Is religion compatible with politics?

A religion that has come in order to explain the path to felicity from now until the end of time cannot remain indifferent to a matter that all societies need, that is, government. In other words, the rules and regulations of Islam are such that they depend on a government and without which Islam cannot remain alive.

Imam ‘Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a.s) has said the following in one of his statements regarding the necessity of an Islamic government:

We have not found any nation that has survived without a leader. This is because the regulation and management of their religious and worldly needs depends upon a responsible leader. It is far from the wisdom of Allah to leave His servants without a leader while He well knows that they need a ruler who would give the society structure and stability. A leader that would lead the people in war against the enemies, distribute the wealth amongst them, lead the Friday prayers, and protect the oppressed against the tyrants.” 1

From another point of view the rules and regulations of Islam are such that they depend on a government and without which, Islam cannot remain alive. Because of this Imam ‘Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a.s) has referred to the Friday and congregational prayers being conducted by the leader. In another statement he says:

If Allah had not placed a reliable and trustworthy leader amongst the people, the religion of Allah would surely have finished, the laws of Allah would have changed, innovations would have arisen in religion, irreligious people would have changed the faith of Allah and added and subtracted things from it, and doubts would have arisen about Islam amongst the Muslims.”

For this very reason it was well known amongst the Muslims, and even amongst the non-Muslims, that Islam has a specific system of government and that the government of the Noble Prophet (a.s) in Medina was a clear example of such a system.

In the year 1343 ah, ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Razzaq, in his book Islam and the Principles of Government, denied the Prophetic government and claimed that the Prophet Muhammad (a.s) was simply a prophet sent by Allah (awj) to the scholars of the world and that he in no way took steps towards the formation of a government. He did this at a time when Kamal Ataturk rejected the government of the Ottomans and laid the foundations of his secular government.

At the same time in Egypt, the followers of the caliphate chose Sultan Fuad as the leader of the Muslims and placed him in the seat of power. The fact that these events occurred concurrently shows that ‘Abd al-Razzaq was influenced by the secular thoughts of the West and wrote these matters by taking inspiration from the writings of secular philosophers and political scientists. ‘Abd al-Razzaq claimed two things:

1. What the Noble Prophet (a.s) established in Medina was not a government.

2. What was set up in Medina was not religious.

In order to prove the first point he places emphasis on the fact that what the Noble Prophet (a.s) created in Medina did not have any of the qualities of a government.

In order to prove the second point he says that the degree and stature of Prophethood spurns politics and government.

In order to answer the first point we must pay attention to the fact that the consequence of holding that a specific form of government should be the standard by which we judge if something is a government or not would be that none of the nations of the past have ever had any governments. Therefore a more general definition of government must be given so that it can be true for various forms of government. Such a definition can be put in the following way: Government is a collection of organized powers that has as its duty the management of the affairs of society.

In this definition, government is comprised of various governmental structures like the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government. According to this definition of government  then, that which the Noble Prophet (a.s) created in Medina was a government in the real sense of the word since he created an organized power structure that had as its responsibility the management of the affairs of society. From the time of the Prophet until now, many books have been written regarding the management system of his government.

Now when we pay attention to the following points, the religious nature of the Prophet’s government will become clear:

1. The rules and regulations of Islam are such that without a government, they cannot be implemented; for example rulings pertaining to the executive, judicial, or monetary systems of Islam.

2. We have proofs to show that the rule and running of the affairs of society are the prerogative of the Noble Prophet (a.s).

3. If Prophethood were really at odds with government then why would the Noble Prophet (a.s) take steps towards the creation of a government? Why would he waste his time and energy in this regard? If it were asked that does this “misappropriation” of effort not show irresponsibility, it would be answered that the Noble Prophet (a.s) started this work for the propagation of religion and in order to fulfil his apostleship. This answer shows the interrelationship of religion and politics from one point of view. Of course it does not answer the question as to why he himself took the establishment of religion into his own hands, while he could easily have placed the responsibility in the hands of some other reliable friend like Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s).
In any case, we can really only understand and criticize what ‘Abd al-Razzaq wrote over 70 years ago-something existing in its various forms in the Muslim world today-when we examine the context and culture in which this thought took shape, viz. the West. In order to understand the philosophy and culture of the West, we must have a look-though cursory-at the history of Christian thought that forms the cultural matrix of the Western world.

[1] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 6, pp. 60-61
فَإِنْ قَالَ فَلِمَ جَعَلَ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ وَ أَمَرَ بِطَاعَتِهِمْ قِيلَ لِعِلَلٍ كَثِيرَةٍ مِنْهَا أَنَّ الْخَلْقَ لَمَّا وَقَعُوا عَلَى حَدٍّ مَحْدُودٍ وَ أُمِرُوا أَنْ لاَ يَتَعَدَّوْا ذَلِكَ الْحَدَّ (تِلْكَ الْحُدُودَ) لِمَا فِيهِ مِنْ فَسَادِهِمْ لَمْ يَكُنْ يَثْبُتُ ذَلِكَ وَ لاَ يَقُومُ إِلاَّ بِأَنْ يَجْعَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ فِيهِ أَمِيناً يَمْنَعُهُمْ مِنَ التَّعَدِّي وَ الدُّخُولِ فِيمَا حُظِرَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِأَنَّهُ لَوْ لَمْ يَكُنْ ذَلِكَ كَذَلِكَ لَكَانَ أَحَدٌ لاَ يَتْرُكُ لَذَّتَهُ وَ مَنْفَعَتَهُ لِفَسَادِ غَيْرِهِ فَجَعَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ قَيِّماً يَمْنَعُهُمْ مِنَ الْفَسَادِ وَ يُقِيمُ فِيهِمُ الْحُدُودَ وَ الْأَحْكَامَ وَ مِنْهَا أَنَّا لاَ نَجِدُ فِرْقَةً مِنَ الْفِرَقِ وَ لاَ مِلَّةً مِنَ الْمِلَلِ بَقُوا وَ عَاشُوا إِلاَ بِقَيِّمٍ وَ رَئِيسٍ لِمَا لاَ بُدَّ لَهُمْ مِنْهُ فِي أَمْرِ الدِّينِ وَ الدُّنْيَا فَلَمْ يَجُزْ فِي حِكْمَةِ الْحَكِيمِ أَنْ يَتْرُكَ الْخَلْقَ مِمَّا يَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ لاَ بُدَّ لَهُمْ مِنْهُ وَ لاَ قِوَامَ لَهُمْ إِلاَّ بِهِ فَيُقَاتِلُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّهُمْ وَ يَقْسِمُونَ بِهِ فَيْئَهُمْ وَ يُقِيمُ لَهُمْ جُمُعَتَهُمْ وَ جَمَاعَتَهُمْ وَ يَمْنَعُ ظَالِمَهُمْ مِنْ مَظْلُومِهِمْ وَ مِنْهَا أَنَّهُ لَوْ لَمْ يَجْعَلْ لَهُمْ إِمَاماً قَيِّماً أَمِيناً حَافِظاً مُسْتَوْدَعاً لَدَرَسَتِ الْمِلَّةُ وَ ذَهَبَ الدِّينُ وَ غُيِّرَتِ السُّنَّةُ وَ الْأَحْكَامُ وَ لَزَادَ فِيهِ الْمُبْتَدِعُونَ وَ نَقَصَ مِنْهُ الْمُلْحِدُونَ وَ شَبَّهُوا ذَلِكَ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمِينَ لِأَنَّا قَدْ وَجَدْنَا الْخَلْقَ مَنْقُوصِينَ مُحْتَاجِينَ غَيْرَ كَامِلِينَ مَعَ اخْتِلاَفِهِمْ وَ اخْتِلاَفِ أَهْوَائِهِمْ وَ تَشَتُّتِ أَنْحَائِهِمْ فَلَوْ لَمْ يَجْعَلْ لَهُمْ قَيِّماً حَافِظاً لِمَا جَاءَ بِهِ الرَّسُولُ (ص) لَفَسَدُوا عَلَى نَحْوِ مَا بَيَّنَّا وَ غُيِّرَتِ الشَّرَائِعُ وَ السُّنَنُ وَ الْأَحْكَامُ وَ الْإِيمَانُ وَ كَانَ فِي ذَلِكَ فَسَادُ الْخَلْقِ أَجْمَعِين
Ref: Faith and Reason, A Compendium of Fifty Questions and Answers Related to Islamic Theology, Jurisprudence and Other Themes, Compiled by The Porch of Wisdom Cultural Institution, Translated by A Group of Muslim Scholars, Published by: The Islamic Education Board of theWorld Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities

What is the reasoning of secularists in separating religion from politics?

By responding to the arguments of people who claim that politics is separate from religion, it will be proven that this cannot be the case and that religion is part and parcel of politics. To those who say that the essence of politics and the essence of religion are at odds and for this reason they cannot be combined, the following can be said: Religious politics means the management of a society based upon the values and criterion of religion, in order that the society reaches wholeness and true balance; there does not exist any logical contradictions in the issue of religious politics.
In response to the argument that religious laws are matters that are “on occasion”, it must be stated that this is not only applicable to religion or the precepts of religion in the political arena, but it applies to every body of laws which is in existence (all of these are based on circumstances and the situation at hand).
Also, in response to the argument that religion is an unchangeable matter and the world and its politics are always changing, and therefore, an unchangeable body is unable to manage something which is always in a state of change, it is said that: religion and this world both possess changeable and non-changeable aspects, and each part of religion has to do with its corresponding part of worldly matters. In relation to those who say that Islamic jurisprudential management is inefficient or incompetent, it must be said that Islam takes into consideration all changing and non-changing aspects of individual and social life and guides people to a correct way of life with all of these aspects factored in. The existence of the jurisprudential method, which is the standard way of understanding religion, provides and ensures the correct understanding to this religion. In addition, it opens the possibility of answering new questions which come about.

Secularists, who deny that religion and politics have always been joined together (throughout history) and make the claim of its separation, have held on to certain arguments which can easily be refuted, and the inseparable nature of religion and politics can be proven. Below we will delve into certain arguments of the secularists and we will also provide the counter arguments as well:

1- The differences in the essential natures of religion and politics.
2- The ‘on occasion’ nature of religious precepts
3- Fixed religious values and norms and a changing world.
4- The lack of efficiency in jurisprudential management.

Below we will summarily explain these issues:

1 -The differences in the essential natures of religion and politics

A group from amongst the secularists, by emphasizing essentialism, 1 have mentioned: Everything has a nature and essence which is particular to itself, and the essence and nature of religion is intrinsically different than the essence of politics. Therefore, religious politics can be compared to a wooden piece of iron, which is an impossible and contradictory matter. In response to this statement, we say: the essence of politics is the management of the affairs of society, and the essence of religion is the guidance of human beings towards God (towards true felicity). Through this description, we can say that religious politics means the management of society based on the principles and values of religion, in order that man reaches true felicity. Therefore, there are no logical contradictions in the statement ‘religious politics’.

2- The interpretations of religion and newly arising circumstances

Some have said that religious interpretations have themselves arisen from circumstances and therefore it is not possible to find guidance in religion from other newly arising circumstances. This is while the management of a society is in need of such specific guidance in newly arising circumstances, and therefore religion is not able to be a guiding force for politics. 2
In order to explain this claim, we must first explain clearly what rulings based on circumstance mean. Religious precepts and rulings in every domain (just like in religion), can be divided into three sections:

1- Causative precepts and rulings: These are rulings which remain fixed and unchanged in all situations, times, and circumstances. Amongst such rulings is that of oppression; oppression is unlawful and a sin in all circumstances, situations, and times. Likewise, the concept of justice is obligatory and it cannot be changed under any circumstance.

2- Circumstantial (or situational) precepts and rulings: This is defined as religious rulings (which are fixed) when they meet the obstacle of specific situations. Overall, telling the truth is obligatory, but when it meets with an obstacle, it can no longer be obligatory. For example, if telling the truth (which is obligatory) causes the death of somebody, then it is no longer considered obligatory.

3- Rulings which are dependent on the prevailing situation: These are defined as rulings which are formed based on the specific situation at hand. For example, physical punishment without any reason is unlawful, but when it is used to prevent moral deviation, then it can become lawful.

At the same time it should be kept in mind that this matter is not particular to religion or religious precepts only. Every body of law behaves in this same way; the majority of circumstantial matters have laws which are circumstantial. We cannot enact general laws which define every single possible individual matter, which can be performed or not performed. It is simply not possible to imagine every single potential action, with all of its divergent possibilities and potentials.

The most important and prevalent of these matters is when the enactment of a ruling becomes a preventative for the enactment of another ruling. This matter is called ‘Tazahome Ahkam’ in jurisprudential lexicon and in jurisprudence a method exists for selecting one of these two rulings. Generally, the more important ruling predominates over the less important ruling, and it is thus selected. From another angle, there exist principles in Islamic laws which show what is more important than others. For example, human life is considered more important than wealth.
In short, a circumstantial nature is particular to the majority of laws and it does not pertain particularly to religion; what Islam has done is it has clarified the criterion of deciding the correct course of action for the particularities of life. Therefore, in this regard as well, there is nothing to prevent religion from being a guiding principle and part of politics. 3

3- Religion is a fixed affair and the world a changing one

The most important reason which Secularists bring against the involvement of religion in political matters is the fixed nature of religion and the changing nature of this world. 4 Their arguments can be expressed in the following words: Religion is a sacred affair and things of a sacred nature are fixed and unchangeable. This is while the world is always in a continuous state of change and flux; therefore religion cannot manage the affairs of this world and involve itself in politics. If we pay detailed attention to what was mentioned previously, it is manifestly clear that, two contradictory issues appear in this argument, and that the argument is a fallacious one.

The first fallacy is that it is assumed that in religion (in Islam) no changeable aspects exist; in our previous discussions, we mentioned how changeable aspects do exist in Islam. The fixed aspects of religion are based upon certain fixed human attributes and characteristics, while the changeable aspects are designed for those very same issues which are found to change with the passage of time, circumstance, and social conditions. In our following investigation, we will explain how universal elements and situational ones came about in Islam, along with how these two are related in different fields of man’s life; all of this under the title of “The Theory of Codified Thought”.

The second fallacy is that the proponents of this argument have claimed that this world is a changing world and that there are no fixed characteristics to be found within it. This is while the world has both fixed and changing attributes and characteristics; it is only through the combination of both of these aspects that the world is made whole. Through this description, it is made clear that the world possesses both fixed and alterable characteristics and every part of religion (Islam) takes into consideration both of these issues.

4- The lack of efficiency in the method of religious jurisprudence

Some individuals have considered religious jurisprudence to be an ancient and extinct method, and have considered the modern era to be one whereby the world can only be managed through modern scientific methods. The foundation of this manner of thought is in the belief that religious jurisprudence is at odds with science and vice versa. It is as if religion was founded upon superstition and ignorance, and it can never be made harmonious with the empirical scientific method.

Due to this viewpoint, they say the following: ‘The organization, problem solving, and differentiation of jurisprudence belongs to a very basic society and it helps to solve that society’s simple problems and the small issues that people would have in that low level society… The implementation of law in the life of society, the marketplace, family, and government was not yet established, and the rule of jurisprudence and the king took the place of the rule of science; due to this, whenever a problem would arise, religious jurisprudence was required (indeed it was the only solution to be found). Religious jurisprudence was required to put a stop to marketplace speculators and hoarders, in order to root out their illegal marketplace practices and save society from their harmful actions and collective dangers. The scientific method was still yet undeveloped and unknown to the society. The known source of solving the society’s problems and managing it was the religious jurisprudential method. Can the industrial and economic revolution of today really be denied? The modern political system will not accept the halter of the religious jurisprudential method any longer! 5

This type of thought is the result of comparing Islam with Christianity from one angle, and not fully estimating the powers of religious jurisprudence from another angle. This type of thought is also the result of forgetting the contributions and harmony of Islam with various sciences; indeed the religion of Islam was and is instrumental in the creation and furtherance of many sciences and branches of knowledge.

Islamic jurisprudence, keeping in mind the existence of universal elements and situations which are either fixed or changing in terms of their relation to individual and societal life, can serve as a guide and reference. The existence of the jurisprudential method (Ijtihad) opens the way of ascertaining religious law and guidelines in both fixed and changing situations; it leaves the door open for answering newly arisen questions which come about naturally with the passage of time. From another angle, the enactment of religious jurisprudence and the utility of jurisprudents does not entail the rejection of science and other forms of knowledge and learning. In fact, whenever necessary, Islamic jurisprudence entails the utilization of necessary sciences and fields of knowledge. In matters which are constantly changing, this is considered necessary in the proper enactment of these religious rulings. 6

Therefore referring to religious jurisprudence is not a barrier to science and other branches of knowledge; in reality, religious jurisprudence is a guiding force for better fulfillment of human knowledge and science and in reaching human goals and ideals.7

[1] Essentialism
[2] See: Aadel Zaher, Al-Asaas al-Falsafiyyah li al-Ilmaaniyyah, p. 178, Ahmad Wa’ezi, Hukumate Dini, p. 70.
[3] Adopted from the book Velayate va Diyanat “Jastarhayi dar Andisheye Siyasiye Islam”, Ayatullah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, pp. 42-45.
[4] Ibid, the chapter on the “Stability of religion and mutability of the world”.
[5] Abdul Karim Soroush, Qesseye Arbaabe Ma’rifat, pp. 54-55.
[6] Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, Mabaniye Kalamiye Ijtihad, pp. 403-404 and Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, Velayate Faqih, pp. 61-64.
[7] Adopted from the book Velayate va Diyanat “Jastarhayi dar Andisheye Siyasiye Islam”, Ayatullah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, pp. 45-47.

Why should religion interfere in politics?

The theory of the separation of religion from politics is a viewpoint that supports marginalizing religion from different fields of human life. According to this viewpoint, man is able to discover the true rules to culture, politics, judgment, economy, commerce, manners, social relationships, etc., and legislate them with the help of science and knowledge, and does not need religion to intervene in his life.
Roots of the prevalence of this viewpoint during the Middle Ages can be traced back to the deficiency of distorted and altered Christianity, the ruling of despotism, the lack of freedom of expression because of the church and the contradiction between science and the teachings of the Bible.
In the Islamic world, the theory has been posed by three different groups: 1- Ruling oppressors that intended to change the caliphate into a type of monarchy 2- Foreign colonizers 3- The movement of corrupt thinkers.
As to refute the viewpoint of the separation of religion and politics, many solid and convincing arguments have been mentioned, two of which we will mention below: 1- Referring to Islamic teachings, texts and sources 2- The Sirah (lifestyle and acts) of the Holy Prophet and his household. Examining the mentioned material clearly shows that the separation of religion and politics does not apply to Islam, because a great portion of Islamic teachings and knowledge cover political and social issues.
Also, in order to understand how to argue in opposition to the advocates of this viewpoint, we will examine and refute one of the important reasons that supports their standpoint in the detailed answer.

In order to answer the abovementioned question we will explain the fundamentals of this theory and then we will explain the strong bond between Islam and politics:

The theory of the separation of religion from politics (Secularism) is a viewpoint that advocates and promotes marginalizing religion from the different fields of human life including politics, government, science, moral principles, etc. According to this theory, man is able to understand the true rules to culture, politics, judgment, economy, commerce, manners and social relationships and whatever has to do with ones emotional, mental and physical life with the help of knowledge and intellect, the same way man was successful in revealing the secrets of nature with the help of thought and science. Therefore, man is no longer in need of religion to intervene in his life. The Oxford dictionary defines the term Secularism as follows: “The belief that religion should not be involved in the organization of society, education, etc”. The origin of this theory can be found in the West.

During the Middle Ages and after that era, many factors came together and led to the prevalence of this viewpoint in the Western culture. On one hand was the altered Christianity that promoted vague and unreasonable teachings along with the tyranny and oppression and the lack of freedom of expression because of the church and on the other hand there was the contradiction between the teachings of the Bible and intellect and logic. All of this led to the expulsion of religion from all fields in which science could play a role.

In the Islamic world, the theory has been posed by three different groups: First: Ruling oppressors that intended to change the caliphate into a monarchy. For example, when Mu’awiyah rose to power in the year 40 AH, he traveled to Iraq and stated: “I was not fighting you over praying and fasting, but rather I did so to rule over you and (now) I have reached my goal.” 1 After him, the Islamic government began to lack its religious and sacred aspect and went on to change into a monarchy. Throughout history oppressing rulers have always proposed politics as a separate issue from religion and promoted the thought that the station of religious scholars is higher than that to interfere in politics. 2

The second group was the foreign colonizers. The greatest and most devastating opposition oppressors have encountered from Islamic countries were led by religious scholars and their teachings. Therefore, the theory of religion’s separation from politics was always the viewpoint oppressors would promote and advocate. 3

The third group was the movement of corrupted theorists that was initiated by those educated in the West who strived to apply the western theory of religion’s separation from politics to Islam, not knowing that firstly: Islam is different from Christianity, and secondly: What was known to be Christianity during the Middle Ages was not true Christianity. Thirdly: Not only Islamic scholars have never oppressed or pressured the society and have never been against knowledge and science, but also any era in which power has been in their hands has been recognized as a golden period of scientific growth, development and flourishing. Many solid and detailed arguments have been mentioned in opposition to the theory of the separation of religion from politics that cannot all be mentioned in this article, therefore, we will only employ two of the most prominent methods to oppose the advocates of this viewpoint which are: 1- Referring to the Islamic teachings, texts and sources 2- The Sirah (lifestyle and acts) of the Holy Prophet and his household. Knowing that a great amount of social and political rulings and tenets are mentioned in Islam, one can easily recognize the true aims of this religion. The late Imam Khomeini says in this regard:

Islam is a religion of politics and all issues related to it. This point is evident to anyone who has done the least examination of Islam’s governmental, political, social and economic rulings. Therefore, whoever assumes that religion is separate from politics has neither understood religion nor politics.” 4

With a very slight examination of Islamic rulings and Quranic verses it becomes clear that Islam is a comprehensive and exhaustive religion that factors in all aspects of human life (individual, social, worldly, heavenly, physical and spiritual aspects). The same way Islam has called people to worshiping one God and consists of moral instructions pertaining to individual self-building, it also has rulings and instructions in regard to governmental, political, economic, social, judicial, management, international relationships and legal issues. It also consists of judicial, legal, social relationships, economic, moral instructions and rulings. Obviously, carrying out and practicing these rulings and commands is not possible without governmental authority and power and a religious government, in its correct term, is a government that presides and rules over a society according to divine law and gets the grounds ready for the development of people’s potentials, helps them reach perfection and create an ideal society and opposes moral and social corruption.

When describing the true believers, the Quran says:

{الَّذينَ إِنْ مَکَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقامُوا الصَّلاةَ وَ آتَوُا الزَّکاةَ وَ أَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَ نَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنْکَرِ وَ لِلَّهِ عاقِبَةُ الْأُمُور}
Those who, if We granted them power in the land, maintain the prayer, give the Zakat, and bid what is right and forbid what is wrong. And with Allah rests the outcome of all matters.” 5

Moreover, the lifestyle and acts of the prophet show that religion is not separate from politics; because while establishing a government, the prophet also carried out the role of judging and implementing the law in it. Imam Ali also established a government based on justice and the execution of divine law. The short lived government of Imam Hassan, the bloody movement of Imam Hussein, and the next Imams considering different governments at that time as illegitimate ones, all indicate that establishing a government is an indisputable principle of Islam. There are many Quranic verses pertaining to this issue:

1- {لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنا رُسُلَنا بِالْبَيِّناتِ وَ أَنْزَلْنا مَعَهُمُ الْکِتابَ وَ الْميزانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ وَ أَنْزَلْنَا الْحَديدَ فيهِ بَأْسٌ شَديدٌ وَ مَنافِعُ لِلنَّاس}
Certainly We sent Our apostles with manifest proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, so that mankind may maintain justice; and We sent down iron, in which there is great might and uses for mankind…”. 6

2-  {يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا کُونُوا قَوَّامينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَداءَ بِالْقِسْطِ…}
O you who have faith! Be maintainers, as witnesses for the sake of Allah, of justice…” 7

3- {وَ لَقَدْ بَعَثْنا في‏ کُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللهَ وَ اجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ}
Certainly We raised an apostle in every nation [to preach:]” Worship Allah, and keep away from the Rebels…”. 8

4- {وَ ما لَکُمْ لا تُقاتِلُونَ في‏ سَبيلِ اللهِ وَ الْمُسْتَضْعَفينَ مِنَ الرِّجالِ وَ النِّساءِ وَ الْوِلْدانِ الَّذينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنا أَخْرِجْنا مِنْ هذِهِ الْقَرْيَةِ الظَّالِمِ أَهْلُها وَ اجْعَلْ لَنا مِنْ لَدُنْکَ وَلِيًّا وَ اجْعَلْ لَنا مِنْ لَدُنْکَ نَصيراً}
Why should you not fight in the way of Allah and the abased men, women, and children, who say,” Our Lord, bring us out of this town whose people are wrongdoers, and appoint for us a guardian from You, and appoint for us a helper from You”?” 9

5-{يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا أَطيعُوا اللهَ وَ أَطيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْکُمْ…}
O you who have faith! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those vested with authority among you…” 10

There are also many other verses in which issues like the Book, Mizan (Scale), iron and its benefits, bearing witness to justice, abandoning Tāghut (Those who rebel against Allah’s authority), fighting in the path of Allah and the weak, saving the oppressed, migrating in the path of Allah, etc., are mentioned, and it is obvious that these are all social commands that have been asserted in the Holy Book of Allah. However, the explanation and interpretation of each of the mentioned verses and proving the necessity of establishing a government by the prophets and religious scholars, requires lengthy arguments and material that cannot be mentioned in this one article. Instead, we will only point out the most fundamental principles of those political ideologies that have spoken in regard to the establishment of government and the bond between religion and politics:

1- Proving dominant and thorough Wilayah (Authority) that covers all physical and spiritual, worldly and heavenly aspects of life for Allah, his prophet and the special friends/servants of Allah (Ma’idah, verse 55/Yusuf, verse 40/ Ma’edah, verse 42 and 43).

2- Proving Imamate and political-social leadership for the prophet, an Imam and those appointed by them. (Nisa’, verse 58 and 59/ Ma’idah, verse 67).

3- Proving the government and caliphate of some previous prophets like Prophet Dawud and Suleiman. (Sad, verse 20 and 26/Naml, verse 26 and 27/Nisa’, verse 54).

4- The Quran stipulates that judging between people and resolving people’s legal issues is the duty of Allah’s prophets. (Nisa’, verse 58 and 65/Ma’edah, verse 42/Anbiya’, verse 78/An’am, verse 89).

5- Calling to consultation and group activities (Shura’, verse 38/Ale Emran, verse 159).

6- Opposing corruption, oppression and spreading justice is one of the main duties of believers. (Baqarah, verse 279/Hud, verse 113/Nisa’, verse 58/Nahl, verse 90/Sad, verse 28/Hajj, verse 41).

7- Respecting human rights and honoring humans is one of the fundamental principles of holy religions. (Isra’, verse 70/Ale Emran, verse 19/Nisa’, verse 32).

8- Commanding Jihad and opposing the Taghut, the arrogant and the oppressors and also possessing defensive military resources. (Baqarah, verse 218/Tahrim, verse 9/Nisa’, verse 75/Anfal, verse 60/A’raf, verse 56).

9- Majesty is exclusively for Allah and the believers and the denial of all types of submission and subservience (Munafiqun, verse 8/Muhammad, verse 35/Hud, verse 113/Ale Emran, verse 146 and 149).

10- The stipulation of the mutual rights of people and rulers (Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 216, pp. 335 and 336).

11- Proving governmental authority for some just rulers like Talut and Dhu al-Gharnain (Baqarah, verse 246 and 247/Kahf, verse 83 and 98).

12- Allocating important and mass financial sources to the Waliyye Amr (ruler) of the Muslims and the Islamic government to be consumed in the best interest of the society (Usul al-Kafi, Chapters of Ṣilat al-Imam and al-Fey’ and al-Anfāl and Tafsīr al-Khums).

From what was mentioned above, it becomes clear that the separation of religion from politics does not apply to Islam and a great portion of Islamic teachings encompass political and social issues. As Imam Khomeini puts it, from among the 57 or 58 sections of Fiqh, only 7 or 8 of them are about exclusively spiritual issues and the rest are related to political, judicial and social issues.

Finally, in order to become familiar with the way to argue in opposition of the advocates of this theory, we will briefly refute one of their important arguments:

Ali Abdul Razagh which is one, the advocates of this theory argues, referring to some verses of the Quran like:

{قُلْ لَسْتُ عَلَيْکُمْ بِوَکيل}
Say, ‘It is not my business to watch over you.” 11

{إِنْ عَلَيْکَ إِلاَّ الْبَلاغ}
It is for thee only to deliver the Message.” 12

that the Quran has not assigned the prophet to any task that goes further than communicating and conveying the teachings of Islam. 13 Mehdi Bazargan has a similar understanding of the verses. 14

As an answer to this argument, one must say that such an understanding stems from an unscholarly observation of this holy book. These verses do not truly limit the prophet’s responsibilities to conveying Islam and warning people so that these verses would contradict any other task of the prophet. This claim is clearly proven by other verses that have placed the burden of judgment and governance on his shoulders. There are many verses that have directly mentioned these issues. Due to briefness of this article, we will only mention one verse:

{النَّبِيُّ أَوْلى‏ بِالْمُؤْمِنينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ }
The Prophet has a higher claim on the believers than [they have on] their own selves.” 15

This verse has given a higher authority to the prophet in regard to the believers’ affairs than themselves. Surely, this higher authority is something more than his prophetic station. It is narrated that when interpreting this verse, Imam al-Baqir said:

This verse is revealed in regard to government and ruling.” 16

In some verses of the Quran, the prophet has been commanded to uphold and maintain justice within the society:

{لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنا رُسُلَنا بِالْبَيِّناتِ وَ أَنْزَلْنا مَعَهُمُ الْکِتابَ وَ الْميزانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ وَ أَنْزَلْنَا الْحَديدَ فيهِ بَأْسٌ شَديدٌ وَ مَنافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ}
Certainly We sent Our apostles with manifest proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, so that mankind may maintain justice; and We sent down iron, in which there is great might and uses for mankind”. 17

The question that remains is whether or not it is possible to uphold justice within the society while lacking governmental authority and power?
Also, in a verse of the Quran, Allah has explained the reason behind sending the prophets as follows:

{کانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً واحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرينَ وَ مُنْذِرينَ وَ أَنْزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْکِتابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْکُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فيهِ }
Mankind were a single community; then Allah sent the prophets as bearers of good news and warners, and He sent down with them the Book with the truth, that it may judge between the people concerning that about which they differed.” 18

In this verse the issue of resolving conflicts and disputes between people has been mentioned as the purpose behind sending the prophets. If the conflicts and disputes and contentions are natural and inevitable things within a society, and resolving these conflicts is also necessary to cause order in the society and keep it away from chaos, the sole act of admonition, advising and promoting Islamic rulings would not be adequate to solve such social problems. Therefore, any prophet that came with a new message and law, not only conveyed his message and warned people of Allah, but also brought up the issue of governance. In the abovementioned verse Allah does not say that prophets resolve conflicts and disputes among people through simply warning them of Allah, giving them glad-tidings of heaven and conveying Islamic teachings, but rather through “حکم” (Judgment), because such a thing is not possible without judgment and governmental authority that guarantees the execution of the law. Therefore, any religion that has brought along guidelines and instructions for humanity surely consists of both social and personal rulings, and these rulings will only benefit man when they are carried out and practiced. At the same time, carrying out these rulings would necessarily require governmental authority and power that would guarantee their execution. Otherwise, either the rulings will not be carried out or if carried out by everyone, they will only lead to chaos and disorder. Rulings will only have any effect on the society when a powerful individual that is in connection with the Gheib (the invisible world) is responsible for teaching, maintaining and executing them.

Question: If political leadership and establishing a government is one of prophets’ duties, then why is it that some prophets did not have a government?

Answer: There are different possibilities in regard to this question:

First: Establishing a government may not be possible for a prophet in certain circumstances; like the prophet of Islam that was not able to employ governmental authority during the first years of his prophetic mission. Second: It’s possible that during certain eras some of the prophets were preaching under the authority of greater ones -who had the responsibility of leading the society- and therefore, they only had the duty of conveying religious teachings and could not establish a dependant government on their own, such as Prophet Lut who’s prophethood was under that of Prophet Ibrahim as the Quran says:

{فَآمَنَ لَهُ لُوطٌ …}
Thereupon Lot believed in him”.19

This does not contradict his prophethood, because the prophethood of individuals like prophet Lut are a manifestation of the general prophethood of the greater prophet that is responsible for the people of his region. The Quran clearly asserts that Prophet Ibrahim was assigned by Allah to lead and oversee the society:

{قالَ إِنِّي جاعِلُکَ لِلنَّاسِ إِماما…}
I am making you the Imam of mankind.” 20

Therefore, there is no prophethood unless it comes with governmental authority, whether the prophethood is dependant or a manifestation of another one, because in the abovementioned example, Prophet Lut led the social and political life of people in a certain region under the reign of prophet Ibrahim. This is why taking role in politics and leading the society has been partially attributed to the prophets in the Quran:

{وَ کَأَيِّنْ مِنْ نَبِيٍّ قاتَلَ مَعَهُ رِبِّيُّونَ کَثيرٌ…}
How many a prophet there has been with whom a multitude of godly men fought.” 21

If the Quran does not mention anything in regard to the governmental and political leadership of prophet Nuh and Isa and some other prophets, it does not mean they did not play such a role, but rather their case is an example of the verse:

{وَ رُسُلاً لَمْ نَقْصُصْهُمْ عَلَيْکَ وَ…}
apostles We have not recounted to you.” 22

meaning that the same way not all prophets that existed were mentioned in the Quran, not all the features of those named in the Quran are mentioned either. Therefore, it is necessary for prophets to establish a government and they have strived to do so when their situation and circumstances allowed them. In addition to the many Quranic verses, the prophet’s sirah (how he lived) in regard to establishing a government can be solid proof that such an understanding from the Quranic verses is not correct. 23

For more information you can refer to: Question 7883, Criticism of Secularism’s reasoning and also the following books:
1- Imam Khomeini and Islamic Government, No. 1, Theological fundamentals, Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Government Thought Seminar
2- Kazem Ghazizadeh, The Political-Jurisprudential Thoughts of Imam Khomeini
3- Imam Khomeini, Wilayate Faqih
4- Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli, Wilayate Faqih
5- Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, Tafsir Nemooneh, vol. 2
6- Muhammad Jawad Noruzi, The Political System of Islam
7- Nabiyyollah Ibrahimzadeh Amuli, Religious Governance
8- Ali Zu Elm, The Quranic Fundamentals of Wilayate Faqih
9- Abdullah Nasri, Man’s Expectations of Religion, p. 307
10- Hasan Ghadrdan Maleki, Secularism in Islam and Christianity
[1] Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahjul-Balagha, vol. 4, p. 160
[2] Sahifeye Nur, vol. 83, p. 217: regarding King Reza’s words about Ayatullah Kashani.
[3] Soroush, Muhammad, Din va Dolat dar Andisheye Eslami, pp. 120-126.
[4] Sahifeye Nur, vol. 1, p. 6.
[5] Hajj:41.
[6] Hadid:25.
[7] Ma’idah:8.
[8] Nahl:36.
[9] Nisa’:75.
[10] Nisa’:59.
[11] An’ām:66.
[12] Shura:48
[13] Ali Abdul Razzaq, Al-Islam wa Usul al-Hukm, p. 171.
[14] Kiyan Magazine, no. 28, p. 51.
[15] Ahzab:6.
[16] Majma’ al-Bahrain, vol. 1, p. 457, under the root of “ولي”.
[17] Hadid:25.
[18] Baqarah:213.
[19] Ankabut:26.
[20] Baqarah:124.
[21] Āl Imran:146.
[22] Nisa:164.
[23] Adopted from the article Religion and Politics

What is the wisdom behind creation?

Allah is a transcendental entity and possesses all excellences. At the same time, creation is a means of grace and Allah is graceful. His unlimited grace calls for him to create whatever has the potential to be created. Therefore, Allah created because he was graceful, meaning that the reason behind creation lies in his grace and mercy. Moreover, knowing that Allah’s attributes of essence are in oneness with his entity, one can say that the reason behind creation is Allah himself.
Allah created man with two inner calls to good and bad, as well as two outside callers to good and bad, the prophets and Satan, resulting in the potential to reach the highest levels of perfection and also declining to the lowest levels of human value. If man, despite his carnal and satanic desires, takes the path of truth and perfection, then he will be greater than the angels, because they do not have carnal and satanic desires.  And if he chooses the path of evil, he will be worse than animals, because they do not have a spiritual aspect like humans do.
If Allah created man with all excellences he could possibly possess, this perfection had not been reached through his free will (making the creation of man in vain). Therefore, the purpose behind man’s creation is only met when he is created with the potential of perfection and when he reaches it through his free will. However, the fact that unbelievers and sinners do not fulfill the true purpose behind creation does not contradict Allah’s reason for creation, because Allah wanted them to have the chance to choose the right or wrong path and reach perfection if they chose to.  If Allah made it impossible for man to take the path of evil, then choosing the path of perfection and development would not be through free will either, (and this would contradict the wisdom behind creation).

In order to explain the answer, we must shed light on a few points:
A: The wisdom behind creation:

1- Due to the fact that Allah is Wajibul Wujud (Necessary being) and His existence is not dependant on anything else, he has no limits, is transcendental and possesses all perfection.

2- One of His excellences and virtues is his unlimited grace and mercy. The Almighty says in the Quran:

“And the bounty of your Lord is not confined” [1]

There are no limits to Allah’s grace, therefore when he does not grant something, it is because of the limitations of the receiver not the granter, and what is possible to be granted, will be granted.

3- All perfection stems from Wujud (existence) and all limitations and deficiencies stem from the lack of Wujud (existence). For example knowledge is a type of perfection and ignorance (which is a lack of knowledge) is a limitation and deficiency. Another example would be power, the opposite of disability, which is a type of perfection.  Therefore, Wujud (existence) is the source of all goodness and blessing, meaning that all limitations are a form of nonexistence and lack of Wujud (existence).

4- Taking the third point into consideration, one can conclude that Allah’s mercy and grace will only be fulfilled through creation. Therefore, the inevitable result of being graceful is to create.
In other words, if something has the potential to be created and Allah does not create it, this would mean preventing goodness because Wujud is the source of goodness, and therefore such an act would be considered stinginess, and stinginess cannot be attributed to Allah. In the light of all this, we conclude that if we were asked “what caused Allah to create?” we would reply: His grace caused him to create.

5- Allah’s attributes are in complete oneness with his entity. The attributes of human beings and other objects are not in oneness with their essence. For example, an apple has an essence and also has certain attributes such as being red or sweet. Being red or sweet has no unity with the essence of the apple. An apple can be sour and green, but its essence will still exist.
The oneness of Allah’s essence and his attributes is a very deep issue that can be studied in the science of theology. However, what is important to know is that being graceful, which is the “final cause” or “purpose” (Ellate Ghayi) of creation, is Allah’s entity and not something other than his essence. Therefore if we were asked: “Why did Allah create creatures?” We will answer: Because He is Allah. So the final cause is actually Allah himself. This is exactly what philosophers mean when they say: The final cause and “efficient cause” are the same when it comes to Allah’s acts. [2] Moreover, we might be able to find traces of this meaning in some Quranic verses [3] like:

All matters return to him. [4]

B: What was mentioned explained the creator’s wisdom behind the whole concept of creation, but to explain the wisdom behind the creation of a certain being like man requires the explanation of another point and that is the particular perfection Allah wanted to create through creating man.
Explanation: The inevitable result of Allah’s grace is for Him to create any excellence that has the potential to be created. Before the creation of man, He had already created beings like the angels that possessed all potential excellences from the beginning, meaning that they possessed all their perfection in actuality. Therefore, they would never reach a new form of perfection and their existential perfection could never develop to a higher level. Allah quotes the angles in the Quran saying:

“There is none among us but has a known place. Indeed it is we who are the ranged ones. Indeed it is we who are those who celebrate Allah’s glory.” [5]

Imam Ali stated:

“Then He created the openings between high skies and filled them with all classes of His angels. Some of them are in prostration and do not kneel up. Others in kneeling position and do not stand up.  Some of them are in array and do not leave their position.  Others are extolling Allah and do not get tired!” [6]

They worship Allah and do not get tired and this is a perfection Allah has granted them, and they cannot choose to disobey Allah.  Allah says in the Quran:

“They do not venture to speak ahead of Him, and they act by His command.” [7] And He also says: “Over that fire are [assigned] angels, severe and mighty, who do not disobey whatever Allah has commanded them, and carry out what they are commanded.” [8]

Due to His unlimited grace, Allah wanted to create a higher perfection in addition to the perfection that angels possessed, and that is the perfection of man reaching excellence through his free will; meaning that He created a creature that could decide and strive to possess all perfections through his free will. Therefore, He created man, a being that does not possess all of his potential excellences from the beginning, but has the power to reach all of them as well.  It is very clear that the perfection man reaches is of a higher level compared to the excellence angels have been granted. Imam Ali states:

“Allah created the angels from the ‘Mind’ and did not give them desire and created animals from desire and did not grant them intelligence, and he created man from mind and desire. Whoever that his mind prevails over his desire will be higher than the angles and whoever that his desire prevails over his mind will be lesser than animals”. [9]

Therefore all causes of creation are the grace of Allah. The inevitable result of Allah’s grace is for Him to create this possible excellence, an excellence higher than any other.

C: Why didn’t Allah create man perfect in the first place?
In light of what was said, one can conclude that the purpose of creation will only be fulfilled when man is created with the potential to reach perfection and does so through his free will. If he possessed that perfection from the beginning, such a thing would definitely not be considered a perfection he earned on his own and the purpose of his creation would not be fulfilled.

We must keep in mind that even reaching the smallest level of perfection is considered possessing excellence through free will and, therefore, fulfills the purpose of creation to that extent.

D: Sinners and Unbelievers:
Even if someone does not reach the lowest level of perfection and his life is full of disbelief and disobeying Allah, his acts still do not contradict the wisdom behind creation, because he too has actualized his potentials. Man has the potential to decline to the lowest levels of value, and Allah has created him in a way that he can choose the way of perfection and truth or the way of evil. Therefore, even an unbeliever has not acted against the takwini (having to do with creation) will of Allah. Obviously, Allah wants man to move towards perfection and does not wish him to go astray. In other words, in creating man Allah had two wills, the first was takwini and the second was tashri’i: his takwini will is for all humans to have the chance to actualize their potentials while his tashri’ri will is for humans to take the path of perfection and salvation.

Taking what was said into consideration, one can say that a believer has acted both according to Allah’s tashri’i and takwini will, but an unbeliever or sinner has only acted according to Allah’s takwini will and has not followed Allah’s tashri’i will.
Note: Considering the importance of this issue and the many narrative reasons, there is room for more research and questioning on your part.

[1] Isra’:20.
[2] See: Tabatabai, Muhammad Husein, Al-Mizan, vol. 8, p. 44; Misbah Yazdi, Muhammad Taqi, Ma’aarefe Quran, vol. 1, p. 154.
[3] Baqarah:210; Aal Imran:109; Anfal:44; Hajj:76; Fater:4; Hadid:5.
[4] Hud:123.
[5] Saffat:164 and 166.
[6] Nahjul-Balaghah, sermon 1.
[7] Anbiya’:27.
[8] Tahrim:6.
[9] Wasa’il al-Shia, vol. 11, p. 164.

How does the general conscience of human beings deny predestination?

Even if philosophers and divine scholars give different reasons for free will of the human being, here we will take a short cut and give the clearest reason given by the supporters of free will and this is the ‘universal’ or ‘collective’ conscience of human beings.

That is, no matter what we deny, we cannot deny this reality that in all human societies, including both the worshippers of God and the materialists, East and West, ancient and modern, wealthy and poor, developed or undeveloped, of whatever culture, all without exception, agree that a law should rule human beings and that human beings are responsible before the law and people who disobey the law must be punished.

In other words, the rule of law, the responsibility of individuals before it and the punishment of those who disobey the law are things which all intelligent people agree with and it was only savage, primitive tribes who did not officially recognize these three things.

The fact that we explain this as the general conscience of human beings of the world is the clearest proof of the existence of free will in human beings and the fact that they have free choice. How can it be accepted that a human being be obliged in his or her actions and that he or she have no freedom of choice but he or she is responsible before the law? And that when a law is broken, that person must be tried and asked why he or she did this or that or did not do this or that.

And if proven guilty, that person is sent to prison or even, depending upon the crime, executed, this is exactly as if we were to punish stones which slide down a mountain causing a landslide on a mountain road which results in the death of one or more human beings.

It is true that a human being differs from a stone, but if we deny free will and choice in a human being, this external difference between them will not be relevant and both will be the victims of fate. A stone, following the law of gravity, falls upon the roadside and a human being who murders another, is the victim of another factor of fate.

Thus, the logic of those who believe in predetermination allows for no distinction to be made between a stone and a human being from the point of view of result, since neither acted according to their own free will. Why should one be tried and not the other?We are at a crossroad. We either have to deny existence of the common conscience of all of the people of the world and consider the courts, punishment of those who disobey the law to be ridiculous and useless and even oppressive or deny the beliefs of the fatalists. Obviously the latter is preferable.

It is interesting to note that those who believe in the school of fatalism, and give reasons for their belief, when they are faced with a real life situation, they act according to free will! For instance, if a person aggresses against them, or annoys or bothers them, they take this person to court and do not rest at ease until that person is punished. Well, if it is really true that a person has no choice or free will, what are all of this commotion and court and trial about?

At any rate, this common conscience of the intelligent of the world is a living idea for the reality that human beings have accepted the existence of free will in the depths of their being and has always been loyal to that and cannot live without the belief for even one day and have the wheels of social and individual programs progress.

A great Iranian philosopher, Khawjeh Nair al-din Tusi, in discussing predestination and free will says in one short sentence in his book Kitab Tajrubah bih al-Aqa’id, “Our necessary understanding and conscience tells us that we are responsible for all of our deeds.”

Ref: Fifty Lessons of Principles of Belief for Youths; Ayt. Makarem Shirazi; Translated by: Bahador Shirazian; Published by: Ahlul Bayt World Assembly

What is the reason behind God creating man and generally the whole world? Is He in need of creating?

God Almighty is a never-ending entity possessing all forms of perfection and creating is His grace. Since Allah (swt) is the All-Graceful, granting everything and anything possible, his being graceful calls for him to create all things that can and deserve to be created. So, Allah (swt) creates because He is the All-Graceful. In other words, the reason behind the creation of everything lies in Him being the All-Graceful and since His qualities (in which one of them is His grace) are part of His essence, it can be said that the purpose of His creation is His essence.
Of course, although one who creates something usually does it for his/her own needs and to make up for his/her imperfections and deficiencies, but that isn’t the case with Allah (swt) because He is absolutely self-sufficient and is of no imperfection. Nevertheless, His actions must have a purpose since He is the all-Wise and does nothing without a logical reason and just for nothing. Hence, the system of creation is a system with a specific purpose that is in continuation of Allah’s high goals, therefore no distortion can be found in it.
As for the main purpose of creation, one must say that it is for man to reach perfection and eternal prosperity and the highest virtues and it is man who benefits from reaching such goals because God is the All-sufficient and is in no need of anything, on the contrary, all things are in need of Him, as He Himself says: “O mankind! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah, and Allah He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable”.

n order to find the answer to this question, a few things need to be cleared up:

1) Allah’s reason for creating the universe:

Paying attention to some points helps us in finding out what His motives are:

Because of Allah (swt) being of necessary existence and independent in it, He is of no limitation, and possesses all perfection.

2- One of the high virtues that His Excellency possesses is His never-ending grace and generosity. In the holy Quran, Allah (swt) says:

…and the bounty of your Lord is not confined.” 1

Allah (swt) has no limitations on His behalf when it comes to granting and giving, thus if He ever doesn’t grant anything, that means that the person or object that was supposed to receive from Him wasn’t of the required capacity to receive what His Excellency wished to grant. So it is the one to receive who has limitations, not the one who wants to grant.

3- All goodness and virtues arise from existence (wujud), and all imperfections come from nonexistence (‘adam). For instance, knowledge is something that exists, while ignorance is the lack of knowledge. The same goes for strength and weakness.

4- Taken into consideration the third introduction, one can conclude that God’s grace and generosity manifests in Him creating, therefore being the All-Graceful necessitates creation. In other words, if something ever deserves to be created yet God refuses to create it, it means that God has refused a good thing, because as was said before, all goodnesses and virtues somehow are related to creation. This means that God is being miserly while it is impossible for God to be miserly. Here we conclude that if anyone asks why Allah (swt) created, the answer is that God’s being the All-Graceful is the main cause.

5- God’s qualities and virtues aren’t things added to His essence (there is an argument about God’s qualities and virtues and if they are part of His essence or not; the Shia say that they are part of His essence, yet not causing multiplicity in it unlike some of the Sunnis [Mu’tazilah] who say that they are part of His essence but cause multiplicity, and unlike other Sunnis [‘Asha’irah] who say that they aren’t part of His essence at all but at the same time these virtues are eternal and pre-existent like Allah Himself), while in other objects, they aren’t part of their essence. For instance, the apple has an essence, and it also has some characteristics such as redness and sweetness. Redness and sweetness are all out of the apple’s essence because it can also be green and sour and still be an apple (have the essence of an apple).

The argument of God’s virtues being part of His essence or not is a deep theistic one which can be read about in the chapter on the oneness of God’s virtues and essence in theistic books.
What is important here is that being All-Graceful, is part of His essence (the more accurate way of putting it is to say that this and other qualities and virtues of God are all exactly His essence, not part of His essence, because it isn’t that God’s essence is made up of different parts in which one of them is His being All-Graceful), not outside of His essence. So if it is asked why God created, the answer is that because God is God. So the true reason for Him creating is Himself.

What is important is that although Allah (swt) doesn’t create in order to fulfill His own needs or to make up for His deficiencies because of His self-sufficience and has no deficiencies and is perfect, but His actions surely have a reason behind them because He is the All-wise and the wise one never does vain acts. The system of creation is a system that follows the high goals of Allah (swt) and no signs of disorder can be found in it.

According to Quranic verses, the creator of all things didn’t create them in vain nor for amusement, His creation is on the basis of the truth and wisdom, and even the smallest particles in this world follow high goals and none of them have been created in vain.

Of course, one mustn’t forget that the final goal for creating the universe was for man to come into existence and in other words, Allah (swt) created the universe in order to create man because he is the highest of all creatures as his creator is the highest of all creators that the universe has never seen. It has been reported that Allah (swt) has said:

Oh son of Adam (pbuh), I have created everything for you, and have created you for myself.” 2

God’s purpose for creation:

What was said till now was all about creation itself, but regarding the creation of man, one must say that the specific virtue that God wanted to achieve by creating man, is the goal of creating man.

The inevitable result of God being All-Graceful, is to create all possible virtues (meaning that His grace calls for Him to create all virtues that can be created). Before the creation of man, He had created other creatures called the angels who possessed all virtues that was possible for them from the beginning of their creation instead of acquiring them like man. Hence, they aren’t capable of achieving any new virtues and they don’t perfect any further. Allah quotes them saying:

For every one of us there is a determined place and position; And verily, we are all ranged in ranks to carry out Allah’s commands; And verily, we are those who perpetually celebrate Allah’s attributes”. 3

Now that we have spoken of these two issues, it is time to start the main discussion. No matter what the purpose of creation is, its benefit is for man himself because Allah (swt) is of no need and self-sufficient and it is man who is in true need. Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

O mankind! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah, and Allah He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable.” 4

Prophet Musa (pbuh) says to Bani-Israel:

Should you be faithless you and everyone on the earth all together [it doesn’t make a difference because] indeed Allah is all-sufficient, all-laudable”. 5

In the famous sermon known as “the sermon of Hamam”, Imam Ali states regarding this matter:

“Allah (swt) created mankind while being in no need of their obedience and servitude towards Him, and (also) being safe from their disobedience because the disobedience of sinners does Him no harm and the obedience of His servants has no benefit for Him (the only reason He has demanded His servants to obey Him and prohibited them from disobedience, is for their own prosperity). 6

The purpose for creating man has been spoken of in different ways in the Quran. In reality, each of these explanations is pointing to one of the dimensions of the purpose of his creation. Some of those verses are as follows:

I did not create the jinn and the humans except that they may worship Me” 7


He, who created death and life that He may test you (to see) which of you is better in their deeds” 8


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 (receiving mercy and reaching perfection as a result)” 9.

As you can see, all of these different assertions (of the purpose of man’s creation) are in reality following one goal, and that is the development, perfection and guidance of man. As a result, we can conclude that the main and final goal for creating man is for him to reach perfection and eternal prosperity and the highest virtues and human values, and all of these goals can be accomplished through the obedience and servitude of Allah (swt).

Imam Sadiq (as) says that Imam Husein (as) came before his companions saying:

Allah (swt) has created His servants solely for them to know Him, when they know Him, they worship Him, and when they worship Him, they no longer have any need to worship other than Him.” 10

[1] Isra:20.
[2] يابن آدم خلقت الاشياء لأجلک و خلقتک لأجل
al-Manhajul-Qawiyy, vol. 5, pg. 516, ‘Ilmul-Yaqin, vol. 1, p. 381.
[3] Saffat:164 and 166.
[4] يا ايها الناس انتم الفقراء الي الله و الله هو الغني الحميد
[5] و قال موسي ان تکفروا انتم و من في الارض جميعاً فإن الله لغني حميد
[6] 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 of Faydh, p. 11, the sermon of Hammam.
[7] و ما خلقت الجن و الانس الا ليعبدون
[8] الذي خلق الموت و الحياة ليبلوکم ايکم احسن عملاً
[9] و لايزالون مختلفين الا من رحم ربک ولذالک خلقهم
[10] ان الله عزوجل ما خلق العباد الا ليعرفوه، فإذا عرفوه عبدوه، فإذا عبدوه استغنوا بعبادته عن عبادة من سواه
(‘Ilalul-Shara’i’ of Saduq, according to what al-Mizan has quoted.

From the beginning of Prophet Adam’s life till this day about 5,764 years have passed. The oldest human fossil that has been found up to today is from 25 million years ago!

There is no inconsistence between these two. If we have heard that Prophet Adam has been created six to seven thousand years ago, this might refer to a different and new generation of human beings which started with Prophet Adam (A.S.) and might have been preceded by numbers of generations of human beings who have gone extinct. There is a lot of evidence in hand that suggests a whole different generation of humans unlike Prophet Adam existed before him.
This is also in accord with the teachings of the Quran and Islamic Hadith.

There is no inconsistence between these two. If we have heard that Prophet Adam has been created six to seven thousand years ago, this might refer to a different and new generation of human beings which started with Prophet Adam (A.S.) and might have been preceded by numbers of generations of human beings who have gone extinct. There is a lot of evidence in hand that suggests a whole different generation of humans unlike Prophet Adam existed before him.
This is also in accord with the teachings of the Quran and Islamic Hadith.

Allamah Tabatabai (R.A.) comments under the first ayah of surah Nisa’:

“The surface meaning of the verse suggests that the term “نفس واحدة” is referring to Adam and “زوجها” to Eve, who are the mother and father of mankind. We also are from this generation [1] of humans and judging by the Quran, mankind’s species goes back to them. The noble verse implies that the existing generation of human beings goes back to Adam and Eve and that nobody else has played any part in producing this generation.
In the history of the Jews we read that the human species we know of doesn’t surpass a history of approximately seven thousand years which seems to be reasonable. Therefore, logic suggests the same as what history dictates. But geological experts believe the history of human beings to be millions of years.
This is their point of view, but the proof they present isn’t convincing. We don’t have a reason that proves that these fossils belong to the ancestors of this chain of human beings we witness today. We also have no reason to believe that these fossils don’t belong to a generation or kind of beings who lived before Prophet Adam (The Father of Mankind) and were instinct way before our ancestor and were never connected to the chain of human beings we are from.

The Holy Quran has not explicitly explained the emergence of mankind on the planet earth, in terms of whether we were the only generation of mankind or if there were other generations before us making us the last generation.

From paying attention to some verses of the Quran, we can slightly deduce that before the creation of Prophet Adam (The Father of Mankind) and his generation there were other human beings who lived here, where He says:

“…And when your Lord said to the angels: I am going to place in the earth a khalif (representative), they asked: Will you place in it someone who will make mischief in it and shed blood”. [2]

Allamah Tabatabai says:

“We can slightly deduce from ayah 30 of surah Al-Baqara that before the creation of Prophet Adam (A.S.) there was a different generation of human beings who caused the angels to ask: Will you place in it someone who will make mischief in it and shed blood.” [3]

This ayah implies that another generation of human beings was created before the generation of human beings we know and are part of what was created, which the angels were initially familiar with.
In some traditions coming from the imams (A.S.), we witness proof of the existence of eras of human beings prior to the current era.
Sheikh Saduq (A.S.) has narrated a hadith in which the imam tells the narrator:

“You might believe that God Almighty has not created humans other than you. Well this is false because he has created millions of humans and you from the last generation of them.” [4]

In Khisal, Sheikh Saduq also narrates that Imam Baqir (A.S.) has stated:

“From the time He created the earth, God Almighty has created within it, seven worlds (and made all of them instinct), none of which were of the generation of of Prophet Adam. God created all of them from the crust of this earth and created generation after generation with corresponding worlds for all generations till finally Prophet Adam was created and reproduced his descendants solely from him. [5]

On this account, if we conclude that the line of history for mankind extends to a million years based on fossils found perhaps in caves, they don’t belong to the current generation of human beings, because the story of Prophet Adam appears to be about 7000 years old.

[1] Translation of al-Mizan, vol. 4, p. 214, Qum, Islamic Publications Office, 1417.
[2] Baqarah:30
وَ إِذْ قالَ رَبُّکَ لِلْمَلائِکَةِ إِنِّي جاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَليفَةً قالُوا أَ تَجْعَلُ فيها مَنْ يُفْسِدُ فيها وَ يَسْفِکُ الدِّماءَ وَ نَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِکَ وَ نُقَدِّسُ لَکَ قالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ ما لا تَعْلَمُون
[3] Translation of al-Mizan, vol. 4, p. 223.
[4] Sheikh Saduq, Tawhid, p. 277, vol. 2, Tehran.
[5] Sheikh Saduq, Khisal, vol. 2, p. 652, hadith 54.

Were ancient cavemen also descendants of Prophet Adam (pbuh)?

Adopting caves as homes by the descendants of Prophet Adam (pbuh) is something the Quran confirms.  Yet, since there is substantial evidence that there have also been people before him and we are sure there have been ancient people who have lived in caves, it is up to different clues, their remains and the drawings and writings they have left behind to exactly determine in what era they lived in.
What is for sure is that Prophet Adam’s (pbuh) time doesn’t belong to a very long time back.

In order to answer this question, a few points need to be made:
1- There is a lot of evidence that before Prophet Adam (pbuh), there were humans living on the face of the planet.
Allamah Tabatabai says:

“Verse 3 of surah Baqarah somewhat suggests that before the creation of Prophet Adam (pbuh), there were humans living, giving rise to the question the angels asked Allah (swt) [when He “announced” that He was to appoint Prophet Adam (pbuh) as His vicegerent on earth]: “Will You set in it [earth] someone who will cause corruption in it, and shed blood…?” [1]

In the book Tawhid of Sheikh Saduq, Imam Sadiq (as) has been narrated saying:

“You think that Allah (swt) hasn’t created humans other than yourselves; but He has.  He has created a thousand thousand [a million] “Adams”, and you are the descendants of the final “Adam”. [2]

2- With help from writings and drawings found in caves, it can be proven that humans from this race also lived in caves. [3] The question is, do all of these drawings and writings belong to those who came after Prophet Adam (pbuh)? [4]
Of course, according to what verses of the Quran say, all of those on earth today are descendants of Prophet Adam (pbuh). [5] For instance, Allah (swt) says:

“O Children of Adam! Do not let Satan tempt you, the same way he expelled your parents from paradise” [6]

and as we all know, the Quran is a book to all of humanity, so when it addresses all children of Adam (pbuh), it is actually addressing all people, hence the children of Adam being equal with all the people being addressed by the Quran.
In another verse, He says:

“O mankind! Be wary of your Lord who created you from a single soul, and created its mate from it, and, from the two of them, scattered numerous men and women [across the earth]”. [7]

Therefore, if the things found in caves date back to millions of years ago, one must say that they do not belong to people from our race, but from races before Prophet Adam (pbuh), because Prophet Adam (pbuh) lived about 7000 years ago. [8] But if they belong to after such a date and time, it can be said that even people of this race and descendants of Prophet Adam (pbuh) have lived as cavemen as well.

Of course, comparing buildings today with buildings of that time gives us the conclusion that back then, the building process was a very simple one and people would abide in very simple homes to protect them from the cold, heat and wild animals; these homes being caves or gaps and cleavages between mountains; this being pointed to in the Quran as well.
The Quran says:

…and [He] granted you resorts in the mountains.

“أکنان” is the plural form of “کن” (pronounced “kinn”) which denotes a means of concealment and protection, and that being the reason for why hiding places and caves and refuges in the mountains are all called “کن”.
In this verse, we see that resorts in the mountains have been considered blessings by Allah (swt). [10] Living in caves and in the hearts of mountains even after the advancement of building methods, was common and a sign of civilization, as the Quran says that some would hew homes out of the mountains, enjoining themselves therein by wining and dining!” [11]
Therefore there are great chances that people from the race of Prophet Adam (pbuh) actually did live in caves and there is nothing wrong with such a claim.

[1] Translation of Al-Mizan, vol. 4, p. 223.
[2] Ibid, p. 231.
[3] Some believe that there is no doubt about people living in caves from this race.  Da’eratul-Ma’arefe No (The New Encyclopedia), vol. 4, p. 331.
[4] Translation of Al-Mizan, vol. 4, p. 223.
[5] Translation of Al-Mizan, vol. 4, p. 223.
[6] A’raf:27
[7] Nisa’:1
يا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّکُمُ الَّذي خَلَقَکُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ واحِدَةٍ وَ خَلَقَ مِنْها زَوْجَها وَ بَثَّ مِنْهُما رِجالاً کَثيراً وَ نِساء
[8] For further information, see index: The lifetime of man according to the Quran, Question 701.
[9] Nahl:81.
وَ جَعَلَ لَکُمْ مِنَ الْجِبالِ أَکْناناً
[10] See: Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 11, p. 346.
[11] See: Shu’ara:149.

How was the creation of man according to the Quran?

The Quran has explained the creation of man and his origin using different words and phrases. Some verses say that the initial material man comes from is clay.  Other verses say it is water, while a third group say it is sperm.  Meanwhile a fourth group says it was both clay and sperm together. This signifies that the creation of man consisted of various steps.
Nevertheless, what can be deduced from all of these verses is that man was dirt in the beginning [1], then the dirt was mixed with water making it clay [2], then the clay became foul-smelling [3], after that it became sticky [4], then turned into dry clay [5] and finally life was breathed into it.
Meanwhile, scientists have two theories regarding the creation of creatures, both plants and animals:
a) The theory of evolution or transformism b) Fixism
The theory of evolution says that all forms of organisms weren’t created from the start, but certain organisms gradually evolved into ones we see today. The most complete and developed form of those early organisms is man.  This theory is referred to as “Transformism”. As for the other theory referred to as “Fixism”, it says that all forms of life and organisms were created separately, denying any link and development between various forms.
Although the Quran doesn’t explain the creation of man in detail, not saying anything about the two theories mentioned above, yet what some verses slightly suggest is that the Quran’s standpoint regarding this issue is that different forms of animals and plants (especially man) were created separately, although no verse directly mentions such a matter.

The Quran has explained the creation of man and his origin in different ways; this signifies that the creation of man consisted of various steps.
a) Some verses introduce “clay” as the initial material for the creation of man. [1]
b) Some verses say that man was created from “water”. [2]
c) Other verses only name “sperm” as what man has been created from. [3]
d) In other verses, “Dirt and Sperm” together have been considered the origins of man. [4]
There are two ways of explaining these verses:
1- To say that they are unveiling the way all people are created separately.  For instance, when a verse says that man was created from dirt, it means that dirt turns into food and minerals, food and minerals turn into sperm cells and sperm turns into a fetus; meaning that dirt is our “far” origin, while sperm is nearer to us and our creation.

2- To say that each of the four groups of verses are speaking of specific people and individuals. For instance, since Prophet Adam (pbuh) was the first person to be created, he was made from dirt and clay, and since all people today are descendants of Adam (pbuh) and trace back to him, and he was made from clay, it is correct to say clay is our origin as well.

Therefore, although it may seem at first sight that some Quranic verses aren’t in harmony with others on this issue, yet with a little focus one will be able to tell that there is no contradiction between them, because the truth of the matter is that some of these verses are only speaking of the creation of the first person created, Prophet Adam (pbuh). Clearly, the origin of the first person to ever be created is also considered the origin of those who were created from him; if his origin was clay, it is correct to say that all people were created from clay. This is from one perspective.

From another perspective, all people are looked at separately. Of course, this perspective isn’t in contradiction with the first, meaning that looking at the issue from both perspectives can give the same results. If we say that all people come from sperm, sperm comes from food, food comes from meat, fruit, plants and minerals, which all come from the ground and soil and dirt, then we can say that man is created from dirt, the same thing we said from the other perspective [that said we all come from Prophet Adam (pbuh) who was created from clay]. It is because of these two perspectives that some verses of the Quran are actually only speaking about Prophet Adam (pbuh) [5], while others are speaking of all people in general.  In a verse, Allah (swt) says:

“…I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My spirit…” [6]

and in another verse, He says:

“When your Lord said to the angels,” Indeed I am going to create a human out of a dry clay [drawn] from a foul-smelling mud.  So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down in prostration before him.” [7]

Clearly in these verses, Allah (swt) is speaking of the story of the creation of Prophet Adam (pbuh) and how the angels were ordered to prostrate before him. One can’t interpret Adam (pbuh) as all people, because in the the verses that follow the one mentioned, Satan says

…I will surely mislead and destroy his progeny…[8].

If what was meant by Prophet Adam (pbuh) was all people, it wouldn’t make sense for Satan to say “his progeny”.
Some verses which are more general and have taken the creation of all people into consideration are:

“He is the one who created man from water…” [9]


“He [man] was created from an effusing fluid” [10].

In verses like these, in which it has been stated that man has been created from water or sperm and the like, all people in general are meant.
Anyway, what can definitely be concluded by Quranic verses regarding man’s creation and origin, is that in the beginning, man was soil and dirt [11], that was mixed with water, making it clay [12], then became a foul-smelling clay [13], becoming sticky afterwards [14], and finally becoming dry clay [15]b.
How long each step of the process took and what things factored into each of them is something the human mind currently has no answer to, and it is only Allah (swt) who is truly aware of the answers to these questions.

There are two scientific viewpoints on the creation of living organisms including plants.

a) Evolution or Transformism which says that organisms weren’t in the forms they are seen today, but were lifeless things that turned into single live cells in the oceans and seas because of certain circumstances.
These tiny and invisible live organisms gradually developed into different forms of animals and plants. The most developed form they evolved to is the human being, who had descended from the same single cell as apes and monkeys have.

b) The theory known as “Fixism” which says every form of living organisms was there from the beginning (man being one of them), denying any type of evolution from one form to another.
What the Quran apparently says is that Prophet Adam (pbuh) was created from a dark clay and after his body took form, life and divine spirit was breathed into him and the angels were commanded to prostrate before him; all did so except for Satan. These verses suggest that there is no gap between the creation of Adam (pbuh) from clay and the current form humans have, and that people had this form from the start.

Conclusion: Although the Quran hasn’t directly engaged in explaining which of the two theories is correct, yet its verses suggest that the second theory is correct (of course regarding the creation of man), although once again, these verses don’t explicitly mention it. One good reminder before closing is that man was created from two different entities; one being very high and the other very low in value.  Man’s material side, which consists of reeking dark clay, is very low, while his spiritual side is very high, because it bears the divine spirit Allah (swt) has granted him.
What is important regarding this subject, is that the initial material used to create man is worthless and very low, but Allah (swt) has created such a valuable creature from it than can ascend to the highest levels of nearness to Him.

For further information, refer to:
1- Allamah Tabatabai, Al-Mizan, vol. 4 and 17.
2- Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 11, p. 82 and on and vol. 23.
3- Mohammad Taqi Mesbah, Rahnama Shenasi.
4- Mohammad Ali Rezai, Pajooheshi dar I’jaze Elmiye Quran, vol. 2, pp. 429-564.
5- Yadollah Sobhai, Khelqate Ensan.
6- Saduq, Ilalul-Sharaye’, vol. 15, chapter 11.

[1] Hajj:5.
[2] An’am:2.
[3] Hijr:28.
[4] Saffat:11.
[5] Rahman:14
[1] An’am:1; Sajdah:7; Saffat:18
[2] Furqan:54; Tariq:6.
[3] Nahl:4; Yasin:77; Dahr:2; Abas:19; and other verses.
[4] Hajj:5; Ghafir:67; Fatir:11; Kahf:37.
[5] Sad:72; Hijr:29.
[6] Sad:72.
[7] Hijr:29.
[8] Isra’:62.
[9] Furqan:54.
[10] Tariq:5-6.
[11] Hajj:5.
[12] An’am:2.
[13] Hijr:28.
[14] Saffat:11.
[15] Rahman:14.

Can a man, from Islam’s viewpoint, be born twice in the world?

If what you mean is, to be born again in this world, it will suffice to say, that it is possible only by a miraculous power as has been done before; for example, Jesus (a.s) who gave life to the dead, and is confirmed in the Qur’an. But if you mean reincarnation (holul) and the transmigration of souls (tanasukh) – whereby the soul of a dead person comes to life in another body and enters the world – then Islamically and in actuality, this is a null-and-void theory.