An overview of arguments presented by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad(ra) in his Book titled ‘Hasti Bari Ta’ala‘ [The Existence of God]
It cannot be denied that belief in God is fast disappearing, especially in Western nations. It is quite fashionable to be an atheist in high school and university. In fact, in many universities, it has now become the norm. This makes it all the more important to understand the arguments for the existence of God so that a seeker of truth can begin their journey towards communion with God.
At the occasion of Jalsa Salana 1921, The Second Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad(ra) delivered a wonderful speech entitled, Hasti Bari Ta‘ala (Existence of God Almighty). In the speech, he adequately laid out the case for the need of believing in God, comprehensively explained eight powerful arguments for the existence of God, and responded to several allegations that people make against these arguments. It is a truly marvelous, well-researched speech that sufficiently addresses the topic. This article makes an attempt to briefly introduce these arguments as presented by the Second Caliph(ra).
Why believe in God?
Before studying the arguments for the existence of God, it is important to understand the need for belief in a Supreme Being. Many people claim to lead happy, enjoyable lives and express their lack of interest in making the effort to investigate the existence of such a being. In fact, many would dismiss any discussion about God at the outset because they would see it as a futile exercise.
In response to this question, the Second Caliph(ra) first asserts that belief in God is necessary simply because God does exist. When we believe in the existence of other things that do indeed exist, why make the exception for God? We do not question the necessity to believe in many other things whose existence we believe in, nor do we inquire about the benefits of believing in them. Scientists investigate the existence of so many things only to increase their knowledge and understanding of the world we live in. Extraordinary efforts are made to investigate the existence of the smallest particles of the universe. Why not make similar efforts to investigate—at the very least—the existence of a Being Who is the Creator and Sustainer of everything?
Another point made by the Second Caliph(ra) is that investigating the existence of God leads to greater understanding of the workings of our world. By finding out more about God, much progress is made in different fields of knowledge. In other words, the simple exercise of investigation leads to greater truths. Similarly, the question is not whether we should investigate the existence of God, because we are not the ones who began this investigation. Instead, it is God Who sends His messengers and directs our attention towards Himself. Since this question has been brought to our attention by these messengers—who brought in a way that we cannot oversee it—we have to analyze it and seek answers.
Argument #1: Universal Belief in a Supreme Being
Coming back to the topic at hand, the first argument that is given by the Second Caliph(ra) is that God’s existence should be accepted because it is a commonly held belief. Every nation believes in the existence of a Supreme Being. Even some prominent atheists have written that a thing which is accepted by the entire world cannot be completely wrong. It must have some reality to it. In this regard, the Holy Qur’an states [35:25]:
وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ اُمَّۃٍ اِلَّا خَلَا فِیۡہَا نَذِیۡرٌ
That is, every nation received a “warner” or a messenger from God. In other words, every nation has had its share of people who called it towards God Almighty, causing the belief in God to become widespread, and that is enough of a reason for us to hold this belief as well.
Argument #2: Need for an Independent Being
The second argument for the existence of God is found in the third verse of chapter 112 of the Holy Qur’an, which states:
These words mean that Allah is the Only Being Who is perfect. Samad is an attribute of Allah which means that He is not dependent upon anyone else for existence, and all other forms of existence are dependent upon Him for their existence. The proof of this argument can be found everywhere in the world. There is nothing in the world which is perfect in itself. Everything requires something else for its existence, and cannot sustain itself without them. This dependency demonstrates that the world cannot sustain itself and needs a completely Independent Being Who can run it, which is God.
Argument #3: Evolution
It is usually assumed that the process of evolution refutes belief in a Creator of the universe. However, the Second Caliph(ra) writes that this process in fact refutes atheism. This is because all researchers of this field agree that everything progressed and developed and ‘natural’ selection played its part in the survival of the fittest until the birth of the intelligent species of man. At this point, the physical process of evolution has ended and only the progress of human understanding and intellect has continued. From the Islamic perspective, this is an excellent proof of the existence of God. If nature had been the creator of humans then this process of evolution would have continued and human beings would have evolved into some other form of creation. It is obvious that the objective of this entire process was the birth of man and this objective could not have been set by nature. It must have been set by a Supreme Intelligent Being.
Argument #4: Cause and Effect
A common argument for the existence of God is that of cause and effect. The Second Caliph(ra) narrates that once there was a philosopher who met an illiterate Bedouin. The philosopher asked him, “Do you believe in God?” He said, “Yes I do”. He then asked, “What proof do you have for the existence of God?” He said:
اَلْبَعْرَۃُ تَدُلُّ علی الْبَعِیْرِ و اٰثَارُ الاَقْدَامِ علی السَّفِیْرِ وَ السَّمَآءُ ذَاتُ البُروجِ والارضُ ذَاتُ الفِجَاجِ کَیفَ لا تَدُلُّ علی الّطِیفِ الخَبِیرِ
Excrement is a proof for the [existence of] camels and tracks of footsteps is a proof of the presence of a traveller; why then is the sky full of stars and the earth full of pathways not a proof of the existence of God – the Incomprehensible, the Wise?
This is a common argument that has been given for the existence of God since ancient times. Even though many allegations have been made against it, it is still essentially correct, as the Holy Qur’an also states:
اَفِی اللّٰہِ شَکٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ
Are you in doubt concerning Allah, Maker of the heavens and the earth? [14:11]
Argument #5: Complexity and Design of the Universe
The fifth argument given by the Second Caliph(ra) is actually an extension of the fourth argument. Whereas in the fourth argument, the existence of God is proven based on the existence of the universe, the fifth argument proves the existence of God based on the design or organization of the world. There are numerous planets and stars in the universe, each with its own ‘tasks’ and ‘rules’ to which it abides. Suppose that man came into being on his own. How do we then assume that the entire world was automatically built in accordance with the needs of man? Take the example of the human eye. In order for the eye to function properly, we find the presence of a sun 149,600,000 km away!! Without the sun, human beings would not have been able to use their eyes for any good purpose. How can such a perfect order and design result from chaos? Such a vast, intricate system cannot come into existence without a Supreme, All-Powerful Being Who is the Knower of the Unseen. The probability of the existence of such a complex universe is so infinitely small that it would be considered virtually impossible without the existence of a Designer, that is, God. This same argument is presented in the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
تَبٰرَکَ الَّذِیۡ بِیَدِہِ الۡمُلۡکُ ۫ وَ ہُوَ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرُ ۣۙ﴿۲﴾
الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ الۡمَوۡتَ وَ الۡحَیٰوۃَ لِیَبۡلُوَکُمۡ اَیُّکُمۡ اَحۡسَنُ عَمَلًا ؕ وَ ہُوَ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡغَفُوۡرُ ۙ﴿۳﴾
الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ سَبۡعَ سَمٰوٰتٍ طِبَاقًا ؕ مَا تَرٰی فِیۡ خَلۡقِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ مِنۡ تَفٰوُتٍ ؕ فَارۡجِعِ الۡبَصَرَ ۙ ہَلۡ تَرٰی مِنۡ فُطُوۡرٍ ﴿۴﴾
ثُمَّ ارۡجِعِ الۡبَصَرَ کَرَّتَیۡنِ یَنۡقَلِبۡ اِلَیۡکَ الۡبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَّ ہُوَ حَسِیۡرٌ ﴿۵﴾
[67:2] Blessed is He in Whose hand is the kingdom, and He has power over all things;
[67:3] Who has created death and life that He might try you — which of you is best in deeds; and He is the Mighty, the Most Forgiving.
[67:4] Who has created seven heavens in harmony. No incongruity canst thou see in the creation of the Gracious God. Then look again: Seest thou any flaw?
[67:5] Aye, look again, and yet again, thy sight will only return unto thee confused and fatigued.
Argument #6: Morality
The sixth argument is given in the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
لَاۤ اُقۡسِمُ بِیَوۡمِ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ ۙ﴿۲﴾
وَ لَاۤ اُقۡسِمُ بِالنَّفۡسِ اللَّوَّامَۃِ ؕ﴿۳﴾
[75:2] Nay! I call to witness the Day of Resurrection.
[75:3] And I do call to witness the self accusing soul, that the Day of Judgment is a certainty.
The fact that there is a conscience in every human being, which causes a person to regret committing any form of evil, is another strong proof of the existence of God. Otherwise, such a repulsion of evil would not have existed in his heart. Instead, he would have freely done whatever he wills. Therefore, this knowledge of good and evil has actually been placed in the hearts of men by God in order to direct their attention towards Himself.
Argument #7: Testimony
The seventh argument for the existence of God as discussed by the Second Caliph(ra) is that of testimony. This is actually something that is used to pass judgment in almost all walks of life. Whatever a person believes in, and whatever he accepts to be true, is based on testimony, and very rarely on personal experience. A large portion of different forms of knowledge such as medicine, engineering, astronomy, and so on, is accepted based on testimony. Some people experience certain things, and others base their research on the testimony of such people. If a large group of truthful, pious people give the testimony that they have seen a thing or found something to exist, then such a testimony must be accepted. In this case, great men like Abraham(as), Moses(as), Jesus(as), David(as), Solomon(as), and the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) all bear witness that God exists.
Argument #8: The Greatest Argument
All the arguments discussed so far only prove the existence of God in the philosophical or intellectual sense, and the human mind can always make errors. The eighth argument, however, directs our attention towards a new series of arguments, which are related to observation and this removes the possibility of error.
It must be remembered that Allah the Exalted has not given us one or two, or five or six, or even ten or twenty proofs of His existence. Instead, He has given us hundreds of arguments and proofs. In fact, every attribute of Allah is a proof of His existence. For the sake of brevity, let us take just two examples. The first example is that of the attribute, Al-Aziz (The Mighty). If we see the impact of this attribute of Allah, it will tell us that there is a God Who is Al-Aziz. Regarding this attribute, Allah says:
کَتَبَ اللّٰہُ لَاَغۡلِبَنَّ اَنَا وَ رُسُلِیۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ قَوِیٌّ عَزِیۡزٌ ﴿۲۲﴾
[58:22] Allah has decreed: ‘Most surely I will prevail, I and My Messengers.’ Verily, Allah is Powerful, Mighty.
On the one hand, we see that Allah the Exalted is promising that He surely makes His Messengers prevail. On the other hand, we notice that a Messenger of His is almost always selected from among those who are weak and powerless. When we look at the situation in which the Holy Prophet(sa) rose up with his claim of being a Messenger of God and then eventually became the ruler of Arabia, we are obliged to concede that he could not have done it without divine help. He did not have any power, influence, wealth, or knowledge, not even the ability to read and write! Then, when he made his claims, it seems that the whole world turned against him. However, the result of all this was that he eventually entered Mecca with 10,000 men! This proves that there is a God Who supported him and protected him, and eventually enabled him to succeed and gain dominance over all of his enemies.
The second example is that of the attribute, Al-Mujib (One Who accepts prayers). Nearly every believer in the world can bear witness to the fact that he or she prayed to God and He accepted his or her prayers. In fact, on many occasions, due to a humble man’s prayers, God does things that seem completely impossible! When we study the life of the Promised Messiah(as), we see so many incredible examples of the acceptance of his prayers that they leave no doubt in the existence of God. Consider the following example recorded in Tadhkirah:
‘Abdur-Rahim, the youngest son of our respected Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan, fell seriously ill of a fever which continued for a fortnight. His senses were disturbed, he experienced episodes of faintness, and finally he began to experience burning sensations… The Promised Messiah, may peace and blessings be on him, was requested every day to pray and he was continuously praying for him. On October 25 , the Promised Messiah(as) was told with great agony that his life was almost despaired of. His compassionate and merciful self was praying for him in tahajjud when it was disclosed to him in a divine revelation that:
تقدیر مبرم ہے اور ہلاکت مقدّر
[Urdu] The decree is unchangeable and his death had been decreed.
…The Promised Messiah(as) said: I was severely distressed at this awe-striking revelation and quite involuntarily the words escaped my lips: O Allah, if there is no time left for supplication, I beg to intercede, for there is time for intercession. Immediately thereafter, I received the revelation:
[Arabic] Whoever is in the heavens, and whoever is in the earth, glorifies Him. Who is it that will intercede with Him except by His permission?
This majestic revelation made me tremble and I was struck with fear and awe that I had interceded without leave. One or two minutes later I received the revelation:
That is [Arabic] You have permission.
Thereafter, ‘Abdur-Rahim made a recovery stage by stage and whoever looked at him was filled with gratitude to God Almighty and admitted that one who was dead had no doubt been brought back to life.
I am pretty sure that each and every one of us who has tried to pray can give numerous examples of how their prayers were accepted. At times, we are faced with extraordinary trials and we turn to prayer and Allah miraculously brings us out of a bad situation. At times, we are in need of a very small thing so we turn to prayer and are provided it in ways that we cannot understand. This is an incredible proof of the existence of God Almighty and it is only based on one single attribute of Allah. If we think about the impact of any other attribute of Allah, we will see that each one of His attributes provides us numerous proofs of His existence. As such, this no longer remains a single argument for the existence of God, but the argument or a set of infinite arguments based on the innumerable attributes of God.
 Hasti Bari Ta‘ala, Hazrat Musleh Mau‘ud(ra), Anwarul Ulum, volume 6, page 272
 Ibid., page 273
 Ibid., page 274
 Ibid., page 286
 Ibid., pages 287-8
 Ibid., page 290
 Ibid., pages 294-5
 Ibid., page 301
 Ibid., page 304
 Ibid., pages 307-8
 Ibid., page 311
 Ibid., page 312
 Ibid., page 313
 Ibid., page 322
 Tadhkirah, 2009, page 642-643