A Disturbing Khutbah

Last Friday, the imam gave a  twenty-minute khutbah that can be reduced to just one sentence: “Those who use their brains will know that Islam is the true religion.”

Well, I am surprised he doesn’t know that millions of intelligent people have used their brains, and have decided that religions other than Islam are “true.”  He doesn’t know that Christians have constructed a complex and convincing theory for their trinitarian god. Hindus and Buddhists have used texts more ancient than the Bible for informing their concepts about ultimate reality. All religions provide an intellectual framework  through which followers can navigate, contemplate and reaffirm basic tenets.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is no less convincing than Mohammed’s journey through the heavens. Both religions maintain belief in the virgin birth of Jesus, and who can reaffirm that by using their brains?

My brain tells me that babies don’t get started without sexual intercourse, and that the live body does not levitate through the sky except by way of an airplane. My brain tells me that the body stays dead after death.  To believe otherwise requires a leap of faith which inactivates  the brain rather than uses it. Indeed, believers who wonder about religious  “facts”, or dare to question them, are taught that their faith needs strengthening.

That is absolutely true. One’s faith, not one’s brain, must take the lead in deciding which religion is “true”.  Once you are there, your brain must remain inert. Faith and Intellect are mutually exclusive, at least with regard to the daily lives of ordinary people.

One reads nowadays that certain scientists are finding ways to meld — not merely reconcile– their intellectual development with  faith. Quantum physics shows us that  matter and non-material reality exist as a continuum, not an absolute, and that previously illogical concepts can actually become logical, under certain conditions.

This is where using one’s brain will reaffirm religion. Until science can establish the possibility that religious “facts” could have indeed occurred as taught by religion, my brain will not be in use with regard to faith. My brain and my faith live in different realities. I daresay I speak for the majority of “believers”. The imam would do well to address his next khutbah on the necessity of suspending intellectual function, rather than using it, as a means to decide which religion is “true.”

About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, retired from a job in a hospital, gratefully relieved from the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions, and narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people. I still dream of spending more time in the Middle East and Italy, though the dreaming now seems more real than the possibilities. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
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21 Responses to A Disturbing Khutbah

  1. sonicchrist says:

    those who use their brains know the difference between religion and grace.

  2. sonicchrist says:

    Christianity is not teaching trinitarity; only the Pope does; and Isa in the Quran is not Jesus but Esau. Read more…


    • Marahm says:

      Most Christian faiths do teach a trinitarian godhead, although some do not. Prophet Isa in the Qur’an is, indeed, the same Jesus of Christianity. As you know, Muslims believe in his prophetic message but not in his divinity, or as a human sacrifice for the redemption of the world.

  3. djdfr says:

    I guess I would lean more to the quantum way as I believe we are fairly ignorant as far as the universe and the absolute goes. There are many things beyond our actual state of knowledge and our comprehension. As I read once, it can be amusing to watch the finite mind grapple with the infinite.

    • Marahm says:

      You said, “There are many things beyond our actual state of knowledge and our comprehension.” and most people would agree with that, even people who would stake their lives on their own religious convictions as being absolutely true.

      More than amusing, the finite mind wrecks havoc upon itself when it decides to bind up the infinite in a neat package called religion, and yet, how else can anyone get a grasp on the infinite? Ironic, isn’t it?

  4. mak says:

    Assalamu alaikum.
    As u agree truth about / in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity etc…Islam has asked Muslims to believe in over 124 thousand prophets sent by god to all religions including non believing atheists before prophet Muhammad ( s a w s ) …
    If you believe what Islam says to you, it is appropriate to mention (imam’s khutba) to use your brain to believe in truth.
    If those who believe in avatars, prophets, son of god, trinity etc…they still lack believing in prophet Muhammad..
    I don’t understand why it is disturbing to you if you are a Muslim?.


    • Marahm says:

      Wa Aleikum Assalaam, mak,
      I knew someone would challenge me on this point! What disturbs me is that the imam claimed that, “those who use their brains will know that Islam is the true religion.” My claim is that ANY believer in ANY religion can “use their brains” to justify the truth of ANY religion. Religions that endure do so partly by the construction of concepts that are written in stone, so to speak– concepts that are not satisfied by the current state of scientific knowledge.

      Therefore, belief in religious pillars cannot be maintained by the intellect, but by the heart and spirit.

      Islam appeals to the intellect more than other religions, but Islam also makes claims for totally illogical “facts” that must be accepted on faith, such as the virgin birth of prophet Isa.

      I’m not saying I don’t believe in those basic doctrines, but I am saying my intellect does not embrace them.

      • Issam says:

        The laws of nature are different from the laws of logic. A=A is a law of logic (the law of identity), but the second law of thermodynamics is a law of nature.
        Laws of logic hold everywhere and are never breakable. A is always equal to A. 1 is always equal to 1. It is never equal to 2. But the laws of nature can be changed from a universe to another (we can at least conceive of a different set of laws of nature to the ones in our universe), and only hold in closed systems in the same universe. So when an Intelligent Creator is introduced the system is no longer closed and therefore the laws of nature no longer hold.
        So when God interferes in the universe it becomes possible for miracles to occur such as the virgin birth or the night journey etc…

    • Issam says:

      Hello mak

      I don’t think it disturbs sister Marahm that she is a Muslim. She just says that others use their brains too and that there are things can should be taken on faith, though I disagree with her on the virgin birth because it breaks the laws of nature (which were created by God), not the laws of logic.

      • Marahm says:

        Yes, Issam, you understood me correctly: “others use their brains too and that there are things can should be taken on faith.”

        With regard to virgin birth, do you mean to say that it is believable because God made the laws of nature (and therefore of logic) and he can break them as easily as he made them?

  5. Sarah says:

    A lot of Muslims do press that Islam appeals to the intellect, much more than I’ve seen Christians do. But it didn’t work like that for me either. Once I dug deep enough, I hit problems.

    I find science, and agnosticism about the ultimate nature of reality, best serve my relationship with “the infinite”. But religion always best served my need to feel connected to a greater purpose and to feel “safe”. I guess the intellectual side won out for me.

    • Marahm says:

      When you live as long as I’ve lived (and sixty-two years is not very long in the grand scheme of things!) you will have seen scientifically established facts turned upside down. When I was a girl, there was no such thing as artificial birth control, cell phones, color television, or computers. Those things were the stuff of science fiction, impossible and improbable, just like religious claims of virgin birth and bodily resurrection.

      I do believe that physical science will continue to develop, and human beings will continue to discover that impossible concepts will be proven possible. I will probably not live long enough to see any religion justified by scientific inquiry.

      As much as I believe in science, I also need the feeling of safety and connection to a reality greater than my own. I could not become an atheist, therefore I must “hold the tension of the opposites,” to use a phrase from psychology, and live in service to both science and God.

      • Sarah says:

        Yes – I’m a research scientist myself, so I know how provisional and tentative its results can often be. I think why I feel most comfortable with it as a medium for engaging with “the infinite” is that it allows me to bring both a critical, doubting mind, and a sense of wonder, to it all. Even in my Unitarian church, which has no official beliefs and is open to all, I often feel like a party pooper, and that I’d better keep my skepticism to myself. Ceasing to *want* to hold onto belief in anything in particular seems to have made me a bad fit for religion, even liberal religion. I suppose my own “tension of the opposites” is that I still choose to be a (peripheral) member of the Unitarian community, as best I can.

    • Issam says:

      The problems you hit Sarah were not with logic but with late traditions. Regards,

  6. Marahm says:

    Issam, I like your explanation of the difference between the laws of nature and the laws of logic. The question becomes, “Is there an intelligent Creator, or has the universe evolved according to some of the relevant scientific theories?” As we are Muslims, we assume that Allah exists, and we are back where we started– certain things must be taken on faith, not reason, and if one doubts, one’s faith– not one’s brain– is in need of strengthening.

    I’ll be meditating upon this subject for a long time!

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