A few days ago Hamza Tzortzis published a paper in relation to the Qur'an and 'scientific miracles' in which he makes a fairly significant turn from the prior direction taken by him (and his da'wah organization). This was after a long history of debates and wranglings with certain atheists who dedicated their time and effort to refute him. We certainly do not side with these atheists. However, the reality is that Hamza Tzortzis opened the door for these atheists to attack the integrity of Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) by speaking without knowledge and generally exceeding the bounds in the course and direction of debate and da'wah. Further, he is not upon and has never been upon the way of the Salaf as his da'wah is largely a combination of falsafah and kalaam and involves a type of debating that clashes with the manhaj of the Salaf. A person of kalam can never be a person of the Sunnah as the Salaf have said. In fact, as he reveals himself on his website, he is a former member of Hizb al-Tahrir (hence, the kalam, falsafah and debate culture makes sense). Those who become engrossed in this type of polemic will have their hearts subject to doubts (shubuhaat). It should be pointed out here that the vast majority of people who go astray have a large amount of truth with them, and had that not been the case, they would not have been convinced of their own correctness, and been listened to and followed by thousands. This is the nature of deviation, its reality is veiled by the large amount of truth accompanying it. And no doubt when these debates take place between apologetic Muslims and atheists, the Muslims have with them a fair share of truth and much of the argumentation used is valid and sound. But this is where the great danger lies in that the small, but potentially very dangerous and destructive falsehood, becomes hard to identify for the uninformed naive listener. In this series we will highlight some of the mistakes in aqidah and manhaj of Hamza Tzortzis - and these matters are open and public and distributed on the tube, blogs and websites. In this first article, we start with some brief introductory remarks.
When a person researches into the reasons behind the emergence of innovated beliefs and ideas into the deen of Islam, he will find that the origins of these beliefs and ideas actually lie with six nations: the Christians, Jews, Persians, Greeks, Hindus and Sabeans. In many cases, these deviations entered by way of people who might have been sincere in their acceptance of Islam, but they carried their prior baggage into it and following discussions, debates and dialogues, they poisoned other Muslims and won audiences. Because they did not pursue and take knowledge from the Imaams of the Sunnah, traversing upon the way of the Companions and their successors in aqidah and manhaj (as a result of which their prior baggage would have been neutralized), they became effectively responsible for the flow of these ideas that turned into the major innovations against which the Salaf stood to author books for centuries afterwards.
For numerous years, I have made repeated warnings (in lessons, lectures and in private discussions) against the polemics of Hamza Tzortzis who is a Greek convert to Islam. From the very outset, listening to a few of his lectures, his general ignorance in matters of creed and methodology, his heavy philosophical and kalam-based rhetoric, his following and tailoring the arguments of Christian apologetics such as William Lane-Craig (who simply went to the books of the Mu'tazilah and Ash'aris) and his lectures being full of citations from this philosopher and that philosopher, it was clear that this orientation (and the individual behind it) is one that will do damage to the Eemaan of innocent and naive Muslims who may jump behind this da'wah bandwagon not founded or rooted upon the methodologies of Ahl al-Sunnah - since these types of planned and organized open debates have no place in the manhaj of Ahl al-Sunnah - rather they are a means of giving the Malaahidah and Zanaadiqah access to the ears, hearts and minds of Muslims.
Hamza Tzortzis was pushing the kalam cosmological argument which he took from William Lane Craig, a Christian apologetic, who himself had gone to the books of the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah and reformulated the kalam argument. Its not ironic that one of those smart atheists aptly remarked, "Hamza Tzortzis, the muslim version of William Lame Craig." The kalam argument is flawed and corrupt, not in all of its premises, but in its formulation and validation it relies on a claim that formed the greatest principle of al-Jahm bin Safwan, upon which much of his misguidance rested, the claim of the impossibility of an infinite chain of events (إمتناع الحوادث لا أول لها). Hamza Tzortzis has been using this argument (and in particular a certain premise underlying it) because he is ignorant, has not studied the early books of aqidah, and thus does not fathom long-term logical consequences of the argument he is employing. Now in all fairness, it is not right to accuse him of being from the Jahmiyyah or Mu'tazilah (who outright denied the attributes) and holding their doctrines, as he is clearly not upon this, but the path taken is one that would lead him (and his followers) in that direction over time, if they stuck to all the logical necessities and requirements of their argument. Indeed as we shall see in a later article, this type of polemic has already forced them in that direction. This simply shows the intellectual confusion of people like Hamza Tzortzis who do not recognize the inherent conflicts present between what they profess with respect to their belief in Allaah (as in His attributes and actions), and the philosophical methods they use as part of their polemics, which when taken through to their full logical conclusions and necessities in order to maintain congruence, would eventually require them (or force them) to deny what they currently affirm.
ʿAbd al-Raḥmān bin Mahdī said as occurs in Dhamm ul-Kalām wa Ahlihī of Abu Ismāʿīl al-Harawī (4/225):
Whoever sought kalām, his final affair will be heresy (zandaqah).
And Ibn Abī Ḥātim said as occurs in Dhamm ul-Kalām wa Ahlihī of Abu Ismāʿīl al-Harawī (4/383):
My father (Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī) and Abū Zurʿah (al-Rāzī) used to say, "Whoever sought religion with kalām, will go astray."
Many shrewd and intelligent non-Muslim's (atheists, agnostics) have pounded Hamza Tzortzis and his associates in ways that are reminiscent of how a thousand years ago shrewd kafirs like Ibn Sina ran circles around the Mutakallimeen, despite them being closer to the truth than he (Ibn Sina) ever was. The debates we see taking place today between neo-kalam theologists and atheists are nothing new. The same arguments are going back and forth except that they have a higher level of sophistication and detail due to the higher level scientific language used. In reading many of the refutations written by atheists against the likes of Hamza Tzortzis (and William Lane Craig), there are strong parallels to the debates of old between the Mutakallimeen and the Mutafalsifah, which eventually led some of the Mutakallimeen to express their doubt, and consider the proofs for the eternity of the universe and its origination to be of equal strength! This was the consequence of relying upon flawed goods, and then adamantly trying to defend those flawed goods...
Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah) stated as related by Ibn Battah in Kitab al-Ibanah (2/539):
Whoever loves kalām, it will not leave his heart, and you will never see a person of kalām prosper. The love of kalām never leaves the heart of the person of kalām, verily he will not prosper. Every time he speaks with an innovated matter, his soul will lead him to defend it.
Further, Hamza Tzortzis has resorted to dishonesty when unable to remove himself from sticky situations in debate (examples of which will follow inshaa'Allah) and because of his ignorance of matters of al-Qadaa wal-qadar and al-hikmah and al-adl in Allaah's actions, he has been completely owned by the atheists when they made him face certain (moral) dilemmas in the course of debate, not being wise to their crafty methods and real objectives. An illustration of that will follow too inshaa'Allaah. In addition, he spouts the nonsense of the Ikhwanis and Takfiris in his discussion of political matters (a matter he is not qualified to speak in in any sense of the word). In the issue of embryology he was making words in Qur'anic verses to bear meanings that they do not carry, that led the atheists to pounce on him with ferocity. And there is much much more...
How excellent is the speech of Imaam Al-barbahaaree in Sharh al-Sunnah:
Know that there was never any heresy, disbelief, doubts, innovation or misguidance or confusion (bewilderment) in the religion except through kalaam, the people of kalaam, argumentation, disputation, wrangling (in debate) and self-amazement.
So the first matter we are going to address is his kalam theology in his debates with atheists and philosophers and this we can tackle in the next article to follow inshaa'Allaah.
Note: In no sense can it be understood that pointing out the erroneous path of people like Hamza Tzortzis and the danger they pose to Muslims in terms of their Eemaan is tantamount to aiding atheists and agnostics against Muslims. This is foolishness, and as Shaykh Salih al-Shaykh mentions when addressing this doubt as to why do Ahl al-Sunnah focus more on Ahl al-Bid'ah than they do the atheists and philosophers, he said that the Salaf were also in this situation, but they saw that the greater and immediate danger were Ahl al-Bid'ah (Ahl al-Kalaam in that time) and not the atheists and philosophers, and thus they dedicated their time against Ahl al-Bid'ah for the reason that preservation of the capital (of Islam and Sunnah) from internal ruin comes before seeking increase and growth from what is external. Hence, the danger in the methodological mistakes of people like Hamza Tzortzis far exceeds the danger of Lawrence Krauss, richard dawkins or Paul Myers and their likes, since the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not hold any trust in their opinion or view. But people like Hamza Tzortzis depart from the methodologies of the Book, the Sunnah and the Salaf, and they incorporate terminologies and conceptual baggage of the very people (atheists) they are debating in the course of their debates. When they enter into blameworthy debates and exceed the bounds (and are often not academically honest), the field is then opened for the atheists to spread shubuhaat which would not have arisen had individuals like Hamza Tzortzis not taken this path. The result is that people (Muslims or non-Muslims) who come to get their thirst quenched, never receive it, and in many cases they became even more thirstier (and sicker). People like Hamza Tzortzis did not possess the water to remove that thirst in the first place, all they have is rhetoric, polemics and the baggage of falsafah and kalaam. So warning from the likes of these people and their mistakes and their exceeding the bounds is a must and in it is protection for the Muslims, as well as pure mercy and compassion for those being spoken against.