You have just come back from a long vacation…
Your home has been equipped with new furnishings, in a highly regular and perfect manner …
Every detail has been considered...
You will of course be greatly astonished and affected by such an occurrence.
You wonder who it was that prepared this surprise for you.
You cannot fail to react to such an extraordinary surprise. You realize that someone has consciously planned and arranged everything.
The situation in this example also applies to the entire universe, our world and all living and inanimate things in them.
There are exceedingly complex systems and countless delicate balances everywhere in the universe, from the human body to the sky, from animals to the depths of the oceans.
Anyone capable of thinking and using their mind will see that Allah, the Almighty and Omnipotent, created all these complex systems and balances:
The brightly colored and wondrously perfumed flowers and delicious fruits and vegetables that grow from the muddy earth,
The sense organs capable of perceiving these delights,
The human body whose many complex systems work in a perfect and harmonious manner,
The Sun that lights and heats our world, and that has been created at just the right distance and size to do so,
The rain that gives life to dry soil,
And all the other countless such proofs that pervade the whole universe...
Anyone of good conscience who reflects in these proofs will come to faith by seeing the existence and greatness of Allah.
And believers will know Allah even closer, and their faith in and love and fear of Him will grow still further.
SIGNS LEADING TO FAITH IN THE QUR’AN
Human beings cannot see the Person of Allah. But they can realize His existence by looking at the things He creates. In the same way that each work of art proclaims its artist, so living and inanimate things introduce us to Allah, their maker.
People must think about these things and witness the proofs of Creation. Indeed, in the Qur’an Allah cites various animals, such as camels, gnats and bees, as well as plants, trees, mountains, the earth and sky as individual miracles of Creation:
Have they not looked at the camel – how it was created?
and at the sky – how it was raised up?
and at the mountains – how they were embedded?
and at the earth – how it was smoothed out? (Surat al-Ghashiyya, 17-20)
Allah is not ashamed to make an example of a gnat or of an even smaller thing. As for those who believe, they know it is the truth from their Lord. But as for those who are unbelievers, they say, ‘What does Allah mean by this example?’ He misguides many by it and guides many by it. But He only misguides the deviators. (Surat al-Baqara, 26)
Your Lord revealed to the bees: ‘Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect.
Then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, which have been made easy for you to follow.’ From inside them comes a drink of varying colors, containing healing for mankind. There is certainly a sign in that for people who reflect. (Surat an-Nahl, 68-69)
It is He Who appointed the sun to give radiance, and the moon to give light, assigning it phases so you would know the number of years and the reckoning of time. Allah did not create these things except with truth. We make the signs clear for people who know.
In the alternation of night and day and what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth there are signs for people who have fear. (Surah Yunus, 5-6)
For anyone thinking in the light of his conscience, these signs leading to faith emphasized in the Qur’an are very important means of comprehending the existence of Allah, signs that draw one closer to Him.
The evidence revealing the existence and omnipotence of Allah can be found everywhere we live. Everything we encounter is a message sent to us by our Lord, that we have to “read” in spiritual terms. Looked at in these terms, a single flower is a letter. It brings our Creator’s message, for those who know how to read it.
Some signs leading to faith also prove that the Qur’an is the true Book:
How the universe came into being,
The expansion of the universe,
The separation of the earth and sky,
The spherical nature of the earth,
The strata of the earth,
Orbits and the revolving universe,
The measure in rain,
The bounds in the seas...
Nobody knew about any of these things at the time the Qur’an was revealed. But the fact they are set out in verses of the Qur’an is a significant truth once again showing that the Qur’an is the word of Allah.
ACHIEVING GREATER DEPTH IN THE SIGNS LEADING TO FAITH
Allah tells us in the verses of the Qur’an that the signs leading to faith have a great meaning for people able to think.
One of the techniques we should employ in thinking about these signs is to inquire into and compare the entities and events we see around us. Allah teaches us one example of this thought system as follows:
Have you thought about the water that you drink?
Is it you who sent it down from the clouds or are We the Sender?
If We wished We could have made it bitter, so will you not give thanks? (Surat al-Waqi’a, 68-70)
Water is a blessing that covers much of the earth and that is always easily available to us.
The great majority of people have perhaps never thought about the water they drink every day of their lives. They regard the existence of water, and in a form completely appropriate to our needs, as something very natural and ordinary, not requiring any reflection at all.
The fact is, however, that as revealed in verses, had Allah so wished He could have made the chemical and physical properties of water very different. Or the structure or temperature of the earth could have been very different to what they actually are.
In that case, there would have been no such thing as “clouds.” And so there would have been no sources of fresh water. All we would have is the salty water of the oceans.
Mankind could not survive at all in such a world, or else only under very difficult conditions, in a constant state of crisis. In the absence of fresh water, there could be no agriculture, the world would turn into some big desert, and the end result would be terrible famine.
But Allah has given us sources of fresh water and has placed them in all regions of the world. Of course we must give thanks to Allah in the face of this.
This example of water of course also applies to all the natural entities, living things and events all around us. They are all blessings from Allah.
ISLAMIC SCHOLARS’ IDEAS REGARDING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SIGNS LEADING TO FAITH
One important source showing us the importance of the signs leading to faith and how they should be interpreted is the works of great Islamic scholars, both past and present.
These guides, who lived in complete harmony with the Qur’an and the Sunnah, attached great importance to the investigation of the signs leading to faith and to reflection upon them, and always emphasized these signs in their works.
Imam Ghazali is a most valuable Islamic scholar from Khorasan, who lived in the second half of the 11th century and the early part of the 12th. He is regarded as the mujaddid of his day. A mujaddid is a great scholar described in the hadiths of the Prophet (saas) and sent to describe religious truths at the beginning of every century.
In his lectures and conversation, this blessed individual devoted wide space to the signs leading to faith. Some instances of signs leading to faith in his works are as follows:
Man, who is created from a drop of water, is one of Allah’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?
Look at what Allah 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 Allah’s artistry and purpose when they look at this magnificent universe and what has been created. (Imam Ghazali, Zubdat-al-Ihya, Hujjat-al-Islam (Sayings of Imam Ghazzali), Muhammad al-Qasimi, Istanbul: Kitabevi Publishings, 1973, p. 579)
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. Through this very reason, you can grasp the mightiness and sovereignty of the One Who creates them all. (Imam Ghazali, Kimya-yi Saadet (Alchemy of Happiness), trans. by A. Faruk Meyan, Istanbul: Bedir Publishings, p. 707)
Imam Azam Abu Hanifa
Abu Hanifa, an absolute mujtahid, is one of our most blessed scholars, known among the Muslims of his time as the "Imam al-A’zam" or "the Great Imam.” He served as imam to all Muslims and strove throughout his life to preach the moral values of Islam and tell people about Allah’s commandments.
A dialogue between this great imam and someone who had no faith in Allah is most instructive:
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 debater who did not believe in Allah 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.
Imam al-A`zam arrived shortly after the appointed time. The debater 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 fell over, turn themselves into timber, and the timber became 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 debater and the crowd were unable to understand these words. The debater, who believed that everything was created by nature, said that it was impossible for such an event to take place … which was just what 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.” (Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifa, Emin Arik, Ateizm’den Inanca (From Atheism to Belief), 4th ed. Istanbul: Marifet Publishings, 1998, p. 68)
Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani
Like all other great Islamic scholars, Sayyid Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, who lived during the 11th century, attached great importance to signs leading to faith. In his works, he called on people to reflect on the proofs of Allah’s existence.
One passage demonstrating the importance he attached to signs leading to faith from his Al-Fath ar-Rabbani (The Sublime Revelation), reads as follows:
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 Allah. Think deeply. As your thoughts deepen, you will rise and grow. (Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Al-Fath ar-Rabbani (The Sublime Revelation), trans. By Albulkadir Cicek, 3rd ed., Istanbul: Bahar Publishing, 1968, p. 39.)
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
The great scholar Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, widely regarded as the mujaddid of the last Hijri century, also discussed the importance of signs leading to faith in many passages in his Risale-i Nur collection:
Each of the branches of knowledge you study constantly speaks of Allah and introduces the Creator in its own language...
In the same way that a perfect pharmacy will have marvelous and perfectly measured ointments and drugs in all its jars, so this points to an exceedingly able chemist who works with great wisdom.
So in the same way that the pharmacy of earth is so much more perfect and greater than that pharmacy in the market with all the ointments and drugs in its 400.000 species of plants and animals, so that medical knowledge we partly see shows, even to blind eyes, the Majesty of the Almighty, the greatest pharmacist on earth who works with the greatest wisdom. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Guide for Youth, p.143-155)
I at once looked and saw that innumerable birds and flies, which are miniature birds, and uncountable animals, and boundless plants and trees were, like me, reciting through the tongue of disposition “For us Allah suffices, and He is the Best Disposer of Affairs.” They recall to everyone the immensity and majesty of a Power which before our eyes particularly in the spring creates in most abundant plenitude, with the greatest ease and on a vast scale, from eggs, seeds, grains, and droplets of fluid, which all resemble each other and whose substance is the same, the hundred thousand species of birds, the hundreds of thousands of sorts of animals, the hundred thousand types of plants, and the hundred thousand varieties of trees, without error, defect, or confusion, in adorned, balanced, well-ordered fashion, and in forms all different from one another. Through their being made in this way together, one within the other and resembling each other, in the same way, they demonstrate to us His Unity and Oneness. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Flashes / The Twenty-Sixth Flash / For The Elderly - p.324)
THE MOST EFFECTIVE SOLUTION TO THE DECEPTION OF THE AGE: SIGNS LEADING TO FAITH
Up until the 19th century, irreligion and atheism were only espoused by a very few, marginal individuals or groups, whether in the East or West. But from the 19th century on, a systematic and planned propaganda aimed at imposing these ideas on vast numbers of people was set in motion. Those who carried out that propaganda, which is still being propagated, were circles who espoused a materialist ideology and world view. With the growing advances in science and technology and increasing use of the media and other means of communication, the atheist propaganda directed and managed by these circles has found its way to the remotest corners of the world.
The most effective solution to the greatest deception of our day is for people to be told of the signs leading to faith.
Reflection on the signs leading to faith is not left up to our own desire, but is commanded in the Qur’an. For that reason, reflecting on the signs leading to faith that fill the entire universe represents a constant act of worship for believers.
By way of the signs leading to faith that enable them to feel the existence of Allah at every moment and ever more powerfully, believers better understand the names of Allah and the sublime nature of those names, and try to draw ever closer to Him.
Unbelievers, on the other hand, turn their backs on the evident proofs of Allah’s existence, out of a state of heedlessness caused by lack of awareness and ignorance. Such people are described as follows in the Qur’an:
But as for those who are unbelievers and deny Our signs they are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. What an evil destination! (Surat at-Taghabun, 10)