1 Jun 2005

ZOSS & MOHAMED

Zoss: I've long argued that God has given us snapshots of the creation account, but it was never described in full detail. That is to say, there is room for conjectures and theories; them being philosophical or linguistic, or -indeed- in the realm of natural sciences. However, this insatiable curiosity comes with the ultimate humility in the recognition that they're all, after all, conjectures. God says in surat elkahf (18:51), what could be loosely translated as: (I have not made them witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor themselves ...); the operative word here being "witness" (ashhaddtohom), which could also be interpreted as "shown them" as in (maybe) with signs or teachings. To that effect, these efforts might always remain as conjectures, but even then I don't think they should be abandoned nor silenced.

Mohamed:So can I argue that the snapshots are to help us believe (get closer), yet if the snapshots become complete pictures we don't really become believers anymore (because the evidence is right there).

Zoss: Even though we might claim -with the utmost diligence- some form of congruence between our knowledge of the seen world and its reality, we shall try to avoid the pitfalls of assuming knowledge of the intended wisdom, except for maybe that which is made explicit by the divine. I feel this needs to be stressed always; if we are careful one fold with interpretation of the signs, we should be a hundred fold with extrapolating for the cause or the reason.

That being said, Mohamed; yes, maybe you have an argument; maybe in this instance you can invoke this more general argument about the essence of faith: the logic chain seems to be intentionally linked at some point via a belief in the unseen, the non-manifest -- guided by the verse (26:4), which would be loosely translated like (if We will, We would send down from the sky a sign, to which their necks would remain (stooped) in compliance). Again, is this the reason why we are only give snapshots? I highly doubt we can make any verifiable argument to that. We can also think of some other things that might be parallel conjectures to yours. For instance, and very breifly, maybe the essence of the creation is in the snapshots we are given; that is to say, the parts that have not been explicitly mentioned are somewhat less relevant. Or, maybe the idea is that some of these bits are being revealed on daily basis; verse (41:53) (We shall show them Our portents on the horizon and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth); remember 'show'? it has come up before. But, will some ultimately remain partially hidden?

This brings me to the heart of my argument, and I believe, to the heart of the philosophy of science in islam. It should come as no surprise to you that the motivation for science (natural science in particular) varies with the varying principles of the scientist, overlapping as they maybe. For example, Einstein is famously quoted as saying: "I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details." This might overlap quite a bit with what the average muslim philosopher of science would consider as the driving force behind science. Knowing God's creation; Knowing God. From this starting point, spew out all your wonderment and curiosity; these are tools to help you know. Are you going to be stopped by somebody telling you that there are limits to what you could know? even if you know that God, the All-Knowing, (provides whom he wills with no measure) (2:212)? Ah.. at this point, I cannot make any intelligible comments about the philosophy of science in islam that has not been dissected by scholars (like Seyyed Hossein Nasr in the past thirty-some years; e.g. here), but isa maybe soon.

Mohamed:Regarding knowing God, and if we should search into everything. There is a good example about how there are things about the qualities of God that cannot be questioned (and some argue must not be questioned since it adds no value, while might 'shake' the faith). The example is when God says "yabseto kaffayh" or "estawa 3ala el3arsh", people might start to imagine how God's "kaff" looks like, or how He can "yabsetoha" or how he can "yastawy 3ala el3arsh" or how His "3arsh" looks like, but these are all characteristics to be left mysterious and not to be looked further into, no?

I second you in always searching for the reasons, but never really being sure of them, or of the signs themselves for that matter. Isn't the Quran itself one of the great signs. Interesting that I was looking for the tafseer of the two of the aya's (26:4 and 41:53) you provided, and alTabary in both ayas says "ekhtalafa ahl elta'aweel", deliberately unclear by God I believe.

Zoss:I have to disagree about the "example about how there are things about the qualities of God that cannot be questioned".

I feel you are using 'imagine' and 'question' interchangeably. I beg to differ; and, while this might be a marginal disagreement, I had to point it out to make the rest of this comment more sensible.

The meat of it is: I believe this matter is not mysterious at all; it has been affirmatively resolved with the utmost clarity in the quran: ليس كمثله شيء (Naught is as His likeness 42:11); i interpret: in essence, in attributes, and in actions. Naught is as His likeness. Whatever you can imagine, is naught. So, i say, if you believe this verse, then imagine away if you will, for there's plenty of room for your imagination. I could be wrong. what do you think?


On to a general comment: there is a subtle (nontheless, crucial) difference between the 'how' and the 'why' type questioning that might skip some. That was one of the things I tried to squeeze in my previous comment, but maybe not in so many words. If it was missed, I would suggest re-reading the previous comment; to highlight the difference, notice which of the two was used by Einstein.

Mohamed:I think you're right Zoss. If I get you right, I totally agree, and that's my point. Some people try to imagine how God can "yastawy 3ala el3arsh" for example, but they can imagine all they want, it is naught. What some argue, is that we shouldn't imagine such things in the first place, as when one starts to imagine, then He becomes "kamethlehee sahy'a", that shay'a is your imagination, eh.

I think I might be using imagine and question interchangeably indeed. Sometimes I find them to be the same thing when it comes to this stuff.

The "how" vs. "why" did indeed skip me, and it is a very crucial difference indeed. Good to point it out.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zoss, I partly follow your argument(s).

There is a difference between 'as-hadtohoum' and 'nuriyahoum'--witnessing and seeing. To witness something you witness the 'essence' not the picture; you witness the truth; the reality, and not the manifestations. Thus, my feeling is that 'we didnt need to witness our creation or the creation of other things....' it is not important, as it is an outer picture of what we had already 'witnessed' that is the TRUTH...

I am going in circles... but do i make sense?

6/01/2005 11:24:00 am  
Anonymous zoss said...

anonymous; sorry for the late reply, God knows it's not for lack of interest. I have been thinking about what you said for a while, and I am not sure I totally get it. I found out the more I resorted to systematics, the more I got entangled, and I think it's because of the introductory sentences; everything before 'Thus'. So, discounting that for a moment, if by the quoted witnessed you mean the covenant of 'alast' (am I not), then I see your point, and it is indeed a very interesting one that I have not thought about before, thanks.

Speaking of 'alast', Haal; I kinda recall that your rss feed at some point showed that you had a post on this matter, but I could never find it. What happened? (or am I hallucinating again?)

[Anonymous; If I might add one more note without sounding too didactic: I do feel that there is a difference between (the arabic words you've translated as) seeing and witnessing, but I'm not exactly sure that I agree that (the word you translated as) seeing is only used to mean with your senses. For e.g. verse (hast thou not seen what your Lord did to the owners of the elephant? 105:1) who is being addressed? and were they able to 'see' the elephant? .. and many more examples, some even more illustrative than this one :)]

btw, in the post earlier where it says "(like Seyyed Hossein Nasr in the past thirty-some years; e.g. here)" is missing this link.

6/03/2005 11:42:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

I did have a post about Am I not, but I removed it. You are right.

Well, I know who this annonymous was. It is a friend of Mohamed from Cairo actually, if I am not mistaken. Cute girl.

Anyways, I see her point and I liked how she thinks. Will probably wait for her answer and I think that she was refering to this 'am i not' part in the back of her head. Right, M?

6/04/2005 12:23:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salamun 'alaykum,

1- [18:51] I never permitted them to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor the creation of themselves. Nor do I permit the wicked to work in My kingdom.

Eventhough God didn't allow the rebels (Humans and Jinns) to witness the creation, we are commanded to try to find out about it in the following verse, for then we would be more certain about the resurrection,

[29:20] Say, "Roam the earth and find out the origin of life." For GOD will thus initiate the creation in the Hereafter. GOD is Omnipotent.

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2- As for [26:4] If we will, we can send from the sky a sign that forces their necks to bow.

immediately after it God mentions the miracle of Quran,

[26:5] Whenever a reminder from the Most Gracious comes to them, that is new, they turn away in aversion.

Perhaps you haven't yet heard of Quran's miracle that has been reserved for 1400 years for our generation to witness, you can find an introduction to it on my website:

www.usn2161.net

The miracle of 19 is the first physical evidence of the superhuman authorship of Quran, as it confirms it letter by letter, however its function is not to convince a disbeliever (from scratch) but to reassure those who already sense the truthfulness of the message which is simply worshiping, revering and loving God ALONE.

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3- [41:53] We will show them our proofs in the horizons, and within themselves, until they realize that this is the truth. Is your Lord not sufficient as a witness of all things?

This specific verse is speaking about the signs (based on the number 19) that God will show the whole world untill the prophecy of Victory for God's religion (Submission) [9:33, 48:28, 61:9] is fulfilled, you can find more about this prophecy on my website.

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4- As for the multiple meaning verses which some people use to ascribe creature-like characteristics to God, it is meant as a test. We cannot transgress into imagining God in a form of a creature (which culminated in idolizing Jesus) i believe it is just an allegory, here is how the messenger of the covenant Rashad Khalifa translated 'estawa 'ala al'arsh),

[7:54] Your Lord is the one GOD, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then assumed all authority. The night overtakes the day, as it pursues it persistently, and the sun, the moon, and the stars are committed to serve by His command. Absolutely, He controls all creation and all commands. Most Exalted is GOD, Lord of the universe.

= assumed all authority.

Another example is this verse:

[39:67] They can never fathom the greatness of GOD. The whole earth is within His fist on the Day of Resurrection. In fact, the universes are folded within His right hand. Be He glorified; He is much too high above needing any partners.

This verse cannot be translated in any other way, however the intended meaning i believe is to give you a feel of the Greatness of God that can not be imagined.

The bottom line here is that the true believers who really reverence the majesty of God get the right meaning, they don't transgress into imagining the Lord in any form.

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Please check my website, and if you have any questions feel free to send me at:

messenger@usn2161.net

[17:36] You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.

Ahmad

6/09/2005 02:47:00 am  
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