CHAPTER – 6
THE ONENESS OF GOD:
[THE UNITY OF GODHEAD]
To believe that Allah is the Sustainer of the worlds and the Lord of the universe, emanates form the heart and permeates our whole being. But Faith in God as the one and only Lord is not confined to the act of faith alone. It influences all our behaviour and conduct and demands acts of worship to God and God alone. Anyone refraining from such worship or worshshipping anything else as a 'partner to God is not considered to be a believer, even though he may profess true belief in God as the Lord of all Creations and Dominions. So how can we define the concept of worship of God? Normally we understand worship as remembrance of God, performance of prayers, fasting and recitation of the Holy Qur’an, plus any other actions which take us nearer to Him. While this definition is no doubt correct, worship is not limited to these actions alone. Any useful action which is not prohibited by the Divine Law and is performed by a believer with the intention of seeking God's pleasure, is worship. We eat so that we can keep ourselves fit in order to serve Him, therefore eating is a form of worship. A man gets married to ensure an honourable life for himself and his wife; therefore his marriage is an act of worship - as is the earning of money to spend on his family. Gaining knowledge and good qualifications are also forms of worship. The same goes for the household chores a housewife does and the love and care she gives her husband. Every action, provided it is within the Divine Law and is performed with the intention of seeking God's pleasure, is worship. Perhaps it is to convey this meaning that He says in the Holy Qur’an: “I have not created jinns and men to any end other than they may worship me”.(Qur’an;51:56).
The Spirit of Worship:
Worship has two aspects, spiritual and physical. The spiritual aspect concerns our faith, which serves as both a motive and a guide. The physical aspect applies to the movement of our bodies. Prayer, for example, involves speech and movement, reciting and reading, as well as standing, sitting and kneeling. But all these actions are empty of meaning and spirit, unless they are motivated by the force of true faith in the oneness of God.
Basis for the Oneness of Divinity:
The belief that God alone is the source of all good and evil is the basis for the oneness of Divinity. It may be explained further by stating that God is the Creator of everything. As we said previously, he has created these worlds causing all kinds of creatures and things to flourish in them. He has endowed us with the power of intellect, so that we may think and contemplate about His entire creation. But when we look at the sky, the earth and the various elements of nature, we may find that some of these forces are at odds with each other. For example, fire can bun a dry tree and water can extinguish the fire. If a mosquito stings someone, that person may contract malaria, and the bark of the cinchona tree can cure his fever. We also find that God has combined harmful substances in order to make useful products. Table salt, for example, is made up of two harmful substances, chlorine and sodium. By mixing them together in certain quantities, table salt, which we require for our food, is produced. We can also observe the following points.
1) Certain sets of rules and methods govern the interaction, fusion and merging of various substances. These principles and precepts laid down by God are constant and do not change. We tend to describe them as laws of nature.
2) These laws of nature and relationships between material things are not always visible to us, as is the reaction between fire and wood and fire and water. Indeed, many of these interactions are minute - deep, and hidden from our sight. God has created a cure for every illness in this world, but those cures are not visible or intelligible and have not been handed to us as 'ready-made' products. On the contrary, in His supreme Wisdom, God has hidden these cures in places and situations where we can hardly imagine them to be. For example penicillin is found in putrid mould which has the appearance of deadly poison. The most fragrant perfumes and paints of dazzling colours are to be found in tar, which is the most foul smelling and ugly looking material. 'These sources are not within easy reach. Our Lord has mixed them, which means that the most effective and sought after material may exist in a very complicated form, mixed up with many other substances, making it a mammoth task to extract it. When we read about Madame Curie we learn about tremendous patience. She had to carry out a long series of tests and experiments over several years in order to extract a gram of radium from a huge mass of materials! Every student should read the book about Madame Curie and her husband entitled "The Immortal Student" in order to understand the amount of patience and perseverance needed to obtain knowledge. The biographies written by Islamic scholars in the early ages also describe extensively the patience, perseverance and sincerity required to seek knowledge.
3) So far we know very little about the laws and regulations God laid down. What we have discovered so far is only a drop in the ocean. We have categorized this limited knowledge into what we call science - including biology, chemistry, physics, physiology, medical sciences, etc. Each of these branches of science has specialists who delve into the depths of their particular area in order to gain more knowledge about the laws set down by our Lord.
4) Some things in our universe serve us while others are harmful and these, we find, can be divided into two categories. Some events can be attributed to an obvious reason. For example, we know that we will die if we take poison. We have gained that knowledge through the application of the laws of nature, which have been incorporated in our sciences. But the second type of useful or harmful occurrence or substance may not seem apparent and may not be based on any known law of nature. An example of this would be of a physically fit person, who enjoys good health, suddenly dying of a heart attack for no obvious reason. Both these phenomena are caused by God.
5) God has created in us intrinsic qualities of love for what is good and dislike for what is bad. This is why man does all he can in order to achieve what is good and beneficial to him and tries his best to avoid what is harmful and evil. In this context, he seeks help from every possible source of power and strength. Some of these sources are permitted by religion, however, while others are not. So, which means are permitted by religion and which are not? Imagine that your child is unwell. In this situation you normally send for a doctor and ask him to treat your child. He may do so and write out a prescription. This is a lawful means you have made use of, in order to cure your child and it is permitted by God. You sought the help of a 'scientist' who has, learnt the laws of nature laid down by God in the area of medicine. But if you had sent for a ‘witch doctor’ to treat your child you would have been seeking help through means which are outside the Divine Law. In other words, the treatment your child would be given would not be based on knowledge of the laws of nature. On the contrary, they would employ certain unseen forces with which they claim to have contact, but the existence of which has not been proved either by physical or traditional evidence, such as evidence given m the Holy Qur’an or in the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). If your doctor died, and you were to visit his grave requesting him to treat your child, although in this position he is neither able to write a prescription nor is it possible for him to diagnose the disease, this too will be an illegitimate effort. But if all practical efforts and the known scientific methods fail and you resort to prayer or charity to seek the Divine assistance through a pious and saintly person, this too will be permissible. However, if you visit the grave of a saintly person and entreat him, whereas he is in apposition that he can neither move his tongue to pray for your nor is it possible for him to cure anybody without the divine sanction, this method of seeking help will also be illegitimate.
It will be perfectly legitimate effort to administer to a patient the medicine prescribed by a doctor but if you hang the prescription round the neck of a patient or, if you dilute it with water and make the patient swallow it, and you believe that it will cure him, it will be foolish action. It is illegitimate to seek benefit out of things which Allah ahs not clearly ordained to be cause of benefits. It is perfectly permissible for a sterile woman, desiring to be the mother of a child, to seek the help of qualified doctor or use such medicines as Allah has created and which have been discovered and prepared by the scientific means. In seeking his help, she will not be doing any illegitimate thing nor will it be contrary to religion. But if she believes, like the old ladies of Syria that she will get conceived if she visited the Hanball Great Mosque on the mount Qayunon the first Friday of the month of Rajab and pulled at the chain on its door, or she may achieve her object by tying a ribbon to the lattices of a grave, then she will be doing an illegitimate thing (similar practices are common in different parts of world) which will negate her faith in the unity of Godhead (Tawhid).
It is thus clear from the above that to seek help of the natural laws, or to find out an expert advice form one who is a specialist in his job, or use such methods are generally employed, is quite legitimate, but we must always remember that none but Allah is the real benefactor. It is absolutely illegimate and against the Qur’an and the Hadith, as well as contrary to the dogma of Unity of Godhead (Tawhid), to seek the help of such nonsense as is supported neither by science nor by experimentation and observation.
God Is the Arbiter of What Is Lawful and What Is Forbidden:
All the benefit which we gain by acting on natural and physical laws are only worldly gains because God has given us the power of intellect to discover them. However, He has not granted us the power to discover what is beyond these laws, nor has he given us the power to bring into this world the benefits of the next world. So we function within the material confines given to us, trying to work for what is good and reject what is bad, as much as possible. We do not claim good or bad for ourselves in the other world. God has ordained that if we do our duty in this world, we shall be amply rewarded with all that is good in the life to come. And if we choose to indulge in what is outside the confines of Divine law, then we will suffer and be in anguish in the next world. This principle forms the basis for the concept of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, and for reward and punishment. No one else can tell us what is lawful and what is forbidden, nor can anyone make what is forbidden lawful, or, by the same token, forbid anything which has not been forbidden by God. Whoever gives anyone but Him the right to decide what is within or outside the confines of Divine law will either be worshipping someone other than God, or setting up partners in worship with Him. This is described as shirk, (polytheism) in the Holy Qur’an: The worshippers of false gods say "If God has so willed we should not have worshipped aught but Him neither we nor our fathers - nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His"(Qur’an;16:36).
Love and Fear of God:
We all have feelings of love, hatred, likes and dislikes. Perhaps we love anything that is good. We may love beautiful scenery, or many may love a woman to the extent of worshipping her. But all these aspects of love are bound by limits and constraints, like any other forms of human love. We become attached to the good feeling we derive from anything we love, or from the pleasure and joy we feel by being close to the person we love. But this love may not continue in the same degree of intensity; in fact it may even turn to dislike if some misfortune happens to the person or object of love, or if the person we love becomes disfigured in an accident, or the food we love goes bad, or if climatic conditions change the beauty of natural scenery. But the love, a believer has for God is absolute. It is not subjected to any constraints or limitations. In fact, the love we have for the people and objects in this world is, in reality, our love for God through his creations, since it is He who has created and placed at our disposal all that we can make use of, or enjoy the sense of seeing or touching.
At the same time, many things in creation are a source of fear for us. A wild beast, deadly poison or a ruthless tyrant may frighten us out of our wits. But such fear is bound by the extent of danger we visualise, or that may result from the source of our fear. When the danger has passed, our fear vanishes. But we do not check or restrain our fear of God. That fear is unlimited. The way of realizing the Oneness of God is based on both the love and fear of Him. And it is love and fear that form the essence of worship. However, it must be pointed out that love of God does not mean you write poetry to Him or express physical love for him. And fear of God should not cause a sense of panic or anxieties, making us lose our sense of mental balance. We should, instead, induce the love of God through obedience to him within us. We therefore resist the craving of the heart, and keep away from the temptations of the devil. It should make us lead a life of purity in both conduct and character, in a way that is acceptable to God. It must, above all, encourage us to proceed on the path shown by our Prophet (peace be upon him). The Holy Qur’an states: “Say (Oh Prophet), if your love God, follow me! God will love you and forgive your sins”(Qur’an;3:31).
Thus the true measures of love and fear, as the example set by the Prophet (peace be upon him), are: 1) Adherence to the path of guidance and abstinence from all that has been forbidden; 2) Preference for the reward in the next world over the pleasures of sin in this world. However, submission to God should not be thought of as being similar to the way we obey some human beings, for the following reasons. We obey our Prophet (peace be upon him) because God ordained us to do so, while we obey other people for reasons of instinct or fear of what the consequences will be if we disobey. For example a nation obeys its ruler, children comply with their parents’ wishes, a wife submits to her husband's wishes, and, provided that what he is ordered to do, does not hurt him, an person may obey someone who has been good to him, or we may suddenly feel compelled to obey someone to protect ourselves from harm or injury.
All such acts of obedience, except obedience to the Prophet (peace be upon him), which is in fact compliance to God's will, are conditional. In other words, they are not like the complete and unlimited obedience we show to God. For instance, we may have to carry out duties and activities in our everyday lives which we do not enjoy. In fact, even though we may or may not comprehend His supreme wisdom in all that he wills us to do; our obedience of Him is the fruit and proof of our sincere love for Him.
The Attributes of God:
The Qur’an was revealed in Arabic and was first addressed to the Arabs. Therefore, the meanings of the verses of the Qur’an will be authentic only as understood by an Arab, provided he follows the grammar and the usage of the language and interprets precise in its concert meaning a and a figure of speech as a metaphor. But, since the vocabulary of all languages was coined to convey the things in ‘this material world’ and their meanings, the words do not have the competence to cover human sentiments and feelings, not to speak of the Attributes of Allah.
I have, so far, avoided the discussion of problems concerning differences in scholastic theology or among theologians on this subject. But there is one issue - namely, the verses of the Holy Qur’an referring to the attributes of God, which have been subject to many debates and wide difference of opinion. It is a subject deserving attention, and I would therefore like to inform readers of the issues involved. Our Almighty Lord has, in the Holy Qur’an, described Himself with words which are normally used in everyday language to express human feelings and activities. Needless to say, there is nothing equal to God, Who, as the Creator and Sustainer, is above all comparison with any of the creations. These words, therefore, when they occur in the context of Divine attributes, cannot be interpreted to mean the same as when used in the context of human beings. We may, for instance, say that such and such a person is well-informed and that another person is knowledgeable. We may also say of God that He is well-informed and knowledgeable, but the processes by which a human being learns and perceives are not the same as those pertaining to God. We say, for example "The teacher seated himself at his Desk". The verb 'to seat' also occurs in the Holy Qur’an: “Verily, your Sustainer is God, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days and is seated on the throne of his Almightiness.”(Qur’an;7:54) In this verse the verb 'to seat' has been used to convey the meaning of 'establish'. We know the lexical meaning of ‘establish' (in Arabic the verb istava is used in both instances), nevertheless, we apply it to a teacher with a completely different meaning from that in the quoted verse. Theologians are unanimous in their agreement with regard to the denotation of the verses dealing with the attributes of God, and that these are His words. If He had said"... and is established ...", no one could ask "What could' is established' be?" But opinions vary greatly with regard to the purpose and Intention of these attributes and as to whether they are real or metaphorical. The question is whether they can be subjected to interpretation and clarification or not.
One school of thought took the stand that these verses can be interpreted and clarified, and agreed with the scholars of the science of rhetoric, who, by and large, hold the view that words are essentially to be used in the meanings they signify. There is no doubt that the Arabic language contained the language of the Holy Qur’an before it was revealed. These words were used to denote ordinary and everyday meanings. But as they are not adequate enough even to express human emotions and feelings, what can we possibly say about their inadequacy to express Divine attributes? Let us consider, for example, the words at our disposal to express beauty. We know that beauty has several forms and entities, such as the beauty of nature, a poem, a building or the dazzling beauty of a young girl. When we want to express anything regarding beauty, we are forced to bring in the words 'beauty' or 'beautiful', as our linguistic repertoire is rather limited. Thus human language falls short of expressions to convey the concept of beauty - and the same applies to the concept of love. Think of all the different manifestations of love - and the words at our disposal to describe or discuss them.
The vocabulary of any language is considered to be a vehicle to convey the thoughts, feelings, actions, emotions, etc. which pertain to life in this world. The vocabulary in the Holy Qur’an also draws from this repertoire of mundane meanings, meanings concerning our material existence in this world, or (example, the words referring to God concerning some of His actions like: 'He sat, He came, He deceived, He was cunning, He forgot.' etc. It would be a contradiction in terms to say that these words in the Holy Qur’an are not to be understood in their ordinary, everyday meaning and that they have occurred as metaphorical expressions. Among those who reject the theory of metaphorical usage of such words in the Holy Qur’an is the famous scholar, Ibn Taymiyya. He is of the opinion that metaphorical interpretation The Oneness of God is also man-made and will therefore also reflect mundane.
I find, after studying these verses that they fall into three categories:
1) Verses which are in the nature of a statement of fact by God, as in: The Most Gracious established on the throne of His almightiness. (Qur’an;20:5) We do not interpret this verse either by denying the act of being 'established' or by saying that the Almighty' established or seated' Himself on the throne, in the same way as a person would sit on a chair. Such a statement would amount to a comparison between the Lord and His creation. But we believe that it is the Word of God and that the human intellect cannot grasp the inner meaning of such a statement. We quoted other situations earlier, in which the human intellect remains helpless.
2) Verses containing ‘extended metaphors’ - a suggestion of likeness or analogy which is a recognised form of stylistic expression. For example, Abu Tammam, the famous Arab poet says: Ninety thousand lions of the forest have become ripened... (i.e., they are all set to fight) This is like the ripening of figs and grapes. This mode of expression can be noticed in several verses of the Holy Qur’an: “They have forgotten God, and so He is oblivious of them”(Qur’an;9:67). The words 'to be oblivious' in this verse are not to be taken in their lexical meaning regarding us human beings, but as an extended metaphor, with reference to the Almighty, Who is never oblivious of anything, which is clearly stated in the following verse: “And thy Lord was never forgetful”(Qur’an;19:64). As to the following verse: “And He is with you wherever you may be. And God is Seer of whatsoever ye do”(Qur’an;57:4). Commentators all agree that it is to be understood in the sense of the Omniscience of God. He is aware of your existence without being physically with you. And: “We shall dispose of you, Oh you two dependents (man and jinn)”(Qur’an;55:31); “And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and God schemed (against them): and God is the best of Schemers”(Qur’an;3:54); “Lo! The hypocrites seek to beguile God, but it is He Who beguiles them. When They stand up to worship, they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of God but little” (Qur’an;4:142). All such verses have Divine connotations, and therefore should not be understood in their literal and ordinary meanings.
3) Verses, the meanings of which are made clear by other verses: And the Jews say "God's hand is shackled!" It is their own hands that are shackled and rejected (by God) because of this their assertion. Nay, but wide are His hands stretched out. He dispenses (bounty) as He wills. (Qur’an;5:64) The above verse can be understood by perusing another verse form a different chapter. Make not thy hand tied (like a niggard's) to thy neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach. (Qur’an;17:20)
It is evident that the expression regarding the stretching of hands has been used here metaphorically, in order to indicate generosity and bounty, and we should therefore not assume that God has two hands, as we do.In fact the words 'two hands' which come up in the Holy Qur’an in verses referring to the hand of mercy of God, or His punishment, are not to be taken in their literal sense.
The Self-Explanatory and Allegorical Verses of the Holy Qur’an:
It is mentioned in Qur’an that: “He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves - and these are the essence of the divine writ - as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer - albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.”(Qur’an;3:7). God the Almighty has revealed verses in the Holy Qur’an that are self-explanatory - messages that are clear in themselves, and they are the essence of the Divine Writ. There are also verses that are expressed figuratively, where the meaning is implied metaphorically and not directly. The verses referring to the Divine Attributes occur in this latter category, namely, allegorically.
The View point of the Great Majority Regarding the Verses on the Attributes of God:
The Muslims of the best of the eras who were the finest, the most virtuous and the most excellent members of the Muslim community, did not debate or argue about the obscure verses of the Qur’an no did they conjecture any interpretations of them; they accepted them and believed in them as revealed by Allah and had faith in them consummate with the purport of Allah. However when the scholastic theology/dialectics raised its head and Islamic doctrines began to be criticized, a new section of the Ulema came in to existence who piled argument on argument in order to refute these objections. They gave different explanations of the verses relating to the Attributes of Allah, and in conformity with the traditions of the Arabs, applied metaphorical meanings to those expressions which could not bear plain explanation.
The course Adopted by the Elders and the Ancient is reported to be safe and the standpoint of their followers is considered more judicious. However both of them agree that all these verses are revealed by Allah and any one, who renders them ineffective saying that these words are meaningless, is also an infidel. And, one who tries to interpret them in their literal meanings and attribute, and equates the Creator with His creatures is also an infidel. It is a very hazardous path and it may fatal to march on it. The best and the safest course to follow is the path of the Elders and the early Muslims because that alone ensures security and stability.
The Modes of Worship:
When a person believes that all good and all harm comes from Allah and that He alone has the exclusive authority to declare anything permissible or un-permissible, that absolute and infinite obedience and love is for Allah alone and that He alone is to be feared. The greatness and magnificence of Allah permeates that person and he fully understands the meaning of “Allah-O-Akbar” (God is Great); every thing besides Allah becomes naught in his eyes.
Since some of the human actions testify to the absolute reverence (to Allah), e.g. invocation, prayer, bowing, prostrating, offering sacrifice, circum-ambulation of Kabah, glorification of Allah and declaring His Unity etc, a believer performs these actions only for Allah. A believer does not pray before another person nor does he bow or prostrate before anyone else. He does not glorify anyone except Allah, nor does he beseech anyone else to forgive his sins, because all these are modes of absolute reverence which are the soul of worship.
Invocation - The Greatest Manifestation of Reverence and Worship:
‘Du’a’ (invocation) is the most remarkable form of exaltation, and in Arabic it means 'to call'. The Shari’a (religious law) allows you to call out to someone nearby if you need his help concerning knowledge, or his physical strength in order to achieve some good for yourself. But this calling help is not the same as the Du’a we are discussing now. Indeed Du’a is the essence of worship. It is the call to God to bestow what is good for us and turn us away from what is harmful. And we address this call (Du’a) to the Almighty directly, without any mediator or material means. When we go to the doctor he can only prescribe the medicine; it is God alone who, eventually, cures us, and He alone who grants, through tangible means, what is good for us. A believer, therefore, equips himself with the necessary means, and then seeks the help of the Almighty to make them come into effect. If the believer cannot find such means, he simply invokes the Almighty in the firm hope that the Diving door is ever open to him and that his invocation will be answered. Therefore, he does not invoke anyone other than God; neither does he associate anyone else other than Him in his invocation. This is the essence of worship. The best course is to avoid such a ambiguous zone, which is why a believer should not analyze them deeply, or list them separately to provoke discussion. As mentioned before, we should abide by the path shown by our Muslim forefathers, and remember that our true faith rests in our firm belief in the word of God.
The Ultimate Purpose of Worship:
As stated earlier, worship assumes a physical form through words pronounced by the tongue, and movements carried out by the body, and that faith is the 'soul' of worship. I would like to mention the following, from among the several aims of worship. The main objective is to try to achieve what pleases God.We should therefore not use worship as a means of acquiring wealth, position or fame, nor should we make it a stepping stone to worldly achievements nor a means of making a name for ourselves as being devout. In other words, we should try to be absolutely sincere in our worship. Anything affecting or impeding this sincerity is known as hypocrisy. Sincerity is always linked with intention, as intention is the driving force behind every action. God Almighty will question us on the Day of Judgement not only about our actions, but also for the reasons behind them. An action may be good in itself, but if the intention and purpose for which it is performed is not genuine and dedicated to God, it loses its worth. Prayer for example is a noble act, but if it is offered with the intention of attracting attention or creating an impression of piety and devotion to God the action becomes empty. This is why the historical event of migration from Mecca to Medina differed according to the intentions of the migrants, outwardly everyone performed the act of migrating in a uniform manner, but inwardly there were those who migrated for different reasons. Those who went to Medina to protect their religion and please God migrated for the right reasons and in all sincerity, whereas those who went in the hope of getting married or striking a business deal migrated for a worldly purpose.
Awareness of our actions therefore is the dividing line between actions performed as worship and those performed automatically, as a matter of habit. A person may oversleep and then rush off to work without having had breakfast, and may not eat or drink before sunset. In one way he will have observed a day of fast, but he will not have the reward for fasting as someone observing fast with the intention of fasting. Anything we do that is lawful and permissible, if it is done with the intention of pleasing God, is considered to be an act of worship. This means that our daily routine of eating, drinking, sleeping, sitting, standing, working, our married life and so on, are all forms of worship as long as they are performed consciously.And this is what God means in the verse of the Holy Qur’an where He says: “I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me”(Qur’an;5:56). The broad scope of the meaning of religion therefore needs to be understood as explained above - and worship is the ultimate goal of all human beings.
To sum up, the Unity of Divinity, the fourth and most important of all issues concerned with the subject of faith means the belief that all good and evil comes from God alone, and that we should not seek to gain benefit from anyone other than Him. We seek such benefit either through the 'rules', ‘the laws of Nature’ that He laid down for this universe, or directly from Him, through prayer and invocation. We plead to Him alone and set up no other partners or mediators with Him. We seek His help alone directly from Him, or through the means He has put at our disposal. We do all this in the full knowledge that it is He, the Almighty, Who grants all benefits. Our absolute love is for Him only and it is this love which motivates us to be completely obedient to Him, and our fear of Him that stops us from committing acts which would cause His displeasure. We glorify Him from the bottom of our hearts and reflect our devotion to Him in our speech and actions, because satisfying Him is our most cherished desire. Hence our prayers and worship are not directed to anything whatsoever that belongs to this world.
Scientific Enquiry: God has given us the power of intellect and has ordered us to think and reflect on the secrets of the universe, with its unique laws and traditions. These have been laid down by Him so that we may behave in accordance with His wishes. Therefore the study of the natural sciences and the discovery of the secrets of the universe are acts of worship, provided such knowledge serves to strengthen our faith and should, in fact, make us more devout. We should use this knowledge for causes that are both beneficial to mankind and acceptable to our Lord, and not exploit it in order to cause disaster and destruction in the world.
Doubt Removed: Many people ask, "Why is it that someone who doesn't believe in God, but performs acts which help mankind, such as charity, building homes for the poor, establishing medical and educational institutions, etc, will not, according to what you believe, receive any reward in the next world?". The answer is that God will certainly not disregard the labour of any human being, and He will not deny the reward due to a doer of good deeds. Indeed, He will respond to his requests. Is there a better way of expressing one's gratitude to a person who has done something good for him? If the doer of a good deed believes in God and the life hereafter, and seeks the reward of the next world. God will grant him his reward. However, if the person is only interested in worldly achievements, he will be rewarded accordingly. Why should you concern yourself about his reward if he himself does not seek the reward in the next life?
Fruitless Arguments: Some issues concerning the Divine Attributes and the existence of God have led to too many long-winded debates and discussions, filling volumes of theological works. Questions such as whether God's knowledge belongs to Him, or whether He acquired it, whether characteristics such as knowledge, ability, power, etc., are inborn in Him, and whether these characteristics differ from His other characteristics, such as the power to create, grant, employ and so on, lead to unnecessary tension, like the question regarding the Holy Qur’an and whether it was eternal or created. Likewise issues regarding the difference between 'good' and ‘the best', fate, destiny, man's willpower, etc. are equally fruitless. The right approach to all these issues is to refuse to delve into them and discuss them. Such issues are, to use a legal term, ‘Rejected Cases’, for the following reasons:
1) Our predecessors, who were the best of Muslims and among whom were the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the companions of the companions, did not analyze these points, as their faith was sounder and purer than ours, and, as stated before, they set models for us to follow.
2) Anyone making a careful study of the views of the various factions will find there is a unified undercurrent based on the parity between God the Almighty and mankind. All these factions seek to apply human logic and psychology to the Almighty. But this is wrong as there is no comparison between God and a human being. In fact, nothing can be compared to God the Almighty.
3) All the aforementioned issues and questions belong to the realm of metaphysics, in other words, the world of the unseen. As we mentioned earlier that, our power of intellect is limited to the material world and cannot therefore consider issues which are beyond it. Approaching these issues, I would like to put forward a new approach, which is nearer the truth and more beneficial to us. We should give up arguing about the attributes of God and turn our attention to actions which will please Him and He will consequently reward us. So instead of indulging in futile discussions such as those previously mentioned, let us attend to our duty to keep to the path He ordained so that He may learn about us in a way which is acceptable to Him.
This is the truth of the matter, and anyone who argues about God's attributes is like a class of students who are told that the ministry of education has committed a high level committee to conduct their examinations. The sensible students will make sure they prepare themselves thoroughly and do not miss out any of the syllabus. The foolish students, on the other hand, will start asking questions about whether the committee will approach the examinations collectively or on an individual basis, whether the committee consists of an odd or even number of members, whether they will come by air or by road, etc. They will continue to argue in this way so that on the day of the examinations they will be completely unprepared. Indeed God will not ask us on the Day of Judgement about what viewpoints scholars put forward, or about those arguments that filled so many volumes. If such matters were important, the Prophet of God (peace be upon him), would have discussed them himself. So why not turn our attention away from such issues which are the result of ancient Greek philosophy, about which most formulations have been proved false, and arguments in their favour have not stood the test of time. Creating a new philosophy just as misleading as the earlier philosophy of metaphysical thought has caused yet more chaos and confusion. Why not keep the Book of God before us, using it as our guiding force and accepting what it says regarding the Unseen, and leave the rest to Him.