By Dr Mohd Farid Mohd Shahran
January 1, 2019
ONE of the challenges facing the Muslim youth today is to maintain their religious identity while living in the modern world.
Although most are able to equip themselves with basic education, and some even excel in their professional life, the challenges faced by Muslim youths from the modern value system have compelled them to drift away from religious norms and principles.
Findings from recent research showed a number of Muslim youths, including those in Muslim-majority countries, are becoming more sceptical with some basic principles of belief in Islam.
London-based international magazine, The Economist, in its online publication, reported the result of the latest PEW Research Centre. The findings from the nonpartisan fact tank showed 23 per cent of Americans raised as Muslims no longer identify with the faith.
The number of American Muslims, the research said, increased by almost 50 per cent in the past decade, so too has the number of ex-Muslims.
The cause of such a dilemma is mainly connected to the current zeitgeist of the modern world, which is the rise of scientism and humanism among youths. Among the basic premises of the view is that religion is seen as inferior to science, especially in guiding human beings to interpret realities.
Since religion is strongly connected with revelation, there is a general inclination among youths to look at reason or rational inquiry as a single sufficient source of guidance for their life, including their normative and epistemological values.
On the contrary, the understanding of religion based on textual proof (Naqliyyat) is regarded as limiting the freedom of choice, thought and life.
Contrary to the above understanding, the position of reason in Islam is more complementary to revelation.
One of the meanings of “Aql” (reason/intellect), according to renowned Muslim linguist, Muhammad ‘Ali al-Jurjani, is “the light in the heart that knows what is right and wrong and prevent the possessor of reason from deviating towards false path”.
The Quran itself does not view reason as something antagonistic to religion. People of reason, in the Quran, are consistently referred to as those who are inclined towards religious values and the hereafter.
The people of true reason (Ulu Al-Bab), according to the Quran, are those who always contemplate on the lessons from the Quran as written signs of God (Ayat Maqru’ah) and from the natural world as perceived signs of God (Ayat Manzurah).
“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding” [Surah Ali ‘Imran (3): 190].
Many of the arguments of the Quran are presented in a rational way. God issues challenges to non-believers to bring forward their arguments to prove their position, “Say ‘produce your proof (Burhanakum) if you are truthful’” [Surah al-Baqarah (2): 111]. The term Burhan (proof) is known in the Islamic intellectual tradition as the demonstrative argument which is based on reason and empirical evidence.
Among important arguments used by the Quran is the verse which argues on the oneness of God, “if there were in the heaven and earth, other Gods besides Allah, both will fall into ruin” [Surah al-Anbiya’ (21): 22].
The Quran, itself, is revealed to rational men. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, one of the celebrated theologians, outlined 10 rational criteria in accepting the certainty of a traditional proof.
The openness of the Quran to rational principle has influenced the development of Islamic intellectual tradition at least in two respects; first, in the discussion of Islamic epistemology, reason is regarded as one of the valid channels of knowledge apart from senses and true reports (Khabar Adiq).
Second, the willingness of Muslim scholars to accept Greek logical traditions into the Islamic tradition
Early Muslim philosophers like al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd contributed a great deal in translating and commenting and in some sense, restructuring the Greek logical literature.
The same goes for Muslim theologians (Mutakallimum) like al Baqillani, al-Ghazali and Fakhr al Din al-Razi, who appropriated logical principles into theological discussions.
Discussions such as conceptualisation (Taawwur) and assent (Tadiq), intellection (Naar) are few examples of important preliminary topics in the Muslim theological discussions which can be seen in the writings of the later Muslim theologians.
With this reception of rational methods in religion, gradually, logic became one of the important tools of knowledge in the Islamic classification of knowledge.
Since the 12th century, logic was placed hand in hand with Quranic sciences, theology and Islamic jurisprudence in the curriculum of Islamic education in many parts of the Muslim world.
Indeed, such are some of the important messages from the Quran and Islamic tradition for the Muslim youths of the modern world.