Islamic Renaissance

A Voice for the Muslim Freedom Struggle

Why Blind Faith Is Not For Me

What is truth? We all have different truths, one person’s truth is another person’s falsehood. We don’t like to admit it, but truth is subjective. Our belief in Islam is subjective. There is no guarantee that we are on the right path, there is no guarantee that Islam is the ultimate truth. God didn’t give us a guarantee because that was the only way to distinguish those that are sincere from those that are insincere. We know in our heart and soul that Islam is the truth, but we can’t prove it, and that is the believer’s ultimate test.

Because how then can you know if you are treading on the right path? The answer is you can’t, you can never be one hundred percent certain, and that’s why you need to be able to look in the mirror and say to yourself that whatever you take with you to your grave, is completely and undeniably yours.

Stop relying on ‘learned scholars’, stop relying on other people’s interpretation of your religion, stop expecting others to teach you the difference between right and wrong, this is your job, your duty, not theirs. If you follow a scholar to hell, the excuse that you sincerely followed that scholar will not hold up.

Because we were given our own minds to think, to reflect, to dissect and analyse, yet within the Muslim community, thinking for yourself has become a sin, questioning Islam is frowned upon, it is said that those who question have doubt in their hearts. But I say those who don’t question and choose to blindly follow have entrapped themselves with the dogmatism that destroyed the Quraysh.

Let us not forget Abraham’s quest to find God, he did not sit around and wait for a revelation, he used his intellect, the same intellect that is berated by Muslims today for being inefficient at understanding God’s words, was used by Abraham to logically and defiantly find God.

Allah explains in the Quran:

“And when he saw the moon rising he said, ”This is my Lord,’ but

when it too set, he said, ‘If my Lord does not guide me, I shall be

one of those who go astray’. Then he saw the sun rising and cried,

‘This is my Lord! This is greater.’ But when the sun set, he said,

‘My people, I disown all that you worship beside God. I have

turned my face as a true believer towards Him who created the

Heavens and the earth. I am not one of the polytheists.” [6:77]

These verses are powerful, because they tell us something incredibly important, they tell us that the road to truth does not need to be a clear one, it does not need to be one of complete certainty, it isn’t all or nothing, sometimes we find truth through error, and sometimes these errors are necessary to help us understand something greater, we need to stop underestimating our God given intellect, after all, that is the fundamental human characteristic that God appeals to in the Quran.

Allah explains: “It is He who spread out the earth, placed firm mountains and rivers on it, and made two of every kind of fruit; He draws the veil of night over the day. There truly are signs in this for people who reflect” [13:3].

You see Islam is a religion for those who have the zealousness to use their minds, the bravery to question everything they ever believed in and the audacity to break the mental idols they once worshipped.

This is why it was so difficult for the people of Quraysh to accept Islam. This is why the Quran was rejected by the people of the book. Think about it, the very people who held in their hands a scripture that promised them the coming of the final messenger of God, rejected that messenger when he came to them because they chose blind faith.

The moment we believe we know all that there is to know about our faith, the moment we stop questioning, the moment we close the gates of ijtihad, we deteriorate from the path of truth and fall into the trap of dogmatism.

Dogmatism is the enemy of truth. It is the doctrine of jahilliya, the very jahilliya that tamed the hearts of the Quraysh from hearing the words of truth when it came to them. The very jahilliya that made the Quraysh “deaf, dumb and blind” [2:18].

Think about it, did the Quraysh not believe in their truth as passionately as we believe in ours? Did they not claim that the truth had already come to them and there was no reason for them to reconsider? Did they not consider questioning the way their ancestors had lived for centuries, an abomination? Of course they did and it cost them the scorching flames of hellfire.

Now am I saying we should sit around and wait for another messenger to be sent to us and greet him with open arms? Just to be clear, no, I’m not. What I am saying however is that although the fact that “there is no other deity worthy of worship but Allah and Muhammed is the last messenger” will never change, there are aspects of our faith that can be understood better, there are interpretations that we have submitted to for centuries that should be revisited, there are concepts that we have not even begun to understand and the only way we can advance as human beings and reach the peak of our humanity, is to shun blind faith and to start using our minds.

Allah himself explains that when it comes to the Quran “some of its verses are definite in meaning – these are the cornerstone of the scripture-and others are ambiguous” [3:7] and then within the same verse he declares “those firmly grounded in knowledge say, ‘we believe in it: it is all from our Lord’ – only those with real perception will take heed” [3:7]. It is crucial to note the choice of words used by God here, “grounded in knowledge” and “those with real perception”, these phrases do not point to a God who wants believers to submit to him in blind faith, what they do imply however, is that those of us who will actually take heed, will be the ones who used our perceptive skills to reflect and sought knowledge to fill the gaps, blind faith was not and never will be part of the equation.

And just like Abraham, those who dare to ask the important questions, those who care to use their minds instead of submitting to the comfort of their existing understanding are the ones that thrive. I have found that those that often question God’s commands are the ones that walk around with the strongest of convictions, because there’s something powerful about understanding the reasons behind God’s commands, it opens you up to the beauty of God’s way, it leads you to obey God not out of fear, but out of the sheer love for his greatness.

So to those who often remark “we hear and we obey” [24:51] I ask, but what are you hearing and who are you obeying? Do you hear the interpretations of someone who drew meaning from the Quran based on their own experience or the limited information available to them? Or are you obeying a human being and their understanding of what God’s words mean?

We don’t like to admit it, but everything is an interpretation. The supposed narrations of the prophet are interpretations of what someone thought the Prophet was saying, the tafsir from knowledgeable scholars, is their interpretation of what God is saying, based on their knowledge as well as their preconceived ideas about the world.

We are all following an interpretation of God’s words and each of those interpretations is bound by the fallibility of man, no matter their status. So I’m here to ask if we are indeed following a human interpretation anyway, why do we reject our own? After all the Quran wasn’t sent down to the knowledgeable scholars to be interpreted for us, it was sent to all of mankind with no intermediary between us and God. So why do we deny ourselves the right that was given to us by God himself?

If we’re going to follow a human interpretation, isn’t it better to use our own intellect as well? Or are we to blindly follow what another human being deduced using their rationale? Is the use of rationality forbidden to all but the privileged few?

It is important to note here that I’m not advocating the rejection of scholarly exegesis, but rather, the acceptance of the human – God experience. Accepting the use of our own intellect does not mean that we reject the intellect of others. It means we trust our human instincts whilst considering the knowledge that has already been gathered for us.

So if you’re hoping to find truth, here’s what you’ll need:

1. Sincere intentions, this means constant self-reflection, self-critique and the ability to admit your own shortcomings.

2. Question everything and reflect, don’t be an intellectual coward.

3. Seek knowledge. Your interpretations are just as limited as anyone else’s, limited by your experiences as well as your preconceived ideas, so expand your mind. Read.

4. Remember that the pursuit of knowledge never ends, knowledge is ever expanding and it is our duty to follow its course. Allah says in the Quran “If all the trees on the earth were pens and the sea (were ink wherewith to write), with seven seas behind it to add to its (supply), yet the Words of Allah would not be exhausted” [31:27].

With this in mind, I leave you to answer this question posed to us by Allah almighty: “Is a blind person like one who can see? Why will you not reflect?” [6:50].

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