SHAFAQNA – With a view to make a study in respect of the source of the creation and the first cause of the development of the universe, it is necessary to give careful consideration to the following points:
1. The world is a reality
The world is a reality which can be felt, observed and perceived. It is not something imaginary or the produce of the conception or notion of anybody. Irrespective of what we think about it and irrespective of the fact whether its phenomena are known to man or not and whether they are put to any use or not, it is an absolute and indisputable reality.
From the point of view of experimental knowledge also the existence of the universe is indisputable, for its phenomena are subject to scientific investigation and research. Had its reality been doubtful, all the scientific effort and research would have been useless and in vain.
2. The world is well‑organized
Through observation, experiment and calculation man has found that the world is well‑organized. There exist definite relations between its elements and its phenomena, and it is governed by firm laws. Normally the object of all scientific research is the discovery of these very laws and relations.
The existence of this systematic organization is so definite that no natural event is considered to be haphazard and having no relation with other phenomena. If it is found that the cause of a phenomenon is not known, various kinds of investigations are carried out for years till its cause is discovered. On the other hand if a law is discovered, its generality and firmness are regarded to be so sure that on its basis big industrial plants are set up and thousands of appliances and implements are manufactured.
Thus the world with all its dimensions has systematic interrelations at all levels, which are so precise and complex that they are evidently well‑calculated.
The progress of science has disclosed that there are definite laws governing the natural phenomena.
“The sun and the moon move according to a reckoning. The plants and the trees submit to His command. He has raised the heaven and has set a standard (law) for that”. (Surah al‑Rahman, 55:5 ‑ 7).
3. `To become’ and its cause
We find a continuous change and development in all the natural phenomena. This change is more evident and conspicuous among the living beings. A tree grows. It bears flowers which open gradually and then wither. The flowers mature slowly into fruits and grains.
The cells of human seed grow slowly and are transformed into an embryo. It develops continuously and ceaselessly till it is delivered. Then the new‑born continues to grow to become old and finally aged.
`To become’ may be expressed as flowing and gradual existence. At every stage a being is different from what it was from what it will be. But in any case a bond exists between these beings and on the whole it is one `flowing being’.
But it is to be seen what causes this `to become’. What is the source of this making, mixing and finding? Why does this development, based on precise and systematic calculation, occur?
4. Cause of systematic development and changes
The harmony and methodical composition found in millions of natural phenomena require a suitable factor. For its growth a plant requires the necessary quantity of the mixture of soil, rain water, solar energy and air components, so that it may bloom and blossom. Which is the power that arranges this working together, mutual attraction and mutual influencing? Why do the various elements in a precise quantity and under specific conditions come together to produce the required effect?
5. Not an accident
If you take a handful of printing types, put them in a bowl, mix them well and then throw them out on a clean surface, how much is the possibility that the letters will be set so precisely that they will cast a whole poem of a famous poet? Naturally the possibility is almost nil.
Or alternately put a type writer before a two‑year old child and let him press the keys with his little fingers. After he has played with the keys for half an hour, see if he has typed an extract from a philosophical treatise of Avicena in Arabic. How far is this possible? Is this conception rational?
It is said that the possibility of the accidental combination of the raw material and the conditions precedent to the coming into being of a living cell are equal to a figure divided by 1016.
A scientist has said that the possibility of the accidental existence of the chain material necessary for the coming into being of a simple protoplasm particle is equal to a figure divided by 104 8 .
Therefore it is evident that all these changes and the development of `becoming’, are governed by precise and well‑calculated scientific laws and are the result of the combination of varied elements and specific conditions. Science has rendered a great service by discovering that there is nothing accidental and haphazard.
6. Is contradiction the cause of `becoming’?
According to the theory of dialectical materialism, every material thing has within it a seed of its death or a seed of inner contradiction, which gradually leads to its destruction. Anyhow, from the heart of death a new life is born.
In other words, as soon as an idea, an incident or any thesis comes into existence, it excites an opposition to itself from within itself. This opposition is called antithesis. Later as the result of a struggle between the, two, a synthesis of them, having a more developed form, comes into being.
Thus the basic cause of the development of everything lies within itself and not outside it. This cause is the contradictory nature of everything and every phenomenon, which produces every movement and all contradictions. In the vegetable and animal kingdoms all natural developments are produced basically by inner contradiction. The same applies to all other developments of the world.
Thus everything comes out of matter and the factor causing its development lies within itself. Every thing is accompanied by contradiction and conflict, which always tend towards evolution.
Now let us see if matter can really have all this power? To what extent is this theory scientific and how far is it supported by the experiments so far carried out?
Is this principle actually universal? Does every change and every development really tend towards evolution or are there instances in which this principle is not applicable? Is contradiction always the main factor behind a movement, or do the forces of attraction and cohesion also work in many cases?
In the course of our forthcoming explanation we will give answer to these questions.
Modern science while discussing the various organic and inorganic systems composed of groups comprising allied material elements, put them in ten ascending classes or levels and divides them into open and closed systems. It declares that:
Only the open systems, and those too under some specific circumstances, can maintain their quality of self‑preservation, propagation and evolution. An open system is that group of things which has a link of conversion with other things. For example it assimilates food and energy and evaluates what is superfluous or harmful.
But the closed systems having little capacity of conversion and propagation, can make nothing besides themselves. It is important to note that closed systems normally produce no automatic change, and even if they have any life and movement, the change which takes place in them, is accompanied by their decay and loss of their effective energy and efficiency.
Incidentally, only the systems comprising living and purposive elements can have an evolutionary change tending towards an increase in their formative arrangement and efficiency, leading to their expansion.
No simple or compound matter and no closed system can ever make itself without outside help. Similarly no collection of various kinds of matter and no group of systems has the power of creating and managing any orderly, well-arranged motile and evolutionary arrangement or system. For this purpose every kind of matter individually and even collectively requires some outside contact and help.
As it is now evident that such an arrangement cannot emerge automatically from within matter, we must look for outside factor to explain its existence, and as we know that the existing arrangement is well‑calculated and orderly, that factor must have consciousness and will to create it.
Contradiction or attraction and cohesion
It is true that in many cases of social changes, the dialectical series of thesis, antithesis and synthesis are clearly observable, and consequent upon contradiction a new order emerges. In other words, in such cases the change and evolution of social system are due to contradiction. We will discuss this subject further when we deal with the philosophy of history. Anyhow, this relationship between society and contradiction is not applicable to all other cases in the cosmos nor is it universal and permanent even in the case of society.
If we look carefully at the phenomena of the world and study them scientifically instead of indulging in poetic fancy, we .shall find that in so many cases there prevails quite a different tendency and a different law. For example, look at the following cases:
Physical and mechanical phenomena, such as heating and expansion of bodies, melting, evaporation, passage of electric current, communication of sound, bodily movement, reactionary change of forms etc., are all due to the action of certain types of energy and are not the result of the establishment of a dialectical chain.
In the case of chemical actions and reactions we often find that two or more elements combine owing to the action of energy, but none of them emerges from within another.
In certain other cases what takes place is splitting which is contrary to synthesis. Incidentally, some acting and reacting bodies tend to combine and have no contradiction. In the domain of life, of course, we come across three consecutive stages of birth, maturity and death, but here also we find a basic difference. Firstly, reproduction or birth (antithesis) from within (a factor) is not possible without the intervention of another factor (male). In other words, the creation of a single‑phase inner chain is not possible. Secondly, the combination of the two factors takes place through attraction and affection and not as the result of contradiction and struggle. Thirdly, between a mother and a child or a thesis and an antithesis in this case, there exists a relationship of lifegiving and sacrifice instead of opposition and destruction.
When we go deep into the matter forming the cosmos we find a great deal of hustle and bustle of electrons and nucleus but we see no trace of the three‑phase movement of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. In contrast, we find various atoms or particles revolving round each other. Only when they are bombarded by other atoms from outside, they sometimes split and convert into new atoms.
Therefore, the rule of the struggle between a thesis and an antithesis and their subsequent synthesis is not universal and applicable to all cases. The dynamic face of the world is actually shaped by the mutual impact of the elements or molecules as well as by other factors mutually interconnected. Their impact brings about such operations as setting the things in motion, their combination, splitting, exchange and in exceptional circumstances even their disintegration.
Instead of the general law of birth, struggle and combination, what is more prevalent is coming together; combination and birth.
Our world is that of union, where things come together either to combine or to dissolve. It is not that of distinct entitles giving birth to contradictories.
Anyhow, the idea is not that we should believe in Allah simply because the dialectical law is neither universal, nor is it one hundred percent scientific, and that if no scientific objection could be raised against them, the dialectical principles could take the place of God. There is no such thing at all;
Firstly, because we know that Hegel, the founder and the inspirer of the dialectical philosophy in the recent centuries was a man who himself believed in God and by means of his own theories came to the conclusion that the world had an absolute will and consciousness.
Secondly, even if the dialectical principles were presumed to be correct and open to no scientific objection that only could have meant that we have just discovered another law of the development and evolution of nature and society. The discovery of natural laws does not mean that we no longer need a law‑giver and designer of nature. The force which, through the power of contradiction, has produced billions of galaxies and other marvelous natural phenomena from matter, is in itself a sign that there exists a cognizant guidance and wise consciousness, which has put in matter the power of creating such an orderly arrangement and has brought about such a well‑calculated world.
The World is a Dependent Reality
Islam regards this world with all its greatness, vastness, and marvels and all the interconnections between its various phenomena as a homogeneous reality dependent upon another Reality which is independent, Sovereign and Supreme. We call this Independent Reality Allah. Like all other imperceptible realities He is recognized by His perceptible signs. It is through these signs that we obtain valuable and fruitful knowledge of Him.
Signs of Allah
The Qur’an which is the basic source of knowing Islamic outlook on the world, repeatedly mentions the signs of Allah and requires men to think over them and through them know the Source of existence, that is Allah. For some people the consideration of these signs is a natural and simple matter. It fully convinces them of His existence. They see Him, not with their eyes but with their inner insight. But for some others it is not so simple because they are accustomed to a good deal of reasoning and analysis in the course of which they sometimes get tired of the intricacies of contrary arguments and fail to reach a definite conclusion, while others go on calmly till they arrive at a clear result.
For the help and guidance of both these classes we propose to mention some forms of recognising Allah through His signs.
(1) Phenomenon and its producer
Suppose you are having a joy ride on a bicycle. Its wheels revolve speedily and enable you to move on. Have the wheels come in motion automatically? Of course, not. It is the motion of the cog‑wheel available in the rear wheel of the bicycle which pushes it forward. But has the cog‑wheel come into motion by itself. The reply is again in the negative. It is the pressure of the motion of the chain which has brought the cog‑wheel into motion. This mechanism in its turn is moved by the pressure of your feet on the pedals. The muscles of your feet receive a signal from your brain. The signal is transmitted by your brain because you have a strong desire to have a ride. This desire may be due to boredom and overwork or your vivacity and craving for enjoyment. Both boredom and vivacity, like all other psychological states, must have some cause behind them which can be traced by some effort.
The doctrine of Causation
This and other examples common in life show that whenever man comes across a phenomenon, his mind looks for a cause, because he believes that everything has a cause. In fact the doctrine of causation is at the root of all kinds of ordinary inquiry as well as scientific research. The adherence of man to this doctrine has grown with the advancement of science and industry. A physicist, an anthropologist or a sociologist strives to discover the cause of every event only because he cannot believe that anything physical or social can happen automatically without the intervention of a cause.
That is why, to ascertain the correct cause, he resorts to hundreds of tests and undertakes study and analysis. If all his tests and his study lead to a negative result, he continues his studies on the basis of some fresh theory but does not give up his efforts till the end of his life unless he arrives at some positive results. If he dies some other scientist or scientists pursue his unfinished work in the hope of finding the relevant cause or causes, but never tend to believe or suppose that anything can come into being without a cause.
In this connection it may be borne in mind that we do not strive to find out the cause of a thing which already exists as a pure reality. We strive to find out the origin and the cause of a thing only when we notice that it is a phenomenon, viz. something which did not exist previously but exists now.
If we think over this point adequately we shall see that our mind immediately on coming across a reality does not express an opinion whether it should or should not have a cause. It first looks at it to see whether it is a phenomenon, viz. whether it was non‑existent previously. In case it is a phenomenon, only then our mind decides that there should be a cause which has brought it into existence. If it is not a phenomenon, it need not have a cause. Thus all that exists does not require a cause. Only a phenomenon requires it.
A world of phenomena
Our world is full of phenomena, that is of the things which were non‑existent and are now existing and the things which do not exist, but are now coming into existence. Every phenomenon must have its producer or producers. If that producer is self‑existing, eternal and not again a phenomenon, then the whole thing is finished and there is no need to raise any further questions. But if the
producer itself is a phenomenon, then it should naturally require another producer.
The search for a producer should continue till we reach a Reality which is not a phenomenon itself. Such Reality will be Eternal and independent of any cause.
Our world being a world of phenomena is a clear sign of the existence of an Omnipotent and Omniscient Being who has produced it. Thus a sensible and inquisitive man can, through this process, find a definite proof of the existence of Allah.
(2) Homogeneity of the existing things
If we look carefully at the things existing around us we Shall find them homogeneous and their inter‑relations subject to such a definite order that arrests man’s attention at his very first contact with nature. The progress of physical sciences has enabled man to have a better knowledge of this mighty system, a system pervading from the tiniest ingredients to the infinitely big ones, from the atom and its inner parts to the galaxies which are near or far, the galaxies some of which are at a distance of 350 million light years1 from us.
The most marvelous is the system pervading the living organisms from the unicellular to the most developed animals, especially man. During your school days you must have read a lot about these things in your science books. Now study these things once more, not for the purpose of replying to the question of the teacher and securing marks and not even for the purpose of their application in the laboratories and the factories but with a view to getting yourself acquainted, to the utmost possible extent, with the vast system dominating the world. When you have refreshed your memory, then think over this question carefully. Is this vast and elaborate system not a definite sign of the existence of an Omnipotent Being, its producer?
Many scientists who have played an important role in discovering the secrets of this system, have heard their inner voice saying to them that these huge mysterious products are the signs of a great Creator, Allah, who is greater than everything and who is too great to be described.
(3) Mutual compatibility of two things not co‑existent
In this world from time to time we come across pairs of things mutually compatible but not co‑existent. For example, we see that the provision of the requirements of one thing has been made in the structure of another which came into existence earlier as if the second had been made keeping in view the demands of the first.
An easily understandable example of this kind is the compatibility found between the parents and the child. Immediately after a woman, or for that matter any female of the mammalia, gets pregnant her milk glands quietly prepare themselves under the influence of particular hormones for feeding the newborn. At the time of its birth normally its food is already available. This food is completely in accord with the digestive system and the nutritional requirement of the baby and is kept stored in a suitable receptacle ‑ the mother’s breast ‑ which was provided years before the birth of the baby with a nipple having tiny holes in order to facilitate the job of suckling.
It may be noted that we are not talking of the reciprocal influence of two coexisting things. Here we are concerned only with those cases in which a provision for the requirements of a thing yet to come into existence was made in the structure of another which came into existence a long time earlier. No doubt this is a sort of foresight accompanied by pre‑planning, and hence is a clear proof of the fact that all these marvels are the work of a powerful consciousness.
You cannot imagine, for example, that the bag you have in your hand might have come into existence purely in the wake of a series of unconscious actions and reactions without any conscious factor being involved. You show your hand‑bag to a materialist thinker and tell him that although normally a hand‑bag is made by a handicraftsman or a worker on machine, your particular bag, as an exceptional case, was made purely under the influence of natural factors and without the intervention of any conscious maker, and then see his reaction. If not in your presence at least in your absence he will certainly say that such and such person was talking nonsense.
This materialist thinker will not accept that there is even one per billion chance that a bag, the parts of which are cut to measurement and then sewn together, might have come into existence purely under the influence of unconscious natural factors. In other words he is certain that in the making of a bag there must be an active role of constructive consciousness. He totally rejects the theory that as an exceptional case a bag can be made by purely natural factors. In his opinion such an idea is unscientific and deserves no consideration.
If we look at the idea from the standards of experimental science, again we come to the same conclusion. Long‑term experience has proved that man has more creative power than any other existing thing, and that he has more power only because of his developed consciousness, knowledge and originality and not because of any other aspect of his life. Hence it may be concluded that there exists a basic relationship between consciousness and creativeness. Therefore the theory that this marvelous system of the universe is the creation of a powerful consciousness is more plausible and in accord with experimental science than the materialistic theory that matter is the origin of all these wonders.
(4) March toward unlimited perfection
A large number of researchers after years of sustained observation, experiment and study have come to the conclusion that the universe without believing in the existence of Allah is a meaningless proposition. They say that as they went deeper into the working of the universe, they realized better that the world is constantly moving forward in a definite direction. On the whole it may be said that it is marching towards perfection without stopping at any intermediate stages of evolution. It appears to have a goal or a destination, and this goal can be nothing but boundless perfection.
That is the only goal commensurate with the evolutionary movement. It may be said that limitless perfection is a powerful magnetic pole attracting everything toward it. Without it there would have been no movement.
This kind of cognition of Allah has a long and valuable history. Besides the works of the great philosophers and mystics, there exist interesting writings of many scientists, especially astronomists, physicists, biologists, psychologists and sociologists on this subject.
The most suitable source of knowing the views of eminent scholars in this regard are the general books of the history of philosophy and the history of science. But as we like not to be influenced by the ideas of any particular persons, we avoid to quote their views.
We know a number of young men, both eastern and western, who have made a vast study of physical sciences and who, in the light of their studies, have realized that without the acknowledgement of an All‑knowing and All‑powerful Lord who created this universe and who is managing its affairs, the entire system of the world appears to be meaningless and absurd.
(5) Eloquent signs
Every phenomenon needs a producer. The chain of producers continues till we reach a producer independent and All‑powerful.
The whole universe is moving and marching forward. This movement must have a goal.
These are clear signs of the existence of Allah. They tell us about Him, but not in words. That is why what they say may not be intelligible to many and may not give satisfaction to them. We advise such people to look directly for the eloquent signs which talk to us in our own language. These eloquent signs are the prophets. For those who are convinced of their prophethood after enough study, the prophets automatically become the natural and eloquent signs of the existence of Allah. As every prophet claims to have contact with Allah by means of revelation and says that he has been detailed by Him to guide the people, we should, in the first instance, look at what they say as a claim and that too a big and extraordinary claim which cannot be accepted easily on its face value.
There have been many who claimed to be prophets, but when later they faced hardship, they openly confessed to be false pretenders.
Hence when we find a person claiming to be a prophet we should carefully scrutinize his claim and should accept it only when it is fully proved. Anyhow, once we have acknowledged the claim of a person to be a prophet, we automatically have to acknowledge the existence of Allah.
The most natural way of scrutinizing such a claim is to study the life of the claimant and to see what sort of a man he is. How far was he reliable during the period prior to his claim? Is he an impostor who wants to impose himself upon the people or a self‑seeker who has chosen this convenient way to acquire wealth and honor? Or is he a man of integrity whose character is above suspicion? It is also to be seen how sensible and sagacious he is. He should not be a simpleton who may be misled by others or a visionary who may be carried by his own fantasy into the belief that he is a prophet. He should be a man endowed not only with commonsense, but also with the wonderful power of leadership and a natural ability to perform great deeds.
Normally everybody knows closely one or more persons in whose integrity and purity he has full confidence. This confidence develops as the result of a close study of their life and character for a long time. There may be people who personally have not met such persons, but they are convinced of their uprightness and reliability after an all‑round inquiry.
The claim of the prophets to have contact with an immaterial and imperceptible source by means of revelation being of an extraordinary nature, some people who admit the integrity, uprightness, sincerity and sagacity of such claimants, still have doubts about their prophethood.
These people demand some special signs to prove the contact of a prophet with the immaterial source. They expect a prophet to do things which it is not possible for a human being to do and which cannot be explained away by natural and normal reasons. In other words they wish them to work a miracle. One or more miracles give them the complete satisfaction which cannot be achieved by any other means. Anyhow there are some people who regard the miracles as mere jugglery and are not satisfied with them by any means.
In view of all these aspects of the question we once more emphasize that the best way to identify a prophet is, for those who can do so, to study his personality, his antecedents, his aims and his accomplishments.
Such an all‑round study is the best way to ascertain whether a claimant is really a prophet who is favoured with Divine revelation, a genius who has pretended to be a prophet, a mere juggler who has made such a claim for self‑aggrandizement only, or an abnormal person suffering from delusions. In any case all that a prophet claims is that he is a human being like other human beings, he eats and drinks like them and leads a normal human life. But he has experienced a big change in himself ‑ a sudden transition, or in the words of the prophets themselves, they have been endowed with a Divine gift. He knows well that this transition has come from Allah and that all the extraordinary excellence found in him and his teachings is due to this transition or Divine gift.
If you study carefully from the authentic sources the life‑history of the Prophet of Islam, from his birth to his prophethood and from that time to his death, you will find a clear example of this transition, which in itself is an eloquent sign of the existence of Allah.
Every thing at every stage is His sign
Some people appear to be of the opinion that Allah should be looked for only at the beginning of the creation. The point on which they base this discussion of natural theology is: How did this world begin? From what did the primary matter of cosmos originate? How did the first living cell come into existence? How did the first man emerge? They concentrate their attention on these questions as if the man who is born today cannot lead to the belief in the existence of Allah, or that a thousand and one living organisms appearing every moment are not a sign of His existence, and they have no alternative but to go to the origin of life or the genesis of cosmos to gain the knowledge of Allah.
The Qur’anic method of natural theology is just the opposite. The Qur’an regards all the ordinary cases of birth, death, growth of plants, movement of air and clouds, the shining of the sun and the rotation of stars, as living and manifest signs of the Existence, Power and Wisdom of Allah.
Every arrangement that exists within the smallest portion of protoplasm or a molecule of a body or the heart of an atom leads to the knowledge of Allah.
Therefore, whether the problem of the primary matter of cosmos or the genesis of life remains unsolved or a material way is found to solve it, in any case the proof of the existence of Allah and His sublime wisdom is visible every where in the world and in all the changes that take place in it.
There are people who think that only exceptional cases and the vagaries of nature can be cited as the proof of His existence. If thousands of patients are cured as the result of normal treatment, they make no mention of Allah. They remember Him only when a difficult case is cured through prayer and benediction. They appear to believe that medical treatment and the characteristics and effects of herbal and chemical compounds are no signs of Allah.
If there is a flood or an earthquake causing devastation, they talk of Allah, but they do not see any sign of Him in the normal rains, flow of the rivers, growth of the plants, movement of the galaxies and thousands of other normal phenomena to which they have become accustomed.
There are other people who so long as they did not know how it rained, what the source of thunder, lightning and earthquake was and what caused diseases, believed Allah to be the cause of all these things.
But now when science has made some advance, provided answer to a number of questions and explained many of the relationships, their rampart has been demolished and their way to the cognition of Allah has been closed. They now find themselves at the intersection of two roads: Either they should oppose the scientific progress and deny the modern discoveries and scientific laws or renounce their religious belief; or go to another rampart and again try to prove the existence of Allah by relying on those questions which are still to be solved.
This wrong way of thinking is totally contrary to the style of the Qur’an. In some cases it has even put modern science face to face with religion and has given the impression that religious beliefs can flourish only in the darkness of ignorance. On this basis it is presumed that with its further advancement, science will reduce religion even in its own domain.
In contrast, the Qur’an guides the people to Allah by encouraging them to learn, to think, to investigate and to ponder, and proclaims expressly that the material phenomena are governed by a well‑planned system. The Qur’an says that everything has its own law and it is the duty of the people to study nature and find out the causes of various events. That is how it inculcates the belief in Allah in their hearts. The Qur’an states that submission to Allah is the outcome of knowledge and not of ignorance.
According to the Qur’anic way of thinking, people do not tend to believe in Allah because of their ignorance, so that science could hamper their belief. In contrast, science facilitates their journey towards Him. Religion encourages scientific investigation and scientific investigation in its turn leads to religious belief.
Is ever‑changing world purposive?
We have said that the world of nature is constantly changing and transforming, from an atom to a galaxy, everything is in motion and in the state of `becoming’. To be static and at rest is impossible.
Science has to some extent discovered the causes of this motion, but it has given no clear answer as to why this world is so constantly changing and `becoming’.
In which direction is this world moving? What is its goal and for what purpose?
It must be understood that a man’s point of view in regard to the general motion of the world, directly affects his outlook on the goal of his life and the direction of his efforts.
With regard to the answer to the above questions, there are three theories worth consideration:
(a) Aimlessness: On the basis of this theory the development of the world has no aim or purpose and cannot be interpreted sensibly. Everything is surrounded with a mystery and meaninglessness.
This approach is applied not only to be general motion of the world, but also to the birth of man and his actions and efforts. According to this theory, which is known as nihilism, man’s life is meaningless.
In our times the idea that the world has no meaning and no value has become the basic doctrine of a number of philosophical and social schools.
The fact is that this situation is, more or less, the reaction of the conditions faced by humanity in the present day societies.
The man of machine age has become a captive of the big industrial wheels and is tired of the rules, regulations and discipline imposed on him by the respect of machine and mechanical production. He finds himself to be a captive in the hands of the exploiters, and is like a thing having no will and no personality. Any procedure prescribed for him is only a step towards taming and enticing him to serve the interests of others.
Man is fed up with all these restrictions, unnecessary rituals and hard and fast regulations. He is confused by the propaganda with which he is fed by the various kinds of publicity media, and finds himself caught in varied traps. That is why he rejects everything, and declares that all values have lost their worth and everything is futile and baseless. He wants to set aside every law and every principle imposed on him. Even the conventional rules of wearing dress, eating, choosing profession and residence and visiting people have become unbearable to him, and he wants to get rid of them.
Nihilism cannot be censured so far as it is a revolt against the senseless things imposed in the name of necessities and principles. But beyond that, the question is quite different.
Some people regard the whole world as having no value and consider the life to be meaningless. They see no charm in life.
They take an unfavorable view of everything. They sink into despondency and live in despair. The best remedy they can think of is to live a life of renunciation and sometimes even to commit suicide.
This way of thinking is the greatest calamity for humanity. It amounts to losing one’s usefulness and sinking into degradation!
Anyhow, for some people even nihilism can serve a useful purpose. It can become a springboard for proceeding in the right direction and finding the correct aim of life. In fact if the rejection of the existing values leads to the discovery of the genuine ones and if ‑the denial of the rules which have reduced man to nonentity is followed by constructive efforts to find the correct way of life, the destructive rejection can pave the way for obtaining positive results.
In the case of Islam’s unitarian outlook on the world also we come across two stages:
One being the rejection of all false deities and the breaking of all idols, and the other being the acknowledgement of Allah.
(b) Natural evolution from within matter: According to this theory, the motion of the universe is aimed at evolution; of course merely a natural evolution.
In other words, from the very beginning the world, by its very nature, has been moving forward materially.
This explanation of evolution is faced with many difficulties from various angles.
(1) From scientific point of view the cosmos is gradually getting old and losing the required energy. This position cannot change, unless we presume that the atoms of the dead and scattered matter will come to a new life through a big explosion. As the possibility of such an explosion is only hypothetical, it is not possible to study its results.
(2) During the discussion of open and closed systems, it was pointed out that for the purpose of the evolution of the entire world, the intervention of an outside factor is inevitable, and that such an intervention cannot be purely material if it is by a factor besides matter.
(c) Movement towards absolute perfection: According to this theory the motion of the world is aimed at spiritual evolution and advancement towards Allah. Man starts his evolutionary journey from material field and ends it with Allah. The Qur’an says:
“We did not create the heavens, the earth and all that lies between them in sport. We created them with a purpose; though most of the people do not know that”. (They are not aware of the importance of the world, its rationale and its system). (Surah al‑Dukhan, 44:39‑40).
“To Allah belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth and to Him shall all things return”. (Surah Ale Imran, 3:109).
“Allah’s is the sovereignty of heavens and the earth and all tat is between them. To Him shall all return”. (Surah al‑Maidah, 5:18).
“O man! You will surely be going to your Lord laboriously and meet Him”. (Surah al‑Inshiqaq, 84:6).
On this basis the world of nature is a world of motion, development and change. It has within itself an evolutionary trend. From simple things more complex and more perfect things come into being in a special manner and make the vast canvas of nature gradually more colorful. This process continues and the living things come into existence.
With further development man appears on the scene. He is a material being but possesses divine spirit, and with evolutionary movement can equip himself with divine attributes.
We will further throw light on this developmental and evolutionary process in the course of our forthcoming discussions.
- 1. A Light year is the unit for the measurement of space i.e. the distance which light covers in one year. Light travels at the speed of three hundred thousand kilometres per second.