Islam teaches us to seek knowledge and to think about our faith. It is not a matter of taking a leap of faith, but finding a logical path to faith — at least this is how I understand it. And this is a huge reason why the path of Islam is so appealing to me.
I was trained as a scientist and worked in a laboratory for more than a decade. I still work in the sciences but on the softer side of things compared to what I used to do, but I still love science. (Yes, I am a nerd.)
Even when I was in my most ‘anti-religion’ phase in the past, I never saw the conflict between science and God. In fact, the more I studied science, learning all the intricacies of what we have discovered over the centuries and recognizing the huge gaps still in our understanding of the world, the more certain I was there had to be some point of origin or ultimate source of energy – though it took me years to come to terms with what I understood our creator to be despite my Catholic upbringing.
I started thinking about all this again when I read a blog by an amazing Muslimah who noted she was a bit wary of reading books like “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins.
I have read many of these types of books, though mostly in years before I decided to follow Islam. Typically these books are opinion pieces being presented as fact, with flawed logic and biased research behind the arguments. These books did nothing to drive me towards atheism. In hindsight, they may have even pushed me towards Islam since, for me, they did not successfully argue their point. But I found it greatly valuable to understand what other people believe and why.
And I wonder if this principle can be applied to biased histories of Islam, such as the one shown on television a few weeks ago in the UK, and ‘art’ that may be viewed as disrespectful to Islam – be it television shows or movies. In my view, Islam is so much stronger than anything else out there. Though I emphatically believe we should be watchful of Islamophobia and speak out against it always.
I embrace the call to seek knowledge in Islam, and I encourage the Muslimah to read Richard Dawkins or anybody else she wants to read.
We should study our religion deeply, but we should know other points of view as well as I think it makes us stronger. Reading something that contradicts your belief may just encourage you learn more and can deepen your faith.
What do you think? Can Islam and Muslims take it? Should we worry about biased historians or atheists pushing their agenda? Where do we draw the line between seeking knowledge and appropriate avoidance of negative forces? And where does tolerance and ‘agreeing to disagree’ balance with fighting Islamophobia?