Belief in God, His existence, and His attributes. Belief in the Messenger Prophet Muhammad (s) and in prophethood. Belief in the message Islam.
The great scholar and brilliant Islamic thinker, as-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, one of the great scholars and jurists of Imami (Twelvers) Shi'ism, in the noble city of an-Najaf al-Ashraf, Iraq, is too well known through his works and originality of thought for us to introduce him to readers in the Muslim world.
He has written, on Islamic philosophy, Falsafatuna (Our Philosophy), a comparative study of Islamic philosophy and other schools of philosophy in the West, both ancient and modern, with special attention to the philosophy of dialectical materialism.
He has also written al-Usus al-mantiqiyyah li'l-istiqra' (The Logical Foundations of Induction), a study with a new approach to the inductive argument aiming at the discovery of the common logical foundation of scientific investigation and faith in God. The present book is based on that study ,and contains a good summary of it.
In the field of Islamic economics, the author has written Iqtisaduna (Our Economics), in two volumes. The first volume is dedicated to a comparative and objective study of contemporary schools of economics, especially Marxist economics. The second volume is an attempt to discover a basis for an, Islamic economics, or an Islamic school of economics. This study is thorough and broad in its scope.
The author has also written in this field al Bank al-la rabawi fi al-Islam (Towards a Non-usurious Islamic Bank), which is a dissertation presenting an Islamic alternative to usury. Usury, which is the foundation of the banking and exchange business in modern capitalist society, is strictly prohibited by Islam. The author has also written a detailed study of all aspects of banking in the light of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) . On a somewhat related subject, he has also written a book entitled al-Insan al-mu'asir wa'l-mushkilah al-ijtima'iyyah (Contemporary Man and Social Problems).
In the field of historical studies, the author has written Fadak fi 't-tarikh (Fadak in History), which is a study of the political history of Islam during the first century of the hijrah. The starting point of this study is the investigation of Fadak, a region of the Hijaz, near Medina, the Illuminated, which the Prophet gave as an inheritance to his daughter, the pure and righteous Fatimah az-Zahra (the Radiant); peace be upon her.
The author examines in this book the opinion adopted by the authorities which came to power after the death of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his household, concerning this inheritance. It is a study of the .point of view of the rulers and their attitudes towards this problem, as well as the point of view of those who were wronged and whose rightful claim to their usurped property was ignored; these are the people of the household of the Prophet, peace be upon them all.
The Sayyid has composed another work on wilayah (authority of the Imams), which relates on the one hand to the study of Fadak, and on the other to the fundamentals of Islamic faith. In this work, he attempts to answer two questions: How did Shi`ism originate and how did the Shi`ah community arise? This book was originally written as an introduction to another work entitled Tarikh al Imamiyyah wa aslalhim min ash-Shi'ah (A History of the Imam's and their Shi `ah Predecessors), written by Dr. `Abdullah Fayyad.
The Sayyid's introduction was later extracted from `the book and published separately in several editions. He has written several other works on the fundamental of Islamic belief, other than the work under consideration, including a book on the al Mahdi, and the present study. Similarly, in usul al fiqh (Fundamentals of Jurisprudence), which is the author's primary field of specialisation, he has written a number of works. All his books appeared in closely successive editions, a fact which proves much more than can be expressed here concerning the eminent place which the author occupies as a scholar.
Among the many works of the author is the present study, small in its size, but large in its significance and scope, a book of great benefit. This treatise was first written as an introduction to the author's book al-Fatawa al-wadihah (Clear Legal Opinions) and published with it. Later, however, it was detatched and published separately.
When we decided to bring out this profound study in an English translation, we saw fit to let the book itself and our brief introduction to some of the author's works suffice to introduce him to English readers. God, praised be He, has provided Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, a professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, to undertake the task of translation.
We pray God, praised and exalted be He, to make of this book a source of blessing and benefit. We pray also that he prolong the life of His Eminence, the author, and grant success to the translator. We pray that God accept our endeavour as a pure offering for the sake of his noble face and that He set our steps firmly on the straight path and grant us success to do that which pleases Him. He alone is the best Master and best Supporter.
Peace be upon you, God's mercy and His blessings.
World Organization For Islamic Services,
(Board of Writing, Translation and Publication).
Tehran - IRAN.
I have been requested by some of our great scholars, a large number of our students and other believers to follow the guidance and example of the great scholars before us, in investigating a subject whose importance grows day by day. Earlier scholars used to append to their treatises either a brief or detailed introduction in proof of the existence of the Creator and the basic fundamentals of religion.
This was because any scientific study is only an expression of personal reasoning (ijtihad), attempting to comprehend the precepts of the sacred Islamic law (shari'ah) with which God the Exalted sent the Seal of the Prophets as a mercy to humankind.1
This expression, moreover, depends fully on the acceptance of these fundamentals: faith in God, the Revealer, the Prophet as Messenger and the message with which he was sent. These together constitute the basis and content of any scientific study, as well as the reason for humanity's need for it.
I complied with this request in the belief that therein, is God's pleasure, and because the need it would fulfill is great indeed. Nonetheless, I was faced with the following question. In what style should I write this introduction so that it should have the same degree of simplicity and clarity as the work for which it was originally prepared, that is, my book al-Fatawa al-wadihah (Clear Legal Opinions)?
I also wished the .book to be accessible to anyone capable of understanding the legal ordinances contained in the fatawa. I discerned, however, a basic difference between this introduction and the book.
Legal fatwas are simply the results of analogical reasoning (ijtihad) and deduction (istinbat) without the need for proof or analysis, while mere presentation in such an introduction would not suffice. It is imperative, therefore, to resort to verification (istidlal) because sacred law demands persuasion and conviction with regard to the fundamentals of religion.
The purpose of such an introduction must be the firm establishment of the fundamentals of, religion and its basic principles. This is possible only through argument, yet argument as well hasp its own., levels. Each level, even the simplest and most obvious, must be completely persuasive. Had human sentiment (wijdan) been truly free, the simplest means of proof of the existence of the wise Creator would have sufficed. Were they created out of nothing, or are they the creators ?2
For the last two centuries, modern thought has not allowed human sentiment to remain liberated and pure. Hence the need for proof was made all the more imperative for those who have obtained some knowledge of modern thought and its special methods of investigation, in order for those gaps to be filled which simple obvious proofs would have filled had human sentiment been left unfettered.
I had before me two choices: the first was to write for those who still live with a free sentiment, untouched by the demands of modern thought, and thus require only simple arguments.
In that case, the idiom would be clear to the readers of the entire work, that is, al-Fatawa al-wadihah and the introduction to it. The second choice was to write for those who have come into contact with modern thought and have, to a greater or lesser degree, accepted its framework and attitudes with regard to theology. I decided that the second choice was more suitable.
Nevertheless, I endeavoured to be generally clear in what I wrote, bearing in mind the average university student as well as the reader of higher educational achievements. I have, as much as possible, avoided complicated terminology and the language of mathematics. I also avoided complex expositions. At the same time, I took into consideration the capacity for comprehension and retention of the more serious student, in that I have presented points of special significance with brevity, and have referred him to other of my works for greater depth, such as The Logical Principles of Induction (al-Usus al-mantiqiyyah l'i-istiqra').
We likewise endeavoured to enable the less accomplished reader to find in the parts of the introduction a good source of clear ideas and convincing evidence. The first step in the scientific inductive argument for the existence of the Creator may be considered in itself sufficient on a general level. We shall first discuss the Revealer, then the messenger and finally the message. Success comes from God; on Him I rely and to Him I turn for help.
ﷲ سبﺣﺎ نه و تعالى
Since the earliest times of human history, man had attained faith in God, worshipped Him alone in sincerity and manifested a deep relationship with Him. This took place before man reached any stage of purely philosophical reasoning or the comprehension of the methods of demonstration.
This faith was not the child of class struggle, nor was it the invention of exploiters or tyrants as a justification of their exploitation. It was not the invention of the exploited in order to justify their own suffering. This is because faith has preceded all such conflicts in human history. Faith in God was not born out of fear and the feeling of awe in the face of natural catastrophes and nature's unpredictable behavior.
For, had faith been born of fear, or had it been the result of awe, then the most religious among men throughout history would have been the ones most given to fear and dread. On the contrary, those who have carried the torch of faith across the ages have been people of great strength, of character and will. This faith, rather, expresses a fundamental inclination in man to be devoted to his Creator. It manifests a pure conscience enabling him to discern the connection between man and his Lord and between God and the universe which He created.
In the next stage, man reached metaphysical thinking and inferred from things around him in the universe general concepts such as being (wujud) and non-being (`adam), possibility (imkan) and impossibility (istihalah), unity (wahdah) and multiplicity (kathrah), compositeness (tarakkub) and simplicity (basatah), part (juz') and whole (kull), priority (taqaddum) and posteriority (ta'akhkhur) and cause ('illah) and effect (ma'lul). Man then tended to use these concepts and apply them to the construction of arguments in support of his original faith in God, praised and exalted be He, and to justify and explain it in philosophical terms.
When, however, scientific experimentation began, to appear, as a tool of. knowledge; and thinker thus realized that these general concepts in themselves were inadequate for the study of nature and the discovery of its laws and for the uncovering of the secrets of the universe, they believed sense perception and scientific observation to be the principle avenue of any pursuit of these secrets and laws.
This orientation toward sense perception in investigation generally enhanced human knowledge of the universe and broadened it to a high degree. This trend began its march by asserting that sense perception and experimentation are two of the most important tools which human reason and knowledge must employ in pursuit of the discovery of the secrets of the universe and its all-encompassing order.
Thus instead of a Greek thinker. like Aristotle, for instance, sitting in his closed room and pondering over the relationship between the motion of a body in space and the power of a body moving it, and then deciding that the motion of that body would cease with the cessation of the moving power, instead of that, Galileo began his experiments and continued his observation of moving bodies to infer a relationship of a different sort. He asserted that a body encountering an external force which moved it would not cease its motion, even when that force ceased until it encountered another force. which arrested its motion.
This empirical trend meant encouragement for investigators of nature and the laws governing its phenomena to arrive at their conclusions in two stages. The first is observation by the senses and experimentation, and the gathering of results from these. The second is a rational stage consisting of the arranging and harmonizing of these results and the interpretation of them in a general and acceptable manner.
This trend, however, as a scientific method, was not meant to take the place of reason. Nor was any scientist able to discover a secret of the universe or a law of nature simply by observation by the senses and experimentation without the aid of reason. This is because a scientist must always analyze the data gathered through observation by the senses and experimentation in order to reach conclusions through the use of his rational faculty.
We know of no great scientific investigation which has been able to dispense with the second stage in favour of: the first, or that did not go; from, the first to the second stage, as .has already been indicated. Thus the problems of the first stage would be matters of sense perception, while those of the second, conclusions based on rational proofs discerned by the mind, but not matters of direct sense perception.
Thus, for instance, with regard to the law of gravity, Newton did not feel directly the gravitational force of two bodies. Nor did he feel that this force was proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance between the centres of mass of the two bodies, and directly proportional to the product of the masses of the two bodies.1
Rather he perceived the stone as it came down towards the ground and the moon rotating around the earth and the planets around the sun. He pondered all this and endeavoured to interpret these phenomena, relying on Galileo's theory of the uniform acceleration of bodies falling or rolling down inclined planes.2
He likewise made use of Keppler's laws of planetary motion, the third of which states, “The Square of the period of rotation of a planet around the sun is proportional to the cube of its distance from it.”3In the light of all this Newton discovered the law of gravity. He supposed that, “A gravitational force of attraction between two particles is always determined by the masses and the distance between them. “4
It should have been possible. for this empirical trend as a method of investigating the order of the universe to present a new and illuminating argument in support of faith in God, exalted be He. This should have been possible, in view of the fact that this method has uncovered aspects of harmony in the universe which can be used as proofs of an intelligent and wise Creator.
Scientists, in as much as they are concerned with natural phenomena, have not interested themselves with the clarification of this problem, which has for long been considered as a metaphysical matter outside the scope of strictly scientific concern. Soon, however, new directions appeared within the discipline of philosophy, outside the scope of natural science, which endeavoured to “philosophize” this empirical, method and present it in the terminology of formal logic.
This new philosophy declared that the only means of knowledge is sense experience, and where sense perception ends human knowledge ceases. Thus whatever is inaccessible to the senses and cannot, be verified by direct experimentation, cannot be proved by any other means.
This empirical and experimental trend was used to counter the idea of faith in God, the Exalted. Since God is not a being subject to sense experience, capable of being seen and felt, there is no way of proving His existence. The method was not employed by scientists, who practised the experimental method with success, but by people with different philosophical and logical inclinations, who attempted to interpret, but misapplied, the empirical method.
They used it in accordance with their own inclinations. Gradually, these extreme approaches fell into conflict. From the philosophical point of view, for instance, they found themselves obliged to deny objective reality, that is to say, to deny the reality of the universe in which we live, as a whole and in its details. This is because, they argued, there are no means of knowledge other than the senses.
The senses introduce us to things as we perceive them, not as they are in themselves. Therefore, when we perceive something, we can assert its existence in our sense perception. As for its existence outside our consciousness, that is, its objective existence in itself, independent of and prior to our act of experiencing it, we have no proof. Thus when one sees the moon in the sky, for example, one is able only to assert his perception of the moon at that instant.
But the advocates of this new philosophy were unable to ascertain or demonstrate fully whether the moon exists in the sky in reality, or whether it had an objective existence before the viewer opened his eyes and saw it. This is like a cross-eyed person seeing things which do not exist in reality: he can assert his own perception of these things but is unable to ascertain their actual existence.
This new empirical trend in the end destroyed sense experience itself as an epistimological method, by making it the final arbiter of the limits of human knowledge. This meant that sense knowledge became a mere phenomenon of the mind, lacking objective existence independent of our consciousness and perception.
With regard to logical aspects, the logical positive school, the most recent current school in the development of empiricist philosophy, came to the conclusion that every sentence the truth or falsehood of which cannot be verified by sense experience is simply, a cluster of empty words. It is like haphazard sounds of the alphabet repeated endlessly. The sentence, on the other hand, whose truth or falsehood may be verified, must be made up of meaningful words.
If sense experience can ascertain the agreement of its purport with reality, then it must be considered a true sentence. Thus the sentence, “Rain comes down from the sky in winter” is a true sentence. The sentence, “Rain comes down from the sky in summer”, while being a meaningful sentence, is false in its purport. The sentence, “Something comes down during the `Night of Power' (Laylatu'l-qadr)'5 which can be neither seen nor felt”, has no meaning regardless of whether it is true or false. Thus any report whose truth cannot be verified by the senses is nonsense. Therefore, with reference to the above sentence, it is like saying 'daas' descends from heaven on the Night of Power ('daas' being only a nonsense syllable).
The reference to a subject such as `daas' adds nothing to the truth value of a sentence. Hence, both sentences tell us nothing, even though the second provides a subject. From this it , Follows that the sentence,! ”God exists” like saying “Daas exists”, and the two reports are equally meaningless. This is so because the existence of God, the Exalted, cannot be known through sense perception or experimentation.
This logical approach has its own inner contradiction because its own general premise cannot itself be verified by direct sense experience. In addition, it is, in its assertion, a meaningless premise. This logic, which claims that any report which sense experience cannot verify is meaningless, makes a general claim.
Every generalization, however, ipso facto goes beyond the realm of sense experience because senses can only perceive at any given moment individual objects or parts of a whole. This approach, therefore, is not only self-contradictory, but also contradicts all scientific generalizations which we employ to explain natural phenomena in general terms. This is because generalization in any form cannot be verified by sense experience: It is rather inferred from observation of concrete and, limited phenomena of sense experience.6
Fortunately, however, science did not lend such philosophical trends; any appreciable attention in its forward march and continuous evolution: Instead, scientists always began with sense perception and experimentation in their endeavour to discover the universe, but then went beyond this narrow approach which such schools of philosophy or logic had imposed on scientific investigation. Science must in the end endeavour to rationally arrange these phenomena within the framework of general laws and then go on to discover and explain their inter-relationships.
The influence of these extremist philosophical schools has greatly diminished even over the materialistic schools of philosophy. The new materialistic philosophy, as chiefly represented by the advocates of dialectical materialism, has clearly rejected these trends. Dialectical materialism gave itself the right to go beyond the framework of sense perception and experimentation with which a scientist begins his investigation; it sought to go even beyond the second stage with which a scientist must conclude his investigation. This was necessary in order for the investigator to be able to compare the various results `of scientific theories and arrange them under a general theoretical set of rules and specify the relations between natural phenomena which these results presuppose.
Dialectical materialism, which is heir to materialistic thought down through history, has itself become an abstract philosophy from the point of view of these modern empirical extremist philosophical positions. The new materialistic philosophy has finally arrived at a view of the world within a dialectical framework.
This means that both materialistic and theistic thought have reached a consensus on the need to transcend the limits of sense experience, by which the new extremist materialistic schools advocated that science and philosophy be bound. It then becomes possible for investigation and knowledge to utilise two stages. The first consists of collecting the results of sense experience and experimentation and the second of interpreting these results theoretically and rationally.
The actual disagreement between the theistic and materialistic approaches is concerned with the way in which the conclusions reached in the second stage are to be interpreted. Materialism rejects any interpretation, which presupposes the, existence of wise creator, while this insists that the interpretation of these results can never. be ultimately convincing without the assumption of a wise Creator.
We shall now present two modes of demonstration of the existence of the wise Creator, praised and exalted be He. In each, the results of sense experience and experimentation will be presented on the one hand, and the rational influence in proof of our argument on the other. We shall call the first mode the scientific or inductive proof (ad-dalil al-istiqra'i) and the second the philosophical proof (ad-dalil al-falsafi) We must first, however, explain what we mean by scientific proof.
Scientific argument is any proof which depends on sense experience and experimentation. It follows, moreover, the method of inductive demonstration, which is based on the principle of the computation of probability (hisab al-ihtimalat). Hence, the method we shall follow, in demonstrating the existence of the Creator is scientific proof based on the method of inductive argument, which itself rests on the computation of probabilities.
(The method of the argument is not the argument itself. One may, for instance, demonstrate that the sun is bigger than the moon because scientists say so: The method employed here is the acceptance of` the statement of scientists as a proof of the truth. You may argue that someone will die soon because you saw in a dream that that person actually died. The method employed here is the use of dreams as an argument for the truth.
Likewise, you may argue that the earth is a big bipolar magnetic field, possessing two poles, one negative, the other positive. The argument in this case is based on the fact that the needle of a compass which is set in a horizontal position faces north and south. The method followed here is the use of the experiment as proof. Thus the validity of any argument is fundamentally related to the method on which it depends.)
For this reason we refer to the scientific argument for the existence of the Creator as the inductive proof. It will be our task now to clarify this method.
It has already been observed that the scientific argument for the existence of the Creator follows the method of inductive demonstration, which is based on the computation of probability. We wish, however, before presenting this argument, to explain this method and then to evaluate it in order to determine the extent to which it can be relied upon in the discovery of the truth of things.
The inductive method based on the computation of probability has an extremely complex and highly precise structure. Therefore, a complete and precise evaluation of this method can be achieved only through a detailed and thorough analysis of the logical foundations of induction (al-Usus al-mantiqiyyah lil-istiqra') as well as the theory of probability.'7
Our purpose here is, however, to avoid difficult and complicated constructions and analysis not readily accessible to the average reader. We shall therefore do two things; first, delimit the demonstrative method we shall follow and explain its steps briefly and succinctly. We shall secondly, evaluate this method and determine its validity. We shall do this not through a logical analysis of the method and the discovery of its logical and mathematical bases, but through practical applications acceptable to any rational human being.
It must be stated at this point that the method we use in demonstrating the existence of the wise Creator is the same method we confidently employ in our daily life as well as in our scientific experiments. What follows will provide sufficient evidence of the fact that the method of demonstration of the existence of a wise Creator is the same method we use to prove the truths of everyday reality as well as scientific truths. Since, therefore, we trust this method with regard to the reality of everyday life, we must trust it also with regard to the proof of the wise Creator, who is the source of all truth.
You receive a letter in the mail, and you conclude from merely reading it that it is from your brother. Similarly, when one sees that a certain physician has succeeded in curing many illnesses, one trusts this physician and considers him to be a skillful one. Likewise, if after taking penicillin ten times, one found each time that his body reacted to it in the same negative manner, one would conclude that he had an allergy to penicillin. In all these cases, the method used is the inductive method based on the computation of probability.
Similarly, with regard to natural science, when a certain scientist had observed some particular characteristics of the solar system in the course of his research, he was able to conclude that these separate bodies had all been a part of the sun from which they had later separated. When this same scientist monitored the paths of planetary movements, he was able to deduce the existence of the planet Neptune, even before he was able to observe the planet with his sense of vision.
Science, in light of special phenomena, was also able to postulate the existence of electrons before the discovery of the cloud chamber. Scientists, in all these cases, have used the inductive method of proof, based on the computation of probability: We shall employ the same method in our argument for the existence of they wise Creator.
The method of inductive argument based on the computation of probability may be summarized clearly and simply in the following five steps:
1. We encounter on the level of sense perception and experimentation numerous phenomena.
2. After observing and collecting our date, we go on to interpret them. What is required in this stage is to find a suitable hypothesis on the basis of which we can interpret and justify these phenomena. By its being suitable for the interpretation of these phenomena, we mean that if it is actually established it must be inherent in, or at least in consonance with, all these phenomena which themselves actually exist.
3. We notice that the hypothesis, if it were not suitable and actually established, would indicate that the possibility of the existence of the phenomena is very scant. In other words, to suppose the incorrectness of the hypothesis would mean `that the degree of probability of the existence of the phenomena, compared with the probability of their non-existence, or the non-existence of at least one of them, is very small, one in a hundred or one in a thousand, and so forth.
4. We therefore conclude that the hypothesis must be true, a fact which we infer from our sense experience of the phenomena on which it is based, as we have seen in step one.
5. The degree of verifiability by the phenomena of the hypothesis offered in the second step is directly related to the probability of the existence of these phenomena and inversely related to the probability of their non-existence. (We mean by the probability of their non-existence either their non-existence altogether or that of at least one of them.) If we assume the incorrectness of the hypothesis, even then the smaller this ration, the greater would be the degree of verifiability, so that in many ordinary cases it could attain a degree of absolute certainty. (This according to the second stage of proof by induction)” 8
There are, in reality, precise measures or regulations for evaluating degrees of probability based on the theory of probability. In ordinary everyday situations, people apply these measures unconsciously in ways that are very close to their correct application. For this reason, we shall limit ourselves to the evaluation of this natural application without entering into the logical and mathematical principles of its evaluation.9
These are, then, the steps which we usually follow in any inductive argument based on the computation of probability, whether in our every day life on the level of scientific investigation, or in proof of the existence of the wise Creator, praised and exalted be He.
We shall, as we have already promised, evaluate this method in the light of its practical application with illustrations from ordinary everyday life. We have already observed that when you receive a letter in the` mail, and upon reading it conclude that it is from your brother and not from another person who happens to like you and wishes to correspond with you, you are employing the method of inductive proof based on the computation of probabilities. The problem of the identity of the sender would be solved by using the following steps.
1. You observe many indications such as the letter bears a name which agrees completely with that of your brother. The handwriting is that of your brother and the style of writing and format are those usually employed by your brother. In addition, even the mistakes and items of information are those usually made, or supplied by your brother. All this you infer from the habits and ways of thinking of your brother. The letter would, moreover, express opinions and ask for things which you know to expect from your brother.
2. In the second step you ask, “Did my brother actually send this letter to me, it is it from another person with the same name?” Here you would find in the indications previously observed sufficient bases for a good hypothesis for interpreting and justifying these data as evidence of the fact that the letter was in reality from your brother. Conversely, if you were led to conclude that the letter was , from your brother, then all the data observed in the first step would. have to be provided.
3. In the third step you would further ask the following question: “If this letter, was not from my brother, but from another person then what is the degree of probability of all these indications and characteristics being simultaneously present for me to observe in the first step?” Such a possibility requires a large number of assumptions. This is because for us to accept all these indications and characteristics we must first assume that another person bears the same name as the brother. He must further resemble him in all the characteristics above discussed. The possibility for such a large number of coincidences to happen simultaneously is slight indeed. Moreover, as the number of the coincidences that must be assumed increases, the probability of their simultaneous occurrence is conversely diminished.
The logical principles of induction teach us the way to measure probability and explain how it diminishes. They further explain how probability decreases in proportion to the assumptions it requires. We need not enter into the details of all this because it is a complex subject too difficult for the average reader to comprehend. Fortunately, however, perceiving low probability does not depend on the :understanding of these details, as for example; the falling of a man from a high place to the ground does not depend on his understanding of the force of gravity or his, knowledge of the scientific principles of gravity. Thus the recipient of the letter requires nothing to infer that the existence of a person resembling his brother in all the coincidences and characteristics above discussed, is very improbable.
4. In the fourth step, you would reason as follows. Since the congruence of all these occurrences is very improbable, if you were to suppose that the letter was not from your brother, there would then be a far greater likelihood that the letter was from your brother because these coincidences do actually exist.
5. In the fifth step, you would connect the conclusion of the fourth step, i.e., the possibility that the letter was from your brother, with the small degree of probability of the existence of all the characteristics of the letter without it being from your brother. The connection between these two steps means that the possibility of the letter being from your brother negates the probability of its being from someone else, in inverse proportion. Thus the smaller the degree of probability; the greater would be the opposite likelihood and the more persuasive. If moreover there was no a opposing evidence, then the five steps just presented provide convincing evidence of the validity of the method on the level of everyday life.
Let us now take another example, this time from the realm of scientific knowledge, where the method may be employed to demonstrate a scientific theory. Let us consider the theory concerning the development of the planets and their separation from the sun. The nine planets were originally part of the sun from which they separated as burning pieces millions of years ago. Scientists generally agree with regard to the principle of the theory, but differ concerning the cause of the separation of these pieces from the sun. Demonstration of the principle on which they agree would follow these steps.
i. Scientists have observed a number of phenomena which they perceived by means of the senses and experimentation. These are:
a. The rotation of the earth around the sun is in harmony with the rotation of the sun around its axis each complete rotation being from west to east.
b. The rotation of the earth around its axis is concurrent with the rotation of the sun around its axis, that is, from west to east.
c. The earth rotates around the sun in an orbit parallel to the equatorial line of the sun, so that the sun would resemble a pole and the earth a point rotating around it, like a millstone.
d. The elements of which the earth is made are for the most part found in the sun as well.
e. There is a close similarity between the elements of the earth and those of the sun in their chemical composition, in both hydrogen predominates.
f. The speed of the rotation of the earth around the sun and around its own axis is in harmony with that of the rotation of the sun around its axis.
g. There is a measure of agreement between the age of the earth and the age of the sun, according to the calculations of scientists.
h. The inside of the earth is hot, which proves that the earth in its early stages was very hot.
ii. These were some of the phenomena which, scientists observed through sense experience and experimentation in the: first step. In the second, they decided that there is a hypothesis by which all these phenomena could be explained. This means that if the hypothesis were to be actually true, then it would inherently belong to these phenomena and justify them. The hypothesis holds that the earth was part of the sun from which it separated, for whatever reasons. With this assumption, we can explain the foregoing phenomena.
The first is the fact that the harmony of the rotation of the earth around the sun and that of the sun around its own axis is due to the motion of both being from west to east. The reason for this harmony becomes clear on the basis of the above hypothesis, which further holds that if part of any body in motion is separated from it while remaining drawn towards it by a thread or some other means, that separated part will always move in the same original orbit in accordance with the law of continuity.
As for the second phenomenon, which is the harmony of the rotation of the earth around its axis with the rotation of the sun around its axis this also can be sufficiently explained by the same hypothesis and according to the same law. The same holds for the third phenomenon as well. As for the fourth and fifth phenomena, which demonstrate a close similarity of composition and proportion of the' elements which make up the earth and the sun, they become self evident on the basis of the fact that the earth was part of the sun.
The elements of a part must be those of the whole. The sixth phenomenon, namely, the harmony between the speed of the earth's rotation around the sun and around its axis and that of the sun around its axis becomes clear because we know that both motions of the earth originated from the motion of the sun. This we know on the basis of our earlier hypothesis, which pre-supposes the separation of the earth from the sun. This not only explains the observed harmony, but also delineates its cause. On the basis of the same hypothesis, we can explain the similarity in age of the two bodies, which is our seventh phenomenon. Likewise, the eighth, which is the intense heat-of the earth in its early stages, can be explained on the basis of the same hypothesis.
iii. If we were to suppose that the theory of the separation of the earth: from the sun is not true, it would be highly unlikely for all these phenomena to exist together and be closely connected. In this case, they would simply be a collection of coincidences without any intelligible connection among them. Therefore, the probability of their existence, if we suppose the falsity of our theory, would be very small indeed. This is because this supposition would require a large number of hypotheses for the explanation of these phenomena.
With regard to the harmony between the motion of the earth around the sun and the sun around its own axis, from west to east, we would have to assume that the earth was a body far away from the sun, created independently or part of another sun from which it separated subsequently drawing near to our sun. We would also have to suppose that this earth, travelling freely in space, upon entering its orbit around the sun entered at a point west of the sun. For this reason, it continues to rotate from west to east, that is, in the direction of the sun's own rotation around its axis. If it had instead entered at a point east of the sun, it would have moved from east to west.
As for the harmony between the rotation of the earth around its axis and the rotation of the sun around its axis from west to east, we would have to suppose that the other sun from which the earth separated was itself rotating from west to east. As for the rotation of the earth around the sun, in an orbit parallel to the equatorial line of the sun, we would likewise have to suppose that the other sun from which the earth separated was at that moment situated in the same plane as the equatorial line of our sun.
As for the similarity of the elements of the earth and the sun and their composition, we would have to suppose that the other sun from which the earth separated contained the same elements and in similar proportion. As for the speed of the rotation of the earth around the sun and around its own axis, being harmonious with the speed of the sun's rotation around its axis, we would have to suppose that the other sun from which the earth separated exploded. in a way which gave the moving earth a speed similar to that of our sun.
As for the age of the sun and the earth and the heat of the earth in the early stages of its development, we would, have to suppose that the earth separated from another sun having the, same, age as our sun and that it separated in a manner which led to its intense heat. Thus we see that the possibility of the simultaneous existence of all these phenomena, on the principle of the invalidity of the theory of the separation of the earth from our sun, requires a large number of coincidences, the probability of whose simultaneous occurrence is very small. In contrast, the separation theory alone is sufficient for explaining these phenomena and connecting them together.
iv. In the fourth step we conclude that since the coincidence of all these phenomena, which we observe in the earth, is improbable except to a very small degree, on the assumption that the earth was not separated from our sun; it must be highly probable (since all these phenomena do indeed exist) that the earth did indeed separate from our sun.
v. In the fifth and last step, we connect the possibility of the separation hypothesis, as inferred in the fourth step, with the low probability of the coincidence of the phenomena in the earth without its having been separated from the sun as we decided in the third step: The connection between these two steps would show a strong improbability for the third step and conversely a high probability for the fourth. We are able by means of this method to demonstrate the separation of the earth from the sun, by which means scientists achieve absolute conviction of this fact.
After having become acquainted with the general method of the inductive argument based on the computation of probabilities, and evaluated it through the foregoing applications, we shall now proceed to apply it to the demonstration of the existence of the wise Creator. We shall follow the same steps as before.
1. We notice a constant concord between a vast number of individual phenomena and man's needs as a living being and the continuation of life for him. We find for instance, that any change or substitution of any of these phenomena could mean the extinction of human life on this earth, or at least its paralysis. We shall now give a few examples of these phenomena.
The earth receives from the sun a quantity of heat sufficient for the development of life and the fulfillment of the needs of living beings for heat, no more and no less. It has been observed that the distance separating the earth from the sun is-in complete harmony with the-amount of heat required for the existence of life on this earth. Had this distance been double its present measure, there would have not been enough heat to support life on earth.
Conversely, if it were half its present measure, the heat would have been too intense for life to endure. We observe further that the earth's crust and the oceans together contain in their various chemical compounds a preponderant quantity of oxygen, such that it constitutes eight-tenths of all of the water in the world. In spite of this, and in spite of the great tendency of oxygen to combine with other chemical elements, still a portion of it remains free in order for it to participate in the formation of air.
This portion provides one of the most essential conditions of life because all living beings, humans as well as animals, require it for breathing. Were all the oxygen on earth to be combined with other elements, it would not have been possible for life to exist. It has been further observed that the quantity of pure oxygen available accords perfectly with man's needs in his everyday practical life.
The air contains twenty-one percent oxygen had this ratio been greater, the environment would have been constantly, threatened with outbreaks of fire. Had this ratio, on the other hand, been smaller, life would have been difficult if not impossible. Nor would fire have been available in: sufficient quantity to fulfill its proper functions.
We observe another natural phenomenon which repeats itself millions of times throughout life. It is an activity which ensures the availability of a specific quantity of oxygen all the time. When humans and animals breathe in air, they inhale oxygen which is received by the blood and distributed throughout the body. Oxygen then begins the process of combustion of the food in the body, from which carbon dioxide is produced.
Carbon dioxide then passes into the lungs and is exhaled, thus ensuring a constant flow of this gas. Carbon dioxide is in turn a necessary condition for plant life. Plants separate oxygen from it, which they breathe out into the air, purified and ready to be breathed in again. Through this exchange between animals and plants, it is possible to retain a constant quantity of oxygen and without it- this gas would have been unavailable and human life would never have been possible.
This exchange, moreover, is the result of thousands of natural phenomena which have coincided in order to produce this specific phenomena which is in perfect accord with the requirements of life. We further observe that nitrogen, because it is a heavy gas, has a tendency to descend. Thus when it combines with oxygen in the air it becomes light enough to be useful for life on earth. We observe also that the quantities of both oxygen and nitrogen which remain free in the air are in perfect proportion for the one to lighten the other. Were oxygen to increase or nitrogen to diminish, this process could not take place.
We notice that the air in the earth remains at a constant amount, not exceeding one millionth of the global mass. This quantity is just right to ensure the possibility of human life. Had it been greater or smaller, life would be difficult or even impossible. This is because its increase would have meant a greater pressure on human beings which they would not have been able to support. Like wise, any decrease in it would make it possible for meteors, which we see every day to burn all living things, and- even to penetrate the earths itself.
We further notice that the earth's crust, which absorbs carbon dioxide and oxygen, is so, structured that it cannot absorb them completely. Had it been thicker, it would have absorbed them, and plants, animals and men would have perished. Similarly, the distance of the moon from the earth is of a specific measure necessary for making human life on earth possible. Had this distance been relatively smaller, the tide caused by the moon would have been so strong as to move mountains from their places.
We observe many instincts in living beings. Even though an instinct is an abstract notion, incapable of observation by direct sense experience, the conduct which such instincts express is not abstract. It is, rather, a phenomenon perfectly capable of scientific observation. Instinctive conduct resulting from thousands of instincts with which we become acquainted in our daily life and scientific investigation, is in constant accord with the aim of promoting and protecting life. Such instinctive conduct is often on a high level of complexity and technical skill. If we were to break down this conduct into its individual components, we see that every component is perfectly suited for the promotion and protection of life.
The physiological structure of man exhibits millions of natural, physiological phenomena. Yet each phenomenon, both in its physiological role and structure, as well as in its close link with all other phenomena is always suited to the job of promoting life and protecting it.
Let us consider, for instance, the group of phenomena which work together to produce the faculty of sight and help us to sense things around us in useful ways. The lens in the eye refracts images onto the, retina which is made up of nine layers. The last layer contains millions of rods and cones all arranged in such a way as to make possible the faculty of sight.
There is one anomaly, namely, the image which is reflected onto the retina, which is reversed. This, however, is only a slight anomaly, because sight itself is not involved at this stage. Instead, the image is corrected by millions of nerves leading to the brain, where it is transmitted from the eye. Only then is the process of seeing complete, at which stage it begins to play its important role in the overall purpose of promoting life.
Even beauty, fragrance and splendour as natural phenomena are found to exist in environments suited for their role of promoting life.
Thus flowers which are usually pollinated by insects are especially attractive, possessing bright, beautiful colours and enticing fragrances in order to attract the insect and therefore facilitate the process of pollination. Flowers, which are pollinated by air, on the other hand, do not possess these characteristics. The phenomenon of sexual pairs or mates in its general similarity between the physical structure of male and female in man, animals and plants, and in sexual interaction for the perpetuity of life, is yet another manifestation of the harmony of nature with the function of promoting life.
“If you were to reckon up the dimensions of God's favour, you would not be able to compute them; surely God is ever forgiving, ever merciful“ (Qur'an, 16:18)
2. We find that, in millions of cases, the continuous harmony between natural phenomena and the process of insuring and promoting life may be explained by a single hypothesis which postulates a wise Creator of this universe who willed to provide this earth with the elements of life and Himself direct their functions. This hypothesis presupposes all these instances of harmony.
3. In the third step, we pose the following question: If the hypothesis of a wise creator were not actually demonstrable, what would the possibility of the existence of all these congruences between natural phenomena and the process of life preservation be without there being an intended purpose for this order?
It is clear that the probability of this alternative must presuppose a vast number of coincidences. If, as we saw in a previous example, the possibility is very remote that the letter you received was not from your brother but from another person resembling him in all respects (since the possibility of resemblance of one thousand characteristics is very small), how great do you think is the probability that this earth on which we live was the creation of non-teleological matter, one which resembles the wise Creator in millions of attributes?
4. In the fourth step we conclude that the hypothesis presented in: the second step which postulates a Wise creator, is valid.
5. In the fifth step, we connect this prevailing possibility with the small probability which we postulated in the hypothesis of the third step. Since probability decreases as the number of coincidences in the contrary increases, it is natural for the degree of this probability to become so small that it cannot in any way compare with the high probability of the third step in the demonstration of any scientific law.
This is because the number of coincidences which must be postulated in the third step is greater than that of the possibilities of the opposite case. Hence, every probability of this kind must in the end disappear.10 Thus we reach the incontrovertible conclusion: that there is a wise creator of this universe as the innumerable signs (ayat) of His power and wisdom in the universe testify.
“We shall show them our signs in the furthest regions and in, themselves so that it may become manifest to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness over all things?“ (Qur'an, 41:53)
“Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth; and the alternation of night and day; and the ship which sails over the sea, laden with goods useful to humankind; and the water which God has sent from heaven to revive with it the earth after its death, and dispersed in it every kind of beast; and the change of the winds; and the clouds, made to serve between heaven and earth, are signs for people who understand“ (Qur'an, 2:164)
“Turn your gaze again (to heaven) do you perceive any flaw? Then turn your gaze twice again; your sight shall return to you dull and discomforted.“ (Qur'an, 67:3 -4)
Before embarking on, the discussion of a philosophical argument for the existence of the Creator, praised and exalted be He, we must say a word about the philosophical argument and its parts and the difference between it and the scientific argument. Argument itself may be considered under three categories: the mathematical, the scientific and the philosophical.
The mathematical argument is employed in the area of mathematical sciences and formal logic (al-mantiq as-suri ash-shakli). This argument rests on one fundamental principle, the principle of non-contradiction, which asserts that A is A and will always remain A. Any argument based exclusively on this principle and its consequences, we call the mathematical argument. Its validity is admitted by everyone.
The scientific argument is usually employed in the domain of the natural sciences. It rests on data capable of proof either, through sense experience or scientific induction, in addition to mathematical proof.
The philosophical argument, depends for its establishment on objective reality in the external world, on intellectual knowledge which needs no empirical verification or sense experience. 'It presupposes, however, mathematical proof. This does not necessarily mean that the philosophical argument does not actually rely on information obtained through sense perception or the inductive method. It rather means that it does not regard these as sufficient evidence, and therefore relies on the intellectual information within the context of the demonstrative method applied to prove a case which had been established.
The philosophical argument, therefore, differs from the scientific argument in the way in which it deals with intellectual information which remains outside the scope of the mathematical argument. On the basis of our discussion so far of the notion of the philosophical argument, we must face the following question: Is it possible to rely simply on intellectual information or ideas which the mind intuits without recourse to sense perception, experimentation or scientific induction?
The answer to this question must be in the affirmative. These are the data of our understanding, the validity of which is accepted by all such as the principle of non-contradiction, on which are based all pure mathematical sciences. Its is a principle whose validity we establish on the basis of intellectual reasoning, and not on the basis of supporting evidence and experiments within the scope of the inductive method.
The proof of this is that the degree of our trust in this principle is not affected by the number of experiments and verifications which do not agree with it. Let us take a concrete example: two plus two equals four. Our belief in the validity of this simple mathematical equation is too firm to need further verification. We would not even be ready to listen to any argument in proof of the opposite fact. nor would we believe anyone telling us two plus two in one unique case equals five or three. This means that our belief in this truth has no connection with sense perception or experimentation, for in that case it would be affected by them positively and negatively.
If we actually admit the truth of this principle, in spite of its independence from sense perception and experimentation, it is natural for us to admit that it is sometimes possible for, us to trust the validity of our intellectual perceptions on which depends the philosophical argument. In other words, the rejection of the philosophical argument simply because it is based on intellectual perceptions which do not rest on empirical or inductive knowledge, must also mean the rejection of the mathematical because it rests on the principle of non-contradiction, in which our belief depends neither on experimentation nor induction.”11
This argument depends on the following three principles. The first is the axiom which asserts that every effect has a cause from which it derives its existence. This is a truth which man perceives intuitively and which scientific induction confirms. The second is the principle which asserts that whatever differing degrees of possibility, fullness and perfection exist, it is impossible for the less possible, less complete or less perfect to be the cause of that which is higher than itself.
Temperature, knowledge and light are of varying degrees of intensity and perfection. It is impossible for a higher degree of temperature to emanate from one lower than itself. It is likewise impossible for a person to obtain a good knowledge of the English language from one who himself has little or no knowledge of it. Nor is it possible for a feeble source of light to be the cause of a source greater than itself.
This is because every higher degree constitutes a qualitative and quantitative increase over the one below it. This quantitative increase cannot be bestowed by one not in possession of it. When you wish to finance a project from your own capital, you cannot put into this project an amount greater than that you already have.
The third principle is the assertion that matter, in its continuous evolution, assumes various levels of change and intensity. Thus even a small particle which has no life and is not a vital component, constitutes an aspect of being of matter. Protoplasm, which is the essential component of life in plants and animals, constitutes a higher form of existence, of matter. The amoeba, which is a microscopic unicellular animal, constitutes a still higher step in the evolution of matter. Man, as a living, feeling and thinking being must be considered to be the highest form of being in his universe.
These different forms of being raise the following question: Is the difference among them simply a quantitative one in the number of particles and elements and the mechanical relation among these, or is it a qualitative and quantitative difference, expressing a variety of degrees of being and stages of evolution and perfection? In other words, is the difference between man and the dust of which he was made simply one of number, or is it a difference between two levels of being and two stages of evolution and perfection, just like the difference between a feeble and a brilliant source of light?
Ever since man put this question to himself, he has believed, through his a priori intuition (fitrah), that these forms constitute levels of being and different stages of perfection attained by life, wherein the human form is the highest manifestation of being in matter. This high level moreover is not in itself the limit of evolution. Rather, as life attains new and higher forms, it manifests higher levels of being. Hence the life of a living, feeling and thinking being constitutes a higher and fuller degree of being than the life of plants and so on.
Materialistic philosophy, however, for over a century, has rejected this idea and adopted instead a mechanical view of the universe. According to this view, the outside world is made up of small molecules moved by a simple homogeneous electro-magnetic forces attracting and repelling them within the framework of general laws. That is to say, the function of this force is limited to influencing the interrelated motion of these molecules from one locus to another. Through this motion of attraction and repulsion, these molecules unite and separate to produce different material forms.
On this basis, mechanical materialism limited evolution to the motion of material particles from one locus to another in space. It explained the variety of material forms by the motion of coalescence, separation and distribution of material particles without any novelty occurring in this process. Matter, according to this view neither grows nor attains a higher level of being through its evolution; it only coalesces and scatters in various ways like a piece of dough which, you may -manipulate into various states, although remaining a piece of dough in. your hand without any essential change.
This hypothesis was inspired by the science of mechanics, which was the first branch of science to be allowed to develop freely its methods of investigation. The discovery by this science of the laws of mechanical motion and the explanations it offered of familiar motions of ordinary bodies, encouraged the development of this hypothesis, which took into account the motion of stars in space.
The constant growth of knowledge and the introduction of scientific methods of investigation into many fields of study, demonstrated the invalidity of this hypothesis and its inability to explain all motions in space mechanically. It also demonstrated its inadequacy in subsuming all material forms under the mechanical motion of bodies and particles.
Science thus confirmed what man had perceived in his pure intuitive state (fitrah), namely that the diversity of material forms is not simply the result of the motion of material bodies from one place to another. Rather, it is the result of a variety of quantitative and qualitative evolutionary processes. It has also been proven through scientific experiments that no numerical structure of molecules would constitute life, feeling and thought.
This leads us to suppositions which are completely different from those advanced by mechanical materialism, because we discern in life, feeling and thought an actual process of growth of matter and a characteristic evolution in the degrees of its existence. This is true regardless of whether the content of this characteristic evolution is itself material or nonmaterial.
To recapitulate, these are the three problems with which we have been concerned:
1. Every effect has a cause.
2. The lower cannot be the cause of something higher than itself, with regard to degrees of being.
3. The diversity of degrees of being in this universe and the variety in its form are qualitative.
In light of these three issues, we can clearly discern an actual development in quantitatively evolved forms, which: means the manifestation of the fullness of being in matter and. a quantitative. increase in it.
We should therefore ask; “Where did this increase come from, and how did this new multiplicity appear, since every effect must have a cause?” There are two answers to this question. The first is that it originated in matter itself. Matter which has no life, feeling or thought created through its process of evolution life, feeling and thought. This is to say a lower form of matter was itself the cause of a higher form without itself possessing the properties of being enabling it to perform such a function.
This answer, however, contradicts our second principle, which asserts that a lower form cannot be the cause of another greater than it and richer in being. Thus, the idea that dead matter, devoid of the pulsation of life can grant itself or another matter life, feeling and thought, is like the idea of someone who has no knowledge of the English language, nonetheless attempting to teach it to others; or that of a dim light emanating a light greater than it in brilliance, such as the light of the sun; or that of a poor man with no capital, attempting to finance big projects.
The second answer to this, question is that this additional property which matter manifests through its evolution, must have originated from a source which is in full possession of it. This source is God; the Lord of the worlds, praised and exalted be He. The growth of matter, therefore is no more than the creative process of growth and development which God manifests in His wisdom, ordinance and lordship over all things
We have created man from a piece of clay. Then We made him into a sperm in a secure receptacle. Then We made the sperm a blood clot; thereafter, We made the blood-clot into a lump of flesh; then We made the piece of flesh into bones; then We clothed the bones with , flesh; thereafter We brought him into being as another creature; blessed therefore is God, the best of creators. (Qura'n; 23:12-14)
This is the only answer that, would harmonize with the three principles presented above. It alone can offer a reasonable explanation of the process of growth and completeness of the forms of being on the stage of this vast universe. To this argument, the noble Qur'an points in a large number of its verses, with which it addresses the uncorrupted, original intuition (fitrah) of man and his untainted reason.
“Have you then considered the sperm that you sow? Do you create it or are rather We the Creator?“ (Qur'an, 56:58-59)
“Have you then considered that which you sow? Do you sow it or are rather We the Sower?“ (Qur'an, 56:63-64)
“Have you then considered the fire which you kindle? Did 'you create its tree or are rather We the Creator?“ (Qur'an, 56:71-72)
“Among His signs is that He created you from dust, then behold, you are humans, scattering yourselves about.“ (Qur'an, 30:20)
We shall now indicate the attitude of materialism toward this argument. Materialism, as a mechanical philosophy, is not obliged to consider this argument. This is because, as we have already observed, it explains life, feeling and thought as forms of the coalescence and separation of particles and molecules. This operation results in no novelty as such, except that of the motion of. particles in accordance with a mechanical law.
Neo-materialism, however because it admits the principle of quantitative and qualitative evolution of matter through these forms, encounters some difficulty from this argument. It has chosen a method for the explanation of this qualitative evolution which can harmonize with the second problem already discussed and its own desire to regard matter as itself sufficient for the explanation of its own evolutionary stages.
This method holds matter to be the source of fulfillment, and to thus provided the necessary properties for the process of its own qualitative evolution. This it does, not in the same way in which a poor man would attempt to finance large projects, but because all the forms and properties of this evolution are latent in matter from the very' beginning. Thus the chicken is present in the egg, gas in water and so forth.
The question of how matter could at one and the same time be egg and chicken, or water and gas, dialectical materialism answered by asserting that although this is a contradiction, contradiction is the general law of nature. Everything innately contains its opposite with which it is in continuous struggle. Through this struggle of two opposites, a third inner contradiction arises and grows until it becomes the synthesis of the two opposites. Thus, it causes change in matter,12 such as an egg exploding suddenly and a chicken bursting out from it. Through this process, matter achieves its perfection continuously, in that the resulting synthesis constitutes the future, or next step forward.
In light of all this, we notice the following. What neo-materialism means precisely by its assertion that a thing contains its opposite must be one of the following:
1. It may mean that the egg and the chicken are two opposites or antagonistic forms, and that the egg makes the chicken and bestows on it the qualities of life, that is to say, a dead thing can give birth to a living being and make life. This is Exactly like a poor man attempting to finance large projects; it contradicts the a priori principle just discussed.
2. Does neo-materialism mean, on the other land, that the egg does not make the chicken, but rather brings it forth, since it was already latent in the egg? Thus an egg while being an egg, was at the same time a chicken, just like a picture which looks different from different. angles. It is obvious that if the egg is at one and the same time a chicken, there is no process of development or fulfillment in the egg becoming a chicken. This is because whatever comes into being through this process, was already in existence. It is like a man taking out of his pocket money which, while in his hand, was in his pocket.
For any process of growth to take place, that is, for anything new to actually occur through the process of an egg becoming a chicken, we are obliged to suppose that the egg was not previously a chicken but a chicken in the making, or something capable of becoming a chicken. In this way an egg becomes different from a stone, which can never become a chicken, as an egg can within specific conditions and circumstances. The mere potentiality of a thing does not necessarily mean its actualization. Hence, if an egg is actualized into a chicken, the mere possibility of this is not enough to explain the actual event.
If the various forms which matter takes were to be the result of its internal opposites, then the variety of forms must be explained by the variety of these inner opposites or contradictions. The egg, for example, has its own contradictions, which are different from those of water. For this reason, its contradictions result in the chicken while those of water result in gas.
This proposition becomes obvious when we consider the primary stages in the process of differentiation among material forms at the level of particles, which constitute the basic units of the material universe, such as protons, electrons, neutrons, anti-protons, anti-electrons (positrons) and photons.
Did every particle take a special form on the basis of its inner contradictions so that a proton was concealed in its own material particle and subsequently came forth as a result of motion and struggle as in the case of the egg and the chicken? If we suppose this then how can we account for the variety of forms which these particles have taken, since this presupposes, according to the logic of inner contradiction, that these particles must themselves be different and valid in their inner contradictions. That is to say, they must be different with regard to their inner characteristics.
We know that modern science tends to the view of the essential unity, of matter, and that the inner content of matter is one. Moreover, the different forms which matter assumes are not substitutes for a single and constant content. Otherwise, it would have been possible for a proton to become a neutron and vice versa; that is, it would have been possible for the molecule to change its form as well as the atom and particle, in spite of the unity and constancy of the content. This would mean that the content is one, although forms vary. If so, how can we suppose that all these different forms result from inner contradictions.
The example of the egg and chicken is itself useful in explaining this position. In order for forms to assume their characteristic variety in different eggs through their inner contradictions, it is necessary that eggs be different in their inner structure. The egg of a hen and that of another bird produce two different birds. If, on the other hand, the two eggs were those of a hen, then we could not suppose that their inner contradiction would produce two different forms.
Thus we see that the explanation of material forms offered by neo-materialism, on the basis of inner contradiction on the one hand, and the trend of modern science with its insistence on the unity of matter on the other, have developed along two completely divergent lines.
The third alternative is the view that holds that the egg consists of two independent opposites, each possessing its special mode of existence; the one being the portion of the egg concerned with fertilization, the other the rest of the egg's content. These two opposites engage in a continuous struggle until the fertilized portion prevails and the egg becomes a chicken. This kind of struggle is familiar in the life of human beings and has been for long recognized both in their daily lives and their intellectual life.
Why, it must be objected, must we consider the interaction between the fertilized portion and the rest of the egg the struggle of opposites? Why should we consider the interaction between the dust particles, its soil and the air, or the interaction between the embryo in the mother's womb and the nutritive materials it obtains from the mother's body a struggle between opposites? This in fact is no more, than a designation; no better than saying that, one form is intergrated into or unified with another form.
Even, if we grant that this interaction must be called, a struggle the problem remains unsolved as long as we admit that this interaction leads to a new third form which is a numerical addition to the two opposites. The question remains, where did this additional form come from? Did it come from the two struggling opposites, even though they both lacked it? It must be remembered that a thing cannot give something else which it does not possess, as we have argued in the second of our three principles just presented.
We are not aware of any instance in nature wherein the struggle between two opposites is the real cause of growth. How could a being participate in the growth of its own opposite through a struggle against it when struggle means a degree of resistance and rejection. Resistance, as we know, diminishes the energy of growth in the thing resisted instead of helping it to achieve it.
We know that a swimmer, when he encounters high waves, finds his movements hampered to a high degree rather than enhanced. If, therefore, the struggle between opposites however considered, were to be the cause of the growth and evolution of the egg into a chicken where is the growth caused by struggle of opposites of water into gas and its return into water?
Nature reveals that when opposites coincide or unite, the result is not growth, but the destruction of both opposites. Thus the positive proton, which constitutes the cornerstone of the atom, and which carries a charge of positive energy, has as its counterpart a negative proton. Similarly, the negative electron which moves in the orbit of an atom has its opposite counterpart. When these two opposites meet, a process of atomic destruction takes place which causes the virtual disappearance of matter, as the resulting energy is released and scattered in space.
We conclude from all this that the motion of matter without provision from and direction by an external source could not cause real growth or evolution to a higher and more specialized stage. It is therefore necessary in order for matter to grow and rise into higher planes of existence, such as life, feeling and thought, that there be a Lord who Himself enjoys these characteristics and is able to bestow them on matter. The role of matter in this process of growth is no more than that of suitability, readiness and potentiality. It is like the role of a good child who is ready to receive the knowledge imparted to him by his educator; blessed is God, Lord of the worlds.
When we believe in God, praised and exalted be He, as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, directing its course in accordance with His wisdom and providence, it becomes imperative for us to know His attributes through His creation and the perfection of His work. We should, furthermore, evaluate His characteristics in light of the splendorous manifestations which His works display.
This we do in exactly the same way as we evaluate an engineer on the basis of the mastery of his product or an author on the basis of the depth of his knowledge and learning which his works contain, or the personality of an educator on the basis of the qualities and virtues which he imparts to those under his care. In this way we shall be able to enjoy a brief glance of the attributes of knowledge, wisdom, life, power, sight and hearing with which the exalted Creator is characterized.
For the mastery and precision manifested in the order of the universe reveal His omniscience and wisdom. The great energies it manifests reveal His sovereignity and omnipotence. The variety of life and the degrees of intellectual discernment and sense perception reveal the life and consciousness which the Creator enjoys. The unity of purpose and architectural mastery with which this universe was executed, as well as the close connections among its many aspects, reveal the oneness of the Creator and the unity of power from which this vast universe emanated.
We all believe, through our native intuition and a priori reason, in general values that must govern our conduct. These are values which assert that justice is truth and goodness and wrongdoing is falsehood and evil. We also believe that whosoever deals justly with others is worthy of respect and praise and whosoever commits wrongdoing and treachery deserves the opposite.
These values, from the point of view of native intuition (fitrah) and the science of induction (istiqra') are fundamental in directing human conduct aright, provided that there are 'no' obstacles such as ignorance or the quest for material personal gain. This is because every human being, if faced with the choice between truth or falsehood in his inter-course with others, or between trustworthiness and treachery in his dealings, would choose truth over falsehood and trustworthiness over treachery, provided that there is no personal reason or special interest that may cause him to deviate from these values.
This means that whosoever has no personal interest in committing falsehood or treachery, would deal truthfully and with trustworthiness and justice in his daily conduct. This principle applies exactly to the wise Creator, praised and exalted be He, for He encompasses all these values which we discern with our native reason because He granted us this rational faculty. Because of His absolute power and sovereignty over this universe, He has no need for any bargaining or recourse to clever manoeuvres. Thus we believe that God is just and would not wrong anyone.
The values in which we believe enjoin justice, straightforwardness, trustworthiness, truthfulness, fidelity and other such qualities, and condemn their opposites. They do not just enjoin good qualities and condemn bad ones; they also call for the appropriate reward or punishment for each.
The untainted native intellect perceives that wrongdoers and traitors deserve blame and just and trustworthy people, who are ready to sacrifice everything in the way of justice and truth deserve praise. Everyone of us finds in his own conscience (wijdan) the tendency, based on these values, to blame the deviant wrongdoer and to land the just and straightforward person. The only obstacle in the way of this attitude is a person's inability to take a suitable stance or his own personal prejudice.
Since we believe that God, the Exalted, is just and impartial in His dealings and is capable of assigning the appropriate reward or punishment, there can be no obstacle in the way of his executing those values which demand just reward or punishment for good or bad conduct. We should naturally conclude, therefore, that God would reward the righteous for his righteousness and uphold the right of the wronged against his wrongdoer.
We notice, however, that rewards and punishments are not exacted by God in this life, although he is capable of so doing. This demonstrates, if we take into account our previous arguments, that there will come a day of judgement on which the righteous person whose good deeds and sacrifice in the way of noble ideals which went unnoticed in this life, and the wrongdoer who lived on the destruction and blood of innocent people and had escaped punishment in this life, will both reap their just reward and punishment. This is the day of resurrection, which will embody all these absolute values by which human conduct will be judged; without it they would remain meaningless.
The purpose of the inductive method is to establish a preference for the hypothesis of a wise creator over any substitute theory. This is because that hypothesis requires only one a priori supposition, namely, a wise being. Any substitute theory, on the other hand, pre-supposes practical necessities in matter equal to the number of the phenomena under investigation. The probability of such a substitute would be the probability of a large number of events and coincidences; it would therefore increasingly diminish until it completely disappears.
This would be the case only if the hypothesis of a wise creator is not presupposed in explaining a large number of occurrences and coincidences. This appears to be the case because a wise creator, who would be an explanation for all the phenomena in the universe, must himself possess aspects of knowledge and power equal to their number. Hence, the number which this hypothesis must pre-suppose should equal the number of blind necessities which any substitute theory must presuppose. The question, then, must be asked: Which of the two hypothesis should be preferred?
In answer, it must be said that a preference arises from the fact that these blind necessities are completely unrelated, in that the presupposition of any one of them in no way determines the possibility of the existence or non-existence of any other one. This means in the language of the computation of probabilities that each occurrence must be independent from any other one, or at least the degree of probability of each must be independent from that of any other one.
In contrast, the knowledge and potencies which are required by the hypothesis of a wise creator behind the phenomena under investigation, are not independent because what is required in the way of knowledge and power as cause of some of the phenomena, must also be required for all. Thus the presupposition of any number of aspects of knowledge or power is not in-different to the presupposition of any other number.
Rather, the one is inherently required by the other. This further means, in the language of the computation of probabilities, that the possibility of the entire cluster of aspects of knowledge and power is conditioned by the fact that the possibility of some as inferred from the possibility of others is so high that it often reaches the level of absolute certainty.
If we wish to evaluate the aggregate of knowledge and power (which we must presuppose the wise Creator to possess) and compare it with its counterpart of blind necessities, as to their degree of probability, we must follow the method of the multiplication of the degrees of probability which is based on the principle of computation of probabilities. The value assigned to each member of this, aggregate must equal the of every other member, and so on.
This computation, as we know, leads to the decrease of probability and as the computation factors diminish in number, the degree of improbability diminishes in like proportion. The multiplication principle, whether it be conditioned or independent, can demonstrate mathematically that in conditional probabilities we should multiply the degree of one with that of another; though we must presuppose the existence of the first member, which is often certain or very close to certainty.
Thus the multiplication could not lead to absolute invalidation or to a very small degree of probability. This is in contrast to independent probabilities, each member of which would be neutral with regard to any other. In the first instance the computation would lead to great contradictions in value. From this would also result the necessity of a detailed application of one method in favour of the other, in order to explain the conditional principle of multiplication as well as the independent principle. (For further clarification of the principle of independent and conditional probability, see al Usus al mantiqiyyah li'l istiqra, pp. 153-154.)
The other problem is that arising from assigning a value to the prior probability (Ihtimal qabli) of the case which has been demonstrated inductively. In order for this to be clarified, a comparison must be made between the inductive proof of the Creator, and its application in our previous example demonstrating that the letter you had received in the mail was actually from your brother.
This example implies that the speed with which a person arrives at the belief that the letter he received was actually sent by his brother (even before opening the letter and reading it) is directly influenced by the probability of the case. This we call `the prior probability of the case.' If, before opening the letter, he supposes fifty per cent probability that his brother would send a letter to him, then he would quickly arrive at the belief that the letter was actually from his brother, in accordance with the five steps of the inductive argument already discussed.
If, on the other hand, the possibility of receiving a letter from his brother is negligible, because there is a high degree of probability that his brother was dead, he would not so quickly conclude that the letter was from his brother, unless he receives further evidence.
What, then is the way to demonstrate the existence of the Creator on the analogy of the principle of prior probability of the case? In reality, the case of the existence of the wise Creator, praised be He, does not fall under the law of probability. It is rather, an a prior truth whose 'certainty man's native intuition (fitrah) and conscience or pure sentiment (wijdan) assert. If, however, we suppose that it is a case of probability and wish to demonstrate' it by the inductive method, then we would determine the value of its prior probability in the following manner.
We begin by considering every phenomenon under investigation independently. Two possibilities would then present themselves: One is that of a wise creator, the other of a bend necessity in matter. Since we are faced with two possibilities without any prior justification for preferring either one over the other, we should divide the numerical ratio of certainty equally between them, so that each would be assigned fifty per cent.
Since, however, the probabilities in favour of a wise creator are interconnected and conditioned, in contrast with those of blind necessity, which are independent and unconnected, the multiplication results constantly in a decrease of the probability in the hypothesis of blind necessity and a constant in-crease of the probability of the hypothesis of a wise creator.
I have observed, however, after long study, that the reason why the inductive scientific argument does not meet with much approval in European thought and is rejected by thinkers like Bertrand Russel is the inability of those thinkers to overcome the two problems which we have here indicated and solved. (For an in depth discussion of the application of the inductive argument for the existence of a creator and the way in which it is possible to overcome these two problems, see al-Usus, pp. 441-451.)
Everything in this vast universe carries with it its strict divine law which directs it and aids it to rise to the highest possible levels of fulfillment. Thus the seed, under the rule of its specific law, and within the framework of its special conditions, evolves into a tree. The sperm, likewise, in accordance with the divine law operating in it, becomes a human being.
Everything, from the sun to the proton, and from the planets moving in the sun's orbit to the electrons moving in the orbit of a proton, all move according to a special plan and evolve according to a special potentiality. This all-encompassing divine order includes the universe with all its aspects and phenomena, as can be demonstrated by the argument of scientific induction. The most important phenomenon in the universe may be that of human free choice.
Man is a choosing being, and that means that he is a purposive being. That is to say, man acts for a purpose which he seeks to achieve. He digs in the earth to bring forth water, cooks in order to eat tasty food and experiments with the phenomena of nature in order to` know its laws, and so forth.
Other beings in nature, in contrast, act for already set aims and not for purposes which they set for themselves and seek their fulfillment. Thus the lung, stomach and nervous system, in performing their physiological functions, perform a purposive activity. The purpose here, however, is not one which they established through their natural functions; it is rather the purpose of the All-knowing Creator.
Since man is a purposive being whose practical attitudes are closely connected with specific purposes which he comprehends and lives for; it follows that man is not determined by a strict natural law, as for example, a raindrop falling in a predetermined manner in accordance with the law of gravity. Had his circumstances been similar, man would not have been a purposive being acting in accordance-with a purpose existing in his mind. For man to be purposive, it is necessary that he be free in his actions in order that he can act according to whatever purposes may arise in his mind. The link between man's practical attitudes and his purposes, therefore, constitute the law controlling the phenomenon of choice in man.
Human purpose, moreover, does not arise haphazardly. Man bases his purposes on the requirements of his personal interests and needs. These needs are dictated by, the environment and objective circumstances which surround man. The circumstances, however, do not move man directly in the way a storm, for instance, moves the leaves of trees.'
Had this been the case, it would annul man's role as a purposive being. It is therefore necessary for objective circumstances to move man, but only in that they stir him to act in accordance with his own perception of his interest within a specific practical situation. Not every interest, however, is capable of moving the individual to action.
Rather, this is achieved by such interests as the individual discerns to be his own interests as well. Therefore, interests are of two kinds, short-term interests which often benefit the .purposive individual who act strictly in self interest, and long-term interests' which benefit society. Often, however, individual interests come into direct conflict with those of society.
Thus, we observe that man is often moved not by the positive values of an interest but by the special benefits which may accrue to him. We observe also that there should be an objective necessity which can assure individual motivation by group interests as a necessary condition for the preservation and progress of life in the long run.
On this basis, man has to face a conflict between the demands of the law (sunnah) of life and its preservation through an objective conduct aimed at promoting group interests. On the one hand, and individual tendencies demanding man to heed only his own individual interests and to work for his own individual benefit on the other. It was therefore necessary to find a formula capable of resolving this conflict and creating objective circumstances which call for human motivation in accordance with group interests.
Prophethood, in that it is a divine phenomenon in human life, is the law which provides the way to resolve this problem. This it does by rendering group interests and all other great interests which go beyond the short-term aspects of human life, into individual long-term interests. It achieves this by informing the individual of the continuity of his existence after death and of his final journey into the divine court of justice and recompense, where all human beings will be gathered to see their deeds.
“Whosoever does an ant's weight of good shall see it, and whosoever does an ant's weight of evil shall see it.“ (Qur'an, 99:7-8)
In this way group interests become identical with individual interests considered in the long run.
The paradigm of this solution consists of a theory and the special educational process of man based on it. The theory is the return (ma'ad) to God on the day of resurrection; the educational process is a continuous activity of divine guidance. That it must be a divine activity is because it depends on the last day that is on the unknown (al-ghayb).
This activity cannot take place except through divine revelation, which is prophethood. Thus we see that prophethood and the, final return to God are two aspects of the same paradigm which provides the only solution to that general conflict in human life. This solution constitutes the phenomenon of free choice; and promotes it in the service of the true interests in human life.
As the existence of the wise Creator has been demonstrated by the inductive argument and the methods of scientific argument, so likewise the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him and his household, will be demonstrated by means of the same scientific and inductive argument and through the same method we employ in proof of the various truths in our daily life and scientific investigation. Let us present some examples by way of introduction in proof of this truth as well.
If a man were to receive a letter from one of his relatives who is a youth studying in a small elementary school in a rural area, and if the recipient were to notice that the letter was written in a brilliant idiom, employing learned and precise expressions, manifesting high artistic ability, then he would certainly conclude that another person, highly educated and possessing an unusual ability of expression had dictated that letter to the youth. If we wish to analyze this argument and conclusion we may divide it into the following steps:
1. The letter was written ' by a' country boy studying in an elementary school.
2. The letter is characterized by an eloquent style, a high level of artistic excellence and an unusual ability to arrange ideas.
3. The science of induction demonstrates in such situations that a youth of the characteristics noted in the first step could not formulate a letter of the qualities noted in the second step.
4. It must be concluded from all this that the letter was the product of another person of whose abilities the youth was able, in one way or another, to take advantage.
Let us present another analogy for the same idea, this time a scientific argument. It is the argument which scientists used in studying the electron. A scientist had studied a specific kind of ray which he produced in a closed tube. Then he focused on the middle of the tube a magnetic devise shaped, like a horseshoe. He noticed that the rays tended to move toward the positive pole of the magnetic field and avoid the negative.
He repeated the experiment under different circumstances until he become certain that rays may be attracted by magnetic power and that the positive pole is the one which attracts them. Since this scientist knew through inductive arguments and his study of other rays, such as those of ordinary light, that rays are not influenced by magnetic power or attracted by it and that a magnet attracts bodies, not rays, he was able to conclude that the attraction of the special rays on which he conducted his experiments could not be interpreted on the basis of the usual hypothetical information.
He rather discovered a new force and a new truth, namely, that these rays are made of minute negative particles and are present in all material bodies because they are derived from various elements. These particles were named electrons.
The process of demonstration in both analogies may be summarized as follows: Whenever a specific phenomenon is observed, within the context of specific factors and concrete circumstances, it is noticed inductively that these factors and circumstances in similar situations do not necessarily lead to the same phenomenon. This points therefore, to another unseen factor which must be presupposed for interpreting that phenomenon. In other words, the conclusion, if it is greater than the circumstances and concrete factors in similar situations, as demonstrated through the inductive method, reveal an unseen factor behind these circumstances and concrete factors.
This attests to the proof of the prophethood of the greatest apostle, Muhammad, peace be upon him and his household, and the truth of the message which he declared to the world in the name of heaven. The application of the method to this argument takes the following steps:
1. The man who declared his message to the world in the name of heaven hailed from the Arabian peninsula which was one of most backward areas of the world at the time culturally, intellectually, socially, politically and economically. He belonged specifically to the Hijaz, a region of this peninsula which had not passed through even the limited developments of the cultures in neighbouring regions of the peninsula. Nor had it experienced any social development to speak of, or attained any share of the intellectual wealth of that, period worthy of mention.
Its poetry and literature reflected nothing of the intellectual currents of the world of that era. It was rather immersed, from the point of view of religious faith, in the chaos of polytheism and idolatry. The region had socially disintegrated under the burden of tribal mentality. Its society was therefore pray to tribal allegiances in all aspects of its life.
All this led to deep social conflicts, struggle and senseless, purposeless raids. The country in which this apostle grew up knew no form of government except that which tribal allegiances had dictated. The level of productive energy and the economic circumstances contributed nothing to distinguish the Hijaz from the most backward areas of the world at the time. Even reading and writing, which are the simplest rudiments of education, were rare in that environment, where society in general was an illiterate one.
“It Is He who has sent to the unlettered people' an apostle from among themselves, reciting to them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they were before in manifest error.“ (Qur'an, 62:2)
The Prophet was, from this point of view, a typical person. He did not read or write before his apostleship, nor did he receive any formal or informal education.
“You did not recite before it (the Qur'an) any other scriptures, nor did you inscribe it with your right hand; otherwise the falsifiers would surely have doubted.“ (Qur'an, 29:48)
This Qur'anic text is a clear depiction of the apostle's intellectual attainments before his apostleship. It is an incontrovertible proof even for those who do not believe in the divine origin of the Qur'an. It is, in any case, a text which the Prophet declared to his people and expounded in the presence of, those who were fully acquainted with his life and history, and no one objected to what he said. Nor did anyone deny his claim:
We moreover observe that the Prophet did not take part before his apostleship, even in the intellectual forms of poetry and rhetoric which were popular among the people at the time. There was no mention of any distinction of the Prophet over the rest of his people, except in his moral commitments, his trustworthiness, honesty, truthfulness and integrity.
He lived among them for forty years before his apostleship without their sensing anything distinguishing him from them, except his pure conduct. No practical indications or trends towards the change which he declared to the world, after forty years of his noble life, reflected themselves in his behavior prior to that time.
“Say: “Had God so willed, I would not have recited it (the Qur'an) to you, nor would He have made it known to you. I have dwelt among you a lifetime: before it; do you not then understand?” (Qur'an, 10:16)
The Prophet, peace be upon-him, and his household was born in Mecca where he lived the entire period prior to his apostleship. He did not leave it to go outside the Arabian peninsula except on two brief journeys. The first was with his uncle Abd Talib when he was still a youth in his early teens. The other was in his mid-thirties when he accompanied a caravan carrying Khadijah's goods for trade.
Because of his inability to read or write, he had no opportunity to read any of the religious texts of the Jews or Christians. Nor did he become acquainted, to any appreciable extent, with these texts through his environment. Mecca was an idolatrous city both in its ideas and customs, into which neither Christian nor Jewish religious thought had penetrated. Religion had not entered into the life of its society in any form.
Even the hanifs (pure ones) among the Arabs of Mecca who rejected the worship of idols were influenced by neither Judaism nor Christianity. Nothing of Jewish or Christian thought appeared to have been reflected in the literary or poetic heritage left for us by Qiss ibn Sa'idah and others of the group. Had the Prophet made any effort to be acquainted with Jewish or Christian thought, it would have been noticed. In such a simple environment which had no relation with the sources of Jewish or Christian thought, such an attempt would not have passed without attracting much attention and without leaving its imprint on many of the moves and relations that followed.
2. The message which the Prophet proclaimed to the world is embodied in the noble Qur'an and the Islamic sacred law (shari'ah) which has many distinguishing characteristics. First, it came in a unique form of divine instruction about God, praised and exalted be He, His attributes, His knowledge and power and the nature of the relationships which exist between him and humankind.
The message also illustrated the role of prophets in the guidance of humanity, the unity of their messages, their unique values and examples. It spoke of God's ways (sunan) with His prophets and the continuous struggle between truth and falsehood and between justice and wrongdoing. It illustrated the close connection of heavenly messages with those who are wronged and persecuted, and the opposition of the messages to those who exploit others through illegal interests and business deals.
This divine instruction, furthermore, was not only greater than the religious level of a society immersed in idolatry; it was also greater than all the religious cultures known to the world at the time. Any comparison would clearly show that it came to correct whatever errors other religious systems contained, to balance whatever deviation they had suffered, and to bring them back to the judgement of the pure, native intuition (fitrah) of man and his untainted reason.
All this was brought by an unlettered man who belonged to an idolatrous society isolated from other societies. He was a man who knew almost nothing of the intellectual heritage or scriptures of his time. Yet he was the criterion of rectification and progress. The message, moreover, came with values and concepts regarding life, humanity, social relations and right action. It expressed these values and concepts in laws and ordinances which have been regarded even by those who do not accept their divine origin, to be among the most precious and noble ordinances known to human. history.
Thus the son of a tribal society appeared on the stage of world history suddenly to proclaim the essential unity of humanity. The son of an environment whose people devised oppressive social forms of distinction and superiority based on ethnicity, lineage and socio-economic status, he came to destroy all such forms and to declare that all human beings are to be equal.
He made this declaration into a reality for men to live by. He raised the female, previously buried alive, to her rightful place of respect to equal the male in humanity and dignity.
The son of the desert whose people thought only of their petty cares and the alleviation of their hunger; whose men vied in glory within their clan distinctions, came to lead them to shoulder the greatest responsibilities. He unified them in the battle of human, liberty and the salvation of the wronged everywhere from the tyranny of Chosroe (Khusraw) and Ceasar.1
The son of a complete political and economic vacuum, in all its conflicts of usury, hoarding and exploitation, appeared suddenly to fill that vacuum and to make of that empty society an organized unity possessing a complex legal, economic and social order. He came to abolish usury, hoarding and exploitation and to redistribute wealth so that it might not be a commodity exchanged among the rich few. He came to establish social equality and security which other societies called for after centuries of social experimentation and development. All these turning points took place in a relatively short period of time, considering the slow pace of social changes.
This message speaks in the Qur'an of earlier prophets and their communities. It discusses events and crises in the life of these communities in details unknown to the illiterate and idolatrous environment of the Arabian Prophet. Jewish and Christian learned men challenged the Prophet on more than one occasion, asking him to discuss their religious heritage. He met these challenges with great courage. The Qur'an fulfilled their demands without there being any way of explaining how the Prophet himself could have acquired knowledge of these details.
“You (Muhammad) were not at the western side (of at Tur, that is, Mount Sinai) when We decreed for Moses the commission, nor were you among those who witnessed it. But We raised generations, and life was prolonged for them. Nor were you a dweller among the people of Madian, reciting to them our verses: rather, We were the Sender. You were not on the side of the Mount (at-Tar) when We called (unto Moses); rather you were sent as a mercy from your Lord to warn a people to whom no warner came before you, that they, may be reminded.“ (Qur'an, 28:44-46)
What overwhelms the observer is that the true accounts related in the Qur'an could not have been a simple case of plagarism of the two testaments, even if we allow that the idea that the two Books were well-known in the Prophet's milieu. Plagarism is only a negative way of taking what someone else had to offer, whereas the Qur'an assumed the positive role of correcting and modifying these accounts. It presents details of a story with the purpose of purifying it from any accretions or contradictions which do not agree with inherent faith (fitrah) in Divine Oneness (tawhid), an enlightened mind and an uncorrupted religious view.
Another proof of the truth of the message is that the Qur'an attained such a high level of clarity, eloquence and originality of expression. This made it even from the point of view of those who reject its divine origin, an absolute criterion separating two stages in the history of the Arabic language and the basis of enormous change in this language, and its literary methods.
The Arabs who heard the Prophet recite the Qur'an discerned the fact that it in no way resembled anything they had hitherto known in its power of elucidation and clarity of expression. One of them (al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah) declared when he heard the Qur'an, “By God, I have heard words which are neither the speech of men nor jinn! It is a speech of sweet savour and grace. Its top is fruitful and its bottom is copious. It exalts and none can surpass it. It truly destroys all that falls beneath it.”2
The people did not allow themselves to listen to the Qur'an because they felt its great effect and because of their fear of its great power, as .it depicted the state of their souls. This is a clear proof of the great uniqueness of Qur'anic expression. It proves further that the Qur'an is not simply the continuation of a familiar development of a literary expression. The people had to succumb to the growing challenge with which the Prophet confronted them. The Qur'an challenged them to bring one like it, or even only ten surahs like it. It went on to stress their inability to bring even one surah like those of the noble Qur'an.
The Prophet offered this challenge to a society which excelled in no other craft as it did in that of words. It was a society which excelled in the art of story-telling (hadi'th) and the recounting of feats of glory. Their chief aim was to extinguish the light of this new message and destroy it. Nonetheless, this society, which was ready to meet any challenge, however great, did not wish to try itself and oppose the Qur'an in anything.
It was because the people believed that the literary expression of the Qur'an was beyond their linguistic and artistic ability. The curious thing was that the man who brought them this new literary wealth lived among them for forty years without their seeing him take part in a literary debate or display any talent in the literary arts. These are just a few of the characteristics of the message which the Prophet proclaimed to the world.
3. Now we turn to the third step, through which we shall demonstrate, on the basis of scientific induction applied to the history of human societies, that this message (having the characteristics studied in the second step) is far greater than the factors and circumstances which we reviewed in the first step would allow.
Although the history of human, societies has on many occasions, witnessed an outstanding man who led his society a step forward the case with which we are here concerned displays too, many exceptions to be just another instance of human success in history. We first observe here a tremendous power of innate religious intuition (fitrah), an all-inclusive evolution of all aspects of life and a reorientation of values and concepts which relate to the various areas of life, raising it to a better state instead of carrying it simply a step forward.
Thus the society of tribes leaped forward, under the guidance of the Prophet, into the one universal society. The society of idols leaped suddenly to the faith of Divine Oneness (din-ut tawhid) the religion which corrected the other monotheistic religions and removed from them all accretions of falsehood and legend. The empty society became full, even becoming a society of leadership bearing a culture which has illuminated the entire world.
We notice further that any complete revolution of society, if it is the child of concrete circumstances and causes, could not rise suddenly, improvised by one man. Nor could it be without connection with earlier developments which. Pave the way for it. It cannot arise without a preceding current of intellectual and spiritual growth where in a form of able leadership is allowed to mature and assume its role. Such a leader would then work to revolutionize society on, the basis of this new development.
The comparative study of the processes of social evolution has clearly shown that an intellectual process of change begins in any society like seeds scattered in the soil of that society. Then these seeds rise together to constitute an intellectual current and gradually define its peculiar characteristics. It is then possible for a kind of leadership to grow within that current and bring it out onto the world stage as a front for a movement in opposition to the official establishment in society. Through a long struggle, this current widens until it gains control.
In contrast to all this, we find that Muhammad was not simply one link in a chain in the history of this new message. Nor was he part of a general current of social change. The values and concepts which he proclaimed were not simply seeds, or an intellectual wealth growing in the soil of the society in which he grew up. As for the current which developed in his hands, and which consisted of the few elect among the first Muslims it was the product of the message and the leader. It was not the climate which produced the message or the leader.
Thus the difference between what the Prophet brought and that of any other leader is not one of degree, such as can be found among the various elements constituting a new current of thought or social action. It was rather a fundamental and infinite difference. All this goes to prove that Muhammad was not part of a current, but that the new current was part of him.
History has proved that if the intellectual, religious or social leadership of a new trend is concentrated in one centre through a specific movement of intellectual and social change, that centre must possess the appropriate power and intellectual ability. It would also be necessary for these characteristics to be expressed in ways and methods familiar in the life of ordinary human beings. It would further be necessary for that current to have a gradual process of practical application that would produce and direct the development of leadership.
Again, in contrast with all this; we find that Muhammad himself assumed the intellectual religious and social leadership in spite of the fact that his situation, as an unlettered man who knew nothing of the intellectual achievements of his time or its prior religious traditions, did not make of him a candidate for such a role. Nor did he have any prior experience that would qualify him for this sudden responsibility.
In light of all this, we must come to the following conclusion, which alone offers us the only reasonable and acceptable explanation. We must presuppose an additional factor behind these concrete circumstances. It is the factor of revelation, the factor of prophethood which constitutes the intervention of heaven to guide earth.
“Thus have We revealed unto you (Muhammad) a spirit of our command; you did not know what the Book is nor what faith is. But We made it (the Qur'an) a light with which We guide whosoever We wish from among our servants, and you surely guide to a straight path.“ (Qur'an, 42:52)
The explanation of the message on the basis of revelation rather than the factors and circumstances concretely operating in its history does not mean that we should ignore these circumstances completely. They did play an influential role in accordance with universal social norms. Their influence, however, was in the course of events and its consequences, whether in promoting or retarding the success of the message.
The message in itself is a divine reality above all material conditions and circumstances. When, however, it was transformed into a movement, a continuous activity for change, it became possible for it to be related to its circumstances and whatever conditions and feelings surrounded it. It may, for instance, be supposed that the feeling of the individual Arab of being lost in a society torn by strife, (where he himself represented in 'corporeal form his deity, history or ideal in a stone which he might destroy in a moment of anger, or in a piece of sweet which he could devour in a moment of hunger) made him look up to the new message.
It may be supposed that the feeling of the unfortunate and struggling individuals in Arab society under a heavy yoke of wrongdoing and oppression by usurers and exploiters, compelled them to support a new movement which would raise high the banner of justice and abolish usurial capitalism. It may be further supposed that tribal feelings played an important role in the life of the message, whether on the local level of struggle and rivalries among the clans of Quraysh and the prestige and protection which accrued to the Prophet from his clan identity, or on the nationalistic level in the feelings of the Arabs of South Arabia towards those of the North.
The circumstances of a collapsing world and harsh conditions which the two great powers, Byzantinum and Persia, had endured, kept them preoccupied with their own problems and prevented them from intervening quickly and decisively to abort the new movement in the Arabian Peninsula. All such propositions are reasonable and may be admitted. Such explanations, however, apply to events and not to the message itself.
As for the message, it is Islam, the religion of God with which He sent Muhammad, Allah's blessings and peace be upon him and his household, as a mercy to humankind.1 The first and foremost purpose of Islam is the establishment of a relationship between man and his Lord and man's return (ma`ad) to God (on the Day of Judgement).
Thus it first related man to the One and true God, to Whom man's untainted native religious intuition (fitrah) points. It stressed the Oneness of the true God in order to abolish all manner of artificial deification, so that it made the profession of Divine Oneness (shahadah), “There is no God but Allah,” its motto.
Since prophethood is the only direct mediation between creation and the Creator, its witness for the oneness of God, the Creator, and its link with the One and true God may be considered as sufficient basis for the proof of Divine Unity (tawhid). Secondly, the connection of man with the bay of Judgement and the return (ma'ad) to God is stressed in order that the only way in which conflicts may be resolved and at the same time Divine Justice established can be found, as we have already seen.
The message of Islam has its own characteristics which distinguish it from all other heavenly messages. It has its peculiar qualities which make it a unique event in history. We shall now discuss briefly a few of these qualities and characteristics.
First, this message has remained sound within the Qu'anic text without becoming subject to any change or alteration (tahrif) while other heavenly scriptures suffered alteration and became devoid of much of their content. God the exalted says:
“We have surely sent down the noble recitation (the Qur'an) and We shall surely safeguard it.“ (Qur'an, 15:9)
The preservation of the religious and legislative contents of the message is the only means of enabling it to continue to play its educative role in society.
A message that becomes devoid of its content through loss or alteration, becomes inadequate as a link between man and his Lord. This is because this link is achieved not through mere nominal membership in a religious community, but through interaction with an interiorization of the contents of the message, both in thought and conduct. For this reason the soundness of the message of Islam has been safeguarded by the soundness of the Qur'anic text, which provides the message with the necessary condition enabling it to carry out its aims.
The second characteristic is that the preservation of the Qur'an, both in letter and spirit, means that the prophethood of Muhammad, Allah's blessings and peace be upon him and his household, did not lose the most important argument in proof of its validity. This is because the Qur'an itself as containing the fundamentals of the message and its sacred law, stands as the inductive proof, in accordance with our preceding arguments, of the prophethood of Muhammad and his apostleship. This proof will remain valid as long as the Qur'an itself remains.
In contrast with this fact are other prophethoods, the proof of which is linked to specific, occurrences which happened in a moment and were no more, such as the healing of the blind and the leper. Such occurrences are witnessed only by their contemporaries. With the passing of time and the succession of centuries, such an events loses their primary witnesses. It becomes thereafter difficult if not impossible to ascertain their truth by means of research and investigation. God would not oblige men to believe in or to seek to prove any prophethood whose proof could not be historically ascertained. This is because
If today we rely on our faith in earlier prophets and their miracles, it is because we rely on the reports of the Qur'an.
Thirdly, the mere passage of time, as we have argued, does not diminish the basic argument for the validity of the Islamic message. Not only this, it provides the argument with new dimensions through the-growth of human knowledge and man's tendency to study the universe through scientific methods and experimentation. Furthermore, the Qur'an itself preceded modern science in this trend.
It linked its argument for the existence of the wise Creator with the study of the universe and the investigation of its phenomena. It alerted man to the mysteries and benefits that would accrue to him from such an investigation. Even modern man can still find in this book (which was proclaimed by an unlettered man in an ignorant environment hundreds of years ago) clear allusions to the discoveries of modern science.
Thus the British orientalist, A.J. Arberry, Professor of Arabic at Oxford University, said when modern science discovered the role of the wind in plant fertilization, “Camel herdsmen knew that the wind plays a role in the pollination of trees and fruits centuries before European science discovered this fact.”2
Fourthly, this message has encompassed aspects of life. On this basis it-has been able to balance these various aspects. It was able to unify their principles and combine in one perspective the mosque and the university; the factory and, the field, so that man is no longer obliged to live in a dichotomy between his spiritual and material life.
Fifthly, this message is the only heavenly message which was implemented by the messenger, who brought it, and in the process of this implementation, achieved dazzling success. It was able to turn the slogans it proclaimed into realities in the daily lives of human beings.
As the message entered into the stage of implementation, it entered into human history and shaped it; this is the sixth characteristic. The message, furthermore, was the cornerstone in the process of constituting the community which bore it and followed the light of its guidance. Because this message is of a divine origin; constituting the gift of heaven to earth, above the logic of concrete factors and influences, the history of its community was consequently linked to an unknown (ghaybi) factor. It has an unseen basis which is not subject to the materialistic considerations of history.
It is therefore a mistake for us to understand our history only in the context of concrete factors and influences. Nor should we consider it as the result of materialistic circumstances, or simply a development in the capacities of production. Such a view of history does not apply to a community whose very being is based on heavenly message. Hence, unless we include this message as a divine reality in our assessment, we cannot understand our history correctly.
The seventh point we wish to make is that the effect of this message was not limited to the task of building a community. It rather went beyond it to become an effective power in the world throughout history. Fair minded European scholars have admitted that the Islamic cultural push was the power which awakened Europe from its slumber and guided it to its new course.
The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's blessings and peace be upon him and his household, who came with this message, (which is our eighth point) must be distinguished from all other prophets in the way he presented his message. This is because the message itself was the last divine dissertation; thus he declared that his was the final prophethood.
The idea of the seal of prophecy rests on two arguments. The first is a negative one based on the fact that no Other prophet, had appeared since on the stage of history. The other is a positive one, asserting the continuity of this final prophethood, across the ages. It is important to observe that the negative argument has held true for the fourteen centuries which followed the appearance of Islam, and will continue to do so for all time to come.
The fact that no other prophethood has since appeared on the stage of history does not mean that prophethood has lost its role as one of the foundations of human culture. Rather it is because the final prophethood came as heir to all the messages expressed by the long history of prophecy. It also contained all the perennial values proclaimed by earlier prophetic messages, not the transient values which surrounded the long evolution of that history. It therefore became the authoritative norm capable of withstanding the test of time with all the factors of novelty and evolution it had brought.
“We have sent down to you the Book in truth, confirming that of the scriptures which was revealed before it and safeguarding it ...“ (Qur'an, 5:48)
The ninth point we wish to make is that divine wisdom, which had sealed prophethood with Muhammad, decreed that he should have vicegerents (awsiya') who would carry the burdens of spiritual leadership (imamah) and temporal authority (khilafah) after the end of prophethood. They are twelve imams appointed by clear texts (nass) from the Prophet, peace be upon him and his household, in many authentic traditions (ahadith), on whose authenticity all Muslims have agreed.
The first is the Commander of the Faithfuls 'Ali (Amir al-mu'minin), son of Abu Talib, then his two sons al-Hasan and al-Husayn, respectively. Husayn was followed by nine of his descendants, in the following order: his son 'Ali as-Sajjad (the Prayerful); then his son Muhammad al-Baqir (penetrator of divine knowledge); followed by his son Ja'far as-Sadiq (the Truthful); then his son Musa al-Kazim (the Serene One or one who conceals his anger); followed by his son `Ali ar-Rida (the one contented. with God) then his son Muhammad al-Jawad (the Magnanimous); then his son 'Ali al-Hadi (the guide to truth); followed by his son Hasan al-`Askari and the last, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Mahdi (the rightly guided one).
Finally, during the occultation (ghaybah) of the twelfth Imam, peace be upon him, Islam has referred the people to the jurist-scholars. Thus it opened the gate of ijtihad, that is to say, the discovery of legal judgements, on the basis of the Book, (the Qur'an) and sunnah (prophetic practice).
Al-Fatawa al-wadihah is an example of personal effort (ijtihad) in the discovery of the ordinances of the Islamic shari`ah (sacred law) with which the seal of the prophets, God's blessings be upon him and the noble guides, his pure descendants, was sent. I began writing this brief treatise on the fundamentals of religion on the twenty-seventh day of Dhu'l-hijjah, 1396 and completed it on the afternoon of the tenth day of the sacred month, Muharram, 1397.
We finished writing the last lines while sorrow was wringing the heart and tearing the soul. Today we live the day of `Ashura', commemorate the, martyrdom of the eternal hero of Islam, Imam Husayn, son of 'Ali, peace be upon them both, who sacrificed his precious-blood on this day. This he did in order for us to stand firm on the path of The Revealer (al Mursil), The Messenger (ar-Rasul ) and The Message (ar-Risalah ).
He faced death with his soul and all his loved ones with unequalled courage. All this he did in defence of the Message and the establishment of its standards, for the protection of the wronged ones and the alleviation of the sufferings of those who are tormented on earth. He fell along with the elect of his household and companions at the hands of reprobates, in defence of Islam and Muslims everywhere and in every age.
He died in defence of a community where reprobates wished to deprive it of its will and to freeze its revolutionary conscience and its sense of its own existence. The Master of Martyrs stirred its conscience with his blood and by his courageous stand revived its will, and with his calamitious death rekindled its great feelings.
To you; O' my master, Abu 'Abdillah, (al Husayn) I present the divine merit (thawab) of this treatise. With the copious flow, of your precious blood you have preserved the lofty edifices of thought: With the power of your stirring voice, the Message reached us sound and fragrant with the blood of martyrs, with your blood and the blood of your children throughout history. I seek guidance from God alone, He is our refuge “To God do we belong and to Him shall be our return.”
ADAM: non-being, the opposite of wujud (existence).
AWSIYA': vicegerents or representative of the Prophet, referring specifically to the twelve Imams.
BASATAH: simplicity; as a philosophical term, it refers to an uncomposite thing or being, which is not subject to generation and corruption.
DALIL.: proof or argument; an argument to demonstrate a hypothesis.
DALL FALSAFI: the philosophical proof or argument, used specifically to prove the existence of God.
DALIL ISTIQRA': inductive proof or argument; in this book specifically used to indicate-the method of scientific induction used to prove the existence of God.
DIN: religion or faith; an ideal to which a person adheres and is willing to be judged by.
FATWA (pl. fatawa): legal opinion issued 'by a jurist dealing with a current problem.
FITRAH: that width is originally created; specifically, man's original state of pure intuitive knowledge of God; generally, the native religious sense.
AL-GHAYB: unknown, unseen and unpredictable; usually used to refer to divine knowledge of things to come, e.g., the Day of Judgement.
GHAYBAH: lit., absence; used to describe the concealment or occultation of the twelfth Imam, who is in the world but hidden from human sight.
HADITH: an account, report or a statement; technically, traditions or statements related from the prophet on the authority of various transmitters.
HISAB AL-IHTIMALAT: the reckoning, computation or calculation of degrees of probability, both positively and negatively.
IHTIMAL ( pl. ihtimalat) : probability; something possible or likely to happen.
IHTIMAL QABLI: antecedent or prior possibility, that is, prior to the investigation of the probability of a thing by the inductive method.
IJTTHAD: effort; specifically, considered personal opinion arrived at through to effort of inference, induction or analogy.
'ILLAH: cause; a technical term used in Aristotelian philosophy; cf. ma'lul.
IMAMAH: leadership; generally used to describe the leader, imam, in prayer; also a religious head of community. Technically, the term refers to the authority or leadership of the imams, descendants and successors of the Prophet.
IMKAN: possibility; used philosophically, the term refers to the possibility or potentiality in the thing itself as well as an external power which can bring a thing into being or which effects a major change in it.
ISTIDLAL: to use an argument or proof in establishing a point or hypothesis.
ISTIHALAH: Impossibility; the opposite of imkan (possibility).
ISTINBAT: to delve into or penetrate a matter with the view of inferring a new idea or 'principle.
JUZ': part or part of a whole; used also philosophically to refer to particulars, in contrast with universals, cf. kull
KATHRAH: multiplicity or variety; opposite of wahdah ( unity).
KHILAFAH: representation of succession; more technically, the term is used to refer to the temporal authority of the Prophet's successors, caliphs.
KULL: lit., all; philosophically used to mean 'whole' or universals, in contrast with juz' (particulars).
MA`AD: lit., return; the return of the soul to God who is its source of being (mabda'); generally, the Day of Resurrection.
MA'LUL: effect; a philosophical term used to signify the effect of a cause; cf. 'illah. ,
MANTIQ: lit., speech; philosophically used to mean logic.
AL-MANTIQ AS-SURI ASH-SHAKLI: formal logic.
NASS: text transmitted or dictated, or statement establishing a principle; specifically, the appointment of the imams by the Prophet.
SHARI`AH: lit., highway; it is the way to follow as stipulated by sacred law of Islam.
SUNNAH ( pl. sunan ) : trodden path, way or example, when referring to the sunnah of the Prophet; custom, when referring to cultural patterns; universal law when referring to natural phenomena.
TA'AKHKHUR: posteriority or . that which succeeds something else; specifically, the posteriority of the effect to the cause; opposite of taqaddum (priority).
TAHRIF: deviation or alteration; specifically, alteration of the earlier scriptures.
TAQADDUM: priority or something proceeding something else; specifically, priority of the cause to the effect; opposite of ta'akhkhur (posteriority).
TARAKKUB: compositeness; opposite of simplicity, specifically used to distinguish the composite temporal from the simple eternal being.
TAWHID: Divine Oneness; specifically, the profession of the Oneness of God.
WAHDAH: unity; specifically of being or the universe, being the source of kathrah ( multiplicity), which is its opposite.
WIJDAN: feeling, sentiment or conscience; the source of the unconscious reactions of a human being to his environment.
WUJUD: existence or being, signifying being not as an abstract principle, but a dynamic force or presence; opposite of 'adam (non-being)