Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
This is an article describing the Transcendent, yet Personal God of the Abrahamic Faiths in the present day scientific paradigm, the One God of Islam, Unitarian Christianity and Judaism.
If my articles are boring to you, it may be that you need to read more of them, as was suggested by John Cage, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
In the three great monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, God is viewed as a supreme, transcendent being, beyond matter space and time, and yet the foundation of all that meets our senses that is described in terms of matter, space, and time. That is the Al Batin or the Hidden God of monotheism. Furthermore, this God is not the god of deism, who created the world and then left it alone, or the god of pantheism, who is equated with all of existence. The Islamic and the Judeo-Christian God is a nanosecond-by-nanosecond participant in each event that takes place in every cubic nanometer of the universe. He has full knowledge of all things. God listens to every thought and participates in each action of his very special creation, a minute bit of organized matter called humanity that moves around on the surface of a tiny pebble in a vast universe. The Holy Quran declares:
Allah’s is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and to Allah are all affairs returned for final judgment. (Al Quran 57:6)
Whereas the nineteenth century physics was about to frame God out of physical understanding of the universe, the twentieth century physics has turned the tables in favor of Monotheism.
To the atheists design in the universe is apparent but not real. For the theists, enlightened in science, the converse is true, the self sufficiency of the universe based on the laws of nature is apparent and perceived only and is not real. God is the Law Giver and sustainer of the universe. Both positions may be argued to some degree from modern science. However, only theism can offer a holistic approach, not only explaining our universe, but also human morality and ethics, our history and personal experience.
When we approach science from this theistic perspective we find that our religion and science become one and our psyche finds unification.
If there is a ‘Personal God’ that hears human prayers then there has to be a way for the deity to influence the physical world without breaking the laws of nature and making the study of science futile. Quantum physics may be the magical wand, whereby Personal God can influence our world, without breaking the laws of nature. In His infinite wisdom, the Omniscient God provided for infinite means to maintain His divinity!
The article, the Indispensible God Hypothesis can be read online in the fall, 2008 volume, on page 22 of the PDF file: Muslim Sunrise Fall 2008.
Allah has created the heavens and the earth with a purpose and based on precise truth. In that surely is a sign for the believers. (Al Quran 29:44/45)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
I wrote this article in May of 2020, but now six months later in Nonmember as Pfizer and Moderna have reported that their vaccines have almost 95% effectiveness, I am choosing to republish this article, as it may give readers a new experience with this enhanced perspective.
Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina has slammed the World Health Organization (WHO) for not endorsing its COVID-19 herbal cure.
Last month, the Malagasy president officially launched Covid-Organics (CVO), an organic herbal concoction, claiming that it can prevent and cure patients suffering from the novel coronavirus.
“If it were a European country which had discovered this remedy, would there be so many doubts,” he said in an exclusive interview with France 24, Paris-based international television news network and Radio France International.
”The problem is that it comes from Africa. And they cannot accept that a country like Madagascar, which is one of the poorest countries in the world, has discovered this formula to save the world,” he added (1).
But, how does WHO know quackery from real treatments? After all some fundamentalist Hindus in March 2020, were promoting cow urine as prevention against coronavirus infection.
Many news channels covered cow urine drinking party. US News, for example wrote: “A Hindu group hosted a cow urine drinking party on Saturday as they believe it wards off the coronavirus, as many Hindus consider the cow sacred and some drink cow urine believing it has medicinal properties.
Experts have repeatedly asserted that cow urine does not cure illnesses like cancer and there is no evidence that it can prevent coronavirus.
The ‘party,’ hosted by a group called the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (All India Hindu Union) at its headquarters in the country’s capital, was attended by 200 people, and the organizers hoped to host similar events elsewhere in India.
‘We have been drinking cow urine for 21 years, we also take bath in cow dung. We have never felt the need to consume English medicine,’ said Om Prakash, a person who attended the party.
Chakrapani Maharaj, the chief of the All India Hindu Union, posed for photographs as he placed a spoon filled with cow urine near the face of a caricature of the coronavirus.
Leaders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party have advocated the use of cow urine as medicine and a cure for cancer.
A leader from India’s north eastern state of Assam told state lawmakers earlier this month during an assembly session that cow urine and cow dung can be used to treat the coronavirus.” (2)
The fundamentalist Muslims were quick to promote black seed or Kolonji as a prevention and cure for Covid 19 infection.
Bishop Gerald Glenn, the founder and pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church (NDEC) in Chesterfield, Virginia, died on April 11, 2020, church elder Bryan Nevers said in a video post on the church’s Facebook page.
“During this time of intense grief, we ask that you pray continually for the FIRST FAMILY of NDEC,” a Facebook post from the church read. “While they are mourning the heartbreaking earthly absence of their family patriarch & spiritual father, they also have family members who are struggling to survive this dreaded pandemic.”
Glenn and his wife, Marcietia Glenn, tested positive for the virus, their daughter Mar-Gerie Crawley said in a video shared on Facebook. Crawley said in an update Friday that Gerald Glenn was very sick but had improved slightly after being put on a ventilator.
“I just beg people to understand the severity and the seriousness of this because people are saying it’s not just about us, it’s about everyone around us,” Crawley said.
She told Richmond station WTVR that Glenn had diverticulitis and that it was not uncommon for him to get sick or have a fever. Glenn’s health worsened despite trips to urgent care and the emergency room, she added.
Despite authorities urging people to practice social distancing, Glenn held an in-person service on March 22.
“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” Glenn told his congregation in a sermon that day, according to video of the service shared by WTVR. He vowed to keep preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital,” the New York Times reported. He died three weeks later of Covid 19 infection (3).
God may applaud the Pastor’s religious zeal in the Hereafter, but, He certainly did not appreciate the Pastor’s flaunting of the laws of nature.
In the meanwhile, there has been growing disquiet in Israel about the slowness of some ultra-Orthodox communities to adopt official measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
Many ultra-Orthodox live within large families in crowded neighborhoods. Their access to the internet and social media is also limited for religious reasons, meaning news and information from the outside world is comparatively poor.
In some strictly religious communities, gatherings for prayer and celebrations including weddings have continued to take place, despite the nationwide ban.
BBC reported, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town with one of the highest rates of coronavirus cases in Israel has been placed under effective lockdown.
Residents of Bnei Brak, just outside Tel Aviv, will only be allowed out in exceptional circumstances. Only some key workers will be allowed in.
A senior health official said almost 40% of the town’s 200,000 inhabitants probably had the virus (4).
Happy Science is a Japanese doomsday cult. It claims 11 million members worldwide in more than 50 countries, operates a publishing company and several film/animation studios, funds a political wing that fields candidates in Japan, runs a system of unaccredited “universities” and holds events and enlightening seminars.
Formerly known as The Institute for Research in Human Happiness, Happy Science is one of a large number of new religions which have sprouted up in post-war Japan, generally regarded derisively and suspiciously by most Japanese, particularly after a 1995 terrorist attack perpetrated by a different cult in Tokyo’s subway. The group’s English-language reading materials seem benign enough, but the group’s far-right political agenda is expressed much more openly and unambiguously in their Japanese-language media, which espouses extreme Japanese nationalism, social conservatism and xenophobia (5).
According to Happy Science, the virus was created as a bioweapon by the Chinese government in Wuhan, and then, in a twist, it was unleashed by a U.F.O. to punish the communists for their godless ways. It has spread to other lands that lack true faith.
This material was quickly published as three booklets in Japanese and has now been translated in English this month as “Spiritual Reading of Novel Coronavirus Infection Originated in China.”
But there is hope for the faithful, the Happies say. Along with the book series, they now sell coronavirus-themed DVDs and CDs of Mr. Okawa, the supreme head of Happy Science lecturing; the sound alone of his voice is meant to hold immune-boosting power.
In one video clip, Mr. Okawa advised, “You must knock out the coronavirus with your El Cantare belief.”
He also introduced the sacred text of a new ritual purported to miraculously cure the disease. It is conducted in private at temples, in exchange for donations. Japanese ads list several prices for virus-related blessings, going from $100 to more than $400.
Numerous members of the congregation have requested the coronavirus prayer.
“It’s amazing,” Mr. Hagimoto said. “We’re seeing people being cured.”
Before his extravagant reinvention, Mr. Okawa was born Takashi Nakagawa in 1956, on the southern island of Shikoku in Japan. The postwar decades in Japan had seen a surge in new and novel forms of religion that blended imported New Age texts with longstanding Japanese traditions. It was in this soul-searching mélange that Mr. Okawa came of age.
In the early days of the virus, Happy Science had proudly kept its Manhattan doors open for business even as some churches closed. But as infections in the city soared, the temple announced that it would lock up.
Beginning in April, Happy Science will administer spiritual vaccines remotely (6).
There is a legendary experiment that young Galileo Galilei did in the sixteenth century, perched atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa, he dropped cannonballs of different weights to see if all objects fall at the same rate due to gravity. They did. It’s a story that’s easy to remember, but whether it actually took place is debatable. If a Muslim saint, a Christian Pastor, a Jewish Rabbi, a Hindu Pundit or a Buddhist incarnation of Buddha were to jump off from Leaning Tower of Pisa to fly after their prayers, they will crash to the ground at the same speed. Gravity rules no matter what!
Likewise these religious experts despite their set of beliefs, dogma and rituals cannot fight or deny the biology of Covid 19.
In the words of Charles Darwin, as he quoted Francis Bacon from his book Advancement of learning, in the later editions of On the Origin of Species, to establish the proper relationship between religion and natural science: “To conclude, therefore, let no man out of weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well-studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficiency in both.”
WHO has not directly responded to the President of Madagascar, but they have posted on their website, under the heading of, WHO supports scientifically-proven traditional medicine:
“The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19.
WHO recognizes that traditional, complementary and alternative medicine has many benefits and Africa has a long history of traditional medicine and practitioners that play an important role in providing care to populations. Medicinal plants such as Artemisia annua are being considered as possible treatments for COVID-19 and should be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects. Africans deserve to use medicines tested to the same standards as people in the rest of the world. Even if therapies are derived from traditional practice and natural, establishing their efficacy and safety through rigorous clinical trials is critical.” (7)
As noted in the epigraph of this article, Allah has created our universe based on precise truth, which here will imply scientific truth and laws of nature, any attempts to succeed in such a universe that are not based in reality and instead bank on emotional or ill placed religious zeal are destined to fail. Indeed, only honest scientific method and not religious dogma or ritual will offer us prevention and cure of the novel Covid 19.
This is the only surah that mentions meteors and interstellar gas twice, in the verse 7: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, if you would only have faith,” and the verse 38: “We did not create the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in sport.” These verses have a language about ‘what is between the heavens and the earth,’ a 20th century physics and astronomy concept in a text that is from the seventh century Arabia.
When we read these verses with a sympathetic mindset and slight indulgence of the assumptions mentioned above we come to the safe realization or conclusion that the Quran is the word of all knowing God and not of Muhammad, may peace be on him.
A seventh century writer would have no insight into meteors and interstellar gas and if for some strange reason he did, his immediate audience would have found no use for it. In other words the mention of these concepts twice in this Surah is certainly miraculous.
At this point we want to stress that we begin to see and appreciate or detest the Quran in light of our assumptions or biases. Someone who reads the Quran with the enlightenment that the Quran is about justice and compassion and only allows defensive war, will come to find certain verses as primary and interpret other verses in light of those. See the article: Defensive War in the Holy Quran in 600 Words. On the other hand someone bitten by the bug of Islamophobia or an Islamist who wants to establish a theocracy, by hook or crook, will stress some other verses and will reduce the verses mentioned in the above article in this paragraph to a secondary status. This phenomenon is not our original discovery but is mentioned by the Quran itself several times, for example: 3:7, 7:45 and 17:82. So, here is a suggested article to start reading the holy Quran on the right foot, with the correct perspective: The Purpose And Context Of The Qur’an.
This is a well-known and often recited surah regarding which the Prophet is reported to have said, ‘Whosoever recites al-Dukhan during the night will greet the morning with seventy thousand angels asking forgiveness for him’ (Aj, Al, Ts, Z)
We suggest that we should take this hadith as a blessing and inspiration and not take the angel count literally.
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
44:1. The Praise worthy, the Lord of Honor.
44:2-16. We call to witness this clear Book. We revealed it in a blessed Night, We have ever been warning. In it are all matters of wisdom expounded with discrimination by Our command. We have ever sent Messengers, as a mercy from your Lord. He indeed is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing, the Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, if you would only have faith. There is no god but He. He bestows life and He causes death. He is your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. Yet they play about in doubt.
Then watch for the Day when the sky brings forth clouds of smoke that envelops the people. That will be a painful torment. The cry will go up: Lord, remove from us the torment; we do believe. How will they be admonished, seeing that there came to them a Messenger, expounding matters clearly, and they turned away from him declaring: He is tutored, a man possessed! Yet, We shall remove the torment for a while, but you will certainly revert to your misdeeds.
Keep in mind, however, that on the day when We afflict you with the Great Affliction, We will certainly exact retribution.
44:17-29. We tried the people of Pharaoh before them. There came to them a noble Messenger, who said to them: Restore to me the servants of Allah; I am a faithful Messenger sent to you, to warn you not to exalt yourselves in defiance of Allah. I come to you with a clear authority. I seek the protection of my Lord and yours against your insults. If you believe not in me, then leave me alone.
Then he called on his Lord: This is indeed a sinful people; and his Lord directed him: Set forth with My servants by night; you will surely be pursued. Then leave the sea behind, treading along the furrows of the dunes. Surely, Pharaoh’s host are doomed to be drowned. They left behind many a garden and spring, and cornfield, and comfortable dwelling, and luxury in which they delighted. Thus it was; and We made another people inherit all that. The heaven and the earth mourned them not, nor were they granted respite.
44:30-33. We delivered the children of Israel from the humiliating torment inflicted on them by Pharaoh. He was surely haughty and of the extravagant. We chose them deliberately above the peoples of their time. We gave them revelations in which there was a clear test.
44:34-42. The disbelievers of Makkah say: There is only one death for us and we shall not be raised up again. Bring back our fathers if you speak the truth.
Are they better than the people of Tubba and those before them? We destroyed them because they were sinful.We did not create the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in sport. We created them for an enduring purpose, but most of them know not. The Day of Judgment is the appointed time for all of them; the Day when a friend shall not avail a friend at all, nor shall they be helped, save those to whom Allah shows mercy. Surely, He is the Mighty, the Ever Merciful.
44:43-50. The tree of Zaqqum is the food of the sinful; like hot molten metal, it will boil in their bellies, like the boiling of scalding water. The angels will be commanded: Seize this sinful one, and drag him into the midst of the blazing Fire; then pour upon his head the torment of boiling water. He will be told: Now suffer this, you who did hold yourself mighty and noble. This is that which you doubted.
44:51-59. Indeed, the righteous will be in a place of security, amid gardens and springs, attired in fine silk and heavy brocade, facing one another. Thus will it be. We shall give them as companions fair maidens, having wide lustrous eyes. They will call therein for every kind of fruit, dwelling in security. They will not suffer any death therein after the first death, and Allah will safeguard them against the torment of the Fire, as an act of grace from your Lord. That is the supreme triumph.
We have made the Quran easy to understand, in your own language (Muhammad) that they may take heed. So wait; the disbelievers too are waiting.
We believe the two fundamental beliefs in Islam, which it shares with Judaism and Christianity are belief in the Transcendent God and accountability in the life after death. (87:16-19) The former is discussed at some length in the commentary of Surah Al Fatihah and the latter in the commentary of Surah Al Waqi’ah.
These are the two common themes that are discussed in almost every surah, and are the fundamental teachings for which all the 124,000 prophets were sent by God, with prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, with the final message the holy Quran. With this paradigm the commentary of most of the verses becomes very clear just in the light of the introduction and the translation.
“The disbelievers of Makkah say: There is only one death for us and we shall not be raised up again. Bring back our fathers if you speak the truth.”
“He it is Who made the sun radiate a brilliant light and the moon reflect a luster, and ordained for it stages, that you might know the number of years and the reckoning of time. Allah has not created this but in truth. He details the Signs for a people who have knowledge.” (10:5)
The best commentary of the verses under discussion is a debate between well known theists and atheists. Three well known atheists, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer and Matt Ridley debated two Christian and a Jewish apologist, including William Lane Craig, in 2010 in Mexico, regarding the purpose of our universe and the human life, mainly in English:
Cf. 21:16; 38:27. Similar to v. 38, in 23:115, the denizens of Hell are asked, Did you suppose, then, that We created you frivolously, and that you would not be returned unto Us? Similar to v. 39, other verses say, And We did not create the heavens and the earth and whatsoever is between them, save in truth (15:85: 46:3). All such verses indicate that, contrary to the pre-Islamic understanding of creation in Arabia, creation has a deﬁnite purpose. With regard to human beings, this means that they are created for faith and obedience (Aj), as in 51:56, I did not create jinn and mankind, save to worship Me, and to be resurrected and requited in accord with the degree to which they fulﬁlled their purpose.
“The Day of Judgment is the appointed time for all of them.”
That creation is not made frivolously or in play (v. 38) alludes to the consequences of its being created for a purpose and thus to Resurrection and the Day of Judgment (R), which is here called the Day of Division (37:21; 77:13-14, 38; 78:17; see also 10:28; 30:14, 43), indicating the manner in which people will be divided from relatives and loved ones (Aj) and the manner in which the Judgment will divide believers and disbelievers from one another for eternity.