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It is all too common to find people dividing human knowledge into 2 categories:

  1. Things that can be rationally understood and scientifically verified
  2. Things that cannot be rationally understood nor scientifically verified

The explanation offered is that reality is divided into two realms: the material world and the spiritual world.

Religion and morality are usually placed under the second category, because they are seen to belong to the spiritual world. They exist on a level higher than material interests and cannot be judged or measured by material instruments, including the human mind.

This site is about challenging this assumption, and presenting an understanding of religion and morality that is compatible with human reason.

I firmly believe that Islam promotes a rational approach to religion, which has been overlooked out of innocent ignorance and corrupt intentions.

The ideas in this site will challenge many assumptions you may hold.

Spending time here can prove to be a very uncomfortable experience.

Your initial reaction might be to look away, or conclude that I’ve lost my mind (or that it’s been corrupted by Western influences).

What I think isn’t all that important to you.

It won’t change the way you think or how you live.

What matters is what you think.

Before you brush off my ideas as being wrong, I would like you to explore your own beliefs and ask yourself how you came to accept them as undeniable truth.

Asking the hard questions is just as important as finding the right answers.

A Bit About Me

My name is Haider Al-Mosawi.

I lived all my teenage years (and then some!) in London (UK), having spent my childhood in Kuwait.

I was raised by religious parents in a fairly conservative environment.

After enrolling in university I began to question why I was a Muslim, and what reasons did I have for embracing my religion.

I committed myself to finding the truth, wherever it may take me, regardless of which land I would end up in or what religion I would convert to (if any).

While some Muslims might consider this approach to go against the teachings of Islam, it only shows to what extent they’ve deviated from Islam’s message.

As Muslims, we expect (actually, demand) that others approach Islam with an open mind and the willingness to embrace the truth, but at the same time refuse to demonstrate the qualities we expect others to possess.

We want others to learn about our religion, but we refuse to learn about theirs.

We want others to appreciate the wisdom found in the Holy Koran, but we look to other scriptures only to find faults.

We want others to convert to our religion, but for us to even think of embracing another religion is blasphemy.

During my university years I became a Muslim extremist, and have since changed my views and have explored many different interpretations of Islam.

And this is an essential fact we need to acknowledge and work with:

Our understanding of Islam is just that: our understanding.

So how can we be sure that it’s the right interpretation of God’s message?

That’s one of the big questions I’ll be exploring here, which will reveal the importance of rationality in religious thought.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

NoorulQamar July 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm

No one can claim that the Science&Technology has explored all the facts of life&no stone is left unturned.There are too many subjects&corners required to be varified yet.Every one knows that a scientific approach which was not possible before is varified today.And same reality applies for the things that can’t scientifically be proven even today may be varified in the future.So the theory of rationalism/irrationalism can’t be defined absolutely.Facts that are seemed to be irrational today may proven to be rational tomorrow. As for the religion Islam is concernd,no one could challange it’s truth.Many sciencetists have been declared the Holy Qur’an as divine revelation&proven that it not only deals with the irrational but rational approach as well.The Holy Qur’an is perfact wisdom,infallible, practical code of life& Word of God.The only can interprete verses of the Holy Book who is knowledgeable,infallible,righty guided&appointed by God as authority for it’s execution.The history is aware of the people who were not knowledgeable,fallible,not rightly guided&appointed by dynasities explained the Holy Qur’an by their own understandings&benifits,not only misguided theirselves but also astrayed a lot of others.And this practice is in it’s full swing even today at the aim of antiIslamic ideologies&sectors.So it’s quite clear crystal whom we are to follow&whom we are to reject in proper understanding&interpretation of the Holy Qur’an&guidance.No need to waste our precious time& to get lost energy in seeking for TRUTH in studing the world religions other than Islam which have already been declared fake by the Holy Qur’an.. May Allah keep all of us guiding through His Striaght Path& give the real insight of the Holy Qur’an&His True Representatives!

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Haider July 20, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Hi NoorulQamar,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

While I don’t deny that science has its limits, I also don’t claim that human beings have perfect knowledge, which is why science is compatible with human nature: it stretches as human knowledge expands. We can’t possibly claim to “know” what’s not within our ability to know.

Do scientists make mistakes? Sure. But that doesn’t undermine the scientific approach. It’s still the most reliable approach we have as human beings.

Besides, if you believe that scientists have “proven” the divine origin of the Holy Koran, yet still undermine the scientific approach, then you offer no credibility to their proof. You are basically saying that the evidence presented by scientists will most likely be considered “irrational” tomorrow.

In this site I’d like to explore many of the topics you’ve touched on, and in particular the assumptions you have made and built your claims on.

For example:

- No one could challenge the truth of Islam: How can you assert that Islam has not been challenged, and how do you prove that it is the truth?

- The Holy Koran is the word of God: While I don’t reject this claim, you might also like to bear in mind that people of other religions have made the exact same claim about their own scriptures. So what evidence do you have to back this claim up?

- Its crystal clear who we should follow: It’s only crystal clear, given your belief system. For those who don’t believe in divine leadership, or accept narrations you don’t accept, and reject those you do, it’s not as clear as you make it out to be.

- The Holy Koran can only be understood by those appointed by God: Then why was the Holy Koran revealed in Arabic, to be understood by the people to which it was revealed? Were the Arabs at the time of the Prophet completely oblivious to what the Holy Koran meant?

- All other religions are false, because the Holy Koran says so: Would you accept a Christian claiming that your religion is false because the Holy Bible says it is? Besides, don’t you think it’s a bit hypocritical to expect others to waste their precious time and energy on your religion, without you expressing any hint of interest in their religion?

I’m not saying everything you said is wrong. I agree with you on a few points. But what I would like to do is to encourage Muslims to think about their beliefs on a deeper level, and to question the assumptions they hold about their own religion and about other religions.

Even if everything you have said is right, you need to back it up with strong evidence that supports your arguments.

I look forward to your contributions in future posts. :)

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NoorulQamar July 22, 2010 at 3:58 am

I’m not a knowledgeable person at all.I’m passing through a learning process yet.I confess my short comings.I also know the limits of my ability&capability.Despite all of my defciencies,I’m not agree to give up my efforts.For sure I’m an ordinary person,but trying to be an extraordinary.. If anybody claims to reject the versatility of Islam,it’ll have definitly to give even a better substitute.Who I’m to prove the TRUTH of Islam?Islam has a scope to prove its TRUTH by its own.If someone is really seeking for the TRUTH,it must read the Holy Qur’an with all its heart&soul&purity(05:15&16)(17:09)(10:57)(02:231)(03:138)&(45:20) All the other scriptures have been changed except the Holy Qur’an.It’s preserved by God(15: 09)(87:21&22)&(56:77 to 80)The Holy Qur’an is the Word of God(52:34)(11:13)(10:38)(02:23)&(17:88)No other scriptures have such claims.The Holy Qur’an is made easy to understand(43:03).Although the Holy Qur’an is in Arabic but it’s not only for Arabs,it’s for all humanbeings(06:19) So once we accepted the TRUTH of the Holy Qur’an,we’ll have to believe on what it accepts&we’ll have to deny what it rejects.Whom it emphasizes to follow&whom it suggests to skip&quit following..

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Haider July 22, 2010 at 8:59 pm

NoorulQamar, I believe the truth is accessible to ordinary people. You don’t have to be a scholar of religion to understand religious beliefs. In fact, during the time of the Prophet, it was ordinary people who were embracing Islam. Even now, many converts to Islam have accepted it based on their own reasoning, and without having to study religion for 20 years before gaining confidence in their own decisions.

But if you are talking to a non-Muslim, you can’t simply expect Islam to prove itself. You are the one doing the talking, so you have to be the one doing the proving. :)

Quoting the Holy Koran to prove Islamic beliefs as being true is not a valid approach. It’s like a Christian quoting from the Holy Bible. You wouldn’t accept that as proof, would you?

The Holy Koran is open to a great deal of interpretation, so not everybody quoting the Holy Koran can claim that the interpretation they hold is the right interpretation. That’s why we’re in desperate need to find out what makes a valid argument, and what doesn’t.

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NoorulQamar July 24, 2010 at 2:43 am

I’m not a religious scholar.I’m myself passing through a learning phase.. :-)

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Haider July 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

Learning never stops. And I hope this site will be a valuable contribution to your learning experience. ;)

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q8travelbud July 30, 2010 at 7:15 pm

There are so many interpretations today of Islam and so many cultural and political practices that have been attributed to Islam … for us to truly come to understand our religion then we need to open up about it and discuss it and question our beliefs and practices today … we should break this taboo about discussing religions … if we don’t then we will be followers but not necessarily true believers…

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Haider July 30, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Hi Bud,

I totally agree with you. The main aim of this blog is to remove the red tape that’s been choking us up. There’s nothing to fear about knowledge and awareness about our religion. It’s ignorance that we should worry about.

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Aliuddeen February 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I believe by giving you my particulars and website I have committed a blogging etiquette sin, for which I apologize. I could not help but get excited by reading your blog and the way you handled NoorulQamar’s comments. It is possible that both of us are on the same track in our spiritual development.

My beliefs adopt the rational approach except the much argued belief in Allah. My belief in Allah is a non-rational belief as arguments can be made both ways with equal force. In all other matters: Quran (God’s Arabic or Muhammad’s); sects within Islam; the positions on gender and sexual preferences; and importantly agreeing with you wholeheartedly that with the tools available to a modern person (online access to quran, the hadiths and fiqh) there is absolutely no reason to rely on judgments and opinions of the so-called ulema. The main argument for non-reliance on their (ulema’s) views is their arrogant stance and circular reasoning which was adopted by Noorul also. No offense Noorul!
I am curious about your rational belief in Allah and how you arrive at that.

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Haider February 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

Dear Aliuddeen,

Thank you for passing by and leaving a comment. :)

I’m not entirely sure where I said we do not need ulema, but I’m of the opinion that we can’t take the opinions of ulema as sacred truth. However, ulema play an important role of making Islamic narrations more accessible to the general population, and can provide us with different perspectives within religious teachings to widen our understanding of the variables at play in understanding scripture and narrations.

Access to the Quran and hadiths is no substitute for the need to weave verses and narrations correctly, while appreciating the historical and cultural contexts in which they were expressed. There is a great deal of knowledge we need to acquire to best understand religious teachings. The biggest problem we’re experiencing today is conviction grounded in ignorance (which breeds dogmatism and intolerance).

My belief in God stems primarily from my inability to comprehend the rise of conscious beings in an unconscious world. I find it hard to believe that’s possible in the absence of a conscious creator. This may just be my ignorance for the time being, but since I have no better explanation for life on earth, I can only rely on what I currently know.

I hope that makes sense. :)

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Aliuddeen February 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Dear Haider
Thank you for your thought-provoking response.
In my enthusiasm for finding a like-minded approach I mistakenly transposed my ‘worldview’ on to you for which I hope you will excuse me, and I withdraw them all.

I do not regard the views of the ulema as you do. Perhaps you could clarify what you mean by ‘scriptures and narrations’ from a rational point of view (your point 1.Things that can be rationally understood and scientifically verified). I can see them offering different perspectives but the question is whether they are rational. In my experience in discussions and debate with them I find that they rely on ‘mutashabihat’, hadith and hagiography (none adhering to your rule 1.) as incontrovertible truth. The ulema’s ease in accessing the general population becomes even more troubling and indeed dangerous, given the realities of the Muslim world today. As you correctly point out “The biggest problem we’re experiencing today is conviction grounded in ignorance (which breeds dogmatism and intolerance).” This is exactly what the ulema are doing and have done in the past.

If I implied that access to Quran and hadith without historical, cultural and may I add rational contexts was the way to appreciate religious teachings then I humbly apologize for that error. However, I do take issue with your claim that great deal of knowledge needs to be acquired (of what?) before understanding religious teaching, which actually contradicts what you correctly pointed out to Noorul (July 22). As rational human beings who claim ‘Ashhadu la ilaaha illallah’
it is incumbent on us to cleanse the crud surrounding Muhammad’s message. Would you not agree?

Your interesting explanation for your belief in God leads me to ask you whether you believe that
fauna and flora, quarks and leptons, and other incomprehensible things are from the ‘unconscious world’?

Please accept my comments in the sincerity that they were made in.

Peace

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Haider February 17, 2014 at 10:43 am

Aliuddeen,

Scripture = The Quran. Narrations = The Hadith. Both are texts that have been passed down through the generations and collected/interpreted by different Muslim factions. You can scientifically verify the ideas within these texts or evaluate their rational basis. But to know what traditions exist about the Prophet, then that knowledge must be “acquired”, in the same way a historian studies written accounts, as opposed to conducting experiments or trying to observe what happened during a historical event.

I’ve never met a scholar that’s consistently rational (they often default to rationalizations and fallacious arguments), but a scholar who has read a thousand hadiths isn’t the same as a layman who has heard only 3. There is knowledge to be gained about Islam as a tradition from scholars. How they understand Islam and what conclusions they’ve drawn from their readings is another matter.

Reason and common sense are accessible to all. You don’t need specialized knowledge to form an understanding of morality, for example, but trying to make sense of historical accounts or an understanding of a religious tradition needs to have some specialized knowledge, and the broader one’s understanding of the world, the better his understanding of particulars will be. Someone who has no understanding of politics will struggle to make sense of concepts such as authority, freedom, rights, theocracy, etc. A person with no knowledge of history will struggle to evaluate different political systems because there’s no factual precedent to learn from (that’s why many Muslims still believe that an Islamic theocracy will solve all of the world’s problems, when history doesn’t support such a claim).

Fauna is definitely conscious. Not sure about flora yet. :P

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