The Favour of the Intellect

Muslims, fear Allah in secret and in public, in difficulty and in ease and whoever fears Allah, He gives him a way out and provides him where he does not expect it. As you know, brothers and sisters, in the previous Khutba, we spoke of the favour of the tongue. Today, we will speak of the favour of the intellect (‘Aql العَقْلُ). The tongue will not speak righteous but with a complete and balanced intellect. The words of those who lack intellect are empty words, without meaning. Allah says in His Noble Book:

“We have honoured the sons of Adam and conveyed them on land and sea and provided them with good things and favoured them greatly over many We have created.” (Surat The Night Journey 17:70)

The intellect is one of the greatest favours of the Creator, Most High and Majestic, to His servants. And perhaps the most important after Islam. The intellect is the tool with which human beings distinguish and understand. 

Thanks to it, man differentiates between truth and falsehood, between good and evil, between what is recognized and what is indecent. With this favour, Allah has favoured man over the rest of creation. In Islam the intellect has a high place, it is the best gift given to man. Abdallah Ibn Al Mubarak, may Allah have mercy on him, was asked about the best that was given to man, he replied: “The natural instinct of the intellect.” Then he was asked: “What if he does not have it?” He said: “Good manners.” Then they asked: “What if he doesn’t have them?” He said: “A good brother from whom he asks for advice.” They continued: “What if he doesn’t have one?” He said: “A long silence.” They said: “What if he isn’t capable of it?” He said, “A quick death.”

Allah has created the intellect so that man will recognize his Creator, the Deen, the Prophets and Messengers, the Books. Islam is the only Deen which has honoured the intellect and given it its rightful place and value. There are many Ayats that Allah sent down and which clarify the functions of the intellect. Allah says: 

“Will you not use your intellect?” (Surat Baqara 2:44 and 2:76) 

“So will you not reflect?” (Surat Al-An’am 6:50)

“So will you not pay heed?” (Surat Hud 11:30)

These verses show that Islam exhorts human beings to use their intellect. They also expose the secular currents of thought that accuse Islam of inhibiting the use of the intellect, and blame it for the backwardness of most Islamic countries, claiming thus that secularism would be the bulwark of progress and modernism. They are utterly wrong since Islam urges people to use their intellect. Islam forbids blind imitation. Islam combats ignorance.

Allah says in His Noble Book:

“When they are told, ‘Follow what Allah has sent down to you,’ They say, ‘We are following what we found our fathers doing.’ What, even though their fathers did not understand a thing and were not guided!” (Surat Baqara 2:170)

It is essential that faith should have as its foundation, a solid and strong conviction, for a weak faith, which falters, can at any moment disappear. Islam does not separate faith from intellect or reflection as some religions do. In fact, Allah made the intellect a compulsory condition for man to be responsible, and to comply with the commandments of Allah, like Salat [prayer] and fasting. Without the intellect, the act of worship has no validity. The Prophet, may Allah’s Blessing and Peace be upon him, said: “The pen has been raised for three people [i.e. their actions will not be written down for the Final Judgement Day]: the one who is asleep until he wakes up, the child until he reaches the age of puberty and the madman until he comes to his senses.”

If the intellect disappears, there is no responsibility.

Many people confuse word and intellect, they think they are the same. But they are very different: the intellect is an abstract word that refers to the capacity to reflect, understand and distinguish, while the brain, as we all know, is the vital organ that is found inside the human skull.

The Qur’anic verses have shown that the place of the intellect is the heart. Allah says:

“Have they not travelled about the earth and do they not have hearts to understand with and ears to hear with? It is not the eyes that are blind but hearts in breasts that are blind.” (Surat The Pilgrimage 22:46) 

Allah did not say: ‘Have they not travelled about the earth and do they not have brains to understand (…).’

In another Ayat, Allah the Exalted and Most High says:

“Will they not ponder the Qur’an or are there locks upon their hearts?” (Surat Muhammad 47:24)

Recent scientific studies on the functioning of the heart have shown that indeed the place of the intellect is the heart. There is a functional relationship between the heart and the brain. The brain captures the information through the senses and the nerve cells, sends the information to the heart, which processes it, admits it or rejects it and sends the decision to the brain. Therefore the heart is not just a muscle that pumps blood. It is the heart that commands, and the brain executes its orders. In fact, it has been shown that the heart contains more neurons than the brain. The heart contains its own brain, called the “brain of the heart”. So the place of intellect is the heart. The intellect for the heart is like the soul for the body. And this is another proof, another sign that the Qur’an comes from the Creator. Allah says:

“Will they not ponder the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah, they would have found many inconsistencies in it.” (Surat Women 4:82)

This scientific research based on experimental evidence that confirms that  what is revealed in the Qur’an is a response to those who questioned its veracity, claiming that it contradicts the scientific reality – erroneous reality – which claimed that the place of the intellect was the brain. Allah says:

“Is he who creates like him who does not create? So will you not pay heed?” (Surat The Bee 16:17)

The Muslim must use this enormous favour to reflect and contemplate, because contemplation represents one of the most important acts of worship. It brings great benefits and has positive effects for the person. Reflection brings us closer to Allah. Allah demands from His slaves to reflect, to meditate, to observe His creation, to observe the heavens and the earth and the innumerable signs that He distributed in it. Allah says:

“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day there are Signs for people with intelligence: those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: ‘Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Sura The Family of Imran 3:190-191).

The Muslim should also contemplate the Book of Allah, reflect on its meanings, the words of the Qur’an are all luminous. Allah says: 

“It is a Book We have sent down to you, full of blessing, so let people of intelligence ponder its Signs and take heed.” (Surat Sad 38:29) 

The Muslim must reflect on the reality of his existence. Our mother held us in her womb, she then gave birth to us, and we came into this world from nothing. The creation of the human being is one of the signs that most demonstrate the existence of the Creator. Allah says in His Noble Book:

“Or have they been created spontaneously or have they created themselves?” (Surat of the Mount 52:35)

And He also says: 

“Does man recall that We created him before when he was not anything?” (Surat  Maryam 19:67). 

And He says:

“Has man ever known a point of time when he was not something remembered?” (Surat Man 76:1)

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s Blessing and Peace be upon him, before the prophecy, as we all know, at one stage of his life, earned his living by trading in the markets of Makkah and other nearby markets like Okadh and Dhi al-Majaz. But he did not devote all his concerns to business. He was content to have enough for a balanced and happy life. He spent much of his time in meditation and reflection on this sublime universe that surrounds us. As he grew older, he spent more time in meditation. Hasan Al Basri, may Allah be pleased with, him said: “An hour of reflection is better than a whole night of prayer.”

Today, unfortunately, many people are neglecting this act of worship which is a duty for every Muslim. There are even people who never interrupt their worldly affairs in order to reflect. They rush behind the material things of this world alone, they are seduced by the pleasures of Dunia (this world). They only reflect on worldly aspects: the car they have to buy, the house they have to build etc… They have completely forgotten about the house, the home they have to build in the Next World, which is the best and lasting one. They have ignored this part of the gifts that Allah has given them: their intellect. They have lowered themselves to the beasts and herds with regards to being in the world without reflecting. Allah, the Exalted and Most High, says: 

“We created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell. They have hearts they do not understand with. They have eyes they do not see with. They have ears they do not hear with. Such people are like cattle. No, they are even further astray! They are the unaware.” (Sura Al-‘Araf 7:179)

The man who is always distracted, who doesn’t reflect, is not aware of the realities around him until after death. Allah says:

“And that Day Hell is produced, that Day man will remember; but how will the remembrance help him?” (Surat Al-Fajr 89:24).

Muslim, you must know that reflection, contemplation of your person, of creation, is the path that leads to faith in Allah. The fruit of observation is knowledge and the fruit of knowledge is faith. Knowledge is the basis of faith and worship. Allah is not worshipped with ignorance. Allah says:

“Know then that there is no god except Allah.” (Surat Muhammad 47:19)


Allah, Exalted and Most High, has not made the creation for fun, and He has not abandoned it to oblivion. Allah has created man to worship Him alone and has made the creation available to him to help him fulfilling this mission. Allah says:

“And He has made everything in the heavens and everything on the earth subservient to you. It is all from Him. There are certainly Signs in that for people who reflect.” (Surat Kneeling 45:13)

Islam has established for man rules that will benefit him in this life as well as in the next. Imam Abu Hamid Al Ghazali, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “The aim of Islamic jurisprudence is to protect man in his Deen, his person, his intellect, his offspring and wealth.” In this order.

Islam therefore protects the intellect by setting limits to ensure its good health. This gift from the Master of the worlds represents a fundamental tool in the hands of man to be able to walk towards the good and right and keep away from evil and corruption.

Man wanted to take responsibility and has to be prepared for it. Allah said:

“We offered the Trust [moral responsibility or honesty, and all the duties which Allah has ordained] to the heavens and the earth and the mountains but they refused to take it on and shrank from it. But man took it on.” (Surat The Confederates 33:72)

One of the rules established to safeguard the intellect is to consider as illicit, haram, everything or that can harm it or can alter its functioning, such as alcoholic drinks and drugs. Both have harmful effects, inhibit its functioning and deteriorate it. According to an account by Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet, may Allah’s Blessing and Peace be with him, said: “All that intoxicates is Khamr (a veil that covers the intellect) and all Khamr is forbidden. Umar Ibn Al Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Khamr is everything which covers up, that veils the intellect.” Drugs represent a deadly poison. Scientific studies have shown that they intervene in a person’s will, inhibit the functioning of the intellect and command the decisions to be made. They urge the individual to commit serious faults, affecting both mental and physical health; they destroy neurons, both in the brain and in the heart. With a simple visit to psychological care and detoxification centres, we may realize the great damage that drugs generate.

Muslims, know that drugs are totally forbidden, both in the Qur’an and in the Sunnah of the Prophet, may Allah’s Blessing and Peace be with him, whether they are drugs in the form of herbs, pills, drinks, powders or through syringes.

The societies, especially in the West, are suffering from a very serious problem, which is getting worse and worse: the increase of alcohol and drug consumption among young people, including children. This has never been seen before.

Drugs, including alcohol, are clearly illegal in Islam, regardless of the amounts taken, whether small or large. The Prophet, may Allah’s Blessing and Peace be with him, said: “What intoxicates in large quantities is haram (illicit), even in small quantities.”

The main factor that leads to drug use is bad company. Statistics show that 80% of young people take drugs because of bad company.

That’s why I launched this message to my young brothers and sisters: Be afraid of Allah, be responsible, use the gift of your intellect, and choose the best company, the company that calls you to do Salat at its proper time, take care of your health, by doing sports together or any activity that brings you benefits!

When a teenager starts smoking at an early age, that’s where the path opens up and it’s very likely that those fingers used to holding a cigarette will one day be able to hold a cigarette with other substances inside.

Another aspect that can push young people into drug use is family problems, divorce. The mother gets married again, the father does the same. The family is divided into two camps and the children are in the middle with an emotional disorder not knowing where to stand, on their mother’s or on their father’s side. This instability can lead them to take refuge in bad friendships and drugs.

Parents, myself included! We have to control our children to some extent, they need it. Protecting them from these drugs that harm youth, especially in these difficult times, when smoking drugs and drinking alcohol have become a social habit among teens. In these times when drugs are trafficked at school gates, times when it is difficult to find good company.