Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s) asked him, “What is your name?”
He replied, “My name is Abd Al-Malik (i.e. servant of the king).”
He (a.s) asked him again, “what is your Kunyah(nickname)?”
He replied, “Abu Abd Allah”(5)
So Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s) told him: Tell me; Who is this king whose slave you are? Is he of the earthly kings or of the heavenly ones? Tell me as well; is your son the servant of the Lord of the heavens or the Lord of the earth? Say whatever you want, you will be defeated.(6)
Husham ibn Al-Hakam stated, “I said to the atheist why don’t you answer? Then the Imam (a.s) rebuked me for my action.”(7)
Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s) Then stated to the man:“When we finish our Tawaf meet us.”
When he (a.s) finished the atheist man went and sat in front of Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s) and we all gathered around him.
Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s) asked the man, “Do you know that the earth has an underside and an upperside?”
He replied, “Yes, I know it.”
The Imam (a.s) then asked, “Have you ever been beneath the earth?”
He replied, “No, I have not been there.”
Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s) asked, “Do you know what is therein?”
The man replied, “I know nothing about it, but I guess there is nothing beneath the earth.”
The Imam then (a.s) said, “Conjecture is weakness. Why don't you acquire certainty?”
Then the Imam (a.s) stated: “Have you ever ascended to the heavens?”
He replied, “No, I have not done so.”
Then the Imam asked, “Do you know what lies in the Heavens?”
The man answered, “No.”
The Imam (a.s) then said, “You amazed me! You have not reached the east nor the west, you have neither gone beneath the earth nor ascended to the heavens, you have not put foot there to see what is beyond them, and you deny what is in them. How can a rational person deny what he does not know?”(8)
The man stated, “No one has ever come up with such statements to me as you have.”
Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s) then told him, “You are now in doubt, it may be so, or it may not be so.”(9)
The atheist stated, “Perhaps it is so.”
The Imam (a.s) told him, “O’ man! one who does not know has no valid reason over those who know. Ignorance carries no authority. O’ Egyptian brother, listen carefully, we do not have the slightest doubt in the existence of Allah. Don't you see the sun and the moon, the night and the day enter on each other(10), do not miss their turns, and return, they have no choice and do not have a place except their designed place. If they were capable to go and not come back, why do they come back? If they were not forced, why night does not become day and why day does not become night? By Allah, O’ Egyptian brother, they are forced to continue and the one who has forced them is wiser and greater than them.(11)
The atheist stated, “You are right.”
Then the Imam (a.s) stated, “'O´ Egyptian brother! It is a delusion when you guess that it is motionless time(dahr) that takes people away, if it is so then why does not it bring them back to life, and if it brings them back to life, why does it take them away?(12) O´ Egyptian brother! Why has the sky been raised up and the earth is so low? Why don't the heavens fall down on the earth? why does the earth not drift from its position, and why does it not soar upwards to the higher skies so as to be joined with them and with what is on them?
The atheist exclaimed, “They are being held in their position by Allah, their Nourisher and their Lord!”
The narrator says, “The atheist embraced Islam at the hands of Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s)” (13)
1. There are many kinds of atheists, and this man was a materialist, as you can understand from the story. A materialist is a person who supports the theory that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications, and the reason behind their belief and disbelief in a God is that they do not believe in anything unless they can see and feel it, and since they have not seen God they disbelieve in him.
2. Which means servant of the King and “The King” is one of the names of Allah (swt)
3. Such as his knowledge, arguments, and proof of a creator’s existence .
4. Doing Hajj pilgrimage.
5. Which means father of the servant of Allah.
6. The reason why he would be defeated in any way he answered, was because if he accepted that he or his son were servants of a God then it would mean that he has accepted that he believes in a God which was against what he believed. In addition, if he denied that he and his son were servants of a God it could mean that he denied the meaning of their names that was placed by his father and himself. This argument by the Imam (as) was to put doubt in the heart of the man to make his belief loose so it could be easier broken, not to prove the existence of a creator.
7. For intervening.
8. In summary, the argument posed by the Imam (as) is how can you deny the existence of something because you have not seen it with your eyes? just like that if someone searched in the forest for a particular bird and did not find it, this does not mean that the bird does not exist as it might have been hiding or too small to be seen, all it means is that the person did not find it, and there is still a possibility of finding it. So how can you deny the existence of Allah (swt) because you have not seen him? Maybe he exists but it is impossible to see him, maybe he exists and you have not been to the place he exists in.
9. This sentence by the Imam (as) is pointing out to the fact that the man is now in doubt in his belief. Maybe the creator does exist and maybe he does not.
10. “Enter on each other” for the sun and the moon, means their precise movement from sunrise (northeast or southeast depending on the day and location) to sunset (west- north or south depending on the day and location). Yes, we do have in our minds that it is believed that Earth is the one orbiting around the sun. Nevertheless, this does not deny the knowledge of the Imam (as), even if this theory was true, because the Imam (as) was talking at a time when it was believed that the sun orbits around the earth, therefore he was talking according to the man’s knowledge capacity. As for the night and day, it is clear how they enter on each other.
11. This is the first argument made by the Imam (as). It is to prove that these objects in space and nature all together are under Allah’s authority and they do not control themselves because when looking at their movement and how they are in order, it will present itself that they are forced to be in this way. If they were not forced then this order over the span of time would change when the sun, moon and etc want to. Therefore, something has to control them, something that is more powerful and intelligent.
12. This is the second argument. It is to derail the belief that nature controls everything. Briefly, if all the cycle of life and death follows the operation of a natural, mechanical and non-conscious process, then from where does the unchanging uniformity and its inflexible order arise?
13. Al-Kafi v1 p72