View Full Version : Achieving Certainty in Belief

05-15-2010, 01:28 PM
Achieving Certainty in Belief (

A vital issue for all Muslims is the question of attaining absolute conviction in the existence of Allah (swt) and His revelation. Attaining this level of belief and keeping this connection to Allah is critical for us in this life as it will align our thoughts, attitudes, and actions with that which Allah (swt) has revealed, so that we can work for the reward of the Hereafter rather than the temporary pleasures of this worldly life.
A recent survey conducted by Canadian Press Harris-Decima found that 72% of Canadians believe in God, while 23% do not. The article noted that the trend of denying the existence of Allah (swt) was stronger amongst youth than in older people. The survey noted that 82% of people over the age of 50 believe in God. In contrast, 60% of youth polled denied that God exists.

Proving the existence of Allah: Its Necessity
As demonstrated by the poll, the existence of the Creator is seen within secular society as a matter of personal curiosity. However, the issue of whether the Creator exists is not something that belongs at the margins of society. In fact, such a perspective is inherently secular, as it is the secular system of thought that forces man to be indifferent to this concept and prevents it from influencing the functioning of society.

In contrast to this secular perspective, attaining certainty in belief is not simply an academic exercise for the Believer. Rather it is an integral part of his understanding of the nature of this world and his role as a human being in it. As Muslims, we must attain certain and absolute belief that Allah (swt) is the one and only Creator, that the Quran is from Allah (swt), and that Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the last and final messenger. The belief in these concepts forms the basis by which we think and act on a daily basis. Allah (swt) condemns disbelievers in the Quran for basing their belief on a shaky foundation:

“Those who believe not in the Hereafter, name the angels with female names. And they have no knowledge thereof. They follow but a guess, and lo! a guess can never take the place of the truth.” [TMQ 53:27-28]

As Muslims, we can not build our aqeedah on shaky grounds. We must have 100% certainty that we were created by Allah (swt) and that He sent Rasulullah (saw) with the final message of Islam, and that we will be held accountable for abiding by His commandments and abstaining from the prohibitions contained within the shariah.

Allah (swt) has revealed:

“Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight - are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious” [TMQ 9:24]

This verse illustrates that embracing the aqeedah of Islam necessarily requires us to stop judging actions in terms of worldly benefit and harm, i.e. whether we are going to lose money or relationships with our family, friends, etc. Instead, we must evaluate actions solely in terms of whether it will earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure or earn His wrath. Therefore we must put Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) ahead of any other consideration.

Once we have established this foundation, the challenge is to stay connected to Allah (swt) on a constant basis. Lack of this connection with the Akhira (afterlife) inevitably leads to a gap between people’s behaviour and the commandments of Allah (swt).

Are we here to serve Allah (swt) or to have fun?
Muslims would correctly respond to this question and identify the sole purpose of life as being obedient to Allah (swt). Allah (swt) has revealed:

“I created the jinn and mankind only that they
worship Me." [TMQ 51:56]

But, although our answer to the question is correct, we must nevertheless assess whether worshiping Allah (swt) is truly our highest priority. The challenge arises when the hukm regarding a certain matter can limit one’s ease in this life. For example, the issue of housing is a challenge for Muslims all over the world. The dilemma is whether one should rent forever or become involved in riba (interest) transactions to purchase a home. If the person places a higher priority on having fun, he/she will go and find an opinion that suits his/her desire. However, a Muslim who places the worship of Allah (swt) as the highest priority will exert his/her utmost effort in understanding the evidences from the Quran and Sunnah and choosing the opinion that will please Allah (swt) the most – even if it means renting for the rest of his/her life.

Existence of Allah (swt): It’s Common Sense
Due to the influence of secular philosophy, the discussion of the proof of Allah’s (swt) existence can become entangled in irrelevant arguments. The reality is that the existence of Allah (swt) is common sense. As an example, Allah (swt) revealed the conclusion that Ibrahim (as) came to when he assessed the ability of the stars, moon, and sun to be his lords:

“When he saw the sun rising in splendour, he said: "This is my Lord; this is the greatest (of all)." But when the sun set, he said: "O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah.” [TMQ 6:78]

Ibrahim (as) realized – without a PhD in physics – that the sun was limited and therefore dependent on something other than itself for its existence. Using our faculties of reason we come to the exact same conclusion. The matter that composes the stars, the moon, and the sun, as well as all living things, is limited, weak and subject to laws that are beyond its control. Countless laws contain and control matter, which leads to the irrefutable conclusion that matter is indeed subject to limitations. For example, when heat is applied, and other conditions are kept constant, water consistently boils at the same temperature. This shows that it is limited, and similarly all matter is limited. Because matter is limited, it needs something other than itself to come into existence. That is, matter is dependent on Allah (swt); the one and only Creator who has no beginning, no limitation, and depends on nothing. Everything depends on Him.

As for the arguments raised within the debate halls and on the pages of philosophical textbooks, they are largely based on speculation with no connection to any sensed reality (ie: the real world perceived through our 5 senses). The implication of such arguments is to support the secular view point, which holds that there is only this worldly life. We cannot take such arguments at face value. Instead we must challenge the premise of these arguments, in the same way that Allah (swt) refuted such arguments in the Quran:

“The disbelievers say: “There is nothing but our life of this world. We live and die; nothing but time destroys us." In fact, they have no knowledge concerning this. They are merely guessing.” [TMQ 45:24]

The role of the mind in achieving belief
The mind is the essential tool by which we become convinced that the basis of Islam is correct. However, this does not change the fact that our minds are limited. Using only our own faculties, we are not capable of understanding why Allah (swt) made something halal or haram – unless He reveals the reason to us. Allah (swt) has revealed:

“It may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.”
[TMQ 2:218]

Based on this ayah, it is clear that only Allah (swt) knows best when He prescribes a certain thing – be it salat, forbidding riba (interest) or establishing the Khilafah – how it will be of benefit to us in this life. However, this is a by-product of adhering to Allah’s (swt) commands. The real value is in obtaining Allah’s (swt) pleasure on the Day of Judgment.

Is it really worth it?
When moulding our thoughts, attitudes and actions we must realize that the enjoyment of this world is the enjoyment of delusion; the real enjoyment is in the hereafter:

“You should know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, a show and boasting among yourselves, a quest for greater riches and more children. Its similitude is that of vegetation that flourishes after rain: the growth of which delights the tillers, then it withers and you see it turn yellow, soon it becomes dry and crumbles away. In the hereafter there will be either severe punishment or forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure. The life of this world is nothing but an illusion” [TMQ 57:20]

We must also heed the following advice of Rasullah (saw):

"Live in this world as if you are a stranger or a traveler." [Bukhari]

We must constantly struggle to maintain this realization, by reflecting on the creation of the heavens and the earth, as Allah (swt) revealed:

"Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alteration of night and day, these are indeed signs for men of understanding." [TMQ 3:190]

We must build the habit of visualizing the hukm of Allah (swt). For example, when thinking of riba we should take the time to connect it to the consequences that Allah (swt) has mentioned in the Quran or in the ahadith, which states:

“Riba has seventy segments, the least serious being equivalent to a man committing adultery with his own mother."

Therefore, when someone suggests that it is okay to deal with riba in order to get a house, we should know that it is similar to saying it is okay to commit adultery with one’s own mother in order to get a house! Obviously, we find such an idea repulsive. However, that is the point – to know how abhorrent it truly is to deal with riba.

To see a direct connection between our actions and the consequences on the Day of Judgment, we will have to immerse ourselves in ayat and ahadith that talk about the Day of Judgment, the punishment of Jahanam, and the reward of Jannah:

[I]“There shall be layers of fire above them and layers of fire beneath them. Such is the doom about which Allah wants His servants to have fear, and says: “O My servants, avoid My wrath." [TMQ 39:16]

“Truly the Righteous will be in Bliss, on Thrones (of Dignity) will they command a sight (of all things). You will recognise in their faces the beaming brightness of Bliss. Their thirst will be slaked with Pure Wine sealed. Whose seal is musk - for this let (all) those strive who strive for bliss.” [TMQ 83:22-26]

May Allah (swt) guide our hearts and minds to be aligned with that which He has revealed.

“They said to each other 'Do not go forth in the heat.' Say to them: 'The fire of hell is much more severe in heat.' If only they could understand!" [TMQ 9:81]