Quran Journey Series – Reflections on Quranic verses – III

Jul 20th, 2013 | By | Category: Quran Journey Series, Religion


In the Name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful

‘What? Can there be a doubt about Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth?’ (Surah Ibrahim chapter 14, verse 10)

Often the yardstick of logic and science is used to ‘prove’ the existence of God. That endeavour is somewhat misplaced because of its concession to the idea that God is a subject that depends on proof on the terms set by the dictates of human reason. It places human reason and logic above the Noumenal Absolute which in essence cannot be traversed by reason alone.

‘Go beyond Reason’s light! Reason is the lamp that shows the road but does not mark the destination.’ (Iqbal)

The Quran’s majesty does not depend on such proof. The above verse is an emphatic interjection that attests to the Haqq and asserts it to be beyond doubt and conjecture. It is beyond the reach of human reason for it is an altogether different realm with an altogether different set of rules not determined by or dependent upon the phenomenal world. To tread into this realm is to take flight on the wings of faith through making the leap over the giant intractable abyss that cannot be traversed by reason.

According to the Quran, anticipating a purpose of life and a need for guidance out of sheer humility are prerequisites for reaching faith. Seeing is not believing, hence ‘Eeman bil Ghayb‘ (belief in the unseen). God has decided that we will not see Him in this life. He sent signs and revelations and messengers, enjoining belief in the Unseen.

The belief He requires of us will come about by only His rules. In God’s judgement when the intuitive and intellectual capabilities He has endowed us with combine with circumstances in which we have acquired knowledge of His signs and revelations, He becomes justified in demanding from us belief in the unseen and obedience to His revealed guidance. Traversing the path to belief that God has laid down will always require good faith and noble conduct from us: God’s terms, the demands of His test do not need greater evidence.

The ‘argument’ for faith rests upon religious experience. Religious/mystical experience transcends and defies existing notions of reality and existence and leaves one in awe. Religious experience may not provide all the answers to all logical questions but leaves on the mind impressions of an expansive transcendent consciousness. However, while this kind of an experience helps us reach faith, it does not necessarily lead to Islamic Monotheism (Deen Al Haneef).

The notion of a personal God that communicates to humanity to let His will be known is essentially drawn from scriptures and not only inspired by intuitive human insight- works that are by definition attributed to a deity that is at the same time both transcendent and immanent.

It must be remembered, however, that the Quran does not accept an absurd faith from its believer lacking the capacity to discern fundamental differences among varying belief systems. We are enjoined to accept the best believable option, most likely to be revealed by a divine source, the message most befitting of an all-Knowing all-Powerful God.

The Quran uses logical reasoning where it works, and in fact celebrates the exercise of reasoning as a God-given gift (‘aql’):

‘Do you not think?’ (2:44)

It accords a vital role to reason as a means to raise vital existential questions which finally are resolved or fade into irrelevance through faith. It calls for reason to differentiate between the truth and the falsehood and reject the falsity of polytheistic belief. This is the lesson from Ibrahim (A.S)’s insightful journey to the Truth. It was his innate fitrah that led him to seek and wonder and created a revulsion to falsehood while instilling a fundamental recognition of the Truth through its essential attributes. He then used his reason to find out where the answers may lie and understand what specific attributes the Truth could be identified by.

So when the night outspread over Ibrahim, he saw a star; he said, “This is my Lord.” But when the star set [in the morning,] he said, ”[This cannot be my Lord because it has passed away,] I do not like the transitory [gods].” (6:75)

Reason took him a long way, but beyond a point where he realized that the attributes of the finite created world could not be extended to apply to the Creator of the world, it failed to suffice. That is when Ibrahim (A.S) exclaimed,

“If my Lord did not guide me, then I shall surely be of the people who have gone astray.” 

And he soared on the wings of faith, reaching absolute certainty (yaqeen) and a profound conviction that translated into his selfless and resolute passion.

This yaqeen he was blessed with through honest submission was a force elevated above the confines of reason that had assisted the earlier part of his journey. In its intensity, this feeling in the heart defies the logic in the head- hence he readies himself to bear pain and torture beyond human endurance, out of ardent Love born out of an unshakable conviction and loving recognition of Divinity.

It is those who have tasted the sweetness of absolute, pure faith in the Divine that can exclaim with certainty:

‘What! Can there be a doubt about Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth? 

God’s acceptance of someone as a true believer and His weighing of factors that lead to true belief do not give evidence or logic precedence over humane conduct and good faith. The God of Muhammad SAW is keen to accept those as His believers who retain something of the noble nature on which He created them (fitrah). He rejects those that have wronged themselves through cruelty and arrogance.

Maryam Sakeenah

About the author

Maryam Sakeenah teaches Sociology, Literature and Islamic Studies in Lahore, Pakistan. She authored a book documenting Islamic and Oriental responses to the Clash of Civilizations thesis. Maryam is also a social worker running an organization providing free virtual primary education for the poor.

Tags: , , ,

Leave Comment