Previously Asked Questions
`Aqidah (Islamic Beliefs) Questions:

You will find that most of your questions about this topic will be answered by reviewing the Explanatory Notes and Notes of Sources for Songs 2 and 3 of the Guiding Helper.

> What is the procedure for a muslim to give a
> non muslim their shahada to become muslim? can a
> female give a non muslim female her shahada? how many
> people should be present? what are the wajibs and sunnahs for this.

The wajib essentials for the shahadah are three:

   1) Muslim Witnesses
   2) The Person Who Wishes To Become Muslim
   3) The uttering of the shahadah by the above person in front of the witnesses

As for the Muslim witnesses they must be:  (1) Muslim, (2) Past Puberty, and
(3) Sane.  At least one male must be among the witnesses.  Thus the witnesses
may be:

         (1)  Two males
         (2) or Two females and a male

As for the person who wishes to become Muslim, he/she may be a discerning child
or an adult.  However, he or she must be not be under coercion (i.e. be forced to say it).

As for the uttering of the Shahadah by the new convert, it must be said in
Arabic with the words mentioned in footnote 188 of the Explanatory
Notes of the Guiding Helper.  It should be uttered so that all the witnesses
can hear it.

Those are all of the wajib essentials:

As for the less-stressed sunnahs, they are:

     1) To help the new Muslim utter the shahadah by telling him/her to repeat after
       one of the witnesses.  The witness who helps the new Muslim utter the
       shahadah can either be a male or a female.

    2) Explaining the meaning of the shahadah and briefly describing the
         other four pillars to the new Muslim *after* he/she states the declaration
         of faith.

As for the fadilahs, there are many among which are:

     1) Giving the new Muslim a warm welcome into the community.
     2) Tying the new Muslim to a brother/sister who will act as his/her
         "keeper"..  It is the responsibility of the "keeper" to act as
         the new Muslim's initial guide and it is his/her responsibility
         to offer moral support and lend an attentive ear to the new Muslim's
         concerns and questions.  The "keeper" must keep supporting the new
         Muslims until he/she has mastered the basics of the din and is now
         fully independent.  [This idea of a "keeper" was enacted by the Prophet
         (May Allah bless him and give him peace) when he paired up
         muhajirin (learned migrants from Makkah) with new ansar converts
        (from Madinah).]
    3) To record the shahadah event on paper and have all the parties involved
       date and sign the document.


References:
   Footnotes 188-192 of the Explanatory Notes and Associated Entries
   In the Notes of Sources.



> The logical arguments for the existance of Allah, included
> in the Guiding Helper commentary, are these based on
> Aristotilian logic? If so, does this mean that these are from
> post-Ghazali 'Ashari's (as you mention something like 'according
> the branch of Abu Bishr Ishaq's followers.')  Would al 'Ashari (or
> Maturidi) have employed these (as I was told that Imam 'Ashari
> was not comfortable with Aristotilean logic, since he felt it
> might be tied to Aristotle's metaphysics as well.)

All the logical arguments that we have mentioned can be found
in almost their exact form in the ancient (700 years ago to 1100
years ago) works of the Muslim Ash`ari scholars.

If you do not believe this, you can refer to the `aqidah book
of Imam al-Ghazali's Ihya' al-`Ulum al-Din from which we
have derived much of the material (but, be careful, many translators
skip this section entirely because one has to be very advanced in the
technical vocabulary of the mutakallimin to understand it or they
mistranslate it for the same reason).  For purposes of building confidence,
here is a short translated excerpt of Imam al-Ghazali's own writings about
this topic in his famous Ihya' al-`Ulum al-Din:

First Proof (Existence of Allah):
   "It is a natural impulse that the intellect dictates that no thing which
    has a beginning in time could be free of a preceding external cause
    to have brought it into existence.  And the universe has a beginning
    in time and thus must necessarily need an external cause to have
    brought it into existence.

   As for our statement that something which had a start in time must
   necessarily have a preceding external cause, it is obvious [that it is
   true].  This is because every thing that starts in time has a specific
   time [in which it becomes existent].  And rationally speaking, it is
   possible for it to have come into existence before the specific time
   it came into existence or after this specific time.  Thus, its occurrence
   being singled out for that specific time rather than a time before it
   or after it necessarily points to Someone that chose [this time of
    occurrence for it].

   As for our statement that the universe had a beginning in time, its
   proof is that the physical bodies of the universe must either be in
   motion or stillness.  And these two things [i.e. motion and stillness]
   are created in time.  And that [essence] which cannot be without
   [attributes] which begin in time must also have a beginning in time.
   But, in this above proof, we are making three claims:

   The first claim is that physical essences must either be in motion
   or in stillness.  And this is known [to humans] by second nature
   and necessarily.  This fact does not require multi-step thinking and
   thought.  So, whoever can imagine a physical body which is not
   moving or standing still [at the same time] is riding in ignorance and
   away from the way of the intellect.

   The second claim is that [the attributes of] motion and stillness have
   beginnings in time.  The proof for this is that one of these attributes
   follows the other in time - one at a time.  And this can be seen in all
   physical essences, the ones we can see and the ones we cannot see.
   So there is not a physical object in stillness except that the intellect
   accepts that it can be in motion instead.  And there is not a physical
   object in motion except that the intellect accepts that it can stand still.
   Thus, the attribute that came into existence [replacing the
   other one] has a beginning in time for the fact that we saw it come
   into existence.  And the previous replaced attribute has a beginning
   in time because its going out of existence has been seen.  This is
   because if the previous attribute never began in time, it could never
   end in time as we will explain later when giving the proof for the
   endlessness of the Creator High and Holy be He.

   The third claim is that if an essence is described by attributes that
   have beginnings in time, that essence must also have a beginning
   in time.  The proof for this is that if this were not true, every
   occurrence [of motion or stillness] would have an occurrence
   before it [which replaced it] without having any first ultimate
   primary state.  If that were true, than the number of occurrences
   up to our present time would be infinite...  And also the number
   of rotations/revolutions that a celestial body has completed [up to
   our time] has to be either odd or even.  This is because, [if
   the number of occurrences were infinite], they would be either
   both odd and even or neither odd nor even; but these are two
   mutually exclusive concepts [i.e. oddness and evenness] one of
   which must [always] be true [for any number].  ... And the
   upshot of this is since the universe is described by attributes
   that begin in time, it must also begin in time.  Now if we know
   that it had a beginning in time, then it is necessarily known that
   it must have had a Creator to have brought it into existence."

Imam al-Ghazali continues:

Second Proof: (Allah's beginninglessness)
   "The second fundamental principle is that Allah Most High never
    had a beginning in time.  He existed in pre-eternity without
    His existence ever having a start.  Rather, He is the first of
    everything else and before every dead and living being.

    The proof for this is that if He had a beginning in time, He would
    also need someone to bring Him into existence.  And His
    creator would also need someone to bring him into existence.
    And this would lead to an infinite regress.  And all infinite regresses
    never come up with anything.  Or if we say that this regress ended
    at an ultimate Creator, He then must have been the First One
    [we were looking for].  And this First One is Whom we were seeking
    and we could call Him the Creator of the universe...

References:
    [IU: volume 1:  page(s) 183-184: line(s) 5-23, 1-10:
    {ihya', qawa`id al-`aqa'id, section 3, beginning of
     explanation of ten fundamental principles of belief
     in Allah}]

Now, we will stop quoting al-Ghazali here for the purposes
of brevity.  But, it is clear from the above (regardless of whether
or not Imam al-Ghazali changed his school later), that the proofs
we have narrated conform to the methods of the early Muslim
mutakallimin.  Most of the proofs we have narrated can also be
found in the Sharh al-Sughra of Umm al-Barahin of the great
Ash`ari scholar Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Husayni.

Logic is logic.  And humans are humans.  Just because there is
a similarity between the ways of the Greek philosophers and
the ways of the early mutakallimin does not necessarily mean
that the early mutakallimin plagiarized their work as many
Orientalists have suggested (We should also remember that
they have suggested that our Law system is an adaptation of
Jewish Law (it is actually very similar for those who have
studied it) and our Spirituality is stolen from the cultures of
the East and West.)   These things may be similar and certain
practices may have been influenced, but we have our own
unique roots in the Qur'an, the Sunnah of the Prophet
(May Allah bless him and give him peace), and example
of the early pious Muslims.

And we could also ask, well:  "Where did the Greeks get
their logic from?"  The common answer from the Western
Intelligentsia may be:  "The Greeks were enlightened people
and they derived their logic by themselves through
constructive applied thought."

Then our question would be:  "What prevents  the early
Muslim scholars from doing the same thing by deriving
their material from the base rational arguments given
in the Qur'an?"  "Were they less qualified?  Or are we of
those that believe that no Arab camel shepherd could have
brought something so advanced and detailed?"

> Is it possible to know the Fard al 'ayn of Aqida without
> using logic? (I was told that At-Tahawi's creed only contains
> about 75% of the Fard al 'ayn knowledge, by an 'Ashari.)

We are narrating the opinion that it is not part of the Fard al-`Ayn
for the common man to learn `Aqidah using logic.  However, those
that have an aptitude for learning and understanding these proofs
are requested to do so.

References:
   Guiding Helper Explanatory Notes, footnote 84
   [QF: volume 1: page 20: line(s) 1-7: {book 0, chapter 10, issue 2}]


> I have heard Ibn Taymiyah's feelings about logic in Aqida,
> in that he felt that by the neccessity of logic, one could disprove
> Allah's existance. I find the arguments in Guiding Helper very
> persuasive, and very helpful (esp. the primary mover argument,) but I
> worry about that statement from Ibn Taymiya (whom I know is not to be
> taken from in matters of Aqida.)

You should know that logic has a form (syntax) and a meaning (semantic).
What perhaps Ibn Taymiyyah meant is that the argument can conform
100% to the form of logic while its conclusion is false.

This is a well-known fact and we have briefly mentioned three examples
of such arguments in the Guiding Helper Explanatory Notes: in footnote 113,
footnote 129, footnote 223 (middle). And here is another:

a) The moon is made of cheese.
b) Anywhere where there is cheese, mice are found.
c) We conclude that mice live on the moon.

What this means in a nutshell is that the truth of the conclusion rests
in the truth of the premises. If the premises are cleverly structured,
they may appear to the unassuming reader/listener that they are true while
upon further examination they turn out to be false.

We have studied this in detail and have found that the logical arguments
given by the mutakallimin are internally consistent, but there is one base
assumption that all of them rest upon. This base assumption is a certain
view of time (the view states that Allah creates/re-creates at successive
disparate instances one-after-another). If one does not accept this basic view of
successive time-bound events, then the logical arguments will not make
sense to one or help any in convincing one.

Now of course, one could go about the task of trying to prove that the
view of time expressed by the mutakallimin is the one that actually corresponds
to reality, but most people are not skilled enough to construct or interpret
such arguments.

So in the end, we would say that those that find fault with the logical arguments
(even if they be as qualified as Immanuel Kant) have done one of the following:

a) Failed to understand how the various arguments fit together. For example,
Imannuel Kant rejected the "primary mover" argument in his Critique of
Pure Reason because he claimed that the causes and effects we see are
within the same system whereas the primary mover is outside the system
and there is no direct link between the two. [As a side note, his claim has
been blindly accepted and propagated for over two centuries now by both
non-Muslim and contemporary Muslim Academics - up until the point that
any "qualified" Academic today "knows" that using logic to prove the
existence of a Supreme Being is an outdated and already "disproved" method)].
This shows their lack of understanding of how the primary mover argument
fits in with the argument of Allah's unity. As the conclusions of the
arguments for Allah's unity show that all causes and effects that we see
are *directly* produced by Allah. Otherwise, we would be assigning to the
apparent causes the power to create the effects - while it is known through the
arguments for Allah's unity in His actions that both the causes and effects
(even those we see today) are directly created by Allah.
b) Did not become extremely qualified in the science of Logic as conveyed
by the Muslim Logicians and summarized in `Abd al-Rahman al-Akhdari's
Sullam al-Munawraqi. - And Therefore were unable to understand and
interpret the arguments.
c) Were presented with non-detailed arguments (with missing premises) and
concluded that the premises do not follow a logical order.
d) Were presented with the arguments in a format that is very difficult to
understand and interpret -and have thus misinterpreted them.
e) Were presented the arguments by someone who made mistakes in his
arguments. In other words, they learned a wrong argument and then concluded
that proving Allah's existence through logic is impossible.
f) Have blindly accepted the post-Kant view that logic and faith do not fit
together - and they simply point to his lengthy arguments as a proof for their
belief expecting people to accept them.
g) Hold a view of time that does not correspond to reality nor to
empirical observation.  For example, they believe in circular time
(like some religions of the East).

There are other reasons also, such as arrogance (e.g., "Well, we Westerners
(or Western-style educated Muslims) are far more advanced than those backward
camel-drivers that wrote lengthy Arabic books.").

> I have the following question. It is a little bit hard to understand the
> proof in footnote 138 of the Explanatory Notes. Although, the statement
> in (c) sounds almost obvious, the proof makes it more ambiguous because
> the whole proof is based on the statement contained in (ii) [[[Moreover,
> it is obvious that the definite endpoint should be considered the origin
> while the side that goes towards infinity should be considered the direction
> of progression.]]] First, this is not very obvious because it implies that
> the "Origin state of everything is non-existence" which seem in contradiction
> with what is aimed to prove i.e. "things that existed forever". I wonder if
> there are other proofs more easy to understand than this one? or could you
> explain it more clearly?

First of all, you must understand that there are three views of time
conceivable (and combinations of these are also conceivable):

a) Forward flowing time
b) Backward flowing time
c) Circular time (a loop that keeps going)

The only people who will claim that something can end in the future
which has existed forever in the past are people who believe that time
can flow backwards.

This is because once you admit something has ended in time, you have
accepted that it is bound in time (unlike Allah).  And if you state that
something that ends in time has existed forever, that proves that you
believe in backward flowing time (as the proof you quote is meant to
illustrate with the words "origin" and "direction of progression").

Thus, the contradiction you raise comes from assuming that time can
flow backwards.

For people who believe such, we have prepared a detailed proof showing
that backward flowing time and circular time is impossible. You can refer
to this proof in the Previous Answers Section in the Beliefs page.

As a side note, you have found out the truth of the matter: "All of these
proofs depend on the view of unidirectional forward-flowing time." And
this is why you have found the crucial point in the proof that rests on this
assumption.

You can ask for further clarifications if still confused.

But, here is our summary on the Cosmological Proof:

a) Since time can only be understood (metaphorically) to be forward
progressing, this proves that all the events that have taken
place up to a particular point in time must be of a finite number
and cannot be infinite (as the past events are already done and
time does not flow backwards; so, these events cannot still be
taking place).
b) If the number of events that have taken place up to now is finite,
that proves that there must have been a "first" event (or multiple first
events).
c) As things can't be causes for themselves (in this unidirectional
forward-flowing time paradigm), this "first" event must have had
Someone to choose for it one of its two possible states of existence.
d) This Someone is Whom we call "Allah".

> Do you have any rational proofs for the view of time expressed
> by the mutakallimin?  You stated that their proofs are dependent
> upon a certain assumption about time.  My question is, how can we have
> confidence in these proofs if the very assumption that they
> are based upon cannot be proved?

As we mentioned before, most people are not qualified enough to
accurately construct nor interpret such proofs, but we will
simplify matters for you (avoiding high-level mathematical
concepts and advanced scientific principles) and try our best
to explain this to you knowing full-well that what we are trying
to do is simplify an issue which is beyond the grasp of the
common man or common scholar.

In this we follow Ibn al-Banna al-Sarqusti's style in his
al-Mabahith al-Asliyyah (which contains knowledge beyond the
grasp of the average scholar) and states:

   wa ha ana asharahu minhu l-ba`da
   bi qadri ma tafhamuhu fal tarda.

   And here we are intending to explain part of the subject
   To the extent that you can understand, so be satisfied with it

As if we go any further, we are likely to lose your understanding.

Start of proof:

Please note that this is only one of many proofs which can be constructed.

Definition of time:
===================

Although most people understand what space is (at least on 3
dimensions), most people only have vague ideas about what time is.

  Time is the measurement of the movement of a physical body with
  respect to a reference point.

or we can say:

  Time is the measurement of a fluctuation of a sensory phenomenon.

or we can say:

  Time is the measurement of a change between the states of something
  that is perceived.

We can come up with many similar statements, but the crux the matter is
the same in that it states:

   a) It is only through the movement of physical bodies relative to
      a reference point that we can understand the concept of time.
   b) All "time-keepers" ancient and modern work on this principle:
      (1) the hourglass uses the movement of sand grains, (2) the water
      clock, the movement of water, (3) the dial-clock, the movement of
      the gears that move the dials, (4) the solar clock, the rotation of
      the earth, (5) digital wristwatches, the movement of electrical
      impulses through wire, semiconductors, and crystals, (6) the most
      advanced clock (the cesium clock), the orbit of electrons around
      the cesium atom, (7) it has been also recently discovered that the
      human body has its own time-clock (which resembles an hourglass)
      whose flow changes every twenty-four hours, etc.
   c) Thus when the human experiences the phenomenon of time, his
      mind is actually just measuring the number of fluctuations (e.g.,
      ticks in his internal clock) of some sensory phenomenon.
   d) It is provable that the human mind/body is a discontinuous (this is
      a simple mathematical term which is opposed to continuous)
      instrument which calculates and recalculates its current state
      at a fixed interval.  [Those that are highly learned in
      both the fields of computer engineering and modern neurology
      will agree with this as the human mind sends electrical impulses
      to its neurons which after gaining enough information reconstructs /
      refreshes its present state similar to how a finite state machine, such
      as a computer works].  This is why if a phenomenon happens too quick,
      the mind will not perceive it.
   e) If the human mind is discontinuous, it cannot be easily proven that the
      physical world (which consists of space reconstructed through time)
      is continuous.  [As a side note, another proof that the world may
      not be continuous is the Uncertainty Principle in Physics which states
      that we cannot accurately describe both the location and time of
      a particle due the delays in receiving the information of its location
      at a particular time.]
   f) Rather, we would state that it is provable that the physical world
      (in both space and time) is not continuous (contrary to current and
      past popular belief).
   g) If we move a body from point A to point B (and there is one meter
      between point A and point B), we can count a great number of states
      of motion, but cannot count an infinite number of states of motion
      (again due to the delays in receiving the information about the
      body's movements).  Thus, we cannot prove that the body actually
      went through an infinite number of states.
   h) It has been proven in advanced Physics over the past 100 years that
      all matter is made up of distinct and finite building blocks.
      For example, a one foot iron rod is made up of a finite number
      of Fe atoms.  It is not valid to state any longer that one can
      divide up a one foot rod an infinite number of times. Now, of course,
      we can go further and count the protons, neutrons, and electrons in
      the one foot iron rod, but we will still end up with a finite number
      at a particular time.  Now, of course, we could go even further
      and count the quarks (e.g., the one's with up spin, down spin, etc.)
      in the iron rod, but again we in the end would end up with a finite
      number.  It may happen that we find even smaller particles in the
      future which make up the smallest known particle now; but again in
      the end we will end up with a finite number of particles no matter
      how deep we go in this nested scheme.
   i) Thus, we conclude that space which is made up of matter and matter-
      voids is discontinuous and not continuous (again contrary to
      past and present popular belief).  [Now, you may ask, I understand
      the proof for matter being discontinuous, but what is the proof
      that matter-voids must also be discontinuous like matter itself.
      We will mention a short proof in the following points.]
   j) The matter-void becomes the domain in which matter rests and we
      know that the space in matter-voids can only fit a finite number of
      pieces of matter. Therefore, we conclude that these voids must also be
      of finite dimensions (otherwise, they would be able to fit an infinite
      number of pieces of matter).
      When we move a body from point A to point B as is noted in section (g),
      the body successively comes closer to its destination.  For example,
      when at point A, the body is one meter away from point B.  If we move
      it move it midway between point A and point B, it is now half a meter
      away.  Therefore, we conclude that the matter void between point A
      and point B is divisible - as the distance remaining can be obtained
      by dividing the original distance by some factor (in this case '2').
   k) Anything that is finite in dimensions and is divisible (unlike the
      smallest particle known as the the "jawhar" in kalam terminology)
      cannot itself be continuous.
      A brief proof for this is that if we state that a divisible realm
      of finite dimension were continuous that translates into the claim
      that we could break it into an infinite number of pieces and that
      the sum of this infinite series would total its finite dimensions.
      But, if we divide any finite number by infinity, we will get zero.
      Thus, that would mean that each of the infinite number of pieces
      which make up the realm of finite dimension would be of zero
      size.  And if we sum these pieces of zero size, we will get zero
      whereas we already know that the finite dimension of the matter-void
      is greater than zero.  And this leads to a contradiction which
      forces us to reject the proposition that a divisible realm of
      finite dimension could actually be continuous.
   l) Now returning to our example about moving a body from
      point A to point B, it is obvious from our above discussion in
      letters (i) through (k), that the body can only have a finite number
      of movement states between point A and point B since the matter-void
      through which the body moves is discontinuous.
   m) Now returning to our definition of time, if the number of states
      of a moving body from point A to point B is always finite, it cannot
      proven that time itself is continuous as time is only measurable by
      the movement/fluctuation of finite sensory phenomena.
   n) Rather, we would state that it is provable that time is discontinuous
      (again contradictory to past and present popular belief).  Time here
      is analogous to the matter-void in proof (k) and the events which
      take place at a particular instance in time are analogous to the
      contained matter in proof (i).  If time were continuous, then that
      would force us to claim that we could divide a fixed time interval an
      infinite number of times.  But again, each time piece would be of
      zero length and all of them together would sum to zero.  But, we know
      from (l) above that since a body moving from point A to point B requires
      a fixed time interval to be at each location between the two points, time
      intervals are of sizes greater than zero.
      And again this would lead to a contradiction forcing us to reject
      the proposition that time could actually be continuous.
   o) Next, we would state that it is provable that time (as conceived by
      ancient and modern man) does not in actuality exist.  And what it really
      is - is an imaginative metaphor created in the human mind to explain the
      differences in states which the human being experiences at disparate
      intervals.  And the only metaphor of time which conforms to reality (as
      summarized above) is that of linear (non-circular but not necessarily
      non-multidimensional (e.g., time may branch out like a tree))
      forward-progressing time.
   p) Now we will go about proving the statements in letter (o).:
        i) The human being can only experience one physical state
           at a time (please note that when we say human, here, we
           mean all conscious beings/things bound in time).
       ii) It is only because of the human's memory that he can
           experience the concept of the past.  This is because if the
           human did not have a memory, then he would only know the
           state which he is experiencing currently.  Thus, in such a
           case, he would be unable to see things as progressing from
           his previous experiences to his current experiences.
      iii) It is only because of the human's imaginative faculties
           that he can experience the concept of future.  This is
           because if the human did not have the ability to imagine
           other than what he currently sees at present, he would
           be unable to expect another state in the future.
       iv) If the concepts of past and future rest on the human's
           memory and imaginative faculties (which are internal
           to him), then it cannot be proven that time as conceived
           by the common man actually exists.  Rather, we say that
           it is provable that time (which is considered by the common
           man to be a smoothly flowing domain in which events take
           place) in actuality does not exist.
        v) As for the fact that the time is smooth and continuous,
           we have already disproved that in (n) above and concluded that
           time must be discontinuous. But, what prevents time from being
           a discontinuous flowing domain for events to take place in?
       vi) If we state that time is a freely flowing domain, that would
           force us to claim that time can exist without events to hold;
           otherwise, it would not be freely flowing but be tied to disparate
           events (as explained above).
           If we propose that time can exist without events to hold,
           then we would state that it cannot be flowing, but must be
           stable.
           The reason for this is that if time were independently flowing,
           it would mean time itself could experience change (as it will
           keep adding discontinuous time intervals to its length as its
           flow continues).  And anything that can experience change needs
           another "time-like" dimension to quantify its change.  We will call
           this other proposed "time-like" dimension of time "time-2".  Now the
           same thing would apply to "time-2" in that it could either be tied
           to time or be an independent flowing domain which holds time.  And
           the same argument about the flow of time-2 would apply in that
           if it could exist and flow independently, then it itself would
           need a time-like dimension to quantify it.
           If we propose that time-2 is not an independent flowing domain which
           holds time, but is tied to time, then that proves that time itself could
           not have a directional flow (as it has no independent quantifiable
           domain in which its directional flow can be measured (this is also
           because time-1 and time-2 are similar in their characteristics
           and purpose; thus, saying that they are fixed/tied to each other
           is the same as saying that only time-1 exists; but if an independent
           time-2 does not exist, then time-1 cannot experience flow/change)).
           However, if we propose that time-2 is an independent domain which can
           experience flow, then we would need yet another time-like dimension
           which we will call time-3 to quantify time-2's change.  And thus, we
           could continue on like this forever.  If we propose at any iteration
           that time-x is not an independent flowing domain, then that will mean
           in sum total that time-1 could not experience change or flow
           (as each level will keep collapsing until we reach the original
            time-1).
           And if we keep stating at each iteration that time-x is an
           independent flowing domain, we will end up with an infinite
           series which never ends.  This would mean that the sum of the
           discontinuous time intervals of each time line at each level
           at any particular time (in accordance to the measurement
           of time-1) would neither be odd nor even (as the infinite series
           of time lines would lead to an infinite number of discontinuous
           time intervals).  However, we know from the laws of mathematics
           and counting that all discontinuous phenomena must add up to
           either an odd or even number at a fixed point in time.  Thus,
           we conclude that such an infinite series of time-lines is
           impossible and at least one time line at some iteration must not
           be independent and flowing.  But as we stated before, as soon as
           we conclude that a higher iteration time-line is not independent
           and flowing, this will cause all of the levels below to collapse
           until we reach time-1 forcing us to accept that time-1 cannot
           experience change and thus cannot have a directional flow.
       vii) Thus if time does not consist of an independent flow, it is
            useless arguing about the direction of its progress (either forward,
            backward, or both forward and backward simultaneously).  Rather,
            the concept of flow can only be understood as a metaphor for the
            human's previous memories and future imaginative expectations.  And
            this metaphor can only lead one to consider time to be linear and
            forward-progressing as one frame is shown to the human at a time
            which his memory recalls.
            And this proves that the view of time expressed by the mutakallimin
            is the only view acceptable after examining this issue in detail.
            And those that hold the possibility of backward flowing or circular
            time have made the mistake of considering time an independently
            flowing domain in which events can take place or not take place.

Now we don't expect most readers of our texts to understand the above
proof due to their lacking a strong background in the issues being
discussed.  But, the few who do will realize the shocking revelations
and detrimental consequences for kufr (i.e. atheism, polytheism,
agnosticism, etc.) which result from accepting the three conclusions
stated above, namely:

    a) Space is discontinuous
    b) Time is discontinuous
    c) Time, in reality, has no directional flow (but one can metaphorically
       understand time to be linear and forward-progressing by using human
       experience as a base for building this metaphor).

Some of these detrimental consequences for kufr (disbelief) are:

   a) Striking a fatal blow to random causality (e.g., as expressed by the
      Evolutionists and Naturalists) as each disparate space-time frame
      has no direct link between the previous frame and the next frame
      shown to us.
   b) Taking the argument of "things happen by themselves" away from
      the atheists as there is no independent flowing domain in which these
      things may occur by themselves.  Rather, the argument points to
      the fact that there must be a "Master of Creation" working behind the
      scenes and His "super-smooth" and "super-fast" discontinuality leads
      the simple-minded into believing in continuality and considering
      things as independently existent.
   c) Inducing the last death-yells (screams before death) of those who
      oppose the rational arguments for the Existence of a Supreme Being
      by taking away the possibility of backward-flowing or circular time
      (this strikes a direct hit against their claim that matter is
       eternally pre-existent).
   d) Introducing a more comprehensive and direct proof for the existence
      of a "Master of Sensory Phenomena" which goes beyond the three proofs
      which Immanuel Kant claimed were the only three possible (Ontological
      (Necessity of Existence Proof), Cosmological (Primary Mover Proof),
      and Psycho-theological (Design Proof)).
   e) Apprising the learned that the physical universe is nothing
      more than a large multi-dimensional "TV" screen in which
      sensory phenomenon are "updated" at disparate intervals.
   f) Causing the ground under the anthropomorphist and polytheist
      to open up and sway as part of the conclusion of the above argument
      is that all sensory phenomena have no independent existence
      and if the "Master of Creation" willed they would be snuffed
      out in the next frame without any external cause at all.  And
      a god whose existence can be snuffed out in a single frame is
      no god at all.
   g) etc.

Thus after examining the above, the erudite would conclude that the atheists,
agnostics, polytheists, etc. are but infants of intellect who do not understand
the reality of affairs - and these poor souls may end up quite miserable in the
next life to add insult to injury.

> Can you explain further the logical principle "all discontinuous phenomena
> must add up to either an odd or even number at a fixed point in time" - since
> it seems that the Muslim theologians base many of their arguments on this
> principle?

This logical principle is proven as follows:

   a) When we state "all discontinuous phenomena must add up to either an odd or
      even number at a fixed point in time", we mean that all the instances
      of such phenomena (if added together) would equal a finite number and
      would not be infinite again *at a particular instance in time*.
   b) If we state that a discontinuous phenomenon is infinite in number,
      that would force us to claim that it is constantly increasing (otherwise
      it would be finite).  But since we have stopped the stopwatch (so to
      speak) by saying "at a particular instance in time", there is no dimension
      left to measure the change of this constantly increasing phenomenon.
   c) Thus, at a particular instance in time, the sum of the discontinuous
      phenomenon under discussion must be stable and equal a finite number.
      And all finite numbers are either odd or even.
      [Now of course one could complicate the argument by proposing that
       two or more time-like dimensions exist, one which we stopped and the
       other which keeps going; but, this is impossible since the two
       time-like dimensions would be identical in their characteristics and
       in their measuring the same phenomenon; thus, saying there are two
       that oppose each other would lead to a contradiction concerning one
       and the same discontinuous phenomenon.]

> What is a priori knowledge?  And what role does it play
> in the logical arguments given by the Muslim theologians?

"A priori" knowledge is what the ancient kalam scholars referred
to as "awwaliyaat".  And Awwaliyaat are one of the six possible
sources for a premise of a logical argument whose conclusion is
said to be rationally necessary.

You can refer to footnote 26 of the *Notes of Sources* for more
details about this topic given with references.

Now returning to your question, there are two major awwaliyaat
principles - both of which are mathematical.  And principles
that are said to be "a priori" return to one of these two:

   a) The principle of mathematical order (in that some
      discrete numbers are larger than other numbers).
   b) The principle of mathematical addition (in that discrete
      numbers can be added together to get a definite sum).

The reason why "a priori" principles can be reduced to these
two is that all "a priori" principles can be reduced to mathematical
concepts and all mathematical concepts are based upon the above two
principles.

Some brief examples are:

   i) The number 2 is greater than the number 1.  (This is
      derived immediately from principle (a) above.)

  ii) 2 + 2 = 4.  (This is derived immediately from principle
      (b) above).

 iii) (2 x 3) is greater than (2 + 3).  (This is derived
      immediately from (a) and reflectively from (b).
      Multiplication is a reflective form of addition in
      which a fixed number is added a specific number of
      times to get an aggregate sum.
      As a side note, subtraction is the same as addition
      but between numbers of different sign (e.g., a positive
      number added to a negative number is the same as subtracting
      the absolute value of the negative number from the
      positive number).  Similarly division is just multiplication
      involving fractions (or non-whole numbers).  And all
      mathematics (even Advanced Calculus and Differential
      Equations) returns to these four functions:  (1) addition,
      (2) subtraction, (3) multiplication, and (4) division.
      And as we just explained, the latter three principles
      are the same as addition (but with some extra
      stipulations).

  iv) Two physical bodies cannot simultaneously occupy the
      space of one of the bodies without somehow overlap-merging
      with each other.  (This is derived reflectively from both
      (a) and (b) above.  This is because each physical body will
      have a volume and the space it occupies will have a volume.
      (As a side note, the concept of volume is derived from (b)
       above in that it is a multiplication of the three
       dimensions of a physical body.)
      The volume of the first body will be greater than zero and
      the volume of the second body will also be greater than
      zero.  The sum of the volumes of the two bodies will be
      greater than either of the volumes of each body.  Thus,
      the volume they occupy will be greater than the space
      which either one takes up.  Therefore, we conclude that
      they cannot both at the same time occupy the space
      required by one of the bodies.

  v) The concept of sets and elements of a set can be
     established reflectively from these above two
     principles by visually depicting the sets as
     Venn (circle) diagrams and using geometry, which
     is derived directly from (a) and (b).  Thus, the
     concepts of union, intersection, mutual exclusives,
     etc. can be verified this way.

And it should be obvious that the above two base principles
can be verified via sensory perception.  Thus, our reality
returns to the sensory images which we are presented.
These sensory images are known as "mahsusaat" according to
ancient kalam terminology.  Now, we cannot verify (using
logic alone without empirical scientific evidence) whether
these "a priori" principles are inborn (internally
present) or are acquired via external sensory phenomena.
We, as Muslims, believe that Allah created the mind originally
giving it the necessary "a priori" principles to derive
logical conclusions.  And it is only through adulteration
of this natural mental logical process that a human being
can justify disbelief in Allah.  Nevertheless, in either
case, "a priori" principles can be derived using the two
base principles (a) and (b) given above.

[As for external cause and effect (the law of links mentioned in
Song 1), it is not derived from the "a priori" principles; but,
it is from mahsusaat & mujarrabaat (sensory & empirical experience)
sometimes along with hadasiyaat (induction) as should be obvious to
those who have reviewed footnote 26 of the *Notes of Sources of the
Main Text*.]


> What is the traditional `Ash`ari view on the classical philosophical
> debate of "freewill vs. predetermination"?  How do the `Ash`ari scholars
> resolve the apparent contradiction between man being responsible for his
> actions and God pre-determining and choosing these actions for him?

We have addressed this issue in footnote 112 of the *Notes of Sources*
for the Bare Main Text of the Guiding Helper.

The material contained in that footnote further expounds and summarizes the
statements of many scholars such as Ibn `Ashir (Sharh Tahwid Ibn `Ashir),
Imam al-Laqqani (Sharh Jawharah al-Tawhid), Imam al-Sunusi (Sharh Umm al-Barahin),
Imam al-Nasafi (Sharh `Aqidah al-Nasafi), Imam al-Ghazali (Ihya' `Ulum al-Din, end
of chapter on Tawakkul and Tawhid), etc. about this subject.

In summary, we can resolve the contradiction as follows:

  a) Firstly, we state that the common man's and common scholar's
     understanding of freewill and predestination is deficient.
  b) Freewill does not mean "freedom to do anything".  Rather,
     it means " *experiencing* the ability to choose one of a
     finite number of options presented to one by Allah".
  c) Predestination is not only single-dimensional and linear.
     (This is something that the common man/scholar has much
     trouble understanding and this in reality is why he believes
     a contradiction exists).  Rather, it is part of destiny that
     Allah destines a person to be presented with a finite number
     of choices with which he can *experience* the ability to choose.

From the above, we see that being presented with a finite number
of choices is something that Allah destines and it enters into
the destiny spoken about in the primary texts.

We have studied this in detail and found that many of the
contemporary/ancient people who have attempted unaided answers
to this question really make the base misjudgment that destiny
is single-dimensional and linear.  They do this because the
normal human mind thinks in a single-dimensional and linear
way.  And Allah does not (in reality) engage in such time-bound
linear thinking and High Above is He from resembling His creation.

Then after resolving that, then the question arises "Can man will
to do something which Allah does not will to happen?"  And the
answer is "Yes.  Man can will something which Allah does not
will to create.  And this is obvious to most people who live in this
world in which Allah does not always create for them what they desire
(unlike in Paradise)."

Then after resolving that, then the question arises "Are
man's choices infinite?"
And the answer is "No.  Man can only choose one of a specific
number of choices that are presented to him as determined by
Allah's destiny.  And this is one meaning of the Qur'anic verse
in Surah al-Takwir 'Wa ma tasha'una illa an yaha'a l-lah'
'and you do not will except if Allah wills'."

Then after resolving that, then the final question arises "Who
actually determines the actual choice which the human makes?"
And the answer to this would depend on one's perspective of
ontology.  If one is talking on the level of Shari`ah (which
is called disparate ontology (farq)), then the determination
and responsibility (kasb) is given to the human as the determination
and responsibility is actually *experienced* by him (and this is
why he can be punished for his misdeeds and rewarded for his good
deeds).  And if one is talking on the level of Haqiqah (which
is called unified ontology (jam`)), then it is assumed on this
level that the human does not in actuality exist and as such it
is useless debating who is given the responsibility for the
determination.

And then after resolving this last question, there are no open
ends left in this issue which we have learned from the chain
of teachers back to the Last Messenger (May Allah bless him
and give him peace) who was the first human to understand this
perfectly well as fortold by `Isa (quote: Gospel of Barnabus).

> Can you give a refutation of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus's
> (341-270 B.C.) view of the contradiction between the presence of
> evil and the presence of God?  For example, some quote him to have
> said:
>
> Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; Or He can, but
> does not want to; Or He cannot and does not want to. If He wants
> to, but cannot, he is impotent.  If He can, but does not want to,
> He is wicked.  But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil,
> then how come evil is in the world?
>
> The reason I ask is that this argument is used by many atheists to
> justify their disbelief in Allah.

First of all, we would like to say that we are not very knowledgeable
in the names of ancient Greek Philosophers or in knowing their teachings
in entirety.

For this reason, we would not like to defame and refute this paticular
person since we have not studied him in detail.

Thus, we would leave his case to Allah and leave it for Him to refute
or humiliate this particular person on yam al-qiyamah if in fact this
person died with such incorrect beliefs and writings.

But, your question strikes at a very critical misunderstanding about
the definition of a Supreme Being.

We define a Supreme Being as follows:

   a) The being has an entity that has always existed, that is formless,
      timeless, infinite, totally independent, and strikingly different
      from everything else we know.
   b) The being has attributes which issue from his entity which tell us
      about his perfection and superiority over us, such as power, knowledge,
      self-determined volition, and eternal life.
   c) The being has the ability to create contingent things or
      bring them out of existence according to His own volition without
      needing any one else.

Now, you will note above that our definition of a Supreme Being does
not state that He must be benevolent to everyone in this world or
in the next world.

Rather, the `Ash`ari and Maturidi scholars state that He does *not*
have to act according to the best wishes of His creation - or
according to what benefits them the most - or to act in a way that
increases their pleasure and reduces their pain.  Ibrahim al-Laqqani
says about this in al-Jawharah al-Tawhid (verse(s) 51-52):

    wa qawluhum inna s-salaha wajibu
    `alayhi zurun ma `alayhi wajibu

    alam yaraw 'ilamahu l-atfala
    wa shibhaha fa hadhiri l-mihala (also read l-muhala and l-mahala)

    And their statement that He must do good [and not create pain]
    Is a blatant lie against Him.  No.  Such is not necessary for Him.

    Didn't they see Him giving pain to small [cute little] children
    And similar acts [before issuing such a statement]?  So, beware of His punishment!
    [Lest He give *you* pain for believing such and misleading others.]

Thus, from this we see that our perception of Allah corresponds
to reality in that He creates *both* pleasure and pain and gives
pleasure to a selective group and pain to a selective group
according to His wisdom (hikmah), justice (`adl), and mercy (rahmah).

And these groups are of four types:

   a) A group He gives pleasure to in this world whom He will give
      pain to in the next world (these are the arrogant disbelievers
      and hypocrites as is mentioned in many places in the Qur'an).
   b) A group He gives pain to in this world whom He will give
      pleasure to in the next world (and this group mostly consists
      of three types of people:
               i) The "weak" and "stupid" believers who if left to
                  themselves would work towards their own ruin
                  concerning the next life.  Thus, giving them pain
                  here is an act of mercy (rahmah).
               ii) Those spiritually-advanced who themselves
                   prefer pain in this world over pleasure as one
                   instance of pain in this world translates into
                   many-fold greater gifts of pleasure in the next
                   world as is mentioned in many hadith).
              iii) Those who are not responsible for their actions,
                   such as children and animals.  These, He will
                   give pleasure to in the next world (either on yawm
                   al-qiyamah (this is for animals who will not enter
                   Paradise, but will be resurrected like humans and
                   then turned to dust as has come in tafsir of ayah
                   81:5 of the Qur'an) or in Paradise (this is for
                   children, those who are not fully conscious, and mentally
                   retarded people, who will all enter Paradise as
                   is stated in footnotes 71 and 73 of the Guiding
                   Helper)).
      Thus, pain in such a case is just a guise designed to trick the
      simple-minded into believing that it is undesirable, whereas it
      is very desirable and worth more than all the valuables in this world.
      With this fact in mind, one should look at the great painful
      trials that Allah is sending to the "weak" believers who
      make up 99.98% of the ummah today (who if it were not for these
      trials would probably never turn to Allah or would choose a
      lifestyle which leads to Hell)).
   c) A group He gives pain to in this world whom He will give pain to
      *again* in the next world (these include the rampantly disobedient
      believers (those who do not repent, ask for forgiveness, nor feel
      sorry for what they are involved in) and teeter-totter "good weather
      friends" of faith who later turn away from guidance after having
      received it (perhaps to go towards a worldly gain or due to being
      upset for losing a worldly gain - and the Qur'an says about the
      latter "khasira d-dunya wa l-akhirah.  dhalika huwa l-khusranu l-mubin"
      "They have lost both in this world and the next.  That is the
       most clear of failures." [al-Qur'an 22:11]).
   d)  Lastly, there is a group of people whom He gives pleasure to in
       this world and pleasure to *again* in the next world (and they
       are the humble believers and cheerful `arifin (the latter of whom
       unlike the "spiritually advanced" mentioned above in b.ii realize
       that pain and pleasure are arbitrary and have found more effective
       and constructive ways to come closer to Allah than becoming the
       domain for His painful hard trials and tests - as such often get
       in the way of their daily awrad/tasks and puts them in a situation
       of dependence on other people).  But, both the humble believers and
       the cheerful `arifin are free of egotistical claims (e.g., "I am
       a good person." Or "I am a wali (friend) of Allah" (unlike those
       mentioned in b.i and b.ii) and are constantly in tawbah (repentance)
       and istighfar (asking for forgiveness).  From this, you see the falsity
       of many "spiritually advanced" Muslims (who call themselves Sufis
       or conversely Salafis/Ikhwaan) who extol themselves and their shuyukh
       to a level unbecoming of a humble human being (except it's o.k. to
       extol oneself or one's shuyukh as an instructive tool to set examples
       for students).  And this explains why many "spiritually advanced"
       believers from the early centuries of Islam to today have had such a
       terrible life in this world - as they never got rid of the "I" in their
       talk and thinking - something Allah made them pay for in this world
       with pain while still guaranteeing them Paradise in the next world.
       All this is hinted at in disparate places in the Qur'an
       (e.g., [8:33] and [16:97]).
       But, even this fourth group sometimes experiences pain and troubles in
       this world (although to a much lesser extent than groups (b) and
       (c)) as the world by its very nature is imperfect and full
       of pain and troubles unlike Paradise).

Thus, you see that there is a pattern that Allah follows in
giving pain or pleasure in this world and the next.  However, He is
not rationally obliged to follow this pattern as footnote 130
of the Explanatory Notes states.

Reference(s):
  Sharh Jawharah al-Tahwid for lines 51-52 by Ibrahim al-Bayjuru
  [As a side note, this is an outstanding book (if one can manage
   to read around the extensive "grammar talk") as we see here
   the foremost authority on `Ash`ari `aqidah in his time (i.e.
   Laqqani) is being commented on by the foremost authority of
   `aqidah (about 200 years later) Ibrahim al-Bayjuri.]

> I have had a hard time understanding the line in the original murshid
> concerning the joining of equivalence and preponderance.
>
> transated it reads:
>
> If the cosmos happened by itself
> then equivalence and preponderance meet equally.


The line you are referring to is line 22 of the text:

   law hadathat binafsiha l-akwanu
   lajtama`a t-tasawi wa r-rujhanu

The meaning of this line is:

   If created form ("cosmos" as you put it) happened by itself,
   the (two-sided scale) would fall to one side and also be in
   equality at the same time (and that is impossible (wa dha muhal)).

Ibn `Ashir is using the idea of an ancient scale/balance with
two hanging trays.  If one puts weight on one side, that
side goes down (this side that falls down is said to be in
"rujhan" or preponderance).  If one does not have any weight
on either side of the balance/scale, both trays hang in the middle
without any preponderance (this is called "tasawi" or equal-ness).

What Ibn `Ashir is saying is, by default, the trays are equal.
It is only when one puts weight one of the trays that the scale
shows rujhan (or going down to one side).

The two trays here signify existence and non-existence of an
thing/event/phenomena.  One tray signifies existence while
the other tray signifies non-existence.

Now here is a break down of the symbolism in this metaphor:

 The placement of a weight on one side of the scale is
 the external cause (that someone chose) that causes the
 existence or non-existence of a thing/event/phenomenon.

 Now when we say that an thing/event/phenomenon exists or
 doesn't exist, we are saying that the scale was in rujhan
 (preponderance) towards one of its sides.

 The existence of the cosmos has a similar scale setup for
 it.

 If we say that the cosmos happened by itself, we are saying
 that there was no external cause for its creation.  Thus,
 the scale here would not have any weight on it.  Thus, the
 two trays would hang in equality in the middle.

 But, we see that the cosmos does in fact exist.  Thus, we
 conclude the scale must have been in rujhan towards one
 of the sides since that signifies existence.  But, this
 leads to a contradiction:  the scale would both be in
 equality and preponderance at the same time.  This is
 ijtima` al-tasawi wa al-rujhan which is impossible.

[Other scholars have said that preponderance on both sides
of the scale signifies existence and the fact that it does
not have any weight on it and is in equality signifies
non-existence.  With the view of these scholars, the
argument is even more powerful as we are saying that by
default, things are non-existent and they only come into
existence through a cause/weight placed on the scale of
creation.]


References:
  al-Durr al-Thamin by Muhammad ibn Ahmad Mayyarah al-Maliki,
  explanation of verses 21-23.


>The guiding helper doesn't exactly include this line, but
> can you explain to me what it means with examples to make it more
> understandable.

When we found that the literal translation would lead to confusion,
we instead stated the meaning of the verse in our own words.

The meaning of the verse you are referring to is in lines 53-54
of the Guiding Helper:

   The world couldn't have happened by itself 'cause from laws
   We know every effect has a preceding cause.

> The first one is that I have noticed in some of Moroccan ulama
> who are Malikis, who even teach Sidi Khalil, etc, that they have a
> curious position as far as the aqida of Ibn Taimiyya. I have noticed
> the same attitude in some Azhari ulama. They consider the
> Ashari-Maturidi way of interpreting as-Sifat and the way of
> Ibn Taimiyya as acceptable both of them. As far as I know from
> different sources Ibn Taimiyya commited anthropomorphism. But
> this ulama consider that both positions are acceptable.

First we would like to say that fi l-haqiqah the correct answer
to this is that Allah is not like anything else and He has no co-sharer
in his dhaat, sifaat, nor af`aal. His Entity (Dhaat) is timeless, endless,
and formless. His attributes are beginningless and endless and He
does not undergo change.

laysa ka mithlihi shay' wahuwa s-sami`u l-basir.
qul huwallahu ahad allahu s-samad.
wallahu khalqakum wa ma ta`malun
kana allahu wa la sha'a ghuruh (wa huwa l-ana `ala ma `alayhi kan)

So if anyone is confused about this matter, let him know that the
true answer is what we have said above. And this above answer
is the answer given by 100% of the `arifin from the time of Prophet
(May Allah bless him and give him peace) up until our time.
It is only those who are not `arifin (and are ignorant of Allah) that can
imagine that Allah is like something else.

Now returning to your question about the valid views on this subject.
We would say that it can proven that authentic traditional `ulama' with
connected chains to the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him
peace) have held three views on this subject.

a) Allah is like nothing else and we refrain from further descriptions
about Him and we refrain from giving metaphorical interpretations
to words in the primary texts about Him. Rather we accept the
words in the primary texts as true and say that Allah knows best
what He meant. wa r-rasikhun fi l-`ilmi yaquluna 'amanna bihi
kullun min `indi rabbina.
b) Allah is like nothing else but in order to avoid anthropomorphism
we give metaphorical (majazi) interpretations to words in the primary
texts whose literal interpretation would force us to claim that Allah
had a body, could be present in a location, or was bound by time.
c) Allah is like nothing else but we see that the primary texts themselves
say that Allah has a hand, foot, face, can be present in a location,
or acts through time. Because we are commanded to believe in the
primary texts, we say that Allah has these characteristics but not
necessarily in the way that humans have these things.

Anything beyond (c) above is clear association (shirk) with Allah as agreed
upon by our scholars.

References:
Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi writes:

"Words have come in the Qur'an and Hadith whose literal interpretation
makes Allah seem like His creation -- such as "`ala l-`Arshi s-tawa"
and "yadahu mabsutatan" and like the hadith which speaks of "nuzulu
l-lahi kulla laylatin ila sama'i d-dunya", and other things like this.

So the scholars of our din are divided in three groups concerning this.

The first group is the early pious Muslims (al-salaf al-salih) among the
sahaba and the tabi`in and the Great Imams of the Muslims. They believe
in the words in the primary texts but do not search for details meanings
or interpretations of these words. And they look in disdain upon people
who try to search for the meanings of these words. ... And this is the
view of Imam Malik, Imam al-Shafi`i and most of the Hadith scholars.

The second group includes [some later scholars] who have understood
the words in the primary texts about such subjects as being *literal*.
So, these people have claimed that Allah has a body (lizamahum al-
tajsim). And this is the view of [a group of] the Hanbali scholars
and some Hadith scholars also.

The third group includes [some later scholars] who have given
metaphorical interpretations [ta'wil] to avoid literal interpretations
of such words. And these people have used the rational proofs of
`Aqidah as a basis for their metaphorical interpretations. And this
group includes most of the mutakallimin.

[QF: volume 1: page 13: line(s) 16-26:
{book 0, chapter 5 (tanzihu l-lah), tanbih}


> What are the agreed upon acts that make a person misguided (exit
> the sphere of Islam)?

According to Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi (the person given the most credit for
summarizing the various views in the Maliki school and also outside of
the Maliki school), the acts are:

   a) Negating that Allah has Lordship over His creation.
   b) Negating that Allah is one in His Entity, attributes, and actions.
   c) Worshiping another entity along with Allah (shirk).
   d) Changing one's religion to other than Islam after having learned
       about Islam and understanding it.  (Allah has said that "Whoever
       seeks other than Islam as a din, it will not be accepted from him").
   e) Claiming that Allah can become manifest in His creation (e.g.,
        take the form of a man).
   f) Believing in reincarnation.
   g) Negating any one of His known attributes (e.g., the 41 attributes
        mentioned in Song 2 of the Guiding Helper).  Included in this
        is claiming that the Universe was created by other than Him or
        that He was born from something else.  Included in this also
        is claiming that the Universe had no beginning in time.
   h) Claiming that one has sat alongside with Allah literally speaking
       or claiming that one has ascended to visit Him literally speaking.
   i) Claiming that a person after the time of Prophet Muhammad ibn
       `Abdullah is a real prophet from Allah (and that Prophet Muhammad
       is not the last prophet).  Included in this is claiming that one has
       received revelation from Allah (like a prophet)
   k) Stating that it is possible that the prophets lied to us (or did not
       have the other qualities mentioned in Song 2 of the Guiding Helper).
   l) Claiming that the message of Islam is only for Arabs (or only for
       another select group).
   m) Claiming that one will enter Paradise (literally) while still in this world.
   n) Claiming that the punishment and reward in the next life is *only*
        confined to being metaphorical.
   o) Calling all of the Companions of the Prophet (all together) disbelievers.
   p) Denying any of the necessarily known and obvious parts of the din
       (e.g., claiming that formal prayer, fasting in Ramadan, Zakat, and Hajj is
       not obligatory; or that the nineteen beliefs mentioned in Song 3 of the
       Guiding Helper are incorrect (but differences in detail are allowed))
   q) Claiming that there is no need to worship Allah externally any more
        after becoming spiritually advanced.  For example, claiming that
        the formal prayer is no longer wajib after one has reached some
        high spiritual station with Allah.
   r) Denying any part of the Qur'an left by the Prophet (May Allah bless
        him and give him peace).
   s) Intentionally adding to (inserting one's own words into) or changing
       any part of the Qur'an left by the Prophet (May Allah bless him
       and give him peace) [Included in this is fabricating *obligatory*
       tenets of belief or *obligatory* acts of worship which have no
       basis in the primary texts].
   t) Claiming that others besides Allah could produce the Qur'an.
   u) Claiming that the later scholars (e.g., Imam Malik, Imam al-Shafi`i)
       were better than the prophets.

   [QF: page 323: line(s) 7-18: {book 17, chapter 10: clarification}]

The way the scholars have reached these above list of 21 acts that
make one "misguided" is by extensively studying the Qur'an (and Allah's
statements about  guidance and misguidance in it) and also the actual
interpretation of the Qur'an by the Prophet and the early Muslims.

Other acts not listed above do not have total support among the authentic
scholars of our din as acts that make one become misguided and exit
the sphere of Islam.

As a final note, the true scholar is very careful before calling people misguided
or labeling them as kafirs as the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him
peace) has said:

   When a man says to his brother [in din], O Disbeliever.  This [word] comes
   back/over  to [at least] one of them.  If the mentioned person is as claimed,
   then it goes to him, else it comes back to the person who uttered the words.

   [{Muslim, iman, bayan hal al-iman man qala li akhihi ya kafir, hadith #92}]

> I have a question about deriving *detailed* `aqidah directly from Qur'an and Hadith.
> Is deriving *detailed* beliefs directly from the primary texts a reliable way to
> form a correct `aqidah?

As is explained in the introduction to the Notes of Sources of the Guiding Helper,
a person cannot learn `aqidah accurately solely from Qur'an/hadith nor can he
learn fiqh accurately solely from Qur'an/hadith.  People who attempt such unaided
derivations are likely to make serious mistakes in their `aqidah and `ibadah.
And depending upon whether they commit the above 21 listed acts with their
mistake, this mistake may make them exit the sphere of Islam (unfortunately
for them).

As a side note, you may have heard that near the end of the world, the Muslim
Ummah will divide into 73 sects (e.g., in hadith in Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud,
Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Darami, etc.). After examining this issue, it seems like
the way this will happen [it has not happened yet even though some past
scholars have already gotten the list of 72 sects in the Hellfire polished
and shined and we pray insha'allah that the Muslim West will still be spared
from this odious prophecy] is that people will start deriving `aqidah and the
basics of acts of worship directly from hadith/Qur'an (building off the
current growth of the salafi movement primarily East of Lybia
(except Yemen, Syria, and other small pockets of traditional
Islam)).

And it is an ironic fact that the loudest voices claiming to be that one faction
of the 73 which will be saved from the Hellfire are from the salafi movement.

As for us (the authentic scholars of the Maghrib), we make no such exclusive
claims to guidance and just pray to Allah that He forgive us for any mistakes we
have made in our `aqidah and `ibadah as we tried our best to find what was right
but since we were far from the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace)
we were left to trusting those from whom we learned (who had connected chains
of transmission to him).

[As for a definition of a misguided sect, it is that they commit one of the
twenty-one acts listed above.  However, an important note about point (p)
is that *differences in detail are allowed*.

For example, we would not label someone who does not believe that there
will be three trumpet blows at/after the end of the world to be part of a misguided
sect; but, someone who denies that the world will one day end has formed
his own sect.

Similarly, we would not label someone who does not believe in the questioning
of the two angels in the grave with all of its details to be part of a misguided
sect (although, we would state if he denied it completely that he has made
a non-takfir error in his `aqidah); but, someone who denies the concept of
accountability in the next  life all together has formed his own sect.

Similarly, we would not label someone who does not believe that Hajj
is ruined by sexual intercourse as part of a misguided sect (in this
case, we would state that his opinion conflicts with ijma' and in our
best estimation is incorrect); but, someone who denies the obligatory
nature of Hajj all together has left Islam and formed his own sect.

And again, precaution is excercized by the erudite when
issuing a takfir statement.]

> You wrote in a previous response:"In other words, the person travelling the
> Path must realize that intrinsically speaking all acts are equal - and it is only Allah's
> arbitrary assigning of rewards and punishments to certain acts
> that gives them spiritual weight.  The real reason why something is makruh
> or haram is not that it is intrinsically in and by itself wrong or leads to harmful
> consequences. Rather, Allah has tied negative effects to acts
> labeled as haram as a further deterrent and as a mercy from Him. For example, He has
> tied painful headaches (a.k.a. hangovers)to getting drunk and has tied STDs
> (sexually transmitted diseases) to promiscuity. (end quote)
> brother who had asked me about music, after reading your response, raised the
> question that if the pre-Islamic Arabs did not have specific information from
> Allah that killing thier girl children was wrong, then were their actions
> actually  wrong?
> I'm assuming he is confusing accountability (i.e. those who were not warned cannot
> be held accountable) with the notion of something being intriniscally right or wrong.
> I also assume that these things had 'right' and 'wrong' ascribed to them
> already...

Yes to both assumptions.  Most people who have not studied a subject in
detail are unable to tell the difference between subtle categories.

> to clarify: is this ascription of right or wrong to acts that are not intrinsically right
> or wrong, done by informing someone of thier state, or when Allah created and balanced
> the universe.

The truth of the matter is that this ascription is time-specific and
human-knowledge-independent.  An act which is labeled as haram or wajib at
a specific time may be declared by Allah to be mubah at another time.
(As for when it was decided that it would be haram then and mubah now, it
was decided  by Allah in timeless pre-eternity before the existence of the
created Universe).  As for whether or not ignorance of the law changes the
ascription given, the answer is NO, the ascription is not changed, but Allah
may deal with an ignorant person more leniently and show more mercy to him
than to a knowledgeable person [this leniency for honestly-ignorant people is found
in many hadith and verses in the Qur'an].

References:
   Footnote 246 of Explanatory Notes, paragraph 1 and associated entries in the
   Notes of Sources.

As a proof that the ascription of a legal ruling is time-specific:
In the early days of Islam, praying five times a day was not wajib, but when
the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) returned from his Night
Journey and Ascension, he made it wajib for each and every Muslim until the
Last Hour.  There are many other proofs for this.

It is generally accepted by the scholars of the din that no basic legal
rulings established by the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace)
will be changed up to the Last Hour.  And it is also generally accepted that
the Muslims living near the Last Hour will be vastly ignorant about the din.
Thus, their ignorance will let them be dealt with more leniently, but their
ignorance will not change the actual legal ruling ascriptions that the
Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) established.

As for a Qur'anic proof that all acts are arbitrary (even the killing a
child without due cause), it is that Allah commanded Prophet Ibrahim to
slaughter  his son [al-Qur'an 37:102] [now whether or not the slaughter took
place is irrelevant.  The lesson in the story is that the "good" act is that
which Allah has commanded even if it goes against what is customarily
considered to be "good", even if it appears to be something that is
considered "bad" customarily).  Another proof is that Khidr while Musa was
accompanying him [al-Qur'an 18:74]], killed a small child without (past) due
cause.

In both of the Qur'anic excerpts above, the tone from Allah is that of
acceptance of the act and as a fulfillment of His command - even though it
goes against the customary command.

The `Ash`ari view of acts being arbitrary is the truth and corresponds to
higher reality and those that are extremely-learned and
spiritually-experienced agree with it and know that all laws from Allah are
made arbitrarily by Him.  This was true for the first law that was given to
the human race ("Do not come near this tree lest you become wrong-doers"
[al-Qur'an 7:19], such that Allah chose any tree arbitrarily and labeled it
a "bad" deed to eat its fruit; then, He associated some negative effects to
eating the fruit of that tree) and this is true for all the laws that were
given since then.

As a side point, we would note that this particular point (about whether laws
are arbitrary or whether acts are intrinsically "right" and "wrong") is the
major point of difference between the `Ash`ari and Maturidi schools.

References:
   [IU: volume 1: page 99: line(s) 5-8: {2nd type of  ahkam al-shari`ah, hakim,
    maturidi madhab}]


> If a person says that he saw the Angel Jibreel, who helped them
> find their way on a path for example, is such a thing possible?
> Do Angels make themselves apparent in Angelic form to non-Prophets?

Angels are known to take two forms:  (1) that of a normal
3-dimentional physical being, such as a human and (2) that
of their original celestial form (which includes having 2,
three, four, or more wings according to the Qur'an [35:1])

The proof from the Qur'an that angels can take the form of
a human is in Surah Maryam [19:17] that an angel (Angel
Jibra'il according to Suyuti) made himself apparent to her in
the form of an upright male human (rajulan sawiyya).

It is agreed upon by all authentic scholars, that Maryam
(`Isa's mother) was not a prophet, but was a very righteous
and pious friend of Allah (waliyah).  Thus, this Qur'anic
verse establishes that a non-prophet can see an angel
(including Angel Jibra'il) in the form of a human.

There are many hadith also that speak of normal human
beings seeing angels in human form, such as the famous
three-parts-of din Jibra'il hadith in Sahih Muslim which
we have narrated in the Notes of Sources for Song 3.

However, Imam al-Ghazali in his Ihya' concludes that there
must be a difference between a prophet (nabiy) and a regular
person else we would not be told that the Prophet Muhammad
(May Allah bless him and give him peace) was the last prophet.

And the difference between the two is that a prophet can
*see* angels in their celestial forms while the normal man
cannot.

By "see", we mean normal physical sight of a solid figure
while awake , and not some imagination nor perception of
a faintly apparition.

The proof that normal people cannot see angels in their
celestial forms is that not even one of the Companions ever
saw Angel Jibra'il in his celestial form even while in the
exact same location as the Prophet (May Allah bless him and
give him peace) while he was receiving revelation from Angel
Jibra'il.  This is widespread in hadith which talk about
verses that were revealed while other people were around
(e.g., the Umm Salamah hadith we narrate about Allah wanting
to purify the people of the Prophet's house in the Notes of
Sources to Main Text Entry #4).

Now, this above topic is much more detailed than what
we have mentioned.  For example, it is agreed upon by
advanced scholars that a friend of Allah can *hear* an angel
in its celestial form without actually seeing it.  Also, the
above assumes the human is in his normal awake state (yaqadhah).
If he is in sleep (nawm) or is in the astral projection state
(waqi`ah between sleep and wakefulness), then it may be possible
to see an angel in other than the form of a human.

> Is it true that at the end of his life, al-Ash'ari gave up
> his Aqidah and stopped believing in it?

We have heard this rumor too, but do not know whether or
not it is true (since we have not done our own research on it).
Our educated opinion is that although he may have rephrased
certain aspects of his `aqidah, he was too qualified to have swung
blindly like a pendulum to the other side again.

However even if it is true, it does not detract from the value of
the teaching he left.  Since the teaching he has left have been
confirmed by thousands of qualified scholars after him (up to
our day). For example, Imam Ibn `Ashir, Imam al-Sunusi, Imam
al-Bayjuri, Imam Suyuti, Imam al-Laqqani, Imam al-Nasafi, etc.
have all confirmed his recorded teachings.

Please also refer to footnote 19 of the Explanatory Notes in which
we apprise the reader that Imam Abul Hasan `Ash`ari did not "invent"
his own `aqidah, rather he wrote and preserved the `aqidah of the
earlier Muslims (e.g., Prophet, Sahabah, tabi`in, etc).  The group
of earlier rightly-guided people that had this `Aqidah were known
as the Muthbitah ("those who affirm" what others deny).

Reference:
   [DT: volume 1: page 16: line(s) 19-20: {explanation of verse 5,
   explanation of "al-`Ash`ari"}]


> There are two famous but controversial writers in
> the Indian Subcontinent who lived about 150 years ago.
> They wrote in their works that with Allah there is imkan kadhib
> (the possibility of lying) and that this topic existed in the past. The
> authors and their books are: Shah Isma`il Dehelwi in his works,
> "Taqwiyatul-Iman" and "Yak Rozi" and Rashid Ahmad Gangohi in
> his "Fatawa-e-Rashidiyya". I can send you copies of the relevant pages
> if you are interested. I have two questions regarding this:
> 1. Is this a traditional Islamic position or is there a valid difference
> of opinion on it?

The traditional opinion about this point of the Ash`ari and Maturidi Scholars
is summed up in the following statement of Imam al-Sunusi in his Sharh
al-Kubra (explanation of the proof the honesty of the Prophets):

    "Lying is impossible for Allah Most High since His speech is taken
      in accordance to His true knowledge.  And speech in agreement
      with true knowledge can only be true.

    Now if you were to postulate that:  "A human scholar (who has knowledge)
    sometimes lies so why cannot Allah lie?"  The difference is that we are
    talking about His eternal timeless speech and not time-bound verbal/written
    speech.

   Allah *does not* have time-bound verbal/written speech; rather, His creation
   *have* time-bound verbal/written speech.  Just like a human scholar cannot speak
   a lie if he were to manifest the actual knowledge in his heart [e.g., through
   a neuron mind-reading machine]..., Allah cannot lie as this is the only type
   of speech He has."

Reference:
   [DT: volume 1: page 53-54: line(s) 22-26, 1-2: {explanation of verse(s) 34-37,
   near beginning}]

In summary: all lies that are manifested from those who claim contact with Allah
are attributed to His creation and not Him.

Thus, Allah can create a lie on the tongue of His creation, but He cannot lie
Himself - And all such lies are attributed to His creation and not to Him.
This is the view of the traditional Ash`ari and Maturidi scholars on
this subject.

As for why the Prophets could not have lied, it is that the words they taught
were taken from Allah's pre-eternal speech which is always true.


> Those who hold the belief that there is imkan
> kadhib for Allah Ta`ala have written some statements
> trying to clarify their position and also attempting
> to provide evidence for it. Please tell me if these are traditional
> Sunni positions. (I do not hold their opinion.)
>
> Shah Isma`il Dehelwi states on page 144 of his book
> Yak Rozi (Delhi: Matba`a Faruqi) that there is nass
> from the Qur�an showing that takdhib is mumkin with Allah!

Such a statement can only issue from a person who is
confused about our ontological description of Allah
and the proper manners taken when talking about Him.
The mutakallimin state that Allah has three aspects
(that we have been told about):

   a) Entity (Dhaat)
   b) Attributes (Sifaat)
   c) Actions (Af`aal)

Both His Entity and Attributes are beginningless and
endless and are unaffected by the passage of time.
His actions are brought about through time and space
and change at every moment.

So when a person understands such, he realizes that
there is not any perceived thing except that it is
wholly part of Allah.  It is either His Entity, part
of His Atrributes, or part of His actions.

In such a sense, we can see that verbal or written
lies (which can only take place in time and space) *are*
part of Allah's actions.  They cannot be part of
His Entity or His Attibutes, since those two aspects
of Him are independent of time and space.

Now the mutakallimin have come up with the following
adab rules when ascribing things to Allah:

   a) His Entity (Who He actually is) is wholly ascribed
      to Him.
   b) His Attributes (which describe His Entity) are
      also wholly ascribed to Him.
   c) His actions are of two types on the top level:
           i) Those which do not appear to issue
              from any responsible being.  This
              category of actions are wholly ascribed
              to Allah (for example, an earthquake
              caused by natural causes).
           ii) Those which appear to issue from a
               responsible being.  These are ascribed
               to the responsible being in terms of
               earning reward and punishment, but
               are ascribed to Allah in terms of
               creating these actions in accordance
               with the responsible being's will
               and choice.

From this you can see that verbal and written lies can
only issue from His creation and not from Him
(i.e. His Entity).  And thus such lies are ascribed to
His creation and not to Him.

> On the following page (p. 145), he writes that if we say
> that kidhb is not possible for Allah, it would then imply
> that humans could do something that Allah cannot do.
> Please tell me is this logic valid?

This logic is not valid:

   a) A human being with his entity can burn in Hell whereas
      Allah cannot burn in Hell.  This does not imply that
      Allah is inferior - It just implies Allah is different.

Again all this comes from confusing His Entity and Attributes
with His actions.

[...]

> As a result of this belief in imkan kadhib of Allah,
> according to Shah Isma`il Dehelwi, He [Allah] may
> bring into existence millions of Prophets, saints,
> jinns, angels, and entities equal to Gabriel and the
> Prophet Muhammad (saw) in terms of status.
> (Taqwiyatul-Iman [English translation], p.85)
>
> Is it a possibility that Allah "may bring into existence
> millions of Prophets, saints, jinns, angels, and entities
> equal to Gabriel and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in terms
> of status."

If it can be conceived in the intellect, then
the mutakallimin say that it is contigently possible for
Allah *to create*.  However Allah is true to His word and
such will not happen on our earth until the Last Hour.  It may
happen in some far away galaxy in the universe though.

> According to my local mosque imam, the above statement
> contradicts the Khatamiyya of the Prophet (sallallahu
> `alayhi wa sallam).

> His position was further expressed by another scholar
> of India called Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, who wrote:
> "From the servant Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, after
> Salaam Masnoon: you have inquired concerning the
> question of 'Imkaane Kazib' (possibility of lying).
> 'Imkaane Kizb' in the sense that Allah Ta`ala has the
> power to act contrary to what He has ordered, but, out
> of His own Free Will, will not, is the belief of this
> servant."
> (Fatawa Rashidiyya (Lahore ed.?) pg. 84)
>
> He continues, "The Qur'an Shareef and the Sahih
> Ahaadith bear testimony to this belief and this is the
> belief of all the Ulama of the Ummah too. For example,
> Fir`awn is promised to be thrown into Hell, but Allah Ta`ala has
> the power to enter him into paradise, although He will never
> give him paradise. And this is the Masalah under discussion
> at the moment. This is the belief of all my friends. The
> enemies must have related it differently. Referring to this Power
> and the non-occurrence of it is termed 'Imkaane Zaati' [possibility
> in Himself] and 'Mumtana bi Ghayr' [prevented by other than
> Himself]. Was salaam, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi."
> (Fatawa Rashidiyya (Lahore ed.?), pg. 84)

Again if it can be conceived in the intellect, then
the mutakallimin say that it is contigently possible for
Allah *to create*.  However Allah is true to His word and
such will not happen.

In this sense the mutakallimin believe that Allah, on
purpose, created the human intellect in such a way that (when
it is sound and working) it can tell whether or not an event
is possible, impossible, or necessary.

Reference:
  Guiding Helper, Introduction to Book of Belief, Beginning
  Section.

> Another scholar by the name of Khalil Ahmad Ambetwi
> Saharanpuri in his Baraheen-e-Qaati`ah (pg. 278, lines
> 13,14 Kutub Khana Imdadiya, Deoband) quotes Gangohi's
> self-defense in the Fatawa Rashidiyya:
> "This is the meaning of Imkaan-e-kizb (possibility of telling a
>  lie) that Allah Ta`ala has the power of telling lies but
> this will not happen."
>
> In the beginning of Baraheen-e-Qaati`ah (page 6 Kutub Khana
> Imdadiya, Deoband) Khalil Ahmad Ambetwi Saharanpuri wrote
> that "the question of [attributing Allah Most High the
> power of] lying has not only been raised just now but there
> has always been a debate on this issue by previous Ulema."
>
> Are these views a part of the Sunni tradition because the
> central mosque of my area tells me that such beliefs are
> kufr [!!?]. Sorry to have to bother you with this but it
> seems a bit confusing. I know you mentioned that we don�t
> go around making takfir on people and I am not suggesting
> that at all but I was wondering if this issue or concept
> existed in the past among our shuyukh or is this something
> that has newly appeared under the name of our previous Ulama?

Very few issues are genuinely new.  This issue has been
dealt with by our scholars in the past.

Now, we think we are beginning to understand your true question.
Your true question is:

  a) Can Allah act against His previous word or command?
     This is what the scholars you quote are calling
     "Imkan al-Kadhib" (perhaps a bad choice of words).

The answer given by the `Ash`ari and Maturidi scholars is that:

   "Yes. It is contingently possible for Allah to
    act against His previous word.  But, Allah is
    true to His word and we can say with surety
    that it won't happen.  This is the meaning
    of the verses in the Qur'an that state:

     "wa law laa kalimatun sabaqat..."

     "If it were not for a word already issued by Allah,..."

     [al-Qur'an 10:19]"

Thus, it is not kufr to believe such, but is part of the
`Ash`ari and Maturidi aqidah system which allows Allah
the right to perform all contingent actions as the
Qur'an states - "wa huwa `alaa kulli shay'in qadeer"

Reference:
  [{al-Durr al-Thamin Sharh al-Murshid al-Mu`in,
    discussion on wajib al-`aradi and wajib al-dhaati
    in section describing the three types of rational
    statements}]


> Should Aqida be taken from outside the Mutawatir Hadith, and
> the Quran? (I know that the sirat over hell, and other parts of
> the Ahl Sunnah aqida are from non-Mutawatir hadiths, but what about
> these issues?)

We do not believe that any common point of `Aqidah (e.g., the sirat over the
Hellfire) is absent from both Mutawatir (which means that multiple independent
authentic chains transmitted it) and also absent from the Qur'an.

For example, it is agreed upon by authentic scholars that the sirat is
what is mentioned in the Quran, chapter 19, verses 71-72: "And
there is not one of you except that he will go on [cross] it. It is on
your Lord a promise to be fulfilled. Then, we will save those who
had taqwa and we will leave the wrong-doers in it crouching."

And also in the Qur'an, the actual word is mentioned for this
particular bridge: fah-duhum ila sirat al-jahim "And guide them
to the sirat of [over] the Hellfire". [chapter 37: verse 23]

Additionally, there are mutawatir hadith (chains of which are
found in Bukhari and Muslim) that speak of the Sirat. You can refer
to the Primary Text Proofs in the Notes of Sources for Song
2 (where our core beliefs are mentioned) for verification.

We would say that people who claim that a commonly known
point of `aqidah is neither found in the Qur'an nor in mutawatir hadith
only have partial knowledge of the primary texts and do not have
encyclopedic knowledge of the contents of the primary texts. (If we
count mere differences in chains of transmission, there are easily
well over one million *authentic* (sahih and hasan) recorded ahadith.). [Many
claim that the number is nearer to two million.] Unfortunately also,
it is a sad fact that a number of authentic hadith have been lost forever
(preserved only in the secondary texts of the scholars) since the
great bulk of hadith were not written down until about three or
four centuries after the Prophet.] From this, you can easily see
that a hadith which was considered mutawatir in the early centuries
of Islam may now only be considered among the 'aahaad since some
of the chains may not have been recorded and written down.
Additionally, you can see that some hadith (their chains along
with their text) may have been completely lost forever (only
preserved in the secondary text statements of the early scholars).

> A quick question: In GH, you mention that you are from a particular
> sub-section of followers of Ashari aqida. Could you explain this more?

Please refer to the "Notes to those That Trust Scholars" section of the
Preface to the Notes of Sources which explains that every school
of knowledge will inherently have differences of opinion in highly-detailed
subjects and such differences are resolved by producing a "popular" school
and acceptable "minority" schools.  [As a side note, production of such
"acceptable" minority schools ensures that the teachers of the school
will not become dogmatic or "sect-minded" [e.g., like some unqualified
people who label any one who does not hold their particular views to be
part of a misguided sect.]]

Almost all the beliefs in the Guiding Helper represent the "most trusted"
or "popular" positions in the `Ash`ari school.  This can be easily verified
by comparing the beliefs stated in the Guiding Helper with the explanation
of texts such as al-Jawharah al-Tawhid and the Risalah al-Tawhid of
Bayjuri.

The only major place that we have deviated from the popular `Ash`ari school
concerns the giving of metaphorical interpretations to primary text statements
whose literal interpretation would force us to claim that Allah had a body,
could trans-locate in time, or was like His creation.

The popular `Ash`ari view is to give metaphorical interpretations to verses
in the Qur'an such as "the *hand* of Allah is over their
hands" [surah fath, verse 10].  For example, *hand* above could mean
"approval", "power", "over-seeing", etc.

The minority opinion in the `Ash`ari school [held by 99% of the
qualified tasawwuf Sheikhs who are `Ash`aris (e.g., Ahmad Zarruq,
Ibn `Abbad, etc.)] is to refrain from giving such metaphorical
interpretations all together (except as a means to instruct the
spiritually-devoid uneducated man) - as such Sheikhs feel
giving metaphorical interpretations to such statements will
only slow down the spiritual progress of those connected with
the Path - as the true meaning of such verses and statements is beyond
the grasp of the common intellect - as the true meaning is something
which can only be "experienced" by the ruh.

We have narrated the minority opinion on this particular point.

References:
   Footnote 220 of the Explanatory Notes of the Guiding Helper.

> Also, in this translation, Tabari starts the first book with a discussion of time.
> He basically defines it as a noun describing the passage of day and night for
> measurement. This leads him to discuss how long time will last. He discusses
> several numbers, 6,000 years, 7,000 years etc. This brings up two main
> questions:
> 1) If no one knows the hour, why does it seem that some scholars have
> tried to figure out when the world would end. I heard the Imam Suyuti
> said that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) Ummah would last 1500 years.
> ( I have no source other than an email for this.)

The conclusive word on the Last Hour is in the Qur'an:

"La yujalliha li waqtiha illa hu."
[No one will be able to disclose its time except Him.]
[al-Qur'an 7:187]

As for scholars trying to guess. Ibn Khaldun notes such attempts in his
famous Muqaddimah. He notes that people have a tendency to be over-eager
to find about the future and this is why even scholars fall prey to such
"educated" guesswork.

Thus, the dates given by the scholars are at best "educated" guesses
which are prone to error.

We would advise the Muslim Ummah not to plan their work around any
such date. But, one should keep working day to day trying to do
better in one's own life and trying to advance the welfare of the
din in general without worrying too much about when it is *all*
going to end.

And we are hopeful that Allah will answer our prayers to give much
blessings to the followers of the Guiding Helper in this world and
the next regardless of how close or how far they are from the Last
Hour.

> 2) In Tabari's book, he mentions hadiths that trees and the earth and
> such were created before the sun. Our observations lead us to conclude
> that such things (esp. trees) are dependant on the sun (of course Allah
> could have created them before tieing the process of photosynthesis to
> them, but the question leads more towards the legitimacy of these
> hadiths or the statements of modern Muslim theologians.)

You should know that there is a general approach we have in our din for
balancing contemporary scientific knowledge with statements in the primary texts.

The approach states:

a) Any interpretation of a primary text based upon contemporary scientific
evidence can either be correct and on the mark or be incorrect and have missed the mark.
b) Any contemporary scientific theory or accepted fact that
   contradicts a primary text statement is to be treated as follows:
   i) It should be considered possible that the scientific theory or accepted
    fact is not 100% accurate. And it is due to its inaccuracy (even if slight)
    that the contradiction is apparent.
   ii) It should be considered possible that a previous interpretation of a
    primary text was actually incorrect. For example, what previously may have
    been understood literally may have been a metaphorical way of expressing
    something else.

We will give one example to illustrate this:

In Surah Kahf (chapter 17) of the Qur'an, we are told about a man named Dhu al-Qarnayn
who traveled to the rising and setting places of the sun. We are almost certain that the
early mufassirin understood this literally - and they assumed that there exists a place
on earth on which the sun actually sets (literally and physically) and there exists a
place on earth on which the sun actually rises (literally and physically).

Now that we have charted the world, we know that no such setting or rising place
actually exists. So, we assume that (b.ii) is true for this case - in that the
previous (literal) interpretation was incorrect.

However, we know that there are places on earth that experience 6 months of
sunrise (in that the sun stays on the Eastern horizon for extended periods of
time) and there are places on earth that experience 6 months of sunset (in that
the sun stays on the Western horizon for extended periods of time). Thus, in
conformity with (a) above, we assert that it is possible that the Qur'an was
referring to this prolonged day/night phenomenon that we have only found out
about in modern times that affects places like Norway and the Java Islands.

Reference:
Derived from the Introduction of Ibn Kathir's Tafsir in which he delves into
historical accounts of the Bani Isra'il and how they are treated in interpreting
the primary texts.

> We often read that yawm means ages as well as days, and that a
> day can be = to 1,000 or 50,000 years. Since our current empircal
> observations tell us that the earth is older than 6,000 years (as many
> of today's orthodox Jews believe the age of the earth to be,)we are told
> that due to this meaning of yawm, there is no inconsistancy with the
> Koran and empiracle observation. So looking at Tabari's book, it seems
> that either the Hadiths that seem to give an age to the world (far less than
> the billions now believed to have passed)are perhaps undependable, or in
> fact we should believe the earth to be just a few thousand years old.
> Is the age of the earth something speculative that can be reassessed over
> time, or are there hadiths and Koranic quotes that are conclusive on the
> matter (in which case, would modernists be throwing these out?)

What we mention above addresses all of these issues. The above outlines
a method for reconciling contradictions between authentic primary text
statements and contemporary accepted scientific facts and theories.

It is from the blessing of Allah that our basic laws and beliefs are unaffected
by *concrete* scientific advances (going forward) or scientific regression
(going backward).

And in the introduction of the Guiding Helper, we basically outlined the way
we handle the three types of statements that can possibly exist: (1) rational,
(2) empirical, and (3) legal. And we note that statements from all three of
these sources can be accepted as true in our din.


> In the Hadith about Allah descending to the sky of this earth
> in Sahih Muslim (Sahih Muslim, 1.521: 758) evidently Imam Malik
> had interpreted this as such: "the interpretation of Malik ibn Anas
> and others, that it ["your Lord descends"] means "His mercy, command,
> and angels descend," just as it is said, "The sultan did such-and-such,"
> when his followers did it at his command. (Sahih Muslim bi Sharh
> al-Nawawi, 6.3637). " (I quote this from Shiekh Nuh Kellers article
> found at http://www.masud.co.uk/.
> This is reported by Imam an-Nawwawi. Do you know where this is found?
> I know I should trust the scholars, but it is to have further backing proof should
> it come up with some of our neo-salafi bros.

The hadith scholar al-Bayhaqi has narrated a similar statement from the chain of
Walid ibn Muslim.  He states:

    "Imam al-Awza`i, Imam Malik, Imam Sufyan al-Thawri, Imam Layth
      ibn Sa`d were asked about these hadith [i.e. "Allah descending to the
      sky of the world every night"] that such may imply anthropomorphism.
      They all replied by saying:  "Accept the statement as it has come
      [in the hadith] without [imagining] how."

    [Sharh `Aun al-Ma`ubud of Abu Dawud, prayer, which part of the night
     is best, hadith #1120

Now from the above we see that many scholars' statements are being
summarized in a single statement.  It is very unlikely that all of them
uttered exactly the same words.

Your excerpt reads "...of Malik ibn Anas *and others*".  Obviously,
the statement in its very form that you quote may never have been
uttered by Imam Malik.

>   It brings up an interesting point
> that Imam Malik engaged in a form of Kalam (mainly Ta'wil.) However, I had been
> under the impression that he did'nt approve of Kalam type interpretations.
> 1b)Could you please give me some examples/sources for further study of his
> position on such issues of Tawheed?

Imam Malik has been well-recorded in his Fiqh positions.  His positions on
tawheed are less well-recorded.  You will only be able to find isolated
statements from Imam Malik that describe his views on Tawhid.

For example, Imam Malik said:  "His mounting the throne is known, but
its actual method is unknown.  And believing in it is wajib.  And asking
about [how it was/is done]  is a new innovation in din."

 [Ihya `Ulum al-Din, `Aqa'id, section 2, ta'wil and tafwid]
 [IU: volume 1: page 179: line(s) 14-15]

As for taking ammo away from the anthropomorphist, there is nothing
in Imam Malik's statements that justifies a literal physical interpretation
of such statements in the primary texts.  Rather, the words in the above
statement "its actual method is unknown" clearly indicate that a literal
physical interpretation is unwarranted.  That leaves open the possibility
that giving a figurative interpretation is a permissible innovation.


> I'm having a hard time with the notion that Imam al-'Ashari
> was defending the beliefs of Ahmad ibn Hanbal with Rational
> methodologies. If that were the case, the 'Ashari Aqida shouldn't
> differ from that of the Hanbalis/Salafis, only the methods of proving
> them + the use of Ta'wil.

Imam al-Ash`ari was preserving the beliefs of not Imam Hanbal but
of the Muthbitah.  It may have happened that Imam al-Hanbal shared
95+% of the beliefs held by the Muthbitah, but that is more of a
coincidence.  For example, that is like saying that Imam al-Ash`ari was
defending the beliefs of Imam Abu Hanifah (since his `aqidah laid
out in his book al-Fiqh al-Akbar) is very similar to the `Ash`ari `aqidah.

Now you may be wondering who the Muthbitah were since this part of
our history is not well-known.  The Muthbitah were the section of scholars
in the first two-three centuries of Islam that stuck closely to the beliefs
taught by the Prophet and conveyed by his top companions (e.g., Abu Bakr,
`Ali, etc.) and avoided the innovations of the Mu`tazilah and similar
Eastern-Western influenced schools of thought.

Reference:
   [DT: volume 1: page 16: line(s) 19-20: {explanation of verse 5,
   explanation of "al-`Ash`ari"}]

> Are there claims that there are text based proofs for the use
> of 'dialectic' reasoning and later the use of logic?
> I still go back to what you had mentioned about the Mutakalim
> coming up with these methods on thier own, separate from the greek
> philosophy. Were you referring to pre-Ghazali Kalam (i.e. Baqalani) before
> they started using formal logic and just used 'dialectical' reasoning.

We think that those opposed to kalam will always throw around such
words and claims of "bid`'ah" to de-legitimize this branch of knowledge - similar to
how those who oppose tasawwuf throw around words and claims of "bid`ah"
to de-legitimize that branch of knowledge.

The resolution for this is that you yourself become extremely qualified
in the primary texts so that words and claims such as those are
easily disproved or at least put on the defensive.

> I have no idea what 'dialectical' reasoning is. Can you give me an
> example of it? How is it different from how the companions debated?

Dialectic reasoning has multiple definitions; one is examining an
argument from two opposite sides (a thesis and an anti-thesis) and then
showing that one of these sides is false and as such the other must
be true.

Such reasoning is found in the Qur'an in many verses when Allah gives
us two parables and then makes us understand that one of them is false.

For example:

"Allah strikes the parable of a slave ... and a wealthy man"  [16:75]

"And Allah strikes the parable of two men..."  [16:75]

"And Allah strikes a parable for the disbelievers ...
and a parable for the believers"  [66:10-11]

"Is the one who is on clear signs from this Lord like the
  one whose bad acts appear good to him and follows his desires?"
  [47:14]

"Indeed, there was a sign for you in two factions that met.  One
  of them fighting in the way of Allah and the other disbelieving..."
 [3:13]

etc.

As a final note, the main reason that people claim that the mutakallimin
have derived their material from non-Islamic sources is that they
are too dense to understand the arguments given in the Qur'an
which are not formally structured like the mutakallimin's arguments
and which omit many premises and often the conclusion itself.  The
scholars are of the view that Allah has omit such details because
the main audience for these arguments (i.e. the erudite scholars) do
not need such details.  This is what the Qur'an means in verses such as:

   "Indeed, we have detailed the verses [enough] for those who
    know."  [6:97]

   "Indeed, we have detailed the verses [enough] for those who
    understand."  [6:98]

Also as a final note, as far as the branches of kalam and tasawwuf
are concerned you should know that the number of scholars alive
today that are extremely qualified in these two branches can be
counted on your fingers.  Thus, you should not be surprised if
most people you meet have no idea whatsoever about the reality and
basis of these two branches.

> 1)I'm struggling with the concept of attributes. Are attributes
> descriptions of Allah, or 'part' of his essence or entity.

First of all you must understand that Allah *is* His Entity -
that is:  Who Allah is - is His Entity.

Next you must understand that His Entity is formless, timeless,
space-less, and infinite.

Next you must understand that every entity or essence cannot exist
without attributes.

Thus, among His Entity's attributes are being formless, timeless,
space-less, and infinite.  These four enter into His attribute of being
"Different from creation" (listed as the fifth point of belief in Song 2
of the Guiding Helper) as all His creation are some how related
to having form, being bound in time/space, and/or having finite
"dimensions".

The thirteen commonly-known attributes of Allah are listed in the
first thirteen points of belief of Song 2 of the Guiding Helper.

Beliefs fourteen to twenty state that the previous attributes
of Allah's  Entity have always co-existed alongside His entity and
are beginningless and eternal.

Thus, in conclusion, an attribute of Allah is a "description of
His Entity that has always co-existed with His entity and is
permanent in that it does not fluctuate with time or go away".

And an action of Allah is a sensory (but not necessarily perceived by the
five common senses of the human) phenomenon that issues from
His Entity.

References:
   Explanation for Song 2 of the Guiding Helper and
   Associated Entries in the Notes of Sources.

> If Allah is one in his Entity, Attributes, and Actions, it seems
> that they are not a part of His entity.

The Entity/Essence of Allah is distinct from His actions -whereas the
attributes of Allah go hand in hand with His Entity.  You cannot have
an Entity without an attribute nor an existent attribute without
an Entity to describe.  This is hinted in footnote 138 of the Explanatory
Notes of the Guiding Helper.

The meaning of Allah being one in His Entity is that His Entity is not made
up of multiple parts and that no other distinct "god-like" entities exist.

The meaning of Allah being one in His attributes is that His attributes are
distinct from each other and He does not have two attributes for the
same quality.  Being one in His attributes also means that no other separate
beings exist which in reality have attributes similar to Allah's.

The meaning of Allah being one in His actions is that He alone acts
singularly in creating all sensory (again not necessarily confined to
the common physical world) phenomenon - and no other "Creator"
of sensory phenomenon exists.

References:
   Risalah al-Tawheed of Imam al-Bayjuri

> I am understanding the oneness in actions to mean that no 'thing'
> exists except that it is the creation of Allah. Therefore, the notion that
> matter is eternally pre-existant, for example, contradicts this.

Yes.  Matter is not pre-existent.  The truth is that matter
does not exist at all - this is the view of the people of the Path who
have reached the ultimate reality [haqiqah] .  Rather, matter is a
*sensory illusion*.

Imam Abul Hasan al-Shadhili said about this:

   "We do not see creation (khalq) [as existent] - but, if we must see them [i.e.
     in order to deal with them according to Shari`ah] then we see them like
     minute dust particles [floating] in the air.  If you searched them out, you
     would find that they amount to *nothing*."

   [SA: volume 1: page 18: line(s) I22-24: {explanation of hikmah 15, near end}]

>So, attributes like Life, Power, Volition, Mercy, are describing the
>entity of Allah but are not 'part' of his entity, like creation is from Allah's
> creative actions but not a 'part' of Allah's entity?

His attributes as we said above go hand in hand with His entity as you cannot
have an entity without attributes.

> Then this leads to the notion that Allah's 'Hand' is an attribute
> (without making comparisons or saying such things like
> 'he has a form but we don't know the 'how'.')   If one avoids the pitfalls of
> the 'neo-salafi/hanbali' beliefs, can one still say Allah has a hand, like he
> has Mercy, but they are attributes of Allah and unlike our hands and
> Mercy? (I have just read Ibn Taymiah's 'refutation' of the 'Asharis,
> claiming that they affirm certain attributes (7) but 'deny' others (i.e. anger,
> love, etc.))
> So I guess I'm wondering about the relation of attributes to entity, and what
> constitutes an attribute.

You must understand that the Hand of Allah enters into Allah's attribute of power
according to the `Ash`aris.  So, the Taymiyyah logic is invalid.  When the `Ash`aris affirm
His *Power* as an attribute of His Entity they are also implicitly affirming His
Hand.  Just like above, when they were affirming His being different from creation,
they were also affirming that His Entity is formless, timeless, space-less, and infinite.

Similarly, the Eye of Allah enters into His *knowledge* which is an attribute the
`Ash`aris affirm.

To repeat, when the `Ash`aris affirm that Allah has power, they affirm that He has a Hand
(for the Hand is only meant as a metaphorical cue for His power).  Thus, the `Ash`aris are
not denying the Hand of Allah.  Rather, they just understand the subject on a much
higher level (past the pre-school or nursery salafis) and have grouped the Hand, Eye, Foot,
etc. of Allah along with one of His thirteen mentioned attributes.

The pre-kindergarten Taymiyyah-rote-repeaters cannot understand this for
some reason and do not realize that the extremely well-put-together system of
`Aqidah which the `Ash`aris have produced contains tons of specific points
in a just a few general mentioned attributes.

References:
   Risalah al-Tawheed of Imam al-Bayjuri

Please also  realize here that Allah's Mercy, Love, Anger, Generosity, etc.
are not really attributes of His Entity per say.  Rather, they are
derived from one or more of His thirteen mentioned attributes and are
manifested in the form of actions.

For example, Mercy is derived from Power, Knowledge, and Volition -
and can become manifest in His action of entering a disobeying believer
into Paradise.

This is how the `Ash`aris understand these qualities of Allah mentioned
in His names and in the primary texts.

References:
  Footnote 220 of the Explanatory Notes of the Guiding Helper and
   associated entries in the Notes of Sources.


> What are the definitions of Attributes.
> I ask because I read some Ibn Taymiah debate quoted
> by Ibn Qayim al jawzia, in which he claims that Ash'aris only
> accept 7 attributes, and deny the others (i.e. hand, shin, etc.)
> This is an interesting criticism if attribute means something
> that Allah attributes to himself. However, I it occured to me
> while the Khatib was doing the dua' before Jummah, that we call
> on Allah by names derived from these attributes "ya ____" but we
> don't say "oh one with hands" or "oh one with shins" etc. So is
> there something inherent in the descriptive qualities that we've
> accepted as attributes that separates "hand" "laughter" etc from
>the them?

An attribute is a description of some essense.

For example, rose water has the attribute of being
fragrant.

As another example, an attribute of a human is that
he is prone to haste.  Another attribute of a human is
that his body is made up of distinct parts (e.g., hand,
foot, face, waist, etc.)

As we know that Allah is not made up of distinct parts
(as is proven from one of the proofs for His Oneness [we have
not mentioned this proof in the Guiding Helper, but it is found
in the book DT (al-Durr Thamin) in explanation of the verse
"If He weren't one, then He couldn't do anything"]), Allah having
a hand could not be the same as a human having a hand.  Thus,
the only way to intellectually understand Allah having the
attribute of a hand is to give a metaphorical interpretation and
state that the Hand signifies His power or authority.

We wrote before addressing this:

 To repeat, when the `Ash`aris affirm that Allah has power,
 they affirm that He has a Hand (for the Hand is only meant as
 a metaphorical cue for His power).  Thus, the `Ash`aris are
 not denying the Hand of Allah.  Rather, they just understand the
 subject on a much higher level and have grouped the Hand, Eye, Foot,
 etc. of Allah along with one of His thirteen mentioned attributes.

 Some people cannot understand this for some reason and do not realize
 that the extremely well-put-together system of `Aqidah which the
 `Ash`aris have produced contains tons of specific points in just a
 few general mentioned attributes.

References:
   Risalah al-Tawheed of Imam al-Bayjuri

 Please also  realize here that Allah's Mercy, Love, Anger, Generosity,
 etc. are not really attributes of His Entity per say.  Rather, they are
 derived from one or more of His thirteen mentioned attributes and are
 manifested in the form of actions.

 For example, Mercy is derived from Power, Knowledge, and Volition -
 and can become manifest in His action of entering a disobeying believer
 into Paradise.

 This is how the `Ash`aris understand these qualities of Allah mentioned
 in His names and in the primary texts.

Now laughter is similar to the above in that laughter signifies His
pleasure.  And His pleasure is derived from His Power, Knowledge, and
Volition.  And His pleasure can become manifest in His action of
rewarding a man for his action while still in this world and also in
the next world.  Another action in which His pleasure can become manifest
is by His placing the love of someone He is pleased with in the hearts
of pious people.

Now to further clarify, you may ask how can pleasure be derived from
Power, Knowledge, and Volition?  The answer is that Allah must necessarily
have *knowledge* of two different states in order to be pleased with
something.  For example, if a person is given the opportunity to help a
needy person, Allah must necessarily have knowledge of two states:  (1)
the state of the person helping the needy and its consequences and (2)
the state of the person not helping the needy and its consequences.  If He
did not have knowledge of these differing states then He could not assign
values to the choices that lead to His pleasure/anger.  Secondly, Allah must
necessarily have power to choose (volition) between being pleased with
someone or being angry at him; otherwise, He could not show pleasure to
selective people and show anger to others.  Thirdly, Allah must necessarily
have Power; otherwise, He could not manifest an action that displays His
pleasure.  [BTW, His Life is a pre-requisite for all of this]

We can issue a similar statement for all other "derived-attributes" of
Allah.  Thus all "derived attributes" can be traced back to one or more of
the thirteen "core intrinsic attributes"


>In GH, you mention that there are more than the core ones listed.

The attributes that are not explicitly mentioned are of two types:

   a) "Derived Attributes" - which as stated above can be broken
      down into one or more "core intrinsic attributes".
   b) "Exclusive Attributes" - these are attributes that Allah has
      not clearly explained in the primary texts through His
      Messengers.  This is why the scholars say, "No one knows Allah
      in reality except Allah Himself."

Reference:
   [DT: volume 1: page(s) 36: line(s) 1-10: {explanation of verses
    14-20, end tanbih 5, explanation of where other attributes like
    "smell" fit in.}]

> Related to the first question, a person suggested to me that if
> Allah's Speech is indivisible, then when Allah spoke to Musa he
> heard 'all' the Speech of Allah, and thus it would mean that Musa
> learned all Allah's knowledge. I know that what this person said is not
> true, so I hope to learn the truth in this matter.

Scholars have differed about the nature of this "taklim".

You can check detailed tafsirs of the ayah 164 of Surah Nisa (wa kallama
musa takliman) and ayah 253 of Surah Baqarah (minhum man kallamahu llah)
for the various opinions given.

As for our own opinion it is that it was without any intermediary (wasitah,
this is what Tafsir Jalalayn says for Nisa 164) and it was
a direct form of giving understanding without letters or sound.
For example, Allah created the knowledge which He wished to
convey directly into the neurons of Musa's mind without the normal
sound/shape to neuron conversion which is carried out with the help
of the sensory organs. This obviously happened a little at a time
successively as is obvious from the dialogue given in the beginning
of Surah Taha.

This would be similar to how if we were to learn how the sensory organs
convey detailed information to the mind, we could interject electrical
signals to the neurons in the human mind which can be understood by the
mind in a way similar to how human speech is understood - although no
time-bound speech in actuality takes place.


> Finally, it was suggested to me that by saying Allah's speech is
> timeless and without sounds or letters is really saying that the
> attribute of Speech is nothing more than His attribute of Knowledge, and
> thus to say that Allah 'spoke' just means that Allah created linguistic
> wordings for those ideas found in His Knowledge; thus Speaking is just
> another form of Creating.

You are correct that saying that Allah has speech is similar to saying
Allah has knowledge. And that His speech (kalam) enters into His knowledge.

This is also true for His hearing (sam`) and (basar), which are also
part of His knowledge.

So you may ask, why do the `Ash`aris engage in such superfluousness?

The answer for "kalam" is to inform people that His knowedge has an aspect
which He conveys to creation (people) and has an aspect which He doesn't
convey to creation (people).

The aspect of His knowledge which He conveys to His creation is called
"kalam".

Similarly, the answer for sam` and basar is that His knowledge has an
aspect that takes form in the physical or metaphysical world and
also has an aspect which does not take form in the physical and
metaphysical worlds.

The aspect of His knowledge which takes form in either the physical
or metaphysical world is called sam` and basar.

Reference(s):
[{Durr Thamin, Sharh Murshid al-Mu`in, explanation of lines 14-20,
explanation of kalam, tanbih 6}]

[As a final note, we are not claiming in the above that Allah does
 not have the separate attributes of kalam, sam`, and basar.  Rather,
 we state that the dictates of His kalam and the objects of His
 sam` and basar are encompassed by His knowledge (`ilm).  And the
 attribute of kalam informs us about His ability to convey this
 knowledge and the attributes of sam` and basar inform us about His
 ability to perceive that which takes form in the physical and
 metaphysical worlds.
 (Reference: Sharh Jawharah al-Tawhid, al-Bayjuri, explanation
  of line 37)]

> I have a question regarding time/space, something from
> nothing, and primary mover argument.
>
> If an aethist philosopher claims that prior to the big-bang creation
> event, there was a "time" where time/space gets fuzzy, that contained
> things called 'true voids' and 'false voids,' neither of which being
> completely empty (i.e there's either some sort of energy...I guess this
> is what they are saying) can we still apply the something from nothing,
> and primary mover arguments to thier logic?

Firstly understand that the mutakallimin do not claim that the Big
Bang was the "first" time space action.  Rather, it could be
one of a series of different creation states.

The mutakallimin claim that if you trace history back far enough
you will find the initial "first" creation event (and this first event/state
may have been in a form that does not resemble the form of our current
universe).

As for the atheist philosopher's argument about fuzzy space-time and
true voids and false voids.  We would say that what they describe
could either (1) experience change and fluctuations or (2) not experience
change but be stable and permanent.

If it can experience change and fluctuation, it proves that it is bound
in time and all things bound in time must have a definite starting
point (refer to the arguments in Song 2).  Thus, these philosophers
would not escape from the infinite regress or never-ending loop
in this situation.

If it cannot experience change and fluctuation, it proves that it has
always been around.  [As its state of not being present is a *fluctuation*
from its state of being present.] And things that have always been around can
never end in time and must be around today (refer to the arguments
in Song 2).  Thus, these atheist philosophers (in this case) have
unknowingly admitted that the universe has a beginningless cause
(who with slightly different characteristics, we refer to as "Allah").

In a previous email you said:
>There was a "first" time-space action and by the introduction of this
> first time-space action, time and space took on a meaning and became
> the domain for His subsequent time-space actions.
> (end quote)
>
> I get the impression from Imam Ghazzali that there is nothing prior to
> this "first" time-space event.

You are correct and primary text proof for this is in Sahih Bukhari and
Bayhaqi in a hadith of `Imran ibn Husayn:

    The Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) said," Allah existed
    and there was nothing with Him."

Also, we have the less-authenticated report in the collection of Jalal
al-Din Suyuti:

   The Prophet said that Allah says:  I was a hidden treasure and I was
   not known [by anybody].  And I loved that I be known.  So, I created
   creation and made Myself known to them.  So, by Me, they gained
   knowledge of Me.

And the rational proof for this is summarized in footnote 152
(section e) of the Guiding Helper Explanatory Notes

> However, if someone is saying that there is a pre-matter/time
> stage(time being tied to matter) with just 'voids' (that are in fact
> containing some sort of energy fluctuations) in some sort of space
> it seems that they think they've gotton out of having to account
> for the prime mover argument.

No, they have gotten out of having to account for the primary mover
argument since you mention above that they are talking about
"energy fluctuations".  Anything that fluctuates is bound in time.
(Refer to what we said at the beginning of this response.)  The only
way that you can claim that something is not bound in time is to
state that it does not fluctuate:  that it is permanent, experiences no
change, has no beginning, and has no end.  Otherwise, it is definitely
bound in time - as time is a measurement of fluctuations of physical
phenomenon.

>I have a more grounded question related to the GH Aqida
> arguments. I have scoured over the books, and looked in
> others as well, and still can't quite figure this one out.
>
> I still have trouble understanding why there is
> logical/rational absurdity involved in a kafir's statement
> that the number of changes in states of an essence is neither
> odd nor even. It seems that odd and even only apply to something
> with a beginning.

The fallacy in his statement is reflective and not immediate.  This
is why even he does not realize it.

The fallacy comes from his assumption that things that have no
beginning can experience change similar to how things that *do*
have a beginning experience change.

The scholars of kalam (with their unidirectional forward-progressing
understanding of time) have proved that:

    a) Things that have no beginning in time must
       necessarily not have an end in time.
       They say "maa thabata qidamuhu, istahaala
       `adamuhu"
    b) Something that has existed forever can never
       experience change.

Thus, the number of states a thing without a
beginning can have is "one". And "one" is an
odd number.

You can refer to the summary of proofs we have noted in
the Guiding Helper Explanatory Notes for Song 2 that
back up these two statements (primarily footnote 138).

> To say that any thing that is possible to count
> must be odd or even, seems to say "since the laws of
> things that begin say that numbers must be odd or even,
> anything countable (even if its infinite) must be odd
> or even." or "it can't be infinite because it doesn't
> conform to the rules of the finite."

The scholars of kalam do not reject the concept of
infinity.  For example, they say that the breaths
that the people of jannah will take will be infinite
(since they will live forever).
Thus, the number of breaths of the people of jannah is
neither odd nor even.

However, the scholars of kalam (with their unidirectional
forward-progressing understanding of time) have stated
that the number of breaths of the people of Jannah
must be finite and either odd or even *up until a
particular instance in time*.

Thus, the scholars of kalam accept forward progressing
infinity but not backward-progressing infinity (except
for things that do not experience change).

References:
   [DT: volume 1: page 42: line(s) 1-28:
    {explanation of verses 24-28 of Murshid,
     proof 2 about Allah's permanence (Baqa')}]

> I once heard that there were 3 points of difference btwn the 'Asharis
> and Imam at-Tahawwi's treatise. Can you tell me what these were?

Sorry we don't have much experience with the Tahawi treatise.  After reviewing
it before, we found that it only differed on a few minor points as it is very
basic and does not delve into extremely complicated subjects.


> (3) During the Mi`raj it is reported that the Prophet sallAllahu aleyhi wa sallam
> saw people in Jannah. How should this be interpreted? Did he saw actual people or
> what exactly? How this should be interpreted?

We believe everything the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) said.
He has stated that he saw certain "servants/maidens" in jannah during his mi`raj who
were prepared for earthly humans who were currently living at that time.  For example,
he states in one of the hadith narrated in the Seerah of Ibn Hisham (in the section of the
Isra' and Mi`raj) that he saw a jariyah (female maiden) prepared for zayd ibn harithah
(his adopted son and former slave).

We believe as a matter of `aqidah that Jannah and Jahannam are currently existing
- and it is possible that they are inhabited by certain non-earthly servants.

We also believe in the Barzakh world (which people go to after they die) and know that
sometimes in this Barzakh world Allah creates so much nice space for the person that
he feels free and is in pleasure and does not feel like he is in a grave.  And at other times,
He narrows the space and darkens it such that the person feels like he is being squeezed
in his grave as a punishment - and sees other things mentioned in hadith such as scorpions,
worms, insects, and snakes..

Reference(s):
    Sharh Jawharah al-Tawhid, Ibrahim al-Bayjuri, Explanation for lines 74, 88,
    96, and 118

[Another important point here is the `Ash`ari opinion about the Isra and Mi`raj is
  that it happened in both body and soul as is stated in footnote 222, section (25) of
  the Explanatory Notes of the Guiding Helper:

  Reference:
     Ibrahim al-Bayjuri states in the sharh for verse 74 "And believe in the Mi`raj of the Prophet as
      the hadith/tafsir/seerah scholars have narrated":

    And the truth about the Isra and Mi`raj is that it was with both body and soul
    as the scholars of the second Islamic century concluded with Ijma`.  However,
    some scholars of the first Islamic century differed about this [you can see the
    Seerah of Ibn Hisham about some vague hadith narrations which misled a few
    scholars of the first century into thinking that the Isra and Mi`raj happened in soul
    only without body - and then there was unanimous agreement after joining between
    all of the reports that it was both in soul and body for our blessed Prophet (May
    Allah bless him and give him peace).]



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