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Open Thread Sunday 3/16

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assalamalaikum everyone

We are going to start our first Open Thread today. If you are into blogging, you know what that means. If you aren’t, all this means is that you are free to say whatever you want, about whatever topic you wish. Of course, all conversations have to comply with our house-rules. Also, feel free to add links to your own works, or other useful material.

So, what’s on your mind today? Pakistan’s bomb-attacks, an upcoming conference in New York (hint, hint), the gas prices, elections?

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P.S. If this works out, we can have it every week on Sunday or move it to a weekday. Feel free to comment on that too.

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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Amad

    March 16, 2008 at 11:47 AM

    I’ll start…

    the bomb-attacks in Pakistan are sickening. Whoever is behind are a bunch of sick individuals. I was in restaurant in Islamabad about 2 months ago, not far away from this Italian diner, so this hit me kind of “close to home”.

    WHAT do these sick **choicy word** gain by this? Except the wrath of the nation and helping provide another source of propaganda for Islamophobes. If ANYONE says that there is an Islamic justification for this, then I’d like to ask this person how forgiving he would be if his sister, brother, wife, child or parent was enjoying a dinner at the restaurant before being blown away? There is no occupation in Pakistan, these civilians are not involved with any direct or indirect attack in any of the trouble regions… what then is these TERRORISTS’ PROBLEM?? They are plain cowards, if you want to know the truth.

  2. Hid

    March 16, 2008 at 11:59 AM

    ILMFEST in NYYYYYYYY- YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY…..who is coming?

  3. pathseeker

    March 16, 2008 at 12:31 PM

    An interesting article in the NYT magazine about why Shariah would make sense from a socio-political standpoint for muslim countries, and for a change, does not demonize the concept (although simplifies it greatly, which leads to some factual error) the way that usually happens in the press. If not for the facts, the article is worth a read just to see a little much-needed, dare I say almost positive, attitude, toward an islamic concept.

    NY Times article

  4. amad

    March 16, 2008 at 1:55 PM

    yes inshallah, i most likely am coming to the ilmfest.. seems like an incredible event.

    can you provide some details and a link for registration?

  5. Nihal Khan

    March 16, 2008 at 2:55 PM

    http://www.almaghrib.org to register….

    facebook the event…type “ILMFEST” in the search bar…all the event details will be there…

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=7746864115

  6. Ahmad AlFarsi

    March 16, 2008 at 3:50 PM

    InshaAllah, I will also be attending the Ilm Festival. :)

  7. Charles

    March 16, 2008 at 5:24 PM

    I’m reading “Islam” (page 92) by Fazlur Rahman, in which he wrote that according to al-Ashari and orthodox Islam,

    1. The attributes of Allah “are neither identical with His Essence nor different from it.”
    2. “God’s Speech is eternal and uncreated.”

    Question #1: How can something be logically and simultaneously “different from” yet not “identical”?

    Question #2: Only the Creator is uncreated. All else is created. Why isn’t #2 considered shirk?

  8. Amad

    March 16, 2008 at 6:04 PM

    Br. Charles, for #2: Allah, the Creator, and ALL of His Attributes, which includes His speech, His Seeing, His Hearing… are uncreated. They are not his creation. His Speech is not His creation, it His Attributes and thus eternal and uncreated. That is why, by ijma (consensus), the Quran is the speech of Allah, and thus eternal and not a creation.

    The first people who deviated from this were the Mu’tazilah who called Quran a creation, for some of the misunderstanding you alluded to. But this opinion was deviant according to what the rest of the Ummah agreed upon.

    This is what Imam Ahmad kept uttering:

    al-Quran Kalamullah Ghayr Makhluq

    The Quran (which is composed of letters) IS Allah’s Speech, which is NOT created.

  9. Muslimah

    March 16, 2008 at 6:48 PM

    Assalaamu alaykum;

    “Only the Creator is uncreated. All else is created.” — It would seem you think Allah’s attributes exist outside of Allah – that they are not a “part” of Allah.

    Just to add to brother Amad’s point: All of Allah’s attributes (mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah) which includes His Knowledge, His Seeing, His Speech, etc. are uncreated. But what does it mean to be created? Essentially, it means for something not to have existed and then to come into existence. Therefore, to claim Allah’s attributes, be they Speech, Hearing, etc. are created would be to claim, for example, that Allah was not All-Knowledgeable at one point in time and then became Knowledgeable.

    As for a direct proof for your question regarding whether to say Allah’s Speech (which you assumed was but is not created) we have the supplication of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam: ‘I take refuge in Allaah’s perfect words from the evil He has created.’ If the Speech of Allah was created, then the prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam would not have sought refuge in it. Therefore, we affirm, as Allah affirmed in Qur’an, that Allah indeed speaks. But just as is the case with His other attributes, we affirm the meaning of the word (e.g. speak, life, etc) but we do not ask nor do we know “how” Allah speaks or “how” Allah hears, etc. In other words, we understand the concept of “speech” and affirm that Allah does speak without delving into “how” this occurs.

    Perhaps that’s why you thought it was shirk, because you thought to claim Allah speaks would be to claim He speaks in the human fashion (with lungs, vocal chords, lips, etc)? Wa lillahi mathalul ‘ala. If you’re interested in finding out more about this topic Greg, I would suggest you take the Light Upon Light (Aqeedah 102) AlMaghrib Institute seminar where this topic and others relating to Allah’s Names and Attribuets are covered in much depth. In sha Allah, you can find out more here: http://www.almaghrib.org/seminar_lul.php.

    Some other supplication whereby the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon Him, seeks refuge in the Words (Speech) of Allah:
    http://www.makedua.com/display_dua.php?sectionid=30
    http://www.makedua.com/display_dua.php?sectionid=44

    If I’ve erred, please do correct me.

  10. Charles

    March 16, 2008 at 6:48 PM

    But if you have more than one entity that is not created, isn’t that the same as associating partners with Allah? If not, could you explain? Thanks.

  11. Muslimah

    March 16, 2008 at 6:52 PM

    ^^ Subhan Allah, it certainly did not look as lengthy when I typed that response in gmail.

    I think a bi-monthly open thread on MM would be awesome!

    Bi ithnillah, I’ll have to think up some juicy questions to ask.

  12. Ammar Diwan

    March 16, 2008 at 6:53 PM

    @ Amad: Will this end up as another Ashari-Athari debate? We should avoid those here, no?

    @ Charles: It’s best if you just read articles regarding this topic…I don’t know if I’m allowed to post resources, but they would be more beneficial

  13. Amad

    March 16, 2008 at 7:00 PM

    When I was looking for proofs on the uncreatedness of Allah’s speech, I found more on Ashari sites than Athari… so I don’t think that there is difference of opinion on this aspect, is there?

    Now, I know that there is difference on what constitutes Allah’s speech. That’s why I didn’t go there because Br. Charles’s question relates to whether speech itself is created or uncreated. I believe that is something which is really uncontroversial for most of the Ummah, agree Br. Ammar?

    And that is why I also avoided adding links because most of them pointed to other aspects.

    To continue,
    Br. Charles: no one is saying that more than one entity is uncreated. Allah’s ONE entity includes different things including Himself subhanawa ta’ala, and His Attributes. So, just like we don’t separate His Hand, etc. (attributes that He has given Himself), away from Him as a separate entity, similarly we don’t consider His Speech, Hearing, etc. as separate entities.

    As far as MM is concerned, the link to “Creed” at the top (top menu) sums up our positions.

    w/s

  14. Dawud Israel

    March 16, 2008 at 7:09 PM

    Sh. Khalid Yasin talking about how copyright infringement is damaging his Dawah:

    http://muslimology.wordpress.com/2008/03/16/shaykh-khalid-yasin-on-copyright-infringement/

  15. Ammar Diwan

    March 16, 2008 at 7:25 PM

    @ Amad: It depends on what you mean by “Qur’an,” is it the physical mushaf, the words you recite, the words themselves, etc…?

    The Kalam/speech of Allah is uncreated. The collection of pieces of paper you hold in your hand is created. When you say ‘Qur’an’ it refers to the Kalam of Allah, which is uncreated. The physical book is called Mushaf.

    As one brother put it: “Our reciting the Qur’an is created, the words on the pages of the mushaf are created, our reading those words is created, our listening to the sound of the Qur’an being recited is created — but the Qur’an itself is not created.”

    As far as I know, there is no difference of opinion with the Ashari school, and this is the official position

    This is a really really fine point of theology which most people do not need to worry about.

  16. Ammar Diwan

    March 16, 2008 at 7:33 PM

    @ Amad:
    To answer your questions:

    “When I was looking for proofs on the uncreatedness of Allah’s speech, I found more on Ashari sites than Athari… so I don’t think that there is difference of opinion on this aspect, is there?”

    No, there is no difference of opinion on this aspect

    “Now, I know that there is difference on what constitutes Allah’s speech. That’s why I didn’t go there because Br. Charles’s question relates to whether speech itself is created or uncreated. I believe that is something which is really uncontroversial for most of the Ummah, agree Br. Ammar?”

    Agreed

  17. Amad

    March 16, 2008 at 7:50 PM

    jazakallahkhair

    I like the quote you mentioned in your previous comment… its very appropriate and covers many bases mashallah.

    Dawud points to a very important speech on the issue of copyrights. Unfortunately, it is very widespread and Muslims don’t even feel its wrong to steal someone’s effort and work.

  18. Ammar Diwan

    March 16, 2008 at 8:41 PM

    Alhamdulillah…the speech by Khalid Yasin was very eye-opening.

    I must mention, even the position that permits breaking the copyright laws is for normal circumstances. When there is undue harm occurring, I’m sure there is no disagreement that copyright laws cannot be broken, especially if the Law of the Land forbids breaking them.

  19. Ammar Diwan

    March 16, 2008 at 8:55 PM

    I was wondering if there are some sites that MM can recommend for QA fiqh questions…or is this more of a private matter? Seeing as how there is a creed section, maybe there should be one for fiqh?

  20. Flanstein

    March 16, 2008 at 8:57 PM

    “In the Qur’an, God granted the Land of Israel to the Children of Israel and ordered them to settle therein (Qur’an, Sura 5:21) and that before the Last Day He will bring the Children of Israel to retake possession of their Land, gathering them from different countries and nations (Qu’ran, Sura 17:104). Consequently, as a Muslim who abides by the Qur’an, I believe that opposing the existence of the State of Israel means opposing a Divine decree”. – Sheik Abdul Paleizo

  21. Amad

    March 16, 2008 at 9:21 PM

    Oh yeah, Abdul Hadi Pallazi, the famous kook who represents official Muslim position as much as these Orthodox Jews represent the Zionist position

    Of course, the Zio-cons love kooks such as Pallazi, Zuhdi Jasser, Kamal Nawash… who are the “uncle toms” of muslim society.

    Thanks, but no thanks. Try again next time.

    Allah did grant Israel to the Children of Israel, until their own disobedience made them unworthy of the holy lands. That’s the part of Islam that Mr. Pizzeria missed.

  22. Amad

    March 16, 2008 at 9:25 PM

    Ammar, with respect to a fiqh site, we like islamtoday.com. And for fiqh al-ibadah and tahara type issues, Islamqa.com is also good mashallah.

    But its tough to pick up fatwas from any Q&A site and apply it to all situations for Muslims in the West… its almost like we need a fiqh of minorities type Q&A site with Shayookh who reside or have lived in the West.

    Oh, I should mention AMJA online. Mashallah they are doing a very good job.

    wallahualam.

    P.S. I don’t speak for every staffer on MM, but I think many of us would agree with the statements.

  23. Ammar Diwan

    March 16, 2008 at 9:54 PM

    Alhamdulillah it seems that islamtoday.com take the situation in the West into account for the most part. Also, there are many questions on almaghrib’s old QA archive that might be of benefit. However, the section was closed a few years ago, so there won’t be any new questions.

  24. Siraaj Muhammad

    March 16, 2008 at 11:31 PM

    I had breakfast with Shaykh Yasir today in Chicago. We had a great time (with 8 other brothers too). Saqib (guest writer) has pics – ask him for more details :)

    Siraaj

  25. SaqibSaab

    March 17, 2008 at 12:15 AM

    The food was VERY good alumdulillah. Shaykh Yasir (specialist writer) can attest to the Chilaquiles – ask him for more details :)

    Saqib

  26. Ammar Diwan

    March 17, 2008 at 2:09 AM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n7kmHmxF3Y

    Forgive me if that’s against the rules…quite hilarious yet true

  27. Charles

    March 17, 2008 at 6:05 AM

    If you can recommend sources on the nature of Allah’s speech, I would appreciate it.

    Although this may be a fine point of little significance for most Muslims, the words, phrases, and explanations so far given to explain this point do not differ from how Christians explain the Trinity.

  28. Manas Shaikh

    March 17, 2008 at 6:47 AM

    I read this: http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/e/2676/

    The problem is big. In brief, the point is- if Muslims root for Obama, that will be used as proof against Obama by McCain group. We rooting for him will only hurt his chances. (For now, it will change IA.)

    Therefore, it may be counterproductive to root for Obama. I think we should, instead, point out the shortcomings of McCain and his group. (I remember a wise man saying “I see you have lied about me, but I seem to believe what you say about others.” We did not lie about anybody nor did we invade any country, but nevertheless we are the bad guys.)

    Rooting for saner candidates like Ron Paul, or Ralph Nader (don’t know much about him, but he seems sane).

  29. Manas Shaikh

    March 17, 2008 at 6:51 AM

    sorry, the last para should read

    *Rooting for saner candidates like Ron Paul, or Ralph Nader (don’t know much about him, is he sane?) is another option for those who *need to* root for somebody.

    That will get people conditioned to accept dialog and peace.

  30. Manas Shaikh

    March 17, 2008 at 9:22 AM

    Pathseeker

    JAK for the NYTimes link. The most important part is, I guess, to ensure that the rulers are subject to law. Which is very tricky- but must be done in order for a just state to operate. I remember what Abu Bakr said on being elected the Caliph.

    How does one do that?

  31. Muslimah

    March 17, 2008 at 6:23 PM

    “Although this may be a fine point of little significance for most Muslims, the words, phrases, and explanations so far given to explain this point do not differ from how Christians explain the Trinity.” — Charles, I can see why you think this to be the case. You have misunderstood br. Amad’s post.

    At this point, I don’t imagine it would be fruitful to reiterate how Allah’s Attributes are eternal (although it makes perfect sense). Let’s analyse the issue from a different angle. Can Allah’s speech be created?

    If you think about it, our (human) speech is created, just as we are created by Allah. Which is why br. Ammar Diwan’s quote reads, “our reciting the Qur’an is created…” because Muslims recite the Qur’an with their voice (which is a creation of Allah as already mentioned). Our speech isn’t eternal… how could it be?

    To be mortal is to be temporal in every aspect. Our speech is a part of us. In other words, if we are temporal so too is our speech. And the same is true of Allah ta’ala (wa lillahi mathalul ‘ala). This scenario cannot possibly be likened to the explanations offered for the Trinity.

    To belive in the Trinity, is to believe God exits outside of “Himself” in human form (reference to son, no need to get into Holy Ghost). But just as my speech does not exist without myself, Allah’s Attributes do not exist outside of Allah (and to Allah belongs the best description). In fact, to describe me without my speech would be to present an inaccurate/partial portrait of my person.

    Now that we understand that Allah’s speech (and other Attributes) is *not* a seperate entity, it only follows that since Allah is Eternal, His Attributes are also Eternal. It would be entirely nonsensical to claim they are created.

    Again Charles, if you can take the Light Upon Light course offered by the AlMaghrib Institute, I would greatly recommend it. Perhaps br. Amad or someone else can provide links or book titles for you to read further on this topic.

    If I have erred, please do correct me.

  32. Hid

    March 17, 2008 at 6:29 PM

    btw, Light Upon Light is coming to NY in April, so dont miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Charles =)

  33. Muslimah

    March 17, 2008 at 6:39 PM

    Bismillah.

    I was recently engaged in conversation with a non-Muslim lawyer. Somehow or other, we came to discuss an issue under Canadian law. If a person has conspired with others to commit an illegal act and while carrying out that act, someone from the group causes the death of an innocent person, are all those who executed the crime responsible for the death of that innocent…or just the person who caused their death directly?

    E.g. 3 people commit an armed robbery, but don’t agree to kill anyone (they’re still carrying loaded weapons) but one from the group ends up doing so. Should all 3 be charged for culpable homicide on top of other applicable charges or just the person who comitted the murder? (Note: According to the non-Muslim lawyer, under Canadian law, all 3 would be charged for the murder.)

    I was hesitant to offer my own opinion. I wanted to know the shar’i stance first. Does anyone know what it is (please provide proofs)?

    PS: I’m not a blogger so I wonder if we can still post in the Open Thread outside of Sunday?

  34. Um Abdullah M.

    March 17, 2008 at 7:50 PM

    assalamu alaykum

    ok, I haven’t read all the posts, so if anyone responded to it, plz excuse me.

    This is in reply to brother Amad’s question regarding Ash’aris belief in the Quran.

    @Amad
    While Ash’aris believe that Allah’s speech (an=nafsi) is uncreated, and the Quran that Allah spoke in the azal (from eternity) is uncreated, they believe that the Quran that Jibreel came down with to Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, written in the mushaf, and recited by us, is created.

    They believe that it is a hikayah ‘an Allah ( not sure how to translate that, if someone could help me?)

    I am not talking about the ink and paper, I am talking about the words that we recite.

    like when I say “Qul huwwal-lahu Ahad”… we believe that the WORDS I recited is Quran that is Allah’s speech uncreated, while MY RECITATION of the words is created of course, but the WORDS are Allah’s and uncreated.
    while Ash’aris believe it is not Allah’s speech and is created.
    They believe it is hikayah ‘an Allah (narrating from Allah…is that correct translation?)

  35. Muslimah

    March 17, 2008 at 8:35 PM

    “While Ash’aris believe that Allah’s speech (an=nafsi) is uncreated, and the Quran that Allah spoke in the azal (from eternity) is uncreated, they believe that the Quran that Jibreel came down with to Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, written in the mushaf, and recited by us, is created.” — What you mean is that the Ashaa’irah believe that the Arabic letters/ words which constitute the Qur’an is a *created expression* of the *uncreated meaning* which exists within Allah and which cannot be understood by humans (alhamdulillah, we just had Ulumul Qur’an with Sh. Yasir in Toronto).

    “Now, I know that there is difference on what constitutes Allah’s speech. That’s why I didn’t go there because Br. Charles’s question relates to whether speech itself is created or uncreated.” — For the most part, commentators purposefully avoided delving into what comprises the Speech of Allah. As was mentioned, there’s no need to get into this because Asharis and most other Muslims believe the Speech of Allah is eternal (the issue at hand).

  36. Ammar Diwan

    March 17, 2008 at 8:37 PM

    As long as the comments haven’t been closed, you can post

  37. Ammar Diwan

    March 17, 2008 at 8:56 PM

    I posted in the wrong place, my apologies

    -_-”

  38. Ammar Diwan

    March 17, 2008 at 9:11 PM

    @ Um Abdullah M: I posted the Ashari position earlier in the thread. What you said seems to be accurate

  39. Charles

    March 18, 2008 at 10:22 AM

    Muslimah, thanks for the response. I think the problem arose for me for two reasons: one is the similarity with Christian arguments and the other is the unexamined nature of Allah’s speech and attributes.

    The Quran speaks of the “hand of Allah” and the “face of Allah.” Allah is infinitely beyond such human characteristics. However, because it is impossible for humans to comprehend the activity of Allah from the perspective of Allah, we are given metaphors to help us understand at a human level a finite aspect of the activity of Allah. Similarly, the attributes and speech of Allah are also metaphors for Allah’s activity and being.

    From this perspective, there’s no need to consider whether they are eternal or not, created or not, because we are dealing with metaphors–not with something literal, which can lead, as it did for me, to the concept of separate entities.

    This perspective also helps to separate, at least for me, the similarity between Muslim and Christian arguments on the oneness of Allah because Jesus is not a metaphor but literally a human being.

    Allah knows best.

  40. Umm Reem

    March 18, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    Br. Charles,

    When Allah says that He has a Hand, it is not metaphorical. He says He has a Hand and we believe that He has a Hand. The problem arises when people compare it to His creation, i.e. if we have a hand then how can the Creator have a hand.
    We don’t dwell on imagining how and what kind of hand He is.

    Quranic verses or words are not ‘symbolic’ or ‘metaphorical’. Allah described Quran as being a ‘clear’ book and (bayyan) ‘clarifies/explains’ everything then it is hard to conceive that He would use metaphorical speech about Himself.

    Besides, Allah’s Speech, Hand, Face is not apart from Him. I fail to see the connection between this and the Christian belief of trinity. The former has a clear form of different entities, apart from “God”, a share in His dominion etc.
    Allah’s Speech is His own attribute, His Hand is His, His Face is His, there is no separation.

    wAllahu ta’ala ‘alam

  41. ibnabeeomar

    March 18, 2008 at 11:10 AM

    for this issue, attending the almaghrib light upon light seminar is the best resource :)

    also, check out these notes:
    http://saheefah.org/aqeedah/a102/

  42. Charles

    March 18, 2008 at 12:45 PM

    Quran 3:7 He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves – and these are the essence of the divine writ – as well as others that are allegorical. [5] Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ [6] which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, [7] and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. [8] Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer – albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.

    From dictionary.com:
    Definition of allegory: a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.

    Definition of metaphor: something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.

    In other words, an allegory is a specific type of metaphor.

    Br. Umm Reem
    The Quran itself states that it contains allegories. Treating “hand” and “face” as allegories, or metaphors, tells me not to “dwell on imagining how and what kind of hand He is” but instead to focus on the meaning of the verses in their context.

    I’m not sure why you are rejecting the word “metaphor” in light of the verse and definitions. Perhaps you could explain a little.

    Br. ibnabeeomar
    Thanks for the references. I read the notes quickly, but need to read them slowly now and think about them.

  43. ibnabeeomar

    March 18, 2008 at 12:56 PM

    charles, specifically regarding ayah 3:7 –

    on the link above – http://saheefah.org/aqeedah/a102/

    these articles address that issue (of course its a very basic overview of the topic though):

    *The issue of mutashabih
    *Problem of ta’wil (and majazi and haqiqi)
    *Explanation of the Use of Majaz (Metaphors) in the Quran – Haitham Hamdan

  44. Charles

    March 18, 2008 at 2:12 PM

    Ibn Abeeomar, thanks again. I’ve read these notes through several times now, and as you said, they’re “basic.” So, I’ll look for more detailed sources and then rethink these issues through again.

  45. MM

    March 18, 2008 at 6:26 PM

    Ammar… pls expect an email from MM concerning links…

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