Short Answer: Islam never said that people should stop asking questions or avoid research. It always says that people should use their minds to realize the existence of God. Islam was always for knowledge, reflection and asking more questions so long as these whys are for the purpose of gaining knowledge, getting closer to the truth and the Absolute Truth, Almighty Allah.
Salam (Peace) Dear José,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
Actually I received your question with a big smile because it is really a nice question that suits a PhD student.
I am accustomed to the academics and their style of questions that tend to the nature of research and the like.
Is Islam Against Critical Thinking?
Now, to your question which specifically can be briefed as follows:
Does the Quran object to thinking and asking questions?
Is Islam against thinking and asking?
The answer is absolutely: No!
Islam was and still is the religion that never put hindrances in the face of the people of knowledge, whether they were students or scholars. Rather, Islam encourages research and investigation.
The Quran is full of so many verses calling upon people to make up their minds and explore the universe and its beauties.
Islam never said that people should stop asking questions or avoid research. It always says that people should use their minds to realize the existence of God.
People are to use the faculties given to them by Allah to think and contemplate upon the heavens and the earth, the remains of the previous nations, the creation around them and see how beautiful all creation is.
This is also to realize how great are the favors of Allah and to know that He is the sole Creator of the whole universe.
Yes! Ask Questions!
Islam never says: “no” to “whys”. It rather teaches us to ask and never leave our minds idle and lazy.
It blames those who never use their intellects or those who are silent. Almighty Allah says in the Quran what means:
Already have We urged unto hell many of the jinn and humankind, having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle nay, but they are worse! These are the neglectful. (Quran 7:179)
In so many other verses of the Quran people are encouraged to ask the people of knowledge. Almighty Allah says what means:
…Ask the followers of the remembrance if ye know not! (Quran 16:43)
The Quran also reads what means:
Lo! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to men, and the water which Allah sendeth down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and [in] the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between heaven and earth: are signs [of Allah’s sovereignty] for people who have sense. (Quran 2:164)
In another verse the Quran also reads what means:
The similitude of the life of the world is only as water which We send down from the sky, then the earth’s growth of that which men and cattle eat mingleth with it till, when the earth hath taken on its ornaments and is embellished, and its people deem that they are masters of it, Our commandment cometh by night or by day and we make it as reaped corn as if it had not flourished yesterday. Thus do We expound the revelations for people who reflect. (Quran 10:24)
The Quran tells us about a very interesting story about the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who questioned for an eye witness of the process of quickening the dead.
Almighty Allah never punished him for such a request. The Quran narrates the story in what means:
And when Abraham said [unto his Lord]: “My Lord! Show me how Thou givest life to the dead.” He said: “Dost thou not believe?” Abraham said: “Yea, but [I ask] in order that my heart may be at ease.” [His Lord] said: “Take four of the birds and cause them to incline unto thee, then place a part of them on each hill, then call them, they will come to thee in haste. And know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Quran 2:260)
Remember: Allah is Infinite. Our Minds are Finite
However, the Quran also teaches us that we, being humans, have limited perceptions.
We do not have an explanation for everything.
Thus, we need to turn to Allah for guidance and turn to the learned people who have better knowledge to give us explanation.
This knowledge, which we and they have, is still nothing compared to the infinite knowledge of Allah.
Thus, all of us should turn to Him with our questions and attribute any scientific discovery to His grace, because it is Him Who blessed us with this intellect.
We have never heard in the history of Islam of any inquisition held for the scholars or scientists. On the contrary, the scholars and inventors were given great respect under the rule of Islam and were placed in high position.
We have never heard of someone like Galileo being subject to inquisition because of his discoveries or scientific views.
Islam was always for knowledge, reflection and asking more questions so long as these whys are for the purpose of gaining knowledge, getting closer to the truth and the Absolute Truth, Almighty Allah.
May Allah grant us knowledge and bring us all closer to Him.
Thank you again for your question and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)