Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth

Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth

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Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth is a book written by Mirza Tahir Ahmad
Mirza Tahir Ahmad
Mirza Tahir Ahmad was Khalifatul Masih IV, Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and fourth successor to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad...

, the fourth Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the larger of two communities that arose from the Ahmadiyya movement founded in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian . The original movement split into two factions soon after the death of the founder...

. It was published in 1998, originally written in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, and subsequently translated into the Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 and Arabic. The book explores religious thought throughout different ages of human civilization. It is a comprehensive thesis on the phenomenon of Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

 in different faiths. It attempts to prove the existence of God through rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 instead of theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...



This book was a further development on a talk that Ahmad gave in Switzerland. In Zurich in 1987 Professor Karl Henking, Professor of Ethnology, University of Zurich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 invited Mirza Tahir Ahmad the fourth Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya
Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious revivalist movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century, originating with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad , who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies about the world reformer of the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as...

 Muslim Community to deliver a lecture on Ahmadiyya Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. On Thursday, the 14 June 1987 at 8.15 p.m., the proposed lecture was delivered under the title 'Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge, Eternal Truth'. The students, evidently intrigued by the title, thronged Oule (the great auditorium) which became filled to capacity so that additional arrangements had to be made in another hall with provisions for relaying the proceedings through television screens and loudspeakers.

Main themes

This is a very diverse and wide ranging book discussing such subjects as the concept of revelation in different religions, history of philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

, extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

, the future of life on earth, natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

 and its role in evolution. The main emphasis is on the ability of the Quran to correctly discuss all important events of the past, present and future from the beginning of the universe to its ultimate end.

Scope and impact of the book

The book is an argument for existence of God. In the author's own words:

To cut a long story short, we request the reader to realise that even if the creation of the universe and the subsequent evolution of life had actually started a trillion years ago, it could still be mathematically impossible for evolution to reach the stage of man.

The author has given arguments in support of evolution, which goes against the mainstream Islamic belief. Similarly, the argument that founders of Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, the Tao Faith
Dao or Tao is a Chinese word meaning 'way', 'path', 'route', or sometimes more loosely, 'doctrine' or 'principle'...

, Zoroastrism, and even Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 were Divinely guided prophets seems to perturb many Orthodox Muslim critics.

Tahir Ahmad also examines the atheist argument presented by Professor Richard Dawkins, in the chapter entitled The 'Blind Watchmaker' Who Is Also Deaf and Dumb. He argues that Dawkins has completely overlooked the complexity in biological structures and the undeniable purpose behind evolutionary changes. He writes:
It is exasperating to find Professor Dawkins pointing his finger at a mere principle, without a personal identity, to be the deity—a principle which is deaf, dumb and blind, and has no physical or spiritual existence. That most certainly is not the creator. If Professor Dawkins persists in denying the existence of any Creator, while he has no right to replace him with a principle, he once again has only two logical options. Either he should admit that creation exists, yet he has failed to identify the creator; or he should proclaim that there is no Creator yet the creation exists. This would be tantamount to saying that there is the book The Blind Watchmaker but there has never been a Professor Dawkins who penned it!

He also argued that Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 was a prophet of the ancients. The apparent prophetic qualities of Socrates are indeed a subject for debate. The constant reference to the oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 and how it performs the active function of a moral compass by preventing him from unseemly acts could easily be taken as a reference to - or substitute for revelation. Similarly, Socrates often refers to God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

in the singular as opposed to the plural.

External links