Since the beginning of time, many have tried to convince the sceptics that some form of divine existence is a reality. Whether it be Allah, Jesus, Brahma, the God of Classical Theism or any other deity, many arguments have been postulated yet those same arguments are often countered and rendered null and void. In an era where atheism is on the rise, it is becoming ever so difficult to convince that there exists a God that created and governs the universe. Only science and empirical evidence will convince some people that God exists and we live in a culture where belief in God is almost equated to having some form of mental illness. Just how can you categorically prove God exists?
There is St. Thomas Aquinas’ Cosmological Argument that argues we observe cause and effect in the universe all around us. Therefore, we can safely assume that every single effect must have a cause. When applying this to the universe, the cause of the universe must be an external being that put everything into motion, put everything else into existence and upon which all existence is dependent. This ‘First Cause’, ‘Prime Mover’, ‘Necessary Existence’ must be God; in the same way a line of dominoes has to have someone or something that pushed it to make it fall. Although the argument holds weight, many accuse the argument of being contradictory – it rests on the idea that everything has a cause, but when it comes to God, He is is defined as uncaused. God does not exist.
There is then the Design Argument that says that the universe appears so complex and perfect, there must have been a designer. We are far enough from the sun to get efficient heat and light but not close enough to get scorched. William Paley used the example of a pocket-watch that is so complex and works in perfect harmony with the springs and cogs interacting with each other in tandem; the watch must have a watchmaker. The universe we live in is much more complex than a watch and must also have a designer. This designer must be God. Yes, the design of the universe can be wonderful but aren’t we picking and choosing? God designed the wonderful landscapes and islands that we see pictures of on postcards but did He really design, as Sir David Attenborough said, a worm whose only way of living is to dig through the eye socket of a human being, eventually blinding them? If the universe was intelligently designed, an atheist would argue, then the designer did not do a good job. God does not exist.
In addition to the classic philosophical arguments for God, people also try to prove His existence through personal, spiritual encounters such as prayer, numinous religious experiences and miracles. These can all be debunked through psychological explanations and mere old-folk tales that are passed down by superstitious people. So what argument can be used to prove the existence of God? There is one argument that could prove God’s existence in a flawless manner that has no contradictions, no weaknesses and no response. It is the Ali ibn Abu Talib Argument.
One way I know God exists; was on 19th of Ramadan.
On 19th Ramadan, a man was struck by his killer whilst prostrating during prayer.
The first thing he did when he got up, was to give the drink to his killer rather than himself.
They asked him “why oh Ali?”
He replied: “Because he has committed an act, which has made him nervous, give him the drink first.”
Whoever this man is worshipping, I want to worship as well.
If this man is the slave, I want to meet The Master.
I wonder about those people who call Ali ‘God’.
How great a God we have, if Ali is His slave.
An alternative way to establish the existence of God is to step aside from the philosophical and rational arguments for a moment and look in the direction of this man. In the Shia tradition of supplications and salutations, the Ahlulbayt (peace be upon them) are referred to individually as ‘Proofs of God’. One needs to step back and think about the implications and meaning of giving these people such a title. It is a vote of confidence that suggests that if you want to believe in the existence of God, these 14 people are the only way you can have certainty that God exists.
As the common proverb refers to, we need to look no further than on the 19th of Ramadan to establish the existence of God when we see what Imam Ali (peace be upon him) did. This man, throughout his life, demonstrated such conduct that it can make the most sceptical person start to think as to why Imam Ali (peace be upon him) acted the way he did. If this person acts this way due to the belief in a God, how can anyone not want to worship this God? If worshipping such a God creates a perfect human being like Imam Ali (peace be upon him) then who would not want to believe in this God? The God that motivates humans to act the way Imam Ali (peace be upon him) did must be a reality. This cannot come from someone who believes in superstition or folklore. This is not someone who has psychologically created a deity to satisfy the need of something to believe in. This person believes in something real.
It is indeed true that there are many people in the world that do great things without believing in God and being motivated by Him. However, what we see from the Ahlulbayt is on another level. Moral excellence is a common trait amongst the Ahlulbayt hence they were given the titles of ‘Proofs of God’ in themselves; ditch the scientific and philosophical arguments as they will take you into an abyss of confusion. Whether you look at what Imam Ali’s son Imam Hussain did on the day of Ashura or what his great-grandson Imam Musa Al-Kadhim did whilst he was in prison, it points to a God. If they act like this because of God, this God must exist. A God that makes someone humble, forgiving, clement and an administrator of justice has to exist because such people who work for God cannot be wrong.
This is why Imam Ali, and the other members of the Ahlulbayt are seen as the only true way to recognise God. It is why in many narrations he is referred to as the ‘Face of God’. This is not done to anthropomorphize God, which goes against Islamic doctrine, rather it is through someone’s face we recognise them. It is through Imam Ali (peace be upon him) that God is recognised and acknowledged.
Peace be upon the Proof of God on earth.
Peace be upon the Commander of the Faithful.
Peace be upon Ali ibn Abu Talib.