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The existence of a sole originator and creator of the universe is the most apparent and self-evident truth - which with all the advances in certain sciences such as genetics and astronomy - can no longer be denied with any air of authority. The vast progress made by science over the second half of the last century in general has only shown that as man's realization of the greatness of the universe has increased, his actual knowledge of it has thereby decreased (to the extent of the said realization), and the complexity and intricacy of the universe leaves little room for doubting that there is an unfathomable power behind it - which is Allaah, the Lord of the worlds.
لَخَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَكْبَرُ مِنْ خَلْقِ النَّاسِ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
The creation of the heavens and the earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind, yet most of mankind know not. (Ghafir 40:57)
And the exegete, Ibn Jareer at-Tabari (d. 310H), comments that the origination and creation of the heavens and earth is greater than the creation of man.
However, the affirmation of an originator and a creator, despite its obviousness, has not been the main point of contention throughout most of history. As for affirming a mere creator and originator:
The World's Most Notorious Atheist Knows It ...
Over 50 years ago, Antony Flew re-invigorated the philosophy of atheism in the 20th century (after its waning) through a paper he wrote, "Theology and Falsification" which has probably been the most important work that invigorated and revived the atheism in the decades to follow. Flew was greatly respected and revered in the circles of atheism, being a towering figure in its philosophy.
However, Flew announced in 2004 that he is no longer an atheist and has accepted the existence of a creator. This, he explains, was a gradual process, through the progression in certain fields of science which slowly made him realize the impossibility of their not being an all-powerful all-knowing creator. Although Flew accepts that there must be a creator, he has not committed to any religion. In his book when one looks at the reasons, considerations or the specific arguments that led him to recant from atheism, you will find that they are not too far off from the implications of the meanings of these verses in the Qur'an in Surah at-Tur:
أَمْ خُلِقُوا مِنْ غَيْرِ شَيْءٍ أَمْ هُمُ الْخَالِقُونَ أَمْ خَلَقُوا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بَل لَّا يُوقِنُونَ
Were they created by nothing? Or were they themselves the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth, they do not have any firm conviction. (At-Tur 52:35-36)
Upon returning to the explanation of this verse in the classical commentaries, the following meanings are presented:
In the above book, Flew writes (pp. 88-89):
LAYING THE CARDS ON THE TABLE
And also on (p. 89):
My departure from atheism was not occasioned by any new phenomenon or argument. Over the last two decades my whole framework of thought has been in a stage of migration. This was a consequence of my continuing assessment of the evidence of nature ...
And also on (p. 91)
Three domains of scientific enquiry have been especially important for me, and I will consider them as we proceed in the light of today's evidence. The first is the question that puzzled and continues to puzzle most reflective scientists: How did the laws of nature come to be? The second is evident to all. How did life as a phenomenon originate from nonlife? And the third is the problem that the philosophers handed over to the cosmologists: How did the universe, by which we mean all that is physical, come into existence?
And some of the chapter headings in his book include:
Despite coming to the conviction that there absolutely must be a creator, Flew has not committed to any particular religion. Flew has not reached the truth which naturally follows on from this new conviction which is that the affirmation of the sole originator, creator, maintainer and regulator of the universe who is described with the most beautiful Names and the most lofty Attributes necessitates that only He be worshipped alone, and with that realization true religion would become immediately distinct from false religion.
Belief in a Sole Originator and Creator Necessitates True and Pure Monotheism and All False Religion Departs From That Necessity
Once a belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing creator is established, it naturally follows that He be given worship and devotion alone, as that is the natural consequence of such a belief, and this is what characterizes true religion.
In all nations, societies, civilizations in history there has always been a belief in a supreme creator, and historically, each nation from the time of Noah (alayhis salaam), up until the time of Mohammad (alayhis salaam) has been sent a Messenger with the message to give worship only to the one truly deserving of it, which is Allaah, and to shun the worship of anything besides Him as that is false worship and is the essence of ingratitude, infidelity (i.e. kufr). And nations, civilizations and societies have set up deities besides Allaah, amongst them Prophets, the angels, the jinn (devils, demons), the natural phenomena (wind, lighting, rain, mountains, the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, animals), the righteous (dead or living), their ancestors, stones, trees, idols and the likes. This false and unfounded worship, itself has four roots (arguments, justifications, claims) underlying it, and they are addressed in this article:
There Is No Doubt Concerning Allaah, the Originator and Creator
Allaah also said, regarding the saying of the Messengers to their peoples:
قَالَتْ رُسُلُهُمْ أَفِي اللّهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ
Their Messengers said: "What! Can there be a doubt about Allaah, the Originator (Creator) of the heavens and the earth?" (Ibrahim 14:10)
The exegete Ibn Katheer commented on this verse:
يخبر تعالى عما دار بين الكفار وبين رسلهم من المجادلة وذلك أن أممهم لما واجهوهم بالشك فيما جاءوهم به من عبادة الله وحده لا شريك له قالت الرسل " أفي الله شك " وهذا يحتمل شيئين" أحدهما " أفي وجوده شك فإن الفطر شاهدة بوجوده ومجبولة على الإقرار به فإن الاعتراف به ضروري في الفطر السليمة ولكن قد يعرض لبعضها شك واضطراب فتحتاج إلى النظر في الدليل الموصل إلى وجوده ولهذا قالت لهم الرسل ترشدهم إلى طريق معرفته بأنه " فاطر السماوات والأرض " الذي خلقهما وابتدعهما على غير مثال سبق فإن شواهد الحدوث والخلق والتسخير ظاهر عليهما فلا بد لهما من صانع وهو الله لا إله إلا هو خالق كل شيء وإلهه ومليكه والمعنى الثاني في قولهم " أفي الله شك " أي أفي إلهيته وتفرده بوجوب العبادة له شك وهو الخالق لجميع الموجودات ولا يستحق العبادة إلا هو وحده لا شريك له فإن غالب الأمم كانت مقرة بالصانع ولكن تعبد معه غيره من الوسائط التي يظنونها تنفعهم أو تقربهم من الله زلفى
He, the most high, informs about what occurred between the disbelievers and their [respective] Messengers of argumentation. When their nations faced them [the Messengers] with doubt concerning what they brought to them of (the invitation) to worship Allaah alone, without there being any partners to him (in worship), the Messengers said: "Is there any doubt concerning Allaah?", and this carries two things:
The exegete, Ibn Jareer at-Tabari explains that the meaning of this verse:
قالت رسل الأمم التي أتتها رسلها : أفي الله أنه المستحق عليكم أيها الناس الألوهة والعبادة دون جميع خلقه , شك ؟
The Messengers of the nations to whom messengers came said: "Is there any doubt regarding Allaah that He (alone) is the one deserving of servitude and worship from you, O people, as opposed to all [others from] His creation?"
What the Prophets and Messengers Called To
They all called to the worship of Allaah alone, without any partners, since giving worship to others alongside Allaah is the greatest injustice (dhulm), since it is denying the favour and blessing of Allaah, and giving recognition, praise and worship to others for the favours and bounties that originate in truth with Allaah. This is what is called "infidelity" (kufr) and also "associationism" (shirk), and this is the greatest crime, more so than murder, theft, adultery and the likes.
Allah, the Most High said:
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ
And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him alone. (Al-Isra 17:23)
وَاعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَلاَ تُشْرِكُواْ بِهِ شَيْئًا
Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship... (An-Nisa 4:36)
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ
And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We inspired him (saying): "None has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah)] alone, so worship Me (alone and none else)." (Al-Anbiya 21:25)
So this was the call of the Prophets and Messengers. As for worship (ibaadah), its meaning, definition, forms and types, then that will be the subject of other articles, and it is a great and vital subject that one ought to grasp well in order to understand the distinction between true religion (Tawhid, Monotheism) and false religion (the deification of others besides Allaah and giving worship to them). For now, we can mention some brief words:
Brief Mention of worship and Its Types
Worship (ibaadah) refers to those inward and outwards actions that Allaah loves and is pleased with, and they include:
Supplication (du'a), this is from the greatest of types of worship, and the Prophet (alayhis salaam) said, (الدعاء هو العبادة), "Invocation is worship", so it has been equated with worship, and this is because invocation is accompanied inevitably with other forms of worship such as love, fear, hope, reliance and so on. This is why in the Qur'an we find a very strong prohibition of calling upon others besides Allaah. This should not be confused with calling upon someone for some matter in which he or she has the ability to aid or assist, as this is permissible with respect to those who are a) alive, b) can hear, c) are capable in that matter c) are in such proximity that allows them to fulfill the request.
Also from the types of worship are love (mahabbah), fear (khawf), hope (rajaa'), seeking aid (isti'aanah), seeking refuge (isti'aadhah), seeking rescue (istighaathah), reliance (tawakkul), awe (khasyhah), aspiration (raghbah), fear (rahbah), humble submission (khusoo') penitence (inaabah), sacrifice (dhabh), making oath (nadhr) and we will treat each of these in separate articles.
In conclusion, the mere affirmation of a supreme being, an originator, a creator has never been the major issue of contention, rather it is the issue of singling out worship for the creator alone which was the issue of contention between the Messengers and their peoples. And when one studies the great and amazing concern given to this truth - [which is the truth upon which the heavens and the Earth stand namely that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone] - within Islam and within its texts (the Book and the Prophetic Sunnah) one will realize the difference between true worship and true monotheistic religion and all false worship and false religion, even if it is claimed to be monotheistic.
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