What comes from nothing, but nothingness? And what moves unless something first moves before it? Nothing at all.
We know that the Universe began: and most probably through a ‘Big Bang’. But did it spark this Bang by itself? Did this Universe give birth to itself?
What moved first? A series of atoms, was it? Did they just guide themselves to the creation of everything, and eventually to every single astonishing process that has led to this world, our being, our bodily systems, our capacities for consciousness?
Jesus was not – is not – God. Why pray to a man, when you can pray to the One who created men? Jesus had indeed been a special human being, endowed with unique qualities by God Himself. It was not by mere fluke that he had managed to amass such devoted followers; he had indubitably been much more than a mere rabbit-and-hat magical illusionist.
A prophet of God, just like Muhammad (SAW) had later been. Accused of being a poet, a soothsayer, a magician. His abilities, too, had absolutely astounded people.
The Qur’an and its words had absolutely amazed the people of the time, in Arabia. ‘Twas a society fuelled by poetry, and even the most revered poet of the region had conceded to the Qur’an’s linguistic prowess and superiority.
Let us think about this realistically. Muhammad (SAW) had been extremely beloved; none of his friends and family members had thought of him as being insane. In fact, he had been known as an extremely wise and trustworthy person – even by his own enemies. If he had indeed been sane, what could he have wanted through the acceptance and spread of revelation, of Islam?
Expansion for the sake of expansion, even though it had resulted in family members turning away from him, periods of extreme poverty (during which, at one point, he had had to tie rocks to his stomach to quell the intensity of his hunger)? Muhammad (SAW) did not reach for hoards of wealth (he lived simply, slept on the floor, ate moderately, asked that people looked after the poor) nor for women (after his beloved wife Khadija RA – who had been fifteen years his senior – had passed away, he married A’isha RA, and multiple others – but these other wives had been divorcees, married for their own protection, typically for diplomatic purposes).
How many nights had Muhammad SAW spent in prayer, weeping? Once, A’isha RA had woken up in the middle of the night to find him absent from their home. Concerned, she went out to search for him, and found him at the Masjid, in quiet prayer, alone with the Alone.
How many times had his enemies attempted to ridicule him, by taunting, by slandering him, and once even by throwing sheep innards onto his back while he had been in prayer, in front of his young daughter.
What does Islam say? It says that God is One. It tells us that we did not come about by mere chance, and that human consciousness is not just another happy mistake. Our rich inner worlds matter much; we are not just biological robots.
Islam tells us that God had sent His prophets – men, purified servants of His – to every human nation and tribe. In some of these communities, the message had been honoured through time; in others, the message had become eroded and distorted, until people started confusing messengers for God Himself; until people began to draw all sorts of weird creatures, calling their artistic abominations… God.
Why do some find it so remarkably difficult to believe in Him? Well, for starters, many traditions have, in their ‘artistic portrayals’ of Him, attempted to anthropomorphise God. An old white man in the sky, perhaps, or some blue person with many arms [Astaghfirullah].
These things do not really make sense. But Islam maintains that, try as we might, we cannot conceive of what God ‘looks like’ – not yet, at least. Why? Because He is completely unlike His creation, unlike anything we currently know.
One can only conceive of things that are at least linked to other things one has seen before. We cannot imagine things that are beyond our existing frames of reference.
There is Beauty in our world: unity, proportion, harmony. Things – from the sub-atomic level and upwards – do not simply ‘know what to do’, without any external guidance. They are not the supreme intelligence, which know, for example, how to come together to create the human eye… nor do they know how to make one side of the face mirror the other. They are not intelligent, in and of themselves.
We need God; of course we do. We have always needed Him. And ‘God-less’ places are the most lost ones. We look for God even in ‘post-religious’ notions of spirituality, in searching for something ‘greater than ourselves’.
God is wholly Unique, the Unmoved Mover, the Most Wise. Al-Baari’, the Originator, Al-‘Aleem, the Omniscient. Al-Lateef, the most subtle. Al-Kabeer, the Greatest. Al-Muhyee, Giver of life. Al-Ra’oof, the Most Kind.
And He is also Al-Mujeeb: the Respondent One, here to listen to the prayers of both me and you, granted we call upon Him with sincerity.
“Call upon Me, I will respond to you.”
– Holy Qur’an, (40:60)
Sadia Ahmed, 2020