Islamic beliefs and information
A Godless Universe?
Maulana Muhammad Adnan Chishti Attari Madani
Imam to millions of Muslims across the globe, Imam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه was a formidable opponent of atheists in his era. As a constant threat to their ideology, he was always at risk of being assassinated by them. On one occasion, he رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه was sitting in the masjid when a party of atheists suddenly surrounded him, branding unsheathed swords in their hands and a murderous desire in their eyes. The Imam was unmoved, and simply said, ‘Answer my question, then do whatever you want.’ As they agreed, the Imam asked, ‘What do you say about a person who claims that he saw a boat sailing straight but there was no one to navigate it, it was loaded with heavy items, turbulent waves were crashing, and gales were blowing from different directions. Is this rationally acceptable?’ The atheists replied, ‘Certainly not; this is an illogical claim.’
Sayyiduna Imam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه then said, ‘سُـبْحٰـنَ الـلّٰــه! When the intellect cannot accept a simple boat sailing straight without a sailor to navigate it, then how can this complex universe with its alternating nights and days, and its careful order and precision exist and maintain itself?’ Hearing this, they all began to weep. They cried out, ‘You have spoken the absolute truth.’ Putting down their swords, they acknowledged their grossly mistaken beliefs and repented, (Tafseer Kabeer, Surah Al-Baqarah, under the verse 21, Juzz Saani, vol. 1, p. 333).
This incident draws our attention to a simple observation: nothing, not even a small needle, comes into existence without a cause. Moreover, even something as small as a needle requires design and does not come into existence through a random explosion. We observe that explosions are destructive, not creative. When a needle is not a product of an explosion, then isn’t it a mockery to say that this entire universe is the result of a random explosion?
We witness constant changes in the cosmos and the world around us, whereby entities and events are born and perish. These constant changes prove the contingent nature of the universe and subsequently the need for a creator. That creator is Allah Almighty. He عَزَّوَجَلَّ is pre-eternal, everlasting, and the creator of all worlds. The skies, Earth, Moon, stars, humans, animals, and everything else that exists or will exist, are created by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ. As a traveller passes through the desert and sees the unequal dunes and the scattered rocks, he immediately knows that the wind caused the dunes and the rocks to scatter. When this same individual enters a grand building and sees the well-styled carpet, utensils, vases placed on tables, ceramic wall art, and the sublime curtains hanging on the doors – he does not conclude that all of this adornment came into existence by itself or that the winds laid out the carpet, the rain adorned the utensils, snow created the ceramic wall art, and strong winds gathered all these stones. Such a claim would of course be deemed sheer foolishness.
It is self-evident that everything in the building was carefully positioned by an interior designer. In the same way, the alternating day and night, the blowing winds, the precise positions of Earth in the solar system, and every other aspect of nature inform us that all of this did not come into existence by itself rather it is all due to an uncaused causer - Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, the creator of the universe.
Upon reflecting, one thing that stands out is that creation is a combination of three types:
1. Sentient, rational creatures such as humans, jinn, and angels.
2. Sentient, non-rational creatures such as animals, insects, and birds.
3. Insentient, inanimate objects such as the sky, planets, and natural elements.
In the hierarchy of creation, humans reign supreme yet, despite their intellectual capacity and ability to rationalise, they are incapable of creation ex nihilo. Then, by even greater reason, what hope is there for the insentient, inanimate matter to create something? This proves that the one who created everything must be distinct from the creation, and that is Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ.
Even if all of creation collaborated and pooled together their abilities and resources, they would be unable to create something out of nothing, not even a small ant or a simple, single-celled organism, let alone the vast universe with its complexities. Those who consider things other than Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ to be their god, even their claimed gods cannot create an ant or a fly. This has been pointed out in the Quran:
اِنَّ الَّذِیْنَ تَدْعُوْنَ مِنْ دُوْنِ اللّٰهِ لَنْ یَّخْلُقُوْا ذُبَابًا وَّ لَوِ اجْتَمَعُوْا لَهٗؕ-
‘Those whom you worship other than Allah will never be able to (even) create a fly, even if they all come together for it.’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 17, Surah Al-Hajj, Verse 73)
The Quran emphasises Allah’s supremacy as the sole creator of everything, without compeer or partner:
نَحْنُ خَلَقْنٰكُمْ فَلَوْ لَا تُصَدِّقُوْنَ(۵۷) اَفَرَءَیْتُمْ مَّا تُمْنُوْنَؕ(۵۸) ءَاَنْتُمْ تَخْلُقُوْنَهٗۤ اَمْ نَحْنُ الْخٰلِقُوْنَ(۵۹) نَحْنُ قَدَّرْنَا بَیْنَكُمُ الْمَوْتَ وَ مَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوْقِیْنَۙ(۶۰) عَلٰۤى اَنْ نُّبَدِّلَ اَمْثَالَكُمْ وَ نُنْشِئَكُمْ فِیْ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُوْنَ(۶۱) وَ لَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ النَّشْاَةَ الْاُوْلٰى فَلَوْ لَا تَذَكَّرُوْنَ(۶۲) اَفَرَءَیْتُمْ مَّا تَحْرُثُوْنَؕ(۶۳) ءَاَنْتُمْ تَزْرَعُوْنَهٗۤ اَمْ نَحْنُ الزّٰرِعُوْنَ(۶۴) لَوْ نَشَآءُ لَجَعَلْنٰهُ حُطَامًا فَظَلْتُمْ تَفَكَّهُوْنَ(۶۵) اِنَّا لَمُغْرَمُوْنَۙ(۶۶) بَلْ نَحْنُ مَحْرُوْمُوْنَ(۶۷) اَفَرَءَیْتُمُ الْمَآءَ الَّذِیْ تَشْرَبُوْنَؕ(۶۸) ءَاَنْتُمْ اَنْزَلْتُمُوْهُ مِنَ الْمُزْنِ اَمْ نَحْنُ الْمُنْزِلُوْنَ(۶۹) لَوْ نَشَآءُ جَعَلْنٰهُ اُجَاجًا فَلَوْ لَا تَشْكُرُوْنَ(۷۰) اَفَرَءَیْتُمُ النَّارَ الَّتِیْ تُوْرُوْنَؕ(۷۱) ءَاَنْتُمْ اَنْشَاْتُمْ شَجَرَتَهَاۤ اَمْ نَحْنُ الْمُنْشِــٴُـوْنَ(۷۲) نَحْنُ جَعَلْنٰهَا تَذْكِرَةً وَّ مَتَاعًا لِّلْمُقْوِیْنَۚ(۷۳) فَسَبِّحْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الْعَظِیْمِ۠(۷۴)
We created you, so why do you not accept the truth? Have you contemplated over that semen which you discharge (in the womb of a woman)? Is it you who creates a human being out of it, or are We the Creator? It is We who have decreed death amongst you, and We have not been outdone from it. That (after causing you to die), We may replace the likes of you and make you into such forms, of which you know not. And indeed you have known about the initial creation, so why do you not ponder? So have you considered that which you sow? Is it you who makes crops to grow, or are We the Grower? If We desire, We can make it like dry trampled grass, so you would remain saying sorrowfully. That, ‘We have been ruined (in our wealth).’ ‘Rather, we remained ill-fated.’ So what do you say regarding the water which you drink? Is it you who brought it down from the clouds, or is it We Who cause it to come down? If We desire, so We can make it salty, then why are you not grateful? So what do you say regarding the fire which you ignite? Is it you who grew its tree, or is it We Who are the Creator of it? We have made it (i.e. the fire) a reminder of Hell and as a benefit for travellers in the jungle. So O Beloved, glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most Great.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 27, Surah Al-Waaqi’ah, Verses 57-74)
The same theme is echoed throughout the Quran, in several verses, which refresh the faith of one who reads them and internalises their meanings.