Section One: Proving God
Before entering into this discussion, we remind you of two points. First, we shall provide a general outlook over Geek culture, then present some of the similarities of opinion between the Greek and divine beliefs.
1) A possible general analysis of Greek civilization is to say it started with fantasies, passed through the stages of intellectualism and intuition, and culminated with religion. In the beginning, the people of Greece distilled their fantasies into legends. Later, they rationalized the various disillusioned and sceptical philosophies, and still further they turned towards mysticism, finally then accepting religion.
However, the Greek fantasies did not grow at one stroke but were preceded by the past matter. This past matter, namely, the Green fantasies, dominated the divine Fitrah (innate nature) and reflections of the past religions. Therefore the most important matter set forth in this period of fantasy is the matter of gods and divine myths.
It was when the Greek fantasies started to dominate over this pure divine Fitrah that the matter of the gods was mooted. The next stage was rationalization. The rationalization was too preceded, as was the case with previous fantasies. The fantasies were refined in the filter of rationalization. For example, in Aristotle’s eyes the gods were transformed to the “first stimulant” or the “intellect” and/or the “reasons”; in Plato, “examples” replaced the notion of the gods.
Insofar as the human intellect could not find a reply to its queries in the prior fantasies, the inclinations in later periods were towards discusses of morals or scepticism.
This next stage was the inclination towards intuition (divine vision) and mysticism. In this stage, reasoning was purified in the filter of intuition. For example, in the case of the first stimulant, intellect and the separable being in Plato’s view got transformed to “the (Absolute) One”, the “Supreme being” and “indescribable peak of thought and reflection.” The negative philosophies of Plutonism were among the last endeavors of Greek Culture in theologies and gnosis. Here the Greek civilization came to an end and the religion of Christ came into existence.
Just as this stage appeared in Greece after the duration of the Jewish religion, so too it took shape in another form in the middle century. This period lasted until the appearance of the Last Prophet and the religion of Islam.
The famous historian of philosophy Kapilstan says: “From the time when thought and semi-scientific and semi-philosophical research of the cosmologists replaced wisdom, counsel and (seven) maxims of the wise and the myths of the lyrists, one can say that philosophy (in any logical state) took the place of art. This philosophy reached its climax at the time of Plato and Aristotle and finally succeeded to its highest level of ascension, not in mythology but in mysticism”1
Will Durant, about the Greek Civilization says: “The religious and philosophical campaign had at present seen three stages: Attack to religion like the period before Socrates, endeavour on the path of substituting religion with the natural fantasies like the period of Aristotle and Epicures and finally returning back to religion in the period of sceptics and Stoic philosophers. This movement eventually ended in neo-Platonism and Christianity. Such kind of sequence has taken place many times in history and perhaps today too it is in the state of coming into existence…” 2
2) A few similarities can be seen between the Greek beliefs and the divine beliefs.
One view is this that the Greek culture has derived benefits from past religions, especially from the teachings of Jewish religion. Regarding this, we mention some of the testimonies:
Kapilstan says: “It was the Jews who alleged that the eminent Greek philosophers with their important thoughts and reflections were greatly indebted to the holy book.”
“Piloon” who was the fascinated one among the Greek philosophers believed that both in the Greek philosophy and in the holy book and tradition of the Jews one can find a unique reality while he was of the opinion that the philosophers have taken advantage of the holy books”
Pilooyunus (from the neo-Platonists) was of the same view that Plato has taken his wisdom from the fine books (Pentateuch) [Old Testament]. 3
Huze Nufisaguri ... had a close relation with the religious life of that time. Apparently, in Alexandria, it was at the place of conjunction and meeting of the Greek philosophers, that exclusive knowledge and Oriental religion has come into existence.4
Will Durant says: “In the entire tempests and disturbances of this period, the Jews preserved their patrimonial love for knowledge and devoted more than their required share in literature persistent in this period. Some of the most sublime parts of the holy book belongs to this period. The Greek Jews, mostly in Alexandria and partly in other East Mediterranean cities wrote masterpieces like the “Book of Jama’e” (Society book), “Prophet Daniel”, some parts “proverbs”, “Zaboor of Davood” and some greater portion of the Unknown Principle in Arabic, Hebrew and Greek languages. The scholars used to interpret the verses of Torah in to Hebrew language d schools were opened for teaching the book of principles of Torah and analyzing its moral standards for the ever-increasing young generation.”5
This recommendation was strengthened in the middle century by students of Yustin, Tatiyanus and the philosophers after him. However, another justifications, which was set forth in the middle centuries was the matter of ‘Logos’.
Yustin who was a Christian scholar, by making use of the Gospel of John, would say: “Isa Messiah is a word (logo) and the word of God … and the word of anyone who comes in this world it illuminates its luminosity. So one can conclude that it is possible to achieve faith in God through natural revelation of divine word before it is incarnated in the body of Isa and confessed among us.”6
Laaktanteyus, a Christian scholar, believed that Socrates, Plato and Sankara said many good things and in fact each one of them attained a part of the whole reality. However, the main point is this: that no one can distinguish the truth from falsehood in the beliefs of the philosophers unless he has recognized the reality from before and no one can recognize the truth from before unless God has taught him the truth through revelation7.
Some of the Christian scholars like “Arigen” too have reckoned reason to be similar to “word” and Isa Messiah and consider that to be dependent on the Divine Essence. In any case, our purpose here is to describe the dividing points of Greek philosophy from religion.
“Greece at the time of Plato was the fountain-head of such practice according of God that accepts the proof by means of reasoning”8
Among the evident specifications of Greece was independent reasoning in achieving the realities, and one of the realities too was God. This independency of reason can be seen in different ways in Greece and perhaps before Greece in nearly every kind of human and non-religious reflection. However, it entered a new phase through Socrates. He revolted against devoutness in morals and wanted to establish a rational moral.
“The majority of the people of Athens were suspicious of Socrates. The religious-minded people reckoned him to be the most dangerous of the sophists because he was against every kind of religious ceremonies and celebrations. However, he reflected on the ancient religion and wanted every law to be weighed accurately with the yardstick of reason.”9
The method of Socrates’ reasoning was a special one that reached its perfection at the time of Aristotle. It is here that some have reckoned Socrates to be the founder of philosophy. However, before describing this method we should pay attention to its principle and root.
Perhaps one can find the special independency of “reason” in the views of Heraclites. He was the first person to emphasize that perceptible things are always in the state of change. Even if the philosophers before him had comprehended this reality, it was he who emphasized this matter. His fame too was mainly due to some sentences, which he has explained in this regard. For example the sentence: “You cannot keep your foot twice in one river because the fresh water is constantly flowing and passes from you.”
Aristotle narrates that Heraclites said: “All the perceptible things are always in the state of flux and no knowledge or recognition is connected to them.”10
The result of this view is that rational knowledge and recognition has no concern with the perceptible things and the affairs belonging to the material world. One cannot recognize the perceptible things unless if we remove it by some means from its materialistic and trivial state and give a non-material aspect to it. This affair was fulfilled in Greece through separation of the universal concepts from the particular ones. The Universals with all its kinds form the basis of Greek knowledge. It is only the abstractional affairs, which are constant and “reason” encompasses them.
Therefore, the only means for recognizing the world is the Universals. Perhaps the first person who put into Operation the beliefs of Heraclites was Socrates. He (i.e. Socrates) who was living during the time of sophists sought to find a solution for the doubts of the sophists.
“The sophists recommended the theory of relativity and denied all things which possessed the required and universal consideration. However Socrates paid attention to this reality that the Universal concept remains uniform. It is possible that the particular ones undergo change but the meaning remains constant”.11
The main aim of Socrates was to describe a blissful and ethical life and he sought to fulfil this task by resorting to the Universal definition of ethical virtues. He reckoned the source of these definitions to be the human soul. However, he believed that one could have access to the Universal definitions only through reasoning and dialogue.
In the beginning, he would with utmost skill reveal his opponent’s self-contradictions and manifest his mistake for him. Thereafter, he would assist him in following the matter by himself and in discovering the truth. Dialogue and Dialectic would begin from a “less adequate” definition and move forward to a more adequate definition and or move forward from observation and examination of trivial cases to a Universal definition. Sometimes he would not reach to any decisive conclusion in practice but nevertheless his aim was one: i.e. searching one correct and Universal definition12.
Therefore, Aristotle says that there are two advancements in knowledge that we can truly attribute to Socrates: putting into effect the inductive reasoning and the universal definitions.13
Plato, who became acquainted with the beliefs of Heraclites through Kratulus (one of the followers of Heraclites) accepted his view that the perceptible things are constantly in the state of revival and becoming (process), and no type of knowledge and recognition has an attachment with the perceptible things. He also accepted the view of his teacher Socrates that probe and definition is through the Universals.
Plato, who reckoned on the one hand the perceptible things to be variable, and on the other hand that recognition is possible through invariable and general affairs, came to this view that the Universals exist in another world called the world of “exemplary ideas” These Universals or exemplary ideas are abstract and fixed affairs which exist in another world separate from the perceptible things. On the other hand, the perceptible things exist by virtue of benefiting from the exemplary ideas and the actual recognition of one thing is in reality the recognition of its abstract example.
Aristotle accepts the recommendation of “Ma’rifat” (gnostic knowledge) through the Universals from his master Plato. However, he does not believe that there is another existence for the Universities separate from the perceptible things. According to Aristotle, “the reasoning by virtue of which it makes possible and explains the view of Plato about rational knowledge, only proves that Universal is a reality and fantasy and illusion is not for the mind. However it does not prove that the Universal is separated from the abstract things, life and innate order.”14
On the other hand, he finds many faults about the view of exemplary ideas. Therefore, Aristotle, while accepting this matter that knowledge is connected to the Universal, and searching for the Universal in the perceptible world, acknowledges that the perceptible, abstract and multiple are not due to the multiplicity and greatness of the Universal. Thus everything has a Universal aspect and it is the responsibility of the philosophers to detach that Universal.
According to Aristotle, Universal is not merely a subjective concept or a state of literal definition. Rather, like the Universality in mind a specific essence exists in the perceptible things even though this specific essence is not immaterial and separate from the perceptible things. This specific essence that has one kind of existence in a person is a real foundation for the separable Universal that has a numerical unity in mind, and it indiscriminately be the carrier of all grades of parts. The matter of existence of common genus in species too is expounded in the same manner until we reach to the genus of genera which the highest genus that can be indifferently conveyed over the lower genus.
This genus of genera is of the same category, which according to Aristotle is ten and is named as the ten categories. In this way we reach the species, genera and categories.
Similarly, by paying attention to the various species, the concept of reason, apart from separating the common aspects between them which were genus, also separates the uncommon ones which are differentiated. By combination of common factors and the distinguishing factors i.e. genus and differentia it achieves a universal meaning of one kind.
Therefore, for recognizing the quality of a person, firstly by way of the afore-said separation, we come to know the kind of that person; but the quality of this kind is yet unknown. So by the same method we attain the genus and differentia and by combination of the two known universal (genus and differentia) we attain the unknown (definition and quality of its kind). By this method we will be successful in discovering the quality of things.
This matter was true to imaginations. However with regard to confirmations i.e. certifying the attribute for the proposition, we first gather together the elementary materials i.e. a number of known suppositions and then we keep two self-evident propositions and two known confirmations (where carrying the attribute upon the proposition in them is self-evident) next to each other in a special form till we reach to the third case which was unknown. Here we will succeed in proving the unknown proposition.
From the above matter it becomes clear that making use of the Universals for proving an affair requires a special method. The Universals as per special rule, are classified and by means of combination of these Universals we come to the propositions and by combination of the propositions we will, by following rule, have access to the rational proofs and reasoning and will discover the unknown proposition.
Therefore, making use of the Universals’ special logic is required, a logic Aristotle succeeded in discovering. As a result of compiling his logic and making perfect Heraclites beliefs, Aristotle presented the method of rational proof. By making use of this logic and the capital of Universals he himself produced a rational system which according to him was in conformity with the concrete and external system.
So henceforth, for every claim a proof was to be presented which would be in agreement with the scale of Aristotle’s logic. In the view of Aristotle and other philosophers the existence of God too was a claim, which needed philosophical proofs and before establishment of that, the philosophers had no right to believe in the existence of God.
In the divine religions God has not been set forth as one unknown matter so that His existence can be proved by logical proofs and adjustment of abstract concepts. Rather, one of God’s actions is to make Himself known to the people and to remind them of Him. It is merely a kind of manifestation of innate “Ma’rifat” (gnosis), a “Ma’rifat” (gnosis) which has been deposited in the heart of man and man must pay attention to that (Ma’rifat).
The role of Prophets was too to remind the people of their innate “Ma’rifat”; not to prove God. For this reason the Prophets instead of setting up scientific Academies and presenting the logic of separation of the Universal species and differentia and describing the conditions of collection of propositions and preparing the students for perceiving the proofs of existence of God, by taking for granted the innate “Ma’rifat” and its awakening, strived mostly in proving their Messengership through miracles. After proving their Prophethood and Messengership they would introduce beliefs, morals, commandments and the way of living a prosperous life and finally would strive to bring religion to its objectivity through divine rule.
Pious and alert people too by listening to the verses of Holy books, would perceive the reply to their innate call and pay heed to their deposited Ma’rifat and pursue the religion. Of course, impure people like Abu Jahl, Abu Lahab and Abu Sufyan too abstained from accepting God or the Messengership of Holy Prophet (S) due to various reasons like jealousy or material and economic benefits.
Other too, who wished to have lengthy discussion with regard to proof of God, were introduced as obstinate persons. Although Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams (a) were always ready for discussion and good disputation and even trained some for this purpose, such good disputation is different from establishing philosophical proofs. The manner of these two paths and their addressers and their aims differ from each other.
In dispute, the aim is refuting the false matter or disproving the refutation, which has been established on true saying. In this way, the obstacle to guidance i.e. the enemy, the very mental fabrications and false superstitions, is broken, and the way is prepared for guidance through reminding. Therefore the aim of Dispute is not to make the enemy reach the fact but to remove the obstacle to one’s guidance. Discussion about dispute and proofs in the methods of Prophets will come in the second stage of the third section of the book.
The manifestation of theology after the divine religions too shows the same meaning because the theologians take for granted the existence of God and their aim is to defend the divine “Ma’arif” (gnostic knowledge) and to get rid of the doubts of the obstinate ones. If ever they resort to logical reasoning for proving the existence of God it is merely for debate, dispute and silencing of the enemy and not for achieving the fact, since a theologist has already reached the fact from before.
Now we shall derive testimonies from three divine religions i.e. Islam, Christianity and Judaism with regard to the above matter.
“None of the writers of the Old Testament have discussed the existence of God in the form of indescribable question and answers and or in the form of intermixed skepticism since the Semitic soul sees God in the inspiration. What we said about the Old Testament is also true to the New Testament with a slight variation.”15
In the Journey of Exodus, it has come in Torah that: “Moses in reply said: Indeed Thy will not accept they and me will not listen to me. Rather they will say. Jehovah has not been revealed upon you. Then God told him: “What is in your hand?” He replied: A rod. God said: Throw it on the ground. When he threw it on the ground it turned into a snake and Moses fled from it. Then God told Moses: Stretch out your hand and catch its tail. So Moses stretched out his hand and when he caught hold of the snake, it turned back into his rod. This was, so that they believe that Jehovah of their God, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God and Yaqoob’s God is revealed upon him.” (Old Testament (Torah); London 1895; Journey of Exodus; Chapter Five)
Just as it can be seen Bani-Israel had doubted the Prophethood of Prophet Moses and it was not that they have denied God and in order to prove that God has conversed with Moses (Jehovah), God gives Moses the miracle of the rod.
In the book of ‘Prophet Ezekiel’ it has come that: “And his sons (Bani-Israel) are adamant and hardhearted and I am sending you to them to say that the God (Jehovah) has said as such and whether they listen or (not for they are seditious people) they will realize that a Prophet is among them.” (Same source: hook of Prophet Ezekiel chapter two)
“Surely if I had sent you to other than Bani-Israel they would have listened to you. However the family of Israel do not wish to listen to you for they do not wish to listen to me for the entire family of Israel are adamant and hardhearted.” (Same source, chapter three)
Just as it can be seen in the above verses the reason that the family of Israel did not accept God and His Prophet was that they were hardhearted, adamant and seditious and not because they lacked reasons for proving God. Similarly it has come in the above verses that Bani-Israel will realize that a Prophet is among them i.e. as soon as listening to the talks of Prophet and verses of God they will understand that these talks are the verses of God and its speaker is a Prophet. This is because the talks of a Prophet is the reply to the innate call of human beings and causes man to pay attention to his Ma’arif (gnosis). However, it is only for the pure heart, which is ready by tongue and action to accept the existence of God and not the hard and cruel heart.
In the Gospel of Barnabas it has come that: When Isa (Yasou) reached the age of thirty, Gabrail descended upon him and delivered God’s message to him and Isa (Jesus) realized that he is one Prophet sent towards the Israelites. So after bidding farewell to Mary, he came down from the mountain and traveled towards Jerusalem. On the way, he came across a person who suffered from leprosy and he cured him. When people came to know of this affair, they proceeded towards Isa (‘a) and surrounded him in order to be informed of the realities.
We continue the talk from the sayings of Barnabas: “The soothsayers went back and forth towards Yasou and said: This tribe wishes to see you and hear from you, so climb over this stand and when God presents you a word converse with Him in the name of God. Thus Yasou climbed on top, the place where the speakers were habituated in speaking over there and when he signaled with his hand, a signal for observing silence, he opened his mouth and said: Blessed is the name of God who wills by His Beneficence and Mercy. Then He created His creatures so that they praise Him. Blessed is the pure name of God who created the light of all His Prophets before anything else in order to send them for the deliverance of the world…”
Thereafter, he spoke something about the creation of angels and man and about the history of man and the previous Prophets. Then he referred to the Day of Judgement and advised the people and rebuked the soothsayers for being negligent in the way of God and for being greedy. Similarly he rebuked the scholars because of their corrupt teachings and concealment of the Divine Laws.
Barnabas says: “The words of Yasou had its effect on the tribe such that all began to cry from the small to their big ones. They implored his mercy and lamented before him in order that he prays for them. But the words had no effect among their priests and chiefs who did not conceal on that day their enmity with Yasou since he had spoken such words, which were against the priests, the scholars and their writings. So they decided to kill him…” (Gospel of Barnabas)
Just as it can be seen, after the speech of Prophet Isa (‘a), which did not contain any philosophical proofs in proving God or Prophethood, the people were impressed and moved. While paying attention to God they recognized Isa (‘a) by his speech and reckoned him to be the Prophet of God, except for the priests and chiefs among them. As Prophet Isa had spoken against them and raised the curtain from their ugly deeds, they bore enmity with him and were determined in killing him.
Therefore in the invitation of Isa, there was no logical reasoning and the people too were moved and accepted his call except the unjust and the evil-doers who denied him due to their obstinacy.
Perhaps some may say that Bani-Israel by means of guidance of the preceding Prophets through philosophical reasoning all believed in God and so Isa did not produce any logical reasoning for them.
In reply, let us assume upon the truthfulness of this saying, that all the people before the appointment of Prophet Isa were believers:
Firstly, with regard to the previous Prophets like Prophet Moses nothing like proof of God through philosophical reasoning can be found in the Old Testament. Rather, testimonies can be found contrary to this matter, some of which we described in the section on Judaism.
Secondly, recognizing God is the most fundamental matter in the guidance of man. If the Ma’rifat (gnosis) of God is achieved through logical reasoning then an “Ulul-Azm” (Arch-Prophet) like Isa should at least speak about and remind the people about it on some occasions. But in the heavenly books at hand this matter cannot be seen at all.
Thirdly, understanding this philosophical reasoning requires a very sharp mind and one has to go through many stages while the majority of the people are helpless in this regard. Therefore if the Ma’rifat of God was stalled upon such reasoning then at the least some of the Bani-Israelites should not have recognized God. Thus it was necessary upon Isa to refer to these reasoning and explain them in his first invitation or in the later ones; however, we do not see anything of this kind. The Christian philosophers of the middle century too, under the influence of the Holy Book, reckoned man to be carrying a divine image, the presence of God in our existence. That is to say, God is constantly present in us by means of this image. This matter is sometimes propounded as divine intuition.
They reckoned the Ma’rifat (gnosis) of God to be a potential Ma’rifat and thought the reasoning for proof of existence of God to be only a factor for actualization of the potential Ma’rifat.
Bunawantura believed that the existence of God is a reality that xists in the depths of our hearts, and the best and the most reliable way for achieving the Ma’rifat of God is the innermost part and the journey of the self, not a journey of the horizons. This is because the Ma’rifat of God exists in a person potentially and by way of natural disposition and man should, by deliberation and reflection with regard to this innate Ma’rifat put it into effect. The journey of the horizon too is derived from the journey of the soul; with the journey of the horizons man should ponder over the realities of the external world and the divine manifested signs so that his innate Ma’rifat is manifested more. These divine signs, because of being a sign and a symbol are one kind of reminder and remembrance of God.
Gariguri Nisa believed that the best way of knowing God is knowing ones own self because if man recognizes himself as a divine image he has in reality recognized God.16
In numerous verses the Holy Qur’an calls itself the book of guidance.17 And the most fundamental matter in the guidance of man is the matter of knowing God. Therefore one should see how Qur’an interprets the matter of knowing God. Moreover, since the traditions of the Infallibles too are considered to be the interpretations of Qur’an we shall make use of the traditions too along with the verses of Qur’an.
The verses of Qur’an have spoken in various forms of the innateness of Ma’rifat (gnosis) of God and the heedlessness of proof of God. Over here we divide the verses of Qur’an and traditions into ten parts and in every part a few Ayats and traditions will be referred to as examples.
1-In many verses of Qur’an it has come about the divine Prophets saying that there is no doubt and hesitation in the existence of God and if it is asked from the people as to who is their creator they will reply God.
قَالَتْ رُسُلُهُمْ أَفِي اللَّـهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
“Their Apostles said: Is there doubt about Allah, the Maker of the heavens and the earth?” (Holy Qur’an: 14:10)
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّـهُ
“And it you ask them who created the heavens and the earth, they will certainly say: Allah” (Holy Qur’an: 25: 31) and (39: 38)
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّـهُ
“And if you should ask them who created them, they would certainly say: Allah” (Holy Qur’an: 43: 87)
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّن نَّزَّلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ مِن بَعْدِ مَوْتِهَا لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّـهُ
“And if you ask them who is it that sends down water from the clouds, then gives life to the earth with it after its death, they will certainly say, Allah” (Holy Qur’an: 29: 63)
((قال رسول الله (صلّى الله عليه و آله):كلُّ مولودٍ يُولَد على الفطرة، يعني على المعرفةِ أنّ الله عزّ و جلّ خالقُه، فذلك قوله عزّ و جل: وَلَئِن سأَلْتَهم مَن خَلَق السماواتِ والأرضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ الله))
Holy Prophet (S) said: “Every child is born in accordance with his innate disposition (Fitrah) and by “Fitrah” is meant “Ma’rifat” (gnosis) and recognition of God being the Creator and this verse “If you ask who is the creator of the heavens and the land they will say: ‘God”, gives indication to this same matter.( Shaikh Kulaini - Usul al-Kafi. Tasheeh ali-Akbar Ghaffari, Darul Kutub al Islamiyah, Tehran, 5th Edition vol. 2. pg. 13)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) في قول الله: وَ إذ أخذ ربك من بني آدم. الاية. قال: كان ذلك معاينة الله فأنساهم المعاينة و أثبت الاقرار في صدورهم و لولا ذلك ما عرف أحد خالقه و لا رازقه و هو قول الله: و لئن سئلهم من خلقهم ليقولن الله))
It is narrated from Imam Sadeq (‘a) about the verse of covenant that: In the covenant, the people witnessed God with certainty. Then God made the people to forget this test but kept their confession towards God protected within their hearts. And if this test and confession was not there, nobody would have recognized his Creator and Sustainer; this verse gives indication to this very matter: “If you ask them who has created them, they will say ‘God’.” (Allama Majlisi - Bihar al-Anwar Darul Kutub Islamia, Tehran 4th edition vol. 5 pg. 223)
2-It has come in the verse of covenant that God took confession from the sons of Adam about His lordship and this confession was taken in order that the unbelievers and the polytheists cannot say on the Day of Judgement that they were heedless of God or that because their forefathers were polytheists they too became polytheists.
This verse and numerous traditions, which have come under this verse shows that all the human beings have witnessed God by test in a world before this world. If in case this Ma’rifat (gnosis) was not there, then recognition of God, His name and attributes would have become impossible for man. Thus God has taken from the human beings their confession in His Lordship so that the argument is finished upon all of them and they do not put forward any excuse that they were heedless of God or attribute their disbelief to their social environment or a society contaminated with polytheism.
This verse shows that this innate Ma’rifat is the actual argumentation upon all the human-beings and it should be such that it should have the possibility of manifesting and appearing in every person in this world so that God can argue against their excuse of heedlessness. Similarly, this Ma’rifat should be so clear and powerful within a person that environmental and family conditions do not affect and overcome him. That is to say, even in a society contaminated with polytheism, it (i.e. Ma’rifat) should not get destroyed.
Now we mention a Holy verse along with some traditions.
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ شَهِدْنَا أَن تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَـٰذَا غَافِلِينَ. أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِّن بَعْدِهِمْ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ
“And when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants, and made them bear witness against their own souls: Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes! We bear witness. Lest you should say on the day of resurrection: Surely we were heedless of this or you should say: Only our fathers associated others (with Allah) before, and we were an offspring after them. Wilt Thou then destroy us for what the vain doers did?” (Holy Qur’an: 7: 172-173)
((قال زرارة و سألته عن قول الله عزَّ و جل و إذ أخذ ربك من بني آدم. الاية. قال: أخرج من ظهر آدم ذريته الى يوم القيامة، فخرجوا كالذر فعرفهم و أراهم نفسه و لولا ذلك لم يعرف أحد ربه...))
With regard to the verse of covenant, Imam Baqir (‘a) said: “God takes out the sons of Adam from the rear of Adam till the Day of Judgement. They were minute particles when God made them recognize Him and if this event had not occurred then no one would have been able to recognize Him.” (Usu1 al-Kafi; vol. 2; pg. 13)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) قال: سألته عن قول الله عزَّ و جل: "فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها"، ما تلك الفطرة؟ قال هي الاسلام، فطرهم الله حين أخذ ميثاقهم على التوحيد، "قال ألستُ بربكم" و فيه المؤمن و الكافر))
About the verse of “Fitrah” (innate disposition) it was asked from Imam Sadeq (‘a) as to what is “Fitrah”. Imam replied: “It means Islam. At the time of covenant God natured the people upon “Tauheed” (monotheism) and said: “Am I not your Lord?” In this event, both the believers and unbelievers were present.” (Usu1 al-Kafi; vol. 2; pg. 13)
((عن زرارة قال: سألت أبا عبدالله (عليه السلام) عن قول الله: و إذ أخذ ربك من بني آدم. الاية. قال: ثبتت المعرفة في قلوبهم و نسوا الموقف و سيذكرونه يوماً و لولا ذلك لم يدر أحد من خالقه و لا من رازقه))
It was asked from Imam Sadeq (‘a) about the verse of covenant and he said: “The recognition of God remained firm in the hearts of the people. They have forgotten the place of covenant but a day shall come when they will remember it. If such an affair was not there, then nobody could know who is his Creator and Sustainer.” (Bihar al-Anwar; vol. 3; pg. 280)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) في قول الله: و إذ أخذ ربك من بني آدم. الاية. قال: كان ذلك معاينة الله فأنساهم المعاينة و أثبت الإقرار في صدورهم و لولا ذلك ما عرف أحد خالقه و لا رازقه و هو قول الله: و لئن سئلتهم من خلقهم ليقولن الله))
(Same source; vol. 5; pg. 223)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) في قوله و إذ أخذ. الاية. قلت معاينة كان هذا؟ قال نعم فثبتت المعرفة و نسوا الموقف و سيذكرونه و لولا ذلك لم يدر أحد من خالقه و لا من رازقه، الحديث))
(Same source; vol. 5; pg. 237)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) في قول الله و إذ أخذ ربك من بني آدم. الآية. قال نعم لله الحجة على جميع خلقه أخذهم يوم أخذ الميثاق هكذا- و قبض يده-.))
(Same source; vol. 5; pg. 280)18
3-In the verse of “Fitrah”, the verse first calls (the people towards religion and then interprets the religion as “Fitrah” of God which man has been natured and molded upon that (Fitrah). In the end, the verse says that such ‘Fitrah’ is not worthy of change and alteration and the everlasting and steadfast religion too is the same innate and natural religion. Therefore the religion which is not based on “Fitrah” cannot be steadfast and permanent.
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّـهِ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
“Then set your face upright for religion in the right state - the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah’s creation; that is the right religion, but most people do not know” (Holy Qur’an: 30:30)
The traditions which have come in the books of tradition about the matter of Ma’rifat (gnosis) of God being innate and natural are many. For example in the book of “Esbaatul-Huda” there is a chapter in the beginning of the book named as: “Annal Ma’rifatul Ejmaliyatun Zarooriyatun Mauhebatun Fitriyatun Laa-Kasbiyeh” and 65 traditions have been narrated and the author adds that he has brought only some of these traditions.
Similarly in the book of “Tauheed al-Sadooq” in the 53rd chapter under the title “Bab Fitrahullah azza Wa jallal khalqo alal tauheed”, ten traditions have been mentioned with regard to Ma’rifat (gnosis) of God being innate.”
Moreover, in the book of Usul al-Kafi, five traditions have been narrated under “Babo Fitrahul Khalqe alal tauheed”.
Over here, we narrate as an example, few traditions from the book of Bihar al-Anwar:
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) في قول الله عزَّ و جل: فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها، قال فطرهم على التوحيد))
About verse of Fitrah, Imam Sadeq (‘a) said: God has natured the people upon Tauheed (Monotheism). (Bihar al-Anwar; vol.3; pg. 277)
((وعن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) قال: قلت: ((فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها)) قال التوحيد))
((وعن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) قال: سالته عن قول الله عزَّ و جل: ((((فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها)) قال التوحيد))
((وعن زرارة قال قلت لابي جعفر (عليه السلام) اصلحك الله قول الله عزَّ و جل في كتابة: ((فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها)) قال: فطرهم على التوحيد عند الميثاق على معرفته انه ربهم. قلت: و خاطبوه؟ قال: فطأطأ رأسه ثم قال: لولا ذلك لم يعلموا من ربهم ولا من رازقهم))
(Same source; pg. 278)
Imam Baqer (‘a) with regard to verse of Fitrah said: At the time of covenant, God made the people recognize His Lordship and natured Tauheed (monotheism) upon them. The narrator asked Imam (‘a): Did God address them? Imam shook his head in the affirmative and said: If such an address was not there, then people would not have recognized their Lord and Sustainer.
((عن زرارة قال: سألت ابا جعفر (عليه السلام) عن قول الله عزَّ و جل: ((فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها)) قال: فطرهم على على معرفته انه ربهم و لولا ذلك لم يعلموا- اذا سُئِلوا- من ربهم ولا من رازقهم.
(Same source; pg. 279)
4-Verses of Qur’an reckon religion to be “Hanif.” (Upright) and just as it was seen in the verse of Fitrah, Qur’an has interpreted “Hanif” as Fitrah (innate disposition) and in other aspects of verses too, the traditions have interpreted “Hanifiyeh” as Fitrah.
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا
“Then set your face upright for religion in the right state - the nature made by Allah in which He has made men.” (Holy Qur’an: 30: 30)
حُنَفَاءَ لِلَّـهِ غَيْرَ مُشْرِكِينَ بِهِ
“Being upright for Allah, not associating aught with Him” (Holy Qur’an: 22: 31)
وعن قول الله عز وجل: ((حنفاء لله غير مشركين به))، فقلت: ما الحنفية؟ قال: هي الفطرة))
(Bihar al-Anwar; vol.3; pg. 276)
عن ابي جعفر (عليه السلام) قال: سألته عن قول الله عز وجل: ((حنفاء لله غير مشركين به)) و عن الحنيفية؟ فقال هي الفطرة التي فطر الناس عليها، لا تبديل لخلق الله قال: فطرهم على المعرفة))
(Same source: pg. 279)
About the meaning of “Hanifiyeh” Imam Baqer (‘a) said as such: It means the Fitrah (Innate disposition) which God has created everyone in accordance to that and there is no alteration in the creation of God. He has created everyone based on His Ma’rifat and recognition.
وما الحنيفية؟ قال: هي الفطرة التي فطر الناس عليها، فطر الله الخلق على معرفته))
(Same source: pg. 279)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) قال: إن الحنيفية هي الاسلام))
(Same source: pg. 281)
5-Those verses, which consider guidance to be the Action of God - These verses, from the viewpoint of number, are the most and from the viewpoint of reasoning are the best in serving the purpose of our discussion.
To elaborate, in many verses God has mentioned guidance to be an act exclusive for Himself having no one as partner in that act. These verses consider real guidance to be that guidance, which is only from God i.e. its doer, is God.
In the traditions too which have come with regard to this matter in various books, the action of definition of God is explicitly considered as the creative power of God in which no one else plays any role. Therefore if God had not introduced Himself none could have had the ability of knowing Him because there is no human channel for knowing God – any channel would have been merely the human imagination.
As examples we mention some verses and traditions:
إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا لَلْـهُدَىٰ
“Surely ours is it to show the way” (Holy Qur’an: 92: 12)
إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
“Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He please.” (Holy Qur’an: 28: 56)
لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِأَنفُسِكُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ اللَّـهِ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تُظْلَمُونَ
“To make them walk in the right way is not incumbent on you, but Allah guides aright whom He pleases.” (Holy Qur’an: 2: 272)
إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّـهِ هُوَ الْهُدَى
“Surely Allah’s guidance, is the (true) guidance.” (Holy Qur’an: 6: 71 and 2: 120)
وَلَا تُؤْمِنُوا إِلَّا لِمَن تَبِعَ دِينَكُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ الْهُدَىٰ هُدَى اللَّـهِ أَن يُؤْتَىٰ أَحَدٌ مِّثْلَ مَا أُوتِيتُمْ أَوْ يُحَاجُّوكُمْ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ الْفَضْلَ بِيَدِ اللَّـهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“Surely the (true) guidance is the guidance of Allah” (Holy Qur’an: 3: 73)
قلت لابي عبدالله (عليه السلام): المعرفة مِن صنع مَن هي؟ قال من صنع الله، ليس للعباد فيها صنع))
Narrator says: I asked Imam Sadeq (‘a) that Ma’rifat and making (the people) to recognize God the work of whom? Imam (‘a) said: It is the work of God and not His servants. (Usul al-Kafi; vol.1; pg.163)
))عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) قال ليس لله على خلقه ان يعرفوا وللخلق على الله أن يعرًّفهم، ولله على الخلق إذا عرَّفهم أن يقبلوا))
(Same source pg. 164)
Recognition of God is not the responsibility of human beings. It is upon God to introduce Himself and it is upon the people to accept Him after introduction.
قلت لابي الحسن الرضا (عليه السلام) للناس في المعرفة صُنع؟ قال: لا. الحديث))
It was asked from Imam Reza (‘a) whether the people had any role in the Ma’rifat (gnosis) of God to which Imam (‘a) replied in the negative. (Bihar al-Anwar; vol. 5; pg. 221)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) قال: لم يكلف الله العباد المعرفة و لم يجعل لهم اليها سبيلا))
Imam Sadeq (‘a) said: God has not made responsible the human beings for His Ma’rifat and has also not set up any way in them for Ma’rifat. (Same source: pg. 222)
((سُئِلَ أمير المؤمنين (عليه السلام) بِمَ عرفت ربك؟ قال بما عرَّفني نفسه))
It was asked from Amir al Mu’meneen Ali (‘a) as to how he has recognized his Lord. He replied: I have recognized Him by His own introduction.
((سمعت ابا عبدالله (عليه السلام) يقول: إن أمر الله كله عجيب إلّا أنه قد إحتج عليكم بما قد عرَّفكم من نفسه))
(Usul al-Kafi; vol.1; pg. 86)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) قال: إن الله احتج على الناس بما اتاهم و عرَّفهم))
(Same source pg.162)
((إن الله يحتج على العباد بما اتاهم و عرفهم، ثم ارسل اليهم رسولاً و أنزل عليهم الكتاب فأمر فيه و نهى..))
(Same source pg.164)
((قلت لابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) أصلحك الله هل جُعِلَ في الناس اداة ينالون بها المعرفة؟ قال: فقال: لا، قلت: فهل كلفوا المعرفة؟ قال لا، على الله البيان))
(Same source pg. 163)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) أنه سُئِل عن المعرفة أهي مكتسبة؟ فقال: لا. فقيل له فمن صنع اللع عز وجل ومن عطاءه هي؟ قال نعم و ليس للعباد فيها صنع و لهم إكتساب الاعمال))
(Tauheed al-Sadooq; chapter 64; pg. 416)
قال أمير المؤمنين (عليه السلام): إعرفوا الله بالله و الرسول بالرسالة و اولى الامر بالامر بالمعروف و العدل و الاحسان))
(Usul al-Kafi; vol. 1; pg. 85)
وعن منصور بن حازم قال: قلت لابي عبد الله (عليه السلام) إني ناظرت قوما فقلت لهم: إن الله أكرم و أجل من ان يعرف بخلقه، بل العباد يعرفون بالله، فقال رحمك الله))
(Bihar al-Anwar; vol. 3; pg. 270)
((إلهي بِكَ عَرَفْتُكَ وَاَنْتَ دَلَلْتَني عَلَيْكَ وَدَعَوْتَني اِلَيْكَ، وَلَوْلا اَنْتَ لَمْ اَدْرِ ما اَنْتَ))
(Dua al-Abu-Hamza Ath-Thumali)
((يا مَن دَلَّ على ذاته بذاته))
6-Verses of Qur’an reckon the responsibility of Prophets and the heavenly books to be that of “reminding”. Just as we had seen in the previous verses, recognition of God takes place through God himself.
Therefore, it can be said that the roles of Prophets in the section of ‘Knowing God’ is not to prove God which is unknown. Rather their role is to remind the Ma’rifat of God since, the people, by getting involved in this material life become heedless of the Ma’rifat of God. Thus the role of Prophets is to remind this Ma’rifat. This reminder in Arabic is the same “Tazakkur” With regard to proving some unknown affair or teaching some matter the word of “Tazakkur” is not used in Arabic language. Rather “Tazakkur” is used in the case of reminding something which was previously existing.
((فيقال أذكرتُه و ذكرتُه ماكان فتذكر))
(Faiyumi: Al-Mesbah Ul Munir; pg. 209)
((و الذِكر و الذِكرى بالكسر، خلاف النسيان))
(Jauhari: As-Sahih; vol. 2; pg. 665)
((ذكرت الشيء، خلاف نسيته، ثم حمل عليه الذكر باللسان و يقولون إجعله منك على ذُكر بضم الذال، أي لا تنسه))
(Fars bin zakaria - Muajam Maqayes ul Lughat; vol. 2; pg. 358)20
Now we mention here some verses and traditions about ‘Tazakkur’.
فَذَكِّرْ إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُذَكِّرٌ
“Therefore do remind, for you are only a reminder” (Holy Qur’an: 88: 21)
فَذَكِّرْ إِن نَّفَعَتِ الذِّكْرَىٰ. سَيَذَّكَّرُ مَن يَخْشَىٰ.
“Therefore do remind, surely reminding does profit” (Holy Qur’an: 87: 9 & 10)
مَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَىٰ. إِلَّا تَذْكِرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ.
“We have not revealed the Qur’an to you that you may be unsuccessful. Nay, it is a reminder to him who fears.” (Holy Qur’an: 20: 2 & 3)
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ وَقُرْآنٌ مُّبِينٌ
“It is nothing but a reminder and a plain Qur’an” (Holy Qur’an: 36: 69)
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
“It is nothing but a reminder to the nations.” (Holy Qur’an: 38: 87)
وَمَا هِيَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْبَشَرِ
“…And this is naught but a reminder to the morals.” (Holy Qur’an: 74: 31)
With regard to the duties of a Prophet, Ali (‘a) says:
(( فبعث فيهم رُسُله و واتر اليهم انبيائه ليستأدوهم ميثاق فطرته و يذكروهم منسئ نعمته))
(Nahjul Balagha 1st sermon)
Then God appointed Prophets and Messengers one after the other in order to take back the covenant of Fitrah from the people and make them heedful of this forgotten bounty.
Just as it can be seen the duty of the Prophets is to remind about the divine Fitrah regarding which in the previous world a pledge and covenant had been taken. This Fitrah is the very great bounty, which is forgotten and neglected by most of the people.
The renowned historian, Masoodi too in the beginning of his book ‘Murooj uz Zahab’ has narrated a very magnificent and meaningful sermon from Ali (‘a). In this sermon, while explaining the greatness of Holy Prophet of Islam (S), Ali (‘a) mentions the fact that Holy Prophet use to warn the people of the pledge and covenant of ‘Alam al-Zar’ (World of pre-existence):
((فضَّل محمداً (صلَّى الله عليه و آله) في ظاهر الفترات، فدعا الناس ظاهراً و باطناً و ندبهم سراً و اعلاناً و استدعى (عليه السلام) التنبيه على العهد الذي قدمه الى الذر قبل النسل))
(Murooj az-Zahab. Daarul Ma’rifat; vol. 1; pg. 33)
7-Many verses after mentioning some points like the manner of creation and regularity of the Universe, set forth the matter of ‘Tazkereh’ (reminder) and with phrases like ‘La’allakum Tazakkaroon’ (so that you may be mindful) or ‘Afalaa Tazakkaroon’ (will you not then mind?) They explain that the ofersaid matter is because of reminding the human-beings and play the role of admonishers and not proving a vague and unknown matter, as was described by Ayats in point No. 6.
قُل لِّمَنِ الْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهَا إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ. سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّـهِ قُلْ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ.
“Say: Whose is the earth, and whoever is therein, if you know? They will say: Allah, Say: Will you not then mind?” (Holy Qur’an: 23: 84-85)
وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ خِلْفَةً لِّمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يَذَّكَّرَ
“And He it is who made the night and the day to follow each other for him who desires to be mindful.” (Holy Qur’an: 25: 62)
وَيُبَيِّنُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ
“…And makes clear His communications to men, that they may be mindful.” (Holy Qur’an: 2: 221)
وَالسَّمَاءَ بَنَيْنَاهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ. وَالْأَرْضَ فَرَشْنَاهَا فَنِعْمَ الْمَاهِدُونَ. وَمِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَا زَوْجَيْنِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ.
“And the heaven, We raised it high with power, and most surely we are the makers of things ample. And the earth, We have made it a wide extent; how well have we then spread (it) out. And of everything we have created pairs that you may be mindful.” (Holy Qur’an: 51: 47-49)
It has come in Nahjul Balaghah that:
((الحمدلله المتجلّي لخلقه بخلقه))
(Nahjul Balaghah - Subhi Saleh Sermon; No. 108; pg. 155)
All praise is to God who through His creatures has become manifested upon them.
((بها (الآلآت و الأدوات) تجلَّى صانِعُها لِلْعقول))
(Same source, sermon 186; pg. 273)
((لم تُحِطْ به الاوهامُ بل تجلى لها بها (مرائى)))
(Same source, sermon 185; pg. 269)
((الظاهر بعجائب تدبيره للناظرين))
(Same source, sermon 213; pg. 329)
8-Verses, which say that man pays attention towards God and seeks, help from his Creator in certain situations of life like at the time of tribulation, adversity and fear and helplessness. Basically, the world is neglectful of God. Therefore at moments of danger when man loses hopes from all the worldly manifestations, the material obstacles and curtains over the Fitrah (innate disposition) are removed from his eyes and the light of innate Ma’rifat starts setting in and this takes place all by itself without man having any authority over it.
This setting of light is the same bestowing of God’s Ma’rifat through God Himself just as the word ‘Aataynaahum’ (We have given them) has been used in some of the verses. However after the setting of light and coming out from the condition of helplessness, man becomes free once more to either continue his heedfulness and submission to God or start disbelieving in Him which usually he selects the second one.
إِذَا مَسَّكُمُ الضُّرُّ فَإِلَيْهِ تَجْأَرُونَ. ثُمَّ إِذَا كَشَفَ الضُّرَّ عَنكُمْ إِذَا فَرِيقٌ مِّنكُم بِرَبِّهِمْ يُشْرِكُونَ. لِيَكْفُرُوا بِمَا آتَيْنَاهُمْ فَتَمَتَّعُوا فَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ.
“Then when evil afflicts you, to Him do you cry for aid. Yet when He removes the evil from you, lo! A party of you associates others with their lord. So that they may be ungrateful for what We have given them; then enjoy yourselves; for soon will you know.” (Holy Qur’an: 16: 53-55)
فَإِذَا رَكِبُوا فِي الْفُلْكِ دَعَوُا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ إِذَا هُمْ يُشْرِكُونَ
“So when they ride in the ships they call upon Allah, being sincerely obedient to Him, but when He brings them safe to the land, lo! They associate others (with Him).” (Holy Qur’an: 29: 65)
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتَكُمْ إِنْ أَتَاكُمْ عَذَابُ اللَّـهِ أَوْ أَتَتْكُمُ السَّاعَةُ أَغَيْرَ اللَّـهِ تَدْعُونَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ. بَلْ إِيَّاهُ تَدْعُونَ فَيَكْشِفُ مَا تَدْعُونَ إِلَيْهِ إِن شَاءَ وَتَنسَوْنَ مَا تُشْرِكُونَ.
“Say, "Have you considered: if there came to you the punishment of Allah or there came to you the Hour - is it other than Allah you would invoke, if you should be truthful?" (40)No, it is Him [alone] you would invoke, and He would remove that for which you invoked Him if He willed, and you would forget what you associate [with Him].” (Holy Qur’an: 6: 40-41)
وَإِذَا مَسَّكُمُ الضُّرُّ فِي الْبَحْرِ ضَلَّ مَن تَدْعُونَ إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاكُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ أَعْرَضْتُمْ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ كَفُورًا
“And when adversity touches you at sea, lost are [all] those you invoke except for Him. But when He delivers you to the land, you turn away [from Him]. And ever is man ungrateful.” (Holy Qur’an: 17: 67)
وَإِذَا مَسَّ الْإِنسَانَ ضُرٌّ دَعَا رَبَّهُ مُنِيبًا إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ إِذَا خَوَّلَهُ نِعْمَةً مِّنْهُ نَسِيَ مَا كَانَ يَدْعُو إِلَيْهِ مِن قَبْلُ وَجَعَلَ لِلَّـهِ أَندَادًا لِّيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ قُلْ تَمَتَّعْ بِكُفْرِكَ قَلِيلًا إِنَّكَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ
“And when adversity touches man, he calls upon his Lord, turning to Him [alone]; then when He bestows on him a favor from Himself, he forgets Him whom he called upon before, and he attributes to Allah equals to mislead [people] from His way. Say, "Enjoy your disbelief for a little; indeed, you are of the companions of the Fire.”" (Holy Qur’an: 39: 8)
أَمَّن يُجِيبُ الْمُضْطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكْشِفُ السُّوءَ وَيَجْعَلُكُمْ خُلَفَاءَ الْأَرْضِ أَإِلَـٰهٌ مَّعَ اللَّـهِ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ
“ Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him and removes evil and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is there a deity with Allah? Little do you remember.” (Holy Qur’an: 27: 62)
((الله هو الذي يتألَهُ إليه عند الحوائج و الشدائد كل مخلوق عند إنقطاع الرجاء من كل من هو دونه و تقطُّع الاسباب من جميع ما سواه... الى أن قال: و هو ما قال رجل للصادق (عليه السلام) يا ابن رسول الله دلَّني على الله ما هو؟ فقد أكثر علي المجادلون و حيروني، فقال له يا عبدالله هل ركبت سفينة قطّ؟ قال نعم. قال: فهل كسر بك حيث لا سفينة تنجيك ولا سباحة تغنيك؟ قال: نعم. قال: فهل تعلَّق قلبك هنالك أنّ شيئا من الاشياء قادر على أن يخلِّصك من ورطتك؟ فقال: نعم، قال الصادق (عليه السلام) فذلك الشيء هو الله القادر على الإنجاء حيث لا مُنجي وعلى الإغائة حيث لا مُغيث...))
(Tauheed of Sadooq; pg. 231)21
“Allah is He who all the creatures at the time of need, hardship and hopelessness from all other things, cry and lament before Him and seek shelter in Him.” A person told Imam Sadiq (‘a): “O son of Messenger of Allah, you guide me towards Allah for many controversies have perplexed me.”
Imam (‘a) said: “O’ the slave of Allah have you ever travelled by ship?” He replied: “Yes.” Imam said: Has it happened that your ship was broken and there was no other ship to save you and you also did not knowing swimming to help you save your life? He replied: “Yes.” Imam (‘a) continued and said: “At that moment, didn’t you perceive by heart that there is someone who can save you from this dangerous situation?” He replied: “Yes.” Imam (‘a) said: “That someone is God who is powerful enough to save when others cannot do so.”
9- Verses which reckon the duty of man to only accept and submit before the innate Ma’rifat (gnosis). Just as we had seen in the other mentioned verses, guidance and introduction of God has been fulfilled through God Himself and the role of the Prophets in this regard is reminding and making (the people) to remember the same Ma’rifat.
Over here a question may arise that what is then the role of man with regard to guidance and recognition of God? The Qur’an reckons the duty of man to be submission before the divine guidance i.e. after the ‘Hujjat’ (argument) is completed for man through reminding it is now obligatory upon him to submit himself before God. Thus the religion of God is Islam and Islam means submission before God.
إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّـهِ الْإِسْلَامُ
“Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam” (Holy Qur’an: 3: 19)
((الاسلام هو التسليم))
(Bihar al-Anwar; vol. 68; pg. 309; Traditions l, 2, 3, & 4)
Of course man in this position is free i.e. in return for the gift and bounty of guidance he can either be grateful or ungrateful and so man has a role in the matter of being guided. To elaborate more, just as it was mentioned before, man has no role in the original guidance and recognition of God. However in the matter of ‘being guided’ and putting one’s self on the path of guidance, man plays a decisive role. In reality, guidance is related to both the sides - One is the guidance of God and the other is the submission of man.
إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا
“We have shown (man) the path, either he be grateful or ungrateful” (Holy Qur’an: 76: 3)
إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّـهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ وَأُمِرْنَا لِنُسْلِمَ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“Surely the guidance of Allah, that is the (true) guidance, and we are commanded that we should submit to the Lord of the worlds.” (Holy Qur’an: 6: 71)
فَإِنْ أَسْلَمُوا فَقَدِ اهْتَدَوا وَّإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْكَ الْبَلَاغُ وَاللَّـهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ
“So if they submit then indeed they follow the right way; and if they turn back, then upon you is only the delivery of the message.” (Holy Qur’an: 3: 20)
كَلَّا إِنَّهُ تَذْكِرَةٌ. فَمَن شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ.
“Nay! It is surely an admonition. So whoever pleases may mind it.” (Holy Qur’an: 74: 54, 55)
((عن ابي عبدالله (عليه السلام) الى ان قال: والله على الخلق اذا عرفهم ان يقبلوا))
(Usul al-Kafi; vol. 1; pg. 164)
((قال الصادق (عليه السلام) الى ان قال: عرفناه إمّا آخذا و إمّا تاركاً))
(Bihar al-Anwar; vol. 5; pg. 196)
Imam Sadiq (‘a) with regard to verse No. 3 of Chapter Insaan of Holy Qur’an has said: “We have introduced ourselves to mankind and they either accept this ‘Ma’rifat’ or forsake it.”
10-Verses of Qur’an reckon the cause of not acquiring guidance to be the free will of man and wicked morals like injustice and abomination. Just as we had seen in the verses in point No. 9 man is free in front of innate ‘Ma’rifat’ to either submit himself or reject it. Here we narrate verses, which say that unjust people refrain from accepting the truth and from submitting themselves before God and those people who have ethical values have faith in God.
In none of these and other verses have come that because of not having any reason for proof of God and or for not understanding the philosophical proofs a person has become an unbeliever and no where it is mentioned that a person with a good mind who has the power of perceiving philosophical proofs has turned towards religion and Islam.
وَلَقَدْ أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ وَمَا يَكْفُرُ بِهَا إِلَّا الْفَاسِقُونَ
“And certainly We have revealed to you clear communications and none disbelieve in them except the transgressor.” (Holy Qur’an: 2: 99)
وَمَا يَجْحَدُ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَّا الظَّالِمُونَ
“…And none deny Our communications except the unjust.” (Holy Qur’an: 29: 49)
بِئْسَمَا اشْتَرَوْا بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ أَن يَكْفُرُوا بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ
“Evil is that for which they have sold their soul that they should deny what Allah has reveal.” (Holy Qur’an: 2: 90)
وَاللَّـهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ
“And Allah does not guide the transgressing people.” (Holy Qur’an: 61: 5)
وَاللَّـهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
“And Allah does not guide the unjust people” (Holy Qur’an: 61: 7)
قُلْ مَن رَّبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ السَّبْعِ وَرَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ. سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّـهِ قُلْ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ. قُلْ مَن بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ يُجِيرُ وَلَا يُجَارُ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ. سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّـهِ قُلْ فَأَنَّىٰ تُسْحَرُونَ. بَلْ أَتَيْنَاهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ.
“Say: Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and the Lord of the mighty dominion?
They will say: (This is) Allah’s. Say will you not then guard (against evil)?
Say: Who is it In Whole hand is the kingdom of all things and who gives succour, but against Him succour is not given, If you do but know? They will say: (This is) Allah’s. Say: From thence are you then deceived?
Nay! We have brought to them the truth, and most surely they are liars.” (Holy Qur’an: 23: 86-90)
وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُسُلِهِ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الصِّدِّيقُونَ وَالشُّهَدَاءُ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ وَنُورُهُمْ
“And (as for) those who believe in Allah and His apostles, these it is that are the truthful and the faithful ones in the sight of their Lord: they shall have their reward and their light.” (Holy Qur’an: 57: 19)
مَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَىٰ. إِلَّا تَذْكِرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ.
“We have not revealed the Qur’an to you that you may be successful. Nay, it is a reminder to him who fears.” (Holy Qur’an: 20: 2,3)
قال الصادق (عليه السلام) في قوله عزّ و جل: إنا هديناه السبيل إمَّا شاكراً و إمّا كفوراً. قال: عرفناه إما آخذاً و إما تاركاً. و في قوله عز وجل: واما ثمود فهديناهم فاستحبوا العمى على الهدى، قال: وهم يعرفون))
(Bihar al-Anwar: vol. 5; pg. 196)
Just as it can be seen, the common point between these ten set of verses and traditions is that the manifestation of religion from God, contrary to the Greek philosophy is not an unknown and uncertain affair which can be proved by means of philosophical proofs. Rather making (the people) to recognize God is a task fulfilled by God Himself and the ‘Ma’rifat’ of God is one innate (Fitrah) Ma’rifat.
By paying attention to these verses one can in short present the mechanism of guidance as such:
The guidance of man passes through the three channels of definition (of God), reminding and submission and finally man is guided on the straight path. And in none of these three channels any matter by the name of proof of God and establishment of logical reasoning for the existence of God is propounded.
In the end it is necessary to mention that explaining the mechanism of guidance, describing the three afore-said channels and mentioning the various ways for reminding (the people) and the difference between argumentation and reminding are all outside the scope of this section and God-willing, we shall explain them in the future sections.
This section sufficed to bring only a few points to show that in the method of religion and Prophets, for introducing God and having faith in Him there exists nothing such as proof of an unknown affair and abstract reasoning like the method of formal logic of Aristotle.
- 1. Fredrik Kapilstan - History of Philosophy.
- 2. Will Durant - History of Civilization, old edition vol. 6, and pg. 270
- 3. Kapilstan: History of Philosophy vol.1 pg.636
- 4. Kapilstan: History of Philosophy vol.1 pg.618
- 5. Will Durant-History of Civilization old edition; vol. 6. pg. 198 onwards
- 6. Aten Thelson - The spirit of philosophy of the middle century
- 7. Aten Thelson - The spirit of philosophy of the middle century, pg. 43.
- 8. A. J. Arbari - Reason and Revelation in Islam
- 9. Will Durant - History of Civilization; new edition; chapter 16; pg. 416
- 10. Aristotle - Metaphysics
- 11. Kapilistan- History of Philosophy; vol.1; pg.149
- 12. Kapilistan- History of Philosophy; vol.1; pg.152.
- 13. Kapilistan- History of Philosophy; vol.1; pg.149
- 14. Kapilistan- History of Philosophy; vol.1; pg. 401.
- 15. A. J. Arbari - Reason and Revelation in Islam; pg. 5
- 16. The matter which was mentioned from Bunawantura and Gariguri Nisa was taken from the treatise of Dr. Aawani in the middle century
- 17. Refer to Holy Qur’an: Baqarah: 2 and 185
- 18. Ayatullah Mesbah Yazdi under this holy verse says: It seems that such verbal conversation cannot he achieved except with intuitive knowledge and heartly vision and its proof is the numerous traditions, which speak of interpretation of dream and the matter of examination. Several traditions, which from the viewpoint of its contents are similar and from the viewpoint of reference too are reliable, have been narrated in authentic hooks like Usul al-Kafi. Tafseer of Ali ibn Ibrahim, Tafseer al-Burhan, Tafseer al-Noor al-Thaqalain and other hooks. Perhaps the purpose of most of the verses of Qur’an it to make (the people) heedful of this tame innat “Ma’rifat” and acquaint the heart with God to the greatest possible extent. (Ma’ad of Qur’an: pg. 39, 46).
- 19. Similarly refer to chapter 64 of the book of Tauheed of Sadooq under the title “Bab ut ta’reef wal Bayan wal hujjato wal Hedayah” Where 17 traditions have been narrated and also chapter 9 of Bihar al Anwar vol.5 from the chapter of Adl under the title of “Innal Ma’rifatu Menhu Ta’ala” where 13 traditions have been narrated.
- 20. Ayatullah Javadi Amuli says: If the general principles of religion were unpreceded for mankind then neither its teaching would have something by the name of ‘Tazkerah’ (reminder) nor their rejection would have found something by the name of ‘Nesyaan’ (forgetfulness). That its affirmative matter is in the name of ‘zekr’ and its negative matter in the name of ‘Nesyaan’ it shows that that general principle was having a previous recognition and man was aware of them. It was known to him in one special place and was and rather is specifically inclined towards it but is neglected and forgotten. (Origin of Ma’ad pg. 75)
- 21. In this regard refer to the traditions which have come under the tafseer of ‘Bismillah Ar-rahman Ar-Rahim’ in the various Tafseers (traditional) books like tafseer of Burhan under Sura Hamd tradition No. 8 and 12.