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Opinions And Facts

Mr. Ghoma,

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 so.

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. Ghoma.

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.

Asalamu Alaikum

A. A. Omar


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