I feel humbled by your frank admission yesterday to me about your inner 'crisis of faith'. Actually I would not be telling you the truth if I hide the fact that I have been waiting all these 25 years or so for your frank admission. A long wait indeed my friend, but while on one hand I was worried for your soul if you happened to be called back 'inter-state, yet on the other, I have to respect your 'personal' space.Now that you have 'open up' your inner sanctum to me I feel free and felt duty bound to ' grind' and 'burn' you. It has been a long long wait so pardon my 'language if you find it a wee bit tough! I am certainly not going to allow you go away un-bruised for the trepidation you have caused us, your close friends, to suffer in silence all these years... Nonetheless when it does come yesterday, I could not gather my wit fast enough to give you on the spot a fair rebuttal on behalf of all of us who have faith in Him. Thus this letter today..
Your 'existential vacuum' is not unique. Even Imam Ghazali, hujjatul Islam as he was known in the Muslim world then and now, had a much bigger 'spiritual confusion' than you, when he was at the height of his career as the doyen of Nazamiyah University, a well known centre of excellence during his time. His students were not only from all the Muslim hinterland of that time, they were also non Muslims from Europe.St Thomas Aquinas, the biggest hujjatul Trinity ever [ 'intellectual ammo' for Trinity.When Paris, London and Florence were still in darkness and plagued with rats and pestilence, Muslim's Serville, Cordoba and Baghdad were cities of 'Light' both figuratively and literally in 1100 CE ], was one of his students!. That speaks volume of Imam Ghazali's stature. A man of his spiritual stature, having a crisis of faith at the pinnacle of his career!
"It was, he says in his auto biography, due to his realization that there was no way to certain knowledge or the conviction of revelatory truth". He was then very much in cosmology and astronomy, and just watching the movement of the sun and the moon, suddenly made him realised that he might have been teaching and preaching all along just an illusion ,far from absolute truth. He took off for several years and disappeared into the desert of Syria. Whatever crisis he had while within the straight jacket of Islamic orthodoxy was duly healed by years of self examination in the dry arid land of Iraq being close to Islamic sufism. Years later he reappeared in Baghdad a renewed man, even stronger in his conviction . From then on Imam Ghazali tried to bridge the gap between Islamic orthodoxy and the mystics. The result was a brilliant long treatise on ' The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife' and the voluminous IHYA. He was the mujadid of that century . The man responsible for bringing renewal to Islamic knowledge that was on the wane.
What are you and I compared to the intellectual and spiritual height of Al Ghazali?
You tell me you cannot accept Islam and the faith because to you ,' EVOLUTION' in the 21st century stands out like a sore thumb as the ultimate , almost absolute truth, and your reading and discourse so far about Islam and Muslim's status with respect to "EVOLUTION" is just a total rejection of it. This to you is untenable. Apart from that you have no querrel with the tenets of Islam. Alahamdullillah!
ZZ, as always the perfect intellectual, as I have known you for the last 25 years or so.:You have no querrel with Islam but you cannot accept Allah because the Muslims, presently cannot accept Evolution. So evolution to you now is the only sticking point. Mashaallah!
I always maintain that Allah does not need science to validate Himself but for the sake of your line of thinking I will attempt to come to your level and try to rationalise a reasonable position which I hope both you and I can accept.
To me at least presently EVOLUTION is no big deal. The last word on evolution, to my rather simplistic mind, is not yet sealed however much we all think about it, science being science. I know you may disagree with me vehemently, since you are a Zoology- Botany specialist since High School and top your Med School in UK in your undergraduate days, and thus you think you can assume a monopoly of knowledge on this subject.....OK if you are still not happy, so hypothetically allow me to change gear...Let us say I accept your contention that Evolution is already an absolute truth!!! That still cannot change my faith in Allah and Islam.
Just because a bunch of top Muslim ulama' now cannot figure out how to put Evolution on the 'Islamic plate' to blend along with Islam does not mean a negation of Allah and His message.[ A bunch of them in our very own Malaysia cannot still figure out when is the exact right day for Hari Raya after so many years, so what is the big deal!!??]. I am not agreeing with you but I am putting myself in your position and am saying to you even then my position on Allah and His message does not change an iota. To me this is just that this bunch of 'scientific ulama'' still not being able to decipher the proper meaning and ramifications of the 'muthasyabihat ayats' in The Quran . There are several hundreds of these ayats in the Quran which are purely allegorical waiting for fuller comprehension, waiting for better science or better ulama' who can enter into much higher cerebral discourse.
'Our' sciences or rather our Muslim scientists with an Islamic bent have not reach that level of sophistication just yet , not helped by the main body's inertia towards ijtihad and using the grey mater beyond 12th century...Ijtihad stopped at the 12th century. The totally stupidest perception that what need to be thinked and conceptualised has been fully thought and worked up and there is no more necessity for intellectual discourse beyond the magical demarkation of the 12th century....The death of ijtihad and so with it , THINKING. And this is not the fault of Islam...This is our monumental fault which contribute to our ummah's malaise currently..
We just have to concede that our level of knowledge is still 'not there'. Our ulama' in the sciences have not even join in the 'discourse'. We are million miles at the back, but we know the universe has been there millions of years before the animal world, and the microbial world has been in existence millions of years before the animal world and the mammalian world is just a newcomer on the scene. I can accept that in Islam. This is not against my Islamic faith and belief. Of course the rest of our ulama' have no clue. They are not even in the discourse!
My problem now is putting Evolution on the 'Islamic plate'. That to me is a scale of 'grey areas'... I would just put the question of Evolution on the 'back burner' and come back to it later....So what? There are zillion other grey areas in this world.
Allah in one of His surah[ apakahnamadiadah surah itu!] in His Divine Letters,The Noble Qur'an, in just 2 ayats Said to this effect, from my limited and humble understanding at least:
"You numbskulls think that it is difficult for Me to create you from nothing to someone alive with emotions and lust and oftentimes stupidity and stubborn-headedness, then died and reborn again! I just say,Be [ Kun], and so it be![ Fayakun].
Just think for a moment you numbskulls! The universe is many hundred thousand times more difficult in complexity and sheer size for Me to create and I need to just say, Be[ Kun], and so it be ![ Fayakun]"
ZZ, If I am God, I would add ' What the bloody heck!' and add a few long expletives which your type of guys really deserve!....and a couple of very tight slap on the face as well for being so bloody insolent and 'bengang'!
"Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe? (30) And We have placed in the earth firm hills lest it quake with them, and We have placed therein ravines as roads that haply they may find their way. (31) And we have made the sky a roof withheld (from them). Yet they turn away from its portents. (32) And He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. They float, each in an orbit. (33) We appointed immortality for no mortal before thee. What! if thou diest, can they be immortal! (34) Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us ye will be returned." (35)
Surah Al Anbiya [ The Prophets ], Chapter 22 : 30-35
Translation of The Noble Qur'an by Marmaduke Pickthal
If this is not referring to the so-called " Big Bang" which some of your very clever agnostic friends like Stephen Hawkins, Carl Sagan and Dawkins like to refer to, I personally do not know what else!
And have some of your clever friends ever asked themselves whatever happened a millisecond before the Big Bang? A million years before the Big Bang?? What they cannot imagine and cannot measure in their very limited 'heads' cannot be there?? My God this is the mother of all arrogance! We are just like gold fishes in a silver goblet on a table by the window in a down town Manhattan apartment. Even the cleverest of us 'gold fish' with triple digit IQ cannot be expected to know the ways and by-ways in New York, the twist and turns of its million streets, let alone read the mind of President Obama.
"And if all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea, with seven more seas to help it, (were ink), the words of Allah could not be exhausted. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise. Your creation and your raising (from the dead) are only as (the creation and the raising of) a single soul. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Knower. Hast thou not seen how Allah causeth the night to pass into the day and causeth the day to pass into the night, and hath subdued the sun and the moon (to do their work), each running unto an appointed term; and that Allah is aware of what ye do? That (is so) because Allah, He is the True, and that which they invoke beside Him is the False, and because Allah, He is the Sublime, the Great."
Surah Luqman, 31 : 27-30
That "false God" that Allah is alluding to is modern man's present insolent arrogance to our 'akal', intellect. 'What I cannot see ,cannot measure and cannot perceive is not there'.
You and I know that this universe is an ever expanding universe composing of billions of gallaxies and the diameter from one extreme end of light to the furthest extreme end of light is a couple of billion light years away!!
So why this very selective myopia then??
There are a million mysteries science cannot explain, and just because the present Muslims now cannot put EVOLUTION on the plate for you to understand, you cannot say yes to Allah!!!
I would like to resort back to my expletives but since you are my good friend and today is Eidil Adzha, I say 'Maaf, Zahir Batin' to you. Come over to my place and and join me for 'Nasi Dagang', for all of us are just transient visitors on this planet. Our final station ,insyaallah, is Jannatul Firdaus.
Insyaallah, with His guidance and blessing, all of us will be OK.
Dr Nik Howk:
PS: If you are still not convinced,
Surf Prof Mahdi's lecture on audio. He was a quantum physicist who retired some years ago in Malaysia and founded the Khalifah movement.
He 'saw' Allah in Quantum physics. He is the man for you.
Sadly he died several years ago of pancreatic cancer.