Islam is a progressive religion that allows its followers to get the best out of new technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI) brings many promising opportunities for Muslims, but it also poses unprecedented threats to the religion by undermining the sanctity of the Quran. Muslims must work proactively to reap the benefits of AI, protecting themselves from its dangers.
Many religions rely on their followers to take a leap of faith, which requires them to believe in something that seems illogical or illogical. These often take the form of miracles that are alleged to have occurred hundreds of years ago as a display of the religion’s supernaturalism.
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Present-day followers must believe—on faith—that these miracles happened even though they did not see them happen, and that forms the basis of their obedience. This is the part of religiosity that some atheists struggle with the most, as they cannot imagine why anyone would want to believe in these alleged miracles in the absence of direct evidence.
Islam differs in that the miracles that attract followers are eternal: the Holy Qur’an. For those fortunate enough to understand Arabic, the beauty, complexity and subtlety of the text is clearly beyond any human compositional ability.
This miracle is strengthened by the fact that the person who relayed the text to the people – the Prophet Muhammad – was an illiterate Bedouin living in seventh-century Arabia. The Qur’an describes many additional miracles that occurred before the present day, but no leap of faith is required, as the luminous nature of the text constantly reminds Muslims of its divine nature.
Until recently, despite thousands of years of technological progress, humans maintained a monopoly on the creative arts. We’ve built machines that are stronger than us, faster than us, and more, but before the development of the latest generation of generative AI, if you wanted to look at a beautiful picture or read a mesmerizing poem, you had to rely on human work.
Children born today may grow up in a different world, where the main – if not the – source of creativity is machines powered by generative AI. Paintings, novels, songs, dance routines, video games and more are going to be monopolized by super-intelligent computers. Fundamentally, creativity may be synthetic, but from the perspective of a similar child, the distinction is meaningless.
This may have consequences for how future generations view the Qur’an. Understanding its paranormal properties will become more dependent on understanding the context of its revelation, i.e., a world without AI, and where a man in his 40s published these texts in a harsh desert without a history of his literary work to his contemporaries.
Perhaps, the generative AI revolution could have the opposite effect: if it leads to a major decline in human creativity as we simply outsource it to computers, then generative AI could potentially make Muslims more convinced of its divinity. If future generations of humans are profoundly uncreative, they may be even less plausible as substitutes for divine revelation.
Nevertheless, in order for Muslims to preserve their faith, they must strive not to lose the context of the revelation of the Qur’an. People reading its miraculous verses must always be aware of the true level of technological backwardness that characterized seventh-century Mecca.
Generative AI poses an additional threat in the form of enabling imposters. During the Prophet’s time and after his death, rivals periodically attempted to compose their own competing verses to challenge Muhammad’s claim to divine revelation. All these efforts failed because of their inability to imitate the beauty of the Qur’an.
It’s not hard to imagine a 21st century Islamophob deploying the latest generative AI technology as part of a new effort to undermine the faith of Muslims. Anyone visiting Western countries in the post-Covid-19 era feels the spread of nihilism. People are generally unhappy, they smile less, they fight more and some crave the inner peace that many Muslims enjoy because of their faith.
As a result, fooling ill-prepared Muslims will potentially be easier than at any time in history. Verse 88 of Chapter 17, Al-Isra, even AI-powered efforts will fail: Say, O Prophet, “If all men and jinn were to come together to produce the equivalent of this Qur’an, they would support each other in whatever way they produced its equivalent. couldn’t.”
However, Islam is not a fatalistic religion that instructs its followers to passively accept their destiny, positive or negative. It is the responsibility of Muslims to actively protect the Quran. This implies the importance of teaching Muslims how to memorize the Qur’an correctly and how to distinguish between genuine and false verses.
It would be wrong to focus exclusively on the negative, however, as generative AI could help Muslims become more pious. As with any academic question, AI can help Muslims quickly answer complex questions that would normally require expert weeks of study to provide. When learning a new chapter, the conversation that Muslims often have with experienced scholars about the meaning of verses and how they apply today can be replaced by a conversation with an AI bot, saving time and money.
An AI bot can easily surpass the skills of a traditional scholar who seamlessly translates into any language – including sign language – and instantly interprets things differently as often as the inquiring Muslim needs to understand the answer to their question. Full reference in case you want to read more. This is just one of many possible applications, and we’ve probably yet to imagine some of the best
No technology is equally beneficial. Islam enjoins its followers to strive for new knowledge, and to constantly learn from both Muslims and non-Muslims, always alert to the threat of new technologies. In terms of generative AI, Muslims must redouble their efforts to teach their children about how the Quran was revealed and what the world was like 1,500 years ago.
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