There is no power in the unbelievers and misguided denying or disputing any truth of belief. Their agreement lacks power; a thousand deniers are equal to one denier. Even if the whole population of Istanbul, for example, denies seeing the new moon at the beginning of Ramadan, the proven testimony of two witnesses invalidates that great multitude’s negation and agreement.1 In reality unbelief and misguidance are negation and denial, so are ignorance and non-existence, and the agreement of large numbers of unbelievers even has no significance.2 Since matters of belief are true and established, and their validity is proven, the judgement of two believers based on certain witnessing takes preference and prevails over the agreement of those vast numbers of the misguided. The reason for this is as follows:
Superficially, the claims of those who deny are the same but in fact they are diverse and cannot unite and so gain strength. While the claims of those who affirm unite and receive strength from each other. This is because a person who does not see the new moon of Ramadan in the sky says: “In my view, there is no moon. It has not appeared that I can see.” And another says: “In my view, the moon has not appeared.” And so does another. Each says that in his view, there is no moon. Since the view of each is different, and the causes that prevent them seeing it may also be different, their claims are all different as well; each claim cannot reinforce the other claims. But those who are affirming it are not saying: “In my view and opinion the new moon is there,” but, “The new moon has actually appeared in the sky.” Those who sight it all make the same claim and say: “In actuality...” That is to say, all the claims are the same. But since the views of those who are denying it are all different, their claims also are different. They are not making the judgement according to what actually is. Because a negation of what actually pertains cannot be proved; for that, an all-embracing proof is necessary.
It is an established rule that “absolute non-existence can only be proved with extreme difficulty.”3 Yes, if you claim that a particular thing exists in the world, it is enough to merely point that thing out. But if you say it does not exist and you deny it, the whole world has to be sifted through in order to demonstrate it so that the denial can be proved. It is in consequence of this that the unbelievers denying a truth is like solving a problem or passing through a narrow hole or jumping over a ditch; it makes no difference
See, Abu Da’ud, Sawm, 14; al-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, iii, 139-40; al-Kashani, Bada‘i al-Sana‘i, ii, 81-2; al-Marghinani, al-Hidaya, i, 121.
See, Qur’an, 59:14.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzi, al-Sawa’iq al-Mursala, iv, 1310; Idem., al-Ruh fi’l-Kalam, i, 198.