “A good word.”  (Hadith Bukhari & Hadith Muslim)

I say that it is possible to write volumes on the verses of the Holy Qur’an and oral traditions ascribed to the Blessed Messenger and his companions that speak against fatalism, superstition and yes even “passive” reliance upon Allah (swt).  If this person truly studied in Al Ahzar as is claimed and spent years of his life dedicated to studying Islam why didn’t he come across an entire treasure trove of such concepts?

On top of that that Islam is filled with edicts, commands, and advice to seek knowledge and the virtues of seeking knowledge.  After all isn’t this the same author who quotes Al Ghazali (raheemullah) in regards to having doubts and seeking clarity?

 

Why didn’t occur to the author to investigate the more interesting question of …do Muslims actually read the Qur’an for themselves today?   Do Muslims try and ponder the meaning of the Qur’an for themselves? Do Muslims read the Qur’an for understanding or simply read it for blessings?   Are there big pictures and murals of Qur’anic verses in one’s houses while there is allot of empty space in our hearts?

Is the problem not rather the Qur’an but the fact that the centrality and authority of the Qur’an has been overridden by ancillary and secondary sources in Islam?

 

“This one said, “Go back to the fundamentals,” and this one said, “Challenge the fundamentals and engage with modernity and the intellectual currents,” while this one says, “Reconcile the two views, and let’s awake from our lethargy and apathy.” This one calls for openness towards the “other,” this one calls for isolationism and destruction of the “other,” and this one stands between to moderate. This one calls for innovation, this one blames innovation, this one demands to be followed, while this wants to follow, although following, in his view, cannot be without  innovation, and so on…” (pg 43-44)

He forgot to add:

And this one said “You know what religion is just a big waste of time, and the only way forward is from a materialistic  and secular world view.

Somehow the author forgot to mention that one. I thought it would be worthy of mentioning the world view of the author. ‘religion is just a big waste of time‘.

“The worst thing that has happened to us today is our disastrous relationship with the world around us. We are still trying to live according to decaying cultural modes and extinct forms of civilisation” (pg 44)

Because Allah knows it’s only western culture and European civilization that can guide is forward now!

The Belief of Muslims in the Miraculous Nature (of the Qur’ān) (pg 45)

Is the sermon over? Are we going to get to something of substance now?

Well, we are given this from the author:

“Ibn Rawandi began his heretical writings in the latter years of his life, and they are the books that he owes his importance and high status to. Among these books is one where he dealt a massive blow to the Qur’ān, which he entitled The Crushing Blow. It was, as its title suggests, a merciless attack on the Qur’ān.” (pg 50)

So tell us what are it’s contents? What is this massive blow?  Can we have some examples of this ‘merciless attack’ ? No this comes latter he will give us examples from Ibn Rawandi.

Than the author gives us this:

“In this vein, and in the name of reason (which he never ceases to praise and extol even for a moment), he goes on to attack the Qur’ān in The Emerald. In this book, he reviews the concept of the miraculousness of the Qur’ān and criticises it ruthlessly, annihilating the view that the Qur’ān is of divine origin. He puts forward a simple, concrete, logical, and reasoned view with no ambiguity in it, convincing the intelligent of the human nature of the Qur’ān, and refuting those who say that it is an inspiration from Allah and a revelation from an all-wise and all-knowing entity.” (pg 51)

Oh stop teasing us already! What are the contents of this finding? Show us the examples of ‘annihilating the view that the Qur’an is of divine origin.’

After rambling about the futility of the Holy Qur’an, and the virtue of secularism and teasing us with Ibn Rawandi he finally starts to get into the ‘meat‘ of it.

Before that the author is basically  going into the history of the intellectual discourse that was had in the classical period of Islam.   He is basically telling us  that there were people who doubted the revelation of the Qur’an.

Yet, the thing about this is that during this period there were also allot of false accusations being made by one camp against other. It was also a period of pseudonymous writings and ghost writers.

However, he has not given us anything concrete other than to say ‘oh by the way so and so and so and so said such and such and such and such’.

So now after the secular sermon we finally have two excellent examples of doubt hurled against the Holy Qur’an.

In regards to the argument from eloquence that some Muslims used to assert that the Qur’an was miraculous Ibn Rawandi says:

“It is also related that, regarding refuting the belief in the miraculousness of the Qur’ān, ibn al-Rawandi had said, “Indeed, it is not impossible that one Arab tribe is more eloquent than all the other tribes, and that a group of people in this tribe are more eloquent than others in this tribe, and that one member of this group is more eloquent than the rest of this group… and suppose that his eloquence was spread amongst the Arabs…so what is its wisdom upon the non-Arabs, who do not understand the Arabic language? What is the proof for the divinity of the Qur’ān for them?” (page 51)

This is an excellent question but comes short in that it is based upon an assumption.

That assumption being that non-Arabs come to Islam by some argument from eloquence concerning the Arabic text of the Qur’an.

“Behold, We have caused it to be a discourse in the Arabic tongue, so that you might encompass it with your reason.” (Holy Qur’an 43:3)

Now obviously when I as a Non-native Arabic speaker read this is in English I am able to comprehend that it is not speaking to me.   The primary audience of the Holy Qur’an were the people of Arabia and they were given the task of passing on the message of Islam to others.

Notice that the author quoted us from where critics of the Holy Qur’an claimed that they could produce the like of it in eloquence?  However, notice that he did not give us such examples and/or the response of Muslim grammarians (those who study Nahu) and philologist?

Millions upon Millions of people all over the globe from Africa, Asia, Europe have embraced the message of Islam without recourse to the Arabic language and text.  Yet, Islam is indeed the only faith that I am aware of that highly encourages its readers to learn the Arabic language so that we may have access to the source text ourselves!  We are encouraged to learn the language of Arabic to have access to the discourse.

As regards to the challenge to ‘make something like it‘. I have went into lengths about that here:

https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/make-something-like-the-holy-quran-is-it-a-fair-challenge-in-light-of-the-hadith-literature/

Actually the real missed opportunity by skeptics like Ibn Al Rawandi is in dealing with verses like the following:

““Say: “If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.” (Holy Qur’an 17:88)

You could say from a pre-supposition of a secular materialist that the challenge laid out to “Jinns” makes little to no sense to us as humans.  I’m rather surprised that  Ibn Al Rawandi didn’t take that line of attack.

So there is already a dimension of this challenge that is beyond human measurement.

“Verily, this is no less than a Reminder to all the ‘Alamin” (Holy Qur’an 81:27)

“And when we (Jinn) heard the guidance, we believe in it. And whoever believes in his Lord will not fear deprivation or burden. (Holy Qur’an 72:13) ”

And, when We directed to you a few of the jinn, listening to the Qur’an. And when they attended it, they said, “Listen quitely.”  And when it was concluded, they went back to their people as warners.” (Holy Qur’an 46:29)

So how do we measure this?  We don’t! This is a matter of the unseen.  If your presupposition is of a supra-natural world view this is allowable. If your presupposition does not allow a supra-natural world view than this is something to doubt.

No where does the Holy Qur’an make the argument that it’s inimitably is the only means by which people can know the truth about Islam.

The following will prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

“Allah puts forth a Parable a man belonging to many partners at variance with each other, and a man belonging entirely to one master: are those two equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! but most of them have no knowledge.” (Holy Qur’an 39:29)

If the eloquence of the Arabic Qur’an was enough Allah (swt) wouldn’t need to put forth parables and similitude’s for people to reflect on.

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is rightly guided.” (Holy Qur’an 16:125)

If the eloquence of the Arabic Qur’an was enough Allah (swt) would not instruct people to use wisdom and sound arguments.

“We will show them Our signs in the horizions and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?” (Holy Qur’an 41:53)

Allah (swt) says that He (swt) will show us signs (miracles) in the far distance as well with in our own selves.  If the eloquence of the Arabic Qur’an was enough there would be no need for this.

In fact Allah (swt) says:

“And it is the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them-they will not believe.” (Holy Qur’an 36:10)

Here Allah (swt) tells us that no matter what (eloquence of the Arabic Qur’an, similitude, parables, reflection, arguments, miracles etc) that no matter what there are some people who simply won’t believe.

Conclusion:

“Or do they say, “He fabricated the (Message)”? Nay, they have no faith!Let them then produce a recital like unto it,- If (it be) they speak the truth!” (Holy Qur’an 52:33-34)

To me this challenge was for it’s time to the Arab people whom the Blessed Messenger (saw) addressed.

As regards anyone who met that challenge let me share my skepticism of the author and skepticism of his claims since he did not furnish not one example of this!

I am of the resolve that the people of Arabia were over whelmed by the power of the Qur’an in a way that we as Non-Arabs would not be able to appreciate.  I am of the the resolve that the proof of that is that the people of Arabia eventually embraced Islam.

“Additionally, ibn al-Rawandi mocked the theatrical spectacle of the angels that Allah sent down from Heaven during the battle of Badr to help the Prophet. He said,

“They had limited effect, little power, and despite their great number and the combination of them and the Muslims, they could not kill more than 70 people… And where were the angels during the battle of Uhud, when the prophet was skulking in fear amongst the slain? Why didn’t Allah help him in that situation by sending the angels?”80  (pg 51)

The author gives us another example of Ibn Al-Rawandi’s doubts.

The most important aspect of the battle of Badr is that it was the first battle for the Muslims and that they were victorious.  As far as divining the intentions of Allah (swt) as to the actual number that was killed that is hard to say.

It’s interesting that Ibn Al-Rawandi choose not to mock at a number of things.

For example why didn’t he ultimately consider Allah (swt) ineffectual when we find in the following:

“So the fact is that it was not you, but it was Allah Who killed them; and it was not you when you threw [sand at them] , but it was Allah Who threw it, (and the believers were employed for the task) that He might cause the believers to successfully pass through this test. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Holy Qur’an 8:17)

Why didn’t Ibn Al Rawandi ask the following:

Why bother to send people to fight at all?

Why not just send the angels to do the fighting?

Why the need to send a battalion of 1000, 3000, 5000 (who knows the final number)  angels? Why not just send 100 angels? Why not just send 50 angels? Why not just 1?

We are not told the fighting capabilities of a single angel, let alone more.

It assumes so much.

Why not simply have a sandstorm engulf the opposing army?

Why not simply have the opposing army die in their sleep before they come?

We could have come up with hundreds of different questions and scenarios trying to divine the intentions of Allah (swt).

As regards the angels actually fighting

“Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” (Holy Qur’an 8:12)

It is not clear from these verses if angels actually fought or not but what is clear from the above verse is that be it humans or angels ultimately it was Allah (swt) that was behind the victory.

As regards the other point of Ibn Al Rawandi

Why didn’t Allah help him in that situation by sending the angels?” 

1) There is nothing to say that Angels were not sent.

2) Even if they were sent why would we expect them to be such a factor seeing that according to Ibn Al Rawandi they only seemed to help slaughter 70 foes the last time?

3) Technically Muslims believe that various angels are with us at all times, through our our lives.

The real question is why didn’t Allah (swt) give the Blessed Messenger (saw) and the companions victory?

“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such (trial) as not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shake until even their messenger and those who believed with him said, “When is the help of Allah?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” (Holy Qur’an 2:214)

“Ibn al-Rawandi turns his attention to the divine challenge to bring the likes of the Qur’ān forth, saying: “If you want the likes of it in respect to superior speech, we can bring you a thousand like it from the speech of the masters of rhetoric, from the champions of eloquence and poetry, and it shall be more fluent in wording, and it will more concisely convey its meanings, and the words shall be more elegantly-rendered and expressed and more beautifully-rhymed. And if you are not content with that, then we demand from you the same that you demand from us!” (pg 52)

Again more bluster.  We hear all this about bringing something like the Qur’an and no evidence is forth coming from the author nor those he quotes.  Simply quoting someone claiming that they will do something is not proof that they did.  We are using reason after all?

““Even the Mu’tazilah, who reject all miracles (or at least attach no importance to them), still tend to believe in the miracle of the Qur’ān.86 But al-Nazzam, who was the most bold and freethinking of the Mu’tazilite theologians, rejected the miraculous nature of the Qur’ān in regard to its composition. He also rejected the miracles of our Prophet (peace be upon him), such as the splitting of the moon, the pebbles in his hand glorifying God, the gushing of water from his fingers. He then went from rejection of the miracles of our Prophet (peace be upon him), to the rejection of his prophethood.” (pg 52)

*note* These people that the author is talking about are still Muslims. They haven’t left Islam.  Also carefully read the text so that your eyes do not bewitch you.

I will post it again and read carefully.

“But al-Nazzam, who was the most bold and freethinking of the Mu’tazilite theologians, rejected the miraculous nature of the Qur’ān in regard to its composition.” (pg 52)

Also keep in mind when the author is mentioning anything from the past or the period of antiquity one must wonder. Where is he quoting his information from? Is he quoting from the advocates of a particular position or from opponents of theirs? If he is quoting from the advocates of a particular tradition did you know that we hardly have whole works of theirs!  Also if he is advocating from the opponent of a tradition you need to ponder how accurately ‘orthodoxy‘ portrays those they deem ‘heresy‘.  That is something dear reader you need to ponder well.

Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

“This attack on Islam was not restricted to the apostate Muslims. Non-Muslims also entered the ranks of the critics, galvanized by the fury of the fierce offensive being waged on the new religion. Perhaps the most famous of these (whose quotes have reached us) was the philosopher, Abd al-Masih ibn Ishaq al-Kindi (not to be confused with the well-known Muslim philosopher also called al-Kindi). He was a Nestorian Christian who reportedly lived in the courtyard of the Caliph, al-Ma’mun. This was due to al-Ma’mun’s openness towards those who differed from him in views and belief (al-Ma’mun was famous for gathering opposing sects and religions to hear them debate), helping him tolerate ferocious criticism directed by this Christian against the rituals of Islam and its beliefs, especially the rites of Hajj.” (pg 52)

This is an important point because this book ‘My Ordeal with the Qur’an and the Allah of the Qur’an‘ is most likely going to be circulated not among academic circles, but polemical circles directed against all things Islam and Muslim.   One of the polemics against Islam is that Islam is not a faith of tolerance and that we simply put to the sword any who dared to disagree with us.  Quotes like the one above squelch the notion that Muslims were not open to differences of opinion and did not have multiculturalism.

The author than goes on to talk about Al Razi but as I mentioned before you have to be very careful when quoting books of antiquity and whom they are attributed to.

A number of contradictory works and statements about religion have been ascribed to Razi. According to al-Biruni’s Bibliography of Razi (Risāla fī Fihrist Kutub al-Rāzī), Razi wrote two “heretical books”: “Fī al-Nubuwwāt (On Prophecies) and “Fī Ḥiyal al-Mutanabbīn (On the Tricks of False Prophets). According to Biruni, the first “was claimed to be against religions” and the second “was claimed as attacking the necessity of the prophets.” In hisRisala, Biruni further criticized and expressed caution about Razi’s religious views, noting an influence of Manichaeism. However, Biruni also listed some other works of Razi on religion, including Fi Wujub Da‘wat al-Nabi ‘Ala Man Nakara bi al-Nubuwwat (Obligation to Propagate the Teachings of the Prophet Against Those who Denied Prophecies) and Fi anna li al-Insan Khaliqan Mutqinan Hakiman (That Man has a Wise and Perfect Creator), listed under his works on the “divine sciences”. None of his works on religion are now extant in full.”

Sources: (Marenbon, John (14 June 2012). The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 69–70) & (Deuraseh, Nurdeng (2008). “Risalat Al-Biruni Fi Fihrist Kutub Al-Razi: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Works of Abu Bakr Al-Rāzī (d. 313 A.h/925) and Al-Birūni (d. 443/1051)”. Journal of Aqidah and Islamic Thought. 9: 51–100.)

Other views and quotes that are often ascribed to Razi are found in a book written by  Abu Hatim al-Razi, called Aʿlām al-nubuwwa (Signs of Prophecy), and not in any extant work of Razi himself. Abu Hatim was an Isma’ili  missionary who debated Razi, but whether he has faithfully recorded the views of Razi is disputed. According to Abdul Latif al-‘Abd, Islamic philosophy professor at Cairo University, Abu Hatim and his student, Hamid al-din Karmani d. after 411AH/1020CE), were Isma’ili extremists who often misrepresented the views of Razi in their works. This view is also corroborated by early historians like al-Shahrastani who noted “that such accusations should be doubted since they were made by Ismāʿīlīs, who had been severely attacked by Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā Rāzī”.Al-‘Abd points out that the views allegedly expressed by Razi contradict what is found in Razi’s own works, like the Spiritual Medicine (Fī al-ṭibb al-rūḥānī). Peter Adamson concurs that Abu Hatim may have “deliberately misdescribed” Razi’s position as a rejection of Islam and revealed religions. Instead, Razi was only arguing against the use of miracles to prove Muhammad’s prophecy, anthropomorphism, and the uncritical acceptance of taqlid vs naẓar. Adamson also points out to a work by Fakhr al-din Al-Razi where Razi is quoted as citing the Quran and the prophets to support his views.”

Sources: (Marenbon, John (14 June 2012). The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 69–70) & (Deuraseh, Nurdeng (2008). “Risalat Al-Biruni Fi Fihrist Kutub Al-Razi: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Works of Abu Bakr Al-Rāzī (d. 313 A.h/925) and Al-Birūni (d. 443/1051)”. Journal of Aqidah and Islamic Thought. 9: 51–100.)

Some times the author (or more approriately the translator) does not put paranthesis in appropriate places and we are left to wonder if these are indeed the reflections of Al-Razi, or the author.   Here is an example:

“The religions do not say the same things, and they contradict one another, despite the fact they claim to come from the same source, and all claim that they are free from defects and lies. But how can that be the case when they all contain absurdities and contradictions?” (pg 54)

It is hard to imagine that the author someone who attended Al Ahzar and supposedly was in the company of great teachers of Islam did not have an answer for some of these doubts?

1) The religions do not say the same things

2) they contradict one another,

3) despite the fact they claim to come from the same source

We are left wondering what kind of education they provided at Al Ahzar.  Than again perhaps it is not the teacher but the student (whom admittedly drops out at the third year).

page 55 is more diatribe against the Christian tradition and I will leave it to the Christians to address this. All in all if you read a book entitled ‘My Ordeal With the Qur’an and with the Allah of the Qur’an‘  you would expect it to be a reflection of ‘My’ ordeal.  Yet, it seems the author has been telling us what others have said.  Seems that a more appropriate title could have been chosen.

It is also obvious that many of the verses of the Qur’ān demonstrate anthropomorphism, and no-one can 98 deny that apart from the arrogant. An example is His saying (Mighty and Glorified is He): “The Compassionate One is firmly established on the Throne,”99 and, “And eight angels will carry the Throne of your Lord above them on that Day,”100and,“Those who carry the Throne and those around him…” So how can this make sense? How can it be sound and correct in light of the fact that God is completely and utterly free from all the attributes of the profane, as
made clear when He (Most High) said, “There is nothing whatever like unto Him.” (pg 55)

So once again emotional rhetoric.  We are not allowed to have a view point that differs from that of the author or else we are ‘arrogant’.

So let us deal with the ‘And eight angels will carry the Throne of your Lord above them on that Day‘ statement.

 

“As for the view that these verses require “Esoteric Interpretation” (Ta’wil) that suggests that the words have a hidden meaning, it was of no interest to al-Razi. He rejected it utterly, and paid no regard to Ta’wil, without taking it seriously at all. Ta’wil, in his opinion and the opinion of his like, was just interpolation and deceitful pretense—or, in my own expression, the “patching-up” with the intention of rescuing the text however one can by giving it an acceptable meaning. Al-Razi and his like approached religions as their texts plainly present them, and not as how the
faithful claim the texts are: wrapped up in supposed hidden meanings that defy human understanding.”  (pg 55)

So remember we are to approach religions as their text plainly present them. Good!

“He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves – and these are the essence of the divine writ – as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer – albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.” (Holy Qur’an 3:7)

What wasn’t our Al-Ahzar educated author aware of this principle in the Qur’an?

“And certainty We have repeated for making in this Qur’an, every kind of similitude, but the majority of mankind do not consent to nothing but denying.” (Holy Qur’an 17:89)

So coin not similitudes for Allah. Lo Allah knows; you know not.” (Holy Qur’an 16:74)

Allah swt can coin similitudes as He (swt) does in many verses – but we are not to engage in making analogies for His (swt) Essence.

 

“And eight will up-hold the Throne of their Lord that day, above them.”

The Arsh or Throne is a similitude for power and dominion.  Just as Muslims call the ‘Kabb’ah’ the  Baitullah or ‘the house of Allah’.   No Muslim believes that Allah (swt) has a house or lives there.

“Glory be to your Lord, the Lord of inaccessibility, above what they describe.” (Holy Qur’an 37: 180)

More to come -insh’Allah…

“They consider (it) a favor to you that they have accepted Islam. Say, “(Do) not consider a favor on me – your Islam. Nay, Allah has conferred a favor upon you that He has guided you to the faith, if you are truthful.” (Holy Qur’an 49:17)

 

 

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