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The Blind Professor

Richard Dawkins is a man whose missionary zeal and the fervour of whose evangelical atheism puzzle even other atheists. I have read articles on him in which journalists have tried to analyse him and his family history (without success) looking for clues – family traumas, neuroses, etc. – which might explain what drives his passionate crusade (I know no more appropriate term) against God. He is a man who as well as anyone else and better than many embodies some of the essential themes with which to decode the science of this epoch, which arguably began with Galileo.
My initial sortie into this arena was after being provoked somewhat by the introduction of Richard Dawkins to his book The Blind Watchmaker in which he claims that science has disproved God. In what I write here I claim no great scholarly authority or mastery, and indeed would be unable to write anything whatsoever if it had not been that Allah had brought about various events in my life which provided me with the very different materials necessary. So, far be it from me to try and prove God, since I am only engaging in this because of His providential arrangement. He is in no need of proof. Does the Real need to be proved by the Unreal?
Mr Dawkins attacks a Christian argument long realised by philosophers to be weak, the “argument from design”. In essence, that argument states that if one finds a watch on the road there is no doubt in one’s mind that the watch had a watchmaker since it is impossible for something so intricate to have come about by accident. Thus, the argument goes, if one finds an intricate cosmos, one must necessarily believe in a cosmos-maker simply because of the intricate and beautiful workmanship of the cosmos.
Mr Dawkins’ argument, which is merely the most abrasive statement of a position widely believed by scientists, is that the physical sciences and in particular those of genetics and evolutionary science successfully explain the intricacy of the cosmos thus removing the need for a cosmic maker or cosmic designer. The argument from design has a chequered history in christian Europe and the West, and Mr Dawkins’ attack on it is only the latest in a long and unfortunate story.
Given the parochialism of Western thought, that a christian proof has fallen is regarded as the death of God, rather than a localised cultural event of European and Western christian history. Of course, this confusion is compounded by the work of many Muslim authors who import christian arguments wholesale into their books without realising that they are already widely discredited and disproved in Europe and were never the basis of Muslim proof in this arena in the first place.
My first encounter with the relevant Islamic material long predates Dawkins’ book, when I was in Cairo, in our study of the most elementary works of tawhid which we were taught in preparatory classes in the Azhar. What I learnt there was later confirmed in study of the renowned work of Abdalwahid ibn ‘Ashir, may Allah be merciful to him, his poem al-Murshid al-mu’in. The basic argument of this Ash’ari teaching is that stated by him so eloquently:

“His existence has a conclusive proof: The need of everything that is in-time for a Maker.”

Note here that no account whatsoever is taken of the intricacy of the thing or things, in this case the cosmos. It is the mere fact of its existence that matters. This thought is supported by the famous question of the philosopher Leibnitz which Martin Heidegger quotes in his Introduction to Metaphysics, “Why is there something rather than nothing at all?” a question he regards as the very first in philosophy. It is well worth the reader stopping and reflecting on this question.1
Thus right away, the argument from design is abandoned. Indeed, in Muslim thought it simply never entered into the equation. The real issue is that something cannot come out of nothing of its own volition since it did not exist and thus had no volition. A void that had the potential for quantum fluctuations out of which matter emerges is not a real void. For a materialist, out of nothing, nothing can emerge. For Allah everything is possible.
The Shaykh proceeds:

If beings had originated by themselves, equality and preponderance would be united.

The Shaykh considers the possibility that things could somehow engender themselves, or the cosmos simply pop into being out of nothing. Quite interestingly, he considers it calmly and coolly, not as a religious intellect confronted and disturbed by rational argument. Rather he considers it rationally, and says, “If beings had originated by themselves”. Then he says that if that had been the case, two matters would have been united, and the image he uses is that of the scales. At-tasawi – equality – indicates when both pans of the scales are equal and level, and ar-rujhan – preponderance – indicates when one pan of the scales outweighs the other. And he is saying that these two cases would be united and concludes at the beginning of the next verse:

And that is impossible.

So he assigns a fifty-fifty probability to the emergence of the cosmos out of nothing, which is being generous, i.e. he is willing to consider it as merely a flip of the coin whether there is something or nothing, an equal probability of either. But then he says that the reality is that there is something, the cosmos exists, and thus it is not fifty-fifty, and these two are contradictory. The scales are not both balanced and imbalanced. The fact that the cosmos exists indicates that there is some factor which renders the chance not fifty-fifty, but one hundred to none.
So this is the crux of Muslim thinking on the proof of the creation of the universe. But what about the complexity and intricacy of the cosmos? The argument of the scholars of this science proceeds, once the impossibility of the universe simply emerging spontaneously from nothing is clear, to argue that the intricacy does not prove the existence of Allah, but demonstrates His knowledge and wisdom, in the same way that the painting can be studied for insight into the painter, or the musical composition for knowledge of the composer.
Thus the argument from design falls because it telescopes two arguments into one, which damages both, but if they are separated as Muslim scholars have done, then a new picture emerges.
There is a point though in having some sympathy with Richard Dawkins and atheist scientists. The whole history of the West is its emergence from under the dead dogmatic hand of the church, which espoused a religious doctrine that was simply absurd and insulting to the intellect, a dead hand which simply consigned its opponents to the flames. Scientists have by-and-large never shaken off the stamp of this long history of oppression, and although that battle is long over and scientists themselves have become a dogmatic and doctrinaire body labelling almost anything fresh, new and interesting as ‘heresy’, yet they earnestly rehearse the long story of christian oppression.
It would be a great mistake in this context, in reaction to scientists’ atheism to embrace the doctrines of the christians, because they are simply unacceptable to us, no matter how attractive they might appear initially. It is no use for us to wrestle with them, for example, using christian creationist arguments, since they are often simply wrong.
Let us hold close to the thread of our argument, and return to Dawkins. If he is evangelical then what is he evangelical for? What does he believe? Arguably in the middle ages, the church was simply a profession, and when priests fought heretics they were professionals defending their livelihoods. The church was big business. It may be for that reason that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is said to have remarked that there is no priesthood in Islam. So what church is Dawkins defending? Who pays him and for whom does he work? Well, this is an interesting question with a no less interesting answer. Dawkins is Charles Simonyi Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, a seat endowed by Simonyi who was a software architect within Microsoft until starting his own company in 2001.
You may not immediately see the significance of this. What, you may ask, has working for the popularisation of science got to do with a major software company, and why should it matter? Let us take this thread further back and indeed right to the beginning.
Consider Galileo, arguably the beginning point of our specifically modern view of physics, the man whose encounter with the church many modern scientists, not the least of them Richard Dawkins, relive in their imaginations. Galileo’s patrons were the Medicis, the Italian banking family that played a very major part in the renaissance2, since they also bank-rolled Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci among a host of other luminaries. The Medicis were catholics from Florence but they were usurers. Banking was recognised in christian dogma of the time as the mortal wrong action of usury, even though the Vatican engaged in it, and, in fact, founded one of the very first banks anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, in the meeting of the Vatican and the Medicis – they were at times the Pope’s own bankers and for one memorable papacy supplied the incumbent – you see the coming into existence of a new dialectic, the commercial secular worldliness that amounts to agnosticism or atheism – although taking a historical detour through protestantism – both abetting and then finally at war with the tyrannical and admittedly hypocritical catholic church.
Next stop on our tour would have to be Isaac Newton. Newton is falsely thought of by Muslims as a unitarian, and thus somehow Islam-friendly. This is not a view that makes the real significance of Newton amenable to us. Although Newton was theologically (and most importantly ‘privately’) a unitarian, he concealed this all his life, since it would simply have stopped his progress in the world. This is not a zone for personal opinion. Our ulama’ have often considered carefully when taqiyyah – dissimulation – is permissible. There are situations in which it is possible to dissimulate, i.e. not to own up to the truth, when to do so would prove life-threatening. When it comes to association of partners with Allah (shirk) at that point dissimulation and concealing one’s belief are not acceptable, and certainly not for the purposes of career advancement. Newton lived at a time when monarchs coerced their citizens into endorsing the Creed, which contains a specific statement of trinitarianism.
The prospect grows more complex in Newton’s case because he lived through the time in English history called ‘the Glorious Revolution’. This event saw a dynasty – the Stewarts – removed from the throne, and a King and Queen ensconced on it who were to prove amenable to a new force emerging from the shadows on to centre stage of history, but this new force was the same as that already encountered in the story of Galileo: banking. But now banking arrives in the form of the Bank of England, the National bank, which was in fact then and until after the second world war a private bank. This bank began the issuance of paper money, which introduces the entire modern monetarist epoch, and was the entity owed the national debt, and that was something completely new. Previously kings had their debts, which they paid off. But now the debt was national, and owed by the people from generation to generation along with the accumulated interest-generated debt.
Newton’s job in this new order, upon acceptance of which he left his scientific work entirely, was first as Warden of the Mint, and then finally its Master. It sounds very commendable in this setting because he was personally responsible for the minting of gold, silver and copper coins. But he did something very important: in 1717 he set the price of gold at £4 4s 111/2d per troy ounce. That sounds an eminently sensible thing to do, to set the price of gold, but the question is, “What was the price of the gold to be paid in?” It was to be paid in the new paper money. What Newton did was to set a price for the new specie of money, to give value to paper in terms of the old value which was universally recognised (and is in many parts of the world today, such as the Arab countries, India and most of the Muslim lands). So Newton used his eminence as a scientist to validate the modern monetary system.
Now, you see this very straight line that we can draw from Galileo through Newton right up to Dawkins: the mysterious connection between usury-capitalism and science. You can also see that Dawkins’ missionary zeal has more than doctrinal significance. Like Newton before him, he validates usury capitalism, if only by his silence on it, because if he does not defeat and disprove God, then every revealed religion we know has declared usury haram and this is a major obstacle for them. His atheism serves a very useful function indeed to some extremely practical and worldly people.
The argument is not simply a theological one, although the importance of clear tawhid as the foundation of the din is admitted by everyone. As Ibn ‘Ashir said, may Allah be merciful to him:

The first obligation on him who is given responsibility | if he has the ability to search (and reflect) is to know

Allah and the Messengers with the attributes | for which He has erected signs.

Now this is the entire point of departure for the din: recognition (ma’rifah) of Allah and His Messengers: knowledge of Allah’s attributes among which are al-ghina – absolute independence, freedom from need, and total wealth, and qudrah – power, capability, the ability to do that which He wills or leave undone whatever He wishes, e.g. He could have left the world uncreated so that there was nothing.
The entire zone of the dunya, of worldliness, revolves around the mistaken thought that such attributes might be attainable by human beings independently of the Creator. In extremes it leads to the desire for all wealth and all power. The person who knows deep in his being that his Lord is All-Wealthy and All-Powerful is not the same as this other.
Figures such as the Medicis and the mediaeval German bankers the Fuggers were vastly wealthier and had more real power than any king of their time. They ushered in the era of dominance by the power of money with political processes remaining simply as theatre to mask the true realities of power. Thus, the British Empire was really the Bank of England Empire, and the Empire’s greatest conquest, India, was a project of the East India Company which had its own armies and administration. The mantle of all of these has passed to a relatively small cabal of financiers and corporate figures.
It is thus that Dawkins has placed his knowledge at the disposal of people who do not acknowledge the wealth, power, knowledge, will and compassion of God, but seek massive wealth and power for themselves. Dawkins is ultimately a priest in a new religion, and this is something that even freethinkers have always puzzled about in him. It is the new religion of global capitalism. Opposite it is the pure teaching of tawhid embedded in the practice of of Islam, pivotal to which is the knowledge of the mu’amalat, the ordinary practices of trade and buying and selling, a relearning of which by us – as traders and men of commerce, employers and employees, shoppers, buyers and sellers, as well as our scholars – will lead to the decoding and dismantling of the capitalist killing machine. For just as the authentic grasping of tawhid is the genuine foundation of the entire din, yet strangely enough this clarity of commercial transactions in the market is itself the indispensable base without which none of the rest of the din will make any sense or be acceptable to Allah. Thus to grasp the mu’amalat is to be on the royal road to the restoration of justice.
More germane to our topic however, given the significance of the relationship between finance/commerce and science, is our question, “What would the sciences look like if they sprang from the soil of a society which had non-usurious and just commercial transactions?” If we do not answer that question here, we do know that it is the Muslims who are obliged to take a lead in creating such a society and thus in bringing about the renewal of the sciences.

Notes

1 Moreover, there is the principle of sufficient reason as formulated by Leibniz: “no fact can be real or existing and no statement true unless it has a sufficient reason why it should be thus and not otherwise” (Leibniz, 198). This principle is often stated as “everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence” or “every event has a cause.” The entire edifice of science rests on this axiomatic understanding and yet an increasingly vocal group would have us believe that the universe itself is the only exception to this rule.
2 See Strathearn, The Medicis: Godfathers of the Renaissance, in which he compellingly shows that the renaissance was very much a banking event.

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26 Responses

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  1. Lochlanach says

    Honoured sir,

    If you dont at some point gather together all or some of your writings and pearls in one book, a Collected works of Clarke, I will be deeply upset and might even perhaps go berserk and pull out the non-existing hair on my head. To not allow these pearls to become real books one can feel and touch by the hand is a crime. To just allow them to stay electronical impulses is indeed a robbery, a new bookburning of Iskanderiyyah. So much of what you have written deserves its right place, in real form, on the bookshelfs of intellectuals and in libraries. This is bigger than the net.

    Please consider it.

  2. admin says

    Dear Lochlanach,

    Thank you for your concern. In common with a great many people, I am constantly writing a book, but in my head. This one has been going on for nigh on a decade, but the written bits of it do not match up yet to anything substantial. The above accurately reflects some of its concerns. Ask Allah to help me to bring it to fruition. Nothing is possible without Him.

    Abdassamad

  3. Australian Muslim says

    Salam,

    Great read, but why does everything in the world have to always return back to Usury and Banking somehow? It gets dry after a while…

    Is everything in the modern world a banking and usury “conspiracy” after-all?

  4. admin says

    wa alaikum as-salam,

    Australian Muslim,

    Fair comment.

    It is one of those things that if you have seen it, you can never not see it again, and if you cannot see it, it is hard for anyone to convince you that it matters. Ezra Pound suffered the same problem. Of course, he was also a great artist whose vast vision went much further than just the economics of things.

    Abdassamad

  5. Australian Muslim says

    Thankyou for your reply Abdassamad,

    I agree that Riba has had a big role to play in the last few hundred years, but it just at time seems that certain people want to relate it to every world topic, from theology, to fiqh, to politics, to wars, to morals, to, well everything really.

    It just seems to form into intellectual bankruptcy after a while…

  6. admin says

    Sidi, do you dispute anything I have written? Am I mistaken? If so, please point out where I am wrong.

    It is interesting that you should make your observation, when arguably the entire global intellectual elite is engaged in the act of hiding this matter, from university academics down through the media, and including almost all of our ‘celebrity’ shaykhs.

    If you do not understand this matter, you cannot understand this society or its history or the French Revolution or the Glorious Revolution, or the collapse of the Ottoman caliphate and the governance of most of the Muslim world.

    Nor will you understand the epoch we are now heading into, because this society is destined for the abyss, as the global derivatives bubble – which is $700 trillion and thus more than ten times the total global economy estimated at $60 trillion – bursts. That is unstoppable and there is no way to get that back on course.

    If you do not understand this matter, you do not understand the very pressures that force you to live your life in a certain way, that pressure all of us into assuming the aberrant form of living in nuclear families, that mean that we live our lives for careers with a completely different relationship to work from that known in any traditional society and throughout the history of Islam. It has transformed the practice of Islam in the world today into a demonstrably Christian/secular form with the mosque taking the place of the church and the Muslims living as indentured servants of a global banking order, ruled by the lowest order of kuffar, the political class, and living merely to service interest on the debt. We are now entertained by ‘shaykhs’ who use Islamic knowledge into lulling us back to sleep and just continuing with our passive roles in this age. We have accepted TV channels that espouse the most vulgar and crass aspects of the age, such as quiz shows and song contests and massive Islamic conferences that consist of little more than the feel-good factor. Bread and circuses, but no one cares as long as circuses are ‘Islamic’!

    The German economist Margrit Kennedy estimates that 47% of all the prices we pay is composed of interest paid at some point in the process. Dr Muhammad Ghanem on his visit to the Ihsan Mosque in Norwich said categorically that the modern banknote is the embodiment of usury. Mr David Cameron said that by 2014 the British State will be paying £74 billion in interest alone on the national debt, which is larger than the budgets for education and health.

    So no matter what personal decisions we make, e.g. if we decide not to take interest on our bank accounts, we are completely immersed in usury, and you think that it is obsessive to point this out!

    In my view, purification of this matter from our hearts and from our ordinary practice stands in relation to the deen in much the same way as the instinja purification of our private parts after using the toilet stands in relation to the prayer and our spirituality. If you do not do istinja properly, the wudu is invalid. If the wudu is invalid, the prayer is invalid. If the prayer is invalid, there is no chance of any spirituality, no matter how much extra ibadah you perform and how many books on the inner life you read and how many shaykhs you accompany.

    The market is the same. If the market is not halal, the income is not halal. If the income is not halal, the food you eat is not halal. If the food you eat is not halal, how can your prayer be accepted? If the income is not halal, how can your zakat be accepted? Yet, if your income is not halal, you are still obliged to pay zakat anyway, just as the prostitute is still required to pay zakat on her earnings, but there is a difference between fulfilling the outward legalities and the acceptance of one’s actions by the Lord.

    As I said, point out where I have made a mistake, but do not just make snide remarks intended to undermine without providing substantive criticism.

    As-salamu alaikum,

    Abdassamad Clarke

  7. faqir says

    as-salamu `alaikum sidi,
    Thank you for your article.
    Please see on intelligent design the following:
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0QYQ/is_1_2/ai_n6160521/
    was-salam

  8. Australian Muslim says

    Assalamu Alaikum Abdassamad,

    Thank you again for that informative response and I do sincerely apologise if I have caused any offence.

    I cannot really fault any of your analysis and would in fact say I generally agree with it.

  9. Abdassamad says

    Wa alaikum as-salam,

    Offence is not the issue. This matter is not about me. If I wanted to impress or amuse people, I would write about something else. But one has to deal with the issues that really do face us.

    Abdassamad

  10. Ruzzi says

    The first mistake is believing that things were created by a consciousness. Has nobody considered that our consiciousness is a manifestation of the collective before…our understanding of a Higher power is then warped with our concious ideology. there very well may be a God but claiming to know the truth in “its existence” by giving it a label and agenda is where everyone differes…..shit happens…why is it impossible to fathom that?

  11. admin says

    Ruzzi,

    Again, return to the two steps. It is impossible to imagine that things just pop into being from nothing, for the first step in western scientific thought is to know that things have causes and that nothing just happens without a cause. Therefore, if individual things have causes, why would the sum of all things – the cosmos – be the one exception to this rule?

    In the above we have made no assumptions about the nature of the cause of the cosmos. However, rationally we would expect the nature of the cosmos’s make-up to tell us something about that cause. The extraordinary vastness of the cosmos must tell us something. The exquisite manifestation of scientific law throughout it tells us something. I leave the rest to your reflection.

    Regards,

    Abdassamad

  12. Ruzzi says

    Thank you for you reply. The perception that i have, as everyones is different, even people from the same schools of thought is, the God that we are trying to understand, could it not be a collective of us every single thing… and not an entity presiding soley seperate from us. My belief is the key is in applying principles within ourselves to truely be a God fearing nation of mankind instead of trying to figure out who and where God is..Islam has intrigued me since I’ve become aware of myself and its ironic, i practice it in principle, i.e. A way of life with regard to my personal hygiene and awareness of the principles..i just have difficulty believing everything that is written in a literal sense.

    Much respect.

    Regards
    Ruzzi

  13. B.A.Frémaux-Soormally says

    “Dawkins is Charles Simonyi Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, a seat endowed by Simonyi who was a software architect within Microsoft until starting his own company in 2001?

    This says it all!

    I have been exposing the lies animologist Dawkins has been propagating with our tax money for the past ten years, but Muslims in the UK (who I have met, known or written to) were not interested!)

    I was once Head of Biology Department for G.C.S.E. (+ Level) students and have a little notion about macro evolution.

    Many thanks for this brilliant essay.

    Many times I wrote to the DELUDED professor, but he never wrote back. He refuses all debates.

    BAFS.

  14. B.A.Frémaux-Soormally says

    Australian Muslim says

    Thank you for your reply Abdassamad,

    “I agree that Riba has had a big role to play in the last few hundred years, but it just at time seems that certain people want to relate it to every world topic, from theology, to fiqh, to politics, to wars, to morals, to, well everything really.”

    When someone wants to tell us he is a Muslims, first he does not hide behind a pseudonym unless his situation is really critical. Is it the case?

    RIBA is behind every calamity that has befallen mankind, culminating in the total destruction of the Khilaafah in 1924, the starvation of nearly half of the world’s population, the enslavement of the entire world with artificial debts they can never repay, and so on.

    Get your Islamic (and economic) facts straight, Australian whatever, because Islam puts RIBA at the top of the list!, and fiat money is the tool by which the money Jews and other usurers go about enslaving us due to our own shortcomings however.

    By the way, only the real CONSPIRATORS (on the State, banking and corporate side) accuse the others of “conspiracy”.

    BAFS

  15. adi says

    I’m thinking that just because some western philosophers say that the argument from design (AFD) is weak does not mean that it is actually weak, it only means that, say, Paley’s version of it was weak, which does not mean that the argument itself cannot be further made rigorous, plus, actually, one can actually see the AFD as an elaboration of the argument from the incipiency of the world (huduth) which you rendered so well; plus the Christian creationist arguments are not necessarily peculiarly “Christian” to such an extent that we can’t learn anything from them or recast them in an Islamic frameowrk.

    adi

  16. NM14 says

    I am unsure of a point. Are you saying that the only reason Newton came up with his gravitational equations and the calculus, and Galileo his (non-Ptolemic) sun centred description of the solar system and Dawkins his Phd and passion for evolution is to usurp the church and push monetary systems and capitalism? Or are they just pawns of the money mongers. What about Copernicus, Kepler, Faraday, Maxwell and Einstein, or even Charles Darwin himself. Can they also be considered in the same light. Pursuing their scientific work as a cover for their true goal of over throwing the church and pushing Atheism to allow a smooth ride for the capitalists and international bankers and financiers. Any way if I was muslim I would support Dawkins until the catholics have been snuffed out and science stills fails to come up with all the answers. Then as people are thinking we are never going to have any facts relating to the unanswerable questions, I would go hard and fast. Filling the void in peoples hearts with the beauty of the Kuran. The only problem is that in the Western world only a very small percentage can speak and read Arabic well enough to understand the Kuran. And the Kuran is in Arabic. Any translation is not the word of God. The word of God is the Arabic. Translations are human interpretation. And unless you are a prophet which no-one else can be as The Great Mohammed was the last, what you are doing is attempting to speak for God. Is there anything more blasphemous, regardless of the intention. Anyhow unless you can account for all the great scientists and explain their actions and scientific work pre-finance then your only preaching to the converted. No-one will read your work with a fair mind. Just like no true muslim will be convinced by any argument made by some Atheist. Atheists though, even the dogmatic ones say that they can and will be swayed by fact. You just need to cover up all the holes. That means, Darwin, Faraday, and basically every physicist that has ever gotten a Phd. A Difficult task but worth it for the sake of the Great most exalted Allah.

  17. admin says

    Well, I am clearly not saying that the reason Newton came up with his gravitational equations and the calculus (along with Leibniz), and Galileo his (non-Ptolemaic) sun-centred description of the solar system (but actually that was Copernicus, not Galileo), and Dawkins his PhD and passion for evolution was … They were all driven by quite different motives. Newton and Galileo lived at the emergence of modern capitalism. Newton found himself at a certain confluence of forces and events and took the course of least resistance, perhaps, and wound up Master of Mint, his scientific reputation proving very useful at a certain point in the development of banking capitalism, useful to him and to others. Galileo happened to live at the time of later Medici who represented the emergence of a parallel and competing point of patronage to the Church. That the Catholic Church were a bunch of gangsters is amply demonstrated by Strathearn’s fine book, “The Medicis – Godfathers of the Renaissance” in which he clearly intended the pun in the word Godfather.

    As to all the other figures you mentioned, each has his complex story, and they are all very different stories. Kepler believed deeply in God and that God had two revelations, Scripture and the Creation, and that one ought to read both of them carefully. Darwin was a strange and rather nasty bit of work. Arguably he led a pampered and trouble-free existence living off his father’s usury, having even considered a position in the Church – ideal in those days for the aspiring scientist, yielding a tidy income and a lot of free time – but was then embittered by the only trouble he ever experienced, the loss of a child, into becoming a closet atheist. Nevertheless, it was important enough to him to find his place in the rigid class-based society of his time for him to carefully not lay any stress on potentially revolutionary implications of evolutionary theory. Some of his biographers reckon that the contradiction in his position was what made him violently ill every day of his life. But he got what he wanted in the end: burial in Westminster Abbey along with the great.

    As to filling the void in people’s hearts in some sort of organised or missionary fashion, the truth is that people are flocking into Islam in spite of our inactivity, and discovering for themselves the beauties of the Qur’an and of the Arabic language, which is after all a language like any other which it is quite conceivable to learn, even for insular Englishmen who are notoriously monoglot.

    I do not speak against science, but as someone deeply immersed in science who studied Newtonian physics a great deal, in particular studying mechanics, and then optics three times, and also studying Special Relativity three times. So it is not my attempt to speak against science, and certainly not to speak up for the Church, which I regard as a conspiracy against the believers. If I had to cast my lot in with anyone it would probably be with the scientists. However, there is no completely satisfactory solution to these issues that have divided Christendom.

    My disappointment is reserved for modern Muslims who have adopted Christian Creationism and a literalism like that of Christian Fundamentalism.

    It seems to me nevertheless that you are somewhat naive in taking atheists’ assertion that they will listen to any argument at its face value. Atheism is, after all, a dogmatic position vis-a-vis an unseen matter, in this case that nothing unseen exists. It is just as dogmatic in that respect as theism.

    If you are interested in the development of my thinking on this, and I do not claim to be providing answers, but in a sense thinking aloud, then take a look at this: http://norwichconference.com/?p=213

    Regards,

    Abdassamad

  18. B.A.Frémaux-Soormally says

    NM14 says
    “I am unsure of a point.”

    Having been given the freedom of expression, I always wonder why some believe they can talk about science while HIDING behind false abbreviated identifications. I would ignore them!

    BAFS

  19. Abdassamad says

    Thank you. I agree. I would normally ignore anonymous posts. Slipped up this time. Abdassamad

  20. Ibn Ma‘s?m says

    As-salaamu alaykum, shaykh.

    I was wondering if you could help me with sort out this situation I’m in.

    As a Muslim living in the West, I was exposed to the ideas of christians, atheists, secularists, humanists, etc. in such a way that they formed my worldview for quite some time, and I would, astaghfirullah, try to shape my Islam to fit them, supporting democracy and secular human rights as well as sometimes being corrupt in aqida (feeling doubts about the existence of the akhirah, the ghayb, and miracles). About a year ago, however, I read the book “The Esoteric Deviation in Islam”, which showed me why I was wrong and gave me hope that Islam was so much more than what I thought it was before. Since then I have been struggling, trying to find something to hold on to so that I can pursue the knowledge necessary to strengthen my iman and practice my deen properly. I have been trying to study the history of the West and Western philosophy, reading some Islamic books (but in such a way that they didn’t have a lasting effect on me), trying to learn Arabic, and all of this jumping from one place to another has me sinking even deeper.

    I was hoping you would be able to tell me where to start and what my priorities are as a Muslim.

    I apologize in advance if this was not an appropriate question to ask you, or if the was the appropriate place to ask it.

  21. admin says

    Wa alaikum as-salam,

    Your question is most welcome and in essence probably reflects the position of a much wider constituency of people than you realise. First, geography: where are you? Company is the first serious necessity, and specifically the company of those who might understand the things you are trying to understand.

    Abdassamad

  22. Ibn Ma‘s?m says

    Salaam.

    I live in America, in California to be specific.

  23. Abdassamad Clarke says

    Dear Ibn Mas’um,

    The Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies (MFAS) was set up to help precisely with the issues you mention. Whereas other very august bodies of scholars are teaching ‘raw’ Islamic material thus freeing us of the need to do that, we have found it necessary to attend to the context.

    We have been dealing now for two terms with the context of the world in which we actually live, which was moulded by events in Europe specifically the French Revolution, as well as the context of Muslim society. For this latter we have studied the History of the Khalifas and the Madhhabs of Islam, and next term we are looking into the story of Early Madina, thus dealing with the context in which the revelation came about.

    It seems to me that this does open up a space for us to begin teaching the classical Islamic sciences at some point, but I know from personal experience that doing so with an understanding of the context and the purpose is a quite different experience.

    I had not meant to offer you an institutional response, but because you are so far away and not in the UK the chances of meeting personally or of my recommending you the company of good people is more remote.

    Wa’s-salam,

    Abdassamad

  24. Ibn Ma‘s?m says

    Jazakallahu khayr, for your suggestion, shaykh Abdassamad.

    I’ve seen the website of the Muslim Faculty and it does teach exactly what I was looking for, but, as you mentioned, my location is a problem. There are institutions like Zaytuna here that seem to attempt some of what you describe. Would I be able to self-study history, political theory, and philosophy? There is no shortage of books about those over here and Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi has written books about those subjects.

  25. Abdassamad Clarke says

    Remember that MFAS is in situ and on-line too. But of course, you will benefit greatly from Zaytouna and there is also the possibility of actually sitting with your teachers and other students, and that is certainly to be preferred.

Continuing the Discussion

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