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Reason! But Maybe Not As You Expected

ImageTo say that Islam does not agree with reason would be to say that Islam does not agree with the process by which truth can be known, and that is clearly counterintuitive. Besides, Islam itself claims to be firmly grounded in reason, by constantly demanding proofs and questioning beliefs: “These are their own desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.” (Quran 2:111)

ImageIt’s interesting how some people struggle to accept the idea that Islam is logical or that the Qur’an does not conflict with reason. “Yeah, I believe in Islam…I believe in the Qur’an…but I don’t think that it’s all ‘logical’,” some may explain.

In truth, before arguing about whether or not Islam and the Qur’an agree with reason, it is important to understand what it would mean to say or imply that, “Islam does not agree with reason.”

If one were to say or imply such a statement, serious questions can be raised. Why does such a person follow a religion that conflicts with reason? When a creature develops into a human being, the one thing that is hard-wired in such a creature intrinsically is the advanced intellect, which distinguishes a human being from other animals in the animal kingdom. To disregard reason would be to disregard a tool which allows human beings to know truth.

Interestingly, reason is in the background theme of every thought process we have. Even now, as you read these words, you may be thinking, “Let me see…does this make sense?” or “I don’t agree…Sorry! But…” as your mind races through the stored information, linking one piece of the puzzle to the other, and finally coming back with an answer to your inquiry…or perhaps not an answer, but more questions to reach an ultimate answer after further information is gathered.

The bottom line is that everything a human being comes to know using the thought process is based on some type of reasoning. Reasoning, by an untainted mind, is considered logical – it has no flaw in the process of thinking.

To say that Islam does not agree with reason would be to say that Islam does not agree with the process by which truth can be known, and that is clearly counterintuitive. Besides, Islam itself claims to be firmly grounded in reason, by constantly demanding proofs and questioning beliefs: “These are their own desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.” (Quran 2:111)

So, let’s say we agree that there would be a problem in believing that Islam does not agree with reason. Where do we go from there? How do we prove that Islam does agree with reason? Well, one thing’s for sure: we’ll use reason to answer those questions.

All of the essential roots of religion, Usool-e-Deen, can be proven logically, with no need to refer to a holy text or saying. Islam is based on this firm foundation, and therefore, it is definitely based on reason. The only problem lies in how to link the details back to the roots.

In other words, even if the roots of Islam are based on reason, how do we know that the details, which sometimes don’t seem to have a physically reasonable proof, actually agree with reason?

For example, why should the morning prayer consist of two units, and not four? How does such a detail in Islam agree with reason? The answer is that while we may not be able to see the tangible reasoning behind a certain command in Islam, if we can logically link this command to the roots, which are already logically proven, then we know that the command must be logical. This holds even if we still have not attained the knowledge required to prove such a detail if it stands alone.

Think of, for instance, the fact that it is forbidden in Islam to drink even one drop of wine. Physically, there may be no known scientific studies to prove that one drop of wine can harm a person. So how does Islam agree with reason on this point?

First, we know from Usool-e-Deen and logical deductions that God is the Most Wise in the absolute sense. If He commands something, there must be a benefit from the command. So, to answer the question, the only thing left is to prove that God did indeed forbid the consumption of even one drop of wine.

This is where the sciences of Hadith (narrations), Rijal (narrators), Tafseer (Qur’anic interpretation), etc. all come in as intellectual sciences, mastered by the most expert scholars, to logically prove that the known Islamic rules do come from Allah, the Most Wise. In every step of the process, logical reasoning is the underlying revealer of truth. Any other questions that may come to mind concerning this issue can be reconciled similarly.

Therefore, Islam does agree with reason and would not be in any other way. The way we come to Islam is through reason. The way we understand Islam is through reason. We submit to Allah through reason. We come to know Allah and thank Him through the blessing of reason.

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  • Zahra Sabir

    The beginning of the article was quite interesting and seemed to going to have some answers later but just saying that god knows and is absolute to prove his word to be absolute is not a very satisfying answer, in fact that is the belief of the most spiritual of believers. More questions n their answers and proofs would really make this an awesome read!