Wednesday, September 30

Critical Analysis of Modern Islamic Scholars: Philosophical, Epistemological, Scientific & Spiritual Problems

The entire thought of many modern Islamic scholars is based on the assumption that the strength of an argument is directly proportional to the truthfulness of the claim. Educated and literate people follow them because of the fact that their arguments are stronger than others. If you ever listen to their lectures, watch their videos or read their books & articles, the most frequent words are, “this argument is weak; that argument is strong”. The assumption on which this entire paradigm of knowledge is based – is it wrong or right? Does religion or life in general teach us that something is true or false because it is based on a strong or weak argument?

I strongly disagree. The strength of an argument is a sign of the intelligence of a person. It is not a sign of someone being on Haq (Truth or Reality). The weakness of an argument is a sign of lack of intelligence. It is not a sign of someone being on Batil (Falsehood or lie). The lawyer who wins the case or the debater who wins the debate do not necessarily represent who is based on truth or who has more authentic knowledge. It tells us who has the better brains.

In religion, the proximity to truth/reality is only partially related to the intelligence of mind and it is intimately related to the purity of heart. A pure heart free of spiritual sicknesses will accept the truth even with a low IQ. An impure heart full of spiritual sicknesses will reject the truth even with a genius IQ. Yes the best combination is people like Allama Iqbal who had both genius & inner purity and that is why he was such a great scholar but if Allah has to choose between one of the two things for giving someone hidayat (divine guidance), He will definitely choose inner purity not genius. The history of this world as well as the present era is full of genius people who had or have zero iman (faith/belief).

Religion is the only field of knowledge in this world in which the criteria for reaching or not reaching the right conclusions is based not just on the data and information you have acquired, memorized and processed mentally but it is also highly based on your taqwa (piety), spiritual level, tazkia-e-nafs (self-purification) and connection with the Almighty. You can become the best doctor or best engineer while being a horrible, sinful, unethical and immoral person if you have great brains and have done hard work in your study and practice but you cannot become a great Islamic scholar at all without possessing an extremely high level of the virtuous traits mentioned earlier.

If modern Islamic scholars should be followed because they have better arguments than others, then we should apply the same formula and same principle outside Islam as well. We should follow all those atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews, New age spiritualists & Yogi mystics like Sadhguru who do not believe in Islam at all and have extremely powerful arguments against either religion in general or Islam specifically. Why should we restrict ourselves to the bounds within Islam only? If strong arguments is all that matters, then why not follow schools of thought, philosophies or other religions that are in total contradiction with Quran/Hadith because they too have all the arguments in their baggage to support their own point of view and negate our point of view.

I simply cannot understand why followers of modern Islamic scholars apply this method only within Islam. Why not outside Islam? That is not intellectual honesty. If a genius non-Muslim can prove Islam is wrong on the basis of Science or Philosophy or comparative study of religions or the awful state of Muslim world since centuries with the strength of his arguments, why should these followers remain Muslims? Why should they close their eyes to the powerful analysis of that anti-Islamic scholar? Why do they conveniently negate all the highly intelligent people who speak and write against Islam very logically and rationally? Why do they fit their theory of strong argument only among Islamic scholars? Isn’t that bias or prejudice?

I am saying this because I have been searching for the truth since more than 15 years during which I explored not just Muslim scholars but also non-Muslim and even anti-Islamic intellectuals. I know it for sure that all of them have one thing in common – they all have equally valid arguments. So Islam is not the only one with arguments. I assure you. It seems as if followers of modern Islamic scholars have not explored these other options at all and they have wrongly assumed that their teacher has the best arguments in the world.

The big question which is automatically raised at this point is then why should we be a hardcore Muslim if we know there are arguments against Islam as well? Secondly, within Islam, why should we ascribe to Sufism/Tasawuf if we know there are arguments against it from many Islamic scholars of present & past?

  • What is Iman? Iman is believing in something without evidence because it is told by Holy Prophet SAW who is a prophet and, thus, infallible. I have read his entire life in details from A to Z and I am convinced that when he claimed to be the last prophet of Allah, it is impossible that he was either lying or in a state of delusion. I am not a Muslim due to any other reason at all. I have no proof at all that there is any life after death, heaven, hell, angels, Day of Judgment etc but I only believe in all this because it was said so by Muhammad SAW – that’s it – nothing more, nothing less!
  • Religion is not just an academic or scholastic or intellectual or “mental gymnastic” activity which is only to be read & understood logically like Physics, Chemistry or Biology.

Real religion is something far beyond that. It is not research but search for the Divine. It is an entire journey rather than a mere set of concepts, theories, ideas & beliefs. It is a living experience; it is unveiling of something hidden; it is tasting something spiritual; it is disclosure of deep truths; it is a comprehension of reality where the heart and soul matter more than the mind; it is only understood by practically following and implementing it in your life and not by debates or discussions or social media rants; it is NOT a test of your IQ level but a test of your humility/humbleness; it is not a test of how smart you are but a test of how much you can kill your ego, how much you can sacrifice your desires, how much suffering you can bear for your religion, how much worldly loss you can manage due to your righteousness, how much you can fight against your Nafs (lower-self), how much you can love your Creator and how much you can drown in the footsteps of Holy Prophet SAW.

This moral, ethical, psychological, emotional and in simple words – practical – dimension of religion is best demonstrated throughout 1400 years by Muslim saints/sages who are now known as Sufis or Ahl-e-Tasawuf. In the times of Holy Prophet SAW, they were known as Sahaba (companions of the prophet) because then Sufism or Tasawuf was fully in practice without its name or terminology or label. Later, when the spiritual state of Muslims deteriorated drastically, it became a specialized branch of learning via Sufi orders (silsilay) like Chishti, Qadri, Naqshbandi, Suhrawardy etc.

These people who we call AwliaKaraam (beloved of Allah) are blessed with wisdom, penetrating insights & sincerity of intention (ikhlaas) much more than scholars or professors or intellectuals (danishwar). Wilayat or Sainthood (not in the Christian sense) is an indispensable and integral part of Islam. Anyone who denies it denies some of the greatest Muslims ever in history. Thus, I very respectfully disagree with modern Islamic scholars on this as well. Calling Sufism a parallel alternative path to Islam is negating the inner, deeper, mystical aspect of Islam which is its core, essence & spirit – not outside it!

Now, I will comment on Science & Islam. Very often, modern Islamic scholars will say, “Quran said this 1400 years ago and Science discovered it or proved it now”. Using Science to prove the veracity of Islam is an unbelievably wrong approach in many ways.

Science is divided into facts & theories. Facts are few and remain unchanged while theories are many and keep changing because Science has always been and will always be in a state of constant evolution, progression, discovery and exploration. There is no finality in it. There is nothing conclusive about it. Why? Because it is human knowledge and, thus, always dynamic. Religion, on other hand, is always static, fixed & permanent because it is based on revelation (wahi) which is from God. Using a temporary thing to prove something permanent is a flawed method to start with. If tomorrow Science changes its stance on something which was earlier compatible with Quran, would we disbelieve in Quran because of that?

Quran is not a textbook of Science at all and is a book of hidayat (guidance) and spiritual nourishment. Its primary purpose is elevating our consciousness about deeper realities. It was not sent to us for engaging us in scientific experiments. Even when it says anything about Science, the purpose of that verse is not telling us a scientific fact or theory at all but giving a religious message and guiding a seeker of God while casually mentioning something related to Science. If we take that comment on Science too seriously and start comparing it with modern science, it is a very immature, superficial, shallow and amateur approach to scripture and will land us in a lot of confusion because there are many incompatibilities between Quran & modern Science. Should we lose our faith because of that? Taking Science from Quran is missing the whole point of that revealed verse which has a totally different and much higher purpose for mankind.

Scientific theories are born when a scientist philosophizes on a fact he discovers or learns. The fact is in nature but the theory is in his head as a result of his own thinking. The worldview, philosophy of life, beliefs, spiritual outlook and metaphysical framework of that scientist will determine what his theory concludes and what is the epistemological nature of his work? Today, due to the fact that Muslims are far behind the West in all domains of worldly knowledge, Science is in the hands of the West where most people do not believe in Islam and many disbelieve in any religion for that matter. Thus, the Science of today is not pure Science at all but it is Western Science which is heavily influenced by ideas based on Kufr (disbelief) because, sadly, it currently belongs to disbelievers (Kufaar). Science is not a neutral endeavor at all. It is simply too naive to consider it free from distortion. Thus, seeking support for Islam from a Non-Islamic Science is a failed venture from day one.

Last but not the least, I will discuss the immense spiritual problems of current scholars. It is a very common practice that after learning Islam and gaining expertise on it, people start seeking fame, limelight, recognition, glory and worldly status. They start making huge number of followers. They end up becoming a brand. Thus, Islamic scholars become celebrities as big as cricketers, rock-stars and actors. Immense prestige, honor and respect is seen as a sign of Allah being pleased with them. This is clearly the devil playing with them and they do not even know it properly. Since we are living in times of fitna (trials) and spiritual degradation, even Islamic scholars are not safe from the traps of Nafs (lower-self). They themselves need guidance and self-rectification to a very high extent. This is why the Quran says that only the real scholars fear Allah. The last thing on the mind of a real scholar is being a part of news and interviews.

The basic prerequisite of being an Islamic scholar is following the spiritual path much more than an ordinary person does. The basics of Islamic spirituality teach us as our primary lesson that we have to intentionally avoid popularity and opportunities for it. We have to conceal ourselves and impose on ourselves being very low-profile so that we can strive to develop and maintain ikhlaas (pure intentions) in whatever we do. Our objective, goal and purpose is only and solely pleasing Allah and becoming a much better Muslim. That is the whole benefit and fruit of real knowledge. It is not for making fans, impressing others and feeding our ego. People of humility and humbleness do not indulge in any marketing or promotion of themselves or their work. They do not chase media, TV or social media platforms for getting attention and praise. They quietly and silently do their work without any flags or horns or clapping. Their entire concern and focus is on being accepted by Allah in His Kingdom rather than making a big name in society or masses.

And indeed, only Allah has perfect knowledge. May Allah forgive me if I have mentioned something wrong – Ameen!

www.aadilfarook.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *