The Place of External Knowledge in the Formation of Religious Belief in Islamic Theology 1
I-Definitions of Īmān 1
a-Īmān (Faith). 1
II-Elements Which Help Structuring Īmān (faith) 5
e-The Cognition Form of Faith. 12
The Place of External Knowledge in the Formation of Religious Belief in Islamic Theology
I-Definitions of Īmān
In Arabic the term īmān is derived from the root “a-m-n”, it is in the “if‘al” form and means, “to give confidence to others”, “to be ensured”, “to confirm and to accept”. Verb form “āmana” means “removal of fear and replacing it with confidence”1.
In Islamic terminology the definition of īmān given in Gabriel hadith in which six principles of īmān is mentioned similarly the term āmentu, which forms knowledge of catechism, is symbolized to mean īmān. This is why definitions of īmān given in many books does not state what īmān is, instead tell about what to believe in2.
Generally speaking, the definition of īmān is given as follows: “īmān is to confirm (approve)”, “īmān is confirmation in heart”, “īmān is the contrivance of the heart”, “īmān is to confirm by heart and to confess by speech”, “īmān is contrivance in heart and is confession through speech”, “īmān is confirmation of heart, confession through speech, and performed by deeds”, “īmān is speech and deeds”3. According to Paul Tillich, īmān is a total and centered act of the personal self, the act of unconditional, infinite and ultimate concern4. Briefly Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned.
According to the father of all modern Protestant Theology, Schleiermacher, īmān is the feeling of unconditional dependence. Of course, feeling so defined does not mean in religion what it means in popular psychology. It is not vague and changing, but has a definite content5.
Also confirming messages preached by the Prophet in detail is called tafsilī; besides this confirming the prophet’s regulations as a summary is called icmālī īmān. To achieve this, a faithful believer (mu’min) must think that the Prophet is truthful and this is enough for him6.
Because scholars of Kalām (Islamic theologians) recognize intelligence (reason) as a basic they discussed about a person’s īmān who has a taqlidī (imitated, following the authority, imitation in legal matters) īmān as a result of observation (nazar) and proof (istidlāl/reason). Even so, the opinion of rejecting taqlidī īmān has become so extreme that common people who have no knowledge about logic and dialect are considered as non-believers, so this opinion has been symbolized with the concept kufr al-āmmeh. Scholars of Mu'tazilite sect claimed that a person having taqlidī īmān is a fāsiq (sinful) or a non-believer. The Ash'arites, among Ahl al-Sunnah (main stream orthodoxy) consider taqlidī īmān as something null and for this reason have been a doctrine which had been criticised7. According to their criticism, this person is not a Pagan and non-believer, but cannot be called a mu’min (true believer) absolutely.
Besides this, Māturidī, stated that the path leading to Īmān is proof (istidlal)8 and that knowledge is a means leading to confirmation. He puts knowledge (‘ilm) at the basic of īmān and states that a person having taqlidī īmān (imitated faith) cannot be excusable. But representatives following Māturidī in the later centuries have accepted that taqlidī īmān is acceptable9.
The term īqān/yaqīn (to be sure, to be certain) means sound reliable information leading to knowledge of something10. While the Qur’an uses the qualification yaqīn as a definition of mu’mins (believers), in contrast to suspicion, it is attributed to the non-believers and the hypocrites: “Only those are Believers who have believed in God and His Apostle, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the cause of God: such are the sincere ones, were we then weary with the first creation, that they should be in confused doubt about a new creation?” (Q. 49:15; see 9: 45).
According to Māturidī, there is a difference between iqān and īmān. Accordingly iqān is forming contrivance without īmān. But in order to have faith (īmān), contrivance is necessary. Accordingly, īmān comes into existence after yaqīn. In other words īqān calls in for īmān and becomes the motivating element11.
Arabic term “īmān” is used as “faith” in English. As “foi” in French. The word “inanc” in Turkish give as “belief” in English and as “I’tiqād” in Arabic, which are equivalent words. Belief may be divided into different categories. As a matter of fact, stages of this concept have been examined12. Also in English “belief” which is separated into two parts “belief in” and “belief that” is explained as different meaning within a whole. Having examined different degrees of belief in detail, H. H. Price (1899-1971)13, focused on examples about both parts. But according to the result which Price reached, it can be seen that outline of this classification cannot be drawn absolutely. Because, sometimes “belief in” can be reduced to “belief that”. In addition to this, the slight difference between the two can be explained as follows: Belief that” is only accepting certain propositions. When we talk about such a belief regarding “being of Allah”, we would only accept the existence of a “being called God”. This states a mental acceptance. The belief of the Satans in God is in this category14. So for a person accepting the suggestion Allah Exists”, it isn’t necessary that he must be real Moslem (mu’min). A person can be satisfied by only claiming to be believer in accordance with the first degree (belief that)15.
As far the difference between īmān (faith) and belief when compared with belief-īmān, is a more special concept16, being privileged with religious attribution. In other words, īmān is used in connection with a specific religion. Belief is not a religious category. Thus the acceptance of a religious person is basically called īmān, not belief17.
The word Islam which means “to submit”, “to surrender”, “to obey” is a concept which has been considered, and discussed in Islamic theology (Kalām) books in relation with the topics of īmān. In this regard, the relation between Islam-īmān has been stated according to the following definitions:
ı-Islam is a general concept, which include īmān. In other words, īmān is a feature of Islam18.
ıı-Īmān is more comprehensive than İslam19.
ııı-Although īmān and Islam are words having different meaning in the dictionary, they have same meaning in religion20.
The basic feature of īmān is described as believing in ghayb (unseen). Thus when the qualities of believers (mu’mins) are being stated in the Qur’an it has been emphasized that they have faith (īmān) in ghayb; “Who believe in (that) the unseen” (Q. 2:3). This acknowledgement influenced the famous Christian theologian St. Thomas (1224-1274). According to his opinion: “knowledge is related to objective-seen being, whereas, īmān is related to the unseen. This is why īmān cannot be mentioned where knowledge exists21. That’s why it has been accepted that there is certainty within īmān. As a matter of fact, it has been stated in the Qur’an: “Only those are Believers who have believed in God and His Apostle, and have never since doubted” (Q. 49:15).
Generally īmān means a human attribution (homo credo faith). Because suggestion as regards īmān are suggestions which no man can refuse or ignore22, besides being a human attribution, īmān is connected with man’s soul. Thus, the Christian theologians described the word as mental acceptance, confidence of heart and submission of the will power23 therefore, this is an explanation which shows that it is a concept to surround a person completely.
Paul Tillich (1886-1965) who describes īmān as the most exalted interest of mankind, he also accepts that it is a centered act. According to his opinion: “Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned”. According to him, īmān is in the center of the person’s private life, and it surrounds all aspects of life24. According to him, faith as ultimate concern is an act of the total personality. Īmān at the center unites all emotional, mental, spiritual, physical and even conscious and unconscious aspects of personal life. Just like how mankind is made up of the unity of these elements without separation and they form mankind’s aspects, which cannot be separated, similarly īmān, which penetrates mankind’s soul, has connections with and makes influence ever these elements25. Therefore, īmān can neither be created as a product of the mind, nor can it be considered as the effort of the will nor can it be regarded as the results of emotional acts. Īmān is an unknown phenomenon, which includes all of these elements26.
II-Elements Which Help Structuring Īmān (faith)
Having made comments on religion psychologists stated that there is no one whole, unique religious excitement, there could be generally widespread and deep common excitements stimulated by religious topics27. For example, divine love, is not different from emotional love, it is only a feeling of human love which has tendency towards religious topics and values28. Sacred love, which is one of the basic aims of all religions, is emphasized as divine love in the statements of holy Qur’an and it has been considered as the property of a sound belief.
Just like all the acts of mankind’s spiritual life, according to Tillich, there is emotion in īmān, and emphasizes that this an emotion does not form faith. According to his opinion, faith has unity within the act of īmān that does not prevent one from the domination of the objects. This can dominate so much as to determine the formation of īmān, but it cannot create the act of faith29.
According to Tillich, this is also true for feeling. Faith is not an emotional outburst. This is not the meaning of ecstasy. Certainly, emotion is in it, as in every act of man’s spiritual life. But emotion does not produce faith. Faith has a cognitive content and is an act of the will. It is the unity of every element in the centered self. Of course, the unity of all elements in the act of faith does not prevent one or the other element from dominating in a special form of faith. It dominates the character of faith but it does not create the act of faith.
But Islamic theology (Kalām), which forms the philosophy of religious belief, has been criticized because of the lacking of feelings in hearth/emotions30. Still, it cannot be said that they deny the emotional aspect of belief31. But it is a fact that the scholars of Kalām have ignored such topics32. The explanations about confirmation point out that īmān has an emotional aspect as well as the “kulli” (whole) state of īmān according to Tillich’s opinion, īmān having a “kullī” state, it is natural that it has emotional aspect just like other element33. It has been seen that his opinion has been practised in Christian theology, and that generally in Islamic Kalām knowledge it’s not at this degree. In Islamic opinion this matter is more practised in Sufism (Islamic mysticism), Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728/1328), famous scholar of Islamic theology, explains emotional element of īmān as “deeds of heart” and states that īmān comprises deeds of heart such as fear of Allah, divine love and reliance on God. Ibn Taymiyyah accepts and confirms deeds of heart with the exception of confirmation concept. This is why he criticizes scholars who equalize īmān with confirmation. According to his explanation, in order to have īmān in heart first it is necessary to confirm God and his messenger and later love them. Otherwise, while hating Allah and his messenger only confirming will not be accepted as īmān34. As a matter of fact, dimension of love as the main element of religious sentiment has been stated in the Qur’an as follows: “Say: "If you do love God, Follow me: God will love you and forgive you your sins: For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful". (Q. 3:31).
In the Arabic language it’s a concept, which was derived from the rood “r-w-d” meaning to request (desire), as a word it means –to wish35.
The ‘īmān–will’ relation gives different results according to the point of view. In other words, is īmān an act of will, or is it a psychological state? Is īmān something, which we perform, or is it something happens to us? The voluntarists who claim that we can control our belief say “yes” to the first question, the involuntarists confirm second part36.
St. Thomas who describes belief as “a mental act motivated by the effect of the will”37, as a result he says that īmān forms with will. Soren Kierkegaard (1768-1864) says that every belief is gained by the decision of will, so he appears as a radical voluntarist at the extreme level38.
Those who claim that īmān is unwilling consider that it is not an act. Because faith is not an act it cannot be the element of any recommendation or can it be element of any commandment39. According to David Hume (1711-1776), who is a main representative of this idea, belief is unintentional40.
Will forms the source of difference between confirmation and contrivance. Usually contrivance forms without will and personal effort, for confirmation intervention of the will is necessary. For example, when a person’s eye sees an object and soon after this sight without the intervention of the will an acknowledgement of that object happens. Whereas, confirmation does not happens like this41.
There is a connection between the function of will and “confirmation” in formation of īmān. In some “Kalām books confirmation has been described as the heart being ratified and submitted to something known and reported news42.
Taftazānī (d. 793/1390) says that this way of explaining is difficult to understand. He says that, such confirmation is a kind of knowledge, and that knowledge is a psychological circumstance not an intentional and willingful act. In other words, faith is a psychological circumstance. In this situation can we say that will contributes in formation of īmān? Teftazānī gives an answer to this question too. When īmān is a psychological circumstance it cannot be determined as a willingful act. But, in order to achieve this circumstance the effect of will exists. Will, can be seen during taking steps with means, in focusing ideas and thoughts towards that direction, in removing obstacles in order to gain īmān. Mankind is responsible for being faithful. Sometimes contrivance is not enough, contrivance can be manifested without such intentional achievements and acquirements43.
The Qur’anic verse “O ye who believe! Believe in God and His Apostle, and the scripture, which He hath sent to His Apostle, and the scripture, which He sent to those before (him)” (Q. 4:136) appoints the will within īmān. Commanding believers (mu’minūn) to settle īmān in heart, and to make it perfect and to sustain it. The verse was explained as “be firm in īmān and have duration in it. Carry out the rights of īmān44.
According to Paul Tillich, who considers the act of īmān as unwilling, certainly something which will ultimately worry a person could be a confirmation of his will. Faith is not a creation of the will. In the ecstasy of faith the will to accept and to surrender is an element but not the cause45.
There should not be any contrast between will and cognitive form. As a matter of fact, the nature of mental structure, a person’s imaginations of the world circumstances in which individuals face with environment in which they live in and survive; the psychological structure; their desires, aims and purposes; takes place depending on passed experiences46, this expression support this ideology.
Many Qur’anic verses emphasize the importance of deeds. It talks about the deeds being evaluated and judged in the Day of Judgement. Faith and deeds are generally mentioned together in the Qur’an. These expressions of Qur’an point out the connections between īmān and deeds. Also the Ahl al-Sunnah, arguing about faith-deeds relation, says that deeds are not a part of faith. At the same time they do not refuse the importance between faith and believer’s behaviours. They accept the relation between faith and deeds, even so, some of them say that these are signs of īmān47. Thus faith, which is mystic concept and reinforced with practice, goes on48.
As Clark expressed, putting the belief into act reinforces faith49. Put it this way deeds are protectors of faith and sustain it.
According to the Māturidī sect, a belief (doctrine) that faith increases or decreases is not acceptable. However, Māturidī belief that the faith is being as strengthened or being enfeebled50. The Ash’ari and Mu’tazilites schools of thought, say that faith increases with obedience and decreases with sins51. But the increase of faith in this aspect is in terms of attributions, not origin52. According to modern researcher Hassan Hanafī, the increase of faith is not absolutely actually, but on increase in contrivance must be in terms of detail and summary53.
Religion as a subject of belief has developed with humanity and has become an establishment, which exists with the existence of mankind. No community has existed living in total atheism in any era. Social factors are important in establishing faith, which forms the main essence of religion.
Traditions and customs are initiative in terms of these factors. Qur’an talks about the men who are against the faith; they didn’t hear of this from their ancestors, “The chiefs of the Unbelievers among his people said: "He is no more than a man like yourselves: his wish is to assert his superiority over you: if God had wished (to send messengers), He could have sent down angels; never did we hear such a thing (as he says), among our ancestors of old." (Q. 23:24); they shall follow the ways of their ancestors, “When it is said to them: "Follow what God hath revealed:" They say: "Nay! We shall follow the ways of our fathers." What! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance? (Q. 2:170); or enough for us are the ways we found our fathers following, “When it is said to them: "Come to what God hath revealed; come to the Apostle": They say: "Enough for us are the ways we found our fathers following." what! Even though their fathers were void of knowledge and guidance?” (Q. 5:104) as revealed in Qur’an these were their excuses that explain the social effects they experience.
The communication systems are one of the effective exterior elements, which influence formation of faith. Some researchers say that these systems are the most effective to “influence to convince and to motivate people”, others claim that these systems are limited54. According to the first opinion “likings and choices, beliefs and convictions of masses, interest and concerns, thoughts of people are under the control of communication systems55. This results in a considerable influence in the formation of people’s faith. As a result of different a research it has been seen that, media besides motivating people towards certain ideas helps strengthening existing ideas of people56.
Besides customs, traditions, and media there are other factors like school, family and close friends in terms of motivation which effects formation of faith. In fact, the prophetic hadith expressed the influence of family as follows: “Every new born baby borns within a natural creation. Father and mother of the baby makes him Jewish, Christian of fireworshipper. If the mother-father is a Moslem, then the child is a Moslem”57. Ghazālī (d. 505/1111), in connection with this hadith, writes that whichever faith is suggested to children from youth this the faith that will determine their future life58.
Many scholars of Islam acknowledge this “natural creation” concept as “being created with ability to direct towards religion” or “ability to believe” (have faith)59. According to some researches, the most influential 3rd, element is close friends after the family and school. According to the inquiries made on 400 students attending different high schools in Ankara, it has been showed that the influence of friends followed family and school in terms of having faith in God or disbelief60. This result makes the hadith “The person follows the religion of his close friend. So be careful in selecting your friends”61 more meaningful.
Ghazālī considered exterior information factor, which influence the formation of faith, and he said: “I saw that always children of Christians were raised up as Christians, children of Jews were raised up as Jewish, children Moslems were raised up as Moslems”62. J. J. Rousseau (1712-1778) who says that the faith of people are “like geographical books of knowledge”63 and he states that everybody accepts the religion taught to them, that they are “circumcised, baptized, Jewish, Muhammadan, Christian”64 according to the country they live in and that “God knows how many Christian Catholics live in Rome, who could have been good Moslems if they were born in Mecca. Similarly, the honourable and good Turkish living in Asia, could have been good Christians if they were living together with us”65. In this regard, the research made on students in America Berkeley University, which shows that their religious beliefs are the same with their neighbourhood, is very meaningful66.
The observations of Ghazālī and Rousseau are emphasized by the following statements in the Qur’an “And Noah, said: "O my Lord! Leave not of the unbelievers, a single one on earth!, "For, if Thou dost leave (any of) them, they will but mislead Thy devotees, and they will breed none but wicked ungrateful ones” (Q. 71:26-27). This Qur’anic verse states that they raise up their children to the direction of their own religious beliefs.
In this point, the society has a considerable effect over changes of religion in other words changes in faith. The need for social support to protect religious beliefs and making influence over individual faith by using social pressure these expressions are because of this pressure of the society. In an investigation made on youngsters converting to different religions in the West, says that 42 % percent of them convert as a result of social pressure67.
In the Qur’an it has been commanded “Already has He sent you Word in the Book, that when ye hear the signs of God held in defiance and ridicule, ye are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme: if ye did, ye would be like them“ (Q. 4:140); “When thou seest men engaged in vain discourse about Our signs, turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme. If Satan ever makes thee forget, then after recollection, sit not thou in the company of those who do wrong” (Q. 6:68) the above verses prohibits the believers from attending gathering where people deny divine messages and underestimate the holy words. These statements show that social environment make important influence over the religious lives of people.
e-The Cognition Form of Faith.
Cognition is a word, which means mental functions for learning about our world, and understanding it, this concept comprises stages such as perception, memory, reasoning, thinking, and understanding68. Questions about how a person receives information from the world surrounding him and how he selects them, how he conveys information and how he arranges it; how he constructs the imaginative form of reality and turns it into knowledge, these questions are answered by the term cognition69.
A believer thinks that he knows about the truthfulness of some religious principles. This situation is similar to the accepted knowledge we obtain from our community; knowledge which we have no doubt. Believer (mu’min) will acknowledge the basis of faith, which he learns from books or religious authorities70. This has been determined in the Qur’an as follows “Only those wish to hasten it who believe not in it: those who believe hold it in awe, and know that it is the Truth. Behold, verily those that dispute concerning the Hour are far astray” (Q. 42:18). In terms of Kalām knowledge, to become a believer, is not enough to know only the basis of faith in religion. A person must consider them important. Just gaining knowledge like western student of Islam is not enough in Islam, having this knowledge does not mean that a person possesses the cognitive form of faith seen in believers.
A person, who has a certain faith and attitude when encountering opposite attitudes he turns away from it. While he is successful in this withdrawal attitude, he will not understand the contrary things and his belief and attitudes will be protected, and will be ensured71. In the Qur’an it has been said: “Say: "Everyone acts according to his own disposition: But your Lord knows best who it is that is best guided on the Way" (Q. 17:84). It is possible to say that the character here is a cognitive form, which has shaped the personality with advantages72.
For example, a person who is opponent of a religious sect does not attend meetings held by members of that sect or does not read articles supporting their doctrine73. With the expression of Qur’an “The unbelievers say: "Listen not to this Qur’an, but talk at random in the midst of its (reading), that ye may gain the upper hand!" (Q. 49:26) by talking with these expressions they wanted do prevent it from being read.
According to the news of Qur’an, the non-believers say: “They say: "Our hearts are under veils, (concealed) from that to which thou dost invite us, and in our ears in a deafness, and between us and thee is a screen: so do thou (what thou wilt); for us, we shall do (what we will!)" (Q. 49:5) in these above expressions there is a rebellious psychological nature. Besides trying to understand they do not even want to listen to. Whereas, to understand something, it is necessary to request it. As a matter of fact, the Qur’an emphasizes this matter as follows: “But people have cut off their affair (of unity), between them, into sects: each party rejoices in that which is with itself” (Q. 23:53).
This attitude shows that a person’s needs during formation of faith, his mental set and mood are effectives in the selections of comprehension74.
Initially, a person cannot understand every event in his surroundings, he selects only appropriate ones among many objects and then he gets it. The perception of the world occurs beyond the senses of physical body depending on the society. People only listen to and read propagations of their own ideology and doctrines, or obey only leaders of their religious groups, societies. We support our world perspectives and insist that these opinions are correct75.
The same object with individuals having different mental sets shall be commented on a different way by selective sensitisation method this is because of the mental set. This is why, a person’s expectations, previous experiences and acceptances puts forward different connections in producing new perceptions76.
The mental structure of mankind has been expressed by the following Qur’anic verse: “God disdains not to use the similitude of things, lowest as well as highest. Those who believe know that it is truth from their Lord; but those who reject faith say: "What means God by this similitude?" By it He causes many to stray, and many He leads into the right path; but He causes not to stray, except those who forsake (the path),” (Q. 2:26). The above-mentioned verse points out to the difference between understanding and comprehension of believers and non-believers. Similarly, while increasing one’s perversion, it motivates the other to the way of Islam.
Another Qur’anic verse appropriate to this is given below: “Say: "Behold all that is in the heavens and on earth"; but neither Signs nor Warners profit those who believe not” (Q, 10:101). Verses mentioned are proof of existence of God and principles of faith; these are messages for wise and intelligent people. As a mentioned above, non-believers never use their intelligence77. Because “If thou callest them to guidance, they hear not. Thou wilt see them looking at thee, but they see not” (Q. 7:198). Again in the Qur’an evidences are put forward for believers “Therefore fear God, O ye men of understanding -who have believed!- for God hath indeed sent down to you a Message” (Q. 65:10); those believers who are granted with right path “Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom God has guided” (Q. 39:18), these are messages for wish people78 “(Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise.” (Q. 2:164)79.
Every individual accepts his own cultural and social values accordingly his behaviours as something logical or at least he believers in it80. The mind settled within faith is not an objective mind, it is a subjective mind, which protects and supports faith and serves for it. A faith, which looks like something illogical, is logical for the individual who has this faith81. This is why Qur’an accuses non-believers of being foolish, this means that they reduce their minds certain fields.
This explanation reminds the claim of D.Z. Philips, one of the followers of Neo-Wittgensteinian, who thinks that there is a rationality internal to the religion. Although we agree with Philips claim of internal rationality in religion, we do not accept their rejection of looking for external evidence for it. We sincerely believe that external evidences can contribute greatly to the formation of faith.82. Confirming such opinion is impossible in terms of the Qur’an. Because the Qur’an commands the believer to look at the earth and the heavens after then think wisely in remembrance of God (Q. 77:17-20).
This is why scholars who are members of Māturidī and Mu’tazilite sects oppose the Ash’arites and support the idea that if a person is not one who is addressed by the revelation, his mind is enough to discover God and an individual who has no chance to be illuminated by revelation. According to their opinion intellect is responsible for believing in God83. The Qur’an gave the example of prophet Abraham as evidence of discovering God by using the intellect. Again the Qur’an emphasized the importance of using the mind in various verses and it has been said that by using the mind an individual will be delivered from eternal hell fire84.
Besides this, the ontologic evidence in philosophy on the idea of the most true and effective concept of God in the human mind puts forward existence of Allah. This way of proof was first expressed by St. Anselm (1033-1109), later it was applied by Descartes (1596-1650), Spinoza (1632-1677) and Leibniz (1646-1716).
Because the matter of faith is a complex form, to support the idea that īmān (faith) is only a matter of intelligence and ideas; means to put it in the limitation of narrow blocks. This is why the mental process of faith while being a part of every educated person's religious belief, still it should not be ignored that it is only a simple part85.
Faith is consisting of strong emotions, but emotions are not the source of faith. With it's content it is subjective, so it is certain in it's focus, and therefore it claims truth, consequently, it demands submission. It has a tendency towards the one and only absolute, therefore it claims truth and commitment, it is directed toward the unconditional, and appears in a concrete reality that demands and justifies such commitment.
It is known that the cognitive form of īmān (faith) has complex features. In this regard it has a kind of mosaic nature. Ability and earnings made up the mosaic formation. Both categories (ability-earnings) have a special importance in existence and formation of faith86. Īmān is rejoicing feeling, consists of rational conscious, has a cognitive form of confirmation featured with a total acceptance and submission87. According to St. Thomas, in classical Roman Catholic theology "will to believe" is not an act which originates in man's striving, but it is given by grace to whose will is moved by God to accept the truth of what the church teaches. This kind of interpretation agrees with the authoritarian attitude of the Roman Church88.
No command to believe and no will to believe can create īmān (faith). In this respect, the arguments of faith cannot form īmān89. This is explained as; one demands “obedience of faith”, the term can mean the element of commitment, which is implied in the state of ultimate concern. Our oscillating will cannot produce the certainty, which belongs to faith.
“Commitment to the traditions of ancestors” emphasized in the Qur’anic verses and hadiths, and “attending groups of the same religion”, “influence of family motivating the child’s faith”, “being careful in selecting friends” such explanations make clear that within the beginning of formation of faith, the exterior factors have initial effects. Deeds and thinking in remembrance of God (tadhakkur) which appears after acquiring faith, presents us the emotion, nature and will factors. The concept of increasing of faith, become conscious in faith and exception in faith according to Islamic theology (Kalām) shows considerable differences. In the Qur’an following verse “O ye who believe! Believe in God and His Apostle, and the Scripture which He hath sent to His Apostle and the Scripture which He sent to those before (him)” (Q. 4:136) addressed to the emotions of believers (mu’mins) through the will dimension.
In this regard, a person who has a tendency towards religious belief and faith in God having faith (īmān) a godsend gift –this will is called natural will- is a result of his surrounding. According to Teftazānī, faith is a divine light granted by Allah who “motivates his slave’s will”. After his stage, emotion and will interferes and directs the structure and dimension of faith. This is why there are conscious (muhaqqiq) religious and faithful people among Moslems, as well as Christians, Jews and Buddhists.
With rejoicing and emotions and perfect will these people within enthusiasm of their faith they form mental and physical state by using them to enrich their cognitive structure of faith. A hadith “The ones who were good in the era of ignorance (Jahiliyyah), are good also in the Islamic era”90, expresses good quality of the individuals.
For example, the attitude, which Ghazālī puts forward for this religion of Islam, can be found also in the ones that arise from other religions. This is why whichever position Ghazālī has among Moslems, Thomas has the same position among Christians. The Qur’an makes it clear with the following verse: “But people have cut off their affair (of unity), between them, into sects: each party rejoices in that which is with itself” (XXIII, 53)”.
In this respect, when Ghazālī as a Kalām scholar, explains about his life story, he says that he wants to be free from traditional belief (taqlīd) that has been taught to him by his mother-father and teachers, and expresses this as a result of a natural habit, a godsend blessing. Again he emphasises that his striving is not a result of his will. Finally, -with his words- he recedes from “traditional belief” that has been given to him by his mother-father and teacher.
Ghazālī, made a research on which of the knowledge he obtained “haqq” (righteous), and which of them was “batil” (perverted). The answer of it is that he obtained faith which he defined as a knowledge does not bring any doubt of a matter, a position of perfect faith91.
Besides this, we can comment about this topic with the prophet’s hadith “Jewishs have separated by seventy, also Christians by seventy one, my followers will be separated into seventy three sects. Just one of them will go to the heaven”92. Moslems, Christians and Jews groups separated into different sects, there are believers who are on safe ground and they have degree of yaqin (absolute knowledge) information of faith. Their number is very little. In this context, a lot of the Qur’anic verses, which starts with “most people”, ends in a negative way93.
Ash’arī and Māturidī representatives of the Ahl al-Sunnah (main stream orthodoxy) sect do not give excuse for those who have taqlidī īmān (imitated) because they aim to raise up informed and conscious believers.
In the cognitive structure of disbelief and faith when effects of physical and spiritual elements of moral are considered, universal dimension of faith becomes meaningful94. The Qur’an says: "Say: "True guidance is the Guidance of God: (Fear ye) lest a revelation be sent to someone (else)”, “Say: "All bounties are in the hand of God: He granteth them to whom He pleaseth: And God careth for all, and He knoweth all things" (III, 73).
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