The Global Philosophy of Religion Project
Channel: Hamza Yusuf
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Welcome to the global philosophy of religion project at the University of Birmingham, run by Professor Yujin nagasawa, we get closer to truth are thrilled to collaborate. homsar used to have Hansen is president of zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, a proponent of the liberal arts and great books education in both the Western and Muslim traditions. He has numerous scholarly publications on religion and contemporary ethical concerns. How's that? It's a real pleasure to meet. Thank you. Nice to meet you, Robert. Let's talk about God in Islam. Obviously, God is the center of Islam. But I want to ask
that in Islamic history and tradition, our arguments for the existence of God prevalent Do you find them in discussions, as we do in some other religions? It's been, in the name of God, the Most Merciful, the most compassionate prayers and peace be upon our Prophet and all the prophets. First of all, arguments for the existence of God are certainly, I think, rife in the Islamic tradition. A lot of people don't know that, in fact, the Catholic tradition
that also works with reason and revelation is heavily influenced by the Muslim tradition. And so you'll find in the five ways of Aquinas, a good deal of the material that Aquinas was working with came out of some of the great Muslim philosophers like farabi have a center who's in Siena, in our tradition, certainly, Aveiro ways, even Russia and Iran, Saudi. So we do have a very strong tradition. It's called the calam tradition. And in fact, William Lane Craig, who's one of the grades.
arguably one of the great Christian philosophers of this age, has devoted his life almost to the promotion of a distinctly Muslim argument for the extensive existence of God, which is called the Kalam cosmological argument. And he wrote a book, even though he is a Christian, he's using Muslim theologians as the basis for his argument.
Yes, we've, we've had bill on and we've talked about that. So that is absolutely the case. Are there disputes about it? Is there any traditions within the Islamic civilization where some people argued against against the existence of Gods from some various types of philosophical or practical kinds of arguments? Well, I think you've always had atheists, and agnostics, that goes back to the ancient peoples. I mean, you have before Christ, you have lucifers, you have people like lucretius, who are materialist, they round now, Torah, is a great work in the Western tradition that looks at that. So within the Islamic tradition, you do have people that did not believe you had arguments for why
people shouldn't believe some of the great disbelievers debated openly like in Iraq, hanifa is famous for debating materialists. Now there's a great story of one of his debates where he showed up very late, and demand complained about him being late and he said, unfortunately, he was he was stopped at the river and there was no boat to get them across the Tigris. But fortunately, a tree fell and formed into a boat. So he was able to come across and be on top, be be there for the thing. And the man said, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. And he said, Well, your argument that all of this just appear naturally, without any maker, is as absurd to me as the idea that a
tree turned into a boat on its own. That's a great story. Yeah. I think that that that debate is healthy, even if you are a believer, irrespective of the religion to to engage in, in in thoughtful debate is certainly one aspect of, of a religious conviction. I think that's very, that's a very healthy, it's not the only thing that religious people do, obviously. But I think it contributes to a deeper understanding. Absolutely. I think tradition is strongest when it's engaged with counter arguments. I mean, that's how really how theology emerges out of these great world religions.
Due to people who are opposed to it, and so they had to make arguments for why they actually believe what they believe so reason in Revelation is very important in the Islamic tradition as well as the Jewish and the Christian in the great scholastic iterations of the Abrahamic faiths, right? In your essay, suffering as surrender, you address the trials and tribulations that we all come across in the world, we have a statement, which I want to highlight, says only God brings forth good from evil. So when I asked you, how does this line address the problem of evil, why the enormity of evil in a world that was created, supposedly by a God that is all good, and all powerful?
Yet, I mean, this is the great bugbear of,
of really the world, I mean, let alone religious traditions. And I think the the argument for atheism, obviously one of the strongest arguments is, is the argument of the existence of evil if if allows all good? How could there be this evil world from the perspective of Muslims?
We see that God is the Creator of the heavens in the earth, that this is his dominion, that anything he does in his dominion is his prerogative. And we don't in any way, God is, is is God. And, and, and we are who we are. The Koran says very clearly that God does not oppress people, but they themselves were oppressing themselves and also oppressing one another. So the way the Muslims scholars looked at it really was this idea that if you had, if I have a cloak, and I burned the cloak, you can say, why are you burning that perfectly good cloak. And and I say, well, it happens to be infected with a very dangerous, infectious disease. So
us judging why God does things is is is something that the Muslims have really shied away from. The Quran says, God will not be asked about what he does, but you will be asked about what you do. And so obviously, there are different theocracies. There's a theodicy that and by theodicy, I mean, the, you know, explanations of of evil, of why there is evil, and certainly, one of the most important ones is that the the existence is binary. And the Quran says in in the 36 chapter, that God has created everything in pairs. And so in order for good to be known, there has to be evil, that the Arab said, bill that he had, tomatoes that are shared by by opposites, things are known. And, and,
and also moral agency, because we have natural evil, like a tsunami. And then we have moral evil, which is where a moral agent does something if a lion eats a human being we can't impose on that lion, our moral sensibilities and say that it was evil, although people do do that, and and will kill the animal for doing something that by its nature, it does. But we can question our own actions. And and I think one of the greatest arguments for the existence of God is why we're offended by evil.
So in the Muslim tradition, our does the problem problem of evil as a problem, discuss, or it's an honor problem in the same way that you find in the Western tradition? I think the the Muslims really did not. Because they saw that this is God's dominion. And and he cannot you cannot be an oppressor, in your own dominion, if everything belongs to you. What you do with it is your own business. And so that there was this idea that
God has, the world is filled with, good and it's filled with difficulty, and it's filled with joy and sorrow. And these are all ways in which human beings grow. There's that and also, they can only be understood. If it's only this world, then absolutely, it doesn't make any sense. But if you have a day of judgment, where rights are wrong, there's a verse in the Quran that says level milliohm there is no oppression on this day, everybody will have their do those who were merciful in the world, mercy will be shown to them, those who are judgmental in the world, like Christ said, by the standard by which you judge you too shall be judged. So if you were somebody who always wanted
justice in the world, God will give you justice in the next world, but for those of us I'm much more interested in mercy like I want to see so
So mercy movement as opposed to a social justice movement, because I think a lot of what's happening in the world is actually are just desserts for being who we are. So I just wanted to add to that that one of the, in Arabic the word for evil, has a lot of different meanings. It's not so much evil per se, but like poverty is called shadow. That's the word. So anything that's deficient, is called evil. And one of the things that I think people ask, Where is God with all this, all these horrors in the world, but from a Muslim perspective, God has more right to ask us as our Creator, where are you? Because the Quran says had it not been for some people to constrain other people, the entire
world would be filled with evil. And so I think it's really important to remember, one of the things that Helen Keller said is that while the world is filled with evil, it's also filled with the overcoming of evil. And I think we often focus solely on the evil and and and, and use that as an excuse for not recognizing the extraordinary good that exists in the world.
But in the Muslim understanding, God at least created the capacity that there would be evil in the world. I know many Christians have difficulty with that concept. Yeah, it's actually one of the six fundamental beliefs, we have to believe in the measuring out of good and evil, that evil is part of the world.
Okay, let's go on to the Muslim understanding of how can we know God, your essay, the prayer of the oppressed, was a very long and thoughtful approach to our our own personal situation, obviously, God is in that it just does that concept of the prayer of the oppressive, does that lead to avenues that could lead to God?
What one of the quickest ways in which people begin to actually awaken to the possibility of God is when they're confronted with great pain and suffering. It opens up the heart There's, there's a tradition of our Prophet peace be upon him that says, that God is with the brokenhearted that very often, it's the breaking of the heart that allows the light of God to come into the heart. So I think it's very important to recognize that, from our perspective, suffering is redemptive suffering is something that can actually be an incredible catalyst for spiritual growth and change. One of the things, knowledge of God and the Islamic tradition, although we have a very profound scholastic
tradition, and we have great theologians, who used philosophy, to to make their arguments, but there's also a very,
I think, profound, simple belief that in here's in just the common Muslim, that's quite stunning. And I think you see this in other faith traditions where the faith is, is deeply rooted, the way that they deal with suffering, the way they deal with pain, the way they deal with loss in life is quite extraordinary. I think that becomes a very profound proof of the power of faith to enhance our lives and and to make our lives. You know, Mark said that faith was an opiate of the masses. But what what, what a lot of people they quote that, but what he actually said was that, that that faith was, it was the cry of, of a heart in an unjust world. It was a creed, a core of, of an unjust
world. And so in essence, what he was saying was religion numbs the pain of the world. Well, one of the things that Marxists and their minions and others have done is they've gotten rid of religion. And so now I would argue opium has become the opium of the masses, like people need opium to numb the pain of the world, whereas in the past, it was by turning to God, the one found solace, and we have great examples of that.
So we have the philosophical tradition, you now have the personal experiential, condition of needing God or seeing God through trials and tribulations. Let's go further. There is in Islam as in as in many of the traditions a mystical tradition, can religious and mystical experiences that tell us about God? For example, Islamic mystics? Do they know more about God than Islamic nun? mystics are, for that matter? Do they know more than analytical philosophers of religion? There's a great story of that of a great philosopher in Russia who met with a great mystic who was also a scholar and a philosopher, but he's primarily known for for his mysticism and
And his name was Evan Adobe. So a very we said to him is what we arrived that the same as what you arrive at? In other words, is our discursive knowledge of God the same as, as your experiential knowledge of God. And even out of these, it is reported to have said, Yes. And then even Russia smiled, and then it out of He said, No. But and so that, I think, you know, in the Islamic tradition, experiential knowledge of God is far more profound and discursive knowledge of God, one of the great scholars and mystics of Islam, if not de la, who is from Egypt. He said that,
that the attempt to prove the existence of God is from the perspective of the absence of God. And then he says, but when was God absent that he needed to be proved?
And so and so the idea is that there are people that genuinely experience God, one of in that same book, which is called the aphorisms, translated by Victor Danner, a good translation in English. One of the things that he says is, whoever knows the truth sees the truth in everything. And so, the Quran says, we created the heavens and the earth with truth. So there is goodness in everything. And that's why that knowledge of God which is a natural knowledge of God is much more powerful than the artificial knowledge that comes through this discursive thinking intuition. And this is what he Mamata. Azadi writes in his in his famous book of mental burnout, the the Savior from error, he
writes that, that he studied these different ways of knowing, like epistemology, and concluded that the most profound way was the way of direct experience what's called in Arabic, margaretha, or gnosis of God, it's a direct, immediate experience of God. And, and it's far more profound, especially for the person, obviously, that experiences that but to believe in it is is a type of experience. So those of us who might not have had the experience, we believe in those who have, and certainly the prophets are the foremost among them. For those of us who have not had such experiences and seek to know God, are we in an inferior position, then, I think in terms of
in terms of degree of understanding, absolutely. The problem is, obviously, is there a lot of charlatans that abused this type of knowledge for those who believe in it that haven't experienced it? And and and you find that too many of our religions and of our sex are filled with these type of people who claim to have this knowledge and use the one of the signs that they don't have the knowledge is that they make the claim that they have the knowledge or like that. That's our tradition. It's it's a, it's a big red flag, because the true Gnostics are people that the, you know, Mr. Hasani says that a tree that has great fruit,
the branches hang low. And and so there's a type of humility that comes with that, that
they don't see themselves as, as anything.
I've worried that if I if I had, which I've not had that type of mystical experience, I would, I would not believe it. I would think it's some neurochemical imbalance that I had or not enough sleep or some other explanation. So what is it, that and differentiate, we actually have, we have a whole science of that. So we have, we have a science in our in our tradition that deals with mystical experiences. So for instance, there's there's experienced that are outward terrestrial sensory experiences, then there's outward terrestrial meaning experiences, outward celestial meaning experiences, then there's inward terrestrial sensory experiences. Like, for instance, some certain
psychotropic drugs are very similar. Like I actually believe that I had a profound mystical experience on fentanyl. It wasn't illegal, it was actually given to me in the hospital. But I had an extraordinary experience and and William James writes about this in varieties of religious experience. So I think people drugs, unfortunately are one of the vehicles for opening a lot of people up to the
possibility because there's an experience that
there's more here than meets the eye, quite literally. And I think materialists try to reduce those things to neurological phenomena. But the but the reality of it is, is that consciousness itself is a spiritual experience. And people ask me, you know, I want to have a spiritual experience, my response to that is you are having a spiritual experience. It's just mediated through your, your sensory area. But this whole thing is mystical consciousness is mysticism. The fact that we can communicate and speak in language, the fact that I can say these words, I don't know where they're coming from. And you don't know where yours are coming from the fact that I'm speaking at this rapid
rate, and your mind is digesting all of these things, putting them together, you have all this past experience that enables you to even understand what I'm talking about these this this phenomena, which is happening constantly. It's it's miraculous. And it's just amazing, the people in this kind of perfunctory attitude towards existence, I feel sorry for them. From the standpoint of Islam do all or most religions, the ones we know, worship the same God?
Do they worship the same God? I think we're all taught it particularly in the Abrahamic religions, we're certainly talking about the same God. We, we some of us know people that, for instance, you might know somebody, and I know somebody, and we share that. But then we've had very different experiences of those people. So you begin to describe a person I said, that doesn't sound like the person I know. But it is the same person. And so I think in many ways, this is the way we look at God. We have different perspectives, and those preset perspectives color, our understanding of God, but the God that we're talking about is the Creator of the heavens and the earth Sustainer of all
things, animate and inanimate. And this is, this is the God of the even the Hindus, despite all of their,
their various manifestations and things. If you get into the Vedic scriptures, you'll find that they're really talking about a very similar understanding of what they call the, the Neo Guna, as opposed to the SIR governor, the attributive, or God, that the god the unknowable God. And so the God had the unknowable God had, I think, is the same for all of us. When we get into attributes, I think then there's going to be some differences. The argument is that when you look for that commonality, the lowest common denominator to be a bit pejorative, you wind up with almost nothing just kind of a ground of being and you've all meaning is that I think that's, that's excellent,
because there's a great section in the dust ask is the possessed, were shot tall, he's got this character shot off, who's uh, who's he was an atheist, and then he kind of has this he comes back to his faith in America of all places. And, and one of the things that he says is that every every nation has their own understanding of God. And if it wasn't for that, they wouldn't be a nation, they wouldn't, they wouldn't have their distinct character. And, and and i think it's a very profound insight for nation I would say, oma, which is the community, the ecclesia, the, the the song guy, the, you know, the minion, all those things that that bring people together that make them
unique and distinct. So I think there's a verse in the Quran, which is very interesting to me that it says, every people we have given them a way a shot away, and min Hajj in Hebrew, they call it a minhag. That they have their own particular way. And it says, we did this as a test. So via with one another in good. And so each community is going to see itself as as unique and it is in reality unique. But But the real, the real challenge is to prove yourself through virtue, and that's where the moral character of a community becomes so important, because by their fruits, you shall know them as Christ said.
The challenge to that, of course, is that that sounds good, but each of the major faiths even if we stick within the Abrahamic tradition,
there are over contradictions between them to fake religions that I'm more familiar with between Judaism and Christianity, obviously, the Incarnation and divinity of Jesus, the nature of the Trinity. These are
fundamental differences. And of course, Islam brings the Prophet into it. So how then do you deal with what on their surface appear to be outright contradictions? Well, I mean, first of all, we have to remember that the Jewish tradition recognizes both Islam and Christianity as no hides. So, within, within Judaism, we're actually we're no hitting people, we follow the, at least seven of the 10 commandments. But for and so the the Jews have never had a problem with the theology of the Muslims, and in fact, have have used it. I mean, they were influenced by the calam tradition, some of the great
Jewish philosophers like Moshe, in my own mind, it is, and others, both of us the Jews and the Christian do have a problem with the Trinity. So so we would both see the Trinity as a serious problem, we actually think it's, it's, it's an error. And it's very easy to see triads everywhere that we have a whole science called trigonometry, was just deals with three. So three is a very powerful number, in some ways, because it's, it's really the, you know, in Arabic tradition, numbers begin with two with two, not one, one is not considered a number in Arabic, and but two is the first number. And it's from the two that comes the third. So all of creation comes out of the binary. And
the male, the female coming together brings the third. And so and then we're trying, we have a rational, we have irascible and concupiscent soul. So it's easy to see how they fell into that mistake. But we believe it's a mistake. And and it doesn't mean that there's great not great truths in Christianity, there are their profound truths. But there are errors, there can be errors. The Christians have had since the beginning, a Unitarian tradition that has challenged the Trinity.
Let's talk about the attributes of God in the Islamic tradition. And in Islamic philosophy. I'm familiar with the 99 names of God
in the Islamic tradition, and I'm also familiar in the philosophy of religion, particularly from the Christian tradition, some very sophisticated analytic philosophy dealing with perfect being theology. What does it mean for God to be perfect omnipotence, the Omni God, omnipotence, all powerful misuse all knowing I'm Nipa residual.
Everywhere, Omni benevolent, all good. timelessness unchanging? How did the 99 names in Islam articulate with the Omni perfect being a God of Christianity? Well, we have two traditions. So we have a type of natural theology, which which is cut, which works largely with reason. And from that 13 attributes were identified by reason as necessary for God, seven of which are central.
And then the others come out of, of the of the seven, what are the some of those? Give me an example? Well, well, the first one is a CIT, that God has existence ouzoud. And that existence, his subs, he, he exists in and of himself, and nothing brought him into existence. So so he has absolute existence, absolute Being. In Arabic, the word is ouzoud, which is a beautiful word, because it means it means, you know, if I can coin a term find ability, it's in other words, God can be found. And because wadjet, the Arabic root is to find an end, but also it means to be ecstatic. Because when you thought when you discover something like the Eureka moment of Archimedes, coming out of the
bathtub, and apparently running down the streets of his village shouting, Eureka, because he, he discovered displacement.
So so the joy of finding God is the greatest joy. And it's a joy that children already live in. So I mean, very, very young children. So, but but we forget, you know, we leave the Garden of Eden, and we enter into a world that does have demonic and dark forces working to divert us from that, and so then it becomes an epic journey back to God. So, that's the first and then that he is, so he is living. In other words, God has a hype. Ham in Hebrew, same same same route,
that God has the life that God is all hearing.
That he's all seeing that he has power that he has will, and his will. And his power and his knowledge are the three attributes that bring everything into existence. He wills things into existence, and I'm using he Muslims do not have any gender.
association with God, God is neither male nor female. God has beautiful attributes. And he has. And he has majestic attributes is called dual Jelani when it comes. So in the revealed philosophy that the revealed theology, there are 121 names of God mentioned in the Quran, the 99 names were specific for, if somebody memorizes them and understands them, then the Prophet said that he will enter Paradise. So those specific names have a special place, but the names of God are infinite. And there we have a tradition that says, you know, by every name that you have taught us, or that you have withheld to your own knowledge. So God has infinite number of names, but we know the names, and
there are names that the Prophet gave us that aren't in the 99 names like Mannan and Han Nan. But they're beautiful names. The Jewish tradition, I think, has 72 names that they also honor, but they're beautiful. And I think St. Francis Assisi when he, after he met the Muslims, he came back and incorporated some of those practices by calling on the Divine Names because Muslims call on the Divine Name, he also raised the cross up to a towel.
I think you differentiated among the names between the 13 and then the seven is a subset of that that are the kind of adult well, like the seven which which has existence has life has power has will has knowledge and hearing and seeing, those are the seven. Okay? And from those, you get the that he is and we'll take care of them. The he is the speaker, so they differentiate between the attribute and the and and the if I could use it, I mean, it's not the right word, but the embodiment of the attribute the attribute that inheres in the essence, okay, so now then, what are the other key? That's the same the core category, then what are all the others, you know, 121 minus 13, or 99
name names like the beautiful the Prophet Mohammed Salah, he said, I'm sad, that God is beautiful, and he loves beauty. Okay? And, and also that he's majestic. So for instance, the joy of experiencing a sunset is from it's, it's, it's an apotheosis of God's beauty. It's, it's an agenda. It's a manifestation of that beauty. Whereas a tsunami is a manifestation of his July of His Majesty. And so the Muslims distinguish between the these two IDs, and they're not mutually exclusive. So God is just, and he's merciful. And so a lot of people don't know how to square justice and mercy. But God will show mercy to those who show mercy and he will be just with those
who did not show mercy.
Is it proper given those names to describe God as a person? And I asked, because in Christianity, there's a fairly heated dispute in whether God is a person and a person has personhood features, like awareness and intent and will?
Or is that an anthropomorphizing of what should be a very deep and impersonal ground of being? That's the tension in Christianity fell out in philosophy, religion and Christianity. However, I'm much more familiar with the Catholic tradition than than the Protestant and the Orthodox and, you know, personhood in in western Catholic metaphysics is is according to Jacques Maritain is is basically it's it's the immaterial nature, even the personhood, like, there's a distinction between the person and the individual. So the individual is what relates to their material nature, and to their their the accidents that have been acquired in the world, from their background and their
experiences, whereas the person is something that transcends that it gets to the core essence of the human being. And so the idea in western Christianity that God is a person, in other words, that that that that is how we're able to communicate with God. In the Islamic tradition. We don't use that term person. But there is a verse in the Quran where Jesus says, God, you know, what is in my
I saw myself but I don't know what's in yourself. And so there is an idea that we are created in this metaphysical image, the imago dei II enables us to know God so even though the the Muslims use the word Sora the form because what is the only way we can know things metaphysically the only way we can know things is through their form. So I know a dog because of the form that the dog presents itself with. And I'm able to abstract the universal out of that. God is formless and so in that way, God is unknowable. So there, this is the via negativa. This is the Arabic it's it's called buddy to sell BIA, it's, it's the the path, that we know God through what God is not. And this is why the
most fundamental verse about God, which is in the 42nd chapter of the Quran, is the 11. First it says, laser committed, he shaped There is nothing like God. And yet, and then it says, and yet
God hears all and sees all so the only way we can know what, all hearing and all seeing is, is because God has made us creatures that see and hear, he's given us will, he's given us life, he's given us speech. So the Quran says, in your own souls, don't you see? In other words, don't you see this manifestation of these divine attributes in yourself? You are not God, but it's through yourself, you know, God, and this is why we have it's an apocryphal tradition, but it's quoted often, that whoever knows his self knows, knows his Lord. How does that articulate with in Western philosophy of religion the apophatic, or can only know God and the negative and the CATA phatak
tradition where you can no affirmative characteristics of God? Well, this is in our tradition is called tisby, and Tansy
loosely imminence and transcendence. It I don't, they don't have identical correspondences. But what I would say is that,
even though I have hearing, any number over infinity is zero. So I in that way, I can know something of what that means that God hears, and God sees and Gods alive, but at the same time, because it's, it's a thing over infinity, it's canceled out. And so in that way, we can know but at the same time, we can't know.
In Islam, what's the relationship between the Creator God, and the created the the world as we know it? Well, the most the most important that is that all of creation is in submission to God, except for the human being. And, and, and, and the spirit world, like what our de mon, and in Greek, they would call them the de mon, you know, these these creatures that can their spirit creatures, and they're either good, or they're bad.
But we, the two of us have been given freewill. And, and so the human being has, as God has given us the ability to choose, unlike everything else in creation, everything according to the Quran, everything is praising God. For instance, in our tradition, the two times that are very important to have special time set aside for praise are the dawn period, and the end the sunset period, well, you'll notice that a lot of creation is doing that to see birds literally gather and start chirping and singing. Now you can have evolutionary biologists explain that, but from our perspective, they're actually praising God. And so we do that consciously. They do it.
They do it simply by their nature. And so this is what we're called to do, are called to enter in to a covenant with God, freely and wholeheartedly and to worship God and we worship God, by by one, by recognizing first and foremost that God is our Creator. And so that is saying that there is nothing worthy of worship, except the one true living God, which is that ilaha illAllah there is no God, except the one true God, and that God communicates to his creation, through revelation and through inspiration. And so, we, the prophets have revelation, and the saints have inspiration, and and and ordinary people can have it the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said that that
True dream is 146 of prophecy. So even common people, even people that aren't believers have access to true dreams like the Pharaoh. In, in the story of Joseph.
How does this God intervene in human affairs, whether in individual lives or in the, in the flow of history? Well, I think you have to open yourself. First of all,
the Koran says, Every day God is on a new affair. And so everything that we see the flower blooming, the fruit ripening, we see this everything is just God is doing all of this. And so it's opening up to that relationship. It's literally open your heart to the light of God, which is everywhere. And and fanaticism is being blinded by that light. And true spirituality is being guided by that light. And so finding that balance, one of the things about the world is the vanity fair, you know, this idea of pilgrims progress, you come into the world, and then there's this Vanity Fair, that literally can sideline you and preoccupy you until death shows up. And when death comes, the Quran
says you can't put it off. And so it's really a preparation for the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him taught us to reflect on death every single day. He said to wake up in the morning, not expecting to reach the evening, and to go to sleep at night, not expecting to wake up in the morning, Muslims are actually told to live like that. So that so that they really take advantage of the preciousness and the gift of life, it's something to really be appreciated. And and and it also brings you into the moment we have a saying in our tradition, that, that, you know that Sophie ever walked he that that the true mistake is in the moment, they're present, the end. And so getting into this presence,
and being aware of the presence of God is is really at the at the fundamental core of Islamic practice, which is why we we pray five times a day we go back, the baseline is five times a day, many people pray a lot more than that. But the baseline is five times a day.
The there's an argument in, in particularly in Christian philosophy of religion, about God is the Creator and God as the Sustainer. There are some views that God created the universe of all that exists all reality, but is independent from it.
Another view is that God is so intimately associated with the the creation that if God
in some way stopped willing, the creation on a continuous basis, the creation would disappear. Right? It does Islam deal with that kind of a differentiation between God the Creator, as an event and God the Sustainer on a continuing basis.
The Quran is very clear that every moment God is sustaining it, and if God turned away from creation for one iota, the entire thing would disappear. So there's a verse in the Quran that says that we will show them our signs in themselves and on the horizon. The horizon is the meeting place of the heaven and the earth, the self is the meeting place that the heaven and the earth, we are soul and body that's come together. And so God will show us on on the in ourselves and on the horizon, in that meeting place of heaven and earth, until it becomes clear that this is the truth. And then it says, does not surprise that God is witnessing all things. So that witnessing is what enables
existence to take place. It's the divine providential
witnessing of creation that sustains it. And if that was removed, for an instant, it would be gone though the most important verse in the Quran is called the, it's in the second chapter. It's called the the master verse, it says, it begins Allahu Allah Illa Illa. Who are you? God, there is no God, but that one true God, that the living and the Sustainer. And so God is sustaining in every instant, and becoming aware of that is really becoming aware of the presence of God in your life.
Somebody once asked me, you know, he asked me about Islam, and I told him, Well, it's a type of really, it's just a gratitude for for the gifts that God gives us. And he said to me, I suppose God's given me some gifts in my life. And I just looked at him. I said, Who do you think's sustaining your temperature right now at 98.6? You know, it's like, that's God. You know, and when he makes you sick, he does it for wisdom. And when he gives you health, he does it. So in sickness we're patient and in
Health, we're grateful. And that's why these are the two great attributes in the Quran of the believer, patience and tribulation, gratitude and blessings.
I assume in Islam, it does not make sense to ask the question that is often done in philosophy of religion in the in the Judeo Christian tradition and in that when God intervenes, assume there's a God and assume that God does intervene you believe that? Does God violate the laws of nature, the laws of physics, when God intervenes, whether in our minds or intervenes with so called miracles or intervenes in history? Is there a violation of physical law? I said, that's a meaningless question. Yeah, we wouldn't use the word violation, we would use, we would say that, that, first of all, quantum physics theoretically violates all these Newtonian laws. And so so the Prophet Muhammad
said, that the unseen world to the scene world,
the ratio of this scene world, which is called the monk in the Quran,
in relation to the mannequin, he said, is like an iron ring, in the midst of a vast desert.
So what's unseen is so much greater than what seems so we make these assumptions about laws. But most of these are dialectical. They're not they're not demonstrative. Most laws are dialectical, they're not the Master of Laws. In fact, we have to, we have to use leisure domain in our mathematics to even measure motion. So So we take curves, and we turn them into these infinitely small straight lines in order to measure it's all approximations. So So when you look at at the world, your assumptions about what our laws, I mean, there are there are observable laws, but are they are they are they the ultimate truth? No, they're there, they're saving the appearances
generally, in traditional logic, they would be seen as dialectical and not of the diptych or or demonstrative. In Islam, what do we say about the salvation process or eschatological speculations about the future of Earth? These are obviously prevalent in Judeo Christian tradition, how are they in Islam?
I think the most important thing is that we all share. I know there's a debate in the in the Jewish tradition, but generally we share this idea of a day of judgment, that there's a day when the debts fall due, there's no free lunches, they say, so your life is going to be taken to account and we will have to answer for what we did here. And and so we believe in in a day of judgment, we the Quran says that just says the universe was spread out God will the Big Crunch at the end, it says God will roll it up like a scroll at the end. So the universe will go back into that singularity point that it began from, and all of the souls are going to be raised up and and we will meet on a
plane and then we will go through a reckoning and there will be intercession. There'll be prophets interceding for their peoples. We believe that the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him has this great intercession. Christ will intercede, all of the prophets will have their intercessions and then then the judgment comes so the Quran says there's a group destined for the fire and there's a group destined for for paradise. And and so you know this it's interesting because you find this in so many religious traditions.
And and it's hard to believe that this simply came out of the imaginations of people. So this has been terrific. I've learned about the God of Islam, I've always wanted to learn more. That's one of the the themes and the week motifs of closer to truth that we want to explore the different traditions and understand them. And I really thank you for our conversation, I look forward to do it more in depth at some future time, where we can address these subjects even further. But thank you for participating in the global philosophy of religion project, in which we hope to bring a mutual understandings from different traditions.
Thank you very much, Robert for having me on. I appreciate it. You're stimulating questions, and I love the name closer to truth. We one of the names of God in that 99 names is L Huck the truth. So we believe in that truth. So hopefully we'll all get closer to truth with a capital T. Thank you.