A fascinating debate between Imam Jafar Al Sadiq AS and an Indian atheist.
Known as the Tradition of Halila (which is a fruit which grows on trees), the original Arabic can be found in Allamah Majlisi’s (d. 1110 AH) collection of hadith titled : Bihār al-Anwār, vol.3, p.152-196. I have also collected the original Arabic with chain of narration here.
The Tradition of Halilia
Mufaddal bin ‘Umar al-Jau`fi wrote a letter to Hazrat Imam Ja’far al-As-Sadiq (A) that some people held the “No Allah” theory and contested among themselves with groundless arguments. He requested the Imam (A) to refute these atheists, as he (the Imam) had done on previous occasions.
The Imam replied, “In the name of the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate Allah. May He the Almighty give us the good sense of ever remaining obedient to His will, drawing down upon us His pleasure and mercy.
Your letter with reference to those evils that have crept into our midst is in our hands You mention that these ‘atheistically disputes’ and controversies have become a menace to our religion (Islam), and you desire me to publish a book in condemnation and contradiction of them, as I have done (for antagonists and opponents of Allah) before.
Let us offer our thanks to Allah-the Most High for all His blessings to us, and for His Hujjat (proof) incomparable, and the justice of trial with which he tests His favorite as well as His ordinary slaves. One of the greatest and most important favors from Him is the establishment of convincing proof-deep in the innermost heart of each creature that ‘He is’. Thus He has secured the vow of His ma’arefat (knowledge of His being) from all His creatures, and has sent (through His prophet) His sacred book Qur’an, which contains efficacious remedies for all doubts and suspicions.
Allah has done all this for man. He has neither left him nor any other thing dependent upon others save Him. He has directly proved Himself. He himself is indeed independent and the praised. By my life these men in their ignorance are losers, when they deny the existence of Allah in the face of all those perfect and clear proofs and signs which surround them.
The sky, the earth and the wonderful things pertaining to both, evince beyond all doubts, the existence of some creator. These men have opened for themselves a gate leading to a crime. They seek their relief in insatiable, incessant worldly pursuits. Their sensual desire has blighted the purity of their hearts. For their oppression and tyranny, Allah has abandoned them. Satan has assumed dominion over them. Thus Allah seals the hearts of the proud and the arrogant.
It is a matter of great surprise that man seeing in himself perfect creation, can still so unreasonably refute the theory of a perfect Creator. The structure of the body, the perfection of its design and its connection with some spiritual thing called the soul, reveal or manifest its creator to be of extraordinary wisdom and intellect. I vow by my life that these men have bestowed no thought upon the question, or else they must have observed this distinct and vivid perfection in creation, e.g. the design of the universe, and the knowledge that these things once were not in existence, should have called forth an unhesitating affirmation of a creator.
There is not a single thing that does not show signs of Allah Who created it. I write to you an account of the arguments I had with an atheist physician of India. He visited me frequently, always discussing his “No Allah” theory and placing forth all his arguments in support of it. Once while pounding halila (Myrobalan fruit), a new idea came to him. “This Universe”, said he suddenly, has existed for eternity before, and will still exist for eternity.
One tree grows and another withers; one in born whilst the other dies; and the link that binds them together existed in the past, and will exist in the future. Your claim to the divine knowledge is a baseless one, founded on no such actual proof as to justify the existence of Allah. It can only be called a belief, a belief inherited from your forefathers and traditions”.
Proceeding with the same force, he went on to say: “The existence of various things of the Universe whether real or not could only be determined through the medium of the five senses. Eyes with which we see, ears by which we hear, nose by which we smell and hands and feet with which we touch and feel”.
Continuing the chain of his arguments to the extent of his self-made principles, he said, “Now I have never known Allah through any of the above mentioned senses, and cannot therefore believe in Him. But I request that you will let me hear those arguments with which you convince others”. When he reached thus far I said: “I prove His existence by the inherent instinct of His being, which each man, whether an affirmed atheist or not, has in him”.
“How can you say so?” He asked. “The mind cannot know the existence of any thing through any medium but that of the five senses. Have you seen Allah, heard His voice, smelled Him, tasted Him with your tongue, or touched Him with your hands or feet? How could one realize Him?”
“Your denial of Allah, then is”, said I, “because, you have not felt Him with the senses given to us for knowing objects, I too have not felt Him with either of them. But my belief is as strong as your disbelief, both cannot be right; do you admit this?”
“Most certainly” he replied. “Either you are mistaken or I am”.
“Very well”, said I, “If you are right, there is no danger for me in threatening you with Allah’s displeasure for your disbelief”.
“No”, said he, “You shall be in no danger.”
“If I am right”, asked I, “Do you not think that you will suffer the punishment for your disbelief, and I shall receive a reward, for being away from your opinions?”
“Quite possibly” he replied.
“Will you tell me”, I asked, “which of us is the wiser, granting the possibility of both the situations?”
“Oh”, He replied. “Your belief is a presumption, a groundless assertion, while mine is a truth, based upon common sense. I do not perceive Him by my senses, therefore He does not exist”.
“When your senses”, said I “could not perceive Allah, you disbelieved Him, While I, on the contrary, believed in Him, because my senses failed to discern Him. The very theory that made you disbelieve, compelled me to believe in Him”.
“How is it possible?” he asked.
“Because”, I replied, “things are ‘murakkab‘ (compound, made of parts). Every murakkab possesses shape and color that attracts the senses. Therefore, that which is felt or known by the senses, having shape and color, cannot be Allah.
Your argument for disbelief is foolish, because Allah cannot be like any of the things perceived by the senses, nor can He be said to bear any resemblance to anything which has to undergo an ordeal of change and decay. For, everything is under the one and the same law-the law of transformation and decline. Allah, our creator cannot be perceivable by the five senses you mention; for, He is not a thing-which is murakkab or created. ……………If He was visible to the eye, and perceivable to the senses, He would have resembled the things that are visible and perceivable to the senses on account of their being murakkab and created, and in that case He would no longer have remained a creator”.
“What nonsense you talk?” said he. “No, I cannot believe unless I perceive by any of these five senses”.
Since he so persistently adhered to this theory, the folly of which I strove to point out, I said, “I charge you then for the very defect you accused me of. Your claim is without reason and proofs also. Your arguments are too on the same lines, as, you thought, were mine; and for which you had such an aversion”.
“How can I be held liable for the same defect as you?” he asked.
“You, in the beginning”, replied I, “falsely reproached me with this that my claim to the knowledge of Allah was purely traditional and had no actual basis for the fact. That imputation is now applicable to you, because you persist in the theory, that a thing not known through the medium of the senses is not existent, though strong evidence proves it otherwise. You disregard the arguments, and all messages from Allah through the prophets and the favored ones of Allah tell me, ‘have you visited every corner of this world?’“
“Of course not”, he said.
I went on. “Have you ever ascended or visited this sky, which you behold with your eyes, or been in the depths of the earth? Have you traversed the world, dived in every sea, and moved through the atmosphere? To presumptuously deny the existence of an Omniscient, Omnipotent Creator, you must have been to all these places”.
“No, he said, “You know I have never”.
“Well”, I said, “How can you say that He is not in those places where neither you nor your senses have ever been?” Perhaps, He may be living there”.
“I cannot be certain” he said. “Perhaps a person of extraordinary intelligence may reside in one of those places”.
“As”, I went on, “you have admitted the probability of a creator, you will, I hope, be convinced to admit the certainty. From flat denial you have come to doubt, from that perhaps to faith”.
“This doubt”, he said, “is the result of the question you put about the places that my senses have not seen, but I am at a loss to understand how a thing can be said to exist unless felt by them”.
“Well, I explain this, and bring you to a belief through the medium of this halila”.
“Oh yes”, he said. “Try. The halila will be very suitable for it is one of the fruits of medical science, in which I am well versed”.
“I take the halila”, I said, “Because it is nearest to us. Had anything else been there instead, it could also have proved Allah’s existence”.
“Everything murakkab is created. Creation shows a creator. That, which was not is, and that which is, is destroyed by Allah. Allah made it and destroyed it. Tell me do you see this “halila? “
“I do”, he said. “Can you see”, I asked, “what is in its interior?”
“Then there must not be a stone in this one”, I said, “for you do not see it with your eyes”.
“How can I say that?”he replied; “but there may not be one”.
“Nor”, I persisted, “a kernel hidden under the shell nor color within?”
“I know nothing”, he replied, “both may be absent”,
“I am sure”, I said, “you will at once admit that it can be had in India, for all Indian physicians agree on this point”.
“They may be wrong in their opinion”, he said, “I do not admit it”.
“All right”, said I. “but you at least believe that this fruit grows in some part of the world”.
He said “This earth is like that and I have seen that place where it grows”,
I said, “Will you believe by the presence of this halila that there are other halilas, which you do not see with your eyes?”I asked,
“No”, he replied obstinately. “This may be the only one of its kind in the world,”
Seeing him thus willfully bent upon ignorance, I asked him, what he thought the halila to be? Whether it was a product of a tree or it had come into existence by itself?
“I am not foolish to say that it has come into existence by itself. It is emphatically the product of a tree”
“Then, you admit”, said I, “the existence of a tree which you have not seen”
“Yes” he said “But add that the halila tree like all other things has self-existed for all eternity. Can you refute this belief of mine?”
“Yes”, I said, “in connection with the halila, have you seen the tree from which this one came? Do you now it perfectly well?”
“Yes”, he answered,
“Did you see the halila before it came into existence?”
“No, how could I?”
“Then perhaps”, said I “it might have happened thus:
“When you saw the tree first, it had no halilas. But next time you saw it, it had. Will you therefore believe that the halilas came into existence from the state of non-existence?”
“Why not?” I believe it, “but I say, what went to make a halila was already in the tree, which in due course of time got united and formed a halila”.
“Had you seen the seed from which the halila sprang up?” I asked.
“Yes I had”, he replied.
“Does it sound perfectly consistent to you to say said I “that the roots, branches, bark, leaves and all the fruits, which combined together, weigh many tons, were lying concealed in so small a seed?”
“No”, said he. “I cannot understand how all these things could be concealed in one seed”.
“Will you admit that they could not be present in the seed, but came into existence afterwards?”
“Yes”, he said. “But I do not say that they we created by some one, and you cannot prove it to me”.
“Why not?” said I, “if I show you a design or a painting you will have to believe that it was done by some one”.
“Yes”, he said.
“Does it not strike you that this halila is made upon a fixed standard-special?
Color, special size, special seed, special taste-some portion of its kernel is soft, while the rest hard-one portion coalescing into another has formed a compound-there is a layer over layer, body over body, and color over color? It has a hard material enveloped by a soft one. Its structure is composed of particles allied together. Its yellow color has a whitish tinge. It has a skin to preserve it from external influences. Roots to convey moisture. Leaves that preserve it from the sun lest it be burnt and scorched to ashes, or the cold, lest it be reduced to thinness and lose its vigor”?
“Would it not have been better”, asked he, “to cover the seed with leaves?”
“Allah was the best judge”, I replied, “Had it been covered with leaves as you suggest, the air without, which gives it strength and vigor would not have reached it. It could not have been influenced by the cold which makes it robust. The sun would have had no power to ripen it. It would have gone rotten. These different influences proportionately divided, held to bring the fruit to perfection designed by the powerful wisdom of Allah- the Almighty”.
“The seed in its rudimentary state”, said I “was neither kernel nor shell. It had neither color nor taste. It was only water”.
“Yes”, he said, “this I know”.
“If Allah”, said I, “had not strengthened the drop of water, which was no bigger than a mustard seed, suggested its shape, proportionately divided its particles, how could that very small drop of water have reached its present state of development? How could it have assumed its present form, uncombined as it was with shell or particles? Presume some development. But it would be in size and bulk and should only have consisted in the increase of water. It could not have scientifically assumed its present shape- it would have had no definite shape”.
“You prove to me”, he said, “beyond all doubts, the existence of some one who has created these things. Your arguments about the tree’s growth, its development, its mode of bearing fruit, the shape of that fruit, have convinced me. But why make it a distinct creator? Why not say these things have created themselves of their own accord!”
“Because”, replied I, “the design points to a perfect intelligence. Does it not?”
“Yes, it does”, He admitted. “It is obvious”.
“Then”, I asked, “Do you think it consistent to say that perfect intelligence and wisdom came into existence from non-existence?”
“No”, he replied.
“Do you not know”, I asked, “that this halila is ‘haadith‘, i.e. it did not exist before, but came into existence afterwards? And that it also perishes, and returns to non-existence.
“Yes, I do know this”, he replied “This halila may be haadith. But I did not say that its creator was ‘haadith‘, and that he could not create his own being. It is possible that he may be ‘haadith‘, or he may be ‘Wajib-ul-wujud’ (self-existing from all eternity)”.
“A little while ago”, said I, “you admitted that the creator could not be ‘haadith‘, but the ‘halila‘ was ‘haadith‘. Tell me then, how the fruit which is a created thing (haadith), created itself. When you declare halila fruit to be a created thing, it necessarily follows that you do not think it to be its own creator. If, however, you resume your old standpoint of argument, persisting in saying the fruit to be its own creator, you are admitting what at first you denied, You have possessed consciousness of perfect intelligence, though the proper name and its attributes are not known to you.”
“How is it”, he asked, “that I now admit what I first denied?”
“It is thus:” I replied. “When you admitted the existence of some wise and perfect intelligence, you admitted Allah. But called it by the name of ‘halila‘, instead of calling it Allah. If you had used but a little discretion and reflection, you must have realized that the halila had no power to create or design itself”.
“Have you other proofs besides this?” he asked, “or this is all?”
“I have many”, I replied. ‘Will you tell me why this halila which you say to have created itself, is so insignificant and powerless a thing that it can not save itself from being plucked, squeezed and devoured?”
“Because it has only the power of creating itself” he said.
“If you are inclined to persist in your obstinacy, do so; but at least assure me as to when this halila created itself-whether it did it before it came into existence, or afterwards? If you say afterwards, your assertion is absurd. Because it is impossible for a thing to create its own self when it was already created. The purpose of your assertion would be that the halila made itself twice. It would mean that its first endeavors consisted in creating itself, and when it was quite ready and created, it created itself again. This is the most absurd and impossible theory-the acquisition of what is already acquired (tahsil-e-hasil).
If you say that it created itself before it came into existence, it is really stupid. Because it was absolutely nothing before it came into existence. How is it possible for a non-existing thing to create another thing? You consider my belief in an existing thing that creates another non-existing thing as absurd. But you do not consider your own, as to the non-existing thing having the power to create an already existing thing, as absurd and stupid. Be yourself the judge, and tell me whose theory is absurd and irrational”.
“Yours”, said he, “is the most correct”.
“Then why do you not accept it?” said I.
“I do accept” he replied. “I am quite clear about the truth and veracity of the fact that the things, including halila, are neither created by themselves nor depend on themselves for their growth and functioning. But a doubt arises in my mind that the tree may perhaps be the creator of the ‘halila‘; because ‘halila‘ is the product of the tree”.
“Well”, asked I, “who made the tree then?”
“This is all the same” said I, “Rather fix a limit. Else our arguments must go round and round in a circle, having no goal or termination. If you want to come to any conclusion believe the creator to be Allah, and terminate the chain of arguments. If you prefer your own belief for the sake of not arriving at a final decision I will question you once more upon it.”
“Do question me”, said he.
“Is it not right”, I asked, “that the tree springs up from the halila, after the halila becomes extinct?
“Yes”, he replied.
“The tree lives about a hundred years after the death of halila, (which you think is the creator of the tree). Tell me then, who preserves the tree and makes it thick and strong? Who nourishes it, guards it and provides the leaves? Surely you must say that it was He Who created it. If you call the ‘halila‘ the creator, and say that a dead thing manages the above mentioned things, your words convey no meaning. Because the words ‘creator’ and ‘guardian’ mean one and the same, and it is impossible for a dead creator to be guardian. Moreover, the tree begins to grow only when the halila begins to dissolve and annihilate itself. When the tree attains full growth, the halila seed is dead. In this case tell me who remains to guard, nourish and design the tree?”
“That I cannot say”, said he.
“Why don’t you believe”, I asked, “that it is Allah, the Almighty? Surely you can have no more doubts lingering in your mind”.
“I have some”, he said. “You have not yet given me convincing proofs of His existence”.
“If you will still persist in your absurd theory that existing things must be known through the medium of five senses, let me tell you that the senses can not know anything except through the mind’s medium. The mind is the true guide. It is the mind which brings all things into close affinity. Your assertion is quite the reverse of this. You hold that the mind has no power whatsoever to know anything without the intermeddling of the senses-quite a wrong assertion”.
“Your argument is quite new”, he said, “Before I admit it, I must have details”.
“Then I begin to give you some.”
I said. “You must know that when one sense or even if all the senses become useless, ears deafened, eyes blinded, smelling power vanished, the mind alone regulates the respective functions of the senses. The mind only guides one to perform a particular thing or avoid it; and things done by its suggestion bring about a very wholesome result”.
“Your argument”, he said, “seems a very strong one, but explains it to me more distinctly and concisely”.
“Alright”, asked I. “Do you know that the mind survives the death of the senses?”
“Yes”, he replied. “But its feeling and knowledge of things vanish with the senses. For instance, ears can hear but not so the mind; it is deaf with the ears”
“Do you know’? Asked I, “that when a mother gives birth to a child, that child’s senses have no power to act. The senses are quite unfit to perform any function at that period of life”.
“Yes, I do know” he replied.
“Tell me then”, said I “which of the senses suggested the child to cry for milk, and to be cheerful and jolly when it sucked it? Which of the senses excited the birds of prey, and the birds that feed on grain to supply their young ones with flesh and grain respectively? Why does one feed on flesh, and the other smaller kind on grain? Again regarding ‘water fowl’-why are they able to swim, on the surface of the water, and those inhabiting the land drown and die when thrown into water?
When all the creatures have the same senses, how is it possible for the water fowl to derive greater benefits than the land fowl? Why do the birds of the air die, if kept in water for a short time, and the fish, those inhabiting the sea, die if kept out of water for a while? Do not these different characteristics of senses refute your theory of their all-powerfulness; and suggest a greater intellect, an intellect that has created these species of birds and fish, intentionally ordained that one should live on land and the other in water-that has created circumstances to suit their necessities? If senses were consistently powerful they would have shown a similarity of action in all the species. Also have you not observed the ant which has never seen water, begins to swim when thrown into it, and the strong and clever man who does not know the art of swimming, sinks down to the bottom, and comes to the surface a dead body?
Now if the theory that all things are known by the senses be correct, why does not the wise experienced stout man use his senses in order to save his life as the ant does? Do you not also know that the mind-the treasure house of wisdom-is present in a brute child as well as in a human-child? That it is the mind that suggests the child to cry for milk, the birds of grain to feed on grain, and the carnivorous to prey upon flesh”.
‘I know only this” said he, “that the mind can only know things through the senses”.
“You still adhere to your argument in favor of the senses, though once you admitted that it is the mind that guides the senses. Very well; now I shall prove to you in connection with these senses that they are unable to know anything but external things. They can in no way know the existence of invisible things such as the Almighty Allah and the soul. It is for this reason that the Creator gifts us with a mind and establishes through its medium His ‘Hujjat’ (proofs of His existence).
He has created the senses that they may observe external conditions and argue in favor of Him. When the eye observed creation in all its parts, it drew the attention of the mind to it. The eye saw the celestial sky retained in a position without obvious support, their regularity of motion, rotation, and revolution,-they neither lacked behind that they come in closer proximity to us, nor preceded further that they might undergo any damage. Their distance from us remains unchanged and so their condition. They do not get old or decayed though centuries of successive nights and days have passed. Their corners or ends do not fall down.
The motion of the seven planets also depends on rotation of the sky. They change their places every day, every month, and every year. Some are very rapid; some are very slow in their movement, but none too slow in their movement, but none too slow. They all return to the same place after performing their fixed duties with unswerving some of them take their courses towards the North, and sometimes towards the South. They remain obscure during day and visible at night. The appearances of the Sun and the Moon at certain places at certain times as understood by those men well-versed in the Science of Astronomy, the men endowed with thinking power are surely not the results of any human experience or will. Nor do they think that the investigations, searches or researches of any human being can produce a like phenomenon.
Thus putting everything to severe test and scrutiny the mind reasons, and concludes that there must be some one Who has created this most wonderful Universe, Who has preserved the skies in their natural position, prevented them from falling down upon the Earth. Along with the skies he has created the planets and the stars. Again when the eye observed the earth to be convex, and informed the mind of its observation, the mind felt that the upholder of this Earth in its present form must be He who kept it in its fixed place and prevented it from slipping into space, and that He must be the same, Who retained the skies overhead in firm position. The mind also felt that if there had been no upholder of these things, the Earth with the weight of all it possesses such as mountains, trees, seas, sands, etc would have easily crumbled down.
The mind with the eye’s help decided that the creator of the Earth must be He Who created the skies….. Then again the ear heard the noise of boisterous whirl-winds, and that of soft and pleasant breezes. The eye saw that the former uprooted mighty trees, demolished strongest buildings and swept sand hills to the ground carrying them from one place to another. Though the eye observed all these movements, it could see none who performed them. The ear could hear no one. Nor could any of the senses detect His presence. The eye could not see the air because of its extent; hands could not hold it, because it was not solid. The eye, the ear and the senses could know nothing without the mind’s assistance.
It was the mind that said that there was someone who controlled all these things. When the senses conveyed their impressions to the mind, the mind sensibly thought that the wind did not blow of its own accord. It thought, if it blew of its own accord, it would blow on continuously and would not pause. Because it is proved in science of natural philosophy that a natural force does not stop, unless resisted by some stronger force, Again it would not have demolished one thing and left another unmolested, and pulled down one tree and not the next one- it would have over one portion of land and not another.
Cogitating thus, the mind concluded that someone controlled the wind, moved it or stopped it just as He pleased, sent or withdrew its currents from whomsoever He liked again when the mind saw that the wind was connected with the sky and its wonders, it unhesitatingly decided that the creator of the wind is He Who has created and upheld the skies, earth and all their wonders. Likewise when the eye, the ears and other senses united, informed the mind of an earthquake, it reflected upon the quaking of a mighty earth, with its mountains, seas and other great appurtenances, and upon the fact that the earth is one solid body without fissures or disunited parts, yet one part shakes and the other remains unaffected, demolishing buildings on one hand. and not on the other; and as a result it concluded that the One Who shook one portion of the Earth and saved the other is He Who moves the wind and controls the air withholding them or not, according to His pleasures.
He is the designer and organizer of the skies and the earth and all things pertaining to them. The mind guessed for certain that it was quite impossible for the Earth to quake by itself. Because being naturally firm it should never have shaken at all.
And if it was not naturally firm, it’s hold have never ceased shaking. Because the natural condition of every thing always remains immutable. Thus it was proved to the mind that He Who created and designed the earth shakes any portion of it or not. Again the eye observed another wonderful sign of Allah’s existence in the cloud which by His order hangs like smoke over-head between the Earth and sky. It does not possess a body to collide with mountains.
It passes through trees without shaking or sticking to them. It often passes through caravans, and when it is dark and thick obscures their way. Despite its light appearance it carries vast quantities of water. Its qualities are beyond description. It carries immense thunderbolts, lightning, snow, hail, dew (congested) so much so that the human imagination cannot fully comprehend its secrets or its wonders. It soars very high in the regions of skies – sometimes it is seen in a scattered state. Sometimes in united position.
Its movements depend upon the wind that is regulated by the will of Allah. Through its influence, it sometimes rises high and descends low, not letting of course quantity of water, it holds, fall down upon the Earth. When it does, it pours down in showers. Many a time we see it passing overhead covering cities, towns and places without letting even a drop of water fall down. When it has spread over hundreds of miles of land, it begins to rain drop by drop, and sometimes in torrents from the same quantity of water. Sometimes it rains so continuously that reservoirs, tanks, lanes and rivers overflow, and roads are flooded, and mountains of water seem to stand before the eyes. Sometimes it rains so violently that the ears get deafened with its roar and thunder.
With this rain, Allah revives the dry land, changes its color and clothes it in green verdure, the grass which is the fodder of beasts, begins to spring up. After it ceases raining, the clouds disperse, and gradually become invisible none can say where they have gone to these observations were no sooner conveyed to the mind, by the eye, then did the mind begin to reflect over them.
It thought that if these movements and functions of the clouds had come into existence of themselves and were not regulated by any perfect wisdom, it could not have been possible for the cloud to carry half the weight of water. And that if the cloud poured down the rain by itself it could not have gone further from its place, and it would not have rained drop by drop, but on the contrary would have poured all the water down all at once on the spot, because it is destitute of intelligence, and cannot foresee the result of raining all at once on the same spot.
In this case the mind thought that the buildings would have collapsed, vegetable product ruined, one portion of the land would have been over-irrigated, and the other would have been left dry and barren. Thus thinking, the mind concluded that the creator of all these things must be one and the same. Because had there been more than one say two or three, there must have arisen differences and disagreements in so long a period with regard to the regularity of these functions. Some would have been slower than others. Some lofty things would have lowered down, and lower things would have taken higher places.
Some planets (in contradiction to prescribed rules) would have risen instead of setting and some set instead of rising. In short, the unity of design, so manifest in the creation, convinced the mind of the fact that the creator of all the obvious and obscure things and wonders of the universe is He, Who has been existing from all eternity before anything was created. He is the creator and upholder of the sky, the creator and designer of the Earth, and the creator of all the things I have just mentioned and other things too numerous to enumerate.
Again, the eye observed succession of nights and days following each other with no possible change in the regularity and condition. It saw them merging one into another in regular hours, their peculiarities of light and darkness, their varying shortness and length. It saw the stars and planets unaffected by these successions of days and nights, the approach and departure of the different seasons, their commencement and end unvarying. And the mind with that instinctive sense given to it by Allah-Almighty, realized beyond all doubts, that the creator of all this perfect wisdom must be One Omnipotent, Omniscient, Eternal, Allah.
If there existed more than one creator, each creator would not have considered the other’s creation worth anything, and would have tried to excel the others in design. Thus, instead of regularity and uniformity there would have been disorder and tumult…. Also the ears heard the message of Allah through the apostles, which verified the conclusion of the mind. The ears heard evidence as to Allah the Creator having neither a wife nor a son nor a partner and the message went to the mind for it to realize the truth”.
“What you described” said he, “are very wonderful things – things I had never heard before. Still I hesitate to accept, what you have said, unless you give me some more convincing proofs”.
“Well”, said I, “when you feel yourself unable to refute or find fault with my descriptions, and begin to water in your arguments I am confident your mind will very shortly assure you Insha’Allah (if Allah wishes), of the truth that the senses can know nothing without the help. Now tell me have you ever experienced a dream in which you were eating something and relishing its pleasant taste”
“Yes”, said he.
“Have you ever dreamt” I asked, “that you are laughing or weeping bitterly, traveling in known or unknown countries, recognizing those countries you had seen or known?”
“Yes” he replied, “I had had many such dreams”.
“Have you ever”, I asked, “seen in your dreams relatives parent or brothers that had died long ago, and identified them as you did in the life time”
“Why not” he exclaimed “I have experienced many such dreams.”
“Well then”, said I, “which of your senses felt the dead man and pointed him out to the mind that it could recognize him and converse with him Which sense relished the food, recognized the countries known or unknown, through which it traveled? Which sense wept and laughed?”
“I am confounded” he said, “I cannot reply, which of my sense (in this sleeping state) did the above things. In fact when one is asleep, he is like one dead, and in that condition, it is quite impossible for the senses to feel, know, see or hear anything.”
“Tell me”, asked I, “when startled, you woke from your sleep. Did you not recollect your dream sufficiently to narrate to your relations and friends, forgetting nothing?”
“Yes”, he replied. “Sometimes I have seen a thing in a dream and the same thing again in a waking state.”
“Alright”, said I, “which of the senses imbued you with the memory of what you saw when those senses were asleep?”
“None of the senses”, said he “seem to have had any hand therein.”
“Can you not see now” said I, “that it is the mind that sees all these things, remembering (in a dreaming state) when all the senses have ceased working? Don’t you know that the mind has been endowed with reason, by means of which Allah establishes His Hujjat?”
“What I see in a dream” said he, “is unsubstantial like a Surab’ (mirage), which from a distance appears to be real water, but on approach is discovered to be only sand.”
“How do you make comparison, when in your dream you relish different tastes?” I queried.
“Because”, he replied, “when I approached that ‘Surab’, I discovered only sand, and when I awoke I discovered nothing of that which I had seen in dream.”
“Well” asked I, “if I give you an example of what you may have enjoyed in a dream, and which may have made you uneasy, will you believe in the reality of dreams?”
“Yes, why not?” He replied.
“Tell me”, said I, “have you ever in a dream lived with a woman familiar or unfamiliar?”
“Many times”, said he.
“Did you not feel then”, asked I, “exactly the same sensation derived from the satisfaction of carnal appetite in the waking state, and were not the traces left the same?”
“This refutes the argument regarding the ‘Surab’. Because the latter is quite unreal-when one approach, it fades away. But here the case is quite contrary. The action in the dream leaves behind traces to prove the reality of sensation.”
“The dreamer”, he said, “sees the same things that his senses in a state of wakefulness have witnessed.”
“Very well”, said I, “you strengthen my argument, when you admit the mind’s ability to comprehend and identify the things of which the senses (no longer working} have no remembrance. Why did you first assert that the mind even with the help of the senses and in the state of wakefulness has not this power, and that they are the senses only which comprehend all these things? Will you tell me who (when the senses were out of work) gave this power to mind that has neither ears nor eyes? Because now you admit that it was the mind that saw the woman and enjoyed the pleasure of her company even though the senses were not at work?”
“It is foolish to admit the knowledge of the mind when the senses are sleeping and to deny it, when the senses are waking. A man of reason must believe that the mind is the king, and prime administrator of the senses. However foolish he may be, he cannot be ignorant of the fact that the hand cannot extract the eye, nor amputate the tongue, nor can have any senses any power to deal with any part of the body without its permission, suggestion and contrivance.
Allah has created the mind to be the regent of the body, and the body can only feel, see or hear, through its agency. If the mind conceives retreat, the body can not advance and vice-versa. It is only through its medium the senses work. They are obedient to its orders. If the mind prohibits them to act, they at once obey its command. It is the mind on which sorrows prey, and joys enliven. Despite the loss or derangement of the senses, the mind remains intact. But if the mind gets out of order the senses share the same fate, the eyes do not see properly, the ears do not understand,”
“I scarcely believed”, said he, “that you would be able to deal with these difficult questions without being confounded. Your arguments are so elegant as to appear irrefutable”.
“Listen”, said I, “and I will more firmly convince you, as to the truth of what I have narrated, and of the things you have seen in your dreams”
“Do so”, he exclaimed, “I am not a little astounded your eloquence.”
“When you think of any calling”, asked I, “or devise plans to build or erect something, do you not deliver order to that effect?”
“Yes”, He replied.
“While devising such plans, and forming designs of non-existing things, do you make any of your senses the partner of the mind that creates them?”
“No”. He replied.
“Is it not visible”, said I, “that things done in compliance with the mind’s mature judgment, are of a high order?” (Then is it not proved that it is the mind that knows all the things and not the senses?).
“I think so”, he said. “But please go on with your arguments. I am now anxious to throw off doubts and accept the truth.”
“So much the better”, said I. “Tell me if there are any astronomers in your native place?”
“You do not seem to be acquainted with the extent of astronomical knowledge possessed by my countrymen.” he said. “I don’t think there is a nation to surpass us in this particular science.”
“Well, tell me”, asked I, “how they acquired this knowledge of astronomy, for this knowledge cannot be acquired through the medium of the senses, but through profound thought and deep reflection?”
“Yes”, he replied, “it is true. Some wise and learned persons prepared tables of such importance, which generation after generation in successive order have followed. When an inquiry is made, the movements and the positions of the Sun, Moon and Stars are considered. They state which of the visible stars are ill-omened, and which of the invisible ones are auspicious. They are so well versed in this science that they rarely err in their calculations. People take their children to these astrologers, and they calculating from the movements of the planets, predict events and incidents occurred or to occur in the child’s life.”
“What concern”, I asked, “have the movements of planets, with the lives of children that their parents take them to astrologers.”
“Because”, he replied, “each child’s birth corresponds with a planet’s movement, If this were not so, the astrologers would make mistakes. They calculate the movement-day, month and year-in which the child is born, and are correct in their conclusions.”
“If this be really true”, said I, “You have described a science so wonderful, that none other can be compared to it or more worthy of respect; for the incidents and the accidents of a person’s life from birth to death are known through its means. Do you think the knowledge of this science is an innate one, born with every person?”
“No”, he said, “I do not think it is so”.
“Then, let us think”, said I, ”as to how this knowledge was acquired. And let us use if it be correct to say that all people cannot acquire it, though all are born in connection with the movements of the planets and stars. I am ready to grant that only few people learn and master the science. But the question is how did they learn or master it-specially the knowledge which declares one star to be ill-omened and the other to be auspicious? How have they fixed the time, hour and degrees, the slow or rapid movements of the planets and the stars, their exact position over or below the Earth; and their predictions which you mention? How have they gathered them? I believe that any of the creatures inhabiting this globe are so advanced as to penetrate the secrets of the visible and invisible Universe”.
“You may not believe”, said he. “But that they have done so, I am positive about it”.
“When you assert”, said I, “that all the Earth’s inhabitants are born in conjunction with the movements of the stars and planets, the wise man (Hakim) who first discovered the science of astronomy must have been born like-wise.”
“Of course”, he exclaimed, “he must be included in the category of the human race.”
“Then does not your reason guide you to the fact that these planets and stars existed before the birth of that wise man, who, as you say discovered the science of astronomy, and was born in conjunction with the movements of the stars and planets?”
“Indeed”, said he, “the planets and stars must have existed prior to his birth”.
“Tell me” said I, “how could the wise inventor of the science learn the method of calculating the stars without a master to teach him? If you say that he had a master, then that master must have existed before the existence of the stars. And indeed must be He, Who established the rules and regulations for those movements, on which you say the events of a life are based, and from which the future of a new born child is foretold. Taking this for granted, the wise man inventor of the science- must have been the follower and pupil of that master, who had existed before the stars, and had created them-the wise man-in conjunction with the movements of certain of them.
Then He who established the science, was He who lived before the stars, the Creator of them and the people born according to their movements. Presupposing the age of the wise man to be ten times that of the Earth, he must have had the same observation of the stars as we have now. They must have twinkled over-head as they down-where lay the difference between him and us? How did he know the exact calculation whilst we do not? Had he special power to go nearer to this very high firmament, and more closely study the secrets of the stars, their position and movements; learn, which of them eclipse the Sun and the Moon; which are consistent with the birth of children; which are ill-omened and suspicious, rapid or slow, and many other things, such as the length of time they are concealed under the Earth, and the exact hours of their appearance and disappearance?
How chances it that a human being has so great a knowledge of things heavenly, since deep reflection cannot give it to him and his senses cannot reach so far? How did he invent the method of calculation by which is known the movement of the Sun and Moon, and the knowledge–which among the seven planets suspicious or ill-omened; the exact position of these luminaries, and correct judgment as to which was rising or a setting one? How could he-on the surface of the Earth-study that which was in the heavens? How could he see those stars which are made invisible by the Sun’s blinding luster? If you suggest that he flew up to the skies, my mind still perplexes me, for even then he could not master the science without a teacher; when one cannot master an earthly science thus, how can he master a science not of the Earth?”
“I do not even recollect”, said he, “of hearing of a human being going up to the skies”.
“Perhaps”, I suggested, “the wise man may have done so, and you may not be aware of it”.
“I would not accept its truth “, he said, “from any source”.
“I agree with you there”, I said, “but let us suppose the fact of the wise man’s ability to climb up to the skies. In that case we shall have to believe that he performed incredible journeys, visited every star and planet, staying with them as they set or rose till he had gained fullest knowledge about those functions; and as some of the planets take as much as thirty years to complete their rotation, he must necessarily have stayed with them for the prescribed period however long it may have been in order to fully collect all information. Let us take all this for granted also, that he not only ascended to the skies, but he traveled in company with each and every luminary, till he had become fully acquainted with their habits.
Still however, his observations could not be called complete until he had studied those stars under the Earth. In this he must take the same amount of time, that he took in observing the heavenly stars, for the movements of the stars beneath the Earth cannot be said to be the same, and to master the science to its present accuracy of calculation he must miss no point of knowledge. To know the period of time these stars remain invisible, whether by day or by night, is very necessary; besides, the question must be settled fully and for ever as there was only one wise man to do it. If there had been more than one wise man, they must have differed in their calculations. Now really does not strike you that it is only you who can hold the idea of a wise man, who dived down into the depths of the seas, and penetrated through the darkness of the Earth; who floated along the shies, clinging to the stars and the planets and acquiring the knowledge of their movement and doing the same to stars under the Earth!”
“I do not hold”, said he “the opinion that any man can ascend the skies, or dive to the bottom of the seas, or penetrate the interior of the Earth.”
“As you don’t hold this opinion”, said I, “tell me then how could the wise man (whom you think to be inventor) learn the science of Astronomy? How could he complete his researches in connection with it when he came into existence long after the creation of the stars he knew all about?”
“In face of your arguments” he said, “it does not seem prudent or wise to say that this science was invented by a being of this Earth?”
“Then”, said I, “you admit that this science can only be known to one cognizant with the ins and outs of heaven well as Earth?”
“If I do so”, he said, “I must admit Allah, who you say is the creator of heaven and earth.”
“Have you not told me”, I asked, “that the calculations based on Astronomy are perfectly correct and the birth of children correspond to certain movements of the stars?”
“Yes” he replied, “I have told you so, and also I have no doubt of this, but I have a doubt as to there being a creator”.
“That doubt will be removed”, said I; “have you not said that no human being can scale up to the skies, or travel in company with the movements of the Sun, moon and stars – East, West or in any direction?”
“To scale up to the skies is impossible”, he said.
“Well” I said, “what other alternative have you beyond admitting that it was a heavenly teacher who taught this science?”
“If I say so”; said he, “that no teacher taught this science, I am absurd; and if I say it was an earthly teacher, it would be an equally irrational statement, for no human being ever by himself acquired knowledge of heaven above, or of hell beneath; for no human being has the power to pry into those things beyond the range of his eye’s observation. Even granting closeness of observation no inward knowledge can be gained, for according to my belief nothing is real except what is known through the medium of senses, and it is obvious that the senses have no hand here. The eye can only perceive movements, and nothing beyond that. The knowledge and calculation of the movements, the differences between rapid and slow, the season of the disappearing and the reappearing of the stars are beyond the scope of the senses.”
“If you wish to study the science of the heavens”, asked I, “would you choose an earthly being or a heavenly being as your teacher”?
“I would choose a heavenly being”, he replied, “Because the stars hand in his region, where earthly being cannot reach”
“Alright. Now I hope you will give yourself to profound thought, and clear up all doubts from your mind.”
“If all the people of the earth have their birth in conjunction with the movements of the stars-either sinister or auspicious, it stands to reason that the stars pre-existed the people of the earth, don’t you think so?”
“Yes, I do”, he replied.
“Well then”, said I, “your statement as to man having existed on earth, has been contradicted by you yourself. You have admitted without the least doubt, that the human race came into existence after the stars, and if the stars pre-existed the human race, it necessarily follows that the earth also pre-existed the human race.”
“I do not say”, he said, “that the earth pre-existed them.”
“If the earth”, said I, “which the Almighty Allah created as a carpet for men to walk on, did not pre-exist the race, these beings together with the lower orders of life, would have had nothing to rest upon. It is not reasonable to state that they lived in space, for they do not possess wings.”
“Of what good would wings have done”, said he, “when they had no means of subsistence.”
“Bravo”, said I, “Do you now entertain doubts as to the pre-existence of the earth as well as the stars?”
“No”, said he, “now I am fully convinced of the pre-existence of both.”
“I’ll now”, said I “dilate upon such subjects that exciting your curiosity, may add to your store of knowledge.
“Your previous arguments”, he said “are sufficient to remove my doubts.”
“You know I suppose”, said I, “that it is in the Sky, the Sun, Moon and Stars perform their duties.”
“Yes I do” he replied.
“Would you not call it the basis and foundation of luminaries?”
“Yes, I would”, he replied.
“In my opinion then”, said I, “the stars which you say, are connected with the birth of the human race were created after the skies, because it is in the skies they perform their rotation-sometimes moving upwards and sometimes downwards.”
“All proved so clearly”, said he, “that only an insane man could deny it. The sky is the foundation of the luminaries, and undoubtedly existed before them, for it is in that those said luminaries move and perform their duties.”
“Now”, said I, “you have admitted the creator of the stars, according to whose movements, human beings are born, to be the same as He, who created the skies and the earth, for without the earth, there could be no creation.”
“Yes you are right”, he said, “I see no alternative but to accept this as true.”
“Does not your reason further point out”, said I, “that He Who created the earth, the skies, Sun, Moon and other planets must be All-powerful and Wise, for without the skies, the creatures of the earth must perish; for the heavenly bodies are directly necessary for those upon the earth to live? For instance, had there only been no Sun, nothing could ripen, the poisonous effect of the air would not be nullified and everything would die.”
“Now”, said he. ‘I would bear witness to the wisdom of Allah, Who made all these things, for you have completely overthrown my doubts. I must hold your theory that the teacher of the science of Astronomy, and the inventor of the calculations appertaining to it, cannot be an inhabitant of this earth, for that which he studies is in the skies, and the person able to unravel the mysteries of the skies must be powerful enough to pry beneath the earth. It is beyond my comprehension all the same as to how a human being has mastered this science and brought it to its present state of uniformity, the logic of which no one denies. If I had not known the principles of the science I would have from the very start, flatly denied the same, and called the article a futile one.”
“I will make it clear to you”, said I, “by the means of halila you hold in your hand, and the science of medicine which has been the profession of your forefathers and is now yours. This halila, with medical science, I will compare to the heavenly objects and their science. But do you promise not only to acknowledge the truth, but do justice by it?”
“Yes, I do promise”, he replied. “Please go on”.
“Has there”, asked I, “ever been a time when the human race was in ignorance of knowledge (‘ilm) and its benefits, in fact as senseless as this halila?”
“Why not?” he replied, “There must have been a time, when none was acquainted with medical science and its advantages. Knowledge was acquired”.
“How? When they were totally ignorant of science, how did they acquire it?”
“By experience and experiments”, he said, “after considerable time.”
“Whence came the idea of experimenting” I asked. “What made them think such thing made into medicine was beneficial to the human body, when the external form of these things appear hurtful, and some placed on the tongue are so bitter as to cause pain and uneasiness And how did they do the investigation of such medicinal plants that were totally unknown, and not recognized by their senses, for to demand an unknown thing is quite an impossibility and absurdity?”
“Experience led to the investigation”, he said, “and invention of the medical science.”
“Well”, said I “tell me who invented it, or who described the nature and effects of the herbs used, when some grow far west and some others far east. Do you not sensibly feel that the person, who did so, was one who inhabited the places where they grew?”
“Yes”, he said, “and what a wise man he was, for he has drawn every other man to his side to agree with his conclusions,”
“If you wish to abide by your promise to me, and give justice to the truth, tell me how that man-the inventor came to know the nature of every medicinal plant. Let us suppose he got himself acquainted with all the medicinal plants in his village, or even the whole of Persia; but can you suppose that he continued his researches and investigations allover the world and tasted every fruit, leaf and root to test their qualities from the effects on himself?
Can you suppose even with the help of other wise persons that he was able to fully acquaint himself with the plants growing in Persia alone, studying with his senses those plants that his senses did not recognize; noting their peculiarities and importance or non-importance of the botany of Persia, how did they come to know that such and such herb was useless?, unless the prescription. included the halila from India, gum mastich from Rome, musk from Tibet, cinnamon from China, willow from Turkey, opium from Egypt, aloes from Yemen, salt peter from Armenia and various other articles from different parts of the world, which mixed and pounded together make a particular medicine.
How could they know living in Persia that individually these articles produce no effects? How did they know about the places where these articles are produced, when they are so different in kind and nature, and grow at so great a distance from each other? Some plants roots alone are used, of others the fruit, shell, essence, juice, gum or oil- some are used internally, and others externally; again in different countries they hold different names; the people of different countries are not always friendly to each other they vary in opinions, manners and modes of life; one nation desires to predominate over the other, they slaughter and pillage and try to imprison one another: it is not always easy for a stranger to carryon investigation? How was that knowledge gained?
Can you say that the person who invented the science went to every nook and corner of the world, learnt every language, and traveled every country? That he was able to investigate the medicines from east to west quite fearlessly and safely, and that he never fell sick, did not under go any troubles but remained healthy and intact? That he made no mistakes, was never misdirected found all the countries, remembered all he learnt, remained always happy and finished all his researches with regard to the origin and nature and effects of what he sought-despite all differences of color quality and names? That he got correct description of each and every tree, its origin, smell and taste, flowers and fruits?
Can you really think the enterprise such as one individual may undertake and accomplish when you consider that each and every medicine has at least twenty different natures? Is it not impossible that he learnt the science of medicine the secrets of the trees that demand close observation and grow in so many different countries? Even granting him the possibility how did he come by the knowledge that such and such a plant could be used as a medicine for the senses do not hold the innate ideas? How did he separate the bitter, the sweet, and the saltiest and acrid trees from another? If you say that he did so by inquiry and converse with the people of different lands they grew in how did he inquire and converse about the things unknown to him? How did it come to his mind that he must ask these questions of a particular man? And how could he arrive at a satisfactory conclusion despite so many social and political barriers, and the difference of languages?
Even granting these things whence came the knowledge of advantages and disadvantages of medicine? Why this affected a cure? Why this caused an injury, their nature, their sweet and bitter tastes, and the softness of one and the hardness of the other? If you answer, by pondering, I say it is impossible; because these things are beyond the scope of the senses and cannot be comprehended by thought. You cannot say either it was by personal test; for had he made experiments upon himself he must have died from some poisonous effects that he had not before known. And if you say that he traveled in all the countries, lived with every class of people mastered their languages, experimented upon them, killing some here and some there, yet still it was impossible to know the exact nature of one medicine without killing many people. And is it possible that these people would allow him to continue his experiments upon them to take more lives.
Still let us say that by some miracle they listened to what he said, and tolerated his deadly experiments. Well, where did he get the opportunity and time for mixing the various things and knowing the respective weights. How did he learn the proportion necessary to mix one with another? Never mind. Granted, this knowledge was also acquired. Whence came the knowledge that an overdose would bring death to the person to whom it is administered, whilst an under close would have no good effect. Granting again that he succeeded in acquiring all this traveled in all parts of the world and had the necessary long life to do so, how did he acquire the knowledge of those thing not belonging to the vegetable world?
You are perhaps aware that some of the medicines unless mixed with the bill of the gall bladders of certain beast and birds on earth and sea, are inefficacious and not pure. As such is the case, his mode of investigation must be similar to the one relating to the vegetable world. He has no other alternative, but to investigate the birds and beasts of the world, slay them and examine their gall bladders. Well when he has finished his investigations with the birds and beasts of this world, there remain now the animals of the sea. To know their nature it was just as necessary to dive down into the seas and investigate them also, as it was necessary for him to investigate the vegetable world.
It does not matter if you do not know all these things, but you cannot deny the knowledge, that the animals of the sea live in the sea, and that to thoroughly know them he must necessarily dive in the sea and study them in that element. Tell me now can you reasonably say that these things were known through experience and experiment”
“I am completely at a loss to reply”, he said.
“I will describe something more”, said I, “which will convince you of the truth. You are probably aware that the bile’s of the different animals unless mixed with roots cannot form prescription.”
“Yes”, he said.
“Tell me”, said I, “How he fixed the exact weights of medicine to such a nicety? As you are a physician you probably know only too well that you put four hundred ‘miskals’ of a particular leaf or fruit, and one or two or another in a compound prescription, some few ‘miskals’ sometimes less sometimes more till the prescription reaches a satisfactory point. When a particular dose of a particular medicine is given to a patient suffering from diarrhea, it cures him of it, yet the same medicine in large dose when given in a case of colic has quite an opposite effect, and set up purging.
How did the physician know the knowledge of the effects of medicines? How does he knows that one medicine would affect the head and not the foot, though it is easier for the medicine to descend than to rise, that if it is given for the lower extremities, it will not affect the higher though the head is near the mouth, and could be more easily affected? In the same way particular medicines carried the affected part by means of blood vessels are used for its different parts of the body.
First of all these internal medicines reach the stomach and from thence by reason of their power are distributed to the different parts of the body. How did that wise man discover that the effect meant for the brain would not reach the hands, legs, loins, or abdomen, etc, or vice versa. Was it really possible for his senses to have known all these things? Why do medicines administered for one part of the body produce no effect on the other parts? How did his senses know that a certain medicine affected the ears and not the eyes? Why do different medicines cure diseases in different parts? And how came senses, reason or discernment to know the places of all those parts concealed as, they are from external contemplation -blood vessels are hidden in muscles, and covered up with skin, to which the medicines reach? The senses by themselves cannot detect them”.
“What you say”, said he, “was already known to me” but we physicians hold the opinion, that the person who invented the science, performed postmortem examinations, when the patient was not cured of his disease, and thus examined the blood vessels passages and places and located the traces of the medicines.”
“Do you not know”, I asked, “that the medicines taken internally circulate with the blood throughout the body, and become mixed up with it?”
“Yes I know it”, he replied.
“Don’t you know”, I asked again, “that when a person dies, his blood thickness?”
“Yes it does”, he replied.
“Then”, I asked, “How did the physician examine the medicine, when it was clotted in the blood, for all trace was surely lost, and in such a state could not be analyzed properly?”
“I am at my wit’s end now,” he said.
“Again tell me”, “how the people were able to now the beneficial effects of the roots and plants they had investigated and their locations? How did they learn to analyze and mix them together, ascertain their respective weights, and discover the need of gall bladders and stones in certain medicines?”
“You have discussed the subject with such perfection”, said he, “that I have neither the imagination nor thought nor wit to find a way of properly answering your question. As these prescriptions have not invented themselves, they must have been invented by some one else and that same one else must have acquired a thorough knowledge of the natures and qualities of the items he had laced in such order. Will you kindly explain to me how the people were able to know those medicines that were beneficial to health, and how they could investigate these things in every part of the world?”
“Since you wish me to explain it to you”, said I, “I shall give you an illustration, and discuss it in such a way that you will easily learn who the inventor of medicine was, who created the various kinds of plants and fruit? And who made the body and blood vessels, which carry the medicine through it to its affected parts.”
“If you will do so”, he said, “I shall be very glad indeed”.
“Supposing”, said I, “a certain man had planted a garden surrounded by a wall to protect it from outside harm. Do you not think the owner would know every tree planted therein and its position? After a time the trees began to bear fruits and even the smallest vegetation also bloomed, In the meantime you happened to go there, and desired the owner to bring you certain fruits and vegetable pods. The owner went to do so. Were you not in that case be sure that he would go straight to the exact place, where the desired fruits add pods grew, knowing perfectly well where they were,-in a near or a distant part of the garden? You know he would not waste time puzzling over their whereabouts”
“Yes”, he said; “he would undoubtedly find the places easily.”
“But if the owner”, said I, “instead of going himself asked you to go into the garden, and pluck the desired things for yourself, could you have gone straight for them without looking earnestly here and there”.
“I could not have done so”, he said, “without knowing the proper places.”
“Supposing”, said I “you reached these places after some considerable exertion and trouble. For instance you touched and examined each and every tree till you found out the desired one, but if you failed to detect that tree, you would be forced to return empty-handed”.
“I don’t see how I could find out the whereabouts for a tree, of whose position I had no knowledge”, said he.
“Seeing”, said I “how helpless your senses are in guiding you, surely your mind tells you that he who planted this large garden which extends from east to west, and north to south, must have taught that wise man, whom you considered to have invented the science of medicine. Can you not easily understand that the names of the medicine and the cities wherein they could be found, were shown to the wise man by Him, and that He must have been as well versed in the location of the vegetable world as the owner himself (as the owner of that garden I instanced to you). It is reasonable to say that He, who taught the exact whereabouts of the tree that grew in the garden, was He who planted them; and He Who taught their advantages, disadvantages, and weights and was also that Self-same person.”
“You’re reasoning”, said he “seems to be flawless.”
“If the creator of body of man”, said I, “with its nerves, veins and intestines through which the medicines course from head to foot were not the same person as the creator of this garden, would that creator have know and made known to man the existence of those trees and herbs, their proportion in medicine and their necessity to the well-being of man? Would that creator know that such medicines were particularly beneficial to certain diseases and had such and such effect on certain nerve?”
“How could he know these things?” He said.
“These things are not known through the medium of senses. So if man is aware of them it must be through the teaching of Him, who created the garden of the world, for He alone could know the effected and nature of that which He created.”
“Then”, said I “does it not follow that the vegetable and the animal world would have one and the same creator? If there had existed two creators, one for human beings and their ailments, and the other for the vegetable world, the first would have no knowledge of medicines and the diseases they cure, and the other similarly would have no knowledge of the plants and trees by which medicines are made; but if the creator of the animal, and vegetable world be one and the same, it would be easy for him to know the medicine for the particular disease. He would be fully aware of the nature of medicine and its exact weight and effect on the body-whether it would affect a cure to the brain, feet or some other part of the human body. For having created both the medicine and the body he is cognizant of the science of both.”
“You are really right”, he said, “If there were two different creators, each would have been ignorant of the science of the other.”
“Then”, said I. “He who taught the wise man, whom you consider to be the inventor of this science, and established it is the creator of the garden of the world. He created the human body. He informed the wise man (who was prophet like Luqman or Dawood) the nature of all plants and trees, their location and surroundings, attributes such as leaves and veins, oily substances branches, bark and fruits. He taught him the use and nature of medicine and the weight to be used. He made all the beasts and birds of the world together with those gall bladders which are also necessary to medicine. If the creator of birds and beasts had been different from he, who created the man and the vegetable world, he would never have known the effects of the gall bladders, which should be mixed with vegetable medicine; and which not; but as He was the creator of all, He knew their actions, attributes and names, which knowledge He imparted to the wise prophet, and this is how the wise man came to know the advantages and the disadvantages of medicines belonging to the vegetable and animal kingdom. In no other way could He have known all those things. In truth he must have been some Prophet or Apostle taught by the most august omnipotent glorious Allah of the Universe.”
“What you say is quite right”, he said, “Before your eloquence all reasoning of the senses and so called experience pale into insignificance.”
“Since you have admitted so much”, said I, “Let us go a step further, and with our senses reason whether it was advisable for Him who planted the world’s garden, and created the animal world for the benefit of the human race, to scatter all these things in the land belonging to some other person than himself If He did so, He could not have carried any experiment of any sort upon His belongings except by the other’s permission. Don’t you think so?”
“Yes”, he replied.
“The earth, on which this garden is planted, must have also been created by Him who created the garden, plants, trees and animals.”
“You think the earth belongs to Him”, said I, “because of its close connection with those other creations that belong to Him?” Are you not also aware”, asked I, “that a garden of such magnificence, containing men and animals along with its trees, and other creations, to be kept in health must be irrigated, and refreshed with life-giving water?”
“Yes”, he replied. “None of these creations can live without water”.
“Will you say”, asked I, “that the creator of the garden with all that is in it, is not the creator of water; that the existence of the garden that he created depends upon the pleasure of He who created the water, who may stop its supply when he chooses?”
“It is impossible”, he replied, “to believe in the existence of two creators, one for the garden and one for the water. I am sure there is one creator for the both, and it is the same who created the mountains which are the sources of great rivers and flowing waters. If this irrigation had been by other one, the garden and its contents must have withered and died. He who created the garden must have created the water first, knowing it was needed to keep the garden in the best condition”,
“If there were no store of water” asked I, “to flow to the garden, and refresh it in case of emergency, do you not think it would have been destroyed, for you may have heard that it has many times suffered through want of water?”
“Yes”, he replied, “I am wondering now if there is any need of anyone to manage these things. The law of nature may be that water must ever flow without cessation.”
“You have admitted”, said I, “that but for the ocean and its store of water the garden might have become dry and barren.”
“Yes”, he said.
“Well”, said I, “I intend to convince you of the creator of the ocean being the same creator as He of the earth; and that the ocean is really a reservoir held in reserve into which the streams and rivers pour their superfluous energy for time of need. And that in the ocean He has created many good and profitable things.”
“Convince me of this”, he said, ”as you have done already with regard to other things.”
“Are you not aware that all surplus water is collected by the sea?”
“Yes”, he replied.
“Have you ever known its quantity being increased through and abundance of rain; or decrease through excessive heat or famine?” I asked.
“No”, he replied.
“Does not your reason says”, said I, “that the Allah who created the garden was He who created the ocean, and that He fixed a limit to the latter? The proof which stands in favor of my argument is that, were those great mountains like waves which arise out of the sea, not restrained from passing a certain limit they would have overwhelmed the whole garden of the world. We see despite their fury and passions that there is a fix limit, which reaching, their fury and passion become spent.
“Yes “, he said, “You are quite right. The wonder of the phenomena makes your argument very strong.”
“I will dwell further on the matter”, said I, “and convince you of the connection of the different creations one with another connection which must prove to you that the Universe is the work of one omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Allah. You must be aware that many gardens are not watered by rivers or streams. That many vegetables, trees and plants growing in fore are supplied water by the rains which fall from the sky, and all the wild beasts who inhabit these spots, depend on the rain for water also.”
“Certainly”, he said.
“Well, do not your senses, which you claim to be the perfect means by which we come to the knowledge of things, point out to you that the rain clouds carry water to those places devoid of rivers and streams? If these clouds were creation of some other than He, who created the garden, that other might have stopped supplying water at any time, and the owner of the garden must have been in perpetual anxieties as to the welfare of his garden.”
“You are indeed right”, he said, “There is a perfect connection with each and everything of the world. It would be absurd to say that the creator of the garden, its contents and the store of water laid for its use, is not the same as the creator of the sky and the clouds. He must be the same to water his garden, at certain necessary moments lest His garden die. I wish you to discuss further, that I may clear my brain of any lingering doubt and be thoroughly convinced of the truth.”
“Insha’Allah, with God’s pleasure, I will convince you that the things of this world are created by some wise creator. I will convince you through this ‘halila‘ and prove its connection with the things of the garden and the skies.”
“I can hardly imagine”, said he, “that you can remove all my doubts through the medium of this ‘halila‘.”
“I will from it”, said I, “show you the stability of creation, the atoms and ingredients, that go to make perfect development, and from this halila‘s first connection with its roots and branches prove the dependence one thing has on another, and the close relation borne to celestial objects.”
“If you prove these things”, he said, “I can no longer doubt.”
“You must know”, said I, “that the halila springs from the earth, fibers run to one strong root that flings up a stem. The stem has branches, and the branches twigs and the twigs are studded with pearl- like buds from which leaves emerge, and all these things from a canopy to shelter the whole buds, flowers, fruits, from the severity of the cold or heat.”
“No doubt can linger in my mind”, he said, “the halila with its perfection, and connection, with the place where it grew, its roots and leaves, witnesses with me that there is only one creator; that He has no partner (sharik). For his creations are related to each other and are in harmony one with another”.
“If I further prove to you”, said I, “the wisdom and necessity of these creations, and the dependence of each on the other will you bear witness to the existence, and wisdom (hikmat) of God?”
“I would not hesitate to do so”, he said. “Listen to me”, I said “Do you know that the halila is dependent on the earth, and the earth on the effects of the heat and cold on weather, the weather on the wind, the wind on the clouds, the clouds on the rain, the rain on the season the season on the movements of the Sun and Moon, the Sun and Moon on the revolution of the sky, and the sky on that atmosphere between the heaven and the earth? Surely this dependence and connection of creations are themselves proofs of the wonderful wisdom and skill of God. Their connection is so close to each other that not one can be dispensed with, even (if) one for a moment became out of order, the whole creation-earth and plant would be destroyed.”
“What you say is correct”, he said, “But the creation you missed mentioning, may not have so intimate a connection with the universe.”
“What creation is that?” I asked.
“It is man you have not mentioned”. He replied.
“Don’t you know”, I said, “that these things are most closely connected with man? God has created all these things for his benefit.”
“Can you prove it to my satisfaction” He asked.
“Why not’, I replied.
“I will prove it to you so thoroughly, that you will afterwards bear testimony to the fact that the world and every thing in it is for the use and benefit of man.”
“Tell me, how?” he asked.
“He has created the sky” I said, “overhead as a proof for him, had it been lower or just up to his head he would have suffered. The sun would have scorched him to death. The stars He created as guides to him when he traveled at night by sea or land, others serve him for astronomical calculations and to prove the senses inaptness to know every thing.
They are living witnesses of the existence of great almighty God, who taught man this science. For such science could never be known through the medium of senses and those not taught must have always remained unknown:
“Oh Magnificent (Azim) and Mighty (Jabbar) one, how marvelous are these creations of yours, “He has created for lamps the Sun and lustrous moon. They float in the sky with marvelous rapidity. He lights them accordingly. Their appearance and disappearance cause the seasons. On them rest the calculations of the years; months and days, founded for man use and benefit.
He works during day, and rests at night. Had the days and nights remained in one condition, the day never to become night, nor the night to become day, the people could not have made head-way in their affairs. He the most wise and skilful Creator created the clear and the shining day for work, and the dark night for the rest and repose. He arranged the heat and cold- two contrary effects, yet both necessary. If there had been all heat or cold, nothing could have lived.
The gardens would perish with the beings in it, for all these things are connected with the air that floats in the space. The coldness checks excessive perspiration, and the heat nullifies the harmful effects of the food on the body, besides actively assisting in its development- when the body gets dried, moisture is produce by it; when moist, the heat absorbs the moisture. In the same way the clouds absorb or give out; you see they rain in proportionate quantity to the need of the world. If they did not, the whole world runs risk of total destruction.
God sends rain regularly to the earth inhabited by the Sons of Adam -the carpet on which they walk, or cradle wherein they sleep. God has kept the world upright for him -the mountains are the weights, and from the mountains the rivers flow to water the world- without these streams of water the earth must have remained dry and the people in a poor condition. He has created the seas, over which men voyage. In these seas are creatures some of which give food to man, and ornaments by which he adorns himself.
The combination of the whole world and the uniformity of design throughout plainly indicate one creator of the whole. For nowhere exists the Contrast and difference of opinion that must necessarily arise, in the case of another creator. The sky has produced things for man’s benefit the earth likewise. There are vegetables, fresh grapes, grain, dates, green gardens, fruits and pastures skillfully devised for man’s use and pleasure.
The beasts and many other purposes are created by God for him. They are necessary for his upkeep and well-being. You must bear in mind that there are two distinct species of life in the world. One of generation, the other of production. One is made to eat; the other to be eaten both (kinds of) creatures necessarily being the same. Because He who constructed the human body also knows the correct food for it. He gave the appetite that asks the food, the stomach that digests, and supplies the tissues and replenishes the blood. He arranged those intestines through which waste and effect matter passes. Had the creator of man been other than the creator of his food. He would not have created appetite that wants the food of that other creature nor would the other creature allow his creation to be eaten.
“You have by your eloquence”, he said, “Made me unhesitatingly declare that the creator of all the things is one and the same. He is the only one wise, merciful, omnipotent and omniscient God,
I praise Him and glorify Him. But I have doubt with regard to one thing. Are the deadly poison that kill man and injure the creations created by Him?”
“Is it not clear to you”, I asked, “that poison is created by God?”
“Well, I don’t understand”, he replied, “Why He creates injurious and evil things. Such evil things be far from His nature, and it does not have Him to injure what is His own.”
“I will still by this, halila and the medical science explains and prove to you that such things seemingly harmful to man are not in reality so. Do you know of any plants perfectly harmless to man?” I asked.
“Yes”, he replied.
“What are they?”
“Those which men eat daily for food”, he said. “Do you believe”, I asked, “that food sometimes produces change of color in the body, and various ailments, such as leprosy, consumption or Jaundice?”
“Yes”, he said.
“Then your reply, a short time back was incorrect.”
“Yes, indeed”, he said.
“Do you know of roots of no benefit to man?” I asked.
“Yes”, he replied.
“What are they?” I asked.
“They are ………… (this remains an unfilled space as the words of the reply are not found in the original text).
“But do you not know, that mixed with other things there very roots cure leprosy and consumption? I think you must know this. Can you tell me the name of plant that acts as an antidote to poison?”
Has not ‘Tiryak‘ such an effect?” I asked.
“Yes”, he replied, ‘Tiryak’ is the King of all medicines. It is sought for in cases of snake bite, sting of a wasp or an ant, or when poison has been taken internally.”
“Do you not Know”, said I “that poisons are administered in two ways, namely, external application, and internal administration, and this ‘tiryak‘ is prepared by special distillation and the burning with it of the flesh of the most venomous snakes?”
“Yes” he said, “I am wrong again, for, tiryak dose, not prove an efficacious antidote to poison unless prepared as you mention.”
“Then there is nothing really evil, though it may seem so at the first sight, created by God”, said I.
“Now I declare, ‘La-i-laha, il-lallah, vah-dahula sharik-a-lahu (There is no God but one God, and He has no partner), and bear testimony that He has created all the (seemingly) injurious things as well as the good. The heavenly bodies, the clouds and wind He regulates. The diseases and medicines are all from Him. He knows man’s body exactly -its ailments and remedies. He knows man’s soul in the same way. He has made the stars that calculate man’s destiny. There is uniformity of design, and no contradiction. The whole Universe in harmony speaks of one God. Tell me now, something of Him Why do you call Him ‘Avval‘ the first, ‘Akhir‘ the last, ‘Khabir‘ the omniscient and ‘Latif‘ the wise and grand?”
“He is ‘Avval’ because He is free from every kind of ‘kayfiyat’-circumstances such as heat, cold, hardness, softness, etc. He is ‘Akhir’ because He has no end. There is no one like unto him. He has created the Universe with the help of no one. (He has created absolutely from nothing; no matter was required. His ‘Amr’ (command) passed, and the Universe was in existence). He created without the least trouble or reflection of mind. He needs no ‘kayfiyat‘ (condition) to create, for conditions themselves are created by Him. We call Him ‘Avval‘, because He had no beginning. He is from all eternity. He has none to equal Him in power, nor any self-existing adversary, nor any equal in any of His attributes. He is not known to the senses-(for the senses can only detect created things). He is known only by His creation-the wonderful phenomenon, whose existence speaks of great wisdom. He is God, the most holy and exalted- Tabarak-va-ta’ala.
“Why do you call Him ‘Qavi’, the most powerful?” he asked.
“We call Him ‘Qavi‘, because He has created very enormous and strong things such as, earth with mountains, seas and sands, moving things, such as men, beast?, clouds of water, sun, moon and Stars. The magnitude of their size, their munificence and luster, the revolution and majesty of the empyrean empire, with the wonders of the earth are appallingly great. These momentous of His Mightiness guide us to ‘ma’arifat‘-knowledge of His self. We do not call Him ‘Qavi’, because, of the power of the created things. In no way does He compare with created things, for their attributes diminish or increase, their power is dependent on some other thing for existence, and eternal has no likeness to them, in their defective greatness. We call Him ‘Azim‘-the great–and ‘Kabir‘-mighty- incomparable to any earthly greatness. We call a tree great, and we call a wrestler strong. But this gives us no idea of God’s greatness and strength.”
“How is it?” he asked, that He calls Himself in the holy book of ‘Qur’an‘ “Sami’”-one who hears,
“Basir” -who sees and “Aleem”-one who knows?”
“For this reason that nothing from Him is hidden- neither any act nor any thought. He is ‘Basir‘, for His observation extends over the Universe. He is ‘Sami’‘ for the whispers of every man are heard by Him. He hears the secrets of every whisper,-no three persons whisper together, but He is the fourth among them, and so on. He hears the sound of an ant walking on a viscid stone, the sounds of noiseless birds flying in the air. Nothing escapes His knowledge-visible or invisible, felt or unfelt;-all things are in His knowledge. He is ‘Sami’, not because He hears with ears as we of the earth do, for He has neither ears nor eyes. He is ‘Aleem‘, for nothing is unknown to Him, whether it be fathom deep in the ground or beyond the skies, whether it be near or far. He had knowledge of all things before they came into existence. He is ‘Aleem‘. But His knowledge is not acquired as man does with the aid of his senses. His attributes are His essence. He is exempt from all human attributes, pure and undefiled. These attributes of Sam’a, Basar and Ilm must not give you an earthly idea of God. He is far above His creations, holy and pure, and His names are holy too”.
“You have made it perfectly clear to me”, said he, ‘but I want you to explain it in such a way that I may give proper reply to all queries put to me, I wish to so study the subject that I may at once confound or refute atheists and their skepticism, and moreover be useful to those who are seeking the truth, and solidify the ground on which true believers stand. Why is He called ‘Latif‘-fine? I am aware because He has created fine things. But I should like (to have) a further explanation of this”.
“He is Latif”, said I, “because every thing of His to the smallest creation, sometimes so small as to be unperceived by the human eyes, shows fineness and finished perfection to the minutest detail-some small creations, a gnat or an ant are indistinguishable as to sex, condition or age-when one observes that these have a certain reasoning power, have desires, passions, and fear of death and they love their young ones and recognize their friends, despite their minuteness; when we see other creatures inhabiting different places-skies, seas, forests or houses – all with the above attributes, in wonder and worship we call Him ‘Latif‘-the creator of fine and minute creations, as we call Him ‘Qavi‘, because He created powerful and strong things”.
“What you have explained to me is very clear”, he said. “But how come it possible for man to call himself – by the names applicable to God?”
“Because God, the most holy and high has not prohibited it. Man calls a certain thing one, and calls God one also. He calls one man muthawwir (artist) and God is ‘muthawwir ‘ also, another ‘Raziq’-supplier of food-or Sami’, ‘Basir‘ and he calls God the same; but the meaning vastly different when applied to God. When a thing to be one, it suggests that there are more like it. But when God is called one, it suggests that there never was or is or will be another like unto Him. You may be aware that names are given to people for identification only. We call a person when he is alone, but in truest sense of word man is not one, he is many, he has different limbs unlike to one another, has blood, flesh, bones and sinews ash hairs and nails, darkness and whiteness, and all creature is like this, proving that a person is one only in name and not really in structure or sense. But the word ‘one’ is justly applicable to God, who is like unto no one. He holds the names Sami’, Basir, Qavi, ‘Aziz, Hakim and in the same way. He the most exalted God,-has created every wonder. These very names bespeak not His attributes, but that which He is-His essence. His attributes are not in addition to His-self but He is Sami’, Basir, Hakim, ‘Aleem and Qavi in His very essence”.
“Explain to me”, he said, “why He has called Himself ‘Rauf‘ ‘Rahim‘, merciful and what is meant by His will or consent and ‘Gadhab‘, anger or displeasure?”
“Mercy in us”, said I “is an instinct which prompts to kindness and gifts. But the mercy of God is the kindness and reward bestowed on man. Man’s mercy holds two interpretations-pity for a man in distress without alleviating it; or pity in a more substantial form as extricating him for the time from his trouble, say, supplying him with food or clothing. People speak very highly and point out this charity as most commendable. The action of charity was produced by the instinct of mercy in the human heart. But God’s mercy is also the mercy originating from us. For example, when one has been rescued by another from the pangs of hunger, or the fangs of some fierce animal, at once we feel the mercy of God. It is true that He is merciful, but not in the same way as man is merciful. The mercy that originates in man’s heart does not exist in God’s, though God put it in men; for, God has no heart like man. Again ‘gadhab‘ when man gets angry, he himself undergoes changes-his limbs tremble, his color changes, and he inflicts punishment on the one who roused his anger. But God suffers no changes. The word ‘gadhab‘ is used in two senses–that one originating from the heart is not applicable to God, in the same way ‘Raza‘ (pleasure) ‘Rahmat(mercy) and Na-raza (displeasure). He is only the ‘Jalil‘-(glorious)-, ‘Azim‘-(magnificent), and there is none like unto him”.
“Now, explain to me His intention and will”, he said,
“Why is he called ‘Murid‘ (willing)?”
“Man’s action”, said I “Is the result of intention and pre-conceived thought. The intention of God is the accomplishment of the deed without pre-meditation or thought. At His ‘Amr‘, or command-the thing is already at perfection, without trouble or care on His part.”
“You have fully convinced me”, he said, “in every detail, and your arguments are more than enough for any person of common sense. To God, who guides us to the right path, and prevents us from falling into sin, or daring to compare Him; or doubt His greatness, might and Omnipotence, I offer my heart felt thanks. Indeed He is great, without a rival. There is none like Him. He is too exalted to have any equal or partner”.
Peace unto Those Who Follow The Truth.