Alas for Gaza

Our Loss of Moral Certitude

-last modf 2024-04-23 08:46 +0200, bit.ly/_lossmc   [011]  index
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Original Title
Alas for Gaza, Our Loss of Moral Certitude

Imām al-Awzāʿī, and the impotence of our international institutions

By Hasan Spiker, @RealHasanSpiker, Feb 21, 2024[14]
Copyright, the original text is unchanged except for new paragaphs, an image, and footnotes by the web editor.

In the eighth century, one Muslim man, one Muslim moral authority, singlehandedly barred an army of Abbasid soldiers from committing ethnic cleansing and collective punishment against the protected Christian population of Lebanon. His name was Imām al-Awzāʿī, and he was one of the most renowned scholar-sages of his time; indeed, the founder of a madhhab or school of legal thought that dominated the Levant and Andalus for a century.

A single man: not an international institution, a criminal court of justice, or a conference of ‘united’ nations.

Yet in 2024, thirteen hundred years later, all of the organizations, courts, and apparatuses of a nominal ‘international community’, showed themselves incapable of halting one of its minor member states from carrying out a relentless series of the most unspeakably savage and bloodthirsty atrocities seen since the Second World War, primarily against helpless children. Not a single man; hundreds of individuals in positions of great apparent influence and authority as defined by a ‘rules-based’ international system. But their words, and their measures, were without effect.
More than that: the worst atrocities, the worst images of the War, and the brazen insistence on the assault on Rafah came after the International Court of Criminal Justice found Israel to be culpable in plausible genocide.

Now what of Imām al-Awzāʿī’s powerful moral intervention? In 759, a Christian insurgent named Theodore had led the Christian population of Mount Lebanon in an uprising against the Abbasid authorities, a rebellion ostensibly engendered by crippling taxation. The mutiny was violent, and indiscriminate, not merely pursuing the authorities but moreover leading to the senseless killing of local Muslim villagers, and this prompted the Abbasid provincial governor Ṣāliḥ Ibn ʿAlī, to dispatch an army to quash the rebellion. Yet the governor soon wished to go further than that: he sought to exploit this unrest as an opportunity to expel the Christian population of Mount Lebanon altogether.

Lebanon-site-of-chouwanLebanon site of Chouwan

And it was at this point that the great imām of the Levant intervened.
‘How can the generality be punished for crimes that are particular,’ Imām al-Awzāʿī asked, in a famous letter to Ibn ʿAlī, ‘even, indeed, to the point where they are driven out of their homes and despoiled of their wealth?’ He then cited the Qur’anic verse, {No soul shall bear the sin of another}, and a celebrated teaching of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ concerning excellence in treatment of non-Muslim minorities: ‘Whomsoever oppresses the one with whom a covenant has been made, and burdens him beyond his capacity, I shall be his adversary.’ This moving conveyance of the Divine judgement, delivered by an imām of supreme moral authority, was sufficient to cause the Abbasids to altogether abandon their plans for ethnic cleansing and collective punishment.

For that was a time in which moral authority and moral certainties would straightforwardly trump ‘realist’ politics in any direct confrontation.
Our contemporary world, conversely, is locked in a war between natural law and the basest forms of Machiavellianism[1] —typically modified by arbitrarist Will-to-Powerism[2]— a war which is now in its final stages, because the decisive triumph of that neo-Machiavellianism is nigh.
Now, the post-WWII settlement had indeed attempted a resurrection— in charters of human rights, the UN, and international law—of a natural law which despite attempts at Medieval principial synthesis was impaired from its very advent by its naturalistic, immanentist origins and circular structure of justification.

The most eminent relics of pre-modernity, led by the renowned Thomist Jacques Maritain[3] no less, were resuscitated for the sake of the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[4], one last attempt to stem the tide of the post-moral techno-barbarism that had been unleashed in the two world wars. Therein, in order to make the attempt to command truly universal acceptability even under conditions of modernity, Maritain invoked jus gentium[5], an isthmus of commonly agreed principles intermediate between natural and positive law, in aid of placating those unable to make the sundry metaphysical commitments implied by traditions of natural law.[5]

But too late, at least in the historical scheme of things in the Western world, and to no lasting avail. We now live in an age in which even the most evident of moral certainties is ever-ripe to be interpreted as an arbitrary choice[6], permanently subject to the dismal cost-benefit and risk calculations of selfish prudentialism. And while by the dictates of natural moral hypocrisy (and no doubt, in some cases sincere high-mindedness) most would like to be seen to align with natural law and the moral high ground, in the domain of action, neo-Machiavellianism will always win. For the extramental[7] instantiation of morality demands as its prerequisite moral certitude; and in its absence, morality will never truly determine action.[8]

Yet signs of hope amass on the horizon.
In a signal that the illusion of liberalist justice and morality may soon be shattered once and for all, the contemporary liberal internationalist establishment seems to have suddenly lost the ability even to pretend to moral high-mindedness.
In what the Portuguese thinker Bruno Maçães has recently called the ‘end of hypocrisy’,[9] the US and its allies now largely prefer to profess and invoke simple might-is-rightism, over their previous genuflections to moral piety and the perpetuation of a common good for the world. Perhaps in this new clarity there is hope for the opening of new moral routes and possibilities.

In the foregoing I did not, of course, intend to compare the Christian rebels and the Abbasids to the Palestinians and Israel; for one thing, the Abbasid treatment of minorities under their jurisdiction was almost infinitely superior to the barbarism that has been shown to the Palestinians over the course of what Rashid Khalidi has called ‘the hundred years war on Palestine.’[10]

Rather, the event of Imām al-Awzāʿī’s decisive, and even more importantly, efficacious intervention goes to show just how much we have lost, under conditions of philosophical modernity and postmodernity, in the denial of the subordination of the political domain to the moral.[11] True peace is and always has been the harvest of true morality, and true morality that of knowledge of reality[12] and the timeless good. Regardless of our times and places, therefore, let us always embrace the risks of moral courage.

My thanks to Professor Mohamad Hammour of Usul Academy for supplying me with the premise for this article, and for introducing me to Imām al-Awzāʿī.[13]

We believe Islam is the answer and the way - and there is no god except Allah (God) - no reality, but the reality of the Real (Allah),
and Mohammad is certainly the Messenger of Allah (may His blessings & peace be upon him).
- Islam - The Way of the Prophets
- Islam the Natural, Easy Religion
- The Sum Of Islam



  1. Machiavellian ˌmakjəˈvɛlɪən:
    cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics: a whole range of outrageous Machiavellian manoeuvres.

    Many psychologists consider Machiavellianism to be essentially indistinguishable from psychopathy [mental illness or disorder], as they both share manipulative tendencies, disregard for morality [morality is the belief that some behaviour is right and acceptable and that other behaviour is wrong], and cold callousness as their primary attributes…
    - Lack of concern for conventional morality and low ideological commitment…
    - Manipulators do not empathize with their victims.
    - Manipulators are not concerned with the morality of behaviors such as lying and cheating.
    - Manipulators prefer to focus on getting things done pragmatically rather than focus on ideological allegiances.

    There is an immense and ongoing debate amongst researchers as to whether or not Machiavellianism and psychopathy should be treated as the same construct, or at least view Machiavellianism as a trait of psychopathy. When tested, High Machs scored consistently high on measures of psychopathy, more than Low Machs…
    Machiavellianism (psychology) - Wikipedia

  2. When describing 'Will to Power', one should be careful not to dismiss the "dark side" of it. Torture, cruelty, lies, etc., are all aspects of the WTP. Will to power is nothing moral, or better, morality is just an aspect of the will to power, which is a will to grow inherent in life. Amygdaled
    What does Nietzsche mean by the "will to power?"
    □ comment: It is essentially the desire of the lower soul (nafs) for power, disregarding the source of all power, or the Lord of Power, the All-Powerful.

  3. ”Western humanism has religious and transcendent sources without which it is incomprehensible to itself.”
    Jacques Maritain - Wikiquote

  4. Article 30
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights | United Nations

  5. 1. The law of nations
    In Roman law jus gentium referred to the rules and laws that were common to the various nations or peoples under the Roman empire and were used in cases between non-Roman citizens or between a Roman and a non-Roman citizen. (Literally, law of nations)
    Jus gentium Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

    2. St. Thomas Aquinas
    Anton-Hermann Chroust:

    The whole of St. Thomas Aquinas's philosophy of law rests upon the notion of an absolute, eternal, and wise order or government within the created Universe, ordained by God Himself. Everything that exists or moves exists and moves by this sublime government which directs everything to its proper end.

    This government of all things in God and through the Divine reason [more corret: Divine Reason] has the nature of a law. And since the Divine reason is not subject to time, but is eternal, the law by which God governs the Universe must also be eternal.'

    Hence the eternal government of everything, which like every Divine concept is true by reason[n1] of itself, is but the Divine wisdom and providence directing all actions and movements.' This is the "lex aeterna" the Divine law of St. Thomas.' It constitutes the final authority to which man has to turn "in order ...that (he might) ...know without any doubt what he ought to do and what he ought to avoid."

    All men, some more, and some less, know of the "lex aeterna." For God has implanted in the soul of man the principles of proper action. This is man's partaking of the "lex aeterna"- a participation which is called the "natural law," and by virtue of which we have within us a knowledge of certain general principles and precepts of right and justice. No-one can know the "lex aeterna" as it is, in its entirety; but every rational being knows it in its reflection or effects.'

    All laws, insofar as they partake of right reason, are derived or proceed from the eternal law. For nothing is just and lawful but what has been drawn from the "lex aeterna."

    We remember that St. Thomas Aquinas's basic precept of his natural moral law is, "that good is to be done and ensued, and evil is to be avoided."
    "This constitutes the most self-evident and at the same time indemonstrable proposition; that is to say, the first precept of natural law.

    "All other precepts of natural law are based upon this: so that whatever the practical reason naturally apprehends as man's good (or evil) belongs to the precepts of the natural law as something to be done or avoided."

    "From this fundamental precept are derived "certain most general principles known to all," that is to say, the "primary" natural (moral) law. These general principles of right and lawful action are discovered by reason. They can never entirely be blotted out of the hearts of man. Neither could they change, for they are valid for all times and places.

    Summa Theologica, I. II., quaest. 90-94
    Ius Gentium in the Philosophy of Law of St. Thomas Aquinas, Anton-Hermann Chroust

    3. Quran appeals to reason
    Sh Abdul Hakim Murad
    Abu Hanifa says because the Quran appeals to reason and says to the people of Mecca that they should be using their reason in order to determine whether their gods actually make sense or whether Allah (swt) can actually resurrect people from the dead. It's a text that invites us to use our reason, that we need to use this in the law as well.
    Sh Abdul Hakim Murad, The Quran Appeals to Reason

  6. arbitrary choice
    Existing or coming about seemingly at random or by chance or as a capricious and unreasonable act of will, an arbitrary choice. When a task is not seen in a meaningful context it is experienced as being arbitrary.

  7. "the extramental instantiation of morality"
    [ □ comment: when the sources of right and wrong (morality) don't only rely on ratio /rationality or reason, but first of all on the source of divine revelation - which is the Islamic tradition, `aql wa naql [fn5 > 3.].]

  8. Instead, actions will be determined by haphazardness, arbitrariness, and by the whims of one's lower ego (nafs).

  9. Bruno Maçães
    There is something surprising in the way Western democracies have reacted to events in Israel since the start of the military operation in Gaza. I call it the end of hypocrisy. Take President Joe Biden. On two occasions he has publicly said that Israel is conducting “indiscriminate bombings” in Gaza, a war crime under international law. Lawyers have even argued his statements amount to a confession of aiding and abetting war crimes, no small matter…
    Gaza and the End of Western Fantasy | TIME

  10. The Hundred Years' War on Palestine
    A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017
    Author: Rashid Khalidi
    'Read Excerpt'
    The Hundred Years' War on Palestine

  11. "in the denial of the subordination of the political domain to the moral"
    meaning: when the universal principles of right and wrong or true and false are no longer the governing guidelines in politics (or in financial and economical affairs.)

  12. Re: knowledge of reality

    رَّبِّي زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
    My Lord, Increase me in knowledge!

  13. A PDF of this article is available here:
    drive.google.com Feb 21, 2024

  14. @RealHasanSpiker

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions.

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