Dr. Mohamed Ghilan on the issues of interpreting the Qur’an

“Allah disdains not to use the similitude of things, lowest as well as highest. Those who believe know that it is truth from their Lord; but those who reject Faith say: “What means Allah by this similitude?” By it He causes many to stray, and by it many He leads into the right path; but He causes not to stray, except those who forsake (the path),-” (Qu’ran 2:26)

Many times on Facebook we will see streams that catch our eye and this was one such stream.  I watched it and immediately with in a few minutes of watching there was some things that did seem out of place.


Where I found the video and posted my questions.

I had a comment for the video as I am a person who seeks knowledge, and aims for consistency in methodology.  So I commented under the appropriate entry at Al-MADINA Institute (via Facebook) and my question /comment was removed.  Maybe this is a routine clean up I am not sure.

“Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem, As salamu ‘alikum wr wb. If there is a whole video lecture concerning this I would be greatly interested. I have some questions in regards to what respected Dr. Mohamed Ghilan has stated.

“When you try and interpret the Qur’an in light of science you have to recognize that you’re elevating science above the Qur’an. So now science becomes your ultimate source of authority and objective truth as opposed to the Qur’an and now the Qur’an is subject to validation by the scientific method and that’s a problem.”

Juxtaposed with:  “There’s two different modes of thought here. Two different modes of inquiry. Theological Qur’anic kind of acceptance based on faith it’s not blind faith you’ve used first principles from pure reason to come to the conclusion that this is the word of God…”

Question 1. If we accept the Qur’an as a revelation based upon reason has reason becomes our ultimate source of authority and objective truth ? In other words is the Qur’an now subject to reason so that reason becomes ultimate source of authority and objective truth.

Question 2. If we deem something to be unreasonable can we reject it?

Question 3. Who/What decided that we use ‘first principles’ as a criteria.

Question 4. Could we use pure reason to either or accept/reject other sources in Islam (ahadith, theological precepts, consensus, infallible imams, juristic decree)?

I am thankful this subject was touched upon. I would like to know if we have an objective basis for believing that the Qur’an is divine. I have my reasons but I believe it could be argued that they are subjective. In other words it is what resonates with me. Also, the idea of the Qur’an being a linguistic miracle seems subjective and accessible of course to those with recourse to a deep analysis of the Arabic language. I have often wondered at the challenge to ‘produce something like it.’

You can see my questions in regards to this here: https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/make-something-like-the-holy-quran-is-it-a-fair-challenge-in-light-of-the-hadith-literature/

My thinking is that for example a Muslim judge apriori would never say that something is like the Qur’an. His supposition that the Qur’an is divine seems to be a supposition that rules out impartiality. After all if we said someone made something like the Qur’an and met the criteria where would our faith be?

Likewise the Non-Muslim judge may also have his/her bias because if they felt that this was the crux on which an objective basis for determining the validity of the Qur’an stood they could than say they met the challenge. I know there is allot to chew on here. It would be interesting if Al-Madina Institute could do a series on such questions that Muslims may have and than allow for an Ashari response and a Salafist-Athari response. So that we may weigh the merits of the positions. I can give my e-mail if need be. Jazak’Allahu khayran.

I do want to point out though that if this is the currently making the rounds in North America it seems that (with due respect) to our brother Dr. Mohamed Ghilan they maybe behind the times.  However, maybe it is possible that this is making the rounds again in certain Muslim intellectual circles. Allah (swt) knows best.

We did a series on this here: https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/does-the-holy-quran-disclose-information-of-a-miraculous-scientific-nature-part-1/

And in this entry one of the regular readers brother Ammar had pointed out that our brother Hamza Tzortzis had revised/renounced this particular approach here:


Yet really, the person that comes to my mind that cautioned us about this particular approach was Shaykh Yasir Qadhi.  This was in his amazing work in English published back in 1999.

He says, “In reality, it seems that the authors of the these type of tafseers were so impressed and awed with the West and its sciences, that they felt that the only way of proving Islaam was to show that the Qur’aan had preceded the West in the knowledge of all these sciences.”  (An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan page 334)

“Most of these interpretations even went to ludicrous extremes, claiming that the Qur’aan had ‘founded’ and laid down the sciences and principles of engineering, medicine, astronomy, meteorology, algebra, metallurgy, agriculture, carpentry, sowing, weaving, tanning, baking, precise measuring, and underwater diving!”  (An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan page 333)

Back to the comments of Dr. Ghilan. He says in the video:

“If you think about how did you come to believe in the Qur’an itself and how did you come to accept information from science and how did the laws that you derived from science umm get induced, there’s two different modes of thought here, there’s two different modes of inquiry, theological Quranic kind of acceptance based on faith ,its not blind faith ,you’ve used first principles from pure reason, to come to the conclusion that this is the word of God; and what ever the Prophet (saw) comes and tells you this is his revelation to you as well through uh from Allah (Swt)”

As a person (like myself) who is persuaded by Mutazalite theology this seems like a complete capitulation. This is why in this web site I do not to censor* anyone regardless of their school of creed, jurisprudence and so forth.  Now I have put this out there, but this seems as if our respected brother is saying that revelation is subject to reason.

Again when he says ‘first principles from pure reason’ from does he get this from? Or where do the people that he takes from get this position from?

Like wise I believe it is not necessarily an ancillary outcome that just because one has come to accept the Qur’an as the words of Allah (swt) doesn’t mean that you will come to accept that the oral traditions are revelations.

I believe we have soundly refuted that here: https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/ironclad-evidence-that-the-holy-quran-totally-dominates-the-sunnah/

I mean diverting from the main topic let us think about that premise for a moment.

That the entire Sunnah (and by this it is assumed that Dr. Ghilan means the actions, words and deeds of the Prophet saw) is revelation.   Than let us couple this with the fact that there are many ahadith which have perished.  Which would lead to the conclusion that we don’t have the entirety of the revelation with us.

Also, when we look at the way in which the sunnah was transmitted and compiled into text and if we are to assume this is divine revelation, it makes our cases against our Christian brothers an uphill battle.

If one assumes that maybe we don’t have the entirety of the revelation (sunnah); but we have what we need.  This would seem to mimic the position of people like Dr. William Lane Craig who doesn’t defend Biblical inerrancy. For him it is a ‘non-issue’ as what is important is that the over all message of Christ Jesus (a.s) was preserved.  * see for example: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-price-biblical-errancy

So going back to the central topic, on what consistent basis is Dr. Ghilan confident that his approach of ‘first principles based on pure reason’  is the mode of inquiry for the Qur’an?

Could some examples be given?

To quote Dr. Sherman Jackson

“At bottom, al-Ghazalli’s argument against the theological extremist-among whom are both Traditionalist and Rationalist-is that they fail (or refuse) to recognize that their doctrines are grounded in interpretative presuppositions that are historically determined.”  (On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam pg 6)

* comments that ARE censored are those that are filled with vitriolic and/or those that have nothing to do with the topics being discussed. Clout chasers.


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2 responses to “Dr. Mohamed Ghilan on the issues of interpreting the Qur’an

  1. I think ultimately everything is subjective because it is necessarily subject to an individual’s rational faculties. Something that seems so overwhelmingly convincing, enough to be considered qat`ī dalīl, for one person might seem to be totally absurd to the next. But we’re only tested with, and liable for, what’s within our capabilities after all.

    Our brains are between us and the outside world. There is no objectivity (for us), because we’re all subject to our selves. That’s why faith is faith.

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