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Of Allah and Man

Blog 24 – Of Allah and Man

We left off identifying some of the differences in morality between societies oriented toward God and Allah.  This time we will look at some of the implications for creation and man, based upon Allah’s being absolute will.  We will also pick up the remaining areas of existence and knowledge related to First Cause.  Again references to the Qur’an are taken from Pickthall’s book on the meaning of the Qur’an.

Within Islam Allah is responsible for all of creation.  From the Qur’an, ‘He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days; then He mounted the Throne.  He knows all that enters the earth and all that emerges therefrom and all that comes down from the sky and all that ascends therein; and He is with you wheresoever you may be.  And Allah is Seer of what you do.  His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and unto Allah (all) things are brought back.  He causes the night to pass to day, and He causes the day to pass into night, and He is Knower of all that is in the breasts.’ (S57, 4-6)

Allah’s creation also includes man, although there are several different versions for how man was created within the Qur’an.  In some instances it is from fluid, another a clot, and another black mud; but the how doesn’t matter nearly as much as that man was created by Allah.  One verse regarding the creation of man follows:  ‘Does man think that he is to be left aimless?  Was he not a drop of fluid which gushed forth?  Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned and made of him a pair, the male and female.  Is not He (who does so) able to bring the dead to life?  (S75, 36–40)

So both Allah and God are responsible for the creation of everything that has ever been created.  However, man’s purpose differs significantly within Islam.  These differences include:  (1) man was created only to worship and obey Allah, (2) good works matter, but they matter only in that the actions are in obedience to Allah’s will, and (3) that all mankind does not possess the same nature, and therefore all do not possess the same rights.  In addition, most of Islam does not believe in man possessing free will.  Verses from the Qur’an regarding each of these areas are cited below.

There is no relationship between man and Allah as exists between man and God.  Instead man is Allah’s slave, created solely for the purpose of worshiping Allah.  Indeed Allah cannot be known as He is inscrutable.

‘I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.’ (S51, 56)

‘There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Beneficent as a slave.’ (S19, 93)

‘The (faithful) slaves of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish ones address them answer:  Peace.’ (S25, 63)

Compare this to the following passage on creation and the logic Clement of Alexandria uses to demonstrate the type of relationship that must exist between God and man, and also on the nature of God Himself.

‘For assuredly He [God] does not hate anything, and yet wish that which He hates to exist.  Nor does He wish anything not to exist, and yet become the cause of existence to that which he wishes not to exist.  Nor does He wish anything not to exist which yet exists.  If, then, the Word hates anything, He does not wish it to exist.  But nothing exits, that cause of whose existence is not supplied by God.  Nothing, then, is hated by God, nor yet by the Word.  For both are one – that is, God. . . If then He hates none of the things which He has made, it follows that He loves them.  Much more than the rest, and with reason, will He love man, the noblest of all objects created by Him, and a God-loving being.  Therefore God is loving; consequently the Word is loving.

But he who loves anything wishes to do it good.  But nothing is better than the Good.  The Good, then, does good.  And God is admitted to be good.  God therefore does good.  And the Good, in virtue of its being good, does nothing else than do good.  Consequently God does all good.  And He does no good to man without caring for him, and He does not care for him without taking care of him.  For that which does good purposefully, is better than what does no good purposely. But nothing is better than God.  And to do good purposely, is nothing else than to take care of man.  God therefore cares for man, and takes care of him. . . But the good is not said to be good, on account of its being possessed of virtue . . . but on account of its being in itself and by itself good.’

Although some sects of Islam recognize free will, most do not.  In regards to man’s free will:

‘And every man’s augury have We fastened to his own neck, and We shall bring forth for him on the Day of Resurrection a book which he will find open.  (And it will be said unto him):  Read your book.  Your soul suffices as reckoner against you this day.’ (S17, 13-14)

Good works matter within Islam, as they are necessary for salvation.  But the basis for those actions is obedience and not love – even for acts of charity. 

‘Then as for him whose scales are heavy (with good works), He will live a pleasant life.  But as for him whose scales are light, The Bereft and Hungry One will be his mother (Hell).’ (S101, 6-9)

‘Lo!  Those who believe and do good works, theirs will be Gardens underneath which rivers flow.  That is the Great Success.’ (S85, 11)

‘A spring wherefrom the slaves of Allah drink, making it gush forth abundantly, because they perform the vow and fear a day whereof the evil is widespreading, and they feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him, (Saying):  We feed you for the sake of Allah only.  We wish for no reward nor thanks from you.’ (S76, 6-9)

These beliefs present us with another inconsistency within Islam.  As all things come about from Allah’s will, then men cannot elect to do anything except what Allah has willed – as both good works and bad  have been predetermined by Allah’s will.  Compare this to the writing below by Clement of Alexandria on why bad things happen if God exists.

‘. . . it was not He (our Creator) wished us to be persecuted . . . Accordingly, they unwillingly bear testimony to our righteousness, we being unjustly punished for righteousness’ sake.  But the injustice for the judge does not affect the providence of God.  For the judge must be master of his own opinion—not pulled by strings, like inanimate machines, set in motion only by external causes.  Accordingly he is judged in respect to his judgment, as we also, in accordance with our choice of things desirable, and our endurance.’

This leads to another moral dilemma within a society based upon Islam’s principles.  The primary role of governance is that of administering justice, which is the virtue of providing each man what is due him.  However, if all comes about by Allah’s will, then how can there be any justice outside of Allah’s will?  Can justice be achieved for actions that are the result of another will?  If not, mustn’t one be resigned simply to accept another’s actions as right as those actions must be Allah’s will?  In brief, can justice be achieved through any human governance?

There is one final topic we need to mention concerning man’s nature.  Within Islam while man was created by Allah, not all mankind has the same nature, and as not all have the same nature, not all have the same rights.  There are several verses within the Qur’an for this area.  Below are listed just a few.

‘And Allah has favored some of you above others in provision.  Now those who are more favored will by no means hand over their provision to those (slaves) whom their right hands possess, so that they may be equal with them in respect thereof.  Is it then the grace of Allah that they deny?’ (S16, 71)

‘Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women).  So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah has guarded.  As for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.  Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them!  Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.’ (S4, 34)

‘O you who believe!  Choose not disbelievers for (your) friends in place of believers.  Would you give Allah a clear warrant against you?  Lo!  The hypocrites (will be) in the lowest deep of the Fire, and you will find no helper for them.’ (S4, 144-5)

‘Lo!  Those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Sabaeans, and Christians—Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does right—there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.’ (S5, 69)

Judeo-Christian tenets point to all men having the same nature as all are descendants of Adam, and that therefore all have the same basic rights as these have been given them by our Creator.  Within Islam the nature one possesses is based upon the group one is a part of, and therefore one’s rights are also different.  From the verses above there are differences in man’s nature noted between several different groups; between believers in Allah and those who do not, differences between men and women, and even differences between those who believe in Allah. 

Islam represents a form of collectivism, a belief in group rights and not individual rights or liberty.  However, it does differ from other forms of collectivism in that the end is different.  The end of a society with this foundation is based upon the expressed will of Allah as given through the revelations within the Qur’an.  The church and the state are not separate; they are one – as are the military, law, civics, etc.  All are Islam, and all exists to serve Allah, who is represented on the earth by the church and state – which are one.  Those who believe one can bring democracy as we know it to an Islamic state simply do not have enough understanding to know what they are talking about.  As proof, the next post will pick up with the fruits of Islam.

But before we end, a brief word about knowledge.  If God is the source of all creation, in order to know our purpose, and His will for us – then revelation is required for us to have knowledge of Him as He is First Cause.  The knowledge which comes from Him must be Truth.  Other truths may exist, but they must be consistent with His Truth.  In the words again of Clement of Alexandria:

‘One speaks in one way of the truth, in another way the truth interprets itself.  The guessing at truth is one thing, and truth itself is another.  Resemblance is one thing, the thing itself is another.  And the one results from learning and practice, the other from power and faith.’

‘The way of truth is therefore one.  But into it as into a perennial river, streams flow from all sides.’

This presents several significant differences for one who holds to Islam’s tenets.  First, Allah is inscrutable; He cannot be known.  We can only have knowledge of Him by His actions, but those actions are not a part of His nature.  Second, Allah’s will changes over time.  There is no guarantee that His will one day will be the same the next.  So how can one know truth?  Third, what relationship exists is in the form of master and slave; so understanding is not important – only acceptance and obedience matters.  For that reason, after the next post we will continue the discussion with the sources of Judeo-Christian and Islamic tenets.

 
Posted in: Islam

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About Dan Wolf

Dan WolfMy goal is that my writing will help you to get started on your own journey of discovery, or help you along the way on a journey you may have already begun. Our Founders considered education, religion, morality, and virtue to be the cornerstones for any successful society. Being successful requires understanding both the languages of reason and faith; reason alone is insufficient.