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The Way to Belief

Western intellectual thought is considered to have started a few hundred years BC from the time of
Socrates. From this thinker, came Plato and then Aristotle who lived form 385 BC to 322 BC. Aristotle
is known for many disciplines, not least of which is the formation of the science of Logic, more
accurately known as Syllogism which entails the use of premises which are connected to form, via
deduction a final conclusion which may or may not be verifiable through the use of the senses. The
form of the syllogistic argument takes a major premise and one of more minor premises and deduces
a conclusion.
Taking a simple and often quoted example is as follows.
A Batchelor is an unmarried man (Major Premise)
Bob is a Batchelor (Minor Premise)
Bob is unmarried (Conclusion)
This type of thinking works well in mathematical construction but causes some major issues when
applied in areas such as the unseen world also known as the world of Metaphysics.
In later centuries, this form of thinking was very prevalent and influenced many metaphysical debates
such as the nature of divinity and indeed the very question of whether an almighty creator exists.
As we shall see, these questions became so controversial that polarised camps arose which pitted one
philosophical tradition against the other. These camps were the rationalists, which used the
aforementioned approach, and the empiricists who used the approach of sense perception to
establish knowledge.
You may see these camps referred to by other names and their approaches have various names such
as apriori vs aposteriori thinking or top down vs bottom up thinking or deductive vs inductive thinking
or rational vs scientific thinking. Whichever label is applied, the essence and dichotomy is essentially
the same.
The political and intellectual impacts of these fissures were not limited to the West but even affected
the Muslim world where our early thinkers started to use these arguments to give dawa to Islam not
aware of the deep flaws when these arguments are taken outside of their natural habit, namely
mathematics and applied to creedal arguments. These Muslims, for example Al-Kindi known as the
Mutaqalimoun went astray. Later muslims who were purely philosophers were even led to apostacy,
as in the case of Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd and others, may Allah protect us all from intellectual deviation.
Take for example Al-Kindi who studied Aristotle and almost developed his thinking and applied it to
arguments for the existence of God such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument where he also used
cause and effect to substantiate his claims. It took Imam Al-Ghazali to demonstrate the flaws in these
Greek approaches used by Mutakalimoon scholars like Al-Kindi and set Islamic thought back on its
right course. Even the Indian poet Allama Iqbal expressed his concerns about these approaches many
centuries later.
Al Ghazli for example wrote of the use of the Cause and Effect Argument
“It does not behove (is not suitable) to say that an infinite regress of causes is impossible”
Iqbal also said of it as far as the 1st uncaused cause on which the argument is built
“To finish the series at a certain point and to elevate one member of the series to the dignity of an uncaused first cause is to set at naught (ie undermine) the very law of causation on which the whole
argument proceeds”
Hence the critics saying that this argument falls foul of the special pleading logical fallacy. Ie except
the rule from one case as its a special case. This is the danger of using western thought to substantiate
the Islamic Aqueeda which as we know must be based on yaqeen.
Therefore, it is to our credit that the great scholars from the Muslim Ummah such as Imam Al-Ghazali
who inoculated us from the defects of the rational method many centuries ago and also Sheik
Taqiuddin An Nabhani RA who clarified the thinking method for us, we are today able to establish
creed on a solid footing that is free from the defects that pervaded the western discourse so badly
that even to this day, they are unable to see outside of the narrow prism of scientific thought which
is the epitome of empiricism. So pervasive is this new intellectual deity that other disciplines have
south to ride on its coattails for recognition such as the social sciences and even philosophy which the
logical empiricist movement of the earlier 20th Century.
Furthermore, the by-product of this is that knowledge beyond the scientific method is not seen as
credible and thus the Islamic creed is considered a myth and not taken as seriously as it would
otherwise be taken, had the proper way of thinking been prevalent.
Use of Greek Thought in defence of Christian Doctrines
From here on, when it is said the rational method, the use of Greek Syllogism is being referred to with
its flaws as discussed.
In an attempt to build some rational basis to the beliefs of Christian creedal concepts, some Christian
thinkers sought to use the rational method, most notable of such thinkers were Thomas Aquinas (1225
to 1274) and Saint Anselm 1033–1109.
Taking the most well-known arguments proposed for the existence of God, we see the following types
Teleological Argument
Ontological Argument
These arguments were heavily influenced by Greek though. With the premises used in the Syllogistic
argument, what often happens is that the premises themselves are abstractions of reality and not
always directly observable and therefore there is some room for doubt or cases where the premise
can fail to apply to some observations (such as all swans are white as we know now of black swans)
and this lead to the downfall of the above proofs.
Let us briefly consider how. Consider the Cosmological Argument
This argument is based on cause and effect and argues that the universe was ultimately caused as it is
the sum of finite elements. The conclusion that is must be caused by an agency which itself is uncaused
lead to many criticizing the logic used and dismissing it as self-defeating on the basis that is didn’t
explain what caused the first cause. This is referred to in philosophical discourse and the special
pleading fallacy i.e. making an exception for one case which doesn’t hold when the premises that are
used to hold the argument are themselves leading to its downfall and self-contradiction.
Similar flaws exist in the other arguments for example the Teleological argument which establishes a
premise (i.e. again a generalised abstraction) that the intricate order and seemingly technical design
of the universe implies a purpose and thus a designer. The same argument was levelled as above in
that who designed the designer? Why, it is argued, should God be exempt from the very premises that
hold up the argument.
Finally with the Ontological argument, considered by far the weakest of the three proposed, is the
idea, put more simply than it actually is presented by Saint Anselm, is that if a creator exists in the
mind as the greatest possible being imaginable, then this creator must also exist in reality to avoid, it
is argued, a contradiction, the contradiction being of the possibility of a greater being than that which
exists in the mind actually existing in reality. Critics were quick to point out that this approach can be
used to prove anything and it was abandoned as a serious argument.
Again, all based on deducing final conclusions devoid of sense data which was the central pillar of the
other camp the Empiricists which came some centuries afterwards.
Challenge of Materialist Thought to the Establishment
The preceding discussion may on face value seem to suggest that empiricism or the idea that real
knowledge can only be established on the basis of sensed data and not on the basis of these general
premises that often lead to spurious or self-contradicting results, was the natural result of common
sense prevailing and that this approach to seeking knowledge is self evidently the proper and only
credible approach to establishing facts. Needless to say, this closes the door on questions which by
their nature cannot be sensed such as the nature of the Islamic Aqeedah and as such is a matter of
grave concern and should be a matter which warrants our attention and focus.
As a political party, we should not just accept the official narratives and look at the events from a
purely intellectual prism as this will lead to erroneous results and a false diagnosis.
It is no secret the way the West has whitewashed its history to make its journey appear as if it is a
linear journey from darkness to light and its conclusions, values and civilisation all self-evidently true
to the exclusion of all other value systems and beliefs.
A more accurate picture, as documented by Western Enlightenment scholars, which is accepted as
the era where rational thought was defeated by this new way of thinking, is that there was a major
political challenge to the established order that drove the emphasis to this new way of thinking i.e.
empiricism and it had little to do with the flaws of the Greek style syllogistic approach to rational
This aspect of a direct political challenge to the established order is not controversial after work by
some very esteemed scholars of the enlightenment such as Jonathan Israel have discussed in their
The common narrative is that the battle lines were between the Clergy of the Church and all
others(peasants, thinkers, scientists, even aristocrats etc) who wanted to free mankind from the
shackles of darkness, dogmatism, and social control by the church who through the institution of the
Monarchy was the prevalent power source.
This presupposes that the church really was the stakeholder that had the overarching power and
control in society and was clinging to the old way of thinking which at least had some chance of
establishing some kind of proof for scripture and belief in an unseen God, despite the flaws as
mentioned above.
What historians like Jonathan Israel mentions, is the fact that there were not one force driving the
enlightenment struggle against the church but there were in fact 3 factions as follows
Counter Enlightenment
Moderate Enlightenment
Radical Enlightenment
The counter enlightenment believed in the restoration of the old style of monarchy, as opposed to the
weakened form we have today, restored on the basis that Devine right of kings is the only acceptable
form of ruling, however this was a marginal force.
The real struggle was between the moderate and radical factions or put another way between the real
power brokers of the old order namely the Aristocracy or broadly put the establishment and the
materialists who wanted to depose completely the old order and establish real power to the masses
on the basis of a Godless or atheistic world view leading to real people power (true Democracy
something that aristocracy loathed) and individual freedom again not based on any religious
constraint but based on new deities such as humanism and self-interest, all ideas which would lead to
power transitioning to the masses from the elites. Needless to say, an existential threat that had to
be subverted by any means necessary.
The reason the aristocracy sought change from the medieval model of absolute monarchies, who they
by and large controlled with the possible exception of Kings Henry VIII and his father Henry VII, was
due to the new forces and desire for change due to the breaking of the influence of the Church after
the protestant reformation and the renaissance which lead to a great period of discovery and learning
and hunger for intellectual growth that was not going to be satisfied by the closed and limited
knowledge presented by scripture.
So the establishment wanted a change which preserved their power and influence as the saying goes,
they wanted ‘old wine in new bottles.’ This calculation for the establishment was helped along by the
new discoveries made by science and the industrial revolution was another catalyst that meant the
power elite of the time needed a peaceful transition to a more inclusive model but which preserved
the old power behind the scenes.
The moderate enlightenment was to be based on faith as the moral compass and symbolisms from
the past order and its inherent obedience structures to old institutions which would be reformed in
the light of modern demands and so would serve the political interests of the power elite, similar to
how the Roman Emperor Constantine had courted Christianity some 14 centuries earlier when it
started its role as the tool of manipulation and control.
As the social order was being unravelled by arguments which made people question the notion of God
and God’s very existence so with it was challenged the moral fabric of society and the control of the
aristocracy and so more and more was the danger of the appeal of the materialists, people like the
Jewish apostate Bharuch Spinoza (1632 to 1677) which had to be crushed. The manner of crushing the
challenge ultimately lay in intellectual means.
Spinoza was well underway in attacking theist arguments using the centuries old Greek rationalist
methodology and developing new notions of God which destroyed the idea of an all-powerful unitary
creator as is understood by conventional Abrahamic faiths. The first step was towards the idea of
pantheism which places God with nature and makes the two inseparable.
Einstein when asked said he believes in the God of Spinoza and is regarded as a materialist by every
estimation today.
Look at how he argued and see if you can see the Greek syllogistic approach interwoven within his
approach :Spinoza attempts to prove that God is just the substance of the universe by first stating that substances
do not share attributes or essences (premise 1) , and then demonstrating that God is a substance with
an infinite number of attributes(Premise 2), thus the attributes possessed by any other substances
must also be possessed by God (conclusion).
Let us briefly consider these rivals to understand why empiricism was brough in to salvage political
interests rather than it being inherently a superior methodology and deserving to become a universal
and exclusive basis for thinking and establishing truth.
How the Establishment Fought Back
The establishment, unable to fend of the arguments of the materialists sought to move the goal posts
to effectively pull the rug from beneath the feet of those that challenged their hegemony. This did this
by pushing the philosophical school of knowledge called Empiricism so that they could render
questions about God and metaphysics in general (i.e. the theatre of the unseen world) as a matter of
faith and beyond the remit of formal knowledge.
So contrary to the oft quoted narrative that empiricism was brought forward by enlightenment
thinkers like John Locke to crush the church and weaken it, it was actual brought in to save the
aristocracy and preserve the status quo which saw patronage being given by the masses to the
established institutions and hierarchical models of government. The nobility knew they could make
some token changes and preserve their power so were happy to dethrone religions centrality and call
for a solution which curtailed the role of the church ie their call for secularism which was their
compromise which had the effect of quelling the threat and preserving their power and influence to
this day.
There is ample evidence of this being the true essence of the struggle that lead to the prevalence of
the empiricist approach to knowledge (epistemology) and the erosion of the rationalist tradition. Take
for example the preface to the 2nd Edition of the monumental work by Immanuel Kant called the
Critique of Pure reason where he stated
“I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith”
Furthermore, the association between the aristocrats and thinkers and philosophers who took the
intellectual face of battle on the pushing of the real rulers was demonstrated by the close association
between John Locke (1632 to 1704) and Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury. Locke
was the forefront in developing the philosophical school of empiricism which seems to have been on
the basis moulding Locke in this direction.
Given the political background, it is clear that the sunset setting on the rationalist approach to
knowledge had nothing to do with the merits of the rationalist position. However we do say that it
was a weak approach in the way it was used in the West’s intellectual tradition due to 2 reasons :
1) The premises were often not formed correctly, and the focus was on building consistency
within the premises rather than the premises being consistent with reality
2) It is not suitable as a basis to establish the Creed as it is in furthering knowledge in other areas
for which it is a valid approach even under our tradition.
As mentioned, a consequence of this compromise has been the closing of the door in the minds of
many on the credibility of establishing the Islamic Aqedah as a credible thought worthy of being
accepted with other modes of knowledge such as that achieved by science.
For this reason, we must do two things. One is to clarify the correct way to understand these
metaphysical subjects and secondly to straighten the record on why the approaches of the past failed
to achieve this aim with special emphasis, as has been done, on the real reason why a large section of
knowledge was vilified and mocked and relegated to the field of superstition and sorcery.
The Correct Basis for Creedal Thought
To understand the sound method of thinking with regard to creedal matter were absolute certainty is
required, something that the rationalist approach soaked in the Greek tradition cannot give us, we
can recap what we state in Nitham Chapter 1.
4 elements of thinking
▪ Reality, 5 senses, brain and previous information.
• Allah taught the initial previous information to Prophet Adam AS as
revealed in Verse 31 of Surah Bakarah where Allah SWT said in TMQ
And He taught Adam the names - all of them. Then He showed them
to the angels and said, "Inform Me of the names of these, if you are
Therefore we can say that Previous Information has been handed
down to us through through Adam AS ultimately which is why we can
think and comprehend things today.
Free of these abstractions and based instead directly on sensation
Proof of God as an illustration
▪ Everything we sense is dependant and must depend on something not
dependant on anything which we call Allah. There is no other explanation.
Similarly using the limited argument we can say that anything which is limited
cannot be eternal so matter is not the cause of our reality. So both conclusions
are based on direct sensation and not abstractions such as the universality of
cause and effect or general purpose must exist in the universe so God placed
us here etc.
To conclude, I would like to make 2 points.
Firstly, we need to re-establish the Islamic Way of thinking to enable the prevalence and
recognition of the Creedal Thoughts. This means that scientific thought has its place and works
in conjunction with the correct rational thought. It is not an either/or choice.
To aid this objective, we need to weaken the framing of the West’s history
▪ We need to change the narrative on the journey of the West, from it being
presented as a self-evident linear progression to what we have now to instead
if being a melting pot of disparate ideas that fused into current state to
appease competing interests. Thus, undermining the argument that the only
outcome of liberating the mind from subversive and dogmatic influences is
what the west ended up with. Ex Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or
to quote Benjamin Franklin when reflecting in Congress on the new US
Constitution where it is said “We hold these truths to be self-evident “.
▪ It is not even clear that Greek thought was where the West’s journey began
as the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt established by Alexander the Great
was destroyed so these ideas may have had other origins such as from the
Mesopotamians or Babylonians or Aztec’s to name a few. This library brought
together the world’s learning and knowledge recording manuscripts in a way
never seen before and is the closest things to the modern internet that could
have shed light on the real formation of knowledge before the Greeks.
▪ Many of the ideas upon which the West seeks praise were based on Islamic
thought ex Empirical method. Political models such as rights of citizens and
Economic concepts like trusts and partnerships to mention a few.