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Understanding God’s Scheme
God and Monotheism
Sheharbano Ali

In many cases, we find that people develop a wrong perception of God and the guidance provided to us by His messengers. A prominent reason for this is the attitude of religious presenters. When a human being gains consciousness, he develops an attitude that just like he has parents, a country, he also has a religion among the people among who he was born. Thus he follows religion in the same light as he practices his tradition and culture. But not all people are like that. Some are very sensitive from an ideological perspective. When such people see that they also have a religious identity they strive to understand this religious identity and make sense of it. In their surroundings, they see some religious leaders who are carrying out religious duties. Similarly, they will have parents and relatives telling them some things about religion. So for some, these observations, teachings, and attitudes that they encounter do not seem to satisfy them. Whatever they are told, they feel that it does not meet the criteria of knowledge and reason.

One way of dealing with this is that this person leaves everything else and makes religion or religious texts a topic of his research. He pursues knowledge to look beyond the teachings of his local imam or preacher or those inherited by him from his family and relatives. A second possibility is that he develops an indifferent thinking towards religion. When this attitude develops, the person then gradually loses his ability to see things in a broader perspective. Thus this is the moment where some people observe that there is cruelty and injustice in this world, there is pain and suffering, there are earthquakes and natural disasters. So these things worry them and they think if there is a creator of this universe, how is he dealing with humans? Fundamentally, this issue stems from the fact that in their cultural and traditional setting, their religious people are unable to satisfy them and eventually this dissatisfaction leads to the aforementioned scenario. For this it is necessary that we correct both things: We educate people, particularly those who follow Islam. Our parents, our relatives, our society should at least have enough knowledge to be able to deal with the initial dissatisfaction that develops in a rational human being.

After that, when a person starts to contemplate with a clear mind, it can be explained to him that he should try and understand the scheme upon which God has created this universe and that God has not created this world on the principle of justice and equality. If God’s messengers had told us that this world is a place of justice and equality and on this principle He was governing the affairs of this world, then this objection would have been correct. But this is not the case. God’s messengers have told us that this world is a temporary place where we will be put through a test. Therefore, if we understand God’s scheme, we will come to realize that a more perfect world for test could not have been created. This means that every person, whether a mother, a father, a husband or a wife, is undergoing a test. The purpose is that God can see and gauge who in this world despite cruelty, oppression, unfavourable circumstances, betrayal, rebellion, hurtful things from people, stands for the truth and does good. Therefore, first we should understand God’s scheme and this is what I will try to establish here in the following paragraphs.

If one reads and reflects upon the verses of Surah Al-i ‘Imran where God narrates the incident of the battle of Uhud, with the eyes of the heart, only then can one recognize the wisdom behind the scenario being discussed. Often, we drown ourselves in questions like “why” or “why me.” In the words of the Qur’anic scholar Hamid al-Din Farahi (d. 1930), there can be two possibilities that give birth to and nurture this thought, “lack of knowledge” or “lack of contemplation”. Once a person deprives himself of these two God given abilities, he will always be floating between the “why” and “why me” of situations and the result of this will be nothing but adding on to the already existing clouds of ambiguity present in one’s mind. This will empower one’s vision to see the hidden pearls forming underneath the apparent crashing of waves.

 I draw the attention of the readership to the verses of Surah Al-i ‘Imran where God talks about the attitude of the hypocrites during and after the “apparent” defeat of the Muslims in the battle of Uhud. Through addressing the prophet (saw), He informs the Muslims of His promise of sending help yet again in this battle. Prior to this, all the characters present during the event mentioned in these verses, had witnessed the unprecedented help that came through God in the battle of Badr. And so, even the thought of doubting the integrity of God’s promise of His help another time would seem unthinkable for any person who possessed a sound heart. But that is not the case. God knows what is in the hearts, he is fully aware of even the thoughts that cross our minds which is why at times, it is essential to put people into situations that they encounter, for their own selves. This helps us in being introspective about our personalities, as rightly put by Socrates: “to know thyself.” Only by knowing ourselves can we improve ourselves, which is why, the all wise and all-knowing God puts us in situations which are an outward loss when viewed through the lens of a worldly person. However, the perspective of a person who reads the book of God and as a result forms a close relationship with Him, when reviewing the same situation will be entirely different. This is because he realizes that it helped him review where he stood in terms of the faith He has in his Lord God and as a result, the spiritual and intellectual transformation that he has undergone during the process.

God reminds the Prophet (sws) in the above mentioned verses that although it is an understood fact that undoubtedly help always comes through Him, yet it was purposely informed here at the start of the battle of Uhud as encouraging news for the believers as well as to fortify their hearts. He then further goes on to explain in the following verses the wisdom behind the need to announce this grand scheme of sending angels for help. A single event can carry in it such insight that the limited knowledge of a human being is forced to humble itself in front of God’s all-encompassing knowledge and incomprehensible power. This one event served as a tool for distinguishing between the true believers who trusted God fully, despite the dire circumstances and did not hesitate at all to go and fight. For those, one can only imagine the comfort it must have brought to their souls and the happiness they might have experienced at the moment when God’s promise was communicated to them by the Prophet (sws). This would have strengthened their faith in God further. For a person who knows his true place and purpose in this world realizes that the spirit of this life is the purification of knowledge and actions which ultimately lead to the progression of one’s faith in the Lord God. Similarly, it clearly brought out the hypocrites or the weak believers. In the words of Amin Ahsan Islahi, “Allah Almighty raised this storm of parties so that it became a test for the distinction between the righteous and the hypocrites. On this, Allah will reward His righteous servants for their righteousness and punish the hypocrites if He wills, and accept their repentance if they repent.”

In Surah Ahzab, while talking about this same law of separating the true believers from the weaker ones by the event of the battle of Ahzab, God explains that this is done to put the “believers” to test, while He talks about the many benefits of the events of the aforementioned battle. In the words of Amin Ahsan Islahi: “It should be noted here that whatever trial takes place in the path of truth, just as it highlights the loss of weak, it also ignites the truth of the righteous. This is the established Sunnah of Allah Almighty.”

These are examples of how God’s scheme operates in this world, particularly in the prophetic era and on a collective people. Now taking in view the post prophetic era, where events take place in a similar fashion, however, the purpose they serve is different. Their role is to either warn or remind both a collective and individual people ie. to make them open their eyes and hearts towards their God and as a result awaken their souls towards the inevitable reality of death, where they will be held accountable for each of their actions they have been undertaking in this life, given to them as a trial. Events of this nature, when they occur, do not make sense to a person who does not believe in God or hasn’t yet formed a relationship with Him. A person on the other hand, who has made the effort of knowing God through His book will view and take benefit of the same event very differently. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that such a person oftentimes wishes himself to be tested when he knows he needs it. This person knows that it is essential for him to go through a trial so that he can evaluate for himself where he stands in terms of faith and gauge where he practically stands with regard to what he has learnt from God’s book. The feeling is unparalleled when he succeeds. As Amin Ahsan Islahi says: “This is an exercise in one’s spiritual journey – a path that every seeker of the truth treads and this journey of increase in faith continues right up to his death. In this journey, although each day makes a person even more firm in faith, so much so that each day is so bright, that the previous day appears to be dark in relation to it.”

The prerequisites required for a person to enable him to look beyond the manifest and extract the hidden pearls of wisdom out of every situation that he undergoes during his lifetime, are two key components; Being consciously aware of God and one’s inner self. We turn ourselves for both of these to the best source itself ie. God. No one else can know and inform us better about Himself and us other than the one who created us. If someone narrates to us our story without us being able to relate to it couldn’t be the one who created us, who is looking after us, knows what is best for us and otherwise. This is exactly why the Qur’an, the final testament of God, does not need any external source to prove its authenticity and truthfulness. The way it describes this life and the realities found inside of us, anyone who possesses eyes coupled with a sound intellect and heart is forced to bow down to His creator as he reads. This person whose faculties are working to their fullest, feels as if he is reading his own story in the book of God. After this assertion that this is definitely God talking in this book, naturally the next step would be to want to find out about God Himself.

One way in which philosophy describes God is that He is the first cause; or to put it simply, that He made this world but after this task he has got nothing to do with it. If we all are introspective of ourselves, even those of us who supposedly claim to believe in God, the reality of our claim is no different from the view of those philosophers. We all apparently believe in a God, but we never form a real relationship with Him. We never view him as an eternal reality and translate His existence into our lives as a living and present God who is all aware of what we do, all knowing all seeing; Who is aware of us more than our own selves and nothing He does can be devoid of wisdom. This is because we don’t make the effort to open His Book and read about what He has to tell us about Himself and the scheme that this world, including us, are operating on. Out of the ones who make the effort of opening it, very few among those study it like it should be studied. Thus, as a result, we deprive ourselves of the true reality of this life and ourselves. This has led us all to be angry with God in a sense as a collective people and on an individual level. Do all things such as earthquakes, diseases, floods etc. happen by themselves? No. God makes them happen. But why does he make them happen, we need to understand this.

Taking the abovementioned events as an example, it is important to note that at both times the true believers were facing the same grave consequences along with the hypocrites. Both the groups underwent apparent loss but the results for each of the two groups on an individual level, were completely opposite. It is very important to note that when God talks about the battle of Ahzab He says that it was a test for the believers. Even though it was doing the work of distinguishing the hypocrites from the real believers so that the Muslims could be aware of them in the future, but in their true essence they were a test for the believers for them to know where they stood in terms of faith. Then after the battle, they could themselves testify to the fact that they had very strong faith and trust in their Lord God despite the apparent circumstances not being in their favour. The Qur’an states: 

Do people think that they will be left to say that they believe and will not be tested? (29:2)

 At times, trials serve the purpose of bringing out and enhancing the good in you. This also gives room for improvement to people who know that they were worshipping God on the edge. As God mentions in his book that there are some who believe in Him on the edge. When things are good they believe in Him but as soon as things are shaking they disbelieve. Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:  

If such elements entered the Muslims, they would not be united in monotheism. As long as the path seemed smooth to them, they supported the caravan of Islam, but when a trial occurred, they would stumble and become disheartened with God and make others their guardians. This thing is polytheism according to its reality.


This could be a result of believing in God not because of God Himself but as a result of mere conceit.

For the people who make the effort of knowing God through His book and form a relationship with Him can easily identify the wisdom of each of the events that take place in his life on a personal level as well as the things that happen at a collective level around him. A verse from one of the poems written by Badr Alam, a Deobandi scholar, reads: “If You keep me alive that is also Your gift.” This is the faith a true believer should have in His God. A believer knows that the spiritual and intellectual transformation that he will undergo by being sick can never be achieved by being healthy. Then even if he experiences the death of a loved one, he will not complain or be shocked because of his strong relationship with God formed through His book will constantly be reminding him of the meeting with his God and the temporary nature of this world. He will not question as to why people are born with disabilities. A person with eyes can see that they are a living sign of God and what work a healthy person has to strive hard to achieve, they are doing by putting in no effort at all. In other words, every person who sees them, thanks God. Jesus (sws) says something very profound in context to this. He says that “such people are born so that the healthy ones can be reminded of their healthiness.” On the day of judgement God might tell them that I was taking work from you, it wasn’t your fault. So this is paradise! First take your share, later the account will be taken.

Thus we should know about our true place and purpose in this world. The knowledge that does not introduce us to ourselves and take us towards the truth is no knowledge at all. Lets become “educated” Muslims rather than “born” Muslims. Lets revive our connection with God by opening up His book and see what He has to say. Thus, in the words of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi:


اٹھ کہ یہ سلسلہ شام و سحر تازہ کریں

عالم نو ہے ترے قلب و نظر تازہ کریں




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