Thursday, February 7, 2013

When A Humanist Approaches Qur’an - I (b)

        I (b)  A closer look at the nature of the concept of Allah

             “Say: He is God
                 The One and Only;

                 God, the Eternal, Absolute;

                He begetteth not,
                Nor is He begotten;
                And there is none
   Like unto Him.” (Sura CXII; Ikhlas)

Ignoring the rhetoric, what does one know about God?
Islam is a monotheistic religion. It opposes any attempt to add partners to Allah.
During the period of Prophet Muhammad’s life there was no Islamic Theology. But after him serious discussions and schisms arose in the muslim communities. Many a time fanatic belief in such concepts led to violence. All the confusions were created on the basis of verses from Qur’an. If you examine Qur’an you can see so many attributes of Allah there. The discussions of Muslim theologians  are now studied under three distinct heads: Swifaat(Qualities), Af’aal (Deeds) and dhaat(Essence). The history of disputations tells a sorry tale of scheming, murders, mob violence and inquisitions.
General discussion in the Quran about a creator is based on what is known in Philosophy as Design Argument. It exhorts man to look around him, to see the world as Allah’s bounty and think of the insignificant sojourn of man in this world. Qur’aan or early Islamic practice did not encourage endless theological disputes.
It will be worthwhile to note what Roy observed:
“Because Islam as a religion is irrationalism par excellence, it so easily triumphed over all other religions which, with all their metaphysical accomplishments, theological subtleties and philosophical pretensions, were defective as religions, being but pseudo-religions.”(1)
Now, turning to the problem of oneness of Allah, he says, “Monotheism, however, is a highly subversive theory. While being itself the highest form of religion, it strikes at the root of the religious mode of thought. Placing God above and beyond the world, it opens up the possibility of doing without him altogether. Islam as the most rigorous monotheistic religion  closed the chapter of human history dominated by the religious mode of thought, and by its very nature was open to unorthodox interpretations which eventually liquidated the religious mode of thought and laid the foundation of modern rationalism.” (2)
The first part of Islamic theology is highly interesting in this sense. “Until the twelfth century, Islam did not possess a homogeneous body of dogmas. Subject to the belief in one god, the Mussulman had a practically unlimited latitude for his spiritual life. And history shows that the Arabian thinkers made free and full use of that flexibility of the new faith. In order to refute the Christian doctrine of Trinity, which they considered to be a vulgarization of the sublime idea of the Supreme God, Muslim theologists developed the fundamental idea of religion to the most abstract form ever conceived by human mind.” (3)

(to be continued)

1.       P. 52, ‘The Historical Role of Islam’, 1999(Reprinted), Ajanta Books International, 1- UB, Jawahar Nagar, Bungalow Road, Delhi- 110007(India)
2.       Pp.52,53; ibid.
3.       Pp. 55,56;ibid

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