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Last Updated: 2012/01/15
Summary of question
Who is God? Why have I not become God? Why do I always have to be weaker, inferior and less knowledgeable than God?
I have been married for two months. It has been almost eight months that I have been suffering from a mental-psychological hardship in my faith. Before this issue I was an extremely religious person but unfortunately eight months ago a few questions sparked in my mind that have destroyed my life and are making me go crazy and depressed and resort to suicide. Questions such as: Who is God? Why have I not become God? Why do I always have to be weaker, inferior and less knowledgeable than God, even after death and in the hereafter I will still have to obey his commands? Why don’t I have complete and independent control of myself; all of my actions, sitting, standing, eating, sleeping etc., are all done by God’s will? Please help me. I direly request that if you know of any ayah, supplication or anything else that will disperse these evil thoughts away and take me back to the same beliefs I had before this period, please inform me; because I cannot return to my previous state of thought by simply ignoring them. A miracle must take place in order for it happen and I have begged God but so far nothing has happened.
Concise answer

Doubt and skepticism in the sphere of beliefs is a spiritual illness and will endanger the spiritual and mental health of the individual and society; therefore it must be carefully cured. However doubt and skepticism in faith is a sign of intellectual growth and maturity; in this case it is easier to cure and nothing to be afraid of. Another important point is that concern and anxiety over the emergence of doubt and skepticism in the sphere of beliefs proves the health and security of the conscience and soul whereas the traditions explain that this anxiety rises from pure faith. Now about the question of who is God?, everybody presumably has a perception of who God is, meaning the all-knowing and omnipotent being in their minds. It seems as though the objection of why I haven’t become God Almighty, why am I always weaker than and inferior to God, stems from the ambition to be godlike and the nature of absolutism imbedded in our souls which has been discussed and given great attention to within the texts of the religion of Islam. In qudsi traditions we read that man can acquire divine qualities by being obedient.

Detailed Answer

In order to answer this question we must initially note a few points:

1. There are two different kinds of doubts and skepticism in beliefs, first, initial and temporary doubts, which are the grounds for achieving certainty and second, permanent and continuous doubts. Permanent doubts are diagnosed as spiritual illness and will endanger the spiritual and mental health of the individual and society; therefore they must be carefully cured. The same way knowledge and certainty ease and calm one’s heart and allow him to proceed and make progress, doubt and skepticism create anxiety and anguish and are obstacles to development. This is why doubt is treated as equal to shirk (polytheism)[1], as Islamic philosophers have struggled to efface skepticism as the priority of their scientific and philosophical works and battle with this illness with the craft of thought and idea to intellectually secure the society.[2]

However, preliminary doubts which prepare the grounds for certainty aren’t considered to be bad, as a matter of fact it shows the maturity and intellectual growth of a person. The same way physical maturity, in other words puberty, takes place at the age of 15, intellectual maturity starts at the age of 15 and approximately becomes complete at the age of 40. Mulla Sadra believes that initially materialistic and physical aspects emerge and strengthen, but spiritual and intellectual aspects start to grow and strengthen after the growth of physical aspects.[3]

It appears that the reason as to why most teenagers encounter doubts and become skeptical at the age of puberty is this very issue; that is that at the age of puberty, the mind starts its activity but has never been used to such a thing and has simply been in association with materialistic aspects of life and therefore is incapable of deeply understanding them. At the age of puberty, when the intellect starts to mature, one may attempt to understand the depth of his beliefs and as a result numerous new questions will pose themselves. Although, this doesn’t mean that this kind of skepticism is essentially encouraged, but it does mean that one should not be afraid of and terrified by it but instead should cure it carefully.

In any case, this type of skepticism has not been scorned, as a matter of fact if it is managed carefully it is good grounding for acquiring certainty. The best way to manage this matter is to be under the close care and in relation with experienced teachers and religious scholars.

A prominent point to be noted is that the emergence of anxiety and concern in the face of the appearance of doubt proves the health of the soul and has actually been regarded as the sign of pure faith. A man once confronted the Prophet (S.A.) and said: Oh Messenger of Allah (S.A.), I am doomed. The Prophet asked: “Did Satan come and ask you who created you? And you said Allah and then once again asked, who created Allah?!” The man said: “Yes, Oh Messenger of Allah”. Then the Prophet responded: “This is sheer faith”.[4]

2. Regarding the question: Who is God?, everybody has a perception and idea of what God, the all-knowing and omnipotent being is.

For more information, please refer to question number 479 (site: 520), with the index: Knowing God.

3. It seems as though the origin of questioning why I haven’t become God, and why am I always weaker and inferior to him, is because of the ambition to be godlike and the desire of absolutism imbedded in our souls which portrays the vast capability of the human beings who are not limited creatures like every other creature.

In the clear religion of Islam, great attention has been devoted to the greatness and absolute seeking conscience of mankind. First of all: the wrong paths for reaching absolute truth have been presented and in the traditions received from the imams (A.S.), we see that the first obstacle for the prosperity of the soul is pride and arrogance before the truth.[5] Second of all: the straight paths towards the absolute truth have also been presented; as we read in qudsi hadiths that man can acquire divine attributes through sheer obedience.[6] To put this in better words, the essential value of a human being is so high that nothing is worthy of filling his heart but God; solely by remembrance of God does the heart set at ease.[7] This is why Imam Ali (A.S.), the leader of mystics says in his supplication to Allah: “It is enough honor to me to be your humble servant and it is enough pride to me that You are my God. You are as I like, so make me as You like”.[8]

We are from above and we will return to the top

We are from the sea and we will return to the sea

We are not from here and not from there

We are from nowhere and we will return to nowhere

You have read “we will return to Him”

So you know to where we will go.[9]

[1] Kuleini, Kāfī, vol. 2, pg. 129, “عَنْ سُفْیَانَ بْنِ عُیَیْنَةَ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع وَ هُوَ یَقُولُ کُلُّ قَلْبٍ فِیهِ شَکٌّ أَوْ شِرْکٌ فَهُوَ سَاقِطٌ”.

[2] Hasan Zadeh Amoli, Hasan, Ma’refate Nafs, vol. 1, pp. 5-12, Scholarly and Cultural Publications Center, 1983, no place.

[3] Mulla Sadra, Asfar, vol. 9, pg. 93. The first characteristic that develops in one’s nafs is one of carnality. In the child, desires and filling the stomach are dominant. Then comes fierceness, which is the cause of domination, animosity and arguments, followed by the Satanic characteristic which leads to one being deceptive and sly. After all of this, the mind which brings about the light of faith and is a confederate of Allah (swt) and of the army of the angels is created. This facility of the mind begins to grow from the beginning of puberty and culminates at the age of forty, but the army of Satan has already situated itself in the heart before puberty and has taken it over and the nafs becomes fond of it and is free in following it in its desires. However, at puberty when the army of the mind begins to grow, a battle breaks out in the field of the heart, if the mind is weak, Satan will prevail, and this individual will eventually be of his army and will resurrected with them on the Day of Judgment. [On the other hand], if the mind, through the light of knowledge and faith, strengthens, it will overtake all other facilities, making the individual as high as the angels, causing him to be resurrected with them.

[4] Kuleini, Kāfī, vol. 2, pg. 425, fourth edition, Daar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, 1986. “ابْنُ أَبِی عُمَیْرٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُسْلِمٍ عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى النَّبِیِّ ص فَقَالَ یَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ هَلَکْتُ فَقَالَ لَهُ ع أَتَاکَ الْخَبِیثُ فَقَالَ لَکَ مَنْ خَلَقَکَ فَقُلْتَ اللَّهُ فَقَالَ لَکَ اللَّهُ مَنْ خَلَقَهُ فَقَالَ إِی وَ الَّذِی بَعَثَکَ بِالْحَقِّ لَکَانَ کَذَا فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص ذَاکَ وَ اللَّهِ مَحْضُ الْإِیمَانِ

[5] Kuleini, Kāfī, vol. 2, pg. 122, “عَلِیُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِیمَ عَنْ أَبِیهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِی عُمَیْرٍ عَنْ مُعَاوِیَةَ بْنِ عَمَّارٍ عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ سَمِعْتُهُ یَقُولُ إِنَّ فِی السَّمَاءِ مَلَکَیْنِ مُوَکَّلَیْنِ بِالْعِبَادِ فَمَنْ تَوَاضَعَ لِلَّهِ رَفَعَاهُ وَ مَنْ تَکَبَّرَ وَضَعَاهُ”. Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 13, pg. 429, al-Wafa’ Institute, Beirut, 1404 AH “أَنَّ لُقْمَانَ الْحَکِیم قال: ...یَا بُنَیَّ وَیْلٌ لِمَنْ تَجَبَّرَ وَ تَکَبَّرَ کَیْفَ یَتَعَظَّمُ مَنْ خُلِقَ مِنْ طِینٍ وَ إِلَى طِینٍ یَعُودُ ثُمَّ لَا یَدْرِی إِلَى مَا یَصِیرُ إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ فَقَدْ فَازَ أَوْ إِلَى النَّارِ فَقَدْ خَسِرَ خُسْرَاناً مُبِیناً وَ خَابَ وَ یُرْوَى کَیْفَ یَتَجَبَّرُ مَنْ قَدْ جَرَى فِی مَجْرَى الْبَوْلِ مَرَّتَیْنِ”.

[6] Noori, Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 11, pg. 259, Aal al-Bayt Institute, Qum 1408 AH, “الدَّیْلَمِیُّ فِی إِرْشَادِ الْقُلُوبِ، رُوِیَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى یَقُولُ فِی بَعْضِ کُتُبِهِ یَا ابْنَ آدَمَ أَنَا حَیٌّ لَا أَمُوتُ أَطِعْنِی فِیمَا أَمَرْتُکَ حَتَّى أَجْعَلَکَ حَیّاً لَا تَمُوتُ یَا ابْنَ آدَمَ أَنَا أَقُولُ لِلشَّیْ‏ءِ کُنْ فَیَکُونُ أَطِعْنِی فِیمَا أَمَرْتُکَ أَجْعَلْکَ تَقُولُ لِلشَّیْ‏ءِ کُنْ فَیَکُونُ ”.

[7] Ra’d:28 “الَّذینَ آمَنُوا وَ تَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِکْرِ اللَّهِ أَلا بِذِکْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ”.

[8]إِلَهِی کَفَى بِی عِزّاً أَنْ أَکُونَ لَکَ عَبْداً وَ کَفَى بِی فَخْراً أَنْ تَکُونَ لِی رَبّاً أَنْتَ کَمَا أُحِبُّ فَاجْعَلْنِی کَمَا تُحِب”. Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, pg. 402.

[9] Mathnawi Mowlavi.

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