Question: Atheists say, “We cannot see such beings as angels, genies, and Satan. An invisible thing is nonexistent.” Could you give explanations concerning this matter?
A person who disbelieves in angels, genies, or Satan cannot be a Muslim because these are explicitly written in the Qur’ân al-karîm and ahâdîth.
The world is a place of trial and test. Allahu ta’âlâ has ordered us at the beginning of Baqara Sûra to have belief in the ghayb, that is, to have belief without seeing. A trial is necessary to distinguish the good from the bad and the Believers from the disbelievers. Allahu ta’âlâ certainly foreknows, without ever putting them to a prior test, what His servants will do or whether they will commit unlawful actions and sins. But if He punishes them before they commit unlawful deeds, they may say, “It is not fair to be subjected to punishment because we have neither committed a sin nor have been put to a test.” For such reasons, human beings are brought to the world so as to be tested. Some bans have been imposed and some acts of worship have been made obligatory so that the obedient can be distinguished from the disobedient and the wrongdoers from the righteous.
For example, people are asking, “Why is it harâm (forbidden by Islam) to eat pork, or lamb that has been jugulated without saying the Basmala?” Is it not within the realms of possibility that it has been forbidden not only for the pure reason that it has a harmful effect but also for the reason that the obedient can be distinguished from the disobedient?
This is such a test that both questions and their answers are known beforehand. All of the questions that will be asked in the grave or in the Hereafter have been told. No one will be able to raise any objections under the pretext that he or she did not know the questions.
That such things as genies, Satan, the evil eye, Paradise, and Hell have been kept hidden from sight is a test for us as well. If we had been put to the test after seeing them, then what weight would it carry? If, for example, a very hard-working and a knowledgeable student and a very lazy and an ignorant student sit for an examination at the same time and if the questions and their answers are known beforehand, both will write the same things. Thus, the hard-working student will not be able to be discriminated from the lazy one. Is an examination not necessary to separate the one who knows from the one who does not [or rather the Believer from the disbeliever]?
Saying “nonexistent” about everything invisible means leaving aside the mind and following organs of perception. Animals follow their organs of perception, but humans follow their mind. Human organs of perception are lower than those of animals. For example, dogs have a very acute sense of smell. Humans do not have a sense of smell to such a degree, nor do they move in the pitch dark as bats do. Although they cannot see in the dark without light, cats have this ability. Therefore, we should decide not according to our eyes but according to our reason.
We cannot see with our eyes the magnetic power of a magnet, but we conclude from its attracting a piece of iron toward itself that power exists in it. Likewise, we can turn a television on or off with a remote control. Some power, which is concealed from sight, in the remote control performs this task. The doors of a car are opened with a device issuing commands from a distance. But we cannot see the power that operates it. Then we should attach importance not to the senses but to the mind. Similarly, laser beams are used in surgery or in cutting iron. We cannot see these beams and magnetic waves. It is contrary to reason and science to say nonexistent concerning a thing which cannot be perceived by the eye.
In the same way, we cannot see electrical current through a wire, but looking at the tasks it carries out, we judge that it contains current. We cannot reject its existence simply because we do not see it. By the same token, the force of gravity is invisible, but we understand from an object’s falling not to the air but to the ground that the earth has a gravitational force.
We understand the existence of the soul because it keeps the body alive and enables it to move. But we cannot see it. We call a person who knows right from wrong wise. But we cannot see wisdom, either. There are many things the existence of which are perceived through the mind, though they are not accessible to view. When some people look at something and like it, the rays coming out from their eyes, that is, the evil eye, are harmful and cause damage to everything whether it is living or lifeless. Perhaps some day science will be able to find out these rays and their effects.
In short, let us repeat that it is contrary to the mind and science to say “nonexistent” concerning what we cannot see. Saying nonexistent regarding everything invisible means leaving aside the mind and following senses. Animals follow their senses, but humans follow their mind.
Of the followers of the Mu’tazila sect, some deny the existence of genies while some others believe in it. Though they accept their existence, they reject the fact that genies cause damage to humans. The book Nûr-ul-Islam writes, “The first father of genies is Jân.” It is purported in the Qur’ân al-karîm:
(We created Jân before from poisonous smokeless fire.) [Sûrat-ul-Hijr, 27]
Devils are descendants of Iblîs (Satan). Iblîs, in turn, is from a tribe of genies. The Qur’ân al-karîm purports:
(Iblîs was of the genies.) [Sûrat-ul-Kahf, 50]
The initial verses of Jinn Sûra declare that there are those among genies who accept îmân. The Nâs Sûra informs us of the fact that of the genies there are those who cause humans harm and tells us that we should take refuge in Allah from their harm. Therefore, those who disbelieve in genies and their causing humans harm become disbelievers (kâfir). The Qur’ân al-karîm declares that Sulaiman ‘alaihis-salâm also had orderly soldiers comprised of genies. (Sûrat-un-Naml, 17)
The Hell will be filled with genies and humans. (Sûrat-us-Sajdah, 13)
Genies, like humans, were created so that they should know and worship Allah. (Sûrat-udh-Dhâriyât, 56)
There are many other verses in the Holy Qur’an about
genies. Moreover, ahâdîth prescribe prayers to protect ourselves against genies. To disbelieve the existence of something one cannot see with eyes is contrary to the mind and science.
In order for the mind to decide correctly
The mind is not dependent on the eye, but the eye is dependent on the mind. The eye cannot see everything. For instance, after many experiments, we have learnt that the air contains various gases. However, the air and the gases it contains are imperceptible to our eyes. As we cannot see them, if we, subjugating our mind to our eyes, say, “There is no such thing as air or gas. If it existed, we would see it,” it comes to mean that we have totally disregarded the mind and experiments.
Today, we know through scientific knowledge that water is composed of two gases termed hydrogen and oxygen. Of them, one is caustic while the other is combustible. When we look at water, it is not possible for us to see oxygen or hydrogen. What is more, because water is colorless, we cannot even see the water in a bottle filled to the brim with water. Then can we, subjugating our mind to our eyes, say, “There is no water in the bottle and no gas in the water”?
If the importance of the mind and human dignity were measured by the strength of seeing, the cat would be more honorable than the human. For the human cannot see in the dark without light as the cat can. Then a decision should be made on the basis of the mind, not the eye.
Because some poisonous gases are colorless and odorless, they are unseeable, and their existence is imperceptible. For this reason, some odor is added to the gas in a cylinder in order for it not to poison people in a room in the event of a leakage. Thereby we can notice the gas in a room from its odor though we do not see it.
By only looking at two chili peppers, we cannot understand that one has a sweet taste and the other has a hot taste; it is not the duty of eyes. Eyes cannot see the objects which are beyond the visibility distance and which are smaller than a certain size. Just as small germs are invisible to the eye, so is a bulky person who is too far away. We cannot claim their nonexistence purely on the grounds that we cannot see them.
Similarly, we have no knowledge of the existence of some planets. Because today’s science fails to discover them, these planets cannot be asserted to be nonexistent. Likewise, we cannot see the soul, which keeps living beings alive, but it is impossible to disbelieve in it.
To deny the existence of genies is to deny the existence of Allahu ta’âlâ. Hence, the mind and science must not be made subservient to the eye. On the contrary, the eye must be made subservient to the mind. The mind, on the other hand, cannot find the truth by itself. The mind is like the eye, and Islam is like light. That is, the light of Islam is needed so that the mind can make a correct decision.
Is there a number before 1?
Once there wan an intelligent atheist. When Christian ecclesiastics were unable to score off him, they sent him to Basra city, saying that only Islamic scholars could provide satisfactory answers for him. He came Basra and defied everyone, stating, “I have not been able to find any scholars who can give me an answer.”
“First discuss the matter with our disciples. You will have a talk with scholars if need be,” said Hadrat Hammad and made him face young Nu’mân bin Thâbit [Hadrat Imâm-i A’zam Abû Hanifa]. To have to discuss the matter with a person who was so young as to be called a child injured the atheist’s pride. He thumped the platform with his fist and exclaimed, “Where are your famed scholars?”
The young Nu’mân bin Thâbit paid him back in his own coin, saying, “What is it? It seems that you have begun to be scared of me.” The atheist was intolerant of this statement and asked his first question:
“Is it possible for an existing being not to have a beginning and an end?
“Yes, it is possible.”
“How is it possible?”
“Well, you know numbers. Which number is there before 1?”
“None at all.”
“If there is nothing at all before the metaphoric one, what can be before the Real One?”
“Which direction does the Real Being face?”
“Which direction does the light of a candle face?”
“It cannot be said that it faces a certain direction.”
“If this is the case with a metaphoric light, what can be said for the eternal Nûr?
“Is it not necessary for every being to occupy a place?”
“This applies to creatures.”
“If God is within the universe, is it not necessary that He should be seen from somewhere?”
“The Creator cannot be compared with the created. Can you see the fat in milk?”
“It is not seen.”
“It is a fact that milk contains fat. How can we reject its existence purely on the grounds that it is invisible to us? Let me ask you a question: ‘Do you have intellect?’”
“I surely have.”
“You say that an existing thing is seen. If you have intellect, can you show it?”
“All right, what is He doing right now?”
“You have asked all your questions from the platform. From now on I will give the answers from the platform.”
“Okay, adjourn to the platform.”
This young man, who will become Imâm-i A’zam in days to come, appeared before the platform and stated, “Allahu ta’âlâ is now making such a faithless atheist as you descend from the platform and is making such a believer in the oneness of Allah as me ascend the platform.” He then recited the 28th verse of Rahmân Sûra, which purports, “Then which blessings of your Rabb can you deny?” The crowd gathered there started to make repentance in chorus. In the meantime, the atheist has already gone.