Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Was Muhammad Ibn Zakariya Razi, A Well-Known Muslim Scientist, An Atheist?

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam 17 May 2022 Examining The Charges Of Atheism Levelled Against Ibn Zakariya Al-Razi Main Points: 1. How do Atheists and Orientalists view Al-Razi? 2. Analysing the view of Atheists and Orientalists on Al-Razi 3. Is the notion that Al-Razi wrote the books critical of religions, God, and Prophets a slander? 4. Except for Abu Hatim, none of the Mu'tazilites, Ismailis, physicians, or orthodox theologians who debated Al-Razi accused him of being an atheist or an enemy of Islam. 5. It is debatable if Al-Razi wrote anti-religious books, yet he did write books in favour of the religion, God and Prophets. ----- Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi/ Science Photo Library ----- There is no reliable evidence from the works of ancient contemporaries relating to ‘the sciences of men [Ilm al-Rijal]’ that Abu Bakr Al-Razi was an atheist or a heretic. However, various claims that Al-Razi was an atheist have surfaced in the modern era, based on some books criticising faiths and prophets. The books Fī Ḥiyal al-Mutanabbīn (On the Tricks of False Prophets) ’, ‘Makharīq al-Anbiyāʾ (The Prophets’ Fraudulent Tricks) and ‘Naqdh al-Adyaan [Refutation of Religions] are claimed to have been written by Al-Razi against religions and prophets. Modern Orientalists and atheists wrongly ascribe these books to Al-Razi. Even if we assume these books to be written by Al-Razi, how can we declare him to be an atheist because his most famous books, such as ‘Inna Lil Abd Khaliq (Undoubtedly the humans have a creator), ‘Tabaqat al-Absaar (the layers of visions)’ and ‘Al-Tibb al-Ruhani (Spiritual medicine) reflect his strong belief in Islam? According to the Islamic principle of belief and disbelief [Iman and Kufr], one cannot be termed a Kaafir or an atheist unless one's denial of any of the religious needs [Zaruriyaat al-deen] is absolutely obvious. Islam forbids anyone from declaring a Muslim an atheist on account of some doubts and especially if there is no definitive proof of his denial of beliefs. So, despite certain doubts and charges that Al-Razi wrote books against God, religions and Prophets, he cannot be classified as an atheist because his other works demonstrate that he was a firm believer in Islam. There is an authentic hadith narrated by at-Tirmidhi (2442), Ahmad (1630) and Ibn Hibbaan (722) from al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I memorized from the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt, for the truth leads to reassurance and lies lead to uncertainty.” [1] This hadith supports us in making a decision about Al-Razi’s beliefs. There is some debate and doubt about whether Al-Razi wrote anti-religious writings, but there is no doubt that he wrote books supporting Islamic beliefs. In this scenario, the dubious texts must be set aside in favour of the books written by Al-Razi in support of the Islamic faith and beliefs. The maxim of Islamic jurisprudence that ‘Certainty is not overruled by doubt’ can also be considered in this regard. We will briefly introduce Al-Razi and explain why the anti-religious books attributed to him were fabricated, and why he wasn't an atheist. Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi (born 854 AH - died 925 AH) sometimes known as Rhazes or Rasis by mediaeval Latinists was a Persian polymath, chemist, physician, alchemist, philosopher, and scholar who lived during the Islamic Golden Age. He is credited with multiple "firsts" in medical research, clinical care, and chemistry, including being the first to distinguish smallpox from measles and discovering numerous compounds and chemicals, including kerosene. "Probably the greatest and most original of all the surgeons, and one of the most prolific as an author," says Edward Granville Browne. Razi made substantial and lasting contributions to medicine, alchemy, music, and philosophy, as evidenced by more than 200 publications and articles in a variety of fields. He was well-versed in medical knowledge from Ancient Persia, Greece, and India, and he used his own observations and findings to make great medical advancements. He studied music, mathematics, philosophy, and metaphysics before deciding to pursue medicine as a career. He is known as the "Father of Pediatrics" for his early support of experimental medicine as a physician. He was also an ophthalmology pioneer. He was one of the first to utilise humoralism to discriminate between contagious diseases. Through his clinical characterization of the two diseases, Razi was the first physician to distinguish between smallpox and measles. He was named chief physician of the hospitals in Rey and Baghdad. [2] Al-Razi is claimed to have written anti-religious and anti-prophetic books as well as the books in favour of Prophets and Islam. This implies that he held contradicting viewpoints on faiths and Prophets, but the reality is quite different. We'll start with perspectives of atheists and orientalists on Al-Razi, and then move over to research of academics and historians. How Do Atheists And Orientalists View Al-Razi? Al-Razi, according to freethinkers and atheists, was a critic of prophethood and a freethinker or atheist. His quotations on religion and prophethood, according to them, are as follows:[3] “On what ground do you deem it necessary that God should single out certain individuals [by giving them prophecy], that he should set them up above other people, that he should appoint them to be the people's guides, and make people dependent upon them?" “Concerning the link between violence and religion, Al-Razi expressed that God must have known, considering the many disagreements between different religions, that "there would be a universal disaster and they would perish in the mutual hostilities and fighting. Indeed, many people have perished in this way, as we can see.” “He was also critical of the lack of interest among religious adherents in the rational analysis of their beliefs, and the violent reaction which takes its place: “If the people of this religion are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.” “Al-Razi believed that common people had originally been duped into belief by religious authority figures and by the status quo. He believed that these authority figures were able to continually deceive the common people "as a result of [religious people] being long accustomed to their religious denomination, as days passed and it became a habit. Because they were deluded by the beards of the goats, who sit in ranks in their councils, straining their throats in recounting lies, senseless myths and "so-and-so told us in the name of so-and-so...” According to them, Al-Razi said: “You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Quran. You say: "Whoever denies it let him produce a similar one." Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter. ... By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: "Produce something like it?”[4] These are some of the statements that opponents believe Al-Razi made in which he spoke against God, religion, the Qur'an, and prophetic teachings. Al-Razi, according to atheists and freethinkers, wrote three anti-religious books: 1) Makhraiqul Anbiya (The Prophets' Fraudulent Tricks), 2) Fī Ḥiyal al-Mutanabbīn (The Stratagems of Those Who Claim to Be Prophets), and 3) "On the Refutation of Revealed Religions." They claim that these books clearly prove that Al-Razi had anti-religious beliefs. Analysing the view of Atheists and Orientalists on Al-Razi The eminent Muslim scholar al-Biruni of his day was the first person in history to compile a list of Al-Razi’s books and research. According to al-Biruni's Bibliography of al-Razi (Risāla fī Fihrist Kutub al-Rāzī), al-Razi wrote two books: "Fī al-Nubuwwāt (On Prophecies) and "Fī Ḥiyal al-Mutanabbīn (On the Tricks of False Prophets). According to Biruni, the first "was claimed to be against religions" and the second "was claimed as attacking the necessity of the prophets." Al-Biruni was unsure of the anti-religious views of Al-Razi and therefore he used the word ‘claimed’. [5] In his Risala, Biruni also highlighted some religious works of Al-Razi on the ‘divine sciences’, such as ‘Fi Wujub Da‘wat al-Nabi ‘Ala Man Nakara bi al-Nubuwwat (Obligation to Propagate the Teachings of the Prophet Against Those who Denied Prophecies)’ and ‘Fi anna li al-Insan Khaliqan Mutqinan Hakiman (That Man has a Wise and Perfect Creator)’. These works of Al-Razi give arguments in favour of religion and the necessity of Prophets. [6] When these two writings of Razi are considered, he cannot be described as an atheist or someone who opposes Prophetic teachings and religions. Most of the anti-religious views and quotes that are often attributed to Al-Razi can be found in a book written by Abu Hatim Al-Razi, called Aʿlām Al-Nubuwwa (Signs of Prophecy), which chronicles a debate between Abu Hatim and Al-Razi. Abu Hatim was an Isma'ili missionary who argued Al-Razi, but it is debatable if he faithfully recorded the opinions of Al-Razi. [7] According to some historians, Abu Hatim's book should be taken with caution because he is a hostile source of Al-Razi's beliefs and must have depicted him as a heretic in order to reject his critique of the Ismailis. [8] Abdul Latif al-Abd, an Islamic philosophy professor at Cairo University states that Abu Hatim and his student, Hamid al-Din Karmani were Ismaili extremists who frequently misrepresented the opinions of al-Razi in their writings. [9] Early historians such as al-Shahrastani also supported this view, writing, that “such allegations should be doubted since they were made by Ismailis, who had been severely attacked by Muhammad ibn Zakariyya Razi”. [10] The views that are falsely attributed to al-Razi contradict what is found in Al-Razi’s own writings, such as Spiritual Medicine (Fi al-Tibb al-Ruhani), ‘Inna Lil Abd Khaliq (Undoubtedly the humans have a creator), and ‘Tabaqat al-Absaar (the layers of visions)’. The most important point to remember is that Al-Razi engaged in debates with Mu'tazilites, Ismailis, physicians, and theologians from many schools of thought, most of whom were orthodox Muslims. Except for the extremist Ismaili preacher Abu Hatim, none of them accused him of being an atheist or an enemy of religion. If Al-Razi had been an atheist, the Sunni academics in Iraq and Baghdad, the centres of jurisprudence, theology and hadith at the time, would not have stayed silent regarding Al-Razi, but would have challenged or addressed him somewhere in their writings. [11] To summarise, the notion that Al-Razi wrote the books critical of religions, God, and Prophets is a slander, and there is no authoritative evidence that Al-Razi truly penned these books. Al-Razi, on the other hand, penned numerous works defending Islam, God, and the Prophets. Among these books are ‘Inna Lil Abd Khaliq (Undoubtedly the humans have a creator), ‘Tabaqat al-Absaar (the layers of visions)’ and ‘Al-Tibb al-Ruhani (Spiritual medicine) which reflect his strong faith and belief in Islam. [1] https://sunnah.com/nasai:5711 [2] https://www.celebatheists.com/wiki/Muhammad_ibn_Zakariya_al-Razi [3] https://www.celebatheists.com/wiki/Muhammad_ibn_Zakariya_al-Razi [4] https://ilhaad.com/2019/04/abubakar-raazi-and-atheist-lies/ [5] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Bakr_al-Razi [6] [Deuraseh, Nurdeng (2008). "Risalat Al-Biruni Fi Fihrist Kutub Al-Razi: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Works of Abu Bakr Al-Rāzī (d. 313 A.h/925) and Al-Birūni (d. 443/1051)". Journal of Aqidah and Islamic Thought. 9: 51–100.] [7] [Marenbon, John (14 June 2012). The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 69–70. ISBN 9780195379488] [8] [Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Mehdi Amin Razavi, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, vol. 1, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 353] [9] [Abdul Latif Muhammad al-Abd (1978), Al-Tibb al-Ruhani li Abu Bakr al-Razi, Cairo: Maktabat al-Nahda al-Misriyya, pp. 4, 13, 18] [10] [Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Mehdi Amin Razavi, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, vol. 1, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 353] [11] https://ilhaad.com/2019/04/abubakar-raazi-and-atheist-lies/ ----- A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-personalities/zakariya-razi-muslim-scientist-atheist/d/127024 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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