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Dawah and Interfaith

Are God and Islam provable? Reflections on Sura al-Rum

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Are God and Islam Provable: Part 1 | Part 2

By Hamdija Begovic

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Dawah activities as well as introspective reflection on the nature of faith lead the Muslim believer to ponder the relationship between proof and religious belief. We believe, but on what basis? Do we have any proof that God exists and that Islam is the truth? And what, in the first place, constitutes proof?

Mind you, there are different schools of philosophy and all kinds of opinions on what it really means to prove something. Materialists and naturalists will, of course, argue that the scientific, empirical method for determining the truth should always be the name of the game. To turn to empiricism with respect to religion, however, is obviously problematic since the idea of God and spiritual truth is something beyond the material world. To use a method designed for the study of our material world in trying to determine whether an incorporeal, transcendent being exists would be like using a thermometer to measure the height of the ceiling – by definition, the method is unsuited to the task. Considering that philosophers of science constantly quarrel among themselves over what should qualify as legitimate science as opposed to pseudoscience (one may, for instance, mention Karl Popper’s criticism of psychoanalysis), we as Muslims and believers in a Just and Merciful God who gives every human being an equal opportunity to gain guidance have to reject the idea that the truth about Him only may be reached by the elites of the society who are thoroughly educated in the philosophy of science. Education isn’t universally accessible today, and not everyone has time for intellectual pursuits; most of the world’s people are too busy trying to put food on the table. To use sophisticated principles formulated in modern times as a yardstick for finding out the truth (about God, specifically) would put people of a higher socio-economic class at an advantage vis-à-vis the less privileged (and those who lived and died before these modern principles were formulated). Of course, not everyone shares the Muslim belief that God exists and that He is Merciful and Just. The point is, however, that if He exists, and if He is, indeed, Just and Merciful, then the yardstick for finding out the truth about Him would have to be superior to the one we use for finding out truths about the material world in order for everyone, regardless of time and place, to have equal access to that truth. If He exists, that is. But how do we know, then, if He does? What should, then, be used as the yardstick, the criterion for discerning spiritual truth? The answer, dear reader, is to be found in Surah al-Rum.

أَوَلَمْ يَتَفَكَّرُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ

Do they not contemplate within themselves?

***

If a random man stopped me on the street and asked me if I believed in God, my answer would be that I do. If he were then to ask me whether this belief of mine is scientifically verifiable, I would say that the scientific method, since it only deals with the material world, cannot be invoked to determine the matter at hand. In other words, I would say that God’s existence (probably) isn’t scientifically verifiable. He may then ask me if I were sure. Positive, I would reply. But how, he would wonder, can you be sure even though it isn’t scientifically proven? My response would be the following: I know that God exists the same way that I know that murder is wrong. It cannot be scientifically proven that murder is wrong; science doesn’t even deal with that question as it is beyond its domain. Yet, I still believe that murder is wrong. Why? Because it is an innate human belief. In the same way, my entire being screams out a declaration of God’s existence. I simply cannot not believe. I have no doubt that murder is wrong, and I have no doubt about God’s existence. Neither of these two things is scientifically provable, yet I know them to be true. Since God wants guidance for everyone willing to receive it, He already created us with a natural and intuitive inclination towards the truth about Him.  That way, when a prophet comes to us with God’s message, we can immediately recognize it as truth because it will sound intimately familiar to our soul. This means that we are already equipped with the ability for finding out the truth, we already possess said yardstick. It is within us. So when the dhikr (reminder) reaches us, telling us that killing, lying, stealing, etc., are wrong, all we have to do is respond since we already know that it is true. And when the message of tawhid reaches us, we instinctively know that it is true. We know that God exists, we know that He isn’t a human being or in any other way like His creation, and we know that He alone deserves our devotion. This natural human inclination towards truth is called the fitrah.

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ

So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion

The signs are there for us, all of them speaking to our soul. His creation points to His existence. One of His signs is the beauty of love between a man and a woman.

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.

Today, we know all about the physical and chemical reactions that take place in our bodies when we are in love. Yet, the mere notion of love between two people speaks to our soul. Through recognizing the beauty of love, we see the hand of God.

However, the question arises that if the signs of His existence are there for us to recognize, and if we are created with a natural disposition to faith, why doesn’t everyone believe?

يَعْلَمُونَ ظَاهِرًا مِّنَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ عَنِ الْآخِرَةِ هُمْ غَافِلُونَ

They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware.

Obviously, God is hidden from our senses. The Qur’an ridicules the notion that God and His angels should descend to the earth so that people can see them, pointing out that the matter would then be settled, everyone would have to believe, and there would no longer be any wisdom in going through this worldly life as a test. But the question remains, why do some believe while others don’t? We all know that God guides whomever He wills, but what is the factor that brings about God’s guidance?

بَلِ اتَّبَعَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا أَهْوَاءهُم بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ فَمَن يَهْدِي مَنْ أَضَلَّ اللَّهُ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن نَّاصِرِينَ

But those who wrong follow their [own] desires without knowledge. Then who can guide one whom Allah has sent astray? And for them there are no helpers.

We have a choice in life. We can choose to go through it suppressing and smothering this built-in inclination towards truth and following our own desires instead. We can choose to focus on getting the most out of this material world, ignoring and covering our innate recognition of spiritual truth (the term for unbelief, in Arabic, is kufr which literally means covering over). The people who choose this path do not yearn for God’s guidance, and so He leaves them to wander freely in this dark world. Thus, we find some people who ignore their fitrah by denying God. Some ignore it by justifying murder, lying, and thievery. There are others who decide to overrule the impulse to pursue only the material world; instead, these people embrace and celebrate their innate belief in God. The love for Him is simply too strong, and therefore they dedicate their lives to Him. They surrender and submit to Him (and this is what Islam means in Arabic), and so God guides them to His light. When they hear His Words, they instantly recognize them as being true.

وَمَا أَنتَ بِهَادِي الْعُمْيِ عَن ضَلَالَتِهِمْ إِن تُسْمِعُ إِلَّا مَن يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

And you cannot guide the blind away from their error. You will only make hear those who believe in Our verses so they are Muslims [in submission to Allah].

In the afterlife, the delusion of those who chose the wrong path will become apparent to them. And it will be clear that the people of faith, with their consciousness of spiritual matters, possessed the true knowledge.

وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ يُقْسِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ مَا لَبِثُوا غَيْرَ سَاعَةٍ كَذَلِكَ كَانُوا يُؤْفَكُونَ

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ وَالْإِيمَانَ لَقَدْ لَبِثْتُمْ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْبَعْثِ فَهَذَا يَوْمُ الْبَعْثِ وَلَكِنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

And the Day the Hour appears the criminals will swear they had remained but an hour. Thus they were deluded. But those who were given knowledge and faith will say, “You remained the extent of Allah’s decree until the Day of Resurrection, and this is the Day of Resurrection, but you did not used to know.”

Therefore:

فَاصْبِرْ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ وَلَا يَسْتَخِفَّنَّكَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُوقِنُونَ

So be patient. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth. And let them not disquiet you who are not certain [in faith].

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63 Comments

63 Comments

  1. akhan

    March 2, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    Alhamdulillah its true that we have a natural inclination to believe in Allah. But can we really prove the existence of Allah to someone this way? What if someone says ” Well I feel that God does not exist” or “I feel that God exists but I’m not logically convinced”. How should we respond?

    • Hamdija Begovic

      March 2, 2010 at 11:15 AM

      I would personally not spend too much time discussing the issue with such a person. For me, again, it would be like talking to someone who says: “I don’t feel that murder is wrong” or “I feel that murder is wrong but I’m not logically convinced”. You can present to him the rational arguments, but in the end it comes down to how much a person is in touch with his fitrah and wants to be guided to the truth.

      • Torq

        March 2, 2010 at 2:39 PM

        You are right sister. Logic and reason are based on axioms – truths that are accepted and taken for granted without proof, these are based on the fitra, and how our brains are wired. If these self evident truths are not accepted, conversation based on logic alone no longer works. One has to appeal to the fitra, the heart, and try to awaken whatever part of it is left.

      • Ayman

        January 21, 2011 at 11:54 PM

        Assalamulaikum,

        That’s an interesting perspective. However, I’m going to have to disagree here. You cannot paint those who request evidence for the existence of God, and those who find nothing wrong with murder with the same brush. Your premise is: we have a natural inclination to believe in God, just as we are hardwired such that we instinctively feel that murder is wrong.

        Firstly, I should stress that an ideology without God actually has no objective reasons for opposing murder. Most Atheists oppose it due to instinctual reasons, but hardly have convincing philosophical arguments for objective morality without God. Morality and ethics are prescriptive, in that they define how we ought to act, and not merely how we do act. This requires a frame of reference, and in Islam this standard is the morals and laws Allah has revealed through the Qur’an which confirm our intuition.

        Secondly, Atheists who simply request some valid arguments for the existence of God are not unreachable, Inshallah. Islam is a religion of sound reason, and not blind faith. Its premises are entirely provable through logic and reason: the existence of God, the validity of the Qur’an and the truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad’s (p) claim to Prophet hood. I myself am a former Agnostic Atheist, and so it slightly offends me to know that you would not be willing to spend some effort towards providing me with good reasons to believe. It was due to the Mercy of Allah that I was exposed to profound evidence and rational arguments for the existence of God, the inimitability of the Qur’an, and the truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad’s (p) claim to Prophet hood.

        Thirdly, you are right in that logic and reason are rooted in certain premises which we must accept by virtue of our fitrah. For instance, those lost within Kantian philosophy may be incredibly difficult to convince of essential premises. If you can’t agree upon some basic premises with your opponent, it’s meaningless to continue. For instance, if one thinks that humans cannot know anything about reality (radical skepticism), it’d be very difficult to get through to them, as such a person is clearly out of tune with their fitrah.

        However, someone who accepts that one can know things about reality and logic, and are capable of differentiating that which is rational from what is irrational if presented to them clearly (of course, along with some encouragement, understanding, and support) — then I fail to see what is so pointless about discussing with them. It is unrealistic to expect humanity to merely derive the truth about Allah (i.e. He exists, and Islam is the correct religion) simply through intuition, especially in this age. There are plenty of competing and conflicting beliefs and ideologies which cause much confusion. Secularism and all that it entails has caused enormous problems.

        Any other religion could use this line of reasoning: I know my concept of God is right, because I feel it within me. I know my religion is right because I feel it within me. If they are asked how they know that their feeling is right, they will say: (1) “because it just is” or (2) “my Holy Book says so”.

        (1) – This is not a reason, it’s a claim that any other person can make. It does not have validity until you show that your belief is actually true.

        (2) – How do you know your Holy Book is true? Because it says so? This is circular reasoning, you are using your Holy Book’s very claim to prove it’s truth value (i.e. using it to prove itself). The Christians say this, and so do plenty of other religions’ adherents.

        Brilliant Muslim theologians, philosophers and thinkers (and I’m not talking about the ones who went “bad”), formulated and codified profound arguments for Islam. All of this has support in the Qur’an which urges us to reflect upon the creation, and the signs therein. To suggest that this is merely limited to “down to earth” things (please define that) is a limitation of the meaning of the verse, when many call for reflection on the magnificent creation itself.

        The Qur’an also mentions the necessity for a Creator when it rebukes those who think there is none. (1) Either the universe created itself from non-existence or (2) The universe was created out of nothing. Already here, you have plenty of material to refute most Atheists. You just need to elaborate upon the impossibility of an infinite regression and thus an eternal universe, and the irrationality of existence from nothingness or non-existence. Physicists refer to nothingness in a specific context, which should be noted. They do not mean literally nothingness, but rather a quantum vacuum.

        With Peace,

        Ayman

        – edited. Pls note we r not interested in advertising the works of the shaykh you keep linking to or his binge on Wahhabi bashing. Also we r not interested in a Salafi/ashari flameout… U may not mean that but that’s what it will lead to.

        • Ayman

          January 22, 2011 at 5:58 PM

          Assalamulaikum,

          I just wanted to give a quick response to the editorial note. I apologize if linking to Shaykh Abu Adam’s site was seen as potentially leading to an Ashari/Salafi flame out. Please note that this was not my intention, as most of such debates are often fueled by bias, and at times distance fellow Muslims from one another.

          I simply wanted to emphasize that Islam is a religion of sound reason, and the Shaykh demonstrates this in one article where arguments for Islam are presented.

          Another very important point to mention is how often people may respond emotionally or defensively when they feel attacked. Some may have developed a closeness to Islam through rational investigation confirming their belief, while others may have simply trusted Islam from the start. And so, when it is pointed out that such and such method is not the best way etc. the person who is emotionally attached to a certain way (based on their experiences) may feel attacked. I think its important to emphasize that a Muslim is more complete when they have experienced both of these aspects – to think rationally, and to experience that wonderful spiritual sensation that warms the self from the core. For me — I have come to trust my fitrah and spiritual healing and cleansing of salaat and remembrance of God, but because I know I have valid reasons for accepting Islam.

          Humans are far less rational than they are willing to admit. This is clear when you debate Atheists online. Some bully those who are intellectually “inferior” and don’t know their stuff, or they argue stubbornly without acknowledging their errors, despite how much evidence you present. When they know that they are up against someone who knows their stuff, often they simply retreat as you’re simply another youtuber or whatever, thousands of km away. However, in person — when you actually have a close friendship with an Atheist, things are different because of the emotional connection. They are more willing to listen and consider your arguments, because you are a friend. But think about this – had they really been entirely rational, wouldn’t they simply accept the evidence without needing a personal relationship to help facilitate understanding and tolerance? But of course, people often only change for emotional reasons, and not logical reasons (i.e. they need some sort of inspirational boost, or tragic event to change them).

          With Peace,

          Ayman

          • Ayman

            January 22, 2011 at 6:03 PM

            And of course, I should mention that this article was definitely a thought-provoker, and was well written!

          • Mantiki

            January 22, 2011 at 9:43 PM

            An intelligent argument Ayman.

            Being a believer in One God, I find creationist arguments reasonably persuasive. But I’ve never considered them irrefutable. As much as the Earth seems tailor made to produce intelligent life, there are many arguments that can be used to refute it. Firstly we keep finding life in increasingly hostile environments on Earth. Life exists where temperatures are hotter, pressures are greater and in the absence of oxygen or water. It seems entirely possible that it exists through the universe in many different forms.

            Secondly, even if we refer to the physical laws we have discovered, it is not certain that these are constant. Only a few weeks ago, an Australian scientist theorised that many of the anomalous findings in astrophysics could be explicable if there was an undiscovered variable particle. The mysteries would fall neatly into place if currently perceived Newtonian laws were variable across space rather than constant everywhere. This would mean that pockets of life friendly and life hostile environments exist throughout the universe.

            Of course there are the traditional arguments against God’s existence which are also irrefutable. Why is it necessary for the universe to have been created while there is no explanation for God? Did he just float about in infinite loneliness for eternity before deciding to create our universe?

            The only convincing arguments for God IMO (as I outlined yesterday) are based in perception of God available to many, and, the inexplicability of consciousness by materialism.

          • Ayman

            January 23, 2011 at 9:17 PM

            Assalamulaikum,

            Mantiki, thanks for your response! Personally, fine-tuning of the universe is an argument I would appeal to instead of the apparent fine-tuning of the earth. The reasoning being, the fine-tuning of the physical constants of the universe itself is what leads to this specific configuration of the universe. Hamza Andreas Tzortzis elaborates upon this here: http://hamzatzortzis.blogspot.com/2010/05/argument-from-design-video-introduction.html

            Essentially, he argues that the fine-tuning is either due to: a) physical necessity b) chance or c) design (i.e. their was intent behind it all, and so it’s not simply a blind, mechanical and impersonal process/reality which is the basis of this universe).

            Furthermore, the argument from fine-tuning isn’t the only argument. There is also the argument developed by brilliant Muslim theologians and philosophers related to the necessity of a beginning of this universe, due to the fact that there are changes we observe, and specification of created things. If the universe was eternal, then there would be an infinite set of past events and changes. However, had this been true you would run into the problem of an infinite regression which is an impossibility. Even the famous mathematician David Hilbert stated that an actual infinity. An actual Infinite in this context refers to “a set which has an infinite number of definite and discreet finite particulars” (William Lane Craig). I’m not sure if I’m allowed to link to the specific Shaykh’s site (whom I have been linking to), however, if I get permission I can point you to his article which elaborates upon these arguments. So, based on this we know that the universe must have had a beginning.

            If it had a beginning, then it must have been brought into existence by something separate from it (this separation doesn’t have to mean a physical or spatial sort of separation, as there was not material or physical reality beyond the universe; it simply means something that is not the universe). By universe, I mean the sum of all matter, or perhaps a better definition would be: everything other than Allah/God.

            Furthermore, there are also convincing arguments for why this cause of the universe must be Aware or “Conscious” (i.e. not simply mechanical or impersonal, but rather a Being that has a Will). I won’t get into those here unless requested.

            In addition, you have solid arguments for the validity of the Qur’an which can be verified through its falsification test (i.e. the challenge that it issues). The Qur’an’s inimitable nature verifies its source (i.e. it could not have come from a human being). For a detailed set of arguments, visit this link: http://www.theinimitablequran.com/

            The objectivity of this argument is also elaborated upon here: http://hamzatzortzis.blogspot.com/2009/01/questions-how-does-qurans-uniqueness.html

            This also demonstrates the truthfulness of the Prophet’s claim to Prophet hood.

            As for the objections you’ve raised as examples of potential counter arguments, I’ll address them:

            1) I’ve already elaborated upon why its necessary for the universe to require an explanation – because it doesn’t explain itself. It is only intrinsically possible in existence (i.e. its existence is not necessary as it has a beginning, and it can cease to exist). God does not require an explanation. This is like asking who created God? It’s a logical fallacy. If God is defined as intrinsically necessary, and His necessity has been established to be logically necessary, than there is no reason why He needs an explanation. This is also in harmony with Occam’s razor which seeks to eliminate explanations which themselves require explanations beyond necessity. The simplest option is the way to go. God also has no beginning which is why He needs no explanation.

            2) “Did He just float about in infinite loneliness before deciding to create…”
            Firstly, God does not “float”, as that is a concept relevant to physical bodies/objects within a space where you can float – but I get that you may mean this as a figure of speech ;). Secondly, you’re assuming that there is time as we experience it for God. We experience time in sequential order, passing by. Who’s to say this is how it is for God? This is assuming a linear version of time, however, in basic 11th grade physics you learn that even within our own universe time relative as shown by Einstein’s equations. For an elaboration of this, refer to the twin paradox model in physics. Finally, God’s “choices” and “decisions” thereby do not come into existence from a point of non-existence (i.e. they do not have a beginning in time). In simplest terms, there was no point during which God was without the knowledge of creating (i.e. He is absolutely all-knowing).

            Inshallah, I’ll be studying neuroscience in university next year. Why? You pointed out one important reason: the materialistic world understands very little about consciousness, far less than we should by now (had scientists freed themselves from refraining from scientific “taboos” and their biases).

          • Mantiki

            January 26, 2011 at 3:45 AM

            Thanks Ayman

            enjoyed your latest quote. I followed up on your weblink as to the arguments for the Qu’ran being the word of God. Argument 1 was, “The Qur’an could not have come from an Arab as the Arabs, at the time of revelation, were linguists par excellence and they failed to challenge the Qur’an. They had even admitted that the Qur’an could have not come from a human being.” I thought that Mohammed experienced substantial resistance from his fellow Arabs for many years?

            I have to say though that on the occasions that I have heard the Qu’ran read, it sounds hauntingly beautiful. Additionally, the revelatory events the Prophet experienced have a ring of consistency with the Bible and I can see no fundamental problems with God choosing to reveal Himself in a way that is meaningful to the Arabs of the 7th century and beyond, given their reluctance to accept Jewish or Christian interpretations at the time.

            I still remain unconvinced that either atheists or creationists have a foolproof argument. For a time, I was convinced that the seemingly complete evolution of various complex organs could not have occurred by random natural selection but more recent arguments are more persuasive in that the components seem to have as their origins other parts of the body.

            One of my son’s has completed neuroscience at uni. I have to say, I was blown away by the complexity of neurons and their operation. You will find it fascinating and miraculous despite the materialist bias of texts.

            In the end, belief comes down to faith and experience of which I’m satisfied that God exists and is involved in humanity.

            Best wishes to you

  2. Muslim Girl

    March 2, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    Great article, mA. Love the reasoning that science does not deal with God’s existence, just like murder can’t be proven “scientifically wrong.” I never thought about it in that way before!

  3. Abdul Sattar

    March 2, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    salam,

    What if someone were to respond:

    “Murder isn’t ‘wrong’. Wrong is just a word referring to the idea that murder is simply something we as a group of individuals have chosen to create:

    1. A strong number of consequences against.
    2. A strong taboo against.

    In order to preserve our own social, resource, and biological well-being – the objectives of any animal . If we had not done so, our own lives would constantly be under threat of violence, and this would not allow us to function.

    Essentially, humans consider murder wrong, because we are looking out for our own individual interests, and this aggregates to a collective interest of protecting life.

    Often times, when a human being has enough power to not have to worry about protecting his own life (i.e. leader of the state), you often see him using it to murder, take life, and imprison, because this self-preservation is no longer a concern for him. Within limits, he can do what he wants without consequences, so it is not ‘wrong’ to him, only to the rest of us.
    ———————————

    This is likely what the athiest would do, reduce what you have termed as “wrong” down to a result biological/animal self-preservation, which is entirely a valid explanation I think, even though we believe all of this is divinely engineered.

    Although I love the rest of your article, including seeing the signs of Allah (swt), observing Mercy in creation, etc; I am not sure if the murder/morals argument stands on its own. I may be wrong.

    wAllahu ‘alam.
    Abdul Sattar

    • Hamdija Begovic

      March 2, 2010 at 11:30 AM

      Well, even those who would reduce morals to self-preservation can’t say that human beings develop the feeling that murder is wrong after having pondered the consequences of murder to society. The actual feeling that murder is repungnant comes naturally, not as a result of logical thinking. Logical and rational thinking merely reinforces that initial innate feeling. So I would not buy the argument that it is something we’ve “chosen to create”. However, the argument can be made that this feeling that murder is wrong developed through evolutionary processes. My point with the article, however, is that neither the question of murder being right/wrong, or the question of God’s existence can be proven empirically. Rationally, yes. But the issue is beyond empirical science. We know these truths (murder is wrong, God exists) independently of it. That is because they are crucial, and the knowledge of them has been placed in us by God.

  4. 'Uthmaan

    March 2, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    Of course it’s provable! It’s evident from the miraculous nature of the Qur’an that: 1. Allah exists and 2. The Qur’an is a revelation from Allah (and therefore Islam is true).

    But the question is; how many Muslims know and understand the miraculous nature of the Qur’an? Br. Hamza Andreas Tzortzis made this excellent website: http://www.theinimitablequran.com/ which is dedicated to explaining the literary aspect of the Qur’an’s miraculous nature (and he blogs here: http://hamzatzortzis.blogspot.com/). Sheikh Yasir also has an excellent chapter in his book An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an which deals with this and other aspects of the Qur’an’s miraculous nature.

    After understanding that the Qur’an is a miracle (and HOW it is a miracle), one cannot be in any doubt that the Qur’an is divine in origin and, by extension, a divine being (Allah) exists.

    • Hamdija Begovic

      March 2, 2010 at 11:46 AM

      Notice that I tossed in the word “probably” after saying that God’s existence isn’t empirically provable.

      Before one could determine whether or not the miraculous nature of the Qur’an is empirically observable, one would have to define miraculous speech. And I’m not sure that such a thing can be done because that is subjective. Of course, the Qur’an touches our soul and through that we know that it is God’s Words, but I’m not sure that it is something that can be determined through empirical science.

      However, I never said that the only way to prove something is through empirical science. There is rational proof as well.

      • 'Uthmaan

        March 2, 2010 at 12:46 PM

        JazakAllah Khayr for the reply but I would beg to differ in regards to your point about the miraculous nature of the Qur’an being subjective. If you check out the links Inshaa’Allah, you will see that it is based entirely on objective criteria. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Qur’anic challenge:

        “And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah , if you should be truthful. But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” [2:23-24]

        Allah is basically saying here that, if you cannot produce a Surah the like thereof, then you should be in no doubt that the Qur’an comes from Allah. The reason why it is not possible to “produce a Surah the like thereof” is because of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. A miracle is defined (as Br. Hamza Tzortzis explains) as “an event which lies outside the productive capacity of nature”. The reason why the Qur’an is a miracle is because it lies beyond the productive capacity of the nature of the Arabic language. It is neither prose, nor is it poetry (the only two literary forms available in the Arabic language). It has a completely unique literary form, linguistic genre and is unmatched in terms of the frequency with which it uses rhetorical features. Note that uniqueness and frequency of rhetorical features are both objective criteria.

        There are tonnes of other aspects which I don’t have time to go into but please please check out the links that I mentioned. Unfortunately, it is all too common for Muslims not to be aware of how exactly the Qur’an is a miracle and wallaahi there is objective proof in the miracle of the Qur’an that it originates from Allah.

        • 'Uthmaan

          March 2, 2010 at 1:00 PM

          In my haste, I forgot to mention that it’s a great article you wrote Mashaa’Allah.

      • Sayf

        March 2, 2010 at 4:48 PM

        I think some clarification needs to be done as to what empirical science is. Drawing conclusions from observation and testable hypotheses, that’s it. Science is not about reasonable, down-to-earth explanations for everything at all. I don’t know why that very unscientific philosophy is being pushed around so much and why people have extrapolated the very basic idea of science so far off.

        With that being said, Allah subhana wat’ala constantly directs us to observe and observe. And also we are challenged and given falsifiable hypotheses (ie “produce another chapter”, “bring back the dead”, “bring sun from west”) to test and to draw conclusions from which bring us to the truth.

        All of this is scientific by definition, so to say “probably isn’t scientifically provable” doesn’t fit at all.

      • Ayman

        January 21, 2011 at 11:57 PM

        Assalamulaikum,

        In fact Brother Hamza Andreas Tzortzis touches upon this very objection (i.e. the miraculous nature is merely subjective):

        http://hamzatzortzis.blogspot.com/2009/01/questions-how-does-qurans-uniqueness.html

        • Mantiki

          January 22, 2011 at 4:27 AM

          Interesting article and comments. I rather favour the explanation that, “The Qur’an ridicules the notion that God and His angels should descend to the earth so that people can see them, pointing out that the matter would then be settled, everyone would have to believe, and there would no longer be any wisdom in going through this worldly life as a test.” I would probably regard life more as a learning experience than a test which implies that we can “fail or pass”.

          What the article and comments fail to take into account is that many many people actually have directly experienced God through meditation and prayer. I have done so through the latter method. Neither is scientifically provable, though these days, brain scans CAN identify that brainwaves and chemical processes are different during prayer, meditation and spiritual experiences. To the atheist, this merely reinforces that the brain is the originating generator of a subjective experience that only “appears” to originate apart from the brain. From what I read, it seems that most Muslims would agree with atheists and believe that such experiences are not to be trusted and are probably misleading or even evil. This would include near death experiences where people whose hearts have stopped and brains apparently ceased producing signs of electrical activity, experience calm, go through a life review and judgement, meet dead relatives and spiritual beings and feel the presence of God.

          I believe in the validity of near death spiritual experiences. They appear to occur when the brain is inactive, they seem rational, memorable and hyper-real (unlike hallucinations). And they are consistent with the idea of a loving God and meaningful earthly existence.

          The other phenomenon which points to the existence of God is the phenomenon of consciousness. Try as I might, I can’t conceive that the interaction of matter, energy and chemical activity can produce this thing which is unlike each of those 3 things. The study of consciousness is a serious and intensely studied subject these days, but despite enormous strides in neuroscience and artificial intelligence, proponents of physically based consciousness remain unable to prove their belief. While not “proving” God, the idea of consciousness as a unique property separate from physical reality is entirely consistent with that of a non-physical infinite Consciousness which we identify as “GOD” or the other 109 names. (The idea that there is a finite number of names for God seems a bit silly and irrelevant to me).

          • Daughter of Adam (AS)

            January 22, 2011 at 6:12 PM

            Harun Yahya- adnane oktar- wrote extensively about the miracle of consciousness that you comment upon.

          • Mantiki

            January 22, 2011 at 9:57 PM

            Thanks Daughter of Adam. I’ve had a look at Harun. It would be helpful if he referred to more recent science than the 1970s and 80s. So much has happened since then.

            There are of course arguments against the independence of consciousness from matter. Most of them boil down to easily demonstrated degradation of mental capacity following brain injury or drug effects. These troubled me for a time but I now explain them by separating consciousness from intelligence. Thus you may suffer incapacity in function and memory while still remaining vividly “conscious” of your own existence. Where consciousness seems to disappear -for example through sleep or general anaesthesia, this is either because memories are not laid down or that the mind itself has been released temporarily from its location in spacetime to rejoin the brain when conditions allow / attract its return.

          • Daughter of Adam (AS)

            January 23, 2011 at 12:43 AM

            in order to reply to your question, I have to say that if I look at information that is written with the intention to prove God, I don’t find it quite so interesting any more because it was enough proof for me to understand 1), the non-scientific-ness of the theory of evolution- which meant that there certainly had to be another explanation for the existence of the universe and particularly human life, and 2) to read ahmed deedat’s short booklet “the qur’an: miracle of miracles”..
            when you look at the Qur’aan, there’s no other explanation for it but God.
            also, a vital vital concept here- basically, there are 3 main sources of knowledge. 1) the five senses 2) human intellect/reason. 3) divine revelation. when each of these sources reaches its limit, you move to the next one. for example, you might smell/feel/touch an apple, but the five senses can’t tell you how it got there. you use your intellect to realize that it was bought from a store. just as you can’t use your nose to hear, when we try to apply our intellect beyond its capacity it just won’t work. this is the modern problem of law, morality, etc. we try to determine the appropriate punishment for theft, murder, etc., but we will never reach a global “correct’ answer for this, because we are applying our intellect where it won’t work anymore. whatever God has related to us in revelation about laws etc is what we could NOT determine using just our own intellect. this does not necessarily mean it won’t make sense to us.
            Now, all of that relates because God told us that the knowledge of the soul was with Him and did not describe it in detail in the Qur’aan, so I am not truly interested in all that about consciousness because my main purpose, determining the existence of God, was already fulfilled and I have submitted myself to fact that the wisdom of God is absolute. If He said I didn’t need to know about the soul in the Qur’aan, I don’t. Also, if the knowledge is with Him, I know that no matter how far we advance in science or wtv, no one will ever reach true understanding of “consciousness” – IF it really has to do with the soul, so I’m not interested in studying something that I know will never be confirmed. Therefore I am not entirely sure if I agree or disagree with your statement on consciousness- I haven’t studied it.

          • Ayman

            January 24, 2011 at 11:46 AM

            Very interesting points!

            I must interject and state that humans certainly can pass or fail. They fail by failing to live by truth ;). These truths have obvious proofs for their validity, and plenty of messengers and revelations have been sent to confirm these truths. There is also our experiences, intuition, and logic and reason which all confirm the essentials of these truths (i.e. there is One God, the Qur’an is the Word of God).

            I don’t think its accurate at all to say that Muslims find profound spiritual events to be untrustworthy. The very opposite in fact, as their are many accounts of powerful visions pious Muslims have had, in which they found answers to queries, or inspiration to face their struggles. Some even saw the future (i.e. instances of precognition).

            As a Muslim, I myself fully accept these phenomena as evidence of a higher reality. However, it is difficult to use this as evidence for those who have not yet experienced them. Secondly, I would never use the “warm feeling” one gets during prayer as evidence either, because adherents of other faiths can have these kinds of feelings too. I would rather present logical arguments connected to sound premises, and thus valid conclusions. All of these would support Islam, after which I would know that my subjective feelings during prayer (i.e. warmth, and trust) all had objective value (i.e. the Islamic prayer was indeed how God actually commanded humans to pray).

            However, if an individual has a dream of an alleged future incident they had no prior knowledge of or even concern towards, and then it comes true — then this has some pretty enormous implications. It definitely shows that the conventional understanding of consciousness is flawed. Near death experiences, if they can be verified, would have similar profound implications.

            As for consciousness – I’ll be studying Neuroscience (and Neurobiology) soon, and until then I’m still just a layman in the field. However, based on my extensive reading, their are many different interpretations of consciousness and its implications. Some people are dualists and believe that their is an interdependence between the material brain/body and consciousness (the body being the medium through which this consciousness emerges or is observable). So any damage to the physical body would naturally affect the consciousness of a person (as observed by external observers). But, this is just one interpretation, and not necessarily one I subscribe to.

            The Atheists who think that consciousness is merely a by-product of the material brain have a lot of explaining to do. This view isn’t the simplest view, and complicates things immensely. As per Occam’s razor, you should go with the best explanation, and this is usually the neatest, tidiest, and simplest one. In this case, it would be the existence of an All-Aware God. I’ll link you to another one of Hamza’s articles where he elaborates upon the “self”: http://hamzatzortzis.blogspot.com/2009/12/reflections-on-self.html

            Nonetheless, the earlier arguments I’ve presented (i.e. the beginning of the universe, therefore requiring it a Creator etc.) all suffice to show the existence of God. Unless someone demonstrates a) the premise is false or b) the logical connections are faulty, then the conclusions are inevitably sound.

            With Peace,

            Ayman

          • Mantiki

            January 26, 2011 at 4:14 AM

            Hi Ayman

            just realised I did not address the other point you made; “I would never use the “warm feeling” one gets during prayer as evidence either, because adherents of other faiths can have these kinds of feelings too.” I have to say that this goes beyond “warm feelings”. And the fact that other faiths and meditators experience these peak spiritual experiences points to a God that goes beyond our own religious boundaries.

            My own experience some decades back, was specifically Christian. At the time, I was 19 years old and had become agnostic and toying with total atheism. Some Christian friends invited me to pray for forgiveness in Jesus name, asking specifically to receive the “Holy Spirit”. Well it was all gobblygook to me so I agreed with the specific intention of telling them the next day that their God and Jesus was rubbish and an empty promise. So that night, in the privacy of my own bedroom, I went through the motions of praying for forgiveness. I think I was even smirking. Nothing happened at first, so instead I thought what a step I’d made. Next I started feeling empty and that the universe was really a cold and empty place. Without really thinking I started praying again with feeling. I was desperate suddenly and in tears. As I completed the same prayer this time with sincerity (please Jesus take away my sins and send the Holy Spirit), I suddenly felt an enormous weight lifted from my mind. At the same time, a Presence filled my room and I literally felt like I was in an ocean of hot Love. I heard no words, but I felt an ASSURANCE that I was LOVED and not to worry any more – that God was with me always. Now my tears turned from despair to gratitude. My doubts were blown away for ever.

            I still don’t enjoy Church much and dislike many Christian hypocrites. Christianity makes no sense to me but I have to honour the way God chose to reveal Himself to me.

            I’ve also had a variety of psychic experiences but to me, these are simply a sign that our world is more complex and closer to a broader spiritual reality than we realise.

            May you find God on your own path mate!

  5. Farooq

    March 2, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    Interesting perspective. Scientific measurements can not proof God exists however the science of logic does. Even the founders of logic believed in a creator if I am not mistaken. Yes thinking and contemplating and searching for the truth unbiasedly will lead one to Islam because of verses like you quoted and many others.

    • Sayf

      March 2, 2010 at 4:53 PM

      We have measured many, many fundamental constants in physics very precisely. And we have also found out that if they differed by even the tiniest amount the universe could not exist, period. Is this observation not proof among many, many other proofs/signs? And is this proof not scientifically measured?

  6. Aaresh

    March 2, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    As mentioned above, this is an interesting perspective and one that I have never considered before. By profession I use my mind and view things according to the ‘scientific method’. I had to mentally deprogram myself to accept and learn about the soul which is another entity that is not easily characterized or provable. I have always found comfort in the following verse:

    “Say: “Of your ‘partners’ can anyone originate creation and repeat it?” Say: It is Allah Who begins creation and repeats it: Then why are you deceived away (from the truth)?”” (10:34)

  7. Siraaj

    March 2, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Salaam alaykum,

    Jzk for this article – great reminder of the importance of daw’ah – without teaching and spreading islam, the majority of people will not return to their fitrah for the answers, but to what family and society dictates is “right” and “wrong”.

    Siraaj

  8. Torq

    March 2, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    There is also a danger of falling into the “belief in God is in my heart”. The point is it makes sense, is logical, and quite obvious from the wonder of creation around us that it is not that result of purposeless blind accidents, rather it is from a plan and design.

    I agree the fitra trumps all, but empirical evidence plays a strong part, the Quran constantly points to the world around us and its harmony as a sign of God. The problem is this empirical reasoning is not independent of the fitra. Some will see the wonder of the world, and say “what a great universe, we are lucky to be here”, and thank inanimate matter and chance rather than acknowledge God. Their fitra is simply distorted.

    Logic itself is based on axioms that find their root in the fitra. For instance, there is not “logical reason” to trust our senses, they could be just a dream, or our brains hooked up to a machine – Matrix style. But it is simply in our innate nature not to believe that, and to trust our senses.

    In the end, you have to use all in conjunction to find truth – and guidance comes from God. The Human being subhanAllah is a complex entity. May God guide us all.

  9. Ali

    March 3, 2010 at 3:45 AM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Thank you for this lucid, practical piece, written with a sure-footed confidence that only iman can engender in a believer. It is one of the articles on MM that I have benefited the most from.

    The miraculous tapestry of Quran makes every ayah and every part of an ayah an elucidation of every other ayah and surah and the lessons within them, so there are many other ayahs that directly support the points you have made or are miraculously related to the ayahs you have quoted from surah rum, being different but never contradicting. Spend some time with the ayahs 13:14-13:19, or, indeed, all of Surah Ra’d, and reflect on them in the context of what you have written here.

    I hope to remember these three points from your article and comments, and use them in my dawah efforts when needed:

    To use a method designed for the study of our material world in trying to determine whether an incorporeal, transcendent being exists would be like using a thermometer to measure the height of the ceiling – by definition, the method is unsuited to the task.

    But how, he would wonder, can you be sure [Allah exists] even though it isn’t scientifically proven? My response would be the following: I know that God exists the same way that I know that murder is wrong.

    I would personally not spend too much time discussing the issue with such a person [as would dare say ‘well, I feel that God does not exist’]. For me, again, it would be like talking to someone who says: “I don’t feel that murder is wrong” or “I feel that murder is wrong but I’m not logically convinced”.

    Jazakumullahu khairan

  10. Aurora

    March 3, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    JazakAllahu khairan… That was really beneficial, Alhamdulillah.

  11. Abd- Allah

    March 3, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    JazakumAllah khayr for this article.

    Personally, I find that the best answer to such question that some might ask about how do you know that God exists, is what a Bedouin once answered when he was asked that question. The Bedouin said that if the presence of droppings are evidence that the camel exists, and the footprints are evidence that some one walked through this path, then isn’t such skies and earth evidence of the existence of the Almighty who is acquainted with all things ?!

    I don’t think that any person does not know deep down inside of him that Allah does exist, but some people just deny it when inside of them they are aware of the truth.

    (And they rejected those Signs in iniquity and arrogance, though their souls were convinced thereof: so see what was the end of those who acted corruptly!) 027.014

    • Scott

      March 4, 2010 at 7:07 PM

      Those kind of arguments seem to only work for people who already believe. The atheist, of course, would say, “The skies and earth are evidence of such and such natural phenomenon.” Cue big bang and natural law talk. Similarly they might say, “These droppings MIGHT be from a camel. They might be something else, they might be rocks which appear to look like camel droppings.” Droppings are not proof of anything.

      In the case of camel droppings, one can simply find a camel and observe it doing its business. You cannot observe God–Himself–creating the earth and skies. The problem with atheists is they have explanations for why things happened. You can attribute it to God, or you can attribute it to natural selection, big bang, such and such science law, Planck time, etc etc (how quickly I get into topics I know nothing about!)

      Atheists say, and I have heard them say this, “There is no proof God, nor is there any proof of interstellar pink unicorns. So why not believe in interstellar pink unicorns?”

      • Abd- Allah

        March 4, 2010 at 7:40 PM

        You cannot observe God–Himself–creating the earth and skies.

        We can say to the atheists exactly what they say, that you cannot observe the big bang/natural selection/evolution, and yet you believe in it, so maybe the atheists should also believe in interstellar pink unicorns!

        Back to this verse, the atheists just like the rest of the disbelievers, they do not believe in Allah because they choose not to, and not because they don’t know that Allah exists!

        (And they rejected those Signs in iniquity and arrogance, though their souls were convinced thereof: so see what was the end of those who acted corruptly!) 027.014

      • Sayf

        March 6, 2010 at 3:59 PM

        First of all, we have to drop the notion that explaining how something works takes away from the power of Allah subhana wat’ala. This is a very christian mentality that you only attribute something in nature to Allah only when you can’t explain it. In the Qur’an, Allah describes many natural processes but it is still completely attributed to Him.

        Secondly, atheists don’t actually have scientific explanations for how the universe is created. What do I mean by this?

        *Disclaimer: I’m taking these theories to the maximum possible extent of their explanatory power if they were hypothetically accurate (which I have my doubts about).

        Evolution –> No scientist on the planet has any scientific way of explaining how the first cell was created. Remember that experiment on synthesizing amino acids (nowhere close to a cell) from primordial stew? Even that was found to be bogus.

        Big Bang –> No scientist can explain why the big bang even happened. Even more remarkable, the scientific constants (gravity, electricity, strong/weak nuclear force etc) are ridiculously precise, in that if they were changed a tiny bit the universe could not exist, and this is one among many precise natural phenomenon that are just right to allow for life.

        What I find ironic and down-right hilarious, is that when an atheist tries to explain these origins, they are taking exactly the unscientific and baseless leaps of faith they are so vocal against. So what’s the difference between they’re explanations and our explanations? Here’s the punch line – we have proof! So let’s start talking about the Qu’ran and the Prophet sual Allahu alayhi wasalam, and one can see how Islam is armed with logic and proof (on top of the power of fitrah), while atheism is based on conjectures, irrationality and gigantic leaps-of-faith.

        Ah, the irony.

        • Hamdija Begovic

          March 6, 2010 at 11:13 PM

          Those points about evolution and the big bang are remarkable and one would of course consider them to be signs of God’s existence. But to really appreciate them one would have to have at least a basic knowledge of the physical sciences. And this knowledge isn’t availible to everyone today, nor has it, for obvious reasons, been through history. And that’s why I think that it is almost kind of redundant, really, to invoke sophisticated scientific facts (as opposed to down-to-earth observations about the nature around us) or complex philosophical arguments to try and prove God’s existence. It isn’t really necessary since human beings believe in God by default; all one has to do, in dawah, is to appeal to that natural human belief in Him. At least at the basic level of dawah. Now, for someone who wants to delve into the issue a bit deeper, then your points about evolution and the big bang are wonderful (so I’m not disagreeing with you). But God’s existence is equally known to us without science or complex philosophical arguments in favor of it.

          • Sayf

            March 7, 2010 at 12:38 AM

            Oh, I couldn’t agree more! But when people start bringing the overestimated science card to the table, it’s gotta be addressed. The problem these days is the average person has so many misunderstanding about Islam, and so many misunderstandings about science, you just get a jumble of strange beliefs popping up. As a muslim scientist, you could imagine how many times I’ve had to say “actually, that’s not what ___ says”

            But, as you could probably tell, I have a fun time shedding some light on things. :P

        • Scott

          March 7, 2010 at 12:45 AM

          I’m curious how the primordial soup theory was found to be bogus. Granted I tend to stay away from evolution arguments, cause I don’t have 12 Ph.Ds in biology so I quickly run into territory where I have no idea what’s being said. However, after a little research, I see that with the primordial soup theory, scientists in the 50s were able to create amino acids in a laboratory by mimicking what they thought were early earth conditions (Miller-Urey experiment).
          This, at least, seems to reinforce their position, not declare it bogus. Did they create life? No, but they could be on their way.
          As for the big bang, and this may just be playing semantics, no scientist would explain why anything happened. They just say how–but I think that’s what you meant. :)

          They do seem to put a lot of faith into their theories though. They will often just cite the anthropic principle–the idea that, that we are here to even ask why we are here is proof that it happened (because we are here to ask). This of course requires as much “blind faith” as anything else they ridicule.

          • Abd- Allah

            March 7, 2010 at 12:49 AM

            Did they create life? No, but they could be on their way.

            If they ever get there, please let me know!

          • Sayf

            March 7, 2010 at 11:09 AM

            The Miller-Urey experiment has a number of problems, and there have been a number of arguments in the scientific community, this article can give you the jist of it:
            http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/site/content/view/51/65/
            In all honesty, there is a lot more science to both sides of this, but the way I’ve seen it represented as “able to create amino acids in a laboratory by mimicking what they thought were early earth conditions” is very oversimplified and misleading to the general public, and thus bogus.

            On top of that, amino acids are far, far, far off from a living cell, which was the main idea of my point, that evolution at best has no scientific proof for the origin of life, so it’s back to conjectures. (the miller-urey experiment is a bit of a tangent that I went on)

            As for the big bang, we’re playing word-games lol. I was referring to the lack of scientific evidence for how the big bang occured (i.e. what caused the big bang) and thus what caused the origin of the universe, so once again, it gets back to conjectures when we’re talking about the true meat of the matter.

      • Ayman Hasad

        March 9, 2010 at 12:02 AM

        Greetings Scott!

        Interesting points, although I believe they are more applicable to a mainstream Christian concept of God.

        “These droppings MIGHT be from a camel. They might be something else, they might be rocks which appear to look like camel droppings.”

        However, it must be noted that a Camel is physiologically, something very specific. This is where this mainstream stereotypical concept of God comes into play. You see, it is harder to conclude that certain droppings originated from camels, than to say that the knowable universe is casually entailed by God [Aha, however, this depends on the CONCEPT of God, I’ll get to that].

        Why? Simply because in the natural world, there are MANY equally plausible explanations for why certain droppings exist (i.e. other animals are equally capable of expelling droppings). It would require a) [as you stated] observing the camel do its stuff or b) study the fecal matter, its DNA etc. and then make a conclusion. In both cases, empirical methods are being directly used.

        However, this is not true for, ex. determining if one had a great grandfather who lived in the 13th century. You do not need to “observe” this grandfather, nor any parts of the causal chain (other relatives). As you know that in order for you to exist, you needed one. This requires only logic it seems.

        Now, as for God, the mainstream concept depicts an invisible magical man up in the sky – an anthropomorphic being. As such, it is also harder then, to attribute the universe’s existence to such an entity. Such specifications and attributes added onto a concept of God, would, in mathematical terms (probability) reduce the likelihood of this kind of God being the “cause” OR require equally adequate “proof.”

        Here is where Islam differs. God in Islam, is essentially the Embodiment of the Laws that Govern Reality. Now this, at first sight may seem like a “vague” definition, but that’s exactly the case. In Islam, the idea of over-personifying “God” is foreign. We know that the physical reality does not explain itself, and is contingent upon certain laws. The question only remains is, is it within the nature of this Law to encompass some intrinsic consciousness (and thus being different from a set of lifeless, mechanical laws).

        This does not mean, however, that this sort of “consciousness” must be humanistic in any way. I believe, using Occam’s Razor, that it is simpler to attribute such a universe – containing such finely tuned constants – to a Law (i.e. a unification of the laws that govern reality) that had, within its nature, the quality of Creating (i.e. He intended all this, as it is a part of His nature), as opposed to a set of mechanical laws lacking “conscious will”.

        As such, there’s a major difference between the Islamic concept of God, and interstellar pink unicorns. The obvious being – they DO exist in the physical temporal realm. Thus, demanding empirical proof for their existence is completely valid. Not so for this concept of God.

        Think of it this way: We KNOW there is a Universe, however, we have never seen the whole entity (and frankly cannot grasp it all at once, as we could for ex. a book). We have merely perceived tiny components of it, and some (I think is determined by the physics and math: conceptually, in a mathematical way). Therefore, does the universe as a whole exist? Well of course it does, however, different lines of thinking allow us to conclude this. Observationally, we can only “see” that we are encompassed by some sort of greater being.

        Btw, this is what I mean by the – KNOWABLE universe (the components we can comprehend).

        • Ayman Hasad

          March 9, 2010 at 12:09 AM

          Let me also add:

          The personal attributes of God – the Most-Merciful, the Compassionate etc. are not to be confused with the “humanistic” expressions. That is to say, God does not have any humanistic “emotions”. Thus, although the Islamic concept of God has a stable definition, it does not over personify God nor does the believer seek to “know” God in personal terms (as in Christianity).

          This is not to say that a Muslim is not to develop a profound spiritual connection with God, rather that his/her knowledge of “God” Who/What He is will be quite limited in relation to God’s entirety (however, enough to satisfy finite minds).

          Thus, this is what I mean by this idea of “vagueness” – we are not claiming that some magical invisible large observer completely separate from the universe created it by snapping his fingers. We have a miniscule understanding of WHAT God is, however, enough of one. Such a concept was indeed the reason I dwelt in Agnosticism (as an Atheist, lacking knowledge of whether God did not exist).

          • Ayman Hasad

            March 9, 2010 at 12:16 AM

            As for innately “believing” in God (as the author of the article stresses), perhaps this will require some philosophical elaboration. After establishing this above concept of God, things make more sense. See, a Muslim is simply one who submits to God (follows His will or commandments). On the physical level, all humans “submit” to physical laws, we “submit” to cycles of consciousness, and so in this way (since God is the embodiment of the laws that govern the universe), we are submitting to His laws. It is only, in the spiritual realm, that humans are left to choose whether they will consciously “submit” to God.

            In this respect, not just humans, but all contingent things “submit” and thereby “believe” (not always in a literal sense, but I think you know what I mean). Sorry for my verbosity! Take care!

        • Abd- Allah

          March 9, 2010 at 1:15 AM

          since God is the embodiment of the laws that govern the universe

          Brother Ayman, it would be wrong to say that God is the embodiment of the laws. God created these laws, but they are not embodied in Him, so it would be better to rephrase that statement.

          • Ayman Hasad

            March 10, 2010 at 1:30 PM

            Assalamulaikum my dear brother,

            Thank you for your thoughts. Please allow for me to clarify what I mean by that statement. “God is the embodiment of the laws that govern the universe.”

            What I was trying to stress here was that – yes, indeed the “created” laws which themselves are contingent are His creation, but He Himself is The Law. Why? What is a law in this context? Simply a being – a state of existence that governs, determines etc.

            As such, I am not stating that for ex. Gravity is a law physically embodied by Him. Rather, I am stating that He is THE LAW – or the Being that determines all contingent things (as everything is contingent except Himself). Gravity would be entailed by a Unification – an absolute Oneness of the “supreme” set of Laws which cannot be divided or exist separately from one another – this is what we call Allah (in other words it’s like saying He is a unification of His attributes, you cannot label His individual attributes ex. All-Knowing as being Allah, as they are exactly that – individual attributes which cannot be separated from His entirety).

            So this is what I mean by “Embodiment of the Laws” – as we as Muslims would say Allah’s “Mercy” governs the universe as it is supposed to (within the context of its nature), or that His “Knowledge” encompasses all – the past, present, and future etc. These are thus “laws” in that they determine what Reality is as opposed to what it is not (i.e. they define Reality as it is).

            Reality would be different if God was different (however this is not possible, as He is absolute, beyond time and thus, THESE current state of affairs is the only one possible).

            I understand what you are saying though, that it may yield some misleading connotations for those who may not grasp it’s implications.

            However, with the above clarification, I don’t see a problem with the statement. If you still do, please let me know. My main reason for using that statement is to stress, particularly to Atheists (who accept that the physical and contingent realm is dependent upon laws), that God Himself is the ultimate Law and not necessarily something mutually exclusive from their idea that these contingent realms or states of existence are determined by laws.

            In this way, it appeals to them more then simply saying “We believe in One God with no partners, who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Absolute” etc. As, unfortunately, people subconsiously associate all their misconceptions and stereotypes with this monotheistic concept of God (however baseless they may be). This is what I was referring to when I mentioned the anthropomorphic model. Stating that “He is not some anthropomorphic deity” is also often too vague for them – as they still conceive of Him as some large observer completely separate from the universe who merely intervenes sometimes.

            As for being “the Law” – that description is perfectly in line with what the Qu’ran stresses. It must necessarily be absolute (unchanging otherwise it would also be contingent and incomplete – bound by time), All-powerful, All-Knowing etc.

            If I have erred, I seek Allah’s forgiveness, this is simply my understanding which may very well be flawed. If so, please correct me brother.

            Thank you! May Allah guide us.

          • Ayman Hasad

            March 10, 2010 at 7:10 PM

            Assalamulaikum brother,

            Thank you for the response. I had posted an earlier response, however, it seems it has been deleted, or did not post correctly?

            I appreciate your thoughts, however, please allow for me to substantiate and clarify my position.

            You see, the statement that “God is the Embodiment of the Laws that govern the Universe…” can be interpreted incorrectly (from what I intended). This appears to be the case here, as it does not mean that God physically embodies physical laws such as the law of gravity. Firstly, I think it’s important that we define what a “law” means in this context.

            My use of “Law” here simply refers to a position of authority and control over an effect or contingency. In other words, it is merely a state of existence that determines, and sustains “contingent” beings. If this is the case, than of course Allah (swt) is “the Law.” You see, laws such as gravity may be a part of the creation, but it too is dependent upon a higher set of laws (it must be, if we claim that it is a “creation”).

            This is all I mean – Allah is “the Law” (i.e. the unification of the ultimate set of laws that determine and sustain All). These “laws” cannot be divided, or viewed as “god” individually (as Hindu’s often do – they take one of the aspects of God, and personify it as a lesser god). In other words, this is just another way of saying Allah (swt) is a unification of all His attributes (i.e. All-Knowing, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate). They are in fact “laws” in that they determine what Reality is, as opposed to what it is not. More than that, they sustain this universe. If God was different, this universe would also be different. Of course, God could not be different as He is absolute (beyond time, and so has a definite nature).

            None of His attributes can be, individually, considered to represent His entirety, rather we view Him as the Embodiment of them all, inseparable.

            I used that statement to express our belief in Allah simply because most Atheists (who’ve seriously thought about this) already agree that the contingencies are dependent upon higher laws. They automatically reject anthropomorphic deities, just as we do. However, saying “we believe in One God!” carries many connotations with it that they have in-built defenses against. In other words, stereotypical thinking causes many to presuppose certain things about “God” when in fact they may not be the case at all.

            This is why I brought up the “man up in the sky” fallacy – many Atheists automatically (perhaps subconsciously?) assume Islam’s “monotheistic” concept is simply a variation of Christianity’s over personified concept. And certainly, the pure and pristine Christianity (Islam) expressed the same concept – it has become incredibly tainted. As a former Atheist, I along with many of my philosophy mates agreed with this idea that we’d presume many things about “God” because of mainstream ideas not necessarily rooted in Islam, OR Christianity.

            I pray this clears up the matter. I seek forgiveness if I have erred. Let me know what you’re thoughts are on the matter.

          • Ayman Hasad

            March 10, 2010 at 7:13 PM

            Another response (slight variation, perhaps it will be clearer):

            Assalamulaikum brother,

            Thank you for the response.

            I appreciate your thoughts, however, please allow for me to substantiate and clarify my position.

            You see, the statement that “God is the Embodiment of the Laws that govern the Universe…” can be interpreted incorrectly (from what I intended). This appears to be the case here, as it does not mean that God physically embodies physical laws such as the law of gravity. Firstly, I think it’s important that we define what a “law” means in this context.

            My use of “Law” here simply refers to a position of authority and control over an effect or contingency. In other words, it is merely a state of existence that determines, and sustains “contingent” beings. If this is the case, than of course Allah (swt) is “the Law.” You see, laws such as gravity may be a part of the creation, but it too is dependent upon a higher set of laws (it must be, if we claim that it is a “creation”).

            This is all I mean – Allah is “the Law” (i.e. the unification of the ultimate set of laws that determine and sustain All). These “laws” cannot be divided, or viewed as “god” individually (as Hindu’s often do – they take one of the aspects of God, and personify it as a lesser god). In other words, this is just another way of saying Allah (swt) is a unification of all His attributes (i.e. All-Knowing, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate). They are in fact “laws” in that they determine what Reality is, as opposed to what it is not. More than that, they sustain this universe. If God was different, this universe would also be different. Of course, God could not be different as He is absolute (beyond time, and so has a definite nature).

            None of His attributes can be, individually, considered to represent His entirety, rather we view Him as the Embodiment of them all, inseparable.

            I used that statement to express our belief in Allah simply because most Atheists (who’ve seriously thought about this) already agree that the contingencies are dependent upon higher laws. They automatically reject anthropomorphic deities, just as we do. However, saying “we believe in One God!” carries many connotations with it that they have in-built defenses against. In other words, stereotypical thinking causes many to presuppose certain things about “God” when in fact they may not be the case at all.

            This is why I brought up the “man up in the sky” fallacy – many Atheists automatically (perhaps subconsciously?) assume Islam’s “monotheistic” concept is simply a variation of Christianity’s over personified concept. And certainly, the pure and pristine Christianity (Islam) expressed the same concept – it has become incredibly tainted. As a former Atheist, I along with many of my philosophy mates agreed with this idea that we’d presume many things about “God” because of mainstream ideas not necessarily rooted in Islam, OR Christianity.

            I pray this clears up the matter. I seek forgiveness if I have erred. Let me know what you’re thoughts are on the matter.

          • Abd- Allah

            March 10, 2010 at 10:58 PM

            Brother Ayman, JazakAllah khayr for your clarification, but I still don’t think that it is permissible to describe Allah as being “The Law”, because He isn’t described as such in the Quran or authentic sunnah, and we wouldn’t want to describe Him in a way which He hasn’t described Himself. Saying that Allah determines everything or that everything is in His hands would be a much better statement which doesn’t leave any place for anyone to misunderstand what you are trying to say. So my advice would be to stay away from such vague words such as “The Law” which might be misunderstood by others to mean something which you wasn’t saying.

  12. abdullah

    March 4, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    @ abd-allah
    may allah reward you with good

    • Abd- Allah

      March 4, 2010 at 5:54 PM

      Ameen. May Allah join us together akhi abdullah in Paradise with the Prophet peace be upon him and his companions.

      • abdullah

        March 5, 2010 at 7:28 AM

        ameen

  13. Dawud Israel

    March 5, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    Thats what I always say…use surah ar-Rum in your dawah! Nothing else!

  14. Arabian Princess

    March 6, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Ameen

  15. Zeemar

    March 10, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    Albert Einstein said it beautifully (even though he denies religion) when he said:

    “I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”

    And Einstein also wrote:

    “The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who–in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’– cannot hear the music of the spheres”

    Source: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1607298,00.html

  16. Ayman Hasad

    March 11, 2010 at 1:08 AM

    @Brother Abd- Allah. Thank you very much for your response. If you do not mind, I have some questions, as I do wish to clarify whether my line of thinking is then fallacious.

    Would you be able to clarify if, in Islam, it is impermissible to extrapolate concepts from the Qur’an, and use other words that may for example, be almost synonyms with words Allah does in fact use to describe Himself? I suppose this also goes into the whole “philosophy” debate, and how far a Muslim is allowed to relate his logical understanding of the terms in the Qur’an (ex. describing God). I ask this because, on a “logical” level, it would appear that everything Allah states to describe Himself relates directly to “laws” (He is the Law Giver etc.). And so, would it be permissible on these merits? Or, must we simply restrict ourselves to the exact words (ex. those found in Surah Al-Iklas)? Or, are we permitted to “explain” to a human extent, very carefully of course, how we understand the concept “Absolute” as stressed in the Qur’an?

    I guess my fundamental question is, are we allowed to reflect upon the meanings of for ex. His descriptions of Himself, and then use words which may very well be synonyms such as “the Law” (but of course I see how it must be explained and directly related back to what the Qur’an states – I never intended on basing it on anything else).

    And I agree that using “Allah determines everything” or “everything is in His hands…” are clear to Muslims. However, it still seems as if those terms and phrases carry different conceptual meanings to different people. In which case, it would require some explanation (of course rooted in the Qur’an) to illustrate what that means in an Islamic context (even so, our understanding of “what that means” will be limited it seems).

    I hope you do not get the impression that I’m simply blindly trying to debate, I simply wish to clarify my own understanding, and learn. :)

    Thank you brother!

    • Abd- Allah

      March 11, 2010 at 3:47 PM

      BarakAllah feek brother Ayman, and I ask Allah to give us both the proper understanding of His deen.

      When it comes to the names of Allah, then we have to stick specifically to what is literally mentioned in the Quran and authentic hadiths, because when it comes to more general descriptions, we are allowed to explain using our own terms. I’ll give you an example to make things clearer. Arraheem (The Most Merciful) is one of the names of Allah as mentioned in the Quran, so we can use that name and also describe the meaning of it in our own terms and talk about the mercy of Allah. On the other hand, we all know that Allah is patient on His servants and doesn’t punish the wrong doers immediately when they sin and they have the chance to repent, so we can use those words to in general to describe Allah, but we can’t say that Allah is Assabur (The Most Patient), because that name is not mentioned in the Quran or authentic hadiths. So while Allah is patient, yet we can’t give Him the name Assabur if it isn’t mentioned in the Quran, but we can say that Allah is patient. Similarly, Allah gives life and death, and we can say that to describe Allah, but we can’t say that Allah is The Killer, because that is not one of the names which are mentioned in the Quran. So when it comes to the names of Allah, they are tawqeefiyyah, meaning we stop and don’t call Allah by a name which wasn’t specifically mentioned in the Quran or authentic hadiths. As for more general descriptions or explanations of the attributes of Allah, then there is more leeway there for us to use our own terms, like we can say that Allah is patient, He covers His servants and their sins, etc.

      Another thing when it comes to the names and attributes of Allah is that we believe in the meaning of them, but we don’t delve deep into trying to understand how they work and we shouldn’t for example ask how Allah is or how He does things, but rather we should just believe in His names and attributes and what He said about Himself in the Quran and not try to explain how they are and we shouldn’t compare them to our own attributes because there is nothing like Allah, so therefore we can’t even compare His attributes to our attributes, and we simply believe in them without trying to go too deep into the philosophical details.

      By the way, there are over 110 names of the names of Allah that we know from the Quran and authentic hadiths, so using them should be sufficient to describe Allah and His attributes, and while we can’t give a specific name for Allah which there is no proof for it from the Quran or authentic hadiths, but we still can use our own words and proper terminology to explain the names and attributes which have been specifically mentioned in the Quran and authentic hadiths, and we can point out examples from the things around us, and use proofs, logic, and common sense to show them.

      InshAllah this clears things up a little, but this talk about the names and attributes of Allah and describing them is a vast subject on which some scholars of Islam wrote many books.

      • Ayman Hasad

        March 11, 2010 at 3:58 PM

        Assalamulaikum,

        Thank you brother, for your clarification. Yes, I see what you mean – my views have been along those lines certainly. As it is not possible for us to know the unknown hehe. This brings a quote to mind: “If you knew the Unknown you would choose Reality.”

        What you say is valid, as philosophizing endlessly about concepts we have no concrete examples of is not practical. I limit my philosophizing here of course, and so for example, when the Atheists ask “how did God create the universe? Was His act of creation sequential?” I merely limit my answer to: Since He is Absolute and unchanging, no, He doesn’t act in sequential order, and is merely superior to the Universe as its cause – and the act of creation must not be seen in physical terms, but metaphysical terms etc.

        But to delve in to absolute finest “mechanics” of how it occured (other than Him simultaneously creating it: Be!) is irrational as we cannot contemplate it.

        I thank you again for your response. I still have much to learn, but this is important as in my high school’s MSA I would not wish to state things that could be misleading.

        Salaam

        • Ayman Hasad

          March 11, 2010 at 4:32 PM

          correction: “Is superior to the universe as it’s Cause”

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  18. Farhan

    April 14, 2010 at 12:03 AM

    Personally, I don’t think the analogy of “the way we know murder is wrong” works. Most atheists will say it was evolution that selected that specific trait to remain in us. While I don’t think that’s a plausible answer, it definitely resonates with them.

    I like the analogy of “the way we know others are conscious”. While we cannot scientifically test it, we know innately know it to be true despite a complete lack of evidence. I don’t want to get into a LONNGGG rant on why its not possible to prove the consciousness of another person. But either way, how do we know that other people aren’t just biological entities responding to stimuli (ie, philosophical zombies)? Or really sophisticated computer AI’s.

    As you said, we just ‘know’. Its innate knowledge, the Fitra.

  19. Hamdija Begovic

    April 16, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Farhan

    You might be right about your analogy being better, but there are actually atheists who do, as it were, reject the idea that we are more than mere biological entities responding to external stimuli (and therefore they also reject the idea that we have free will). I actually don’t believe that these people, in their heart of hearts, really deny that they have free will (and I also believe that atheists, in their heart of hearts, do believe in God). But when it comes to the question of murder, atheists – I guess nihilists are the exception -, even though they might say that morality is a product of evolutionary processes, still do believe in moral truths. They really believe that murder is wrong, even though there is no scientific proof for it (since science, by definition, doesn’t deal with it). And not only do they believe in it, they are convinced. Without doubt. And if they believe in something that science cannot confirm nor deny, then they shouldn’t point fingers.

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