Tauhid.net

This article is part of the series "Kindled from a Blessed Tree"

A picture in the mirror

The power of the rational mind is impressively demonstrated to us every day, because all modern technology is based on it. The fact that technical progress is linked with the destruction of the planet is, however, not blamed on rationality. Indeed, quite the opposite is the case: what is the actual cause of the disease is regarded as the only possible remedy: "Our rational mind creates cars which pollute the environment? Let the rational mind then construct some exhaust filters!"

By means of our present educational system and society as such, this perception of reality is so fixed in our minds that normal people (besides perhaps a few psychedelic drugs swallowing freaks, artists and quarreling wives) cannot even imagine that one can perceive "reality" differently than through rational eyeglasses.

Even many Muslims nowadays claim that Islam is completely rational. Well, this astonishing supposition arises from the fact that statements in the Qur'an, for example, are in line with latest scientific findings, or because interpersonal problems are solved according to healthy common sense. But Islam is certainly not rational!

Islam is built on revelations, not on reflections of the human mind. The mediator who delivered these revelations is made of light: Archangel Gabriel. Angels cannot be disobedient. They bring us knowledge directly from the truth, the only absolute reality: Allah. On the other hand, images acquired through reflections of the mind are never one with true reality, however firmly we believe this and regard it as 'scientifically proven'. If we do this, and assign absolute reality to the images created by reason, we commit the same sin that peoples used to commit before us: We worship dead, self-made images, yes, we commit idolatry. The root of idea is the same as that of idol: a human made image.

If you show somebody his image on a photo or in a mirror and ask him 'who is that', 99% of the people will answer 'that is me'! Well, of course, it is not you! It is just an image in the mirror, which is a big difference. You have essence and substance, the image has not, although it exists.

Similar, the world in itself has no essence or reality in the absolute sense, as the Koran points out:

The life of this world is but comfort of illusion. [Ali Imran 185]

And in the Hereafter there is grievous punishment, and [also] forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure, whereas the life of the world is but matter of illusion. [Al-Hadid.20]

However, although it is an illusion it points to the truth and is a matter we should contemplate on:

Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the [wonders of] creation in the heavens and the earth, [With the thought]: "Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created [all] this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire. [Ali Imran 191]

Meeting someone or something "divine" in this world (meaning with an absolute essence) would be comparable to meeting a real person in cyberspace. Jesus and Buddha, for example, never claimed divinity for themselves, it was attributed to them long after their death.

As the world as we perceive it is an illusion, it follows that "truth" in this world is never an absolute truth (which is Allah alone) but rather a finger pointing towards a certain direction. The world we see is just an image provided by our senses and brain, then processed by mind, intellect and 'heart'.

If you ask a scientist about reality, he will admit that science has only concepts and models of reality. The concept for example of electrons flying around protons in the shape of tiny balls of course has little to do with reality as such. Nonetheless are images of reality like these so powerful that almost all technology is based on them. The theories are held to be real because "they have been proven to work". And they "always" work, that is called a scientific proof. In fact, it is a deception! Everybody has to admit that it is indeed a huge achievement that based on such concepts an airplane can fly, but be not fooled to believe that scientific concepts are 'absolute reality' or 'the truth'.

Humanity is so fascinated by scientific progress that it does not recognizes that it is the on rational thinking based technology that destroys the planet. The only way to deal with all the current problems sees mankind therefore again only in rational concepts like environmental protection. In reality, man tries to expel the Devil with Satan. Humanity will not repent and surrender to God, because it simply does not understand what it means and how to mentally process "reality" without linking human made images in a logical fashion.

Structures based on
rational planning.
Grown, 'inspired'
structures of a city.

The splendor of rational thought is even admired by Muslims, who often believe that knowledge in general is highly respected in Islam and its seekers are rewarded. Because of the dual implication of the word 'ilm' in Arabic, some minds have constantly confused principal, or metaphysical, knowledge with empirical knowledge. They take, for example, the Koranic verse about iron as a proof that technical progress is almost God-willed:

We verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance, that mankind may observe right measure; and He revealed iron , wherein is mighty power and [many] uses for mankind, and that Allah may know him who helpeth Him and His messengers, though unseen. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. [Al-Hadid 25]

We see in this verse, however, that iron was revealed alongside the Scripture and the Balance. For the knowledge of iron is not based on rational knowledge. The early humans could not possibly know from rational considerations how to make iron, but some "chance" or "inspiration" has revealed it to them.

Some scholars talk about the Golden Age of Islam, where in each city there were public libraries and public baths and the society reached such a peak in culture and science that it was centuries ahead of Europe, which was still in its dark middle ages. All of Europe's science actually would be based on the knowledge of the Muslims! That might be true to a certain degree, though it ignores conveniently the role of peoples such as the Greeks in the development of 'modern thought'. But let us consider the following reports:

The Grand Library of Baghdad, containing countless precious historical documents and books on subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy, was destroyed. Survivors said that the waters of the Tigris ran black with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river and red from the blood of the scientists and philosophers killed.

All the knowledge of this so called Golden Age was washed down the Tigris and did not help the Muslims at all to defend themselves against a horde of barbarians coming from the Central Asian steppes. These Mongols did not even wash themselves! The only time they took a bath was at birth and during rain. How could they defeat the Muslims who were so culturally advanced and knowledgeable and superior in numbers? The only logical answer is that in fact it was not the Golden Age of Islam and that all of this knowledge served the Muslims as much as all the scientific advancements of the West will serve them to avoid the upcoming destruction!

Real faith reveals itself when you are starving and you are outnumbered, and nobody would bet a single penny on your victory. But you trust in Allah, and it is Him who defeats your enemy. However, when you trust in something else rather than He, like the Muslims trusted in their superior numbers at the battle of Hunayn, He rewards you with a shameful defeat!

Nowadays again, knowledge accumulates in our universities, but considering the few numbers of scholars who emphasize on real important issues applicable to this age and the current circumstances, the understanding of 'ilm' seems to be lost.

Ask somebody who studied at al-Azhar why a chain saw makes such an evil sound when cutting through trees. He most probably will look at you as if not sure if you make fun of him and will say: "Brother, I am a scholar of Islamic science and have nothing to do with chain saws. Be so kind and ask somebody else." He will not understand your question at all because chain saws do not appear in his Fiqh and Tafsir books.

Mirror-inverted writing:
mirror-inverted perception

Some people will ask now: "And what shall we do? Stop thinking?"

The conclusion that because rational thinking is the cause of the dilemma, we would have to halt it, would be also rational (even if we would be able to do it).

The rational mind is given to us by our creator. We may use it . with caution! But it is important to understand that the images created by the rational mind are not reality but rather like an image in a mirror. Therefore it may not be our master and the ultimate judge of our actions because we may well go in the opposite direction of what we intended to. At the end, only God can tell us what we should do. That is why we must remember the purpose of our creation. Islam claims that we are created solely to serve God:

Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the Worlds. [Al-Anam 162]

If we are indeed God's servants, shouldn't we ask our master what we ought to do, like every common servant or clerk does ask his master, instead of following our own desires and self-made images? We must open ourselves for His guidance and surrender ourselves to Him. Our perception must surely be different from someone who does not believe in having a master, or even does not believe in a God at all.

We have to trust and believe that God will give us signs (Arabic: Ayaat - meaning also verses of the Koran) in order that we can understand Him and may act according to His will, not only the general instructions laid down in Qur'an and Sunnah but also in our individual lives.

Perception and Reality

Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and [in] the difference of night and day are tokens [of His Sovereignty] for men of understanding, Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, [and say]: Our Lord! Thou created not this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire. [Ali Imran 190, 191]

There are different ways to look at 'reality' and consequently different types of knowledge. Let's take water as an example:

One can look at water like mentioned in the verse above: ' Men who consider the creation of the heavens and the earth':

See how water feels when it touches the skin, how refreshing it can be. Listen to the sound it makes when falling from the sky as rain, or as waterfall or as waves breaking at the shore. How water washes dirt away, how it quenches the thirst, how it forms clouds and shows a rainbow when the sun shines at it. How much fun it provides for children splashing in it or when they are building a snowman; its healing powers, how it revives a dead land after drought and gives life to all creatures; the beauty of a forest river and of a white winter landscape! Its destructive powers during a flood or a tsunami; the meditative calmness of an ocean or a lake ... and at the end one will say: All praise belongs to God who created it! As if God has cast most of his magnificent attributes in this one element alone!

Intuition is the ability to gain insight into facts, views, laws, or the subjective consistency of decisions, without discursive use of the mind, that is, without any conscious conclusions. Intuition is a part of creative development. The intellect, which accompanies the development, merely leads, or consciously examines, the results that come from the unconscious. Intuition is also the swift insight into connections and their realization without conscious rational derivation or conclusions, as well as the emergence of new inventions and ideas. While the discursive-rational (conscious) character of knowledge is a derived function, intuitive knowledge has the character of the given. Intuition is in harmony with reality, where rationality creates a reflection and an image of reality that is not reality, just as an image in the mirror is not equal to the mirrored object.

Man recognizes these attributes with lubb, a word whose resonances includes 'core' or 'seed', and denotes an intuitive rather than a purely discursive cognition. The resulting state is that of secure conviction (iman). One experiences truth and does not merely perceive it rationally.

If we look at water in a 'scientific way' we see that it is H2O; two hydrogen protons and one oxygen proton are interrelated with each other. This is a much different perception! It is a dead image. The enchantment is gone. In fact, it is not even what we perceive, rather it is a concept of reality in which people believe although they know it is not reality.

This kind of knowledge is a reflection of the mind. Look at the fruits of this kind of knowledge: the machines and electronics, the smell, the pollution, the noise; modern life based on rational, logical thinking, life based on so called reason, life based on human made images! It promises progress and modern lifestyle and even offers itself as the solution to all problems, but in fact it is a nightmare!

Compare a horse and a motorbike as a means of transport:

The horse offers only limited power and control. Only well trained horses can run a 120km distance, and also not constantly with maximum speed. A horse is 'unpredictable' in a certain sense. It can take fright, slip or be 'naughty', and when an experienced rider falls, it is almost always because the horse 'has not functioned properly'. Its waste is fertilizer; the sounds it produces are soothing; it is warm and has character; it is beautiful (well, most horses are).

A motorbike provides power and control. It can drive hundreds and even thousands of kilometers at top speed, you only have to refill some petrol or oil once in a while. If one has an accident, it is almost always human failure, almost never the failure of the machine. Its exhaust fumes are poisonous smoke; it produces an annoying, nasty noise; it is cold and impersonal.

Power and control seem to have a price. Rational concepts seduce us with a promise of power and control. And it was Satan who promised exactly this: Eat from the tree of knowledge and you will be like God. He promised power and control.

By acquiring knowledge based on reflection and images, man can create his own worlds, his own identity and his own destiny. He is no longer a slave of a tyrannical god who creates him in a miserable state where he is dependent on God's good humor, which can at any time impose on him a disgusting illness, an accident or bankruptcy; where he has to go to toilet several times a day and finally, after serious agony, gets eaten up by worms.

With Satan's help, this tyranny of God can be overcome. Man takes his destiny in his own hands now and creates himself and the world anew. The world created by the tyrant God is replaced by a world created by man himself.

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Next chapter:

Transcendence
The description of God as a tyrant, who does not tolerate disobedience, like the Luciferianists perceive it, is correct when we make a picture of God, and perceive Him as a being from which we are substantially different.