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Salaam, Shalom, Peace, all my lovelies. It’s been a long time since I wrote an exhaustive post laced with the garbage my mind spews. I understand this, and I apologise. I am fully aware of the world’s incessant need for more garbage. Without this garbage, how would all the binmen put food on the table? Its the cycle of life. I have no clue where this metaphor is going, or even if it classifies as one, I just fully appreciate that its terrible. Let’s move on.

To calm any nerves, or any excitement; this week’s post will be a collection of excerpts from Dr Illama Iqbal’s work, ‘ The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’. This is a nauseatingly brilliant read. Although without a Masters in Philosophy, it can be difficult to fully appreciate. But its important to note, I don’t have a Masters in any subject, but nonetheless humbled by this man’s genius. May Allah (swt) reward him, where reward is due.

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I. Knowledge and Religious Experience

”When attracted by the forces around him, man has the power to shape and direct them; when thwarted by them, he has the capacity to build a much vaster world in the depths of his own inner being, wherein he discovers sources of infinite joy and inspiration.”

”Hard his (man’s) lot and frail his being, like a rose-leaf, yet no form of reality is so powerful, so inspiring, and so beautiful as the spirit of man! Thus in his inmost being man, as conceived by the Quran, is a creative activity, an ascending spirit who, in his onward march, rises from one state of being to another.”

II. The Conception of God and The Meaning of Prayer

”Man’s first act of disobedience was also his first act of free choice; and that is why, according to the Quranic narration, Adam’s first transgression was forgiven. Now goodness is not a matter of compulsion; it is the self’s free surrender to the moral ideal.”

”… for the freedom to choose good involves also the freedom to choose what is the opposite of good. That God has taken this risk shows His immense faith in man; it is for man now to justify this faith.”

”The real object of prayer, however, is better achieved when the act of prayer becomes congregational. The spirit of all true prayer is social… A congregation is an association of men who, animated by the same aspiration, concentrate themselves on a single object and open up their inner selves to the working of a single impulse. It is a psychological truth that association multiplies the normal man’s power of perception, deepens his emotion, and dynamizes his will to a degree unknown to him in the privacy of his individuality.”

III. Is Religion Possible?

”… religious life may be divided into three periods… Faith, Thought and Discovery. In the first period religious life appears as a form of discipline which the individual or a whole people must accept as an unconditional command without any rational understanding of the ultimate meaning and purpose of that command… Perfect submission to discipline is followed by a rational understanding of the discipline and the ultimate source of its authority. In this period religious life seeks its foundation in a kind of metaphysics – logically consistent view of the world with God as a part of that view. In the third period metaphysics is displaced by psychology and religious life develops the ambition to come into direct contact with the ultimate Reality. It is here that religion becomes a matter of personal assimilation of life and power; and the individual achieves a free personality, not by releasing himself from the fetters of the law, but by discovering the ultimate source of the law within the depths of his own consciousness”

”It is only by rising to a fresh vision of his origin and future, his whence and whither, that man will eventually triumph over a society motivated by an inhuman competition, and a civilization which has lost its spiritual unity by its inner conflict of religious and political values.”

”Mohammed, we are told, was a psychopath. Well, if a psychopath has the power to give a fresh direction to the course of human history, it is a point of the highest psychological interest to search his original experience which has turned slaves into leaders of men, and has inspired the conduct and shaped the career of whole races of mankind.”

IV. The Human Ego – His Freedom and Immortality

”The timing of the daily prayer which, according to Quran, restores “self-possession” to the ego by bringing it into closer touch with the ultimate source of life and freedom, is intended to save the ego from the mechanizing effects of sleep and business. Prayer in Islam is the ego’s escape from mechanism to freedom.”

”Heaven and Hell are states, not localities. Their descriptions in the Quran are visual representations of an inner fact, i.e., character. Hell, in the words of the Quran, is “God’s kindled fire which mounts above the hearts” – the painful realization of one’s failure as a man. Heaven is the joy of triumphp over the forces of disintegration. There is no such thing as eternal damnation in Islam. The word “eternity” used in certain verses, relating to Hell, is explained by the Quran itself to mean only a period of time.”

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Insha’Allah it was of some benefit, and if you have time, do look into his work. There is ample to learn and take in, especially if Quranic epistemology is of interest. For another week, Salaam and peace to all of you.