The nature of religious faith is quite mysterious. As part of their religious faiths, people believe in a variety of deities. There are people who have religious faith in the unseen supreme transcendental power and then there are others who believe in some humans as Gods, animals (e.g. monkeys), fire, idols made of stone, and the list goes on.
A lot is associated with having a religious “faith”. Part of it has to do with beliefs passed on through generations. People’s identities therefore get tied to it. Many times, these beliefs and associated feelings are not completely demonstrable by reason or any rational arguments. There is nothing right or wrong with this but that’s just how the nature of religious faith has come to be.
Everyone thinks they are right in their faith and beliefs. Being with people and groups with similar faiths further strengthens people’s faiths and they see it as “right” even though logical reasoning and argument sometimes can’t explain it all. That’s human psychology.
Islam’s arguments based on intellectual reasoning
Muslims believe however, that the Islamic religion is different in this context. One may argue that similar to other faiths there are aspects of it which are not completely demonstrable by reason but on the other hand, the Quranic text, which is Allah’s words addressing the humanity at large, uses intellectual reason, critical thinking, and the process of reflection as a means to not only reinforce the faith of the believers but also to call non-believers to ponder about the authenticity of Islam as the way of life for the humanity at large. Although no religious beliefs can be fully based on logic and reasoning, Islam and Quran provide more than enough examples and an opportunity to examine the truth and the soundness of its message through the lens of empirical evidence and knowledge.
No one (Muslim or otherwise) would argue that critical thinking and reflection can be a major catalyst for changing of ones life. Critical thinking has been used by many to improve their lives simply because a critical thinker asks probing questions about a situation, collects as much information as possible, reflects on the ideas collected and generated in context of the information available, keeps an open and unbiased mind and carefully scrutinizes assumptions and seeks alternatives.
This is the reason therefore that new Muslim converts would attribute the use of intelligent reasoning, reflection and critical thinking when explaining their journey to Islam. Such people cut through the hysteria created by some in the media to view Islam from a critical lens and following the truth thus comes naturally to them as part of this process. How else can one explain the increase in conversions with the increase of anti-Islam rhetoric? How else can one explain that more non-Muslim preachers have been converting to Islam than ever before? Although as Muslims we believe that the guidance (hidaya) comes only from Allah, the use of a person’s God-gifted intellectual reasoning has a very powerful role to play in Muslim converts making that destiny changing decision. And once converted, they rarely go back to their old faiths simply because a faith whose foundations are built on logic and reason is much less likely to be shaken down than one which builds simply upon a set of rites and sacraments.
Reasons attributed by new Converts
Some of the reasons attributed by people who convert to Islam are listed below. We can see that most of these reasons can only be attributed to the process of critical thinking and intellectual reflection.
- Eloquence of Quran’s language – The uniqueness and beauty of Quran’s text has been marveled by the best of Arab linguists and scholars from the days it was revealed until today. The more knowledgeable people are in the language, the more they appreciate the wonders of the textual fluency of the Quran.
- Overwhelming scientific evidence and proofs – The Quran, revealed more than 1400 years ago has numerous scientific facts that are being validated by science only in this era.
- Divine wisdom behind various social issues – The Quran provides a solution to numerous social issues, a deviation from which has known to cause societal chaos at all levels.
- Arguments rooted in intellectual reasoning – Quran is the only known religious text that challenges mankind to think, reflect and ponder over the creation at large, social issues, God’s existence, and more. Quran in many instances challenges people to reflect and think on their own rather than heeding to the lose talk of those whose criticism is based on baseless foundations.
- A confident assertion of a supreme being – Quran is the only known religious book that has a confident assertion of a supreme being on all issues ranging from the creation of the universe to social issues.
- Divine Text – Quran’s language and prose is very different from the language in the hadith (Porphet’s sayings) thus proving that Quran is not the “imagination” or words of Prophet Muhammad, as many doubters have alleged in the past and do so even today.
Quran’s challenge to people on thinking and reflection
The Quran on numerous occasions challenges humanity at large to think, reflect and ponder over their affairs. Here is some of what the Quran states:
Thus do We explain the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, laws, etc.) in detail for the people who reflect. (Yunus, Chapter #10, Verse #24)
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. (Ar-Room, Chapter #30, Verse #8)
He it is Who has appointed for you the night that you may rest therein, and the day to make things visible (to you). Verily, in this are Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) for a people who listen (i.e. those who think deeply). (Yunus, Chapter #10, Verse #67)
Does man think that he will be left Suda (neglected without being punished or rewarded for the obligatory duties enjoined by his Lord (Allah) on him)? (Al-Qiyama, Chapter #75, Verse #36)
Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?” (Al-Mumenoon, Chapter #23, Verse #115)
To the rejecters of truth the Quran states: Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay, they are even farther astray from the Path. (i.e. even worst than cattle). (Al-Furqan, Chapter #25, Verse #44)
Do they not reflect? There is no madness in their companion (Muhammad). He is but a plain warner. (Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #184)
Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and rending asunder by the fear of Allah. Such are the parables which We put forward to mankind that they may reflect . (Al-Hashr, Chapter #59, Verse #21)
When studying the many cases of new Muslim converts, we see that engaging in critical thinking and intellectual reasoning have led people to change their non-Islamic faiths – the same faiths that earlier supposedly could have moved mountains, get diluted by the voices of reason easily heard in the roots of Islam. A mere process of thinking and reflection brings so much to the limelight that otherwise remains veiled by distractions and forces of the anti-Islam pundits. Those who are bent to see only the negative, fail to see the light of truth and instead engage in a never ending superficial analysis to unsuccessfully prove their misguided philosophies.
There are many statistics in the media that highlight the phenomenal rate at which people are converting to Islam. Although, the authenticity of all these sources has not been validated for the purpose of this post, some of them include the following:
According to “The Almanac Book of Facts”, the population increased 137% within the past decade, Christianity increased 46%, while Islam increased 235%.
100,000 people per year in America alone, are converting to Islam. For every 1 male convert to Islam, 4 females convert to Islam
TV Report: 4000 Germans Convert To ISLAM Each Year
About 25000 people convert to Islam every year in the UK alone
…many more examples exist.
What about Muslims?
If voices of reason embedded in the teachings of Islam are causing non-Muslims to revert to Islam in droves, why is it that so many Muslims usually born into the religion fail to fully follow and thus enjoy the teachings of the religion? The fact is that it is this lack of critical thinking and reflection even on some Muslims part that is forcing Muslims to have a substandard way of life. Islam and its teachings hold the promise of a fulfilling and peaceful life for all. Yet, Muslims continue to ignore the basics and get mired in social and moral issues causing unnecessary pain and suffering on themselves and their families. The fact is that only if they could think and reflect on the teachings of their own religion, they can escape the many problems and challenges that face them.
To non-Muslims who have only scratched the surface about learning Islam and who may be getting distracted by those who are the wrong torch bearers of this religion and also distracted by the biased voices in the media, the message is simple – try to view the teachings of Islam with a critical lens and you may be able to see more reason than you may not have thought was present. To Muslims, the message is that sometimes we do not appreciate the teachings of our own religion simply because we never think and grow beyond the few religious practices in operating our lives. A focused effort to learn, think and reflect more will help us get closer to the religious teachings in ways that can drastically improve our lives.