In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Indeed, neither is there a need – unitil yawmul qiyaamah – to adopt philosophy in the name of promoting critical thinking nor will there ever be a need to defend the infallible religion of Islam through theological rhetoric. The noble Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: “Verily he lives long among you will see a lot of differing, so you must keep to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the Khulafaa ar-Rashideen [the rightly guided caliphs]. Adhere to it with your molar teeth (i.e. adhere to it firmly). And beware of newly invented matters [in the religion], for every newly invented matter [in the religion] is a bidah [innovation in the religion], and every bidah is misguidance”. [Abu Dawood. Number 4607] [Tirmidhee. Number 2676]
The noble Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] also said: “I have left you with something, if you adhere to, you will not go astray- the Book of Allah (i.e. the Qur’aan) and my Sunnah”. [Al-Muwaṭṭa’ 1661]
Imaam Daarul Hijrah – Maalik Bin Anas [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “The latter part of this Ummah [i.e. those who will come after the pious predecessors] will not be rectified except by way of that which rectified its earlier part [i.e. the pious predecssors]”. [Al-Itisaam of Imaam Shaatibee 1/28]
We remind Lujain that when this pursuit of philosophy and so called critical thinking was initiated in the past, it led to calamity and deviation; rather it opened a door to Bidah (innovation in religious affairs). (see footnote a) Shaikh Shamsuddeen Al-Afghaanee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated regarding this affair: “The books of Greek philosophy that contained the ideas of grave and idol worship were translated into Arabic, so many of those who attributed themselves to Islam busied themselves with these books, such as the likes of Al- Faraabee, Ibn Sinaa Al-Hanafi, Naseer At- Toosee the advocator of disbelief and polytheism and other than them amongst those who played tricks with Islaam, just as Paul played tricks with Christianity. They were influenced by the ideas of the Greek Philosophers, such as the creed of grave worship, so they became callers to grave worship through Greek Philosophy. The practices of these people was rife within the ranks of the people of rhetoric amongst the Hanafi Maatooreediyyah and the Ash-ariyyah Kullaabiyyah due to busying themselves with the Books of the Philosophers. They became callers to grave worship and callers to the creed of the Jahmiyyah at the same time, such as the likes of Taftaazaanee Al-Hanafi [The Philosopher of the Maatooreediyyah and Grave worshipers and Jurjaanee Al-Hanafi- a caller to superstition”. (1)
Thirdly, we remind them of the warning given by the pious predecessors against philosophy and philosophers. Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Theological Rhetoric is tantamount to ignorance”. Imaam Abu Yusuf [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Theological Rhetoric is ignorance and to be ignorant of it is knowledge”. (2)
Imaam Ahmad Bin Hanbal [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “I am neither a person of Theological Rhetoric nor do I recognize Theological Rhetoric in anything. (I only recognize) that which is found in the Book of Allaah or in the Sunnah of His Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]”. (3) He also said, “Do not sit with the proponents of Theological Rhetoric even if they defend the Sunnah”. (4)
Yoonus Ibn Abdil A’laa [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “I heard Ash-Shaafi’ee saying, ‘It is better for a man to be put to trial with everything that Allaah has forbidden except Shirk than looking into (or engaging himself in) theological rhetoric, because indeed I have come across affairs from the proponents of theological rhetoric that which I never thought I would come across'”. (5)
Question to Saudi Scholar- Rabee Bin Haadee Al-Mad’khalee [may Allaah preserve him]: May Allaah reward you with good. This is also a question from the brothers who are present, saying: Assalaamu Alaykum Warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuhu. Virtuous Shaikh, is it permissible for me to learn (or study)the knowledge of Theological rhetoric? Benefit me [i.e. with a response] and may Allaah [The Exalted] reward you with good.
Answer: The knowledge of theological rhetoric is a corrupt knowledge and the pious perdecessors – by way of consensus- declared that it is Haraam [forbidden] to study it due to the misguidance and evil consequences in it. Shaikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Neither does a dull-witted person benefit from it nor is an intelligent person in need of it”. An intelligent person is not in need of it because he is sensible in his self, natural disposition and intellect; and a dull-witted person does not benefit from it. Even if he studied all the books of theological rhetoric he will not benefit from it. Shaikh Albaani used to debate against the scholars of theological rhetoric and they used to be like children in his presence, yet he never studied theological rhetoric, rather Allaah granted him (sound) speech and [Sharee’ah] knowledge, and there is no proof stronger than the proofs of the Kitaab [i.e. the Qur’aan] and the [authentic] Sunnah. The people of theological rhetoric are always defeated [or overwhelmed]. By Allaah, regardless how much they [utilise] theological rhetoric and how strong they are in theological rhetoric, they are defeated in the presence of the methodology of the Salafus Saaleh (which) is founded on the Book [i.e. the Qur’aan] and the [authentic] Sunnah. (6)
Shaikh Rabee also said: The final affair of the proponents of Theological Rhetoric is a state of doubt and confusion, and the final affair of the people of the Sofee paths is a state of wild irrational behaviour and false claims. Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “And because of this, the innovators of theological rhetoric have something of resemblance to the Jews and the innovators of acts of worship have something of resemblance to the Christians (i.e. those Jews and Christians who went astray after the departure of their Prophets). That is because these ones [proponents of theological rhetoric] deny the truth and thus it leads them to doubt and those ones [innovators of acts of worship] believe in falsehood and it leads them to a state of wild irrational behaviour. These ones [proponents of theological rhetoric] are like the darkness in a vast deep sea, overwhelmed with a great wave topped by a great wave, topped by dark clouds, darkness, one above another; and those ones [i.e. innovators in acts of worship] are like a mirage in a desert, the thirsty one thinks it to be water, until he comes up to it and finds it to be nothing”. (7)
Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said: Theological rhetoric is like the flesh of a camel at the top of a mountain. Neither is it not easy to climb the mountain nor is the flesh good enough to justify climbing, nor is the path leading to it easy to follow. (8)
Saudi Scholar Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Ad-Daaraqutnee hated theological rhetoric, even though he never entered into it due to its evil consequences, monotonous speech without benefit, the doubts it presents in affairs that are already established based on certainty, the confusion it causes and leading to abandonment of the [authentic] narrations. There is nothing- based on what I can see or what I hold – more harmful to the Muslims in their creed than theological rhetoric and philosophy. Many of the senior scholars of theological rhetoric affirmed – at the end of their lives – that they wished to die upon the religion [i.e. the religion that is in conformity with what is found in the Qur’aan, authentic Sunnah and understanding of the pious predecessors] and return to their natural disposition [i.e. Islaam as revealed in the authentic texts]. Shaikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said that those it is feared for the most that they will fall into misguidance are those scholars of theological rhetoric at the intermediate level, because those who did not engage in it were safe from its evils, and those who engaged in it and reached a high level became acquainted with its corruption and falsity, and thus left it. (9)
Saudi Scholar, Rabee Bin Haadee also quoted Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah who stated: The people in their pursuit of knowledge and religion have two innovated paths and a path legislated in the Sharee’ah. The path of the Islamic legislation is to look at that which the Messenger brought, utilise it as evidence and act upon that which it necessitates; therefore, there has to be knowledge based on that which the Messenger conveyed and to act upon it, and only one of them is not enough…. As for the two innovated paths, one of them is the path of the people of innovated theological speech and views, for indeed there is much falsehood in this. Many of its people become negligent in (fulfilling) deeds commanded by Allaah and His Messenger, so they remain upon corruption in knowledge and deeds. These people stray towards false Judaism. The second is the path of people who employ ways of strengthening the soul, the people of the Soofi paths and innovated acts of worship. These ones stray towards false Christianity, because they say that if a person purifies his soul based on the manner in which they have stated, then the sciences of the religion will come to him in abundance without learning. The acts of worship of many amongst these people are innovated; rather they are in opposition to that which the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] conveyed and thus they remain upon corruption in their deeds and corruption due to deficiency in knowledge, since they do not know what the Messenger conveyed. These people often malign one another and every group speaks ill against the other, whilst each of them claims to be following the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam]; however, what the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] brought is neither in agreement with what these ones say nor what those ones say. Allaah said:
[مَا كَانَ إِبۡرَٲهِيمُ يَہُودِيًّ۬ا وَلَا نَصۡرَانِيًّ۬ا وَلَـٰكِن كَانَ حَنِيفً۬ا مُّسۡلِمً۬ا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ – Ibrahim (Abraham) was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa (Islamic Monotheism – to worship none but Allah Alone) and he was not one who associated partners to Allaah in worship. [Surah Aal Imraan. Aayah 67]
Neither the Messenger of Allaah [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] nor his companions were upon the path of the people of religions innovations amongst the proponents of Theological Rhetoric and Views, nor upon the path of the people of religious innovations amongst the proponents of innovated worship and Soofiyyah; rather he was upon that which Allaah sent him with based on the Qur’aan and Sunnah. (10)
Finally, as for the Muslim rulers and their deputies, we ask Allaah to grant us and them Tawfeeq to confine ourselves within the Sunnah.
Who Are The Two Types of People That Advise One In Authority And How Should One Behave When Others Are Given Precedence Over Him?
Footnote a: what is bidah: The Perfection of the Shariah and an Exposition of the Reprehensible Innovations That Have Crept Into Islam:
[Ref 1: Excerpt from Juhoodu Ulamaa Al-Hanafiyyah Fee Ibtaal Aqaa’id Al-Qubooriyyeen. Vol 1. Page 19-25]
[2: Aqeedah Ash-Shaafi’ee. Page 87. http://al-badr.net/sub/228 ]
[3: Source: Quoted in ”An-Nahjul Aqwaa. Introduction by Shaikh Saaleh Al-Fawzaan and Shaikh Abdul Azeez Aala Shaikh. page: 126]
[4: An-Nahjul Aqwaa’ with the introduction of Shaikh Fawzaan and Shaikh Abdul Azeez Aala Shaikh. Page: 127
[5: Aqeedah Ash-Shaafi’ee. Page: 86]
[6: An Excerpt from Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm page 347. Slightly paraphrased]
[7: Al-Mukhtaaraat Al-Bahiyyah Min Kutub Shaikhil Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah. Page 281. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 8: Naseehat Ahl Eemaan Fee Radd alaa Mantiq al Yunaan. page:157]
[Ref 9: Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm page 28. paraphrased]
[Ref 10: An Excerpt from Al-Mukhtaaraat Al-Bahiyyah Min Kutub Shaikhil Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah. 290-291. Slightly paraphrased]”