21 June, 2018 | 7 Shawwal, 1439 H

"What corrupts generosity is mentioning it."

- The Prophet Muhammad (s)

Learning
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Core Curriculum

Section 1 - God, Religion and Islam: An Introduction
  • Topic 1.1 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 1.2 - God, Allah and Religion

  • Topic 1.3 - Introduction to Islam

  • Topic 1.4 - What is “Religion” and What’s the Point of it Anyways?

  • Topic 1.5 - A Brief Introduction to the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Prophet of Islam

Section 2 - Foundations of Islam - Theology
  • Topic 2.1 - Entering Islam: The Shahada

  • Topic 2.2 - The Usūl al-Dīn: The Fundamental Beliefs of Islam

  • Topic 2.3 - Tawhīd: The Unity and Oneness of God in Islam

  • Topic 2.4 - Adala: Divine Justice in Islam

  • Topic 2.5 - Nubuwwa: The Purpose of Prophethood in Islam

  • Topic 2.6 - Imāmah or divinely guided leadership in Islam after the Prophet Muhammad.

  • Topic 2.7 - Maʿād: The Day of Judgment in Islam

  • Topic 2.8 - The Sharīʿa: Purpose and Practice

  • Topic 2.9 - The Islamic Concept of the Nafs: Battling the Human Ego

  • Topic 2.10 - Satan, Jinns and Angels: Their Influence in the World

  • Topic 2.11 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

Section 3 - Foundations of Islam - Obligatory Acts
  • Topic 3.1 - Accepting Islam: Putting Faith into Action

  • Topic 3.2 - Jihād in Islamic Law and Spirituality

  • Topic 3.3 - Salāt: Obligatory Ritual Prayers in Islam

  • Topic 3.4 - Ritual Purity in Islamic Law: Understanding Tahāra and Najāsa

  • Topic 3.5 - The Five Categories of Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.6 - Tawalla and Tabarra, its Basics and Purpose

  • Topic 3.7 - The Purpose of Zakat and Khums in Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.8 - The Hajj Pilgrimage

  • Topic 3.9 - The Furūʿ al-Dīn: The Fundamental Practices of Islam

  • Topic 3.10 - Fasting in Islam, its Purpose, Dos and Don’ts

  • Topic 3.11 - Other Obligatory and Forbidden Acts in Islam

  • Topic 3.12 - Niyya: Religious Intention as the Foundation of Islamic Practice

  • Topic 3.13 - Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil in Islam

Section 4 - Prophethood in Islam
  • Topic 4.1 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Childhood (PART I of III)

  • Topic 4.2 - Bio: The Prophet Muhammad as a Prophet of God (PART II of III)

  • Topic 4.3 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Character (PART III of III)

  • Topic 4.4 - The Prophet Muhammad (s) as Messenger and Teacher

  • Topic 4.5 - The Prophet and his Relationships

  • Topic 4.6 - The Prophet’s Sunnah and Hadith

  • Topic 4.7 - Ghadīr and Arafah: The Two Last Sermons of the Prophet

  • Topic 4.8 - Jesus and Mary in Islam

Section 5 - The Qur'an and Hadith
  • Topic 5.1 - Islam and Other Religions

  • Topic 5.2 - What is the Qur’an? A Short Introduction to Islam’s Holy Book

  • Topic 5.3 - The Structure of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.4 - The Quran and Islamic law

  • Topic 5.5 - The Qur’an, Allah and Humankind

  • Topic 5.6 - Hadith and Sunnah, difference and variations

  • Topic 5.7 - The Reliability of Hadiths

  • Topic 5.8 - A Reflection on Verses of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.9 - Hadith al-Thaqalayn

  • Topic 5.10 - Imam Ali (as) and Nahj al-Balagha.

  • Topic 5.11 - Taqlid and Tawḍih Al Masail Genre of Literature

Section 6 - Measuring Good and Bad in Islam
  • Topic 6.1 - The Effects of Our Actions in this World

  • Topic 6.2 - The Gray Areas of Islamic Law and Morality

  • Topic 6.3 - Heaven and Hell in Islam

  • Topic 6.4 - Life and Death in Islam

  • Topic 6.5 - Guidance According to Islam

  • Topic 6.6 - Fate and the Consequences of our Choices in Islam

  • Topic 6.7 - The Effect of Culture and Environment in Shaping our Religious Choices

  • Topic 6.8 - Major Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.9 - Why Allah Allows People to Sin

  • Topic 6.10 - Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.11 - The Three Kinds of Rights in Islam

  • Topic 6.12 - Sinning Against Others and their Delayed Punishment

  • Topic 6.13 - Kufr in Islam

  • Topic 6.14 - Trivializing the Harām

  • Topic 6.15 - Benefits of Islamic Law in this World

  • Topic 6.16 - Good and Bad Deeds: The Spiritual Consequences of our Choices

Section 7 - The Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)
  • Topic 7.1 - Islam and Knowledge: the Importance of Islamic Education

  • Topic 7.2 - The Ahl al-Kisa

  • Topic 7.3 - Imamah in the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.4 - Fatima al-Zahrah (as)

  • Topic 7.5 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam al-Hasan until Imam Muhammad al-Baqir)

  • Topic 7.6 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam Jafar al-Sadiq until Imam Hasan al-Askari)

  • Topic 7.7 - A Brief Look at the Life and Importance of Imam al-Mahdi (aj)

  • Topic 7.8 - Salawat and Atonement in Islam

  • Topic 7.9 - The Companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet According to the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.10 - Clerical Hierarchies in Muslim Communities

  • Topic 7.11 - Mosques in Islam

  • Topic 7.12 - The Philosophy of Karbala and Majalis

  • Topic 7.13 - A Brief Biography of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as)

  • Topic 7.14 - The Battle of Karbala: A Brief History

Section 8 - Islamic Relationships, Sects and Conflicts
  • Topic 8.1 - Misconceptions about Shi’ism

  • Topic 8.2 - Major Sects of Islam

  • Topic 8.3 - Islam and Religious Conflicts

  • Topic 8.4 - Islam and Rights

  • Topic 8.5 - Sunnism and Shi’ism, beginnings and historical developments.

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Special Topics

Section 9 - Independent Topics
  • Topic 9.1 - Muslim Converts – Welcome to Islam!

  • Topic 9.2 - Basic Dos and Don’ts of Being a Muslim

  • Topic 9.3 - Halal Food and Zabiha

  • Topic 9.4 - Family, Parents and Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.5 - Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.6 - Islam and Sex

  • Topic 9.7 - Modesty in Islam

  • Topic 9.8 - Women’s Menstruation in Islam

  • Topic 9.9 - Music, Alcohol, Drugs and Pork in Islam

  • Topic 9.10 - Islam and Science

  • Topic 9.11 - A Reading List of Islamic Knowledge

  • Topic 9.13 - Ritual Prayers and Supplications in Islam

  • Topic 9.14 - Death & Burial Rituals in Islam

  • Topic 9.15 - The Battle of Armageddon: An Islamic View

  • Topic 9.16 - The Muslim Calendar

  • Topic 9.17 - Muslims and non-Muslims in the Shariah

  • Topic 9.18 - A Timeline of Major Events in Islamic History

  • Topic 9.19 - Introducing the Qur’an: Why it is the way it is

  • Topic 9.20 - The School of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq

  • Topic 9.21 - Major Fields in Islamic Studies

  • Topic 9.22 - The Caliphate in Sunni and Shia Islam

  • Topic 9.24 - Islam, Racism and Anti-Semitism

Section 10 - Islam, Religion, and Modern Controversies
  • Topic 10.1 - Modern Fallacies about God: where Theists and Atheists Agree

  • Topic 10.2 - Tawhīd: The Muslim God according to the Prophet Muhammad and the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

  • Topic 10.3 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Being (Wujūd)

  • Topic 10.4 - God’s Existence: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  • Topic 10.5 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Design

  • Topic 10.6 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 10.7 - Why did God Create Us? The Purpose of our Creation

  • Topic 10.8 - Why Humans Need Religion according to Islam

  • Topic 10.9 - Jahl and Spiritual Ignorance in Islam

  • Topic 10.11 - Do Non-Muslims Go to Hell?

Modern Fallacies about God: where Theists and Atheists Agree

Abstract

Many theists today objectify God by understanding him as an object that exists along side other objects in the universe. By objectifying God, theists put the Abrahamic God on the same level as the gods of mythology* who, as an immortal but limited and contingent being, exists in the same was as Zeus would exist. This lecture observes how atheists have taken advantage of this objectified and erroneous conception of God and made it a grounds for denying His existence. It concludes that the god which atheists are rejecting is also rejected by the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). 

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.  

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! This lesson will be an overview of one of the primary fallacies concerning God. The fallacy in question is the objectification of God. Objectifying God means seeing God as a limited and contingent being* akin to any other object in the universe existing within time, space and matter. 

 

Although this conception of God was always present throughout history, even among Muslims, it was categorically rejected by the Prophet Muhammad and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).  This is because it went against the real nature of God. Our intention, however, is not to put all theists in one basket, but to point out an incorrect understanding of theism.  

 

We will then observe how modern atheists have adopted this common but erroneous understanding of God and made it the grounds for rejecting His wholesale existence. In this lesson, we argue that the God which atheists reject is also rejected by Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).  

 

We begin our series of lectures with this question as without a proper understanding of Tawhīd*, none of Islam makes sense. We also feel that for many Muslims, an incorrect understanding of the Islamic God is often the main source of doubts and misgivings about Islam. Our attempt in the next series of short classes is to rectify this problem which, unfortunately, is pervasive among many believing theists. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Say, ‘Do you order me worship other than Allah, O [you who are] ignorant of Allah?’ (Quran: Chapter 39, verse 64) 

 

Within the last fifteen years, a great deal of literature has been published aiming to disprove the existence of God. God, this genre of literature claims, is merely a delusion akin to fairies. His existence is not verifiable or provable in anyway.  

 

Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist writer and scientist living today, writes the following in his book The God Delusion, I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf…I just go one god further.  

 

For atheists like Richard Dawkins, the God of monotheism, often known as Yahweh, Allah or Khoda (among other names), is just another version of a god akin to those of Greek and Hindu mythology. The Abrahamic God, they argue, is no different than the gods of polytheism except that this “god” is much more powerful, longer in duration, omniscient and most distinguishing of all, alone. Damon Linker summarizes the atheist argument in the following way: 

 

Without exception, our clamorous and combative atheists treat God as if he were the biggest, most powerful object or thing in, or perhaps alongside, the universe. Then they use the findings of science to show that there is no evidence for such an immensely powerful object or thing. And ipso facto, there is no God. 

 

When we talk about the “objectification” of God, we mean that God, like the smaller gods of polytheism and mythology, is conceived as an object among other objects in existence. In other words, God is a being among other beings, either within the universe or alongside it. If God is an object or being treading somewhere in or beyond the universe, then this begs the question of where this “god” is. Has anyone seen him? Where in the world is he exactly? Can he be detected? Can his existence be concluded via the scientific method?  

 

Atheists answer that this God cannot be observed or detected in any way, meaning that like Zeus or Krishna, there is no reason to believe that he exists.  

 

Some theists will reply that this God is like a spirit, which is why he cannot be seen or detected. Atheists, however, retort that such a claim in no way helps the case for God’s existence for all it implies is that by virtue of being undetectable, there will never be evidence for his existence.  

 

As atheists like Dawkins conclude, a rational person only believes in the existence of things which there is evidence for, only a deluded and non-sensible person believes in things without evidence. 

 

According to Islam’s school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), there are five usūl al-dīn, or principals of religion. The first principal is that of Tawhīd, or oneness of the Muslim or Islamic understanding of God.  

 

The principal of Tawhīd states that there is nothing like God and that He transcends all that we can imagine, including space, time and matter. He is not contingent nor is He conditioned by anything. He is not an object among other objects, nor is he a being among other beings like the gods of Greek and Hindu mythology. The Qur’an rejects the existence of such gods: 

 

They worship besides Allah that which can neither cause them harm or bring them any kind of benefit; and they say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allah.’ Say, ‘Will you inform Allah about something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth?’ Immaculate is He and he is exalted above having any associates which they ascribe [to Him]! (Quran: Chapter 10 verse 18). 

 

He is not “in” or “alongside” the universe other contingent beings or objects would be. He is, instead, the source and fountain of all being and existence without whom nothing can exist, not even for a split second.  

 

As the transcendental and unconditional grounds for all of existence, he is not subject to scientific inquiry as only contingent objects (like objects that depend on space, time and matter) can be observed in this way. Simply put, science is the study of finites and God is infinite, so we must use other methods to derive the existence of God.  

 

The evidence for God, according to the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), is to found in logic and in the experience of the human spiritual heart. 

 

This will be covered in more detail in the next series of lectures. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

Tawhīd

Unity and oneness of God. 

 

Contingent being

A being who depends on something outside of it to exist, like other beings, or space, time and matter. 

Gods of mythology

The gods in the stories of myths, like Zeus.  

 

Q1

What is Tawhīd? 

 Tawhīd is the oneness and unity of God. It means that He is absolutely one and there is nothing imaginable like Him. 

 

Q2

What is objectifying God?

Objectifying God or Allah means to consider Him as a being who exists like we do, that is, as a limited object among other objects that currently exist. 

 

Q3

How does the Abrahamic God differ from the gods of polytheism?

The Abrahamic or Muslim God is the non-conditional, non-contingent source of all of existence, He is the condition of possibility for anything to exist. The gods of polytheism are contingent beings like any other except that they are immortal.   

Q4

If I reject the existence of a contingent God, am I an atheist?

 Not unless you believe in a God who is non-contingent. 

 

Q5

What does it mean when you say “God is the fountain of all of existence”

 It means that the totality of reality and existence depends upon Him. 

Allah
God
Tawhīd
Tawheed
Khoda
atheism
theism
Islam
mythology
usool-e-deen
usool deen
usul al-din
greek gods
hindu gods
Richard Dawkins
Twelver Shiʿism
Muslims
Muslim
Muslim God
Islamic God

Damon Linker, “Memo to atheists: God’s not dead yet” in The Week,

David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss. Yale: Yale University Press, 2014.

 

Ayatullah ʿAbdullah Jawādī Āmulī. A Commentary on Theistic Arguments.  

Karim Aghili. God in Islamic Traditions: A Glance at al-Tawhid by Shaykh al-Saduq. 

Sayyed Mohammad Beheshti. God in the Quran.