Using Your Intellect

“That’ doesn’t make sense!”

In our human history, the presence of logic has had its own fluctuations. When it does make its presence, it makes its presence very clear, and with the aid of the shaytaan who is always out to mess things up for us, logic is overused. After all, it’s the father of all shaytaan who started the “logical explanation” in rebellion.

Surah Al A’raaf 7:12

Sahih International

[ Allah ] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Satan] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.

Look at that! An argument like that, one that today, would most probably elicit the response,
“Hmm….he has a point! That makes a lot of sense!.”
Today we value the use of intelligence very highly, and when taken to the extreme, banishes anything that deals with the unseen.
Our religion deals with many unseen. For one, the 6 or 7 articles of faith are the unseen!
Here, when Iblis gave this logical explanation, he is using logic instead of looking at the command of Allah. With that, he is rejecting Allah’s command!
Do we do this too today? Subhanallah…don’t we do this too? Hasn’t Iblis taught his children well in how to get us to commit the biggest mistake he committed, one that had him kicked out of Jannah? He could have just said sorry and Allah would probably have accepted. His excuse or justification is worse than the crime of not prostrating itself.
So, when we hear the command of of hijab for example, do we then say,
“What’s hair got to do with modesty?”
Or when we hear the command of men being maintainers of women, we respond in the spirit of modernised and educated women,
“Why do I have to listen to him all the time??”
Or when we we’re told to behave with ihsaan, in not giving tit for tat when someone’s rude to us, we may say heatedly,
“I can’t be nice to someone like that! He was rude to me! If was nice back to him, he’d think it okay to order me around!”
Everything has an explanation that makes sense.
The thing is, some of Allah’s commands don’t have logical explanation. For example, when wiping over our socks, we wipe on the top part of our feet, not the bottom. Logically, wouldn’t the bottom of our feet be dirtier thus requiring the wipe?
Sometimes, we know the wisdom behind Allah’s prohibition and commands and sometimes Allah tells us the reason behind His prohibitions and commands. Note, there is a difference between wisdom and reason. For example, we’re told to fast not so we can have more empathy for the poor. That is one of the wisdoms of fasting, not the reason. The reason for us being told to observe fasting, is for us to attain taqwa.
Surah Al Baqarah 2:183
Sahih International

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –

A question arises.
“Are we not supposed to use our intellect at all then?”
Islam encourages us to use our intellect. In fact, so many times in the Quran, Allah says, la3allakum ta3qiloon [so that you may understand, use your intellect]. Islam’s overall tone is submission, but Islam is also about balance.

Use of intellect is very prevalent in the deen, but it’s to be used within a specific boundary, a certain framework and limitations. If we let it loose, it’ll wreak havoc. There is beauty in that too, in that using our intellects within a certain framework, requires us to embrace humility, intellectual humility, as said by Ustaadh Nouman in the video below.

And again, Islam is all about balance, for we are the middle/moderate nation after all.

Surah Al Baqarah 2:143
Sahih International

And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. And We did not make the qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful.

[Disclaimer : This is not tafseer, but my reflections based on what Sr. Taimiyyah taught in Taleem Quran course.]

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