The Problem of Reductionism in Philosophy of Mind and its Implications for Theism and the Principle of Soul


This essay seeks to delineate points of entry for Muslim theological reasoning into conversations in the field of philosophy of mind.

By equating the Kalam principle of soul with its foremost faculty, intellection, Muslim theological reasoning lends itself well to these modes of inquiry.

By looking at the work of Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam, the collapse of “reductionism” is shown to give way to the concept of a non-physical mind, as well as an indication toward the sustainable plausibility of theism in general.

The essay demonstrates that contemporary obstacles and challenges to the theological principle of a human soul are surmountable,and adds to mounting scholarship in the field that calls into question the physicalist interpretation of the universe.

Vocational Society

A speech addressing the social philosophies and institutions, many of them common to Muslims and Christians, comprising a vocational and godly society.

Metaphysical Dimensions of Muslim Environmental Consciousness

Much of the contemporary Muslim discourse surrounding the environment takes place at the level of ethical duty—juristic commands and prohibitions. The present essay seeks to complement and underpin this necessary ethical discourse by offering considerations as to the metaphysical dimensions of a Muslim environmental consciousness.

Through a beautiful and lucid engagement with the Qur’an, the Prophetic sunnah, and the insights of some of Islam’s greatest mystical poets, a vista unfolds in which the natural order is perceived as a locus of the theophany of the divine names. In light of this connection, the Shari‘ah’s teachings as to man’s relationship with creation as steward (khalīfah) may be both better understood and experienced.

Obligations to Future Generations: A Shari‘ah Perspective

Actions of an earlier generation affect whether later generations will exist at all as well as the quality and type of life they will have. Discussions concerning the obligations earlier generations owe later generations have proven to be useful when thinking about the environment, economics, sustainability, and other issues.

Western thinking about obligations to future generations has become very sophisticated since the 1970s. Western ethicists consider it a litmus test for evaluating ethical theories, and expect it to be a main recurring theme in the new century.

The Shari’ah already provides the fundamentals for thinking about obligations to future generations. These basic fundamentals are not developed enough to shed light on these issues within the Muslim Community, let alone compete in the open market of ideas. Shari‘ah experts will need to develop these fundamentals before a Shari‘ah-informed conception of obligations to future generations can be offered.

Living Islam with Purpose

This paper offers an operational framework for establishing an authentic expression of indigenous Muslim culture. This framework consists of five operational principles, which are discussed at length and illustrated with examples: trusting reason, respecting dissent, stressing societal obligations, setting priorities, and embracing maxims.

These five principles are central to the Islamic tradition and embody the practical wisdom and consummate sensibility of the Prophetic teaching. The paper emphasizes the need for Muslim communities as a whole to become directly involved in their self-definition and the construction of their future as individuals and communities. This task cannot be left to others or to chance; the five operational principles provide an invaluable resource for determining the way forward. While the paper focuses on the American Muslim community, the framework is relevant to Muslims everywhere, especially those in the West.

Beyond Flak Attack: A New Engagement with the Newsroom

This essay is written for Muslim activists and scholars who are alarmed at today’s headlines and would like to engage the mass media in the hope of balancing its predominantly negative reporting with positive stories pertaining to Islam and Muslims.

America’s Priorities in the Future of US-Muslim Relations

A summary and analysis of Changing Course: A New Direction for US Relations with the Muslim World, a report of a 34-member bipartisan leadership group recommending best strategies for improving America’s relationships with Muslim countries and communities.

Ethical Dimensions of Nanotechnology

This brief paper introduces the subject of Nanotechnology and its ethical implications as an applied technology. It goes on to explore and present a blueprint for the theological, legal and ethical issues which Muslim scholars may need to address, as well as a framework through which scholars can determine relevant solutions.

Nanotechnology comprises several fields where matter is viewed and manipulated at the extremely small scale of billionths of a meter. At this scale matter exhibits phenomena and properties that can be used for new applications. Nanotechnology has already made its way into common consumer products such as stain-free cloth, sunscreen, and computer chips. Unfortunately, nothing conclusive is known about the additional health and environmental risks of matter at such a small scale. Concern about these risks, and about how nanotechnology will be used and its impact on society have prompted several invitations for public discussions on the ethical dimensions of nanotechnology. Religious perspectives have been requested. Muslim scholars and opinion leaders have yet to respond.

This brief introduces the topic of nanotechnology and its ethical dimensions. It then presents a blueprint of the theological, legal, and ethical issues which Muslim scholars and opinion leaders may need to address, as well as a framework through which scholars can begin working out some of the answers.


Recommendations to Support the Moderate Trends Among Muslim Communities

The RAND report entitled “Building Moderate Muslim Networks” is a follow- on from the two previous RAND reports entitled “Civil Democratic Islam” and “The Muslim World after 9/11”, and focuses on identifying partners and developing a strategy for working with the latter. This brief contribution is a summary and analysis of the conclusions of that report.


Islam’s Ban on Child Combatants, Latest Article by Musa Furber

Tabah Fellow Musa Furber wrote an article concerning children serving as combatants. Children have been used as combatants by certain Muslim parties in recent and current conflicts, including Afghanistanthe BalkansIraqSyria, and Yemen. The use of child combatants—whether voluntary or coerced—contravenes the actions of the Prophet Mohammad ﷺ and the Shari‘ah.

Muslim scholars and leaders need to educate the general public concerning the unlawful status of these actions, and that they must cease supporting those who call for, or enable, the use of child combatants.

Full Article:

AlArabiya News – Islam’s Ban on Child Combatants

The Islam women were promised – Article posted by Musa Furber in Washington Post

Article posted by Sh Musa Furber, research fellow at Tabah Foundation, published by The Washington Post in January 2012:

The horrific and heartbreaking news from India is tragic enough on its own: two alleged victims of gang rape have died, one a 23 year old woman who succumbed to her wounds and a 17 year old girl who took her own life after being pressured to marry one of her alleged attackers.

These stories are awful enough on their own, but sadly they also bring to mind other similar cases we saw during 2012.

These cases include the 16 year old Moroccan girl who took her life after being ordered by the court to marry the man who allegedly raped her, and similar cases in Jordan involving 14 and 15 year old girls. In these and other cases, the societies involved – and their legal systems – advocated pardoning rapists if a deal could be struck for them to marry their victim. Morocco has its clause 457 (the origins of which go back to French law and is said to be intended only for cases of consensual premarital sex), and Jordan has its article 308. Similar laws exist in other countries where, apparently, the honor of a woman reflects on her family in a perverse way where, where the stigma of rape outweighs the sanctity of that woman’s life and dignity.

When I read of these cases I am always left baffled at how Muslims can support allowing a rapist to obtain a pardon by marrying his victim, often by pressuring their victims and their families to cooperate. As a specialist in Islamic law, I know that these cases are egregious violations of what Islam teaches on the rights of victims, the definition of justice and the meaning of marriage.

The Islamic worldview is clear concerning the rights and obligations of self-defense and defending others from attacks against person and dignity. This is especially the case for sexual assault, where a woman is obligated to fend off her attacker and bystanders are obligated to come to her assistance. Obviously, the fulfillment of such an obligation depends greatly on the circumstances she finds herself in, her state of mind, her ability to fend him off, and so forth. Regardless of whether or not she manages to even attempt to do so, it is still rape, and must be treated as such. Some scholars advocate that a woman’s self-defense extends even to the after-effects of an attack, including restoring their feeling of security, treating the emotional trauma, and aborting a pregnancy resulting from rape. Advocates of this position argue that this is consistent with the noble purposes of the sacred law that place protection of the life and the intellect of the woman above protection of lineage, property, and reputation. The sacred law is also clear that marriage is a relationship based on affection, mutual respect, intimacy, trust, kindness, and a refuge from uncontrolled carnal lust.

Compelling a rape victim to marry her rapist (alleged or convicted) denies her the opportunity to defend herself and exposes her to additional attacks against her person, intellect and dignity. It also forces her to live in a relationship that is based upon hatred, alienation, violation, and abuse, and it rewards her attacker for his violence.

Exhortations to mercy are ingrained in Islam. Pardoning rapists who agree to marry their victim and compelling their victims to do so are mercy’s antithesis.

We have already seen that compelling victims to marry their rapists has the potential to lead to suicide. Forcing victims to marry in such a way places family dignity above her own life, intellect, and dignity – which is opposite the order of priorities assigned by the sacred law. How can one reconcile this inversion of priorities with the Islamic worldview which views spreading corruption and the wrongful taking of a single life each as akin to slaying mankind in its entirety, and the saving of a single life akin to saving mankind in its entirety (Q5:32)?

Some advocates do so on the grounds that it is cultural and falls within Islam’s flexibility towards local culture and custom, and that local culture places such a great shame on rape (whether alleged or proven) that the victim is better off married to her rapist (alleged or convicted) or better off dead. While it is true that the sacred law does include a degree of flexibility regarding local culture and custom, it is limited to those that do not contradict the sacred law or subvert its noble purposes. In short, the sacred law affirms practices that agree but rejects practices that contract or subvert it.

Other advocates suggest that the laws are intended to apply only in cases of consensual sex, such as when couples do so in hopes of forcing their families to allow them to marry, and that when reported, the act is recorded as rape. Using this term to somehow protect society from the shame of admitting that women engage in consensual premarital sex opens a life-destroying door of forcing women who were already wronged to an even greater wrong, often leading them to take their own life out of anguish and desperation.

There is something deeply wrong when a Muslim society views the shame of a single rape to outweigh facilitating the spread of corruption and the wrongful taking of life.

The earliest generation of Muslims took pride in their compliance to the Quran’s injunction to abandon female infanticide, an act that was often done to prevent shame to the family. Thus for centuries, Muslims have taken pride in their contributions to the rising status of women. But what pride is there in abandoning burying one’s young daughters in the sand only for them to grow to adulthood wishing that they had been? These tragically frequent stories of women violated over and over again can only be described as the perversion of Islam. Unfortunately, by Muslims themselves.

*This piece first appeared in the Washington Post (USA) and then in The Huffington Post (USA) with the writer’s permission. An Arabic version appeared in Midan Misr (Egypt).

Sheikh Musa Furber is a research fellow at the Tabah Foundation and a qualified issuer of legal edicts (fatwas). He received his license to deliver legal edicts from senior scholars at the Egyptian House of Edicts including the Grand Mufti of Egypt. Twitter: @musafurber

As published in The Washington Post

Two articles by Musa Furber, published in several Arabic and International newspapers

Two articles by Sheikh Musa Furber (a resident research fellow at the Foundation) entitled “What is a Fatwa? Who can give them?” and “Libyan Graves” appeared in Washington Post and Egypt Independent respectively with subsequent reprints of the first on Ahram Online, the website of Sheikh Ali Gomaa and Midan Masr (the latter includes the original English and their own Arabic translation) and a reprint of the second on Al Arabiya. “What is a Fatwa?” was in response to all those who put themselves forward to issue fatwas (religious edicts) while not being qualified to do so, and then pass legal judgments in a rash and reckless fashion even if they claim to be from among its qualified practitioners, and “Libyan Graves” in response to the latest spate of attacks on the graves of renowned Muslim scholars and sages by Salafi hardliners.


SH Musa Furber Cited in “The National”

Sh. Musa Furber, Senior Fellow Researcher in Tabah Foundation and scholar in Islamic Sciences,  was sourced for two important articles published in the famous ‘The National’ newspaper of UAE.The first article, published on 8th of Aug 2011,  was discussing the issue of scientists suggesting using maths to mark start and end of Ramadan, and how islamic scholars would agree or disagree with them.

“Their entire argumentation is based on engineering and mathematics, and if you want to make an argument to change a policy concerning the Muslim community, it had better be based on religious methodology. Otherwise, the learned scholars will never accept it.”  said Sh Musa.  [Read Full article here]

The second article, published on 9th of Aug 2011,  was on bioethics. The article discussed a controversial issue, where an in-vitro fertilisation centre in Abu Dhabi is to offer genetic screenings of embryos – a service that geneticists say is needed to prevent disorders related to interfamily marriage-, and what is the religious leaders situation from it.  [Read Full article here]



Tabah Offcially Launches: Beyond Flak Attack

Tabah Foundation officially launched it’s latest publication, “Beyond Flak Attack: A New Engagement with the Newsroom”, in Abu Dhabi on May 3rd 2011. The author, Nazim Baksh, and Hassan Fattah, Editor-in-Chief of The National, were in attendance and presented their ideas on the dynamics of Muslim-media engagement. They both called for an appreciation of the role of media and how Muslims can change the story if the story is not reflective of Islam’s nature. They explored how this change can take place and offered some insightful suggestions on ways in which we can move beyond simple flak.

Also in attendance were Khairi Ramadan, a broadcast journalist and prominent news affairs commentator from Egypt, and Sohail Nakhooda of Kalam Research, Dubai. Both offered their remarks and reflections on the proceedings of the event.

Full proceedings of the event will be available on our website soon, please check back for updates.

Related Links: Flak Attack [Full Article]