How do we know which religion is true when they all contradict each other in some respects? Can there be multiple truths?

According to the Islamic scholar, Imam Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, in his introduction to Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari’s book Islam and Religious Pluralism (n.d.), pluralism can be delineated into two meanings: “Social Pluralism” in the sociological sense means a society which consists of a multi-faith or multi-cultural mosaic. “Religious pluralism” in the theological sense means a concept in which all religions are considered to be equally true and valid (Mutahhari & Rizvi, n.d.).

God has brought down diversity and plurality on this Earth – whether that be in the form of languages, gender, culture, tribes, and even religion. In every aspect of the Creation of this world there is purpose to it – thus, the diversity and plurality of life is a purposeful Divine action:

“If God had so willed, He would have made you one community”

Al-Ma’idah verse 48, p. 116

Thus, on a socio-political level, pluralism can work, and is in fact encouraged by God. Socio-political pluralism exists in societies, and can, and does within Muslim-dominated societies. Now, let us turn to the discussion and validity of theological pluralism.

The most famous proponent of religious pluralism is John Hick, whose pluralistic hypothesis claims that each religion in its own way represents an authentic revelation of the Divine world and a fully authentic means of salvation. He believes that all religions are culturally conditioned responses to the same ultimate reality; and, therefore, are equally valid, and salvation is possible through any of them (Mutahhari & Rizvi, n.d.). 

Hick uses the famous story of the blind men and the elephant of the Hindu mystics to illustrate his point.

An elephant was brought to a group of blind men who had never encountered such an animal before. One felt a leg and reported that an elephant is a great living pillar. Another felt the trunk and reported that an elephant is a great snake. Another felt a tusk and reported that an elephant is like a sharp ploughshare, and so on. And then they all quarrelled together, each claiming that his own account was the truth and therefore all the others false. In fact, of course, they were all true, but each referring only to one aspect of the total reality and all expressed in very imperfect analogies. (Mutahhari & Rizvi, n.d.)

According to Imam Rizvi, in using the story of the elephant, Hicks has assumed all religious people to be blind and that they lack the ability to know the complete truth (Mutahhari & Rizvi, n.d.). It is at this point in the discussion that we should point out that the scholars of the school of Ahlul Bayt (as) make a distinction between the ability to know the complete truth. The difference lies between the incapable (qāsir) and the negligent (muqassir) who have misplaced convictions despite having access to Islām (Mutahhari & Rizvi, n.d.).

In answer to the blind spot of Hick’s utilization of the story of the elephant and the blind men, Imam Rizvi points to the moral presented by the poet Jalal-ud-Deen Rumi: 

Some Hindus have an elephant to show. 

No one here has ever seen an elephant. 
They bring it at night to a dark room. 

One by one, we go in the dark and come out saying how we experience the animal. 
One of us happens to touch the trunk. 
“A water-pipe kind of creature.”

Another, the ear. 
“A very strong, always moving back and forth, fan-animal.”

Another, the leg. 
“I find it still, like a column on a temple.” 

Another touches the curved back. 
“A leathery throne.” 

Another, the cleverest, feels the tusk. 
“A rounded sword made of porcelain.” 
He’s proud of his description. 

Each of us touches one place and understands the whole in that way. 
The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark are how the senses explore the reality of the elephant. 

If each of us held a candle there, and if we went in together, we could see it. (Mutahhari & Rizvi, n.d.)

These men were reaching out in the darkness and, therefore, they developed inaccurate descriptions of the elephant; if they had used a candle, they would have seen the truth! In Islām, God does not let a seeker for truth grope in darkness:

“Allāh is the Protector of the believers, He brings them forth from the shadows into the light,”

Al-Baqarah verse 257, p. 43

What is understood here is that God sent down Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for a reason – for humans to submit to Islam and the will of God as Muslims (literal translation being “one who submits”), as part of the divine plan in the journey to perfection. What makes Muslims different from the believers of other monotheistic religions is that: 

“We believe in Allāh, and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Ibrāhīm, Ismā’īl, Ishāq, Ya`qūb, and the Tribes; and what was given to Mūsā and `Isā and to the prophets from their Lord. We do not make any distinction between (the claim of) any of them, and to Him do we submit. And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter, he shall be one of the losers.”

Ale-Imran verses 84-85, p. 61

This passage clearly explains basic beliefs of God’s religion: Among those basic beliefs is the requirement to believe in “what has been revealed to us” (e.g., the Qur’ān that has been revealed to Muslims). “Islam – submission” only follows when one accepts all the prophets and does not differentiate in the truth of any one of them, including Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). (Mutahhari & Rizvi, n.d.). 

Imam Rizvi (n.d) further posits, if Judaism and Christianity are concurrently valid paths of submission to God, then why did the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) work so hard to convey his message even to the Jews and the Christians? If they were already on the Right Path, then why did the Prophet (PBUH) feel it important to invite them to Islām?

That being said, it should be noted that there are degrees to salvation and perdition. Whilst being Muslim and submitting to the Will of Allah certainly sets you with the right intention as willed by God, it does not guarantee that you will reach the highest level of heaven or go directly to heaven. Likewise, being a Christian or a Jew does not preclude you from salvation and entering heaven. Everyone will have their own journey on the path towards salvation and rectifying their mistakes in the hereafter. 

Ayatullah Mutahhari remarks that, “Felicity and perdition are in accordance with actual and creational conditions, not conventional and man-made conditions,” (Mutahhari & Rizvi, n.d.). Therefore, the conditions in which an atheist or polytheist will or will not reach heaven are based on the conditions and signs placed in their lives, for which they can choose either to accept or reject. However, the mercy and compassion of God cannot be diminished in any of our judgements, as He is the All-Knowing and All-Aware. 


Al-Baqarah. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 43).

Ale-Imran. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 61).

Al-Ma’idah. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 116).

Muṭahharī M., & Rizvi, S. M. (n.d.). Islam and religious pluralism. Retrieved from

If God is Omniscient, then how is it possible that we have free will at all?

One argument commonly used against free will is that if God is All-Knowing and already knows about the future, then everything must be predetermined. It is thought that God’s Omniscience contradicts free will. Either humans do not have free will or God is not All-Knowing. 

The problem in this argument is that it equates God’s Knowledge of the future with God causing the future to occur. Just because God knows what will happen in the future does not mean that He is making it happen. God’s Knowledge is independent of what actually takes place

A simple example can be used to explain this concept.

Assume someone is holding a pencil in the air, about a foot off the ground. We know that if the person lets go of the pencil, the pencil will fall to the ground due to the force of gravity. Let us assume the person told us he will let go of the pencil at a particular moment in time. Now we know that not only will he let go of the pencil, but when he does let go, the pencil will fall to the ground. 

Another example would be that of a teacher who after teaching her students for an entire year knows which one will pass and fail – but the teacher still gives the exam so that the students make their own destinies. However, her knowledge of who will pass and fail does not determine who will pass and fail

Our knowledge of what will happen when he releases his grip on the pencil does not mean we are causing the pencil to fall. Rather it is the person’s freedom of choice that causes him to let go of the pencil, which in turn causes the force of gravity to let the pencil drop. 

Similarly, human beings are like the person holding the pencil. We have the freedom to make the choices we make. God is aware of what our choices will be along with their outcomes, not because He is making them happen, but simply because He is All-Knowing. 



Leghaei, M. (n.d.). Einstein’s paradox: God’s omniscience and man’s freewill. Retrieved from

How do we know there is a God?

  1. Cosmological Argument

One of the oldest arguments for the existence of God is the Cosmological Argument, which is also called the First Cause Argument. The premise of this argument is that everything that begins to exist has a cause.  

The universe began to exist, therefore the universe must have a cause that exists independently of itself. Since time, matter, and energy only exist within the universe, a cause that exists outside of the universe must therefore be timeless and spaceless.  

The Cosmological Argument can be understood as follows:

Premise 1: In this world there are beings who are needy—what does it mean to be needy?
Premise 2: It is impossible for beings who are needy to create themselves—why?

→ Therefore, there must be a being who is Needless who created them.

A question that may arise is, “If God created everything, then who created God?” The answer to the chain of cause-and-effect stops at an essential cause which is not dependent upon any other cause.  

When one asks why something is salty, the answer is because of the salt in it. But if we ask why salt is salty, there is no answer to that. Salt is salty. That is its essence. It does not need a cause to make it salty. The chain of saltiness of all products ends at salt itself.   

Similarly, one does not ask why water is wet, or why sugar is sweet – these are properties that are essential to the objects they belong to. 

Scientific advances have postulated the Big Bang as the origin of the universe – a densely collapsed ball that expanded to produce time, matter, and energy. The cause of the Big Bang cannot be determined using physical sciences as there were no physics at that instantwhatever produced the universe was outside of time, matter, energy and space. Whatever produced it must also have been infinitely powerful in order to have wielded such an explosion. In Islam, the characteristics of this non-physical cause are ascribed to God. 

  1. Divine Nature Argument

The Divine Nature Argument is that humans have natural inclinations towards absolute forms such as beauty, love, justice, happiness and perfection. These inclinations are unendingthey are not satisfied by finite means. Yet inclinations must have a corresponding object. If one has an inclination for something, that presupposes that the object they are inclined towards exists.  

For example, having ears presupposes that sound exists, and having eyes presupposes that light exists. Thus, there must be a corresponding reality that is the object of human inclination towards perfection. There must be an absolute source of love, justice, and happiness: God.  

“I was born with ears with which I can hear” → therefore sound exists

In Islam this instinctive inclination towards perfection and virtue is known as “fitrah.” All human beings possess a fitrah that acts as an internal compass pointing towards God and drawing one to Him. This feeling of yearning for perfection, similar to the feelings such as hunger and thirst, are indicative of real human needs and inclines one toward reaching the object of such needs. The fact that one’s fitrah points towards God and His absolute perfection suggests that humans have a need to overcome their own imperfections by emulating the absolute forms of beauty, love, justice, happiness and perfectionthe attributes of God.

  1. The Argument from Beauty

A third argument for the existence of God is known as the Argument from Beauty. The argument is an observation from the sciences that the laws of mathematics and physics are elegant rather than convoluted, which supposes that they were designed rather than having come about randomly. Similarly, the beauty of nature and the organized system of life and the universe suggest the existence of an intelligent designer. 

Interestingly, nature is often modelled extremely well by mathematics though it did not need to be that way. Scientists have commented that it is oddly convenient that nature exhibits so many patterns and is often described by succinct mathematical solutions rather than convoluted ones. As put by the physicist Berndt Matthias:

“If you see a formula in the Physical Review that extends over a quarter of a page, forget it. It’s wrong. Nature isn’t that complicated,”

J. Fripp, M. Fripp, D. Fripp, 2000, p. 8

The wonder in how mathematically beautiful nature is suggests that it was designed by something, something that is outside of nature itself. This argument couples with aspects of the Cosmological Argument to posit God as an intelligent designer that caused the creation of the universe.


Craig, W. L. “Initial arguments: A defense of the cosmological argument for the existence of God.” Craig-Smith Debate: Craig’s Initial Arguments, docs /craig -smith1.html.

Fripp, J., Fripp, M., & Fripp, D. (2000). Speaking of science: Notable quotes on science, engineering, and the environment. Eagle Rock, VA: LLH Technology Pub. 

Shomali, M. H. (2013, August). Islamic Studies Intensive Course. Vaughan.

Wigner, E. P. (1960). The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences. Richard Courant lecture in mathematical sciences delivered at New York University, May 11, 1959. Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics, 13(1), 1–14. doi: 10.1002/cpa.3160130102

Do we have total free will or is everything predestined?

If everything was predestined by God, it would mean humans have absolutely no control over their actions. God would then not be able to judge humans for their actions as they were not the ones who caused them to occur. If He did judge them, He would be considered unjust, which is impossible. It cannot be said that He cannot judge humans, because if that was the case then no reward or punishment can be attributed to them. At the same time, there would be no sense of responsibility for their actions in this world. An oppressor, for example, would simply blame God for his wrongdoing. If everything was predestined life would have no purpose, the hereafter would be unnecessary, and morality would not even need to be a topic of discussion. 

If everything is not predestined, it could be argued that humans have the totality of free will. If one has the totality of free will, everything one does is entirely in their control. Therefore, the day one is born, the family one is born into, the day one will die…etc. would all be in our control as well. However, this is not possible. God is the most Powerful and nothing can go beyond His control, even our free will. As much as God does not fully predetermine our future, our free will has its limitations as well. Therefore, if there is neither totality of free will, nor complete predestination, there must be something in between.  

In Islam there is a balance between free will and predestination. It is important to understand that there is no contradiction between these two. We, as the servants of God accept our responsibility over our actions, while remembering that He is the Ruler over the universe.  

In his book, Justice of God (2019), Ayatullah Naser Makarem Shirazi explains this concept with an example of an electric train.

Imagine there is an electric train, which has an electric cable passing along the side of the train. If the electric cable were to stop conducting electricity, or disconnect from the train for even a second, the train would stop moving. The driver, however, can direct the train and change its speed as he wishes. But if the electricity stops, even the freedom of the driver to maneuver the train stops.  

In this example we see that the driver is free to maneuver the train as he wishes. However, his freedom is limited by the train’s dependence on the electric cable. Similarly, human beings have the freedom to make decisions, but everything in the end is limited by our dependence on God. If we were to be disconnected from God for even a moment, we would have no ability to do anything, because God is the overall Ruler of the universe who through His Mercy has given us the free will.   


Makarem Shirazi, N. (2019, December 14). Justice of God. Retrieved from

If God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Just, why is there evil in the world?

The argument for the problem of evil assumes that God does not have any reason as to why evil and suffering should be permitted. This assumption is a misinterpretation of the Islamic concept of God. Although God is good, and All-Powerful, He has many other attributes as well. For example, one of His attributes is that He is the Wise. Since the very nature of God is based on wisdom, it follows that whatever He wills is in line with wisdom. The point here is that just because wisdom cannot be understood, it does not mean that is not wisdom. Such reasoning is manifested during early childhood. Many children are disciplined by their parents for something they would like to do. For example, a child may want candy which their parents are refusing to give. The child may have a tantrum because they feel their parents are unfair in not letting them enjoy the candy. However, they do not realize the wisdom behind them not being allowed to consume it at that time.

The justice of God is not defined by what humans think is good and evil. Rather what makes Him Just is that He has given everyone the resources they need to reach their own potential. Had He given everyone the same things, it would be considered injustice as not everyone is the same and everyone has different capacities in different areas. He has provided each individual with what they need so that everyone can reach their full potential, and this is considered to be justice. 

Given the wisdom and justice of God, these are some possible reasons for why what is considered evil may exist. 

Evil is relative 

What is defined as evil is relative to one’s understanding of the world and is misunderstood due to the limitations of knowledge. When one thinks of evil it is in relation to something else.

For example, being bitten by a venomous snake has been considered dangerous. Then why would God create a harmful creature? Upon discovery, people realized that the venom snakes produce can actually be very useful in the production of certain medications.  From the perspective of the snake, the venom is a self-defence mechanism and vital for its survival. Considering this information, venomous snakes no longer seem “evil.” 

Similarly, everything observed in the world is relative to each individual perspective, limited to that person’s knowledge and experiences. This is a limitation each person has, that one could not possibly consider every angle of a situation or circumstance. Therefore one simply cannot judge something to be evil, doing so would be contrary to logic.   

Trials in life are perceived as either good or bad. Someone may consider poverty to be a hardship but may also consider some positives in this situation. A financially troubled individual may find that they are more appreciative of life when they have less wealth than they may have been if they were more wealthy. Pondering upon one’s difficult life experiences, one may find positive outcomes to that situationbe it in the situation itself or an outcome of it later on. Subsequently, one may realize that what seems evil on the outside is not necessarily bad.  

Mulla Sadra describes this idea with the following quote:

“…like fire whose perfection lies in the faculty of [producing] heat and burning and by means of which great advantages and plentiful benefits are obtained, but it happens sometimes for it to burn the house of a holy man or the garment of a prophet.

And like water whose perfection lies in [its] coldness and moisture, but it happens for it sometimes to drown the [inhabitants of] towns and to kill God’s servants. And so is the earth, the air, the rain, the cloud, etc.”

Sadra, 1981, p. 69

Misfortune as a wake-up call

The misfortune people are faced with can become a reawakening, a warning for them. For example, if a loved one were involved in an accident or a health problem, one is reminded of the importance of family and relationships. Without facing difficulties in life, one would forget the greater priorities, ultimately God and the responsibilities towards Him.  

Evil cannot be attributed to God

The evil in the world is attributed to humans and not to God. Issues such as poverty, murder, assault, etc. are unrelated to God’s system of creation and justice of this world. God did not create these things to be inherently part of this system. Rather, the imbalance in societal systems has caused these issues to arise. Human beings have the free will to act and unfortunately these actions can sometimes bring about harmful consequences.   

Evil is non-existent

Evil is not an entity existing on its own. Rather, evil is merely the lack of good. Whenever one sees existence, non-existence is automatically implied. Hence, if good is in existence, then evil (non-existence) is as well. For example if poverty is considered evil and wealth is considered good, then poverty is simply the lack of wealth.   

Given the above information, evil is essentially a lack of goodness and can be based on individual perceptions. God did not create evil or place His servants in “evil situations,” rather, He placed them in situations from which they can thrive and grow, in which they can help others, seek their own potential, and ultimately form a stronger connection with Him. 


Lārī Mujtabá Mūsavī. (2000). God and His attributes: lessons on Islamic doctrine. (H. Algar, Trans.). Islamic Education Center. Retrieved from

Makarim Shirazi, N. (n.d.). Fifty lessons on principles of belief for youth.

What are some of the objections to Pascal’s wager versus Theory of defending against possible harm?

Pascal’s Wager

Is Pascal’s wager a common argument for believing in religion or believing in God?

One of the most common arguments for believing in religion is known as Pascal’s wager or Pascal’s bet. This wager can be simplified in the following manner:  

If you believe in God and the hereafter, and it does exist, then you gain everything.
If you believe in God and the hereafter, and it does not exist, then you lose nothing. 
Therefore, it is better to bet that it does exist 

Theory of Defending Against Possible Harm

Before Pascal, this idea was originally introduced by Imam Ali, who is quoted in Mizānu ‘l-A`māl by Abu Hamid al-Ghazāli (1328, n.p.) to have said:

“The astrologer and the physician both say, `The dead will never be resurrected.’ I say: `Keep your counsel. If your idea is correct, I will come to no harm; but if my belief is correct, then you will surely lose.’” 

Imam Ali’s argument in theistic discussions is called: to defend against possible harm. Ayatullah Nasir Makarem Shirazi (n.d.) in his book Fifty Lessons on Principles of Belief for Youth talks about the bond between things of benefit and of harm to one’s self. For example when one is at crossroads, one would not choose the path upon which there is a great danger, nor would one traverse any of the paths without investigating them.  

Likewise, there existed men of great character, who were preaching about the existence of God; the existence of heaven and hell, eternal punishment for those who reject. Wisdom states that one should investigate to make sure they are going to do that which brings them benefit. 

Or likewise, there are many religions that give their own direction. Wisdom states that one should investigate to make sure they are going to do that which benefits them most. 

Common objections in response to this wager are as follows:

  1. Which god should one bet on (i.e. the god of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.)? How does one know that they are betting on the correct god? If this is unknown, does it even matter if one believes or not? 

Such an argument does not discount the validity of the wager, rather it brings about a need to identify the correct god. If the ‘correct god’ is identified, then one can make the best wager possible.  

  • A follow up question would be, how can one discern which god an individual should bet on?

By logically thinking about the various deities proposed by religions and their qualities, then narrowing down to the correct religion and its god. 

One can begin by narrowing down to the categories of polytheistic or monotheistic belief systems. A train of thought that can be used to determine the correct choice between polytheistic and monotheistic beliefs system is to note the unity in all creation (one genetic code for all beings, the interdependence of all creatures, etc.). The similarity and harmony between the creation is indicative of it being created from one source (i.e. only one source could be responsible for the repetition that is seen in all life). And if only one being was the creator, it begs the question of the purpose of the partner that may be ascribed to god. And if there is no purpose to gods in addition to the creator, logically there should only be one god, the creator. Therefore, only monotheistic religions should be considered. This is one of multiple ways that the conclusion of choosing a monotheistic religions can be derived

  1. Individuals do not always believe in things that benefit them and thus one is not necessarily sincere in believing in God. Without sincerity is one properly believing? If not, then why follow Pascal’s wager? 

Attaining sincerity in belief is a work in process. This does not belie the truth of the wager. In fact, by accepting Pascal’s wager and discerning ‘which god to bet on?’, an individual moves closer to sincerely believing in God.  

Islam’s three levels of submission

In Islam, there are three levels of submission: submission of the body, intellect, and heart.  

In the first level, one submits because they feel that they may lose. In accepting Pascal’s wager, one believes out of fear that they may face harm in the afterlife, thus they complete the submission of the body.  

In deciding on which god to choose and logically concluding on the god of Islam, one fulfills the submission of the mind. Thus two of the three steps of submission are completed in this way.  

Submission of the heart is attained by submitting to god with your entire being without any doubts or rebellion against God. It is working towards building certainty in faith that can help attain the submission of the heart.  

Rather than discount the entire bet because of one’s lack of sincerity, one should work towards attaining sincerity in religion by submitting to God with body, mind and heart.  


Ghazālī, A. Ḥ. (1328). Mīzān al-amal. Cairo.

Jaffer, J. H. (2017). Recorded lecture #2 – Theology 101. Toronto.

Makarim Shirazi, N. (n.d.). Fifty lessons on principles of belief for youth.

Muṭahhari. M. (2013). Islam and religious pluralism. (Ḥasan, S. S. A., Trans.). Stanmore, Middlesex, United Kingdom: The World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri.

Rizvi, S. S. A. (1975). Need for religion. Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania: Bilal Muslim Mission.

Can God create another like Himself? Can God cause Himself to cease to exist?

Since these questions are paradoxes, the above answer would apply to them as well. They are fallacious questions and cannot have a logically sound answer. However, below is an argument for why a second God cannot be created, and why God cannot cease to exist. 

One of the essential qualities of God is that He is Eternal/Infinitehas no beginning or end. So the question of “creating” another God defies the definition of God itself and therefore it is not valid. 

Both the above cases show how allowing one of these scenarios to occur would imply that God is not All-Powerful. God not being able to cease to exist, or be duplicated, is hence an indication of His infinite power.  


Stamos, D. (2017, January). Philosphy of religion. Toronto.

If God is All-Powerful, can He create a stone that is too heavy for Him to lift (stone paradox)?

This question is often used by atheists to put the theist in a bind. By answering yes, the theist is saying that God is not All-Powerful, and by saying no he is admitting that He is limited. Both these responses are false.  

Imam Ali was once asked a similar question. He was asked, if it is possible for God to place something the size of the earth into something the size of an egg, without increasing the size of the egg, or decreasing the size of the earth. Imam responded by saying that God cannot be described by means of limits (Kitab Al-Tawhid). When Nabi Isa was asked this same question, he responded by saying that God cannot be described with ‘incapacity’ or ‘inadequacy’ (Mizan Al-Hikmah).This means that you cannot say that God cannot do this, because that would imply Him to be incapable, but this will also not occur because it goes against the laws of the universe that God has created. 

Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli (2002) says: 

A rationally impossible thing cannot have an external extension. Therefore, when Imam Ja‛far al-Sādiq, peace be with him, was asked about God’s power to place the world in an egg-shell, he responded, ‘Although God’s power is infinite, nevertheless, what you are asking is a nothing.’

‘Nothing,’ like non-existence or conjunction of contradictories, is a concept, which does not narrate an external extension. Therefore, because it is nothing, it is not subject to the infinite power of God. In other words; Allah SWT can do everything; but an impossibility is not a thing.

Amuli, 2002, p. 192.

There is a realm of logical possibility and impossibility. God can do everything within the realm of whatever is logically possible. What is impossible, cannot be done. Placing the earth in the egg without shrinking or enlarging the other is logically impossible. 

A visual example: Power in Form

The following example can be used to explain this idea further 

If one throws a flat piece of paper, it will not land very far: 
However, if one takes the same flat piece of paper, and crumples it up before throwing it, it will land much further: 
In this example, the paper thrown was the exact same each time, but the form in which it was thrown was different, resulting in a different outcome. In the first scenario it did not mean that the person throwing the paper did not have the physical strength to throw it far, rather it was the paper that could not reach that far. The ‘fault’ in this case, lies in the paper, not in the person throwing it. 

Similarly, God has the power to do as He wishes. However, the objects involved are too weak to accept the power of God. In the case of the stone paradox, the problem lies in the stone as the stone does not have the capacity to absorb the power it would require for it to have so much weight that God cannot lift it. Another outlook, or a rhetorical response, would be: whatever God creates, He has power over it because it is His creation, and therefore He can lift it. 

Hence, it can be concluded that this question is fallacious. The fallacy in this question is called the either-or fallacy where the question presents possible choices, all of which are false. The correct choice is not presented amongst all the options, forcing the individual to always pick the wrong answer. 


Amuli, A. J. (2002). A commentary on theistic arguments. Qum: Ansariyan Publications.

Cahn, S. M. (2013). Reason and religions: philosophy looks at the worlds religious beliefs. Boston, MA: Wadsworth / Cengage Learning.

Hadith Database Project. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2020, from 

Kamanpoori, S. A. H. (2017). Muharram Jaffari Islamic Youth Workshop. Vaughan.

Is there truth to Evolutionary Theory?

The question of evolution in relation to Islam is one that is engaged with on a spectrum of theories and debates. As it stands, there is no single understanding of the relations between Islam and Evolutionary theories. It is helpful to begin by understanding the different concepts around the theory of Evolution.  

First, it is crucial to understand the term evolution. Islamic scholar Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhiri (n.d.,-a), in his book “Evolution of Man,” delineates between two types of evolutionary concepts.  

Currently, there are four main theories of evolution:

Islam’s Views

In Islam, there is no belief in blind and forcible courses of events that occur (Scott, p. 62-63). In Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhiri’s book “Evolution of Man,” he delineates between evolution and progress.  

As aforementioned, there is no consensus on the understandings of evolution within Islam, or Islamic countries. Some students of evolution believe that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Others say they have always existed in their present forms.  

It is evident through the Quran that there have been different evolutionary processes. First, there was the creation of the Universe, then came the creation of life, and finally, the creation of Man. The Quran itself points out that there are systemic changes of life, and God has willed there to be stages by which the Universe was created.

According to professor Christine Huda Dodge, the first chronological mention of creation in the Quran is in Surah Anbiya, verse 30 where God says that the universe was “joined together as one unit, before we clove them asunder.”

After this, Allah demanded the planets and stars to form and reshape themselves according to the destinies that were set up for each body:

“He who created… the sun and the moon; all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course”

Faheem Ashraf of the Islamic Research Foundation Int. Inc. and Sheikh Omar Suleiman of the Yaqeen Institute for the Islamic Research argue that the scientific theory of an expanding universe is described in Surah Dhariyat:

“And the heaven, we constructed with strength, and indeed, We are [its] expander.”

Surah A’araf states the “heavens and the earth” was created in the equivalent of 6 yawm. Some people interpret yawm to mean days; others as eon, or unit of time much longer than a day.  In Surah Ma’arij, yawm is equal to 50,000 years, and in Surah Hajj, it is equal to 1000 years (Bayyinah Institute, Web)

From the Islamic point of view the world is a collection of multifarious but interconnected realities which have and continue to come into existence through the will of Allah. The world is constantly changing and moving in the gradual direction of perfection, for which it is suited. The Qur’an says:

“We did not create the heavens, the earth and all that lies between them in sport. We created them with a purpose; though most of the people do not know that”. (They are not aware of the importance of the world, its rationale and its system).

(Surah al-Dukhan, 39-40) (Behishti, page 38)

Balance and order are the inevitable laws governing nature. The natural phenomena are not free to choose what kind of mutual relationship they should have or whether they should or should not maintain a balance. Even the reaction produced by some sort of disturbance in nature is meant to restore equilibrium and to remove the hurdles in the way of evolution. This reaction also follows an inevitable course already prescribed. In fact, even any disturbance in the natural order has its own special methodand procedure when order in a wider sense is disturbed; nature itself produces some correctives from within or without. (Behishti, 1993, p. 64-65)  

However, Man’s agency is also at play here. Free will has enabled him to make decisionsfor evolutionary benefit or as a danger to himself, the societies he lives in, and the world. Take for example, all of man’s decisions, and willful ignorance on the subject and actions surrounding climate change. Man knew of his mistakes in the past, and continued along that path; likewise, man knows the actions to take to stagnate climate change yet continues to ignore or delay the course to improve the situation. The Sun will expand, which will signal the end of times according to the evolutionary path that God has set upon humankind in this world.  

To conclude, faith provides the belief that nothing in this world occurs by mistake; rather there is a Divine Plan, and along with that Divine Wisdom, as the world unfolds. Therefore, in the discussion around evolution, we can note that God has laid out the detailed way in which He has created all aspects of the universe and the life within it, but also take note of empirical evidence of microevolutions that have occurred through timeperhaps resulting in macroevolutionsall of which occur on God’s timeline.  

Note that this discussion is simplistic and does not take an interdisciplinary approach. Furthermore,while it does not delve directly and holistically into the discussion between revealed and empirical evidence, it does offer tools of thoughts, which center the Quranic text. Finally, let us consider that Allah (SWT) has allowed for the 12th Imam to remain in Ghaybat-al-KubraHe can stop the processes of time according to His Divine Plan and can accelerate it in due course. It is the hope of the writer that the discussion offers support in beginning the journey, conversations, and engagements in understanding the theories of evolution.  


Al-A’araf. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 107).  

Al-Anbiya. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 324).  

Al-Dhariyat. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 522).  

Al-Dukhan. (n.d.) In Qur’an (pp. 397-398).  

Ashraf, F. (n.d.). Islamic concept of creation of universe, big bang and science-religion interation. Islamic Research Foundation International Inc. Retrieved from concept of creation of universehtml.htm

Behishti, M. H., & Bahonar, M. J. (1993). Philosophy of Islam. Islamic Seminary Publications.

Emergent evolution. (2018, August 18). Retrieved from

Lev Berg. (2018, June 17). Retrieved from

Matzke, N., & Gross, P. (2007). Analyzing Critical Analysis: The Fallback Antievolutionist Strategy. In Not in our classroom: Why intelligent design is wrong for our schools (pp. 28–56). Boston, MA: Beacon.

Muṭahharī, M. (n.d.-a). Evolution of man. Qom: Bethat Islamic Research Centre (BIRC).

Muṭahharī, M. (n.d.). The Quran and the Nature of Life. Maqalat-e Falsafi (Philosophical Essays), 8, 1–12.

Orthogenesis. (2018, August 24). Retrieved from

Scott, Eugenie Carol. Evolution vs. Creationism: an Introduction. International Society for Science and Religion, 2007.

Suleiman, O. (2015, March 31). Retrieved from

What is microevolution? (n.d.). Retrieved from

What problems arise in atheistic arguments?

  1. The Argument from Nonbelief

One common atheistic argument against the existence of God is that, if there really was a God, there would not be so many people who did not believe in Him. If He wanted people to believe in Him, then He could have made Himself more obvious in the most effective way possible. Furthermore, someone as powerful and knowledgeable as God would be hard for us to overlook, especially considering how manymen and women of different religions have dedicated their lives to finding Him. If He was merciful and loving, why would He not just reveal Himself to those looking for Him? At first glance it may not seem that the fact that there are a greater number of non-believers in the world proves that there is actually no God. 

Theists counter this argument by proposing that God’s existence cannot be assumed as evident to humanity. Human beings are unable to ‘see’ or ‘know’ God due to the limitations of their physical senses. His being does not have dimensions that can be comprehended by humans. He is known by the inner senses, the eyes and ears of the heart.  

According to Islam, the goal of all human activity is seeking nearness to God, to know Him so that He may be worshipped. It is the journey and the challenge of seeking nearness to God that enables humans to grow and elevate themselves. There is a significant difference between God wanting to be known, and God specifically wanting humanity to engage in searching for Him.  

Another issue with this atheistic argument is that it assumes that God directly manifesting Himself to humans would make them believe in Him. There is no evidence of this. Humans make mistakes. They have the free will to choose what to believe and what not to believe.  

Point to ponder…

If the fictional character Bruce Wayne told the citizens of Gotham he was Batman, would they believe him?

If he showed himself dressed as the Batman and removed his mask, claimed knowledge to things only Batman would knowwould this guarantee everyone’s belief in him?

The Qur’an explains this line of thought when it says: 

And even if We had sent down to them the angels and the dead had spoken to them and We had brought together all things before them, they would not believe unless Allah pleases, but most of them are ignorant

“Al-An’am verse 111,” p. 142

Indeed, people do not respond well to those that they do not knowthey respond to those they understand and with whom they have built relationships. Through this example, one might argue that building a relationship with God is the best way to know Him, rather than Him manifesting Himself in a direct manner.  

  1. The Argument for Parsimony

Another famous atheistic argument is the argument for parsimony. The argument is that since natural theories sufficiently explain the existence of the universe, there is no need to postulate the existence of a supernatural being since that being’s existence would be superfluous. This argument uses Occam’s Razor. This guideline states that the hypothesis that requires fewer assumptions is most likely true.  

Firstly, the Occam’s Razor guideline is just thata guideline. It is not a law, and there are many instances in which it has failed. It is a fallacy to say that since there seems to be no need for something toexist, that object must not exist. The argument posits no evidence of why God cannot exist, but merely that there is no need to suppose His existence.  

Furthermore, going into the heart of this argument, natural theories do not fully explain the existence of the universe. We cannot explain the physics of the early stages of the Big Bang, and what caused it,because matter, energy, and time – the tools of physics – did not exist prior to the Big Bang. There is no physical way to describe the cause of the Big Bang. In fact, we cannot even physically speak of a time “prior” to the Big Bang since there was no time prior to it. The cause of the creation of the universe is a topic that cannot, by definition, be described scientifically or naturally.  

  1. The Argument of Incompatibility 

A third atheistic argument used to deny the existence of God is through describing a logical incompatibility of properties that God is said to possess. For instance, God cannot be both infinitely Merciful and Just at the same time, because mercy demands forgiveness while justice demands retribution.   

The flaw in this argument is in the way these qualities are conceptualized and ascribed to God. When God is attributed as Merciful and Just, it is to describe His nature, because God does not possess these individual qualitiesHe is identical with those qualities and they are all one with Him. He is the source of them.  

To say that God “possesses” a quality implies that quality can exist separately from Himthat it could be added to Him or removed from Him without taking away from His essence. This isn’t trueGod without Mercy or Justice is no longer God. 

Furthermore, though we think of God’s attributes as separate and independent, in reality they are all one within Him. His Justice and Mercy are not separate aspects of Him the way they are separate qualities in human beings. He does not decide to be Just at sometimes and Merciful other timesHe is both all of the time. Thus, the qualities of Mercy and Justice are not logically incompatible in God because they are not independentthey are actually one and the same within Him. God does not possess them, but rather they are a part of Him. 


Al-An’am. (n.d.). In Qur’an (pp. 128–151). 

Lārī Mujtabá Mūsavī. (2000). God and His attributes: Lessons on Islamic doctrine. (H. Algar, Trans.). 

Islamic Education Center. Retrieved from 

McCormick, M. (n.d.). Atheism – Arguments from nonbelief. Retrieved from 

Rizvi, S. S. A. (1992). The justice of God (4th revised ed.). Dar-es-Salam: Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania.