A Fils for Your Thoughts

July 27, 2008

Listening to Your Emotions

Filed under: Knowledge,Personal Development,Philosophy — Haider @ 3:56 pm

To completely rely on your reasoning does not mean that you must ignore the signals your emotions provide. There are two important ways in which your emotions can support your reasoning (there is a third way, in the form of intuition, which I will leave for a separate post):

1- What your emotions say about you: To better appreciate the role your emotions play in your life, consider how you respond to your pain sensors, and what function they serve in the first place: pain is a signal that lets you know that your body is exposed to something that is harmful to it. If the harm is (potentially) great, and the pain is severe, your body won’t even wait for a response from your brain, but will respond with a reflex to jerk the body away from what’s harming it.

The same applies to feelings of hunger, for example, which let you know that your body is in need of food, or particular nutrients. If you choose to ignore your hunger, you would be dismissing an important message about your body.

The same applies to other feelings, such as fear, depression, joy, etc. They reveal to you your own values, and what you need to adjust or work on in your life.

2- What your emotions say about your beliefs: When you hold a belief that is inconsistent with the reality you are observing, your emotions will register the conflict, and you will feel uneasy, frustrated, angry, etc. Therefore, your emotions are important when considering the validity of your beliefs: why are you having these feelings? What are the issues you have not yet resolved in your beliefs? Where do the contradictions lie in the beliefs you hold, or the inconsistencies between what you have accepted to be true, and the inputs you are receiving from your senses?

Your emotions are not random sensations about a distant dimension. They reveal to you the consequences of your beliefs on your life, and they are an essential element for a better understanding of your body and your mental state. In the same way that a rational individual would take into account external factors to understand external phenomena, he needs to be attentive to internal signals to better understand his internal reality.

July 26, 2008

Understanding Islam: Is Islam a Divine Religion?

Filed under: Understanding Islam — Haider @ 11:58 pm

I have already stated that, in order to understand Islam correctly, we must take into account the meaning God intended to convey to mankind, and the message brought by Prophet Muhammad as he understood it, and not as the Muslims understood it.

Our intention is to bridge the gap between the Muslims’ (and the non-Muslims’) understanding of Islam and the meaning God wants us to understand.

However, does this mean that we must begin with the assumption that Islam is a divine religion, and that God has conveyed it to Prophet Muhammad? What if someone, say a Christian, for example, doesn’t wish to base his understanding of Islam on such an assumption, but rather begins with the premise that Prophet Muhammad pretended to be a messenger to exercise (divine) authority over the Arabs. Can this serve as a starting point for the understanding of Islam?

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no.

Allow me to explain:

When you wish to understand the teachings of an individual, the validity of the teachings is besides the point. What you are trying to understand is how the individual himself understood his teachings, and what he was trying to convey.

We cannot say: Islam is what the Muslims believe, when what the Muslims believe conflicts with the understanding the founder of the religion had of the religion.

Similarly, you do not need to prove God’s existence in order to determine what God intends to convey through Islam. To understand Islam, you must form an understanding of what kind of deity is being presented in its teachings. Is the God of Islam a just God or an unjust God? If He is just, then we must interpret Islam’s teachings from that perspective (i.e. Islam cannot promote injustice, because the God of Islam is a just God).

Therefore, we need to form an understanding of what the attributes of the God of Islam are, so we can interpret Islam in a way consistent with His attributes. I will prove the validity of this approach further during our discussion of what the valid criteria for interpretation are.

To sum up, Islam is:

– The message God (i.e. the God of Islam) wants to convey to mankind

– The religion as Prophet Muhammad understood it

Our role is to determine what that message is and how it is to be understood correctly.

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