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Islam: Knowledge or Ignorance?


If a person asks a question to oneself or someone else: “Are Muslims knowledgeable or ignorant?” then the most probable answer is “Muslims are ignorant.”

Muslims have “cognitive diabetes.” Metabolic diabetes is a result of unhealthy food choices, physical inactivity, lack of a nutritional plan, and absence of discipline. Similarly, “cognitive diabetes” is a result of unhealthy knowledge sources, intellectual inactivity, lack of a plan for cognitive development, and absence of academic discipline. Obese, overweight, inactive people are in the risk group for diabetes; non-writing, non-reading, non-thinking people are in the risk group for “cognitive diabetes.”

Diabetes can be cured in two ways: drugs and lifestyle change. In the same way, cognitive diabetes can be cured in two ways: “intellectual pills” and lifestyle change. Drugs make a person hostage, prisoner, and dependant on doctors and pharmaceutical companies. “Intellectual pills” make a person hostage, prisoner, and dependant on quasi-religious pseudo-scholars and corrupt social establishment.

Diabetes damages all internal organs and lowers the quality of life drastically.

Complications might include amputation. “Cognitive diabetes” is the same; the final result is amputation of reasoning abilities and becoming an intellectual amputee and cognitively disabled dependent on others.

According to the Theory of Knowledge (epistemology) course of International Baccalaureate, there are eight Ways of Knowing (WoK)[i]: (1) sense perception, (2) reason, (3) emotion, (4) faith, (5) imagination, (6) intuition, (7) memory, and (8) language. Also, there are eight Areas of Knowledge (AoK): (1) mathematics, (2) natural sciences, (3) human sciences, (4) history, (5) religious knowledge systems, (6) indigenous knowledge systems, (7) the arts, and (8) ethics.

Out of these eight ways of knowing, faith might be tentatively labelled as a revelation, and the remaining seven might be provisionally grouped as a reason. The interplay and tension between revelation and reason was the part of the history of Muslims; search for Mihna and Mutazila.[ii] I am not going to delve into the quicksand of history because I chose the priority of principles over precedents and persons.[iii] Therefore, I am going to propose three metaphors to reconcile, recombine, and revive reason and revelation.

First of all, let me ask myself a question: “Does Quran (revelation) give place to reason?” The answer is “Yes.” In verse: 5:43, reason and revelation are mentioned together, and reasons for both the asking party and answering part are mentioned. This means different reasons and various perspectives must be combined when interpreting revelation.

The first metaphor is the “legs” metaphor. For functional locomotion, people need two legs. Similarly, for functional thinking, people need both reason and revelation. The person, who refuses to use one of her legs, becomes lame and mostly dysfunctional. In the same way, the person, who voluntarily drops either reason or revelation, loses the opportunity to experience reality fully, in all colors, from different perspectives. The mere idea of the possibility of existence beyond the confines of space and time and above the prison walls of entropy expands and enhances the mind; it adds new dimensions and degrees of pleasure and excitement.

The second metaphor is the “car and key” metaphor. Life is a long journey, and birth and death are just two stations out of many. In this long journey, there is a need for transportation, and revelation is like a car. The car makes the journey easy, safe, and simple. However, a car does not work without a key, and the reason is the key. The simple act of putting the key in the car and turning it, or pushing a button, makes the car work. Without the key, the car is a useless pile of metal and plastics. Without a car, the key is a useless souvenir. Without combining key and car, the person ought to travel long, difficult, and dangerous journey.

The third metaphor is the “can and coin” metaphor.[iv] Firstly, we put the coin in the empty can so that we cannot see it. Here seeing ability is the reason, and it cannot penetrate the can. In order to be able to see the coin, we have to fill the can with water. Due to the refraction of light on the boundary of air and water, the direction of light rays changes, and coin can be seen (see diagram[v]).




Here water is the revelation, and seeing ability is the reason. Any device that uses refraction of light, namely, eyeglasses, microscopes, telescopes, periscopes, endoscopes, etc., enhances seeing ability; they allow the person to see very small and very large objects, distant and close objects, objects inside of something, etc. However, these tools do not replace seeing ability. In the same way, revelation enhances, extends, and expands reasoning ability, but revelation does not replace reasoning ability. Revelation is like a mental tool, similar to an endoscope, telescope, microscope, eyeglasses, etc.

These “legs, car and key, can and coin” metaphors explain the complementary relationship of reason and revelation. Complementary, not contradictory. In the metaphor of “legs,” reason and revelation are thought of as legs, and each person has a dominant side: either lefty or righty or ambidextrous. People do not choose and cannot choose the quality of being right-handed or southpaw; so, it is normal and natural when a person’s thinking is dominated either by reason or revelation. The problems start when one of them is abandoned and negated. I repeat it again: complementary, not contradictory relationship of reason and revelation.

The application of the complementary nature of reason and revelation might be shown by the interpretation of verse 5:51. There, two groups were mentioned: the first of them held political and military power, and the second group held informational and media power. These two groups used power and knowledge to oppress and manipulate other people during that particular historical period, and that was the reason to abandon their friendship and alliance.

This is what revelation tells us. Now, let us use reason and transfer this verse to our current reality. The two groups that use power and knowledge to subdue and silence Muslims; to oppress and manipulate people are politicians and religious scholars. That is why verse 5:51 in the current context should be read as: “O you who believe! Take not the Politicians and Religious Scholars for friends and allies. Some among them are friends and allies to some others. Whoever among you takes them for friends and allies will eventually become one of them.

Surely God does not guide such wrongdoers.”[vi]

This interpretation is valid because current Jews and Christians do not care about Muslims; they mind their own business. The vampire ones who are sucking out the blood and soul of Muslims are politicians and religious scholars. Politicians want to empty our pockets and wallets, and religious scholars want to empty our minds and hearts. That is why verse 5:51 should be read with the politicians and religious scholars in mind.

Verse 6:50 also shows dynamic equilibrium and organic balance between reason and revelation. The words “Unseen (ghayb)” and “revealed (yuha)” point to revelation, and the words “the seeing (basir)” and “reflect (yatafakkarun)” point to the reason.

The need for revelation might be understood by looking at the timeline of our existence.



In the absence of revelation, it is very difficult to reason out the situation of a person before birth and after death. Reason alone is too myopic and narrow, too materialistic and limited in these issues. Eschatology is strange and peculiar, and from science, we know that if we do not understand something, then it does not mean it does not exist. Lack of understanding does not prove absence.

Verse 6:29 voices the doubts about eschatology, and during the course of five-hundred- thousand-days since the revelation of the Quran, people were not able to provide and produce proofs about the absence and presence of eschatology by using reason alone. The best and closest effort to understand and illuminate eschatology was produced by Nursi in his Tenth Word.[vii]

The fourth metaphor explaining the relation of reason and revelation was provided by Nursi in the Second Point of the Twenty-Third Word.[viii] There, the reason is viewed as a torch in the hand of a person, and this torch is used to find the switch of the lighting system of revelation. The lighting system is useless if the person does not turn on the switch, and the torch is too dim to have value and functionality. The combination of torch and lighting system has value and functionality. Again, this metaphor shows the complementary nature of reason and revelation, not contradictory status.

As a conclusion to the relationship of reason and revelation, it can be said that reason plus revelation is equal to knowledge. Reason alone is equal to ignorance. Revelation alone is equal to ignorance. The primacy and priority of reason or revelation is a matter of individual and natural predisposition similar to being lefty, righty, or ambidextrous.

According to the Theory of Knowledge (epistemology) course of International Baccalaureate, there are eight Areas of Knowledge (AoK): (1) mathematics, (2) natural sciences,

(3) human sciences, (4) history, (5) religious knowledge systems, (6) indigenous knowledge systems, (7) the arts, and (8) ethics. Nursi mentions three sources of knowledge in the Nineteenth Word: Universe, Human, and Quran.

Mathematics and natural sciences can be grouped in the Universe group because they are descriptions of laws and patterns of space, time, matter, energy, and nature. Human sciences, history, indigenous knowledge systems, arts, and ethics can be grouped in the Human group because they are descriptions and products of human beings. Religious knowledge systems can be grouped in the Quran group because they go beyond human limits and above natural laws.

Most current Muslims are ignorant because they ignore all eight areas of knowledge.

Muslims are even ignorant of the Quran, the founding text of their faith. Muslims are absent in mathematics and natural sciences; Muslims have no idea of human sciences, history, indigenous knowledge systems, arts, and ethics. Why? Because Muslims ignored the first and the most important verses of the Quran (96:1-5). These verses started the intellectual and cultural Big Bang in the seventh century. These verses define Muslims as readers, writers, and thinkers. Alas, current Muslims are light-years away from being readers, writers, and thinkers. They turned their backs to Quran; Muslims “made this Quran something worthy of no attention. (25:30)” Woe to them! Woe to them! Woe to them!

Reading, writing, and thinking are the most powerful and pleasurable narcotics available to human beings. While chemical narcotics cut a person away from reality, dull senses and dumb intellect, reading, writing, and thinking connect the person to reality, heighten senses, and sharpen the intellect. Food, sex, and other sources of pleasure lose their shine and luster when compared to reading, writing, and thinking (96:1-5). Scientists and researchers do not do research for money; they do research and make inventions for the pleasure, excitement, and ecstasy provided by reading, writing, and thinking. Sufis and other mystics are just addicts who overdosed on narcotics of reading, writing, and thinking. Muslims rejected the pleasure and rapture of 96:1-5, and that is why currently they are major producers, retailers, and consumers of chemical narcotics. Woe to them! Woe to them! Woe to them!

Most current Muslims are ignorant and despicable. Their indifference to knowledge is ununderstandably faulty and flawed. On top of that, they think and view themselves as knowledgeable and intelligent; Muslims view themselves as monopolists of truth[ix], saviors and leaders of humanity, the last and the best society in the history of humankind, the only and exclusive dealers of Paradise… Woe to them! Woe to them! Woe to them!

Muslims are the first and the only enemies of Islam. If Muslims want, desire, dream, aim and plan to move away from ignorance to knowledge; then they have to take concrete steps instead of being intoxicated and blinded by the past.

There are four major areas in which Muslims are ignorant: (1) belief-iman, (2) ethics- akhlaq, (3) worship-ibadah, (4) critical reading of history-tarih. I propose a two-year (twenty- four months) course for adolescents and adults, both online and physically. Belief is going to be studied for six months, ethics – for six months, worship – for six months, critical reading of history – for six months.

The stage of belief consists of six sub-stages, and each sub-stage continues for one month:

(1) God, (2) Prophets, (3) Books, (4) Angels, (5) Destiny, (6) Afterlife. Each sub-stage is going to be understood and analyzed through the tripartite lens of natural, social, and religious sciences. This means belief in God is going to be examined by using the arguments of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, history, sociology, economics, exegesis, hermeneutics, Quran studies, Sunnah studies, etc.

Next, six sub-stages of ethics are going to be studied: (1) meta-ethics, (2) normative ethics, (3) applied ethics, (4) relationship (family, workplace, neighbour, social media, etc.) ethics,

(5) business ethics, (6) public sector ethics. The traditional sequence is belief-worship-ethics (iman-ibadah-akhlaq), but I change it to belief-ethics-worship because current Muslims are in very serious deficit and deficiency of ethics; most current Muslims are not ethical at all.

The third stage is worship, and it consists of six sub-stages: (1) testimony, (2) prayer, (3) charity, (4) fasting, (5) pilgrimage, (6) family planning and regulations (philosophy, principles, and practice of parenting). As mentioned before, sub-stages must be designed by using a three- dimensional perspective of natural, social, and religious sciences: psychology, physiology, anatomy, economics, sociology, nutritional science, family studies, Quran, Sunnah, etc.

The fourth stage is a critical reading of the history of Muslims: (1) Revelations: 610-632, (2) Caliphate and civil strife: 632-750, (3) Classical era: 750-1258, (4) pre-modern era: 1258-18th century, (5) modern era: 18th-20th century, (6) postmodern times: 20th century-present times. At this stage, Muslims have to develop a sober and rational outlook of history, not sentimental, nostalgic, and intoxicated. No sugarcoating. No turning blind eye. No whitewashing. No shameful and shaming silence. Muslims must face and confront their own history head-on; otherwise, history is going to continue stabbing Muslims in the back. The multidisciplinary approach, similar to David Christian’s Big History, must be employed.[x] The goal of this stage is to separate principles, precedents, and persons. History is going to be framed in a new way: not as an account of past precedents and deterministic script and scenario to be repeated and imitated over and over again, but history is going to be framed as a set of clear and cogent principles that serve as a springboard for better future.

In total, there are twenty-four months of study and research; each month is culminating in the capstone project, written assignment, and presentation. So, each individual is going to write twenty-four research papers. In the end, the certificate is going to be presented to the participants.

For each of twenty-four sub-stages, there has to be: (1) one month of study and research, (2) minimum of six-hundred pages of reading material, (3) 3000-4000 words written assignment with proper citations and bibliography, (4) a 10-minute individual or group presentation, (5) capstone project.

 


Capstone project’s aim is to propose an explicit and detailed solution to psychological, economic, ecological, sociological, etc. problems of the local community; capstone project’s meaning is to do something useful for the community, to invest in the social capital of mutual trust and understanding, to build sincere and strong connections and relationships between people, to break isolationist mentality, to transform the mindset of Muslims from being leaders to being servants, to acknowledge the organic and natural responsibilities and rights of all human beings.

All of these seem to be vain dreams and empty wishes; actually, they are vain dreams and empty wishes, yet. Yet. Future reality starts as present dreams. The cultural and intellectual Big Bang that happened half a million days ago started with five sentences only (96:1-5).

Family is the first and the greatest school. Parents are the first and the greatest teachers.

Concerned, conscious, and caring parents are going to design courses similar to the aforementioned course. Concerned, conscious, and caring young people are going to search for soul mates who completed such courses because ignorance is the first enemy of the family.

Concerned, conscious, and caring employers and employees alike are going to search for workers and bosses who graduated from such courses because they are ethical. This is the age of knowledge, and people who write research papers on a multitude of topics each month cannot be ignorant. Therefore, the emergence of such a course is not a matter of “if,” but it is a matter of “when.”

Somewhere and some five-hundred years ago, Muslims lost knowledge and zest of knowing. It is their duty and responsibility to start the quest for knowledge. Again. Anew. Afresh.

I chose, and I am choosing knowledge, not ignorance.

2:111 … Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful!”

25:30. And the Messenger says: “My Lord! Surely my people have made this Qur’an something worthy of no attention.”


-İman İsteyen Münafık

 

References

[i] Wikipedia, “Theory of Knowledge (IB Course),” in Wikipedia, March 18, 2021,

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Theory_of_knowledge_(IB_course)&oldid=1012797 179.

[ii] Wikipedia, “Mihna,” in Wikipedia, March 1, 2021,

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mihna&oldid=1009670889.

[iii] İman isteyen münafık, “Islam: Principles or Precedents?,” March 17, 2021,

https://www.munferit.net/2021/03/islam-principles-or-precedents.html.

[iv] igor30, Refraction Of Light in Water - Disappearing Coin Trick, 2012,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVxlHbIFje4.

[v] Mary Jones, Diane Fellowes-Freeman, and David Sang, Cambridge Checkpoint Science

Coursebook (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

[vi] Ali Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, n.d.,

www.mquran.org www.theholybook.org.

[vii] Said Bediuzzaman Nursi, The Words: On the Nature and Purposes of Man, Life, and All

Things, trans. Şükran Vahide, vol. 1, Risale-i Nur Collection, 2008, http://www.sozler.com.tr.

[viii] Nursi.

[ix] İman isteyen münafık, “The Monopoly of the Truth,” February 9, 2021,

https://www.munferit.net/2021/02/the-monopoly-of-truth.html.

[x] Wikipedia, “David Christian (Historian),” in Wikipedia, January 31, 2021,

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=David_Christian_(historian)&oldid=1003995090.


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