Podcast

Skepticism: One of the Challenges Facing Muslims Today – A Khutbah by Imam Marc Manley

وَجَعَلنَا اللَّيلَ وَالنَّهارَ آيَتَينِ ۖ فَمَحَونا آيَةَ اللَّيلِ وَجَعَلنا آيَةَ النَّهارِ مُبصِرَةً لِتَبتَغوا فَضلًا مِن رَبِّكُم وَلِتَعلَموا عَدَدَ السِّنينَ وَالحِسابَ ۚ وَكُلَّ شَيءٍ فَصَّلناهُ تَفصيلًا

“We made the night and day two Signs. We blotted out the Sign of the night and made the Sign of the day a time for seeing so that you can seek favour from your Lord and will know the number of years and the reckoning of time. We have made all things very clear.” Qur’an 17: 12

Harvey Sarles, writing in his essay “An Epistolary Exchange” in Humanism Today about skepticism,

“The skepticism of the Enlightenment concerning facts of nature has entered our thinking, leading to skepticisms about the very possibility of knowledge, sliding to various cynicisms, and the meaning-destroying nihilisms of frantic modernists.”

That modern philosophers and naysayers deny your claim to The Law-Giver, all the while they are unable to even conceive of a framework in which to express themselves which doesn’t confirm the claim of a law-giver?

First off, these “laws” are not in fact laws but in reality, generalizations based off of human experience and observation. In the Muslim tradition we call these the Sunan of Allah. They are not laws that nature has dictated.

Natural laws: does not every law have a law-giver? An enforcer? Requires a decree?

This is the result of not understanding what cognitive framework you are living and thinking in.

Skepticism: There cannot be an infinite regression of finite attributes. If there were such a thing as infinite regression one would not be able to arrive at the present.

That which has the potential to change, or has changed, cannot be pre-eternal or pre-existent.

The intellect, to which the five senses and empiricism are beholden to, is superior. Nothing created is pre-eternal no matter how ancient it may be. And if a thing is not pre-eternal then it must point to that which has made it temporal.

Allah draws our attention constantly in the Qur’an by reminding us of the alternation of night and day, in other words, temporality:

خَلَقَ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضَ بِالحَقِّ ۖ يُكَوِّرُ اللَّيلَ عَلَى النَّهارِ وَيُكَوِّرُ النَّهارَ عَلَى اللَّيلِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمسَ وَالقَمَرَ ۖ كُلٌّ يَجري لِأَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ۗ أَلا هُوَ العَزيزُ الغَفّارُ

“He created the heavens and the earth with truth. He wraps the night around the day and wraps the day around the night, and has made the sun and moon subservient, each one running for a specified term. Is He not indeed the Almighty, the Endlessly Forgiving?” Qur’an, 39: 5

Why is it Allah talks to us about night and day? So that we know what time it is? To spout poetry? Or so we can find temporality and meaning.

Cynicism is like recognizing the truth or seeing something meaningful but having neither the heart nor the intellect to capitalize on it.

لتتبعن سنن من كان قبلكم شبرًا بشبر، وذراعًا بذراع، حتى لو دخلوا جحر ضب تبعتموهم قلنا يا رسول الله: اليهود والنصارى؟ قال: فمن

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, stated that the Prophet ﷺ said,

“You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you, span for span, cubit by cubit, to the extent that if they entered a lizard’s hole you will enter it, too.” We said, “O’ Messenger of Allah, do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He said, “Who else?” Sahih al-Bukhari, #7320

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