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IslamQA: Have I ever doubted parts of Islam?

Salaam I hope you don't mind me asking this but have you ever had doubts about Islam or disagreed with certain aspects of it? How strong would you say your faith is.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The strength of one’s faith goes up and down daily. Personally I do not remember ever having strong doubts about God’s existence. But some things at times have caused doubt in my mind, such as why evil people are allowed to be powerful for so long if God is really in charge.

Merely to exist in this universe and experience it constantly presses God’s presence upon us. So for me it is impossible to doubt God’s existence, it would be like doubting the existence of the sun.

As for Islam, I have had a close relationship with the Quran for much of my life. The Quran defines the shape and color of Islam for me, everything outside of the Quran is secondary. So when preachers say absurd and illogical things (often based on weak hadith narrations), this has no effect on my love for Islam since those things are all outside the Quran.

People often take their Islam mostly from the preachers, their families and other Muslims, who sometimes say absurd and superstitious-sounding things and say these things are parts of Islam. Due to this some people conclude that Islam is an outdated and illogical religion. Their mistake is that they do not take the time to understand the Quran and do not appreciate its status within Islam. The Quran is Islam’s center and defines its program and philosophy. We must develop our understanding of Islam not from what other people say but from the Quran, making it the foundation (as Imam al-Ghazali does).

Whenever I read or hear something strange or unsettling that people say about Islam, my thinking is this: it is not in the Quran, so it is not worth worrying about. The Quran defines our program in life. We should never let anything outside of it affect our love for it and for God. Everything else in Islam (hadith narrations, biographical and other scholarly works) are merely tools meant to help us apply the Quranic program better in our lives. When these helper tools malfunction, that should have no effect on our love for the the Quran.

Some people unfortunately lose sight of the Quran in their obsession with the non-Quranic materials and this sometimes leads to corruptions of the Islamic message. They hear a hadith whose meaning is unacceptable to them and form this conclude that there is a problem with Islam when the problem might be only with that hadith.

There have certainly been things in the Quran that were problematic to me, for example the famous wife-beating verse (4:34). I read many interpretations and justifications for it but nothing satisfied me. I have had a similar experience with some other issues. As for the wife-beating verse, it wasn’t until this year that I finally found a satisfactory solution for it (as I discuss in the essay: A new approach to the Quran’s “Wife-Beating Verse” (al-Nisa 4:34)). Before that I also had a problem with the existence of evil and why God allowed certain things to happen, this essay discusses my solution to it.

However, even though some verses have troubled me, I was always too aware of the beauty, uniqueness and intelligence of the Quran to ever doubt the whole book. For this reason I kept the problematic verses in the back of my mind, constantly coming back to them and trying to find solutions for them until eventually God enabled me to find a solution (another problem was Islam and Darwinian evolution, which I solved here). The problematic issues were never important enough to overshadow the rest of the Quran, which has always been so beautiful and powerful to me that reading a few pages is all it takes to take away all doubts that it is truly from God.

As far as I am aware, there is nothing left in the Quran that gives me any trouble.

As for the hadith literature, that is a completely different story. But since I place the Quran above hadith, problems that arise from hadith are only secondary to me. Solving these problems is like the icing on the cake. The important issues, the Quranic ones, are solved for me.

And God knows best.
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