01-20: Questions and Answers
1- How do we realize the existence of Allah?
The plants, animals, seas, mountains, and people we see when we look around, and everything else in the micro universe – living or non-living – which we cannot see, are all obvious evidence of a superior wisdom which has brought them into being. Similarly, the equilibrium, order, and perfect creation present in the entire universe also prove the existence of a supreme possessor of knowledge who has brought them into being perfectly. The possessor of this wisdom and knowledge is Allah.
We realize the existence of Allah from the perfect systems He created and the awesome qualities of living or non-living entities. This perfection is highlighted in the Qur'an:
He created the seven heavens one above the other. You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look again–do you see any gaps? Then look again and again. Your eyes will become dazzled and exhausted! (Surat al-Mulk, 3-4)
2- How do we know Allah?
It is again the perfect creation throughout the universe that introduces to us the supreme power of Allah. However, Allah has principally introduced Himself to us in the Qur'an, which He has sent down to people as a guide to right living. In the Qur'an, all the supreme qualities of Allah, His wisdom, knowledge, compassion, mercy, justice, omnipresence, His seeing and hearing everything, His being the sole owner and sole God of the Heavens, the Earth and all that lies between and His being the sole sovereign of the kingdom are conveyed to us.
He is Allah – there is no god but Him. He is the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible. He is the Compassionate and Most Merciful. He is Allah – there is no god but Him. He is the King, the Most Pure, the Perfect Giver of Peace, the Trustworthy, the Safeguarder, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Supremely Great. May Allah be exalted above all they associate with Him. He is Allah – the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat al-Hashr, 22-24)
3- What is the purpose of our creation?
Allah tells us the purpose for our creation as follows:
… I only created jinn and man to worship Me. (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 56)
As stated in this verse, the purpose of man's existence on Earth is his being just a servant of Allah, worshipping Him and gaining His approval. Man is tested on this subject as long as he is on this Earth.
4- Why are we tested?
Allah tests people in the world to distinguish the ones who believe in Him from those who don't, and to determine which of the believers are best in their behaviour. Therefore, it is not enough for an individual to say "I believe". As long as one lives, his faith and devotion to Allah, his perseverance in religion, in short, his steadfastness in being a servant of Allah are tested in specially created conditions and environments. Allah states this truth in the following verse:
He created death and life to test which of you acquitted himself best. He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving. (Surat al-Mulk, 2)
5- How are we to be servants of Allah?
To be a servant of Allah means leading one's whole life for the purpose of gaining Allah's pleasure and approval. It means trying to carry out all actions in the best possible manner so as to gain Allah's approval, fearing Allah alone and orienting all one's ideas, words, and deeds to this purpose. Allah has brought it to our attention in the Qur'an that being a servant to Him covers the whole life of the individual:
Say: 'My salat (prayers) and my devotions, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds.' (Surat al-An'am, 162)
6- Why is religion necessary?
What a man who believes in the existence of Allah has to do first, is learn the orders of Allah, our Creator, and the things that will please Him, Who gave him a soul when he was nothing, made him live, eat, and drink, and gave him health. Then he has to spend his whole life abiding by Allah's orders and seeking Allah's approval. It is religion that shows us the morals, behaviour, and way of life of which Allah will approve. Allah has made it clear in the Qur'an that people who abide by religion will be on the true path, whereas others will go astray.
He whose breast is opened to Islam is therefore illuminated by his Lord. Woe to those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah! Such people are clearly misguided. (Surat az-Zumar, 22)
7- How does one live one's religion (deen)?
People who believe in Allah, and who humbly obey Him, organize their lives in accordance with Allah's recommendations in the Qur'an. He who lives the religion leads his life, complying with the right things his conscience inspires in him and abandoning everything bad that his self, the negative voice within him, orders. Allah states in the Qur'an that He created men with the predisposition to live their religion:
Therefore, stand firm in your devotion to the true Faith, the upright Faith which Allah created for man to embrace. There is no changing Allah's creation. That is the true Faith, although most people may not know it. (Surat ar-Rum, 30)
8- How can there be morals without religion?
In societies where there is no religion, people become predisposed to commit all kinds of immoral acts. For instance, a religious person would never take a bribe, gamble, feel envy, or lie because he would know that he would have to account for these actions in the hereafter. Yet, an irreligious person is prone to doing all these things. It is not enough for a man to say, "I am an atheist but I don't take bribes", or "I am an atheist but I don't gamble", because a man who does not fear Allah and who does not believe that he is going to give an account of himself in the hereafter may do any one of these things when the situation or conditions change. A person who says, "I am an atheist but I do not commit fornication" may do so at some place where fornication is considered normal. Or a person who says that he does not take bribes may say, "My son is sick and about to die, therefore I have to take the bribe", if he has no fear of Allah. In a state of irreligiousness, even theft may be considered legitimate under certain conditions. For instance, people of no religion may not consider taking towels or decorative accessories from hotels and recreation centres as stealing to their own way of understanding.
However, a religious person does not display such immorality, because he fears Allah and does not forget that Allah knows his intentions as well as his thoughts. He acts sincerely and avoids sin.
A person who is distant from religion may say "I am an atheist but I am forgiving. I feel neither vengeance nor hate," but one day some untoward event may cause him to lose his self-control and display the most unexpected behaviour. He may attempt to kill or injure someone, because the morality he adopts is one that changes according to the environment and conditions of the place in which he lives.
Yet, one who believes in Allah and in the hereafter never deviates from his good morals, whatever the conditions or the environment may be. His morality is not "variable" but immutable. Allah refers to the superior morals of religious people in His verses:
Those who keep faith with Allah and do not break their agreement; those who join what Allah has commanded to be joined and are afraid of their Lord and fear an evil Reckoning; those who are steadfast in seeking the face of their Lord, and attend to their salat (regular prayer) and give alms from what We have given them, secretly and openly, and stave off evil with good, it is they who will attain the Ultimate Abode (Surat ar-Ra'd, 20-22)
9- What would happen to the social system without religion?
In an environment without religion, the first concept to be eliminated is that of the family. Values such as loyalty, fidelity, allegiance, love, and respect, which sustain the family, are totally abandoned. It must be remembered that the family is the foundation of society and if the family collapses, so does society. Even the state and the nation have no reason to exist, since all moral values that underpin the state and the nation have been obliterated.
Furthermore, in irreligious societies, there is no reason left for anyone to feel respect, love or compassion for anyone else. This leads to social anarchy. The rich hate the poor, the poor hate the rich. Anger develops against those who are handicapped or needy. Aggression towards different nations rises. The workers become aggressive towards their employers and the employers towards their workers, fathers turn against their sons and the sons against their fathers.
The reason for continuous bloodshed and the frequent news repors of murder in some countries is irreligion. On these pages, every day, we see news coverage about people who heedlessly kill each other for very insignificant causes.
However, a man who knows that he is going to be accountable in the hereafter cannot point a gun at somebody else's head and shoot him. He knows that Allah has forbidden men to commit crimes, and his fear of Allah ensures that he will avoid divine retribution.
Do not corrupt the earth after it has been purged of evil. Call on Him fearfully and eagerly. Allah's mercy is within reach of the righteous. (Surat al-A'raf, 56)
The cause for suicides being so common is also irreligion. One who commits suicide in fact commits murder.
But someone who is guided by the Qur'an would never do such a thing. He would not even give it a moment of thought. A believer lives only for Allah's approval and exercises patience in the face of all the difficulties and problems Allah afflicts him within this world. And he does not forget that he is going to be rewarded for his patience both in this world and the hereafter many times over.
Stealing too is very common in irreligious societies. A man who steals does not think of how much trouble he causes to the person he steals from. He takes ten years of his victim's earnings in a single night and doesn't worry about how much he will suffer. As he inflicts pain on the other person, he may also feel pangs of conscience. But if he does not, this is an even worse state of affairs. It means that the thief has become hardened to committing all kinds of immoral acts.
In irreligious societies, values like hospitality, making sacrifices for each other, solidarity, and generosity totally disappear. First of all, people do not value each other as the human beings they are, because they see each other as beings that have supposedly evolved from monkeys. No one wants to welcome, serve, honour or offer nice things to anyone he thinks has evolved from an ape. People sharing this thought do not value each other. Nobody thinks about the health, welfare, or comfort of others. They do not worry about anybody getting hurt nor do they try to prevent such a thing. For instance, in hospitals people who are about to die are left lying on stretchers for indefinite periods; nobody cares about them. Or the owner of a restaurant operating under extremely dirty, unhealthy conditions does not worry about the harm he may inflict on the health of the people who eat there. He only cares about the money he is making. These are a few examples that show up in our daily lives. Here, the main logic is that people are good to each other only if they can expect some profit in return. By the moral standards of the Qur'an, however, people value each other as servants of Allah. They do not expect anything in return for a favour; on the contrary, they try to gain Allah's approval by continuously doing good deeds, and compete with each other in doing good.
10- Which material and spiritual benefits does observance of the morals of the Qur'an bring to society?
The moral values of the Qur'an create a profoundly, spiritual, peaceful, and secure atmosphere of morality. The chaos of anarchy that causes great damage to the state and the nation definitely ends because for fear of Allah, people avoid unruliness and causing mischief. Also, people with moral values stand up for their state and nation and do not stop short of any kind of sacrifice. Such people always work for the welfare and security of their country.
In a society where the morals of the Qur'an are practiced, people are extremely respectful towards each other and everyone tries to ensure the comfort and security of one another because solidarity, unity, and cooperation are very important according to the tenets of Islam. Everyone has to put the comfort and interest of others before himself. The following is an example of the morality of believers:
Those who were already settled in Madinah, and had adopted the Faith, before they came, loved1 those who came to them for refuge and entertained no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but gave them preference over themselves even if they themselves were needy. It is the people who are safeguarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Surat al-Hashr, 9)
In an environment where people go in fear of Allah, everyone works for the welfare of society. No one acts extravagantly; everyone cooperates and works in solidarity watching out for the interests of the other. The result is a rich society with a high level of welfare.
In such a society, moral richness as well as material richness prevails. The state of chaos where all kinds of rebellious attitudes are displayed totally disappears. Everyone behaves with restraint and every problem is solved in a logical manner. All issues are resolved calmly. Life is always lived in a peaceful atmosphere, and is filled with joy, sincerity, love, friendship and brotherhood.
11- What are the benefits which observance of the morals of the Qur'an brings to the family?
The morality of the Qur'an requires respect for the mother and the father. Allah says in the Qur'an:
We have enjoined man to be good to his parents, for his mother bore him with much pain and the period of his weaning took two years: 'Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me shall all things return. (Surah Luqman, 14)
In a home where the morals of the Qur'an are practiced there are no fights, quarrels or conflicts. A highly respectful attitude is displayed towards the mother, the father, and the other family members. Everyone lives in a happy and joyful environment.
12- What are the benefits which observance of the morals of the Qur'an brings to the state system?
Allah refers in the Qur'an to obedience as a positive attribute. One who has the morals of the Qur'an would be entirely obedient and respectful towards his state. In Islamic societies, everybody works for the welfare of the state and the nation, never rebelling against the state but giving it, on the contrary, spiritual and material support.
In societies formed by Allah-fearing people, judicial cases would almost never come to court. Not even a thousandth of the legal infractions that take place in today's societies would be experienced.
Governing the state becomes much easier. Since the state does not have to deal with cases of anarchy, terrorism, mischief, and murder, all the power of the state is focused on the development and enhancement of the country, on the domestic front and abroad, which results in a very powerful state.
13- What are the benefits which observance of the morals of the Qur'an brings to art?
People who comply with the morals of the Qur'an value each other and try to make it possible for each other to live in an environment that is agreeable and aesthetically beautiful in every respect. Because of the longing felt for heaven, worldly means are fully utilized to create the most pleasant and cleanest of atmospheres, which address the eye, the ear, and all senses in the most beautiful way. Therefore, art and aesthetics develop in all their aspects.
Moreover, a religious person has a clean conscience. Thus there is no pressure on his mind and he can produce beautiful, unique and original works of art. Also, people working with the desire to please and present beautiful things to other religious people, act sincerely and vigorously.
14- What are the benefits which observance of the morals of the Qur'an brings to the school system?
First of all, living the morals of the Qur'an brings maturity, wisdom, real joy, comfort and peace to children and youngsters. The insensitive, uncaring behaviour prevalent among young people in some societies is not present in those who abide by the Qur'an. The result is a good-natured, obedient, open minded, self-sacrificing and productive generation. The dynamism, excitement, and aggression of youth are all directed towards good deeds. A considerable assiduity and intellectual power develop. In such an environment, students give great importance to their education not only to pass examinations or escape punishment, but happily and willingly to contribute to their state and nation.
Disciplinary incidents in schools become unheard of. A very peaceful, constructive, and productive educational environment is formed. Cooperation develops between teachers and students based on obedience, respect, and tolerance. Also, students become extremely respectful and obedient towards the state and the police. The student demonstrations that we often see today do not take place, because there is no necessity for them.
15- What are the benefits which observance of the morals of the Qur'an brings to the work environment?
In societies where people lived by the morals of the Qur'an, there would be mutual understanding, cooperation, and justice in the work environment. Employers would care about the health of the employees and maintain the working environment at the most sanitary level. They would construct aesthetic and visually attractive work stations bearing in mind that employees would necessarily be working in the same environment over very long periods. They would pay them exactly what they deserve. They would not let any employee to be mistreated. They would keep themselves informed about the living conditions of the families of each employee. They would act conscientiously and ensure the protection of the employees. A situation where the powerful oppressed the weak would never develop. Also immoral behaviour like malicious gossiping, and attempts to prevent others being successful out of envy would never take place. The relationship between the employees and the employer would be based not on self interest and cheating but on cooperation and trust. The employee would care about the interests of his company. He would not behave extravagantly, thinking, "The boss is paying for it anyway." He would always do his best, and he would never be wronged because of his good morals, but would be protected by his boss.
16- What is "ascribing a partner" to Allah, or idolatry?
Idolatry means considering a person or another being, or a concept as equal to or higher than Allah in terms of estimating, attributing significance, preference, and holding superior, and to act with this distorted point of view. Allah describes this situation as "associating with Allah any other God". In other words, to claim that somebody or something else has any of the attributes of Allah means ascribing a partner to Allah. Allah has proclaimed in the Qur'an that idolatry will not be forgiven:
Allah does not forgive anything being associated with Him but He forgives whoever He wills for anything other than that. Anyone who serves gods other than Allah is guilty of a terrible crime. (Surat an-Nisa, 48)
17- What is meant by "idolizing" something?
In conventional speech, "idolizing" only means worshipping certain things or beings. Yet, this concept has a much wider meaning and is not limited to past ages alone. In every age, there have been ignorant people who have ascribed partners to Allah, adopted other gods and worshipped idols or totem poles. It is not necessary for a person who idolizes something to say "this is a god, and I worship this" about the thing he idolizes, or to prostrate himself in front of it.
Idolatry is basically a person's erroneous preference for something or someone over Allah. For instance, preferring someone's approval to Allah's approval, or fearing someone as one fears Allah or loving someone as one loves Allah can serve as some examples.
In the Qur'an, Allah states that the idols that people ascribe as partners to Allah will not be of any help to them.
Instead of Allah you worship only idols. You are inventing a lie. Those you worship besides Allah have no power to provide for you. So seek your provision from Allah and worship Him and give thanks to Him. It is to Him that you will be returned.' (Surat al-Ankabut, 17)
18- How is one saved from idolatry?
First of all, one has to confirm from his heart that Allah is the only god, all power belongs to Him, and no being other than Him can possess any power to provide help or cause harm. A person who affirms these truths conclusively serves Allah alone and never ascribes partners to Him. Allah advised people that they must turn completely to Him to be saved from idolatry.
It is Him alone you call on and, if He wills, He will relieve your affliction; then you will forget what you associated with Him (your idols). (Surat al-An'am, 41)
The radical change experienced by a person who is freed from ascribing partners to Allah and turns to Allah, first occurs in his heart. The person who is saved from ascribing a partner to Allah gains a totally different point of view and mindset. He now leads his life which, until then, he had pursued under the sway of certain rules of ignorance, as well as his own wishes and obsessions, for Allah's approval and pleasure alone.
19- What does it mean to seek Allah's approval on the highest plane?
What would you do if the place you lived in suffered a flood disaster? Would you climb to the top floor and wait to be saved, or would you climb floor by floor as the waters arose? While climbing to the roof, would you act slowly or try with all your might to reach the roof as soon as possible? Obviously, the wisest thing to do at such a moment would be to choose out of all the alternatives that would save you, the one which would yield the fastest result. Any other course would be quite out of the question. The person in this situation would be considered to have done his best by reaching the top floor in the fastest manner possible. This is "choosing the best course."
The believer makes use of all his material and spiritual means, every hour and even every second of his life in accordance with the will of Allah. In doing so, if he is required to make a choice among certain alternatives, he draws on his wisdom and listens to his conscience, thus behaving in a way which would please Allah. This means that he acts in compliance with Allah's approval at the highest level.
20- What does having implicit faith mean?
Any individual would know without doubt that he would be burned if he stuck his hand into a fire. He would never have to think whether it was really going to get burned or not. This means that this person has the implicit belief that the fire is going to burn his hand. In the Qur'an, "implicit belief" is referred to as follows:
This (the Qur'an) is a clear insight for mankind, and guidance and a mercy for people who believe with certainty. (Surat al-Jathiyyah, 20)
"Having implicit faith" means believing in Allah's existence and uniqueness, the day of resurrection, heaven and hell with absolute certainty, without any doubt, with full confidence as to their truth. It is like believing in the existence of the beings around one, whom one sees and talks to, and the intuitive knowledge demonstrated by the example of the fire given above. Faith built on believing with certainty develops in the individual a conscience which will prod him into spending every moment of his life acting in a way that will please Allah.