Is God dead?
They claim that ‘God’ is dead. They should have said that ‘gods’ are dead. The confusion arises when false ‘gods’ are identified as GOD.
An atheist astronaut once gleefully joked that
he went high above in the space but could not see the god. So, here
is the confusion: the poor soul did not know that God is not a ‘body’ to
be seen or found in a ‘place’. His joke just confirmed the belief
of those who have emphasized from the very beginning that God could not
have been seen.
Belief in a God is as much natural as any natural instinct can be. This eternal truth has been explained in the verse of the Holy Qur'an mentioned above.
An atheist asked Imam Jafar al Sadiq (a.s.) how could he convince him about the existence of God. Coming to know that the man had gone several times on sea voyages, the Imam asked him, "Have you ever been caught in a fierce storm in the middle of nowhere, your rudder gone, your sails torn away, trying desperately to keep your boat afloat." The answer was ‘Yes’. Then the Imam asked, "And sometimes, perhaps, even that leaking boat went down leaving you exhausted and helpless on the mercy of raging waves?" The answer was again ‘Yes’. Then the Imam asked: "Was not there, in all that black despair, a faint glimmer of hope in your heart that some unnamed and unknown power could still save you." When he agreed, Imam said: "That power is God."
That atheist was intelligent. He knew the truth when he saw it. Today's atheist give that place to ‘Nature’. The only snag is that poor ‘Nature’ is senseless and lifeless. How a senseless and lifeless idea (because nature is no more than an abstract idea) could create an universe of such magnitude with such a systematic perfection, uniting millions and millions of galaxies in a well-knit system? How could nature give life and sense to creatures when itself has none?
Unity of God
This short surah of the Holy Qur'an is the most significant of all writings dealing with the oneness of God. As Allamah Abd’llah Yusuf ‘Ali has commented in his tradition of the Holy Book, the nature of God has been indicated here in a few words, such as we can understand. He writes: Here we are specially taught to avoid the pitfalls into which man and nations have fallen at various times in trying to understand God.
"The first thing we have to
note is that His nature is so sublime, so far beyond our limited conceptions,
that the best way in which we can realize Him is to feel that He is a personality.
‘He’, and not a mere abstract conception of philosophy. Secondly,
He is the One and Only God, the only one to Whom worship is due, all other
things or beings that we can think of are His creatures and in no way comparable
to Him. Thirdly, He is Eternal, without
beginning or end; Absolute, not limited by time or place or circumstances,
the reality before which falls other things or places are mere shadows
Fourthly, we must not think of Him as having a son or a father, for that would be to import qualities into our conception of Him. Fifthly, He is not like any other person or thing that we know or can imagine; His qualities and nature are unique."
In fact this short surah is a declaration of war against all ideas of paganism and anthropomorphism. Men from the beginning have had a tendency to imagine God in their own image. Some thought of Him as having body like animals or human-beings. Others thought that He was incarnated in the forces of nature like rain, lightening, mountain and river. Still others thought that He was a father and had a child or children. But this surah warns us against this tendency to conceive God after our own pattern.
Can ‘Nature’ replace God?
‘Nature designed this’; ‘Nature adapted that.’ These are the phrases frequently seen nowadays in the text-books and articles.
What is this ‘Nature’, anyway? It is nothing but an abstract idea formed in the human brain after careful study of the behavior of the things. It may be found (if it is ‘found’ at all) within the things; it has no independent existence. And, in any case, there is no record of any conference of the ‘natures’ of various things, held to decide how to co-ordinate their functions. Flowers never conferred with the bees to seek the bees’ co-operation in their pollination, offering them, in exchange, their nectar. But we know that bees could not live a single day without flowers; and thousands of flowers would long have been extinct but for the bees.
More puzzling are those phenomena which can not be explained by ‘nature’s planning.’ When Moses fled from Pharaoh, the Red Sea parted, allowing him and his followers to cross to the promised land. Scientists nowadays try to explain it by natural causes; an earthquake must have made the water shift at that time. All right. But why did that supposed earthquake occur at a time when Moses and his followers desperately wanted to cross the Sea, and why it remained parted till Pharaoh entered into it? And why the movement of water was reversed at that very moment when the enemy of God with his people was in the midst of the Sea? Was it all a coincidence?
And was it a coincidence which prompted a spider
to weave its cobweb at the mouth of the cave in which the Holy Prophet
Mohammad (s.a.w.) was hiding from the pagans of Mecca who wanted to murder
him? And more than that, was it also a coincidence which brought
a pair of pigeons to build their nest at the mouth of that very cave at
thick of night and lay the eggs before mornings? It was that cobweb
and nest with eggs which led the blood-thirsty enemies to believe that
Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) could not be in that cave, otherwise the cobweb
would have been destroyed and the nest and the eggs broken!
Can that speed and timing of the pigeons and spider be explained by ‘natural causes’?
Love and Fear of Allah
These are the very first verses of the Qur'an. They present in clear terms the concept of God in Islam: God is Merciful and Just. According to Islam, the Divine Justice is not separate from His Mercy.
The Divine Justice cannot be compared with
the justice meted out by the judges in the courts. These judges are only
the executors of the law, given to them by others, with little or no authority
to condone the culprits. They are bound by the law. They are helpless
against the strict implications of law when it demands punishment.
They cannot dispense mercy even if the culprit is repenting, even if the
circumstances demand mercy. Petitions for mercy are addressed to
the head of state, who is the supreme promulgator of law.
But God is not a mere judge. He is the law-giver and the supreme Authority. Hence an offender can be sure of His merciful pardon is his repentance be genuine. Islam puts the Mercy of God before His Justice. The very first verse of the Quran is "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful". Islam believes that "His Mercy is before His wrath."
Thus the Muslim have a finely balanced faith, which is inclined neither to this side nor to that. It does not teach us that God is a high-handed avenger who does not forgive a single sin or mistake; but it does not present God in the shape of a feeble person who will not punish even the tyrannies and brutalities of head-hunters. The essence of Islamic faith is in the above mentioned verses, where the Mercy of God has been mentioned side by side with His Justice.
Here we find a real divine religion which encourages
man to go nearer to Allah, attracted by His Mercy and Grace; and warns
him against trespassing the limits of moral and religious laws, by reminding
him that God is Just, the Master of the Day of Judgment.
Thus, the two most important instincts of man, i.e., love and fear, are simultaneously utilized to make a perfect being, a whole being, not wanting in any respect.
God - Mindedness
This phrase occurs at the beginning of every
surah of the Qur'an except one. It is used by Muslims before starting
every work - before reading, before eating, before starting their work,
before sleeping. Islam teaches man to start every good effort with
the holy name of God Who is Beneficent and Merciful, invoking His mercy
to bless his efforts with success.
The goal of Islam is to make a man "God-minded"; it wants him to realize that he, by himself, is nothing that all his efforts are fruitless unless rewarded by God with success. And that realization is combined with the satisfaction that God is Beneficent and Merciful, who will not disappoint him in his hope and belief.
It is very amusing to note that the common image of Islam, in the eyes of non-Muslims, is that of a religion whose god is wrathful one, like the god of the Old Testament, inflicting punishment on the spur of the moment. Do a mistake and you get a jolly good bang on your head!
They fail to realize that the very first sentence of the Qur'an describes God as Beneficent and Merciful. And that formula is used by every Muslim hundreds of times every day. Ant the Muslims believe that by involving the mercy of God they get limitless blessings of God in this world as in the world hereafter.
Once, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) while passing a graveyard, ordered his companions to get out of it in haste. On the return journey, he asked them to walk slowly. On being asked the reason of his first order and then of its change next time, the Prophet (s.a.w.) informed them that there was a man being chastised in one of these graves, on account of wickedness. "I did not like to remain in a place where a human-being was being punished, though he was a wrongdoer" Fortunately, at that moment the child of that dead person was taken to a teacher to start his education. The teacher told him to recite, "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful." As soon as the innocent child invoked the Mercy of Allah, the command came to the angels to change the punishment into the Blessing of God. Reason: "It is not becoming to My mercy to punish the parent while his son calls Me the beneficent and merciful." So in the return journey the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) walked in that grave-yard with comfort, glorifying Mercy and Benevolence of the Almighty God.
Let us turn towards God every time we begin a work. The word "Bismillah" (In the name of Allah) may mean also "For the sake of God" and "To the service of God". Thus this formula, if comprehended fully, will serve also to save us from wrong action and misdeed. Certainty, it will be illogical to commit a mischief "For the sake of God" and "To His service". Let us remember God; and we will become free of sins and errors.
Trust in God
The word used in Qur'an is "Tawakkal" which is derived from "Tawakkul". This is not an excuse for idleness. "Tawakkul" means that you should bind the camel with its rope, then say that you have trust in God that He will protect your camel. You should not have confidence in the rope only, because many camels have been stolen together with their ropes; and, likewise, you should not neglect the rope, because binding with the rope is a part of "Tawakkul."
So this is the spirit of Tawakkul. We are to try our best; and then we should have trust in God that He will make our work succeed. It is a sheer nonsense to sit idle and say that Allah will do all our work for us. He says in Qur'an: "And that man can have nothing but what he strives for." (53:39)
A high standard of Tawakkul was set when Amir al Mu’mineen ‘Ali (a.s.) asked some idle persons who they were. "We are those who have confidence in Allah", came the answer. Ali asked: "How is you confidence in Allah?" They said: "We eat when we get food; and we have patience when we do not get it." Ali retorted: "Yes! That was the very nature of a dog." Stunned, they asked him to explain the true meaning of Tawakkul in contrast to their own belief. Ali (a.s.) said: "When we get, we give to others; when we do not get, we thank Allah."
It means that you are to try your best to improve your condition; but you should not trust your own power and wisdom. Have confidence in Allah that he will make your efforts fruitful. Then, if you succeed, try to help your fellow brethren with the fruits of our labor; and if you fail; then also be thankful to Allah. But why should you thank Allah even when you do not succeed? Because or failure is not your responsibility. You were expected to do your best - and you did it. Be thankful to Allah that you were able to perform what was expected from you. It is your efforts which matter. Success or failure is not your province.
Thankfulness to Allah
Thankfulness of God is one of the highest virtues which a man could aspire for. It is easy to be thankful when one had an easy life, a prospering business, a respectful job and a happy family. It is a different story when things are not going as desired. Most of us, in such situations, remain obsessed with sorrow, forgetting countless bounties of God which we are bestowed with, even at the time of that tragedy. Perhaps it is this tendency which is mentioned in the Qur'an in these words: "And few amongst my servants are grateful."
It is even more difficult to be grateful in such heart-breaking situations which a man of God has to face in his struggle to lead his people on the right path (like the condition which our Holy Prophet ‘s.a.w.’ had to contend with). He faced abuse of the community, wrath of big tribal heads. Children used to throw stones on him, women scattered thorny bushes in his path. And he remained cheerful and thankful to God. When a man asked him why did he pray whole nights and fasted almost continuously, when he had so much work to do every day, the Prophet simply asked: "Should I not be a thankful servant of Allah?" Many examples can be found of men of God bearing the burdens of almost inevitable persecutions with great patience; Muhammad faced them with cheerfulness and thankfulness. The difference between these two attitude is clear enough.
Not only this. His closest people also thought of these hardships as a sign of the grace of God. Had not God chosen them to bear such heavy burden in His cause? Was it not a sign of His pleasure with them? It was this thought which make them face cheerfully all kind of persecutions inflicted by the enemies of God. It was this feeling which made Imam Ali (a.s.) Not only ‘patient’ but ‘thankful’ when he was asked by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) to sleep in his (Prophet's) bed, so that the Prophet (s.a.w.) could leave Mecca while his would-be killer (who ringed his house) thought that he was sleeping in his bed. His only question was: "Will your life be saved if I sleep in this bed?" When assured that it was the promise of God, he prostrated to God, thanking Him that He made his (Ali's) life a ransom for the life of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).
Be with God
God is everywhere. No space or time is without Him; yet He is independent of time and space. He is Omnipresent; and His love protects us from harm in this world as in the life hereafter.
But this relationship with God should not be one-sided. No doubt, God is with us. The vital question is: "Are we with God?" If a grown up son misbehaves and still demands the same parental affection which is enjoyed by his courteous and obedient brother, he is just deceiving himself. Likewise, some people fail to realize that there is no such thing as "one-sided companionship". And if we want to be sure that God is with us, we must be sure that we are with God. It means that we have to prove our love towards God, if we want to be worthy of the love of God. In other words, we must also know our responsibilities towards God and His creatures, and try to fulfill them.
As a first step to reach this goal, we must realize that we are too much entangled in our worldly affairs to spare a moment to remember God. We are not preparing ourselves to meet God at all. Shaykh as Sadiq, one of the greatest Muslim scholars, has given a very good parable to throw light on this facet of our life.
A man slipped down from the brink of a deep well. Fortunately, a plant had grown in the wall of the well, and while falling down his hands clutched a branch of that plant. After the initial shock, he began looking up and down. What he saw, was enough to make him scared. A huge serpent, in the depth of the well, was waiting for him to fall down. Desperately, he decided to remain where he was and then saw, to his horror, that two mice - one black, another white - were busy cutting the root of that plant. He lost his hope. Then he looked up, and his heart was full of hope. He was not very far from the rim of the well and, by a little judicious effort could reach to safety very easily. Then he saw a beehive in that plant. And forgetting his tragic position, he began eating the honey. Of course, the bees did not like it and began stinging him, but he remained oblivious of all the troubles. A short time after, the mice succeeded in cutting the plant down and he fell in the mouth of the serpent.
We are that man; this world is that well; the plant in midway is our life; which is being coded away by every passing night and day - the black and white mice; death is the serpent waiting for us. The honey represents the pleasantries of this world, for which we quarrel with other people- the bees, and are bitten by them. What makes our plight more tragic is the fact that rescue is never very far. It just requires a little effort on our path to reach the safety and security provided by the loving care of Allah. We may easily reach to God and be safe forever. Or, on the other hand, we may be destroyed by death. The choice is ours.
Five times in 24 hours the call comes from the minarets of the mosques: Allaho Akbar. It is adhan, meant to announce the time of prayer. Right at the call of adhan, Muslims are expected to gather in the mosques. It is a matter of pride that we are called by God to his audience. It shows his love towards His creatures that He has provided us with an opportunity to communicate with Him. He has opened His house for us, let us not be late or absent from His presence.
Adhan begins with the phrase - Allaho Akbar (Allah is great); it ends with the phrase - La Ilaha illallah (None is to be worshipped but Allah). It begins with the name of Allah; it ends in the name of Allah. We are reminded that Allah is the beginning and Allah is the end. Between these two phrases the Muadhdhim bears witness to the unity of God; and to the apostle ship of Muhammed (s.a.w.), the Holy Prophet. Then he exhorts the believers: Come for prayer; Come for prosperity (in this world and in the life hereafter; and thus it goes on till the end.
Adhan is not just a symbol. It is a sermon in clear words. It not only calls a man for prayers; it also explains why he should pray, and to whom should he pray. It reminds the hearers about God; and about man's obligation towards Him. And after these explanations, it exhorts the believers to offer their humble prayers, with full knowledge and understanding, in the presence of God.
Allah is Great! Nothing else matters. Allah is calling you. Leave aside your worldly affair. Forget your business arrangements. Do not miss this golden opportunity. Go and pray in the presence of God. He is great! Our problem, our worries, our difficulties - all will be solved in the best way, if we ask our loving Allah to solve them for us. Not only that. Our joy, our achievement, our success - nothing actually matters. Allah only is great. Let us communicate with him. Only his benevolent love and care can bring us to prosperity in this world and in the life hereafter.
How can we prove that God
From among us out there, we have people who think. And among those thinkers, there is no difference in opinion that the world has a self-first-cause. The materialists type of thinkers call it matter, while the religious thinkers call it Allah. Now, it is very important to know the existence of the first-cause.
Therefore, we should come to know that causes and effects do not go on forever, where we will get to a cause which is not the effect of any other cause (the first-cause). For example, if I am wearing pants and I want to sit on a wet chair. I sit on the wet chair, and my pants become wet. The effect was my pants becoming wet, and the cause was that I sat on the chair. Therefore a cause usually has an effect. For something to move, it needs a mover. For something to be done, it needs a doer. So if the first-cause has no cause had no cause or effect, it is then considered an unmoved mover, which is always self-existing. For religious thinkers, it's Allah. Allah can neither be created nor destroyed. For the materialists thinkers, it's matter. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed. So to summarize all this to one, every effect starts from a cause, which leads us to the first-cause. According to the religious thinkers, it's Allah, while for materialists, it's matter.
Now without the first-cause, there would be no effect or any other causes and effects. What does this lead us to? Nothing but to a blind and false explanatory proof. Therefore, there had to be a first-cause. We can go on piling cause upon cause and effect upon effect, only to find still another cause and effect staring you in the face. For example, what use is it to put zero after zero when the result is zero. So the only way to get out of this zero confusion and cause and effect, it all has to go back to the self-sustaining, existent, first-cause.
The only common belief between the materialist thinkers and religious thinkers is that both their first-causes, matter and Allah, is that they both believe it's eternal and existent. However, the difference is whether the first-cause has knowledge and intellect or not. The is the real point of difference.
The materialists believe that the first-cause doesn't have any intellect. They believe that the first-cause is matter, which lacks intellect or knowledge, whereas the believers in Allah as the First-Cause believe that Allah is the First-Cause of the Universe which Has limitless knowledge, wisdom, and rationality.
Now the confusion might be left at, "What is the first, real, existent, eternal, knowledgeable, intellectual, cause: matter or Allah?" How can we prove that the first-cause has intellect? And if we prove that the first-cause has intellect, then it cannot be matter, therefore the materialist thinkers are wrong, in which they believe matter which is the first-cause does not have intellect.
Now to prove that the first-cause by
the religious thinkers is Allah and has intellect, why don't we start with
the human body. And if we prove that the first-cause has intellect,
then it cannot be matter, therefore we are left with the real and right
Keep these in mind as we go through the human body.
-something made, needs and maker.
-something with knowledge, needs something knowledgeable.
-something that creates, needs a creator.
-something that exists, needs someone (a creator) that exists.
1.) Does not the formation of the human eye, and the way the lenses, retina, and various layers of it being fixed, show that its maker is fully well-known with the physical law concerning the reflection of light and working of lenses and the mirrors?
2.) Does not the formation of the human blood with plasma and other types of corpuscles with fixed proportions that the lightest change in it disturb the whole biological system, clearly show that the maker of the blood knew the chemical composition and properties of all ingredients of blood fully well? For example, if I combined the elements Hydrogen and Oxygen and reacted them together, the product as a result would be water (a liquid). Water, which is needed to live and helps the human body in many ways. However, if I combined the elements Carbon and Oxygen and reacted them together, the product as a result would be Carbon-dioxide (a gas). Carbon-dioxide is a poisonous gas, which is very harmful to the human body, even deadly. Overall, one is a pure liquid, while another is a poisonous gas. One can help you, while another can kill you. Don't you think that the maker knew the chemical composition and properties of all ingredients of help and harmful, metallic, and non-metallic element fully well?
3.) Does not the putting together formation of the living human being, animal and plant cells in such a complex and mysterious way, but at the same time, in an elegant and accurate way, know 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?
4.) Does not the special construction of the Solar System and the specific math between the size, distance, and speed of each planet of this Universe, prove that the maker of this machine if fully aware of all the details of the law of gravitation and the effects of the rotational motion in producing forces?
In short, the special construction and formation of all that exists in the Universe from the smallest particles or sub-atoms to the biggest galaxies and the accurate arranged systems of their working, bear witness to the fact that the first-source, the first-cause has full knowledge of all the connected laws and systems? So how can it be that we, with such a partial knowledge, should become scholars and compute scientists, but the first-source who brought the whole universe into existence should have no knowledge, intellect, or existence?
Therefore, the First-Cause, the First-Source has to be Allah, because He has the fullest knowledge and intellect which also makes logical sense, while the materialist believers think that the first-cause, the first-source is matter in which they also believe and admit that it has no knowledge or intellect.
Overall, If all these proofs discussed above need a cause for it's beginning, then the Cause is proved and therefore justified as Existent (If Allah brought this world into existence, the He Himself Exists).
The Science of Physics tells
us that it the lifeless matter it static, it tends to remain static unless
it its moved by some external force, and if it is in motion, it continues
to move unless it is stopped by some external factor. So either way,
it needs external force only.
Yet, another scientific law tells us that the matter forming the Universe tends to disintegrate and assume a simpler form with the passage of time. Mechanized matter changes into simple matter; atoms if they remain as they are, automatically disintegrate. Bright stars tend to lose their brightness.
Therefore, within the lifeless matter, there exists no factor which may push it forward to evolution. On the other hand, it tend to disintegrate automatically. Therefore, again, it must be admitted that evolution and life have come from outside, for within the matter, there exists no such tendency.
One story that relates to the existence of Allah, is traditionally told as the following. Once, there lived a minister who was very strong and powerful in his age. He had taken control of most of the power and no one opposed him. One day, he entered a meeting in which a group of religious scholars were present. He turned to them and said, "For how long will you continue to say that God exists? I have many reasons to prove otherwise."
He said this with special pride. As the scholars who were present knew that he was not a reasonable or logical person and the power and strength has made him so proud that no words of truth would affect him, they ignored him and remained silent, a meaningful and humble silence.
This event passed. After a time, the minister insulted someone. The ruler of the time had him arrested and thrown in jail. One of the scholars who was present at the gathering thought to himself that the time to awaken had come. Now that he has gotten off the horse of pride and the curtain of self-interest has moved away for his eyes, and the sense of accepting the truth was awakened in him. If he contacts him and gives him words of advice, it may produce good results. He received permission to visit him and he went to the prison. As he came closer to him, he saw that he was in a room all alone, walking back and forth, thinking and recalling a poem which said, "We are all like drawings or paintings of a lion which are painted or drawn on a flag. When the wind blows, it moves and perhaps even attacks, but in reality it has nothing from itself. It's strength is the wind which gives it power. We, also, as we gain more power, have nothing from ourselves. It is God who has given this strength to us and whenever He wills, He can take it from us."
The scholar still there,
listening, saw that under this condition, that not only does this man deny
the existence of God, but he has become ardently aware of God. After
greeting him, he said, "Do you recall how you said you
have many reasons for the non-existence of God? I have come to answer
those many reasons with just one response, ‘God is He, Who, with such ease,
took your power away from you." He hung his head in shame
and did not answer because he knew that he had been wronged and saw the
light of God within himself.
This source of information was taken from:
1. Allama Ibrahim Amini, Allama Muhammad Mahdi Asifi, Allama Murtaza Mutahheri, and Allama Nasir Makarim Shirazi. Rationality of Islam. Published by Cultural and Guidance Section. Al-Khoei Foundation. Pakistan, 1977.
2. Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi. Inner Voice. Published by Dar Rah-e Haq (Islamic Institute). Qum, Iran, 1980.