Why Islam is True: Review and Notes on the Course

I recently completed Sh. Hamza Karamali’s course on ‘Why Islam is True‘ and here is a quick review:

The course is divided into 20 chapters and half of them are on the evidence for the existence of God. Sh. Hamza focuses exclusively on the contingency argument with slight highlights of design and kalam cosmological arguments. I think he did a decent job of really hammering in the rational evidence behind God’s existence. It should suffice most people and even reasonable atheists, even if they disagree with the conclusion, that there is some rational basis for God’s existence. I would have additionally preferred deconstructing some popular arguments that are widely shared on the non-existence of God, they aren’t many and it’s the same types that get passed around. There was also not much opposition discussed to the contingency argument which would also be beneficial to add to the course. I’m sure the argument has been used in many debates with atheists so it would be good to understand how to critique their responses. He also mentions some fairly good rational arguments for God’s Oneness.

There wasn’t much discussion on deism, the belief that there is a God but He doesn’t interfere in human affairs at all, Sh. Hamza briefly touches on it but I think it necessitates a more thorough response in such a type of course because it is also quite popular.

I found the discussion on Privative Attributes a good measure on how to judge whether something or someone qualifies as God or not.

He did a decent job of providing rational arguments of why the Prophet ﷺ was not an imposter and that the only logical conclusion is that he truly was who he said he was. Similarly, he did a good job of providing good arguments of why the Qur’an could not be his own invention nor taught to him by others.

The discussion on miracles was an interesting take as well and I think he did a fantastic job covering the subject from a rational perspective and how they are not irrational at all but perfectly reasonable.

The discussion on the afterlife could use some more development and arguments. He made some reasonable points but I think it requires a deeper dive than what was presented. A good discussion to add would be the rational arguments for the justification of paradise and hell.

There is also a continuous mock conversation that takes place on religion and its proofs between a Christian, Muslim, Atheist, and in some occasions a Buddhist and a Hindu. They are basically co-workers and the student is asked to select the best answer based on what he/she is learning in the course. That whole activity also is a great feature and really lays out how a conversation should flow in such discussions. Sh. Hamza should release it as an independent article or a small booklet, I think it would be well received. There are many lessons you can draw just from that exchange.

As an Athari, I would say that he does discuss some Attributes in light of Ash’ari theology, which is understandable given his background. Naturally, Atharis would disagree with framing some of the discussions in that manner. However, this only occurs briefly in some issues and does not take away from the overall benefit of the course as a whole.

Overall, I think it is a fantastic course for young Muslims, and even Muslim adults, looking to help answer doubts surrounding Islam and belief in God.

I know some people are still on the edge of whether to take it or not, so I’ve included notes here to share and I’ve tried my best to capture the essence of each chapter. Hopefully, it can help you decide.

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