The Objective of Reforming Human Thinking in the Noble Qur’ān

Share this:

Mohamed Awwam, Researcher at the Maqāṣid Center for Studies and Research in Rabat

Article contents:
- First area of enquiry:
reforming human thinking through knowledge (al-‘ilm) and reading (al-qirā’ah)
- Second area of enquiry:
reforming human thinking through presentation of proofs (al-barhanah) and evidenced argumentation (al-istidlāl)
- Third area of enquiry: reforming human thinking by teaching evidenced argument and debate
- Fourth area of enquiry: reforming human thinking by inviting to rational consideration (al-naẓar) and contemplation (tafakkur)
- Fifth area of enquiry: reforming human thinking by checking and validating reports
- Sixth area of enquiry: reforming human thinking by teaching how to compare, contrast, and balance correctly (al-muwāzanah)
- Seventh area of enquiry: the consequences of human thinking in the Noble Qur’ān
- Conclusion


All praise is due to Allāh, Who created man, taught him lucid speech, and revealed the Qur’ān—source of perpetual wonder, infinite treasure, and eter.nal provision. May Allāh bestow peace and blessings on our Master and Prophet Muḥammad—sent with the light of truth, wise discourse, sound guidance, and the true way, from which none deviate but the doomed.

The quest to discern the objectives of the Noble Qur’ān remains an open door to abundant gains, whether through novel acts of deduction (istinbāṭ), or complementing past scholars’ extensive treatment of the subject. It is not good to say that this door has closed, or claim that the subject has been studied to saturation. Indeed, the Qur’ān’s objectives remain open to renewal through fresh contemplation in the Book of Allāh, the Exalted, rising [like the sun] from among its words and constructs, and bubbling [like a spring] from in between its verses and sections.

In this day and age, it is quite apparent that research and studies have gravitated towards the discipline of Islamic law objectives (maqāṣid). These have explored and addressed numerous issues and valuable questions, alluded to by leading scholars of this venerable discipline. Therefore, within the history of Islamic sciences, our time truly deserves the title of “the maqāṣid era”.

Yet, in my humble opinion, despite such progress, some issues still need broader and deeper examination, including this modest work on “the objective of reforming human thinking in the Noble Qur’ān”. Indeed, to my knowledge, no one has subjected it to investigation independent of other areas, in a way that covers most of its issues and questions. Rather, in the works of early scholars (al-qudāmā), notably books of exegesis (tafsīr) and theology (‘ilm al-kalām), we find scattered hints and disparate notes, lacking a common, uniting thread.

Nevertheless, we find an important note by Imām Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (may Allāh have mercy on him) in his book “Jawāhir al-Qur’ān wa durarah. There he spoke about the types of verses and chapters of the Qur’ān, classifying them into six kinds. He defined the “the fifth” as relating to “evidenced argumentation (muḥājah) and debate (mujādalah) with the unbelievers”1. In truth, this is only one of many kinds, concerned with reform of human thinking, in learning how to challenge, and leverage arguments, as well as refute the specious arguments (shubuhāt) of intransigent persons and adversaries. Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: “Shedding light on their disgraces with clear proof, and exposing their falsehoods and illusions… The evidenced argumentation applied by Allāh, the Exalted, to challenge them, comprises fine signs and truths, and is the superior medicine, while His signs are also abundant and clearly dominant”2.

The titles of some past authored works give the impression that they deal with these types of studies; for example, “Ḥujjaj al-Qur’ān (the Qur’ān’s arguments)” by Aḥmad b. Muḥammad Abū al-‘Abbāsī Badr al-Dīn al-Rāzī al-Ḥanafī (d. after 630AH); similarly, “Ḥikayat al-munāẓarah fī al-Qur’ān ma‘ā ba‘ḍ ahl al-bida‘ (lit. Recounting the debate in the Qur’ān with some people of bida‘)” by Ibn Qadāmah al-Maqdisī (d. 620AH). Yet, in reality, these works are deeply immersed in theology (‘ilm al-kalām), extracting the arguments from the Noble Qur’ān of each group of theologians.

Without doubt, contemporary scholars paid more attention to objectives of this kind. Initially, this took the form of guiding signals, and perspicacious hints. Among these scholars are the erudite, Muhammad Rashid Rida3,Muhammad al-Tahir Ibn Ashur4, our teacher, Ahmed Raissouni (may Allāh preserve him)5, and Dr Abdal Karim Hamdi6.

However, we do not find any study that has comprehensively collated material, to the level of detail needed to elucidate this noble Qur’ānic objective, namely the objective of reforming human thinking, in tracing the relevant verses and revealing its forms. For this reason, we hope that this study embodies a building block in the foundation, and young shoot planted with the aspiration that it bears fruit, by its Lord’s permission.

What I wish to emphasise here, is that the Qur’ānic purpose of reforming human thinking is quite strongly related to the objective of civilising settlement (al-‘imrān); meaning that if establishing civilisation is one of the objectives of Islamic law (maqāṣid), then this objective cannot be achieved without other objectives, including the objective of reforming human thinking. The reason is that the objectives are interconnected, and one leads to the other; they are also mutually interdependent, in an integrated and harmonious manner, much like pearls of a necklace.

Therefore, the Noble Qur’ān builds the capacity for sound thinking in the human being, and thanks to that, civilising settlement takes place. Furthermore, this qualifies the human being to act as Allāh’s vicegerent. This is the theory of reform, whose principles and features are illustrated in the Noble Qur’ān.

First area of enquiry: reforming human thinking through knowledge (al-‘ilm) and reading (al-qirā’ah)

It is apparent from contemplation that the first verses to be revealed of the Noble Qur’ān represent the first instance of thinking reform, emphasised by the Glorious Qur’ān. As such, this embodies wisdoms and objectives of great importance, along with powerful connotations and eloquent signs. The first verses of the Qur’ān to be revealed are: {“Read: In the Name of your Lord who created; created man from clots of blood. Read: And your Lord is the Most Generous; He who taught by the pen; He taught man what he did not know”} (Sūrat al-‘Alaq 1-5).

This constitutes an explicit invitation to read and learn, and appears in the context of honouring, expressing favour upon, and recognising the human being. Al-‘Izz b. ‘Abd al-Salām (may Allāh have mercy on him) said:

“In this way, He, the Exalted, reminded us of His favour in the disciplines of knowledge [acquired] through learning writing, saying: {“He taught man what he did not know”} (Sūrat al-‘Alaq 5); also, {“… in the way that He taught you what you previously did not know”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 239); and: {“… he teaches them the Book and Wisdom …”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 129)”7.

“Of His magnanimity, the Exalted, is that he taught the human being what he did not know; therefore, granting honour, and status through knowledge, which is the degree by which the father of all mankind, Adam, was granted merit over the Angels”8.

In this way, Adam’s (peace be upon him) beginning and initiation was all about learning; Allāh, the Exalted, taught him the names of everything. The Exalted says: {“He taught Adam the names of all things. Then He arrayed them before the angels and said, ‘Tell me the names of these if you are telling the truth.’ They said, ‘Glory be to You! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.’ He said, ‘Adam, tell them their names.’ When he had told them their names, He said, ‘Did I not tell you that I know the Unseen of the heavens and the earth, and I know what you make known and what you hide?’ ”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 31-33). Hence, his status was raised above the Angels through the knowledge that Allāh taught him, while the Angels did not receive any of that. Therefore, he deserved to be the vicegerent on Earth; many exegesis scholars chose this meaning9.

Furthermore, the first verses of Revelation began by requesting reading. This is what Allāh, the Exalted, commanded His Noble Messenger (peace be upon him) and his nation after him, in: {“Read: In the Name of your Lord who created”} (Sūrat al-‘Alaq 1).

Hence, there appears to be some aspect of suitability (al-munāsib), or methodological linkage between what the human being was first taught—expressed by “’allam”, namely science and knowledge, and the first command sent down, i.e. “iqra’ ” or read. This alludes to, and draws attention to, the first thing to start with in reforming human thinking, namely to plant knowledge, learning, and reading in the Muslim nation (Ummah). Both acquiring knowledge and reading are sources for building sound and valid thinking, which references scientific and knowledge standards, and logical and rational proofs, and forms the basis for civilisation and human settlement. No doubt that reading and instruction both cultivate the human’s faculties, and expand his horizons, rising to lofty heights of refinement and glory, by which he achieves the objective of civilising settlement (al-‘imrān)—another required objective of Islamic law.

No question then that from the outset, the boon of existence has been tied to education, which was the case from the beginning of Adam’s (peace be upon him) creation. In this context—meaning the first verses of the Noble Qur’ān to be revealed—reading is also linked to the name of the One granting existence, namely Allāh, the Exalted, as in: {“Read: In the Name of your Lord who created”} (Sūrat al-‘Alaq 1). Undoubtedly, this indicates that reforming human thinking cannot be achieved except by connecting knowledge to Revelation, and connecting reading to the Granter of existence, Who bestows life and all bounties. This is the basis of true reform of human thinking. Indeed, divesting reading of anything from this perspective would result in defective understanding of the essence of the human being himself, and the universe in which he lives, unravelling the relationship between these issues.

At this juncture, it appears to me that the intended reading is not that limited to deciphering letter symbols with their associated marks, or distinguishing words from each other. Certainly, this is the primary stage of reading, and not—as appears to me—the correct manner of reading. Even then, this kind of reading is not pursued for its own sake, but must be accompanied by reflection (tadabbur) and contemplation (ta’amul), as well as engaging thought processes, and stimulating the intellect; thus, transporting the mind from a state of inaction and stagnation to that of stimulation and engagement. For this purpose, in the Qur’ān, Allāh employed a style comprising reproach, denunciation, and censure of all those, who do not reflect on the Qur’ān, whether polytheists or otherwise; {“Will they not ponder on the Qur’an, or are there locks upon their hearts?”} (Sūrat Muḥammad 24), and {“Will they not ponder on the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allāh, they would have found many inconsistencies in it”} (Sūrat al-Nisā’ 82). Indeed, reflective reading develops into cognitive reading, which has the greatest impact on reforming thinking. However, only those persons possessing hearts that are aware, and of grand stature, engage in this kind of reading. In contrast, those with locked hearts, and closed minds, mostly stop at reading letter symbols, or perhaps, what words symbolise if given the opportunity to develop slightly; yet, without diving deep into meanings and connotations, and discerning concepts and pointers.

No question then that the required reading is cognitive and methodological, based essentially on contemplation and reflection on the Revelation—led by its guidance, enlightened by its directives, and illumined by its instructions and directives. Together, these bear fruit in reforming human thinking, given that it is reading in the name of the Lord of existence, the Creator, Prime Benefactor, and the Benevolent. Adherence to this reading is prescribed, as evidenced by the action of the letter “bā’ ”in His, the Exalted, saying: {“Read: In the Name of your Lord who created”}; meaning abide by reading in the name of the Lord, the Exalted, encompassing all the meanings and majesty of Divine Lordship10.

The Qur’ān guides to the means of acquiring knowledge

The Noble Qur’ān does not limit itself to requesting reading in the way that we discussed previously. Rather, it reminds people of its favour, and instructs them on how to acquire, preserve, and foster knowledge. The desired outcome is that it is disseminated and transmitted from one generation to the next, and from one age to another.

We may divide the means to acquire knowledge into two kinds:

First: intrinsic means, by which I mean those related to the human being himself. The Qur’ān mentions some of these, namely the senses of hearing, tongue, sight, smell, taste, and touch, as well as emotional heart (al-qalb), spiritual heart (al-fu’ād), and intellect (al-‘aql). Some are presented in the context of a reminder of Allāh’s favour. Others are mentioned in the context of censure and reproach for the unbelievers and polytheists. Excoriated for their failure to profit from these faculties in a sound and correct manner, having disabled, and failed to properly utilise them, as required and desired. Since their senses were disabled, they are given the opposite description in the Noble Qur’ān, namely that they are deaf, dumb, blind, and lack intellect and understanding, as in the following verses:

· He, the Exalted says: {“It is He who has created hearing, sight and hearts for you. What little thanks you show ”} (Sūrat al-Mu’minūn 78).

· Also, {“Allāh brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing at all, and gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that perhaps you would show thanks”} (Sūrat al-Naḥl 78).

· He, the Exalted says: {“… and gave you hearing, sight and hearts. What little thanks you show ”} (Sūrat al-Sajdah 9).

· He, the Supreme in Majesty: {“We created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell. They have hearts they do not understand with. They have eyes they do not see with. They have ears they do not hear with. Such people are like cattle. No, they are even further astray  They are the unaware”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 179).

· He, the Exalted says: {“Have they not travelled about the earth and do they not have hearts to understand with or ears to hear with? It is not their eyes which are blind but the hearts in their breasts which are blind”} (Sūrat al-Ḥajj 46).

· He, the Exalted says: {“The likeness of those who are unbelievers is that of someone who yells out to something which cannot hear – it is nothing but a cry and a call. Deaf – dumb – blind. They do not use their intellect”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 171).

· He, the Exalted says: {“We established them far more firmly than We have established you, and gave them hearing, sight and hearts. But their hearing, sight and hearts were of no use to them at all when they renounced Allāh’s Signs and what they mocked engulfed them”} (Sūrat al-Aḥqāf 26). He, the Exalted says: {“Deaf, dumb, blind. They do not respond”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 18).

· He, the Exalted says: {“… then when they tasted the tree, their private parts were revealed to them …”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 22).

· He, the Exalted says: {“Even if We were to send down a book to you on parchment pages and they were actually to touch it with their own hands…”} (Sūrat al-An’ām 7).

· He, the Exalted says, on the tongue His Prophet Jacob (Ya‘qūb): {“… I can smell Joseph’s (Yūsuf) scent …”} (Sūrat Yūsuf 94).

These noble verses guide us to the means of acquiring scientific knowledge. In addition, they inform us that remedying these means is considered the essence of human thinking reform, and the reverse is true. In particular, the Noble Qur’ān draws our attention to, and advises of, the most important and most effective means for knowledge acquisition; these are the faculties of hearing, sight, and spiritual heart (al-fu’ād), as though the remaining ones are subordinate to these11.

Hence, in the context of extolling Allāh’s favour upon us, these have been mentioned most; He, the Exalted says: {“It is He who has created hearing, sight and hearts for you. What little thanks you show ”} (Sūrat al-Mu’minūn 78); and He, the Exalted says: {“Allāh brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing at all, and gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that perhaps you would show thanks”} (Sūrat al-Naḥl 78). We would not be wrong to say that there is a connection and relationship between the means of comprehension and cognitive reading; indeed, the latter cannot be achieved, unless the former are sound12.

However, the human being may listen, observe, see, and speak, but these faculties do not function properly, or as required; they may not be guided to the correct way and path of rectitude, but remain servile to their owner’s whims, desires and vain purposes. In his exegesis, Al-Qurṭubī points to this meaning, saying: “it is not the purpose of what we mention to entirely negate sensibility of their faculties, but the purpose is to negate it in some aspect”13. Hence, they were described as: deaf, which in the Arabic language signifies blockage, i.e. the openings for audition are blocked; dumb, which is absence of speech and understanding due to a defect of the tongue; and blind due to the loss of sight; hence, {“… Deaf – dumb – blind. They do not use their intellect”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 171). These faculties were overcome by defects and instabilities, deviating from performing their functions properly, and as such were detached from good reason and sense. This is because their

standard and criteria for judgement are disabled, with no connection to the mind. The result of an impenetrable covering of accumulated residue arising from imitation (taqlīd) and ignorance, as well as subservience to, and dependency on, a lopsided reality. This led to complete distortion of concepts and visions, inevitably leading to dysfunctional judgement. The senses are subordinate to the centre of rational thought and sensibility, receiving their instructions and judgements from there, and together are in complete integration and harmony. Therefore, commensurate with the state of intellect, whether strong, weak, or lacking, and whether guided or astray, the senses are active. In corollary, where the senses are in good shape, then judgements will also be sound.

From here, we find the Noble Qur’ān linking between the function of the senses and the function of the mind in many of its verses; for example:

· He, the Exalted says: {“… But can you make the deaf hear even though they cannot understand?”} (Sūrat Yūnus 42).

· He, the Exalted says, recounting the words of the unbelievers in the punishment of hellfire: {“… ‘If only we had really listened and used our intellect, we would not have been Companions of the Blaze’ ”} (Sūrat al-Mulk 10).

· He, the Exalted says: {“Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand?...”} (Sūrat al-Furqān 44).

· He, the Exalted says: {“… and [He] gave you hearing, sight and hearts. What little thanks you show ”} (Sūrat al-Sajdah 9).

We have previously cited a set of verses suitable for this context.

No question then that if the human mind is sound, and the way it functions is also sound, then the senses respond, and work according to the direction given by the mind. This in contrast to animals, whose senses work automatically, in obedience to their instincts. Today, science has discovered that the senses function by signalling, receiving, or transmitting stimuli to the brain centre that comprehends things, and in turn, issues judgements. However, the Noble Qur’ān informs us that these are completely disabled in a class of people, who choose to perform their function in life like grazing animals, or indeed, they are even further astray. They do not benefit from the sense’s integral to their creation, and refuse to follow the way of the intellect—the power centre for managing and directing the senses towards their true functions, with which they have been tasked.

For this reason, Divine elucidation, and the Almighty’s directive came in the form of reproach and censure; He, the Exalted, says: {“We created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell. They have hearts they do not understand with. They have eyes they do not see with. They have ears they do not hear with. Such people are like cattle. No, they are even further astray They are the unaware”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 179).

He, the Exalted also says: {“O’ you who have belief obey Allāh and His Messenger. And do not turn away from him when you are able to hear. Do not be like those who say, ‘We hear,’ when they do not hear. The worst of beasts in Allāh’s sight are the deaf and dumb who have no intellect”} (Sūrat al-Anfāl 20-22).

He, the Exalted, Most High, says: {“Have they not travelled about the earth and do they not have hearts to understand with or ears to hear with? It is not their eyes which are blind but the hearts in their breasts, which are blind”} (Sūrat al-Ḥajj 46).

If the Noble Qur’ān connects the senses and the mind in the acquisition of correct scientific knowledge, then it does not stop at that. Rather, it explains the human being’s responsibility for their senses, and the trust they hold in preserving them, especially hearing and sight. Moreover, it provides direction, guidance, and illustration, such that these faculties are spared loss, due to misuse in what is not beneficial. He, the Exalted says: {“… Hearing, sight and hearts will all be subject to question”} (Sūrat al-Isrā’ 36).

Abū Bakr al- Jaṣāṣ, the exegesis scholar, said: “In it is demonstration that Allāh has right over us in hearing, sight, and spiritual heart (al-fu’ād); the individual is responsible for what they do with these faculties, in listening to what is unlawful, looking at what is not allowed, and desiring what is abhorrent”14.

Al-Qurṭubī says: “That is, each one of these is questioned on what it gained; the spiritual heart (al-fu’ād) is asked about its thoughts, and beliefs; hearing and sight about what they saw and heard. It was said: this means that Allāh, the Exalted, Most High, questions the human being on themselves, their hearing, sight, and spiritual heart (al-fu’ād); its similitude is the statement of the Messenger (peace be upon him): ‘all of you are shepherds, and all of you are responsible for your flock’ ”15.

Due to the magnitude of this grave responsibility, the Noble Prophetic tradition (ḥadīth) demonstrated the rituality of supplication for preserving the body generally, and hearing and sight, especially. On the authority of ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. Abū Bakrah, he said: I said to my father: O’ father, I hear you say every morning: ‘O’ my Lord, give me good health in my body, O’ my Lord, give me good health in my hearing, O’ my Lord, give me good health in my sight; there is no God but you’, and you repeat this three times in the morning, and three times in the evening. He said: O’ my son, I heard the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) supplicate with these words, and I love to follow his Sunnah16.

The author of “Marqāt al-mafātīḥ sharḥ Mishkāt al-maṣābih”, Abū al-Ḥasan Nūr al-Dīn al-Mullā al-Harawī al-Qārī (d. 1014AH), said: “He selected both for mention, “hearing and sight”, because the sight apprehends Allāh’s signs fixed in the horizons, while hearing apprehends the signs revealed to the Messengers, and so both bring together the comprehension of both revealed (naglī) and rational (‘aglī) evidence; the precedence of hearing in order of mention, is an indication of its merit; the Messenger (peace be upon him) said: ‘O’ my Lord, give us enjoyment of our hearing, sight, and strength, so long as we live, and make both our inheritors’ ”17.

Second: extrinsic means, i.e. those means of writing and recording that preserve acquired knowledge. At their forefront are the pen and the book, but also including every other means performing the same function, and as such, afforded similar status. Allāh, the Exalted, reminded human beings of His favour in that he taught with the pen, saying: {“Read: And your Lord is the Most Generous; He who taught by the pen; He taught man what he did not know”} (Sūrat al-‘Alaq 3-5). This is a reminder of His favour, and alludes to the pen’s singular status, as well as underscoring the importance of recording knowledge and documenting sciences. Therefore, as Sayyid Qutb (may Allāh have mercy on him) said about the pen: “it continues to be the one learning instrument among others with the most extensive, and most profound influence on human life”18. For this reason, Allāh, the Exalted, made it subject of His oath, and named a chapter of Qur’ān after it, namely Sūrat al-Qalam. He, the Exalted, says at the outset [of this chapter], elucidating its place of honour and stature: {“Nūn. By the Pen and what they write down ”} (Sūrat al-Qalam 1).

Al-Zamakhsharī said: “He made an oath by the pen, elevating it, due to the grand wisdom manifesting in its creation and fashioning, and given the benefits and utilities beyond description”19.

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah says after his typical extensive treatment, elucidating the merits and types of the pen: “It is sufficient [demonstration] of the pen’s majesty that it alone was used to write Allāh’s Books, and that Allāh, the Exalted, swore an oath on it in His Book, and introduced Himself to others that it is He, Who taught with the pen. Indeed, what our Prophet was sent with, has reached us by virtue of the pen”20.

In sum, from what has been presented, the function of the senses is to acquire knowledge and the sciences. Moreover, the senses have an intimate link and inseparable relationship with the mind; a relationship of influencing and being influenced, and integration and harmony. Furthermore, the senses can only be reformed by utilising them according to the intent of Islamic law, and by materialising its objectives in reality. The outcome is that they perform their function in the best manner, far from all psychological tendencies that are an obstruction to scientific thinking, and barrier to sound contemplation and understanding. Moreover, the function of the pen and the book is to record knowledge and document sciences for progress in civilisation, and to secure the objective of civilising development (al-‘imrān). Therefore, Allāh’s wisdom required Adam’s beginnings be founded on knowledge and learning; indeed, the first verses of the Qur’ān that were revealed contained the command to read, and the secrets and wisdoms in this are patent. The Muslim must elevate himself in the domains of thought and civilisation, follow the objective of knowledge and learning, and tie knowledge to Revelation; this was the Messengers’ and Prophets’ message, with the pen and writing as the means to this. Each Messenger came with the Book and Wisdom; He, the Exalted says: {“Remember when Allāh made a covenant with the Prophets: ‘Now that We have given you a share of the Book and Wisdom…”} (Sūrat Āl-‘Imrān 81); and {“It is He who raised up among the unlettered people a Messenger from them to recite His Signs to them and purify them and teach them the Book and Wisdom…”} (Sūrat al-Jumu‘ah 2).

Second area of enquiry: reforming human thinking through presentation of proofs (al-barhanah) and argumentation (al-istidlāl)

Since the previous treatment is established and clear, then one of the Noble Qur’ān’s objectives in the reform of human thinking is to entrench the approach of adhering to proof, argument, and evidence. This is needed to build a robust, scientific mentality far from misconceptions and illusions, and isolated from self-delusion and presumption. In this way, scientific thinking is differentiated from that based on superstition and legend.
We define three issues, regarding this kind of objective for human thinking reform presented in the Noble Qur’ān:
First: that He, the Exalted, Most High, is the Possessor of the conclusive argument (al-ḥujjah al-bālighah), and from him it issued.

Second: that Allāh, the Exalted, sent His Messengers with arguments, clear evidence, proofs, and signs.
Third: that Allāh, the Exalted demanded that his servants follow evidence and submit proof, and forbade them to imitate their ancestors. We consider the first and second to be an introduction to the third.
First issue: He, the Exalted, Most High, is the Possessor of the conclusive argument (al-ḥujjah al-bālighah), as He says: {“Say: Allāh’s is the conclusive argument…”} (Sūrat al-An‘ām 149); conclusive argument that achieves the intent, reproaches ingrates and censures intransigents. This noble verse is located in a context, where it follows the presentation of a number of marvellous signs relating to the creation, and those bounties, with which Allāh has favoured mankind. In addition, where the polytheists had prohibited what Allāh had decreed to be lawful, and were asked to submit arguments founded on knowledge. They retreated in defeat, as they had been persistently pursuing their presumptions. From here, Allāh’s argument was conclusive, and who may object to it other than the intransigent and arrogant, who demean themselves. Al-Qurṭubī (may Allāh have mercy on him) says: “His, the Exalted, saying: {“Say: Allāh’s is the conclusive argument”}, i.e. one that defeats the excuse of those of inferior argument, and eliminates the doubts of those who examine it. His conclusive argument in this, is His clarification that He is the One, and His sending Messengers and Prophets; He explained monotheism (tawḥīd) through examination of the creatures, supported the Messengers with miracles, and those accountable before Allāh (mukallaf) surrendered to His command”21.

Allāh, the Exalted, presents arguments to his servants, and issues proofs and evidence about His Supreme Self. For what purpose? {“… so that people will have no argument against Allāh…”} (Sūrat al-Nisā’ 165). This matter is connected to His Noble Names, especially the All-knowing (al-‘Alīm), All-Wise (al-Ḥakīm), and Supremely Just (al-‘Adl). No question then that the indicants (adillah, sing. dalīl) issued by Him, the Exalted, presented through the tongue of His Messengers and Prophets, are among the manifestations of these holy names.
Indeed, if He, the Exalted is the possessor of the conclusive argument—issued by him, and that He, the Exalted is All-knowing (al-‘Alīm), All-Wise (al-Ḥakīm), and Supremely Just (al-‘Adl), then possessing these names obliges establishing proofs, and presenting arguments and evidence to all issues and questions; indeed, the complete negation of blind pursuit of presumptions, delusions, and illusions, or following ancestors without evidence.
Second issue: that Allāh, the Exalted, sent His Messengers with clear proofs, and supplied them with the Book (al-kitāb) and the Balance (al-mīzān).

Allāh, the Exalted is the possessor of the conclusive argument, which indicates His wisdom, justice, and unbounded knowledge; His wisdom implies sending Messengers supported by clear evidence, unequivocal indicants, and amazing miracles; He, the Exalted says: {“We sent Our Messengers with the Clear Signs and sent down the Book and the Balance with them so that mankind might establish justice…”} (Sūrat al-Ḥadīd 25). These are:
· In His saying: {“… Say, ‘Messengers came to you before me with the Clear Signs and with what you say. So why did you kill them if you are telling the truth?’ If they deny you, Messengers before you were also denied, who brought the Clear Signs and written texts and the illuminating Book”} (Sūrat Āl-‘Imrān 183-184).

· His saying: {“Before you, We sent other Messengers to their people, and they too brought them the Clear Signs. We took revenge on those who did evil; and it is Our duty to help the believers”} (Sūrat al-Rūm 47).
· His saying: {“If they deny you, those before them also denied the truth. Their Messengers came to them with Clear Signs, and psalms and the Illuminating Book”} (Sūrat Fāṭir 25).
· His saying: {“That was because their Messengers brought them the Clear Signs but they remained unbelievers. So Allāh seized them. He is Most Strong, Severe in Retribution. We sent Moses (Mūsā) with Our Signs and clear authority”} (Sūrat Ghāfir 22-23).

· His saying: {“We destroyed generations before you when they did wrong. Their Messengers brought them the Clear Signs, but they were never going to have faith. That is how We repay evildoers”} (Sūrat Yūnus 13).
· His saying: {“Have they not travelled in the earth and seen the final fate of those before them? They had greater strength than them and cultivated the land and inhabited it in far greater numbers than they do. Their Messengers also came to them with the Clear Signs. Allāh would never have wronged them; but they wronged themselves.”} (Sūrat al-Rūm 9).
· And His saying: {“Has the news of those who came before them not reached them the people of Noah (Nūḥ) and ‘Ād and Thamūd, and the people of Abraham (Ibrāhīm) and the inhabitants of Madyan and the overturned cities? Their Messengers brought them the Clear Signs. Allāh did not wrong them; rather they wronged themselves.”} (Sūrat al-Tawbah 70).

Scholars of exegesis have explained these noble verses and other similar ones, including those of Sūrat al-Ḥadīd. They were inclined to say that all Messengers were sent with arguments, indicants, enlightening verses, clear proofs, and a Book containing rulings and laws, as well as the Balance. This Balance is justice in everything, including the scientific and rational criteria founded on evidence and proofs. Ibn Kathīr stated: “The truth to which sound, righteous minds—as opposed to sick opinions—testify”22. Furthermore, this indicates the unity of the Message and unity of the approach.

Al-Ṭabarī states: “He, Supreme in mention says: We have sent Our Messengers with detailed explanations and indicants, and sent down with them the Book with rulings and laws, and the Balance of justice”23. Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī cites Muqātil b. Sulaymān that “al-Bayyināt” signify “dominant miracles and crushing indicants”. He considered this as the verse’s correct exegesis, basing his argument on the fact that “their Prophethood was proven through these miracles”24.

The Prophets’ proofs and arguments
In this context, we wish to explore some indicants, evidences, and arguments presented by some of Allāh’s Messengers (peace and blessing of Allāh on them). We shall use these as evidence and arguments to establish the objective nature of reforming human thinking, where these cement the methodology of sound argumentation, based on indicants and proofs. For example:

He, the Exalted, saying: {“We gave Mūsā the Book and sent a succession of Messengers after him. We gave Jesus (‘Īsā), son of Maryam, the Clear Signs and reinforced him with the Pure Spirit [Angel Jibrīl]. Why then, whenever a Messenger came to you with something your lower selves did not desire, did you grow arrogant, and deny some of them and murder others? They say, ‘Our hearts are wrapped.’ Rather, Allāh has cursed them for their unbelief. What little faith they have ”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 87-88).

However, while Allāh did not detail these clear evidences in this verse, He clarified them in other places in the Qur’ān; for example, His saying, on the tongue of His Prophet Jesus (‘Īsā) (peace be upon him): {“…as a Messenger to the tribe of Israel, saying: ‘I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. I will create the shape of a bird out of clay for you and then breathe into it and it will be a bird by Allah’s permission. I will heal the blind and lepers, and bring the dead to life, by Allah’s permission. I will tell you what you eat and what you store in your homes…”} (Sūrat Āl-‘Imrān 49); and

{“Remember when Allāh will say, ‘‘Isa, son of Maryam, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit [Angel Jibrīl] so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Bible (al-Injīl); and when you created a bird-shape out of clay by My permission, and then breathed into it and it became a bird by My permission; and healed the blind and the leper by My permission; and when you brought forth the dead by My permission; and when I held back the tribe of Israel from you, when you brought them the Clear Signs and those of them who were unbelievers said, ‘This is nothing but downright magic’ ”} (Sūrat al-Mā’idah 110).

He, the Exalted, speaking to Moses (Mūsā): {“Throw down your staff ’ Then when he saw it slithering like a snake he turned and fled and did not turn back again. ‘Mūsā, approach and have no fear You are one of those who are secure. Put your hand inside your shirt front. It will emerge pure white yet quite unharmed. And hug your arms to your sides to still your fear. These are two proofs from your Lord for Pharaoh and his ruling circle. They are a deviant people.’ ”} (Sūrat al-Qaṣaṣ 31-32).

Moreover, in Sūrat la-Isrā’, He, the Exalted, mentioned that the number of clear signs was nine; He, the Exalted says: {“We gave Mūsā nine Clear Signs. Ask the tribe of Israel about when he came to them and Pharaoh said to him, ‘Mūsā, I think you are bewitched.’ ”} (Sūrat al-Isrā’ 101). Al-Ṭabarī cites Ibn ‘Abbās that “the nine clear signs are: his hand, staff, and tongue, and the sea, the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs, and the blood, as clear distinct signs”25. Together with the Book, his nine clear signs form clear authority, meaning dominating argument and proof. He, the Exalted says: {“We sent Mūsā with Our Signs and clear authority (sulṭān)”} (Sūrat Hūd 96: Sūrat Ghāfir 23).

Ibn Ashur states: “and ‘sulṭān’: means clear proof, i.e. demonstrating the truth of the one who comes with it, comprising either a rational argument or Divine aid”26.

In sum, the Noble Qur’ān establishes that all of Allāh’s Messengers came with clear evidence, i.e. clear indicants, compelling miracles, and unequivocal proofs. Indeed, Allāh sent every Prophet or Messenger with a dominating argument and Book. The purpose is to demolish the argument of every dishonest apologist, or denying atheist, or indeed, to refute the specious argument of every deviant, or stamp out the calumny of every sinful slanderer. It also contains teaching for the followers of the Prophets to adhere to argumentation, and provide proofs to the Message’s opponents, and to establish indicants for every issue—scientific, social, political, or otherwise. No question then that every issue not ruled by indicants, and not based on proof, falls foul of the approach promulgated by Allāh’s Messengers, and is a violation of the Noble Qur’ān’s objective. He, The Almighty, says: {“Messengers bringing good news and giving warning, so that people will have no argument against Allāh after the coming of the Messengers. Allāh is Almighty, All-Wise”} (Sūrat al-Nisā’ 165).

Third issue: the Noble Qur’ān’s invitation to follow evidence and submit proof
This issue is in complete harmony with the previous two, in that Allāh, the Exalted, is possessor of the conclusive argument, and that He sent His Messengers with clear evidence, indicants, and proofs. With this in mind, we shall address one of the principles or indeed, law, promoted by the Noble Qur’ān, demanding and entrenching the objective of reforming human thinking. In addition, building human knowledge on robust cognitive and scientific foundations, which adopt indicants and proof, and abide by argument and clear authority, not delusion and imaginings. Hence, Allāh demanded that proof be established for the Message, and forbade following and saying without basis in knowledge. He, the Almighty, ruled as unlawful (ḥarām) those statements not based on knowledge or indicants, unfounded presumption, and following and imitation (taqlīd) without proof. In this way, the Qur’ān lays the foundation for an epistemological approach, whose backbone is indicants and proof, by which—in the words of Morteza Motahhari in his book, “Ma‘rifat al-Qur’ān”—it addresses “the human mind with the language of logic and argumentation”, which is one of its educational functions27.

In order to illustrate the Noble Qur’ān’s invitation to establishing argument, and adopting proof, we present a number of noble verses as follows:
Invitation to submit proof:
· He, the Exalted says: {“They say, ‘No one will enter Paradise except for Jews and Christians.’ Such is their vain hope. Say, ‘Produce your proof if you are telling the truth’ ”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 111).
· He, the Exalted says: {“Or have they taken other gods besides Him? Say: ‘Produce your proof This is the message of those with me and the message of those before me.’ But most of them do not know the truth, so they turn away”} (Sūrat al-Anbiyā’ 24).
· He, the Exalted says: {“He Who originates creation and then regenerates it and provides for you from out of heaven and earth. Is there another god besides Allāh? Say: ‘Bring your proof if you are being truthful’ ”} (Sūrat al-Naml 64).
· He, the Exalted says: {“… so that those who died would die with clear proof, and those who lived would live with clear proof. Allāh is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”} (Sūrat al-Anfāl 42).
· He, the Exalted says: {“They say, ‘Allāh has a son.’ Glory be to Him He is the Rich Beyond Need. Everything in the heavens and everything on the earth belongs to Him. Have you authority to say this or are you saying about Allāh what you do not know?”} (Sūrat Yūnus 68).

Proof, argument, indicant, clear sign or clear explanation, authority, Divine sign, and symbol, are all synonyms with differing connotations (naẓā’ir) mentioned in the Noble Qur’ān; this was the basis adopted by legal theorists (uṣūliyyūn), even though under closer scrutiny, the lexical significance of some, may be more powerful and profound than others28.

For lexicologists, the term ‘burhān’ signifies ‘clear decisive argument’29, meaning one that overpowers an opponent’s intransigence due to its strong argument and unequivocalness. On the meaning of the first verse of Sūrat al-Baqarah, Abū Ja‘far al-Ṭabarī said: “This is a command from Allāh (Noble in praise) to His Prophet (peace be upon him) to call upon those who said, as Allāh recounts: {“No one will enter Paradise except for Jews and Christians”} to apply fairness to all groups, Muslims, Jews, and Christians, which is to establish evidence for their claim, in that only Jews and Christians will enter Paradise. Allāh says to His Prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him): O’ Muḥammad (say) to those claiming that only Jews and Christians will enter Paradise to the exclusion of all others of the human race: ‘bring forth your proof’ to substantiate your claim, so that if you are correct, we may surrender to your claim—that only Jews and Christians will enter Paradise”30.

The Noble Qur’ān demands that they establish proof, evidence, and argument for their blatant, blanket claim that only their co-religionists and the like will enter Paradise. This is the same approach used by the Noble Qur’ān to challenge the polytheists in their claim that their idols do weird and wonderful things. Indeed, it sets the scene with powerful argumentation that refutes their claims and lies. It is quite clear that the underlying purpose for all this, is to silence every conjecturer, spinner of fake statements, or false claimant, who lacks proof and argument to support their proposal. At the same time, it teaches this Muslim nation the approach it must follow in properly locating its issues and affairs on a knowledge and scientific framework, according to the particulars of knowledge founded on proof and argument.

Thus, the Noble Qur’ān lays the foundation for a scientific rule, namely: no statement is accepted without indicant. The erudite Rashid Rida elucidated this rule, claiming that it is unique to the Noble Qur’ān: “Then He, the Exalted, demanded that they submit proof of their claim, and established a rule unique to the Noble Qur’ān among the Revealed Books, which is that no one’s statement is accepted without substantiating indicant; moreover, no judgement is granted in favour of a claim without supporting proof; this is because the nations that were addressed by the past Books were not prepared for independence of thought, and knowing things through evidence and proofs, and hence, it was sufficient for them to imitate their Prophets in what they convey, even if they did not know its proof…”31
We agree with the erudite Rashid Rida (may Allāh have mercy on him) in the fact that the Noble Qur’ān establishes the rule that he expanded upon, i.e. ‘no statement is accepted from anybody without indicant’; this is a sound truism. However, what to me requires further scrutiny, is his claim that it is one of the unique aspects of the Noble Qur’ān, absent in other Books of Divine Revelation; yet, I fail to identify the Prophet on which he based his opinion.

It is worth noting that the Noble Qur’ān itself establishes that all the Prophets were sent with clear evidence, indicants, and the Book. It spoke about how early nations in the past demanded proof and evidence, as they debated with their Prophets; Allāh, the Exalted, says: {“They say, ‘If only he would bring us a Sign from his Lord ’ Have they not received the Clear Sign of what is written in the earlier texts?”} (Sūrat Ṭāhā 133); and {“Ask the tribe of Israel how many Clear Signs We gave to them. If anyone alters Allāh’s blessing after it has come to him, Allāh is fierce in retribution”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 211). Moreover, Allāh, the Exalted, describes the Torah and Bible as guidance and light; He, the Exalted, says: {“We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light…”} (Sūrat al-Mā’idah 44). These two descriptors were used, because they included strong indicants for the correctness of belief. Al-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī (may Allāh have mercy on him) states in his exegesis: “Guidance and light indicate the same meaning, but ‘guidance’ is used in recognition of the indicants presented, while ‘light’ is used for its assistance in discerning these indicants”32.

Ibn Ashur (may Allāh have mercy on him) states: “Guidance and light are the indicants of both”33 these Books. It is no secret that the uppermost matter that the Prophets conveyed to their people is correct belief, in which imitation (taqlīd) is not accepted at all34.

Prohibition on speaking without knowledge

The Noble Qur’ān mentioned something with an intimate relationship to adhering to argument, and establishing proof to reform human thinking. This is the prohibition on expounding on what the human has no knowledge of, or to speak without basis in knowledge; for example:
· He, the Exalted says: {“Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of…”} (Sūrat al-Isrā’ 36).
· He, the Most High says: {“Mankind Eat what is good and lawful on the earth. And do not follow in the footsteps of satan (shaytān). He truly is an outright enemy to you. He only commands you to do evil and indecent acts and to say about Allāh what you do not know”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 168-169).
· He, Supreme in Majesty, says: {“Say: ‘My Lord has forbidden indecency, both overt and concealed, and wrong action, aggression without right, and associating anything with Allāh for which He has sent down no authority, and saying things about Allāh you do not know”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 33).
· He, the Exalted, says: {“Say: ‘Have you thought about those you call upon apart from Allāh? Show me what they have created on the earth. Or do they have a partnership in the heavens? Produce a Book for me before this one, or a shred of knowledge if you are telling the truth’ ”} (Sūrat al-Aḥqāf 4).
· He, the Exalted, Most High, says, in the words of the young men of the cave: {“These people of ours have taken gods apart from Him. Why do they not produce a clear authority concerning them? …”} (Sūrat al-Kahf 15).
According to Abū Ḥayyān al-Andalusī, there is no doubt that the first verse presents “a universal (kulliyyah) issue, under which other kinds fall”. These kinds, whether speech or action, According to Abū Ḥayyān al-Andalusī, there is no doubt that the first verse presents “a universal (kulliyyah) issue, under which other kinds fall”35. These kinds, whether speech or action, theoretical or practical, are included in the prohibition of pursuing what is not known without basis in evidence. This meaning is given by the verse’s literal expression, as the vocable, ‘qafw’, means ‘to follow’—a derivative of ‘qafawtah aqfūh’, ‘quftah aqūfah’, and ‘qafaytah’ as in ‘I followed his footsteps’. As a concept, we consider that the verse is inclusive of all research approaches, providing they are based on sound, correct argumentation, and not mere claim. Undoubtedly, “any claim not supported by an argument does not avail the claimant in any way”36. Therefore, the meaning of this Qur’ān verse is both general and inclusive, and as such, its exegesis by Qatādah (may Allāh have mercy on him) was: “Do not say ‘I saw’, while you did not see; ‘I heard’ when you did not hear; and ‘I know’ when you do not know”37.

This verse, {“Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of”}, was also some legal theorists’ basis for rejecting some invaluable domains of enquiry in legal theory, such as juristic analogy (qiyās), juristic preference (istiḥsān), and the report of a Prophetic tradition going back to one single authority (khabar al-wāḥid). However, the majority of legal theorists responded by refuting and criticising their argumentation based on this verse. Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī said: “As for the intended meaning of His, the Exalted, saying: {“Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of”} is that of which you have no knowledge, by way of certainty (al-qat‘), not by way of appearance (al-ẓāhir), i.e. what is subject to doubt (shakk). In the credible opinion, doubt is not an allowed basis for actions. However, in this case, knowledge exists by way of appearance, even if not by way of certainty; hence, invalidating what they say”38.

Indeed, if His, the Exalted, saying: {“Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of”} is a universal (kullī) issue, then related to it, the remaining verses present some types of prohibition of following (qafw); for example, attributing something to Allāh without knowledge—the worst and ugliest of the unlawful (ḥarām) matters, then associating others with Allāh (shirk), etc. Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawzī warned of the peril in attributing something to Allāh without knowledge, saying: “Allāh, the Exalted, has prohibited attributing things to him without knowledge in fatwa and judicial rulings, and classed this as the gravest of unlawful matters; indeed, he made it the highest of all. He, the Exalted says: “Say: ‘My Lord has forbidden indecency, both overt and concealed, and wrong action, aggression without right, and associating anything with Allāh for which He has sent down no authority, and saying things about Allāh you do not know’ ” (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 33) ranking unlawful things into four levels, starting with the least, namely indecency (fawāḥish), then second with what is more unlawful than that, namely sin (ithm) and injustice (ẓulm), then third with what is greater in unlawfulness than both, namely associating others with Him in worship (shirk), then fourth with what is greater in unlawfulness than all before it, namely speaking about Allāh without knowledge, which is general to speaking about Him without knowledge in His Names and Attributes, and His acts in His religion and law”39.

In conclusion, the Noble Qur’ān has an objective in reforming human thinking, based on the logic of argumentation and evidencing. This aspect is quite apparent in its link to social and civilisation reform, which aims to establish the scientific mind in all members of the Muslim nation (Ummah). Ibn Ashur (may Allāh have mercy on him) revealed this fine meaning, in Allāh’s saying: {“Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of”}, in that the noble verse drew attention to two grand reforms, intellectual and social, both of which are Islamic law objectives. He (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: “This is a high moral etiquette, and also a grand intellectual reform that teaches the Muslim nation to distinguish between the levels of intellectual thoughts (khawāṭir), so that there is no confusion between the known (al-ma‘lūm), the implicit (al-maḍmūn), and the delusion (al-mawhūm). It is also a grand social reform, by which the Muslim nation avoids falling into harms and perils, as a result of reliance on delusive indicants”40.

The Noble Qur’ān invites to reform human thinking by establishing proof and evidence in all scientific and practical issues and questions, so that the Muslim does not persist in pursuing their presumptions (ẓunūn), and whims and desires (hawā). Hence, undoubtedly, this is not required solely in cases of affirmation (ithbāt), and is not restricted to this particular case; indeed, it exceeds this to include the case of negation (nafiy) as well. Indeed, both cases require presentation of evidence, otherwise, the negating party would be labelled as deviant, committing gross error, and straying from the sound path of evidence and argumentation. This approach—by which I mean foregoing evidence in substantiating negation—was espoused by some companions of Dāwūd al-Ẓāhirī, as reported by al-Bājī, and is contrary to the position of truly erudite jurists (fuqahā’) and theologians (mutakalimūn)41.

Nonetheless, the approach and objective of Glorious Qur’ān is that the one must adhere to proffering evidence, whether affirming or negating. This is evidenced by His, the Exalted, saying: {“They say, ‘No one will enter Paradise except for Jews and Christians.’ Such is their vain hope. Say, ‘Produce your evidence if you are telling the truth’ ”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 111); also, {“No, the fact is that they have denied something which their knowledge does not embrace and the meaning of which has not yet reached them. In the same way those before them also denied the truth. See the final fate of the wrongdoers ”} (Sūrat Yūnus 39). Hence, Allāh obliged them to establish evidence for what they negated and refused to accept. This interpretation was chosen by the majority of exegesis scholars and legal theorists.

Similarly, Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī pointed out that Allāh, the Exalted, censured them, “for being unequivocal in their negation, but without evidence, which indicates that this is not valid”42. Al-Fakhr al-Rāzī said: “the verse indicates that a claim, whether in negation or affirmation, needs indicant and proof, and this is the truest of evidences that the opinion permitting imitation (taqlīd) is not valid”43. Najm al-Dīn al-Ṭūfī said: “This is argued by those who opine that the second claim requires an indicant, because the claim of those people was in negation; this is their statement: {“They say, ‘No one will enter Paradise…”}, for which they were asked to provide evidence”44.

Ibn Ḥazm al-Ẓāhirī concluded—after presenting the disagreement (al-khilāf) on the issue—by supporting this view, deeming evidence compulsory in both affirmation and negation, and presenting the two previous Qur’ān verses in evidence. He (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: “If two persons are in dispute, one affirming and the other negating, then each must submit evidence attesting to the truth of their claim, as we explained earlier, based on Allāh’s words. Then, whoever of the two establishes proof, then their statement is valid”45.

Therefore, based on the Noble Qur’ān’s invitation and objective to entrench the principle of dependence on evidence, in both affirmation and negation, this approach developed into a truism, and a prerequisite for scientific thinking among the Muslim nation’s scholars.46 Indeed, we find the nation’s scholars, especially legal theorists, invoking unanimity (ijmā‘) in that statements without evidence are unlawful (ḥarām). Imām al-Ḥaramayn al-Juwaynī says:“The Muslim nation in its entirety is agreed that whoever makes a statement without a legally established indicant or intimation (amārah), then what they adhere to is not valid; then they also agreed that following whims and desires (hawā) is not valid”47. Ibn Ḥazm was also inclined to the position that speaking without indicant or proof is “unlawful by the text of the Qur’ān, and unanimity of the Muslim nation”48.

No doubt then that this reported unanimity, unequivocally indicates that this issue, presented by the Glorious Qur’ān, is not subject to disagreement among scholars. Hence, via this unanimity, it became one of the unequivocal matters (al-qat‘iyyāt) of the Qur’ān, as absence of dispute indicates unequivocalness. In addition, this unanimity is based on the logic and rationality of Islamic law, because Allāh, the Exalted, is possessor of the conclusive argument (al-ḥujjah al-bālighah), and that He sent His Messengers with arguments, clear evidence, and proofs. Moreover, the Messenger (peace be upon him), Allāh’s final Messenger, only spoke from Revelation {“It is nothing but Revelation revealed”}, and therefore, it was compulsory on the Muslim nation to only speak through indicant and proof49.

Forsaking indicant and proof is deviance and falsehood
Not only does the Glorious Qur’ān demand that proof and argument are submitted, or prohibits following that which is not known, but considers abandoning this approach as the way typical of deviants. One signalling diseased hearts, as they persist in pursuing matters without offering evidence, in what is undoubtedly falsehood. For example, striving to interpret the Noble Qur’ān in a corrupt manner. Allāh, the Exalted, says: {“It is He who sent down the Book to you from Him: verses containing clear judgements – they are the core of the Book – and others which are open to interpretation. Those with deviation in their hearts follow what is open to interpretation in it, desiring conflict, and seeking its inner meaning. No one knows its inner meaning but Allāh. Those firmly rooted in knowledge say, ‘We have faith in it. All of it is from our Lord.’ But only people of intelligence pay heed”} (Sūrat Āl-‘Imrān 7).

Imām al-Shāṭibī drew attention to the fine meanings embodied in this noble verse in his book, “al-Muwāfaqāt (Reconciliations)” elucidating two approaches in presenting and dealing with indicants. He (may Allāh have mercy on him) said:
“Know that taking evidence for rulings occurs in two ways in reality: the first is that the indicant is taken from a perspective of filling a need, and the ruling contained within is extracted, to which the deduced emergent issue is presented, only coming into existence according to the indicant delivering the ruling… This form is the way that the pious predecessors would extract rulings from indicants. The Second is for it to be quoted to support the correctness of his intended purpose in the transitory emergent issue, to demonstrate a priori this purpose’s agreement with the indicant, without looking to the Legislator’s (Allāh) objective; rather the intent is to make the indicant fit his purpose. This is the way of deviants in extracting rulings from indicants”50.

Third area of enquiry: reforming human thinking by teaching true evidenced argument and debate

Another way of reforming human thinking presented by the Glorious Qur’ān is disputation (al-jidāl) or debate (al-mujādalah), and evidenced argumentation (al-muḥājah); according to lexicologists, these are all synonyms, despite some differences51. In “al-Nihāyah fī gharīb al-ḥadīth wa al-athar”, Ibn al-Athīr says: “al-jadal (debate) is to pit argument against argument; and al-mujādalah is debate and disputation”52. Subsequently, they named it science of disputation or debate53.

The link between this area of enquiry and the previous one is quite apparent. Debate and argument revolve around presenting proof and practising argumentation, as well as how to apply arguments, scrutinise indicants and submit the strongest, examine the weight of opinion, and demonstrate the incoherence of the opponent’s specious arguments.
The intention behind debating or argumentation, such as that between Abraham (Ibrāhīm) and his people, Moses (Mūsā) and Aaron (Hārūn) against Pharaoh and his courtiers, and other debates by the Prophets (peace be upon them), was to rein in opponents, refute their specious arguments, and expose the foolishness of their ideas, so that they would submit to the truth under the power of indicants presented in the debate. This appears in the way of argumentation, and adopting a gradual approach as appropriate to the context of argumentation from general (al-‘ām) to specific (al-khāṣ), and from universal (kullī) to partial (juz’ī), etc. This is also a teaching to the Muslim nation, in how to conduct a true debate. This Qur’ān objective manifests in the following noble verses:
· {“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the best way…”} (Sūrat al-Naḥl 125)
· {“Only argue with the People of the Book in the best way…”} (Sūrat al-‘Ankabūt 46)
· {“Among people there is one who argues about Allāh without knowledge, and follows every rebellious satan”} (Sūrat al-Ḥajj 3)
· {“Among people there is one who argues about Allāh without knowledge or guidance or any illuminating Book, turning away arrogantly, to misguide people from the Way of Allāh. He will be disgraced in this world, and on the Day of Resurrection We will make him taste the punishment of the Fire”} (Sūrat al-Ḥajj 8-9)
· {“… Yet there are people who argue about Allāh without knowledge or guidance nor illuminating Book. When they are told: ‘Follow what Allāh has sent down,’ they say, ‘No, we will follow what we found our fathers doing.’ What Even if satan is calling them to the punishment of the Blazing Fire?”} (Sūrat Luqmān 20-21)
· {“Certainly those who argue about the Signs of Allāh without any authority having come to them have nothing in their breasts except pride, which they will never be able to vindicate…”} (Sūrat Ghāfir 56)
· {“The argument of those who argue about Allāh, once He has been acknowledged, has no basis whatsoever…”} (Sūrat al-Shūrā 16)
· {“Just as your Lord brought you out from your house with truth, even though a group of the believers disliked it, arguing with you about the Truth after it had been made clear…”} (Sūrat al-Anfāl 5-6)
The Glorious Qur’ān establishes in principle the origin of argumentation and debate; it rationalises, directs, and draws attention to a set of robust rules that reform human thinking—once they adopt this kind of scientific thinking. This is illustrated in the following:

First, argumentation and debate must be conducted {“in the best way”}. This description is quite powerful, in that it can charm and influence the adversary. For this reason—in my opinion, this description represents a general, ethical approach for any debater and arguer, allowing them to find their way into locked hearts, and doubting minds. This was framed as a command in the Noble Qur’ān, due to the antagonism and conflict that typically permeate debate, where the outcome is arrogance and intransigence on the part of the opponent. In addition, it is apparent that arguing and debating in the best and kindest manner allows one to be circumspect and measured, enabling development of more robust logic in argumentation with the intent of overpowering the opponent, attacking, breaching, and eliminating their arguments, and demonstrating the flaw in their idea and incoherence of their specious arguments.
In the words of the erudite, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (may Allāh preserve him), if there were “two ways for dialogue and discussion; one good, and the other better; then it would be compulsory on the Muslim to argue with the one that is better, to attract estranged hearts, and bring distant souls closer”54.

However, as arguments and proofs are sounder, more powerful, and clearer, the debater with truth will gain victory for his cause in the debate. We believe that this is implicit in His saying: {“in the best way”}, because it encompasses this. Therefore, this must not be restricted to behaviours only, but applied to the approach to argumentation itself55.
We notice that the Noble Qur’ān uses the expression, {“in the best way”} in quite significant instances, drawing attention to its importance and gravity; also, given the laxity and negligence in applying this, including in argumentation and debate.

Second: argumentation must be based on robust scientific and methodological rules, namely: knowledge, guidance, and illuminating Book. These rules were extracted from the indicant relating to speech in His, the Exalted, saying: {“without knowledge or guidance, nor illuminating Book”}; this is evidence of the permissibility of true argumentation and debate, according to al-Zamakhsharī56, al-Fakhr al-Rāzī57, al-Qushayrī58, and others. These rules are explained as follows:

First rule: being qualified in knowledge, which is a description where the one possessing it is remote from subscribing to its opposite, i.e. ignorance. This is because knowledge and ignorance are opposites. Some scholars of exegesis, such as al-Zamakhsharī and al-Fakhr al-Rāzī, have interpreted this in the verse as being the necessary (ḍarūrī) knowledge59, on the basis that the vocable—al-hudā—coming after it, means argumentation and rational consideration.
Nonetheless, possessing knowledge is an indispensable condition for entering into argumentation and debate; this entails grasping, and discerning the truth of, the object of the debate; otherwise, the one lacking this condition would a follower of satan, subscribing to his approach of misinformation and obfuscation. The finding from this, is that any disputation without the authority (sulṭān) of knowledge is from satan, and this is sufficient censure and reproach for any intransigent debater.

Second rule: adherence to guidance (al-hudā): this rule signifies dependence on proofs and arguments, and presenting evidence during debate and argumentation. For this reason, the scholars of exegesis tended to the view that the vocable—al-hudā—signified argumentation and rational consideration60, to distinguish between true debate that is based on evidence, and espouses proofs, from false debate that mostly follows presumptions and speculation, or the way of ancestors without evidence, i.e. imitation. This rule is a central pillar in theoretical sciences, or in the words of al-Fakhr al-Rāzī, the theoretical introduction (al-Muqaddimah al-naẓariyyah)61.

Third rule: adherence to the illuminating Book: This is evidence of recognition of the [lit.] auditory indicant (al-dalīl al-sam‘ī), also called transmitted evidence, which is the Revelation. Al-Ṭabarī says regarding Allāh’s saying: {“nor illuminating Book”}: “nor with Revelation from Allāh of what he claims, demonstrating the truth of his claim62”. However, when should one utilise transmitted evidence in debate, and for whom is it suitable?

The Qur’ān tells us of what happens in the case of some debaters, who do not submit to knowledge, guidance nor illuminating Book. It seems that the way evidence is applied depends on the state of the debater; transmitted evidence, for example, is not used in debate with those who do not recognise it, or believe in it, in principle. Indeed, common sense dictates that using what is disputed in argumentation is not a sound approach.

These are the rules for reforming human thinking in true argumentation and debate. As these have been established, then if the debater strays from this approach, as illustrated by the Noble Qur’ān, then he will only practise false debate, lacking any scientific standard, intellectual criteria, or methodological rules; hence, aligning to falsehood, without deliberation, or wisdom, only confronting and attempting to overpower the truth. It is this practice by some that is described by the noble verse: {“The unbelievers use fallacious (bāṭil) arguments to negate the truth”}; I believe that the vocable (bāṭil) is general in terms of its indication, and hence, is inclusive of every false, corrupt approach that lacks scientific credibility, and hence, deficient in everything we detailed previously.

Following our explanation of these rules specific to argumentation and debates, which have substantial effect in reforming human thinking, then no doubt that the Prophets (peace be upon them) practised this kind of thinking. They argued, presented proof, and debated with their people, so as to clarify for them what Allāh had sent down to them, especially those intransigents among the people, who were dedicated to idol worship, and refused to worship Allāh, the One, the All-Conquering. Here I shall only present what I call the Abrahamic model in debate and argumentation. This story of Abraham (Ibrāhīm) (peace be upon him) with his people is repeated in the Noble Qur’ān several times in different contexts and varying instances. Here I select only two such tracts:

The Abrahamic model
- First extract from Sūrat al-An‘ām
He, the Exalted says: {“Remember when Abraham (Ibrāhīm) said to his father, Azar, ‘Do you take idols as gods? I see that you and your people are clearly misguided.’ (74) Because of that We showed Abraham (Ibrāhīm) the dominions of the heavens and the earth so that he might be one of the people of certainty. (75) When night covered him he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord ’ Then when it set he said, ‘I do not love what sets.’ (76) Then when he saw the moon come up he said, ‘This is my Lord ’ Then when it set he said, ‘If my Lord does not guide me, I will be one of the misguided people.’ (77) Then when he saw the sun come up he said, ‘This is my Lord This is greater ’ Then when it set he said, ‘My people, I am free of what you associate with Allāh (78) I have turned my face to Him Who brought the heavens and earth into being, a pure natural believer. I am not one of the polytheists.’ (79) His people argued with him. He said, ‘Are you arguing with me about Allāh when He has guided me? I have no fear of any partner you ascribe to Him unless my Lord should will such a thing to happen. My Lord encompasses all things in His knowledge so will you not pay heed? (80) Why should I fear what you have associated with Him when you yourselves apparently have no fear of associating partners with Allāh for which He has sent down no authority to you? Which of the two parties is more entitled to feel safe, if you have any knowledge? (81) Those who have faith and do not mix their faith with any wrongdoing, they are the ones who are safe; it is they who are guided.’ (82) This is the argument We gave to Abraham (Ibrāhīm) against his people. We raise in rank anyone We will. Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. (83)”} (Sūrat al-An‘ām 74-83).

- Second extract from Sūrat al-Anbiyā’
He, the Exalted says: {“We gave Abraham (Ibrāhīm) his right guidance (rushd) early on, and We had complete knowledge of him. (51) When he said to his father and his people, ‘What are these statues you are clinging to?’ (52) they said, ‘We found our fathers worshipping them.’ (53) He said, ‘You and your fathers are clearly misguided.’ (54) They said, ‘Have you brought us the truth or are you playing games?’ (55) He said, ‘Far from it Your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, He who brought them into being. I am one of those who bear witness to that. (56) By Allāh, I will devise some scheme against your idols when your backs are turned.’ (57) He broke them in pieces, except for the biggest one, so that they would have it to consult (58) They said, ‘Who has done this to our gods? He is definitely one of the wrongdoers ’ (59) They said, ‘We heard a young man mentioning them. They call him Abraham (Ibrāhīm).’ (60) They said, ‘Bring him before the people’s eyes so they can be witnesses.’ (61) They said, ‘Did you do this to our gods, Abraham (Ibrāhīm)?’ (62) He said, ‘No, this one, the biggest of them, did it. Ask them if they are able to speak ’ (63) They consulted among themselves and said, ‘It is you yourselves who are wrongdoers.’ (64) But then they relapsed back into their unbelief: ‘You know full well these idols cannot talk.’ (65) He said, ‘Do you then worship, instead of Allāh, what cannot help or harm you in any way? (66) Shame on you and what you worship besides Allāh Will you not use your intellect?’ (67) They said, ‘Burn him and support your gods if you are resolved to do something.’ (68) We said, ‘Fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham (Ibrāhīm) ’ (69) They desired to trap him but We made them the losers. (70)”} (Sūrat al- Anbiyā’ 51-70).

The explanation of these two extracts is as follows:
First: what is the “rushd” granted to Abraham (Ibrāhīm) (peace be upon him)? Scholars of exegesis have offered various interpretations. However, it appears to me, through fresh examination and contemplation of this debate between Abraham (Ibrāhīm) and his people, is that this “rushd” refers to soundness of approach, and correct thinking, alluded to by the vocable “rushd”, in this context. The lexical significance of the word “al-rushd” is emphasised by the fact that it is contrary to error or “al-ghay”, such that it evidences maturity of mind, power of intellect, competent management, acquisition of the faculty of rational consideration and argumentation, and strength of argument. Inasmuch as the body experiences physical growth, with effects on human life, there is also intellectual maturity (rushd) by which the human being’s life is sound, and in its light, he manages his affairs and actions, and weighs issues and questions.

Al-Qurṭubī (may Allāh have mercy on him) selected the meaning we identified; in his exegesis of Allāh’s statement: {“We gave Abraham (Ibrāhīm) his right guidance early on”}, he said: “that is, We led him to rational consideration and argumentation”63. This meaning was also presented by Ibn Kathīr, where he said: “He inspired him with the truth and argument against his people”64.

No doubt that this is part of the argument (ḥujjah) that Allāh, the Exalted, granted Abraham (Ibrāhīm) to confront his people. It is found in His, the Exalted, saying: {“This is our argument We gave to Abraham (Ibrāhīm) against his people”}, i.e. Allāh taught him the argument, and how to present and evidence this argument. This draws attention to the fact that the objectives of the Noble Qur’ān include guiding people and teaching them arguments, and evidencing these arguments; it opens their minds as to how to apply arguments and proofs. Then, with sound minds and innate nature, they will discover other scientific methods, or build upon these to create and innovate new ways to achieve the same purpose.

This is an implicit refutation of what was attributed to Ibn ‘Abbās that Abraham (Ibrāhīm) (peace be upon him) had actually worshipped the stars he saw. In truth, this is contrary to the “right guidance (rushd)” that the Noble Qur’ān documents in relation to Abraham (Ibrāhīm) (peace be upon him), which elevates him by virtue of being mentioned linked to Allāh, the Supreme. It is also contrary to the context of the verse; how is this correct, if we know that it is Allāh, Who showed him His universe encompassing the heavens and earth, where his process of argument referencing the universe’s elements led to the rejection of polytheism (shirk), such that between the statements “We showed” and “I am free” is evidenced argument as to the falsehood of polytheism (shirk). For this reason, the erudite scholars of exegesis distanced themselves from this interpretation attributed to Ibn ‘Abbās (may Allāh be pleased with him), and counted it as “Israelite reports”65.

In light of this approach, the tradition (ḥadīth) mentioning that Abraham (Ibrāhīm) (peace be upon him) had doubted must be understood. On the authority of Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) said: “we have more right to doubt than Abraham (Ibrāhīm), where he said: {“My Lord, show me how You bring the dead to life.’ He asked, ‘Do you not then have faith?’ He replied, ‘Indeed I do But so that my heart may be at peace”}” (Sūrat al-Baqarah 260), and he said: “may Allāh have mercy on Lot (Lūṭ), for he was indeed sheltered by powerful support, and if I had been imprisoned for the amount of time that Joseph (Yūsuf) spent, I would have accepted the invitation”66

Abraham (Ibrāhīm) did not doubt Allāh’s power, due to suffering some disorder in himself, as this is at odds with his status as a Prophet. Rather, the meaning of his words was that he sought greater peace of heart, by moving from evidenced argumentation to witnessing things first-hand; seemingly saying that seeing with one’s own eyes is not the same as hearing about it. This is the meaning chosen by erudite scholars; Al-Qādī ‘Iyāḍ said: “Abraham (Ibrāhīm) did not at all doubt that Allāh resurrects the dead, rather he desired his heart to be at peace, and end its vexing thoughts by witnessing resurrection. He had secured the first knowledge that resurrection would happen, but wanted the second knowledge of how, and to see it happening himself. It is possible that he asked for increased certainty (al-yaqīn), even though he was not in any doubt about the first knowledge. This is because different types of knowledge may vary in power, and he wanted to be elevated from knowledge borne of conviction (’ilm al-yaqīn) to eyewitness conviction (’ayn al-yaqīn), and Allāh knows best”67.

"Imām al-Nawawī said:
“As for Abraham’s (Ibrāhīm) request, the scholars mentioned different perspectives as to the reason for it; the most dominant is that he desired reassurance in knowing how resurrection happens by witnessing it for himself, subsequent to knowing about it through evidenced argumentation. This is because knowledge through argumentation is generally prone to doubts, contrary to the certain knowledge of an eyewitness”68.

However, metaphorically, we may call this approach to thinking, epistemological, methodological doubt. Its purpose is to move from one argumentation to another, with the intention of robbing the adversary of any argument, and refuting their specious claims. This approach was applied by a few scholars, such as Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, influencing the French philosopher René Descartes, even though the latter did not disclose this.

Second: in this debate, we find Abraham (Ibrāhīm) (peace be upon him) varying his indicants and proofs. He used rational indicants to argue with his people, and also existential, cosmic indicants that his people could see, and experienced from time to time. However, they were blind from lack of insight, and absence of contemplation and reflection. This guides and indicates to us that there is cognitive integration between rational and cosmic indicants, and that every Muslim must follow this way of argumentation, according to the type of debate and the particular debater as well.

Third: from this Abrahamic debate, two types of approaches to argumentation are apparent: the logical, rational, scientific approach to thinking, and that of blind imitation (taqlīd); both are in constant conflict and tension. Therefore, we find that Abraham’s (Ibrāhīm) (peace be upon him) people had no other choice to confront the power of his proofs except to cite the example of their ancestors.

"The summary conclusion of the above is that the Noble Qur’ān has a grand objective in teaching people the art of argument and debating with truth. This is apparent through contemplation and reflection in the accounts of debates by Allāh’s Prophets, as they established sound arguments, proofs, and indicants that refuted the claims of intransigents, repelled the specious arguments of speculators, and overpowered the statements of liars. With regard to establishing this precious Qur’ān objective in reforming human thinking, the erudite scholar, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (may Allāh have mercy on him) says in his book, “Badāi‘ al-fawā’id”:

“If you contemplated and reflected upon the Qur’ān, lent it sufficient thought, and perused the secrets of debates, demonstration of correct arguments, and invalidation of corrupt specious arguments, as well as mention of rebuttal (al-naqḍ), contrast (al-farq), opposition (al-mu‘āraḍah) and prevention (man‘), in a way that is healing and sufficient for one whom Allāh has granted insight and blessed with understanding of His Book”69.

Fourth area of enquiry: reforming human thinking by inviting to rational consideration (al-naẓar) and contemplation (tafakkur)

This is another kind of human thinking reform, and a grand Qur’ānic objective, which is the invitation to all people to practise rational consideration, contemplation, and reflection on the kingdom of heavens and earth. This serves to stimulate their minds, and incentivise their intellect to research, explore deeply, and reveal Allāh’s systems dispersed in, and governing, existence, and His laws embedded in the universe, in order to realise the objective of civilising settlement (al-‘imrān), which without doubt secures the objective of worship in its comprehensive sense.

It is no secret that thinking is a human trait, given as a bounty and favour from Allāh, Most High; hence, the human being possesses this disposition in that regard. Indeed, the noble verses came to explain to him how to apply thinking and rational consideration, or to reproach him for failing to benefit from this approach, or for his misdeeds. No question then that the true existence of the human being is linked his ability to think, and the extent to which he exploits this, to the point that the French philosopher, René Descartes famously stated: “cogito, ergo sum (I think; therefore I am)”70. Therefore, the Qur’ān linked thinking to existence, meaning that the absence of thinking implies lack of existence, and in corollary, the death of all who do not think, even if they are alive.

This Qur’ānic approach to reforming human thinking through invitation to rational consideration and thinking was the reason behind the spectacular rise of Muslims in empirical scientific research, their civilisation’s emergence, and pioneering lead in the diverse sciences and branches of knowledge. Therefore, we find a group of noble verses encouraging contemplation, rational consideration, exercising insight, and reflection; for example:
· Allāh, the Most High, says: {“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people with intelligence: those who remember Allāh, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: ‘Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire”} (Sūrat Āl-‘Imrān 190-191).
· He, the Most High, the Exalted, says: {“Say: ‘I exhort you to do one thing alone: to stand before Allāh in pairs and on your own and then reflect…”} (Sūrat Saba’ 46).
· He, the Mighty and Majestic, says: {“Have they not looked at the sky above them: how We structured it and made it beautiful and how there are no fissures in it? And the earth: how We stretched it out and cast firmly embedded mountains onto it and caused luxuriant plants of every kind to grow in it, an insight and reminder for every penitent human being”} (Sūrat Qāf 6-8).
· He, the Mighty and Majestic, says: {“Man has only to look at his food. We pour down plentiful water, then split the earth into furrows. Then We make grain grow in it, and grapes and herbs and olives and dates and luxuriant gardens and orchards and meadows”} (Sūrat ‘Abasa 24-32).
· He, The Almighty, says: {“Man has only to look at what he was created from”} (Sūrat al-Ṭāriq 5).
· He, the Most High, says: {“Have they not looked at the camel – how it was created?”} (Sūrat al-Ghāshiyah 17).
· He, the Exalted, says: {“Have they not looked into the dominions of the heavens and the earth and what Allāh has created…”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 185).
· Allāh, the Exalted, says: {“It is He who stretched out the earth and placed firmly embedded mountains and rivers in it and made two mates of every kind of fruit. He covers day with night. Therein are Signs for people who reflect”} (Sūrat al-Ra‘d 3).
· He, the Exalted, says: {“It is He who sends down water from the sky. From it you drink and from it come the shrubs among which you graze your herds”} (Sūrat al-Naḥl 10).
· He, the Exalted, says: {“Your Lord revealed to the bees: ‘Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect”} (Sūrat al-Naḥl 68).
· He, the Mighty and Majestic, says: {“… So tell the story so that perhaps they may reflect”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 176).
The Qur’ān endorses an undeniable fact, that rational consideration and thinking are an obligation (farīḍah), which the individual can perform alone, or in conjunction with others. It is a Divine Command to “rationally consider, and argue with evidence” as reported by al-Qurṭubī in his exegesis71. Moreover, it is given that the individual may attract punishment, reproach, or censure for being negligent or failing to do this. Abbas Mahmoud al-Aqqad (may Allāh have mercy on him) did well to place thinking on equal footing to other Islamic obligations, authoring a monograph on the subject, which he titled “al-Tafkīr farīḍah Islāmiyyah (thinking is an Islamic obligation)”. He expanded on the clear verses relating to thinking in the Glorious Qur’ān, at the book’s beginning, beneath the heading “Farīḍat al-tafkīr fī kitāb al-Islām (The obligation of thinking in Islam’s Book)”, and commented saying: “with these verses and the like, the obligation of thinking in Islam was instituted, without question…”72.

The erudite scholar, Ibn Ashur (may Allāh have mercy on him), also classed thinking as one of the ritual acts of worship. In his exegesis of {“and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth”}, he said: “thinking is a grand act of worship”73. Ibn Ashur quoted Ibn al-Qāsim (may Allāh have mercy on him) that [Imām] Mālik said: “Um al-Dardā’ was asked: What was the concern of Abū al-Dardā’? She said: he was mostly engaged in contemplation. He was asked: do you consider contemplation as one of the deeds? He said: Yes, it is conviction (yaqīn)”74.

However, only those gifted with intellect (ulū al-albāb) perform this grand act of worship, and then, only those endowed with insight derive benefit from it; they recognise the Majesty of the Creator, the Exalted, through it. For this reason, He, the Most High, says: {“an insight and reminder for every penitent human being”} (Sūrat Qāf 8). The vocable, “munīb” or penitent person, is evidence that this is a category of persons, who benefit from the worship of contemplation, to the exclusion of others. Indeed, everyone shares common traits in the ability to consider rationally, think, and apprehend those things that can be sensed; however, it is only the elite among them, who explore deeply and research, revealing the secrets of the laws of the universe, which spark the attention of some, and baffle others. Yet, despite all this, they may not possess the attributes of penitence, repentance, and seeking to return to their Lord. This is reserved to those believers possessing insight, whose thinking leads them to say: {“Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire”} (Sūrat Āl-‘Imrān 191).
From this, we grasp that thinking alone is not sufficient, unless it is accompanied by penitence, and that insight and reminder alone are also not beneficial. Ibn Ashur says: “The penitent slave was uniquely endowed with insight and remembrance, even though, portraying the state of affairs of earth, implies that insight and remembrance benefit everyone; yet, it is the penitent slave only, who benefits from this. It is as though he is the object of the wisdom in these acts. This is an honour for the believers, and implicit reproach for the unbelievers in neglecting to exercise their insight and remembrance”75.

Are thinking and rational consideration pursued as objectives in themselves?
The Noble Qur’ān’s intent in inviting to thinking and rational consideration is for humans to get to know the Creator, the Almighty, through His creation and making—to appreciate His power, and discern the exquisiteness of His making. The result is not that thinking and rational consideration are objectives in themselves, but their outcome is what is desired. This is the complete servitude to Allāh, the Exalted—seeking Him out, repenting to Him, and being grateful to Him for all His bounties and favours. Hence, He, the Exalted says: {“those who remember Allāh, standing, sitting and lying on their sides”} (Sūrat Āl-‘Imrān 191), which aptly describes those exercising their intellect.
Al-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī pointed out this purpose, saying: “He, the Exalted, advises that contemplation on these things [i.e. Allāh’s creation] guides to Oneness (al-waḥdāniyyah) of Allāh, the Exalted… Indeed, the human being may comprehend the Maker’s wisdom by reflecting on His making, and once he grasps the Maker’s wisdom, he will recognise the Maker’s work through the Maker himself, such that what is an indicant becomes indicated, and what was indicated becomes indicant. With this perspective, the one asked: how did you know Allāh? Answered: through Him, I came to know everything else”76.

Based on this, and through examining the contexts of the noble verses I presented earlier, we conclude that the Noble Qur’ān has a unique approach to refute the claims of the unbelievers, the wayward, and atheists, by reproaching them and disproving their specious arguments. Indeed, it points them to the things they perceive with their senses, whenever they deny the unseen (al-ghaybiyyāt). Indeed, it begins by presenting the indicant of that which is sensed to prove that which is beyond sensory perception, which is a fine approach in guiding and improving the mind and human thinking. It is also a unique approach in dialogue and argument. No question then that the indicant of those things that are perceived by the senses is unequivocal, and only those who have either lost their minds completely or lack insight will dispute that.

For example, His, the Exalted, saying: {“Qāf, by the Glorious Qur’an But they denied the truth when it came to them. They are, therefore, in a very muddled state. Nonetheless they are amazed that a warner should have come to them from among themselves and those who are unbelievers say, ‘What an extraordinary thing When we are dead and turned to dust. That would be a most unlikely return ’ We know exactly how the earth eats them away. We possess an all-preserving Book. Have they not looked at the sky above them: how We structured it and made it beautiful and how there are no fissures in it? And the earth: how We stretched it out and cast firmly embedded mountains onto it and caused luxuriant plants of every kind to grow in it, an insight and a reminder for every penitent human being. And We sent down blessed water from the sky and made gardens grow by it and grain for harvesting and soaring date-palms with layered spathes, as provision for Our slaves; by it We brought a dead land to life. That is how the Resurrection will take place.”} (Sūrat Qāf 1-11).

In this way, we see that the Noble Qur’ān in reforming human thinking lays the foundation for an epistemological methodology based on exploring those things perceived by the senses, by researching and discovering their laws and secrets, rather than falling victim to superstition and legend. Dr Abdul Karim Bakkar says: “The Noble Qur’ān intended to be the new basis for human knowledge; it deduces Allāh’s natural governing laws from what they see, hear, and feel, and also from His exquisite making in the material things that are unveiled through true coexistence. In this way, they are freed from the captivity of systems of knowledge immersed in delusion, and illusion, inherited from their predecessors”77.

In our time, intellectual and technological means can be utilised in contemplation; these include modern inventions, electron microscopes, and laboratories, as well as watching documentary films edifying the youth on this somewhat abandoned act of worship, which is in fact connected to their religion and is the core of their belief.
However, the Noble Qur’ān does not limit its invitation to thinking and rational consideration to the realm of things perceived by the senses only, of heavens and earth and all that they contain. Indeed, it extends it to thinking of the stories of past peoples and tribes, and deriving moral lessons from the histories of previous nations. Hence, He, the Exalted says: {“So tell the story so that perhaps they may reflect”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 176).

I conclude from the above that the Glorious Qur’ān has an objective to reform human thinking by way of rational consideration and contemplation. In this way, it is a foundation for a methodology of rational consideration based on argumentation, and the relationship between what is present with what is absent; moreover, in how to navigate from what is captured by the senses to then use it in argumentation to prove what is unseen. The purpose of all this is to know the Creator, The Almighty. At the same time, it is a foundation for a methodology for treating history based on similitude so as to take note and derive moral lessons through recounting the stories of the ancients.

Fifth area of enquiry: reforming human thinking by checking and validating reports

Reform of human thinking, as presented by the Glorious Qur’ān, includes checking and validating reports, and then only recounting what is true, based on correctness, truth, and certainty, while avoiding presumption, delusion, and doubt. As a result, a novel methodology was formed unique to the Islamic nation, from which methodological rules were extrapolated, relating to scrutinising reports and criticising narrations.

The pioneers of this approach were the scholars of Prophetic tradition, who derived its early foundational elements from the Noble Qur’ān, and the noble Prophetic tradition. In accepting Prophetic traditions, they took note of both probity of the narrator, and fidelity of narration. This condition, of course, is based on the likelihood (ghalabat al-ẓann), especially where related to the probity of narrators. Abū Bakr al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī says, in the context of his discussion of the tradition going back to one single authority (khabar al-wāḥid): “Indeed, Allāh has commanded us to worship Him by acting upon his report (khabar al-wāḥid), whenever we believe that it is the truth; this is the same as the case of a witness, where we have been commanded to admit their testimony without believing anything of this sets of things in him”78.

The following noble verses point out this reform chosen by the Noble Qur’ān:
· He, the Exalted, says: {“O’ you who believe if a transgressor brings you a report, scrutinise it carefully in case you attack people in ignorance and so come to greatly regret what you have done”} (Sūrat al-Ḥujurāt 6).
· He, the Exalted, says: {“Recite to them the true report of Adam’s two sons”} (Sūrat al-Mā’idah 27).
· He, the Exalted, says: {“… I have comprehended something you have not and bring you accurate intelligence from Sheba”} (Sūrat al-Naml 22).
· He, the Exalted, says: {“We will relate their story to you with truth…”} (Sūrat al-Kahf 13).
His saying: {“O’ you who believe if a transgressor brings you a report, scrutinise it …”} is a clear, explicit invitation to verify reports and news, which then developed into an epistemological methodology applied daily by the ordinary Muslim let alone scholars. This is manifested as a generalised public behaviour demonstrating how to deal with news that we receive daily, whether from our family and social surroundings, or State, i.e. those closest to us by virtue of our affiliation, or otherwise, news received from around the world.
The acceptance of reports, statements, and accounts regardless of source or reference is based on this approach, and derived from it, provided these meet the conditions of authenticity and acceptance, and are not subject to challenge and criticism. In this way, the Noble Qur’ān founded key elements to buildings and reforming human thinking in the domain of validation and verification, which we summarise in the following:
irst: entrenching an original principle relating to receiving news, based on the approach of authenticating and validating the correctness of news, verifying sources and origins, and gaining comprehensive understanding, until we attain a level of certainty, or likelihood (ghalabat al-ẓann). This is what the Glorious Qur’ān calls news (naba’). Al-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī in his work, “Mufradāt alfāẓ al-Qur’ān”, states: “al-naba: is news of great benefit, by which knowledge or near certainty of knowledge is attained; in principle, a report is not called ‘naba’ ’ until it includes these three things; for the report to be called so, it must be free of lies, such as multiple chains of transmission (tawātur), a report by Allāh, the Exalted, and a report by the Prophet (peace be upon him)”79.

Second: The correctness of news and truth of the statement removes the need to scrutinise the owner, meaning that agreeing or disagreeing with an individual should not be an obstacle to accepting and believing his report, if his report was correct and his statement true. No doubt that taking news without clarification, without assessing its correctness or weakness, or error or mistake on part of the bearer, or the reporter’s transgression or probity, has grave consequences and repercussions, and brings severe harm on the individual, society, and State. This results in incoherence of information, leading to conflict, division, disintegration, and disunity, with consequent failure ending in loss of cohesion of society and State.

So much news is disseminated at the tongue of evil transgressors, intended to undermine the Muslim nation’s unity; hence, it was necessary to verify news and exercise caution. How wonderful are the words written by the martyr, Sayyid Qutb (may Allāh have mercy on him), explaining Allāh’s saying: {“if a transgressor brings you a report, scrutinise it”}; he said: “The transgressor is singled out because they are most probably inclined to lie; so that doubt not pervade the Muslim community in all the news conveyed by its members, resulting in a paralysis in their information. The original premise in the community of believers is that members are trusted, and their reports are believed and accepted. In contrast, the transgressor (al-fāsiq) is object of suspicion until their report is proven. In this way, the affairs of the community are sound and balanced in regard to accepting or rejecting the reports it receives. The community does not act in haste based on a report by a transgressor, and as a result cause harm through ignorance [of the truth] and haste, to later be gripped by regret for committing what angers Allāh, and is contrary to truth and justice”80.

Given there is an intimate relationship between report (al-khabar) and reporter (al-mukhbir), this was indicated by the noble verse. We find the scholars of Prophetic tradition expanded on this, setting rules and methodologies in how to deal with reports; some are specific to studying the report itself, while others relate to the reporter, based on the previous verse.

Third: fairness and justice in accepting reports and scrutinising statements without giving weight to the reporter’s religion or creed, or indeed, his school of thought (madhhab), or political or geographical affiliation; this is based on Allāh’s saying: {“…that you are just when you speak – even if a near relative is concerned…”} (Sūrat al-An‘ām 152); His saying: {“O’ you who believe be upholders of justice, bearing witness for Allāh alone…”} (Sūrat al-Nisā’ 135); and His saying: {“O’ you who believe show integrity for the sake of Allāh, bearing witness with justice…”} (Sūrat al-Mā’idah 8).
A report is not rejected due to the matters I mentioned or the like, if it is correct and trusted; a reporter may sometimes be truthful, even if they are renowned for lying and transgression. Do you not see the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) confirmed the truth in condemned satan’s teaching of Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him), saying: “he was truthful to you, whereas he is a liar; that was a satan”81.

"In his explication, titled “Fatḥ al-Bārī”, Ibn Ḥajar mentions the benefits of this tradition, including:
“…that satan may teach the believer what may benefit him, and that wisdom may be received by the evil-doer, who does not benefit from it, while it may be received from him, and benefit derived from it; indeed, the person may know something yet not apply it, and the unbeliever may believe some of what the faithful believe in, but is not a believer for that, while the liar may speak the truth”82."

In this context, Allāh, the Exalted, speaks about Bilqīs, Queen of Sheba (Saba’): {“She said, ‘Council give me your opinion about this matter. It is not my habit to make a final decision until I have heard what you have to say’ They said, ‘We possess strength and we possess great force. But the matter is in your hands so consider what you command.’ She said, ‘When kings enter a city, they lay waste to it and make its mightiest inhabitants the most abased. Indeed, that is what they do.”} (Sūrat al-Naml 32-34).

Allāh, the Exalted, mentions the statement by the Queen of Sheba, and confirms what she said; the evidence of this confirmation is that Allāh did not follow this with negation of her statement. It seems that she depended on the testimony of history in what she said. The erudite scholar, Muhammad Amin al-Shinqiti, says: “Do you not see that even though the Queen of Sheba and her people used to prostrate [in worship] to the Sun, and not to Allāh, yet, when she uttered true words, Allāh confirmed them as such. Her unbelief was no impediment to confirming the truth that she stated; Allāh reports her words: {“When kings enter a city, they lay waste to it and make its mightiest inhabitants the most abased”}; whereupon He, the Exalted, confirmed the veracity of her statement, saying: {“Indeed, that is what they do”}83.

"Al-Shāṭibī (may Allāh have mercy on him) composed a precious rule based on the accounts in the Noble Qur’ān, which he presented in the third question regarding the ‘indicant of the Book’, which he explained saying:
“Typically, either before, or in the majority, after every statement the Qur’ān quotes, there is a refutation or not; if there is a refuting comment, then there is no problem in that what has been quoted is deemed invalid and false; and if there was no refutation, then this is evidence of the truth and validity of that which has been reported”84."
No question then that the Noble Qur’ān establishes a methodology in accepting reports and statements on the basis of verification and scrutiny, as well as applying fairness and justice. Indeed, the sensible and balanced person is concerned with the truth of reports and statements, while those who are not, look at the reporter, and whether they belong to the same sect, or are opponents and enemy?

Ibn Khaldūn (may Allāh have mercy on him) explains how bigoted individuals deal with reports, saying: “By their nature, reports are prone to falsehood, with underlying reasons including: prejudiced biases towards particular opinions and schools of thought. Indeed, if the soul is balanced in accepting a report, it will exercise the requisite scrutiny and rational consideration, until it discerns whether it is truth or lie. However, if it is veiled by bigoted bias towards an opinion or sect, then it accepts those reports that conform to its opinion from the first instant; such deviation from sound disposition, and bigotry, clouds judgement, preventing critical examination and scrutiny, and so it commits the error of accepting and transmitting lies.

One of the reasons for false reports is misplaced trust in reporters; yet scrutiny in this respect is by examining reporters’ probity (al-ta‘dīl wa al-tajrīḥ). Another reason is failing to grasp intents; indeed, many reporters do not know the intent of what they saw or heard, and transmit the report according to their perception and presumption, so falling into lies. Also, succumbing to a presumption of honesty, which is quite prevalent, most of the time arising from placing undue trust in reporters. Also, lack of knowledge in reconciling circumstances to events, given obfuscation and disingenuous behaviour (taṣanu‘), which the reporter then conveys as witnessed; yet, given the deception, this is not the truth. Also, people seeking to become close to those of status and rank, through praise, compliments, and embellishing their affairs and promoting this far and wide, causing many untrue reports to circulate; indeed, souls are predisposed towards gratification from being praised, while people are in pursuit of worldly gains and means to secure power or wealth, and demonstrate no more than a desire for virtues, without competing with the virtuous”85.
Sadly, our intellectual and scientific heritage still urgently needs further scrutiny of statements, and examination of ideas, remote from the narrow-mindedness of schools of thought, partisanship, and sectarianism, to expansive horizons, namely the broadness of the Noble Qur’ān’s approach and objectives, without indulging in excess, negligence, extremism or fanaticism.

Classes of arguments or indicants in the Glorious Qur’ān
Based on the previous treatment of the areas of enquiry, we may discuss the different classes of Qur’ānic arguments or indicants.
First: in terms of a general classification, arguments are of two kinds:
· True argument, which is one grounded on proof (burhān), and supported by evidenced argumentation (istidlāl), which is robust and correct.
· False, refuted argument, which in reality is a specious argument (shubuhah); however, the Noble Qur’ān called it an argument for two considerations: firstly, that its proponents claim it to be an argument, whereas it is not so from a practical, scientific standpoint; secondly, to mock them, and exhibit contempt for such minds that insist on this specious argument, convinced that it is strong.
Second: in regard to a special classification, according to the kinds of arguments, and the context in which they are applied, true arguments may be further sub-divided into:
· Transmitted (naqliyyah) argument, which is represented in the Noble Qur’ān by the term, illuminating Book (al-kitāb al-munīr).
· Rational (‘aqliyyah) argument, which is encompassed by the vocable, “al-hudā”, i.e. guidance.
· Historical (tarīkhiyyah) or reported argument, which is presented in the lessons and morals in stories and accounts.
· Argument sourced from the creation (kawniyyah), which is the rational consideration of things in existence, to provide evidenced argumentation indicating the Creator and Maker, the Almighty. This type of argument is connected to exploring existing things, discovering their secrets, wisdoms, and laws. The human being may also harness these in performing civilising settlement of earth.

This diversity of arguments and indicants in the Noble Qur’ān, grants us an idea on how to rationalise, build, improve, and correct human thinking, through knowledge of arguments and how to apply them, and establish epistemological methodologies tied to the Revelation.

Sixth area of enquiry: reforming human thinking by teaching how to compare, contrast, and balance (muwāzanah) correctly

It is no secret that the Noble Qur’ān is the fountain spring of wisdom, and source of light that radiates learning and knowledge, with its endless marvels. Wisdom is to place each thing in the appropriate place, but this is not possible until it is compared to another, whether from its species or its opposite, to measure against. Yet this issue was missed by most people countless times, especially the intransigents. Thus, it received a substantial share of clarifying verses in the Book of Allāh, such that Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, following the view of his teacher, Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allāh have mercy on them), resolved that: “the Qur’ān and Sunnah have pointed to comparison, contrasting, and balanced judgement (muwāzanah)”86.

This reform is of grand stature, and abundant benefit, as through it the Glorious Qur’ān directs and guides human thinking to acquire benefits and utilities, and prevent harms and wickedness. Hence, it presents an objectives-based scale and standard to judge between benefits and harms. This requires a substantial amount of reflection, contemplation, and renewed rational consideration of the verses of Allāh, the Exalted87.

Here, I mention some noble verses serving as the evidence base for this type of reform, as intended by the Book of Allāh, the Exalted; subsequently, I will add statements of esteemed scholars.

· Allāh, the Exalted, says: {“They will ask you about the Sacred Month and fighting in it. Say, ‘Fighting in it is a serious matter; but barring access to the Way of Allāh and rejecting Him and barring access to the Masjid al-Ḥarām and expelling its people from it are far more serious in the sight of Allāh. Fitnah is worse than killing.’…”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 217).

Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī pointed out that: “Each one of these things is greater [mischief] than engaging in warfare during the sacred month, from two perspectives: One being that each one of these things is unbelief, and unbelief is far more serious than fighting. Second: we claim that each one of these things is far greater [mischief] than engaging in combat within the sacred month, namely the fighting in which ‘Abd Allāh b. Jaḥsh engaged, where it is certain that this occurred in the sacred month, and that these unbelievers are also certain in that they committed those things during the sacred month, and so it is unequivocal that the occurrence of these things is graver”88.

He, the Almighty, says: {“They will ask you about alcoholic drinks and gambling. Say, ‘There is great wrong in both of them and also certain benefits for mankind. But the wrong in them is greater than the benefit…’”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 219).

Al-‘Izz b. ‘Abd al-Salām states: “He prohibited them, because their harm is greater than their benefit”89. Al-Qurṭubī said of this verse: “Allāh, the Almighty, informed that the sin is greater than the benefit, and that it results in greater detriment in the Hereafter”90. Ibn Kathīr said: “But these benefits are not equal to its definite harm and evil, as these relate to mind and religion”91.

· Allāh, the Exalted, says: {“Is someone who has belief like someone who is a transgressor? They are not the same ”} (Sūrat al-Sajdah 18)
· Allāh, the Exalted, says: {“Would We make those who have faith and do right actions the same as those who cause corruption on the earth? Would We make those who have piety (taqwā) the same as the dissolute?”} (Sūrat Ṣād 28)
· Allāh, the Exalted, says: {“Or do those who perpetrate evil deeds suppose that We will make them like those who have faith and do right actions, so that their lives and deaths will be the same? How bad their judgement is ”} (Sūrat al-Jāthiyah 21)
· Allāh, the Exalted, says: {“Would We make the Muslims the same as the evildoers? What is the matter with you? On what basis do you judge?”} (Sūrat al-Qalam 35-36)
These noble verses indicate that believers are not equal to unbelievers, Muslims are not equal to criminals, and the pious are not equal to sinners and transgressors. Thus, negating equality necessitates that each category is put in its appropriate place. Al-Qurṭubī said: “This dictated negating equivalence between believer and unbeliever”92. Ibn Kathīr said: “Allāh informs about His justice, in that He shall not equate in His judgement on the Day of Resurrection between the one, who believed in His signs, and followed His Messengers, and the one, who was a transgressor, i.e. outside obedience of His Lord, and denying Allāh’s Messengers to him”93.

· {“As for the boat, it belonged to some poor people who worked on the sea. I wanted to damage it, because unknown to them, a king was seeking out and expropriating every boat”} (Sūrat al-Kahf 79).

It is quite apparent that the harm of making a breach in the boat’s hull was minor compared to its expropriation. This act was performed in accordance with preponderance of benefit (al-maṣlaḥah al-ghālibah), without consideration for this mild breach. Al-Qurṭubī said: “This embodies understanding in applying the principle of benefit (maṣlaḥah), if the basis is realised; furthermore, that it is allowed to protect and cause wealth to flourish by spoiling some of it”94.

Ibn Ashur said: “The actions of al-Khiḍr in the matter of the boat is an act that considers the private interest, and was by Allāh’s permission in acting in the best interests of the weak; indeed, al-Khiḍr possessed knowledge concerning the king’s state of affairs, or Allāh had informed him of the king’s presence at the time; so, al-Khiḍr acted like a representative of another over the latter’s wealth, spoiling some to safeguard the rest; his apparent act was to spoil, while in reality, this was an act of good, in committing the lesser of two evils”95.

Allāh, the Almighty, recounts the words of Aaron (Harūn), speaking to Moses (Mūsā): {“He said, ‘Son of my mother Do not seize me by the beard or by the hair. I was afraid that you would say, “You have caused division in the tribe of Israel and taken no notice of anything I said”} (Sūrat Ṭāhā 94).

This noble verse embodied balancing between maintaining unity of the Children of Israel, [and confronting them], despite them contravening the correct belief brought by Moses (Mūsā) and Aaron (Harūn) (peace be upon them). Hence, Aaron (Harūn) (peace be upon him) concluded that on balance the better course was to maintain their unity, and try to win them over, until Moses (Mūsā) (peace be upon him) returned. All this occurred in the presence of Allāh’s Prophet Aaron (Harūn), where the Qur’ān did not overrule that decision or express any reproach.

Regarding this approach, Najm al-Dīn al-Ṭūfī in his book, “al-Ishārāt al-Ilāhiyyah ilā al-mabāḥith al-uṣūliyyah”, states: “It embodies permission to act in matters of rulings and politics with proper consideration of benefits (maṣāliḥ), because Aaron selected the higher of the two benefits, according to his judgement, which was to unite and maintain cordial relations (ta’alīf) between the tribe of Israel; also, to repel the greater of two evils, which is to provoke division among them, even if this meant contravening a command or committing a prohibition. Indeed, one is excused, if acting according to discerned benefit, and seeking to tender wise counsel”96.

Here I determine that the Noble Qur’ān is full of these balances (muwazanāt), which appear in diverse contexts. From my humble perspective, I could only determine one fine standard for these balances, namely that of benefits and harms, whether the matter is related to social or political issues, or creation, etc.

This embodies reform of human thinking to take this path, and not neglect genuine benefits, or pursue illusory or worthless ones, which may perhaps lead to proliferation of evils. We note that Muslims today, particularly in the Islamic movement, have been neglectful of this unique Qur’ānic approach. Thus, squandering many benefits, most prominently in the domain of political participation, more so than any other.

It should not be understood that the remaining intellectual, scientific or other issues are exempt from this kind of reform. Seeking balance in judgement is part of life on a very broad level, and whoever lacks a share of understanding and applying these Qur’ānic balances, will be lost in a deadly environment.

If the Glorious Qur’ān’s intent to reform human thinking by teaching and guiding people to balanced judgement is quite apparent, then in it, I discovered a “diversity of terms and phrases indicating this, which we summarise in the following:
· The vocable, al-muwāzanah, i.e. to balance in judgement, expressed by the terms: “al-wazn” (weighing), “mawāzīn” (measures), “al-mīzān” (balance).
· The vocable, al-mufāḍalah, i.e. comparison, expressed by the terms: “fāḍl” (merit), “fāḍalnāhum” (We preferred them), “fāḍaltukum” (I preferred you), “nufāḍil” (We prefer), “fāḍalnā” (We preferred), “fuḍilū” (were preferred), “tafḍīlā” (merit), “fāḍalakum” (He preferred you), “yatafāḍal” (He granted merit).
· The vocable, al-tadrujah, i.e. graded approach, expressed by the terms: “darajah” (level), “darajāt” (levels).
· The context of comparison (al-mufāḍalah), whether between deeds or individuals, without explicitly using any vocable; rather, it is expressed through sentence construction.
· The expression where a deed or act is denoted as good (khayr).
· Negating equivalence between the deeds of the righteous and those of the sinful by way of comparison, as in: “lā yastawiy” (not equal), lā yastawūn” (they are not equal)”97.

Seventh area of enquiry: the consequences of human thinking in the Noble Qur’ān

It was determined earlier that the Glorious Qur’ān upholds the objective of reforming human thinking, and uses highly precise and robust, means and methodologies to draw attention to that. However, we find that the Book of Allāh, the Exalted, does not stop there, but commensurately warns of hurdles that stand as an arduous obstacle or impenetrable rock, on the path to reforming thinking. Such obstacles to reforming thinking impede the progress, paralyse the effectiveness, and hamper the movement that Allāh, the Creator, willed. For this reason, it was necessary to fully elucidate this objective of reforming human thinking in the Noble Qur’ān, by discussing the obstacles to thinking as described to us in the Noble Qur’ān itself. These are:

First: imitating and following forefathers:
· {“When they are told, ‘Follow what Allāh has sent down to you,’ They say, ‘We are following what we found our fathers doing.’ What, even though their fathers did not understand a thing and were not guided The likeness of those who are unbelievers is that of someone who yells out to something which cannot hear – it is nothing but a cry and a call. Deaf – dumb – blind. They do not use their intellect.”} (Sūrat al-Baqarah 170-171).
· {“They found their fathers misguided and they are following hard upon their heels. Most of the earlier peoples went astray before them”} (Sūrat al-Ṣāfāt 69-71).
· {“When they are told: ‘Follow what Allāh has sent down,’ they say, ‘No, we will follow what we found our fathers doing.’ What Even if satan is calling them to the punishment of the Blazing Fire?”} (Sūrat Luqmān 21).
· {“Follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord and do not follow any protectors apart from Him. How little you remember ”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 3).
· {“Recite to them the story of Abraham (Ibrāhīm) when he said to his father and his people, ‘What do you worship?’ They said, ‘We worship idols and will continue to cling to them.’ He said, ‘Do they hear you when you call, or help you or harm you?’ They said, ‘No, but this is what we found our fathers doing.’ He said, ‘Have you really thought about what you worship, you and your fathers who came before? They are all my enemies – except for the Lord of all the worlds”} (Sūrat al-Shu‘arā’ 69-77).

These noble verses express censure (al-dhamm) of imitation and blindly following forefathers and predecessors without evidence or argument. In fitting condemnation, the verses class such behaviour as mindless, and incited by satan. Within this description, imitation represents falsehood obstructing the logic of presenting and upholding sound argument. Therefore, we find scholars defining “imitation (taqlīd) as accepting a statement without evidence”. Erudite scholars, like Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī in his work, “al-Mustaṣfā”98, and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah in his work, “I‘lām al-muwaqi‘īn”99, consider that imitation does not signify knowledge, rather the complete opposite.

It is worth noting here, that the Noble Qur’ān used the term, “al-itibā‘ ” or “to follow”, to express two meanings; the first is following what Allāh, the Exalted, sent down, which by extension includes what the Messenger (peace be upon him) promulgated. The second is imitating forefathers.

Despite this shared usage, we find that legal theorists have distinguished between both, where the first means to follow indicants and argument, while the second is imitation that is devoid of either. Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad b. Khuwayz Mindād said: “Imitation (taqlīd) in Islam means referencing a statement without any evidence for it. This is prohibited in Islamic law. “al-itibā‘ ”: is what argument has established”100.

Similarly, in “Jāmi‘ bayān al-‘ilm wa faḍlih wa mā yanbaghī fī riwāyatih wa ḥamlih”, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: “Imitation (taqlīd) from the perspective of scholars is different to “al-itibā‘ ”, because “al-itibā‘ ”is to follow the speaker according to what has become clear to you of the merit of his statement, and the correctness of his way. Imitation is to say as he says, without knowing the statement’s veracity, or its meaning, and to deny any other; conversely, it becomes apparent to you that it is wrong, but you persist in following it for fear of opposing them, while the statement’s untruth is clear to you; this kind of saying is prohibited in the religion of Allāh, the Almighty”101.

Second: following presumption (al-ẓann)

This is another obstacle mentioned by the Glorious Qur’ān, and it is one of those obstacles and barriers deterring thinking from following the correct and true path. For this reason, the noble verses were revealed successively in censuring and disgracing those following presumption, including:
· {“And their saying, ‘We killed the Messiah, Jesus (‘Īsā) son of Maryam, Messenger of Allāh.’ They did not kill him and they did not crucify him but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just presumption. But they certainly did not kill him.”} (Sūrat al-Nisā’ 158).
· {“If you obeyed most of those on earth, they would misguide you from Allāh’s Way. They follow nothing but presumption. They are only guessing”} (Sūrat al-An‘ām 116).
{“Those who associate others with Allāh will say, ‘If Allāh had willed we would not have associated anything with Him, nor would our fathers; nor would we have made anything unlawful.’ In the same way the people before them also lied until they felt Our violent force. Say: ‘Do you have some knowledge you can produce for us? You are following nothing but presumption. You are only guessing’ ”} (Sūrat al-An‘ām 148).
· {“Say: ‘Can any of your partner-gods bring creation out of nothing and then regenerate it?’ Say: ‘Allāh brings creation out of nothing and then regenerates it. So how have you been perverted?’ Say: ‘Can any of your partner-gods guide to the truth?’ Say: ‘Allāh guides to the truth. Who has more right to be followed – He who guides to the truth, or he who cannot guide unless he is guided? What is the matter with you? How do you reach your judgement?’ Most of them follow nothing but presumption. Indeed, presumption is of no use whatsoever against the truth. Allāh most certainly knows what they are doing”} (Sūrat Yūnus 34-36).
· {“Yes, indeed Everyone in the heavens and everyone on the earth belongs to Allāh. Those who call on something other than Allāh are not really following their partner-gods. They are only following presumption. They are only guessing”} (Sūrat Yūnus 66).
· {“You who have faith avoid most suspicion. Indeed some suspicion is a crime. And do not spy and do not backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat his brother’s dead flesh? No, you would hate it. And have consciousness and fear of Allāh. Allāh is Ever-Returning, Most Merciful”} (Sūrat al-Ḥujurāt 12).
· {“They are nothing but names which you yourselves have given, you and your forefathers. Allāh has sent down no authority for them. They are following nothing but presumption and what their own selves desire. And that when guidance has reached them from their Lord ”} (Sūrat al-Najm 23).
· {“They say, ‘There is nothing but our existence in this world. We die and we live and nothing destroys us except for time.’ They have no knowledge of that. They are only conjecturing”} (Sūrat al-Jāthiyah 24).

Looking at the contexts where presumption (al-ẓann) is mentioned in these verses, we note that it is opposite and contrary to knowledge, and deters from accepting the truth. As a result, it is presented in some verses as intimately linked to lies and the obedience of one’s whims and desires (al-hawā). For this reason, it was censured and reviled, which is its original state, given that it is built on delusion and imagination, whereas the allowable kind of presumption is based on an intimation or preponderant indicant, leading to knowledge102.

However, following one’s presumptions is contrary to the logic of argumentation advocated by the Noble Qur’ān, as the majority of presumptions lack indicant; the verse of Sūrat al-Ḥujurāt is quite clear in the prohibition of following most presumptions, and to adopt the principle of exercising caution. On the other hand, presumption based on correct precursors may be used as a basis, and adopted based on its indicant precursors. Hence, the censure of presumption was not universal, rather the censured presumption is that lacking an indicant obliging its acceptance.

Therefore, we find that the Noble Qur’ān rejects presumption in the place of certainty (yaqīn); hence, it rejected the polytheists’ claims and slanders against Allāh, the Almighty, and His angels, and generally, in the area of creed. For this reason, theologians particularly, refused using presumption as a basis in the science of the fundamentals of religion (uṣūl al-dīn). Al-Rāzī said: “Accepting presumption alone is not allowed in the fundamentals of religion”103.
Subsequently, al-Qurṭubī divided presumption into two kinds: praised and censured. He (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: “In Islamic law, presumption is two kinds: praised (maḥmūd) and censured (madhmūm)—its opposite, evidenced by Allāh, the Exalted saying {“Indeed some suspicion is a crime”}, His saying: {“Why, when you heard it, did you not, as believing men and women, instinctively think good thoughts”} [Sūrat al-Nūr 12], and His saying: {“and you thought evil thoughts and were a blighted people”} [Sūrat al-Fatḥ 12]”104.

"Al-Qurṭubī established a criterion to distinguish between them, namely the existence of an intimation (amārah) regarding the praised presumption, and its absence in the censured presumption. In this meaning, he says: “What distinguishes presumptions that must be avoided, compared to others: is that everything, for which you do not possess a correct intimation and clear reason, is unlawful (ḥarām) and must be avoided…”. Subsequently, as he illustrated the ruling on presumption, in terms of disclosing its indicants for it to be accepted, he said:

“Presumption has two cases: one case known and strengthened by some aspect of indicants, and as such, it is allowed to rule using it; the majority of the Islamic law rulings are based on likelihood (ghalabat al-ẓann), such as analogy (qiyās) and the report going back to one single authority (khabar al-wāḥid), and others, including the value assigned to damage and harm from offences”105."

Third: subjugation to whims and desires (al-hawā)
One of the barriers to reforming thinking mentioned by the Noble Qur’ān is to follow one’s whims and desires, preferring their path, and subjecting oneself to their dictates. Hence, it was absolutely censured in the Noble Qur’ān, and in multiple contexts. What is of interest to me, is where it is mentioned as contrary to knowledge.
· {“Accordingly We have sent it down as a judgement in Arabic. If you followed their whims and desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you would have no protector or defender against Allah.”} (Sūrat al-Ra‘d 37).
· {“However, those who do wrong pursue their whims and desires without any knowledge. Who can guide those whom Allah has led astray? They will have no helpers”} (Sūrat al-Rūm 29).

· {“Then We placed you on the right road of Our Command, so follow it. Do not follow the whims and desires of those who do not know. They will not help you in any way against Allah. The wrongdoers are protectors of one another, but Allah is the Protector of those who have piety”} (Sūrat al-Jāthiyah 18-19).

In these noble verses, the objective of the Noble Qur’ān in following knowledge, and acting contrary to whims and desires is apparent. This is because knowledge is constructed upon proof and indicants, while whims and desires are subject to one’s tendencies and pursuit of pleasure. Al-Jirjānī states in “al-Ta‘rīfāt”: “whims and desires (al-hawā) is the tendency of the soul towards the pleasures of desires (shahawāt) without any basis in Islam”106. In this way, it negates the Noble Qur’ān’s invitation to adopt and entrench the principle of proof and evidenced argumentation.
For this reason, acting contrary to whims and desires was an objective of the All-Wise Legislator, to regulate and restrain the actions of human beings with the limits of Islam. Al-Shāṭibī (may Allāh have mercy on him) established a valuable rule in this regard: “Islam’s objective in establishing legislation is to free the accountable person (mukallaf) from the demands of his whims and desires, so that they may become a servant of Allāh by choice, as he is a servant of Allāh by necessity”107.

The Noble Qur’ān institutes an indisputable fact that the path of following whims and desires and acting contrary to knowledge, is the way of the unjust and the wayward. Those who persist in following their whims and desires without limit or restriction, come to the point where these whims and desires are what lead them, and take precedence over proof and indicant. Al-Shāṭibī (may Allāh have mercy on him) explained this truth, when he spoke about the innovators in religion (ahl al-bid‘ah) adopting evidenced argumentation, stating: “Hence, their consideration of the indicant is not of one seeking insight, to govern over their desires, rather it is a consideration of one who has put desire in control, and then brought out the indicant solely as a witness for his [premeditated] choice”108.

He also said: “They did not take the Islamic indicants from the perspective of need and dependence, so that they may act according to the guidance of these indicants, rather they gave primacy to their desires, and relied on their own opinions, then looked at the Islamic indicants after the fact”109.

He also said, illustrating the peril of granting desire precedent over indicant: “If whims and desires become some of the precursors of the indicant, then this results in no more than following whims and desires, which is contrary to Islamic law, and acting contrary to Islamic law has nothing to do with Islam”110.

Abandoning scientific and rational measures, and circumventing proofs, arguments, and indicants, is no doubt the result of following whims and desires. Those followers of their desires and pleasures (shahawāt) are not governed by indicants, and take no notice of proofs and arguments; they do not seek out the light of knowledge, and do not weigh things on the balance of scientific fact. This is because a veil covers their sight, and rust their hearts, due to the whims and desires entrenched in their soul. Thus, their connection to rational and scientific criteria is broken; so how then can they see the truth, be guided to it, and walk its path?

If the human soul is overwhelmed by whims and desires, driving it right and left, it becomes perturbed to the point, where it loses its moderation, balance, and soundness. This results in distortion of the standards by which it judges, and so truth is reversed, conceptions altered, and it falls into gross error.

Therefore, the Qur’ān denounced subjugation to whims and desires, as they are a hindrance to sound thinking. Hence, part of reforming human thinking is to eliminate this obstacle through the knowledge, guidance, and light brought by the Noble Qur’ān.

Fourth: arrogance (takabbur) and repudiation (juḥūd)
Arrogance and repudiation are among the barriers and obstacles to reforming human thinking revealed by the Noble Qur’ān; both detract from grasping the truth, and prevent understanding, and so it is necessary to avoid the paths leading to becoming arrogant or repudiating the truth. For this purpose, noble verses were revealed, with reports warning and threatening those who choose arrogance and repudiation; some of these verses are:
· {“I will divert from My Signs all those who are arrogant in the earth without any right. If they see every Sign, they will not believe in it. If they see the way of right guidance, they will not take it as a way. But if they see the way of error, they will take that as a way. That is because they denied Our Signs and paid no attention to them.”} (Sūrat al-A‘rāf 146)
· {“When Our Signs came to them in all their clarity, they said, ‘This is downright magic,’ and they repudiated them wrongly and haughtily, in spite of their own certainty about them. See the final fate of the corrupters.”} (Sūrat al-Naml 13-14)
· {“Then after them We sent Moses (Mūsā) and Aaron (Hārūn) with Our Signs to Pharaoh and his ruling circle, but they were arrogant and were a people of evildoers.”} (Sūrat Yūnus 75)
· {“Then We sent Moses (Mūsā) and his brother Aaron (Hārūn) with Our Signs and clear authority to Pharaoh and his ruling circle. But they were arrogant and were a haughty people.”} (Sūrat al-Mu’minūn 45-46)
· {“And Qārūn and Pharaoh and Hāmān – Moses (Mūsā) came with the Clear Signs to them, but they were arrogant on the earth. They could not outstrip Us”} (Sūrat ‘Ankabūt 39)
· {“ ‘Ād were arrogant in the land, without any right, saying, ‘Who has greater strength than us?’ Did they not see that Allah, who created them, had greater strength than them? But they renounced Our Signs”} (Sūrat Fuṣilat 15)
· {“The people who truly have belief in Our Signs are those who fall to the ground prostrating when they are reminded of them, and glorify their Lord with praise, and are not arrogant.”} (Sūrat al-Sajdah 15)

In “Mufradāt alfāẓ al-Qur’ān”, al-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī mentions that the terms, “arrogance (al-kibr), being arrogant (al-takabbur), and to act arrogantly (al-istikbār) are close”111, by which he means closeness in meaning; these are all psychological emotions, where such a person feels above others and full of himself.

These two descriptions, arrogance and repudiation, only issue from those who are criminal, or conceited and corrupters, as is apparent from the previous verses of the Qur’ān. Indeed, these descriptions dissuade them in face of blinding and compelling indicant, and prevent them from grasping the truth of their nature and their existence. Hence, al-Qushayrī in his exegesis stated: “Arrogance is denying the truth expressed by the tongue of knowledge, then whoever denies the facts of truth, then their denial…”112.

The matter does not stop at arrogance and repudiation, rather judgement is fickle in those possessing these attributes, and so they follow the path of waywardness, and forsake the right path. This transpires due to the disbelief and heedlessness covering their locked and sealed hearts; {“… That is how Allah seals the heart of every arrogant oppressor”} (Sūrat Ghāfir 35).

Indeed, if the Noble Qur’ān has clarified both these barriers, by which I mean arrogance and repudiation, then it calls for ridding oneself of them, and other detrimental attributes. Consciously purifying and cleansing oneself from these psychological influences, and diseases of the heart, by forcing oneself to adopt noble manners and behaviours, and avoiding their opposite; {“He who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed”} (Sūrat al-Shams 9-10).
The conclusion of what we have mentioned is that the Noble Qur’ān concerned itself with reforming human thinking, and its objective for this was quite clear. Yet, it also had another objective of elucidating the barriers and obstacles to this way of thinking, namely imitation, and following presumption and whims and desires, as well as arrogance and repudiation of the truth.


In this conclusion, I do not wish to repeat what I have expanded upon previously, but I wish to point to specific matters:

First: here I determine that the core and essence of the Glorious Qur’ān’s objective of reforming human thinking revolves around the methodology of proof and evidenced argumentation, from which other types of reform stem; these have all been illustrated in the Glorious Qur’ān. We may term these as methodologies, because the Qur’ān actually lays the foundation for epistemological scientific methodologies, represented by: an approach to evidenced argumentation and debate; an approach to validating reports; an approach to rational consideration and thinking; and an approach to compare, contrast, and balance.

Second: this Qur’ānic objective of reforming human thinking, in my humble view, still urgently needs novel and in-depth research, in which light, the Qur’ānic approach to research and knowledge may be formed, especially if the Prophetic Sunnah is added to it. Therefore, there are many issues that I did not address here, hoping that Allāh, the Almighty, grant success in completing this humble work; this is what Allāh has enabled me to explore, and all praise is to Him, Lord of the worlds.

Source note:
This text was published in the following book:
Objectives of the Noble Qurʾān, Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, London, pp. 507-592, translated into English.

Please note that some of the images used in this online version of this article might not be part of the published version of this article within the respective book.
Back to Top