Humans Have been given the Ability to Think and Free Will
“I do not feel obligated to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, has intended us to forgo their use.”
This is what father of modern science Galileo had said on his excommunication. He was the first to discover that the earth rotated round the Sun and not vice versa. The Christian religious circle considered it heresy as to them his discovery proved the Scripture false. But Galileo’s position was that he had discovered the truth through the use of his intellect, sense and reason and he could not forgo their use as God had given him these qualities to use them to find the truth.
Interestingly, this is the position held by the Quran. The Quran says that God has given man intellect, reason and sense to use it to ponder over the universe and nature and on his own physical existence to discover the truth about the Existence. In the Quran, God says that he keeps those with knowledge in high esteem.
Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. (Al Mujadila: 11)
The verse can be interpreted in this way that God elevates the ranks of two categories of people. One, those who have faith in one God and, two, those who have been given knowledge. In the world, we find that people who did not have faith in one God or in Islamic God were still given knowledge by God.
In this verse, God does not say that only those who believe (in Him) will be given knowledge or more clearly, only Muslims will be given knowledge. The two sentences are joined by and which suggests that God will raise by degrees those who believe and those who have been given knowledge.
There have been thousands of scientists in every field of science. These men of knowledge have been raised by God by degrees because of the knowledge God has given to them irrespective of whether they believed in Him or not in the dogmatic sense. Einstein also said that he believed in the Supreme Power that drove the universe but did not believe in any personal god.
The Quran also says on a number of occasions that man should use his intellect and ponder over the universe and on nature. God also says that he opens the door of knowledge and wisdom to those who do ponder and use their intellect.
God says that no human being or terrestrial creature can acquire any bit of knowledge without His will. Therefore, the knowledge scientists, both Muslim and non-Muslim have can be said to be special gift from God.
And it is not for any human being that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a partition or that He sends a messenger to reveal, by His permission, what He wills. Indeed, He is Most High and Wise. (As Shura: 51)
Moreover, by Ilm (knowledge), Quran does not mean only the knowledge of the Quran and Hadith and of Islamic jurisprudence or the laws of Nikah and Talaq, but by Ilm, the Quran means all the knowledge including scientific knowledge as God says in the Quran that he gave Noah the knowledge to build the ark and David the knowledge of making weapons of war from iron. He also gave Joseph the knowledge of administration and so on. Many scientific discoveries or revolutionary ideas came to the scientists intuitionally.
God also says, He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. (Al Baqarah: 269)
In this verse also God does not say that he will give wisdom only to those who believe in Him but to whomsoever He wills and God also says that those given wisdom are blessed people.
Thus, from a careful and keen reading of the Quran, it becomes clear that scientists and thinkers who have been gifted with a high intellect and intuitive mind are also Gods chosen people who explore the universe and the secrets of Existence. They use their intellect and wisdom given by God to find the truth. The Quran does not ask men to be stagnant intellectually and does not want a society where human beings will act like robots whose remote will be in the hands of a ruler. God has given humans the choice to decide their fate and also to acquire their place in this universe by the use of intellect and free will. Humans have been given the authority to do good or bad deeds according to their own will. They should not be made a slave to the system.
Aftab Ahmad is a columnist for New Age Islam. He has been studying the Holy Quran for some time.
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