Epigraph: Say, ‘Bring forward your proof if you are truthful.’ (Al Quran 27:65)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
My Exhibit A in favor of reason and its supremacy over the orthodoxy’s understanding of revelation is the last thousand year history of Europe. It has been one victory after another, carved by human reason and rationality, over the ‘word of God,’ the Holy Bible, as understood by the Catholic Church and later by the Protestant movement. I do not have time and space to elucidate my first exhibit, but, almost every modern person in the West, has some concept of what I am talking about. So, allow me a short cut and let me just place a book here to describe the history for you. I link two articles pertaining to this book: ‘
Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders’ by Denise A. Spellberg
Europe and America’s Journey from Religious Bigotry to Pluralism, A Book Review
My Exhibit B is a recent debate by Ken Ham with Bill Nye.
Kenneth Alfred “Ken” Ham is an Australian-born young Earth creationist and the president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), a Creationist apologetics ministry which operates the Creation Museum. He is a former high school science teacher and currently lives in Kentucky, USA.
Ham advocates a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis.[n 1] His claim that the universe is approximately 6,000 years old, based on his interpretation of the Bible, is contradicted by evidence from astronomy and from the Earth’s fossil and geological records[n 2]
Ham was born on October 20, 1951 in Cairns. His father was a Christian educator who settled his family in Brisbane as a school principal. According to Ham:
[My father] was always very adamant about one thing – if you can’t trust the Book of Genesis as literal history, then you can’t trust the rest of the Bible. After all, every single doctrine of biblical theology is founded in the history of Genesis 1-11. My father had not developed his thinking in this area as much as we have today at Answers in Genesis, but he clearly understood that if Adam wasn’t created from dust, and that if he didn’t fall into sin as Genesis states, then the gospel message of the New Testament can’t be true either.—Ken Ham (2008)
Here is the debate without further ado, where in, Ham makes a fool of himself, by insisting on his understanding of a few verses of the Holy Bible and disregarding almost every thing scientific revolution stands for:
So, far it was about the Holy Bible and the Muslims may well say, the Bible has been corrupted, but, our Holy Scripture the Holy Quran has been preserved and is the literal word of God. It is the final revelation by the All Knowing God to mankind. Fair enough!
My Exhibit C is an interview of a Pakistani religious leader Munawar Hassan, who makes a fool himself of no lesser order than Ken Ham in the video linked here. Syed Munawar Hassan (Urdu: سید منور حسن ) (born August 1944, Delhi) is a politician and the former Ameer (President) of Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan.
Hassan joined the National Students Federation (NSF) – a Communist student group – and was elected its President in 1959. The real change appeared in his life when he came closer to the activists of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) Pakistan and studied the writings of Mawlana Syed Abul Ala Maududi. As a result, he joined IJT in 1960 and was elected President of its University of Karachi Unit, Karachi City Unit and member of the Central Executive Council. He became its national President in 1964 and served in that capacity for three consecutive terms. During his tenure the Jamiat organised several campaigns mobilising public opinion regarding education issues.
He joined the Islamic Research Academy (IRAK) and later Islamic Jerusalem Studies, at Karachi as a Research Assistant in 1963. He became its Secretary General in 1969. Under his supervision the Academy published 70 scholarly books. He also served as Managing Editor of the The Criterion and The Universal Message, Karachi.
In this interview, one of the most learned scholars and proponent of Sharia says that if a woman is raped and does not have four male witnesses, regardless of other circumstances, she should better be quiet. The learned scholar does not suggest how the victim should negotiate with the potential witnesses before the legal hearing in presence of strict Purdah requirements, to make sure that they are not going to deviate from their testimony. Such lack of insight and empathy should send shivers down the spine of every sensitive human being! All the moderate Muslims may be better off under any Western law rather than such medieval understanding of Sharia Law. My apologies to the English readers, for the video clip is in Urdu. You will need to find an Urdu translator. Munawar Hasan is also completely unable to conceptualize that he may not have the correct interpretation of the Holy Quran.
My Exhibit D is the Taliban and their rule of Afghanistan, for a number of years.
My Exhibit E is ISIS.
My Exhibit F is Al Shabab. I do not need to list all their misdeeds, but merely their recent killing of innocent Christians, with complete disregard of their own religion and manifesto, as the religion of Islam is understood by moderate Muslims and myself. I believe that the Holy Quran equates killing of one innocent person to perpetrating a genocide. (Al Quran 5:33)
My Exhibit G is Boko Haram, I do not need to list their misdeeds, they have chosen to put their medieval understanding of Quran and Sunnah above human reason and rationality and decided to see the world through those glasses, with complete disregard for reason and rationality.
My Exhibit H is a recent article by me, Do Muslims Prefer Camels over Modern Cars?
My Exhibit I is another of my articles, Shariah and Constitution: A Personal Journey.
Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, did not have the solutions to the societal problems and at an age of forty years, he was meditating in the cave of Hira and angel Gabriel came and started guiding and leading his reason. Once again the revelation took supremacy over human reason. It had happened at least 120,000 times before in different parts of the world. Through out his 23 years ministry he was constantly guided by revelation. When the Prophet died constant and reliable revelation stopped, at least for the foreseeable future. God did not give the Prophet any sons and he did not set up a dynasty. He had laid precise instructions about relatively less important things, for example, how to do ablution, clean teeth regularly, invoke God before eating and every little task and to sleep on the side. But, he did not give a political system. He did not say how to elect the future leader of the blossoming Islamic Empire. Was it shortsightedness a slip or was it by design? I think not! In his last sermon at the time of Hajj he had stressed the importance of the Holy Quran, but, did not name a person or a body to interpret it for the Muslims.
In the year 632 CE, after the death of the Prophet, the Muslims of Arabia were left to chalk out their course by their God given reason and seek guidance from the Holy Quran to the best of their abilities and whatever they could gather from it. There was no longer one authority to interpret it for them. Were they abandoned by All Knowing God? I think not! All Knowing God was just telling them that for every one other than a Prophet, reason has to rule revelation. There were no two ways about it. The Muslims used their best judgment and elected Hazrat Abu Bakr to be the Khalifa. They could have chosen someone else. Each subsequent Khalifa was elected through a different process and thirty years later the system changed into a monarchy.
The revealed word of the God was preserved as the Holy Quran, was collected into a form of a book, during the reign of Hazrat Abu Bakr, within two years of the death of the Holy Prophet. Human rationality became the main tool to understand the Holy Quran; which verse is explaining which other verse and which part of Sunna bears on a particular verse was important, but, ultimately had to go through the scrutiny of human reasoning and understanding. What ever was happening or being thought about in Medina will take a month or more to get to Mecca, not to speak of Jerusalem, Damascus or Antioch and other farthest parts of the Islamic Empire, under the reign of Hazrat Umar. Individuals were on their own and with their own reason to understand the Holy Scripture, the Holy Quran.
But, like all earthly resources, we tend to monopolize the heavenly resources also, as much as we can. Centuries ago if someone of lower caste got to hear Gita, molten lead was put in his ears. William Tyndale was an English scholar who became a leading figure in Protestant reform in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his translation of the Bible into English. In 1535, Tyndale was arrested and jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde (Filford) outside Brussels for over a year. In 1536 he was convicted of heresy and executed by strangulation, after which his body was burnt at the stake. In the same vein, translation of the Holy Quran was not allowed for more than a thousand years. In personal life, we should of course put the revealed word of God, above our hedonistic desires, but, when it comes to communal living, politics, law and economics, we have little choice but to give precedence to our reason and rationality over any one person’s understanding of any verse of the Gita, Bible or the Quran. If we fail to do that we will often find ourselves in catch 22, a double bind situation like Ken Ham and Munawar Hassan were in the above videos.
If you still give absolute preference to revelation in societal issues then I have news for you. I have a bridge to sell you. I have my own set of revelations. Are you willing to submit? If ‘no,’ and you want to evaluate and challenge my revelations, precisely my point. Reason is superior over revelation. If your answer is ‘yes,’ then sell all your belongings and send the proceeds to the holding company that owns the Muslim Times. I rest my case!
Categories: Ahmadiyyat: True Islam, Highlight, Secularism, Separation of Church and State, Sharia, Sharia Law
Quran is the Word of God. Everything written in it is absolute truth and nothing but the truth. I think all Muslims will be able to agree on this.
But what is written in the Quran is a matter of understanding and debate.
In verse 8 of the third chapter of the Quran Allah says that some verses of the Book are certain (Muhkamat) and they are the back bone of the Book. There are other verses which are ambiguous (Mutashabihaat)and require interpretation. Later in the verse God tells us who has the knowledge of these verses. 1) God and 2) Those who are grounded in knowledge (Rasekhoon a fil ilm). This term can be applied to only those who are specialists in the field of their knowledge.
Now who is telling us what is in the Quran — The Mullah. Mullah by definition is a person who has a beard and no worldly knowledge. This guy has nothing to do with science or reasoning. These people have become our religious leaders and we have accepted them as the interpreters of the Quran. And this is why we are the laughing stock of the world.
God says that only specialists can interpret the quran. When we talk about the economic system of Islam, an economist should be saying it. When we talk about health issues from the Quran, a doctor should be saying it. When we talk about governance in the quran, a political scientist should be saying it. A bearded, ignorant mullah who calls himself Alim-e-deen should be discarded.
Unless “rasekhoon a fil ilm” are given precedence over the bearded ignorants of Islam, we will not make progress.
Lutf, wonderful explanation of verse 3:8 of the Holy Quran, Jazakallah.
Criteria for Interpretation of the Holy Quran, by Promised Messiah – Book Blessings of Prayers
1. Holy Quran
2. By the Prophet
3. By his companions
4. By purity of ones own heart
5. Arabic Lexicon
6. Laws of nature
7. Interpretation by saints
The promised Messiah says in a couplet (Durre-Sameen)
Wisdom and reason is blind if there is no divine light of revelation in it.
Aqal tu and I hay gar nayyar e ilham na ho.
In the book Reason, Revelation and Rationality by Khalifatuk Messiah 4th(May Allah have mercy on his soul) needs to be read.
Aqal tou undhi hay ger nayyar ilham na ho.
In the book mentioned above all the exhibits have been
If we insist that reasoning and logic do not work without ilham, then it is impossible to explain the exponential growth of science. Cars and rockets were not invented as a result of Ilham. It was scientific reasoning and logic by those who have no claim to ilham.
If people give up reasoning and logic it becomes impossible for them to understand their own religion. The above quote of the Promised Messiah should be viewed in context. Otherwise it is a misuse of his writings. Same Promised Messiah has also said that “dua” does not work without “Dawa”. So before turning to God it is important to do our own duty and follow the worldly principles created by God.
The couplet in question was said by Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) and not by The Promised Messia(as)
The first line of the couplet:
Aql ko din per hakim…
Don’t let mind ( reason) prevail over religion…
It is not about secular knowledge.
I agree with dr. Lutfur Rehman.
I apologize for the wrong reference.The couplet is in Kalam Mahmood .The poem is a very popular”Nonahalan Jaamat Mujhay kuch kahna Hay”The Children of our Community I have To Say Something”
The couplet is”Aqal ko deen per hakim na banao hergiz
Yay tu khud undhi hay ger Nayyar Ilhaam na ho”
Meaning:Never make wisdom rule over religion
It is blind without the light of revelation:
The book mentioned above Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth actually supports the main thesis of my article.
I will present two quotes from the book. The first quote is from the chapter Belief in the Unseen:
The next detailed quote is from the chapter, Islamic Schools of Thought:
This quote not only shows the need of rationalism, but, also the tools used by orthodoxy to marginalize the rationalists.
Rationality and reasoning is the level playing field for all. If a Muslim and a non believer are arguing the rule of the game will be rationality.
When a Muslim wants a relationship with his creator the need for inner motivation or revelation (from Allah) wil be the guide.
You cannot confuse the two situations in one categorical statement- that which one is superior to the other.
The ashaarites/ muatazilla were both followers of Aristotlian logic.
As mentioned by Hazoor they both used same weapon killing opposite ideas.
It means that in a debate RAtionality has to be common determining factor.
Revelation is guide, not the master to dictate on the individual issues, unless you already believe on” Ghaib”. It is not binding on the nonbeliever.
I will therefore suggest that if you are exhausted with acceptable logical reasons in a discussion do not try to silence the opponent by the pressure of superiority of revelation. Munawar Hassan tried to show this superiority.
Am I right Lutf sahib ?
Revelation is superior to senses, reasoning and experience. But there will be no revelation without proper use of senses with rationality. If a person has no use of reasoning and logic, he will not have any useful revelation too.
I have studied the chapter 12 of Quran and found that hazrat Yaqoob a.s. and Yousuf a.s. were endowed with great reasoning, i.e. something most people will count (consider) as revelation. It could be called inspiration, as Christians make much use of inspiration in their arguments.
Inspiration is from inside and revelation is from above and outside. Intellect is a must and priority for any useful revelation.
Revelation may not be connected with any scientific progress. It is something to do with spiritual matters. If the scientists had evolved and given some good lead in spiritual matters then we could count their formulae and follow them. Science is useful in its own domain.
Please look at the scientific advancement in the world in many countries. Has it achieved anything in bringing real comfort to the sorrowful souls? The troubles of the world are increasing and so is the poverty. With much scientific advancement, the people are crying out loud for real relief. The same could be achieved by truly following the revealed knowledge and good behavior.
Without the revealed knowledge and without following the true knowledge, all the comfort brought by cars and trains and planes is lost.
Respected Ghulam Sarwar sahib,
The statements like – troubles and poverty is increasing, the people crying for relief – are only genetic slogans without any real statistical data/ proof.
1) Comfort has increased many folds in last one century inspite of population explosion.
2) realization of human dignity has improved manifolds.
3)Ecceptance of Rationslity for justifying an actin has become very common.
These all improvements are result of the half millanium of discovery , enlightenment and spread of education based on reason not the revelation.
Religion in the last three centuries has not improved any facet of human life which could claim superiority over science.
Yes for personal satisfaction ( at individual level) religion is still a great healer.
It’s need will remain there but it cannot take place of science .
Both religion and science are gifts of God. We are not supposed to rank them. Perhaps in ranking revelation higher than rationality , we unconciencely console ourselves being
Religious. Whereas as I said both these faculties are the gifts of God. And Allah brings forth each, when and where required.
Comparison is unwanted and unjustified.
@ Ghulam Sarwar
“Please look at the scientific advancement in the world in many countries. Has it achieved anything in bringing real comfort to the sorrowful souls?”
Answer: YES. Next time when you have to go a hundred miles, just walk. You will have plenty of time to reflect upon the comforts of life provided by science.
Fazal sahib is absolutely correct. Science and revelation have their own uses and spheres. We need to learn to keep them there and benefit from both. The tendency to declare religion or revelation everything leads to Afghanistan. I bet no one wants to go and live there.
Please Read generic instead of genetic in line 3 of first paragraph.
Thanks fazal sahib and Lutf sahib. @Fazal:
The statements like – troubles and poverty is increasing, the people crying for relief – are only generic slogans without any real statistical data/ proof.
1) Comfort has increased many folds in last one century inspite of population explosion.
2) realization of human dignity has improved manifolds.
3)Ecceptance of Rationslity for justifying an actin has become very common.
These all improvements are result of the half millanium of discovery
Religion is not against rationality. I do not agree with what you have written above. It is not the fault of religion that there has been no advancement. It is the fault of the followers of religions. Please admit that.
If people were not misled by any bigots, there would have been progress in all fields with all other good things available in plenty.
religion is not what is going on in Afghanistan or Pakistan. In fact that is all anti-religion.
Religion (true teachings of Jesus a.s.) had not taught the Church to punish Galileo.
Take the case of the Quran and Science. Science is the work (kaam) of God and the Quran is the word (Kalaam) of God Almighty. There is no disparity between the word of God and the work of God.
I am sorry. I do not want to start a debate. But I believe that the present short comings in all religions are due to the mistakes of the leaders of the religions.
I said rationality is prior to any revelation. But since there is a taboo against religion and soul and God Almighty, it is natural to downgrade and deny the revelation. Perhaps because revelation cannot be tested by the scales and formulae of science.
I say again that religion did not teach anything bad. It has its place in matters of life.
Lutf says that if I have no car and have to walk a few miles, I will learn the lessons. That is not a good excuse in favor of science. Religion is supporting the science. Science is denying the religion. Which way is the right way. If we have cars and planes and no humanity (because science does not teach that subject of humanity) then all is useless. Please guide me. Thank you.
I think it is time that we stop making excuses that religion is being misused by its followers. If we accept this then religion is something which is very susceptible to misuse and is like a dangerous weapon. If a good person gets hold of the weapon he can make good use of it. And if a bad person gets hold of it then he can kill others.
Religion should have the ability to make better people in the midst of bad. This can only happen when someone can demonstrate the goodness in religion. If all the religious leaders are using religion to their own advantage, then what can you expect. When Muslims have no answer to the financial problems of the world, when they have no logical and decent position on women issues, when they have no method for governance, when almost all of them are corrupt, what other people are supposed to do. They believe what they see. It is only human.
When you have stink coming from one house it is the responsibility of the residents of the house to fix it. Other people in the street cannot be blamed for pointing out the bad smell.
So let us fix your own house first. Have something to show. Then other statements will make sense.
Lutf, perhaps you are again blaming religion for the bad deeds of its followers. Until the followers have improved themselves, you may not see any good in religion.
I see lot of poverty and misery in the world. Should I blame Science for that? Not at all. It will be the misuse of Science and religion by some people.
We have to judge the religion on its own merit, on its teachings and we have to show the flaws in the religion, any serious flaws in the religion will go against it well. But such is not the case.
Perhaps you hope to be able to rectify all the defects and maladies of the world by means of Science. Beside Science and religion, there is much dirty POLITICS involved. That is the third element, should not be ignored.
The blame for the poverty and misery of masses in the world goes to their political leaders and rightly so. No one says, if people will take care of themselves and do the right things then there will be no poverty and no problems. We always blame the political leaders and their ideologies. It is only in the case of religion that we blame the followers and not the religion.
I think the blame in the religion also goes to the leaders. As I said we keep hearing that if people did the right thing everything will be fine. If that is so then we don’t need the religion. I think this is the reason that Atheism is the fastest growing religion in the world. (Around the world 15% people call themselves atheist.)
It is time that the religious leaders woke up and stop using their religions for their own purposes.
@Lutf: As I said we keep hearing that if people did the right thing everything will be fine. If that is so then we don’t need the religion.
WE still need the religion to guide us to do the
Sarwar sahib wrote:-
1) It is the fault of the followers of religions. Please admit that.
2) Science is denying the religion.
To these two later.First I want to tell you that as a lover of History, I draw inferences from the past.Science and the religious development has been taking place in the East and West independent of each other, except a few smaller examples on the technology side.Please Keep the whole world in view when finding examples, China, India, middle East, Greece , North Africa, West Africa (Al-maghrib).Europe and America. The zeal to show superiority of religion on science has always been a defensive strategy of religious leaders who feared that “new” ideas will corrurpt the minds of people and endanger the purity of religion. Ibne Tamyyia is one example.
One point we are missing is that our discussion is on the intellectual level.IE Rationality Vs Revelation.
The discussion of Science viz a viz Religion is on the factual/practical level.
A)) As I said the rationality gives birth to Scientific Ideas (creating Science and enlightenment).It does not say anything about the religion as it is not concerned with the religious issues(They are metaphysical). Expect, when the misuse of religion (Note Sarwar Sahib’s Point) causes distortion in in the society. In this case religion is attacked by rationalist and in the heat of pursuit they(rationalist) go too far in denying the things (like life after death)which do not fall in their realm of control.
B)) Religion is the answer to the “inner questions” for which humans are confronted since the beginning of their consciousness. (Fisrt Adam mentioned in the Quran, perhaps). Is there any God is not a scientific question but how this inverse came into existence is a scientific question. Intellect and Rationality are trying to find answer to this. But Revelation has already decided it. Allah made it. Question is answered but the quest has not been satisfied. As a Muslim I am satisfied and will be preparing for my next Nmaz, but a Scientist will be in deep thought “but How”.
Here I want to tell Sarwar sahib that when you say that Revelation is superior to rationality-because it answered the query about creation of Universe, in fact you are killing the whole intellectual endeavor to find a satisfying answer to a basic question.If that is a good answer that even better one is “someone created it”. Don’t you think that who and how ect. follows every such answer. Thus the reliance on revelation is useful in its own field. When you apply it to the domain of Physical world it is too short and sometimes vague. In many cases, even the meaning of revelation is interpretation dependent- open to subjective opinion of interpreter.
Hence hence claiming its superiority is handicapped.
The same logic tells us that why the deeds of followers of a religion have nothing to do with creating science. Do you think the Early Muslim Scientist were pious that is why they developed Science, OR the renaissance thinkers were better Christians ? ?
Coming to (2) “Science is denying the religion”
It is other way round. Proponents of religion have not gained the level where they could face the objections(I do not say that the objections are true) of rationalists.
Interestingly our elders like Ibne Sina, Al Ghazali and Ibne Rushd were in the opposite camp but were of the same caliber. These days Jamaa’t has the claim, but there is not any quotable work which could answer the objections, without mixing the religious authority with the general logic.
In the end to sum up, I mention an interview of Dr. Abdus Salam, (which is in Punjabi language), where he has beautifully touched this question.
the ulemas with beard are wrong and the secularist is good//this concept and theory is wrong//whoever commits terrorism it is bad//let the secularists like bush and blair or by taliban.
there are many factors to be studied about this kind of mind set//islam is never against education//prophet [saw] has said go even to china to gain knowledge.
this not relegion something else.
Thanks Fazal. Religion should not deny rationality and does not do so. Religion is not against rationality. I simply mentioned few sources of knowledge and included senses, experience, sight and insight, intellect based on rationality and Wahi.
When relying on Wahi, I did not exclude other sources. Real religion, which exhorts us all to gain knowledge, is not against rationality.
But when science depends on seeing and believing so it experiments everything.
Quran denies such ideas and suggests that one may believe even in some unseen things, i.e. feelings etc.
We have science here now telling us many things. Where was science 2000 years ago? It was in the basics only.
I again say that Wahi is an important source of knowledge. It is all the better as it teaches to learn and investigate. As such, religion supports science. But look at science. Does it support religion? I hope not. How the scientists deny the existence of God? Just because they could not see Him in laboratory? They did not have any serious proof to deny God too. So Scientists should be on even keel and not deny existence of God Almighty.
I say “Man could have lived off the trees, eating leaves and fruit thereof but could not get any guidance from the trees. Mankind needed special guidance from above.”
It is the religion which brings mankind to behavioral matters. Science does not teach any morality. Mankind consists of physical matter and soul. Science does not admit the soul.
Islam is a medium path religion (Ummat e Wustaa). It takes demands of the body and soul together. Islam admits true thinking (rationality plus science) and Wahi.
Dear Fazal, I could not fully understand your many good points, and points about my assertions. I apologize if anything is written in wrong direction. I will read your post again to understand but nowadays my perception is weak. Wassalam.
Your comments are not clear.
Are you talking about Rationality and Revelation ?
No body said that Islam is against education !!!
How did you get this idea.