What do you mean by God?
The Reasonings- (page 143-144)
It is a rule of both eloquence and guidance that the evidence should be clearer than the thesis and known prior to it. For this reason, the apparent meanings of some Qur’anic verses relate to the impressions sensed by the majority of people. However, these verses are not intended to provide evidence for those impressions. As well as serving for the establishment in the minds of people of the four basic purposes of the guidance of the Qur’an, they contain such subtle truths that they attract the attention of researchers and truth-seeking people. The verses of the Qur’an, clear in themselves and clearly showing the basic truths, interpret one another; some verses uncover the jewels of meanings contained in their siblings. Therefore, we should try to see those more important meanings that lie under their apparent, literal meanings.”
“It is a rule of both eloquence and guidance that the evidence should be clearer than the thesis and known prior to it.”
Evidence must not only be known to my potentialities, but it must be very clear and obvious for the person who is reading. Example: I am a layman and I do not know anything about galaxies. You must show me the solar system so that I can easily understand what is going on in the galaxies i.e. the harmony and balance in between the sun and planets revolving around each other… If you are telling me that there will be a resurrection after death and an eternal life, then you must give me evidence accessible to me in the universe. Just like the Quran gives the example of a seed which may look dead, but it is not dead. With the right atmosphere, the seed is created in a completely different form (tree) than what the seed itself is. Human life is also like the seed and the potential of the seed includes the qualities of the tree in it, so human life includes a completely different creation because human qualities go beyond the limits of this life and so human life cannot be in vain or wasted when we die. The seed also does not die in the soil but at its sowing or so called “death of its body, not its being a seed”, a completely different creation is created (tree), different than the seed as in the form of a seed. Since the seed is the one created in a fruit or a tree form in this ephemeral universe, there is no Eternity here.
We are trying to understand the creation in Eternity terms, and we are giving examples of ephemeral world which has its own limitations. In this analogy given above, we are going to try to take the difference between these two events (seed and the tree which have a difference in their existence but not different from each other as far as their being created is concerned). Obviously, seed has some sort of code in it (DNA) in the form of knowledge. These codes in the seed are not in the physical existence of the tree or, in another words, is not like the external tree out there. What we know is that the One who created the seed already wrote in it/recorded in it i.e. It knows and demonstrates Its conscious acts that this seed will be re-created in another form and what it is going to be. It is a sign that the Creator of the seed knows what the seed is going to grow into and what the physical existence of the tree is going to be.
- In the same way, human life is a seed and the One who created me encoded in me the Eternal desire for Eternal Happiness in every sense i.e. everything I want must be Eternal and Perfect. The encoding is in my human qualities (seed).
The Quran gives this example for an unperceivable, unpractical another type of creation within the term of this universe. Is the promise of creation experientially acceptable? No. I have not experienced it. The evidence for resurrection and eternal life after death must be given in the form that I can perceive, experience and see. Otherwise, in order to explain an Eternal life, making an imaginary thing that cannot be physically experienced does not require to experience it, but we have to see the evidence for the possibility and necessity of its existence. That means we have to see the evidence for its evidence in the world, so that we can confirm its existence in a logical consistency. This is an important principle not only for this matter but for explaining anything to anyone. Example: you must give analogies to a child (make a comparison) to enable him/her to understand what you are referring to. That is, the evidence must be in the form that the capacity of the child can understand and experience. These Quranic analogies of the seed is the logical way to prove something which is not within my capacity to perceive physically. Example: I do not see Angels, I do not see Divine Determining, I just see a set order in the universe, and nothing seems to be Divine within this universe. Divine means that some unexperienced thing is operating in the universe, however in my experience here, everything seems to be operated regularly as if by themselves. But they have no quality to create themselves and make a decision by themselves; they all are subject to the Will of the One Who Creates this universe within an order. Also, with resurrection, I have not seen anyone coming back in another form after death. How can I believe in these? It is necessary that answers must be very clear and the evidence must be physically experiential and understandable.
Most of us are scientists knowing how the universe works in one way or another. Quran speaks to simple people at simple level and it makes sense to all.
- I must know of the evidence before what it refers to happens.
“For this reason, the apparent meanings of some Quranic verses relate to the impressions sensed by the majority of people.”
There should be no need for a special investigation, everyone can understand from their own life experiences. No special education is needed in this matter.
“However, these verses are not intended to provide evidence for those impressions.”
The main purpose is not impression, but how everyone can perceive it. The Quran is not giving the example of how the seed is working and coming into a tree, rather what does the seed refer to for me as a human being. In other words, what do my human qualities conclude from my impressions? The purpose of the Qur’an is to demonstrate evidence within this physical creation so that human beings will reflect on the qualities reflected in the act of creation in one way or another. i.e. the purpose of the Qur’an is not to teach human beings which one is revolving around the other. On the contrary, the purpose of the Qur’an is to drive the attention of the humans to the movement of things and the purpose of this movement pointing to the consciously arranged act of creation.
“As well as serving for the establishment in the minds of people of the four basic purposes of the guidance of the Quran, they contain such subtle truths that they attract the attention of researchers and truth-seeking people.”
If we study until we die, we will always talk about the four fundamental purposes such as 1/ God’s existence and Oneness (Absoluteness) 2/ the Prophethood 3/ the bodily Resurrection 4/ justice and worship. These fundamental matters do not include belief in Angels and Divine Determining. Because believing in angels is related to the act of creation demonstrating (Himself) or its qualities in the physical world. Example: look at the lamp and the qualities of its maker are manifested in the lamp. These qualities are not physically observable. You do see the lamp physically, but you do not see anything non-physical in it. You understand that the lamp has a form after experiencing the physical existence of the lamp, though if there was no lamp you would never be aware of the existence of form. After observing the lamp, you become aware of some qualities manifested in it and you conclude that it is done by an intelligent person who preferred it to be that way. How do I know? Because it has another aspect demonstrating the qualities of its maker. Similarly, the demonstration of all the qualities in the universe are represented in this manifest world by angels and the Quran refers to as “angelic side of the universe” or “malakut” or dominion of the universe.
Comment: What do you mean by dominion of the universe belongs to God?
It means “malakut” in Quranic language or “power of the Creator”. Dominion can be translated as “angelic side of the universe”. If someone does not know what the concept of angels in the Quran is, he would say I only see matter in the universe, what are you talking about “angelic side”?
Example: Lamp points to the qualities of its maker. This side of the lamp is the angelic side of the lamp, not the physical side of the lamp, but from the physical appearance of the lamp, I deduce logically and necessarily that it must have an angelic side. That is, sensually you can easily perceive it and logically you cannot deny it (the angelic side of the universe which the Quran frequently refers to).
Quran speaks to general people who are not educated and do not know the details on how the universe is functioning but an expert knows how the universe functions in a particular subject and s/he can also benefit from the teachings of the Quran, not for his scientific research i.e. how the order of the universe is functioning, rather the purpose in his/her research must be to understand the angelic side of creation in great detail. Example: Think about what this universe refers to, and then benefit from your physical discoveries as well and apply it in the universe in that way. If someone does not use his/her research/study to understand the angelic side of creation but just the physical side, then s/he is not benefiting from his experiences here as a human being. Just looking at the lamp and seeing that it has a long metallic rod connected to a base to keep it straight, as if that base is there by itself. Materialist secular scientists think that way. Similarly, you can study religion in a secular way and you are considered a secular religious scholar. Example: studying the scripture from linguistic purposes is no different than studying the universe as a secular scientist. Hence, there is no secular science because there is no secular universe i.e. there is nothing happening in the world that can justify itself by using itself as an evidence. Yes, there is secular scientist but science itself (studying the universe) points to its Creator and acting in order to demonstrate angelic side of the universe to human beings or what it means to human beings and what it refers to in its existence.
- The universe points to its Creator i.e. acting in a way to demonstrate angelic side to human beings.
- There is no secular religion, but they are secular scholars studying religious materials in a physical way. Example: studying language only without utilizing it to get the message to establish belief in 4 fundamental purposes of the Qur’an, may lead one to turn into a secular scholar.
Both the researcher and the common people reach the same aim. The second one says that this universe must have a Creator and the researcher says that the universe points to an unimaginable quality of the Creator. Ordinary people may not become aware of all the qualities of the Creator and get amazed that all Its actions are miraculous. But for the expert, it is possible to get mesmerized and prostrate before each act of the Creator. Ultimately, they both believe in God, but the quality of belief and content of belief differ, which depends on how much time one spends on reflecting on the angelic side of creation.
- Example: if you are an expert on literature, you can really appreciate the value of a literary text as oppose to a non-expert person. The non-expert is not denying the quality or value of literature, rather s/he is not trained/aware to appreciate the quality in it and so it does not mean anything to him/her. (as a non-expert in poetry for instance, you may go and attend a show to see what people are after, what are they trying to find out and how are they trying to satisfy their human needs: is it right/wrong and does it make sense?)
“The verses of the Quran, clear in themselves and clearly showing the basic truths, interpret one another; some verses uncover the jewels of meanings contained in their siblings.”
Understanding one verse illuminates your understanding of another verse. If you study the Quran and take people’s writing and explanation who spent their time in order to understand the Quran better, then you benefit from these experts. Your understanding becomes clearer and more comprehensive every time you go back and re-study the Quran. The more you study, the more excited you become. In the course of following the verse in the Quran, one after the other, you benefit from the explanations and evidences presented by other verses. When you come and study the second time, the meaning you delved into becomes large and deeper. That is the nature of the scriptures. Quran never contradicts within itself, always pointing to the four fundamental purposes that the Quran aims at (establishing Oneness of God, Prophethood, Bodily Resurrection, and justice and worship). In every verse of the Quran that you study, you will see that it supports the same purposes by using different examples and different human feelings. Human feelings are so vast and dynamic as the universe is dynamic; everything works with human capacity and provides different evidence for the same purposes.
Quranic text versus any other regular text
Quran refers to an Absolute Being and the qualities of an Absolute Being, which has endless levels. In a human made literature, you just understand the philosophy of a text. There is a similarity between both texts but content wise it is not the same because Quran refers to an Absolute aspect of this creation with no time and space restrictions and reading the universe referring to the Absolute qualities of its Maker.
- Absolute qualities need stage by stage development of your understanding of these qualities. How can you prove it? Study it with no bias and see.
- The more you read the Quran, the more you understand that you did not really grasp the meaning.
“Therefore, we should try to see those more important meanings that lie under their apparent, literal meaning.”
Just reading the text itself without getting meaning to what the text refers to becomes a literal meaning. Although the intention of the person is not to become a secular scholar and the person does not know what the text refers to. We do not know about people’s intention, but we need to go beyond the literal meaning and that is why the Quran needs to be “studied”.
“A False Supposition and a Reminder
If in order to draw attention to God’s existence and Oneness, the Quran clearly mentioned electricity, the law of gravity, the daily or annual movements of the earth, the formation of chemical compositions with the seventy (now more than a hundred) elements that have been discovered, and the sun’s stability despite its apparent movement, then the proofs would have been more hidden and in need of explanation than the thesis itself. For this reason, the Quran uses a language that is comprehensible for every level of understanding and never throws its audience into confusion, taking into consideration the level of the majority of the people without ever neglecting the elite, and referring to certain subtle realities that will be discovered over time through metaphors, comparisons, and similes.”
God’s Oneness mean Absolute i.e. not of the nature of this universe. If the text was to give details of how the order functions (hidden proofs), then it would obscure the angelic side of the text i.e. the meaning and the real essence or purpose of it. People’s excitement about scientific references is only valid for people of that time. Everyone benefits from the same message, not the details of the evidence, rather what the evidence refers to. You can study the details to become surer about the Necessity of Existence of the One who creates the universe. You can become sure and comprehend its qualities better as you study the universe, but the Quran’s purpose is not to give evidence that it is mentioning about something which will be clear in the future for me. That is, you cannot reduce the message of the Quran as giving information, evidence or explanation about discoveries which will be unfolded 1000 years later; that is an arbitrary interpretation. It logically does not make sense and it fundamentally contradicts the purpose of the Quran which speaks to everyone at their level. To discover the details depends on human studies of the universe and it is up to you. The text is always saying the same thing, but its purpose is for me to prove the thesis, whatever the Quran claims to teach people, not giving any information as far as the physical existence of the universe is concerned. Physical information already exists in the universe and human beings can discover them by using their already given qualities. I can understand the same example at different level according to my discovery of the order of the universe. For instance, chapter light (nur) verses talks about electricity and you may consider: how the angelic side of creation (malakut) involves many levels of realization of truth becoming apparent to them?
Let us come back to a practical example: “This lamp has no fuel coming to it from the east or the west”. It means that belief in Absolute Creator or Eternal life cannot be found anywhere within the universe. I cannot see what the universe refers to in the west or east nor someone comes to me to let me know unless the Creator reveals that It exists and the universe points to its Existence and Absoluteness. I am made by the elements of the universe is what I can only say. This is what materialists say now: “all the elements in the composition of the human body is already in the universe. Also, order of the universe is by itself.” You can only say that there must be something beyond this, but you cannot come to or reach the conclusion which confirms that this being must be Absolute.
- There is an argument between the Muslim scholars whether you can find God by yourself or not depending on what you understand.
- A being must be necessary, we can all agree to that, but you cannot define this being beyond the limits of this universe. That is why some people worship the stars, the sun… that there must be something there.
- That is why the modern tendency is that the universe exists by itself, so the reality, then, is the universe itself. That is, the universe is so wonderful by itself. Some primitive people believed in the stars to be the source of existence, the modern materialist people believe in “god particle,” what is the difference? Without receiving the confirmation and the evidence for it, human beings cannot think of a Creator who must be self-existence because we see no self-existing thing within the universe. Thus, we cannot think of a being who is Absolute. We would not even have a word for it. After hearing this news through the prophets, we start questioning its reasonability or not.
By definition, the Creator is Absolute. If someone is not Absolute, then it cannot be the Creator. Human mind cannot go beyond the limitations of this universe. Can human mind find itself a Creator “creating” without hearing the message from the revelation?
- The word Creator (by definition) necessitates that something gives existence to things without using any existing physical materials.
- When you hear this, you start investigating the universe: does the universe really points to It? Is the Source of Existence (SOE) of this universe Absolute? The Source of Existence does not need any material to give existence to something. What we observe in this universe as if the previously existing material is being re-used over and over again. But, careful observation makes it clear that the universe is given existence constantly anew; everything is different at every moment we observe it.
- Human mind works in this way: This computer has a maker and this maker has used already existing material. If we are not careful then we may not be able to make the distinction between human beings making something and the SOE creating.
- Human beings cannot create, they use always already created things.
Some materialist Philosophers say that you cannot really take a machine as an example to conclude a Creator because the machine is made by a person who used already existing materials. When you claim that God has never used already existing materials then how can I believe that? (Well, that is why it is referred to as the ‘Creator’ i.e. creating out of nothing of the previously existing universe). The universe must have a Creator, mustn’t it? But they cannot qualify this Creator as like a human being or anything in the universe. Just like an artist would say that I created this art because it did not exist before. That is why human mind cannot go beyond this reasoning by itself. Only after the Creator points in its teaching and teaches human being that the One who gave existence to the universe is not acting as the one who compose this computer because the One who composed this machine used the already existing elements.
The Torah and Quran emphasize that the universe is given existence by a One who never uses already existing elements: “He wills, and it happens.”
- I can only understand the difference between human actions and the Creator of the universe’s action by knowing that when I will something, it does not happen without me using existing materials, my brain, previous experiences, talents…where everything is GIVEN.
Human beings can only benefit from the universe and do something through things that are given to them. The Quran says that the Creator of the universe is not like this (Lailaha). The Creator of the universe does not use anything. There is no example in the universe which is acting without using anything. Can you create anything? No.
- We can discover something because it already exists in the universe. Materialists do not want to mention that. Human being uses what is already in the universe.
- We must thank God for enabling human beings on how to make use of the order to make things convenient for us such as apps and cell phones. When I use cell phone, I have to say Alhamdolillah (thank God) and praise the Creator of the universe which provides the means for me to make a cell phone and communicate with the people in a far distance to my location.
At the same time, human mind works with analogies. You can make an analogy by looking at the computer. The computer did not exist as a computer before. It is a new combination of different functions and order in the universe that get together. The order is already there. What I understand is that this computer needs an Engineer to combine the means of making the computer works. It needs an intelligent being (human beings) who choose from among the already existing things because human beings cannot create. This analogy is valid only for human beings who need to collect tools from different sources. Take this concept that an intelligent must have collected tools together to make a computer. The computer cannot make itself. In this analogy, the computer needs an intelligent agent in order to become a computer. How about the universe? It is countless times more complicated than the computer. The universe needs an intelligent agent as well. Only up to here, the analogy “the universe must have an intelligent agent” works. Now, the intelligent agent of the computer uses the parts from the universe and everything else available to make the computer. How about the agent of the universe? Does It need to use the already existing elements? Excuse me, we are talking about the existence of the whole universe, that means whatever exists in the universe altogether. The question is here who or what is the Source of Existence of the whole universe? There is no element outside of the universe to be used as its material. The main concern of human beings is who is creating the whole universe!
- The universe must have a “Creating Agent” who gave existence to the universe without using already existing elements, which do not exist outside of the universe.
- Conclusion: The “Intelligent Agent” must not be not of the nature of this universe, we call it “Absolute”. And His act of universe must be nothing but without using the already existing materials; that means He is creating without being in need of anything. That brings us to conclude that He must be Self-Sufficient, Self-Existing Absolute being; nothing like anything within this universe.
Most Philosophers not thinking in an abstract way, confused the above analogy and ridiculed it because in this analogy, two ends are in the universe i.e. human beings and the order (including the materials in it) which are given existence. They say: “The Engineer used so and so materials, but which kind of elements did God use?” Clearly, they are using God without knowing what it means. They do not think about it and do not want to think about it, that is why they cannot understand the truthfulness of the matter. It is not “God” if someone needs elements to use from the universe.
We understand the concept of God, by definition, after revelation reveals the nature of God (i.e. the general qualities of God), which kind of qualities are needed to be a Creator? To be a Creator, you must have the ability to create and give existence to something with no pre-existing elements, that is Absolute. Unfortunately, some people use the computer analogy and make God like the Engineer of the computer. That is troublesome, and you cannot really define God then. On the other hand, the mistake of the people who say that this logic proves God without realizing until what limit this is an analogy and until what limit this analogy does not work. The following principles need to be kept in mind to understand how to make sense of the Creator, God:
- Analogies must only be used for one purpose, not more.
- Reason needs to be employed in a logical way as to make sense. Example: “reason” says that this computer needs an intelligent designer using the already existing elements. But the Conscious Designer is needed to explain the existence of the universe, but does it need to use elements in order to make the universe? If yes, then it cannot be the Creator! If you do go out of this universe logically, then where are the elements, that will be used by the Creator to create from, located?
To explain the existence of this universe and what the universe contains (the elements and the order), it needs a Creator who gave existence from nothing, i.e. without using any already existing material. That is why the definition of the Creator as a Conscious Designer is not like the conscious designer of the computer. Let us take another analogy: Mirror is reflecting light and is made up of glass. Glass cannot be the source of light; hence mirror is getting its light from somewhere else. This example is within the universe and logically it makes sense. If the mirror is reflecting light and the source of light is not the mirror itself, then there must be another source (which we know as the sun). This analogy works only until this point (bolded and underlined previous sentence) because after that you say that mirror is getting light from the sun. That is, in the analogy mirror is already existing. That is why this analogy does not work more than demonstrating that the mirror cannot be the source of light it reflects.
The universe is manifesting qualities and matter itself cannot logically be the source of these qualities. Matter is stupid and blind as the Quran points out in this respect i.e. Does matter have any legs to walk with? Does matter have any quality that it will walk, see, understand and choose? We know that matter does not have any qualities (just as the Quran claims). Similarly, in the mirror analogy above, does the glass have any quality to be the source of light that it reflects? No. It has another source i.e. the sun. Let us come back to the universe. The universe has qualities and the elements of the universe cannot be the source of these qualities because they have no choice to be the source of the qualities manifested in them. Example: do you think that the computer has the quality to make itself into a computer? But there is something reflecting there, such as, engineering, knowledge, will, power, intention, design, signs of intelligence etc. etc. This something reflecting that these are not from the computer itself, it must be somewhere else. That logic works. But when we apply this logic to God: God is not like sun because the sun already exists in the universe. God is not like engineer because the engineer already exists in the universe…and they all use what they are given. Take this logic and apply it to the existence of the universe: “Yes, the universe must also have an Intelligent Maker, external to it, not of the same kind as the universe.”
- The universe must be made by an externally Existent Agent, what is that?
Human logic only works within the conditions of the universe unless it is pointed out. That is why revelation is necessary. Without revelation, we cannot imagine an Absolute Being who has the ability to create without using any elements, just as a result of will. That is what we can understand. That is what the Quran describes the act of the universe as the result of the will of the Creator. “He willed it this way”, which means without using any materials from the universe (mubashara—no physical touching, relationship, but only willed it to exist).
- If an architect says that I made this building, then did s/he will it without using any materials, order, gravity and it happened, or did s/he have to follow a certain order in the universe?
- If you create something without using any pre-existing elements, then you are the Creator.
Human mind can understand that there must be something in the analogies.
This is why some scholars say that human mind can find God. We cannot find “God” as It is described in the Scriptures, but only the Necessity of an agent. Can we define God? No, not without revelation pointing it out for me which is guiding me. Some scholars say that believe in God necessitates describing the qualities of God. No, that is not possible either because God, by definition is Absolute and we cannot define the Absolute. Some people blindly follow the scripture and say that we cannot find God by ourselves without the revelation. Hence, the division in scholarship occurs: 1/ human mind cannot find God versus 2/ human mind can only find the Necessity of an agent. #2 brings about some sort of acceptable explanation but without qualifying God (or the need for revelation). In other words, what do you mean by God? That is why in polytheist traditions, they accept a symbol representing God because they cannot think of going out of the universe and they need to represent this Necessary Existence of the external agent through symbols. “Because we cannot comprehend It, so we have to symbolize It with materials from the universe.”
- Idol worshipping is nothing but “symbolization” of the notion that there must be an Agent behind the existence of the universe and I cannot comprehend It and so let me symbolize It. This logic is within human capacity and we can see the examples of it in the universe.
Some Muslim scholars said: Can human beings find God? If you think about this, it is a logical fallacy. Where did you get the concept of God? What is God? Where did you get this concept of God if there were no revelation? Thus the question is illogical, therefore, redundant.
Hence, use the analogy only for concluding a Necessarily Existent One. And then investigate the universe and see if the universe needs an agent and which kind of agent it must be. This must be a Creator (agent) and we have to define what “Creator” means.
- Without revelation, mind cannot go beyond the universe as we see throughout the history of mankind. They symbolized the creator in the form of a being in the universe or most recently the matter itself as its creator which is the worst and most illogical conclusion to explain the existence of the universe with its own self! There must be an explanation explaining the Existence of a Necessary Being which must have given existence only with will. It means “Absolute”.
If you have never heard of the concept of God, then it is very difficult to grasp the concept. They say that natural laws or constants in the order of the universe are the agents. They do not describe which kind of agents they are, do the agents have freewill? They cannot go beyond this universe without revelation: “Why did not I give the possibility of a Necessarily Absolute Being?”
- If someone is not aware of the content of the word ‘creation’ and “Creator”, what does it really mean or should mean, then s/he does not know what s/he is talking about? Example: “I have composed the music.” As if, I have created the music from nothing without taking into account my given abilities, gravity and the order in the universe, my experiences throughout my learning process. Some believers also do not know what kind of language they are using and what they mean by the vocabulary they are using for their arguments. We must work on it and study for ourselves!!
If you have already established the notion of a Creator, then you must hear and use the revelation which says: “If someone has not received me, then this person is not responsible to believe in the Creator.” People can either take the attitude of negligence (I do not care of how what I grow is coming, I only eat and have them) or they think and say that there must be a Necessarily Existent Agent (“Creator” word is very strong), but I do not know who It is and I am not denying that it is necessary to have an Agent. General public usually symbolizes this Agent in the form of stars, sun, moon or the spirit of things… because they do not know. Potentially, human beings are able to receive this message from the Creator and this potentiality starts developing into capacity, otherwise by itself it does not develop. That is why, if someone does not receive revelation, then revelation does not take them into account, although you may wonder: “why have they not acknowledged God, the Creator?” Hence, we cannot treat people of Tibet (for example) as you treat people in North America because they have heard of the Creator. Have they worked on it? Have they taken it seriously? That is people’s personal problem, not the theoretical problem.
- Theoretical problem only works for people who have never heard any message from revelation.
Without any revelation, human beings have the potentiality to conclude “an agent”. We are enabled to check the revelation but without revelation we go nowhere. What does Mathematics say about zero? They do not say that zero is non-existent, rather a thing (by definition, existence of a thing does not exist within the limited area of what we define) which does not exist. Example: there are 3 plates here, take them away, then there is no plate in the room. Mathematically, there is 0 plate in the room. That is human mind. If there was no such concept of plate and objects in the universe, can I say 0? No. Historically Western Civilizations could not find even 0 i.e. in Latin numerical system, there is no zero and infinite because they were thinking deeply enough about the logical way of thinking. They could not question the non-existence of anything, let alone creation’s coming into existence from non-existence. Later, human experience developed. Human logic says that 0 points to the absence of something. That is why in materialist Physics, you cannot bring anything into existence from non-existence. Everything is within the universe and that is human logic which can only think of within the conditions of this universe. How about infinite? That is, if you start counting the number of particles in an atom, you cannot come to an end. How can you express this mathematically? Infinite. Again, this is done within the conditions of this universe i.e. we may take is as a human disability or incapability to count. Can a materialist mind (not open to revelation) imagine that infinite refers to something beyond the universe? No. Whatever level of understanding of infinite in mathematics is, it is always within the universe. If one says infinite after having the concept of God, the Creator from revelation, then it does not mean the mathematical concept of infinite. That is why we call it “Absolute”, not to confuse the vocabulary.
- Absolute means not within the limit of this universe.
Mathematics/Human mind cannot measure what is not within this universe, either in terms of 0 or infinite. That is why human minds only works with numbers: 1,2,3,4,5… We cannot find 0 and infinite unless we heard from someone else. When revelation speaks about zero, it means non-existence within the capacity of the universe, not in Absolute terms (non-existence of a thing that I imagined within the universe.). There is no Absolute non-existence. Example: A phoenix is a bird that does not exist, it is imaginary and made up by human mind. This is, you are thinking of it in the universe. That is why, no one can say that there is no Absolute non-existence. Physics/Science works within the universe, not in Absolute terms. Example: they try to count the number of galaxies. They try to understand the signals they receive from the galaxies within the universe. Only revelation comes and says that there is something without the universe, not within the universe and that is why there is no Absolute Non-Existence. You can imagine something, and it does not exist within the universe physically, that is correct. That is why you cannot physically imagine the Absolute Creator. That is why fundamentally the Quranic teaching is emphasizing on this i.e. you cannot physically imagine anything outside of the universe.
- The Prophetic teaching is the Quranic teaching ultimately which says: “Do not try to imagine the Creator but TRY to GRASP the manifestations of its qualities.”
- As soon as we say “manifestations of its qualities”, where do we go? The universe. We can imagine something within the universe.
- In the example of the Phoenix, you are thinking of a bird which never exists within the universe and you are thinking of it in the universe. This analogy does not work because this will lead you to imagine the Creator, God as well.
- I am free to imagine anything I want in the universe, but that imagination does not have a physical existence. And so, I cannot imagine an Absolute Source in physical terms because such a One, by definition, is not within the universe.
Yes, the concept of non-existence of something within the universe is reasonable, however, Absolute abstract non-existence does not exist. Why? The universe must have a Creator after hearing from revelation and seeing evidence pointing to its existence in the universe, I say non-existence can be talked about as something within the universe, however, outside the universe, I cannot imagine such a concept. But human logic says, by using the evidence and signs from the universe, that there must be a Creator. The concepts of existence and non-existence are driven from our experience of the universe, but we cannot refer the concept of non-existence to the Source of Existence which is, by definition of being the Source of the universe, not of the nature of the universe.
- Within the universe, all I can conclude is a Maker, an Agent which gave existence to the universe without revelation, but I cannot imagine the Absolute Existence of the Creator because there is no like of it here in the universe. I logically understand that such an agent must exist which creates and has Absolute qualities without using any elements, energy… That is human logic, confirming the message of the revelation.
- Human potentiality confirms the existence of an agent but cannot imagine it as Absolute (i.e. not of the nature of the universe) without revelation.
When we are careful with our language, we find the fallacies in the claims of the deniers where they knowingly or unknowingly make the false statements. Also, you can see false statements by those who claim to believe. Among the believers, you can see how they claim the existence of a Creator. That is why followers of Christian theology, up to now, can only say an “Intelligent Agent”.
That means, the teachings of the revelation Jesus introduced to human beings should not be confused with the understanding or representation of the people who may identify themselves with his teachings. The same goes with the Muslim’s representing the teachings of the Qur’an. We need to study the scripture itself. We may benefit from the teachings of the other people, but there is a fundamental difference between the teachings of the people and what the scripture itself is teaching. The scripture is physically limited, but meaning wise is infinite, open to new interpretations with no end. But everyone’s understanding is limited to their capacity.
- Human potentiality concludes an Intelligent Agent but then we need to define It (Intelligent Agent) with the aid of revelation.
- That is why revelation describes the agent as an “Intelligent, Conscious Self-Existing Absolute Being”.
Comment: Should I be concerned about “where is such a being”?
The word “where” refers to the universe. You are doing the same thing as Mathematicians i.e. within the universe.
Comment: So, what am I supposed to say, “what is such a being?”
“Where”, “What” and “Who” are concepts valid within the universe. Just conclude logically with all your human qualities that “such a being must exist”.
Comment: Is this the end of the story?
No. Try to understand the qualities of such a being by the manifestations of Its qualities in the work that It displays in front of you. Analyze the universe, study the universe from angelic side of the universe i.e. the meaning they refer to. I can understand the qualities as much as I can perceive the manifestation of it in the universe. But I can potentially conclude that the Source of Existence of these qualities must be Absolute. Can you comprehend Absolute? No, but potentially you can acknowledge the Existence of the Absolute.
- As a human being, that is all I can do, acknowledge the Necessary Existence of an Absolute Being after hearing it from revelation.
These are legitimate human questions within the universe, but they are contradictory i.e. have a false assumption and speaking from God’s perspective as if you already know God. What do you mean “what”, “where”, “who”? That is why Islamic fundamental teaching summarizes: “He is everywhere but nowhere”. This is contradictory. This vocabulary “where” and “everywhere” belongs to the universe and you cannot apply this vocabulary to a thing which is not within the universe. This commonly used expression tries to say that you can experience His qualities in the existence of everything in this universe, but you cannot experience His Essence or Being within the universe. That is why we cannot imagine the Essence of the qualities of an Absolute Being. We can only logically conclude that these qualities of the beings in the universe point to their Source as the Absolute One.
Comment: At the same time, whatever I acknowledge or conclude is within the universe. Then, I should stop there and use revelation as a guide to understand the details of the qualities of the Creator.
People easily say that “the Quran is a guide” which is easy to say, but to confirm that? To be able to confirm that I am potentially able to confirm what I am taught and become aware of the Necessity Existence of the Absolute Being without referring its qualities to anything in the universe. And, the universe witnesses to the Necessary Existence of these qualities in Absolute terms. That is what we must learn and that is what revelation teaches.
Comment: When scientists discover or conclude something, they say “oh let us study this”. I would say, yes study it but what does it mean or what does it refer to? The qualities manifested in the object refers to what?
That is why in the teachings of the Quran, every particle witnesses the Necessary Existence of an Absolute Being. So, I must find there the signs pointing to It. That is why the Quran uses the word “signs” for anything in the universe. Universe is a “sign,” and the Quran is an “instruction” teaching you how to confirm your potentiality, but you cannot turn your potentiality into capacity by yourself without being reminded.
Comment: When one acknowledges or concludes something, then they need to work on what does the quality or object refer to?
Everything in its existence must point to the Absolute Source of its Existence, the Creator. Only the Creator gives existence to a particle without using anything from this universe. Just wills it and that is it. That is why, no one can explain the existence of a particle within the universe. Existence of a thing is important.
- Existence of a quality is important, rather than the quality itself.
After you question the existence of this quality, then the quality becomes important. If you do not question the existence of a quality, then you cannot study the quality. This experiencing of the quality will be futile. Example: when you study a computer, what do you see? The existence of some qualities in it. As far as human made side of the computer is concerned, every quality within the computer points to the quality of the engineer or the order or matter used in it. When you look at the universe, take a particle and question the existence of this particle, then you cannot refer it to anything within the universe altogether. That is why the Quran says: “Bring all your helpers (not only scientists) and try to explain the existence of the smallest animal that you can see i.e. gnat.” (Qur’an, 22: 73.) In order to give existence (khalaq), can you get all the elements of the universe and make a “virus”, can you? No. Can the universe be the Source of Existence of its own parts? Logically question it. You will realize that the universe means something which consists of its own parts. Do you notice the contradiction in the question? Unfortunately, some bias so called modern scientists claim that the parts of the universe is made, organized or developed by the universe!!
Quranic guidance is so simple and radical. Scientists say that these qualities function in the matter itself because matter exists with its qualities. They do not question the existence of these qualities. Nothing in the universe can give existence to these qualities itself. A thing consists of nothing but its qualities.
- Quran says: “Everything in all its aspects of existence points to the Absolute Being because everything is nothing but composition of qualities.” That is why no one can get the ultimate particle which is the founding stone of a being so that the qualities are added to it. Also, that is why you cannot get to the end of this universe either in micro or macro level. Quranic teaching is so simple that you can even see these points included in the message.
We take some words for granted. Example: Yes, human beings have these qualities but who gave existence to these qualities both in physical and sensual terms? Let’s take “hate” for example. Can you attribute the existence of hate to anything in this universe? You may take all universe logically and freely without any bias and then ask, “Can the universe produce the sense of hate or produce DNA for hate? Pay attention that the order is continuously renewed, and the particles of the universe do not know what hate is; they themselves are subject to the order of the universe, they cannot be the source of existence of something to which they are subject to. Although it is illogical but still some people call this as “evolution” without questioning what is evolving according to what? Is the order of the universe evolving or the universe is evolving according to the order of the universe? Which one? All attempts which try to explain how the universe is itself working by itself inevitably fall into self-contradictory explanations.
You can swallow many ideas either put by religious people or atheist people if you do not pay attention to details in the language. You must question: what do you mean by this? Where did you get this idea from? Example: there is no Creator in the universe, a thing which gives “existence” to something. So, how can I develop the concept of Creator without any experiment? Also, with analogies you only conclude an agent, not a Creator i.e. “Khaliq”, “Bariq” (or Originator) and “Musawwir” (or gives forms) …
- Essentially, anything in the universe points to the fundamental qualities of the Creator.
- How about the existence of forms? That is not questioned much. When questioned, then you end up with a Creator.
- Existence of form can only be given by the One who gave existence to the universe.
These vocabularies are the foundations of belief. If you ignore it once, you get lost.
Comment: What do I do after concluding “the Necessarily Existent One”?
I am in the universe and we are talking about something which is not in the universe, but which is the Source of Existence of this universe. What do I do now? Use the evidence which is the universe. Use anything in the universe. The Quran challenges: Study anything in the universe and you will see that it points to the Necessity of the Existence of a Necessarily Existent One. It means that you have explained your existence on a proper way that you can feel secure in your existence: “I belong to Him, everything belongs to Him, I have to worship Him, i.e. I have to extend all of my human feelings to Him alone, nothing else. I am free from the fear of falling into nonexistence, and free from attributing my existence to any being within the universe. I present my pledge of loyalty to Him alone. I obey and establish my life according to His Will not according to my egoistic concerns. I respect every being as His sign to witness the qualities of His presence in them. I take the teachings of the Message He sends with the instructor who is called the messenger as my guide for my life etc.” Whatever happens to you and whatever you are given is from Him. Then, life becomes meaningful, purposeful and pleasurable because you are secure in your existence and you do not worry about anything as far as your existence is concerned. This understanding is called “Iman bil ghaib” (belief in Absolute) i.e. believing and being certain about the existence of something which is not of the kind of creation.
Ghaib (Absolute) means “beyond human capacity of perception” is the closest meaning that a scholar came up with. That is the result of a thought but still not clear. If something is beyond my perception, then how can I conclude it. Ghaib in the language of the Quran is not of the nature of this universe.
- The Necessarily Existent One cannot be of the nature of this universe because it is the Creator.
That is why belief (Imaan) must be described with this kind of language (above bullet point). The Quran says that you must believe in the Necessary Existence of ghaib.
- Belief mean that you cannot perceive it and experience it but you can be sure of its Necessary Existence i.e. there must be such a thing.
- Belief means “confirm”, that is within your potentiality.
If you are trained by the revelation, then it becomes (not the ghaib itself), rather, it becomes more and more logically consistent what the revelation teaches you and…
- the conclusion of logical consistency is not within the universe (Absolute) because logic only works within the universe and only deduces the necessity of existence of something exists without the universe, but logic cannot describe what or how It is.
- the Necessity of the Existence of Absolute Being now becomes not a knowledge but a “belief” because it is outside the nature of this universe, so it must be ghaib. I am sure of its existence.
Belief is not contradicting your reality. Your reality accepts and comprehends “belief in ghaib” but your reality cannot comprehend the essence or nature of “ghaib”.
Tags: Arguments for Messengership Series, Belief in Messengership of Muhammad, Conscious Agent, Eternity, Guidance, Institution of Messengership, Intelligent Agent