Understanding the Theme of Proofs in Quran

A Thematic Interpretation of the Quran - 7

The major theme of the Quran that we are going to talk about now is not a usual theme that people address. I thought though it is important to introduce so that we are aware of that theme of the Quran and internalize it, think about it, and study it further obviously. It’s the theme of proofs (hujaj or baraheen).

How does the Quran prove something?

What is the logic?

What is the reasoning methodology of the Quran?

This is very important because often times we lack this kind of thinking; and we often times follow reasoning methodologies that are false, or what we call “logical fallacies”.

The Quran also addresses a number of those and is telling us what is a logical fallacy versus what is the sound and proper reasoning.

It is very important because the lack of reasoning and the lack of the reference to the logic of the Quran causes intellectual problems sometimes. Intellectual problems are not just philosophical; they have an impact on how people think and, therefore, how people act and react to what they see.

How to establish truth?

What kind of reasoning do you follow?

Usually, we follow the causal reasoning (or “al-asbab” in the Quran). The reason or cause is something that impacts reality and causes reality to change. Allah tells us a lot about that in the Quran: how the water He sent so that the plants could happen:

… and We produce thereby the growth of all things. (Quran 6:99)

Some Muslim philosophers thought that causality does not exist and that it is Allah who brings forth everything, and causes are separate from impacts. This is a kind of philosophical theory that is not really supported by the Quran because the Quran says:

“With it, We bring forth plantation”. And fire does cause burning.

The Quran though balances the causality thinking with teleological thinking, the teleology logic, or the purposefulness. So there is nothing in the Quran that Allah is telling us is a reason for something unless He tells us the purpose of that reason.

Allah sent the water so that plantations could grow so that you could have benefits, and so that you could thank Allah, so that you might remember the sequence of events that brought you to where you are and so forth.

So, reality in the Quran is logically driven by two forces:

1- The force of causes from the past

2- The force of purpose in the future.

Obviously, people who are busy with logical philosophy debate teleology versus causality, and now of course, the status quo today is causality in science and so forth. But if we think about the universal laws, and these are purposes, they are ends; these major laws that Allah created the universe with are also ends that the universe is pushed towards.

Multidimensionality vs. Linear Thinking

In the logic of the Quran, Allah is teaching us what we call in today’s logical language “multidimensionality of logic”. Logic is not just linear cause and effect, but there are multiple causes and multiple effects.

This multidimensionality is very important when you look at anything. Allah is telling us about the historical events, for example, not just in a cause and effect manner, but the different dimensions of the historical event, the different dimensions of the natural events so that when we look at an event, we analyze it comprehensively and we don’t think linearly.

The linear thinking is a very simplistic thinking that yes you can read in the Quran, but the reflection about the logic of the Quran would show you the multidimensionality we’re talking about.

The Quran, through multidimensionality balances those contradictions that philosophers always argue between universality and particularism, between causality and teleology, between all of these contradictory views and interpretations of the logical structure of the universe that the Quran beautifully integrates all in a holistic and integrative approach.

Networks vs. Lines

The logical relationships in the Quran are networks rather than lines. Every meaning, every story, every personality, every event in nature or socially is connected to a network of events and a network of meanings.

The structure of the logical framework of the Quran is really a network structure. Perhaps this is impacted by how networks are very powerful in today’s logical structures. This view of mine doesn’t come from nowhere, it comes from a background of science and philosophy and so forth.

The networks relations in the Quran are very important. This is very important so that we sophisticate our interpretation a little bit. It is not just one verse or a half a verse, or this word or that word that will bring that rule or that understanding; it’s actually all the verses that are related.

And if you reflect deeply, you’ll find that all the Quran is related to any question that you mention because of this web of meanings that are connected and interconnected. It’s very important in the logical framework of reasoning.

Logical Fallacies

The Quran also teaches us about the logical fallacies so that we avoid them in our lives and that we understand them when we see them. They are usually taught through the

stories of the tyrants in human history and how they used these fallacies for power and for authority that they claim falsely based on the false logic or the false claims.

A false causality, for example, when the Pharaoh accused Moses (peace be upon him) of being the reason behind all the calamities that had befallen them. But the calamities had befallen them because of their injustice, and because of killing innocent children, and because of the corruption on earth that Allah told us about.

It’s not because of Moses. Moses came to change that reality, but they do this false causality fallacy.

Personal Attacks

The Pharaoh told Moses, “You don’t even speak in our accent, you can’t even speak well like the others.”

That is a personal attack through which the Pharaoh tried to establish a certain logic, a certain authority, therefore your message is not true, or therefore you’re a liar… But this is not a proper reasoning because personal attacks do not change the true arguments.

Fame of Ideas

It is a fallacy that the Quran tells us in many contexts in which people say, “because our forefathers didn’t believe in that, then it’s false”. Or “because most people didn’t believe in it and don’t see it this way, then it is false.”

Allah is telling us that most people do not believe, most people are not true in faith, and most people will lead you astray if you follow them… Therefore, the majority here is a good idea perhaps in politics to make some choice of leadership without conflicts in the society.

But the truth is not a democratic practice. Truth is according to argument and the logic of the argument. And the logic of the argument has to be true and has to be coming out of faith in the core of it so that it’s true, and not in the fame of ideas kind of the logic of how many likes, and how many views…

Unfortunately, social media has caused us a lot of support for the fallacy of the fame of ideas; but the fame of ideas is not a proof in terms of the logical truth in the Quran.

Power of Authority

This is another fallacy that people because of the authority places they have, they claim that what they speak is truth. But truth could come from people who have no authority, people who have no wealth… but they bring truth because they have a logical argument that is based on truth.

And the core of all truths is Allah, and the arguments that He made in the Quran are the true arguments upon which we should evaluate other arguments, otherwise we are talking about fallacies.

We ask Allah to guide us and to forgive us.

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About Dr. Jasser Auda
Jasser Auda is a Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, a global think tank based in London, and a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Canada. He is a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Fellow of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, and General Secretary of Yaqazat Feker, a popular youth organization in Egypt. He has a PhD in the philosophy of Islamic law from University of Wales in the UK, and a PhD in systems analysis from University of Waterloo in Canada. Early in his life, he memorized the Quran and studied Fiqh, Usul and Hadith in the halaqas of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He previously worked as: Founding Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London; Founding Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Ethics in Doha; professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Alexandria University in Egypt, Islamic University of Novi Pazar in Sanjaq, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. He lectured and trained on Islam, its law, spirituality and ethics in dozens of other universities and organizations around the world. He wrote 25 books in Arabic and English, some of which were translated to 25 languages.