Why Allah? – Why Muslims Believe and Why Belief Matters?
In this seminar, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explores these questions as well as other common and important questions that every Muslim should know the answer to. Why is there suffering when God is All-Merciful? Who is God?
WHY MUSLIMS BELIEVE IN ALLAH?
Shaykh Faraz started the seminar by highlighting the prophetic supplication known as sayyid al-istighfar, the foremost way of seeking forgiveness. Through it, there is a declaration of faith and affirmation of Truth. The supplication’s translation is as follows:
“O Allah, you are my Lord. There is no god but you. You have created me, and I am your servant—and I am upon Your covenant and promise as best I can. I seek refuge in You from the worst of what I have done. I fully admit to You Your blessings upon me, and I fully admit to You all my sins. So forgive me, for there is none to forgive sins but You.”
Through this way of seeking forgiveness, we are affirming our relationship to God, which is a relationship between the created and the Creator. God is the One who creates us, sustains us and takes care of us. We admit our debt to God and our absolute neediness of Him. This is a statement of identity, and and an affirmation of why we believe.
WHO IS GOD?
Shaykh Faraz then posed the question to the audience: who is God?
After a brief group breakout and discussion between the attendees, some of the answers included: The All-Merciful, The Light of the heavens and earth, The Creator of everything, and many other answers.
Shaykh Faraz provided the classical definition and answer of who is God. God is the necessary existent. Everything is either possible, necessary, or absurd. Everything you see in this universe is merely possible. We could imagine that everything is on a scale of “to be or not to be”. The existence of possible things is granted by God.
God is the creator and sustainer. We don’t say that God is just the first cause, “He got the ball rolling”. Rather he created the ball and at every moment is sustaining the ball. This is expressed in Ayat al-Kursi: “the Living and Sustainer”. Therefore, He is the one and only necessary existent.
God is The One free of need of any other, whom all are in absolute need of. The One worthy of worship.
DO WE JUST BELIEVE BLINDLY?
Shaykh Faraz posed the question: what does it mean to believe?
Belief or faith is confirming something as true (tasdiq). The basis is that faith be certain (jazm), and therefore based on proof (dalil). Faith through mere following (taqlid) is acceptable but weak.
WHY DO WE BELIEVE IN ALLAH?
Shaykh Faraz then provided four main reasons to why we believe in God. Those reasons are built on rational proofs and are found in detail through the study of Islamic beliefs.
(1) Creation requires a Creator. Creation is a sign that points to the Creator.
(2) Necessity.Creation is merely possible (mumkin). Anything that is possible to exist, cannot be eternal, and requires a Necessary Being to bring it into existence. That Necessary Being, necessarily exists and is eternal.
(3) The inimitability of the Qur’an. The proof is in the Qur’an. The challenge to produce the like of it, even if a few verses. The Arabs were at the height of eloquence in the Arabic language, and yet couldn’t produce anything like the Qur’an in language or style. The Qur’an is also inimitable in it’s spiritual guidance, worldly guidance, and the scientific knowledge it contains.
(4) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). His well-documented life, person, conduct, example, teachings, guidance, inimitable virtue, purpose, excellence a, beauty, are all proofs. He is an embodiment of the complete human being. Rationally, he made a truth claim (‘I am the Messenger of God, and the proof is this Message.’) — and this claim was confirmed through the Qur’an and the miracles that occurred at his hands.
(5) The Qur’an – M M Abdel Haleem Translation and The Clear Qur’an
(6) Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings
WHAT ABOUT THE “PROBLEM OF EVIL”?
Shaykh Faraz then addressed what has been come be known as the “problem of evil”. The problem that many people perceive is that if we believe in Just Lord, why is there injustice? If we believe in a Loving Lord, why is there hatred? If we believe in a Good Lord, why is there evil?
He started off by saying that we don’t have a problem of evil in the Islamic tradition. However, first we need to understand the principles. What is good and evil?
If Bilal owns a tree, and he used some wood for a table, other for a toilet seat, and some as firewood, could the wood complain that this is unfair? No, because the owner has the right to do with what they own what they will. Likewise, God created us and owns us, and He can do with us whatever he wills. Yet, He has chosen to deal with us on the basis of mercy.
Also, it helps to understand that this world is not the end of things; there is a hereafter. So if a child dies, then they will enter heaven, which is infinite mercy. Oppressors that may seem like they got away, will be judged in the hereafter.
This world is a test. In that light, a believer is not concerned about the hardships of this world. A good student actually asks for a hard test so he is distinguished. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “If God loves a servant he sends them tribulations.”
There is no problem because this life is a test. Human good and evil have worldly and Next-Worldly consequences.
So is God Good? This is putting a false dichotomy. We say that God is Merciful. There is the general mercy if creating and sustaining, and the specific mercy for those who respond to tests of life. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “How strange is the affair of the believer, for their affairs are all for their good. And this is for no one except for a believer. If pleasing things happen to them they have gratitude, and that is for their good. And if distressful things happen to them they are steadfast, and that too is for their good.”
THE REALITY OF CLOSENESS TO GOD
Finally, Shaykh Faraz highlighted some key fruits of belief and the reality of having closeness to God.We live blind, until we live our faith. What is reality: Allah is the Real. Who is more real, you or God? The Real comes before the created. Everything else only has reality through Allah giving it reality. True contentment comes from connecting with The Real who is closer to you than yourself.
“Allah is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth” [Qur’an, 24.35]
“Those who believe and whose hearts find contentment by remembering God. Truly, it is only through remembrance of God that hearts find contentment.” [Qur’an, 13.28]
Shaykh Faraz then provided five keys to nourish faith and with some parting advice and counsel.
(1) Learn your faith soundly.
(2) Live your faith in the community.
(3) Consult and seek certitude – if you have doubts, consult and seek answers, otherwise it may chip away at your faith, and ultimately your religion.
(4) Nurture your faith through devotion and service.
(5) Water with wisdom, the Qur’an and Sunna.
Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah for the fuel of faith is the remembrance of Allah.