Opinions And Facts
I appreciate your response to my letter, which you have entitled
HERMENEUTICS OF THOUGHT. It is precisely the response I was hoping for, as
it reaffirmed my point that you ought to have made clear your premise that
religion and reason are separate. That you have taken the time to
elaborately make this point shows that perhaps you are not as arrogant as I
have accused you of being.
As you would have expected, however, I am not going to agree with what your
arguments. I am especially disappointed that you have not made the effort to
distinguish Islam from other religions, nor Muslims from Islam. Again I will
make it clear that it is not my wish to defend religion, especially not viz
the definition you have put forth. Nonetheless, I will proceed to insert
these missing elements as best as I can.
Starting with 'Religion's genesis is God, Reason's is human'; is it possible
for a religion to exist without a God, or with many Gods? I think it is.
This is not a negligible point either, because the tool that humans have to
dissect a set of notions, as you enthusiastically point out, is reason. The
capacity of human reason analyzes religion thoroughly. Some have more
capacity to reason, and some less. Those who cling on to faith contrary to
reason only do so until they run out of reasonable defences, and of course,
this all within their capacity.
When discussing a particular religion, then, it is unhelpful to lump all
religions together without analyzing them. As you pointed out in your last
article, Socrates famously said that 'The unexamined life is not worth
living.' I responded by reminding you that Islam has been examined and
re-examined many times over, not just by Islamic scholars amongst
themselves, but in general Muslims and non-Muslims alike have taken up the
challenge of proving or disproving the sum of God's, or Islam's logic if you
like. What has been the result do you think?
Yes, Muslims have disagreed about things. What things have they disagreed
upon, and what things have they agreed upon? It is important to know these
things and to challenge them all point by point; moreso for the Muslim then
for the non-Muslim, because Allah and his Prophet have asked Muslims to do
Playing with definitions and the arrangements of religion and reason and
telling me that they fit into a certain arrangement is a human invention. I
will not play your game, and engage the definitions and relationships of
reason and religion that you have put forth. Rather, I will simplify
everything in terms that most will agree on, probably even yourself, Mr.
Religion in its loftiest definition is a system of beliefs. Reason, or
logic, is a system of analytical tools. To say that they are complementary
but separate or what-have-you does not do much when it comes to the direct
engagement of a religion. What you have, I think, refused to stress is that
a religion, and what I am saying, Islam, supercedes reason. What do I mean?
Islam is an already prepared system of beliefs, which no bombardment of
criticism or logic can find any contradictions or incorrect statements. For
every single point that the critics of Islam have come up with, there has
been a response.
Now what happens when that response cannot be argued with? The critic
concedes the point and proceeds to find another 'weakness'. The immortality
of Islam lies within the Qu'ran's ability to be unrefuted. Let me remind you
Ghoma, that Allah has challenged all to challenge the Qu'ran.
Back to the critic, when he runs out of points to try to expose, he/she
either (1) gives up and chooses to disbelieve anyway, (2) intensifies
his/her analysis until another 'weakness' is found, or (3) concedes that
Islam is the truth and becomes a Muslim. Option (2) only leads to (1) or
(3). I am bringing this up to demonstrate where you stand. It is clearly
beyond you to admit defeat or concede on any points, where I can proudly say
that I know when I am wrong.
Now what does all this have to do with reason and religion being separate or
married? Everything, but for reasons other than what you have illustrated.
If reason and religion ARE separate, what then? You can use reason to
dissect and dismantle all religions. But if reason cannot dissect and
dismantle Islam, and in fact, science and other areas of logic further
solidify things that are mentioned in the Qu'ran, then does that mean that
reason failed? No. Reason is a toolbox, and religion is a system. You are
correct in your lofty analysis that they are not the same, but does the
prevalance or existence of one deny the existence of the other?
To illustrate what I mean; you have an engine in a car, and it is supposed
to perform a task. The engine is a system; the religion is a system. Next
you have a toolbox and a list of parts that the engine needs in order to
work. You use the tools to install the parts on the engine. Surely, the
engine, the tools, and the parts are separate. Now if you install the parts
in accordance with the design of the system, the engine should run. If it
doesn't, its back to the drawing board. If it does, well there you go, you
have something that will get you from A to B.
Islam is a running engine. It is my firm belief that others are not. At this
point, Mr. Ghoma, you can keep telling me that all engines are alike; they
don't work, and you will do very little to convince me that I am wrong. Grab
your toolkit, and start ripping up the pieces and see if you can find a
problem with Islam.
A. A. Omar