Archive for October, 2006

Cause Effects:

Posted by Magellanic Cloud on October 17, 2006

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Cause Effects:

Such ‘associations of information’ that can be extended to other similar nature sets of information, if generalized become the cause effect relationships. For example, I see a meson constructing a building. This is ‘association of information’ because ‘construction of a particular building’ is associated with the efforts of a ‘particular meson’. But if I generalize this ‘association of information’ and say that all similar buildings have been constructed by the efforts of similar mesons or say that ‘buildings are constructed by mesons’, this generalized information, then would become a ’cause effect relationship’. This type of cause effect relationships which are usually the ‘generalized associations of information’ are first type of cause effect relationships and can be considered as ‘event flow’ type of cause effect relationships because according to these type of relationships, one type of event (i.e. the effect) would occur as a result of the application of another event (i.e. the cause). Since one type of event has been occurred due to the application or occurrence of another event, that is why these types of cause effect relationships have been termed as ‘event flow’ type of cause effect relationships.

It is important to note that in the case of some of these event flow type of cause effect relationships, humans also can get the ‘control’ over the flow of such events by practically applying these relationships. Humans, in this case also can predict about the future ‘events’ because in such relationships, the ‘effect’ event has to be followed by the ’cause’ event. For example to ensure the occurrence of a particular event lets say to construct a building (i.e. the effect), you need to acquire the services of a meson (i.e. the cause), in this way you can practically apply this event flow type of cause effect relationship. Similarly by having observed ‘lightening’, we can predict about the occurrence of ‘thunder’ etc. The nature of these first types of cause effect principles is that these are usually the generalizations of experience-based phenomenon. Note that ‘generalization’ is a form of ‘combination of information’. There is another sub-category of event flow type of cause effect relationships, which are not just ‘experience based’ but are the ‘analogical inferences’ by their very nature. The practical new ideas fall in this category of cause effect relationships because practical new ideas are analogical inferences and can be practically applied by human beings. But the analogy based event flow type cause effect relationships may also be invalid. The example of this kind of invalid cause effect principle is the similarity-based magic. In the similarity-based magic, wrong analogical inferences are derived in such a way that it is concluded that the occurrence of certain events would serve the purpose of cause for the occurrence of another particular event, i.e. the effect. Since the analogical inference is wrong so these ‘relationships’ most probably may not be successfully practically applied and in some cases, if the expected results are obtained by practically applying such a wrong principle then this ‘successful’ application in fact is just a ‘by chance’ occurrence.

There is another type of cause effect relationships, which is only pure reason based. This second type of cause effect relationships tells us the underlying scientific ’cause’ of what is observable or identifiable in nature. In this case, both cause and effect do not need any kind of human efforts for their existence. These types of cause effect relations are not ‘event flows’ but are in fact the scientific answers to the question why the event flows occur in such regular way. For example we see a ball falling towards the ground. This is an association of information. The separate pieces of information of (1) ‘ball’, (2) ‘falling’ and (3) ‘ground’, have been ‘associated’, in this case, in a meaningful way. Now we generalize this ‘associated information’ and say: “all objects fall towards ground”. This generalized knowledge is the ‘event flow type’ cause effect relationship.

Now we ask why all objects fall towards ground? The answer to this question, which is a ‘reason based knowledge’, tells us that object fall towards earth due to the gravitational pull of the earth. Thus a generalized representation of this answer which states that “all objects fall towards earth due to the gravitational pull of earth”, becomes the second type of cause effect relationship.

The real difference between first type and second type of cause effect relationships is that the first type is the ‘event flow type’ cause effect relationship whereas the second type cause effect relationships are the answers to the question why those event flows occur in such regular way? The other difference is that ‘event flow type’ cause effect relationships are the ‘generalizations’ of experience based ‘associations of information’ as well as the practically testable analogical inferences whereas second type of cause effect relationships are pure reason based.

The ‘event flow type’ cause-effect relationships can be of scientific or superstitious in nature. Event flow type cause effect relations, however cannot be metaphysical in nature. There can be no metaphysical event flow type cause-effect relationships because by doing the required act (i.e. cause) the task (i.e. effect) shall occur or shall not occur. In first case where the task has occurred, the cause-effect relationship is scientific because its practical validity has been verified. In second case where the task has not occurred, the cause-effect relationship is invalid and so is superstitious in nature because its practical validity has not been confirmed. Only above two situations are possible in the case of ‘event flow type’ cause-effect relationships. In case of event flow type cause-effect relations; there can be no such situation where occurrence of effect cannot be verified due to the occurrence of the cause. So there can be no metaphysical event flow type cause effect relationships. Suppose if the occurrence of the effect is not verifiable due to the occurrence of the cause then in this case, actually it is not an ‘event flow type cause-effect relationship’ at all because the effect event has not been ‘observed’ to be followed by the cause event.

The second type cause-effects are mostly scientific and metaphysical theories. Pure metaphysical theories are those that have nothing to do with the verifiable observable phenomenon whereas pure such scientific theory is one which has to fully account for the entire related observable phenomenon. If some elements of any ‘metaphysical’ theory tell something, which is verifiable or observable phenomenon, then those elements can be ‘scientific’, in case the observable phenomenon is verified as true, and can also be ‘superstitious’, in case the observable phenomenon is verified to be false. In case some elements of the metaphysical theory have been proved to be superstitious then that metaphysical theory is superstitious up to this extent. But in case the superstitious elements are the major integral part of that metaphysical theory, then in fact, the whole metaphysical theory is superstitious in nature.

If a ‘scientific theory’, in case of second type cause-effects does not account for the entire related observable phenomenon then this ‘scientific’ theory cannot be considered accurate. To some extent, this theory is metaphysical, in fact. But if such a ‘scientific theory’ does not rightfully explain the observable phenomenon then it is an inaccurate theory. It should be noted that in case of this kind of scientific theories, we couldn’t test their validity through laboratory method. All what we can do in this case is to see whether such a theory rightly accounts for and explain the entire related observable phenomenon or not. We cannot apply laboratory method in this case because these are not event flow type theories. In laboratory method, we only can verify event flow type theories because in the laboratory method, the controlled environment (which is named as ‘laboratory’) is designed just to study or to verify the occurrence of the expected events as a result of the application of the proposed events. Although to some extent, the term ‘laboratory method’ is applicable to the purposeful study of anything with the view to identify various components and functions thereof, of the thing under study. Anything whose components have been empirically identified as underlying ’cause’ of the observable phenomenon, such cause effect relations would belong to first type of cause effect relations for the reason that the study of empirically identified components and their functions would be a form of ‘experience based’ and so observable phenomenon, in fact. For example the underlying cause of various diseases are ‘bacteria’ but this ‘underlying cause’ would not belong to above-referred second type of cause effect relations because through the usage of laboratory equipment, the function of bacteria now has become an ‘observable’ phenomenon. On the other hand, ‘gravitation’, which is considered as the underlying cause of why objects fall towards earth, is not anything which could be ‘observed’ through any laboratory equipment. So the study of ‘gravitation’ is not the study of any observable phenomenon. The observable phenomenon is only that the “objects fall towards earth”. The underlying ’cause’ for the ‘falling objects’ i.e. ‘gravitation’ is a pure reason based concept and so the ‘causal’ relationship between falling objects and ‘gravitation’ would be one of above explained ‘second type of cause effect relations’.


Posted in -Home-, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science, Theory of Knowledge | 2 Comments »

Difference between a ‘Story’ and a ‘Novel’:

Posted by Magellanic Cloud on October 8, 2006

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‘Story’ is a description of some inter-related course of events that usually has a meaningful (happy or tragic) end. ‘Novel’ is different from ‘story’ in that it is not just description of ‘events’ because it also describes the details of environment plus the feelings, emotions and thinking of various characters. A good novel makes us feel that we are also a part of that environment. Some novels may not have any end. Story of novel proceeds slowly due to its details about environment etc.

Also see some relations and differences between Novel and Drama on this post.

Other Related Posts:

Doesn’t a Novel become bore because story proceeding in a Novel is quite slow?

Posted in -Home-, Literature, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Various General Topics | 10 Comments »

Sufism in Islam

Posted by Magellanic Cloud on October 1, 2006

Sufism in Islam

Sufism first emerged after 1st century of Islam. Originally it was in the form of a movement as a reaction to those people who were very good in their compliance to observing the ‘external’ (zahir) aspects of religion such as in the offer of prayers etc. but were morally not so good in their other worldly affairs because they lack the spiritual basis for their ethical conduct.

In this way, Sufism, originally just emphasized on the importance of ‘inner’ (batan) aspects of spiritual life as compared to external aspects of the code of Shariah. With the passage of time, this movement deviated much from external code of shariah and some of the Sufis started giving superiority to ‘Tareeqah’ (‘internal’ or ‘batan’ aspects of reality) as compared with code of Shariah. Sufis first reached at the concept of ‘negation of self’ (nafi-e-zaat) in the process of the development of Spiritual life. Later on some Sufis like Mansoor Hilaj asserted that ultimate (logical) conclusion of the ‘negation of self’ was the ‘union of essence’ (ithad of Sufi & God). Hilaj was assassinated for he said: “Ana-al-Haq”.

Some Sufis got evidence out of the teachings of Quran that inner spiritual aspects could be superior, in some aspects, to the external aspects of even a Prophet (Nabi). This evidence was related to Quranic description of Hazrat Khizar who guided Hazrat Musa (RA) in some aspects. Hazrat Khizar was not a Prophet (Nabi), and all his guidance to Hazrat Musa, apearently was going against the teachings of the shariah of Hazrat Musa. But at the same time, as per the teachings of Quran, the guidance of Hazrat Khizar was right.

This fact led many Sufis to reach at this conclusion that some spiritual non-prophet personalities could be superior, in some aspects, even to a prophet.

Sufis then call the way of ‘spiritual life’ as ‘Tareeqah’ and the way of ‘external’ compliance to religion as ‘Shariah’.

Early Sufi discussion topics included such topics also as comparison of Shariah vs Tareeqat, Comparison of Prophet vs Sufi, Comparison of wahi vs wajad etc. etc.

Islamic School of thought ‘Hambalism’ was totally against all the forms of Sufism as this school of thought was in favor of only the external compliance to the teachings and code of Shariah. Sufism however got its somewhat place in all the other schools of thought.

Imam Ghazali finally took major step in resolving the issues of the comparisons of Shariah vs Tareeqat etc. by accepting the legitimate role of Tareeqah BUT AS A SUBORDINATE TO THE CODE OF SHARIAH. In this way, Imam Ghazali is often given the credit that he entered spirituality into otherwise complete external oriented code of Shariah.

Is Sufism allowed in Islam?

As has been mentioned that only Humbalites rejected all the forms of Sufism. The ideology of this school of thought later on promoted by such scholars as Ibn-Hazm, Ibn-e-Taymiah and Imam Abdul-Wahab etc. According to these scholars and their followers, Sufism has no place in Islam. But on the other hand, Sufism, in one or the other forms, has ever been present in mainstream Ahl-e-Sunnat Wa-al-Jamaat as well as in Shiaism. Main scholars who promoted the point of view of Imam Ghazali in their respective styles were Data Gang Bakhsh, Sheikh Ahmed Serhindi, Shah Wali-Ullah etc.

Since Sufis tend to derive their ideological basis out of the teachings of Islam and since mainstream Muslim scholars never have fully rejected Sufism so it’s meaning would be that it is allowed in Islam. But extreme forms of Sufism that clearly go against all the norms of Quranic teachings, may not be allowed by Islam.

Some elements of Muslim Sufi thought can be traced back to Greek mysticism as well as Indian Vadentas. Sufism is organized in Murshad Mureed based Sufi orders. Some major Sufi Orders are following:

i). Qadiria (from Hazrat Ghausae Pak-Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jillani r.a.)
ii). Chishtia (Hazrat Abu Ishaq Shami r.a. who brought Sufism to the town of Chisht and the most famous Chishti saint is Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti r.a.)
iii). Naqshbandi
iv). Suhrawadri (Hazrat Shahab al-Din Yahya as-Suhrawardi r.a.)

Other famous Sufi Orders are Oveyssia (Hazrat Owais Qurni r.a.), Shadhilia, Jerrahia, Ashrafia, Nimatullahia and Mevlevi (Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī r.a.).

Sufi line of thought considers it necessary that individual should endeavor to find a perfect spiritual guide or teacher who must be alive in his period. Wasif Ali Wasif, while discussing this issue, gives the reference of Sura-e-Fatha where individuals ask from Allah to show the path of those people who are gifted by God. Wasif Ali Wasif says that only personal and direct observance of those people who have been gifted by God could show individual the right way of life. Wasif Ali Wasif further says that people who are gifted by God can be found in all the times. World cannot be empty of such people in any time till the day of judgment. It is therefore, the duty of individual to find one such perfect (kamil) person whose submissions for God Almighty should be beyond any doubt. After having found one such perfect personality, the individual should take ‘bait’ in the hands of that personality and should accept him his ‘Murshad’. While describing the underlying philosophy for the need of ‘Murshad’, Wasif Ali Wasif says that an individual cannot find solution to any spiritual problem using his own rationality. He says that the cpabilities of an individual’s intellect are limited and if an individual is let to rely on his own intellect, soon he will be trapped by the false self-pride of his own personal ego. On the other hand, a person who is already gifted by God, must be having Divine guidance along with his intellect. In this way, the individual should sacrifice all his own views and beliefs and should only follow the teachings of his Murshad. He should follow the direction shown by Murshad even if it seems him to be wrong because in this system, the individual has to sacrifice his own intellect before the spiritual guidance of Murshad. This system is based on perfect trust. Mureed has complete trust in the status of Murshad that he is really God gifted. So if in reality, the true status of Murshad was not so high, even than the Mureed will be hopeful for the eternal solvation because he was having complete trust in the high spiritual status of his Murshad.

There are different Sufi Orders which are headed by different Murshads. After the death of Murshad, a caliph (Gaddi nasheen) assumes the charge of that Sufi Order. And as there are different Sufi Orders, there is difference in certain beliefs, mathodologies and practices in different Sufi Orders. The follower of one Sufi Order is usually supposed to follow the directions of his own Murshad. If there happens to be clash between the teachings of two different Murshads, then individual should follow the directions of his own Murshad but at the same time, should let the followers of other Sufi Orders to follow the directions of their own respective Murshads. Wasif Ali Wasif explains it by giving an example. A follower of Naqshbandia Order (where Qawali is considered illegitimate) spent a night in Qawali Mehfil of Chistia Order (where Qawali is legitimate). The head of Chistia Order did not like it and asked that person that since he was follower of Naqshbandia Order, so he should not have come to Qawali Mehfil. In principle, the follower of one particular order should completely follow the directions of his own Order and at the same time, should not raise any objections on the different practices of other Orders.

Hazrat Shah wali Ullah (RA), however tried to resolve internal differences of various Sufi Orders. Particularly he tried to resolve the differences between Naqshbandia’s “Wahdat-ul-Shahood” and “Wahad-ul-Wajood” of rest of Sufi orders.

In our times, perhaps Sufism has lost its lively and creative spirit. There are still Sufi Orders whose activities are limited to Qawalies, Orrs etc. etc. The last real Sufi was perhaps Hazrat Wasif Ali Wasif. But as Wasif Ali Wasif says that world cannot be empty of God gifted people in any time till the day of judgment, so seekers of spiritual guidance can hope that many real spiritual personalities still be living in our contemporary world. Therefore it is upto the efforts of aspirants that how they struggle for finding a perfect spiritual guide for them. A famous Sufi Scholar of Sub-Continent Sharf-ud-Din Yehya Muniri, in 14th century AD had spent about 30 or 40 years in Jungles with the view to search a Murshad for him. Sharf-ud-Din Yehya Muniri then had a deep influence on the thinking of Sheikh Ahmed Serhindi because it was Muniri who had developed the early foundations for “Wahdat-ul-Shahood” Sufi ideology. Sheik Ahmed Serhindi only had further explored the early works of Muniri. Anyways, there are many other examples of such tedius but successful searches for Murshad, in the history of Muslim Sufism.

Posted in -Home-, Muslim Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Sufism | 8 Comments »