Many people ask, “Why is it that someone who doesn’t believe in God, but performs acts which help mankind, such as charity, building homes for the poor, establishing medical and educational institutions, etc, will not, according to what you believe, receive any reward in the next world?”. The answer is that God will certainly not disregard the labour of any human being, and He will not deny the reward due to a doer of good deeds. Indeed, He will respond to his requests. Is there a better way of expressing one’s gratitude to a person who has done something good for him? If the doer of a good deed believes in God and the life hereafter, and seeks the reward of the next world. God will grant him his reward. However, if the person is only interested in worldly achievements, he will be rewarded accordingly. Why should you concern yourself about his reward if he himself does not seek the reward in the next life?
God has given us the power of intellect and has ordered us to think and reflect on the secrets of the universe, with its unique laws and traditions. These have been laid down by Him so that we may behave in accordance with His wishes. Therefore the study of the natural sciences and the discovery of the secrets of the universe are acts of worship, provided such knowledge serves to strengthen our faith and should, in fact, make us more devout. We should use this knowledge for causes that are both beneficial to mankind and acceptable to our Lord, and not exploit it in order to cause disaster and destruction in the world.
Some issues concerning the Divine Attributes and the existence of God have led to too many long-winded debates and discussions, filling volumes of theological works. Questions such as whether God’s knowledge belongs to Him, or whether He acquired it, whether characteristics such as knowledge, ability, power, etc., are inborn in Him, and whether these characteristics differ from His other characteristics, such as the power to create, grant, employ and so on, lead to unnecessary tension, like the question regarding the Holy Qur’an and whether it was eternal or created. Likewise issues regarding the difference between ‘good’ and ‘the best’, fate, destiny, man’s willpower, etc are equally absurd and fruitless. The right approach to all these issues is to refuse to delve into them and discuss them. Such issues are, to use a legal term, ‘Rejected Cases’, for the following reasons:
1) Our predecessors, who were the best of Muslims and among whom were the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the companions of the companions, did not analyze these points, as their faith was sounder and purer than ours, and, as stated before, they set models for us to follow.
2) Anyone making a careful study of the views of the various factions will find there is a unified undercurrent based on the parity between God the Almighty and mankind. All these factions seek to apply human logic and psychology to the Almighty. But this is wrong as there is no comparison between God and a human being. In fact, nothing can be compared to God the Almighty.
3) All the aforementioned issues and questions belong to the realm of metaphysics, in other words, the world of the unseen. As we mentioned earlier that, our power of intellect is limited to the material world and cannot therefore consider issues which are beyond it. Approaching these issues, I would like to put forward a new approach, which is nearer the truth and more beneficial to us. We should give up arguing about the attributes of God and turn our attention to actions which will please Him and He will consequently reward us. So instead of indulging in futile discussions such as those previously mentioned, let us attend to our duty to keep to the path He ordained so that He may learn about us in a way which is acceptable to Him.
The truth about God has been explained above; anyone who still argues about God’s attributes is like a class of students who are told that the ministry of education has committed a high level committee to conduct their examinations. The sensible students will make sure they prepare themselves thoroughly and do not miss out any of the syllabus. The foolish students, on the other hand, will start asking questions about whether the committee will approach the examinations collectively or on an individual basis, whether the committee consists of an odd or even number of members, whether they will come by air or by road, etc. They will continue to argue in this way so that on the day of the examinations they will be completely unprepared. Indeed God will not ask us on the Day of Judgement about what viewpoints scholars put forward, or about those arguments that filled so many volumes. If such matters were important, the Prophet of God (peace be upon him), would have discussed them himself. So why not turn our attention away from such issues which are the result of ancient Greek philosophy, about which most formulations have been proved false, and arguments in their favour have not stood the test of time. Creating a new philosophy just as misleading as the earlier philosophy of metaphysical thought has caused yet more chaos and confusion. Why not keep the Book of God before us, using it as our guiding force and accepting what it says regarding the Unseen, and leave the rest to Him.