Monday, 4 January 2016

Dawkins criticism of winged horses makes sense

Richard Dawkins is not far from being the cause of controversies labelling him an ‘Islamophobe.’ Recently he stormed out of an interview when a Muslim journalist confirmed he personally believed that the Prophet flew to heaven on a winged horse. In response Dawkins told the New Statesman journalist Emad Ahmad that his ‘belief’ was pathetic before angrily storming off.

While Ahmad went on to explain his shock at the reaction of the scientist to the media, Dawkins took to Twitter to defend his actions. Though much of what happened occurred due to PR mismanagement, Dawkins made it known that his comments about the belief on Mohammad were meant to deflate the concept that there is any logic into believing he travelled on a winged horse to heaven.

For the critics of Dawkins, the whole incident is evidence of his condemnation for everything that Islam stands for. The belief in the winged horse story is central to the Islamic tenets upholding Mohammad’s legitimate status as a Prophet of God. The widespread plausible argument can be gathered from the opinions of Al-Jazeera’s journalist Mehdi Hasan who interviewed Dawkins at the Oxford Union in 2012 and expressed his absolute belief in winged horses.

The interview which can be watched on Youtube is good piece of evidence how religion can down play logic. While Dawkins made an effort to be mild and polite in reasoning against the fallacy of religious supremacy, his argument was pitted against well-researched, data ridden, factually sound reasoning by Mahdi Hasan who made a case to convince that religion is essentially good and makes no appeal to people wanting to commit acts of extremism.

Who can argue against the charitable Mother Teresa and believe that the Communist regimes who did away with religion were trying to uplift humanity! It is easy to defend religion and agree it does well for mankind in the face of the obvious evidence that atheist scholars and scientists who never go along with what the masses say are always outnumbered against God-fearing people. For that matter Muslims know about Ibn Hanbal, Imam Shafi, Al-Ghazali and of their endeavours to establish the primacy of orthodox belief that the revealed truth should be accepted without questioning.

Against such illustrious men the teachings of the 8th century Mutazilite school of theology, established in Baghdad, is almost certainly lost. The greatest contribution of the men who formed this school of thought included their reasoning that revelations are limited by time and Quranic injunctions can be modified according to the changing circumstances. Their belief in rational freedom and Quran as created word gained acknowledgement during the middle of the ninth century. But as the authority of the Ulema became absolute in establishing that man cannot attain knowledge of God through reason and so he must follow revelation unquestionably, then reason became subordinate to revelation. Rationalism in religion for which the Mutazillites stood culminated after conformism of the orthodox theologians and the Sunni Ulemas triumphed. Persecution and rigid conservatism of voices disliking reasoning and research silenced liberal tolerance of the Mutazillites and to this day no fresh thought or movement have managed to free the Muslims from intellectual decline.

The defence for Islamic teachings is now an apologetic defence or justification with no originality to appeal intellect and mind that can unhinge the Muslims from rigid conservatism.

Hopefully in this day and age, when man has superseded all barriers against logic and reasoning, the blind belief in winged horses will not triumph.

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