By Shaykh al-Azhar `Abdul Halīm Mahmūd
Translated by Muhammad William Charles
Imagine a house whose rooms are well provided with luxurious furniture, standing on a high mountain surrounded by a thick forest; suppose that a man came across this house, but could not find anybody nearby. Suppose that he thought that the rocks from the mountain had been scattered around, and then automatically collected together to take the shape of this splendid palace with its bedrooms, chambers, corridors, and fittings, that the trees in the wood had split of their own accord into boards, and formed themselves into doors and beds, seats and tables, each taking its place in the palace; that the fibers from the plants and wool and hair of the animals of their own accord had changed into embroidered cloth, and then were cut into carpets, pillows, and cushions, and dispersed about the rooms and settled onto sofas and chairs; that lamps and chandeliers by themselves had fallen into this palace from all directions and fixed themselves into the ceilings, singly and in groups; would you not conclude that this must be a dream or a legend, or the reasoning of someone disturbed in his mind?
What, then, do you think of a palace whose ceiling is the sky, whose floor is the earth, whose pillars are the mountains, whose ornamentation is the plants, and whose lamps are the stars, moon, and sun? In the correct judgment of the intellect, can it be of lesser importance than this house? Is it not more likely to direct the attention and mind to a Shaping Creator, Alive, Self-Subsistent, Who created and shaped, and Who determined and guided?
And do you think that if a man brought millions of printing letters and began to move them around day after day, week after week, year after year, that he would obtain from them by chance, a composition which is a book of literature, philosophy, or mathematics?
As the Orientalist David Santillana said, even after moving them around for generations, after all his toil he would still be left with individual letters. If this is so, as Santillana continues, how can we imagine that this universe, with the perfection and harmony between its individual parts and their amazing compatibility with each other, could ever have come about through random movement in a limitless void, as the materialists imagine? There is no doubt that rational people would agree with Aristotle that ‘Every order bespeaks the intelligence behind it.’
The above manner of demonstration [that is, the cosmological proof] is the method which Kant, the greatest philosopher of Germany (2), declared to be the clearest and strongest proof of the existence of God.
1) Existence of God: Abd al-Halīm Mahmīd, The Creed of Islām, by (Lahore: Suhail Academy, 1981, reprint), p. 33-34.
2) Sabri Efendī, the Grand Muftī of the Ottoman Empire just before its collapse, in his masterly work on theology, al-fasl, regarded Kant to be the greatest European philosopher after the Renaissance.