Jump to content
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!) ×
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!)
In the Name of God بسم الله

Can Muslims Question Their Faith And God's Rules?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

  • Advanced Member

Many people told me that Muslims here aren't supposed to question their faith and all of God's rules. Yet I have a completely different understanding. Especially well-educated Muslims (as well as well-educated Christians) should question everything. Religious beliefs without critical thinking are empty and meaningless. Believers with brains running on autopilot not only dishonor God's wonderful creation like the universe, planet Earth, life on Earth and especially human beings capable of making some sense of our universe. Humans are not mindless robots blindly following some binary code being carried out in their CPUs.

But questioning our faiths and all of God's rules by applying critical thinking can also lead to answers why many elements of our faiths and their rules actually make a lot of sense. Human altruism for example does have survival value, if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective. Then look at Zakat, the third pillar of Islam. It makes a lot of sense. Or take daily prayer. It makes a lot of sense. It slows down our minds, especially in a technologically advanced world where everything seems to accelerate. Prayers can give us back our strength and focus.

Jesus said that if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. This metaphor is reflected in various nonviolent resistance strategies that led India into independence and helped Martin Luther King's dream come true. It even brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989.

I think many rules are actually rules invented by humans. They are cultural traditions. For example that Catholic priests can't marry or that Muslims should not eat pork. The latter was invented because there were no refrigerators in the 5th century and extreme heat can render pork inedible. If people eat it they can get very sick. But there's more it. Food and the preparation of food became a symbol and a set of rituals which are very important for social bonding. Therefore even in 2010 with plenty of refrigerators not eating pork can make sense. Muslims share common rituals. Christians share common rituals. Wikipedia states that the purposes of rituals are varied; with religious obligations or ideals, satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, social and moral education, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one's affiliation, obtaining social acceptance or approval for some event or just for the pleasure of the ritual itself.

So to me eating pork in an abstract form isn't a sin. Same as eating meat on Friday for Christians. It simply means that these believers do not share all rituals common in their religion. God loves people regardless of whether they eat pork or not. Right? God loves people when they care for the poor.

Masturbation is not a sin either. And I heard that liberal Muslims would agree. Correct? But if believers choose not to masturbate, this is fine. I think we have to keep in mind that religions do evolve. They cannot be frozen at a particular point in the past. Religions do have to make sense in the context of today's world. We have a better understanding of sexuality today compared to 1000 years ago.

If educated religious believers are convinced they are doing the right thing because of their critical thinking, then their belief has true value. If you force people to believe in God or even make threats that atheism is punishable by death and the belief in the Prophet is mandatory, such a belief is essentially worthless. Only after Muslims and Christians have dealt with their doubts and questioned their belief can they become true believers. Do you agree? Should Muslims question their faith and God's rules or not?

--------------------------

Education is key as a holistic, transparent, dialog-oriented process --Queen Rania Al Abdullah

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people --Eleanor Roosevelt

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member

Hey Mattbrowne,

I must say, that was a very thought provoking post. I completely agree with you when you say that religious beliefs need to be rationally justifiable. Having blind faith, in Islam, is considered as a very loathsome and repulsive characteristic to be found in Muslims, yet, many muslims, and non-muslims for that matter, still seem to have no interest in actually discerning the reasons why they follow the specific religion that they are associated with. They contend themselves with mundane activities, the natural disposition of seeking the truth has vanished from their personalities. It is indeed imperative to settle down and to rationally and critically approach ones religion, this will help in ascertaining whether that specific religion is right and whether the customs and rules of that religion are actually acceptable to the mind. One needs to question, within reason, the doctrines of one's religion, and if the doubts that may arise can then be quelled by logical thought and deliberation then one will have a legitimate and valid reason to believe in the truth of that religion. The pros and cons must be weighed and the true religion will be that, in whose very essence intellectual inquiry is greatly encouraged, and in which inattentiveness is looked down upon.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

Hey Mattbrowne,

I must say, that was a very thought provoking post. I completely agree with you when you say that religious beliefs need to be rationally justifiable. Having blind faith, in Islam, is considered as a very loathsome and repulsive characteristic to be found in Muslims, yet, many muslims, and non-muslims for that matter, still seem to have no interest in actually discerning the reasons why they follow the specific religion that they are associated with. They contend themselves with mundane activities, the natural disposition of seeking the truth has vanished from their personalities. It is indeed imperative to settle down and to rationally and critically approach ones religion, this will help in ascertaining whether that specific religion is right and whether the customs and rules of that religion are actually acceptable to the mind. One needs to question, within reason, the doctrines of one's religion, and if the doubts that may arise can then be quelled by logical thought and deliberation then one will have a legitimate and valid reason to believe in the truth of that religion. The pros and cons must be weighed and the true religion will be that, in whose very essence intellectual inquiry is greatly encouraged, and in which inattentiveness is looked down upon.

If I have made a research on Ahlu Bayt and I have found them perfect, should I not be ready to take anything they give and stop from what ever they forbid.

It's good that you try to seek answers behind rulings, but the fact of the matter is you could only be completely satisfied and clear in the presence of the Imam (as).

Your aql could lead you astray without the teachings of Ahlu Bayt. So its' the job of the learned to think on these matters and not every Tom Richard, and Harry.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member

If I have made a research on Ahlu Bayt and I have found them perfect, should I not be ready to take anything they give and stop from what ever they forbid.

It's good that you try to seek answers behind rulings, but the fact of the matter is you could only be completely satisfied and clear in the presence of the Imam (as).

Your aql could lead you astray without the teachings of Ahlu Bayt. So its' the job of the learned to think on these matters and not every Tom Richard, and Harry.

I agree that for such rulings to be made, one must have gained an in depth knowledge of jurisprudence and the sciences of narrations, which is why I said that "One needs to question, within reason". If Imamah can be logically proven then it follows that whatever the Imams say is true. Now, to find out whether a ruling is actually from the Imams or is a fabrication the help of those whose respected field is to deal with such issues is needed. Beliefs must be individually looked into and one cannot follow others on the matters pertaining to belief. When belief is individually ascertained, the rulings that are made by those who are qualified must be accepted as that is exactly what our beliefs entail; the accepting of the rulings from sources whom we consider as being infallible and faultless through the medium of scholars who specialise in such topics. All in all, I agree completely with what you are saying, I just didn't properly express myself the first time.

Edited by MFAHH
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

Should Muslims question their faith and God's rules or not?

Yes, but there is a fine distinction between questioning why one should follow God's rules/deriving God's rules, and re-adjusting those rules in order to live a more 'modern' lifestyle as you just attempted to do above. Through mere guesswork, you managed to make pork and masturbation appear lawful for Muslims, which (from an Islamic perspective) is quite unholy to say the least. Divine commands are comprised of both their physical and spiritual aspects, and I think you may be inclined to agree that adherence to both aspects is necessary for true religious observance.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

Sure they can if they don't understand anything, if you sit around and accept every piece of information, you won't learn from it. You have to question it first to find the answer or truth to it, then accept it. Not get spoon fed etc. Once they understand it then they should accept it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

The whole Quran is nothing but a challenge to the minds. Think about this, reflect on this and so forth.

One of the wonderful story in the Holy Quran is the about Prophet Abraham (as). After blindly scarifying his son and God accepting his sacrifice, he asks God an innocent question. Can you bring life to death? Allah asks him, after all that you have no faith. Abraham replies, just to reassure my heart. God say OK, let me show you how.

And, when Abraham said, “My Lord, show me how you raise the dead”. God said, “Have you no faith?” He said, “Yes, but just to reassure my heart”. God said, “Then take four of the birds and train them to follow your call. Then place on every mountain a part of each them, then call them, they will come flying to you; and know that God is Exalted in Might, the Wise” (2:260).
Edited by aladdin
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

But are there any limits i.e. to what extent are we allowed to question?

There are no limits and there shouldn't be any otherwise the system would be self referential and circular.

For instance, if we ask typical Muslims why is Islam the right faith for them. Their answer would be on the lines, "Because Quran says so, or because Allah says so." But you have this information in the first place from either Quran, your parents or your local Maulvi. There should be an independent verification, outside Islam, of what we believe in or at least the basic tenets like Oneness of God, Prophethood etc. That's where questioning and reason comes into play.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

But are there any limits i.e. to what extent are we allowed to question?

(bismillah)

questioning in regards that you may learn and understand better is a good thing, and to this there are no limits...

it is when you question due to the fact you have doubts that Allah, His Prophet (saww) and the Aimmah (as) know what is best for you, or similar type of thinking, that it becomes a bad thing and destructive to self, that is also when you will not get the answers from Allah.

Fi Aman Allah

Edited by GhulameSayyeda
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • Advanced Member

Hey Mattbrowne,

I must say, that was a very thought provoking post. I completely agree with you when you say that religious beliefs need to be rationally justifiable. Having blind faith, in Islam, is considered as a very loathsome and repulsive characteristic to be found in Muslims, yet, many muslims, and non-muslims for that matter, still seem to have no interest in actually discerning the reasons why they follow the specific religion that they are associated with. They contend themselves with mundane activities, the natural disposition of seeking the truth has vanished from their personalities. It is indeed imperative to settle down and to rationally and critically approach ones religion, this will help in ascertaining whether that specific religion is right and whether the customs and rules of that religion are actually acceptable to the mind. One needs to question, within reason, the doctrines of one's religion, and if the doubts that may arise can then be quelled by logical thought and deliberation then one will have a legitimate and valid reason to believe in the truth of that religion. The pros and cons must be weighed and the true religion will be that, in whose very essence intellectual inquiry is greatly encouraged, and in which inattentiveness is looked down upon.

Hi there,

Sorry for my late reply. My job has kept me quite busy for the past week plus there are all these wonderful soccer matches going on in South Africa. Yes, I totally agree with you. There are many Christians as well that seem to have no interest in actually discerning the reasons why they follow Christianity. It really depends on the community and their ministers and bishops. In the US unfortunately there are many fundamentalists interpreting everything in the Bible literally. They don't understand the difference between poetry, myths, advice and historical events. I think myths are about "the human struggle to deal with the great passages of time and life—birth, death, marriage, the transitions from childhood to adulthood to old age. They meet a need in the psychological or spiritual nature of humans that has absolutely nothing to do with science. To try to turn a myth into a science, or a science into a myth, is an insult to myths, an insult to religion, and an insult to science." I wonder how Muslims understand mythology.

Yes, but there is a fine distinction between questioning why one should follow God's rules/deriving God's rules, and re-adjusting those rules in order to live a more 'modern' lifestyle as you just attempted to do above. Through mere guesswork, you managed to make pork and masturbation appear lawful for Muslims, which (from an Islamic perspective) is quite unholy to say the least. Divine commands are comprised of both their physical and spiritual aspects, and I think you may be inclined to agree that adherence to both aspects is necessary for true religious observance.

You might have misunderstood what I was trying to say. Not eating pork creates a strong bond among Muslims. Pilgrimage to Mecca creates a strong bond among Muslims, offers enlightenment and serves as a reminder on how to live a good and honest life and care for each other. Celebrating Christmas creates a strong bond among Christians. Sharing wine and bread during communion and lighting of candles creates a strong bond among Christians and serves as a reminder on how to live a good and honest life and care for each other. Rituals and symbols do make sense.

Because there are different ways to find God, there are also different roads that arrive at the same destination. Not eating pork is the Muslim way. Eating pork is the Christian way. We both find God (hopefully) therefore I said God loves all his children not only those from one particular religion. Modern Christianity has no issue with masturbation. Traditional Christianity does. Maybe the same applies to Islam, but you are the experts. Therefore my question.

One more question: What happens when two Imams disagree? Earlier it was said that believers can only be completely satisfied and clear in the presence of the Imam. Which one?

--------------------------

Education is key as a holistic, transparent, dialog-oriented process --Queen Rania Al Abdullah

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people --Eleanor Roosevelt

Edited by mattbrowne
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

People questioned Islam all the time even during the time of the Prophet (p). One person even asked Imam Ali (A) - what if there is really no God, to which the Imam responded by saying that he would still live his life the exact same way even if there was no God*. Any maulwi these days would throw a hissy fit if he was asked such a question.

[* Can't recall the source for the above but if you know please share it]

I recall an incident many years ago from my high school Islamic studied class when I threw a volley of questions at my pakistani teacher - If satan tempts everyonel then who tempted satan? how did the children of Adam & Eve marry since they were siblings? Staying true to his south asian roots, he got ticked off and suggested that satan was leading me astray for asking such questions.

The tradition of intolerance and authoritarianism in the Muslim world apparently seems to be a recent phenomenon, possibly as a result of half a millennium of being down in the dumps with a topping of battered self confidence.

Edited by thepeacemaker
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...
  • Advanced Member

There are no limits and there shouldn't be any otherwise the system would be self referential and circular.

For instance, if we ask typical Muslims why is Islam the right faith for them. Their answer would be on the lines, "Because Quran says so, or because Allah says so." But you have this information in the first place from either Quran, your parents or your local Maulvi. There should be an independent verification, outside Islam, of what we believe in or at least the basic tenets like Oneness of God, Prophethood etc. That's where questioning and reason comes into play.

Chapter of Impermissibility of Speaking about the Essence of Allah and Pondering in It, and Disputing about Religion and Speaking Sans the Words of the Imams (peace be upon them all) (the link is correct but it may take you to page not found, just click the concerned link in similar pages)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Advanced Member

Many people told me that Muslims here aren't supposed to question their faith and all of God's rules. Yet I have a completely different understanding. Especially well-educated Muslims (as well as well-educated Christians) should question everything. Religious beliefs without critical thinking are empty and meaningless. Believers with brains running on autopilot not only dishonor God's wonderful creation like the universe, planet Earth, life on Earth and especially human beings capable of making some sense of our universe. Humans are not mindless robots blindly following some binary code being carried out in their CPUs.

But questioning our faiths and all of God's rules by applying critical thinking can also lead to answers why many elements of our faiths and their rules actually make a lot of sense. Human altruism for example does have survival value, if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective. Then look at Zakat, the third pillar of Islam. It makes a lot of sense. Or take daily prayer. It makes a lot of sense. It slows down our minds, especially in a technologically advanced world where everything seems to accelerate. Prayers can give us back our strength and focus.

Jesus said that if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. This metaphor is reflected in various nonviolent resistance strategies that led India into independence and helped Martin Luther King's dream come true. It even brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989.

I think many rules are actually rules invented by humans. They are cultural traditions. For example that Catholic priests can't marry or that Muslims should not eat pork. The latter was invented because there were no refrigerators in the 5th century and extreme heat can render pork inedible. If people eat it they can get very sick. But there's more it. Food and the preparation of food became a symbol and a set of rituals which are very important for social bonding. Therefore even in 2010 with plenty of refrigerators not eating pork can make sense. Muslims share common rituals. Christians share common rituals. Wikipedia states that the purposes of rituals are varied; with religious obligations or ideals, satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, social and moral education, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one's affiliation, obtaining social acceptance or approval for some event or just for the pleasure of the ritual itself.

So to me eating pork in an abstract form isn't a sin. Same as eating meat on Friday for Christians. It simply means that these believers do not share all rituals common in their religion. God loves people regardless of whether they eat pork or not. Right? God loves people when they care for the poor.

Masturbation is not a sin either. And I heard that liberal Muslims would agree. Correct? But if believers choose not to masturbate, this is fine. I think we have to keep in mind that religions do evolve. They cannot be frozen at a particular point in the past. Religions do have to make sense in the context of today's world. We have a better understanding of sexuality today compared to 1000 years ago.

If educated religious believers are convinced they are doing the right thing because of their critical thinking, then their belief has true value. If you force people to believe in God or even make threats that atheism is punishable by death and the belief in the Prophet is mandatory, such a belief is essentially worthless. Only after Muslims and Christians have dealt with their doubts and questioned their belief can they become true believers. Do you agree? Should Muslims question their faith and God's rules or not?

--------------------------

Education is key as a holistic, transparent, dialog-oriented process --Queen Rania Al Abdullah

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people --Eleanor Roosevelt

Hi,

Thanks for your question,

I believe the crucial point here is that in Islam there is firstly

1) No Compulsion in Religion (As Stipulated in the Qur'an, Surah 2: 156)

After that if someone makes the conscious decision to embrace God's message to humanity, then they must adopt what is called in Schools of Philosophy: Divine Command Theory which basically means: God says it, that settles it, follow it.

One can sin in their actions (not without consequence), but to deny that something is legislated as forbidden because our whims and desires cause us to do so isnt a balanced approach, it's shirk, its placing our opinions and relative morality on a level with God's divine wisdom.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • Advanced Member

How many Muslims question the four witnesses rule in Sharia law?

--------------------------

Education is key as a holistic, transparent, dialog-oriented process --Queen Rania Al Abdullah

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people --Eleanor Roosevelt

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...