Appendix 1: Some Key Words and Concepts
There are certain key words or concepts found in the Quran that are important to the understanding of the scripture. In many cases these terms have been misunderstood. A list of these terms is provided below along with their Quranic meanings and implications.
Allah is the First Cause, the Eternal, the Benevolent, the Omniscient, and the Omnipotent Creator of the universe. Allah is the most repeated word in the Quran (2698 times in numbered verses). It is not a proper name, but rather a contraction of the definite article al (the) and Elah (god), meaning "the god" or simply God. It is etymologically related to Eli, the Aramaic word for God, still quoted in English translations of the Bible: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" (Matthew 27:46 ; Mark 15:34 ). The Quran contains about 114 attributes for God. The most frequently used attributes of God are, the All-Knowing (Alim), the Lord (Rabb), the Loving/Caring (Rahim), god (Elah), the Wise (Hakim), the Forgiving (Ghafur), the Honorable (Aziz), the Compassionate (Rahman), the Hearer (Sami), the Planner (Qadir), the Knower (Khabir), and the Seer (Basir).
Islam is not a proper name; it simply means submission and peacemaking. There are many aspects of being a Muslim or submitter to God. There are at least three spheres of divine law. Submitting oneself to those laws is the only way to attain peace and eternal happiness. These laws are:
- Natural Realm. Studying, discovering, acknowledging and submitting to the divine laws imposed in nature create worldly progress and prosperity. Ignoring and defying those laws bring disasters and discomfort.
- Social Realm. There are universal laws inherent in social structure and are learned through experience and through logical rules that dictate avoiding contradictions. The last six articles of the Ten Commandment can be learned from human experience. Societies that submit to the universal laws that justify communal life prosper socially and politically.
- Intellectual realm. This is only possible through an intellectual or philosophical decision to submit to the Creator, to attain knowledge and conviction about resurrection and the day of judgment. Intellectual submission to the truth completes submission and brings eternal happiness (For a detailed discussion on this topic, see the article titled "How Much Muslim Are You?" available at 19.org).
- Islam in the Quran. As we stated above, Islam is not a proper name, nor it is the religion founded by Muhammed as it is falsely claimed. Islam is the paradigm of all those who submit themselves peacefully to God alone. The Quran teaches us that all people acknowledging the truth were named by God with the word Submitters or Peacemakers (Muslims) (22:78). Islam is a descriptive name meaning submission and peace, or within the context of the Quran, peacefully surrendering self to God alone. Islam is a paradigm and a way of life that emphasizes personal freedom from all powers by accepting God alone as the only absolute authority. Thus, the only way of life acceptable by God is Islam (3:19). According to the Quran, all messengers, together with their supporters, were Muslims; they were peacemakers who submitted themselves to the will of God alone. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus and their followers were all described with the same word, Peaceful Submitters or Peaceful Surrenderers (Muslims) (10:72; 2:128; 10:84; 27:31; 5:111; 72:14). Since all messengers delivered the message in the language of their people, they described their submission to God, not using the Arabic word, "Islam" or "Muslim," but rather through their own languages (14:4). In fact, according to the Quran, with the exception of the minds of ingrates and mushriks, the entire universe, including the material bodies of rejecters, is Muslim, since every particle, atom, molecule, planet, star, light, galaxy in the universe submits perfectly to God's law (41:11). The shadows submit to God's law, even the shadows of the opponent's body (13:15). Everything in the universe has submitted to the God's system; submission to God in peace and peacemaking (Islam) is the law of the universe (3:83). İslam:
- is not a proper name, but a descriptive noun coming from the Arabic root of surrendering/submission/peace, used by God to describe the system delivered by all His messengers and prophets (5:111; 10:72; 98:5), which reached another stage with Abraham (4:125; 22:78).
- is peacefully surrendering to God alone (2:112; 4:125; 6:71; 22:34; 40:66).
- is a system with universal principles, which are in harmony with nature (3:83; 33:30; 35:43).
- requires objective evidence in addition to personal experience (3:86; 2:111; 21:24; 74:30).
- demands conviction not based on wishful thinking or feelings, but based on reason and evidence (17:36; 4:174; 8:42; 10:100; 11:17; 74:30).
- esteems knowledge, education, and learning (35:28; 4:162; 9:122; 22:54; 27:40; 29:44).
- promotes scientific inquiry regarding the evolution of humankind on earth (29:20).
- rejects clergymen and intermediaries between God and people (2:48; 9:31).
- condemns profiteering from religion (9:34; 2:41; 5:44; 9:9).
- stands for liberty, accountability, and defiance of false authorities. (6:164).
- stands for freedom of expression (2:256; 18:29; 10:99; 88:21).
- requires consultation and representation in public affairs (42:38; 5:12).
- promotes a democratic system where participation of all citizens is encouraged and facilitated (58:11).
- prohibits bribery, and requires strict rules against the influence of interest groups and corporations in government (2:188).
- requires election of officials based on qualifications and principles of justice (4:58).
- promises justice to everyone, regardless of their creed or ethnicity (5:8).
- acknowledges the rights of citizens to publicly petition against injustices committed by individuals or government (4:148).
- encourages the distribution of wealth, economic freedom and social welfare (2:215, 59:7).
- promotes utmost respect to individuals (5:32).
- relates the quality of a society to the quality of individuals comprising it (13:11).
- recognizes and protects an individual’s right to privacy (49:12).
- recognizes the right to the presumption of innocence and right to confront the accuser (49:12).
- provides protection for witnesses (2:282).
- does not hold innocent people responsible for the crimes of others (53:38).
- protects the right to personal property (2:85; 4:29; exception 24:29; 59:6).
- discourages a non-productive economy (2:275; 5:90; 3:130).
- encourages charity and caring for the poor (6:141; 7:156).
- unifies humanity by promoting gender and race equality (49:13).
- values women (3:195; 4:124; 16:97).
- values intellect (5:90).
- offers peace among nations (2:62; 2:135, 208).
- considers the entire world as belonging to God and supports immigration (4:97).
- promotes peace, while deterring the aggressive parties (60:8; 8:60).
- pursues the golden-plated brazen rule of equivalence, that is, retaliation with occasional forgiveness (42:20; 17:33).
- stands up for human rights and the oppressed (4:75).
- encourages competition in righteousness and morality (16:90).
- stands for peace, honesty, kindness, and deterring from wrong doing (3:110).
- expects high moral standards (25:63; 31:12; 23:1).
- asks us to be in harmony with nature and the environment (30:41).
- No wonder that the only system/law approved by God is Islam (3:19).
A person who peacefully submits or surrenders herself or himself to God alone is a Muslim. In other words, it is a person who has accepted God as the only authority for eternal salvation and tries his or her best to follow and respect divine laws elucidated in scripture and nature. With the exception of thoughts, prejudices and choices of ingrates and of those who associate partners to God, everything else in the universe is, in a sense, by definition a Muslim or submitter to God.
There is no ritual, ceremony, or magical word to become a Muslim. Anyone who seeks the truth with their God-given reasoning faculties and senses is in essence Muslim; Muslims are those who guard against the influence of peers, parents, clergymen, ancestors, crowds, dogmas, ideology, and wishful thinking in the quest to find answers to various philosophical or theological questions. A Muslim, by not submitting her or his mind to any authority besides God, is a model free person. Since God is the truth, a Muslim is a perpetual seeker of truth and facts, and in this quest none other than truth and facts can have authority over him or her. Thus, a Muslim is a critical thinker, a brave free man standing on his or her own feet, and demonstrates a reasonable dose of skepticism in regard to accepting assertions, especially those that are related to his or her eternal salvation.
Before going further, we should also define the meaning of "belief" or "faith" in the context of religion. The word "belief" or "faith" is one of the most abused and misused words among people who subscribe to a certain religion or creed. Organized religions use it as a euphemism for conjecture, wishful thinking, a wild guess, or, in most cases, for blindly joining the closest, the most crowded, or the loudest bandwagon.
This euphemism enables those who join the crowd for the sole purpose of comfort, or those who pick a religion based on psychological and purely subjective reasons to hide the really lousy character of their reasons for their religious belief, even from their own cognition. The euphemistic statement "I believe" gives them the illusion of a self-righteous comfort that they are blessed by God by their faith, that they somehow reached a particular faith not by their psychological need or petty self-interest of going along with the group, but by a mysterious divine grace. Packaging wishful thinking and introducing it as absolute or eternal truth is one of the most revolting and harmful frauds in human history. The price of this delusion is a sacrifice of the truth, and an inability to communicate based on reason. Masses have been manipulated, exploited politically, economically, and socially, and mobilized against each other by the gate-keepers of faith. History is full of examples of atrocities, unholy wars, and injustices done in the name of faith.
It may surprise many that Martin Luther, the founder of Protestan movement who was considered a progressive clergyman compared to the Pope, was a bigot. He invited his followers to give up their reasoning faculties and discard their brains:
"Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God." (Martin Luther, Last Sermon in Wittenberg, 17 January 1546.)
If you are the supplier or the client of absurd stories in the name of God, then of course you will have problem with God's greatest gift to you: your reasoning faculties. Marx hit the nail in the head by rejecting religions with his famous description: "opium of the masses."
Perhaps we have a hate-and-love relationship with truth. We are fed lies all the time, from fairy tales in cradles to religious stories in places of worship. Fiction books are the best-selling books. Actors, whose entire profession is based on faking other people, or nonexistent people, are treated like gods. A belief based on intellect, reason and empirical evidence is preferable, even if it is not reliable, to a belief based mainly on human emotions! An individual may be excused for an inability to find the best answer, but Spiritual reasons, more accurately "spiritual feelings" or "spiritual experiences," are leading millions of gullible people to justify numerous silly or absurd stories about God. Worse yet, these spiritual believers are deprived of their ability to discard their absurd beliefs when they are shown good reason or evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, the group that relies on logical, mathematical or scientific justification has more chance to see problems in their belief system and come closer to both truth and Truth.
So, as reformed Muslims, when we say "we believe," we believe as the concept is defined by the Quran, which can be translated to English more accurately as "acknowledgment." The Quran does not accept conjecture or the testimony of the majority, or hearsay as the basis of philosophical and theological quests for truth. Mumin is the one who acknowledges the truth and continuously seeks knowledge for a better understanding of reality. Here are some characteristics of those who acknowledge. They:
- Do not accept information on faith; critically evaluate it with their reason and senses (17:36)
- Ask the experts if they do not know (16:43)
- Use intelligence, reason and historical precedents to understand and carry out God’s commands (7:179; 8:22; 10:100; 12:111; 3:137)
- Do not dogmatically follow the status-quo and tradition; are open to new ideas (22:1; 26:5; 38:7)
- Are open-minded and promote freedom of expression; listen to all views and follow the best (39:18)
- Do not follow conjecture (10:36; 53:28)
- Study God’s creation in the heavens and land; explore the beginning of creation (2:164; 3:190; 29:20)
- Attain knowledge, since it is the most valuable thing in their appreciation of God (3:18; 13:13; 29:43)
- Are free individuals, do not follow crowds, and are not afraid of crowds (2:112; 5:54; 10:62; 39:36; 46:13)
- Do not follow the religion of your parents or your nation blindly (6:116; 12:103)
- Do not make profit from sharing God’s Message with others (6:90; 36:21; 26:109)
- Read in order to know, and they read critically (96:1; 55:1)
- Do not ignore divine revelation and signs (25:73)
- Do not miss the main point by indulging in small and inconsequential details (2:67; 5:101; 22:67)
- Hold their judgment if they do not have sufficient information; do not rush into siding with a position (20:114)
- Speak the truth; do not lie, although stratagem is allowed against adversaries (8:7; 25:72; 33:70; 12:70)
- Are kind and forgiving (42:40)
- Are active, dynamic, creative and courageous people (2:30; 4:75; 15:28)
- Are not egoistic and proud (25:43; 17:37)
- Are steadfast and humble (31:17)
- Are brave (33:23)
- Do not lose hope; are optimistic (12:87; 39:53)
- Walk humbly on earth and when harassed by ignorant people; they ignore the harrassers with dignity and respond them by saying "peace" (25:72: 29:63)
- Hold firmly to principles, but are flexible in methods (2:67, 142; 3:103; 5:54; 22:67)
- Are not proud of their accomplishments, and are not saddened by their losses (57:23)
- Seek unity not division; do not divide themselves due to jealousy (3:103; 6:159; 61:4; 42:14)
- Put moral considerations uppermost, but do not disregard their due material interests (28:77)
- Fulfill promises (17:34)
- Eat and drink moderately, and avoid intoxicants and gambling (7:31; 2:219)
- Dress decently (24:30)
- Do not ridicule or mock one another (49:11)
- Abstain from vain talk (23:4)
- Do not discriminate based on gender and race; they know that superiority is only through God-consciousness (49:13)
- Are loyal to what they have been entrusted and keep their pledges (23:9)
- Treat everyone with civility and give greetings to all (2:83; 28:55; 43:89; 4:86)
- Do not escape from problems, but rather actively focus on problems to solve them equitably, even if the solution requires a fight (49:9)
- Avoid suspicion, spying and backbiting among the monotheists; seek peace, since they are only brothers and sisters (49:9)
- Do not follow monarchs, princes, emirs, sultans, except when they are forced; obey those who are in charge among themselves, and when they dispute in any matter they refer it to God and the messenger (4:59)
- Are the party of God (58:22)
- Do not aggress, but defend themselves against aggression (7:33; 42:39)
- Serve God alone and do not associate partners in His authority (17:22)
- Dedicate themselves to God alone; they do not kill unjustly, and do not commit adultery (29:68)
- Believe in God and live righteously (2:62, 112)
- Love God, the Truth, more than anything else (5:54; 9:23)
- Do not fear mankind, but fear God (5:44; 33:37, 39)
- Maintain the contact prayers with God (23:10)
- Repent for their sins (25:70)
- Respect and honor their parents (17:23)
- Love their spouses and treat them with care and compassion (30:21)
- Give charities to relatives, the poor and destitute and towards public welfare (9:60; 17:26)
- Practice consultations to solve social and political problems (42:36)
- Act justly, do not commit evil and rule according to God’s laws, i.e. justice, truth and mercy (4:58, 135; 5:8; 7:28; 5:44)
- Do not turn their cheeks arrogantly from people, nor roam the earth insolently, since they know that God does not like the arrogant show offs (31:18; 57:23)
- Perform prayers and other rites of worship, without quarrelling over methodology, and they share their blessings with those who have less than they have (98:5; 22:67)
- Obey just leaders, respect, honor and support them, but they do not idolize them (4:59; 33:56; 9:30)
- Do not practice bribery and corruption (2:188)
- Do not practice usury, but they practice charity (2:275)
- Give charity in moderation (29:67)
- Are honest and fair in financial and economic dealings (6:152)
- Do not bear false witness (25:72)
- Are not extravagant and wasteful, nor are they stingy (17:26)
- Save lives and do not kill except in the cause of justice (17:33)
- Respond equally, but they know that forgiveness is the best route (2:179; 13:14; 45:14; 64:14)
- Do not devour the properties of orphans (17:34)
- Enter into marriage with those who acknowledge, do not marry polytheists, and they do not commit adultery (5:5; 23:6; 30:21; 17:32)
- Are not apathetic (5:79)
- Enjoin good and forbid evil (3:104)
- Hasten to do righteous work (3:114)
- Are active towards betterment (23:5)
- Support each other in the cause of God (8:74)
- Raise knowledgeable people in the society in order to learn the laws (9:122)
- Cooperate and help each other in good works; do not cooperate in evil works (5:2)
- Fight in the cause of justice and truth with their wealth and their lives (4:75; 9:111)
- Promote legal education (9:122)
- Persevere in any good effort and do not fear to face difficulties and hardships; success comes only after hardships (2:45, 177; 94:5)
- Fight for the rights of those who are oppressed (4:75)
- Seek peace (2:208; 4:90; 8:61; 2:208)
- Are progressive (15:24; 74:37)
- Reform themselves and are reformers (6:48; 7:35; 11:117; 12:101; 21:72)
(Thanks to Kassim Ahmad of Malaysia for his contribution in the compilation of this list.)
The Quran criticizes its opponents for not using their God-given reasoning faculties (Aql) (For instance, see 10:100). Belief in one God can be rational, and it should be rational. Rational Monotheism is not an oxymoron like "Square Circle" nor is it tasteless like "Garlic Strawberry Jam" as some might say, but is rather an idea that liberates the person from illusions and satisfies both the intellect and emotions.
We "know" something when we have direct experience of something. We "believe" something when we have circumstantial evidence testifying to its existence or its attributes. A deep analysis of these two concepts might demonstrate their merger or overlap. For instance, modern man claims that he knows that the earth is revolving around the sun. Most educated people express their belief in the Copernican model in terms of absolute truth. They "know" that the earth revolves around the sun. However, a little inquiry will show that many people are believers of scientific claims just as they are believers of religious claims. In his revolutionary book, The Copernican Revolution, Thomas Kuhn writes:
"The idea that the earth moves seems initially equally absurd. Our senses tell us all we know of motion, and they indicate no motion for the earth. Until it is reeducated, common sense tells us that, if the earth is in motion, then the air, clouds, birds, and other objects not attached to the earth must be left behind. A man jumping would descend to the earth far from the point where his leap began, for the earth would move beneath him while he was in the air...." (Thomas S. Kuhn, The Copernican Revolution; Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1985, pp. 43-44 )
It is true that without the concept of inertia and related experiments, we would rationally object to the idea of a moving earth. How could the cities, mountains, and valleys move and we not even feel their movement? Prof. Daniel Kolak, in his deliciously written book, Lovers of Wisdom, criticizes our tendency to accept scientific theories or claims without a thorough examination. We, it seems, have developed too much trust in science and scientists.
"Well, but let's think about it. Could we, if we wanted to and had all our technology at our disposal, go and see whether the sun goes around the earth or the earth goes around the sun? Of course, it would be silly and we'd be laughed at if we actually went to anyone, doubting what everybody obviously knows, and said we just want to see for ourselves. It would be like going to pull on Santa's beard in the department store to try and verify if that is really Santa. You'd have to be a little crazy to do it. So let's be a little crazy—even though we're all certain that the earth has been seen by somebody to move around the sun. Let's doubt the obvious; let's pretend we really are crazy enough to doubt what is so obviously true. How could we go to see the truth for ourselves? Science, after all, is based on experience. The empirical method will allow us to see that the earth goes around the sun, surely.
"We step outside and look up. What do we see? The sun rises, then sets. The moon rises, then sets. The stars move across the heaven. . . . so far, everything seems to be moving around the earth. Not very convincing for the sun-centered view! We had better go up in a spaceship . . .
"Now, inside our spaceship, looking down from our synchronous orbit, what do we see? Below us is the earth, with the Florida coastline visible beneath a layer of clouds. The earth is perfectly motionless. We look up. The sun, the moon, all planets, and all the stars are seen to move around the earth. . . We fire our thrusters and retrorockets and fly away until we are in a synchronous orbit around the sun (the air conditioning is very good). What do we see?
"Lo and behold, we now see the sun perfectly, still beneath us and all the planets and stars moving about the sun. Finally! Copernicus and Galileo vindicated! But hold on. We now fly to Mars. From our orbit around the Mars, what do we see? Earth, the other planets, the sun, and all the stars revolving around Mars. So Mars is at the center. No, wait . . what is going on?" (Lovers of Wisdom, Daniel Kolak, Wadsworth, 2001, pp. 210-211)
Well, motion depends on one’s reference point and there is no absolute vantage point in the universe to assess the "true" motions of all heavenly bodies. Then, why have we all come to an agreement on the sun-centered model? Is it because the Copernican model is mathematically artistic? Or is it because technology, the popular product of the scientific enterprise, has increased our faith in scientists and their theories and "facts"? Discussing this issue is beyond the scope of this article, but this example shows that the line between faith and knowledgement is not always as clear as it seems.
Another way to differentiate "belief" or "faith" from "knowledge" is to check whether the subject of faith or knowledge is examinable by others. A belief that is not subject to verification or falsification is personal and the holder of such a belief has no reasonable grounds to invite others to share his or her belief. Furthermore, "belief" might have many levels of strength. In our daily conversation, we occasionally use this word to mean "suppose" or "assume" or "suspect." Conversely, we might use the word "believe" to assert that something is true.
Any belief or action held based on a consistent reason, any consistent reason, is rational. According to this contextually self-evident definition, we can conceive of two types of rationality.(This categorization is not done after hours of reflection or research; it is the product of a quick analysis. Accordingly, treat it as a starting point, perhaps a not-well-articulated one, for a new approach to the topic).
Any idea or act justified by personal reasons or causes, which are not obvious or are not communicated to other rational beings, is subjectively rational. For instance, someone might hold his nose with his hand while talking. One might wonder about the sanity of that person. But, if that person just had a stubborn nose bleed before his lecture, his action might seem pretty rational by him and by those who are aware of his condition. A person who joins a cult that worships extraterrestrials (or a bloody cross that killed the hero) might also have personal reasons for this conventionally irrational belief. For instance, his girlfriend might be a member of the ET-worshipers cult, or membership to the cult will bring attention, even though a negative one, that he craves. Worshiping ET is subjectively rational if it is consistent with the purpose of the worshiper. Most believers of religious dogmas have undeclared rationalizations for their particular beliefs and practices. The more their beliefs and practices are consistent with their goals, the more subjectively rational they are. As long as a particular belief and practice serves the goal of a person, it is subjectively rational. A politician frequenting a church might be performing a rational act depending on the brand of church and its consistency with the politician's goal of getting more votes.
A particular belief or action will not be considered "subjectively rational" if the believer or the actor is either unaware of the reasons for those beliefs/actions at all, or if aware of such reasons, their beliefs and actions still yet do not serve their purpose. Imagine a person who is in love with a feminist girl trying to get her attention by boasting about his macho relationship with his former girlfriend. Or, think of a "madman" who, after trashing his clothes and shoes, walks on the street in the middle of winter, nude and barefoot. If we have sufficient reasons to believe that the nude man has no justifiable personal reasons for such an act, then we may conclude that such an act is irrational. However, we would be reaching this conclusion based on ignorance, which is not rational, that is, not consistent with our goal of learning the truth of the matter. There is most likely an external or internal reason triggering such an unconventional or "abnormal" behavior. Most likely, since we learn that the more we learn about the history and condition of apparently irrational people, we find compelling reasons for why they behave that way. Based on inductive reasoning, therefore, we hesitate to consider beliefs and actions irrational in an absolute sense, even if they appear to be extremely bizarre. Perhaps, we are justified to describe the action of the nude man as an irrational act if we see him sometimes nude and sometimes suited, and cannot find any reason for this oscillation. In other words, beliefs and actions that are random deserve to be called irrational. Again, someone who is a determinist like me cannot fathom the existence of randomness (Ironically, I hold two contradictory beliefs regarding free will. While on one hand, I cannot provide a rational explanation for freedom of will, I believe in the existence of freedom of will based on my rational belief in God and His proven word. This is another murky issue to ponder.).
As for an adult who is afraid of cockroaches (such as I), he might not know, let alone explain to others, any reason for such a fear. An objective observer too might not be able to justify the fear by a giant human being of a poor little insect. However, the reasons or causes of such an objectively irrational behavior might be buried in the hardware of his brain that was shaped during childhood or as a recessive gene through millions years of evolution. A child's dramatic experience with insects might have planted or triggered such a permanent alarm button in his brain.
In sum, our beliefs and acts have reasons. We call the products of unknown, but knowable reasons as subjectively rational. We may call the products of unknowable reasons as irrational.
Any belief or act that is consistent with objective reality or truth is objectively rational. For instance, not putting my hand in fire is usually objectively rational. However, to save a vital document from burning, I might still have a good reason to put my hand in the fire for a few seconds to save the document. The rationality of a belief or act depends on its consistency with our goal. If our goal is to build a house to raise a family, then stealing from the cement of the house is irrational, since it will contradict our purpose. If a criminal trying to escape at a speed of 90 miles per hour from a chasing police officer enters a turn that requires a maximum of 20 miles per hour speed limit, then, his escape might be considered objectively irrational. His purpose would contradict the laws of gravity and motion.
What about deism or theism as opposed to atheism or agnosticism? What about monotheism as opposed to polytheism? Before I venture to discuss this issue, you should know that I assume that we agree that happiness is the ultimate goal of rational beings. Furthermore, I assert that this is a self-evident fact.
In the case of belief or disbelief in God, the same principle of consistency or non-contradiction applies. If there is no God, an intelligent and eternal first cause, then atheism or more accurately agnosticism is an objectively rational position, provided that it makes the person happier. Similarly, belief in a fictional God may make a person happier, therefore making this belief rational. However, if there is a God, then rejection of such an entity might be rationally problematic, if such a God cares about the beliefs and actions of his creatures.
Let's reflect on those who claim to have faith in God. If their purpose is mere happiness in this world, they might attain happiness by that belief regardless of the merit in their reasons for such a belief. They might believe in God to conform to their family and peers or use such a belief like opium to escape from the harsh realities of life. Rationality of such a belief is evaluated according to its economic, social or psychological benefits to the person or society.
If the purpose of those who believe in the existence of God is to accept reality and attain eternal salvation, then the rationality of this position is contingent upon their method of reasoning and the consistency of their conclusion with objectively verifiable or falsifiable facts. I agree that a person who believes in a non-existing God with the hope of being resurrected by such an entity with eternal happiness, still might be considered rational, since he increased his hope and happiness in his only life. However, if there is a God who cares about the choice of his creatures, attaining unjustified beliefs about God may pose eternal risks. As for Pascal's Wager, it is a rational justification to believe in God, if only God were a Christian God (which denomination?) and rewarded gamblers.
Now, after this lengthy introduction, let me briefly explain why monotheism is a rational conviction. My belief in God started as a subjectively rational position, a mere imitation of the religious conviction of my parents; however, after a period of skepticism, questioning and reflection, it is now grounded on both subjective and objective rationalism. Though I rejected many of the religious beliefs of my parents, my trust in God has strengthened with time. I do not find it accurate to use the word "faith" or "belief" to describe my conviction about God. The Quranic word "iman" or the verb "amana" does not exactly correspond to English "faith" or "to believe," These words in the Quran do not mean conjecture or guesswork; to the contrary, they are used in contrast to conjecture and guesswork. The "iman" approved by the Quran is a conviction or conclusion that is substantiated by rational and empirical evidence.
We are created with innate information that allows us to communicate with God (30:30). This divine information is called Ruh (32:9) which can be accessed by using a logical/reasoning program called Aql. Our logic comes before the scripture or verbal revelation; in fact, our decision of whether a particular message is divine depends on our logic and reasoning. No wonder, the Quran never criticizes the act of reasoning or use of logic. To the contrary we are repeatedly encouraged to question assumptions and conventional teachings with our reasoning faculties. We evaluate each external datum and statement with this internal measure. To decide whether a particular person is right in his claim of messengership or a particular book is indeed a divine book as it claims, we use deductive and inductive reasoning. We can accept, reach and communicate with God without angels, prophets and scripture; but we cannot do so without using our reason. The messengers are merely reminders and mercy from God.
I have many reasons for believing that one God exists. Here are just some of the keywords for such a conviction: singularity, big bang, existence, the exact amount of energy in the universe, structure of an atom, fine tuned constants in the universe, natural laws governing evolution, consciousness, accuracy of Quranic verses about various sciences, code 19, and profound personal experiences.
Before his messengership, Abraham, as a young philosopher, reached the idea of the "greatest" by a series of hypothetical questions. His method of proving the existence of the creator of all things was both empirical and rational. He invited people to observe the heavenly bodies and afterwards deduce the existence of an absolute creator from their contingent characteristics (6:74).
"Such was our argument, with which we supported Abraham against his people..." (6:83)
Abraham, not only supported his monotheistic paradigm through rational arguments, he also falsified the claims of his opponents via rational arguments by breaking the little statues of his pagan people and sparing the biggest one. When the idol-worshipers inquired about the "disbeliever" who committed such a blasphemous act to their idols, Abraham stood up and pointed at the biggest statue:
"He said, 'It is that big one who did it. Go ask them, if they can speak.' They were taken aback, and said to themselves, 'Indeed, you have been wrong.' Yet, they reverted to their old ideas: 'You know full well that these cannot speak.' He said, 'Do you then worship besides God what possesses no power to benefit you or harm you? Shame on you and on whatever you worship besides God. Do you not understand?'" (21:63).
The Quran provides a rational argument for why God cannot have partners or equals. The argument is a logical one called Modus Tollens where the consequent is denied:
"Have they found gods on earth who can create? If there were in them other gods besides God, there would have been chaos. Glory is to God, the Lord with absolute authority. He is high above their claims." (21:21).
Thus, it is no wonder that the Quran invites us not to be gullible. We should not follow anything without sufficient knowledge, including belief in God.
"You shall not follow any information that you do not have knowledge about it. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them." (17:36).
Millions of Christians believe in the "Holy Trinity" on faith. Through this formula they transformed Jesus, the son of Mary, into the "Son of God," and even God himself. However, history, logic, arithmetic, the Old Testament, and the New Testament prove the contrary: Jesus was not Lord; he was a creation of God just like Adam was.
The doctrine of Trinity is found in many pagan religions. Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu are the Trinitarian godhead in Indian religions. In Egypt there was the triad of Osiris, Isis and Horus; in Babylon, Ishtar, Sin, Shamash; in Arabia, Al-Laat, Al-Uzza, and Manat. The Encyclopedia Britannica (1975) gives a critical piece of information:
"Trinity, the doctrine of God taught by Christians that asserts that God is one in essence but three in 'person,' Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the scheme in the Old Testament: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord'" (Deut. 6:4)
This information on the Trinity contradicts the faith of most Christians. They believe that Matthew 28:19 and John 1:1 and some other verses clearly provide a basis for the doctrine of Trinity. However, the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967 edition, Vol: 14, p. 306) acknowledges that the Trinity doctrine does not exist in the Old Testament, and that it was formulated three centuries after Jesus. The Athanasian Creed formulated a polytheistic doctrine with the following words: "We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance (Prayer Book, 1662). The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God." It is unanimously accepted that the doctrine of Trinity is the product of the Nicene Conference (325 C.E.).
Questions such as, "How could the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be totally different and yet participate in the one undivided nature of God?" have given Christian scholars a hard time for centuries. To explain the nature of the Trinity, they have written volumes of books full of interpretations and speculations ending up with a divine paradox, or a divine mystery, amounting to no more than holy gobbledygook. So, it would not be worthwhile to question the meaning of the Trinity further as the answer, ultimately, will be that it is a divine mystery which cannot be understood. Instead, we will question the compatibility of the doctrine with the Bible.
Trinity is not taught in any of the thirty nine books of the Old Testament. Neither do Noah, Abraham, Moses, David etc. mention the Trinity. To the contrary, they emphasized God's oneness (Deuteronomy 4:39 ; 6:4; 32:39. Exodus 20: 2-3. 1 Samuel 2:2 . 1 Kings 8:60 , Isaiah 42:8 ; 45:5).
The concept of the Trinity was fabricated within several centuries through gradual distortion and gradual exaggeration of the powers of the hero. Initially, there were many Christian communities rejecting the idea of deity of Jesus, such as the Ebionites, but ultimately, the followers of St. Paul won the victory against the true supporters of Jesus, and they used force, occasionally in a very cruel way, to impose their authority.
The Bible contains many verses rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity. For instance, according to the Bible, we are all children of God, thereby contradicting the idea that Jesus was the only son (Matthew 5:9 ; 6:14, Luke 20:36 ; John 8:47 , 1 John 5:18,19 ). According to the Bible, Jesus rebukes someone calling him "Good," by asking him rhetorically, "Why do you call me good?" and then answering the question, "Only God is truly good!" (Mark 10:18-19 ). Furthermore, in response to those who asked about the time of the end of the world, Jesus rejected the concept of the Trinity, which equates God to Jesus: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels/controllers in heaven, nor I myself, but, only the Father" (Mark 13:32 ). If Jesus were Lord, as St. Paul's followers assert, how could he not know the future? If Jesus were kept out of the loop in order to play his role, then he could not have been equal to God as the doctrine of Trinity asserts. Many verses in the Gospel reject the concept of deity of Jesus and promote strict monotheism. "Jesus replied, 'The one that says, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only God. And you must love him with all your heart and soul and mind and strengths'" (Mark 12:29 ). Also see, 4:10; 6:24, Mark 10:18 , Luke 18:19 .
Another verse quoting the Old Testament depicts Jesus as a Servant of God (Matthew 12:17-18 ). Isn't there a difference between a Servant of God and God? The polytheist Christians will find it very difficult to answer this simple question and they will seek refuge in their dark cave called "mystery." They will do anything to continue their belief in the fabricated doctrine of the "Pharisee son of Pharisee" as their prime holy teaching (Matthew 16:11-12 ; 23:13; Luke 12:1-2 ; Acts 23:6 ). Jesus, according to the Gospels, was a "messenger of God" (Matthew 21:11,46 ; Luke 7:16 ; 24:19; John 4:19 ; 6:14); yet to Jesus-worshiping polytheists there is not much difference between the "messenger of God" and "God." If you bring them a dictionary and demand some rational justification, you will hit the wall of "mystery." Biblical words do not have much meaning, or they mutate and transform in many incredible ways in St. Paul's Wonderland. Whether Jesus saw God or not, might be another important question in refuting Trinity, but verse John 1:18 provides two contradictory answers in two different versions.
The Trinity is not a logical or rational theory by its very absurdity (1=1+1+1) and therefore non-falsifiable. One may find hundreds of Biblical verses rejecting the deity of Jesus and still unable to convince a Christian inflicted with this virus. The doctrine is based on revering and consecrating a clear logical contradiction: a being who was a creature, a human being, and at the same time a non-human creator! It ignores the fact that nothing can be both a man and a God. According to the very definition of the words "man" and "God," God is not created, but man is created; the non created cannot be at the same time created. God is eternal, but man is mortal; the eternal cannot be mortal. So on and so forth.
Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity is a virus that attacks and destroys the immunity system of the brain first. A person who received such a virus "on faith," by blindly following the teaching of a particular church or the proximate crowd, will not be healed by rules of logic, mathematics, history, archeological findings, scientific evidence, by nothing. The creator of this virus empowered it with ability to mutate, since he boasted to his "flock" that to win as many possible he becomes everything, anything, and all things to all man just to win them (1 Corinthians 9:20-22 ):
"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8-9 ).
No wonder, the idol-carver Pharisee-son-of-a-Pharisee has plenty of contempt for those who reason, and wrote the best praise for foolishness and packaged them as part of the "gospel" with an immune system against reason, evidence, and even God's angels. Tertullian, the one who gave birth to the doctrine of the Christian Trinity, wrote one of the fanciest defenses for dogmatism, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. He tried to banish reason by a lousy reasoning:
"These are human and demonic doctrines, engendered for itching ears by the ingenuity of that worldly wisdom which the Lord called foolishness, choosing the foolish things of the world to put philosophy to shame. For worldly wisdom culminates in philosophy with its rash interpretation of God's nature and purpose. It is philosophy that supplies the heresies with their equipment… After Jesus Christ we have no need of speculation, after the Gospel no need of research. When we come to believe, we have no desire to believe anything else; for we begin by believing that there is nothing else which we have to believe." (The Prescriptions Against the Heretics).
Ironically, a handful verses are abused to justify the Trinity, and ALL of them are questionable. For instance, many Christian scholars acknowledge that the crucial word "begotten" in John 1:14,18 and 3:16 does not exist in the original manuscripts. Why, is the phrase "son of God" changed into "the only begotten Son of God"?
Islamic Reform is not the same as Reform in Islam; they are two different things. The former does not imply there is anything wrong with Islam, but the latter does. Since, we believe/know that the teaching of Islam is available in its pristine form in the Quran, and since we believe/know that the Quran is God's infallible and protected word (the Final Testament), we cannot suggest reform in Islam. (If we carelessly use the expression “Reform in Islam,” obviously we mean reform in the distorted version of Islam.) Such a suggestion would be ignorance and clear blasphemy. However, a great majority of those who call themselves Muslims by qualifying the word Muslim with Sunni, Shiite or any other name of a sect, order, or cult, are far away from the original message of Muhammed, which is no different than the message of previous messengers. Creation of sects was the consequence of betraying the teaching of the Quran and was originally a heresy (6:159; 30:32). They have doomed themselves to a man-made religion that sanctifies medieval Arab culture and practices in the name of God and prophet. Therefore, we promote Islamic reformation in Muslim societies by inviting them to dedicate their religion to God alone by upholding the Quran alone as the only source of their religion. We will explain this paradigm-changing invitation later.
What do we mean by REFORM? Those who have been Arabized, rather than Islamized, have developed an allergy to other non-Arabic languages, which are considered God's blessing by God's own words (30:21). For instance, they demand converts to change their beautiful native names into Arabic ones, which has nothing to do with the teaching of the Quran. Ironically, the practice was advised neither in their fabricated hadith nor in their sunna liturgy. Somehow they are not allergic to the Arabic word for reform, which is islah. They have even embraced an Arabic word which has unacceptable theological implications, "tajdeed of islam," that is, renewal of Islam! So, if we promote "Islamic Islah" or "Islamic Tajdeed" instead of "Islamic reform," they would not reject with prejudice. But, the English translation of the Arabic words such as submission (Islam) or reform (islah) solicits immediate negative reaction from them. This might be due to the association of the word in the history of Christianity. But, the Arabic word too has many negative connotations in the history of "Muslim World." Besides, the reform movement against the Catholic church had raised many good points, which were in harmony with the teaching of the Quran, if not inspired by it. Their allergy to the "reform" might be due to its use in Christendom. Well, the reformation movement against Catholicism contained many good ideas promoted by Islam, such as rejection of intercession and selling of indulgences, etc. Regardless, the derivatives of the root SaLaHa (reform) is mentioned in the Quran 180 times, and in only one case is it used in a negative context. Sunni and Shiite mushriks have abandoned the Quran and have inflicted various disasters upon themselves.
The modern Islamic reform movement that we have been active participants of started in early 1974 and it has nothing to do with the political agenda of USA-Inc. and its neocolonialist foreign policies, which is based on the interests of major corporations. Many monotheist reformers have been the subject of persecution by reactionary governments backed by US-Inc., such as the Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt. It is only recently, after the 9/11 attack, that the US government is expressing support for political reform in the Middle Eastern countries, and we have yet to see whether it is another pretext to plant a mutated version of puppet regimes, or an honest realization of how imperative freedom and democracy is in a global community. Only time will tell.