By Fareeha Qayoom
I know from the Quran, for example, that everything in our universe is made of math. (Surah Kahf. Chapter 18. Everything happens for a reason and nothing in this world is random even if it looks like it. The world is made up of one complex calculated mathematical model or system. Yes, I am referencing the story of Prophet Moses and his encounter with the teacher who took him on a short journey -containing three events which required a lot of patience on his part – God apparently wanted our prophet to know that he still didn’t know everything just because he had a direct hotline to Him, only what He had taught him.). I am no physicist. Nor am I a mathematician. In fact, I don’t understand math. That’s why I don’t score higher than 130 on IQ tests. (I think I gain all the score on pattern recognition and language skills questions). However, apparently, one MIT scientist agrees with me. Max Tegmark. You can read his article, “Everything in the Universe Is Made of Math – Including You.” Apparently, Pythagoras is another one of those guys who believed that there was nothing random in the universe, too. But he was before Christ. (Prophet Isa) so we might not take him as seriously as scientists from our age.
I also studied probability in college. I know, for example, probability of any event is always between zero and 1. A nonevent is always zero. The scientists are still debating if our universe came into existence by a mere chance or it is because there is a creator (of a grand design). However, Probability favors a creator (or design).
I know from the Quran again, for example, that no, we are not alone in the universe. There is the one true God, Allah, of course, the creator, sustainer, and the Lord of the worlds, ‘Rab ul Almeen.’ And there is his creation. There are angels. There are jinns or shiateen (the west calls them demons). And there is us. Humanity (or mankind if you prefer an old fashioned term.). And there are countless ‘worlds’ in the universe. We still don’t know what the ‘worlds’ consist of. Our knowledge is quite limited in spite of many advances in science. We will probably understand this ‘Quranic’ term as soon as science discovers all those worlds. Right, now, all we know is that the universe is expanding and there are many galaxies like ours in the universe. And earth, our planet, has life forms bursting from the seams. Some have gone extinct. Some are yet to be discovered and classified by science. So there are many worlds within our world too.
As a Muslim I know, Allah created the universe because He can. I know for example, that making anything for God is easy. “His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it: Be, so it is.” Surah Yasin – 36:82. “Kun FiaKun.” Another thing I know from hadith is that God created the pen first and asked it to write the decree. So how can things not be calculated if everything that was to come afterwards has been written down first?
Scientists are still debating if there is a God.
What else do I know? I know many such random things from just reading the Quran or hadith. Science is still catching up.
I know from the Quran for example, that the angels are God’s creation who carry out His commands to His complete satisfaction. Angels are created with specialized knowledge of tasks that they need to perform. There are high ranking Angels like ‘Jibraeel’ (or Gabriel) or ‘Mikaeel’ (or Michael). There are angels who control winds, rivers, and mountains on our planet for example. They can shape shift; (as they can take human forms too) – this we know from the Quran and authentic hadith – there are a few instances that angels appeared in human forms to the prophets – for example, Prophets Abraham, Lot, and Muhammad (PBUH). They have wings. They can fly. They can freely move whenever and wherever they want – all over the universe – except they can’t get past sidra tul muntaha (sign confirming the edge of the limit that angels can’t cross)– in fact, a hadith about prophet’s journey into deep space (Meraj) confirms that space is not a silent place – it consistently vibrates, creaks, and hums (with the angels singing Allah’s praises) – now, NASA has confirmed the truth of this hadith too- (there are many recordings available of space in public domain). They are made from light. They can be invisible to us and move all over the world (and universe) performing their tasks. They are also telepathic. They can read our thoughts. A couple of angels are assigned to each human being, as witnesses and independent observers and record all our doings, and even thoughts (‘neeat’ or our intention before we take any action), for example. This tablet (of our doings) will be produced on judgment day. I know they can be scary too, (as, when our prophet Muhammad (PBUH) met archangel Jibraeel for the first time, he was so shocked and scared that he ran home to his wife Khadijah for comfort). They have personalities, they have likes, dislikes and a mind of their own. In other words, they are not automatons or drone-like creation. You can pick this up from Quran too. All you have to do is read specific passages about the creation of Adam. However, they never, ever, disobey God in any circumstances.
On the other hand, Jinn or Shiateen (devils) and humanity are only the two types of creation of God (that we know of) that have the gift of free will. “Allah created man and then showed him the two paths.” Surah Taha. 20:50. And “We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it, but man assumed it.” Surah Ahzaab. 23:72.
So, we can choose our own path. This is self-evident too. Science of Psychology studies human beings and confirms that we can and do choose our attitudes and approach to life ourselves.
The creation of Adam is described in the Quran in short passages here and there. Jinn predate humanity. They were already here. The planet earth was already here too (which is, by the way, supported by scientific evidence, too – the age of our universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old and our earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old) by the time we got created because the angels and jinn were both aware of the material ‘earth.’ “And thy Lord said unto the angels, ‘Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth,’ they said, ‘Wilt Thou therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood while we, hymn Thy praises and sanctify Thee.’ He said, ‘Surely I know that which ye know not.’” Surah Bakar. 2:30. (So, angels had seen some other form of creation made from the same material who caused harm and shed blood on earth. Animals, I presume…? But I digress.)
The jinns knew about our earth too because our fall from grace is because of one particular jinn, Iblees. He was with the angels when Allah ordered the angels to bow down before Adam. He had free will and he refused, (apparently, he was suffering from ‘jinn privilege’ – I consider arrogance to be the original sin, if there has to be one, though, Muslims don’t believe in original sin- that’s a pure Christian belief.). Even though, he was created from fire, he could do everything that angels could do, if not better, at least, he had earned his place with the angels. What could this lowly human do? He was molded from ‘brewing clay,’ ‘mud,’ or ‘earth.’ He set out to prove to God that jinns are better than humans. God let him. Apparently, any human that believes Iblees (or the devil) and follows his lead is fodder for hell fire. “And remember when We said unto angels, fall prostrate before Adam and they fell prostrate all save Iblees: he was of the Jinn, so he rebelled against his Lord’s command. Will you choose him and his seed for your protecting friends instead of Me when they are an enemy unto you? Calamitous is the exchange for evils doers.” Surah Kahf. 18:50. And, “He said, ‘What hindered thee that thou didst not fall prostrate when I bade thee?’ (Iblees) said, ‘I am better than he is. Thou created me of fire whilst him Thou didst create of mud.’ ‘He said, then go down hence. It is not for thee to show pride here, so go forth! Lo! Thou art of those degraded.’ He said, ‘reprieve me till the day when they are raised (from the dead).’ He said, ‘Lo! thou art of those reprieved.’ He said, ‘now because Thou hast sent me astray, verily, I shall lurk in ambush for them on Thy right path. Then I shall come upon them from before them and from behind them, and from their right hand and from their left hand and Thou wilt not find them beholden (unto Thee).’ He said, ‘go forth from hence, degraded, banished. As for such of them as follow thee, surely I will fill hell with all of you.’” Surah Araaf. 7:12-18.
We were ‘sent down’ from heaven as a test if you believe the creator, the author of Quran. In other words, humanity is the true alien on this planet. However, scientists are still debating about the exact timing of the first human to appear on earth. There is partial fossil evidence to suggest that human-like creatures roamed the earth by 400,000 years, however, were they really human is the question. “These new studies leave us with an even more complex picture of early humans, than we thought,” comments professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, in an article titled ‘First human’ discovered in Ethiopia,’ “they challenge us to consider the very definition of what it is to be human. Are we defined by our small teeth and jaws, our large brain, our long legs, tool-making, or some combination of these traits?” he questions.
Science confirms that as distinct species, humanity can only be traced back about 200,000 years ago on this planet. “We said: “Get down all of you from this place (the Paradise), then whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me, and whoever follows My Guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve.” Surah Bakar. 2:38.
Humanity was created equal. No race (or group or tribe or gender) is superior to another. This is a basic building block of an Islamic society. Resources, rights, duties, and distribution of community amenities of life are based on equality and social justice. There is simply no elite or privileged class in an Islamic society as per Quran and hadith.
Even science confirms this religious truth now. Yes, I am talking about the science of genetics. All human beings’ cells are made of 46 chromosomes; 23 pairs come from mothers and 23 pairs come from fathers. 22 pairs are the same. Only the 23rd pair differs as it’s called the sex chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes while males have one X and one Y chromosome.
And we all seem to have sprung from a single pair or prototype of human being according to Quran. “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” Surah Nisa.4:1.
Scientists seem to concur. “Exploration of the genome has shown that all humans, whatever their race, share the same set of genes,” states an article in Times, What Science Says about Race and Genetics. “Each gene exists in a variety of alternative forms known as alleles, so one might suppose that races have distinguishing alleles, but even this is not the case. A few alleles have highly skewed distributions but these do not suffice to explain the difference between races. The difference between races seems to rest on the subtle matter of relative allele frequencies. The overwhelming verdict of the genome is to declare the basic unity of humankind,” the article concludes.
Islam insists that all members in a Muslim community are brothers of one another and an Islamic society is one giant brotherhood or Ummah. “The believers are but brothers, so make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah that you may receive mercy.” Surat al-Hujurat 49:10. And, “The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give charity and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have mercy upon them, for Allah is Almighty and Wise.” Surat al-Tawba. 9:71.
Humanity can trace its origins based on variations in mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial DNA is passed on by mothers only to their children, so can be used to trace the female line. U.S. scientists back in 1987 decided to do exactly that. Two facts emerge from their study; one, DNA of every population in the world can be traced back to a single source in Africa, known as ‘Out-of-Africa’ theory and two, it was about 200,000 years ago. Present-day humans spread from northeast Africa to China, then went on to Australia, Europe, the Americas and Polynesia. In other words, the diversity in human beings is purely superficial – blood groups, appearance (or race), and cultural propensities all seem to spring from and depend on geography, distances, climate change, and inbreeding of our ancestors.
Again, Quran confirms the DNA trace evidence. “And mankind was not but one nation, but [then] they differed. And if not for a word that preceded from your Lord, it would have been judged between them [immediately] concerning that over which they differ.” Surah Younas. 10:19. “And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ. Except whom your Lord has given mercy, and for that He created them. But the word of your Lord is to be fulfilled that, ‘I will surely fill Hell with jinn and men all together.’” Surah Hud. 11:118-119. “And We have revealed to you, the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation, but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.” Surah Al-Maida. 5:48, and another one, “And surely this your nation is one nation and I am your Lord, therefore be careful (of your duty) to Me.” Surah Mu’minin. 23:52.
I know from Quran that God is filtering the good folk from the bad. “Does man think that he will be left without a purpose? (To wander around without an aim?).” Surah Al Qiamat.75:36. Only believers who were good in this life will inherit the “garden” or “heaven” on judgment day. “Verily! those who believe and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” Surah Bakar. 2:62. And, “And they say, ‘None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.’ These are their own desires. Say, ‘Produce your proof if you are truthful.’” Surah Bakar. 2:111.
The evildoers will be shunted off to another place called “hell” a place so desolate that sinners will ask God to send them back to earth for another test. Only, they will do better this time. He will not accept this offer. There are many verses to this effect in the Quran, here is one. “And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is Severe in punishment. When those who were followed, disown (declare themselves innocent of) those who followed (them), and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them. And those who followed will say: “If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown (declare ourselves as innocent from) them as they have disowned (declared themselves as innocent from) us.” Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire.” Surah Bakar. 2:165-167.
We need to choose our leaders wisely as a community. Blind obedience might prove fatal if we follow a wrong path behind some misguided trail blazer. As a community, all we are required to do is “worship God,” not forget our origins story, remember, that there is an afterlife and we will all return to God after our deaths. If we live a virtuous life based on our true natures and the code of conduct sent down by God, we will be fine. Any corruption of our true nature will result in us being thrown in fire at judgment day. It’s as simple as that. We were created for a higher purpose. “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” Surah Adh-Dhariyat.51:56. Folk who truly worship God deserve ‘Jannah’ (heaven). The rest are waste of space (and were just created to contrast with the good). They will be thrown in fire – God’s dustbin on judgment day.
In other words, there is no biological ‘evolution’ of humanity in recorded history. Historically as well, humanity keeps making the same mistakes, (‘history repeats itself,’) in spite of advances in science and technology, (as they say, one definition of insanity is to expect different results from doing the same thing again and again). We suddenly appeared on earth and we will suddenly disappear from earth (just like the dinosaurs) if the history of the world could get recorded objectively. Our disappearance might be attributed to climate change by skeptical observers, too! 😀
Mummies excavated from the Egyptian civilization or skeletons from Mohenjo-Daro or the dead recovered from the ruins of Pompeii do not confirm any differences in biology (of the folk born long before the birth of Christ) from our contemporaries. (This is the same for other species as well.). Some scientists agree. For example, “Instead of finding the gradual unfolding of life, what geologists of Darwin’s time, and geologists of the present day actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record;” comments Dr. David M. Raup, curator of geology, Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in an article titled “Conflicts between Darwin and Paleontology,” which appeared in the ‘Bulletin of the Field Museum of Natural History,’ Vol. 50, (January 1979), continuing, “that is, species appear in the sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence in the record, then abruptly go out of the record. And it is not always clear, in fact it’s rarely clear, that the descendants were actually better adapted than their predecessors. In other words, biological improvement is hard to find.”
Study the ruins of any ancient civilization if you believe in science and not the Quran. For example, study the lost city of Pompeii that was destroyed; flourishing city frozen and petrified in time destroyed suddenly in spite of their technology, art, culture, and prosperity, or research accounts of Mohenjo-Daro’s 44 skeletons that apparently carry the traces of nuclear destruction if you believe the scientists! They are quite puzzled by the amount of radioactivity found on those skeletons. If they are indeed the Ar-Rass or ‘people of the well’ mentioned in the Quran. In spite of their technological advances and feats of engineering, they were terminated suddenly. The most famous ancient civilization mentioned in the Quran is that of Nile, Egypt. The ruins (or their tombs to be exact) survive to this day. Their sins are not only recorded in Muslim folk lore, biblical folk lore is full of it, too. God sent Prophet Moses to the pharaoh and asked him to mend his ways. When he didn’t, he was drowned in the red sea. “The folk of Noah denied (the truth) before them, and so did the dwellers at Ar-Rass and tribe of Thamud. And the tribe of Aad and Pharaoh, and the brethren of Lot. And the dwellers of the grove, and the folk of Tubba, everyone denied their messengers, therefore, My threat took effect.” Surah Qaf. 50:12-14.
The Arabs of the 6th century Arabia had been eyewitnesses to God’s direct intervention (before the birth of Prophet Muhammad) in defense of Kabaa, at Mecca from Yemen’s invasion. “Have you considered how your Lord dealt with the possessors of the elephant? Did He not cause their war to end in confusion, and send down (to prey) upon them birds in flocks? Casting against them stones of baked clay, so He rendered them like straw eaten up.” Surah Feel.105: 1-5.
They couldn’t refute God, (and never did), they just made their idols, gods and goddesses, junior partners of God and they refuted an afterlife and judgment day, and told our prophet (BPUH) that he was mad, or a magician. They were blessed with sons, wealth, and status. God was happy with them and had blessed them. Why would they give up their way of life and protect the weak and give equal rights to them? It was survival of the fittest. The weak – slaves, widows, orphans, prisoners of wars, underprivileged and poor had no rights in their society. It was a fine system. It worked. Don’t forget they had never heard of Darwin and Machiavelli. These guys were not born yet. But the system of anarchy (and cut throat competition within the same species to promote natural selection) that’s described by these two fine gentlemen in their treatises – (or a practice described by ‘balance of power’ theorists in international relations to explain how various states operate in relation to each other) – prevailed even then. Guiding principles of ‘every man for himself,’ and ‘might is right,’ only the strong and victorious were to deserve the spoils, resources, riches and only they could decide the distribution of those resources. (By the way, only humanity likes to kill our own for sport, for advantage – to seize control of stuff that doesn’t belong to us – , for revenge, as punishment, and sometimes for no reason at all. Check out: How Human Violence Stacks Up Against Other Killer Animals, an article by National Geographic. The article cites a study which shows that 60 percent of mammal species are not known to kill one another at all. Another article posted on the website Psychology Today confirms the rate of ‘lethal violence’ is 7 times higher in human beings. You can check it out here: Humans Are Genetically Predisposed to Kill Each Other.).
Bottom line, Muslims believe that this is the age of Prophet Muhammad. Anything that happened before his advent is not really our business or responsibility even if its continuity of the same event. We believe as the Quran states, “The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the believers; they all believe in Allah, and His angels, and His books and His apostles; we make no difference between any of His apostles; and they say: we hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness do we crave and to thee is the eventual course.” Surah Bakar. 2-285.
Anything that happens after the advent of our prophet Muhammad is our responsibility. We will be held accountable. Unfortunately, we live in the Muslim ‘Dark Age.’ Our ‘golden age’ is long gone. The current Muslims suffer from a disease called ignorance, shame, and confusion. We are no longer in touch with our heritage, history, and scholarship.
It’s the western world that’s translating the works of our greats. And they unfortunately, view all translations from their own prism of history, religion, and knowledge. Alfarabi, a political scientist (among other things) translated into Arabic (synthesized and probably corrected) Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle’s theories for their so called renaissance is incorrectly translated into English from Arabic. I can instinctively tell because I had to study him for an exam last year and I could tell that no Muslim had translated his works into English from the original text. Otherwise, the treatment would have been totally different. Muslims need to go back and translate his work again from the original texts – luckily, this process has already started. The western modern political thought all started from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle based on Alfarabi’s translated works or commentaries. Unfortunately, something got lost in the translation somewhere. More on this later…
My thesis is pretty simple. Pakistan’s last 70 years have been spent in political confusion because our politics got hijacked by folk who have bought into the west’s half-baked theories that there is no God. There is only science. Science doesn’t believe in God (yet, since they are still gathering evidence.). We all came into existence by mere chance, courtesy of Darwin’s theory of natural selection (based on competition and on the survival of the fittest). We die and that’s the end. Immortality can be had by better health care, pursuit of wealth, sons, and a legacy. The purpose of life is ‘pursuit of happiness,’ (read: influence, status, and wealth). ‘Eat, drink, be merry, because tomorrow we die’ mentality.
Muslims don’t believe that. The purpose of our life is to live peacefully, by a strict code of conduct as has been outlined in the Quran and hadith, on the basic principle that all human beings are created equal and the only absolute authority is that of God, and to become self-actualized human beings. Living in mutual cooperation, collaboration, and co-existence, in complete harmony and team work like any other eco-system found in nature, contributing their individual gifts for a collective benefit. Only then humanity will advance and progress. Giving reign to negative emotions like jealousy, envy, hate, bullying or class privilege or misogyny or bigotry or tyranny of any variety for that matter or pursuit of false gods like wealth, sons, selfish desires, or pursuit of short-lived happiness, influence, power, and wealth will prove to be our destruction and result in total annihilation as can be testified by countless archaeological digs dotting our earth. Those ancient civilizations lived well. By Darwin’s criteria – survival of the fittest by natural selection. They should have survived and thrived. Instead, suddenly, they were struck down just like the dinosaurs. Going extinct with only fossilized remains to remember them by. “Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you. Until you visit the graveyards. No! You are going to know. Then no! You are going to know. No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty… You will surely see the Hellfire. Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty. Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure.” Surah Al-Takasur. 102:1-8.
No class, education, wealth, society or gender privilege is allowed in a Muslim society. There is no elite. Anarchy is the enemy. Rule of law, strict code of conduct, and social justice for all based on equality and above all, only God’s absolute authority is recognized. No oppression by one class of society is allowed over another- majority over minority or minority over majority – only doing the right thing as God is watching and recording and there will be strict accounting on judgment day. The rich to help the poor, the educated to help the illiterate, the well to help the sick. There is no elimination of the weak by the strong. No master or slave mentality in this society. As Quran states, “I swear by the time, most surely man is in loss, except those who believe and do Good, and enjoin on each other (to practice) truth and patience.” Surah Al Asr. 103:1-3.
Human eco-systems that can thrive are based on merit, equality, rule of law, and justice. This can be done and was done in our past as was demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the first four caliphs. They kick started human progress in our age. Their examples created the Muslim empires all over the world (Muslim golden age) which in turn jumpstarted the renaissance of the west.
Our forefathers understood this reality. They were not willing to assimilate in the melting pot of western political thought and Hindu caste system and chose to maintain their separate identity as a Muslim nation and Pakistan was established in 1947. Unfortunately, our founding fathers died too soon and the establishment trained and bred to rule for the British took over Pakistan. Fatima Jinnah was allowed to fall on the wayside (of history). If she had been elected, we might have been able to course correct. God only knows.
There are only two real problems in Pakistan. One, education is not widely available to the masses. Two, our educated don’t have access to a complete education (Western as well as Islamic). Either we are completely westernized, or, we go to the other extreme. Unfortunately, Islam teaches us moderation. We are supposed to be a middle nation. Not polarized people. “Thus, We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you. And We appointed the qiblah which ye formerly observed only that We might know him who follows the messenger, from him who turns on his heels. In truth it was a hard (test) save for those whom Allah guided. But it was not Allah’s purpose that your faith should be in vain, for Allah is full of Pity, Merciful toward mankind.” Surah Bakar. 2:143.
God is indeed active and watching us closely. Muslims believe that. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the last prophet in the long chain of prophets. Humanity will no longer be helped after this age even though, God is on our side, (humanity has something that God has not given any other creation before in the history of creation. He has ‘taught’ us ‘names of all things.’). Since we can’t provide education to all. We should at least make an effort to provide complete education to some, especially, the folk who are destined to govern us.
It’s still not too late. As a nation, we need to fix the curriculum that’s churning out our current crop of citizens, especially the bureaucrats – Aitcheson and Lawrence College are breeding brown sahibs who only believe in the survival of the fittest. Every man for himself and pursuit of (influence, wealth, power, and) ‘happiness.’ No remorse and no conscience. “And of mankind, there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day” while in fact they believe not.” Surah Bakar. 2:8. The establishment is too busy securing dual nationalities, scholarships for their kids to study abroad, and castles in the air (overseas) to think about their life after death.
Are we all willing to gamble our whole lives on a western theory that there is no God? Especially as we profess to know better – after all, we are the ‘people of the book.’