Proof of Belief (First pillar of belief)

>> Saturday, October 11, 2008

The next series of posts will be entitled the proof of belief and give the four pillars of belief and their 10 bases. Today we deal with only the 1st pillar and its 10 bases. In the original text Imam Ghazzali 1st tells all the pillars and then gives us the 10 bases for each. However for the sake of organization I will give you one pillar at a time and all of its 10 bases. Furthermore as with our posts of volume one chapter one which dealt entirely about knowledge, volume one chapter two deal entirely on the topic of Aqeedah. And just as I said in my last post, I neither deny nor confirm if this is what I follow, nor will I support or attack Imam Ghazzali's work. I only wish to provide Imam Ghazzali's words so you may make a descision about him and not just listen to certain people who attack him without even refering to his texts and his words perverting your views on a great man.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

Proof of Belief
Iman or belief is founded upon four pillars, each of which has got ten bases:

First pillar. It is the knowledge of essence of God and it is established upon ten bases. They are the knowledge and belief that God is existing, eternal, ancient, without form, without body, without length and breadth, without any special direction, occupying no space, object of vision in the next world and He is one without any partner.
The basic principles of faith for knowledge of God (10 bases of the 1st pillar).
The first basic principle is to have knowledge of the existence of God. The first light which illumines faith and the first thing to be followed is the Quran and there is no word better than the word of God. God says: Have I not made the earth a couch, mountains its tents? I have created you of two sex and ordained your sleep for rest, night as a mantle and day for gaining livelihood. I created above you seven solid heavens and placed therein a burning lamp and I sent down waters in abundance from clouds that I might bring forth by it corns and herbs and gardens thick with trees (78 : 6). God says: In the creation of the heaven and the earth and in the alternation of night and day and in the ships which pass through the sea with what is useful to man and in the rain which God sends down from heaven, giving life by it to the earth after its death and by scattering over all kinds of earth and in the change of the winds and in the clouds that are made to do service between heaven and earth, are signs for those who understand (2 : 159). God says: Don't you see how God created the seven heavens one over the other, placed therein the moon as a light and the sun as a torch and God caused you to spring forth from the earth like a plant. He will turn you back into it again and will bring you forth main (71 : 14). God said: Don't you see the germ of life? Is it you who created it or I? I have decreed death among you and I shall not be overcome to change your forms and create you what you know not (56 : 58).
It is clear that if he who has got a little intellect and ponders over these verses and looks to the wonderful creations of the heavens and the earth will realise that without a great Designer these workmanship are impossible. The human soul naturally testifies that God exists and that everything is governed by His Laws. For this reason God says: Is there any doubt about God, the Creator of heavens and earth ? (14 : 11) The Prophets were therefore sent by Him to call the people towards monotheism 'there is no deity but God.' They were not commanded to say: For us there is one God and for the world another God, because such a thing was inborn in their minds from the time of their birth. God said: If you ask them who has created the heavens and the earth they will reply 'God'. God said: Turn your face then towards the true faith, the natural religion whereon God created men 30 : 30. Therefore there are testimonies of the Quran and human nature which are sufficient proofs. All other proofs are unnecessary but still we shall prove by the proof of knowledge that God exists.
Proof of Knowledge
A new thing cannot come into existence without a cause. The world is an originated new thing and it did not come into existence without a cause. That a thing cannot come into existence without a cause is clear, for such a thing belongs to a certain definite time and it also comes to our intellect that it comes at a fixed time without precedence or subsequence, because of the urgency of its fixed time. The world is a new or originated thing. Its proof is found in the fact that it is not free from motion and rest which are the characteristics of every new material thing. Even motion and rest are two new originated things not free from changes. The world and whatever exists in it are originated things. There are three matters in this argument. Firstly, a body is not free from motion and rest. It requires no meditation. Secondly, motion and rest themselves are originated things. Its proof is that one comes after another. It is found in all bodies. What is static can move and what is moving can become static according to the dictates of intellect. If any of the above two things is predominant over the body, it becomes a new even. A new thing is originated because of its emergence, an old thing is distant because of its extinction. If the eternity of a thing is established, its extinction is impossible as we shall prove it by the subsistence of the creation. Thirdly, what is not free from changes is an originated or new thing or whatever is not independent of originated things is itself originated. Its proof is that if it were not so, the world before every new thing may change which has got no beginning and unless these new things come to nought, the turn for the present new things to come into being would never come. But it is impossible for a thing which has no end to come to nought.
Another reason is that if there is no end of the motion of heavenly bodies, three conditions would arise-their numbers would be either odd or even, or both odd and even, or neither odd nor even. The last two are impossible, as positive and negative are united therein, since the affirmation of one is the negation of another and negation of one is the affirmation of another. They cannot be even, as even number becomes odd by the addition of one. That which has no end cannot be even without change. They cannot be odd, because the number becomes even with the addition of one. How can it change into odd when its number has got no end? From this, it is concluded that the world is not free from changes and therefore it is an originated thing. When it is an originated thing, it requires a Creator to bring it into existence. The second basic principle is the knowledge that God is eternal. He has got no beginning and no end; He is the final of everything and before everything living or dead. Its proof is this. If lie were an originated thing and not eternal. He would have need of a Creator who would also have need of a Creator. Thus it would have continued without end. Whatever comes in succession ends in an ancient creator which is the first. For this reason, the Creator is the First and the Last, the Creator of the world and its Fashioner.
Third basic principle. It is that God is everlasting without end. lie is the first and the last, the open and the secret. When the attribute of eternity has been established his end becomes impossible. Its proof is this. If He had an end, He would have remained in two conditions, either he would come to nought by Himself or through an opposing annihilating agent. If it is possible lot a thing which is self-existing to come to nought, it is also possible for that thing to come into existence. The reason is that if a thing requires a cause to come to existence, it also requires a cause to come to nought. It is not possible that a thing comes to nought after meeting with an opposing agent. If that thing which comes to nought is eternal, how does the form of existence of a thing become? It is not also possible that an originated thing coming before an eternal thing loses its identity and existence. God is eternal as we have learnt it from previous discussions. How then did He exist in eternity with His opposites? If the opposite is an originated thing, its existence from eternity is impossible.
Fourth basic principle. It is that God is without form, not copying any space and free from space, motion and rest. Its proof is this. Every form occupies a space and moves and stays in it. Body has got motion and rest which are the character of originated things. What is not free from changes is an originated thing. If any form is limited by space and is eternal, it is understood the substance of the creation of the world is eternal. If a man Mays that God has got body and occupies space, he commits blonder for using such word and not for its meaning.
Fifth basic principle. It is that God is not composed of a body having different substances. When He does not occupy any space, He has got no body as every body is limited by space and composed of different substances. The substances of the body are not free from division, composition, motion, rest, form and quantity. These are the qualities of an originated thing. If it were possible to believe that the Creator of the world has got a body, then it would be possible to attribute divinity of the sun and the moon and other heavenly bodies. If a designer wishes to make a body without the substance of body, he will commit mistake.
Sixth basic principle. God has got no length and breadth as these are attributes of a body which is an originated thing. Its Creator existed from before it. So how will He enter in a body as He existed by Himself before all originated things and there was nobody along with Him. He is All-knowing, Almighty, Willing Creator. These attributes are impossible for a body. He exists by Himself without the substances of a body. He is not like any worldly thing, rather He is ever-living, everlasting and nothing is like Him. Where is the similarity of the Creator with the created, the Fashioner with the fashioned? Hence it is impossible that anything is like Him.
Seventh basic principle. It is that God is not confined within any direction as He created directions, either above or below, right or left, front or behind. He created two directions for man. one
rests on earth called the direction of feet and one above his head What rests above head is above and what rests below feet is below. To an ant, below the roof, the above portion is its lower side and the lower side is its upper side though they are contrary in out case. He created for man two hands one right hand and another left. Accordingly there is right hand direction and the left hand direction. Then there are front direction and back direction. When direction is an originated thing, how can He be governed by that? Along with the creation of men, directions have been created. There is nothing above God, because He has got no head and the word 'above' is connected with head. There is nothing below Him as the word 'below' is connected with feet and God has no feet. If He is above the world, there is a direction opposite to it and every opposite thing has got a body like it or similar to it. But God is free from it. He is unique, He is the Designer. Eighth basic principle. It is that God is seated upon His Throne, that is upon power. It is not inconsistent with the attribute of His grandeur and the symptoms of origination and annihilation. This is what is meant by the following verse of the Quran: Then He ascended to heaven and it was then but smoke-(4 1 : 10). It means His dominion and power as the poet said:
Bishr has gained power in Iraq,
Without sword and shedding blood.
The people of truth accepted this interpretation as the people of untruth were compelled to accept the interpretation of these words of God: He is with you wherever you are (57 : 4). This means that Ile encompasses everything. This is supported by the following Hadith: `The heart of a believer is within two fingers of the Merciful,' meaning within His power or might. It is also supported by the following Hadis: 'The Black Stone is the right hand of God In the earth,' meaning it is established on honour in the earth. If its meaning is taken literally, the result would be impossible. His taking rest on the Throne means this. If it is taken literally, it becomes possible to believe that He has got a body and the Throne is also a body limited by space. It is impossible.
Ninth basic principle. It is that although God is free from form, space and direction. He is an object to be seen in the hereafter as He said: On that day shall faces beam with looking towards their Lord (75 : 22). He is not visible in this world as God Maid: Vision does not comprehend Him, but He comprehends vision (6: 103), also because of the following verse: God addressed Muses saying: You cannot see Me (7 :109). I don't understand how the Mutazalites hold that God is visible in this world also though Moses could not see Him. Insight is a kind of Kashf and knowledge, and Kashf is more clear than knowledge. When God has got connection with knowledge and not with direction, He has sot connection also with insight without any direction. As God sees Ills creation though not in front, the creation also sees Him though not in front. As it is possible to know Him without modality or lot in, it is also possible to see Him likewise.
Tenth basic principle. It is that God is without any partner, single without any like. He is unique in ever new creations, innovations, and inventions. There is nothing like Him. The Quran says: Had there been any other God therein, they would have gone to ruin (21 : 22). If the first God willed something, the second would have been compelled to aid the first and thus he would have been subordinate to him. This means that he would have no supreme power. If the second is to oppose the first, he would be powerful and the first would be weak rather than an Almighty God.