By Raashid Sherif
A lot has been written on the contributions that Islam and the Muslims have made to the field of science. For instance, Wikipedia has the following: “According to most historians, the modern scientific method was first developed by Islamic scientists, pioneered by Ibn Al-Haytham, known to the west as “Alhazen”. Robert Briffault, in The Making of Humanity, asserts that the very existence of science, as it is understood in the modern sense, is rooted in the scientific thought and knowledge that emerged in Islamic civilizations during this time”. And it is no surprise that Muslims should be the pioneers in the field of science, as the Muslim scriptures are full of verses encouraging the study of nature and contemplating over the wonders of God’s creation. As a matter of fact, the Qur’an vehemently opposes an unscientific approach in any field, including religion. Hence we have the following: “And follow not that of which you have no knowledge. Verily the hearing, sight and heart will all be questioned about”[i]. And “(The trues servants of God are) Those who when are reminded of the Signs of their Lord, do not fall upon it as if they are deaf and blind”[ii].
However, the purpose of this booklet is not to prove that Islam patronized science, but to show that the converse is also true.
That is, science, by it’s very nature espouses and establishes Islam. In today’s world, this may sound awkward and perhaps even funny. That is since over the last couple of centuries, due to various factors, among them, the incompatibility of most religions with science, and a dereliction on the part of the Muslim scholars to rightly educate the masses, religion and science have drifted further and further apart.
Today, in the western society, it is common for a person to introduce himself as either a man of science or a man of faith. If he believes in religion, he considers it his duty to shut his eyes to science and what science stands for, and if he follows science, he sees religion as a bunch of baseless beliefs and superstitions. As a result, you find that the vast majority of people in the West can be classified into one of these two groups. However, the tragedy is that today, under the influence of the West, even Muslims have begun to think in this manner.
Therefore, our approach will be completely scientific and rational. In arriving at any conclusion, we will follow a scientific method and we will not accept any conclusion that we reach through non-scientific paths. However, any result we obtain scientifically, we will accept it, and build upon it. As a matter of fact, this is the approach that Islam teaches, as we have already seen. Hence, our goal is to find out to what extent the Islamic Creed and Belief are based on science.
What is Science?
Before we start proving the Islamic creed through science, we need to ask ourselves what science is. To some it may be a course taught in universities, to others it may be the branch of knowledge found in science books, to some more scientific-minded people, it may be a method of research or any result that a scientist reaches through the methods adopted by scientists. But obviously, such a vague definition, with so many possibilities can not properly define science. It would be doing science an injustice, more than anything else.
The Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology defines science as “The systematic observation of natural events and conditions in order to discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on these facts”. Notice that the discovery of facts, and the building of laws and principles on facts, is what constitutes science. Hence the whole process of hypotheses building and breaking, which Physics Nobel prize laureate Richard Feynman describes in the following words, ‘things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected’ is an integral part of the scientific method, but not a part of science. Therefore not every theory or hypothesis that is proposed through the scientific method is considered a part of science, until it is proven beyond doubt, i.e. unless it is established as a fact. The people who propose them are scientists, no doubt, but their theory falls short of science.
The fact that so many theories, be they, biological, physical, chemical, astronomical or medicinal, put forth by great scientists of their times have been refuted and are still being refuted even today, is not hidden from someone with even a superficial knowledge of science. One theory is rejected for another theory, which is usurped by a third theory, only for a fourth theory to take it’s place. Can this chain of contradictory theories all be considered science? Never. In short, any unproven proposition, hypothesis or assumption is not science, as long as there is room for doubt in it. They are trials at reaching facts, but trials are one thing, and facts are another.
A simpler definition giving the same meaning, which we can propose for science could be, ‘The recognition of things as they actually are’. However, this recognition will only be called science, if there is a complete correspondence between the recognition and the actuality or reality of the thing being studied. Let us look at a simple example of what we mean by that. If I observe a flower, and I try to recognize the various parts of the flower and their purpose, my recognition will be called science if a) that which I am observing is a flower, b) the parts were properly recognized, and c) their uses are what I thought they were. These would have to be proved by me, and no one should be able to disprove that, for my understanding to be called science. Suppose, what I was looking at was an artificial plastic flower, I have not even started on my journey of establishing the various parts of the flower, and their uses, as my recognition was faulty, right from the beginning. This recognition is not science. The same will be said if my observations do not correspond with the reality with regards to points b) or c).
This is the concept of science that we will be dealing with in our trial to prove scientifically whether or not Islam confirms to scientific rules. Hence, we will not be satisfied with a hypothesis or theory leaving room for any sort of doubt. In other words, a no-compromise approach is what we will be adopting. If any principle of Islamic belief is left such that it can not be proved in a scientific manner, we will leave it, no matter where we heard it from, or what that principle is. This is the scientific approach, and this is what Islam teaches us.
The basic scientific method that we will be adopting is sound and yet comprehensive. Further, it is rational and based on common sense. It is something that Muslim scholars and scientists have followed over the centuries, whether expressedly or not. It is: “When reporting, then authenticity is the criterion, and when making claims, then proof”. In other words, if I am hearing of or reading about a phenomenon, the means or links through which that report came to me from its source should be authentic, and when I make a claim, I should have sound and logically consistent proof for it. And these are the only two means of knowledge. If one takes care to ensure that no doubt or possibilities creep into knowledge by these two means, that knowledge will definitely be scientific.
What is Islam?
Since we have defined science, let us also define Islam. Islam has been defined in simple terms, as ‘The ideal way of interacting with life, other human beings and the universe at large’. In other words, it is a system for man to follow in his interactions with everything around him. Where did this system come from? Of course, some of you have not yet recognized the presence of a Creator, but just to make the definition complete, it has come to man from the Owner of life, the Lord of mankind, the Creator of the universe. It is analogous to a catalog or how-to-use guide that comes with a product that comes out of a factory, written by the manufacturers of the product, telling you about the product, about the manufacturers, about its benefits and about how it should be used, so as to maintain it and retain its benefits. It also tells the consumer how to protect it and what possible harms could face it. In the exact same manner, God did not create man and leave him at that, but he sent religion, to guide him, through out the ages, based upon the needs of the time, as to how to spend his life, how to deal with other human beings and how to treat the creation of God.
A question may arise as to why this catalog is directed at man, and not at any other creation of God. This is because man was made the ‘user’ of this universe. All of God’s creation was subjected to the service of man. It is but natural that he be given the guidelines based on which he is to use it. So we can conclude, though prematurely, that Islam is the ‘catalog’ that God sent to mankind with the best and most beneficial method of using the ‘equipment’ that He supplied mankind with, viz. life, society and all that exists.
Chapter 1: God
Does this Universe have a Creator?
Perhaps some of you had an objection with the way we defined Islam, as we presumed the presence of a Creator, without first having proved it, so let us start from there. Let us ask ourselves, does this universe, and all that we see, and the vast majority of things that we can not see, in short, all that exists, does it all have a Creator? Perhaps it does not have a Creator. Perhaps it just always existed. Or perhaps it came into being by itself and then developed. If there is no Creator, then there is no need for a catalog at all. In that case, the best way for us to deal with the universe and with ourselves would be to come up with our own system. To lay down our own rules and regulations on how to deal with life in this world. The other possibility is that it does have a Creator.
Science tells us to hold one assumption in front of the other, and see which one holds good. But we have to come to one conclusion. As we have already established, science does not leave room for doubt. Either we decide that there is no Creator, and we lead our lives accordingly, or we decide that there is a Creator, and we continue our research as to who that Creator is and what He wants from us, based on the scientific realization that there is a Creator.
First let us assume that God does not exist. This is our first assumption. What is the scientific approach that allows us to recognize the veracity of this assumption or the lack of it? The scientific approach for establishing and verifying any claim depends on the type of assumption it is. Any assumption can be of two types. Either it is regarding something that can be realized through our senses, or it is regarding something that is hidden from our senses. That is, it can be something we can see, hear, touch, smell or taste, which are the five methods of getting definitive knowledge about something, or it may be something that we can not prove through the use of these senses of ours. All assumptions will be of one of these two types. There is no third possibility.
For those assumptions that are of the first type, i.e. those that can be realized through our senses, the only scientific method to establish them is through experimentation and observation. Neither hearsay nor scriptures are of any use in this regard. If it is said that the water in such and such a place has certain harmful minerals, you test it. If someone tells you that the soil in his backyard is not cultivable, you check it out. If a triangle is said to be a right angled triangle, you measure the larger angle. If someone claims that he has discovered a cure for AIDS, his medicine is tested on HIV positive patients, and so on. This is the scientific method that we are familiar with. And this is exactly what Islam prescribes in such situations. Islam urges us to use our reason and the senses we were endowed with to contemplate on the creation of God. That is why He has never asked us to believe in something that can be realized through experimentation and observation through the scriptures.
On the other hand, if the assumption is of the second type, i.e. it is out of the reach of the senses, in that case should we declare everything that we can not see, hear, touch, smell or taste to be non-existent? No. This is not the scientific approach. There are a vast majority of things that can not be sensed, about which scientists have proposed and even proved many theories. For example, the existence of subatomic particles, the fact that dinosaurs lived in a particular region, the fact that a particular civilization led a particular type of life or that it was literate and so on and so forth. The list is non ending. One such assumption is the assumption of the presence or absence of God. If this was an assumption of the first type, we would have checked it out, and have settled the matter for once and for all. The scientific approach to prove such assumptions is through evidences in favor of the assumption. In other words, we have to look for evidences that can be sensed, that prove the claim which can not be sensed. If we can not find definitive evidence, we drop the assumption.
By looking for evidences, what we mean is that we assume that the assumption does hold good. Then we ask ourselves what the indications or evidences of its holding good would be. What is it that that assumption necessitates? What would be the definite results of this assumption? Then we look and see if they are present. If so, we accept it. Otherwise we reject it. A simple example of this is, a thief broke into your house in the middle of the night. You did not sense him, in any way. However something valuable is missing. How do you verify that this is not an inside job? How do you prove that a thief broke into the house? You look for evidences. For instance, a lock is picked, a window is left unlocked, a foreign set of fingerprints is present, signs of struggle are found, the flower bed is damaged, and so on. Now, even though the entry of a thief into your house was something beyond the reach of your senses, you are certain he had entered. The evidences prove this beyond doubt. This is the scientific approach for those assumptions that can not be tested through experimentation or observation, as they are not perceivable by the senses.
Let us see another example, but of the usage of the lack of evidence to disprove an assumption. There are those evolutionists who believe that the human mind developed due to the needs and wants that he faced with regards to food, drink, shelter, etc. until he became able to talk. This is also something that can not be sensed. However this assumption that the needs that were with man and the necessities he faced led to the development of his intellect has some indications, and some necessities, that would have to be present for us to consider it a fact. The most obvious one would be that we would have found the animals living in the jungles possessing the same intellect and speech that we have, or at least something similar. This is because they also faced the same biological needs that we did. Perhaps some of them to an even greater extent. If not tens of thousands of years ago, at least by now, a few of them should have started talking and wearing clothes. It didn’t happen, and hence we have no choice but to disappoint the proponents of this theory by telling them that it is not scientific.
Now that we have understood the scientific approach that we will be taking for the assumptions of Islamic creed and belief, which are naturally of the unseen type, we can return to the first assumption that we made. That is, we assumed that God does not exist. Henceforth we have to assume that this complex universe and all that it contains has no Creator. Let us apply the methodology that we have just understood to this assumption. If this universe has no Creator, there are two possibilities. One is that the universe had a beginning, and the other is that it was always there, in some form or the other. Among those who hold this assumption dear, you find a division. Some believe in the first possibility, and others in the second. That is, some people say that this universe has a beginning, if you go far back enough, and before that beginning was non existence. This is the specific view that most astronomers and their like would probably confirm to. Others, such as the philosophers of Marxist materialism, say that there was no beginning to this universe, however far back you go. The universe is just a continuum of cosmic rays with no source.
Therefore, when we make the assumption that God does not exist, either we have to take the first view, that this universe had a beginning or a starting point, before which was nothing, or we have to take the second view. Let us say, first, that we believe that the universe has an age and that it was preceded by nothingness, which is the view of majority of the scientists today. What does this imply? This implies that the universe came into existence by itself, without any external force, which is impossible. If we say that the universe came into existence after it was not there, in the absence of a Creator, that necessitates the appearance of something out of the blue, without any cause. However any sensible person will tell you that such an occurrence is unrealistic.
Let us look at some analogies of the above assumption, so that it becomes clear to us how silly it actually is. Suppose I tell you I was holding a weighing scale, and both the pans were empty and balanced at the same height. All of a sudden, one of the pans suddenly outweighed the other, without any external weight being put on it, i.e. without any external influence. You would tell me that is against Newtons first law of motion. I tell you that this which you are proposing is against a law which is so basic that no one ever felt the need to state it. That is, the actual status of anything is to stay as it is, as long as no one changes its status. Therefore, no object can come into creation from non-existence without an external influence. Hence the assumption of the non-existence of God, considering the universe to have a beginning, is proved wrong, as we could not find any evidence on the presence of an external influence in the middle of non-existence.
Now suppose the staunch believer in the non-existence of God were to say, “Okay, perhaps I was wrong. Maybe the universe did not have a beginning. It was present from eternity. Therefore there is no need for a Creator. It is a continuum of cosmic waves, as claimed by the Marxists”. What would be our reply to that? Let us look at the indications and results of assuming that, and see if they are existent or not, as we did in the first case.
Assuming that the universe is eternal and self evolving, as claimed, implies the ‘continuation of non-self reliant forces to eternity’, which is scientifically impossible, implying that the assumption that necessitates this impossibility is also impossible. We shall explain this in some detail.
Suppose I owe you a thousand Dollars. I give you a cheque with a ’0′ written on it, and I point at it and tell you that that zero is equivalent to one thousand Dollars., would you believe me? Of course not. Because you know a simple mathematical rule that zero has no value in itself. In other words, it is not self reliant. Rather it is reliant on the number written next to it. I say okay, you will get your thousand Dollars, and I write another zero next to it. You’re still not satisfied. I write one more and yet one more, and I fill the whole cheque up with zeros. You tell me, even if you right a thousand zeros, it will not be of any value, until you put a number from one to nine next to it. This is because these numbers have their own value, or they are self reliant. Zero, on the other hand, is reliant on the number next to it. How can a force which has no power in itself take power from a force which is next to it also having no power in itself? You might tell me that this is like trying to raise business capital from a large group of beggars who do not have enough money to spend on themselves. In their place, if you had approached one rich man, his money might have been sufficient. On what basis are you making this refutation? It is because you know there is a need for at least one force that is self sufficient. In other words, it does not need to take power from anything else. Otherwise what would be the source for its own power?
Let’s look at another example. There is a twenty floored building. On the top floor is a hotel where I want to stay. However I want to make sure it is safe, so I ask the engineer who built the building as to what the twentieth floor is supported on. He says the nineteenth floor. Is that enough for me? No. I want to know what that is resting on. He says it lies on the eighteenth. And so I keep asking him, till I get to the ground floor. Only when he tells me that the ground floor is based upon the foundation or the cornerstone, will I be satisfied. This is because I know that anything that needs to be supported by something else can not be having it’s own strength. However when I get down to the cornerstone, I feel safe, because I know that that has it’s own strength, and can at the same time support all the above floors.
Let’s consider a third example. I am giving a lecture to you about a new theory I am proposing. I give you a proof for this theory. However it is not a complete proof. It requires further proof. So I give you a proof for that proof. However the second proof is not fool-proof either, so you ask for a third. I give you a third, but you need a fourth, and so on. Even if I gave you proofs from morning to evening, you would not believe me, because they are all dependent proofs. Until I give you a self-dependent proof, you are not buying my theory.
From these three examples, it should be clear as to what the principle that ‘the continuation of non-self reliant forces to eternity is impossible’ means. Now if you apply it to our assumption that the universe was always existent, in various forms, and has been self evolving since eternity, i.e. it has no age, you can see that the origination of the matter and power involved still remains unaccounted for. Everything we see around us has taken it’s power and existence from something before it, and it passes it on to something after it. But if we keep going back and ask ourselves what the source of this power, or continuum of cosmic waves, as they called it was, we would be like I was in the above examples. On this basis, we have to come to the conclusion that the universe could not have been so, without the presence of a Creator, to give it that power and act as the self-sufficient source for the existence of the universe.
Hence, either view you take with regards to the birth of the universe, the non-existence of God has been proved to be impossible. Hence we have no choice but to accept the other assumption as true. That is, that the Universe has a Creator, and it has an age. However, a person who is not ready to believe in God might say, “Okay, you have disproved my assumption that there is no God, but you are yet to prove that there is a God”. We could tell him that he is forgetting that there were only two possible assumptions, and when one was proven false, the other became a fact. However, he is right to the extent that we have only negated a negative to prove the existence of God. Do we have a positive proof for the presence of God? The answer is a resounding yes. Not one proof, but many.
The first and foremost scientific proof to the presence of God is what is called the ‘Purpose of Creation’ or the ‘Teleological Argument for Creation’. Wikipedia defines the Teleological Argument as follows: “A teleological argument, or argument from design, is an argument for the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design, or direction — or some combination of these — in nature. The word “teleological” is derived from the Greek word telos, meaning “end” or “purpose”. Teleology is the supposition that there is purpose or directive principle in the works and processes of nature”. This is a proof that philosophers, logicians, scientists and intellectuals have used throughout the ages for the proving the existence of God.
We shall try to explain this proof in simple words. Any action that takes place can be of two types. One is mechanistic, or automatic, and the other is purposeful. A mechanistic action is one that takes place without the use of the mind or thought. For instance, if straw is thrown into fire, it burns. The burning is a mechanistic action, as it takes place with no role played by the mind. Similar is eating in causing nourishment and sleep in giving rest. You do not have to intend nourishment for food to nourish you. That is what it does. Therefore, these are called mechanistic actions. We are not bothered about this type of action now. The other action is the purposeful one. Purpose refers to the intention that lies in the mind behind doing a certain action, that causes one to behave in a certain way. For example, imagine that you want to become a doctor. This will cause you to perform certain actions that are clearly purposeful. You will study day and night, you will appear for the necessary examinations, and anyone who knows you will explain your behavior as a result of that purpose that lies in your mind. If you continue to act according to your purpose, what will the result probably be? It will be the appearance of that goal or intention that you had in your mind, in reality. This result that you see in front of you, after having been a purpose in your mind, is in itself a proof of the purpose that was in your mind. A person who has no intention to become a doctor is not just called to the university and given a medical degree just like that. Hence the fact that you are a doctor in the future will in itself be a proof of the purpose that was in your mind. This logic can be extrapolated to all purposeful actions, big or small.
The person who invented the telephone aimed at facilitating the process of communication between people, for their benefits. This intention drove him to try and experiment and put in effort, and so on. What was the result of this effort? It was the conversion of this dream into a reality. Thus, when we look at the telephone, we find ourselves looking at the result of an intention or a purpose. The same would be said when we look at any of the invented equipments around us, such as the radio, the computer, the internet, and so on and so forth. They are all fruits of purposes and goals in the minds of their manufacturers. These goals drove them to try, experiment and suffer for a long time, until it became a reality. Thus they are materialized results of intentions. This is what is meant by purpose of creation.
Suppose I looked at a computer, and I said, I do not think anyone made this. It just happened to become. The metal casing was molded that way by water, and the wind carried the various chips which were formed by themselves from sand, due to some complex process, and brought them all together, to form a computer working in perfect condition. You would definitely doubt my sanity. But how about this universe which is much more complex than a computer? How about the human body, which can not be replaced by the most complex of computers? How about the solar system, and the perfect positioning of earth within it? How about the ideal living conditions on earth? How about the subjection of all of creation to man? If somebody called all of this an accident, should he not be considered crazier than I should be? Why is it that when we see a piece of art, we can appreciate the artist’s mind behind it, but when we see the real beings, which the artist can only try and imitate, our mind does not transfer to the Creator who has so intelligently designed them. How unscientific are we, when it comes to processing simple facts in our mind. That is why the Qur’an is full of examples of the intelligent design of God, to keep man from forgetting this reality[iii].
However, like any theory, attempts have been made to counter the Teleological Argument as well. Let us look at some of these attempts, and see how we can reply to them, or if they even need replying to. Some people have said that the Teleological signs are something they too see, but this purpose and intelligent design that is present in the universe happened as a result of the elongation of time. That is, as time passed, things began to fall into harmony, and become perfect. They say that the harmony that you see, and that you claim is a proof of God’s existence is the result of a lengthy process that took place over millions of years. Initially, there was no harmony and everything was haywire. As a result of clashes and chaos over this long period of time, this harmony arose. This objection which we have seen is not a made up argument. This was an actual objection to the Teleological argument, put forth by a scientist of Marxist materialism, Boknes. He gives an example for this. He says, if you have a box full of printed letters, a, b, c etc., and you empty them on the ground, and you let some monkeys come and play with them, sooner or later, a meaningful word would be formed. If this continues, later you would have a whole sentence, and if those goes on for long enough, the whole works of Shakespeare could be reproduced. Similarly, he says the harmony seen in the universe came about, and it wasn’t there initially. The biggest flaw to this example is that if the monkeys could make words, they could also, as easily break them. They do not have the intelligence to know when a word is made, so as to take it and keep it aside. Also, if the universe and all its harmony happened to come about by chance, why did it remain stationery once it formed, and why did it not change any more. This purpose of creation seen in the universe and all its parts is proof of an Intelligent Hand behind it.
Another famous Marxist scientist, Engels tries to refute the purpose of creation saying that there is teleology, but it is as a result of the rationality of nature. Perhaps Engels thought that by giving this purpose a different name, he could divert the attention of the masses from the fact of its presence. If what he means is that the rationality of nature emanates from within, any one with a little sense can see that something that was chaotic can not be removed from this state of chaos by itself. This is the essence of the Chaos theory.
Another positive proof for the existence of God lies in accepting the testimony of the Messengers and Prophets, based on their truthfulness, integrity and honesty, supported by miracles from God. We will see this proof in more detail in the chapter on Prophethood.
Now that we have established the existence of God in a purely scientific manner, our next step would be to try and understand the characteristics of God through the means which he has made available for us to recognize Him. For a more comprehensive understanding of His attributes, we will take help from the Word of God, the Qur’an, which we will come back to prove valid in the chapter on Prophethood.
The Attributes of God
Now that we have believed in God as the Creator and Lord of the universe, let us understand His Characteristics and Attributes. God has all attributes of perfection and is free from all shortcomings. His attributes are divided into two types. One is the Divine Attributes, and the other is the Attributes of Perfection. Divine Attributes are called so because they can only be understood by looking at their opposites, or their hypothetical absence, whereas the Attributes of Perfection are those that we can understand in their positive senses, as we shall see in detail.
The Divine Attributes are many, as any attribute which is not fitting for God can be negated to give rise to a Divine Attribute. However the most important amongst them are five in number. 1) His Oneness 2) His Pre-existence 3) His Everlasting-ness 4) His Self Existence and 5) His Difference from all creation. If we look at these, we can see that they can only be understood by negating their opposite. Therefore Oneness is the absence of partners, Pre-existence is the absence of a beginning, Everlasting-ness is the absence of an end and so on.
The first Divine Attribute is Oneness of God with regards to His Presence and Attributes. We have both narrated as well as rational proofs for this attribute. The transmitted proofs include the verses of the Qur’an, “Say He is Allah, the One and Only”[iv] and “Allah, there is no Deity but He”[v]. As for the rational proof, it can be best understood by the method we have already seen of making an assumption and seeing whether or not the evidences and indications of this assumption are there or not, and whether or not sufficient proof is available to uphold the assumption. So, let us assume that there were more than one gods. Two, three, four or more. Did these gods agree upon the creation of the universe and what it contains or not? Did they discuss it, and all come to the same conclusion, or did they have differences in opinions? Suppose, for now, that one god wanted to create one thing and another god wanted to create something else. Each wanted to do what they wanted, and they both had equal power. What would happen? Either one would overcome the other, in which case it is clear that the winner is the God, and the other can not be. Hence we return to the Oneness of God. The other possibility is that both were equally able to enforce their decision. For instance, one would have wanted say, to create something, and the other did not want it created. In that case, the object would have been torn between existence and non-existence. Suppose one god agreed to co-operate with the desires of the other, that itself would be an inherent weakness, preventing him from being the God.
This is the meaning of the verse in the Qur’an which says: “Had there been therein (in the heavens and the earth) gods other than Allah, both (heaven and earth) would have been ruined”[vi]. Hence we have to assume that the Creator is the One and Only God. That is because only one can create a thing at a time. And once it is created, no other god can come and re-create what has already been created. God is the one who creates Alone. It can not be imagined that He needs any sort of assistance. One should not be confused by God using the plural form on some occasions in the Qur’an, as when He says We created, We revealed etc., as this is a style of speaking which is generally used by kings and those in authority.
What is meant by Pre-Existence? It means that there was no non-existence before Him. That is, He was always present. There is no beginning to His existence. What is the proof of this Attribute? One is the proof from the Qur’an, in which He describes himself as Al-Awwal (The First)[vii]. That is, not even ‘nothing’ existed before Him. What is the scientific proof behind the Pre-Existence of God? It is that if we assume that God was not Pre-Existent, or that God was not there, and then He became, it would necessitate that we also assume that someone was there who created God. It would be similar to the argument that we put forth when we were discussing the beginning of the universe, i.e. that something that was non-existent can not come into existence by itself. And if there was another being that created God then that being would have been God, and not this one.
The third Divine Attribute is Everlastingness. Naturally, if we were to consider that God dies, that would be proof that he was not god. Besides, this attribute is also a result of His Pre-Existence. Anything that does not have a beginning does not have an end. He describes himself in the Qur’an as Al-Aakhir (The Last)[viii].
Before we go onto the fourth attribute, we should realize that there might be those who are thinking, ‘I cannot imagine how God can be Pre-Existent, or how He can be Everlasting’, and hence they may feel that their inability to envisage this is a proof of the absence of these attributes. The reason for this doubt is that man wants to see an example for everything, and hence he aims on basing his understanding of the outside world on those things alone which he has seen or come across. So it will be easy for man to understand that God is Merciful or Just, because Man has come across these qualities to some extent, though in a far inferior manner, in his own experiences. However when we say that God has no beginning or that he is not bound by space or time, it becomes difficult for him to imagine that, as nothing he has ever experienced shares that Characteristic at any level.
Hence there is a principle that we should understand, that will clear this doubt and similar doubts. Man has two distinct potentials. One is his intellect with which he understands, and another is his imagination with which envisages. However, it should be clear that there is no connection between the two. Please do not fall into the error of thinking that there is an inseparable relationship between the two. If I cannot envisage something, by no way does that mean that I can not understand it. The intellect may very well realize something which is unimaginable. Let me give an example. Suppose a man was born blind, and he lived till he was old. Can this man imagine what sunlight is like? No. Can he imagine what the different colors look like? No. However, would he believe in the existence of the sun, after having lived amongst people and hearing talk about it. Of course. In the same way, he would believe in colors. This is because of the separation between the mind and ones imagination. The mind can realize what one can never imagine, but the imagination can only envisage that which one has come across. The imagination is very much like a mirror in the back of the brain, reflecting what it has seen, and that’s all. Therefore, when I am not able to imagine the Pre-Existence of God, I should not let it bother me, as there is a lot I can not imagine, just like the blind man.
The fourth attribute, or the Self Existence of God means that He is not bound by space or time. He does not need space to exist in the same way that He does not need time to exist. For that matter, He is not in need of any external factor for existence. Such limitations are characteristic of His creation, but He is far Superior to such limitations and boundaries. The proof of this attribute is given in the Qur’an, as “Allah is As-Samad (Self Sufficient)”[ix]. The rational proof of this attribute is also the Pre-Existence of God. That is because if He was present before all things, including space and time, He can not be dependent on it. His existence can not be due to something else. Again, the fact that we can not imagine this, does not make any difference in our belief, as our imagination can only envisage what it has come across. However our intellect should be able to differentiate between the creation whose physical existence depends on Him and between Him whose existence is a logical necessity and can not be dependent upon anything.
The fifth attribute is His Difference from all that exists . This also follows, as all of creation requires space to exist and have physical bodies which are made up of parts. On the other hand, God does not require space and is not made up of different parts which combine to form a whole, as that would imply his dependence upon those parts. Hence Allah says in the Qur’an, “There is nothing like Him”[x], and “There is nothing comparable to Him”[xi]. As for the fact that He describes himself in some verses of the Qur’an as having a hand, and in some verses as seeing or hearing, and in yet others as ascending or coming, we as Muslims believe in these, without realizing how they are. What we do know is that it is different from what we can imagine, as we can only imagine that which we have seen in the creation, from which God is completely different.
The Attributes of Perfection of God are innumerable, as all the good qualities belong to Him in a manner befitting His Majesty. However, seven such attributes are given special mention, as a lot of the articles of faith in Islam are based on them. They are: 1) Knowledge, 2) Will, 3) Ability 4) Audition, 5) Vision, 6) Speech and 7) Life. All of these attributes are pre-existent and have always been associated and will always remain associated with God. They are not to be envisaged based on human imagination, which is based on its experience with the creation, but should be understood keeping in mind the Divine Attribute of God being un-comparable to all that exists.
Knowledge is the ability of God to know things as they are at any moment of time or as they will be in the future. Will is the means by which God decides to affect His creation by giving it existence or any other qualities This attribute is not affected by the will that God has bestowed upon man, by which he can make his own decisions, as this is only a means to test him. Ability is the power of God to do whatever he wills. Audition and Vision are attributes which are associated with all perceivable things in a manner different from our hearing and sight. These two attributes are established in the scriptures, both the Qur’an and Hadith in many places, and hence can not be doubted. Since this is not something that can be understood by reason, we can not go any further into trying to find out the scope of these attributes and the purpose they serve Him. Speech is a very important attribute, through which God spoke to man in the form of his Messengers and through which He tells man what to do and what not to do. Hence the Qur’an is called ‘Kalaamullah’ or the Speech of God. His command ‘be’ through which He creates is also a result of this Speech. This is the Everlasting Attribute of God based on which all His Attributes are based.
One important article of faith that is associated with the above mentioned attributes is that of fate. It is based on the Hadith of the Prophet in which he enumerates the articles of faith saying: “Faith is that you believe in God, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the Last Day and that fate good and bad is from God”. Destiny is based on the Knowledge and prescience of God regarding what he decrees for Man as to what his fate will be. Fate is the nothing but God taking action according to His Will. The meaning of belief in destiny and fate is to believe that God knew what would happen with relation to Man before it happened and that when it happens, it is due to the action of God in the specific way that He already knew.
This wraps up the discussion about God, the sole Creator and Owner of the Universe, and with that half of the testimony of Islam can now be declared with certainty. That is, ‘There is no God but Allah’. Now to better understand the second half, ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’ we will start our discussion on Prophethood.
Chapter 2: Prophethood
Now that we have come to a definite conclusion with regards to God, and we have realized that there is a Creator and Director to this Universe, is it possible for us to stop at that, without further asking what He wants of us? Can we possibly imagine that His Presence and Potence do not have any effect on us, and that we can go on leading our lives just like we used to before this realization? Can we fool ourselves into thinking that it was sheer chance that differentiated man from all Creation, giving him intellect and the ability to subdue the forces of the universe, to himself, without any extra responsibility being given to him? Surely, the answer to all these questions is in the negative. God asks a similar question in the Qur’an, when He says “Do you think that We created you without a purpose, and that you will not return to Us?”[xii]
If man realizes that such is not to be the case, his next step should be to find out what his responsibility is, and why it is that God created him here and gave him the potentials that he has. However God, out of His infinite mercy, did not leave him alone to find out what his duties and responsibilities are, rather He sent a series of prophets to introduce man to God and let mankind know what it is that He wants of them, and to warn them about the life to come after death in which man will be compensated for all the good and bad that he has done in this world, where there is apparently no-one to question him.
But obviously, it would not be scientific of us to accept the testimony of any person who claims to be a prophet, without having sufficient proof to support the same. Hence in this chapter, we will try to understand the meaning, implications, signs and evidences of prophethood in general and that of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), in specific.
Prophethood, Revelation and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)
A prophet is a human being to whom God sends a revelation through the angel Gabriel, so that he can show the people the right way. If along with the revelation, he is also given a book or message to pass on as such to the people, he is called a Messenger. All messengers are prophets, but all prophets are not messengers.
Revelation is the foundation upon which Prophethood is based. It is the sole source for knowledge of the unseen to be acquired by man. Creed is based on revelation alone. So is majority of the rules and regulations of religion. Hence revelation is the only thing that differentiates between a man who thinks and innovates or legislates on his own and a prophet who relays the message of God, without making any change in it.
The presence of revelation in the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is something that is very obvious. This is because his whole life is very well documented and transmitted to us through a number of sources, making it indubitable. Having been orphaned at birth and not being under the guardianship of any one person for a considerable period of time, it is not possible that he derived this knowledge or training from any other source. Furthermore he was illiterate, and majority of the stories of long past nations and Prophets which are narrated in the Qur’an are based on historical facts which were not known to the Arab at that time. It also contains prophecies which could not have been made without Divine intervention.
His honesty and trustworthiness were well known in Makkah, the city in which he was born and in which he grew up, and where he stayed until he was 53. It is unimaginable that a person who would never speak a lie in mundane matters could all of a sudden lie about God. His life before Prophethood was just like that of any businessman of the time, and when he was finally given Prophethood at the age of 40, even he found it difficult to digest, as you will see in the following narration found in many books of Hadith describing the beginning of revelation in the life of the Prophet.
“The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was in the form of dreams which came true like bright day light. Then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food like-wise again till suddenly Prophethood descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel (Gabriel) came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read”.
The Prophet (PBUH) added, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (96.1, 96.2, 96.3)
Then the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) returned with the Inspiration (shivering from fear) and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” She covered him till his fear subsided and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I feared that something may happen to me.” (implying that he was being possessed) Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your Kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.”
Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal, who, during the PreIslamic Period became a Christian and used to write and read Hebrew. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Revelation was also paused for a while. (6 months to 1 year)”[xiii]
This one narration is sufficient to prove the presence of revelation beyond doubt, provided one understands it properly. For instance, why did the Prophet (PBUH) see Gabriel the very first time with his own eyes, instead of the revelation being from behind a screen? Why did God put fear and confusion in the heart of the Prophet (PBUH), instead of comforting him? Why did he allow him to fear that he was being possessed by spirits, instead of comforting him that the being that he met was a trustworthy angel from Allah? Why did the revelation stop after that for a long while, which disturbed the Prophet (PBUH) so much that he contemplated suicide, as narrated in other reports, as he felt he had seen and heard things in the cave the first time? These are natural questions that arise when we read the description of the commencement of Revelation in the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). If we ponder upon the answers, we will realize that there is a common underlying wisdom behind all of this. This is so that a person who might doubt that the revelation was something that arose from within Muhammad, or was a result of sudden self-enlightenment, could easily see that that was not the case.
The Angel Gabriel presented himself in front of the Prophet (PBUH), so that he would realize that this voice that he was hearing was not his own soul talking to him. It was definitely external. He was further squeezed by the angel, so that he could feel this external presence, and would not imagine that he had some vision or the sort. He became afraid and left his seclusion and hurried back to the home in a frenzied state, shivering, yellowed, from which it becomes clear that Prophethood was not something he was expecting, wanting or preparing for. It was not a result of some thinking or internalization that was going on within him. Rather it struck him all of a sudden, and changed his life in a way he could never have imagined. The fact that Revelation stopped after this incident for more than 6 months further emphasizes that what had come upon the Prophet (PBUH) was not a case of self-enlightenment, as someone who is enlightened is not put off like that.
Apart from this, there are innumerable proofs from the life of the Prophet (PBUH), which prove beyond doubt, the presence of Revelation in it. For instance, there is a notable difference of style between the language of the Qur’an, which is the Word and Message of God and the Hadith, which is the Message of God in Muhammad (PBUH)’s own words. Also, sometimes the Prophet would be asked about certain matters about which he was not aware, and he would have to wait for Revelation to come to answer these questions. Sometimes he would do something, and a verse of the Qur’an would be revealed which blames him for his action[xiv], which the Prophet (PBUH) would faithfully convey.
Hence we can conclude that the presence of Revelation in the life of the Prophet (PBUH) is proved beyond doubt as a result of the various authentic reports which reach us from so many sources that it becomes impossible to claim that they are all false.
The Other Prophets and Belief in Them
Once you have accepted that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received revelation from God, it becomes necessary for you to accept the Qur’an as the Word of God. And accepting the Qur’an as the Word of Allah implies that you will have to believe the following about other Prophets who came before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
· The first Prophet was Adam, the first man to be created.
· The last Prophet was Prophet Muhammad, after whom no prophet will be sent. Allah says in the Qur’an, “Muhammad is not the father of any man amongst you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets”[xv]. However, the fact that Jesus (PBUH) will come back to earth from heaven before the Day of Judgment does not mean that he will be the last Prophet, as his coming back will not be as a new Prophet, but only to enforce the message that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) already gave.
· The Qur’an mentions 25 Prophets by name, and hence a Muslim can not be in doubt about their Prophethood, and that they are similar in that God revealed to each of them in the same way. Their names (with the biblical names in brackets) are: Adam, Idris (Enoch), Noah, Hud, Salih, Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Lut (Lot), Yaqub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Shu’aib, Ayyub (Job), Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Dhul-Kifl (Ezekiel), Dawud (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Ilyas (Elias), Al-Yasa’ (Elisha), Yunus (Jonah), Zakariyya (Zechariah), Yahya (John), Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad.
· There were many many other prophets as well, whose names are not mentioned in the Qur’an, and who were sent in different times to different nations. The Qur’an speaks generally about them saying “Verily We have sent thee in truth, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a warner: and there never was a people, without a warner having lived among them”[xvi].
· The main difference between the Prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and all the other Prophets is that he was sent to all of Mankind until the end of time, whereas they were sent for specific periods of time, to specific tribes. Hence we have in the Qur’an, “And We have not sent thee except as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner Unto all mankind; but most of mankind know not”[xvii].
· We must also believe that certain Propehts were sent Books, and in specific, that Moses was given the Torah, Jesus the Injeel, David the Zabur and some Booklets were given to Abraham as well.
· The religion given to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) abrogates those given to the Prophets before him, while the creed remains the same.
· All Prophets were protected from sins and were the best example for mankind. The Qur’an says, “Assuredly in their stories is a lesson for men of understanding. It is not a discourse fabricated, but a confirmation of that which went before it, and a detailing of everything, and a guidance and a mercy unto a people who believe”[xviii].
· Prophethood can not be earned by effort or hard work. God alone chose who was to be made a Prophet, and he prepared them for it by giving them the required character and qualities. He says in the Qur’an, “Allah knows with whom to put His Apostleship”[xix].
Miracles of the Prophets
Miracles are those supernatural occurrences that are given by God to His Prophets, to enforce the truth of their claim against those who deny it. Note that they are supernatural, but not impossible. That is, they would probably be against the familiar or the experience, but not against the possible. The miracles are such that they can not be reproduced by even the top minds of the time. This makes it easier for the people to believe in the message, as the message usually comes across strange to the people it is sent to, as it is against most of what their forefathers have been doing.
The first and foremost miracle that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was bestowed with is the Qur’an. Since this miracle of the Qur’an remains with us, it is the most powerful miracle ever given to man, as such an eloquent, authentic and prophetic book could not be reproduced and will not be reproduced until the end of time. While the eloquence factor can best be understood by the Arabs who were unable of bringing even a single chapter similar to it, despite the challenge by the Qur’an to do so[xx], the remaining factors can be understood by all. The fact that it was conveyed through an illiterate man makes it all the more astonishing. Other miracles include the Isra’ and Mi’raj (The night trip to Jerusalem and then to the heavens), the splitting of the moon[xxi], the gushing of water between his fingers, the sufficiency of little food for large number of people and many other such incidents which reach us through the concurrence of authentic reports.
It should be noted here that since we have accepted the Prophet Muhammad as the last Prophet based on the relevant verse of the Qur’an which we mentioned earlier, we must also realize that such miracles are no longer possible, as they are only given to Prophets. However, this does not imply that supernatural occurrences can not take place, but only that if they do, there is some other explanation for it, and it has nothing to do with Prophethood or Miracles, as in the context of Prophethood.
With the discussion on Prophethood coming to a close, one can now profess the complete testimony of Islam, that ‘There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’, which makes one a Muslim, with belief. Since to become a Believer, he would need to believe in this testimony, as just profession of it alone would not qualify him as a Believer, and since it is belief upon which salvation in the hereafter is dependent, we hope the above discussion would help even those Muslims who have not yet become true Believers. And God alone guides to the Straight Path.
Chapter 3: The Unseen
The unseen refers to all those aspects which we can not realize except through the information received through Prophets. Belief in the unseen is a fundamental part of the Islamic Creed, as belief in the seen is no big deal. The unseen includes the angels, the events that take place after death, the events leading up to the Day of Judgment, the description of Heaven and Hell etc. As we have discussed in the beginning, the scientific method of acquiring sound knowledge about such items which can not be experienced or experimented is to check the authenticity of the report. It is not possible for us to test the report based on our experiences, as they are different from anything we have experienced, which is precisely why they are called unseen (though unexperienced would have been a better term, as it would have included all 5 senses).
Before we start discussing specific instances, let us look at an example or two, from day to day life, where we have no problem in accepting something without necessarily understanding it, based on the person who is saying it, so that we may be better prepared to accept this as well. The reason I feel the need to give these examples is that though the method we are following is scientific, there may be those who are skeptical about its scientificity, as they have never come across any such items before. Whenever they talk about the future, they talk about the probability of an event, and never about the certainty of event. But that is the difference between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man, which we have already discussed in the first chapter.
If you walk into a chemists shop and you pick up a beaker and are about to drink its contents when the chemist shouts out to you not to do so, as it is poisonous. Considering you do not know much chemistry, you will probably obey him (unless you came there to commit suicide in the first place). Or if you read in the paper that a certain astronomical society has determined that a solar eclipse would take place at a particular time. You would probably believe it, even though you did not verify from the astronomical society themselves, as you know that the newspaper does not generally make mistakes in such basic reporting.
These are just two examples of the various occasions on a day to day basis in which we believe things purely based on reports, which would have been difficult for us to verify otherwise. How about those things which can only be ascertained through reports? In such a case, the only thing you need to check is the authenticity of the report. As the Qur’an was revealed by God through a trustworthy angel to a Prophet of God, and then recorded immediately, there is no need to worry about the authenticity. In the case of Hadith, since they were not recorded for a couple of decades, the need arises to see who the narrators of the report were and how good memories they had and so on and so forth. Keeping all this in mind, we will now look at a few things from this class of knowledge, the unseen.
The presence of angels is established through clear verses of the Qur’an and innumerable narrations in the Hadith about them. What we know with certainty about them can be summed up as follows:
· They are slaves of God, and have no other relationship with Him[xxii].
· They obey all of God’s commandments and never disobey Him, spending their whole time in accordance to His Command, praising Him and glorifying Him[xxiii].
· They are winged, having wings in twos, threes and fours[xxiv].
· They are created from light.
· They can take various forms, even that of humans, and appear before other humans[xxv].
These angels have various duties for which they are created. Gabriel brings revelation[xxvi]. Some angels carry the Throne of God[xxvii]. Some guard Heaven and Hell[xxviii]. Every human being has two angels who record his actions, one recording his good deeds and the other his bad deeds[xxix]. There are angels to protect human beings in their day to day activities[xxx]. There are others to extract his soul at the time of death. According to one verse[xxxi], many angels extract the soul at the time of death. Another verse[xxxii] seems to imply that there is only one. It is possible that there is one main angel who has been given helpers for his duty. The name of these angels have not been revealed through authentic sources, except for the one of Gabriel, which is why we have not mentioned them here.
One question may arise as to why God chose the help of so many angels, when he could have done all of this without any help. The answer is that yes, he could have done it without help, and hence His use of angels is not because of His inability to do all this, but rather as a show of His Majesty and Kingdom, which is organized to so minute details, and so large in magnitude, to show the Splendor of God.
Matters Relating to Death
Death is not by any mean from the realm of the unseen. However there are many aspects related to death which only the dying person knows, and no person can come back from death and describe it to us. Therefore these events relating to the time of death and beyond that is related to the unseen. What we know from the authentic sources is:
· The soul is taken out by an angel or by angels, as we saw above. The exact way in which the soul is taken cannot be said for sure, but from some verses[xxxiii] and various narrations, indications are available that the soul of those who were good is taken with more ease and gentleness than that of those who were not. This has nothing to do with the mode of death, but it is only about how the soul is finally taken.
· As soon as a person dies and is placed in his grave, two angels come and question him about his belief. Whoever had believed in this life and died in the state of belief, will be able to answer their questions and escape their wrath. Others will be frightened by their sight and not able to answer their questions. The fact that all the narrations mention the questioning being in the grave, does not mean that those who are not buried, such as those who drown or are engulfed by flames will escape the questioning. This is just used to show how soon the questioning starts after he dies.
· Those who were unable to answer the question posed by the angels, as well as according to some other narrations those who used to commit other types of sins, will face severe punishment in the grave. Others will be in great luxury. This will continue until the day of Judgment[xxxiv]. This also refutes the concept of reincarnation, as since the soul is either in luxuries or being punished, how can it be sent back to the world in another body?
The Signs of the Day of Judgment
The time in which the Day of Judgment or the Last Day will be established, also called the Hour, is a matter which God chose not to disclose to anyone, including His Messengers and Prophets. Hence this fact is clearly mentioned in many verses of the Qur’an, such as these: “They ask thee concerning the Hour, when will its coming be? Say: knowledge thereof is with my Lord only, none shall disclose it at its time but He; heavy it is in the heavens and the earth; it shall not come upon you except all of a sudden. They ask thee as though thou were familiar therewith. Say: knowledge thereof is with Allah only; but most of men know not”[xxxv]. “And they say, when will this promise be fulfilled, if you are truthful? Say: it’s knowledge lies with Allah, Alone, and I am but a clear warner”[xxxvi]. “They ask you about the Hour, when will be the appointed time? What knowledge do you (O Muhammad) have about it? To your knowledge belongs the term thereof. You are only as warner for those who fear it. The Day they will see it, it will be as if they had not stayed in this world except for an afternoon or a morning”[xxxvii]. Therefore it is not possible for anyone to know, by any means, when the Day will arrive, or calculate, in any way, when this world will come to an end, as this is something, the knowledge of which, God has kept to Himself.
The Signs of the Day of Judgment are those major events which we have been informed about, that lead up to the Day of Judgment. These can be classified into two types. One are those that have come either in the Qur’an or have come to such an extent in the Hadith, that it becomes necessary to believe in them. The other are those that though they might have come in authentic Hadith, they do not have the sort of concurrence that requires us to believe in them without doubt. Here we will only mention those Signs of the first type.
· The Arrival of the Antichrist or Dajjal: He will be of Jewish origin, and will originate from the East. He will initially claim that he wants reform. He will then claim divinity. All Prophets had warned about him in their own time. A lot of people will follow him, most of them Jews. He will have supernatural powers. His right eye will be deformed. He will have no offspring. He will not be able to enter Makkah or Madinah. He will be killed by Jesus (PBUH). The powers that he will be given, such as ability to bring back to life will be as a trial for the believers, to test their faith.
· The Descent of Jesus Christ (PBUH): Jesus was not killed by the Jews or crucified, as is the belief of the Jews and the Christians, but a man who looked similar to him was crucified in his place. Jesus (PBUH) was lifted alive with body and soul to the heavens[xxxviii]. His return to the earth will be a Sign of the Day of Judgment[xxxix]. He will establish the same Islamic Creed with which all Messengers and Prophets were sent, and will follow the Islamic Rules and Regulations which abrogate those of the previous Prophets, including his own. He will marry and then die, after having killed the Antichrist. All the Jews and Christians will also believe in him before he dies[xl].
· The Appearance of Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog): Ya’juj and Ma’juj are terms used in the Qur’an while referring to a large group of people who will appear near the end of time and take the world by surprise, descending from every high area, and will spread mischief and destruction in the world, in a frightful manner[xli]. They will emerge when a mighty barrier that had been barricading them will be broken[xlii]. Time alone will tell where they will emerge from and further details about these people and the havoc they will wreck.
· The Appearance of a Beast from the Earth: The Beast of the Earth is the name given by the Qur’an[xliii] to an animal that will emerge from the earth near the end of time, whose physical appearance is known to God alone.
· The Rising of the Sun From the West: This is clearly mentioned in many narrations such as the one in which the Prophet is reported to have said: “The Hour will not arrive until the sun rises from the West (or from its place of setting). When this happens, and people witness this, they will all believe. However at that time, no ones belief will benefit him in any way. Perhaps this will be by the reversal of the direction of spinning of the world around its axis, but the exact way in which it will happen is known only to God.
The Events of the Day of Judgment
When all of the signs of the Day of Judgment have appeared, and the particular moment which only God knows of arrives, this world and everything that exists will give way to another existence, called the Hereafter. The time when this happens is called the Last Day, the Day of Judgment, The Day of Recompense, the Day of Reckoning or the Hour. This is the most important day, and can be looked as at a conclusion to this play that we are all a part of. Man will stand before his Lord, weak and helpless, and He will question him about everything that he did on earth, where it seemed he was free to do whatever he willed, and those whose rights were usurped will get their rights back from the usurpers, whom people believed were too strong to take to account. This day is the logical conclusion to all the injustice that we see in the world. Perhaps one of the topics the Qur’an dwells upon the most is the fact that this day is coming, and what will happen thereafter.
What you should know about the events of this day can be summarized as follows.
· It will begin with the blowing of the Trumpet once, upon which all souls remaining will be taken. Then the Trumpet will be blown for a second time, upon which all the souls will come back to life.[xliv]
· The bodies will be resurrected and joined by their souls.[xlv]
· God will tell man all that he did in his life, with regards to his actions, statements and beliefs. This will be in front of all mankind, so as to honor the good and disgrace the evil. Man will be given his book of deeds, which will not leave out even the smallest detail of his life. The length of this reckoning and its ease or difficulty will vary from person to person, depending on his virtue.[xlvi]
· Everyone will be waiting for their turn, naked and barefoot, but they will not bother about that due to the extreme fear of the reckoning that awaits them. The sun will be right above their heads, as a result of which they would be drenched in their own sweat, or even drowning in it, again according to their virtue. It will be so severe a day, except for those whom God makes it easy for, that people will wish that it would be over, even if it means going to Hell.[xlvii]
· The deeds will be weighed, and those whose good deeds outweigh their evil ones will be successful, and those whose evil deeds outweigh their good ones will be in great loss.[xlviii]
· All mankind will have to pass over a bridge that lies over the Hellfire, and those who were not in the Right Path in this life will find it narrower than a hair, and as a result will fall into the Fire, whereas those who were on the Path of God in this life will find it broad, and will cross over it with the speed of lightning.[xlix]
· God will accept the intercession of whom He wills amongst his pious servants, and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) will be given a special status, based on which he will intercede for all mankind in general and for his nation, in particular. This will be as a result of the Mercy of God and as a bestowal of honor on the Prophet, as a result of his longing for the guidance of all mankind. The Prophet (PBUH) will also be given a well or body of water, called Al-Kawthar, from which he will give the true Muslims to drink, after which they will feel no more thirst.[l]
· The final and eternal destination of each and every human being is either Heaven or Hell. To describe them in the type of detail mentioned in the Qur’an would lengthen this discussion beyond the scope of this booklet, but nevertheless at this junction, two facts are necessary to mention. One is that both Heaven and Hell are material, and those entering it with enter it with their bodies, though the body will be changed, either for beautification, as in the case of the people of Paradise, or for being able to bear the punishment, as in the case of the people of Hell. Secondly, both are eternal, and will never come to an end. However, a believer who is being punished for his evil deeds may complete his term of punishment in the Fire and eventually be admitted into Paradise, by the Grace of God.[li]
With that, we conclude the major articles of the unseen which we must believe in, based on the report that comes to us from the most authentic of sources. Without believing in any of these, one can not be considered a believer, as it would be to deny the Word of God, or the Prophethood of the Prophet (PBUH), which we have already believed in, in the second chapter. This is precisely why I took up the task of showing that Islam does not demand that anyone believe ‘blindly’, in anything, but rather that one understands what he is being asked to believe in, and why he should do it, in a rational manner, as we have done above. However, if anyone still has any doubts, or can not understand something that I have written above, or how I came to a particular conclusion, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try my best to help you out.
[iii] For instance (36:34-40) and (56:58-74)
[xiii] Sahih Bukhari, chapter of Commencement of Revelation, Hadith 3, and other books
[xiv] For instance (66:1) and (80:1-10)
[xxvi] (26:193-194) and (40:15)
[xxviii] (39:71-73) and (74:27-31)
[xlvii] (21:103-105) and (22:1-2)
[l] (19:87), (20:109) and (108:1-3)
[li] (88:8-16), (4:56), (18:107-108) and (43:74-75)