Reasoning of Truth
By P.P. Abdul Razak
Our world is at cross-roads. It looks to be slipping fast into violence, chaos and anarchy. Hatred is spreading due to the rampant ignorance prevailing about one another. This hatred works as springboard for clash of civilizations. I know, we human beings think of supernova while we are prone to miss what is just below our noses. We set our eyes on the stars while we probably do lack the smack of the soil. In our pondering over the micro things, we just ignore the macro facts of our day to day life. I hope this study will save us from this predicament and will definitely help to promote an understanding of a set of belief based on reasoning and the best practices there of. Apart from the media manipulation and propaganda, distortions and misappropriations, interpolations and extrapolations, commissions and omissions, we have to strive hard and make deliberate efforts for creating an atmosphere in which all people can converse cordially, discuss and debate with respect and share their beliefs and creeds one another without any fear, reservation or prejudice. Hiding, dissembling and concealing of the facts do not help promotion of social harmony or mutual respect. Mongering misconception breeds hatred which is fertile place for violence and chaos. We need to pay perseverance to alter people’s attitude towards the religion from an explosive emotional issue into a matter of serious thought based on reasoning. The absolute truth is and has to be a common goal and public asset of all and sundry. Even if we may disagree one another, let everybody say what they believe it to be true. For the truth is the lost asset of humanity for long time. It might have become so strange to us due to its absence from our life for such a long period. While we are living in an era of science and technology, of information explosion and data processing, it is astonishing to see we are groping in the darkness as far as our understanding of truth based on reasoning is concerned. Gross blindness takes the place of scientific objectivism in this regard. People easily think that belief, whatever kind it may be, is not based on reasoning and hence is blind. They argue the wheel of reasoning gets halted at your belief. So, there does not arise any kind of rational, scriptural, logical and/or natural justification to support your belief. At the same time each set of belief and religion with all the contradictions they do have among themselves, claim to be true. When we ask for the proof and evidence to support this claim, they resort to another claim that it is belief beyond and above all kinds of reasoning. Can truth in its absolute sense be contradictory to itself? Hence, the more complex and complicating question of which of these contradicting versions of different sets of belief and religions are we supposed to believe arise.
The difference between believing according to the knowledge and believing first and knowing about it after is clearly to be distinguished. Because, knowledge after belief is always tailored to fit the belief. In such a situation, knowledge always become a scapegoat to be laid on the cot of belief. In this regard, we have to bear in mind that obeying a person after being convinced of his credentials as a prophet rationally, historically and scripturally is different from believing in anything without any intellectual conviction. In the former, the obedience to the prophet after intellectual conviction in his prophethood is part and parcel of syllogism while the latter case represents the gross blindness. Here the word, “intellectual conviction” is to be noted and it is what really does matter. For me, knowledge is the pre-requisite of belief. And proof is the pre-requisite of the knowledge. For me, any “proof” doesn’t qualify as a proof if it doesn’t claim to be a proof and doesn’t stand to be challenged by anyone who denies it.
This article has been prepared in a way that depicts the empirical process of reasoning of truth that has taken place in me when I have interrogated, grilled and quizzed myself very independently freeing me from all kinds of reservations and prejudices.
There are three kinds of approaches in terms of Orthodoxy, Orthopraxy and Orthodopraxy as far as belief and the practice that emanates from the belief or otherwise are concerned. Orthodoxy is more about belief and much less about practice. It claims belief is what does matter and not the practice. It actually doesn’t care about practice at all. Orthopraxy is just opposite of the orthodoxy. It doesn’t care about belief. For orthopraxy what does matter is only practice regardless of the belief or non-belief. In my opinion, both orthodoxy and orthopraxy do not relate to the natural process. Both approaches do not have synchronization between our body and mind. The relationship between belief and practice is that of seed and fruit. Orthodoxy is a seed that does not sprout and grow to yield the fruit while orthopraxy imagines about fruits without any seed which doesn’t exist in our nature at all. So, I wanted to be an orthodopractic person with right belief firmly rooted in the depths of my heart and its branches reaching into the sky yielding shade and its sweet fruits at all times.
For this also, I wanted to know the right set of belief with a standing proof. What is it?
I looked into Jesus, Moses, Budha and Krishna. For me all of them were great historical or pre-historical personalities who had led and guided the masses of their time. Bible speaks about the miracles that Jesus and Moses had performed. Those miracles probably were the proofs for the people who had witnessed it during the life time of Jesus and Moses. But for me, it is only history or pre-historical anecdote and at most another set of belief without any proof if I want to believe in it.
Then I moved to Mohammad. I knew he can be read in the complete light of the history and is not a mythological character. One of the most distinguished qualities that I have noted in Mohammad which is unanimously agreed by all historians, both oriental and occidental, is that he was the most honest and was called “Al-Ameen” by his contemporaries before his claiming of prophet hood and after it. Here I wanted to ask myself a question. If his claim of prophethood is a lie, how he can be termed as an honest person? Shouldn’t he be termed as the most dishonest person since he had claimed the prophethood falsely? Here, the occidental historians and the orientalists fail to reconcile when they disagree with his claim of prophethood while they do agree with his honesty from the historical perspective. It is actually a paradoxical riddle and /or a conundrum for anybody who will belie the claim of Mohammad’s prophethood while they agree with his historically verified honesty and integrity. I wanted to keep this Effiminites Paradox in the parking lot for the time-being in order to proceed with my rational analysis of the truth.
I again asked my self. Did Mohammad claim to be the final prophet from God as it is believed by Muslims or was the prophethood imposed on him by the posterity just like we do observe similar and different kind of wrong ascriptions and attributions by the posterity in the history of other great personalities?
Here I understood, Mohammad claimed to be the final prophet explicitly and unequivocally. It is there both in Quran and Traditions of Mohammad .
Again I asked myself. Was Mohammad’s claim of prophethood with a proof? Is the proof still standing and can the proof, if any, be challenged? Or has it become another set of belief?
Yes, here also I found him claiming to be the final prophet with the standing proof of the Quran. The Quran also claims itself to be the only evidence of Mohammad’s prophethood. “Now a clear proof has come unto you from your Lord” (Quran 6: 157). “O mankind! Verily there has come to you a convincing proof from your Lord, and We sent down to you a manifest light” (4:174). Moreover, the Quran claims that the evidence of its origin is in itself. (4:82) An evidence (bayyinath) that helps us to distinguish the right from the wrong, the fact from the fallacy and the truth from the false. It presents itself to be challenged by any to disprove it when it says “ And if you are in doubt concerning what we have sent down to Our slave (Mohammad). Then produce a Sura (chapter ) of the like thereof and call all your supporters and helpers besides Allah, if you are truthful ( Quran 2: 23, 10:38, 17:88). Now I know and understand, if Mohammad had any miracle other than the Quran to prove his prophethood, it wouldn’t have stood as an evidence for the posterity till the Day of Doom. “Verily We: It is We who have sent down the Quran and we will guard it from the corruption” ( 15:9).
Now I asked myself : Have Mohammad and Quran made any claim based on history to corroborate Mohammad’s claim of prophethood?
I saw in Quran and Mohammad’s tradition another claim when they said repeatedly that Mohammad’s coming was foretold by both Old and New Testaments. I wanted to verify it both scripturally and historically.
Let me quote some verses from the Glorious Quran in this regard which I hope a truth seeker cannot ignore taking into consideration of Mohammad’s claim of being the final prophet as mentioned above. “Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e. Muhammad) whom they find written with them in the Torah and the Gospel ..” (7: 157). “Those to whom We gave the Scripture ( Jews and Christians) recognize him (Mohammad) as they recognize their sons (from the crowd). But verily, a party of them conceal the truth while they know it ( 2: 146) “And, remember when Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘ O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah unto you confirming the Torah (which came) before me and giving a glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me whose name shall be Ahmed”. (61:6)
The following verses in the Old and the New Testaments are some out of many that I saw supporting and substantiating the claim. Deut. 18:15, 18:18 21:21, Isa 42:1-13, Habakuk: 3: 3-4, Mathew 21:42-43, Jn 14: 12-17, 26-28, 16:7-14 etc.
Historically, the first person to believe in the prophethood of Mohammad was Waraqat bin Naufal, an erudite Christian pundit and a priest. The first king to believe in the prophethood of Mohammad was Nagus, the then King of Ethiopia. One of the tribes who entered into Islam and believed in the prophethood of Mohammad was a Christian tribe from Najran, east of modern day Saudi Arabia. Though genealogically Arabs as an ethnic society is a racial mixture of descendants of Ishamel and Jurhum, most of the original descendants of both Ishmael and Ishaque who constitute the modern middle eastern society, the background of Bible’s narration of human history supported this claim by embracing Mohammad as the final prophet. That’s why we do see most of the people from the ancient cradles of human civilization ( Tigris and Euphrates, Nile and Sindh) believing in Mohammad as the final prophet.
We all know Mohammad, and according to Michael H. Hart, was the most successful and the greatest of all leaders history has seen. He triggered the collapse of both Roman and Persian empires and his teachings still make frequent interventions in the human life and redirects the course of history. Soviet empire also go crumpled because of him when the Red Army got defeated in Afghanistan. Mohammad’s life was wonder of history for Thomas Carlyle. For La Martin, Gibbon, Arnold Toyenbee, H.G. Wells, Wil Durant and for other eminent occidental historians he was simply the turning point of the modern history. He is the only historical personality whom history has become incapable of leaving behind.
Now, I knew and understood Mohammad as the final prophet and Quran as the only evidence given to him. So, I wanted to know more about the truth Quran and Mohammad have postulated. .. We cannot allow the truth to become the private property of any sect, section or nation.
The Glorious Quran says human being develops four kinds of relationship with the universe of which only one way is acceptable to God..
Human being is bestowed with intellect and wisdom. So, he is supposed to think beyond and above whatever he experience with the help of the senses given to him. The Glorious Quran says the people who do not think beyond and above their sensual experiences despite the intellect and wisdom bestowed upon them by God develop only an animal relationship with this universe. They are even inferior to the animals since animals are bestowed with instinct but not with intellect and wisdom . The Glorious Quran says: “They have minds wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones” ( 7:179)
Regardless of whether it is true or false, just or unjust, good or evil, human being sometimes develop a relationship with this universe only from the angle of his own vested interest. In this regard, he is more prone to think the world is for him rather than he is for the world. Whatever is materially beneficial for him, he will take it for granted even if it may not be true and good from moral perspective. He will follow anything as long as his vested self interests are safeguarded. The whole universe itself folds into his self. This kind of relationship can be termed as Utilitarian. A person with this attitude looks into everything come across him from a self –centric viewpoint. In this relationship, hypocrisy may masquerade wearing the attire of the diplomacy. Selfishness is quintessence of this perspective in which people are tend to believe that ruling the hell is better than serving in paradise. Glorious Quran says of this hypocrites: “When they meet those who believe they Say ‘We believe’, but when they are alone with their devils, they say: ‘Truly we are with you; verily, we were but mocking.” (2:14)
Can human being with an iota of intellect and wisdom be blind?. Even if we may respond this question negatively, most of the people are blind in their belief. If a person develops a kind of blind relationship with anything, he will believe anything and everything out of it even though it may contradict one another.. Human being is supposed to accept or reject anything that comes across him with an additive of his own thoughts. The Glorious Quran does want its followers not to develop a kind of blind relationship even with itself. “And those (the Slaves of the Most Beneficient) who, when the are reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, Quranic verses, lessons, signs, revelations, ect) of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat” (25:73).
Thought bound / Rational Relationship
Having explained all three unacceptable relationship with the universe and God, what Glorious Quran wants from human being is to develop a thought bound /rational relationship with himself, the universe surrounding himself and God. “Those who remember Allah standing, sitting and lying down on their sides and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying) “Our Lord! You have not created (all this without purpose, Glory to You!” (3:191). “He gave you ears , eyes and minds. Little is the thanks you give (undergoing for a thought process)” (32:9). Certainly, a thought bound or rational relationship with the universe has to start thinking of human being itself from Quranic viewpoint. Holy Quran says: “And on the earth are signs for those who are determined. And also in your ownselves. Will you not then see? ( 51: 20-21). Human being has to know his own strength and weakness, capabilities and inabilities, frailties and flaws, limits and bounds before he thinks about the universe so that he might be able to save himself from jumping into the easy conclusions. The Glorious Quran Says: “He (human being) puts forth for us a parable and forgets his own nature (and creation)” (36:79) In his thought bound or rational relationship with the universe, he undergoes for an incessant thought process. Therefore, it is better to ponder over the thought process itself through which he tries to unearth the unknown.
It is true that human being has got capability to think. What does “thought” mean? How does it take place in our brain? What is its process? Is thinking an existential faculty of human being? Will human being have to think always? If yes, what does it mean? Doesn't it mean human being will be always ignorant of something/many things? Otherwise why he has to think? Thought is a process carried out by our brain with the help of our senses to uncover the hidden and to know the unknown using the raw materials of known realities. So, Process of thinking starts and continues incessantly from two factors: Imperfect knowledge and imperfect ignorance. In one word, it can be said the thought process starts from the fact of Human relativism.
One who is absolute and omniscient won't need thinking (God). One who is in absolute ignorance also will not think (Animals). Here, animal instinct is not considered as Knowledge. So meaning of thinking denotes, if this faculty is existential in human being, human being is imperfect in his knowledge and he will never be perfect in it. He knows something/many things and he is ignorant of something/many things. So, what is the way to uncover the realities related to the questions of otherwise perennial ignorance of Where from we are, Why we are born as we are, to where we are, what for we are, are related to the very existence of our life? ? Can anybody help us in this regard? If not, then we require another mean to know about all these facts which are very closely related to our very existence itself.
According to the Glorious Quran, truth is public asset of all and sundry like air, water and light. God, the Almighty who has created us all, and who has made our earth a planet suitable for life and who has arranged therein air, light and water which are very essential elements for sustaining the life on this planet has showed us the true and straight path to lead our life also. Glorious Quran looks into the fact of Divine Guidance from three angles. .First, human being is in need of guidance from God to know the truth as human knowledge has got its own strength and weakness, limits and limitations, frailties and flaws. The Glorious Quran says: “ Nay! Verily, man does transgress all bounds since he considers himself self sufficient. Surely! Unto your Lord is your recourse (for guidance)” ( 96: 6-8). Again it says: “ And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little” ( 17:85). Again it says, in process of incessant uncovering of secrets of the nature, what human comes to know is that he did not know at all. (96:5). The realm of our ignorance gets widened and broadened at each instance of knowing something new. Secondly, God has taken it as His own responsibility to show the straight path and provide guidance to Human kind taking into consideration of innumerable fallacious paths that lead human being astray. The Quran says: “And upon Allah is the responsibility to show the straight path especially when there are way that turn aside” (16:9) Thirdly, it is Right of God to say humankind how to operate his life on this planet as both human being, earth and all the universe are creations of God. Quran says: “His is the creation and the commandment” (7:54) Then Glorious Quran sets two indispensable features of the truth. The truth is Universal and Absolute. It does not change from time to time, place to place or species to species. What is truth for the first human being is the truth for the last human being also. What is truth in the heavens is the truth in the earth as well. It does not change during the passage of time (“He is Allah in the heavens and on the earth” 6:3). Secondly, the means adopted by God to reveal the truth also is same and is part and parcel of Divine justice. It is the prophet hood from the same species “If there were on the earth, angels walking about in peace and security, we should certainly have sent down for them from the heaven an angel as a Messenger” ( 17:95). The same philosophy is again explained in different ways in the Quranic verses 6:8-9, 16:43. The Glorious Quran says the first person on this planet himself was a prophet. He was a human being. The last prophet, Mohammad also is human being. All the prophets who came in between them also were human beings. This is another way from many how Islam and Glorious Quran place Jesus as a human prophet historically.
This reasoning of the truth is one among many ways through which Islam found its pathways into my heart. Through Islam, I came to know more about Moses, Jesus, Buddha and other great prophets who had come to the various parts of the world at different stages of human civilization. I found Islam as a comprehensive system and way of life immensely beautiful both in totality and in parts. I saw it as an exquisite fusion of mercy, power and force. It is the harmonious synthesis of physique and psyche, symphonic synchronization of soul and soil. I felt it as a beautiful blend of body and mind, and a melodic mixture of movement and meditation and equilibrium thereof. It is an assimilation of Love and Law. Heaven and earth assemble there and make a melodious symphony of human life out of it. It is a sweet sonata of submission of one’s will to the will of God by serving and sacrificing for the wellbeing of humanity. It is devotion to God by dedicating ourselves for the welfare of the world. Islam is all about life and for the life. It frees us from all kinds of narrowness and elevates us to the ever widening breadth of the universe. Quranically, in nutshell, it is natural face of human being or human face of the universe. We human being can align with the mainstream of universe only through Islam which means integral and undivided surrendering of our will to the will of God using the freedom given to us in a thoughtful way.