Saturday, December 31, 2011

Columbus Sufi Circle: New Year's Events for 2012

This multi-Tariqa Columbus Sufi Circle is open to all Sunni and Shia Muslims as well as people of any faith. The program will start at 7:30pm on Saturday, December 31. I will be representing the Traditional Sharia based Shadhili Sufi Order under the guidance of my Shaykh Sidi Muhammad al-Jamal (who lives on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem). People from various orders express themselves differently due to the mix of traditional and neo-Sufis groups. (Without Intra-faith, there is no Inter-faith.) Islam is about the heart, not blind obedience.


5:00 – 6:15 p.m. – Aramaic Prayer Cycle

6:15 - 7:00 p.m. – Heavy hors d'oeuvres and holiday snacks

Those who wish can bring something to share. No obligation to bring anything but oneself however!

7:00 – 8:30 p.m. – Dances of Universal Peace Global Peace Celebration

8:30 – More visiting around refreshments, or departing for quiet evenings at home, or on to other parties!

Come for one or all parts of the evening. Drop by and join in!

Columbus Muslims: Majlis for Imam Hussein (as) at the Ahlul Bayt Society Islamic Center in Columbus, Ohio

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Salafists Killing Christians, Shia and Sunni Muslims in Nigeria

Christmas carnage in Nigeria; 5 churches bombed

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:11 PM EST, Sun December 25, 2011

The devastating scene outside St Theresa Catholic Church near the Nigerian capital Abuja on Sunday.

  • NEW: Nigeria's president condemns Christmas bombings in five cities
  • NEW: Washington offers to help Nigeria find those responsible
  • The government says 16 died in Madalla; witnesses give a higher figure
  • The blasts follow attacks on five churches in Nigeria during last year's Christmas season
Jos, Nigeria (CNN) -- A string of bombs struck churches in five Nigerian cities Sunday, leaving dozens dead and wounded on the holiday, authorities and witnesses said.
The blasts mark the second holiday season that bombs have hit Christian houses of worship in the west African nation. In a statement issued late Tuesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called the bombings "a dastardly act that must attract the rebuke of all peace-loving Nigerians."
"These acts of violence against innocent citizens are an unwarranted affront on our collective safety and freedom," Jonathan said. "Nigerians must stand as one to condemn them."
Bombs targeted churches across the country, hitting the cities of Madalla, Jos, Kano, and Damaturu and Gadaka, said journalist Hassan John, who witnessed the carnage in Jos. The death toll in Madalla alone was 16, Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency spokesman Yushau Shuaib told CNN.
John said witnesses in Madalla reported a higher death toll, with more than 30 killed. Some victims died after being taken to a hospital, he said.
In Damaturu, a northern town in Yobe state, a police station and a state security building were also bombed, an aid worker said. The worker asked not to be named for security reasons.
Nwakpa Okorie, a spokesman for the Nigerian Red Cross, said the some of the wounded were taken to the capital Abuja for treatment.
"The situation is under control now. The security agents have secured the streets close to the bombed areas ... in Madalla, Jos and Dematuru," he said.
Jonathan said his government "will not relent in its determination to bring to justice all the perpetrators of today's acts of violence and all others before now." And in Washington, the White House said U.S. officials would help Nigeria pursue those behind "what initially appear to be terrorist acts."
"We condemn this senseless violence and tragic loss of life on Christmas Day," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a written statement. "We offer our sincere condolences to the Nigerian people and especially those who lost family and loved ones."
The first explosion Sunday struck near a Roman Catholic church in Madalla, west of Abuja, Nigeria's capital, the National Emergency Management Agency said. Church officials were trying to get a picture of what happened in the city.
"Lives have been lost but we do not have the details," said the Rev. Michael Ekpenyong. "The area has been cordoned off. I tried to call the priest but I couldn't get through."
Ekpenyong, the secretary general of the country's Catholic Secretariat, said the church that was bombed was "not a big church, but lots of people attend." Photos from the scene showed burned-out cars and at least three bodies on the ground, one covered with a blanket, at the rural church.
Usman Abdallah Baba, who witnessed the bombing, said there were at least 15 or 16 casualties and that authorities were still counting the toll.
Baba said local people were already blaming the violent extremist Muslim Boko Haram sect, which has targeted Christians as well as Muslims its members consider insufficiently Islamic.
In 2010, five churches in Jos were attacked while residents were celebrating Christmas Eve. The blasts killed dozens in Jos, which lies on a faith-based fault line between the Muslim-dominated north and the mainly Christian south.
Sunday, two blasts targeted the Mountain of Fire Ministries church in Jos, northeast of the capital, said John. No one was killed in that bombing, which John called a "miracle" -- but a police officer who got into a gun battle with the attackers died of his wounds later, John said, citing officials.
The second church, in Jos, was hit by two explosions when young men threw bombs, John said. Police responded quickly and exchanged gunfire with the attackers, who wounded at least one of the police officers, he said.
The injured officer was rushed to the Jos University teaching hospital for medical attention, but died of his wounds, John said. The attackers fled into the crowd and disappeared after the attack, John said.
Police arrested four people and recovered four unexploded devices, Nigerian state television reported.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and has the world's sixth-largest Christian population -- about 80.5 million people as of 2010, according to a report published this month by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington. That makes the country just over 50% Christian, according to the Pew figures.
The latest attacks follow two days of clashes between militants and security forces in northern Nigeria. Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, the Nigerian army chief of staff, said the clashes left three soldiers dead and several more wounded.
The fighting began Thursday between Boko Haram militants and the military in the Yobe state town of Damaturu, Ihejirika said.
"There was a major encounter with the Boko Haram in Damaturu," Ihejirika said Friday. "We lost three of our soldiers, seven were wounded. But we killed over 50 of their members."
Boko Haram translates from the local Hausa as "Western education is outlawed." The group has morphed into an insurgency responsible for dozens of attacks in Nigeria in the last two years.
Boko Haram's targets include police outposts and churches as well as places associated with "Western influence."
CNN's Josh Levs, Richard Allen Greene, Esprit Smith, Karen Smith, Amir Ahmed and Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.

Syrian Christians Fear Saudi Inspired Wahabi/Salafist Revolution In Syria

Syrian Christians fear that the Saudi Wahabi/Salafist inspired revolution in Syria may lead to a Salafist State that will exterminate it's traditional Christian population.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jesus Christ through Shia Muslim Narrations

American depiction of Prophet Jesus Christ.
What is offered here is a fairly comprehensive selection of the narrations pertaining to Jesus (‘a) said to have been reported by the Shí‘í Imams, peace be with them. It is generally admitted that not everything reported in this literature is correct, and the science of hadith has been developed by Muslim scholars precisely for the purpose of sorting through the narrations and evaluating their strength. No attempt has been made in what follows to select only hadiths considered reliable. The narrations selected provide an overview of what various reporters of hadiths have claimed that the Imams have said about Jesus (‘a). At the same time, we cannot claim that our selection exhausts all such narrations. Sometimes we have found several reports that differ only in some insignificant details, in which case we have generally selected the most complete form of the report. Also omitted are reports in which Jesus is mentioned only incidentally, although where such incidental mention seemed interesting to us, we have provided the excerpt from the hadith. Theisnàd, or chains of transmission that accompany the reports, have been omitted from the English translations since they would only be of use to those who have fluency in Arabic.

It is rather disheartening to find that so much misunderstanding remains between Christians and Muslims in the world today. Hopefully the collection presented here will be seen by Christians as a gift from the Shí‘ah to show the reverence they have for Jesus (‘a). The vision of Jesus (‘a) to be found here is different from that of Christianity, and the difference is bound to lead some to respond negatively, “No. The Christ we know is not like that.” We are not concerned to argue here for the veracity of the vision of Christ presented. Of course Christians will deny what conflicts with their beliefs. However, it is hoped that the reader will be able to bracket the question of what reports about Jesus (‘a) are best considered factual, because this question depends on the standards used for such evaluations, whether doctrinal, historical or otherwise. According to our faith, as Shí‘ah, the overall picture of Christ presented below is true, although questions may be raised about particular narrations or details thereof. This is how we think of Christ. It is a different way of thinking about him from what is familiar to Christians. However, it is by no means disrespectful, and it offers a way to understand the more general religious vision of Islam, particularly Shí‘í Islam. It is up to our readers to chose to respond by focusing on differences and rejecting what is contrary to their beliefs, or to find how much we have in common and on this basis to search for what is of value in the Muslim’s view, even where it differs from what one is prepared to accept.

We expect that our readers will include English speaking Muslims, both Sunni and Shí‘í, as well as Christians. To them we offer this collection as an opportunity to reacquaint themselves with Islamic teachings about Jesus, and hope that it will inspire better relations between Muslims and Christians. Even as we stand fast in our own faith, we should be prepared to deepen our appreciation of the commitment of Christians to follow the teachings of one held in such high esteem in the Qur’àn and hadith.

In the glorious Qur’àn, in a passage describing the annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus (‘a) is described as a Word from God:

O Mary! Verily Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word from Him; his name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, prominent in this world and in the Hereafter of those near [to God]. (3:44)

The context in which this àyah was revealed was one of interreligious encounter. It is said that the Christians of Najran sent a delegation to the Prophet of Islam1 at Mecca to question him about the teachings of Islam concerning Jesus (‘a)and that God revealed the above and other àyàt of Surah Àl-i ‘Imràn in response. The response is not merely a denial of Christian teachings, although the divinity of Christ is clearly rejected, but an affirmation of much believed by Christians, as well, even the designation of Christ as logos:

O People of the Book! Do not transgress in your religion, and do not say of Allah but the Truth. Verily, the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a Spirit from Him. (4:171)

So, in addition to being called the Word of God, Jesus (‘a) is also called the Spirit of God, and in some of the narrations reported in the Shí‘í tradition, this title is used.

Of course, the interpretation of the logos in Christian theology differs markedly from the interpretation of the kalimah by Muslim scholars. For the Christian, according to the Gospel of John, the Word was God and the Word became flesh. For the Muslim, on the other hand, the Word is creature, even while it is the creative principle, for it is in God’s utterance of the word “Be!” that creation takes place. To call Christ the Word of Allah is not to deify him, but to verify his status as prophet. Because of his high status as prophet, Jesus (‘a)becomes a complete manifestation of God, one who conveys the message of God, one who can speak on behalf of God, and thus, the Word of God. Jesus (‘a) becomes the Word of God not because of an incarnation whereby his flesh becomes divine, but because his spirit is refined to such an extent that it becomes a mirror whereby divinity comes to be known. The temple is holy not because of any inherent sanctity in the structure, but because it is the place of the worship of God.

The differences between Islamic and Christian thinking about Jesus (‘a) are as important as they are subtle. Both accept the virgin birth, although it is ironic that a growing number of liberal Christians have come to have doubts about this miracle while Muslims remain steadfast! Among the other miracles attributed to Jesus (‘a) in the Glorious Qur’àn are the revival of the dead and the creation of a bird from clay, but all of the miracles performed by Jesus (‘a) are expressly by the permission of Allah. Just as in the miracle of his birth, Jesus (‘a) came into the world by a human mother and divine spirit, so too, his miracles are performed as human actions with divine permission. In this regard the error of the Christians is explained by the great Sufí theoretician, Ibn al-‘Arabí, as follows:

This matter has led certain people to speak of incarnation and to say that, in reviving the dead, he is God. Therefore, since they conceal God, Who in reality revives the dead, in the human form of Jesus, He has said,

They are concealers [unbelievers] who say that God is the Messiah, son of Mary.(5:72)([1])

The point is that Muslims can find God in Jesus (‘a) without deifying him, and furthermore that deifying Jesus (‘a) is really an obstacle to their finding God in Jesus (‘a), for deification is an obstacle to searching in Jesus (‘a) for anything beyond him.

One of the central questions of Christian theology is: “Who was Jesus Christ?” The formulation of answers to this question is calledChristology. In this area of theology, Christians have debated the significance of the historical Jesus as opposed to the picture of Jesus presented in the traditions of the Christian Churches and the Biblical understanding of Jesus. The time has come for Muslims to begin work in this area, as well. Through the development of an Islamic Christology we can come to a better understanding of Islam as contrasted with Christianity, and Islam in consonance with Christianity, too. Indeed, the first steps in this direction are laid out for us in the Qur’àn itself, in the verses mentioned above and others.

Contemporary work toward an Islamic Christology is scarce. Christian authors have tended to stress the salvific function of Jesus (‘a)which seems to have no place in Islam, which leads to questions of religious pluralism when Christians ask one another whether Christ (‘a)can be the savior of Muslims and others who are not Christians. Christians should be reminded that Muslims accept Jesus (‘a)as savior, along with all the other prophets, for the prophetic function is to save humanity from the scourge of sin by conveying the message of guidance revealed by God. The important difference between Islam and Christianity here is not over the issue of whether Jesus (‘a)saves, but how he saves. Islam denies that salvation is through redemption resulting from the crucifixion, and instead turns its attention to the instruction provided in the life of the prophets (‘a). Christian scholarship on Jesus as presented in Islam tends to ignorehadíth and focus on the Qur’àn. Often the research is polemical as authors attempt to support an interpretation of the Qur’àn that is more in keeping with Christian than Islamic doctrine. A general review and introduction to this work may be found in Neal Robinson’s Christ in Islam and Christianity.([2])

Muslims, on the other hand, have tended to produce their own polemical works showing how much of what is in the Bible is consistent with the Islamic view of Christ (‘a) as prophet rather than as a person of the Trinity.([3]) Ahmad Deedat’s work along these lines has attracted much attention. More profound insights into the differences between Islam and other faiths, including Christianity, may be found in the writings of Frithjof Schuon, Shaykh ‘Ísà Nur al-Dín Ahmad, who presents the beginnings of a genuine Christology from a Sufi perspective in his Islam and the Perennial Philosophy.([4]) In his The Muslim Jesus : Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature, Tarif Khalidi has collected Islamic references to Jesus from the eighth to the 18th centuries, including mystical works, historical texts about prophets and saints and selections from the hadíth and Qur’àn.([5])As Khalidi notes, these writings, form the largest body of texts relating to Jesus in any non-Christian literature.

These days there is much discussion of dialogue between different faith communities. Conferences have been held for this purpose in the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as in Africa, Europe and the United States. Perhaps one of the best ways Christians can find common ground for discussion with Muslims is to become familiar with the portrait of Jesus (‘a)presented in Islamic sources, the most important of which are the Qur’àn and ahàdíth, and for the latter, no matter what one’s religious orientation, it must be admitted that the narrations handed down through the Household of the Prophet (‘s) deserve careful attention. For those of us who have the honor of being counted among the Shí‘ah, the importance of what has been related by the Ahl al-Bayt weighs especially heavily, as it should, according to the famous hadíth al-thaqalayn, in which the Prophet (‘s),in the last year of his life,is reported to have said:

Verily, I am leaving with you two weighty things (thaqalayn): the Book of Allah and my kindred, my household, for indeed, the two of them will never separate until they return to me by the Pond [of Kauthar on the Last Day].

Perhaps some Christians will be dismissive of what is said of Jesus (‘a) in the Islamic narrations because the main debate about contemporary Christology among Christians is whether research about the historical Jesus (‘a)is relevant to religion, or whether knowledge of Jesus (‘a)requires attention to the role he plays in the Church and in theology. The Islamic narrations, coming centuries after the life of Christ (‘a)(and in some cases more than a century after the life of Muhammad (‘s)) will likely be dismissed by liberal Christians in pursuit of a portrait of Jesus (‘a)based on the standards of historical research currently accepted in the West. The neo-orthodox Christian claims that the Savior is not to be found in history, but in the Church, so it will not be surprising if he displays no interest in what Islam has to say about Christ (‘a). However, the Christian may find that the Islamic perspective illuminates a middle ground between the historian’s emphasis on the natural and the ecclesiastical emphasis on the supernatural. The humanity of Jesus (‘a)is evident in the narrations of the Shí‘ah, but it is a humanity transformed, a perfected humanity, and as such there is no denying its supernatural dimension.

The Muslim always seems to appear as a stranger to the Christian, but perhaps it is from the stranger that the Christian can best come to know his savior. The crucifix has hung in the Church for so long that it becomes difficult for the Christian to find significance there. The attraction of the quest for the historical Jesus is that it provides a fresh look at the subject, even if that quest is marred by naturalistic presumptions inimical to the religious outlook. By trying to see Jesus (‘a)as the Muslim sees him, the Christian may find his savior come to life, lifted up to God in his own inner life rather than crucified.([6])

If we have given reason for Christians to study the narrations of the Shí‘ah about Jesus (‘a)the question of the value of such study for Muslims remains. Some might wonder why, when we have the Qur’àn and sunnah, we should be especially interested in Jesus (‘a).

To begin with, Jesus (‘a)along with the prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peace be with them, and Muhammad (‘s) has a special status in Islam as one of the greatest prophets, the ulu’ al-‘azm, the prophets who brought the divine law. What was revealed to the last of them is a confirmation of what was revealed to the others. The truth of the revelation is not to be found in its particularity but in its universality, and we come to understand this best when we understand the teachings of all the prophets (‘a)Is this not why so much attention is given to the previous prophets in the Qur’àn?

All of the prophets (‘a)have brought a gospel of love, love of God and love of neighbor and love even for the meanest of His creatures. So, in the reports narrated below we find Jesus (‘a) giving some of his food to the creatures of the sea. At the same time, however, this love is not to be confused with a sentimentalism which would prevent the execution of the divine law. Jesus (‘a)found fault with the Pharisees not because of their regard for the exterior forms of religion, but because of their disregard for its interior forms, that is, because of their hypocrisy.([7])

The Words of the Spirit of Allah reported in the selections that follow are primarily concerned with morals. These are Christian morals and at the same time Islamic morals. Today Christendom is in a state of moral upheaval. Peculiarly modern ideas of what is right and wrong have found their way into the theologians’ understandings of ethics. Significant areas of agreement are difficult to find. The simple morality taught by Jesus (‘a)and which continues to be emphasized in Islam resonates in the narrations of the Shí‘ah. While excessive asceticism is forbidden, we are to turn, like Jesus (‘a)away from the world to find refuge in God.

From the following narrations we not only become reacquainted with the moral teachings of Jesus (‘a)and with his character, but we also discover what the dear friends of Allah, the Household of the Prophet (‘s) found it important to transmit about him, and thereby we get a glimpse into their moral teachings and characters, too.


[1] Ibn al-‘Arabí, The Bezels of Wisdom (Fusus al-Hikam), tr. R. W. J. Austin (Lahore: Suhail, 1988), p. 177.

[2] Neal Robinson, Christ in Islam and Christianity (Albany: SUNY, 1991), ch. 2. This work also contains an excellent survey of how Muslim historians and apologists have approached issues pertaining to Christ and Christianity, and an examination of various exegeses of the Qur’àn on the verses about Jesus.

[3] For example, see Ahmed Deedat, Was Jesus Crucified? (Chicago: Kazi, 1992).

[4] Frithjof Schuon, Islam and the Perennial Philosophy (Lahore: Suhail, 1985).

[5] Tarif Khalidi, The Muslim Jesus : Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003).

[6] We are reminded by the glorious Qur’àn: “Recall when God said: ‘O Jesus, I will take you away and lift you up to Me.’”. (3:54)

[7] Cf. Matt. 23:25.


Muslim Day Parade: Hypocrite Saudi Inspired Wahabis/Salafists Telling All-American Shia & Sunni Muslims to "Put Down American Flag"!

Here you go, more of the spawn of Saudi Arabia telling American Shia and Sunni Muslims to "Put Down The American Flag"!!!

Please pay attention to the American Muslim wearing a white outfit who goes and challenges the Wahabi/Salafi hypocrites and traitors on the sidelines and get's yelled at by these savages who support the ideology which in Saudi Arabia teaches to behead 67 year old Sufi Healer Grandmothers.

The question to ask is, where is "Bandar Bush" and the the GOP to tell their Saudi friends to stop spreading all these hateful Wahabi/Salafi books across the USA and the world with billions of dollars of oil money?


The American Flag - Raised by American Shia and Sunni Muslims with Pride.

Cultural Relations Between Christianity and Shia Islam

The Prophet Jesus (pbuh) depicted in Ottoman Turkish Art
 being raised to God by the Angels.
Dr. Sayyid Mustafa Muhaqqiq Damad
Translated by Dr. A. N. Baqirshahi

The history of the Shi`ah and Christian cultural relations is comparatively old. Of these relations may be mentioned inter-religious dialogue in the area of Kalam that took place in a spirit of complete mutual understanding. In the works of the Shi`ah this is discussed in detail. Among such dialogues one may refer to discussions between the spiritual leaders of the two creeds, particularly dialectic between the Muslims and Catholicos, preserved in the oldest Shi`i books. The commentators of hadith have explained Catholicos in the following manner: "Catholicos, is the greatest spiritual leader of Christianity of every age." Most probably this word is the same as Catholic in the present sense, though for an author it is difficult to say which term is an alternative of the other.

Muhammad bin `Ali bin Babwayh al-Qummi, known as al-Shaykh al-Saduq (d. 280/901 A.D.), has recorded four polemical discussions between the highest spiritual leader of Christians and Shi`ah scholars of eminence and Mutakallimun in his works.

It is probable that dialogue of Cathilicos with Imam `Ali (`a) took place during 657 A.D.[1] But the culminating point of these controversies has been during the early 10th century A.D.,[2] i.e., in the 2nd century Hijrah, during the periods of Imam al-Sadiq (`a) and Imam al-Rida (`a),[3] the 6th and 8th Imams of the Shi`ah.

2-- Another point that is indicative of the close cultural relations between the Shi`ah and Christianity is recording of the sayings, character and biographical accounts of Christ in the books of the Shi`ah, which surpasses all such accounts of Christ in the works of all other sects of Islam. It is noteworthy that the name of `Isa has occurred in the Qur'an 25 times and the name of Masih (`a) recurs 36 times in the Qur'an. And the circumstances of his birth and his way of preaching and his ascension are repeatedly narrated in the Qur'an. But despite this emphasis the books of non-Shi`i authors do not contain detailed accounts of Christ's sayings and character.

For instance, in Sihah al-Sittah, i.e., six authentic compendia of hadith of Ahl al-Sunnah we do not come across even a single utterance of Christ. On the other hand in the books of the Shi`ah, even some of the oldest, utterances of him are found in abundance.

Imam `Ali (`a), the first Imam of the Shi`ah, has narrated the ascetic style of the life of Christ in one of his sermons, given under No. 160, in Nahj al-Balaghah. After him, in the 2nd century A.H., Imam al-Sadiq has quoted the preaching of Christ, as found exactly in the Bible of Mathew, while delivering his advice to `Abdullah bin Jandab in New Testament, book of Mathew, chapter 6, sentences 2,3,6,7,16 and 18. During the period from the 2nd to the 4th century A.H., al-Jahiz, in al-Bayan wa al-Tab'in, nine short sayings and one detailed speech of Christ were recorded. During the middle of the 4th century an eminent Shi`i author, Abu Muhammad Hasan bin `Ali bin al-Husayn bin Shu`bah al-Harani (d. 38 A.H. = 1001 A.D.) in his book, Tuhf al-`Uqul `an Al al-Rasul, had devoted about 16 pages to record the sayings of Christ. These utterances consist of two parts: the first, which is briefer, second, which is comparatively detailed, quote parts of Christ's sermons. According to the researches done in this regard, same words are accessible to us at present, in some of anajil (i.e., Book of New Testaments). For example one may refer to the following:

Book of Mathew, sentences 1-7, 14-17 and 44-45 in chapter 5, sentences 12-19, 24, 30 in chapter 6, sentence 16 in the chapter 7, and 29-36 in chapter 22; Book of Luke, sentences 17-49 in chapter 6; 44-45 in chapter 6, 4-17 in chapter 8 and 37-53 in chapter 11; Book of Mark, sentence 30 in chapter 12.

Ibn Shu`bah was a resident of Harran and since Harran was a center of learning for the Christians, he had access to a majority of the Christian primary source. Of course, most of the sentences that Ibn Shu`bah has quoted are specifically from the books of Mathew, Luke and Mark. It remains unknown why he has not quoted from all the books of New Testament.

However, it is a distinct feature of the Shi`i works that they have been forerunners in the matter of referring to and quoting profusely from the sayings and sermons of Christ as compared to all other Muslim sects.

3-- In the books of the Shi`ah special attempt has been made to deal with the life and character of Christ [Masih (`a)]. In the sermon 159 in Nahj al-Balaghah, `Ali (`a), while highlighting the piety of great prophets, writes about Christ:

"Hadrat Masih (`a) laid his head on a stone, put on dress made of coarse material, took tough food. His main diet was hunger, at night the moon provided him only light; during winter he slept under the sun at times when it shone or set down; his fruit and vegetable was none other than what the earth grows for animals. He neither had wife that could instigate him to do follies nor did have a child that could make him sorrowful with concern; nor had any property which might have taken away from him; nor had he any kind of greed (for worldly things) that could cause him humiliation. He had no means of moving except his own feet, his servants were his own hands."

On another occasion, addressing one of his companions, Nuf Bukali, Hadrat `Ali (`a), says: "Blessing be on those pious persons who have turned away from the worldly attachments like Christ."

Mutual Influences in Kalami (Theological) Polemics

As it is generally accepted by researchers and scholars that Islamic Kalam has exercised influence on Jewish and Christian Scholasticism. In a similar way, it is also incontrovertible that on the land the views of Muslim Mutakallimun, with regard to the Divine Attributes, in the course of their polemics and discussions with the Christian scholastics, particularly in the issue of trinity have developed and attained maturity of thought. Undoubtedly, the use of the term Attribute (sifat) and emergence of the concept of universal (kulliyat), during the medieval period of Christianity, through the Latin translation of the work of Ibn Hayman, Hidayat al-Mudallin (A Guide for Wayward) (530-601 A.H./1135-1204 A.D.),[5] were influenced immensely by Islamic `ilm al-Kalam. He and before him Sa`diya Gawun (Sa`id al-Fayumi - 271-331 A.H./892-922 A.D.), had acquired their knowledge of the Greek philosophy indirectly from `Arabic translations and their Islamic commentaries. They themselves wrote in `Arabic (which was the academic language of that period). The ground conducive for the acceptance of the teachings of Muslim Mutakallimun, particularly al-Ghazzali, through Sa`diya, who might be justifiably regarded as Ash`airah of Judaism, for he not only adopts the method of Ash`ariyyah but also in specific issues, makes use of their arguments. Yahud Ahlawi from Totedo, born in 479 A.H., who was a contemporary of al-Ghazzali, like him felt that philosophy in questioning the fundamentals of faith by interpreting them on the basis of logical argument results in weakening of the creed. With this view he embarked upon writing a book on refutation of philosophers, entitled al-Khazari,[6] briefly called Khazri. Yahud-e Ahlawi, in his book, Logical and Philosophical Jargons, followed the same method and arguments that were advanced by al-Ghazzali against philosophers.

Much more than him another scholastic thinker of the Jewish creed, Hasda'i Karaska was undoubtedly influenced by Tahafut al-Falasifah of al-Ghazzali though Wolfson, the Professor of Harvard University, rejects this view, arguing that Tahafut al-Falasifah was translated into Hebrew after the death of Karaska.[7] His argument seems to be baseless, for Tahafut al-Tahafut by Ibn Rushd was translated before 729/1328 by Qalunimus bin Dawud and was published under the title Hapatlat Hapala, while Karaska died in 814/1210. Even on this ground if we accept that there was no possibility of his direct access to the arguments of al-Ghazzali, forwarded in Tahafut al-Falasifah, it may be conjectured that undoubtedly he could have possibly referred to al-Ghazzali's arguments by means of the translation of Al-Ghazzali's Tahafut al-Falasifah.

Raymond Martin, one of the eminent Christian scholastics, who died in 1285 A.D., is the person who worked as a link between European Christianity and al-Ghazzali, because in his works, Interpretation of the Secrets of the Disciples of Jesus, and The Sword of Faith, he has evidently borrowed ideas from al-Ghazzali. The influence of Ibn Sina on B. Spinoza's various views, particularly his doctrine of emanation (ifadah), serves as irrefutable in the view of the thinkers of the East and the West.[8]

From these examples it may be inferred that the scholastics of other religions, particularly the Christianity, have benefited from Muslim mutakkalimun in the middle ages without doubt. But the question arises as to whether non-Muslim scholastic thinkers have also influenced in a similar way of the Muslim scholastics.

5-- The Mu`tazilah claimed[9] that the Asha`irah in preaching uncreatedness of the Qur'an, were advocating the Christian doctrine about Logos, and as a result have fallen prey to a kind of pluralistic heresy (shirk). The Mu`tazilah argued that the emphasis of the Asha`irah on the uncreatedness of the Qur'an cause them in believing the doctrine of the eternity of the Qur'an and its coexistence in pre-eternity with Allah. Thus they attributed eternity to the Qur'an along with the Eternity of Divine Essence. Shaykh al-Mufid says:

"A man from Basra was talking about one of Ash`ariah beliefs which was against monotheism. He was of the view that God's Eternal Attributes are not the Divine Essence and not otherwise as well. That is why God is ascribed to be All-Knowing, the Living, the Omnipotent, the Hearing, the Seeing and the Speaker. That man was of the view that God possesses eternal face, eternal hearing, eternal seeing and eternal hands, such ideas are against the ideas of the monotheists what to talk of Islam."[10]

This is interesting to note that the Asha`irah made a similar allegation against the Mu`tazilah and dubbed them as the greatest of atheists (kafirun). They argued that whosoever maintains emphatically that the Qur'an is created comes closer to the views of the atheists, since the atheists said that the Qur'an was a creation of the Prophet's mind. To support their argument they site a verse from the Qur'an, in which Allah Himself explains the unbelievers' faith by saying:

"This (the Qur'an) is saying of man." (25:74)

Al-Ash`ari writes:

"Anybody who maintains that Qur'an is created, verily believes that Qur'an is man's words. Such idea is like the ideas of unbelievers."[11]

The criticism of the Mu`tazilah seems to be a criticism far from truth. They say that the Asha`irah, supported by some orientalists, borrowed this doctrine of the eternity of the Qur'an and its uncreatedness from Jewish or Christian interpretation of the term "Logos".

As the Asha`irah have based their doctrine on the apparent meanings of some of the Qur'anic verses per se, they may not be blamed for adopting this view from alien sources and then reconcile it with the Qur'anic verses. But we have to concede to some extent that the issues concerning the Divine Attributes in general, and the controversy regarding the Qur'an in particular, have emerged and developed in the course of controversies and discourses among mutakallimun of Islam and the use of other religions, during which they came in contact with the works of each other. The same is applicable in the context of the medieval Christian scholasticism and the role of Descartes, and in the context of Medieval philosophy of Judaism and its impact on the modern philosophy of Europe through Spinoza.

6-- The word of God (Kalimat Allah): It may be said that the image of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (s) bin `Abdullah in Muslims' view and the Christian view of the personality of Christ (`a) may not be compared reasonably, since the concept of prophethood of `Isa bin Maryam (`a) in the Christian milieu and the concept of the Prophet (s) in Islam is also different. Whenever we want to compare and contrast some sacred things in Islam and Christianity, we should try to compare the image of Christ in the Christian view with the words of the Qur'an and their nature, because both the Qur'an and `Isa Masih are called Kalimat Allah (The Word of Allah). It occurs in the Qur'an:

"When the angels said: O Mariam surely Allah gives you good news with a word from him (of one) whose name is the Messiah `Isa son of Mariam, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near (to Allah)." (3:44)

In Christianity `Isa Masih is the embodiment and incarnation of the "Word of God" (Kalimat Allah). His embodiment and anthropomorphisation is similar to what is meant by the revelation and descent and consequently written form of the Qur'an.

This matter is discussed in the history of `Ilm al-Kalam in the same way and sense. The Qur'an described itself as having the attributes according to which it is indicated that the existence of the Qur'an precedes its revelation in historical time to the Prophet (s). For instance:

"Most surely it is an honored Qur'an, in a book that is protected." (56:77-78)

"Most of it is a glorious Qur'an, in a guarded tablet." (85:22)

"And surely it is in the original of the Book with us, truly elevated, full of wisdom." (43:3)

A number of verses in the Qur'an throw light on this issue, that is, the Qur'an has been revealed (in time), and despite this its existence precedes its revelation.

7-- Accordingly "The Preserved Tablet" is considered as contingent and created. The problem of revelation and written form of the Qur'an, that is, the issue of the relationship of the revealed word to the Mother Book (Umm al-Kitab), does not give rise to any philosophical difficulty. The philosophical difficulty arises when in the light of some Qur'anic verses. The Qur'an is referred to as existing in the realm of Divine Knowledge.

"And if you follow their low desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you shall not have against Allah any guardian or a protector." (13:37)

"And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper." (2:120)

These verses led some Mutakallimun to confuse the Qur'an with the Divine Attributes of Knowledge, and they were compelled to believe that the Qur'an as created in time, revealed and written, is an accident of the Attribute of Eternal Divine Knowledge that preceded the written revelation.

This confusion is like the problem that arose in Christianity particularly regarding the embodiment and incarnation of Christ. It is interesting that this issue too was interpreted in a similar way, since the Christian scholastics considered Christ as embodiment of Divinity in the person of a human being and called the second member of the Trinity.

When the Shi`i Mutakallimun came to know that the use of the term "created" (makhluq) created difficulties, so in accordance with the way the Holy Family (Ahl al-Bayt) of the Prophet (s), they avoided to make use of the word Muhaddith and instead of it used the word muhdath. This term is used in the Qur'an for itself

"Never comes there unto them a new reminder from their Lord but they listen to it while they play." (21:2)

"Never comes there into them a fresh reminder from the Beneficent One but they turn away from it." (26:5)

Al Shaykh al-Mufid, says:

"In my view, Qur'an is the God's word and revelation. It is created in time (hadith), as is described by God, I do not wish to call it Mukhluq. There are certain hadith from Imam Baqir (`a) and Imam Sadiq (`a) supporting such meaning."

8- Divine Attributes: Some of the Mutakallimun (Ash`ariah) are of the view that Divine Attributes are like the persons in Christian doctrine of Trinity. For they believe that Divine Attributes are distinct beings separate from the Divine Essence and are eternal as well. Yet, other Mutakallimun (M`utazilah) and those who followed the School of Ahl al-Bayt denying the eternity of the Qur'an and by meticulous philosophical arguments, so that not to be entrapped into the embodiment and incarnation of Christianity. Of course, they believe in eternity of Divine Attributes, not as distinct beings, but as identical with Divine Essence and deny any polytheism. Thus, they are free from any shirk.These scholars of Kalam are of the view that to believe in eternal distinct Divine Attributes would lead to certain dilemma that Christian face it by believing in Trinity. For to be eternal and at the same time to be distinct from the Divine Essence would result in belief in many eternal beings which impair Divine Unity (Tawhid), as al- Shaykh al-Mufid held that such idea would lead to believe in many eternal beings.[13]

9- In order to believe in eternal and distinct Divine Attributes and at the same time keep on believing in Divine Unity and discard the ascription of any unreal attributes to God, al-Shaykh al-Mufid propounded the following rational matters:

"If God is ascribed to the attributes of the living, the powerful, the knowing. The such attributes contain rational matters that is, they are not identical with Divine Essence."

By the meanings of such matters, he means that attributes are not distinct from ontological point of view but are distinct from epistemological view point, as he says:

"By rational matters I mean those matters which are rational in mind not concrete and objective."

With a deep insight into al-Mufid's views, one can infer that by M`aqul, he means samething that later on was called by Sabziwari as the primacy of being over quiddity. In this regard Sabziwari says: being and quiddity are, however, distinct in mind but are identical in the external world.[16]

Similarly, al-Shaykh al-Mufid also held that though attributes are distinct in mind but are identical in out side. Apparently, Martin McDermott also maintains that al-Mufid's approach was conceptualism.[17]

10- The issue of distinct Divine Attributes while holding the Unity of God was discussed by later Islamic thinkers. Ibn ``Arabi and Mulla Sadra also like al-Shaykh al-Mufid had a kind of conceptualistic approach toward the Divine Names.

Ibn `Arabi explicitly denies the existential status of attributes and says: "What we believe is as relations which in Shari`ah is called name. Every name bears a meaning different from others. That meaning is predicated to God. Nazzar who follows Kalam, considers it as attribute not relation... Do names possess existential status? In this regard there is a debate between Nuzzar. In our views, everything is clear. They are only relations and names and are conceptual, not objective and concrete. Thus, substance can be divided only by being, not by accidents, attributes and relations."[18]

He further says: "Relations are neither essences nor things. Regarding the reality of relations, one should say that they are nothingness in nature."[19]

Mulla Sadra commented the following points on the levels of being: "Nothing can be found which is not available among the Divine Names. Names come into being by Divine Being. They come into being in a best manner, and owing to His necessary Essence they would be necessary."[20]

... These names are conceptual and simple beings which depend on Necessary Being. And such multiplicity in unity is one of the secrets of the Divine Being.[21]

In some other place, he said: "Divine Attributes are identical with His Divine Essence, not as Ash`ariah believe in it. For they believe in multiplicity of His Attributes which entails multiplicity of two eternal beings, not as M`utazilah creed also who denied the reality of the attributes. Yet, while believing in its effects, he considers essence as second to the attributes."[22]

Concluding that Ibn `Arabi and Mulla Sadra admit the basis of al-Mufid ideas though they developed it in a broad area, they believe that all created beings are conceptual, and, all creatures possess conceptual entities and like Divine Names they can be called Divine Word.

11- Difference between the development of Islamic Thought and that of the Christian doctrine of Trinity is considerable. In Islamic philosophy, inclination was directed towards multiplying of the Divine Attributes in a sense to consider all creatures as Divine Attributes. At the same time such attributes do not impair Divine Unity.[23]

The early Islamic scholars of Kalam were aware of modalism in Trinity and believe that common people's perception is nothing but innovation. The theory of modalism is attributed to Sibelius[24], who consider God as a person with three attributes which certain Muslim Sufis also used in their poems.

Modalism approach of Trinity was strongly discarded in the Christian theology. For they believe in a vertical Trinity, that is, father and son, according to which son does not possess perfect divinity.

In refuting the modalism approach towards Trinity, they believe that God not only is three in term of meaning, but is a Triad personality.[25] According to Mutakallimun this idea is a kind of polytheism as the Qur'an says:

"Believe therefore in Allah and His Apostle, and say not, three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only One God...." (4:171)

Kendi argued against the doctrine of Trinity and Christians tried to reply it. Kendi said: "Three fold personality cannot be included in the categories of porphyry."

Yahya bin `Adi, the well-known Christian learned-man in return replied as: "Such beings are individual substances."[26]

Mutakallimun of Islam like Ghazzali used the argument of Tamama (an argument in kalam), derived from the Qur'an to prove the Divine Unity. Ghazzali says that if there were two gods than if one of them wanted to act, the other one had to favor it or oppose it. In the former case, he would have been a follower which impair his omnipotent and in later case one of them would have been weaker which again impair their omnipotent.

The same argument was applied by Scotus against a kind of Trinity namely social Trinity. In such Trinity God has three distinct personalities. Everyone of which possesses certain attributes which suffice for being a god. The argument of Tamano applied by new Christian schotictics as a logical reasoning.


* This paper was presented at the conferences of Islam and Orthodox Christianity in the month of Sharivar 1373 (September 1994), in Tehran by the Center of International Studies and Culture.

Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Tawhid, pp.182, 286, 361.
Ibid., pp.270, 417, 420.
Ibid., p.422.
Harrani Ibn Sh`ubah, Tuhfat al-`Uqul, Tehran, 01.
For more information, please refer to the book: History of Medieval Jewish Philosophy, by Howzile, New York, 1930. p.24.
The original title of the book is: Al-Hujjat wal-Dalil fi Nasr al-Din. Please refer to Hartwig Mirschefeld, Kitab al-Khazri, London, 1931, p.6.
Wolfson, Crasxa's Critique of Aristotle, Harvard, 1929, p.12.
On influence of Ibn Sina on Jewish Thinkers particularly spinoza refer to the following books: E.I.J. Rosenthal, Avicenna's Influence on Jewish Thought, "Avicenna: Scientist and Philosopher", ed., G.M. Wiefens, London, 1952, Ch. IV. Encyclopedia Britanica, "Studies in Muslim Philosophy", by Saeed Shaikh.
Refer to "Comparative Studies in Islamic Philosophy", translated by Sayyid Mustafa Muhaqqiq Damad, Kharazmi Publication, 1369, Tehran, p.48.
Al-Abanah, p.56.
Wolfson, Philosophy of Kalam. The term `inlibration' is used for this matter.
Awail al-Maqalat, p.50.
Ibid., p.58.
Sabzawari, Manzumah.
McDermott, 1978, p.134ff.
Ibn `Arabi, Futuhat Makkiyah, vol.4, p.294.
Ibid., vol.2, p.516.
Al-Hikmat al-`Ushi`ah, p.229.
Ibid., p.230.
Ibid., p.223. 23. Refer to the article: "Influence of Ghazzali on Western Thought", by Sayyid Mustafa Muhaqqiq Damad, Maqalat wa Barrasiha, Number Dai, pp.45-46.
David F., The Modern Theologians, volume Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1989, pp.195-198.
Op. cit, Wolfson, p.32.
Quoted from the book: Rationality, Religious and Moral Commitment, by J.W. Right, 1986, pp.2-301. In this book the over-mentioned text in quoted from the book Tract on Dogmatic Theology, which is the translation of, Fi `Usul al-Aqa`id, by Ghazzali.