A Refutation of Naturalists
by Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah
Men & The Universe - Reflections of Ibn Al-Qayyem
Who was it who managed all that, perfected it, directed it and controlled it in the best way?
Someone might, if he were one of the depraved, say: "it is the work of nature; there are wonderful things in nature." To such a debater we say: if Allah had let your heart, you would yourself have refuted such a statement by replying: "Tell me about this nature, is it self-sustained, having knowledge, and having the ability to contrive those wonders? Or is it not? Is it not rather just an abstract quality and a display of the visible things around?" If the answer occurs to you: It is an independent entity with full knowledge, ability, will and wisdom," say: What you describe is the Creator, the Author and Shaper, so why do you call Him nature? Forget about what he naturalists dictate and turn to what Allah has taught humans to call Him in the words of His messengers, and if you do you will be one of the happy and wise folk. Why attribute to nature the attributes that belong to Allah?
If, on the other hand, the adversary says: "Nature is an abstract quality, a display in need of an agent, and all that we witness of its accomplishments s brought about without nature having knowledge, will, ability, or even the mere consciousness of what it is producing. All that we see is evidence of nature's achievements;" then the reply should be that no sane person would accept this reasoning. Do you really believe that the amazing actions and subtle contrivances that we see in this world, that no mind can fathom o fully appreciate, are made by an agent that itself has no thinking, ability, wisdom or feeling? Would anyone believe such reasoning but a madman or an animal?
You may further add: "If what you claim were true, I would be clear that such an abstract quality cannot have created itself or originated itself, so who is its Lord, Maker and Originator? Who enabled it to do all that? This logic is a most decisive piece of evidence in favor of believing in the Originator and Maker of nature, in the infinity of His ability, knowledge and wisdom. Indeed, this group has gained nothing by denying the Lord and His Attributes and Actions. They merely abolish the intellect and innate intuition. Nature itself would discredit such logic: it in fact contradicts mind, innate intuition, nature and even humanity, and it has caused the most ignorant and deluded attitudes that one can cause. If one does concede what the mind dictates and admits that it is not possible to have wise effects without the agency of a wise, able and knowing entity; that it is not possible to have well-controlled effects without here being a maker who is able, autonomous, in control of things, aware of what he is doing, not frustrated or overwhelmed by what he is doing - if one concedes that much then the right answer to such a person would be: What is the matter with you? When you accept the necessity of a great Creator beside whom no other god exists, and no other lord, stop calling Him nature or the 'self-active mind' or such appellations. Say instead: What I describe is Allah, the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper, Lord of the Worlds, Sustainer of the heavens and the earth, Lord of the east and the west, He who made excellent all that He created, and perfected what He crafted. Do not deny His Names and Attributes and Self and attribute His making to another and His creation to someone else. You have to concede His existence, and attribute to Him authorship, creation, lordship and control. There is no other way, praised is Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
The Meaning of Nature
By reconsidering the word 'nature' in this context, you will be led directly to the Creator, the Originator, as the common mind understands the word. That is because this word 'nature' (Arabic: tabee`ah) means that something was made by someone to behave according to a preset plan, and there is no other meaning at all. He word 'nature' is of the same class of words as 'instinct', 'disposition', 'temperament', 'an animal's or a human's nature', and the like. An animal has been made to react to stimuli, a reaction which is ingrained in it. It is self-evident that a 'nature' without a 'nature-maker' is impossibility: The very word, then, points to the Maker, the Almighty, just as its meaning indicates. Muslims believe that nature is one of Allah's creations, that it is under control, tamed and that this is part of His law operative among His creations; that He manages it the way He wills, and when He wills, so that He may deny it any aspect of its power when He wills, and reverse any of its effects when He wills, so that His servants may see that He alone is the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper, and that He creates whatever He wills, and in the way He wills. This is the meaning of the following verse from the Qur'an:
"But His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says unto it: Be! and it is." (36:82)
Nature, which his the utmost that those short-sighted lot can perceive, is no more than a creature of the Lord, equal in that to any of His creations. Considering this, how would a human, with the least bit of humanity or thinking, be blind to its being made to behave as it behaves, and how would he attribute to it making and originating! Time and again Allah halts its power, alters it and reverses it, so that it does the opposite of what it originally did, all to illustrate to His servants that it is His creation and making, that it is controlled by Him. That much can be supported by this verse from the Qur'an:
"His verily is all creation and commandment; blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds" (7:54)