The following questions were posed by a Muslim (name withheld). Although an answer is provided below, you too are encouraged to provide your feedback and arguments.
Questions: I am a Muslim but I get distracted by thoughts such as how do we know that Allah is the “God? Although I do believe in a supreme being, why do I have to practice Muslim rituals of worship (or any other forms of worship)? What about people who say that religion is our personal affair where I can establish my personal relationship with God and therefore there isn’t any need for any specific worship practices? Why not simply pay attention to the basic rules of humanity? I see people who supposedly follow all worship practices only to engage in behavior not sanctioned by Islam.
As you are a Muslim, let’s start by first relying on the sparks of your belief in Allah, the Quran, and our prophet. Let’s remember that one of the main Dua’s (prayer and supplication) that we are told about in the Quran and Hadith is to seek true “guidance.” Getting this guidance (on the right path) alone can enable us to strengthen our belief in Allah and His prophet’s teachings. For example, one of the primary Dua’s in Surah Al-Fatihah (the first Surah of the Quran) is the following:
“Guide us to the Straight Way” (Surah Al-Fatihah, 1:6).
Logically speaking, this Dua can be made by anyone (Muslim or non-Muslim) seeking truth and the right guidance from the “Supreme Being”. After all, who wouldn’t want guidance on the “Straight Way?”
According to the interpretation of the verse given in “The Noble Quran” (Published in Madinah, KSA), “guidance” can be of two types: “. . . (a) Guidance of Taufîq, which is totally from Allah, i.e. Allah opens one’s heart to receive the truth (from disbelief to Belief in Islâmic Monotheism), and (b) Guidance of Irshad, i.e., through preaching by Allah’s Messengers and the pious preachers who preach the truth in Islâmic Monotheism.”
As Muslims, we, therefore, should constantly (a) pray to Allah to open our heart for true guidance, and (b) seek knowledge that can clarify our suspicions.
Who is the true Deity / God? What is the “truth”?
What follows assumes that your belief system lies within the boundaries of what’s referred to as “Theism”, meaning that you not merely believe in a “Supreme Being”, but you refute any anti-theistic theories of Atheism, Polytheism, Hylozoism, Materialism, and Pantheism. That is so because if you lean to any such anti-theistic theories, then the discussion would need to tread a different path altogether.
So, given that you believe in a higher Deity that created everything and controls all aspects of this creation, and to whom we will all return, wouldn’t that make it our solemn duty to find more about that deity?
And if you do believe in the existence of a “supreme God”, wouldn’t you associate “truth” to that God alone?
Since time immemorial man has sought to find the truth – the truth about creation, the creator, our soul, morality, etc. Philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle wrote volumes exploring the need for the right laws and the role of intelligence in law-giving, philosophy, religion, politics, education, distinction between right and wrong, and so on. That all happened because we humans are curious beings with our DNA programmed to explore, search, investigate, ascertain, and at the end, to formulate our own conclusions about various truths.
So, thinking along the same lines, given that we recognize a supreme God, why not then commit ourselves to find the truth of that Supreme God? If we believe that God is indeed powerful, wouldn’t it behoove us to investigate what He has commanded, what He likes, dislikes, etc.? How can we put our innate desires to sleep by simply ignoring our curiosities to know who that God is and what that “truth” is? More than that, how can we take the risk of ignoring what He may have said about what our purpose in life is and what we as humans need to do during our short stay on earth?
About Allah, Islam, and Quran
To address some of your questions, the following are some of the points that Islam and the Quran has defined. Each of these can be a topic for further elaboration but can’t be fully elaborated here due to constraints of time and space.
- The Quran and Islam have defined the rules of “humanity” more than any other religion. The followers of Islam follow those rules and truths because they are part of the very core of Islam. Although most of such rules are commonly accepted by the general humanity, not all of such rules are included in the divine revelation of other religions in such detail and substance as Islam defines them. These rules encompass protecting the rights of individuals fulfilling various roles, justice, poverty, equal rights, peace, and so on.
- God in Islam (Allah) has provided for us channels and ways to communicate with Him to enable us to build a personal relationship with Him and to reinforce our conviction in Him. Regarding the statement, “religion is our personal affair, so there isn’t any need for any specific worship practices,” how then would you engage with God to build that relationship? If you are going to devise your own ways (rituals), then why not instead follow His prescribed ways to reach out to Him? Why should there be any resistance to such prescribed worship and practices?
- It is a fact that some people (a minority) engage in objectionable behavior in the name of religion or as the followers of that religion but we should recognize that those so-called followers of the religion are driven more by their selfish motives and interests rather than by the convictions in the divine that they should have nurtured within themselves in the first place. Such people, therefore, shouldn’t make us lose hope and abandon the pursuit of the truth.
As Muslims, we believe in the truth of Islam not only because of our belief in Allah and His teachings, but also by reading and understanding what is in the Quran. For example, we see in the Quran, (1) how Allah explains why is He the One God, (2) various teleological, moral, cosmological, and other arguments about the existence of Allah, the one God, (3) how Allah directly addresses other major religions (Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.) and challenges those beliefs by providing counter arguments, (4) how Allah provides truths that make perfect sense and provides arguments to disprove people’s doubts, (5) how Allah, rather than simply providing the truths, provides a framework to implement those truths (through certain practices), (6) the challenge to find discrepancies in all of the presented truths in the Quran, (7) the use of an active language to “speak” to humans which persuades us to listen to what the message is, (8) a man’s innate need to find the truth and how the truth that He is asserting is the answer, (9) assertion of the self-evident truths that some humans may ignore and reject simply to prove the idea of God, religion, and Islam wrong, (10) challenge to humanity to use their faculties of intellect and other skills to counter arguments that surface in one’s mind, (11) stories of nations that the world is beginning to find out for the first time in history, (12) scientific facts of about 1500 years ago that are being brought to light only now, and (12) the picture of a Deity clearly asserting His role as The God.
The above provides only a small glimpse of what is in the Quran. Reading the accounts of many who have converted to Islam, we see that they recount the above reasons and more. These are good reminders for us too as Muslims to reinforce our beliefs and also should also serve as food for thought for those who want to pursue their personal efforts in finding the truth.
The questions you raise are bound to surface as we go through life’s trials and tribulations and in the overall process of strengthening our beliefs. The weakness in our faiths can cause us to stumble and to question the “truth”. During that process, let’s constantly remind ourselves that within the Quran, Allah has taken the direct responsibility of being the sustainer of the world and to provide His help. But that also comes with a condition. So long as we humans don’t engage in behaviors and practices that disrupt the overall order, peace and His underlying laws, we can expect to have that helping hand sail us through our voyage on this earth. God will provide us calmer seas and tranquil waters but that will work only if we humans use our faculties to build strong ships without drilling holes in our own ships.
No one has said that finding the “truth” is that simple. Understanding the truth and ascertaining its foundations does require motivation along with a logical intellect that can help us to sort through the philosophical, moral, and other arguments. We shouldn’t, therefore, relinquish our efforts to gather all the facts and evidences for finding the truth. In the end, however, the real answers will have to come from within you. Yes – you may have to dive deeper to find those answers but that will be more rewarding than forming quick conclusions. Remember, we can’t find out more about the deep sea fish by merely staying in shallow waters.
Finally, let’s pray that Allah provides us the ability to see “truth” as the truth, and “falsehood” as falsehood. The prophet taught us a Dua that is along the same lines.
— The IqraSense.com Blogger