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Limitation of Doubt

In the previous post was mentioned the famous dictum of a skeptical philosopher 'who forgot to mention the right consequence' of the word 'therefore' in his dictum, and what that original quote of Descartes proves is what Nasr states as:
You can negate everything, doubt everything, but you cannot doubt the instrument by which you are doubting (everything else).
Nasr also goes on to mention the "hanging man" of great Persian philosopher Ibn-e-Sina which not only explains the dilemma of men 'bend on denying the Truth', but also the great difficulty they face in rejecting practically everything (which is simply impossible): "Ibn-e-Sina talks of a hanging man, who is hung in the middle of space. His feet don't touch anything; his legs don't touch anything. He doesn't know where he is. [Thus] he can doubt the existence of earth, he can doubt the existence of air - there is nothing he cannot doubt! The one [and only] thing he cannot doubt is himself that is doubting everything."

I think therefore...

'I think therefore God is.' Not that "I think therefore I am."

- Seyyed Hossein Nasr, "In the Beginning was Consciousness," The Dudleian Lecture delivered at Harvard Divinity School.

"Al-Ghazali: The Reaction of Orthodox Islam against the Rationalistic Philosophers"

Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his monumental Science and Civilization in Islam writes in a section on Ghazali under the chapter: "Controversies of Philosophy and Theology":

"The reaction of orthodox Islam, both the theologians and also certain gnostics,against the rationalistic philosophers, especially as to the sciences of Nature, is best exemplified in al-Ghazzali's "confessions," Deliverance from Error (here are a few quotes from the book), in which he enumerates various philosophical and scientific schools and their limitation:

"Concerning the Philosophical Sects and the Stigma of Infidelity Which Attaches to Them All

The philosophical systems, in spite of their number and variety, may be reduced to three: (1) the Materialists; (2) the Naturalists; (3) the Theists.

(1) The Materialists. They reject an intelligent and omnipotent Creator and disposer of the universe. In their view the world exists from all eternity and had no author. The animal comes from semen and semen from the animal; so it had always been and will always be; those who maintain this doctrine are atheists.

(2) The Naturalists. These devote themselves to the study of nature and of the marvelous phenomena of the animal and vegetable world. Having carefully analyzed animal organs with the help of anatomy, struck with the wonders of God's work and with the wisdom therein revealed, they are forced to admit the existence of a wise Creator who knows the end and purpose of everything. And certainly no one can study anatomy and the wonderful mechanism of living things without being obliged to confess the profound wisdom of him who has framed the bodies of animals and especially of man. But carried away by their natural researches they believed that the existence of a being absolutely depended upon the proper equilibrium of its organism. According to them, as the latter perishes and is destroyed, so is the thinking faculty which is bound up with it; and as they assert that the restoration of a thing once destroyed to existence is unthinkable, they deny the immortality of the soul. Consequently they deny heaven, hell, resurrection, and judgment. Acknowledging neither a recompense for good deeds nor a punishment for evil ones, they fling off all authority and plunge into sensual pleasures with the avidity of brutes. These also ought to be called atheists, for the true faith depends not only on the acknowledgment of God, but of his Apostle and of the day of judgment. And although they acknowledge God and his attributes, they deny a judgment to come.

(3) The Theists. Among them should be reckoned Socrates, who was the teacher of Plato as Plato was of Aristotle. This latter drew up for his disciples the rules of logic, organized the sciences, elucidated what was formerly obscure, and expounded what had not been understood. This school refuted the systems of the two others, i.e., the Materialists and Naturalists; but in exposing their mistaken and perverse beliefs, they made use of arguments which they should not. "God suffices to protect the faithful in war" (Qur'an, xxxiii. 25).

Aristotle also contended with success against the theories of Plato, Socrates, and the theists who had preceded him, and separated himself entirely from them; but he could not eliminate from his doctrine the stains of infidelity and heresy which disfigure the teaching of his predecessors. We should therefore consider them all as unbelievers, as well as the so-called Muslim philosophers, such as Ibn Sina [Avicenna] and Al Farabi, who have adopted their systems.

Let us, however, acknowledge that among Muslim philosophers none has better interpreted the doctrine of Aristotle than the latter. What others have handed down as his teaching is full of error, confusion, and obscurity adapted to disconcert the reader. The unintelligible can neither be accepted nor rejected. The philosophy of Aristotle, all serious knowledge of which we owe to the translation of these two learned men, may be divided into three portions: the first contains matter justly chargeable with impiety, the second is tainted with heresy, and the third we are obliged to reject absolutely. We proceed to details:



Divisions of the Philosophic Sciences

These sciences, in relation to the aim we have set before us, may be divided into six sections:

(1) Mathematics; (2) Logic; (3) Physics; (4) Metaphysics; (5) Politics; (6) Moral Philosophy.

(1) Mathematics. Mathematics comprises the knowledge of calculation, geometry, and cosmography: it has no connection with the religious sciences, and proves nothing for or against religion; it rests on a foundation of proofs which, once known and understood, can not be refuted. Mathematics tend, however, to produce two bad results. The first is this: Whoever studies this science admires the subtlety and clearness of its proofs. His confidence in philosophy increases, and he thinks that all its departments are capable of the same clearness and solidity of proof as mathematics. But when he hears people speak of the unbelief and impiety of mathematicians, of their professed disregard for the Divine law, which is notorious, it is true that, out of regard for authority, he echoes these accusations, but he says to himself at the same time that, if there was truth in religion, it would not have escaped those who have displayed so much keenness of intellect in the study of mathematics.

Next, when he becomes aware of the unbelief and rejection of religion on the part of these learned men, he concludes that to reject religion is reasonable. How many of such men gone astray I have met whose sole argument was that just mentioned. And supposing one puts to them the following objection: "It does not follow that a man who excels in one branch of knowledge excels in all others, nor that he should be equally versed in jurisprudence, theology, and medicine. It is possible to be entirely ignorant of metaphysics, and yet to be an excellent grammarian. There are past masters in every science who are entirely ignorant of other branches of knowledge. The arguments of the ancient philosophers are rigidly demonstrative in mathematics and only conjectural in religious questions. In order to ascertain this one must proceed to a thorough examination of the matter." Supposing, I say, one makes the above objection to these "apes of unbelief," they find it distasteful. Falling a prey to their passions, to a besotted vanity, and the wish to pass for learned men, they persist in maintaining the preeminence of mathematicians in all branches of knowledge. This is a serious evil, and for this reason those who study mathematics should be checked from going too far in their researches. For though far removed as it may be from the things of religion, this study, serving as it does as an introduction to the philosophic systems, casts over religion its malign influence. It is rarely that a man devotes himself to it without robbing himself of his faith and casting off the restraints of religion.

The second evil comes from the sincere but ignorant Muslims who thinks the best way to defend religion is by rejecting all the exact sciences. Accusing their professors of being astray, he rejects their theories of the eclipses of the sun and moon, and condemns them in the name of religion. These accusations are carried far and wide, they reach the ears of the philosopher who knows that these theories rest on infallible proofs; far from losing confidence in them, he believes, on the contrary, that Islam has ignorance and the denial of scientific proofs for its basis, and his devotion to philosophy increases with his hatred to religion.

It is therefore a great injury to religion to suppose that the defense of Islam involves the condemnation of the exact sciences. The religious law contains nothing which approves them or condemns them, and in their turn they make no attack on religion. The words of the Prophet, "The sun and the moon are two signs of the power of God; they are not eclipsed for the birth or the death of any one; when you see these signs take refuge in prayer and invoke the name of God"---these words, I say, do not in any way condemn the astronomical calculations which define the orbits of these two bodies, their conjunction and opposition according to particular laws. But as for the so-called tradition, "When God reveals himself in anything, he abases himself thereto," it is unauthentic, and not found in any trustworthy collection of the traditions. Such is the bearing and the possible danger of mathematics.

(2) Logic. This science, in the same manner, contains nothing for or against religion. Its object is the study of different kinds of proofs and syllogisms, the conditions which should hold between the premises of a proposition, the way to combine them, the rules of a good definition, and the art of formulating it. For knowledge consists of conceptions which spring from a definition or of convictions which arise from proofs. There is therefore nothing censurable in this science, and it is laid under contribution by theologians as well as by philosophers. The only difference is that the latter use a particular set of technical formulas and that they push their divisions and subdivisions further.

It may be asked, What, then, this has to do with the grave questions of religion, and on what ground opposition should be offered to the methods of logic? The objector, it will be said, can only inspire the logician with an unfavorable opinion of the intelligence and faith of his adversary, since the latter's faith seems to be based upon such objections. But, it must be admitted, logic is liable to abuse. Logicians demand in reasoning certain conditions which lead to absolute certainty, but when they touch on religious questions they can no longer postulate these conditions, and ought therefore to relax their habitual rigor. It happens, accordingly, that a student who is enamored of the evidential methods of logic, hearing his teachers accused of irreligion, believes that this irreligion reposes on proofs as strong as those of logic, and immediately, without attempting the study of metaphysics, shares their mistake. This is a serious disadvantage arising from the study of logic.

(3) Physics. The object of this science is the study of the bodies which compose the universe: the sky and the stars, and, here below, simple elements such as air, earth, water, fire, and compound bodies-animals, plants, and minerals the reasons of their changes, developments, and intermixture. By the nature of its researches it is closely connected with the study of medicine, the object of which is the human body, its principal and secondary organs, and the law which governs their changes. Religion having no fault to find with medical science, can not justly do so with physical, except on some special matters which we have mentioned in the work entitled, The Destruction of the Philosophers. Besides these primary questions, there are some subordinate ones depending on them, on which physical science is open to objection. But all physical science rests, as we believe, on the following principle: Nature is entirely subject to God; incapable of acting by itself, it is an instrument in the hand of the Creator; sun, moon, stars, and elements are subject to God and can produce nothing of themselves. In a word, nothing in nature can act spontaneously and apart from God."
___________________________

Note: The translation Dr. Nasr used is different from the one used here. His reference is this: "W. Montgomery Watt, The Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazali (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1935), pp. 30-36." My source: http://www.ghazali.org/books/md/gz101.htm; 'From: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 99-133. This was a reprint of The Confessions of al-Ghazali, trans. by Claud Field, (London: J. Murray, 1909)...'

A Poem of the way sung by Mufti Taqi Usmani

How many times can we get to a hear poem sung with rhythm in melodic tunes by a scholar of the stature of Maulana Taqi Usmani! And what is more important is the content, the prayer itself, the yearning of the poet... The way of expression of submission to Allah, S.W.T... All beautiful...

The demon of the believer vs. The demon of the unbeliever; And a very beautiful prayer

I found this very fine comparison made between the difference of being a believer (he who fears Allah) and non-believer (he who conceals truth, and doesn't believe in Allah, His last revelation, prophets, etc.) in The Marvels of Heart, by Imam Al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy on him). It shows the usefulness of being a muttaqi (one who fears Allah and abides by laws and commands), and clear disadvantages of not being a muttaqi. In it signs for those who understand.
"Abu Hurairan related that the demon of the believer met the demon of the unbeliever. The demon of the unbeliever was sleek fat, and well clothed, while the demon of the unbeliever was emaciated, dishevelled, dust-colored, and naked. The unbeliever's demon asked that of the believer, "What is the matter with you that you are so emaciated?" He replied, "He replied, "I am with a man who names the name of Allah when he eats, and so I stay hungry. He repeats the name when he drinks, so I stay thirsty. He says the name when he dresses, and I continue naked; and when he anoints himself he repeats the name and I remain disheveled." The other said, "I dwell with a man who does nothing all this, so I share with him in his food, his drink, and his clothing."


"Muhammad bin Nasir/Wasir (?) used to say every day after the morning prayer, "O Allah, thou hast given power over to us an enemy who has insight into our cohorts sees us as we cannot see them. O Allah, cause him to despair of us even as thou hast caused him to despair of thy mercy. Make him abandon hope of us you hast made him abandon hope of thy pardon. Remove him far from us as thou hast removed him far from thy mercy, for thou art able to do all things."

Self-Respect and Arrogance

Arrogance is not self-respect; self-respect not arrogance.

Once Prophet (SAW) said to his companions that if a Muslim has even an iota of arrogance in him, he'll not enter heaven. Upon hearing this a person said to the Prophet of God that he loved good clothes and good shoes a lot, meaning by, whether it is included into arrogance or not. Prophet replied that God Himself loves beauty (jamal)! "Arrogance (garror) is to deny the truth and to insult others," he said. (The hadith is not an accurate tranlsation but meaning is translated. Quoted from Seeratun Nabi, by Allama Shabli Noumani, Vol # 6.)

Even if I sit in the back seat of my car, and not in the front seat with my driver, thinking that I'm somehow different than him, or if I wish to insult him through this gesture (thanks to the my obscured, demented intelligence!), this is arrogance, which is explicitly unacceptable in Islam as per the already mentioned hadith. To call oneself the servant of God is to dominate one's desires, and be steadfast in the face of unlawful urges and temptation, and much more is required in this path. Only a few can dare to call themselves the servants of God, if they speak truth.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

I bought the children version of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson a few months ago to gift it to my sister. The mere title and the illustration of a boy holding a telescope out in search for treasure Island was interesting enough for the relishing of a curious mind. But the book didn't get attention of its kind owner due to various reasons. Thus, this time before setting out for a 2-hour long journey, I wished to fulfill its desire to be made known of itself, picked it for a reading with a child's state of mind, thinking: there's got to be stupefying surprises on the turn of every page, horrible paths the boy'd have tread on, heroic battles he may have fought, the journeys would have been hectic, demanding two priceless qualities, faith and patience. Then i thought, if I can learn about the latter two priceless human qualities by any way, whether through contemplation, narration or story-telling, or in a philosophical discourse, I'm ready to do it. It is because I've chosen to follow one particular sunnah (way of life) of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and that is patience, which according to Ali Hajvery, 'is a strange thing'.

There was, however, more in this story than the exemplary show of faith and patience by those characters who were honest and just, it was the wild ideas and dauntlessways of doing things by the central character that boy named Jim Hawkins. Had it not for his being aggressively wild and crazy (a more appropriate designation), his team would not have been saved. This is not a fantasy fiction book. There have been crazy people in my family as well, or in any family. People who have a contempt for being settled, an idea too remote for sedentary people, but if us the sedentary people can think of the delight of dispelling faith in the means of this world, and putting our trust in One God, by leaving everything in His hands and set out for destinations that may not exist - if they can taste the flavour of that liberty that doesn't lie in 'doing' and satisfying the temptations of soul, they surely would induce a desire to be free, the same desire that boy had.Image source
(This is the map of the notorious treasure island.)

Free Talk to God

There are different kinds of prayers. One is free talk to God in which you talk to Him, as Frithjof Schuon remarks. Here is an amazing "advice" I found on a very useful blog, mentioning such a way of praying as free talk. I hope it'll cure many problems of mine that up till now lack a solution. It is a very beautiful advice as well - you'll notice that.
"Develop this habit of talking to Allah. My shaykh Arif-billah Hadhrat Dr Abdul-Hayy ‘Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him) told this to us repeatedly. Sit in solitude and contemplate that I am infront of Allah. Tell Him everything that is on your mind and bothering you. Your past mistakes, the present difficulties and future apprehensions . Tell Him in detail and ask for guidance and help. InshaAllah, in addition, to relieving your anxiety it will lead to the creation of a bond between you and your Lord, Allah (ta’luq ma Allah).”"
Source: http://www.ashrafiya.com/

A '+9 G' Maneuver with a Rotation to the Vertical

I have always dreamed of flying as a combat pilot in Pakistan Air Force (PAF). One day I may. Here is a cool display of what I may be doing partially at the prestigious Combat Commanders School of PAF, although this show by F-16 is an aerobatic display by, I presume, a European F-16. Physically and mentally the maneuvers are excruciating. The physicists better understand what a positive 9 G turn in the air means for a human body. (I'll explain it later maybe.)

Heart's Supreme Desire

My friend introduced this "naat" to me by Junaid Jamshed. Although I'm not so pure to have such a high desire the poet has expressed in this melodic poem of him, but I felt that such a desire must be of the highest kind. Unfortunately, it's in Urdu without any subtitles in English.

Supreme Court bench declares Nov 2007 emergency unconstitutional


* 14-member Supreme Court bench declares Nov 2007 emergency unconstitutional
* Says office of chief justice did not fall vacant on November 3, 2007

"
The Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict on Friday as a 14-member larger bench unanimously declared “unconstitutional” the November 3, 2007 emergency, and said the “unconstitutional appointment” of Justice Dogar as chief justice would not affect the validity of any administrative or financial acts performed by him or of any oath administered by him.

According to a 14-page short order read out by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, 'Pervez Musharraf, under the garb of the emergency and the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), made amendments in the constitution for ... powers which are all unconstitutional, unauthorised, without any legal basis ... without any legal consequences.'" (Source.)

People are in Pakistan are saying that this verdict by Supreme Court may actually change the course of flow of its constitutional and judicial history. Here's the text of this verdict issued by SC of Pakistan.


...JUDGEMENT
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, CJ.

The above Constitutional Petitions bearing Nos. 9 of 2009 and 8 of 2009 involve common questions of facts and law and are disposed of by this single judgment.

2. In the first mentioned petition, the petitioner while referring to several provisions of Constitution and the case law, beside making other contentions, legal and factual, has stated, in para No.5, that:
“The removal of Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts on 3.11.2007 was not only violative of Article 209 of the Constitution, 1973 but was against the rule laid down by the bench of twelve (12) Judges of Supreme Court in the case of Syed Zafar Ali Shah (PLD 2000 SC 869). The subsequent validation in the case of Tika Iqbal Khan (PLD 2008 SC 178) a smaller bench of the Supreme Court is per-incuriam and in any event, is not by a Supreme Court that is de jure. It is respectfully submitted, that Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar could not be treated as Constitutional head of the Supreme Court even after the decision in the case of Tika Iqbal Khan (supra) as he himself was the real beneficiary of the said Judgement and contrary to one of the cardinal principles of natural justice, “no person should be judge in his own cause” had headed the bench. Hence, in view of the facts and reasons stated above Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is still the Chief Justice of Pakistan as per Constitution and all appointments and re-appointments made in the Supreme Court and High Courts without consultation of de jure Chief justice of Pakistan are unlawful, illegal, ultra-vires of the Constitution as well as malafide”.

3. Having made above averments, the petitioner has, inter-alia, sought a declaration to the effect that the respondents Nos 3 and 4 namely Justice Zaffar Ahmad Khan Sherwani and Justice Abdul Rashid Kalwar are and continue to be Judges of High Court of Sindh and that they would continue as Additional Judges till 25.8.2010 and that their term of appointment has not expired as opined by Mr. Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, as then he was called. During the course of his submissions, learned counsel appearing for him prayed further that following declarations be also granted:
i) that the purported acts done by General Pervez Musharraf, (Rtd) between 3.11.2007 to 16.12.2007 aimed at to suspend and amend the Constitution through several instruments are unconstitutional, invalid and without any legal consequence;
ii) that on account of his acts taken during 3.11.2007 to 15.12.2007 relating to superior judiciary, General Pervez Musharraf (Rtd) became a usurper;
iii) all the appointments of judges of superior judiciary on or after 3.11.2007 up till 22.3.2008 which were without consultation of de-jure Chief Justice of Pakistan are/were unconstitutional, invalid and without any legal consequence;
iv) that the two (so called) judgements dated 23.11.2007 and 15.2.2008 on Constitutional Petitions No. 87 and 88 of 2007 filed by Tika Iqbal Muhammad and WATAN Party and the Review Petition No.7 of 2008 filed by the former are/were nullity in law, being decisions per incuriam, corum-non-judice, without any legal basis and based on malafide proceedings rendered by biased persons of Tribunal (then calling themselves as Judges of this Court) fraudulently, collusively and lacking in bona-fides;

4. In the other petition No. 8 of 2009 which has been filed by Nadeem Ahmad, a practicing Advocate, while criticising the judgement delivered in case of Tikka Iqbal Muhammad Khan versus Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2008 SC 178), the petitioner has, inter-alia, averred as follows:
“All the persons who were not judges on 3rd November 2007 but who were brought into Supreme Court and High Courts as ‘judges’ despite the fact that the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan was never consulted before their appointment which meant that they were never appointed under the Constitution.”
AND
“On the night of 22 March 2009, issuance of cause lists comprising persons who have not been appointed in strict adherence to Article 177 and who are therefore complete strangers to the Supreme Court, is a serious matter and it is incumbent on the Honourable Chief Justice, before proceeding with any other judicial work, to forthwith stop all these persons from hearing any cases till such time that he, along with other validly appointed judges, are able to look into and judicially determine validity of their appointments as judges.”

5. The petitioner has, among others, sought a declaration that all those persons, both in Supreme Court and High Courts, regardless of whether they have taken oath under PCO or the Constitution, who have been appointed without ‘consultation’ of Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan as not judges and therefore, not entitled to function as such.

6. On 22.7.2009 a notice was issued to General Pervez Musharraf (r) on his available address intimating him about the proceedings in this case and 29.7.2009 as the date fixed therein before this court. The Process Serving Officer reported on the same day that he had gone to the residential place viz: C-1, B Park Road, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad where a person identifying himself as Muhammad Hussain son of Amir and that on formers offer the latter refused to receive the notice. The factum of issuance of the afore-referred notice was widely televised through National and International TV channels. Also, it was widely published in National and International print media, but, on the date so fixed no one entered appearance.

7. We have heard learned counsel for petitioners and learned Attorney General for Pakistan.

8. Before dilating upon the pleas taken in the arguments by learned counsel for the parties, in our view, some of the facts/events which took place before 3rd November, 2007 touching the very basis of the issues involved in the matter are brought on record.

9. In our country, during sixty years of its independence after partition, to the misfortune of people, several times, the Constitutions framed by Legislative Bodies were desecrated. Sovereignty of people was not allowed to flourish and get deep-rooted in the polity of our country. Prior to 3rd November, 2007, the Constitutions were either abrogated or put in abeyance and the democratic system of governance was put to an end. For the first time, Constitution of 1956 was abrogated on 7th October, 1958 and Martial Law was imposed by the then president, Sikandar Mirza who dismissed the Central and Provincial Governments; dissolved the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies and abolished all Political Parties and appointed General Muhammad Ayub Khan, the then Commander in Chief as Martial Law Administrator. Sikandar Mirza was soon, within few days, replaced by the latter. On 25th March, 1969, again the then head of Army, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, abrogated the Constitution of 1962 and by proclamation (PLD 1969 Central Statutes 42) Promulgated Martial Law followed by Provisional Constitution Order (Gazette of Pakistan, Extraordinary 4th April, 1969). On 5th July, 1977 once again Martial Law was imposed throughout the country by the then head of Army Chief vis former General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who, vide Proclamation of Martial Law (PLD 1969 Federal Statutes 326) dissolved the National Assembly, the Senate, the Provincial Assemblies etc. and put the Constitution of 1973 in abeyance followed by Laws (Continuance in Force) Order, 1977. When the Constitution was revived, it was undeniably, in a mutilated form by the notorious Eighth Amendment.

For the complete text, click here.

Knowledge/education sans moral and spiritual virtue

A Persian poet, Sana'i, once remarked:
If a thief comes with a lamp, he will be able to steal more precious goods.
A person with mere knowledge and no 'moral and spiritual virtue' is a like a thief with a lamp, as symbolized in the already mentioned quote. This mostly happens when formal education or attainment of knowledge is divorced from the spiritual and moral training of man. In this assertion of Sana'i lies the reflection of the so many, seemingly unsolvable problems the modern literate society faces today, and a clear proclamation of the solution.

(Quote from Traditional Islam in the Modern World, p.124.)
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