Fresh Lines
Is intellect the last standard? Part 1
  taleemul islam
  February 6, 2019

By: Allama Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani /

Why Islamisation?

A question arises as to why we want to adopt the Islamic way of life and want to mould the laws of the country into the Islamic pattern when the Islamic teachings go back to a period fourteen centuries back or even more than that.

Allah has granted us Intellect

In this connection a relevant question arises. How should secular state or a state not based on any religious principles conduct its affairs? This question is replied to by saying that we do possess intellect, we have also the facilities of observation and experience which may help us decide as to what are our needs and the demands of life in the present conditions of the world by meeting which we can make the wheels of government revolve peacefully and safely. We may indeed have to effect changes and amendments in the system of government, as and when needed. Thus can we follow the path of peace and prosperity?

Is intellect the last standard?

In a secular system of government Intellect, Observation and Experience have been taken as the final standard to rely upon. We have now to find out how efficient is really this standard. Can this standard be as effective and efficient as to guide humanity till the Day of Judgment? Can this so-called standard based on intellect, observation and experience alone, prove sufficient and effective for human life?

Sources of Knowledge

 In order to find out an answer to this question we must realize the truth that no system of life can work successfully, unless it has at its back a treasure of knowledge to propel it onwards. It should also be noted at this stage that Almighty Allah has bestowed on man certain sources of knowledge, each source possessing a specific jurisdiction but beyond this jurisdiction it becomes in-effective.

The Jurisdiction of the Five Senses

It may be mentioned, as an example that the first of these sources for acquiring knowledge are the five senses, viz., the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, etc. Man is able to acquire knowledge about many things by using his eyesight, by tasting things with the tongue, by smelling things with the nose, by hearing words with the ears and by touching objects with his hands. However, each of these sources of knowledge which fall within the jurisdiction of observation has a limit of its own beyond which it can do nothing. For example, the eye can see but it cannot hear; the ear can hear but it cannot see; the nose can smell but it cannot see. If there is a man who desires to use each of these organs for a function for which it has not been created by Allah, that man shall be taken by the world to be a fool, for being ignorant of the functions of these organs.

The second source of knowledge is the Intellect

As already mentioned, the working limits of these five senses reach a boundary which they cannot cross. At this stage, neither of these senses is effective. This is the stage at which, knowledge of things cannot be acquired through observation. To meet this challenge, Almighty Allah has bestowed upon us another source of knowledge and that is the Intellect which helps man to acquire knowledge where the Five Senses become ineffective and helpless. For example, there is a table lying before me. I can know its color by seeing it with the eyes. I can know by touching it with my hands that it is made of hard wood and is covered with Formica. Yet, none of these senses helps me to know how this table came into existence, because the process of its manufacture did not take place before me. I such a situation my Intellect guides me by suggesting to me that such a finely finished object cannot come into existence by itself. Some expert artisan has made this beautiful table and he is the expert carpenter. It is my Intellect that has taught me that the table was made by carpenter. It is thus proved that my Intellect came to my help when my five senses left me helpless.

The Jurisdiction of the Intellect

It should however, be noted that just as the Jurisdiction of the Five senses is limited in the same way the jurisdiction of the Intellect is also limited. The Intellect, too helps man to a certain limit, then leaves him helpless, as if cannot go beyond the limit of its jurisdiction in providing guidance to man.

The third source of knowledge is Divine Revelation 

Almighty Allah has granted man another source of knowledge to help and guide him where his Intellect leaves him helpless. That source is Divine Revelation, meaning provision of knowledge to man by Allah through heavenly revelation. This source of knowledge starts from the place where the jurisdiction of the Intellect fails. Thus to try to use the Intellect in the presence of Divine Revelation is just like trying to see things by the ,ears instead of by the eyes and so on so forth. It does not mean that the Intellect is a useless faculty. No, it is highly serviceable, rather indispensable to man but within its jurisdiction and not beyond that.

The difference between Islam and Secularism

The difference between Islamic and secular system of life lies that in the secular system the process of knowledge comes to an end after reaching the limits of the first two sources, viz. the five senses and the Intellect as there is no third source of knowledge available to propel the secular system onwards. As against this, Islam claims that there exists another source of knowledge for you and that is the Divine Revelation.

The need for Divine Revelation

We have not to see how far this claim of Islam holds good in our contemporary world that the Intellect cannot guide man to acquire knowledge and guidance without any limit and in all circumstances, but the world stands in need of Prophets and Messengers of Allah and revealed Books.

The Intellect is a Deceptive Faculty

In these times great emphasis is being laid on the Intellectual Faculty (or Rationalism) and it is said that every decision should be taken after considering the pros and cons of every problem in the light of Rationalism. However, this Rationalism does not possess a set formula or fixed principles to provide universal truths, acceptable to all men, to serve as an infallible standard to judge what is right and what is wrong, what is to be adopted and what is to be rejected. If we leave this decision to the dictates of Intellect we are liable to commit devastating faults. Just turn the pages of history to find out for yourself how grievously and fatally the faculty of Intellect has misguided humanity into destruction and deluge. I cite below a few instances from the pages of history.

To marry one's own sister is not against Intellect

About eight hundred years ago a sect sprang up in the Islamic World under the name of the 'Batini' or the "Qararnitia" sect Ubaiduallah Bin Hasan Qirwani was one of its renowned leaders. He wrote an interesting letter to his followers about how they should lead their lives. He writes:

“The People have in their households a beautiful and well-behaved girl in the person of a sister who is well acquainted with the temperament and psychology of her brother, but this fool gives her hand in marriage to a stranger, without knowing whether or not the couple would pull on with each other peacefully and willingly. As for himself, be brings a wife who is much inferior to his sister in beauty, behavior, adaptability and considerateness. I fail to understand why one should hand over the wealth of one's own household to a stranger and bring to one's own household a girl who cannot provide her mate with the desired peace and comfort. This is a sheer folly. This is against wisdom. I therefore, advise my followers to shun this folly and preserve the wealth of their household in its original place.” (Al-Farq lil Baghdadi, p. 297 and Bayanul Mazahibul Batinya, Lil Dalimi p.81)



The sister and sexual satisfaction

At another place the same Ubaidullah Bin Hasan Qirwani conveys the following message to his followers on the basis of wisdom: 

"When a sister can prepare food for her brother to satisfy his hunger, wash his clothes, arrange his bedding and provide him with other comforts why can she not satisfy his sexual urge also? This is indeed against wisdom." (ibid)


Impossible to repudiate this argument with the help of the Intellect 

However, vehemently you may curse this man; you will not be able to repudiate his arguments till the Day of Judgment with pure intellect that is devoid of Divine revelation.

This is not immoral from the Intellectual point of view 

If a man says that this is grossly immoral, grievously disgustful, this may be repudiated by saying that this feeling of immorality and disgust is the result of the prevailing social trends and customs: You have been born and are living in a society where this is considered as something very repulsive and hateful, otherwise in the eyes of the intellect this is not at all disgustful.

Preservation of genealogy offers no intellectual argument

 if you say that this practice vitiates the genealogical line, this may be repudiated by saying that there is no harm in this. The idea of reserving the genealogical lineage is not based on any intellectual principle.

This too is a part of the Human urge

 if you say in reply to this argument that this is harmful medically, because research has established that the system of Incest (sexual relations between close relations) is medically harmful.

Are you aware that books are being published today in the Western world that Incest is a part of the natural human urge; and it is not correct to say that it is harmful medically. Not only is this an echo of the same slogan which Ubaidullah bin Hasan Qairwani had raised eight hundred years ago, but it is now being actually practiced in the western countries.

The result of freedom from Divine Revelation 

Why is all this happening? It is because we are trying to use the Intellect in matters which lie beyond its jurisdiction and in which the Divine Revelation alone can provide guidance. The result of releasing the Intellect from the grip of the Divine Revelation may be seen in the fact that the British Parliament has passed the law of legalizing homosexuality under the thump of clapping. 

And now this vice has become a regular science, once I happened to visit a library in New York. I found there a separate section devoted to literature on the subject, "Gay style of life". A 1qge number of books have been published on this subject and many associations are working for this under the auspices of persons holding high positions. The then Mayor of New York was also a Gap.




The next article:
The Deception of the Intellect

Source: Islahi Khutbat-Discourses on Islamic Way of Life, V1 /