In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestowed of Mercy.
Allah [The Most High] said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِيِّ
O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allah and His Messenger, and fear Allah. Verily! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet. [Surah Al-Hujuraat. Aayaat 1-2]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: When it is the case that Allah forbade [us] from giving precedence to [ourselves] over the Messenger, then which type of giving precedence to oneself over the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] can be more severe than giving precedence to one’s intellect over the revelation he was sent with? Many of the pious predecesors stated [that this ayah means]: ‘’do not say anything [about the religion] until the Messenger speaks and do not act until he commands you.’’
The most disobedient person amongst the people and the worst with regards to giving precedence to himself [or herself] over the Messenger is that one who gives precedence to his [or her] intellect or the intellect of another person over the revelation the Messenger was sent with. And when it is the case that Allah has indeed forbidden them from raising their voices above the voice of the Messenger, then how about raising their intellects above the statements of the Messenger and the revelation he came with? [Ref 1]
Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: In this great Sourah there are lofty benefits and rulings. The Muslims are greatly in need of understanding (it), being conscious of it and take benefit from it. In the first part, there is a warning against putting oneself forward before Allah and His Messenger. And that which is obligated on the People of Eemaan is that they are to be followers and not innovators, and that they do not put themselves forward before Allah and His Messenger.
The people of knowledge say (that this ayah means): “Do not speak until you are commanded by Allah and His Messenger, and do not act until the Messenger acts and legislates; do not put (yourselves) forward before him with either speech or action, (but) be you followers of that which has been prescribed for you and that which has been made clear for you in the (Islamic) legislation. This is the way the people of Eemaan are to be -they do not innovate acts of worship and rulings in Allaah’s Sharee’ah. [وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيم – And fear Allah. Verily! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing]. Allah hears their statements and nothing is hidden from Him with regards to your state of affairs. He hears the statements of the slaves and He knows their state of affairs. He knows the truth you utter and other than it. He knows what you do, the truth you utter and other than it. The meaning of (this is that): Be mindful of Him and be warned about (disobeying Him) because nothing is hidden from Him. He hears and He knows your state of affairs. Therefore, it is obligated on you to be followers, and not innovators in Allaah’s Sharee’ah. [Ref 2]
Question to Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz: Shaikh, are the ones who depend on their intellects in understanding many of the affairs of the religion considered to be from those who are mistaken?
Answer: Yes; it is obligated on him not to depend on his intellect, rather he studies the texts and relies on the divine texts from the speech of Allah and that of Allaah’s Messenger [salllal laahu alayhiwa wasallam], because there is guidance in it and direction towards good. As for the intellect, it can be right or wrong. The sects that oppose Ahlus Sunnah were destroyed due to their intellects. They thought that they had good intellects and that their intellects arrived at what is correct and thus they opposed the texts by way of their stagnant intellects which they thought were sound. What was that which made the Jahmiyyah negate the Perfect Names and Attributes of Allah, except due to their corrupt intellects?!
What was it that led the Mutazilah to negate the attributes of Allah and declared that the sinners [i.e. those who die whilst committing the major sins that are lesser that major kufr and major shirk] will remain in the fire forever, except due to their corrupt intellects?! Likewise, is the case of their followers who utter this same speech.
What led the Khawaarij to excommunicate the people due to committing sins – that the sinner is a disbeliever and that he will remain in the fire forever, except due to their corrupt intellects. Likewise this is the case regarding other than them amongst the proponents of religious innovation. The intellects which they depend upon is that which destroy them, because they think that their intellects are safe, sound, good and infallible, whereas that is not the case; rather it is not infallible – commits mistakes a lot; however they hold a good suspicion regarding their intellects and an evil suspicion regarding the texts and thus they are destroyed.
It is obligatory to harbour a good suspicion regarding the texts and an evil suspicion regarding the intellect, and to submit the intellects to the texts. The texts are infallible if their chains of transmission are established to be authentic. As for the intellects, they are fallible. A person susceptible to mistakes, shortcoming and desires. As for the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam], what he conveyed from Allah is infallible. and likewise the Qur’aan is infallible- the speech of Allah. Therefore, it is obligatory that the Qur’aan and Sunnah passes a judgement on your intellect and that you give precedence to the Qur’aan and Sunnah over your intellect- over the intellect of the Shaikh, the Mashaayikh, your forefathers, ancestors and all the people. The texts are given precedence over all the intellects. [Ref 3]
Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Allah [The Most High] said:
[ كَانَ ٱلنَّاسُ أُمَّةً۬ وَٲحِدَةً۬ فَبَعَثَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ لِيَحۡكُمَ بَيۡنَ ٱلنَّاسِ فِيمَا ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِۚ -Mankind were one community (i.e. upon Tawheed and Allaah’s Sharee’ah) and Allah sent Prophets with glad tidings and warnings, and with them He sent the Scripture in truth to judge between people in matters wherein they differed]. [Surah Al-Baqarah’ Aayah 213]
Therefore, Allah [The Most High] designated the revealed Books [i.e. the Qur’aan being the final of them] as the judge between the people in matters wherein they differ”. [Ref 4]
Shaikh Abdur Razzaaq Al-Badr [may Allah preserve him] said, “If you say that the intellect is to be given precedence over the revelation, then which intellect should we follow? Are the intellects of the people combined in the intellect of one man or do they differ? There are intellects of the philosophers, the atheists, the heretics, the people of evil desires and those who confound truth with falsehood; and due to this one of the pious predecessors said, ‘Had the desires been one, it would have been considered to be the [basis of] truth’; therefore, we say, ‘Had the intellects been one, it would have been considered to be the [basis of] truth’”. [Ref 5]
How The Enemies of the Messengers Beautify Falsehood and Its Effects Upon the Feeble Minded
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said:
Allah [The Most High] said:
وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَا لِكُلِّ نَبِىٍّ عَدُوًّ۬ا شَيَـٰطِينَ ٱلۡإِنسِ وَٱلۡجِنِّ يُوحِى بَعۡضُهُمۡ إِلَىٰ بَعۡضٍ۬ زُخۡرُفَ ٱلۡقَوۡلِ غُرُورً۬اۚ وَلَوۡ شَآءَ رَبُّكَ مَا فَعَلُوهُۖ فَذَرۡهُمۡ وَمَا يَفۡتَرُونَ
And so We have appointed for every Prophet enemies – Shayaateen (devils) among mankind and jinns, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion (or by way of deception). If your Lord had so willed, they would not have done it, so leave them alone with their fabrications.” [Surah Al-An’aam: Ayah 112]
Allah [Glorified Be He] stated that they aid one another in opposing the command of the Prophets with what some of them inspire others of adorned speech, so that the gullible and feeble minded people are misled by it. He [The Most High] stated the reason behind a perpetrator’s [adorned speech] and the reason why it is accepted by the people; then He [The Most High] mentioned [in ayah 113 Al-An’aam] the effects it has on those ignorant souls. When those souls incline towards such adorned speech and become pleased with it, they carry out what it calls them to do -in speech and action. Therefore, ponder upon these verses and the sublime meanings they convey, for they clarify the roots of false principles and alert a person against them. And if you ponder upon the statements of the people of falsehood, you will indeed find them clothed with expressions and presented in a good light with sophisticated terms, which are quickly accepted by those deprived of sound discernment-to the extent that the wicked sinners would give [good] names to the greatest types of wicked deeds. [Ref 6]
Iblees and the Proud Intellect
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] also said: It has been stated that the reason behind Iblees being distanced [from Allaah’s Mercy] is because of false interpretation, for indeed he made an analogy with the text and gave precedence to the analogy over the text. He made a false interpretation about himself and that [his so called] rational analogy takes precedence over the command to prostrate. [Allah informed us that Iblees said]:
[أنا خير منه – I am better than him [i.e. Adam], and that a virtuous one cannot humble himself to one who has been given virtue over him; therefore he quickly said [as Allah informed us that Iblees said]: [خلقتني من نار وخلقته من طين – You created me from fire, and him (i.e. Adam) you created from clay]. Therefore, he thought that this rational analogy that resembles truth- even though it is false – will benefit him in his false interpretation. So, he became the leader of everyone- until the day of judgement- who makes a false interpretation of the texts of the revelation. How many a person in this world is followers of this cursed leader! And if you contemplate on the majority of those doubts that are made to resemble the truth by the false interpreters of the texts and seeking to nullify them, you will find that it is similar to the doubts of Iblees which he seeks to portray as truth. So, a person says: If the intellect and the text oppose each other, then give precedence to the intellect. This is where this principle is derived from and he [i.e. the proponent of this affair] use it as a fundamental principle through which he rejects those texts of the revelation which he claims are in opposition to the intellect, just as his leader Iblees claimed that a [so called] rational proof opposed the command to make sujood. This doubt came to him due to pride which prevented him from submitting to the clear texts of the revelation. Likewise, you find every false disputer against the texts of the revelation does so due to pride. Allah [The Exalted] said: [إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُجَادِلُونَ فِي آيَاتِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ سُلْطَانٍ أَتَاهُمْ ۙ إِن فِي صُدُورِهِمْ إِلَّا كِبْرٌ مَّا هُم بِبَالِغِيهِ ۚ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ – Verily, those who dispute about the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, without any authority having come to them, there is nothing else in their breasts except pride [to accept you (Muhammad ) as a Messenger of Allah and to obey you]. They will never have it (i.e. Prophethood which Allah has bestowed upon you). So seek refuge in Allah (O Muhammad from the arrogant people). Verily, it is He Who is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer]. [Surah Ghaafir. Aayah 56] [Ref 6.1]
Fir’awn the Wicked Sinner and His Blind Followers
Allah [The Exalted] said:
فَٱسۡتَخَفَّ قَوۡمَهُ ۥ فَأَطَاعُوهُۚ إِنَّهُمۡ كَانُواْ قَوۡمً۬ا فَـٰسِقِينَ
Thus he [Fir’aun (Pharaoh)] befooled and misled his people, and they obeyed him. Verily, they were ever a people who were Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).
He be fooled their intellects, called them to misguidance and they responded to him. [Ref 7] He stirred up their feelings, befooled their intellects and thus deprived them of intelligence through his plots and misguidance. [Ref 8] He sought to make a fool of them to follow him and thus they quickly responded and followed. He befooled their intellects, so they followed him. [إِنَّهُمۡ كَانُواْ قَوۡمً۬ا فَـٰسِقِينَ – Verily, they were ever a people who were Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah)]- Meaning, this why they hastened to obey that wicked sinner and misguided individual. [Ref 9]
Fir’awn deceived them through those doubts, which were portrayed as something true. He deceived his people and his chiefs through words that neither carried any reality nor were such words a means by way of which truth could be distinguished from falsehood. And those words cannot deceive, except the possessors of feeble intellects. Fir’awn did not possess any proofs; rather he only stated that he was the king of Egypt (at the time) and that the rivers flow beneath him? He did not produce any proof to nullify the message brought by Moosaa [alayhis-salaam], even though Moosaa [alayhis-salaam] had few followers, found it hard to express himself clearly and did not possess the riches that Firawn possessed. However, the fact of the matter is that Fir’awn’s chiefs had no common sense, so they followed whatever he said -whether truth or falsehood. And because they were rebellious sinners, Fir’awn beautified shirk and evil for them. [Ref 10]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Everyone with a bit of (sound) intellect knows that the corruption of the world and its ruin occurs due to giving precedence to opinion over the divine revelation and (evil) desires over sound intellect. These two corrupt motives are not entrenched in a heart except that its destruction becomes inevitable nor in a nation except that its affairs are completely corrupted. [Ref 11]
Ahmad Ibn Aasim Al-Antaakiy [may Allah have mercy upon him] said, “The most beneficial intellect is the one that makes you acknowledge the blessings Allah; aids you in being grateful and oppose (evil) desires”. [Ref 11.1]
Conjecture and Guessing
Allah [The Most High] said:
سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَّابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَجْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ ۖ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ ۚ قُل رَّبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم مَّا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ ۗ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمْ إِلَّا مِرَاءً ظَاهِرًا وَلَا تَسْتَفْتِ فِيهِم مِّنْهُمْ أَحَدًا
[Some] say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen; (yet others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say (O Muhammad): “My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few.” So debate not (about their number, etc.) except with the clear proof (which We have revealed to you). And consult not any of them (people of the Scripture) about (the affair of) the people of the Cave. [18:22]
Allah informed [us] of the differing between the people of the scripture regarding the number of the people of the cave- a differing that [occurred] out of guessing at the unseen, forging statements and speaking about that which they have no knowledge. Some of them said that the people of the cave were three in number and their dog was the fourth, and others said that the people of the cave were five in number and their dog was the sixth. Allah said that these two statements are tantamount to guessing at the unseen, so this indicates that they are false. And amongst them were those who said that the people of the cave were seven in number and their dog was the eighth. This statement-and Allah knows best- is what is correct because Allah declared the first two statements false but did not declare this third one to be false, so this indicates that it is correct.
This differing is one that neither carries any benefit nor are the people benefited by knowing the number of the people of the cave. It contains neither a benefit related to religion nor the worldly affairs and that is why Allah stated: [قُل رَّبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم مَّا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ ۗ – Say (O Muhammad):My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few]; and they are those who know what is correct and known for being upon what is correct.
[ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمْ إِلَّا مِرَاءً ظَاهِرً -So debate not (about their number, etc.) except with the clear proof (which We have revealed to you)] based upon knowledge, certainty and about that which contains benefit. As for debating based on ignorance and guessing at the unseen or about that which has no benefit- either the debater being obstinate or the affair being debated having no benefit- neither any religious nor [praiseworthy] worldly benefit, such as the number of the people of the cave and what is similar to it- then too much debate about it and continuous research regarding it is a waste of time, and it makes the hearts have a strong love for that which has no benefit. [وَلَا تَسْتَفْتِ فِيهِم مِّنْهُمْ أَحَدً – And consult not any of them (people of the Scripture, Jews and Christians) about (the affair of) the people of the Cave] because their speech regarding it is based on guessing at the unseen and conjecture can be of no avail against the truth.
This [Ayah (i.e. 18:22)] proves that it is not permissible for a person to issue a verdict when he is not worthy of it- either due to his inability to issue a verdict in that affair or due to fact that he does not care what he says about the affair because he does not possess that fear of Allah that will stop him from speaking about affairs that are unclear to him, which may harm him in the afterlife. So when it is the case that he has been forbidden from giving verdicts in the likes of this affair, then prohibiting him from giving verdicts [in general] is of a greater prohibition. Also this ayah proves that a person maybe prohibited from giving a verdict in some affair but not in other affairs, so he gives a verdict in that which he is worthy of giving a verdict and not in other affairs because Allah has not prohibited him from giving a verdict completely; rather they were prohibited from giving a verdict regarding the affair of the people of the cave and what is similar to it. [Ref 12]
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from Al-Waabil as-Sayyib’ page: 21. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from Al-Fawaa-id al-Ilmiyyah Min Ad-Durar Al-Baaziyyah: page: 391-392; Vol: 4. Publisher: Daar Ar-Risaalah 1st Ed 1430AH (Year 2009)]
[Ref 4: Dar Ta’aarud Al-Aql Wan-Naql: 9/17-18]
[Ref 5: Muqaddimah Fee Diraasah At-Tawheed’ by Shaikh Abdur-Razzaaq Al-Badr (may Allah preserve him) Lesson: 3]
[Ref 6: An Excerpt from As-Sawaa-iq al-Mursalah of Imaam Ibnul Qayyim: 2/438). Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 6.1: An Excerpt from ‘As-Sawaa’iq Al-Mursalah 1/371-372’. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 7: Al-Misbaah Al-Muneer Fee Tahdheeb Tafseer Ibn Katheer page 1248]
[Ref 8: Zaadul Maseer Fee Ilmit Tafseer. Page 1281]
[Ref 9: Roohul Ma’aanee 14/140 by Imaam al-Aloosee (rahimahullaah)]
[Ref 10: An Excerpt from ‘Tayseer Al-kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam Al-Mannaan’ by Imaam As-Sadi (rahimahullaah)]
[Ref 11: A’laam Al-Muwaqqi’een 1/67-69]
[Ref 11.1: Seerah As-Salaf As-Saaliheen. 1/1073. Chapter: A mention of the At’baa At-Taabi’een]
[Ref 12: Source: An Excerpt from Tayseer Al-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan’. slightly paraphrased]