The Truth That Defeats The Religions of Irreligion
This chapter reveals a crucial life secret. It should be read attentively and thoroughly, for it is concerned with a subject that is liable to make a fundamental change in one's outlook toward the external world. The subject of this chapter is not merely a point of view, a different approach, or a traditional philosophy. It is a fact which everyone, believers and non-believers, must admit to and which has been proven by science today.
As previously stated, one of the most important reasons disbelievers assume a negative attitude towards religion is their assessment based on purely worldly criteria. The assumption that life is limited to this world and their fervent attachment to it accounts for this, as shown in the Qur’an:
It [i.e., life] is not but our worldly life- we die and live, but we will not be resurrected.90
Due to their obsession with worldly standards, disbelievers fail to have a true perception of things around them. They see events as unconnected to Allah and cannot comprehend that everything exists by His will. Allah describes the world view of disbelievers as follows:
They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware.91
There is another important truth disbelievers fail to grasp throughout their lives. While they commit all kinds of immorality to derive personal benefit and satisfaction for themselves: tell lies, belittle religion, spread slanders against believers, try to harm them, etc., they are unaware that they are actually in a state of great ignorance, as will be shown in the following pages.
The Mystery Behind Matter
All of man's sensory faculties – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – function in the same way. The stimuli (such as light, sound, smell, taste, texture, etc.) coming from objects assumed to exist in the external world are carried through nerves to the sensory centers in the brain. All these stimuli that reach the brain consist of electric signals. For example, during the process of seeing, light rays (photons) radiating from a source in the exterior world reach the retina at the back of the eye and are transformed into electric signals through a series of processes. These signals are transferred along nerves to the center of vision in the brain. Thus, a colorful, bright and three-dimensional world is perceived within this center of a few cubic centimeters.
The same system also applies to other senses. Tastes are transformed into electric signals by some cells on the tongue. Smells are transformed into electric signals by cells in the epithelium of the nose. Special sensors lodged under the skin are responsible for transforming impulses of touch (such as feeling hardness or softness) into electric signals, and a special mechanism in the ear transforms sounds into electric signals. All these signals are sent to related centers in the brain and are perceived therein.
The following example will clarify the point: assume that you are drinking a cup of coffee. The hardness and hotness of the cup you are holding is transformed into electric signals by special receptors under your skin and sent to the brain. Simultaneously, the strong smell of the coffee, its taste, and dark brown color all become signals reaching the brain. The sound heard when the cup touches the table is perceived by the ear and sent to the brain as an electric signal. All these perceptions are interpreted in the relevant centers in the brain, which work harmoniously with one another. As a cumulative result of these impulses, you sense that you are drinking a cup of coffee. That is, while everything takes place in the sensory centers of the brain, you assume that what you sense has a solid existence.
However, you are wrong, because you have no evidence that the feelings you perceive in your brain have any existence outside of your skull. No doubt, this is an important reality which deserves careful pondering. So far, it may well be that you believe everything you see around you has absolute existence. However, as science has now revealed, it is impossible to prove that objects in the exterior world have any real existence.
What Exists in the External World?
What has been discussed so far shows that we actually live inside our brains and that we cannot perceive anything other than what our senses convey to us. To proceed one step further: Does what we sense really exist, or is it only illusions? And is there a need for the external world in order for us to see and hear?
Actually, no. In order to perceive, there is certainly no need for the existence of an external world. Given the right kind of stimulation directed to the brain, sensations of touch, sight, sounds, etc. can be formed in the brain. The best example of this fact is dreams.
During dreams, your body usually remains still and motionless in a dark and quiet room, and your eyes remain shut. There is neither light nor sound nor any other stimuli from the exterior world reaching your brain for it to perceive. Still, in your dreams, you perceive experiences very much similar to real life. In your dreams you also get up and go to work, or you go on vacation where you enjoy the warmth of the sun.
Furthermore, in dreams you never feel doubts about the reality of what you experience. Only after you wake up do you realize your experiences were only dreams. You not only experience such feelings as fear, anxiety, joy and sadness but also see different images, hear sounds and feel matter. Yet there is no physical source producing these sensations and perceptions; you lie motionless inside a dark and quiet room.
Descartes, the renowned philosopher, offered the following reasoning on this surprising truth about dreams:
In my dreams I see that I do various things, I go to many places; when I wake up, however, I see that I have not done anything or gone anywhere and that I lie peacefully in my bed. Who can guarantee to me that I do not also dream at the present time, further, that my whole life is not a dream?
Just as we experience our dreams as real and only realize that they are dreams when we wake up, we cannot be certain that what we are experiencing right now is real. This suggests that we may well be awakened from this life on earth, which we feel we are living right now, and begin to experience a genuine life. We have no evidence whatsoever proving otherwise. On the contrary, science provides serious findings suggesting that what we experience may actually have no material existence.
The fact that surfaces at this point is obvious: while we assume that the world we live in exists, or when we think that we live in that world, there are in fact no substantial reasons for us to claim that such a world has a material reality. It may well be nothing but perceptions with no material reality which are artificially stimulated.
Is Our Brain Distinct from the Outside World?
As discussed so far, if everything we know is but internally produced perceptions, what about the brain which we think sees and hears? Is it not made up of atoms and molecules as everything else?
Just like everything we call matter, the brain is also a perception. It is a piece of meat that we perceive through our senses. Like everything else whose existence we assume in the external world, the brain is also an illusion. This being the case, what is it that perceives everything – that sees, hears, touches, smells and tastes, if not the brain?
At this point we face an obvious fact: man, a being of consciousness who can see, feel, think and exercise reason, is much more than a mere heap of atoms and molecules. What makes a human being is the "soul" granted to him by Allah. Otherwise, it would be extremely unreasonable to attribute his consciousness and other faculties to a three-pound piece of meat, which is in essence a perception:
[It is Allah] who perfected everything He created and began the creation of man from clay. Then He made his posterity out of the extract of a liquid disdained. Then He proportioned him and breathed into him from His [created] soul and made for you hearing and vision and hearts [i.e., intellect]; little are you grateful92
The Nearest Being to Us Is Allah
Since a human being is not merely a heap of matter but a "soul," then who is it that makes the soul feel the sum of perceptions which we call the external world? Who continues to create all these perceptions ceaselessly?
The answer is obvious. Allah, who breathed the spirit He created for man into him, is the Creator of all things. He is also the real source of all perceptions. The existence of anything is only possible through Allah's creation. Allah informs us that He creates continuously and that everything will disappear whenever He halts creation:
Indeed, Allah holds the heavens and the earth, lest they cease. And if they should cease, no one could hold them [in place] after Him. Indeed, He is Forbearing and Forgiving. 93
A person may tend not to accept the reality because of the inculcation he has received for so many years. However, no matter how he strives to ignore this fact or avoids it, the truth is obvious. All the perceptions presented to a human soul can exist only by the creation of Allah. Furthermore, not only the external world but all actions one takes on his own come into existence by the will of Allah. It is simply impossible for man to have any power or will independent of Allah. In the Qur’an it is stated as follows:
And Allah created you and that which you do 94
And you threw not when you threw, but it was Allah who threw. 95
Such facts make one conclude that the only real absolute being is Allah. Nothing exists except through Allah, who encompasses everything in the heavens and the earth:
Unquestionably, they are in doubt about the meeting with their Lord. Unquestionably He is, of all things, encompassing.96
And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is All-Encompassing and Knowing.97
And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Allah, of all things, encompassing.98
And [remember, O Muhammad], when We told you, ‘Indeed, your Lord has encompassed the people [in knowledge]99
His chair encompasses the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. He is the Most High, the Magnificent.”100
Allah's knowledge and ability surrounds us from the front, back, right and left; that is to say, He encompasses us completely. He observes us everywhere, at every moment. He holds absolute control over us, from inside and out. He, the Owner of Infinite Might, is closer to us than our own jugular veins or hearts:
We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.101
And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered.102
This is the point about which disbelievers carry a great misconception; they take a world which is essentially illusionary to be real. While they make a mockery of religion and believers and reject the revelations of Allah, they assume that they can escape, while they are, in fact, totally engulfed by Allah. This is indeed one of the greatest realities about which arrogant disbelievers are heedless. Not only that, but the life of this world, to which they are so ambitiously attached, slips away through their fingers.
Everything Possessed Is Intrinsically Illusory
It may be seen clearly as a scientific and logical fact that the external world has no materialistic reality and that it is a collection of images perpetually presented to the soul by Allah. Nevertheless, people usually do not include, or rather do not want to include, everything in this concept.
If you contemplate this issue sincerely and boldly, you will come to realize that your house, the furniture inside it, your antiques, your summer home, your car, your office, your jewels, your bank account, your wardrobe, your spouse, your children, your colleagues, and all that you possess are in fact included in the imaginary external world projected to you. Everything you perceive with your five senses is a part of this "illusionary world": the voice of your favorite singer, the hardness of the chair upon which you sit, a perfume whose scent you enjoy, the sun that keeps you warm, a flower with beautiful colors, a bird flying in front of your window, a speedboat moving swiftly on the water, your fertile garden, the computer you use at the office, or your hi-fi with the most advanced technology in the world...
This is the reality, because the world is only a collection of images created to test man. People are tested all through their limited lives with perceptions bearing no reality. These perceptions are intentionally presented as appealing and attractive. This fact is mentioned in the Qur’an:
“Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire- of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, and fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return [i.e., Paradise].103
Most people cast their religion away for the lure of property, wealth, heaped up hoards of gold and silver, dollars, jewels, bank accounts, credit cards, wardrobes full of clothes, latest model cars, etc. – all forms of prosperity which they either possess or strive to possess, and they concentrate only on this world while forgetting the Hereafter. They are deceived by the fair and alluring face of the life of this world and fail to keep up prayer, give charity and perform the worship that will make them prosper in the Hereafter, saying, "I have things to do," "I have ideals," "I have responsibilities," "I do not have enough time," "I have things to complete," and "I will do it in the future." They consume their lives trying to prosper in this world. This misconception is described in the Qur’an:
They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware.104
The fact outlined in this chapter, namely that everything is an image, is very important because of its implication that all lusts and acquisitions are meaningless. The verification of this fact makes it clear that everything people possess or strive to possess – wealth acquired through greed, children of whom they boast, spouses whom they consider closest to them, friends, their own dear bodies, ranks of supposed superiority, the schools they attended, the holidays they enjoyed – are nothing but mere illusion. Therefore, all their efforts, time spent, and greed prove to be in vain.
This is why some people unwittingly make fools of themselves when they boast of their wealth and properties, their yachts, helicopters, factories, holdings, manors and lands as if they really existed. Those well-to-do people who ostentatiously saunter up and down in their yachts, show off their cars, and keep talking about their wealth suppose that this ranks them higher than everyone else and that they are successful should actually think about what state they will find themselves in once they realize that their success is nothing but an illusion.
In fact, such scenes are often seen in dreams as well. In their dreams they also have houses, fast cars, extremely precious jewels, rolls of dollars, and loads of gold and silver. In dreams they are positioned in a high rank, own companies with thousands of workers, possess power to rule over many people, and wear clothes that make everyone admire them. Just as boasting about the possessions one has in a dream would cause a person to be ridiculed, he is sure to be equally ridiculed for boasting of the images he sees in this world. After all, both what he sees in his dreams and what he relates to in this world are mere images in his mind. Surely this fact deserves deep contemplation. As stated in the Qur’an, those who perceive this fact will be victorious:
There has come to you enlightenment from your Lord. So whoever will see does so for [the benefit of] his soul, and whoever is blind [does harm] against it.105
Similarly, the way people react to the events they experience in the world will make them ashamed when they realize the reality. Those who fiercely fight each other, who rave furiously, who swindle, who accept bribes, who commit forgery, who lie, who covetously withhold their money, who wrong others, who beat and curse others, who rage aggressively, who are full of passion for office and rank, who envy, who show off, and who try to sanctify themselves or others will be disgraced when they realize that they have committed all of these deeds in an illusion. Since it is Allah who creates all these images, the ultimate owner of everything is Allah alone. This fact is stressed in the Qur’an:
And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And ever is Allah, of all things, encompassing.106
It is great foolishness to cast away religion for imaginary passions and thus lose contentment in the eternal life, obtaining instead everlasting deprivation. Allah describes this situation:
And lost is what they did therein, and worthless is what they used to do.107
As stated in this verse, all their ambitions and passions will be proved to be in vain. Furthermore, all those things they thought to possess will have slipped out of their hands and brought them no benefit.
At this stage one point should be well understood. It is not stated that all the possessions, wealth, children, spouses, friends and rank you have will vanish sooner or later and therefore have no meaning; rather, that all the possessions you seem to have in fact do not exist at all but are merely an illusion composed of images shown to you by Allah in order to test you. There is a big difference between these two statements. In the first case a person, for a temporary period, may be deceived into believing that possessions really exist and thus have the ambition to possess them. But in the second statement, that is, that everything is illusionary, a deliberate attempt to monopolize everything will not only humiliate that person but cause unprecedented loss for him.
Although one might not want to acknowledge this fact right away and would rather deceive himself by assuming everything he owns truly exists, he will finally die, and when he is recreated in the Hereafter, everything will become clear. On that day his vision will be sharp, and he will see everything clearly. If he had spent his life chasing after imaginary benefits, he will wish he had never lived and say:
I wish it [i.e., my death] had been the decisive one. My wealth has not availed me. Gone from me is my authority.108
What a wise man should do, then, is to try to understand the greatest reality of the universe here in this world while he still has time. Otherwise, he will spend all his life running after dreams and face a grievous penalty in the end. In the Qur’an the final state of people who run after illusions of this world and forget their Creator is stated as follows:
But those who disbelieved- their deeds are like a mirage in a lowland which a thirsty one thinks is water until, when he comes to it, he finds it is nothing but he finds Allah before him, and He will pay him in full his due; and Allah is swift in account.109
Materialists Have Fallen into the Biggest Trap in History
That matter is simply a perception has been proven by modern science and has been put forward in a very clear, straightforward and forceful way. It only remains for materialists to see and acknowledge the collapse of the entire material world in which they blindly believe and on which they rely.
Materialist thought has always existed throughout the history of humanity. Being very assured of themselves and the philosophy they believe in, they revolt against Allah who created them. The scenario they formulate maintains that matter has no beginning or end and that it could not possibly have a creator. Because of their arrogance, they deny Allah and depend upon matter, which they deem to have real existence. They have been so confident in this philosophy that they thought it would never be possible to prove the contrary.
That is why the facts in this chapter regarding the real nature of matter surprised these people so much. What has been presented here destroys the very basis of their philosophy and leaves no ground for further discussion. Matter, upon which they had based all their thought and livelihood, their arrogance and denial, has vanished all of a sudden. How can materialism exist when matter does not?
One of the attributes of Allah is His strategy against the unbelievers:
But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.110
Allah entrapped the materialists by making them assume that matter exists, and in doing so, humiliated them in a subtle way. Materialists, sure that their possessions, status, society, the world and everything else really existed, grew arrogant against Allah by relying on these things. They revolted against Allah boastfully and increased their unbelief, totally dependent upon matter. Yet, they were so lacking in understanding that they failed to see that Allah encompasses them completely. Allah announces the state to which the unbelievers are led as a result of their thick-headedness:
Or do they intend a plan? But those who disbelieve- they are the object of a plan.111
This is probably their biggest defeat in history. While growing more and more arrogant, materialists have been tricked and have suffered a serious defeat in the war they waged against Allah by lying against Him. The following verse announces how unaware these people who revolt against their Creator are, and how they will end up:
And thus We have placed within every city the greatest of its criminals to conspire therein. But they conspire not except against themselves, and they perceive it not.112
In another verse the same fact is related:
They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive [it] not.113
While the unbelievers plot, they do not realize something very important which is stressed by the words "they deceive not except themselves and perceive it not." It is the fact that everything they experience is an image designed to be perceived by them, and the plots they devise are also images formed in their brains like every other act they perform. Their folly has made them forget that they are actually alone with Allah, and hence, they are entrapped in their own devious plans.
No less than the unbelievers who lived in the past, those living today face a reality that will shatter their devious plans at the foundations. Allah says that these plots are doomed to end with failure the day they are hatched:
With the verse "…feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan"114
He gives good tidings to the believers, by stating:
Their plot will not harm you at all.115
And Allah has said:
But those who disbelieved- their deeds are like a mirage in a lowland which a thirsty one thinks is water until, when he comes to it, he finds it is nothing.116
Materialism, too, becomes a mirage for the rebellious, just as stated in this verse. When they seek security therein, they find it to be nothing but an illusion. Allah has deceived them through this mirage and beguiled them into perceiving a whole collection of images as real. All those "eminent" people – professors, astronomers, biologists, physicists and others – regardless of their rank and post, are simply deceived like children and will be humiliated because they took matter as their god. Assuming a collection of images to be real, they based their whole philosophy and ideology on it, defended it, and adopted a so-called "intellectual" discourse. They deemed themselves wise enough to offer an argument about the reality of the universe and, more importantly, to dispute about Allah in spite of their limited intelligence.
And they [i.e., disbelievers] planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners.117
It may be possible to escape from human plots; however, Allah's plan against the unbelievers is so firm that there is no way of escape from it. No matter what they do or to whom they appeal, they will never find a helper other than Allah:
And they will not find for themselves besides Allah any protector or helper.118
Materialists never expected to fall into such a trap. Having all the means of the 20th century at their disposal, they thought they could grow obstinate in their denial and lead everyone to unbelief. Allah describes this everlasting mentality of unbelievers and their end in the Qur’an:
And they planned a plan, and We planned a plan, while they perceived it not. Then look how was the outcome of their plan- that We destroyed them and their people, all.119
No doubt, confronting this truth is the worst possible situation for materialists. The fact that everything they possess is only an illusion is tantamount, in their own words, to "death before dying." This leaves them alone with Allah. Allah brings to attention the fact that each human being is, in truth, alone in His presence:
Leave Me alone with the one I alone120
And all of them are coming to Him on the Day of Resurrection alone.122
On another level the verses indicate that those who take matter as their god have come from Allah and will be returned to Him. Thus, they submit to Allah whether they want to or not. Even now they await the Day of Judgement when everyone of them will be called to account, however unwilling they may be to understand it.
This book has been written to make the reader realize the danger of religions of irreligion and the responsibility he bears. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is an important aspect of worship commanded by Allah of believers, who are protectors of one another, and the book is a reminder of this noble responsibility. Anyone who reads or hears the reminder has one of two choices: sitting back and saying, "Someone else will do it anyway," or shouldering the responsibility Allah has bestowed upon him and starting to work immediately.
In their struggle against disbelief the prophets and true believers set a good example. All of the prophets whose stories are related in the Qur’an and the true believers who followed them fought against disbelief and strove throughout history to eliminate irreligious ideologies and convey to people the oneness of Allah. They used many different methods to spread this message to people, and nothing stopped them. Their ambition, commitment, patience and courage should be an example to all believers.
Prophet Muhammad (saas) stated that there will be a reward for inviting people to righteousness:
In recent history there have been numerous scholars of Islam whose lives were exemplary in this sense. For instance, Bediüzzaman Said Nursi was a noble person who all through his life struggled against the religions of irreligion under very trying circumstances. He displayed an unyielding patience and made many sacrifices in an effort to protect his country and people from this threat. The following statements of Bediüzzaman inspire great zeal to those of conscience and sound mind:
A conscientious person is duty bound to follow the voice of his conscience and immediately seek ways to serve Allah's religion. Allah will distinguish His servants who have true faith from those who merely say "I have faith" yet avoid the struggle that faith demands. Allah states in the Qur’an:
Do people think that they will be left to say, 'We believe,' and they will not be tried? 125
In another verse Allah states that believers cannot attain true faith and Paradise unless they struggle against irreligion:
Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while Allah has not made evident those among you who struggle and made evident those who are steadfast?126
90. Surah al-Mu’minun, 23:37.
91. Surah ar-Rum, 30:7.
92. Surah as-Sajda, 32:7-9
.93. Surah Fatir, 35:41.
94. Surah as-Saffat, 37:96.
95. Surah al-Anfal, 8:17.
96. Surah Fussilat, 41:54.
97. Surah al-Baqara, 2:115.
98. Surah an-Nisa, 4:126.
99. Surah al-Isra, 17:60.
100. Surah al-Baqara, 2:255.
101. Surah Qaf, 50:16.
102. Surah al-Anfal, 8:24.
103. Surah ali ‘Imran, 3:14.
104. Surah ar-Rum, 30:7.
105. Surah al-An‘am, 6:104.
106. Surah an-Nisa, 4:126.
107. Surah Hud, 11:16.
108. Surah al-Haqqa, 69:27-29.
109. Surah an-Nur, 24:39.
110. Surah al-Anfal, 8:30.
111. Surah at - Tur, 52:42.
112. Surah al-An‘am, 6:123.
113. Surah al-Baqara, 2:9.
114. Surah an-Nisa, 4:76.
115. Surah ali ‘Imran, 3:120.
116. Surah an-Nur, 24:39.
117. Surah ali ‘Imran, 3:54.
118. Surah an-Nisa, 4:173.
119. Surah an-Naml, 27:50-51.
120. Surah al-Muddaththir, 74:11.
121. Surah al-An‘am, 6:94.
122. Surah Maryam, 19:95.
123. Narrated by Muslim.
124. The Risale-i-Nur Collection, Rays, The Fourteenth Ray, Letter to the Prime Minister's Office, The Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Home Affairs.
125. Surah al-Ankabut, 29:2.
126. Surah ali ‘Imran, 3:142.