In the Name of God, the Lord of Grace, the Ever Merciful
War is a prominent feature of human history. Not least because of the sizeable share of the human race it has claimed. Indeed, war lays open an important aspect of human nature and the values it attaches to power and cruelty. Some, or rather most wars reflect man’s unreasonableness and his tendency to be unjust towards others. However, some wars may be considered both just and necessary.
When we analyse war, we are bound to note that it possesses two essential elements: attack and defence. Man has, therefore, needed tools to suit both situations. In inventing tools to suit both conditions, he has equipped himself with swords, spears and arrows for attack, and made body armour for defence.
We do not know for certain at what period of history man started to use iron to protect himself in war, but we do know that prior to the Prophet David’s time, the protective shields that were available during battle were not suited to a fighting situation where a person may need to constantly alternate between sprinting forward and retreating. God tells us in the Qur’an of His favour as He taught the Prophet David how to make suitable body armour: ‘And We taught him how to make garments for you, so that they may fortify you against all that which may cause you fear. Will you, then, give thanks?’ (21:80) In this verse, the word ‘garment’ means body armour to protect the wearer during battle. Elsewhere in the Qur’an, God commands David to perfect the armour he makes: ‘We caused iron to become soft for him, saying: “Make coats of mail and measure their links with care”.’ (34:10-11) Commentators on the Qur’an have given different interpretations of this verse, but these generally refer to the manner of making protective body armour, with metal rings or nails so that the coat covers the main body area and ensures the wearer’s protection without impeding movement.
Human conflict, however, is not limited to fighting with swords, spears or firearms. There are other battlefields where written and spoken words are used to achieve victory. If such a battle is fair, it uses sound and good argument to prove the point and demonstrate the other party is at fault. In an unfair situation, the battle employs deliberate distortion and fabrication to undermine the values, beliefs or reputation of the opponent.
It is not my intention to discuss the history of human war and conflict. I rather want to look at one of the most important periods of human history, which witnessed the birth of the greatest constitution man has ever known. That is the message delivered by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). We note that his enemies launched both types of war – physical and verbal – against him. He repelled such aggression by clear evidence and argument on the one hand and by sword and spear on the other. In the initial period of his messengership, God commanded the Prophet to confine himself to a struggle that used the Qur’an as its only weapon: ‘Do not obey the unbelievers, but strive most vigorously against them with this Qur'an’. (25:52) God, Mighty and Exalted, took it upon Himself to refute the arguments the unbelievers and the followers of earlier religions raised against His Messenger. He says: ‘Whenever they come to you with an argument, We shall reveal to you the truth and the best explanation’ (25: 33) The Prophet answered all the arguments his enemies raised and was always ready to state the clear truth.
With every attack aimed at Islam and its beliefs and principles, Muslim scholars exerted good efforts in responding to enemy accusations. They refuted their arguments, showed the fallacy of their evidence, stated the truth and cited its proofs based on logical reasoning and Islamic texts. They were able to demolish all false arguments and establish the truth of Islam and its perfection as well as its continuous validity, flexibility and suitability for all generations.
Yet doubts continue to be raised about the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad and the divine law. A careful observer cannot fail to recognise that clouds continue to gather in an overcast sky. The whole atmosphere is that of a rough sea with successive high waves of doubt that reach the ships at bay. Some remain steady, some shake violently and others are overpowered and soon sink into the deep.
Such waves are merely a new form of a verbal onslaught. They need a suitable coat of protective mail. The person who fails to so equip himself with such a shield leaves himself vulnerable to targeted arrows.
These few words are only preliminaries to explain the purpose of this book. Essentially, my aim is to contribute to the provision of an intellectual coat of arms that is easy for the reader to wear. My hope is that, by God’s will, such will serve as effective protection against the contemporary onslaught that continues to raise doubts about Islam and its fundamentals. I shall endeavour to answer the following questions:
- What are the causes that have led some of our youth to become atheists, or to reject some of Islam’s fundamental principles despite continuing to accept its essence? Has the contemporary religious address contributed to this phenomenon?
- What are the main features of the contemporary onslaught that continues to raise doubts about Islam? What effects does it have?
- Does this onslaught confine itself to certain questions? Does it raise countless other questions?
- What are the most important questions raised? How should they be answered?
- How should we protect the new generation against these attacks without denying them the right to think and evaluate?
- Can we provide them with suitable methodologies to deal with whatever they may encounter of anti-Islamic ideas?
- How do we argue with people who uphold some of these problematic views?
I have sought to list some important works of reference covering most areas for readers who wish to study the problem further. This book is based on courses I conducted and to which I gave the title: ‘How to deal with contemporary intellectual doubts?’ The book, however, presents the material in a new form, with some additions and improvements.