Humanity has always been on a pathway to develop its consciousness.
As intellectual beings, rationalising our being is an innate characteristic that defines us from other species. The cognitive revolution, 70,000 years ago came about because of this very distinctive nature of humans. To understand the world around us and to discover the rules that guide the natural world, humans have always been on a revolution of removing ignorance. Through this process of rationalisation, the ultimate goal of humanity has been to improve our levels of consciousness, towards a life of meaning and purpose.
Rationality is man’s greatest strength.
For humanity to raise its consciousness, we must be able to comprehend what it is we are striving to achieve. Rationalising or explaining something with reason and logic is consequently important. Without rationality we are unable to strengthen our beliefs. We cannot differentiate between right and wrong or between truth and falsehood. The ability to reason, to align our thoughts, and justify our actions is fundamental. Considering that humanity is an ocean of complexity, meaningfully understanding the facts of our reality is necessary. Through historical enlightenment and the age of reason, we have come to the understanding that everything needs to stand up to the scrutiny of rationalisation.
With a higher consciousness, we act more consciously.
Over the past six million years, human evolution has experienced a rapid growth in consciousness and the incredible ability to reason in a way no other species on Earth can. Rationality leads us to strive for a positive impact that affects not only ourselves but also entire humanity. We strive to be the best for the world, rather than the best in the world. We become conscious of social values and issues that plague the world, such as those related to the environment, justice, and equality. Although one might argue that the complex layers of human goals and value systems do not always result in making a correct choice, the ability to reason is in itself a fundamental mechanism by which we can constantly learn, grow and evolve.
The rationality of religion
Religion is a system of beliefs and practices that provide humanity with the ultimate means to improve their levels of consciousness. Every religion, in its purest form, establishes values and sacred traditions that are directed towards improving our way of life and establishing a living connection with the Creator of this universe – God. We are taught the purpose of our life and how to live a life worth living. It helps us develop an ethical framework that justifies our day-to-day actions, building the character of its followers to emulate the Divine Attributes. Consequently, religion helps develop values that improve our levels of consciousness. Through religion, believers are taught conscious ways to develop love, empathy, respect, and harmony.
Is there a need to rationalise religion?
When it comes to religion, followers of that religion must be able to believe in it wholeheartedly. For a religion to hold any merit, it must provide rationale and conceivable proof of its truthfulness. Every religion must be able to justify its teachings. This is necessary for its believers to be able to develop spirituality. Without a rational understanding of religion, a living connection with God is impossible. If our foundations are not grounded or justified, then what we practice would just be superficial at best. Religious conviction should not be grounded in blindly accepting dogma or scriptures, but need to be understood by logical reasoning.
Faith and logic must be able to coincide.
Many religions claim that having faith is enough, that being able to understand faith does not really matter. However, no religion with any element of irrationality should be acceptable to the conscience of man. It is not enough just to have ‘faith’, without being able to understand why we have faith. Our belief in God cannot be substantiated without this. Unless we understand why we do something, we cannot understand the importance of that action or the effect that action will have on our lives. Increasing our levels of consciousness requires that we are able to justify our actions.
Is reason alone sufficient?
Reason alone has never been sufficient to attain certainty in anything, it has always required objective support. We have always been required to substantiate our observations and theories of this world based on various means of investigation. This means that we explore nature, study the universe, and apply scientific methods to make sense of the world around us. Reason supported by repeated investigation enables us to attain objective truth.
How do we rationalise religion?
Islam teaches that like any other hypothesis, belief in God should also be substantiated by objective empirical evidence and a true religion should be able to furnish this. Islam also teaches that the method of investigation must suit the nature of what we are investigating. Thus it is only fair to assume that man-made material modes of experimentation cannot be used to prove the existence of an All-Encompassing, Infinite, Higher-Being.
Does religion transcend rationality?
As a species, we are limited in our human experience. Just beyond our veil of perception, rich and complex universal truths exist. Although most of this universe is deterministic and measurable, there are an abundance of theories and phenomena that exist as logical fallacies. Theories like quantum mechanics, or other scientific phenomena like gravity or radio waves; we use reason to prove their existence, using an appropriate method of evidence that is dependent on their nature. Similarly, to prove the existence of God, we must be able to use a method of investigation that is dependent on the nature of God. It must be a method that is not reliant on our subjective perceptions and must be based on objective proof.
This method is called Revelation.
We must be able to directly communicate with God. For a religion to be truthful, we must be able to converse with its Creator. Through Divine revelation, God makes Himself known and conveys miraculous knowledge that would otherwise remain unknown. Historically, revelation has always been a way of communication between God and those closest to him, such as past prophets. These past prophets were given direct guidance in the form of revelation from God, but over time, people have distorted this guidance because of different interpretations or interpolations that have occurred over centuries. In that regard, The Holy Quran is the only form of revelation, which was preserved in its exact form and remains unchanged.
The Holy Quran is crucial to rationalise religion.
Faith is not an excuse for the absence of evidence. To understand religion, its followers must have logical law and commandments and codes for social and moral behaviour, which are based on comprehensive reasoning. This guidance for humankind is compiled in the Holy Quran, which contains all evidence for its truthfulness based on rational, irrefutable arguments. Faith, by definition, is not rational, but belief in a religion requires that every aspect of ‘faith’ must be supported by justification and logic. The Holy Quran demonstrates its origin from a Divine source, by providing its readers with an understanding that remains as the greatest revolution known to humanity.
The Holy Quran does not shy away from presenting itself to the merciless scrutiny of rationality.
In today’s modern society, those who have the means for research and education may be able to discover some universal truths. However, the Holy Quran stands as a miraculous revelation from God that has explained mysterious of the past, present, and future. It miraculously speaks to every person’s conscience because it is revealed according to human nature, which in turn helps every individual nurture his or her faculties – no other religious scripture is able to do this. In the Holy Quran, Almighty God details numerous scientific miracles that were clearly revealed more than 14 centuries, long before modern-day scientists started discovering them. The Holy Quran also establishes law and commandments for social and moral behaviour. It explains concepts of human nature, psychology, or even societal principles like justice and equality.
However, with all these claims, the Quran repeatedly urges the reader to arrive at their own conclusions using their own intellect and reasoning through critical thinking. Throughout the Quran, the reader is reminded to “reflect”, “ponder” and think for themselves about what is presented in the Quran and its relevance as the word of God. Not everyone can be a recipient of direct revelation from God – that is wholly dependent on his or her capacity and aptitude, and according to the Will of God; however, every individual can benefit from the Holy Quran.
Revelation aids the rationalising of religion.
When one follows the teachings of the Holy Quran, our soul is purified as we achieve higher levels of consciousness, and establish a true relationship with God. Gradually, in our spiritual journey, God, in turn, manifests Himself through the acceptance of our prayers and recognition of our actions. The Holy Quran is crucial for developing a relationship with God because it is the only credible objective means through which someone can enjoy a living relationship with God. According to Islam, the Holy Quran is the ultimate objective standard, which everyone can follow at their own pace.
Fundamentally, the Holy Quran is an objective proof for the existence of God which can be equally tested empirically by every individual. It rationalises religion and enables one to make sense of faith by providing means to increase our levels of consciousness.
Rationality and religion have always existed hand in hand.
Historically, the emphasis for the pursuit of knowledge, or rationality, came about through religion. The role of rationality was so ‘powerfully highlighted that religious belief and rationality became synonymous.’ Many have tried to gain knowledge of God through their unaided reason, or subjective intuition. However, the Lord of all the Worlds has taught us exactly how we should seek to rationalise Him and His religion, through the Holy Quran.