By MuslimAnswers.net Team
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
We found the following light-hearted hypothetical scenario presented by a self-declared agnostic, and we believe it is important to present it and address the problems inherent in such an exposition. The agnostic said:
I was once asked …
“In what way would a God need to reveal Godself to you in order for you to believe that a God exists? Secondly … if you were God, how would you reveal yourself to the people of the world?”
If we’re at the Redskins game next Sunday, and the sky suddenly lights up around 11 o’clock … and some fellow who looks like Chuck Heston with a face a dozen times the size of the Moon appears … or some form of entity never before seen around these parts manifests Itself … and each of the 90,000 fellow humans around us in the stadium perceive It as we do … and we all perceive It as It begins communicating how It feels about us, or sharing insight on how The Whole Thing Works or some other Really Big Thing … and then perhaps rearranges a constellation or two while we all watch agog (you know, just to show us It’s serious) … and when we all wake up the next morning the whole thing is in all the papers and on the news and by golly there’s the film and sound and everything … and all the subsequent frenzied digging by all the world’s best scientists and all the world’s best investigative media reveal that no, we were not in fact all going through some mass psychosis, or suffering a drug-induced mass hallucination due to a bad strain of grain and that yes, in fact this thing really did happen … and oh by the way, the Big Dipper now looked like a Smiley Face instead of a spoon … then yeah.
Putting aside the many references to popular culture and mild jokes being presented above, what is interesting in this description is that the agnostic/skeptic is still tied to the Christian-centered view of how God “manifested Himself in human form” on Earth.
This is a most unfortunate scenario, since what is true (and what is the Muslims’ firm belief) is that Allah is not a body, He is not part of the creation and He does not exist within the creation, nor does He change from one state to the other; all of these are impossible to be attributed to Allah, since in that case He would be just another creature from among the creation, may Allah save us from such a belief.
However, what is jokingly described above is merely a variation of the Christians’ view of how God supposedly manifested Himself in this world. The skeptic is merely saying that he does not know for certain that God manifested Himself in the way Christians claim it occurred (since the historical claim is suspect for him), and that he would only believe if he and thousands of people with him witnessed an event similar to what Christians claim occurred when God supposedly took the form of a man. This is where the “investigative media” and the “world’s best scientists” come into the picture, since they serve to corroborate the vision and to rule out any “natural causes” for such an amazing vision.
However, the Muslim would say that even if a being did come and fit the description given above, we would still be forced to say that such a being was something other than Allah. Briefly, this is because the intrinsic nature of a being with a finite length, size, etc., necessitates a specificier other than the being itself, who would bring about/create the details such lengths and dimensions. Yes, Allah definitely exists, but it is not the being described above by the agnostic, regardless of any other factors (such as immediate changes to galaxies and constellations, etc.).
Now, once we know of the impossibility of God manifesting Himself in human form, the Muslim points out that Allah does send certain elect people to convey His Message from time to time. The Islamic religion calls such people Prophets and Messengers, and such people are given wonders which cannot be matched by their opponents – something which in Islamic terminology is called a Mu’jizah (translated as miracle but the Arabic term conveys the important meaning that those who oppose the Messenger are utterly unable to reproduce the same amazing feat which the Prophet or Messenger has been given), so that all the people who hear and see the Prophet may be rationally convinced regarding the truth of the Prophet’s claim.
The Muslim knows and believes that Muhammad ﷺ was given a very long list of visible miracles just like the miracles of the past Prophets. In addition to this, he was given the glorious Qur’an, which is a truly unique miracle, since it is a recited miracle which is still accessible to us today, while all the other great feats and miracles of the past Prophets are not accessible to us anymore, and their truthfulness is totally a matter of belief and historical transmission rather than an experience that can be accessed by anyone in the world today.
The Muslim can discuss about the issue of Prophets and Messengers and how Allah makes His Message known to mankind through these elect persons, but all incorrect and wild ideas about how God can or should manifest Himself have to be dropped before any fruitful discussion can be had about this topic.