What brings us here on this Forum ? I guess a certain sense of discomfort with the situation between Islam and Modernity. That hard-to-place mismatch between the two. For me who has been raised in a conservative Sunni Muslim family, the contradictions between the reality of a plural, cosmopolitan society with its rainbow of colours on one hand, and the binary narrative of a black and white world of Evil and Good spelled out, lineated and defined by Shariah rules on the other – was unusually difficult.
In my teens I fell in love with Physics and chose a scientific path. I completed my PhD in Physics when I was 29+ after spending 5 years in the USA. For many years since my teens, I struggled and juggled – very painfully – with the dichotomy between Faith and Reason. It still haunts me till today – although today, I do believe in God. Perhaps this is the result of a strict Muslim upbringing in a plural and cosmopolitan environment, coupled with the pursuit of science. It is filled with utter contradictions, psychological conflicts and numerous counter-examples. The condemnation of the Dis-Believers i.e. the Other, made little sense when you know so many good people who are also Non-Believers and vice-versa. It seems that the de-humanization of the Other is essential in maintaining some kind of order and sense in the religious world. Maybe I’m wrong about this but…..
Then there was Science and Philosophy. Reason. And this came into direct conflict with the Absolute Truths of Revelation and Dogma. Anyone who is interested in the plight of the Muslim world today, must be concerned about this dichotomy between Faith and Reason. Islamic culture – being based upon dogma – lies in stark contrast to Modernity. And that is at the heart of the problem with Islam today. Muslims have to juggle between Reason and Faith. Between Reason and Dogma. And this on an almost daily basis mind you. Whether its women’s hijab or its Islamic Shariah or its Islamic usury (riba) laws or its male and female circumcision etc etc, the issue is almost always between a Reasoned argument on one hand, and an argument from Dogma on the other. Which do you choose ? Which is “right” – whatever that means ? So I think, most of us in this Forum – are really facing up to this dichotomy between Faith and Reason. I guess this could be the beginnings of a Muslim Enlightenment but many others would quickly dismiss Reason as a source for Islamic Jurisprudence. So only time will tell how this debate between Faith and Reason would play out in the Muslim world. In the meantime, I find solace and comfort in a universal, pluralistic God.
This has been a guest post by Anonymous.