Is Islam a Logical Religion?

21 August, 2016
Q How is it reasonable to believe a religion founded on the word of one man? A man who said he thought he was either possessed or going insane after his cave visit with an angel. Please tell me what is so compelling about a man who claims to have heard an angel speak to him while he was alone in a cave? Why is everybody supposed to just take his word for it? And is Islam really a logical religion that respects the human intellect?

Answer

Salam (Peace) Dear Robin,

Thank you for your question which is interesting and challenging at the same time.

It seems that the many anti-Islam campaigns that are widespread these days have succeeded in igniting public sentiments against Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Islam is always associated with the name Muhammad as its founder. However, Muhammad is just one prophet in a long chain of prophets who came with the same Message from God, starting with Prophet Adam down to Prophet Jesus before the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

This Message was given different names, but the core remained the same, i.e. to acknowledge God’s monotheism, tawhid. Therefore, Prophet Muhammad was no more than a carrier of the message of Islam to his people.

Muslims are called so because they follow Islam, the religion, not Muhammad the carrier of the Message. If Muslims follow Muhammad, they would be called Muhammadans, which is not the case.

God sent Prophets to return people to the truth of monotheism which people abandoned and started to worship idols of their own invention. When people corrupted the divine religion, God sent a new prophet to correct it. The last of these true religions is the religion of Islam.

Why Follow the Word of One Man?

This takes us to the point of why to follow the word of one man. This man was well-prepared to receive God’s message. It was not delivered to him over a night or so. The upbringing of this man was very unique, and from a young age he rejected worshiping idols for it being a departure from the original religion of monotheism.

The first aspect of receiving the divine message started with seeing visions which later came true as confirmed by Aisha, the Prophet’s wife. At a later stage, Muhammad used to stay for several days at the cave of Hira’ where he spent these days in contemplation and worship. He was sure that there is a force of truth beyond this universe.

When the moment had to come, Angel Gabriel visited the Prophet in the cave and conveyed God’s first words to him. For those who believe in heavenly religions, it is normal that God sends His revelation through angels. We read in the Quran what means:

{We have sent revelation to you [Prophet] as We did to Noah and the prophets after him, to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon– to David We gave the book [of Psalms]– to other messengers We have already mentioned to you, and also to some We have not. To Moses God spoke directly.} (An-Nisa’ 4:163-165)

Therefore, there is no room for the Prophet’s being “possessed” as he is not different from previous prophets who received the divine message through the same means of communication.

What he experienced is just fear. He went home and asked his wife, Khadijah, to wrap him. Seeing her husband trembling, she assured him: “There is nothing to fear as God will not let you suffer humiliation, because you are kind to your relatives, you speak the truth, you assist anyone in need, you are hospitable to your guest and you help in every just cause.”

These are the criteria of entrusting Muhammad to convey God’s message. Though he did not practice the idol worship of his people, he was known for his honesty and they called him the “trusted one.”

Prophet Muhammad’s message is about believing in God alone and his life is about morality. He is reported to have said: “I was sent to perfect good manners.” God describes him in the following word:

{We have not sent you but a mercy to the worlds.} (Al-Anbiya’ 21:107)

Again, there is also no room for the involvement of Satan in the revelation process. This is because the Quran, which Muslims believe is the word of God, teaches the worship of God alone through obeying Him and disobeying Satan and evil desires.

Now, the question that arises is why Islam as a religion?

What is unique about it?

Islam came to confirm the beliefs and practices that were in harmony with the Quranic teachings. Islam changed only the odd practices that were against the pure nature of humankind.

The coming of Prophet Muhammad was prophesized in the previous scriptures. This is textual evidence that is always quoted in support of the truth of Islam. You may wish to check for example the following answers:

Was Prophet Muhammad Mentioned in The Bible?

 

References to Muhammad in The Torah

Modern science confirms the truth of Islam as the Quran speaks about different scientific facts which have been discovered recently.

There are no myths in Islam. Islam is very simple to embrace in our daily life.

The list of the merits of Islam is very long, but it suffices here to focus on one important issue you mentioned in your question which is that of Islam’s stance on the human intellect.

Islam & The Human Intellect

Islam places the human intellect in a very high status, because the intellect is what helps us think, meditate, reflect, ponder, etc. In Islam, Muslims are held accountable because they have the faculty of reason. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“The pen is lifted from three people: the sleeper until he awakens, the child until he reaches the age of discernment, and the insane until he is able to reason.” (At-Tirmidhi)

We read in the Quran:

{…Always be mindful of me, you have understanding.} (Al-Baqarah 2:197)

{There is a lesson in the stories of such people for those who understand.} (Yusuf 12:111)

{We left some [of the town] there as a clear sign for those who use their reason.} (Al-`Ankabut 29:35)

All these verses demonstrate how Islam views the human intellect and considers it a point of reference for several situations.

To protect the faculty of reason, Islam forbids consuming alcohol and narcotics.

However, it should be noted that the human intellect has limitations. There are certain things that go beyond the capacity of the human intellect. For understanding such issues, Islam gives space to divine revelation to spare the human intellect any effort that might lead it astray.

Muslims believe that after death people will be questioned in the grave. The details of what happens after death are given in the Quran and the Sunnah (Prophetic traditions).

Understanding the nature of this questioning goes beyond our human intellect. It is the same as believing in scientific phenomena though we do not comprehend the actual nature of these phenomena. Here comes the balance that Islam strikes between reason and revelation.

To sum up, in clarifying Islam’s stance on the above mentioned issues we believe that gaining the respect of non-Muslims is as important as converting them to Islam.

I hope this answers your queries.

Thank you again for your questions, and please keep in touch.

Salam.

About Dr. Mohsen Haredy
Dr. Mohsen Haredy holds a PhD in Hadith literature from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is the former Executive Manager and Editor-in-Chief of E-Da`wah Committee in Kuwait, and a contributing writer and counselor of Reading Islam. He graduated from Al-Azhar University and earned his MA in Hadith literature from Leiden University.