Islam and Dogmatism
What's Islam's attitude toward dogmatism?
If dogmatism means to accept or copy something blindly without leaving room for free thought and use of mental faculties, there is no dogmatism in Islam. Especially under the conception of religion that has developed in the West, knowing and believing are considered as different things. In Islam, however, they complement each other. The Qur'an insists that everyone use his or her mental faculties (e.g., thinking, reasoning, reflecting, pondering, criticizing, evaluating, etc.).
What about the Qur'anic verses that are decisive in canon law?
There are fixed, unchanging aspects of creation and life. As the "laws of nature" never change, as the essential aspects of humanity (e.g., its nature, basic needs, feelings, and so on) never change, a religion addressing humanity must have unchanging principles and perennial values. In addition, such moral standards as truthfulness, chastity, honesty, respect for elders (especially parents), compassion, love, and helpfulness are always universally accepted values. Likewise, refraining from alcohol, gambling, adultery and fornication, robbery, deception, and unjust ways of making a living are also universally accepted. Accepting and considering such standards and values while making laws is not dogmatism.
However, as in all other religion, Islam has experienced some dogmatist attitudes. For example, Zahirism began during the reign of Ali as a result of Kharijite extremism. They accepted verses with their external meaning only, and refused to considser such basic rules as abrogation, particularization, and generalization. In the beginning, it did not become a school of thought. However, people like Dawud al-Zahiri and Ibn al-Hazm established this as a system in Andalusia and published books on it. Later this school passed into the hands of some influential persons like Ibn al-Taymiyya, and influenced such scholars as Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Imam Dhahabi, and Ibn-i Kathir. It subsequently gave rise to Wahhabism. However, such people have always represented only a small minority. August 13-23, 1995
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