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January 26, 2004
Question Thy Beliefs

by Nadia Khan

A questioner once challenged Archbishop William Temple thus: “Well, of course, Archbishop, the point is that you believe what you believe because of the way you were brought up”. To which the archbishop replied: “That is as it may be. But the fact remains that you believe I believe what I believe because of the way I was brought up, because of the way you were brought up”. That was a clever answer on the part of Archbishop, but if a true Muslim scholar was asked the same question, his answer would have been somewhat akin to, “As a Muslim, I was brought up to ascertain everything before I believe it, including my beliefs. So I have tried my best to already account for this factor”.
After all, as Muslims, we are supposed to question any kind of information brought to us, no matter how credible the source is. Tangible entities must be sensed by our own hands before believed to be of a certain composition. The information having physical dimensions must be seen by our own eyes and someone’s words should only be taken in when our own ears have heard those words from that particular someone. As for the information that cannot be testified by ordinary means, we must use our intellectual capabilities, while keeping them clean of our own biases.

Knowing this, one day, I asked myself this question: “Would I have been a Muslim if I was not born one? If not, would I still pick Islam as my religion?” Well, I figured that in order to answer this question, first I had to imagine myself as someone who is not yet a Muslim. Second, to qualify for answering this question to the best of my abilities, I had to have the following traits:

1. God must be merciful on me so as not to blind my vision
2. My intellectual reasoning skills must be intact.
3. I must be neutral without already bending towards any position
4. I must have the empathy to enter into beliefs that are alien to my own.

Given that I had all of those traits, I had to imagine myself now in an examination room where I had to pick one among the following major religions:
1. Hinduism
2. Buddhism
3. Judaism
4. Christianity
5. Islam

That is how; I would proceed provided I have all of the four qualities mentioned above.
I would cross out Hinduism first off, because my intellect will would tell me that man-made idols can neither fulfill the necessities of my existence, nor give me peace.
For Buddhism, I would acknowledge that meditation does give me peace but it does not provide an answer to all of my questions. Hence, I would eliminate that also.
Then I would resort to the last three choices and try to see what makes them distinct from each other. All three believe in the existence of God but differ in the authority figures that come after God. Judaism has Moses, Christianity has Jesus and Islam has Muhammad. Since I cannot find out in the examination room who is a better figure among all three, I would have to resort to my intellect again. Thus, I would ask myself, “Are Christianity and Judaism accepting of Muhammad? The answer would be a “No”. “Is Islam accepting of Moses and Jesus?” The answer would of course be a “Yes”. Therefore, I would cross out both Judaism and Christianity because of their exclusive approach and in the end I would be left with Islam since Islam harbors no distinction between the three Prophets except that Muhammad came last.

Anyone who is armed with a sound sense of judgment should be able to reach the right answer the same way I would have even if I were not a Muslim and only had the basic information about the major religions.A one-sided message always stimulates a wise audience to think of that message as biased. When, we as Muslims, accept the prophets of Jews and Christians as our own, why cannot they? When we accept their books as our own books, why cannot they? When we and all others can testify that our Book is intact without any contamination, can they?

As Muslims, it is imperative for us to question our beliefs and creeds, our ideas and ideologies, our negative and positive attitudes.Turning them over and asking ourselves the reasons for holding them will make us concious of our ingrained biases. This process of introspection will weed out our wrong beliefs and would make us cherish those even more who pass the test of critical judgement. As for the beliefs who have not yet become a part of our personality , we should look at their pros and cons and only after reaching an objective conclusion, should we take a stance on them. According to David G. Myers, a famous social psychologist “Compared to attitudes formed passively and learned second-hand, experience-based attitudes are more confident, more stable and less vulnerable to attack”.
And who can question the authority of our Beloved who invites us time and again to make use of our faculties with which He has blessed us.
Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except (Allah) Most Gracious: truly it is He that watches over all things. [67:19]
Say: "Travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth." [6:11]
May Allah give all of us the ability to make use of all of our senses and contemplate the world and its affairs actively. Ameen


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Very well written Nadia. I specially like the opening. Unfortunately, the core of the matter is exactly how you put it - we're not taught to question ourselves, or the ones we love. If we can't avail from the idea for ourselves, maybe we can make sure the generations to come can question themselves confidently.

A very good point, indeed.

Posted by: at November 10, 2003 12:45 PM

It's an unfortunate misconception among people that we as Muslims are "afraid" to question our beliefs. It's only through investigation and questioning that we are able to get some glimpse of the wisdom behind this perfect Way of Life from Allah.

Posted by: Talal at November 10, 2003 02:17 PM

Alhamdulilah, great article. Islam can be proven by logic. Honestly speaking, logic is the way I is the reason I truly believe.

Posted by: trying at November 13, 2003 05:42 PM

Very nice. I enjoyed reading this one!

Posted by: at November 15, 2003 12:01 AM

Hindsight is always 20/20 right? Only When ALlah has blessed a person with acceptance of Islam, will that person truly accept Islam. All the intellect in the world can not justify belief. We can sit here, as muslims, saying, it is so logical to be muslim, but you cannot explain belief or ALlah by logic. These things transcend simple human faculties such as intellect. If we were to simplify them down to a level where we can say because of a, b, and c, la ilaha ilAllah Muhammadun rasulullah is true, that would be disregarding the truly unknowable nature of ALlah swt. Belief is something given to us by the boundless mercy of Allah swt. We can simply say alhamdulillah for having been borne into a muslim family. Alhamdulillah.

Posted by: ayan at November 20, 2003 04:30 PM

"When Allah has blessed a person with acceptance of Islam, will that person truly accept Islam". Well if that was true, Islam would not have spread in the first place. When the Prophet(P.B.U.H) started preaching Islam, there was no one who was a Muslim except him. Moreover, Allah invites all of us time and again, be Muslims or Non-Muslims, to ponder over small things to reach Him. His call is not restricted to just Muslims, these small proofs of His existence can apply universally to the imagination of all and sundry provided they have the four qualities I mentioned. I know that choosing between religions is not that easy as a,b,c, but I was just saying that even if we have a superficial knowledge of basic religions, such as the basic information of the status of God, and the accepted Prophets, in those religions, we can use rules of logic (inclusive vs.exclusivist approach) to come up with a valid answer. Alhamdulillah, we indeed are blessed to have been born as Muslims but the whole point of the article was not to take this blessing for granted. Rather, through interrogation and introspection, choose for yourself what seems the best religion to you. Most probably Inshallah, it will be Islam

Posted by: Nadia at November 20, 2003 09:46 PM




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Ibnu Aazara said

Salaam alaikum,

I hope this message reaches you all in the best of health and iman.

How naive we are. Its that simple huh?

"Then I would resort to the last three choices and try to see what makes them distinct from each other. All three believe in the existence of God but differ in the authority figures that come after God. Judaism has Moses, Christianity has Jesus and Islam has Muhammad. Since I cannot find out in the examination room who is a better figure among all three, I would have to resort to my intellect again. Thus, I would ask myself, “Are Christianity and Judaism accepting of Muhammad? The answer would be a “No”. “Is Islam accepting of Moses and Jesus?” The answer would of course be a “Yes”. Therefore, I would cross out both Judaism and Christianity because of their exclusive approach and in the end I would be left with Islam since Islam harbors no distinction between the three Prophets except that Muhammad came last."

Your pretense is that you are not a Muslim, but yet you already believe in Muhammad as a prophet. You have already violated traits two and three in your list even before you begin your argument.

"As for the information that cannot be testified by ordinary means, we must use our intellectual capabilities, while keeping them clean of our own biases. "

Are you serious? Which biases have you dispelled?

"Well, I figured that in order to answer this question, first I had to imagine myself as someone who is not yet a Muslim"

When did that start?

Forgive me for picking apart your article but when I read articles like this from my fellow Muslims it really disappoints me. How can we give dawa with such a flawed understanding? Perhaps I should write an article and let you know the realities of leaving the deen you have been raised in. Having your mother looking at you as if my son what have you done? Having your mother ask you, if I die will you attend the funeral? When your sister is getting married will you attend the ceremony? Why can't you come with us to Christmas dinner or this family gathering? Female cousins asking me why can't I even shake your hand? The worst thing I have ever heard from anyone since I have become Muslim, is when my little sister of 6 years old, said "I wish we had the old you back. You can't do anything with us." Granted that all these issues don't go through your mind when you are making the decision to accept Islam, but they are sure to arise afterwards. Then a time will come when you ask yourself, have I made the right decision? See how much your logic avails you then. Only your yaqeen billah and his rahmah upon you will keep you steadfast. You sure can’t count on today’s ummah for support. I have much more to say, but this is already becoming too long for a comment. Again forgive me; I usually enjoy reading your articles, but this one, la ukhti.

And as for whoever wrote this:

"Alhamdulilah, great article. Islam can be proven by logic. Honestly speaking, logic is the way I is the reason I truly believe."

If that is true, you had better be careful. If you only believe because its sounds logical to you, pray that you don't meet an intelligent athiest, or a Christian or Jew sound in his faith. Read about sects of Islam like the Jahammiyya, whose intellect took them to Kufr. Better yet maybe you had better not read about them until your heart and your fitra serve as proof before your logic. Because a time will come when your logic and intellect will fail you and all you will have left is your yaqeen. And pray that it is stronger than your logic, because your logic has just been defeated. Keep learning your deen, and you will come to matters that will throw doubt on your iman. That is the time when we say samianaa wa ata’naa, wa aamanaa wa sadaqqnaa. i.e We hear and we obey, and we believe and we confirm. Even if it doesn’t befit our limited intelligence. Enough, May Allah guide you and guide me.

And sister, three is a number from the sunnah, so let me apologize for the third time if I may have offended with anything that I have written.

Salaam

on March 24, 2005 2:51 AM
Humayun said

Salaam,

To Ibnu Azara, I pray that Allah (swt) guides all of us to Yaqeen. I tried emailing you this, but you did not provide a liegitmitate email so I had no choice but to say this here.

First of all, the way you commented on sister's Nadia's article was just plain disgusting, you dont just call fellow Muslims out like the way you did. And its really easy to sit back and act hard in virtual life, I am pretty sure you know that by now.

Second of all, I was the one you made that comment ""Alhamdulilah, great article. Islam can be proven by logic. Honestly speaking, logic is the way I is the reason I truly believe."

I do believe that Islaam can be proven by logic, but I must agree with you that a person believes also out of yaqeen and emotion. I stand firm on my belief that you need to satisfy both mind and logic to truly believe. Now your coming off a tangent that your such an intellectual Muslim and that everyone else is just dumbfounded and has no knowledge of the world, at least thats wat it seems like. Well I have news for you, there are certainly many intellctual Muslims out there (admittidngly not as many as there should be).

And by the way I have debated with intelligent desits, atheists and Christians, as a matter of fact I have been debating with since the age of 14. If you want to really test by intellectual belief on Islaam, please email me with your real address and we will have a discussion on anything you like, from Christianity to judaism to even atheism and evolution, I think I do a descent enough job of proving my logic.

And I advise you to pleasenot all people just dont blindly accept it. There certainly is much logic to it. Let me end of with a story of mine.

A Christian student at Rutgers approached the Dawah Table at Rutgres last semester. He said "Why do you guys agree with this religion, why do you follow this and not Christianity or Judaism." So I basically told him that I wanted to talk to him in private. I started off by giving him a brief presentation of the logic behind the truthfulness of Islaam that by chance (by the mercy of Allah of course) I had prepared on my laptop. At the end I was like wat do you thnik. His words were "Well if its like that then Islaam is the true way." He even admitted Christianity (by the way he was intelligent) didnt make complete sense but he was following it out of faith because he said you dont necessarily need logic to have faith (which I disagree with becasue I believe generally speaking logic and faith go hand in hand).

To make a long story short, the only reason he was a Christian was because he was so emotionally attached to it, not becasue he actually found logic to it. And thats the way with I would say the overwhelming majority of Christians.

So before you start thinking of yourself as much higher as Muslims, please please actually talk to Muslims about this stuff and know where they are coming from. However I do agree that not enough Muslims are educated enough to give Dawah and prove why Islaam is proven logically, but that doesnt mean Islaam cannot be proven logically. If you want to cotnend that, email me and find out.

I apologize for this long response and may Allah (swt) forgive all of our sins and make us less arrogant. Ameen.

Walikomaslaam

on March 25, 2005 11:16 AM
Ibnu Aazara said

Salaam Alaikum,

I hope this message reaches you all in the best of health and iman.

Br. Humayun,

"First of all, the way you commented on sister's Nadia's article was just plain disgusting, you dont just call fellow Muslims out like the way you did.

My intention was not to offend her or anyone else who posted a comment. Nor was it my intention to come off as an intellect because I am far from one. But when someone makes an open claim that a logical deduction was used to reach a conclusion, it is subject to verification. Especially in making such a bold statement. Sometimes an over-simplification of such deep matters comes off as offensive. And I was offended. But you are correct, that is no way to address a fellow Muslim. Apologies to you and her. I request my post to be removed (admins).

"And its really easy to sit back and act hard in virtual life, I am pretty sure you know that by now."

I was in the wrong for my manner of commenting, is that why you followed it with that? Two wrongs don't make a right.

"Second of all, I was the one you made that comment ""Alhamdulilah, great article. Islam can be proven by logic. Honestly speaking, logic is the way I is the reason I truly believe."

If you would kindly re-read my post, I never stated that she was the one who made the comment.

"Now your coming off a tangent that your such an intellectual Muslim and that everyone else is just dumbfounded and has no knowledge of the world, at least thats wat it seems like. Well I have news for you, there are certainly many intellectual Muslims out there (admittidngly not as many as there should be"

Coming off a tangent? Where? Because I attacked her logic (granted inappropriately), I now consider everyone else dumbfounded. Where is the justification for such a generalization?

What truly surprised me is that you read the article and applauded her for it even though the proofs stated where clearly flawed. And I do not contest whether Islam can be proven logically, because I believe it can be. Enough, you are correct I should not have replied in that manner. Jazaaka Allah for correcting your brother.


"I apologize for this long response and may Allah (swt) forgive all of our sins and make us less arrogant. Ameen."

As do I, but not for the length but the content. Amen Amen Amen.

on March 25, 2005 11:20 PM
Humayun said

To Ibn Azura:

Asalamalikom, I apologize for my post the way I did. I was in an angry state and I should have posted it after I calmed down. So i definitely apologize for the way I attacked you, especially when I was trying to show thats not how we talk to Muslims, your right two wrongs dont make a right. But the thing is I did try to email you and you did not provide a legitimate email address or I would never have posted it like this. You seem like a very very reasonable person and maybe you were just upset as well at the moment, but there are many Muslims out there who continiously to attack their fellow brothers and sisters online and and that really upsets me. I really wonder how they act around with others in real life. But you definetly dont seem like that person. And your right, at many moments your yaqeen does come before your aql, but I still believe that they generally go together. Again i apolgoize for the post.

Waliomaslaam Wa RahmatAllah

on March 26, 2005 2:20 PM
Nadia said

Assalam u alaikum Br. Ibn Aazara,
You are right, I did quite a lousy job in having written that article and in conveying the point that I meant to convey. In fact, this is one of the articles that I cannot even read in full length without feeling embarrassed so this time again, I won't go back and read it and try to explain why I wrote somethings which seem elusive or completely illogical. However, I apologize for offending you or hurting you in any way. And jazakallah khair Br. Humayun for defending me in my absence. May Allah (swt) reward you for that. It is people like you that make me miss writing for Hidaya and please pray that I can resume writing for Hidaya once again.
Salam.

on March 26, 2005 3:04 PM
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