In this essay, I am going to discuss about Islamic point of view towards questioning and prejudice.
So, firstly, I want to write a little about prejudice. I think prejudice is not completely an awful thing. When we encounter a new situation, we nurse prejudices against that situation and these prejudices may be very crucial for survival. For example, let’s imagine a human who is lost in a jungle, very hungry and has no food. So, he is walking around to find some food. Then, he sees a mango but he does not know this is a mango because he hasn’t seen any mango so far in his life. After he sees the mango, he tries to identify it and make predictions whether it is healthy or poisonous. Then, he thinks this seems like fruit and is similar to apple and pear and then he decides to eat it and it was really delicious. So, as we see here, he had bias that mango is fruit and it was crucial for his survival. Like this, we -and also animals- have biases against some animals, some food or sound and these kind of biases are to save ourselves from danger. On the other hand, this happy scene changes when we start nursing prejudices against ideas or beliefs. We shouldn’t have biases against any kind of ideas because they are not really related to survival. Nobody dies because of any idea. You may say what if someone has an idea to kill another person. Again, the idea of killing someone doesn’t kill that person, action does.
When we mention about prejudice, we should also mention about generalizing. Again generalization is something very important in some aspects. We generalize and categorize animals, some matters, and some cases. This opens the way to see things we look for and helps us examine them more easily. On the other hand, generalizing ideas or beliefs may lead us to prejudices. Some ideas, beliefs, religions may seem so similar to each other but they cannot be totally same. Even some ideas or opinions have so many similarities, they always have nuances and these nuances may distinguish them all from each other. For example, can we say that Communism is an idea related to politics and Fascism is also an idea related to poitics so, they are the same? Ofcourse, we cannot. They are almost contrast. Likewise, can we propose that Christianity is a religion, Judaism is a religion and Islam is a religion thus, they are all the same. As you can see this is a false statement. We should examine them seperately because they have so many differences.
So let’s come to ouestioning in Islam. It is used to be said that religions are dogmas and they do not allow their believers to question, interrogate or dispute. I am not so knowledgeable about other religions but in Islam, this is not the case. Among Islamic scholars, it is thought that faith is not in only mind or brain. It is diffused to heart, soul and even to emotions. When we ask questions about Allah, Prophesy or something else, we can still remain to have our faith in our heart, soul and emotions. Therefore, questioning does not necessarily mean that the people who question religion are non-believers and noone can coin them as non-believers just because of their enquiry.
Another point about questioning is that mind does not consist of only one level. It has some degrees. These degrees are orderly called tahayyül, tasavvur, taakkul, tasdik, iz’an, iltizam, itikad. I didn’t translate them into English because I think they don’t have the equivalent. So, if we look at the meanings of these terms in general – I won’t explain what they really mean and actually, I can’t – tahayyül is to imagine or to fantasise; tasavvur is to conceive, the process by which the mind forms an image or idea of an object; and taakkul is to think, to contemplate; and tasdik means basically to confirm something; iz’an is to know something with its all aspects; and iltizam means to advocate, to support that thing; and finally itikad means to believe something fully and to live it in your life. So, as we can see here, responsibility starts at tasdik. Before tasdik, there are three degrees tahayyül, tasavvur and taakkul. These three are the places you can think of anything, ask any kind of questions. And these questions, imaginations have nothing with someone’s faith. You can ask “is there a God”, but if you don’t confirm or tasdik that God does not exist, you don’t lose your faith.
So, as a result, every idea, every belief deserves to be examined seperately. Even they seem so similar, actually they are not. We shouldn’t generalize them. Generalizing often results in prejudices. We ignore nuances and we become biased. we need to break our biases against “others”. Even if we are opposed to an idea or belief, we should know it thoroughly. Otherwise, our words will be just libel or slander. May Allah lead us to what is right, thank you.