Does Islam Permit to Evaluate Religions Rationally?

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Islam, which literally means “Submission to Allah,” is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centered on the Quran and Muhammad’s teachings. Christianity and Judaism are also Abrahamic monotheistic religions based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and Moses, respectively. Conversely, Hinduism is a diverse belief system of thought with many philosophies and rituals.

Though followers of each religion identify themselves as unique and different from the followers of other religions, all of them at least have one common feature. They are biased in determining the authenticity of their beliefs.

For example, we hear many individuals saying they were born into a Muslim family but only came to understand the truth of Islam after extensive research and verification. Similarly, during many debates, devout Hindus assert that they, too, are born into a Hindu family but later realize the truth of Hinduism only after careful selection, research, and understanding. Christians, Jews, and Buddhists all express identical opinions.

Surprisingly, most individuals claim that they discover their ancestral religion’s authenticity only after conducting exhaustive research and verification. It is both humorous and tragic.

The central question being addressed in this article—if Islam permits its followers rationally evaluate other religions—requires that we address the cognitive bias that explains how humans prioritize and process large amounts of information quickly, the role of close relatives, or the influence of local media in making a decision, before citing references from Islamic sources, Quran, Hadiths, and Tafsir that would clearly show that Islam is a religion of coercion.

Role of Cognitive Bias in Religious Authenticity

The term “cognitive bias” refers to an error in reasoning that occurs when one uses an “ascending” line of reasoning. The evidence a person accepts or rejects is heavily influenced by their personal values, history of thought process, religious upbringing, and the reforms learned from childhood.

This means that most people are unwittingly favoring the evidence supporting their pre-existing beliefs. When a person gathers or recalls data based on his subjective perspectives, that person will be biased toward data confirming his existing notions, fixations, or beliefs.

He would desire to demonstrate the doctrines or beliefs he holds dear. The only evidence in his favor appears credible to him. On the other hand, he avoids or attempts to reject evidence that contradicts his doctrine or belief, regardless of how strong or clear it may be.

As much as the evidence favors his position, he uses and recalls it to strengthen his beliefs or doctrines. The pattern is a flawed strategy known as the “confirmation bias” or “cognitive bias.”

The human brain has a remarkable capacity for pattern recognition and inductive reasoning, allowing us to spot patterns and deduce their logical implications. Extensive scientific research has proven that the human brain acts like a recognition machine.

Our brain continuously searches for patterns. When we look at the clouds, many see a horse, an elephant, or a person. But the cloud we see may not look like a horse, elephant, or human. But as our brain searches for patterns, we discover something similar in the shadows.

In the same way, the brain only repeatedly reminds us of the memories and beliefs that make us happy. Understanding the process by which our mind improves when we experience pleasure, the brain repeats the work in an effort to provide us with satisfaction.

Due to this mechanism, when you examine a large amount of information and evidence, those are the ones the brain accesses more often, which our memory has repeatedly recalled. And this is why we experience confirmation bias.

Therefore, the cognitive bias towards our religions is the primary reason why most people see their faith as the most authentic. They don’t need to verify other religions in the context.

The debate today centers on whether Islam permits us to verify what other religions do or whether Islam allows the right religion to be selected by reasoning; we also need to discuss the role of family religion, local media in a context other than the cognitive bias.

Role of family rituals, local media in religious rationality

Religious rationality is a combination of beliefs and values which is unique to each religion and can be difficult to understand from the outside. Through family rituals and local media, religious reasoning is passed down from generation to generation.

Almost everyone has a family from the time of birth. We naturally acquire the family’s religious beliefs and views. It’s inevitable that if we’re raised to believe that Allah is the only God and the Quran is the ultimate truth, that’s what we’ll come to believe. Similarly, we are immersed in the Hindu faith from the early days of our lives when we were born into a Hindu family. The religion we are taught will shape our childhood minds, no matter if we are born into a Muslim or Hindu family.

Family members contribute significantly to our understanding of God and religion as well. From the family, we obtain the most fundamental notions of what God should be likable, whether there should be an image of God, whether God is one or more, and what should be in religion.

Parents, grandparents, uncles, close relatives, even local friends would tell us stories from their respective religions. Teachers in schools share the biographies of various members of our religions. All of these acts form the basis of our concepts.

If you grow up in a Muslim household in a Muslim-dominated part of Bangladesh, you can expect to hear a lot about Islam’s truth and how other faiths are based on lies and distortions.

When you’re born into a Hindu family in a Hindu-dominated part of India, you’ll hear nothing but praise for Hinduism from your neighbors. The situation is the same in all of these countries.

In addition, if a country has a Muslim majority, media such as newspapers, radio, and television will air drama films based on Muslim preference. Again, if the local population is primarily Hindu, the people would expect to see TV shows based on the Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is the same in Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist nations. A person who sees these things will grow up believing them to be true.

Role of Childhood Education

Childhood education has a significant impact on people’s minds. We also retain the fundamental lessons we learned as kids for a long time. If nearly everyone around us teaches that Gods and Goddesses exist, we learn to believe in their existence. If our neighbors instruct us to learn the existence of Jehovah God, we find the same to be true.

This work seems logical and natural if we are taught to worship idols from a young age. Then, we laugh hysterically when our Muslim friends tell us God cannot be seen. Surprisingly, we are unable to determine what kind of God is perfect, or how would we worship God?

Again, if we are born into a Muslim family, we are taught that neither God nor Allah can be seen. Then, when our Hindu friends show us images of deities, or we come across an idol, we laugh heartily. What kind of God is this? I ask myself if there is any God that is visible.

Some Gods have two heads and four hands; some even have heads that look like the head of an elephant. These deities resemble both humans and animals. Some seem stranger than the elephant’s head alone. What an odd religion these are—ten hands, three heads.

However, if we had been born into a family who practiced that religion, we would have learned that lesson at a young age. And to us, that seemed typical. For instance, I come from a Bengali family. I find the Bengali language to be straightforward, and it’s fantastic! German seemed like such a strange language when I first started learning it. Additionally, it might seem odd to a German when he attempts to learn Bengali.

Again, it is considered perfectly normal in our culture to visit a neighbor’s home on Eid while dressed in traditional Punjabi clothing. In other countries and cultures, however, people sing in the streets on the day of these festivals. Seeing them, we feel strange. On the other hand, when they see our behavior, it seems bizarre to them. This perception is because the culture in which we have been raised since childhood education seems natural to us.

Wonder! Does God Possesses any Power

Since childhood, our curious mind sometimes asks whether God has any power in effect. For instance, if we are born into Hinduism and worship idols and visit temples, sometimes we see that members of other religions may occasionally break our idols. The questions then arise: Do these idols we worship possess any power? How could they destroy our idols and temples if idols had any power?

Then, our religious gurus provide us with comprehension through various wordplay. We must accept these words despite their unreasonableness.

When we are born into a Muslim or Christian family, the pagans sometimes destroy our places of worship and burn various holy books including the Quran. In fact, there have been numerous attempts to destroy the Kaaba Sharif by humans and natural disasters. Consequently, we start to wonder if God is all-powerful!

How does this occur if Allah possesses all power? When we approach religious leaders with these inquiries, they respond similarly using wordplay. No matter how absurd the response, we must accept their reasoning because religious leaders have stated it. This usually means that we are expected to follow the religious norms of the family into which we are born.

It’s not uncommon for people to give up their religious beliefs and embrace another faith or become atheists. This holds true for the followers of Islam just as much as it does for other religions.

We have a general idea of a person’s background, including their family of origin, educational background, and social environment. It’s shallow to judge someone based on such superficial characteristics. Nonetheless, Allah and his Prophet were bad for making this mistake, right? Let us explore the holy books:

The Qur’anic Proclamation: Exploring Other’s Religions Leads to Loser

When it comes to exploring other religions, the Islamic faith is often perceived as being very restrictive. Muslims worldwide are taught to believe in their religion strongly and trust that it is correct.

On the other hand, Muslims are human too, and naturally, a few of them may be curious about other faiths. Is exploring other religions a taboo concept? Most importantly, if one decides to do so, does it mean they lose their faith and place in society?

The Qur’an makes it abundantly clear that if a Muslim seeks out or explores a religion other than Islam, he will be counted among the losers

Logical Skepticism and Suspicion

Rational skepticism is a form of critical inquiry that seeks to validate claims using logic. It is based on the notion that any belief must be well-supported to be accepted and is often employed to protect people from accepting false information.

In Islam, logical skepticism and doubt can be considered sinful. According to holy books, it is crucial to have faith in God and His words as opposed to skepticism and suspicion.

For examples:

1. Sahih hadith makes it very clear that having doubts in one’s mind, scratching one’s head, and checking oneself out due to suspicions are all sins in the eyes of Islam [4].

2. The Hadith also mentions that those disputing and casting doubt on the Qur’an are kufrs [5].

Nose-Roped Camel

An interesting analogy is used to explain how Muslims can easily be identified. ‘Muslims are like nose-roped camels.’ This analogy was put forward by a group of Islamic scholars to help explain the unique ways in which Muslims are identifiable.

Nose-roping is the practice of looping the rope around a camel’s nostril to control it while other animals surrounding it go away. This practice is relevant to Muslims because of their unique cultural practices and beliefs, which set them apart from other races and religions.

According to sahih Hadith, a believer should be like a camel with its nostrils reined. He is compelled to move in the direction that the reins pull him. This entails blind faith in and acceptance of Islamic law. Choosing any verification, considering the evidence, and then deciding whether or not to accept it are not Islamic practices. In Islam, there is no room for using proof to back up claims [6].

Iman! What It Means

The word “Iman” means “to acknowledge, recognize, and firmly believe in the opinion” in its original Arabic. “Faith” in Islam means unwavering agreeing with and clinging to each of the following claims, regardless of evidence to the contrary [7].

  • 1. To acknowledge that there is only one God.
  • 2. To have faith in the angels of God.
  • 3. Third, I have faith in the holy scriptures.
  • 4. The belief in divinely-appointed prophets and messengers.
  • 5. Have faith that Allah can overcome evil with good.
  • 6. Sixth, faith in the next life or life after death.
  • 7. Hope for a second chance at life after death.

The Hadith also makes it abundantly clear that having Iman means not wanting to use doubt and reason to verify Islamic legal norms.

Blind faith is also known as faith without reasoning, logic, or evidence (in someone or something). Interestingly, the same definition applies to faith in Islam. What is stated in the Tafseer Jalalain [8] definition of Iman is:

According to Tafsir Jalalain, Iman is faithful to the ‘unseen.’ It has been said that nothing can be known rationally about the ‘unseen’ [9].

Second Kalima Testimony

One of the five verses a Muslim must know and read is to testify for Allah without evidence. Witnessing is entailed by the word testimony. In Islam, however, this false testimony must be given without seeing with one’s own eyes, without observing, and without any evidence. In the beginning, Muslims are taught a lie.

I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone with no partner and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger.

Prophet Disliked Arguments

The Prophet explicitly forbade numerous aspects of Islam, including discussion and debate. In the past, he would become irrationally enraged at the mere mention of it. He hoped that his ummah would accept them at face value. He warns us to be afraid, saying that any attempt to discuss this will destroy it [10].

Nonetheless, he cautioned Muslims against engaging in such speculation until they had independently determined the answers to their many questions about God or Allah [11] [12].

Philosophical or Logical Study

When translated literally from Greek, the word ‘philosophy’ means “love of wisdom” in English. More precisely, Philosophy is the systematic study of fundamental and general questions pertaining to existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language.

Philosophy is the source of nearly all human knowledge. The highest academic degree is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), which can be earned in virtually any field. This means that advanced studies in any subject are actually philosophical studies. More precisely, philosophy is the womb from which all other branches of knowledge have emerged.

But what does Islam have to say about logical and philosophical study? Let’s begin with the opinion of a modern Bangladeshi Islamic scholar Abu Bakr Muhammad Zakariya. Many of us have listened to his talk, in which he debated whether or not Muslims should study logic or philosophy.

Imam Ibn Abeel Iz al-Hanafi authored the seminal work on Tahabiyya, Sharhul Aqeedah At-Tahabiyah. We also examine the Islamic creed, as articulated by Salaf in his book [13].

The ancient Islamic text Al-Fiqhul Akbar discusses the Aqeeda. It is one of Imam Abu Hanifa’s books that has survived to the present day. Let’s check out Dr. Khondoker Abdullah Jahangir Sahib’s translation of the philosophical section of this book [14].

Islam is about worldly knowledge

The primary objective of science is to acquire systematic knowledge of the world and its truth, while also addressing earthly problems and protecting the interests of humanity. Scientists, for instance, focus on researching diseases and developing effective treatments that serve the needs of people during their time on earth. Science pertains to the study of everything that is observable, testable, and verifiable in the physical world, with its orderly and systematic investigation leading to valuable insights. All fields of science share a common goal of enhancing the quality of human life by addressing issues such as hunger, disease, and improving daily living conditions. Scientific inquiry is restricted to worldly matters and does not involve supernatural phenomena or the will of Allah. Therefore, it is essential to explore the position of Islam on this subject.

Riyad as-Salihin
The Book of Knowledge
Hadith Number: 1391
The Book of Knowledge
(241)Chapter: Virtues of Knowledge which is Learnt and Taught for the sake of Allah
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said, “He who does not acquire knowledge with the sole intention of seeking the Pleasure of Allah but for worldly gain, will not smell the fragrance of Jannah on the Day of Resurrection.”
[Abu Dawud].
Reference: Riyad as-Salihin 1391
In-book reference: Book 12, Hadith 16

Sunan Ibn Majah
The Book of the Sunnah
Hadith Number: 252
The Book of the Sunnah
(23)Chapter: Gaining benefit from knowledge and acting in accordance with it
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said:
“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Whoever acquires knowledge by which the pleasure of Allah is sought, but he only acquires it for the purpose of worldly gain, will not smell the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection.'” (Hasan) Another chain with similar wording.
Reference: Sunan Ibn Majah 252
In-book reference: Introduction, Hadith 252
English translation: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 252

Islam Forbids Conscience

Islam actively discourages individuals from following their own religious opinion and conscience. According to a narration recorded in The Sunan Abu Dawood, a person’s conscience or personal opinion cannot ever determine a religion’s standards [15].

Islam explicitly discourages people from having religious consciences and opinions. The Sunan Abu Dawood contains a narration stating that a person’s conscience or personal opinion can never determine a religion’s standards. It only provides instructions that everyone has to follow [15].

Let’s read another hadith [16]

Now let’s also read the explanation [17]

Now, let’s look at what the Aqeeda books of Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaat say about this topic. Imam Ibn Abel iz al-Hanafi wrote the famous Aqeeda book Sharhul Aqeeda at-Tahabiyah. In his book, he says that no one in the ummah is allowed to doubt, check, or use their own judgment about what is apparent in the Qur’an. All the scholars agree that reading or thinking about philosophy, logic, or logic is likely to weaken a person’s faith in Islam [18].

Is Reading Other’s Scriptures Allowed?

Reading and verifying the scriptures of other religions is essential if one intends to conclude that all other beliefs are either false or distorted and only my faith is the true one.

How can I be sure if I don’t read others’ scriptures? For example, a shopkeeper might declare that, in their opinion, only Milkvita milk is pure and that all other kinds of milk contain harmful additives. He may produce an advertisement for Milkvita, claiming its product is superior and that any other milk on the market is tainted. To determine whether or not this shopkeeper’s claim is accurate, I need to go to a different store and buy some milk and compare the two.

The fact that the store clerk or Milkvita’s advertising claims that their milk brand is the purest and that all other kinds of milk are adulterated does not validate the claims. It would be hilarious if some people actually believed it.

However, Islam prohibits examining other religions, reading other’s scriptures, and reaching conclusions. First, read two hadiths on this topic [19][20].

In Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah ibn Baz is a well-known Islamic scholar and a key proponent of Salafi thought. He served as Saudi Arabia’s chief mufti from 1993 until his passing. We read a fatwa that was published on his official website [21] on this topic.

Muhammad Salih Al Munajjid, one of the best Islamic scholars in the world, has answered this question on his well-known website, Islam QA. The top scholars in Saudi Arabia have verified this answer. [22].

Another well-known fatwa website is IslamWeb. Check out a fatwa online to see what the law says about this [23].

Does Islam Allow Freedom of Thought?

Freedom of thought is a fundamental human right and a prerequisite for an open and inclusive society. It allows individuals to think and express their beliefs without fear or prejudice and question authority, laws, and anything else they find questionable. Ultimately, freedom of thought is essential for human progress and development.

In the Islamic faith, Allah is the only one with ultimate authority, and believers are to follow the rules and regulations prescribed by Him.

In Islam, humans are given the freedom to think and make their own decisions about their lives as long as these decisions and thoughts do not go against the teachings of the Islamic faith.

No freedom is allowed to question the fundamentals of Islam; all acts are forbidden, which would lead to deviation from Islamic beliefs.

Now, let’s examine a well-known fatwa by Shaykh Muhammad bin Saleh Al-Uthaymeen regarding intellectual liberty in Islam [24].

Children’s Religious Education

Our hopes for the future are embodied in our children. The lessons we teach our children stick with them.

For many parents, religious education is essential to raising their children. It is an approach to teaching principles, beliefs, and rituals associated with a particular faith.

A child born into a Muslim family will be taught the basics of Islam by his Muslim parents. If he is born into a Hindu family, he will be raised in accordance with Hindu principles. In most cases, young people have no idea which religions are true and which are false. He lacks the information, experience, and knowledge to make such a determination.

Therefore, it is up to his parents to instill in him the belief that a particular faith, for example, Hinduism, is true and other faiths, such as Islam, are false. But a kid should have the right to choose; by the time he’s an adult, he’ll have a firm grasp on the tenets of various faith. When he’s older, he’ll be able to think things through for himself. A child’s rights are violated because his parents force him to adopt their religion as if he has been denied the chance to form his own beliefs.

Even if his parents are Jewish, he should have the right to accept Islam if he concludes after due diligence that Islam is true. The same holds true for everyone. It is wrong to impose one’s religion on children. They should have the opportunity to undergo screening. But while Muslims are willing to teach Islam to Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, and Jewish children, they are unwilling to teach Muslim children about any other religion [25].

Children Are Beaten to Enforce Religious Practice

A young child lacks the maturity to determine which religion is true and which religion is false. He will learn from his parents’ instruction.

However, Islam forces him to accept and practice religion before he is old enough to make an informed choice. It is important to note the Sunnah Khatna here as an example. Sunnah Khatna, also known as circumcision, is done without the child’s permission or consent.

In a civilized society, harming another person’s limbs without their permission is unlawful. In addition, the Hadith states that Muhammad ordered the children to be beaten if they did not pray [26] [27].

Punishment of Apostates in Islam

Commonly, a Muslim who renounces his or her faith in Islam in any way—whether in thought, word, or deed—is said to have committed apostasy. In the Arabic and Islamic world, Murtad refers to a Muslim who has abandoned the faith.

When the provision of punishment for the murtads is discussed, it becomes more evident that Islam imposes restrictive rules, compels to believe, intimidates, or causes panic without providing the opportunity to choose any verification in it.

If a member of a group is told he will be killed if he leaves, the truth or falsity of the group’s statement, as well as its quality, becomes irrelevant because there is no option to accept or reject the party’s ideology.

The concept of belief is introduced as the mental process by which one accepts a statement as being true. It’s always a subjective attitude. A believer may believe in something without reasoning. Similarly, a non-believer does not believe even when coerced.

However, in Islam, belief is something that seems to be inherited. No one ever bothers to inquire about religious preferences if you are born into a Muslim family, wherein a person becomes a Muslim before they are old enough to make a free and informed decision.

Therefore, the question may come what will happen if someone born into a Muslim family decides to abandon Islam later? In the event that he decides to adopt a different faith? Or what if he starts rejecting religion altogether? What is the Islamic penalty for apostasy? Where does Sharia law stand on this matter?

Let’s consult some hadiths in this regard. To begin, let’s listen to a quote from the illustrious Islamic scholar Mahmudul Hasan Gunvi,

Let’s read some hadiths [28, 29] this time.

Let’s examine the hadiths directly from Sahih Bukhari [30][31]

Look at the Mu’atta imam malik [32], a book written by the renowned hadith narrator Imam Malik, to find out the punishment for the Murtad.

However, even more, inhumane is that if anyone kills Murtad, the perpetrator will not face the death penalty [33].

At the same time, Islamic law says that the property of the Murtad will also be taken away [34].


From the preceding discussion, it is evident that Islam is, fundamentally, a religion of coercion. In this faith, you have no say in what you accept or reject. Beliefs in this faith do not come through rational consideration of the evidence.

On the contrary, one must accept Islam blindly. Suppose a person verifies and abandons this religion believing it to be false; he is threatened with death by the blind followers, creating an obstacle in a person’s decision-making effort.

If someone is asked to vote with a knife in his neck, then there is no chance to claim that he has cast a vote based on his conscience. Islam similarly holds a knife to the necks of its adherents, preventing them from making independent decisions free of outside influence. In light of this, it is possible to assert that Islam is not a religion of scrutiny but rather a religion of coercion.

আসিফ মহিউদ্দীন

আসিফ মহিউদ্দীন সম্পাদক সংশয় - চিন্তার মুক্তির আন্দোলন [email protected]

One thought on “Does Islam Permit to Evaluate Religions Rationally?

  • January 14, 2021 at 1:30 AM

    I believe Allah and Muhammod ( sallahu alyhe wa sallam)… ….if I die today …my post will show the people that I am a good Muslim.thank you.


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