The ways through which one may attain faith in Allah, the Exalted, are many:
As for the godly ones, then the proof for them over His existence and means of His recognition is He Himself:
• Is it not sufficient as regards your Lord that He is a witness over all things?1
• He Who guides to Himself through Himself.2
• I have come to know You through You and You have guided me to Yourself.3
For others, we will indicate only a few ways to be concise:
When a human being looks at himself or anything else he can perceive, when he observes its parts and particles, he notices that no parts are impossible in existence. He also notices that none of them are necessary in existence nor necessary in nonexistence, hence they are all possible beings.
Thus, everything which is possible in its existence and its nonexistence requires a cause that brings it to being. The example of that is of the two sides of a balance, neither of the two can sway over the other without the addition of something else. Likewise, a possible being requires a cause for it to exist, or it will be nonexistent due to the nonexistence of a cause.
Since every particle from the parts of this universe requires a cause for its existence, it either gives existence to itself or something similar gives it existence. As for its giving existence to itself, then it was nonexistent. How could it give something which it did not have? As for something similar to itself, then the same applies to it. When it is not possible for it to give existence to itself then how could it give existence to something else? This rule applies to all parts of the universe and to the entire universe as well.
The light in the air, which does not have light in its essence, is proof over the existence of the One who brought about the light. He must have it in His essence; otherwise, He will not be able to lighten the air. It is impossible for one who is dark in essence to give light to itself, let alone give light to others.
Thus, the existence of the universe and the perfection of the existence, like life, knowledge and power, are proof over the existence of an Originator, whose existence, life, knowledge and omnipotence are present in His essence and are not referred to other than Him:
Or were they created without there being anything, or are they the creators?4
A man entered the presence of Imam Abu al-’Ali al-Rida (as) and said: O son of the Messenger of Allah (S)! What is the proof that the universe emerged?
He (as) replied: You did not exist, and yet you came into being. You already know that you have not created yourself, and that you have not been created by someone like you.5
Abu Shakir al-Daysani asked Imam al-Sadiq (as): How can you prove that you have a Creator?
Consequently, he (as) responded: I found myself not free from one of two possibilities: either I have created myself, or someone else has created me. If I have created myself, then I am not free from one of two meanings: either I created myself while I was already existent, or I created myself while I was nonexistent. Hence, if I created myself, and I already existed, then I was self-sufficient of giving existence to myself. And if I was nonexistent, then you know that the nonexistent cannot bring about a thing. Therefore, the third meaning is proven that I have a Creator and that is Allah, the Lord of the Universe.6
A thing that did not exist and then came into being has either brought itself into being, or someone else has brought it into being. If it brought itself into being then it must have brought itself into being when it was either already existent or it was nonexistent. If it was already existent, then that necessitates creating something which already exists, which is impossible. And if it was nonexistent then that necessitates a nonexistent to be the cause of an existent, which is also impossible.
If someone else brought Him into being, and if that other being was similar to Him in that it was nonexistent first then became existent, then the same ruling will apply to that thing, without any difference.
This is why the intellect requires that anything which did not exist and then came into existence, must have a Creator, who does not have any nonexistence.
Therefore, it becomes apparent that all beings of the universe and their alteration are proof over the existence of their Creator, Who does not have a creator. All created beings are proof over the existence of a Creator, Who is not created.
Suppose someone discovers a paper in the desert which contains all the letters of the alphabet in order from a to z. Then the conscience of every man will bear witness that the writing of those letters and their sequence is the result of understanding and perception. If he finds on the paper a word composed from those letters or a symmetrical speech, then he will believe that the composer is knowledgeable and well-informed. He will reason that the composer has knowledge and wisdom.
Then, is the formation of a plant from its basic origin, a lesser indicator of the knowledge and wisdom of its Creator than the composition of a sentence, which is an obvious indicator of the knowledge of the composer? What is wrong with man that with one sentence, he reasons that its composer has knowledge and wisdom? Yet, with a plant, he fails to reason that its Creator has knowledge and wisdom.
What is this wisdom and knowledge that made a plant from water and soil that decays the husk of the seed, and gives life to its core?
He gave the root of a plant the power to tear out from the earth and draw nourishment from the darkness of the soil. From every piece of land, He has prepared nourishment for different kinds of plants and trees. Every plant and tree finds its nourishment from the soil. He has made the roots of all trees draw only the nourishment specific to them, resulting in their specific fruits.
He made the roots combat the gravity of the earth, thus, they send water and nourishment to the branches and the twigs of the tree. While the roots work in the depths, He made the branches, twigs and leaves work to attain light and air. Therefore, He made everything easy when He created it.7
No matter how hard the human being works in changing this wise practice, to make the roots go up to the sky—which are made to go to the depths of the ground, and to make the branches go in the ground—which are made to work in air, they will find them combating this human practice. They continue their natural course:
and you shall not find any change in the course of Allah.8
Pay attention to the creation of a tree, from the stem to the thousands of leaves; indeed, it is a marvellous structure that amazes the intellects. What gave each one of the cells of the leaves the power to absorb water and nourishment from the depths of the earth through the roots? Who gave them the connection between the sky and earth? The difference between day and night, and the harmony in growth, which finishes the seed in its roots and branches but preserve it in its fruits, why is this law of nature effective in its life? It is sufficient for mankind to believe in the endless knowledge and wisdom behind it.
Nay, He Who created the heavens and the earth, and sent down for you water from the cloud; then We cause to grow thereby beautiful gardens; it is not possible for you that you should make the trees thereof to grow. Is there a god with Allah? Nay! They are people who deviate.9
Is it you that produce the trees for it, or are We the producers?10
We cause to grow in it of every suitable thing.11
Indeed, whichever plant or tree you look at, you will find from its roots to its fruits, a sign of the Creator’s knowledge, power and wisdom. They surrendered in their way, which has been made for their nurture and guidance:
And the herbs and the trees do prostrate (to Him).12
Similarly, paying attention to the life of each animal guides us to Allah, the Exalted.
Abu Shakir al-Daysani came to Imam al-Sadiq (as) and said, “O Ja’far ibn Muhammad, guide me to my Lord.”
Thus, Abu ‘Abd Allah (as) said to him: Sit down. He had a young boy, who had an egg in his hand and was playing with it. So Abu ‘Abd Allah (as) said: Young lad, bring me the egg. So he brought it to him. Abu ‘Abd Allah (as) further said:
Daysani, this is a concealed stronghold. It has a solid cover, and inside the solid cover there is a soft layer. Inside the soft layer there is the egg yolk and the albumin. Neither does the egg yolk mix with the albumin, nor does the albumin mix with the egg yolk. Each remains in its state. No informer comes out of it to inform of its usefulness, nor has a defect informed of its decay. No one knows whether it will make a male or a female. Colours like that of the peacocks burst out of it. Do you not think that it is the product of a Planner [Mudabbir]?
He put his head down for a long time, then said: “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, Alone. He has no associates, and Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger, and you are an Imam and a Proof from Allah for His Creation. I repent for the misguidance in which I was in.”13
Which planning has created this strong eggshell of pure lime and consigned astonishing secrets in it? What planning is it that has formed this eggshell, from the feed that the birds eat, into a white house that is a peaceful place for the growth of a chicken? Who placed the sperm in the egg, like the pearl in the shell?
The embryo is not attached to the mother, neither is there any womb to provide nourishment. Hence, the nourishment is provided inside the eggshell. A delicate membrane is placed between the wall of the tough eggshell and the chicken and its nourishment, which protect it from being harmed. Then, in the same dark surroundings, all parts of the animal are formed, such as the bones, muscles, veins, nerves and senses, and each one is placed in its own position.
From all those parts, if one only pays attention to the composition of an eye, he will ponder on how delicate its creation is. Its placement in its position is so astonishing for the intellect on its own, let alone the rest of the body.
Since this chicken will have to feed by picking seeds from between the earth and stones, He equipped it with a tough beak from the horns of the animals, so that it does not hurt itself from the earth. To ensure that the chicken does not miss, He gave it a craw to collect all the seeds in it and preserve them there, gradually sending them to its digestive system. Then He covered its delicate skin with feathers and wings that protect it from hot and cold, from injury and other animals.
He did not only suffice the chicken with the necessities of life, but He also gave him the physical beauty of colourful feathers. The Imam (as) said: Colours like that of the peacocks burst out of it.
From the hen’s body, balanced heat is required for the development of the chicken. The bird that does not keep still except during the darkness of the night, sits still in its place to heat the eggs for the duration that is required to form the embryo, and hence the chicken. What wisdom is it that makes this constantly moving bird keep still so that life comes about in the new chicken?
Which teacher taught the bird how to turn over the egg in such a way that a chicken is formed, with no parts misplaced? And who taught the chicken to break the eggshell with its beak when its formation is completed, and it is ready to enter a new life full of energy?
What meticulousness and mercy has entered the hen that, against its instinct, it protects the life of the chicken? A reform occurs in the life of the hen that makes her stand up to protect and defend her chicken. The hen makes her chest a shield to guard her chicken. This emotional state continues until the chicken becomes able to carry on with its own life.
Is it not sufficient for us to take notice of an egg so that it may guide us to Who creates, then makes complete, and Who makes (things) according to a measure, then guides (them to their goal).14 This is when the Imam (as) said: Do you not think that it is the product of a Planner [Mudabbir]?
He put his head down for a long time, then said: “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, Alone. He has no associates, and Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger, and you are an Imam and a Proof from Allah for His Creation. I repent for the misguidance in which I was in.”
Indeed the Omniscient, the Omnipotent, the All-Wise, Who nurtured the seed from the darkness of the earth, and the One who nurtured the chicken in the darkness of the egg, has done so for a specific objective and purpose. He has nurtured the human sperm in the darkness of the womb for an objective and a purpose. The sperm was a drop in its beginning, not worth mentioning. It did not have body parts or human strengths.
Thus, Allah prepared it with all kinds of provisions for the life after birth. He prepared it, for example, with bones of all kinds and sizes for serving different purposes. He lit the lamp of perception with the brain which astonishes the intellects. Man remains alive due to millions of heartbeats each year, which continue day and night.
Paying attention to the formation of the simplest human body part is sufficient for instilling faith in the Creator, the Honourable, the Omniscient. For instance, the teeth are created in three types: front incisors teeth, canine teeth and molar teeth. What would happen in terms of biting the food and chewing it, if the molar teeth were in place of the front teeth and vice versa? What would happen in terms of beauty and ugliness?
What would happen if the eyebrows were below the eyes, or the opening of the nose was upwards rather than downwards?
All human activities, from building the earth, farming, building huge strong structures, to handling delicate fabrics and even tinier things are dependent on the fingers and the growth of nails.
Which power and wisdom is it that made the substance of the nails available in human food? He made the food go through chewing, digestion and absorption, so that it could enter the veins and reach the tips of the fingers. Then the nails become hard, so the purpose of their creation is served. The flesh of the fingers and the nails are separate from each other but are joined in such a way that they do not normally come off. Under normal circumstances, human beings cannot bear the pain if their nails are torn or broken. However, when their purpose is served, they grow out of their place in such a way that human beings can cut their nails without any trouble.
It is astonishing that the nutrients, which flow through the veins, provide nutrition for the tough parts like the bones and the nails as well as for the delicate parts like the eyes.
What will happen to the structure of human life if the sustenance given to its parts is switched, so that the nutrition that should be given to the nails was given to the eyes, and vice versa?
These examples are the simplest signs of knowledge and wisdom, which do not require intense contemplation:
and in your own souls, will you not then see?15
Yet, what if we reach the depths of the secrets of the creation, through specialisation in medical science and use of complicated equipment?
Do they not reflect within themselves?16
Although the learned have made great efforts in understanding this being, they have yet to discover the secrets in the creation of his skin. So then, how will they understand his core and inner self? The faculty of desire is to attract the comfortable, the faculty of anger to protect the comfortable and reject the painful. In order to maintain a balance between the two powers, he has been given the intellect for practical balance and the five senses for theoretical balance.
And if you would count Allah's favours, you will not be able to number them.17
Which pen of knowledge and wisdom is it that wrote this book full of wisdom on the drop of water?
So let man consider of what he is created: He is created of water pouring forth.18
He creates you in the wombs of your mothers—a creation after a creation—in triple darkness.19
What knowledge, power and wisdom is it that created from a floating drop of water a sound human being, who through his intellect and perception becomes aware of the zenith of the horizon and the souls?
Read and your Lord is Most Honourable, Who taught (to write) with the pen. Taught man what he knew not.20
He takes the earth and the sky as the scope of his thoughts and powers.
Do you not see that Allah has made what is in the heavens and what is in the earth subservient to you, and made complete to you His favours outwardly and inwardly? And among men is he who disputes in respect of Allah though having no knowledge nor guidance, nor a book giving light.21
What can the human being say to this knowledge, power, mercy and wisdom, except for what Allah, the Mighty and High, has already said:
So blessed be Allah, the best of the creators.22
What can he do except drop into prostration and say: Glory be to my Lord, the Most High, and Praise be to Him.
As for the Word of the Exalted:
We will soon show them Our signs in the Universe and in their own souls, until it will become quite clear to them that He is the truth.23
One must glance at the universe, which contains millions of suns, moons and stars. The light of some of these reaches the Earth in thousands of light-years. Some of them are thousands of times greater than the Earth.
The distance between each one of them is very well calculated and each one is in its specified orbit. All of these have balanced attraction and repulsion, as none of them collide with each other.
Neither is it allowable to the sun that it should overtake the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day; and all float on in a sphere.24
This Earth, which is pivotal to human life, is encompassed by gases that protect it from thousands of luminous meteors in space, which can destroy once they enter the atmosphere of the Earth.
He has made the distance between the sun and the Earth well-measured. It changes to provide the proper conditions, in the best way possible, in terms of light and heat, for the formation of mines and the growth of plants, animals and humans.
The motion of the Earth is systematic in location and transference. This is to form the day and night, and sunrise and sunset in most of the Earth. The light for human life is acquired with the sunrise. It is then that they start their activities for their sustenance. At sunset, the night appears and darkness takes over, for bringing the peace and harmony necessary for the continuation of life and resting. Therefore, the sun does not give light constantly, nor does it cut it off completely, so that the way of life does not become abandoned.
And He it is Who made the night and the day to follow each other for him who desires to be mindful.25
And out of His mercy He has made for you the night and the day, that you may rest therein, and that you may seek of His grace.26
Say: Tell me, if Allah were to make the night to continue incessantly on you till the day of resurrection, who is the god besides Allah that could bring you light? Do you not then hear?27
Therefore, light and darkness, and day and night, regardless of their extreme contradiction, are still united and assist each other. They both hold hands with each other for one purpose! The day makes what is in the Earth visible and the night makes what is in the sky visible to the human being. Thus, the kingdom of the heavens and the Earth is accessible to his physical and mental perception.
The day and night turn the pages of the book of human existence in order that she may read the verses of her Lord from the page of the heavens and the earth.
Do they not consider the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and whatever things Allah has created?28
And thus did We show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and that he might be of those who are sure.29
How astonishing is it that a person who understands some beings, reflects upon a few laws of nature and secrets of the universe, and this fits the criterion for knowledge and wisdom? On the other hand, how is it possible to perceive that the Creator of the mind and thoughts, Legislator of the laws running the universe and Innovator of the secrets of the creation, does not have knowledge and wisdom?
All of what has been achieved by the learned from the secrets of the universe and its laws is like a drop of information from the ocean of the unknown,
and you are not given aught of knowledge but a little.30
How can wisdom accept that the human who has the ability to copy a few lines from the book of existence is knowing and wise, while the author of the book of existence and the Creator of the copier does not have knowledge and information?
Of course not! Hence, you will see that even the one who rejects the Omniscient and the Omnipotent Creator, his nature bears witness over Him:
And if you ask them, Who created the heavens and the earth and made the sun and the moon subservient, they will certainly say, Allah. Whence are they then turned away?31
And if you should ask them, Who created the heavens and the earth? They would most certainly say: The Mighty, the Knowing One, has created them.32
An atheist entered the presence of al-Rida (as) when he had some people in his presence.
Therefore, Abu al-Hasan al-Rida (as) asked him: O man! Can you not see that if your view is correct, and it is absolutely not, then we are equal, despite our prayers, fasting, alms-giving, and the beliefs we profess have not harmed us?
The atheist remained silent.
Then Abu al-Hasan (as) added: However, if our view is the correct one, which is certainly the case, then you are lost, and we are saved.
The man said: May Allah’s mercy be upon you! Can you describe to me how He is and where He is?
The Imam (as) answered: Woe to you! Verily, you are misguided. He originated the “where” since He existed when there was no “where.” He originated the “how” since He existed when there was no “how.” He cannot be described in terms of “how” or “where,” nor can He be perceived by any of our senses, or gauged by any other means.
The man said: Then surely He is nothing if He cannot be perceived by any of the senses.
Abu al-Hasan (as) said: Woe to you! Will you deny His Lorship simply because your senses cannot perceive Him? Although our senses fail to perceive Him, we know for certain that He is our Lord despite arguments to the contrary.
The man said: Then tell me, since when has He existed?
Abu al-Hasan said: If you can tell me when He did not exist, I can tell you when He did exist.
The man said: Then how can we prove His Existence?
Abu al-Hasan (as) replied: Verily, when I contemplate my body and see that it is impossible for me to increase or decrease its breadth and height, to keep unpleasant things away from it, or draw benefits to it, then I know that this structure has a Maker. I acknowledge His Existence on the basis of the planets which orbit in the celestial sphere by His Command. I acknowledge His Existence on the basis of the production of clouds in the sky.
I acknowledge His Existence on the basis of the movement of the winds. I acknowledge His Existence on the basis of the movement of the sun, the moon, and the stars. When I consider all the wonders of creation, I know that they are the product of a Determiner [Muqaddir], and an Originator [Munshi’].33
The meaning of the word of the Imam (as): …then we are equal despite our prayers, fasting… is that the religious duties of the faith, good deeds and refraining from evil, are the source of satisfaction for the soul and improvement of society. Even if these actions were in vain, abiding by them is a minute effort, due to the possibility of the existence of God and the Return. It is also necessary for removing the harm and attaining the good, which has no limit.
The meaning of his word (as): He originated the “where”… is that place and state are two accidental things. Allah is the Creator of substances and accidents. Then how is it sensible to relate the Creator with what He has created?
Besides, the created cannot be an attribute of the Creator, because describing the Creator with the description of the creation necessitates that the Creator is in need of His creation. This is why He cannot be confined by place and state. He cannot be sensed by the senses and cannot be compared with anything.
The meaning of his word (as): Woe to you! Your senses cannot perceive Him. The one who confines the existence to senses is neglectful of the fact that the sense is present, but He cannot be perceived with sense. For example, the ear may be present but there may be nothing to hear and the eye is present but there may be nothing to be seen.
The human being perceives that the endless should be unlimited, while every sensed thing is limited. There are many internal and external beings which are beyond sense and perception.
This man was deluded in his assumption that existence is restricted to the sensed being. Therefore, he rejected the Creator of the senses and the sensed. Hence, the Imam (as) guided him to realise that the Creator of the sense and the sensed, the imagination and the imagined, the understanding and the understood cannot be contained by senses, imaginations and understandings; for, every perceiving power is encompassed by what perceives it.
The Creator has encompassed the creation. Thus, it is not possible that the Creator of the senses, imaginations and understandings, Who encompasses them, is also encompassed by them. This would mean that the encompassing one would be the encompassed.
Then, if Allah, the Exalted, could be sensed or imagined or understood (completely), then the mind would contain Him. He would become identical to what perceives Him from these powers and would be combined. The combined from a dimension would necessitate the separation from a dimension.
Thus, His existence would be composed of the two. Such a composition is from the description of the created and not the Creator. Therefore, if Allah, the Exalted could be contained in senses, imagination and intellect, then He would be created and not the Creator.
Indeed, the occurrence of evolution in matter and nature is a proof over the existence of a superior power over them both; because matter and material beings require location and parallel. For example, a body cannot become hot due to the effect of fire unless it has a connection and location near it. The lamp that lights the atmosphere has a location and connection.
It is impossible for location and connection to exist with the nonexistent. Therefore, it is impossible for matter and nature to have an effect on different beings which were previously nonexistent. The existence of whatever was nonexistent before is proof over the existence of a power that is not in need of the effects of location and connection. It has to be beyond the bodies and its likes.
His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it: Be, so it is.34
Faith in Allah, the Exalted, is innate in human nature. Therefore, humans naturally find themselves to be weak and needy beings who must refer to an Omnipotent and seek help from a Self-Sufficient. However, different occupations distract him and his emotional attractions to his likenesses veil him from his nature and recognition.
When he is placed in danger and loses hope from all means of salvation, he sees himself helpless, so he wakes up to his sleeping nature. Thus, unwillingly he turns to the Omnipotent and the essentially Self-Sufficient to which he refers and naturally seeks help from.
Say: Who is it that delivers you from the dangers of the land and the sea (when) you call upon Him (openly) humiliating yourselves, and in secret: If He delivers us from this, we should certainly be of the grateful ones.35
And when distress afflicts a man he calls upon his Lord turning to Him frequently; then when He makes him possess a favour from Him, he forgets that for which he called upon Him before, and sets up rivals to Allah that he may cause (men) to stray off from His path.36
He it is Who makes you travel by land and sea; until when you are in the ships, and they sail on with them in a pleasant breeze, and they rejoice, a violent wind overtakes them and the billows surge in on them from all sides, and they become certain that they are encompassed about, they pray to Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience: If Thou dost deliver us from this, we will most certainly be of the grateful ones.37
A man asked Imam al-Sadiq (as): O son of the Messenger of Allah! Those who debate with me have confused me. Guide me to Allah. What is He?
Hence, he (as) replied to him: O servant of Allah! Have you ever ridden a boat?
The man said: Of course.
The Imam (as) responded: Then did it ever sink, leaving you without a boat to rescue you, and with insufficient strength to swim?
He answered: Yes.
The Imam (as) asked: At that moment, did your heart have faith in something All-Powerful that could rescue you from your difficult situation?
Thus, the man replied: Certainly.
Al-Sadiq (as) said: Then that thing is Allah, the All-Powerful, the One who Rescues when there is no rescuer, and the One who Helps when no help is available.38
It is possible for humans to attain this recognition and natural connection with Allah in states other than necessity, i.e. freewill, with the two wings of knowledge and practice:
The First: The veil of ignorance and negligence departs due to the light of intellect and he sees that the existence of all beings and their perfection is not due to itself or due to himself. He knows that all end to the Almighty.
He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the Knower of hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things,39
He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner; His are the most excellent names.40
The Second: The turbidity of sins, lowliness and darkness declines from the essence of his spirit due to purification of the soul and devoutness. Indeed, the servant is only veiled from his Lord due to ignorance, negligence and the darkness of sins and lowliness. Therefore, it is mandatory for him to strive in removing it with knowledge and practice.
And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways.41
Imam al-Sadiq (as) said to Ibn Abu al-’Awja’,
“How is He hidden from you when He showed you His Omnipotence in your own self? He brought you into being when you did not exist. His Omnipotence is shown in your old age after youth, in your strength after weakness, and in your weakness after strength; in your illness after health, and your health after illness; in your pleasure after anger, and your anger after pleasure; in your sadness after happiness, and your happiness after sadness; in liking after disliking, and in disliking after liking; in deciding after refusing, and in refusing after deciding; in kindness after meanness, and in meanness after kindness, in your exhortation after apprehension, and apprehension after exhortation; in your hope after despair, and your despair after hope; in the idea which was not in your imagination, and in the distance between what you believed from your mind.”
Ibn Abu al-’Awja’ said, “He was still counting to me (the proofs of) His Omnipotence in my own self, which I could not reject, until I started believing that Allah would appear between me and him.”42