Is there a contradiction between the religion and the mind?

The Details of the Question
Is there a contradiction between the religion and the mind?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Author: Mehmet Kırkıncı

There is no contradiction between the mind and the true religion. However, the mind is not sufficient to explore all knowledge. As a matter of fact, there are some realities that the mind can perceive on its own. For instance, the mind has the ability to see and understand the events in the realm of experience and observation; it can understand the existence and oneness of Allah, the beauty of justice and grants, the ugliness of oppression and debauchery. However, there are many points that the mind cannot reach and explore because the mind is a creature and it has limited abilities; it does not have a nature that can see and explore all of the realities. It is impossible to understand the nature and reality of everything by the means of such a mind. “Indeed, absolute reality cannot be comprehended by restricted views. A universal view like the Quran is necessary in order to comprehend it."

Man has not been able to realize the nature of his spirit yet. It is clear that the mind that is too weak to realize even its own nature will be much too weak to understand the metaphysical world. What the mind needs to do in this field is to act in accordance with revelation. Badiuzzaman Said Nursi expresses this truth in a very nice way:

If your mind is dull, let the sun of the Quran shine on you. Look with the light of belief, and instead of the firefly of your own mind, each verse of the Quran will illumine you like a star.

The mind that Islam considers as the main idea is the mind that is illuminated by revelation. Only such a mind can be a criterion for the events and can lead man to knowledge and wisdom.

The place of the mind in Islam is stated as follows: The mind is religious evidence just as the Book (the Quran) and the Sunnah. Therefore, the Shariah never allows something that the mind definitely refutes. The mind does not refute what the Shariah allows, either. Therefore, what is impossible according to the mind cannot be possible according to the Shariah. We should state it importantly that what is meant by the mind in the statements above is the mind of the perfect people who learn things from the school of prophethood. The imams of madhhabs have benefited from that perfect mind thoroughly. If the mind does not confirm the judgments and decrees that the religion puts forward, the heart and the conscience will not be satisfied. In Islam, myths, superstitions, and dreams are not taken into consideration. The madhhabs of Islam cannot be compared to the denominations in Christianity in this sense.   

The fact that the spiritual leaders in the Christian world made some claims contrary to the mind and wisdom, that they prevented people from thinking and contemplating and that they persecuted and killed some scientists and scholars caused some philosophers to oppose the religion of Christianity and consequently to all religions. They ignored revelation completely and preferred acting in accordance with their minds only.    

While the clergymen ignored the mind completely and did not take it into consideration, the philosophers considered the mind as the single guide and could not understand the reality in metaphysical issues. Since they cannot stand under the sun of the prophethood by relying on the firefly of their own minds, they could not watch the luminous objects in the tranquility of the night, could not listen to the constant witnesses of the divine power and could not understand their language.

Yes, the mind can have something to say in the physical field that is based on experience and experiment but it is insufficient in the spiritual and metaphysical field. Those philosophers made mistakes because they tried to solve the problems that could only be illuminated by divine revelation through their minds only.

As a matter of fact, they should have taken into consideration the school of prophethood regarding metaphysical realities. Where are those people coming from and where are they going? What are their duties in this world? They should have searched their questions in that school. They did not do it; therefore, the ideas that the philosophers put forward, the claims that they made in the metaphysical field did not have certainty. No matter how famous they are, these mistakes cannot be forgiven.

Questions related to the spiritual issues cannot be solved by empirical methods. The mind cannot be evidence regarding religious questions and divine realities on its own. Those divine realities are beyond feelings, experience, mind and reason. The philosophers could not understand this fact. They tried to explain the realities that are not connected with their fields, deviated from the right path and caused others to deviate, too. They saw the supernatural realities through a window as narrow as the eye of a needle. They could not free themselves from mistakes because they considered only their own ideas as true due to their heedlessness and pride.

To sum up, the place of the Quran in the field of the spirituality is the same as the place of the experiment and the mind in the development of the science. That is, the judgment belongs to the Quran. The material needs of life depend on science and technology, and spiritual needs depend on the heavenly books. The mind and the experience are taken into consideration in the scientific field; similarly, it is necessary to depend on the prophets and the heavenly books in the field of spirituality. Their fields are different.

Islam takes into account both the principles of the mind and the laws of regulation. That is, it confirms the high realities that it proves through logical evidence using evidence based on revelation. Besides, Islam puts forward many realities that philosophy does and cannot mention by investigating and searching them.    

It is a reality that the guides and leaders regarding the questions of metaphysics can only be prophets. A person without a teacher can only be a student no matter how talented he is. Therefore, scholars like Imam Ghazali, who regarded prophets as their teachers and obeyed them became useful for people with their knowledge and understanding.

The most sacred aims for man are the knowledge of Allah, the love of Allah and His pleasure. They were transferred to people by prophets.

“Know that prophethood in mankind is the summary and foundation of man's good and perfections; the True Religion is the index of prosperity and happiness; belief is a sheer, transcendent good. Since in this world a shining beauty, an extensive and exalted good, an evident truth, and superior perfection are apparent, self-evidently truth and reality lie in prophethood and in the hands of prophets. While evil, misguidance, and loss are with those who oppose them."

The previous prophets heralded the ones that would come after them. The latter ones confirmed the former ones because the source that the prophets benefit from is revelation. Revelation is free from the doubt of delusions because it depends on divine knowledge.   

The way of revelation is more resolute, more universal and more effective. It satisfies the human mind, pleases his spirit and rejoices its conscience in all aspects.  Man can be freed from the worldly and otherworldly agonies and crises through obeying prophets only.

To sum up, the most important points that the denominations in Islam differ from the denominations in Christianity are as follows:

1- The mind is an important principle in the Islamic denominations. In Christianity, the sultanate and domination of the clergy are in question. The clergymen determine the faith of the people. Those who obey them unconsciously cannot be freed from the chains of imitation. They imitated the clergymen without evidence and acted under their domination. No individual is free in his or her belief. They became Christians through christening and exit Christianity through excommunication. However, there is no clergy sultanate or domination in Islam. No scholar or guide has the authority to dominate a person’s creed and belief.

2- In Christianity, what the clergymen regard as halal become halah and what they regard as haram become haram. Allah obeys what the clergymen decide (God forbid). Islam eradicated and destroyed their domination and superstitions.

In Islam, only what Allah makes haram becomes haram and what Allah makes halal becomes halal. Nobody other than Allah can transform something haram into halal and something halal into haram. Nobody can be excommunicated through the order of a scholar. A scholar, no matter how high his rank is, has no right other than advising and guiding people. In Islam, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) is Allah’s slave and messenger. Scholars are the inheritors of the Prophet. In Christianity, divinity is attributed to Jesus. Priests assume that they have the authority to pardon sins and to transform something haram into halal and something halal into haram since they are the representatives of such a prophet.   

3- In Christianity, some denominations regard other denominations as unbelievers. They are like independent religions. In Islam, all of the denominations are regarded as one group and they are named as Ahl as-Sunnah.

4- The denominations in Islam do not have different places of worshipping peculiar to themselves. They perform prayers in the same mosque and they follow the imams of other denominations when they perform prayers.

5- A Muslim can enter any denomination. For instance, a Shafii can become a Hanafi and a Hanafi can become a Shafii. No imam has put forward a judgment preventing it.

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