Let me just say that despite being born into a Muslim family and nurtured in a "Muslim" country, I have not been able to gather sufficient knowledge about Islam to be confident and sure about my faith.Let me also say that knowledge of Islam (including books) is a very rare commodity in this country (you must see this country).

Given that this is the background, I have tried to find a good book on Islam which answers my questions and have not found one yet (of course the Qur'an is there).My questions are:1. I have many friends who are atheists and agnostics and they are challenging my faith in the existence of God. I would like to ask whether the Muslim scholarship has been able to produce a coherent and comprehensive body of responses to such atheistic and agnostic criticism of theism? And if such a thing is there, where can I get it? (Some brothers in Islam prescribe the solution of "avoiding them" ("hiding" may be what they actually mean), but I do not think that avoiding falsehood is how the truth become victorious. In fact, I think, the Truth must be hurled against the Falsehood).2. Some brothers tell me that the human mind is not to be consulted in matters of faith, and others hold the opinion that it is necessary but insufficient as a guide, and still others maintain that it is necessary as well as sufficient as a guide. I would like to know the position of Islam on this point. Could you please give an elaborate account on this point?

Jasser Auda

Salam Ahmad,
Thank you for your important questions.
Concerning your first question, the following answers have dealt with the issues you mention.
Answering Atheists Concerning God
Does God Exist?
Rational Argument in the Qur'an
With regard to the second question, honestly, I find these brothers' opinion to be quite uneducated. Who said that in "Islam", the human mind is not to be consulted in "matters of faith"?
In fact, Allah defined the human mind in the Qur'an as the sole method of arriving to every article of the correct faith. We could quote hundreds of verses here to prove that, but I will include the following verses only; one example for different articles of faith:
Regarding the very existence of God:
*{Or do they deny the existence of God? Have they themselves been created without anything that might have caused their creation or were they, perchance, their own creators? And have they created the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they have no certainty.}* (At-Tur 52:35-36)
Regarding Allah's power to do anything, including Resurrection:
*{And now he argues about Us, and thinks of Us in terms of comparison, and is oblivious of how he himself was created! And so he says, ""Who could give life to bones that have crumbled to dust?" "He who brought them into being in the first instance will give them life once again, seeing that He has full knowledge of every act of creation.}* (Yasin 36: 78-79)
Regarding having no deity beside God in creation:
*{Never did God take unto Himself any offspring, nor has there ever been any deity side by side with Him: for, had there been any, lo! each deity would surely have stood apart from the others in whatever it had created, and they would surely have tried to overcome one another! Limitless in His glory is God, far above anything that men may devise by way of definition.}* (Al-Muminun 23: 91)
Regarding Jesus and Mary being humans:
*{The Christ, son of Mary, was but an apostle: all other apostles had passed away before him; and his mother was one who never deviated from the truth; and they both ate food like other mortals. Behold how clear We make these messages unto them: and then behold how perverted are their minds.}* (Al-Maidah 5:75)
And regarding the human nature of Jesus:
*{Verily, in the sight of God, the nature of Jesus is similar to the nature of Adam, whom He created out of dust and then said unto him, "Be" – and he is.}* (Aal-Imran 3: 59)
Regarding the Hereafter:
*{Do, then, they who deny the hereafter never reflect upon the camels, and observe how they are created? And at the sky, how it is raised aloft? And at the mountains, how firmly they are reared? And at the earth, how it is spread out? And so, O Prophet, exhort them; thy task is only to exhort: thou canst not compel them [to believe].}* (Al-Ghashiyah 88:17-22)
The above are but a few examples that are meant to show the general method of rational argument in the Qur'an about the articles of belief. Of course, there could be counter-arguments to these rational arguments. But, from the Qur'an as well, there are counter-arguments to such counter-arguments, and so on.
The point here is that the human mind and human reasoning is the first and foremost method that the Qur'an is using when it comes to matters of faith.
In Islam, there is nothing that says: Close your eyes and follow me. In fact, the very act of following others without personal knowledge and research is forbidden in Islam.
A Muslim has to ask in order to know and verify. There is no question that is forbidden in Islam. Even angels ask questions and expect answers:
*{And lo! Your Lord said unto the angels: "Behold, I am about to establish upon earth one who shall inherit it." They said: "Will You place on it one who will spread corruption thereon and shed blood -whereas it is we who extol Your limitless glory, and praise You, and hallow Your name?" God answered: "Verily, I know that which you do not know."}* (Al-Baqarah 2:30)
Look for the verses with the word `aql or "mind" (or its derivatives) in the Qur'an and you will find hundreds of examples. In surat Al-Baqarah, for example, you will find the following verses all talking about the human "mind" and "understanding": Verses 44, 73, 75, 76, 164, 170, 171, and 242.
Ibn Rushd and Intellectual Reasoning
Finally, and since you asked for an "elaborate account" on this matter, it might be appropriate here to quote the following long quotation from Ibn Rushd (Averroes).
Ibn Rushd is one of the great scholars and philosophers of Islam, who considered philosophy to be an Islamic obligation, based on the place that Islam gave to human mind and human reasoning.
He started his book, The Decisive Treatise, Determining the Nature of the Connection Between Religion and Philosophy, by saying:
The law makes philosophic studies obligatory.
If teleological study of the world is philosophy, and if the Law commands such a study, then the Law commands philosophy.
We say: If the activity of 'philosophy' is nothing more than study of existing beings and reflection on them as indications of the Artisan, i.e. inasmuch as they are products of art (for beings only indicate the Artisan through our knowledge of the art in them, and the more perfect this knowledge is, the more perfect the knowledge of the Artisan becomes)," and if the Law has encouraged and urged reflection on beings, then it is clear that what this name signifies is either obligatory or recommended by the Law.
The Law commands such a study.
That the Law summons to reflection on beings, and the pursuit of knowledge about them, by the intellect is clear from several verses of the Book of God, Blessed and Exalted, such as the saying of the Exalted, 'Reflect, you have vision:' this is textual authority for the obligation to use intellectual reasoning, or a combination of intellectual and legal reasoning. Another example is His saying, 'Have they not studied the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and whatever things God has created?': this is a text urging the study of the totality of beings. Again, God the Exalted has taught that one of those whom He singularly honored by this knowledge was Abraham, peace on him, for the Exalted said, 'So we made Abraham see the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, that he might be' [and so on to the end of the verse]. The Exalted also said, 'Do they not observe the camels, how they have been created, and the sky, how it has been raised up?', and He said, 'and they give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth', and so on in countless other verses.
This study must be conducted in the best manner, by demonstrative reasoning.
Since it has now been established that the Law has rendered obligatory the study of beings by the intellect, and reflection on them, and since reflection is nothing more than inference and drawing out of the unknown from the known, and since this is reasoning or at any rate done by reasoning, therefore we are under an obligation to carry on our study of beings by intellectual reason­ing. It is further evident that this manner of study, to which the Law summons and urges, is the most perfect kind of study using the most perfect kind of reasoning; and this is the kind called 'demonstration'.
To master this instrument the religious thinker must make a preliminary study of logic, just as the lawyer must study legal reasoning. This is no more heretical in the one case than in the other. And logic must be learned from the ancient masters, regardless of the fact that they were not Muslims.
The Law, then, has urged us to have demonstrative knowledge of God the Exalted and all the beings of His creation. But it is preferable and even necessary for anyone, who wants to understand God the Exalted and the other beings demonstratively, to have first understood the kinds of demonstration and their conditions [of validity], and in what respects demonstrative reasoning differs from dialectical, rhetorical and fallacious reasoning. But this is not possible unless he has previously learned what reasoning as such is, and how many kinds it has, and which of them are valid and which invalid. This in turn is not possible unless he has previously learned the parts of reasoning, of which it is composed, i.e. the premises and their kinds. Therefore he who believes in the Law, and obeys its command to study beings, ought prior to his study to gain a knowledge of these things, which have the same place in theoretical studies as instruments have in practical acti­vities.
For just as the lawyer infers from the Divine command to him to acquire knowledge of the legal categories that he is under obligation to know the various kinds of legal syllogisms, and which are valid and which invalid, in the same way he who would know [God] ought to infer from the command to study beings that he is under obligation to acquire a knowledge of intellectual reasoning and its kinds. Indeed it is more fitting for him to do so, for if the lawyer infers from the saying of the Exalted, 'Reflect, you who have vision', the obligation to acquire a knowledge of legal reasoning, how much more fitting and proper that he who would know God should infer from it the obligation to acquire a knowledge of intellectual reasoning!
It cannot be objected: 'This kind of study of intellectual reasoning is a heretical innovation since it did not exist among the first believers.' For the study of legal reasoning and its kinds is also something which has been discovered since the first believers, yet it is not considered to be a heretical innovation. So the objector should believe the same about the study of intellectual reasoning. (For this there is a reason, which it is not the place to mention here.) But most (masters) of this religion support intellectual reasoning, except a small group of gross literalists, who can be refuted by [sacred] texts.
Since it has now been established that there is an obligation of the Law to study intellectual reasoning and its kinds, just as there is an obligation to study legal reasoning, it is clear that, if none of our predecessors had formerly examined intellectual reasoning and its kinds, we should be obliged to undertake such an examination from the beginning, and that each succeeding scholar would have to seek help in that task from his predecessor in order that know­ledge of the subject might be completed. For it is difficult or impossible for one man to find out by himself and from the begin­ning all that he needs of that subject, as it is difficult for one man to discover all the knowledge that he needs of the kinds of legal reasoning; indeed this is even truer of knowledge of intellectual reasoning. (Ibn Rushd, The Decisive Treatise, Determining the Nature of the Connection Between Religion and Philosophy, trans. by G. F. Hourani)
I hope this answers your question.

Source: — Ask about Islam — Jasser Auda