Translated by Saiyid Hasan Ali Rizvi
Religion is not just [a set of] rules. The rulings themselves are only useful for someone who has a correct belief system. Otherwise, with an incorrect system of beliefs, none of these rules have any special value, even if performed perfectly. In addition, if someone has [an incorrect understanding] of moral principles, then again there’s no benefit, like the narration states: “Jealousy devours faith just as fire devours wood.” Thus, we say that if in Islam there are these 3 categories [Ahkaam, Aqaaid, & Akhlaaq], shouldn’t we study all of them in the religious seminaries?
Should we follow someone else (perform taqleed) in these discussions or research for ourselves (perform ijtihaad), just like in matters of fiqh? In ahkaam, they say that a non-expert should refer to an expert and follow him; however, in beliefs (aqaaid), not a single person allows taqleed. So first, the hawzah must be able to clarify & explain these beliefs to show its strength so that it does not succumb to the criticisms and objections of enemies. At the very least, a seminary student should [himself] be immune & protected. Are we in need of this field of study that provides & secures this immunity & protection or not? Right now, what knowledge or field of study do you have that can provide this need?
Second, do you have a language other than the language of the intellect that allows you to speak with atheists and people that don’t accept God and the holy prophet (s)? Can you answer the questions about the existence of God and the [need] for prophets with anything other than the language of rationality? Hasn’t the 7th Imam (a) himself said that the intellect is the inner, hidden prophet? Why should we throw the intellect aside?! Isn’t it this very intellect that guided us to the fact that God exists? Isn’t it this very intellect that identified and introduced us to the prophet (s) so that we can say that ‘this person is a prophet because of this reason’? With what medium do we understand that this person is a prophet or not? With what tool do we recognize miracles?
The credibility, value, and authority of the intellect is intrinsic & inherent, just like how the scholars of usool (the principles & fundamentals of jurisprudence) say in the beginning of their discussions regarding the intellect. So now, when the validity of something is innate, can it be abandoned? Can we say, as the tafkeekis (Muslim Scholars opposed to philosophy & broad usage of the intellect in religious issues) say, that we will employ the intellect up until it brings us to God and the prophet (s), and after that, we have nothing to do with the intellect? We say, is the intellect something that’s in your hands where you can say to it, “I’m with you up until here, but from here on out, I’m not with you!” The intellect is a prophet. The intellect has inherent authority. Whenever something is understood, it becomes a proof. How is it that up until now, something which you understood, was a proof, but from here on out it’s no longer a proof? Was the authority of the intellect based on someone’s permission or a [man made] contract?
Therefore, we most certainly need specialists in aqaaid, moral philosophy (falsafeh ye akhlaaq), and akhlaaq itself. We require religious sciences other than ahkaam and the hawzah must train individuals that can provide answers in these [disciplines], explain aqaaid & akhlaaq, and defend against objections that are put forth.
We should also note that what was just said doesn’t mean that anyone can enter these disciplines, similar to how not everyone should enter fiqh, because fiqh needs a specific potential and a particular propensity & proclivity. A person must be ready and prepared to enter the science of jurisprudence. More important than [the traditional, lesser fiqh, which is just about discovering rulings] is the greater fiqh, [which is having a deep & complete understanding of the Islamic sciences]. If someone wants to dive into issues in Islamic Epistemology and Theology, they should have a penchant & predilection towards them and be [properly] equipped. What we mean to say is that the hawzah should possess [these types of] individuals, not that it’s the responsibility of the individuals [themselves]. Mulla Sadra (q) himself, in volume 3 of Asfaar & at the end of the section on knowledge, knower, and known, has said, “The intellectual sciences are haraam for most people.” For most people it’s forbidden to start philosophy. However, when someone comes forth and states that it should be completely tossed aside, it stems from their concerns about how the intellect is capable of making mistakes. We say that, in which field of study is there no chance of error? In all the various sciences, are the views one & the same? When an issue is presented in fiqh, does everyone offer the same opinion? Even though God has given only 1 ruling in reality, you see that sometimes there exist different views equal to the number of fuqahaa (jurists/mujtahids). Therefore, either all of these opinions are in opposition to Allah’s ruling or all are incorrect but 1. So, how is it that here no one makes a fuss? [In fact,] they have no right to complain. A person needs to exert the utmost effort and perform ijtihad (legal deduction) so that they can uncover God’s ruling and true Islam. But, will they definitely reach that understanding? No, not necessarily. Thus, just like the case is here with [differences in] fiqhi opinions, there will be a multitude of views there, [in philosophy].
Now, if you don’t like 1 of the positions [of the philosophers] and say that it’s in opposition to a verse of the Quran, it should be mentioned that [there are other viewpoints available]. You don’t have to accept that 1 opinion. But, this doesn’t mean that you should completely do away with philosophy. It’s similar to a faqeeh claiming that jurisprudence should be stopped because 1 mujtahid has given a ruling that I don’t agree with. The question is this: Because that 1 fatwa is incorrect, should the science of fiqh be shut down?! This type of logic is neither rational nor reasonable. The field of study & science itself must exist; however, people should put forth the effort to reduce any shortcomings while attempting to ascertain reality. People need to increase their struggle in order to reach the truth.