Short Answer: God made it man’s choice whether to obey His commandments or to challenge them. Out of His infinite Mercy God has sent His prophets to guide humans along the right path. Allah created the world with all its variegated bounties and put man in charge. And Guidance is given through the Prophets and Books. But humans, except for those who follow His Guidance, have made a mess of it.
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It is natural that we have doubts and raise questions about almost everything in life, not least about matters concerning God, His prophets and the spiritual aspects of existence.
As Muslims we need to constantly return to the Noble Quran and draw upon its Guidance to find answers to the eternal questions that haunt our minds from time to time.
And the Quran’s answers are not always directly and explicitly enunciated to quell all doubts.
Indeed the Light of Wisdom shines into the mystery when we ponder over its verses prayerfully and with faith in them as Allah’s revelation:
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, verily, you would have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.” (Quran 59:21)
He also says:
“Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed messages for all who are endowed with insight..” (Quran 3:190)
These are only two of a number of verses that urge the reader of the Quran to reflect on the Signs – or the ayaat of Allah meaning the multifarious phenomena of nature pervading the whole of creation.
Significantly, the word, ayaat also stands for the verses of the Quran. And those endowed with insight understand this and reflect upon the Signs of Allah in the Quran – namely its verses as well as the phenomena of nature and the universe.
From the Quranic point of view, man is not merely the best of Allah’s creation; he is also Allah’s vicegerent or ambassador on earth. Allah created everything on earth for man:
“He it is who has created for you all that is on earth..” (Quran 2:29)
Allah gave man a status greater than even the angels. (See Quran 2:34) And He honored him with reason, imagination, memory and all other faculties that constitute his creative genius.
All these faculties would be utterly useless, if man is not given the freedom to use them.
So Allah created man as a free being. Thus, it is that man becomes fully qualified to be Allah’s ambassador on earth.
Consequences of Freedom
The corollary of the freedom of man is that he is able to defy his own Creator.
God made it man’s choice whether to obey His commandments or to challenge them. Out of His infinite Mercy God has sent His prophets to guide humans along the right path.
But it is a human privilege to accept that Guidance or to reject it.
You have written: “It would have been so simple, if when He sent Adam down He sent him with one book, with one religion and that was the only book on religion that could ever have been there!”
If that were the case, man is denied a choice: he has to willy-nilly choose that one religion.
Man becomes then an automaton who is programmed to follow that one religion.
But man is far greater and nobler potentially.
And when he makes the right choice and does the right thing out of a willful and conscious choice, he uses his creative talent. Thus, he rises above the animal to be really human.
Why Evil on Earth?
The other side of this choice is the human tendency to choose evil.
As long as humans are on earth, Allah does not forcefully prevent this.
One may ask: “why does Allah allow all this turmoil and confusion, instead of making it all simple?”
The answer is that Allah has decreed it as a test for man. It is true that Allah is All-Powerful; but He does not impose that Power on man by taking back the freedom He gave him until the Last Day.
Allah created the world with all its variegated bounties and put man in charge. And Guidance is given through the Prophets and Books. But humans, except for those who follow His Guidance, have made a mess of it.
Actually it is man who is the author of all this confusion, and not Allah.
But of course, one may say Allah is behind all this, as He is the Creator and Sustainer. But we should realize that it is because Allah has given us freedom that we are questioning Him, for giving us the freedom to create all the turmoil!
But in the End, there is a Day of Judgment when we will realize who did wrong and who did right.
Leap of Faith?
You ask: “Allah…asks us, these stupid beings to take a leap of faith and trust that Islam is the one religion and Allah is the true god, isn’t it unfair?”
The truth is that if we humans are in our right minds, there is no question of a leap of faith; rather we can see that Islam is the Natural Religion as well as the Straight Path towards the One and Only God.
The Religion of Islam – or the Way of Allah – is revealed to man from his very beginning on earth.
But concomitantly with the progress of mankind through history, the interpretation and practice of religion have undergone changes; and Allah sent down His prophets to correct the deviations and distortions.
All the same, followers of some of these prophets after their death obstinately continued in their own devious interpretations which were apparently at variance with the original religion, Islam.
That is how different “religions” evolved out of the one Religion of Allah Almighty.
But the true Religion, Islam, stands out clearly in this turmoil and is evident to every true seeker of truth.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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