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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Abbas.

Reasoning and Spirituality

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Salams

When my Christian mates generally explain their idea of spirituality, in order to connect with God, they advise that, if I were to seek truth (regarding christianity), I will have to reach to God with the sincerity of my heart, and ultimately God will show me the right path. This makes sense at the fundamental level and we have similar Islamic teachings as well. Ofcourse unless we don't commit ourselves to anything with sincerity, we can't progress forward.

When comparing my religion (Islam) with Christianity, I notice that Islam also encourages and focus' on reasoning, links it to our intelligence and commits to explaining the religion (in a way that human intelligence understands the reasoning behind the basic beliefs or practical programs offered by Islam). I am usually interested in reading the Islamic history in which our Prophet or Imams explain the reasoning behind the primary or fundamental beliefs. Because this is something that encourages me to learn more about the religion and to connect myself with God. However, I don't generally find the same same approach used by christianity (or should I say, the few christian friends I personally know). Does it have to do with the fundamentals beliefs of Christianity or is this because of certain cultures or peoples' lack of knowledge ? Would like to read your comments regarding this. If there are useful resources which shed light on reasoning of various Christian beliefs, I would really appreciate ....

Since I don't have many jew friends (Surprise surprise :D) - well I know a couple but we're not really close friends to the extent that we would discuss religion - anyways, I would appreciate if members (following judaism) can shed light on this topic as per their religion's teachings.

My personal understanding (which is mostly based on Islamic teachings) is that spirituality and reasoning go side by side. In other words, we cannot elevate to higher spiritual levels without knowledge & understanding of the truth. And in order to reach to the truth, we have to use reasoning because when we apply reasoning in our studies, we use our God gifted intelligence to differentiate between right and wrong or to differentiate between two rights and two wrongs. What are your thoughts about this subject ?

Thankyou

Fi-Amanillah

Edited by inshaAllah

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When my Christian mates generally explain their idea of spirituality, in order to connect with God, they advise that, if I were to seek truth (regarding christianity), I will have to reach to God with the sincerity of my heart, and ultimately God will show me the right path.

Hello, I have to actually disagree with you Christian friends. I don't believe that we can seek God of our own will. The Bible teaches that the will of man is fallen and affected by sin. It teaches that all of mans aspects, the will, the intellect and the emotions are tainted by sin so that man is a slave to sin and dead in sin. We are dead in sin, at emnity with God and we do not seek him because of these very things.

So, while one can honestly seek God as you have said the truth is it was God who was seeking him first. I hope that makes sense. If a man makes any step toward finding the true God it was only because the true God gave him the grace to seek him in the first place. Man alone with out any interaction from the divine will never find God.

When comparing my religion (Islam) with Christianity, I notice that Islam also encourages and focus' on reasoning, links it to our intelligence and commits to explaining the religion (in a way that human intelligence understands the reasoning behind the basic beliefs or practical programs offered by Islam). I am usually interested in reading the Islamic history in which our Prophet or Imams explain the reasoning behind the primary or fundamental beliefs. Because this is something that encourages me to learn more about the religion and to connect myself with God.

Christianity also emphasis the place of the intellect in reasoning. John 1:1 teaches us that Jesus Christ was the rational principle/logos or even logic of God that became flesh itself. Paul tells us that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and we are told the tear down arguments (which assumes counter arguments). So, there is no lack of demands made to Christians in their scriptures regarding thinking as is often asserted by Christians and Muslims as well.

However, I don't generally find the same same approach used by christianity (or should I say, the few christian friends I personally know). Does it have to do with the fundamentals beliefs of Christianity or is this because of certain cultures or peoples' lack of knowledge ? Would like to read your comments regarding this. If there are useful resources which shed light on reasoning of various Christian beliefs, I would really appreciate ....

I would say that overall, there are diverging views. But, I also believe that one should begin with an anthropology. For example there are mostly four competing views of the doctrine of man in what I would call "Christendom".

-Eastern Orthodox ------- Roman Catholicism ------- Arminianism ----- Calvinism-

Eastern Orthodoxy, denies the fall of Adam as affecting his progeny, therefore the effects of sin on his posterity are not as tragic as they are for example in Calvinism.

Roman Catholicism teaches that the fall of Adam made man sick in sin, and not necessarily dead in sin.

Arminian Protestantism teaches that man is dead, BUT has a free will still. That the death of Christ somehow loosened the deadness of mans sin

Calvinism affirms a doctrine of total depravity, and total inability, mans will is so fallen that only an act of grace can be shown to men. Man is dead in sin, and his will is bound to sin so that only GOd can free us from our love of sin by his grace through Christ.

Now, why a doctrine of man needs a doctrine of how one reasons should be plain and simple, as a Calvinist, I would say that your reasoning will always fail in the spiritual dimension it will also fail in the ultimate sense because you are not reasoning along the assumptions of what the scriptures teach. Left alone you will not find God in that sense. I hope I make it clear, this doctrine is called the 'noetic' effects of sin on the mind. Sin affected our total composition so that nothing is left untouched.

Does that make sense?

Take Care -

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Hi InshaAllah,

Quote from Post 1:

When my Christian mates generally explain their idea of spirituality, in order to connect with God, they advise that, if I were to seek truth (regarding Christianity), I will have to reach to God with the sincerity of my heart, and ultimately God will show me the right path. This makes sense at the fundamental level and we have similar Islamic teachings as well. Of course unless we don't commit ourselves to anything with sincerity, we can't progress forward. --- End of quote.

Response, --- This is the basis of a very good discussion and I will answer the first part concisely so that we might continue to discuss the various points of similarity and difference.

When your Christian mates explain their idea of Christianity, they perhaps explain it as it is presented in Surah 58:22:

Pickthall: Thou wilt not find folk who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving those who oppose Allah and His messenger, even though they be their fathers or their sons or their brethren or their clan. As for such, He hath written faith upon their hearts and hath strengthened them with a Spirit from Him, and He will bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide. Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. They are Allah's party. Lo! is it not Allah's party who are the successful?

Yusuf Ali: Thou wilt not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day, loving those who resist God and His Apostle, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (for ever). God will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of God. Truly it is the Party of God that will achieve Felicity.

--- This really is saying, --- Those who truly ‘believe God and His message leading up to the Last Day,’ do not spend their time with unbelievers. If they are dedicated to God, then HE comes first. --- Family members who are opposed to faith, are no doubt witnesses to, --- but not closely associated with, because ‘What communion does Light have with darkness.’

--- For such (the true believers) He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a Spirit (the Holy Spirit) from Himself.

This speaks of the process, --- when we come to God, or when God draws us unto Himself, --- we have to come through ‘faith.’ --- Our little ‘faith’ is strengthened by His big ‘Faith,’ and as we respond to Him, He gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit (from Himself).

This is where the term, ‘Born Spiritually,’ ‘Born from above,’ or ‘Born again’ comes from.

(This is the experience of salvation through Christ, --- and there are many ‘growing pains’ --- but):

--- The interesting thing about this verse is that after this experience of having His Spirit within, it gives the assurance of ‘Salvation,’ --- or a home in heaven.

--- This indicates that, ‘They are the Party of God that will achieve Felicity’ (success, or the Ultimate Triumph).

Other translaters say:

Khalifa: For these, He decrees faith into their hearts, and supports them with inspiration from Him, and admits them into gardens with flowing streams wherein they abide forever. GOD is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. These are the party of GOD. Most assuredly, GOD's party are the winners.

Arberry: Those -- He has written faith upon their hearts, and He has confirmed them with a Spirit from Himself; and He shall admit them into gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein to dwell forever, God being well-pleased with them, and they well-pleased with Him. Those are God's party; why, surely God's party -- they are the prosperers.

Rodwell: On the hearts of these hath God graven the Faith, and with His own Spirit hath He strengthened them; and He will bring them into gardens, beneath whose shades the rivers flow, to remain therein eternally. God is well pleased in them, and they in Him. These are God's party! Shall not, of a truth, a party of God be for ever blessed?

Knowing God Spiritually has to start with faith, even as it says in Surah 3:55:

Yusuf Ali: Behold! God said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection.

This speaks of separation even of family members who disbelieve, even to the ‘Last Day,’ or ‘Day of Resurrection.’

(Some may accept and believe later in life as they see Faith working in others).

Placid

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I won't go into a big theological discussion about this, but of course spirituality and logic go hand in hand!

In fact, science carries significant weight in determining halakah (Jewish law). The Rabbis also categorize the mitzvot (commandments) according to logic. Here is a quote I pulled off the internet :) :

"There are three kinds of commandments contained in the Torah:
mishpatim
,
eidot
and
chukim
.
Chukim
("decrees") are laws which transcend our understanding and which we obey simply because they are the word of HaShem.
Eidot
("testimonies") can be rationally explained, but they are not necessitated by rational considerations: had HaShem not commanded them, man would not have invented them. Finally,
mishpatim
("laws") are laws which reason would have compelled man to devise even if they had not been Divinely revealed; as the Hakhamim say, 'If the Torah had not been given, we would have learnt modesty from the cat and honesty from the ant.' "

salaam and shalom.

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The problem is we sometimes see logic and we think it is unlogic especially if we see something extra ordinary like story of Moses and khidhr in quran .

The narration says as I remember that Moses was delivering a sermon on children of israel then he asked them who is more knowledgable than me ! because at that momment he forgot that God is the knower , God revealed to him that there is one of our servants ,he lives in a far island ,he is more knowledgable than you .

[Pickthal 18:65] Then found they one of Our slaves, unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and had taught him knowledge from Our presence.

[Pickthal 18:66] Moses said unto him: May I follow thee, to the end that thou mayst teach me right conduct of that which thou hast been taught?

[Pickthal 18:67] He said: Lo! thou canst not bear with me.

[Pickthal 18:68] How canst thou bear with that whereof thou canst not compass any knowledge?

[Pickthal 18:69] He said: Allah willing, thou shalt find me patient and I shall not in aught gainsay thee.

[Pickthal 18:70] He said: Well, if thou go with me, ask me not concerning aught till I myself make mention of it unto thee.

[Pickthal 18:71] So they twain set out till, when they were in the ship, he made a hole therein. (Moses) said: Hast thou made a hole therein to drown the folk thereof? Thou verily hast done a dreadful thing.

[Pickthal 18:72] He said: Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not bear with me?

[Pickthal 18:73] (Moses) said: Be not wroth with me that I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my fault.

[Pickthal 18:74] So they twain journeyed on till, when they met a lad, he slew him. (Moses) said: What! Hast thou slain an innocent soul who hath slain no man? Verily thou hast done a horrid thing.

[Pickthal 18:75] He said: Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not bear with me?

[Pickthal 18:76] (Moses) said: If I ask thee after this concerning aught, keep not company with me. Thou hast received an excuse from me.

[Pickthal 18:77] So they twain journeyed on till, when they came unto the folk of a certain township, they asked its folk for food, but they refused to make them guests. And they found therein a wall upon the point of falling into ruin, and he repaired it. (Moses) said: If thou hadst wished, thou couldst have taken payment for it.

[Pickthal 18:78] He said: This is the parting between thee and me! I will announce unto thee the interpretation of that thou couldst not bear with patience.

[Pickthal 18:79] As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working on the river, and I wished to mar it, for there was a king behind them who is taking every ship by force.

[Pickthal 18:80] And as for the lad, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief.

[Pickthal 18:81] And we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in purity and nearer to mercy.

[Pickthal 18:82] And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father had been righteous, and thy Lord intended that they should come to their full strength and should bring forth their treasure as a mercy from their Lord; and I did it not upon my own command. Such is the interpretation of that wherewith thou couldst not bear.

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Greetings,

When comparing my religion (Islam) with Christianity, I notice that Islam also encourages and focus' on reasoning, ... However, I don't generally find the same same approach used by christianity (or should I say, the few christian friends I personally know). Does it have to do with the fundamentals beliefs of Christianity or is this because of certain cultures or peoples' lack of knowledge ? Would like to read your comments regarding this. If there are useful resources which shed light on reasoning of various Christian beliefs, I would really appreciate ....

I think you will find that often it is due to a lack of knowledge. If you speak with people who delve into theology, or even if you do some research yourself, you will find that Christian faith and reasoning go hand-in-hand. If you take any philosophy course at university (philosophy is all about reasoning), you will surely encounter many Christian philosophers, perhaps the most famous being Saint Thomas Aquinas and, before him, Saint Augustine.

On the specific topic of Christian faith and reasoning, let me quote from a speech the current Pope Benedict XVI gave in 2006 at a university in Germany:

... The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. ...

John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the Word".

This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, [text unclear] with logos. Logos means both reason and word - a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis.

In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" (cf. Acts 16:6-10) - this vision can be interpreted as a "distillation" of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry. ...

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which, in its later developments, led to the claim that we can only know God's voluntas ordinata. Beyond this is the realm of God's freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done.

This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazn and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God's transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions.

As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which - as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated - unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language.

God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently, Christian worship is, again to quote Paul [text unclear] worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).

You should probably read the entire speech to get a more clear sense of the arguments. There is a lot in there which my brief quotes do not come close to covering. In particular, he discusses how trends in the last few centuries have been to limit reason to the strictly empirical and that this imposes artificial limits on humanity that may have undesirable consequences (eg subjectivity in morals).

If you want to read more, Pope John Paul II has also written an encyclical in 1998, Faith and Reason: http://www.ewtn.com/library/ENCYC/jp2fides.htm

A brief overview is available at this link: http://users.binary.net/polycarp/Fideset.html

I used it to quickly grab these quotes from the encyclical for you:

If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is not because they lack the means to do so, but because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way. [at 19]

It is faith which stirs reason to move beyond all isolation and willingly to run risks so that it may attain whatever is beautiful, good and true. Faith thus becomes the convinced and convincing advocate of reason. [at 56]

It is the one and the same God who establishes and guarantees the intelligibility and reasonableness of the natural order of things upon which scientists confidently depend, and who reveals himself as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [at 34]

Although faith, a gift of God, is not based on reason, it can certainly not dispense with it. At the same time, it becomes apparent that reason needs to be reinforced by faith, in order to discover horizons it cannot reach on its own. [at 67]

The Church remains profoundly convinced that faith and reason ‘mutually support each other’; each influences the other as they offer to each other a purifying critique and a stimulus to pursue the search for deeper understanding. [at 100]

Faith, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, can lead a Christian to greater and deeper knowledge and understanding. Of course, while some people may enjoy the pursuit of knowledge, it is all for nothing if we do not believe in God and follow his teachings. Our salvation through Jesus Christ (read John 3; at verse 16, Jesus said: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.') is what is truly important.

Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Whose Son Is the Christ

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?"

"The son of David," they replied.

43 He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says,

44 " 'The Lord said to my Lord:

"Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies

under your feet." ' 45 If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

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Hi InshaAllah,

Quote from Post 1:

When comparing my religion (Islam) with Christianity, I notice that Islam also encourages and focus' on reasoning, links it to our intelligence and commits to explaining the religion (in a way that human intelligence understands the reasoning behind the basic beliefs or practical programs offered by Islam). --- End of quote.

We certainly use reasoning in our lives and try to understand all things that interest us.

In the field of psychology there are many learned people that explain live and human nature from their particular viewpoint and, if you study them through with that in mind, most of their conclusions and teachings are simply --- 'Common Sense.' --- Which, when we get beyond selfishness and prejudice, we agree, is 'good advise.'

One difference in the teaching of Jesus is that, --- where the world mindset is usually, "do unto others as they do unto you,'

Jesus taught that, "We should do unto others as 'we would have them do' unto us."

In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, he makes some hard demands:

38. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

39. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

40. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

41. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

42. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Love Your Enemies

43. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ --- (There was no law that actually said 'hate your enemy,' but it was implied, and people unfortunately lived by it).

44. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

45. that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

46. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

47. And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

48. Therefore you shall be perfect (complete, mature) just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

7:12 --- is called, "The Golden Rule":

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

It is this philosophy from Jesus, the Great Psychologist, that the spirit of 'generosity' has still prevailed in 'so called' Christian countries, --- even though the people do not live according to the Scriptures.

Another application of this teaching is that, Christian groups that practice their faith are generally non violent, and would rather be 'wronged by others' than to 'fight for their rights.'

Another Scripture says, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. --- Therefore, most Christians live by a philosophy of, 'Live and let live,' --- and, 'do good to others as you have opportunity.'

--- Somebody said, --- "Give, as the Lord prospers you, lest the Lord prosper you according to what you give."

Sorry, we don't always live up to it.

Enough for now.

Placid

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Salams Folks

Thankyou so much for your contribution.

Peter2, I really appreciate you posting those two links to "Pop John Paul 2: Faith and Reason" and "Faith vs. Reason: A Quick Glance at the Pope�s Latest Encyclical". I think these are the sort of references I was looking for.

Marantha, the breakdown of various ideological perspectives within "Christendom" is very interesting. It helps understand Christianity in a broader perspective. You mentioned that the will of man is fallen and affected by sin. Are you reffering to the sins that we all tend to committ in our daily lives or are you reffering to the sin of Adam ? I think I would agree that since we are fallibles, we are all likely to make errors and mistakes. Hence, we're affected and fallen. This is why, even in Islam, we have prayers emphasizing on Gods Mercy & forgiveness. I think the only difference in our views is that, I believe our survival is somewhat in our own hands. So even though we need God's grace, we also need to make the effort to pray to Him and ask for His Grace. As there is a saying of our Prophet, "When you take one step towards God, He takes 10 steps towards you".

Placid, I've been reading your posts and trying to gather my thoughts. I will inshaAllah respond to your comments shortly.

I won't go into a big theological discussion about this, but of course spirituality and logic go hand in hand!

In fact, science carries significant weight in determining halakah (Jewish law). The Rabbis also categorize the mitzvot (commandments) according to logic. Here is a quote I pulled off the internet :) :

"There are three kinds of commandments contained in the Torah:
mishpatim
,
eidot
and
chukim
.
Chukim
("decrees") are laws which transcend our understanding and which we obey simply because they are the word of HaShem.
Eidot
("testimonies") can be rationally explained, but they are not necessitated by rational considerations: had HaShem not commanded them, man would not have invented them. Finally,
mishpatim
("laws") are laws which reason would have compelled man to devise even if they had not been Divinely revealed; as the Hakhamim say, 'If the Torah had not been given, we would have learnt modesty from the cat and honesty from the ant.' "

salaam and shalom.

Thanks Netzari. Just a quick question: do these commandments refer to the jurisprudential laws of judaism or do they also cover Primary beliefs ? Also, whenever you have spare time, can I trouble you to share some links which explain Primary beliefs accompanied by reasoning ? For example, if we believe in one God, do we have references from Torah or other collections of the sayings of Moses or ancient scholars which clarify the reasoning behind this belief ? As in... Why God, why 1 God, why not two or more, how do we understand & describe the entity of God ? e.t.c e.t.c.

The problem is we sometimes see logic and we think it is unlogic especially if we see something extra ordinary like story of Moses and khidhr in quran

Yonus bro, I didn't get it. Do you mean to say that sometimes we ignore reasoning or logic because we are unable to comprehend the entirety of ideas/beliefs ?

Fi-Amanillah

Edited by inshaAllah

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Hi InshaAllah,

Quote from Post 1:

My personal understanding (which is mostly based on Islamic teachings) is that spirituality and reasoning go side by side. In other words, we cannot elevate to higher spiritual levels without knowledge & understanding of the truth. And in order to reach to the truth, we have to use reasoning because when we apply reasoning in our studies, we use our God gifted intelligence to differentiate between right and wrong or to differentiate between two rights and two wrongs. What are your thoughts about this subject ? --- End of quote.

I have one more aspect to add.

The problem with blending spirituality with reason is that reason always dominates.

Spirituality depends on faith in God. --- Not faith in our ability or our intelligence, but faith in a Supernatural Being.

If we can understand something, it is not in the realm of faith. --- Faith begins where understanding leaves off.

A Scripture from Proverbs 3 says:

5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

6. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

This speaks of full reliance on God. --- To 'lean not on your own understanding' pretty well means that we need guidance beyond our own understanding and reasoning.

So Spiritual guidance depends on God's Holy Spirit to direct us.

2:87. Yusuf Ali: We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit.

5:110. When God said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity; and how I taught thee the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel;

16:102. Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims.

42:52. (This reveals the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that was given to Muhammad):

And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. Thou knewest not what the Scripture was, nor what the Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo! thou verily dost guide unto a right path,

--- It seems that Muhammad was a natural man with faith in God, but didn't understand the Spiritual realm. After he was 'inspired' by the Holy Spirit, he was enlightened in the knowledge of the Scriptures, and given the gift of Faith (which means relying on God without depending on outward circumstances).

--- But We have made it (the understanding of the Scripture, and Faith) a light whereby We guide whom We will of our bondmen (servants).

--- This is the kind of guidance that Muhammad and Imam Ali had, --- but I don't see the same guidance in Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. --- I may be wrong, but it appears that all of their actions were in the natural and a according to their own understanding. --- So, if that is right, it shows the difference, doesn't it?

This is where I fear for our own reasoning and understanding as an alternative to God's guidance.

We can be influenced by circumstances, and tempted by the devil, who is lurking to trip us up.

A good philosophy is that, 'it is better to do nothing than to do the wrong thing,' --- but sometimes we are called on to make quick decisions, when we are apt to act on impulse, or expediency.

--- Right then it is good to be able to say, 'Lord, what would You have me do?'

58:22. (I used this verse in a previous post). Thou wilt not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day, loving those who resist God and His Apostle, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. --- For such (those who believe in God) He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a Spirit from Himself (the Holy Spirit). And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (for ever). God will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of God. Truly it is the Party of God that will achieve Felicity (success, will be the winners).

--- (This is why I believe in God for His salvation, and do not rely on anything I could do to attain it).

There are some verses in Scripture that speak of the 'natural' man and the 'spiritual' man, from 1 Cor 2:

10. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

11. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Anyway, I present this all for your consideration.

Placid

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When my Christian mates generally explain their idea of spirituality, in order to connect with God, they advise that, if I were to seek truth (regarding christianity), I will have to reach to God with the sincerity of my heart, and ultimately God will show me the right path. This makes sense at the fundamental level and we have similar Islamic teachings as well. Ofcourse unless we don't commit ourselves to anything with sincerity, we can't progress forward.

When comparing my religion (Islam) with Christianity, I notice that Islam also encourages and focus' on reasoning, links it to our intelligence and commits to explaining the religion (in a way that human intelligence understands the reasoning behind the basic beliefs or practical programs offered by Islam). I am usually interested in reading the Islamic history in which our Prophet or Imams explain the reasoning behind the primary or fundamental beliefs. Because this is something that encourages me to learn more about the religion and to connect myself with God. .....

Since I don't have many jew friends (Surprise surprise :D) - well I know a couple but we're not really close friends to the extent that we would discuss religion - anyways, I would appreciate if members (following judaism) can shed light on this topic as per their religion's teachings.

My personal understanding (which is mostly based on Islamic teachings) is that spirituality and reasoning go side by side. In other words, we cannot elevate to higher spiritual levels without knowledge & understanding of the truth. And in order to reach to the truth, we have to use reasoning because when we apply reasoning in our studies, we use our God gifted intelligence to differentiate between right and wrong or to differentiate between two rights and two wrongs. What are your thoughts about this subject ?

Hi,

If I understand your question correctly (and to be honest I'm not 100% sure that I do), I think it's fair to say that Judaism is more like Islam than Christianity in this particular respect.

In Judaism, our primary approach to "spirituality" (which is a loaded word with Christian connotations, but I'll use it anyway) is intensive text study. This does not mean sitting in a quiet room reading a book by yourself. It means study with a chavruta (study partner), on a regular basis, interacting and teaching each other and learning from each other and ARGUING (often loudly) over the text's meaning. Probably the exact opposite of the Christian image of a monk in quietude ... a bet midrash (study hall) is almost always loud, filled with often heated discussions. In this respect the Talmud is a classic example: it consists largely of recorded arguments between our sages, sometimes announcing which view prevailed, sometimes not, but always recording and preserving the minority views. And the Talmud, like many Jewish texts, is always printed with multiple commentaries in the margins, and often commentaries on the commentaries (see sample page below)

http://www.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/TalmudPage.html

often disagreeing with each other virulently, spread over hundreds of years, seamlessly interacting, so that when I say "I think this passage [from 1500 yrs ago] is saying X," and my study partner says "But Rashi [from 1000 yrs ago] disagrees with you," and then I say, "But Tosafot [from 900 years ago] disagrees with YOU," and then he pulls out another book with additional commentaries from the last 900 years, it is as if we are all of us (including those dead now for 1800 years) sitting in the same bet midrash, debating and discussing and learning from each other. This is how we access God's will, and holiness.

To be sure, there are other Jewish techniques of "spirituality," including meditation (hitbodedut), contemplation (hitbonenut), mussar (a discipline of developing ethical behavior), and other practices. But learning is the primary one. Indeed, Hillel, one of our most esteemed sages (from approximately 2100 years ago), taught that "an ignoramus cannot be pious." (Pirkei Avot 2:5). But do not take from this that learning was restricted to some elite. One of the most fascinating exhibits in the YIVO Museum of Jewish History in New York City is a bound volume of the Mishnah (an 1800-year old text of Jewish law that is extremely difficult to read because it is written in an incredibly terse, often cryptic style) with the inscription "The Society of Woodcutters for the Study of Mishnah, Berditchev." The fact that the woodcutters (an occupation not requiring a high degree of education) of Berditchev (an out-of-the-way city in Byelorussia) would have their own society for studying Mishnah implies a level of education and devotion something like assuming that all the day-laborers in America had master's degrees in theology.

I would also commend to you the works of Rambam, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, known to the Western world as Maimonides. Rambam was a bit of an extreme rationalist; he lived in the 12th century, having fled the Almohad persecutions and eventually ending up in Egypt, where he became acquainted with both the Muslim philosophy of the time (kalaam, I think it was called) and the classical Greek philosophy. Rambam basically argued that the central religious duty is to acquire a deep knowledge of the world. You can pick up copies of his books translated into English in any major public library in the U.S., but if you are Muslim and your Arabic (or, I should say, your 12th-century Arabic) is good, you might prefer to read the originals, since Rambam wrote most of his works in Arabic. For a non-Jew, I would start with "The Guide for the Perplexed," which he addressed to young people who had become fascinated with Greco-Arabic philosophy and were not sure how it fit in with Judaism.

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