Prelude: Belief in the Unseen
Our five senses are powerful means for discovering, observing and experiencing the world we live in. Yet, just as we know that a blind man’s inability to see does not disprove the existence of light, it would be presumptuous for us to insist that nothing exists outside of what we can perceive by our senses. Indeed, our minds can conceive the hypothetical existence of other dimensions and worlds in parallel with our own, or beyond it. Advances in human technology demonstrate to us that human knowledge is limited, and thus give us further reason to be humble. A clear, filtered glass of water may actually contain millions of microscopic organisms, which we can only see through a microscope. A dark room might actually contain infrared light, X-rays, radio waves or electromagnetic fields that are invisible to us, yet quite real. The very existence of matter is based on the arrangements and precise roles of countless subatomic particles.
Belief in the angels is the second pillar of faith.
“The Messenger believes in that which has been revealed to him from his Lord, and [so do] the believers. All believe in Allah, His angels and His messengers.” [Qur’an, 2:285]
Muslim belief in angels is based only on authentic scriptural knowledge. Superstition, fantasy and supernatural speculation are unreliable sources of objective knowledge, and hence are not relied upon for matters of belief. Continue reading “2 – Angels”
4. Practical Applications of the Belief in Destiny
4.1 Thankfulness in times of prosperity and well-being
The Muslim should always be thankful to Allah, for he owes all his favors to Him. We should be thankful in the good times such that we do not become arrogant and conceited. We should realize that any success we attain is from Allah, Who could withdraw it whenever He wills. We should not, therefore, be like Qarun, the evil kinsman of Prophet Moses `alayhis-salam, who had been given immense wealth, but claimed the credit for himself. “He said, ‘I have only been given it only because of knowledge which I possess.’ Did he not know that Allah has destroyed before him generations who were mightier than him in power, and greater in number?” [(28) Al-Qasas, 78]
Qarun attributed his wealth to knowledge : either religious knowledge – for it is said that he had memorized the Torah – or worldly knowledge, such as that of trade and commerce. He thus failed the test, for even if the wealth were a partial reward for piety, then in order to remain in the favor of Allah, he should have been thankful to Him and spent the money in good causes such as feeding the poor, helping the needy and working for justice. And, even if he had obtained the money through some worldly business expertise, he overlooked the fact that that was only a means, and that in fact the means themselves could not have been obtained, maintained and exercised without the will and grace of Allah.
“Then, when affliction smites man, he cries out to Us, then when We have removed it, as a favor from Us, he says, ‘I have only been given it based on knowledge.’ Nay! It is a test, but most of them do not know. Those before them said [the same], but all they earned did not avail them [aught].” [(39) Al-Zumar, 49-50] Continue reading “6b – Belief in Qadar (II)”
1. Essentiality of the belief in destiny
The sixth pillar of faith is to believe in destiny, that the good of it and the bad of it is all from Allah. Allah, the Exalted, is the creator, Lord and sustainer of everything in existence. Neither good nor evil comes into being without His leave and knowledge. We do not say, as some religions do, that Allah is Lord of good, but Satan is in charge of the evil.
[We return shortly to the problem of how to reconcile the existence of evil with omnipotence of God.]
(NOTE: Qadar is sometimes translated as ‘destiny,’ and I am using this translation in this article, for easier reading, with the disclaimer that some people’s conceptions of destiny might not be compatible with the correct belief in qadar.)
“Say : Praise be to Allah Who has not taken a son, nor has He any partner in sovereignty.” [(17) Al-Isra, 111]
“Glory be to He in Whose Hand is sovereignty, and He has power over all things.” [(67) Al-Mulk, 1] Continue reading “6a – Belief in Qadar (I)”