a dialogue with an atheist by sheikh al-ghazali
this is a dialogue between sheikh mohammed al-ghazali and an atheist. the sheikh, may allah have mercy on him, published it in his book “qaza'ef al-haq” (righteousness projections).
the dialogue narrated by al-ghazali
he can observe the creations of the almighty creator manifested in plants, flowers and fruits. he can see how the dark hard soil cracks to bring out the bright and pale colors flourishing on leaves and branches of trees that are rich with basils and jasmines. he can also see how everything is harvested and turned into clothes, food for people and animals. then, ruins and rubbish become new beautiful plants varied in taste and look, filling the fields and gardens. who created all these?
my companion answered without much reason as if he is drunk:the land created them.
i said:the land ordered the sky to rain, the sun to rise, the leaves to store carbon and produce oxygen, the grains to contain fat, sugar, odor and starch??
he said:i mean nature in the earth and the sky.
i said:the earth, sky and what is between all cooperated to create each grain in the rice dish in your lunch, then what is the role of each component in this creation? who is responsible to make apples sweet and pepper hot, is it the soil of the earth or the rain of the sky?
he said:i don’t know and knowing is worthless.
i said:does not it need a mind to plan and a will to sort? where is the mind that created and the will that changed the manure piles or the beams?
he said:the world was developed according to evolution and we do not know the source or details.
i said:i will explain to you what you are saying! you are saying that long time ago, there were a number of blind disordered elements scattered in the universe, then with the passage of time and constant meeting, these elements had a unique chance that will never reoccur. a primitive living cell emerged then it reproduced rapidly and developed into the world we see today!! this is the ignorance that you called science, and you are not embarrassed of insisting on facing the world boldly with it!! you are saying that complicated mathematical calculations were solved automatically. you are saying that fine, tiny and great creatures have lives because of a chance they seized and it will never come back!! this is just to escape from believing in the great creator.
he said enraged:if there were a creator as you said, would the world be filled with tragedies and pain like today? would we have seen obscene richness enjoyed by idiots and strangling poverty suffered by smart people? would we have seen sick children who die and disfigured people who live in pain?
i said:now i know that what i expected is right. your disbelief is due to psychological and social problems more than important intellectual issues!!
there are people who believe or disbelieve according to what confronts them whether hardship or ease. almighty allah says: “and among mankind is he who worships allah as it were, upon the very edge (i.e. in doubt); if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a trial befalls him, he turns back on his face (i.e. reverts back to disbelief after embracing islam). he loses both this world and the hereafter. that is the evident loss.” (al-hajj: 11)
he said:we are not selfish as you describe us. we do not feel angry or content according to our own circumstances only. we just look into the circumstances of people and then we issue our judgment that you refuse now...
i said:your problem is that you do not know the nature of the present life or the functions of people in it. it is a temporary transition to the final destination. so, the present life is a passageway, and in order to cross it to one of the two conclusions, the human has to experience tribulations that would polish his metal and discipline his habits. tribulations are various and diverse, and when the believers succeed in overcoming the obstacles filling their passageway, keeping their relation to allah clear no matter how many difficulties and distresses they face, they will return to almighty allah who will say to them: “my worshippers! no fear shall be on you this day, nor shall you grieve” (az-zukhruf: 68)
he said:what is the point of this tribulation?
i said:the person may stay awake for nights for knowledge and science acquisition. his body might sweat asking for rest after exerting a lot of efforts, but he keeps struggling to achieve his aim. big posts are usually given to the experienced people who faced difficulties and succeeded in dealing with them. if this is the prevailing law in the present life on earth, why is it strange then if it is the right struggle for the expected immortality?
he answered sarcastically:is this your philosophy to justify the tragedies that happen in people's lives to make people forbear them?
i said:i will tell you – in detail – about the evils you complain about. these pains are divided into two sections: one is destined by allah to occur in the present life, it is part of it and the message of the human is not complete without experiencing theses pains and tests. it is as abbas al aqad explained: “a solidarity between the parts of the universe, as there is no meaning of bravery without danger, no generosity without need, no patience without hardships and no virtue without vice that opposes and illustrates it .. “this can be applied on our sensual pleasures, and on our psychological and intellectual needs. we do not know the pleasure of being full unless we endure hunger, we do not feel sodden unless we experience thirst. we would not enjoy a beautiful scene unless it is in our nature to be disturbed by an ugly one”.. this explanation of the nature of the present life also includes the fact that almighty allah tests each person of what concords with his nature and what agrees with his personality and environment. people vary to a great degree; a person might scream complaining of what might not bother another at all. allah has a divine reason for putting his creations into such adversities. what is important is that the incidents of the private and public life is ruled according to a comprehensive frame of doubtless divine justice. the second section of evils that you complain about is your fault and the fault of devious people like you.
he said with dismay:i and my likes have nothing to do with the chaos in the world? how can you accuse us of being the reason?
i said:no, you are responsible for it. almighty allah puts a good system for the world; it is as system that guarantees its happiness and balance. it is a system in which the strong is to help the weak, the rich to aid the poor. allah warns against following desires, committing oppressions and transgressing boundaries and rights. allah promises the goodness of the present life and the hereafter to the ones who adheres to this system: “whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer (of islamic monotheism) verily, to him we will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and we shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. paradise in the hereafter).” (an-nahl: 97) so, if people violate the boundaries, cut what allah ordered them to link, cooperate to do evil instead of goodness, then how come they complain about harvesting what they planted? most of the evils surrounding the world are due to going astray and not following the right path. almighty allah says in the qur’an: “whosoever desires (with his deeds) the reward of the hereafter, we give him increase in his reward, and whosoever desires the reward of this world (with his deeds), we give him thereof (what is written for him), and he has no portion in the hereafter. and whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. and he pardons much.” (ash-shura: 30)
abu bakr al-siddiq marched an army to fight the tribes that refused to pay zakat after the death of the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him). his decision was right because this way he asserted the rights of the poor, curbed selfishness and reinforced islam. when other rulers do not follow abu bakr, then how come critics blame predestinations for causing miseries in life?!
he said:what do you mean?
i said:i mean that allah’s laws are enough to relief people, but instead of blaming who suspended them you have the nerve to dare the creator by accusing his religion and orders.
some people are mean by cursing heavens if the earth is corrupt. they should do their duty in forming chaos and asserting righteousness and stop babbling unjust words about religion and almighty allah.
you, materialists, are sick and your consciousness and thoughts need extensive treatment.
i asked myself after this long dialogue: diseases are about to become epidemics, do we have people to cure the wounds and treat diseases or the problems we have in muslim preacher will remain suffocating?
source: “qaza'ef al-haq” (righteousness projections)