Deviant contention: “There is no room in Islam for logic and rational reasoning. If Islam was based on the logic of humans, we would not wipe our hands above the khuffayn, as the greats of the Ummah have taught us, but rather underneath them.”
Question regarding this contention: It is known that the Naql (Quraan and the Sunnah) is given preference over the ‘Aql. What are the relative positions in the Aqeedah of Ahl-Sunnah wal Jamaah (Ash’aree?Maturidi) given to these ie. ‘Aql and Naql ? A person of a Literalist inclination argued that the Ash’aree school give the ‘aql priority over the naql.
There is no clearer sign of deviance and backwardness than refuting logic and rational reasoning. After all, the alternative is illogical and irrational.
This topic has been touched upon already in other article like this one.
The methodology of these people is to take interpret scripture text referring to Aļļaah’s attributes, understand the text as having the same meaning as when referring to a human, and then cling to it by all available means, even if the interpretation is irrational. The attacks made on logic is an attempt to hide this irrationality from the public. After all, if you want people to believe whatever you say, what better position to be in than not having to be logical or rational?
What is the study of logic as it is done by Muslims? It is the study of how to make proper definitions for the concepts you are dealing with, and how to construct a sound argument based on sound premises. Whenever you hear someone attacking the study or use of logic there are only a few possibilities:
- He does not know what it is, or has a different definition for it. Many scholars in the past spoke against the formal study of logic, because they considered greek theology to be part of it, which is full of ideas against Islam, or the trivial pursuits that philosophers often deal with that have no practical value for the Islamic belief or its practice. The study of elementary Islamic logic today does not suffer from any of these problems.
- He has an agenda, like the wahabi scholars.
- He is a dumb animal.
Narrational knowledge, knowledge based on information narrated in hadith is founded on rational reasoning, the core arguments being:
Reliability of narrator in terms of piety:
- God-fearing men do not lie.
- The narrator is apparently god-fearing
- Therefore, the narrator apparently does not lie.
Reliability of narrator in terms of accuracy:
- A person with an incredibly good memory is likely to tell narrations accurately, as they were told.
- The narrator has an incredibly good memory
- Therefore, the narrator is most likely accurate in his narration
Reliability of chain of narration in terms of continuity:
- If all the narrators in a chain of narration are mentioned in the chain, it is more likely that the information they narrate is accurate.
- The narrators in the narration chain are all mentioned – without interruption in any generation.
- Therefore, if the narrators are pious and accurate, the information narrated is most likely correct.
- If the same narration comes through several chains, then this increases confidence that the narration is accurate.
- The narration has several continuous chains with pious and accurate narrators.
- Therefore the narration is more likely to be correct than one that has only one chain.
As you can see, denying logic and rational reasoning as means to knowledge of the truth undermines all religious knowledge, even narrational.
The orders pertaining to how to worship cannot be known by reason alone, this is what is meant by the saying regarding wiping the khuff. For example, how would one know that one needs to wash one’s face (in wuđuu), after passing gas – before praying. If one was going to wash anything after it normally, it would be the place where the dirt came out, because the normal purpose of washing is to clean. In the same manner, the normal purpose of wiping is to clean, and the part of the khuff most in need of cleaning is the underneath part.
The problem with this reasoning is NOT that it is rational! On the contrary, it is based on false premises. In this case the premise being that the wiping is about cleaning dirts. It is not, because wuđuu is not about cleaning dirts in the first place. The reasoning then, had no scriptural basis for reaching a conclusion for a religious judgment. It is this type of opinion, or reasoning that Islam forbids; spurious reasoning based on unfounded premises. After all, if Aļļaah did not send a messenger, we would not know whether we would be held accountable for anything at all.
The scriptures have many examples of logical arguments to prove the correctness of the Islamic belief. For example, when the Prophet said when presented with the theory of contagious spread of disease between animals in a flock, “and the first one?” I.e. there must be a first one to have the disease, without having caught it from another animal. This arguments is based on the premise that there could not have been infinitely many camels transferring the disease in the past.
Similarly, the encouragement to think of proofs of Aļļaah’s existence and attributes are very many in the Quran, and they are not restricted to what is verbatim mentioned in the scriptures. An example of such encouragement is in this ayah:
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
Meaning: “Verily in the creation of the Skies and the Earth, and the differences of night and day there are signs for those who have perceptive minds.” (Aal-ˆImraan, 190)
How to follow the order of the Aayah? The only way is to look at the characteristics of creation and derive logical proofs based on them for proofs for the Creator’s existence, such as was done in this article.