Blog Exchange: Does Using the 'Aql Lead People Astray?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following exchange was on the page of our article,  The Sharing Group Discussion: Was the Prophet (s.a.w.) a Philosopher?  This is the Islam of the Barelvi sect, where every person imagines himself a Sufi, and reason leads to Shaythan.  No wonder they are a group of idiots.

Anonymous: Salam brother.  I think if one wish to follow a crash course of misguidance, then your blog would get an Oscar in that category.  I am a Sufi by the way and what you have created here is a machine of misguiding new converts and people who have weak faith.  I pray for you that you understand the destruction which could come from over excessive use of reasoning which God has given us.  You apply too much reasoning on the path of truth that it can become a misguidance instead of guidance.  Do not forget Azazil is more intelligent than humans and knows God best among his creatures, known for his tremendous worship and unshakable tawhid.  Do not take this comment in wrong way.  Sorry if I have offended you but falsehood is not a mere illusion it is very real.

Muhyi ad-Din ibn ‘Arabi (q.s.) said, “Whoever builds his faith exclusively on demonstrative proofs and deductive arguments, builds a faith on which it is impossible to rely.  For he is affected by the negativities of constant objections.  Certainty does not derive from the evidences of the mind but pours out from the depths of the heart.”

Terence Nunis: Wa as-Salaam,

Firstly, one is only a Sufi when one has arrived.  A Sufi will never claim to be a Sufi, so do not pretend to be one.

Secondly, this is a discussion thread from a convert group, and people have the right to reason things out.  None of us came to Islam by shutting down our ‘aql, and it should not be shut on the basis that Muslims are uncomfortable with thinking.

Do you even know which person on the thread is me, and what my position is before you jump all the place with your conclusions?  Is this what you shaykh taught you?  I suggest you go back and relearn your religion first before thinking you are some authority on the matter.  You do not even have the adab to leave your name.

Anonymous: Salaam brother,
Brother, I do not want to come off as a rude person but what I wrote was with good intentions.  An initiate in this path is also a Sufi.  The one who is travelling to Allah (s.w.t.) by means of love and ‘ibadah is a Sufi.  On the other hand the one who is arrived at Allah's countenance is an ‘arif.  Every ‘arif is a Sufi but not every Sufi is an ‘arif.

As to the reason of my self-claim to be a Sufi is because I thought you would think my comment as a Wahabi hate speech.

You objected that “You came to Islam not by shutting down your ‘aql”.  Brother, you should know that previously you were on the concept of falsehood, Trinity; that is why it was necessary to reason things out back then and to use ‘aql in that circumstance.  Now that you have arrived on path of Truth, Islam you will not gain any benefit by using ‘aql, because you are already treading Swirath al-Mustaqim.  Allah (s.w.t.) Created ‘aql in order to make humans such that they can find and accept truth from falsehood.  Once they are on truth, the use of ‘aql is not necessary.  In fact, it is not constructive anymore.  Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.) said “The paths to misguidance are countless while path to truth is only one.”

I know many followers of Sufism who claim that there are various paths of truth with varying intensities of truth and it is totally delusion on their part.  The only path of Truth is following the Prophet (s.a.w.), and one who uses a lot of ‘aql is going to produce constant doubts.  When one arrives at this path, he should abandon the ‘aql, and use the love as cornerstone to attain closeness to Allah (s.w.t.).

Our shuyukh taught us to enjoin good and forbid evil firstly in ourselves, and then, in our brothers, and then those who have yet to arrive on Swirath al-Mustaqim, Islam.  I came across your blog through Google, and I have found many articles on this blog, particularly on tawhid, to be excessive because this kind of tawhid has probability of loss more than its benefit.  New converts and laymen who lack basic understanding of doctrine would misguide themselves by accepting pantheism as tawhid, through your articles.  On the other hand, there are various other articles I have found illuminating.

Of course I am not an authority of religion and you will most likely reject my opinion, but it is made with good intentions though it may appear rude.  I apologise if I have offended you which was not my intention here.

Terence Nunis: Wa as-Salaam,

The initiate of the Path is either a salik, or a muhib, or a murid, but not a Sufi.  Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) has defined it thus according to four points.  And one of the conditions is swafa’, meaning the state of nafs asw-swafiyyah.  An ‘arif need not be in a thariqa’.

I reject this idea that we should abandon ‘aql. It suffices the common people to engage in pure taqlid, but without ‘aql, there will never be depth in ‘ilm.  If every Muslim abandoned ‘aql, as most have, we would be left with an ummah of emotional idiots.  It is precisely this abandonment of ‘aql, of muhasabah and of the intent of the sunnah that we have arrived at this backwardness.

We have to be honest here.  The Muslim community is full of uneducated fools misusing the religion to their own ends.  We did not come to Islam to be infected by the disease of the Muslims, of laziness in their intellect, of heedlessness in worship, of disrespect of knowledge.

Religion is to be questioned to the depths.  Every hukm and every fatwa should be torn to the basics, so we understand the exact basis of it.  Every ayat and every hadits should be examined in exacting detail.  That is the love of knowledge.  You cannot follow a religion you do not understand.  You cannot love a God you do not know.  It is only with the thirst for knowledge that you arrive at the shore of ‘ilm.  And when you have tasted that, that is ‘irfan.  You have limited God to your level, when He is Unlimited.  There is nothing wrong with ‘aql; you have conflated it with nafs.

It is because people who claim to follow thariqa’, but do not know the foundations of their ‘aqidah that we have groups like the Wahhabis running around, and when they challenge us on the foundations of religion, you have no answers because you left ‘aql behind.  The path of the ‘ulama is a Blessed path, and we cannot have that if we leave ‘aql behind.  We must train Muslims to think, to consider and to question everything.  A doctrine that cannot be defended has no worth.

Anonymous: Salaam Brother,

In my opinion, faith and reason are opposites.  If you hold religion by faith, it means you have complete trust or confidence in religion.  If you are reasoning about your faith in religion, then it implies you do not have faith, otherwise you would not question it.  Since questions arise from reasoning, I can say that one who is questioning his faith has no faith at all.  There are a lot of swahih ahadits of the Prophet (s.a.w.), where he clearly said previous umam were destroyed due to excessive questioning in matters of religion.  Excessively questioning one’s religion or faith does not increase him in taqwa; it creates more doubts and confusion regarding religion.

When you love something, you do not question that thing and it is my understanding.  When you love the ahkam and fatawa of the scholars of Islam, you will not question them either.  One follows a religion because he loves his religion rather than he understands it.  We cannot understand the love, it is simply there.  Abu Bakr (r.a.) never questioned Prophet’s (s.a.w.) opinion because he loved him and knew that Prophet (s.a.w.), would not do anything except what is best for Abu Bakr (r.a.).  You are mixing ‘ilm al-kalam with ‘ilm, Brother.  ‘Ilm is what reached us through Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.), and what Allah (s.w.t.) inspires us through divine dreams.  That ‘ilm has nothing to do with reasoning, ‘ilm is beautiful a Gift from Allah (s.w.t.).  By reasoning, you create ‘ilm al-kalam, which is very dangerous for laymen.  Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) said, regarding it, “There should be a certain number of men trained in kalam to defend and purify the faith, but that it would be a great evil if their arguments should become known to the mass of the people.”  Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.) also discouraged laymen from studying ‘ilm al-kalam.

To defend the ‘aqidah from fanatics like Wahabis is the task of learned men not laymen.  You seem to encourage every Muslim to engage in this kind of ‘ilm, which can be very dangerous for their faith.

Terence Nunis: Wa as-Salaam,

Faith without reason is superstition.  Are you then implying that the scholars of the religion question and hypothetise because they have no faith?  The Hanafi madzhab engages in speculative fiqh.  Does that mean Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) and his madzhab do not have faith?  That is nonsensical.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) spoke of previous umam who questioned excessively in issues of legislation, not theology, and the example is Given in Surah al-Baqarah, about Bani Isra’il and the cow.  A man of knowledge knows that.  A man who claims love is enough uses his ‘aql, ironically, and arrives at a different conclusion.

If your questioning leads to doubt, then the niyyat is not purified.  Have you forgotten the hadits, “Actions are by intentions ...”?  This is the very first hadits from Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Ahadits Arba’in.  When you love something, you want to know more about it.  If your love is based on contentment only, then you will never find that thirst beyond thirst that Mawlana Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.) speaks about.

And now, you bring in ‘ilm al-kalam, which is a special category of ‘aql.  So, on the basis of a narration taken in isolation, without a context, you have mistaken kalam for ‘aql and ijtihad and thrown them all away?  This means you do not know the definition of what you speak off.  And if you do not know that, then, although you mean well, your naswihah is from Shaythan since it is breeds from ignorant arrogance and that leads people away from religion.

You are also assuming I am a “layman”.  I studied this religion for more than a decade.  Do you assume that every convert is a fool?

This is what I believe, that “love” without knowledge has merit, but it is not real since the one who loves, loves a conception and an image, not the “real”.  Anything that calls people away from ‘ilm, calls people away from al-‘Alim.  Your understanding is limited and so is your capacity.  That it suffices you, is your path.  It does not mean it should suffice everyone else.  Our religion is striving, and striving in knowledge is also striving.

As for the quote of Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.), it pertains to a specific time and place, and a specific condition.  If you had learned your religion well, instead of leaving off ‘ilm for pretensions of “love”, you would know the answer to this.


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