Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Those who have gone astray...

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, noted scholar of Islam, suggests that those who have gone astray are those who fail to use their intelligence correctly:

"This is not the place to analyse fully the Arabic word al-'aql which means both reason and intellect and although used to mean reason is also what binds us to God. In fact one of the meanings of the root 'aql is to tie or to bind. The Quran calls those who have gone astray from religion as those who cannot intellect, 'la ya'qilun, those who cannot use their intelligence correctly. It is very significant that the loss of faith is equated in Quranic language not with corruption of the will but with the improper functioning of intelligence.

Herein lies one of the major distinctions between the Islamic and Christian points of view, one that makes it difficult for many Westerners to understand the nature of the Islamic perspective. Christianity is essentially a mystery which veils the Divine from man. The beauty of Christianity lies in the acceptance of God as a mystery and in bowing before this mystery, in believing in the unknown as St. Augustine said. In Islam, however, it is man who is veiled from God. The Divine Being is not veiled from us, we are veiled from Him and it is for us to try to rend this veil asunder, to try to know God. Our intelligence is not a Luciferian faculty but a God-given instrument whose ultimate object is God Himself. Islam is thus essentially a way of knowledge; it is a way of gnosis (ma'rifah). It is based on gnosis or direct knowledge that however cannot by any means be equated with rationalism which is only an indirect and secondary form f knowledge. Islam leads to that essential knowledge which integrates our being, which makes us know what we are and be what we know or in other words integrates knowledge and being in the ultimate unitive vision of Reality."
(Ideals and Realities of Islam, 1967, p. 21-22)

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