Q1: On Nature and God

What is the difference between nature and God? If we sow a seed then tree of that particular seed grows. Then what did the God do in that case? Similarly, in the case of rain. We know the procedure of rain. Then what's the work of God?

A: When you take a car (in perfect condition), put in petrol and switch the engine on, it starts running. Then what did the Ford or Nissan or Mitsubishi company do in this case? You know die process how the said engine works, then what's the work of its manufacturer?

Q2: CAN ALLAH MAKE HIMSELF VISIBLE?

Allah was never seen and never will be seen. Also we know that Allah (s.w.t.) can do each and everything. Now can He make himself visble?

A: You must have done by now your Form IV, Insha-Allah.

I suppose one of your subjects was Mathematics. Now can you add 2 and 2 to make them into 5? No? Why not? Dont you know how to add? You will say that "I cant make 2 + 2 into 5, not because I do not know how to add, but because the numbers 2 + 2 are inherently incapable to give the result 5." Your expertise of Mathematics does not extend to impossible ideas.

Likewise, when we say that Allah can do each and every thing, we are talking about the things which are possible-not the impossible ideas. And His being seen is simply impossible.

Q.3: INHERENT GOOD AND EVIL:

The Asha'irah say that nothing is good or bad in iteself. Only what Allah has ordered us to do is good and what He has forbidden is bad. My question, according to the Shi'ahs, what is the basis of our creed in questioning the clear commands of Allah? Please if you could clarify this for me and provide me some examples, if possible.

A: Far be it from us that we should question the commands of Allah.

What we say is that there is real merit or demerit in many courses of actions, and our nature or intellect may lead us to know that merit or demerit in many cases. Although it is not necessary that we should know that merit or demerit in all cases.

For example, human nature makes us believe that justice is good and injustice is bad; truth is good and falsehood is bad, and so on. And it is because of that inherent merit that Allah commands us to do a certain deed, and because of that inherent demerit that He forbids us another work.

But the Ash'arites reject the above statement. According to them no merit or demerit is inherent in any thing or action. All are equally blank. When God orders something it becames good; when He forbids, it becomes bad.

In short, we say: God has ordered us to do it, because it is good. Ash'arites say: It has become good because God has ordered it. They elaborate it in this way: "It would be perfectly O.K. if Allah were to send all prophets to the hell, and the Satan to the paradise. Of course it would be injustice, but there is no inherent evil in injustice, and if Allah commits injustice, it will become a meritorious act."

Q.4: ISLAMIC VIEW ON PREDESTINATION:

What in your opinion is the Islamic view or philosophy on an individual's destiny?

? Is there anything like destiny?

? If there is, then by doing right can this destiny be changed?

? Does this then not give no meaning to the word "Destiny"?

A: I am sending you by air mail a book of mine, Justice of God, which will make this topic clear.

Q.5: WHY HINDUISTIC BELIEF?

The verse 19 of the ch.43 says:

And they make into females angels who themselves serve Allah. Did they witness their creation?

Their evidence will be recorded, and they will be called to account! This verse is similar to the Hindu religious belief that their devtas were served by apsaras. How does the Qur'an have a similar episode as per this verse?

A: The verse describes and refutes the polytheists' belief that the angels were females. What is your objection against this rebuttal. Or are you perturbed by the phrase, "who themselves serve Allah"? If so, then the trouble is again with your translation.- The correct translation is "who are the servants (or more correctly, slaves) of Allah", just as human beings and jinns are the servants (or slaves) of Allah. So why worry?

Q. 6: THE LIGHT OF THE PROPHET:

What is the implication of the Prophet's (s.a.w.) tradition which states: The first thing God created was my 'Light', and I and Ali are created from one Light?

A: The tradition is accepted by the traditionalists of both sects -Shi'a and Sunni. The Prophet's Light adorned the 'Arsh of Allah. When Adam (a.s.) was created, that Light was put in his forehead.

It continued its journey, generation after generation, through numerous Prophets and their successors, passing through the Prophets Ibrahim (a.s.) and Isma'il (a.s.), until it reached 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib. At that stage it was divided in two parts, one going to 'Abdullah and the other to Abu Talib. From 'Abdullah was born our Prophet (s.a.w.) and from Abu Talib was born 'Ali (a.s.).

The implication is clear: In the absence of the Prophet (s.a.w.) 'Ali (a.s.) fills his place and has all the authorities the Prophet (s.a.w.) had except the Prophethood and what is related to the Prophethood (like revelation concerning shari'ah).

Q. 7: WHICH SHARI'AH THE PROPHET FOLLOWED BEFORE BI'THAH?

What the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) practised, before being given the Nubuwwah, by way of meditation or other Islamic practices? For example, did he fast during Ramadhan, give alms etc.?

We believe that Islam is a progression from Judaism and Christianity. Was the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) obliged to follow their scriptures (undistorted, of course) until he received the divine revelation? Perhaps you could enlighten me on this.

A: The Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) had two prophet sons: Isma'il and Ishaq. From Ishaq came Ya'qub (called Israel = Slave of God = 'Abdullah). There came hundreds of prophets among the children of Israel (Banu Israel) - At least 12 of them are mentioned by name in the Qur'an, including Musa and 'Isa.

The simple shari'ah brought by Ibrahim (a.s.) was followed by both branches of his progeny, until the Prophet Musa (a.s.) was given the Torah, which remained in force for Israelis until the Prophet 'Isa (a.s.) made some minor changes in it. That amended shari'ah remained valid until the advent of Islam.

This concerned the Banu Israel. As for Banu Isma'il the same Ibrahimi shari'ah remained in force among them till the bi'thah of our beloved Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The progeny of Isma'il (a.s.) was never devoid of one or the other wasii (successor) of Isma'il - either openly or in taqiyah. According to our accepted traditions, 'Abdu'l-Muttalib was a hujjat of Allah who was succeeded in that office by Abu Talib. Abu Talib delivered the divine trust to our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

Now you will understand that our Prophet (s.a.w.) was never expected or required to follow any law or rule of the Judaism or the Christianity. Upto 40 years, i.e. before he was ordered to declare his prophethood, he faithfully followed the Ibrahimi shari'ah, which was extremely simple. On his own, he began yearly meditation (3 months continuously) which was initiated by 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib and the fast of the month of Ramadhan. This continued till he got the call to announce his prophetic mission.

Islam is NOT a progression of Judaism and Christianity - if the word, "progression" creates before your eyes the image of a branch sprouting from a trunk. The actuality is as follows:

Allah had been sending prophets and messengers with progressively developed systems of law, keeping in view the intellectual, moral and social developments of humanity at the relevant time. And in this way every subsequent shari'ah was a 'progression" of the preceding one. That's all.

Q. 8: DID THE PROPHET KNOW HOW TO READ & WRITE?

Did the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) know how to read and write? Please provide a detailed answer from the Qur'an, hadith and history.

A: It is accepted by one and all that before the revelation of the Qur'an, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) could not write with his own hand nor could he read anything written by others. Allah had arranged it in this way, so that his adversaries could find no cause to doubt the truth of his claim. Allah says:

"And you did not recite any book before it (the Our'an) nor did you transcribe one with your right hand: for then would have doubted those who utter falsehood." (29:48).

This letter is not the place to give full explanation of this verse; but it should be kept in mind that it describes the condition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) "before the Qur'an", i.e. before declaration of the prophethood.

In other words, he did not know reading and writing before the advent of his prophethood; and it was so, in order that the Meccans could not say that he had collected those truths from previous books, and the Jews and the Christians could not say that one of the epithets of the Last Prophet, given in their books, was 'ummi. which they interpreted as uneducated, illiterate.

The word "Ummi" has been used for the Holv Prophet, (s.a.w.) in verses 157 and 158 of ch.7 (al-A'raf.) v.157 begins with these words:

"Those who follow the Messenger, Prophet the, Ummi, whom they find written (in the books) with them, in the torah and the Injil..."

The dictionary gives the following meanings for this word (ummi): "maternal, motherly, illiterate, uneducated."

Tafsir Shubbar says: Ummi: The one belonging to Ummu l-qura (Mecca); the one who does not read or write.

Mir Ahmad Ali says:

"The word 'Ummi' gives several meanings: one born of a mother, i.e., the unlettered; a citizen of Mecca which was called Ummul-Qura, i.e. the mother city."

(Then after 3 pages, he says); "Ummi has generally been translated as one who does not know to read or write; but it actually means a person who remained as born of his mother and did not undergo any education or training from any mortal - the usual result of it is illiteracy.....The prophets were Ummi in this sense, but they were taught by God through Divine agencies."

You have been told above that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a). did not read or write before the announcement of his prophethood. But after the advent of revelation, he is mentioned in the Qur'an as:

"(The) Messenger from Allah reading out unto them the Purified Scriptures." (98:2) The simple fact is that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was not taught by any human being, and from this point of view he was Ummi. But he was taught by Allah, until he became the City of knowledge.

The history has recorded an episode which clearly shows that he could read and write. It happened 19 years after receiving the first revelation.. .in the year 6 of hijrah at the time when the peace of Hudaybiyah was concluded and the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) began dictating the document of the peace:

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) called 'Ali and said: Write: Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.

Suhayl (the Meccans' envoy) said: We do not know it; rather you write: Bismika Allahumma. So, he wrote it. Then the Prophet said: Write: This is what has been agreed upon between Muhammad the Messenger of Allah and Suhayl ibn 'Amr.

Suhayl said: Had we recognised that you were the Messenger of Allah we would not have faught you; you should rather write your name with your father's name. The Messenger of Allah said to 'Ali Erase (the word,) Messenger of Allah.

He said: I won't erase it ever. Then the Messenger of Allah took the paper and erasing (the word) Messenger of Allah, wrote in its place, Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah. And he said to 'Ali: At one time you too will have to face a similar situation." (Ibn al-Athir al-Jazari, Tarikh al-Kamil vol.2 p. 77). This event may be seen in the following books (among others):-

  1. Jamaluddin Muhaddith, Rawzatul Ahbctb, vol.1, p.356
  2. Mulla Mu'in, Ma'arijun Nubuwwat, vol.2, p. 191
  3. Husain Diyarbakri, Tarikh al-Khamis vol.2, p.23

  4. Muhammad ibn Khawand Shah, Rawzatns Safa, vol.2, p.366

  5. Imam Nasa'i, al-Khasa'is p. 160

Q.9: SOME ESPECIAL RULES FOR THE PROPHET:

Is it correct that there were some rules which were applicable especially to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)? If yes, then what were those rules?

A: Yes, There were about fifteen especialities meant for the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) only. Some were on the subject of marriage, some about other responsibilties and a few were related to some miracles of his physique.

As for his physique, while spleeping, it was his eyes that slept, but his heart remained awake; and he could see behind him as he looked in front.

As concerning marriage, he was allowed to marry in excess of four [and it was because he was sure to deal with all his wives with justice]; if a woman gifted herself to him, that wording constituted marriage and he was not required to give any "mahr" to her;

he was commanded by Allah to give all his wives a right to choose whether they wanted to remain with him or wished to separate from him; also he had been allowed upto a certain period to divorce a wife and marry another in her place; he was not allowed to marry a slave-girl (while Muslims have this choice); and no one was allowed to marry his widows.

As for other matters, he was obligated to brush his teeth before wudhu, to sacrifice an animal during hajj season and to pray tahajjud and salatu 'l-watr at night (These are sunnat for his ummah); and wajibu sadaqah was haram for him, as was winking towards someone, (These are not so for the Muslims); and he was allowed to keep fast continuously for two or more days without breaking the fast at night (while it is haram for his ummah).