The Role of Reason and Intellect Between Modern Western Paradigm and Islam

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

The Role of Reason and Intellect Between Modern Western Paradigm and Islam

Before I begin, I believe it is essential to note that the Utilization of al-Aql (human rationale/intellect) is divided between idaaree (jurisprudential order, administrative) and shar’i (divine revelation). When it comes to the use of al-Aql in the idaaree affairs of this world, it is more common that the reliance of al-Aql will be utilized more so than with regards to ilmu-shar’i, because religious truths and reality is not based on human rationale or the intellect but rather based on wahi (revelation). But with idaaree, the base supposition regarding it is that it is not constrained and can be utilized more freely UNLESS an action performed by the aql would violate a legal ruling. In the following article, the topic will be centered more so on the shar’i aspect of the use of al-Aql, since after all, the people who propagate the use of al-Aql are doing so in the realm of defining truth and falsehood, what is right and wrong, which is religious based, not idaaree based.

The Stark Difference in the Utilization of al-Aql between the western secular world and Islam

The pivot point that all of our differences is based on is one single fundamental reality. That is that for our western counterpart, their conceptual understanding regarding the role and utilization of al-Aql is based on the school of thought of the philosophers. That is, that by one’s mind, one can arrive at what is most proper. In other words, the place of al-aql is put on a pedestal of being beyond fault. In other words, the western world views the utilization of al-Aql to have no limit whatsoever regarding determining truth and falsehood and what is right and wrong, whereas in Islamic thought, the intellect is set by limits

al-Aql in use by Westerners.

It is due to their belief that their own intellects can determine for them the best course of action that they see for themselves, that they came up with a most faulty conclusion, that being that “there is no absolute truth”. In other words, for them, truth is relative. What can be truth for you may not necessarily be truth to me. The hypocrisy in this framework of mind is that this idea is taken to its most absolute extreme regarding religion, but is not acted upon concerning specialized science. An example of this is someone going to seek a medical opinion from an expert. If the expert gives their opinion, and therefore their ruling about a person’s health, the one who is diagnosed does not react with “well I don’t like your opinion, I will rather judge for myself as my intellect sees fit”. No person in their right mind would do this. Yet when it comes to the subject of truth and falsehood, they would deem themselves capable to determine its reality.

The Utilization of al-Aql in Reality

In Islam, the intellect, al-Aql, is a faculty, just like the other 5 senses are faculties.

With regards to the faculty of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling, if one of them is wrong, there are other modes by which it can be corrected. An example of a faculty being wrong is when one smells a certain odor and then hastily makes a judgment that it is such and such, but when they actually see the origin of the odor, it turns out to be something else. If someone were locked in a room with no light, their faculty of seeing is deficient. They would not be able to see “smoke” which can be potentially harmful. However they can smell smoke. Therefore they can make the judgment that “smoke is in the room” even though they can’t see smoke.

With regards to the intellect, it is more difficult to determine where the inaccuracy or error lies at because it is not something that is proven by other modes, but rather it is only experienced. The limits of al-Aql, in reality, are the following

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Time of Existence
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Climate
  • Socio/Political events of the time
  • Language
  • Religion
  • Influence of Individuals
  • childhood upbringing
  • DNA traits

al-Aql, of every single individual has been directly influenced by all of these factors. This is why no two individuals can absolutely agree on everything which at the same time each one agrees that their own intellectual deduction on any given issue that is disputed is the correct one.

One of The Main Reasons for Resorting Back to Allah and His Messenger

It is for the following reality regarding the limitations of al-Aql that brought Allah to reveal the following ayaa

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ ۖ فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَ*ٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا

O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (SAW), if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.
( سورة النساء , An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #59)

In Islam, when the intellects of people clash, then who will act as the overseer, the judge, the criterion for them and determine who would lean to what is most correct. In Islam, the Qur’an and Sunnah as are exemplified by the ayaah above. The unfortunate thing for our western counterparts is that they have no ultimate criteria that they abide by to determine which ideas of people are more suitable. Rather the yardstick that they have is none other than “consensus” or the view of the majority. This is one of the fundamental logical fallacies even as it was outline by their own historical philosophers. There is actually a scientific logical fallacy called argumentum ad populum and it is considered a fallacious argument whereby one concludes a proposition to be true simply on the basis that many or all people believe it to be true. It has several other phrasal identifications like “appeal to the masses” or “appeal to belief” or “appeal to the majority” or “appeal to the people” or “argument by consensus” or “authority of the many” or “bandwagon fallacy. The reason why this fallacy goes largely unnoticed to the general populace is because it severs and undermines the basic notion of democracy. It reveals that essentially, democracy is nothing more than a classy term for “mob rule”. Just because 9 out of ten people concede to something does not make it correct.

The Utilization of al-Aql in Islam

Yasir Qadhi pointed out in one of his lectures concerning this topic that he had studied each time where al-Aql was used in the Qur’an, including its derivatives (like yaqiloon, etc), and its synonyms (like fiqh, yuffakiru, etc) and came to the conclusion that the use of al-Aql is geared towards realizing that Islam is the religion and the Prophet is the truthful messenger and then after that, then it is geared towards reflection of this creation in order to strengthen one’s faith. However, What I am about to do here is expand on that in a more detailed and systematic way

the Utilization of al-Aql from Allah as a gift to His slaves is divided into two components.

1. The Utilization of al-Aql pertaining to the disbelievers
2. The Utilization of al-Aql pertaining to the believers

This is a subject that all of the propagators (like Modernists and progressives) who like to use the versus in the Qur’an where Allah calls upon us to use our minds, seems to be not only misunderstood, but not studied at all by these modernists and progressives. All of these people who call for the use of al-Aql in determining the validity of what is attributed to Islam, all of them have not truly contemplated with a deep and true contemplation on what it is that Allah is telling us to use our minds in. In other words they failed to grasp the contextual realities like the what’s, how’s, and when’s to use our intellects.

Well, we Salafis, the people who are deemed and alleged as those who do not use our minds, have been the most contemplative regarding all sciences of Islam and this subject is no different. Allow me now to expand on this subject briefly

A. the Utilization of al-Aql pertaining to the disbelievers

Allah directs the utilization of the human intellect towards the disbelievers in 3 fundamental ways.

1. To Recognize Allah is the Truth. This has three subdivided parts

A. To Recognize the Necessary Existence and Lordship of Allah (ithbaat al-Wujoodiyyah wa Ruboobiyyah fillah)

أَمْ خُلِقُوا مِنْ غَيْرِ شَيْءٍ أَمْ هُمُ الْخَالِقُونَ

were they created by nothing, or were they themselves the creators?
( سورة الطور , At-tur, Chapter #52, Verse #35)

وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ وَيَوْمَ يَقُولُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ ۚ قَوْلُهُ الْحَقُّ ۚ وَلَهُ الْمُلْكُ يَوْمَ يُنْفَخُ فِي الصُّورِ ۚ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ

It is He who has created the heavens and the earth in truth, and on the Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) He will say: “Be!”, – and it shall become. His Word is the truth. His will be the dominion on the Day when the trumpet will be blown. All Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the All Wise, Well-Aware (of all things).
( سورة الأنعام , Al-Anaam, Chapter #6, Verse #73)

the Last and most wondrous of ayaah under this sub category pertaining to Allah’s Lordship is the following

أَوَلَمْ يَنظُرُوا فِي مَلَكُوتِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ مِن شَيْءٍ وَأَنْ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونَ قَدِ اقْتَرَبَ أَجَلُهُمْ ۖ فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَهُ يُؤْمِنُونَ

Do they see nothing in the government of the heavens and the earth and all that Allah hath created? (Do they not see) that it may well be that their terms is nigh drawing to an end? In what message after this will they then believe?
( سورة الأعراف , Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #185)

B. To recognize His Worship

أَفَلَا يَرَوْنَ أَلَّا يَرْجِعُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَوْلًا وَلَا يَمْلِكُ لَهُمْ ضَرًّا وَلَا نَفْعًا

Could they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer), and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good?
( سورة طه , Taha, Chapter #20, Verse #89)


قُلْ مَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَمَّن يَمْلِكُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَمَن يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَيُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَمَن يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ ۚ فَسَيَقُولُونَ اللَّهُ ۚ فَقُلْ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ

Say: “Who is it that sustains you (in life) from the sky and from the earth? or who is it that has power over hearing and sight? And who is it that brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living? and who is it that rules and regulates all affairs?” They will soon say, “(Allah)”. Say, “will ye not then show piety (to Him)?”
( سورة يونس , Yunus, Chapter #10, Verse #31)

C. To Recognize His hukm

قُلْ إِنِّي عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّي وَكَذَّبْتُم بِهِ ۚ مَا عِندِي مَا تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ بِهِ ۚ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ ۖ يَقُصُّ الْحَقَّ ۖ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ الْفَاصِلِينَ

Say: “For me, I (work) on a clear sign from my Lord, but ye reject Him. What ye would see hastened, is not in my power. The command rests with none but Allah. He declares the truth, and He is the best of judges.”
( سورة الأنعام , Al-Anaam, Chapter #6, Verse #57)

2. To Recognize the Prophet hood and Truthfulness of Muhammad alaihi salatu salaam

Allah says

أَوَلَمْ يَتَفَكَّرُوا ۗ مَا بِصَاحِبِهِمْ مِنْ جِنَّةٍ ۚ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ

Do they not reflect? There is no madness in their companion (Muhammad SAW). He is but a plain warner.
( سورة الأعراف , Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #184)

Again, He says

قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَعِظُكُمْ بِوَاحِدَةٍ ۖ أَنْ تَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ مَثْنَىٰ وَفُرَادَىٰ ثُمَّ تَتَفَكَّرُوا ۚ مَا بِصَاحِبِكُمْ مِنْ جِنَّةٍ ۚ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ لَكُمْ بَيْنَ يَدَيْ عَذَابٍ شَدِيدٍ

Say (to them O Muhammad SAW): “I exhort you on one (thing) only: that you stand up for Allahs sake in pairs and singly, and reflect (within yourselves the life history of the Prophet SAW): there is no madness in your companion (Muhammad SAW), he is only a warner to you in face of a severe torment.”
( سورة سبأ , Saba, Chapter #34, Verse #46)

3. To Recognize that Islam is the truth

وَمَنْ يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

And whoever seeks a religion other than islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.
( سورة آل عمران , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #85)

Allah concludes those who do not come to the realization of these three realities to have the following ruling concerning them

وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً ۚ صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

And the example of those who disbelieve, is as that of him who shouts to the (flock of sheep) that hears nothing but calls and cries. (They are) deaf, dumb and blind. So they do not understand.
( سورة البقرة , Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #171)

Again He says

وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِنْ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَثْ ۚ ذَ*ٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith but he clung to the earth and followed his own vain desire. So his description is the description of a dog: if you drive him away, he lolls his tongue out, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls his tongue out. Such is the description of the people who reject Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.). So relate the stories, perhaps they may reflect.
( سورة الأعراف , Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #176)

The Most fundamental of all of the ayaah regarding the rejection of these is the following

وَقَالُوا لَوْ كُنَّا نَسْمَعُ أَوْ نَعْقِلُ مَا كُنَّا فِي أَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ

And they will say: “Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!”
( سورة الملك , Al-Mulk, Chapter #67, Verse #10)

another amazing ayaah that was never mentioned is this one

إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

Verily! The worst of (moving) living creatures with Allah are the deaf and the dumb, those who understand not (i.e. the disbelievers).
( سورة الأنفال , Al-Anfal, Chapter #8, Verse #22)

So i is clear that anyone who does not accept the hidaya of Allah are those who have not used the faculty that Allah blessed them with, their intellect. Allah renders them deaf, dumb, and blind as He says

وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا صُمٌّ وَبُكْمٌ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ ۗ مَنْ يَشَإِ اللَّهُ يُضْلِلْهُ وَمَنْ يَشَأْ يَجْعَلْهُ عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ

Those who reject Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) are deaf and dumb in darkness. Allah sends astray whom He wills and He guides on the Straight Path whom He wills.
( سورة الأنعام , Al-Anaam, Chapter #6, Verse #39)

B. the Utilization of al-Aql pertaining to the believers

Thus as we have seen the utilization of al-Aql, is actually a gradation i.e. built upon levels. The first level is to understand that Allah exists and is the Lord of the worlds, and then that recognition entails by default His worship, and acknowledgement of all of that entails in its finality, to abide by His rules and judgments in obedience, which is the reality of submission into Islam.

The next step by recognizing that one must obey Allah, then this belief by default gives way to believing and following the Messenger and recognizing him with the truth. And recognizing this by default leads you to understand that Islam is the truth. Thus the utilization of al-Aql geared towards the kuffar is within the boundaries of accepting Allah, His messenger, and His deen.

Once the human graduates from these three and understands that and passes these three, then he has indeed utilized his aql. Once this takes place then he becomes a believer in Allah

Now there are two issues that go beyond the former three aspects in which the utilization of al-Aql takes place. Once the individual has utilized the aql to realize these three facts, Allah calls the believer to utilize his aql in two more profound aspects and they are the following.

1. To Ponder over the creation.

I cannot arrogantly say that “the reason”. However, I can say that one of the reasons that Allah has called us to ponder over the creation (after we have already recognized the ruboobiyyah, uboodiyyah, risalah) is to strengthen our emaan

وَهُوَ الَّذِي مَدَّ الْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنْهَارًا ۖ وَمِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ جَعَلَ فِيهَا زَوْجَيْنِ اثْنَيْنِ ۖ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَ*ٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And it is He Who spread out the earth, and placed therein firm mountains and rivers and of every kind of fruits He made Zawjain Ithnaeen (two in pairs – may mean two kinds or it may mean: of two sorts, e.g. black and white, sweet and sour, small and big, etc.) He brings the night as a cover over the day. Verily, in these things, there are Ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.) for people who reflect.
( سورة الرعد , Ar-Rad, Chapter #13, Verse #3)

and similarly all of the ayaah that tell us about how he created us from a clot.

A wondrous ayaah comes to mind regarding this

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن مَّاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they Trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise.
( سورة البقرة , Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #164)

2. To Understand the religion of Allah

This is the last end, the greatest extent of the use of al-Aql in the graduating levels of mankind to us their aql in. This is based on the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah

“Whoever Allah wishes good for, He grants him al-fiqh (understanding) of the religion”

Allah said

هُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ ۖ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ ۗ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:” and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.
( سورة آل عمران , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #7)

The highest level concerning the use of al-Aql is the ijtihaad of the inheritors of the prophets, the ulema rabbaniyoon.

The Matters in Which Human Intellect and Rationale (al-Aql) has no business or Permission to partake in

The areas that the human intellect has no business determining or being the criterion of is in regard to ilm ash-shar’i (Divinely legislative codes)

1. The legislation of men. This is the Divine Right of Allah that is to be unshared with any others
2. To determine what is right and what is wrong and the basic code of morality on a fundamental level
3. To determine the reality of things when the essence of the thing that is being judged has its roots in the unseen. (for example, saying to someone “you’re going to hell”)
4. To determine the Purpose of Life or existence
5. The Nature of God (for example “Since Allah does not have limbs, He therefore does not have Hands”
6. The Acts of God (for example “God cannot exist because why would He allow the Tsunami to destroy a people)
7. The Knowledge of God (for example “Well, Allah does not know when something happens until it happens because a belief opposite of this is against my “reasoning”)
8. The Decisions of God (for example “I’m not going to cover myself because I do not understand why Allah ruled that women should cover themselves)

With regards to Ilm al-Idaree or Knowledge of the secondary matters of jurisprudence and order, then the use of al-Aql is broadened and utilized more. This is reflective of the usooli asl of
“Everything in the dunya is halaal unless there is a text prohibiting it, and everything in worship is prohibited unless there is a text that allows it”

Thus using our logic and reason when it comes to day to day social activities with each other, the state, and society, construction, industry, academics, then there is nothing wrong in relying upon al-Aql as a major criterion provided that it does not violate a specified ordainment mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The Viewpoint of Utilizing of the Intellect from the standpoint of Religion and Ethics

I have done a search within the Qur’an regarding the use of thinking among mankind with regards to religious and ethical deductions of what is right and wrong. Most of the versus in the Qur’an point to a degrading and negative tone when it comes to man using his intellect at arriving at what he perceives to be good and upright and its opposite. In fact, in all honesty, man by default, is geared towards oppression, injustice, and ignorance regarding this very matter. I do not wish to deviate on the topic, however I feel obliged to comment on this single point. The Hanbali mujtahid and jurist Ibn Taymiyyah explained that the base ruling of mankind, including Muslims, is that he is jahl (ignorant) and dhulm (oppressive) by nature.

The support for this is the statement Allah says in the Qur’an

إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا

Surely We offered the trust (al-Amanah) to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to be unfaithful to it and feared from it, and man has turned unfaithful to it; surely he is unjust, ignorant;
(  سورة الأحزاب  , Al-Ahzab, Chapter #33, Verse #72)

So Ibn Taymiyyah explained in this that al-adl (uprightness, justice) in the view of the fuqaha (jurists) is when a person is free from major sins and does not persist in minor sins.This is in the context of explaining that sidq (truthfulness) is linked with birr (righteousness) and leads to it, and that kadhib (lying) leads to fujoor (sins) and leads to it.

The Shafi’ee Jurist Haafidh Ibn Katheer in his commentary of the Qur’an has the following to say with respect to the meaning of this verse

Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “Al-Amanah means obedience. This was offered to them before it was offered to Adam, and they could not bear it. Then Allah said to Adam: `I have offered the Amanah to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they could not bear it. Will you take it on’ He said, `O Lord, what does it involve’ He said, `If you do good, you will be rewarded, and if you do evil, you will be punished.’ So Adam took the Amanah and bore it, and this is what is referred to in the Ayah:

﴿وَحَمَلَهَا الإِنْسَـنُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُوماً جَهُولاً﴾

(But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust and ignorant.)” `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “Al-Amanah means Al-Fara’id (the obligatory duties). Allah offered them to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, (on the grounds that) if they fulfilled them, He would reward them; and if they failed, He would punish them. But they did not want to do that, and they were afraid of it, not because their intention was sinful, but because of their respect for the religion of Allah, in case they could not fulfill the obligations involved. Then Allah offered it to Adam, and he accepted it with all that it entailed. This is what is referred to in the Ayah:

﴿وَحَمَلَهَا الإِنْسَـنُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُوماً جَهُولاً﴾

(But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust and ignorant. ) meaning, he underestimated the command of Allah.” This was also the view of Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and others that Al-Amanah means Al-Fara’id. Others said that it meant obedience. Al-A`mash narrated from Abu Ad-Duha from Masruq that Ubayy bin Ka`b said: “Part of Al-Amanah means that woman was entrusted with her own chastity.” Qatadah said: “Al-Amanah means religion, obligatory duties and prescribed punishments.” Malik narrated that Zayd bin Aslam said: “Al-Amanah means three things: prayer, fasting and performing Ghusl to cleanse oneself from sexual impurity.” There is no contradiction between all of these views; they are all in agreement and all refer to responsibility and the acceptance of commands and prohibitions with their attendant conditions, which is that the one who fulfills this responsibility, will be rewarded; while the one who neglects it, will be punished. Man accepted this despite the fact that he is weak, ignorant and unjust — except for those whom Allah helps, and Allah is the One Whose help we seek. One of the reports which deal with Al-Amanah is the Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad from Hudhayfah, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “The Messenger of Allah told us two Hadiths, one of which I have seen and the other I am still waiting to see. He told us that Al-Amanah is deeply rooted in the heart of man, then the Qur’an was revealed and they know it from the Qur’an and from the Sunnah. Then he told us that Al-Amanah will be taken away. He said,

«يَنَامُ الرَّجُلُ النَّوْمَةَ فَتُقْبَضُ الْأَمَانَةُ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ، فَيَظَلُّ أَثَرُهَا مِثْلَ أَثَرِ الْمَجْلِ كَجَمْرٍ دَحْرَجْتَهُ عَلَى رِجْلِكِ، تَرَاهُ مُنْتَبِرًا وَلَيْسَ فِيهِ شَيْء»

. (A man may sleep and Al-Amanah will be taken from his heart, leaving nothing but a trace like a blister left by a coal if you were to roll it over your leg — you will see it protruding but there is nothing inside.) Then he took a pebble and rolled it over his leg, then he said:

«فَيُصْبِحُ النَّاسُ يَتَبَايَعُونَ لَا يَكَادُ أَحَدٌ يُؤَدِّي الْأَمَانَةَ حَتَّى يُقَالَ: إِنَّ فِي بَنِي فُلَانٍ رَجُلًا أَمِينًا، حَتَّى يُقَالَ لِلرَّجُلِ مَا أَجْلَدَهُ وَأَظْرَفَهُ وَأَعْقَلَهُ وَمَا فِي قَلْبِهِ حَبَّةُ خَرْدَلٍ مِنْ إِيمَان»

(Then the people will start buying and selling, and hardly anyone will be paying attention to Al-Amanah, until it will be said that among the tribe of so-and-so there is a trustworthy man, and it will said of a man, `how strong he is, how nice and how wise,’ and there is not even a mustard seed of faith in his heart.) No doubt, there came upon me a time when I did not mind dealing (bargaining) with anyone of you, for if he was a Muslim, his Islam would compel him to pay me what is due to me, and if he was a Christian, or Jew, the Muslim official would compel him to pay me what is due to me, but today, I do not deal except with such and such person among you.” It was also recorded in the Two Sahihs from the Hadith of Al-A`mash. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin `Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah said:

«أَرْبَعٌ إِذَا كُنَّ فِيكَ فَلَا عَلَيْكَ مَا فَاتَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا: حِفْظُ أَمَانَةٍ، وَصِدْقُ حَدِيثٍ، وَحُسْنُ خَلِيقَةٍ، وَعِفَّةُ طُعْمَة»

(There are four things, if you attain them, then whatever you miss in this world will not matter: preserving trust, speaking the truth, being of good character and moderation in eating.)[1]

So back to the subject at hand, I have found that in the Qur’an, all of the versus that had mentioned the issues on which man had utilized his intellect in, in reality were deductions of errors, transgressions, misguidance, etc.

There are over close to 60 references in the Qur’an pertaining to the word “think” and its synonyms and derivatives and almost every last one of them is mentioned in a negative tone.

Here are just some examples

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنكُمْ وَيَعْلَمَ الصَّابِرِينَ

Do you think that you will enter the garden while Allah has not yet known those who strive hard from among you, and (He has not) known the patient.
(  سورة آل عمران  , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #142)


وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لِّأَنفُسِهِمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِثْمًا ۚ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

And let not those who disbelieve think that Our granting them respite is better for their souls; We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins; and they shall have a disgraceful chastisement.
(  سورة آل عمران  , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #178)

This is a beautiful passage right here because this is directly relevant to today’s average person who on the account of his perception of being “free” and “blessed with a good life” and other thoughts of his lifestyle, then they reason (with their intellects) that they must be living their life correctly according to their Lord.


فَرِيقًا هَدَىٰ وَفَرِيقًا حَقَّ عَلَيْهِمُ الضَّلَالَةُ ۗ إِنَّهُمُ اتَّخَذُوا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ

A part has He guided aright and (as for another) part, error is justly their due, surely they took the devils for guardians beside Allah, and they think that they are followers of the right way.
(  سورة الأعراف  , Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #30)

Again, concerning some of the antagonists of the prophets, in this case it was the holy prophet Hud alaihi salam when he was sent to the nation of ‘Ad, and after he presented the message of Allah they told him

قَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَوْمِهِ إِنَّا لَنَرَاكَ فِي سَفَاهَةٍ وَإِنَّا لَنَظُنُّكَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ

The chiefs of those who disbelieved from among his people said: Most surely we see you in folly, and most surely we think you to be of the liars.
(  سورة الأعراف  , Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #66)

I will end with these two final quotations for brevity God Willing

أَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّمَا نُمِدُّهُم بِهِ مِن مَّالٍ وَبَنِينَ

نُسَارِعُ لَهُمْ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ بَل لَّا يَشْعُرُونَ

Do they think that because We have granted them abundance of wealth and sons, We hasten to them with good things. Nay, [it is a Fitnah (trial) in this worldly life so that they will have no share of good things in the Hereafter] Nay, they do not understand. (  سورة المؤمنون  , Al-Mumenoon, Chapter #23, Verse #55 and #56)

Again He says

أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ

What! Did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to Us?
(  سورة المؤمنون  , Al-Mumenoon, Chapter #23, Verse #115)

This verse demonstrates the preposterous assumptions of those who reject the clearly obvious, that they have a purpose in this life and they will have to one day answer for their actions.

The Qur’an is replete with versus of similar nature contextually rendering the use of man’s intellect in religion, view and purpose of life, basic morality and ethics, to be in a state of error and ignorance of reality and truth as the default position of man. This is so in order to humble man and to direct him towards the reality of his own fragile creation including his intellectual acumen that he is not the end all and be all of what must be, and this is sadly the state of the modern western world at large, whether it is not advocated by the mouths, it is clearly visible to the naked eye