Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Importance of Objective Standards

Why life is meaningless and dangerous without standards and authorities

Following on from the last post about accommodating and promoting blasphemy, it has become even clearer that understanding authority in Islam is a major issue in the Anglosphere. Something cannot be labelled blasphemy or innovation unless it contradicts that which is orthodox, or standard. Despite attempts to portray things as otherwise, Islam does indeed have objective standards that determine what orthodox creed is and therefore what a Muslim is.

Insha'Allah, there will be a post very soon dedicated exclusively to explaining authority in our religion, but in the meantime it would be useful to show how objective standards are used across the board.

1) In the video above, Professor Thomas Sowell explains how there are objective standards in professional fields, especially those that have consequential knowledge, such as engineering and medicine. Consequential knowledge is knowledge that has consequences in the outside world. If an engineer makes a mistake a bridge or building might collapse. If a doctor makes a mistake a patient can be seriously harmed or even killed. If an aeroplane pilot makes a wrong decision, hundreds of lives can be at risk. There is little room for feelings, opinions, experimentation and guesswork.

2) There are also objective standards in gender and race, and again, despite attempts to portray things as otherwise, a man will always be a man, a woman will always be a woman and Rachel Dolezal will always have Czech, German and Swedish lineage. Brendan O'Neill has written an excellent article about how western society has moved from "being" to "identifying". Now, for example, a man simply has to "identify" as a woman and he is one, regardless of objective standards such as chromosomes and genitalia. Instead, it is subjective feelings that now decide such matters.

Mike Adams of Natural News wrote an insightful article several months ago about how dangerous this notion is, especially in legal matters. What if someone identifies as an animal, for example a cat, and then commits bestiality with a poor feline? Can he use the excuse that he was born into the wrong species, that he was supposed to be born as a cat and therefore all he was doing was mating with the opposite sex of his species? Again, do we ignore the objective standards that distinguish a cat from a human being and surrender to someone's feelings? The absurdity of all this was also captured brilliantly by James Delingpole after Rachel Dolezal was exposed as a white woman. However you were created (gender, race, species etc.) is not an oppressive social construct.

The articles above, especially Delingpole's, are humorous, but it's no laughing matter if these ideas are being stuffed down the throats of children. Is anyone going to bother telling these poor children that "transitioning" is nothing more than cosmetic: a man will never menstruate and a woman will never produce sperm, no matter how much surgery is done or how many hormones are ingested or injected? In addition to disfiguring and mutilating oneself, one is also making oneself infertile.

3) There are also objective standards in laws, legals codes and constitutions. If a law can be interpreted and reinterpreted according to "the age we live in" or whims and fancies, then, as George Will puts it, we have a constitution that doesn't constitute. Please watch from the seventh minute:

Or, as Walter E Williams sums it up, who would play poker if the rules were "living"?

This is similar to our understanding that there is no ijtihad in matters for which there is a clear text, or that which is known to be from the religion by necessity. Therefore, there is no ijtihad as to whether alcohol or usury are haraam, or regarding the inheritance shares that are laid out in the Qur'an. If ijtihad were permissible in these matters then the Revealed Law would disintegrate. The same goes for legal schools (madhhabs); each has its own principles (usul) as well as relied-upon (mu'tamad) scholars and books. If these are dismissed or ignored, the school disintegrates and becomes meaningless. Please see The Adab of the Mufti for more details.

4) Therefore, or last but certainly not least, we have objective standards for religion. What defines a Muslim? A Muslim, or follower of any other religion, is defined by what he or she believes in: their theology. If an individual's theology matches that of Islam, i.e. what Allah has revealed in His Book and on the tongue of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, then that person is a Muslim. If not, then no.

We are not "Muslims for Progressive Values", who, on their website, say: "We accept as Muslim anyone who identifies as such." Again, this is the total absence of objective standards. According to these people, theology is irrelevant; if you feel like a Muslim or call yourself a Muslim, you are. 

Yet, is it only "Muslims for Progressive Values" who act upon this principle? A cursory glance at Islamic events, conferences and other activity in the Anglosphere shows that this principle is actually in full effect, for we can see Sunni Muslims sharing platforms with and indeed praising individuals [see pages 12 and 16] who hold beliefs that are diametrically opposed to that which is known to be of the religion by necessity. Brother Abu Nur al-Mizzi summarised this nicely in his article:

"All of these unprincipled practices lead to the distortion and corruption of the religion from within and a dereliction of duty.  They will knowingly invite the unlearned, the open sinner, the Perennialist, those who believe that the character of the Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) is incomplete, those that openly believe and publicly defend the stance that Sayyiduna Adam (`alayhi al-salam) had parents, those that have publicly written and defend that Allah ta`ala ascends, descends, and sits with His holy Essence (dhaat), those that reject mass-transmitted beliefs, those that reject consensuses, those that deny matters known to be from the essentials of the religion, etc."

Whoever honours a person of innovation has indeed assisted in the destruction of Islam.

With that being the case, what is the meaningful purpose of these conferences and conventions? Is it just to "feel" good? Is there a really a consequential difference between events like this (here, here, and here) and events like this (here and here)?

It should thus be clear that for anything in life to have meaning, and especially our faith, there have to be objective standards, and there have to be authorities that uphold and defend these standards. Our foundational theology is in the Qur'an, and then we have authoritative texts, starting with Bayyaan as-Sunnah by Imam Abu Ja'far at-Tahawi, al-'Itiqaad by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and al-Fiqh al-Akbar by Imam Abu Hanifah. From texts like these, further authoritative ones have been written. These are our standards. Just because there is a movement afoot in the Anglosphere aimed deliberately at obfuscating standards and making everything subjective and relative, it does not mean we should allow Islam to be subjected to it.

And with Allah alone is every success.

Related Posts:
The Accommodation and Promotion of Blasphemy
A Guide for New Believers
A Guide to the Book of Allah
The Purpose of Life
Fatawa that Appear Islamic but Actually Serve the West
The Adab of the Mufti
Why do they support Trump?
Islam is revelation, not a race or culture
Can You See? (Jurjis)

1 comment:

Reader said...

assalamu alaikum,

Waiting to read your article on the objective criteria in Islam. I suppose writing such a piece would in fact be getting into defining Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamah itself.

I have benefited a lot from the short book Fath al Basir of Imam Usman Don Fodio rah. (, which has been translated to English and covers a lot of the core foundational matters that will help every Muslim who has finished with basics of Islam, to further strengthen his understanding and perspective in knowing who are the authorities and who aren't and what are the limits and those which are not, individual and collective obligations and so forth.