The Second Way of coming to Know God


The Outer Way

With a quick glance at the world that we live in, we realize that the world is not in chaos and disorder. Rather, all phenomena are in motion moving towards a clear and determined direction. The facilities of the world are like a great army which has been divided into well-organized units which move in a determined direction.

The following points will clarify any ambiguities:

1. In order to come into being and to remain, every living creature must be a part of a series of laws and special conditions. For instance, for a tree to be, water and suitable soil and a specific temperature are necessary for us to plant seeds and nourish them and each seed to become green and grow.

If these conditions do not exist, there is no possibility for growth and the choosing of these conditions and proving the necessary preliminaries requires an intellect and knowledge.

2. Every creature has a special effect which is exclusive to it. Water and fire each have their own particularities which do not separate from them and they constantly follow permanent laws.

3. All of the members (organs) of living creatures work and are coordinated with each other. As an example, this very human body, which is itself a world, all works together consciously and unconsciously in a special coordination. For instance, if a danger arises, all are mobilized for defense. This relationship and cooperation is another sign of the order in the universe.

4. One look at the world scene makes it clear that not only are all organs of one body of one living creature in coordination with each other, but all the various creatures of the world are also in special coordination with each other. For instance, for the nourishment of living creatures, the sun shines, clouds bring rain and the earth and resources of the earth also help. This all shows the existence of one clear system in the universe.

The Relationship of Order and Intellect

This truth is clear for everyone’s conscience that whenever order exists in a facility, this shows intellect, thought, a plan and a goal.

Because whenever a human being sees order, permanent laws and a reckoning of things, he or she knows that beside that source, knowledge and power must also be sought and in understanding this, in one’s conscience, he or she does not see need for reasoning.

He or she knows that a blind person or an illiterate person can never type a good essay or write a social or critical article, that a child of two years old can never paint beautiful and valuable painting by the drawing of lines on a piece of paper.

Rather, if we see a good essay or read a good article, we know that a person who is literate or if we have seen very beautiful paintings, we will have no doubt that an expert painted them even if we have never met or seen that painter.

Thus, wherever there is a sense of order, beside that, there has been an intellect and however much larger that system be, it is more accurate and more interesting, the knowledge which brings that into being in the same proportion is greater.

Sometimes, in order to prove this issue that every system needs a source of knowledge, the law of probabilities, which has been achieved in high mathematics is used to prove that, for instance, if an illiterate individual wants to type an article or an essay or a poem by randomly pressuring on the keys of the machine, according to the law of probabilities, this will take millions of years to attain for which one lifetime is not sufficient.

The Holy Qur’an says:

“Soon will We show them Our Signs upon the horizons and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that Thy Nourisher is aware of all things.” (41:53)

Think and Answer

1. Give a few examples (other than those presented in the story) about industrial units, the observation of which shows the existence of a Creator of the world Who is Aware.

2. What is the difference between ‘horizons’ and ‘souls’? Give examples of God in the ‘horizons’ and within one’s own ‘soul’

A True Story

A True Story

We have said that in the depths of the spirit of those who deny God with their tongue, a faith in God exists.

There is no doubt that victories and successes — especially for individuals with few possibilities develop pride and this very pride becomes the source for forgetfulness, to the point where often a person even forgets his or her own opinions.

But the moment that a storm of difficulties throws their life into chaos and the strong wind of difficulties attacks that person from all sides, the curtains of pride and selfishness moves away from their eyes and divinely-created nature (fitrat) and monotheism (the belief that God is One) appears.

History gives many examples of individuals who were like this, whose lives were full of deceit:

There was a minister who was very strong and powerful in his age. He had taken control of most of the power and no one opposed him. One day he entered a meeting in which a group of religious scholars were present. He turned to them and said, “For how long will you continue to say that God exists? I have many reasons to prove otherwise.”

He said this with special pride. As the scholars who were present knew that he was not a reasonable or logical person and that power and strength had made him so proud that no words of truth would affect him, they ignored him and remained silent, a meaningful and humble silence.

This event passed. After a time, the minister insulted someone. The ruler of the time had him arrested and thrown into jail.

One of the scholars who were present at the gathering thought to himself that the time to awaken him had come.

Now that he has gotten off the horse of pride and the curtain of self-interest has moved away from his eyes, and the sense of accepting the truth was awakened in him, if he contacts him and gives him words of advice, it may produce good results. He received permission to visit him and he went to the prison.

As he neared him, he saw that he was in a room all alone, walking back and forth and thinking and he was recalling a poem which said, “We are all like drawings or paintings of a lion which are painted or drawn on a flag. When the wind blows, it moves and perhaps even attacks, but in reality it has nothing from itself. Its strength is the wind which gives it power. We, also, as we gain more power, have nothing from ourselves. It is God who has given this strength to us and whenever He wills, He can take it from us.”

The above-mentioned scholar saw that under these conditions, not only does he not deny the existence of God, but he has become ardently aware of God. After greeting him he said, “Do you recall how you said you have many reasons for the non-existence of God.

I have come to answer those many reasons with just one response, “God is He Who, with such ease, took your power away from you.” He hung his head in shame and did not answer because he knew that he had been wrong and he saw the light of God within himself.

The Holy Qur’an says:

“We took the Israeli tribes across the sea; Pharaoh and his hosts followed them in pride and insolence. At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, he said, ‘I believe that there is no god except Him whom the Israeli tribes believe in. I am of those who submit (muslimin)’ ” (10:90)

Think and Answer

l. Describe the consequences of the true story in several lines.
2. Why are the Israeli tribe called “Israeli tribe”?
3. Who was Pharaoh? Where did he live? What claims did he make?

An Answer to an Important Question

Question:we realized or recognized that we always hear the voice of monotheism (tawhid) and worship of God from within our souls and especially at times of difficulty, this voice becomes stronger and clearer and we naturally begin to think about God and we seek His help and kindness.

Here it is possible that this question arises that this inner voice which we call the voice of our ‘God-given nature’ (fitrat) is the result of things which we have heard from our environment and our mother and father have told us or from school and it has become very normal and common for us.

Answer: The answer to this requires a brief introduction. Customs change. We cannot find a custom which has not changed throughout history among all nations.

Thus, when we see that this is something which exists among all nations, has existed at all times and during all ages, without exception, we should realize that its roots are in fitrat and that it is woven into the spirit and soul of human beings.

For instance, the love of a mother for her child. This can in no way be said to come from propaganda or habit or custom because in no tribe or nation, or at any time or age, can you see that a mother does not love her child.

Of course, it is possible that a mother, because of a mental disturbance, do away with herself or a father during the Age of Ignorance in Arabia (the time before the appearance of Islam) buried his girl children alive because his thoughts were wrong and based on superstitions but these are very rare cases.

Looking at this introduction, recalling how people in the past and in the present worship God, we see (as this lesson is a little bit more difficult, please pay careful attention).

1. As stated by sociologists and historians, there has been no time in history when belief in God and faith did not exist among people. Rather, in every age and time and at all moments of this world, some form of belief existed and this, itself, is clear reason why the worship of God is from the depths of the spirit and its source is fitrat of human beings, not that it is a result of customs we have accepted because if it were the consequences of habit and custom, it would not be so extensive and eternal.

We even have rules which show that tribes who lived before written history began, had some kind of a belief system. Of course, there is no doubt that at times, when people had forgotten God as the Being Who is above nature, they searched for Him and looked for Him among creatures in nature and they made idols for themselves of things in nature.

But with the development of thought, human beings gradually were able to see the truth, stop worshipping idols which were material creatures and become familiar with the One God.

2. Some of the well-known psychologists clearly and directly say that the human spirit or soul has four senses:

First, the sense of knowledge which sends a person after science and knowledge and makes one’s spirit thirsty for knowledge whether or not this has any material benefit.

Second, the sense of goodness which is the source for moral and human issues in the world of humanity.

Third, the sense of beauty which is the source of poetry and literature and art in their real sense.

Fourth, the sense of belief which invites the human being to come to know God and to implement His Commands. In this way, we see that the sense of worship is one of the senses with the deepest roots of the spirit. That is, they are never separate from each other.

3. In our future lessons, we will see how most materialists even admit to the existence of God, even though they do not mention His Name and instead refer to nature or give Him other names but qualities are given to nature which are, in fact, qualities of God.

For instance, they say, if nature has given two kidneys to human beings, it was because it knew that if one of these failed, the other would continue life, etc.

Does this explanation hold for a nature which lacks awareness and consciousness? Or is this not a reference to the All-knowing and Infinite God but calling Him, nature?

We can conclude from what has been said that:

A love for God has always existed in us and will always continue.

Faith in God is an eternal flame which warms our heart and spirit.

In order to come to know God, we are not obliged to take a long and complicated way.

We quickly turn inward and see we have faith in Him. The Holy Qur’an says:

“We are closer to the human being than his jugular vein.” (50:16)

Think and Answer

1 Write several examples of customs and several examples of things which are part of our God-given nature (fitrat).
2 Why do ignorant people turn to idol worship?
3 Why do materialists refer to God as Nature?

Two Clear Ways of Knowing God


From the earliest of times until today, books have been written about coming to know God and a great deal has been said by scholars and non-scholars.

Each one chooses a way in order to come to understand this issue but from among all of the ways, there are two ways which can help us to grow near to this great Creator of the universe:

– First, an inward way (the closest way)

– Second, an outward way (the clearest way)

With the first way, we get in touch with our deep inner self and we hear the cry of monotheism from within the depths of ourselves.

With the second way, we explore the expansive created world, and we see the signs of the creator in all creatures and in the heart of every atom. Each one of these two ways requires a great deal of explanation, but what we will try to do is to briefly study each of these two ways.

The Inward Way

Let us think about the following:

1. Scholars say that every human being who thinks, from whatever class or race one be, if left alone, receives no special training, not even hears the words of people who worship God nor the words of materialists, that person will naturally become aware of a force or power which is above nature and which rules all of the world.

In the corners of one’s heart and spirit, one will sense a very subtle sound, which is full of kindness and, at the same time, clear and firm, which calls one towards the great Source of the universe and the power that we call God. This is that very pure, divinely-created human nature of people.

2. It is possible that one becomes occupied with the commotion in the material world and one’s daily life and the lights and attractions of life and one may temporarily neglect to hear this sound, but when one finds oneself facing problems and difficulties, whenever a natural catastrophe like a flood or an earthquake or a hurricane comes, yes, at this time, when one is curtailed from all means of material life, and when one finds no place of refuge, this inner sound gains strength.

One senses that within one’s self, a power is calling one, a power which is superior to all forces, a secret force and all difficulties and problems seem simple before it.

It is rare to find a person who in such difficulties does not automatically turn to God. It is this issue which shows how close we are to Him and how close He is to us.

He is in our spirit and our very soul. Of course, the cry of instinct (nature) is always within a person, but at times like this, it finds greater force.

3. Our history shows that even the powerful rulers who, at the time of peace and calm, refuse to even mention the Name of God, when the bases of their power begin to shake and they see that they are about to lose all of their power, they turn to God and they hear the voice of their Divinely-created nature.

History tells us that when Pharaoh saw that he was drowning in the waves of the sea, he said, “I confess that there is no god but the great God of Moses. “This cry came from his soul. Not only Pharaoh, but all people who are in a state or condition like he was, cry out the same thing he did.

4. If you study the real reasons for this, you will agree that a light shines from there which calls you to God. Perhaps there have been times when you have met with difficulties and problems and all of the usual ways of solving problems do not work. At that moment, most certainly, you have seen that there is a force in the world which can easily solve it.

At this moment, a hope mixed with love fills your spirit and soul and it removes the clouds of darkness from our soul. Yea. This is the closest way which a person can take to God.

Only one question:

We know that this question may arise for some of you. Does this possibility not exist that based upon what we have been taught by our environment, our father and mother, at sensitive moments, we begin to think that we should ask God for help?

We know you are right and correct in asking this question, but we have a very interesting answer which we give in the next lesson.

The Holy Qur’an says:

“Now, if they embark on a boat, they call on God, making their devotion sincerely (and exclusively) to Him; but when He has delivered them safely to (dry) land, behold, they give a Share (of their worship to others)!” (29:65)

Think and Answer

1. Try to memorize the surah number, verse number and meaning of word to word translation and gradually become familiar with the language of the Holy Qur’an.
2. Has a complicated problem ever arisen for you for which no solution seemed available to you except the kindness of God, the Almighty? (Write or tell about it briefly).
3. Why is this way called the closest way؟

The Signs of God in our Daily Life


1. Knowing God and the Progress of Science

Pretend that a friend has come from a trip and has brought a book as a present for you. He says that it is an excellent book, because the author of this book is full of information by a very great scholar, who is accurate, an expert and a genius in his own field.

You will most certainly not study this book carelessly. Rather you will concentrate on every sentence and even the choice of words made and if there be a sentence there that you do not understand, perhaps you will spend hours and even days, whenever you can, studying it until the meaning of it becomes clear to you.

Why? Because the author of this book is not a normal average person but rather a great scholar who considers every word he uses carefully.

But if the opposite were true and they had said to you, “This book may appear to be beautiful and pleasing on the outside, but the author is not very literate and he has no base in science and has not taken any care,” it is clear that you will only quickly glance at the book and wherever you found something unclear in it, you would say, “This is because the author was uninformed and it is a waste of time for a person to study this.”

The world of creation is like a great book in which every creature forms a word or sentence in that. From the point of view of a person who worships God, every atom of this universe is worthy of study.

A person who has faith in the ray of the light of worshipping God, will make use of a special sense of curiosity in studying the secrets of creation and it is this very fact which helps science and human knowledge to progress – because he knows that the Creator of this universe has endless knowledge and power and everything He does is based on a wisdom and a philosophy. Thus, he studies with greater care, more profoundly in order to be able to understand the secrets better.

But a materialist has no reason to discover the secret of creation for he believes that nature is senseless. If we look at the work of a materialist scholar, it is in the same rank because he accepts God but calls him ‘nature’. Why? Because he accepts an order and a program in nature.

2. Knowing God, Endeavoring and Hope

Whenever a difficult and complicated event takes place in the life of a human being, whenever all doors are somehow closed, one senses weakness, hopelessness and loneliness, when confronted by these difficulties, a person with faith in God then seeks His help, which He gives.

A person who has faith in God does not see himself or herself as being alone or powerless. He or she does not despair. He or she does not sense weakness or inability, because God is above all difficulties and everything is easy for Him.

With hope in His kindness, support and help, he or she will struggle against the difficulty and will use all of his or her energies. With love and hope, one will continue his or her endeavors and efforts and will overcome the difficulty.

Yea. Faith in God is a great place of refuge for a human being. Faith in God is the substance of perseverance and steadfastness. Faith in God always keeps hope in hearts alive. Because of this, individuals with faith never attempt to commit suicide because attempts at suicide come from despair, a complete lack of hope and a feeling of having failed but individuals with faith neither lose hope nor do they sense failure.

3. Knowing God and the Sense of Responsibility

We know a doctor who, when poor people visit him, not only does he not get money from them for the visit, but he gives them money and drugs and if he senses a danger for that person, he will stay all night in his home. These are people who worship God and have faith.

But we also know a doctor who, until the money of the visit is not paid, he will not take the first step for the sick person because he does not have a strong faith. A person who has faith, no matter what his or her profession is, senses responsibility, knows his or her duties, does good, readily forgives and constantly sees a spiritual policeman within his or her soul who watches over one’s deeds.

But people who lack faith are selfish and dangerous people who have no sense of responsibility. Oppression, suppression and aggression against the rights of others is easy for them and they are less prepared to do good.

4. Knowing God and Peacefulness

Psychologists say that mental and psychological diseases are greater in our time than in any other. They say that one of the factors is anxiety over future events, anxiety over death, anxiety over war and anxiety of fear and failure.

They add, “Among the things which can take anxiety away from a person’s spirit is faith in god because whenever an anxiety wants to penetrate one’s spirit, faith in God pushes it away”.

A God who is kind, a God who helps one meet one’s needs, a God Who is aware of His servants’ condition and if they turn towards Him, He helps them and frees them from anxiety.

Because of this, a real believer always has a sense of peacefulness and no anxiety exists within his or her spirit. Whatever such a person does, is for God. Even if one suffers a loss, one seeks its replacement from Him. Such a person even enters the war front with a smile.

The Holy Qur’an says:

“It is those who believe and confuse not their beliefs with oppression — that are (truly) in peacefulness, for they are on (right) guidance.” (6:82)

Think and Answer

1. Do you recall the fate of the people in the past which the Qur’anic verse refers to?

2. Do you know why some individuals, who pretend to have faith in God, are morally corrupt and none of the four effects mentioned above can be found in them?

Why do we think about God and study ways of knowing the Creator of the universe?

think about God

1. The Love to be informed about and know the world is deep inside every one of us

We all want to know, in truth: Did this elevated heaven, with its beautiful stars, this extensive earth, with its heart-rendering views; these various creatures; beautiful birds; various kinds of fish, the seas and flowers; the blossoms, plants, abundant trees, whose tops reach towards the heavens; did all of these things come into being of their own free will or were all of these wonderful forms painted by an expert, a powerful painter?

Beyond all of this, the first question which comes to mind for all of us is: Where did we come from? Where are we? Where are we going? If we know the answers to these three questions, how happy will we be! That is, if we know where our life began and where it will finally end and what duties we have now, our searching spirit tells us: you must not sit quietly until the answers come.

It often happens that in an automobile accident, a person is injured and becomes unconscious and for his treatment, they take him to a hospital. When his condition has improved a bit, and when he awakens, the first thing which he asks of those around him is, “Where am I? Why did you bring me here? When can I leave here?” All of these questions show that a person cannot remain indifferent and not ask these questions.

Thus, the first thing which sends us looking for God and understanding of the creation of the world of existence is our very thirsty spirit of search.

2. A sense of thankfulness

Pretend that you have been invited to a very important affair and all means of convenience have been provided for you but, because you have been invited through your brother, you do not know the host well. The first thing you will want to do when you enter the gathering is to find the host to thank him.

When we look at this widespread created world and the multiple blessings which have been provided for us: eyes which see, ears which hear, sufficient intelligence, various physical and psychological abilities, various means for living and for earning our livelihood, we automatically begin to think about trying to know He Who has given us all of these blessings and even though He does not need our thanks, we still thank Him and, until we do this, we are unhappy with ourselves and feel we have not done a duty.

This is another reason why we begin to search to come to know God.

3. The bond between things to our benefit and things to our harm with this example

Pretend that we are going on a journey and we reach a cross-road in which there is a great deal of commotion. Everyone warns us not to stop at this cross-road because there is great danger there. Each group invites us to go its way. One group says, “The best way is to go east.”

Another says, “Go West. It is the best road.” The third group invites us to a road or a way which is between the other two, saying, “This is the only way of saving yourself from danger and reaching your home safely. This is the way that will give you happiness and security and be a place of refuge for you.”

Would we allow ourselves to choose a way without study? Will our mind allow us to stop there and not choose any way? Clearly not.

Rather, our mind and our wisdom tells us to begin immediately to study and research, to listen to the words of each group carefully and accept whichever way has the most correct signs, speaks the truth and has convincing reasons for taking that way. Having assured ourselves of the right way, we take it and move forward.

In life in this world, also, we have such a condition. Different religions and schools of thought invite us to take their way, but as our fate, our fortune and misfortune, our progress and backwardness depends upon our study and making the best choice, we are obliged to think about this and prevent ourselves from falling into misfortune, corruption and difficulties.

This is yet another reason which invites us to search for the Creator of the world. The Holy Qur’an says:

“So give good tidings to my servants, those who listen to the sayings and follow the best of it…” (39: 18)

Think and Answer

l. Other than what your mother and father have told you about God, have you seriously thought about Him?

2. Can you say what the difference is between ‘searching for God’ and ‘knowing God’?

3. Have you ever felt a deep sense of spiritual love for God when you have whispered your prayers to Him?

1. The Love to be informed about and know the world is deep inside every one of us
2. A sense of thankfulness
3. The bond between things to our benefit and things to our harm with this example
Think and Answer

Is the theory of evolution of species inconsistent with the viewpoint of the Noble Qur’an with regards to the creation of Prophet Adam (a.s.)?


Interestingly the supporters of the theory of Evolution of Species, as well as those from amongst the Muslims who oppose it, have sought to adhere to the Qur’an to prove their stances. However, probably being influenced by their own beliefs, some have sought to base their arguments on verses which do not have a complete bearing on their views. Accordingly, we shall select, from both the sides, only those verses which can be placed under discussion with regards to the issue under consideration.

The most important verse upon which the supporters of evolution lay great stress is verse 33 of Surat Ale ‘Imran:

إِنَّ اللٌّهَ اصْطَفى‏ آدَمَ وَ نُوحاً وَ آلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَ آلَ عِــمْرَانَ عَلـى الْعَالَمِينَ
“Surely Allah chose Adam and Nuh and the descendants of Ibrahim and the descendants of ‘Imran above the nations.”

They reason that since Nuh (a.s.) and the descendants of Ibrahim (a.s.) and the descendants of ‘Imran (a.s.) lived in their ummah and were chosen from amongst them, therefore the case of Adam (a.s.) too ought to be similar. That is, during his period, humans – who have been referred to as the nations – must have necessarily existed and Adam (a.s.) had been chosen by Allah (s.w.t.) from amongst them. And this reveals that Adam (a.s.) was not the first human on the earth but rather, there had been humans before him; the distinction of Adam (a.s.) over the other humans was his superior intellect and spirituality, and this was the factor that resulted in his selection from amongst the individuals, similar to him.

These supporters have also mentioned numerous other verses, some of which have no relation whatsoever with the issue of evolution such that interpreting them to mean this would be interpreting the Qur’an by personal opinion, while other verses are such that they can be considered to be consistent with the theory of evolution as well as with the independent creation of Adam (a.s.). Hence, we have decided against mentioning them here.

As for the objection against this argument, it can be stated that if the term العالـمين (nations) in the verse is in the meaning of ‘contemporary people’ and اصطفاء (to choose) means that the selection must have necessarily taken place from similar individuals, then this argument could be accepted. However if one were to say that العالـمين includes individuals, who are contemporary and those who are not, just as has been reported in the well-known tradition of the Noble Prophet (S), in connection with the excellence of Hadhrat Fatimah (s.a.), wherein he says:

أَمَّا ابْـنَتِي فَاطِمَةُةَ فَإِنَّهَا سَيِّدَةَُ نِسَآءِ الْعَالَمِينَ مِنَ الأَوَّلِينَ وَ الآخِرِينَ‏.
“As for my daughter Fatimah, she is the chief of the ladies of the world, from the first to the last.”

Then, in such a case, their argument on the basis of the above verse would be inappropriate. This is because it would be exactly as if one says: Allah (s.w.t.) had chosen a group of people from amongst the humans (humans of all eras and epochs), one of whom is Adam (a.s.). In such a case, there is no need for humans to have existed during the time of Adam (a.s.) such that the term العالـمين becomes applicable to them or that Adam (a.s.) is chosen from amongst them. This is especially so when the choosing was being done by Allah (s.w.t.), Who had been fully cognizant of the future and of all the generations that were to come.1

However, more importantly, the verses which the proponents of ‘constancy of species’ have selected as proof from the Qur’an are those that say:

Allah (s.w.t.) has created man from dry clay, which had been taken from dark-coloured and stinking mud. Interestingly, this expression has been utilized in connection with the creation of ‘insan’…

وَ لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الإِِنْسَانَ مِنْ صَلْصَالٍ مِنْ حَمَإٍاءٍ مَسْـنُونٍ‏
“And certainly We created man of clay that gives forth sound, of black mud fashioned in shape.”2

as well as for ‘bashar’…

وَ إِذْ قَـالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلاَئِكَةِ إِنِّي خَالِــقٌ بَشَراً مِنْ صَلْصَالٍ مِنْ حَمَإٍاءٍ مَسْـنُونٍ
“And when your Lord said to the angels: Surely I am going to create a mortal of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.”3

And later, also for Adam (a.s.) – this being inferred contextually from the mention of the prostration of the angels (Note the verses 29, 30 and 31 of Suratul Hijr.)

At first glance, the apparent meaning of the verse appears to be that initially Adam (a.s.) was created out of black mud and then, when his form was completed, the divine soul was blown into it subsequent to which the angels fell down in prostration before him, except Iblis.

The style of speech indicates that between the creation of Adam (a.s.) from mud and the emergence of the present form no other species existed.

The term ‘ثـم’, appearing in some of the verses and used in the ‘Arabic language to denote ‘a sequence with intervening time intervals’, can never be taken as evidence to claim the passage of millions of years and the existence of thousands of species; rather, it could quite possibly allude to the intervals that existed between the various stages of Adam’s (a.s.) creation – from mud and then from dry clay and then the blowing of the divine soul.

And it is for this reason that this very term ‘ثـم’ has been employed in connection with the creation of man in the embryonic world and the stages of his development within it. The Noble Qur’an says:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنْ كُنْـتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِنَ الْبَعْثِ فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ مُضْغَةٍ مُخَلَّقَةٍ وَ غَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ لِنُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ وَ نُقِرُّ فِي الأََرْحَامِ مَا نَشَآءُ إِلـى‏ أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ثُمَّ نُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلاً ثُمَّ لِتَبْلُغُوا أَشُدَّكُمْ‏
“O’ people! if you are in doubt about the raising, then surely We created you from dust, then from a small seed, then from a clot, then from a lump of flesh, complete in make and incomplete, that We may make clear to you; and We cause what We please to stay in the wombs until an appointed time, then We bring you forth as babies, then that you may attain your maturity.”4

You observe that there is no necessity for ‘ثـم’ to indicate upon a lengthy interval; rather, just as it is employed for protracted intervals, it can also be utilized for short intervals too.

From what we have mentioned above, we infer that although the verses of the Qur’an do not directly mention the issue of evolution or ‘constancy of species’, nevertheless, the apparent meanings of the verses is more in accordance with the concept of independent creation (of course, this is as far as the creation of man is concerned).

Despite not being entirely explicit, the apparent meanings of the verses dealing with the creation of Adam (a.s.) mostly tend to revolve around the concept of independent creation; but with regards to the other living beings, the Noble Qur’an remains silent.5


1. Another possibility is that within a short time, the children of Adam (a.s.) constituted a small society and Adam (a.s.) was the chosen one from amongst them.
2. Suratul Hijr (15), Verse 26
3. Suratul Hijr (15), Verse 28
4. Suratul Hajj (22), Verse 5
5. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 11, pg. 86

What is Islam’s perspective with regards to Jabr (compulsion) and Ikhtiyar (free-choice)?


This problem is an ancient issue that had been the bone of contention of scholars; a group advocating freedom of will while another supporting compulsion and each of them presenting proofs to substantiate their viewpoints.

But interestingly, in practice, both these groups have formally recognized and accepted the notion of choice and freedom of will. In other words all these debates are only within the periphery of theoretical discussion and not in practice, clearly revealing that the concept of freedom of will is inherent to every person. And were it not for the various insinuations and whisperings, everybody would have supported this concept.

This general conscience and universal innate – one of the most lucid of all the proofs for ikhtiyar (freedom of choice) – manifests itself in various forms in man’s life; if man considered himself to be compelled in the performance of his deeds and to not possess any choice, why is it that: At times, as a result of performance or non-performance of an act, man experiences a sense of regret, and resolves to utilize his experience in the future. This state of regret occurs numerously for those who advocate the concept of jabr (compulsion); if there is no ikhtiyar, why this rue and remorse?

Everyone rebukes and censures the evil-doers; if there is jabr, why should they be rebuked in such a manner?

Those who do good deeds are praised and commended?
Everyone strives to educate their children in order that they become successful and fortunate; if everyone is compelled (in the performance of his deeds); what is the point in educating them?
All the scholars, without exception, exert themselves for the purpose of raising the standard of ethics in society?
Man expresses repentance over his blunders; if the concept of jabr is accepted, repentance becomes meaningless.

Man rues his shortcomings; why?

Universally, the criminals are subjected to trials and are exposed to intense interrogation; are these acts that are beyond one’s choice and free-will and need no interrogation and trials?

All over the world and within all communities – irrespective of whether they are materialists or Allah-worshippers – punishments have been prescribed for the criminals. But are these punishments for acts that they were compelled to perform?!

When someone transgresses upon their interests, even the advocates of the doctrine of jabr clamour for justice and, considering him to be guilty, drag him to the courts of law!

In short, if man truly had no choice of his own, what could repentance possibly mean? Why then the reproach and censure? Can one, whose hands and feet tremble involuntarily, be rebuked and criticized?

Why are those, who perform good acts, praised and encouraged? But do they possess choice of their own that they shall continue their good acts as a result of this encouragement?

Basically, with the acknowledgement of the influence of education, the concept of jabr breaks down. In addition, issues related to ethics, without acknowledging the concept of freedom of will, become totally meaningless.

If we are compelled in our acts, what is the meaning of repentance? Why should one yearn and rue? Placing a compelled person on trial is one of the most oppressive of acts, and punishing him is worse.

All these indicate that the concept of freedom of will is inherent to all humans, and in accordance with the conscience of the entire mankind. It is not just the general public, but even the learned class, the philosophers and the proponents of jabr too, in practice, accept ikhtiyar.

اأَلْجَبَرِرِيُّونَ اإِخْتِيَارِِيُّيُونَ مِنْ حَيْثُ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ!

“Those, who profess the doctrine of ‘jabr’ are, (in practice) the proponents of the doctrine of ‘ikhtiyar’, but only they realize it not.”

It is interesting to note that the Noble Qur’an has repeatedly emphasized this issue too. In verse 39 of Suratul Naba it says:

فَمَنْ شَآءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلـى‏ رَبِّهِ مَآباً

“So whoever desires may take refuge with his Lord.”

In other verses too great emphasis has been laid upon man’s will, and since mentioning all of them would only serve to prolong the discussion, we shall content ourselves by presenting only two verses below:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَ إِمَّا كَفُوراً

“Surely We have shown him the way: he may be thankful or unthankful.”1

فَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِنْ وَ مَنْ شَآءَ فَلْيَكْفُرْ إِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ نَارًا

“So let him who please believe, and let him who please disbelieve; surely We have prepared for the iniquitous a fire.”2

The discussion regarding this issue is a very protracted one with numerous books and articles having been written in this regard. What has been mentioned has just been a superficial glance at the issue from the standpoint of the conscience and the Noble Qur’an. We continue our discussion by mentioning one important point:

Support for the issue of jabr, on the part of a group of people, did not arise only due to philosophical problems; rather, important psychological and social factors undoubtedly contributed to the birth and continuation of this belief.

Many of those, who have accepted the belief of jabr, predestination or ‘qadha and qadr’ (fate and destiny, but with the attribute of compulsion attached to them), have done so in order to escape the burden of responsibilities or to cover up their failures, which have been a consequence of their own shortcomings and negligence, or to provide for themselves a covering for their wild carnal desires (They would state: Allah (s.w.t.) knew from pre-eternity that we would consume wine; and we consume wine now in order that Allah’s (s.w.t.) knowledge does not become ignorance!)

At times the colonialist powers, in order to suppress the resistance of the people and put out the flames of anger of the nations, would make themselves dominant over the others by making use of this doctrine. They used to say: ‘Your fate, from the very beginning, had been ordained to be this; where is there any alternative except submission and happiness (over our dominance)?

By accepting this doctrine all the deeds of the criminals and the sins of the sinners would become justified and there would be no difference between an offender and an obedient person.3
The verse:

وَ مَا رَبُّكَ بِظَلاَّمٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ

“And your Lord is not in the least unjust to the servants”4

is a clear proof with regards to the issue of ikhtiyar and freedom of will, and is illustrative of this reality that Allah (s.w.t.) neither punishes anyone inexplicably nor does He increase the punishment of anyone unwarrantedly. His work is absolute justice; this is so since oppression stems from shortcomings, deficiencies, ignorance, unawareness or carnal desires, and His Holy Essence is free from all of these.

Qur’an, in its manifest verses, simultaneous to pronouncing the doctrine of jabr – which is a source of dissemination of wickedness, an approval for various kinds of evils, and a tool for the rejection of every kind of obligation and responsibility – as being incorrect, considers each person to be answerable for his own deeds and is of the view that the consequences of every person’s deeds would be directed towards that person himself.

And hence we read in a tradition that one of companions Imam ‘Ali ibne Musa al-Ridha (a.s.) asked:

هَلْ يَجْبُرُ اللٌّهُ عِبَادَهُ عَلى الْـمَعَاصِي؟

“Does Allah (s.w.t.) compel His servants to commit sins?”

فَقَالَ: بَلْ يُخَيِّرُهُمْ وَ يُـمَهِّلُهُمْ حَتَّـى يَتُوبُوا.

Whereupon he (a.s.) replied: “No. Rather, he gives them the choice and respites them until they repent.”
The companion persisted:

فَهَلْ يُكَلِّفُ عِبَادَهُ مَا لاَ يَطِيقُونَ‏؟

“Does He place upon them obligations that are beyond their ability to perform?”
The Imam (a.s.) said:

كَيْفَ يَفْعَلُ ذٌلِكَ وَ هُوَ يَقُولُ: وَ مَا رَبُّكَ بِظَلاَّمٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ

“How can He do such a thing when He Himself has said (in the Qur’an) ‘And your Lord is not in the least unjust to the servants?’”

The Imam (a.s.) then adds: My father Musa ibne Ja’far (a.s.) narrates from his father Ja’far ibne Muhammad (a.s.) that: “One, who is of the belief that Allah (s.w.t.) compels His servants into committing sins or places upon them obligations that are beyond their ability (to perform), do not eat the meat of the animal slaughtered by such a person, do not accept his testimony, do not offer prayers behind him and do not give him anything from the zakat! (In short, do not apply the laws of Islam to him).5

The above tradition implicitly alludes to this subtle point that the doctrine of jabr originates from the concept of ‘obligation that cannot be performed’; this is because if, on the one hand, man is compelled into committing sins while on the other hand, he is prohibited from it, this becomes a clear case of placing an obligation that cannot to be performed.6

In verse 29 of Suratul Insan, we recite:

إِنَّ هٌذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَنْ شَآءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلـى‏ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلاً

“Surely this is a reminder, so whoever pleases takes to his Lord a way.”

And since it was possible that narrow-minded individuals might have interpreted the above expression to mean absolute and unqualified tafwidh (entrusting to Allah), the next verse goes on to say:

وَ مَا تَشَآؤُوْنَ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَشَآءَ اللٌّهُ‏

“And you do not please except that Allah please.”

And finally says:

إِنَّ اللٌّهَ كَانَ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً

“Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.”

And this, in reality, is establishing the well-known belief of:

أَلأَمْرُ بَيْنَ الأَمْرَينِ.

“The (actual) issue is that which lies between the two (extreme) issues of total compulsion and total freedom.”

On the one hand it says: “Allah (s.w.t.) has shown the way and selecting it is upon you. On the other hand it adds: Your selection is dependent upon the Will of Allah (s.w.t.). This means that you do not possess absolute freedom and independence; rather, your strength, power and freedom of will are entirely from Allah (s.w.t.) and by His Will and permission; the moment He desires, He can take away this strength and freedom from you.”

As such, neither is it tafwidh and unqualified entrusting, nor is it compulsion; rather, it is a subtle reality that lies between these two. In other words it is a kind of freedom, which is related to Allah’s (s.w.t.) Will such that He can take it away as and when He desires so that the people can carry the burden of responsibility – which is actually the secret of their achieving perfection – upon their shoulders, while at the same time, not envisage themselves as being independent of Allah (s.w.t.).

In short, this expression is for the purpose that the people do not regard themselves as being independent of the guidance, support, grace and blessings of Allah (s.w.t.) but, during decision-making, entrust themselves to Him and place themselves under His support,.

It thus becomes clear that the reason some of the commentators, who advocate the doctrine of jabr – like Fakhr Razi – have adhered to this verse is due to the preconceived views which they had harboured in connection with the issue. Fakhr Razi says:

وَ اعْلَمْ إِنَّ هَذِهِ الْآيَةَ مِنْ جُمْلَةِ الآيَاتِ الَّتِيْ تَلاَطَمَتْ فِيْهَا أَمْوَاجُ الْجَبْرِ وَ الْقَدْرِ.

“Do know that this verse is one of the verses which indicate upon ‘jabr’ and predestination!”7

Yes, if we were to extricate this verse from the verses previous to it, there would be room for this delusion; however, in view of the fact that in one verse the effect of ikhtiyar has been mentioned while in the other verse the effect of Allah’s Will, the issue of:

أَلأَمْرُ بَيْنَ الأَمْرَينِ.

is quite plainly established.

Incredibly, the advocates of tafwidh cling on to that very verse, which speaks of total freedom of choice whereas the proponents of jabr adhere to that very verse, which speaks only of jabr – each of them wanting to justify their preconceived opinions by means of the respective verses. However, the correct comprehension of Allah’s (s.w.t.) speech (or any other speech for that matter) demands that all the verses be placed alongside each other and then, without prejudices and prejudgments, the judgment should take place.

It is likely that the last part of the verse which states….

إِنَّ اللٌّهَ كَانَ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً

“Surely Allah (s.w.t.) s Knowing, Wise.”

also alludes to this meaning. This is because the Knowledge and Wisdom of Allah (s.w.t.) necessitate that the people be left free in journeying the path towards perfection; for if it were not so, the perfection that is imposed would not be perfection at all. Besides, His knowledge and wisdom does not permit Him to compel some into performing good deeds and others into committing evil acts, and later reward the first group and punish the second.8
1. Suratul Insan (76), Verse 3
2. Suratul Kahf (18), Verse 29
3. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 26, pg. 64
4. Suratul Fussilat (41), Verse 46
5. ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha, as quoted in Tafsir Nurul Thaqalain, vol. 4, pg. 555
6. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 20, pg. 308
7. Commentary of Fakhr Razi, vol. 30, pg. 262
8. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 25, pg. 385

Why is it that our Supplications Occasionally Remain Unanswered

Attention towards the conditions for the acceptance of prayers reveals new realities in the issue of du’a, and manifests its constructive influence. In the Islamic traditions, some of the conditions (to be taken into regard) for the purpose of acceptance of one’s prayers are as follows:

In order to have the prayers answered, first of all one should strive for the purification of the mind and soul, be repentant over (past) sins, embark upon development of the self and seek inspiration from the lives of divine leaders.

It has been reported that Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: Let it never be that any of you seeks a thing from Allah (s.w.t.) except that he first praises and glorifies Him, sends salutations upon the Noble Prophet (S) and his holy progeny, confesses to his sins and exhibits repentance over them; after having done these, he should then seek his desire from Him.1

Endeavouring to have a pure life, free from usurped riches, oppression and injustice, and to refrain from acquiring one’s livelihood by illegal means.
It has been reported that the Noble Prophet (S) said:

مَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يُسْتَجَابَ دُعَاؤُؤَهُ فَلْيُطَيِّبْ مَطْعَمَهُ وَ مَكْسَبَهُ‏.

“One who desires to have his supplications answered, should purify his food and earnings.”2

One should not desist from combating evil and inviting others towards Allah (s.w.t.).

This is because the supplications of those, who forsake ‘enjoining the good and forbidding the evil’, are not answered. The Noble Prophet (S) has said: “You must enjoin the good and forbid the evil or else Allah (s.w.t.) will cause the evil ones to prevail over the righteous ones from amongst you, and however much they may pray, (their prayers) shall not be answered!”3

In fact, abandoning this great duty of ‘national supervision’ leads to turmoil within the society as a result of which the society would be left open for the evil ones; (when this happens) supplications for the elimination of the consequences arising out of this state would be futile since this state has resulted out of man’s own deeds.
Acting in Accordance with Divine Covenants

Faith, good deeds, trustworthiness, and righteousness, (collectively) form another of the conditions for the acceptance of prayers. This is because one who is not faithful to his pledge with respect to Allah (s.w.t.), should likewise not expect Allah’s (s.w.t.) promise of answering a supplicant to be true for him too.

A person once, complaining to the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) about his prayers not being answered, said: Despite the fact that Allah (s.w.t.) has said “Call upon Me, I will answer you”, why is it that when we supplicate to him, He does not answer our prayers?
The Imam (a.s.) replied:

إِنَّ قُلُوبَبُکُمْ خَانٍ بِثَمٌنِيَةِ خِصاَلٍ.

“Your hearts (and thoughts) have been unfaithful with respect to eight things (and this is the reason your prayers go unanswered).”

1. You have acquired the cognizance of Allah (s.w.t.) but you do not fulfill what is due to Him; consequently your cognizance of Him has not benefited your state!

2. You have brought faith upon His Messenger but (later) went on to oppose his customs; where then is the yield of your faith?

3. You have read His book but have not acted upon it; you stated: “We have heard and we obey”, but then rose up in opposition to it!

4. You say: “We fear Allah’s punishment”, but perpetually perform acts that lead you closer to it.

5. You claim to be covetous of Allah’s reward however you continue to perform acts that lead you away from it.

6. You consume Allah’s bounties but do not extend thanksgivings to Him.

7. You have been ordered to be Shaytan’s enemy (whereas you sketch plans to befriend him); you claim to be his enemy but, in practice, you do not oppose him.

8. You place into great scrutiny the faults of others but conveniently disregard your own; with such a state of affairs, how do you expect your prayers to be answered when you yourself have shut its doors? Be pious, rectify your deeds and enjoin the good and forbid the evil so that your prayers are answered.”4

This meaningful tradition explicitly states: “Allah’s promise to answer the invocations of a supplicant is not absolute, but conditional – the condition being that you should fulfill your own pledges and covenants; however the reality is that you have broken your pledge in eight ways. If you were to put an end to these, your prayers would be answered.”

Another condition for the acceptance of one’s prayers is to adjoin it with efforts and hard work. In one of the short sayings of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) we read:

أَلدَّاعِي بِلاَ عَمَلٍ كَالرَّامِي بِلاَ وَتَرٍ.

“A supplicant (who prays) without effort and endeavour is like an archer without a bowstring!”5

In view of the fact that the bowstring is a means to propel the arrow towards the target, the influence of ‘effort’ in the effectiveness of du’a becomes evident.

The above five conditions are illustrative of the reality that not only should du’a not become a substitute for the natural means and ordinary measures with the purpose of achieving an objective but rather, in order for it to be answered, there ought to occur a complete transformation in the life of the supplicant – his outlook ought to be overhauled and his past deeds reviewed.

In view of the above, does it not appear that characterizing du’a as being narcotic and soporific indicates either a lack of knowledge or a sinister motive?6
1. Safinatul Bihar, vol. 1, pg. 448, 449
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Safinatul Bihar, vol. 1, pg. 448
5. Nahjul Balagha, Short Sayings 337
6. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 1, pg. 643

What is the philosophy behind Du’a and Invocations?


Those, who have not comprehended the reality of du’a, and its educative and psychological effects, have levelled various objections against it:

At times they say: Du’a brings about a state of narcosis within people for, instead of exhorting them towards effort and utilization of advanced means, it directs them towards supplications and teaches them that they should pray, rather than exert themselves!

And occasionally they say: Basically, is supplicating not interference in Allah’s (s.w.t.) work? Allah (s.w.t.) performs whatever He deems to be the best; He loves us and knows better than us what is best for us and so, why should we seek things from Him at times as we please?

At other times they say: Apart from all these, does du’a not conflict with the attribute of ridha1 and taslim2?

Those who propound these objections are oblivious of the psychological, social, educative and spiritual effects of supplication. This is because man, in order to strengthen his determination, and eliminate his distresses, is occasionally in need of a support, and it is the du’a that lights up the lamp of hope within him.

People, who neglect du’a and supplication, shall eventually face undesirable social and psychological effects in the long run.

In the words of a well-known psychologist: “Absence of invocations amongst a nation is equivalent to the collapse of that nation! A society that has strangulated within itself the need for invocations is usually not safeguarded from degradation and degeneration. Of course, it should not be forgotten that invocating only in the mornings while passing the entire day akin to barbarians, is futile; supplications ought to be performed continuously and in every state, and care should be taken to ensure that its profound influence upon man is not lost.”3

Those, who claim that du’a possesses a narcotic effect, have failed to comprehend the meaning of du’a. Supplicating to Allah (s.w.t.) does not mean that we withdraw ourselves from all the natural means that lie at our disposal and instead, raise our hands and set about praying; rather, it means that after utilizing all the means available before us to the best of our abilities and if we fall short, we resort to du’a and, by turning towards and leaning on Allah (s.w.t.), we invigorate within ourselves the spirit of hope, seeking succour from the unfailing assistance of the Great Origin.

Accordingly du’a is confined to inadequacies and dead-ends, and not a means that acts as a substitute for natural factors.

Although invocations induce serenity, at the same time, they also stimulate a kind of amazement and internal expansion with respect to cerebral activities, and occasionally also inspire a spirit of courageousness and heroism within man. Invocations make manifest our excellences with unique indications – pure look, composed behaviour, internal expansion and happiness, firm conviction, ability to accept guidance and confront the adversities.

These are the things that indicate upon the existence of a concealed treasure deep within us, and by means of this strength, even those who are backward and less capable can better utilize their mental and ethical abilities, and derive greater benefits. However, it is rather unfortunate that in our present world, those who can comprehend (the concept of) supplication correctly are very few indeed.4

From what we have stated above, the answer to the objection that the concept of du’a is inconsistent with ridha and taslim also becomes clear. This is because du’a, as has been explained above, is a kind of quest for the ability to acquire a greater share of the infinite grace and blessings of Allah (s.w.t.).

In other words man, by means of du’a, develops within himself a great worthiness for acquiring increased blessings of Allah (s.w.t.), and it is self-evident that exertion towards perfection is, in reality, taslim in the face of the laws of creation and not something in contrast to it.

Additionally, du’a is a kind of worship, (and an exhibition of) servitude, and by means of it man achieves a fresh attentiveness towards Allah (s.w.t.). Therefore, just as all the other acts of worship possess an educative influence, du’a too possesses such an influence.

And when they say that du’a is interference in Allah’s (s.w.t.) work! Allah (s.w.t.) does whatever is advisable and prudent, they have overlooked the fact that distribution of Allah’s (s.w.t.) bounties is dictated by capability – the greater the capacity, the greater shall be the share of the Divine gifts that shall come a person’s way.

And it is for this reason that Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said:

إِنَّ عِندَ اللٌّهِ مَنْزِلَةً لاَ تُـنَالُ إِِلاَّ بِمَسْأَلَةٍ.

“Allah (s.w.t.) has ordained ranks, which cannot be achieved except by means of supplication.”5

A scholar has stated: “When we supplicate, we link and associate ourselves to the infinite Power, Who has interconnected the entire universe.”6

He also states: “Today, the most recent science, i.e. psychiatry, teaches the same things that the prophets used to teach. Why? The reason being that psychiatrists have discovered that du’a, prayers and possessing a firm conviction with respect to religion eliminates worries, anxieties, agitations and fear – factors that are cause for more than half of our inconveniences.”7 and 8

1. Satisfaction and pleasure over divine decree. (Tr.)
2. Submission to Allah (s.w.t.). (Tr.)
3. Niyayish – a Persian translation of a book written by the well-known doctor and psychologist Alexis Carrol.
4. As written by Alexis Carrol.
5. al-Kafi, vol. 2, pg. 338, Chapter Fadhl al-Du’a Wa al-Haththu ‘Alaihi, no. 3
6. Aain-e-Zindagi, pg. 156
7. Ibid., pg. 152
8. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 1, pg. 639