[Our Group – Click Here]
The following are a carefully selected collection of stories (fictional and non-fictional) to get one pondering on the fact of Islam. These stories reveal answers to questions that quiz the mind of the Muslim and non-Muslim. Please take some time to read them, you will not be disappointed.
- Abu Hanifa (r) and the Athiest:
Long ago in the city of Baghdad, there was a Muslim empire. On one side of the River Tigris were the royal palaces and on the other side was the city. The Muslims were gathered in the Royal Palace when an athiest approached them. He said to them, ‘I don’t believe in God, there cannot be a God, you cannot hear Him or see Him, you’re wasting your time! Bring me your best debator and I will debate this issue with him.’
The best debator at the time was Imam Abu Hanifah (r). A messenger from amongst the Muslims was sent over the River Tigris to the city, where Abu Hanifah (r) was, in order to tell him about the athiest who was awaiting him. On crossing the River Tigris, the messenger conveyed the message to Abu Hanifah (r) saying, ‘Oh Abu Hanifah, an athiest is waiting for you, to debate you, please come!’ Abu Hanifah (r) told the messeneger that he would be on his way.
The messenger went over the River Tigris once again and to the Royal Palaces, where everyone including the athiest awaited the arrival of Abu Hanifah (r). It was sunset at the time and one hour had passed, but Abu Hanifah (r) still hadn’t arrived. Another hour had passed, but still there was no sign of him. The Muslims started to become tense and worried about his late arrival. They did not want the athiest to think that they were too scared to debate him, yet they did not want to take up the challenge themselves as Abu Hanifah (r) was the best of Debators from amongst the Muslims. Another hour passed, and suddenly the athiest started laughing and said, ‘ Your best debator is too scared! He knows he’s wrong, he is too frightened to come and debate with me. I gurantee he will not turn up today.’
The Muslims increased in apprehension and eventually it had passed midnight, and the athiest had a smile on his face. The clock ticked on, and finally Abu Hanifah (r) had arrived. The Muslims inquired about his lateness and remarked, ‘Oh Abu Hanifah, a messenger sent for you hours ago, and you arrive now, explain your lateness to us.’
Abu Hanifah Rahimullah (r) for his lateness and began to explain, while the atheist listened to his story:
“Once the messenger delivered the message to me, I began to make my way to the River Tigris, and on reaching the river bank I realised there was no boat, in order to cross the river. It was getting dark, and I looked around, there was no boat anywhere nor was there a navigator or a sailor in order for me to cross the river to get to the Royal Palaces. I continued to look around for a boat, as I did not want the athiest to think I was running away and did not want to debate with him.
I was standing on the river bank looking for a navigator or a boat when something caught my attention in the middle of the river. I looked forward, and to my amazement I saw planks of wood rising to the surface from the sea bed. I was shocked, amazed, I couldn’t believe what I saw seeing. Ready made planks of wood were rising up to the surface and joining together. They were all the same width and length, I was astounded at what I saw.
I continued to look into the middle of the river, and then I saw nails coming up from the sea floor. They positioned themselves onto the boat and held the planks together, without them being banged. I stood in amazement and thought to myself, ‘Oh Allah, how can this happen, planks of wood rising to the surface by itself, and then nails positioning themselves onto the boat without being banged?’ I could not undertsand what was happening before my eyes.”
The athiest meanwhile was listening with a smile on his face. Abu Hanifah (r) continued, “I was still standing on the river bank watching these planks of wood join together with nails. I could see water seeping through the gaps in the wood, and suddenly I saw a sealant appear from the river and it began sealing the gaps without someone having poured it, again I thought, ‘Ya Allah, how is this possible, how can sealant appear and seal the gaps without someone having poured it, and nails appear without someone having banged them.’ I looked closer and I could see a boat forming before my eyes, I stood in amazement and was filled with shock. All of a sudden a sail appeared and I thought to myself, ‘How is this happening, a boat has appeared before my eyes by itself, planks of wood, nails, sealant and now a sail, but how can I use this boat in order to cross the river to the Royal Palaces?’ I stood staring in wonderment and suddenly the boat began to move. It came towards me against the current. It stood floating beside me while I was on the river bank, as if telling me to embark onto it. I went on the boat and yet again it began to move. There was no navigator or sailor on the boat, and the boat began to travel towards the direction of the royal palaces, without anyone having programmed it as to where to go. I could not understand what was happening, and how this boat had formed and was taking me to my destination against the flow of water. The boat eventually reached the other side of the River Tigris and I disembarked. I turned around and the boat had disappeared, and that is why I am late.”
At this moment, the athiest brust out laughing and remarked, “Oh Abu Hanifah, I heard that you were the best debator from amongst the Muslims, I heard that you were the wisest, the most knowledgable from amongst your people. From seeing you today, I can say that you show none of these qualities. You speak of a boat appearing from nowhere, without someone having built it. Nails positioning themselves without someone having banged them, sealant being poured without someone having poured it, and the boat taking you to your destination without a navigator against the tide, your taking childish, your talking rediculous, I swear I do not believe a word of it!”
Abu Hanifah (r) turned to the athiest and replied, “You don’t believe a word of it? You dont believe that nails can appear by themselves? You dont believe sealant can be poured by itself? You dont believe that a boat can move without a navigator, hence you don’t believe that a boat can appear without a boat maker?”
The athiest remarked defiantly, “Yes I don’t believe a word of it!”
Abu Hanifah (r) replied, “If you cannot believe that a boat came into being without a boat maker, than this is only a boat, how can you believe that the whole world, the universe, the stars, the oceans, and the planets came into being without a creator?”
the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”
“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.”
“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.”
The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop.
Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber:
“You know what? Barbers do not exist.”
“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber.
“I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”
“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”
“Ah, but barbers DO exist! That’s what happens when people do not come to me.”
“Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! That’s what happens when people do not go to Him and don’t look to Him for help. That’s why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”
- A Wise Young Boy and the Three Questions of the Roman Envoy:
Many years ago, during the time of the Tâbi’în (the generation of Muslims after the first generation ‘Sahâbah’), Baghdâd was a great city of Islam. In fact, it was the capital of the Islamic Empire and, because of the great number of scholars who lived there, it was the center of Islamic knowledge.
One day, the ruler of Rome at the time sent an envoy to Baghdad with three challenges for the Muslims. When the messenger reached the city, he informed the Khalîfah that he had three questions which he challenged the Muslims to answer.
The Khalîfah gathered together all the scholars of the city and the Roman messenger climbed upon a high platform and said, “I have come with three questions. If you answer them, then I will leave with you a great amount of wealth which I have brought from the king of Rome.” As for the questions, they were:
1) “What was there before Allâh (swt)?”
2) “In which direction does Allâh (swt) face?”
3) “What is Allâh (swt) engaged in at this moment?”
The great assembly of people were silent. (Can you think of answers to these questions?) In the midst of these brilliant scholars and students of Islam was a man looking on with his young son.
“O my dear father! I will answer him and silence him!” said the youth.
So the boy sought the permission of the Khalîfah to give the answers and he was given the permission to do so.
The Roman addressed the young Muslim and repeated his first question, “What was there before Allâh (swt)?”
The boy asked, “Do you know how to count?”
“Yes,” said the man.
“Then count down from ten!”
So the Roman counted down, “ten, nine, eight, …” until he reached “one” and he stopped counting.
“But what comes before ‘one’?” asked the boy.
“There is nothing before one- that is it!” said the man.
“Well then, if there obviously is nothing before the arithmetic ‘one’, then how do you expect that there should be anything before the ‘One’ who is Absolute Truth, All-Eternal, Everlasting the First, the Last, the Manifest, the Hidden?”
Now the man was surprised by this direct answer which he could not dispute. So he asked, “Then tell me, in which direction is Allâh (swt) facing?”
“Bring a candle and light it,” said the boy, “and tell me in which direction the flame is facing.”
“But the flame is just light- it spreads in each of the four directions,
North, South, East and West. It does not face any one direction only,” said the man in wonderment.
The boy cried, “Then if this physical light spreads in all four directions such that you cannot tell me which way it faces, then what do you expect of the “Nûr us Samâwâti wal ‘Ard”, Allâh (swt) – “the Light of the Heavens and the Earth”!? Light upon Light, Allâh (swt) faces all directions at all times.”
The Roman was stupified and astounded that here was a young child answering his challenges in such a way that he could not argue against the proofs. So, he desperately wanted to try his final question. But before doing so, the boy said,
“Wait! You are the one who is asking the questions and I am the one who is giving the answer to these challenges. It is only fair that you should come down to where I am standing and that I should go up where you are right now, in order that the answers may be heard as clearly as the questions.”
This seemed reasonable to the Roman, so he came down from where he was standing and the boy ascended to the platform. Then the man repeated his final challenge, “Tell me, what is Allâh (swt) doing at this moment?”
The boy proudly answered, “At this moment, when Allâh (swt) found upon this high platform a liar and mocker of Islam, He caused him to descend and brought him low. And as for the one who believed in the Oneness of Allâh (swt), He raised him up and established the Truth. “…Every day He exercises (universal) power” [Al Qur’an – Surah Ar Rahmân (055:029)].”
The Roman had nothing to say except to leave and return back to his country, defeated. Meanwhile, this young boy grew up to become one of the most famous scholars of Islam. Allâh (swt), the Exalted, blessed him with special wisdom and knowledge of the deen. His name was Abu Hanîfah (rahmatullâh ‘alayhi – Allâh (swt) have mercy on him) and he is known today as Imâm-e-A’dham, the Great Imâm and scholar of Islam.
[Adapted into English from “Manâqib Abî Hanîfah” written by Imâm Muwaffaq Ibn Ahmad al-Makki (d. 568 Hijri). Dar al – Kitâb al-‘Arabiy, Beirut, 1981/1401H.]
- Lay the Foundations of Your Paradise Resort In This World:
A highly skilled carpenter who had grown old was ready to retire. He told his employer – contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire.
The employer was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter agreed to this proposal but made sure that this will be his last project. Being in a mood to retire, the carpenter was not paying much attention to building this house. His heart was not in his work. He resorted to poor workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.
When the job was done, the carpenter called his employer and showed him the house. The employer handed over some papers and the front door key to the carpenter and said “This is your house, my gift to you.”
The carpenter was in a shock! What a shame! If he had only known that he was building his own house, he would have made it better than any other house that he ever built!
Our situation can be compared to this carpenter. Allah (swt) has sent us to this World to build our homes in Paradise by obeying His commands and passing His trials. Now, we have to decide how well we wish to build the homes where we will live forever.
وَاتَّقُواْ النَّارَ الَّتِي أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ
Fear the Fire, which is repaired for those who reject Faith:
وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy.
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Imran (003:131-132)]
- The King and the Poor Man:
There was a king who decided to take a tour of his country. As he passed by different places, everyone rushed to see him. However, while passing by a certain place, he noticed a poor old man who did not pay any attention to the king’s arrival and remained engaged in his own activities. The king went up to this poor man and asked why he did not join the people to see him.
The poor man replied:
“Before you, there was another king who once passed by this place. Everyone gathered to see him as well. But, few days later he died and was buried in a place nearby. A poor man also died during that time and was buried near the king’s grave. After some time, a strong flood passed through that area causing those graves to overturn. As a result, the bones of the poor man became mixed up with those of the king’s. We could not differentiate between them any longer. After seeing this, it does not matter to me anymore as to who is a king and who is a beggar. In the end, our home is the same.”
[Narrated by brother Ayyub from Toronto, Canada during one of his lectures.]
- A King and His Four Wives:
Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.
He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.
He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidante and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.
The King’s 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!
One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.” Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?”
“No way!”, replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word.
Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.
The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?”
“No!”, replied the 3rd wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I’m going to remarry!”
His heart sank and turned cold.
He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!”, replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only walk with you to your grave.”
Her answer struck him like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.
Then a voice called out: “I’ll go with you. I’ll follow you no matter where you go.”
The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was very skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect.
Greatly grieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!”
In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives:
Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.
Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.
Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.
And our 1st wife is our Soul. Often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. Cultivate, strengthen, and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us that will follow us to the throne of Allah (swt) and continue with us throughout Eternity.
- A Learned Young Man and A Scholar:
There was a young man who went overseas to study for quite a long time. When he returned, he asked his parents to find him a religious scholar or any expert who could answer his 3 Questions. Finally, his parents were able to find a Muslim scholar.
Young man: Who are you? Can you answer my questions?
Scholar: I am one of Allah’s (swt) slaves and InshaAllah (Allah (swt) willing), I will be able to answer your questions.
Young man: Are you sure? A lot of Professors and experts were not able to answer my questions.
Scholar: I will try my best, with the help of Allah (swt).
Young Man: I have 3 questions:
1. Does God exist? If so, show me His shape.
2. What is “Thaqdir” (fate)?
3. If Shaytan (Devil) was created from the fire, why at the end, he will be thrown to Hell that is also created from fire. It certainly will not hurt him at all, since Shaytan (Devil) and the Hell were created from fire. Did Allah (swt) not think of it this far?
Suddenly, the Scholar slapped the young man’s face very hard.
Young Man (feeling pain): Why do you get angry at me?
Scholar: I am not angry. The slap is my answer to your three questions.
Young Man: I really don’t understand.
Scholar: How do you feel after I slapped you?
Young Man: Of course, I felt the pain.
Scholar: So do you believe that pain exists?
Young Man: Yes.
Scholar: Show me the shape of the pain!
Young Man: I cannot.
Scholar: That is my first answer. All of us feel Allah’s (swt) existence without being able to see His shape… Last night, did you dream that you will be slapped by me?
Young Man: No.
Scholar: Did you ever think that you will get a slap from me, today?
Young Man: No.
Scholar: That is Thaqdir (fate) my second answer…. My hand that I used to slap you, what is it created from?
Young Man: It is created from flesh.
Scholar: How about your face, what is it created from?
Young Man: Flesh.
Scholar: How do you feel after I slapped you?
Young Man: In pain.
Scholar: That is it. This is my third answer, Even though Shaytan (Devil) and also the Hell were created from the fire, if Allah (swt) wants, inshaAllah (Allah (swt) willing), the Hell will become a very painful place for Shaytan.
- The Analogy of Iyas Ibn Mu’awiyah:
A man came to Iyas Ibn Mu’awiyah – a Muslim judge famous for his wisdom, and the following conversation took place between them:
Man: What is the Islamic ruling regarding wine?
Judge: It is Haram (Forbidden).
Man: How about water?
Judge: It is Halal (Permissible).
Man: How about dates and grapes?
Judge: They are Halal.
Man: Why is it that all these ingredients are Halal, and yet when you combine them, they become Haram?
The Judge looked at the man and said: If I hit you with this handful of dirt, do you think it would hurt you?
Man: It would not.
Judge: How about if I hit you with this handful of straw?
Man: It would not hurt me.
Judge: How about a handful of water?
Man: It surely would not hurt me.
Judge: How about if I mix them, and let them dry to become a brick, and then hit you with it, would it hurt you?
Man: It would hurt me and might even kill me!
Judge: The same reasoning applies to what you asked me!