Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Big Bang, Deflated? Universe May Have Had No Beginning At All

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Umer Abrar
February 28, 2015

(Did the Qur-aan not relate ,“Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, then We separated them?" [21:30]).

A new theory claims that the universe may not have started with a bang. According to this new study, the universe was not ever a singularity or an infinitely minor and infinitely dense point of matter at all. In actual fact, the universe may have no start at all. Study co-author Saurya Das, a theoretical physicist at the University of Lethbridge, Canada, said "Our theory suggests that the age of the universe could be infinite," This new notion could also clarify what dark matter is actually made of, Das added. According to the Big Bang theory, the universe was born nearly 13.8 billion years ago. All the matter that occurs today was once squeezed into an infinitely dense, infinitely small, ultra-hot dot called a singularity. This little fireball then blasted and growth to the early universe started. This singularity comes from the math of Einstein's theory of general relativity, which defines how mass warps space-time, and from an additional equation (called Raychaudhuri's equation) that foretells whether the route of something will merge or diverge with time. Going backward in time, as claimed by these equations, all matter in the cosmos was once in a tiny single point — which is also known as the Big Bang singularity.

But that's not quite accurate. In Einstein's formulation, the laws of physics essentially break before the singularity is touched. But researchers generalize backward as if the physics equations still hold, states Robert Brandenberger, a theoretical cosmologist at McGill University, who was not the part of this study.

Brandenberger also told Live Science "So when we say that the universe begins with a big bang, we really have no right to say that," There are other difficulties developing in physics — specifically, that the two most leading theories, quantum mechanics and general relativity, can't be merged to come up with single concept. Quantum mechanics states that the actions of tiny subatomic particles are basically uncertain. This against the Einstein's general relativity, which is deterministic, implying that once all the regular laws are identified, the future is entirely preset by the past, Das said. And neither theory clarifies what dark matter, an unseen form of matter that applies a gravitational pull on regular matter but cannot be identified by most telescopes, is actually made of.

Quantum modification

Das and his coworkers wanted a way to solve at least some of these problems. To do so, they considered an older method of picturing quantum mechanics, called Bohmian mechanics. In Bohmian mechanics, an unseen variable rules the strange actions of subatomic particles. Unlike other formulations of quantum mechanics, it offers a way to compute the path of a particle. By utilizing this old-fashioned method of quantum theory, the scientists calculated a small rectification term that may well be comprised in Einstein's theory of general relativity. Then, they figured out what would occur in deep time. So what’s the outcome? In this new formulation, there is no singularity at all, and the universe as we know it is infinitely old.

How to test this theory?

Das said that one way of understanding the quantum correction term in their equation is that it is connected to the density of dark matter, if so, the cosmos could be packed with a superfluid made of theoretical particles, for instance the gravity-carrying particles known as gravitons, or ultra-cold, ghostly particles known as axions. Das also said that One method to test the theory is to look at how dark matter is dispersed in the cosmos and comprehend if it matches the properties of the suggested superfluid

Nevertheless, the new equations are just one way to settle quantum mechanics and general relativity. For example, a portion of string theory acknowledged as string gas cosmology forecasts that the universe once had a long-lasting static period, while other theories forecast there was once a cosmic "recoil," where the universe first contracted till it touched a very small size, then initiated expanding, Brandenberg said.

This new theory was described in a paper published on Feb. 4 in the journal Physical Letters B, and in an additional paper that is presently under peer review, which was issued in the preprint journal arXiv.
This post was written by Umer Abrar. To contact the author of this post, write to

Monday, February 23, 2015

Islamic Theologies of Ahl as-Sunnah: Theological Indoctrination or Education?

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February 6, 2015

Written by Moutasem Atiya
Ahl al-Sunna consists of three groups – the textualists (Atharīs), whose imām is Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal; the Ashʿarīs, whose imām is Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī; and the Māturīdīs, whoseimām is Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī.”[1]
The statement above, made by the Ḥanbalī scholar al-Safārīnī (1114-1188/1702-1774) in his work Lawāmiʿ al-Anwār al-Bahiyya, should not come as a shock to anyone. There has always existed a strand of inclusivity within Islamic theology which has unfortunately been sidelined by the shrill voices of one-party enthusiasts. These voices of inclusion saw all three theological orientations as being acceptable responses to doctrinal questions based on independent reasoning (ijtihād), just as they recognized the validity of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence. The Atharī, Ashʿarī and Māturīdī schools all rose in response to Muʿtazilīs and their critiques of what would eventually become orthodox doctrine.
In the mid-ninth century, the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Maʾmūn made official the Muʿtazilī doctrine. He instituted an inquisition (miḥna) which subjected all scholars of his time to questioning regarding theological doctrine. Those who opposed Muʿtazilī beliefs were severely tortured or killed. In response to Muʿtazilī influence three stances were taken, all developed over a 250 year span.
Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (161-241/780-855) adopted a literalist position in response to the Muʿtazilī inquisition. He asserted that only God and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had the authority to speak on matters of creed and – in all but three instances – avoided delving into speculative theology in defense of orthodoxy. This literalist approach to textual understandings came to be known as the Atharī creed.
Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī (260-324/873-935) and Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī (238-333/853-944) were the fathers of the other two schools of Sunnī theology. They differed with the Atharī school in their use of speculative theology (kalām) in rebuttal to Muʿtazilī positions. They also differed in their understanding of the Divine Attributes of God – the Ashʿarīs chose to interpret the Divine Attributes figuratively so as to maintain God's transcendence over His creation, while the Māturīdīs chose to surrender total understanding to God.
Altogether, these three schools arose in defense of orthodoxy against what was seen as Muʿtazilī heresy. As time passed, Muʿtazilī influence would wane while the Atharī, Ashʿarī, and Māturīdī systems gained greater and greater traction. As the influence of these three schools spread, so did their proponents. Theological debates began to be waged between the schools, just as they had been waged between the four schools of jurisprudence. Charges of heresy – in some cases arguably warranted – were leveled. The Ashʿarīs and Māturīdīs accused the Atharī camp of anthropomorphism, while the Atharīs accused the former groups of negating God's attributes. The schools spread across the Islamic world, as did their argumentations.

Flash-forward to America in the nineties

Young men and women inspired to study religion travel overseas – primarily to Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia – bringing back to the States a wealth of knowledge, but also sectarian-like adherences to one of the three theological schools. Educational institutes were built and party lines were drawn. Each school taught creed (ʿaqīdah) defining itself as Ahl al-Sunnah. I remember some of the confusion I personally felt during my days in college, in particular attending an MSA conference in which the two main speakers addressed the issue. One adhered to the Ashʿarī school while the other was an Atharī. Each lectured on their positions in absolutes, giving no room for the other's possible derivations. It caused great confusion in my heart and mind; I was young. I clearly remember a friend saying to me, “You know Moutasem, we will burn in hell if we get this wrong”. His statement shook my core. Looking back at those days I often wonder what the landscape would have been like if our educational institutes adopted a different approach to this subject. Instead of teaching one of the three theological positions in absolute, what if they taught them in terms of historical development, highlighting where and why each of the schools emerged. What if they educated instead of indoctrinated?
To be fair, Dr. Sherman Jackson's alim Program pioneered the historical educational approach to creedal studies, and he should be recognized for his forward thinking in that area. The approach of inclusivity has also been touted by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, who has recently stated:
الأثريون والأشاعرة والماتريدية كلهم أهل سنة. هذا الشعار ينبغي أن نرفعه، وأن نوضح ألا هؤلاء خرجوا عن الأثر، وألا هؤلاء أيضا احتقروا الأثر؛ بل الأثر هو للجميع، والنصوص القرآنية تؤيد جميع هذه الاتجاهات.
“The Atharīs, Ashʿarīs, and Māturīdīs are all Ahl al-Sunnah. This is a slogan which we should proclaim, and we should clarify that neither of these camps [i.e. the latter two] has went against the text (al-athar), nor have they belittled the text. Indeed the athar is for all, and Quranic text supports all of these orientations”[2]

Defining Fault lines

I have come to the personal conclusion that the advancement of Muslims in America can only be realized when we define our own fault lines within our community, and do not let them be defined for us by historical and/or international standards. Though I may adhere to the Ashʿarī school of thought as codified by Imām Ghazālī (450-505/1058-1111), I do not look at my brothers and sisters of the Atharī school with a heart of suspicion or misguidance. I will not simply tolerate them, or sign a pact of non-aggression – that is not where our hearts should be in regards to each other. We need to have a mutual sense of love and respect for one another and mend this bridge of theological debate. As leaders and educational institutes, if we carry on making theology an issue of contention between each other, we will continually drag Muslim Americans through the same vicious cycle of fragmentation. I, for one, am unwilling to repeat the cycle.
Moutasem Atiya is the co-founder and President of Al-Madinah Institute.  He resides in Maryland with his wife and three children while continuing his Islamic Education under the supervision of Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui.  He can be found on twitter @MoutasemAtiya 

[1] Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Safārīnī, Lawāmiʿ al-Anwār al-Bahiyya wa Sawāṭiʿ al-asrār al-Athariyya li-Sharḥ al-Durra al-Maḍiyya fī ʿAqd al-Firqa al-Marḍiyya (Damascus: Muʾasasat al-Khāfqīn wa Maktabatuhā, 1982), 73.
[2] “Naẓarāt fī Manhaj al-Imām al-Ashʿarī,” al-Mawqaʿ al-Rasmī li-Maʿālī al-ʿAlāma ʿAbd Allāh bin Bayyah,

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Tomb of Alexander the Great

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(Could this or is Cyrus the Great related to the story of Thul Qarnayn?)

Behind Tomb Connected to Alexander the Great, Intrigue Worthy of "Game of Thrones"

By Heather Pringle
for National Geographic
Published November 21, 2014

(As archaeologists dig deeper into the burial mound, ancient sources tell a tale of family drama and palace intrigue.)


Suspense is rising as archaeologists sift for clues to the identity of the person buried with pomp and circumstance in the mysterious Amphipolis tomb in what is now northern Greece. The research team thinks the tomb was built for someone very close to Alexander the Great—his mother, Olympias; one of his wives, Roxane; one of his favorite generals; or possibly his childhood friend and lover, Hephaestion.


Over the past three months, archaeologist Katerina Peristeri and her team have made a series of tantalizing discoveries in the tomb, from columns sculpted masterfully in the shapes of young women to a mosaic floor depicting the abduction of the Greek goddess Persephone. The tomb's costly artwork all dates to the tumultuous time around the death of Alexander the Great, and points to the presence of an important person.


Alexander himself was almost certainly buried in Egypt. But the final resting places—and the rich historical and genetic data they may contain—of many of his family members are unknown. The excavation at Amphipolis is bound to add a new chapter to the history of Alexander the Great and his family, a dynasty as steeped in intrigue, conspiracy, and bloodshed as the fictional Lannisters in the popular television series Game of Thrones. Among Alexander's family, "the king or ruler who ended up dying in his bed was rare," says Philip Freeman, a biographer of Alexander the Great and a classical historian at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.


Palace Intrigues


To understand these palace intrigues, one must begin with Alexander's father, Philip II, who ascended the throne of ancient Macedonia in 359 B.C. At the time, Macedonia was a modest mountain realm north of ancient Greece, but Philip had big dreams. He transformed Macedonia's army from a band of ragtag fighters into a disciplined military machine, and he armed it with a deadly new weapon, the sarissa, a long lance designed to keep enemy troops from closing in on his phalanxes.


A natural-born conqueror, Philip led his army to the west, crushing and intimidating the major Greek city-states until all had surrendered to his rule. "Philip II was a traditional warrior king," says Ian Worthington, author of By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire. "He was always in the thick of battle."


By custom, Macedonia's kings married multiple wives, often for the purposes of sealing political alliances with powerful neighbors. Alexander's mother, Olympias, was a daughter of the king of Molossia, a realm that encompassed part of modern Albania, and she claimed descent from the legendary Greek hero, Achilles. She was one of Philip's many wives, and according to ancient historians, she schemed relentlessly at court to put her son on the Macedonian throne. Some historians even suspect that she poisoned Alexander's older half-brother, impairing his mental faculties.


For a time, her intrigues seemed to succeed. Philip groomed the young Alexander as his heir, providing the boy with a first-class education from a renowned tutor, Aristotle, and encouraging his prowess as a warrior.


But important Macedonian nobles at Philip's court viewed Alexander as half foreign and possibly illegitimate. By the time Alexander reached his late teens, Philip seemed to share these doubts. He took a new Macedonian wife, and during a drinking party, Philip allowed Alexander's legitimacy to be publicly questioned. Then Philip drew his own sword on Alexander, a mortal insult.


Philip later tried to patch things up, but he had created a dangerous enemy. Exactly what happened next is the subject of debate, although the bare facts are well known. In 336 B.C., Philip threw a lavish public wedding for one of his daughters and invited members of neighboring royal houses to attend this state occasion.


As part of the festivities, Philip planned to stage public games at daybreak in the theater at Aigai, his capital city. He strode into the stadium, wearing a white cloak over his shoulders. On one side was Alexander; on the other was his new son-in-law. Philip waved away his bodyguards, and as he stood at the center of the theater, the large crowd began to roar with approval.


"That was the last thing he ever heard," says Worthington. An assassin stepped out from the crowd and stabbed Philip to death as the guests watched in disbelief. In the ensuing bedlam, the murderer, a man named Pausanias, bolted from the theater toward a spot where horses were tethered and waiting for him. But just as Pausanias was about to escape, he tripped and fell, and three of Philip's bodyguards speared him to death.


Conspiracy Theory


Did Pausanias act alone? Some ancient texts suggest that he did, assassinating Philip in a jealous rage. Many of the ancient Macedonian nobles were bisexual, and Philip was no exception. He had taken Pausanias as his lover, and when he tired of him, he discarded the young man and even allowed others to sexually abuse Pausanias. So Pausanias may have murdered Philip in an act of revenge.


But several clues point to a conspiracy, says Worthington. Pausanias, for example, fled to a spot where multiple horses were waiting, suggesting that several people had made plans for escaping the crime scene.


"I think Pausanias was manipulated to kill Philip," says Worthington, who suspects that Olympias and Alexander played key parts in the assassination. Both mother and son had been deeply insulted by Philip. In addition, they may have feared that Philip's young Macedonian wife would produce a Macedonian heir more acceptable to the local nobility. The only way to prevent this would be to eliminate Philip. So Worthington theorizes that Olympias and Alexander poisoned Pausanias's mind and encouraged him to murder Philip.


Other classical historians aren't so sure Alexander was guilty of patricide. Nevertheless, says Luther College's Freeman, "if you put Alexander on a couch today and tried to analyze him, you could have a lot of fun."


The King Is Dead, Long Live the King


With Philip gone, Alexander had to convince the Macedonian court that he deserved to be king. He planned a costly funeral for his father, cremating the body on a massive funeral pyre and constructing an elaborate tomb for Philip on the outskirts of Aigai (the modern Greek town of Vergina), some 100 miles from Amphipolis. As Macedonia's aristocracy looked on, Alexander buried his father "like a Homeric hero," says Ioannes Graekos, an archaeologist and curator at the Royal Tombs Museum in Vergina.


Inside the tomb, Alexander interred a gold chest containing Philip's skeletal remains, as well as a host of royal treasures, from a gilded crown to a golden scepter, a gold cuirass, and a gold- and ivory-adorned deathbed. Over the doorway, the young king had artists paint a hunting scene showing Alexander and his father closing in on a lion.


"Only royalty can hunt lions, so Alexander was honoring his father, but he was also honoring himself," says Terence Clark, an archaeologist at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, who, along with National Geographic and others, is helping to organize a major new traveling exhibition on the heroes of ancient Greece, including Alexander the Great. "It's a definitive statement that Alexander is now in charge."


But despite his appearance of confidence, Alexander still feared rivals at court. He ordered the deaths of his cousin Amyntas and of one of Philip's young wards. And his mother, Olympias, took care of enemies among the royal women. According to at least one ancient text, she forced Philip's young Macedonian wife to commit suicide and arranged for the murder of her rival's daughter. Olympias, says Elizabeth Carney, a classical historian at Clemson University in South Carolina and biographer of Alexander's mother, was "a political woman."


That left just the army. Alexander had to convince Macedonia's generals and soldiers alike that he was a commander like his father. So he embarked on a series of military campaigns, quelling rebels in the Balkan region, crushing the city-state of Thebes, and leading his army to one victory after another. By the time he turned 21, Alexander was firmly in control of Macedonia and Greece, and ready to embark on the conquest of Persia.


Alexander extended his rule to lands as far south as Egypt and as far east as India, creating one of the greatest empires of the ancient world. His closest companion was his lover Hephaestion, a Macedonian general, and when Hephaestion finally succumbed to a mysterious ailment in 324 B.C. on an eastern campaign, Alexander was nearly undone by grief. According to the ancient writer Plutarch, he had Hephaestion's doctor crucified and massacred an entire tribe in the region to provide offerings for Hephaestion's spirit.


Things Fall Apart


By the time of his own death at age 33, Alexander was still in the east, planning the conquest of Arabia. He clearly preferred the thrill of battle to the numbing minutiae of governing. He had taken at least two foreign wives, but had produced no legitimate heir to his massive empire and had given little apparent thought to the matter of succession. Soon after he died of a mysterious fever in Babylon, his generals, nobles, and family members began fighting bitterly over the succession. In the end, his vast empire was divided as spoils of a civil war, and his entire direct line was wiped out.


Alexander's mother met her end at the hands of a ruthless Macedonian noble, Cassander. To clear the path to the Macedonian throne, Cassander took Olympias prisoner during a siege and executed her. Then, like Alexander himself, he set about eliminating other potential plotters. He imprisoned Alexander's most important foreign wife, Roxane, and his posthumous son, Alexander IV, at Amphipolis—and had them both secretly murdered in 311 B.C. With the dirty work done, Cassander ruled the kingdom of Macedonia until his death in 297 B.C.


Most archaeologists today are convinced, based on historical accounts, that Alexander himself was buried somewhere in Egypt, quite possibly in the city that bears his name today, Alexandria. But researchers have yet to find the tombs of Olympias, Roxane, Hephaestion, and many of his generals. Perhaps the archaeological team clearing the mysterious tomb at Amphipolis will yet find the remains of one of them.




Ancient Greek Tomb Of Alexander Era: Mystery Deepens Over The Skeletons And Bones Found


By Kalyan Kumar


International Business Times (AU)


Considerable mystery surrounds the disclosures about a vast tomb in Greece, built during the period of Alexander the Great, with archaeologists now claiming that they have found ancient remains of five people. Ever since the tomb was discovered in 2014, there has been intense speculation that it may have been built for Alexander the Great, for his mother or a General in his military. But the disclosure of archaeologists on Monday that they unearthed bones of five people, including a woman above the age of 60, a newborn baby, two men aged between 35 and 45, overturned many of the hitherto held assumptions. The ruins of another body, believed to be of an adult, could not be verified in terms of its age.


Intriguing Excavation


The ancient tomb dates back to 300-325 BC and was located at the Kastas hill in Amphipolis, reported The Telegraph. Alexander died in 323 BC, at the age of 32, in Babylonia, and his body was supposed to have been transported to Alexandria for burial.  Inside the tomb, archaeologists also found some marble statues of sphinxes and a mosaic pavement that depicted the abduction of Persephone by Hades, who was the king of the underworld.


According to the experts, the bones of one of the men had cut marks, possibly from a sword or a dagger, adding a new twist to the occupants of the necropolis.  A Daily Mail report said there is also speculation whether the woman buried at the Amphipolis site was Roxana, Alexander's Persian wife. It quoted the Culture Ministry, which said the woman was approximately 5ft 1inch tall.


Great Warrior


Born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356 BC, Alexander, despite of his short life that ended at the young age of 32, became world famous for his heroic military expeditions across the Persian territories of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt. He came and literally conquered the lands he surveyed. The warrior's greatest victory was at the Battle of Gaugamela, now in northern Iraq, in 331 BC. His triumphant treks across Persian territories made him known as Alexander the Great. After the battle in Gaugamela, Alexander led his army further 17,800 km and found 70 cities. The expedition led to Alexander creating an empire that stretched across three continents-- from Greece to Egypt and further to Indian Punjab.


Creating one of the largest empires in the world with territories that stretched from the Mediterranean to the Indus, Alexander became a military legend of all times. But the death of Alexander also unleashed a bitter succession war to take control of the empire. During the war, Alexander's mother, widow, son and half-brother were murdered near Amphipolis. Now the mystery is whether the tomb in questions is housing those bodies.


(The writer can be reached with feedback at

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

An Illusion of Intellectualism

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By Mohamed Ghlian / December 22, 2013

For a book carrying the subtitle “Science and Religion in Islam,” one would reasonably expect the author to be well versed in three subjects: science, religion, and Islam. However, Taner Edis readily admits from the very beginning of “An Illusion of Harmony” that he’s no expert in Islam. He cites having grown in a Muslim land, Turkey, and how “Islamic” culture is part of his non-Muslim identity. This, in addition to his cursory reading of Islamic history as presented by the anti-Islam polemicists that he references are the bases upon which he relies for the validity of his arguments. His authority in science is derived from being a physicist, which similar to having grown in an “Islamic” culture cannot be accepted as a real form of authority in science as an enterprise. Indeed, one can be engaged in an activity without any substantial or real knowledge of what the activity is all about. The task Edis undertakes proves to be too much for him.

Not to be missed, Edis brings up Al-Ghazzali – a favorite figure pointed to as an explanation for “what happened” to the Islamic Golden Age.  Al-Ghazzali is consistently brought up for having written a “condemnation” of the “foreign sciences” such as “philosophy and mathematics.” Such a blanket statement of Al-Ghazzali’s work “The Incoherence of Philosophers” exposes the unfamiliarity of Edis with this work, as well as Al-Ghazzali’s work preceding it titled “The Objectives of Philosophers.” Al-Ghazzali was a Muslim theologian, but contrary to what Edis seems to imply by the term, Al-Ghazzali was also an academic and a philosopher in his own right. In the Islamic Tradition, being a theologian necessarily entails mastery of not just Scripture, but also of the so-called “foreign sciences.” Al-Ghazzali did not write a condemnation of philosophy and mathematics, subjects, which in his time encompassed the natural sciences, as we know them today. He wrote a treatise on where such sciences show consistency when applied in their proper realms, and incoherence when applied where they don’t belong – a fact about science, which modern science-worshipping atheists such as Edis don’t seem to comprehend or want to accept.

Edis’ misrepresentation of Al-Ghazzali, which can only be a result of his limited familiarity with him was not the only one. His knowledge of the theological positions different groups took within Islam is grossly inaccurate. For one, he presents the Mu’tazila as a rationalist sect that was subverted by an irrational popular Islamic theology. He caricatures the theological positions to an extent that renders this work of his academically unworthy of attention. Edis seems to have taken certain highlights he has come across in his cursory readings, decontextualized them from both theological and historical perspectives, and put them together in a few paragraphs to fill his pages.

Further evidence of Edis’ lack of familiarity with Islamic theology, disguised by a cursory familiarity with Islamic social history, is seen in his understanding of how medieval Muslims viewed knowledge in relation to religion. In short, Edis’ analysis is nothing more than a confabulation of science and mysticism, understood by Edis to have been interlinked, but acknowledged by Muslim theologians to be independent in their epistemology. Edis’ ignorance of this becomes clearer in his assertion that Muslims distrusted natural law and causality in favour of having everything in nature depend on an omnipotent God. This assertion is negated by a single Hadith from the Prophet Muhammad PBUH who preceded all the Muslim theologians Edis cites by hundreds of years. A man asked the Prophet Muhammad PBUH whether he should tie his camel when goes inside his home, or leave it untied and rely upon God believing it won’t flee. Prophet Muhammad PBUH’s response is one of the most famous Hadiths that Muslim children, let alone theologians, know: “tie it and rely upon God.” The Islamic belief is to acknowledge a universe where cause and effect are real. But at the same time realize that this belief in a sequence of cause and effect, which modern science can’t do without, are ultimately part of God’s omnipotence. Although Edis’ does mention, albeit passingly, the occasionalist solutions put forth by Al-Ghazzali and others, this mention doesn’t indicate more than his awareness of their presence in Islamic theology and his lack of understanding of their implications to how Muslims did science.

The Islamic conception of epistemology is an elaborate one. In his insolent remarks about Muslim scholars making all kinds of lists of classifications, Edis doesn’t realize their purpose: Muslims did not want to approach an area of knowledge with the wrong tools to acquire it. Doing so was recognized to result in confusion and never-ending mistakes in judgments. Regardless of the critiques against cause and effect, Muslims scholars dictated that the only way to know the workings of the natural world was by observation. To put it in modern terms, Muslim scholars have always recognized that the scientific method is how one can learn about the natural world. Edis misses this basic teaching that a beginner student of Islamic theology would receive because in his worldview there are no different categories of asking, “why?” For Edis, the “why?” question is always a mechanism-explanation seeking question. Hence, his understanding of Islamic theology continually proves to be problematic. Whether one accepts the validity of purpose-driven “why?” questions or not, it must be acknowledged and treated accordingly as such when reading the works of a religious tradition that categorizes “why?” questions, and puts purpose-driven “why?” questions as the ultimate ones to answer. Interestingly, Edis doesn’t completely miss this distinction. But he does dismiss it in his attempts to explain the ailments of Muslim thinking, ailments which for the most part were produced not from Muslims’ beliefs in Islam, but from Edis’ own incompetence in his dealing with Islamic theology.

In addition to Edis’ lack of academic rigour in theology, he also misrepresents history when he contrasts the Islamic civilization with Christendom. The blanket claim that Islamic Madrasas were purely dedicated to religious knowledge, whereas “sophisticated ideas” stemming from “foreign or rational” sciences were taught under an “ethos of secrecy,” that “depended on master-apprentice relationships” in Muslim lands is easily refuted by the standing structures of traditional Islamic Madrasas in Morocco and Egypt. Despite the misfortune of such places standing only as historical reminders of the past, the presence of observatories on the roof tops of mosques, and medical quarters where anatomy and surgery were taught next to the prayer areas, in addition to marked pillars where circles of philosophical discussions took place inside the prayer areas stands to completely refute Edis’ claims that Muslims have traditionally viewed extra-religious knowledge negatively. On the other hand, although philosophical discourses took place within monasteries in Christendom, it’s historically undeniable that these discussions had to be confined within the limits of what was acceptable to the Church. That’s not to say that Muslim history is void of intellectual persecution. Muslims did engage in such intellectual terrorism, but it’s non sequitur that such persecution stems from Islamic injunctions.

Edis attributes the progress of human thought to arrive at modern science was by undergoing a shift into a mechanistic thinking of the world. This way of thinking about nature gave rise to the scientific method. Nonsense. Humans have always had a mechanistic view of nature. The idea that we’ve only managed to see patterns in nature and use that knowledge for our benefit during the European Enlightenment is unsubstantiated. The “progress” we’ve experience from modern science is a result of how the tool of the scientific method is utilized today in combination with modern technological advancements. Although it was primitive in form during human history, the scientific method’s purpose was to understand nature. The shift humans have undergone that led to modern science was to use the scientific method to subject and manipulate nature as opposed to understand its workings.

Throughout the book, Edis continually scoffs at the Islamic, and generally religious, perspective of the world having a purpose, harmony, and overall design. A favourite target of Edis who he kept bringing up until near the very end of the book was Badiüzzaman Said Nursî and the movement that followed him. Whether it was Nursî or Seyyed Hossein Nasr or Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani or the numerous Turkish theologians and Muslim thinkers Edis cites throughout his book, there was not a single instance of him supporting his case against Islam by going directly to primary Islamic sources and then giving an academic breakdown of how different scholars have utilized them as evidence in support of their arguments. Edis gathered random decontexualized quotes of statements made by Muslims attempting to revive their co-religionists into doing science again under an Islamic vision that puts Creation under the Creator. He then ridiculed such a perspective assuming that the naturalistic materialism he subscribes to is the “rational” one, and in the fashion of New Atheists moved on to the next point he had to make.

In spite of the innumerable problems, logical fallacies, and even inaccuracies (such as the one about ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattāb burning books in Egypt after conquering it), Edis does come close to getting one thing right. Medieval Muslims did do a different kind of science. Contrary to Edis’ claims, medieval Muslim science was a science that relied upon use of the scientific method, fact collecting, and hypothesizing based on observation, then testing the validity of these hypotheses through experimentation in order to finally come up with coherent theories. Their concern was practicality and technological advancement, as well as understanding how things worked. The only difference was how they fit their findings into their theistic worldview. Their belief in cause and effect being part of God’s omnipotence meant that they never saw anything as random, and therefore they viewed everything in nature to have significance. Modern scientists such as Edis operate on the notion that nothing has purpose or meaning. Hence, if an unexpected result comes forth from an experiment, or the standard error bars never disappear, it’s always chalked up to meaninglessness anomalies. However, as Thomas Kuhn would put it, these so-called “anomalies” eventually pile up and force the scientific establishment to re-examine their theories, which eventually leads to a Scientific Revolution. This is usually talked about as a positive for modern science – it’s the scientific method prevailing. In reality, it’s a negative externality of the belief about the nature of the universe having no meaning, no purpose and no ultimate omnipotent Creator who brought it all into existence. It’s anti-progress and anti-scientific. Instead of wasting all that time until enough “anomalies” pile up to force the scientific community to re-examine its theories, science could’ve moved much farther ahead under an Islamic worldview. It’s a worldview where the physical universe is investigated using physical means in order to serve the metaphysical. The real problem modern Muslims have today is in their attempts at having the metaphysical serve the physical universe by using metaphysical explanations of what are ultimately physical mechanisms. Medieval Muslims never approached science this way. Hence, their harmony between religion and science and the illusion of such a harmony with the approach of modern Muslims.

Overall, “An Illusion of Harmony” was a very difficult read. The sheer number of basic mistakes Edis makes with regards to the Islamic Tradition was exhausting to keep track of. It is ironic that throughout the book he constantly accuses Muslims of being opportunists who collect random scientific facts and present them in support of their Islamic worldview without paying much attention to coherence. That might be the case of some Muslims who haven’t mastered their Tradition before delving into discussing science. However, that says nothing about Islam. “An Illusion of Harmony” is a striking example of superficial and opportunistic literature, sensationalized by decontextualizing Muslim history, supported by half quotes and soundbites from Muslim thinkers, and completely void of any solid understanding of science, religion, or Islam.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Modern Nation States, the Islamic Caliphate and Ummah: Are they compatible?

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By Muhammad ibn Kateb Al-Ashari
Modern nation states and it’s concepts 2
The concept of Caliphate and Ummah in Islam
Caliphate and it’s conditions 3
Ummah it’s meaning and it’s duty 5
The duty of the Islamic political parties 6
Conclusion 6
End Notes 8
Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem
Today wold is just a compilation of some nation states where many different races and ethnicities reside. The days of empires have ended and so does the days of kings and emperors who ruled over vast regions in the past. In that past time existed the Islamic system of governance : the Caliphate. So the question asked “is caliphate and it’s subject (Muslim nation) compatible with today’s “nation states””? Muslim is the only people who are recognized by their religion as a nation, not by their race or language or culture. The concept of nationalism as stated below is not similar to the concept of Muslim nationalism if at all there is anything as Muslim nationalism, because Muslims are a nation (ummah) whose peace and security ought to be one. My position in this paper is “the concept of Caliphate and ummah is compatible with nation states today if certain conditions are fulfilled”. This is to me is Islamic nationalism and reality which is to be of Muslim nation states. Do consider the difference between Muslim nation and Muslim states. If I use Muslim nation states I mean Muslim nations otherwise it should be understood as the ummah (Muslim nation)
According to contemporary Western definition the nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial uniti. The characteristics of a nation state is fourii. If these four are found then it can be said that a nation state exists. The four traits are: a) A permanent population b) A defined territory c) Government d) The ability to enter into relation with other states. These conditions are sometimes not fully seen such as Somalia as an example where there is no effective government, but nonetheless a state. The most important thing for a state is sovereignty, what makes it independent from others in sense of legal jurisdiction on it’s territory. However in federal states there are sovereign states with in state such as in USA or Canada but these internal states somewhat sovereign are not treated as states due to the fact that they are not sovereign to enter in to treaties. This is what the concept is to the western academics and certain legal bodiesiii.
The origins and early history of nation states are disputed. Romano identifies the French Revolution as the source of modern European nationalism. Fired by patriotic fervor as they swept across the continent, French revolutionary armies, followed by those of Napoleon, stirred nationalist backlashes everywhere in Europeiv. To know fully why nation state is different from empires one should ask what nationalism is. One is the primordialist perspective that describes nationalism as a reflection of the ancient and perceived evolutionary tendency of humans to organize into distinct grouping based on an affinity of birthv. So It can be a nationalistic (Nation building as well) belief that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic, cultural, religious, or identity groupvi. In this sense the rise of nation states can be ascribed to ethnic and racial reasons among others, otherwise how can it be different from an empire?
Islam does not define the concept of state as a definition we would ask to find in it’s sources but we can say that Islam recognizes the concepts of territories, rulers, population and laws. It is very common in Islamic texts and Islamic jurisprudence that such terms have been mentioned to address legal, foreign trade and warfare issues among others. Such elements are both common to empires and nation states but even then there are differences. For example in Europe marriage among royals would sometimes result in land swap which is not the case for nation states. The way Islam has dealt with elements of empires or nation states are that “A ruler ruling over it’s subjects in a land which has a delimiter and who trades with foreign rulers”. This is what I can say about how Islam has looked at the elements of empires or nation states. Hence the basis of race or ethnicity does not play a role in determining the concept of state in Islam, however a specific part of a specific race does play an important role in one important aspect as we shall see later.
The concept of Caliphate and Ummah in Islam
The meaning of the term caliphate from (khaleefa) is to interchange the predecessor and take his positionvii. In this sense man is khaleefa on earth of it’s previous inhabitants who were the jinnsviii. In the legal jargon calipha (caliph) is the greater Islamic ruler ie. Ruler over all Muslims and Muslim lands. It’s general term is khilafa (caliphate) meaning leadership which is a proliferation from the leadership of the Prophet pbuh to protect the religion and the political system of Islamix. Scholars have thus questioned that whether caliphate is a rationale necessity in Islamic political system or a religious onex. I think they have seen these two distinctions in separate perspectives and both of them are right in their own perspective. It is because one group said it is a rationally viable necessity saw it in the interest of worldly life, where as the other group who said it is a religiously ordained injunction saw it both in the perspective of obeying God’s command and reaping worldly as well as spiritual benefits through this. The verse of holy Quran also suggests a specific form of political system in Islam a system where leadership is subservient to Divine authorityxi. But this should not be a valid ground where people will use negation-principle to rebel rulers who are not subservient to Divine authority unless certain conditions are fulfilledxii.
The conditions of a valid caliphate are seven xiii:
a) Justice with it’s complete conditionsxiv
b) Ability to deal with prevailing and contemporary issues of his time
c) Perfection in hearing, speaking and listening for efficiency in maintaing and running the office.
d) Perfections in limb and body.
e) Sharp intellect
f) Courage and integrity to engage against the enemies
g) From the lineage of the Quraish
Point d could be said to have been more suitable when caliphs used to engage in actual battle unless the caliph himself is a military general like positions held by Hitler or Pinochet, this condition is rarely seen and yet needed in today’s world but I think a caliph should be an expert in military strategy and tactics and as being the head of the armed forces of Islamic state should position himself as such.
Point f is very much needed in today’s time when most of the Muslim leaders are cowering in fear and insecurity of their own potentials apart from the marvelous example which Iran is showing.
Point g is very important as this is a religious injunction where others have been deduced from the spirit of Divine texts. Only a person who can be traced to the lineage of the Quraish dynasty can be a candidate for caliphate and so the Islamic ummah has no other choice but to choose as their ultimate and supreme leader an Arab from the prophet’s dynasty. This is the special condition which I mentioned in the beginning section. Now are Muslims psychologically ready to accept this? Are they ready to start the phase to realize this? It is extremely difficult when the Muslims are poisoned by the notion of western nationalism and western democracy.
Modern nation states have been based on the concept of secularism and democracy and it is not easy to see them only in terms of territories without their political ideas shaping such landscapes. However the Islamic concept of nationstate is based on Islamic nation and caliphate as stated, and how this caliphate materializes is a matter we need to shed some light on. The caliphate is legally established in two ways and the third way even though not legal but once established Muslims are obliged to follow. The first way is through the selective process of ahl hil wal aqdxv. These are the people who are experts in Islamic jurisprudencexvi, and to Imam Nawawi intellectuals to whom people go in their needsxvii. All of the companions were more or less people of reason and religious comprehension specially those who were there to establish the four caliphates. It is also noteworthy that not even all people participated in the selection of Abu Bakr (ra) but only five agreed and others followed in their footsteps, and we cannot say the undemocratic start of Islamic caliphate was wrong and void of any benefits. Hence the concept of democracy which is the other half of modern nation states cannot be said to accommodate such an Islamic structure. The second way of establishing the caliphate is through transfer of the power of Caliphate by a previous caliph to someone meeting the conditions of caliph. It is because Abu Bakr transferred the caliphate to Umar (ra) and there is ijma (consensus) on this type of caliph choosingxviii. The third way is not legal but a result of event which bestows on the population a rulerxix. An example would be some Muslim ruler enforcing his authority on Muslims through armed attack and thereby overtaking the location and installing new monotheistic government. I say this because Muslims are not allowed to be ruled by a disbeliever or a government which bans Islamic values and culture from people’s lives. This is only when people are able to unite and rebel against this government. This type of government due to showing “kufr bawah (open disbelief)” has lost legitimacy and invoked disobedience from Muslimsxx.
I discussed above about the Islamic political system which affects the formulation and molding of the Islamic nation states just as secularism and democracy forms and shapes the modern nation states every day.
Now I will discuss about the nation who makes such states. The concept of Islamic nation is cohesive showing gravitational pull towards the centre where every nation states and every Muslims of every race residing in such states are the physical masses, the caliphate being the unseen gravitational force. All these make up the Islamic nation and in Arabic termed as Ummah. Ummah’s lexical meaning is “a way or a religion”. It’s theological meaning can be found in holy Quran which addresses Muslims as people of righteousness on faithxxi. This same norm of address was given to prophet Abaham pbuh. It stated him as an Ummah. If we compare these two verse we find that Ummah is any person or persons who share with each other the monotheistic faith and religion. I will accept the concept of modern nation states (the four conditions) as stated earlier in the essay. I will extend that definition to include the government as Islamic political system and the territory being primarily Muslim. How Islamic ummah can form government for it’s territory? Now caliphate is not a sudden emergence but in the modern context I believe that first Islamic rulers and governments should emerge locally and then establish the caliphate when sufficient number of Islamic government has formed. Another way is an Islamic government will form on a Muslim territory and it shall call for the Ummah to establish caliphate. In this sense modern nation states and Islamic caliphate and Ummah is not contradictory but complementary. First I need to discuss does this Ummah have a duty to initiate such a process to caliphate because the concept of modern nation states largely depends on the will of the people? Yes it does as mentioned in Imam Mawardi’s book which states that Muslims have a collective obligation to choose their caliph. The process is also very specific: Two groups will appear one who will call for the caliphate and another who will select from the former a caliphxxii. It is no problem even if the callers to caliphate all belong to the Quraish lineage. It is not an obligation that only one person from Quraish comes forth., but the condition is that the caliphate must not go out from the Quraish.
It is true that modern nation states exist as independent jurisdictions from each other but nonetheless it is percievable that even such independent jurisdictions can be brought about under one rule of law or even further government and military. If we consider NATO and EU we see one body of law is supreme over all members of EU and that one military is supreme and serves interest of these members even though the legal systems of such countries are different and even though they are independent government. But the concept of Islamic caliphate goes even a bit further. The centralized government will be the seat of caliphate and the law shall be legislated from the government of the caliphate. It is possible that there could be one set of laws transcending all Muslim lands under this caliphate just as the federal laws of USA, and it is also possible that each Muslim state can adopt it’s own laws through it’s own Islamic madhab just as US states have it’s own state laws for all the states it has got. If the caliph so wishes it is also foreseeable to give
certain powers to the provincial governments to enter into foreign relations on behalf of that province. The only transcendent rule is “Caliphate shall be appointed and will have the power which overturns all provincial codes and laws, and that a separate council of Islamic jurists to oversee the works of the caliph whether conforming to Quran and Sunnah or not, just as the Guardian Council in Iran.” However such a council should be there only to monitor the workings of the caliphate but not to impose anything, as they themselves should be subservient to the caliph in all maters of good and benefits of the ummah and Islam. The establishment of Islamic caliphate will not erase boundaries of Muslim lands but will consolidate the lands under a single powerful caliphate. This is what Islamic nationalism is to me. Democracy will play very little role if any and democratic process shall only be allowed in low level provinces through the permission of the caliphate if he sees so fit. I want to mention why people today crave for democracy? Firstly, secularism actively promotes democracy because to prevent the misuse of power from the rulers, as rulers in this system have no loyalty but to their selves and parties, where as in Islam caliph and provincial rulers must have loyalty to Allah, Lord to who all Muslims must show their loyalty to. It is lack of faith from the secularists in their rulers and it is also greed for power that they crave democracy which is the blood of modern nation states. Germans adored Hitler even though the ruthless dictator to others, he was, because German had faith in him and he fulfilled German aspirations and raised the German head high which the treaty of Versailles had cut of. Unlike Fascism or Democracy Islam demands from us obedience to our ruler and demands the rulers to love the people.
There are lot of Islamic parties today in the world scattered through Muslim lands but some of them lacks motivation or lacks a real sense to pursue establishment of caliphate. There is lack of interconnectivity among them and organization is not multilayered and fragile. On the other hand Muslims have been deeply deceived by the hoax of western democracy and western pursuit of freedom. They think through change of values will come the change in economy and technology but they are wrong. Modern nation states developed through the efforts of it’s people and by same analogy it is meaningful that we Muslims develop ourselves and lands through our effort which has it’s root sowed in belief in caliphate and ummah.
As I have discussed it is clear that certain conditions must be fulfilled for islamic caliphate and ummah to
adapt with the modern nation states which are being:
a) Muslim acceptance of the Islamic caliphate
b) Each state subservient to the Islamic caliphate more like federal states and the caliphate similar to EU in in structure superseding provincial laws of the Muslim states, but yet extending more power over such provinces
c) Flexibility in adopting any Islamic madhab throughout the provinces and striking a balance between the Caliphate madhad (similar to federal laws) with the provincial madhabs (similar to federal state laws).
These three conditions if fulfilled Muslim states can exist as well as the islamic caliphate, Allah willing. The only requirement is the will to submit and the will to form. We have seen what lack of will from the security council to progress peace did to the world, and we also see what lack of will from Muslim rulers is doing to Ummah and the doctrine of Islamic caliphate. What separates us from matters of universe is our will to act.
End Notes
iSuch a definition is a working one: “All attempts to develop terminological consensus around nation resulted in failure”, concludes Tishkov, Valery (2000).
iiRebecca M M Wallace & Anne Holliday, International Law (2nd Ed), pg 49 Sweet & Maxwell, London
iiiFor example see Arbitration Commission of The European Conference on Yugoslavia 1991, Opinion Number 1.
ivSergio Romano. An Outline of European History 1789 -1989. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999
vMotyl. Encyclopedia of Nationalism, Vol. 1: Fundamental Themes, 2001, p. 251
viKymlicka, Will. (1995). Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 16.
vii2:30 Al-Baqarah Tafsir Zamakhshari by Imam Zamakhshari.
viii see Ibn Katheer in Stories of the Prophets.
ixImam Mawardi, Book of Imamah Pg 1, in Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyya.
xi4:59 Holy Quran
xiiThat needs separate discussion under “rebellion in Islam”
xiii Imam Mawardi, Book of Imamah Pg 3, in Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyya.
xiv See “conditions of Adalah”, Sunnah, in Rauda An-Nazir by Imam Ibn Qudama Al-Maqdasi.
xvImam Mawardi, Book of Imamah Pg 3, in Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyya.
xviImam Nawawi, Book of Imamah, Minhaj Al-Talibeen
xvii Ibid
xviii Imam Mawardi, Book of Imamah Pg 8, in Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyya.
xixHadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik in Bukhari with wording in passive tense “…were made your chief…”
xxHadith Narrated by Ubada Ibn Samit in Bukhari and Muslim
xxiAl-Imran 110 and Al-Nahl 120.
xxii Imam Mawardi, Book of Imamah Pg 2, in Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyya.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

International law and Theocracy : A Proposal

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The legal validity of theocracy in international law

Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Raheem

1.0  Introduction & background

“Theocracy is a form of government in which official policy is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or is simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religion or religious group” (Merriam-Webster, 2007). Democracy has become the dominant form of government in the world. Even though there are many other forms of governments recognized by political science, people’s ignorance and/or inapplicability of those in the state level, have made them only academic studies. One of the most persuasive and once dominant forms of government is theocracy. It finds its validity in religious texts. How successful can it be in people’s hearts? How can it reconcile with secular freedom? And the most important question is how much legal validity does it have in international community? This last question above all needs to be answered in light of the research.

1.1 Need for the research

History has seen many wars especially in the middle ages, wars which were fuelled by the cause of religion and just cause. Many people have died championing the cause of just wars and religions, but many have also died championing the cause of extremism. Recently in the world the fight for a religious government has emerged in the wake of terrorist attack of 2011. Even though the conflict between secular and religious is an old age rivalry, it has emerged in a new form where the former speaks of preemptive strike and the latter speaks of terrorist martyrdom. Can the differences between the two be resolved through a mutual agreement by international law? I believe my research will be able to in the least propose a solution and a step in the future. By this each faction can understand each other, and international law can play its major role and the primary role of maintaining international peace and promoting friendly relationship among people. It will help people understand that religion is not about impairment of freedom or the government of extremists, but it is more than that. It will help also to diminish an extremist thought in religious governance, and may convince some extremists also that both religious government and modern world can co-exist, peacefully. If it can be shown that international community and in large international law is not the enemy of theocracy and religious government then may be perhaps the tension will slightly lower, and people can see for a new age of religious tolerant governance, appreciating the role of religion and international law. It is based on a normative form of theocracy which I believe International Law allows. 

1.2 Purpose of the research

This research will deal with the legal issues, and discussing the technicalities of international law vis-à-vis theocratic legal systems. It will establish a legal link between theocracy and international law. Theocracy and the harmony with international law, and how to refine the extreme form of theocracy and make it fit in the context of International Law is the main objective of my study.

1.3 Thesis statement

Does international law allow for the existence of a theocratic regime which allegedly is feared to violate human right? I believe that international law allows in its system the existence of a normative theocracy. 

“Normative” meaning refined through international law and having legal injunctions worthy of being a legal system as well as political system yet maintaining the theocratic nature.

1.0  Literature Review: Major theocracies & International Law

I have discussed many forms of theocracies in which writers have endeavored upon either to establish a certain positive claim or a negative one. Due to theocratic legal systems being different its political systems also tend to be different, so I have discussed them in paragraphs.

The following passages will examine the major studies done in the relevant theocracy, and will also touch on the nature of international law dealing with governmental purpose. 

2.1 Jewish theocracy 

The term theocracy did not originate in any religious texts but it represents a form of government which is that of God (Kim 1972). Within this scope lies the definition of all forms of theocracies.  To start with Jewish theocracy would be a facilitator in understanding the divergent nature of theocracy. “Jewish theocracy is inevitably bound to be destructive of a real state in a real world” (weiler, 1997) - a theocracy which at the very onset is against the objective of international law, because international law is all about peaceful co-existence (UN Charter preamble & article 1). Does it mean that Jewish theocracy is not fit to rule or exist in the modern arena of nation states? Jews are a minority, and it would be difficult to exist on such aggressive theocracy for long, if it were to be established, purely. Then what other forms can there be in Jewish theocracy which may be in harmony with the concept of co-existence? Jewish theocracy says weiler is three folded: Anti-political, Rabbinical & anti-democratic anti secular (weiler, 1997). It may be that rabbinical norm which is so much aggressive who may treat the gentiles (non-Jews) in a very discriminatory way. As to the anti-political form would mean simply submitting to a purely religious form of life where the daily activities of life is governed by the government of rabbis and religious rituals, not to say the laws reaching to affect the level of state or existing government.  It could also be argued that the other two forms simply highlight Gentile hatred and Jewish separatism (Spinoza 1670). I believe that in order for Jewish theocracy to exist in a form compatible with international peace and international law, tolerance of the gentiles should be legislated and incorporated in the norm.

2.2 Christian theocracy

God is the only good King (Palmquist 1993). This is the summation of Christian theocracy to the author. On the basis of this the whole concept of Christian theocracy is built by the author. Absolute freedom is in God, he proposes, and that only government which can achieve this is theocracy. Even though he has vehemently opposed democracy, nonetheless democracy is also allowed by international law. It should be no shock that two allowed forms of government be in conflict in international law just as democracy and communism was in the cold war.  The kingdom of the Supreme King is acknowledged through the rule of pious men. In the Old Testament it was the prophets and to him in this present era it would be the church. Unlike secular government and just like other theocracies he foresees a government not of land or state only but of the soul also.  He shuns the isolationist policy that politics is evil and bad on the basis that men who make it bad but politics is a tool to achieve certain aims. He however only foresees bible as the only way of establishing peace in society but not international law. Pacifism is not an option in bible according to him, but what he promotes is just war which would mean also wars of aggression and he proposes a war of retribution for the wrongdoers, retribution of God implemented through the theocrats.  This reminds us of the crusades, wars of the church for a just cause in their theological reasoning, but not a just war so much in the modern sense of international law.

2.3 Islamic theocracy

The term Islamic state was coined by Maududi. He affirms the role of Islam in politics in the modern era, and proposes a theory for Islamic government. He establishes that the state of Islam must be based on unity of Allah Supreme, Prophethood and Caliphate. He proposes Islamic democracy a challenge to western secular democracy (Maududi 1976). He establishes a theocracy of Islam where only Muslims are allowed to rule due to the security issues of the state. “Islamic 'jihad' does not recognize their right to administer state affairs according to a system which, in the view of Islam, is evil. Furthermore, Islamic 'jihad' also refuses to admit their right to continue with such practices under an Islamic government which fatally affect the public interest from the viewpoint of Islam" (Maududi, 1939). He proposes an aggressive war stating “Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam, regardless of the country or the nation which rules it” (Maududi 1939). However it should be asked that prior to the adoption of UN charter in1945 how much is an aggressive war prohibited? How this sentence from Maududi is reconciled now with UN charter? Maududi proposed the theory of Islamic theocracy and it can be said Khomeini implemented it. Even though not fully clerical theocracy but nonetheless a theocracy was proposed by him stating “"We do not say that government must be in the hands of" an Islamic jurist, "rather we say that government must be run in accordance with God's law” but he encouraged clerical rule for the safety of religious integrity and jurisprudence “Only rule by a leading Islamic jurist  would prevent "innovation" in Sharia or Islamic law and insure it was properly followed” (Khomeini 1981).The concept of human rights is implicit in the Islamic doctrine of obeying Allah Supreme (Khomeini 1981). Thus Islamic theocracy of Iran has adopted the Cairo declaration of human rights. How much international law condones it is analyzed later on.  (For discussion on this see    

Was there really theocracy in Afghanistan or rule by clerics who implemented something else? Not everyone will believe what I asked, but the contrary to criticize theocracy. Afghanistan says Travis was a hotbed for civil war after the Islamic revolution against the Soviets (Travis 2003). He cited the darker side of a government which fought Soviets, i.e Taliban fighters. Taliban theocracy was vicious and brutal, and was responsible for atrocities and massacre. Taliban was supported by USA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and their success largely due to these states, even though USA later renounced it and left it to isolation until 2001. Taliban theocracy was thus to Travis was a failure and more over a form of criminal gang of rulers to implement Islamic law. 

2.4 Rawls on Theocracy   

Theocracy cannot be a positive form of government because it bars people’s rights and does not “guarantee the right of people to choose their own conceptions of the good life” (Roberts, 1998). To Rawls there are no objective moral values which Theocracy proposes. He defines the choices of reasonable people and the form of political doctrine they ought to choose. However to me moral values and political freedom in a state is the matter of the people’s right to consent or not consent. If people consent to the theocracy and to be governed by a set of doctrines which make their lives easier and spiritually positive i.e. spirituality of love and tolerance, along with justice to be understanding and flexible in its application., then theocracy can be a good form of governance, a form which can exist in international relations of states. 

2.5 The return of theocracy

 Religious parties have made a comeback to international sphere and “a new legal order has emerged: constitutional theocracy” (Hirschl 2008). He has discussed the need to study theocracy in the constitutional context, and after studying several constitutions which endorses a religious element he has come to believe that world politics can no longer ignore it. His research has endorsed the importance of acknowledging religious as an important player in forming constitution and state laws in the world, which leads to the need for my research as to how should a theocracy ought to exist on the basis of international legal system?

2.6 The nature of International Law

The main purpose of international law is to establish and maintain world peace and respect for human rights (UN charter 1945 & ICCPR 1966). International legal system tries it’s best to uphold the norms of Jus cogens, and judges on all forms of governments and/or legal systems which violates the Jus cogens norm as well as treaty laws & customary international laws (ICJ, Nicaragua case). Therefore it recognizes any or all governments De Jure or Ipso Facto (Wallace, 2010) provided they also recognize their obligations under international law (ICJ Statute article 36). 

2.0  Methodology

The research is library based, mainly. It also takes in to account media, religious edicts published in leaflets or proposed in parliament. I take in to consideration primary texts on theocracies including its interpretations. As this is a comparative analytical research, the interpretation and juristic opinions regarding the relevant fields of international law is compared with the theocratic laws and political theories, at times scrutinizing each other, and proposing a preferred view in my opinion. Also incompatibilities of the practical with the “ought to be” form are analyzed, and the “whys” and “hows” of such conflict are explained with possible resolutions if any. Also the flexible nature of international law is analyzed to that of inflexible practices of international legal subjects, if any. 

One of the practical approaches will be to take the speeches and quotes of theocratic figures and understand them in context of international law. It is because misunderstanding of such lead to misunderstanding of theocracy in particular and religions in general. What they have to offer is best understood when they are heard and understood. A study of how dominant theocracies of the world governed international relations in the absence of contemporary international law, is also taken.

Interviews with theocrats are done. Their ideas questioned to them, and their thought on co-existence of international law and theocratic government. 

Exemplary questions to be asked for survey:

a)    How theocracy can make a difference towards world stability?

b)    How do you tackle western human rights in conflict with theocratic human rights?

c)     Do you justify wars of aggression to promote just cause? If so, why?

d)    How credible is international law to you as you represent the Divine law?

e)    What if your version of theocracy is incompatible with international law and world community are you ready to wage a holy war?

Questions may be elaborated while in interview.

3.0  Limitations

The limitations rise due to the complete absence of prolonged theocratic rule in the contemporary world. Practical studies are thus limited by this, hence are heavily theory based and analytical. Also access to leading theocrats may be a problem due to their conservatism and suspicion to media and publicity.

Research for theocracy is rare, and most of the researches are against it or at least against its authority.  It is thus difficult to portray what theocratic form in international law is allowed provided the essence of theocracy is not altered. My research will contribute towards this, inshallah. 

4.0  Timescale

The research project is planned to be finished within five to six months, from the date of submission of the proposal.

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