I read a very thought provoking post over at Messy Thoughts and the following discussion regarding the post was insanely entertaining. Lots of self-righteousness rearing its ugly head and all that fun stuff.
Let me go over into a rant on the subject now. I have been contemplating this whole idea about Religion and Logic and blind-faith and all that stuff for a long time. I am very thankful that I had a grandfather who was very challenging in this regard, always made me question everything and always said:
“Think about something before believing in it, there might be some logic in it. If you can’t find any logic in it, go search for it. Don’t just believe something because others say you have to.”
I try to live by his words, not always successful, but I try. So here goes my thoughts on the matter.
5 Pillars and their Logic
We all know what they are, we have grown up with everything telling us about them, how we must go about doing them, what are the consequences of not doing them (etc. etc.) No one talks about the why.
Shahadah - Belief in One God
In my humble opinion, there is but one part of the pillars that you might consider believing in based on blind faith, if you do go right ahead. Though I still like to think about it.
Why must this be true? Why must there be only one God? Think about it? I would like to reference this to let’s say some old Greek/Roman mythology. They had multiple gods right? What happened in their version of things? Lots of discord? Lots of arguments and wars and everything (thats how the mythology goes right?).
Someone once said this to me that stuck to me all my life, don’t remember who it was otherwise I’d quote them:
“Just imagine there were 2 gods, and not more than that even. One day one god would say, let the sun rise from the east and set in the west. The other day, the other god says, No today it rises in the west and sets in the east. How can 2 gods agree? Much less multiple?”
You can argue, well think about Roman/Greek mythology? Their gods had different roles and they did not interfere with each other. Well strictly that statement is not true, they did interfere, let’s say they didn’t right? In most of those scenarios, there is a uber-god or father-god; Zeus or Jupiter or whatever, and he has the final say in most things. He would override whatever some other god decided, if he disagreed. And so the stories go, that’s my logic in it.
Salat - Prayers
This one is simple in my opinion. Prayers are not only the spiritual communication with God, but more than that, you do some physical actions five times a day, think about it. You are exercising your body. And as we believe the body is a gift from god, it’s a way to maintain that gift while we have it.
Sawm - Fasting
This one is hard for most people to understand. I do not know why, but this one is also in my opinion very simple. You fast, not only as a physical benefit of cleansing your body, mind and soul; but also, you put yourself in a situation of others, the less fortunate. Those that go hungry day in day out because they have much less than you. Maybe by putting you in that situation, you will come to not only realize how lucky and blessed you are; but you just might give some of that you have been blessed with to the less fortunate. Which easily links to the next pillar.
Zakat - Giving to the needy and poor
This one does not really need much logic to understand. I am sure there are lots of reasons behind it, but just think of this one: Distribution of wealth with the hope of equalizing inequality in society and easing the burden of the poor and needy. Simple.
Hajj - Pilgrimage of Mecca
This is one part where I find difficulty and would welcome discussion (not to mention on all the other points, I always welcome discussion). I have talked to many who have performed Hajj and the common theme that comes to me is, I have to experience it to understand it. And hopefully one day I will, till then I won’t stop contemplating the logic behind it.
I think, it has a lot of reasons obviously, the few that I can fathom I will talk about. Hajj has a way of removing someone from his material possessions, the act of putting on the ‘Ihraam’, and focusing the person on the spirituality that Hajj brings, in all its rituals. The stoning of the devil, the spending the night at Mina or Muzdalifah etc. brings with it a sense of separation from the material world and focusing one on being closer to his Lord. Granted these days there are hotels and the such, I am not fully aware of how people go about these, I have heard the stories, but then again I won’t know till I experience it myself.
More than that, Hajj removes social and class distinctions. Yes the rich live in luxurious hotels and the like. But when say doing ‘tawaaf’ or other such rituals, a rich man or woman is no different than a poor one. They all have to do the same rituals in the same manner. No more and no less. They all interact, and may form friendships and bonds that I can not even begin to understand.
Other parts of Religion
Though strictly other aspects that we have, mistakenly at times, considered part of Islam also have logic associated with them. Take for example keeping a beard. It is not obligatory, it is a Sunnah. Where is the logic in such things? There have been many studies that link having a beard to reducing the chances of contracting throat and gum diseases. Keeping the skin on the face protected etc. Similar logic can be defined for the ‘nikaab’ for women. Again I personally believe these things are personal choice and not obligatory, I might be mistaken in my assumption but then again, I tend to think certain things are obligatory and the rest is a matter of preference.
I believe most things in our religion (or any other religion) has some form of logic behind it; scientific or not. It is a matter of thinking about it, or not and just taking it on pure faith that Allah has some logic behind it for us.
I also believe that one of Allah’s greatest gift to man is the human brain. And to not use it to question things, is a sin in itself.
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