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In the Name of God بسم الله

The nature of faith

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(Moderators, please feel free to place this thread in another section, if need be.)

According to religion, faith is based on the authority of revelation. One believes and acts accordingly with or without the aid of reason. In other words, reason is secondary at best and ultimately irrelevant to faith itself. Faith does not need evidentiary support. One acts on the basis of the prophetic authority and that’s that, even if the basis for doing so, in a particular instance or case, cannot be discovered in this world. Empiricism, trial and error, is subordinated to spiritual insight.

For example, even though one can find numerous “naturalistic” reasons via reason as to why homosexual intercourse is a grave sin—human biology being an obvious one—those reasons would be secondary to the ultimate reason. One does not have faith, for example, because faith is, in certain situations, shown to be positively correlated with certain this-worldly benefits, e.g., health, fertility, income, and so on. Those benefits would be secondary rather than primary reasons.

On the contrary, if one were, say, seeking a practical application such as a medical treatment, one would not simply trust a medical specialist on the basis of an appeal to authority, i.e., “the doctor is appointed by Allah/is Allah’s representative and his specific knowledge of the unseen should be heeded, regardless of whether the reason for doing so is or is not evident/apparent to us.” In the everyday world, one would trust the medical specialist on the basis of his having mastered a testable, empirical science, whereas the internal mechanisms of the spiritual world are closed to us, except on the basis of revelation imparted to Allah’s chosen servants.

Another problem occurs when members of different faiths are attempting to convert one another. Each side will often refuse to examine sources from “outside the fold.” Even when exposed to new information, each side will tend to (re-)interpret the information in light of its respective faith. Each side, in turn, relies on sources of authority within the faith. Furthermore, as highlighted previously, (revealed) religion is based first and foremost on faith in authority.

Given that a complete faith has a political component, how may one, theoretically, convince another to (outwardly) adhere to certain rituals, on pain of death for apostasy, without knowing the ultimate or even proximate reason? For example, one may not know the underlying significance as to why one circumambulates the Kaaba in a certain manner, other than its being divinely commanded; yet one does so anyway, on the basis of faith in authority (revealed, prophetic tradition).

Why does faith require this subjective element: the faith in authority on a particular matter without knowing or seeing the (full) reason, or having access to an empirical way to measure it?

Furthermore, if one is arguing about faith, how does one persuade? After all, attachment to faith is as powerful as attachment to one’s blood-kin, if not more so. Rival faiths are just as sentimental and attached to their “inspired” traditions. Certain Christians, for example, will naturally reinterpret Islamic claims in light of their own faith’s authoritative tradition(s), just as certain Jews will do likewise, and so on. In the end, all centre on the crucial matter of faith, not reason.

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Hi , You have some points about procedures in introduction  of faith by any creed & sect but respectfully  I agree to a point , but on the other hand crucial  matter is both of faith & reason which if a faith can  not be proven by reason certainly is not a complete  faith which clearly Christian  preaching & Judaism  supermacy is based on denying  reasoning  which in similar fashion Islamic  preachers in sunni side have relied  on christian preaching procedure  although  their preaching contains some sort of reasoning which problem in Shia side which has both of faith & strong reasoning  is lack of well organized  preaching policy because  we don't  follow other procedures which has based on fooling  people   but on the other hand we don't  have good presenter & supportive team for new converts also in comparison with Sunni preachers we don't  have unlimited financial & political  support from both of Hawzas & embassies especially from Iran.

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14 hours ago, Northwest said:

According to religion, faith is based on the authority of revelation. One believes and acts accordingly with or without the aid of reason. In other words, reason is secondary at best and ultimately irrelevant to faith itself.

There is always a "reason" behind accepting the authority of revelation. 

There is always a "reason" behind accepting or rejecting anything. 

So my friend!!! Reason is not secondary, it is the very first thing which enables us to accept or reject anything. It is the revelation which informed this:

و يجعل الرجس على الذين لا يعقلون

10:100) 

The word يعقلون itself is sufficient for our guidance. Every sign, the Earth & whatever is on it, the heavens and whatever in it, are for our very ability to reason:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنْفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ مَاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ {164}

[Shakir 2:164] Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down from the cloud, then gives life with it to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between the heaven and the earth, there are signs for a people who understand.

Interestingly, the very revelation discloses another truth:

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُوا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا ۗ أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ {170}

[Shakir 2:170] And when it is said to them, Follow what Allah has revealed, they say: Nay! we follow what we found our fathers upon. What! and though their fathers had no sense at all, nor did they follow the right way.

Look at the story of Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام), just go through his arguments. So if anyone believes or have faith, for instance, that "Boeing 747" is his god, he need to use his builtin guidance system at the first place. In case, the guidance system is malfunctioning due to any reason, then we have Messengers who delivers the divine message or what you call "revelation".  Revelation is specifically to bring the reasoning faculty back on track and to further guide it. 

I hope you can understand the difference now.

Wassalam!!

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1 hour ago, Cool said:

There is always a "reason" behind accepting the authority of revelation. 

There is always a "reason" behind accepting or rejecting anything. 

So my friend!!! Reason is not secondary, it is the very first thing which enables us to accept or reject anything. It is the revelation...

On a case-by-case basis, that specific “reason” may or may not be backed up by the exercise of reason, that is, logic and/or empiricism. Faith is more than logic or empiricism.

My point is that reason ends with revelation. Once you accept revelation, you stop using reason to investigate it. Revelation is based on appeal to authority. Reason is secondary. Also, one cannot use empiricism to investigate the reason as to why revelation commands a specific ritual. While scientific empiricism is far from perfect, it does open an avenue to continuous testing, whereas spiritual mechanisms cannot be tested, only revealed (if at all, at least in this stage of existence).

1 hour ago, Cool said:

So if anyone believes or have faith, for instance, that "Boeing 747" is his god, he need to use his builtin guidance system at the first place. In case, the guidance system is malfunctioning due to any reason, then we have Messengers who delivers the divine message or what you call "revelation".  Revelation is specifically to bring the reasoning faculty back on track and to further guide it.

This, to me, seems a poor analogy. One cannot compare spiritual to material realities. First, no one who actually engineers or pilots a Boeing 747 treats the aircraft as the end-all and be-all of existence, only as a means to an end. Also, revelation is specifically designed to end the reasoning process by definitively declaring a specific spiritual practice or ritual to be the way to go. Scientific empiricism is never finalised, whereas revelation is final. One does not investigate a particular ritual, but merely carries it out.

As @Abu Nur once said, if the Supreme Being tells you to do something, you do it, even if the means to investigate properly are unavailable. That’s the difference between reason and revelation. I doubt that most religious believers abstain from illicit sexual intercourse because it is unhealthy (though indeed it is). They abstain because the Creator decreed that it be considered a grave sin, regardless of the “naturalistic” or “scientific” reasons. Once again, faith in authority of revelation > reason.

This does not necessarily exclude reason, of course, but rather regards it as a secondary rather than primary aid to faith. This brings me back to the example(s) that I mentioned in my original post: one would not rely on a doctor on the same basis that one would rely on religion. The doctor has a background in something measurable and tangible, whereas religion deals first and foremost with immeasurable and intangible qualities, in addition to measurable and tangible (secondary) aspects.

One would not use, say, Pascal’s wager to determine whether one should rely on a specific doctor to treat a specific medical problem. The nature of the problem is primarily distinct from that of the spiritual world.

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17 hours ago, Northwest said:

if the Supreme Being tells you to do something, you do it, even if the means to investigate properly are unavailable. That’s the difference between reason and revelation. I doubt that most religious believers abstain from illicit sexual intercourse because it is unhealthy (though indeed it is). They abstain because the Creator decreed that it be considered a grave sin, regardless of the “naturalistic” or “scientific” reasons. Once again, faith in authority of revelation > reason.

Hi your analogy is wrong because you are analysing Islam likewise Christanity while Islam has based on both of revelation & accepting  reasoning but on the other hand Christanity & other religions have based on denying resoning in name of revelation however majority of Muslims follow revelation without asking for reason because of lack of education & knowledge which rest of Muslim sects except Shia Islam has relied on revelation than reason while in Shia Islam knowledgeable people likewise well educated scholars & Marjas can find reason behind some  revelation while on the other hand Wahabism/Salafism is based on relying on revelation & denying reason .

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17 hours ago, Northwest said:

Faith is more than logic or empiricism.

Salam Brother!!

It may be more than logic & wisdom (instead of empiricism) but it contains both or we can say that its way goes through logic & wisdom. 

And that is why we see that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has assigned three duties to His Apostle:

1. Recite for us the verses of Quran

2. Purify us

3. Teach us The Book & the Wisdom.

17 hours ago, Northwest said:

My point is that reason ends with revelation 1.

Once you accept revelation, you stop using reason to investigate it.

1. And my point is that reason begins with revelation. 

Revelation can be used as "proposition", as a statement of truth and in that sense revelation is building block of logic. And revelation itself seems like logic, that's why a teacher  was deputed by the bestower of revelation to teach people book & wisdom. 

Actually revelation itself encourage us to investigate it & whatever around us. Now we may have different understanding of the term "investigate". 

17 hours ago, Northwest said:

Revelation is based on appeal to authority. 2

After your "reasoning faculty" leads you to understand someone as "authority". Example, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) or revelation is not the authority for atheists. It is authority for me because my reasoning dictates me so and I accept it as authority. 

18 hours ago, Northwest said:

Also, one cannot use empiricism to investigate the reason as to why revelation commands a specific ritual. 

18 hours ago, Northwest said:

 

 

To investigate about specific ritual, your best tool for investigation is revelation itself. 

18 hours ago, Northwest said:

One cannot compare spiritual to material realities

There is nothing spiritual. What is spiritual? Spirits don't exist. And the same was the ideology of people who made idols of stone, wood or xyz and start worshiping their own handicrafts. So Boeing 747 is also a handicraft :)

18 hours ago, Northwest said:

Also, revelation is specifically designed to end the reasoning process by definitively declaring a specific spiritual practice or ritual to be the way to go 3

So does this mean, truth brings end to the reasoning process? 

Or do we always need truth, for starting up the reasoning process? 

I am not going further, till we come to any conclusion about the points raised by you and addressed by me.

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5 minutes ago, Cool said:

There is nothing spiritual. What is spiritual? Spirits don't exist.

Don't take me wrong here!!

I only want to emphasize by saying this that your acceptance of something as "spiritual" is not lacking the reason at all. 

And someone's "reasoning" takes them to materialism, for them there is nothing as spiritual.

So why something is spiritual for you? Can you please make me understand what is spirit and what is its chemical composition?

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On 10/26/2021 at 8:22 PM, Northwest said:

In the end, all centre on the crucial matter of faith, not reason.

Hi there.  I would suggest that the whole of life is based on faith.  Even the example you give about a doctor.  We don't go into his office and demand to see his certificates and investigate whether they are true or not.  (in fact there are many stories of so called doctors who have been practising under a false idenity or without experience).

I would also suggest that dispite faith beinging fundamental to a life walking with God, true faith is not afraid of reason.  As a follower of Jesus, I welcome historical investigation and critical anyalasis of the evidence and the documents I base my life on.  Trust and faith in Jesus the Messiah is rooted in an historical act - God stepping into time and space.

In your profile you call yourself an agnostic.  That must be a tramendous step of faith - to acept there is a god but unable to know anything about that being.  In my perspective you are operating under a greater degree of faith than I am.  My faith is confirmed by a 'God act' in history and in my own life and experience which sustains me each day.

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Islam too mentions faith (emaan) as a thing which makes one certain. 

49:14] The dwellers of the desert say: We believe. Say: You do not believe but say, We submit; and faith has not yet entered into your hearts; and if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not diminish aught of your deeds; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Faith resides in hearts and what is the status of those who allow faith to reside in their hearts:

49:15) The believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger then they doubt not and struggle hard with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah; they are the truthful ones.

These two verses lays down a brief definition and characteristic of faith.

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On 10/28/2021 at 8:30 AM, Cool said:

Salam Brother!!

It may be more than logic & wisdom (instead of empiricism) but it contains both or we can say that its way goes through logic & wisdom. 

And that is why we see that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has assigned three duties to His Apostle:

1. Recite for us the verses of Quran

2. Purify us

3. Teach us The Book & the Wisdom.

1. And my point is that reason begins with revelation. 

Revelation can be used as "proposition", as a statement of truth and in that sense revelation is building block of logic. And revelation itself seems like logic, that's why a teacher was deputed by the bestower of revelation to teach people book & wisdom.

I do not deny that faith encompasses logic and wisdom, but instead argue that it subordinates logic and wisdom to faith. As you said, from a religious standpoint logic and wisdom are viewed through the prism of revelation rather than empiricism. Empirically based logic and wisdom is secondary to faith-based. Furthermore, as you admitted, revelation resembles logic but is not logic itself per se, though it involves or participates in a type of logic. Maybe I did not express myself well, but that is the point that I wished to enumerate. Maybe your point is that even empiricism involves a degree of faith, because even empiricism revolves around a certain degree of approximation, and in the approximation one must have faith. If I recall correctly, even some of the greatest modern scientists did acknowledge an element of faith involved that to some extent imitated but also distinguished itself from religious faith. That is because modern science, in part, revolves around empiricism rather than revelation. Faith-based science (“science” denoting a type of knowledge), by contrast, revolves around revelation.

On 10/28/2021 at 8:30 AM, Cool said:

Actually revelation itself encourage us to investigate it & whatever around us. Now we may have different understanding of the term "investigate".

I meant “investigate” in the sense embodied by empiricists. Ritual observance may or may not involve investigation of its veracity, but perhaps not in the empirical sense.

On 10/28/2021 at 8:30 AM, Cool said:

There is nothing spiritual. What is spiritual? Spirits don't exist.

I meant “spiritual” in the sense that a religious person would understand the realm of the spirit(s). Islam, like other religions, does believe in a spiritual realm and being(s).

On 10/28/2021 at 8:30 AM, Cool said:

So does this mean, truth brings end to the reasoning process? 

Or do we always need truth, for starting up the reasoning process? 

Yes, I meant that truth (revelation) brings an end to the empirically based reasoning process.

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On 10/28/2021 at 2:04 PM, Dave follower of The Way said:

In your profile you call yourself an agnostic. That must be a tremendous step of faith - to accept there is a god but unable to know anything about that being.

I chose “agnostic” because Deist was unavailable. I do believe in a Prime Mover (Creator) but am unaffiliated with a specific religion or Deen as of now.

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