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Why Does God Require Faith From Us?

25 October, 2016
Q Why do people like Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, Hawking, Krauss, and others, make so much sense?*Why does God require faith from us? What is faith, anyway? Is it believing in someone's word when you can't verify for yourself? All scientists have that faith. But *very few* things on Earth are hard to verify, and when they are, they are for a very brief time after their conception. They are scrutinized very soon after. Or is 'faith' believing in a word that conflicts with what your eyes and 'divine gift' of mind and reason make apparent? To be up front, I don't fully agree with hard materialism. But... Why is there NO signs whatsoever so far as to what in God's name we're here to do in this world? What are we doing on Earth? You'll give me a lot of rehashed reasons: Like, we're here to help each other; well, if we weren't here, then... . Or we're here to procreate and live in God's universe (which until recently was only God's 'Earth', just one) until Judgment Day; why? Or, we don't know and we can't know but we'll get closer to the answer as we mature as a species; there are NO threads to latch onto that support that last 'reason'; how could we get closer to something that's never been seen or defined?How 'universal' is Islam? How could it be, if to even begin to understand it, one has to know CA, a language not spoken from olden times? Are women really half as reasonable/sapient/moral as men? OK, maybe the entertainment industry in the West validates this to a degree, but its men that are looking at all that p*, asking for 'fan service', and 'enjoying beauty'. Granted, many females in this day strive for sexualized appearances and behavior, but it's the culture that's promoting this, it's not an innate nature. Bring up a hundred dozen men in a strictly 'loose' small society (as an experiment, perhaps), maybe also promoting homosexuality there, and you'll get a hundred dozen *disgustingly effeminate in modern day sense* 'men'. Why does God require blind faith? And if it's not the blind variety that is required, then how come all of humanity isn't worshiping Him? If there's undeniable evidence in this material world that points to Him, why does every other evidence and way of reason say that such evidence does not and possibly cannot exist? Why can't it exist? Why were we thrown into a material universe that strongly points *away* from its Creator? Why does He want us to believe in Him only through words handed down to us by extremely unreliable human agents (we know them all too well, we're just like them)? Why send the Messages and show the miracles when no one could document them?If a miracle is an observable, understandable event/effect that falls outside the productive capacity of nature, then why not show us one? If His messengers are infallible when they act His words, why is there so much reasonable, justifiable criticism of the 'divine ethics and morality' of, say, His last messenger, the prophet of Islam? I know that this question won't be published right away, so I'll wait for the answer to the above before I can 'distill' my questions to the essentials, depending on what reply I get. Peace


Salam (Peace) Dear Tuthe,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Certainly Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins and others make a lot of sense, particularly to the materialists who refuse to accept the spiritual dimension of human life. The dictionary defines materialism as:

  1. The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.
  2. The theory or attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life, ( )

In other words, materialists argue that only matter exists. They deny the existence of mind, will, self and soul, as they are not made of matter.  And matter is something that is perceptible to our five senses; it requires space and is measurable.

As God is not perceptible to our five senses, the materialists believe that He does not exist. So faith in God has no value, and religion is mere fantasy.

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The well known proponents of materialism mentioned earlier gained their fame chiefly through their caustic criticism of religion, especially Christianity, the religion they were constantly contending with.

For instance, in one context Christopher Hitchens demolishes the Christian concept of vicarious redemption, by calling it “a positively immoral doctrine, which abolishes personal responsibility on which all morality depends.”

Here you watch marvelous rhetoric, which indeed is quite overwhelming. And I agree with his argument here. But my question is: How can Mr. Hitchens (or those who deny the existence of all things spiritual or metaphysical) speak of people’s responsibility for their actions, unless they possess a soul or at least a mind or a conscious self, which are all beyond the pale of materialism?

That is to say, if we don’t possess a will, and if one’s actions are entirely dependent on the chemistry and physics of the brain or merely on genes and the environment, how can we speak of our responsibility for a crime we commit?

The materialists deny the existence of God and soul and in the process consider humans as mere machines or at best as highly evolved animals. But think of a machine that refuses to be a machine, and an animal that strives to transcend its animal instincts: that is what man is.

Deprived of a spiritual dimension, humans can never be dreamers, poets, philosophers and even atheists! Because all the creative faculties of man such as his intellect, imagination and intuition emanate from his spirit, and not from certain “electrochemical reactions” in the brain.

Materialists usually are suspicious of faith as though we could live without it. Indeed every moment of our life we are dependent on faith in something or other. How could you read this answer enjoying (I imagine) the comfort and security of your home, if you believe that a sinkhole will swallow you up the next moment?

It has happened several times before too many persons who had no inkling of what was coming.  But you have full “faith” that such a thing will not happen to you! In fact we cannot live a moment in peace, unless we have faith in the security and safety of our environment.

One can think of the possible dangers threatening us during all our activities. But we don’t normally do it; because, we are so much ensured of our safety in this world.

If this is not faith, what is it? Just ponder over it and we realize that this faith arises from a deeper faith in God, not often recognized as such. It is not that God requires our faith – let alone blind faith – in Him: rather we need to recognize His Reality and believe in Him, for our own good.

You ask why there are no signs showing us the way to God or what we are to do here on earth; and also why we were thrown into a material universe that strongly points away from its Creator.

In fact there are numerous signs that strongly point towards the Creator. What we need are the eyes or the minds to see them: God in the Quran says what means:

{Verily, in the creation of the heavens and of the earth, and the succession of night and day: and in the ships that speed through the sea with what is useful to man: and in the waters which God sends down from the sky, giving life thereby to the earth after it had been lifeless, and causing all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon: and in the change of the winds, and the clouds that run their appointed courses between sky and earth: [in all this] there are signs indeed for people who use their reason.} (Quran 2:164)

This verse of the Quran among others, appeals to “those who use their reason” to look upon the daily wonders of nature as signs of a conscious Creative Power pervading the universe.

The rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, the change of seasons and so on are all signs for a thinking person. One may wonder how a soft and gentle blade of grass could break the dry hard soil to come out of its tiny seed so soon after a rain.

To the question why we are here on earth, you expect from us one of those old answers rehashed. No, we would rather give what God has taught us in the Quran: The earth is a testing ground for us. God not only created us; but made us the highest among His creatures, placing us even above the angels.

He has done this by giving us reason, imagination and other faculties as well as the freedom to use them creatively. It is up to man whether he uses these gifts for his welfare or otherwise. Life is a test for humans. And a test leads us to success or failure.

Those who succeed in the test will get the reward for it and those who fail will get the punishment for it. The reward is an incentive to good; and the punishment is a discouragement from doing evil. Religion helps us to temper our passions and lead a life of peace and happiness.

You ask: “How ‘universal’ is Islam? How could it be, if to even begin to understand it, one has to know CA, a language not spoken from olden times?”

Indeed for Islam to be universal, it does not require the sort of ‘universal language’ you have referred to, i.e. a language spoken and understood by all or by most people of the world. In fact the word ‘Islam’ has been used in the Quran in the sense of a din al-fitrah or religio naturalis: meaning “a natural religion”: This is the essential nature of all creation as instinctively following the laws of nature, which are really the laws of God Himself.

In this sense all beings and objects of the universe “submit” to God and are “Muslims” (those who submit to God). And this natural religion has got to be universal too, as it is based on the all-encompassing principle of the unity and transcendence of God.

It also establishes the idea that one cannot attain real peace without consciously submitting to the Ultimate Reality. And another aspect of the universality of Islam is expressed in the following verse of the Quran, where God says what means:

{And indeed within every community have We raised up a Messenger entrusted with the message: ‘Worship God and shun the powers of evil’ and among those past generations were people who benefited from God’s guidance just as there were among them many who inevitably fell prey to the grievous error, go then about the earth and behold what happened in the end to those who gave the lie to the truth.} (Quran 16:36)

You ask: “Why does He want us to believe in Him only through words handed down to us by extremely unreliable human agents (we know them all too well, we’re just like them)

What you mean by “extremely unreliable human agents” is not clear. If you mean the prophets of God, you are distorting facts. I suppose the reference is particularly to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him).

The image of the Prophet of Islam his critics love to hate has little to do with reality. The chief allegation is that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was just like one of us and therefore very different from Jesus (peace be upon him) the highly rarefied Son of God or God incarnate.

It is interesting to note that when it comes to Islam-bashing even the rationalist atheists rely heavily on dubious Judeo-Christian sources.

Indeed Muhammad (peace be upon him) was all too human: he was first a shepherd and later a merchant before he became the Prophet in his fortieth year.

Even the critics must admit that he began preaching Islam as one man in a hostile environment. How could he get most of his enemies to become his close followers, if he were an unreliable person? How could he tame all those wild Arabs of the desert to pray five times a day and fast a whole month?

How could 1.6 billion humans today (according to Pew Research Center) respect, honor and love Muhammad (peace be upon him) as their Prophet, and strive to mould their lives on the model provided by him? Can any sensible person believe that it was the sword that did it, as often alleged?

About miracles: A prophetic miracle can be described as a supernatural event that results from divine intervention. The miracles of Moses and Jesus were meant for their contemporaries, not to be repeated. But Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not depend on any such miracle to authenticate his message.

The Quran which contained his Message was his only miracle; and today it is present before us just as it was revealed over fourteen centuries ago.

I request you to come out of your hostile mindset and study it objectively and check what is miraculous about it if you like, before finding fault with the Prophet of Islam and the way of life he taught the world.

I hope this addresses your concerns.

Salam and please keep in touch.

About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.