Friday, September 19, 2008

The Solid Edifice .. and a plea

The last post was a sort of reaction to some blog entries of brothers and also my discussions or comments on discussion forums(that have left some unhappy) on this whole salafi-sufi debate.

My personal stand have been always one of collectiveness - that whatever differences, we need to come together for the greater good - if we were to create the positive change and impact that this religion (which we argue and debate about) aspires for its followers.

Fundamentally, we need to realize that the root of all things is diversity and unity is an acquired state (through efforts or reforms).

In psychology, understanding the concept of individual difference is key in understanding behavior and personality - which essentially talks about the differences in personalities and, hence, varied pattern of behavior manifested in every one of us. According to the idea of individual difference, no two person are alike due mainly to personal disposition and circumstances that facilitate a sort of conditioning in us all.

In team or group development - and especially in this - one learns about the process of forming, storming, norming and, thus, performing where at the storming stage - conflicts are expected because it assumes that essentially every one is different especially in the way one look at things. Therefore what someone bring into discussion might not find coherence with another - the question here is how do we overcome that to reach a stage of productivity and performance?

Even society is made up of different resources, profession and roles - can everyone be the doctor? If so, who will become the patient? If everyone becomes the teacher - who will then become the student?

As such diversity is natural in a society, and one needs to accept and even embrace diversity - if we were to not only live in harmony but progress ourselves as that very collective society of rahmah lil a'lameen (mercy for others).

In the corporate world of business management, plenty of academics have already acknowledged the importance of diversity in a working group, team or unit as a crucial phenomenon in achieving productivity. In fact, special emphasis are being placed to ensure diversity in a working force.

This is purely because, whilst different perspectives may clash - but, when manage properly these very ideas could create that very new progress through revolutionary ideas and also a knitted or dynamic working team in solidarity that propel us all forward. Thus, a solid edifice.

Ironically for Muslims, we have been slow to learn this (as always) and what is even sad is that the Qur'an has mentioned this that we have even let it slip from under our very own noses.

"And Allah loves those who strive in His Path in ranks, as if they were a solid edifice" (61: 4).

... ka annahum bunyanum marsus ... bunyanum marsus .. a solid edifice .. let's consider that for a moment and let's consider our state.

Yes, bigotry is potentially the issue - but knowing is only half the battle. Applying it is another. We need to begin to accept these differences and move on in search for the common platform we could come in agreement - which by the way are plenty. Ironically, the very thing we debate about are those small proportion of differences within the Islamic sphere that we forget the bigger chunk of commonalities. We have been to consume to proof that our point is right and others need to submit to our believes - our reforms and etc. How ignorant have we become.

**Kalau orang bukan Islam yang ingin menhancurkan umat Islam melihat keadaan kita - mereka akan ketawa sambil berkata: our job is done let's leave them to themselves.

After decades of decolonization, we are still colonized because the very fabric of our society are still divided, and thus, conquered.

Let's look at the fundamental role that the race of man has been set on this earth to achieve - khalifah fil ard: vicegerent/ steward on earth. How much have we accomplished that?

Instead of debating in endless arguments, let's focus on the very things that we are counted for as the ummah of the Prophet (saw) thus quantify as amongst those who will drink from the Kauthar with the Prophet (saw).

Are we to say then, when we meet him that: "we were not able to achieve much unlike the earlier people because during our age we were busy proving each other wrong"?


It's the last 10 nights and Ramadhan is slipping away from our very fingers ever so rapidly - let's embrace it and ask in these last nights for forgiveness and guidance. Not only for ourselves - but all of us - in a collective ... the final ummah ... the ummah of al Mustapha (saw).



Minami said...

The problem is humans naturally seek to desire utopia in everything that they do, be it religion etc. Schism will ultimately follow from there. Character assasination has always been the theme vis a vis salafi-sufi debate.In these dark times for the ummah,from a personal standpoint, unity,not uniformity,is very much desired.

Ibn Shamsud-Deen as-Salafee said...

Yes, unity.. let's reflect how the Prophet had a united ummah at his time.

They were united under one 'aqeedah, ascribing tawheed for Allah..

but nowadays, muslims differ in 'aqeedah..

so how do we expect to unite muslims apart from what the Prophet united his ummah with?

yes, we need to come together despite our differences.. but there has to be a common ground, no?

What's our common ground if not for tawheed? for that has been the da'wah of the Prophets..

What's our common ground if not for following the authentic teachings of the Prophet and the example of the Companions?

But here we are.. talking about unity.. calling for unity.. through means other than what the Prophet united his ummah with?

And we claim to be the ummah of Muhammad.. Subhanallah.. where's our shame towards our beloved Prophet?

It is one thing to claim love for the Prophet but another thing to follow his teachings and examples closely.

Wallahu a'lam wa al-Musta'an.

NTU Sociological Society said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

bro you mentioned tawheed - I have some vagues points that you may refer to of the argument but for the sake of clarity - you might want to like list them down on point form - no need to elaborate - just general points and we will get the idea.


Ibn Shamsud-Deen as-Salafee said...

Briefly, what i can list down for now:

1) Aqeedah of Ash'ariyyah & Maturidiyyah. Usually stated as representative of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah (as mentioned by Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi in his book "70 yrs of Ikhwanul Muslimeen"). Whereas scholars have mentioned how the two actually differ from the 'aqeedah of the Salaf, especially in the issue of Ta'weel of the Attributes of Allah.

2) 'Aqeedah of the Shee'ah. Generally, the Shee'ah would add to the Shahadatain, "wa 'Alee waliyullah", thus altering the shadatain. In fact, it's part of their creed to acknowledge the superiority of 'Alee, as well as insulting Aboo Bakr and 'Umar, as well making takfeer of many Companions. This is included in 'aqeedah because those who deny the excellence of the Companions, his Shahadah is considered void.

3) The 'Aqeedah of the Soofees, such as Wahdatul Wujood. The i'tiqaad that the Awliyaa' are superior than the Anbiyaa'. The practice of supplicating to the dead Awliyaa' at their maqams as a form of tawassul, all of which are contrary to the 'Aqeedah of the Salaf.

Hence, i hope that it is clear from here that the issue isn't exactly a Salafi-Sufi debate. Rather, the issue is about seeking the truth, from the authentic teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

And the issue of unity should stem from there.

Wallahu a'lam


Bro, you have listed 3 issues on tawheed. rather i would say 2 issues - i wouldn't want to count the syi'ah point of view yet.

i actually did a paper on this for my ilmu kalam module - unfortunately i have misplaced the paper. In it, I defended the salafi/ wahabi view against anthropomorphism from the traditional sunni view.

since I only took ilmu kalam in DPI hence i don't think it befits me to write an entry on this topic but perhaps some sort of 2 cents on the following reply - hopefully other readers could consider or chip in:

1. the Maturidi school of thought and the Asha'ari school of thought in itself - although falls under the "traditional ahhul sunnah wal jemaah" school of thoughts - have several differences. however, i think this differences are not fundamental ones ie. what happen to a person whom have not receive the message of Islam? and the differences between iman and taqwa which i think are semantics.

now, the bigger issues is as you mentioned: ta'awil of the attributes of Allah. however,i would think that even as admitingly this is a major issues but surely it is not something which is radically fundamental? ie. everyone still believe there is a Divine Entity - Allah swt. The question here is how do we understand him? Ibn Kathir, Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyya and the likes are of the believe that one should take the literal point of view from the Qur'an when Allah mentions items like "His Hand, or His Wajah (face)" and so on. Therefore since Allah mention those - hence, it is true of those features of Him But, they stop short of going further into considering the nature of those features.

Now the Ash'ari point of view are more careful or at least the later Ash'ari school of thought are more careful. Perhaps because the school of thought emerge mainly to curb the rise of the Muta'zilite point of view which begin to question the contingent's power of will beyond qadar.

but even so, i fail to see how it radically affects the tawheed of both sides. perhaps, there needs to be a revision of some studies of tawheed (sifat 20, etc.) but however shouldn't changes take in the form of tadarruj - and as since the matter is not (again) radical? but i admit - it requires revision to broaden scope of perspective.

3. wahdatul wujud - not all sufi scholars take that concept holistically - many are careful even to talk about it to the masses. there are in the pass sufi scholars like ibn hajjaj whom ascribe to such teaching - but the vast majority consider the matter not as black and white - and perhaps that is the view one should take.

scholars like tariq ramadan and qardawi has even considered the issues as yet semantics - when one say Allah is everywhere - it could mean that he refers to Allah being all knowing thus everywhere or it does not necessarily refers that the essence of Allah is everwhere - in fact many will claim (even the founder of al Arqam - Ashaari) that Allah's zat (essence) is in the heavens. (tsummas tawa alal arash)

i donno bro, this are some points i can think of my head. again perhaps a scholar could better highlight what i have poorly articulated.

my point here is, these matters needs to be addressed and revised - yes. but not a strong case enough to cause a disunity amongst us.



too add - in fact the very reason for unity to reform.


I pray you find peace in these nights of Ramadhan in your usual dedicated worship and devotion.

I hope you spare some time and thought to pray for me too.


Ibn Shamsud-Deen as-Salafee said...

That's precisely the issue.. if one were to argue to be more careful, the more reason for them to accept the aqeedah of the Salaf.. "accept it the way it is revealed".. this is more cautious, as one wouldn't ask questions that are deemed risky to be asked..

But when a person chooses to accept the aqeedah of the Salaf, then comes some people saying that he is not being practical or "updated" or whatever the claim may be.. as though, the Ash'ari creed is more up-to-date with the progress of the developing mind, etc..

Ta'weel of the attributes of Allah is not a fundamental issue? It is incorrect to think so because ta'weel can indirectly deny the attributes of Allah..

For e.g., how many people deny the Hands of Allah because they make ta'weel of it?

Which is why the Aqeedah of the Salaf is safest.. "accept it as it is revealed".. yes, Allah has Hands, befitting His Majesty.. and the same goes for His other Attributes..

Then, the concept of "Sifat 20": Where did it come from? We can't be coming up with new concepts with regards to aqeedah, can we?

Tawheed is actually simple, yet it is being made complicated with "concepts" such as "Sifat 20" and "ta'weel".

Semantics? If i remember carefully, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah cautioned and warned us of semantics.

Why use the description "Allah is everywhere" when it can cause confusion? And is there any Verse in the Qur'an that supports it? In the Qur'an, it describes that "Allah's Knowledge encompasses everything".

So we have to be careful. Which is why i'd call for people to return to the Aqeedah of the Salaf, because it is safe from avoidable confusion.

Finally, to say that this is not a strong case to cause disunity, isn't quite correct either.

Those who follow Hisham Kabbani blindly would declare takfeer of the scholars of Saudi, "anthropomorphist Wahhabis". Why? Because Hisham Kabbani declares them so in his books, often misquoting the scholars out of context, deviating from actual meaning.

Why does he do so? I shall not ask. This is merely to point out as long as differences happen, especially in aqeedah, we can't unite.

Because it is aqeedah that unite us all. But if people continue to differ in aqeedah, then it is a problem.

Wallahu a'lam


dearest akhi,

thank you for reiterating all of my points.

and thanks for the added points as well.

moving on from the technicalities of the matter - yes muslims need to understand and see this view point.

if tak accept pun, at least understand the dynamism of the matter. but any rationale mind should be able to see the matter hence the initial point becomes a redundant.

however, the question is: how do you transfer that understanding?

i hardly thing being overly critical is the solution. what happen to hikmah? what happen do da'wah bil hal?

and in understanding the diversity of knowledge and human minds - we need to accept that some might differ. what do we do then?

mufaraqah from the ijma' is hardly the solution. ibn taymiyya is clearly of this when he explains his political orientation in some of his writings.

suddenly cross my mind the surah we recite often.

"by Asr. Man are in loss. Except those whom believe, and do good deeds and remind with truth and remind with patience."

question here is: do we have the patience?

or are we expecting a "shariah express"?


missed the point of hisham kabbani.

there is a malay pepatah - since your malay is better than mind you would be more than familiar with it.

"ambil yang jernih, buang yang keruh". i have attended his sessions (lecture not the headbanging sessions) and i thought in general it is good.

though i am quite critical of his overly careless attacks on "wahabism" (i hate labels) not because i see myself as that but as a muslim whom values unity in the ummah.

perhaps, next time when he is in Singapore - do come and when he start saying all those - offer an idea or opinion.

Ibn Shamsud-Deen as-Salafee said...

Mufaraqah from ijma'? What ijma' and on what issue? Afwan, but scholars themselves won't losely use the term "ijma'".. they'd say "this matter is such-and-such and we do not know of anyone who opposes us".. why? because as long as there's a differ in opinion, it can't be consider ijma'..

regarding Hisham Kabbani, i've read a few of his books.. personally for me, there are better books for me to read and it's not a loss not to read his books.. this is my personal evaluation.

Wallahu a'lam


we are missing the whole point of this discussion bro ...

we were talking about unity for change and reform besides the differences or towards narrowing the differences (if that is not a utopia).

thus hikmah and accepting diversity at some point as the natural default thus figuring out a way of harmony in view of that.


*what i meant was: mufaraqah from the main jemaah or main group. sorry for the mispronounce of terms.

Ibn Shamsud-Deen as-Salafee said...

no we're not missing the whole point.. how do we achieve a goal if we don't recognize the obstructions and challenges to it?

Yes, we can accept differences/diversity if it's in matters of furoo'iyyah.. but in fundamental matters such as 'aqeedah.. unity is impossible.. the early muslims united under one 'aqeedah.. so should we.. idealistic? perhaps.. but it's because the prophet taught one aqeedah, and it is that one 'aqeedah that he united the muslims upon..

Even Dr al-Qaradawi disappointingly admitted that it is impossible to unite with the Shi'ites.. let's not get outdated, shall we?


i did not mention anything pun about syiah in fact as mentioned prior - i reserve comments on syiah. so Qardawi's point in the case you have brought is noted but does not add to the discussion.

a'la kulli hal

thanks for the education.

i pray that we could extend this discussion through practical changes in the society.

to sit and comment is one thing. to go out and make that paradigm shift is another albeit the difficulties and challenges.

i pray that these changes transpire and especially through the way the Prophet had shown - hikmah and love.


Ibn Shamsud-Deen as-Salafee said...

not seeing something being done doesn't mean it is not happening.

wallahu a'lam