An approach to the Understanding of Islam


The First Night's Lecture

MY LECTURE is about the various approaches one can use to come to know Islam. It is an important scientific concept to review multiple approaches to the understanding of something in order to arrive at a particular methodology, which in our case is to come to understand Islam.

Arriving at a methodology in approaching a problem is a significant aspect of the scientific method. Having a correct method in order to discover the truth of an issue is more important than having a philosophy, a science or being talented.

We know that Europe was stagnant for a thousand years during the Middle Ages. Yet, right after this period of stagnancy, it developed a revolutionary momentum in the areas of science, art and literature, that is, all human and social areas. And, after a while, this movement, this revolution of minds became the foundation of today's civilization and world culture. Now we must stop and ask ourselves how it is that Europe, which was stagnant for a thousand years, in a matter of two or three centuries, suddenly changed its direction and discovered a truth?

This is a very important question and, perhaps, it is the most difficult question which science has to answer.

On the one hand, there are undoubtedly many different factors which caused the stagnation of Europe in the Middle Ages and on the other hand, there are various factors which suddenly awakened the drowsy Europe and led it towards movement and a dynamic development.

As to this point, I must remind you that the essential factor which caused the stagnation of the European mind, civilization and culture during the thousand years of the Middle Ages, was the use of the analogical method of Aristotle. When this way of looking at things and problems changed, science, the world and society also changed and human life along with them. Here we are speaking about culture, thought and scientific development.

This is why we see the change in approach as being the main factor in this movement. It is also true that the cause of the change according to the sociological point of view, is the movement from feudalism to the bourgeoisie system and that in itself was known to have opened the well-guarded walls between the Islamic East and the Christian West, in particular, through the Crusades. An approach is most sensitive whether it relates to development or decline. It is not individual genius in appraising a problem that causes stagnation, apathy or motion and development, but rather, the methodology used is important. In the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., great geniuses existed who are not comparable with the geniuses of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries A.D. There is no doubt that Aristotle is more of a genius than Francis Bacon and that Plato is more of a genius than Roger Bacon. But, how is it that persons, who are at a lower level of genius than men like Aristotle, have laid the foundations for the development of science, whereas those great geniuses themselves have caused the thousand years of stagnancy in the Middle Ages? How is it that a genius causes stagnation in the world, whereas an average person brings about the development of science and awareness in people?

The reason is that the second type has found the right way of thinking and methodology. In this way, an average mind can also find the truth, but a great genius, who does not know the right way of attending to problems, and the correct method of thinking, cannot use his genius effectively.

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