Is Aql subservient to Naql?

What is the status of Aql (mind) in Islam? Is it true that Ahl-us-Sunna wal-Jamaa`a (People of the Sunna and consensus) believe that Aql is subservient to Naql (narrations)?

We know the validity and authenticity of any narration by way of the mind! Therefore, `Aql (the mind) is superior to Naql (narrations), not the other way around.

The reason we know that the Quran is God’s word is because we’ve read it and came to the unshakable conclusion that it is the truth. The Quran made its case for being holy scripture by invoking our minds, as well as our hearts, and inviting us repeatedly to think, contemplate and reason. Thus, the Quran makes it clear that the mind is one of the two ways we can find the truth. The other being the heart. Both are required.

With that established, we can now feel comfortable accepting matters of the Beyond that are hinted at in the Quran. Because we trust the Source of information, we can trust everything He says, even if our minds cannot grasp it. That is the point where Ahl-us-Sunna wal-Jamaa`a mean when they say that `Aql is subservient to Naql: they mean authenticated Naql.

This is a key differentiator of Islam. Belief in Islam is not blind and is not without questioning. Faith in Islam is educated. It is only after you have become convinced in your heart and in your mind that the Quran is the whole truth about God, then you believe in Islam. And the Quran emphasizes that each of us can tell if it is the truth or not!

As for narrations, such as the Hadeeth, they have been evaluated by scholars on two fronts: Sanad (attribution chain) and Matn (content). A narration that passes authenticity tests of both fronts may be declared authentic and only then does it become part of the religion.

The question “Is `Aql subservient to Naql” has two problems: (a) It does not define what is meant by either term, and (b) It is what is called in logic a false dilemma. It makes an assumption that has not been established as fact, namely, that one of the two is superior and the other is inferior. A third option, which is the case actually, is that both are equally important.

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