Rafed English

The Problem of Bada'

In this matter also the Shi'as are much reviled. The misconstruers, distorting the concept of "bada'", try to convince people that according to the Shi'a faith, God, the Almighty, performs actions of which He has no knowledge. God forbid. Can there be greater ignorance than this? This is plain infidelity because on the one hand, it is a denial of the attribute of knowledge of God the Almighty, and on the other, He is considered as being subject to accidents and changes. This negates the very essence of the infiniteness and absoluteness of God. The Imamiyah sect vehemently opposes these foolish and absurd ideas. Rather, no Islamic sect supports this misleading view. Of course, these nonsensical ideas have been attributed to some of those elements who believe in the physical body of God. Thus it was one of them who said about God, "Only excuse Me for My beard and private parts. Othewise you may ask Me anything you like."

The correct meaning of "bada'", which the Shi'as believe in, is included in the secrets and mysteries of the House of Muhammad (a.s.),. The traditions of the ahl ul-bayt (a.s.) say, "There is no other way in which the duty of worship of God is better performed than it is with the acknowledgement of "bada'" the proof of this knowledge does not possess a complete understanding of God."

There are many other reports with the same sense. In fact, knowledge is of two kings: One is that with which God has endowed His angels and prophets (a.s.). According to this knowledge, whatever has been told them must surely happen. The second kind is that which is neither known to an angel close to the Presence of God, nor to any exalted Prophet (a.s.). It is only He Who knows it. So, according to this, He may cause something to happen earlier to delay a happening, or efface or write down something as He pleases. That is the stage of knowledge, which God the Almighty calls "umm al-kitab". This shows the perfect Might, absolute Wisdom and divine Sovereignty of the Lord of the universe.

The problem may also be understood in the following way. "Bada'" in the world of existence has the same status as "naskh" (abrogation) in the commands of the shari'ah. Thus, just as in the shari'ah, amendments, additions, changes and alterations give untold advantages, so also, in the world of being, the secrets and unknown advantages of "bada'" are beyond human understanding.

"Bada'" can also be explained thus. The highest servants of God have knowledge of a matter, but they do not know what will facilitate or hinder its cocurrence. For example, Jesus knew that the bridgegroom would die on the first night of his marriage, but he did not know that failing to give charity was a condition for this. So it happened that the bridgegroom's mother gave out charity and he was spared. When the reality of the matter was put before Jesus, he said," You must have given charity on his behalf. Charity wards off calamities."

There are many other instances of this sort. The advantages that accrue from these states of affairs is that, in the first place, human being are put to the test, and, in the second, they are trained in the habits of submission. A clear proof of this is the manner in which Abraham was put to the test over his son.

Also, if there were no "bada'", all the invocations, charity, intercession, weeping and impoloring of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his successors (a.s.), and their fear of God, would be meaningless, despite their complete obedience to Him.

Evidently the casue of their fearing and trembling is that hidden and treasured knowledge which nobody is aware of and which is the fountainhead of "bada'".

If someone wishes to know the details of the different kinds of "bada'", "qada" and "qadr" and the "lawh mahw" and the "lawh ithbat", he or she should read the first volume of our book "ad-Din aw l-Islam". We have there gone into these topics in great detail.

Adopted from the book: "The Origin of the Shi'ite Islam and its Principles (Asl ash-Shi'ah wa Usuluh" by: "Allamah Kashiful Ghita"

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