Archive for the ‘Creation’ Category

Drawing images of living beings

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Forgive my bad English (I’m from Spain).
I heard that Prophet Muhammad said that making a picture of a human or animal being is haram (prohibited) and in the Day of Judgement God will ask us to turn our pictures to life. Is it true? Can’t we paint this beings?
God bless you

Your English is just fine! Thanks for writing. And may God bless you too for doing the research and verifying what you hear. Too many people simply take for granted what they have been told, without ever attempting to ask themselves if it is true.

The hadeeth you refer to is authentic. It was narrated by Ibn Abbaas (RA) and reported by Al-Bukhaari. Another version of it, also reported by him, was narrated by Ibn Umar (RA).

Those two hadeeths, and there are other, use the Arabic word صورة “Şoora”, which in today’s Arabic is often used to mean a picture, but it actually means “likeness” and that is how it was used by the Arabs of the Seventh Century. The word for picture is actually رقم “Raqm”, which in today’s Arabic has come to mean marking or engraving.

This distinction can be discerned from another authentic hadeeth, reported by Muslim and narrated by Abu-Talha, where the Prophet (PBUH) made an exception from the prohibition a raqm on a cloth. It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that the prohibition applies only to three-dimensional images, i.e., statues, figurines, embossed images, etc.

The ending of the two hadeeths of prohibition give away the reason for the prohibition. It’s what Americans call “playing God.” That is, the attempt by humans to do things that only God may do. Creation of living beings is God’s domain only.

This prohibition is not unique to Islam. The exact same thing is said in the Second Commandment, prohibiting making engraved images and bowing to statues.

This is the key to understanding the prohibition of sculpting images of living beings. It is God’s protection of us from Shirk (associating others with Him in worship).

One may think that shirk is far-fetched in today’s educated world. One, therefore, may think that this prohibition may have been called for in ancient times, when shirk was rampant, but not relevant in today’s sophisticated societies. But that is not actually the case! There are millions of people in today’s sophisticated world who pray to statues. Many even bow down to images on the wall. Many believe that a token or a figurine will bring them good fortune, heal them or stave evil away from them. All of that is shirk.

Why is shirk so dangerous? Because it creeps on people’s psyche, with enthusiastic help from Satan, until they are detached from God. That is the greatest loss.

Tawheed (the oneness of God) is the central teaching of Islam. It is also the subject of the First Commandment. God is teaching us to worship Him only and abandon any hint of worship of anyone or anything else – not because He needs it, but because we do. Human nature is such that we look for idols, literal or figurative. We keep aggrandizing the people we admire. Americans have coined a good term for that: hero worship. Shirk can be subtle.

The issue at hand is not art, creativity or expression, all of which are allowed in Islam. Rather, it is the kind of art, creativity or expression that is dangerous to our souls.

Moral atheists?

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

As-Salaam-Alaikum,
I would like to know, what is the Islamic response to those people (atheist, agnostics, etc.) who say that you can be moral without religion?

They say this because since they don’t believe in God or any religion for that matter that that you can be a good moral person without God or religion. In a way I kind of understand where they are coming from but then I kind of feel like something is wrong with their statements.

What is the Islamic response to people who say things like this?

Thanks!

Morality cannot be forced on people but it can be enforced by law. That is, a society can arrange itself such that certain values it considers paramount are upheld and others it considers harmful are stopped by force of law. But that is a different question altogether from people committing themselves willingly to certain moral values. We see all parents raising their children to certain moral values they believe in, but the children may not observe them when they grow up. And we also see the flip side: parents neglecting moral teaching of their children, yet the children acquire moral attitudes when they grow up!

Islam teaches us that non-Muslims can be moral and furthermore can do good. The Quran says, “And verily, among the people of the Book are those whom if you entrust with a Qintaar (a heap of money), he would deliver it to you” (3:75). God also tells us in the Quran that “whatever good they (non-Muslims) do, they will not be denied it” (3:115).

That is why, when non-Muslims do good to us, we are required to reciprocate with good. Asmaa’ bint Abi-Bakr had migrated to Medina, but her mother, Qateela bint `Abdil-`Uzza, remained in Mecca and remained polytheist. Then one day, Qateela traveled to Medina to see her daughter and brought her a gift. Asmaa’, however, wary that she must sever her relationships with polytheists, refused to let her in the house and would not accept her gift! The Prophet (PBUH) heard of this and told Asmaa’, “Accept her gift and be good to your mother.” Narrated by Abdullah ibn Az-Zubayr (Asmaa’s son) and reported by Al-Haythami and has been rated well by Ibn Hubbaan.

So, if religion is not a pre-requisite to morality, then why is religion necessary? Religion’s purpose is not only to establish a moral code, but also to establish a bond between man and God, a bond man feels very strongly. A bond that atheists cannot explain away. That affinity is ingrained in all of us since before we were born. God says in the holy Quran, “And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their backbones – their offspring and had them testify of themselves, [saying to them], ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘But yes. We have testified.’ [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, ‘We were of this unaware.'” (3:172)

Besides, moral values vary with people. What is immoral to some may not be to others. And what is moral to some may not be to others. God has given us in the Quran the true moral code to live by. And He had His Prophet (PBUH) teach it to us in the authentic Sunna.

Can faith go up and down?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Brother, I pray this finds you in high eman (faith) and good health.

Here is one of my serious questions. I did not know where to start the research.
I pray. I believe in prayer. I try not to miss my salat (prayer).

I got sick. I could not pray. I do not mean physically. There arose the problem. I could not make myself pray. I put it off. I blamed the physical lethargy. I could not understand nor rationalize the blockage.
The inability to pray ran down to my soul. I could not find an answer.

To try and sum it up in words: Why do we have periods of such low eman (faith) that prayer becomes difficult? It is not the total abandonment of prayer but a temporary inability to pray. Does this even make sense? I understand that the body hurts but the soul hurts more when prayer is ignored. It was as if I felt I was abandoned.

Point the passages in the Quran for me to ponder on this one. I know others who have the same blockage. It is not that you do not want to pray..but something prevents you from praying.

You’re asking why is this happening to you. The answer is simple: Satan got to you. Don’t panic; it happens to everybody. Satan never tires of trying to get to people so that they may follow him instead of following God. In the holy Quran, God quotes Satan challenging Him and saying, “I will come to them before them, behind them, at their right sides and at their left sides, and You will not find most of them thankful!” (7:17)

What do you do about it? You show Satan who’s boss! You fight him on it. You drag yourself to pray if necessary and cry to God in your prayer to help you win that fight. It is not an easy fight, it’s a jihaad (struggle). And if you just start it, God promises He will be on your side, “And those who struggle in Us, We shall surely guide them to Our ways.” (29:69)

Prayer is the second most emphasized notion in the Quran, after the oneness of God. Why? Because once you understand who God is, you certainly want to find out how to communicate with Him.

Prayer is an audience with God that He invites you to five times everyday. It is a privilege given to every believer, similar to the privilege God gave to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on his Mi`raaj (ascension journey to heaven). Unlike audiences with human dignitaries, you don’t make an appointment first, you don’t need intermediaries, you can stay as little or as long as you want, and you can ask for anything and be sure that an answer will be given right away and in the way that fits you best.

Prayer, therefore, is much more than a duty upon every believer toward His Maker, it is a fabulous opportunity; like a freebie you get five times a day and all you have to do is open the door to get it. No strings attached.

Prayer is a chance to thank God five times a day for the many more than five favors He has given you that day.

Belief does not go up and down, but faith does. Belief is binary :-), you either believe or you don’t. Faith, on the other hand, is the practice, cordially, mentally, verbally and manually, that proves the belief and affirms it. Since all of these can go up and down, that’s why faith can go up and down. God defined believers as follows, “Verily, believers are only those who, when God is mentioned and His verses are recited to them, it increases their faith, and upon their Lord they rely.” (8:2)

To make your faith go up, you increase the rate at which you affirm your belief. Cordially, you contemplate God’s love and grace often. Mentally, you reflect on God’s creation and bounties often. Verbally, you do Zhikr often, and manually, you perform the rituals, charity and good deeds often. The more you commit yourself to that, the easier it gets, because Satan will find you a tough nut to crack and will look for an easier prey, just like a car thief doesn’t bother with cars that have a powerful alarm.

The Prophet (PBUH) often said this supplication, “O turner of hearts, steady my heart on Your religion! O diverter of hearts, direct my heart to obeying You!”

And he always said this supplication after ending each prayer, “Allahumma a`inni `ala zhikrika wa shukrika wa husni `ibaadatika” (“O God, help me to remember You, thank You, and comply well with your ordinance.”)

Is supplication futile?

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Please, what is the relationship between dua (supplicating to God) and the Hadith which says that after 120 days of a fetus development in its mother’s womb that four things will be written for the baby, and nothing will be added and subtracted from the four things? In other words, can dua change the four things? If it can, then there is a misconception of what the Hadith says about nothing will be added or subtracted.

The hadeeth you refer to is reported by Muslim and rated authentic. It was narrated by `Aamir ibn Waathila. What the hadeeth says is that an angel is commissioned by God, after a fetus is 42 nights old, to fashion its form, hearing, eyesight, skin, flesh and bones. Then the angel asks God, “O Lord, male or female?” God tells him. Then the angels asks God, “And its lifespan?” God tells him. Then the angel asks God, “And its provision?” God tells him. Then the angel leaves with the paper in his hand, having added nothing else to it nor left out any of it.

Thus, what the hadeeth tells us is that four things are ‘written” for each human before he or she is born: His or her physical appearance, his or her gender, his or her lifespan and his or her provision and sustenance.

Writing these things means they are already known to God. People have changed their birth gender, for example. But it is the new gender that was written. God has already known about the change.

It is also important to realize that this “paper” is withheld from us. Only God and the angel who wrote it down know its content. People keep trying to change their financial situation and believers are encouraged to ask God to bestow on them wealth. God instructs us in the holy Quran, “And ask God from His bounty, for God is of everything Knowledgeable” (4:32). Whatever financial situation we end up with is foreknown to God. It is what was written down before we were born. We simply don’t know it. By not knowing, we have to work for it! By not knowing, we may keep asking God to change it. If we were to know it, we wouldn’t even try to change it, would we?

People keep trying to extend their lives. In doing so, they pursue methods which will keep them healthy, fight deceases and avoid risky behavior. By not knowing how long each of us will live, we can do all that. If we were to know, we would give up trying any of it.

The lesson learned from the hadeeth is the wisdom of the Beyond (Al-Ghayb); why it is kept hidden from us. It is precisely because we don’t know it that we supplicate to God to grant us what we hope for. It is precisely because we don’t know the Beyond that we keep trying to improve our lives. Supplicating to God and working hard for our goals are two things that God loves for us to do. Neither would be practical if we already knew the outcome.

God says in the holy Quran, “And say [to people], ‘Work! For God will observe your work, as well as His Messenger and the believers. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Beyond and the Presence then He will inform you of what you have been doing.'” (9:105).

And He also says, “And your Lord has said, ‘Supplicate to Me; I will answer you.'” (40:60) His answer is a fulfillment of what He has already written, but He wanted us to ask for it. This way, we keep remembering that He is the Source and He keeps showing us His Grace and that He listens.

To clear up any misconception, please go through the previous posts in the Fate category.

The noble relationship between husband and wife

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Assalaamu alaikum WR WB Akhi

I want to know the concept of Islam with regards to the relationship of Husband and wife in Islam.
We all know that Hawwa was created from Adam (PBUH). I heard some one saying that every girl on the face of the earth is created from her husband. Is this true according to Islam?
The ones who publish this concept do take the verse as their Daleel, which says that every thing is created with their pairs.
Is the bond of husband and wife so noble, which is already being predestined with a special treatment as they say?
Plz throw light Insha Allah
Fee Amanillah

Wa Alaykum Assalaamu wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakatuh, Sister.

The relationship between husband and wife is indeed a noble one, but it is not predestined because it involves initiative from one and approval from another, both are freely made decisions.

God does say that He created all creatures in pairs, “And of everything We created pairs, that they may remember.” (51:49). A pair has two of a kind, each complementing the other and is not complete without it. That is the metaphor for marriage.

If every girl on earth was created from her husband, then how were the girls who remain unmarried created?! The notion that for every one there is a soul mate out there somewhere is sweet and romantic, but cannot be proven. Many people married more than once and had a happy marriage every time. How come those people have many soul mates?

Folks who interpret 51:49 and similar verses to mean an exclusive pairing of mates, are entitled to their interpretation, but you should recognize that it is nothing more than an interpretation. If God wanted to teach this notion, He would have explicitly stated it. In fact, what God says in 4:1 clearly refutes that theory. The verse says, “O people! Watch out for your Lord who created you from one soul and from it He created its mate, and He spread out from them many men and women.” (4:1) Only Eve was created from her husband. The rest of us were created from both of them.

Do birds have feelings?

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

I watched a video featuring a bird and its mate that has just died. It sure looked to me like the bird that survived was grieving over its dead mate! Am I imagining things, or do birds have feelings?

You’re not imagining things. God tells us in the Quran,

“There is no creature in the earth, nor a bird that flies with its wings, but are a community like you!” (6:38)

The sky and the earth have feelings! Consider,
“Then the sky and the earth did not weep for them (the house of Pharaoh)” (44:29)

Modern research has shown that plants have feelings too. That does not surprise me.

Is it proper to say that people create?

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Many people, even Muslims, use the word ‘create’ for human beings, e.g., ‘he has a creative mind ‘ or ‘He or she created this or that.’ Even some very good Muslims are using this word in their books. The only creator is Allah, so is it right to use this word for human beings?

The verb to create does not mean to bring something out of nothing. It means to bring something out of something else. That is exactly the linguistic meaning of the Arabic verb خلق (Khalaqa). To bring something out of nothing is called برأ (Bara’) or أنشأ (Ansha’a) translated “to initiate.”

The confusion that some people have sometimes is caused by the mixing of two actions: formation and life giving. Only God can do both. Man can do the former but not the latter. Consider what God told us in the story of Jesus, peace be upon him,

“… that I create for you from mud like the form of a bird and it becomes a bird by permission of God…” (3:49). Here Jesus creates, i.e., shapes and forms one thing into another, but God gives it life as only He can.

Therefore, it’s not wrong at all to say that somebody has a creative mind, as long as we are not talking about giving life.

Can logic and reason be used in religion?

Friday, July 9th, 2010

I’ve noticed that in many of your articles, you use logic and critical thinking, but can they be used in religion? I’ll give you an example. Prophet Muhammad Went from Mecca to Jerusalem in one night, can you explain to me how this is logically possible? We know also Angel Gabriel took Prophet Muhammad’s heart out and cleansed it and put it back when he was little. Can you logically prove this? And Allah turned some Jews from among the Children of Israel into apes and swines, Can you explain this to me as well?

That’s easy! Let me start with the night journey. An object will move at a speed proportional to the force that pushed it, the stronger the force, the faster the move. That is why airplanes get us to our destination faster than automobiles and faster than walking. God has infinite power, therefore, He can push any object any distance in no time at all.

Creatures differ in their abilities. A horse can live and build muscles from a diet of grass and hay, but man can’t. Birds can fly but man can’t. Likewise, angels have powers that man doesn’t have.

And because God has infinite creation powers, He can turn any creation into any other creation. It’s the same logic with which a worm, the caterpillar, which can only crawl, has many legs and looks creepy, turns in three weeks into another species, an insect, a butterfly, which can fly thousands of miles, has only two legs and looks beautiful. The same logic that turns a seed into a palm tree, or a fertilized egg into a baby. Glory be to God.

What about God settling on His Throne? Where is the logic here?

It’s a metaphor, a figure of speech. The Arabs use metaphors all the time. You can see that a lot when you read their poetry. Exegesis books have pointed that out too about the Quran in abundance.

Does this verse imply reincarnation?

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Please help me understand this verse. What does it mean when it says in different forms?

Chapter 56, verses 61-62:

Yusuf Ali’s transaltion:
From changing your forms and creating you (again) in (forms) that ye know not. And ye certainly know already the first form of creation: Why then ye not celebrate HIS praises?

Picthall’s translation:
That We may transfigure you and make you what ye know not.And verily you know the first creation. Why, then, do ye not reflect?

Something very disturbing comes to my mind everyday I go through this verse, something that is in Hindu religion.

You left out the preceding verse that introduces the subject:

“We have decreed death among you, and We are not to be outdone ” (56:60). In other words, God is stating His power to create as He wills. So, a proper translation of these three verses, I suggest, is:

“We have decreed death among you, and We are not to be outdone;
In that We [may] replace you with [creatures] like you, and initiate you in what you do not know.
And you have already known the first creation; if only you remember!” (56:60-62)

The verses do not say that this will happen, it only says that God can do it.

Would that mean He may give our souls different bodies and make them alive after we die?!……….Is this what the verse means? That it is in ALLAH’s power (no doubt). That He destroys us and then resurrects us in froms we know not??

Since He did not tells us, it’s Ghayb (matter of the Beyond) and therefore we cannot know until He tells us on the Day of Resurrection.

The fact that we will be resurrected after turning into bones and dust in the graves is proof that He will initiate us in a new form from the one we ended up with, right?

If the source of your confusion is the doctrine of reincarnation, don’t be confused. The Quran tells us clearly that our souls will stay where the body dies until the Day of Resurrection. Consider the story of Prophet Jonah (Yoonus), peace be upon him. God says that if it weren’t for Jonah’s goodness, “he would have stayed in the whale’s belly until the Day all are resurrected” (37:143-144).

Most of it is clear, except one last thing………….our souls, everyone have one, a distinct one. Is it right from the beginning?? The rooh (spirit) which helps us move around and all. It is ours, right? So, when he dies the rooh stays (his but free) till resurrection???

Actually a sufi minded teacher of mine argued that the number of souls was constant and that when one dies his soul is put into another person/human who is born; like more bodies are created but souls/rooh have been created from Abad (absolute beginning) and that except the prophet’s souls, others are not specifically for one person. That’s what she said.

What was her evidence?

No, there is no evidence that I know of to back up such opinion. What we know for sure is that God has plainly told us, in 17:85, that we cannot know much about the Rooh (soul), thus it is Ghayb (beyond) and it’s therefore futile to try to guess what it is.

I don’t exactly remember. She said someting about a verse which says something like: “We give life and take it then give life and take it……” and something like this. She said the verse mentions this alternation of life and eath six times.

She may be referring to,
“How can you disbelieve in God when you were dead and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned. ” (2:28)

If so, the verse says that we were naught at first and God gave us life, first in the womb then on earth, then He will cause us to die then He will resurrect us. Nothing about reincarnation.

The part about the first “death” is confirmed in,
“[An angel] said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, for I created you before, while you were nothing.’ ” (19:9)

On the Day of Judgment, all who wish to escape Hell will say,
“Our Lord, You caused us to be dead twice and gave us life twice, and we have confessed our sins. So is there to an exit any way?” (40:11)

So, the straightforward interpretation is that we started out dead, became alive, will die, then will be resurrected.

It’s all very clear now! You explained it nicely. Life twice, death twice. I never thought of that. New knowledge!!

May God reward you well for you help and answer.

Thank you and amen. Glad I was able to help.

What’s Islam’s position on evolution and creationism?

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I have met Muslims who believe in evolution i want to say its haram (forbidden) but I’m not sure so that’s why I’m asking if believing that we came from monkeys is haram?

It violates what God says in the Quran,

“[God] said, “O Iblees, what prevented you from prostrating to that which I created with My hands? Did you deem [yourself] big, or were you among the haughty?” {38:75}

For all other creatures, other than man, there is nothing in Islam that says they did not come into being by evolution. Evolution is a physical law that God created, thus everything created directly by God (such as man) or indirectly by evolution is in fact created by God because God is the Creator and Maintainer of the law of evolution.

One verse says, “And He is who has brought you into being from a single being,” (6:98)
The thing I don’t understand is: This single being could mean a single human or a fertilized egg – which evolves into a human?

“Brought you into being” is an inaccurate translation. The word أنشأكم means “He initiated you.” Thus, this verse is referring to the creation of mankind from the single human Adam.

To see more examples of the word إنشاء (initiation), examine 56:35-38.

According to creationism, all species present on earth today have remained unchanged since they were created by God.

Darwin’s theory of evolution contradicts this.

And so does the Quran and science. We know, first from the Quran and then later confirmed by science, that the fertilized egg (Nutfa) changes into a clinging blood clot (Alaqa) which develops into a morsel (Mudhgha) which develops into bones which then develop flesh which then develops into what God has described as “another creation” (23:14). So, clearly what God creates He causes to go through changes. All the changes that creatures go through are according to God’s laws. Therefore, evolution is not contrary to Islamic teachings.

The problem with both creationism and evolution theories is that they insist that they cannot be combined: it’s either one or the other. Islam has no problem combining them. Man was created directly by God’s hands, while all other creatures may have evolved from others, thus indirectly created by God.

But how about this, it mentions evolver:
“He is ALLAH, the creator, the evolver. (Yousuf Ali’s translation) (59:24)

Not an accurate translation either. Sorry. The word البارئ (Al-Baari’) means the one who originates from nothing. That is why “innocence” is translated براءة (Baraa’a) in Arabic and the jurisprudential term Al-Baraa’a Al-Asliyya means the original allowance of everything. The word براءة also means absolving. What is common between all these semantics is “original state.”

In Arabic schools, the theory of evolution is called نظرية النشوء والارتقاء (the theory of initiation and refinement). I think that the word الارتقاء (refinement) is an excellent translation of the word evolution. The wrong part of the theory, IMHO, is the نشوء (initiation) part. The theory does not prove it, but there is a ton of evidence to support the refinement part.

So, the origin of life that says the hot dilute soups of the world in its primitive conditions gave rise to simple polymers and that gave rise to prokaryotes, first form of life. So, can this word, Al-Baari, be used to explain that theory? That Allah made conditions of life origination possible, originated life from nothing?

Al-Baari’ means God initiated the first creation. Al-Khaaliq means that He creates from it subsequent creations, either directly, such as creating Adam from mud, or indirectly by evolution or other means not yet discovered.

I read that experiments were carried out, primitive earth conditions were provided and primitive prokayotic type of organism was obtained. So, this couldn’t be possible that man does something Allah has not.

If they couldn’t obtain that primitive organism, could the experiment have continued? That is why initiation is necessary and only God can do it.

But the Quran provides no reference to evolution? How come? I know the Quran is not for explaining science, but I just find it strange. I’m used to hearing that the  Quran’s says everything. I need more study.

The Quran does not mention evolution directly, but it does draw attention to the process. For example,
“He said, ‘Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided [it].’ ” (20:50)

Some of that guidance can be found in the “genetic instructions” found in every chromosome. Just like our bodies know how to heal wounds and how to adapt to extreme living conditions.