Why cannot there be more than one eternal being (meaning that a number of eternal beings could exist together)?

Every being in this world except – God Almighty – is dependent upon God in its initial phase of existence in addition to its continuance. The doctrine of Tawhid implicates a single being which is independent, needless and the cause of all creatures; for according to the law of cause and effect and the logical inadmissibility of circular argument (dowr) and infinite regress (tasalsul), every entity is required to have a cause before it finally concludes at a cause which is independent and needless. As a result, the existence of several eternal beings in the sense that each one of them could exist independently is impossible. However, according to the ayahs of Quran and ahadith, eternal beings – other than God – do exist but are completely dependent upon God.

The beings of this universe are divided into two kinds. On one side is the being that is reliant on its own essence and is free from need. This being is named the independent being that which is the wajib al-wujud. The other kinds of beings are those who in and of themselves have no independence whatsoever and are in need of another being other than themselves and are entitled as mumkin al-wujud. In other words, when we explore the essence of a mumkin al-wujud, in and of itself it is ontologically neutral to both existence and inexistence and in order to morph out of this form it needs a cause other than itself, as opposed to Wajib al-Wujud Almighty who’s existence is necessary and is free from need.

In order to explain who is the first being and cause of all causes one must note that without doubt the cause of all causes is Allah Almighty, hence the being that has been there from the beginning is the holy essence of Allah. According to the holy ayahs and reason, in addition to being azali (being there from the very beginning), he is, for the same reason, everlasting and eternal as well; because the being that can be the cause of all creatures must lack even the slightest deficiency. This is because the prerequisite of deficiency is need and a being in which is needy is itself an effect of a more complete being. In this case if we claim that wajib al-wujud isn’t eternal and will perish, we have accepted that it is an effect and this contradicts God’s essence.

Can another being other than God Almighty be azali and eternal?

According to what we see in the Quran and the ahadith, it has been unequivocally stated that mankind does not perish after death; he transfers from this mortal and temporary world to the everlasting world and is provided sustenance from his lord. [1]
Moreover, the term “khaledun (eternal)” has been stated in numerous sessions of the Quran, whether it has been used for those who are eternally in Hell [2] or those who eternally reside in the everlasting Heaven. [3]

Therefore, based on the explicit assertion of the Quran, for sure, there are other eternal beings along with God Almighty but the distinctive element between God’s eternality and other beings is the essence of these entities. The dhat or essence of one is in absolute need (it is need itself) and calls for a cause from outside of itself to grant it existence, while the other being is richness and abundance itself; this means that if mumkin al-wujud can live for eternity, it will never take an independent form cut off from everything else. The need and contingency to a cause constantly and continuously accompanies mumkin al-wujud and its form of eternality depends upon an independent essence which would be God Almighty.
God Almighty is free from need because he is wajib and the origin and cause of all creatures.

However the real question is does mumkin al-wujud need a cause after coming into existence – as its continuance – as well as in the time of its creation? In other words, why does wujub bil-ghayr (necessity obtained through another) invariably shadow mumkin al-wujud?

To respond to this question, we must first realize the criterion as to why effects (ma’loul) necessarily call for a cause (illah)? If we are able to prove that the criterion of neediness and dependence is an essential element instilled in the effect, we can, then, deduce that as long as a mumkin being exists, it carries this need with itself; considering that the dhati (essential element) of an entity never departs it. In response to this inquiry many arguments have been presented, and each one of them calls for a separate discussion in order to be stated, explained and reviewed. However, the most accurate viewpoint, which belongs to Mulla Sadra, is that the reason for the neediness and dependence of effects on causes is imkan and not the aspect of huduth (temporal creation). By proving this theory, the dependence on causes for continuance and sustenance (baqa’) will be proven as well. On the contrary, some believe huduth is the principle basis of the neediness of a cause. Meaning that the huduth of an effect is the reason why it has to have a cause, hence an eternal being must be essentially necessary (wajib bi-dhat). Given this presumption this group of philosophers has wrongly perceived that an effect solely needs a cause in its initial stage of existence, as opposed to needing it for its continuance; suggesting that there are eternal independent beings alongside God. [4]

Mulla Sadra expounds the criterion for the neediness upon a cause using two expositions. The first exposition revolves around imkan mahuwi (essential contingency). Imkan mahuwi entails that Imkan is the characteristic of the mahiya (quiddity) in respect to it being considered in and of itself, outside the domain of existence and inexistence (min haythu hiya hiya), for it is this sense that mahiya is neutral to existence and inexistence and imkan is characterized as the neutral relationship of mahiya to existence and inexistence.

The second exposition is based on imkan faqri (existential contingency). The interpretation of Imkan faqri or wujudi is that the identity and essence of the effect, by itself, is nothing but need and dependence on the cause. Thus, effects – whether they are temporally haadeth (temporal) or qadim (pre-existent) – are dependence itself, upon causes. The presumption of an effect without a cause is self-contradictory; [5] for if a mumkin is not needy, it is therefore free from need and independent while the truth of the matter is that the sole being that doesn’t require a cause is wajib al-wujud. As a result we inevitably end up with an entity that is both wajib and mumkin! This reasoning can adequately respond to those who believe huduth of the mumkin to be the criterion of neediness of causes. When they come across the argument of how this mumkin being continues in its existence they simply assert that it doesn’t have a cause. This is exactly where they have partnered two opposites and the partnership of two opposites is inadmissible; for it is incoherent to say that a mumkin does not plead for a cause, because if it can withstand existing, without a cause for even a moment, it must consequently be wajib, when at the same time we initially supposed it was mumkin.

Moreover, the existence of two eternal beings that are independent is also impossible; because this contradicts the oneness of wajib al-wujud that which, in turn, proves the tawhid of God. It has been established, in that context, that two wajib al-wujuds cannot exist together; for duality is characterized when on top of their similarities, the two entities possess differences as well. In other words, both wajib al-wujuds are combined of similarities and differences, making them a compound entity and consequently needy and wajib al-wujud cannot have neediness.

Therefore, when we establish “essential contingency” for a being, this quality (contingency) belongs to its wujud (existence). “Essential contingency” is completely identical to the need and contingency imbedded in the essence of the effect and need and contingency are dhati to a mumkin. When a quality is dhati to an entity it essentially cannot be separated and invariably accompanies it as long as the entity exists. As a result, as long as the effect exists its need and contingency upon a cause also exist. Now if we put this logical conclusion beside the ahadith that suggest the eternality of mankind, we can extract that beings other that God can be eternal but nevertheless completely depend on God Almighty.

[1]وَ لَا تحَسَبنَ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُواْ فىِ سَبِيلِ اللهِ أَمْوَاتَا بَلْ أَحْياءٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يرْزَقُون
Aal Imraan:169.
[2]وَ الَّذِينَ کَفَرُوا وَ کَذَّبُوا بِآياتِنا أُولئِکَ أَصْحابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيها خالِدُونَ
Baqarah:39.
[3]وَ بَشِّرِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَ عَمِلُوا الصَّالِحاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهارُ کُلَّما رُزِقُوا مِنْها مِنْ ثَمَرَةٍ رِزْقاً قالُوا هذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَ أُتُوا بِهِ مُتَشابِهاً وَ لَهُمْ فِيها أَزْواجٌ مُطَهَّرَةٌ وَ هُمْ فِيها خالِدُونَ
Baqarah:25.
[4] Huduth means for the necessity of existence to come to an entity after it lacked it, or for the necessity of its inexistence to come after it bore it. Necessity is the criterion for needlessness of a cause, not the criterion for need. Therefore, huduth cannot be seen as the criterion for need of a cause, neither the whole criterion nor part of it nor a condition of it. As a result, the criterion for a mumkin al-wujud to be in need of a cause, is imkan (i.e., contingency). The reason being is that for an entity to have imkan means for it not to have the necessity of existence or the necessity of inexistence. In other words, only something that isn’t necessity or something inseparable from necessity and since huduth is inseparable from necessity of existence or inexistence, it cannot be the criterion for the need of a mumkin entity for a cause, but since imkan is the lack of necessity of existence or inexistence, it can be the criterion for such. Rabbani Golpaygani, Ali, Idhaah al-Hikmah fi Sharh Bidayah al-Hikmah, p. 193, The International Center for Islamic Studies, Qom.
[5] Rabbani Golpaygani, Ibid, p. 195.

If God is Merciful, why is life unfair?

Everyone in this life has his / her own tests and no one is without test. The sufferings in this life can be sometime because of our own bad deeds, or it can be a test to us. Ultimately, all of us will get the reward of our good deeds and the result of the bad deeds.

Paradise is not for everyone, but for those who had true faith and good deeds. The Justice of God will be obvious to all on the Day of Judgment, where the sufferings of the innocents will be rewarded for and all deeds will have its own results. Many people suffer in this life because of injustice done by oppressors and wrong doers. Nothing is away from Allah’s Justice, as Allah sees everything, and gives the result of it, although, Allah gives time to sinners and does not punish them immediately in most of the cases.

How can we know for a fact that God exists?

Dr. Jamal Badawi
Even on a very fundamental level we find that throughout history there is a very strange phenomenon that people of different backgrounds, living in so many different parts of the world at different points in time, have always had this strong urge within themselves to look and to yearn for the Creator. They see that there is some power, a magnificent and merciful power that is sometimes interpreted in a mistaken way by materializing that in some form or other (i.e. idols). The basic yearning has always been there. Even in places where there is no recorded history of a particular prophet, people have yearned for a Creator. That’s what I’m referring to as an innate nature. The Arabic term is ‘fitra.’ Fitra literally translates to: something that one is created with or created in accordance with: this innate nature.

Is the intellect an enemy to faith?

All human faculties such as the senses including also the intellect are part and parcel of the whole process of seeking the truth. None of these by themselves will be sufficient, but on a whole they are not really in contradiction. In fact I would say, even more positively, that from a Muslim point of view one of the main things that make the human being distinct, one of the basic blessings that he is given by God to make him different from animals since animals can think as well, is intellect. So the intellect is a God given gift or blessing. How could we interpret that as a challenge or antithesis of faith? This doesn’t really stand.

On the personal or individual level, one doesn’t have to venture far to realize that God does exist. Just look into yourself, you don’t have to be a scientist but if you are then you’ll appreciate more the construction of the body; how it is made up of many cells. One cell becomes a cell for sight and the other for hearing; it’s amazing. How does the brain operate? The circulatory system? The digestive system? The nervous system? Such coordination and beauty [is shown through their functioning]. This shows that these things didn’t come to be in a haphazard way, there must have been a deliberate design behind them. So if you want to find God then look into yourself.

The Qur’an says, Wa fee anfusiqum afala tubsiroon, which translates to

“By looking into yourselves, you will find evidence to the presence and powers of God.”[1]

In another verse it even says,

“Do they not reflect in their own minds?” [2]

“Do they not reflect in their own minds?” [2]

In fact, if one really divorces himself from any prejudice caused by societal pressures one way or the other, or the worship of science as the ultimate thing, if one utilizes science in the proper way, you wouldn’t have to look at the body as a whole, just start analyzing one single organ and see how it works. Like some scientists would tell you that in order to duplicate the digestive system you’d need a huge laboratory and still it wouldn’t operate as efficiently as a naturally created organ would such as the stomach. We have acids in our stomachs that can erode metal but it doesn’t hurt us. How could that be haphazard? If one aspect of that was developed by chance would everything else falling in line and falling together also happen by chance?

The Environment and Cosmic Order

Let’s move on to beyond ourselves, to find further evidence, the Quran also implores people to consider and to think. Take one aspect that many people think about today as very fashionable, like the ecological balance for example. Many people would take that as very clear evidence again that there is a design in this universe; vegetation as it relates to animal life and to human life; and the various atmospheric layers that we have. Everything is put together to sustain human life. If you look into the Quran, you find this mentioned. In one verse, in the Quran, it says that God created everything in exact proportion. [3] This is a very important term “in exact proportion” it’s not just that He created but that there is a deliberate design behind putting all of these things together.

In another verse, when people look at the whole scheme of creation, it says,

“Were they created from nothing or are they themselves the creators?”

[4] No one claims that he’s created from nothing nor can he claim that he is the creator [of the heavens and earth]. Then the verse continues,

“Or did they create the heavens and earth?”[5]

No one claims that. So the science is there. It’s whether we apply it in the right place and in the proper way or not that makes the difference.

Finally, if you move into what I would call the third circle, not just looking into ourselves or the environment around us but looking into the whole cosmic order, again there is a design. The planets. The solar system. The way everything is coordinated. The distance between the sun and the earth, which if decreased may burn everything and if decreased everything would freeze. This is all deliberate. The succession of day and night, the circulation or changes of seasons, which has very important relevance to the lives of the people, to vegetation, and to animal life; all of these beautiful things that we are in awe at in the universe, we look at them with great admiration, definitely show that there is a design behind them and as is obvious any design needs a designer or creator it.

One verse in the Quran implores us in particular to this area and says,

“Have they not reflected on the domain of the heavens and earth and what God created therein?”[6]

In another verse it also says, in the general sense of the meaning:

In the creation of the heavens and earth and in the succession of day and night there are certainly signs for those who reflect. Those who remember God while standing, sitting, and laying down and ponder on the creation of the heavens and the earth, saying: Our Lord you have not created this in vain. Glory be to You. Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.[7]

Our Own Limitations

In talking about the senses and the intellect or knowledge, I think anyone, even a person who does not believe in God, would admit readily that our senses are limited. Our perceptions are limited. Our sight, hearing, etc- we know that. Also, we know that our perceptions could also be deceived or they can deceive us. If you put a spoon in a glass of water, it looks crooked. A very well known phenomenon is of people traveling in the desert or in hot areas and would see in front of them a lake or a puddle of water- the mirage- but it actually does not exist. At the time it’s seen it is a reality to the person seeing it. So our perception is very useful, but it still falls short of getting to know everything.
On the other hand, science is fine. Science can resolve many issues and problems that are purely scientific- that are purely technical. Science can tell you for sure how to use technology for example to communicate sounds and pictures; this can be determined fully by science. However, there are many aspects in lives of people that are beyond science also. There is the moral aspect, there are the ethical standards, and there is the application of the fundamental principal of good and bad. As we said the [principle of good and bad] is instinctive but still needs some modifications and limitations. And we know throughout history that people have always had differences as to what exactly defines the proper ethical or moral standards. In order to resolve that problem, there must be a higher authority, God, Himself, telling us and providing us with stable standards of ethics and morality within which you can interpret various details.
Finally, and perhaps this is in my mind the most important reason, is that we know that knowledge is not only limited to science or books or perception. We know that there are certain aspects of knowledge, legitimate knowledge, which does not lend itself to any of those tools. For example, take the knowledge of the unseen. What happened in the past before history was recorded? If you wanted to get any information on that there is no recorded history. Or at least there is dispute about the recorded history. Revelation can tell you what, for example, the stories of previous prophets and what they said and what their message was.

There are issues that no matter how much you use your mind you will not be able to arrive at a final conclusion. An example