9) Proof required for Aqeeda (Belief)
(please note that this is a chapter from the book “Ghuluw” which can be downloaded from the “PDF Download Files” section.)
(For a better understanding, start from the first blog (Definition and condemnation….))
One might ask, what are the criteria for what should be accepted as “arguments” and “proofs”? Since every religion has a logic and proof, and every Islamic sect has its proofs from the Quran and Hadith, how can we decide what is acceptable and what is not?
These are some very important questions, and we will inshallah try to explain in brief the criteria for acceptance of proofs.
What is NOT acceptable as a proof:
We would first like to explain, what is not acceptable as a valid proof, so that the critical ones of the readers use this as a weapon against those who try to fool (religious) people with bogus proofs.
The proofs based on “Dhann” ( ظن ) should not be accepted at any cost. Now we shall define “Dhann” and explain why we are saying that proofs based on “Dhann” should not be accepted.
Dhann literally means “guesswork”, “conjecture”, “assumption” etc, basically whatever is not certain and defenitive is “Dhann”.
Logically this is the most appropriate approach, since if “Dhann” was allowed as a proof, then anyone can make up any absured belief and give proofs based on “Dhann”, for example, claiming that Jesus is the son of God because he did not have a father, or claiming that Jesus is God because he gave life to the dead etc.
In contrast to that, it would be logical to base our beliefs on things which are “defenitive” (qat’y, قطعي ), soon we shall explain what that is.
Even though just based on logic we can easily conclude that we should not accept proofs based on “Dhann” in religion, but since we are discussing religion here, texual proof is very important, therefore we will mention the verses of the Quran that gave us this approach.
The Quran has again and again given us examples of previous nations who deviated from the right path, and the reason for their deviation was that they followed “Dhann”. Here we quote some verse of the Quran which mention “Dhann”.
Verse 1: Surah Baqara, 2:78
Allah (swt) while commenting on the Jews and Christians, who deviated from the real religion sent by Allah (swt), says:
وَمِنْهُمْ أُمِّيُّونَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا أَمَانِيَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ
And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture (Yadhunnoon/ from Dhann).
Allah (swt) gives two characteristics of these deviated people:
- They do not know the book (sent by Allah (swt) to them).
- They follow “Dhann” (conjecture, guesswork etc).
Verse 2: Surah An’aam, 6:116
وَإِنْ تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ
And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will lead you astray from Allah’s way; they follow but conjecture and they only lie.
In this verse Allah (swt) highlights two important points:
- We should not follow anyone blindly, since if we obey most of those on earth they will lead us astray.
- Most people are astray because, they follow “Dhann”.
Verse 3: Surah An’aam 139-148
Some mushrikeen had fabricated certain laws regarding consuming the meat of cattle. Though this sounds like a harmless thing, but when we read the Quran we find out that making up religious rules which Allah (swt) has not issued is a big thing in the eyes of Allah (swt).
وَقَالُوا مَا فِي بُطُونِ هَٰذِهِ الْأَنْعَامِ خَالِصَةٌ لِذُكُورِنَا وَمُحَرَّمٌ عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِنَا ۖ وَإِنْ يَكُنْ مَيْتَةً فَهُمْ فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ ۚ سَيَجْزِيهِمْ وَصْفَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ حَكِيمٌ عَلِيمٌ
They say: “What is in the wombs of such and such cattle is specially reserved (for food) for our men, and forbidden to our women; but if it is still-born, then all have share therein. For their (false) attribution (of superstitions to Allah), He will soon punish them: for He is full of wisdom and knowledge. (6:139)
After a few ayaat, Allah (swt) again comes back to this, and says:
ثَمَانِيَةَ أَزْوَاجٍ ۖ مِنَ الضَّأْنِ اثْنَيْنِ وَمِنَ الْمَعْزِ اثْنَيْنِ ۗ قُلْ آلذَّكَرَيْنِ حَرَّمَ أَمِ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ أَمَّا اشْتَمَلَتْ عَلَيْهِ أَرْحَامُ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ ۖ نَبِّئُونِي بِعِلْمٍ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
Eight in pairs – two of sheep and two of goats. Say: Has He forbidden the two males or the two females or that which the wombs of the two females contain? Inform me with knowledge if you are truthful. (6:143)
وَمِنَ الْإِبِلِ اثْنَيْنِ وَمِنَ الْبَقَرِ اثْنَيْنِ ۗ قُلْ آلذَّكَرَيْنِ حَرَّمَ أَمِ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ أَمَّا اشْتَمَلَتْ عَلَيْهِ أَرْحَامُ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ ۖ أَمْ كُنْتُمْ شُهَدَاءَ إِذْ وَصَّاكُمُ اللَّهُ بِهَٰذَا ۚ فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا لِيُضِلَّ النَّاسَ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
And two of camels and two of cows. Say: Has He forbidden the two males or the two females or that which the wombs of the two females contain? Or were you witnesses when Allah enjoined you this? Who, then, is more unjust than he who forges a lie against Allah that he should lead astray men without knowledge? Surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. (6:144)
سَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا لَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مَا أَشْرَكْنَا وَلَا آبَاؤُنَا وَلَا حَرَّمْنَا مِنْ شَيْءٍ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كَذَّبَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ ذَاقُوا بَأْسَنَا ۗ قُلْ هَلْ عِنْدَكُمْ مِنْ عِلْمٍ فَتُخْرِجُوهُ لَنَا ۖ إِنْ تَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلَّا تَخْرُصُونَ
Those who give partners (to Allah) will say: “If Allah had wished, we should not have given partners to Him nor would our fathers; nor should we have forbidden (to ourselves) anything.” So did their ancestors argue falsely, until they tasted of Our wrath. Say: “Have ye any (certain) knowledge? If so, produce it before us. Ye follow nothing but conjecture: ye do nothing but lie.” (6:148)
Important points to be noted:
- From 6:139 we deduce that, fabricating something and attributing it to Allah (swt), be it a belief or a law, is something punishable as per the Quran. This kind of Fabrication is called “iftirah ‘ala Allah” (fabricating a lie upon Allah (swt)).
- From 6:143, 6:144, we deduce that if we claim something about Allah (swt) we should have proof for it based on “certain knowledge” or “we ourselves should have seen Allah (swt) doing what we claim about him” otherwise it is considered “iftirah on Allah”. There is one more proof acceptable in the court of Allah (swt) which has been mentioned elsewhere in the Quran, and that is “having proof from a scripture sent by Allah (swt) (mentioned in 37:157, 46:4-5). What is “certain knowledge” will be discussed soon.
- In 6:148 again, Allah (swt) says that these people only follow “Dhann”.
Verse 5: Surah Yunus, 10:36
وَمَا يَتَّبِعُ أَكْثَرُهُمْ إِلَّا ظَنًّا ۚ إِنَّ الظَّنَّ لَا يُغْنِي مِنَ الْحَقِّ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَفْعَلُونَ
Most of them follow not but conjecture (Dhann). Assuredly conjecture (Dhann) can by no means take the place of truth. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do.
In this verse Allah (swt) informs us that “Dhann” and “Truth” are two different things, and “Dhann” can never take the place of truth.
Verse 6: Surah Yunus 10:66
أَلَا إِنَّ لِلَّهِ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَمَا يَتَّبِعُ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ شُرَكَاءَ ۚ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ
Behold! verily to Allah belong all creatures in the heavens and on earth. What do they follow who worship as His “partners” other than Allah? They follow nothing but conjecture (Dhann) and they do nothing but lie.
Verse 7: Surah Jathiya, 45:24
وَقَالُوا مَا هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَا إِلَّا الدَّهْرُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُمْ بِذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ ۖ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ
And they say: “What is there but our life in this world? We shall die and we live and nothing but Time can destroy us.” But of that they have no knowledge: they merely conjecture (Dhann).
Verse 8: Surah Najm, 53:23
إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ ۚ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَمَا تَهْوَى الْأَنْفُسُ ۖ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَهُمْ مِنْ رَبِّهِمُ الْهُدَىٰ
These (Lat, Uzza and Manat) are nothing but names which you and your forefathers have invented, for Allah has vested no authority in them. The unbelievers follow nothing but mere conjecture (Dhann) and the whims of their own souls, even though right guidance has already come to them from their Rabb.
From the verse above it is clear that “Dhann” is something that has been severely condemned in the Quran, and one of the characteristics of deviated people is that they follow “Dhann”. If we claim anything about Allah (swt) based on “Dhann” then that falls in the category of “iftirah”, i.e lying upon Allah (swt), and numerous times in the Quran Allah (swt) says “who is more unjust than the one who fabricates a lie against Allah (swt)” (6:93, 6:144, 7:37, 10:17, 11:18, 29:68).
Therefore it is proven that we cannot base our arguments on Dhann. But what is Dhann and what is certainity, we shall explore that more in the next section.
What is acceptable as a proof:
Now that we have proven in the previous section that arguments and proofs should not be based on “Dhann” rather on “certain knowledge”, let’s briefly explain what we mean by certain knowledge.
Within the religious texts, if a text has two qualities then it is considered as “Qat’y (قطعي) definitive, following are the two qualities:
- Qat’y us Sudoor (قطعي الصدور): This means that we should have definite knowledge that the particular text has come from Allah (swt) or from the Prophet (saww) or his Ahlulbayt (as).
So when a verse of the Quran is used, then that is qat’y us sudoor, since we know that the Quran we have is the same book which was revealed to Rasulallah (saww), how do we know that is another discussion.
The problem comes when “hadith” is quoted as a proof, because as we have seen in the beginning of this book, the hadith literature has been immensely fabricated, a lot of narrations have been attributed to the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as) which they never said. Just to have an idea, Ayatullah Behboodi, a grand scholar of hadith analyzed all the narrations in Al Kafi, and his conclusion (in his book Sahih al Kafi) was that about 75% narrations in Al Kafi are Daeef (weak/unacceptable).
Another grand scholar, Ayatullah Asif Mohsini analyzed all the narrations of Bihar al Anwar which is in 110 volume, when he compiled only the authentic narrations it took just 2 volumes.
So how can we be sure that a narration is “qat’y us sudoor”?, according to scholars of hadith (refer to Mu’jam Rijal al Hadith of Ayatullah Khoei), even a hadith with an authentic (sahih) chain of narrators is not “qat’y us sudoor” rather is is “Dhann”, what that means is, even if we have a chain of reliable narrators for a hadith connecting to the Imams (as), still we cannot be sure that the Imams (as) really said that. Some of the reason for this maybe:
- Many fabricators of hadith were so clever that they would fabricate hadith and stick it with an authentic chain of narrators in their books, so it is impossible to catch such narrations. One such fabricator was Abu al Mufaddal, whose register was found by Ibn al Ghadairi (grand scholar of rijal), and he found that in the register on one side there were only authentic chains of narrators without any hadith and on the other side were fabricated narrations without chain of narrators, you can guess what this person was doing.
- Even if the chain of narrators is authentic, yet a lot of times the narrators would mix up narrations, or forget the correct narration, or rephrase the narrations in their own words, etc, so we cannot be sure that what the narrator has narrated is exactly what the Imam (as) said.
So the solution for this is that, only narrations which are “Mutawatir” are considered “Qat’y us sudoor”. Mutawatir means, a narration that has been narrated with so many Sahih chains of narrators that there is no doubt that it has originated from the Prophet (saw) or Imam (as).
- Qat’y ud Dalala (قطعي الدلالة): Qat’y ud Dalala means that the text should be unequivocal, i.e it should not have numerous possible and legal interpretations, rather it should have one clear meaning. Also, there should be a connection between the text and what is being proved, so for example an argument like, “Imam Ali (as) can give life to the dead because Quran says Jesus gave life to the dead”, is not Qat’y us Dalala, many people actually fall for such arguments, even though there is no connection between the two, just because Jesus did something does not necessitate that Imam Ali (as) would do that too.
- Proofs based on Dhann are not acceptable; rather the proof should be qat’y.
- Proof should be Qat’y us sudoor and Qat’y ud dalala.
- Qat’y proofs are only clear verses of Quran and Mutawatir Narrations.
There is an Ijma (consensus) of both Shia and Sunni scholars about this condition for acceptance of proof atleast in theory, since they don’t always apply it in practice, and if they did, we wouldn’t have so many differences among the different sects, these differences exists because every sect has taken its own “dhann” (doubtful things) as “certainities” and turned them into “beliefs” (Aqaid).
So If someone asks you to accept something as a “belief”, please ask them to give you
1) Clear, unambiguous verse of Quran
2) Mutawatir narrations.
Note1: Please note, that a lot of “fake tawatur” is claimed, so whenever a person claims that there are “Mutawatir” narrations on a subject, ask them to provide all those narrations with their chains of narrators.
Note2: Many scholars have taken an easy way out by declaring that if we have numerous narrations on a subject, then we don’t need the chain of narrators to be authentic. Based on this, they bring all kinds of fabricated and fake narrations to justify their deviant beliefs. This principle is illogical, because we know of many subjects on which numerous unauthentic narrations are present, yet they are not accepted by the scholars. Even generally, it is quite possible (and this is what happened) that many people fabricate narrations on a subject.