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Does Islam permit critical thinking?
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Posted on: Sunday, June 14, 2009 - Hits: 2821

I have read that most Muslim schools focus on rote memorization of religious texts and discourage independent thinking. In other words, the students are required to memorize passages from religious books, but they are not allowed to learn about modern scientific ideas such as evolution, history of nations compiled by secular historians, or anything which would conflict with the religious tenants of Islam. Some of the religious schools merely propagandize militant Islamic beliefs and indoctrinate little boys into becoming warriors for the next Jihād. Is it because Islam itself discourages intellectual activity? Does Islam really permit critical thinking?

I would rather say that Islam encourages critical thinking instead of just permitting it. At scores of places in the Holy Qur’ān, the Almighty has exhorted man to think about the signs that are spread around him and that testify to the greatness of Allah. The Holy Qur’ān reads:

None will grasp the message but men of intellect? (2:269)
Most certainly the worst of animals in Allah’s sight are the deaf, the dumb who do not use their brains. (8:22)

Behold in the creation of the heavens and the alteration of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of intellect. (3:190)

We are not supposed to close our eyes and live this life being obsessed with worldly pleasures as animals who only know how to strive for their bodily desires. We are rather supposed to ponder, deliberate and choose a proper course of action for whatever undertaking we venture. Thus, critical thinking is not confined to thinking about the stars and the moon. It is rather moving ahead in every field of science and arts. The discoveries that we succeed to make in these fields will evidently guide us how to appreciate the Original Creator of everything, who always partake in our lives like a concerned and active Mentor.


Jhangeer Hanif

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