(Being an agnostic means remaining unsettled in the gray area between believing and rejecting the existence of God. There is no direct term, ‘agnostic’ in Islamic terminology, but they belong to the general category of kufr along with atheists, pagans, and people of the book, since all of them deny the existence of the One God, who is the Master and Ruler of the entire creation, who has nothing equal to Him in any of His Names and Attributes of any sort. Islam offers conclusive reasons and proofs, and it directs the agnostics toward the correct perspective of God. This article helps agnostics to explore and discover the identity of God, the Almighty, and how He differs from man-made gods.)
Thomas Huxley was the first person in 1884 to float the term ‘Agnostic’. He meant, “The reality of God is unknown and unknowable.” The Agnostics are divided into three categories:
- Firm agnostic – There is no perfect method of discovering God, nor can anyone perfectly prove that God does not exist. They believe that those who believe in God do it subjectively based on their own feelings and spiritual experiences, whereas objectively it is not possible to prove that God is the creator of the sun and moon since no one has seen God doing it.
- Shaky and weak agnostic – They partly agree with the firm agnostics, but their stand is weak because they say, “If something cannot be proven now, it does not mean it can never be proven.” Thus, they withhold judgment about the existence of God but are open to the discovery of God.
- Apathetic agnostic – They blame God’s lack of response to human suffering so they think God may be there but helpless.
The Qur’an Calls for Surety in Belief
The Qur’an puts ‘surety’ as a condition of sincere belief in God,
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“They believe in what has been revealed to you and what has been revealed before it and they believe in the Day of Standing with surety.” [Surah Baqarah:4]
There is no faith without the surety of things that you do not see but are informed about in the Qur’an.
“They believe in the unseen, offer regular prayers, and spend from what we have given them.” [Surah Al Baqarah:3]
The Qur’an’s Thoughtful Approach to Persuade the Agnostics
The agnostics rightly reject the human forms of god, since every human has a beginning, an end and what lies in between, life is littered with problems, some solvable and others non-solvable. They cry, feel weak and helpless and they need to attend to the call of nature, and these qualities can never be attributed to a supreme creator. But they do not know where and how to discover the real God whom they do not reject.
All three categories of agnostics are asked a few questions by the Qur’an to guide their thoughts in the right direction, seeking proof of God’s existence.
“Were they created by nothing, or did they create their own selves? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? But they are not sure.” [Surah At-Tur: 35-36]
Introduction of a True God With a Parameter to Test Other Candidates for Godship
The Qur’an presents an introduction of Allah with three attributes: Al Khaliq, Al Bari and Al Mussawir. Allah says,
“He is Allah, the Creator (Al Khaliq), the Originator (Al Bari), and the Fashioner (Al Mussawir).” [Surah Al Hashr: 24]
If there were other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion and conflict among the different gods, which can be seen in religions that have multiple gods. As these gods are always vying against one another for power, just as their followers fight one another for power. This reason is also mentioned in the Qur’an for why there has to be only one supreme God,
“Had there been within the heavens and earth gods besides Allah, then they would have been ruined.” [Surah Al Anbiya: 22]
No other religious scriptures can satisfy the intellectual description of God as perfectly as the Qur’an. It presents multiple verses in comparison of Allah with artificial gods, proving that they have no contribution to the creation of the heavens and the earth but are themselves created.
“And those they invoke other than Allah create nothing, and they [themselves] are created.” [Surah An Nahl: 20]
“Those on whom you call besides Allah, cannot create (even) a fly, even though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly snatched away a thing from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought.” [Surah Al Hajj: 73]
The God of the Qur’an insists that He is above all such defects.
“He is Allah, the one and only, the Absolute, the Eternal, He begets not, nor is He begotten. Nor there is to Him any equivalent.” [Surah Ikhlas:1-4]
“It is He who feeds and is not fed.” [Surah Al An’am :14]
Islam Explains the Reasons For Difficulties in Life
Allah is never weak, nor can He be defeated. He is powerful over all things, and this life is merely a test. Allah announces,
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger, and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” [Al Baqarah:155]
The purpose of the test is to reward those who do good and punish evil.
“He created life and death in order to test you, which of you is best in deeds.”
[Surah Al Mulk:2]
Though these tests may appear difficult, the strength to bear them differs from person to person and so each person only receives that as a test which he has the capacity to bear.
“Allah does not charge any soul, except within its capacity.” [Surah Al Baqarah: 286]
“So with every difficulty there is ease; indeed, with every difficulty there is ease.” [Surah Ash-Sharh :5, 6]
Why Do Atrocities Go Unpunished in This World
“Allah does not love the Oppressor.” [Surah Al e Imran:140]
Allah assures the victims of oppression that the wrongdoers have only been given a respite from instant punishment, but it does not mean that Allah is helpless or endorses such crimes; rather, He gives them a chance to correct themselves.
“Do not be deceived by the prosperity of the disbelievers throughout the land, it is but a brief enjoyment, Hell will be their home, an evil place to rest.” [Surah Al e Imran:196-197]
The punishment of such people is not seen or understood by us, but Allah may inflict a mild punishment on them in this life so that they may repent, but if they do not, then they will face severe torment that will commence at the moment of death.
“Until death comes to one of them, he pleads, ‘My Lord! Send me back, that I may do righteous deeds in that which I have left behind.’” [Surah Al Mu’minun: 99-100]
The Punishment Continues in the Life Hereafter
An example of the Pharoah of ancient Egypt, who committed numerous atrocities upon the people of Moses, is given in the Qur’an.
“The Fire, they are exposed to it morning and evening. And the Day the Hour appears [it will be said], ‘Make the people of Pharaoh enter the severest punishment.’” [Surah Al Ghafir: 46]
The punishment is so severe and long-lasting that it cannot match the punishment given in the world. The Qur’an makes mention of it being an endless punishment.
“We will drive them into a Fire. Every time their skins are roasted through, We will replace them with other skins so that they may taste the punishment. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted in Might and Wise.” [Surah Nisa’:56]
The key to finding the true Lord of the universe is to reject all false gods and explore the concept of Allah in the Qur’an. Agnostics have already taken the first step by questioning the existence of God, but they can also find answers in the Qur’an. The Qur’an devotes one-third of its verses to describing the attributes and powers of the Creator, who gives hope to the hopeless and solutions to the problems of humanity.
“Indeed, those who disbelieved and averted [people] from the path of Allah and opposed the Messenger after guidance had become clear to them – never will they harm Allah at all, and He will render worthless their deeds.” [Surah Muhammad:32]