Chapter 10: Our Origin

One of the most fundamental things for a human being on the way to perfection to know is that he is created by Allah for a certain purpose. There are different approaches to this matter. In Islam every person is first of all invited to study this problem and make a certain judgement about it. Nothing less than certainty of belief in Allah is acceptable. There are different ways to prove the existence of Allah and a variety of reasons. But according to Islam it is not a difficult process to understand that Allah, the One, is Existent. Every one; at every level of knowledge and understanding, can settle this problem easily. Usually when a person is a disbeliever it is because of his will, although there might be rare cases of people who have studied this problem seriously and who were really longing for the truth, but they could not find it. Usually, atheism is just an assumption. Observe the following verse:

أَفِي اللَّهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ

“Is there doubt About Allah, the maker of the heavens and the earth?” (14:10).

There are many verses in the Glorious Qur'an indicating that there were certain groups of people who were sure about the truth of the teachings of the prophets but denied them.

وَجَحَدُوا بِهَا وَاسْتَيْقَنَتْهَا أَنْفُسُهُمْ ظُلْمًا وَعُلُوًّا

“And they denied them, though their souls acknowledged them, wrongfully and out of pride.”(27:14).

The prophet Musa (‘a) told Pharaoh:

قَالَ لَقَدْ عَلِمْتَ مَا أَنْزَلَ هَٰؤُلَاءِ إِلَّا رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ بَصَائِرَ

“He said: Truly you know that none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth has sent down these as clear proof..” (17:102).

But at the same time Pharaoh was denying Allah and was claiming divinity for himself.

Thus, disbelief in Allah is mainly a moral problem rather than an epistemological one. There have been some people who had been accustomed to a certain kind of life and they had comfort and ease in that way of life. So they could not give up their post and their own way easily and observe what the prophets (‘a) invited them to. Instead of thinking and reasoning they made fun of the prophets (‘a) and attributed to them such things as madness and magic. They thought, perhaps unconsciously, that if they denied them for once they would be free for all their lives.

In Islam every value is due to the relationship with Allah. Our happiness is based on our voluntary devotion to Him. It is like the lives of plants and animals which depend on the light of sun. The sun does not need them, but they cannot survive without the sun.

بَلْ يُرِيدُ الْإِنْسَانُ لِيَفْجُرَ أَمَامَهُ

“Nay, but man desires to continue on as a libertine.” (75:5).

But if these people had studied religion seriously, they would have found reality. On the Day of Judgement they will say:

وَقَالُوا لَوْ كُنَّا نَسْمَعُ أَوْ نَعْقِلُ مَا كُنَّا فِي أَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ

“And they shall say: Had we but listened or pondered, we should not have been among the inmates of the burning fire.” (67:10).

فَاعْتَرَفُوا بِذَنْبِهِمْ فَسُحْقًا لِأَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ

“So they shall acknowledge their sins, but far will be [forgiveness] from the inmates of the burning fire.” (67:11).

As you see, their treatment was not a logical or rational one, so their treatment is considered as a sin which they will admit.

We believe in Allah, Who is the Wise. He has created the whole universe for us and has created us to get nearer and nearer to Him. (We will have a discussion about the goal of creation.) Allah is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is kinder to us than our parents. He is also the most knowing. This is Allah, Who is the Benevolent and at the same time absolutely needless.

We must be proud of having such a Lord. We must try our best to understand His advice to us, which is embodied in the pure religion, Islam. If a pupil has the best master, his ultimate honour is to take his advice and direct his attention towards him and fina1ly to be like him.

This fact is nicely expressed in this prayer from Imam Ali (‘a):

إلهي كفى بي عِزًّا أن أكون لك عَبدًا، وكفى بي فخرًا أن تكون لي رَبًّا، أنت كما أُحب فاجعلني كما تُحب

“O my God! It suffices me as glory to be your servant and it suffices me as honor to have you as my Lord. You are what I love, so make me what you love.”1

In Islam every value is due to the relationship with Allah. Our happiness is based on our voluntary devotion to Him. It is like the lives of plants and animals which depend on the light of sun. The sun does not need them, but they cannot survive without the sun.

Thus, we should change the common approach to Divine law or commands. They are not some boring duties assigned to us by Allah in exchange for His favors or His services to us. We are not to perform His commands in response to His blessings. We should know that His commands are only for our benefit. His religion, His prophets and His laws are the most precious blessings that we have ever received. Even thankfulness to Him (shukr) is for our benefit.

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ

“And when your Lord makes it known: If you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more.” (14:7).

If we are thankful, we increase our capacity to receive more blessings. With more thankfulness, again more blessings will be brought. It is an endless process. If we are not thankful, it is not harmful to Allah, but decreases our capacity for rece1v1ng His blessings, so we lose some blessings and if we continue, we will lose more.

We should always recall that He is our Lord, that our real happiness and freedom can be achieved only with our obedience to Him. There are only two ways: to be servants of Allah or to be servants of others such as oppressors or unjust govern1nents or idols. To satisfy Allah is easy, because He is the One and He only wants our happiness. He never makes mistakes and never wants impossible things. But disobedience to Allah leads us to try to obey many many gods, although it is not possible. If one wants money and fame and good position and comfort and the like, no matter how much of them he acquires, he will never be satisfied.

ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا رَجُلًا فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ مُتَشَاكِسُونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِرَجُلٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا

“Allah sets forth an example: There is a slave in whom are (several) partners differing with one another, and there is another slave wholly owned by one man. Are the two alike in condition?” (39:29).

If we think deeply we will understand that those different and conflicting gods are really our own different extreme desires. So there are two ways: to be servants of Allah or to be servants of our devious soul.

أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ أَفَأَنْتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِ وَكِيلًا

“Have you seen him who takes his low desires for his god? Will you then be a protector of him?” (25:43).

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ

“Have you then considered him who takes his low desire for his god, and Allah has made him err having knowledge.” (45:23).

Finally, consider the true story which happened during the time of Imam Musa al-Kazim (‘a). Once Imam (‘a) was walking in a lane. When he was passing by the door of one house, Imam knew that there was some celebration there in which dancing and forbidden music and wine were used. Then a slave-maid opened the door and came out to put the garbage outside. Imam asked her: “Is the owner of this house a slave or a free person?” She answered: “Free”. Imam said: “Surely he is free, because if he were a slave, he would fear his life and would not make such a session”.

When the slave-maid returned, the owner asked her why she was late. She answered that a man with such and such appearance was passing and questioned me and I replied to him in this way. The owner was shocked and began to think deeply about this sentence: “if he were a slave, he would fear his lord.” Suddenly he stood up and without putting on his shoes he went out of the house and looked for that man. When he reached Imam (‘a) he repented. This man was Bushr ibn Harith, given the title of 'hafi', meaning shoeless. He became a real believer.2

  • 1. Mafatih al-Jinan and Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 77, p. 402.
  • 2. Al-Kuna wa al-Alqab, Vol. 2, p. 153, “al-Hafi”.