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Blind Faith December 28, 2009

Posted by Salim Boss in articles.
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“By doubting we come to inquiry; and through inquiry we perceive truth.”

~ Peter Abelard (1079 -1142). He was a French philosopher and theologian.

“Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.”

~ Robert King Merton (1910 – 2003). He was a distinguished American sociologist, one of the first sociologists elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the first American sociologist to be elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He was the first sociologist to be awarded the US National Medal of Science. Some of his books are Social Theory and Social Structure, On Theoretical Sociology, and On the Shoulders of Giants: The Post-Italianate Edition.

Some, if not most, of our habits (religious or otherwise) have been acquired from someone else. Not excluding culinary habits such as eating a full plate of rice with chopsticks, or slicing a sausage with a fork. Even, in times of horror/excitement, exclaiming, “Jesus” or “Allahu-Akbar” is a habit copied from someone else. In other words, we wouldn’t do what we do if someone else hadn’t done them. You are what you copy and others copy not only from human beings but also from animals, insects, jinns and the devil. You have also copied, “so what!”

Were Pope Benedict XVI born in Makkah, he would probably be facing the Kaabah (the black cubed-shaped building in Makkah) praying while reciting Qur’an from memory. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter Makkah or Madinah hence any Makkan/Medinan is by default born and raised Muslim. Had Osama Bin Laden been the son of George Bush senior, he would probably be a born-again Protestant Christian busy forming coalitions to fight terror. Mark Twain summarizes what I am trying to say in these words: “In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.” Therefore, one step to solve the puzzle of many religions is to objectively study these inherited religions. Those who preserve, protect and defend ignorance say “. . . we found our fathers following a certain religion, and we will certainly follow in their footsteps.” [Q43: 23]. In another Qur’anic verse, we are urged to ponder on the stupidity-scale of these fathers we inherit from: “And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?” [Q2:170]. We should really investigate our religions before accepting them. Those who refuse to exercise their brains choose to just have a blind faith. Mary Pettibone Poole (from A Glass Eye at a Keyhole, 1938) states: “To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it, requires brains.” And the Chinese have a proverb that says: “A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.” Therefore, it becomes a commendable act to pass our religions through a rationality filter before accepting them.

Despite being told that, “Truth stands out clear from Error” [Q 2:256], and despite the encouragement to “Test all things; hold fast what is good” [I Thessalonians 5:21] and not forgetting Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together. . .” and William Adam reminding us that, “faith is continuation of reason.” Even with, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” [1 John 4:1] Despite being given the instruction of wisdom by Solomon: “The simple believe everything, but the clever consider their steps.” [Proverbs 14:15] Even after being told by Elbert Hubbard that “the recipe for perpetual ignorance” is to “. . . be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.” Despite God’s announcement: “My servants, all of you are liable to err except one whom I guide on the right path, so seek right guidance from Me so that I should direct you to the right path.”[1] And despite being shown in Psalms 25:4-5 how to pray for guidance: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.” Despite the maxim of “search, and you will find” [Matthew 7:7] and the promise that “. . . everyone who searches finds . . . .” [Matthew 7:8]. What’s more, Charles E. Garman couldn’t be left behind but unleashed his advice: “Reason inspired by love of truth is the only eye with which man can see the spiritual heavens above us.” Despite being advised by Dr. Laurence Brown that “sincere seekers need a blanket of evidence to warm their convictions.”[2] Despite all these tips, we still adhere to blind faith. Are those who are smart equal to those who are ignorant? “It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.”[Q 39:9] Moreover, God is asking mankind to seek him, giving the promise that He shall answer them: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  [2 Chronicles 7:14]. Extrapolating from this verse, I see that we are supposed to:

1)   Humble ourselves before God

2)   Pray to God to show us the true religion

3)   Use our faculties to seek for the true religion

4)   Turn from our wicked ways and just embrace God’s True religion

We should never be confused by the words of Desmond Tutu: “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” Any brilliant person would figure out that the scripture is the basis of most, if not all religions. Hindus derive their creeds from Vedas, Christians from the Bible, Muslims from the Qur’an, and adherents of Capitalism /Democracy from the ‘We the People.’ That is why, for Christians, the best reference for Jesus is not The Washington Post, Hello Magazine, Cosmopolitan, National Geographic, Guinness Book of Records nor the encyclopedias but the Bible or more precisely the New Testament. Hence no amazement is encountered to hear Paul Scott stating, “Arguably, apart from the Gospel the church has little to offer the world.” The Muslims say the best reference is the Qur’an. But have we bothered to examine these scriptures handed over to us by the light-skinned people (Jews, Greeks, Arabs). “The key to wisdom is this — constant and frequent questioning . . . for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.” Maybe Peter Abelard’s intelligence was at work when he was uttering such a witty statement. Taking the Scriptures blindly is not a matter of faith, it is a crime against the brain and an insult to Faith. Why do you have the brain if you don’t use it here? Will Rogers would console me by saying: “You can’t legislate intelligence and common sense into people.”

We should admire the audacity of the doubting Thomas who couldn’t succumb to authority blindly but, like a scientist; he went further to verify the resurrection by feeling Jesus’ hands for the imprint of the nails. Jesus did not discourage objective analysis of events but facilitated: “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” [John 20:27]. If rooting out the problem is the best way of solving our problems, then can’t we reach the Bible/Qur’an and objectively examine it? If you are well-read in the Bible, you will be familiar with Jesus’ statement: “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did” [John 8:39]. But we fail to recognize that among the many things Abraham did not do was to wear a cross, pray while kneeling, believe in Trinity, worship in churches, blindly follow his father’s religion. . . . All the three renowned religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) revere and emulate Abraham, the friend of God. But the dilemmas which appear irresolvable are: Was Abraham a Jew, Christian or Muslim? Are the religions we blindly inherited from our parents the same religion practiced by the friend of God, Abraham? The part of the problem is solved by the Qur’anic verse: “And who turns away from the religion of Abraham except him who befools himself?” [Q2:130]. The other part of the solution, I strongly believe, has to do with the brain.

Notes


[1]. Muslim Bk. 32, No. 6246.

[2]. Brown, Laurence B. God’ed: The Case for Islam as the Completion of Revelation. USA: BookSurge Publishing, 2007. p.17.

………….

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