Following the Kurban Bayram hutba delivered by Reisu-l-ulema Dr. Mustafa ef. Ceric, Oslobodjenje voiced a commentary which saw a problem in Reisâ€™s thesis that â€œthere is no morality without faithâ€, and advised that it would open the door to philosophers and theologians to write about that as some readers of Oslobodjenje who themselves are atheists felt unease with Reisâ€™s thesis. Under the title of â€œAtheism and immorality can not be synonymsâ€, dated December 25, 2007 and â€œMind binds believers and non-believersâ€, dated December 26, 2007, Prof. Dr. Asim Mujkic, Chair in the subjects of Ethics of Politics and Introduction to Philosophy, responded. Reisu-l-ulema Dr. Mustafa Ceric expressed his satisfaction that Oslobodjenje noticed the message in the Kurban Bayram hutba and that some found a reason within it to think about questions of morality in our society. This text by Reisu-l-ulema Dr. Mustafa Ceric ought to be understood as a contribution to discussing morality and not as arguing with others. It is good that we have the freedom of thought and expression even when we do not see eye to eye or share our beliefs. It is important that we can learn from one another. MINA presents Reisu-l-ulemaâ€™s text, published in Oslobodjenje, in its entirety.
Dr. Mustafa Ceric, reisu-l-ulema /The Grand Mufti of Bosnia/
Faith and atheism
As life, faith is Godâ€™s gift to man. Actually, faith is the most precious gift to man. All that man is, is in its essence permeated with faith such as ego which means that man, after all, â€œisâ€ as opposed that he â€œisnâ€™tâ€. From that is derived the notion of have faith and be a believer which is expressed with words having root in â€œfaithâ€ and â€œbelieverâ€ as the notion of not having and not being a believer is expressed using the negative prefix â€œnonâ€, i.e. â€œa-theismâ€ and â€œa-theistâ€. It is so because faith is the natural, and atheism unnatural, state of man. Faith is a matter of heart which â€œhas reasons that mind does not knowâ€ (Pascal). â€œThat, which I seek in a thinker is to face faith in the same mental state as a believer…He who does not include in his study of faith a kind of religious sentiment can not speak about faith. He is like a blind person who tries to speak in coloursâ€ (Emile Durkheim).
Religious intolerance is not a consequence of deep religiousness but the lack thereof. Those, who learn about their faith freely and gradually, are tolerant. Those, who are denied that right tend to, later on, when they discover their religious roots, to be intolerant. This observation can be applied to almost all of the post-communist societies which were based upon total, or partial, denial of religion as such.
Marxâ€™s â€œopium of atheismâ€ is an application of forcible suspension of the freedom of religion. The atheist movement in Europe is, also, responsible for the lack of the Durkheimâ€™s â€œreligious sentimentâ€, so that today we have generations who grew up with a notion that there is no God. Yet, many â€œsuddenlyâ€ discover that God, indeed, exists and that â€œreligions have basis and they express realityâ€ (Emile Durkheim). Accordingly, immorality as indifference toward God and morality is not possible.
Faith and thought
â€œEverything that a man does depends upon some kind of belief (faith). He speaks or works in a particular way as he thinks that such speech or work is better than otherâ€ (John Lukacs). Therefore, without faith, manâ€™s thought would be irrelevant. Every thought or thinking is presaged by faith or belief. That is the soul of man, the soul which our intellect does not know much about. â€œWe do not have too much of an intellect and too little soul, but too little intellect about the matters of soulâ€ (Pascal). Without insult (Descartes), doubt is resolved in direct certain faith: Credo, ergo sum â€œI believe, therefore I amâ€, and not in the indirect uncertain thought: Cogito, ergo sum â€œI think, therefore I amâ€. It is that faith, as Godâ€™s gift, is, truly, just as life is – direct certainty, whereas thought is indirect uncertainty or certainty dependent upon faith or belief from which thought emerges. So, homo crediens â€œman believerâ€ is before homo sapiens â€œthinking manâ€.
Every man is not capable of thinking of his ego, his human being, in a way done by wise philosophers, but every man is predestined to feel (believe) his humanity in a sense that he is different than animal. Every man is not on the path of thinking about faith in a way done by the schooled theologians, but every man has an innate gift of faith as a sense of dependence upon higher power, which rules the world. According to that gift of faith, or dependence upon higher power, all men are equal. Nuh/Noah (a.s.) constructed the ark not because he thought of the flood but because he had faith in the word of God. Musaa/Moses (a.s.) stood up against the pharaohâ€™s violence not because he thought about his power but because he had faith in Godâ€™s justice. Isaa/Jesus (a.s.) called for mercy not because he thought about love but because had faith that love is a power which captures human hearts. Muhammed (a.s.) relied on humble Bedouins not because he thought about their humility but because he had faith in the victory of truth and justice.
Faith and reasoning
The world is neither changed nor driven by rational thought but by free faith. â€œA rational man adjusts to the world, while an irrational man adjust the world to himself. Therefore, all progress is dependent upon irrational manâ€ (Bernard Shaw). So, a rational man adjusts to the conditions of the times – good or bad, whereas a man who has faith in a better world acts so as to change poor conditions into better ones.
â€œEnlightenment and secular lifeâ€ are not the two faces of a coin. Modern enlightenment did not occur as a consequence of â€œsecular lifeâ€, nor did the modern secular life become out of â€œenlightenmentâ€. Quite to the contrary, these two modern phenomena were created out of deep faith and true search for morality. Hence, neither enlightenment nor secular life exclude the experience of faith and religious life.
An erroneous claim that he who wants to be â€œenlightenedâ€ ought to free himself of faith has led us not only to be sloppy in interfaith understanding, but also to the crisis of intercultural communications. As well, erroneous interpretation of secular as God-less life created tensions in relations between religious and worldly.
Today we are at a most interesting junction in the exchange of religious and secular, rational and spiritual life, as we are aware that faith without reason can not fulfill its mission, nor can reasoning survive without faith. In the same way that the minds of secularism were perturbed with the inability of reasoning by theologians, so are the minds of religion today irritated by the moral disorder of the secularists. A new enlightenment is necessary – we truly need to enlighten the â€œEnlightenmentâ€ with the spirit of morality and honesty.
Faith and science
Although it is constantly repeated that science is the most reliable form of knowledge it is clear that science is based upon a system of belief. Entire science is based upon belief that nature is arranged in a rational, intelligible way. There is no scientist who thinks (believes) that universe is a senseless confusion of things heaped upon one another or next to one another by happenstance. When physicists wish to enter deeper into the sub-atomic structure, or when astronomers wish to see deeper into universe, they expect to find a perfect mathematical order. Rational basis for universe is best expressed in laws of physics as fundamental rules upon which nature is based. Laws of gravity and electromagnetism, laws regulating the world within an atom, laws of kinetics – all of that is expressed in perfect mathematical relations. But, where do those laws of physics originate from? Scientists say that their duty is not to explore the origins of laws but just to discover laws and apply them. Even though, a scientist must believe that universe is ruled by reliable, unchanging, absolute and universal mathematical laws. We must believe that the laws of physics are not going to break down, which means that we must believe that we are not going to wake up tomorrow into a situation that temperature changes from extreme cold to extreme heat, or that the speed of light changes from one hour to the next. If you ask physicists why the laws of physics are the way they are, they respond that it is not a scientific question, or simply say â€œ nobody knows thatâ€. But the most frequent response is: There is no reason why the laws of physics are the way they are – they are simply the way they are, period.
It is clear, therefore, that religion and science are based upon faith , and that is the belief that there exists something outside of the universe – Almighty God who established and who maintains the laws of physics. In that you can believe or not, yet it is independent of your faith or atheism. It is so since the idea of absolute laws of physics is, in essence, a theological one, the one adopted by Isaac Newton from the doctrine of monotheistic religions about God having created world and arranged it in a rational way, meaning, as established by Newton, that the universe is a machine the likes of clockwork (a clock mechanism), which is being maintained based upon principle of perfect and stable laws of physics.
Faith and morality
If, therefore, it is not possible to separate science from faith, or faith from science, then surely it is not possible to separate morality from faith, or faith from morality. The essence of faith is in morality just as morality is in the being of faith. â€œI was sent by God to establish human moralityâ€ (Muhammed, a.s.).
In fact, the principal way to state that a certain way of social life is different than another is its difference in the concept of morality. Therefore it is important to begin with the first and most important principle of morality, from which all other are derived, and that is the concept of Godâ€™s commandments and prohibitions, or reward and punishment. That is the concept by which God commands man to do this or that and prohibits him from dong so. Consequently, God rewards man for obedience and punishes him for disobedience. That, in essence, is the moral concept of all religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam. The faithful believe in Godâ€™s command and prohibition; the faithful believes in paradise and hell (Dzennet and Dzehennem).
No matter how hard they try, all moralists of the world can not avoid that concept of morality as they constantly go back to it, be it in order to test is endurance or to deny it so as to supplement it for their â€œmoral mindsâ€. Of course, for the minds such as Moses ben Maimonides, Thomas Dâ€™Aquino and Abdulhamid al-Ghazzali it was beyond being debatable that God was the first and last Judge. Their intellectual effort to prove that man is capable of individually reaching objective knowledge about good and evil speaks about their belief that there is neither human responsibility without freedom, nor human freedom without responsibility. That in the nature of man exists law of morality, which man can discover himself, does not exclude faith in God who determines or prescribes moral values in the form of commandment or prohibition, or reward and punishment. â€œIf it is so that we feel responsibility, that we are ashamed, frightened if we breach the voice of conscience, then it means that there is One we are accountable to, before who we are ashamed , from whom due to our sin we fear…and so the phenomena of conscience, as dictums, carry the vision of Supreme Ruler, Judge, who is perfect, just, almighty and who sees everything…â€ (Isaac Newton).
The other, Kantâ€™s, concept of morality, which is based upon rationalism and intuitiveness, remained between religious norms on one hand and worldly-subjective morality on the other. Kant sees moral principles as objectively valid suppositions which reason or intellect formulates and discovers independently of God, however, if one, in addition to that, believes in God, thatâ€™s even better. â€œThe greatest good – affirms Kant – is possible in the world only upon the supposition of Supreme Being which has causation that suits moral characterâ€, and that is God. As our duty is to promote the greatest good, then there exists â€œnecessity which is linked to duty as requirement to suppose that possibility of the summum bonum; and since that is only possible under the condition of Godâ€™s existence…(then) it is morally necessary to suppose Godâ€™s existenceâ€ (Immanuel Kant). So Kant believed and thought about moral proofs for Godâ€™s existence. That is, from the point of view of faith (or atheism) acceptable, as Kant does not grab morality away from faith but also does not allow faith monopoly over morality.
Only in this third concept of morality, by the English philosopher, and proponent of empiric and sensualistic approach, David Hume, do we have an attempt to grab morality away from faith, thinking (believing) that morality is in essence human and societal product and that concepts and principles of morality as well as practice thereof have developed by way of some processes of biological or social evolution, which have no relation to God or religion. According to Humeâ€™s thinking (belief) it is possible to have â€œmorality without faithâ€.
In fact, all atheistic moralists attempt to avoid Godâ€™s moral commandments so that they can establish their â€œimagined moralityâ€. They do not oppose that morality as a condition for sane human life but are troubled that principles of morality are derived from faith, that God is mentioned, that we speak of reward and punishment. They question: â€œIs something good because God commands it or God commands it because it is good?â€. For a believer it is a false dilemma as in the end everything returns to the beginning, as â€œAll paths lead to God, only some are falseâ€ (Qurâ€™an, 16:9). â€œThe old religious identity is rejected as â€˜irrationalâ€™ in exchange for new, â€˜normalâ€™ identity which had to be derived from liberal individualism or class. The dowry of Marxism has left memories of class identity with the idea of economic determinism which was supposed to erase the identity of individual freedom and, in the end, especially religion…From the 18th century, Europe has faced the dilemma…reasoning or identity. That, of course, is a false dilemma since it has been shown that the two do not exclude one another. In essence, call for reasoning ensures clarity in understanding action, consistency, responsibility, predictability and capability to test motives and place them where they belong. Identity, in contrast, offers individuals the safety of community and solidarity, joint forms of sense, and a connected world in which man lives and in which he can find those who are similar to himâ€ (George Schoepflin, The New Politics of Europe: Nations, Identity, Power).
So, there is no â€œmorality without faithâ€, just as there is no â€œfaith without moralityâ€. There is no justification for the Inquisition just as there is there is no justification for the death camps of the Nazi Germany, the gulags of Soviet Russia and Maoist China, which murdered Millions of people a lot more than in any previous century. Yet the number of those murdered is not that which is exceptional. It is about imagination that as result of those deaths a new, better world would emerge. The Inquisition tortured and murdered on a grand scale but did not imagine that by doing so it would make this world a better one. The difference between a church and atheist inquisition is in that the former promised redemption in the other world and the latter murdered â€œmorally unfitâ€ people, promising those who survive that their lives in this world would be better than ever before.
We need to change all our erroneous ways, we need to change and return to faith and morality as the safest cornerstones upon which we can build a better Bosnian society. Here, however, there is a difficulty, as Goethe wrote to Eckermann (1827), about professors who would not change their thinking even after having faced clear proofs: â€œWe should not be surprised – says Goethe – as such people remain within their errors as they owe it to them for their existence. In the contrary, they would have to learn everything from the beginning and that would be very inconvenient. But – I say (Eckermann) – how can their tests prove truth if the doctrine is false? They do not prove truth – says Goethe – nor is it their intention to do so; with these professors only one thing is clear, and that is that they prove to themselves their own imaginationâ€ (John Lukacs).