A Book; for the People of Any Faith, Culture or Race
FAITH: PRAGMATIC WAY
Doubt, Presumption, Knowledge:
PRINCIPLES FOR STRONG FAITH
1st The Sense Perceptions:
2nd Reliable Report:
2nd Reliable Report:
3rd Number of Senses Not Fixed:
4th Imagination Limited By Senses:
5th Finite Cannot Grasp Infinite;
6TH Faith Is Inborn:
7TH The Inadequacy of Language:
8TH Existence Of Hereafter:
9TH Divine Justice Demands ‘Hereafter’:
RELIGIONS AND SCIENTIFIC REASONING:
- Science Reveals Realties Unknown Before:
- Belief in Metaphysics (Unseen):
- Bertrand Russell on Forms of Knowledge:
- Argument from Design:
- Existence of a Designer from Design:
- Religion: A Divine, Not Social Phenomenon
Faith: Pragmatic Way
“There shall be no coercion in the matters of Faith. Distinct has now become the right way form error:” (Qur’an;2:256)“He throws filth (of disbelief) on those who do not use their reason”.(Qur’an;10:100)
It is a common observation that generally people do not take much interest in the religious studies; which may also be attributed to their wavering faith. Imagine if majority of people in the society firmly have faith in One God, the accountability, reward and punishment on the Day of Judgement, this world would have been in state of ‘peace’ not turmoil. The faith is not fixed in its character, it may increase or decrease: “..they were youths who believed in their Lord and We advanced them in guidance:”(Qur’an;18:13). The foundation of faith (Iman) is the belief in One God which characterized by three main aspects, firstly; God is the Cherisher and the creator of the Universe and all that it holds; Secondly God alone is the Master of this world and He alone can make modifications in it as He wishes. Thirdly God alone is worthy of worship, He has no associates and there is no one besides him to be worshipped. Before making an effort to understand this and other fundamentals of faith, it is imperative comprehend the circumstances which influence the genesis of these fundamentals which are responsible for their arrangement and anthology. This could be stated as the ‘Principles of Belief’ or; ‘The Principles for Conceptualization of Faith’. Nine such principles have been identified by renowned scholar Shaikh Ali Al-Tantawi. Before explaining these principles, it is appropriate to understand the basic terminologies like: ‘Doubt’, ‘Presumption’ and ‘Knowledge’.
Descartes; the renowned French philosopher and mathematician, and, before him. Imam Ghazali in his book "Savior from Misguidance" both chose ‘DOUBT’ as a point of departure for their inquiry into certainty. In fact, Descartes: used ‘Doubt’ as a means to reach certainty. So what do we mean by ‘Doubt’? If someone were to ask you while you were staying in the centre of a city, that whether it was raining in the suburbs? You would be unable to reply, even though the suburbs may be re only few Kilometers away. You would have no definite evidence one way or the other. And this is the case with the ‘concept of doubt’. You can make a guess, but you cannot be 100% sure.
However, if you were to look into the distance and see some clouds you might be inclined to say: "It looks as if it is raining in the suburbs." This means that it's very likely that it is raining, and this possibility regarding the existence of something, is known as 'Presumption'. Should you take a further look and notice that the rain clouds are quite thick and heavy, and also see a flash of lightning, your presumption regarding the possibility of rain increases and your response to the original question will be more positive. At this point you might well reply: "I’m inclined to think it's raining in the suburbs now."
But if you were to go into the suburbs and actually see the rain falling, your presumption would become a certainty. And this is what scholars term as "Knowledge’. If we examine the various meanings of the word ‘knowledge' we see that firstly we have 'absolute knowledge' as opposed to ignorance. Knowledge also embraces science in contrast to the arts and philosophy. For example, physics and chemistry are both sciences whereas art and poetry belong to the domain of the arts. In the context of science where the ultimate goal of knowledge is to seek the truth, the intellect is used as a tool to achieve this aim. The methods adopted are 'inquiry’, 'experiment' and "deduction’. In the case of the arts, it is concerned with the appreciation of beauty. Its means are perception and consciousness while a good taste is instrumental to success in it. Definition of Faith needs no proof. We intend to discuss that knowledge which in contrast o doubt and presumption stands for certainty and positiveness. This knowledge is of two kinds:
It is the Knowledge gained through the senses and observations need no proof. For example there is a mountain before you which does not need any proof. You see it there and it exists. Every san person who sees it will admit of its existence. Its presence is the proof of its existence. This knowledge is called essential or axiomatic knowledge.
It is that knowledge which requires proof. For example the formula that the sum of squares of base and height o a right angled triangle is equal to the square of its hypotenuse; is something which requires proof. Any scholar or a student who finds the proof of that will know the fact and will admit it. But an ignorant illiterate person will not know it and will not accept it until he is given vivid proof of that even though the triangle along with squares on its sides are placed before his yes. This knowledge is known as ‘Theoretical Knowledge’ that is the knowledge which cannot be acquired without proof.
Self Evident Truth and Creed:
Some theoretical knowledge needs proof because it cannot be perceived merely by logic and observation. Nevertheless, it is common and popular knowledge of which everyone, regardless of age or education, is aware. Such knowledge almost falls into the category of essential knowledge. For example: "A part is smaller than the whole" is a theoretical statement, but, although the category of theoretical knowledge basically needs to be proved, you will hardly find anyone who doubts this statement or needs evidence of it. Even a child will accept it. If you were, for example, to take a bar of chocolate from a child and give him back just a small piece, telling him that the piece you have returned is bigger than the bar of chocolate, he would not be convinced and would not accept it. This is because it is self-evident that any part of any thing is smaller than its whole.
The statement regarding identity-that is, that everything has an identity of its own, is also a self evident truth. If someone were to ask you to prove that the pen you were holding was not a teaspoon, you would respond by saying: "That's quite obvious and doesn't need any proof!" So these self evident truths are obvious facts which everyone acknowledges - facts that do not need proof. And when a self evident truth enters the inner consciousness and establishes itself there, it creates an impact on intuition and all aspects of behaviour - and is known as faith. Belief in it is known as Faith(Iman).However, we all know that although people often believe in truth, more often than not they believe in ‘untrue’ ideologies. Nowadays there are many breakaway groups with misleading principles not based on truth, and these groups have attracted a lot of ardent followers who sacrifice all they have for the sake; of these groups. Such people cannot be regarded as believers; in the absolute meaning of the word. God says in the Holy Qur’an: Art thou not aware of those who, having been granted their share of the Divine Writ, (now) believe in unfounded mysteries and in the powers of evil.(Qur’an;4:51); “And most of them do not even believe in God without (also) ascribing divine powers to other beings beside Him (Qur’an;12:106). Hence now we can endeavor to follow the pragmatic approach to develop strong faith.
PRINCIPLES FOR DEVELOPING STRONG FAITH
1st PRINCIPLE; THE SENSE PERCEPTIONS:
We have no doubts about anything that we can perceive through our senses we all accept this fundamental truth. However, if I walk through the desert at noon and see a lake in the distance, but only find sand when I reach that spot, what appeared to be a lake turned out to be mirage. Likewise if I put a pencil in a glass of water it will look as if it is broken, though in actual fact it is not, You might go to a party where, as it gets late, you start talking about the supernatural - ghosts, etc, and get so carried away that you feel as if a ghost or demon is following you, whereas in reality there is nothing there. It's rather like a conjuring trick. A magician will produce strange objects which seem to be real, even though they are not. So our senses can delude and deceive us. But does this mean that I should doubt the existence of something I can feel? Quite the reverse because if I doubt what I see, hear and feel, there will be a conflict between fact and fantasy that will eventually drive me crazy. But I would like to add another condition here about obtaining knowledge - meaning 'certainty regarding the existence of what I sense'. The mind may misjudge something the first time it perceives it. For example, it may think a mirage is a lake, but the second time it sees it will not make the mistake. Similarly it will soon realize that even though the pencil on the glass of water looks as if it is broken, in fact it is not. The various ways in which the senses delude us are limited and easy to recognize. This includes the tricks that Pharaoh's magicians used to perform in the past, and the circus tricks we enjoy in this day and age.
2nd PRINCIPLE; RELIABLE REPORT:
It states; ‘Certainty about past and present events received through a reliable source is as reliable as the certainty we would have had if we had been present’. There are certain facts about which we are sure, even though we may not have direct experience of them. For example, we all know that India and Brazil are countries that exist though we may not have visited them. We also know for a fact that Alexander the Great conquered Persia, even though we did not witness the battles in which he fought. In fact, if we all looked inward, we would soon realize that the number of facts about which we are sure even though we cannot perceive or experience them directly, far surpass those we have actually experienced, such as countries we have not visited and events, both past and present, that we have not witnessed directly. What evidence, then, do we have of their existence? Of course we draw certain conclusions from what we have always been told throughout history and our own lives. It would be absurd to think that each generation has fabricated events and ideas to pass on to the next.
The Second Principle therefore is that; just as we get conviction and belief through perception and observation, so do we get it through the report of a person whom we believe to honest and truthful.
3rd PRINCIPLE; NUMBER OF SENSES NOT FIXED:
How much knowledge can we perceive through our senses? Can our senses comprehend everything that exists? We can compare the human mind in relation to the senses as follows. Imagine that if orders have been given to lock up us up in an enclosed tower. All the windows and doors are shut, so that all we can see of the outside world is through cracks in the wall. If we peep through one crack facing east, we can see a river, looking west through another crevice, we can see a mountain. In a northerly direction we can see a large mansion, and south a playground. The human mind is the prisoner and the body the tower, with the cracks representing the senses. The sense of sight sees colors, the sense of hearing picks up sounds, the sense of taste awakens our appetite for food, the sense of smell introduces us to the world of fragrances, and the sense of touch makes us aware of physical bodies and objects. At this point we can ask certain questions:
1) Can each sense perceive everything that exists in this universe? Does the river a prisoner sees through a crack in the tower wall represent the entire river? Of course not, the prisoner only sees a part of it. Similarly the sense of sight cannot perceive the whole spectrum of colour. The fact that I cannot see an ant (insect) crawling three miles away from where I am does not rule out its existence. In the same way we are unable to see all the tiny bacteria in a glass of water. Neither are we able to observe the electrons revolving in an atom, or the planets in their orbits, with the naked eye. The vibrations of an ant's voice are outside the range of our auditory sense, which is from five to twenty thousand cycles per second, hence; whatever is less than five vibrations or beyond twenty thousand vibrations per second is outside our hearing range. Nor can we pick up the scent of sugar that attracts ants and flies. All this proves that we are only able to perceive a part of what is around us.
2) Is it not possible that another world exists between the world of colour and sound, which we are unable to observe because we are not equipped with the particular sense of Perception? The prisoner in the tower may not have actually been able to see a beautiful garden between the river and the mountain, but this does not rule out its existence. Again we have the example of someone who is born blind and is only able to learn by what he is told that the sea is blue and the grass is green. Yet physically he is unable to see the manifestation of these colours. In the same way, someone who is deaf, though he may learn about musical notes, he cannot actually hear them. But this does not mean that a blind or deaf person denies the existence of colour or sound. The room where you are sitting may seem to be free of all sound though, in actual fact, it contains all the sounds that are being broadcast in the air from various radio stations, satellite TV station and mobile telephone sets and transmitters. You are only unable to hear them because they are outside the range of your sense of hearing. They are vibrations which can only be picked up by the receiver of a radio, TV or mobile telephone set. More over there are many other things going on in the atmosphere that humans are unable to perceive. For example, we cannot pick up the slight variations in atmospheric pressure though a barometer can do this. Likewise, a radar sensor can pick up mild tremors we cannot feel. So, there are many things which exist outside the range of our senses, but not perceiving them does not mean denying their presence.
3) The next question we need to look at is whether our senses are all pervading and complete? Until recently it was thought that we only had five senses. Now a few more have been discovered, and it seems there can be more. Therefore, anything that can be increased can be described as being incomplete. I may do things which I do not perceive, but am aware of For example, if I shut my eyes and open or close my hand I am aware that it is open or closed without actually seeing it. And do we perceive our moods of happiness or unhappiness, weakness or sickness through our five senses? Of course not. We perceive them with an inner sense. Similarly, I do not sway from left to right when I am walking because an inner sense infuses me with a sense of balance. The same goes for a cyclist or a trapeze artist who performs amazing balancing acts. This means that there must be an eighth sense - the sense of balance. And it has been discovered that God created this sense in the form of liquid matter in the inner ear. Experiments carried out on rabbits show the rabbit lose their balance if this liquid is removed, and totter around as if they were drunk.
This Third Principle is that we have no right to refuse the existence of certain things which are not perceptible thorough senses.
4th PRINCIPLE;IMAGINATION LIMITED BY SENSES:
The human imagination can only perceive that which the senses are able to perceive. We have already discussed the limitations of our senses: we cannot see every visible object with our eyes, etc. But God has granted us with the power of imagination to serve as a supplementary tool. For example, I cannot actually see my home in London if I am in New York - though I can picture it in my mind's eye. The power of imagination therefore complements our sense of perception. But is this power limited - or is it fathomless? Can I imagine something I haven't actually seen?
Psychologists classify imagination in two categories:-
1) Imagination based on reality and creative imagination. The example of imagining my house in London when I am in New York illustrates the former.
2) The latter is the fertile ground poets, writers, painters and other artists use to create from. Look at what they have achieved. Have they produced anything not based on reality? For example, did the sculptor who sculptor who sculpted the statue of Venus depict someone in real life? No-he did not however; it is not a totally new image but a synthesis of several images. We can trace the end result back to various sources and say that the sculptor used the best physical features from different women to produce his art form; the nose and mouth represent the perfect female form in real life and so on. As a result the end product though 'new' represents different parts already in existence.
In the case of the ‘Winged Assyrian Bull’, found in a museum in Paris, the sculptor created a patchwork of a human face and the body of a bull to which he attached the wings of a bird. Again, the result is a new kind of image compiled of existing forms. Poets illustrate their mental images through the use of metaphors, similes, metonyms and, sometimes, deliberate exaggeration. Various strands of their imagination come together to form the poetry they produce. If we were to delve more deeply into such fantasies; however, we would find they have their limitations and that it is not possible to piece together components which are mutually incompatible. For example, we cannot say that a song smells like a rose or that the fragrance of a perfume is red. If you visualize such illustrations you will not be able to relate the image to anything concrete which is already in existence.
We are only able to see three dimensions with our eyes namely, length, breadth and height. We cannot imagine circle without a circumference any more than we can imagine triangle without angles. So how can we possibly imagine the 'OTHER WORLD' and everything that is to be found in it?
It is different from ours, and comparing it with this world is like comparing this world to a mother's womb. If we were able to make contact with a fetus and ask it about its idea of what our world is like, he or she would reply "The universe is the membrane and darkness which surround me." Even if the fetus were able to understand our description of the sun and the moon, day and night, land and sea, beautiful gardens and fields, etc, he or she would not be able to imagine them. This is why Ibn Abbas, one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon) him, said "Things of this world have no similarity to those in the next - except in name". This means that the wine and women in the next world will be different from the wine and women in this world. Likewise, the fire of hell will not be like the fire we know, and the 'straight path will not resemble the bridges that span across rivers and valley in this world.
The fourth Principle, therefore, is that the human imagination is unable to encompass things which are beyond the reach of human senses.
5th PRINCIPLE; FINITE CANNOT GRASP INFINITE;
Even though the eye observes that a pencil in a glass of water looks as if it is broken, the mind is not deluded; in the same way that it realizes the mirage in the desert is nothing but sand. When we see a magician take handkerchief out of his mouth and twenty rabbits from his sleeve, our mind being more accurate than our sight, alerts us to the fact that it is a trick. Does this mean that the mind can rule over matters that fall beyond its scope?
The mind rejects anything that does not fall within the framework of time and space. If a history teacher were to tell you 'that a war between the Arabs and the Persians took place neither before nor after the advent of Islam-yet it still took place, your mind would reject this statement as being completely contradictory. Or if a geography teacher told you that a country existed but was not situated on land or sea, or in the earth or the sky, your mind would take this as a contradiction in terms. So we can see that the faculties of the human mind are finite and refuse to accept anything infinite, which is outside the scope of time and space. Therefore issues concerning the problems of the soul, destiny, (metaphysical) signs of God and His attributes are all beyond the scope of the mind. If we look at the concept of immortality for example, a believer is sure in his mind that immortality is an unshakable truth which has been conveyed to mankind through the divine message. But it is not possible to fit that concept into a framework of time and if we try to do that, we will fail and give up. In fact we may visualize a millennium of centuries, millions, trillions -- but then what? Our minds get tired because they fail to reach a final point. And if they claim to have reached such a point it will contradict the very meaning of immortality. The famous German philosopher Kant published a well-known work "CONTRADICTIONS", in which he said that the human mind can only judge the physical world. But Muslim scholars had proved that before Kant's time and had, on the basis of mathematical theories, proved the falsity of vicious circle. Their simple evidence is evident form this example.
If you draw two straight (not parallel) lines from point “P” (as shown in the diagram) as two rays coming from point “P”, in such a way that the distance between these two lines increases gradually stretched to infinity.
Then you connect these two lines at equal distances: AB, CD, EF … and so on till infinity. Will the last line (shown in ‘grey’ color) connecting the two infinite ends be considered to be the finite or infinite? If you say it is finite, it will be argued that it not correct as it is between two unending (infinite) points. If you say that it is infinite, people will reply that this cannot be so, as it is between two finite points. Therefore, it is a contradiction in terms. It is clear that the human mind goes off balance when it tries to dominate the unlimited or infinite; it becomes the victim of impossible contradictions when it delves deeply into anything which is unlimited. The human mind, therefore, cannot go deeply into the realm of metaphysics, as proved by Kant and stated by Muslin scholars earlier. And we can refer to this theme in the works of Islamic scholars, such as al-Ghazali in his books on Scholastic Theology.
6TH PRINCIPLE;FAITH IS INBORN:
All human beings, believers and non-believers alike feel worried and anxious in the face of a serious crisis in their life. At such times they find no consolation in their material surroundings and seek solace and comfort in a power beyond the material world, a power that filters through every aspect of our existence, bodies and souls. Examples of such crises are illness, the stress of taking important examinations and so on. Why then do people turn to God at such times? It is a common observation that during wars, how people cling to religion: everyone, from heads of governments to military generals, it seemed, became devout worshippers of God and impressed their subordinates to do the same. A story related by a young paratrooper is revealing: The young man had been born and brought up in a household where there was no mention of God and his family did not pray. He was educated in secular schools where religion was not included in the syllabus and so he grew up rather like a ‘human animal’, eating, sleeping and enjoying himself. But when he found himself descending from a great height and having almost landed before his parachute started to open, he found himself praying involuntarily, and from the bottom of his heart. The words "Oh Lord -Oh creator!" came to his lips instinctively. He was completely overwhelmed and could not explain how he had suddenly acquired this faith.
Stalin's daughter describes in her memoirs as to how she fumed to religion after many years of living forgetful of God. She marvels at this - but there is no reason to be in wonder, because faith in the existence of God is something which is inborn in every individual. It is a natural instinct and an urge-rather like the sexual drive. So it would not be wrong to state that; HUMAN IS AN ANIMAL WITH A RELIGION. This instinct may be overrun by physical desires, passion, ambition and craving for material comfort. However, when overcome by fear, danger or other crises, it rejects these desires and appears in its true and natural form. This is why we describe a non-believer as a kafir, which literally means 'one who hides'.
It is surprising to find the same concept by two eminent figures from backgrounds which were entirely different in very way, including the time and place they lived, their circumstances and the purpose for which they expressed this idea, One of them was the Muslim, Rabia al Adawiya, known for her piety, and the other was the famous French writer, Anatole France. While discussing his disbelief an abandonment of faith, Anatole France declared “A person becomes a believer when he learns, as a result of a urine test that he has diabetes”. On the other hand, Rabia al Adawiya replied in answer to a statement made by someone who claimed he had found a thousand proofs of God's existence, "One proof is enough". When asked what that proof was, she responded If you were walking alone in the desert and happened to fall in to a well from which you were unable to get out - what would you do?" The answer was "I'd call out - Oh God!". "Then that’s your proof!" she declared. Faith in God exists in the core of every human being. We Muslims know this fact, because God has informed us that (Iman) is a natural characteristic that He has created in each human being.
In Europe recently many people have seriously addressed the question of faith and have recognized its value. Professor Durkheim (1852-1917), the famous Jewish French sociologist who had, like Freud, a negative influence on some minds for some time, has written a book to his credit, where he states that; Faith in the existence of God is a self-evident truth. No one can go through life without at some time reflecting on the existence of a Lord of this universe. But man, due to his short sightedness, may not find his way to God. He therefore worships certain objects which he imagines to be God, or that he thinks will help take him near to Him. And yet when faced with a major crisis man returns to God and gives up all objects of worship. The polytheists of the Quraysh tribe worshipped various idols, known as Hubal, Lat and Uzza. They were simple stones or statues. Hubal was made of cornelian, a semi-precious red stone transported from the Syrian spa of Himmah. They described the statue as a great almighty god. It was transported on the back of a camel and en route fell off and its hand was smashed. This hand was replaced by a gold hand. But how the hand of God get broken! However, even after that incident, they continued to worship the statue. But even enough they worshipped it, in times of peace, this was not the "case when they were at sea, and the sea became rough and danger was imminent. At the times of turmoil and danger, they did not call out ‘’Hubal!" but they called out to Allah. Even today during times of disaster and accidents you will notice that proud adversaries of God return to the fold of religion. Why is this? Simply because Iman is a natural instinct, and that, as we have already seen, leaves us with the most precise definition of man: "AN ANIMAL WITH A RELIGION'.
Do you imagine that materialists, such as Karl Marx and Lenin, called out to production and manufacturing industries -those ideologies they had worshipped as God, when they were on their death beds? Or did they call out to God? You can be sure they prayed to God when drawing their last breath. Pharaoh, who posed as being high and mighty, used to declare; “I am your supreme lord” But when he was about to drowned he said "I have believed in what the children of Israel have believed". The sentiment of love expressed by lovers is yet further evidence of Iman being an inborn characteristic of man. Love is a micro-projection of Iman; it is a kind of worship, In fact, when so many of the French turned away from religion they used the word 'WORSHIP' to mean 'LOVE'. Arabs influenced by European ideas started to imitate them using phrases such as ‘’He loved and worshipped her" and "He loved her so much that he began worshipping her". You will find such expressions in Arabic and Urdu short stories and novels. But this was only because worship is the natural manifestation of belief in God, and because there is a degree of similarity between love and faith. A lover obeys his beloved's wishes and desires. And this is exactly the same relationship as the one a believer has with God. A lover is never bothered if everyone around him is angry, as long as he is able to please the one he or she loves. That too is the case between a believer and God. What's more a lover fears the loved one to the extent of not wishing to make him or her angry, and has nothing but praise for whatever the beloved says or does. This is just the same way that a believer accepts what God has ordained. So we can see that love passionate love, is a testimony to the fact that faith is inborn.
7TH PRINCIPLE: THE INADEQUACY OF LANGUAGE:
The above statement does not purport to equate the love of God with the sentiments of passionate love between human beings. We simply need to take into account that a person in a passionate relationship obeys the beloved and is afraid of him or her, and admires and praises whatever the loved one does being able to endure other people's anger in order to please the loved one. But he does this because it fulfills a desire. In fact, we express our love for our own self through the love we have for our lover. We can look at the example of one of the most famous lovers in Arabic history, also part of Urdu literature, Laila. Let us imagine that she was afflicted with leprosy and that the disease had disfigured her face. Would her lover Quais have approached and made advances to seeing her in this state? He wouldn't even have given her a second glance - and would have abandoned her. This is the difference between love of mortals and love of God.
Although the two forms are entirely different from each other, the same word is used to denote both because the human language lacks a better expression, with a wider scope and range -of meaning, which would include the spiritual aspects of love. We use the same word 'love' to denote a variety of meanings from love of the countryside and history to love of rice and curry! A father loves his son. Prince Charming loves Cinderella and the believer loves God. Each one of these loves differs from the other. With regard to this concept of ‘inadequacy of language (words)’ we should also include the word ‘beauty', which is used to denote so many meanings. The same applies to the words 'hearer’ and ‘seer’ with reference to God being the Hearer and Seer and a human being a hearer and seer. Referring to a human being, we mean that that person is neither deaf nor blind. But Divine ‘Seeing’ and ‘Hearing’ is not like that of mortals, because God is unlike anything in creation. Likewise, nothing in creation is similar to Him. All the Divine attributes given in Qur’an come under this heading. Allah says: “This in nothing whatever like unto Him” (Qur’an;42:11). They are not to be compared with the faculties of mortals.
8TH PRINCIPLE;EXISTENCE OF HEREAFTER (METAPHYSICS):
Man recognizes intuitively that the material world is not every thing. There is a spiritual world beyond that, the nature of which we do not know. Man is only able to catch glimpses of the unseen world when he realizes that material pleasures are limited and, after a certain point, they lose their attraction and become a source of boredom and monotony. When a poor man sees the material possessions of a rich man, he feels that the wealthy man has achieved the ultimate in life. However, when the poor man succeeds in acquiring such possessions he loses interest in them. Likewise, a lover who longs to meet his girlfriend, and spends sleepless nights dreaming about being with her believing that all the pleasures of life will be encompassed by his love, is disappointed when he finally marries the girl. The feeling of ecstasy disappears, and within two years the whole affair may be a thing of the past. Another example is of a man who falls ill and gets very depressed, imagining that all the pleasures of life depend on his recovery to health. But once he is well he not only forgets those unhappy days, but he takes his health for granted too. And how about the young artist who seeks fame and popularity, and is overwhelmed with joy when he hears his name being broadcast, or sees his picture in a paper. Yet once he is recognized and established, the attraction for fame loses its charm and becomes part of his everyday life. By the same token we may be moved by a romantic song, which brings up intense feelings of love, stirring our hearts and kindling the fire of our imagination, sending us into raptures. A well written story can have the same effect, carrying us away from reality into a world of fantasy, full of poetry and romance; but at the end of the story we are jolted back to reality, with a sense of longing. We yearn to return to that fantasy world in vain.
During moments of contemplation our souls may rise to sublime heights, where this material world appears trivial and unworthy. The joy of this experience will far surpass the Joy of a starving person finding food, the lover meeting his loved one or the pleasure and satisfaction a poor man when he finally acquires wealth and influence. [Famous Urdu poet Faiz, had to say: mujh sey pehli si muhabbat meray mehboob no maang (O my beloved, don not ask for the love as I extended in the past)]. This self is always eager to rise to sublime heights, to an unknown world, the identity of which can only be acquired. Through the few glimpses we catch of it, as mentioned previously. But it is through such experiences that man realizes how trivial and limited material pleasures are, compared with spiritual pleasures. As a consequence, he becomes convinced, intuitively rather than intellectually, that this material life is not the ultimate goal and that there is beyond doubt another world beyond this. This is the world which our souls yearn for and try to reach, but the human body becomes an obstacle and hampers its efforts. This subjective and psychological perception and intellect are the proofs of the existence of another world called HEREAFTER.
9TH PRINCIPLE; DIVINE JUSTICE DEMANDS ‘HEREAFTER’:
Faith (Belief) in another world (Hereafter) is a natural consequence to the, belief in the existence of God. The above statement can be further explained by stating that the Lord of this universe is fair, and that anyone who is just will not allow for injustice. He will not let the oppressive person go unpunished, nor will he deny justice to anyone who has suffered unfairly. We find many people in this world who live and die as oppressors without ever being punished (people like Hitler, who killed millions). We can also see people who are victim of unfair treatment throughout their lives. But how can this happen if God exists and is just? It only proves that there is a life after this worldly life where the doer of evil will be punished and the doer of good rewarded. The story does not finish with the end of this world. If a movie is shown on TV and in the middle it is stopped abruptly, with the viewers being told that the movie has ended at that point, they would most certainly complain and want to know what was going on. "What happened to the hero?’’ ‘’What happened to the rest of the movie?" These and like are some of the questions they would ask. These questions would crop up because they would expect the script writer to give a full account of the story. But if this is how people would react to a story on the life in this world. Can any intelligent person accept the statement that life ends with death? How could it be possible? It therefore becomes clear to the human mind that; there must be a Lord of this universe and a life hereafter. That unknown world that we catch glimpses of when we hear romantic music or read a moving story, or experience in moments of intuition, is not 'The World of Ideas' as depicted by Plato [Idealism; The theory that the object of external perception, in itself or as perceived, consists of ideas]. It is a world created by the Lord of all creation; a world offering everlasting pleasures and not the ephemeral pleasure of this world which are but a mere flavor of what is to come. And what's more, we will never get used to these eternal pleasures. They will never lose their beauty and become ordinary - as is the case with the pleasure of this world.
These principles of conceptualization of faith can be summarized as follows:-
1. The Sense Perceptions: We have no doubts about anything that we can perceive through our senses we all accept this fundamental truth.
2. Reliable Report: Certainty about past and present events received through a reliable source is as reliable as the certainty we would have had if we had been present.
3. Number of Senses Not Fixed: We have no right o refuse the existence of certain things which are not perceptible thorough senses.
4. Imagination Limited by Senses: The human imagination is unable to encompass things which are beyond the reach of human senses.
5. Finite Cannot Grasp Infinite: The human mind, therefore, cannot go deeply into the realm of metaphysics. The human mind goes off balance when it tries to dominate the unlimited or infinite; it becomes the victim of impossible contradictions when it delves deeply into anything which is unlimited.
6. Faith Is Inborn: Faith in the existence of God is something which is inborn in every individual. It is a natural instinct and an urge-rather like the sexual drive. So we can say that man is an animal with a religion. This instinct may be overrun by physical desires, passion, ambition and craving for material comfort. However, when overcome by fear, danger or other crises, it rejects these desires and appears in its true and natural form.
7. The Inadequacy of Language: The human language lacks a better expression, with a wider scope and range of meaning, which would include the spiritual aspects of love pf God and His attributes, for which normal words do not express the actual meanings.
8. Existence of Hereafter (Metaphysics): The human self is always eager to rise to sublime heights, to an unknown world, the identity of which can only be acquired. Man becomes convinced, intuitively rather than intellectually, that this material life is not the ultimate goal and that there is beyond doubt another world beyond this. This subjective and psychological perception and intellect are the proofs of the existence of another world called Hereafter.
9. Divine Justice Demands Hereafter: The Lord of this universe is fair, and that anyone who is just will not allow for injustice. He will not let the oppressive person go unpunished, nor will he deny justice to anyone who has suffered unfairly in this world. Faith (Belief) in another world (Hereafter) is a natural consequence to the, belief in the existence of God.
These principles would help to create firmness in faith through pragmatic conviction.
[Source: “Ta’rif Am bi-Din il-Islam” by Shaikh Ali Al-Tantawi]
RELIGIONS AND SCIENTIFIC REASONING:
Science Progressively Reveals Realties Unknown Before:
Many people are under the impression that religious truths cannot be proved scientifically. But inferring truths from things, as religion does, is the very reasoning which scientists employ in their everyday deductions. In ancient times water was just water. Then, in the 19th century, the microscope was invented. When water was looked at under a microscope, it was discovered that water was not just water; it also contained countless live bacteria. In the same way man used to think that there were no more stars in the sky than those which can be seen with the naked eye. But in modem times the sky has been examined with telescopes and many more stars than can be seen with the naked eye have been discovered.
These two examples show the difference between ancient and modem times. Modern research has shown with certainty that there are many more realities than man had previously thought when he was limited to the sphere of simple observation. But these new discoveries so excited those who were making them that they made another claim: that reality is that which can be directly observed; that which we can not experience or observe is mere hypothesis, and does not exist.
Belief in Metaphysics (Unseen):
In the nineteenth century this claim was made with great enthusiasm. It was most damaging to religion. Religious creeds are based on belief in the unseen; they cannot be directly observed or experienced. For this reason many people came to think of religion as hypothetical and unreal. Twentieth century research has completely changed this state of affairs. Advanced study has shown that there is more to life than meets the eye: all the great realities of life lie beyond our comprehension.
Bertrand Russell on Forms of Knowledge:
According to Bertrand Russell there are two forms of knowledge: “Knowledge of Things” and “Knowledge of Truths”. Only “Things” can be directly observed: "Truths" can only be understood by indirect observation, or, in other words, inference. The existence of light, gravity, magnetism and nuclear energy in the universe is an undisputed fact, but man cannot directly observe these things. He knows them only by their effects. Man discovers certain "Things" from which he infers the existence of "Truths".
This change in the concept of knowledge which occurred in the twentieth century changed the whole situation radically. Man was forced to accept the existence of things which he could not directly see, but only indirectly experience. With this intellectual revolution the difference between seen and unseen - reality disappeared. Invisible objects became as important as visible objects. Man was compelled to accept that the indirect, or inferential argument, was academically as sound as direct argument.
Argument from Design:
This change in the concept of knowledge has, in the present age, made divine reasoning truly scientific. For instance, the greatest argument for religion is what philosophers call the argument from design. Nineteenth century scholars, in their zeal, did not accept this reasoning. To them it was an inferential argument which could not be accepted academically. But in the present age this objection has been invalidated. Nowadays man is compelled to infer the existence of a designer of the universe from the existence of a design in the universe, just as he accepts the theory of the flow of electrons from the movement of a wheel.
A statement of Bertrand Russell throws some light on this matter. In the preface to his book; “Why I Am Not a Christian” he writes: “I think all the great religions of the world-Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Communism both untrue and harmful. It is evident as a matter of logic that, since they disagree, not more than one of them can be true. With very few exceptions, the religion which a man accepts is that of the community in which he lives, which makes it obvious that the influence of environment is what has led him to accept the religion in question. It is true that Scholastics [Adhering rigidly to scholarly methods; pedantic, Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and formal rules] invented what professed to be logical arguments proving the existence of God, and that these arguments, or others of a similar tenor, have been accepted by many eminent philosophers, but the logic to which these traditional arguments appealed is of an antiquated Aristotelian sort which is now rejected by practically all logicians except such as are Catholics. There is one argument that is purely logical. I mean the argument from ‘Design’. This argument, however, was destroyed by Darwin; and in any case, could only be made logically acceptable at the cost of abandoning God's omnipotence [Having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-powerful.]."
Existence of a Designer from Design:
Arguing the existence of a Designer from Design is, as Russell admits, a scientific argument in itself. It is the very argument which science uses to prove anything. Russell then rejects this argument by citing Darwin's theory of evolution. This rejection would only be (considered) acceptable if Darwin's theory was itself scientifically established. But scientific research has proved Darwinism to be mere hypothesis, rather than established scientific fact. [Even if hypothetically Darwin’s theory of evolution is accepted, the argument of Design is not negated, because the Evolution could be part of His Design of Creation]. Thus it is Russell's first statement, therefore, concerning the validity of the argument from Design that must prevail. His rejection of that argument on the basis of Darwinism is groundless.
Religion: A Divine - Not a Social Phenomenon
If nuclear energy is taken to be an American social phenomenon, it will be taken to mean the manufacture of lethal weapons which destroy life. One is bound, in that case, to be opposed to it. But if nuclear energy is taken to be a natural phenomenon, it will be considered on its own merit. It will not matter how America or any other military power uses it. In spite of being opposed to the atom bomb, one will continue to support atomic energy.
No one makes the mistake of thinking of nuclear energy as a social phenomenon of any nuclear power. But there are many who make this mistake in the study of religion. Religion is essentially divine truth. But anthropology usually treats it as a social phenomenon. For this reason, people have formed a mistaken concept of religion. Worst of all this method of study prevents students being able to distinguish between theory and practice.
Many people think of the practice of most of Muslim nations, for instance, as the true Islam. It is this method of study which has led people to write books like The Dagger of Islam and Militant Islam in recent years. The authors of these books saw that Muslims are habitually "daggers drawn" and militant in their demands. So, according to their concept of religion, they came to the conclusion that these were the features that made up Islam.
But if one thinks of religion as a truth revealed by God and preserved in the text of Qur’an and Hadith, then Islam ceases to be a social phenomenon and becomes an ideology. Now one begins to look at Islam in the light of Qur’an and Hadith instead of in the light of the practice of some Muslims.
If one wishes to understand Islam, one must look at it apart from the some ignorant non practicing Muslims. One must think of it as a divine belief, rather than as a social phenomenon. Only then can an accurate and fair picture of Islam be formed.
[Extracts of articles by Moulana Waheed-Uddin Khan].