Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Reason & Logic
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is a transcript of discourse delivered by Mawlana Waffie Mohammed.
There are some things in our faith which cannot be explained through reason and logic. In other words, we cannot rationalise some of the things we do. For example, we are supposed to make wudhu’ before swalah. However if there is no water available or if we cannot use water, we are supposed to perform tayammum. Tayammum is in no way comparable to wudhu’ because we are not cleansing all the parts that we normally do when we are performing wudhu’. Then why do it? This is something that cannot be explained rationally. We believe and accept because that is what Allah (s.w.t.) has Ordained for us. So too, there are so many things that we cannot explain through scientific reasoning and logic; and, unfortunately some people, because they cannot find a suitable explanation, reject it totally or condemn it.
For example according to our school of theology, we have an understanding concerning the night of the 15th of Sha’ban. There are many traditions concerning the sacredness and benefits associated with this night. One such belief is that a person’s sustenance is written on this night, another is that those who are to be born and those who will die for the following year is also written. How can we explain these things rationally? We cannot, and that is why we have faith in Allah (s.w.t.).
To become a Muslim the first thing a person says is, “I testify that there is no God but Allah.” Imagine those pagan Arabs who were idolaters; those who believed that Jesus (a.s.) was God; others who believed that God somehow manifested Himself in an earthly form; and now we are taught to say no God but Allah (s.w.t.); that is something that comes only through faith because we cannot rationally prove the existence of Allah (s.w.t.).
There is this philosophical problem termed ‘cause and effect’. Every cause has an effect. So we were Created by Allah (s.w.t.) but then the problem arises, who created God? Concerning this Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is reported to have said “Satan comes to one of you and asks, ‘Who created so-and-so’; until he asks, ‘Who has created your Lord?' So, when he inspires such a question one should seek Refuge with Allah and give up such thoughts”. This is from Swahih al-Bukhari.
We need to understand that belief is something outside the realm of reason and logic. Some people try to prove the unseen rationally. For example, have most of us ever seen an angel? How can we prove the existence of angels rationally? It is difficult. That is why Allah (s.w.t.) Begins the chapter of al-Baqarah with:
Who believe in the unseen ... (Surah al-Baqarah:3)
Another example; how can you prove human beings possess a soul? Has anyone seen it? Many things we have to accept whether we can rationally prove it or not. According to the teachings of Islamic spirituality these matters are outside the realm of reason and logic. It is called religious experience and this can only be experienced. It cannot be described. You cannot tell me how sweet honey is; I have to taste it to really know. When we say the term ‘I believe,’ we are really implying that whether or not we can understand we believe unconditionally. Islamic spirituality is that realm of knowledge which is outside the references of reason and logic. It is something that has to be experienced. That is why a lot of shuyukh do not disclose religious experiences; because of the potential backlash from those who cannot forgo rational thought.
On the night of the Mir’aj, Allah (s.w.t.) Says that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) ascended higher and higher and then He Revealed what He wanted to Reveal. What did Allah (s.w.t.) Reveal? No one knows. How can the blessed Prophet (s.a.w.) rationally describe such an experience? The people doubted whether he travelled from Makkah to Jerusalem; what about his experiences in the heavens? As we go along the path of Islamic spirituality, we always remember that it is not really permissible to discuss our religious experiences with any person. We need to discuss it with your teacher or someone who he may refer you to.
For example, there was once a great shaykh, Shaykh Husayn ibn Manswur al-Hallaj (q.s.). During his time, many of the Sufi masters felt that it was inappropriate to share religious experience with the masses, yet Imam ibn al-Hallaj (q.s.) openly did so in his writings and through his teachings. He thus began to make enemies. This was exacerbated by occasions when he would fall into ahwal which he attributed to being in the Presence of Allah (s.w.t.). During one of these ahwal, he uttered “Anna al-Haqq,” “I am The Truth”. The masses could not understand what he truly meant and subsequently murdered him by severing limb from limb. And when his blood flowed into a nearby river the words “Anna al-Haqq” were formed. How can we understand this rationally?
In the battle of Badr, when the Muslim army were grossly outnumbered, Allah (s.w.t.), through His Grace and Mercy, Sent the angels to fight with the Muslims; and the companions reported that even before they could strike their blow, the enemy was killed. How can you explain this using scientific reason and logic. As we go along this path, we will hear people levelling the claim bid’ah and shirk. In situations like these, we always remember the Qur’anic ayat:
And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” (Surah al-Furqan:63)
We will not be able to make an impression on these persons. In the very beginning of the mission of man, Satan confronted Allah (s.w.t.) with reason and logic. He could not have seen that Adam (a.s.) was endued with knowledge which he and the angels did not have. That is an eye opener for all of us. We need to go along with faith in Allah (s.w.t.) and in His Prophet (s.a.w.) and whether we can understand it or not, we do what we are expected to do. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) demonstrated this in every way. Do we think he knew that reasons for everything that was to happen? For example, when he was given the news that his grandson was to be martyred, did he question? He simply requested that he be brought the soil where his blessed grandson’s blood was to fall.
In Islamic spirituality, we can get knowledge from Allah (s.w.t.) and He can Take us closer to Him as He so desires. A lot of things people take for granted and they really do not know. However, we must never condemn them. They may be honest and sincere but were never exposed to these teachings and understandings and will thus have reservations. When we experience this, we do not get upset. Instead we must be sympathetic and show love because all success lies through love.
If we show overflowing love for our Lord, what do we think will happen? We must pursue this path with humility and sincerity. Because we are touching on areas that are sensitive, we will get comments and remarks; but we just carry on with our own mission for success in this life and the next is by Allah (s.w.t.) and we let Allah (s.w.t.) Take Care of the rest. May Allah (s.w.t.) Bless us, Enlighten us and Protect us all, insha’Allah.