Rationality of Islam
Rationality of Islam
under the auspices of His Eminence :
Ayatullah Sayyid Abu'l Qasim al-Khu'i
In this short preface, we intend to draw the attention of the readers to a few important points:
(1) We are Muslims, but is it enough for us to be Muslims and should we feel pride in it without knowing that Islam, more than anything else, stresses upon knowledge and action?
Islam means knowledge of a specific conception of the cosmos for the intellectual and moral reform of mankind, of a superbly calculated program put forth as a dynamic school of thought. It is knowledge of articles of belief and articles of action. Unfortunately many people consider themselves to be Muslims simply because they were born in a Muslim family or in a Muslim country, or because it was Islam which came to their minds first and they accepted it. However, it is obvious that a true Muslim cannot be content with such things, because Islam is not a thing to be received in inheritance, nor is it a product of environments. It is, therefore, necessary for a Muslim to have a true understanding of Islam, both of its articles of belief and articles of action so as to be able to give a convincing answer, howsoever brief and simple, to the following two questions:
(i) What is Islam and how is it a blessing to humanity?
(ii) Why have you accepted Islam?
After learning the precepts and principles of Islam, it is equally necessary to apply them in one's individual and social life.
(2) The book "Rationality of Islam" aims at a comprehensive presentation of the basic teachings of Islam in a concise form. Subjects dealt with in lengthy chapters, in voluminous books, have sometimes been crammed into a few lines. Anyhow, an effort has been made to present facts in a simple diction and yet to preserve the rational spirit of the book.
(3) It has also been our consistent effort that, in discussing doctrines and tenets of Islam, the relevant authority should always be quoted and nothing should be mentioned without a proof. As for articles of action, reference has been made, as far as possible, to their instructional and social philosophy, so that the reader may be encouraged to act according to them.
(4) Though Qur'anic verses, sayings of the Holy Prophet and Holy Imams have been extensively quoted, yet their Arabic texts have been omitted for the sake of brevity and simplicity. Quotations from Western scholars have been cited in only the first few chapters.
It is hoped that this book will enlighten the minds of our conscientious young men and women, and will serve as an introduction to a wider study of Islam. It will induce them to recognize Islam as a great and creative school of thought, help them in shaping out their lives and preparing them for great sacrifices. It will most certainly inspire the young people to form a much better, healthier and happier society.
To understand what religion is and what is its role in the life of men, we should first of all know its definition.
Religion may briefly be defined as under:
Religion (din) is an all-round movement in the light of faith in Allah and a sense of responsibility for the formation of thought and belief, for the promotion of high principles of human morality for the establishment of good relations among members of the society and the elimination of every sort of undue discrimination. Keeping in view this definition, our need for religion and religious teachings is absolutely clear. To be a little more elaborate, it may be said that we require religion for the following reasons:
1. Sanction for the Principles of Morality
Religion provides a sanction for the principles of morality like justice, honesty, righteousness, brotherhood, equality, virtuousness, tolerance, sacrifice, help to the needy and other kindred virtues. These are the virtues without which, not only our life will lose its order and normalcy but it is very likely to be turned into a chaos. Of course, it is possible to acquire these moral and social qualities without the aid of religion. But certainly in the absence of firm religious belief, these values appear to lose their meaning and become a series of mere unbinding recommendations, because in such a case they do not amount to more than a piece of advice from a close friend in respect of which we are at full liberty to accept or reject. These qualities are rather based on an internal feeling and faith and are naturally beyond the scope of ordinary law. It is only faith in the existence of an Eternal Being, who knows man equally from within and without and who has full control over him, that cultivates these virtues within man and impels him to automatic righteousness and adherence to duty, and if need be, to make sacrifices for the sake of others. The well-known philosopher-cum-historian, Will Durant says in his book, 'Pleasures of Philosophy' that, without the backing of religion, morality is nothing more than arithmomancy, as without it, the sense of obligation disappears.
2. Power to Endure Adversities of Life
Religion provides power for facing adversities and serves as a bulwark against undesirable reactions of despair and hopelessness.
A religious man, with firm belief in Allah, and of His munificence, does not find himself in utter desperation even in the worst moments of his life, because he knows well hat e is under the protection of a Being who is Almighty. With faith in the fact that every problem can be solved and every deadlock can be resolved with His help, he can overcome every disappointment and hopelessness. For this very reason, it very seldom happens that a truly religious man suffers from the acute reactions of desperation like suicide, nervous breakdown or psychic ailments which are products of frustration and defeatism. The Holy Quran says:
"Surely those who are close to Allah, have no fear nor shall they grieve." (Surah Younus, 10:62)
Imam Ja'far Sadiq (A) says: "A true believer can never commit suicide."
Thus, religious faith is, on the one hand, a motivating force, and on the other, it is a factor which enables man to face hardships with courage and saves him from the ill effects of failure and disappointment.
Following the downfall of the Nazis, says Bertrand Russell says there existed a danger of intellectual and ideological revolt in Germany, but no doubt, religion has been one of the biggest factors in that country's return to stability. According to Dr. Durant, behavior of a man who is not blessed with reliance on religion suffers from special epicurean confusion, and the life which has not the comforting support of religion, is an unbearable burden.
3. Encounter with Ideological Vacuum
Man cannot live in an ideological vacuum for long and as such his tendency towards a wrong ideology and false values becomes definite. His intellectual life is not filled with sound beliefs and healthy teachings. A superstitious and even destructive ideas may find way into his spiritual firmament and may for ever pollute his brain. Instances of man's tendency towards idolatry, man worship, diverse superstitions and credulity regarding the influence of irrational things over destiny, can be witnessed even in the lives of world intellectuals. All this originates from spiritual vacuum. It is religion which can fill the ideological and intellectual vacuum with sound teachings and can save one from a tendency towards absurdities and irrationalities. Hence, true understanding of religion can play an important role in combating superstitions, though it is true that even religion itself, if not understood correctly, may promote superstitions.
4. An Aid to the Progress of Science and Knowledge
Religion with its firm and sound teachings can be an effective factor in scientific progress, because its foundation has been laid on the solid bed-rock of "freedom of will" and on the fact that everybody is accountable for his own deeds. The Holy Quran says : "Everyone is entangled in the outcome of his deeds." (Surah al-Muddath-thir 74:38)
Faith in religion teaches that limitless knowledge is the source of this cosmos, which is like a very grand book penned by an erudite scholar. Every page of it, nay every line and every word of it, contains a glaring truth which stimulates us to further study and contemplation.
This attitude towards the cosmos undoubtedly stimulates persistent thinking over the mechanism of creation and consequently, helps in the advancement of science and knowledge.
In contrast, if we hold that this universe is the product of sheer mechanical factors having no intellect, there remains no plausible reason why we should make strenuous efforts to discover its secrets. In principle, a universe which is the outcome of the working of an unconscious machinery, can neither be well-designed nor mysterious. Apart from giving a deadly blow to the advancement of science and knowledge, such conception of cosmos negates the very fact that man's instinct is basically rooted in religion. Albert Einstein was very true when he pointed out why great thinkers and discoverers are all interested in religion. He said that it was hard to find anyone among the great thinking brains of the world who might not have a sort of religious feeling peculiar to him. That feeling was different from the religion of the man in the street. It has the form of a delightful wonder at the marvelously accurate system of the universe, which from time to time, unveils secrets in comparison with which all organized human thinking and research are rather weak and stale. This feeling illuminates the path of the life and efforts of a scientist and as he gains success and honor, it keeps him free from the deadweight of selfishness and pride. silence in order to simplify and explain the laws of gravitation and planetary motion! No doubt, it is this very religious feeling that enabled the self-sacrificing and self-effacing men through long centuries, in spite of their apparent defeats and failures, to rise on their feet again and make fresh efforts.
(The world as I see)
The contemporary scientist, Abernethy, says that science for its own perfection should regard faith in God as one of its accepted principles. Thus a religious man, following the true teachings of religion, can more than anybody else, carry out research and discover the secrets of nature.
Fight Against Discrimination
Religion strongly opposes every discrimination based on color, race or class, because it regards all human beings as God's creatures and every country as God's country. According to it, all enjoy God's love and kindness equally and as such, all are equal. According to the teachings of Islam, no man can be superior to another man on the basis of his color, race, descent, language or class. Islam recognizes only piety and knowledge as the touch-stones of superiority .Allah says: "Man, we have created you from a male and a female, and we have divided you into nations and tribes, so that you may get to know one another. Surely the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is he who is most pious."(Surah al- Hujurat, 49 :13)
Thus the role of religion in a world that has not yet been able even to solve the color problem, the question of class apart, is quite clear. Anyhow, it cannot be denied that every kind of religious thought or belief cannot produce the de-sired results. Like every other intellectual movement, religion also requires correct guidance. Otherwise it assumes the form of superstition, monasticism, escape from positive life and pseudo-agnostic negative tendencies, the examples of which can even now be seen in the West, where people have become fed up with a mechanical life. It is only in such an atmosphere that for want of correct knowledge, religion is regarded as an obstructive factor.
Roots of Religious Sense
Man has been familiar with religion for such a long time that it covers the entire recorded history of human life and goes back into the depths of pre-historic times. The Holy Quran has described religion as man's innate nature and Allah's established order. It says : Islam is in harmony with nature which Allah has designed for man. ( Surah al -Rum,30 : 30)
Research carried out by sociologists and historians shows that places of worship, either in their simple or elaborate and complex form, have always had an influence on human life, and religion in its various shapes has been interwoven with its history. Dr. Durant, after a comparatively detailed discussion of atheism of certain people writes that despite all that he has mentioned, these are exceptional cases, and the old notion that "religion" is a phenomenon that generally extends to all human beings, is true. The question of religion in the view of a philosopher is one of the basic questions of history and psychology. He adds that, from time immemorial, religion has always gone hand in hand with human history. The idea of piety can never be removed from human heart. (History of Civilization vol .1, pp. 88- 89)
From a psychological point of view, this time honored relationship between man and religion proves that religious feeling is one of the basic human instincts natural elements of the human soul. It is obvious, that at a time, when the level of human thinking was low and the sciences had not made any remarkable progress, this internal feeling was in an incredible way mixed with superstition, but gradually with the progress of sciences on the one hand ,and persistent efforts and teachings of the prophets on the other, it was purified of adulterations and it regained its purity and originality.
Anti-Religious Waves During the Past Centuries
In these circumstances it looks a little surprising that during the past centuries, especially from 16th Century onward, a violent anti-religious wave has hit the Western countries and many of the liberal minded Europeans have dissociated themselves from the Church. Those who wanted to remain loyal to religion turned to some Eastern religions or to a sort of gnosticism minus religion, while a large number of people were attracted by materialism and the like. But an inquiry into the roots of this subject indicates that in the special circumstances prevailing Europe, this phenomenon was not unexpected. Factors leading to anti-religious movements and tendency to materialism in Europe should be looked for in the perspective of the policy which the Church pursued with regard to the Renaissance and progress of natural sciences in various fields. When the Church in the middle ages, especially during the 13th to15th centuries started a campaign against science which continued even to the 16th and l7th centuries and attempted to crush scientific movements through Inquisition, issued a papal decree to condemn science dragged people like Galileo to persecution and forced them to deny the motion of the earth. It is obvious what the reaction of the scientists to such teachings could be. They, being at the cross roads of sciences and religion (of course religion as it was understood at that time and in that environment), naturally went for science, the firm basis of which they had personally observed and tested. Mistake in analogy and incorrect comparison of other religions to the special position of the Churches in the middle ages induced certain scientists to start a campaign against all religions and to reject them formally. They went to the extent of innovating a doctrine known as discord between religion and science'.
But the study of scientific movement in Islam, which started from the very first century and bore fruit in the second and third centuries of the Hegira era, shows that in Muslim society the case was quite different. This movement soon gave birth to the scientists like Hasan lbn Haitham, the well-known Muslim Physicist, Jabir lbn Hayyan. whom the Europeans call Father of Chemistry, and tens of others like them. Their books exercised considerable influence over the Scientists like Roger Bacon, Johann Kepler and Leonardo da vinci. It is interesting that all this scientific progress took place in the middle ages and coincided with the Church's violent opposition to the Renaissance and the standard-bearers of the new scientific movement. All historians in the East and the West, who have dealt with Islamic culture, are unanimously of the view that it gave rise to a wide-spread scientific movement whose influence over the Renaissance and the scientific movement of Europe was remarkable. Thus the factors which induced the liberal-minded in the West to dissociate themselves from religion, did not exist in the case of Islam. On the contrary, there were factors which worked in the opposite direction. In short Islamic movement had a special connection with World scientific movements, and for this very reason was the fountain-head of the vast development of sciences and knowledge. However it cannot be denied that disputes and dissensions among a section of Muslim people which in intensity from the fifth century (Hijra) onward, short-sightedness, non-realization of true teachings of Islam, apathy to progress and indifference to the spirit of the time, resulted in the backwardness of many Muslim countries. Another factor which complicated the problem was that Islam in the real sense was not introduced to the younger generation. Thus the constructive role of Islam in various fields gradually diminished. Now the position is that many young men think that Islam has always been in this present dismal state. Any how, it is certain that with the revival of Islamic teachings and their correct introduction, especially to the younger generation, it is still possible to revive the spirit of early Islamic movement.
Religion and Philosophical Schools of Thought
All forms of religion censure every kind of materialism, whether it be in its simple shape or in the garb of dialectic materialism, which forms the basis of Marxism and Communism, because materialism maintains that this, universe is merely a set of undesigned and aimless happenings. Religion. in censuring materialism, relies on a number of principles which are absolutely logical, because:
The interpretation of the order of the universe advanced by materialistic schools is unscientific, for science in the course of its research, talks of well calculated and precise systems, which cannot be interpreted by accidental and chance happenings. Science acknowledges that the maker of this machine of the universe is the greatest physicist and chemist, most expert physician and the best anthropologist and cosmologist, because while performing his job, he visualized all scientific laws. Naturally he could not do so without having complete knowledge of them. It goes without saying that natural factors and natural developments can have no such knowledge at all. Materialism has accepted the doctrine of compulsion as one of its basic principles. It holds that every human action and every movement is the result of a sequence of compulsory causes. On, this basis, according to the materialistic point of view, all the efforts of man are like the movements of the wheels of a machine. It is obvious that the acceptance of this view goes against the idea of every social, moral or human responsibility. In contrast, religion accepts the principle of obligation and responsibility and thus lays the foundation of its teachings on the freedom of human will. It cannot be contradicted that the acceptance of the principle of compulsion gives a hard blow to dynamism and the sense of duty and responsibility. It also directly contributes to the expansion of crimes and aggressions, because the offenders can plead that they are not responsible for the crimes committed by them, for they were forced by the compulsion of environment, time and the way they were brought up. But there is no possibility of such evil effects if the principle of free will is accepted.
With the acceptance of the domination of matter over all affairs of human life and the restriction of value only to the material values, the materialists have practically ousted moral values. They hold, that only material interests prevail over all social and international interests. The effect of this way of thinking is obvious for without adherence to such principles as philanthropy, tolerance, sacrifice, sincerity and love, no problems at world level can be solved. Belief in exclusive domination of matter obviously not compatible with these principles.
Religion and Individual Freedom
Some people think that religion restricts individual freedom and disallows the fulfillment of some desires, whereas, in fact, the aim of religious teaching is not at all to put an end to logical freedom. Its aim is only to stop wastage of human energies and assets and to prevent their flow into improper and worthless channels. For example, if religion forbids the use of intoxicants, gambling and improper indulgence in sex, does so for the safety of the body and soul of the individual and for the maintenance of social order. This moral control is in keeping with the real spirit of freedom, for freedom means only that man should be able to take full advantage of the assets of existence to help in the evolution of the individual and the society. It does not at all mean squandering God-given energies and indulging in immoderation and libertinism. Religion supports every kind of freedom that carries man forward towards evolution in various fields. Only this, is what freedom, in the real sense, means. Anything else is libertinism. That is why religion allows man to use all good things in life, to wear any reasonable dress, to relish any good food and to take part in any healthy pastime. In short, it has allowed the use of all comforts and conveniences of life, and does not ask anyone to give up any such things. The Holy Quran says: "Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful things of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the pure food ?"
Moreover, our religion calls upon us never to forget the exigencies and requirements of time and to keep ourselves well-informed about the latest developments in medicine, technology and industry. The leader of Islam, Imam Sadiq (A) has said: "He who knows his time and its requirements, shall not be taken unaware by the dark events of life." Our religion tells us that out of the new ideas, customs and usages we should choose what is useful and worthy and should discard what is improper and wrong. We must not follow others blindly and must not adopt anything that is not compatible with human dignity and the spirit of independent thinking. The Holy Quran says, "Give glad tidings to my servants who listen to what is said and follow the best thereof. They are those whom Allah has guided and those who have good sense."
It is worth emphasizing that among human thinkers there exists no difference of opinion on the point that this universe has a self-sustaining First Cause. At the most, materialists call it matter, while the religious philosophers call it Allah. It is essential to acknowledge the existence of the First Cause, for a sequence of causes and effects cannot go on indefinitely and we must reach a point where we should come to a cause which is not the effect of any other cause, i.e. the ultimate cause or the Unmoved Mover , which is self-existing and which has always been and shall always be.
It is this Self-Sustaining First Cause which not only makes our intellectual life possible but also quite meaningful. Suppose for a moment that there is no such First Cause. To where does this lead us? Surely this cause and effect pursuit lands us in what is known in Philosophy as a continuum ad infinitum. This brings our investigation to a blind alley. It marks the beginning of intellectual wilderness, a wild goose chase. You go on piling cause upon cause and effect upon effect only to find still another cause and effect staring you in the face. Of what earthly use is it to put zero after zero when the result is zero or to place nil after nil when the result is nil ? Such is the deception of a certain mental activity and such is its misguidance. It will thus be seen that the only way to get out of this mire is the acknowledgement of the Self- Sustaining First Cause. Belief in the existence of an Eternal and First Cause is the common ground between the believers in God and the materialists. The only controversial point is whether the First Cause has knowledge and intellect or not. That is the real point of difference. The materialists deny that the First Cause has any intellect. They hold that the first cause is matter, which lacks any intellect or knowledge, whereas the believers in God maintain that the First Source of the universe has limitless knowledge, wisdom and rationality.
How to Recognize God
Now let us cast an eye on the various phenomena of the universe to find out which one supports which of these two theories and to see whether the things existing in the universe indicate that the First Cause has intellect. It will be better to begin with our own body. Does not the construction of the human eye and the way the lenses, retina and various layers of it have been fixed, testify that its maker is fully conversant with the physical laws concerning the reflection of light and the working of lenses and mirrors?
Does not the composition of human blood of plasma and various types of corpuscles with such a fixed proportion that the slightest change in it disturbs the whole biological system, clearly show that the maker of the blood knew the chemical composition and properties of all the ingredients of blood fully well?
Does not the construction of the living human, animal and plant cells in such a complex and mysterious and at the same time elegant and accurate way manifest that the job has been performed by a Being who had full knowledge of all the laws connected with the human, animal and plant physiology?
Does not the special construction of the solar system and the particular proportion between the size, distance and speed of each planet of this system prove that the maker of this machine is fully aware of all the details of the law of gravitation and the effects of the rotatory motion in producing centrifugal forces?
In short, the special construction of all that exists n the universe from the smallest particles or sub atoms to the biggest galaxies and the accurate and wonderfully arranged systems of their working bear witness to the fact that the First source has full knowledge of all the connected laws and systems. In principle all human sciences are nothing more than a partial knowledge of a minute part of the secrets and laws of the universe. How can it ever be that we, with such a partial knowledge, should become scholars and scientists but the First Source who brought the whole universe into existence should have no knowledge and intellect ? transplantation of a human heart by Dr. Bernard r required millions of scientists for thousands of years to put in their efforts for the development of medicine and surgery. Is it conceivable that the very maker of the heart should have no knowledge?
In short, the interpretation of creation of all the well-calculated and well-conceived systems, as chance events and product of unplanned and aimless causes is as illogical as to say that the transplantation of heart performed by Dr. Bernard and his team was not the result of any knowledge and study, and it was just by chance that grafting took place. Such an interpretation is totally unacceptable. But to say that the entire universe has come into existence just by chance is far more illogical. Hence the materialistic interpretation of the genesis of the universe and all that exists in it, is totally unscientific. Thus, every book of our natural sciences like physics, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, medicine, surgery etc. may be used as book of natural theology, for all these books discuss the secrets and laws of the marvelous systems of creation, whose logical and correct interpretation is not possible without acknowledging the existence of God. This very line of argument has been mostly followed by the Holy Quran while adducing arguments for the unity of Allah. As Kepler, the famous scientist and founder of modern Astronomy has said, "The more we know about the creation and grandeur of heavenly bodies, the deeper should be our faith."
Thus there exists a close relationship between the progress of sciences and the firmness of faith in God. The more the scientific knowledge expands, the firmer will the faith grow in the One Source of knowledge and power. Mr. McCombs, a biologist, who has been the head of the Academy of Sciences, Florida, says that every new discovery in the world of science increases the firmness of our faith hundreds of times, dispels the hidden doubts which more or less lurk inside our hearts, and replaces them with the nobler ideas of the acknowledgement of God and His unity.
Motion, Evolution and Life
Science of Physics tells us that if the lifeless matter is static, it tends to remain static unless it is moved by some external force, and if it is in motion it continues to move unless it is stopped by some external factor. Yet another scientific law tells us that the matter forming the universe tends to disintegrate and assume simpler form with the passage of time. Mechanized matter changes into simpler matter; atoms if they remain as they are, automatically disintegrate; bright stars tend to lose their brightness. Thus within the lifeless matter there exists no factor which may push it forward to evolution. On the other hand, it tends to disintegrate automatically. In such circumstances, it must be admitted that evolution and life have come from outside, for, within the matter, there exists no such tendency. A philosopher says that you cannot think of that attraction to life which pervades from simple ameoba to human beings (like Einstein, Edison and Anatole France) without seeing the world in a divine garb. In other words it is not possible to interpret attraction to life and inclination to evolution except through a belief in God.
Transience of the Universe
Science tells us that in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics, all the energy available in the world is proceeding towards uniformity and neutrality, and a day will come when it, having become uniform, will be neutralized. And then a state of indifference will prevail in the whole world. This is just like the case of interconnected vessels of the liquid, we observe motion, but this state does not continue for ever. Sooner or later all the levels become uniform and everything becomes motionless and quiet. According to this law, the universe must have a history .It cannot be eternal. Had it always existed, it would have become uniform and neutral long, long ago. On this ground, we must admit that this material world has not always existed. It is not eternal and must have a history. Now the big question is what is the origin of the universe. What event disturbed the first day tranquility and became the source of the creation of all the phenomena?
The first explosion or the Big Bang? Then what was the source of the explosion of the uniform atoms of primary matter? How is it possible that in a state of complete tranquility and indifference such an explosion should occur automatically?
Here it must be admitted that some outside factor was the source of the disturbance of the first indifference, emergence of a wave in the uniform of lifeless matter and the subsequent creation of the diverse phenomena of the world. We call this supernatural factor, Allah. The above mentioned three ways of proving the existence of Allah are the subject of detailed books compiled by philosophers of divinity. We have given only a brief summary.
The Quran and Acknowledgement of Allah
It is interesting that in our sacred book, the Holy Quran, a large number of whose verses are meant to strengthen the belief in Allah, reliance has invariably been put on scientific arguments. The Holy Quran in most of its verses concerning the unity of Allah, refers to the first method, i.e. the study of the system of the universe. It calls upon all to study this marvelous system. Sometimes it refers to the secrets of the creation of the heavens. It says: "In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alteration of night and day, there are many signs for the people of good sense." Sometimes it refers to other methods. It cites the Champion of Unity, Prophet Abraham (A) as saying : "My Lord is He who causes life and who causes death." Here reference has been made to life and death for they definitely indicate the existence of the Creator. This is the second way of proving the existence of Allah as mentioned earlier. In the Holy Quran there are hundreds of verses on the subject of divine unity and acknowledgement of Allah, in which attention has been drawn to the marvels of creation and grandeur of the universe. Study of these verses can be the subject of an independent book, in which wonders of science and secrets of the Holy Quran can be discussed side by side.
Atheism Does Not Exist
In view of the scientific arguments mentioned above to prove the existence of Allah, it may be asked why most of the scientists and founders of physical sciences still adhere to atheism. The answer to this question is simple. There is hardly any scientist who does not explicitly or implicitly profess the existence of the First Cause or the Source of Knowledge and Power. It does not make any difference if he does use the word, God or Allah. In the words of a well-known philosopher there exists no atheism. Every body thinks of Him and acknowledges Him in his own way.
If any body, in the course of discussion on heart, states that Nature has put up a septum between the right and left chambers of the heart so that the pure and the impure blood may not be mixed, does it not mean that he concedes that Nature has aim, intention, program and intellect ? In this case is it possible to say that by Nature he means factors lacking consciousness ? Obviously he means Allah though he uses the word, Nature. Such expressions which are an evidence of faith in the existence of a First Cause, are found in the discourses of most scientists. That shows that they all hold that Nature has aim, will, intention and program. Evidently by the word . 'Nature' they do not mean factors having no consciousness or will. Hence, obviously they use this word as a name for Allah.
Attributes of Allah
It is not surprising that it is easy to prove the existence of Allah, but it is difficult fully to understand His real Being and His attributes. First of all we must know that Allah is Ever-existing and Limitless. He is limitless in respect of knowledge, power, time and space, whereas our knowledge and power, howsoever vast they may be, are still limited and have an end. As such, how can a limited being completely grasp the very essence of an Unlimited Being ? It is not possible for a chick which has grown inside the shell of an egg to know what happens inside the limitless space of the far-off galaxies. But that does not mean that we cannot understand the attributes of Allah to the extent of our powers of thinking, knowing and understanding.
From the study of the phenomena of the universe we can find out that He is :
All-Knowing and All-wise: This is evidenced by the extra-ordinarily marvelous diversity of life and all that exists on the earth and in the heavens. Ever-living : Life in the real sense is nothing but a combination of knowledge and power. Allah is All-knowing and All-powerful. Hence He is All-living. For the same reason, He has will and comprehension also. He sees everything and hears every sound and every voice. He is All-pervading and All-aware. He is Eternal and Ever-existing. He has always existed and shall always exist. These are some of His attributes, known as Positive Attributes. for they have positive aspects. There are Negative Attributes also, which have a negative aspect. Being Limitless and Perfect in every sense, He is free from ignorance, inability, need and defect. He can have no associate and none can be like Him. It is not possible to imagine the existence of two beings, limitless in every respect, for each of them will be lacking in the essence of the other.
From this it is also evident that Allah has no physical body, for all bodies sooner or later disintegrate. As such, an Ever existing Being cannot have a body, which is liable to disintegration, decomposition and every sort of change.
Divine unity is the Infrastructure of all religious Teachings. The question of divine unity has supreme importance in Islam. In one way or the other it forms a part of all Islamic tenets and teachings. Islam rejects every kind of polytheism, dualism and trinity. According to it, Allah is one. He has no components and none is like Him. This stage is known as Unity of Being.
Unity of Attributes
A number of qualities like knowledge, power, eternity and ever-existence are attributed to Allah. They all are the very essence of His Being and are in no way separate from Him. He is a Limitless Being and a limitless being can be nothing but a Reality. All His attributes turn to one attribute, viz. limitlessness. This stage is called Unity of Attributes.
Unity of Worship
Further, according to the teachings of Islam, only Allah is Adorable. Islam does not allow in any form the worship of anyone or any thing else. Neither the sun or the stars nor any human being is adorable, because all things have been created by Him and He has sovereign control over all of them. Hence only He is adorable. This stage is called Unity of Worship.
Unity of Action
A careful study of all that happens in the world will show that Allah is the Creator and the real source of all power. If we accomplish any job, it is He who provides the necessary power. In view of this, it may be said that all our actions are accomplished with His help. No body has power independent of His power. Absolute and independent power pertains only to him. This is called Unity of Actions. Anyhow, this should not be misconstrued to mean that we have no free will or responsibility. He himself has bestowed freedom on us. He wants us freely to choose our way to better life in this world and hereafter. He has done us a favor and put at our disposal all the necessary means to reach this goal. Our freedom is a gift from Him and because we have free will we are held responsible for our actions.
Man and Freedom of Will
Let us discuss the subject of free will a little further.
We can dearly see that we are not predestined in our actions. We have liberty of action and freedom of will. A simple proof of human volition is that we blame the offenders for their offences. We lodge complaints with the courts against transgressors and ask for their trial and punishment. Even those who claim to believe in predestination take the action in their practical life. If man has no free will and every- thing is appointed and foreordained by Allah or if man is really helpless in the face of his physical or spiritual up-bringing and environment, then prosecution trial, courts and punishment have no meaning. Neither a good and dutiful worker deserves any appreciation nor an evil-doer is liable to any prosecution and punishment, because both of them are helpless in their action. Prosecution of a person who has no choice of action is far from justice. The way we and all reasonable persons behave in our daily life testifies that our conscience recognizes that man possesses freedom of will. Hence belief in predestination has no basis. Allah has granted us freedom, but it is our duty not to misuse it and to direct all our energies to the achievement of our own happiness as well as that of society. We are neither allowed to follow any false ideas or doctrines nor to take any incorrect action in the name of freedom of thought or freedom of action, for that will amount to chaos and anarchy, and not freedom.
Death means separation of soul from the body; Islam tells us that man is not annihilated as the result of death. He is only transferred from one world to another, where he begins a new life. The Holy Prophet has said: "You have not been created for annihilation. You have been created for everlasting life. The only thing is that you are moved from one world to another." According to Islam, separation of soul from the body does not take place in a uniform manner in the case of all individuals. The souls of the sinners and of those who are too much attached to this world are separated with violence and force, but the souls of the virtuous and those who love Allah and are in communion with the next world are separated with ease and gentleness.
All prophets and sacred books unanimously agree that with death human life does not come to an end, and after this world, there exists another world where human beings will be rewarded or punished according to their deeds. The virtuous will lead a happy and pleasant life, and the evil-doers will be punished and tormented. Belief in resurrection and the next world is one of the fundamentals of all religions and a believer in prophets has to believe in resurrection, too. The idea that with death every thing comes to an end and man is completely annihilated, is not only appalling but appears to be odd and illogical also. Especially after the acceptance of the doctrine of divine unity and acknowledgement of the existence of Allah, it is totally incomprehensible. It is unbelievable that the aim of all the complex laws of evolution is simply to first transform a simple and invaluable being into a highly developed intellectual being like Avicenna (lbn-Sina) or Einstein and then to annihilate him altogether. It does not stand to reason that annihilation should be the fate of the entire human race and its culture. Such a theory is incredible, unreasonable and incompatible with the knowledge, wisdom and skill of the Creator. This looks as if a vainglorious person builds a carefully designed and well-executed magnificent workshop or factory and then blows it into pieces. Will it not be more logical if we admit that life continues in another form after death and the process of evolution does not come to an end ? Here we can give a beautiful example. Our life in this world is like that of a foetus which after passing through several evolutionary stages, is transferred to a wider and more perfect environment of which it could not even have imagined (if it had any power of imagination).
Had human life been limited to a foetal period and every foetus died immediately after birth. Would such a life not have been illogical and unreasonable ? It would be more logical if human life in this world after passing through intricate and difficult routes of physical, intellectual and moral evolution, is a prelude to the beginning of a higher and wider life in the next world. The life of that world should bear the same relation to the life of this world as the life of this world to the foetal life.
That is why all those who believe in Allah also believe that with death man is not annihilated, but is transferred to another world whose full details and characteristics are beyond our comprehension, for we are confined to the four walls of this world. Anyhow; we know this much that leaving this world does not mean the end of life and that another world does exist. Study of the laws of the Universe, of the forces which push man forward along the path of evolution and of the systematic grandeur of this world convincingly testify to this truth. The Holy Quran says; "Did you think that we had made you in vain and that you were not going to return to us ?"
It also says: "And surely you have known the first evolution then why do you not mind ?" In other words it says you have seen the life of this world, then why do you not conclude that there is another world also, for the study of this world and the laws concerning the evolution of human life here show that there is another world where the process of evolution will continue.
Scientific Laws and Resurrection
It is remarkable that Science with its modern discoveries has taken a long step forward towards proving the possibility of resurrection and life hereafter, and with the enunciation of the doctrine of the imperishability of matter and energy, the resurrection which previously appeared to be impossible, has now become logical and comprehensible. The doctrine of the imperishability of matter which was first discovered by Lavoisier has rendered the question of complete annihilation totally unscientific. According to it, the particles of man, howsoever, decomposed and scattered they may become, still exist in this very world, and it is possible that one day they are recollected. This is the first step forward towards the possibility of the resurrection of man and his return to life after death. This doctrine was further reinforced by the discovery of radio-active bodies by Marie Curie. Her discovery confirmed that not only matter but energy is also everlasting and that there is no duality between matter and energy, for they are convertible with each other. On this basis, we should admit that our ideas, our deeds and all our movements which are all produced by the transformation of our various bodily energies, continue to exist in this world. Our vocal waves are not obliterated and their traces always exist in the air and the objects which surround us. Only their form is changed. The same is the case with all our works and deeds. This is another step forward towards the possibility of resurrection and even physically seeing the deeds themselves. Anyhow, with the progress of science the question of resurrection is no longer as complicated as once it was. Now it is comprehensible and from a scientific stand-point fully admissible.
Faith in Resurrection and Human Development
Faith in resurrection besides logically interpreting and revolving the puzzle of life and death and besides being a truth which must be accepted, produces diverse effects on human life, the most important of them being the following two:
The picture of death which had always been appalling and the thought of which had always disturbed the peace of mind has undergone a complete change. With the acknowledgement of resurrection and "life after death" in a world where all the gifts of life will exist eternally and on a higher and bigger scale the picture of death is no longer as dreadful and appalling as it was, and the scenes of death and old age no longer disturb the peace of mind. The unrest and anxiety caused by the thought of death is not as painful to us as to the materialists, and thus we can lead a more comfortable and satisfied life. The believers in life hereafter welcome sacrifice and martyrdom for a sacred cause, for they regard them as a prelude to a new life in a higher and wider world.
2. The realization that human thought and deeds continue to exist, that they after going through a process of development and growth come back in a magnified form in the next world, that all good and bad deeds are to be minutely accounted for and that one has to receive reward or punishment, as the case may be, certainly exerts a healthy effect on human conduct and behavior. Thus the belief in the next world creates a favorable atmosphere for the promotion of good deeds and keeping the out- burst of passions under a check.
Independent Existence and Imperishibility of Soul
Though the materialists try to describe thought, understanding and other psychological phenomena as the physical and chemical properties of brain and nervous system and hence proclaim them to be material, yet the inadequacy of their interpretation clearly indicates the independent existence and non-material nature of soul, because in spiritual phenomena like thinking, imagination and memory, we find characteristics which are not the general properties of matter. We can embody in our minds huge planets, galaxies and solar systems or mountains, deserts and large rivers, though in their external existence they are so enormous. Obviously, in such cases, a huge picture, even as large as the heaven and earth is drawn in our minds and we feel the existence of the mental picture within ourselves. Now the question is where is the location of this picture ? Certainly, it cannot be located in our brain cells, because our mental pictures may be millions of times larger than our brain. Can you ever, on paper, draw a map of Japan to the actual and physical scale of that country ? Certainly not. Hence, we must believe in the existence of meta-physical forces to be able to interpret this phenomenon without being confronted with the dilemma of correspondence of a big object to a small object. One of the general properties of matter is constant change, transformation and disintegration with the passage of time, whereas, our mental picture, remain firm and stable and do not undergo a change. For example, I saw a young friend of mine some years ago at a meeting. If I recollect that meeting even after fifty years, the same mental picture, which is still firm in my memory , will reappear without, the slightest change. This shows that mental pictures remain stable and are not affected by general properties of matter, and hence they cannot be material. Non-correspondence of a large object with a small object and unchangeability of mental pictures are two out of many arguments advanced by the philosophers to prove the independent existence of human soul or spirit. There are other arguments also, for which a reference may be made to the books of philosophy. From the above, it may be concluded that soul and spiritual phenomena do not have general properties of matter, they do not come to an end with physical death, and continue to exist even after having separated from the body. This clearly indicates the possibility of resurrection after death.
Life hereafter and resurrection after death are proved by reason, but reason cannot guide us as to the nature and character of the next life. For that we have to refer to the sayings of the prophets and religious leaders (Imams). The Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet tell us that there exists a world named Barzakh where the dead will be kept till the Day of Judgment and general resurrection. It is an intermediate stage between this world and the next. When a man dies, he comes first to this world, where he passes a special kind of spiritual life. At the start of this life which begins from the grave, a brief interrogation is carried out, and the beliefs and acts of the individual are checked. If his beliefs are found in order of his acts and deeds good, a door of paradise is opened to him and he stays on the way leading to paradise, where he enjoys heavenly blessings. There he waits for the Day of Judgment and final attainment of eternal favors. On the other hand, if he is found wicked and his beliefs false, he is placed on the way leading to hell and the door of hell is opened in his face. There he leads a bitter and unpleasant life. He is tormented and remains in constant fear of the Day of Judgment and severe punishment.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
"And do not say of those who are slain in the way of Allah that they are dead. In fact, they are alive, but you do not perceive that life."
"Do not regard as dead those who have been slain in the way of Allah; nay they are really alive and are well-provided by their Lord."
The Holy Prophet said: "The grave is the first stage of the next life. If one is saved from its rigors, the next stages are easy. If one is not saved, then what follows is not easier."
Imam Ali Ibn Husain (A) said: "The grave is either a garden out of the gardens of paradise or a pit out of the pits of hell."
The Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet and the Imams describe resurrection as under: -
The sun and the moon will become dark and lightless. The mountains will be cleaved and torn as under. The planets will collide with each other. The rivers will become dry and will be ablaze. The heaven and earth will be deformed. At that time all the dead will be raised. They will be assembled for giving account of their deeds. Allah has the record of all acts and deeds of the people. Nothing has been left out or missed. On the Day of Judgment the veil will be lifted from the eyes of the people and they will be able to see their deeds with their eyes physically. Then the process of accountability will begin. Everything will be checked most carefully and minutely. The infidels and the unpardonable sinners will be sent to hell. The sinners who will be eligible for pardon. having already undergone a part of punishment during their stay in the Purgatory, will be pardoned as a result of an intercession by the prophets and the Imams. They will eventually be sent to paradise. The accountability process in respect of the good and virtuous will be completed speedily and with ease. But the infidels and many sinners will have a rough time. Even the minutest details of their conduct will be checked and they will be asked to explain all their acts. This will take a long time, and they will pass through various stages of accountability in great discomfort and anguish.
Paradise is the place where the good and the virtuous will be sent. There exist all means of comfort, ease and happiness and all that one may enjoy. Everything which one wishes will be available there. The Holy Quran says: "There shall be what the soul desires and what delights the eye." The blessings of Paradise are higher and better than those of this world. None has heard of nor seen anything like them. There will be no discomfort there. He who enters paradise will have eternal life and will stay there for ever. Paradise has various divisions, and everyone will be accommodated in them according to the degree of his good deeds and virtues.
Hell is the place where infidels and the wicked will be kept, and there they will be punished, tormented and subjected to most severe pain. The punishment meted out in hell will be indescribably harsh and severe. The fire in the hell not only burns the body, but it also burns the heart and soul. It erupts from within and inflames the very existence of the individual. "The fire of Allah that has been lighted, rises over the hearts," says the Holy Quran. Those who will be consigned to hell will be divided into two groups: -
The first group will consist of unbelievers who do not acknowledge Allah. They will for ever be tormented in hell and will have no escape.
The second group will consist of those who acknowledge Allah, but their faith being weak, they commit sins and thus become liable to punishment. They will be kept in hell temporarily. After they have been purged of the darkness of the sins, they, through the direct mercy of Allah or intercession of the prophet, will be forgiven and sent to paradise.
Hell also has various divisions where various types of chastisements have been provided for. Everybody will be placed in the class which he deserves according to the varying degree of his sins and will be suitably punished.
The principle of intercession has been mentioned in the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet and the Imams. Hence, in principle, intercession is undeniable. On the whole the traditions show that the Holy Prophet and the Imams will intercede on behalf of some sinner. They will say: "O Allah : Though this person is a sinner and deserves punishment, yet for the sake of the certain quality which he possesses because you are All-forgiving and for the sake of that consideration you have for us. We beseech you to ignore his misdeeds and show mercy to him." Their request will be acceded to and Allah will forgive the sinner and will bestow his favor on him.
Though in view of the Quranic passages and traditions, the principle of intercession is undeniable, a few points must be borne in mind,
No interceder will intercede without prior permission of Allah.
Intercession will take place only on the Day of Judgment and after the process of accountability is completed and all deed sheets have been checked. Interceders will ask for mercy only. There will be no intercession so long as a person is in ' barzakh ' where sinners must undergo punishment according to their sins. Though it is possible that there also on the recommendation of the Prophet or an Imam, punishment is reduced or commuted, but that is not what is meant by intercession,
The interceders (Imams) themselves have said : "Be careful to come on the Day of Judgment in the form of a man so that we may intercede on your behalf." This shows that if sins and beastly acts of a person are so heinous that he comes on the Day of Judgment in the shape of a beast, he is not eligible to intercession. In any case, eligibility is the essential condition. The interceders have said that their intercession will not include certain sins like not offering prescribed prayers. In view of the above, one must not commit sins in the hope of intercession. That will only amount to taking poison and relying on the aid of physicians and medicines. Such a person is certainly liable to perish.
The passages of the Holy Quran and the traditions of the infallible Imams tell us that if a sinner before his death repents and feels penitence about his misdeeds, his sins are forgiven without further questioning. Hence the door of penitence is open to all sinners and one need not despair, for true penitence wipes all sins. But it is not enough to repeat any formula of penitence or just to shed a tear. True penitence has certain conditions to which Ali ibn Abi Talib (Peace be on him) has referred. He has said: "Penitence has six conditions. One must:
Really and sincerely repent his past misdeeds.
Be determined not to commit any sin in future.
Discharge all the rights which belong to others.
Fulfill all neglected obligatory acts.
Melt through self-mortification all the flesh that has grown on his body through the use of unlawful foods.
Bear the bitterness of acts of worship in the same way as he had tasted the pleasure of sin. Only then, he should utter the formula of penitence."
It is obvious that traversing this path requires guides who with their extra-ordinary knowledge and piety may guide all and may set an example for them to follow. Human knowledge and intelligence being limited, it is quite likely that we may make a mistake in determining what is in our interest and what way leads to our eternal happiness. Hence there must be some persons, who, because of their communion with the metaphysical world. are in position to find the right path and show that to others. That is why, we say that it is not conceivable that the All wise and Rational Allah would leave us in darkness. His limitless benevolence demands that He, through His chosen prophets, themselves human beings, puts necessary laws and programs at the disposal of mankind. Prophets are the chosen and distinguished person who get in contact with Allah, find out the truth and communicate it to the people. This contact is called revelation. It is a special kind of contact between a prophet and Allah. A Prophet with his inner eyes sees the mysteries of the universe, and with the ears of his heart listens to divine calls and conveys them to the people.
Prophets are Infallible
Prophets must not commit any sins. errors or mistakes, otherwise they cannot be fully relied upon in the performance of their mission. They should be rendered by Allah immune from sins and mistakes, so that people may repose cent percent confidence in them. If they be liable to commit sins and mistakes, they cannot be a mode and example for others, nor can their acts. sayings and ideas become a source of a code of conduct to be followed. This immunity from sins and mistakes is called Ismat (infallibility), and those who possess it are called Ma'asum (infallible).
Number of Prophets
Traditions tell us that for the guidance of people Allah has sent about 1,24,000 prophets, first of them being Adam and the last Muhammad (S) son of Abdullah. Prophets are divided into two groups. Some received revelation, but were not charged with the mission of propagation. Others had such a mission. Some of the latter group did not have a distinct code of laws of their own, but spread the laws of another prophet. It has also happened that at the same time there were several prophets, carrying out their functions in different countries or different cities and towns. The most outstanding prophets. who brought independent codes of law were five. Their names along with the names of the Books revealed to them are given below:
1. Noah (A) Epistle
2. Abraham (A) Epistle
3. Moses (A) Torah
4. Jesus (A) Evangel
5. Muhammad (S) Quran
Aims of Prophets
The program of the prophets includes :
1. To lay the foundation of justice on a firm basis.
2 .To teach and educate.
3 .To combat every form of superstition, corruption, undue discrimination and deviation from divine unity, truth and justice.
The Holy Quran says: "Surely we have sent Our messengers with clear proofs and we have sent own with them the Book and the balance (necessary Laws) so that mankind may keep justice."
In respect of the Prophet of Islam it says: "It is he who has raised up among an unlettered people messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His verses and purifies them and teaches them the Book and the wisdom although before this they were in a clear error."
This is the noble aim for which the prophets have been sent.
Proofs of Prophethood
Prophets must have a living and clear evidence to prove their apostolate. This evidence must be an achievement which is beyond the power of ordinary man, so that it may be proved that they are in communion with the metaphysical world and are inspired and take instructions from there. The stories of the conversion of the rod of Moses(A) into a python and the coming to life of the dead and the recovery of the born blind through Jesus (A) re undeniable. The story of speaking of Jesus (A) in cradle has expressly been narrated in the Holy Quran. Similarly the Prophet of Islam, though raised from amongst the most backward people, brought the book which is the masterpiece of knowledge, methods of education and secrets of creation. admittedly it is beyond human power to accomplish such a feat. That is why we call the Holy Quran inimitable. The Holy Quran, is miraculous from several angles. It's literary style is so wonderfully striking that its enemies called it a magical act and advised people not to go near Muhammad (Peace be on him and his progeny), whose penetrating words bewitched the listeners and pulled them to his system. This shows that even the enemies were convinced of the Holy Quran's extra-ordinarily striking effect. Apart from it's style, the contents of the Holy Quran are such that within a short time they brought about an extra-ordinary changes in the environment of the world and laid the foundation of a bright culture along with a vas
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