Ramble. Focus. Ramble.

Were Muslims Once Rational?

I know many of you are going to be offended by the title of this article but if you know me, then you would know that I really don’t care what you think of me and my beliefs. And if you don’t know me then you are going to find that out about me. My point is not to judge each and every one of you but yes, I think my belief holds that most Muslims, that I have come across, are not reasonable people and they definitely do not have reasonable beliefs.

Anyway, this piece of writing is dedicated to the rational Muslims that once emerged in Basra. I am going to put a few of their beliefs together and show you a reasonable Muslim it would make. The group of Muslims that I am talking about were called Mutazilites. Mutazila was the school of theology that based beliefs on reason. I speak of them in past even though this school of theology has not vanished from the face of the earth. I speak of them in past because their number is absurdly low.

Mutazilite means “those who withdrew themselves.” Now the question is what did they withdraw from. The two friends that withdrew from a preaching session did so because they got offended. They didn’t want to choose. They were given a  puzzle, a person had sinned and it was for them to decide if he was a Muslim now or an infidel. But they couldn’t choose. People say that they chose and intermediate and said that he was neither Muslim nor an infidel but I don’t believe that. Somehow, I know that they just didn’t choose and they had realized that they were not in the position to choose. They just withdrew.

I just mentioned an important belief of the Mutazilites and I hope you got it because God help you if you didn’t. The next one I am going to discuss is their cosmology. They believed everything was made of atoms and that, by accidents, atoms come together and form bonds. They believed that substances have qualities, they are either living or nonliving, hot or cold, moving or stationery, etc. And they believed that some substances could possess more than one quality at one time or different times, for example, a rock that is hot and moving. They also believed that some qualities and some substances had noting to do with each other and so those substances could never possess those qualities, they meant rocks could never come alive. Interestingly, these are the only uncontroversial beliefs of the Mutazilites.

One of the controversial beliefs of the Mutazilites was that Quran is not the word of God. The scripture reflects the will of God but it is not his word. Why? because God does not speak. Speaking is a human attribute and God is not human. He is not even nearly human. So the anthropomorphism in the Quran is metaphorical. Wherever it says God’s eyes and God’s hands it is meant for something else. God is not even light, he does not give light and even though light is not a human attribute, it is to say that you know God’s attributes but you don’t. God is an essence. Period.

We know good from bad because of reason, not faith. And every man can distinguish between right and wrong. They can tell the difference and they need to find in themselves the power and the will to choose the right over the wrong. The Sunnis were somehow not comfortable with this belief just like they weren’t with many other Mutazilite beliefs. They believed the State, the Law should tell between right and wrong. There should be a big ass committee to define right and wrong and then impose it on people.

Now, coming to predestination and free will, what do you think the Mutazilites believed? Free will, of course. Reason says pick free will! They were somehow deistic and believed that God created the universe and then left it. He doesn’t interfere with anything. He has given man free will and it is up to en to choose the right. Those who choose right will be rewarded by God and those who chose evil will be punished. They did believe in an objective good and bad. So, this tells us that Mutazilites did not believe in “predestination” like our forefathers and this generation above us does. Marry the girl anywhere at all and just leave her to her “naseeb/qismat.” No Sir, there is no “naseeb,” you make your own destiny!

Another infamous belief was that God is just and he cannot be unjust. While the popular and contrasting belief that has prevailed says that God is under no obligation of being just and he can do whatever he like. He can punish the righteous and reward the infidel if he wants. Actually, that’s really silly. It’s not even reasonable to think that way. The question is: is he all-good? or all-powerful? I would go for all-good and the Mutazilites went for all-good and all-just but religion just doesn’t serve its purpose until it is scary so the popular belief is that God can do whatever he likes. Anyway, the point isn’t what he can do, it’s what he does. And if he is not doing all good right now then it is probably not in his control.

WOW, that’s a very lengthy post.


12 comments on “Were Muslims Once Rational?

  1. nabeeljafri
    July 6, 2013

    ‘There should be a big ass committee to define right and wrong and then impose it on people.’ I lol’d 🙂

  2. Hassan
    July 6, 2013

    You are going to put “Najomis” and “Pir Sahebs” out of business. Please, do same with Mullahs too.

  3. hadeelnaeem
    July 6, 2013

    HAHA. Jinab, ye Mullah meri samajh se bahar hain.

  4. Ras
    July 6, 2013

    Dear Hadeelnaeem, I am quite interested in the articles you have shared with us. Bold and honest perspectives. No hidden agenda. That makes me thrilled to understand your views of life. Cheers and hope to see more of your perceptive shadings.


    Sent from my iPad

  5. Ali Jan
    July 21, 2013

    personally I respect Mutazila thoughts and principles but I never heard that they refuted that quran was the word of God. Yes they did believe in a non literal interpretation of the Quran which makes sense because all poetry is to interpreted non literally and Quran is like poetry. Hmm anyways can you give a reference for the claim that Mutazilites believed that quran wasn’t the word of God?

  6. hadeelnaeem
    July 21, 2013

    Kamal, Mohammad, 1993. Heterodoxy in Islam: A 23. Philosophical Study. Karachi: Royal Book Company.

    You can find it a lot of places, check it out for yourself. Mutazila believed the Quran was created.

    • Ali Jan
      July 22, 2013

      I am aware of the Quran being eternal or creation debate. The mutaziila school claims that the Quran is created by God and hence like all created things is not eternal but this claim is different from claiming that the Quran is not the word of God.

      • hadeelnaeem
        July 22, 2013

        If the Quran is the word of God, it is eternal obviously because God actually said everything that is written in the Quran. But the Quran is created so it is only an interpretation of the God’s will.

      • Ali Jan
        July 22, 2013

        aah no I disagree for God to give his will to us he needed to create the words of the Quran and since language is something that is created and is not eternal and is open for interpretation hence the Quran is not eternal is open to interpretation that doesn’t mean it is not the word of God. It is the word of God but is not eternal and hence is open for interpretation like everything else that is what the Mutazilites claimed.

  7. hadeelnaeem
    July 22, 2013

    I appreciate your disagreement but I will go with my interpretation. Thank you.

  8. nida
    October 2, 2013

    yes they were …… Long ago

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This entry was posted on July 4, 2013 by in Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .
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