Reason and Knowledge in Islam

-- Reason and Knowledge in Islam --

Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) numerously spoke of human knowledge with extremely high respect. One may, indeed, conclude that the attainment of knowledge became even a religious requirement for his followers. The following hadiths could certainly serve as a justification of such a claim:

"The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it he has a better right to it." (Tirmidhi 39:19)

"The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim." (Mishkat 2)

"Of the signs of the Hour [which may indicate the nation's doom, individual's death, or destruction of the whole humanity] is that knowledge shall be taken away and ignorance shall reign supreme." (Bukhari 3:21)

It is then so disappointing that the world of Islam, to a large extent, has extensively distanced itself from the most advanced intellectual activities of modernity. The Gate of Ijtihad is claimed to have been long closed and only the shameful imitations of theologic and juristic treatises are believed to be legitimate. An Islamist call for the return to the roots is rather yet another call for the return to stiff and non-Islamic local traditions of the Arab Bedouins.

It appears to me to be completely beyond any reason that the reason itself ('aql) has been so largely abandoned for the sake of solidifying some non-sensical 'uniqueness'. In my belief, uniqueness of ignorance (jahilliya), so strongly opposed by the Prophet (pbuh).

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