Throughout the history, whenever a group wants to penetrate its own views into God’s religion, they propagated the significance of intellect and said that since the traditional creed do not conform to the intellect, we should transform the creed to make it compatible with intellect. By the term ‘intellect’, they meant the theories prevailing in their age.
Mu’tazilah [a group of Muslim scholars that tried to make reconciliation between Greek philosophy and Islam] did the same job after being intellectually defeated by the Greek philosophy. They emphasized that the intellect is more important than the God’s Prophet. As a result of that it became an easy job to amend the religion according to their views. Therefore, based on their special version of ‘justice’ and ‘monotheism’, the Mu’tazilah refuted the concepts of the heaven’s bridge, divine covenant and Mi’raj and rejected all the Prophet’s sayings about these concepts.
Right Position of the ‘Intellect’
Various verses of the Holy Quran appeal the human intellect to ponder into the diverse signs on God available in entire universe. At one place, their attention is drawn towards the movement of winds. On other places they are asked to wonder about the sun, moon, stars, lunar cycles and climatic changes. Some verses describe various steps in growth of plants whereas some other verses focus on creation of and the benefits drawn from animals. The Quran asks us o ponder into the signs of God available in the universe as well as in human body itself…. The benefits of using human intellect include the following:
The first benefit of pondering into the signs of God is that a person may take the advantage of using these blessings of the Almighty God in his/her favor after knowing the detailed characteristics of these things. Allah, the Almighty says in the Quran:
سَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ.
We have put everything of heavens and the earth under your control. (Luqman 31:20)
It means that everything in this universe can be exploited by human intellect. Now taking advantage of this fact is in human hands. It can be done only by using the intellect.
[Second benefit is] that when a person concentrates in exploring the universe, it confirms the existence and extraordinary planning of its Creator. That person says without any hesitation:
رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذَا بَاطِلاً.
O our Lord! You have not created this universe useless. (Aal Imran 3:191)
Intellect and the Guidance towards the Right Path
In order to explain the above benefit, we just present an incident happened with Inayat Ullah Khan Mashraqi during his student life in England. He describes:
In 1909, there was a heavy rain on a Sunday. I went out for something. I saw that the famous astronomer Professor James Jeans was going towards the Church having the Holy Bible in his underarm. I saluted him. He said, “What do you want?” I asked, “Two things, first one of them is that you have kept the umbrella in your underarm and there is a heavy rain.” He smiled and opened the umbrella. Then I asked, “A famous scientist like you is going to Church for prayer!” He said, “Come to my home in evening for a tea party.”
I reached at his home at 4:00pm. Exactly at 4:00pm Lady James came out and said, “Sir James is waiting for you.” I went inside. Tea pots were lying on a small table. The professor was thinking deeply. He said, “What was your question?” And then started without waiting for my response. He explained the creation of heavenly bodies, their astonishing system, long distances, complex orbits, gravitational forces and movement of their light.
His explanation was so impressive that my heart started shaking on the greatness of the Almighty Allah. He, himself was so affected by the details that his hair were erected, eyes were full of the feelings of God’s fear and amazement. His hands were trembling and his sound was shivering.
He said, “O Inayatullah Khan! When I look at the creative force of God, my whole body starts shaking with His fear. When I surrender myself to the Lord in the Church and say, ‘You are great, my Lord!’ Each particle of my personality goes along with me. I feel a lot of satisfaction and happiness. I enjoy the worship 1000 times more than other people. Now tell Inayatullah Khan! Whether you understand why I go to the Church?”
Inayatullah Mashriqi says that the speech of Professor James created a storm in his mind. He said, “Sir! I am really impressed with your inspiring explanation. I recall a verse from the Holy Quran. If you allow, I want to present it.” He said, “Why not?” I recited the following verse.
و مِنْ الْجِبَالِ جُدَدٌ بِيضٌ وَحُمْرٌ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهَا وَغَرَابِيبُ سُودٌ۔ وَمِنْ النَّاسِ وَالدَّوَابِّ وَالأَنْعَامِ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ كَذَلِكَ إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ.
Similarly, in the mountains there are streaks of various shades including white, red, jet-black rocks. Likewise men, beasts and cattle have their different colors. In fact, only those among His servants who possess knowledge fear Allah. (Fatir 35:27-28)
When Professor James heard this verse, he immediately reacted, “What? Only the knowledgeable people fear God!!! Wonderful!!! Amazing!!! I have concluded it after a continuous study of 50 years. Who has told this to Muhammad? Does the Quran contain this? If it is fact then write my declaration that the Quran is a divine book. Muhammad was not formally educated. It was not possible for him to learn this reality without any education. No doubt, God has told him. Very amazing! Very interesting!!!
(Religion & the Challenge of Modern Knowledge by Waheed ud Din Khan)
We can get these results only after pondering into the universe. The Quran has invited everybody to think about it. Now consider another incident.
Intellect and deviation from the Right Path
Sir Charles Darwin (1808-1882) was the first Western scholar who presented the “Evolution Theory” of human creation. He says that about two billion years ago, moss was developed on a water body situated near the beach. In this moss, a movement was developed which was the first life on the planet. From this tiny cell, various forms of plants formed. Then animals formed from these plants and at the last stage, human being created from the progeny of a monkey.
We do not comment on the truth of Darwin Theory at this point. The point we want to emphasize is that due to this theory, Darwin who was a theist, became an atheist…. We conclude the following from the two events mentioned above:
- If the intellect follows the God’s revelation, it results in an extraordinarily strong faith in the Creator of this universe.
- If the intellect ignores the God’s revelation, it diverts a person from the right path.
From here, the relationship between the revelation and the intellect becomes clear. It is a ground reality that human intellect is limited whereas this universe is unlimited. It is not possible for the intellect to know the absolute realities of this universe. The intellect is like an eye whereas the revelation is the outer light in presence of which the intellect can finds its path.
The revelation is another name of Divine Knowledge and Wisdom. Who knows the universe better than its Creator? Therefore, the intellect, which will try to find its way without the light provided by the Creator, will always be diverted. The history of our so-called intellectuals proves this fact.
(Excertps from the “Aaina-e-Perveziat” of Abdul Rahman Kilani, Translation: Mubashir Nazir, Review: Mohammed Umar Khan)
Think about it!
- What is the lesson from the stories of Sir James Jeans and Charles Darwin?
- What role the intellect plays in becoming God-oriented?
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