Islamic Agnosticism

Iman-e-Mufassal 1 demands us to believe in a number of ‘articles of faith’. This includes belief in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Day of Judgment, His predestination and life after death.

What does it mean to believe in Allah? Belief in an abstract, metaphysical entity or event such as Allah or the Day of Judgment (Yawm ad-Din) may be nothing more than just a verbal declaration.

But what does such an announcement really mean in terms of having any practical consequence? From a practical standpoint, it appears that the power of a belief lies in its ability to prod its bearer into action.

Belief, therefore, according me, is that idea/mental state that allows one to act in a specific manner. That is the litmus test of a given belief. In fact, one of the best explanations I have come across about what it means to believe in God is attributed to the Spanish novelist, poet and philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno. According to him:

To believe in God is to yearn for His existence and, furthermore, it is to act as if He did exist. 2

If we go by what Unamuno has said, we can say that believing in God would require us to live our lives according the commandments of God. But what about belief in angels?

If one chooses to believe in angels, how can one act in such as a way to affirm the existence of angels? Surely, angels have given no instructions to humans on how to act to testify their existence and neither has God given us any clues.

Thus, belief in angels becomes problematic from a practical standpoint. Furthermore, in this post-modern, post-industrial, technologically driven Western society, there appears to be no practical role of metaphysical concepts such hell and heaven, angels and djinns, life after death and the day of resurrection

I really don’t know what it means to believe in these concepts and, therefore, fail ‘to believe’ in a number of important articles of faith. The quest continues…

Footnotes

1. Iman
2. Wikiquote

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