Showing posts with label the Unseen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the Unseen. Show all posts

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Islam, Jesus, & the Cross

'And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. There is not one of the People of the Scripture but will believe in him before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them -' (4:157-159)

Qur'an al Kerim denies here an important topic in Christianity: The Crucifixion of Jesus. What thoughts may this lead to?

Here's a quotation of Wikipedia, which mentions the best known Muslim replies to questions about Jesus' crucifixion:

'The issue of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus (Isa) is rejected by most Muslims, but similar to Christians they believe that Jesus ascended to heaven and will return before the end of time. Most Muslims believe Jesus was not crucified, but was raised bodily to heaven by God. The general Islamic view supporting the denial of crucifixion was possibly influenced by Manichaenism (Docetism), which holds that someone else was crucified instead of Jesus, while concluding that Jesus will return during the end-times.[1]:41

Depending on the interpretation of the following verse, Muslim scholars have abstracted different opinions. Some believe that in the Biblical account, Jesus's crucifixion did not last long enough for him to die, while others opine that God gave someone Jesus's appearance or someone else replaced Jesus and the executioners thought the victim was Jesus, causing everyone to believe that Jesus was crucified. A third explanation could be that Jesus was nailed to a cross, but as his soul is immortal he did not "die" or was not "crucified" [to death]; it only appeared so (this view is rare). In opposition to the second and third foregoing proposals, yet others maintain that God does not use deceit and therefore they contend that crucifixion just did not occur.'

Islam may have a 1 - 0 setback behind Christianity, because the Crucifixion is a well-documented event, with many witnesses. Even though not all their stories fully match. But any police officer can explain us, that this is a classic issue of eye witness accounts: Contradictions. On one topic, there's no contradiction: many people were witness of Jesus' death on the cross; the empty grave next day; his appearances later; his ascension to heaven. His followers died for this story at the hands of authorities who couldn't believe their story.

What would be my suggestion? How to deal with this difference between Bible and Qur'an?

We are nearly twenty centuries later now. We notice a difference between both stories, but in all honesty, we can't explain it. We have no forensic evidence. I'd say, there's only one possible attitude: 

Do not judge.

It's one word against the other. It's very well possible, there's been a switch of men, just before captivity. Allah swt is the almighty and is most sure capable to introduce a stand-in. This may be anyone, even an angel. We also know, Qur'an al Kerim contains verses of unspecific meaning, as is mentioned in verse 3:7. It is possible to believe, that indeed Jesus didn't die at the cross. None of us know for sure, what exactly happened. Both Bible and Qur'an give reports of miraculous events. It's not up to us to dismiss them without evidence. And evidence, we don't have -- in the scientific, forensic sense of the word. Qur'an al Kerim doesn't give enough detail to give a scientific report of events. Shouldn't that be enough to abstain from filling in gaps.

There's perhaps a second aspect. The Qur'anic text mentions 'they' and 'we' killed the Messiah. It could mean, that humans have no say in life and death. They lack the authority here to claim taking the life of this important messenger of Allah swt. What do Muslims think of Jesus?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Is Plato's Dialectic Dialogue Possible In Islam?

Islam does accept thinking in causality and search for explanation of phenomenons. Islam invites people to gain knowledge about any topic. However, Islam doesn't allow to self-invent and fill in unknowns, or to speculate about them without proof. If you don't know, you must simply admit that you don't know. 'Sophism', 'there's no truth and every person has their own truth', is an attitude seen as speculation without proof. Here at least, Qur'an al Kerim and Plato agree. There are many Qur'anic verses about 'the unseen', those aspects of life and the universe, that are outside observation's reach. Plato was interested in observed truth. He was interested in causal relations and the forces between different phenomenons. Those topics deserved contemplation and discussion. Exchange of views could lead to new ideas and conclusions.

My previous blog, 'Plato', mentioned a conversation about abstract topics, such as dialectics between finite and infinite, or between pleasure and wisdom. As an example, it gives a fairly good introduction to Plato's approach. Philosophic discussion was a systematic effort to explain and compare a theory, in prose. Qur'an al Kerim, however, isn't prose, it's poetry. It doesn't have the systematic structure of hypothesis - search for observed correlations - conclusion. And, it doesn't give literal quotes of specific people. For sure, there's nothing wrong, in Islam, to hold a theory built on relations between several concepts. And then, distinguish opposites, similarities, or differences between finite concepts as '30 degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit' versus infinite concepts as 'heat', 'cold'. However, Qur'an al Kerim takes their details more or less for granted. It's not the main focus of the Scripture. The Scripture does mention navigation systems, weather conditions, languages, countries, cities, and specific examples of creatures. But, it doesn't offer a calculation system; grammar rules; navigation measures, and such. Qur'an exhorts humans, however, to develop their measurement and observation systems and tools for their own use, though with an invisible backup of divine inspiration. On the other hand, Qur'an gives unambiguous texts about the one God and creator of the universe. Plato, however, sometimes mentions 'God' and sometimes, in plural, 'the gods'. Qur'an says, what we can and cannot observe, concerning God. Also this aspect is to be taken for granted by believers. It is the core of Islamic belief. If you want to believe, you can accept, that you won't be able to fully see Allah SWT. Full proof of His presence, hasn't been given to humans. For this very same reason, it isn't possible to impose belief in Allah SWT on those who reject it. You will, however, not take for granted, that you receive skills and tools to develop more tools; to use cattle, water, vegetables, and the knowledge to produce the things you need. Thinking about their consistent role in our lives, should make you thankful; these are divine gifts to us. To some extend, we've seen Plato agree with this. God is always present in Plato's dialectic dialogue, but He isn't central point of focus.

Examples of (the many) relevant Qur'anic verses are: 3:7&8; 6:97-100; 10:18-20; 16:8.

'He it is Who hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture wherein are clear revelations - they are the substance of the Book - and others (which are) allegorical. But those in whose hearts is doubt pursue, forsooth, that which is allegorical seeking (to cause) dissension by seeking to explain it. None knoweth its explanation save Allah. And those who are of sound instruction say: We believe therein; the whole is from our Lord; but only men of understanding really heed. (7) Our Lord! Cause not our hearts to stray after Thou hast guided us...' (3:7-8)

'And He it is Who hath set for you the stars that ye may guide your course by them amid the darkness of the land and the sea. We have detailed Our revelations for a people who have knowledge. (97) And He it is Who hath produced you from a single being, and (hath given you) a habitation and a repository. We have detailed Our revelations for a people who have understanding. (98) He it is Who sendeth down water from the sky, and therewith We bring forth buds of every kind; We bring forth the green blade from which We bring forth the thick-clustered grain; and from the date-palm, from the pollen thereof, spring pendant bunches; and (We bring forth) gardens of grapes, and the olive and the pomegranate, alike and unlike. Look upon the fruit thereof, when they bear fruit, and upon its ripening. Lo! herein verily are portents for a people who believe. (99) Yet they ascribe as partners unto Him the jinn, although He did create them, and impute falsely, without knowledge, sons and daughters unto Him. Glorified be He and high exalted above (all) that they ascribe (unto Him). (100)' (6:97-100)

'They worship besides Allah that which neither hurteth them nor profiteth them, and they say: These are our intercessors with Allah. Say: Would ye inform Allah of (something) that He knoweth not in the heavens or in the earth? Praised be He and high exalted above all that ye associate (with Him)! (18) Mankind were but one community; then they differed; and had it not been for a word that had already gone forth from thy Lord it had been judged between them in respect of that wherein they differ. (19) And they will say: If only a portent were sent down upon him from his Lord! Then say, (O Muhammad): The Unseen belongeth to Allah. So wait! Lo! I am waiting with you. (20)' (10:18-20)

'And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and as an adornment; and He has created things of which ye have no knowledge.' (16:8)

Sources & further reading:
Quran Explorer
Works by Plato, The Internet Archieve

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Quranic Verses about Earth: Are They Scientifically True?

The Qur'an contains many verses about the universe, Earth, creation, and life. Many philosophers, scholars, and scientists have tried to use them to either propagate or discredit the book of Islam. The first aspect that should be noticed, is that some verses deal with Earth itself as a body; its solidity; its size, compared either with our point of view as small humans, or that others deal with Earth as only a small planet in the vastness of space. Two perspectives -- therefore, two perceptions.

Qur'anic verses are brief and seemingly simple. There's a lot more to Qur'anic verses, than that superficially meets the eye: The water circulation on Earth; salt and sweet water, hence referring to material particles giving water its taste, and minerals; the relatively unchanging solidity of Earth, wherein mountains have their role; the Earth being divided in parcels and lands, also referring to continents and tectonic plates and their movements. Reference is made to the unchanging laws of nature, that allow change within their limits, yet, also to the infinity of creation in the long run, where change, eventually, doesn't really exist.

There's also a lot we can't verify, or not yet ~ we know, Earth has a limited life, yet, don't know, what will come after that. Nor do we know, what the universe originally must have looked like, yet, apparently, the universe is infinitely present. The relevant verses, are aspects of the 'Unseen', those topics closed to human observation.

People are exhorted 'to travel the land' to see what nature on Earth in its original form looks like, but also, to see what has happened to those who lived on Earth before. Humans have a task on Earth: To be worthy vicegerents in Nature.

Qur'an has many verses about Earth and nature, each applicable on certain situations, or on specific topics. Some deal with the Earth as a celestial body; others with very specific details. Hence, the different approaches to topics as East and West and the paradoxes between verses. Translations differ slightly in verses 37:5 and 70:40, yet a clear truth appears: Easts, rising places, of planets or Sun, are never the same. They differ, depending where on Earth we stand, or depending the season. This may be interpreted as reference to Earth being spheric, and to Earth having a fixed rotation, causing its different climate zones. Yet, Earth's rotation as a planet, has a constant circle, and also an unchanging angle of its surface towards the Sun's light, deciding light's intensity and, hence, climate. Truth is also, there's really no East point anywhere on a ball, or, we should see it as infinite, when we look at the overall picture. -- Yet, at each fixed point on Earth, East and West don't change: Two Easts, and two Wests, and all the points inbetween, according the day of the year. This says something about the law of nature. It dictates orbits, days, nights, and seasons.

Many topics are only mentioned in general terminology. And, perspectives change per verse; sometimes even within a verse. Sometimes, a divine perspective is chosen; sometimes, a human perspective. A text as 'And the earth have We spread out, and have flung firm hills therein ...' (50:7) shows a divine, or longterm perspective. To humans, the emerge of hills and mountains, seems a slow geographical development. Humans are small creatures with a relatively short lifespan. Seventy years, is nothing, compared with Earth's lifespan of probably nine billion years -- or compared with eternity. Time, is a relative concept, changing according perspectives. This makes Qur'an a challenge to read. But, the texts can't be dismissed as untrue, in spite of their wording that perhaps isn't used by scientists. It's the wording of popular, everyday knowledge, such as: When water starts to bubble, it cooks -- a scientist might then mention its precise temperature. And, obviously, there's Earth the planet versus earth the matter from which living creatures are created. Living creatures contain the same elements that we find in Earth. The verses aim to invite people to gather knowledge about the topics and creatures mentioned, and through knowledge, come to worship of their Creator. This blog, is only a brief beginning of a topic that many commentators have written elaborate works about.

Some quotes:

'Was not Allah's earth spacious that ye could have migrated therein?' (4:97)

'And with Him are the keys of the Invisible. None but He knoweth them. And He knoweth what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf falleth but He knoweth it, not a grain amid the darkness of the earth, naught of wet or dry but (it is noted) in a clear record. (59) He it is Who gathereth you at night and knoweth that which ye commit by day. Then He raiseth you again to life therein, that the term appointed (for you) may be accomplished. And afterward unto Him is your return. Then He will proclaim unto you what ye used to do.' (6:59,60)

'He it is Who hath placed you as viceroys of the earth and hath exalted some of you in rank above others, that He may try you by (the test of) that which He hath given you. Lo! Thy Lord is swift in prosecution, and Lo! He verily is Forgiving, Merciful.' (6:165)

'And in the Earth are neighbouring tracts, vineyards and ploughed lands, and date-palms, like and unlike, which are watered with one water. And we have made some of them to excel others in fruit. Lo! herein verily are portents for people who have sense. And if thou wonderest, then wondrous is their saying: When we are dust, are we then forsooth (to be raised) in a new creation?' (13:4)

'On the day when the earth will be changed to other than the earth, and the heavens (also will be changed) and they will come forth unto Allah, the One, the Almighty, ...' (14:48)

'And the cattle hath He created, whence ye have warm clothing and uses, and whereof ye eat; (5) And wherein is beauty for you, when ye bring them home, and when ye take them out to pasture. (6) And they bear your loads for you unto a land ye could not reach save with great trouble to yourselves. Lo! your Lord is Full of Pity, Merciful. (7) And horses and mules and asses (hath He created) that ye may ride them, and for ornament. And He createth that which ye know not.' (16:5-8)

'And He hath cast into the earth firm hills that it quake not with you, and streams and roads that ye may find a way. (15) And landmarks (too), and by the star they find a way.' (16:15)

'Who hath appointed the earth as a bed and hath threaded roads for you therein and hath sent down water from the sky and thereby We have brought forth divers kinds of vegetation, (53) (Saying): Eat ye and feed your cattle. Lo! herein verily are portents for men of thought. (54) Thereof We created you, and thereunto We return you, and thence We bring you forth a second time.' (20:53-55)

'Is not He (best) Who made the earth a fixed abode, and placed rivers in the folds thereof, and placed firm hills therein, and hath set a barrier between the two seas? Is there any God beside Allah? Nay, but most of them know not! (61) Is not He (best) Who answereth the wronged one when he crieth unto Him and removeth the evil, and hath made you viceroys of the earth? Is there any God beside Allah? Little do they reflect!' (27:60-62)

'Say (O Muhammad): Travel in the land and see how He originated creation, then Allah bringeth forth the later growth. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things.' (29:20)

'So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as a man by nature upright - the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah's creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not -' (30:30)

'Corruption doth appear on land and sea because of (the evil) which men's hands have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return. (41) Say (O Muhammad, to the disbelievers): Travel in the land, and see the nature of the consequence for those who were before you! Most of them were idolaters.' (30:41,42)

'Lord of the heavens and of the earth and all that is between them, and Lord of the sun's risings.' (37:5) (Or: 'The Lord of the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them both and the Lord of the Easts.')

'And the earth have We spread out, and have flung firm hills therein, and have caused of every lovely kind to grow thereon, (7) A vision and a reminder for every penitent slave. (8) And We send down from the sky blessed water whereby We give growth unto gardens and the grain of crops, (9) And lofty date-palms with ranged clusters, (10) Provision (made) for men; and therewith We quicken a dead land. Even so will be the resurrection of the dead.' (50:7-11)

'Lord of the two Easts, and Lord of the two Wests!' (55:17)

'O company of jinn and men, if ye have power to penetrate (all) regions of the heavens and the earth, then penetrate (them)! Ye will never penetrate them save with (Our) sanction. (33) Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?' (55:33,34)

'Thou (Muhammad) canst see no fault in the Beneficent One's creation; then look again: Canst thou see any rifts?' (67:3)

'But nay! I swear by the Lord of the rising-places and the setting-places of the planets' or 'Yet no, I swear by The Lord of the Easts and the Wests' (70:40)

'Let man consider his food: (24) How We pour water in showers (25) Then split the earth in clefts (26) And cause the grain to grow therein (27) And grapes and green fodder (28) And olive-trees and palm-trees (29) And garden-closes of thick foliage (30) And fruits and grasses: (31) Provision for you and your cattle.' (80:25-32)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Jesus and Trinity

Many of the World's religions, have, at least, some kind of monotheistic view on God, but it's a complicated multiplicity. God may have several personifications or manifestations, even when only one and the same god and creator is referred to. People have tried it, but haven't found out, whether their definition or concept was right. I'll try to give some kind of comparative parable and start with Christianity.

The Bible defines God as one true god, made up of three individuals: God the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Here's a compilation of relevant Biblical verses: Genesis 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Colossians 1:15-17; Colossians 2:9; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 44:6; John 1:14; John 10:30; John 10:30-36; John 14:9-11; John 14:16-17;  1 John 5:7-8; Luke 1:35; Luke 3:21-22; Matthew 1:23; Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19; Romans 14:17-18; 1 Peter 1:1-2; Ephesians 4:4-6; and Philippians 2:5-8. God the Son, the Lord Jesus, wasn't just Prophet Jesus during his lifetime. The Bible says, there's 'one God, the Father from whom all things came and for whom we live', and there's 'one Lord, Jesus Christ, from whom all things came and for whom we live':

'For there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are in agreement.'
(1 John 5:7-8)

'I and the Father are one.' (John 10:30)

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’[a]? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?' (John 10:30-36)

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

According Christianity, Jesus now sits at God the Father's right hand, next to His throne:

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:50-51)

(He) who has gone into heaven and xis at the right hand of God, ywith angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (Peter: 3:22)

If I may take some liberty, while avoiding dogmatism ~ I'd say, Christian Trinity may best be explained as the devine force, the devine wisdom, and the devine creation, if we see devine creation as perpetual matter, and God as living and working within creation, with His wisdom. In this case, it's impossible to separate God, devine force, and devine creation from each other. The Son, the Father, and the holy Spirit are the same and forever. Also Jesus is forever, and, also today, very much alive. For me, it makes sense to see Jesus as creation as a whole, the universe. Then, also Eucharist makes sense, because the bread and the wine are part of Jesus, as much as is the rest of creation.

Jesus will return, says the Bible, and at His arrival, Resurrection starts:

'For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.' (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

'... and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.' (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)

Islam doesn't recognize Trinity. Islam sees God as the perpetual creative force behind creation and the holy Spirit. This, because creation is a systematic structure of separate items, each with a temporary lifespan; they all are, directly or indirectly, made by God, even if people, or other creatures, function as productive intermediaries. They are God's protected property. God doesn't resemble creation in any way imaginable. To humans, and other creatures, creation and the holy spirit are tools, and a tool has to answer to God the same way as that humans have to.  Qur'an looks at creation as Allah SWT's immediate property, directly linked to Him. Thus, it's not possible to worship creation. Creatures are created to serve, not worship, each other. Reality is, that people are inclined to worship one item, or a person in creation, as a God, or manifestation of God. This would injustly favor one creature over other creatures, or a human-made concept, and that would create chaos, unjustified competition that's bound to be lost by the human-made god figure, or distortion. It would cause a wound to it all. Jesus was elavated alive, towards Allah, in heaven, without being crucified. Note well, that Jesus, Isa, is the only living prophet, now. The Holy Spirit is God's wisdom, which is revealed in the scriptures, including Qur'an; to the prophets, including Mohammad; and to the faithful. Qur'an al Kerim says:

'Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.' (2:255)

'And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. There is not one of the People of the Scripture but will believe in him before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them -' (4:157-159)

'O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender. The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave unto Allah, nor will the favoured angels. Whoso scorneth His service and is proud, all such will He assemble unto Him; ...' (4:171-172)

'They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers. They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. Will they not rather turn unto Allah and seek forgiveness of Him? For Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away! Say: Serve ye in place of Allah that which possesseth for you neither hurt nor use? Allah it is Who is the Hearer, the Knower. Say: O People of the Scripture! Stress not in your religion other than the truth, and follow not the vain desires of folk who erred of old and led many astray, and erred from a plain road.' (5:72-77)

'Say: The holy Spirit hath revealed it from thy Lord with truth, that it may confirm (the faith of) those who believe, and as guidance and good tidings for those who have surrendered (to Allah). (102) And We know well that they say: Only a man teacheth him. The speech of him at whom they falsely hint is outlandish, and this is clear Arabic speech.' (16:102-103)

'They will ask thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little. (85) And if We willed We could withdraw that which We have revealed unto thee, then wouldst thou find no guardian for thee against Us in respect thereof. (86) (It is naught) save mercy from thy Lord. Lo! His kindness unto thee was ever great. (87) Say: Verily, though mankind and the jinn should assemble to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof though they were helpers one of another.' (17:85-90)
'And she (Maryam) who was chaste, therefor We breathed into her (something) of Our Spirit and made her and her son a token for (all) peoples.' (21:91)

Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him; else would each God have assuredly championed that which he created, and some of them would assuredly have overcome others. Glorified be Allah above all that they allege. Knower of the Invisible and the Visible! and Exalted be He over all that they ascribe as partners (unto Him)! (23:90-91)

Lo! Allah is the Knower of the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. Lo! He is Aware of the secret of (men's) breasts. He it is Who hath made you regents in the earth; so he who disbelieveth, his disbelief be on his own head. Their disbelief increaseth for the disbelievers, in their Lord's sight, naught save abhorrence. Their disbelief increaseth for the disbelievers naught save loss. Say: Have ye seen your partner-gods to whom ye pray beside Allah? Show me what they created of the earth! Or have they any portion in the heavens? Or have We given them a scripture so they act on clear proof therefrom? Nay, the evil-doers promise one another only to deceive. Lo! Allah graspeth the heavens and the earth that they deviate not, and if they were to deviate there is not one that could grasp them after Him. Lo! He is ever Clement, Forgiving. (35:38-41)

'When thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to create a mortal out of mire, (71) And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate,' (38:72)

'The Exalter of Ranks, the Lord of the Throne. He casteth the Spirit of His command upon whom He will of His slaves, that He may warn of the Day of Meeting, ...' (40:15)

'And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. Thou knewest not what the Scripture was, nor what the Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo! thou verily dost guide unto a right path, (52) The path of Allah, unto Whom belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Do not all things reach Allah at last.' (42:52-53)

'Were We then worn out by the first creation? Yet they are in doubt about a new creation. We verily created man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. When the two Receivers receive (him), seated on the right hand and on the left, He uttereth no word but there is with him an observer ready.' (50:15-18)

'Thou wilt not find folk who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving those who oppose Allah and His messenger, even though they be their fathers or their sons or their brethren or their clan. As for such, He hath written faith upon their hearts and hath strengthened them with a Spirit from Him, and He will bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide. Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. They are Allah's party. Lo! is it not Allah's party who are the successful?' (58:22)

'On the day when the angels and the Spirit stand arrayed, they speak not, saving him whom the Beneficent alloweth and who speaketh right. That is the True Day. So whoso will should seek recourse unto his Lord.' (78:38-39)

'Say: He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him.' (112:1-4)

There is a disclaimer ~ Thank God, it's not up to us, to decide whether the difference between Bible and Quran is only words and naming, or whether there's a genuine difference in meaning. I'd say, Qur'an and Bible describe God and His creation as one cluster, created in wisdom, but the Bible gives a bigger place to Jesus, 'Isa. There's no compulsion in religion, because we can't picture or perceive God. Allah SWT knows, and we don't. We can let loose reason on the unseen, but miss observation to back up our reasoning. This isn't always necessary, when logic is used properly. But in this case, our logic can't reach far enough to get to the truth. And, it's better to live and let live, instead of trying to falsify religious teachings about their very core. Nevertheless, what's my conclusion? Islam, accepts only one, unambiguous God. God has defined creation, but not the other way round.

Both the Bible and Qur'an say, Jesus is alive and in heaven now and, at the Day of Resurrection, Jesus will testify for, or against, each one of us. Jesus' present and future role matters, to those who believe. Qur'an and Bible resemble, and should be taken at heart, though we may question Trinity.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Knowledge according to some ahadith of the Prophet of Islam


The following ahadith are a selection of many, very much identical ahadith on the subject of knowledge. They follow the pattern as set by the Qur’an al Karim: That is, that man is born in islam, however, by birth he or she is also touched by Satan, like our first parents Adam and his wife. Like Adam and his wife, man grows to awareness of his identity, but also of his own good and bad inclinations and actions. In our youth we are raised into a religion or philosophy that may very well divert from Islam. In Bible and Qur’an, we find several comments on the spirit or holy spirit, and its nature is known to Allah swt only, as stated by the Prophet saws. Gaining and spreading knowledge, however, is a part of true faith, like spending wisely out of one’s own wealth. The Prophet mentioned on many occasions the signs of the Last Day as it approaches. He clearly stated, however, that he, nor any other creature, knows when it is due. We should realize, that the Last Day is always near within eternity.
Narrated Muawiya:
I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “If Allah wants to do good to a person, He makes him comprehend the religion. I am just a distributor, but the grant is from Allah. (And remember) that this nation (true Muslims) will keep on following Allah’s teachings strictly and they will not be harmed by any one going on a different path till Allah’s order (Day of Judgment) is established.”
Volume 1, Book 3, Number 73:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud:
The Prophet said, “Do not wish to be like anyone except in two cases. (The first is) A person, whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it righteously; (the second is) the one whom Allah has given wisdom (the Holy Qur’an) and he acts according to it and teaches it to others.” (Fateh-al-Bari page 177 Vol. 1)
Volume 1, Book 3, Number 79:
Narrated Abu Musa:
The Prophet said, “The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rain water and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah’s religion and gets benefit (from the knowledge) which Allah has revealed through me (the Prophets and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah’s guidance revealed through me (He is like that barren land.)”
Volume 1, Book 3, Number 81:
Narrated Anas:
I will narrate to you a Hadith and none other than I will tell you about after it. I heard Allah’s Apostle saying: From among the portents of the Hour are (the following):
1. Religious knowledge will decrease (by the death of religious learned men).
2. Religious ignorance will prevail.
3. There will be prevalence of open illegal sexual intercourse.
4. Women will increase in number and men will decrease in number so much so that fifty women will be looked after by one man.
Volume 1, Book 3, Number 82:
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
Allah’s Apostle said, “While I was sleeping, I saw that a cup full of milk was brought to me and I drank my fill till I noticed (the milk) its wetness coming out of my nails. Then I gave the remaining milk to ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab” The companions of the Prophet asked, “What have you interpreted (about this dream)? “O Allah’s Apostle ,!” he replied, “(It is religious) knowledge.”
Volume 1, Book 3, Number 85:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, “(Religious) knowledge will be taken away (by the death of religious scholars) ignorance (in religion) and afflictions will appear; and Harj will increase.” It was asked, “What is Harj, O Allah’s Apostle?” He replied by beckoning with his hand indicating “killing.” (Fateh-al-Bari Page 192, Vol. 1)
Volume 1, Book 3, Number 100:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al’ As:
I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “Allah does not take away the knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray.”
Volume 1, Book 3, Number 127:
Narrated ‘Abdullah:
While I was going with the Prophet through the ruins of Medina and he was reclining on a date-palm leaf stalk, some Jews passed by. Some of them said to the others: Ask him (the Prophet) about the spirit. Some of them said that they should not ask him that question as he might give a reply which would displease them. But some of them insisted on asking, and so one of them stood up and asked, “O Aba-l-Qasim ! What is the spirit?” The Prophet remained quiet. I thought he was being inspired Divinely. So I stayed till that state of the Prophet (while being inspired) was over. The Prophet then said, “And they ask you (O Muhammad) concerning the spirit –Say: The spirit — its knowledge is with my Lord. And of knowledge you (mankind) have been given only a little).” (17.85)
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, “Keys of the unseen knowledge are five which nobody knows but Allah . . . nobody knows what will happen tomorrow; nobody knows what is in the womb; nobody knows what he will gain tomorrow; nobody knows at what place he will die; and nobody knows when it will rain.”
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 159:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the sun rises from the West: and when the people see it, then whoever will be living on the surface of the earth will have faith, and that is (the time) when no good will it do to a soul to believe then, if it believed not before.” (6.158)
Narrated Abu- Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “No child is born except on Al-Fitra (Islam) and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian, as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated?” Then he rec
‘The religion of pure Islamic Faith (Hanifa),(i.e. to worship none but Allah), The pure Allah’s Islamic nature with which He (Allah) has created mankind. Let There be no change in Allah’s religion (i.e. to join none in Allah’s worship). That is the straight religion; but most of men know not…” (30.30)
University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts)

Knowledge is Part of Faith

With the topic of knowledge versus faith, we reach the point where the minds separate. Is there a place for knowledge in the faith and what kind of knowledge should this be?
The Scripture is an important tool for man to get to know Allah swt, and serve Him the right way. We should know, however, that Qur’an holds verses of ambiguous meaning and incomprehensible texts, like the loose letters at the beginning of several chapters. People will never find out their true meaning, but who believes, can accept, that we fail to observe everything existing and, therefore, will not invent unauthorized or unverified statements. This is the essence of any faith. Faith and belief have scientific aspects, knowledge is part of faith, however, that doesn’t make faith science and vice versa. A good scientist, too, acknowledges, that he or she doesn’t know everything and that man doesn’t know everything. Knowledge of the final Hour, afterlife, future and death is out of man’s reach.
Knowledge has two sides. On the one hand, there is knowledge that everyone possesses, and that is easily reproduced, because it answers to certain legalities and has been falsified by others. Knowledge on nature and its systems is an example. On the other hand, there is knowledge restricted to only you. Or to the prophets only, because some of them had a direct line of information exchange with Allah swt, and they had to pass it on to a bigger audience. This remains as it is. This last kind of knowledge that deals with the relation between the believer and his or her God. Knowledge is part of faith, but much knowledge is personal and unprovable. The believer obtains this kind of knowledge through intuition--which has to do with both book obtained-wisdom and with natural ability--, life experience, and intellect. Can we form ourselves a databank with the things we know and experience we gathered and can we then make a link with belief in a higher power? Is there something like a personal connection with your creator in order to get to know Him. There must be, and therefor Qur’an points us several times at the importance of and obligation to gain knowledge. Not only study of scriptures, logic and empirical research on everything around us, but also travel are important tools. To meet cultural heritage, both in written form and visits to historical buildings and archeological findings, are important for a believer. Travel as part of faith is a somewhat neglected aspect of Islam, with some obstacles, but later more on that. However, in the end not everyone is granted such knowledge, because not everybody believes in a god. Study and observation may lead to a metaphysical belief in a creator. For now, I confine myself to the second aspect of belief: The more or less intuitive knowledge that is part of belief. What says Qur’an of such knowledge?
ALM (Alif Lam Mim). This is the Book in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what we have provided for them and who believe in the Revelation sent to thee and sent before thy time and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on (true guidance) from their Lord and it is these who will prosper. Qur'an :2:1-5
ALM. Allah! There is no god but He the Living, the Self-Subsisting, the Supporter of all. It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step) in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it and He sent down the Torah (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus). Before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the Criterion (Qur’an). Then those who reject faith in the Signs of Allah will suffer the severest chastisement and Allah is Exalted in Might, Lord of Retribution. Qur'an:3:1-4
He is it Who has sent down to thee the Book: in it are verses basic or fundamental clear: they are the foundation of the Book: others are not entirely clear. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is not entirely clear, seeking discord, and searching for its interpretation, but no one knows its true meanings except Allah and those firmly grounded in knowledge say: ‘We believe in it, the whole of it is from your Lord’ and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding. Qur'an:3:7,8
There have been examples that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth. Qur'an:3:137
The day that certain of the Signs of the Lord do come, no good will it do to a soul to believe then, if it believed not before nor earned righteousness through its Faith. Say: Wait ye, we too are waiting’. Qur'an:6:158
They ask thee about the Hour when will be its appointed time? Say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with my Lord. None but He can reveal as to when it will occur. Heavy were its burden through the heavens and the earth. Only, all of a sudden will it come to you’. The ask thee as if thou wert eager in search thereof. Say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with Allah, but most men know not’. Qur'an:7:187
And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys, for you to ride and as an adornment; and He has created things of which you have no knowledge. Allah alone can show the right path but there are ways that turn aside; if Allah had willed, He could have guided all of you. Qur'an:16:8,9
O mankind! If ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (Our Power) to you. And We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die and some are sent back to the feeblest old age so that they know nothing after having known and thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred, it swells and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth. This is so, because Allah is the Reality: it is He Who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who has Power over all things. And verily the Hour will come: there can be no doubt about it, or about that Allah will raise up all who are in the graves. Yet there is among men such a one as disputes about Allah, without knowledge, without guidance, and without a Book of Enlightenment, (disdainfully) bending his side, in order to lead astray from the Path of Allah: for him there is disgrace in this life and on the Day of Judgement We shall make him taste the chastisement of burning. (It is said) ‘This is because of the deeds which thy hands sent forth, for verily Allah is not unjust to His servants’. Qur'an:22:5-10
Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before them? They were superior to them in strength: they tilled the soil and populated it in greater numbers than these have done: there came to them their messengers with clear (Signs): it was not Allah who wronged them, but they wronged their own souls. In the long run evil will be the end of those who do evil; for that they rejected the Signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule. It is Allah Who begins the creation, then repeats it, then shall ye be brought back to Him. Qur'an:30:9-11
Among His Signs is this, that He created you from dust and then behold, ye are men scattered and among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect. And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know. And among His Signs is the sleep that ye take by night and by day, and the quest that ye (make) out of His Bounty: verily in that are Signs for those who hearken. And among His Signs He shows you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope and He sends down rain from the sky and with it gives life to the earth after it is dead: verily in that are Signs for those who are wise. Qur'an:30:20-24
Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah. It is He Who sends down rain and He Who knows what is in the wombs. Nor does any one know what it is that he will earn on the morrow. Qur'an:31:34
The revelation of this Book is from Allah, the Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom. Verily it is He Who has revealed the Book to thee in Truth: so serve Allah, offering Him sincere devotion. Is it not Allah that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors others than Allah (say): ‘We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah’. Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. Qur'an:39:1-3
Say: ‘Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know?’ It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition. Qur'an:39:9
It is Allah that takes the souls at death and those that die not during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back but the rest He sends (back) for a time appointed. Verily in this are Signs for those who reflect. Qur'an:39:42
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair, cell) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the Sight of Allah is the most Righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted. Qur'an:49:13
Q (Qaf) Qur'an:50:1
N (Nun) Qur'an:68:1

Friday, November 7, 2008

What is faith according to Islam?


This is what the Qur'an says, in these verses and in many others:
Praise be to Allah to Whom belong all things in the heavens and on earth. To Him be praise in the Hereafter: and He is All-Wise, All-Aware. He knows all that goes into the earth and all that comes out thereof; all that comes down from the sky and all that ascends thereto and He is the Most Merciful the Oft-Forgiving. The unbelievers say ‘Never to us' it will come upon you by Him Who knows the unseen, from Whom is not hidden the least little atom in the heavens or on earth, nor is there anything less than that, or greater, but is in the Record Perspicuous: That He may reward those who believe and work deeds of righteousness; for such is Forgiveness and a Sustenance most generous. But those who strive against Our Signs, to frustrate them, for such will be a chastisement of painful wrath. And those to whom knowledge has come see that the (Revelation) sent down to thee from thy Lord – that is the Truth, and that it guides to the Path of the Exalted (in Might), Worthy of all praise. Q:34:1-6
O ye who believe! Give your response to Allah and His Messenger, when He calleth you to that which will give you life; and know that Allah cometh in between a man and his heart, and that it is He to Whom ye shall be gathered. Q:8:24
Those whom Allah willeth to guide, He openeth their breast to Islam; those whom He willeth to leave straying, He maketh their breast close and constricted, as if they had to climb up to the skies; thus doth Allah lay abomination on those who refuse to believe. This is the Way of thy Lord, leading straight; We have detailed the Signs for those who receive admonition. Q:6:125,126
Seest thou not that Allah doth know (all) that is in the heavens and on earth? There is not a secret consultation between three, but He is the fourth of them, nor between five but He is the sixth, nor between fewer nor more but He is with them wheresoever they be; in the end will He tell them what they did on the Day of Judgement, for Allah has full knowledge of all things. … O ye who believe! When ye are told to make room in the assemblies, make room: room will Allah provide for you. And when ye are told to rise up, rise up: Allah will raise up, to ranks those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is well-aquainted with all ye do. Q:58:7,11
Seest thou not those who turn to such as have the Wrath of Allah upon them? They are neither of you nor of them, and they swear to falsehood knowingly. Allah has prepared for them a severe Chastisement: evil indeed are their deeds. … Satan has got the better of them, so he has made them forget the remembrance of Allah. They are the Party of Satan. Truly, it is the Party of Satan that will lose. Those who oppose Allah and His Messenger will be among those most humiliated. Allah has decreed: ‘It is I and My messengers Who must prevail': for Allah is Strong, Mighty. Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, loving those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strenghtened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein. Allah will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Truly it is the Party of Allah that will achieve success. Q:58:14,15,19-22
If Allah had so willed He could have made them a single people; but He admits whom He will to His Mercy; and the wrong-doers will have no protector nor helper. What! Have they taken protectors besides Him? But it is Allah, He is the Protector, and it is He Who gives life to the dead: it is He Who has power over all things. Whatever it be wherein ye differ, the decision thereof is with Allah: in Him I trust, and to Him I turn. Q:42:8-10
Islamic creed is acceptance of an almighty Creator introduced to man in a revealed traditional scripture, of which virtually everybody has at least some knowledge by name: The Qur’an. Faith lives inside the heart and mind and always starts with an inward travel to the soul, but also shows in behavior--or it doesn't. Every expression we make is consequence of our values: In the back of our mind we know, that this action is good or not. Believing people consider the reality of an almighty Creator knowing and judging this action and are more inclined to restrain themselves from actions that may be disapproved of by this supreme Authority. Faith, therefore, may be the label people give themselves, but it may also be its test in real life.
Please note, that ‘believing’ people have no stereotype name. There are two groups of people: Those who acknowledge the scripture and are willing to follow its suggestions and rules, and those who reject it. ‘Satan’, as the general name for evil and disobedience, is their main influence. This is another aspect: Why is disbelief evil, and will believing people feel no love for disbelieving people? This implies that ‘evil’ is not necessarily nor only a dogmatic refusal of a theoretical book, something which may be of no interest but to the individual reader him or herself. Evil can also be something that makes others suffer. Evil is real and harmful in practice, according to the rules of common sense, and it has many unexpected, not too pretty faces. However, why, after all, would a believer dislike the quiet neighbor just for his atheism? This shows another complicated side of belief and disbelief. Sometimes it is not expressed to others and does it simply live inside the mind. Allah knows it is there and will eventually sanction. People have a relationship with each other, but also with their God. The latter, however, is something other people have no authority over. Will Allah be your friend or foe? The individual person has a big say in this, whether he or she wants a friendly relationship with Allah or not. Allah is to finally judge this individual relationship with His creatures. A quiet harmless non-believer is still a non-believer with whom Allah will deal in the Hereafter. No disbeliever can say: I didn’t know. Works of art and even popular works mention the revealed scripture’s existence and summary. It is not possible to reject their texts solely on empirical evidence, as part of their contents are beyond our observational skills. Therefore religion judges this blind rejection as to be disapproved. So disbelief may be harmful  and destructive to the individual himself.
Faith is a two way stream, according to Islam. Those who accept the One God will be helped and inspired by Him, however, the One God also makes His own selection from among His creatures and opens or closes the heart to the Faith. To us, it is not always certain which of these prevails.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Belief is a personal and a philosophical issue

There are many answers to the question what it is: Belief. One valid definition of what belief is, is this one:

Belief is finding truth in something without direct evidence, accepting something for fact when its truth cannot be or has not been proved.

From belief we can go a step further into faith. Faith is more than believing something to be true, it is entrusting and committing oneself to it.

Belief and faith are important factors in human life. For instance, commercial transactions cannot take place unless people trust each other, which is not always based on facts and past experience but also on intuitive gut feeling. People trust their own self image when they choose a carreer, and their feelings when choosing a partner for life. There is another path that gives belief, and especially faith, a more complex meaning, and that is the religious dimension. For everybody it is possible to understand faith in other people, in the self, even in nature. It is relatively easy to trust the visible, empirical world that we know. However, not everybody is willing to find truth in an unseen godly power who created everything we know: A hereafter, an evil force, a (or the) future, or a divine judgement.

Belief indeed is one side of the coin and knowledge is the other. We can see these concepts as opposites but also as twin sisters. What is knowledge?

Knowledge is the possession of facts that people have, based on open observation that can be shared by others, or on logical deduction.

Belief stops as soon as we have knowledge.

We may call observations evidence to a phenomenon. And evidence is information that we can share with other people in an unambiguous way. They observe exactly the same phenomenon as we do. A picture taken of a football match gives information to other people about its proceedings. A secretary takes notes during a meeting, and those present agree afterwards with their contents, in order to record the talks. When the street is wet, we can conclude that either rain has fallen, or the cleansing-service passed by. Some observations are household, such as the fact that water boils at a temperature of a hundred degree Celsius. Others are more sophisticated, like the neutron structure of gold, and such knowledge is agreed to be called science. After all, not everybody is trained to interpret sophisticated observations. However, the easy part of knowledge is that everybody can endorse its truth, once more people have observed the occurrence of the facts, and once people can re-observe the facts anytime. Knowledge is the answer to the how to-questions that people, curious as they are, have posed themselves through the ages. The fact that our knowledge is still incomplete, gives us the impetus to search further. To a certain extend, it is possible to answer the how to-questions. Our technical skills have grown over the generations, and we are able to reach further and deeper. Now we can observe the very small or very far phenomena. We can accept that there are certain limits to our ability to answer the how to-questions and blame our inabilities to our lack of knowledge. We hope that a new scientist may find new answers. We don't know the limit of our abilities, nor if our knowledge gathering may be confined by unknown barriers that have nothing to do with our capabilities. A good example is the Biblical Babel Tower built by the people in order to see God. God set boundaries to the gathering of human knowledge: the people were not allowed to see Him, so He destroyed the tower and from then the people spoke different languages. Apart from the unknown limit to our scientific knowledge, we have the issue of why-questions. As soon as we reach the question of how the universe was created or originated, we meet a problem that has led to various ideological currents, with sometimes long histories and conflicts among each other. Basically it is the history of controversy between science and religion and between competing religions.

Science has tried to answer the how to-questions more or less successfully. More importantly, religions try to answer the why-questions of life.

Why did Mary Blake die so young?
Why did this happen to her?
Why is life such unfair shit?
Why do things never go right?
Why are we on earth?
Why is nature of such unsurpassed beauty and variation?
Why have I become a compassionate conservative Republican?
Why came the dinosaurs first and then the primates?

All these questions are limited by our capabilities and, according to believers, our permissions. Biblical history tells how God sets boundaries to human knowledge. God destroyed Babel Tower, because He did not want man to reach Him. Man also has no complete sight on the world and universe around him. The Islamic Scripture, the Qur'an, too, has verses on how man may and must gather knowledge, however, to the extend that Allah allows him:

"O ye assembly of Jinn and men! If it be ye can pass beyond the zones of heavens and the earth, pass ye! Not without authority shall ye be able to pass!" Q:55:33

"And He has created (other) things of which ye have no knowledge." Q:16:8

"Say: 'Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know?' It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition." Q:39:9

Saying that the evolution determines why the dinosaurs precede the primates, is no answer to the why-question. Why-questions give a reason and arise from an approach of subjectivity. They come from human perception and have no scientific foundation. Science cannot answer why-questions, because they touch the areas of choice and preference. Someone or something determined that it was better, or maybe nicer, for the dinosaurs to precede the primates. Science does not determine  qualities such as beauty, good taste, morality, better, higher, or worse. Even the occurrence of coincidence does not cut it, because always someone will come and ask: Why did dinosaurs happen to arrive before primates, why did chance choose the dinosaur to precede the primate?

Belief is related to the human mind: The set of thought, emotion, consciousness, ambition, and spirit, qualities that scientists have been unable to determine as yet. What are the spirit and our feelings, what is our personality, our consciousness, where do they reside, what are their form and look? One thing that we can say, is that thoughts, emotions, ambition, awareness, and belief are components and instruments of a relationship. A relationship with ourselves, other people, animals and plants, and with metaphysics or abstract concepts. We may define our soul and consciousness as our invisible self and our personality as its link with the outside world. Thinking, emotions, ambitions, and beliefs link us to the self or the other on an invisible level. Many artists make it their job to give thought, emotion, belief, spirit, and personality a concrete expression in image, text, or sound. But also the artist stumbles on the invisibility and elusiveness of these topics. They are the aspects of life that perhaps matter the most, yet they cannot be reproduced and are therefore no part of scientific knowledge. Their behavioral consequences, however, are often very visible and tangible and follow a repeatedly shared pattern, which we may call a structure. This is the reason why relations with the self and other people are open to the scientific approach, to a certain extend. This also goes for our relations with other living creatures, our environment, and with materials. When people have a problem with themselves, psychologists and psychiatrists jump into the field to assist them. When people have problems with others, not only psychologists but also the legal system has to assist, sometimes against the person's will. We know relatively much about how the human mind works and can make valid statements about many phenomena.

However should we not forget, that many things involving the human mind are unknown to us. This also has implications for religious issues: Our connection with metaphysics. Can a divine power communicate with people, how does this work, can we talk with an invisible unknown power? Is it therefore wise to discard any divine revelation to prophets as fraud? We have no scientific answer to that.