Many people allege that Muslims blindly follow what is said to them without thinking. Is this really true?!
In a book called, Islam in focus, Dr. Hammudah Abd al Ati writes:
True Muslims believe that faith is not complete when it is followed blindly or accepted unquestioningly unless the believer is reasonably satisfied. If faith is to inspire action, and if faith and action are to lead to salvation, then faith must be founded on unshakeable conviction without any deception or compulsion.In other words, the person who calls himself a Muslim because of his family traditions, or accepts Islam under correction or by blind imitation is not a complete Muslim in the sight of God.
A Muslim must build his faith on well-grounded convictions beyond any reasonable doubt and above certainty. If he is not certain about his faith, he is invited by God to search in the open book of nature, to use his reasoning powers, and to reflect on the teachings of the Qur’an. He must search for the indisputable truth until he finds it, and he will certainly finds it, if he is capable and serious enough.
And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? (Qur’an 2:170)
This is why Islam demands sound convictions and opposes blind imitation. Every person who is duly qualified as a genuine and an earnest thinker is enjoined by Islam to employ his facilities to the fullest extent.
But if a person is unqualified or uncertain of himself, he should pursue his thinking only as far as his limits can take him. It will be quite in order for such a person to rely on any authentic sources of religion, which are sufficient in themselves, without applying to them any critical questioning of which he is incapable.
The point is that no one call himself a true Muslim unless his faith is based on strong convictions and freedom of choice, it cannot be forced upon any body, for God will not accept his forced faith. Nor will He consider it true Islam if it is not developed from within or originate from free and sound convections.
And because Islam ensures freedom of belief, many non-Muslim groups lived and still live in Muslim countries enjoying full freedom of belief and conscience. Muslims take this attitude because Islam forbids compulsion in religion. It is the light which must radiate from within, because freedom of choice is the cornerstone of responsibility.
This does not exempt the parents from responsibility for their children. Nor does it condone their being indifferent to the spiritual welfare of their dependants. In fact, they must do everything possible to help them build a strong, and inspiring faith.
To establish faith on sound grounds, there are various parallel avenues. There is the spiritual approach which is based mainly on the Qur’an and the Traditions of Muhammad, peace be upon him. There is also the rational approach which eventually leads to faith in the Supreme Being. This is not to say that the spiritual approach lacks sound rationality. Nor is the rational approach lacking in inspiring spirituality. Both approaches, in fact, they complement one another and may well come together in a lively interaction.
Now if someone is sufficiently equipped with sound rational qualities, one may resort to the rational approach or the spiritual approach or both, and may be confident that his/her conclusion will be right. But if one is incapable of profound inquiry or is uncertain of one’s reasoning powers, one may confine oneself to the spiritual approach and be contented with the knowledge he/she can derive from the authentic sources of religion.
The point is that whether one uses the spiritual approach or the rational technique or both, one will in the end come to faith in God. All these avenues are equally important and accepted by Islam, and when properly channeled, lead to the same end, namely faith in the Supreme Being:
O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much. There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book. By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darkness into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path. (Qur’an 5: 15-16)
May God, the Exalted, guide us all.