The ability of language to describe the sorrow, grief and loss of the suicide attack in Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park on Sunday in which 72 persons, mostly children and women, were killed and more than 300 were injured, is depressingly limited. Grief can never truly be described, it can only be felt or shared. In order to provide comfort in time of grief the Boots, that otherwise run amok, have decided to launch a purge “in fair Verona, where we lay our scene.” What their calculus misses, as most violent calculuses do, is that at the heart of this carnage, just like the heart of every carnage man has wrought on man, lies a deeply flawed philosophical, theological, and ethical thought.

One solution, the simpler choice, is that we too, just like the gaggle of the turbaned two-thousand or so, could take to the streets, protest and revolt. But revolutions are a bloody business, for as we know, when “the Tree of Liberty demands the blood of Patriots and of Tyrants”, it also takes more than a few pints of civil-blood to go along with it. And since a lot of blood has already been shed we must try a different recourse to this malaise; a cure steeped in gradualism, with laser-like focus: The reintroduction of Kalamand Falsafa back into our jostling with scripture.

Fourteen centuries ago, when Muslims turned to the Quran and Sunnah to solve their legal issues, they began to recognise that these divine proponents did not deal adequately with certain topics of law, society or its institutions. Therefore, Muslims began to find other ways and sources for ijtihadsuch as ra’y, which allowed for personal judgment of Islamic law. For the first few centuries individual sound legal, and/or philosophical opinion could be injected into interpretationwhen the Qur’an and Sunnah contained no explicit text regarding that particular issue, and which permeated with all the problems that permeate language itself. Therefore, during the first two and a half centuries of Islam there were no restrictions placed on scholars interested in practicing ijtihad. Beginning in the 9th century, jurists began to make more restrictions on who could practice ijtihad and the kinds of qualifications necessary. Therefore, the practice of ijtihad became limited to a qualified scholar and jurist otherwise known as a mujtahid.It was not until the end of the eighteenth century that the title of mujtahid became associated with the term faqih, or one who is an expert in jurisprudence. From this point on religious courts began to increase in number and the ulamawere transformed by Islamic authorities into the new and only producer of ijtihad.The school of thought that later became most popular then decided to then effectively narrow the doors ofijtihad, and later completely shut themfrom exegesis. This constriction happened because ‘who could engage in reasoning with scripture’ became extremely limited to the “intellectual-elite, who subsequently managed to really narrow the definition of who could be an “intellectual-elite” and since Kalam and Falsafa, deeply rooted in free speech, could be used to check their dominance, they were discarded absolutely. Consider, the principle of taqlid, followed by the leading schools of thought today, literally means “to follow”. In Islamic legal terminology it means to follow a mujtahid in religious laws and commandment as he has derived them, that is, following the decisions of a religious expert without necessarily examining the scriptural basis or reasoning of that decision, such as accepting and following the verdict of scholars of jurisprudence (fiqh) without demanding an explanation of the processes by which they arrive at it, hence adherence to one of the classical schools (madhhab) of jurisprudence. Kalam and Falsafa, inseparable from the freedom of speech were the exact antithesis to such principles.

Kalam - (literally the study of “speech” or “words”) is the Islamic philosophical discipline of seeking theological principles through thedialectic. It is an affirmation of the freedom of the human will.Kalām in Islamic practice, relates to the discipline of seeking theological, legal, or any other type of knowledge through debate and argument. A scholar of Kalāmis referred to as a mutakallim.

When we lost Ilm-ul-Kalam, we also lost with it the right to dissent and disagree. A re-injection of Kalam would compel all of us to become “mutakallimiin”, to push us to“see each other”, check each other’s prejudices,and to defend the principles of Kalam against the militant Islam of our day. This appellation became the common name for all seeking philosophical, rational and/or empirical demonstration in confirmation of religious principles. It will also force us to turn away from the scores of televangelists - Amir Liaquat and ilk - who have shrink-wrapped our minds with rigid, totalitarian, literalist theology that rejects exegesis via reason. Kalam, would also replace the “sage on the stage” and their bilious drool and dribble. Thereby, underscoring our role as bewildered sheep, by forcing us to use our innate rational capacities to choose for our own selves the values we think Islam holds.

Falsafa,on the other hand became a serious considerationfrom the 9th century onward.Owing to Caliph al-Ma’mun and his successor, Greek philosophy was introduced among the Arabs, and the Peripatetic School began to find able representatives among them; such were Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, IbnSina (Avicenna), and IbnRushd (Averroës). And if one were to make a quantum leap in logic by summarising the philosophical scheme of the Peripatetic School it would resemble the following:

1) God is an Absolute Unity, and no human attribute can be ascribed to Him.

2) Man is a Free Agent.

3) All knowledge necessary for the Salvation of Man emanates from his Reason, specifically when applied to scripture; however, knowledge can beacquired before, as well as after, Revelation. This fact makes knowledge, and the development of Reason obligatory upon all peoples, at all times, and in all places.

Using Kalam and Falsafathese muslim societies were able to forge a “compelling humanism, precious in their age and deserving recovery and reconstruction in our own.” The risāla or essay form, used by philosophers from al-Kindīto the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾand IbnṬufayl, for example. Or Taʾdīb, the Arabic counterpart of the Greek paideia, which relied on the pedagogical value of literature and history to convey lessons better learned from shared than from personal experience. The practices of science, logic and falsafaimbued the work of al-Fārābīand IbnSīnāwith a commitment to evidence and argument. Thus, the driveof their reasoning was rooted in a humanism, affirming individual moral responsibility and the inestimable worth of the human person. For almost 400 years scholars thought anything contrary to humanist values, that emphasise the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and of critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition, could not have been Islam.

A summary of this emphasis can be foundAl-Hashimi‘s (a cousin of Caliph al-Ma’mun) following letter to one of the religious opponents he was attempting to convert through Reason, much like myself:

“Bring forward all the arguments you wish, and say whatever you please and speak your mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say whatever you please, appoint some arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only towards the truth and be free from the emery of passion, and that arbitrator shall be Reason, whereby God makes us responsible for our own rewards and punishments.

Herein I have dealt justly with you and have given you full security and am ready to accept whatever decision Reason may give for me or against me. For “There is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2:256) and I have only invited you to accept our faith willingly, and of your own accord, and have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief. Peace be with you and the blessings of God!”

No amount of guns, bombs, tanks, “turbaned turks”, accountants, physicists, dropped on the “outward-world’ of materialism and physicalism can change the “inward world” of belief. Ergo,to reach the black heart of this carnage, Kalam and Falsafa are the only real hope.