In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Allah's Mysteries in His creatures:
1- Guiding the animal to its food and drink instinctively:
I would like to start our lesson with referring to Allah’s Mysteries in animals. The animal is controlled by a set of innate impulses and instincts; Allah the Almighty has created in it a motive for eating food which is hunger, and a motive for reproduction which is sex. Because the animal was not charged with any mission by Almighty Allah, these motives and instincts were made under control for the animal’s benefit. For example, the animal rarely gets sick, because it never eats more than what it needs. Also, the animal instinctively drinks water by sucking it not quaffing it. Allah the Almighty says:
"Fir'aun (Pharaoh) said: "Who then, O Musa (Moses), is the Lord of you two?" * [Musa (Moses)] said: "Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright."
Westerners called it instinct, while Allah the Almighty calls it ' guidance.' The animal does many complicated actions without being taught what to. It acts instinctively and spontaneously because Allah created in it motives and instincts which are called in Islam: 'Allah's Guidance'. This guidance is manifested in male inclination towards the female; its instinct to satisfy its sexual desire is active in specific periods of time. Reproduction should be limited to particular seasons, so that the animal does not cause harm to its own species as the kind and quantity of food available is limited.
Examples of how the instincts of the animal are controlled:
Someone was invited once to a banquet in one of Damascus alleys. The food was made of pumpkin, and he ate until he satisfied his appetite. The people who invited him asked him to eat more and more for their sake, so he ate until he became uncomfortably full. While he was riding his animal, it stopped to drink some water. The animal drank until it satisfied its appetite, so when he asked it to drink more for his sake it refused. Thereupon he said: “You are more rational that me!”
Thus, the animal's instinct is limited in terms of sex, food and drink; i.e. it is controlled for its benefit. For example, when the animal gets sick, it stops eating and drinking instinctively, and Allah the Almighty guides it to eat a special herb in order to cure itself. Once, a man watched a sick cat and saw how that cat went to the bank of a river and ate a special remedial herb. Hence, the animal has many innate motives and instincts which are disciplined instinctively for its benefit.
2- Allah has honored man by granting him free will and the mind:
On the other hand, man is an honored creature; he has motives which psychologists call: the needs. He has the need for food, drink, sex, reproduction, movement and feeling important. The need for moving is most appreciated by those whose movement is restricted. Unlike the animal man’s needs and motives are not restricted instinctively, because Allah the Almighty has honored him by granting him the free will and the reason. According to Allah's Deep Wisdom, theses motives, instincts and inclinations are not restricted, so man can eat whenever he wants, and he can have sex in all months of the year not only in specific months like some animals. Therefore, practicing self-disciplining concerning one’s desires and instincts should be out of conviction and free will. Herein lies the critical situation of man.
Allah has inflicted Man with desires and has given him means to control them:
The animal spends its life in tranquility, peace and safety, because its instincts are controlled instinctively, while man's lusts, desires and inclinations have no limits. For example, when a wild animal gets hungry, it eats its prey, and it never preys on other animals once it is sated. Unlike the animal, man's hunger for money can never be satisfied. Also, when he is addicted to sex, he may commit suicide. Furthermore, his obsession with lusts, his love for collecting money, and his love for superiority may lead him to build his wealth at the expense of sh3er' poverty. Man may act in such a way, because his desires are not disciplined instinctively, as Allah the Almighty has charged him with the task of controlling his lusts and granted him the means to do that; these means are represented by sound thinking and free will, which some scholars call: the power of free will. This is what made the Islamic creed extremely critical; the conviction, the understanding, and the creed are the motives which direct man’s energies, desires and behavior. Actually, when these concepts are applied correctly, man’s behavior will be healthy, but if they are applied wrongly, man’s behavior will be unhealthy. Before elaborating this point, let me ask you this question: who are you, O man? You are a set of concepts, so if these concepts are sound, you will live peacefully in the worldly life and be happy for eternity in Paradise.
The emergence of concepts in man’s life:
1- The child's perception evolves from perceiving tangible things to abstract ones:
In his early childhood stages, the little child thinks that all females are his mum, and that all males are his dad. As he grows up, he starts to distinguish between his mother and other females, and between his father and other males. Thus, he calls whoever is not his mother aunt, and whoever is not his father uncle. Later on, he begins to grasp the concept of the woman as a living creature who has certain characteristics, and she differs from his mother, his maternal aunt, his paternal aunt and his neighbor…etc. At this particular stage the child starts to distinguish things. For instance, he knows the man, the woman, the tree...etc. This stage is called: the evolutionary process of child’s perception; he moves from perceiving tangible things to abstract ones.
2- The formulation of a concept in the mind of the child:
The early stage of childhood maturity is manifested in the ability of the child to deal with concepts. Then, he starts to perceive complex concepts. For example, he knows that fire burns after having burnt his finger. The burning experience enables him to understand the concept that fire produces heat, and it burns no matter if he sees a flame, an ember or a stove. Consequently, he will keep away from fire, whenever he sees it. Also, if he is very hungry, but is told that a meal is poisoned, he will never eat it, because he understands that the poison is deadly. Million of concepts will be stored in the child’s mind, such as the iron is solid, the fire burns, the scorpion stings, some animals are pets...etc. In brief, the child first uses his senses to distinguish things around him, and then he begins to perceive these things and form concepts of them. The part which is responsible for perceiving process is the mind; Allah the Almighty says:
"Have they not travelled through the land, and have they hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind."
Examples of how the concepts are formed:
If a huge snake passes by a little child who is only one year and a half, he will not be afraid of it as he does not understand what a snake is. In other words, the concept of a snake has not been structured in his mind yet. However, when he grows up and learns at school that the snake is a reptilian animal and its bite is fatal. If he sees it at a zoo or in a bottle, it will come to his mind that the snake belongs to the reptile species and that its bite is fatal. As a result, whenever he sees a snake, he will immediately scream and run away from it, because he understands the concept of the snake. Hence, this concept determines his behavior and reaction. I cannot believe that a rational person will remain motionless when he sees a snake, because he has a clear concept that this animal is dangerous and its bite is lethal, so he will either kill it or run away from it. Whatever his reaction is, he will be quite disturbed when he sees such an animal, because the concept of the snake has been formed in his mind..
The believer is privileged by his sound creed and vision:
The usurer claims that money should increase. Therefore he lends sh3er money and takes interest. The concept of usury controls his behavior. On the other hand, the believer believes that all the wealth belongs to Allah and that after death he will be held accountable for his deeds, so there is either eternal happiness in Paradise or eternal misery in the Hellfire. Therefore, he obeys Allah the Almighty. I assure you that the actions of all human beings whether good or bad and whether it is to their advantages or not are based on concepts, so if we can correct these concepts, we will enter Paradise.
You, as human beings are motivated by a concept which we call a creed; when this concept becomes deep rooted and close to vision, it will turn into a creed. When this creed is sound, man's deeds are good, and so he will be pleased in the worldly life and in the Hereafter. Hence, the most critical thing in your life is your creed. For example, the misdeeds of the usurer, whoever allows himself to commit sins and whoever violates sh3er’ honor are based on wrong concepts, which came to him from a misleading person. In contrast with such people, whoever believes that there is Allah the Most Great Who has power over everything and Who created man in this worldly life in order to please him for eternity in Paradise, will control his behavior. We can conclude that the only difference between the believer and the disbeliever is that the believer has correct beliefs, while the disbeliever has a set of wrong concepts.
The Islamic creed is successful as it focuses on man’s situation:
Pondering over the Islamic creed, means that we study attentively the motives of our actions. For example, the one who cheats other is motivated by the concept that because he has children (he has to earn money even illegally in order to satisfy their needs,) all people cheat, cheating becomes normal among sh3er and the otherwise makes life difficult. Such a person is motivated by wrong concepts; they are but assumptions and false ideas. The true believer, on the other hand, knows for sure that there is Allah the Most Great Who is Omniscient, so if he adheres to Allah's Order while dealing with people, Allah will bestow His Bless on his health, family, situation, worldly affairs, old age, death and Paradise. Thus, whenever you meet a heedless person, be sure that he has false concepts, and whenever you meet a righteous person, be sure he has a sound creed. This indicates that being upright upon the Straight Path is based on having a sound creed. Let's consider the Noble Ayah below in which Allah the Almighty says:
"And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform As-Salat (IqamatasSalat), and give Zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah wishes only to remove ArRijs (evil deeds and sins, etc.) from you, O members of the family (of the Prophet PBUH), and to purify you with a thorough purification."
Man's moves are influenced by his creed:
"And stay in your houses" indicates that Almighty Allah orders women to stay in their houses (except it is necessary to go out,) because they are dignified; the verb 'Qarna' ( stay) is derived from the noun 'Waqar' (dignity.) Notice how important the creed is in our daily life as it motivates our behavior. For instance, when you are convinced that you should take care of your health, you will exert effort to keep healthy. Another person mistakenly thinks that relaxing all the time, keeps him healthy. He never makes any effort, so he will be astonished when he discovers that he suffers from heart or arteries diseases. When does he discover that? When it is too late. Unlike this person, whoever has right concepts knows that keeping his heart healthy requires exerting effort, moving, walking, playing sports and exerting energy. He keeps his heart safe, because he has right concepts based on his knowledge. It was said that "Man's bitterest enemy is ignorance," so your bitterest enemy is ignorance or having misconceptions whether they are related to your health or to your social relations.
Consider the example of a grocer who gives the buyer extra 25 liras by mistake. If the buyer remains silent and takes these liras thinking that it is an act of cleverness, then he has a false concept, while the true believer will give back the money to the grocer even if this makes him drive the distance of 30 km. He does not accept to take money that is not his, because he believes that Allah the Almighty never overlooks nor sleeps. He knows that Allah watches all his moves, accounts, actions and deeds.
Let us take another example: someone thinks that sleeping until 9 o'clock is something precious, whereas, the believer has the concept that life is short, so he believes that the hour of Fajr is incomparable. Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, may Allah have peace and blessings upon him, said:
(("If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in congregational prayers) and found no other way to get that except by drawing lots they would draw lots, and if they knew the reward of the Zuhr prayer (in the early moments of its stated time) they would race for it (go early) and if they knew the reward of 'Isha' and Fajr (morning) prayers in congregation, they would come to offer them even if they had to crawl."))
Even if he gets up late for prayer, he will pulls up the quilt, arises from his bed and hurries up to perform Salah. He applies the following Ayah in which Allah the Almighty says:
"Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend (charity in Allah's Cause) out of what We have bestowed on them."
If a person likes to sleep, and he misses Al-Fajr prayer, he considers whoever wakes up early crazy, whereas, the one who likes to meet Allah the Almighty in Al-Fajr Prayer, to get closer to Him and to stand between His Hands invocating Him in this blessed time, considers the people who are asleep at this blessed time fool. Why does the former prefer to keep asleep? Because he has a false concept (that sleep is precious,) while the latter wakes up to pray because his action is based on a right concept.
Man's happiness and misery are determined by his beliefs:
If all the concepts we have were correct, our lives would be trouble free. Why does someone hate sh3er out of envy and grudge? Because such a person has false concepts. The true believer does not hurt other people, because he believes that Allah Alone has Absolute Power over everything, and that His Hand is above everyone’s hand. He believes that Allah is Just, so he is convinced that he is the one to blame if he allows other people to hurt him. The believer never grudges anyone because he is pretty sure that everything happens according to the Absolute Divine Justice and according to the Absolute Mercy, Kindness, Awareness and Knowledge. In this foreword, I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that whoever has a sound creed will be always be happy, but whoever has false or wrong creed, his life will be of hardship.
Examples of how false concepts cause false insight:
A heedless man may say to you that Allah has not guided him yet, so when Allah guides him he will pray. Actually, this is a seriously wrong creed, because Allah the Almighty has guided him, but he has to act upon His Order.
It is also a false concept to believe that the obedient will be punished because of the sins of the disobedient, as Allah the Almighty says:
"Whoever goes right, then he goes right only for the benefit of his ownself. And whoever goes astray, then he goes astray to his own loss. No one laden with burdens can bear another's burden. And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning)."
Moreover, it is nonsense to say that a man was guided because a Wali (righteous man) gazed at him. This is a lie because Allah the Almighty says:
"Verily! You (O Muhammad PBUH) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided."
Furthermore, it is nonsense to believe a fortune-teller who tells you that you will gain a considerable amount of money, or you have an enemy who awaits you…etc, because Allah the Almighty says:
"Say (O Muhammad PBUH): "I don't tell you that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor (that) I know the unseen; nor I tell you that I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me by inspiration." Say: "Are the blind and the one who sees equal? will you not then take thought?"
Thus, no one knows the unseen except Allah. When man reauthors the Noble Qur'an, he will have right concepts.
Never ever believe whoever tells you that he sees the jinns, because Allah the Almighty says:
"O Children of Adam! Let not Shaitan (Satan) deceive you, as he got your parents [Adam and Hawwa (Eve)] out of Paradise, stripping them of their raiments, to show them their private parts. Verily, he and Qabiluhu (his soldiers from the jinns or his tribe) see you from where you cannot see them. Verily, We made the Shayatin (devils) Auliya' (protectors and helpers) for those who believe not."
This matter is crystal clear; the jinns see us but we cannot see them. Whoever claims that he saw a jinn is a liar. Therefore, we are all required to seek the sound creed, as it was said: "This knowledge is a matter of Deen, so be careful who you take your deen from,", and as it was mentioned in the relic: ((O Ibn ‘Umar! Your din is your faith. Indeed it is but your flesh and blood (it is your life). Therefore, you should be very careful about whom you are receiving it from. Receive it from the pious and the steadfast and do not take it from those who are leaning astray.))
Lack of sound creed is the very reason of non-Muslims’ misery:
In some Western societies, you find people in dire need of a creed, because they lack them. A western person has no creed; he does not distinguish between the forbidden things and the permissible ones, nor does he have any value. He does whatever he wants, and he knows no limits in fulfilling his desires. As a result, he feels lost, and the concept of pleasure turns into a concept of pain. When man has no restrictions for satisfying his wishes, he will be miserable and find his life absurd. The Western world (non-Muslim) eventually realized that it needs a creed badly. There is an overwhelming melancholic atmosphere in its countries, because they have no objectives in their lives. For instance, the mother may have five children, but no one cares for her. She waits for Mother’s Day in order to get a greeting card from one of her children (who abandoned her.) The inevitable fate of the society which lacks a creed is destruction.
The sources of the creed:
1- The physical sense:
I referred earlier in this lecture that the world around us is sensory, and that we perceive it by our senses; we see the sun with our eyes, we hear sounds with our ears, we smell the flowers with our nose, …etc. Our senses transfer to us constantly what happens in the outside world. After that, this perception turns into a concept, and when this concept becomes deep-rooted it turns into a creed. Hence, the first source of the creed is the material sensations. We believe that fire burns, water is a liquid…etc, so through the daily process of man’s sensation, many material beliefs are formed.
2- The deductive evidence:
The deductive way is to know the effect by its cause, as a Bedouin said: "The droppings tell of a camel, the foot-prints tell of a traveler, the sky, the earth with mountain passes, seas with waves -do they not tell of the All-Hearer, the All-Seer?"
Comparing between the sizes of two electronic devices does not need a proof, because it is axiomatic to know which is the bigger and which is the smaller. Axiomatic facts need no evidence as they are self-evident. However, when it comes to believing in the unseen, things are totally different. Allah the Almighty says:
"Alif-Lam-Mim. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Quran and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings].* This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun [the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]. * Who believe in the Ghaib and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and spend out of what we have provided for them [i.e. give Zakat, spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, etc., and also give charity to the poor and also in Allah's Cause - Jihad, etc.]."
When you turn on the fan, you know for sure that there is an electric energy in the electric wires, and the proof can be noticed by the rotation of the fan. Also, you know for sure that there is an electric energy in the wires which enables the light to give light when it is turned on. Furthermore, you know that there is a battery in a tape recorder when it works without electricity. There are many facts in our daily life which we are pretty sure of since we learn about them by deduction. In other words, there are many things that we perceive with our senses by their material effects.
3- The Unseen is only known through Qur'an and Sunnah:
When something can never be perceived by our senses, nor can we deduce its effects, there is only one way to know about it; it is the true Revelation (the Noble Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, may Allah have peace and blessings upon him.) Thus, there are three ways one can depend on to have a sound creed:
1- The five senses, and what results from them: realization, concept and belief.
2- The intellectual deduction, which is as sound and rigorous as the sensory way.
3- The true Revelation, which is the only way when something cannot be perceived nor can its effects be deduced.
In brief, the sensory perception, the intellectual deduction, and believing the true Revelation, compose a set of concepts, which turn by repetition, practice, and trials into beliefs, or we may say logical conclusions. Allah the Almighty says:
"Have they not travelled through the land, and have they hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind."
The thinking process in man’s mind:
By the sense of sight, you see the images, while perception is related to cogitation. For instance, you perceive the image of the snake, but you do not realize how dangerous it is unless you are bitten by it and have an awful experience with this poisonous animal. Unlike the senses which have to do with images, and perception which has to do with cognition, the mind gives you an experience or a vision. It is a kind of doubtless knowledge. When something remains in your sense, this means that it has been seen with the eye, but when it reaches the mind, it means that it has been perceived by it. Hence, the eye sees it, the mind perceives it and the heart comprehends it, which is the highest level of perception. In this way, we will have a set of concepts.
The levels of perception:
The set of beliefs can be classified into three levels:
1- The level of certainty.
2- The level of probability.
3- The level of doubt.
This means that there are things which are doubtful, things which are more likely correct and things which are definitely true. For example, when Allah the Almighty says:
"Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maytatah (the dead animals - cattle-beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine, and the meat of that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for sh3er than Allah, or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., or on which Allah's Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering, and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by the goring of horns - and that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal - unless you are able to slaughter it (before its death) - and that which is sacrificed (slaughtered) on An-Nusub (stone altars). (Forbidden) also is to use arrows seeking luck or decision, (all) that is Fisqun (disobedience of Allah and sin). This day, those who disbelieved have given up all hope of your religion, so fear them not, but fear Me. This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But as for him who is forced by severe hunger, with no inclination to sin (such can eat these above-mentioned meats), then surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
This Ayah is an explicit, entirely clear, precise and irrefutable text (this Noble Ayah clearly prohibits eating the dead animal, the blood…etc.) On the other hand, there are some controversial Fiqhi issues (related to Islamic law), such as questioning the birth control whether it is permissible or not. Some scholars said that it is permissible, while other ones said it is not, so the Fiqhi rule on this matter is not decisive. However, there are decisive issues that one should never believe in. For example, when someone tells you that he sees the jinns, a or if another one asks you to write certain words on a paper, then put it in a glass of water and drink it, so that you will understand the book you study and will get a full mark, then this is superstitions. Also, someone may ask you to wear an amulet in order to understand the book of physics depending on yourself…etc. To wrap up, things are either superstitions, probably true or absolutely true.
Next lesson, insha-Allah, we will go on with the subject of the creed, but we will be tackling it in reference to the Revelation; i.e. how could we makes sure that something has come to us from Revelation? What is the standard of its soundness? We should question these points, because we build large sets of our beliefs on the right concepts which come to us from the Noble Qur'an or from the Sunnah of the Prophet, may Allah have peace and blessings upon him. There are two parts concerning the Islamic creed; the checking up part, through which one cane negate all false traditions, and the believing part. Allah the Almighty says:
"Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day"
So, reflection means verification and believing.