How to address doubts in islam.
We often come across numerous attacks against islam, whether related to belief or the shariah. Sometimes it may seem incredibly difficult or overwhelming for Muslims to address these numerous criticisms.
Evolution, divine authority of the Quran, Prophet’s (saw) number of wives, age of Aisha (ra), Hudud, hijab, halal meat, belief in God, problem of evil etc etc.
Do I need to be an aalim? Do I have to study a number of years to learn Arabic? Do they have a point in their criticism?
From my experience doubts are not necessarily dealt with by learning Arabic in order to access the Islamic texts directly. I’ve also come across Muslims who have studied numerous years at various Islamic institutions who have some nagging doubts (some even apostatised). So the issue isn’t increasing knowledge per se but in my view it’s addressing four key concepts.
If these four points are clearly understood then every other criticism can easily be addressed back to at least one of these four points.
What are these four points?
1. Role of the mind.
This is a central concept and has impact on the other three concepts too. To understand how to use ones mind, what is rational thought, what is and isn’t a valid contention, what are the limits of the mind and what are the different methodologies of thinking would answer a number of contentions and create a surety in ones belief.
Eg scientists indicate that evolution is true. The Quran states that Adam (as) didn’t have parents and didn’t evolve. How do we reconcile these apparent contradictions? Well if we understand that science is an inductive process, meaning we go from various limited number of observations towards a generalised conclusion, then we can understand that science doesn’t establish definite conclusions but conclusions based on the available observations with the possibility that new realities may fundamentally change these theories.
So even the best established scientific theories can be overturned hence we have a conflict between an indefinite probable conclusion with a definite conclusive statement in the Quran as such the Quran would supersede our view on science.
Similarly when people talk about the incredulity of the prophet’s (saw) night journey here it’s not a logical impossibility but an impossibility for humans to do. Thus there’s no fundamental intellectual contradiction in accepting the night journey. It’s not like we are affirming a squared circle.
2. Proof for the existence of Allah swt.
Being clear as to why we believe that Allah swt exists. That doesn’t mean we need to understand how Allah swt exists as we can never comprehend that. Eg why did God create us is a question that supersedes the role of our mind (going back to point 1).
The rational proofs are clear succinct and numerous for the existence of Allah swt. Most if not all contentions fall into the mistake of point 1. Ie not knowing the role of the mind. Affirming the existence of Allah swt also allows us to understand that fundamentally the naturalistic world cannot be explained except by a non naturalistic explanation. And as such non naturalistic events are perfectly within the capability of Allah swt ie miracles.
3. Proof for the Quran’s divine origin.
This could also be rephrased as the proof for the messengership of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
Again understanding and being clear as to why we believe, in a categorical way, that the Quran is the word of Allah swt.
There’s numerous arguments from the linguistic miracle of the Quran, the life of the prophet (saw) the testimonial evidence of the experts in Arabic language and the prophesies found within the Quran and the sunnah. Adding the various arguments together gives a super clear picture that the Quran has a clear divine origin.
With that if someone tries to cast doubt on the preservation of the Quran then this can be answered by the Quran itself which states it is preserved. And this statement can be taken as a definite textual evidence for its lack of corruption. As the all knowing creator who authored the Quran states it will never be corrupted.
4. Morality cannot be known without the Islamic texts.
If you take morality independent to any divine anchoring then it’ll be subject. Yes atheists will claim morality but ultimately they have no basis to determine moral acts. Those that try and argue x is moral or immoral end up adopting a criteria that has no ontological basis. You can easily argue from their basis the opposite and demonstrate its inconsistent application. You can even question why they’ve adopted that basis and you’ll find that they have no actual argument for it.
So when they say islam states this and it’s immoral don’t simply accept their moral criteria. Question it, demonstrate its inconsistency and contradictory application and explain how time and place demonstrates how at one time something may have been considered moral but is no longer moral now and vice versa.
Having these four fundamental concepts is the foundation of belief in my opinion and helps to reduce all doubts to one of these four concepts.
Yes adding Islamic knowledge to these four points can make it easier to explain islam to doubters. But that’s building on a foundation. Hence why you can have a person who studied islam to a high level but because they don’t understand the role of the mind begin to doubt the night journey, or if they don’t understand morality may doubt the necessity to apply the hudud etc.
So in summary.
1. Role of the mind
2. Proof for Allah’s existence
3. Proof of Quran and messengership of the prophet (saw)
4. Morality known only through the Islamic texts.
Sort these out and inshallah everything else will be sorted.