The first Islamic concept I plan to write about in my inaugural post is a no-brainer. It is the concept of Allah Almighty. Allah is the Alpha and the Omega. The Awal and the Akhir. Allah is the Manifest and the Hidden. The Zahir and the Batin. Allah is a paradox to begin with. Islam speaks of Allah in contradictory terms.
My heretic thoughts lead me to believe that Allah is only a reality insofar as human beings are capable of perceiving such a reality. In other words, Allah cannot be said to exist if human consciousness does not perceive Him. But do I really perceive Allah? Perhaps, only as a concept; as a figment of my imagination. Belief in Allah appears to be a psychological fact. According to one of the verses of the Qur’an, Allah is reported to be closer to man than his jugular vein (Surah Qaf).
According to another verse of the Qur’an, those who forget Allah are in turn made to forget their own-selves by Allah (Surah Al-Hashr).
Stitching together these two verses of the Qur’an, Allah appears very similar to the elusive ‘self’ that philosophy, psychology and religions speak about in their own unique terms. Belief in Allah, thus, reduces to nothing but belief in one’s own self, whatever the self means.
Furthermore, the descriptions of Allah provided in the Qur’an clearly suggest that Allah has some type of a personality, although orthodox Muslims don’t admit it. It might not be totally wrong to, therefore, think that the notion of Allah is framed in the image of human consciousness rather than the other way round. I say so because Allah is described characteristically in terms that define human consciousness. To be compassionate, to be merciful, to be the creator, to be the nurturer, to be the subduer, to be the protector; one must first of all possess consciousness. Allah is capable of all that we, as humans, are capable of, albeit to a much higher degree of perfection.
Of course, all this discourse about Allah still begs the question about Allah’s existence. If Allah within is human consciousness, shouldn’t we focus on understanding and exploring the nature of the consciousness? Why posit the existence of a complicated being, such as Allah, within ourselves? And what about the existence of Allah without? Is Nature equal to Allah or is Nature a partial expression of Allah?
Whether we like it or not, we invariably end up treading the scientific path in order to answer these questions. Science, of course, is silent about the existence of Allah. It has no interest in designing experiments and developing technologies enabling the discovery of Allah. Allah’s fate is sealed by science and there’s no progress in uncovering Allah.
However, just for the sake of argument, let’s proceed forward. If we accept the proposition that Allah exists as a psychological dimension of human existence that provides a source of strength and positivity, we are confronted with another important question. What’s the importance of Allah in 21st century? Is He needed in any way or are we to do away with His existence all together?
I think there is very little relevance of Allah for people living in post-modern, post-industrial, technologically driven Western societies. The achievements in engineering and medicine have made new gods and money seems to be the sine qua non for sustenance. Allah is an artifact of past. An ancient relic of that is of no use.
It is true that Allah is not of much use. We can discard the concept of Allah as we wish. Yet, for some odd reason, Allah continues to be the source of strength for millions of Muslims across the globe, many of whom are well educated, liberal and progressive by modern standards. A lot of Muslims need Allah and believe that everything they have is a blessing by Allah.
I find this quite bewildering at a personal level. But this attitude of Muslims in general reinforces my conclusion that Allah is just an inner, psychological aspect of ourselves. It’s like an invisible parent that constantly watches us, consoles us and, sometimes, confides in us.
Allah is omnipresent and omniscient not in the absolute but in the relative sense. That is we, as individual human beings, are always present and aware of our own-selves. Our soliloquies are prayers.
In my opinion, this mystical attitude makes Islam much more palatable in modern times. Of course, nothing that I have said so far proves the existence of Allah or the veracity of Qur’anic claims. It just offers a somewhat unorthodox interpretation of Islam that might have some relevance.
Allah remains a living reality for believers and nonsense for non-believers. For an agnostic such as myself, Allah is an idea that oscillates between sense and non-sense allowing room for creative interpretation and re-interpretation. Allah is continuously evolving!