Some Comments on Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”

Richard Dawkins is arguably the most celebrated atheist of our times. His book “The God Delusion” has turned out to be a best seller. It is a very forceful presentation of the case of his ideology. I am reading it these days with great interest because my ideology based on the Qur’an encourages me to read everything that claims to be the truth with an open mind. I must say that I am really impressed by the book. I have also to say, however, that, contrary to the wish of the author that the reader gets converted to his faith at the end of the reading, it has done little to take me away from my faith in God. I would like to mention my brief comments on four points the author has raised in the book. I am sure that he has addressed many other significant issues as well which believers in God must seriously think about. But for the time being four of them should suffice for a starter. Two of them are the ones on which I agree with him and on the two others I disagree.

He states in his book that religious personalities and ideologies shouldn’t be immune from criticism in a way that if a negative mention about them is made, the critics are accused of blasphemy. I quite agree with him. Hearing negative things about one’s revered personalities is a painful experience. But if those personalities are presented as truths to be embraced by all, they should be exposed for the scrutiny of those who haven’t accepted them as yet. My understanding, contrary to the popular view, is that there isn’t any punishment of blasphemy in Islam. The Qur’an desires from the believer that he should simply ignore the statements of blasphemy and be patient. In case if criticism on one’s faith deserves to be responded to, the response should be made in a polite and intelligent manner. One should also see with an open mind in the light of the criticism if the reverence attached to one’s faith was justified or not. Faith deserves the support of emotions only after it has passed the test of the intellect.

He raises another relevant point: Most religious people lay too much emphasis on the ultimate conclusion of faith rather than the process that leads to it. He asks: Why should a believer get the credit for believing in God when he has not done anything significant to get to it or has in fact, at times, acted immorally in preserving it by not even considering the other alternatives? And why should a non-believer get discredited for not believing in Him when his disbelief is the result of an honest effort which led him to wrong conclusions? One can scarcely disagree with his criticism of the conventional religious understanding on this issue. My understanding of the Qur’anic stance on this question is that accountability is going to be based on these principles: God is absolutely fair; He is fully aware of everything; and He will make people accountable to the extent of their potential only. The Qur’an says: “Indeed those who believe and do good deeds – We shall not hold any soul accountable for anything beyond its potential – such will be the people of paradise …” (Qur’an; 7: 42)

Dawkins claims that there could be three explanations for the existence of our world: chance happening, intelligent design, and natural selection. He strongly contends that while the first two theories are highly improbable, the only theory which appears highly probable is that of natural selection, which almost rules out the possibility of God as an explanation of how this world came about. What puzzles me is not quite as much the claim of the superiority of one possibility over the other two but the fact that the third possibility is being employed to prove the case for atheism. What if God Himself mentions in His book that the process He adopted for creating this world was that of natural selection? I find no conflict between the theory of natural selection and the faith that God created this world not all of a sudden and haphazardly but gradually through a very long process of evolution which was based on the phenomenon of natural selection. When I read the Qur’an I find the book saying just that. The questions that have been raised to prove the lack of involvement of God in the process are absurd and based on the naïve presentation of creationists’ views on how God created this world. Once one realizes that God is much more intelligent and capable than the imagination of both creationists and atheists put together, it wouldn’t be a problem to accept the proposition of a God-created world that came about gradually through the process of natural selection.

Another important remark of the author in the book is that if God was interested in being recognized, He should have made His existence clear enough for intelligent humans to know Him. How can He blame us for not accepting Him when He himself did not leave enough evidence for belief? Had the author understood God’s scheme for this life he wouldn’t have raised this question. God has left a natural urge in humans to know the truth. He has left it at their discretion to struggle earnestly to know what the correct answers are. If humans do enough, they get it, otherwise they don’t. The principle is true for all issues of morality. Accepting God is also a moral issue more than it is an intellectual one. Had it been simply an intellectual matter, it wouldn’t have been a trial for the idiots. The question of God is a test of morality for both intelligent and the less intelligent. Had God appeared as clearly as the sun does, it wouldn’t have been a trial of morality. At best, it would have been a test for the eyes. Now that He hasn’t made Himself physically or scientifically quite as manifest as some other realities, he has wanted it to be more testing for the morality of the individual to acknowledge Him or not. Many moral (or immoral) obstacles prevent people from looking for God. Sometimes very intelligent people form such strong opinions against Him at some stage in their lives that they wouldn’t like to probe enough to know Him even when evidence begins to promise that He exists in the later stages. Dawkins mentions some tests that were conducted to see if prayers were actually heard for the patients and concludes that the tests showed negative correlation between prayers and the betterment of the patients who were prayed for. The mention of such a test is evidence in itself of the fact that he doesn’t realize that God’s existence cannot be proved or disproved through the ordinary ways of proving realities. Trying to find the existence of God through such tests is as silly an idea as to prove whether a patient was suffering from from typhoid through a test that was meant for diagnosing malaria.

We have been created; someone must have created us; the question “who created the creator” comes to our mind, but there were quite reasonable answers to this question as well. We are being provided with many things on which our existence depends; we must look for the source that is being so unfailingly kind to us; clearly one of the answers could be that it was all happening on its own, like a fluke event; and the fluke happening continues regularly. But we must look for better answers. We do have a sense of morality which is surprisingly shared by the entire humanity. It could also be coincidental. But another answer seems to make more sense: It is there in all of us because we have all emerged from one source, and therefore it is not surprising that that source injected it into all of us. We pray to God for ourselves and we are dead sure that the prayers get responded in ways which couldn’t have been coincidental. It doesn’t happen once or twice; it happens many times to us.

On knowing all the above-stated realities do our atheist brothers look for the correct answers in the right earnestness? If they do and yet find themselves not believing in God, I can assure them that He – the author of the Qur’an – will spare them from being punished. But He will take the decision on their fate only after He has gone through the record of their entire lives, their intentions, their attitudes, and the manner they investigated to get the right answers to the morally significant questions that bugged them. The believers in God will go through a similar scrutiny.

24 thoughts on “Some Comments on Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”

  1. Azad

    Khalid Sb Assalam o Alaikum,

    What great inconsistencies in your own writing and beliefs…there are many examples that one can quote from your own works. Now we’ll just analyse your statements in two paragraphs of this article itself.

    Firstl one is from your third paragraph:

    “And why should a non-believer get discredited for not believing in Him when his disbelief is the result of an honest effort which led him to wrong conclusions?”

    And now this is from your fifth paragraph.

    “God has left a natural urge in humans to know the truth. He has left it at their discretion to struggle earnestly to know what the correct answers are. If humans do enough, they get it, otherwise they don’t.”

    Now anyone can see what happens when some one has opinions just based on their understanding of Quran and Sunnah and this can lead to many other wrong conclusions that can be really dangerous of our faith.

    May Allah swt guide us all and save us from hell fire.

    Wassalam.

  2. Azad

    To complete my comment…

    The first statement that is (according to you) made by Dawkins and then you say that you agree to this and other points raised, and then you go on to say…

    “My understanding of the Qur’anic stance on this question is that accountability is going to be based on these principles: God is absolutely fair; He is fully aware of everything; and He will make people accountable to the extent of their potential only.”

    So which means that there will be people who did their best but couldn’t find the truth and thus ended up being non believers. But, then after few statements you contradict your own statement by stating your view in the fifth paragraph that I have quoted in my last comment.

    Finally, according to you, in the final decision made by Allah swt faith will not play the pivotal role as understood my the ummah then I would like to ask: why Allah swt sent so many Prophets and why these Prophets sacrificed every thing in their life to spread their message: many of them and their closest followers laid their lives to spread the message.

    These things will look very contradictory to any one who gives these statements due thought.

  3. Imran Faruqui

    Assalamu ‘alaykum Dr. Zaheer,

    With regards to your statement:

    “I find no conflict between the theory of natural selection and the faith that God created this world not all of a sudden and haphazardly but gradually through a very long process of evolution which was based on the phenomenon of natural selection. When I read the Qur’an I find the book saying just that.”

    I do not believe the Qur’an specifically supports evolutionary theory per se. However, there are some verses which can be interpreted to suggest a process occurred. Consider the following verses:

    7:54 (Y. Ali) Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o’er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command. Is it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds!

    22:47 (Y. Ali) Yet they ask thee to hasten on the Punishment! But Allah will not fail in His Promise. Verily a Day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.

    32:5 (Y. Ali) He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) go up to Him, on a Day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning.

    70:4 (Y. Ali) The angels and the spirit ascend unto him in a Day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years.

    So we can see from the above verses the Qur’an is clearly stating God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days, but that a Day in God’s time is thousand(s) of years when measured by human time. Since one verse says “(as) a thousand years” and another “(as) fifty thousand years”, clearly God is not giving out an exact number but rather informing us the length of God’s Day is a very long time by human standards. And if the universe and the earth were created over an extended period, this strongly suggests some type of process must have been put in place or else it would have been instantaneous – and in this way evolutionary theory is supported.

    However, with regards to human beings, or homo sapien sapiens, I believe the Qur’an is clear man was created and did not evolve. Consider the following verses…

    On the creation of man:

    15:26 (Y. Ali) We created man from sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape;

    32:9 (Y. Ali) But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give!

    7:12 (Y. Ali) ((Allah)) said: “What prevented thee from bowing down when I commanded thee?” He said: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.”

    On man and jinn being sent down to earth:

    2:31 (Y. Ali) And He taught Adam the nature of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: “Tell me the nature of these if ye are right.”

    17:61 (Y. Ali) Behold! We said to the angels: “Bow down unto Adam”: They bowed down except Iblis: He said, “Shall I bow down to one whom Thou didst create from clay?”

    2:36 (Y. Ali) Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: “get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood – for a time.”

    If man evolved, how do we explain the angels were asked to bow down to Adam in heaven? How do we explain Satan tempted Adam in the garden? How do we explain Adam was sent down? How would evolutionary theory explain “God taught Adam the names of all things” and “God breathed His spirit into him”? In fact, I do not believe it can. And yet, there is too much evidence to convincingly deny the Theory of Evolution.

    However, there is an alternative to consider.

    I’m convinced everything on this planet evolved…except Man! Man did not evolve, he was sent down by God to be the caretaker of this planet. After man was sent down, evolutionary forces – that God created in the first place – then made their effects on mankind. We therefore evolved into different races; Asian, African, Caucasean, Native American, etc., as each community adapted to its environment. Note, we are all still the same species, only different races. By now however, as technology has improved, we have essentially stopped evolving, because we no longer adapt to the environment but rather we adapt the environment to us. We no longer pass on genes at different rates of reproduction – which is the basis of evolutionary theory, because most people, regardless of their disadvantage, still pass on their genes.

    To further support this hypothesis, even by evolutionary charting there are missing links in hominid evolution, or breaks in the sequence leading to the evolution of homo sapien sapiens. In other words, there is no definitive sequence leading to Man! Consider also, how does one explain the evolution of Consciousness? Biological evolution is one thing, but evolution and the realization of “I”, that “I exist” is another thing altogether. It was God, who gave us the realization of “I am” which is why He asked all of creation to bow down to us. It was not evolution that gave us this.

    One may conclude that “God let the Earth evolve along with the life forms in it. When God decided the conditions were right on Earth for us to live, He fashioned us out of material from the Earth, into a form that best suited our living on Earth, and placed us on the Earth.”

    So the upshot: Man did not evolve. He was sent down in his present form. All other species evolved. This does not contradict either evolution or creation. In fact, I would say the Qur’an reconciles them.

    Peace. Imran

  4. Philosopher

    I am a student of philosophy from London.I have never come cross as poorly argued case against the theological arguments as this one by the Richard Dawkins.Dawkins is a “philosopher” of common man.I have attended many conferences on philosophy and science in London but i have yet to see a first rank Philosopher even mentioning the name of Richard Dawkins in any of his research or for that matter even in personal conversation with other students of Philosophy.

    Richard has completely misunderstood the traditional arguments for the existence of God and criticised at PRECISELY the points he has misunderstood.Most of his arguments are based on highly superficial judgments and convenient rhetorical rebuttals like, Evil,”immoral” actions of the believers and other such judgments which are the result of the fallacy of “single variable explanation”.None of which,fortunately, proves anything.

    Another very important point that he misses is that science on its own proves or disproves nothing regarding the religious claims.It is the job of the philosopher of religion to show which religious assertion is compatible or incompatible with the claim of science.Religious language has various shades of meanings in it which are interpreted differently by the people of different mental abilities and cultural background.Therefore the Quran makes a distinction between the categorical statements and allegorical statements.In fact Quran not only accommodates this diversity but also encourages it.No wonder there is no clergy in Islam because Islam gives the individual freedom to explore the latent meanings and promises a true path to the one sincere and open in his/her pursuits.

    Dawkins seems to be completely unaware of the debates and technicalities involved in the religious discourse and often gives ridiculously superficial judgments which even a serious graduate level student of philosophy would find trash.On the technical grounds he misses a very significant point i.e physical evolution is one thing and the philosophical implications of this phenomenon is quite another.The question at hand is not whether the physical life emerges through a certain process but it has more to do with the question of LIFE itself.

    For if we accept Richard’s claim then not only will we have to REDUCE all the mental acts into Physiological factors but every entity of our thinking including science and mathematics would be nothing but the fragmented expression of the biological causes.It would subsequently explode the whole structure of science and even language.We would be left with nothing to determine the VALIDITY of any intellectual assertion including the one that Richard himself claims.

  5. Azad

    Assalam o Alaikum,

    Today I was thinking that its not fare not to mention the things that I liked in your articles and in your other works..I’ll start from this article….I very much appreciate many of your statements:

    “In case if criticism on one’s faith deserves to be responded to, the response should be made in a polite and intelligent manner.”

    I think this makes a lot of sense as these days many of us are ridden by the emotion to do things that we think that it is good but actually it is far from that and damages the image of Islam.

    Secondly, I like your presentation of your arguments in para four (though, being a mathematician I dont support the natural selection principal). I also liked the argument

    “We do have a sense of morality which is surprisingly shared by the entire humanity. It could also be coincidental.”

    Finally, the most impressive thing that I like about your writing is the way you address non-muslims (this I also find in other true traditional scholars). For shortage of time I am unable to post other things that I liked but inshaAllah will try to write something very soon.

    Wassalam

  6. Faisal

    Azad ,you are wrong to point out that , following paragraph is from Dr.Khalid Zaheer in your first comment.

    “And why should a non-believer get discredited for not believing in Him when his disbelief is the result of an honest effort which led him to wrong conclusions?”

  7. Umer Khan

    Assalam o alaikum Dr. Sb and Others,

    I rate this article amongst the best that I have ever come across. However, if you start twisting simple things than even an irrefutable book like Qur’an can be made fun of.

    For those who disagree with this article fully or partly, then my humble request to them will be to keep on reviewing their opinion and to look into the deeper side of what Dr. Sb is talking about, bearing in mind that he himself was an atheist once.

    And as I say again and again, please do not scrutinize the sincerity of anyone, specially of someone who himself beleives in the same philosophy like Dr. Sb.

    Umer Khan

  8. Muhammad

    Re: “Dawkins mentions some tests that were conducted to see if prayers were actually heard for the patients and concludes that the tests showed negative correlation between prayers and the betterment of the patients who were prayed for”.

    Dawkins must realise that these corelations:

    i) could be a result of people leaving everything to prayers and doing nothing about their state of affairs (which is not what God wants);
    ii) could be negative because he doesn’t realise how prayers are answered. If he’s testing the existence of God, he must test it on His terms. God doesn’t claim that he answers all prayers directly.

    So basically, Dawkins is merely trying to assert and then, re-assert his own paradigms on ‘those who believe’. I would call that a superiority complex.

  9. Khalid Zaheer

    Salam Dear Brother Azad

    You are free (azad) to point out weaknesses and contradictions in my presentations. Indeed as humans we do have contradictions in us. It is only God’s words which can be free of them. And if we don’t point out contradictions to each other, we will never be able to realize that we were making them. So I thank you for doing your job and for doing it well.

    However, let me make two clarifications about the alleged contradictions you have pointed out in my blog-article.

    It is possible that despite his sincere yearning for truth, man may not be able find it completely. While such possibilities are likely to be much higher in the times when prophets are not physically present, even during the times of the prophets, the truth is not very clear to everyone immediately. It is a fact that such great companions as Umar and Khalid, may God be pleased with them, got the opportunity to believe in the prophet, Allah’s mercy be on him, in the sixth and eighteenth years of prophetic mission respectively. Even when the message had become so clear that the Almighty declared that people who didn’t believe in it deserved to be killed, the Qur’an asked Muslims not to kill the individual who asked to be spared because he hadn’t been introduced to Islam. The Almighty says: “If anyone of the polytheists asks you for protection then provide him with it until he listens to the message of Allah; thereafter take him to a place of safety. (We are asking you to do) it because these are the people who don’t know.” (9:6)

    From the above description the other issue also gets clarified: Even though the prophets made the message very clear to the people, not everyone got the privilege of knowing it. Clearly, it is the obligation of the believers of the later times to do the same noble task to ensure that more and more people come to know about it. Can we claim that all Chinese today know fully well what the message of Islam is? If they don’t know it, on what basis would they be held accountable for their behaviour? According to the Qur’anic verse I quoted in my article (7:42), they are going to be dealt with in accordance with their potential, circumstances, and knowledge.

    Let’s assume that my view is incorrect and yours is the right one, should we then believe that all non-Muslims of the world shall go to the hell for not believing in Islam, whether they came to properly learn about it or not because, after all, Islam was convincingly preached by the messenger, alaihissalaam, during his times. Is that what you are saying?

  10. Azad

    Dear Faisal assalam o alaikum,

    You are absolutely right that I made a mistake while quoting the first statement. Thats why I made this correction in my second comment while completing my argument.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Wassalam,

  11. Aqib Khan

    Asalam-o-Alaikum All,

    I personally think that this article is one of the best of of its kind. People commenting negatively here are picking up on somthing that remains subjective. If they try to understand the core of the article, they will realize there mistakes. Whether God created everything using one method or another is not the question here. The question is what Dr sb pointed out and everyone always asks. How it happened, by chance or something else? And Dr Sb is sayiing the obvious that God did it. Do you dispute that?.

    Thank you all

    Aqib

  12. Salman Ahmed

    Assalam-u-Alaikum Dr. Khalid,

    If there are deductive arguments present to support a view, there is no need to look for inductive arguments. A deductive argument alone suffices to reach the conclusion. Keeping aside the deductive argument, you have presented many inductive arguments which can be critically analyzed.

    1. Morality is not always universal. There are moral dichotomies. In a Hadith, it is said “Choose the small evil to avoid bigger evil provided you are faced with the situation to choose between the two”. For illustration, if a murderer is known to us as murderer but we do not have witnesses to prove him as murderer in the court of law. Should we give false testimony to convict him!

    Morality is present as far as the intellectual reasoning is concerned to the extent that intellectual pursuit should be unbiased and fair.

    2. Quran gives design argument. Evolution is present as far as is natural. But, it is not the guiding principle. Evolutionists say evolution answers “What” as well as “How”. We Muslims argue it only answers “How” and not “What” and “Why”. Therefore, existence of God is to be argued from the design argument.

    See Pascal Wager Incentive arguments in favor of God to observe that how inductive arguments support contrary conclusions.

    I am of the opinion that free thought is not able to answer 100% of the questions about the universe, man and his role. Believers need to strengthen the argument in favor of ‘test’ conducted by God by sending us here. It can not be completely rationally explained. What if i want to go out of this test? Do i have a second chance? If man is hasty as claimed by Quran, why am i to suffer due to my inbuilt feature that is and has been completely out of my control?

    Therefore, as far as i believe, ‘test’ feature of this material dispensation in this world is not rationally explainable. However, i have argued recently that more than logic, justice is the key. In the trinity of values i discussed in the literature review of Philosophy i.e. freedom, justice and happiness, logic is not a value. Having all the answers is not a value. As you say, at best, it will fulfill my curiosity or will just give it a direction in a circle which never gets completed.

    What is of fundamental importance is the fact that this test has to be ‘just’ if not completely rationally explainable. By arguing that everyone would be judged based on his intentions, general attitude, general behavior, general tendencies and most importantly in matters one has choice clarify that this test is just and solves the big problem of justice. However, we need to keep pondering to find rational justification for the test. The constraint is we can not predict God completely.

  13. khalid Zaheer

    Dear Philosopher

    Thanks for sharing such valuable comments on my site. Your last paragraph is most certainly very profound
    and I doubt any atheist can ever respond to it properly. Jakallahu Khairan.

    Khalid Zaheer

  14. subhan butt

    Assalam-u-Alaikum,
    I doubt whether ‘pure reason or aurgumentative reasoning’ can ever conclusively prove the existence or non-existence of God. One strong evidence for existence of God is text of Qur’an, but only for believers and open minded readers. For me, every atheist should answer a question ‘is he or she really serious about atheism’. It does, however, appear that for athesits ‘God’ remains a favourite topic despite denying his existence.

  15. Azad

    Dear Khalid Sb Assalam o Alaikum,

    Jazakallah o khairan for your reply. I thinks its much better to talk straight and to the point. I am not saying that what you are saying is wrong and what I am saying is wright instead I am saying that you are not being consistent with your own views and this shows the deficiencies in the foundations of your theory (“Originalistic Approach”). Because firstly you say that the people who are unable to reach the straight path will be pardoned and then you contradict this by saying that everyone has the potential to get to the truth. Therefore, in a plain language both cant be true. Teachings of Islam are straightforward and there isn’t scope for philosephy of playing with words.

    As I have previously written that I judge any article with what it offers for take away. In this sense if we analyse the intensity of your massage then its very difficult to justify the sacrifice made by Prophets (may peace be upon all of them) and salafs to save the mankind from hell-fire, because if they had agreed to your view then there was no need to all this. They could have given the message to few and relaxed.

    So what I am trying to say that by writing this article you are just undermining the importance of dawah and Iman. As each Muslim has the responsibility to spread the message in the best possible manner. We are not here to judge who is going to hell-fire (this is on Allah SWT to decide). However, we need to take on the pain that prophets had to save humans form fire of hell and work for others.

    Finally, even the message of Islam might not reach the every human (including Chinese) but Allah SWT has given them the faculty to recognise Him and this is the must criterion for paradise, which can be proven by numerous ayahs in Quran.

    Wassalam,

  16. Zarrar Said

    Dear Dr. Sahib,

    Sadly your article and argument is poorly represented as it has fundamental errors. The concept of natural selection is not a theory as such as it is a common held Fact of science. I would consider it one of the triumphs of human intellect. Although there are mnay that claim that this is God’s work. Why would God devise a plan that totally deceives the purpose of his own existence?
    Also you claim that the Quran does not look down upon blasphemy, I and many others would disagree as Quran has specific examples of what to do with blasphemers and apostates which I do not want to get into. I do believe, being a doctor you should read up on natural selection and see how it works. One example would be if that the lifespan of planet earth was represented by the empire state building, our existence would only be a postage stamp on the top. Our species is fairly modern in that sense and has taken millions of years of natural selection. Nature in its characteristics has been free from divine intervention during this process. If you claim to believe that God made this process you would believe then that Divine intervention is ruled out in natural selection.

  17. Khalid Zaheer

    Dear Brother Azad

    What is the difference between your views and mine if you believe that Chinese people will also go to the paradise despite them not receiving the prophets’ messages? What will happen to the hard work and sacrifices of prophets you have mentioned in your comments if the Chinese would succeed in the hereafter despite not formally believing in any of the messages that didn’t come to them properly? The only reason it would happen is because if they would do as best as they could, they will reach the paradise. That is exactly what I am saying. And who is being inconsistent in views? There is an individual who is mentioning that the prophets’ sacrifices would go waste if people would go to paradise without believing in them on the one hand and yet is saying in the same breath that Chinese would enter the paradise without believing in them. Is he not being inconsistent?

    The prophets made those sacrifices because God wanted them to do so. They did it because that was the best thing for them to do. They were all interested in taking the entire humanity to the paradise. Why are we interested in consigning many people to the hell-fire simply because those great people made supreme sacrifices? I don’t understand the link between the two? The prophets couldn’t have sat back because their God wanted to go ahead and deliver His message no matter whatever be the situation.

    It is some naiive Muslims (traditionalists, by the way) who are creating this false impression about Islam by saying that if we don’t go for tabligh, the entire Chinese population would go to the hell for ever because they will not have recited the kalimah. It is that notion that I would want to dispel loudly and clearly. Our God is not going to allow anyone to go to the hell without justification.

    The originalist approach is not in danger of being inconsistent, because it is only tied to the text. It can make mistakes; and it does make them. But its adherents have made a commitment to correct their views as and when mistakes are pointed out in the light of the original text. Of course, as humans, the followers of this approach can still make errors, even blunders, deliberately or otherwise. The trouble with the traditionalists (and modernists) is that for them the text is secondary. For the traditionalists, it is the opinion of the earlier scholars which is the ultimate authority. Even if a mistake is realized, it cannot be corrected. Such is their commitment to the views of their elders.

  18. Azad

    Dear Khalid Sb assalam o alaikum,

    I have realised one thing out of all this communications that I received (from your articles and talks that read or watched) that your main objective is to damage the core foundations of our faith and you know how to play with words. Because, for any person with common sense will realise that all the muslims in the past and in the present follow a consistent approach, which some handful people (self made scholars) tag them as “traditionalist” and consider them as following the wrong path.

    So, now lets see the overview of these things. There is one small group which considers all the muslims as following the wrong path and according to them muslims in the past and present couldn’t understand the Islam properly. And after a 14 hundred years these self made great scholars have appeared to save the humanity form the “tradionalist” approach. Moreover, these people consider that for last 14 hundred years all the muslims could not understand the Quran and sunnah. However, these people with no proven skills in arabic have understood the Quran and sunnah better that Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmed and many thousands of great scholars. The biggest irony is that all these people are from Indian subcontinent. So, the Arabs still haven’t understood the Quran and its Arabic.

    The irony is that these people consider themselves as “originalists” and they have no connection with the origin of Islam. And they have founded this so called “originalistic” approach in the late 14th century. What a great way to deceive people. And by action and background this “originalistic” approach is actually a “mordernistic” approach. But cleaverly they have named themselves “originalists”.

  19. Zeeshan

    Dear Khalid Zaheer Sb, Can you answer or give us Quranic stance on the last question raised by Brother Salman Ahmad above “However, we need to keep pondering to find rational justification for the test or wordly trial”.

  20. Khalid Zaheer

    Dear Zarrar Said

    Thanks for your enlightening input on my presentation. Indeed it is through open-minded critical examination of realities that we are able to reach from one station of truth to another, higher one.

    I can assure you that the punishment of blasphemers and apostates you referred to in your message without providing evidence of it is not mentioned in the Qur’an. You have heard about them from sources outside the Qur’an. The Qur’an is silent about punishments for either of them.

    The fact that it took a very long time for the humans to evolve and that we are very small in size compared to the universe doesn’t prove anything. Even if we are a mere stamp on top of a tall building, it is a statement that only compares our physical size with the rest of the universe. What makes humans hugely superior to all other creations, whether stars, mountains, trees, or beasts, is not their size or the time they reached the planet, but their intellect and the ability of sifting right from wrong. By mentioning the example of stamp on the Empire State Building, therefore, you are proving nothing except that you are slightly weak in the domain of giving examples. If hippopotamus or giraffe cannot be superior to man simply because of their superior sizes, why would a tall building be superior to a stamp simply because the latter was only very tiny compared to the building? If the man who lived in this world ten thousand years ago wasn’t superior to the modern man simply because he was ancient, why would the fact that man’s entry into this world was very recent compared to many others make him any inferior?

    It is the authors of the theory (or, as you say, fact) of natural selection who claim that by natural selection they only mean the evolution of our world through a God-less process. Why should this claim be accepted simply because it was made by people who used the expression natural selection in a way that they didn’t have God’s intervention in mind? A claim is accepted or rejected not because of the conviction of the one who is claiming it. In that case, there could be no possibility of rejecting any claim. We reject the claim of those who say that this world came about without anyone’s intervention because it is the most absurd claim anyone can ever make. What that claim means is that man — with all his physical and intellectual excellence, and the material resources which serve to sustain man’s existence — all came about through a process which was not just a one-off fluke. It means that the fluke continues to happen in the most amazing way on a regular basis! If there was to be picked any one claim made by man which was the most strange and weird, it had to be this one. You call it one of the wonders of human intelligence that man has been able to come up with the idea of natural selection without God’s intervention. Honestly, if man had been intelligent only to the extent that he would suggest creation of universe without God, I might have considered that theory a little seriously. But man has proved to be much more intelligent than that in achieving so many feats that one cannot possibly imagine that he and his intelligence happened through fluke happened, without any intelligent planning.

    Khalid Zaheer

  21. Khalid Zaheer

    Dear Salman

    Consider it my lack of intelligence, but I haven’t been able to understand your stance that while we can’t logically justify this life as a trial, we can explain it through the argument of justice. Are the two explanations any different? ?I mean is it not enough to say that because this life is not fair, we can see clearly that the Wise and Fair creator cannot let that continue for ever and therefore there will be another life. This life is a trial and the next one shall be the result of it.

    I think when you say that logic alone cannot prove that this life is a trial you are probably trying to mean that the explanation of this trial which humans can comprehend and be satisfied with in all the details is not available. Of course, it is not available. That is what makes it a trial. We have been given to live in a world of limitation: limited knowledge, limited resources, limited time etc. We have been asked to operate in these limitations. The one who is prepared to know the truth — which includes an attitude of humble pursuit for the right answers — God gradually makes the reality known to him. What such an individual gets is not just a logical answer: It is much more than that. Had the comprehension of the idea of the trial of this life been based on mere logic, it wouldn’t have been a fair trial. The intelligent would have succeeded and the less intelligent would have flunked. In its present form it is a trial in which the sincere — even if not exceedingly intelligent — succeed and the insincere — even if they are hugely intelligent — fail.

    Khalid Zaheer

  22. Khalid Zaheer

    Assalamo Alaikum Brother Azad

    You have every right to comment on our ideas and to point out our weaknesses. Even if you think strongly against us, I hope, we share the same concerns: to know what the true message of Islam is and to attampt to follow it properly. because we are humans, our attempts can lead us to diverse results.

    You believe that in order to know the right teachings of Islam we must follow what our traditional scholars have understood. You think that because we don’t agree with your conclusion we are following an approach which is dangerously misleading. Apart from the fact that I would like to request you as a Muslim brother that it is a sin to doubt the intentions of another human, I am submitting three facts for your consideration.

    We don’t disrespect traditional scholars. In fact we keep them in very high esteem. We believe that they have made trememdous contributions in their respective times to clarify the true message of Islam to the humanity. However, despite their intelligence, sincerity, and sacrifices, they were humans. It is not they who enjoy the ultimate authority to decide what is right and what is wrong in Islam. It is the message brought by prophet Muhammad, alaihissalaam, in the Qur’an and sunnah which enjoys that authority. We agree with more than ninety percent of the understanding and explanation of Islam offered by the traditional scholars.

    The traditional approach is not necessarily the original one. It is just that it is an old approach and people like what is old in religion, even if it is not original. Imam Abu Hanifa’s views were criticized by Imam Shafi’i even though, it is said that, the latter was born the same day when the former died. Why is not Imam Shafi’i condemnable? Imam Ibn Taimiyyah was born centuries after the four famous Sunni Imams died. The former disagreed on a large number of issues on which all four had agreed. Should we then declare Imam Taimiyyah, who enjoys very high reputation amongst the Arab Muslims, a misled Muslim?

    The fact that Ijma’, the consensus of opinion amongst the Muslim scholars on an issue, cannot be religiously challeneged is an understanding which has been ridiculed and condemned by some of the very famous Muslim scholars. Those who have criticized the conventional idea of ijma’ include such famous names as Imam Shafi’i, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Imam Ibn Hazm, and Imam Razi. I plan to mention their quotes on ijma’ in one of my subsequent blogs, insha’Allah.

    Now a final request: Our prophet, alaihissalaam, was polite even with his enemies. Why are you so harsh with your brothers? Clearly you don’t see what lies hidden in our hearts. Just criticize our ideas sincerely and let God decide about intentions.

    khalid Zaheer

  23. Salman Ahmed

    Assalam-u-Alaikum Dr. Khalid,

    Regarding the post # 21. I have already reviewed my stance when you quoted the verse from Quran. What you explain here is already done by myself in post # 13 on your blog article ‘Is Belifef in God really imperative’. I already gave a critical note of my own misunderstanding at first. What you say is said by me soon after i realized my mistake in post # 13.

    Before Quran, we all need to surrender. There is no other way possible. One can develop an alternate understanding based on reasoning alone of Quranic text, but when mistake gets clear, one has to submit before Quran. I already did that.

    I must praise Javed Ahmed Ghamidi whom I have seen adopting this principle in practice, not just in words. As Javed Ghamid Sahab himself described it the ‘best virtue one can develop is to review one’s stance and views’.

    But Jazak Allah for further clarification.

  24. Tanvir Ahmad Rana

    Dear Khalid Bhai
    Salaam
    It was indeed a very pleasant surprise to discover this site today ( by chance).
    I find it extremely illiminating and helpful as it clarifies many relevant and current issues.
    Your comments on the book, The God Delusion, were similarly very informative for me as I have myself been toying with the idea of writing a short article on it ( as a part of a series of articles in my planned book, The Night was not Loveless.
    One of my trainers in psychiatry, unfortunately became a non-believer having been a Muslim before. When I finished my training he gave me a book as a farewell present, The End of Faith by Sam Harris.If you have not read it, please do so, as you will possibly find it very entertaining.

    Best wishes
    Tanvir

    ( Prof Tanvir Ahmad Rana
    Honorary Associate Clinical Professor, Warwick University
    Visiting Professor of Mental Health, Staffordshire University)

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