Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Reality of the Nature of Allah:

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Author’s note:
What I have to present is a very simple, concise, treatise on the nature of Allah’s existence, the splendor of His exclusivity, and the magnitude of His dominance over all things. I have taken upon myself to write something such as this, as a result of sitting in a class on `Aqidah/Islamic-Theology, in which the instructor, teaching this class, mentioned some things about Allah that didn’t sit right with me at all, in spite of this person mentioning evidence from various sources. The premise of this class was centered upon literal & allegorical/figurative aspects of revealed texts (the Qur’an in particular), which highlight some qualities & characteristics of Allah, in which persons, both classically, as well as contemporarily, have expressed various opinions about. But, with me being me, the position & justification that he gave for his stances weren’t good enough for me. So, of course, I had decided to take pen-to-paper, and here we are, with this treatise, concerning the nature of Allah.

My objective, however, is not to call people out, or declare heresy/blasphemy upon any Muslim. Rather, it is only an honest, unbiased, simple, attempt to clarify some aspects of Allah’s nature, especially for those Muslims who may be reverts/Non-Arabic speaking Muslims, and/or persons (both Muslim & Non-Muslim alike) who may legitimately be oblivious & ignorant to this millenium old issue, concerning Allah’s nature-To make it plain: everyone has opinions, about who Allah is, how does He manifest His divine qualities, what is the extent, if any, of His qualities , etc. This treatise is not about this. It’s simply a platform, to display specific things which Allah establishes for Himself, in both the Qur’an & Prophetic-Tradition, about Himself & His divine nature.

It is my sincere hope that anyone & everyone may be able to benefit, in some way, from whatever I’ve written in this treatise. I’m hopeful that this could inspire/empower others to, in fact, seriously study this subject matter, more extensively, for their own selves, in order to theologically empower & liberate one’s self, from the theological dominance of others, who may or may not have your best interests at heart. As Muslims, we owe it to Allah,then, to ourselves, to be theologically safe & free from theological flaws, mistakes, personal opinions of others & just stick to authentic stances, based upon authentic texts, from both the Qur’an & Prophetic-Tradition.

By the way, just for enforced personal clarification: I am a Non-Sectarian Muslim, which means that I am not partial, nor biased, towards or against any particular theological group, school, or scholarly standing, in regards to this issue, and various other Islamic, religious issues, which have been the source of many a debate, between Muslims, for the last 1,000 years.

The Nature of Allah:

His Existence-
Allah is uncreated, Eternal, Divine, Perfect, and completely unlike anything which has ever been, or ever will be, created. When describing Allah, firstly, it is of the utmost importance to stay within the authentic parameters of the Qur’an & Sunnah/Prophetic-Tradition, in regards to what Allah attributes to Himself, as well as to what extent Allah goes to elaborate on certain, and/or specific, attributions about Himself. When it comes to how He exist, He in fact exist in an eternal context. Meaning, He exists without having a beginning or an end-This is the absolute basis of His dominance over all else which exists, aside from Himself.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.112, V.2; 42, V.11)

His Oneness/Uniqueness-
Allah is one & absolute, completely & exclusively unique, as one who exists. This highlights His divinity, His exclusive right to be worshipped, at all times & in all places. This is important, because, when people take on acts of worship, they must be sure that it is Allah who is the object of their worship, and no one else who exists. The best example of this is the Shahadah, itself. The Shahadah is the religious testimony of faith for Muslims; it confirms two things: One, our recognition & acceptance that there is no one who is worshipworthy, except Allah. Two, that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah, to be followed in all things, regarding the proper way to be obedient to Allah.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.47, V.19; Chpt.33, V.21)

His Names & Characteristics-
Any & all of Allah’s names & characteristics serve as direct indicators of His qualities, which are: uncreated, eternal, divine, absolute, unlimited, complete, perfect & positive, just like He is.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.7, V.180)

Allah’s Divine-Impossibilities:
There are very detailed things which are impossible for Allah, and before people get crazy, let me explain them-

a. It’s impossible for Allah to be created, age, or die-
Allah explains in detail, how this is an impossibility.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.112, V.2)

b. It’s impossible for Allah to be more than one-
Allah is one, without being divided. He is perfectly individual.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.112, V.1; Chpt.2, V.163)

c. It’s impossible for to Allah to have parents or children-
Allah makes it crystal-clear that it is not from His divine-integrity to have parents or children.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.112, V.3)

d. It is impossible for Allah to be dependant upon anyone or anything-
Allah needs nothing from anyone or anything, and, everyone & everything needs Allah.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.2, V.255; Chpt.31, V.26)

e. It is impossible for Allah to be a Tyrant-
This is based upon what Allah says about himself.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.18, V.49; an-Nawawi)

f. It is impossible for Allah to be selfish or cheap-
Allah gives of what he wills, how He wills, to whom He wills.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.5, V.64)

g. It is impossible for Allah to be defeated/subdued-
Allah can never be defeated or conquered by anyone or anything.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.6, V.28; Chpt.38, V.65)

h. It is impossible for Allah to have any negative names, characteristics, or qualities-
Allah is in eternal possession of the best names, characteristics, and qualities-His names, characteristics, and qualities are eternal, positive, and perfect, just as He is.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.2, V.286; Chpt.20, V.8; Chpt.7, V.180)

Allah’s features:

a. Allah has a Nafs/Persona-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having an actual Nafs/persona, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the Nafs/persona of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.5, V.116; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn)

b. Allah has a Face-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having an actual face, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the face of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.55, V.26 & 27; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn)

c. Allah has Speech, as well as a Voice-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having actual speech, along with an actual voice, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the speech or voice of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.4, V.164; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn)

d. Allah has Hands-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having actual hands, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the hands of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.38, V.75; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn; Bukhari)

e. Allah has Shins-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having actual shins, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the shins of any created thing.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.68, V.42; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn)

f. Allah has Feet-
This is solely based upon the fact that Allah does in fact describe Himself, in the Qur’an, as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in the Sunnah, as having actual feet, not to be compared, or confused with the similitude of the feet of any created thing.(Bukhari & Muslim)

Now, at this point, I will have to explain why some Muslims would have a serious problem with what I’ve just mentioned:

There have been, classically & contemporaneously, (various persons, groups, schools, etc.) those whom have taken a theological position that the features which Allah has described Himself with are only allegorical, and not literal. This is based solely upon interpretations of linguistic nuances of the Arabic-Language, as opposed to what Allah has actually mentioned about Himself, what Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has mentioned about Him, what his Companions (May Allah be pleased with them all-together), and what the general consensus of Muslim scholars of the Salaf (the first three generations of Muslims, relative to the revelation of the Qur’an) have commented on concerning the features of Allah. In fact, classically, the vast majority of the Salaf have always taken a neutral stance, regarding the features of Allah, that they are what they are, as mentioned, in both the Qur’an & Sunnah, without attempting to explain them, nor denying the reality that these features actually exists.(Kitab Sharh-is-Sunnah [Explanation of the Creed], by Muhammad al-Barbahari) However, persons have deemed it necessary to do one of two things: One, two either negate the reality that Allah has described Himself with these features, giving them a figurative definition. Two, attempting to give the features of Allah form & structure. In all reality, both are equally, theologically, dangerous.

This particular debate, over the extent of the reality, or lack-there-of, of the features of Allah, has been a recurring, theological/scholarly, debate, for the past 1,000+ years, among Muslims. But, that’s not my concern, to get caught-up with the differing opinions of others. My point here is very simple at this point-There are so many things about Allah’s nature, which we, as created things will probably never know, and, it doesn’t even matter, for the following reasons: One, if it were really that important for us, as created things, to know in detail, regarding the features of Allah, then, Allah would’ve most definitely extended the definition of what His features are, or are not, either in the Qur’an, personally, or impersonally, via the Prophetic-Tradition of His Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Two, debating over whether Allah has these features or not will not get you any further in one’s development as a Muslim-Personally, I view this as a waste of time, for people to go back-and-forth, debating, arguing, attacking one another, verbally, sometimes, even physically, over this issue.

There should be no doubt, to any Muslim, that when Allah mentions something in the Qur’an, or through the Prophetic-Tradition of His Messenger (Peace be upon him), that He is not at all attempting to be deceptive. I mean, really…do you really think that Allah would just mention that He possesses all of these previously mentioned features, for Himself, just to throw us off & confuse us, to have us at one another’s throats (figuratively & literally), while we still at the end of the day don’t have a clue whether these features are real or not?!!!

What type of god do you think you’re worshipping?!!! Allah never plays practical-jokes upon people, nor does He deceive people, nor does He insult anyone’s intelligence. He makes things crystal-clear, all of the time, even when we deem things unclear, and, that’s solely the result of the fact that Allah has chosen to not disclose understanding to some of us, regarding things which may seem unclear.

So, never assume that Allah uses the “boogie-man” approach, in regards to defining Himself, either in His Book, or in the Prophetic-Tradition of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). He doesn’t want any of His creation, whom have been honored with being recipients of guidance, to ever fall into doubt or disbelief, about Him, via confusion about what is established in both the Qur’an & Sunnah. However, because we may possess some deficiencies of our own, due to diseases within our own hearts, lack of intellectual foresight, and just plain ignorance of the knowledge of sacred-texts, we have a tendency to overcompensate for the fact that we don’t comprehend something about Allah, by attempting to define it by ourselves, which in turns leads us astray.

Gareth Bryant/2012


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Gareth Bryant...

Author’s note:
Please, keep in-mind that this post is not a personal-attack or a personal put-down, by any stretch of the imagination against Whitney Houston, nor should it be taken as such. I’m just expressing what my views are about her.Whitney Houston has been one of the most celebrated songstresses of the 20th century. She’s set standards of vocal excellence almost unparalleled by any other performer of her generation. She’s nearly peerless in her skill as a singer, or in her popularity. Yet, in spite of all her accomplishments, there’s the ugly truth of her battles with substance-abuse that had not only almost ruined her career as an entertainer, but could’ve very well been the cause of her demise, and to add insult-to injury, she wasn’t really that old-She was in fact only two years shy of becoming 50.And, I know that a lot of people wanna blame Bobby Brown…

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Gareth Bryant...

Give Gareth Bryant, Khalid Latif, Wajahat Ali, Aman Ali & Bassam Tariq Omar Shareef, Amir Sahib, Abdullah J Abdullah (Abdullah Jangda), and so many great writers the best `Id-al-Adha gift ever, your votes for us for the 9th annual Brass Crescent Awards…;-) The voting begins on Sunday, September 16th and ends this Sunday, October 21st, 2012
Here’s where you can vote:


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My thoughts on the Sikh Temple shooting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

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When people think about Wisconsin, they usually think about cheese, not murder, especially when these murders are xenophobically motivated. This Summer will be known for a lot of things, and unfortunately, murders will be at the top of the list, of our 2012. First, it was the gruesome murder of Trayvon Martin, then, the recent, well-known, Batman movie tragedy, and, now, it’s a copy-cat kind of massacre, that has swept across the American heartland, in Milwaukee, WI. And, personally, I feel & fear that this is going to continue for some time-These copy-cat murders are definitely on the way, and our Federal government needs to do something substantial, in order to properly protect its citizenry.

It’s just really sad how much people don’t value the Human worth of others, soley because they ascribe to a different religion, or come from a different place. I’ve often questioned myself, as to how violent our world is now, and am deathly afraid of raising children in this modern age. I don’t want my children to be victimized by violence, just because they’re Muslims, or just because they’re Afro-American, or just because-I want not my children to be subjected to live in fear of being killed or arrested, because they don’t fit the prototype of a white cast member of 90210 or Gossip Girl. They should be able to enjoy the right to live just like any other Human being. But, unfortunately, there are people, still, within the borders of our United States, a nation of migrants immigrants & more accurately, foreigners, who still have the nerve to view others as undesirable foreigners, who stand as a threat to the American way of life. These string of tragedies have proven one thing to me: We, the people of the United States are not united in any way at all. We all love to proclaim this esoteric, and utopian facade of freedom, justice & equality in America. But, where was the freedom to live & be left alone for people like Trayvon Martin, or the victims of the Batman movie massacre, in Aurora, CO, or the victims of the Sikh temple massacre, in Milwaukee,WI?

The major problem is that racial/religious-profiling has not been dealt with as seriously as it should be. There definitely has to be greater resources expended by local, state & Federal governments, to ensure that people living within the borders of the United States are safe. And, just making gun-laws more restrictive is not going to solve the problem, for several reasons: One, illegal guns have always been smuggled in the United States, for decades, and the United States, at different times in her history (like in the case of the Iran-Contra Affair), has actually benefited from gun-smuggling. Two, the right to bare arms is part of the U.S. & state constitutions, and for you to infringe on those rights, you would be infringing on certain freedoms that are part of the legal fabric of our nation.

However, still, there has to be ways in which people, whom are criminals (felons, etc.) never have access to arms. But, they do. As in the case of the murderer of Trayvon Martin: George Zimmerman had been charged with two separate felonies: “resisting officer with violence” & “battery of law enforcement officer”. Although when these two charges were dropped, someone should’ve red-flagged this guy, when he went to purchase some guns. And, unfortunately, he was not, and because of this lack of proper background checking, a young Trayvon Martin is now dead.

Likewise with the murderers of the Batman movie massacre & more recently, the Wisconsin massacre, Wade Michael Page & James Eagan Holmes, respectively-How did these guys get their guns?!!! The failure of gun-control is not the result of lack of laws regulating it, it’s a problem in which race, class, and regional residence play a significant part in who gets guns & who doesn’t. For example, if you’re a white man, living in Arizona, the likeliness of you getting harassed about buying & owing a gun is a hell of a lot less, as opposed to being Afro-American or Latino, living in a major city, like New York, Chicago, L.A., etc., regardless of the fact that those living in a major city may very well have clean records. But, because of their ethnicities, and where they live, they’re automatically red-flagged, when it comes to arms possession, which is not right, not, fair & not democratic, period.

My stance is that the main problem & solution to gun-violence, whether it’s in the slums of Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Miami, or LA., or in the posh, polished, suburbs of places like Beverly Hills, lies exclusively regular everyday people just like you & I. It is we, the people of this nation have the moral, ethical, and legal responsibility, to not just change things, but, to improve things & not just for ourselves, rather, for our communities & our country.

Gareth Bryant/2012

My thoughts on Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim-Brotherhood & a potentially new Egypt:

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The Muslim Brotherhood has recently acquired, via one of their own, the reigns of the Presidency of Egypt. Now, the office of President, in the hands of Mohamed Mursi,  has caused a lot of concern, as well as controversy, within Egypt herself, within the Mideast, among her regional neighbors, as well as on the international political stage, by virtue of the Muslim Brotherhood’s history of being religiously radical, extremist, etc., or, in many cases, falsely accused of being religiously radical, extremist, etc. But, let’s look at the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a proper perspective, to see how the Muslim Brotherhood emerged, evolved, and, why are they such a feared political force in the Muslim/Arab-World, as well as in the eyes of the broader international-community.

The Muslims Brotherhood was actually formed as a result of the want, within Egypt, among its people, to rise against British influence/rule, during the waning years of Egypt’s last monarchy, the Mamlukes. Initially, the Muslim Brotherhood served as a revolutionary movement, to rout the Mamlukes, as well as the British shadow-rulers & kick them out of Egypt, leaving & letting Egyptians to write their own story, on the walls of time-The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood was known as Hassan al-Banna.(The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood, Robert S. Leiken & Steven Brooke, Foreign Affairs Magazine)

The Muslim Brotherhood is now, what it has always been: a religious movement, centralized, but, not limited to Egypt or the Muslim/Arab-World, geared towards making Islam the law of the land. Now, in theory, this seems great. However, if/when not applied correctly, actually based upon the Qur’an & Sunnah (Prophetic-Tradition), this objective & fervor, for the establishment of the Shari`ah (Islamic-Law), can/will have very dangerous & disastrous results. And, historically, unfortunately, the Muslim Brotherhood has deviated from its roots, at different times, from simply being a religious-movement, to lowering itself to more like a religious-gang, even to the extent of the Muslim Brotherhood being directly responsible for the assassinations of many prominent figures in Egypt, like Prime Minister  Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha, as well as their own founder, Hassan al-Banna himself, in 1949.(BBC News: “Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood”, Passion for Islam: Shaping the Modern Middle East: the Egyptian Experience, Caryle Murphy)

After the expulsion of the Mamlukes & the British, in 1952, Egypt, was finally free to carve out her own political path. However, there were a lot of hurdles for the Muslim Brotherhood, mainly because of the fact that that they had directly supported a military-coup, lead by a secularist, with military strength, by the name of Gamal Abdel Nasser. He was very clear on making Egypt a secular state, which was in complete contradiction to the fundamental founding principles of the Muslim Brotherhood. The establishment of a secular Egypt really rubbed the Muslim Brotherhood the wrong way, to the extent that they, in 1954, began to openly oppose the newly formed constitution of Egypt, taking the stance that it was not in accordance to the Shari`ah.(BBC: “Power of Nightmares”)

Also, they openly opposed Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom, ironically, they had once willingly supported, against the Mamlukes & the British. The Muslim Brotherhood was actually blamed for an assassination-attempt, against Gamal Abdel Nasser, in 1954. And, this was definitely something that Nasser used, to his advantage, to marginalize his potential political competition-He immediately made moves, to hunt down, arrest, prosecute, torture, imprison, and, even execute members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, the most famous member of the Muslim Brotherhood, even overshadowing its founder, Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, was executed under the Nasser administration, in 1965. Qutb, a Muslim thinker, activist, and, anti-Nasser propagator, was famous, mainly, for issuing his work, Milestones.

At first, Qutb was imprisoned & tortured, after the assassination attempt on Nasser. Being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood made him an easy-target, among many other easy-targets. Then, after being released from prison, he committed himself to the writing of what would be his most famous work, Milestones, in 1964. Milestones laid the groundwork for what Qutb’s vision of how to recreate an Islamic-State should be approached, within the traditional & external Muslim-World, particularly, within the Arab-World. However, this work, in the text itself, is responsible for ideas that have given rise & justification, used by latter peoples, influenced by his works, to pronounce Takfir (Blasphemy) upon other Muslims, for not ruling their respective countries, according to the Shari`ah. Upon this, it seemed as though Qutb, within his work, Milestones was blatantly giving Muslims the green-light to assassinate their own leaders, because of the fact that they were governing over others, with secular/non-religious laws, thereby making it okay to declare them Non-Muslims & thus lawful to kill.(BBC: “Power of Nightmares”)

This placed Muslim leaders, within the Arab-World under immense fear, because if the common-people were to buy into this concept, that they were no longer Muslims, not only would they lose their power, but, they would also lose their lives. So, Nasser spared no expense to get rid of Qutb any way that he could, which he did. After the execution of Sayyid Qutb, in 1965, he became a Pan-Islamic/Pan-Arab icon, not only in Egypt, but all across the Muslim-World, as well as the Arab-World.  This act of the execution of Qutb, along with other prominent figures in the Muslim Brotherhood, at the time, charged up this movement to be even more radical against their government, in Egypt, and, their influence, which had been spreading to other parts of the Muslim-World, in other countries, had begun to expand rapidly.

Over the course of the next 4 decades, after the execution of Sayyid Qutb, the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood has shaped the revolutionary landscape & mindset of Muslims, in the Muslim-World, that has not reversed since. The Muslim Brotherhood has been credited, most notably, of inspiring the rise of various splinter movements & groups, such as Hamas, in Palestine & Syria, al-Qaeda, globally, Al Eslah Society, in Bahrain, Iraqi Islamic Party, Muslim Brotherhood Society, in Jordan & Palestine, National Islamic Front, in Sudan,  Movement for the Society of Peace, in Algeria, and Hadas, in Kuwait-As far as personalities go, the Muslim Brotherhood has also been credited in shaping the ideologies of people like Ayman al-Zawahri, the mentor of Osama bin-Laden.(BBC: “Power of Nightmares”,  Financial Times, Newsweek journalists Mark Hosenball & Michael Isikoff) Now, with all of this said, what should our conclusion be, and what do we learn from this, and, more specifically, what does this mean for a future Egypt?

My take on this is very simple:
The historical backdrop of the Muslim Brotherhood is very important to know, as to get a very clear sense of why some people may love them, as well as why some people may hate them, as well as knowing how they, as a group, as a movement have, for better or for worse, been a dominant factor in how politics in the Muslim/Arab-World has played out. Also, knowing the past gives us a better insight into how the future may develop. Egypt has a lot of problems, not saying not. However, maybe if given the chance, Mursi, along with his new administration, along with the support of Egyptians, themselves, may be able to pick up Egypt, by her bootstraps, and take her to a better place. I’m of the stance that Mohamed Mursi needs to be given a fair shot, to do the job right, before he is criticized, for causing instability & danger in the Mideast, by Egypt’s neighbors, or nations with particular interests, and/or alterior motives, to dominate the region.

Gareth Bryant/2012