Mankind in general has maintained a belief in the existence of the Creator of the Universe since time immemorial. The duty of the prophets of Allah was not so much to inform their people of Allah’s existence as to warn them against associating others with
Him, and to teach them how to serve Him.
“Their messengers said, ‘Is there any doubt concerning Allah, the originator of the Heavens and the Earth?'” [, 14:10]
The early Muslim scholars did not even have to address the issue of the Existence of God, for it was a blatantly obvious fact which nobody questioned. It was only around the fourth century after hijrah, when people’s doctrine started being infiltrated with atheism and permeated by unbelief, that the scholars had to address the issue.
Human beings acquire knowledge through four different channels: credible reports, intuition (or instinct), deduction and sense perception. Each of these channels can lead us to knowledge of the existence of Allah.
1. Scriptural evidence
The major religions of the world have scriptures which teach of the existence of the Creator. If a scripture can be proved to be genuinely from God, then this serves as a credible report informing us about the existence of Allah. In particular, the, the only revealed book which has remained totally intact and preserved, is an enduring miracle of signs pointing to its divine origin. It also establishes the existence of Allah by compelling rational arguments. It decisively establishes His uniqueness and non-resemblance to creation, and emphasizes that worship is only for Him.
2. The proof of fitrah
As already mentioned, the human being has an inherent and inborn recognition of his Creator. This is a consequence of a pledge which Allah took from the soul of every one of us before we came into this world:
“And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘Yes.'” Q[7:172]
Every human being is born with this natural disposition, which is called fitrah.
Abu Hurayrah has reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said,
“Every child is born upon fitrah, then it is his parents who make him Jewish, or Christian, or Magian (Zoroastrian), just as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal; do you find it mutilated?” [Bukhari]
But, this fitrah sometimes becomes latent, especially when the human being is in a corrupt and spiritually degenerate environment which is devoid of reminder and exhortation towards the Lord. The fitrah surfaces, however, in times of calamity and
distress. How many avowed atheists find themselves raising their hands to the skies in supplication when in affliction! And how do the staunch unbelievers cry out for deliverance when they are faced with death!
“[Allah] it is who causes you to travel over land and sea; until, when you are in the ships, and they sail with [their passengers] with a fair breeze, and they are glad therein, a tempestuous wind reaches them, waves are coming at them from everywhere, and they
think that they are overwhelmed therein; [then] they call to Allah, making their faith pure for Him [alone], ‘If You save us from this, we will surely be among the thankful!'” [, 10:23]
Yet, this sincerity is often short-lived.
“Then, when he saves them, behold! They rebel upon the earth wrongfully.” [, 10:24]
Mankind is all too apt, during the course of his daily life of comfort and enjoyment, to forget his Lord.
“And when some trauma touches man, he calls to his Lord, turning repentant to Him. Then, when He grants him a favor from Himself, he forgets that for which he called to Him before, and sets up partners to Allah.” [, 39:8]
It is to awaken and alert this fitrah that Allah, in His mercy and wisdom, sent Messengers to remind people of their true religion, and to direct them towards fulfilling their commission of serving their Lord. Allah has ordered His prophet to proclaim,
“O mankind! If you are in [any] doubt regarding my religion, then [know that] I do not worship those whom you worship besides Allah, but I worship Allah Who will take your souls.” [, 10:105]
The specific mention of death here drives home the stark reality, which even the pagans must concede to when faced with the glaring, intuitive evidence, that Allah alone causes death. The rational individual, then, should prepare for this inevitability by responding to his Lord. Islam is merely a hearkening by man to his nature, an acceptance of that which is naturally good and intuitively right.
“So, set your face toward the religion in uprightness. That is the fitrah of Allah, upon which He has created mankind. [Let there be] no changing of Allah’s creation.” [, 30:30]
There are others who stubbornly resist this truth and reject Allah’s message when it is presented before them, although they are well aware of its veracity. This was the attitude of Pharaoh and his supporters, and its consequences are severe, in this world and the Hereafter:
“They rejected [Our signs], although their own souls were convinced of their truth, [and this they did] out of iniquity and arrogance. See, then, what was the sequel for those who cause corruption!” [, 27:14]
Yet, even hardened deniers who stand in the way of truth, resist it and fight against it, may grab hold of it at the last moment, before it is too late, for on account of the surfacing of the fitrah, a disbeliever who is faced with death on the battlefield may suddenly embrace Islam. The believer in the battlefield will also face death frequently, thus enhancing and sharpening his awareness of Allah.
We may also note that morality and decency call for a person to be grateful to the granter of a gift. As human beings living in this world, we are blessed with innumerable bounties from Allah. Recognition of the responsibility to be thankful to Allah is perhaps the start, and obedience to His commands are a manifestation of that thankfulness, but this must inevitably be based on a solid foundation of recognition and knowledge of the Creator, and love coupled with reverential fear and awe. The Muslim must love his Creator above all else (see, 2:165) and he strives also to be loved by Allah, one of whose names is The Loving (see , 85:14). Although Allah is not seen, His attributes are manifested to us in the universe. The mighty systems of planets and stars, the wonders of land, sea, wind, rain, night and day, and the marvels of life from the tiniest organism to the complex human body all tell us about Allah and his attributes. (see , 2:164, 3: 190, 45:3 for example) This is aside, of course, from the words of Allah and the prophets’ explanation and implementation of them, and all of this contributes to the individual’s personal spiritual experience.
3. Rational proof
It is intuitively obvious, and confirmed by science, that the universe had a beginning. The ongoing expansion of the universe, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics are among the scientific evidences which support this. Every action requires a doer, and thus the existence of creation necessarily indicates the existence of the Creator. A Bedouin, when asked how he recognized the existence of Allah, replied, “Footsteps indicate [a creature’s] passage, and a dropping indicates [the presence of] a camel. So, the sky, with its columns of stars, the earth with its mountain passes, and the seas with their waves; does [all of] this not indicate [the existence of] the Knower of the Finest Details, the Well-Aware?”
Allah appeals to the human mind and rationality in the, saying, (translated),
“Or were they created by nothing, or were they the creators [of themselves]?” Q[52:35]
Quite obviously, we have been created, and brought into existence after having been non-existent. Nothingness cannot be the cause of existence. It is also plain that we do not create ourselves, for something with a beginning can never have been the cause of its own beginning. The verse subtly points to the truth by mentioning only these two potentialities, and the logical mind automatically reaches the correct conclusion, which is implied but not explicitly stated : namely, that there must be a Creator. Then, in case an obstinate individual chooses still to argue, claiming that perhaps life arose through evolution, the next verse forms a decisive case, silencing any opposition.
“Or, did they create the heavens and the earth?! Nay, they are not sure.”
So, the wretched individual who opts for barren disputation is challenged, as if to say to him : If you think that life indeed arose through evolution, you still cannot escape, for in that case, who created the heavens and the earth, and made conditions favorable for life therein?
The multitudinous phenomena of change affecting virtually every component in the universe each involve some manner of origination of new forms, movements or characteristics. These occurrences must necessarily have a causative agent, and a rational progression of reflection leads the mind to the inevitable conclusion that there must have been a starting point; that the universe must have had initial characteristics and matter bestowed upon it by a Creator. Postulation of an infinite succession of universes or events does not resolve the dispute, for each stage in the ‘infinite progression’ would still require an agent to cause it – as opposed to any other of the myriad potential possibilities – to come into existence or happen. At some point in this series, there would still have to be an external agent Who does not need a creator, by virtue of being transcendent above the limitations and changes which are indicative of being dependent and of having a beginning.
“And [has he not been informed] that to your Lord is the ending point?” [53 (Al-Najm): 42]
“Is, then, He Who creates, like he who does not create? Do you not reflect?” [, 16:17]
Having recognized the necessity of existence of a Creator, one then realizes that there can only be one Creator.
“If there were in [the heavens and the earth] gods others than Allah, [the heavens and earth] would surely have been disordered.” [, 21:22]
“Allah has not taken a son, nor is there any god with Him, for in that case, each god would assuredly have championed that which he created, and some of them would surely have overcome others. Glorified be Allah above that which they allege!” [, 23:91]
Above and beyond all of these piercingly distinct evidences, the balance, interaction and harmony of the universe and its various systems testify to the existence of a powerful, wise creator. If we look at our bodies, we see that every limb, every organ, every capillary and nerve has a specific, well-defined role, and they all interact with amazing precision and directedness.
“Our Lord is He Who gave everything its nature, and then guided.” [(20) Taha, 50]
In fact, every part of creation, from the smallest atom to the massive galaxies, is a sign of the existence of Allah. Human reason refuses to accept that such a complex system as the universe can come into existence and run on its own.
“Indeed, in the heavens and the earth are signs for the believers.” [, 45:3]
“In the earth are signs for those who are sure. And in your own selves [are signs]; do you not see?” [(51) Al-Dhariyat, 21]
4. Sensory experience
We witness and experience the answering of prayers, and this in itself indicates the existence of Allah. Allah says,
“When you sought help of your Lord, and he answered you.” [, 8:9]
Bukhari and Muslim have both narrated the hadeeth in which a bedouin asked the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to pray for rain, since crops were perishing and people were starving. The prophet prayed to Allah for rain, and almost immediately clouds began to gather and it began raining heavily. Also in this category of evidence are the miracles which people witness at the hands of their prophets, including
the splitting of the moon by Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and the enduring miracle of the.
Who is accountable?
Every human being or jinn who is adult, sane and in receipt of the message of Islam is accountable before Allah for his/her beliefs, words and deeds, and is termed a mukallaf. Adulthood is defined in this context as reaching physical maturity or the age of fifteen lunar years, whichever comes first. The evidence for the first two conditions is the hadeeth, “The [recording] pen is lifted off from three [categories of people] : the child until he reaches maturity, the sleeping one until he awakens, and the insane one until he regains sanity.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud and others]
As for the third condition, receipt of the message, the fitrah is a compelling proof, and a person is left with no excuse before Allah once he has been reminded through the message of a Prophet.
“Messengers, harbingers of glad tidings and warners, in order that mankind may have no argument before Allah after the Messengers. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.” [, 4:165]
Some may venture to say, based on the following verse, that a person is accountable even before he has received the message, by sole virtue of possessing the fitrah.
“How many a sign is there in the heavens and the earth, which they pass by with their faces turned away!” [, 12:105]
This has indeed been the conclusion reached by some scholars, but the position of the majority of scholars is that one does not become accountable until one has received the message. Allah says, (translated),
“And We never punish until We have sent a messenger.” [, 17:15]
Finally, we should bear in mind that abundant though the proofs may be, they are only of avail to those who honestly and sincerely search for the truth. As for those obdurate ones who simply refuse to believe, they will not cease their idle disputation.
“And they say, ‘Our hearts are in a covering from that to which you call us, and in our ears is a deafness, and between us and you is a veil, so act, we [also] are acting.” [, 41:5]
“Those against whom the decree of your Lord has been verified, will not believe, although every sign should come to them, until they see the painful punishment.” [, 10:96-97]
We ask Allah to keep us firm in faith and to bring us our end in it.
A preliminary form of this article was published in Al-Jumu`ah Magazine.“