The order of creation is based on a series of laws inherent in its essence. The place of every phenomenon within it is clearly defined, and the existence of the various levels and degrees of existence is a necessary consequence of the systematic nature of creation, which inevitably gives rise to variety and differentiation.
Variation and differentiation have not themselves been created; they are the inseparable attributes of all phenomena. Every particle in the universe has received whatever it had the potential to receive; no injustice or discrimination has been visited upon it, and the perfection of the universe-resembling a multiplication table in its precise and immutable ordering-has thereby been ensured.
Materialists who regard the existence of variation and differentiation in the natural order as evidence of oppression and injustice and imagine that the world is not ruled by justice will inevitably experience life as difficult, unpleasant, and wearying.
The hasty judgment of the materialist confronted by hardship and difficulty is like the verdict of a child watching a gardener pruning the healthy, green branches of a tree in the spring. Unaware of the purpose and significance of the pruning, the child will think the gardener a destructive and ignorant person.
If all the bounties of the world were placed at the disposal of the materialist, he would still not be content For once the world is seen to be aimless and based on injustice, it is meaningless for man to seek justice, and in a world that is lacking an aim, it is absurd for man to set himself one.
If the origin and destiny of man are as the materialists depict them, such that he is a grass that grows of itself and then disappears, then man must be the most wretched of creatures. For he would be living in a world with which he lacks all affinity, compatibility and harmony. Thought, feeling and emotion would cause him distress, being nothing more than a cruel joke played on him by nature to increase his misery and wretchedness and augment his suffering.
Were a man of initiative and genius to devote himself to the service of humanity, what benefit would it hold for him? Posthumous commemorations and honorings, ceremonies held at his tomb, would not benefit him in the slightest; they would serve only to maintain a hollow legend, because the person in question would have been nothing more than a form assembled by nature for its amusement as a plaything for a few days before being turned into a handful of dust.
If we look at the fate of the majority of people who are constantly struggling with various kinds of sorrow, anxiety, deprivation and failure, the picture grows still more bleak. With such a view of human life, the only paradise materialism has to offer man is a hell of terror and pain. The materialist position that man lacks freedom and choice makes of him an even more wretched creature.
The mono-dimensional worldview of materialism would have it that man is like an automaton, with the mechanism and dynamism of its cells operated by nature. Can human intelligence and instinct-not to mention the realities of existence-accept such a banal and petty interpretation of man, his life and his destiny?
Were this interpretation to be true, man would be as incapable of experiencing happiness as a child's doll. Placed in such a situation, man would be compelled to make of his own passions and inclinations the foundation of morality and the yardstick of value, to judge all things according to personal profit and loss. He would do his utmost to destroy every obstacle in his path and loosen all restraints on his carnal desires. Were he to act otherwise, he would be regarded as backward and ignorant.
Anyone who possesses the slightest amount of insight, and judges the matter in a disinterested and dispassionate way, will regard these short-sighted and fantastic notions as valid, however much they be decked out in philosophical and scientific sophistry.
A man with a religious worldview regards the world as an orderly system possessing consciousness, will, perception and aim. The supreme justice-dispensing intelligence of God rules over the universe and every particle of being and watches over all actions and deeds. A religious man, therefore, feels a sense of responsibility vis-a-vis the consciousness that rules over the world, and knows that a world created and administered by God is necessarily a world of unity, harmony and good. He understands that contradiction and evil have an epiphenomenal existence and play a fundamental role in the achievement of good and the emergence of unity and harmony.
Furthermore, according to this worldview which sketches out broad horizons for man, life is not restricted to this world, and even the life of this world is not restricted to material well- being or freedom from effort and pain. The believer in religion will see the world as a path that must be traversed, as a place of testing, as an arena of effort. In it, the righteousness of men's deeds is tested. At the beginning of the next life, the good and the evil in the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of men will be measured in the most accurate of balances. God's justice will be revealed in its true aspect, and whatever deprivation man may have suffered in this world, whether material or otherwise, it will be made up to him.
In the light of his destiny that awaits man, and given the essential nullity of the goods of the material world, man orients his conscious striving exclusively to God. His aim becomes to live for Him and to die for Him. The vicissitudes of this world no longer claim his attention. He sees ephemeral things for what they are, and he allows nothing to seduce his heart. For he knows that the forces of seduction would cause his humanity to wither and draw him down into the whirlpool of materialistic misguidance.
In conclusion, we would add that even apart from the question of receptivity, the existence of difference in the world does not imply injustice. Oppression and injustice mean that someone is subjected to discrimination although he has a claim equal to that of someone else. But beings do not have any "claim" on God nor did they ever, so if some things enjoy superiority over others this cannot count as injustice.
We have nothing of ourselves: each breath and each heartbeat, each thought and idea that passes through our mind, are taken from a stock that we do not own and have done nothing to build up. That stock is a gift from God, bestowed on us at the moment of birth.
Once we understand that whatever we have is nothing but a divine gift, it will become apparent that the differences among the gifts He gives men are based on His wisdom but have nothing to do with either justice or injustice, because there was no question of any merit or claim on our part.
This finite and temporary life is a gift to us, a present from the Creator. He has absolute discretion in deciding the type and quantity of the gift that He gives, and we have no claim upon Him. We have, therefore, no right to object even if the gift given us quite free of charge appears slight and inconsequential.
- Kifayat al-Muwahhidin, I, p.442.
- Nahj al-Balaghah, ed., Subhi Salh, p. 493.