” Wisdom tells me I am nothing .
Love tells me I am everything
Between the two my life flows..” — Rumi
Kalam, in Arabic, as well as Persian, but mostly in Islamic tradition, means philosophy that involves discourse and debate…
Even the very Speech and Word of Allah at one point was called Kalam. Yet in Light of traditional religious discussions Kalam is also a noun in Islam, meaning: 1. A school of philosophical theology originating in the 9th century a.d., asserting the existence of God as a prime mover and the freedom of the will. 2. The word of Allah.
And although this form of Kalam, word-discussion was really ever-present at the birth phase of Islam, during the years of the Prophet — today it is Haram. Kalam is Haram. This means, that Kalam is strictly forbidden and fully rejected by the world’s fundamentalist Islamic creed.
This according to the puritanical theology of fundamentalist Islam, of the various forms of religious extremism, as well as those views espoused by Salafi, Wahhabi, and all other major Sunni and Shiite orthodox forms of religion. They all revisit Kalam and consider this process a foreign import – from Greek philosophy – alien to the original practice of Islam — regardless that it was the basis of Islam’s early days with the Prophet.
Today strict Islamic Dogma has prevailed and thus obscured all innovation, temperance, and imagination from the interpretation of Islam keeping it locked up in a distant and often violent past. Therefore, the vast serenity that Islam teaches and it’s resultant peacefulness are rather elusive from it’s followers.
In turn this lack of internal peace leads to violent conflict. Manifesting outwardly and internal conflict due to this doctrine that often times leads to terror unleashed upon innocent others. How is it that you can resolve deep seated differences and divisions without dialogue?
And it is because of this lack of peace and serenity in the souls of the young men who heed No Reason — and go on unleashing terror as manifested by Imam Al-Dhahabi who clearly said this in relation to Philosophy – Kalam: ”Kalam is authentically forbidden from ad-Daaraqutnee when he said: There is nothing more despised by me than kalam. I say: He never entered into kalam nor argumentation”
Islamists believe that the Qur’an, the Hadith and the consensus (ijma) of approved scholarship (ulama) along with the understanding of the Salaf us-salih as being sufficient guidance for the Muslim. As the islamic da’wa is a methodology and not a madh’hab in fiqh as commonly misunderstood, fundamental islamic guidance can come from the Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali or the Hanafi schools of Sunni jurisprudence and accept teaching of all four if supported by clear and authenticated evidence from the Sunnah. They support qualified scholars to engage in ijtihad in the face of a clear evidence be it from Qur’an of Hadith. Total blind imitation (taqlid) is expected of an adept, if he is qualified. Their views in theology are based on the Athari creed as opposed to engaging in Kalam, dialectics or any form of speculative philosophy.
And that all above, clearly condemns any possibility for Innovation or Interpretation that fits modern circumstances and the altered conditions that face humanity. Because in an interconnected world where all the Arab kids, same like most educated Muslim people have internet access, a Facebook account, and daily interaction with others around the world — in a freely practiced debate format — is inevitable that discourse-kalam gets involved.
The worst part of it is that it also condemns the followers of this strict dogma to be always on the defensive and reactive to the world. Because if you only have one unalterable prism, from which you see the ever changing light conditions of our world — your vision will be inevitably tainted and you’ll end up blind. The flexibility needed to practice tolerance often means to overlook others’ difficult attributes and that is but a product of dialogue and dialectic philosophical thinking. Our capacity to co-exist gets minimized and our brain software gets rigid.
Reason, tolerance, compassion, and forgiveness were all attributed to the prophet. Yet above all else He was Karam incarncate. A dialectic philosopher of the first order… and a reasonable man. Because he was a natural leader, fully aware of the reasoning capacities of human beings when engaged in a dialectic fashion. Something evident today in all secular Arab gatherings where the dialectic is strong. And the dialectic is usually followed by a logical outcome and agreement. Proof of a logical discussion is a common sense agreement. That is what reasonable people do. Agree or Disagree – discuss and walk on until you find the reasonable merit of ideas and thus solve your differences. Reason is a faculty of the logical mind… and as such it trumps all other brain software — no matter how strongly this might be enforced by social and religious mores…
Keen Islamists and most all other religious fundamentalists, believe that Islam declined after the early generations because of religious innovations and an abandoning of what they consider to be pure Islamic teachings; and that an Islamic revival will only result through emulation of early generations of Muslims and purging of foreign influences. We see the same in Christian fundamentalism as well as the unreasonable views of religious dogma. All old brain software resists change and adaptation because it has become arteriosklerotic and it was not built to handle that in the first place.
Islamic fundamentalists place great emphasis on following acts in accordance with the known sunnah, not only in prayer but in every activity in daily life. Many are careful to exhibit this also with outwardly signs. Such as always using three fingers when eating, drinking water in three pauses, only with the right hand while sitting, and making sure their jellabiya or other garment worn by them does not extend below the ankle so as to follow the example of the prophet Muhammad and his companions…
Today’s islamic scholars are in staunch opposition to the use of kalam, dialectics or philosophy of any kind involved in their closed ended theology. This is because Kalam is seen as a heretical innovation in Islam which opposes the primordial aspiration to follow the original methodology with regards to Aqidah. In a revisionist attempt at history, the current fundamentalist imams refashion statements of the early Imams of the early Muslims claiming that they are in corroboration with this. Words, from later religious scholars such as Imam Abu Hanifa who prohibited his students from engaging in Kalam, stating that those who practice it are of the “retarded ones.” And of Imam Malik ibn Anas who referred to kalam in the Islamic religion as being “detested”, and that whoever “seeks the religion through kalam will deviate”. In addition Imam Shafi’i said that no knowledge of Islam can be gained from books of kalam, as kalam “is not from knowledge” and that “It is better for a man to spend his whole life doing whatever Allah has prohibited – besides shirk with Allah – rather than spending his whole life involved in kalam.” Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal also spoke strongly against kalam, stating his view that no one looks into kalam unless there is “corruption in his heart” and even went so far as to prohibit sitting with people practicing kalam even if they were defending the Sunnah, and instructing his students to warn against any person they saw practicing kalam.
And yet here is the evidence of the opposite:
The words ‘Kalam’ and ‘Qur’an’ are very closely related terms. In their original legal applications they are distinct in meaning. But in another way they are synonymous.
In other words, the word ‘Kalam’ is usually applied to the beginningless attribute of Allah present with His being referred to as His ‘Speech.’ But sometimes when it is used, it means the ‘Qur’an,’ which is the revelation sent to Muhammad who proclaimed it to humanity.
On the other hand, the word ‘Qur’an’ is usually applied to refer to the Holy Book revealed by Allah to Muhammad. But it is sometimes used to refer to the beginningless attribute of the Creator known as His ‘Speech.’
This is all supported by the comments of Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Al-Bayjuri. He says:
“And know that the phrase ‘Kalam Allah’ (Allah’s Word or Speech) is applied to the beginningless unuttered speech (kalam nafsi qadim), which happens to be a quality (sifah) present with His being (dhat) – High is He; just as it is a phrase applied to the uttered speech (kalam lafzi), which happens to be a reference to His creation (i.e. the physical book) while no one has played a part in the origin of its composition. And according to this (second) application, the statement of Our Lady ‘Aisha is understood when she said:
“All between the two covers of the book (mushaf) is Allah’s word (kalam Allah) – High is He.”
So as you can see the immense contradictions within strong doses of religious dogma will certainly not give anyone the necessary peace of mind to live a serene existence in partnership with all other human beings and creation…
And this primary reason that allows us to meet each other half way in an argument and in dividing our special interests and resolving disputes in a reasonable manner — are all Haram [forbidden] because they involve Kalam [philosophical discourse]…
How perverted is that? When was it appropriate for today’s religious scholars to tarnish the prophet’s words and deeds by removing Kalam [philosophical discourse leading to Reason] from the Quran? And why do they claim authority when they themselves have deviated so much from their origins?
Maybe because they are afraid of losing the flock to REASON?
And yet reason was at the heart of Islam the way the Prophet himself visualized the coming of the new religion. He was a reasonable man and all he said and did were reasonable deeds and words. Because he understood reason well, and taught the world that without reason we are all rather lost.
Strip away reason from Islam and what have you got left?A militant blind dogma? Fit for whom? And for what purpose?
And thus I say, that religious dogma today, needs to temper itself with reasonable views and a contemporary outlook.
Perhaps religion should be enjoyed in moderate doses lest the medicine applied is far too strong and becomes toxic for the receiver…
And maybe deadly for those innocent bystanders around him.
A great Muslim authority once wrote of the sheer pointlessness of any and all measures of violence — especially terrorism — to compel political change or to force anyone to hold the level of rationally inspired discussion about faith as required by the religion of Islam same as all modern religions.
“It is not possible to spank a child into solving an arithmetical problem,” thus proclaimed an enlightened Ayatollah. “His mind and thought must be left free in order that he may solve it. The Islamic faith is something of this kind.”
Muslims have to ask themselves: Is the God they worship so weak and needy that he requires them to force fellow humans to respect him under threat of death and recurring violence?
Is their religion so frail and insecure that it cannot tolerate any others, any adversity, any rejection whatsoever?
And why are they silent as an innocent Christian is killed in the streets. Can these yahoos put to death people randonly chosen in the name of Islam?
The best evidence we have from serious Mohammedan theologicians is this: To kill a man for Islam is caterogically wrong. It is theologically and morally unjustifiable. It is an abhorent action. It is not just inhuman — it is also unIslamic. And to not address this issue publicly is definitely anti-Islamic…
Methinks the Arab Spring will clean their clocks eventually. And as it follows through it will help in rejuvenating their religious institutions and not just the secular ones…
After all — God knows — it’s time.
“The only true wisdom
is in knowing
you know nothing….”