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Understanding Religion

Discover Islam


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Islam does mean submission to God and Islam is in­deed accord with sense and reason. This is so because such submission does not contradict sense or reason. Let us explain and, as we try to do so, let us do so accord­ing to sense and reason.

It is sensible and reasonable that the principles of the din (the Muslim way of life), which we are required to understand and observe in our lives, should be set forth in the Quran. How else would we know them? The Quran is a revelation of reality. The demonstrations therein pre­sented concerning Divinity require prophethood since our knowing about Divinity can not be separated from prophethood. Indeed, it is by the prophets that the Divine is made known to mankind.

As the demonstrations concerning Divinity and prophethood appeal to reason and sense, so also do those concerning death and resurrection. The intuition of eternity possessed by mankind actually arises from the eternal life itself. If it were not so, no such intuition could exist within the bounds of human experience or conception.

As for the Divine Books: they are the Words of God. Of these, the Quran has come down to us uncorrupted. If all the jinn and man­kind were together to attempt to produce a verse compa­rable to the verses of the Quran, they could not do it.

We do not intend here to discuss how all the branches of the principles of the din are in accord with sense and rea­son. Our aim is only to argue that all matters related to faith in Islam can be demonstrated by reason. Yet such demonstration means little or nothing at the level of truly profound human perception.

Every act of God is by definition in accord with sense and reason since He is the All-Wise and the All-Knowing Whose works are purposeful, not in vain. We are bound to conclude that, compared to the works of God, the works of the most skilled of men are almost of no sig­nificance. The world given to us within which we live exceeds, al­ways and by far, all that our living adds to that world; and even what we add is only by God. We can derive from this a clearer realization that God has a definite purpose in His every act. That is a realization wholly pleasing to sense and reason.

We cannot but believe in God, the All-Mighty, such is His Majesty which we apprehend through, on the one hand, contemplation of the Divine laws that operate in the world about us, and through, on the other hand, in­ward personal conviction.

That believing in God, that sense of His Being, whether in the outer world or within ourselves, inevita­bly leads to submission to God. In this way a path moving from sense and reason has ended in submission. And submission means a willing, intended obedience to God in all His commands and prohibitions - by obser­vance of prayer, fasting, alms-giving, and pilgrimage, and by avoidance of usury, bribery, intoxicating drinks, adultery and the like evils.

God has sure reasons for His commands and prohibi­tions, some of which we can understand. One reason for them is, to give an example, the benefits that we derive, individually as well as collectively, from abiding by them. There are many reasons why each of the five prayers must be done in its own time (self-discipline and order, stability of faith and community, for example). The manner of praying is also prescribed for definite rea­sons. The great value of the washing of certain parts of the body in prepa­ration for worship (wudu) is obvious. Congregational prayer plays a great part in enabling and sustaining the life of a believing community. Zakat, the alms-tax, contributes significantly to preserving respon­sibility and balance be­tween the rich and the poor in society, reminding man of his social responsibility and purifying man of attachment to wealth. Fasting is of unde­niable benefit in respect of man’s health, his understanding the pains of the hungry and strengthening his resistance to the impulses of his evil-commanding self. As a further ex­ample, let us add that the Islamic penal code (in a social context created by the Is­lamic community abiding by the Divine commands) will also, if studied in the light of sense and reason, lead to submission to the All-Wise and All-Mighty.

Regarding hajj, the Quran says: ‘Pilgrimage to the House is a duty to God for all who are able to make the journey (Al-’Imran, 3.97). That is a clear command. If we hear and obey it without question, we make the pil­grimage, and this constitutes an act of submission. To what does this act of submission lead? To the experience of hajj which, in turn, leads us to contemplate its bene­fits. We see that the hajj operates as a world-wide con­ference for Mus­lims, an occasion for them to be to­gether for the sake of God without discrimination of race or sex or color or level of education.

Whether we start from an act of submission and the use of our sense and reason, or we use our sense and reason and are thereby led to submission, Islam is confirmed. For this din is grounded both in sense and reason and in sub­mission. It is a system put into operation by God and it could not have been ordered otherwise.

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God certainly knows how we act and live in this world, whether we obey His commands or not. So why has He created us and sent to this world? 

Last Updated on July 22, 2000

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