Islam- The only rational Religion

Islam is not a religion of “blind faith” but is a religion that strongly calls on man to use his logic, reasoning and intellect. Allah in the Quran stresses the importance for people to think, to reason and to use their mind and intellect. The word “mind” or “reasoning” is mentioned 49 times in the Quran (in Arabic Ta’qiloon 24 times,Ya’qiloon 22 times, and A’qal, Na’qil  and Ya’qil one time each). Also Allah refers to “people of understanding” 16 times in the Quran (in Arabic Ulu Al-AlBab or Uli Al-Albab). Allah also refers to “those of intelligence”  two times in Chapter 20 by the Arabic term Uli Al-Nuha. Allah also refers in many chapters in the Quran to the mind by the Arabic word Al-Fuad. Also in many verses in the Quran, Allah uses the term heart (in Arabic Al-Qalb) in place of the word Al-Fuad (mind) to mean the same thing. In one place in Chapter 89 verses 53 & 54, Allah refers to the mind by the Arabic word Al-Hijr. The Quran also, in tens of verses, strongly calls and emphasizes the need to “contemplate” and to “give thought” (in Arabic Fikr or Tafakkor). Also in tens of verses, the Quran draws attention to the importance for man to “remember” and to “recall” (in Arabic  Tazakkor). The significance of the two being: to “give thought” is to increase or acquire new knowledge, whereas to “remember” is to recall and remind oneself of relevant knowledge and events that may have been forgotten, but which are important for one’s faith.

Allah praises people who use their mind:

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding – Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” [Quran, 3:190-191]

And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers; and from all of the fruits He made therein two mates; He causes the night to cover the day. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. [Quran 13:3]

He causes to grow for you thereby the crops, olives, palm trees, grapevines, and from all the fruits. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.[Quran 16:11]

Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you].” There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought. [Quran 16:69]

And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. [Quran 30:21]

The Qur’an is a book intensely concerned with knowledge.The word “‘ilm” (‘knowledge’) and other verbal and nominal derivatives of the root ( ‘ – l – m, ‘to know’) appear in the Qur’an in a staggering 811 verses, or roughly 13 percent of all verses of the Qur’an. In addition to making various declarative and imperative statements, the Qur’an repeatedly incites those it addresses to reflect, especially to reflect upon the created order, including man, as a sign of God. In addition, the Qur’an makes abundant use of arguments in persuading its audience of the truth of its teachings, thus establishing or inviting to, from the very moment of revelation itself, an integrated paradigm of reason and revelation. The Qur’an, moreover, is not the least bit self-conscious or defensive in the face of a questioning human reason, and indeed boldly challenges its readers to find within it any fundamental contradiction and to inspect with careful scrutiny the created order for any gaps or incongruence therein. As we read in Quran :

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah , they would have found within it much contradiction. [Quran 4:82]

The Qur’an identifies the locus of rational reflection variously as the aql, qalb, lubb, and fu’ad, among other related terms used in the Qur’an to denote reason, reflection, and related meanings particularly the words ya‘qilun / ta‘qilun, uli al-albab, yatafakkaru, yubsirun, yafqahun, uli al-absar, and ya‘lamun. It also frequently employs terms connoting mental cognition and reflection, describes itself as bringing knowledge to a humanity that has “been given of knowledge but little”[See Quran 17:85] and draws stark distinctions between “those who know and those who do not know [See Quran 39:9]. It also repeatedly exhorts man to ponder and to reflect. As we read in Quran :

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts? [47:24]

And in yourselves. Then will you not see? [Quran 51:21]

And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought. [Quran 59:21]

We explain in detail the signs for a people who give thought [Quran 10:24]

So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought. [Quran 7:176]

Other Verses that calls mankind to ponder and reflect are : [Quran 13:3, 16:11,16:44,16:69, 30:21, 39:42, 45:13,59:21]

Non-Muslim Academics who admits that Islam is Rational

Josef van Ess observes the fact that ‘Christianity speaks of “mysteries” of faith; Islam has nothing like that. For Saint Paul, reason belongs to the realm of the “flesh”; for Muslims, reason, ‘aql, has always been the chief faculty granted human beings by God.’ [Josef van Ess, The Flowering of Muslim Theology, trans. Jane Marie Todd (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 153-154].

Similarly, Eric Ormsby begins a chapter on Arabic philosophy with the statement: “Reason is central to Islam,” then goes on to elaborate that “an intense preoccupation with reason is one of the most enduring and characteristic aspects of Islam and of Islamic culture.” Indeed, “reason and the use of the human intellect, though seen by some as challenges to the all encompassing mind of God, have occupied a position of unusual importance in the tradition of thought with which this chapter is concerned.” [Eric Ormsby, “Arabic Philosophy,” in From Africa to Zen: An Invitation to World Philosophy, ed. Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M.Higgins (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1993), 125]

See also Josef van Ess, Theologie und Gesellschaft im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert der Hidschra: Eine Geschichte des religiösen Denkens im frühen Islam, 6 vols. (Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1991-1997), I: 48, where he likewise makes note of the Qur’an’s frequent use of dialectical argumentation, engaging the Prophet’s opponents directly in an argumentative and reasoned manner.

Rosalind Ward Gwynne has dedicated an entire monograph to identifying and categorizing all instances of rational argumentation used in the Qur’an, remarking in her introduction to the study that “I believe that the reader will be surprised at how thick with argument the Qur’an actually is.” [Rosalind Ward Gwynne, Logic, Rhetoric, and Legal Reasoning in the Qur’an: God’s arguments (London & New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), xiii].

The Quran is a source of law to guide the practical life of man. The Qur’an is a source of knowledge, which inspires man’s intellectual endeavors. Quran in its unique style, Firstly, it appeals to reason and feeling, intellect and soul as one whole. Secondly, it is short, precise, direct, personal, and evocative. Thirdly, that it confronts its listeners with choices and decisions and inspires them to heed and act. Fourthly, that its language is as powerful as the message, which penetrates deep inside you. Fifthly, that its argument is always what its listeners are able to understand, that it is always drawn from their everyday experience, that it always finds an echo inside them. Above all, that it is not abstract, logical, speculative.

The Qur’anic revelation, therefore, actively incites man to thinking and reflection, the full and earnest use of which will inexorably bring him to God and the truth of religion, but simultaneously to the understanding that ultimately, only God is absolute and that all else, including man’s powers of intellect, is relative and limited. Complementing its insistence on the centrality of knowledge and its persistent incitation to pondering reflectiveness, the Qur’an also describes itself variously as an “evincive proof” (burhan) [See Quran 4:174],a “criterion of judgment” (furqan)[ See Quran 2:185, 25:1] and even as the “Conclusive Argument” (al-hujja al-baligha)[See Quran 6:149]. Indeed, it frequently challenges its interlocutor with a variety of actual arguments, inferences that are to be drawn stepwise by the individual who reflects with consideration. The notable fact that the Qur’an grounds its teachings not only in raw assertion, but likewise through argumentation and persuasion, and it opens the door to –a complementary and harmonious paradigm of the relationship between reason and revelation in and through the very text of revelation itself.

About the Quran, Allah Says:

[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they (i.e. people) might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.[Quran, 38:29]

In the Quran, the words that can be formed from the term “know” or “knowledge” (root ‘elm in Arabic) is to be found 865 times. In one verse Allah says: Are those who know equal to those who do not know? Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding. (Quran, 39:9). Also: And so those who were given knowledge may know that It (i.e. the Quran) is the truth from your Lord and [therefore] believe in it, and their hearts humbly submit to it. And indeed is Allah the Guide of those who have believed to a straight path.[Quran, 22:54].

On the other hand, the Quran strongly rejects certain mentalities that are driven by myths, illusions, absurdities, ignorance, blind imitation of others, assumption (conjecture), prejudice, whims and desires. In fact, Allah in the Quran confirms that most people on earth have gone astray because they follow assumption, conjecture and ignorance. Allah says:

And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying (out of ignorance, conjecture and assumption).[Quran, 6:116]

Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason. [Quran 8:22]

Religions other than Islam are based on blind faith. One cannot asked logical questions about the articles of faith, which are mostly irrational.We are the people of intellect; we are the people of reasons. The articles of Islamic faith are logical and rational. Islam invites people to reflect on the sings of God and it wants people to accept the faith only if it makes sense to them. If the reflection and thinking leads a person to conclude that there is an Infinite Creator of this finite universe, then it wants the believer to submit to that One and Unique Creator, wholly solely and exclusively, without associating any partners with him in any respect, way, shape or form.

The greatest threat of Islam was not its force, but the greatest threat of Islam was its power of ideas. That’s why the world is scared of Islam. And how it challenged injustice head on and how it questioned integrity of other philosophy and other ideas. For e.g., Islam questions other systems by asking , How can you think like that? How can you act like that? How can you judge like that? Why don’t you think? How do you make your decisions? Islam is the religion of thought. Islam is not a religion of “blind faith” but is a religion that strongly calls on man to use his logic, reasoning and intellect. Allah in the Quran stresses the importance for people to think, to reason and to use their mind and intellect.The Quran appeals to the intellect. Offers signs and then tells us to think, to ponder and consider. It rejected the notion of blind faith, but encouraged reason and intelligence. It directed humanity towards goodness, recognition of the Creator, plus moderation, kindness, and humility. The real threat of quraish.…Quraish were rattled not at Badr but back in Makkah. They were shaken up just by the ayats of Allah. It was enough to take a tradition that was there for 1000 years and it was rattled just by the words of Allah. Just by few words of Allah. We are not close minded people as Atheist or Agnostic or kuffars think. But we are the people of thought and reason. Islam encourages dialogue. “Bring your evidences if you are truthful” [Quran 2:111,27:64]. How is a book asking people not to have faith but to collect all criticisms and bring them. Qur’an calls for open-mindedness. Islam also encourages us to invite people with wisdom and good arguments. As we read in Quran , “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best…..”[ Quran 16:125]. On the other hand, the Quran also strongly rejects certain mentalities that are driven by myths, illusions, absurdities, ignorance, blind imitation of others, assumption (conjecture), prejudice, whims and desires. Islam is constantly vilified and attacked because the theological beliefs it propagates are seen to be counterproductive to Western society. This is the reason Islam is seen as a threat. And it shows how strong ISLAM is when you see whole world is up in arms against just one religion. Islam is not just a religion, but it’s a way of life. It’s a package where we have whole system of economics, polity, justice, health & nutrition, social order, family, crime& punishment systems, Morals & practices, etc. Muslims don’t take man as authority but God. And this is why the kuffars are angry at us.

Islam is also unique in the objective of submission to the One and Unique God in that the submission to God must result in commitment to justice and fairness in the society and pursuit of personal excellence. Lastly, the intention behind this submission must be pleasure of God and His reward in the Hereafter, not any worldly ulterior motive.

I think what makes it different is that it’s actually quite logical for a religion, and in many verses of the Quran, it encourages reading and thinking and using your brain over and over again. Abundant verses in the Qur’an tell us to use our intellect to realize the sovereignty of Allah azza wa jal and understand the need of submitting to Him and Him alone. Islam encouraged and called for the usage of human intellect centuries before the age of enlightenment. We Muslims think, ponder, reflect, and use our minds to understand the truthfulness of Islam, to find our way to Islam, and to appreciate the guidance of Islam. But once guided to Islam, we surrender and submit to what is revealed.

 

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