Atheist one liners

December 19, 2010

Here are some famous one liners that atheists are fond of using against believers.  Whilst they might initially sound profound and challenging, deeper reflection reveals that they make little to no substantive points.

1. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

A famous phrase popularised by Carl Sagan.  The basic claims is that God is extraordinary, hence the beleiver shoulders the great burden of providing this evidence.

What is important to realise here is that the word ‘extraordinary’ is ambiguous.  The atheist has to clearly define the word, and then show how God is extraordinary according to his definition, and how this sense of extraordinary requires extraordinary evidence.  Whilst some senses of extraordinary do require a greater amount of evidence,  it is clear is that not all do.  Here are 2 different senses of extraordinary, one requiring extraordinary evidence, and the other not.

(i) Evidentially extraordinary, meaning that it directly contradicts evidence. For example, someone carries out a study that finds carrots to be bad for our eyesight. This is extraordinary in the sense that it contradicts many other scientific studies that say otherwise. In this sense, extraordinary evidence IS required, and this is because it needs to outweigh and falsify all the other evidence that’s opposing it.

(ii) Psychologically extraordinary, meaning that it just seems weird or strange to us, but on reflection this is not because there is any good argument contradicting it. This may be because we’ve never thought about it before, or because we’ve grown up in a society that demeans and ridicules this particular claim, and that has created a psychological barrier making it difficult for us to accept it. In this case extraordinary evidence is NOT required, because the claim does not contradict any evidence, and is only extraordinary for psychological reasons.

2. You can’t prove a negative

This famous one liner attempts to shift the burden of proof away from the atheist, and onto the believer in the following way.  The atheist can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, as you can’t prove a negative, so it’s irrational for the believer to require the atheist to do so.  Rather, it’s the believer that has to prove that God exists, and the atheist is perfectly within his right to deny God by default, unless and until this is done.

First, this one liner is so obviously false that it’s a wonder why it’s so famous.  Take the following claim : the moon is not made of cheese.  This is a negative, and whatsmore, it is easily proven.  So the claim that you can’t prove a negative is nonesense.

more to follow.

Imamah in the Qur’an p5: Ibrahim’s [a] prayer

September 18, 2010

In part 4 I showed that the medium Ummah was not the whole Muslims Ummah, but a select few that will bear witness on mankind on the Day of Judgement.  I quoted the following verses about this group of people and noted two  things – that this group was chosen, that it was named by Ibrahim [a] ‘Muslim’.  These are the two verses in question:

[22:77] O you who believe! bow down and prostrate yourselves and serve your Lord, and do good that you may succeed.[22:78] And strive hard in (the way of) Allah, (such) a striving a is due to Him; He has chosen you and has not laid upon you an hardship in religion; the faith of your father Ibrahim; He named you Muslims before and in this, that the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you, and you may be bearers of witness to the people; therefore keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and hold fast by Allah; He is your Guardian; how excellent the Guardian and how excellent the Helper!

To learn more about who these people were, we should turn our attention to the following verses from Surah Baqarah which mention Ibrahim’s prayer for this group of people in more detail:

[2:128] Our Lord! and make us both submissive to Thee and from our offspring a group submitting to Thee, and show us our ways of devotion and turn to us, surely Thou art the Oft-returning, the Merciful.

[2:129] Our Lord! and raise up in them a Messenger from among them who shall recite to them Thy communications and teach them the Book and the wisdom, and purify them; surely Thou art the Mighty, the Wise.

For the purposes of brevity I will keep it simple.  Ibrahim [a] has just finished building the Ka’aba; he has carried out a great deed, and is in the presence of one of the most Holy structures on Earth.  So, when he prays for submission (Islam), is he praying for the elementary grade of Islam that we all profess, or something special?  Clearly, he is praying for the highest degrees of submission, as he already possessed the elementary grade of submission anyway.  This is further proved by his words ‘submissive TO THEE’; he doesn’t just say ‘make us submissive’, but supplicates ‘make us submissive to thee’, emphasising that the submission asked for is not the ordinary one of everyday muslims (i.e. professing shahadatayn) but complete submission.

The important point is this: Ibrahim [a] then repeats this supplication for a group from his offspring.  The two verses at the top of this page show that his dua was answered – that these Muslims he prayed for exist.  The verses from surah Baqarah show that the submission of these Muslims was not elementary grade submission, but a lofty grade of submission, that Ibrahim [a] supplicated for himself and for Isma’eel [a].  It follows, then, that this group of Muslims – the medium nation according to the verses in part 4 – is a select group of people, and not the whole Muslim Ummah.

More can be said about these verses, but for the purposes of discussion the above suffices.  For a more detailed exposition I refer the reader to AlMizan.

Such is Jesus, son of Mary

April 15, 2009

In the Qur’an:

But she pointed to him. They said: How should we speak to one who was a child in the cradle? He said: Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet; And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and poor-rate so long as I live; And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed; And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life. Such is Isa, son of Mary… [19:29-43]

In the words of Imam Ali, the close friend and companion of Prophet Muhammad (sawa):

”If you desire I will tell you about `Isa (p.b.u.h.) son of Maryam (Mary). He used a stone for his pillow, put on coarse clothes and ate rough food. His condiment was hunger. His lamp at night was the moon. His shade during the winter was just the expanse of earth eastward and westward. His fruits and flowers were only what grows from the earth for the cattle. He had no wife to allure him, nor any son to give grief, nor wealth to deviate (his attention), nor greed to disgrace him. His two feet were his conveyance and his two hands his servant.” [Nahj Al-Balagha Sermon 160]

In the poetry of Rumi:

The son of Mary, Jesus, hurries up a slope
as though a wild animal were chasing him.
Someone following him asks, ‘Where are you going?
No one is after you.’ Jesus keeps on,
saying nothing, across two more fields. ‘Are you
the one who says words over a dead person,
so that he wakes up?’ I am. ‘Did you not make
the clay birds fly?’ Yes. ‘Who then
could possibly cause you to run like this?’
Jesus slows his pace.

I say the Great Name over the deaf and the blind,
they are healed. Over a stony mountainside,
and it tears its mantle down to the navel.
Over non-existence, it comes into existence.
But when I speak lovingly for hours, for days,
with those who take human warmth
and mock it, when I say the Name to them, nothing
happens. They remain rock, or turn to sand,
where no plants can grow. Other diseases are ways
for mercy to enter, but this non-responding
breeds violence and coldness toward God.
I am fleeing from that.

As little by little air steals water, so praise
Is dried up and evaporates with foolish people
who refuse to change. Like cold stone you sit on,
a cynic steals body heat. He doesn’t feel
the sun
. Jesus wasn’t running from actual people.
He was teaching in a new way.

Hadith Ghadeer p1 – Introduction

January 17, 2009

On the 18th of Dhil-Hijjah in the middle of the hot Arabian desert, whilst returning from his final Hajj, the Prophet was ordered to declare Imam Ali his successor to the Muslim masses.  After informing them of his coming death, and the importance of following the Qur’an and Ahlul Bayt, he raised Imam Ali’s hand and said:

من كنت مولاه فهذا علي مولاه

”Whoever’s master (mawla) I am, Ali is also his master”.

This took place in an area known as Ghadir Khumm, half way between Mecca and Medinah and near present day al-Juhfa.

The occurrence of this event is universally accepted by all Muslims, but there has been much controversy over its significance.  Whilst Shia Muslims take it to be  a decisive proof of Imam Ali’s successorship, Sunnis interpret it to mean Imam Ali’s friendship with the believers – ”Whoever I am his friend, Ali is his friend”.

In a series of short posts I will demonstrate the baselessness of the Sunni interpretation, which is nothing more than a futile attempt at rejecting the Prophet’s [s] decisive declaration.  I will prove that the Shia interpretation is the correct one by using 2 lines of evidence:

1. The context of the Hadith

2. The understanding of the Sahaba

I will then address common objections, and will show that many of the points brought up by Sunnis actually count against them, and further prove the correctness of the Shia interpretation.

Hadith Thaqalayn

December 5, 2008

The authenticity of Hadith Thaqalayn is universally accepted, but Sunnis try and explain it away by saying that the Prophet [sawa] was commanding the Muslims to love the Ahlul Bayt, or to accept their narrations only.  The following ahadith have been authenticated by some of the biggest scholars in Sunnism, and leave no room for this interpretation.  They prove that the Prophet made them the premier source of guidance for the Muslims

ورواه الحاكم فى المستدرك 3\148 قال:حدثنا ابو بكر محمد بن الحسين بن مصلح الفقيه بالرى حدثنا محمد بن ايوب حدثنا يحيى بن مغيرة السعدى حدثنا جرير بن عبد الحميد عن الحسن بن عبيد الله النخعى عن مسلم بن صبيح -ابو الضحى- عن زيد بن ارقم قال قالرسول الله صلى الله عليه واله وسلم (انى تارك فيكم الثقلين:كتاب الله واهل بيتى وانهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا على الحوض) انتهى قال الحاكم:هذا حديث صحيح على شرط الشيخين ولم يخرجاه انتهى واقر الذهبى على تعنته بصحة الحديث فى تلخيصه للمستدرك وحتى المحدث السلفى اليمنى مقبل الوادعى لم يسعه فى تعليقه على المستدرك الا الاقرار بصحة هذا الحديث على شرط مسلم

The Prophet [sawa] said: I am leaving two weighty things, the book of Allah and my Ahlul Bayt, and they will never seperate until they reach me at the fountain.
AlHakim and Dhahabi authenticated the above. Mustadrak 3/148

ورواه الحافظ يعقوب بن سفيان الفسوى فى المعرفة والتاريخ 1\295 قال حدثنا يحيى -الحمانى- قال حدثنا جرير عن الحسن بن عبيد الله عن ابى الضحى عن زيد بن ارقم قال قال النبى صلى الله عليه واله وسلم(انى تارك فيكم ما ان تمسكتم به لن تضلوا كتاب الله عزوجل وعترتى اهل بيتى وانهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا على الحوض)انتهى واسناده ايضا صحيح و وصححه شعيب ارنؤوط فى تعليقه على عواصم ابن الوزي

The Prophet [sawa] said: I am leaving that which if you hold onto you will never go astray: the book of Allah and my Ahlul Bayt, and they will never seperate until they reach me at the fountain.

Shu’ayb Arnaut authenticated the above.

ورواه الامام الطحاوى فى مشكل الاثار 2\307 :حدثنا ابراهيم بن مرزوق حدثنا ابوعامر العقدى حدثنا كثير بن زيد عن محمد بن عمر بن على بن ابى طالب عم ابيه عن على :ان النبى صلى الله عليه واله وسلم حضر الشجرة بخم فخرج اخذا بيد على فقال*)ايها الناس الستم تشهدون ان الله ربكم ؟-قالوا بلى -قال :الستم تشهدون ان الله ورسوله اولى بكم من انفسكم وان الله ورسوله مولاكم ؟-قالوا بلى- قال:من كنت مولاه فعلى مولاه انى قد تركت فيكم ما ان اخذتم لن تضلوا بعدى كتاب الله واهل بيتى انتهى وقد صحح اسناده الحافظ ابن حجر العسقلانى فى المطالب العالية 4\65

At Ghadeer Khum the Prophet [sawa] said:‘O people do you not bear witness that Allah is your Lord?” They said yes. ”Do you not bear witness that Allah and his Prophet have greater authority over you than your own selves?” They said yes. He said ‘Whomever I am his mawla, Ali is his Mawla. I have left that which if you take you will never go astray after me, the book of Allah and my Ahlul Bayt”.
Ibn Hajar authenticated the above.

AlNisai has narrated in his Sunan…from Zayb ibn Arqam that when the Prophet returned from Hijatul Wada and stopped at Ghadeer Khum he said: It is as if I have been called (to death) and have answered that call. I leave you to weighty things the Book of Allah and my Ahlul Bayt, so be careful how you treat them both after me, and they will never separate until they reach the fountain. Then he said: Allah is my Mawla, and I am the Wali of every believer. Then he took the hand of Ali and said: ”Whoever I am his mawla, Ali is his Wali. O Allah befriend his friends and be an enemy to his enemies”.

Ibn kathir said: Our sheikh Dhahabi said this hadith is sahih. Bidayah vol 5.

The Prophet’s [sawa] will the to Ummah was two things – The Holy Qur’an and the Ahlul Bayt [a].  This is what the Prophet left for his Ummah – ”I leave you AThaqalayn”, and he named them ‘the Two Weighty Things’, putting them side by side and telling all Muslims to adhere to them.  He told us that they would always be together from that day until the Day of Judgement, implying the infallibility of the Purified Household as every sin is a separation from the Qur’an, and the Ahlul Bayt will never seperate from it.

How can any reasonable person say that the hadith simply means we should love them?  Or simply accept their narrations?  If it was only about accepting the narrations, what about the Sahaba?  Why haven’t they been mentioned in this hadith which is the Prophet’s will to the Ummah? Don’t sunnis take the majority of their Deen from the narrations of the Sahaba?   The reason they haven’t been mentioned is that they’re not the primary source of Islam after the Prophet.  They will seperate from the Qur’an, commit major sins, spill the blood of thousands and thousands, many of the victims being Sahaba themselves!

And if what some sunni  scholars insist is correct, then this is further proof of their infallibility and that they are the principal source of guidance for the Ummah, along with the Qur’an.

Was Ibrahim’s [a] biological father an idol worshipper?

November 22, 2008

A common view amongst sunnis is that Ibrahim’s father was indeed an idol worshipper.  You can refer to their books of exegesis to see what they have said about this, e.g. Tabari, Ibn Kathir and Qurtubi for verse 14:41 amongst others.  Those who hold this belief present the following verse as proof:

[9:114] And Ibrahim asking forgiveness for his Ab (father) was only owing to a promise which he had made to him; but when it became clear to him that he was an enemy of Allah, he declared himself to be clear of him; most surely Ibrahim was very tender-hearted forbearing.

On the other hand, Shias completely reject this, and believe that the line of Prophethood was pure and free from polytheism.  So then how do we explain the above verse?  Ayatollah Jawadi Amoli has answered this question is his tafsir:

هل كان والد النبي إبراهيم (عليه السلام) موحداً؟

إن عنوان «الأب» كما يطلق على الأب فإنه يطلق على غيره كالعمّ أيضاً، و هذا هو منشأ الترديد في قضية النبي إبراهيم من أن أبوه هل كان آزر عابد الوثن أم لا. فالذي يظهر من الآية
«و إذ قال إبراهيم لأبيه آزر أتتخذ أصناماً آلهة»(1)، و الآيات 42 من سورة مريم، و 52 من سورة الأنبياء، و 70 من سورة الشعراء، و 85 من سورة الصافات، و 26 من سورة الزخرف، و 114 من سورة التوبة و غيرها، أن أبا النبي إبراهيم لم يكن موحداً؛ أما أن هذا الأب هل هو نفس الوالد أم غيره، وهل أن والد النبي إبراهيم هل كان موحداً أم لا، فلا يمكن استظهار أي واحد من هذين المطلبين من الآيات المشتملة على عنوان «الأب»؛ و لكن يمكن استنباط كلا المطلبين من آية أخرى متضمنة لكلمة الوالد لا كلمة «الأب»؛ فيمكن معرفة أن آزر عابد الوثن لم يكن والد النبي إبراهيم، و أن الشخص الآخر الذي هو والد النبي إبراهيم و الذي لم يذكر اسمه في القرآن، كان موحداً، لا مشركاً؛ فقد قال الله:
أ- «و ما كان للنبي و الذين آمنوا أن يستغفروا للمشركين و لو كانوا أولي قربى»(2).
ب- «و ما كان استغفار إبراهيم لأبيه إلا عن موعدة وعدها إياه فلما تبيّن له أنه عدو لله تبرأ منه»(3)، أي لم يستغفر له بعد ذلك.
ج- قال النبي إبراهيم (عليه السلام) في دعاء له في عهد الكبر و في أواخر حياته: «ربنا اغفر لي و لوالديّ و للمؤمنين يوم يقوم الحساب»(4).
من هنا يمكن استنباط المطلبين المشار إليهما: أحدهما هو أن آزر عابد الوثن لم يكن والد النبي إبراهيم؛ لأنه تبرأ من آزر بعد أن تبين له شركه و عداؤه مع الله، و لم يستغفر له بعد ذاك، و المطلب الآخر أنه استغفر لوالديه في عهد الكبر، فيظهر أنهما كانا يستحقان الاستغفار؛ أي كانا كسائر المؤمنين من أهل الإيمان لا من أهل الشرك.

1- سورة الأنعام، الآية 74.
2- سورة التوبة، الآية 113.
3- سورة التوبة، الآية 114.
4- سورة إبراهيم، الآية 41.
تسنيم (التسنيم)، ج 1، ص 117.

Question: Was the father of Prophet Abraham [as] a monotheist?

The word ‘Ab’ can refer to the biological father as well as to the uncle or others*. In the case of Prophet Abraham the question is whether Azar the idol worshipper was his biological father or not? What is apparent from the verse [6:74] ‘And when Abraham said to his Ab (father) do you take idols for gods?’ and verses 19:42, 21:52, 26:70, 37:85, 43:26, 9:114 and others is that the ‘Ab’ of Abraham [as] was not a monotheist. However it is unclear from these verses whether the ‘Ab’ was his actual biological father or someone else, and whether the biological father of Abraham was a monotheist or not. We are unable to come to any one of these conclusions from these verses that use the word ‘Ab’, but we are able to use another verse that uses the word ‘walid’ (biological father) instead of ‘Ab’ {which is a more general term} to give us the answers. From this verse (that uses walid) we come to know that Azar the idol worshipper was not the biological father of Prophet Abraham [as] but someone else who was a monotheist but whose name hasn’t been mentioned in the Qur’an. Allah swt has said:

(i) [9:113] It is not (fit) for the Prophet and those who believe that they should ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even though they should be near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are inmates of the flaming fire.
(ii) [9:114] And Ibrahim asking forgiveness for his Ab was only owing to a promise which he had made to him; but when it became clear to him that he was an enemy of Allah, he declared himself to be clear of him; most surely Ibrahim was very tender-hearted forbearing.
(iii) Prophet Abraham [as] supplicated to Allah in his old age saying [14:41] Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and believers on the day when the account is cast.

From these verses we can conclude two things. Firstly, Azar the idol worshipper was not the biological father of Prophet Abraham [as] as he ‘declared himself to be clear of him’ once it became evident that he was a polytheist and enemy of Allah swt, and he never asked forgiveness for him after that. Secondly, he sought forgiveness for his parents (walidaya) when he was an old man**, showing that they were worthy of forgiveness, i.e. they were believers and not polytheists.


*As proof for this read verse 2:133 in which Nabi Isma’eel [a] who was Ya’qoob’s [a] paternal uncle is referred to as his Ab.

**We know that the prayer for forgiveness of his parents in 14:41 was said in Nabi Ibrahim’s [a] old age because he prays for his sons as well, and he had these sons when he was an old man. This is the whole passage:

[14:39] Praise be to Allah, Who has given me in old age Ismail and Ishaq; most surely my Lord is the Hearer of prayer:

[14:40] My Lord! make me keep up prayer and from my offspring, O our Lord, and accept my prayer
[14:41] Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and believers on the day when the account is cast

Raj’ah – The Return before the Day of Judgement

September 28, 2008

Al-Raj’ah literally means ‘the return’, and refers to the Shia doctrine that certain people will return back to life before the Day of Judgement. Narrations from Ahlul Bayt [as] have identified these people as the best of humanity and the worst of humanity.

الإمام الصادق عليه السلام قال: وإن الرجعة ليست بعامة وهي خاصة ، لايرجع إلا من محض الايمان محضاً ، أو محض الشرك محضاً . البحار:53/ 36

Imam ASadiq [as]: The Raj’ah isn’t general, rather it is specific. Only those that were absolute believers will return, or those that were absolute Mushriks (polythiests). Bihar AlAnwar 53/36

The exceptionally evil will be brought back to life and will recieve their just punishments in this life before the hereafter. Some narrations have mentioned that martyred Imams of Ahlul Bayt [as] will be brought back to rule after the death of Imam Mehdi [aj]. These details have all been mentioned in the hadith, but the purpose of this article is to prove the concept of Raj’ah from the Qur’an, so has the Qur’an mentioned that certain people will be resurrected before Qiyamah? In Surah Naml we read:

وَيَوْمَ نَحْشُرُ مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ فَوْجًا مِّمَّن يُكَذِّبُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ {83

[27:83] And on the day when We will gather from every nation a group from among those who rejected Our communications, then they shall be kept in ranks.

Imam Sadiq [as] asked one of his companions what the people say regarding the above quoted verse. His companion replied: They say it’s about the Day of Judgement. The Imam replied: Would Allah gather [yahshur] (only) a group of every people and leave the rest?! Rather the verse is referring to Raj’ah, and the verse of Qiyamah is this : and We will gather them and leave not any one of them behind [18:47]. Bihar AlAnwar 53/40

عن الإمام الصادق عليه السلام أنه سئل عن قوله تعالى: وَيَوْمَ نَحْشُرُ مِنْ كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ فَوْجاً مِمَّنْ يُكَذِّبُ بِآياتِنَا فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ ؟ فقال: ما يقول الناس فيها ؟ قلت يقولون إنها في القيامة . فقال: يحشر الله في القيامة من كل أمة فوجاً ويترك الباقين ؟! إنما ذلك في الرجعة ، فأماآية القيامة فهذه:وَحَشَرْنَاهُمْ فَلَمْ نُغَادِرْ مِنْهُمْ أَحَداً.. الى قوله: موعداً. البحار:53/40

The Imam’s argument is clear. The verse is saying that the hashr (gathering after resurrection) will be limited to a group of people and will not be for everyone, whilst in Qiyamah everyone will be resurrected and gathered, not just a group from amongst the people. As 18:47 says: ‘Hasharnahum fa lam nughadir minhum Ahada’ . This proves that the verse is not referring to the resurrection of the Day of Judgement, but is referring to an event that will occur before it.

Allamah Tabataba’i [r] in his tafsir of this verse offers another proof. He says that if we read the verses that follow 27:83, we will see that they go on to talk about the blowing of the trumpet and other events that will be in Qiyamah.

[27:87] And on the day when the trumpet shall be blown, then those who are in the heavens and those who are in the earth shall be terrified except such as Allah please, and all shall come to him abased.
[27:88] And you see the mountains, you think them to be solid, and they shall pass away as the passing away of the cloud– the handiwork of Allah Who has made every thing thoroughly; surely He is Aware of what you do.

The famous Sunni exegete Ibn Kathir says the following about the blowing of the Trumpet:

The Sur (trumpet), as described in the Hadith, is, «قَرْنٌ يُنْفَخُ فِيه» (a horn which is blown into.) According to the Hadith about the Sur (Trumpet), it is (the angel) Israfil who will blow into it by the command of Allah, may He be exalted. He will blow into it for the first time, for a long time. This will signal the end of the life of this world. (see Tafsir ibn Kathir, verse 27:87)

So if the blowing of the trumpet will cause the end of all life, this means that whatever occurs before the blowing will be in this life, not the hereafter. The context therefore shows that the resurrection of certain groups of people will occur during this life and not the hereafter, as it will be before the blowing of the Trumpet according to the sequence of events that are described by the verses. This leaves no doubt that the verse is referring to Raj’ah before the Day of Judgement.

The doctrine of Raj’ah is clearly in the Qur’an, but like every other belief, we must refer to the hadith for the specific details. It is only the hadith of Ahlul Bayt [as] that have been narrated in the books of Shia Muslims that have mentioned these details. Everyone else has overlooked them, and denied this reality in its entirety. We thank Allah swt for blessing us with the Wilayah of Ahlul Bayt [as]. May we live long enough to see their return.