By Dr. Abdullah M. Khouj

The last few decades witnessed great advancements in technology and scientific progress which has prompted the question, “Why do we have to believe in a god anymore, especially that we have everything we need to help us care for ourselves and other things?” Development, improvements, reform and advancements in worldly knowledge are signs of human intelligence and human in one part and may lead to human destruction and misery if not used properly.

The focus on one aspect in our life may lead us to neglect the other aspects and then the result will not be as fruitful as we want. Once more science and technology are essential if the core of our intention is to improve the quality of human life and seek to free our life from all trouble. This could be possible if we understand how our personality functions as humans.

A human being is composed of a sprit, body, emotion, intelligence and values. In Islam, Allah shows that there has to be harmony among all of these aspects for a human being to function in harmony with the whole of reality. If there is any defect in the fulfillment of one of these aspects a human being will suffer the consequences. Allah further shows that the core of the fulfillment of all these aspects is the belief in Him because He is the Creator and thus, the source of harmony. Personal and social harmony is the desire of the heart of every sound human mind. If Allah is the source of this harmony then we need to believe in Him and rely on His guidance. We may believe that we can take care of ourselves, but the question that still remains is for how long and to what extent?

The belief in Allah has no time limitation. It is an inherent element from the time the soul is implanted in us to give us life. When Allah created Adam, he was made out of clay[1] and then Allah put the soul in him which made him a living being. A human being may exist with the claim that he does not need Allah or believe in Him, but would not live the full meaningful life that Allah wanted for him and that agrees with his nature. Allah gave the human being the choice of believing in Him or not to see which one of us would perform well in this worldly life.

Who has created death and life that He may test you which of you is best in deed. {1} And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving. (67:2)

This explains that Allah created the human being for certain reasons; it is to strive to reach certain objectives. The highest among these reasons is to believe in Allah and then through that to improve our human condition with all the proper means including science. Science is every type of knowledge and the applications of such knowledge to form theories or uncover the universal laws of Allah. It could be in all areas of knowledge and it is the opposite of ignorance. Knowledge for the improvement of human life is light from Allah and ignorance is darkness.

If we believe in Allah, our life would be more meaningful and have clear objectives. If we do not believe in Him, our life revolves around temporary gratification and thus affects our objectives; life becomes unfulfilling and we become lost. Allah speaks about those who do not believe by saying:

 Say: “travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who rejected truth.” (6:11)

For this reason, we see that Allah, out of His mercy, when He saw that people started to deny His existence and manifest creative power, and stray from the Ultimate Reality, He sent messengers and prophets from time to time-from among these people to point out the danger of their diversion from believing in Allah and following His teaching. Allah says:

And We send not the Messengers but as givers of glad tidings and as warmers. So whosoever believes and does righteous good deeds, upon such shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (6:48-49)

Allah in His final message, the Qur’an, told people that He had perfected their religion and completed His favour on them and had chosen Islam as the final religion. He says:

This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your way of life. (5:3)

Then Allah tells people that they should adhere to this religion if they want to understand themselves, the purpose of their existence, and live a more meaningful life. Allah says:

 Whoever submits his whole self to Allah, and is a doer of good, has grasped indeed the most trustworthy hand-hold; and with Allah rests the End and Decision of (all) affairs. But if any reject Faith, let not his rejection grieve thee: to Us is their Return, and We shall tell them the truth of their deeds: for Allah knows well all that is in (men’s) hearts.  (31:22-23)

Islam is the total submission to the will of Allah and the implementation of His laws in our life as human beings. What distinguish the form of belief in Islam is that the principles of its creed are clear and simple in the way they address the human mind, so people can learn and follow them with knowledge and conviction. The same is true about the worship system. The  variety  of the rules of worshiping Allah are simple and clear and their applications mandated to fulfill human spiritual needs. The creed and worship system help the human being stay out of the confusion of believing in different gods and to be in continuous remembrance with the Creator. Islam did not restrict worship to the formal type of worship that people are familiar with, such as prayers, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage, rather it extends it to every good deed that the humans do with the intention to please the Creator. Follows after that, Allah explains clearly the reward awaiting those who practice good deeds and also the punishment awaiting those who divert from His way. In reality Allah does not need to punish people. The punishment and reward system is set to protect people from each other and to see how well they do. In general, as humans we use systems to make distinctions among ourselves as far as jobs, positions, rewards and so forth. Sometimes we could be unjust with each other and somehow we accept that. But Allah is never unjust and does not accept injustice  within  His creation.

 Verily Allah will not deal unjustly with man in aught: it is man that wrongs his own soul. (10:44)

Islam emphasizes the belief in Allah to be of utmost benefit to us. When people believe in different gods or take partners with Allah, their intentions will be disrupted or out of focus, and thus, the purpose of their existence will be unclear and their efforts and dedications will be wasted. The belief in Allah unifies the individual’s personality, gives directives and meaning to his/her life and stabilizes his/her personality. When the individual believes in different gods or takes partners with Allah, he would have a difficult time to accept such gods, because they would not fulfill his needs and would not respond to his human instincts. Allah says:

 Lo! Abraham said to his father Azar: “Takest thou idols for gods? For I see thee and thy people in manifest error.”  So also did We show Abraham the power and the laws of heavens and the earth, that he might (with understanding) have certitude. When the night covered him over, He saw a star. He said: “this is my Lord.” But when it set, he said:”[love not those that set.” When he saw the moon rising in splendor; he said: “this is my Lord.” But when the moon set, he said: “unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among those who go astray” When he saw the sun rising in splendor, he said this is my Lord; this is the greatest (of All).” But when the sun set, he said ”O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah. For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, toward Him who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allab” His people disputed with him. He satd. rtcome ) ye to dispute with me, about Allah. ube n He Himself) hath guided me? 1 fear not (the beings ye associate tcitb Allah) unless m.y Lord willeth, (nothing can happen). My Lord comprebendeth in His knowledge all things. Will ye not (yourselves) be admonished? “How should I fear (the beings) ye associate with Allah, when l1:? fear not to give partners to Allah without any warrant having been given to you? Which of (us) two parties hath more right to security? (Tell me) if ye know. It is those who believe and confuse not their beliefs with wrong that are (truly) in security, for they are on (right) guidance.” That was the reasoning about us, which We gave to Abraham (to use) against his people. We raise whom We will, degree after degree. For thy Lord is full Of wisdom and knowledge. (6:74-83)

Allah gave Abraham the reason to find out that the human being is inclined naturally to believe in Allah, and if he believes in other things, he would not be satisfied. These things which are created beings would not fulfill his instinct as if he believed in Allah; rather, they would create more internal confusion, doubt and uncertainty. Thus, a human being becomes fearful, doubtful and unsure of the objectives of his life. However, the person who believes in Allah and follows his guidance will be stable, and have clear objectives.

 Behold! Ibrahim said: “My Lord! Show me how Thou givest life to the dead.” He said: “Dost thou not then believe?” He said: “Yea! but to satisfy my own understanding.” He said: “Take four birds; tame them to turn to thee; put a portion of them on every hill, and call to them; they will come to thee, (flying) with speed. Then know that Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (2:260)

Allah teaches us that everything is within his knowledge and power. If we want to understand our limitations and strength we have to seek His guidance. This matter is clear in the Qur’an when Allah shows that His book leads to the straight guiding path. He says:

Verily this Qur’an Doth guide to that whichis most right (or stable), and giveth the glad tidings to the believers who work deeds of righteousness, That they shall have amagnificent reward. (17:9)

Also Allah says that this Qur’an is guidance and cure for those who believe in Him and follow His message. He says:

 Had We sent this as a Qur-an (in a language) other than Arabic, they would have said: “Why are not its verses explained in detail? What! (a Book) not in Arabic? And (a Messenger) an Arab?” Say: “It is a guide and a healing to those who believe; and for those who believe not, there is deafness in their ears, and it is blindness in their (eyes): they are (as it were) being called from a place far distant!” (41:44)

The clarity of belief helps people understand themselves, and realize their function as a human being in this life and what is awaiting them in the after-life. The book of Allah sheds light in the individual’s life and reminds a person of his/her position to the extent that one becomes aware of his/her weaknesses and strength, what is useful for him/her and what is not. Because Allah is the One who created the human being, He knows what benefits or harms him/her.

The Qur’an was revealed to show people the right path that they have to follow and warned them against following the destructive ways that would make them confused and hurt themselves. Allah says:

 Hast thou not turned thy vision to one who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord, because Allah had granted him power? Ibrahim said: “My Lord is He Who giveth life and death.” He said: “I give life and death.” Said Ibrahim: “But it is Allah that causeth the sun to rise from the East do thou then cause him to rise from the West?” Thus was he confounded who (in arrogance) rejected Faith. Nor doth Allah give guidance to a people unjust. (2:258)

Allah tells mankind that He created them to worship Him and plan for the improvement of their lives and they were not created in vain or to play; eat and drink, build houses and so on. He also shows them that He created things for them in this worldly life so that they appreciate His gifts through worshiping Him.

He said:

 It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Then He turned to the heaven and made them into seven firmaments. And of all things He hath perfect knowledge (2:29)

Allah from time to time informs people about this fact and shows that if they take partners with Him, their deeds will not be accepted and their life will not be meaningful,

 This is the guidance of Allah: He giveth that guidance to whom He pleaseth of His worshippers. If they were to join other gods with Him, all that they did would be vain for them. These were the men to whom We gave the Book, and Authority, and Prophethood: if these (their descendants) reject them, behold! We shall entrust their charge to a new people who reject them not. Those were the (prophets) who received Allah’s guidance: copy the guidance they received; say: “No reward for this do I ask of you: this is no less than a message for the nations.” (6:88)

Allah also says:

But it has already been revealed to thee as it was to those before thee- “if thou wert to join (gods with Allah), truly fruitless will be thy work (in life), and thou wilt surely be in the rank of those who lose (all spiritual good).” Nay, but worship Allah, and be of those who give thanks. No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him; on the day of judgment the whole of the earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand; glory to Him! High is He above the partners they attribute to Him! (39:65-67)

Allah gives a parable describing the condition of the one who ascribes partners onto Him.  He says:

 If anyone assigns partners to Allah, he is as he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prey) and thrown him into a far-distant place. (22:31)

For this reason, we find that Allah considers the protection of one’s religion very important. Many people think that to take partners with Allah is to associate someone in worship with Him. Shirk (to take partners with Allah) is of two types.  First type of shirk is to make something equal to Allah or ascribe part or complete divinity to any object, person or idea. This can outwardly or inwardly lead one to have devotion towards and worship such things as humans, idols, the sun, work career, social status, substances and so forth. This is the great shirk about which Allah mentions in the Qur’an and says:

 Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed. (4:48)

 Behold Luqman said to his son by way Of instruction: “0 my son! Join not in worship (others) with Allah. For false worship is indeed the highest wrongdoing.” (31: 13)

Allah makes it clear that he who takes partners with Him, will go astray and deviate from what is right.

 Allah forgiveth not (the sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgivethwhom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, hath strayed far, far away (from the right). (4:116)

Who takes partners with Allah and dies in such a state will be one of those who will go to hell-fire, and the one who believes in Allah and dies in such a state will enter heaven.

We as humans do not determin who will go to hell-fire and who will not. It is only Allah who does. We are all under His mercy.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: (should I tell you the greatest of the great sins-three ? They said: Yes  O messenger of Allah. He said: to take partners with Allah, to be ungrateful to one’s parents andhe was leaning to his side, then he sat and said: I warn you against false testimony). He kept repeating it until we thought he would not stop. (Agreed upon)

The Prophet also warned again the seven great sins and said: stay away from the seven great sins. Then he mentioned taking partners with Allah. (Bukhary and Ahmad)

The second type of Shirk is (Reya)[2], hypocrisy by deed. Allah says:

 Say:”I  am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your god is one God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner. (18:110)

The criterion of one’s true belief is then the total devotion in one’s worship of Allah so he would not be a hypocrite with his deeds. The Prophet (pbuhsaid: I waryou against the small shirk; thesaid 0 messenger of Allahwhat ithe small Shirk? Hsaid: ReyaAllah sayson the day when He punishes orewards His servants with theideeds,gtthones you used to show off ifront of with youdeeds in thworldly lifeand see if you finwitthem reward. (Ahmad)
Through Ibn Abass, the person who works for showing off and reputation will not gain from his deed, except what people say about him, and he will have no reward in the after-life. Allah says:

 These are the deeds that were done not for the sake of Allah. Allah demolished them and made them as sprinkled fine dust. As the dust seen in light of the sun. (25:23)

Allah says:

Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the true faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend.

There are many verses in the Qur’an explain to people Allah’s favors on them. Some of these verses are:

 Say: “Who is it that sustains you (in life) from the sky and from the earth? Or who is it that has power over hearing and sight? And who is it that brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living? And who is it that rules and regulates all affairs?” They will soon say, “Allah.” Say, “Will ye not then show piety (to Him)?” Such is Allah, your real Cherisher and Sustainer: apart from Truth, what (remains) but error? How then are ye turned away? (10:31-32)

Or, who has created the heavens and the earth, and who sends you down rain from the sky? Yea, with it We cause to grow well-planted orchards full of beauty and delight: it is not in your power to cause the growth of the trees in them. (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Nay, they are a people who swerve from justice. Or, who has made the earth firm to live in; made rivers in its midst; set thereon mountains immovable, and made a separating bar between the two bodies of flowing water? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Nay, most of them know not. Or, who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls on Him, and who relieves its suffering, and makes you (mankind) inheritors of the earth? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Little it is that ye heed! Or, who guides you through the depths of darkness on land and sea, and who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His mercy? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? High is Allah above what they associate with Him! Or, who originates Creation, then repeats it, and who gives you sustenance from heaven and earth? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Say, “Bring forth your argument, if ye are telling the truth!” Say: None in the heavens or on earth, except Allah, knows what is hidden: nor can they perceive when they shall be raised up (for Judgment). Still less can their knowledge comprehend the Hereafter: nay, they are in doubt and uncertainty there anent; nay, they are blind thereunto!(27:60-65)

Theses verses and many others show that Allah is the Creator and He is the only One Who is worthy of our belief, worship, submission and dedication.

To conclude, the belief in Allah helps the human being to:

a. Have a clear picture of who he really is and understand that Allah is the One who creates, gives life and takes life away.

b. Be sure of him/herself and be saved from the confusion of believing in different gods and thus unify his personality and belief.

c. Be more able to organize his life. When the individual knows the purpose of his existence and what is expected of him, as far as his limitations and capabilities, he can set his objectives and plan for the future.

d. Aware that Allah is watching over his behavior; thus, he finds comfort in supervising his behavior in relations with Allah and the others in society. Allah says:

 For Allah ever watches over you. (4:1)

e. Be aware of his strengths and shortcomings. When the individual believes in Allah sincerely, he knows that he is a created being and his life runs in accordance with what Allah has planned. The individual then believes that not all his efforts should be successful, and if anything went wrong, he would be in despair; rather, the individual would understand that all matters with Allah and he has to wait for His time. Allah says:

 To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth; to Him do all matters go back (for decision) Behold! In the creation Of the heavens and the earth; In the alternation Of the night and the Day; In the sailing of the ships Through the Ocean For the profit of mankind; In the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, And the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; In the beasts of all kinds That He scatters Through the earth; In the change of the winds, And the clouds which they Trail like their slaves Between the sky and the earth; (Here) indeed are Signs For a people that are wise.

f.  Have a realistic perspective on life. The individual knows that Allah alone is the one Who creates, gives sustenance and the only one Who is worthy of worship.

g. Have a balanced view of life and the after-life. The individual who believes in Allah as a creator realizes that he has an appointed term and that his life has to end. So he has to prepare for what is awaiting him. Islam teaches that this life is a life of trial and test and that death is not the end of life. Rather, what comes after death is eternal.

h. Receive continuous support from Allah to endure troubles and be energized to work to solve these troubles. Allah praises those who are patient and those who face difficulties but still believe in Him and never change their belief.

All these and many other traits make the believer behave differently and feel that his belief in Allah alone and following His teachings are the major purposes of his existence. If this matter is settled then the rest of his life requirements will be fulfilled with clarity and certainty. It is then clear that life is a place of temporary enjoyment filled with tests and trials and the other life is the eternal place of reward or punishment. Allah says:

Know ye (all), that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude; how rain and the growth which it brings forth, delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; thou wilt see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a Penalty severe (for the devotees of wrong). And Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the devotees of Allah). And what is the life of this world, but goods and chattels of deception? (57:20)

 Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception. (3:185)

After all, we can realize that the belief in Allah is the focus of our life. If we want to be functioning human beings then we have to consider Him in our life to give us guidance and forwards our efforts to be beneficial and useful to take care of each other and not harm each other, to be sources of peace through knowledge to bring happiness and harmony in people’s lives instead of hurt and destruction. Allah reveals His verses to us to think, ponder and realize how much the belief in Him can benefit us.

[1] Many modern scientists have discovered that although human procreation commences with the fertilization of the ovum, the physical composition of humans still resembles that of dust and earth. Alexis Carel (1935) states, “Man is literally made from the dust of the earth.”[2] Reya is an Islamic terminology used to describe someone who does things so people would recognize him or her as virtues person. Such person considered to be in state of Reya because he/she wants to please people and does not care about pleasing Allah the Creator.