The place of reason in the Holy Qur’an & Islam

“When your Lord told the angels, “I will place a steward on earth,” they said, “Will you put someone there who will corrupt it and shed blood, while we glorify, praise, and sanctify You?” He said, “I know things you do not know.” (Holy Qur’an 2:30)

“That is the Book, without any doubt. It contains guidance for those who have God-consciousness, those who have belief in the Unseen and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them….” (Holy Qur’an 2:2-3)

When you call to prayer they make a mockery and a game of it. That is because they are people who do not use their intellect. (Holy Qur’an 5:58)

“The worst animals before God are the deaf and dumb, those who do not use their reason.” (Holy Qur’an 8:22)

“Notwithstanding that no human being can ever attain to faith otherwise than by God’s leave, and it is He who lays the loathsome evil of disbelief upon those who will not use -their reason?” (Holy Qur’an 10:100)

“They will say, ´If only we had really listened and used our intellect, we would not have been Companions of the Blaze.´” (Holy Qur’an 67:10)

“In the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and day, and the ships which sail the seas to people´s benefit, and the water which Allah sends down from the sky — by which He brings the earth to life when it was dead and scatters about in it creatures of every kind — and the varying direction of the winds, and the clouds subservient between heaven and earth, there are Signs for people who use their intellect.” (Holy Qur’an 2:164)

“In the earth there are diverse regions side by side and gardens of grapes and cultivated fields, and palm-trees sharing one root and others with individual roots, all watered with the same water. And We make some things better to eat than others. There are Signs in that for people who use their intellect.” (Holy Qur’an 13:4)

“He has made night and day subservient to you, and the sun and moon and stars, all subject to His command. There are certainly Signs in that for people who use their intellect.” (Holy Qur’an 16:12)

As we can see Allah (swt) in the Holy Qur’an has asked us to use our Aql-which is translated as intellect, reason, using the rational faculty of the mind.

What is reason?

Yet when it comes to reason we rarely ask what is reason or what is reasonable? What is intelligence and how is it measured?     When he reflect upon this it comes to mind that in order for reason to be reasonable it must have limits.   In other words reason itself must have parameters.

It is reasonable for us to say that we do not know everything. It is reasonable for us to say that not all things are immediately perceptible to us.

We may also say that it is reasonable that there is a layer or level of reality that is supra natural in at least it being beyond our level of perception.

There are those who would negate this possibility altogether; and there are those of us who accept this possibility.

Now reflect upon this verse in the Holy Qur’an.

When you call to prayer they make a mockery and a game of it. That is because they are people who do not use their intellect. (Holy Qur’an 5:58).

Note that Allah (swt) is calling people who mock prayer among people who do not use their reason.  Yet, in our day and age those whom are most often associated with reason would in many cases be the very people who would scorn prayer;  let alone compulsory prayers.

Yet Allah (swt) has used the same word AQL that He (swt) ask us to use when reflecting upon and investigating the perceptible; and used this to apply to those who mock prayer.

The opposite of reason in many English dictionaries is: insanity, idiocy, delirium, delusion, confusion, disbelief, ignorance, incoherence, misunderstanding. I found that to be interesting.

“That is the Book, without any doubt. It contains guidance for those who have God-consciousness those who have belief in the Unseen and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them….” (Holy Qur’an 2:2-3)

Note that Allah (swt) says that the Holy Qur’an is a book of guidance to those who have Taqwa-God-consciousness and who believe in the unseen.   Thus, if you are one of those people who do not believe in the unseen or that it is reasonable to believe that there is something outside our five senses and immediate perception than the Holy Qur’an is speaking to you.

Consider this text of the Holy Qur’an as well.

“When your Lord told the angels, “I will place a steward on earth,” they said, “Will you put someone there who will corrupt it and shed blood, while we glorify, praise, and sanctify You?” He said, “I know things you do not know.” (Holy Qur’an 2:30)

Now we would say as Muslims that the angels are vibrating at a higher frequency than we are.  They are not beings vibrating at a lower frequency band such as we are or what we may also term as ‘matter’. All the molecules in existence are energies that oscillate in the space time continuum.

So before I go off on a tangent concerning the nature of angels what is interesting to note is that the asked Allah (swt) very direct and pointed questions.   Looking at the blueprint of humanity you can see in humanity a potentially destructive force.   What is implied in the question is what possible purpose could this creation bring about that is not fulfilled by us (the angels).   You can see this with their innocent remark on glorifying and praising the Creator.

To which Allah (swt) says I know things you do not know.   This concluded that particular interaction.  The angels know that Allah (swt) is All-Knowing.  That is Islam, to surrender, but remember there can be no surrender where there is no struggle.

So the point here is a powerful point of consideration for both those who think that reason is the end all be all and those who wish to shut down genuine inquiry and investigation.

If pure beings of light such as the angels can question the intention or reasoning for the creation of man to Allah (swt) Himself, and Allah (swt) shows no indignation than why do so many of us, including our Imams, Preachers, Priest, Shyookh, Atheist, suffer indignation when they are questioned?

Likewise it seems that many of us as Muslims accept Aristotelian-Neoplataonic tradition without questioning it.  It could even be argued that we can be guilty of making Taqlid to reason at all cost.

It really blows my mind personally how many of you reading this who adore Sufi sheikhs and teachers and claim to be aspirants of the spiritual path and the mystical tradition of Islam will simply tear into with utter viciousness and ferocity those of our sisters and brothers who maybe struggling with issues that do not resonate with either their hearts or their minds.

Why will you allow Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (raheemullah) to have a crisis of faith and a stage in his life where he broke away from his community to have a moment of reprieve and reflection and not allow this for others in our community?   You can be immersed in an ocean of scholarship and feel all the loneliness and solitude of a man on an island.

Likewise, it really blows my mind when many of us assume that everything has to have a reason that we can comprehend.   For example I do not have a good solid reason as to why we pray 5 times a day as opposed to say 2 times or 7 times a day.  I do not understand why the Holy Qur’an is 114 chapters instead of 120 or 73.  Skeptics would argue that this seems arbitrary.

I can only offer that just as a molecule of water is 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom and that there are those who understand why this molecular bond occurs in this number combination as opposed to another and it follows rules and principles that are perceptible; as a Muslim I believe in the Creator, and surrender to the Creator, trusting and believing that the Creator prescribes that for me which may not be immediately perceptible to me.

Likewise for those of us who give allot of credence to reason or at least have not questioned the Aristotelian-Neoplatonic tradition should give pause and listen to what brought Professor Jeffery Lang over the brink.  Note that this mathematician who has written many sensible books, “Struggling to Surrender“, “Losing My Religion” and ‘Even Angels Ask” was moved by something not beyond the bounds of reason.   Listen at 29:19 seconds.  If that does not sound like something a Sufi sister or brother may say than I give up.

Notice he ask: “How does it FEEL” to be a Muslim.  The advise that his blessed mother gave him, “If you believe something if you truly believe it in your HEART, you should pursue it.”

Allaaahu Akbar! La il laha il law lah Muhammed ar Rasulullah!

“Those who listen well to what is said and follow the best of it, they are the ones whom Allah has guided, they are the people of intelligence.” (Holy Qura’n 39:18)

4 Comments

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4 responses to “The place of reason in the Holy Qur’an & Islam

  1. Abdullah

    Salaam alaykum akhi,

    May Allah (SWT) bless you and your family. Believe it or not brother but the act of using ‘reason’ is one of my favourite topics when it comes to our deen. The fact that Allah (Azza Wa Jal) Himself stresses this point is reflected throughout the Qur’an. Verses such as Afalaa Ta’qiloon?, Afalaa Yatadabbaroon?, Afalaa Tatafakkaroon?, Afalaa Tatadhakaroon?, Afalaa tasma’oon?, Afalaa TubSiroon? and many others.

    Allah (SWT) is asking will they not reason? ponder? reflect? give thought? understand? do they not see? do they not hear? And yet what blows my mind is that most muslims (not all ofcourse) refuse to use their brains when it comes to the world of hadith literature. And brother, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m taking about! When it comes to hadith, we simply switch our brains off and say “Oh! but it’s Sahih brother! It’s Sahih!”. Do you know how many of these so called ‘sahih’ hadith’s have shocked me to a point where I almost lost my imaan? But I praise and thank Allah for the Qur’an He sent down to us! Al Furqan which is the ultimate criterion to judge all hadith. But to these people all they need is the isnaad and the Qur’an doesn’t play a part at all! Isn’t it truly amazing that Allah answers these questions but they will not reason? nor ponder or give thought? It’s really sad!

    Having the Prima-Qur’an formula really helped me with my journey and I’m hoping InshaaAllah this message will reach all those hadith thumpers out there. I must admit that the article called ‘Have you been black mailed by Bukhari yet’ is a must read for any rational minded person out there. But of course anyone who questions Bukhari is a hadith rejecter rite? Trust me if any book out there needs re-evaluating or reformation, it’s Bukhari’s collection because it has so many absurdities in it. Oh no, I think the hadith thumpers are looking for me so I better get going!

    May Allah reward you and bless you brother. Take care my friend.

    Jazaakum Allahu Khayr 🙂
    Abdullah

    • walakum salaam wr wb! It is amazing to hear from you brother!

      “Having the Prima-Qur’an formula really helped me with my journey and I’m hoping InshaaAllah this message will reach all those hadith thumpers out there. I must admit that the article called ‘Have you been black mailed by Bukhari yet’ is a must read for any rational minded person out there.”

      I absolutely agree that the article you mentioned is a must read. It really inspires me and lifts me up to get many e-mails of people who are on the verge of leaving faith, or having a crisis of some kind and coming across this site, taking a deep breath and feeling refreshed. All thanks and praise be to Allah (swt) may He expand our chest!

      Thank you once again for words of encouragement! May Allah (swt) reward us all!

  2. Omer

    Salam bro,

    Keep up the good work!

    This talk by Professor Lang is a must see talk. I hope someone subtitles it in all major languages spoken by Muslims.

    Your friend and brother.

    • Walakum salaam noble brother! Yes, indeed it is! I think his video was an excellent demonstration of the need to use reason but ultimately that powerful exchange of how it “felt” to be a Muslim. That was it.

      As it is said, words form the heart reach the heart. Words form the tongue reach the ears.

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