As anyone who has done A-level (google the term if you’re not from England) Maths – and I appreciate that probably means about 0.001% of the people reading this – can tell you, when you’re stuck for a formula or on how to proceed go back to first principles. The axioms are the bedrock upon which all mathematical knowledge is built and should a proof contradict one then it isn’t mathematically sound and can be dismissed without further consideration.
Islam means submission in Arabic. It derives from the same tri-consonantal root that gives us the word Salaam or peace, with the two derivations being of course linked. True peace proceeds from submission i.e. the voluntary surrender of one’s own will to the will of the Almighty. The question a Muslim should constantly be asking is “What would Allah have me do?” Not “What feels good and proper to me?” For what feels good or what might seem sound on the basis of our limited intellect, often isn’t what Allah commanded.
In the Qur’an we read the incident of the fall of Iblis (Satan) and how it came about due to his refusal to comply with a direct command from his Lord to prostrate to Adam (peace be upon him). Whilst the angels obeyed without hesitation (as is their nature because they lack free will) Iblis remained upright. When questioned why, he responded that he didn’t think it befitting for one made of a superior substance (smokeless fire) to give obeisance to one composed of inferior matter (clay). One could contend that Iblis’ argument was perfectly rational yet because of it he earned himself the eternal curse of his Lord and eviction from the Divine Presence.
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ أَبَىٰ وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ
And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblis. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers. [TMQ 2:34]
The duty of a believer is to hear and obey – regardless of whether he or she can comprehend the wisdom behind the divine instructions. Islam is what Allah and His Messenger have commanded not what we (often as a result of societal conditioning) deem correct.
وَاِنۡ تُطِعۡ اَكۡثَرَ مَنۡ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ يُضِلُّوۡكَ عَنۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِؕ اِنۡ يَّتَّبِعُوۡنَ اِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَاِنۡ هُمۡ اِلَّا يَخۡرُصُوۡنَ
And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah’s Path. They follow nothing but conjectures, and they do nothing but lie. [TMQ 6:116]