Know the Soul
By: Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi
“Soon will We show them our signs in the (furthest) regions and in their own souls……..” (Qur’an,41:53).
There is one tested method of knowing Allah; and that is “through His creation” – the Worlds and the Man. Let us begin with our self.
We do not know the nature of soul. Still we have to admit that there is something which is the source of “life” In the same way, though we cannot ‘know’ the Creator, we have to admit that there is a God who has created the universe.
We know that the soul is the ruler of our body. If any limb of ours refuses to obey the commands of the soul, it is not a reflection on the strength of the soul. It is considered the defect of the limb itself. Likewise, the God is the master and ruler of the universe; and if anybody refuses to obey the commandments of Allah, the authority of Allah can never be doubted. It will be a sign that the disobedient person is sick spiritually.
We know that soul is connected with our body; but we do not know where it is. The life is everywhere in our body; but if a limb of a man is amputated, we cannot say that so much portion of the soul also has been cut off. Thus, we see, the life everywhere and still we cannot say that it is here or is there. In the same manner, we know that Allah is everywhere; but we cannot say. “He is here” or “He is there”. We cannot point towards Him; we cannot correlate Him with any place.
Whenever we want to do any work, our limbs simply obey the unspoken command of the soul, without any need to tell them in so many words. In the same way whenever God wants anything to happen it just happens, without any need on the part of God to say “Be this” of “Be that” Therefore, we understand that the words used in scriptures that “God says and the thing happens” is just a way of expressing the idea that as soon as Allah wishes something, it happens immediately.
We do not see the soul; still we believe in it. Man believes in such creation which are beyond his senses. Strangely enough, there are some people who do not believe in the Creator, just because He is beyond their senses!
God has shown His signs in our self. Perhaps these points were in the mind of Amir-ul-mumeneen Ali when he said: “Whoever knew his soul, knew his Lord”.
Is God Dead?
“Creation of God, the pattern on which He has made mankind; there is no change in the work of God. That is the standard religion, but most among mankind do not understand”.(Qur’an, 30:30)
They claim that ‘God’ is dead. They should have said that ‘gods’ are dead. The confusion arises when false ‘gods’ are identified as ‘God’.
An atheist astronaut once glee fully joked that he went high above in the space but could not see the god. So, here is the confusion: the poor soul did not know that God is not ‘body’ to be seen or found in a ‘place’. His joke just confirmed the belief of those who had emphasized from the very beginning that God could not be seen.
Belief in a God is as much natural as any natural instinct can be. This eternal truth has been explained in the verse of the Holy Qur’an mentioned above. An atheist asked Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq how could be convince him about the existence of God. Coming to know that the man had gone several times on sea voyages, Imam asked him: “Have you ever been caught in a fierce storm in middle of nowhere, your rudder gone, your sails torn away, trying desperately to keep your boat afloat”. The answer was ‘Yes’. Then Imam asked: “And sometimes, perhaps, even that leaking boat went down leaving you exhausted and helpless on the mercy of raging waves?” The answer was again ‘Yes’. Then Imam asked: “Was not there, in all that black despair, a faint glimmer of hope in your heart that some unnamed and unknown power could still save you” When he agreed, Imam said: “That power is God”.
That atheist was intelligent. He knew the truth when he saw it. Today’s atheists give that place to ‘Nature’. The only snag is that poor ‘Nature’ is senseless and lifeless. How a senseless and lifeless ‘idea’ (because nature is no more than an abstract idea) could create a universe of such magnitude with such a systematic perfection, uniting millions and millions of galaxies in a well-knit system? How could nature give life and sense to creatures when itself it has none?
Unity of God
“Say. He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal. Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten, and there is none like unto Him”. (Qur’an. Sura 112)
This short Sura of the Holy Qur’an is the most significant of all writings dealing with the one-ness of God. As Allamah Abdullah Yousuf Ali has commented in his translation of the Holy Book, the nature of God has been indicated here in a few words, such as we can understand.
He writes: “Here we are specially taught to avoid the pitfalls into which man and nations have fallen at various times in trying to understand God.
“The first thing we have to note is that His nature is so sublime, so far beyond our limited conceptions, that the best way in which we can realize him is to feel that He is a personality. ‘He’, and not a mere abstract conception of philosophy.
“Secondly, He is the One and Only God, the only one to Whom worship is due, al other things or beings that we can think of are His creatures and in no way comparable to Him.
“Thirdly, He is Eternal, without beginning or end: Absolute, not limited by time or place or circumstance, the reality before which all other things or places are mere shadows or reflections.
“Fourthly, we must not think of Him as having a son or a father, for that would be to import animal qualities into our conception of Him.
“Fifthly, He is not like any other person or thing that we know or can imagine: His qualities and nature are unique”.
In fact this short Sura is a declaration of war against all ideas of paganism, and anthropomorphism. Men from the beginning have had a tendency to imagine God in their own image. Some thought of Him as having body, like animals or human-beings. Others thought that He was incarnated in the forces of nature, like rain, lightning, mountain and river. Still others thought that He was a father and had child or children. But this Sura warns us against this tendency to conceive God after our own pattern.
Can ‘Nature’ Replace God?
“Nature designed this’; Nature adapted that’. These are the phrases frequently seen nowadays in the text-books and articles.
What is this ‘Nature’, anyway? It is nothing but an abstract idea formed in human brain after careful study of the behavior of the things. It may be found (if it is ‘found’ at all) within the things; it has no independent existence. And, in any case, there is no record of any conference of the ‘natures’ of various things, held to decide how to co-ordinate their functions. Flowers never conferred with the bees to seek the bees’ co-operation in their pollination, offering them, in exchange, their nectar. But we know that bees could not live a single day without flowers; and thousands of flowers would long have been extinct but for the bees.
More puzzling are those phenomena which can not be explained by ‘nature’s planning’. When Moses fled from Pharaoh, the Red Sea parted, allowing him and his followers to cross to the promised land. Scientists nowadays try to explain it by natural causes; an earthquake must have made the water shift at that time. All right. But why did that supposed earthquake occur at a time when Moses and his followers desperately wanted to cross the Sea, and why it remained parted till Pharaoh entered into it? And why the movement of water was reversed at that very moment when the enemy of God with his people was in midst of the Sea? Was it all a coincidence?
And was it a coincidence which prompted a spider to weave its cobweb at the mouth of the cave in which the Holy Prophet Muhammad was hiding from the pagans of Mecca who wanted to murder him? And more than that, was it also a coincidence which brought a pair of pigeons to build their nest at the mouth of that very cave at thick of night and lay the eggs before morning? It was that cobweb and nest with eggs which led the blood-thirsty enemies to believe that Muhammad could not be in that cave, otherwise the cobweb would have been destroyed and the nest and the eggs broken!
Can that speed and timing of the pigeons and spider be explained by ‘natural causes’?