How much do you know about the mechanics involved in our acquisition of thoughts and ideas? An insignificant question some may say, nevertheless, you the readers, are intensely engaged in this very process right now. This does not mean that most of us are cognizant of these processes and are able to define the rules within them, but what it does mean for certain, is that what you are reading makes sense to you because of them. Without these rules existing as constants in the cosmos, none of us could ever obtain knowledge of anything.
The Qur’an informs us: I have only created Jinns and men, that they may worship Me. (Dhariyat: 51:56) In this context, the word worship infers the process of reason, since through reasoning we can attain a conscious awareness of God; is it possible to worship that which you have no knowledge of?
There are some Muslims, however, that are convinced that reason has no place in their worldview. My reply is this, how then can you explain the following statement, there’s no god except God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God, especially to non-Muslims without using reason? It is as a consequence of the ability to reason that Mankind has been able to discover some of these invariables and because of them, they have been able to achieve things previously deemed impossible; such as the ability to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and enter into the mysterious realm of space.
Today, there are those who are deeply engrossed in subjective experience rather than objective truth. This has resulted in experiential feelings and notions of the individual. The existentialists believe that the ‘ego’ alone should define what reality is, in a relative way no doubt, ignoring the very laws that they have used to defend their own subjectivity.
Unfortunately, the Muslim world does not produce Muslim philosophers anymore as philosophy as opposed to theology, has been reduced to mimicry, by certain religious groups. Philosophy, derived from the old French word filosofie, the Latin philosophia, the Greek philosophia “love of knowledge, wisdom,” from philo “loving” philo+sophia “knowledge, wisdom,” from sophis “wise, learned,” has been ridiculed by some Muslims as a subject that should not be meddled with, if one is faithful to pure Islamic beliefs or Aqaa’id. To the contrary there is nothing to be apprehensive about the subject once one understands that Philosophy did provide many great Muslims thinkers of the past, such as Ibn Miskawayh, Ibn al-Haytham, Ibn Sina, the famous Imam al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd with a set of analytical tools by which questions about the nature of God and the meaning of life could be asked and explored. Of course, history informs us of the pantheistic nature of ‘Greek Philosophy’, however, this does not mean that one should condemn the subject of ‘Philosophy,’ because of its origin or its ability to shed light on the nature of a monotheistic deity. Knowledge is the possession of no one but Allah. Its application therefore, depends on the context and the questions asked, hence these issues are arguably reducible to question of semantics.
When people think of philosophers they usually think of Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato engrossed in speculative thinking, however, mere speculation is not what is meant here when God says in the Qur’an: “This is a communication to be transmitted to mankind so that they can be warned by it and so that they will know that He is One God and so that people of intelligence will pay heed”. (Ibrahim:14:52) Isn’t it true to say that every Muslim, for example, who preaches Islam is a kind of theologian/philosopher, or least should be? Albeit, many may be substandard practitioners and afraid to think outside ‘the box’, they are nevertheless, minor philosophers in their own right.
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