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TWO WAYS TO KNOW THE CREATOR
  • Book Title:
 Two Ways To Know The Creator
  • Book Author:
Ibn Qayyim, salafi publications
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26
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Two Ways to Know the Creator From the Words of Ibn al-Qayyim

INTRODUCTION – Two Ways to Know the Creator

All Praise is due to Allaah, we praise Him, seek His aid and His Forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allaah from the evils of our souls and the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allaah guides there is none to misguide and whomsoever Allaah misguides there is none to guide. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, alone, without any partners and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THIS PAPER

This paper draws upon the words and statements of one of the Imaams of Salafiyyah, the Shaikhs of Islaam, Ibn al-Qayyim al- Jawziyyah in explanation of the existence of the Originator and Creator, the manner of acquiring knowledge of Him and how reflection upon the signs of Allaah in the creation leads to a better understanding of His Names and Attributes and increases a person Imaan – all in comparison to an innovated methodology that is spread today.

The paper consists of two passages in al-Fawaa’id in which the way of arriving at the knowledge of Allaah, the Originator and Creator is discussed. These passages have been divided into four excerpts to make easier reading and additional notes and relevant material has been added in order to aid comprehension.

BEWARE OF INNOVATORY METHODOLOGIES IN THIS REGARD

It is important to understand that the materials in this paper are to be understood in their proper context. For the issue of the existence of Allaah is something that is so apparent and clear and so obvious that the Ulamaa of Ahl us-Sunnah are hardly known to have talked about it in depth in their works and writings. As the Messengers of Allaah said, “What, is there any doubt about Allaah?” (Ibrahim 14:10). So the issue is not really the existence of Allaah – since that is as apparent as the daylight, but it is the issue of knowing His Names and Attributes and His right to be worshipped alone. The real issue is the issue of Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat and Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah specifically.

Unfortunately, many Muslims, both the learned and ignorant, have adopted a certain methodology in this issue which is extremely dangerous and which is spread within Muslim circles. This methodology requires that a Muslim “prove his faith” by way of reflection upon the creation of Allaah and to attain “certainty” by researching and investigating the natural phenomena in order to ascertain the “truthfulness” of the Islamic belief. And this methodology is baatil, and has elements of the Mu’tazilite doctrine and also is a way of leading Muslims to confusion, heresy and even disbelief – and refuge is from Allaah.

In particular, this methodology has been adopted by Abdul-Majeed az-Zindani of Yemen (amongst other modern-day Mu’tazilites) and is taught in his University of Heresy, Jaami’at ul-Imaan to Muslims2. Making the discussion of the “scientific miracle” of the Qur’aan or investigating and scientifically studying the natural phenomena into the overall basis of the call to Islaam, or giving an exaggerated emphasis to it and is a deviation from the Methodology of the Prophets. It is even worse when it is made the basis of Imaan for Muslims(!!). And this is where the heresy of az-Zindani lies in that he has made the subject of Tawheed and Imaan to be almost synonymous with what is called the “scientific miracle” of the Qur’aan, bordering, if not wallowing in the ways of the Mu’tazilah, from certain angles. Az-Zindani teaches his book “Tawheed ul-Khaaliq” in his University of Bid’ah in Yemen.

Az-Zindani makes the most desired goal, especially in our times to be “…tying the true realities [of the religion] with their evidences that exist in the creation…” –and this is the basis of his work on Tawheed entitled, “Tawheed ul-Khaaliq”, and then he makes this “the knowledge of Tawheed, which is the basis of your religion”, and in reality this is but Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah, not Uloohiyyah. Az-Zindani defines Tawheed as “the knowledge that is investigated into in order to establish and affirm [one’s] religious beliefs with convincing rational and textual proofs that put an end to doubts”, and this is the basis upon which his book is built, being nothing but the repugnant madhhab of the Mu’tazilah, who innovated this bid’ah of intellecutally “proving” your faith. Then he adds to this and says, “You know that the knowledge of Tawheed (i.e. as he has explained it) is fard ‘ayn upon every Muslim male and female so that every Muslim can attain both satisfaction and contentment of the heart and intellect that he is upon the true religion…”. And he also opines, “And from the proud aspects of Islaam is that it is built upon intellect (‘aql), and it never asks its adherents to stiffen their capabilities of thought…”. All of this is from the aforementioned book of az-Zindani.

In reality, this type of knowledge that az-Zindani speaks of is most often the knowledge that involves speaking about Allaah without knowledge itself(!!).

Ibn Abil-Izz al-Hanafi said, “And for this reason it is correct the at the first obligation upon the Mukallaf (obligated) is to bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone, not investigation, or beginning from the stage of doubt (shakk) which are the sayings of the Lords of blameworthy rhetoric (kalaam).” And these words are quoted by Ibn Abil-Izz al-Hanafi word for word from Ibn al-Qayyim in his “Madaarij us-Saalikeen”.

As for az-Zindani’s way then it is to assume doubt and speculation(!!) and then to attempt to remove it with his particular type of knowledge of Tawheed(!!). In the process az-Zindani has fell into many heresies and novelties, twisted and distorted verses of the Qur’an, praised the religions of the Jews and Christians (since many of his teachers are actually Jews and Christian professors and doctors of science), called for nearness to them and much  more. For full details of this refer to the aforementioned book of Shaikh Yahyaa al-Hajooree.

It was necessary to provide this introduction to highlight the difference between what is sometimes discussed and alluded to by the Scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah such as Ibn al-Qayyim and Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah and between az-Zindani and his likes from those who give the intellect or scientific observation and experiment a place and a role that does not befit it, or which is out of place or context, or which is used for other than the true, desired objective.

For az-Zindani makes this novelty of proving one’s faith with convincing rational proofs to be fard ‘ayn upon a Muslim so that he can establish and affirm his Imaan and so that he can achieve both peace of mind and heart about his Imaan, whereas the Imaams and Scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah encourage reflection and observation upon Allaah’s creation as a means to strengthen Imaan and take signs and lessons from all of that and to realise further how there is truly none worthy of worship except Allaah alone and to relate that to Allaah’s Names and Attributes and to understand the creation in light of all of that.

The basis of Imaan does not require reflection and contemplation and intellectual proof for it to be established. Rather, one merely utters the Shahaadah with assent (tasdeeq) and his Imaan (i.e. Islaam) is correct and valid. As for az-Zindani’s way then it encourages doubt and speculation and indulging in idle chatter – and indeed this is what the Scholars and Students of Knowledge from Ahl us-Sunnah have observed from those who come out of az-Zindani’s University – they are led to confusion and bewilderment, wal-Iyaadhu billaah.

It is also vital to understand here that az-Zindani has mixed truth with falsehood in his approach, and hence it is more confusing and difficult for the average person to understand his deviation and the inherent deviation found in the ways and practices of those who have adopted a methodology similar to his in the ways of giving da’wah. Since, from one angle a person sees what actually has a basis in the Qur’an, but it is mixed with something else, that is actually deviation and heresy.

The Qur’aan indeed encourages reflection and contemplation – but this is not necessarily to prove or justify or verify or ascertain one’s faith or to merely acknowledge Allaah’s existence and Ruboobiyyah, but to establish and affirm his Uloohiyyah.

Ibn Kathir said concerning the verse, “Do they not look in the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all things that Allâh has created, and that it may be that the end of their lives is near. In what message after this will they then believe?” (Al-A’raf 7:185), “[Meaning], do they not look at those who reject our signs in the dominion of Allaah and His ownership and control over the heavens and the earth and in whatever He has created so that they may reflect upon that, ponder over it and come to know that He is the one who has no equal, or like, and that it is the work of the One besides whom none is worthy of worship and sincere devotion. So as a result of this they may believe in Him, believe in His Messenger and repent and return to His obedience and abandon the various rivals (in worship) and idols and that they may beware that their final time has come ever near and that they might die and perish upon their disbelief, and so they advance to the punishment of Allaah and the severity of His chastisement.”

Hence, the signs of Allaah in the creation are tied to His Uloohiyyah (His sole right to be worshipped) and any reflection and contemplation upon them is actually tied to understanding and acknowledging his Uloohiyyah. Unfortunately, the doctrine of az-Zindani and his approach and methodology, does not actually go beyond the Ruboobiyyah of Allaah when calling the non-Muslims to believe in the Qur’aan. For this reason, we see many of those whom he praises from his Christian and Jewish associates and teachers remaining upon their disbelief – thinking that the Qur’aan calls for a belief in an overall Creator and that they already affirm an overall Creator and that the Qur’aan – on account of its Scientific Miracle – is an amazing book and the Gospel and Torah are also amazing books and contain amazing things, so we are alright.

From another angle, the Qur’an also indicates that Allaah will show His signs to the disbelievers, those signs that in their own selves and in the horizons until it becomes clear to them that the Qur’an is the truth. Because az-Zindani has been involved in this practice of taking the Qur’aan to the disbelievers and soliciting their views on some of the natural phenomena touched upon in the Qur’aan, this hides his deviation from other aspects in this approach and methodology, since this action of his seems to have an apparent support from the Qur’aan. Underneath this is his deviation of wallowing in the Mu’tazilite way and promoting this amongst Muslims and encouraging the “verification” of Islamic beliefs by scientific study and dependence upon the intellect, his promotion of the intellect as the basis of corroborating Islaam and other matters that have been outlined above. He encourages this amongst Muslims themselves, so that they are intellectually convinced of their faith.

Hence, it is necessary for the Sunni to be aware of all of what has preceded for mistakes in this area lead to a deviation from the Methodology of the Prophets in calling to Allaah and to His Tawheed, the Tawheed of Uloohiyyah that is, not the Tawheed of the Mu’tazilites and other strayers.

As for arguing with Atheists, then there is no doubt that a growing and large number of people from the lands of the Unbelievers entertain the belief of the absence of a supreme Creator and Originator. And calling them to Islaam requires that they come to believe in a Creator and Originator and then come to know of His Names and Attributes and know of the obligation to worship Him alone, by way of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. One also must be aware that Atheism has many factors. It could be disillusionment with Christianity, or it could merely be out of arrogance and pride, or it could be due to belief in weird and wonderful theories such as the Evolutionary theory, or belief in other theories of the explanation for human civilisation on this Earth, all of which are merely theories, mere conjecture and playing with idle falsehoods, with no proof, nor evidence, nor sense nor justice.

It is important to bear in mind the above observations when reading the words of Ibn al-Qayyim below.

The materials below are intended to put “observation” and “reflection” within their proper contexts and to curb this great excitement with “the Scientific Miracle”, most of which is based upon conjecture and unfounded knowledge. This does not mean that there are no knowledge-based miracles in the Qur’aan and no-one denies them either. But the issue is the exaggeration in this regard, and then using this as a primary methodology in inviting to Islaam and also in encouraging Muslims to “prove” their faith – this is an error.

Hence, those who are infatuated with the “scientific miracle” of the Qur’an and try to seek out discussions of natural phenomena in the Qur’aan and their correlation with scientific data etc., need to take care and be careful and fearful of speaking about Allaah and His Book without knowledge.

IN SUMMARY

There is a difference between the two approaches discussed above and they are:

  1. What can be found sometimes in the words of the Salaf, past and present (such as Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim Ibn Uthaimeen etc.) in relation to indications of intellectual proofs that can be used to indicate the existence of a Creator and attain some knowledge of Him, and which in fact have their basis in the fitrah. However, these proofs are not obligatory to know or to learn in order to establish one’s Imaan or Tawheed, and being ignorant of them causes no damage or harm to one’s Islaam, Tawheed or Imaan. Also what is found in the sayings of the Salaf that encourage reflection upon Allaah’s signs in the Universe in order to strengthen one’s Imaan and knowledge of Allaah and to gain an understanding of how Allaah’s Names and Attributes relate to the creation and how they relate to the commands and prohibitions.
  2. The Mu’tazilee madhhab of az-Zindaanee which encourages every Muslim to “prove” his faith intellectually and to arrive at “certainty” by rational proofs and “ease of mind” and “satisfaction of the heart” and other such states – all by way of intellectual proofs and rational arguments, and by way of the great “Scientific Miracle” and that this is the required and desired Tawheed, that every Muslim cannot be free of(!!) and that every Muslim must engage in the likes of this to avoid having “doubt” in his religion – and then teaching this as part of the curriculum on Tawheed (to Muslims!!).

So there is a difference between the two ways – though apparently, the ways and mechanisms behind them appear to be one. And one ought to be careful in falling into the extreme of az-Zindani and some of the callers (du’aat) of today in this regard, for this is a matter that is related to calling to Allaah and inviting to Him and to belief in Him and to the worship of Him and to His Tawheed. Hence, this is Ibaadah, and thus, one must be free of innovated approaches and methods in this regard.

And what occurs in this paper, is merely an illustration that some of the Salaf have alluded to some intellectual proofs or understandings that indicate the existence of Allaah, and that it is sometimes possible for a person to attain some knowledge of Allaah by way of reflecting upon His signs, and that such intellectual proofs and understandings may be used as arguments against those who deny Allaah, when it is appropriate to do so – and that all of this is in opposition to and different to what has been innovated into the arena of da’wah of exaggeration and extremism by the likes of az-Zindani and his Bankrupt Brethren.

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