Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1              Spring 1420/ 2000

Books

IFNA

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate Source of All Mercy

Chance or Creation?  
Translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem
          Many times, we wonder.  We wonder silently about our creation and why things are the way they are.  This "wondering" usually revolves around the "why?" question.  Al- Jahiz (AD 776-869), to whom this work is attributed, takes a very basic approach to these inquiries.    
          What's appealing about this text is the manner in which he handles this age old dilemma.  Words like- think, consider, reflect and note present this collection of insightful meanderings in a simple manner.  Such words are action verbs.   They empower the reader.  Al-Jahiz wants you to think about actions and subjects that we may take for granted.  A quick peek at the table of contents illustrates just how simple it can get.  Topics range from The color of the sky and The rising and setting of the sun to Elephant's trunks and Saliva.
          While some may consider this rather sophomoric, we must consider why such a text was written. As stated by Abdel Haleem, the translator, in his introduction: "the Manichaean philosophy spread and by  the latter part of the 8th century they were also seen as real threat to Islam and were in turn targeted by Muslim authors."  This was a time when there were those who saw "only random chance in creation, denying the presence of a Divine power."  How different are things today?
          We are constantly bombarded with ideas that are unIslamic.  This little pocket sized book gets down to the basics by using our natural surroundings to prove that Allah exists.  However, there will always be skeptics.  After we've joyful taken a trip through childhood innocence we are hit with a chapter of Philosophical Arguments.
          Sometimes the best way to explain something is to get to the heart of it.  Sometimes the answers are not some grand image of equations or didactic ramblings.  Sometimes...just sometimes it's best to take a look around at everything that's been given to mankind and say, "Shukrulillah."  Thank you , Allah.

a short excerpt:

Why individuals are not created alike:

       "You may observe a herd of gazelle...and find them so similar.  Human beings, however, seem so different in their shape and appearance.  
       "The reason is that people need to recognize each other by their features and clothing, because of their social interactions.  Few of such interactions take place between animals
." 

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