Questions addressed in this chapter:
Tawhid; belief in One God – the source of all monotheistic religions
The existence of God – how do I know that God exists?
Who is God, and what is He like?
Attributes of God
What does God want of me?
Purpose of mankind’s creation
What is the purpose of life?
How can I attain my creational purpose?
God’s guidance – Prophethood and Imamah
Day of Judgment
“Say, “He is God, [who is] One” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:1).
“God, the Eternal Refuge” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:2).
“He neither begets nor is born” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:3).
“Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:4).
The first and most fundamental of the pillar of faith [in Islam] is tawhid, also reflected in the saying of la ilaha illa Allah (there is no deity but Allah [God]). Tawhid is the belief that there is but One Omniscient Almighty God, Creator and Lord. The oneness of God builds the foundations of all godsent religions which are categorized under the term monotheistic religions or under Abrahamic religions, named after the arch-prophet Ibrahim (‘a) [Abraham]. Tawhid is the fundamental pillar of faith of which all other principles of religion and the universe are built upon.
The importance of this principle is distinctly mentioned in The Holy Qur’an, and more closely in the above-mentioned surah called surah at-Tawhid. Tawhid means the unity of God. God is One without anyone alike, the Unique, the Independent, the Eternal without no beginning nor end, the Perfect without defects, the Independent to which all is dependent on and the Unbounded.
Imam Ali (‘a) has a beautifully and elegantly described God and explained tawhid in the following words:
“Eyes cannot see Him with direct witnessing. But hearts perceive Him through the realities of belief. He is known through the proofs that point to Him, described by the signs. He cannot be compared to a man. He cannot be apprehended by senses. My Lord is near all things without physically touching them. Far away without being separate. He is a speaker, but not with reflection. Manifested but not physically. Has revealed himself but not with being seen with sight [or vision]. He is separate but not with distance. Near but not with sacrificing His loftiness. He does without endeavor. He moulds, but not with limbs. He is subtle but cannot be attributed to being concealed. He is great in His greatness, but cannot be measured. He is the All-Hearing but cannot be attributed to a sense of auditory organs. He is All-Seeing but cannot be attributed with a sense [of sight]. He is the Most Merciful but cannot be attributed to the weakness of the heart. He was before all things so nothing can be said to be before Him, and He is after all things so nothing can be said to exist after Him. He is within all things but not integrated with them nor separate from the. He exists but without coming to existence. He acts without compulsion. He approves but not with motion. Places do not contain Him, and He is not contained in time, and attributes do not limit Him. The need of sleep [or slumber] never affect Him, His existence precedes time itself, and His being precedes non-existence, His eternity is before all origins, He was a Lord before there was anything to belord, and God before there was anything to be a deity of. He was known before there was anything known, He was All-Hearing before anything was to be heard. Faces feel low before His greatness and hearts tremble out of fear of Him. Souls strive desperately to attain his satisfaction.”1
The practical aspect of tawhid is the belief in God’s unity and oneness. Whilst worshipping God, one should focus on His essence, His attributes and His work in creating such unparalleled creations.
Accordingly, it means God has not begotten, nor is He begot. There is no partner or equal to Him and that he is fully independent and not in need of anything or anyone.
How can one begin to comprehend the attributes of God? Tawhid not only highlights the oneness of God but also connotes the multiple attributes that allow us to understand the unlimited inherent attributes of this great being further. God’s attributes are neither defective nor limited or separate from His being. Therefore, God is not attributed in the same way we attribute various creations in our surroundings. For instance, Man is comprised of a physical body and a metaphysical soul, and this does not restrict every person’s characteristics allowing for uniqueness.
However, man will always remain man irrespective of his attributes. The fact that man is not absolute and their attributes are changeable means they are bound to defections and imperfections. Man can, therefore, have knowledge and power; however, that knowledge and power are enclosed with defects, limitations, growth and reduction.2 Besides, many of the man’s attributes are acquired and learned. Howbeit, God’s attributes belong only to Him and are not received or acquired, or will ever seize to exist or be taken from Him. God’s attributes are absolute, perfect, unchangeable, and they are one with His being. For example, God being the Almighty and the Omniscient, also means all power belongs to God, and that He knows everything. Therefore, there is no other.3
Consequently, in the question of worship, tawhid means that only God is worthy of worship because He is God, Creator and Lord.
How do I know God exists? And how can I believe in something I cannot see?
“We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?” (The Holy Qur’an, 41:53).
Many intangible matters such as feelings, knowledge and attention cannot be comprehended by man’s senses, yet we know they exist because we apprehend their signs and effects. Therefore, man can derive the existence and occurrence of many things through signs, indicating His existence instead of actually seeing them. Man’s senses allow him to perceive signs abstractly and transcendentally, with the help of intellect and rational derivations, come to know of them.
God, in fact, manifests Himself through His signs in creation. In that way, we get to know God through the signs that point to Him. Similar to how one acquaints themselves with a writer through their text, we can acquaintance ourselves with God through His word. Whilst the used wordings and formulations show the writer’s skills and proficiency, God’s creation points to His stature, including His knowledge and power. The purport of the writer’s text indicates their purpose and the message to convey, and as such creation mirrors God’s work and His knowledge.4
Consequently, through proof and signs in creation, man can be guided to realize God’s existence. God is constantly reminding us of the decisive reality in which He wants to open our eyes for, and everything in life has something to tell us of God’s many attributes. That being said, God is constantly speaking to us through everything that exists and is happening around us and declaring Himself and His will.
There are multiple ways to reach knowledge and multiple degrees of conviction. A parable for this would be when a person sees a cloud of smoke from a distance and draws a conclusion of the presence of fire. A higher level of realizing the existence of fire is actually to see the fire and feel its warmth. Whilst the one who burns themselves in the fire obtains a higher and apprehensible knowledge of fire’s reality.5
Similarly, man’s knowledge and conviction of the immaterial and transcendental world and the Creator can reach various levels. The first level of conviction, from the above parable, is rational and can be reached through deriving the conclusion with available signs and evidence. For this, two things are needed; to know how to perceive information, mainly through senses, and thinking. Man’s senses represent the upmost channels for knowing and fulfils the first requirement. In other words, to apprehend the surrounding world with all its phenomena and collect information. Therefore, man is provided with information through his senses, based on the information and with the help of reasoning can come to conclusions. In that way, a man will come to various conclusions, setting the foundation for faith and conviction. This ability, to perceive knowledge, think and come to conclusions that lead to a conviction, are intrinsic human abilities, and therefore all people have the possibility to reach conviction in this manner.
When it comes to knowledge of God and conviction of His existence, the rational derivation is fundamental. In multiple verses in the Holy Qur’an, God calls man to reflect on his surroundings and ponder on the world in which he lives, as a fundamental step to knowledge, faith and conviction.
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what God has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2:164).
The existence of God, intellectually and rationally, can be derived through several indications, among them three main focuses:
The proof of order (the creational syncing)
Everything created must be derived back to a creator (cause-effect)
Man’s instinctive belief in his own inherent nature (fitra)
From the smallest atom to the biggest galaxy; how come there is a reoccurring pattern? What is the implication behind all elements, with all their disparate attributes, consisting of the same elementary building block, that is to say, the atom? Why does the cell, constituting the smallest building block in all living organisms, have similar functions irrespective of if it is in a unicellular organism or far more sophisticated mammals?
The proof of order is about how the order of creation and syncing witnesses a higher Omniscient and One Creator.
Man’s nature has a tendency to try to find explanations to that which fascinates him, like nature and how everything fits together like a beautifully composed symphony. God calls upon us to look around and examine the world, use intellect and reason and based on that, derive our own conclusions. He says:
“[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So, return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks?” (The Holy Qur’an, 67:3-4).
One cannot avoid seeing the harmony, interconnection and unity among creations of various phenomena and beings. This harmonious diversity forms a unity like beautiful tones in a melody or like the gearwheel in a clock; complicated in heights of its simplicity, refined to the smallest detail and interacting to make an entirety.
For instance, the solar system and the galaxies obey the power of attraction and the gravitational pull, as does the small atom. The planets orbit around the sun while the electrons orbit around the atomic core. This is whilst all the enormous galaxies are composed of various elements, whose building blocks are the smallest atoms. In turn, the atom consists of electrons, protons and neutrons. The variation in these components’ numbers and bindings, causes various atoms that, in turn, generate different elements with numerous attributes, in regards to density, colour and taste. A beautiful and worthy of reflection example is the transparent crystal, also the firmest, most beautiful and most expensive gemstone, the diamond. This jewel is in actuality nothing but the black, smooth element carbon, that turns to a beautiful diamond while under extreme pressure and heat.
In the same way, all living beings, animals and plants, consist of the same elementary design and structure. Biologically, from the smallest living unicellular organism to plants, to animals with the advanced and highly-developed system, to man, they all follow the same elementary system. The smallest complete building block in all these organisms, the cell, consists mainly of numerous common parts and a variety of homogenous functions. Despite this united foundation, the diversity and the great variation among living beings in regards to physiology and features are completely fascinating.
Even sound and light could be taken as examples. Science has shown that all sound, whether high or low, beautiful or deafening, is actually constructed on the same foundation and that the variation depends on differences in frequency, among other things. Likewise, it is the same light, but in different wavelengths, that generates various colors we see. In other words, all colours have the same united basis. Not only does science show a correlation in these reoccurrences and similarities, but there has all been a number of credited theories in wave-particle duality that suggest the relationship with every other creation formed by particles.
An additional remarkable example is the coordination of two things that do not coexist, however, one of which, created earlier, ensures the need of the other, long before its creation. For instance, the actuation of the mother’s lactation in relation to pregnancy, even before the child is born. The most remarkable thing is not only is it the child’s food prepared, but ready to be used at birth. Or that breast milk is the most nutritious, perfect and completely adjusted after the newborn’s needs and delicate system. The food is prepared and conserved in a vessel, that is the breast, developed many years before the child’s birth, and is even adjusted for the child for easy access. Observe that this is to supply the needs of something before it even comes to be, by incorporating this function into the biomechanics of creation.
Therefore, it is not about the development on the basis of the current need in another, but rather the preparation for the future and reproduction. Does this not require foresight and an overall plan, consisting of both present and future conditions and needs? Can randomized reactions, unconscious procedures or some missing higher forms of consciousness, knowledge and intelligence, have the ability to plan for future needs that do yet not exist? Does this, and an enormous amount of other amazing examples surrounding us, not signify that this coherent construction is a conscious work of a Powerful Being?
With a little reflection, one can come to realize that as small the chances are for a pen or a lamp to come to be by chance and without the interference of higher intelligence accordingly to a conscious plan, the complete compatible nature cannot have come in such away. Man’s creative ability to find new solutions and invent things is, in fact, thanks to his higher consciousness and knowledge. Is it then not more likely that a powerful and conscious Being has created this marvellous world rather than a lifeless matter, through a series of random events?
Both the united foundation and the coordinate association found in creation points to planned and conscious construction. The beautiful variation and diversity we see in creation is a result of a higher organized interplay, containing both the superficial and visual aspects but also the processes and laws unseen by the eye, but very much recognized. What does this unity and syncing, found in every corner and angle of creation, anything but a Unified Creator; One God?
The unity in creation points to and witnesses of the unity, conciseness, knowledge and power of the Creator. In the Holy Qur’an, God calls upon the thinking man to look around at creation, so that reflection may lead to insight:
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.” (The Holy Qur’an, 3:190).
“And not alike are the two bodies of water. One is fresh and sweet, palatable for drinking, and one is salty and bitter. And from each, you eat tender meat and extract ornaments which you wear, and you see the ships ploughing through [them] that you might seek of His bounty, and perhaps you will be grateful.” (The Holy Qur’an, 35:12).
While some seek proof of the higher Omnipotence only in the origin of the cosmos and in an unusual phenomenon, the Qur’anic method turns man’s attention to what seems to be an ‘ordinary’ phenomenon. Among them birth, death, embryonic state, growth, nature and its diverse phenomenon as the sun, moon, stars, rain, the sea and life as we know it. Man is encouraged to see God’s presence and signs of Him, in all surroundings. All phenomenon makes living examples of God’s power, wisdom, and mercy. Acknowledgement of these examples of all leads to higher knowledge of God. In Islam, God, knowledge of Him and turning to Him, is not excluded from mere natural catastrophes or hardships like disease or death. God is evident in the soft drizzle fall, in the fresh breeze, in the fair smell of a rose and in a child’s laugh.
Before the days of Technology and developed scientific thinking, it was not unusual explaining various phenomena with myths about mystical powers. Now, However, when science has developed, and clarified answers on some of the people’s questions, the presence of a higher power has been dismissed by some as myths and legends. Many of those who reject a higher power, argue they must either deny scientific mappings or keep an outdated world view, or approve scientific evidence and give up their religious beliefs. They carry a view of contradiction and the impression that religion and science are not compatible. This view supports the dangerous underlying impression that religion can only be kept in the shadow of ignorance and that science can flourish in the absence of religious belief. That they can’t be two non-mutually exclusive occurrences.
History indicates the clear correlation between Islam and science and how the most successful scientists and researchers of the past were, in fact, Muslim. Whose studies and achievements help pave the foundations for modern science. They studied and led research themselves, encouraged knowledge-based understanding and supported their students and common people to seek knowledge. Avicenna (Ibn Sina), Geber (Jabir Ibn Hayyan), Al-Khawarizmi, Zakariya Razi, Jamshid Al-Kashi, Al-Farabi, Biruni, Nasir Al-din Al-Tusi, Mulla Sadra and Baha Al-din Al-Ameli, even known as Sheikh Bahai, are only a few monumental examples.
These great personalities who were at the forefront of scientific revolutions within their fields were also very successful in theology and religious practice. Besides, their relationship with God, The Holy Qur’an, and Ahl Al-Bayt (‘a) was an inspiration for them to which they gained motivation to advance in their fields despite the divergence. This is clear in their work, not least in their texts and their poems, because most of them had a comprehensive insight in all contemporary subject fields including philosophy, literature and poetry.6 They saw unity in creation and science, because the Source who generated both, is One and the same.
The Holy Qur’an, is, above all, a book of guidance and is mainly intended for that purpose. Therefore, it is not limited to scientific facts, and even scientific facts appearing in The Holy Qur’an, should be seen in the light of guidance. This includes all subjects ranging from history, mathematics, biology, astronomy, morals and jurisprudence.
However, the Qur’an clearly states that it would not be possible for people to know and understand many of the scientific facts in the Qur’anic verses when they were first revealed. It is now, after the development of scientific research after hundreds of years, that some of the facts are confirmed by advanced scientific methods. This is undeniably fascinating as it makes a clear and complete proof of the missing contradiction between religion and science, but that there is also an association between those for man’s guidance.
“Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is God, the best of creators.” (The Holy Qur’an, 23:14).
“Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:30).
“And We placed within the earth firmly set mountains, lest it should shift with them, and We made therein [mountain] passes [as] roads that they might be guided.” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:31).
“And We made the sky a protected ceiling, but they, from its signs, are turning away.” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:32).
And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in orbit are swimming.” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:33).
B2. Everything Is Created, And All That Is Created Must Be Derived Back To A Creator – Philosophical Derivation
From something as basic as a wheel to something so advanced as a computer chip; can they have come to existence by themselves? Can an ascertainment be made that someone must have constructed and made those, be avoided?
Whenever a man is faced with an event or a phenomenon, the intellect tends to automatically search for its underlying cause, because man has an inner belief that there must be a cause to every effect. This cause-effect derivation underlies all questions and scientific researches. Whether it is a physician or a sociologist, or a researcher within other scientific fields, all seek to discover the cause of every phenomenon. Many researchers spend all their lives in pursuit of answers and present multiple theories. Researchers are constantly following each other’s steps and continuing the search for relevant answers without ever supposing that anything has ever happened by itself, without any underlying cause. This means that man’s intellect differentiates between phenomenon, that is what has come to existence, also called contingent existence7, and accordingly seeks that which has caused the contingent existence.
Our world is filled with contingent existences, entities that have sometimes not existed but have come to do so. Each one of those phenomena, contingent existence or also creations, must similarly have underlying causes and creators. This reality, man reacts instinctively with his reason and is then confirmed by science and logic.
How do we know something is created and therefore is contingent existence? What criteria must be fulfilled for something to be classed as such?
There are multiple common criteria for all contingent existence. These are:
• A contingent existence has a starting point; its existence has been initiated sometime, and it is possible that it does not have to exist.
• A contingent existence has an ending point, as to say it is fully possible for its existence to stop.
• A contingent existence is changeable; not least due to two earlier criteria.
Consequently, it is obvious, from the above-mentioned attributes, that a contingent existence is limited and independent on another to exist.
In short, every phenomenon that can emerge, end or change is contingent existence, and therefore, dependent on an underlying cause to exist. What does this mean?
The fact that every contingent existence requires an underlying cause that has generated it means two possible alternatives: the underlying cause is either itself a contingent existence, hence dependent on another for its existence, or the underlying cause is independent and self-existing.
When a contingent existence, in other words, a creation, has been caused by another contingent existence, of which has also been caused by third contingent existence, and so on, this chain of creations that have created other creations, will need a first cause. A parable to this would be a child whose birth depends on its parents, who in turn depend on their parents and continues on in a long chain where every couple has generated the next generation and where every generation is dependent on the one prior to it, to exist. Obviously, since this chain has started existing, it must have started somewhere. How else could it have come to existence? Particularly, when it is completely possible for it to have not existed and also to stop existing altogether.
If we deny the occurrence of the first cause, in the above-mentioned case, it would be like denying the occurrence of all the contingent existences present, in the above-mentioned case, all generations. How? Imagine a marathon race where every contestant is not allowed to start running until another contestant starts running. In such a case, the race will never start because every contestant’s start is dependent on another’s, who in turn is dependent on a third contestant’s, and so on. The necessity of a starting shot that is not dependent on the contestants, starting the race is therefore axiomatic. It is only to ascertain that if the race has started, there must be a starting shot since it could not have started otherwise. Therefore, a first cause, in this case, a starting shot, in itself independent of the other contestants, has started everything. Similarly, all contingent existences, as in creations, dependent on their cause, which is in turn dependent on its own cause and in case the first one does not come to existence, and the next one will not either. Because we sometimes through our senses, among other things, perceive the existence of matters, creations and phenomenon, we can come to know that this chain must have been started by an independent first cause. The questions are then, what this first cause is and how it could do so?
Our world is a phenomenon; it was initiated at some stage; it is fully changeable, and it is possible for it to cease. Therefore, it fulfils all the criteria to be a contingent existence. Likewise, the above-mentioned example, our world, filled with contingent existences and is itself one, points to the occurrence of a starting shot and a first cause. The first cause can in turn not be dependent on something other than its own existence, because otherwise, it would have been a contingent existence and not the first cause. Hence, the first cause must be ONE Necessary Independent Existence.8
What are the criteria of the First Cause, and how do we know it exists?
In contrast to contingent existence, the First Cause is:
Necessary; as it must exist to generate contingent existences. Observe that existence itself of contingent existences show that the First Cause exists because otherwise, the contingent existences would not exist themselves. The fact that contingent existences exist proves that the starting shot must have started the chain.
Self-existing; as the one whose existence depends on something else, is dependent on its cause to exist, and can consequently not be the First Cause, as its cause has preceded it. So, the First Cause, that does not depend on a cause preceding it must be Self-existing.
Independent; that which is dependent on something is also in need of it. The First Cause, which is Self-existing and therefore has always existed, is independent as well as self-sufficient.
Non-material or physical; as independence means independence from everything. This is while a physical or material being is in need of matter and components, and so is accordingly limited within time and space etc.
Infinite; as to exist, cease or change require a cause. Therefore, it must have always existed and continued so forever, with no beginning, end or change. That makes the First Cause, also called the Necessary Existence, infinite and eternal.
The First Cause, also the Necessary Existence – Self-existing, Independent and Infinite – is therefore beyond all limitations and is neither dependent or bound to factors as time, space, needs and the like of which contingent existences are bound to. In such a way, the Necessary Existence is completely free of defects and is therefore perfect.
It is impossible that two exist, both of which fulfil all the above-mentioned criteria, to be One Necessary Existence. That is because a Necessary Existence that has another necessary existence besides itself is no longer necessary itself. How? When one existence is necessary, it deprives the necessity of the other. In other words, if one existence is necessary and exists, the other one loses its function to be necessary and is therefore not so anymore. The presence of more than One Necessary Existence would also automatically mean a limitation and dependence. Both can, therefore, not be infinite and independent without restricting the other’s infinity and independence. Whilst A Necessary Existence must be independent so that its own existence will not depend on another.
Moreover, the existence of more than ONE Originator presupposes a defect syncing in the current uniformity and such defect would be very visible in creation. Hence, the Necessary Existence could not be other than ONE. God says:
“[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So, return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks? Then return [your] vision twice again. [Your] vision will return to you humbled while it is fatigued.” (The Holy Qur’an, 67:3-4).
“God has not taken any son, nor has there ever been with Him any deity. [If there had been], then each deity would have taken what it created, and some of them would have sought to overcome others. Exalted is God above what they describe [concerning Him].” (The Holy Qur’an, 23:91)
“Had there been within the heavens and earth gods besides God, they both would have been ruined. So exalted is God, Lord of the Throne, above what they describe.” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:22).
Consequently, even if existence is a result of a series of existences, for instance, the universe with all its galaxies, its first initial particle must have been created by a Creator when nothing else existed. No logic or science can claim that the absolute first particle that existed before anything else was there, irrespective of attributes, size or composition, just came to be from nothing.
Someone might argue that what if the universe, or its first particle, always has existed? Let us check the facts. It is a fact that the universe is in constant motion and alterations. We also know, through laws of physics, that motion and alternation do not occur by themselves because the change of condition requires a cause. Accordingly, external power is required to put motion or change its direction. In other words, if there is no external influence, matters are constant, and no change will occur. Therefore, we come back to verify that an alternating universe needs something to begin its first movement. Whether from this aspect or that alternation is a criterion proving a contingent existence, it implies that an external power must have operated for the first particle to exist, then stopped being a mere particle and transformed into this universe we know of today. Hence, the universe cannot have appeared out of anything and with no external influence.
Does this fact not point that the universe, being in constant alternation, is not as it once was before? What made it change? Should it not have continued being the same and in its original form, unless an external power has initiated the change? What has given rise to the billions of changes that have caused the universe, including our planet, to be in this present setup that has made possible the occurrence of life? What is the source of power that has started all of this and is Itself living to be able to give life?
What is more logical and probable after looking at the evidence? A Necessary Existence that has always existed and enabled everything and been the First Cause? Or that matter just existed and circulated until it became this out of mere coincidence? How can a chance be the reason for a universe that requires a cause to every existing motion and alternation? Even more importantly: how can chance be the reason for a universe so precise and coherently constructed?
“Then is He who creates like one who does not create? So will you not be reminded?” (The Holy Qur’an, 16:17).
“And those they invoke other than God create nothing, and they [themselves] are created.” (The Holy Qur’an, 16:20).
“Their meat will not reach God, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Therefore have We subjected them to you that you may glorify God for that [to] which He has guided you, and give good tidings to the doers of good.” (The Holy Qur’an, 22:37).
The following natural derivation is accordingly, the initial original power that has created the very first particle must be self-existing. Why? Because if it itself needed a cause to exist, it would be a dependent existence, and as a matter of fact be part of the ‘coming to existence’-chain, dependent on a cause for their existence. However, logically the chain of contingent existences must have its origin in an external, starting-up Power, self-existing and Independent.
The fact that the chain of existence is already ongoing implies that a starting shot has existed and started it. Otherwise, the chain would not have started as no one would initiate it. As nothing can cause something – no starting shot, no race – implies that the original Source of existences, that has caused all contingent existences must itself be Infinite and Eternal. If this Self-existing Infinite Eternal Necessary Existence did not exist then no contingent existence would have existed either. And if it was not infinite and eternal, it would have a beginning, which means it would have been in need of a starter.
Hitherto, we have derived that the Very First Underlying Necessary Cause is Self-existing, and accordingly also Independent and Infinite. The First Cause is Independent because a Self-existing being is not really self-existing as long as it is dependent on something else to exist. In other words, even if this starter-up is in need and dependent on something else to exist, it would be no difference between it and other existences, as it also needs a starter-up staring shot. The First Cause is also infinite because if the Self-existing is limited, it is subjected and not immune to influence from another, which also makes it dependent.
“Say, ‘He is God, [Who is] One.” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:1).
“God, the Eternal Refuge.” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:2).
“He neither begets nor is born” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:3).
“Nor is there to Him any equivalent.’” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:4).
Who other than God is the High Wise Source of power, who is Self-existing, Independent and Infinite?
“God – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence.” (The Holy Qur’an, 3:2).
“That is God, your Lord, Creator of all things; there is no deity except Him, so how are you deluded?” (The Holy Qur’an, 40:62).
“And do not invoke with God another deity. There is no deity except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgment, and to Him, you will be returned.” (The Holy Qur’an, 28:88).
Here someone might ask why this Power has to be God and not a self-propelled cosmos, operating spontaneous and unplanned reactions, happening randomly? Interestingly, according to science, spontaneous or coincidental reactions lead to less order and greater disorder. This is while anyone who perceives the world and nature easily verifies its synced, coherent and precise order. Additionally, it is almost scientifically impossible for spontaneous events to produce a creation with such synced precision, from all aspects and angles. The fact that everything, from an egg and a sperm to a solar system and ecosystem, is constructed and adjusted to perfectly fit and function, like a hand in a glove and a key in a lock, rather indicate a planned order.9 Therefore, creation can impossibly have occurred unplanned and by chance, which in turn means A Self-conscious, Intelligent, Wise, Almighty, Perfect Creator is behind all of it.
What is more to it is that God proclaims Himself as Creator, not only through His signs within us and around us, but through His messengers and prophets (‘a).10
“That is God, your Lord; there is no deity except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Disposer of all things.” (The Holy Qur’an, 6:102).
“Exalt the name of your Lord, the Highest,” (The Holy Qur’an, 87:1).
“Who created and proportioned, ” (The Holy Qur’an, 87:2).
“And Who destined and [then] guided.” (The Holy Qur’an, 87:3).
How Is The Emergence Of A Higher Developed Existence From A Less Developed Existence To Be Explained?
How can a much lesser developed phenomenon cause a more advanced one? For instance, how could a unified clod or mass expand in the initial stages of creation and transform to all planets and galaxies? Or, how could cells “spontaneously” develop to completely functional organisms with all their marvellous attributes?
The differences in levels of perfection and development in regards to consciousness, intelligence and power in various creations, is notably existing. However, the less perfect and developed can never cause the more perfect and highly developed. For instance, when a camera is in need of a higher intelligence for its construction and build, how could our eyes, which are much more advanced, have come to exist by chance and by coincidence. How could it have occurred for nature that some cells, among millions, are ‘all of sudden’ going to be developed for this purpose? And that the same procedure is to be repeated in other organisms as ‘spontaneously’. If the components of a camera were all piled up, is it possible that they, on their own, put themselves together before it even exists? How could the camera come to be if not a higher and more developed intellect caused its construction and combined its components, of which each one is precisely and accordingly developed for its specific purpose? Can a man with higher consciousness, intelligence and power, than the rest of nature to the degree of taming nature to his conversion, have been constructed by nature?
What we perceive today in this marvellous world around us, things that are less perfect have caused the perfect phenomenon. But after looking closely and considering, it would be like stating that something as impossible as a person who has learned to speak Swedish fluently by someone who has no mastery of the language. Just as when someone wants to finance a project with their own capital, they cannot insert a higher sum than what he owns, in that project. Likewise, a broken vehicle cannot fully function by itself, without an engineer. Neither can a fallen house be inhabitable and newly renovated, spontaneously without an external influence, who has the ability and therefore is more perfect. Hence, external power must cause all the phenomena around us were less developed units seem to cause greater and more complex ones. How could the world be created by a less perfect entity? From chaos or even non-existence, to be the fully structured existing world surrounding us today, without the influence of a higher and more perfect source of power, aware and in power of its actions?
If anything, a functioning vehicle or a house allowed to develop and age “spontaneously” and with no maintenance, will decay with time as it is impossible for a higher temperature to occur from a lower temperature without external influence. The continuing functioning order and development in the world, indicates the underlying Wise Omnipotence’s supervision, administration and structure in creation.
Have you ever been in an extreme situation, experienced great fear, desperation or utter danger to life? What happened within you and what inner feeling did you have? When you felt disconnected from everything and beyond saving, what did you hold onto in your desperate moment of despair? Was it not, a gleam of hope to an indescribable source of power, to save you in spite of everything? This superior source of power you clasped to within you, and to which you placed your hope to the very end, is God; and the witness witnessing this truth is deeply rooted within all of us.11
Within every man, there is an inherently instinctive belief. This inherent belief is revealed in common tendencies, not learnt but nonetheless found in all mankind, irrespective of era, culture or national belonging. The distaste to lies and oppression, and predilection for truth, justice and freedom are examples of such tendencies, common for all people, as the inclination for the immortal, infinite, perfect and lasting happiness. Observe that the currency of these tendencies is irrelevant to man’s actual actions. For instance, man can lie but still, all prefer truth. Some can go as far as to convince themselves that they tell the truth, when they actually lie, only because of the inner tendency to incline towards desiring truth. The witnessing of God’s existence and unity is included in this instinctive, inherent, non-learned belief. In the Qur’anic language called, fitra.
“So, direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitra of God upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of God. That is the correct religion, but most people do not know.” (The Holy Qur’an, 30:30).
Man is created with this inherent inner belief, according to Islam, consists of only goodness. 12 In His wisdom, God has created man so that his fitra, naturally and without external force, can drive and guide him to goodness; and soon enough to the Source of all good.13 However, when these inherent tendencies are neglected, or when man deviates and goes against them, their effect is reduced. Nevertheless, they still exist within man and can express themselves and be known in various ways and degrees.
Fitra and its tendencies work as man’s inner force. For instance, the inner inclinations for lasting happiness are the cause of man’s never-ending search for happiness. This inexhaustible longing for happiness makes a man look for it everywhere, on all occasions and in everything believed to cause it. Surely, man’s perception, definition and allusion of happiness can vary and even change. The variation and change occur in the same individual during their lifetime and are affected by knowledge, life goals, life situation, experiences and other factors. But the tendency itself and the will to achieve happiness, a continuous force, is lasting and unchangeable. Therefore, man tends, more often than not, to begin the search for happiness in money, power, fame, beauty, health and immortality. The allusions can differ but what all people have in common is the strive for eternal happiness. This is due to the wish and tendency for happiness is intrinsic in man through his fitra, and it continues to drive him.
When a man realizes that the happiness, which he is looking for, is not to be found in material things and that it cannot be bought with money, the allusions are altered, but the search continues. This is due to a man feeling an inner longing for the real Source of happiness, the true and ultimate purpose and goal in life, and so the reoccurring questions echo in him: “Who am I?”, “What am I doing here?” and “Where am I headed?”. It is at the same time, because of the same reason that some people when neglecting or push down this longing and these questions, this inner echoing is no longer as strongly heard or becomes quiet altogether.
However, it is there and can suddenly be known in the least expected moments; oftentimes in consequence of a chocking or life-threatening situation. Man’s instinctive belief can be liked to a guiding light, whose strength can increase or otherwise, depending on how well taken care of this inner treasure that God out of His benevolence and mercy has created within each man.
Have you ever wondered why one might get bad conscience about treating someone unfairly and lie?
That which is in popular parlance called “bad conscience” and emerges instinctively is a clear example of our inherent fitra expressing itself. When we consciously act b’Adalahy, it shows in forms of uncomfortableness followed by an inner accusing voice: conscience. This accusing voice originates from the inner tendency and attraction we have to the good, causing us to reject the bad. This is due to the fact that all negatives are defects and opposites to goodness and perfection, our fitra’s attractions. In such a way, our conscience works as an inner guardian, and a compass, whilst its protest warns and is an alarm reminding about the inner tendencies man carries in his fitra.
If a man chooses to neglect its guiding signals and good inclinations, these will slowly but surely be veiled and be less apparent to him. For instance, all people who first-time experience someone is bullied or treated unjustly, feel bad about it. This, whilst many who have often witnessed such situations, tend not to show any form of opposition to injustice, finally becoming apathetic to it. Likewise, it is hard lying the first time, but if one continues doing so, it becomes easier every time. As a matter of fact, the conscience is weakened by this suppression, quietening or drowning, and is shut down.
Our fitra that is our inherent inner nature can be flourished or buried out of negligence, depending on our priorities, choices, actions and habits.
Have you ever been immensely frightened and involuntarily sought help from an indescribable source of power?
However, this inner instinctive belief is concealed and buried; it always surfaces in extreme situations, for instance, during immense fright. Then it comes to force in a way that cannot be missed out. Imagine yourself on a ship out in the open sea or on a plane in the sky, and you suddenly hear an explosion. The plane starts shaking strongly and starts dropping in altitude, and you realize the plane is plunging. In that very moment of fright and the belief that your last moments are upon you; what happens within you? Who do you seek? Whom do you turn to, in your inward? Who do you clasp onto for rescue?
Without a doubt, the answer is the same for all. At that moment, all turn to the same Source of unity and Force; a higher Power indescribable but fully recognized. As a matter of fact, fitra makes itself remembered, treads forth and shows us the instinctive belief within a Protector, who can save us when no one else is around. In our most vulnerable moments, we clasp after The One who is Greater and Higher than all hardships and He who wills over everything and everyone, including all law of nature and phenomenon., who can miraculously save us.
Unfortunately, when the extreme situation has passed, and man is rescued, the experience gradually loses significance and is forgotten. Some even try to persuade themselves into believing whatever happened to be false and doubt its reality. Concurrently, the instinctive belief is numbed, and the awakened feeling is returned to its earlier condition. That being said, most people tend to fall back to their old ways and lives, habits and behaviours. God describes this in the Holy Qur’an:
“So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitra of God upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of God. That is the correct religion, but most people do not know.” (The Holy Qur’an, 10:22).
“And when they board a ship, they supplicate God, sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, at once, they associate others with Him.” (The Holy Qur’an, 29:65).
Children´s spontaneous reactions when they witness someone lying, not keeping their promise or not acting as they have preached, is a familiar sight. The question, however, is how come all children are sensitive to it and respond to such a phenomenon? This is irrespective of culture, nationality, social norms and living standards, or even being taught by someone. Why is the inclination for truth, disliking lies and breaking promises, a recurrent trait in all children? This is also implied to the phenomenon as empathy, disapproving violence, and picking genuine kindness.
Another instance is children´s ideas of who ‘the good’ and ‘the bad’ are when they watch movies. What makes a child wanting to categorize personalities into good or bad? And what makes them always wanting to belong to the good side and embody the role of the good hero instead of the bad villain?
Again, it is a matter of fitra. Considering children are not as affected by the surroundings, fitra is more apparent in them and notable in their unlearnt behaviour. The child’s access to fitra is, therefore, more intact since their fitra has not lost significance or become veiled by contradictory influences of the surroundings and personally conflicting actions. This is shown in these common traits, initially strong but can come to be strengthened or weakened, depending on how they are received by their surroundings, especially by parents.
Who to answer this better than God Himself.
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2:186).
“Indeed, I am God. There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.” (The Holy Qur’an, 20:14).
“O Moses, indeed it is I – God, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (The Holy Qur’an, 27:9).
“But when he came to it, he was called from the right side of the valley in a blessed spot – from the tree, ‘O Moses, indeed I am God, Lord of the worlds.’” (The Holy Qur’an, 28:30).
“He is God, other than whom there is no deity, Knower of the unseen and the witnessed. He is the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.” (The Holy Qur’an, 59:22).
“He is God, other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is God above whatever they associate with Him.” (The Holy Qur’an, 59:23).
He is God, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (The Holy Qur’an, 59:24).
“And of His signs is that you see the earth stilled, but when We send down upon it rain, it quivers and grows. Indeed, He who has given it life is the Giver of Life to the dead. Indeed, He is over all things competent.” (The Holy Qur’an, 41:39).
Answering the unbelievers’ questions, asked the Prophet (S) regarding God’s person, the following verses were sent:
“Say, “He is God, [who is] One” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:1).
“God, the Eternal Refuge” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:2).
“He neither begets nor is born” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:3).
“Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (The Holy Qur’an, 112:4).
These are a few examples among many verses in the Holy Qur’an, where God proclaims Himself. In the verses, God describes Himself through His attributes and proclaims Himself through His signs. As God is not material and accordingly cannot be perceived by sight or be physically pointed, His signs are expressions of His existence. Similarly, to how the trail of footsteps informs us of someone’s presence, although we ourselves have not seen the pedestrian, creation witnesses of its Creator’s existence and His attributes.
God is, therefore, the Almighty Creator who has created the whole world with all its fairness and greatness, found in nature, space, also within ourselves. Every person admiring their surroundings and sees within themselves will consciously or unconsciously feel an incontrovertible truth, whether they call it a greater might, a supernatural entity or God. Somewhere deep within man, this truth is witnessing its own existence and is moving man to seek its source. In other words, our curiosity, outward observations and intellectual conclusions are united with our inner testimony and together make a force to seeking our origin and purpose. This makes up the foundation of man’s journey to know God; a bewildering journey man and leading him beyond his highest intellectual comprehension.
It is commonly known that God is called Allah in Islam. The term Allah is itself a compound of ‘Al-’ and ‘ilah’, whereas ‘Al-’ is a definite article, equivalent to the English ‘the’, whilst ‘ilah’ means god. The literal meaning of Allah is ‘The God’ and the meaning of The One and Only Unique God has consisted of the meaning of Allah. In other words, Allah mirrors the concept of tawhid in its whole, even in this linguistic aspect. It makes the term Allah as unique as Him whom the word describes. Hence, the name Allah is the original and is the stamped reference to God in Islam.
The difference between the name Allah and God´s other names, wherein each is an attribute also referring to God´s characteristics, is shown to be, among other things, inapplicable to anyone but God. Moreover, the other attributes can be bounded to the name Allah as a further description of it. However, this name cannot be used as a descriptive to other attributes. Allah can, therefore, be said to be God´s special name.
Observe that it is not a matter of a specific god belonging to a religion or an ethnic group, but rather a matter of the Almighty Creator and Lord of the worlds, who is everyone’s God, Allah the Merciful the Beneficent!
“Say, ‘I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind” (The Holy Qur’an, 114:1).
“The Sovereign of mankind” (The Holy Qur’an, 114:2).
“The God of mankind.’” (The Holy Qur’an, 114:3).
What is God like? What attributes does he have and what does He want?
The first of faith’s principles describing God is Tawhid, which is to say there is only One God. God also has many describing Him, for instance, God is the Beneficent and the Merciful, the Omniscient and Almighty Creator. God is likewise The Wise, The Just, The Unique and Infinite, who cannot be compared to by His creations.
“God – there is no deity except Him. To Him belong the best names.” (The Holy Qur’an, 20:8).
While every existence has a Creator who is Self-existing, Independent and Infinite, it could be deducted that He is ONE, because more than one infinite being would automatically mean limitation. In other words, it cannot exist two infinite beings, because of the existence of one means in itself the limitation of the other, and vice versa. How? Imagine two infinite beings existing. It is apparent that where one begins the other ends, and where one is the other cannot be, because they limit each other. It would be like having an infinitely growing globe, without anything stopping it. But if there were two globes, and both grew, they could impossibly grow infinitely without colliding and limiting each other. Hence, the occurrence of two infinite beings is not possible and a contradiction, logically unacceptable. Likewise, the independency would be undermined in the presence of other than ONE such being, because they would, if anything, be dependent on each other.
“God has not taken any son, nor has there ever been with Him any deity. [If there had been], then each deity would have taken what it created, and some of them would have sought to overcome others. Exalted is God above what they describe [concerning Him].” (The Holy Qur’an, 23:91).
“Say, [O Muhammad], ‘If there had been with Him [other] gods, as they say, then they [each] would have sought to the Owner of the Throne away.’” (The Holy Qur’an, 17:42).
“Had there been within the heavens and earth gods besides God, they both would have been ruined. So exalted is God, Lord of the Throne, above what they describe.” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:22).
Therefore, God is the Perfect, whom all creations are drawn to. He possesses the divine and perfect attributes we are constantly, consciously or otherwise, in search of. As God is Infinite, He is therefore never described to have any shortcomings or weaknesses either.
“And to God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and to God is the destination.” (The Holy Qur’an, 24:42).
“Indeed, it is We who give life and cause death, and to Us is the destination.” (The Holy Qur’an, 50:43).
“He created the heavens and earth in truth and formed you and perfected your forms, and to Him is the [final] destination.” (The Holy Qur’an, 64:3).
Hence, He is not a God of a chosen people or a God who prefers a certain ethnic group. God does not differentiate people due to their race, colour, gender or nationality.
“But the Jews and the Christians say, ‘We are the children of God and His beloved.’ Say, ‘Then why does He punish you for your sins?’ Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, and to Him is the [final] destination.” (The Holy Qur’an, 5:18).
The only distinction among people, in God’s eyes, is their piety.
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. Indeed, God is Knowing and Acquainted.” (The Holy Qur’an, 49:13).
He is, therefore, the Just. He does not have any needs. He never acts with evil or oppresses anyone.
“Have they not travelled through the earth and observed how was the end of those before them? They were greater than them in power, and they ploughed the earth and built it up more than they have built it up, and their messengers came to them with clear evidence. And God would not ever have wronged them, but they were wronging themselves.” (The Holy Qur’an, 30:9).
“[Who say], ‘Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.’” (The Holy Qur’an, 3:18).
“Say, [O Muhammad], ‘My Lord has ordered justice and that you maintain yourselves [in the worship of Him] at every place [or time] of prostration, and invoke Him, sincere to Him in religion.’ Just as He originated you, you will return [to life].” (The Holy Qur’an, 7:29).
God always acts in accordance with His promise to mankind in His message.
“To Him is your return all together. [It is] the promise of God [which is] truth. Indeed, He begins the [process of] creation and then repeats it that He may reward those who have believed and done righteous deeds, injustice. But those who disbelieved will have a drink of scalding water and a painful punishment for what they used to deny.” (The Holy Qur’an, 10:4).
“O mankind, fear your Lord and fear a Day when no father will avail his son, nor will a son avail his father at all. Indeed, the promise of God is truth, so let not the worldly life delude you and be not deceived about God by the Deceiver.” (The Holy Qur’an, 31:33).
He is the Merciful and the Beneficent. In His mercy, God sent a message to guide man to be his best, and He has put within every man a guiding light14 in safekeeping and provided man with inner and outer means15, leading to Him.
“So, direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitra of God upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of God. That is the correct religion, but most people do not know.” (The Holy Qur’an, 30:30).
“We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidence and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] injustice. And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that God may make evident those who support Him and His messengers unseen. Indeed, God is Powerful and Exalted in Might.” (The Holy Qur’an, 57:25).
“And for every nation is a messenger. So, when their messenger comes, it will be judged between them an injustice, and they will not be wronged.” (The Holy Qur’an, 10:47).
How do God’s attributes differentiate from His creation´s attributes?
When God’s characteristics are described by His Names, these attributes are in their absolute form when applied to God. To moderately clarify this, we can take man as an example. Man can be prescribed the quality of compassion when acting compassionately; note that this quality is given through an act and could increase or otherwise, depending on how compassionate man’s action is. This does not imply to God; God is the characteristic of Compassion itself. It is, therefore, of utmost importance to understand that God is not comparable to His creation's limited qualities.
In this regard, Imam Ali (‘a) has said the following regarding God:
“Praise is due to God whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot be counted by calculators and whose claim (to obedience) cannot be satisfied by those who attempt to do so, whom the height of intellectual courage cannot be appreciated, and the diving of understanding cannot be reach; He for whose description no limit has been laid down, no eulogy exists, no time is ordained, and no duration is fixed.”16
Hence, it is beyond our intellectual capacity to comprehend God with our senses; for a limited being like a man to understand and perceive God is an impossibility due to the fact that limitation cannot contain infinity. It is the equivalent of a bowl trying to the sea. To understand and realize a truth, it is required that one can comprehend and understand it. A limited being in this case, man, cannot possibly comprehend the Infinite, that is to say, God. However, the limited can apprehend a bit of the Infinite, just like the bowl can contain an amount of water from the infinite sea. Man can, in various ways, by different methods and on many levels, understand God’s existence, even though he cannot understand His existence and be complete.
The various proofs discussed earlier, make up different methods and procedures, leading to the same conclusion. This can be paralleled to science’s, mathematics’ or philosophy’s deriving methods. The intellectual method resembles the researcher, who when asked about water answers with its structural H2O formula. The perceptible and everyday method also describes the same water but through perceiving it, hearing its flood and feeling its humidity. Whilst the heartily and inward method resembles a recognition of the water through its thirst-quenching effect. People can come to know God and notice Him through various methods, leading to a conviction.
Why is God’s justice emphasized among the pillars of faith?17
‘Adalah18 that is divine justice is another principle of faith, deriving from tawhid. God is the Just, who does not oppress or do injustice to any of His creations. The best in the eyes of God are those with most piety. God judges all equally and therefore, one’s position in a hierarchy is irrelevant. Each man is responsible for his own actions and is judged by his condition, the same as everyone else. Divine justice is a Qur’anic principle and a rational matter, of course:
“Indeed, God does not wrong the people at all, but it is the people who are wronging themselves.” (The Holy Qur’an, 10:44).
“Indeed, God does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.” (The Holy Qur’an, 4:40).
These verses show that God, in His sent message, is clearly distanced from the possibility to do injustice to others. God has bestowed upon us with an intellect to differentiate between good and evil. Whilst goodness covers all actions associated with perfection, evil covers all defected actions, such as injustice. Given God is Perfect in all respects, it is not logical that God would act spitefully or unjustly.
“And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it” (The Holy Qur’an, 91:7).
“And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness” (The Holy Qur’an, 91:8).
“He has succeeded who purifies it” (The Holy Qur’an, 91:9).
“And he has failed who instils it [with corruption].” (The Holy Qur’an, 91:10).
If God is good, why is there evil in the world? Why did God create Shaitan [Satan], whom with evil whispers incites towards evil and misguides people? Why does God not stop ‘bad events’ such as natural catastrophes or accidents from happening?
The classical questions and the likes are as a matter of fact based on the notion that evil is a phenomenon by itself, actively created. Sometimes, this notion is radicalized more so and perceived as a good against evil paradox, where God with good powers is perceived to battle evil, a solid equivalence to goodness. Hence, it is a matter of two independent opposite poles, equally enabled to act, and whereas God is a part of this equation, on the good side; an equation whose exit is not either clear, but left to hope for its victory. This is whilst, Islam’s view is that of a God above this and greater and mightier than to be limited, subdues or framed by these concepts.
To begin with, it is of utmost importance to dissect each of these questions and analyze included aspects within each one of them. To sum up, three factors are decisive. These could be put together in the three following questions, all of which are connected:
• What is evil? Is it a created phenomenon?
• Who is Shaitan (Satan)? Is he created evil?
• What do we classify ‘bad’ events and evil as? Are natural catastrophes, accidents and similar matters, really evil?
We could start with the last question, and that which people tend to view as bad that is accidents befalling us, natural catastrophes and diseases. When it comes to natural catastrophes, we know from science that earthquakes, floods and storms are in fact, natural consequences in nature’s system. The physical world, including earth´s tectonic plates, seasonal weather and the gulf stream, are conditions for seasonal shifts and other changes within nature’s cycle. Without these changes, life would cease to exists and therefore, these phenomena, with their natural consequences, are in fact the system’s side effects.
The fact that man is affected sometimes has nothing to do with evil, but it is a consequential factor by living in this world. This does not mean that everything that happens does so randomly and that there is no reason to why you of all would be affected by a certain event; there are rather personal questions that require reflection. What is current for the question´s overall aspects, is that it is not about evil or that these phenomena are neither evil nor apart of some kind of evil. It could be likened to a snake´s poison, from one aspect seen as ‘evil’ because it is de’Adalahy, however from another aspect, it is the snake’s defence mechanism and also a foundation to cure some illnesses for man.
The same is applied to diseases and accidents befalling us, however with a slight difference. Just as with natural phenomena, we know diseases are consequences of our lifestyles combined with diverse factors like genes, diet, physical activity, sleep etc. Therefore, the disease has nothing to do with evil. It can be likened to bad grades at the end of the semester, due to the student´s lack of studying. The result is nothing but a natural consequence and is not due to the teacher´s ‘evilness’. The reason why we perceive the named phenomenon as evil is linked to man´s tendency to see matters from his own perspective and whatever hurts him to be so.
The question is, what about accidents not caused by man’s actions? Accidents are in one way or another, the results of influences of which we have affected. The difference is that in accidents, the actual factors are less evident, and therefore the immediate causes are diffuse, as in the case with diseases evolved during a long period of time. Therefore, it is harder to derive their cause, and they are categorized as ‘events’.
Hence, it stands clear that in such cases, it is not a question of real evil, but it is all by our own definition and interpretation of each matter. Man has a tendency to call whatever seems to hurt him or make his life harder. However, we perceive it to be evil. It is possible to see it differently. How many have felt enriched after the passage of hardships in life? How many have not looked back and felt thankful for whatever they have been through? How many have not grown, become stronger and discovered new potentials within themselves in the light of strenuous hardships? Is it not that man´s successes were born out of hardships he has survived? Does mankind ought to be thankful for the hard times that have birthed unwavering force of will in their heroes and freedom fighters? Is this counted for in all discoveries, conveniently named in the saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’? Is a man not like the rough diamond or unmined gold ore in need of heating up in order for the pure gold to be extracted? The experiences of life make us often note that whatever we perceived in the beginning to be evil is, in the end, a blessing, paving the way and help us to refine ourselves and bloom.
“Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (The Holy Qur’an, 94:6).
“Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing, and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing, and it is bad for you. And God Knows, while you know not.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2:216).
Further on to the other question related to Shaitan and his evil, the Qur’anic description, with the Prophet’s (S) and Ahl Al-Bayt’s (‘a) reports, clarifies the picture. God says:
“And [mention] when We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate to Adam,’ and they prostrated, except for Iblis. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. Then will you take him and his descendants as allies other than Me while they are enemies to you? Wretched it is for the wrongdoers as an exchange.” (The Holy Qur’an, 18:50).
By way of introduction, this verse shows two fundamental factors; the first is that Shaitan, or also called Iblis, is one of the djinn, and the second is that he defied God’s orders on his own. He had the possibility to obey or defy, and on this occasion, he chose to defy.
Iblis belonged to the invisible[to man] species of djinn. Djinn, like man, is God’s creation given desire, free will and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. This makes them beings responsible for their own fates and will, therefore, be questioned for their actions. Accordingly, djinn like a man will be subjected to questioning, evident in the following Qur’anic verses:
“‘O company of djinn and mankind, did there not come to you messengers from among you, relating to you My verses and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?’ They will say, ‘We bear witness against ourselves’; and the worldly life had deluded them, and they will bear witness against themselves that they were disbelievers.” (The Holy Qur’an, 6:130).
The verse mentioned earlier concludes that Iblis was among angels while defying God’s orders. These questions arise: how come Iblis was among angels when he himself is djinn? And, why were God’s orders for angels to bow in sojood before Adam (‘a), also implying to Iblis?
From the narrations, supported by Qur’anic verse, it is apparent that Iblis’s position had led him to be among angles, as the only survivor of his species. Furthermore, the narrations say that Iblis was so prominent in his worship to such a level that he was in sojood before God for thousands of years. It is clear Iblis was a djinn. He reached a high position and later chose to defy God’s orders. Those matters confirm the presence of Iblis’s free will. Therefore, he was not created evil but chose to with his own actions. He was overtaken by pride, and so defied God’s orders. Afterwards, he chose to proceed in his enmity towards Adam (‘a) and his progeny to misguide them, except the undefiled devoted servants, whom he does not touch. Thereby, Iblis was transformed to the driven out, cursed Shaitan.
“And [mention] when We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam’; so, they prostrated, except for Iblis. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2:34).
“[Iblis] said, ‘By Your might, I will surely mislead them all. Except, among them, Your chosen servants.’” (The Holy Qur’an, 38:82-83).
From the answers given to these questions, the answer to the first given question is very much clarified. Much of that which we classify as evil is a matter of perspective while other instances imply other than pure evil. In other words, God has not created anything evil. Another note of interest is that the concept of evil, which Ahl Al-Bayt (‘a) clarifies, is, in fact, the absence of good – a so-called non-existential concept. It can be compared to shadow or shade, only seen in lack of sunlight, hence a non-existential phenomenon. Similarly, evil is the result of that empty space occurring in the absence of good. Hence, the creation of God is good in essence and evil is not something created. However, that which is created is free to choose and act; however; they like due to their free will. Existence is in itself good because it is derived from the source of Existence, the Necessary existence and the First Cause, God.
What does the Creator want from His creation? What is the relation between Him and His creation? Why has God created us?
Moreover, what is the purpose of the creation, and what does God will with it? As God is Independent and with no need whatsoever, why has He created creation? God’s wisdom and justice imply that there must be a reason for this; what is it? And where do I, as human, fit into this equation?
When one accepts and believes in the existence of God, a fact a reasonable man cannot deny and whose evidence is within and around us, one will want to know God more. God’s existence brings one to look for the meaning of life to see His purpose in creation and in oneself. Naturally, every man, even if he believes not in God, looks for that purpose. That is due to his inherent knowing that there exists a purpose to live. With a bit of reflection on creations coherent existence, man can come to understand how this must be true:
“And We did not create heaven and earth and that between them in play.” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:16).
If you are aware already of whom has the knowledge you seek, do you turn to that source or do you keep asking and try to know that which has already come to your knowledge? As there is an Omniscient Creator, who knows creation and its secrets, it is only natural to seek true knowledge deriving from this Creator. That is true knowledge about ourselves, our surroundings and most importantly, about life’s purpose. And as God Himself has sent answers to man’s every question with His infallible, therefore trusted and reliable, messengers, why not think and consider what they have brought forth?
Man witnesses, at different stages of life that all accomplished worldly goals can only give temporary happiness at most. This passes into an empty feeling and a longing for something more. Man’s soul, also the heart of his essence, created for eternity, is not satisfied with other than the Source of eternity. The lasting happiness, perfection to which man always seeks, and the eternal inner peace is with God, who is Perfection and Eternity itself.
“And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor. And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (The Holy Qur’an, 55:26-27).
“Whatever you have will end, but what God has is lasting. And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do.” (The Holy Qur’an, 16:96).
True knowledge of God means knowing the divine attributes and all secrets to happiness, resulting in a natural search to reach God. That means seeking to be like Him and mirror His attributes. That is what brings man to perfection and happiness. Therefore, God is the Purpose of life – the path is to know Him and the goal to reach Him.
Religion is there to awaken this inner longing within man and show him the fastest, easiest, and safest way to reach it. In other words, God has sent His Prophets (‘a) to guide man to the straight path to Him. Hence, everything within the monothetic religions, above all Islam, orbits around God and our relationship with Him. This includes the purpose of the prophets´ (‘a) missions and every individual´s goal in life. In this way, tawhid forms the central part of religion, making it the fundamental requirement of faith. Instructions, acts of worship, and reflections are means to which man can be awakened to his reality, to start taking care and refine his soul.
It ought to be mentioned that, by reaching God, man receives all secondary inclinations to which his soul craves. This is due to the fact that man is driven to be like the one he loves and tends to be like whomever he holds dear. For instance, man loves perfection and all virtues. This preference acts as a force within man. As humans start to seek and know God, they realize that God is, in fact, Perfection and that He has all its virtues in their perfect form. With this knowledge, a man takes after the divine attributes and receives qualities such as being just, loving, generous, magnanimous etc. all of which are ideal.
By fulfilling his potential, man can reach the position of becoming khalifat-Allah (vicegerent of God). This is considered to be the purpose of life!19
“Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but God has with Him the best return.” (The Holy Qur’an, 3:14).
Have you not felt that whatever happens to you is actually aimed at you, that there is something being conveyed to you? Have you not experienced that many events in your life at one point, seemed to happened accidentally or did not really make sense, but do now and have a meaning when you look back at them? Reflection about everything that has happened in one’s life, how personally adjusted they are to oneself, can eventually lead to many insights about one’s purpose in this world.
We are here in accordance with God’s plan. The worldly life is a test; a training scene with possibilities to evolve and grow. Life is a test; a chance to prove, mostly to ourselves, that we are worthy of a happy and eternal life, in the hereafter. This fact includes all people without reservation, whoever they might be, and wherever they might stand in life. Man differentiates from all other creations with his advanced intellect and a relatively free will to affect his own situation and future. These attributes point to the man having a special goal in comparison to other creations. God did not create man only to perish. This cannot be expected from a Perfect, Eternal and Wise Creator, who creates everything with a purpose.
“And We have certainly honoured the children of Adam and carried them on land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.” (The Holy Qur’an, 17:70).
“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.” (The Holy Qur’an, 67:2).
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, ‘We believe’ and they will not be tried?” (The Holy Qur’an, 29:2).
“Does man think that he will be left neglected?” (The Holy Qur’an, 75:36)
“Then Satan whispered to him; he said, ‘O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate?’.” (The Holy Qur’an, 20:120).20
The message of God, sent with His prophets (‘a), always conveyed a purpose with the creation of man. In many Qur’anic verses, the word khaledoon (the eternalized) appears in reference to man’s life in the hereafter. Prophet Muhammad (S), the last messenger of God, has said regarding this:
“You have not been created to perish, quite the opposite, you are created for eternal life.”21
It is also clearly stated by God in the Qur’an:
“And I did not create the djinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (The Holy Qur’an, 51:56).
“Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in God and His messengers. That is the bounty of God which He gives to whom He wills, and God is the possessor of great bounty.” (The Holy Qur’an, 57:21).
“God is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light. And those who disbelieve – their allies are Taghut. They take them out of the light into darknesses. Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2:257).
Accordingly, this life is a starting point, hotbed and preparation for the eternal life to come. It is in this world man prepares himself, picks provision and grows to then harvest in the hereafter. As it is narrated in the Prophet’s (S) hadith, based on Qur’anic verses:
“This world is the cultivated land for the hereafter.”22
“Whoever desires the harvest of the Hereafter – We increase for him in his harvest. And whoever desires the harvest of this world – We give him thereof, but there is not for him in the Hereafter any share.” (The Holy Qur’an, 42:20)
“Whoever should desire the immediate – We hasten for him from it what We will to whom We intend. Then We have made for him Hell, which he will [enter to] burn, censured and banished.” (The Holy Qur’an, 17:18).
“But whoever desires the Hereafter and exerts the effort due to it while he is a believer – it is those whose effort is ever appreciated [by God]” (The Holy Qur’an, 17:19).
“To each [category] We extend – to these and to those – from the gift of your Lord. And never has the gift of your Lord been restricted.” (The Holy Qur’an, 17:20).
“This world and this life are a training ground for the hereafter, the quality of your harvest depends on what you grow. It is impossible to grow grain and harvest wheat, to get flowers from a thorn or to grow dates from colocynth.23“24
It is in this world that man is raised and trained, to put the foundation to his eternal journey. This can be likened to the mandatory schooling, which influences how close the student is to his or her goal. Therefore, the hereafter is the last abode to all mankind. At the end of time, all people will be awakened to answer all which they have done in their worldly lives. The hereafter is eternal and whether it will be a happy or tragic end depends on how we choose to spend our lives now. To help mankind reach this goal, God has sent guiders to guide, help and lead mankind to this path. Prophet Muhammad (S) is the final one in the longlisted Godsent prophets (‘a), all of whom have had the same mission to inform and help people reach their creational purpose. Consequently, Islam is the final and highly preserved version of God’s message, as it is for all mankind till the end of times. 25
“And who is better in religion than one who submits himself to God while being a doer of good and follows the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth? And God took Abraham as an intimate friend.” (The Holy Qur’an, 4:125).
“Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation [in submission] to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2:128).
“And whoever turned away after that – they were defiantly disobedient.” (The Holy Qur’an, 3:82).
“Indeed, the religion in the sight of God is Islam. And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves. And whoever disbelieves in the verses of God, then indeed, God is swift in [taking] account.” (The Holy Qur’an, 3:19).
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an, and indeed, We will be its guardian.” (The Holy Qur’an, 15:9).
What happens after death? What does the Day of Judgment mean? Why does it exist and what purpose does it serve? What happens at Judgment Day?
“And certainly, did We create man from an extract of clay. Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm lodging. Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is God, the best of creators.” (The Holy Qur’an, 23:12-14).
“O People, if you should be in doubt about the Resurrection, then [consider that] indeed, We created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a clinging clot, and then from a lump of flesh, formed and unformed – that We may show you. And We settle in the wombs whom We will for a specified term, then We bring you out as a child, and then [We develop you] that you may reach your [time of] maturity. And among you is he who is taken in [early] death, and among you is he who is returned to the most decrepit [old] age so that he knows, after [once having] knowledge, nothing. And you see the earth barren, but when We send down upon it rain, it quivers and swells and grows [something] of every beautiful kind.” (The Holy Qur’an, 22:5).
God has created man with the potential of becoming His vicegerent and given him the ability and means to achieve this. He has let the man go through life’s trials and therefore it is obvious that He will evaluate all of it. The Day of Judgment is the day this evaluation takes place in the Divine court. It is also on this day every creation will be graded and pay for their actions. The Day of Judgment contains everything, including mankind throughout history, and affects the whole world. This day also has many names, each one describing an aspect of that day, known to be the day secrets will be revealed and the truths of actions exposed. This is because man’s most inner intentions will be disclosed, and the covered reality manifested. On this great day, God will assemble all; mankind and djinn and other creations. The dead will be raised to life, veils of neglect and matter will fall, and the truth will be seen by all. All will witness this great day, and each one will be questioned.
“Or do those who commit evils think We will make them like those who have believed and done righteous deeds – [make them] equal in their life and their death? Evil is that which they judge. And God created the heavens and earth in truth and so that every soul may be recompensed for what it has earned, and they will not be wronged.” (The Holy Qur’an, 45:21-22).
“Say, ‘God causes you to live, then causes you to die; then He will assemble you for the Day of Resurrection, about which there is no doubt, but most of the people do not know.’” (The Holy Qur’an, 45:26).
The Day of Judgment is the day every man will be faced with the results of his choices. It is Divine justice that reward is to be given to the one who acted good and punishment for the one who did evil, in the hereafter. This is in accordance with the hereafter’s measurements, as man’s limited lifetime in this world is a basis and capital for his life in the next.
“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (The Holy Qur’an, 99:7-8).
The Day of Judgment, also the final day in this world, has many phases. To begin with, it is initiated when the surrounding world’s current existence ceases, and the world is prepared for accountment. The earth shakes, skies crack, mountains crumble, and celestial bodies fall out of their orbits. All of the universes will enter a new stage. These events are described evidently in the Holy Qur’an, especially in many verses in the last juz’.
“When the sky breaks apart” (The Holy Qur’an, 82:1).
“And when the stars fall, scattering” (The Holy Qur’an, 82:2).
“And when the seas are erupted” (The Holy Qur’an, 82:3).
“And when the [contents of] graves are scattered” (The Holy Qur’an, 82:4).
“A soul will [then] know what it has put forth and kept back” (The Holy Qur’an, 82:5).
“O mankind, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous.” (The Holy Qur’an, 82:6)
In relation to this, the dead are brought back to life, and all of the creation assembles. People will then perceive their actions in their real shapes and step into the divine court.
“That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds.” (The Holy Qur’an, 99:6).
“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it.” (The Holy Qur’an, 99:7).
And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (The Holy Qur’an, 99:8).
The Day of Judgment manifests God’s absolute dominion, mightiness, mercy and justice. Those who have not lived an upright life in this world cannot be placed on equal footing with those who have. And therefore, all will be judged in accordance with the way they lived.
“It is the Day when a soul will not possess for another soul [power to do] a thing, and the command that Day is [entirely] with God.” (The Holy Qur’an, 82:19).
“[All] sovereignty that Day is for God; He will judge between them. So, they who believed and did righteous deeds will be in the Gardens of Pleasure.” (The Holy Qur’an, 22:56).
“And they who disbelieved and denied Our signs – for those there will be a humiliating punishment.” (The Holy Qur’an, 22:57).
“And We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is [even] the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as an accountant.” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:47).
“So today no soul will be wronged at all, and you will not be recompensed except for what you used to do.” (The Holy Qur’an, 36:54).
Take a moment to be alone and detach from your day-to-day business and life’s hectic treadmill; take a long walk in the woods or by the shore and give yourself some time. Think about your existence and dive deep within yourself. Deep within, what do you long for? Ask yourself: who am I? What am I doing here? What is my life based on, and why? What is the purpose of everything? How will it all end?
It is rare that one gets the time off to stop and think about what happens around, what they are doing, and what the point is. But these are questions all of us must ask ourselves. It is after all one life, with unknown years, we are made to live. Who knows – your life or mine might end before we reach the end of this sentence. Has it not been worth the while to have thought and had a purpose then?
If we give ourselves space and the possibility to think about existence and reflect about ourselves, our creation and creation as a whole, we will surely realize we are more than talking two-legged animals. It is more to man than eating, sleeping and breeding. Man’s intellect, abilities and doings, inner tendencies and deep longings, his belief in higher ideals and fight to reach beyond sensation, is noticeable within him and can be seen throughout history.
Reflecting on these questions – who I am, what I am doing here, and where I am headed – are introductory steps to finding and yearning to achieve one’s creational goal. By studying and reflecting on one’s existence and knowing oneself, man can receive insight into his reality and know his Lord.26
What the Creator wants from His creation is clear as it is, He who has purposefully created them with a plan. Therefore, it is of importance to seek and find answers given by Him. As no one knows creation better than their Creator, He is also their best guide. To start moving in this direction and actively wanting to discover and reach the Creator, and one’s purpose is in itself the first fundamental step towards the right path. God will carve out the way for whoever seeks to find Him.
“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2:186).
Islam emphasizes the concept of responsibility, duty and obligation in every man to himself, his Lord, his fellowmen and other creations. In fact, every man is responsible for his own actions, within the framework of free will, given to him by God. At the same time, both our lifespans and the time of our death are predestined by God. But that does not imply that our actions are as well. We are free with regard to our actions and therefore responsible for them. This is also a foundation to be justly judged on the Day of Judgment – based on our free will, we have made active choices. God offers us guidance to be able to differentiate good from evil; thereafter, it is our choice to follow that guidance or not:
“Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful.” (The Holy Qur’an, 76:3).
To be able to know the requirements to reach our goal, God has sent guiders in every period of time, to enlighten people and show the way to Him. Hence, it is our responsibility to work towards that knowledge and path actively.
God has by His wisdom and mercy sent down guiders among people to convey His message and guide them. To accept and follow that guidance results in salvation and to turn away results in the opposite.
The guiders are people chosen and elected by God based on His wisdom. They are similar to others in creation; however, they are superior in their personal character and virtues. God, Wise and Omniscient, has always equipped His sent guiders with whatever is demanded to prove their veracity, superior knowledge and wisdom, among others. With this, every guider has continued on the path of the preceding guider.27
All of God’s sent guiders follow the same line and convey the same message, calling to the submission and worship of God.28
“Or have they taken gods besides Him? Say, [O Muhammad], ‘Produce your proof. This [Qur’an] is the message for those with me and the message of those before me.’ But most of them do not know the truth, so they are turning away.” (The Holy Qur’an, 21:24).
“And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], ‘Worship God and avoid Taghut.’ And among them were those whom God guided, and among them were those upon whom error was [deservedly] decreed. So, proceed through the earth and observe how was the end of the deniers.” (The Holy Qur’an, 16:36).
A. The first and most fundamental pillar in Islam is tawhid, the belief in One God
B. Through signs and proof in creation, man can be led to the existence of God.
B1. The order of the system is about creational order and syncing witnessing a higher Omniscient Creator. The order, syncing and nature of creation proof a correlation between all components forming a whole. This points to the existence of one and the same Creator.
B2. Proof of cause-effect implies that every created existence and being must be derived back to a creator, as every effect has a cause.
B3. Fitra is the innate instinct belief witnessing of truths, among them the human nature of disliking of immoral acts. Fitra drives a man to seek perfection and happiness. It seeks a higher power and creator to find and stick to, especially during hardships. This innate instinct is more apparent in those who do not actively oppose it and have therefore veiled it, as for instance children and come to show in all in extreme situations where people feel alone and powerless.
C1. God is described by His attributes and signs. When God’s qualities are described by His names and attributes, there are no attributes increased, decreased or any that come to be. God is all those attributes in their most perfect and thorough form.
C2. ‘Adalah; Divine justice, is a principle of faith. God is Just; He does not oppress or do any injustice to any of His creations.
D. The existence of God implies that one must seek after the purpose of life, to more clearly be able to see God’s purpose in creation.
D1. God, Himself, is the purpose of life, that is to say by knowing Him and reaching Him. To reach God is to be like Him and mirror His attributes. This will lead man to perfection and happiness, that which every man eventually wants in his journey to various goals. Religion aims to awaken this inner wish within man and show him the right, fast and easy way to it.
D2. Day of Judgment is when God resurrects people back to life so that they may be held responsible for their actions in this world.
E. One can achieve the aim of their creation by studying and reflecting on what God wants from His creation, to identify the specific path and actions, and then act upon that.
E1. God, by His wisdom and mercy, has sent down guiders among men to convey His message and guide them.
- 1. The Imam’s (‘a) utterance is in response to a person by the name of De’leb who asks the Imam (‘a) whether he “sees” God, whereupon Imam Ali (‘a) answers affirmatively and clarifies the nature of this seeing that occurs with the eyes of the heart. This depiction is narrated in Nahjul Balagha sermon 179.
- 2. More follows on B2; this subject will be more explained further on section, “contingent existences”.
- 3. More follows on B2; section “Necessary Existence”.
- 4. More follows on C and C1; on the discussion, “Who is God?” and “Attributes of God” and “Matter of good and evil”.
- 5. Observe that ‘perceiving’ God is not a physical seeing with sight, as God is no physical Being with material aspects, to be seen with physical means. More follows on B2.
- 6. The poem of Sheikh Bahai in the beginning of this book exemplifies of this.
- 7. ‘A contingent existence’ is called momkin Al-wjood in Arabic terms; theological and philosophical terminology.
- 8. “The Necessary existence” is called wajib Al-wojood in Arabic terms; theological and philosophical terminology. Mulla Sadra, 17th century known philosopher, have come up with this term in his books.
- 9. This subject has been discussed earlier in this chapter on “The proof of order”; see B1.
- 10. More to be continued on the next chapter, on the subject, “God does not leave creation without a guide”; see F.
- 11. Based on a discussion between Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a) and a non-believer on the existence of God, Imam Al-Sadiq’s (‘a) answer is based on the teachings of the Qur’an, among them the verses [10:22] and [29:65].
Source: Bihar Al-Anwar volume 3 p.41 riwaya 16; volume 67 p.137 riwaya 7; volume 92 p.232 riwaya 14 and p. 240 riwaya 48.
- 12. As God is good, and evil is a non-existential phenomenon. More on this in C2; “matters of good and evil”. The fact than people go astray and do evil, is within the frame of free will, more on this on E. The reason why people offend is mainly because they misunderstand what they believe gives them happiness and thus fails to apply how happiness is to be achieved. For example, man in his pursuit of happiness - perfection and eternity - can get the idea that money and power entail this.
The very inclination to seek happiness, which is deeply rooted in man, is good and not evil. Rather, it is a driving force that causes man to constantly strive. However, the very purpose a person may assume for what brings about happiness was inadequate or incorrect. Furthermore, in his attempt to achieve that aim, man can violate and oppress others.
- 13. Fitra is mostly connected to the soul seeking its heavenly origin, while man also have other forces within, among them nafs; stands for the natural needs and animalistic wants. In an uncontrolled condition, nafs can bring a man down to the worldly foully and imprison him on the cost of heavenly and spiritual longing. However, nafs makes a part of the human being and has the essential function of driving man to satisfying his bodily needs and survive. So, there is a mainly two opposites in human beings, one driving them to the heavenly and the other to the worldly; it is through this struggle and in their balance, man’s potential and high creational position is discovered.
- 14. This subject is touched upon in the chapter regarding “The human fitra”; see B3
- 15. Inner means are mainly aql (reason, intellect and heart) given by God. Those are means to which man gets the ability to differentiate, reflect and think. And with deeper reflection come to conclusions and conviction. Outer means are mainly the message of God, sent to mankind through His prophets (‘a). This subject is touched upon from E1 and further on.
- 16. Imam Ali (‘a) have great deep declarations of God, making intellects astounded and waters the truth-seeking soul. In many of those, God is described by being undescribed limited attributes and notions. This can be found in Nahjul Balagha, sermon 1, et al.
- 17. This sibject is touhed upon in the book Selection from Glimpses of Nahjul Balagha by Shahid Mutahhari (r.a.). More on the subject of ‘Adalah and its historical and theological background can be read in “Divine Justice” by Shahid Mutahhari (r.a.). The preface of the book, Shahid explains the historical background to how the concept of ‘Adalah has a prominent position and its many aspects within Islamic theology, jurisprudence and social fabric- debates. Observethat the concept of ‘Adalah is mentioned in many aspects in Qur’anic verses and so it is given a special emphasis in the Holy Qur’an. The book is online at:
- 18. Imam Ali (‘a) has regarding the definition of ‘Adalah (justice) said: “Justice places each thing on its rightful place.” (Nahjul Balagha, words of wisdom 429). The meaning of justice is giving each thing, with regards to its conditions, its right. This meaning is of importance as its implementation can for instance seem otherwise in distributing, but is nonetheless justly made. And vice versa, a visibly equal distribution can be unjust, as every person or thing has not been given its rights, in regards to its conditions. And at the same time, justice can require an equal distribution in other contexts.
- 19. Every human is like a unique flower, to bloom fully in the light of God’s nearness and in realization of this main goal in his being. More on this subject can be found in the book, Goal of life by Shahid Mutahhari (r.a.). Online at: https://www.al-islam.org/goal-life-murtadha-mutahhari
- 20. Shaitan uses the human inner inclinations for infinity and eternalization, tempting Adam (‘a) to eat from the forbidden trew. The matter of the human inner tendencies is discussed in the first chapter of this book, on “The human needs – superficially evident and profoundly veiled”.
- 21. This hadith is narrated in Majalis Al-Sadooq p.198 et al.
- 22. This hadith is narrated in Sharh Al-Kafi by Al-Mazandarani volume 2 p.120 hadith 92 et al.
- 23. A bitter and poisonous plant.
- 24. Shahid Mutahhari (r.a.) refers to this hadith in his book Eternal life. Online at: https://www.al-islam.org/eternal-life-life-after-death-murtadha-mutahhari
- 25. The term Islam, from the roots silm and salam with the meanings, peace and harmony, means submission before God. Therefore, Islam, with its wide meaning, is the religions of submission before God, while Muslims are referred as those who submit to God and His will. Consequently, all monotheistic religions are enveloped by the term Islam, while all the other prophets (‘a), who have conveyed the same message of submitting to God, identify themselves in Qur’anic verses as Muslims, from that same meaning. Islam, as the final and definitive religion preached by Prophet Muhammad (S), on the command of God, is the specific meaning of the term.
- 26. The Prophet (S) has said, “Whoever knows himself knows his Lord” (Bihar Al-Anwar volume 2, p.32). This hadith is deep in meaning and therefore many deep discussions arise regarding its meaning, trying to uncover some of its aspects.
- 27. This subject is touched upon more thoroughly in the next chapter; see F.
- 28. This subject is discussed on the matter of prophethood; H, and more thoroughly on, “Why guiders are needed” in the next chapter; see F.