Love in the Holy Qur'an (4): CHAPTER 5: Love is the Root of Creation

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God created human beings out of His mercy, for He says:


The Compassionate One / has taught the Qur’an. / He cre- ated man, / teaching him [coherent] speech. (Al-Rahman, 55:1-4)


And He says:


Had your Lord willed, He would have made humankind one community, but they continue to differ, / except those on whom your Lord has mercy; and for that did He create them… (Hud, 11:118-119)


Fakhr al-Din al-Razi says about God’s words ‘and for that did He cre- ate them’:


There are three opinions about these words. The first opinion: Ibn ‘Abbas " said: ‘He created them for mercy’; and this is the opinion of the majority of Mu’tazilites, who say that it cannot be that God created them so that they would differ. There are several proofs for this: firstly, pronouns should be assumed to refer to their nearest possible antecedent, and the nearest possible antecedent here is ‘mercy’, whilst ‘to differ’ is further away. Secondly, had He created them to differ and wanted them to believe this, He could not then punish them for it, since they would be obeying Him by differing. Thirdly, if we understand the verse in this way, it is in harmony with what He says elsewhere: and I did not create the jinn and humankind  except that they may worship Me (Al-Dhariyat, 51:56). If it is said, ‘If the meaning were that He created them because of His mercy, the pronoun ‘that’ would be feminine in Arabic (since rahmah [‘mercy’] is a feminine noun in Ara- bic), not masculine’, we respond that the feminine status of the word rahmah is not a true feminine, since the word means ‘favour’ and ‘forgiveness’ [respectively ‘fadl’ and ‘ghufran’ in Arabic, which are both masculine], as He says:

Said he, 
‘This (‘hadha’—a masculine pronoun) is a mercy (rahmah) from my Lord… (Al-Kahf, 18:98), and He says: … surely the mercy (rahmah) of God is near (qarib, masculine adjective) to the virtuous (Al-A’raf, 7:56). The second opinion is that these words mean that He created them so that they would dif- fer. The third opinion, which is the most satisfactory one, is that He created the people of mercy for mercy, and the people of differing for differing.22


We believe that the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas " is the one that corresponds best with the literal meaning of the verse. Indeed, we cannot ignore the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas "—who learnt the Holy Qur’an personally from his cousin the Prophet Muhammad ! himself—even if al-Razi does not concur. Moreover, as al-Razi himself says, linguistically speaking, the word ‘rahmah’ may be considered either feminine or masculine—and therefore the word can indeed apply to it. At most, it might be said—to accommodate al-Razi’s opinion—that God created people as such for mercy, but also cre- ated them as ‘people of differing’ for differing and ‘people of mercy’ for mercy—in other words, that God wants to grant His Mercy to everyone, but created them free and thus allowed them not to choose His Mercy. However, this seems an unnecessary, complicated quibble with Ibn Abbas’s commentary. Moreover, logically speaking, God prescribes mercy for Him- self:


…Your Lord has prescribed for Himself mercy… (Al-An’am, 6:54)


And this mercy is linked to the very creation of the heavens and the earth:


Say: ‘To whom belongs what is in the heavens and in the earth?’ Say: ‘To God. He has prescribed for Himself mercy. He will surely gather you together on the Day of Resurrec- tion of which there is no doubt. Those who have forfeited their own souls, they do not believe. (Al-An’am, 6:12)


And the Messenger of God ! said:


‘When  God  created   the  world,  He  wrote  above  His Throne: “My mercy outstrips My wrath.” ’23


How, then, could God have ‘created the people of differing for differ- ing’ as al-Razi says, and not for mercy? Rather, God created human beings for His mercy but some of them ‘differed’, and as a result of this they closed themselves off from Divine mercy, despite the vastness of His mercy about which God says: My mercy embraces all things… (Al-A’raf, 7:156).24

Furthermore, how could God have created ‘the people of differing’ for ‘differing’, when God has actually stated that the reason for creation else- where in the Holy Qur’an, and it is precisely not for ‘differing’ as such. God says:


And I did not create the jinn and humankind  except that they may worship Me (Al-Dhariyat, 51:56)


Now the worship of God is a mercy, and it leads to more mercy; and God does not say here that He created some of humanity and the jinn for worship, and others for something else (i.e. ‘differing’), but rather that He created them all for worshipping Him, and therefore for attaining His Mercy. Indeed, there are more than twenty-five verses in the Holy Qur’an which indicate that God created human beings for mercy, and for that which leads to mercy.

Thus God says He created human beings to be God-fearing:


O people, worship your Lord Who created you and those that were before you, so that you may be God-fearing. (Al- Baqarah, 2:21)


And ‘to know the names of all things’, for He says:


And when your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am appointing on earth a vicegerent’, they said, ‘What, will You appoint therein one who will do corruption therein and shed blood, while we glorify You with praise and sanctify You?’; He said, ‘Assuredly, I know what you know not’. / And He taught Adam the names, all of them; then He presented them to the angels and said, ‘Now tell Me the names of these if you speak truly’. (Al-Baqarah, 2:30-31)


 And He created human beings ‘to reward them with the best reward’, for He says:


And to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth that He may requite those who do evil for what they have done, and reward those who are virtuous with the best [reward]. (Al-Najm, 53:31)


And ‘to test which of them is best in conduct’, for God says:


[He] Who created death and life, that He may try you [to see] which of you is best in conduct, and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving (Al-Mulk, 67:2)


And ‘to reward those who believe and perform good deeds’, for God says:


To Him is the return of all of you: God’s promise, in truth. Truly He originates creation, then recreates it that He may requite  those who believe and perform  righteous  deeds, justly. And those who disbelieve, for them will be a draught of boiling water and a painful chastisement because they disbelieved. (Yunus, 10:4)


And ‘so that human beings may be certain about the encounter with God’, for He says:


God is He Who raised up the heavens without visible sup- ports then presided upon the Throne and disposed the sun and the moon, each one moving, until [the conclusion of] an appointed time. He directs the command. He details the signs so that you might be certain of the encounter with your Lord. (Al-Ra’d, 13:2)


And ‘so that human beings may seek His favour; give thanks to Him; reflect on His signs; understand them, and be guided’, for God says:


He created the heavens and the earth with the Truth. Exalted be He above what they associate. / He created man from a drop of fluid, yet behold! he is disputatious, openly. / And the cattle, He created them for you. In them there is warmth, as well as [other] uses, and of them you eat; / and for you there is in them beauty, when you bring them [home] to rest, and when you drive them forth to pasture. / And they bear your burdens to a land which you could not reach, save with great trouble to yourselves. Indeed your Lord is Gentle, Merciful. / And [He created] horses and mules and asses, that you may ride them, and for adornment; and He creates what you do not know. / And God’s is the direction of the way, and some of them are deviant. And had He willed, He would have guided you all. / He it is Who sends down water from the heaven, whence you have drink, and whence are trees, whereat you let your animals graze. / With it He makes the crops grow for you, and olives and date-palms and vines and all kinds of fruit. Surely in that there is a sign for people who reflect. / And He disposed for you the night and the day, and the sun and the moon and the stars are disposed by His command. Surely in that there are signs for people who un- derstand. / And whatever He has created for you in the earth, diverse in hue. Surely in that there is a sign for people who remember. / And He it is Who disposed the sea, that you may eat from it fresh meat, and bring forth from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships ploughing therein; and that you may seek of His favour, and that you might be thankful. / And He cast into the earth firm mountains,  lest it should shake with you, and rivers and ways so that you might be guided / — and landmarks  [as well], and by the stars, they are guided. (Al-Nahl, 16:3-16)


And ‘so that human beings remember Him and thank Him’, for God says:


And He it is Who made the night and day [to appear] in suc- cession for him who desires to remember or desires to be thankful. (Al-Furqan, 25:62)


And ‘so that human beings supplicate Him’, for God says:


Say, ‘My Lord would not be concerned with you were it not for your supplications. But you have denied, and so that will remain binding’. (Al-Furqan, 25:7)


And ‘so that He might relent to the believing men and women’, for God says:


So that God may chastise the hypocrites, men and women, and the idolaters, men and women, and that God may relent to the believing men and believing women. And God is For- giving, Merciful. (Al-Ahzab, 33:73)


And ‘so that human beings may complete an appointed term, and un- derstand’, for God says:


He it is Who created you from dust, then from a drop [of sperm], then from a blood-clot, then He brings you forth as infants, then that you may come of age, then that you may become aged, though there are some of you who die earlier, and that you may complete an appointed term that perhaps you might understand.  (Ghafir, 40:67)


And ‘so that human beings might seek God’s favour, and thank Him, and reflect upon His signs’, for God says:


God it is Who disposed for you the sea so that the ships may sail upon it by His command, and that you may seek of His favour, and that perhaps you may give thanks. / And He has disposed for you whatever is in the heavens, and whatever is in the earth, all being from Him. Surely in that there are signs for a people who reflect. (Al-Jathiyah, 45:12-13)


And ‘to requite each soul justly’, for God says:


And God created the heavens and the earth with the truth and  so that  every soul may be requited  for what it has earned, and they will not be wronged. (Al-Jathiyah, 45:22)


And ‘so that human beings may come to know one another’, for God says:


O humankind! We have indeed created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may come to know one another.  Truly the noblest of you in the sight of God is the most God-fearing among you. Truly God is Knower, Aware. (Al-Hujurat, 49:13)


And ‘so that human beings might have insight and be people of re- membrance and penitence’, for God says:


As an insight and a reminder for every penitent servant.(Qaf, 50:8)


And ‘so that human beings might keep the balance with justice’, for God says:


The Compassionate One / has taught the Qur’an. / He cre- ated man, / teaching him [coherent] speech. / The sun and the moon follow a reckoning, / and the grass and the trees prostrate. / And He has raised the heaven and set up the bal- ance, / [declaring] that you should not contravene with re- gard to the balance. / And observe the weights with justice and do not skimp the balance. (Al-Rahman, 55:1-9)


And ‘so that human beings might be guided to the way, and be grateful to God’, for God says:


Verily We created man from a drop of mixed fluid, so that We may test him. So We made him hearing, seeing. / Verily We have guided him to the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful.  (Al-Insan, 76:2-3)


And that ‘God created the earth as sustenance for human beings’, for God says:


Are you harder to create or the heaven which He has built? / He made it rise high and levelled it, / and darkened its night, and brought forth its day; / and after that He spread out the earth; / from it He has brought forth its waters and its pastures, / and has set firm the mountains / as a [source of] sustenance  for you and your flocks. (Al-Nazi’at, 79:27-33)


What all these verses have in common is the fact that God creates human beings, gives them freedom and tests them in this life so that they might attain His mercy, although those who fail and do evil things are re- quited for their own evil deeds.

It should also be mentioned that in addition to all the verses from the Holy Qur’an cited above there are twenty-five other verses in the Holy Qur’an in which God describes the wisdom behind His creating certain parts of creation (and not all of it). These parts of creation were specifically made for the service of humanity, to help achieve their purpose in life, which is to attain God’s mercy by worshipping Him. These verses include, for example:


It is He Who made the earth tractable for you, so walk in its flanks and eat of His provision; and to Him is the resurrec- tion. (Al-Mulk, 67:15)25


Thus it is clear and beyond doubt that God created human beings and the world out of mercy and for mercy; and since Divine Mercy is insepara- ble from Divine love (as we have already discussed in Chapter 4: God and Love), this means that the world and human beings were created out of love and for love as well.



Question:  If the world and human beings were created out of mercy, and thus love, and for mercy and thus love, then how can it be that God does not love certain (evil) people?

As we will later see, God willing, the only creatures and things which God does not love are the evildoers and disbelievers and certain evil deeds. The answer to this question therefore is limited to an examination of the states of the evildoers, disbelievers and certain evil deeds with respect to God’s love and mercy.

As regards evildoers and the disbelievers, God in His mercy and love created them in a state of primordial purity, and in the best stature and the best form.26 God says:


By the fig and the olive, / and [by] the Mount Sinai, / and [by] this secure land, / Verily We created man in the best stature. / Then, We reduced him to the lowest of the low, / except those who believe and perform righteous deeds, for they shall have an unfailing  reward. / So what makes you deny thereafter  the Judgement?  / Is not God the fairest of all judges? (Al-Tin, 95:1-8)


God it is Who made for you the earth as a [stable] abode and the heaven as a canopy. And He formed you and perfected your forms, and provided you with [all] the wholesome things. That then is God, your Lord, so blessed be God, the Lord of the Worlds. (Ghafir, 40:64)


He created the heavens and the earth with the truth, and He shaped you and made your shapes excellent; and to Him is the journey’s end. (Al-Taghabun, 64:3)


O man! What has deceived you with regard to your generous Lord? / Who created you, then made you upright, then pro- portioned you, / assembling you in whatever form He wishes? (Al-Infitar, 82:6-8)


But this does not mean that God, who created human beings in the best of statures, still loves them if and after they become the lowest of the low. Abu Hurayrah " reported that the Messenger of God ! said:


‘Every child is born primordially pure, and then his par- ents make him Jewish, or Christian, or Magian….’27


And ‘Iyad ibn Majashi’i reported that the Messenger of God ! said:


‘God Almighty says: “… And I created all My servants in a righteous state, and then demons came to them and drew them away from their religion….” ’28


This means that although God created human beings out of mercy, He made them free and able to choose between good and evil. God says:


Verily We have guided him to the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful.  (Al-Insan, 76:3)


And We guided him to the two paths. (Al-Balad, 90:10)


And as for Thamud, We offered them guidance, but they pre- ferred blindness to guidance. So the thunderbolt of the hu- miliating chastisement seized them on account of what they used to earn. (Fussilat, 41:17)

If a person chooses goodness, virtue, or the like, then God will love him or her more. However, if they choose the way of evil and sin, and close themselves off from God’s guidance, then they will not attain God’s mercy and love. Thus God—out of mercy and love—creates people free, but some use this freedom to choose not to accept God’s mercy and love. The in- evitable price to be paid for freedom is the possibility of evil and thus the rejection of God’s mercy. Indeed, God cites the Prophet Noah $ in the Holy Qur’an saying:


He said, ‘O my people, have you considered if I am [acting] upon a clear proof from my Lord and He has given me mercy from Him, and you have remained blind to it, can we force it on you, even though you are averse to it? (Hud, 11:28)


It is thus not a question of God not loving evil people and acts, but rather of evil people freely refusing to be loved by God. And God knows best.

(to be continued)


22 Al-Razi, Al-Tafsir al-kabir, vol. 6 p. 412.

23 Bukhari, Sahih, Hadith no. 7403; Kitab al-Tawhid, Bab: Qawlihi ta’ala ‘Wa laqad sabaqat kalimatuna li-‘ibadina al-mursalin.’


24 We should not neglect to mention here the Hadith Qudsi:

‘I was a hidden  treasure, and  I loved to be known, so I created  hu- mankind and made Myself known to them, and they knew Me.’

The Hadith scholar ‘Ajluni said about this Hadith:

‘Ibn Taymiyah said it is not a saying of the Prophet ! and that he did not know any chain or narration for it, whether strong or weak. Zarkashi, Hafiz Ibn Hajar (in al-Lali’), Suyuti and others concurred. Al-Qari said: “But its meaning is correct and can be derived from God’s words: And I did not create the jinn and humankind  except that they may worship Me, that is, that they may know God, as Ibn ‘Abbas " and others understood it. The way it is generally reported is: ‘I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known, so I created men, and through Me they knew Me.’ It is quoted very often by the Sufis, and they rely on it and have based some of their funda- mental ideas on it.’ (‘Ajluni, Kashf al-khafa’, vol. 1, p. 132)

However, Ibn Arabi  declared—controversially perhaps—the Hadith to be ‘authentic ac- cording to personal disclosure’ (‘sahih kashfan’); these are his words from Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyyah:

‘In a Hadith which is authentic based on personal disclosure, but lacking an established chain of narration, the Messenger of God ! reported that his Lord says words to the effect of: “I was a hidden treasure, and I loved to be known, so I created  humankind and made Myself known to them, and they knew Me.” ’ (Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-Arabi, Al-Futuhat al- Makkiyyah, vol. 2 p. 393)

We do n