Originology (The Enquiry Into The Ultimate Origin Of Things)
In philosophical and kalami books, the section of theology usually begins with the issue of "proving the existence of the artificer of the world". In revealed scriptures, however, there is no such topic or problem. In such books, we, rarely, run into any discussion which is directly related to the issue of the proof of God's existence, it is as if, existence of God is simply taken for granted.
In his book Reason and Revelation in Islam AJ. Arbery, says:
"Greece at the time of Plato was the center of statements pertaining to the existence of God along with their proofs and arguments. This was first time in the West that men sought to enquire about their God. None of the authors of the old testament ever dealt with God's existence as a complex problem about which there could be any doubt for the Semite spirit found God in revelation itself. Moreover, what has just been said about old testament is, with only minor differences, applicable to the New testament as well1.
An insight into that part of the Avesta which is available with us shows that taking for granted the existence of God is not peculiar to Semite people and their religious books. In the Aryan religious text also, the existence of God is taken for granted which does not require proof or logical demonstration.
In the Upanishads which are amongst the Hindu holy books, we sometimes run into statements which seem to put into question the existence of God and that of the first cause. Statements such as:
What is the cause? What is Brahma? Where have we come from? How do we live, and what is the base our existence?
In joy or sickness under whose will, are we?
O you who are learned about spiritual sphere, do we live in the different stages2?
However, such statements as seen above, seem to address themselves more to the "Who-ness" of the first cause pantheistically, rather than to the question of What-ness or His Being (ontological questions). Moreover, the Upanishads is mostly a book of philosophy and mysticism which enjoys a special position among the Hindus, and is like a revealed scripture. Indeed, Hindu religion itself is full of philosophical and mystical teachings quite similar to those Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf) and other philosophical-mystical schools of thought.
The Hindu religion is enriched by the intellectual activity and contribution of numerous Hindu Sages. So, through the combination of all these teachings and rituals a religion has been formed called Hinduism: However, in the structure of this religion mystical and philosophical elements are more prominent than other revealed religions.
According to many of the verses of the Qur'an, some of which we shall quote here, the environment in which this divine book was revealed, the existence of a Creator was accepted and even the idol worshiping Arabs did not deny the existence of the artificer of this universe:
وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ مَنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ
“If you ask them, ‘Who created the heavens and the earth, and disposed the sun and the moon?’ They will surely say, ‘Allah.’ Then where do they stray?” (29:61)
وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ مَنْ نَزَّلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَوْتِهَا لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ ۚ قُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ
“And if you ask them, ‘Who sends down water from the sky, with which He revives the earth after its death?’ They will surely say, ‘Allah.’ Say, ‘All praise belongs to Allah!’ But most of them do not apply reason” (29:63)
وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ مَنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ خَلَقَهُنَّ الْعَزِيزُ الْعَلِيمُ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ مَهْدًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمْ فِيهَا سُبُلًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ وَالَّذِي نَزَّلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً بِقَدَرٍ فَأَنْشَرْنَا بِهِ بَلْدَةً مَيْتًا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ تُخْرَجُونَ وَالَّذِي خَلَقَ الْأَزْوَاجَ كُلَّهَا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الْفُلْكِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ مَا تَرْكَبُونَ
“If you ask them, ‘Who created the heavens and the earth?’ they will surely say, ‘The All-mighty, the All-knowing created them.’ He, who made the earth a cradle for you and made in it ways for you, so that you may be guided [to your destinations], and who sent down water from the sky in a measured manner, and We revived with it a dead country. (Likewise, you [too] shall be raised [from the dead].) And He who created pairs of all things and made for you the ships and the cattle what you ride on” (43: 9-12)
In several other verses of the Qur'an the idol worshiping Arabs are also confessing to the existence of God. One example is the following verse:
وَيَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ هَٰؤُلَاءِ شُفَعَاؤُنَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ۚ قُلْ أَتُنَبِّئُونَ اللَّهَ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
“They worship besides Allah that which neither causes them any harm, nor brings them any benefit, and they say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allah.’ Say, ‘Will you inform Allah about something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth?’ Immaculate is He and exalted above [having] any partners that they ascribe [to Him]!” (10: 18)
It is clear that the belief of the polytheists in the intermediary role of the idols between themselves and God signify their belief in the existence of God the Creator.
In the tenth verse of the chapter Ibrahim in the Qur'an, there is a sentence that says: "... is there any doubt about the God Who made the heavens and the earth?"
In religious discussions, it is repeatedly observed that some people have interpreted this verse to mean that the Qur'an denounce any doubt about the God's existence and consider the existence of God as self-evident for all those who contemplate the mystery of the creation the heaven and the earth. Some important interpreters of the Qur'an however oppose with this interpretation. To shed light upon this issue, we would like to first quote verses 9 to 12 of this chapter:
أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَبَأُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ وَعَادٍ وَثَمُودَ ۛ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ ۛ لَا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۚ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَرَدُّوا أَيْدِيَهُمْ فِي أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَقَالُوا إِنَّا كَفَرْنَا بِمَا أُرْسِلْتُمْ بِهِ وَإِنَّا لَفِي شَكٍّ مِمَّا تَدْعُونَنَا إِلَيْهِ مُرِيبٍ قَالَتْ رُسُلُهُمْ أَفِي اللَّهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ يَدْعُوكُمْ لِيَغْفِرَ لَكُمْ مِنْ ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُؤَخِّرَكُمْ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ۚ قَالُوا إِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُنَا تُرِيدُونَ أَنْ تَصُدُّونَا عَمَّا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ آبَاؤُنَا فَأْتُونَا بِسُلْطَانٍ مُبِينٍ قَالَتْ لَهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ إِنْ نَحْنُ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَمُنُّ عَلَىٰ مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۖ وَمَا كَانَ لَنَا أَنْ نَأْتِيَكُمْ بِسُلْطَانٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نَتَوَكَّلَ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَقَدْ هَدَانَا سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَلَنَصْبِرَنَّ عَلَىٰ مَا آذَيْتُمُونَا ۚ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُتَوَكِّلُونَ
"Has there not come to you the account of those who were before you —the people of Noah, Ād and Thamūd, and those who were after them, whom no one knows [well] except Allah? Their apostles came to them with clear arguments, but they thrust their hands into their mouths and said, ‘Surely, we deny that which you are sent with and most surely we are in serious doubts concerning that to which you invite us.
Their apostles said, ‘Is there any doubt about Allah, the originator of the heavens and the earth?! He calls you to forgive you a part of your sins, and grants you respite until a specified time. They said, ‘You are nothing but humans like us who desire to bar us from what our fathers used to worship; bring us therefore a manifest authority.’
Their apostles said to them, ‘Indeed we are just human beings like yourselves; but Allah favours whomever of His servants that He wishes. We may not bring you an authority except by Allah’s permission, and in Allah let all the faithful put their trust.
And why should we not put our trust in Allah, seeing that He has guided us in our ways? Surely, we will put up patiently with whatever torment you may inflict upon us, and in Allah let all the trusting put their trust.” (14: 9-12)
The people of Nuh, Ād, and Thamūd and other people who succeeded them argued with the Prophets of God who had come to save them regarding the contents of their messages and had declared openly that they did not believe the purport of the invitation being made by these Prophets. Did contain the message of these prophets with the existence of God, or did the idol-worshipers of these tribes accept the existence of the Creator and consider the idols as His visible manifestations who could provide for their needs and act as intermediary between them and their Creator?
In his book Al-Mizãn, Allamah Tabãtabai, supports the second view and clearly states that the dispute between these tribes and the Prophets, was about the oneness of God, prophethood, and the Day of Resurrection, rather than God's existence. From what Tabarsi says in Majma al-Bayãn and what Sayyid Qutb says in Fi Zalãl al-Qur'an, and from what others have said, one must conclude that they also believed that the argument to have been concerned with the matters like unity of God, His complete control and power over this world, the prophethood of certain chosen people, divine reward and punishment of God in this world and the next, et cetera, not the question of God's very existence. In any case, the text of the statement of the Prophets is:
"... Could there be any doubt about the existence of God who created the heavens and the earth?"
This kind of questioning, automatically carries some doubt about the very existence of God. This is, especially, true with the addition of such qualities as such: the creator of the heavens and the earth, in which the Qur'anic word Fãtir meaning "creatio ex nihilo" is used and this indicates that the issue under discussion pertains to the God's existence rather than His Oneness, In Al-Mizan, 'Allãmah Tabãtabai refers to this phrase as evidence to support his own view. He further said: "if the phrase has been as:
خَالِق السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
Which means "the Creator of the heaven and the earth". Such maxim pertains to the God's existence but since the idol-worshipers do not deny the creator of this world, but are opposed to the oneness of God, thus, the phrase:
فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
Meaning "the Originator of the heavens and the earth" is used so that it should be related to the problem of the unity and the oneness of God3.
In our view however, the phrase
فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
Is even more appropriate for proving the God's existence than the phrase.
خَالِق السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
Idol-worshipers do not deny the existence of God, but only do not believe that the affairs of the world are controlled by Him and worship is due to Him alone". Even supposing that such a thing can be true in the case of the idol-worshipers of Arabia at the time of the prophet Muhammad (s), can it also be true in case of all idol-worshipers in all ages so that we can refer to them to understand such verse which is related to Ãd, Thamūd and other people of the past?
Moreover, does believing in the creator of the universe relate to the oneness of God rather than God's existence? So, we should accept that this verse is also related to the God's existence. Nevertheless, the idea that this verse of the Qur'an considers any doubt in the existence of God to be doubted in something self-evident, is not entirely justified. For by using the phrase:
فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
What is being emphasized and pointed out is the God's existence not to the self-evidentness of His existence. Moreover, according to some of the verses of the Qur'an doubt about the God's existence has not been completely ruled out in this divine book. For example, the chapter, The Mountain, is one of the chapters of the Qur'an revealed in Mecca before the Hijrah. This chapter first concerns itself with the question of Day of Resurrection which is extensively treated in verses 1-28. From verse 29 through verse 34, question regarding the prophethood of the messenger of Islam (s) is raised. Then the discussion is expanded and possible doubt about the existence of God is brought up and the following verse is sent:
أَمْ خُلِقُوا مِنْ غَيْرِ شَيْءٍ أَمْ هُمُ الْخَالِقُونَ أَمْ خَلَقُوا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۚ بَلْ لَا يُوقِنُونَ
"Were they created from nothing? Or are they [their own] creators? Did they create the heavens and the earth? Rather they have no certainty!” (52: 35,36)
The question will arise in the following verses whether man has access to the treasure of God's grace, or man himself is the source of power? Or has man access to the fountainhead of divine revelation? (verses 37 to 46)
Then in verse 43 the issue of the existence of a god other than the Creator is brought up and it is said:
أَمْ لَهُمْ إِلَٰهٌ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
"Do they have any god other than Allah? Glory be to Allah of any partners that they may ascribe [to Him]!” (53: 43)
Considering the order and the subject matter of this chapter which we have already mentioned, it seems that the verses 35 and 36 raise this question that in the creation of the world and of the human race, God has not had a hand and that all this has come into existence by itself.
Then, to solve this problem, it has used the "Socratic method" and by confronting man with a number of thought-provoking questions, awakening his innate reason by paying close attention to these questions so he should be able to discover the correct answers. The order in which these questions are presented is as follows:
1. Could human beings have come into being without any Creator?
2. Could they have been their own creators?
3. If man is his own creator, how are we to account for the creation of the heaven and the earth that existed before man?
It seems that by positing such deep and thought-provoking questions, the Qur'an is trying to awaken the natural logic of man, so that in answer to the first question man would say:
"No. If human beings are creatures, they certainly must have a Creator."
And in answer to the second question they would say:
"And if they are creatures they can never be their own creators." That is, not only human beings, but all other creatures also cannot be their own creators because a being whose existence originates from itself, has always been and always will be, cannot be called a 'creature'. Thus, we cannot say it is both creature and creator".
While their answer to the third question would be the following confession:
"Although man is very creative, and the maker of numerous wonderful, complex and beautiful things such as missiles, paintings, sculptures, cars, airplanes, and computers, he is clearly aware of the fact that he has had nothing to do with the creation of the heavens and the earth." Is it not therefore laughable that becoming enamoured by his limited power he should immediately hasten to claim that he is God and say:
"If there is a creator in the world it is no other than man?
Of course, there are other theories and speculations about the subject under discussion but the Qur'an has chosen not to discuss them. The point that we wanted to make, however, is that putting the existence of God into question is quite clear from the foregoing verses.
In the verses 75 to 80 of the chapter An'am, Ibrahim is quoted as saying:
وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لِأَبِيهِ آزَرَ أَتَتَّخِذُ أَصْنَامًا آلِهَةً ۖ إِنِّي أَرَاكَ وَقَوْمَكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُرِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ مَلَكُوتَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلِيَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُوقِنِينَ فَلَمَّا جَنَّ عَلَيْهِ اللَّيْلُ رَأَىٰ كَوْكَبًا ۖ قَالَ هَٰذَا رَبِّي ۖ فَلَمَّا أَفَلَ قَالَ لَا أُحِبُّ الْآفِلِينَ فَلَمَّا رَأَى الْقَمَرَ بَازِغًا قَالَ هَٰذَا رَبِّي ۖ فَلَمَّا أَفَلَ قَالَ لَئِنْ لَمْ يَهْدِنِي رَبِّي لَأَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الضَّالِّينَ فَلَمَّا رَأَى الشَّمْسَ بَازِغَةً قَالَ هَٰذَا رَبِّي هَٰذَا أَكْبَرُ ۖ فَلَمَّا أَفَلَتْ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ إِنِّي وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِي فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ حَنِيفًا ۖ وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
"(Remember) when Ibrahim said unto his father Azar:
‘Do you take idols for gods? Indeed, I see you and your people in manifest error.’ Thus, did We show Abraham the dominions of the heavens and the earth, that he might be of those who possess certitude. When night darkened over him, he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord!’ But when it set, he said, ‘I do not like those who set.’ Then, when he saw the moon rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord!’ But when it set, he said, ‘Had my Lord not guided me, I would surely have been among the astray lot.’ Then, when he saw the sun rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord! This is bigger!’ But when it set, he said, ‘O my people, indeed I disown what you take as [His] partners.’ Indeed, I have turned my face toward Him who originated the heavens and the earth, as a hanīf, and I am not one of the polytheists.’ (6: 74-79)
This story is not directly related to the issue of God's existence and is in fact concerned with the issue of the oneness of God; Oneness regarding the creation of the world and controlling its affairs, and oneness in worship.
Besides this, however, the point is that Ibrahim, in his investigation and consideration of the things of this world with the purpose of judging whether they are qualified to be God or not, has concluded that a thing which changes and has an end signify the existence of another entity that is self-sufficient and which has created it. Godhood, Ibrahim concluded, must be the property of that creator which rules, not the property of the creature which obeys.
Sadrul-Muta'allihin (Mullah Sadra) has related this interpretation to a logical argument of the proof of the God's existence based upon laws of the natural sciences, and has said: "In order to attain this end (proving the existence of God), naturalists have a special method. They have said that the heavenly bodies move and their moving is an obvious thing. This movement is neither a natural movement (the sort of movement the origin of which is itself and the gravity which exists between it and its original place) nor is it a compelling movement (the kind of movement which is against the natural tendency of the moving object and which is caused by the influence upon it of another object).
"There is only one explanation, therefore, for this movement and that explanation is that it is caused by something divine, something which is completely separate from matter that possesses infinite power and does not cause movement in order to perfect itself. If such a divine cause is necessary being in itself, then it is God. If, on the other hand, it is not necessary being in itself then it must be an effect of a necessary being which is God. Otherwise, we would have a vicious circle.
This is the path taken by the leader of the Peripatetics (Aristotle) in two chapters of his first book which is called "The First Teaching"; one in natural audition of physics and the other in theology and it is the same sort of reasoning that is set forth in the Holy Qur'an in the form of a story about Ibrahim, the Friend of God, (may God's grace be upon him, our Prophet (s), and his family).
As soon as Ibrahim saw the movement of the heavenly bodies, the way that objects on the earth were affected by changes in the heavenly planets, the way these planets changed their location, the differences of size and brightness between them, he realized that the creator of these planets, the one who has endowed them with brightness and caused them to move, can be neither matter nor material, and therefore he said: I shall turn to Him Who has created the heavens and the earth and I shall turn away from everything but Him; I am not one of the polytheists4.
In our view, identifying the said verses with the sort of reasoning mentioned by Mullah Sadra with the sort of characteristics he mentions for it does not seem appropriate.
As it is clearly understandable from the different parts of the verses in question, especially, from their final conclusions, وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ‘and I am not of the polytheists’, the subject of the verses is monotheism not proof of the existence of God. Of course, they do indirectly relate to the argument about the proof of God's existence but only in so far as the need of the changeable objects to the eternal is concerned without involving the astronomical movements and the complicated formulas.
In theological discussions the following point is repeatedly made: If knowledge of God is not completely self-evident, it is at least an innate thing. In this regard, usually the verse 30 of the chapter Rome is mentioned which says:
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا ۚ فِطْرَتَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
“So, set your heart on the religion as a people of pure faith, the origination of Allah according to which He originated mankind. There is on altering (the laws of) Allah's creation. That is the most upright religion, but most people do not know".(30: 30)
In his book, Al-Mabda wa Al-Malid, Sadr ul-Muta’allihin (Mullah Sadra) has this to say about this matter:
"...As it has been said before, (the comprehension of) the necessary Being is an innate thing because when human beings confront terrifying and difficult events they instinctively put their trust upon God and automatically turn to that Being which is the Source of all causes and which eases all difficulties. This is why, we see that most mystics prove the existence of God and His control over the affairs of this world by referring to their states of mind and awareness that observe in confronting with such terrifying events as drowning or fire".
Sadr ul-Muta'allihin (Mullah Sadra) refers to several verses of the Qur'an in connection with this discussion in which man's gravitation to God and his taking refuge in Him during the times of wretchedness are spoken. One such verse is the following:
فَإِذَا رَكِبُوا فِي الْفُلْكِ دَعَوُا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ إِذَا هُمْ يُشْرِكُونَ
"When they board the ship, they invoke Allah putting exclusive faith in Him, but when He delivers them to land, behold, they ascribe partners [to Him]” (29: 65)
He also mentions verses 22 and 23 of the chapter Yūnus and verse 32 of the chapter Luqmãn which are about the same topic.
Careful scrutiny of these verses leads one to believe, however, that none of them is related to proving the existence of God through human nature. Note carefully the aforementioned verse, this verse is intended to draw man's attention to the baselessness of polytheism and the inability of man-made gods in helping him during the times of danger. Thus, if this verse speaks of something innate, it does not refer to "the existence of the Almighty Lord", it is about the Oneness of God and the baselessness of polytheism.
This verse is calling on the polytheists who believe in God as the Creator but at the same time worship other gods, keeping in to motivate their senses in order to realize this obvious truth that these gods are impotent. One sign of this obvious truth is that clear innate reaction that even polytheists show when confronted by dangerous and life-threatening situations in that critical situation, they pray only to God the Creator. Why should it be then that when they are safely delivered from these dangers they forget this truth, go to the temples and prostrate themselves before the idols and seek help from them?
The verses 23,24, and 33 of the chapter Luqmãn also refers to man's heedlessness of God and admonishes man not to be so ungrateful and sinful during the times of comfort and abundance for God may take away all the blessings He has bestowed on man and thus punish him for his sins and for his ingratitude.
The verse 30 of the chapter Rūm, which considers religion to have a divine nature is also primarily concerned with the issue of monotheism and the testimony of human nature to the baselessness of polytheism5.
The verses 172 and 173 of the chapter Aãrãf speak of a covenant between man and God which some scholars relate to the innate nature of belief in God and His oneness.
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَٰذَا غَافِلِينَ أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ
"And (remember) when your Lord took from the Children of Adam, from their loins, their descendants and made them bear witness over themselves, [He said to them,] ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘Yes indeed! We bear witness.’ [This,] lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘Indeed we were unaware of this,’ or lest you should say, ‘Our fathers ascribed partners [to Allah] before [us] and we were descendants after them. Will You then destroy us because of what the falsifiers have done? (6: 172, 173)
This verse tells us about a dialogue between all men and God in which they spoke with God and bear testimony that He is their Creator and Controller of this World. This testimony is to dispel any excuse that human beings may set forth in the Day of Judgement. They could not say then that they were unaware, uninformed, and under the influence of their ancestors.
In the books of tradition and exegesis, we encounter various opinions about this matter.
In numerous traditions attributed to the Holy Prophet (s), his companions, the early interpreters of the Qur'an, and our Imams, the view has been expressed that in the distant past, God gathered all human beings who are from the lineage of Adam in the form of minute particles and in such state of being, they bear witness that He is the Lord, so that with this confession there should be left no excuse for any human being anytime in any place6.
In this view, especial attention has been made to "Dhariyyah" (atomic) which is a derivative of the word "Dharrih" (atom), and the scene and the stage (pre-existence), where all human beings were present in an atomic form and bore witness that God is the Creator and the Lord of the universe, is called the "Alam-e-Zar" (world of pre-existence).
To make the subject more comprehensible to the general public, some modern commentators have used the example of genetics7. According to these commentators, every human being is intrinsically and instinctively aware of the existence of God that He is one. According to this view, man is born with the natural propensity, or to use the terms in the natural sciences, with the genetic makeup, necessary for coming into possession of such knowledge.
These genes are passed on from one generation to another, making the new generation also receptive to knowledge of God. Those who hold this view also believe that this genetic propensity that exists in scattered form in all human beings existed in a highly concentrated form in the primitive man.
However, Hassan Basrī (21-110 AH) and many other commentators, especially the Mu'tazilites, argue that they see no evidence in this verse to indicate the existence of an "atomic" world in which all human beings in the form of minute particles gathered in one spot to make such a pact with their Creator. What this verse is pointing to, they say, is that there is innate understanding within man, which he is born with and which tells him that a Supreme Being must exist.
This fundamental and almost unconscious understanding flows into conscious and clear knowledge of God when the human being reaches the stage of emotional and intellectual maturity and awareness, so that in answer to this hypothetical question from God that "Was I not your God?" This answer will come from the inner being of man every day, "Yes, you are our Lord". Therefore, this Qur'anic verse is not a description of a particular scene from the primordial past.
On the contrary, it describes a scene in not too distant past of each and every human being when he or she was experiencing his or her first stage of growth and awareness. This stage of innate awareness and knowledge in the history of the human soul was followed by other stages in which the factor of environmental influence entered the scene and in many cases caused a weakening of the innate awareness of God inherent in all human beings8.
In his Al-Mizan, vol. 8, pages 329 to 336, Allamah Tabãtabãi expresses another view about the scene in which the covenant between man and God took place. In his view. all human beings and all other creatures that came into existence in a gradual manner, were altogether in the presence of God Who is beyond time and place. To put it in another way, the gradual passing away of time and the notion or yesterday, today and tomorrow, is a reality experienced by us and other beings like us, who exist in time.
At this moment we face a certain thing, a moment later, we are a moment away from it. A moment after that, there is two moments distance between us and that thing. Tomorrow the distance between us is one day, and next year the distance is one-year long. This passage however, that increases our distance from the past and shortens our distance from the future, is inconsequential when it comes to God.
Today, we are neither closer nor farther away from God then we were yesterday because God's existence is not subject to the dimensions of time and space. Spatial and temporal distance between us and God is, therefore, a meaningless notion.
Keeping in mind the point just mentioned, one realizes that all creatures who exist in the continuum of time are in fact at the presence of God at the same time. It is as if all the descendants of Adam, generation after generation are together at the presence of God, and bear witness to His Being. This mass confirmation and testimony is unambiguous evidence that God exists and is the Creator and Lord of the universe.
What happens with man however, is that, falling into the river of time and the event and changes of the world, he becomes so involved, engrossed and fascinated with the changing scenery of the temporal world, that he forgets about that direct knowledge and experience of his Lord and Creator that he once possessed.
This forgetfulness is something similar to "forgetting one's self” which has been discussed by many philosophical schools of both past and present including Existentialism, as one of the most painful afflictions that man suffer in this world just at "life and its problems" damages the self-awareness of some people, to the extent, sometimes, that they forget their "own selves" completely, in the same way it also damages their "God consciousness", sometimes with such success that they become totally blind to and ignorant of God even though He is manifest right in front of their eyes.
Through all the ups and downs of his life God was company to man whose heart was sealed, unable to perceive Him, the man walked around calling out: O God, O God
What was just recounted is a brief summary of the argument presented in Al-Mizan. In this discourse, Allamah Tabãtabai discusses in detail and answers many questions which may be raised about "the covenant between man and God", and the relevance of the Qur'anic verse. His discussion is most fruitful and illuminating.
However, despite all the explanations offered by Allamah Tabãtabai, it still seems that the relevancy of this Qur'anic verse to the idea of a primordial pact is based, more than anything else, on one's interpretation of its meaning. What can be said with certainty about this Qur'anic verse is that it briefly refers to a stage in man's existence in which human beings confessed that God was their Creator.
This confession was not strong enough to keep all people for all times on the righteous path of worshiping the one God, but it did have the effect of keeping their soul and conscience always ready and prepared to seek knowledge of God so that on the day of judgement none should be able to fall back on the excuse that "we were completely ignorant of this matter. This innate readiness to seek God is strong enough that it enables every human being to break away from the superstitious beliefs held by his parents and ancestors and to tread on the path of righteousness.
In other words, such a man could not say "my forefathers have always been polytheists and I merely followed in their footsteps. “But as far as the particular characteristics of this stage (where the pact was made) are concerned, no other details can be found in the Holy Qur'an.
There is another relationship between man and God which could be regarded as: "Fitrat Allah" (divine nature). This relationship consists of the love of the Absolute, Absolute existent, Absolute perfection, Absolute goodness, and so on, that can be found in all normal individuals in the form, at least, of a simple inclination.
It is this inclination that makes him to remember God and pulls him towards God. And it is this very same tendency that in some people it reaches such an intensity and strength that it turns them into self-less and all sacrificing lovers and devotees of the Beloved. According to these thinkers, love of perfection and an inclination towards Absolute perfection exists even in those who deny the existence of God although they may be completely unaware of it.
Man is unaware of many powerful urges and desires which is recognized by the experimental sciences and is also the subject matter of the one of the most fruitful branches of modern human sciences, namely psychoanalysis. It should, therefore, be appropriate if the clearest and the most precise concepts developed by this science are used to study the various mystical states in order to discover scientifically, the principles underlying and governing them.
This would free us form relying on amateurish and unsophisticated appraisals and explanations of the subject which are mostly shallow and based on personal preferences and prejudices.
In any case, in the view of mystics, if men were to pay more attention to the innate love of, and desire for, perfection, and strengthen it through meditations, ascetic exercises, prayers and various forms of worships, they would finally be able to reach the stage where they would find God and know Him through immediate knowledge. This state of immediate knowledge and experience of God is such that it leaves no room for doubt and is identical with Absolute certainty. The mystics believe that the only sure path for gaining knowledge of God is this very path which begins with searching for God and leads, if pursued to its ultimate end, to God-realization. As in the Qur'an when it says to the Prophet (s).
فَاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ إِنَّا كَفَيْنَاكَ الْمُسْتَهْزِئِينَ الَّذِينَ يَجْعَلُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا آخَرَ ۚ فَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُكَ بِمَا يَقُولُونَ فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَكُنْ مِنَ السَّاجِدِينَ وَاعْبُدْ رَبَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ
So, proclaim what you have been commanded, and turn away from the polytheists. Indeed, We will suffice you against the deriders —those who set up besides Allah another god. Soon they will know! Certainly, We know that you become upset because of what they say. So celebrate the praise of your Lord and be among those who prostrate, and worship your Lord until certainty1 comes to you. ". (15: 94-99)
Thus, we could say that engaging in prayer, meditation, and worship is a method for attaining certainty9. The intuitive knowledge and certainty attained by the mystics is similar to the knowledge and certainty one attains through empirical objects.
In the case of empirical knowledge, the best way to free ourselves form all doubts is to verify it by experiment, similarly the best way to eradicate any doubts about the God's existence is immediate experience. This immediate knowledge of God's is not gained through the physical eye but rather through the intuitive “inner eye”, (Basīrat) of the soul.
It is through this inner, intuitive knowledge that a mystic realizes that his beloved is real truth and not a fantastic figment of an overheated imagination.
One of the significances of this approach is that to know God man does not need to involve in complicated arguments. Therefore, wherever the Qur'an talks about this matter it does not exceed this extend and focus the attention of man to his most basic and primordial perceptions and ask man to recognize and accept the undeniable and necessary knowledge of such approach.
In many cases, the Qur'an not even makes this much argumentation and contents itself with any illusionary and baseless nature of some atheistic idea or tendency, later encouraging man to deepen and expand his quest for God and base this quest on far stronger foundations. One example of such an approach is the case of naturalists (Dahriyyah)10.
In many of its verses the Holy Qur'an invites the wise11, the thoughtful12, and the vigilant13 to meditate deeply upon the world and its wonders and even upon the normal natural events and their causes, to gain knowledge of the All-powerful, All-knowing, Wise and Merciful Creator.
These verses are mostly intended to awaken man and draw his attention to the issues that arise after pouring the existence of the Creator, such as: Peerlessness, infinite Knowledge and Power, Sagacity, Kindness, and other attributes, especially the Power to resurrect man after his death, giving him an eternal life during which he would be either rewarded or punished in accordance with the kind of life he led on the earth.
In all these Qur'anic verses, however, to realize the metaphysical realities, man is asked to pay close attention to things of the world and to draw conclusions about these signs through the application of intuitive inner perceptions and judgements, thus attaining useful and reliable knowledge about the world beyond the senses.
With reference to the foregoing discussion, this question may arise as: if the whole universe and every individual part of it, from atom to galaxy and from mineral to man, are clear signs pointing to the Wisdom, Power, Will, Unity, Compassion, and other attributes of the Creator of the universe, would it not follow that the same universe is a clear and undisputable proof of the existence of the Creator Himself?
If the answer to the aforesaid question is affirmative, we must conclude that although the Qur'an did not set forth straightforward arguments to prove the existence of God because of the intellectual atmosphere of the people at that time. It used a method which could be equally fruitful in probing the existence of God and gaining clear and certain knowledge about the fundamental issue of His existence.
What these Qur'anic arguments rely on is that every created thing that we find in the world needs, ultimately, a self-sufficient Creator who has the wisdom and the capacity to have created the myriads of different beings. The innate need and dependence of all these creatures clearly indicates the necessity for the existence of that fully self-sufficient and independent Being
And the transitory-ness of every one of them indicates the necessity for the existence of a self-reliant and unchanging reality on which they are based. Maybe verses fifteen to seventeen of the chapter Fãtir of the Holy Qur'an are related to this complete need of man for God and the conclusion that one must draw from it:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنْتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ إِنْ يَشَأْ يُذْهِبْكُمْ وَيَأْتِ بِخَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ وَمَا ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ بِعَزِيزٍ
"O mankind! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah, and Allah—He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable. If He wishes, He will take you away, and bring about a new creation; and that is not a hard thing for Allah." (35: 15-17)
It could be said then that in discussing the Attributes of God the Qur'an sets forth an approach and a method which could also be used in dealing with the question of God's very existence.
In his Metaphysics Aristotle14 repeatedly emphasizes the point that his aim is to discover the fundamental cause of things and the principle of nature using a method as befits a philosopher, a man of thought and investigation, and a free thinker.
In other words, he is looking for the original cause or the first cause, and he is not going to take the path of those who have faith in some dogmas which lack logical background. For example, in his book (Beta) he says:
"...But those who think like Epicurus and all others who have spoken of divine objects, they have contented themselves with convincing themselves and have never aimed to convince us. They did not bother to do this because they considered the primary causes to be the gods themselves"15.
"...It is therefore not necessary to carefully examine the view of those individuals whose philosophy is more like decorative ideas and phrases. What is appropriate for us to discuss and argue is the idea of those individuals whose statements are based on logic..."16.
Aristotle's quest for the ultimate origin of things is based on the general law of causation, that is, "the need of every effect for a cause". In his view, if everything in the world was a natural object and possessed movement then the existence of a thing which would serve as the originator of nature and movement would be unnecessary since there would be nothing in the universe except nature and moving substance.
In such a world, our knowledge would have been limited to the natural sciences and we would have no such thing as "metaphysics", "...If there should be no other substance except natural substances, physics (natural science) would be the First philosophy ..."17
However, in his search for an understanding of the real nature of things and the universe, Aristotle reaches the conclusion that the world is not limited to moving natural substances; thus, in another part of his Metaphysics, he speaks of "mortal" and "immortal" substances and attempts to discover their origins by asking, "do mortal and immortal things have the same origin or is it that each group has particular origin of its own18?"
Aristotle continues his investigations and finally reaches the conclusion that all things emanate from the same Self-existent substance which is Alive, Knowledgeable and Powerful. A thing which although unmoving is the cause of all movement19.
In the fourth section of what was probably his last philosophical work, Ishãrãt wa Tanbihãt, Ibn Sinã sets forth a new argument for proving the existence of the Creator. This is the way he begins his discussion:
"The Namat (section) four on existence and its causes".
Thus, instead of speaking of "the principles of nature", he speaks of "existence" and its causes. Regarding the proof for the first cause and the origin of existence he says:
"The being is either necessary (wãjib) or contingent (Mumkin). A contingent being must have been come into existence by some external factor.
If this external factor is necessary being in itself, then it is the origin and the creator, and if it is contingent then it must be the effect of something other than itself. If this chain of contingent beings extends infinitely without reaching a starting point, a point of origin and a necessary existence, none of the supposed beings in this infinite chain would have any reality.
For actualization of any link of this chain is depended on the actualization of the preceding link, and even if such presupposition were to continue infinitely it would still not be able to emerge from the realm of assumption and possess any certitude".20
To make clear Ibn Sinã argument, we will give the following example:
Suppose a big rock has fallen across a road, thus blocking it. It is obvious that the rock will not move all by itself. The first passer who comes along finds the road blocked and says to himself. "if another person had come along, together we could have dislodged the rock and cleared the road".
A second passer appears but hearing the suggestion of the first man, he answers that if another man were to come along then all three of us would move the rock together.
A third passer reaches the spot, but says that if a fourth individual comes and helps then we could dislodge the rock.
The fourth person comes and waits for the arrival of the fifth person, and so on and infinitum. Would the stone ever be moved under such circumstances? Of course not. The rock would be moved only when someone comes and will to act without waiting for the arrival of any other person. In such situation, either he alone, or the whole group together, shall act, and remove the rock, and reopen the road.
In the chain of cause and effect also, as long as we have not reached a cause which has a reality of its own, independent any other things, none of the links in the chain can have any reality.
In other words, we must reach a Being which possesses Independent existence or Necessary existence. Existence begins at this point, and as it moves down the chain of causes and effect, gives each link its beings and its reality. It is in the shadow of Its unconditional being therefore that everything else attains existence.
Thus, Ibn Sinã discovered necessary being and God, not through studying the principles and origins of nature, but through careful examination of contingency and necessity, the contingent and the necessary, and the ultimate dependence of the contingent being upon the necessary.
After proving the existence of the Creator, Ibn Sinã goes on to prove the Oneness, Power, Knowledge, and other attributes of the Creator through an examination of the question of the contingent and the necessary being. Then he says:
Take care and see how our proof of the existence of the Origin, His21 Purity and Perfection, was in need of no other contemplation22 except that of "existence" itself, and there was no need to contemplate over His creatures. Although such examination would have led us to Him, but our approach is worthier, since we first contemplate being itself so that it may clearly set forth its own reality.
And then will be the cause of the realness of the things which emanate from it in later stages. The following verse of the points to this matter: "Soon we shall show our signs to them both in the world and within themselves, so that it may become clear to them that He is the Truth".
This explanation is for one group. Then the Qur'an says:
"Is it not enough that your God is the proof of all things?"
This explanation relates to another group, the truthful ones "(Siddīqīn)" who consider God to be the proof of other things, not the other things to be proofs for God23".
Explaining the words of Ibn Sinã, Nasir al-Din-Tusi (597-672) says:
"Theologians consider the coming into existence of objects and their qualities as proofs for the existence of the Creator, and through examining and observing creatures it is possible to gain knowledge of the Attributes of God.
Natural philosophers consider the existence of movement to be the proof of the existence of a mover, and believe that since the chain of such movers could not stretch back infinitely, we must finally reach a mover which is itself unmoved. Thus, they discover the first cause.
The metaphysicians however, by examining 'existence' itself, and the fact that 'existence' must be either contingent or necessary, prove the existence of necessary existent, Then, by examining the logical implications of contingency and necessity, they discover the attributes of necessary existent. And through a contemplation of these attributes, they discover the process by which all creatures come into existence, emanating from necessary existent.
Ibn Sinã says (in what was just quoted above) that this method is better than the earlier one for it is both stronger and worthier. This is so because the best argument that can lead man to certainty is the one in which we discover the effect through the cause, while the reverse case that is, to assume the effect as the proof of the cause-does not lead one to absolute certainty in some cases.
This is so, for example, in cases where the only way for knowing the cause is through the effect: This was made clear in the section on argumentation. From these words of God's that,
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
"Soon We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness to all things?” (41: 53)
Ibn Sinã has taken two aspects of this saying of God and related them to the two aforesaid methods. These two aspects are: 1. Considering the signs existing in the world and within man as proofs for the existence of God. And 2. Taking God as evidence for the existence of everything else. Moreover, since he favours the second method, he has called it the method of "Siddīqīn" because "Siddīq" is one who always searches for the truth24".
After Ibn Sinã, his "necessity and contingency argument" became the most popular argument for proving the existence of God, so in shorter books on philosophy and theology, only this argument is being referred. In his most famous book, in the section dealing with proof of the God's existence, Nasir al-Din Tusi has referred only to this argument as said:
"The third point concerns the proof of the existence of God, His Attributes and Effects which consist of the following chapters, chapter one deals with the existence of God. A thing is either necessary existent which in this case does not require proof contingent which should depend on necessary existent: otherwise we would face with vicious circle or infinite chain of causation both of which are impossible25".
In his book, Kashful-Murad-fi-Sharh-he Tajrid al-Itiqad, Allamah Hilli says26:
"Proof of the existence of Necessary being is as follows: Undoubtedly, we discover that certainly there is a reality. This reality, upon which we cannot doubt, is either27 being Necessary in which case there is no need for further discussion28, or it is not being Necessary which means that it is being contingent and in need of a cause that would be the source of its existence. Now this cause is itself either being Necessary, which would mean again that there is no need for further discussion or it is being contingent which means that it needs a cause; and we will end up with either a vicious circle or an infinite chain of causation which we have already said that both are false"29.
In the method used by Ibn Sinã, Nasir al-Din Tusi, Allamah Hilli, and others, there is the talk of circle and infinite chains of causation; and if someone do not consider these two alternatives as impossible, then the whole argument, about the strength and clarity of which so much has been said, would be worthless.
In his Asfãr, Sadr ul-Muta’allihin holds that the argument of the Siddīqīn (truthful ones) is the best argument in proof of the God's existence, but he sets it forth in such a manner that, as he himself says, would not involve vicious circle or infinite chains of causation. So, Sadr ul-Muta’allihin’s approach would be a turning point in the inquiry into the original cause of things, let us consider it with ease:
Knowing that there are numerous ways to gain knowledge of God because He has numerous aspects and virtues which allow every individual to follow his own particular path to Him30. Nevertheless, it is also true that some of these approaches are worthier, stronger, and clearer than others. The best argument and proof is that in which its middle term31 is actually nothing other than Necessary being itself. In other words, to know Him32 and it is the path of the Siddiqin (truthful ones) who take God as the proof and witness to His own existence33. Then, from proving His Essence, they move to the knowledge of His Attributes; and from knowledge of His Attributes to the knowledge of His Acts.
Others, such as Mutakallimun (theologians) and naturalists, try to gain knowledge of God and His Attributes by studying other things such as the possibility of quiddity, emergence of creatures, and the movement of physical objects. These are proofs of the existence of God and His Attributes; but the first method is stronger and worthier.
The following verse of the Qur'an refers to all of these paths:
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
"Soon We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness to all things?” (41: 53)
The gnostic philosophers reflect upon existence itself and come to know that reality is nothing but God, and He is the essence of everything. Then, by carefully examining existence, conclude that existence is automatically Necessary being that existence IS automatically Necessary Existent. And contingency, need, and cause cannot be related to the essence and reality of existence itself, but must be related to shortcomings and defects laying outside this essence and reality.
Then, by reflecting upon the implications and concomitants of contingency and necessity, they discover the oneness of God's Essence and His Attributes; and by cognition of His Attributes they comprehend the nature of His Acts and Effects. And this is the way of the Prophets, as it is said in the Qur'an:
قُلْ هَٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ
“Say: This is my Way: I call on Allah with sure knowledge.” (12: 108)
Following his elaborate explanation of the argument of truthful ones (Siddiqin); that is, gaining knowledge about God through perfect knowledge of existence, Sadrul-Muta'allihin opens a new chapter in which he discusses the other arguments set forth by philosophy and Kalam to prove the God's existence.
More than any other argument, he discusses that of "necessity and contingency" which he sets forth along the same lines used by Ibn Sinã, Nasir al-Din Tusi and Allamah Hilli. He says:
"... this approach is the one closest to that of the truthful ones (Siddiqin) but it is not identical with Siddiqin what is paid attention to is the reality of existence34 while in this path it is the concept of existence".
Sadr ul-Muta'allihin sets forth two fundamental advantages for his version of the truthful-ones’ argument (Burhãne Siddīqīn) and the gaining of knowledge about the Creator through full comprehension of existence. These advantages are:
(1)- That he has relied on actual existence itself and our immediate knowledge of it, and not on the concept of existence; and
(2)- That in this approach there is no room for vicious circle and infinite chain of causation.
What do we understand from the word "existence" (wujud) and its corollaries in other languages? And how has this concept entered our mind? These questions have been subject of discussion in Islamic philosophy for many centuries, and issues related to them have been considered as some of the most important sections of philosophy.
One may imagine that all of these discussions are useless explanations of the obvious issue. He gradually realizes, however, that the issues of the reality of existence, the unity of existence, unity and multiplicity, reality and appearance, etc. are some of the most fundamental problems of philosophy. However, they seem to be simple but they are deep and complex issues35.
As an example of a modern encounter with such issues, let us examine the critical comment of an Iranian scholar on this regard36.
In his book, Philosophy, Shariat Madari has made a critical comment over a section of Allamah Tabãtabãi’s book, The Principles of Philosophy and the Method of Realism37.
In his criticism he states that the discussions dealing with the analytical understanding of existence and the philosophical conclusions of such understanding, to be a kind of language game as he says:
"Mr. Tabãtabai considers existence to be identical with reality and the existence of reality to be self-evident"38. Shariat Madari furthers his discussion and, says that, how some questions born in mind regarding existence and reality as follows:
Which is self-evident? The being (mawjud) or 'existence' (wujud)? Do men consider stones, trees, animals, and other human beings as self-evident realities, or their existence39?
Dose the idea that we cannot apprehend the reality of existence but at the same time since we know its actuality therefore existence-in itself is self-evident to us?
As it has already been pointed out, why is the apprehension of existence a self-evident? I may assume my own existence as self-evident just as I consider that of other objects as self-evident. But if I analyze myself and separate the element of "existence" from the other aspects of myself and replace the "being" (mawjud) with "existence", then I could not say that I have comprehended existence and its meaning in a self-evident manner. It may be said that What seems self-evident is being (mawjud) not existence (wujud). further he says:
"But to sit and submerge oneself in the concept of existence and play language game, not only limits philosophical activity, but also prevents us from apprehending the realities kept away from the living philosophical issues of the day"40.
It can be clearly seen, therefore that the problem of existence, its concept, the level of its authenticity, is still a genuine problem in contemporary philosophical thought. In order to carry on our discussion with clear understanding of the matter, we should first answer the following questions:
1. Is analysis and synthesis, in general sense, a proper method for gaining new knowledge about the world and the realities within it?
2. Are the mental perceptions, that is, concepts that we have from the existing realities in the world, are themselves also real (actual) validity in representing those realities?
3. Are words, whether referring to real or imaginary things, constitute a set of facts or not? (This is of course in the light of the expansive definition accorded to reality even in the scientific usage of today).
4. If mental concepts and the words used to describe them, seen in a wider perspective, are themselves realities. Is the scholarly and realistic study of them, a scientific activity which may bear useful results? Or is it that such an undertaking in whatever form of shape, is nothing but playing language game?
With a profound insight into what is today called as social sciences one may discover that most of the subjects dealt with are merely words and their combinations, mental concepts and meaning, their relationships with each other or with man's living environment, the origin and development of words, their meaning, or other human phenomenon are as real as the letters, words and their meanings.
When we appreciate sociology and its illuminating investigations, and take resort to the results of its inquiries to help us choose the best course of action in many aspects of our lives, and consider it as a mature science bearing fruitful results, then why should we be surprised that scientific analysis of a word, a mental perception, or other such phenomenon, may lead us to worthwhile and precise philosophical results?
When through the discipline of linguistics and analytical philosophy we examine the origin and development of words and languages; their relationships with biological, internal, or environmental factors such as: beliefs, emotional attachments, economics, politics, social classes, cultures, and so on, thus discovering hundreds of secrets concerning man's life on this planet, and then go on to gain practical benefit from these discoveries by improving man's life in various ways, then why we cannot look on the precise and exact research that has been carried out on the notion of existence, its meaning, and the external reality from which this concept is derived.
Now, keeping in mind all that has just been said, let us return to the discussion of the notion 'existence' and its meaning and try to clarify the issues involved in the light of the question raised by Dr. Shariat Madari, with the hope that we shall remain safe from the danger of falling into illusion and language game.
Let us first set out what we clearly know of this matter:
1. Suppose that there is a drinking glass on the table in front of you. Now I ask you: is there any water in the glass? you look at the glass more carefully, or, to make sure, shake it, and say: "There is water in the glass", or, "there is no water in the glass".
2. Okay, now suppose there is a stove in the corner of the room where you are sitting. I ask you: "Is there any fire in the stove?” you approach the stove and examine its contents with care and declare: "There is fire in the stove", or there is no fire in the stove".
Now consider these two statements: 1. There is water in the glass, and 2. There is fire in the stove. These two statements consist of different words each of which has a distinct meaning of its own; such as: in, glass, stove. water, and is.
Undoubtedly, by using every one of these words, you are expressing a definite mental perception which you can clearly distinguish from other mental perceptions. For example: in as opposed to on or besides, glass or stove as opposed to their objects, water of fire as opposed to other things, and is as opposed to is not, etc.
4. The mental perception that you express by the word in is a clear one for you and you can easily distinguish it from, on, and so on. The same can be said about the mental perceptions expressed by the words, or, so that if nothing else, you at least never mistake them for one another. This is also the case for the mental perceptions represented by the words fire and water. When you are handed a glass of water to drink, you do not show the least hesitation in using the word water to describe the contents of the glass, and if someone were to know a few pieces of wood on the fire and they started to burn, you again would not hesitate in labeling it as fire. Moreover, this is true, not only of you, but all other normal, healthy human beings.
5. Now what about the word "is"? Have you used this word in order to express a mental perception also? What about other, related words such as existence, or being in the sense of something which is existent? Do these also correspond to some mental perception existing in your mind, or not?
To facilitate the discussion, let us use the terms existence (wujud) and being (mawjud)41. The question is: Is the word existent in the two sentences: water is existent in the glass, and fire is existent it the stove, a meaningless utterance? Or is it that it has a specific meaning just as all the other words used in the two sentences? Now, if the term existent does have a specific meaning of its own, what is it, and how is it applies equally to both water and fire? Does the fact that the term existent is applied to both fire and water equally signify that they have a "word in common" or that they have a "meaning in common?"
It would perhaps be better to illustrate what we mean by having "Word in common" or "meaning in common" by bringing a few examples from ordinary life.
Suppose a baby boy is born in your family and you name him Parvez. Suppose also that another baby boy is born to another family hundreds of miles away, in another city and another family, and they, without knowing anything about your son and his name, also name their son Parvez. In this manner, there develops an automatic bond between your son and the other boy, and this bond is nothing other than having a name m common.
Moreover, their having the same name is the result. simply, of their parents having the same taste.
Now, does having the same name signify having anything else in common also? Usually not. It is simply a question of taste. you happen to like the name Parvez and call your son by it; the parents of that other boy also happen to like the name Parvez and choose it for their son. Moreover, you may like the name Parvez for one reason and the other parents may like for entirely different reasons. In any case, having the name Parvez in common does not signify the existence of any other common characteristics between these two boys. This is an example, then, of having a "word in common".
Suppose again that you have in front of you a white snowball and white chalk. The reason for your labeling both of these objects as white is not that someone has arbitrarily chosen to call them "white". It is, rather, an indication that these two objects share a particular quality with each other. In other words, the word white shows that these two objects have a "meaning in common" to put it another way, these two objects are of the same colour; and this colour is the "meaning" that they have in common. Furthermore, the sharing of this common "meaning" is the cause of their both being called white.
This is why, when dealing with objects which have a "word in common", every new entry into the group must be accomplished by of objects that have "meaning in common" no such fresh naming process is necessary.
About fourteen centuries ago a boy was born into the Sasanite family whom they name Parvez. If, from that particular date, no other family had chosen to call any of its male children Parvez, this name would have remained the exclusive property of the Sasanit king, Khosrow Parvez42.
If, on the other hand, hundreds of boys were born to other families and all of these boys possessed physical and psychological characteristics very similar to those of Khosrow Parvez but their parents had chosen to call them by some other name, then none of those similarities could justify these boys being automatically called Parvez.
However, the minute a boy is born who bears no resemblance to Khosrow Parvez by everyone. This, of course, is by no means true of the word white. Having labeled snow as white because of its colour and the fact that it reflects almost one hundred percent of the light to which it is exposed, we automatically label as white whatever object happens to possess the same qualities without needing any fresh naming process. This is so because the word white represents a common mental perception of such objects as chalk, snow, and so on.
Now that having a "word in common" and having a "meaning in common" have been clearly distinguished from one another, we can go back to our discussion of the existent and repeat the two statements: "There is fire in the stove". And: "there is water in the glass".
So, we see that the quality of being or "is-ness" is attributed to both fire and water, and they are both existent. So, the word existent is something that they share with each other, unlike the words fire or water which can apply to only one of them. Now the question is this: Is the fact that fire and water have "is-ness" in common between them signify that these two things have word in common, or a meaning in common?
If having "is-ness" in common means that these two objects have a "word in common", then to call any of them an existent thing requires a separate naming process. Now is this the case? If, on the other hand, having in common the word "is" between the water in the glass and the fire in the stove means that they have a "meaning in common", then separate naming processes would be unnecessary.
This would mean however that we must have a mental perception corresponding to the word "is" that applies to the water in the glass and the fire in the stove equally. The question to be answered next is: What is this common perception and where does it come from?
Existential philosophy begins its analysis with an attempt to understand this mental perception and its objective source and hold the view that through an analysis of the concept of existence and discovery of the reason for its development in our minds, new avenues for gaining knowledge about the real nature of this world are opened to us. Therefore, this philosophy begins its word by asking, is existence common in word or meaning?
The answer that the Existential philosophers give to this question is based on their meticulous investigation and analysis, that is, that existence is common in meaning vocal word. In other words, the term existence and all its synonyms in other languages, refer to a single mental perception, concept and meaning which is that essential and concrete perception experienced in every encounter with reality.
This shows us that existence itself is a single reality residing with fire and water both, since if existence was not a single fact which both fire and water shared, it would not have given rise to a single perception derived from both fire and water.
Sadrul-Muta’allihin (Mullah Sadra) is of the view however, that there is no need for us to traverse such a long and complicated path to comprehend the universality and uniqueness of the reality of existence. It is enough for any realistic (mystic), alert, and insightful individual to consider the first perception he has of the actual world to realize the reality of existence itself.
What man perceives in his encounter with a particular fact is, first of all, the very existence of that fact. It is only afterwards that the quiddity of the object in question is determined. And what is meant by quiddity here is that essence and sum of qualities which man perceives in this particular object but fails to find, either wholly or partly, in other objects.
The interesting point here is that in every confrontation with actual reality, man's knowledge of its existence, actuality, and reality, is both clear and certain unless one is entangled in sophistic temptations, while one's apprehension of the quiddity of an object may involve uncertainty.
For example, when you see something a few kilometers away, you have no doubt about its existence and your apprehension of its reality is clear and certain, while your knowledge of its quiddity is still unclear, and you must wait until you get closer, or look at it through binoculars, before gaining a more or less clear perception of its quiddity.
When we come upon a tree we perceive its existence. Alongside this perception, we also more or less apprehend its identity. The apprehension of the identity of the tree must always be accompanied however, by an either perfect or imperfect picture of the tree being registered by our minds. This picture informs us of the identity of the tree and represents ours and other people's knowledge of it.
The relationship of this mental picture with the tree in question is like that of a picture of a tree taken by a camera and the actual tree itself, or, between the tree and a picture of it drawn carefully by hand. Whenever this mental picture appears in your mind it will more or less inform you of the identity of the object to which it refers, but it cannot automatically inform you of its existence and actuality unless it reestablishes the relationship of "direct apprehension" between you and the tree.
And it would be through this relationship then that you would recall the past existence of the tree. If this relationship is not reestablished and the memory of the tree is not revived in our mind, you will automatically doubt the existence of such a tree and will ask: "Does this tree exist?"
We can conclude from this that the picture does not automatically indicate the existence of the object it is supposed to represent, and our knowledge of objects is attained only through direct apprehension and immediate knowledge.
Now that these points have been clarified let us return to the position set forth by Sadrul-Muta’allihin. He says that the first thing we apprehend is existence itself, on the condition that we should not have befuddled our minds with pseudo-philosophical disputes.
Meditating upon our knowledge of existence gained through direct apprehension, we can easily discover the fact that non-being can never enter the essence of being. In other words, existence always is and can never become non-existence. This is why, being is always necessary existence (because non-being can never enter into it).
Another point revealed here, and that is, in our first encounter with reality what we perceive is "the necessary", and our apprehension of "the contingent" is gained only after we have perceived the existence of things which have, by the virtue of being, emerged out of nothingness and taken on recognizable shapes called things: things which are signs, manifestations, and reflections of existence.
And if this being did not exist, all of these things would become void and insubstantial, the aforementioned discussion shows that in Sadrul-Muta’allihin’s method of seeking for the original cause there is no need to submerge ourselves in the concept of existence or rely on the invalidity of circular causation or infinite chain of causation.
After an extensive discussion of contingent being and its relationship with the necessary being and after answering all questions and problems raised in this regard, Sadr ul-Muta'allihin (Mullah Sadra) says:
...Therefore, the existence of Necessary being is proven by this argument, just as its uniqueness is also proven, since existence is a reality in the essence of which there is no room for deficiency or shortfall. And its limitless and infinite nature dose not lend itself to either duality or plurality. Moreover, by the same argument the knowledge of existence to itself and its life as well as whatever is beyond it is possible, since knowledge and life are synonymous with existence.
Alongside these things, the power and Will of Necessary being is also proved since these two are requirements of life and knowledge. His self-existence is proven a being that exists in the ultimate and prefect state must be the source of all the beings that exist on a lower the source of all the being that exist on a lower state.
Necessary being is thus no other than God, who is Knowing, Able, Willful, Living, and Creating; Omniscient and Omnipotent. And since all the lower degrees of existence automatically follow Necessary being in accordance to their level of dignity and strength, the fact that He is the Creator, the Lord, and the Owner, is proved.
The conclusion to be drawn is that the method we have pursued is stronger, simpler, and better that may other method used to search for the first cause. One who follows this method to gain knowledge of God, His essence, Attributes, and Actions, has no need to rely on things other than God, or the invalidity of circular and infinite chains of causation to prove His existence. He comes to know God and His uniqueness through His very essence itself:
شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ
'Allah (himself) witness that there is no God but him ... (3: 18)
And gain knowledge of other things in this manner:
أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
"Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness to all things? (41: 53)
This path suffices the people of perfection in their search for the Truth, its Attributes and Actions. But since everyone does not have the ability to draw so many conclusions from one single principle, we have no other choice than to put forth other paths leading the seekers to knowledge of the Truth, even though, these methods may not have the power and efficiency of the first method in directing the seeker to God43.
From what we have said up to this point, it becomes clear that the argument of Siddiqin has been set forth in two distinct ways. The first version is the one set forth by Ibn Sinã, Nasir al-Din Tusi, and certain other thinkers, while the second in that of Sadrul-Muta’allihin (Mullah Sadra). In his commentary on the Ishãrãt of Ibn Sinã, Nasir al-Din Tusi calls Ibn Sinã’s version of the argument of the Siddiqin, a priori argument.
Although the term "a priori argument" is well known to all those who are familiar with philosophy, it may be worthwhile to explain it here so that we can continue our discussion with sufficient clarity.
In a priori reasoning-as opposed to the posteriori reasoning we first apprehend the existence of the cause, and this apprehension leads us to affirm the existence of the effect, Since, if the cause is found to exist, the existence of the effect automatically follows. In the posteriori reasoning the case is exactly inverse. Here we apprehend the existence of the effect first and move on to affirm the existence of the cause, since no effect can exist without the cause being present also. Let us cite an example:
We look at the sky and see that dark clouds are moving in the distance. We say then that it must be raining there. What makes us to cognize the existence of the clouds in that particular point of the sky is our direct sense perception of them. Moreover, since we are aware of the causal relationship between these kinds of clouds and rain, we add up these two apprehensions and come up with the third one, which is that it is raining there.
Now let us consider another case. It is a chilly winter night. We are sitting in a room, closed all doors and windows, and pulled the curtains. Suddenly, we hear the sound of a rain-shower pounding on the roof of the house. The minute we perceive that the rain is pouring down, we also realize that rain-clouds are passing over our home.
This is an example of a posteriori argument: That is, coming to know that existence of the cause through apprehending the existence of the effect.
As far as our knowledge of the original source is concerned, if we come to gain any knowledge of its existence by first apprehending its creatures, and following this apprehension conceive of the idea that these creatures must have a creator possessing such and such qualities, this cognitive process, moving from knowledge of the effect to affirmation of the existence of a cause, is a form of logical apprehension. And this is, of course, a posteriori reasoning.
If, on the other hand, we first come to know of God and His Attributes through immediate knowledge, conclude from such knowledge that a God possessing such qualities must have creatures of such and such a sort, even though we have no direct knowledge that such creatures do in fact exist, then we have come to apprehend the existence of them through knowledge of the existence of the cause. This, too, is a form of logical apprehension: a priori reasoning.
Nasir al-Din Tusi says that the path taken by Ibn Sinã regarding the knowledge of 'origin' in his Ishãrãt, i.e, “Argument of Siddiqin”, is actually a priori reasoning likewise, 'Allamah Hilli, in his Kashf al-Murãd fi Sharh al- Tajrid al-I'tiqad44, has also said that Ibn Sinã’s "Argument of Siddiqin" is a priori reasoning.
However, Sadrul-Muta’allihin does not consider the Siddiqin argument to be an argument at all, and therefore dose not discuss the question of its being either a priori or a posteriori.
In his Asfãr, after mentioning some examples of philosophical arguments set forth as proof of God's existence, goes on to say:
"As it has already been mentioned, regarding proof of the existence of Necessary being, there is no argument that can really be called an argument. And whatever is expressed as a demonstration is not related directly to proving the existence of the Necessary being. Regarding proving the existence of the Necessary. Regarding proving the existence of God, there is an argument45 similar to that of posteriori argument".
In a footnote on the above section of the Asfãr, Allamah Tabãtabai says:
"...and hereby the point is clearly revealed to the insightful that the existence of the Necessary being is a necessary and undeniable principle, and the arguments set forth to prove the existence of the Necessary being are really some kind of reminders (and not proofs) ..."46
We believe, however, that careful examination of the "Argument of the Siddiqin", even Sadrul-Muta’allihin’’s version of it, shows that this formulation is neither fully an argument nor fully not an argument. For the truth of the matter is that the "Argument of the Siddiqin" has three aspects each of which must be dealt independently. These three aspects are:
A. Knowledge of the existence of the origin (God) through better understanding of 'being'.
B. Knowledge of the Attributes of the 'origin (God) through perfect understanding of being.
C. Knowledge of the signs and Effects of the origin through the extensive knowledge of existence.
So far as the first and the second aspect is concerned our intellectual task is to gain deeper knowledge of being (wujud) without trying to prove the existence of something through apprehension of the existence of something else.
But as for to the third aspect, our intellectual task is to discover His first effect; that is, (The first emanated) through the accurate and wide knowledge of the origin (God), so that to apprehend objective reality. Then by furthering this method on His other effects and acts we may be acquainted with them one by one. In fact, we imply an argument in this section which is the same as called a priori argument, for we apprehend the existence of an effect and its derivations through the comprehensive cognition of its cause.
Therefore, Sadrul-Muta'allihin's Siddiqin argument is as much as related to the cognitive of the existence of the origin (first cause) and His attributes, it is developed form of a knowledge of an object which we have already known, that is, the notion of existence though it cannot be called an argument.
But that part which concerns the cognition of the origin and His features and acts; that is the proof of the existence of the universal intellects and souls in philosophical sense and holy and holiest grace in mystical terms. Then there is no doubt that it is an argument by means of which we apprehend the existence of effect through the conclusive cognition of the cause.
Thus, this argument is called a priori argument' (Burhan-e Limmi).
In many of theological and mystical books Muslim scholars are interested more or less to introduce the general view of philosophers and their own philosophical ideas in certain subjects in coordinate with the Qur'anic teachings. As if they want to enhance the credibility of their views or at least to save it from the opponent for being anti-religious views. But these kinds of conformation and ascriptions are incompatible with the ordinary meaning of the verses of the Qur'an; that is, in most cases it is their own interpretations only.
Among the different arguments for the existence of God as mentioned above. The Aristotle's and his like-minded thinker's argument is compatible with the Qur'anic teachings, because this argument is based on the dependence of a needy being on an independent, being motion to the mover, effect to cause, object to the Creator of the object and contingency to necessity?
If the usage of the term argument is correct from the stand point of originology, it should be called "a posteriori argument" (Burhan-e Inni). What about Sadrul-Muta’allihin method? Shall we call the eschatology of this philosopher as the same Qur'anic approach. Sadrul-Muta’allihin supports his argument by reciting the following verses of the Qur'an:
شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ ۚ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
" Allah bears witness that there is no god except Him —and [so do] the angels and those who possess knowledge— maintainer of justice, there is no god but Him, the Almighty, the All-wise. (3:18)
According to Sadrul-Muta’allihin the witness of God on His uniqueness is another proof of the denotation of the very "existence" on the uniqueness and necessity of the self-existent. This is the same matter that Sadrul-Muta’allihin brought about in his Siddiqin argument (Burhan-e Siddiqin)
اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp —the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star— lit from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern nor western, whose oil almost lights up, though fire should not touch it. Light upon light. Allah guides to His Light whomever He wishes. Allah draws parables for mankind, and Allah has knowledge of all things.” (24: 35)
Therefore, God is shining in the world. His shining existence is clear and cognizable and very thing also should be cognized in the light of that shining light47 Rumi says:
"Sun appeared, the proof is the same sun. If you seek proof, then do not turn your face from him".
How we apprehend the existence of God? The reply is that we see Him objectively and then apprehend Him. Even we see and apprehend the other beings in the light of the sun.
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
"Soon We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness to all things?” (41: 53)
Ibn Sinã, Nasir al-Din Tusi, Allamah Hilli, Sadr ul-Muta’allihin and other like-minded thinkers believe that: the last part of this verse regarding the knowledge of origin (first cause), is possible through the concentration on the notion of existence that is the same argument of Siddiqin as we have discussed earlier.
Among the verses of the Qur'an the verse Nur (24: 35) is to some extent relevant with this argument. Of course, it is provided to have deep insight into this verse in order to understand and use it as the "Burhan-e-Siddiqin".
In the verse 3:18, "Allah bears Witness that there is no god but He". There is the matter of witness48 of God on His uniqueness so, it requires to keep in view some meaning for it. This meaning is likely the same as it has come in the Siddiqin argument.
"And if we had made it a Qur'an in a foreign tongue, they would certainly have said: why have not its communication been made clear?” (41: 44)
“Certainly, We gave Moses the Book, but differences arose about it…” (41: 45)
“Say, ‘Tell me, if it is from Allah and you disbelieve in it, who will be more astray than someone who is in extreme defiance (41: 52)
“Soon, We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth….” (41 :53)
Regarding the sequence of the verses this question may arise as to whether the pronoun "it" in the sentence "It is the truth" is referred to the Qur'an of God or any other thing. As it is quoted from Qatadah and other exegetists in this regard, therefore, this verse is about the truthfulness of the Qur'an not God.
Accordingly, that verse is related to the other issues of Islamic teachings not to any method of the knowledge of the origin.
Regarding the above discussion we may come to the following conclusions:
(1). The issue of the proof of the existence of God is put forwarded in the Qur'an in a simple manner.
(2). At the same time, the Qur'an has not over looked the suspicion over the existence of God.
(3). Nevertheless, it has confined only to some awakening questions so that to release man from suspicion about the existence of God.
(4). In the light of such wakefulness and vigilance, man may apprehend the existence of God through the concentration on the dependence of all beings on God.
(5). In the process of travelling (mystical), man may rely on his simplest perception (nature) and need not to involve himself in technical arguments.
(6). This path of the Qur'an regarding the notion of God is more or less in confirmative with the attitudes of the many scholars in the world either indirectly (through interpretation) or directly.
(7). Some of the Qur'anic verses, that have come in philosophical and mystical books, regarding the proof of the God's existence, are either irrelevant with the theological discussions like the verse (41:53) or they are related to other issues.
Now at the end, this question may arise as to: whether man, regarding the notion of "The origin" (Mabda'), can know only the existence of God that is to acknowledge that there is a creator for this world or he may transcend this stage and attain a clear idea of God?
This issue has been discussed in detail in philosophy and Islamic Theology (kalam) and we will discuss in the further chapter of this book as well.
What may be said about the Qur'anic view point is that man is asked to have comprehensive knowledge of God and the major issue in this comprehensive knowledge is the issue of unity of God (Tawhid) and His uniqueness which the Qur'an rely on it.
- 1. A.J. Arbery, Reason and Revelation, p. 9
- 2. Upanishad, p. 419
- 3. Allamah Tabãtabai, Al-Mizãn. p. l2:2,3
- 4. Mulla Sadra, Al-Mabda' wal-Ma'ãd, p. l6
- 5. In his book AI-Mizan, 'Allamah Tabãtabai while interpreting this verse about the innate nature of religion has taken a broader view and expressed the opinion that all the teachings and religion is based on a system of belief and practice and all innate needs of man.
- 6. Please refer to Imam Fakhr's Tafsir-e Kabir vol. 15, p. 40-49, Tafsir-e Majam 'ul-Bayan vol.4, p. 497-498, and Tafsir Al-Mizan vol. 8, p. 338-346
- 7. One such commentator is Sayyid Qutb in his book Fi Zalal al-Qur'an, vol. 3, p. 670
- 8. Please refer to Tafsir-e Majma ul-Bayãn vol. 4, p. 498 and Tafsir-e Kabir - Iman Fakhr vol. 15, p. 46-52
- 9. Certain knowledge is a clear knowledge beyond any doubt and ambiguity. Immediate knowledge, intuitive knowledge are the examples of certain knowledge. The best way to attain such knowledge is the field act. For in such field, one may confront with objective reality and immune from subjectivities. The subjectivities that are away from the real world and deprive man from comprehending the reality.
- 10. Al-Qur’an (45: 24)
- 11. ....أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ
- 12. ....قَوْمَ یَیتَفَكَّرُونَ وَ
- 13. ....قَوْمَ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ وَ
- 14. From this page up to the page 200, the discussion is philosophical to utilize those who are working on theology. Those who are not familiar with philosophy, can delete this section.
That is Greek mythological gods were merely the figments of man's imagination. Man's intellectual weakness in knowing the origin of the ultimate things is responsible in substituting God by gods. On the field of natural science also used it in place of causes and natural factors. As a result, misled in both fields of theology as well as natural science.
- 16. Aristotele, Metaphysics, p. 247.
- 17. Ibid, p. 713
- 18. Ibid, p. 1000
- 19. Ibid, Book Alpha (minor) and book Lambda.
- 20. lbn Sina, Ishãrãt wa Tanbihãt, p. l09-115
- 21. The original statement of Ibn Sina in his " Ishãrãt regarding this point, is as follows:
"Contemplate on how our statement for testifying to the existence of the first (the Creator). his uniqueness (Oneness), and his freedom of any imperfection and defect had not needed anything other than deliberation upon the existence itself, and didn't need the deliberation upon his created beings, even though it is an evidence for testification, but the first way of deliberation is more authentic and valuable'.
That is to say, if we deliberate upon the state of existence, and this testifies to his existence as it is the real manifest existence it would be the firm true evidence for all the following stages of the whole existence and being.
The divine holy book the (the Qur'an) has indicated this fact saying:
“We will soon show them our signs (ãyãt) in the universe, and within themselves, until it will become manifest unto them that is the Truth..." (41:53)
I say that this statement is meant for a group of people. And the Holy Qur’an has continued saying:
“Isn't sufficient as regards your lord, he is witness over all thin". (42:53)
And this statement is meant for another group of people, who are the faithful devotees to Allah (As-Siddiqin) who take him as evidence for testifying to the other things and not the vice versa.
- 22. Ibid. p. l23
- 23. Ibid. p. l23
- 24. Nasir Al-Din Tusi, Tajrid al-E'tiqãd, p. l72
- 25. Allamah Hilli, Kashf ul-Murãd Fi Sharh Tajrid al-E'tiqãd.
- 26. That is, a reality which does not need origin.
- 27. That is, the very existence is proved to be an existent independent of cause.
- 28. If we continue, it we may not reach to an existent independent of cause.
- 29. On this approach, through the process and doubt between necessary and contingent being we discover the Necessary being. That is why the argument discussed here is called the argument necessary and contingency.
- 30. As is stated in chapters, the verse 148 of the Qur'an.
- 31. What connects the major and minor premises to each other and enables us to reach a third conclusion through knowledge of them.
- 32. According to Rumi: the sun came, as this is the proof of sun if you want proof, do not turn your face away.
- 33. "O that which was a guide unto itself”
- 34. Mullah Sadra, Asfãr, p. 26-27
- 35. The issue of existence, the concept and its reality has always been one of the most delicate issues of philosophy. In our age, some of the followers of Hegel have furthered Hegel's analysis of existence with reference to other concept and the objective reality which derived from that for instance Heidegger's book, Being and Time is related to this issue.
- 36. Dr. Ali Shariat Madari is a professor at Isfahan university.
- 37. Dr. Ali Shariat Madari, philosophy p. 335
- 38. 53- Ibid, p. 336-337
- 39. Ibid, p. 339
- 40. Ibid, p. 339
- 41. Being (Mawjud) grammatically is passive participial and most probably derived from wajada that is acquired its Persian version is yãfteh that is, has got, later on this term got new meaning other than passive participial. It was something which enjoy existence which is hardly passive participial. Even the verb "wajada" is used as meant become existent which does not carry the suspicion and it is like intransitive verb, existent (Wujud) is also like this. Now this term has nothing to do with "to acquired" or "have been acquired". But it means "to be" or "being".
- 42. If anyone was named Pervez before him then this name would have remained his exclusive property.
- 43. Mullah Sadra, Asrãr vol.6 p. 25-26
- 44. Allamah Hilli, Kashf ul-Murad Fi Sharh Tajrid al-E'tiqãd, p.172
- 45. Mullah Sadra, Asfãr vol.5 p. 28-29
- 46. Ibid, vol. 6, p. 15.
- 47. For details of the philosophical commentary on the verse of 'light', refer to Mullah Sadra's commentary, p. 358,375, Asfãr, 5:349, Shawãhid, p. 36
- 48. There are many instances in the Qur'an indicating that Allah bears witness as:
“Allah bears witness that there is no god but He.” (3:18)
Allah bears witness that He has revealed the Qur'an:
"But Allah bears witness by what He has revealed it with His knowledge ..." (4:166)
Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are liars.
"And Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are surely liars.” (63:1)
Allah bears witness to the prophethood of His prophet (s).
“We have sent you (O, Prophet!) to mankind as an apostle; and Allah is sufficient as a witness.” (4:79)
And God bears witness to everything (5:117)
Regarding such issues references to God being His own witness have occurred frequently in other religious scriptures also even in the books of non-Ibrahimic religious, Zoroaster considers God as the witness to his prophethood and rightness of his religion. He says:
'O people as you could not find and choose the right path for yourselves, Mazdã Ahurã made me the Judge of both the groups, worshiper of Mazda and worshiper of devil, and sent me towards you, so that I could point to the right path for you and all of you could live together according to the true religion. Mazda Ahura is my witness and bears witness of my religion. (2:41, The Avesta)