I didn’t think I’d be adding anymore to this blog, but of course life never stands still and I feel I ought to add a short epilogue to update those who have followed it.
As the title suggests I currently use the label Agnostic Muslim because it embraces both my doubts & faith. I hope that there is something more than this material existence of ours – but at the same time remaining incurably skeptical. I believe it is impossible to prove or disprove the existence of God but nevertheless I have faith and hope that there is something more… something greater… call it God if you will. I identify with Islam because it is the religious tradition I grew up in and am familiar and comfortable within. I believed in it and practised devoutly for my whole life. It shaped who I am for half a century & continues to be an important part of my life. It influences my behaviour, cultural habits, the way I think & perceive the world. I instinctively reference sayings from Qur’an & Sunna and find comfort in prayer & fasting. But I never suppress reason in favour of dogma. I readily pick and choose that which I find valid and of value and ignore that which I don’t. I also freely interpret the Qur’an as I see fit.
The reason I do this is because I do not feel one should be bound by the words of the Qur’an. Although I’m happy to believe Muhammad was inspired by God to utter its words, I believe this inspiration came through the mind and person of Muhammad and that it was he who interpreted this inspiration according to his time, culture and personality. He composed the words and phrased the sentences. As a result I believe that while the Qur’an contains a great deal of wisdom, it is inextricably tied to it’s context and environment and most important of all it is fallible not infallible! This means that while I find the Qur’an is a source of inspiration for me – I will subject to human reason and not allow reason to be subject to the Qur’an.
It has been 1400 years since Muhammad was inspired to compose the Qur’an and the world has changed. Circumstances have changed. Relationships between men and women have changed. Man himself has changed. I believe strongly that we must look at the Qur’an with a fresh set of eyes – one that recognises it’s “human” origin and one that applies our own ‘human’ reason in light of our present context and circumstances.
Here are a couple of recent articles that clarify some of my current thinking: