“And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – all of these shall be questioned. 17:36”
I’ve chosen to start this project with this verse, because if Muslims understand the meaning packed into just these two axioms, that alone will go a long way in breaking the shackles of a billion people. The same people, who are today in the depths of darkness, if/when truly freed, will lead this misguided species to the stars, and I mean this literally.
There are many mistranslations, misinterpretations and incorrect commentaries of the Quran that the mainstream clings to. This is not a failing of the Quran. It is due to a conscious effort on the part of vested interests to keep its message unintelligible to its audience. There is also the problem of unreliable histories of the early-Islamic period which are used as a basis by the mainstream sectarian ‘scholars’ for their commentaries:
“For, as told, the story of the Muslim polity is a history that has been discovered, embellished, and when necessary, invented… In any case, the portrayal of men and events by apologists cum historians can be so patently tendentious that it raises doubts concerning the basic historicity of specific episodes, if not the larger events that frame them… The more cautious among us may well conclude that, with the data currently available, it is improbable that anyone can successfully write a comprehensive narrative of early Islamic times, let alone describe the subtle nuances of a more complex story.“1
However, none of this is an excuse the Muslims will be able to use against God on Judgement Day. It requires time, research and effort to acquire any knowledge that is worth attaining. For this, we are all accountable. That is the price of consciousness and its freedom.
The verse I quoted at the top, a mere two sentences, contains the axioms on which the foundation of both deductive logic and empirical reasoning rests. (It may not be coincidence that the “Scientific Method” was discovered by a Muslim, Ibn al-Haytham.) In this introductory post, I’ll examine these two sentences and unpack some of the meaning contained therein.
So what is “religion”? I once a took a course during undergrad which was basically based completely on answering this one question. In the first week our professor warned us that there is no agreed upon definition of this word, the rest of the two semesters were spent understanding why. First, let’s accept that if a word has no definition, it has no purpose. For my purposes, I’ve developed a very simple definition of “religion” that should be fairly acceptable to most. I define it as any system which fails the tests of logic and empiricism, as outlined in the second sentence of that verse. Simply put: Any system that has as its foundation a “faith,” is a religion. Now whenever I use the word “religion,” you will know exactly what I mean. Note the limitation here, as I am referring to “systems,” not ideas.
The most obvious examples of such systems are those that are officially called “religions.” The less obvious, are those orthodoxies that are ever-present in the background of modern societies e.g. most Economic ‘Theories’. The common theme, is that all such systems require their adherents to have “faith” in its basic premises, it’s narrative of the past and its forecast of the future. The consequence of this is that when such systems are proven wrong, either by uncovering logical contradictions, or when their incorrect claims are proven false empirically, they are not abandoned by their adherents.
I left off defining the word “faith.” But I should clarify: “Faith” is believing something without understanding it. It does not only apply when you are in a mosque/church/synagogue, it also applies when you use a mathematical theorem to solve a problem, without understanding the proof which justifies why that theorem is correct. We all do it, all the time in our daily life, to some extent, simply because of the limitations of the human mind. But that is not a justification for “faith,” it is an indictment of our ignorance, and there is nothing wrong with admitting it. Many good ideas begin in faith, as an intuition or a hunch. Personal “spiritual” experiences fall into this category as well. If you can “feel” God personally involved in your life, that’s fine. The problem arises when an idea becomes a system, without applying rigour to replace the underlying faith, with knowledge. This is simply because faith can never substitute for verifiable knowledge, when building operational systems, especially those of control and authority. God Himself follows this rule. This is why this verse exists. This is why, for example, the prophet’s moral character was presented as a proof of his prophethood, and actual arguments were presented in the Quran for his opponents. The effects of God’s commands, their rationality and their success, were clear and understandable for the Muslims, and eventually even the enemies of the prophet.
When God revealed this verse, He made clear what Islam is, and what it is not. So what then is Islam? When God asks one to “submit,” He is not asking for blind submission, and this is why the system of Islam is not a religion. If it is not a religion, that leaves only empirically testable and logically consistent models.
Many have tried to find logical inconsistencies within the Quran, none have succeeded. Others have tried to poke holes in its historical narratives, none have succeeded. Yet, very few focus on its predictive models, least of all ‘muslims.’ There is a reason why this is, and it is not hard to see why. Because if the preachers on their pulpits began to call attention to this aspect in their Friday sermons, it would become quickly apparent to the thinking-members of their audience that there is nothing Islamic about the ‘Islamic world’ today.
The Quran makes many predictive claims. It gives principles for our species to follow and clearly states the outcomes of following those principles. It also warns against the mistakes, for nations and individuals, and states their consequences. In effect, the Quran establishes causal relationships that can be tested. It provides a hypothesis, a test of its own truth. So how does the ‘Muslim World’ fare when faced with these tests? Anyone paying attention to the news, or merely looking around at the state of affairs around them will figure out that there’s a serious problem. Something has clearly failed these tests.
But what actually failed the tests? There are only two conclusions one can derive. Either the Quran is lie, or the ‘muslim world’ is a lie. If the Quran is lie, then there is no reason to go the mosque and listen to the preachers. But if the ‘Muslim world’is a lie, (by that I mean that while this civilization claims to be following God, it isn’t) then who are you going to blame? Your first finger is going to point to your preachers, and the second, ultimately, to yourselves. This is why you never hear about the Quran’s hypothesis at your normal garden-variety Friday sermon. They don’t want you to think, they want you to have “faith” and blindly follow. Most do follow, because the alternative is a harsh dose of reality that shatters the comfort of collective delusions.
Now take a step back and ponder on that verse again. The Quran is also challenging its audience to understand its own message, and if they do not understand, then it tells them not to follow it. “Religions” don’t make such statements. No religion challenges its adherents to abandon it if it doesn’t work. Religions count on ignorance, because they were founded by the ignorant, for the ignorant. Islam was revealed by God, an entity beyond ‘spacetime’ possessing infinite knowledge, and He is not afraid to challenge us to think. Because He knows that when our species truly understands His message, only then will we be able to avoid self-destruction and rise to heights we can’t even imagine yet.
Granted, this is not an easy ask. The magnitude of this task, the sheer burden of it, is immense. To sift through all the lies from the pulpits, history books, religious commentaries by “scholars,” speeches of our political leaders, and the ‘guidance’ in our own homes where we are told that we are ‘born muslims’… the sheer scale of the great walls of this social-machinery that confronts us, constructed with the sole purpose of blocking the truth, is scarcely believable. As societies become more complex, the boundaries of these barriers become more subtle, harder to spot, more fortified. But whatever their form, these are the same walls that were set up to stop every prophet in history from freeing humanity. And behind every wall stand the same vested interests: 1) the economic, 2) political and 3) religious elites of our species, whose purpose is to enslave and exploit the masses for their own benefit.
The only advantage humanity has, is the source code: The Quran, which is preserved in its original form, cryptic as it might seem. But it’s there, waiting for us to make an effort. There are those who have made such efforts from whom we can learn something. There are tools and resources available to us, to help us understand it. If you are reading this on the internet, you have access to them. Just because it’s hard, is not a valid excuse. Not for something this important. This is a cause which merits your attention, and it is not trivial.
My intention here is to share what I continue to learn. That’s the only hope and purpose of this project. The posts/essays are categorized as either “critiques” of prevalent models, or “solutions” to the problems, based on Quranic principles. I’ll also try and direct you to the resources which have helped me. I have no interest here other than encouraging you to search for the truth yourself. You should question my research, my sources and conclusions. I just hope you question your own as well. I have no affiliation with any sect. I am not a Sunni or Shia or a “Quranist” etc. With a ‘full-time job’ and my other studies and activities, I won’t have nearly as much time I want to devote to this effort, but over time I hope it all adds up to something…
Welcome to the Black Flag Actual.
p.s. If you see ads here, they are forced by WordPress for free accounts (like mine,) I’m not making any money off them.
- Lassner, Jacob. “‘Doing’ Early Islamic History: Brooklyn Baseball, Arabic Historiography, and Historical Memory.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 114.1 (1994): 1-10. (JSTOR: Requires subscription) ↩