The Evolution Deceit
Islamic Scholars and the Signs Leading to Faith
One important source that reveals these signs' importance and shows how they are to be interpreted is the works of past and present great Islamic scholars. These holy people, who lived and thought in complete obedience to the Qur'an and Sunnah, attached great importance to this activity. In their works, they always gave pride of place to the signs leading to faith. In this chapter, we look at some of their examples and ideas.
Imam Ghazali (1058-1111), an Islamic scholar from Khurasan, was considered one of the sharpest intellects of his time, as well as the mujaddid (renovator) of his time (a great scholar referred to in the hadiths and sent at the beginning of every Islamic century to teach the signs of faith according to the requirements of the age). His broad knowledge, superior intellect, and powerful judgment caused his fame to spread throughout the Islamic world and even in the West. Imam Ghazali effectively invalidated those beliefs that are distant from the Qur'an's morality and the ideas of several contemporary thinkers, particularly those influenced by classical Greek philosophy, and kept faith alive in the face of such errors.
In all of his teachings and discourses, this famous scholar gave broad and detailed consideration to the signs leading to faith. Some examples of the signs in his works and some of his pronouncements on their importance are as follows:
No ruler can administer his country in a manner that is more orderly than God's order, Who ensures the regulation of the dominions of the heavens, Earth, and this universe. No one is more excellent and perfect than God. This being the case, is there a more delicious glance than looking at Him? Then one realizes that knowing God and His secrets is more delicious than any other information.
The taste of the heart is knowing God, the Glorious. Each sensory organ has something from which it derives pleasure and taste. For the eye, it is to see beautiful things; for the ear, it is to hear pleasurable things; and for lust (desire), it consists of such things as tasting good things or gaining victory over foes. The more one proceeds on the way to knowing Him, the more taste he/she acquires. What could be more delicious than the craft that manifests the attributes and names, secrets and divine purposes, works and artistry, sovereignty and majesty of God, the Creator and Owner of the universe? What could be greater than being close to Him and having the honor and happiness of knowing Him? 1
Humanity, who is created from a drop of water, is one of God's signs... Think of your previous state and what you have become. If jinn and human beings had come together, could they have created an eye, an ear, or power, science or soul, or wisdom from a drop of water? Could they have created bones, veins, nerves, skin, or hair? These aside, once God created all of them, they would fail to understand a human being's beauty and nature, and the essence of his/her existence...
He has made night and day subservient to you, as well as the Sun and the Moon and the stars, all subject to His command. There are certainly Signs in that for people who use their intellect.
Look at what God has bestowed and His grandeur, that glorious power and His purposes, and how they embrace human beings. It is a wonder that someone who admires a work of art thinks about the artist's talents and expresses his glorious artistry and skills. However, they do not think of God's artistry and purpose when they look at this magnificient universe and what has been created.2
The Sun, Moon, stars, cloud, rain, wind, and all powers in nature... are all under God's sway and command. They are like the pens in a clerk's hand.3
In the sky, there are many stars hundreds of times larger than Earth. They look like a single dot, for they are so far away. This fact reveals the greatness of the heavens. Despite their haughtiness, all of these stars are seen as very small in your eyes. For this very reason, you can grasp the mightiness and sovereignty of the One Who creates them all.4
Take a look at these numerous stars... their movements, spins, and their spinning speeds are all different. Some rotate once a year, some every 12 years, and others every 30 years. The astounding knowledge there is immense. ... Any attempt to convey the knowledge provided by God about this issue in this short life of the world would continue for days.5
Turn your face to the heavens; to the stars in the sky, to how they rise and set continuously and without mistake; and to the Sun and the Moon. Consider their regular movements that will continue until the Day of Judgment, as well as their orbits that will never deviate, and take lessons from them! Think about the great number of stars, their shapes and colors. Look at the movement of Sun within a year. Without its rising and setting, there would be no day or night. If there were no difference between them, there would be no seasons. ... Examples are legion. Every entity in the universe has many purposes. If the universe were a house, the heavens would be its roof.6
Al-Imam Al-A`zam Abu Hanifa
Abu Hanifa (d. 767), founder of the Hanifa sect and known during his own lifetime as "al-Imam al-A`zam" (The Great Scholar), strove to communicate the message of Islam and teach people God's commandments. The signs leading to faith constituted the most important method he used to spread Islam and prove God's existence. As an example of just how much importance this great scholar attached to these signs, consider the following dialogue with an atheist (a naturalist or materialist who does not believe the Hereafter):
When Abu Hanifa, who lived on the opposite shore of Baghdad, failed to take his place at the hour for debate, various questions arose in the mind of the atheist and the crowd. Everyone wondered: "Why hasn't he come? Will he really not come? Is he afraid? Has he been unable to find any proof?" and so on. Al-Imam al-A`zam arrived shortly after the appointed time. The atheist had been encouraged by this, and his arrogance and pride had grown…
Abu Hanifa apologized and began to explain why he was late: "I could not find a boat to carry me from the other shore. I began waiting, thinking that perhaps a skiff or a raft would come. … At that moment, I saw that the trees suddenly fall over, turn themselves into timber, and the timber become a skiff. And then I saw an oar and a sail create themselves and assume their proper forms. I was delighted that I would no longer have to keep you waiting and so jumped into the skiff, which then brought me here by itself…"
The atheist and the crowd were unable to understand these words. The atheist, who believed that everything was created by nature, said that it was impossible for such an event to take place … which was just what al-Imam al-A`zam had been expecting …
Smiling, he replied: "How can you accept that a tiny skiff cannot come into being of its own accord without a builder and an artist, and yet you still believe that this magnificent universe could have come into being of its own accord, without a maker or a creator? The universe is the work of God, not of itself. There is no need to initiate a debate and dispute when all this is so apparent." 7
He made the sea subservient to you so that you could eat fresh meat from it and bring out from it ornaments to wear. And you see the ships cleaving through it so that you can seek His bounty and so that, hopefully, you will show thanks.
Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani
Like other Islamic scholars, al-Jilani (1077-1166) (known as al-Gawth [the arch-helper] of al-Imam al-A`zam), who lived in the eleventh century, attached great importance to the signs leading to faith. In his works, he called on people to consider the proofs of God. Various statements from his work The Divine Gift demonstrate this importance:
Every atom in the universe contains beautiful artistry. Each of these beautiful arts are proofs that demonstrate His existence, and everyone who adheres to them can reach God. Think deeply. As your thoughts deepen, you will rise and grow.8
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
The great scholar Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1880-1960), regarded as the mujaddid of the last Islamic century, speaks of the importance of these signs throughout his Qur'anic commentary The Risale-i Nur Collection:
There is a palace with a hundred doors, all closed. When one of its doors is opened, the palace may be entered and the other doors opened. If all of the doors are open and one or two are closed, it may not be said that the palace cannot be entered. Thus, the truths of belief are the palace. Each evidence is a key; it proves the truths and opens a door. If one of the doors remains closed, the truths of belief cannot be abandoned and denied. Satan, however, as a consequence of certain things or by means of heedlessness or ignorance, points out a door that has remained closed, thus causing a person to disregard all of the positive evidence. Saying: "See, this palace cannot be entered. Perhaps it is not a palace, and there is nothing inside it," he deceives the person.9
And We send down water from the sky and make every generous species grow in it.
In his Mektubat (Letters), he emphasized the importance of adhering to the signs leading to faith in our own time and said that many previous Islamic scholars, if they were alive today, would concentrate on freeing peoples' faith by teaching them about these signs:
In his Letters (Mektubat), Imam-i Rabbani (may God be pleased with him), the hero and a sun of the Naqshbandi Order, said: "I prefer the unfolding of a single matter of the truths of belief to thousands of illuminations, ecstasies, and instances of wonder-working." He also said: "The final point of all the ways is the clarification and unfolding of the truths of belief." ... In which case, the Naqshi way consists of three "veils": The first and most important is direct service to the truths of belief; Imam-i Rabbani traveled this way in his later years ...
Since the reality of the matter is thus, my conjecture is that if persons like Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir Jilani (may God be pleased with him) and Shah Naqshband (may God be pleased with him) and Imam-i Rabbani (may God be pleased with him) were alive at the present time, they would expend all of their effort in strengthening the truths of belief and tenets of Islam, for they are the means to eternal happiness. If there is deficiency in them, it results in eternal misery.10
In other writings, Bediuzzaman refers to these signs' importance in the following terms:
At this time the truths of belief must be the first objective, the first duty, and the fundamental aim. Everything else remains in the second, third, and fourth place. Serving them with the Risale-i Nur must be the primary duty, subject of concern, and fundamental aim … Those scholars outside the frame of the Risale-i Nur, and perhaps holy men too because of their links to this political and social life, leave the importance of the truths of belief to the second or third place and, under the influence of those tendencies, even come to love those hypocrites who share the same ideas with them … I think that while the true students of the Risale-i Nur are fulfilling their duty to explain the truths of belief at the level of eternal diamonds, their holy tasks must not be interrupted, and their minds must not be confused with the chess-like games of the cruel.11
Furthermore, one passage expresses the importance he attached to the signs leading to faith:
According to Bediuzzaman, the fundamental problem was for a person to perceive himself, other beings, the universe, and those of his kind within the axis of faith. The most important task is to bring that about … Making that analysis, Bediuzzaman then developed his remedial method, the essence and summary of which is "inquiring faith." It was time to raise people on the axis of "inquiring faith" who would be enriched by the technology of the age. This could be done by education.12
In his Tabiat Risalesi, Bediuzzaman devoted considerable space to the signs leading to faith. In his Barla Letters, he explained that one of the Risale-i Nur's most important features was its ability to silence materialist and naturalist intellectual trends by leading people to think deeply on the signs:
Against the destructions wreaked on hearts by leftist currents, the Risale-i Nur Collection, serving as a spiritual miracle of the Qur'an and a spiritual atomic bomb against our time's unbelief, mends the spirit of hearts and imparts an astounding power and basis of might into its readers' hearts. Moreover, it does so with the inspiration and guidance of the Qur'an. With the lessons it provides on contemplation over faith, it points to the light of God's Oneness for the issues that have stumped the naturalists and materialists. It explains the truths of belief with illustrations and evidence from the material world. It arises as a sun and provides the proof for the truths of belief for the very same matters in the high school and university science curricula. For such reasons, in our time the Risale-i Nur Collection is a spiritual diamond sword in the hands of the faithful that needs to be primarily undertaken by the people of faith and Islam. The lessons of the Qur'an, the common signs of knowing God, come through the knowledge and inspiration of the verses that address themselves to the awareness of the age, and the recognition and understanding of the time. It brings the most proper style to a person's needs and instructs.13
The two seas are not the same: the one is sweet, refreshing, delicious to drink, the other salty, bitter to the taste. Yet from both of them you eat fresh meat ...
In many of his other works, the master drew attention to the proofs of faith in the creation of the universe and living things, saying that everything was a proof displaying God's superior might. Other of Bediuzzaman's statements about signs leading to faith are given below:
O man who is addicted to enjoyment and pleasure! I am seventy-five years old, and I know with utter certainty from thousands of experiences, proofs, and events that true enjoyment, pain-free pleasure, grief-free joy, and life's happiness are only to be found in belief and in the sphere of the truths of faith. While a single worldly pleasure yields numerous pains, as though dealing ten slaps for a single grape, it drives away all of life's pleasure.14
It is unlikely that a book, whose words hold the entire book within itself and whose letters hold an entire line within themselves, can come into being without the existence of an author. Likewise, the existence of the Book of the Universe depends on the existence of God, the Ever-Lasting.15
No unbiased being in the universe can deny God, the All-Glorious, Who has as many witnesses as the components of the universe ... If it did, it would remain silent and indifferent, for the whole universe would deny it.16
Just as an ordinary machine, with its orderly and measured unity, reveals the existence of a skilful and scrupulous craftsman, each one of the countless (living) machines crowding the universe indicates thousands of miracles of wisdom. To the degree of the Sun's light, the glowworm's light brightly testifies that those living beings exist due to the existence of their skilful and eternal Master, and that He deserves to be worshipped.17
… Since an orderly act cannot occur without an author, a meaningful book cannot be without a scribe, and a beautiful piece of embroidery cannot be woven without an embroiderer, the purposeful acts which fill the universe surely have an author, and the meaningful letters and amazing embroideries which cover the face of the Earth and are renewed from season to season have a scribe and an embroiderer.18
There are three great and universal things which make our Sustainer known to us. One is the Book of the Universe … another is the Seal of the Prophets (May God bless them), the supreme sign of the Book of the Universe. The other is the Qur'an of Mighty Stature.19
Come, my friend! Now we shall leave these particular matters and turn our attention to the mutual positions of the parts of this wondrous world in the form of a palace. Look! Universal works are being carried out, and general revolutions are occurring in this world with such order that all of the rocks, soil, trees, in fact everything in this palace, observe the universal systems of the world and conform to them as if each were acting with its own will.20
All of these fruits and the seeds within them are miracles of Divine wisdom, wonders of Divine art, gifts of Divine mercy, material proofs of Divine unity, and bearers of the good news that Divine favors will be granted in the Hereafter. Just as they are all truthful witnesses to His all-embracing power and knowledge, each of them is a mirror confirming His unity in all the corners of the world of multiplicity and in all the parts of the world of this tree, a world that has become multiple. They turn the gaze from multiplicity to unity.21
Thus, if your mind is not submerged in delusions, you will understand that to make a word of power (e.g., a honey-bee) a minute index of most things, and to write in one page (e.g., a person) most of the matters in this Book of the Universe, and to include in one point (e.g., a tiny fig seed), the program of the mighty fig-tree, and to display in a single letter (e.g., the human heart) the works of all the Divine Names manifested in the pages of the macrocosm which encompass it, and to place in the human faculty of memory, which is situated in a place the size of a lentil, writings enough to fill a library, and to include in that tiny faculty a detailed index of all events in the cosmos—to do all of these things is most certainly a stamp particular to the Creator of All Things, the Glorious Sustainer of the universe.22
Mehmed Zahid Kotku
He stretched out the land and placed firmly embedded mountains and rivers on it, and made two types of every kind of fruit. He covers over day with night. There are Signs in that for people who reflect.
Mehmed Zahid Kotku (1897-1980), spent his life guiding people with his wise words, teaching, and serving the Qur'an. Taking the Qur'an as his guide, he told all who would listen of the signs leading to faith, incontrovertible proofs of God's existence. Some examples of his writings are given below:
For thinking people, there are countless warnings and portents to be pondered on Earth and in the sky regarding God's existence and oneness. Looking at Earth and sky again and again, and drawing warnings and feelings from them, will definitely be a means of turning to God.23
Can we know the type and number of God's creatures on Earth, in the sky, in the sea, and in the air? Nobody other than our Creator—God—can know their number. In particular, think of those things that we call germs, which so frighten us, are invisible to the naked eye, and threaten people, animals, and even our fruits. We cannot defeat them. Is their existence not enough to prove His existence and oneness? How is it that these tiny creatures can suddenly cause a person to lay down on the ground and eventually die? This is, of course, a lesson for thinking people.24
Islamic scholars have always placed the signs leading to faith at the forefront of their message. As can be seen from the above passages, Islamic scholars have thought long and hard about these signs and then called on people to understand them as proofs of His existence and to think about His names.
We must take their considerations as models and learn more about, study, and interpret the signs leading to faith by using all of the scientific and technological possibilities available to us.
1 Online at: www.hakikat.com/nur/tsvf/tsvf16.html.
2 Imam Ghazali, Zubdet-ul-ihya, Huccet-ul-Islam (Sayings of Imam Ghazzali), Muhammad al-Qasimi, (Istanbul: Kitabevi Publishings, 1973), 579.
3 Imam Ghazali, Kimya-yi Saadet (Alchemy of Happiness), trans. by A. Faruk Meyan (Istanbul: Bedir Publishings), 712.
4 Ibid., 707.
5 Ibid., 706-07.
6 Imam Ghazali, Zubdet-ul-ihya (Sayings of Imam Ghazzali), 584.
7 Emin Arik, Ateizm'den Inanca (From Atheism to Belief), 4th ed. (Istanbul: Marifet Publishings, 1998), 68.
8 Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Ilahi Armagan (The Divine Gift), 39.
9 Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Risale-i Nur Collection, "The Flashes": The 13th Flash.
10 Ibid., "The Letters," The 5th Letter.
11 Ibid., "Kastamonu Lahikasi" (Kastamonu Additions), 84-85. Online at:www.yeniasya.org.tr/rslhtm/KAST_78.HTM.
12 For Bediuzzaman Said Nursi's life, see www.nesil.com.tr/wwwroot/turkish/nursi-tr/nursi.html.
13 Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Risale-i Nur Collection, "Barla Lahikasi" (Barla Additions), 412.
14 "The Rays," The 14th Ray.
15 Saban Dogen, Risale-i Nur'dan Vecizeler (Good Sayings From Risale-i Nur Collection), 2nd ed. (Istanbul: Genclik Publishings), 161.
16 Ibid., 162.
18 Nursi, The Risale-i Nur Collection, "The Words," The 31st Word.
19 Ibid., The 19th Word.
20 Ibid., The 22nd Word.
21 Ibid., The 32nd Word.
22 Ibid., The 22nd Word.
23 Mehmed Zahid Kotku, Tasavvufi Ahlak (Mystical morals), 4th ed. (Istanbul: Seha Nesriyat, 1991), 228.
24 Ibid., 229.