Divine Justice (Justice of God)

We believe that God is just and that justice is one of the divine attributes of beauty (J). The basis of this belief is the Qur’anic negation of any possibility of any injustice on the part of God, referring to him as being upright in justice. As it is said:

Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight;[1]

And again:

Verily Allah will not deal unjustly with man in aught: It is man that wrongs his own soul.[2]

Intellectual reason

In addition to the evidence provided by these verses, the intellect can discern the justice of God with utmost clarity. For justice is an attribute of perfection, while injustice is an attribute of imperfection; and the human intellect perceives that God possesses all possible perfections, and that he is exalted beyond any possibility of any imperfection or deficiency, both as regards his essence and his actions.

In principle, injustice and oppression are always consequences of one of these factors:
1) Ignorance- the one who acts unjustly is unaware of the ugliness of injustice;
2) Incapability and need- the agent of injustice is aware of the ugliness of injustice, but is unable to avoid injustice;
3) Unscrupulousness through foolishness- the agent is both aware of the ugliness of injustice and he is able to enact justice, but since he lacks wisdom, he has no scruples about committing unjust acts.

It is clear that none of these factors can have anything to do with the divine nature, all of Gods actions being just and wise.The following hadith corroborates this; Sheikh Saduq relates that a Jew came to the prophet (S) asking various questions, some of which was related to the question of divine justice. In explaining why God does not commit injustice, the prophet (S) said,

It is because God knows the ugliness of injustice and is not in any need of it.[3]

what does the justice of God mean?

Given the verses cited above, and many others of similar import in the Qur’an, all Muslims are at one over the issue of divine justice; but there is a certain difference of opinion regarding the question of what the justice of God actually means. Muslims have opted for one of the two following positions:

1) The human intellect distinguishes between good and evil actions, understanding the former to indicate the perfection of the agent, and the later the imperfection of the agent. Since God, by nature, possesses all ontological perfections, the intellect discloses that his acts must be perfect and pleasing, his most holy nature being devoid of all kind of evil. Consequently, God deals justly in his relation with mankind.
In Islamic theology this approach goes by the name of ‘the intelligibility of good and evil'(husn wa qubh aqli). The adherents of this approach are referred to as the ‘adliyya'[4], the forerunners of whom were the scholars of the Ahlulbayt school of thought (Shi’a).
1) إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَظْلِمُ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ ۖ وَإِن تَكُ حَسَنَةً يُضَاعِفْهَا وَيُؤْتِ مِن لَّدُنْهُ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
2) إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَظْلِمُ النَّاسَ شَيْئًا وَلَـٰكِنَّ النَّاسَ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ
3) Sheikh Saduq, kitab al-Tawhid, chapter 61. Hadith number 13.
4) the term ‘adlyya’ refers to both the Shi’I and the Mu’tazili schools which stress justice as one of their key theological principles.

What are the ways for drawing Allah’s (swt) affection and love?

Allah’s (swt) affection for people doesn’t mean what is normally understood from this concept; because it entails deficiencies that Allah (swt) is pure of and theology has proven false.  What Allah’s (swt) affection for others truly means is that this affection stems from His love for Himself.  Allah loves His own actions and since His creations are the results of His actions, He loves them as well.
Different things that draw Allah’s (swt) affection have been mentioned in the Quran, namely: patience, taqwa, repentance, generosity, purity, and jihad and struggle. If one obtains these virtues, Allah (swt) will be affectionate towards him.

Allah’s (swt) affection for His servants

Love is an existential relationship in which one of its most important causes is the love of oneself that can be found in everyone.  Even Allah (swt) is aware of His own essence and attributes and loves Himself because of them, as He does His creations, because they are all His doings and actions that stem from His essence.
The affection Allah (swt) has for His servants isn’t the normal affection that people might think and are acquainted with because what such affection necessitates is for Allah (swt) to undergo some certain feelings and react to things, and Allah (swt) is too high and faultless to be such.  So what Allah’s (swt) love comes from, is His love for Himself, as we are His actions and doings. What is meant by Allah (swt) loving Himself is that He comprehends and understands goodness. It is Allah’s (swt) awareness to His own beauty that makes Him show affection, and since it is His essence that He is aware of and completely comprehends that makes Him beloved (so from one perspective He loves, and from another perspective He is beloved). Also, since His actions aren’t separate from His essence and are one with it, they are also loved by Him, meaning that He loves His actions, and since His creations are the results of His actions, He has affection for them as well. [1]
Therefore, all things in this world are loved by Allah (swt) the Almighty. What we are asking of here though, is His affection for man in its special meaning, as will be clarified as we go on with this article.
In order to find out how we can be subject to Allah’s (swt) affection and what the way is to reach this rank, it is necessary to first get familiar with those who Allah (swt) is affectionate towards, so that we can learn from them what they did to reach such a rank so that we can take the same steps as well.
The Quran speaks of individuals who Allah (swt) was affectionate towards, namely:

Allah is Affectionate to those who are Patient and steadfast [2]

Allah indeed loves the God wary [3]

Indeed Allah loves those who trust in Him [4]

Indeed Allah loves the penitent and He loves those who keep clean [5]

 Allah Is Affectionate to the good-doers [6]

Indeed Allah loves those who fight in His way [7]

Allah is Affectionate to those who judge according to justice [8]

These were some of those whom Allah (swt) loves.
What it means for Allah (swt) to love His servant is that He removes the veils that cover his heart so that he can see Allah (swt) with his heart’s eyes, enabling him to reach ranks of closeness to Him. This decision on Allah’s (swt) behalf is what is considered His love towards him.  In other words, Allah’s (swt) love for His servant is the cleansing of his heart from everything other than Him and from all obstacles that stand between him and Allah (swt). [9]
The urafa (those who have reached high levels of nearness to Allah (swt)) believe that Allah’s (swt) affection for his servants has two forms:
1- Initial affection out of favor and grace which Allah (swt) grants to some of His servants, empowering them to achieve obedience of their lord.
2- A secondary or deserved affection that is the fruit of obedience and obtaining praiseworthy attributes that Allah (swt) likes and this is accomplished through one of two ways:
a) Qurbul-Nawafil (Nearness through mustahabb acts)
b) Qurbul-Fara’idh (Nearness through wajib acts) [10]
Clearly, one of the signs of Allah’s (swt) love for a servant is that he/she succeeds in obeying the lord by performing wajib and refraining from haram acts.

Ways of obtaining Allah’s love

1- The first step in achieving such a matter is to purify the heart of the love of this world and all things attached to it in an effort to reach Allah (swt). Such can never be accomplished unless one pushes the love of everything other than Allah (swt) out of the heart; the reason being that man’s heart is like a container that doesn’t have the capacity of accepting anything unless it has been emptied of all other contents. At the same time, Allah (swt) hasn’t given anyone two hearts (so that one can encompass all worldly desires and the other contains the love of Allah (swt)).[11]  The prophet of Islam (pbuh) says:

The love of this life and world and the love of Allah (swt) cannot gather in one heart together [at the same time]).

Clearly, if Allah (swt) is loved by a person, Allah (swt) will also love him.

2- Patience and steadfastness during hardship, bitter times, tragedies, etc. is another way of getting nearer to Allah (swt) which the Quran and Ahlul-Bayt have emphasized on dramatically.  This is why the urafa have considered those who bear the virtue of patience to be loved by Allah (swt). [13]

3- Following and obeying the prophet (pbuh) because of the verse of:

(Say, if you love Allah (swt), follow me [the prophet] and Allah (swt) will love you too)

is also another way of reaching nearness.[15]

In clarification of the relationship between obeying the prophet (pbuh) and the nearness of Allah (swt), Ibn Arabi says:

“The reason why Allah (swt) considers the obedience of the prophet (pbuh) a means of drawing attention and love is that he is the reflection and manifestation of Allah (swt) in the “mirror” of this world.”[16]

Therefore, from Ibn Arabi’s point of view, no one can be loved by Allah (swt) unless he follows the prophet (pbuh), because the prophet (pbuh) is also in complete obedience of Allah (swt). So, the key in drawing Allah’s (swt) love both in the prophet (pbuh) and in his followers is obedience.  It is obedience that makes the difference. [17]

4- Jihad and fighting in the way of Allah (swt) is yet another way of drawing Allah’s (swt) love. Those who struggle and fight in the way of Allah (swt) are truly loved by Him and Allah (swt) gives them His very special attention; because they have sacrificed their most dearest things for His and Islam’s sake.  They are present in all battles between good and evil, whether it is in physical battles or cultural ones against the enemies of Islam.  They are like dams that stand in the way of Shaytan and anything that wants to harm Islam; they don’t allow Allah’s (swt) religion to be threatened, and as a result of all these efforts and sacrifice, Allah (swt) loves them.

5- Tawbah or repentance; meaning to be sorry and regretful regarding one’s sins and moving towards and taking refuge in Allah’s (swt) endless grace and mercy, also draws Allah’s (swt) affection. Repentance makes the servant of Allah (swt) draw closer to Him, opening the doors of mercy to him.  When one repents, he becomes Allah’s (swt) friend and loved one.
The author of Tafsir Rahnama says:

“One of the reasons why the love of Allah (swt) towards the righteous and those who repent has been pointed to is to encourage them to repent and be righteous. [18]

6- Those who donate and give charity: Giving charity is also a means of drawing Allah’s (swt) love. In reality, giving charity shows one’s gratitude regarding the divine blessings he/she has and is a form of obedience as well. [19]

7- Faith and good deeds are another way as well, because divine rewards and salvation are all contingent upon faith and good deeds. Therefore, faith that isn’t accompanied by good deeds will not entail divine love and salvation.

8- Generosity and kindness also have an effect on drawing Allah’s (swt) affection. [22]

9- Purity: After expressing some forms of worship, such as wudhu, tayammum and ghusl, Allah (swt) discloses the reasoning behind them, which is that He wants us to become pure:

Allah does not desire to put you to hardship, but He desires to purify you.  [23]

Therefore, all commands that Allah (swt) issues, regardless of what the subject of those commands are, are issued for the purpose of purifying our hearts and souls. [24]

Ayatullah Javadi Amoli says:

“When it is said that Allah (swt) loves those who trust in Him, or those who act justly with others and so on, what the truth of the matter is that He loves the trust itself and loves justice and righteousness, hence the love for those who possess these virtues. [25]

Of course there are always chances that one who trusts in Allah (swt) or possesses the virtue of patience also possesses bad attributes that Allah (swt) doesn’t like, nevertheless, his good attributes will remain loved by Allah (swt). Nevertheless, one can transcend such a degree (where Allah (swt) only loves his attributes instead of the person himself) and reach a level in which Allah (swt) loves the person himself instead of only his attributes, and that is by achieving all levels of perfection and not wanting anything but Allah (swt) himself. When such takes place, one’s essence is beloved to Allah (swt), and his attributes are loved subsequently. [26]
When this happens and Allah (swt) has affection for a person himself, not just for his attributes, the whole universe will have affection for that person, because the universe follows Allah (swt) in His will. This rank is one of the highest one can achieve. The significance of Allah’s (swt) affection for a person far surpasses the significance of one’s affection for Allah (swt). [27]
If Allah (swt) is affectionate towards somenone, his actions will be Allah’s (swt) actions, his words will be Allah’s (swt), etc. and traits of Allah (swt) will manifest in him.  In the famous hadith of “Qurbul-Nawafil”, the prophet of Islam (pbuh) says that Allah (swt) says:

Nothing brings one closer to me than performing what I have obliged him to do, and he continues to draw nearer to me through mustahabb acts until I love him; if he ever reaches a point where I truly love him, I will become his tongue that he speaks with out of my special grace, I will become his sight in which he sees with out of my special grace. 

it is on this basis that the speech of the believer who is loved by Allah (swt) becomes like it is the speech of Allah (swt) himself.[28]
Also, when Allah (swt) becomes affectionate towards someone, He falls in love with him, as a hadith by the prophet (pbuh) says:

When Allah (swt) becomes affectionate of someone, He makes that person fall in love with Him, in addition to Allah (swt) loving him as well.  Then Allah (swt) goes on to say: “O servant of mine!  You are in love with me, and I also love you, whether you like it or not!”

To sum it all up, there are various ways of reaching a point in which Allah (swt) becomes affectionate towards one, which can all be summarized in doing what Allah (swt) has obliged and refraining from what he has prohibited.

[1] Mohammad Reza Kashefi, A’ine Mehrvarzi, pp. 99-102; Ibn Sina, Resaleye Eshq, pp. 4-6.
[2] Ale-Imran:146.
{وَاللهُ يُحِبُّ الصَّابِرِينَ}
[3] Ale-Imran:76.
{فَإِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ}
[4] Ale-Imran:159.
{إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ}
[5] Baqarah:222.
{إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ}
[6] Baqarah:195.
{إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ}
[7] Saff:4.
{إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ}
[8] Ma’idah:42.
{إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ}
[9] Seyyid Abdullah Shubbar, Kitabul-Akhlaq (translation), pp. 412-413.
[10] Fatemeh Tabatabai, Sukhane Eshq, p. 171.
[11] Seyyid Abdullah Shubbar, Kitabul-Akhlaq (translation), 414.
[12] Mohammad Rey Shahri, Mizanul-Hikmah, vol. 2, p. 228.
حب الدنيا و حب الله لا يجتمعان في قلب واحد
[13] Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, Futuhat Makkiyyah, vol. 2, p. 337.
[14] Ale-Imran:31.
قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللهُ
[15] Al-Mizan (translation), vol. 5, p. 633.
[16] Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, Futuhat Makkiyyah, vol. 2, p. 336.
[17] Fatemeh Tabatabai, Sukhane Eshq, p. 171.
[18] Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Tafsir Rahnama, vol. 7, p. 486.
[19] Ibid, vol. 2, p. 274.
[20] Ale-Imran:57.
[21] Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Tafsir Rahnama, vol. 2, p. 463.
[22] Baqarah:195.
[23] Ma’idah:6.
مَا يُرِيدُ اللهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهَّرَكُمْ
[24] Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Hekmate Ebadat, pp. 86-87.
[25] Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Fetrat dar Quran, vol. 12, p. 254.
[26] Ibid, p. 256.
[27] Ibid, p. 254.
[28] Fatemeh Tabatabai, Sokhane Eshq, p. 278.
[29] Ibid, p. 34.
اذا احب الله عبداً عشقه و عشق عليه، فيقول عبدي انت عاشقي و محبي و انا عاشق لک و محب لک، ان اردت او لم ترد

How can the belief in one God create brotherhood?

As children of one father have a feeling of brotherhood because all are the off-springs of one father, likewise, the creatures of One God are bound to have brotherly feelings towards each other because they are the creation of One Creator.

What is God’s purpose for man’s creation?

a) His ability to create called for Him to create.
b) The order of creation is one based on aim and wisdom.
c) The ultimate goal and aim of creating all things, is the emergence of man; the reason being that everything has been created for his purpose and he is the most noble of all creatures, as his creator is the most noble of all creators.
d) Since God (swt) is the Transcendent and All-Sufficient, being of no need to anything or anyone whatsoever, the purpose of creation, regardless of what it is, is surely only to the benefit of man himself.
e) The main purpose of creating man, is for him to reach the climax of perfection, true prosperity and salvation, and to find way to the realm of Malakut; all of which can only be accomplished through acquaintance, knowledge, servitude and worship that comes from awareness towards the Lord.

It has been proven that each and every one of Allah’s (swt) names and qualities, both the ones that are one with His essence (as a result of the “simplicity” of his existence), such as His knowledge, power, eternity, ownership and authority, and the ones that have to do with what He does (such as lordship, creatorship, mercy and will) which are also known as His “qualities of action”, are all qualities that He possesses through which He is continuously bestowing His grace and mercy. One of those qualities, which is the quality of creatorship, calls for Him to continuously create, for “Every day He is engaged in some work.” [1]
Another matter that must be paid attention to is that Allah (swt) is the All-Wise and none of His actions are pointless, therefore it can be concluded that the order of creation has no defects and is one with aims and goals; aims that are in line with high divine goals.
According to the Quran, the creator of all creatures didn’t create them in falseness and neither as a means of play and entertainment, but His creation was on the basis of truth and even the smallest particles in this world are following an important goal and none of them are idle and pointless.

Of course, it must be noted that the main and ultimate goal for all of creation, was the creation of man and to be frank, Allah (swt) created everything in order to create man, and that is the meaning of being the most noble of all creatures. The same goes with man’s creator; He is the most noble of all creators, because there is no one like Him in the entire universe. In a “qudsi” hadith it has been stated: “Oh son of Adam, I have created everything for you and created you for myself.” [2]

Having mentioned these few introductory points, we will begin the main discussion:
No matter what the purpose of creation is, one thing is for sure, and that is that it is solely to the benefit of man himself, not to the benefit of Allah (swt), for he is the All-Sufficient and Transcendent and it is man and all other creatures who are in true need of Him.

“O mankind! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah, and Allah He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable” [3]

“And Moses said, “If you should disbelieve, you and whoever is on the earth entirely – indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy.” [4]

In his famous sermon of Hamam, Imam Ali (as) says:

“Allah the Immaculate was in no need of the obedience and servitude of His servants when creating them and was immune to their disobedience, because the sinning of sinners does Him no harm and the obedience of the obedient does Him no good or benefit [5] (and the true reason for why He has ordered everyone to obey Him and forbidden them from disobedience, is their own benefit).

Concerning the goal behind man’s creation, various statements can be found in the Quran, each pointing to one of the dimensions of this goal; verses such as:

“I did not create the jinn and the humans except that they may worship Me” [6],

“He, who created death and life that He may test you [to see] which of you is best in his/her actions” [7] (a test mixed with growth and training, resulting in man’s development and  perfection),


“Had your Lord wished, He would have made mankind one community; but they continue to differ, except those on whom your Lord has mercy and that is why He created them” [8].

As you can see, the common word that can be found in all of these statements and others is the growth, development and perfection of man. Therefore one can conclude that the main purpose and final goal for the creation of man, is for him to reach the peak of perfection and salvation and to obtain the highest human qualities, which all depend on his knowledge, servitude and worship of Allah (swt) mixed with his insight on Allah’s (swt) high rank and that it is He who is the only one who deserves to be worshipped, for “Ubudiyyah (the servitude/worship of Allah (swt)) is a valuable gem whose inside is rububiyyah (lordship).” [9], and whosoever possesses this rububiyyah, will have dominion over all things other than Allah (swt).

In a hadith by Imam Sadiq (as) we read that: “Imam Husein (as) approached his companions and said:

“Allah (swt) the immaculate didn’t create His servants except for them to know Him, when they know Him, they worship Him, and when they worship Him, they become free of worshipping anyone other than Him.” [10]

[1] Rahman:29.
[2] يابن آدم خلقت الاشياء لأجلک و خلقتک لأجلي
Al-Manhajul-Qawi, vol.5, p.516; Ilmul-Yaqin, vol.1, p.381.
[3] Fatir:15.
[4] Ibrahim:8.
[5] اما بعد، فإن الله سبحانه و تعالي خلق الخلق حين خلقهم غنياً عن طاعتهم، آمناً من معصيتهم، لأنه لاتضره معصية من عصاه ، و لاتنفعه طاعة من أطاعه
Nahjul-Balaghah, Sermon of Hamam.
[6] Dhariyat:56.
[7] Mulk:2.
[8] Hud:118-119.
[9] العبودية جوهرة کنهها الربوبية
Misbahul-Shari’ah fi Haqiqatil-Ubudiyyah.
[10] ان الله عزوجل ما خلق العباد الا ليعرفوه، فإذا عرفوه عبدوه، فإذا عبدوه استغنوا بعبادته عن عبادة من سواه
Ilalul-Sharaye’, quoted by Al-Mizan, vol.18, p.423.

I believe in God and pray to Him, but sometimes I don’t know how to picture him. This matter is bothering me.

Essentially, picturing God and moving towards embodying and picturing God is wrong, because God isn’t physical and cannot be pictured or imagined. God is a reality and at the same time, in all realities. He is One, but not like any other thing. He is present everywhere, and sees everything, but cannot be imagined or pictured.  Man can only see Him with the eyes of the heart, not by picturing Him.

Our narrations tell us that some would come to the imams and ask about how the knowledge of God is. They would reply: “This is wrong, don’t go after these things.” Therefore, we shouldn’t go after picturing God and this is not a straight path. One should strive to develop a strong and intimate relationship with Him and find Him in his heart. The times when we have a good spiritual feeling, or when our heart is broken, or our attention is drawn to Him, are all times of special connection to Him. We must know the value of these precious moments. Of course, Allah is always by our side and with us; it is us who forget Him.


I believe in God and pray to Him, but sometimes I don’t know how to picture him. This matter is bothering me.

Essentially, picturing God and moving towards embodying and picturing God is wrong, because God isn’t physical and cannot be pictured or imagined. God is a reality and at the same time, in all realities. He is One, but not like any other thing. He is present everywhere, and sees everything, but cannot be imagined or pictured.  Man can only see Him with the eyes of the heart, not by picturing Him.

Our narrations tell us that some would come to the imams and ask about how the knowledge of God is. They would reply: “This is wrong, don’t go after these things.” Therefore, we shouldn’t go after picturing God and this is not a straight path. One should strive to develop a strong and intimate relationship with Him and find Him in his heart. The times when we have a good spiritual feeling, or when our heart is broken, or our attention is drawn to Him, are all times of special connection to Him. We must know the value of these precious moments. Of course, Allah is always by our side and with us; it is us who forget Him.

Is it possible for humankind to know Allah (awj)? If yes, to what degree and what is the value of such knowledge?

The human being can attain knowledge of Allah (awj) through various ways. This knowledge can come about through the medium of the intellect or of the heart. At times he-as in the case of the sage and the philosopher-reasons and understands through conceptual knowledge and with recourse to sense perception and the intellect, whilst at other times he-as in the case of the gnostic-through immediate intuition, gazes at the Beloved, witnessing Him directly.

Knowledge of Allah (awj) is analogous to knowledge of a fire. An individual at times realizes the existence of a fire by witnessing its smoke from afar. At other times, he might realize its existence by seeing the fire itself. Yet at other times, he might comprehend and feel the fire as if a part of his body is burned by it.

The human being can attain knowledge of Allah (awj) through various ways. This knowledge can come about through the medium of the intellect or of the heart. At times he-as in the case of the sage and the philosopher-reasons and understands through conceptual knowledge and with recourse to sense perception and the intellect, whilst at other times he-as in the case of the gnostic-through immediate intuition, gazes at the Beloved, witnessing Him directly.

In any case, in both ways-i.e. conceptual knowledge and immediate knowledge-sometimes the path, the traveller, and the goal are one and the same, as when one concludes the existence of Allah (awj) by reflecting on Divine signs and the existing order pervading them. In other instances, only the traveller and the path might be identical, as when one comprehends Allah (awj) through understanding his own soul. The path and the goal can also be the same, as where one comprehends Allah (awj) by contemplating on the Divine Names and Attributes.

Of these types, the case where the path and the goal are identical, where one spiritually experiences what he has conceptually realized is of great value, for the goal is to see and to taste.

In the Qur’anic verses and the corpus of narrations these three ways have been articulated. It has especially been emphasized that nothing is more evident than Divine existence and manifestation and hence He must be reached through Himself. He is the Light, the apprehension of which is needless of anything else. If we are deprived of seeing Him, it is because of the veil of our negligence that covers our conceptual and immediate knowledge – we lack awareness of our knowledge.

In order to attain this complex knowledge (‘ilm-e murakkab [i.e. awareness of knowledge]) we must remove the veils of darkness and of light from our souls. It is for this reason that it has been said that knowing Allah (awj) is innate and inherent to the human being, and as such, the arguments provided in proving the existence of Allah (awj) and the knowledge of Him serve only as reminders, not proofs. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the core of Divine Essence and Attributes are neither comprehensible to the philosopher nor to the gnostic. However, other aspects of the Divine are accessible to both the intellect of the philosopher and the spiritual experience of the gnostic.

Is God so powerless that He cannot do any act and there should be someone else to carry out His tasks?

The claim and presupposition in this question is that God does the act of which He is capable and if there is an act which He does not have the power to do, He uses certain means to carry them out and achieve His ends. However, since we know that God is All-Powerful, it is unacceptable to say that He carries out His task using any means. Whoever claims that God does an act through the means, his claim is void and totally unacceptable because such a claim implies God’s powerlessness.

Such an argument is incorrect and the fallacy used in it is very conspicuous because we see very clearly that many things in the world serve as causes for other things while they themselves are in need of other causes. Thus, they do not have an independent existence of their own. Denying such a clear principle amounts to skepticism, and there is no one to reject the permeation of such a principle in his daily life.

The fact that God, the Almighty, conducts the affairs of the world by way of certain causes does not in any way mean that He Himself is unable to do them. That is because the causes and whatever attached to them do not have any existence of their own. In fact, their existence is pure dependence on God. Therefore, God’s actions irrespective of whether they are related to this world or to the unseen matters are conducted through their special causes which on the whole imply God’s wisdom not any deficiency in His essence.

As we see in nature, human needs are fulfilled through their natural causes (causes which are not independent in themselves) in the same way as the spiritual matters are conducted through their special causes. We know that some of the divine actions are done through the angels with God’s permission. This is not in contradiction with God’s power and authority. If no cause were supposed to come into existence, even dependently (dependence in causality), then no being would have existed other than God. That is because it would not have been possible for any being other than God to exist. That is because the existence of every other being is derivative or relative as compared to the real existent.

The universe and whatever is in it are the manifestations and epiphany of God’s power. He is Powerful over all things but divine power does not mean that God’s actions are done without their special causes. In fact, God, the Sublime, has created the universe on the basis of wisdom and every unseen or seen, visible and invisible, creational and worldly act takes place through its special cause. The angels, for instance, are tasked to conduct many affairs of this world. Also, in the physical world, every natural phenomenon has its special natural cause. For example, if a person feels hungry, he needs food to eat. Although every matter ends up in God and ‘there is neither strength nor power except through Allah'[1], the food and water in the natural life is a means for survival. These and all other similar instances do not mean that God is powerless to do an action without an intermediary. In fact, it means that man’s material needs are fulfilled through their material causes. Additionally, doing an action through these means does not mean that whoever uses these means has committed a polytheistic act and denied the One God. Indeed, if he considers them as independent causes, he can be regarded a polytheist. The same meaning is applicable to spiritual causes including guidance, conveyance of spiritual graces etc.

Therefore, the principle of causation and the fact that everything comes into being through its special cause are so clear that they do not require any reasoning. Given this fact, it is an accepted belief in the religion of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) that God has not relegated the affairs of this world to their natural causes. There is no doubt that every single cause is a way through which God’s will is implemented and materialized. Even those actions which a human being does of his free will take place only when they are willed by God. No one acts independently of God because there is no independent and fully effective cause other than God. Whoever at any level believes in the effectiveness and independence of other causes is a polytheist according to Islamic beliefs.

Based on the foregoing explanation, God’s actions are always done through their causes which are not independent and which are under the effect of God’s power and will. In this general principle, there is no difference between material causes such as fire which burns and unseen or spiritual causes like the causality of the angels who contrive the affairs of the world and also between volitional actions and non-volitional actions. This is the meaning of complete monotheism (Tawhid) not the nullification or invalidation of the principle of causation and volition.

When it comes to the belief in Tawassol or mediation of an Imam or a perfect human being or a saint – in Shiite religion or in any other religions – what is important to be mentioned in the first place and which should be the basis for this attitude is that the need for an Imam, guide and intermediary does not require self-consciousness towards it. We know that all human beings are naturally inclined to look for a perfect human being so as to symbolize him or to find the truth which he has lost through love of him and tawassol to him. A perfect human being is named “Imam” in Shia religion.

The Holy Quran says:

O you who have believed, fear Allah and seek the means [of nearness] to Him and strive in His cause that you may succeed. [2]

In reality, this verse guides those believers who truly believe in God and worship him sincerely. The verse implies that piety and nearness to God is easier to achieve through its means and causes.

The next point to mention and that should be kept into account is that Tawassol (invocation) and seeking the help of the Prophet (s) or the Imam (a.s.) never means that they act independently of God. Similarly, none of the causes existing in this universe should be considered as effective independently of God, or else it would be shirk (polytheistic). Generally speaking, there are some Muslims who, as the Quran says, have not attained the status of perfect faith [3] and a real monotheist. Perhaps, such people may, while relying on material causes, associate a partner for God.

Also, when it comes to spiritual causes such as doing good deeds, availing oneself of a guide and instructor, turning to the Prophet and divine leaders and love of them which is the topic under discussion, it should be said that if these are to be considered as causes, they can be effective to the degree of an individual’s belief in the One God and to the amount of his sincerity and love of Him.

Therefore, the principle of monotheism in Islam is an unquestionable principle but the point is that these same causes and our sincere spiritual deeds acquaint us with the reality of monotheism. True belief in the One God is not achievable by mere claim; one cannot be a monotheist and still consider other causes as independent and resort to them with such an attitude and in some other cases criticize to the effect that paying attention to the Imam, prophet and saint is dichotomous with God’s power and monotheism. The fact is that, a perfect human being in practice is considered to be a basic element [rukn] of monotheism because a perfect man is one who does not consider himself a real existent; he is the symbol of being a monotheist. In fact, the claim of being a monotheist, if it is to be assessed practically in a divine scale, does not fit anyone other than a perfect human being. Insofar as a Muslim does not detach himself from everything, he is a polytheist (in a relative term though) and his belief in God is imperfect. Therefore, the argument about monotheism (Tawhid) is one thing and its actualization is another. The Quran says:

“And most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him!” [4]

[1]لاحول ولا قوّة الا بالله
[2] Al-Maedah, 35
{يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللهَ وَ ابْتَغُوا إِلَيْهِ الْوَسيلَةَ}
[3] “The dwellers of the desert say: We believe. Say: You do not believe but say, We submit; and faith has not yet entered into your hearts.” [Al-Hujuraat: 14]
[4] Yusuf, 106
{وَ ما يُؤْمِنُ أَکْثَرُهُمْ بِاللهِ إِلاَّ وَ هُمْ مُشْرِکُونَ}

If Allah (awj) is omniscient, why does He need to test mankind?

As implied by the question, because Allah (awj) is omniscient, the purpose of His tests is not to unveil something hitherto unknown. Rather, the Qur’an, and ahadith suggest that these tests serve two purposes. First, they comprise a Divine precedent (sunnah ilahiyyah [1]) that is in turn based on another Divine precedent that can be termed “universal guidance.” In particular, Allah (awj) wishes that mankind, by obeying the divine law (shari’ah) and struggling through the various circumstances that he encounters in life, will blossom from potentiality to actuality, and will thereby attain the level of perfection that has been intended for him. One of the terms that is used for such tests in Islamic literature is fitnah (in this sense this term denotes a “crucible”). Fitnah literally refers to the process of smelting by which gold is purified. In one hadith it is said that people are tested the way gold is tested. The mettle of man is gold ore that is purified in the crucible of Divine tests and guidance. It should be kept in mind though, that in the course of such tests, just as good qualities reach their perfection in the believers, bad qualities also develop to the utmost in disbelievers.

The second purpose that these tests serve is to awaken man from his sleep of heedlessness. The Qur’an, explains that one of the purposes of tragedy and disaster is to test man and thereby jar him from his stupor of heedlessness. In a way, tragedy in man’s life serves the same purpose as the ridges that are embossed on some modern motorways and highways that are meant to wake drivers during the monotony of highway driving so they do not fall asleep at the wheel.

There are, in reality, two types of Divine will at play here. One is called the existential will (al-iradah al-takwiniyyah) and the other is called the legislative will (al-iradah al-tashri’iyyah). Allah’s (awj) existential will is that through Divine tests, both believers and disbelievers be able to actualize their good and bad potentials. On the other hand, his legislative will is that only good potentials be actualized.

Can other than Allah (swt) be aware of the unseen, and if it is possible, then why has it been allocated solely to Allah (swt) in surah Luqman?

Gheyb means for something to be hidden from one’s senses, and shahadah means openness and visibility. One thing can be gheyb for a person, while being shahadah for another. It depends on the individual’s existential boundaries and how much of the existential world they cover and encompass in knowledge. But keeping in mind the limited amount of encompassment of other than Allah (swt) and at the same time, His complete encompassment of everything, one can conclude that it is only Allah (swt) who knows of the unseen, because He is the only one to encompass everything in this existential world and nothing leaves His existential boundaries, and no one and thing can keep itself unknown and hidden from Him [even if it is of the unseen].

Therefore, He is the only one who has complete knowledge of both the gheyb and shahadah, and in reality, everything is considered shahadah to Him; no entity possesses such a level of knowledge. As for others, if they want to be aware of some of the unseen, it depends on their existential capacity and comprehension; they might become aware of some things while remaining totally uninformed or learned at a very low level regarding other secrets.

Of course, it must be noted that allocating knowledge of the unseen to Allah (swt) doesn’t mean that others can’t learn of some of these secrets as a result of their worthiness and through Allah’s (swt) teaching. This is a blessing that Allah (swt) bestows upon certain chosen servants of His, such as the prophets and apostles. This is why we see the prophets speaking of revelation, which is considered of the unseen, or we see them, foretelling future incidents that actually do take place at the time they have predicted.

Keeping in mind what was said, one won’t see any contradiction between verses and hadiths that say knowledge of the unseen only belongs to Allah (swt), and verses and hadiths that assert that the prophets and imams were also aware of the unseen. Harmony can be established between these two groups of verses and traditions like so:

1- When it is said that knowledge of the unseen only belongs to Allah (swt), it means that it originally belongs to Him and He is independent in possessing it, while others are dependent on Him and His teaching for learning from it.

2- It is only Allah (swt) who knows every detail of the unseen, while others can only become aware of some of it and only to some extent.

3- Allah (swt) is aware of all secrets of the unseen at the very moment, while others aren’t aware right now, although it is possible for them to learn in the future and will only become aware if Allah (swt) wills and informs them. Imam Sadiq (as) has been narrated saying:

“Whenever the imam wishes to know something, Allah (swt) teaches him.”

As for verse 34 of surah Luqman, it says:

“Indeed the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah. He sends down the rain, and He knows what is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware”.

There are two interpretations regarding this verse:

1- The five things mentioned in the verse, are all of the unseen that no one is aware of other than Allah (swt) and those whom he wishes to know. Sending down rain doesn’t just refer to its pouring down from the sky that weather forecasters can foretell, what is meant is precisely where, when and how much it is going to rain; such knowledge is only in Allah’s (swt) possession and the only thing others can do is to try to guess each of them. The same goes for the fetus in the womb; what Allah (swt) means isn’t that He only knows of its gender, what He is saying is that He is aware of everything pertaining to it: its gender, health, physical and spiritual traits and even its potentials and whether it will grow to be one of those who reaches salvation, or damnation. Clearly, such knowledge is only in Allah’s (swt) possession. Now, if there are hadiths that say that the imams bear some of this knowledge, it is because there is no contradiction between having a portion of this knowledge through Allah’s (swt) teaching, and the detailed knowledge of it belonging only to Allah (swt). Add to that the fact that they aren’t independent in possessing this knowledge; it has been granted to them by Allah (swt) in an amount that He sees fit.

2- The other explanation of this verse is that in this verse, only the part that speaks of the time of the Day of Judgment is considered of the unseen knowledge, and Allah (swt) considers Himself to be the only one to know of it, and as the verse goes on, its tone changes saying that Allah (swt) sends rain and is aware of what is in the wombs of mothers, without mentioning anything about this knowledge only belonging to Him. On this basis, if in the future it becomes possible to precisely pinpoint where it is going to rain and when and its amount, there will be no contradiction with the verse. Also, in the fourth and fifth part of the verse, it has been stressed that no one knows of exactly where and when he/she will die. This not knowing is in exact accordance with the law of nature that says no one essentially knows of the unseen and future events and incidents. Nevertheless, this doesn’t disprove that Allah (swt) may sometimes inform some people of the future and as to where and when they will die.