By Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
If my articles are boring to you, it may be that you need to read more of them, as was suggested by John Cage, one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
Many if not most well educated Muslims do not believe in a real Satan, at least in day to day language they understand their evil or negative inclinations come from within themselves rather than an external real being named Satan.
Reading all the Quranic descriptions of Satan in light of biological evolution, proposed by Charles Darwin, lands us in a safe domain, where a literal Satan is not rationally supported. To elucidate this I suggest two of my previous popular articles: Surah Al Baqara (The Cow): Section 4: Adam and Eve and Meeting the Quranic Adam with Charles Darwin.
Most well educated Muslims and Christians intuitively know this, influenced by authors guided by modern psychology, but have not thought through the intellectual ramifications fully and do not wear these concepts on their sleeves in their daily lives.
Today, I propose to continue the human journey of injecting greater rationality in our belief systems and dogma a step further and extend the domain to the chief angel, Gabriel, with whom the prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, first met at age of 40, in the cave of Hira near Mecca, and he revealed him the first few verses of Surah Alaq from All Knowing God and at one time squeezed his chest also very tightly.
There is only one simple question I ask, if I may, if there was another human present around, would he or she have seen angel Gabriel? If your answer is ‘no,’ then I rest my case, as that is what I am suggesting, Gabriel was not really there, it was only in the mind of the holy prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him.
Please relax, don’t be mad at me, I cannot take away your dearly held generational beliefs, unless you voluntarily give them up.
“There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” as we were told in the 1933 inaugural address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Read for yourself and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon’s advice, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”
Here is some suggested reading to understand revelation in biological and scientific terms:
Some suggested reading from our collection about Religion & Science: