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Intellect And Rationale Are Imperative To Stay on the Righteous Path – An Islamic Point of View

By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam

1 June 2021

Understanding Rationale (the Hikmat) and Intellect (Al-Aql) According to the Commands of Allah and Exercising it for the Goodness of Humanity

Main Points:

1.    Human beings are born with the power of intellect and rationale embedded in their soul.

2.    Like human beings, animals too have rational qualities in their characters that are at the show in their community life.

3.    Education, formal or informal, is a must to understand the qualities, dimensions and importance of intellect and rationality.

4.    The Holy Quran specifically stresses the use of wisdom and rationality to be on the right side of the judgement


All human beings are born with the power of intellect and rationale embedded in their soul. Allah, the Most Merciful loves equality, therefore there is no difference even on a minuscule level among humankind as far as rational and humane qualities are concerned. Like human beings, animals too have rational qualities in their characters that are at the show in their community life. The Holy Quran also says that the birds and animals praise their creator although the human being is unable to understand them. Consider what Allah, Creator says in the Holy Quran about animals:

“Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise, and Allah knows well all that they do.” (Quran 24:41)

Giving his definition of animals, James Alfred Wight alias James Herriot, a British veterinary surgeon and author says:

"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."―James Herriot

What James Herriot says is hard but true. If a human being does not use his intellect and rationality he is worst than an animal (with all due respect to them) or in other words, animals are much better than irrational men.

In Islamic parlance, the brain is the treasure of intellect and rational feelings and understanding. The Holy Quran and Hadees traditions command human being to acquire knowledge so that they can bring their wisdom and intellect to the fore and create an ability to distinguish between right and wrong. There must be around 750 Ayaat (verses) that persuade human being to study environment, science, art and humanity along with the Holy Quran. Education, formal or informal, is a must to understand the qualities, dimensions and importance of intellect and rationality. A man that does not take formal or informal education does not understand the teachings of his religion and his religious leaders or guides.

A human being with a thinking mind worships Allah, the Most Gracious, or for that matter, its god related to any other religion, with much love and sincerity towards, both his Creator and His Creation.

Understanding Intellect (Al-Aql)

It is the intellect that is the axis of everything created by a human being, we witness in this world. It is the intellect that makes human being ‘Ashraf ul Makhluqat’, the best of the creation of Allah, the Creator. It is the intellect that Allah declared the human being His vicegerent. Allah repeatedly commands His people to think about the signs of God in the universe that introduces man from His illustrious presence in everything present on planet earth.

S. Kocabas Professor - Anaesthesiology and Reanimation Department, Ege University Faculty of Medicine beautifully describes intellect (Al-Aql) in the following lines:

The Arabic concept for the mind is ‘Aql which appears in the Qur’an about forty-nine times in the form of a verb ‘Aqala, Ya‘Qilun, ‘Aqalu, Ta‘Qilun, Na‘Qilu And Ya‘Qilu referring to the ‘use of intellect’. Kocabas believes that the wisdom behind the occurrence of ‘Aql in the Qur’an in the verb form is because “it has a dynamic application.”

This means that if ‘Aql were to be used in the Qur’an as a noun it would simply mean ‘intellect’ but its occurrence in the verb form gives it the meaning of “using the intellect or activating the intellect.”

 S. Kocabas, The Qur'anic Concept of Intellect (The Word Aql in the Qur’an), London: The Islamic Philosophical Society,1987, p. 3.

Allah, the Most Gracious has on various occasions commanded His people to use their intellect rightfully to be on the righteous path otherwise its misuse takes a man on the path to Kufr and other wrongful acts. Consider following Ayaat:

And they will say, "If only we had been listening or reasoning, we would not be among the companions of the Blaze." (Surah Al-Mulk: 10 - Sahih International

And he had already led astray from among you much of creation, so did you not use reason? This is the Hellfire which you were promised. (Surah Yasin: 62-63) - Sahih International

Above mentioned Ayaat specifically mention that human being has been endowed with intellect so that he could distinguish between the good and the bad, that is the truth – al-Haqq – from falsehood – al-Batil and to study, understand and work according to the signs of Allah in the nature called Ayaat Kawniyyah (آية كونية). Creation of the sky, the earth, the moon etc. is Ayaat Kawniyyah,  signs which are not in revelation but creation. The revelation is called Ayaat Sharī’ah. Consider the following Ayat:

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], "Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. (Surah Ali `Imran: 190-191) - Sahih International

Understanding Rationale or Philosophy (the Hikmat)

To understand what rationality or reasoning is we should consider how Sadr al-Din Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Yahya Qawami Shirazi the most revered Islamic philosopher after Avicenna famously known as Mulla Sadra, defines it:

Hikmah (also Hikmat, Arabic: حكمة, Hikma, literally wisdom, philosophy; rationale, underlying reason,) is a concept in Islamic philosophy and law. Mulla Sadra defined Hikmah as "coming to know the essence of beings as they are" or as "a man's becoming an intellectual world corresponding to the objective world". (Hikmah/ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia)

Hikmah or rationality is used every day by the Honourable Judges of the courts and the administrative heads of all kinds of organisation to reach a conclusion that is based on the understanding of the case or the problem, as the case may be. The Holy Quran specifically stresses the use of wisdom and rationality to be on the right side of the judgement or the decisions. Allah, the Most Gracious, graciously explains what role wisdom (Hikmah) plays and how it was used in the creation of the universe. The Holy Quran has the word Hikmah twenty times in it and out of these twenty, it is used ten times just before the word ‘Kitab’ that is the divine scriptures, the Quran and other Abrahamic Holy Books. Consider the following Ayaat:

And He will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel, (Surah Ali 'Imran:48)

He grants wisdom to those whom He wills, and whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted much good.309 Yet none except people of understanding take heed. (Surah Al-Baqarah-269)

To Err is Human, To Correct Is Divine

Taking into account the deplorable condition of the humanity all over the world countries be it because of any reason, we will reach to the conclusion that human being has either not used its intellect, wisdom and rationality of judgement or has misused the powers bestowed upon him by Allah, the Almighty. Who can deny the fact that the world nature is the amalgam of the natural wealth of every kind, irrigation, chemical or atomic? Had all this wealth been used in the welfare of humankind using the rightful judgement of equality and love, the earth would have been heaven. In that case, it would not have been written for Kashmir but the whole world, ‘If there is a heaven on earth it is here, it is here, it is here.

Following verses from the Holy Quran should act as an eye-opener, as it is said, ‘it is never too late or ‘better late than never. Following verses command us to think before we act and most importantly, we should not speak on the subject, problem or matter that we do not know of. And this is what most of us are busy doing, day in and day out. It creates devastating consequences, like the ones we are facing right now. The Quranic verses for us to ponder:

And do not pursue that of which you do not know. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart - about all those [one] will be questioned. (Surat Al-'Isra':36) - Sahih International

Thus do We explain the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, laws, etc.) in detail for the people who reflect. (Quran, 10:24)

Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose) and that you would not be brought back to Us? (Quran, 23:115)

Do they not think deeply (in their ownselves) about themselves (how Allah created them from nothing, and similarly He will resurrect them)? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord. (Quran, 30:8)

And Allah knows the best.


Arman Neyazi is a columnist with


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