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Ibn Taymiyyah on the Path of Ahl al-Kalaam in Establishing a Creator Upon the Principle of the 'Impossibility of an Infinite history of Past Events' and Its Implications and Consequences
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said in Mas'alah Huduth al-Aalam (pp. 50-52):
For this reason, the smart ones from the people of investigation and speech (in this matter) acknowledged that the origination of the heavens does not require the intellect (for it to be established). And on account of this they criticised the path of many of the Mu'tazilah and whoever followed them like Abu al-Mu'aalee and his followers in that they made knowledge of the Creator to rest upon knowledge of the origination of the universe, and knowledge of the origiation of the universe to rest upon knowledge of the origination of bodies (making up the universe)... Then amongst them were those who became aware that it was necessary to explain the impossibility of an infinite history of past events and this is the most important of preliminary principles of this proof (of demonstrating the universe is originated). So he argued for this by way of the argument of al-musaamatah and al-muwaazaah [a practical illustration involving distance to show 'the impossibility of the infinite' used by Fakhr al-Razi] and its likes from the examples struck to show the impossibility of that.
Part and parcel of using this method involves the use of practical illustrations to show the absurdity and impossibility of the notion of the "infinite" as this is tied to the preliminary principle of the impossibility of an endless chain of events in the past required for this proof. The Mutakallimoon advanced such examples to argue for this particular principle. As for the saying of Shaykh al-Islaam, "For this reason, the smart ones from the people of investigation and speech (in this matter) acknowledged that the origination of the heavens does not require the intellect (for it to be established)" then the use of the word "intellect" here is referring to the kalam arguments of the Mutakallimeen. For many of the shrewd ones from the Ahl al-Kalaam actually realized that there are other routes and ways that establish the universe is originated and man has a creator (besides the way of hudooth al-ajsaam). It should not be taken to mean that reason (intellect, aql) is not to be used to establish the origination of the universe. Rather, it means that establishing the origination of the universe is not dependent and restricted to only the method used by Ahl al-Kalaam, a method they made synonymous with "reason" (aql, intellect). For the ways of establishing a creator are very many indeed.
And Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari has indicated in his Risaalah ilaa Ahl al-Thughar that this is an innovated proof in the religion, none of the Prophets or the Messengers used it and nor (any of) the Companions and Successors.
This proof with its preliminary premise is the starting point of many logical and rational necessities (after much wrangling and disputation) that eventually leads the person who holds onto it and argues by way of it to the necessity of denying the major symbols of Islamic belief. At the beginning these people do not actually realize this, but as they wallow further and further, and as counter-arguments come against this flawed proof (from atheists and materialists), because they have committed to using this argument to prove Allaah exists, they cannot turn back, and so over the passing of time it is either admit defeat in that the proof is flawed (and can equally be used to prove the universe is eternal), or start eroding your belief in order to accommodate this flawed proof and start describing the "cause" (deity) you have identified through this proof with language that gravitates towards non-existence.
And on account of it [the proof incorporating the principle of an the impossibility of an infinite history of past events] did those Philosophers become empowered [and unleashed] upon the people of the religion (of Islaam) when they saw this proof which they (the Mutakallimeen) made to be from the foundation of all foundations of their religion and they saw what it contained of confusion (inconsistency).
I have read numerous academic papers in rebuttal of this proof and its preliminary premise and it is clear that these atheists and philosophers are raising issues (in much more technical scientific language) that were raised many long centuries ago and its essentially a repeat of the battles of al-Farabee, Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Haytham and others against the Mutakallimeen who were using flawed, corrupted goods. And these authors argue quite well, that assuming these premises, the proof demonstrates the universe is eternal and an 'act of creation' having taken place is impossible. Thus, these ignoramuses present today are shaping and taking the da'wah in a certain direction with their da'wah bandwagon and media circus and are drawing the common masses into such matters, encouraging them to argue using these corrupt tools, and they make spectacles of their encounters and debates with the prominent atheists and philosophers, making the average masses think this is a praiseworthy thing and drawing them into this culture. All of this is from jahl (ignorance), and it is the starting point of misguidance for many, the while it is clothed as 'the lofty and noble activity of giving da'wah.'
Then they (the Mutakallimeen) made it obligatory upon the servant after he reached maturity as a believer in Allaah and His Messenger to [start off from the position of] doubt (al-shakk), or to intend [to study this proof] (al-qasd) or to make an investigation (al-nadhar) which (assumes) negation of (prior) knowledge (of a creator).
Some of the people of kalaam began to make this proof obligatory and a requirement for a person's faith to be valid until some of them began to say that a person must start off with the position of doubt (in Allaah's existence) and others said he must start off with inspection and investigation (that assumes negation of prior knowledge) with a view to ascertaining Allaah's existence. By making these claims, they erred in a matter of legislative ruling similar to how they erred in a matter of reason and intellect (with their corrupt, flawed proof). What is meant here is that the first obligation upon a mukallaf (legally bound person who has reached maturity) is to simply affirm his faith in Allaah (and His Messenger) and this is a matter already rooted in the fitrah and does not require aql (reason). So the Mutakallimeen deviated from this and essentially made it a legal ruling that a person must affirm this faith through reason through demonstration of this particular proof. As a result, just like they erred in reason (aql) in terms of their flawed corrupt proof, they also erred in legislation.
Muslims should take caution of da'wah bandwagons and media circuses that are operating on the streets, the web and on the tube and drawing them into a 'debate culture' and teaching the art and style of debate as part of da'wah, much of which is derived from the ways and paths of the condemned Ahl al-Kalaam. While the goals may be lofty and intentions sincere, this is precisely what deceived and led many a person into confusion, doubt, misguidance and deviation. We advise all Muslims not to waste their time in this 'edutainment.' Instead they should use their already limited time to study and learn the aqidah of the Salaf in-depth by studying the books of the Salaf and pursuing Scholars whose explanations of these works can help them become grounded in the aqidah, manhaj and da'wah of the Salaf, distinguishing between that and the principles, foundations, doctrines, ways and methodologies of Ahl al-Kalaam and their likes. Further, Muslims should not buy the propaganda that Lawrence Krauss, sam harris, Christopher Hitchens and richard dawkins are more dangerous to the Muslims than the likes of Abu Yusuf Riyadh al-Baatil (Sufi Ash'ari), Afroz Ali (Sufi Ash'ari), Imran Hosein and other innovators and deviants alongside whom Hamza Tzortzis or his associates from iERA are sometimes invited to speak in the same conference, seminar or platform (see here). This is because belief in a creator is fitriyy, dhurooriyy, you will hardly find a Muslim on the earth who will succumb to a doubt in this regard, except as Allaah wills. However, these people and their innovated methodologies in da'wah (organized public debates) open up the doors for the likes of them (the atheists) to enter upon the Muslims with their doubts in order to undermine the fitrah. Had they not opened this door, those atheists would have been left on their own, and Muslims did not pay any attention to them, or give worth their to views or opinions in the first place. In no way does this mean that their doubts cannot and must not be addressed, they can be addressed, but certainly not by these types of people whom we are discussing in these articles whose actions bring harm upon the Muslims, and through ways and means other than the innovated blameworthy ones used by these people.
And such as the People of Innovation among the people of the [innovated] sayings that oppose the Book and the Sunnah or the acts of worship opposing the Book and the Sunnah - for exposing their condition and warning the Ummah about them is obligatory by unanimous agreement of the Muslims - until it was said to Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal: "Is it more loved to you that a man fasts, prays and peforms tawaaf or that he speaks about the People of Innovation [i.e. exposes them and warns about them]?" He replied: "When he stands, prays and performs tawaaf that is for himself but when he talks about the People of Innovation then that is for the Muslims and this is more excellent." So he explained that the benefit of this is for the Muslims in general - for [the protection of] their religion - and it is a form or Jihaad in the Path of Allaah because the purification of the Path of Allaah, His Deen, His Minhaaj (methodology) and His Sharee'ah, repelling the oppressors and having enmity towards them is obligatory with kifaayah. And if it had not been for the one whom Allaah had made to undertake this duty of repelling the harms of these people the Deen would have been corrupted and destroyed. And this corruption is greater than the corruption resulting from the domination of the enemies - amongst the people who fight against the Muslims (i.e. disbelievers) - and this is because these people (the disbelievers) when they dominate and conquer the Muslims, do not corrupt the hearts or whatever faith is contained within them except as a consequence, after time. As for these (the People of Innovation) then they corrupt the hearts right from the very beginning.
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